Braves 4, D-Backs 3

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – May 15, 2009 – ESPN

Hey, the Braves are above .500! Not that they made it easy. Javier Vazquez gave up a pair of first-inning runs, but then shut Arizona down, allowing just three hits after the first and striking out ten. And the Braves rallied in the second to tie it up, getting runs on a throwing error by the pitcher (take the out, stupid!) and a fielder’s choice. In the third, Chipper hit a solo homer, his fourth. That’s a team high, as you probably know. We could use a few more.

And with a minuscule 3-2 lead, Hibernation Mode set in, eleven Braves in a row retired before Francoeur broke the string with a walk. (!) He was of course stranded, and it stayed 3-2 to the ninth. Mike Gonzalez had a whole day off and everything, but still gave up a game-tying leadoff homer.

In the bottom of the inning, though, Schafer hit a one-out single, and KJ, pinch-hitting, worked a walk. Infante singled, but it wasn’t deep enough to get the run home. Escobar, however, hit a fly ball that was deep enough to score Schafer and win the game. Gonzalez got the win, though he didn’t deserve it.

45 thoughts on “Braves 4, D-Backs 3”

  1. AJC

    “This guy has been absolutely dominant,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “Also we’re looking at a time window; that’s the other consideration. I think if we were looking at the long haul, and there was a situation for a starter to come up and be a starter for the rest of the season, it would probably be Tommy [Hanson].”

    I think I would have kept that last part to myself.

  2. for those of you not watching last night, chipper called a meeting before the game and let the team know to stay focused and hungry. I’m liking this more outspoken chipper. joe said that the meeting was very uncharacteristic of the braves.

  3. @2

    Wren does know that Medlen projects to be a solid MLB starter over “the long haul,” right? Right?

  4. Oddly, last night’s win gave me more confidence than the more stirring wins in New York and Philadelphia.

    When you play just well enough to win and actually do so, that bespeaks a solid club.

  5. Adam M–If I remember correctly Sickels and others are not sure themselves. Sickels took the easy way out–arguing that Medlen would make a good swing man.

    That said, this is a pitcher that only a year ago was being hammered at AA as a reliever. The Braves experimented with him as a starter and he has just continued to get better. Therefore, I am not sure anybody is all that confident in anticipating his future trajectory….

  6. Fascinating, sansho. I suspect there’s some Zen solution that requires seeing past both the physical and perceptual movement to find the “true” location.

    Or, I could just be high.

  7. #9–THanks. Actually, in this part of the Gulf we are supposed to call it the ‘Arabian Gulf’….

    More important, before Medlen begins to face big league hitters, it is pretty neat to think that the Braves may have caught lightning in a bottle….

  8. @8 Fair points, though I’d point out he pitched extremely well in relief in 2007, and most certainly did not get hammered. Both at Rome and Myrtle Beach he struck more than a batter per inning while keeping his groundball rate well above 50%. He has been lights out the past two years and this season is off to a torrid start. I think scouts are just hesitant to forecast for guys whose plus pitches are not fastballs; Medlen’s is a changeup.

  9. I hope Medlen is more than the ’09 version of Charlie Morton — lightswitch goes on in AAA, then back off in the bigs. Looking at his minor league numbers, I see reasons for optimism. Very good K, K/BB, and HR rates, and his ERA doesn’t mask a large number of unearned runs. He’s been age-appropriate at his levels of play.

    Looks like he can field and hit a little bit, too. He even stole a couple of bases last year. I know those things aren’t of paramount importance in and of themselves, but I like to see the signposts of overall athleticism.

  10. Adam M–True enough–but when he did get hit hard it came with the promotion to AA. Normally, that type of result tends to make the previous numbers much less significant.

    I think you are right about the prejudice about ‘plus pitches’ which are not fastballs. Another thing that works against projecting Medlen as a frontline starter is his height. He will certainly be one of the shortest righthander starters in baseball.

    Happily enough, if he continues to pitch brilliantly it won’t matter what scouts and fans thought of him as he sped through the minors….

  11. More on Medlen –

    He was a shortstop in JuCo, so he defends his position well and can hit a little. He has been used as a pinch hitter on the Braves’ farm.

    Additionally, his best pitch is not a change, but his curve. That has been his out pitch and called “special” by analysts.

    His fastball has become more effective over the last year plus. I think he took a couple of ticks of the heater and got more movement on it. Previously, he may have been pitching through late movement.

    His change is probably his third pitch, but it works.

  12. Thanks Parish….I wonder what the difference is between a ‘plus’ pitch and one that is ‘special’…

  13. I guess we will have a chance to see it ourselves. Very excited about Medlen’s promotion.

    I enjoyed watching the bottom of the ninth inning last night. Balance attack…no need to wait for Chipper to start anything only to see Frenchy kills all the hope. It’s a great feeling to have Yunel at the plate with the bases loaded one out. Absolutely love Yunel.

  14. Until KC’s post, I thought that Medlen was just speculation.

    I really don’t get it. Morton is on the 40 man. He is already guaranteed $150,000 at minor league level for the year if he is never activated (because he came up last year). And somebody has to drop off the 40 man to get him on.

    What is “first date available” for Glavine if they retro him to 60 day D/L? Maybe the same thing with Campillo? That may be the play. Otherwise, it looks like somebody has to be cut.

    Plus, to this point, I don’t see how there is more evidence that Medlen can effectively start than Morton. Not that there is more that Morton can be better, just that there is no way to rate Medlen better unless it is a hunch or guess.

  15. I too am a little surprised its Medlen over Morton. I would like to see him get seasoned further in the Minors, I hate rushing guys into the majors because they are hot.
    Hopefully they have a plan, maybe just a cup o’ coffee to expose him or something.

  16. If Wheeler is there, I think probably that is who the Braves take. It is just too much “in the pattern.” HS pitcher, from Georgia, rising somewhat late on the charts.

    With Boras in the picture, I just don’t see the Braves going for Donovan Tate.

  17. I’d say they either want Morton to have some more time at AAA because he missed most of ST, or they are looking to showcase Medlen for a trade. I’m ok with either of these explanations. If we were to, say put JOJO and Medlen on the trading block, what do you guys think we could get in return?

  18. Mac,

    How did we get a 40 man spot? I know we were dead even late in spring training. I thought Hudson to 60 day D/L let Schaffer come on 40 man. Boyer went off, but Barton should have gone on.

    Only way I can figure it is either Glavine or Campillo is on 60 day D/L.

    Did something else happen?

  19. Bethany at 27,

    TINSTAAPP will factor in to that.

    Somebody rebuilding could be interested in one or both. Anybody wanting to make a move for this year’s pennant race wouldn’t be looking at them because Jo Jo so far as proven himself not to be Major League ready (he may be a 3 or 4 starter someday, but he isn’t likely to be that anytime this year) and Medlen has only been “on the charts” for a short time so everybody has to discount him a little as “maybe a flash in the pan”.

    So, Kotchman, Jo Jo and Medlen for Adrian Gonzalez? That would make us and the Padres both better. It wouldn’t add a lot of salary (because moving Kotchman clears part of Gonzalez). But, if they move Peavy, Gonzalez is the only reason to pay for a ticket in San Diego.

    An “upper minors hitter, very good” should make sense from another club for the two, but unlikely to be superior or ML proven hitter.

    IF Duncah, Ankiel, and Ludwick all get healthy, and IF Carpenter doesn’t keep coming on, the Cards SHOULD trade an outfieldr for pitching help.

    AND IF, Medlen gets 2 or 3 good starts, KJ (or maybe Prado) and Medlen for Ludwick would make sense both ways.

    Just some thoughts.

    It is great to have an organizational pitching surplus like this, but FO, manage it well.

  20. Wheeler would be a nice addition and the Braves may well take him, but with the #7 pick I had hoped that they might get a top notch position player.

    In 2003, for instance, the Orioles had the #7 pick and took Nick Markakis; in 2005 Troy Tulowitzki was selected; 2002–it was Prince Fielder (after Greinke) and while every draft is different, my hope is to see the Braves get a position player. After all, the Braves have almost no solid position players in the lower minors….

  21. The showcase theory makes some sense. I don’t know that I like it, necessarily, but I certainly see the logic. I also assumed we’d be following JoJo’s last best chance with Morton’s.

  22. Man, whoever thought that Ibanez deal would turn bad for the Phillies was dead wrong. He’s got 2 more dingers today…

  23. No one said it was a bad idea, just that they over-paid given the market. And they did.

  24. I don’t know where the theory of showcasing began, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. Maybe 50 years ago, but not today.

    Why showcase a guy in the majors? It’s not like scouts don’t know where Gwinnett is. If this is a showcase–and I don’t think it is–shame on the Braves for using meaningful games as a demonstration floor.

  25. Pitching, esp young cheap pitching seems to be at SUCH a premium these days, I am not sure why I would worry too much about positional scarcity in the organization. Quality OF/1B types can be acquired (well by everybody except us apparently) at a lower marginal cost. Wheeler is right around #2-3 on most pitching boards – I’d probably take him.

  26. OR….maybe they think Medlin is ready to contribute while giving Hanson some more time at AAA to work on his game?

    I know..what a maroon I am for suggesting that.

  27. cliff…really? KJ/Prado AND Medlen for Ludwick? – I don’t think I would do Medlen for Ludwick straight up at this point.

  28. It’s likely they’re just rewarding Medlen for having the best numbers at AAA.

  29. It seems like they’ll send Medlen down when Glavine is ready to keep him away from Super 2 status. Which is a good decision if you ask me.

  30. Just for general edification, the Super 2 rule is as follows

    The top 17 percent of players with at least 2 but less than 3 years of Major League service. These are known as “Super 2” players. To qualify as a Super 2, a player must have accumulated at least 86 days of service in the previous year. Historically, the cutoff point for Super 2 status is 2 years, 128 days of service, though the requirement has been as high as 2 years, 140 days in years past.

    It will be hard for someone to make it unless the are called up to stay at this point.

  31. I think that the Braves are doing more than just rewarding impressive numbers. While he does not have Hanson or even Morton’s potential, he has the chance to be a successful pitcher at the big league level. Over the last year Medlen’s stock has risen and so the Braves probably believe that he can a solid contribution. This is going to be an intersting promotion and debut….

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