Braves 8, Rockies 1

Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – May 19, 2009 – ESPN

Bobby, you there? Bobby isn’t reading, I’m sure, and it’s just a coincidence that after my suggestion last night he finally put his four best hitters, Escobar-Kotchman-Jones-McCann, in a row at the top of the order. And it worked! The Braves got a run in the first, Kotchman doubling with one out and coming home on a hit by McCann, though Brian was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a double.

In the second, KJ, hitting in the sixth spot (where he went 3-4) got things going with one out, and the Braves got help from the Rockies’ second baseman, who dropped a sure double play ball from Francoeur for all safe. Jurrjens drove in a run with two out on an infield single, Kotchman singled in Schafer, and Chipper drew the old bases-loaded walk to score Jurrjens to make it 4-0. The Rockies cut it to 4-1 in the third, but the Braves got two runs in the bottom of the inning on a single by Schafer. It was the first RBI single of his career, and his first hit to score a run of any kind since his homer the third game of the season. (He did drive in a run on a groundout in the comeback win on Friday.)

After that, Hibernation Mode set in, though you figured you had a pretty good shot with Jurrjens on the mound. He struck out eight and allowed three hits and three walks in seven innings; you do that, you’ll normally be in good shape. I was a bit concerned with his strikeout rate going in, so it was good to see. Leading 6-1, Bobby, because he is understandably not happy about the back of the bullpen, wound up using Soriano for a 1-2-3 eighth. After Francoeur (who sucks) and Escobar were hit by pitches in the bottom of the inning, Kotchman made it 8-1 with a double. Bobby came back with Gonzalez for the Atlanta Save anyway. Hey, it’s not like he’s a valuable commodity or something.

The lineup shift worked pretty well, with the two guys making the biggest moves going 3-5 with two doubles (Kotchman) and 3-4 (KJ). Everyone had a hit except Francoeur, who sucks.

82 thoughts on “Braves 8, Rockies 1”

  1. Ok guys, I do understand the concern of over-using relievers. I even understand not using your best relievers in a game where you are up by 5 and 7 runs. But how many days do you think these guys need to have off in a row? They have to keep on some kind of schedule.

  2. Brian was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a double

    lol is this a typo or a pun?

  3. Hampton had to leave his start today with a boo-boo on his thumb. I’m not making this up.

  4. AM I DREAMING?! I couldn’t believe it when I saw the batting order, that’s exactly what we have wanted Bobby to do! Ok, Bobby, kudos to you. I don’t say that often on Bobby. I am very happy. I hope he doesn’t revert back to the old order soon.

  5. #1,
    I agree. They both had 3 days off and they need to get regular work. If we need them 3 days in a row, we’ll regret the decision, but that’d be hindsight, and I don’t disapprove of the decision to use them tonight. By the way, check this out. I went a step farther in predicting the line-up than Mac. :)

    Rockies 5, Braves 1

    My thoughts on the batting order:
    No reason to go crazy over the batting order yet. We’re having a great night, and that’s plenty of reason to go crazy. But I’d like to see this line-up get hot and win 10 of their next 12 before I christen the new batting order as the solution to our offensive woes. Personally, I think we’ll be much better if Bobby sticks with this line-up, it’s much more optimal, but we’re probably still a bat away. Of course, maybe I’m wrong and this batting order IS the solution. That’d be awesome. We’ll have to wait and see. But great night for the Braves. Jair Jurrjens never ceases to impress me. He is a thrill to watch. And Kotchman had such an awesome game. I’m really starting to like that guy, and I like him a lot in the #2 spot. And maybe, just maybe, Kelly’s slump is over and he’ll be a consistent producer for the rest of the year. This is probably more wishful thinking than anything, but maybe he catches fire soon. Jordan Schafer had knocked in 1 of 46 runners in scoring position this season and knocked 2 in tonight. Their defense is responsible for the lop-sided score, but there’s no way they win the game even if they play perfect defense. We were on fire tonight, and nobody could stop us. May this continue. Jeff Francoeur = only Brave without a hit.

  6. K. Johnson 2b, 3-4, 2 R, SB
    J. Francoeur rf, 0-3, 1 R

    Take a guess who has the greatest chance of being on the pine tomorrow night? Yeah…

  7. I am going to admit it. I don’t think Franceour sucks. I don’t necessarily agree with Gadfly in his opinion and ways of expressing them. However, I see both sides.

    I believe Jeff has the tools to be an average Major League outfielder, however it is NOT going to happen in Atlanta. He needs a check up from the neck up. He needs out. He needs a fresh start.

    I hate it that the guy is struggling for the following reasons:

    Number 1, (MOST IMPORTANT) the offense is not good enough to withstand it.

    Number 2, He seems to be a decent person. He is active in the community. He seems like a nice guy who tries to do the right thing. He didn’t handle last year well, but there are alot worse people in the world to cheer for.

    My definition of ‘sucks’ is different than most. If you are in the majors, you don’t ‘suck’, however, you may not belong in MLB, but you don’t ‘suck’.

    I still think he can produce an OPS of .750-.780 if he gets the power going a little. I just don’t see it happening in Atlanta. I get the feeling he has too many irons in the fire and too many people are putting him under a microscope. It is obvious he can’t handle it. He needs a change and I think the braves need a change too.

  8. Nope, Francouer sucks. As a Major League baseball player, anyway. As a person–don’t know and don’t much care. As an ordinary individual, he’s no doubt a fine ballplayer, better than 99 percent of all living humans. But the only one that ought to count as an organization is that Francouer sucks as a Major League ballplayer.

  9. Seriously, hes getting an earful from 2 outsiders, and nothing from his team’s hitting coach. Why should TP have any reason to think Francoeur will be fine? That kind of annoys me.

  10. I have to say I agree with stupup’s post about Francoeur 100%. I think he said it perfectly.

  11. I think Jeff M and the rest of the blog have very valid points, and part of me agrees with all of you.

    Franceour’s issue is two fold,
    1. He is NOT as good as we thought he was and
    2. He is in a bad place mentally with his approach.

    Franceour is like the batter version of Mark Wohlers. I loved to watch Wohlers pitch, but once he gave up the HR to Leyritz and then his personal life fell apart he just LOST it. He didn’t just lose his talent, he just couldn’t produce (or throw strikes). I think Jeff is in a similar boat, except for the nasty Wohlers-like divorce.

    It got to the point that Wohlers had to go. He eventually regained some of his mojo later and did okay for himself. Hopefully Jeff can get it turned around some, maybe in a Braves uniform, but we can’t wait forever.

  12. This poll is way biased. No way as much as 5% of the fanbase doesn’t think that Francoeur sucks.

    KK seems to have his starts where he gives up a run every other inning, and then he has his starts where he gives up a run every inning. Good way to get a 6.00 ERA. He’s giving up a high average on balls in play though, so I guess he’s got a decent shot at improving. I’m not sure I see it happening.

  13. I don’t get what’s so great about what Jaramillo is trying to do with him — yes, if he sticks with it, he can dink and dunk his way to a .285/.325/.425 year, which gets him to the point where he’s merely not helping, instead of blatantly killing the offense. Where does that get him with us? Going into his fifth season, it should still get him a ticket out of town.

    That part about “if he gets the power going” is the problem. There’s a difference between being a big, rangy galoof who looks like he should be able to hit the ball a long way, and a guy with a power stroke. Francoeur has a huge dip in his swing, and will never hit the ball with any authority until that is fixed. He looks like he’s scooping the ball with the bat. It’s not a problem of approach, it’s a problem of mechanics.

    That’s what I think is being missed — it’s easy to look at, and listen to, the big jock who has never experienced failure before and say his problem is mental. I don’t think it is — I think his problem is physical. He has a bad swing.

  14. @18 – THANK YOU sansho. I have been saying that all along. The guy has a horrible swing. Too long and slow. The mental problems might make it worse, but his mind will never make up for that swing. Oh yeah, and Frenchy SUCKS!

  15. Mets lose (3 in a row), Phils win (5 in a row) & return to 1st place.

    And if Jeff Francoeur doesn’t suck at playing MLB, then exactly who does trigger the suck-o-meter?

  16. I agree with sansho. Frenchy clearly has a big mechanical flaw. This, understandably, can lead to mental problems, but correcting the former will solve the latter as well.

  17. The problem is he doesn’t seem to want to correct it. Rudy gave him a partial solution to his woes. He abandoned it.

  18. Jurrjens had a really good night tonight. I hope we make the playoffs, because our three man rotation is destructive.

  19. Always love the “he’s got the tools” argument. He doesn’t hit for average, he doesn’t hit for power, and he doesn’t walk. If you play a hitters position with that profile, your toolbox is empty.

  20. Yeap, he still has that tendancy to try getting away with his so called natural talent…the so-called aggressiveness.

  21. I am Nostradamus.

    braves14 Apr 20, 2009 at 2:25 am 45


    I don’t think anyone here is hoping Francoeur will fail. It’s just that some of us on here don’t think that this level of success will last. It seems like common sense to me. His BABIP is very high and eventually that will come down a bit, and he will not be batting .330ish all year.

    That said, his approach and swing does look a lot better this year.

  22. braves14, we just know our own Jeffrey way too well…much better than Jeffrey knowing himself!

  23. To join the ‘Jeffrey’ discussion late, I guess what I want to know is how long? How long will his reign in RF last?…and I am afraid of the answer.

    On a positive note, Gorkys continues to hit…

  24. Stephen, the question to answer your question is “when is Frenchy becoming a FA?”

    Gorkys is hitting well, but I think he is striking out at “Cody’s rate”.

  25. Cody is the strikeout king for the Braves’ system–especially with his last mini slump.

    With Gorkys we are still looking at a very solid OBP in a pretty tough league…

  26. I fear that Cody’s going to turn into a left-handed version of Mike Hessman.

  27. Great pitching, timely hitting, punishing a team for an error. All good stuff. The lineup actually made sense. You have to give your best hitters the most at bats.

    Some here have said that the Braves rushed Jeff Francouer. Maybe, maybe not. Take a look at McCann’s minor league stats. Nothing there indicated that he would become the best hitting catcher in the NL.

  28. Not to change the subject, but if any of you are in the Augusta area, the Augusta and Boston papers are reporting that Smoltz will make a rehab start here tomorrow night. As an added bonus, it’s Thirsty Thursday ($1 beers and cokes).

  29. McCann had some better peripheral stats and was showing some improvement. Below, I compare their performances is a few I areas that I have found to be important in determining major-league success from minor-league stats. I exclude anything below A+ ball, because I find those stats to be virtually meaningless. I exclude Jeff’s short time in Greenville, that was really injury recovery time (and his stats were really bad there). I also exclude demotion/rehab trips. Thus, we have a nice clean comparison.

    Players Team Year BB% K% Iso AVG

    McCann MB 2004 7.45% 14.03% 0.216 0.278
    McCann MS 2005 12.63% 15.66% 0.211 0.265

    Frenchy MB 2004 6.18% 20.96% 0.213 0.293
    Frenchy MS 2005 5.72% 22.69% 0.212 0.275

    In terms of power and average, they are virtually equal. When it comes to walks and strikeouts, they are quite different. McCann’s walk rate was eh, but improved to good. Frenchy’s was just bleh. In terms of Ks, Frenchy’s rate was 50% higher then McCann’s.

  30. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t see how the Braves (or any team for that matter) could waste good starting pitching. However, with the paltry crowds, the sucky economy, and no immediate help from the farm, we may just be saddled with our current lineup. We can only hope that KJ gets more consistent, Schafer immproves (he’s looked better of late) and no one gets hurt. And Francoeur sucks. I just hate watching him hit.

  31. Didn’t Frenchy “produce” two runs last night? He hit a ground ball that was booted and then scored a run. Doesn’t that count as producing runs in the Bizaaro universe?

    Bobby is already tamping down expectations:

    “It’s a good lineup,” said Cox, who likely will tinker again tonight against a left-hander. “It’s not going to produce every single night, nobody does. But it’s a good one.”

    How about two games in a row?

  32. I was satisfied with Jeff in 2007. (I know there’s disagreement about even that.) And I understand why at his age one could reasonably expect, or at least hope for, a return to that.

    But, I conclude it’s not happening. The sample size is too large. If all we need is a 7th hitter, Infante could do that much.

  33. It’s really been great to watch Jair mature into one of MLB’s best young pitchers. I figured we see a little bit of a slump from him out of the gate this year, but he hasn’t missed a beat.

  34. Good lineups might not produce EVERY single night, but they can produce a lot of nights. The Nats have scored five runs in something like 10 straight games (even though they have lost nine). It’s annoying that Bobby is already making excuses for the next time (tonight?) that the offense struggles. He seems to spend most of his time exonerating the players for previous or anticipated failures.

    Maybe the players like his schtick because it makes them feel better but it hasn’t seemed to help their performance in recent years and it drives me nuts.

  35. A win tonight would give us 9 of 13—not a bad little run, despite the lamentable state of our lineup. Nice to have the 3 good starters.

    Also, it’s nice to see the D-Train come back strong last night.

    Here’s another look at the new Yankee Stadium:

  36. Ububba,

    True, but if they lose tonight, it’s 12 out of 16 at home and below .500. Bobby always used to say you need 40 or so games to evaluate the team and, at this point, they are a .500 team.

    Jim Bouton once said (in Ball Four I guess) that if you give a team an excuse to fail, they will. That seems to be increasingly what Bobby does these days–can’t produce every
    night, we are just unlucky, wait till we get Anderson back, it’s early in the season, etc. And the players mirror the manager; there just seems to no urgency. I guess you could argue, as TP does, the opposite–that they are trying too hard. But it’s a circular argument–they aren’t scoring many runs because they are trying to hard because they aren’t scoring many runs. At some point, you have to stop making excuses or go out and get new players. And, as bad as Frency is, you can’t use him as the sole reason–lots of teams have unproductive spots in the order. Of course, the Braves have three such spots.

  37. Ububba,

    I understand. It’s just that whenever the Braves seem to be showing some life, something seems to happen to set them back.

  38. If Kelly Johnson and Jeff Francoeur had a baby, it would probably look like ” rel=”nofollow”>this.

  39. Joshua @ 1 on short reliever usage,

    Bruce Sutter (in his “pre-Braves”, and therefore pre-suckage, days) used to say he didn’t want to pitch more than 2 days in a row or miss more than 2 days in a row. This was while he was a “one inning” guy.

    Jim Leyland has always done well trying to prevent any short reliever from getting above the pro-rated portion of 75 appearances to 162 over the part of the season involved. in other words, at Game 40, appearances should not exceed 18. Leyland has had good results on low injury and good performance on short relievers.

  40. And there’s waaaay too much Franchy talk again after last night’s game. JJ’s da MAN!

  41. @53

    We scored some decent tickets at the Royals game last night. DeRo was playing third. After every half inning, my brother and I yelled, “You’re still the man DeRo” as he walked into the dugout

    After the 7th, (Right before Kerry Wood blew a three run lead that was awesome) we yelled it again, and he finally looked up, smiled, and tossed my brother the baseball.

    We ended up giving the ball to a little kid who attacked with the puppy dog eyes, (plus we felt like we owed him cause we were drinking/cussing all game and I’m sure his parents hated us) but it was a cool ballpark moment.

  42. Trade Frenchy for DeRo straight up?

    Naw the Indians are too smart.

    @36 do those numbers for McCann say star? Besides the Braves don’t look at extended stats. Or even regular stats or they wouldn’t be playing Stenchy every damn game.

    Ok I’ll take the pledge: I Johnny will try my ass off NOT to bitch about Jeff Francouer’s dismal play this season.

    Marc, dang man Ububba had me feeling all good and you had to go and throw some reality on me. :)

  43. We don’t need Derosa. If we want to stick a utility infielder in the outfield, we can just use Prado, Infante, or Norton. Getting Norton a few more ABs by platooning him with Jeffy would make sense anyway. I’d at least like to see what Reyes looks like coming out of the pen a few times before we trade him away anyway.

  44. Johnny,

    Ububba sees the glass half-full and I see it half-empty. Ububba’s probably the happier man.

  45. Shapiro would fire up DiamondView and it would probably automatically shut down the computer upon typing “Jeff Francoeur.”

  46. All of the Francoeur articles are like a rolling joke over at the Baseball Think Factory.

  47. We really should be able to get a deal done with the National’s for one of their OFs. Austin Kearns for JoJo? I realize Kearns sucks, but he’s clearly better than Anderson or Frenchy. Or Josh Willingham. I’d take him, too. Or, hell, Willie Harris. I wouldn’t mind playing Willy Harris. At least he’ll take a walk. Hey, remember when he had that four-hit day?

    How bad is it that every OF on the Nationals roster is better than two out of the three guys who get the most PT for the Braves?

    But I guess the real problem is Frenchy. You just can’t get rid of him. Unless they send him down to the minors (and I think last year showed that this was a non-starter), he’s stuck playing every day because Cox won’t bench him and Wren won’t release him. People don’t just hate Frenchy because he sucks. They hate him because he sucks and still plays every day for years and years on end.

  48. Hey, remember when he had that four-hit day?

    I think it was a six-hit day, actually.

  49. Willingham would have been a great move in the off season, pre or post Florida, but with Milledge in AAA, that ship has probably sailed. Shame – he’s cheap. good and undervalued.

    edit – in short , everything Frenchy isn’t

  50. But I guess the real problem is Frenchy.

    From a management stand point Frank Wren inherited two major problems. The first – how to part ways with John Smoltz as he aged – was solved for him by the player. The second – how to get rid of Jeff Francoeur as it becomes more and more apparent that he is not a major league quality hitter – is less tractable due to Francoeur’s age. But I have complete faith that if Francoeur continues to hit like Damon Berryhill – check the lines – he will be cut prior to 2010. This is his last chance to keep his job in Atlanta. Come next season, the 2-year rebuild will be in completion phase and he will be gone.

  51. Deal Jo Jo for an outfielder? Hell, yeah.

    BTW, Marc, thanks for reminding me about Ball Four.

    I picked up a used copy a couple months ago & then totally forgot about it. Got some airplane time ahead of me, gotta re-read that one. That was one of my fave baseball books when I was a kid.

    A few others:
    When the Grass Was Real: Baseball from the ’20s to ’40s by Donald Honig. Basically a slightly more colorful update of Glory of Their Times, which (shamefully) I finally read this past Xmas.

    The Year the Mets Lost Last Place by Paul D. Zimmerman & Dick Schaap. A really hysterical inside look at a crucial period of the ’69 Mets season. The bit about Wrigley Field is classic & who knew Joe Pignatano was such a comedian?

    Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game by Jimmy Breslin. The ’62 Mets with lotsa Casey Stengel & plenty of madcap antics. The book reads like a series of punchlines.

    The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn. Hard to read that & not fall completely for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Also, it’s the kind of book that actually inspires you to write.

    The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle & Peter Golenbock. Makes Ball Four seem like Dr. Seuss.

  52. Those of you with youth baseball players will understand this:

    What Bobby is doing is playing DaddyBall at the Major League level. It is beyond belief that management puts up with it.

  53. @71

    Speaking of baseball books, yesterday I was trying to think of the name of one I read as a kid. It was about the youngest child of a large family, all of whom were into various intellectual pursuits — one played chess, another was in the physics club, etc. The parents were also academics.

    The kid decides he wants to play baseball, but is afraid to tell any of his family lest they call it a waste of time. So he concocts some egghead cover story to explain his whereabouts and joins Little League. At first he’s terrible, but gradually improves into one of the best players in the league.

    Finally, the day of the championship game arrives and, overcome with guilt, finally fesses up to the family, whereupon they show him the scrapbook of his season’s achievements that they were secretly keeping all along. Just a great, great story for kids and young adolescents. Anybody remember this? It had to be written more than 30 years ago.

  54. Willingham would have been a great move in the off season, pre or post Florida, but with Milledge in AAA, that ship has probably sailed. Shame – he’s cheap. good and undervalued.

    Yeah, when Willingham (with Olsen) and Swisher were both traded for practically nothing this offseason, AAR and I (and perhaps others) were whining about it.

    Still bitter about not getting Swisher.

  55. #19

    You nailed it. The “it’s all mental” is just a copout obscuring the real problem, which is poor mechanics, no feel for the strike zone, and a poor approach to hitting.

  56. When Nady comes off the DL, you might be able to get Swisher for some pitching.

  57. Jeff Albert pretty much nailed Francoeur’s mechanical problems in June 2006. Albert is now a minor-league hitting coach with the Cardinals. I think the mental problems have exacerbated an already problematic situation.

  58. I was at the National game last night sitting above the Pirate bullpen and I couldn’t help thinking about Bouton’s stories about the guys in his day out in the bullpen. One of the pitchers got into it verbally with a guy sitting in front of me who was haranguing them all night to give him a ball and then started talking about how they sucked when they wouldn’t. It was pretty funny but I was surprised the pitcher would actually react to what was very mild stuff–much tamer than what I am sure they get in NY or Philly.

  59. @75: “[P]oor mechanics, no feel for the strike zone, and a poor approach to hitting.” – And which part of this isn’t primarily mental?

    As they say 90% of this game is half mental. This doesn’t excuse mental problems, of course, but identification of the problem helps.

  60. Jason Heyward was 3-for-4 with a double today.

    Ladies and gentlemen: Your 2010 Atlanta Braves starting right fielder!

    In other news, Kody Johnson did not strike out today.

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