Braves 2, Red Sox 1

Boston Red Sox vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – June 28, 2009 – ESPN

Should’ve had a shutout.

Tommy Hanson continues to baffle hitters, and this time he wasn’t effectively wild, he was just plain effective, going six innings and allowing just two hits and two walks. He was only credited with two strikeouts, but that was largely because the home plate umpire simply refused to call strike three — he froze about three other batters but didn’t get the call.

Of course, he just knows how to win. Chipper, who as I’ve noted has been slumping terribly, hit a solo homer in the first, and ACHE, the world’s laziest outfielder, hit a solo shot in the fourth. So, as you can see, the Braves still can’t hit with runners in scoring position. Hanson, actually, should have had an RBI except that Francoeur, who sucks, is also a moron, and got thrown out at third on a grounder to short, which Hanson followed with a hit. I think it was one of only two hits with runners on base the Braves had all series.

O’Flaherty got in trouble in the seventh on a double and an error by KJ, but Moylan came in and got a double play to escape the jam. Soriano pitched the eighth in his usual fashion — completely unhittable. Gonzalez got the ninth this time, and allowed a one-out hit, then got a double play ball to end it, only to have KJ pull a mental Prado (speaking of, there’s now no reason at all to not make him the starter) and instead of going 4-6-3 tried to chase the runner back, got the hitter at first, and then Hernandez screwed up the rundown. Typically, the runner went to second on defensive indifference (I hate that) and scored on a single. Gonzalez got a strikeout to end it, though.

279 thoughts on “Braves 2, Red Sox 1”

  1. We need a new pole. This one seems to imply that there is something redeeming about having Kotchman as your everyday 1B, and that’s simply not true.

  2. For what it’s worth, it was Kotchman who botched the run-down, not Hernandez. He didn’t even pretend to run Youk back toward second before throwing to the shortstop. That allowed the runner to get back to first before Hernandez could throw back to Johnson covering. KJ should have taken the easy 4-6-3 but once he made the throw to first the run-down failed because of Kotchman.

    Who, in case no one is watching, also sort of sucks.

  3. I don’t know if Kelly would have turned the double play in the 9th. And if he could have, it would have been very difficult. I think he played it right by freezing the runner and nailing the runner at first. Kotchman then played it right by throwing immediately to second. Who REALLY messed twice was Hernandez by waiting way too long to throw back to first, and then making a bad throw. Chip or Buck or whichever ruh-tard was speaking was blaming KJ, but that would have been a tough DP to turn.

    ACHE had a good game today with the HR and the double. He may not be a Mike Gonzalez or Yunel Escobar and show a ton of emotion, but he’s starting to each his paycheck. He’s not walking, but he’s hitting for average and actually hitting with a little power. FWIW, he’s hitting .299/.329/.429 in June, which is good enough for a left fielder we’re not paying much.

    I really would like to see them make a deal for somebody, but I don’t think we can make the right deal to improve the team long-term. It would be nice if we could make another McLouth-type deal (a player who fills a long-term need as well), but I don’t know of a player out there. And I’m also worried that we’re hanging by in a crappy division long enough for Wren to think we’re pretty good and make another Teixeira deal.

  4. Francouer, who sucks, is also a moron.

    Thanks for the laugh, Mac. Geez, even our wins are embarassing.

  5. Sam, the problem with the baseman that is behind the runner running the runner toward the next base is that, if you wait even a second too long, you let the runner get the next base. You’re taught to, if anything, throw too early so that the worst case scenario is that the runner doesn’t advance. It’s a tough play, but really, Diory is the one who made a bad, late throw.

  6. Rob,
    You’re also taught to understand the situation.

    KJ has to know that Ortiz, a lumbering mammoth, is the hitter. The worst thing that happens there is, if you don’t turn 2, the slowest guy in the universe is tethered to 1B.

    The rundown was botched, but it never should’ve gotten to that point.

    BTW, last 10 games for Garret Anderson: 15 for 39, 385/400/589 with 5 2B, 1 HR & 8 RBI. Not a bad little run for a team with no offense.

    Can somebody else get hot…please?

  7. Yeah, even if he just gets the force — and I think they should have turned it — with Ortiz running, the Braves would have gotten the shutout.

  8. I think it’s easy to second-guess a decision like that, but slow choppers like that are really hard for second basemen to turn (especially since KJ is no Gold Glover), especially when the runner freezes. The runner freezes, which means that you can go ahead and throw to first and you still should be able to get the out. Of the three people involved in the play, KJ was the least at fault, which is rare.

  9. Yeah – Defensive Indifference?!?

    It’s a free chance for an out. With absolutely nothing to lose, why do so many teams refuse to make a play on that runner? Who cares if you throw it into centerfield?

  10. Sam, the problem with the baseman that is behind the runner running the runner toward the next base is that, if you wait even a second too long, you let the runner get the next base. You’re taught to, if anything, throw too early so that the worst case scenario is that the runner doesn’t advance. It’s a tough play, but really, Diory is the one who made a bad, late throw.

    Diory was the least of the problems. KJ made a bad choice, clearly not remembering Ortiz was the hitter. That’s a very easy 4-6-3 he made more difficult. And as Sam noted above, Kotchman threw to second way too early in the rundown putting Diory in a tight spot that he – of course – did not handle well.

    I toggled between the Braves game and the USA-Brazil soccer game. The soccer game was faster paced, more exciting and higher scoring. Braves Baseball – Even More Boring Than Soccer.

  11. Kotchman didn’t botch it. You’re not supposed to run them to the advancing bag. always make the play happen at the retreating bag. Once he commits to second, you give it up. They had enough time to get him at first.

  12. Yeah, Robert, I guess we just have to disagree on this one. Most second basemen aren’t going to make that play, but you just keep expecting a converted outfielder to play like Robbie Alomar.

  13. I agree with Rob on this one. It was a slow chopper to KJ that he got pretty much in the basepath. He was too far away from second for an underhand and getting anything on a toss to second would’ve been tough. I think he played it right trying to tag Youk.

  14. i thought the play was clearly KJ’s to make….and he screwed it up…… when there’s an easy forceout to be made, you never opt to start chasing somone around the bases(plays at home are different)……… i have some of my wifes’ Philly fan family here and they got a good laugh out of it.

  15. I just watched it quite a few times again. There’s no way KJ can flip that ball with anything on it to the shortstop in enough time to get even a slow guy like Ortiz. Instead, he’d have to pivot, turn and throw overhand to short, and still try to get Ortiz. KJ takes two steps towards the runner and throws to first, and Ortiz is already in view pretty close to the bag. There’s no way he turns that.

    Wait, who the heck cares? We won!

  16. Yeah, Robert, I guess we just have to disagree on this one. Most second basemen aren’t going to make that play, but you just keep expecting a converted outfielder to play like Robbie Alomar.

    You have to be Robbie Alomar to pick a up ground ball and throw it to second? I must have missed that.

    After he made his initial choice, KJ played it fine. But, I’m sorry there is no way Big Poppy beats out the throw if he makes a good feed to Diory.

  17. Johnson has to stop his momentum (going toward home to field the ball), spin 180 degrees and throw to 2B with something on it, then Hernandez has to throw back to 1B and not hit Johnson with the relay to first. Sure, you probably make the play and maybe get the slow runner at 1B for the double play, but there’s also a significant chance that you fail to pick up Hernandez coming across the bag and throw the ball into CF. I have no real problem with taking the sure out and trusting your teammates to execute a simple run-down.

  18. Agreed the KJ’s choice wasn’t a big deal. Why is everyone acting like having someone in a rundown is a hard play to execute? It should be one of the simplest plays to get an out on. At a professional level, how many do you really see that ever work. Totally not KJs fault. But I guess when you are doing a bad job at the plate, you don’t get a break on anything.

  19. I originally thought we would call today’s as the one which end our season. Instead Hanson showed up, what’s wrong with this kid? I hope he doesn’t spend too much time hanging out with Frenchy and KJ.

  20. But I guess when you are doing a bad job at the plate, you don’t get a break on anything.

    I think that’s the issue. If KJ’s raking, people wouldn’t be railing him. A lot of people on this board simplify a player’s entire contribution to his performance at the plate, so when a player is struggled in the box, they can’t do anything right. Like I said earlier, I think it’s because of exactly that that I can conclude Frenchy is really good out in right. The guy could save 10 kids from a burning building, and someone would call him a bum for not putting out the fire. And yet, nothing about his defense. Homeboy must be Willy Mays out there…

  21. Tommy Hanson is the only reason to watch the braves right now.

    The rundown was KJs fault, just make the simple play at 2nd. Even if you don’t turn it Ortiz is either running and clogging the bases with 2 down, or they have to run for him.

    I went to the game yesterday, and I am not the biggest Vasquez fan, but yesterday he got squeezed on the 2 hitters before Kotsay. Then Kotsay hit a great pitch. Yesterday was totally not his fault and maybe was the best game he has pitched as a brave. (Not even mentioning the offensive offense in that one.)

    I don’t think umpires win or lose games like we fans think they do, but during the last two series they sure ain’t helped us any. I doubt any braves pitcher got the benefit of any doubt on any pitch over the last 7 days.

  22. Umpires have sucked lately. Getting almost as bad as the NBA. Get some guys out there that know what the hell they are doing…

  23. Got a question for you guys about Braves in the All-Star game. I think we all know that McCann will be going again, but does anyone think Soriano has a shot at making the team? His stats are pretty damn good. Better than Duchscherer when he made it as a setup man and far far better than Marmol’s stats were at the break last year.

  24. our south african player furstenburg continues to rake. this guy needs to be kept in close watch over the next few months. he might be at the beach by season’s end if this keeps up, assuming freddie is in mississippi. he’s already 21. danville looks to be our only offensive heavy team and they are crushing the ball.
    http://tinyurl.com/me6k3l

  25. If any setup man makes the NL squad, it almost has to be Soriano. I just looked at the NL reliever stats, and he’s been far and away the most dominant setup man in the league.

  26. What is the difference between Alaska and Jeff Francouer? Even Alaska gets hot every once in a while.

  27. #28 – There are several guys destroying the ball at Danville. Adam Milligan may have done the most so far, though.

  28. There are a lot of sluggers at Danville and three more at Myrtle Beach (Heyward, Freeman and Cody Johnson.) All of them play 1B or the outfield. Schafer went 2-5 with a stolen base (2 strikeouts) in his first game off the DL at Gwinnett.

  29. can someone explain the origin of the “knowing how to win” thing…

    i’m guessing it was something joe simpson or chip caray said ..

  30. Nah, though I think someone here said it about Vazquez. It goes way back — at least to the people who push for Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame.

  31. Rob, the only reason why KJ is on the field is because of his bat. If he can’t hit, there is no reason why he should be on the field because his defense has never been good.

    The only difference between ACHE and Frenchy is that at least Frenchy can still throw out baserunners. Otherwise, they are both very slow. Frenchy’s defense has also regressed a great deal from his rookie season in terms of range. Gaining weight was a very bad idea.

  32. Frenchy is clearly having a bounceback year defensively. He’s lost the weight he put on last year, looks faster (though not FAST) to me, is making more plays and hasn’t screwed up. It’s possible to say that and not be a fanboy.

  33. sansho1, that will make Frenchy a decent backup outfielder! I think ACHE still has decent value to an AL team which in need for a DH.

  34. “I probably would have gotten a day off this weekend,” Jones said. “But Nate pulled his hamstring and Escobar did something.”

    It’s funny Chipper used the word “something” to describe why Yunel is not in the lineup. That tells me it’s not because of injury.

    “He’s [Hanson] got great poise,” Chipper Jones said. “You can have all the stuff in the world, but if you have a rock for a brain and not real good nerves, this game is going to get the best of you.”

    JEFFREY!!! Ok, he was talking about a pitcher….JOJO!!!

  35. #33 – exactly why he isnt starting, here is the note from the braves website….#41 – keep reading the article

    “While Escobar is likely still bothered by this hip ailment that has troubled him over the past month, there is strong suspicion that his absence is a punitive response to the unprofessional reaction he provided after being charged with an error during Thursday night’s game against the Yankees.”

    Yunel, who I like, might be forcing his way out of Atl

  36. csg, I read that, but I think what Chipper said tells us more than what Bowman writes…even though we can probably believe in what Bowman writes 80% of the time.

  37. Let’s trade Yunel, Frenchy, and JoJo to the Rangers for Elvis (I want him back!) and an outfielder!

  38. Er…Stephen…Kimbrel is back with MB and promptly allowed a two-run homerun….oh, I didn’t know today is his second game back…his first outing was good…

  39. Shafer is back going 2 for 5….with 2ks…keep working Jordan…

    …Marek has been promoted to Gwinnett…

  40. From the outside- and with the caveat that I clearly have no idea what goes on inside the Braves’ clubhouse- it doesn’t seem like management is very consistent with how they handle “unprofessional” outbursts from the players. If I were a player, I would value a consistent approach above everything else- it could be tough or lenient, but as long as it was consistent then I’d feel I was being fairly treated. Seems like something that would be important to correct.

  41. If Escobar was benched for three games, that’s more punishment than Francoeur got for consistently sucking last year. And any punishment is more than Jeffy got for whining.

  42. If Bobby Cox is the driving force behind this inconsistency (and if he’s not, that is a different problem) then that might be a cogent argument towards him stepping down. I am not advocating that, but since his designation as a “player’s manager” and subsequently a reason why free agents might come play for the Braves is normally cited as a strength and probably relies somewhat on a fair approach to discipline, a dramatic change in his approach somewhat weakens that claim.

  43. Here’s the thing about people wanting Cox to go. You can say it as many times and as loudly as you please — he’s going to leave when he’s ready to leave, and not because of any pressure either put on him by anyone inside the organization, or felt by him from anyone outside the organization. It’s just not going to happen that way, and there’s nothing anyone can do to hasten it.

  44. Mariano Rivera just had an at-bat against K-Rod that had to be better than any Francoeur at-bat this season.

  45. #48

    There is a distinction between sucking at the game because you have no talent (Francoeur), and acting selfishly, immature and making repeated mental mistakes (Escobar). Also, Escobar is worth saving if they can get his head on straight. If they can get him better focused and grown up by benching him in what are really meaningless games, then i’m all for it.

    Francoeur, while he did act like a big baby last year, is only playing regularly because let’s be honest, there really aren’t any other significantly better internal options. And yes, that includes Matt Diaz. That sad fact is really a commentary on the Braves management, so if they bench Francoeur, have nothing better to put in his place, it really makes them look bad for not having a warm body with more ability in their system.

  46. If Escobar is being punished for a bad reaction to a call, I love it. He should have been forced to sit out a few more games for some of his idiotic baserunning. Cox needs to start lighting a fire under a few of these guys. Of course as long as he doesn’t bench Francoeur for any length of time, it’s hard for the players to take him seriously.

    I really think Anderson should sit a few games for his lethargic play in left. I don’t care if he’s a veteran and if he’s starting to hit. No player should be allowed to get away with the lack of effort that he’s shown. I know he’s not a “rah-rah” player and he doesn’t have much speed anymore, and he may be trying at times even though he doesn’t look like it. There have been a few plays where he has gotten the ball and lacksadaisically thrown it back and let runners take extra bases. This should not be tolerated.

  47. td, I think the Braves had their expectation right by calling ACHE a professional hitter. That means they never expected him to be a professional fielder, ha.

  48. @53 That’s awesome. I am sure the Yankees fans will have one more thing to laugh at the Mets fans from now on.

  49. Kotchman may have “botched” the rundown–I don’t know, don’t care. But I do know that Kelly Johnson created the rundown. Kelly’s play should have been to second with a slow Ortiz at the plate.

  50. Things that were done incorrectly on Ortiz’s grounder:

    KJ should’ve probably gone to second first.
    After catching the ball, Kotchman should have pushed the runner a bit towards 2nd. Not all the way, not trying to make the play, just close enough so that Diory can run him back and doesn’t have to make as long of a throw.
    After throwing the ball, Kotchman should’ve gotten out of the basepath to give Hernandez a clearer throwing lane.
    Hernandez shouldn’t have made a high throw, though in fairness to him, he had to figure out a way to get it around Kotchman and Youkilis and get it there quickly because while he was at the bag throwing, Youk was able to turn around immediately.

    So if I had to order the blame, I’d probably put Kotchman at the most fault and then Hernandez and KJ as secondary culprits.

    Either way, it’s just another example of how this team gives away outs on both sides of the ball. With the quality pitching we’ve had, the Braves should be over .500. But we give away outs on the basepaths and on defense.

  51. From DOB:

    “Francoeur made it a point to tell me before the game that he’s wearing his lucky “turkey underwear” that his wife bought him at Thanksgiving. He claims the Braves are 6-0 when he’s worn them this season, and that he broke them out Monday for the Cubs after the two weekend losses at Boston.

    “I probably should have worn them yesterday, but they weren’t clean yet,” he said.”

    Jeffrey’s contribution to the team!!!

  52. I’d like Bobby to try this lineup Tuesday. The absence of Francoeur makes it look fairly respectable:

    CF McLouth
    2b Prado
    3b Chipper
    C McCann
    SS Escobar
    LF Anderson
    RF Diaz
    1b Kotchman
    P Lowe

  53. I just found out Luis Castillo has have higher OPS than Frenchy since the start of last season, but Frenchy has been outperforming Jimmy Rollins this year!

    What’s wrong with Jimmy Rollins?!

  54. Francoeur, while he did act like a big baby last year, is only playing regularly because let’s be honest, there really aren’t any other significantly better internal options. And yes, that includes Matt Diaz.

    I disagree with this statement. Since 2006, when Diaz joined the Braves, he’s posted an OPS around .800. Jeffy has sported a .715 OPS. There is no other player in baseball posting Jeff’s 2008-2009 numbers (.645 OPS) who isn’t being platooned, benched, demoted, or DFAed.

    For some reason Diaz maintains the impression that he’s just a usable spare part. And it’s not just his bat, he’s posted good defensive numbers too. It’s funny that people have finally come to embrace the fact that Mark DeRosa is a valuable player; and teams were aggressively pursuing him. Diaz and DeRosa have OPS+ of 108 and 109 since 2006.

  55. Furthering JC,

    Before the coments start, yes Matt Diaz throwing arm is nothing near as good as Francoeur. However, Diaz covers a lot more ground. You will give up a base or so here or there, but turn some hits into outs. Mostly, defense is a wash between these two in right.

  56. I think actually the platoon in left and Diaz against righties in right is better. Even though ACHE has started hitting better and is not that platoon susceptible, both Francoeur and Diaz are markedly better against lefthanders. Plus, at ACHE’s age, sitting every once and a while would be useful.

  57. So my wife has watched maybe 3 Braves games with me the last two years. We don’t talk about the team much, so she doesn’t really know who’s playing.
    But when a grounder tipped off KJ’s glove and our RF trotted into get it, allowing THE CATCHER to take an extra base, she said, “That guy in right sucks. How does he keep his job?”

    2-0 game score and Veritek outhustles Jeffy. I can’t stand it no more.

  58. Diaz should be the starter in RF. I am beyond trying to rationalize why he isn’t starting over Francouer.
    Mark DeRosa is a good player. I wish we had tried to get him. But I understand why we didn’t. The biggest downside to getting DeRosa this year is that he is a FA after this season and so I guess that was the biggest detriment to sending say, Medlen for him. Sure as a hitter at RF/LF/3B he is average at 2B he is above average. Average at RF/2B would be a huge upgrade. But while he is good he isn’t good enough to be a rental. I don’t want us to trade any of our pitching young or otherwise for just a rental.

  59. I have never seen a major league team play such a bad game and still win; I’m not even sure I’ve seen a team play such a bad game at all. Regardless of how you evaluate KJ’s responsibility for the non-double play, he had a terrible game even without it–another error (and, by the way, why was he laying there on the ground instead of getting up and running after the ball?); another awful game at the plate. As for Jeffy, why isn’t he benched for (1) an incredible bonehead play on the bases; and (2) loafing on the ball in right field. Is it only Latin players that get benched for stupidity?

    Having said that, Escobar is a punk. I was just shocked seeing the replay of his response to the error. Bobby should have come out and pulled him in the middle of the inning like he did with Andruw that time. I have never seen anything like that. Of course, if they hadn’t traded Andrus, they would have another legitimate option.

    Hanson obviously pitched a great game, despite being squeezed on several pitches. Apparently, the umpires simply assume that the Red Sox know the strike zone so well that if they don’t swing, it must be a ball. But, that pitch to strike out Bay in the sixth (?) was a thing of beauty. Maybe being sick actually helped Hanson; he wasn’t throwing as hard but he had better command. Maybe there’s a lesson there.

    All in all, though, this just seemed like on of those 60 games that teams win (well, except the Nats) regardless. There was no reason, other than Hanson, that they should have won the game. Just think, they held Boston to six runs in the series and lost 2. Or, to look at it as the glass half full, the Braves scored three runs in the series and actually won a game.

    I don’t know how much responsibility a manager can have for the team’s performance, but it is shocking to see how unfocused and undisciplined the Braves are. Anyone other than Bobby Cox would be gone if their team played like this. I sort of feel sorry for Bobby, though, because you know this eats him up to see this kind of stuff, especially after years of having teams that, regardless of other issues, were professional. If Yunel had done this in the 90s, his ass would have been in the minors the next day. They have some young players, but they aren’t all rookies. I hate to use the term, but they simply don’t play the game right–aside, of course, from their abysmal offense. As people have noted, there is a serious inconsistency with how the Braves treat players’ mistakes–apparently, if you are a local boy and have lots of female teenage admirers, you can pretty much do anything you want.

  60. sansho1 at 51,

    I realize that the Cox staying and going decision is primarily going to be decided in this order: Cox, Schuerholz, Wren. However, I do not agree that exposing this issue and expounding on it will have no impact.

    One of the baseball web sites started a fan’s fielding scouting system a few years ago (can’t remember which site)Basically, a fan could go on the web site to grade fielding. The answers obtained were remarkably similar to what the metrics and the scouting community were saying. Same thing with probability of winning pennants.

    The “collective wisdom of the blogosphere” does eventually filter to the “main stream media.” Notice how the ajc has changed its tune on Francoeur. If the mainstream media even started running “there are some crazy people out there in blog land saying Cox needs to go”, that would at least get the topic out there. It might give Wren cover to at least talk to Schuerholz and McGuirk. And, if some fire starts, then Cox may say, “well if they don’t want me, then f it then.”

    There is NO WAY the favorable treatment that Francouer gets is not poisoning that club house. Do I think “chemistry” is a big ingredient. No, talent is more. But now, thinking back, how many balls that Yunel didn’t get to do you think might have been attitude? Maybe KJ didn’t scramble after that ball because he got tied of seeing people cover for Francoeur.

  61. How did the Braves pick up Chris Burke, anyway? I remember him being the possible replacement for Biggio in Houston (and NOT being a shortstop). His MiLB data base doesn’t have anything for 2007 and 2008.

    But, in 2009, he is hitting the ball for Gwinnett.

  62. Anybody else wonder about how the reporters have talked about Hanson being the first NL Rookie to win back to back wins against Yanks/BoSox? How many NL rookies have ever even pitched back to back starts against the Yanks/BoSox?

  63. @76,

    I think there is some support out there for getting rid of Cox but I don’t think it will ever be substantial enough to force the front office’s hand. There will always be a significant amount of Cox support and since he himself has a position in the organization, it’s hard to see how anything could really force him out, especially given the obvious problems with the team. You might be able to place some blame on Cox (which I do), but you can’t really blame him for the lack of talent.

    However, I agree about Francouer. I can’t help but think the other players–especially the Latin players–are aware of the favorable treatment that Frenchy gets and it has to have some effect. But that’s no excuse for the way Escobar is behaving. These guys are getting paid a lot of money to play; if I don’t like the way people in my office work, that doesn’t justify me not doing my job. I think it’s more likely that KJ didn’t go after the ball because it was hot and he was tired.

  64. Would everyone agree that changes need to be made? Whether we are buying (doubt there’s much money for that), selling, or making organizational changes…whatever. But something has to give. This team absolutely stinks.

    And this home plate umpiring sucks.

  65. @79-

    Not that it means a lot, but I remember seeing one play in particular a few weeks ago where Escobar dove for a ball up the middle, but didn’t extend; alligator armed it. I remember thinking at the time that he dogged the play. Something had happened that inning that made me think that.. I’ll go back on my DVR and see if I can figure out what the hell I’m talking about.

    Also, did anyone know that Shelley Duncan has 21 homers in triple A for the Yanks?

    Why can’t he crack a line-up somewhere? Strikeouts/OBP issues? I don’t know anything about him.

    Do we want him, and what do you think it’d take? What do the Yankees need? Bullpen?

  66. jj, shouldnt take much. He’s about to turn 30 and had two samples in 07 and 08, but didnt do anything. Could he be another Ryan Ludwick? maybe, but I wouldnt give anything of value to find out

  67. If we wait for Cox to decide to leave without pressure being applied, he is here for a lot more years. A portion of these problems will ocntinue and will get worse.

    If I keep seeing what I have been seeing ON THE MANAGER, then I won’t be around for long.

  68. Acosta and an organizational filler type for Duncan? Is he a LF only type? Or can he get by in right?

    Honestly, he doesn’t need to be Ryan Ludwick. I’d settle for the next Russel Branyan at this point, if he could play in RF

  69. Esco is immature and sometimes makes ridiculous decisions, but he’s not a guy you get rid of on a team like this. Can you imagine this offense w/out his bat. Hell, even w/out his arm at short?

    He hits for average and is starting to show some decent power. He might not be the greatest guy for team chemistry, but that component is pretty overrated in MLB. This sport is about as individualistic as golf.

  70. And yesterday, even with ACHE in a hitting surge, why didn’t Cox double switch when Diaz hit in the 6th? ACHE only had one more at bat expected. ACHE was due up in the 8th, possible in the 7th, but with Bobby’s “1 inning relievers” there was going to have to be a change anyway (but with Escobar SITTING and McLouth hurting, maybe that was the last man).
    But burning Diaz with McLouth maybe not available didn’t seem too smart, and particularly if he wasn’t going to stay in and play defense. Maybe Ross should have been the pinch hitter (but, if that had happened, McCann would have gotten hurt on the next play).

  71. Agree with K. Unless Yunel shoots someone (maybe),he is going to be here. The Braves don’t have much of a choice except to live with his idiocies and hope he matures. Diory Hernandez as the everyday shortstop? I think not.

    It’s not the issue of team chemistry that’s the problem. It’s the matter of his behavior affecting his play. He was lucky no one hit a ball to him after the error called–he couldn’t have caught it with the position he was in. I’m sure he pisses off umpires and the like. And I would imagine that it is distracting for the rest of the team to see a guy doing these things.

  72. Yunel has the ultimate job security. I am not sure there is another SS in the entire system (at least from “A” up) with MLB potential, since Hicks has flamed out so badly in Mississippi.

  73. If Burke can cover the position of shortstop, he has proven himself as at least a so so MLB bat (and might be a little better than that).

  74. Ububba can back me up on this, but Shelley Duncan isn’t good. He can catch fire for a month and punish the ball, but he really doesn’t have anything else in his game. He is, like so many other people in our organization, a 4th outfielder-pinch hitter type.

  75. Remember how close Yunel came to getting traded this winter?

    Not that I’m advocating it, but if we did a Yunel deal where we got a MLB shortstop in return, I could see that.

    Edit: I’d give up a replaceable part for Duncan, but that’s it.

  76. 88 — I don’t know anything about Garry Templeton except for seeing his stats on BR. Did he have a temper or something?

  77. 90 — Yeah, I think Burke should replace Diory ASAP.

    Hernandez’s lone strength is supposed to be hitting for average, but he has a -3 OPS+.

  78. Rumor is the Cardinals will try to move Ludwick and go after Holliday. I certainly hope we’re in on the Ludwick sweepstakes if there really is one.

  79. So Cliff, if I’m reading you correctly you want to fire the HOF manager and replace the 26 year old starting shortstop who, while admittedly a bit of a head case, has a 300/367/423 career line with a 29 year old journeyman utility guy with a career line of 239/315/359? Yeah, I think I’ll stick with Cox.

  80. Yeah, I think Burke should replace Diory ASAP.

    About the only thing Burke would bring to the table would be that he’s essentially Diory Hernandez and Gregor Blanco in a single roster spot. Having him up might allow a creative roster builder to send both of those guys down and call up Canizares or Norton (who’s crushing Gwinnett on his rehab assignment) to provide a little oomf off the bench.

  81. @95

    Why? Ludwick is 30 and posting 231/303/426 as a platoon OF this year. He’s basically an older version of Jeff Francoeur.

  82. There’s no way Diory Hernandez, a guy who has a sub-zero OPS+ and can’t play defense, belongs in the majors.

    Henceforth, Diory is “Subzero.”

  83. Templeton was supposed to be a superstar, an A-Rod or Jeter type player. But he acted like a jackass, and the Cardinals eventually traded him for Ozzie Smith — who was widely considered, at the time, a far lesser player, though obviously it’s hard now to see that.

  84. We would have only traded Yunel if we had signed Furcal. we weren’t going into the season with Diori as our SS.

  85. Bringing up Burke makes sense. This would allow for Norton’s return and let us send Blanco and Hernandez back down. I wonder what happened to Burke. He had a decent year with the Astros in 2006 and he fell off the map after that. If we only bring Norton back up, this will make Diaz our b/u centerfielder – not good.

    On Escobar, I don’t expect him to be with the Braves after this year – Wren may even get creative and make a trade this year, but I highly doubt it. I agree that chemistry may be a little over-rated, but it is the number one criteria for Bobby Cox.

  86. I think Whitey Herzog once said of Templeton:

    “He (Garry Templeton) doesn’t want to play in St. Louis. He doesn’t want to play on turf. He doesn’t want to play when we go into Montreal. He doesn’t want to play in the Astrodome. He doesn’t want to play in the rain. The other eighty games he’s all right.” – St. Louis Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog (1981)

    I’m not sure I’m ready to elevate Yunel to Jumpsteady status just yet, but he may be working his way there.

  87. Opinions varied on Templeton. Whitey Ford couldn’t stand him and traded him. Dick Williams then coached him on the Padres and said Garry could play for him anytime.
    The most famous example of Templeton’s attitude was when he was chosen as an Alternate for the All-Star game, but refused to go beacuse he wasn’t voted in by the fans.
    “If I ain’t startin’; I ain’t departin’,” he said.

  88. @ 96,

    Sam, yes it is time for Cox to go. I wouldn’t just “fire him”, but if I were in FO control, I would make it plain to him that this year is it. No extensions. If he got miffed and quit, I would be happy.

    I do not think Chris Burke should necessarily replace Yunel. I was only responding to the statement that there were no available shortstops in the system that could possibly play at ML level. I specifically questioned whether Burke’s defense would be good enough.

  89. As to the phrase “Hall of Fame Manager (Player)” there is always a day when that Hall of Fame eligible and deserving party can be outdone by most anybody.

    If you put Hank in right, Willy in center, and “Feared Jim” Rice in left TODAY they would not be as good as the dreck we have been sending out.

    Basically, this FO just “fired” a HOF pitcher (Glavine) because he didn’t have it.

  90. Mac,

    MiLB.com lists Burke as a shortstop and he has played there some. However, from when he was with the Astros, I wouldn’t think he was either.

  91. Chris Burke is the opposite of Omar Infante. Infante’s a backup infielder who can spot the OF if required. Burke is a backup OF who can spot the IF if needed. I’m all for calling him and Norton up to replace Blanco/Diory but Mac’s correct: he’s not a shortstop.

    Cliff, you have yet to show me any convincing argument that Cox should be replaced. You obviously have a hard-on about it, but I don’t think starting Francoeur (as horrific as he is) instead of Diaz in RF (who can’t play the position) is quite the crime against humanity that you consider it to be. I’ve heard this “Cox must go” chorus for too long to give it any serious consideration until you provide a logical reason why. (And a better option to replace the old man, too.)

  92. Maybe I’m confused. Does anyone here actually want to trade Yunel? Or is the discussion prompted by Cox’s opinion of him?

    If you want him traded, please, make a case for it. I’m interested in the reasoning.

  93. Templeton did end up having a nice career including 2000 career hits. Its not like he was terrible by any means.

  94. Hernandez was posting a 900+ OPS in Gwinnett. He’s clearly overmatched in the bigs but he’s basically a quad-A guy now.

  95. I don’t want Escobar traded. He is definitely one of our better hitters, he has shown excellent fielding as a SS, and he’s cheap. It just doesn’t look like he is Cox’s type of player. It didn’t make sense that we wanted to trade him last year, but it looks like the things Cox doesn’t like about him have been escalated this year. If Cox sticks around after this year, I think he’ll scream pretty hard to get rid of Escobar.

  96. I like Kotchman’s D at 1st, but I think I’d like to see him get moved and let Barbaro get some more games over there. We need some RH hitters, Id start there.

  97. Templeton put up some great years in St. Louis. Park effects. He beat the ball into the ground and used his speed to get on. Once he got to SD, no turf, no speed becuase of bad knees, no star much less superstar. edit: yeah he had a pretty good career in the end.

    Mac, I can see the analogy if you are talking about Escobar’s attitude.

    I know that most don’t like Escobar. I don’t like his me first, immaturity either. But the kid is a hell of a player.

  98. I don’t want Escobar traded. He is definitely one of our better hitters, he has shown excellent fielding as a SS, and he’s cheap. It just doesn’t look like he is Cox’s type of player.

    I remember when we had this exact same conversation about Andruw Jones in 1997.

  99. Casey Kotchman is English for Mientkiewicz. I’d be all for a Barbaro/Kotchman platoon.

    Casey Kotchman vs. LHP: .234/ .261/.281

  100. I’d like to see Canizares get another shot, too. He didn’t have too much success in his brief time up, but he hit a couple of balls harder than we’re accustomed to seeing around here lately.

  101. Sam,

    I have been a substantial recent critic of Cox. Over the preceding couple of years, I frequently defended him against some who attacked him. However, I am not the only one critical at this time.

    You have chosen to disagree with my reasons. You may be analyzing better or more correctly than me. However, you can’t say that there is only one reason. Try these on.

    1. Differential treatment of players that is obvious and profound (Francoeur yesterday with the slow motion? Do you really think that should be tolerated?)

    2. Using the best of the bullpen too often and with too many runs of lead. We have had the “big three” unavailable several times after they appeared in 5 and 7 run lead situations. Plus, they have too many total appearances. He has blown Boyer’s arm to bits and Moylan’s and Soriano’s once and Gonzo’s once.

    3. Diaz for Francoeur against righthanders is a reason. Either it is caused by bias in favor of Francoeur or it is caused by stupidity or senility. If you can pick up 100 OPS points at one line up spot without sacrificing defense, why wouldn’t you make the move? Does Cox even know what OPS is? (he seems to live in “Joe Morgan” land in evaluating players. “I know one when I see him.”

    4. The players he is managing are not growing with the age curve. KJ, Francoeur, Acosta, Davies, Boyer. Cox supposedly makes players better, but why has that seemed to change so dramatically to the negative over the last 3 to 5 years. Players, even flawed players, should be getting better from 23 to 25 to 27 to 29. And I am not talking about overhyped prospects. I am talking about actual performance at ML level dropping, rather than increasing. Right now, since 2005, I can see one “improver”, McCann. Maybe Prado. Can you name another? And, how many have been called up?

    5. He is beyond the age at which a manager should be expected to peak. Meaning probability is that he is not as good and is getting worse. Peak age for managing hasn’t been “floating around” as long as for players, but it has been studied in depth. Everybody commenting on this blog recognized that ACHE was a declinging player. Some thought he would be o.k. and worth the money. others didn’t. But nobody failed to recognize the overwhelming probability of age related decline. Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, Sparky Anderson. The game and the players eventually pass everybody by.

    6. The bunts. If you call bunts, you as a manager need to make sure your players are trained to do them. The Braves botch bunts all of the time. Further, they appear to be called on a routine and over frequent basis, even in sketchy situations.

    7. The intentional walks. Real numbers show the Braves do this too much and it hurts.

  102. I wasn’t really saying that Escobar and Templeton are that similar, but that they seem to inspire similar reactions in their managers, and that Escobar is on track to get shipped out. But I doubt we’ll get the return the Cardinals did.

    This month is now the busiest in Braves Journal history, with 121,375 hits. The previous record holder was last June. I guess we just like to complain!

  103. Why in the world would anyone considering trading one of 4 consistent bats you have in this putrid line-up? So Yunel is a headcase, so what.

  104. I am really surprised with Canizares hitting and Kotchman’s lack of hitting, they haven’t called up Canizares and platooned him with Casey and even given him at-bats vs. RHP. If you are worried about Canizares’ defense, you can even be clever and put Kotchman in after an inning where Canizares takes his 3rd AB of the game (maybe in the 6th inning), giving Casey an out-sized # of defensive innings for his number of AB’s.

    Kotchman is a career below-average hitter, at a hitting position, having a poor hitting year. it is hard to sustain success with your 1B sporting a .705 OPS, when your outfield can’t hit. Casey’s favorite Brave has got to be Frenchie, because Frenchie keeps the light from shing on Casey’s poor hitting.

    I said this at the time and i still believe it. Wren made a huge mistake trading Tiex. for Kotchman. He should have kept Teix and oiffered him arbitration, which Teix would have turned down. Instead of having 2 first/second round draft choices, which we could turn into 2 very good prospects (I do believe in our scouting), we got a below average MLB 1st baseman for a lot more salary than Canizares would have cost us in salary.

    Even ignoring the extra 3 months of Teix last year (as it wouldn’t have helped us get into the play-offs), the deal would be Canizares, 2 million dollars and 2 very good prospects, for Kotchman. That would be a very, very good trade for Atlanta.

  105. 123 — I don’t get it either, Tony. It seems silly to me.

    But Jeffy always gets a pass. He must be the J. Edgar Hoover of the Braves.

  106. but bfan,

    Yesterday Papi failed to make 2 plays that most ML 1b’s get. The Blanco bunt “whiff” which was charged an error and a failure to dig out a low throw (from nick green?) that was charged to the thrower. Even at first base, defense can be important.

    I want Canizares up for a different reason. I am going to assume that our player evaluators are right that he can’t regularly play first at ML level. Then, his value to us is as a traded DH to be. And his trade value will go down now if you wait because of age. And, until he proves it at ML level, he is just a “prospect.” So, bring him up and let him hit. If he fields o.k., we win. If he doesn’t, but still hits, then we win. If he can’t do either, send him to Gwinnett until he gets too costly.

  107. Re@119
    I got it, Stu!
    I think there are more Babalities happeneing to teh Braves than necessary!

  108. @121

    1 – I don’t see a lot of preferential treatment. I see a manager starting his only defensive option in RF while the GM tries desparately to trade for a better option. Matt Diaz can not play right field on regular basis. Comparing Francoeur’s defense and attitude to Escobar is silly on the face. You can say a lot bad about Francoeur, but “he doesn’t put in the effort” isn’t one of the bad things you can honstly hit him with.

    2 – This team has shown an amazing propensity to blow 4-8 run leads this year. With the offense as bad as it is, opportunities for wins are far more rare than they should be. Cox uses his best relievers to secure wins. That he has to use them in unofficial save situations isn’t necessarily his fault.

    3 – Matt Diaz can’t play right field. Bitch and moan all you won’t, he still can’t play right field. He’s a passable left fielder after the contact lens. He does not have the range or instincts to play right.

    4 – Players in Atlanta have never “grown” more than they are currently “growing.” KJ isn’t growing. Andruw didn’t grow. Javy Lopez was the same hitter when he left as he was in 1994. Ron Gant never improved past his base skill set. Why is this a reason to fire him *now*?

    5 – I honestly believe this is your big problem. Cox is old and you don’t like his old-school style. Boo hoo.

    6 & 7 – He’s not doing this any moreso now than he has in the past. That you don’t like his style isn’t evidence that he has lost the ability to manage winners. The problem is talent, not management.

  109. Angles to the ball, flight of the ball off the bat, distance to bases for throws, and in Turner Field sheer acreage to cover.

  110. For those saying that Cox isn’t being fair with his discipline of players – I don’t think yall know what the heck you are talking about (don’t mean to be rude though). You CANNOT compare what he is doing with Yunel to what he is not doing with Frenchy. Yunel is a disciplinary action, not a performance action (which is exactly what Frenchy would be). If you are asking Bobby to sit people for performance reasons, we would only have 2 guys out on the field (McCann and McClouth). All of these guys would sit – Chipper (defense), KJ, Frenchy, ACHE (defense), Kotchman. The fact is, I don’t know of anyone else on this team that has acted like Yunel, so he is the only one to get benched (Except for maybe Bennett, but he kinda benched himself). Bobby is being completely fair – although, maybe not smart (as Frenchy should definately be benched indefinately)

  111. Kotchman isn’t great, but since he is good defensively on a team that is overall brutal it’s worth keeping him until Freeman is ready and upgrading the offense in other positions. Now if the Braves wanted to try to turn McCann into a first baseman in the offseason so he could play 162 games instead of 130, then they could move Casey. McCann at first and Ross at catcher would be a big improvement without costing any additional money or prospects. We don’t know of course whether McCann or the Braves would consider that or if Brian could play the position adequately. If it did happen, then perhaps Freeman could be switched to 3rd and Chipper could move to LF in a few years (or even next year?).

  112. Kotchman is a hard case. He’s sucked all year, but he was sort of heating up right before he got hit on the shin. He sucked again when he came off the DL but his swing is starting to be better than embarrassing of late. You could carry him if you had a real RF, or vice versa. You can’t carry both and a black hole at 2B.

  113. 98,
    He’s battling injuries right now. When he’s healthy he’s capable of putting up monster numbers. Like the .299/.375/.591 with 37 HR he did in 2008.

  114. 131 — He should have been disciplined for whining about the demotion, but was instead rewarded. I think this is where the main complaint lies on that front.

  115. In his last 10 games, Casey has been 8-36 with 2 doubles and 2 walks. He was a really good hitter in the minor leagues (Kotchman’s record really matches what Freddie Freeman has done, so far), but Casey just can’t put it together at the MLB level.

  116. Ryan Ludwick’s career:

    2002 23 88 0.235 0.295 0.346
    2003 24 175 0.247 0.299 0.438
    2004 25 54 0.22 0.278 0.38
    2005 26 48 0.22 0.333 0.512
    2006 DNP – Minor Leagues
    2007 28 339 0.267 0.339 0.479
    2008 29 617 0.299 0.375 0.591
    2009 30 218 0.231 0.303 0.426

    2008 is the outlier, not the norm. He’s Jeff Francoeur, only 30. No and thank you.

  117. Yeah, except Ludwick has 30 points of OBP and 74 points of SLG on Francoeur. Ludwick has a better BB rate, a better XBH%, a better LD%, etc. Ludwick in just under 3 seasons worth of PA’s has added 3.2 wins to his teams’ while Francoeur has taken away 4.2 wins in about 4 seasons worth of PA’s. Ludwick’s career OWin% is .600 and Francoeur’s is .440. And what do you mean 2008 is the outlier not the norm? 2008 represents over 1/3 of his career PA’s. Take away 2008 and he has a career OPS+ of 97 in 2 seasons worth of PA’s. Take away Jeffy’s WORST season and he has an OPS+ of 92 in 3 and 1/2 seasons worth of PA’s. So no, he’s not Jeff Francoeur. He’s a much better player. A talented one. One that is capable of being an impact player when healthy. Before this year Ludwick only had 2 seasons of more than 200 PA’s. 2007 and 2008. His OPS+ in those seasons? 136. And no 2008 is not the norm, he was rather hit-lucky (though he did post a LD% of 28 which is ridiculously good and contributed a great deal to his BABIP). In 2007 he was right at his career norms in peripherals and hit .267/.339/.479. And that is a drastic improvement over Jeff Francoeur. The only thing Jeff Francoeur does better than Ludwick is stay healthy (and make outs). Ludwick’s had an injury plagued career. But he’s shown that when healthy he’s one of the better hitters in the league.

  118. Being old isn’t in Cox’s favor. When men get older, they get slower. Their reaction time increases. Their ability to make complex decisions on the fly diminishes. None of this is controversial — young people are faster than old people. Old people have wisdom but reduced function. I mean, hell, look at Tom Glavine. He’s almost 30 years younger than Bobby, and his physical gifts have been majorly blunted by Father Time.

    Bobby is not as good a manager as he was 10 years ago. His in-game decisions, never the strongest suit in his game, have gotten a lot more questionable.

  119. The offense is bad.

    Frenchy is just bad, but Diaz hasn’t just ripped the cover off the ball either. Diaz is okay, and probably should be playing over Frenchy right now, but he not the ‘answer’ to the production question.

    I am not taking up for Jeff or anything, but Diaz is like the ‘backup QB’. You all know what I am talking about. The Backup QB is always the fan favorite because he isn’t the struggling 1st team guy. Diaz is like that in alot of ways. He is a decent player, but lets get real, Diaz has 26 career HRs in 1035 ABs (approx. 1 in every 40 ABs).

    Jeffy getting benched would be fine. I hope it happens. What happens if or dare I say when Diaz bombs? What then? Diaz spit the bit last year when they handed him the LF job. (Look it up, he stunk even before he got hurt, and sported a .568 OPS last year.)

    This quandry is the reason I get frustated with the Braves. They have enough resources not to have to deal with ANY of this. They just waste them, and until Wren goes, they will continue to waste them.

    The braves have 3-5 holes in the lineup. 1b, 2b, RF, most nights, and CF and SS when the starters don’t play.

  120. I don’t think they should trade Escobar either, but I don’t understand Tony’s attitude of “so he’s a head case, so what?” So what is that it affects his play. When he acts like a baby and is not in position to make a play, that is affecting his performance. It’s not as if it’s just petulant behavior; it’s errors and bonehead plays as well.

    I agree, if the only complaint is that he is an asshole but he performs well, that’s one thing. Barry Bonds is an asshole and so what? But Escobar’s behavior is problematic.

    I also think it’s unfair as some have suggested that Escobar is on his way out “because he is not Bobby’s kind of player” as if Bobby is the only manager in baseball that would be bothered by Escobar’s actions. Clearly, some managers have more tolerance than others–look at Pinella’s response to Milton Bradley–but I can’t imagine any manager that would not at least be bothered by these things Escobar does.

    The issue about the differential treatment of players is legitimate as I noted above but, in all fairness, whining about being sent down to the minors is not nearly as serious not being ready for the next play because you are angry at being awarded an error. As badly as he has played, Francouer has done nothing on the field as remotely unprofessional as that.

  121. Alex,

    I nearly always respect your opinions but I have to strongly disagree with this one. Of course, Bobby has physcially slowed down but no one is asking him to fly a fighter jet or the space shuttle and make split second decisions. Bobby has always made some “unusual” game decisions and I think relating it to his age is unfair. It’s not as if baseball games are played at a fever pitch pace; there is generally plenty of time to make decisions. Do you really think it requires hair trigger reactions to order a hit and run?

  122. James (Carrollton, GA) Have you heard anything about the Yunel Escobar situation? The report is he mouthed off to the Press Box after an error was called on him and was then chewed out by Chino Chadiha and he hasn’t played since. Thats a big bat to keep out of the ATL thin lineup…

    Buster Olney – James: It’s a situation being watched in other front offices, because you can bet that other teams would be willing to take their chances on a good shortstop who hits .300 with some pop. The fact that they were willing to deal him in the Peavy trade raised some eyebrows — and the fact that the Braves benched him at a time when they’re starved for hits tells you about the level of their frustration.

    Brent (Atlanta) If the Braves are giving up on Escobar, are the Red Sox a good trade partner? Would they give up Bucholtz for Escobar?

    Buster Olney – Brent — they’d be a great trade partner. I think that’s why the Red Sox were checking out Francoeur — as possible preparation for a larger deal that might’ve involved Escobar. That’s an educated guess on my part.

  123. @138

    Yes, Ryan Ludwick’s carreer numbers look better than Francoeur’s when you add in Ludwick’s 26-29 year old production, especially that Brady Anderson fluke of a year he had last year.

    Would I trade Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Ludwick? Yes. Would I add anything of value more to that deal from the Braves? Not on your life. Ludwick had a fluke year last year. He is no more that player than Francoeur is the half-decent outfielder he showed in 2007.

  124. The Braves don’t need Bucholz unless they’re going to flip him or another starter for an OF. The pitching is not the problem.

  125. @138 ‘But he’s shown that when healthy he’s one of the better hitters in the league.’

    Hyperbole.

    Ludwick has had exactly one good year in the majors. Comparing him to Francouer and saying he would be an improvement ISN’T saying he’s any good.

    Hell before you trade anything for Ryan Ludwick, ad nauseaum, lets give Matt Diaz a chance to ‘spit the bit’ again.

    Lets give Martin Prado more chances as well.

    All the criticism of Bobby may be well founded but Connie Mack couldn’t win with only 4 1/2 decent field players.

  126. 2008 wasn’t a fluke. His BABIP wasn’t abnormally high. It was a bit higher than his career BABIP, but that was chiefly because he was hitting more line drives than he ever has (and the ability to hit line drives is a skill, not luck). Like I said, though, throw out 2008 and you’ve still got a good player. Throw out all of his injury-plagued seasons and you’ve got one of the better hitters in baseball. A .591 SLG% doesn’t just happen because of a fluke year. Especially when he’s shown power (though not average) throughout his career.

  127. 147,
    He’s only been completely healthy for 1 year. In the other semi-healthy year of his career he hit .267/.339/.479. How does that not qualify as “good”? Show me one bad season when he was healthy and I’ll shut up. But you can’t. Because there isn’t one.

  128. Like I said, though, throw out 2008 and you’ve still got a good player. Throw out all of his injury-plagued seasons and you’ve got one of the better hitters in baseball.

    Yes, if you throw out all of the years Ryan Ludwick was a barely a replacement level player and only count the one year out of seven that he was notably better than that, he looks a lot better. If you had made this argument in the offseason I would have given it more credence. Making it now, after three months of SuperRyan having reverted back to replacement level Ryan is just silly.

  129. PW – you’re using some pretty sophisticated statistical tools on a guy with exactly 1 full season in the majors.
    In 2007 he played 120 games. Last year was his first full season at age 29 with 152 games. So I ask the question who do you trade for a 30 year old with exactly one good season in the majors and who is sucking this year? Unless you consider .231 .303 .426 to be good. Which pitcher? Or are you one of those they’ll take Jo Jo Reyes for him pie in the sky guys?

    edit: So in 2007 when he was injured (again) he was barely average and thats good?

  130. Ron E’s call to move McCann to 1B and play Ross (a much better defensive catcher) is a GREAT idea. And, amazingly, we wouldn’t lose any team speed by such a move.

    And we’d add 20 HRs. With this team we need all the HRs we can get.

    So, how many HRs does Adam Dunn have now?

    How much have we paid Glavine, GA, and Francouer?

    Chipper, I’m afraid, is now a DH.

    Trade D-Low. For cap relief if nothing else.

  131. Mac, guys,
    What do y’all think?
    a. Blow up the team and start over?
    b. Everyone else sucks so lets trade a pitcher and we can suck less enough to win the division?
    c. Stand pat and hope that we suck less and win the division?
    d. Trade Soriano or Gonzales or both for prospects or a second baseman, or a right fielder or a left fielder or a first baseman?

  132. PW you didn’t answer sir. Who do you trade for a guy that stays on the DL all the time and when he is NOT on the DL has had EXACTLY ONE good season?

  133. I’m old, and I’ve been a Braves fan since they moved to Atlanta in 1966. I’ve enjoyed or suffered through every manager the Braves have had since their move south. Bobby Cox 2.0 is the best manager the Braves have had since 1966, but it’s easier to win when you have quality players.

    Is he as good now as he once was? No, probably not.

    Is he better now than, say, TP, Ned Yost, Ferdi, Eddie G? Maybe. Maybe even probably.

    Who are you going to replace him with that will be better? Or is it only getting someone different that’s the goal here?

  134. @155

    Stand pat. Fans tend to forget, especially in July, that rebuilds take time. The primary pieces of the next good Braves team are in place. If you can improve the core by making a deal (a la McLouth) you do it, but you don’t “blow it up” by any means. If they don’t make a run shortly you probably want to look at trading Soriano if he will return value, but otherwise stand pat.

    In 2010 Jordan Schafer will be back (if not before.) Diaz/Schafer/McLouth is a feasible ML outfield. Probably want a quality LH caddy for Diaz in left at least, unless you opt out of Hudson’s final year and reinvest that $12 mil in a free agent outfielder (Bay, Holliday.)

    In 2011 Jason Heyward will be ready to take one of the OF slots. If you sign Holliday you can move him to 1B and let Kotchman go via free agency. You should have Cody Johnson and/or Freddie Freeman banging around at least in AAA by then too. You’ll need to replace or resign Vasquez but at that point Hanson should be dominating and Medlen probably has a place in the rotation as well. You’ll need to factor in resigning McCann too.

    2011-15 should be the next *great* Braves team. The key is to bridge the gap between the nadir (2008) and being good (2010) and then great (2011.)

    In short, stop thinking like a fan and start thinking like a GM. This is the middle year of a rebuild.

  135. I don’t know what the Cardinals want. Bullpen help I suppose. Or maybe they’re interested in KJ still (which I would’ve done this off-season but I don’t like the idea of selling low on him right now). Or maybe they’d want prospects to flip to Oakland in a package for Holliday. But the answer is I don’t know. Certainly no blue chip prospects. Of the JJ Hoover or Craig Kimbrel type I suppose. I’m not playing GM here, just pointing out he’s a good player who has fallen on bad luck with injuries and his 2008 wasn’t a fluke and it would probably be a good opportunity to buy low on a guy who has recently posted a .966 OPS.

  136. @153,

    I don’t see this being a good idea because I think it makes a big assumption that Ross as an everyday player would be as good as Ross as a part-timer. I like having Ross on the team but I think it’s a big dubious to say that he should be the starter. I understand the motivation is to get a better bat (McCann) at first base where he could play more often but I think the value of having a big-hitting catcher is enormous. I would rather find a real first baseman, although admittedly the Braves have been unable to do this, except briefly with Teixera, since the first year of Andres Galarraga.

  137. #140

    Good analogy. I don’t think anyone is suggesting Francoeur should be playing over Diaz. It would certainly help the offense, but i’m not buying he’s a long term solution, or that he’ll make for any significant increase in wins. He’s a guy, much like Francoeur, KJ, ACHE and Kotchman, that you could “live with” if you didn’t have 3 or 4 other guys that are similar too him – i.e. just kinda average, complimentary players. Until we get a couple of studs at some combination of 1B, 2B, LF and RF, we’re just rearranging deck chairs.

  138. Sam,

    I think much of what you say makes sense, but I think it’s dangerous to look too far ahead and not take advantage of opportunities now. Maybe in two or three years, the Phillies develop another Cole Hamels or something. I’m not saying they should make short-term moves, but I think, given the relative weakness of the division, they shouldn’t simply resign themselves to losing for two more years. There is no reason the Braves couldn’t be at least a high 80s win team with a couple of hitters. I’m not advocating the “do just enough to win a weak division and hope you get hot in the playoffs” approach by any means, but they really ought to be better than this without giving away the farm.

  139. The more I look at our roster I do not see Hudson making the team next year.

    JJ, Vazquez, Lowe, Hanson, Kawakami, Medlen and Huddy. Unless he shows he can be a top 2 pitcher before the season ends i think he is gone.
    If we keep the others, we have a hell of a rotation again next year and maybe we can wheel Hudson for a replacement level 2B of RF.
    Maybe the Yankees could use him down the stretch or some other contender.

    I say re-sign Gonzalez and Soriano unless you get a long-term solution to one of our weaknesses, at least we will still be able to pitch next season.

  140. Mark @ 162:

    I agree. I don’t think they should punt this year or next. But I do think they should approach any potential move in a sort of Hippocratic “do no harm” sort of way. They have an excess of starting pitching and two closers. They have no corner OFs above AA-Myrtle Beach and a nothing above a mediocre 1B above that level either. If they could flip one of those pitchers for a ready-now OF or improvement at 1B I’m all for it. Just don’t touch Schafer (who needs to play CF in the majors sooner rather than later, because last year’s GG notwithstanding McLouth is more suited defensively to a corner) or Heyward. I’d dangle Cody Johnson or Freddie Freeman if the return was right (only one of them can play for us.) I’d dangle Medlen if the return was right. But if the return isn’t up to par, I’d hold onto them, cut Francoeur in the offseason and sign Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. Worst case I’d sign Mark DeRosa. If you replace Francoeur with Holliday, Anderson with Schafer and Infante/Prado with DeRosa this team wins the division next year.

    And then in 2011 Heyward and Johnson/Freeman arrive and it becomes *great* again. There’s a lot of gnashing of teeth around here because people forget what it means to build a winner. We’ve become spoiled by having a winner delivered to us on a silver platter 14 years running.

  141. Marc, I realize that running a baseball team is not the same as flying a fighter jet — but all the same I’d argue that a manager’s effectiveness decreases with age. And I don’t think you’re disputing that. If I read you correctly, you’re just disputing the sense you get from me that I believe that advanced age is a firable offense. I don’t. But I do believe that Bobby’s gotten worse at in-game managing and that he hasn’t shown himself to be particularly adaptable. He’s still bunting like it’s 1987.

    I’m also not sure I agree that there’s no place for hair trigger timing for a baseball manager. If a guy’s mechanics and location are slipping, then you really only have a few moments between batters to go out and talk to a pitcher or replace him. And now that it’s 2009, you have to be able to have a more sophisticated sense of contextual baseball than lefty-righty matchups. His situational managing is usually “by the book” — but that means it’s essentially reactive, mechanical, and frequently questionable, rather than particularly flexible or adaptable.

    Bobby needs to be able to spread out his pitchers more, to control the number of times he gets a pitcher up in the bullpen, and the number of times in a row he uses his ace relievers. Bobby’s ace relievers have all been injured quite a bit in recent years, and I’d argue overuse has a lot to do with it. His treatment of Blaine Boyer and Peter Moylan are major cases in point.

    And his reluctance to start Brian McCann or to pinch hit with his other catcher — invariably, whichever catcher is sitting on the bench will be one of our best spare hitters — borders on the pathological.

    Ultimately, though, this team is playing terrible fundamental baseball. It can’t hit and it can’t field, and moreover Bobby’s play-for-a-run tactics kill rallies. Then again, thanks to Frenchy, Kotch and KJ, our rallies rarely ever push runs across the board in any event. Yunel and Frenchy are big problems, for different reasons, and management seems to have no idea how to deal with either one. Is any of that the manager’s fault? Is none of that the manager’s fault? The answer’s probably somewhere in the middle.

    I don’t think Bobby should be fired midseason, because I don’t think there’s anyone who could be hired who’d really provide an instant solution, and I don’t think that’d be fair to him or good for the organization. But I think it’s time for him to retire.

  142. “All the criticism of Bobby may be well founded but Connie Mack couldn’t win with only 4 1/2 decent field players.”

    Yes, and a chimpanzee could win with a starting rotation of Maddox; Smoltz; and Glavine.

  143. I doubt you’d win that often with Gary Maddox as a starter. He had range, but his arm was crap.

  144. @163-

    I think a lot of people who believe we shouldn’t pick up Hudson’s extension are missing one thing: Huddy and Vazquez make the same amount of money. If you pick up Huddy’s option, both are in their walk year next year.

    If you let Huddy go, you get nothing for him.
    If you trade Vazquez, you can get some real pieces in return.

    Ideally, I’d trade KK and keep Vazquez. He makes 3.5 mill more than KK, but is worth a great deal more than that difference. But Vazquez certainly nets more in return.

  145. @ 164,

    Sam,

    Good points and it’s a plan I would agree with (FWIW).

    @165,

    Alex,

    Don’t disagree with your specific points, especially his infuriating habit of playing for one run early in the game, but is Bobby all that much different from a lot of younger managers? He clearly doesn’t believe in “Moneyball” type strategy, but I would argue that most managers still don’t. If you look at baseball, especially in the NL, I don’t think the strategy has really changed much since 1987. I don’t doubt that Bobby is a bit set in his ways, but I’m not sure he’s much different than most managers. And, frankly, with respect to pitching mechanics, to me that is the pitching coach’s job.

    I do think, and I guess I come down here on your side of the argument, is that he seems to have become increasingly conservative over the years. There was a time when he would start runners even when they were not fast, simply to stay out of the DP or to try to get something going. He seems to rarely do this now, although they did run some yesterday.

    I do agree that it’s time for him to go, simply because no one should manage forever and I think they need a new voice. I would love it if they could find a manager that believes in the “New Strategy” but he is unlikely to exist in the Braves organization. I guess where I disagree is that it’s age that is the issue–but that might be because I’m a lot closer to Bobby’s age than yours!

  146. #166 – Exactly. Managers win because they have good players. Period. Bobby himself would say the same thing and has been quoted as saying such.

    Alex – really. Do you think that game management has THAT much to do with won loss records?

  147. From a ways back — Frenchy was called back up so quickly not because he complained, but because Infante, who was in line to get playing time in the outfield, got hurt. We fielded an outfield that day of Gregor Blanco, Jason Perry, and Greg Norton.

    Also, the biggest difference between RF and LF is that left fielders don’t have to throw to first base, but right fielders have to throw to third.

    Edit: Braves sacrifice hits – 35. NL average – 32. Cox isn’t exactly going nuts with the bunting compared to his brethren.

  148. I have no reason to believe we’re any better or worse at bunting than anyone else.

  149. Throwing arms in right are overrated, and range is underrated, and despite what people keep claiming, all the evidence is that Diaz runs better than Francoeur and makes more plays. And even if Francoeur were a better defensive player, the huge offensive difference (67 points of on-base, or something like two outs a week, and that’s not including Diaz’s power advantage) would make up for it. There’s no way that Francoeur has two outs a week’s worth of better range.

  150. Throwing arms in right are overrated

    You say yes, I say no, you say why, I say I don’t know….

  151. I think a lot of the recent moves (especially last year and the Tex trade) were done to try to send Cox out with a pennant. I’m not in favor of blowing up the team, but I think a new manager can do the best in planning for the future.

  152. As to claims of Diaz’s superior range, I assume we’re talking about stats which are comparative to league-average. According to ESPN.com, here are the qualifying NL left-fielders against whom Diaz is being measured defensively:

    Ryan Braun
    Juan Pierre
    Raul Ibanez
    Carlos Lee
    Nyjer Morgan
    Adam Dunn
    Jeremy Hermida
    Chris Duncan
    Daniel Murphy
    Chase Headley
    Alfonso Soriano

    Now, the RFs that Frenchy’s range is being compared to:

    Brad Hawpe
    Justin Upton
    Hunter Pence
    Jayson Werth
    Randy Winn
    Andre Ethier
    Corey Hart
    Jay Bruce
    Brian Giles

    A few speedy guys in left, but thrown in with a half-dozen of the slowest, most iron-gloved guys in the league. On balance, the RFs are a better crop of athletes, and my guess is that comparing Diaz to them would wipe out most, if not all, of any range advantage found in the numbers.

    And he can’t make the throw to third. And Francoeur is decent against lefties, brutal against righties, while Diaz is very good against lefties and firmly below average versus righties. It would be spinning wheels to replace one with the other.

  153. All things equal, I’d rather have a good arm than a bad arm in RF; being able to keep a runner from going first to third, I think, is important. But, it’s still primarily an offensive position. If Frenchy were Roberto Clemente out there, it wouldn’t make up for his offense. Of course, the question is whether Diaz is a big improvement, but I can’t see how it would hurt to try. They seem willing to shake things up everywhere else but RF.

  154. Do you think that game management has THAT much to do with won loss records?

    When it comes to one-run games, unquestionably. (Yes, we’re 13-12 in one-run games this year. However, we’re 61-99 since Opening Day 2006.) When it comes to more nebulous things like LOB%, I don’t know.

    It’s certainly hard to know what effect a manager has on a team. You are absolutely right to ask me: what evidence do I have that Bobby should be replaced? But I’d argue it’s hard for you to answer the corrolary question: what evidence do you have that Bobby should not be replaced?

    Historically, the argument has always been that Bobby made his players better. Can you argue that Bobby’s getting the maximum possible performance out of his players now?

    Or look at it another way: Gary Sheffield and J.D. Drew, two legendary pills who have departed nearly every other city absolutely hated by fans and management alike, each had career years and no complaints with Bobby and the Braves. Why is Bobby having such trouble dealing with Yunel and Frenchy?

    Here are my two possible answers, though I have no idea if I’m right. One is that he’s over the hill, and simply less effective than he used to be. Another is that he’s been with the organization too long, and thus no longer commands the respect he once did. Either way, the results are suffering. He’s surely not the only person to blame. But he’s just as surely not blameless.

  155. You are absolutely right to ask me: what evidence do I have that Bobby should be replaced? But I’d argue it’s hard for you to answer the corrolary question: what evidence do you have that Bobby should not be replaced?

    I don’t see these as corollaries, because people don’t just lift out of jobs like pegs out of holes.

    Why is Bobby having such trouble controlling Yunel and Frenchy?

    See Sam’s comment re Andruw 1997 with respect to Yunel. And Frenchy isn’t out of control, he’s just not a good ballplayer.

  156. Yes, and a chimpanzee could win with a starting rotation of Maddox; Smoltz; and Glavine.

    Everyone keeps saying this, but if you think about it – it’s not true. Take a look at our staff over the last month. The trio of Vasquez, Jurrjens, and Hanson has been just as good (albeit just one month) as that trio would have been over a month’s stretch. But we seem to have a loosing record of this period of time. I don’t think we had a long stretch like that when those guys were around. That is because our offense could score at least some runs.

    Don’t miss my point. I’m not saying this trio is as good as that trio. All I am saying is they have pitched as well as that trio over this period of time and have a losing record. So don’t just throw comments out there that aren’t even close to true. It takes a complete team (and manager) to win – not just Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine.

  157. Comparing Diaz, ACHE and Frenchy, by real numbers.

    ACHE: 2009 284/312/411
    2009 splits Lefties: 333/360/412 righties: 262/292/408 06 through 08 average: lefties: 272/306/407; Righties: 295/335/464

    Frenchy 2009: 248/283/347 Splits Righties 221/261/313 Lefties 316/337/430; 2006-2008 average: Righties 260/301/410; lefties 275/327/438

    analysis follows

  158. The team is unable to send Frenchy to the minors or even to bench or platoon him. I’d say that situation is out of control. Either Bobby doesn’t want to keep him from his 600 PA — which is not defensible, from a baseball point of view — or he simply can’t enforce that decision, as it seemed that Frank Wren couldn’t enforce it last year.

    Andruw was a maddening player in many respects, who early in his career hot-dogged on catches and occasionally wouldn’t hustle — as in the famous incident where he let a pop single fall and Bobby replaced him with Gerald Williams. But (perhaps this is a blind spot of mine) I’m not sure they’re completely comparable. While Andruw never could lay off sliders low and away, it seemed that as he aged he became less of a clubhouse distraction. Maybe Yunel will undergo the same growth. I hope he will.

    You’re right that, with respect to leadership positions, inertia is often best, because replacements are so rarely even equal, let alone superior, to the people they succeed. But I think that at some point you have to be able to play yourself out of a job — just as competence should be rewarded, incompetence should be punished. Jeff Francoeur has played his way out of a job, but Bobby hasn’t seen it that way. For that reason among many others, I think Bobby’s own job ought to be on the line, and his performance evaluated. If he performs well, he should be retained; if he performs poorly, he should not be retained.

  159. Diaz
    2009 270/350/421 Splits: lefties 293/373/448 Righties 250/329/397 2006-2008 average: Lefties 328/352/512; Righties 307/343/396.

  160. No adequate replacement exists in the organization for Frenchy.

    And the point with respect to Yunel vs Andruw is that Cox has always been willing to give a young player a full shot, and put up with some youthful indiscretions, but will take action if they do something egregious. He remains the same type of guy, as far as I can tell.

  161. Diaz 3 year against righties is 50 points better than Francoeur and 3 year against lefties is 150 points better than ACHE. He is also better this year on both. So, every day Diaz (assuming every 3rd day is a lefthander, which is about right in NL East) is worth a lot of runs in left and a few runs in right (adds team ops of 18 points in left and 5 points in right. He also saves defensive runs in left. I believe he would break even defensively in right, but I don’t have any way to show it.

    That is a lot of offense to concede. But even more, it would show some people if you don’t want to run after the ball, you don’t have a place. That is part of what this team needs. A “sense of non entitlement”.

  162. I made a statement a few days ago that I believe the Braves have underperformed to their talent in the last 4 years and that Bobby is the major reason. I need to explain that.

    I have to admit that the team overperformed per their talent in 2005 and I think Cox did a very good job that year. From 2006 to 2008, the Braves played at about their talent level and nothing more – maybe slightly below IMO. We had a lot of injuries in 2008 and I don’t blame that on Cox, but I think the idea of “Cox going out with a bang” contributed to us trying to bring back Smoltz and Glavine and the injuries that followed. I also think trying to win in the short term instead of building for the long haul was a major reason why we gave up way too much for Teixiera.

    I believe the Braves are an above .500 team this year even with the outfield deficiencies. They have a solid group of SPs, two and a half very good relievers, 3 hitters that are well above league average, 2 to 3 that are about league average, and 2 to 3 that are well below league average. Unfortunately the 2 to 3 that are below avg keep getting run out day after day when there are better options. This falls squarely on Bobby Cox. I have seen improvement with Anderson lately, but it’s my hunch that Cox was the major force behind getting him. I think this was a huge error.

    A great manager gets the most from his players. I think Cox did that in 2005, but he hasn’t done it since. Whether it’s age, his refusal to bench Francoeur and the ensuing turmoil, an absence of player leadership, poor assistant coaches or an unknown reason beyond Bobby’s control, I think Cox’s time has passed him.

  163. No adequate replacement exists in the organization for Frenchy.

    I just don’t get this. He’s suck personified in the batter’s box; seems to me like a lot of players in the organization—Diaz, Barton, Jones, Infante (when healthy)…Prado? Norton?—could adequately replace him.

  164. sabsho1,

    Is an adequate replacement for Frenchy somebody 5% better? 10% better? 30% better? What is the standard of “adequate?”

    To me it is that they are predictably likely to be better than the predictable result of playing Francoeur. The case for Diaz against righthanders is compelling.

  165. I don’t think Francoeur didn’t want to run after the ball — I think he just didn’t read the situation quickly enough. Whatever his flaws, not trying isn’t one of them.

  166. so, has anyone else been patrolling the internet today in hopes that francoeur gets traded? and, does anyone think that kawakami could be available? he seems far more expendable than vazquez and would likely get a decent return. throw in frenchy and kj and we could be cooking.

    btw, kawakami was well on his way to his 10th consecutive quality start before taking one in the neck.

  167. Brandon Jones: 293/371/359 in LF – AAA
    Brian Barton: 274/353/430 in RF – AAA
    Reid Gorecki: 243/304/408 in RF – AAA

    Diaz, Prado and Norton can’t handle RF defensively. None of the AAA guys are indicating they’d be notably better than Francoeur. I suspect Infante will get reps in right when he returns, if Prado and KJ can hold down 2B. Until then you might as well start Francoeur and hope he gets hot and somebody bites on a trade. Otherwise you’re just waiting for Jordan Schafer to hit his way back into Atlanta and push McLouth to right.

  168. I put “Trade Kawakami” in the same category as “Fire Bobby Cox”—regardless of whether it would make the team better, it’s simply not going to happen, so it’s sort of pointless to discuss.

    (Am I wrong on Kawakami? I just don’t see us dealing our first ever Japanese free-agent signing. At least not during the first six months of his contract.)

  169. Jones and Barton are in fact showing that they would far outperform Jeffy, whose OBP is .275. You cannot — cannot — make up for that.

  170. @190

    I don’t know how to answer that question.

    It’s not as though I’m a Frenchy fan — I’m not. My entire point here is regarding the choices available to Cox. Diaz would probably be slightly better, but there’s almost no chance in my mind that he’d be significantly better, and there’s one aspect of playing the position that I don’t think he can perform at all. Stu’s other suggestions are warm bodies. Except Norton, who isn’t even that.

    It’s my opinion that Frenchy’s little fit of pique from last season has been blown out of proportion — I don’t see him as an attitude problem. He got pissed off and he vented, big deal.

  171. Stu’s other suggestions are warm bodies. Except Norton, who isn’t even that.

    In other words, all except for (possibly) Norton would be better than Francoeur, who’s been decomposing for well over a year.

  172. Yunel is a good player who hasn’t learned how a major-leaguer comports himself; Francoeur is a bad player who had a bad moment.

    But to me, Francoeur’s well past the point of discussion. When he’s gone, I’ll have a drink to celebrate. Until then, he’s just a headache & a daily drain on the entire enterprise.

  173. My point was and is that Francoeur should not start against righthanders. He is actually a credible major league right fielder against lefties.

    If Francoeur were Traded or DFA’d and if Prado were sent down and Brandon Jones and Brian Barton split right field they would be better defensively and offensively.

    If B. Jones were brought up to platoon with Frenchy, B. Jones is doing ops 798 in AAA against righthanded pitching. Knock 50 points off and he still blows Frenchy out of the water.

  174. Unless the other team starts every inning with a runner on 2nd, they’re all left-handed hitters, and we play a massive wrong-way infield overshift, whatever the role Diaz is more useful than Francoeur.

  175. Simply put, Francoeur sucks (have I mentioned that?) and anybody else we’d be at all likely to put out there would suck significantly less. I think that some people are simply underestimating the extent of his suckiness.

  176. when you’re the 2nd worst RF in baseball making almost $4 mil, you should be very replaceable

  177. Matt Diaz and Brandon Jones are more than adequate replacements for a guy whose OPS+ is currently 67.

  178. The best thing that could realistically help this team is Shcafer getting it together, make an August call up and bat .250 or so and play a good Cf. Then Nate can go to a corner and improve that spot immensely.
    Then Frank only needs to get one OF, a 2B, a future 3B.
    Piece of cake.

  179. ya know what drives me crazy about francoeur? the “he’s turning it around” statemt we continue to hear every time he get a couple of hits in a couple of games (not from this blog, but from our trusty broadcasting team. but, the truth is, for every run that francoeur gets “hot” (like the one june 22-25 where he went 6 for 16 with a couple of doubles and a homerun), there are putrid days in front and behind those successful stints:

    front:june 14-20 he went 3 for 20 with no extra base hits, one rbi and one run scored.

    behind: june 26-28 he is 1 for 9 with no rbi’s, extra base hits or runs scored.

    so, whether it looks like he’s breaking out or not, its all a f_cking mirage. the end is the same god awful result. so, jeff has seemingly turned it around in june and yet he is hitting .244avg .311obp .347 slg 2 hr 9rbi.

    one word: crap

  180. There’s just no reason Francoeur should have a job. Every day I open up my browser and look to see if he’s been DFA’d or sent to AAA yet. And every day I say, why hasn’t he yet? It’s beyond the point where there’s no excuse for him being on a major league club. Way beyond that.

  181. Well, the good news is that we have some hard-hitting stories about Francoeur’s stinking turkey underpants in the AJC.

  182. Ladies and gents, I give you this year’s entry in the Phil Wellman Braves Minor League Manager Going Apeshit contest:

    http://blogs.augusta.com/node/3046

    With his team’s putrid offense, it’s amazing this sort of meltdown doesn’t happen more often.

    edit–Mets down 5 in the 7th!

  183. I bet these tirade shows are premeditated and intended to entertain more than anything else.

  184. Maybe Wellman & this joker think they’re auditioning for Bobby’s job. A very minor-league act, I gotta say. Max Patkin was funnier.

  185. Wellman should have been fired last year. Maybe putting up with this garbage is part of the problem with the organization. Coaches may be spending more time yelling and screaming than actually coaching.

  186. So who does everyone think is going to start the All Star Game? My money is on Greinke vs. Lincecum/Cain.

  187. Alex,
    You cannot blame Bobby for the fact that KJ, Frenchy, Schafer and Kotchman have all under performed. In the case of Jeff and Jordan way under performed. If anything I do blame Bobby for running Francouer out there everyday. And KJ for that matter. But in his defense, Diaz was making an F in his try at being a regular last year before he was injured, Infante was getting a lot of playing time before he got hurt and Prado looks good only in spurts. The legendary Cox patience with his players when they are in a slump, the patience that has built a loyal following over the decades is causing consternation with the Braves fan base. Justifiably so. But I still contend that we could just get KJ or Kotchman to give us average play at the same time as the other guys then we aren’t talking about Bobby leaving. But having 3 or 4 guys totally suck at once is killing us.

    As for Escobar, its not like Bobby hasn’t punished him. If the kid doesn’t respond to playing the Braves way then I guarantee he’ll be gone as fast as you can say Kenny Lofton, or Tim Spooneybarger. But he is a talent and right now he is the only option at SS.

  188. didnt the Rays seriously consider trading Crawford last year? check out his numbers

    .316/.374/.443/.817 7HR’s 40SB’s

  189. The only thing I can think of is that Wren doesn’t want to give Frenchy away for nothing, but we reached the “addition by subtraction” point a long time ago.

    Trading Escobar is ridiculous. There is no reasonable scenario under which he is even adequately replaced. Throw in his contract situation and the idea becomes even more stupid.

    However, the biggest thing that is pissing me off currently (as the team has evolved to just depressing) is my St. Louis friends trying to justify Molina starting over McCann in the AS game because he is a more “complete” catcher. Unreal.

  190. Frenchy sucks because the entire Braves organization sucks. Mediocrity has become the norm, not the exception. Any other team would have given Bobby Cox the boot years ago.

    This is what corporate ownership leaves US, the fans with.

    People in management and the front office who know that they are accountable to no one. This team cannot play defense, run the bases or even have some semblance or idea of what sound fundamental baseball is all about.

    The donkey is an ASS and as long as Cox, Wren and their cronies are around, we can look forward to more of the same.

  191. @219

    I know. I just traded him in our work fantasy league and think it was a decent deal, but it still killed me.

    Crawford and Mike Gonzalez for Chase Utley and Brian McCann.

  192. 222,
    Assuming that is a roto league you cleaned up on that trade. I’m last in SB in my league and I had to trade Lomgoria, Adam Lind, and Ryan Braun for Crawford, Ethier, and ARod to get him.

  193. That’s what I thought. Still 5-7 though in a 14 team league. It was a $40 buy in and its driving me insane I’m not doing better. Though I drafted Manny in 2nd round and getting him back should help.

    Regarding your trade, that’s tough. I don’t see a clear cut winner, though IMO I like buying ARod low (I think people forget the kind of sick numbers that his AVERAGE year equates to), and Eithier’s 3 HR night couldn’t have hurt.

  194. I had a rant earlier about the Diaz and the backup QB, spit the bit thing.

    Don’t misunderstand, Frenchy has sucked bigtime. I just think it is overly simplistic to think moving JUST HIM would fix our offensive issues. It won’t because 1st and 2nd base are still holes in the lineup, and LF isn’t much more than one.

    Now if the braves are not way out when Infante comes back, maybe he can man 2b that would help lengthen the lineup and balance it out a little. Then if the braves can pick up someone on the cheap to play 1st, (just an example but Garrett Atkins is starting to come on and the Rockies may deal him for SP). Once things like that happen, then I will start buying the whole ‘value over replacement thing’ because our lineup would actually resemble an average MLB lineup.

    This lineup the braves run out there is really the worst I have ever seen. Getting rid of ONLY Franceour will help, but only minutely. To get the desired results an overhaul has to be performed.

    Again, we should not be having to deal with this. The braves supposedly have some money and a deep farm system, why do we have to put up with the garbarge?????? Seems to me management sucks too.

  195. @225

    I’d rather just put Barbaro there instead of Atkins, especially considering the contract.

  196. The pin heads and jelly bean counters have led us to believe that it’s the offense which is to blame.

    This could not be a more obvious misspoken error.

    The offense while putrid is good enough to support the pitching. The defense however, is not. Like the Mets, we are well below average when it comes to catching the ball. Until the defensive problems are addressed, this Braves team has no chance at competing.

  197. I’ll leave this quite little blog with one nugget of truth and retire for the night.

    Remember 1991? Cox had already rebuilt the minor league farm system and moved from the GM’s chair back into the dugout as the manager.

    The pitching was in place with Smoltz, Glavine, Avery and Leibrandt. As was the offense.

    So what was the first thing that John Schuerholz did as the Braves new GM? You got it. He brought in players who could catch the ball and play defense. Pendleton, Nixon, Bream and Belliard all had one thing on common. They were all above average defensive players and could hit the ball too. Nixon’s speed didn’t hurt either.

    Scheurholz supported his young pitching with defense and speed and then a funny thing happened, they started the longest division winning streak in ML history.

  198. Fielding helped that team a lot, sure, but the ’91 Braves finished 2nd in the NL in runs, 3rd in HRs.

    This team is 13th in both categories.

  199. @230 That’s surprising, I never thought that team was so good offensively, but that was in a different era. At the same time, I do realize that offense is much better than the one we are seeing now.

  200. Diaz in LF against lefties and in RF against righties.

    Obvious, isn’t it? At least until we get someone better.

    I just do not understand Bobby Cox.

  201. I think the Braves have had a problem, IMO going all the way back to Justice and Gant, with players quickly plateauing at the ML level and not getting better. But I’m not sure how much blame you can pin on Cox. To some extent, the Braves have had a tradition of rushing guys to the majors and this might have stunted their growth. Alternatively, perhaps, these guys are well-coached in the minors so that they look better than they really are and they simply have no more upside when they get to the majors. It’s a little hard for me to believe that Bobby Cox is the reason that Francouer and KJ,and Jo Jo, and Davies, et. al, have been major disappointments. I just don’t see what a manager can do to make his players better than they are. These are professional ballplayers getting paid a lot of money to do something they have presumably dreamed of doing their entire lives; do they really need some kind of motivation to play well?

    I’m not really trying to defend Bobby because I do think it’s time for a new voice. But, I am skeptical about how much effect any manager has on game results; I see Charlie Manual make seemingly boneheaded moves all the time but, guess what? Having Chase Utley and Ryan Howard can cure a lot of ills. It’s a little harder when you have Casey Kotchman, Jeff Francouer, and Martin Prado.

  202. Marc @ #236
    I believe coaching never ends. Many of these athletes are very young and extremely immature and probably need more career guidance than most of us.
    They are coddled and sheltered for most of their lives and need to be shown the way.
    Most of us learn it the through experience but our timelines are different than an athletes.

    How many guys finally seem to get it when the hit their late 20’s? Many, but then then they flame out as father time catches up to them.

    anyway, francouer sucks, and KJ too.

  203. @236,

    I think Chipper clearly stepped forward again and again. Javy Lopez did. Even Klesko and Jermaine Dye did (Dye was up and down and has continued that since leaving the Braves, but at hgher levels consistent with the aging curve). Gant did top off, but I am not so sure that Justice didn’t do something similar to Dye. Andruw Jones added power and walk rate, although BA never seemed to come up.

    And understand, my criticism of lack of player improvement is not with “so and so PROJECTS to be” based on minor league stats and scouting reports. I am talking about actual ML numbers for more than a season (long enough for scouting to catch up like it did with Frenchy and Langerhans) and THEN falling off.

    Some of that may be poor coach selection. TP certainly doesn’t seem like a great hitting coach. I am still not sure about McDowell. But coach selection is heavily the choice of the manager. So, if coach selection is off, that is a strike against the manager.

  204. In reference to the current state of the Braves, I am reminded of a great Leo Durocher story.

    Leo’s first managing gig was as player manager of the Cubs (late 30’s?). On a particular day of swirling winds, a fly ball was hit to left and the fielder camped under it only to have it drop 10 feet away by a late wind surge.

    Later in the same inning another ball was hit in the air to left. Again, the wind swirled late, in the opposite direction, and the ball fell in.

    When the left fielder came in at the end of the inning Durocher was fuming. he said “Give me your glove. I can do better than that.”

    Next inning when Leo went out, fly ball to left, late wind surge, ball drops in.

    After the inning the players don’t even want to look at Durocher. He storms into the dugout, looks square at the deposed left fielder and says “so and so, you have f****d up left field so bad that nobody can play it.”

    Hopefully, this team is not quite there yet.

  205. You’re looking at it backwards. Chipper, Andruw, Javy, Justice: all of those guys were extremely talented players (as projected by their minor league numbers.) Jeff Francoeur and Ryan Langerhans, to use your examples, were NEVER talented players. They NEVER projected as MLB starters. Go back and look at his numbers in Rome and MS. All Jeff Francoeur ever showed was “the good face.” He never produced truly projectable offensive numbers. He never earned the hype and “prospect” label that was bestowed upon him. He was always Mike Kelly with a fanclub.

    Jeff Francoeur has exactly one (1) month of better-than-pedestrian production: July of 2005. That he posted that month during the “can we find anyone to replace Raul Mondesi” scramble does not make him a prospect. He, nor Langerhans, never was such a thing.

    Stepping outside of the Braves’ system, can anyone think of a franchise that is notable for developing players after they come to the majors? I can’t think of any.

  206. On playing Ross more, moving McCann to first (some), etc.

    Ross has a 3 year moving average that says he is a lefty killer. Batting against lefties he is ops 850 or so. Against righthanders, 700 or so.

    So, what needs to happen is that Ross needs to play first or catch against lefties with McCann spelling Kotchman when Ross catches. If Ross catches against righties, you would be better off to have Kotchman at first and McCann catching.

    IF we have a lefthanded starter once every 3 games, and with an off day once and a while, McCann still probably couldn’t cover at first all of the days he didn’t catch. He would probably only be able to catch 1 of 4 and then play close to 120 games at first.

    I don’t know that this is an endorsement, but in the few games I saw Barbaro play first, he looked better fielding than Big Papi looked this weekend.

  207. Okay… I’m boarding a plane which reads D-ACHE on the side… Should I be worried…?

  208. Sam,

    It is not DEVELOPING players after they get to the Majors. Teams don’t really do that.

    It is that the OVERWHELMING evidence is that players (particularly position players) get better continuously until around age 29 (then they drop off). It is a function of age and learning and how they interact and impact performance. (Certainly if training is inadequate, that can lower performance improvement).

    As to any one player, this is not guaranteed, but for every player whose performance drops off, you should have 2 to 3 that improve. If you didn’t, there is no way that the statistics would show the aging curve as it is. Most players HAVE to be getting better.

    If you segregate out the absolute worst players, maybe they peak around 25 (Langerhans, Pete Orr). JC did some work on that. These guys usually debut in ML at 25 or more and are mediocre at their best, then fall off.

    I don’t agree with your view of Francoeur’s abilites as projected when he was in the minor leagues. He was not ocnsidered an “elite” prospect by other organizations or services. However, he wss expected to be a better than average offensive major league outfielder. Some of his stats were severely impacted by the ball that caved his face in, for example.

    And I am not asserting that Cox or the Braves system have caused the players to NOT grow with the aging curve. I am saying that it is FAR beyond coincidence that this team’s RECENT players don’t seem to fit the aging curve (McCann is the seeming lone exception).

    Is anybody aware of anybody else (position player) getting better from age 23 or 25 to advanced ages (up to 29 or so) on the Braves this decade?

  209. Would the Expos and/or Marlins qualify as organizations that develop players.

    Or, are they examples of teams that find and sign good players.

    Kinda like the Ginger or Mary Ann question – the answer is always “both”.

  210. @248,

    Ginger and Mary Ann could probably hit better than Francouer; at least their on-base percentage would be higher. :)

  211. Wasn’t Francoeur our top prospect and a number one pick? If I remember correctly, the big reason he wasn’t selected hihger in that year’s draft was because most teams thought he was going to go to college.

    I think McCann may have come up too soon. He had the bat to hit at the big league level, but he was really raw behind the plate. He is getting better, but he aint no Johnny Bench back there.

  212. I am well aware of the bell curve around age-28/29 seasons, when looking at aggregate averages. Individual players don’t necessarily follow that trend to the letter but the average is there. It’s not as set in stone as previously believed. Someone (I forget who) revisited Bill James’ original work recently and found a good deal more vairance in the “peak at 29” theory, but it’s still useful as a rough and dirty marker.

    The Braves don’t seem to me to be notably off of that generic curve. Excepting Kelly Johnson, who’s season to date is difficult to explain using standard SABR friendly analysis, there aren’t that many surprises in this or recent Braves teams.

    Jeff Francoeur, regardless of where he was drafted or how googley-eyed the teenage girls in Rome went when they played “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” when he came to bat, was never much of a major league prospect. He never controlled the plate. He never dominated his league. He flashed power and manage to hit on instict against low-minor pitchers. (At the time he was playing CF, and if he had maintained that defensive position he’d have been a bit more interesting, but he didn’t.) When he was called up to the majors ML pitchers tested him with fastballs and he feasted on the straight, hard stuff for 3-4 weeks. Then ML pitchers started throwing him breaking balls and he cratered. He’s never uncratered, because he lacks the basic skills necessary to hit in the majors. This isn’t a problem with the Braves not developing talent. It’s a problem with the Braves not recognizing the lack thereof.

    Brian McCann, on the other hand, has the talent. He is also, oddly enough, progressing quite nicely along the theoretical “age curve.” Of course, when you start hitting like Johnny Bench as a 25 year old you’re probably going to plateau and “not develop” as the generic arc would say you should, but that’s a problem with the generic arc, not the individual player’s development.

    Yunel Escobar is progressing nicely enough to, his attitude/concentration issues notwithstanding. Kelly was looking good until this year. Marcus Giles sort of plateaued, but that was more to do with chemicals than coaching. Andruw and Javy and Chipper and Justice all fit reasonably well into the age curve, if not perfectly. Individual players will have individual performances, after all.

    I just don’t see what you’re getting at. The Braves have developed a lot of talent over the last 20 years. They have had some spectacular failures over the last three.

    *Casey Kotchman is cratering in Atlanta, but I suspect that has more to do with the 20 extra feet to the RCF power alleys in Turner Field (as compared to The Big Halo) than failure of coaching. I’m no great fan of Terry Pendleton but I don’t know that he’s actively harming anyone either.

  213. “*Casey Kotchman is cratering in Atlanta, but I suspect that has more to do with the 20 extra feet to the RCF power alleys in Turner Field (as compared to The Big Halo) than failure of coaching.”

    That is very interesting, and the first logical explanation I have seen about Kotchman’s complete loss of power (he has 4 HR in 417 AB’s since becoming a Brave, with only 1 at Turner field). It is kind of odd, because he is a pretty big guy. If this continues, we have to get him out of here, as that decent 2007 season with the Angels might have low relevance for waht he can achieve here.

  214. Yaaaawn…. I did actually fall asleep but ACHE got me home on time after a tardy departure. Hm,guess he’ll have a good game tonight.

  215. This just isn’t a good team. They look solid on paper, but the things that don’t show up on paper are what kill us.

    Look at the little things like Frenchy getting thrown out at third on Sunday or all the balls Anderson as half-assed after.

    Then the other team makes a mistake, the Braves aren’t taking advantage. Good teams take advatage of other teams misques.

  216. bfan@254

    If this continues, we have to get him out of here, as that decent 2007 season with the Angels might have low relevance for waht he can achieve here.

    I’ve been digging into Kotchman a little (because honestly, how many different ways are their to say “Francoeur sucks?”) The Braves need to move him. Now. He will never hit for power in Atlanta.

  217. Kotchman has 35 career homeruns. Using B-REF, the breakdown of those HRs:

    RF – 26
    RCF – 5
    CF – 3
    LCF – 1

    Parks:

    Angel Stad 12
    Fenway Pk – 3
    Camden Yards – 3
    Rangers Bpk – 3
    CitizensBank – 3
    Safeco Fld – 2
    NetworkAssoc – 1
    Metrodome – 1
    Dolphin Stad – 1
    US Cellular – 1
    Yankee Stad – 1
    Turner Fld – 1
    TropicanaFld – 1
    Comerica Pk – 1
    GreatAmer BP – 1

  218. I just used hittracker online to compare Kotchman’s HRs last year to Turner Field. 7 of the 14 would not clear the fence in right. Wow.

  219. @256,

    They are a solid team on paper only if you think a team with no power and no speed is solid. Obviously, the Braves assumed (or purported to) that Francouer would “recover” his 2006 form, that Kotchman would show power that he had never had (or at the very least would become a Mark Grace-type doubles hitter), that Garrett Anderson was actually a good hitter, that Kelly Johnson was going to have a break out year and, initially, that Jordan Schaefer, with elss than 100 games of double A ball was ready for the majors. The only one of these assumptions that even made sense was KJ. (I will acknowledge that Anderson has shown a little pop recently and is not a total disaster offensively–defense is another story).

    I think the Braves deluded themselves that this was a solid lineup. Granted, some of the players have had exceptionally bad years, such as KJ, and they could have legitimately expected Kotchman to be better. But pretty much everything would have had to fall into place for this to be a solid lineup. Oddly enough, pretty much everything has fallen into place for the pitching (even though Lowe is struggling now).

    BTW, if you want a few laughs, go read Joe Morgan’s chat on ESPN.com. His comments are priceless.

  220. If anyone is interested, the Gwinnett Braves are playing on the MLB Network right now. Chance to see how Schafer’s coming along, also maybe look at at Barton and Jones… I think Todd Redmond is the starter.

  221. Yesterday’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette had a story on Charlie Morton in which it is disclosed that the Braves should have gotten Jason Bay last year. The Pirates wanted Lillibridge (back), Locke, Brandon Jones and Morton but Wren refused to include Morton.

  222. @265 – I don’t really blame him. From the accounts I read, they had agreed to a deal only to have the someone on Pittsburg side to nix it because he wanted more. It’s just not good business to let people walk over you like that. When you agree to a deal, it should be final. I know that’s not how it works, but what else can you do.

  223. So for what they would have paid for Bay they got McLouth and Javy Vasquez.

  224. 266—The story is that Huntington, the GM, agreed to the deal (which included Concepcion Rodriguez instead of Morton), but ownership wanted more major-league-readiness in return for Bay, so the agreement was revoked.

  225. Sam,

    Name 1 (just one), other than McCann, Brave position player entering MLB since 2000 and entereing on or before his year 27 season who improved a significant amount to age 29. Just 1.

    Saying “The Braves don’t seem to have trouble developing players…” and citing Justice, Chipper, Andruw and such is either a deliberate or ignorant failure to address my proposition. The problem is that RECENTLY this team consistently (and far outside of random chance) has, at its major league level, position playing ballplayers that do not progress in their mid 20’s.

  226. @ 252 AAR,

    But did DeRosa track improvement on the age curve while he was with the Braves? My memory is he didn’t and that is part of why they were reluctant to put enough on the table to re-sign him. it was after DeRosa got to Texas that he moved forward as an offensive player.

  227. Cliff,

    Kelly Johnson up until this year. Yunel Escobar. Have the Braves produced superstar with regularity since 2000? No. But then again, they’ve been drafting pretty low since the early 90s, and eventually that hits the farm system pretty hard. That’s why there’s this painful lull in ML quality players between McCann/Escobar and Schafer/Heyward.

  228. @267 Hardly. Tyler Flowers is the player that got us Vazquez. Plenty of other players could have been substituted for Lillibridge. And we would also still have Gorkys. It is true we’ll have McLouth for two additional seasons. But Bay could have actually helped us get to the playoffs this year. Especially if we could have played him in RF.

  229. In fairness, Bay wasn’t necessarily considered the player he is now. He was coming off a couple of relatively mediocre seasons, as I recall, and while he was having a good year last year, I doubt anyone could have foreseen that he would become a monster with the Red Sox (or maybe Theo Epstein did). Sometimes, you just get lucky.

  230. Re: Bay, the exact same thing happened with Barry Bonds. The deal was done, only to be nixed by the owners.

    The Pirates have had a screwed-up FO for a long long long time.

    Also, Cliff, yeah. DeRosa didn’t really grow until he left the Braves. But he definitely did grow, substantially, after coming up from the minors. And Wilson Betemit, after kicking around between the minors and the majors as a former top prospect, had a couple pretty good years as an Infante-type backup with slight pop, though his career’s sorta in question now, considering how bad he’s been this year.

  231. Also, Bay had a really down year in 2007, but was terrific 2004-2006, and the past couple years he’s produced basically at the exact same clip as before.

    I remember being concerned about him going forward, but now that seems fairly silly, considering that 2007 looks like a complete aberration in an otherwise very consistent, Burrellesque career.

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