Braves 11, Phillies 1

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – July 01, 2009 – ESPN

You can’t win much more convincingly than that. The Braves chased Cole Hamels in the fifth inning, while Jair Jurrjens took a no-hitter to two out in the seventh.

The early offense was mostly provided by MVP candidate Martin Prado and Chipper Jones. In the third, Prado doubled home two runs, including Blanco from first (see, it can be done!) and then scored on a Chipper single. In the fifth, Chipper doubled home two including Prado from first; Prado can not be stopped even by Brian Snitker, and ran through the stop sign. Chipper came home on a McCann single to make it 6-1; that was it for Hamels. Diaz homered to make it 8-1, and then Diory Hernandez (!) hit his first homer to make it 9-1.

The Phillies still didn’t have a hit. Their run came on a walk, a two-base throwing error on a pickoff, and a sac fly in the fourth. Jurrjens just got stronger after that, getting a lot of lazy fly balls. The hit finally came with two out in the seventh, courtesy of Paul Bako, of all people. Bobby lifted Jurrjens at the end of the inning having allowed just that one hit (they got one more off of Medlen in the eighth) with four walks and six strikeouts.

Diaz had three hits; Chipper, McCann, and Prado had two each. Everybody had one except the slumping Kotchman.

99 thoughts on “Braves 11, Phillies 1”

  1. I watched a fair bit of the game and think I dislocated my jaw and had it knock a hole in my floor when Diory with his .135 BA hit his first HR.

  2. Look at that! Suddenly just three games back in a crowded field and during a tough, tough homestand. Let’s see what happens tonight and then hope that the bats and arms stay hot on a road trip against the Nats, Cubs, and Rocks.

  3. KJ in the AJC:

    “I’m not playing well, not hitting well,” Johnson said. “I want to get on track. I want to be in a good position and be ready, so I can have good at-bats and just play as good as I can to help the team win.”

    Johnson is prepared for whatever role that turns out to be, even if it’s strictly coming off the bench.

    “I want us to win games,” Johnson said. “I want to do what I can to be a part of it, to help and do my part. That’s the bottom line. That could be a number of things. That could be bunting, running the bases, defense late in a game, it could be being a good cheerleader, being a good teammate.”

    Love his attitude and self awareness.

  4. From the last thread:

    @56 You have just decided that the 14 year run means Cox is the best and until Cox decides to step down, it is not appropriate to look at it. You can choose to take that position. You cannot accurately contend that there is no evidence pointing to a significant problem with the Braves’ manager.

    I have decided that amassing more wins than virtually every other manager to take the field gives him some leeway. Having had success actually carries weight for me, yes. I find the “evidence pointing to a significant problem” with Cox to be underwhelming at best. Having your late inning relievers pitch to defined roles, such as he did with EOF two nights ago, is a plus, not a minus. The alternative, treating those guys as if they were randomly interchangable cogs of a machine rather than human beings would be bad management. By defining roles you allow a player to understand his fundamental job description, how you expect him to perform and when, and what will be judged as failure. It’s classic optimum people management, and Cox does that better than virtually anyone in the game.

    @64 He’s a slave to the reliever-inning heirarchy concept (I think I just made that term up) which is mathematically provable to be a less than optimal usage pattern.

    I’ve cut this down to what I read as the most telling point. You seem to be upset that Cox doesn’t manage to mathamatical formula. I am not only fine with him not doing that, I am happy the Braves have a manager who understands and manages people instead. As to the argument that Cox has never been good, only lucky, I don’t have a response to that because I think that argument exits the realm of rational debate. Bobby Cox has won more games in MLB than only a handful of men. If success at his job – winning ballgames hand over fist – is not evidence of an aptitude for that job, I have no idea what is.

  5. I’m actually glad Bako got the hit; JJ would have had to extend himself (as Bobby noted) to get the no hitter and no need to risk his arm.

    Does anyone realize how mediocre the Phillies really are, especially with Ibanez out? Last year, they won because the bullpen was perfect, they had a weird spell over the Braves in Atlanta, and the Mets fell apart again. They caught lightning in a bottle last year, but they are eminently beatable–although whether the Braves can do it is more doubtful. I think the Marlins actually have a shot–they are doing to the Nats this year what the Phillies did to the Braves last year.

  6. Someone in the last thread suggested sending Johnson to the minors. While it might help, KJ can’t go to the minors because he’s out of options. He would be snapped up quickly by another team. The Braves could creatively DL him and send him to its instructional facilities, but I don’t think that would help. Like all rough patches in life, I think you just have to ride it out and wait for things to slowly get better.

  7. Mac, what else can they do? The job of a major league baseball team is to win major league baseball games. Kelly Johnson has not been contributing to that goal for over three months. I love the guy as much as you, and I suspect he’ll be at least the LH half of a potentially very-good platoon at 2B in the second half. But right now he is clusterf*cked in every aspect of the game. Leaving him out there to “figure it out” at the ML level makes no more sense than leaving Schafer (or Francoeur) out there. I’d like to see him sent to Gwinnett. Call up Greg Norton and let Kelly sort his swing out without the pressure. When he gets it back together, call him up in place of Diory Hernandez.

  8. If he’s out of options, that does screw up the minor league assignment.

  9. I love how, well actually hate how, Prado was able to run through a stop sign and score without a throw to the plate. How is that possible? Snitker might be the worst third base coach we’ve had

  10. All I can figure is either Rollins or whoever was calling out to him got deked by the stop sign — otherwise, that was the most ridiculous Snitker yet.

  11. He’s basically gone the other way from sending everyone and getting waaaaay too many runners thrown out at the plate to being afraid to send anyone any time.

  12. Manager wins are at least as meaningless as pitcher wins if not more. The name of the game is scoring runs and preventing the other team from doing so. When one strategy prevents more runs and another prevents fewer runs but makes the players feel warm and fuzzy, I will pick the strategy that prevents the most runs every time. If the players don’t like it then it’s up to the manager to explain why the other strategy is more optimal, not to cave to whatever the players want. If the idea is to let the players do whatever makes them feel the best, why have a manager at all? Bobby certainly doesn’t let the fact that players hate bunting prevent him from employing it with irrational frequency. Would you call that a negative mark for him?

  13. Fair point Mac, I hate to see him sucking… but it’s nice that he’s at least got a good attitude about it and not an “I’m a Major League ballplayer dammit!” one.

  14. If the players hate bunting so much, why do they jump up to congratulate whoever does it?

  15. @6

    “Keith Lockhart knew how to win.”

    Klobb, Roids Boone, Corky, and Frenchos (The Outmaker) all have places at the top of the hate list, but man did I loathe me some Lockhart. Between his nervous face and GIDP-ready bat, the man shouted impotence- for himself and the organization- through a megaphone. That the Braves allowed such a gloriously useless player to retire fat and happy enrages me.

  16. @14

    Manager wins are at least as meaningless as pitcher wins if not more. The name of the game is scoring runs and preventing the other team from doing so.

    Seriously? Because I’m pretty sure the point is to win ball games. If you win 1-0 or 14-9, it’s still a win. Bobby Cox has been the manager of teams that won ball games more often than only two or three guys in the century plus long history of the game. If that’s not a positive in his favor for you, I begin to doubt your basic understanding of the game. (This is not an ad hominem attack, so don’t fall down that rabbit hole again.)

    When one strategy prevents more runs and another prevents fewer runs but makes the players feel warm and fuzzy, I will pick the strategy that prevents the most runs every time.

    And you may succeed for a short period of time. But in due course the players you treat like cattle and/or robots will cease to perform for you, no matter how “optimal” your strategy might look on paper. Have you ever managed a resource for any extended period of time? I suspect not. People have to be managed *as people*, not as potential elements of a perfect formula you have programmed into the laptop.

    If the players don’t like it then it’s up to the manager to explain why the other strategy is more optimal, not to cave to whatever the players want. If the idea is to let the players do whatever makes them feel the best, why have a manager at all? Bobby certainly doesn’t let the fact that players hate bunting prevent him from employing it with irrational frequency. Would you call that a negative mark for him?

    There’s so much wrong here. First off, it is not the manager’s job to explain everything to his players, but it is his job to communicate to the players what is expected of them, how he plans to use them and how they will be judged in their roles. It’s also his job to motivate his players to perform in their assigned roles, even when their assigned roles are not the starting positions they’ve dreamed of filling since they were kids. It certainly helps in this task for a manager to convey a sense of his overall strategy, in order to get buy-in from his players, but detailed “explanation” is not required every time. How that works out varies from person to person. Chipper may not need as much managing (especially at this point in his career) than some other player.

    Of course, you never have to “explain” to the point where you lose control of the clubhouse. That’s a common mistake made by younger managers. In all of these aspects of the game, Bobby Cox excels. It has nothing to do with making sure players “do whatever makes them feel best.” It has everything to do with communicating to players what is expected of them and assuring the team and the player that they are set up to succeed in those expectations as best as possible. That’s management. It’s a real job, and it isn’t easy. It requires understandings of human beings far removed from optimal spreadsheet calcs of where you get a theoretical .05 benefit in Runs Created.

    As for bunts, you’re wrong to assume that players hate them. Players, like most managers and “baseball men” consider a successful sacrifice bunt to be a step toward winning ball games.

  17. I was unaware he was out of options. I guess he was 40-man’d long before he debuted. Well, screw that idea. Sucks, because that probably is the best thing for him. Maybe they’ll put him on the DL with an “Anxiety Disorder” and he’ll immediately begin a rehab assignment.

  18. i agree with Sam 100%….mr. swings statement about wins being meaningless is the dumbest goddamn thing i’ve ever read. ………a manager has to deal with real people with real personalities, problems and egos. not to mention aches and pains………he doesnt have the luxury of sending 9 stat sheets out there like some geeky fantasy team “manager’

  19. csg @ 11 “Snitker might be the worst third base coach we’ve had”

    without question. One of the reasons for the base running gaffs they’ve had is that the players no longer trust him and are ignoring him. I can’t figure out why Bobby sticks with him (other than, that’s what Bobby does).

  20. (knocking on wood)

    So due to the economy, and my terrible choice of career, I had to cancel my mlb.tv two days ago and look what happened! Had I known it would have this effect I would have done this a long time ago!

    The last two games remind me of a game last year when bobby finally put Josh Anderson and Blanco in the lineup one after the other (though I think they may have batted like 7/8 instead of 1/2) and with their speed they manufactured a couple of runs. We don’t have power but we do have guys like prado, blanco, diory etc who aren’t blazing but aren’t B-Mac either.

    Maybe this was the plan with Jordan that didn’t materialize because he couldn’t get on base?

    Great to see the team do what it can do rather than try to do what it hasn’t a snowball chance in hell of doing (hitting enough HRs to win the game every time out). It seems like maybe the HRs are coming because they aren’t pressing for them.

    knock on wood

  21. I just saw an article on msn.com

    “Jermaine Jackson says: I wish it was me”

    We all do Jermaine, we all do.

  22. Platoon KJ in RF with Matt Diaz and send Francoeur down to Gwinnett. Three problems solved!

  23. Platoon Blanco and Diaz in RF and send Jeffrey anywhere but in our farm system

    can we lay off the GD comments here

  24. @20

    Seriously? Because I’m pretty sure the point is to win ball games. If you win 1-0 or 14-9, it’s still a win. Bobby Cox has been the manager of teams that won ball games more often than only two or three guys in the century plus long history of the game. If that’s not a positive in his favor for you, I begin to doubt your basic understanding of the game. (This is not an ad hominem attack, so don’t fall down that rabbit hole again.)

    It’s pretty well established that in judging a team’s performance, breaking wins and losses down into their components (runs scored and runs allowed) will yield a much more accurate projection of future wins and losses than the actual current total of wins and losses. That uses math, though, which by your reckoning has no place in the game of baseball. When a manager uses strategies that don’t maximize RS and RA, he is managing poorly regardless of whether his team wins in spite of his foolish tactics. Winning 1-0 by virtue of a spectacular pitching performance and in spite of the manager’s foolish choice of lineup does not indicate to me that manager has done well on that day. Do you really believe that Connie Mack is the greatest manager ever because he had the most wins?

    And you may succeed for a short period of time. But in due course the players you treat like cattle and/or robots will cease to perform for you, no matter how “optimal” your strategy might look on paper. Have you ever managed a resource for any extended period of time? I suspect not. People have to be managed *as people*, not as potential elements of a perfect formula you have programmed into the laptop.

    You forgot to add “in your mom’s basement” at the end of that. I don’t think you could possibly provide any evidence to support this so I’ll pass here other than to say that I’m sure that players like to win. When one strategy wins more games than another players will surely hearken to it.
    …Of course, you never have to “explain” to the point where you lose control of the clubhouse. That’s a common mistake made by younger managers. In all of these aspects of the game, Bobby Cox excels.
    How can you know this? This Bobby Cox as clubhouse guru theory is trotted out all the time by Cox supporters who cannot possibly know if it’s true or not. Have you played for Bobby? I won’t even go into the relevance of clubhouse dynamics which are always trumped up by fans who don’t care to understand more complicated analysis of the game.

    As for bunts, you’re wrong to assume that players hate them. Players, like most managers and “baseball men” consider a successful sacrifice bunt to be a step toward winning ball games.

    I won’t pretend that my experience is a representative sample but I’ve never talked to a hitter that likes being called on to bunt. A confident hitter believes he can hit any pitcher at any time. It’s an insult to his pride and abilities to insinuate otherwise by calling on him to intentionally make a “useful out”. If they love bunting so much, why are they almost to a man so bad at it.

  25. “I’ve never talked to a hitter that likes being called on to bunt.”

    That’s another reason why it’s called a sacrifice.

  26. @29 – Sorry man, but you just sound like you have no clue what you are talking about.

  27. @29 – To clarify my previous statement. I hope for the sake of the people that may reside under you that you never obtain a managerial position. Someone who believes people can be managed via some methmatical formula just doesn’t make sense.

  28. @32 – yes, now if only he could get his wife to wash them every day. He needs to get that woman in check.

    …and to any women on here, that was joke – no attempt to offend.

  29. It’s pretty well established that in judging a team’s performance, breaking wins and losses down into their components (runs scored and runs allowed) will yield a much more accurate projection of future wins and losses than the actual current total of wins and losses.

    Which is all fine and good if we were talking about projecting wins and losses against a potential future season. If you want to run RC/9 or ZIPS or PECOTA projections in the off-season, that’s all fine and good. But that has less than nothing to do with managing a baseball team, day to day, during the course of a season. You’re attempting to leverage a tool designed for high level aggregate data against an individual performance confined to a sample set so small as to make your basic assumptions meaningless. Statistically, you’re applying false precision to a fluid, human dynamic. That strategy will fail every time.

    That uses math, though, which by your reckoning has no place in the game of baseball.

    A friendly suggestion for you; if you’re going to clamor around the internets lecturing others on the technicalities of formal argumentation, try to avoid obvious strawmen fallacies in your own writing. I have never, and would never, reckon that math “has no place in the game of baseball” and I most certainly haven’t proposed as much in this conversation with you. Argue my points or drag your tail between your legs and scuttle back down to the basement, son. Don’t put weak arguments in my mouth just because it makes your position look slightly less inept than it actually is.

    And for the record, unless I’m far removed from reality in my assessment of you, I was debating the place of advanced statistical modeling in baseball while you were taking Algebra I in middle school.

    Do you really believe that Connie Mack is the greatest manager ever because he had the most wins?

    I believe that the game of baseball is centered around winning baseball games. I believe there are many ways to win baseball games, and that great managers successfully assess the skills of the players on a given roster and tailor their strategies and in-game decisions to those players and skills. If a manager does that well, his team will win baseball games. If a manager does that poorly, his team will lose baseball games. (If a manager doesn’t have the skills to use, his team will lose but it will not necessarily be his fault.)

    Over the course of a few games, even a season or two, a manager who is bad at assessing players and using them properly may win or lose due to randomness and chance. Over the course of decades in the game, the randomness will sort itself out of the sample and managerial talent will begin to become apparent. Connie Mack, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox; these men have all shown themselves to be talented, regardless of whether or not they are applying your preferred statistical model to the game. Because they win baseball games.

    You forgot to add “in your mom’s basement” at the end of that.

    It would be presumptious of me to assume your mom had a basement.

    I won’t pretend that my experience is a representative sample but I’ve never talked to a hitter that likes being called on to bunt.

    Few want to be the backup middle infielder or the long reliever out of the pen either. Yet someone has to do that job when it’s called for. Such is the way of the game.

    Let me sum up my position succinctly, okay? Tactics is not management. You have an issue with Bobby Cox’ tactics because you think you know more about the game than he does. Leaving aside the hubris involved in that assumption, you need to come to terms with the fact that a manager’s job *involves* tactics but is far from limited to as much.

  30. I disagree heartily with “Mr. Swings” on Manager wins. I would say the first and most significant way to judge a manager is manager winning percentage (not just wins. Number 1 in wins is Connie Mack who owned the club or otherwise he should have fired himself as his winning percentage is something like .450.) On this basis and on his total career, Cox is within the top 5 to 10 managers of all time. I think the postseason failures keep him from being higher on this list (and I concede that for most of the 90’s run the Braves werethe best team in their league, which may have been the weaker league). The other contemporaries who rank among the immortals are LaRussa and Torre. McGraw, Miller Huggins (who had a lot of help from talent, but still) Stengel, Weaver, Walter Alston, and a few more would be in thattop group.

    Another way to judge a manager’s ability is manager’s pythag record. That is, the win expectancy called “pytagorean wins” compared to actual wins. Over any extended period of time (2 to 3 seasons or more) only one significant thing has been found to affect this which would then leave any non random effect to appear to be the result of managing. That is bullpen quality significantly higher or lower than league, particularly in the usual 7, 8, and 9 inning “set up” and “closer” positions. That is, the ability to “squeak out wins” once you get a lead alters the pythag predictably.

    By this method, Cox’s run in the 90’s was exceptional. For the decade (well, 91 to 2000), he averaged about 6 wins over expectancy. And, he did not consistently have a talent level in the bull pen that was exceptionally good. If the game was close, the Braves usually “found aa way to win”.

    This year, the pythag is about dead on track. In 05 and 06, clearly the lagging pythag had a predictable cause from the bullpen disaster 20 plus blown saves in each season?). For 07 and 08, however, the Braves have lagged the pythag a lot.

  31. #36
    Don’t forget Joe McCarthy.

    This Bobby Cox as clubhouse guru theory is trotted out all the time by Cox supporters who cannot possibly know if it’s true or not.

    I’d lean towards true because players past & present have confirmed it over & over.

    FWIW, the Jim Leyritz downward spiral continues. He got arrested again.

  32. If success at his job – winning ballgames hand over fist – is not evidence of an aptitude for that job, I have no idea what is.

    Sam, you’re asking us to judge Bobby by wins and losses. Okay — he’s 272-291 since Opening Day, 2006. That’s not exactly hand over fist.

  33. I’d lean towards true because players players past & present have confirmed it over & over.

    From Terry Pendlton and Charlie Liebrandt to Gary Sheffield to Chipper Jones. When players UNIVERSALLY make a claim it’s safe to assume that claim is true from the players perspective.

  34. Sam, you’re asking us to judge Bobby by wins and losses. Okay — he’s 272-291 since Opening Day, 2006. That’s not exactly hand over fist.

    Please cross reference my statement about managers who do not have skills on their roster from which to choose.

  35. “Please cross reference my statement about managers who do not have skills on their roster from which to choose.”

    In which case we ignore Cox’s previous record, as rolling out a rotation of Smoltz; Glavine; and Maddux wasn’t Bobby acumen at all, but rather front office largesse and wisdom. We were, along with the Yankees, the high payroll team for most of our Bobby run, weren’t we?

  36. In which case we ignore Cox’s previous record, as rolling out a rotation of Smoltz; Glavine; and Maddux wasn’t Bobby acumen at all, but rather front office largesse and wisdom. We were, along with the Yankees, the high payroll team for most of our Bobby run, weren’t we?

    By that logic the Mets would have more wins than any non-Red Sox or Yankees team over the last decade. Yet they don’t. Weird how that happens, huh?

  37. bfan- Cliff addressed the years of 1991 – 2000 by showing that Bobby’s Braves averaged 6 more wins than expected for a 10 year range. He got more wins out of his runs allowed/runs scored. This is the only way to statistically account for the talent on those teams. With the numbers those talented teams put on the scoreboard, Bobby won more often than he should have.

    What Sam said is true:

    “I believe that the game of baseball is centered around winning baseball games. I believe there are many ways to win baseball games, and that great managers successfully assess the skills of the players on a given roster and tailor their strategies and in-game decisions to those players and skills. If a manager does that well, his team will win baseball games. If a manager does that poorly, his team will lose baseball games. (If a manager doesn’t have the skills to use, his team will lose but it will not necessarily be his fault.) ”

    Cliff pointed out that 05, 06 were both below the Pythag, but each season had 20+ blown saves. That shows me that the poor results were a matter of roster construction. Half of that, maybe, is Bobby’s fault for evaluating players to be better than they were. But maybe they knew those players wouldn’t cut it, but couldn’t afford better ones.

    Now it’s up to each individual to assess whether 07 and 08 are Bobby’s fault. We performed below our win expectancy, with no obvious blame on the bullpen..

    Are the players just not good enough? Can they not execute the tactics and strategies Bobby used to win in the past?

    Or did Bobby’s tactics and strategies stop working?

    You can hardly argue with Sam for giving Bobby the benefit of the doubt, as he has pointed out, based on his track record of historically-high success.

  38. And by the way, am I the only one who remembers Smoltz turning down more money from the Yanks, and Chipper reworking a contract to help this team? You don’t think the Braves, even in the higher spending years, gotten better talent for their money? And is it a coincidence that players, year after year, say Bobby is the manager they’d love to play for?

    Can’t measure it statistically, but I would suspect a good number of players came here for the chance to win, and to play for Bobby, even at the cost of a million dollars here or there, saving the team money, and putting more talent on the field. Seems a little unfair to hold the talent against Bobby..

  39. RE: 2007-8, you have to account for the fact that those teams were decimated by injuries to pivotal players. Should the front office have taken into consideration the fragility of Mike Gonzalez and Raffy Soriano during roster construction? Maybe. Should they have found some magic means by which to extricate themselves from Mike Hampton’s contract? It would have been nice, but I’m not sure how that would have worked. Cox recent teams have not won because they have been saddled with bad players. Considering how pivotal he is in roster construction in general, some of that certainly falls on him, but having to deal with Mike Hampton’s everything-hurts routine while not having the money to replace him with anyone but Kyle Davies or Jo-Jo Reyes isn’t necessarily the fault of the manager.

    I’m perfectly open to the argument that Cox has passed his prime. But even if we take that as a given – which I am willing to do – I have yet to see anyone make a cogent argument that his potential replacements are better than him. Chipper Jones is passed his prime as well, but I don’t think we need to replace him at 3B with Omar Infante. Given Cox’ success and the players continuing support for him the burden of proof falls squarely on the “replace him” crowd. No one has even moved that burden to date, much less lifted it.

  40. And by the way, am I the only one who remembers Smoltz turning down more money from the Yanks, and Chipper reworking a contract to help this team? You don’t think the Braves, even in the higher spending years, gotten better talent for their money? And is it a coincidence that players, year after year, say Bobby is the manager they’d love to play for?

    Add Greg Maddux to that list as well. In his free agent off-season of 1992-93 he turned down significantly more money from the Yankees to play in Atlanta. And yes, that sort of thing, repeated over and over, accrues to the manager and front office. Without Greg Maddux the Braves are a short dynasty in the early ’90s, peak in ’95 and crater by ’98-99.

  41. Yep, there’s a wide gulf between “blameless” and “needs to go”, but that’s not always easily seen.

  42. and jjschiller, Sam Hutcheson and others,

    I have given Bobby the benefit of the doubt in 2005, 2006, and 2007. By last year the decline in pythag clearly hit me in the face. I think there is a good case that a decline is occurring. I have put out much evidence of that.

    And again, I REALLY don’t want Cox fired. I am certain they are not going to do that. I just want the “Cox can have the job as long as he wants it” to be challenged.

    Think about it. People on this and other knowlegeable blogs have been overwhelmingly panning the failures of Francoeur for 3 years. I didn’t start until last year when his 07 improvement disappeared and even went below 06. But only since late April have Peanut, DOB, Mark Bradley and those kind of mainstream folk started to wake up (or be willing to express their opinion).

    I may be a rooster crowing 2 hours before dawn. But if the roosters don’t start crowing soon, everybody is going to miss out on breakfast.

    No manager / coach etc. should be allowed to choose when he exits. his ego is too much in the way. Look at Bobby Bowden. Do you really think he didn’t start falling off his peak 5 or so years ago? What about the last few years of Tommy LaSorda? Dean Smith? Earl Weaver?

    Sam may be right that Cox’s slide either hasn’t started or hasn’t reached a point of concern. I certainly think it has started and is and should be a point of concern.

  43. huge game tonight…maybe the biggest of the season.

    taking 2 of 3 and gaining only 1 game isnt that big of a success, sweeping them and getting to two back can change the rest of the season. Im hoping Javy comes out and dominates tonight

  44. There is a tendency to assume that the Braves were so talented during the 90s that anyone could have won. But that’s really not true, as the playoffs showed. Obviously, they had incredible pitching but the rest of the team, while reasonably talented, was not as good as many others–e.g., Toronto, Yankees, arguably Cleveland, and possibly Florida. It’s unfair to simply ignore Bobby’s wins and say it was just the talent and focus only on his losses in the playoffs.

    By the same token, it’s quite likely that the team was good enough to have won a lot of games regardless of who was managing. Obviously, for any manager, you are talking about a marginal difference. Then, you get into running the clubhouse, which is a nebulous concept that none of us is qualified to assess. Players obviously like and continue to like playing for Bobby, but whether that improves their performance is open to quesion, as we see from the last few years.

    I tend to think that Bobby’s skills have declined, although he has always been subject to tactics that many of us question. At the same time, I tend to also think that the sabermetric revolution has brought almost all managers into question. The fact is, few, if any, managers today manage according to sabermetric principles. AL managers probably tend to bunt less and so forth, but I doubt there is a great variation between managers in how they run a game.

    Tony LaRussa last night was talking about a game the Cards played against the Braves in 1996 where the Cards were well ahead but the Braves came back. LaRussa raved about Bobby’s tactics in using his strongest pinch hitters earlier in the game and he seemed to think that this was brilliant strategy. Was it or was it just an obvious strategy that most managers would have done?

  45. #48

    Cliff, you’re examples are guys who were clear egomaniacs, but what about Jerry Sloan? I think Cox shares more in temperament with him than the examples you cited. Sloan went 109-137 immediately following the Stockton and Malone era, but he’s retooled and started winning again.

  46. I have given Bobby the benefit of the doubt in 2005, 2006, and 2007. By last year the decline in pythag clearly hit me in the face. I think there is a good case that a decline is occurring. I have put out much evidence of that.

    What evidence I’ve seen presented here (and admittedly I don’t read every thread from start to finish) has been far from convincing. Particularly I find argument to Pythag over the course of 2005-2007 wanting. A known and notable flaw in Pythag analysis is that “blow-out” wins (or losses) will significantly skew the Pythag results. A team with a notably weak bullpen, or a team with a massive offense will break the prediction methodology of Pythagorean wins. The Braves of the last few years had major problems in their bullpens and starting rotations. As such, I suspect their P-W/L record is a bit off from reality, rather than reality being off form teh P-W/L.

    In discussing the problems of the last few years, I think there’s a tendency to over-analyze the situation. We don’t need Pythag or nebulous theories of managerial decline to explain the last three years. The decline of the Braves can be summed up much more succinctly, IMHO. After a decade and a half of winning the combined effects of low draft positions and age caught up. Even the Braves, an organization with very talented scouting and acquisition personel, could not overcome forever the impact of not drafting top-tier talent, and they did not have the financial resources to mask that weakness on the free agent market. As such, they became more and more dependent on high risk, high reward players epitomized by Jeff Francoeur. Those players failed to reward and led the Braves to their first true rebuild scenario since 1986.

    That’s it. Fans are spoiled because they haven’t seen a rebuild in 25 years. We need to show a little more patience. We’re not the Yankees. We can’t buy our way out of the natural cycle of winning and losing. We have a solid core of players that should be completed in 2010-11 when Heyward, Freeman, Schafer and Cody Johnson are ready. We have a WC worthy team to entertain us until then. After 20 years of dominance, I think that’s a reasonable thing.


  47. Which is all fine and good if we were talking about projecting wins and losses against a potential future season. If you want to run RC/9 or ZIPS or PECOTA projections in the off-season, that’s all fine and good. But that has less than nothing to do with managing a baseball team, day to day, during the course of a season. You’re attempting to leverage a tool designed for high level aggregate data against an individual performance confined to a sample set so small as to make your basic assumptions meaningless. Statistically, you’re applying false precision to a fluid, human dynamic. That strategy will fail every time.

    I don’t know if you’re deliberately misinterpreting what I’ve said but in the case that you aren’t I’ll explain a little further. RS/RA are the components of wins. Maximizing performance in those areas is far more likely to result in a win than tailoring management to the human dynamic of the clubhouse or whatever it is that you are proposing. Bunting does not maximize run scoring when done with non pitchers who don’t hit like pitchers (an occurance that we’d see much less of if Cox were to be removed). Rejection of the relief ace concept in favor of a man management and player happiness optimization in the bullpen does not maximize run prevention.


    A friendly suggestion for you; if you’re going to clamor around the internets lecturing others on the technicalities of formal argumentation, try to avoid obvious strawmen fallacies in your own writing. I have never, and would never, reckon that math “has no place in the game of baseball” and I most certainly haven’t proposed as much in this conversation with you. Argue my points or drag your tail between your legs and scuttle back down to the basement, son. Don’t put weak arguments in my mouth just because it makes your position look slightly less inept than it actually is.

    And for the record, unless I’m far removed from reality in my assessment of you, I was debating the place of advanced statistical modeling in baseball while you were taking Algebra I in middle school.

    Listen daddy, if you didn’t so often reject strategies that are supportable by evidence in favor of Cox’ and other old school “baseball men’s” received wisdom you might not be so easily perceived as rejecting mathematical analysis. I’m sure that you’re suggestion that you are older than me and have been making specious arguments about baseball strategy on the internet for a very long time is not an appeal to authority, right?


    I believe that the game of baseball is centered around winning baseball games. I believe there are many ways to win baseball games, and that great managers successfully assess the skills of the players on a given roster and tailor their strategies and in-game decisions to those players and skills. If a manager does that well, his team will win baseball games. If a manager does that poorly, his team will lose baseball games. (If a manager doesn’t have the skills to use, his team will lose but it will not necessarily be his fault.)

    Over the course of a few games, even a season or two, a manager who is bad at assessing players and using them properly may win or lose due to randomness and chance. Over the course of decades in the game, the randomness will sort itself out of the sample and managerial talent will begin to become apparent. Connie Mack, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox; these men have all shown themselves to be talented, regardless of whether or not they are applying your preferred statistical model to the game. Because they win baseball games.

    You take an outcome and assume it proves that the process was a good one.


    Let me sum up my position succinctly, okay? Tactics is not management. You have an issue with Bobby Cox’ tactics because you think you know more about the game than he does. Leaving aside the hubris involved in that assumption, you need to come to terms with the fact that a manager’s job *involves* tactics but is far from limited to as much.

    This is awesome. A lecture about the strawman followed by a strawman. I will forever more call this move “the Scarecrow”. I don’t think I know more than Cox. I can prove through the use of evidence that Cox employs poor in game strategies that cost his teams chances to prevent and score runs.

  48. “By that logic the Mets would have more wins than any non-Red Sox or Yankees team over the last decade. Yet they don’t. Weird how that happens, huh?”

    The discussion is whether Cox is good, and not whether Willie randolph or Jerry manuel are bad.

    By ducking my point, you have acknowledged my point. If you give Bobby a pass for being under .500 for the last 2+ seasons because the roster wasn’t very good (although we still come to the table every day with significant payroll advantages over more teams than we have payroll disadvantages with), you cannot then credit him for the great years when the roster was great and we spent more than almost everyone else.

  49. Listen daddy, if you didn’t so often reject strategies that are supportable by evidence in favor of Cox’ and other old school “baseball men’s” received wisdom you might not be so easily perceived as rejecting mathematical analysis. I’m sure that you’re suggestion that you are older than me and have been making specious arguments about baseball strategy on the internet for a very long time is not an appeal to authority, right?

    Not in the least. To suggest as much is to strongly imply that you don’t know what the appeal to authority fallacy actually is. If I had argued that I was right because I agree with Cox, or because I am more godly, or something to that effect I would be arguing to authority. I did nothing of the sort. I merely pointed out that you don’t know what you’re talking about and that I, on the other hand, have a vague clue on the subject. Completely different thing.

    At some point in the next few years you’ll come to grasp the difference between tactics and strategy. Then, a couple year later, you’ll come to understand the distinction between strategic theory and actual management of people. Or you won’t. Either way, until you do, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You continually reduce the manager’s job to simple tactical decision making, failing completely to understand the greater 80% of the position. It’s a common mistake made by recent college grads who believe they know far more than the geriatric morons standing between themselves and acknowledgement of how special and smart they are.**

    Maybe you’ll grow out of it. Maybe you won’t. Either way, I grow bored of handing you your ass. Have a nice day, kiddo.

    **now THAT borders on an ad hominem.

  50. Wow… when the Braves lose we all piss and moan about that and mostly that… but when they win we just find ways to argue about other crap. Yeesh.

  51. By ducking my point, you have acknowledged my point.

    I’m pretty sure that’s not what I did.

  52. I had the craziest dream last night. I went to Turner Field for a Braves game, and I found out they had been sold and moved to another city. I had no idea, and I couldn’t find out where they moved to. What a terrible dream.

  53. Your appeal to authority is implied.
    I am old::age=widsom::I am right.

    If you truly believe that scoring runs and preventing runs is 20% of the game there is obviously nothing left to discuss.

  54. I’m perfectly open to the argument that Cox has passed his prime. But even if we take that as a given – which I am willing to do – I have yet to see anyone make a cogent argument that his potential replacements are better than him.

    Yep, there’s a wide gulf between “blameless” and “needs to go”, but that’s not always easily seen.

    Agreed and agreed. And, honestly, even though I’ve been one of the leaders of the no-more-Cox drumbeat (taking over from my namesake Alex R.) I’m not sure who’d be better.

    I mean, saber methods really haven’t come up with a good way of quantifying how good a manager is. JC’s analysis of Leo Mazzone a couple years ago demonstrated that pitchers who played for Leo saw their ERA drop by 1.5, and maybe a similar method could attempt to quantify the numerical impact that Bobby’s “player’s manager” style has on his guys’ numbers. Maybe not.

    Sam, you’re right that tactics are only a part of managing. But they’re the part it’s easiest to quantify, and the part where it’s easiest to identify slippage. Whether or not Bobby’s still able to get the most out of his guys, to inspire them to play hard over the long haul, I don’t know. I think Mac’s right that we have to start looking at the training staff, because we’ve had a pretty serious run of injuries in the last few years.

    But you can’t stay with the same guy forever, and considering Bobby’s lack of success the last few years, I don’t think you can simply take the inertial argument that he’s the same guy he was from 1991-2005 and leave it at that. The game’s gotten more complex and he’s gotten older.

    If I can come up with a guy I think could manage these Braves better than Bobby, I will. Till then, though, you have to at least start considering what Sam said in the graf I quoted up top: he’s past his prime, and may no longer be the best man for the job. Of course, it’s possible that he may still be the best option available — but that’s no longer a foregone conclusion.

    Until then, can we please just hire Julio Franco as a special hitting instructor?

  55. @55 – is that the longest post in braves journal history….its like a long email that you cant delete, I just pass over something that long

  56. @66

    Thank you for sharing. I hope to see more posts from other posters in the future regarding which posts they’ve read and which ones they haven’t. That will make for wonderful discussion.

  57. i had a dream that my smoker was loaded with butts, ribs and amberjack(as it will be saturday) and none of my wood would burn. that might be worse than anything that could happen to the Braves.

  58. #52,

    Good point about Sloan. I think there are a lot of similarities between him and Cox. I’m a Jazz fan and I see a lot of the same feelings expressed by Jazz fans about Sloan as you see here about Bobby — he’s a senile idiot, etc. I think a lot of that is a product of fans tiring of the same coach and wanting something new, which is pretty silly.

    BTW, I am making this post from 35,000 feet on my way to lovely Newark, NJ. Airplane WiFi rocks.

    I’ll be at the game in DC on Saturday afternoon. Any of our DC denizens attending?

  59. What is Julio up to these days? Wasn’t he given some kind of instructional assignment with Rome last year?

  60. @52,

    I thought about it but the Braves always lose when I watch them. Good luck! I don’t think you will have much trouble getting a good seat. :)

  61. I gotta say, I think that is the first time I have ever heard of the word ‘imbroglio’.

  62. First of all, it’s almost as if everyone’s bored when we win. People find stuff to complain about and forget after about 20 minutes that we’re on a three-game winning streak and have assured ourselves of staying in the race for the moment. And when we lose, people are not bored because they love complaining, so there’s an utter meltdown from which there is no escape whenever that happens. I think perhaps lightening up will be a serious necessity if some of you want to get through the summer without having a freaking stroke. (And yes, this is me saying that.)

    About Cox, the thing that annoys me about people who want to fire the manager/coach of any team is that they take tactical decisions that manager/coach makes and assume that because they don’t agree with said tactics that the manager/coach must be in idiot for not having the exact same approach to the game as they do, and therefore should be fired. And then presumably a clone of themselves should be hired.

    Sabermetrics is a way of thinking about the game. It’s not the only way of thinking about the game, and it’s not necessarily the “right” way of thinking about the game 100% of the time. I find the defined pitching roles argument hilarious, especially when last year the argument was that Bobby was too set in his ways. That occasionally Gonzalez needs to pitch the eighth if Utley and Howard or Adam Dunn or whoever came up that inning. Now he’s doing that, and people are wringing their hands because “nobody knows their role.”

    As far as I’m concerned, if there’s evidence that the manager/coach is losing the team (there is none in this case), then there’s a potential problem we can talk about. But as far as strategy goes, any number of tactical approaches can lead to winning baseball, and applying your personal favorite approach would not necessarily give the team any better chance to win than Bobby’s does. The man does not deserve to be ridden out on a rail because he does not employ your personal favorite strategy of choice.

  63. Sorry, Mac. Posted before I saw that. I will not engage in the discussion any further.

  64. How about instead of a single manager that we adopt the old “College of Coaches” approach that the Cubs (naturally) followed for a time in the 60s where they had different coaches rotate as managers?

  65. on his blog, dob said that the braves arent looking for a trade right now and are going to wait ’til much closer to the deadline and decide to upgrade or sell.

  66. Mark Bradley said:

    According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Braves “are willing to trade Escobar for a good hitter right now.” (Link requires registration.) But I don’t think they will. Nor do I believe they should. Because Yunel Escobar is a different sort of Brave in another way:

    He can really hit. And he can really play.

    First off, nice use of a professional. writer’s leeway to not follow basic. rules of sentence. composition.
    With that out of the way, is that not the best case of damning with faint praise of all time?

  67. Dr Hutcheson- is McLouth playing tonight?

    Maybe he can start in RF and we’ll continue to allow Blanco to do his thing.

  68. That is a ridiculously good hitting streak by RSF. Do guys in those lower leagues get promoted in-season to at least low “A” ball, based on their success? Our team in Rome has hit horribly this year; the only guy with any average is that Sucre guy (now promoted), who never walks and has no power.

  69. @87 – I don’t know. I’m not in the clubhouse. If he’s good to go I’d like to see Blanco or Diaz in right.

    @89 – Yunel Escobar was promoted very quickly after destroying Danville. 8 games, 36 PA, 1.206 OPS as a 22 year old. RSF has another 200 points of OPS in similar playing time in the Appy. Of course, Kuyaunnis Miles has another 200 points of OPS on RSF if in far fewer at bats. He’s splitting time with Adam Milligan whose 1200 OPS looks puny. CF Leonardo Ware is barely toping 1000. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a wholesale change in the OF’ers at Rome, if not Mississippi, soon.

  70. I am pretty excited about the recent winning streak and I am hopeful that the Braves can sneak into the playoffs. I’m not sure if Billy Beane is right about it being (some large percentage) luck at that point, but with the Braves’ rotation looking this good, I would love to see them get a shot. Not, of course, that a great rotation was any sort of guarantor of playoff success in the past, but damn it would be nice to care about the post-season again.

  71. #91. Thanks. One other question; is Danville or GCL higher (in difficulty) than the other? Do we send our younger guys to one and our “older” guys (I guess meaning 20 and not 18), to the other.

  72. Diaz and Jones are tearing it up against the Mets (who are down 5-0 in the 3rd)… that’s Garrett Jones & Robinzon Diaz.

  73. GCL is lower level rookie ball. Danville is higher level rookie ball. Then Rome >> MB >> MS >> Gwinnett.

  74. I keep reading about how good Matt Holliday is, I dont see it.
    He seems to have the usual Coors Light Field effect, yet all the writers look at him like he is a 30 HR kind of guy, he may hit 16 this year.
    I would not want to trade Esco for him in any way, shape or form.

  75. The Mets really suck right now. But since a ton of their players are injured that’s not really that surprising.

  76. Be well, Mac.

    #92
    I think that’s one of the things that makes this team so frustrating.

    In a short series, if you roll out out JJ, Vazquez, Lowe & Hanson, plus the power part of the bullpen (Gonzo & Soriano), we stack up favorably.

    It’s just this pop-gun offense…

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