Rockies 8, Braves 7

Atlanta Braves vs. Colorado Rockies – Box Score – July 12, 2009 – ESPN

I really, really hate Coors Field. And handing this overworked bullpen to this place was a bad, bad idea.

The Braves led most of the way, again, getting three runs in the first and leading at various times 4-0, 5-1, and 7-3. But Kris Medlen, starting for Vazquez, only went four, leaving with two runners on and nobody out in the fifth. Boone Logan came in and did a great job, getting out of that jam, breezing through the sixth (with the help of one of the four double plays the Braves turned) and getting the first man in the seventh. And then, Bobby came in and took him out, bringing in Manny Acosta, who had pitched the two previous days. It really made no sense — it wasn’t even a lefty/righty thing, since the hitter was a switch-hitter. Acosta gave up three runs, including a two-run homer, and O’Flaherty came in to get out of the inning. Instead of pulling some sort of double switch, Bobby used his most reliable remaining setup man for only one batter.

Moylan, who is completely washed out right now and for whom three days off probably won’t be enough, came in and barely, with the help of a great defensive play, managed to get out of the eighth with the score tied. Having run through basically the entire bullpen, Bobby came in with Luis Valdez, who got to make his major league debut in the ninth inning of a tie game at Coors Field. He got the first man, then allowed a single, got the next, then allowed a double to end it.

Brooks Conrad hit a homer, the Braves’ only one of the series, and was a double short of the cycle. Of course, he later got double-switched out of the game in favor of Yunel, who didn’t start even though he was evidently available, while Diory Hernandez is hitting .149. Brian McCann did not start, even though he’s getting tomorrow and Wednesday off and will probably just play one or two innings on Tuesday… Church had his first hit as a Brave, drove in a run with a groundout, and scored twice.

230 thoughts on “Rockies 8, Braves 7”

  1. @anonymous lurker from last thread

    I can think of a bunch of more important games this season, including two on this road trip.

  2. Repost:

    jj, I think you’re right, but second guessing the bullpen is too easy and rewarding for anyone to ever stop doing it.

    The main problem is the offense. It’s nice to have leads, but must they all be 1 or 2 runs? Game after game? Our offense doesn’t come from behind or add on, it only stakes us to tenuous leads. And even with the bullpen, we still have a good team ERA, good enough to have a good record with average offense.

    In the normal bullpen, Medlen isn’t a bullpen pitcher at all. Logan and Atrosta are coinflips at best (maybe a bit unfair to Logan). There just isn’t much there.

    Valdez has pitched 6 more innings in AAA than any of our relievers (less appearances, but still…).

    I would have probably gone Valdez in the 7th, but in the end, if our crap relievers want to sabotage the team, they are very clearly capable.

  3. We were doomed as soon as they tied it. Let’s hope the AS Break is enough to get everyone rested and healthy. I’m cautiously optimistic about the second half.

  4. How can a game in the middle of a road trip mean more than the last game, with a chance to take 3/4, the day before the ASB, when all of the teams you’re chasing won?

  5. i thought all the games counted the same in the win total……………everyone that’s glad Bobby didnt use Soriano, raise your hand.

  6. Game 3 of the Cubs series salvaged the road trip. We lose that, we’re right back down the crapper, having lost two series in a row. And Game 2 against the Rockies salvaged the series. Without it, we don’t even get a split. Both far more important than a game in which your spot starter is pitching and you’re having an all-hands-on-deck bullpen day. You should really expect to lose that. If you win, it’s a bonus. The only reason anyone should be the least bit upset is that we were up by four in the seventh. If we lose this 6-2, no one gives a crap.

  7. I am glad soriano got a day off, but, when you have three days off, i think everyone should have been available, i know im beating a dead horse to death here, but, thats just how i feel

  8. so Chipper only has 7 x base hits (1HR) since June 9th and his average has dropped from .335 to .293 Hopefully he’ll come back ready to go

    every game matters people, but this isnt a division winning team. We only have one starter with a winning record, we give up more runs than we’ve scored, our relievers arms are falling off, we give away outs on stupid sac bunts because we always play for one run, and we are 2 games under .500. This team is what it is, just not very good

  9. I agree with you Nick, thats a good point, if Medlen gets shelled, its like, o crap, but we were up, and our bp blew it, and it hurts, it hurts like when the mets dropped the pop up in the infield to lose, one of those, come on, are you kidding me?!

  10. Heyward smokes the first pitch he sees into center for a single in the futures game.

  11. Very disappointing, but at the start of the series I had thought a split was inevitable because that was just in the character of this team. And what do you know but they choked and came up with a split. With the Phillies suddenly red hot, the Braves are going to have to stop going 4-6 or 5-5 and start wining 8 out of 10 and 12 out of 15 after the break if they want to stay in this. While the offense still is at best merely average, it seems like trading for a reliever now is Frank Wren’s highest priority.

  12. This team needs to SELL at the deadline. This team needs a young, contralable bat, and multiple young, under control, power arms for the back of the pen. The rotation is good enough, even KK is coming on, but Chipper and McCann need help in the lineup.

    Build for 2010 and beyond. The phils are going to sell the farm to win now, and the Mets are not good enough to sustain anything because Wright and Reyes are overrated. Florida and Washington are never going to be consistent.

    This year is a loss, get what you can for who you can, and put yourself into position for another (possible) long run as WS contenders.

  13. I will say, McLouth is a good player in the outfield, Diaz is serviceable, as is Church. WE need upgrades at 1st, hopefully prado stays hot, escobar is good, and we need a long term replacement for Chipper, Mac is the best Catcher in the NL. Our rotation is strong, and our pen is ok. We could sit tight or add, but im not sure selling is in our best interest anymore, we could really make a move

  14. Smoked the first pitch again. But this time right at the second baseman, who made a nice short hop play for the out. Put a good bat on it again though.

  15. great !!!!!!
    now we have another top prospect who loves swinging
    at the first pitch…….

  16. This loss pisses me off, once again we get scared when we see.500 staring us in the face and blow it.
    DAMNIT.

  17. #20, you’re talking about Jason Heyward?

    This is the guy who swung at so little in high school that scouts didn’t know exactly how good he was, so he fell to #14 in the draft.

  18. #12–I have been traveling–in Australia (and this includes dealing with the joy of having my one year old son on the plane for 8 hours)just got into Singapore and found out that Frenchy was traded!!

    Mac–I hope that the loss is not too much to bear….

    and I missed Don Sutton’s choice remarks…

  19. Am I the only one who thinks we’re going to win this division this year? Because I do. And I wanted to punt ’09.

  20. McCann and Diaz dont get off bench and we loose by one … way to go Booby .. two of your best hitters dont even get a chance to help !!!

  21. #25 doesn’t factor in the Frenchy/Church trade — the most significant move in the division thus far.

    #26

    You’d have complained had we burned either one, the score remained tied, and we had nobody left on the bench for extra innings. Admit it. You would have.

  22. @25,

    I think that’s 19%? Not updated for today, when every other team in baseball besides us won.

    Pecota-adjusted moves us up to 31%. I like to think that that’s the impact of trading Francoeur.

    (on second look, I’m not sure if it accounts for the trade either)

  23. I missed the game today, but reading Mac’s writeup, it appears BC botched a winnable game with his nonsensical moves. What exactly is he bringing to the table for this club, at this point in his career?

  24. I would have been happy with a split at the beginning but they could have legitimately swept. Yet, I strongly suspected they were going to end up losing even when they were up 4 in the 7th. It’s just what the Braves do.

    Six behind the Phillies at the break and six behind the Giants for the Wild Card. I’m sure the Braves think they are in contention, but I think they are kidding themselves again. A team with as little offense as the Braves simply cannot afford to have bullpen breakdowns no matter how much they have pitched. Regardless of how we might have looked at the series beforehand, you can’t keep pissing away opportunities to win and expect to be a real contender.

  25. But Marc, I don’t think we have a bad offense now. Chipper, Mac, and Escobar are beat up and need a rest — and, despite that, the offense has actually been decent lately. We’re averaging 5 runs a game over our last four series despite the recent struggles of every guy you’d have called indispensable at the beginning of the season. I look at the lineup now and see a lot of tough outs and a lot of doubles. Even the guys who suck can hit .280, and you’d expect them to.

    Honestly, I can see this team bust out of the gate in the second half — we’re the most complete team in the division. I really think that.

  26. I want to agree with you, sansho, but I’m honestly pretty concerned about the ‘pen. As we’ve seen in painful detail, it’s shallow, and the good ones appear overworked. The starting pitching is a real strength and the lineup looks competent, but the bullpen seems on the verge of collapse, IMO.

  27. A few wins of the 7-2 variety would help, and I think we’re well-positioned to see some of those. It’s not as though I’ve agreed with every bullpen move Cox has made, but we’ve been in a tight game almost every day.

  28. If Medlen had stepped up to the plate, so much of the bullpen wouldn’t have been necessary.

    Just sayin’…

  29. I am afraid that we still don’t have enough power (and therefore not enough big innings) to be serious contenders. We especially need Chipper and McCann to start hitting for some more power. Neither is on pace right now to hit even 20 homers, and that’s a big problem.

  30. Cox’s bullpen management with Acosta replacing Logan made absolutely no sense. If Logan could have gone 3 innings (it looked like he could easily) Medlen lasting only four innings would have been forgotten. Also, why doesn’t Diaz at least replace Anderson for defensive purposes for the last few innings? Anderson’s throw to 3rd was comedic.

  31. Most of our relievers are a crapshoot. If you have to use the bullpen early, and you have found one that has it working that day, pulling him before you absolutely have to is just not sensible. I was stunned when Bobby came out to get Logan, and that one move ended up costing the game. Very disappointing ending to the series and a lost opportunity to enter the break on a high note.

  32. Saw Mission of Burma play a free gig on the East River waterfront today.

    Didn’t quite realize that their best tune would turn out to be the game’s theme song: “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver.”

  33. Suppose you are delusional to the point of insanity. And suppose you are a Mets fan. But I repeat myself.

    Is it possible that the Mets acquired Francoeur with the intention of using him as a trade chip? Again, I understand that Francoeur’s value is pretty low at the moment. But he is still a somewhat accomplished major league outfielder, and his just a few years older than the “prospects” everyone raves about. If you were to package Francoeur with a couple prospects, I think you might net significant value in return. One guy I have in mind is Alex Rios.

    Rios is not quite a superstar, but I think he would be a massive upgrade to anything the Mets have at the moment. I wonder if the Mets could package, say Francoeur and Parnell for Rios. I think that would be a reasonable trade.

  34. Barmes crushes lefties at Coors, so Logan wasn’t going to face him after whatever number of pitches. Fowler has no platoon split, so it’s 50/50. Acosta threw four pitches yesterday.

    Saying it cost us the game is hindsight typical of what is seen here. Most people wait to see the result before they judge the decision — and if it works out, crickets….

  35. I guess I’m not being as accountable as I should. If you’re afraid of Barmes, pitch to him carefully, but I still believe Logan’s stuff was good enough to challenge anyone today.

    Whatever the case, I don’t see how anyone can defend Cox’s bullpen management. Moylan leads the league in appearances after coming off TJ surgery. Gonzalez is also similarly overused. Cox’s overuse of Boyer after surgery has to have contributed to his total collapse this year.

  36. Just a quick note, I’ll be going into brain surgery and I know I can count on by Baves Journal brethern to wish me all the best. Just in case I dont get so say goodbye, thanks for all the insight, and for making a braves fan all that more enjoyable….ciao

  37. I will also grant that Barmes crushes lefties. If the game was 4-3 in the 8th or 9th, the move makes perfect sense. It’s important to remember we were up 7-3 in the 7th, Logan was rested and had done great, outside of Nunez no one else was rested, and we’re in Coors Field. Barmes was only 1 batter and the move didn’t make sense at the time and it wouldn’t have made sense even if it was successful.

    Hope all goes well with your surgery Fla – I’ll remember to pray for you.

  38. AAR,
    What’s crazy is I hadn’t seen them in 28 years. They were actually the very first band I ever saw at the 40 Watt Club.

    FBF,
    You bet. Good luck & get well soon.

  39. I went on a holiday for a week, came back, and Frenchy is no longer with us. You can’t get a better vacation than that no matter where you go.

    X’mas comes early and Wren is a freaking genius.

  40. @39 “I wonder if the Mets could package, say Francoeur and Parnell for Rios. I think that would be a reasonable trade.”

    No way on earth that will happen…wait, it will…in Minaya’s dream!

  41. I will not be surprised if Francoeur ends up in KC before the year is over. He can easily be acquired under the August trade rules as he should sail through waivers and wouldn’t be worth more than low level minor leaguers. Supposedly the Royals were after Betancourt for over a year. If Dayton Moore wants Jeff, he’s going to get him.

    Also, I keep seeing this $4.5 million figure floating around for his salary next year. No way. I think he’ll be getting the allotted 20% pay cut, putting him closer to $2.7 million, and I think the Royals might be willing to do that.

  42. JC, I thought a player can only get a maximum paycut of 10% in arbitration? Maybe that’s the old rule…

  43. From the CBA

    A Club may not tender, sign or renew a Player under reserve to the Club pursuant to Article XX(A) of this Agreement and paragraph 10(a) of the Uniform Player’s Contract to a Uniform Player’s Contract that provides a salary for Major League service that constitutes a reduction in excess of 20% of his previous year’s salary or in excess of 30% of his salary two years previous.

    A Club may submit a salary figure for salary arbitration that is at least 80% of the Player’s previous year’s salary

  44. As Braves14 said, we severely need a power bat to truly contend for the playoffs.
    If not, then another middle reliever or two should be sought after.
    We can win with pitching alone, but we need a fresh arm or three to help, Booby has killed Moylan and Gonzo already this season and others wont be far behind.

  45. All the best FBF. Hope it goes well.

    Sansho, on paper, I agree the Braves look pretty good on paper. But they haven’t shown any ability to actually win. Until they do that, I will be skeptical. No team is without flaws and all teams will have some bad losses, but the Braves have had so many and have shown no ability to really streak. Maybe they can do so in the second half, but a lot of the optimism seems premised on Francouer being gone and,while that is certainly a positive, he was far from the only problem with the team.

    This is a team that has had–I believe-two winning months in the last year and a half. As flawed as the Phillies are, they have at least shown the ability to put streaks together of good ball. It’s been years (probably 2005) since the Braves did that.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m just saying I want to see it before I believe.

    Francouer has had 4 hits in two games. Obviously, the Mets made a great deal! (Sarcasm.)

  46. This team, without major upgrade or major injury, can play somewhere between 450 and 600 the rest of the way, depending on how the variables outside the above play out. We can’t easily get good enough to have any reasonable shot at the wild card (and can’t get it without an upgrade).

    We can win the east if we either (1) have a major upgrade or (2) every variable plays right AND (3) neither the Phillies nor Marlins (I think the Mets either won’t or can’t) upgrade significantly.

  47. Even the Colorado Rockies announcers were 2nd guessing Bobby’s bullpen management yesterday.

    Bobby is already talking about coming back next year, but maybe it’s time for a change.

    The power outage is indeed a problem. I’m really concerned about Chipper’s production. He came up in a couple of key spots and failed. However Cox is the biggest problem right now.

  48. Has an arbitrator ever dealt with a case like Francoeur’s? I mean, has there ever been a player this bad to make it this far in the arbitration process? I want to say no. Though I don’t know. From Prospectus’s Transaction Blog:
    Steven Goldman beat me to this observation on BP’s internal discussion list, but there’s no shame in stealing the odd gifted insight from a friend. In short, you have to like how the Braves have been willing to change gears in-season. Sure, they had a master plan, but to borrow again from genius, no plan survives contact with reality. They were supposed to have Tom Glavine to round out the rotation in a season-long celebration of one of the last active legacies of the great, famous, and quite dead Braves dynasty; Tommy Hanson proved to be ready, so they said no thanks to historical re-enactment. They gave Jordan Schafer a shot at taking over in center field, perhaps a year ahead of schedule; when he couldn’t keep the role, they converted various bits of organizational jetsam for Nate McLouth less than two months into the season. Perhaps Kelly Johnson already deserved to see his job security endangered on the basis of his tepid performance over the first five months of 2008, the point at which he was only hitting .263/.332/.403; even worse production before his injury has really brought the point home. He’s in his age-27 season, and he can’t deliver? No way do you ride that, not when you have ambitions to fulfill, and not when a younger player in Martin Prado is swinging a hot enough bat to make you think he’s a new incarnation of Freddy Sanchez. Now, perhaps Johnson’s stroke comes back if his wrist is sound, and that was the root cause of his troubles; should that be the case, upon his return, it’s not inconceivable that the former shortstop and outfielder could be valuable as a Figgins-like rover, spotting in both outfield corners as well as first, second, and third.

    As a result, it’s not really all that surprising that they decided to say enough’s enough with Frenchy. The Braves have waited patiently for him to come home and resume some semblance of normalcy for more than a year and a half, or long past the point you might have expected them to call the sheriff and file a missing persons report. When the future in right field belongs to Jason Heyward and you know it, there comes a point at which you have to give up on hoping that the guy you liked three years ago might show up again, because you have an opportunity right now to do something.

    So, why not do it with Church, a player who, between an ugly concussion and some questions about his inability to adapt to the Big Apple, is coming out of an unhappy situation in New York. He’s someone who is at a point in his career where you might get a more certain adequacy than you would with Francoeur, and whether you do or don’t, someone whose vintage and service time might let you readily let him slip away non-tendered in the offseason without being all that much cause for concern. That said, Church was doing something less than adequate work against right-handed pitching this year (.310/.360/424), although some slightly more Church-y production away from Citi Field (.326/.359/.444); while that’s basically a numberical way of saying he’s been hitting lots of singles but not for a lot of power, that’s still more than Francoeur was doing and, given the bitterness of recent experience, more than Frenchy was likely to. Whether Church gets platooned with Matt Diaz or Garret Anderson does, eventually they’ll get Omar Infante back to add to that platoon calculus. It isn’t going to be a great pair of high-offense slots, but it might generate enough runs to get by, and by the end of 2010, we might have that left-to-right alignment of McLouth-Schafer-Heyward in place, dispensing with these temps.

    There are still present-day issues to sort out, of course, but the Braves currently own a one-in-four chance of getting to the playoffs, and the odds are only that long if a few things go right for the Phillies in the second half. With matters standing thus, can they indefinitely indulge themselves the limited benefits of Casey Kotchman’s attempt to at least play Sid Bream in this new bid for October attendance? Or will they gear up at first base to drop the hammer on a winnable division? Given the Braves’ demonstrable willingness to keep adapting to the talent on hand and make deals to improve themselves, Kotchman certainly shouldn’t rest easy. The Braves are making a run, and while they’ve tried to do so and come up short in the last three years, the division has perhaps never been more winnable than it is right now.

  49. @59,

    “However Cox is the biggest problem right now.”

    I don’t see how that can possibly be true. I acknowledge that Cox’s performance has been less than stellar but I don’t think any baseball manager can be described as the team’s biggest problem. If the team has sufficient talent and the players perform, the team will win regardless of the manager. If they don’t, no manager willw in. If the Braves offense, for example, had not gone into hibernation mode the last four innings, the Braves would have still won.

    This isn’t necessarily to defend Cox–I would like to see him leave gracefully-but to make the simple point that baseball managers don’t make that much difference. Bobby may be A problem, but he isn’t THE problem. As you acknowledged, Chipper has been struggling the last several weeks and that is much more of a problem that Bobby, even if we agree that he has mismanaged the bullpen.

  50. The Braves’ biggest problem has been offensive production. While most of that is due to what players are on the roster, part of it is certainly Bobby’s fault for choosing to play Francoeur every day over more productive players, for wasting McLouth’s power by batting him leadoff, and for throwing away outs by having non-pitchers bunt so frequently.

    If the Braves could trade for a more powerful 1B without giving up any top prospects, they should do it. If not, platooning Prado and Kotchman or Canizares and Kotchman would be a good idea. Or hell just trade Kotchman and let Prado play there full time since Johnson, Conrad, and Infante will be available at 2B.

  51. @61 Maybe you are right and Cox is not the biggest problem. However a baseball manager shouldn’t be a problem at all. Of all the major sports head coaches, they have the easiest job. Put a lineup out and manage the bullpen. Cox bullpen management has been a problem. I like Bobby and also want a graceful exit, but it’s really telling when game after game his decisions are being openly questioned by everyone.

    Hopefully, Chipper and Brian can get some rest and start hitting some homers. To have your only HR hit by your second baseman in Coors Field is embarrassing.

    One note on Ryan Church. I remember a much slimmer version. One thing about Chipper, he has always stayed slim.

  52. Wow the Royals with both Betancourt and Francoeur (and the rest of their limp bat hitters like Jacobs, Guillen, and Crisp–the highest ops on the team for any batter with a decent number of PA is .807) would be amazingly bad. What pitcher wouldn’t want to face that lineup.

  53. Well Manny Acta has finally been relieved of his duties as manager…or whatever he was doing.

  54. Amen, Marc.

    The Braves and Braves fans should realize Mr. Jones is considerably less chipper at this stage of his career. His projected contributions are fewer games, less defensive range, and diminished power numbers. Chipper is not the Braves best player or hitter anymore. Chipper’s successor, if not Prado, needs to be found and nurtured. Chipper’s decline is close to first on the list of Braves’ concerns.

    It would be nice, as oldtimer points out, to have two or three fresh arms to bridge the gap from starters to end of the pen. Maybe these can come from within the organization. Nevertheless, they will have to be found somewhere.

    The Braves need pop from the infield corners. Chipper’s Chipper, a declining superstar whose glory days are past; and Casey’s a good glove, so-so bat with no pop. Garrett Anderson currently contributes more offensively than either of these two. Maybe Church will thrive under the Cox magic and provide some needed power.

    Managers are good-to-great when they have adequate assets to manage. Bobby’s probably past his prime, but John McGraw would be challenged to have brought this Braves team to the halfway point at anywhere other than within a game or two of .500.

  55. Chipper was hitting great earlier in the year then something happened in June and he’s been almost Francoeuresque since then. It’s probably just some nagging injury hampering his swing rather than any kind of general decline.

  56. “but John McGraw would be challenged to have brought this Braves team to the halfway point at anywhere other than within a game or two of .500.”

    People say things like this all the time. I don’t see it. We’re the best team in the division based on 2nd order Pythagorean wins (which doesn’t take into account our horrible baserunning which has cost us a win, but we’re still the best in the division if you factor in baserunning). Maybe it’s luck, but I think the coaching staff (not just Bobby, Snitker and Cadahia are statistically our worst coaches and they deserve plenty of the blame for our underperformance thusfar) is costing us wins. Perhaps as many as 5 (what 2nd order Pythagorean wins suggests).

  57. @68: I don’t understand what you said, but I have no problem believing it either. Who do we bring in to replace Bobby and his staff to get those five games back?

  58. Cadahia is responsible for defensive allignments. We’ve been playing with an average to plus group of defenders overall yet we’re 21st in defensive efficiency. I would fire Cadahia and Snitker and hire Julio Franco to take one of their positions. If TP at hitting coach is a problem they could move him to 3rd or Bench and hire a new hitting coach (the one the Cubs just fired seems competent), or hire one of the cast-offs (Yost, Acta, etc.) to be bench coach. You’re not going to get your wins back, but you want to prevent the coaching staff from costing you future wins.

  59. Cadahia isn’t doing much better in his stern talks to Escobar than he’s doing with defensive alignments.

  60. 72,
    29th in baserunning, 21st in defensive efficiency. We’re not made of 12 Rickey Hendersons, but we’re vastly underachieving in those categories and the coaches are at least partially responsible for that (I guess).

  61. First order pythagorean wins takes runs scored and runs allowed and projects what your record “should be”. Braves have lagged this statistic in 2006, 2007, 2008, and so far in 2009 we are about even.

    second order says, based on the hits and walks you have gotten and the strikeouts and hr balls your pitchers have thrown, what SHOULD your record be. So, if the results have you gettin more baserunners compared to the runs you SHOULD have had, you adjust runs up. Likewise, if the part of pithcing a pithcer can control is better than actual “runs allowed” then you adjust those down.

    @ 68,
    PHWJort,

    There continues to be a manager problem.

    And for all of the talk about players wanting to play of Cox, if you are a relief pitcher, you shouldn’t.

    If I were an agent, I would advise my relief pitcher clients to take themselves out periodically (“I have a sore elbow, sore shoulder, whatever”) rather than letting my future gravy train get shredded by Cox.

    Abd I know the Braves arent;’ going to fire him and I know he isn’t the only problem. But, I still submit, he IS a problem and the proof is mounting every day.

    And by the way, what are the odds in Vegas on our “big 4” relievers finishing the year on a major league active roster. 50% on each?

  62. Many of us have been surprised by the degree to which Frank Wren has asserted himself recently (see Smoltz, Glavine, Francoeur). If the Braves perform the way I expect them to in the second half–that is, about the same frustrating, inconsistent way that have in the first half–does Wren have the power to force Bobby and his coaching staff out? My gut tells me no, but I’m curious to know what others here think.

    Oh, and best wishes to Florida Braves Fan.

  63. PHWJort @73,

    I am negative on Cox and his coaches, but I really question that we have plus defenders all over the place.

    I would say to this point this year, (1) pitchers as a whole I don’t have a clue, (2) catchers, McCann is below average and Ross above, overall slight minus, (3) 1b, Kotchman is slight above, not major above, (4) 2B, Prado is slight negative, KJ is slight negative, (5) 3b, Chipper is significant, but not tragic, negative, (6) SS, Escobar is slight plus (the hip has taken a few away), (7) LF, ACHE is major minus, Diaz is a slight plus, net is moderate negative, (8) CF, Schaffer was a slight plus, McLouth is a slight minus, overall even, (9) RF, Francoeur, after you adjust for arm, probably about average. Certainly not a plus.

    So, I think we should be in the 20’s in defensive efficiency. Why shouldn’t we be?

  64. I figure to win the East one of these teams needs to win 90 games. We would need to play .635 baseball between now and the end of the year. That is about the level the Dodgers are playing right now and our second half record would be 47-27. The Phillies would need to play around .552 baseball and have record of 42-34.

    Not impossible, but not going to happen with this team. If the Phillies can get something out of Pedro or get Holladay it is over. Maybe we will get lucky and the number won’t be 90 games.

  65. oh,

    And we are partly 29th in baserunning because this is an extraordinarily slow team. It is hard to have range when you are slow. Thus a further point abut how we really don’t have the people to have an average fielding team.

  66. Smitty,

    If the Phllies get Halladay, we have no realistic chance. If they don’t (or something close to him), I could see them continuing on just a little above 500. If we can win the “head to heads” remaining, we can catch them. Not good odds, but we can.

    I don’t think the Phillies will win 90 without them getting significant help. I think 88 puts you close to winning the East.

    I think 90 gives you a good shot at the wild card, as well. A fair shot at that with 88.

    The Braves fundamental problem for 4 years has been, “can we consistently win our games at a 600 clip or so”? If they can’t they can’t expect other teams to give them playoff positions.

  67. #79, you don’t need to win 90 games to win the East. You just need to win more games than the 2nd place finisher. With the way the teams in the division have played this year, 85 or 86 wins could well win it. That’s what’s so infuriating about this year’s Braves. They wouldn’t have had to play hugely better than they did to be leading the division. They just haven’t done so.

  68. The Phillies are playing .558 baseball and would only have to do .552 to win 90. I think they can do that.

  69. I have always thought when Pat Corrales left us our defensive positioning went way downhill. I remember going to games and watching Pat actively positioning players on a hitter-by-hitter basis and many times from pitch-to-pitch. I have not seen much of that at all since Pat left. Plus I highly suspect Pat kept Bobby from making as many boneheaded bullpen moves (no hard evidence to support this, just a feeling).

  70. Is anyone else a bit surprised that Halladay is starting the All Star Game over Greinke?

  71. Phillies will indeed improve their pitching and Id say they have about a 75% chance of winning this division right now. We are and have been a .500 club. We have bad in game management, a bad offense (which may be better now), and 4 good relievers and two of them have their arms falling off.

    Trade Yunel for Bucholtz or however you spell it, trade Javier for Alcides Escobar. Your rotation is set for next year and you got another good young SS for the future. The $12 mil you save in the offseason, go get a bat

  72. I think Wren should have the power to force Cox out if he wants. Wren has been assertive and it has been refreshing.

    You think maybe Chipper is trying to hard to hit homers? I don’t know but whatever it is, I hope he figures it out. He is killing us in the 3 spot with McClouth and Prado on base all the time.

    I think Garrett was tired and the break will definitely do him some good. After all he’s not 30 anymore.

  73. csg,
    It isn’t 12 million. We are getting insurance of probably half on Hudson. So, it is 6 million less on pitching (and another couple of million on Kenshin because he was front loaded).

  74. The psychotic nature of this club is reflected in the team v. team comparisons.

    Braves have wining records against:

    Cubs, Phllies, Nats (it doesn’t seem like it)

    Braves have not played: Dodgers (uh oh) Padres (yay).

    Braves have split with

    D’backs, Reds, Rockies

    Braves have losing records against: Marlins, Astros (ow!) Brewers, Mets, Pirates (double ow!, but no more games against the mighty Pirates), Giants, Cards, and a 1 game deficit in interleague play (which is actually a sign we are a better team than we have shown).

    So, basically, if we play 550 against everybody else and go 7-2 against the Phillies again, we are probably in. Not that there is much likelihood of that.

    This team has played better against good teams than bad. From 1991 to 2005, Cox led Braves teams could be counted on to beat the dregs, thus making it hard for other teams to catch them. We need a course in “dreg management.”

  75. @77,

    I believe Wren is queitly already laying the ground work there. No evidence other than his other bold actions. He has to convince Schuerholz (who probably is already convinced, anyway).

    The other thing that could stop Cox (give an opening for Wren) would be an agent openly questioning his use of the agent’s client. maybe even a “quiet comment” to Schuerholz. Somebody not in baseball anymore, maybe, that got “blown out.” The bullpen overwork the past three years has been epic and tragic.

  76. KK’s actually paid $3 million less next season. McCann’s paid +$2 million, Chipper’s paid +$4 million, McLouth +$2.5 million. Arbitration raises for KJ (maybe stays the same or decreases?), Kotchman, Diaz, Church, Moylan, Logan, Bennett, and Carlyle, assuming they’re tendered contracts (probably not be a safe assumption for some/most). Bullpen’s in big-time flux.

    Gonzo and Soriano (combined ~$10 million off the books), Anderson ($2.5 million) off the books. Norton ($800K) and Glavine ($1 million) off the books.

    Is Yunel gonna qualify for Super 2 status? It seems to me that he would, but I haven’t heard it mentioned anywhere. That would be another expense, obviously.

  77. My main concern about the trade is that someone on the Mets will tell Frenchy that he either needs to learn to work the count, or he will be benched or demoted. Then a lightbulb will go off. He’ll be an all-star every year and Braves fans will curse his name in a different way. Any chance this will happen?

  78. so explain how getting rid of Vasquez doesnt save us $11.5 million for next season again?

  79. Courtney C, it wouldnt have happened here so it doesnt matter. Frenchy can go be great elsewhere and it makes no difference. He was and would’ve continued to be a black hole in ATL so we are always going to be better off without him. He’ll probably be better also

  80. Wren can’t get rid of Bobby without approval from JS, I would think. I seriously doubt that would happen. I think Wren has limited authority–the things with Smoltz and Glavine were not that much different than the kinds of things JS used to do. Firing Bobby (or gently persuading him to leave) is a different order of magnitude. Unless ownership steps in (highly unlikely), I can’t see any change happening unless Bobby just gets sick of it, which I see no sign of happening.

    I’m really afraid Bobby is going to be another Justice Douglas on the Supreme Court–stay until he almost literally has to be carried off the bench.

  81. csg,

    IF you were assuming Hudson in place of Vazquez, then you have to cover Hudson’s insurance payment. That is what I was getting at. It is not a straight amount that is left.

    I think Stu has pointed out a lot of other reasons that it isn’t as simple as “we have Vazquez’ salary left over so let’s use it for X”.

    We are looking at a 10 million payroll increase next year if we don’t do without experienced relievers and don’t add anybody and don’t keep Vazques (but don’t trade or release some of these arb eligibles). Wow!

  82. Every time I ask this, Mac starts a new thread and I forget to look for the answer:

    Is there any MLB (or MLBPA) reason we couldn’t trade D. Lowe before the deadline?

    Thanks!

  83. I still don’t see how the team becomes better by trading away it’s best pitcher and it’s 4th best hitter. Plenty of money will come off the books without doing those trades by not picking up Hudson’s option, having Soriano, Anderson, Norton, and Gonzalez become free agents, then perhaps trading away a few players like Diaz, Johnson, Church, and/or Kotchman. The Braves will be outbid for any really good hitter by the usual suspects anyway. Having Schafer and perhaps Heyward join the lineup next year and be productive is a more likely path to improvement.

  84. Lowe could be traded. However, it would probably be easier after the deadline, when only players who pass through waivers can be traded. At that point, if someone needs a pitcher they’d have to take on a bad contract.

  85. “I’m really afraid Bobby is going to be another Justice Douglas on the Supreme Court.”

    As long as we act before Bobby starts to soil himself while on the bench and take long naps during his work, I am okay with that.

  86. Casey Kotchman makes almost 3 million this year, for below league average production. Putting Canizres at 1B in 2010 for the league minimum saves us about 2 and one-half million, which is a start.

  87. Id move Lowe if possible. Id move him even if we eat $2 mil per season for the mext 3 years, assuming Vasquez can do an extension

  88. More geniuses on the internet.

    Juan Pierre (LA)

    I’m bored on the bench! Are the Dodgers going to send me somewhere that needs a good outfielder in exchange for some pitching (I’m thinking Atlanta maybe? Vazquez?)

    Jerry Crasnick (12:30 PM)

    Juan, Sorry. The Braves are looking for a bat, but you’re not it.

    ME: Stop thinking; it’s clearly dangerous when you do.

  89. My favorite thing to do… All Star break solutions…

    Fire: Pendleton, Cadahia, Snitker
    Hire: Manny Acta (bench coach) Gerald Perry (hitting coach) and Ned Yost (3rd base coach)
    Trade: a package of b level prospects for Josh Willingham
    Release: ACHE

    New Lineup:
    CF McLouth
    SS Escobar
    3B Jones
    LF Willingham
    C Pimpbot
    RF Church/Diaz
    2B Prado
    1B Kotchman

    There, I solved everything. If you want some bullpen help you can probably get some of that too. If nothing else Hudson’s return could put one of the starters in the bullpen. You’re welcome.

  90. @102,

    Any reasons?

    I know it is top 17% of otherwise eligible players. I think Yunel is an “otherwise eligible player.” If the system of calculation does not account for position, then that would explain it. Otherwise, a plus defender at one of the two ultimate defensive positions with above average offense should be top 17%.

    Another way ot look at it. There are 750 ML players on active rosters. Another 20 may be on d l that would “possibly” be good enough to be super 2’s (not eligible, just at that level of production). Of those 770, probably about 60 are actually 2 year players. Of those, you would have to be in the top 10.

    I think that is doable for Escobar.

  91. @106…The Braves need another bat that people will fear. Willingham doesn’t scare anyone. Unfortunately at this point, Chipper is the only one, even though he is slumping.

  92. Super 2 has to do with service time, not performance. Yunel would have to be in the top 17% of service time among ML players who’ve been up at least 2 years. He’ll have a year + 121 days after this season; I figured that’d put him close.

  93. I think Willingham is good enough. I think my lineup scores enough runs to support our beasty pitching.

  94. #106……………Gerald Freakin Perry?? are you crazy?? according to Bill James, he was not only one of the worst players, but the dumbest. well, he did manage to go half a season once without an RBI while playing nearly every day and thats damn hard to do.

  95. Perry looked like a pretty good hitting coach until this year, and it doesn’t look like whatever happened to the Cubs was his fault. And actually, once he got out of Atlanta he turned into a pretty good bench player/pinch-hitter who would take a walk.

  96. Heckuva a job Coxy! Luis Valdez is well on his way to be Devined. Now that Bennett has removed himself from contention, Manny Acosta looks to be well on his way to becoming Bobby’s new bullpen whipping boy. I wonder if our HOF manager is performing some experiment on the increased elbow durability of Tommy John cases with Peter Moylan.

  97. Matt Herges was released, Braves should grab him and send someone back down, preferably Medlen so he can pitch regularly again.

  98. @106: I would be ecstatic if the Braves hired Acta, and Cox started teaching him with an eye towards retirement. The guy’s sharp and always open to ideas. I’m sure he’d pick up everything he could about pitching management and all the rest that Cox is good at doing. Also, I’m sure he’s bright enough to ignore some of the in-game tactical flaws in Bobby’s game. I really, really like the guy. He’s one of the few Major League Coaches and Managers who’s not shackled by the way he’s done things for 20 years.

    Cox is an excellent manager, and more than anyone else that has ever been a possible successor, Manny Acta has the potential to learn from that and continue managing the club with the same approach (while maybe improving some of the tactics).

  99. @111. Here are some excerpts from his Cubs bio “The Cubs finished first in the N.L. and second in the majors with 636 walks it marked the fifth time in which Perry helped an offense rank first or second in the league in walks (also 2000-2002 with Seattle and 2006 with Oakland)”
    “During his three-year stay in Seattle, the Mariners led the majors in on-base percentage (.357) and walks (2,018) and topped the American League in batting average (.278) and runs scored (2,648).”

    Sounds like his philosophy is what we need. And he has a proven track record.

  100. Hey, what do you guys think will happen when it is time to activate Johnson, Infante, and Hudson off the D.L.?

    Our current roster (with Hanson)-

    C McCann
    C Ross
    IF Jones
    IF Prado
    IF Conrad
    IF Escobar
    IF Kotchman
    IF Hernandez
    OF Church
    OF Diaz
    OF Anderson
    OF Blanco
    OF McLouth
    SP Lowe
    SP Vazquez
    SP Jurrjens
    SP Kawakami
    SP Hanson
    RP Medlen
    RP Acosta
    RP Logan
    RP EOF
    RP Moylan
    CL Soriano
    CL Gonzalez

    DL Hudson
    DL Infante
    DL Johnson

    My opinion: When Hudson returns, throw out Acosta and put either Lowe or Kawakami in the bullpen. Get rid of Hernandez and Blanco for Infante and Johnson (as Church as showed that he is capable, if not extraordinary at, playing Center Field).

    So, our roster in mid-August-

    C McCann
    C Ross
    IF Jones
    IF Prado
    IF Conrad
    IF Escobar
    IF Kotchman
    IF Johnson
    IF Infante
    OF Church
    OF Diaz
    OF Anderson
    OF McLouth
    SP/RP Lowe
    SP Vazquez
    SP Jurrjens
    SP/RP Kawakami
    SP Hanson
    SP Hudson
    RP Medlen
    RP Logan
    RP EOF
    RP Moylan
    CL Soriano
    CL Gonzalez

    Thoughts?

    EDIT: Sorry, and I know that this probably has already been covered by someone, but mandatory Intro classes in college to stuff you have already taken and know yield bored minds. On the other hand, I was quite proud of the fact that I could name the entire active Atlanta roster off the top of my head!!!

  101. @118. Our two best hitters (Chipper and Pimpbot) go to their fathers for advice. Andruw is a beast again now that he is listening to that Rudy guy in Texas. Kelly Johnson sucks now thanks to TP’s advice to be more aggressive. TP has gotta go.

  102. No chance Lowe is moved to the ‘pen. Blanco was already sent down in favor of Norton yesterday. Maybe Norton gets DFA’d when KJ’s ready to come back?

  103. I agree hiring Acta would be a good idea, but he is really not Bobby’s kind of manager. He doesn’t really believe in bunting all that much and he seems to be more influenced by statistical analysis, from what I understand (although you obviously couldn’t tell by the Nats performance), than what Bobby would be comfortable with. And I don’t know if Bobby or the Braves have any relationship with Acta. I doubt Bobby would want to groom someone he doesn’t really know.

  104. @124 I’m afraid you’re probably right. But hopefully JS can talk him into it or something.

  105. Stu,

    I guess that you are right. The question is, with such an excess amount of starters, who should go to the pen? I don’t pretend to know the actual intentions behind the Kawakami signing, but it seems like relegating a former superstar such as Kawakami to the ‘pen would not be a great publicity move. I don’t want to move Vazquez, Hanson, or Jurrjens because of their pure dominance, and you are right, Lowe will probably not get moved. That only leaves Hudson, and if he indeed does come back at full strength (a miracle), I wouldn’t want to move him to the ‘pen either.

  106. Acta is a bigtime Met fave.

    Speaking of Mets, I had an office Met fan tell me that his team got the better of the Frenchy/Church deal: “You can’t tell me that Francoeur doesn’t have more upside than Church. He’s only 25-years old!”

    “So is Amy Winehouse.”

  107. I continue to think, that for this year, the Braves need to be grooming Hudson as a 2 to 3 inning reliever. Let him start in the 7th and close it out.

    Then, they could activate him sooner and replace one of the “dregs” with Hudson. Then, if we drop back and trade a pitcher, slide Hudson over to starting. If we luck up and make the postseason, Hudson won’t be in the postseason rotation anyway.

    Having Hudson as the number 2 righthander and Moylan 3, would make the pen much more of a shutdown pen.

  108. 106,
    I like everything you said. One thing to consider, would Yost and Acta accept jobs as bench coach and 3rd base coach? Also, are you trying to groom Yost or Acta to be the next manager? I like Yost and Acta but I also like the idea of Eddie Perez eventually taking over as manager. Could probably be accomplished easier by hiring Perry then moving TP to 3rd base and hiring one of the two you mentioned to be bench coach (a more desirable job).

  109. Serious question: When KJ and Infante come back, what do you do with our only power hitter? Conrad?

    McCloth
    Prada(New name)
    Chip
    Brian
    Esco
    Anderson
    Church
    Krotch

    Norton, Ross, Infante, KJ?, Conrad?, Diaz

    I think KJ will be traded.

  110. Dont count on Hudson for anything gang.
    Over half os the season is done and he has about 2 more months of rehab.
    If he starts games it will be when the roster expands and we could go to six starters to kee some innings of the old guys and the Kid.
    Then he will be gone in the offseason.

  111. @129 I was thinking Acta would be groomed (making it a desirable position). I think Yost would be more willing to take on the 3rd base coaching job because of his relationship with Bobby. I also like Eddie, but I like Acta more. As far as TP at 3rd base coach, I have no idea if he would be good there or if he would be another Snitker.

    @130 I think you simply release Norton. And with Chipper’s fragility I think KJ will get some at bats in that scenario. I don’t like selling low on KJ.

  112. I think KJ will be traded as well.

    Was looking at the projected list of Elias rankings for free agent types on MLBTR and right now they are projecting Soriano, Gonzo and Anderson as type A Free Agents. I guess we wouldn’t offer arb to Anderson but it’s surprising all 3 would make it as Type A’s.

  113. Acta as a bench coach that is able to pay attention to what is happening on the field and react sounds like a good idea to me; is Bobby secure enough (he should be) to handle having Acta there in that role? that would leave Bobby to the people skills part, which he excels at.

  114. Just a thought: IF you were the GM of the Braves, and IF Johnson became the hitter that we thought we was developing into last season, and IF Brooks Conrad and Martin Prado and Omar Infante experienced only a slight regression with more playing time, would YOU trade Chipper Jones? (Assume no ramification from Management or the Fan Base; basically, this is question of what would be best for the overall quality of the team)

  115. This probably had no bearing whatsoever, but I went back to watch where Sunday’s game all went wrong and before both BIG walks (Acosta and Moylan) Ross called time just before the pitcher’s were about to pitch and both times it was on a 3-2 count. The next pitch in each case was ball 4. It seems that can’t be good to break your pitcher’s rythmn like that in a key spot.

    Like I said probably nothing.

  116. Mac,

    Sorry… I’m thinking in a purely hypothetical world that would never probably exist given my above conditions (KJ, Prado, Conrad, and Infante are very unlikely to all become above-average players; Management will probably not trade Jones; the backlash-or even fear of- from the fanbase would not allow this trade) So let’s rub the lamp one more time and add the condition that Chipper would accept the trade. All I’m trying to ask is, is it worth giving up our 3B to improve the team?

    Edit: But in honest retrospect, I guess that this question really doesn’t have a point. So, never mind.

  117. ububba,

    Your response to that Met fan should be a paraphrase of what Casey Stengel said in a similar situation:

    “He is 25 and in ten years has a chance to be 35.”

    re Acta: I think it’s probable that the Mets would hire him if/when they fire Jerry Manual.

  118. Mac,

    Got anything for us to do during the break? Maybe another drive down the Road to Bristol?

  119. @143 on MLB trade rumors they said maybe not. But if I had to guess I think that might happen. But maybe not if we tell Acta that he will be Bobby’s replacement whenever Bobby retires. I think Acta would realize that he and Bobby would compliment each other well and that would be in his best long term interest to learn from Bobby. If we can’t get Manny then we should still go look for a new bench coach. Maybe even Jerry Manuel if he is fired and replaced by Manny.

  120. Actually, I would prefer Jimy Williams or Pat Corrales if they wanted to come out of retirement in the event that Acta doesn’t want to be our bench coach.

  121. Why is everyone here so high on Acta? I’m watched him here in DC, and he is nothing special. Sure he is a good guy, but he did no better than Frank Robinson. As a coach, I’m pretty sure he is ok, but I have never heard anyone saying he was a great leader.

    I would rather have a Mike Sciosia type.

  122. seriously guys, you’re making WAY too much out of the coaching thing., the only coach that really works one on one with the players is the pitching coach. the rest of them offer suggestions which are usually ignored………. this isnt football where you do what the position coach says OR ELSE…… while we’re at it,somebody tell me the purpose of a firstbase coach! little leaguers might need someone to tell them to stay awake and not get picked off or “two outs, run on anything”, but c’mon. all they do now is collect elbow pads and shin gaurds for the batboy.

  123. @147 Acta is young and he is one of the only sabermetric guys. He brings a logical perspective to in game strategy. He can learn from Bobby on the personal side of managing. Plus it is not like he had much to work with while managing the Natspos.

    @148 Notice that no one is suggesting we get a new 1st base coach. Sometimes it hurts the team when the hitting coach tells the young promising player to be more aggressive and suddenly he starts sucking. It also hurts when the third base coach has no clue as to when to send the runner. Finally, it hurts when you badly mismanage the bullpen and bunt way too much with good hitters and mismanage the defensive alignments.

  124. besides, I also suggested that we get Willingham and maybe get some bullpen help. oldtimer suggested we could get Herges and send down Medlen. I like that idea.

  125. “Plus it is not like he had much to work with while managing the Natspos.”

    Well if that’s the case, we will never know if the Royals and Pirates have had a good manager in the last 15 years.

    What is Tom Kelly doing? Now that guy could manage.

  126. What’s Ned Yost doing these days? I’d like to see him have his old job back in the 3B coach’s box.

  127. Kelly is in the Twins’ front office. Just like I hope Bobby returns to our front office soon. As far as the Royals and Pirates thing, I mean whatever. I like Acta because his strengths compliment Bobby’s.

  128. @156 That’s cool

    @157 Probably true. But I’m just playing GM. I’d be pumped if they actually did all of that.

    but one thing that gives me hope is Wren’s recent aggressiveness (Glavine, Francouer, etc.)

  129. I’ve never been a big fan of TP and agree he needs to go eventually, but I think he’s an average hitting coach. Our walk rates are okay and if you blame KJs decline on TP you need to give him at least a little credit for Diaz, Escobar, Prado and Infante. He seems to have failed with Kotchman, but I’m not sure if he is salvageable.

    I’m not trying to defend TP, but I don’t think he’s our biggest problem. I still think Bobby Cox is our number one problem outside of some generally below average hitters – especially from a power perspective. With our pitching, I believe we are an above .500 team. I think poor bullpen management has dropped us below .500 and it may have a more dramatic effect with injuries after the AS Break.

  130. What I find funny is that when Acta was hired, the Nationals figured it would be good for the hispanic community to see a hispanic manager and it would help with attendance. However, what the idiots didn’t realize, is that the hispanic community in the area are not Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans or even Mexicans, they are central Americans, Ecuadorans, Columbians and Bolivians,. They don’t play baseball, don’t like baseball…they live and breathe soccer. This is not NY, where Puerto Ricans and Dominicans actually go to the games.

    Anyway, I think Ned Yost should get another shot at managing.

  131. I would hire a windmill as my third base coach and make a random-number generator my manager.

  132. On BC, I agree he’s not THE problem but no doubt he is A problem. His biggest attribute has always been an ability to relate to his players and they in turn play the game hard for him. At this point the effort seems uneven at times, and the Braves playing persona is a long way from crisp or precise. I’m not sure he’s really getting through to the modern ballplayer, and I have to wonder if the team’s overall play in the glory years was more a product of veteran policing of the clubhouse and not as much BC’s grandfatherly guidance. Also, his handling of pitchers and archaic strategic moves are nothing short of comical at times. In short, this team certainly lacks in talent at several positions, but they should still be winning more games with what they have.

  133. @159 I basically agree with you, but I figured I would go ahead and fix that problem along with the other problems I was fixing in my fictional GM thing.

    @160 I think Yost is a lot like Bobby. Good on the personal side, lacking on the strategy side. That’s why I want Acta. Acta would help with strategy. I’m not married to that idea though. Getting Jimy Williams or Pat Corrales back would be OK also.

  134. @160,

    Good point, Tony. But I don’t think the Expos moved here on the premise that Hispanics would form the basis of the attendence. Maybe the front office thought that would be a side benefit of hiring Acta, but I don’t recall anyone saying that was the primary reason they hired him. He was young, had coached for a good team, and I think he was considered a hot, young managerial prospect. Maybe he wasn’t what they expected, but this team is so wretched that it was basically inevitable that Acta would go.

    But, typically, the Nats mishandled it. (There must be a school that GMs go to screw up situations like this.) Everyone knew he was done a month ago, but the front office kept playing Hamlet and, then, a couple of weeks ago said Manny would be the manager for the rest of the season. Do you really think that they all of a sudden decided that the manager was the problem? It’s not as if the Nats started playing worse. But, instead, they decided to have him twist in the wind with a phony vote of confidence (which is typical in baseball)so they could pretend that the front office wasn’t giving into the fans and media. Typically classless just like with Frank Robinson.

    I don’t know about Ned Yost-getting fired with two weeks left in the season doesn’t seem to be a great job recommendation.

  135. Ned Yost was fired after a series of in-game strategic blunders that had everyone wondering whether he really understood baseball. He kept getting out-manuevered late in games by the other managers. There was a famous one against the Phillies were I think he bungled twice in an inning and had the wrong guys facing Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell. He is not going to compliment or enhance the skills of Bobby Cox; he will only confuse Bobby more.

  136. Wow Rizzo didn’t hold any punches:

    “We feel that the team has underachieved. We feel we have a better ball club than we’ve shown on the field,” said Nationals acting general manager Mike Rizzo.

    “I’m not satisfied with the way we play the game at times. We don’t execute nearly as often as I expect them too. But the effort as far as the hustle and preparation is there – the consistency needs work.

    “The way we fundamentally play the game needs a lot of work.”

    So it took them halfway through the season to figure that out?

    They had to make a change, b/c July 30 is when Redskins take over, and if they don’t to have 5 people at the games…they had to do something.

    Yost is still young, I say he deserves a 2nd chance.

  137. I like this post AS break lineup:

    Infante 2b
    Prado 1b
    Jones 3b
    McClouth CF
    McCann C
    Escobar SS
    Diaz LF
    Church RF

    ACHEy breaky heart can platoon as need. I hate benching Conrad though as he seems to have caught fire recently. Hey Conrad think you can play LF?

  138. This is amazing from DOB’s blog. Is this Francoeur’s mother?

    Brightside

    July 11th, 2009
    5:12 pm
    Bummer, I sure did hate to hear Francoeur got traded. He was such a nice guy, such a dedicated player, and finally coming out of his young career prolonged slump into being the great baseball player he is going to be for many years to come.
    Are you happy now……, Do you feel better……., Do you feel like you really accomplished something……, You’ve helped run one of the truly great guys and ballplayers out of town. Are you proud of yourselves? Well, you should be, You really did a good job.
    Now he is gone, who is your next whipping boy, Chipper, maybe. Well wait a minute, maybe Hanson will have a slump. A lot of people seem to delight in others misery. You’ve worked hard to earn your armchair GM title, Wear it proudly.

  139. @167,

    Young is a relative term. The guy is in his 40s, I assume; how old do you need to be to know basic baseball strategy?

  140. I see Bobby is starting to fill the Frenchy roll on here.

    I think the problem is we are the third best team in the division. Everyone wants to blame someone when things aren’t going great, but is it anyone’s fault? We just don’t have the hitters this year and we would have to give up a lot of talented guys to get any hitters.

    We have little power and our team is built on the big inning and we just aren’t getting a lot of those.

    We have shown spurts of greatness and spurts of awful baseball. Most of the time we play decent. This is a solid, but not great team. These are the facts.

  141. No, I would not trade Chipper. No, it would not improve the team. No, we wouldn’t get enough value for him. No, it would not be worth it. No, he would not give his permission. No, I wouldn’t move him to first. No, it would not vastly improve the defense. No, there’s no point to moving him there to have Prado play third when Prado can already play first.

    Does that about cover it?

  142. @170…geez I stand corrected, Ned Yost is 53. Still somewhat young for a manager, considering Leyland, Cox, LaRussa, Torre, and Pinella are all over 65 or close to it, but I didn’t realize he was that old.

  143. I’m not sure why Bobby gets a pass on the lack of offensive talent on the team. Isn’t it fairly well acknowledged that Bobby still has some front office capacity with respect to personnel decisions? Does anyone honestly believe that if Cox had seen enough of Francoeur that he wouldn’t have been shipped out ages ago? Cox has always been the problem, Francoeur was just the most obvious symptom.

  144. Also, I truly do not look forward to seeing Francoeur’s first AB on Thursday night. He is going to get a ridiculously long standing ovation from our brain-dead fans, and it is going to cause me to jam a sock down my throat. My prediction: he will get a longer standing ovation than any former Brave who has come back after ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING!!! Hell, he may get a longer standing ovation than Greg Maddux will the following night when we retire his freaking jersey!

  145. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Worst Moment in an Atlanta Stadium: Pete Rose getting more of an ovation than Hank Aaron before Game 2 of the ’99 WS.

    But really, who cares? Just strike him out.

    If any team should know how, it’s the Braves.

  146. Yeah! We need Ned Yost on First, TP on third, Acta as the bench coach, Perry as the hitting coach. We can bring in Don Baylor to be the guy who runs the balls to the umpire, and fuck it, put Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine on the grounds-crew, so they’re real close to the action. They can help position outfielders!

    Is any of that going to get us some slugging to go with our batting averages?

  147. No, there’s no point to moving him there to have Prado play third when Prado can already play first.

    This is only true if it’s also true that (a) Chipper and Prado are defensive equals, or (b) first base and third base are equally important/difficult defensive positions.

    Both (a) and (b) are false.

  148. @178 Instead we could ignore obvious problems. And besides, I suggested that we should get Josh Willingham in that same post. There is nothing unrealistic about getting a fired hitting coach, and two fired managers (one who used to be on the staff). And I mentioned several times that this was obviously fiction. But it is realistic fiction.

  149. Yes. Realistic. It happens all the time that teams fire three coaches, mid-season, without firing the manager, and replace them with guys the manager has never worked with before. Happens all the time, and always does the trick!

    I will believe you’ve got a firm grasp on the qualifications for starting left-fielder on a major league baseball team. But for any of us to suppose that we have the lowdown on what it takes to be a BENCH COACH and what makes one candidate better than another, is pretty asinine. And that entire conversation above kind of made my head spin and this is as far as I’m going to delve in to this.

  150. Cox and LaRussa the Bowden and Paterno of Baseball

    btw, Jessica Simpson is single again

  151. Okay, maybe I was a bit rash..

    Seeing as it’s something Steve Phillips would do…

  152. Well, that is if you assume that Chipper can play first, which is a weird assumption considering, so far as I can tell, he’s never tried in his life. All things being equal, you’d rather have the slightly better fielder at third, but if Chipper is like Ken Caminiti or something, you’d certainly rather keep it where it is now. Just because a position is theoretically less difficult does not mean that someone who plays a more difficult position can do it well. In my opinion, moving Chipper to first would at best provide a minimal defensive upgrade, and even if everything about it goes perfectly, it’s simply not worth the effort that it would take to get Chipper up to speed over there. Martin Prado is not a Gold Glove infielder. Not even close, really. Plus, the main point of that was that I grow sick of the constant “why don’t we trade Chipper, why don’t we move Chipper, Chipper would agree to be traded, we could restock our entire farm system and set ourselves up for the next 15 years if we would just trade Chipper, blah blah blah…”

  153. Touché on Steve Phillips. But they did alright in 99 and I think its reasonable to conclude that we need better in game strategy.

  154. Nick, I agree that it’s no sure thing that Chipper would be able to make a smooth transition to first. But Prado has been spectacular at third this season; his adventures at second may make that hard to believe, but it’s true.

  155. Looks like the Phillets are set to sign Pedro. One could look at his record against the team he’s trying to beat, which is, I guess, us. He’s only 11-10 with a 3.70 ERA against the Braves, though obviously most of that was before and after his prime. He’s faced the Braves more than anyone but the Yankees.

    Yes, Prado has been sensational at third, while he’s still learning first and is iffy at best at second.

  156. I don’t think anyone is implying this, but I would like to say that Prado shouldn’t be the 3rd baseman of the future. He doesn’t have enough power. He’s in his perfect role now as a super-utility guy.

    Whenever Chipper retires, the Braves will probably have to acquire a 3b from outside the organization.

  157. What about the rest of his professional career? He never hit more than 5 homers in the minors and had a career slugging percentage of .393.

  158. 192,
    He’s only 25 years old. He’s still (theoretically and evidently) improving.

    On Pedro: I don’t think I’m the only Braves fan that isn’t scared by the thought of the Phillies signing a 37-year old fly-ball pitcher (to pitch in Citizens’ Bank Park(!) ) who is a shell of his former self and can’t hit 90 MPH with his fastball.

  159. 25 isn’t that young. He’s almost in his prime. Again, Prado’s a nice player, a super-utility guy who is having a career year. But I wouldn’t plan for a guy who had a .393 minor league slugging percentage to be my future 3b, a power position.

  160. There have always been some third basemen who weren’t big home-run hitters but were offensive contributors. I don’t know that Prado can maintain this level of production, but if he does, he would be among the best third basemen in the league hitting ten homers a year.

  161. This is the second-worst sports day of the year.
    Wednesday is the worst sports day of the year.
    Tomorrow is the third-worst sports day of the year.

  162. I don’t know why you guys hate this so much. Not the most exciting thing ever, but its fun to see some huge shots, and its also kinda fun to see the reactions of the players and families watching on the side.

  163. only two hitters through the 1st round and we are already 45 minutes into this thing. Its a joke and I hate it

    get rid of Berman and I might like it more, well not much more, but more

    seriously Brandon Inge?

  164. Like many things- hockey being my personal favorite example- the HR derby doesn’t translate well to TV (except for ad nauseam replays and the distance calculations, which you decide if you like or not) but is pretty cool in person. A buddy of mine happened to have tickets to the one at Turner and it was pretty cool.

  165. Back back back back back back! HELLO, name of a city in the same state that has the city hosting the All-Star Game this year!

  166. I just wanted everyone here to know that in the new video game The Bigs 2, ACHE is rated a “Legendary” defensive player.

  167. @203…Garrett was young once and a solid player. As we are painfully seeing with Chipper, once you are over 35 and PED free, it’s a real tough game.

  168. the braves should kick in a few $$ to help the Phillies sign Pedro–it would be money well spent

  169. I’m not sure if I read this right, but I think Jayson Stark just made a blog post stating that Garrett Anderson eliminated Pujols from the 2003 Home Run Derby.

    “Garret Anderson” and “Home Run Derby” in the same sentence caused my brain to stop functioning correctly.

  170. Prado was sorta young for his levels in the minors for the first few years, so I make a slight adjustment there. I make a bigger adjustment for the fact that he’s spent the last season and a half hitting .324/.385/.476. His line drive % is increasing, his infield fly % is decreasing, and he puts the ball in play a lot. I don’t expect him to hit .330 all the time, but clearing .300 with a high number of doubles and some walks looks doable to me. That and a decent glove at third, and who do you have? Something in the Placido Polanco – Jeff Cirillo range, maybe? That’s someone who can play third for a winning team.

  171. Jeff Cirillo maybe?

    Boy, that guy went south in a hurry. I remember when he was kind of a big deal.

  172. I was living in Seattle when Cirillo signed for 3/$20 million after the M’s big 2001 season. That’s when he fell off a cliff, then moped about being benched, and became the fans’ official whipping boy for the M’s not making the postseason. But he was a fine hitter with the Brewers for several years.

  173. Garret Anderson won the Home Run Derby one year. That was probably the year. He was then All-Star MVP the next night. If not one of the elite players in the game, Garret at least used to be in the second tier.

  174. He really was quite pedestrian even in Colorado, if you normalize his stats.

  175. Dumb question, but why do homers in BP and derbies go so much farther than in a real game situations?

  176. Well, other than the fact that they’re getting a steady stream of fat pitches, in the Home Run Derby it’s been reported that they use juiced balls and I wouldn’t be shocked if they used corked bats as well.

  177. It also probably should not be understated that not only are they getting fat pitches, but they know that fat pitches are coming. If a hitter in an actual game knew that the pitcher was about to hang a breaking ball, he could probably hit it a long damn way.

  178. On MLB Network tonight, I caught some of the ’71 ASG—the one with Reggie’s famous blast. It was the first ASG I remember watching in its entirety as a kid, so I was kinda curious.

    A few things I noticed: 1) It’s hard to imagine 2 less athletic players than Mickey Lolich and an aging Harmon Killebrew, 2) Interesting to see very little fraternization between players on opposite teams, 3) Mike Cuellar was one confounding & crafty son-of-a-gun—great junk, lethal screwball.

    Also, very amusing to see Roberto Clemente’s AB vs. Lolich, who threw him 2 lollipops up and out of the strike zone. On the first one, Clemente looked back at the ump, seemingly saying, “Let him throw that again.”

    Then Lolich does, but it’s up and away again. Clemente disgustingly drops his bat. This is not a Kruk-like joke moment. He’s genuinely peeved.

    Then Lolich tries to sneak a heater by him & Clemente blasts it into the centerfield upper deck at Tiger Stadium.

    A great group of future HoF players were in that game—11 on the NL (plus 2 managers), 9 on the AL (plus 1 manager). And yes, Bad Henry had a tater, too.

  179. I did not watch the Home Run Derby, choosing to watch The Magnificent Ambersons and White Heat instead. I think it was a good choice. First, listening to Chris Berman makes me wish that his head was the baseball. Second, while BP can be fun, the Home Run Derby is ridiculously long, primarily because ESPN needs to fill time. ESPN always has to gimmick up everything. By the time they get to the last round, the guys are tired and can barely hit any out. Third, what’s the big deal about guys hitting long home runs in batting practice? Fourth, I would much rather watch reruns of the original Home Run Derby TV show that had guys like Aaron, Mathews, Mays, and Mantle hitting homers in a minor league park. The minimalism appeals to me after the idiocy that is ESPN and Chris Berman.

    Make it more interesting by having the pitchers try to get the hitters out, ie. make it more than batting practice.

  180. When I was a kid I loved the All-Star game. The guys took it seriously, but times have changed so much that it has its competitive edge.
    There is a good article on SI.Com about the All-Star games and exhibition games the players used to participate in. Its by Bill James and Posnaski.

  181. Throwing this out there:

    Is Bill James Online worth the subscription? Pros and Cons of the site?

  182. It’s 3$/month, you can ask Bill any question, you get access
    to all of Bill’s quirky stats and John Dewan’s fielding bible stats, every article Bill writes, etc… I’d say it’s worth it. Especially if the history of the game interests you. Though between subscribing to BJOL and Baseball Prospectus, I’d pick Prospectus.

  183. The home run derby is like the slam dunk contest. It’s kind of cool. Has it’s moment, then it is gone. Just something fun and the only sport related thing on TV that day.

  184. Oddly I have cared less about the ASG since Bud made it “count” than I did before. It also doesn’t help that the AL wins seemingly every year.

    They ought to turn the ASG into the equivalent of the Pro Bowl and have it take place after the World Series. It could be played either in a city with a domed stadium, Hawaii, or in Latin America. The players should be selected based on their entire season not just their first half. And it should have no impact on the World Series. Home field advantage in the championship series should be determined by which of the two teams has the best record like in hockey and basketball.

  185. Re: Posnansky/James

    Good convo, and I agree with the indifference-to-exhibition-games point.

    But I’d add this to the reasons few care as much about the ASG anymore: Overexposure.

    There’s just no mystery or wonder to the ASG. Before internet & cable gave you access to every team—hell, before cable, period—if you were a real baseball fan, the All Star Game was a vital entry point.

    If you lived in an AL city, say Boston, you never saw Nate Colbert, outside of his baseball card. But if you liked baseball, you might’ve wondered, “Who’s this guy in San Diego who’s hitting 38 HRs?”

    Growing up in Columbus, Ga., and watching or listening to the Braves, I only saw AL teams on Saturday afternoons (but not always), Monday nights (but not always), post-season (though many games were played on weekdays) and the All Star Game, which I rarely missed until I went to college.

    You’d hear about people like the Angels’ Nolan Ryan—4 no-hitters & you’d read about him like he was Walter Johnson, but you never saw him pitch. Rod Carew? Lucky if you saw him once on a Saturday afternoon.

    The All-Star Game allowed access to the great players at a time when that was pretty rare. Now, sad to say, it’s almost worth ignoring.

  186. I think Bill James Online is worthwhile for the stats. Though, the site is clunky. Too many pages and subpages and a main page that tells you almost nothing. Should I check out articles or columns? Why can’t player names, years, and teams be linked. The search button doesn’t work when hitting return in Firefox. Very annoying. I wish they’d just team up with Sean Forman who knows how to present baseball data on the web.

  187. Move the All-Star game to after the season? There are some good reasons for that, most notably that the all stars would be based on a year long performance. However, it would never work. The ASG is losing relevance now. Move it after the WS in late October/early November, and it goes head to head with college and pro football, making it even more irrelevant. Given the choice between a big time NFL or NCAA game and a MLB game that doesn’t count, and i’ll take the football game every time. No one cares about this game now, put it in th emiddle of football season and it probably rates the MLB network. Also, you’d have a lot more players begging off playing, and rightfully so after already playing a full season. Furthermore, the players who don’t make the playoffs will have a layoff of weeks, and would most assuredly lose their timing and crispness.

    If I wanted to fix the ASG, I would trim the rosters to the 25 best players from each league, and play the game like a real game. I’d find the game much more compelling watching guys like McCann and Pujols play the entire 9 innings, and the manager actually manage the game with winning as the primary objective without having to worry about getting the Pirates token rep an AB. I think all the nonsense that surrounds the current ASG has had a net negative inmpact, as there isn’t enough there to lure the casual fan, and the shallowness of the actual game turns off real baseball fans. Personally I’d prefer MLB just not bother with it and continue playing games that count, business as usual.

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