Braves 5, Mets 3, Francoeur… well, you know.

New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – July 16, 2009 – ESPN

First off, a big hand to Jeff Francoeur, who did what he does so well — make outs, five of them in four plate appearances. Hitting fifth, which is something even Bobby wouldn’t do with him anymore. Of course, the Mets’ lineup is pretty bad these days, but if they’d gotten anything out of the five hole they might have won.

The Braves took the lead in the second with back-to-back homers (for the first time all year) from Yunel and ACHE. The Mets took over with three runs off of Derek Lowe in the fourth inning. He didn’t really do that badly, he gave up three ground-ball singles (plus a pathetic groundout by Jeffy that was so bad no double play could be turned) before allowing a double to the gap for the third run. He allowed only one hit total in the five other innings he worked, though his control was off and he walked three, and needed 113 pitches for just those six innings.

The Braves tied it up in the bottom of the inning, with McCann scoring from first on a double — he just got in under the tag. It stayed tied until the seventh, when Chipper (who had made three first-pitch outs previously, in what I can only guess was a tribute to the Groundhog) singled in Conrad, though they couldn’t get another run out of the situation. They did in the eighth, when Norton singled in Ryan Church (who ran for ACHE after the latter reached on an infield single, his third hit of the night).

Acosta pitched the seventh and got the win. Moylan’s arm is still attached, so he pitched the eighth, even though it was the toughest part of the lineup with Wright and Sheffield. Well, and Jeffy. They went 1-2-3. Certified non-All-Star Rafael Soriano needed to get four outs because Chipper botched a grounder, but he did it in style, striking out two.

In summary: Braves win, Francoeur still sucks, only now he’s helping us win.

135 thoughts on “Braves 5, Mets 3, Francoeur… well, you know.”

  1. From the last thread:

    Jon K – I said you made a good point, and you did. But, at least 90% of MLB managers would have played that the way Bobby did.

  2. When he lined into that double play, I literally jumped straight up off of my couch and clapped and hollered!

  3. Two of the singles in the Mets “scoring inning” were ground balls hit in Martin Prado’s direction that Kelly Johnson probably would’ve turned into outs. Of course he’d have made an error later in the game.

  4. Wow has this been discussed?

    “The arm was overused,” Gonzalez said. “As professionals, we know that sometimes we have to ask for a day off. I never did that.”

    Over the past few weeks, Gonzalez said he began to notice the pain and could feel his performance gradually deteriorate. However, he felt he could still get his job done up until his outing against the Rockies on July 9.

    “Nobody in this clubhouse is without aches and pains,” Gonzalez said. “But I was on the mound in Colorado, and I couldn’t feel the ball coming off my fingers. It was ridiculous. I’m in a Major League game, and I couldn’t concentrate on the batter. I didn’t even know who was hitting. That’s when I had to shut it down.”

    What?? So why did he even try to pitch? Basically cost the Braves a game.

  5. FROM LAST THREAD…. Gonzo must agree with me

    Parish

    You may be right, but I still don’t agree with the decision haha. I think tonight is just another example of Cox’s poor bullpen management. His whole mindset is centered around “how do I get out of this one inning”. I really don’t think he thinks beyond the moment, because time and time again he makes these decisions which cost the team games at some point in time. Case in point that Colorado series… a perfect example of a series that could have been a sweep but due to poor bullpen management it ends up being a spilt

  6. Everyone does it. It’s no different than when Schafer didn’t disclose the extent of his injury. I don’t like it, but it’s this macho attitude that baseball loves so much.

  7. Watching the post game comments from BC, he either has a cold or Jerome Jarinovitch is wearing a mohair sweater.

    Just checked the score of the Phillies-Fish game and saw where Jamie Moyer, the Phillies version of Eddie Harris, allowed 1-hit over 7 in a 4-0 win. Phillies are rollin right now.

  8. BTW, Bobby said that O’Flaherty was unavailable tonight because his back was bothering him.

  9. We used our closer in the ninth inning of a close game. Are we really discussing this?

  10. I probably should have made a Bravesjournal cameo the day Jeff was traded just to see the various reactions but OH SO GOOD seeing him MAKE OUTS IN A METS UNIFORM.

    As I said to Mac earlier, I believe his health improved by around 55% with the subtraction of Francouer.

  11. With Ibanez back with his two homers, plus Howard hit another one away from Citizens…the Braves margin of error is very, very tiny.

    Back to the Gonzo thing, so we basically have to treat him with kid gloves the rest of the way. That’s why it would have been great if the staff “ace” could have at least gone 7 innings against the Mets horrid lineup.

  12. Alex, how is Austin? Where ya been?

    So, what kind of reception did Stenchy get from the crowd?

  13. I know longer consider Lowe the ace of the staff….I think that title belongs to Vasquez or Jurjjens….I see Lowe as an overpaid 5th starter at this point, even Hanson has outpitched him

  14. Austin is HOT…but a great city to live in. Much better lifestyle these days – thanks for asking.

    I’m sure this has been talked about but damn did we need that all star break for our relief pitchers.

    How is it every year under ‘Cox rule’ we ALWAYS manage to have at least 3 relievers amongst the top in Games/innings Pitched?

  15. @4 I wouldn’t expect the players to ask for a day-off. It should be the manager who manages this and I thought Bobby is supposed to be good at that.

    …finally, baseball is back….thank goodness…

  16. Heyward 2-for-2 tonight with two doubles. He is hitting .406 and OPSing 1.161 in AA.

    Tell me he won’t start 2010 in Atlanta.

  17. At the top level of athletics you have to ignore your body. Look at the Tour de France. Those guys vomit at the end of every stage and are burning muscles. It’s not the international crack smoking championship, but it’s not healthy. Baseball players aren’t on that level, but you have to lie to yourself about pain to play baseball every day.

  18. Shouldn’t Omar be fired on the basis of the Oliver Perez signing alone? Wait, he also traded Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur.

  19. @22 – When and where do the International Crack Smoking Championships get under way this year?

  20. #28

    Pretty sure that’s meth country — I’ve been to their courthouse on juvie day. Not a pretty sight.

  21. good news from Peanut..

    There is zero truth to those Escobar rumors. The Braves have NO and I repeat no intention to move him. Believe me, if they move him, it will simply be a deal that they simply can’t refuse and that wouldn’t include anything involving Holliday.

    By Mark Bowman on July 16, 2009 6:29 PM

  22. BTW, I used to live in Dahlonega, so I’m making a joke about someplace I like…but, they do have a meth problem up that way.

  23. My stepbrother and his family live up there, JC. Beautiful country, helpful people, but it is the mountains after all….

  24. How is it every year under ‘Cox rule’ we ALWAYS manage to have at least 3 relievers amongst the top in Games/innings Pitched?

    Because relievers are disposable and Bobby treats them as such? Just a guess.

  25. Robert, Yes, I am aware…I am just sick of him over using relief pitchers and wearing half of them out by the All Star game.

    He’s putting Tommy Lasorda to shame.

  26. That pushes Heyward’s line to .441 BA/.500 OBP/.794 SLG/1.294 OPS with 6 R, 10 RBI, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR through his first 10 games at the AA level.

    Not bad at all.

  27. You guys have officially lost your damn minds. I can see the argument about pitching Soriano in the eighth. That’s fine. But not pitching him with a two-run lead in the ninth and pitching God knows who is insane, especially with Gonzo and O’Flaherty unavailable. I honestly have no idea what the hell you people are talking about. Those three hitters may have been “crappy.” But they were Major League hitters all the same, and you never play around like that when the game is so close. Ever.

    I really don’t think there is anything Bobby can do anymore that you won’t find stupid, at least regarding the bullpen. I cringe to think of the reaction on here if he puts in Medlen or Valdez (assuming he’s even still on the damn team) and the lead is given up in about two seconds. “Oh, it’s OK that we lost this vitally important game that we had in the bag, because now Soriano, who was already on four days rest, will be fresh for the rest of the series.” I’m pretty sure no one would be saying that, and if someone would’ve been, they would be a freaking moron. It was not a four-run lead. It was a two-run lead. There will be enough four-run leads for you to complain about. For the life of me, I have no idea why people are complaining about this.

    But oh…we’re not setting ourselves up for a series win. That’s rich. You know what would set us up for a series win real nicely? Blowing Game 1 because we retardedly threw a AAA pitcher instead of our closer for absolutely no freaking reason whatsoever! Soriano had FOUR FREAKING DAYS OFF! For those of you who only read numbers for some reason, that’s 4! And he wasn’t even one of the ones showing any wear whatsoever. Yeah, his arm must be really taxed after four days off. I look forward to you complaining next year about Bobby (assuming he’s still the manager) using our closer on Opening Day. I mean, we have to think about arm trouble here. It would just be irresponsible, frankly.

    And for God’s sake, stop complaining after we win!

  28. Nick,

    90% agree. If Bobby hadn’t used Sori and the Mets had tied up the game, I don’t think that there is a single person on this board (or on any other) who wouldn’t have called for his head. A rally, especially from a division rival, would have been a horrific way to start the second half.

    I’m pretty sick of the Bobby Bashing too. You’ve voiced your opinions about Cox, we have read them, and I’m pretty sure that neither you or we are going to change our opinions on him based on your repetitive undermining of his decisions.

  29. I think you misread that if you think I’m trying to undermine Bobby’s decisions. At least in this case. I have on occasion complained, but in general, I find the incessant whining about him to be ridiculous. And in this case, it was especially ridiculous, which was the point of that rant.

  30. @38 I think people are complaining Bobby’s general over-usage of particular relievers over the years. I wouldn’t think anyone would have argued for not using Sori tonight.

  31. This is interesting..

    Ryan Howard hit his 23rd homer of the year and 200th of his career in Thursday’s win over the Marlins. He is the fastest player ever to reach the 200-homer threshold. It took Howard 658 games to collect 200 homers, good enough to beat out the previous record holder, Ralph Kiner, who did it in 706 games.

    He’s a far sight better than Adam freakin’ LaRoche, Mac. Jeez ;-)

    Maybe he’s just the Cris Carter of Major League Baseball. All he does is hit homers/catch touchdowns!

  32. Nick,

    I’m sorry, I was referring to the constant Bobby Bashers- not very eloquent use of language on my part.

  33. Except that they were arguing specifically about using Sori tonight. Check the last thread.

    EDIT: Gotcha, desert. Sorry.

  34. Did you guys see SIs headline for the Braves game?

    Francoeur nets RBI in Atlanta return

    Did they even see the at-bat where he got the RBI? It was one of his patented weak dribblers to a middle infielder. Only reason it wasn’t a double play is because he hit the ball with his purse. Unreal.

  35. @42 I believe Mac says Howard is the most overrated player in baseball, which is quite different to whether he is good or not.

    @44 Gotcha, I didn’t read the game thread.

  36. Only reason it wasn’t a double play is because he hit the ball with his purse.

    Beautiful

  37. Mad Dog’s number 31 will be retired by the Braves tonight. Just want to take a chance to say Greg Maddux will forever be my most favorite baseball player of all time.

    If you never had a chance to watch Maddux pitches during his prime, I feel so sorry for you.

  38. 38 — I think Jon K. was the only one saying that Soriano shouldn’t have pitched tonight. I don’t think anyone else agreed.

  39. Welcoming the newest Braves fan…

    My daughter was born just before midnight. She’s another c. shorter unless we change our minds in the morning.

    Sure can’t argue with her coming on a day of a Braves win over the Mets.

  40. @52 Congratulations! great news. Is that number 1 for you guys?
    Baby girl, Braves beat Mets, Jeffy 0-4, you had a great day yesterday.

  41. Gonzo, Cox, and McDowell share responsibility for Gonzo’s present situation. Along with the fact that almost every game we’ve played in the last 3+ weeks has been close, and the fact that pitching is an unnatural act.

    Although it’s tempting to save some blame for Wren, I can’t find any real reason to do so. Four good relief pitchers is a better situation than many teams have.

    Congrats, c shorter!

  42. Congratulations to c. shorter!

    (Isn’t amazing how your life completely changes?)

    I had no issue with using Soriano tonight. He was on 4 days rest, it was a close game, and he did what closers are supposed to do – slam the door shut. If it had been a 4-5 run lead then that’s a different matter. Good win tonight.

    Purse – hahaha!

  43. Thanks for all the well wishing and congrats. This is our second. Our two-year-old son’s about to go to the hospital with me and have his world rocked.

    Thanks again, guys.

  44. #58 I remember when we introduced my then 2 year old to his new sister. First casual interest, then he ignored her, finally the sudden realization that we were going to keep her.

    PW where is your mid season? I’d like to read it.

  45. Flabravesfan,

    How was the brain surgery?

    c shorter,

    Congratulations. Although I don’t have a son, I suspect you will find having a daughter to be much, much different (albeit delightful).

    Re playing with injuries: As I recall, many people were bashing Chipper for not playing with injuries. Clearly, however, it’s different with pitchers, especially relief pitchers because if he is hurt, he is going to cost the team the game. But you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    When Ripken was in the middle of his streak, there were many times that he played with minor injuries and, arguably, it hurt his performance and the team. It really pisses me off when people complained about Chipper not playing with a bad hand but how are you supposed to hit if you hand is injured?

    Re Soriano: I don’t know how the hell you don’t pitch your closer in the first game after the break, with a small lead in a crucial series. Who knows, maybe they win tomorrow 12-0 or something. I don’t see how you can possibly assume that O’Flarety of whomever could get through the ninth–maybe he could but if he doesn’t and you lose the game with your well-rested closer (and best pitcher)not pitching, what kind of clod are you?

  46. #52 – congrats enjoy every minute

    btw, anyone check out the box score from yesterdays game. Chipper saw 5 pitches in 4 ab’s. Even though he hit the ball hard, it was against Oliver Perez. I hate this team when we face crap pitchers with bad command and we go up there swinging at everything.

  47. Today’s Francoeur Song, to the tune of “Frosty the Snowman”.

    Frenchy the outman
    Fails ev’ry chance he gets
    He’ll fail some more
    But fans know for sure
    Now he’s failing for the Mets

  48. I do think both sides of the “Bobby question” need to think again on their posts. I am generally negative and think we need a change. But, O’Flaherty was not available because of his back (and that is just a little scary for down the stretch although Logan has been pretty good). It was a good time to use Soriano. Duh.

    Same thing to the “pro Bobby’s”. You might need to actually pay attention to some of these criticisms. Over the last few years, the overuse of the best relievers, no matter how well intentioned, has caused problems. Don’t you think having Gonzo, Moylan, and Soriano available every 3rd day for 2007, 2008, and 2009 (with a few more lossses in 2007 and a lot less in 2008) would have made for a better team than losing 100 or more games on active roster for each of them and thus turning that work over to Carlyle, Bennett, et al?

  49. In praise of Manny Acosta.

    Mac rightfully illustrated with statistics earlier this year the significant failings of Acosta in high leverage situations previously in his career. i didn’t know the numbers, but my internal calculator sure knew there was something like that going on.

    So far, (small sample size) he has done much better. He always seemed to have the stuff, but seemed to lose control and command in high leverage situations. if he has gotten over the jitters (maturity, coaching, a swig of rum) then he could be a major plus down the stretch.

  50. I’ve been critical of Cox, but I don’t consider myself a Cox basher – I’m just not a defender at this point. As far as using the bullpen last night, I don’t see how anyone can have a problem with it. He used the best healthy pitchers he had and it worked.

    To give Bobby credit I don’t think there are many managers who can keep a veteran team together like he does. When you have good players who are in slumps, he is great in sticking with them and working to build their confidence. I think he also excels in keeping the team focused that it is a long season and he can minimize the damage when a good team is going through a melt down. He’s never been a great manager for in game strategy and tends to stick with the percentages instead of changing things when circumstances dictate – not always a bad thing, especially with a veteran team.

    His strengths can also become his weaknesses with the wrong kind of team. I think this year is a case in point. He has some very good veterans in the bullpen and he keeps on riding them and doesn’t let the younger guys get much of a chance. He stayed with Francoeur longer than any known human outside of an adoring 14 year old fan would. When the Braves appear to start playing well, some of his “percentage strategy” inevitably seems to haunt him in important games. The last game before the AS break when he removed a hot pitching Logan so Acosta could pitch to one lefty masher (with no one on and a 4 run lead) is a good example.

    If the Braves come back and win the division this year, I’ll give BC full credit. Unfortunately Cox’s track record this year and the 3 years previous gives me very little confidence.

  51. From previous thread…

    Robert,
    The theory among Met people—fans & media types, FWIW—is that Wright’s given up on hitting homers at Citi Field & tailored his swing, and it’s carried over on the road.

    Early in the season Wright did 2 things: strike out a lot & hit balls that were caught in the deepest part of the new park. It made him crazy. He even said something to Chipper about it during a game after #10 clanked one off the wall himself. (Chipper revealed this on a Sirius radio show.)

    He’s had a strange season, for sure. His BA & OBP are terrific. His splits in high-leverage spots are good, but he’s had 8 or 10 big, late-game situations this year where the other team had to pitch to him & he struck out.

    That’s a lotta back pages of the tabloids.

  52. Cliff,

    I don’t think people are ignoring the problems with Bobby’s bullpen management, but some of the criticisms seem to expect Bobby to be clairvoyant about these pitchers. I certainly agree that he has used the top relievers too often at times; on the other hand, considering the other options, he doesn’t have that much choice. It’s not as if the other guys are locks to close the game. And, at this point in the season, he really doesn’t have the option of managing for the long-run unless you are saying they should bag this year.

  53. Marc @ 71,

    What I am saying is that the effects of the overuse come back quicker than “next year”. I think “going for it this year” requires that Cox and McDowell establish a protocol more or less “two days up, one game down” for these relievers and stick to it. Maybe if in extra innings, stretch it one day. Otherwise, hold the protocol. If the only way this team can win is by squeaking out every day, the team won’t win anyway. Let a game go once and a while.

    Think about it. Moylan has most innings in relief of any pitcher in baseball in 07. Early 08, TJ surgery. Gonzo comes in trade after minor elbow problems. Heavy use. Surgery. Soriano is ridden like a mule in 07. Elbow problems in 08. It is not just a long term problem.

    THIS YEAR we already have a problem on overuse on Gonzo. Maybe he was trying to macho, but maybe he wouldn’t have had to if he had not had so many appearances.

    Part of this problem may be the injuries, inconsistencies or roster building which leave us with no true multi inning relievers other than Medlen. If we could use Campillo or Carlyle or Bennett for 2 to 3 innings like we were able to in 07 / 08 that would help the problem a lot.

    Also, speaking of Carlyle and Bennett, what is up with them? i would think they should have started rehab by now.

    Same for Infante. Apparently, he is just now planning his rehab.

  54. Bobby is part to blame for bullpen’s troubles, but as one poster stated, I think Bobby sees the arms in the bullpen as disposable. And with the exception of the closer, he’s sort of right. Now last night I have no trouble with using Soriano.

    I also think the starters have to go longer in games. The Mets line-up is really bad, so I’m hoping at least one starter can go 7innings. With that said the offense could give the pitching staff a break by scoring more runs.

  55. When Moylan got Sheffield out, the game was over. But did anyone for a second think that Frenchy might go deep to tie the game? Wasn’t everyone a little nervous?

  56. Did Cox stick with Jeffy too long? I honestly don’t know. They did send him down in ’08, and brought him back not because he whined about it, but because due to injury we fielded an OF of Norton, Infante, and Perry. Once the season became a lost cause, primarily due to the decimated rotation, there was nothing to be gained by benching him, and nobody of any promise to take his place. Nobody improves by not playing.

    Given that he’d been a decent contributor in 2007, you were fooling yourself if you didn’t think he’d get a chance to rebound in ’09. And he deserved that chance. And while he certainly stunk up the place, so did Schafer and Anderson for the first several weeks. You can’t replace an entire outfield overnight. Instead, it’s taken half a season, and an argument can be made that by continuing to play Francoeur, we evinced a sufficient belief in his promise that we were able to net a legit RF in a change-of-scenery trade.

    Did it cost us a couple of wins in the short run? Maybe, but only if you really think a different OF configuration cobbled together among the available parts would have made a SIGNIFICANT difference. Diaz, the most popular candidate, is a lefty masher, period — same platoon difference as Frenchy. A guy with a left fielder’s arm batting .281/.327/.386 vs RHP in his career was so clearly a substandard solution that it’s mind-boggling how many otherwise reasonable people advocated him.

  57. If Omar Infante isn’t due back relatively soon, then I believe that we should trade something low-minor and expendable to the Red Sox for Julio Lugo, provided they’re willing to eat almost all his contract.

    We have a small handful of bench-ish infielders, none of whom can play SS reliably. Lugo’s not the second coming of Pokey Reese, but he can fill in. When Chipper needs a day off, then Prado, Yunel and KJ are all pressed into necessary duty. It would be nice to have another veteran who could fill in one of those positions, with a mid-.300’s OBP and a bit of speed to pinch run other times. If we can get him cheep, he could be very useful. And we don’t have a backup SS in the wings for next year either.

    Again, all prefaced on the idea the Infante isn’t coming back soon, and that we can get Lugo for almost nothing. Yes, what we really need is a bigger bat and/or another reliable pen arm. But if we’re unlikely to get either for a cost we can afford, I think Lugo’s a nice idea.

  58. 73,
    I agree that the starters should go longer in games. Problem is we’re never blowing anyone out so the starters are constantly having to make perfect pitches as opposed to pounding the zone. That drives up their pitch count.

  59. This team just needs to hit more than it did in the first half. That’s the root of all the problems.

    Our best relievers have to pitch win or lose, because every game is so close, and we aren’t winning most of them. Bobby has to try to grab every one that he can.

    If we were winning more games, and doing so 7-3, 5-1 then Sori, Gonzo, and Moylan wouldn’t be pitching in 3-1 losses.

  60. The nature of this team is simply leading to an abundance of close games, games in which BC really has no choice but to overuse his best relievers since winning games are at a premium if this team is trying to contend. Our starting pitching is good enough to avoid many 9-2 deficits, but our offense is not good enough to get many 9-2 leads. Hence, we play a lot of 5-4, 4-3, 3-2 games requiring use of our best relievers in high leverage situations.

    Still, Cox needs to avoid using our best relievers when we do find a game that is comfortably in control either way. When he does use our better relievers in those situations the criticism is justified.

  61. The problem is that Cox has used the “big 4” in a lot of games where we were either up by more than 3 or losing by a fairly wide margin.

  62. “games in which BC really has no choice but to overuse his best relievers since winning games are at a premium if this team is trying to contend.”

    No. He always has the choice. Even if the game is uncomfortably close, if your relief aces are tired, they shouldn’t be available. And yeah, you’ll lose some games because you’re using low-leverage relievers in inappropriate situations. In my opinion, it’s better to let your low-leverage relievers lose a game than make your tired high-leverage relievers pitch, because when they’re tired, they’re probably going to lose it too. And you also make them unavailable the next day and risk injury. The fact that nobody from the front office will step in and say, “No, Bobby. You can’t use Soriano (or whoever) today” drives me insane. Nothing to do with last night, I don’t disagree with his use of the Bullpen last night (now that we know EOF was unavailable and even if he was). But in general, it’s been bad.

  63. sansho – your argument is valid. Yeah Frenchy had a league average season as recently as 2007. So you treat 2008 as an aberation and give the kid a chance. I agree.

    However a manager’s primary job is to put the players on the field that give the team the best chance to win.
    Frenchy’s .232/.267/.333 slash stats against righties make Diaz look like Henry Aaron.
    The arm? Really? I guess that I would have argued more for Francoeur’s superior ability to catch balls over the once every 10 games an outfielder’s arm results in an out being created. So I’ll go on record here that IMHO that Bobby played Jeff Francoeur too many games and it hurt the team.
    I would also say that if Bobby continued to play Jeff in an effort to entice a trade, Jeff didn’t do a hell of a lot to entice a suitor. But if that was the case then Bobby is a damn genius.

  64. Part of the problem is perhaps the underuse of the starters. This seems to be a year in which complete games are making somewhat of a comeback, yet the Braves have none. In part, this is due to the number of close games, but I would have expected Lowe to have at least one or two by now. I am really disappointed in his inability to keep his pitch count down and pitch late into games which was, after all, the primary reason he was signed. And Jurrjens, as well as he has pitched, throws a lot of pitches, not to mention Vazquez and Kurakami. Even if the starters go 7, that still leaves two innings and, in a close game as most of them are, Bobby has to choose between possibly blowing the game or overusing the top guys. It’s really a Hobson’s choice. I realize they want to be careful with the SPs, especially the young pitchers, but getting into the 8th inning would make a big difference, I think. Either that or try to get more reliable guys to support the Big 3. I think Cliff’s idea about sticking to a pattern makes sense and it’s hard to really criticize the starters after the way they have pitched, they really need to be more economical with their pitches.

    And, of course, as people have pointed out, scoring more runs would help too.

  65. #82

    Soriano didn’t pitch on Sunday, when he was really needed. That would have been 5 days in a row if I remember correctly. There is some evidence to support Cox doesn’t always abuse his relievers. However, if you’re trying to win, and legitimately contend, you have to sometimes set aside accepted conventions. I readily admit BC isn’t the best at bullpen management, and has used some guys in blowout games where a mop up player would suffice, but victories are precious and he has to answer for those too.

  66. PWHjort – I wrote a long retort, but I guess I can sum it up with this:

    What major league manager who has had any degree of success would abandon close games because he’s down 2-1 instead of up 2-1?

  67. re: playing/not playing Frenchy the past few years –

    I seem to remember a lot of talk on this site recently about the “personnel” or “human” management part of being a good manager. Jeff’s biggest problem seemed to be his inability or unwillingness to make adjustments to the adjustments that pitchers had made to him. So we convince him to make adjustments by sending him out there everyday and re-calling him from his demotion after 3 games? It just doesn’t make any sense.

    Totally ignoring that we didn’t have a lot of other good options in the OF, this is your “franchise” player here. We’re not talking about Mondesi in the twilight of his career. If running Jeff out there every day to be the worst player in the league was a part of the Braves player development strategy for a former number one pick and face of the franchise, not to mention a player playing one of the top power positions on the field who had lost all of his power, well then that’s a little scary for a lifelong Braves fan.

    Wow, I am so glad he is gone.

  68. If last night’s lead were four runs, or perhaps even three runs, I could see the discussion. But it was a two-run lead which is just too close to be screwing around. The fact that makes this whole conversation so outrageous in my opinion is that this was the first game after the All-Star break. Soriano was on four days’ rest. I really don’t know what last night even has to do with overusing the bullpen, unless using your closer by definition means you’re overusing the bullpen. I agree Bobby has overused the bullpen, but not every night is a good night to complain about it.

    I firmly believe that simply not using Sori and Gonzo with four-run leads would go a long way towards solving the problem. There should never be a situation similar to last night where Bobby doesn’t use either Gonzo or Soriano, though.

    Also, letting starters go one more inning is something we really should think about more often (although he seems to be doing that more this year than last…probably because he has confidence they might get through the inning this year), but that really wasn’t the issue last night. He couldn’t send Lowe back out there on 113 pitches while cramping up.

    And as far as the front office telling him they can’t use somebody, they really can’t do that. It’s not their job, and frankly Bobby would know how tired they were far more than the front office. I know this has been said before, but this front office is never going to undermine Bobby, nor should they. Frankly, it is never a good thing when the front office is telling the manager what to do. It causes a bunch of unnecessary confusion and tension amongst the team. If you’re looking for somebody to get in Bobby’s ear and suggest that he not use somebody that night, Roger McDowell is your best bet…or perhaps Eddie Perez.

  69. Johnny, the argument I’ve made before is that a strong arm in RF reduces the number of times an extra base is attempted by the other team — a factor which I believe is underserved by current defensive measures, which are geared towards events which occur, not those which don’t. In the present sabermetric climate, anything not measured or measurable is dismissed too quickly.

    I’ve also argued that the difference in range factors of Diaz and Francoeur are overstated due to the caliber of athletes they’re being measured against, and that the difference would largely disappear once Diaz moved to RF. Leaving the arm as the primary defensive difference between the two.

  70. In point of fact, STATS and BIS measure the number of times runners go from first to third on an outfielder’s arm. But the difference simply can’t be that great, because there aren’t enough times in a season when it happens.

  71. Until you put a left fielder in right field.

    (Those particular measures haven’t filtered down to me. Are they kept updated somewhere?)

  72. Leaving aside that Diaz’s arm isn’t that bad, no, it doesn’t. There aren’t that many times when a single is hit to right field with a runner on first, and sometimes that runner will always go to third, and sometimes he never will.

  73. What about stretching singles to doubles, doubles to triples, second to home on singles, first to home on doubles? While none of these happen constantly, I’ll submit that all told they come up more often than a ball gets hit which Diaz can get to but Frenchy can’t.

    Neither are great outfielders, and Diaz’s isn’t sporting a noodle arm along the lines of Juan Pierre. But Francoeur had a great arm, and that’s what makes the difference IMO>

  74. For what it is worth… Jeffy is annually in the top ten in keeping runners from advancing. In 2007, he was the best in baseball at it; this year, he’s sixth. (These are BIS stats from Bill James Online.) It’s just that the absolute numbers aren’t that great — 30 times a year, maybe. 3o bases isn’t nothing, but it can’t come close to what he gives back at the plate.

  75. As I’ve said, we’d have been slightly better with Diaz playing over Frenchy. But not significantly so, not enough to put multiple extra wins on the scoreboard. One win better, that’s my guess.

  76. I would suggest that the Cox bashing contingent of the Reliever Usage Wars consider, just for the sake of argument, that arm injuries to relief pitchers are not completely controllable phenomena. In this thread someone mentions that Cox “overused” Gonzalez when he was acquired, leading to TJ surgery. That theory fails to account for the fact that Mike Gonzalez was available for a package centered on a mediocre first baseman specifically because he had a long and tedious history of injury with Pittsburgh. The same is true, of course, of Rafeal Soriano. If Sori did not have a well established track record of getting hurt, if all he ever did was go through stretches like the one he’s in now, he would never have been available for a washed up fifth starter.

    Mike Gonzalez gets paid $3 mil per year to pitch. Soriano gets paid $6 mil and change. They are on the roster to provide as many high leverage outs as possible near the end of games. It is unreasonable to ask a manager not to use his players in the roles for which they are paid to perform.

  77. 86,
    I don’t understand how that’s a retort. That post and mine aren’t
    conflicting concepts. I’m just saying you can’t use relievers on 3 and 4 and 5 consecutive days, regardless of the situation. Not that you should abandon a game.

  78. But, with Francoeur being likely to be at least capable of being a 4th outfielder / righthanded platoon rightfielder, why couldn’t they have platooned in Diaz for 20 games to see if (1) Francoeur would produce at a decent enough level to justify holding him and (2) Diaz actually didn’t cover more ground (which I argue he can and does). You wouldn’t have been appreciably WORSE, but you could have been appreciably BETTER. It COULD (arbuably maybe wouldn’t have been) a significant plus from offensive increase with Diaz and by lettin pressure off Francoeur by hitting mainly against lefties and being able to watch his stats rise (part of his problem, I believe, is that he thinks he should or ought to be the hero and tries to do to much).

    Also somebody got on career numbers for Diaz against righthanders. He has around 10 to 20% (haven’t checked) of his career ML at bats (all of them before the Braves) that were generated with no deptch perception before the Braves got him on contacts. That is a change of condition that totally negates those stats. It is just those old stats that caused 2 organizations to dump him. I believe that the 3 year average is the best stat, adjusted for age (that is, once he is over 30, you should assume the 3 year average, less a little bit). Diaz 3 year average includes the bad patch he had early last season before he was hurt. By three year average he is around a 780 OPS hitter against righthanders and that is vastly better than 2009 Francoeur (and 2009 Francoeur was the only Francoeur we had to choose from and his 3 year average said he couldn’t hit aginst righhanders as well as Diaz, just a little better than this atrocious year).

  79. By the way, I don’t know if it was mentioned on yesterday’s thread, and I’m too lazy to look, but on SNY last night during the game they took a viewer poll and 70 percent of Mets fans approved of the trade. At least I assume it was all Mets fans. Nothing like a trade both sides love…

  80. 88,

    Nick,

    Is the franchise owner of a McDonald’s not supposed to tell his manager to make sure he has someobyd clean the bathroom every few hours? And to expect the manager to document it?

    Why can’t a GM tell a manager how to use a reliever? I am not saying each day or even any days in the season. I am saying pull in Bobby, McDowell, Eddie Perez and maybe Cadahia in January. Go through the available arms. Set expectations (based on the kind of statistics they can generate which will undoubtedly show that over 70 or so appearances a year the breakdowns go up) and say that this is an organizational concern you are expected to meet.

    I guarantee you that Theo and Francona are on the same page on bullpen usage. They have stats that show them facts and they manage accordingly. Same with the A’s. Also, I doubt Girardi is off the page with Cashman, either. Look at the “Joba Rules”. If the GM is ultimately responsible for the on field product, he better be controlling the variables that affect that.

  81. @96. I agree. I’m sick of Gonzalez’s whining to be honest about it. Was his arm also tired when he almost blew the game against DC which as Chipper put it “killed the team’s momentum”? Just do your job.

  82. Did anyone notice that when Chipper was interviewed, he referenced that they had a plan to be aggressive at the plate? If this is true and there was in fact a plan (I assume that would’ve come from TP), then someone should be fired. Ollie walked 7 in his last outing and we were hacking at first pitches and balls out of the zone all night.

    The first hitter who was patient (Yunel) parked a 2-0 pitch. I really think TP should go.

    That said, it’s amazing how much more confident this lineup makes me. There is something to be said for not giving up 4 outs each time through the lineup (Schafer, Johnson, Frenchy, Pitcher).

    And Kotchman is perfect for the 8-hole BTW.

  83. tony,

    i think you misread the article about mike. he’s not whining. he’s saying he should have asked for a day off, but his own self pride wouldnt allow him to do so. he’s not whining about being overused. rather, he’s apologizing for not being able to admit he needed a day off.

  84. @104 Schafer, Johnson, Frenchy, and Pitcher all in the lineup at the same time was atrocious. Plus Garrett hadn’t started hittinh yet. Man that was bad.

  85. @102,

    Cliff, I doubt that a MacDonald’s franchise owner is telling his manager to make sure the bathroom is clean. If he has to do that, he would probably fire the manager and put someone better in charge. Same with baseball. If the front office is not satisfied with how the manager is running the team, fire the manager and get a new one. Micromanaging the game makes no sense though.

  86. I have Carlos Quentin on my fantasy team, so I’ve been following reports on his return (hopefully tonight). This nugget from the Chicago Tribune:

    “Given that he has a foot injury and that Jermaine Dye has stabilized the third spot he once occupied, Quentin could hit somewhere lower in the order TO PREVENT CLOGGING THE BASEPATHS.” (emphasis mine)

    Number 4,5,6 hitters behind Dye in the White Sox last game: Thome,Konerko,Pierzynski in that order. Talk about not clogging up the basepaths. Do these people do any research before they write these things? All they had to do was look at one box score to see the asteroid-sized hole in that idea. Even with the foot injury, I would argue that Quentin is as fast as or faster than those three guerillas.

    Too bad FJM isn’t around anymore.

  87. Before I say this I do understand that Soriano, Gonzalez and Moyer are coming off arm injury.

    In a small defense of Cox’s bullpen usage. In 1990 the famed Reds Nasty Boys threw these innings:
    Dibble 98 Charlton 154.1 Myers 86.2 and mop up guy Rick Mahler threw 134.2. Moyer, Gonzalez and Soriano aren’t going to come close to those numbers. Cox’s job is to play the players that will win games. He has pitched the 3 in some curious situations but I am guessing that the lack of an innings horse like Mahler and the fact that our offense sucks so bad influences his decision to ‘overuse’ Moyer, Gonzalez and Soriano to insure the win.

  88. Well, for one thing, Charlton started 16 games that year. (So did Mahler.) For another, it’s not the innings we’re worried about, it’s the appearances. Myers appeared in 66 games that year. Dibble appeared in 68. Moylan’s on pace to beat that in early August.

  89. Ok I see. An appearance includes the warm up pitches. And further to your point a pitcher may throw 40 pitches but still not get an inning completed.

    But still, while I don’t totally agree with how Bobby is using the bullpen, I am also not vehemently against it either.

  90. Does anyone have access to the NL stats for total bullpen innings pitched per team? Given that we have 4 of the top ten relievers in appearances, this stat could be pretty enlightening. I checked but couldn’t find it.

  91. Julio Lugo just got DFAed by the Red Sox. As a league salary minimum guy for us, wouldn’t he make some sense over Hernandez as a back-up SS to Yunel?

  92. Tyler Walker just got DFA’d by the Phillies. The Braves should pick him up. Decent, fresh arm, and a definite improvement over Bennett.

  93. I found what I was looking for. The Braves are 7th of 16 NL teams in total number of bullpen innings (the Dodgers have the most innings) and 13th in ERA. Conisidering we have 4 pitchers that have been used more than any others, this is not good. There’s no way to know, but I believe if we would have used our bullpen more wisely and spread out the work, our bullpen’s ERA would be lower, not higher.

  94. If Bobby trotted Valdez out there last night, people would have cussed him. I had no problem with what he did. It worked and we won the game.

  95. “Does anyone have access to the NL stats for total bullpen innings pitched per team? Given that we have 4 of the top ten relievers in appearances, this stat could be pretty enlightening. I checked but couldn’t find it.”

    It may, but the other side of the coin is telling too; many reliever innings means less starter innings. I saw a chart of the most “pitcher abuse points”, to date, both leagues. Vasquez was our “highest”, at 29th, and he averages just over 103 pitches a game. Bobby may over-use relievers, but he does keep the starters away from too much work in a single game, which is a very good thing, and our relatively injury free starters this year may be a by-product of that.

    In the end, I think the only thing you could say, if you believe in not over-working your starters, is that Kris Medlin maybe should have had 10-12 more high leverage appearances, with those spots evenly taken from Moylan, Gonzo and Soriano (so that when you are going to rest Soriano, you go Medlin in the 7th; Gonzo in the 8th or 9th; and Moylan in the other inning).

  96. Leaving aside that the Phillies would certainly try to trade him outside the division, if he’s not good enough for the Phillies (team ERA 4.74) how is he good enough for the Braves (3.87)?

  97. From John Heyman at SI.com

    “• The Yankees tried to trade for Jeff Francoeur this winter, perhaps with the intention of flipping him elsewhere (Kansas City?), but were told no by the Braves because of Francoeur’s popularity in his hometown of Atlanta. But Francoeur’s continuing offensive struggles gave the Braves little choice.”

    What the hell? Really? Why isn’t DOB writing more about this stuff. Did he not go to journalism school?

  98. “What the hell? Really? Why isn’t DOB writing more about this stuff. Did he not go to journalism school?”

    Because until a switch was magically flipped about 4 weeks ago, no writer for the AJC could say anything bad or negative about Frenchie. We were getting glowing articles 4 weeks into the season about his new approach, when his stats were showing that even if the new approach was working, it was nothing special. (I especially remember one article that said that he was being more selective, even though his pitches per plate appearance had gone down from his previous year’s [pathetic] number).At some point the chorus of negative stuff everywhere but the AJC got so loud and so noticable that they had to start writing the truth.

  99. @62

    Hasnt happened yet, apparently its wrapped around my cerebellum, and I have to wait on a specialist in Tampa, so its set for August 6th, I’ll be blogging from there, so I’ll let everyone know what the outcome is. I appreciate the concern. I’ve been told I might encounter some memory loss, I’m hopeful it will be the memory of the 2007-present Braves….

  100. @122 – much as I like DOB, the only thing he and the rest of the press corps have to sell is access (those horrifying emails to Sanford’s office promising easy treatment in exchange for an interview leap to mind). Like virtually every other “journalist” these days, what is presented is a function of who’s paying the rent.

    Mac – the above was illustrative of my point, not a partisan statement.

  101. I think the “official signal” that it was o.k. to bash Francoeur was sent by Peanut in an article about 6 weeks ago.

  102. This comes frm Mark Bowman’s blog, which usually trumpets and favors everything “Braves”:

    “An American League scout said that he’s often hesitant to take a mid-season chance on Braves relievers because of Bobby Cox’s tendency to send them to the mound with great regularity. But he also added that there are a number of teams that will try to put Soriano at the back end of their bullpen.”

    This is provided out of concern for those of you who still believe Cox is not too bad in overworking relievers.

    Like I have indicated before, if I were an agent, and my player got dealt to the Braves, I would make sure he knew to tell McDowell he couldn’t go on more than 2 days in a row. MY livelihood would depend on it.

  103. Moylan leads the league in appearances with 50. O’Flaherty is third with 47. Gonzalez is tied for sixth with 45. Soriano is tied for 14th with 42.

  104. To some degree, access is what journalism is — digging to find or reveal information that either hadn’t been known or hadn’t been presented in proper context. Without journalism, readers wouldn’t have access to that information.

    Many working journalists never went to journalism school. The most important things (IMHO) are being able to write and being able to judge the priority and importance of what’s going on, then shed light on it accordingly. Many good journalists went to school for it; many didn’t.

    DOB has missed a lot of the Francoeur story, unfortunately. But that’s his fault, not his profession’s.

  105. Thats a lot of work for a few guys.
    I didn’t look but assume the disparity between those guys and the rest is wide.

  106. Only two other closers (Street and Gregg) have worked as much as or more than Soriano, and nobody with more than a couple of saves is close to Gonzalez. However, Rodriguez has worked only one fewer game (and one fewer inning — before last night, they were tied in both) than Soriano, so the latter isn’t too far out of the ordinary for a relief ace. The other three, though…

  107. “I think the “official signal” that it was o.k. to bash Francoeur was sent by Peanut in an article about 6 weeks ago.”

    Very good call; that was it. Until then, it was all frenchie; all good; all the time. The narrative of the entire sports staff was that there was a new frenchie out there, who was going to succeed, and damn the facts if they didn’t fit the chosen narrative.

  108. Yeah, but it was like Pravda, fercryinoutloud.

    I know it’s only sports, but the truth remains the truth in all endeavours.

    Btw, once again – insert Diaz, get positive contributions – rbi triple, sacrifice bunt. I fully believe that playing Diaz over Francouer would have yielded at least four additional wins.

    Whaddaymean, “Prove it?”

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