Braves 10, Brewers 2

Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Box Score – July 26, 2009 – ESPN

After the exorcism, one thing that the Braves seem newly able to do is pile on some runs. Not that Hibernation Mode is necessarily entirely a thing of the past, but they’re getting some late runs against the opposing bullpens more regularly, and getting some comfortable wins.

It did not look comfortable in the first five innings. The Braves got a run in the first when McCann doubled home McLouth with two out (after an obvious balk with runners first and third went uncalled, allowing the pitcher to pick off Yunel) but they blew several other chances to get runs in, including twice stranding runners who got to third with one out. But in the sixth, they broke through with four runs, three of them coming on a long homer by Kotchman. (He doesn’t hit many, but when they go out, they go way out.)

They needed the runs. Lowe, who had sailed through the first five, lost it, and was very lucky to give up only two runs in the sixth. McLouth made a couple of run-saving catches that weren’t really great plays, but were certainly on balls that were hit hard. He wound up striking out three and walking none, with four of the nine hits he allowed in the sixth.

McCann hit a solo homer in the seventh to make it 6-2, and they got two runs out of a bases-loaded situation in the eighth even though Bobby — with Chipper on the bench taking a routine off day — sent up the utterly useless Norton to pinch-hit with runners second and third none out, and Norton predictably struck out. McLouth was walked to load the bases, and Prado — who is scuffling a little bit — hit a line drive that the centerfielder dropped, scored a sac fly and an error to keep the bases loaded. Escobar walked to make it 8-2, but they finally got McCann (who had two doubles and a homer, plus a walk, on the day) on a double play to end the inning. Kelly Johnson, getting the start at second, capped the scoring with a two-run homer in the seventh. Like McCann, KJ had two doubles, a homer, and a walk on the day.

Gonzales worked the seventh with no problems, and Moylan needed only nine pitches, even with a strikeout, to get the heart of the order in the eighth. Medlen finished up in the ninth, allowing one hit. On to Florida. Big series.

261 thoughts on “Braves 10, Brewers 2”

  1. Each additional Norton strikeout will only mean we are inching closer toward his exit. I can only think of it this way to keep my own sanity!

    Great win today! Glad to see KJ did well on his return. Chipper can’t be expected to play everyday.

  2. I think all three homers today counts as being barreled up on.

    Good showing by Kelly today, he could end up quite a nice asset down the stretch if he has gotten his swing back. I’m not certain any teams really wants to give up quality for him so I’m not sure he’ll be traded even if a few games like this could jack up his value quite a bit.

  3. I was going to be in MA for all of August workshopping a show, but the theater pulled out at the last minute. Though it sucks to be essentially out of a job for the month, watching the Braves play some good baseball has made it easier to bear.

  4. do whats the record now after the Frenchy deal. Seems like everyone has more confidence now the black hole is gone, even Frenchy

  5. The Fish have seemingly always had our proverbial number. Just like Craig Counsell.

    It’d be nice for a series win. But, as Mac suggested, this might be the best opportunity thus far to really see if this is a different Braves team.

  6. @5: 10-4 since the trade and no lost series. If this team keeps winning series, it ultimately won’t matter what anyone else does.

  7. While the second was just a nice running catch, McLouth’s grab on the one to straight-away center where he turned around at the last second and caught it jumping into the wall was pretty damn good. He had a darn good day today, IMO.

    Nice win today, although it was getting frustrating to see all those runners get stranded in the middle innings. Tomorrow’s game’ll be tough with Nolasco throwing lights-out. That said, another series win would sure bring this team some confidence. They’ve been the best offense in baseball over the past month, even better than the Phillies, who’ve been crushing everything. While I’m not optimistic about catching the Phils (they’re just so far ahead at this point), the WC is very attainable. If Hudson can come back strong, we’ll be even better off, as either he can go to the ‘pen or push KK or Hanson into that role. Either way that’s a nice boost.

    As for KJ, if he continues to hit, I think the ABs will almost certainly have to come from Kotchman, who has been pretty bad, today’s HR aside. OTOH, Prado seems to be slowing down a bit, so maybe KJ’s resurgence will be timed perfectly and we’ll continue to get great production out of 2B.

  8. Hey, another series win and another load of runs. Sweet.

    Rob,
    Braves come to Flushing in August. We’ll make at least one night of it.

  9. McLouth scuffled on the homestand, but he was superb in all facets of the game in Milwaukee. He’s a pretty darn good ballplayer.

    Our first half struggles, and the Phillies recent 16-3 stretch, may conspire to keep us from the playoffs. With that said, this is a better ballclub with:

    Church/Diaz in RF
    Prado at 2B
    Anderson contributing in LF
    McLouth in CF

    Infante is going to replace Diory in a couple of weeks, and I suspect we’ll find something to replace Norton here soon. A minor trade this week to strengthen the bench wouldn’t surprise me.

    This team, in summary, is just a lot more fun to watch when you don;t have black holes in the lineup. And series wins with SF and Milwaukee are pretty good.

  10. Kotchman has been struggling lately, but he’s posted an ~810 OPS over the last month which is definitely acceptable.

  11. Kotchman was really bad coming out of spring training, but then started to heat up. Right as he was getting a decent stroke going he got hit and went on the DL with it. He sucked coming off of that DL stint but seems to be finding a nice stroke again. I don’t really trust it, personally, but as PW points out @10, he is posting an OBP heavy 800+ this month. You’d have to give up too much to noticably improve the position, so I’d be happy with a lineup with Good Kelly Johnson at 2B and Prado/Kotchman splitting time at 1B, with Prado getting extra ABs to rest Chipper as well.

  12. Our first half struggles, and the Phillies recent 16-3 stretch, may conspire to keep us from the playoffs.

    I don’t think we’ll catch the Phils but the Wild Card is in range. Just keeping winning series and it’s ours. There are basically two good teams in the entire NL.

  13. I’d love to add a reliever, but I’m not sure there’s an arm on the market that’s worth two cost controlled years of Kelly Johnson. I’m just saying.

  14. Good move, switching Vazquez and Kawakami for Wednesday’s game. It puts Vazquez up against Josh Johnson and gives Kawakami an extra day of rest.

    Phillies have a west coast swing coming up so hopefully it’ll disrupt their momentum.

  15. Not worried about the Phillies until the playoffs. Gotta focus on the wildcard right now.

    I know that “losses” are the key stat, but I’ve started looking at “wins”. In the “wins” column, we look pretty strong. And, inasmuch as it is harder to win than to lose, the teams with positive momentum have a better chance to add to that particular column.

    Bayesian? Yeah, but so is life …

  16. 20,
    Where do you see they switched them? I had seen that earlier but on both mlb.com and that 4-letter word they have Kawakami pitching Wednesday.

  17. @19, despite what this board thinks, K. Johnson is just a guy. Trade him if you think it will help you win.

  18. When is the mets series? Id love to go to a game, but football makes it difficult. However, if they are in the playoff hunt, it might be worth the lack of sleep for one night!

  19. I would agree they will look to pick up a reliever, but that market will be cluttered as many contenders will look to do the same. I also think they’ll look at a guy like Ty Wggington, who bats R, has some pop and can play basically the same positions as Norton. Also, the staff may get some decent innings out of Hudson and Carlyle before the end of the year.

  20. 31,
    That’s not what I meant. I meant the O’s aren’t going to acquire a 2B when they just locked up Roberts long-term.

  21. @19 Sam, I wouldn’t really call KJ’s last two arbitration years as “cost controlled” even though I understand what you mean, but he is getting expensive to keep if we don’t know what to expect from him. I would rather trade him for an reliever we can keep for couple years than to risk paying him $4M next season.

  22. Thanks, Thats what I thought, Double Sessions start the 17th, but, its totally worth it to get to one of those games….Last year I went to Hershey Park for a Springsteen Concert, got back to Holmdel at 430 AM, had practice at 7 am, that was fun!

  23. A .265/.348/.428 hitter with average (or better) defense at 2B is worth $4M. That’s KJ’s career line including his first-half slump.

  24. PWHjort, the question is not whether he is worth it or not. If Prado will be our starting 2B next year, there is no reason to keep a $4M player on the bench. That’s all I am saying.

  25. @40

    Kelly Johnson can play LF. Garret Anderson is on a one-year contract. If Prado maintains his performance – and I’m not completely sold that he will, but I’m willing to give him the shot – then Johnson becomes Anderson’s replacement in LF. He’s not as valuable as an outfielder but it wouldn’t hurt to have the money you’re paying Anderson to reinvest in Soriano, no?

    EDIT: And of course, there’s always the need to protect Chipper’s 30 games missed.

  26. Debatable. You can find ways to get him into the line-up. Whether Prado’s spelling Kotchman at 1st or Chipper at 3rd or KJ’s playing a corner OF, having him on the bench isn’t exactly having him on the bench if you allocate your resources correctly. If we’re sold on Prado being our long-term 2B, we might as well pencil in KJ for LF next year or use him in the pseudo-rover-type role I described. Or trade him for something useful now.

  27. 41,
    Jinx!

    By the way, don’t know if this has been posted, but: Tim Hudson’s line from Thursday’s rehab start: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. All 5 hits were ground-ball singles. Considering how good Carolina League defenses are, I have a feeling he pitched a heck of a lot better than his line indicates.

  28. Speaking of this Hall of Fame induction day……….Did you know that Jim Rice was almost a Brave?

    It’s true.

    Back when Brad Komminsk was considered a phenom and couldn’t miss, the Red Sox were willing to Trade Jim Rice straight up for Brad Komminsk back in 1983. Our Braves front office flat turned the Red Sox offer down and the rest as they say, is history.

  29. I wonder how many other great deals offered for Francouer we’ll here about over the years

  30. FlaBravesFan, I know the Yankees were after Francoeur just this past off season but I have no idea what they were offering in return.

  31. I get the fact that statistically Nate McLouth isn’t as good a CF as most people think. But I think we’re being a little overly cynical if we’re not calling his play on Fielder a great play. Whether or not Andruw Jones in his prime or whoever would’ve been camped under it instead of having to jump up and crash into the wall is kind of irrelevant to me. McLouth had to make a leaping catch while turning his body and falling into the wall, and it saved the lead and perhaps the game (who knows what happens if they tie us or if we fall behind). That IMO is a great catch. I agree that the one on Kendall was good, but was one Major League CFs need to make.

    I know I’m far more in favor of dumping prospects for the present than most people on here, but does anyone else on here think the Phillies are being a little ridiculous in not biting on the Halladay deal? I mean, they kind of have all their important players at the peak of their careers, don’t they? Bring in Halladay and you have two legitimate shots at the World Series with these guys. Who knows what happens down the road, but you can’t expect the prospects coming in to be as good as the ones you currently have if you’re them, can you? You can’t assume you have an unlimited window here. To draw a parallel, it seems kind of like if we refused to trade for McGriff in 1993 because we had to give up the three prospects, and what does that do to you team three years down the road? If you have all of your players at the peaks of their careers like we did then and the Phillies do now, and you have the chance to get arguably the best player in the game at the position of your biggest weakness, you have to go for it, don’t you?

  32. I think that the Phillies are gunshy because until fairly recently their system has been thin. The current homegrown group is a bit abnormal for that organization, which had about a twenty-year stretch (between the Schmidt team and the current one) where the only star they developed was Scott Rolen.

  33. Yes, look at the current Philly roster.

    Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels are not only home grown but outstanding All-Star caliber players.

    The Phillies also know they are going to the playoffs with the current roster. Roy Halliday would go a long way toward helping them win another World Series or two but at what cost?

    Can’t just go selling the farm. After all, we did that with Mark Teixeira and it didn’t work out very well.

    In other words, the Phillies would have to win the WS again this year or next season in order to justify trading the farm for Roy Halliday. It’s a gamble at best. Keeping the farm is a sure bet.

  34. 48 – I kind of think the Phils are just not jumping on the first offer.

    A position minor leaguer, like Jason Donald, in place of Happ or Drabek might get it done for both sides.

    By the way, I saw Michael Taylor playing last night. He is impressive at AAA. He’s another guy I would try to avoid dealing if I were the Phils.

  35. First of all, us trading for Tex was different. We did not have everyone at their career peak. Every important player on our team was either on the downside of their careers or at the very beginning of their careers (with the probable exception of Tim Hudson, and obviously Tex after we got him). This really is an important point. Winning the World Series with this team that the Phillies have now and with Halladay added is far more of a sure thing than winning one with the farm five years down the road is, and I don’t even know how that’s debatable. If they don’t go for it now, don’t win another World Series, and then the farm comes up and is a downgrade from their current team, which is very likely frankly, what does that justify? If they hadn’t already won a World Series, this argument would go double, but since they did, in the end they have one regardless, but I would definitely have given up the ’97 and ’98 division titles to win the 1996 World Series, for instance. Winning the World Series is worth the five years of mediocre play that follow if that’s what it takes, in my opinion.

  36. Yep, Michael Taylor is an absolute monster talent waiting to happen. If he were in any other organization the dude would already be in the big leagues. As it is, the Phillies outfield is stacked.

    But, the Blue Jays want top tier talent for Roy Halliday. I just don’t know if the Phillies are willing to go there.

    Another thing to consider is M-O-N-E-Y. Roy Halliday is gonna be expensive to the tune of about 23 million left on his current contract. Not to mention all the cash and time the Phillies have invested in their minor league prospects.

    The Phillies current payroll is 128 million. They have 96 million already committed for 2010 and ten players who are arbitration eligible.

  37. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure Jeff Francoeur was at the peak of his career the year we traded for Tex as well, but not exactly in the way I had in mind.

  38. Yep, Roy Halliday is arguably the best pitcher in the game. This week is gonna be interesting, that’s for darn sure!

  39. One more thing before I go hit the hay. About the Cooperstown election of Henderson, Rice and Joe Gordon.

    Here is a link to to a very fascinating study done by this group of University professors who seem to have answered the question of who gets into Cooperstown and why.

    They also give Chipper Jones a shoe in vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124864577360682129.html

    And if this link doesn’t work you can go to mlbtraderumors.com and find the same link.

  40. See, my thing is that I don’t think their window is much larger than two years. Guys like Howard, Rollins, and Utley are older than most would think, and Hamels has had some health issues in the past. Now, Drabek could turn out to be really good, and Happ could turn out to be, I don’t know, league average, but I don’t know if that’s the nucleus you want to build around going forward.

    Right now, the Phillies are a playoff team, but they’re clearly not as good as the Dodgers or AL East squads; they just don’t have the pitching. Halladay would put them on par with those teams.

    I’m not saying they can’t win another WS with the talent they’ve got now. I’m just saying Halladay makes it a helluva lot easier, and unless you’re sold on Drabek as a top-of-the-rotation stud, I’d seriously consider making that deal.

  41. Kelly Johnson can play LF. Garret Anderson is on a one-year contract. If Prado maintains his performance – and I’m not completely sold that he will, but I’m willing to give him the shot – then Johnson becomes Anderson’s replacement in LF. He’s not as valuable as an outfielder but it wouldn’t hurt to have the money you’re paying Anderson to reinvest in Soriano, no?

    Soriano is gone, gone, gone. Prepare yourself now. Johnson doesn’t hit enough to be a corner outfielder, although I guess he hits enough to be a Braves corner outfielder. If trading him will help, go for it. But please don’t trade him for some random bullpen arm like the Dotel trade. Get someone who can mash.

  42. I think there’s a good chance that Utley’s the only one of their core who’s still valuable in 2012. I’ve expressed my views on Howard before. Even with his recent hot streak, Rollins’ OBP for the season is below .300, and his power has faded the last two seasons. Even Utley… he’s not shown signs of cracking, but he plays a tough position that often leads to injuries, and he’s on track to lead the league in HBP for the third year running. That stuff takes its toll.

  43. Guys, just because Kelly Johnson had one good game doesn’t mean he is back to normal. I have been a big fan of KJ for years but I have enough of him. I say trade him when he still has any value. Putting him in leftfield is an OPTION, but is it really an option we want to see?

    As of now, we still don’t know what to expect from the kid. His career line is deceiving as he has been regressing since 2007. He will need to show A LOT in the next couple months (if not being traded) before I feel comfortable to pay him $4M next season. Remember how well he played at the end of last season and everyone including me thought he had finally turn the corner? Don’t let one good game from KJ fools you all.

    Btw, KJ is one horrible leftfielder in case you have forgotten.

  44. Kc,

    I think that KJ’s UZR/150 the last year he played the outfield (2005) was something like 17.9. Correct me, but I think that means that he is a pretty good Left Fielder.

  45. 60,
    I agree. Werth will be gone. They’ll give Victorino some ridiculous contract. Howard’s is already a joke. As is Rollins’. Utley is in his baseball prime. Cole Hamels’ contract might be valuable in 2012.

    ADDED: They’re basically looking at every major contract coming off the books after 2011 except Utley. If they try to re-sign everyone, that’d be a big mistake, considering every one of their core players will be past his prime at that point. Pretty soon they’d be the 2008 Yankees if they did that.

  46. i remember Kelly being really bad in the OF, the numbers say one thing, but he was no natural in LF.

  47. Kelly last played the outfield before he had the arm surgery. There’s a reason he was converted to an second baseman afterward — he can’t throw. Kelly playing LF next year would be the worst case scenario, possibly worse than re-signing Anderson if Kelly continues to hit like Francouer (it’ll take more than one great game to convince me he’s figured things out). There might be an argument for holding onto Kelly to pinch hit and sub at 2B when Prado moves to 3rd during Chipper’s inevitable DL stints but not at ~$4 million. Assuming Prado doesn’t slump badly the rest of the year, the Braves are better off trading Kelly either now or in the offseason for a part they need more like a true LF or a reliever.

  48. If pitchers can throw after Tommy John surgery, so can position players. If anything, KJ’s arm will be stronger than it was. Given the Braves budget constraint and the desire to win now, I see the Braves holding onto him. The ability to play many positions, along with the potential for being a decent bat, he’s a perfect post-season bench player.

  49. Johnson is getting way too much grief here. He’s had a bad year, certainly, but to compare his bad first half with 2500 at bats of Francoeur badness is just wrong. Kelly Johnson is still a valuable commodity for a ML baseball team to hold onto. He has a good eye, gets on base and slugs a little. He’s very streaky but that’s no reason to get rid of him. @4 mil in arbitration he’s not a bad risk at all. 4 mil just isn’t that big of a contract comparitively speaking.

    And I’d put money against him out hitting Prado down the stretch.

  50. KJ’s career line says above average offensive player for an infielder and decent player as on outfielder. Martin Prado has been terrific but I see him returning to his utility role next year if not sometime this season. I wouldn’t trade KJ for just another middle relief arm.

    #47 For some reason I laughed out loud.

  51. #53 – but most would say that doing the Marlins and blowing up your team every 3 to 5 years isn’t a good business model. Trying to sustain excellence is. Also young, cheap players with potential is the most valued resource to an organization now. If I am the Phillies I would hesitate to go all in on Halliday despite the fact that he is the best pitcher in baseball.

  52. KJ testing out as a good fielder in LF is one of the most confounding fielding stats I can remember. I’ve never seen anyone play so close to the warning track, and he looked anything but confident chasing after balls. Either I was missing something, or the numbers are skewed somehow.

    It’s possible he was just getting to more balls in comparison to a weak set of peers — Dunn, Klesko, Miguel Cabrera, Bay, Alou et al.

    Also, here’s a chart of Braves ’05 starting pitchers, arranged by GB/FB ratios, and how often KJ started in LF behind them:

    Hudson 1.39 (9/29)
    Hampton 1.02 (3/12)
    Ramirez 0.94 (15/32)
    Smoltz 0.93 (15/33)
    Thomson 0.85 (4/17)
    Colon 0.76 (4/4)
    Sosa 0.54 (14/20)
    Davies 0.53 (11/14)

    Hudson is an extreme groundball pitcher, and KJ started in only 1/3 of his starts. Sosa and Davies were extreme FB pitchers, and KJ was behind them almost 3/4 of the time. I don’t know enough about UZR, and whether it corrects for the type of pitcher on the mound at any given time, but I found this interesting.

  53. It is easy to explain KJ’s numbers in left field. He is fast. Not “Tim Raines fast”, but faster than most of what we have on this team and faster than most leftfielders (there are only a few athletic speed burning leftfielders like Carl Crawford).

    If KJ can OPS 800 (likely) and play defense like his inherent speed and tested numbers say, then he is probably net even with “Good ACHE” overall, and I wouldn’t sign ACHE for next year and expect a full year of “Good ACHE”.

    With Prado, a lot of his test will be in division down the stretch. The advance scouts, coaching staffs, and veteran players will be analyzing him for ways to pitch him. If they don’t slow him down the rest of this year (I mean below say 300/380/450 not the unbelievble numbers from earlier this month) then he is for real.

  54. Comparing KJ to GA for next year….KJ would easily surpass GA’s defense in LF, and while their home run power is pretty similar KJ should have more extra base hits and get on base more. That being said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by GA the past few couple of months. I wouldn’t be that upset if the Braves brought both KJ and GA back next year if it doesn’t cost the Braves a chance to get better players in free agency. At worst, GA would be a decent guy to spell outfielders off the bench and a good PH bat.

  55. He may be fast, but he looked awkward, and at the time I could have sworn I was watching a bad fielder. As I said, the group he was being compared with wasn’t much in ’05, and it wouldn’t be much in ’10 either. But I also think the big number he posted in ’05 isn’t sufficiently contextualized, and has taken undue precedence over the naturally fading subjective views of the time. Which is why I did the chart — I think KJ’s number benefitted from an unusual number of flyballs hit in his general direction.

  56. I think KJ is one of those players who looks worse than he is defensively. Kind of the anti-Jeter (defense only, in that Jeter looks better than he is). He can handle LF. Or 2B. And if nothing else, his behavior the past few weeks shows that he’s a better teammate than some ex-Braves who shall remain nameless. He’s been supportive of Prado, and his attitude is “I’ll do whatever helps the team win”.

    And I’m with Sam H. I think the odds are good that KJ > Prado the rest of the year. And I’m with cliff as well, if Prado finishes the season like he’s played so far, he’s for real. So let’s wait until the offseason to decide what to do with KJ. $4 million or so won’t hamstring the budget.

  57. To be clear, I’m not against sticking KJ in LF. I’m just not convinced that defense is all that valid a reason, despite what the numbers say. But it’s a small matter. In a deep lineup, he’d probably be okay in the short term.

  58. Prado has had plenty of ab’s to show he’s for real. Dude can hit. However, if there was a way he could take his 3B glove to 2B it would be awesome.

  59. Welcome to Boston, Smoltz.

    How’s that workin’ out for ya, buddy?

    Once again, one of my favorite guys has written a check with his mouth that his (in this case) arm can’t cash.

  60. Is Smoltz just getting unlucky or has he gotten that bad? 7 ERA with a 1/7 BB:K ratio in 30IP? Sounds like dude’s been very unlucky. Lefties are killing him

  61. Well, actually Boston gets to write the checks, but for how much longer. The only question for Smoltz is what will happen when Wakefield comes back. Bullpen or DFA/DL? He has said he doesn’t want to be a reliever, and Boston would save a fair amount of money by cutting him (35k PER DAY on the ml roster, and 500k on Oct 4).

  62. At some point, guys being able to hit you isn’t a function of luck. There is a very real possibility he just can’t pitch at this level any more.

  63. Smitty:

    I live in Fort Myers, Fla! What brought you two down this way?

    Also, I wouldn’t be unhappy to see Prado get a day off (which he hasn’t had the luxury of) and KJ at 2B. Just ride Kelly’s hot hand for a day, see if it sticks, and see if Prado can snap is hard 0-fer 10 by taking a breather.

  64. On Rollins, his bad year is mostly attributable to poor BABIP. He’s basically the same player he has been for his career. The power peak we saw in 2006 and 2007 was just that and should not be taken as indicative of future performance. I expect him to age gracefully but more as the average to above-average player he’s been most of his career rather than the Super Slugging MVP-ish player we saw for a couple years there. His OBP will never be high enough to consistently make him on the best players in baseball, and he might hit 20 HRs again once in the next 6 years, but he’s 30 this year and not getting younger.

    I think he’ll still be a good player in 2011 or 2012, but that’s ’cause he’ll still be a useful SS not because he’ll be an elite middle-of-the-order bat. The danger is that some team will almost certainly pay him a ton of money when he hits free agency, although I guess this fluke down year might put a damper on that.

    So at this point is Escobar the second best SS in the NL?

  65. @80: I’m not sure that 1.3 seasons worth of PA, spread over four seasons, really proves anything. There’s a big difference in how opposing teams prepare for a bench guy and the #2 hitter in the order. Let’s see how he does as a regular.

    So far, Prado’s major league numbers are better than his minor league numbers. That’s raw numbers, not adjusted. While it’s possible that he has improved, it’s equally likely that he was previously being used in an ideal fashion by Bobby Cox (heresy, I know!), and will be exposed as a .260-.270 hitter playing every day. That’s may still be a useful middle infielder, but not a star.

  66. Watching Prado hit, I honestly don’t know how to evaluate him. You watch the swings he takes, and he really does seem to have a swing for all fields, a swing for all pitches. He sometimes looks like he’s playing slow-pitch softball up there; picking a spot and hitting the ball there.

    Seems to have a good-eye, doesn’t strike-out much. His slugging percentage is almost entirely doubles, doesn’t have much power except on stuff inside that he can throw some top-hand on. But his ability to hit to all fields might ensure that he continues to see some inside fastballs, as pitchers try to set-him-up for an out-pitch away, or maybe he even spoils some out-pitches inside, that were intended to jam him.

    I just don’t see an obvious hole. But it’s likely that I just don’t see it because it isn’t being exploited by MLB pitchers every day yet.

  67. Anybody knows who write the Braves team report on Yahoo Sports? Whoever wrote this…he is speaking my mind:

    “Manager Bobby Cox can take so long to make what appears to be the obvious move that one wonders if he’s lost his mind. Or is, at least, listening too much to his gut, which can happen.”

  68. I am not sure Escobar is the second best. How much does Hanley lose on defence? And how much does Tulo gain on defence too?

    And as for BABIP, in isolation, it is a garbage stat. Just because someone as a pitcher has a high BABIP doesn’t mean that they are unlucky. What is happening to Smoltz is what happened to Pedro last year and half. Still got his Ks, and BBs, but he was getting no weak contact. He was getting blistered when he made a mistake. Same thing is happening to Smoltz. There has been nothing too unlucky about his ERA to date.

    And same goes for hitters with low BABIPs. If you make shitty contact, you are not going to have a high BABIP. You could swing at the first pitch every time, and end up with a great K/BB ratio, and well, a very shitty babip.

  69. I saw on MLBTR that the Royals are trying to turn Tony Pena Jr into a pitcher. How long before the Mets try that with Jeffy?

  70. @86: I think there’s a good case to be made for Escobar as the second best SS in the NL. Hanley Ramirez is clearly the best. Right now, Escobar is second best. The only question would be, will he be better than Stephen Drew, Jimmy Rollins, and Jose Reyes next year? After all, Yunel’s not as young as he seems; he’s 26 already.

  71. On Smoltz,

    Four letter word’s people last night were saying “location of fastball” and showed several examples. I didn’t buy it.

    I think he doesn’t have the movement on his fastball he used to. he used ot consistently get about 6 to 8 inches of “in on right handers” and about 1 to 2 inches of “rise” (I knowit is “apparent rise” relative to projected trajectory). All of the pitches 4LW showed were straight lines.

    A Guess. He is trying to maintain speed on fastball by not forcing so much break when what he ought to be doing is throw a 90 to 92 with his usual break.

    Also, the lefties problem probably is involved in lower usage of the split because it has caused him pain a lot over the past few years.

  72. @90: My understanding is that Ramirez is now a reasonable defensive player. Not as good as Escobar, but not as bad as he’s been in the past. No way does he give up 100 points of OPS in defense.

  73. Fair enough Leeds. I haven’t seen him at all this year. Though that does not say much. I thought he played pretty decent defence whenever the Braves played the Marlins.

    Quick check on BBref shows that his RF has gone down this year. So has Yunel’s, but he is still well above average. Tulo is way ahead of these two ( last year Yunel’s level ), and a 839 OPS ( Hanley has 956 ). If this was a statistical smackdown, it might be a very close run affair between Tulo and Hanley.

  74. I’m not sure how to access the relevant baseball stat databases, but I was just wondering if anyone could check into this:

    Who was worse: Ryan Langerhans 2007, or Jeff Francoeur 2008 (or 2009 for that matter).

  75. #97, Langerhans was far worse in ’07 than Jeff was in any single year, but fortunately the Braves only put up with him for 20 games before shipping him out to Oakland while they kept running Jeff out there for all of 2008 and the first 3 months of 2009.

  76. Tulo certainly plays better defense, but using BRef’s Neutralized Statistics, Escobar is out-OPSing him by about .060. So I guess I could see an argument for either one.

    I don’t see any way HRam gives up enough on defense for either of these guys to come anywhere near him. He’s an elite-level hitter and among the best players in the game.

  77. Smoltz is giving up a lot of hits on balls in play, but it’s not because he’s “BABIP unlucky.” It’s because his pitches aren’t moving and major league hitters are destroying them.

    And just so everyone is clear, with his last start Smoltz officially cost the Red Sox $7 million. I’ll take Ken Kawakami.

  78. There are few words to describe Ryan Langerhans’ 2007 with Atlanta.

    068/192/091. His OPS (283) was lower than Francoeur’s 2008 OBP (294.)

  79. I am not saying Hanley is not the best SS in the NL. But I think its closer than most people are assuming it to be. The difference in Hanley and Tulo’s OPS is about 120. lets add in for park effects, and make it a 140. This is the meaty part of the OPS curve, so we can make the old assumption that 10 pts is abt 1 run. So thats 14 offensive runs for Hanley. Question is, can Tulo get that back on defence? I am not sure he can’t.

    Obviously, linear weights are probably better for this style of comparison, but I am just back of the envelope-ing.

  80. I can confirm that based on what I’ve seen, Smoltz is getting blasted because he’s throwing garbage, not because he’s unlucky. He is officially done. And it was officially a very good thing that we did not sign him.

    Also, maybe I missed something, and I have to admit that he may be pitching himself out of our price range, but is there any specific reason that everyone is convinced that Soriano is gone, and specifically to the Cubs? Seems a little premature, especially considering the money we have available next offseason will probably be used on the bullpen. I think we have an OK chance of re-signing him if his demands are semi-reasonable.

  81. Smoltz hasn’t located a fastball all year. Nobody can touch his slider/splitter and he’s still getting pounded. What’s the best pitch in baseball?

  82. I was one of many Braves fans who was upset when we didn’t resign Smoltz. Despite all sorts of backlash and potential deals falling through, Wren has done a hell of a job.

  83. Tulo started out awful but has been hot. Drew isn’t a bust, but he isn’t in the conversation right now. I’d rather have Escobar than Rollins at the moment; factoring in offense, defense, and contract, and neutralizing for reputation, I’d say that they’re at best comparable assets, and that I frankly prefer Escobar.

    Reyes is probably a better player, but his checkered injury history is already taking a severe toll, and all these leg problems are going to take away both his steals and his mobility soon, and he doesn’t have enough power to fall back on. Again, I prefer Esco.

    Like Mraver says, Hanley’s clearly the best SS in the world. In the NL, the battle for #2 is between Tulo and Esco. Tulo plays better defense, but he had an appalling year and a half from the beginning of 2008 to midway through 2009. Now that he’s starting to hit like he did as a rookie, we’ll get to see just how good an offensive player he can be.

  84. I’m with you Nick, I thin the Braves are going to re-sign Soriano and let Gonzo go.

  85. @104

    The problem being that if he can’t spot his fastball, no one has to worry about the breaking balls. Just sit and wait him out, spit on anything that doesn’t spin fat in the zone and crush it when he makes that mistake.

    @106

    At least they had the good sense to trade him after a month of that “production.”

  86. Re Smoltz (and I know I’m far too much of a defender of him, though even before the season started I conceded that it was a good baseball decision to not sign him).

    That last start was ugly, but most of his other starts have been “one bad inning” ones, with a fair number of strikeouts. He went 5 innings against Texas and gave up only one run… then he came back out for 2/3 and gave up 5. Against KC he went 5 innings gave up 1 run. Against the A’s he went 6 innings and gave up 5 runs, but 4 of those were in one inning.

    He’s got 9 fewer Ks in 25 fewer innings than Tommy Hanson, so he’s obviously still able to pitch (or more accurately stated he’s still able to miss SOME bats). Now I don’t know that Boston needs a guy who can only go 5 innings, and I don’t know if he’d be willing to move to the bullpen… but I don’t think he’s entirely “done”… hell I’d wager the Mets would be as happy or happier with his results (and cost) than they have been with Ollie P or Tim Redding… though that’s not a real high mark to aim for.

  87. A question for yall on an off day…only because i’m curious…

    how do you watch (most) braves games? Are you a TV or a radio guy? How many games a year do you catch in person? Or are you a follow on gameday person? I’m really just curious what the bulk of this board does to follow the club on a game-by-game basis…

    For me, since moving to Washington, I have seen all 9 Braves games played in washington for the 4 years i’ve lived here, plus i try and get to a few games in Philly each year (opening night only this year for me) plus the series in baltimore. I’ve also try and get back for one series back home in Atlanta…

    as far as watching on a nightly basis, it’s mlb.tv on the laptop for me every night (which makes checking this site even easier) unless it’s a night where the game is on national TV in which case i’m more than happy to eschew the computer for a night and watch in high definition…

    anyhow, i was truly just curious how the folks on this board follow the team on a nightly basis…

    Go Braves!

  88. MLB Audio.

    Since moving to Wisc I’ve tried to see the Braves every year in Milwaukee. Didn’t work this time.

  89. I live in Nashville, and I follow the games on TV—I get all of the necessary channels on DirecTV—unless I’m stuck at the office, in which case I just follow on Gameday.

  90. Live 5+ hours away so I usually try to make one home series a year and listen to the rest on AM radio.

  91. I live right across town from the stadium, but I travel a lot for work. When I’m home I’ll either watch the telly or go to the stadium. When I’m on the road I usually follow via MLB.TV’s gamecast. I paid for online video in 2007-8 but didn’t like the quality of the feed.

  92. Andrew,
    I have a similar story. I live in NYC, so I have to follow with mlb.tv. (I had Extra Innings previously, but that doesn’t help me when I travel.)

    If I’m at work, I listen to the WGST radio version with Gameday running, just to catch up if I’ve missed something. The replays are most helpful.

    I attend 15-20 MLB games a year. Most are Yankee games, but I do see (at minimum) 3 Braves games a year, usually many more. Generally, I’ll catch at least one Braves/Mets game per series in Flushing, plus one or two in Philly.

    Occasionally, I’ll find myself in a city where the Braves are playing (not an accident, really). Over the years, I’ve seen the Braves in LA, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Philly, Boston, Baltimore, Houston, Chicago & New York.

    This year, I think I’ll be at one regular-season game at The Ted. Looking at August 27 vs. SD.

  93. I live in Ohio and have done MLB.TV since the Braves left TBS. This has definitely been the best year for MLB.TV (last year the technology throughout the first month of the season was pretty bad).

    As far as going to games, last year I went to six games (between Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Milwaukee). It’s easiest for me to go to games at Pittsburgh (plus its a great ballpark), but because of the unbalanced schedule and being a law student, I can only do what I can. Since the Braves played the Bucs in April, I didn’t make it this year.

  94. ububba,

    Firing Bernazaard?

    Trading Santana?

    Cleaning up the neighborhood around the stadium?

    DFA’ing Jeffy?

  95. ububba-

    just wondering, since you go to a good chunk of games, do you ever avoid going to a mets/yankees game if the braves are playing at the same time?

    i actually have nationals season tickets (i can’t stand them or their fans, but i love going to baseball games, and nats baseball is better than no baseball) but i find myself not going very often when the braves are playing at the same time elsewhere, because i’d rather watch atlanta play. if the nats have a home game (or orioles on a nice night and i feel like making the trip) and the braves are off, have a day game, or are on the west coast (i.e. not playing at the same time) i’m almost always at the nats game. but its hard for me to go see a (for instance, this weekend) nats-padres series when i can enjoy three braves games while the team is playing so well (so i ended up giving all my tickets away for this weekend…)

    in the end, i usually end up making it to about 40 nats games a year that don’t involve the braves, 9 that do, plus 6-10 other braves games (atl, philly, bal, ny, etc.) each season and give the rest of my nats games away…

  96. @111 –

    As painful as that article is to read as a Braves fan, I thought it was pretty well laid out and informative. I liked the format.

    I’d be interested in seeing more “look back” trade breakdowns.

  97. cliff,
    It’ll be something about Bernazard, I’m guessing. But with that bunch, you never know.

    andrew,
    I’ve had a piece of a Yankee season ticket plan for a long time, so if I have a Yankee game, I just go. However, when dividing out the tickets before the season among groups, I make sure I don’t have any Yankee games when the Braves are in town vs. the Mets.

    The only time I ever gave up tickets to a Yankee game to stay home & watch a Braves game was the last day of the 1993 season. That worked out pretty well.

  98. Stu @ 121

    For some reason MLB kept feeding me video from the mid-90 Brewers.

  99. HAHA. I hate to harp on the Stem, but this is too funny:

  100. Thank you PWHjort, I’ll be texting that one to my Mets loving brother-in-law later (already e-mailed a link to my Mets loving friend).

  101. I’m in Pensacola, Florida, and I catch the Braves on radio, though the station in Crestview doesn’t broadcast games on Sunday. A real plus is that, every now and then, they’ll run a station ID featuring Pete Van Wieren. Don Sutton does another one, and he grew up in nearby Molino.

  102. My roommate in New York is a big Giants fan, so we split the Extra Innings package, which works out to about $90 per person. Still a bit steep, but we watch a ton of games. The Braves are usually on at 7:00 or 7:30 and because of the time change, the Giants games start around 10:00 or 10:30. It has worked out nicely.

  103. In DC and have Nats season tix, so I go to most of the “away” games at Nats Stadium and catch the “home” games on WGN (Nats affiliate). Otherwise its Gameday and the occasional game on national TV. I used to make it down to Atlanta about every year for a long weekend and 2-3 games, but my little kiddos have put an end to that for now.

  104. I live in Atlanta and have cable, so I watch the vast majority of games on TV, listening to it on radio if I’m out and about for whatever reason. While Chip Caray is definitely annoying, I don’t really have a problem with Boog Sciambi. In any case, it has been a long time since I was so disgusted with a Braves TV broadcast that I just decided to listen on radio. (I think the last time I did involved Bob Rathbun and Tom Paciorek.)

    If I’m out-of-town (which doesn’t happen that often), I’ll go with Gameday and I’ve even been known to watch Baseball Tonight while a Braves game is on to get updates, although that’s pretty annoying.

    As far as attending games, I probably don’t got to as many games as I should, being in town and all. I usually get a minimum of five per year. Most years it’s between five and 10. Thus far this year, I’ve been to three, and was also at that rained-out D’Backs game if you wanna count that for four.

  105. Lawdy, Omar just blamed the whole thing on a journalist who broke these stories. He not only implied the journalist wanted TB’s job, but then said he (Omar) hadn’t investigated the stories because the source was biased.

    What a maroon.

  106. It’s an Omar feeding frenzy today.

    Omar’s attempting to discredit the guy who broke the story, while still firing Bernazard. What’s the point?

    As is often said about the team: The Mets can’t get anything right.

  107. I live in Atlanta…and watch the overwhelming majority of games on TV. I have several friends that are Phillies fans, and they whine all the time about how lucky I am to be a Braves fan and am able to watch almost every single game.

    And then I whine to them about Chip Caray.

    Nevertheless, Boog Sciambi is becoming one of the easiest guys to listen to. And if Don Sutton would include the score/inning with any regularity, he’d be solid.

    One person that can be a bit annoying to listen to is Leo Mazzone on 680 The Fan in the mornings. Since the Braves didn’t welcome him back with open arms after the Orioles canned him and his high school buddy up there, he’s turned to morning sportstalk radio. And while some of his stories about baseball and the Braves can be interesting…he beats the hell outta that dead horse…and rarely contributes much else remotely entertaining.

  108. Actually, I am much more interested in who decided it was time for Tony to go and leaked all these stories. That may well be the Wilpons.

  109. When you look at the recent history of the team (post-Doubleday), I’m more inclined to believe the blaming-the-reporter bit was the Wilpons, specifically Jeff, who has notoriously thin skin (a la MSG chief Jim Dolan).

    But who knows at this point? Kinda doesn’t matter because the team looks ridiculous either way.

    People within the organization (employees and players) have been dropping dimes on Bernazard for more than a year now. Apparently, he was intensely disliked in many quarters.

    When the Randolph Fiasco happened last year, there were many fingers pointing at Bernazard—not just for the firing, but for the rinky-dink way it was handled.

    I just think the Wilpons just found another way to make a bad situation worse, which they seem to be good at. Haven’t seen this kind of Met meltdown season since the days when players were spraying bleach & throwing firecrackers at reporters & fans.

  110. I thought Tony was Jeff’s boy – not to get all kremlinologist or anything.

  111. #150
    He was, but the trio of recent reports embarrassed the Mets & they felt they had to act.

    There’s also the element of organizational whipping boy, which is a very New York phenomenon among fans—someone has to publicly pay for the team’s failures. It’s a bit of a lynch mob mentality because it often doesn’t address what’s wrong.

    This has happened with the Mets a few times and the Yankees a lot. Usually, it’s a hitting coach that goes—but it might as well be the batboy.

  112. Wonder how much damage Omar did by going after the media. If he thought they were malicious before, just wait now that he’s accused one of their own of sandbagging.

  113. how do you watch (most) braves games? Are you a TV or a radio guy? How many games a year do you catch in person? Or are you a follow on gameday person? I’m really just curious what the bulk of this board does to follow the club on a game-by-game basis…

    I’ll watch MLB.TV if I’m stuck at work (I’m on Pacific time, 4:30 start times rock), otherwise I DVR Extra Innings. If Chip’s involved I just mute the sound.

    DVRing through a game in an hour is really the way things ought to be. I love baseball and everything but the pace of play make it almost unwatchable.

  114. 114– TV and CBS Gamecenter to keep up with stats at home, radio in the car, Gamecenter if on vacation and TV isn’t carrying the station

  115. You know, we might be better off if the Phillies trade for Halladay. Because if that falls through, there’s a good chance they’ll trade for Cliff Lee instead, and Lee is much more dangerous to the Braves. The Braves have actually hit lefties better than righties this year, but some of that is a function of Diaz playing instead of ACHE earlier in the season, some from Infante and Prado playing instead of KJ, and some is just luck. I have no confidence in that continuing, especially when you see embalmed lefties like Zito shut us down. We have four lefthanded hitters who should be platooned (five if you count McCann) and only one guy (Diaz) to platoon with them until Infante gets back.

  116. In his pre-game show, Jerry Manuel mentions how much Francoeur likes to hit with runners on base and points to his 14-RBI-in-12-games stat. Keep it up, Jeffy.

    Rockies at Citi Field tonight. Let’s go, Mets!

  117. [i]DVRing through a game in an hour is really the way things ought to be. I love baseball and everything but the pace of play make it almost unwatchable.[/i]
    It certainly has the advantage of not listening to Joe Simpson or Chip Caray.

  118. What if the Dodgers end up giving up Kershaw for Lee, the Brewers land Washburn, and the Phillies don’t land Halladay. That would be ideal.

  119. There was a story the other day that the Yankees turned down Cliff Lee because the Tribe was asking for Joba and/or Hughes, who has recently become dominant in his relief role.

  120. Mostly watch on MLBTV. We usually go down to visit family once a year in Atlanta and I catch a few games at Turner Field then. Also have caught the Braves in St. Louis the past few years.

    It sucks though, cause I live in the only town (Kansas City) that the Braves have never played in. Every year when the schedule comes out, I have hope, but so far nada.

    Also, does anyone know an even semi-legit reason why Saturday Fox Braves are blacked out even when the Braves game isn’t being broadcast in an area? Really pisses me off

  121. It sucks though, cause I live in the only town (Kansas City) that the Braves have never played in.

    Well, except for Kyle Davies, Horacio Ramirez, Juan Cruz, Roman Colon, Brayan Pena, L’il Tony Pena, Bruce Chen, Ron Mahay, and Kyle Farnsworth. Speaking of sucking…

  122. Mac,

    The Royals are unbelievably bad, and Dayton just keeps digging himself into a bigger hole all the time. (IE: one of his defenses for the Betancourt deal is the signing of Willie Bloomquest) I really feel for Greinke, who, in spite of the season he’s having, would be significantly better if he had even average defense behind him.

    Right now, I consider myself cautiously optimistic about Wren’s long term prospects as the Braves GM, but looking back, I can’t believe I really wanted Dayton for the job.

  123. @164: Same here. I wanted Dayton at the helm, too. Glad I was wrong. Frank has been far superior to Dayton in every aspect.

  124. And Jo-Jo, of course, When will he get healthy enough to board the plane to KC? You can’t tell me that if he’d been able to stay in the Gwinnett rotation he wouldn’t be a Royal by now. Klinger Parr was born to be a Royal. That should be the next poll — which Godawful Braves scrub pitcher will Dayton acquire next?

  125. Mark Bowman today:

    While placing his offseason focus on pitching, Wren didn’t put as much emphasis on his offensive needs and instead attempted to remain confident in the possibility that either Kelly Johnson or Jeff Francoeur would enjoy a bounce-back season.

    Am I missing something? Is Francoeur’s 2008 season and Johnson’s 2008 season even remotely comparable?

  126. Maybe Albie Lopez will resurface for the Royals. He’s probably down in the Mexican League throwing to Jake Taylor.

  127. By the way, Tim Hudson’s final line. 4.0 IP, 4 H (3 1B, 1 2B, all on grounders though 2 of them, especially the double, were sharply hit), 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 41 pt, 27 st. (8 GO (1 DP) 2FO)

  128. According to Brian Jordan on tonight’s Gwinnett game broadcast on CSS, Jo-Jo sucked last year because he didn’t get any run support. Bull butter.

  129. I fail to see how you would ever throw Groundhog anything that didn’t bounce or were over his head, but I’m all for anything that make the Mets actually throw money at him this offseason. Can’t hurt to have another black hole in their lineup when they play the Braves.

  130. Jordan has a little bit of a point. Jo-Jo had several games in 2007-08 where he pitched well for about four innings but the team didn’t score, and once he fell behind 1-0 or 2-1 he’d start pressing or trying to be too fine, and get slammed.

  131. I guess I do recall that. I remember walks and fastball placement being his biggest problems.

  132. He had nibbler’s fever last year and this year. When he was good. And when he was bad he would leave everything up and over the plate. That was when you just wanted to pull your hair out watching him.

  133. Andrew B………since the demise of TBS i’ve gone back to my pre cable habit of listening to the games the scratchy AM radio on my back deck. i have a choice of 3 stations depending on the weather(i guess) the onlt difference is that now i have this cozy little “office” right off the deck to so i can check the reactions whenever Bobby does ANYTHING……….my wife thinks i’m crazy but then she’s known that for 30 years.

  134. And welcome back to the big leagues, Andy Marte.

    By trading Garko, I guess that means Cleveland is holding onto Martinez now, but you never know.

  135. “nibbler’s fever” – now that’s begging for the Urban Dictionary treatment

  136. Two quick observations (that might be fairly pedestrian thoughts):

    1 – The financial constraints that Liberty Media have imposed upon the Braves have assumably tied Frank Wren’s hands. This is unforgivable, given that Arthur Blank wanted to buy the Braves…and Bud Selig led the effort that gave our team to a ownership group dedicated to simply owning the Braves for tax purposes. And given this team may very well be just a key acquisition away from being a strong postseason factor. Bud Selig sucks in so many ways that it makes Frenchy-suckage pale in comparison.

    2 – Hudson will replace KK in the rotation, assuming he is healthy and ready to go soon. This team (and its bullpen) just can’t afford to have a key starter repeatedly go 5+ innings on a regular basis down the stretch.

  137. You really think that a guy a year off of Tommy John surgery is likely to pitch more than about five innings a start? Even if he’s effective?

  138. Tiger224, while Liberty Media certainly has a budget for the Braves, I honestly believe Liberty has been better than I thought (or I should save my opinion and see how things go for this offseason). The team was spending money over the past offseason and we didn’t see a payroll cut which many team is experiencing.

    Second, I am not as confident as you are on Huddy yet. What make you so confident that Huddy will immediately perform better than KK? KK is posting an ERA of 3.22 since May with a BB/K of 32/54 over 80 innings. The only thing you can complain about him is endurance as you have pointed out, but the guy has been very good. There is no reason to remove him from the rotation. Huddy will probably have the same endurance as KK when he first returns in late August/September.

  139. Well, the one thing we do know about TJ surgery is that most pitchers can start competing again after about one year. However, few athletes regain their full physical ability until after a year and a half.

    That said, Tim Hudson will almost certainly pitch out of the bullpen or at least I think he should. Huddy won’t be back to full strength until 2010.

    It remains to be seen if Bobby Cox will screw this up like he did with KJ and Francoeur.

  140. The Philles are about to put us seven games back and the addition of Ryan Garko just made the Giants the favorite to win the wild card. It is not a good day to be a Braves fan.

  141. Speaking of Frenchy, in thirteen games with the Mets he is hitting .327 with 3 HR’s and 15 RBI.

    He definitely sucks because I have to ask? Why couldn’t the golden boy do this for our Braves……

  142. Coach you can’t be serious about Garko making the Giants the favorite for the wild card.

  143. Garko, seriously? In no way does he now make the Giants the team to beat in the wildcard. Jeff sucked as a brave and thats how I’ll always remember him. If he does well elsewhere, we are still a better team because of it

  144. It will be very interesting to see what happens when Hudson is ready. There’s really no reason why you’d wanna take any of the five current starters out of the rotation. But if Hudson is capable of starting at anywhere close to his old self, you really have to shoehorn him in somewhere, don’t you? Here’s how I see it:

    -Jurrjens is out of the question.

    -Lowe is the only one with bullpen experience, but we already have a perfectly capable closer, and we’re paying Lowe way too much to be a middle reliever or setup guy. Plus, if we get to the point where we’re playing really important games in September or get to the playoffs, Lowe is the only one with a postseason pedigree of any sort and he might be the guy I choose for a must-win game of some kind. And we can’t trade him because of his contract.

    -Vazquez is the one most mentioned in trade talks, but I consider him almost as out of the question as Jurrjens. Why in the world would we want to take the guy who has been our ace pitcher this year and trade him if we think we have any shot at all at the playoffs? It’s just not something we can do. Our lineup is doing perfectly well now anyway, but even if it starts to dip a little again, it’s not worth giving up our ace pitcher for another plug. I’m not even sure it’s worth giving up our ace if we could get a bonafide 1B. Teams trying to get to the playoffs do not trade guys who have been as important to their team as Javy has been to ours at the trade deadline…period. And obviously moving him to the bullpen is out of the question.

    These three are not going anywhere. That leaves Hanson and Kawakami.

    Kawakami has done nothing in particular to warrant a demotion to the bullpen, but I really do think he is the weakest link of the five. He and Derek Lowe have been pitching at about the same level for the last month or so (I think Lowe may have been a little better), but Kawakami doesn’t come with any of the intangibles that Lowe does (big-game experience, etc.). If Hudson is able to go as a starter, Kawakami would not be in our postseason rotation anyway. We are probably paying him a little much to be the long reliever, but I think this is really the direction we wind up going.

    Hanson is interesting though. No one is talking about moving him at all. In fact, if what I’ve seen written on here is any indication, more than half of us want to trade Vazquez, but no one even seems to have even entertained the idea of moving Hanson to the bullpen. This is moderate-to-severe insanity in my opinion, because as mentioned previously, Vazquez is our ace, whereas Hanson is the young rookie No. 5 starter who we’re not expecting to shoulder any major load this year. While he has had a very good couple of months and on the surface there’s no particular reason to send him to the bullpen, in situations like this it is normally the rookie that winds up in the bullpen and from a cost-effective standpoint, he’d be the guy that would not be wasting money if we sent him there. Also, he as well would not be in the postseason rotation anyway, nor would he likely be starting any super-important game unless we were just backed into a corner. Also, as a bonus, his stuff would probably work in the bullpen better than any of the other four starters. Good fastball, devastating curveball, etc. We could use him in middle relief situations if we had to, I think. Kawakami’s stuff doesn’t strike as being very good for anything other than long relief.

    So, I apologize for the long, drawn-out post, but I think writing this has led me to the conclusion that if Hudson is capable of slotting into the rotation when he comes back, I would move Hanson to the bullpen. I’m obviously not gonna keep him there next year, but to me it is kind of the solution that makes the most sense, but that nobody is even considering for some reason.

  145. If you wanted to get creative, you could keep your two best pitchers (Vazquez and Jurrjens) in rotation, pitching every five days, while letting the kid, the injury case, the old guy, and the guy who pitched in a six-man rotation last year anyway get some extra rest. I seriously doubt that this will happen, but considering how Hanson pitched on long rest coming out of the break…

  146. The fact that Francoeur has hit over .300 in 55 PAs or so is good for the Braves. It could convince a main rival to re-sign him, hopefully for more than one year.

    I hope he keeps it up for awhile because he’ll never be a Met who scares me.

  147. Bobby has already been creative in giving KK more rest than the others, because he was used to pitching every 6th day in Japan. It’s not likely they’d go to a 6-man rotation, but Bobby’s shown he can be creative.

    Mac, I appreciate your optimism, but I just can’t possibly see Halladay as a good thing. I mean, Lee sucked until about 18 months ago. Halladay’s been nasty for about a decade, and thanks to cracks in Johan’s armor he’s recently been anointed the best pitcher in baseball. I realize that every lefty who faces us looks like Warren Spahn, but I sure don’t want to have to face Doc Halladay. Dude’s just mean.

    Francoeur’s first few weeks with the Mets are just like his first few weeks with the Braves. The more he hits now, the harder it will be for them to take him out of the lineup in the future. Hit ’em deep, supe. (Update: yep, what Ububba said.)

  148. Nick, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

    But the problem remains. We are gonna have six starting pitchers. Somebody will end up in the bullpen and someone will eventually be traded.

    I considered the Giants the favorite to win the wild card only because of their dominant pitching. They have the same problem our Braves had, not enough offense and while Ryan Garko is at best an average first baseman, he will help the Giants score more runs.

  149. sure Garko will help, but they only have one good hitter in Pablo and three average guys like Rowand/Winn/Schierholz. Outside of that they got nothing…

    Colorado is the team to beat in the wild card I believe. Since the managerial change they’ve played very good. If we can keep our pitching and defense like it has been, we got a pretty good chance. I dont believe Bowman when he said we can make the playoffs with the team we’ve got though. We have got to add a reliever, not counting the starter we move to the pen. We need two extra arms down there. (Carlyle and Bennett are not those guys)

  150. I like that idea Mac. Seems a little progressive for Bobby, but it has real possibilities for the reasons that you mention. Has anyone consistently ever used a six man rotation before?

    I still think Hudson should go to the pen, but it looks like they are stretching him out. It they do slot him in the rotation, I agree with Nick in that Hanson should probably go to the bullpen, mostly because of how his stuff would translate there compared to KK.

  151. @197 & 198

    Couldn’t agree more. I hope Frenchy continues to rake (especially as the Mets are out of it and it means nothing)

  152. csg,

    I disagree. I think the alternative of the Cubs/Cards team who doesn’t win the Central will be the main competition for the WC. Both those teams are very good, and outside of the back ends of their rotations don’t really have many holes.

    San Francisco still can’t hit, and I’m sorry, but any rotation that has Jason Marquis as the #1 starter will have to come to earth eventually.

  153. @196 The idea is too good, but Bobby will mess it up because it’s too confusion to him, ha.

    @197 ububba, well said sir, well said. That’s exactly what I am thinking too. Besides, the Braves have been playing so well without him that I hardly miss him even if he is doing well for the Mets.

  154. Ethan, IMO, I think the Central with its 4 playoff contenders will beat itself up and will end up with just the division winner. Their division leader already has the worst record among the 3 NL divisions. But you never know.

  155. Bobby wouldn’t do it — not because it’s not creative, but because he wouldn’t do anything quite that unorthadox. Seems like if any manager would try such a thing it would be La Russa. Of course, most playoff contenders are riding just 2 or 3 starters and praying for rain, so nobody would want to try it.

    Another reason it would likely be Hanson going to the bullpen would be to limit his innings for the rest of the season.

  156. braves14,

    I think that the four playoff contenders in the division is why the division leader has the worst record amongst the NL division leaders.

    Simply put, my reasoning behind the statement is that, among the wildcard teams, the Braves, Cubs, and Cards are the most complete. Over the long run, I think their lack of the gaping holes that are apparent amongst the other potential contenders will have them rise to the top. You’re definitely right though: you never know.

  157. If I were Cox I’d piggyback Hudson and Kawakami every 5th day, at least initially. You’re basically looking at not having to use any other relievers on that day, helps you monitor Kawakami’s health and innings as well as Hudson’s health and innings, etc.

  158. And Mac/others that raise the TJ surgery concerns as to Hudson…that is a good point, for sure.

    Are there any other TJ pitchers that came back in mid/late season here recently? How long did they go into games?

  159. PWHjort (you’re going to have to explain that one day) has read my mind.

    Every day Kawakami starts, plan on KK pitching five and Hudson pitching four. Rest the bullpen. Get a win.

    Got to take this series, guys.

  160. Pitching platoon? Neat idea, but not gonna happen. I say let’s see if we can trade KK. He has value, his contract is quite reasonable, and there is no risk involved since we can always throw in Medlen should Huddy get hurt.

    KK, a prospect and cash for Ludwick?

  161. KK’s our foot in the door to the Japanese market guy. I doubt we’ll trade him. Instead, I think we’ll hang onto him for the duration of his contract, so we can fully explore what sort of opportunities and value his signing had in terms of opening up the Japanese market to us.

  162. I think they’ll effectively use a 6 man rotation and be creative about how they do it. Kawakami and Hudson are almost like half starters, as neither can be pushed or expected to go deep into games for their own reasons. Bottom line is Lowe, Vasquez, Jurrjens and Hanson will get their starts, and KK and Hudson will be worked in around that. That’s basically what BC is doing this week with the off day.

  163. …I’m sorry, but any rotation that has Jason Marquis as the #1 starter will have to come to earth eventually.

    Ubaldo Jimenez is unquestionably Colorado’s ace, and he’s pretty darn good. That said, we’re better than Colorado, though maybe not 3 games better over the last third of the season. We shall see.

    Love the KK-Hudson piggyback idea. Also love the thought of Tommy Hanson in the postseason ‘pen.

  164. I like the idea of having a Kenshin Hudson start for us. Or Tim Kawakami. Start one, have him go 5, then let the other finish up the last 4. Then, 5 days later, start the other, have him go 5, then bring in your second starter.

  165. 217,
    It could actually be argued very intelligently that Marquis is the Rockies’ 5th best starter, behind Jimenez, Cook, Hammel, and DeLaRosa. Marquis’ ERA is a mirage considering his K/BB. Though Marquis has been very valuable to them, he’s been more lucky than good.

  166. Stu @ 221,

    Where do these people come up with this stuff? I guess it depends on what you mean by “checked in on”.

  167. Maybe McLouth called to check in on his old friend, but I highly doubt Wren called in to check on his trade status.

    I’m intrigued by the Kawakami/Hudson every 5th day idea, but I think they’ll move Hanson to the pen. There’s no wrong answer between those two.

  168. Hudson needs to go ahead and be called up and used as a 2 inning / 3 inning reliever. Then, if somebody goes down, you “stretch him out” to start.

    That solves the “quest for right handed relief help” without costing either (1) money (except maybe the insurance stops flowing) or (2) talent.

  169. I think a Hudson/Hanson combined starter makes more sense than Kawakami/Hudson. As was pointed out on another blog, Hanson will soon reach the combined innings that are considered enough for a rookie. Reducing his innings pitched the rest of the year by having him pitch in relief of Hudson would therefore make a lot sense. Plus as a young rookie, Bobby is just more likely to move him to the pen then somebody like Hudson, Lowe, or Kawakami.

  170. Josh Willingham seems to be playing himself out of trade contention as Washington certainly has less incentive to move him and is probably stronger on what they want back.

  171. Stu,

    After seeing Neyer’s take on the Sanchez thing, I get it. Braves probably did check what Pittsburgh was offering Sanchez for, AS PART OF its exploration of trading KJ to MINN. That is, if Sanchez is worth x, then KJ is worth y.

    I just can’t figure out what we can get from the Twins that would justify moving KJ that they would let go of.

    IF Pittsburgh won’t give salary relief, MINN could have KJ for this year, next year, and the next for less than Sanchez for this year and next.

  172. The Braves may be confident they can win without making deals, but they’d still like to add a reliever, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Atlanta inquired on A’s reliever Michael Wuertz, and the club is also in hot pursuit of an under-the-radar arm, according to FOX Sports’ sources

    Well, no idea who an under the radar arm might be, but Wuertz has been a k machine lately and would be a huge addition in the pen

  173. @186,

    Maybe I missed something but how is it Selig’s fault that Liberty acquired the Braves? I assume that TW thought that reaquiring TW stock in exchange for the Braves was the best way to get rid of the team without having tax issues. I don’t see why Selig would have pushed for Liberty to get the team. I know it’s easy to blame Selig for everything bad that happens to each of the 30 teams, but this seems to be a stretch. But if there is something that I’m not aware of, I will retract this defense.

  174. Being the commissioner and all, I imagine he had to approve this sort of thing. Allowing ownership from a group whose interest is only tax relief would certainly bear scrutiny under the “best interests of baseball” clause, given that kind of conflict of interest.

  175. “1 – The financial constraints that Liberty Media have imposed upon the Braves have assumably tied Frank Wren’s hands. ”

    Its my understanding that Libery has done nothing to tie up Wren’s hands financially. Wren has always said that there really isnt a set payroll and he could spend more, but due to the economy and everything that they choose not to spend more than a certain amount. We can complain about Corp ownership, but I dont really see how Liberty can be blamed for anything at this point. Hell they couldve told Frank not to spend $50 mil this past offseason, but they didnt

  176. Back to my “Marquis is the worst Rockies’ starter” thing:

    Rockies’ Starters xFIP:

    1. Ubaldo Jimenez – 3.68
    2. Jorge de la Rosa – 3.73
    3. Jason Hammel – 3.94
    4. Aaron Cook – 4.09
    5. Jason Marquis – 4.32

  177. @ 230,

    MLB has expressed a preference for ownership by other than major corporations. They prefer a face (or small group of faces) with control.

    However, MLB also prefers that each franchise sale brings the maximum dollars to protect franchise value for everybody.

    On our sale, Liberty and Time Warner both came out like gangbusters because TW got rid of an unruly shareholder for market value (no premium) and Liberty got to change assets without 200 milllion or so in federal income tax.

    And, I don’t feel Liberty has been bad for the Braves. They have been better than Time Warner. And their motivations tie into the approach of most of the people on this blog.

    That is, Liberty has to hold the Braves for a minimum time (I think 4 years) or else they lose their tax break. That means they can (and probably want to) sell in 2012. If you sell in 2012, you want to sell a franchise with a rising state of star power, revenue, and post season revenue. So, they are in it for improvement over the next few years, not just for now.

  178. @231,

    What conflict of interest? I don’t see that Liberty has been any worse (and probably better) than many owners who supposedly are in baseball for the “love” of it, eg., Peter Angelos, the Lerners, the many owners of the Pirates, David Glass in KC, you can go on and on. Everyone talks about Arthur Blank buying the team, but I haven’t seen the Falcons stacking up Vince Lombardi trophies.

    Clearly, Liberty isn’t going to spend unlimited dollars like the Yankees, but neither did Ted Turner. The problems started with TW cutting the payroll in the early 2000s.

  179. @217

    RE Marquis:

    I know he’s not really their best. It’s just my residual vindictivness over him being named an AS over Javy/JJ. I’m petty like that sometimes.

    That being said, should they make the postseason, (rest being equal) it would not surprise me at all if Marquis was their game one starter…

  180. @235- “Everyone talks about Arthur Blank buying the team, but I haven’t seen the Falcons stacking up Vince Lombardi trophies. ”

    I don’t think people want Blank to buy the team because the Falcons have been winning the Super Bowl every year. The idea is the willingness to spend money on the team and not be beholden to the “bottom line”, and to not treat the team as just another line item on a balance sheet which we have seen Blank NOT do with regards to the Falcons.

    Add in the fact that they have a salary cap in the NFL, and you’re comparing apples to oranges anyway. The idea is that Blank would spend money on the team.

    I’ll agree that we haven’t seen the kind of cost-cutting under Liberty that everyone feared we would. But anyone that remembers Ted Turner owning the Braves would have to want to see a Braves owner who is passionately involved.

  181. Sure would’ve been nice to get Kendry Morales in the Tex deal as opposed to Kotchman. I love his defense and all and he’s not horrible, but Morales has 20 HRs and 25 2Bs for the Angels this year.

  182. I don’t care if the owner is passionately involved or not. There’s a greater chance that they will interfere if they are highly involved. Maybe Turner helped build the team for their long playoff run, but the Braves stunk most of the time when he was the primary owner.

    Liberty has been fine. They haven’t cut the payroll as feared and, given the revenue stream and overall market, I don’t think many other owners would provide a lot more money. Our payroll isn’t huge compared to the Yankees or Red Sox, but it’s about where it should be IMO.

  183. Feels like it has been a week since the Braves played.

    I’m sure glad it’s a game night.

  184. As I recall, Bud Selig was the kingmaker in the “who’s gonna buy the Braves” sweepstakes. I didn’t know that was up for discussion.

    And while Liberty Media hasn’t been terrible (no Huzienga fire sale or anything), would a deep-pocket local owner sit on his hands at the deadline this year? When we are arguably a key player away from really making the best run we’ve had in 3, 4, 5 years?

    Come on…I didn’t really think anyone would be okay with a corporation getting ownership of our beloved Braves for a tax break. Is that really an ideal situation? Hardly.

    Arthur Blank really wanted to buy the Braves…but Bud Selig went into a different direction. And then tried to celebrate Hank Aaron’s involvement with the front office as a smokescreen.

    The AJC documented the whole process quite well, as I recall.

    Either way…as a former Clemson defensive coordinator stated roughly 10 years ago: “We got who we got”. And Aug. 1st, here we come.

  185. Tiger 224,

    But what else would you have the front office do, specifically?

    The only problem seems to be unwillingness to take on salary.

    FO seems to have a good handle on the upcoming talent surge coming through the system and they don’t want to give away useful pieces except for the right situation.

    KJ seems to be the only ML moveable piece. And after that, you are into the mid minors (nothing at AAA anybody would want unless an AL team in contention had a DH injury and took a chance or Barbaro). Mid minors and lower guys don’t generate a lot unless they are near elite, and we don’t want to trade them.

  186. cliff-

    I think the “taking on salary” piece is the giant missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

    I don’t care for Bud Selig, really. And when I see our current situation, with an inability to spend money (Frank Wren can say whatever he wants, but I think it goes back to ownership)…it reminds me of who helped to put us in this situation.

    Sure, we were spoiled with the Ted Turner days. But when I see the rich getting proverbially richer in the game of baseball (Red Sox, Yanks, etc)…it is a tough situation to take.

    But, it’s all the more reason to pull hard for this Braves team of underachievers…or overachievers, depending on your perspective.

  187. I think we already made our big deals this year. Nate McLouth and Ryan Church were acquired before the deadline, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important deals. This mindset that you always have to do something at the deadline even if you’ve made your big deal two months ago is a little perplexing to me. I honestly don’t know that I would do much to this roster right now even if I could add however much payroll I wanted. Maybe add a bullpen arm, which shouldn’t require a great deal of expenditure. Hell, we could probably just as easily acquire a bullpen arm off of waivers in August.

    I don’t think we know what the money situation is with the team right now, but I see no reason to assume that Liberty Media hasn’t given Wren permission to add another piece. I will admit I was not in favor of Liberty Media acquiring the team, but I don’t think you can argue that it’s worked out pretty well so far. They have allowed us to spend the money to be competitive, which is something that AOL Time Warner wasn’t doing. We added a significant amount of payroll over the offseason. We couldn’t have done that if Liberty Media wasn’t allowing us to do it, no matter how much money was supposedly coming off the payroll after last year.

    Hell, we went after big-name free agents this offseason for the first time since AOL bought Time Warner, and therefore the team. This was previously something that ownership would not allow us to do. Does anyone remember the quote from Terry McGuirk a couple years ago about how signing free agents was not the way to build a winning baseball team? There hasn’t been a lot of that talk around here recently. In fact, I don’t remember hearing a peep from McGuirk since the Smoltz fiasco. Now he’s no longer team president, but he’s still the liaison between ownership and the team as far as I know. If ownership were still seriously stepping on our toes, I would think we would be hearing a bunch of drivel from McGuirk every month or so like we were under AOL Time Warner.

    EDIT: As a bit of a postscript however, I felt I should say that I am in no way condoning anything Bud Selig does. I can’t really remember the last time I thought he handled anything correctly. He is a complete incompetent. Just wanted to throw that out there in case anyone thought I was defending him with that.

  188. Nick-

    I agree with some of your points. And we are in complete agreement re: Bud Selig. He’s a scumbag.

  189. What conflict of interest? I don’t see that Liberty has been any worse (and probably better) than many owners who supposedly are in baseball for the “love” of it,

    I was really just responding to your rhetorical question “how is it Selig’s fault that Liberty acquired the Braves?”

    However, since you ask, business owners are allowed to be stupid. When you purchase a business for a purpose other than the success or failure of that business , there is no such thing as an “arm’s length transaction” with respect to the other interested parties anymore (i.e. the rest of MLB and to an extent, the cities that have invested in MLB). Obviously Selig found this to be acceptable, and I don’t really care, but Liberty simply cannot be viewed as a completely rational actor.

  190. Too bad Smoltz and Glavine didn’t retire last winter–would have set up a great Hall of Fame class with Maddux.

  191. @250 “However, since you ask, business owners are allowed to be stupid.”

    Yea, shareholders just love that.

  192. Are they playing in a day game today?

    Or are we talking about his last start where he was booed?

    I heard his numbers.

    That’s just a shame.

  193. Ububba,

    I love that article. But even more, I love watching this train wreck of an organization fall apart, top to bottom. Organizational strategy is hopeful at best and asinine at worst (‘we are going to be buyers at the trade deadline’ and trading for FRENCHY?). Organizational relations with the rest of the world do not appear to be stellar on any level. Minor league etiquette is apparently non-existent, combined with a bare-naked farm system.

    Oh, and then you have that major league team. That topic has already been beaten to death, so I am not going to even start. Except for one thing- 2nd highest payroll in all of baseball. Enough said.

    Sad times to be a Met fan, and I’m pretty sure the worst are still yet to come- 25 million a year to Santana, 12 per year to Perez, a long-term contract for Frenchy in right. Good luck, NY. You are going to need it.

  194. @250,

    Spike,

    Even if Liberty’s primary purpose in making the purchase was not to run a baseball team, that doesn’t mean that there was a conflict of interest. It’s not as if they benefit if the Braves stink. They may not have as much of a motivation to win as, say, a Mark Cuban, but they clearly benefit from having a team that is competitive and that draws well. To me, a conflict of interest would be like the situation in the movie “Major League” where the owner wants the team to lose so she can move it to a more lucrative market. If Liberty had come in and said we are going to strip the team to the bone and then sell the remains, that would be a conflict of interest. If you are saying that TW did not seek out the owner that would operate the team in the most optimal way, that might be true, but if that were the standard, half the owners in baseball wouldn’t own their teams.

    I find the hatred of Selig to be a bit distasteful. He has done some things I don’t like and he is frequently annoying, but I don’t think he has done anything to merit the animosity that people show. Calling him a “scumbag” as someone did strikes me as being really over the top. People seem to want to blame him for steroids, high salaries, and the price of tea in China and he certainly has some responsibility, but by no means all.

  195. Marc Sneider-

    As we’re talking about a conflict of interest, Bud Selig took over the throne and became MLB Commish while he still had a considerable interest in the Brewers. If that isn’t a conflict of interest, I don’t know what else is.

    He just recently divested himself of that interest; this past January, I believe. That is ridiculous.

    And take a look at his salary…I think somewhere in the neighborhood of $18M this past year. How does that measure up with his colleagues in the NFL, NBA, and NHL? MLB hasn’t exactly been setting attendance records these last few years.

    Throw in how he completely ignored the steroids issue, until it affected some of the game’s biggest stars.

    And how he incorporated this nonsensical All Star Game/World Series home field advantage tie-in.

    What do you think the State of the Union in baseball is right now? Healthy and on the up-and-up? Not from my perspective.

    Come on, he’s a clown. And he’s a clown that is making a bunch of money off of his failures.

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