Braves 7, Giants 1

Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants – Box Score – August 26, 2012

Fredi Gonzalez gave Dan Uggla a day off, with Martin Prado at second and Reed Johnson in left, and though Prado and Johnson went a combined 0-9, the Braves beat the tar out of the Giants. Coincidence?

Jason Heyward continued to lay waste to opposing pitching, hitting his third home run in three days in the top of the 9th. Immediately after that, Freddie Freeman homered, and as far as I can tell, that’s the first time in their major league career that Jason and Freddie have gone back-to-back. Weird.

Tim Hudson was awesome and incredibly efficient, requiring just 82 pitches to get through 7 innings, striking out 3, walking 1, and allowing one run on five singles. He got into some trouble in the 7th, giving up a run on two singles and his only walk on the day, so it was perfectly appropriate to take him out after that. Jonny Venters looked okay in the seventh, allowing a walk but erasing him on a double play; he may never be the guy he was in 2010-2011, but he did his job. Cristhian Martinez managed to make it interesting, allowing a hit and a walk in the 9th and giving Fredi enough heartburn to get Craig Kimbrel up and throwing in the bullpen. But then Martinez shut the door.

Despite all the handwringing over the last week, we actually have picked up ground on the Nationals. They were five games ahead of us when we traveled to Washington, and now they’re 4.5 games ahead of us, following a three-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies. However, because Washington isn’t Philadelphia, everyone in the city isn’t currently gnashing their teeth and booing everyone on the team, which must be nice for Jayson Werth.

Anyway, they’re still a frontrunner for a playoff spot, and so are we. Funny how scoring 7 runs makes you look like a good team, when getting shut out makes you look awful. I’m not saying that benching Dan Uggla makes us score runs, but I’m certainly not not saying that.

103 thoughts on “Braves 7, Giants 1”

  1. Saw the highlights on ESPN after which a man wearing makeup and a suit said: “Now let’s hear from the gentlemen who called tonight’s game.”

    I thought: Alright, our guys, having looked good on the national broadcast, are about to get some love and R-E-S-P-E-C-T here.

    Neither “tonight’s game”, nor the Braves nor the Giants rated a mention.

    It was all “The Dodgers… $250,000,000.00… balance of power…” etc.

    I’ve gotta say I would love to see both LA teams miss the playoffs.

  2. The Braves hit seven home runs in this four game series in San Francisco. The Giants have hit twenty home runs at home all season.

  3. It was interesting how many home runs the Braves hit at a place that is difficult to hit home runs in and yet struggled to score runs overall. None of those home runs were cheap, either, including Francisco’s tonight.

    It was nice to actually watch a game. I’m in Cedar Rapids, IA for a few months, and there ain’t no Braves baseball around here.

  4. It’d just so nice to see Heyward hit HRs. They’re almost all line drives. He doesn’t do the tower moon shots of, say, Jim Thome. Rather, Heywards are just hit HARD. I predict a lot of Heyward love this off-season in fantasy circles with people talking about how much power he’s shown off in the second half. (OTOH, while talking fantasy, I think he had more steals in April than he’s had since. Which is weird but w/e. I’m certainly not complaining.)

  5. Heyward jumped Bourn in WAR, is .1 behind McCutchen, and .2 behind Braun and Wright for the league lead.

  6. You have to love the fact that the Giants and Dodgers have 6 left against each other, so that will help out the other WC teams (whoever they may be – including the Braves) tremendously.

  7. The following would have to happen for him to win it:

    – He keeps hitting
    – We pass Washington
    – The Giants don’t win the divison and/or Posey cools off/ get hurt
    – The Pirates keep on their pace.
    – Kemp doesn’t catch fire.
    – ESPN gets tired of talking about the Dodgers trade Red Sox and pays attention to him.

    That is not impossible.

  8. You had me all the way up to that last one, Smitty. Even your barber would say that ESPN will never stop talking about the Red Sox and Dodgers (and Yankees- they’ll do something to get talked about).

  9. ESPN’s already paying attention to Jason, though. Yesterday or the day before, the lead story on was Heyward’s resurgence, with a video package supplemented by an ESPN Insider article written by Bill Petti of Fangraphs. If he keeps hammering the ball, they’ll keep looking at him. And if they keep looking at him, they’ll notice that our 22-year old right fielder has been the best and most consistent hitter on a playoff team, and he’s also one of the best defensive outfielders in the world.

    Pretty soon that starts to sound like someone who more than a few writers would vote for. They wouldn’t give him first-place votes. But plenty of writers will give him top-10 votes, and I bet several will give him top-5 votes, especially as the “Heyward’s Resurgence” meme continues to recur.

  10. I notice that San Diego called up Casey Kelly to make his major league debut against us. Fortunately, he’s right-handed, so we still have a shot; if he were a lefty, you could start tipping your cap now.

  11. Fransisco can certainly hit some balls a long way. Im really confused on how I feel about him. He could easily be a 30HR everyday 3B, but he also may rack up over 200K’s while playing below average defense.

    Good to see Bmac have a good game and a hit or two against LHP. Maybe all he needed was Hudson giving him a hard time about having a higher batting average than he does.

  12. @16

    I agree. When he first came up, ESPN was all over him.

    Honestly, I think they are just looking for a few good baseball stories right now. The Red Sox are done.
    They don’t care enough about Tampa or Oakland to talk about those races.

    If we can catch the Nats, and Strass is sitting, we become a part of the story.

  13. I’ve thought that Francisco was our 3B in 2013 ever since we signed him. He’s got all kinds of “raw” tools. A little maturity and a little conditioning and who knows…he might be one of the better hitters in the game one day. Or not. He’s worth a look though. It’s not like we have any adequate alternatives from within the organization, and I would like us to spend any extra money we have on pitching.

  14. @20

    He has been a lot more patient at the plate. I wonder if he got regular ABs if he would be exposed?

    I could see a world where we let him play against righties and move Prado to third for lefties and resign Johnson.

    I could also see a world where we try to dump Uggla and move Prado back to second.

  15. The game shows what happens when the team gives a complete effort.
    Some observations:
    Separated at birth, Beeg Juan (Francisco) and Panda.
    Nice bunt by McCann against the shift. He would get his BA up a lot just by hitting some grounders over that way.
    Martin Prado, 4 positions in 4 games. The guy is pretty dang good.
    Paul Janish makes it look easy. Tyler Pastornicky never made it look easy. And a 2 run triple too. But the guy has a really slow bat. Love his defense though and if push comes to shove and Simmons can’t come back for some reason I think we could carry his glove.
    Classy jesture by the SF fans for Chipper’s PH appearance.

  16. Juan Franciso’s numbers, if he were to maintain his current level of production, starting 150 games: 33HR 104rbi 198K

  17. I think the Braves should give Francisco an ultimatum…

    “Lose weight, get in shape, destroy Winter Ball, and the job is your’s. Do nothing, and you’ll have the same role as ’12.”

    If he does accelerate his work ethic, he could be a serious steady power threat in the bottom third of the lineup. Then the Braves could go hard after Bourn. If the above scenario were to work out, I’d be plenty fine with Prado playing LF on a regular basis and Gattis coming up being the LF when Francisco needs a break and the catcher when McCann needs a break. Used correctly, that could be a win for the whole team with Prado basically spelling everyone from time to time.

  18. Wasn’t Francisco, at least nominally, supposed to also be an OF? Would he kill us worse in LF than 3rd?

  19. I’d take 33 HR from the 7 spot all week long and twice on Sunday, even if he did give us mark Reynolds-ish K numbers.

  20. Will BJ Upton cost less or more on the FA market than Michael Bourn? He’s obviously inferior to Bourn offensively and defensively but provides more power. Cue the argument from the last thread. Other possible replacements for Bourn:
    1. Burn in Hell
    2. Cody Ross
    3. Angel Pagan

    With Bourn and Upton to add to that group, the CF market is pretty strong. This coming year might be the time to buy. If we missed out on Bourn, I’d take Pagan first, then Ross, then Upton. I’d only take Burn in Hell if he were baptized over the Winter.

  21. Small sample size warning, but Juan Francisco has a .453 OPS against lefties in his career (62 ABs) versus an .853 vs. righties. I really don’t have any issues with his defense – he doesn’t have amazing range but appears to have good hands and a plus arm. Bottom line, he currently has a .778 OPS, and if he could sustain a .750 OPS as a full time starter I would be ecstatic. However, I’m doubtful.

  22. This could be something to pay attention to also with Fransisco.

    as starter – .865OPS
    as PH – .466OPS

    as starter – .827
    as PH – .633

  23. As a follow-up, here are Francisco’s minor league splits:

    Even back in the minors, Juan had lots of trouble vs. lefties, posting OPS marks in the low .600’s in AA and AAA. He retains his walk rate versus lefties, but strikes out more and hits for a lot less power. In 2009 – 25 HRs against righties, 4 against lefties, and in 2010, 16 against righties, 2 against lefties.

  24. Francisco has always, always, always had contact issues. This year, as a 25-year old, is essentially his first full year in the majors, and even as a part-time player he has struggled to distinguish himself from the replacement level. (By fWAR, he’s at 1.0, but by rWAR, he’s just at 0.4.) His defense seems pretty much par, but he strikes out way too much while maintaining a well-below-average walk rate. He literally has five times as many strikeouts as walks this year.

    Mark Reynolds is one of the most unique players in major league history, so the odds of Francisco reproducing Reynolds’ production are very slim. That’s especially true considering that Mark Reynolds’ walk rate is basically twice that of Francisco: Reynolds’s career BB% is 11.8%, while Juan’s is 6.1%.

    He’s a perfectly cromulent backup, and because he’s 25, there’s a good chance that the next three years will be the best three years of his career. He could gain more plate discipline, or at the very least, tap into all of his power. But he’ll need to make a lot of strides with his plate discipline to be a starting player.

  25. If I am Wren, I ain’t counting on Juan to be my 3b next year. Prado should be the 3b. Gattis is not exactly punishing AA right now and Cunningham is at least 2 seasons away, so I think that 2 outfielders will be the primary concern next year. The only reason I say play Prado at 3b is that you would think a decent 3b would be harder to find than a LF.

  26. Wren has a busy offseason with the state of the rotation, the Uggla issue (probably not going away), the bench, and probably having to fill LF and CF.

  27. I tend towards Mac’s theory on guys like Francisco — OBP-challenged but power-hitting guys are good players to have on your bench. Right now I’d favor having Francisco back up 3B and 1B next year.

  28. Francisco at 3B next year would make more sense if we could put Prado at 2B and then find a half-decent LF (but historically the Braves have had a lot of trouble finding those on the external market).

    I guess I’ve given up on Uggla. I’d listen to any and all takers there. Someone is gonna probably buy low with him and reap the rewards, but so be it. Our pitching staff is an aging Hudson and then 5 or 6 question marks. Wren will have his hands full with that plus possibly worrying about CF and C at the same time. At least Francisco is cheap and can hit bombs. We could do worse I think.

  29. Man, Joe Posnanski is getting savaged everywhere over the Paterno biography. I’ve never seen such universal condemnation.

  30. @39 – No one is going to take Dan Uggla at a price we would be willing to pay. Yes, I think we have to pay someone to take Dan whether its money or prospects.

  31. @50 – if we’re going to pay him full price to suck, then paying him a bit less to play elsewhere seems better. Pipe-dream anyways since it probably won’t happen.

  32. From Jeff Passan, for the pleasure of Braves Journal readers:

    “Numbers give us something tangible with which we can judge a player against his peers, against his predecessors, against Babe Ruth if we truly want. The preferred tool today is Wins Above Replacement. FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference both have proprietary versions; each is marred by its inclusion of defensive metrics but good enough to give a decent idea of what’s what.

    And they agree: The worst player in baseball this year is Kansas City outfielder Jeff Francoeur.

    FanGraphs says he has been worth -1.7 WAR, which means by using a replacement-level player – some bum from Triple-A – the Royals actually would have won two more games. B-R is even harsher: The site has Francoeur at -3.0 WAR, which ranks as the 11th-worst season for an offensive player since 1901.

    With a dreadful August and September, Francoeur could threaten the season both sites agree is the worst ever: Jerry Royster’s 1977 with Atlanta, a -3.7 FanGraphs and -4.1 B-R debacle. The utilityman hit .216/.278/.288 and, the metrics say, played brutal defense. Francoeur isn’t that bad, at .240/.287/.372, with a major league-leading 14 outfield assists, but as Wil Myers sits at Triple-A with a .311/.389/.603 line, 35 home runs and the title of best hitting prospect in the minors, it cannot be anything short of maddening for Royals fans to swallow where part of the cost of their ticket will go.

    Kansas City owes Francoeur $6.75 million in 2013.”

  33. It seems that there are more bad tades and long term contacts than good ones. Glad Phils outsmarted us on Pence and we were stuck with Bourne.

  34. Pence hitting .214 with .582 OPS for SF. $10.4M salary. Uglla .195 and .703 for same period at $13.1M

  35. Well to be accurate, I’m sure a lot of the reason the Braves ended up with Bourn was that he was cheaper, both in terms of salary and prospects demanded in return. Obviously, that decision has worked out pretty awesomely for the Bravos.

  36. It’s funny that the Cardinals (+126 run differential) have a worse record than the Giants (+32) and are only two games ahead of the Pirates (+11).

  37. “I see Dempster. I trade Delgado for Dempster. I look on Cubs. No Dempster. I look on Braves. No Dempster. I look on Rangers. Dempster. I say, ‘Wren, you one lucky guy.'”

  38. The Paterno review that I place the most stock in is Allen Barra’s. His Bear Bryant book was terrific; he understands football and sports biography both. All along, people worried that Joe Posnanski didn’t have it in him to write a book that examined the totality of Paterno, a successful coach and principled man who violated every principle he’d ever espoused in order to keep winning.

    Those worries appear to have been justified.

  39. @64

    I made much the same point in the Slate review comments — Posnanski was already on record as considering Paterno a Great Man, so he was a natural for an authorized biography, but the scandal put him out of his depth. Or, at least, the depth in which he chooses to swim.

  40. If Posnanski is correct when he states that Paterno grew to despise Sandusky irrespective of his penchant for pederasty, it must have been a bitter, bitter pill to swallow when JoPa finally accepted what the pervert would do to his legacy.

  41. @66

    The one lone time I delved into the comments at Slate, I saw a comment of yours; as I recall, the topic was Pabst Blue Ribbon.

  42. Last week, I heard Joe Poz on WFAN discussing his book for an hour. He kept making these comments like, “I’ll leave it up to the readers to form their opinions,” or “I didn’t want to rush to judgement,” and “this book is about more than the scandal.”

    There were some interesting bits about how Paterno & Sandusky never really liked each other, etc., but overall I was left wanting. It felt needlessly confusing.

    I’ve been a fan of his writing for a long time. In his book, “The Machine” about the Cincy Reds of the 70s, he talks with Pete Rose & never really goes after him with the well-known details of Rose’s scandals, but he doesn’t need to—his descriptions of the discussion tell you all you need to know. It’s very good writing. He shines light without piling on, if you will. You never feel sorry for Rose for one instant, but the writer knows that you’ve tired of the story, as well.

    I guess I thought something like that might come thru with this book (which is probably ridiculous, when you compare gambling to pederasty). Nonetheless, while listening to the radio interview I had this moment where Joe Poz kept saying the same thing over & over and I just thought, “Wow, the scandal part of the book might really suck. It feels so compromised.”

    Then a few days later, the book showed up at my doorstep from Amazon (a birthday present from my sister). Guess I’ll have to read it…

  43. “I see ball. I dive for ball. I look in front of me. No ball. I look behind me. No ball. I look in glove. Ball. I say: Rufino — you one lucky guy.”

    -Rufino Linares

  44. Guys, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately, today isn’t a good day. More details will be forthcoming, but right now it doesn’t look good.

    This isn’t something about Mac, is it?

  45. I’ve never met Mac but have been reading this blog daily for 20 years. I feel like crying, oh wait, I am….

  46. The Braves must have heard. The offense is in pre-emptive mourning.

    Thanks, AAR. I know this can’t be easy.

  47. What’s weird is that PETCO actually has the shortest distance to straight center of any park but Fenway. That wouldn’t have been a homer anywhere.

  48. That game completely changed when Prado got called out at first in the first inning. Even Dick freaking Enberg saw that he was safe.

    Not a religious person, but saying a prayer for Mac anyway.

  49. Bless you, Alex.
    We’ll be listening. Mac knows that every post you do is another way of saying “Go Braves!”

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