Braves 7, Giants 3

Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants – Box Score – August 25, 2012

Today maybe wasn’t a great day to be a Giants fan. Not only did they get beaten by the Braves, but the Los Angeles Dodgers completed their second-half makeover by absorbing literally all of the Red Sox’s bad contracts, sending over a couple of real actual prospects for $260 million worth of Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez. Crawford’s out with Tommy John, but Beckett’s probably capable of being a decent pitcher after moving from Fenway and the AL East to Chavez Ravine and the NL West, and upgrading James Loney with Adrian Gonzalez is worth a win or two over the next month by itself. That could be enough to put the Dodgers in the playoffs, which would put the Giants onto the wild card breadline, scrapping with the Braves, Cardinals, and Pirates for two spots.

Obviously, in the next few years, the Dodgers might regret paying hundreds of millions of dollars for Crawford, Beckett, Gonzalez, and Hanley Ramirez, not to mention the fact that the team’s $2 billion purchase price itself was probably an overpay. But flags fly forever, yadda yadda. Today’s trade may hamstring them in the future, but in the present it puts the Giants squarely behind the eight ball.

Jason Heyward homered for the second day in a row, and the Braves were able to tack on four more runs in 7th-9th innings, capped by two bases-loaded walks in the top of the 8th. Dan Uggla (need you ask?) went 0-4 with a walk. Mike Minor went 6 2/3, striking out five, walking no one, and allowing just four hits; he was credited with three runs, but two of those came when Chad Durbin came in and immediately allowed a two-run double, for a vaunted double Grybo, before getting out of the inning.

The seven runs the Braves scored today is their highest total since beating the Mets 9-3 on August 11. For the month, the Braves are 13-10, while the Nats (who lost today) are 16-7. That pretty much says it right there.

117 thoughts on “Braves 7, Giants 3”

  1. I propose another new stat ERAWOM (ERA While On Mound).It could also be called While In Game. The point is to indicate how pitchers’ ERA’s are impacted by runs allowed by others.

  2. Great win and especially against a tough lefty pitcher. Minor was terrific. Eight consecutive “quality starts” for him (not counting the one rain shortened start). He’s starting to grow on me. I am no fan of Fredi but he did well, leaving Minor in the rotation when he struggled earlier.

  3. Great win. The next 4 games will be awfully important. If we could split the Giatns series and take 2/3 from a hot San Diego team, we’d be in good shape.

    I like our schedule the rest of the way, but the real joke is the Cardinals’ schedule. Astros and Cubs all over the place. The toughest is probably the Dodgers’, they play the Cards (4), Nats (3), Giants (3) and Reds (3).

  4. Did ALL THE MONEY misplay the ball hit over his head on Minor’s last pitch? My expectations may be too high.

  5. re: last thread,

    I actually think Crawford isn’t done. He’s been hampered for awhile with this injury, and he should be back by May next season. Guys with his skill set age well, contrary to popular belief, and he should be a real asset in patrolling that big outfield. That’s going to be a good team next year, regardless of the silliness of the contracts. They can afford it.

  6. Looking ahead to 2013, I can’t see the Braves making an offer to Sheets. With Beachy already out for the majority of the season and questionable health going in with Hanson, paying Sheets to pitch baseballs would be a huge gamble, especially at the $ he would cost (I’d be willing to bet someone pays him 5-6 million). With that being said, are, or should the Braves be comfortable with Hudson, Medlen, Maholm, Minor, and Hanson/Delgao/Teheran? I think they should be. As much as I’d like to see Francisco become consistent and Gattis be the hitter everyone hopes him to be, I’d still rather that money go to Bourn and someone like Swisher over Greinke. Hanson might also bring a decent prospect or 2 in a trade if the Braves were to take that route.

  7. I would rather the team address its biggest need–starting pitching–than pay a 32-year old Nick Swisher 5 years/$90 million. That said, I’d like to see them bring Bourn back too, and I would advocate paying through the nose to do it.

  8. Mike Trout: 7.5 WAR in 104 games, leads the major leagues.

    The last player to win ROY and MVP in the same year was Ichiro. He was 27. The only other player to do it was Fred Lynn in 1975. He was 23. Mike Trout just turned 21 and is on pace for 28HR 124runs 87rbi and 50sb with a .952OPS to boot. Anyone see him not winning both?

  9. If Swisher would cost that much, then that would be an obvious no. I, however, don’t see him making that much, more like 5/65.

  10. Swisher says he wants a Werth like deal. Pass.
    I think that the team should gamble that they have enough pitching. Bourne should be priority one. The Braves dont have an heir apparent anywhere close and he may be the best of the FA options.

  11. There is a group of boys from just north of Nashville, Tn this afternoon that will take on Japan for the Little Legue World Series title. Go Goodlettsville!

  12. Bourn’s average has been falling steadily for awhile now. Not dramatically, but unmistakably.

    It will be interesting to see how he finishes the year.

    Did anyone else notice Ellsbury’s name mentioned with all the noise of the Dodgers / Red Sox trade?

    Wouldn’t mind seeing him in our outfield somewhere.

  13. Sox will lock up Ellsbury. Bourn, meanwhile, is an elite CF–basically anywhere from a 4.5 to 6.5-win player any given year. His other skills–defense, baserunning, and health–all make up for him being a merely good hitter. I’d sign him to a very large contract.

  14. I was at yesterday’s game and sat in the right field bleachers. Thank God the Braves pulled that one out because the Giants fans would have eaten our family alive.

    DG, do you live in the area or are you in CA on vacation? I grew up near the bay area and I was visiting my folks so I was glad the Bravos were in town.

  15. The Gilroy garlic fries are really cost-effective; they may cost $9 but you’ll be tasting them allll day.

  16. Who ever signs Bourn is flushing money down the toilet. All one has to do is look at Carl Crawford to see that guys with that skill set (i.e. everything is built on speed) are a very risky investment.

  17. I’d much rather trade for the last 2/$14 million of Willingham’s contract than mess around with five years of Swisher.

  18. All one has to do is look at Carl Crawford to see that guys with that skill set (i.e. everything is built on speed) are a very risky investment.

    False. Speedier players tend to age better than slow ones.

  19. I disagree with you, Ryan, and agree with mravery and Adam M. Crawford wasn’t a bad investment because of his speed/defense/gap power skillset. He was a bad investment because even at his established talent level it was an overpay, especially because the tiny Fenway left field would tend to negate much of his defensive value. But more importantly, virtually every single 7-year contract ever signed has eventually led to regret from the team that inked it.

    Crawford just had Tommy John surgery, which is rare among position players (obviously not unheard of, as Kelly Johnson had TJ surgery when he was a Brave); that injury is not obviously related to his skillset, and it’s probably not something that Bourn will face. Obviously, Crawford’s shortcomings as a player were revealed in 2011, when we all got to see what happens to a player most of whose offensive value is tied to his batting average. Bourn’s offense has been trending down for the last couple of months as his batting average has slid, but he’s remained a very valuable player because of his terrific center field defense.

    Now, as I said a few days ago, I think it’ll be impossible for us to retain Bourn at a worthwhile price. It’s very possible that he’ll go for $100 million or more, and hardly any player can be safely projected to earn that kind of dough without getting injured. But a speed/defense skillset typically ages much better than a power/slowness skillset.

    Bill James once offered a quick explanation of why. Assume that there’s a sort of minimum speed that you need to be able to play baseball: to run the bases, to play the field, to accomplish your daily tasks. Now assume that players tend to slow down as they get older and play longer. Slow players will therefore reach a point of being unable to play a lot sooner than fast players: think of Mo Vaughn, for example.

    The odds are very good that Bourn will remain a fine baseball player well into his 30s. And though he’s only 29, he was something of a late bloomer, so this is just his sixth full season. The odds are also good that Crawford will bounce back for the Dodgers once he returns from Tommy John; he won’t be worth the money they’re on the hook to pay him, but he’ll be a fine player — and very likely much better than Andre Ethier, whom they also stupidly overpaid this year.

    Considering our organizational lack of potential center fielders other than Jason Heyward — and considering his tendency toward injury, I’d rather not move him to a physically more demanding position — we’re going to need to look outside the organization for a solution in center field for 2013 and beyond. Bourn’s been spectacular for us, and I’d love if we could keep him for less than $90 million. I doubt we can. That being the case, I’d certainly be interested in a guy like Ellsbury.

    I’m always interested in change of scenery guys, like, for example, Domonic Brown, who clearly needs to get out of Philadelphia; he has really never received a fair shake there. I’m still interested in Colby Rasmus, who has been pretty bad since 2010, but is still just 26, is a Georgia native, and was a hell of a player when he was 24.

    In a market with an uneven distribution like the baseball free agent market, you pay a heavy surplus for certainty: you generally wind up paying more for a guy you know will give you 3 Wins Above Replacement than for a guy who could either bust or give you six WAR. We’re not a large-market team, so we can’t necessarily afford the certainty surplus. That’s why I often tend to advocate the gum-and-baling wire approach. That’s pretty much what Wren has done, most of the time, going after intriguing secondary options because he’s generally been unable to afford the free agent primary options.

  20. The speed guys do age better as a group. Bourn should be able to chase down more than his share of flyballs and take extra bases for a good while. I am concerned about how he’ll age as a hitter, mainly from his strikeout rate. Low power guys who strike out a lot do NOT age particularly well, because their skill set puts making contact at a premium.

  21. As they say at BP its the years not the dollars. That teams are still giving out 6 and 7 year deals shows the value of winning now. I agree with Alex. we dont have a realistic chance to sign Bourne but we should give it priority.

  22. Well, if he wants seven years, you have to pass. And if he wants $100 million, then, again, you may have to pass. But I’d do 5 years/$90 million for him, and he may not make much more than that on the open market. Guys with his skill set tend to be a bit undervalued.

  23. I’m not so sure we don’t have a realistic chance of signing Bourn. The Braves are loaded with cheap talent and have only 1 large contract. It just depends on how the Braves want to spend that money. If the Braves pick up McCann, Hudson, and Maholm’s options, and sign all of the arb-eligible guys, they should still have 25-30 million left. If they wanted to front-load the contract to offset rising arb costs for ’14&’15, they could very well do that. The following 21 (only 20 active) players should cost around 71 million total:
    Uggla, McCann, Hudson, Prado, Maholm, O’Flaherty, Janish, Kimbrel, Venters, Heyward, Freeman, Hanson, Beachy, Lisp, Medlen, Minor, Francisco, Avilan, Gearrin, Simmons, and Pastornicky

    That leaves holes in LF/3b, CF, backup C, 1 bench spot, 1 RP

    The Braves payroll was estimated recently (after the trade) to be in the neighborhood of 95 million. If it remains the same, there’s plenty of money. I’m still in the trade Hanson group. He might bring in an inexpensive LF under control for 1-2 years. That’d be nice!

  24. Adam, when you say that guys with his skill set tend to be undervalued, who are you thinking of in particular? I’m mostly thinking of the Carl Crawford and Jose Reyes contracts, both of which were more than $100 million. Obviously neither is exactly comparable to Bourn, but both make their reputations on speed, defense, and batting average more than power.

  25. Rob: Wife and I are on a weekend vacation, hitting SF, Napa, and Sacramento. We were really close to buying tickets in RF where we would have flipped the second and third K signs, but ended up finding some pretty good seats in section 122. The fans are really nice (at least to us they were), and we had a great time.

  26. AAR @ 29,

    I’m completely on board with your logic as to why speed/defensive players actually do age well, and let me add another tenet: We don’t have reliable stats to measure defense, and to a lesser extent, baserunning. On the other hand, we have a tremendous understanding of how good a player is offensively. Therefore, when players with speed and defense as their primary assets get older, we tend to disregard the stats that we don’t believe in as strongly, and look just at offensive stats, which are of course reduced for a speed/defense player as compared to a strictly offensive player.

    On the other hand, I disagree with Bill James’ logic. If there’s a minimum speed to play baseball, there’s also a minimum power level or bat speed or plate discipline to play. The argument works both ways; a player with tremendous speed may lose his bat speed before a power hitter loses his speed.

    Now, regarding Ryan’s point (and I know these comparisons are rarely fair, but I honestly will say this is the first one that came to mind):

    Player A
    Year 1: 6.0
    Year 2: 3.3
    Year 3: 4.3
    Year 4: 7.4
    Total: 21.0 WAR
    FA contract

    Player B
    Year 1: 4.9
    Year 2: 4.7
    Year 3: 4.2
    Year 4: 7.6
    Total: 21.4 WAR
    FA contract

    And yes, both players are the same age when they will sign their contract. Similar injury histories. What would you expect the market to pay player A (No cheating!)? What would you expect the market to pay player B?

  27. Power isn’t solely a function of bat speed, desert. Moreover, players actually tend to gain power as they get older — as they fill out more, gain more muscle, gain more experience with identifying pitches and hitting them on the screws, and so forth — which is why a young guy who’s powerful and slow is commonly said to have “old player skills.”

    I’d expect the market to pay a more for player B than for player A, because Player B appears to be a lot more consistent. I didn’t look the players up, but is this a Jayson Werth-Carl Crawford comparison?

  28. 33,

    I apologize for not clearing up my intent. The purpose to use ‘bat speed’ was to use a skill that’s primarily offensively based in opposition to speed or defense. If you make the sentence, “The argument works both ways; a player with tremendous game speed may lose his bat speed before a hitter with similar value but with bat speed as his primary tool will lose his game speed”. Or, “a player with (undervalued tool) may lose his (overvalued tool) before a hitter with similar value but with (overvalued tool) as his primary tool will lose his (undervalued tool)” That was the intent; it may still be wrong.

    Player A, who is a douche according to Tim Hudson, signed a 8 year/180 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees. (Mark Teixeira)

    Player B is Michael Bourn, with his WAR for this year based on how he’s projected to finish if he continues to play as he’s been doing all season long. The going rate among these parts for him (and I agree) seems to be 5 years/90 million. If that was offered to Teixeira, it would be considered a joke. If the 8/180 was offered to Bourn, it would be considered a joke. If it’s true that players with speed and defense age better than their offensive counterparts, then you would prefer to give the big money to player B, right? Even a low-ball offer to Teixeira would have started around 8 years/136 million. Does Bourn deserve that much?

    Anyway, the point is that the market (whether it should or shouldn’t) does undervalue players with Bourn’s skillset.

  29. Interesting point. You may be right. I still maintain that the market pays a surplus for consistency — but that surplus is almost certainly paid for offensive consistency alone, and therefore my point would be obscured by looking at yearly WAR totals, largely because there’s more noise in defensive stats.

    Mark Teixeira was a very consistent hitter before he signed with the Yankees; much more of the variation in WAR was caused by his defense than his offense. Meanwhile, much of Bourn’s increased value this year has been on offense. I definitely agree that Offensive WAR are valued much more highly than Defensive WAR.

    So, if you’ll allow me, I think we’re both right.

  30. Wow. Take away a few MPH on his fastball and Hanson–I mean Lincecum–looks completely ordinary. The Giants are on the hook for 22 million next year. And they no doubt consider themselves lucky (they could have been on the hook for a lot more).

  31. Forking TV talking heads. “Brian Sabean working with a limited budget, the Giants are not out there spending 120 million.”

    Yeah, that 2012 opening day payroll of 130 million isn’t 120…

  32. “Yeah, that 2012 opening day payroll of 130 million isn’t 120…”

    Well, technically…it isn’t.

  33. 73 — Correct :) But if they want to vomit out whatever queued up story they have about how Sabean is managing the team on his “limited” budget, at least get the damn numbers right.

  34. Every time I see Janish at the plate, even when, like this time, he manages to get a hit, I’m really glad there’s someone else coming in to play SS before the playoffs.

  35. Am I understanding correctly that Paul Janish just hit a ball such that allowed Brian McCann to score from 1st base?

  36. The Giants seem a lot less hate-worthy now than they were when visiting Atlanta. Like a certain left fielder is missing.

  37. Am I understanding correctly that Paul Janish just hit a ball such that allowed Brian McCann to score from 1st base?

    And he just laid down a nice bunt single. Perhaps B-Mac is aware that the hitting part of his game is in a malaise, so he’s compensating with speed.

  38. McCann gets on with a bunt single.

    Francisco draws a walk.

    What’s the least likely thing for Janish to do? He’s probably going to hit a three run home run.

  39. Nice to see the tributes to Chipper everywhere. Glad they got him in the game for a PH, even though Hudson had to come out.

  40. @92- Totally agreed. I don’t get to watch many games, and so I am blown away every time I see how he’s celebrated by the fans. The farewell tour has been awesome.

  41. My earlier post was going to say…”Clay Hensley looks like the kind of pitcher that Jason Heyward would own.” Oh well…

  42. I think our hitters had something they wanted to say tonight, along the lines of “We are indeed good enough to hit playoff pitching.”

  43. Slow-mo replay of Freddie’s HR really impressed me- looked like the ball actually got in on him a little and he still muscled it out.

  44. Hey, this may have been mentioned earlier, but:

    Today is the one year anniversary of the hurricane game in New York that started our miserable slide out of the playoffs.

  45. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing the core of the team built around J-Hey, Freddie, Simmons, Francisco (if he keeps hitting balls like that), Minor, Medlen, and Kimbrel. Get Evan Gattis in LF, find a suitable replacement for Bourn, trade Uggla and McCann, and see what happens…

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