IWOTM 4, Braves 2 (by W.C.G.)

Welp. If the Braves weren’t down to the AAA bullpen, they might have stolen this one.

For most of the night, the Braves appeared to be having One Of Those Games (TM). A junkballing, soft-tossing pitcher plus an umpire with an expansive definition of the strike zone is kryptonite to this Atlanta lineup, and both of those factors were in play tonight. Shaun Marcum pitched 7 innings and struck out 12 Braves, giving up but four hits and no walks along the way.

Fortunately, one of those hits was by Dan Uggla, who is a spiderweb-on-the-elbow tattoo away from actually being 2007 Andruw Jones. In the top of the seventh, Uggla took Marcum’s hanging changeup into the second deck in left field, driving in Justin Upton and putting the Braves up 2-1. Per ’07 Andruw, Uggla’s going to spend most of the season having just awful at-bats, but 25-30 of them are going to result in a ball wrapped around the right side of the left-field foul pole. Tonight marked #10.

Julio Teheran, who looks like the real thing right now, got through two-thirds of the seventh inning before giving way to Luis Avilan. Teheran went 6 2/3, gave up five hits (one solo homer) and three runs walks, and kept the Braves in position to win even when Marcum was mowing through a dozen-plus Braves in a row. Avilan threw one pitch, and then the wheels came off.

After Gerald Laird led the top of the eighth off with a single, Fredi (as is his wont) decided it was time to bunt.

Rather than leave Avilan in to do that job, he brought in Ramiro Pena, whose bunt went straight back to the pitcher and erased Laird on a fielder’s choice. (Laird was running for himself, though by the end of the game Schafer and two catchers still had eligibility remaining. Just saying.) The Pena decision burned both an out and the most- effective remaining setup man, and

Upon relieving Avilan for Teheran, he had double-switched in Ramiro Pena to play third base, so Pena was up second in the inning. The bunt wasn’t great and Laird, for some reason running for himself after Fredi had decided to play for one run in the inning, was an easy out at second. With one out and the force out still on, Andrelton Simmons grounded into a double play, and that was the end of that rally.

But at least that double switch saved Avilan from having to come out after one pitch – what’s that you say? Fredi took him out and had Gearrin start the eighth? My original version of the recap glossed over the entire double switch because the sequence of events (Avilan for one pitch in the 7th, Pena bunting in the pitcher’s spot in the bottom of the inning, Gearrin coming in to pitch the 8th) played like a traditional pinch-hit (pinch-bunt?), as if Fredi called for a double switch and then willfully set out to negate that decision. Meanwhile, Laird ran for himself when two catchers were on the bench and Jordan Schafer wasn’t doing anything else. Just a weird sequence of decisions all around. Anyway, Cory Gearrin was brought in to get… the leadoff hitter? David Wright, batting second in the eighth inning? Everyone?

The answer, unfortunately, was “everyone.” Gearrin was all over the place, but Fredi left him in for Turner (single), Wright (strikeout), Duda (ground rule double), Buck (single), Baxter (hit by pitch), Davis (single), and Tejada (fielder’s choice; there was a caught stealing mixed in there that made him the third out.) It was 4-2 by the end of that inning, and the Braves went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to make that the final score.

It’s aggravating because it feels like the Braves should have stolen this one, but in the end they took two out of three at Citi and still lead the division by 4.5 games. The bullpen is officially a major thing, though. Fredi’s management of it was not the best, but it’s also not like he’s got a plethora of great options back there with four key dudes on the DL. Eventually, lesser relievers are going to get exposed, and that’s what happened tonight.

The big winner tonight was Timothy Miller, that dude from the Atlanta Opera who puts on a tux and sings “God Bless America” at Turner Field on Sundays during the seventh inning stretch. Compared to what the Mets ran out there, Timothy’s easily worth 7 stretches above replacement value.

159 thoughts on “IWOTM 4, Braves 2 (by W.C.G.)”

  1. Pena didn’t pinch hit for Avilan. He had come in as part of a double switch when Teheran was yanked. It made the fact that Avilan didn’t start the 8th even less defensible.

  2. Teheran didn’t give up three runs, and Pena didn’t pinch hit. Otherwise, excellent recap. Andruw hit .222 in ’07, I doubt Uggla can top that.

  3. Wait. I was listening to the radio broadcast, so i must have missed that. Fredi DOUBLE-SWITCHED a pitcher into the game, a move whereby you burn a position player, to save a pitcher from being pinch hit out of the game, but then he didn’t run the pitcher back out there?

    What in the world is going on in the dugout? Are they eating magic mushrooms or something? Why double switch and take your pitcher out? I mean, sure, you want a better defensive 3B out there, whatever. But now you’ve tied your hands as to who will hit second in the next inning, when you don’t even know the situation yet. If laird had made an out, you really want Pena up with 1 out and none on, instead of Schafer to start something, or Gattis or McCann to park one?

  4. Wow, I didn’t watch. This is the third game in the very recent past the Braves’ bullpen blew it in the eighth inning. O’Flaherty’s absence is already looking like a big problem.

    Really hope Wren doesn’t wait until the Braves lose three games they should have won to do something.

  5. @4 But the thing is….it’s too early to have anything significant being available in the trade market.

  6. 3- On that note, it would have made more sense to pinch-run Pena for Laird and use McCann/ El Oso as the pinch-hitter.

  7. Also, yeah, forgot Avilan/Pena had been double-switched into the game. Taking Avilan out after one pitch is even sillier than I had first considered, given that your entire reason for double-switching him in is to keep his spot in the lineup from coming up between innings he’ll be pitching…

  8. The double switch wasn’t about the pitcher, it was about defense at 3B. He brought Avilan in to get out of the seventh and double switched to get Pena in for defense at 3B. He put Pena in the 9th spot and the new pitcher in Juan Francisco spot, so he didn’t have a pitcher coming up for 8 more batters.

    Complain about not using Avilan for more than one batter if you like, but the double switch was not premised on getting another inning out of Avilan. It was premised on getting a better defender into the game at 3B while moving your pitcher out of the lineup the next two innings.

  9. The Braves have grown accustom to having surplus lefties in the pen and its biting them in the ass. Last night, Fredi managed like O’Flaherty was available after Avilan, negating Gearrin’s true purpose as a reliever: Roogy. Avilan probably should have remained in the game with Gearrin to come on if Avilan were to find trouble with a rhh.

    With that being said, there doesn’t seem to be a solution on the farm, with the exception of Alex Wood whom the Braves seem reluctant to call upon his services right now. I’m sure they were expecting more from Daniel Rodriguez but he has been incredibly inconsistent. One solution may be to put Gilmartin in the pen but I’m not sure how realistic that option is at the moment.

    A player to keep an eye on: Ian Thomas. We signed him out of the Indy leagues and he has pitched quite well at Mississippi, striking out 41 in 26 innings with a minuscule ERA.

  10. It could be argued that Juan is easily our 3rd best hitting 3b right now. There really is no need for the guy. He’s a platoon player that can’t get on base at a .300 clip against primarily RH’d pitching.

    38 AB in May – 158/.238/.263 18k

  11. @13

    I agree. With Pena and Schafer on the bench we don’t have to have another lefty. He we need power in the late innings, we are going to use Gattis no matter who the pitcher is.

    Pena/Johnson platoon looks better than a Fat Juan/Johnson platoon.

  12. We lost a game we were ahead 2-1 going into the bottom of the 8th, and our best bullets Gattis, McCann and Kimbrel didn’t even get loaded into the chamber.

    And I know Fredi was salivating at the possibility that a bunt situation would arise when he was pondering his double switch opportunities. Well, he got his bunt opportunity. Gee whiz.

    Why you wouldn’t pinch-run Success for Fredi Laird is beyond me. And why you wouldn’t want to play for a big inning against Latroy Hawkins is similarly beyond me. Let Pena swing away.

    Or better yet, start freakin’ Gattis so we’d have a better shot at being ahead 5-1 in the 8th instead of 2-1. Laird should not be getting anymore starts. His role should be defensive replacement, pinch hitter, third catcher on the bench, so McCann and Gattis can do their things.

    Having three catchers on your team is only a plus if you maximize the best two hitters among them. Any time we add a L to the standings that neither Gattis nor McCann play in, Fredi should have to answer for it.

  13. You really can’t afford to start both Laird, and fat Juan in the same lineup. It’s even worse when you have Juan/BJ/Laird and pitcher occupying the bottom 4 spots.

  14. Laird has to play some, but Gattis has to play 3-4 days a week. We can’t have both McCann and Gattis on the bench very often

    Hey, we get two days with the DH. I imagine Larid will catch both games and McCann will DH. Just Fredi messing with us.

  15. I am not a one to panic, but it may be time for BJ to go on the fake DL. If this guy isn’t hurt, then his brain could use a week or so off.

  16. BA of yesterday’s starting lineup at the end of the game:
    .240
    .163 (!)
    .272
    .288
    .190 (!)
    .245
    .148 (!)
    .267
    .278 (pitcher)

    Hell, I could get these guys out. Something’s got to change in a hurry.

  17. Juan has played himself off the team, in my opinion. He’s only facing righties and he still can’t hit or get on base.

  18. Juan has played better than Jason and BJ…just to put the collective suck into perspective.

  19. Good news. I asked DOB and hes says Fredi will play Gattis the next two days. One at DH and one at catcher.

  20. @22 Well, everyone except for Ike Davis has played worse than those two. You have to let them play and turn it around, but Juan doesn’t get that much rope. We have too many black holes in the offense to not play Gattis and McCann as much as possible.

  21. Juan isn’t stealing time from Gattis or McCann. I still think the guy can hit, and will hit. Giving up on him means you are all-in on Chris Johnson. No thanks. The platoon is working fine.

    When was the last time Reed Johnson played at all? There’s an expendable part that can be replaced by a reliever, if you are looking to make changes.

    Like you said, they aren’t sitting Heyward or BJ, so we just have to hope they turn it around. What else can we do? I think if we were 5 games out then you might see Schafer play for a week – but we’re in first.

  22. Did Avilan come out to warm up in the eighth, and then got replaced when the righty PH was announced? Then the move makes sense — you know you want Gearrin facing Wright, who was due up second, no matter what, so you might as well get the platoon advantage on the first batter, too.

  23. @26 No Juan isn’t stealing time from the catchers, but Juan is awful and you’re forgetting about Pena, who has actually been hitting well from the left side. My point is the rest of the lineup has a lot of bad hitters who have to play to work things out and he’s not one of them.

  24. Sansho@27 – Yes. Here’s the play-by-play of the bottom of the 8th. This is after Avilan and Pena were double switched in for the last batter of the 7th.

    Bottom 8

    Offensive Substitution: Pinch-hitter Justin Turner replaces LaTroy Hawkins.

    Pitching Change: Cory Gearrin replaces Luis Avilan, batting 6th.

    1.Justin Turner singles on a ground ball to center fielder B. Upton.

    2.David Wright strikes out swinging.

    3.Lucas Duda hits a ground-rule double (9) on a line drive to left field. Justin Turner to 3rd.

    4.John Buck singles on a line drive to left fielder Justin Upton. Justin Turner scores. Lucas Duda to 3rd.

    Offensive Substitution: Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter replaces Marlon Byrd.

    5.Mike Baxter hit by pitch. John Buck to 2nd.

    Coaching visit to mound.

    6.Ike Davis singles on a ground ball to right fielder Jason Heyward. Lucas Duda scores. John Buck scores. Mike Baxter to 2nd.

    With Ruben Tejada batting, Mike Baxter caught stealing 3rd base, catcher Gerald Laird to third baseman Ramiro Pena.

    7.Ruben Tejada grounds into a force out, shortstop Andrelton Simmons to second baseman Dan Uggla. Ike Davis out at 2nd.

  25. As for the complaints about Gerald Laird playing, Laird is going to catch every game Julio Teheran pitches until such time as Teheran stops improving with every outing. I know you guys hate the conventional wisdom of “baseball men” but you probably ought to consider exactly why so many people around the game accept as true the notion that a veteran catcher who knows how to call a game is useful and helpful to a rookie pitcher breaking into the league. You might even consider if this is something that someone else might know a little more about than you.

    Just a thought.

  26. Thanks Sam. Then my only problem is calling for the bunt. But that’s well-trod ground at this point.

  27. @28, it’s the rest of the lineup that bothers me. The 3B platoon is working great – we have to be near the top of the league in 3B offensive production. I’d be OK with Pena getting some more time against righties – he’s earned it.

    We can’t go all season with the negative value of CF and RF canceling out whatever Justin does. At least I hope not. The Braves brass is going to have an interesting situation on their hands if both Jason and BJ are still hitting way below .200 in August.

  28. Well, and Justin is slumping pretty hard right now too. Hard to believe we thought this would be the best outfield in the NL at the start of the season, eh?

  29. Yeah, you can nibble around the edges about the bunt call, or if you want to go the full-SABR critique, complain that Gearrin came in rather than Kimbrel. Assuming Kimbrel was available, you can make a strong case that you want him facing the heart of the order (Wright, Duda, Buck) and you should bring him in and take your chances on Gearrin or another reliever getting the three outs in the ninth against the much weaker bottom half of the Mets’ lineup.

    But Avilan came out to pitch the 8th, and then was switched out when they pinch hit with Turner.

  30. It is somewhat amusing to me that the same group of folks where were more or less apoplectic about Jose Constanza starting ahead of a completely discombobulated Jason Heyward in 2011 are looking to bench BJ Upton because of a bad start to 2013. (Yeah, painting with a broad brush there, I know, but you get the point.)

    The only person who has earned a starting slot ahead of Upton in the outfield is Jordan Schafer.

    Evan Gattis really hasn’t shown that he should be doing much more than starting against LHP, mostly as the backup catcher, and pinch hitting.

    Gerald Laird brings real value to games where he catches Julio Teheran, even though that value is difficult to aggregate in spreadsheet form.

    Arguing for Ramiro Pena to start on the basis of something like 12 at bats or whatever isn’t exactly SABR-tastic analysis.

  31. Oh, and a seven game “slump” is probably not a rational reason to be questioning the league leader in HR with the 957 OPS in LF.

  32. @36 Who’s questioning him? He’s had a mediocre month, there’s no sin in pointing it out. No one is saying he should be playing any less, but he is not playing well enough to carry the other two anymore and that means that Schafer might should see a few more starts between the other two. “Slumping” Justin is lightyears better than Jason and BJ.

    And you can’t really say that Laird is bringing value to catching Teheran because there’s no one else to compare him with. Was it Laird’s fault when Teheran got off to a rocky start? You can’t claim he should be credited for his turnaround and ignore that he was also catching those early games too.

  33. If I’m Teheran I’d want the best hitting lineup out there, not the Sunday B-squad during every single one of his starts.

  34. @30 Isn’t McCann a veteran catcher? That argument for Laird made sense when it was just him or Gattis. It’s no longer just him or Gattis.

  35. 40-Exactly. McCann IS our veteran catcher. Starting Laird meant leaving two of our three best hitters on the bench.

    I am way past arguing about received logic vis-a-vis use of the closer, but another reason to bring in Kimbrel in the eighth (if not from the start then at least once it became clear that Gearin didn’t have it) is that it means we are less likely to have to face Parnell in the top of the ninth. With the heart of the order up there is a decent chance that we tack on a few more runs. But as bad as the Mets bullpen is, Parnell is nasty.

  36. rather than complain about the bunt, someone explain to me why Laird was left in to run with Schaffer on the bench sitting between 2 catchers.

  37. That’s fair, Bethany.

    Laird and Teheran are working well together. Again, I know it’s not something quantifiable, per se, so it’s something we internet hordes tend to dismiss, but I assure you there’s a reason for him starting with Teheran every game. We dismiss these things to easily from our numbers driven, internet analysis loving perches. It could be something as simple as both of them speaking fluent Spanish (which can’t be said of McCann) so they are just “on the same page.”

    The problem to fix is CF and RF. 3B is a functional platoon, and we’re fine at C regardless of who is starting. Fix BJ and Jason and you’re absolutely fine with Laird catching the first six or seven innings of a Teheran start and McCann or Gattis pinch hitting if needed.

    @42 – I don’t know. Laird’s not as slow as he looks like he should be, but otherwise I’m not really sure why you wouldn’t pinch run for him there.

  38. @42 – Managers don’t like to burn through their bench too much when they are ahead, except for defensive purposes.

    If you’re not going to bat for Laird, you’re probably not going to run for him once he gets on base. But Laird got on, so that particular line of second guessing hasn’t caught on today.

  39. Wow, look at that putrid Nats lineup today. They have no bench whatsoever. Even with a couple of guys slumping, Braves have it good compared to that. Heyward will hit, Bupton not so sure. Schafer absolutely should get more playing time. Playing guys who suck just because they make more money is really stupid.

  40. Didn’t McCann catch Teheran a couple of starts ago, right after he came back? If I recall correctly, Teheran pitched a great game that day. I think he was fine, throwing to McCann.

  41. Yes, McCann caught Teheran on May 9. Teheran allowed three runs in 7 innings, McCann went 3-5 with a homer and 3 RBIs, and the Braves beat the Giants 6-3. Laird has caught Teheran in his other eight starts this year.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN201305090.shtml

    In his four starts in 2011-2012, David Ross caught him twice and Brian McCann caught him twice.

    Sam, are you sure that Laird speaks Spanish? He’s Mexican-American, but this article seems to suggest that he doesn’t speak Spanish.

  42. @42

    It’s the old Cox theory on pinch-running — if you’re going to sac bunt, a good bunt should get even a slow runner to second, while a bad one can result in a forceout of even a fast one, in which case you’ve burned your pinch-runner for nothing. So he would leave in the slow runner, and if the sacrifice worked he would pinch-run for the slow guy on second base. If it didn’t work, and the bunter was also a slow runner, he’d sometimes pinch-run for him on first.

    It’s debatable, to say the least. But there’s a long precedent for the Braves doing it.

  43. Nats losing to Baltimore 4-1 in the sixth.

    While we usually get perenially hosed by the interleague schedule makers, this year’s set of “natural rival” games puts Washington against a tough Baltimore team for four, the Phillies for 4 against a tough Boston club, and the Mets for 4 against the Yankees – while we get four against last place Toronto. The caveat is that Toronto seems to be playing a shade better lately than in April.

  44. Sam, are you sure that Laird speaks Spanish? He’s Mexican-American, but this article seems to suggest that he doesn’t speak Spanish.

    The short answer is “no, I don’t know if Laird speaks Spanish or not.” I’m not more privy to the clubhouse and player personalities than anyone else on this board. But I suspect that a second generation Mexican-American from California is going to be functionally bilingual. I think the article you link to is George Lopez being a comedian and teasing Laird about his hometown more than it’s an indication of his not speaking Spanish.

    Lopez chatted for several minutes with Miguel Cabrera. Lopez tried on a helmet normally worn by Avisail Garcia. Lopez joked with some of the players, teasing Gerald Laird for not speaking Spanish.

    “He’s from Redondo Beach (Calif.),” Lopez said of Laird. “Nobody speaks Spanish in Redondo Beach. At Mexican restaurants they order by numbers.”

    This article about the from a few years ago seems to indicate that Laird is part of the bilingual group of Rangers, including Michael Young, who go out of their way to make it easy for ESL players to acclimate as they come to the States and come to the Majors.

    Again, I’m not claiming some more complete knowledge than anyone else. Really, all I’m doing is asking “why would a management and coaching staff whose jobs depend on the best results imaginable from this team make these decisions?” And then I try to find a possible answer that doesn’t rely on “because Fredi is a big fat stoopid dummy-head.”

    A major league start is more than just walking out to the mound and throwing the pitch the catcher flashes for you. There’s pre-game film sessions on batters. There’s meetings and talking through how you want to attack a hitter, what situation you want to go at him directly, what if any pitch you want to hold in reserve the first or second time through in case you need a new wrinkle in a late, crunch-time at bat. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to think “Gerald Laird is Mex-American and probably speaks Spanish, and Julio Teheran left Columbia only three years ago.”

  45. @51 – Toronto was picked to be the best team in that division after the trade where Loria sent every major leaguer not named Giancarlo Stanton to the Blue Jays. Baseball is a funny game.

  46. Where has it been established Fredi Laird speaks Spanish? If that’s so, that will mute some of my criticism. Regardless, with Gattis a budding superstar, and McCann playing up to his immense ability, Fredi has to start thinking about transferring whatever it is that is so special Laird has over to McCann. I can’t believe for a second that Laird brings something so irrevocable to the table that playing time for two of our best hitters has to be forsaken. (Unless its something like Spanish, but even then, Julio’s gotta drop the security blanket at some point.)

    The point in all these machinations is to win. We did not win last night.

  47. Our failure to win last night had nothing to do with Gerald Laird.

    EDIT: To be clear, the Braves lost last night because Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman went 0-8 with 7Ks and Cory Gearrin couldn’t get outs in the 8th.

  48. Judging by twitter I’d say Julio’s English is better than Chipper Jones’. He often tweets in Spanish, but he also has no problem tweeting in idiomatic, grammatical English (or Spanish and English).

    The only argument Fredi ever gave for matching him up with Laird is that Teheran and Gattis were both rookies and that seemed like a bad idea. Now McCann is back and I suspect Fredi’s logic is that Laird needs an occasional start, so it might as well be to catch the guy he has some rapport with. But if the chips are down, like we are tied with the Nats on the last day of the season and Teheran is pitching, even Fredi is going to put McCann out there.

  49. @57 – Fair points. Like I said, I’m just thinking through reasons why Laird and Teheran might work well together, and some slightly shared “Hispanic culture” or language might be part of it. Mostly, I’m just suggesting that there’s a reason there, and it comes down to something more than “because Fredi is stupid and can’t do anything right.”

    I also don’t mind the idea that your rookie catcher and your starting catcher who has a strong history of wearing down as the summer wears on get regular days off in the early going. If the team were 4.5 back rather than 4.5 up, I might be more worried about it. But up nearly 5 games 50 games in… Give McCann a breather and let Teheran pitch to the guy that he’s had success with. You’ve always got the Bear on the bench if needs be.

  50. I have a friend from El Paso born to Mexican parents. Her Spanish is really lousy.

  51. Laird may not have lost the game but he didn’t help us win. Can it honestly be said Gattis and McCann haven’t been instrumental to our winning during our streak? And yet they both sat.

  52. Blah, blah, blah, we lost. Some people didn’t play well, some decisions didn’t work out, rinse, lather, repeat.

    Bring on the next of 162 games.

  53. Ideally, Gattis and McCann are used to rest each other and Laird is just a guy who rots on the bench but is nevertheless useful in that he allows both slugging catchers to sometimes be in the same lineup (with Gattis at LF or 1B) or at least available to pinch hit.

    But you are right, starting Laird had a certain kind of logic and it’s far from the most egregious thing Fredi is likely to do and we might have lost anyway with McCann in the lineup.

  54. I think Sam is probably on to something re: Laird and Teheran, but I think the bottom line here is that we’ve got management looking for ways to justify carrying three catchers. In the end does it really matter who the last two guys off the bench are? We should honestly be heaping praise on the Braves’ decisions to keep Gattis on the roster at all. You can make an airtight case for him to be catching every day in Gwinnett, waiting for 2014 to take over the starting job. The fact that we’re not doing that means that everyone is on board with “2013 is a good chance to win it all” meme.

  55. Sam, I was one of the people going crazy over the Constanza/Heyward stuff two years ago. I cop to that. But I also don’t think BJ should be benched for Schafer. I could see a possible platoon if things don’t improve – and if Schafer somehow keeps hitting – but I think BJ gives the team a better chance to be great and needs to work through this. And I remain skeptical of Schafer’s bat, and disgusted with his defense.

    As for Pena, he is thriving as a utility infielder. Let him stay there. I doubt anybody sabr-oriented is advocating for Pena to start regularly, fwiw.

    I might take heat for this, but I actually think Fredi is doing a decent job. My main gripe is with the bunts, but otherwise I think he’s using his bench well, getting by with a rag-tag pen, and giving his guys the opportunity to play through slumps. You would never know the team is 30-19 if you read only this board.

  56. I can’t believe I am about to type this, but for this one day I am actually a fan of the DH. Why, you ask? Because I’m headed to the ballpark this evening, and I know for a motherf*&#ing fact that I am going to see me some Oso Blanco.

  57. Shawn Marcum, RHP:
    vs RHB: 267/309/347
    vs LHB: 322/379/492

    Evan Gattis, RHB:
    vs RHP: 226/270/505

    Gerald Laird, RHB:
    vs RHP: 375/444/417

    So, assume you’re not starting McCann for whatever reason, and then assume the opposing pitcher is right handed. Do you start the rookie masher phenom with the SLG heavy 775 OPS against RHP, or do you start the on-base happy veteran with OBP heavy 861 OPS vs RHP?

    If you’re a fanboy, you start the slugger, because you don’t bother to look at the cross tabs.

    (Admittedly, the phrase “assume you’re not starting McCann” is doing some heavy lifting there, but the point is that if it’s a question of which of your backup catchers should play against a RHP on McCann’s off day, the sabermetric answer is Gerald Laird.

    You hold The Bear on the bench until a LHP comes in to relieve, and then you unleash him.

  58. If I’m me I start the guy with the SLG because SLG > OBP and I don’t care how many studies attempt to prove me wrong, I’m gonna stick with that line of thinking. Especially slow-ass catcher OBP. Great, you walked. It still takes three more hits to score you ;-)

  59. Oh, just another note about Juan. Chris Johnson hits righties better than lefties, historically.

    @67 People are saying McCann should have started last night, not Gattis.

  60. @68 – I respect your willingness to stick by your gut against the numbers, but just to be pedantic, if you’re walking the saber line, 1 point of OBP is worth 1.4 points of SLG, though admittedly that will be slightly different in lower run scoring environments. (That is to say, in a low run scoring environment, the ratio will approach 1:1, though still likely be weighted towards OBP. Not making outs is important.)

    (Not having your #2 and #4 LH sluggers K 7 out of 8 plate appearances against Shawn Fucking Marcum is even more important.)

  61. I get that people wanted to see McCann vs. the RHP. I don’t really argue otherwise. But Gerald Laird is Julio Teheran’s personal caddy for whatever reason, and given Teheran’s development into the second best pitcher on the team this month (behind only Minor) I can’t argue with that decision either.

    We didn’t score any runs last night because Heyward and Fre-Fre air conditioned the stadium against a guy they should have mashed.

  62. I was mad about Jason being benched for Constanza two years ago, and I’d be mad about BJ being benched for Schafer this year. If a player is slumping because he’s injured, I think he should be taken out to get healthy. But if a player is slumping because he’s just not in the zone, I think the only way to get through it is to play through it.

    I just don’t really see what Laird does better than McCann or Gattis. I think that Sam’s onto something — Fredi probably sees that Teheran and Laird appear to get along well and is unwilling to rock the boat — but I think that another part of it is even simpler. Frank Wren gave Fredi Gonzalez 25 players to work with, and Fredi is basically trying to find a role for Laird on the team. Personally, I believe that McCann or Gattis should start every single game, and that Laird doesn’t deserve a start a week, but it doesn’t keep me up at night. Clearly, we need another arm in the bullpen, and I’m hoping that Walden can be that man.

    But I think that the only way Jason and BJ will start hitting is for them to keep seeing the ball, working on adjustments, and going out and getting ’em the next day.

  63. BJ is now, where Jason was after he came back from the injury in 2011. Both were/are trying to do quite possibly the most difficult thing in all of professional sports; to tear down and rebuild their swing mechanics entirely, while facing Major League pitchers every night.

  64. Bethany @ 72: Just the opposite. If you have sluggers up and down the lineup, you want to maximize the OBP in front of them if you can.

    At this point, Evan Gattis should never start against a RHP, not with Laird and McCann both available.

  65. Orioles over the Nats 6-2 this afternoon. Got a chance to take it back to 5.5 tonight.

  66. @73, when the results were as they were last night, it ought to open the discussion on whether Laird merits any more starts, caddy or otherwise. It’s not his fault, but with BJ, Uggla and Heyward turding it up, it’s a luxury we cannot afford. Our offense needs every edge it can get, and for the three-catcher scenario to be productive, Gattis or McCann need to be starting. Laird fills the role of Jerry Willard.

  67. Yes, Laird could easily take on Reed Johnson’s current role of good luck charm. Again, we have a guy on the team that never ever plays…ever. There’s some room to tinker with that. If he’s not going to play with 2/3rds of the OF shitting the bed every night, then when is he going to play?

  68. I still don’t understand why people are hating on Gerald Laird so much. To date his crime seems to be “he has a much less interesting back story than Evan Gattis.” He’s actually been quite good offensively, and better than Gattis by a significant degree against RHP. If you’re going to relegate one of your three catchers to super-sub, it’s Gattis. Start him against RHP when Teheran’s not pitching, or if you want to get him in at 1B to spot Freeman or in the OF to spot Heyward against tough lefties.

    Under no circumstance do the numbers suggest that you should punt defense or comfort for your rookie starting pitcher to get Gattis at bats against RHP.

  69. If he trade Laird who is replacement from Minor. If Success! turns into a pumpkin who besides Reed is available? George Constanta?

  70. Sam, “punt defense” seems a little strong, considering all of the poor defense that my lyin’ eyes have seen out of Laird this season. And I’m not sure that I’d say that his bat has been “good,” exactly; he’s batting .267/.340/.311, pretty much a wash compared to his career numbers of .245/.304/.358.

    This year, he’s killed righties to the tune of .375/.444/.417, but that has occurred in a grand total of 24 plate appearances, and in his career he’s batting .242/.297/.346 against RHP.

    Also, not that it’s in any way dispositive, but Evan Gattis is at 1.6 UZR this year, while Laird is at 1.0 UZR. I am not trying to use the numbers to say that Gattis is defensively better than Laird. I’m just not sure that you can use this year’s performance to say that Laird is a defensive improvement over Gattis. Gerald has looked awfully uncomfortable back there at times, and he really hasn’t done much with the bat beyond a few notable clutch hits. I’m not saying he’s a worthless player. But I do believe that he is redundant to this team, and I think we’d be better served to have an additional reliever than a 3rd catcher.

  71. @80 should read “start him against LHP when McCann’s not pitching.”

    I think the Braves should do the following to the degree that the schedule allows:

    Play McCann three out of every five starts.

    Play Laird when Teheran starts.

    Play Gattis against LHP the other start, and spot start him at 1B and LF against other LHP where possible. Gattis should not play LF when Minor, a fly ball pitcher, is on the mound.

    That effectively rests McCann so he’s strong down the stretch. It keeps Gattis in the lineup against LHP, and it let’s Laird continue to work with Teheran.

    It would be best if they tweaked the rotation occasionally to make sure Teheran was usually facing an opposing starter who throws righty.

  72. When I said “punt defense” I was referring to Gattis’ starts in LF, not his starts behind the plate. I agree that Gattis is Laird’s equivalent as a defensive catcher, to date. And the fact that Laird’s 2013 is an outlier vs RHP is noted also.

    I do think there’s value in Laird catching Teheran, and I think that’s the only time we should see Laird play.

  73. @57

    Judging by twitter I’d say Julio’s English is better than Chipper Jones’

    This is the post of the day!

  74. I think on the face of it I’m with Harper – how does feet first sliding help an injured knee?

  75. I’m shocked Haarper doens’t slide on every play. Even when he strikes out or on balls not hit to him.

  76. Maybe – I’d think jamming your foot into the bag doesn’t seem like a better option, and you land on the other knee just as hard, if not harder.

  77. @91 I would think that when you slide feet first, your knee is bent and it’s easier to handle the impact. Your knee is all locked up and flexed, whereas when you go headfirst your kneecap is just floating there.

    But I’m just taking a guess, I’ve got no idea which is “worse” on your knees.

  78. For the record, I don’t hate Laird. I also don’t think he’s valueless. But his value is based primarily in that it frees up other players to play, and it gives the manager an extra tool to maximize his available talent. I think he’s a plus on the roster inasmuch as it would allow Fredi to start Gattis and/or McCann every day and not worry about the “No 3rd Catcher Apocalypse” that would occur should in some extreme situation we use one of our great hitting catchers to pinch hit.

    But he becomes a negative with games like last night is all I’m saying. Bethany pointed out earlier, why does Teheran constantly draw the B-team roster? We do want this kid to win, right? He pitched a pretty good game last night but doesn’t have a W to show for it. If we’re talking psychology, that plays into it, too, right?

    It’s possible the Spanish thing might be a plus for Laird, but based on the limited evidence available I’m very skeptical. And the “veteran catcher” tag is damned well moot now that McCann is back in the lineup. In fact, it’s an insult to say “veteran catcher” applies to Laird regarding Julio, and that it’s not something that McCann could get up to speed with if given the task.

    This question jumps to mind: When was the last time a team had three catchers and also gave all three regular starts? And one of those catchers was a highly paid All-Star and cornerstone of the team? It’s absurd when you think about it.

  79. @67 Holy SSS Batman. Gerald Laird has a career .304 OBP, which is far more predictive of his performance going forward than his 52 PAs this year. I’ll take the slugging rookie.

  80. @94 – I’ll take the guy that’s putting up the better production at the moment. A player at a given moment can not be reduced to broad spectrum career numbers.

    Julio Teheran doesn’t draw the “B team” lineup. He got the regular starters, with the LH half of the 3B platoon against the RHP, and his personal catcher.

    Again, to repeat the obvious, fix CF and RF and this is all moot.

  81. Sam, I love ya (and agree with you most of the time) but this is Memorial Day and anyone who defends putting BJ Upton in the lineup after what we’ve seen is crazy.

    The dude is broken. What the hell Wren was thinking is anyone’s guess. The world’s most expensive wingman?

    This makes the DLowe signing look visionary.

  82. @95 “I’ll take the guy that’s putting up the better production at the moment.”

    Oh, well in that case, here’s the last week:

    Gattis: .375/.444/1.125
    Laird: .143/.143/.143

    Too short? The last month:

    Gattis: .262/.303/.541
    Laird: .200/.273/.200

    What was it someone said earlier? Oh, right, “I respect your willingness to stick by your gut against the numbers.”

  83. And Laird is not – in any way – the problem. If Gattis was still sweeping floors and eating peyote we’d be happy to have him.

    BJ is the problem. And – just maybe, Lord I hope not – Heyward.

  84. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a club playing .612 baseball on Memorial Day, despite significant challenges offensively and in the bullpen. Fredi has earned a good piece of the credit, IMO. I think I’d rather focus on the things that he and the team have done well to get us to this stage. Whatever one may say about playing time allocation, the only metric that counts is wins. I think you have to give the man and the club as currently constructed the benefit of the doubt until they stop coming.

  85. It’s the baseball equivalent of a First World problem to be able to discuss the production of Gattis, McCann, and even Laird sharing one position (and parts of others). Part of the difficulty is that all three of them have been productive enough at the plate that you don’t have to sit any one of them or hide them in the lineup, and can’t really point to long slumps to disqualify any of them.

    Andrelton Simmons, on the other hand…

  86. I don’t mind laird catching Teheran. I do mind us sticking Juan at 3B and stuck in the bottom of the lineup with BJ and Laird hitting after him. Johnson and Pena both are better players than Juan..

  87. I’m not even surprised anymore. It’s just sad watching Hudson right now.

  88. Per an earlier post about OBP vs. SLG, I think the name “On Base Percentage” is misleading as to the true value of the stat. I think the name should reflect the idea that “on base” means “not an out” and should be rebranded as OAP: Out Avoidance Percentage.

  89. Tim Hudson has something to say about that “Beachy to the bullpen” idea.

  90. Also, for those wondering (and I know you all are): BJ Upton is leading the league in infield fly percentage, while Andrelton Simmons is 6th. That’s… not good.

  91. 113- And GameDay’s Scout notes that hitters are batting .318 after Hudson’s 45th pitch (compared to .252 before).

    Joey Bats didn’t really need to show us that object lesson.

    Edit: Neither did Encarnacion.

  92. I think Rasmus and Carpenter may get plenty of work today on the wrong side of a blowout…

  93. Last comment on the whole Gattis/Laird thing:

    You simply can NOT argue that Laird’s 2013 must be written off because of small sample size, such that we rely only on his career aggregate stats, and then at the same time argue that BJ Upton’s 2013 to date is reason to give up on him entirely.

  94. In other news, Tim Hudson is making it an easy decision who to sit down when Beachy is ready to return to the lineup.

  95. Even the outs are being scolded.

    @122. Pretty sure it was a joke, since Hudson couldn’t seem to win when going for it.

  96. @113 How possible do we really think it is that Hudson and not Medlen (who seems to be the one DOB predicts, at least, because of his relief experience) might be the SP relegated to the bullpen? That would be my preference at this point, but I have a hard time imagining Fredi doing it. Age hath its privileges, one expects.

  97. @ 125

    Assuming that’s what we did…how would you handle that? Fake injury to the DL?

    @ 127

    Well if you are in a self-proclaimed “win now” year…at a certain point, you can’t worry about a guy’s feelings. We did it to Glavine a few years ago..

  98. I’d tell Huddy “you know you suck right now, we know you suck right now, so you can either take a role in the pen or go on the fake DL.” Because dude is not getting batters out any more.

    I, like DOB, suspect they will go with Medlen because he’s had the pen experience before (and honestly, he’s not pitching particularly well right now either) but on the merits, Hudson’s the odd man out. And 37 year old Hall of Very Good starters don’t often turn it back around after they start going downhill.

  99. Thanks, Simmons. At least this won’t be a shutout.

    123- Laird’s had 52 PA before tonight. BJ’s had 176. There’s definitely more information in the bigger sample.

  100. @130 Honestly, Medlen is not having a bad season. He is just not having a maddux like season!

  101. DOB says Medlen is the odd man out when Beachy returns. Kind of hard to make that decision in my opinion.

  102. Infield single by El Oso, which is… kind of hard to visualize. Maybe if half the infield spontaneously combusted.

  103. Medlen’s been mediocre, but better than Hudson. But Medlen has had success out of the pen, and Hudson’s never pitched relief. You can make a case for that, but you’re still left running Hudson out every fifth day and that’s un-good.

  104. @134 I think it’s logical to put Medlen in the pen if Huddy isn’t so bad recently…

  105. 140- Nope, we’ve gotta let Hudson keep getting abused for the rest of the inning before running the AAA guys out there.

  106. Huddy is fooling absolutely no one right now. Meanwhile, Buehrle is making most of the Braves look like they belong in AA.

  107. Put Rasmus in to see if he’ll throw at his brother’s head. You know, for kicks.

  108. Chip: “Since we’re in Toronto, it’s Brad Lincoln Intercontinental.”

    It’s intra-continental. You’re still in North America, you dolt.

  109. 147- Smart move, Sam. But hey, the rest of us can watch Rasmus get a BP session in.

  110. It’s ironic that later this series, a bobblehead of Freddie in fielding position will be distributed.

  111. Given Walden’s work tonight in Gwinnett (1-2-3 inning, hit 95) I expect him up and Rasmus down tomorrow.

  112. I’d be a little more impressed with Cory’s getting out of that jam if it weren’t bringing his ERA down to only 16.88.

  113. Gotta find a way to get Gattis in there every day. He’s our best hitter right now.

  114. I don’t want to sound like the guy who overreacts to one start, but is Hudson the odd man out when Beachy returns?

  115. Re: He hasn’t been himself this year but I don’t know if you can take him out of the lineup.

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