The Curse of Marquis Grissom

We had them where we wanted them.

We had matched the best pitcher in baseball with our sixth best starter. Our back up second baseman and our sixth outfielder put us ahead. We were playing like we were the team up two games to one. We were headed back to Atlanta with our two best starters ready to go.

That’s when the curse of Marquis Grissom game into play.

Needing only six outs Fredi Gonzalez called on David Carpenter to shutdown the eighth inning. One has to wonder how things could have been different if the Jordan Walden injury had never happened at the end of August. 

The Braves had shifted their defensive positioning to guard against a double to left. Yaseil Puig hit a groundball that is  a routine out for Freddy Freeman if we are not set in this stupid over- positioning.  With Craig Kimbrel standing in the bullpen waiting to come in and Juan Uribe failing to bunt Puig to third, it happened.

Carpenter has been a bright spot all year for the Braves. He looked shaky in the game two win and Kimbrel was standing in the pen!

Look. This is a young team. They have played like a young team for about a month. Fredi is going to get some heat, some warranted, some not. But playing tight in September and October has been a hallmark of Fredi’s teams  in Atlanta. I think that is a fair statement to point out.

This should be a very good team next year, but there are some difficult questions the front office will have to answer over the next few months.

Is Brian McCann coming back? His playoff performance doesn’t help him in the free agent market, but he is going to ask for a lot.

Can at least one of Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy or Julio Teahran be a consistent shutdown starter? If not, do we make a move to get a guy who can be?

Is Tim Hudson back? I think you have to make an offer to him.

Can you taker for Uggla that may pick up part of his contract? If so, who replaces him?

Can you lock up Jason Heyward and Freeman? Both took huge steps forward this season. With McCann most likely leaving, this is the nucleolus of the team. It would be nice to have them for five for six years.

All of this and more will be discussed here all winter. Lots of young guys got their first playoff experience and will be much more prepared for the future, which will help.

284 thoughts on “The Curse of Marquis Grissom”

  1. Doesn’t feel much better by daylight. Why in the world would the baseball deities give us that Dodgers defense, and all those rockets Garcia gave up but right at people, and crucial hits by Elliot and Constanza, just to throw it in our faces, unless we had somehow deeply offended them? Who tried to serve his own child at a feast for the gods, and how can we appease them? This is what we need to find out.

    The nucleus of the team is Andrelton Simmons. Lock him up at all costs. Then do what you can to lock up Heyward and Freeman too.

  2. I grieve, therfore I am

    I can only imagine how gut wrenching it was to endure in real time

    And of all the reasons for Braves postseason failure, I offer this one

    Game 1 (1.07am start for me) – asleep – L
    Game 2 (11.00 pm) – watched full game to 2.35am – W
    Game 3 (1.07am) – finishing September accounts, so working late
    , go to bed at end of 1st with 2-0 lead – L
    Game 4 (2.37am) – asleep, watched this morning with no prior knowledge – L

    And so, it’s my fault for not giving up sleep for a week, since score is 6-3 while I’ve watched live

    They will be a better team next year, they may not get the rub of the green or be set for a postseason breakthrough again

  3. Also, Mariano Rivera had 14 postseason six-out saves. Do you think Fredi knows how many regular season six-out saves he had before he got his first one in the postseason?

  4. This game might be the game that goes down as the one that broke my super-fandom. For me, this team and their constant temper tantrums and pimping of HRs made it really difficult to like them personally, which may not be a big deal for many, but it is for me. I really respect Heyward and Simmons’ approach to the game, but the Uptons, Chris Johnson, and occasionally, Freddie Freeman, bother me. And while I love Gattis, his humble demeanor and his story, he does pimp every HR and that also gets to me.

    In a world where I educate kids and pull baseball statistics and Braves baseball into that world, I was overall disappointed with this Braves’ team and their lack of emotional control. It’s such a learning experience for the kids to see percentages, decimals, and fractions in a real-life setting, and a bonding experience to end the unit with a trip to see a few games. I might have to rethink my teaching strategy next year.

    With that being said, if they would have at least won the NLDS, I could have probably looked over these personal hiccups, but right now, it seems to be the only real thing that’s getting to me.

    Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe I’m not, but f-bombs on national tv and the constant slamming of bats and helmets have me very jaded and missing the days of a Bobby Cox ran team where the majority of temper tantrums came from the manager, not the players.

  5. I actually pin the loss on McCann above all. Horrible pitch calling and no clue at the plate. Hate to say because I really do love Brian, but I think this performance helps everyone move on. Enjoy Texas Brian and we wish you the best (until the 2015 World Series between the Rangers and Braves that is).

  6. @5

    This is a young team. This experience will be helpful for next year.


    I agree. McCann was terrible. His pitch calling may go unchecked, but I think there is something to that.

    The Dodgers have 2.5 times the payroll. On paper they are a little better than we are. It showed up on the field.

  7. I think we should try to sign Hudson, simply see Uggla as sunk costs and let him go, let McCann go and sign the core team to extensions. Not sure if it can all be done though. We have a nice problem in that there is a big core to try and extend. Heyward, Freeman, Simmons, Minor, Teheran, Medlen, Kimbrell?, Beachy?, JUpton?. I think that 2b can be reasonably manned by either Pastornicky or LaStella. A Gattis/Laird combo at catcher doesn’t replace BMac but it would be good enough.
    Good live arms in Wood and Hale. Venters, O’Flaherty may be coming back. I have hope for next season. There is a lot to work with.

  8. @8

    I do too. I would like us to find an ace. I think Beachy, Minor or Teheran could be one down the road, but having one next year would be huge.

    I just don’t know who is out there. David Price? I think he is out of our range. Cliff Lee? Don’t think we will deal with the Phills. Tim Lincecum
    may be done. Lohse? Is he really a big up grade? Jeff Samardzija has good stuff, but also not really an up grade.

  9. We do have a young team, but I’m not going to assume we’re a lock for the playoffs. Ask the Nationals how that goes. Our pitching was our strength, and yet it was also a weakness. I would look to improve that in the offseason. I have no idea how you improve this lineup other than at 2B and a few bench bats.

    This one is going to take a while to get over. They don’t hurt as much as they used to, but they still hurt.

  10. @8

    I agree that the Braves have a lot of pieces, even without BMac. The Uggla extension and BJ Upton FA deal have put some constraints on what the front office can do in the offseason.

    My wish list would be extensions to Simmons, Freeman, and Heyward; finding a sucker to take Uggla off our hands, even if we have to eat 90% of his deal; and finding another starter that can do what Minor did in Game 2. Probably in that order, but maybe swapping a potential Uggla trade with the extensions. I wonder if we can swap Uggla to the Dodgers for Beckett in a deal that exchanges problems?

    Anyhow, if BJ can regain even a modicum of his Tampa Bay form, and LaStellanicky can handle scond, we will be in a position to compete for the division. Let’s just hope we don’t rack up the injuries we did this year and maybe we can have a better outcome.

  11. Chris Sale is the answer.

    And why is David Price out of our range? Think big. Trade them from our starters. They’re not getting the job done for us in the playoffs, so package them up and ship them out for an ace. Medlen, Sims, Bethancourt for Price.

    I’ll be pissed if we resign Hudson. We need a legit shutdown ace, or bust.

  12. When I hear the word “shutdown,” I basically assume it means a playoff-caliber ace, of which there are usually only about 10-15 in all of baseball. I don’t think Minor, Medlen, Teheran, or Beachy (or, for that matter, Wood or Hale) will ever be that. But it appears that they’re all quite good. Honestly, I don’t think that we need to focus on acquiring a battle-tested ace. What we need is offense.

    So, Uggla didn’t work out. B.J. certainly had a rough first year in Atlanta. Gattis’s bat isn’t good enough for corner outfield, and the jury’s out on whether his glove is good enough for him to be a backup or a starter. Schafer and Ramiro Pena were lucky accidents, Elliot Johnson was as advertised, and Reed Johnson is done. Even if Chris Johnson has made real strides offensively, he won’t be this good next year.

    So, we need a catcher, a second baseman, a better fourth outfielder, and a better fifth infielder (maybe that’s Pastornicky). I loved the theory behind the team, which was that we would have power at every position. But the ineffectiveness of B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla (not to mention Juan Francisco) stretched the bench past the breaking point. So we definitely need to rebuild there.

  13. I think our offense will be ok assuming we stay healthy (well, assuming Heyward stays healthy, which is never a lock). Our season basically ended when Heyward got beaned. If that doesn’t happen then we’re battling the Pirates and who knows what that would’ve led to.

    The offensive development of Simmons and JUpton will be huge. I feel like Simmons is *this close* to being a real threat at the plate. I feel like JUpton might not pan out at all. We will need both to contend.

  14. @15, I acknowledge, it’s totally risky. An ace is the piece that’s most likely to break on us in-season and leave us in the lurch. But that’s the thing that seems to me to be the closest to decisive in playoff games. Kershaw, Wainwright, Scherzer, Lee et al can do what they want to other teams in the playoffs. We need a player like that who can take control. The risk of injury or decline is part of the price you pay for relative playoff certainty.

    I would argue the Angels and Phillies got killed to a significant degree by dumb spending on offense (and bullpen, for the Phils), but neither here nor there.

  15. I will say this…the team that just beat us has better pitching, better hitting, and a better bench. They also have more than twice our payroll. For us to overcome we need to be smarter. A lot smarter. So…Fredi?

  16. My biggest fear now is that they stand pat this offseason (besides sending Uggla on his way) and justify it by saying we have a talented core of players that won 96 games last year.

    Assuming McCann bolts to greener monsters, this line up will have 2 hitters (Freeman & Johnson) that have shown they have some talent in the finer aspects of hitting – hitting to all fields, working counts, taking what the pitcher gives you – basically all the stuff that gets Joe Simpson all excited but turns out is pretty important when facing good pitchers who can exploit a hitter’s weaknesses.

    The rest of the line-up is made of of athletic swingers with pop, but also with big holes in their swings that lead to quick at-bats and prolonged slumps. We’ve got a lot of guys who can crush mistakes, but as we see every October, the pitchers that get to the playoffs don’t make many mistakes (Except for Medlen).

    I’ve watched enough of this boom or bust offense. Let’s try something else.

  17. Price would cost a lot and would be hard to sign long term.

    Chris Hale would be a great addition.

    I agree about retooling our depth, but it is going to be hard to advance far in the playoffs with our rotation. We have three good #2s and a great #3. If you add a #1 to that, then you have a possible deep playoff run caliber rotation.

  18. 14–2B is a huge hole right now, but La Stella, despite my slagging him, has turned into a legitimate prospect. So at least there is hope for a cheap, internal fix. I agree Wren should also prioritize a power hitting bench bat, preferably lefthanded. It doesn’t have to be an outfielder. But it seems silly to think we need a catcher. Gattis’ catcher ERA this year was 3.03. Brian McCann’s 2.99. If there is any drop off between the two defensively it doesn’t show up either in the statistics or to the naked eye. And Gattis OPS’ed .770 in his first 350 major league plate appearances after a half season at AA and never having seen a pitch at AAA. Worst case, our backup, Laird, is league average, and the back up to the backup is all-world defensively and just put up a .740 OPS as a 21-year old at AA (a 175 point improvement on his 20-year old season-how does one describe that trajectory?).

    12–Sims, Bethancourt and Medlen for a year of David Price? Wren might think about Medlen and a lesser prospect. He’s not giving them Sims. Not in a million years. And certainly not Sims AND Bethancourt.

  19. The 2014 Braves do not need a front of rotation lock down starter – the SP quality and depth that they have is fine for 162 games

    I am, however, fine with the notion of trying to acquire one at the trade deadline to set up a postseason run

    But that, I fear, is more than wishful thinking

  20. No way we trade Sims. Hell I’m hoping he gets a legit look in spring training. We need a post or two that spells out the details of the 2014 free-agent market.

  21. Don’t forget–Justin Upton gets a $4.4MM raise next year. Upton brothers will comprise close to $28MM in salary.

  22. @16, Bryce Harper alone.

    @21, I don’t care about long term. We’re trying to win now. I would trade from our starters and starting pitchers in order to win now.

    @22, I think we get two years of Price. I could be wrong. Obviously, if I’m wrong, I wouldn’t pay as much.

  23. @18, I think you’re right, but they also have basically twice our budgets. We can barely afford any spending, let alone dumb spending. The price for Price will be very significant — remember how much the Rays extracted for Garza, who is not as good as Price — and then he’s gone.

    Personally, I think the offense is a more serious area of need for this team. If we really need Price, we can pay for him in midsummer and pay a midsummer price — hardly anyone moves at the deadline any more so the price is likely to be lower than it would be in the offseason.

  24. @14 – Alex good points. The Braves had a lot go wrong this season but it was offset by a lot of the very unexpected stuff that went right. Given the results, 96 wins, more went right than wrong this year. You sure can’t depend on Success!, Pena, Gattis, Carpenter and even Chris Johnson repeating their seasons next year.

    I too would like to see more high OBP guys out there. Winning with the death by a thousand singles and walks method is just as effective as the big bang theory the team used this season.

    If Simmons could learn to take a few walks, he is a super star.

  25. I actually felt the opposite. We scored 1, 3, 4, and 6 runs, but the 5th and 6th runs were only scored once it was already a blowout. That’s 14 runs in four games, only 12 of which were scored when the game was within reach. That’s enough to win, but not enough to win comfortably. Opinions may vary, but I don’t think that is enough.

  26. I could be persuaded to pursue an ace at the deadline in theory, but I’m worried that teams like the Rays/White Sox will try to shed payroll earlier. I guess Sale isn’t a big chunk for the White Sox, so they’d keep him longer.

    It’s not enough to look at the free agent market for upgrades on offense or pitching. Teams aren’t letting their best players to reach free agency in their prime any more. Wren needs to deliver big on a trade. Which is scary.

  27. Some 2014 Free Agents. I doubt Braves will sign any of these guys. The Dodgers alone will probbaly sign about half of them.

    Robinson Cano
    Jacoby Ellsbury
    Shin-Soo Choo
    Masahiro Tanaka (25 yr old Japanese SP who pitched 181 innings @ 1.24 ERA)
    Hiroki Kuroda
    AJ Burnett
    Mike Napoli
    Carlos Beltran
    Josh Johnson
    Nelson Cruz
    Tim Lincecum
    Ubaldo Jimenez
    Bartolo Colon
    Bronson Arroyo
    Scott Kazmir
    Marlon Byrd
    Omar Infante
    Stephen Drew
    Jose Abreu (Cuba)
    Chris Perez

  28. Is Price for two years worth Medlen and Bethancourt? I still don’t think so, especially given that those two years might cost close to 35 million (as a Super 2 he could win 14-15 million this year, with a proportionate raise the following year). And as a mid-market team you simply can’t trade Sims for him.

  29. I’d love to have David Price but he’s not the answer:

    2011-2013 Medlen vs. Price

    Medlen – 2.46 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.88 H/9, 0.65 HR/9, 7.40 K/9, 1.83 BB/9
    Price – 3.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 7.86 H/9, 0.78 HR/9, 8.31 K/9, 2.16 BB/9

    I know it’s different competition bur still…

    Oh, you want postseason performance?

    Price 1-4 5.06 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
    Medlen 0-2 6.10 ERA, 1.26 WHIP just 2 appearances and the victim of bad defense in one and weird shifts in the other though admittedly wasn’t sharp against LA.

  30. @34 – I’d trade Medlen and Bethancourt for 2 years of Price. The problem is that someone else will offer 4 or 5 prospects (and maybe a ton of cash) for him once he is made available. And there in lies the rub. Do you gut the farm for 2 prime years of a great pitcher?

    Alex, I agree that we need more offense but where do you put it? Only catcher and 2b, maybe 3b are open. Assuming, and this is a big assumption, that BJ’s 2013 season is a huge outlier.

  31. Trading Bethancourt means you are all in on Gattis and Larid.

    I thnk we are going after Kyle Loshe.

  32. However we construct the exact deal isn’t as relevant to me. The thing I’m trying to articulate is that Price fits a big need, the Rangers are probably going to offer Profar for him this winter, and I’m fine with “overpaying” (not going insane, but actually overpaying, if overpay we must) in order to increase our certainty of winning now and he’s our best pitching option for doing so.

  33. @33

    The one name on that list that REALLY intrigues me is Ubaldo Jimenez. When he’s right, he’s that shut-down starter that you desire. Of course, if he’s not, then you’re stuck with another Lowe/Uggla situation, and the Braves can’t afford any more of those with the current budgetary constraints.

  34. Really? This deep into the comments and no one has noted that somehow Kimbrel never got in this game? That was awful. How do you have an elimination game, with a day of rest tomorrow, and a 1-run game in the 8th inning of a game that was close the entire way, and NEVER bring Kimbrel into the game? Just insane. I was calling for him as early as the 4th inning.

  35. Given our recent experience, I’m hoping we don’t try to rely on offense from catcher. No offense to McCann.

  36. Because David Carpenter vs Juan fucking Uribe is a good matchup for you, Lance. It’s Juan fucking Uribe against one of the best setup men in 2013’s league. He got lucky on a hanger.

  37. Carpenter was a great setup man this year, but he was looking gassed for the last couple of weeks. After watching him walk a tightrope since September, I couldn’t honestly say that I would have trusted him not to hang a breaking ball on the last game of the year.

    With regard to the other thing, I might take a flier on Lincecum. I’d also be interested in Beltran.

  38. Any thoughts on the Braves’ refusal to catch Chipper’s first pitch Thursday in Atlanta? My guess is that some big dick like Hudson who might’ve clashed with Chipper in the past let everyone know they should boycott him for his prediction of a Dodgers win, and no one wanted to stir up trouble by going against him. Really don’t see how Wren or Fredi could let something that embarrassing to the organization go down though. What a crappy thing to come out the day after such a crap series ended.

    Edit: 44 beat me to it.

  39. Calculating their arb-eligibles, the Braves look like they have about 64 million committed to the following 21 players:

    Position: Bupton, Jupton, Uggla, Heyward, C. Johnson, Simmons, Gattis, Freeman
    Bench: Laird, Schafer, Pena
    Starting Pitchers: Medlen, Beachy, Teheran, Minor, Wood?
    Relief: Kimbrel, Walden, Avilan, Carpenter, Varvaro

    I’m assuming that no team would pay more than 8 million total for Uggla, so subtract 4 of that and you get 60 million for 20 players with positions open for 2 bench spots, 1 starting 2nd baseman and 2 pitching spots, either 2 RP or 1 SP and 1 RP.

    My opinion… unless a stud SP is available for surplus talent in our system, stand pat and put La Stella at 2nd. Go and pick up some pop from the bench and another Pena type player that could move all over the diamond and let it ride. Hey…Infante is available! Sigh…

  40. No team is paying anything for Uggla. Our choices are 1.) release him, 2.) see if he can be rehabilitated somehow.

    I think it’s very likely that we trade one of our good starters in a package deal for a #1 starter. Medlen / Teheran / Minor / Wood / Beachy … I don’t think all of those guys will be on the team in 2014.

    We could even stand pat and still win the division next season, and go into the playoffs again as underdogs. That seems to be our MO.

  41. 47 – I like where your head is at.

    I would sign Infante to BE that starting 2B. Unless McCann surprises the world and takes a hometown discount, he’s gone.

    I think Timmy probably comes back at a discount as Beachy insurance.

    I hope BJ comes back to somewhat normal in if we can upgrade 2B, it should lessen the loss of McCann and the regression monster that will inevitably eat Chris Johnson.

  42. @47 – your plan to win a title in 2014 is to cut payroll from this year’s level by $20-30MM when every team in baseball is getting $25MM more in national TV money?

    How much Liberty Media stock do you own, sir? I kid, but this is a very real point I tend to get agitated about: “Stand pat” is an answer for that corporation’s accountants, not Braves fans. We need, and can afford, moves to go from good to elite. And we should demand that of ownership. Otherwise we’ll just be singing the same song every year here.

  43. I just don’t see this team making a huge move in the offseason. I think this is the team for the next 2-3 years.

    Harvey being out next year is a big win and probably keeps the Mets in cost cutting mode for one more year. The Phillies are bad and shouldn’t be a big threat. If Halladay comes back to 1/2 of what he was they may finish above .500. The Marlins will be feisty, but not good.

    The Nationals are the best team on paper in the division and they have money to fix their Dan Harren mistake. They should be leaps and bounds better next year. They scare me, especially if the Braves stand pat.

  44. Thanks, Smitty, a glass-is-half-full forward assessment really helped me get over the disappointment of another quick exit. Excited about spring training! (Because I don’t see us making any big splashes this off season.)

  45. I think we were half “Dead Man Walking” and half “Gut punch”.

    I’m at peace. When Juan Uribe ruins your season, then you had some bad luck and bad circumstances.

  46. @51, Co-signed. If the team does stand pat this offseason, something is horribly wrong.

    Waiting for Wren to speak up, but until then…

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 7h
    I do. Good chance couple of big ones, player-wise “@NoAverageJoes: @ajcbraves You honestly think there will be any offseason changes?”

  47. After sleeping on it I’m thinking it was definitely “Dead Man Walking”. Losing that way in Game 5 would’ve elevated it to “Gut Punch”. We were out-hit by a ridiculous margin. Two of our runs last night were gifts. You can count the number of balls we hit hard on one hand for the whole series. How many extra base hits did we even have? Not many. Time to move on.

    The Falcons are toast. UGA is starting a caucasian running back now that half their team is hurt. The Hawks are playing for lottery positioning but they’ll probably manage to screw that up. Maybe it’s time for me to give up sports for about six months.

  48. @54, that’s my assessment too. Game 4 was a gut-punchy loss the way it went down, but this team was too beat up and too full of holes to really see surviving 3 rounds (or even one more game) under any circumstances.

  49. @WCG
    No…that isn’t “my” plan…

    Our big moves need to be internally: lock up our young talent before it’s too late. If you think that this team, a team that won 96 games, needs significant moves, we disagree. This team needs BJ Upton to function at an 80% level of what we thought we’d get and for Freeman, Heyward, Gattis, and Simmons to continue to improve offensively.

    Spending money on FAs or trade pickups because we have it and neglecting the talent that is already present is utter foolishness.

  50. ‘David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 7h
    I do. Good chance couple of big ones, player-wise “@NoAverageJoes: @ajcbraves You honestly think there will be any offseason changes?”’

    Probably means that the team is going to let McCann go (duh) and release Uggla. Change isn’t always addition.

  51. Just for the sake of discussion, who would posters here consider a shutdown playoff ace?

    Here’s my list though I’m sure I’ll miss some:

    Kershaw, Lee, Wainwright – that’s it.

    Used to be in that category but now I’m not sure: Verlander

    Could soon be in that category: Scherzer, Sale, Fernandez, Harvey, Darvish, maybe Strasburg

    Good #1 but not elite enough to scare the opposition: Price, Greinke, Iwakuma, Bumgarner, Medlen

    I guess my point is, by the numbers we have a guy as good as what we could probably get out on the market unless we go international, which would be my preference. All-in for Tanaka. Granted I haven’t read the first scouting report but look at Ryu, Darvish and Iwakuma all flourishing and all it takes is money which we have and we can keep the farm intact.

  52. @63, I’m down with taking a flyer on a stud overseas pitcher.

    As far as pitching goes…every arm the Cardinals bring up throws 95+. Did anyone see Michael Wacha pitch yesterday? Holy shit. I want some of that. Just for one playoff run…

  53. Forget Beltran. I like the idea of Omar Infante wearing a Braves uniform again, but that’s probably not practical. However, we need guys like him who can help a team manufacture runs. And I would argue that it’s guys like Uribe, M. Ellis, and Nick Punto (and, last year, Marco Scutaro) who win you championships, not always the sluggers, because these are the ones who know how to hit well situationally. They use all fields, etc. Sometimes they can play more than one position. Good contact hitters.

  54. the pity party’s not much fun
    the hero and the goat undone
    so self absorbed a dirge
    with blame a needed urge
    salute instead a wild end run.

  55. Endorsing most of AAR @ 14,

    Pitching is too volatile. Injuries are too likely. Giving up position talent or big money in the quantities you have to to get great pitching is risky unless a team has a lot of position talent or a lot of money.

    Unless Uggla can come to spring training and hit a little (project .240 / .340 / .440) he will only get a major league minimum contract after being released. It is what it is. It is possible that he has fractured his relationship with Fredi and Wren so badly (over the not telling them about the vision problem) that he may be released sooner. If I was Wren I would make Fredi hold on to Uggla and SEE if MAYBE we can get somebody to take 1 / 3 of that contract.

    2B should be o.k. between Pastornicky and LaStella. Once you get past Cano, who is that big of a difference anyway?

    Laird, Gattis and Bethancourt handle catcher.

    BJ Upton is the real quandary. At his age he shouldn’t have fallen off a cliff. But he sure looks like it. I am wondering if HIS vision has been REALLY checked. So, even though I don’t expect Schaffer to ever be as good as he was this year in the first half, I think 1st year arb money on a part time player shouldn’t be too bad to hold on to him.

    On an extra starting pitcher. We don’t have the inside scoop (scope) on Beachy. If he is 90% going to be 90% of what he was, then you resign Hudson on a fair incentive laden deal and count on somebody out of Gilmartin, Wood, Hale, Sims and whoever to cover. If Beachy is not so likely to be so good, then I think you try to find a really good potential no. 1 starter, but there aren’t any in FA. The thing about a really good starting pitcher is that no matter how good your current pitchers are, they help you. For example, a 850 ops first baseman doesn’t help the Braves. A mediocre to fairly good overall shortstop doesn’t help the Braves. A number 3 type pitcher may only help the Braves if somebody is hurt. A better pitcher can help.

    Yes, Liberty needs to kick in more money. First that money needs to lock up talent on appropriately priced deals.

  56. Because Beltran’s just about done, and I wouldn’t want the Braves to be saddled with a huge contract for a player who is beyond his prime productive years. Beltran’s prone to injury. Infante could play 2B, but I’m thinking more about the type of player he is rather than him specifically. He does all the little things right: he can bunt, he can hit behind the runner, he can play any IF position and probably the OF too. Hits singles regularly. Yeah, not everyone’s a complete package like that, but guys like Infante and the others mentioned above are what make a team. Beltran and other big boppers might hit a HR, but guys like Descalso getting on base sure make them look good.

    What would Coltrane’s solos be without Elvin Jones on drums and Jimmy Garrison on bass?

  57. If Beltran could be had for a two year deal, hell yeah. Intriguing. Where do you play him?

  58. Signing Beltran and just assuming that BJ and his 75 million dollars is wasted money isn’t something a budget conscious team can do, nor should they.

  59. Every single OF position on this team *could* be upgraded. We’re stuck in the “they’re so young…just wait until they develop and hit their peaks” position. What we really needed this year (and any year) is for that potential to be fully realized. Odds are that the next couple of seasons are when that will happen. If not then our window closes shut.

  60. @71 – Yeah, in the end I agree with you. They have to find a way for BJ to get better. It’s tough enough to eat the 26 for Uggla much less the money owed to BJ.

  61. I think someone would be willing to pay 4-5 million a year for his last 2 years on the off chance he puts it back together. Royals and Rays come to mind and LA needs a 2B.

  62. Is there a special plan for teaching Uggla and BJ to become major league batters again?
    I don’t think a break or bedrest is the cure for what ails them. Is there a guru for failed batters sort of like Phil Neikro is for troubled knuckleballers? With over $60mn in future payroll hanging there, some active intervention would be worth the investment.

  63. I agree–I think you can get someone to take Uggla. The Braves will probably have to swallow $9MM a year for it to happen.

  64. @77 – totally plausible. For a while Uggla was taking walks and hitting with occasional power but after his past two seasons it would take a huge leap in faith for someone to pay even that much for him.

    I’ll contradict myself here. I think the Braves will end up releasing Uggla.

    On BJ I am trying to be positive. Just like you try not to get too excited about an outlier good year (see Johnson, Chris) you can’t get bummed about an outlier really bad year.

  65. What will the Braves do if LaStella has a good Arizona and spring training, while Uggla just keeps whiffing?

  66. Omar Infante is no Elvin Jones.

    Mac would often make the point that announcers often obsess over the “little things” — but just a few big things make up for a whole lot of little things. Hitting behind the runner is a lot better than striking out, but bunting is often horrendously counterproductive, as Justin Upton proved last night.

    An overemphasis on scrap and grit is a big reason that the Arizona Diamondbacks traded us two of their our best players and finished .500 for the second straight year, while we won 96 games.

  67. Forgot about Altuve. No, Infante is no Elvin Jones, but the point I’m making is that a team’s boppers need good supporting role players, guys who set the table, etc. Someone above cited Freddie Freeman and C. Johnson as examples of the players we need, guys who can hit the ball where it’s pitched, and I agree. To sum up my point of view, I’m tired of watching the Braves live and die by the home run.

  68. Bold prediction: Uggla is going to get released. No team will trade for him, the Braves will get a league average second baseman, and just release him. I just don’t see any team giving up anything of value (including salary; seriously, would you sign Dan Uggla for even $1M?), and his roster spot will be worth more than him. They’ll DFA him, he’ll refuse the assignment and instead get picked up by another team for the league minimum.

    As for BJ, I think he’ll get back on track and return to being the mediocre player we signed, not the horrendous player he was this year.

    If I had my druthers, I’d trade for a lead-off hitting second baseman, and roll with this lineup:


    Of course, I’m assuming McCann is in an AL ballpark next season. He’s definitely gone.

  69. Somewhat arbitrary list of shutdown pitchers: Kershaw, Wainwright, Scherzer, Lee, Darvish, Iwakuma, Harvey (pre-injury), Bumgarner, Sale, Fernandez, Hernandez, Strasburg, Zimmerman, Price, Verlander

    Close but not close enough: Latos, Hamels, Shields, Anibal, Corbin, Minor, Liriano

    Miller, Cingrani, Gray, Cole, Moore, Lynn, Teheran, and Salazar may join one of these tiers soon. It’s not like any of those pitchers are being traded.

    Ubaldo, Greinke, Samardzija, and even Cobb are close to being close, and there are a few that are more enigmatic for different reasons: Kluber, Buchholz, Kazmir, Lincecum

  70. Really gutsy performance from Freddy Garcia last night. The whole thing had the makings of… “Hey, maybe this is the start of something very improbable.” But, a guy can’t get a bunt down, then blasts a game-winner (off a Wohlers-like hanger, no less). Improbability can work both ways.

    Not completely sure which category that post-season loss inhabited, but I’ll go with Level 2 Gutpunch (Leyritz being Level 1, Brooks Conrad a Level 2). A tough one, but not anything we haven’t previously endured. Just a matter of degrees.

    For me, rosterbation is much less interesting than the actual games. (I got a whole winter for that.) So, I think I’ll be watching “Soul Train” re-runs for the next couple days. Go Dogs.

  71. @75

    This is by far the worst day in Atlanta sports history. It’s not really even close. And yes, I realize how much competition there is for that spot.

  72. 87

    Thanks for the feedback. I’d say either I’m too strict in my definition of shutdown ace or you are too free with it. I suspect the answer lies somewhere in between. I guess my thought was who if I’m the Braves (or any other team) would I be terrified to face in a short series?

    For me right now I’m not even sure Wainwright and Lee make the list as I think they can be beaten, but allowing for them and the stud rookies like Harvey and Fernandez (who haven’t earned it yet but have the stuff for sure) and I’ll grant Verlander and Felix based on past performance, but I think you have to stop there.

    Darvish, Iwakuma, Scherzer, Sale, Strasburg and MadBum are definitely the next wave and I did consider Cingrani and Miller (and Wacha if he keeps this up).

    I think people overrate Price and underrate Medlen (who you didn’t mention) as I pointed out in #35.

    I think the rest on the list are solid 1s or 2s but nowhere near my definition of a shutdown ace.

  73. @92

    For Medlen to be considered anything close to a shutdown ace, he’s going to have to eventually…like, you know…pitch well in a big game?

  74. Again not saying at all that Medlen is a shutdown ace but I am saying he is much closer to guys like Price than you think and I think there are maybe 20 guys I’d take over him if that.

    He’s had two opportunities in big games and looked incredibly dominant against STL until the Chipper error last year. He didn’t look great against LA but who did in this series? The defense and positioning didn’t help Medlen in Game 1 at all.

    And I’m really just saying there are only a few shutdown aces in all of baseball right now and Kershaw is #1.

  75. There’s a youth movement across the league with starting pitching. I’d like to see us promote our prospects rather than trading for a proven veteran. I figure you might as well get the most you can out of the guys throwing 95+ while they are in their early 20’s. Striking everyone out in AA is a waste of resources, especially given the odds of arm injury these days.

    If we really don’t have anyone ready to promote, or if we feel it’s too risky, then I definitely like the idea of signing the best Asian pitching prospect (mid 20’s age-wise) available. All it costs is money.

  76. Technically, Kershaw, Darvish, etc, “can be beaten.” It’s just highly unlikely.

    My definition of a shutdown ace is: If you told me they pitched a complete game shutout against my team in the playoffs, I wouldn’t cringe in embarrassment. If it were Latos, etc, I might, a little.

    I don’t know how Wainwright or Lee could be excluded from that group. I think they’re in the top four. I don’t think Medlen belongs.

    Anyway, let’s trade for Sale or Price.

  77. Another Uggla option is to give him away as the Booby Prize in a sweet deal. Something like Bethancourt, Gilmartin, Hale, and Uggla for a 2B/set-up reliever. We lose some prospects (whoever they are) but also get rid of the salary.

    Say, I hear the New York American League Team might be needing a second sacker if they can’t resign Cano. I wonder if they would be interested in Uggla and some farm system restocking in exchange for 2 boxes of baseballs and Mariano Rivera’s contract with Satan that he no longer needs?

  78. Again, I like Price and think he’s a good piece, I guess I’m just baffled at the Medlen, Betancourt, Sims package that was mentioned.

    Given contracts I’d rather have Medlen for the next two years than Price so I wouldn’t trade him straight up. Price coming off 10.15 Million and Medlen off 2.6 both with two years of control if I understand correctly.

    Edit: 100 agreed on Sale though if healthy he’s the type of guy you want.

  79. 90- Probably dangled in trade like Derek Lowe, but with the Braves probably eating even more of his contract than the 2/3 of Lowe’s we absorbed. Then released if no takers emerge.

  80. I can say with nearly 100% certainty that the Braves cannot shed all of Uggla’s salary. The best we can hope for is that someone is willing to pay anything more than league minimum for him.

  81. I still think Josh Johnson can be had for a reasonable price and be your ace. Then the rest of the rotation falls into place.

  82. Josh Johnson would probably be willing to come to the Braves on a 1-year deal as the Braves, as we all know, are well-known for rebuilding a pitcher’s value. An incentive-laden deal for him would be a thing of beauty and would be the kind of deal the Braves could afford cost wise and year wise.

  83. @90. I agree with post 103 above. Braves try to get anything with a pulse because they have to say they tried, then release him if that doesn’t pan out. I just can’t see why a team would take any part of his salary, when the Braves already proved they would pay it all for him to NOT play 2B in ATL these past couple of months.

  84. Yeah, “gaz” (@111), maybe “a guy we know who can kind of read lips” from Deadspin isn’t the best source?

  85. @112

    If you look at the video, that’s clearly what he said.

    Also, I have to say, losing the game without ever letting Kimbrel into it is absurd. Carpenter was shaky on Friday, too. You can’t lose the game without Kimbrel in it.

  86. Buster Olney’s podcast today spent a good deal of time talking about the non-use of Kimbrel. Needless to say they whole-heartedly agreed with @113 and pretty much every other Braves fan on the planet that’s still in shock that we chose to go down without using our best weapon.

    He also said that the industry is swirling with rumors that people are going to answer for this playoff loss. I can’t imagine that Schuerholtz was too happy watching Kimbrel stand in the bullpen in the 8th with hands on hips in disbelief.

  87. In principle what most here are saying about using Kimbrel for 6 outs seems reasonable. But it seems to me that we’re forgetting that the Braves aren’t a particularly cutting-edge organization, at least not in tactical situations. I think you could make a case that the Braves have been ahead of the curve, or at least equal to their contemporaries, on a couple of issues: picking a certain region of the country to scout heavily, rather than possibly spreading resources too thinly; and viewing relievers as fungible with the awareness that serviceable candidates can be picked up off the scrap heap.

    But it goes against what I think we know of how the Braves work- and in this they aren’t much different than the vast majority of other MLB teams- to expect them to suddenly adopt sabermetric theories of reliever usage. I would have liked to see them win or lose with their best reliever on the mound, sure, but I don’t think it makes the Braves luddite outliers not to have done so.

  88. If Fredi gets fired it won’t be because of this one loss. It will be because the players think Fredi’s a clown and Wren would rather sign Freeman, Heyward and Simmons to extensions than keep him around.

  89. @116, I think Wren’s seat is at least as hot, if not hotter, than Fredi’s. My guess is that either they both stay or they are both gone.

    @115, Rivera had something like 11 6-out saves in the post-season. You don’t have to look very hard to find positive examples of how it should be done. I get your point, but I find the “everyone else does it too” argument tiresome. We have to be smarter if we can’t outspend everyone.

  90. 14 out of 42 of Rivera’s postseason saves were of the 6-out variety. Every third save was a 6-out save.

  91. Crazy talk. The team won 96 games. For better or worse, Wren and/or Fredi aren’t going anywhere.

  92. This is why the playoffs suck. You play 162 games, you already know what each team is. It doesn’t change because of three losses in a 5-game series.

  93. Has any of the coaching staff addressed the defensive shifts introduced in the series? I really want to know what they were thinking.

  94. @121
    Yes, they should be fired, but not because they won 96 games. And the fact that they won 96 games is the reason they most likely will not be fired.

    Fredi Gonzalez is widely known as the worst in-game strategist in baseball. It’s wonderful that Freddy Garcia pitched so well, and I was thrilled he did. But let’s divorce ourselves from the outcome for a second and think process, not results…

    You had an elimination game and you had medlen free on his throw day with a rested minor to go in game 5. The correct decision is to pinch for Garcia early and use medlen for 2-3 and then hale if need be and then hand it over to the pen. Kimbrel goes 2 no matter what.

    Now, regardless of whether “it worked out”, fredi’s strategy was egregious. People who say “it worked didn’t it?” are the same people who move in with 7-2 off against pocket kings because of that one time it did work.

    Fredi is so rigid that he cannot conceive of any alternate strategy that might help him win games. And this is just one example. There are countless more from the regular season.

    The braves are a good team because of young pitcher development and a miraculous 2007 draft. Little of this has anything to do with frank wren. His major contracts are these:
    bj Upton for 20% of our payroll.
    Derek Lowe for 20% of our payroll.
    Dan uggla for 15% of our our payroll.

    1 of these was rendered for glue. The other 2 we only wish we could. At some point in his tenure, a GM has to sign a player that is not thought to be an unequivocal failure. We’re still waiting on wren.

  95. Look, my only thing is that if you’re going to use Kimbrel for two innings now, you should be using him for two innings in other places over the course of the season. I trusted Carpenter more than I did a gassed Kimbrel whose thrown 40 pitches and just walked two guys to bring up Hanley Ramirez.

    What I’d really like to see is a more dynamic bullpen usage where Kimbrel can, say, pitch the 8th and 9th sometimes or pitch the 8th when the meat of the lineup is up. But what I don’t like is random deviations from typical usage patterns. That’s how guys get hurt (and randomly suck).

  96. According to DOB, Kimbrel never went to his locker while the media was in the room and so no one could talk to him. I had forgotten how made he looked last night until I watched that clip again in 111. It’s interesting that Kershaw told his manager he was ready and wanted the ball on short rest, even though he had never done that before, and he got it, while Kimbrel may have told his that he wanted it for an out of the usual appearance and he didn’t get it.

  97. Dusty Baker was just fired after taking the Reds to the postseason three of the last four years. I think Fredi should’ve been gone two years ago but whatever. I’m sure we’ll find out what’s up soon enough. Maybe they just can the hitting coaches.

  98. Rays have used 4 pitchers through the first 6 innings in their elimination game tonight (combining for 3-hit shutout so far). They are one of the teams that marches to the beat of a different drummer. It may not always work out, but I kinda root for them to succeed just because they buck the status quo so often.

  99. Re: Fredi getting fired. Look:

    2011: Disastrous September leads to epic Wild Card meltdown. Don’t even make playoffs.
    2012: Loss of Wild Card playoff in humiliating fashion.
    2013: Loss of NLDS to a guy trying to bunt while our stud grinds his teeth in the bullpen.

    This is slow and steady improvement, people. Next year we lose an embarrassing heartbreaker in the NLCS. Don’t throw that all away!!!

  100. It sucks that the Rays are probably going to lose to the Sox, but I am most definitely enjoying watching them bean the everliving shit out of Shane Victorino. It looks like to me he is leaning over the inner half of the plate anyway, so he’s getting what he deserves even aside from being an asshole.

  101. Guess what. Scherzer also told his manager that he wanted the ball and he got it. I don’t think Fredi should be retained for next season. He’s had great teams in Atlanta but we had t witness one of the largest collapses in history under him and he’s 1-4 in post season games. However, I agree that he’s not getting fired.

  102. The culture of Bobby Cox has to change and Freddi is only an extension of Bobby. Look I love Bobby as much as any of you but the game has changed and Freddi is NOT Bobby. He only acts like it during the game.

  103. I’m afraid I don’t get the headline. What is the reference to the curse of Marquis Grissom?

  104. @134

    I made it up. I figured we have been cursed since around 95. I though about calling it the Justice Curse, but he is in our HOF, so I went with Grissom.

  105. @119

    Wren for sure isn’t. I’d say 0% for McDowell, 65% for Walker, 45% for Tocca, 15% for Fredi.

    If Olney and Gammons are hinting to it, it may happen. Those guys don’t make stuff up and just say it.

    I have wondered if the Uggla situation and now Kimbrel sitting may have turned the team on Fredi.

    The Braves won’t make a quick panic move. If anything happens it will be in a few weeks.

  106. Freddi is pissed that these other managers are “showing him up” by using all sorts of creative pitching moves.

  107. I don’t want to come off as a Fredi apologist here, but I still stand by my thinking that Carp was the right move. If he’s your 8th inning guy for the playoffs and the best non-Kimbrel righty in the pen, that’s who you use to try and get Puig and Uribe. He didn’t execute and I partially blame the shift and the bad pitch calling.

    Kimbrel has had some trouble in big games himself if I recall correctly. I’m thinking of some huge blown games down the stretch in 2011 and didn’t he lose one of the SF games in 2010? Asking him to do some thing he’s not used to doing was just as likely to backfire if you ask me.

    Many are comparing Kimbrel to Rivera, but for me they are two different types of pitchers. Rivera is an easy effort type guy, whose stuff wouldn’t be as diminished with more work while Craig is a max effort guy, more prone to tiring out.

  108. Smitty at 136,

    I don’t agree on moving Walker (either the likelihood or endorse that). The offense suck this year was almost exclusively 2 players. Uggla was probably truly a vision problem. That should have been caught by a MUCH better eye examination in spring training. B.J. was horrendous. But clearly the improvement in Chris Johnson appears to be a Walker creation. he came into this year with reverse platoon splits, held his previous level against righthanders and exploded against lefthanders. That explosion came after a lot of Walker work on getting him ready to hit lefties because of the planned platoon with Fat Juan. Simmons ops’d around 780 post ASB and it looks legit. Despite the decline as the year went on, Gattis was serviceable enough offensively to be a catcher (but only an emergency platoon left fielder) or a once every two weeks platoon first baseman to give Freeman a day off.

    I think the “Fredi” problem is mostly a corporate baseball culture problem. During the “glory years” I felt this tendency is what pushed down the postseason performance. That is, we had the team to win the division without being quite so keyed on “the long term.” Player don’t need to be used in different roles so often in the postseason. They need to be comfortable with those roles. So, near the All Star Break when even a Kimbrel gets a workload lift, use him over an inning. the 4 outs / 6 outs thing to me in the post season is not the number of pitches extra, it is having to sit in the dug out before starting the second (full or part) inning. If you are going to platoon to get extra offense, do it earlier. If you are going to match up relievers batter by batter, find a few spots in the season to do it.

    The other corporate culture problem is throughout baseball. That is that the “closer” MUST be able to “close.” What could have happened is Kimbrel pitches to 5 , 6 , and 7 in the 8th and if it works, then start him against 8 and 9 in the 9th and if he looks shaky use a lefty on Crawford. But the quality of the opposition (and maybe the handedness) needs to influence this. For example, in the Wagner era, I can remember Rollins, Utley, Howard coming up in the 8th inning and Wagner in the bullpen. I remember about 1 time that Bobby actually inserted Wagner in the 8th against that lineup and then went to someone else in the 9th. Whoever backed up Wagner got mostly righthanded mediocrities.

  109. @138,
    In 2010, Kimbrel was a rookie call-up with 20 innings under his belt going into the playoffs. The only decision he lost (or allowed any runs, period) was the Brooks Conrad game. If you think Kimbrel blew that one, you’re alone among Atlanta fans. By the way, in game 2 of that 2010 NLDS, Kimbrel pitched 2 perfect innings, striking out 4.

    After 2011, the main criticism anyone had for Fredi was that he ran our elite relievers into the ground, leading to the blown games that resulted in us missing the playoffs.

    But what I really don’t get about your post is that you’re comparing 2013 veteran Kimbrel to 2010 and 2011 Rookie Kimbrel, when, in the two years that have elapsed since then, Craig Kimbrel became CRAIG KIMBREL, one of the consensus top two relievers in baseball who has put together two of the greatest statistical seasons by a reliever in the history of the game.

  110. @140

    That’s what tears me on Walker. Johnson and Freeman were great. Schafer improved.

    The other side is the two highest paid players on the team were terrible. That is usually something that results in a coaching change.

    I’m not saying it is Walker’s fault. It probably isn’t. I just think someone will be held accountable.

  111. Ok, here goes nothing…

    As stated earlier, the Braves are sitting at about 62 million this year for 21 players and are in desperate need to lock up their stars soon before they get away. Pitching is the depth of the Braves farm system and seems to be so for the next 5-6 years. That means locking up our offensive/defensive studs is a must.

    Jason Heyward is arb-eligible for the 2nd time this upcoming year. His salary will likely increase to 5-6 million and then to 8-10 million his final year. A 5 year/55 million dollar deal seems feasible for both parties. Heyward will still get to hit the market right at his peak and the Braves, for showing faith in their star, receive 3 years at a discount (13.3 million). For good measure, the Braves could put player options at 15 million per year for the next 2-3 years.

    Going along those same lines, Freeman is arb-eligible for the first time this year and will likely see a salary around 4 million with his 3rd arb year likely being around 10 million. A 6 year/60 million dollar deal buys out 3 free agency years and still puts him in the market for a big contract. For good measure, the Braves could put player options at 15 million per year for the next 2-3 years.

    Andrelton Simmons is 5 years away from free agency and 2 years away from arb-eligibility. I would expect that Simmons will likely be a 3m/5m/8m player in his arb years. Offer Andrelton an 8 year/56 million dollar deal. For good measure, the Braves could put player options for the next 2-3 years at 15 million per year.

    If the above scenario works, the payroll would be at 81 million dollars for 21 players, still leaving money to sign an impact SP and some bench options, all while knowing that the franchise players will be together for the next 5 years. That’s some serious comfort.

  112. My expectation is that nothing changes. But I don’t think I’m actually very good at predicting this sort of thing.

  113. 141 – Fair points and admittedly I was a little murky on 2010 off the top of my head, but I do stand by the fact that Kimbrel faded down the stretch in 2011 when we needed him and you even referenced overwork being a culprit.

    His control has been shaky for the last month or so this year (a sign of fatigue I think it’s fair to say). I’m not advocating not using him, but really just going after the assertion that seems to be going around that we had a better chance with Kimbrel going 2 innings than with Carp going 1 and Kimbrel going one. Just trying to say I don’t think it’s that clear cut. These are the roles they are accustomed to (right or wrong) and I think you stand the best chance of success sticking with what has made you successful to this point.

  114. Fredi has one more year to make things right. After that, he’s gone.

    I hate to sound like a broken record–does anyone remember what those were?–but why do you implement defensive shifts when the team’s defense has worked well all year? Were they targeting specific Dodgers players? If Freeman positions himself at 1B like he normally does, Puig’s ball doesn’t get down the RF line. And those balls in Game #1 don’t creep up the middle away from Andrelton.

  115. Carpenter sucked during this series. You’d have hoped that somebody would’ve noticed that. And that had been Carpenter’s role for like a month (a month of relatively meaningless baseball BTW), not the whole year. If we’d had a full-strength Jordan Walden, I’d probably say let him pitch the 8th and Kimbrel the 9th, but we didn’t. You can’t lose the game with David Carpenter on the mound. Add to that the fact that Kimbrel was begging for Fredi to pull the trigger on it, meaning that he was prepared for it, and it’s a no-brainer.

  116. @145, good points, but I think it’s pretty clear cut that you don’t want to lose with your best guy on the bench. If Kimbrel’s most recent struggles with control are a sign of fatigue, maybe Carpenter’s recent struggles with home runs is too. Like has been said, Scherzer asked for the ball in relief last night. Kershaw wanted the ball for game 4. Studs went to their manager in big spots and asked for the ball under unusual circumstances and got it. Our stud (apparently) went to our manager and didn’t.

    Since I’ve posted, I guess I’ll join in on the speculating. I’m not so sure that Fredi hasn’t lost the clubhouse after this series. Kimbrel’s obviously pissed, and don’t forget Heyward’s weird quote about players and the manager not always being on the same page. On the outside, everyone and their brother had criticisms for the NLDS roster construction (six outfielders, two injuries away from Gerald Laird at third base, Paul Janish!), so who’s to say the players don’t feel the same way?
    I’ve always felt like a lot of the criticism towards Fredi was unwarranted. I don’t feel that way anymore.

  117. how do you then answer this argument – Carpenter did not suck on Monday, he threw one bad pitch and he/we paid mightily for it.

    He then proceeded to blow away Ramirez and Puig who were both brimming with confidence, fired up and desperate to add to the carnage and feed the baying of the fans.

    From memory, I think that sequence is correct!

  118. On Fredi, I wouldn’t fire him but I won’t be upset if they do. I don’t think he is worse than 15 of the managers out there so my main question would be who would you replace him with? Because it could always get worse.

    Did anyone else notice that almost every HR LA hit was on a breaking ball right after a wasted high fastball? Not sure the actual events back that up, but that was my recollection.

  119. BTW I suppose it’s cherry picking but before Game 2 Carpenter’s last 11 appearances (including game 1) 10IP, 2H, 0BB, 0R, 11K. Hard to convince me he had been struggling.

  120. @150

    I did. I think McCann’s game calling wasn’t the best.

    I would like to have Bud Black or Clint Hurdle. Then hire Chalie Manuel as hitting coach.

    I’m not sure that will or could happen, but it would be an upgrade.

  121. @151

    Those were mostly meaningless games against poor competition. In game 2 he struggled and against Puig he wasn’t locating his pitches and generally looked overwhelmed.

  122. Gaz

    Well he went 3 up, 3 down in game 1 against Ethier, Ellis and Crawford

    In game 2 he walked Ellis and gave up the HR to HanRam but struck out AGon and Puig.

    And I was challenging the notion that he had been struggling. 1 HR over 12 appearances to one of the hottest hitters on the planet can’t really be called struggling can it?

  123. The point is, you want Kimbrel in that situation. Doesn’t matter who the other pitcher is, with the season on the line, unless the other pitcher happens to be Aroldis Chapman.

  124. @152–If I’m Wren I let Fredi go and hire Jason Giambi.

    Let Giambi pick his hitting coach.

  125. I think we have a pretty good team that will contend regardless of the manager. I would like the manager to be part of the solution that adds an extra couple of wins to the equation. I don’t feel like Fredi adds much of anything. His tactics drive me nuts, and I strongly dislike how the playoff roster went down (more from a people/mood managaing standpoint than a baseball one).

    In the end I’ll admit that the manager isn’t going to make that one pitch (although maybe he could *call* it), or get that one key clutch hit. I don’t know how we change that, other than maybe turning to the occult to exorcise whatever curse is on us.

  126. I would argue that our terrible September this season is more damning than losing to the Dodgers. The urgency should have been there to avoid the Dodgers in the first round. It wasn’t. Some if it is due to shitty luck with Heyward. Some of it is due to shitty GM moves/non-moves. But some of it is due to giving Loe starts and holding wacky auditions for the playoff roster.

  127. @150

    it’s likely in fact to get worse
    recalling the Steinbrenner curse
    just fire them, rehire them
    but never retire them
    publicity, chapter and verse.

  128. A corporate manager for a corporate owner in a corporate town. Everything fits.

    Fredi always strikes me as hesitant. Granted, he may not be comfortable speaking to the media, but he gives off a vibe of uncertainty, circumspection. Joe Maddon, on the other hand, radiates confidence and ease. And he’ll flat out tell you when something isn’t working. What it would be like to have a manager like that in our dugout!

  129. Here’s the one thing I will say in Fredi’s favor: If you look at the long view, he has improved. He acknowledged that all the crap he got during the 2011 offseason about his bullpen usage resonated with him. And I think, given what the BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS NARRATIVE IS AROUND THIS ENTIRE FRANCHISE, maybe he’ll adjust his tactics moving forward to doing whatever it takes to winning a damned playoff series or three.

  130. @160

    There’s no parallel between this situation and the Steinbrenner Yankees, even if you can get a cute rhyme out of it.

  131. Fredi has definitely improved as a manager and I still think he outmanaged Mattingly. If Fredi gets fired it will be because of the percieved control he has of the players. Braves are very concerned about their image and the beaning incidents and bench clearing brawls haven’t helped things. I don’t expect Fredi to be fired, but if he is, it will be for image reasons.

  132. I thought blazon was implying that we would be like the Steinbrenner Yankees if we were to start firing managers in knee-jerk fashion.

  133. @167, To be fair, Fredi wasn’t suffering from by-the-book-itis when he employed his “bat the pitcher 8th” strategy in recent years. Maybe that’s a dumb gambit to begin with, but at least it shows he’s capable of messing around with convention.

  134. John R. @168,

    Calcaterra overstates it a little. However, in fact, the Braves as an organization are more worried about making mistakes relative to doing bold things. And, I believe that culture increases the chance that when they try to do bold things (Bold -,actually) they frequently don’t turn out well.

    I have little perspective on the “lost the players” thing. Otherwise, Fredi seems to be getting better. He is not an issue in the regular season and might be better in the postseason.

    What the team needs is (a) putting out some commitment AND money now to keep the core of position players and (b) some money to spend on some extras (one more for back end of bullpen, maybe a 2B, 4th OF, one really good SP). If this team committed 20 mill extra to 2014, they can both be 90% assured of making the playoffs and be much better aligned to go deeper. If they spend the same, they will have to get lucky to go deeper and it is “iffier” that they can make the playoffs.

    Yes, a Joe Maddon seems to be the kind of guy who would make them better. But how many of the other managerial candidates do you think that is true for?

  135. I mostly agree with Calcaterra there, though I’d quibble with his dichotomy between the “merely good” and the “great.” The Braves won 96 games this year. They won 94 games last year. By any reasonable standard of success, that’s success. The problem is that it isn’t enough.

    The real question is: how much of the Braves’ failure in the playoffs is organizational, and how much of it is due to resource constraints? The Rays suck in the playoffs, too. The Athletics suck in the playoffs. Neither organization is as staid or by-the-books as we are. But what we have in common with them is that we’re in the bottom half of payrolls.

    So, how much of it is that? And how much of it is that we are congenitally unable to fly by the seat of our pants and go full tilt boogie during the playoffs?

  136. @160 re: Hurdle. You don’t know what you’re asking for. I will cry myself to sleep if Hurdle ever gets a managing job in Atlanta.

    I’m fine with Fredi but he has to do some soul searching and figure out how to manage a playoff game.

  137. I’m not sure how many more playoff losses in elimination games we need a manager to experience before he “gets it”. I think you should already have “gotten it” before you take the job.

    The playoffs aren’t this team’s birth-right. We may not make it back for 10+ years. When we do get there I’d like us to play to win. That means acquiring pieces at the deadline that make the team better. That means using your best reliever in the 7th inning if you have to. That means not bunting early in any game. Etc, etc etc. I definitely agree that it’s our organizational culture to be good-enough. This is a good team. Definitely not the best team, but a good team. I don’t think the average Atlanta fan is going to spend money on a good team next year. We need to be great.

  138. The DOB tweet I least wanted to see:

    Told by highest-level #Braves exec that Liberty Media is pleased with ownership of team, no plans to sell.

  139. @176

    Does anyone actually know who Liberty Media is and why they continue to hold onto the team?

  140. Liberty holds onto the Braves because the Braves make money for them and allow them to claim tax breaks.

  141. @178

    I think Liberty Media is a real-life version of Virtucon, the legitimate-business front of Dr. Evil’s empire in the Austin Powers movies.

  142. All of the Fredi complaints miss a couple of things (previously mentioned, but worth repeating.) First, there aren’t a lot of obviously better options out there. Joe Girardi would piss you guys off just as much once you started dissecting his moves every day, in and out, non-stop. And no one inside the Braves likely hire pool is going to improve Fredi much at all. All of this boils down to internet fanboys of Joe Maddon want Joe Maddon. Sorry, guys. Joe Maddon is taken, and the Braves aren’t going to hire him away any time soon.

    The other point I’ll make here is that, all the kvetching notwithstanding, Fredi didn’t do anything notably problematic in the LDS. The big move he’s getting shit on for is not going to Kimbrel in the 8th, but honestly, I wouldn’t have gone to Kimbrel in the 8th of that game either. I’d have used my shut-down RH set up guy (Carpenter) to get out the RH hitters – Puig, Uribe, AJ Ellis. I would have considered bringing in Kimbrel if it came down to a runner on with the LH hitting Schumaker coming to hit. But I would have started with Carpenter too, and saved Kimbrel to face likelihood of Either/Crawford/M Ellis/Hanley in the ninth.

  143. Gotta agree with Sam here. Fredi spent the whole year working the bullpen levers very well. He turned David Carpenter into a shutdown 8th inning guy (usually, anyway), and made the loss of Venters and O’Flaherty a non-issue.

    Hindsight is 20/20 yadda yadda, but if Kimbrel had come in to pitch to Uribe, and then gagged it up in the 9th to Hanley and Gonzalez, he’d been yelled at for that as well.

  144. Nobody would be yelling at Fredi if Kimbrel had lost the game. We’d still be yelling because losing like that sucks, but we wouldn’t be complaining about that particular move.

    It’s the entire body of work with Fredi – not this one game. If you argue that we can’t do better … well, maybe we can’t. I think a potted plant or a doorknob as manager would be just as good, so it’d be hard to do worse. But if the problem is really systemic in nature, then the only way that gets fixed is new ownership and new leadership at the very top.

  145. To me it seems like the goal is to make the playoffs and see what happens. We will retool mid way if need be.

    I would like for the goal to be to win it all.

  146. To add to the discussion of shutdown aces from yesterday, prior to this year Kershaw had this postseason performance: 15.1 IP, 15H, 10ER, 9BB, 1HBP, 5.96 ERA, 1.63 WHIP

    I guess I just don’t see why people would give up Medlen after a couple of rough outings. Would I love to have someone of Kershaw’s caliber? Sure but I don’t think there are but a few of those out there and there are none readily available. With Minor, Teheran and Medlen we are already stocked on the next tier of starters, I don’t think mortgaging the future (not to mention the present) on two-years of an over priced Price are worth it.

  147. I think a potted plant or a doorknob as manager would be just as good, so it’d be hard to do worse.

    And that’s your error. You just randomly, irrationally hate Fredi Gonzalez. Just ’cause. If you can’t provide a way to improve on a position, then accept the performance you have at a position. Fredi isn’t the best manager in baseball. He’s in the top half, though.

  148. Apparently not a single starter showed up today to clean out their locker when the clubhouse was open to the media. That’s not typical, is it?

    Zach Klein, the Sports Director at WSB-TV is speculating on Twitter that the players didn’t want to publicly question their manager. One fan said that this with the Chipper thing and Gomez fight makes the team look bad and asked him if had always been like this. Klein responded “hard to say.. Players/clubhouse very tight, tight lipped. THIS team had issue with some baseball decisions.”

    This just feels so weird to me. I mean, I’m accustomed to getting over tough playoff loses (I AM a Braves fan, after all), but something is definitely amiss with this team. You can always argue over whether a manger should or shouldn’t have done something, but I cannot recall another instance where a Braves clubhouse has been so disgruntled that it is this noticeable. It’s a real shame, too, because I really liked this team and thought this season was pretty special. I hate to see it ending like this.

  149. Liberty Media is basically a cable company, and CEO John Malone is a lot like Ted Turner: owns an incredible amount of land, make gobs of money off of cable television, and used a piece of his fortune to buy the Braves.

    Liberty hasn’t been great for the Braves — they’ve forced us to trim our belts quite a bit — but honestly, it could be a whole lot worse. They keep their hands off and let us do what we need to do to make the team better, and we’ve won a ton of games while being owned by them. Of all of our problems, they’re not the biggest.

    Our biggest problem, as I see it, is our complete lack of positional talent in the minor leagues. We graduated three really good ones in Simmons, Heyward, and Freeman, but we need a whole lot more.

    Remember: the Braves have won their division 15 times in the last 23 years, along with two Wild Cards and one cancelled postseason. This team has been consistently excellent. I’d rather try to incrementally improve on success than to blow the whole team up.

  150. @190, I don’t hate him…I just think he’s an idiot. There’s no way to know if we can do better without trying something else.

  151. @191 – I don’t know for certain (of course, how could any of us) but when I read things about the team questioning some of the baseball decisions, I read that to mean “a lot of the players were Dan Uggla’s friends.”

  152. @193 – The man just won 94 games with a half-assed lineup that was hamstrung by a third of its payroll hitting like A-ball washouts. What exactly do you expect someone who isn’t an “idiot” to do? I mean, seriously? He just won 94 games and the division without Jonny Venters, without Eric O’Flaherty, without BJ Upton, without Dan Uggla, without Tim Hudson, without Brandon Beachy. What exactly do you think would constitute “not an idiot” levels of success?!

  153. @183 – objectively untrue that Braves fans – or at least this corner of them – would have yelled at Fredi if our best reliever had lost it.

    Early Division Series Game Thread: Game Four, Braves at Astros

    That’s the game thread from Game 4 of the ’05 NLDS. Starting at about comment 165, people put Bobby on blast for a lot of things, but not for bringing his best reliever in to get six outs. That never came up in that whole thread.

    I honestly wonder if the two worst playoff losses in our modern history (’96 WS #4, ’05 DS #4) being blown six-out saves by The Closer created a bit of received wisdom within the organization that one should not attempt that in a playoff game.

  154. @194

    I think there is some truth to that. I would imagine there are other issues as well.

    This is an odd situation for the Braves to be in. If there is clubhouse issues, changes will come.

  155. Tactically speaking, using Carpenter in the 8th was the correct call. You could either go to Kimbrel to get Puig/Uribe/Ellis/Shumaker/Either/Crawford (plus Ellis/Ramirez) if anyone gets on base in either inning). In that case your fall back plan, in case Kimbrel falters in either inning, is Hale vs the top of the Dodgers order in the 9th. Do you want to take that chance, or trust David Carpenter to retire RH batters instead?

    Fredi made the right move.

  156. @196, Actually, 96 wins. So he’s even two fewer losses objectively an idiot.

    But about Venters and O’Flaherty, those guys didn’t matter. Relievers are fungible.

  157. @195 – it’s not like this team has no talent. The players could’ve managed themselves to 90 wins. I don’t want someone that lets a pitcher hit and then pulls him when the first batter reaches base the next inning. I don’t want someone that would bench Dan Uggla when his replacement is worse (why do that to the clubhouse?). I don’t want someone that shows zero sense of urgency in must-win games. I don’t want someone that manages to the save statistic. I don’t like our team being the self-appointed no-fun police. I could go on forever…the point is I that disagree with his tactics in nearly every game. He drives me nuts. If that’s irrational then I’m guilty as charged.

  158. @198, the interesting question is that, because there was a base open and the back of the Dodger lineup after Uribe sucks, you could argue that Carpenter should either have issued an IBB or an “unintentional intentional” walk by pitching around him.

    It sucks that he didn’t bring in Kimbrel. But the even harder sabermetric question is: should Fredi have been willing to issue a walk to get around Uribe, whose one good tool is power?

  159. The shittiest thing about that entire inning was that Uribe was trying to give us an out on the first two pitches, but Carpenter’s stuff was too hard to bunt.

    I have one humble request for next season. If we’re in a situation where a gut-punching homer can beat us, and we’ve gotten to two strikes with 97mph gas, can we put a shock collar on Gattis/Laird/Fredi/whoever to prevent a slider from being called?

  160. @195 – it’s not like this team has no talent. The players could’ve managed themselves to 90 wins.

    Just blind assertion. Nothing more. Sorry, buddy. But this is just you disliking a guy, not rational critique of a manager’s success or failure.

    I don’t want someone that lets a pitcher hit and then pulls him when the first batter reaches base the next inning. I don’t want someone that would bench Dan Uggla when his replacement is worse (why do that to the clubhouse?). I don’t want someone that shows zero sense of urgency in must-win games. I don’t want someone that manages to the save statistic. I don’t like our team being the self-appointed no-fun police.

    Through that list: a minor tactical decision that amounts to style points more than anything else; there’s no statistical case to be made that Dan Uggla – 10 for 101 Dan Uggla down the stretch – was better than his replacement; this is mere aesthetics, but I think it’s the crux of the matter actually; a popular meme for internet fans, but name one successful manager in all of MLB that doesn’t manage to established roles; why are you blaming Fredi Gonzalez for Brian McCann and Chris Johnson’s redassery?

    I think the real problem you have comes down to that bit about “zero sense of urgency” and “he drives me nuts.” I think you don’t like the aesthetics of Fredi’s style, so you make up reasons to say he’s a bad manager, ignoring the fact that he wins baseball games (with a roster that really should have folded down the stretch in 2013.) That’ irrational. Sorry. It just is.

    I could go on forever…the point is I that disagree with his tactics in nearly every game. He drives me nuts. If that’s irrational then I’m guilty as charged.

  161. I’ve been a pretty big defender of Fredi, and I have to say that were it up to me, I would not fire him. Were it up to me, I’d never fire a 96-win, division-champion manager. To do so just seems kind of dumb. But I will say that if we do fire him, for whatever reason, I will not be all broken up about it, either. If the team has turned on him, perhaps he’s run his course, and that’s something that only people involved with the team can know.

  162. The Uggla thing isn’t about baseball, it’s about managing the clubhouse – something that Fredi supporters like to tout as his primary strength. To me he lost this team in late September, and we rolled into the Dodgers series with a bunch of people on the team having no respect for the manager. Is that solely why we lost? Probably not. But I can’t see how it helped.

  163. I think Kimbrel should have been brought in the bottom of the 7th after Avilan had given up a double to Mark Ellis and intentionally walked Hanley Ramirez. He wound up getting Adrian Gonzalez to get the third out, so it all worked fine, but when my buddy asked me who I’d bring in, that was my answer. Kimbrel.

    To which I instantly replied: But that’s not by the book, so it’ll never happen.

    The way I see it, Kimbrel should have faced Adrian Gonzalez, Puig, Uribe and Schumaker at a minimum. Bring somebody else in for the save if need be. Because the save stat is stupid, but it’s what drives salaries in the closer market, so it will never ever go away and there’s a ton of peer pressure for managers to keep managing towards the save.

    Therefore, I propose something called a High-Value Save (HVS). It’s a save given to a Closer* for any successful appearance in which he is brought in before the 9th inning, whether he finishes the game or not. Those HVS stats would look glowing next to the traditional Save stat. An agent could say “my client led the league with five successful HVS appearances last year” during an arbitration hearing, for instance. It would get closers and money people on board with more non-traditional uses of their talents, and allow managers the flexibility that deep down they know makes a ton of common sense.

    * Obviously, a closer would have to be designated. Kimbrel would be our established “closer” and only closers could qualify for this stat.

    I haven’t kicked the tires on this idea much at all, so for all I know someone will point out an obvious flaw that will make me look like an idiot, but this seems to me to be a balanced way to find a way to play common sense baseball.

  164. @201 – no, you go after Uribe. David Carpenter, who had K’d 48 of the 157 RHB he’d faced in 2013, vs Uribe (who had only hit 12 HRs in 2013, and only 5 in the previous two seasons combined) is better than putting him on (as the go ahead run) and going through Ellis (RHB), Schumaker (LHB) and Ethier (LHB with 12 HRs of his own.)

    I accept as much as anyone that the *result* sucks. But David Carpenter vs RHBs in 2013 was one of the most certain match-ups in the league, and you go with him vs the RHB 5/6/7 spots and save Kimbrel to face the PH Either (LHB), Crawford (LHB, 2 HR already in the game), Mark Ellis and quite likely Hanley Ramirez in the ninth. You opt to trust Carpenter to do what he’s done all year, rather than take a chance on a six out save, and have David Hale facing Hanley Ramirez in the ninth.

    In a short series, the bad luck punched the Braves in the ‘sack again. That sucks, man. I get that. I get that real good. But Fredi made the correct move with his bullpen in Game 4.

  165. The Uggla thing isn’t about baseball, it’s about managing the clubhouse – something that Fredi supporters like to tout as his primary strength. To me he lost this team in late September…

    What is your evidence for this?

  166. If you go to Kimbrel in the 7th or 8th, the odds that the game is on the line with Hanley Ramirez facing David Hale in the 9th is better than 50/50.

  167. Whenever Sam is berating you for being an “internet fan” or whatever, keep in mind that he’s posted this within the last 48 hours.

    I haven’t watched an inning of the playoffs in four years. A little radio. Some online scorekeeping. I can’t stand the playoffs. I can’t stand the atmosphere. The noise. The crowd. (Even home crowds.) It ruins the game. Turns it into football. Baseball is a quiet afternoon in the sun on a warm summer’s day, not this crap.

  168. @208, the Heyward quote is enough for me. Everything else is rumors and hearsay.

    I don’t envy Fredi in that he was dealt a difficult hand with Uggla and BJ – both elder statesmen (for this team at least) with good seasons in their pasts – just flat out not getting it done. He chose to exclude Dan from the roster. Not bench him, mind you, but basically kick him out totally. That is a tough pill to swallow when the replacements where who they were. We didn’t exactly replace him with Robinson Cano.

  169. Not sure how that is relevant @210. I watch a lot of baseball. Just not playoff baseball. I don’t like the playoffs.

  170. @211 – no, we replaced him with a guy that, statistically – sabermetrically – was better than him. I mean, if you take defensive WAR seriously at all, Elliot Johnson was the better player. You could argue either way. But it’s a 25 man roster and someone had to sit down. It was Dan Uggla, probably because in an emergency BJ Upton could fake it at 2B, while Uggla could never fake it in the OF if needed.

  171. No, keeping him off the roster was pure spite imho. I would love to know what really happened to get us to that point. We carried one extra infielder (who is terrible and can’t ever bat) and we were an ankle sprain away from Laird playing 3B or some crazy assed shit like that. That was an insane decision…most likely a personal one. Hopefully we’ll find out one day when the Uggla Chronicles are published. I’m genuinely curious to see how this really played out.

  172. @209

    There is roughly zero chance that David Hale would’ve been facing Hanley Ramirez with the game on the line unless we’re talking about extra innings. If we had used Kimbrel at the start of the eighth, we’d have had Carpenter (since he wouldn’t have been used), Ayala, Walden and Wood still in the bullpen. All of whom would’ve faced Ramirez in the situation you’re referencing before David Hale would have.

    And there’s a pretty good chance Kimbrel would’ve either gotten through the two innings or lost the game himself. He might not have gotten through three, but I wouldn’t have used him in the seventh, knowing that I was about to use him for the final six outs. I’d have done exactly what Fredi did in the seventh. Pitch Avilan, walk Ramirez when I had to, and get an Avilan-Gonzalez matchup.

  173. I’m not going to convince you otherwise, because it’s not really possible to reason someone out of an irrational belief. But I don’t think you have any evidence at all that Uggla was left off of the post-season roster due to “spite” or a “personal” grudge with Fredi. You have a pre-existing dislike for Fredi, so you read any move involving him with as much antipathy to him as possible. Thus you assume “personal” grudges and “spite” when, again, Dan Uggla was 10 for 101 with bad defense.

  174. I was asked to provide reasons why I don’t like him. I think leaving Uggla off the roster is disrespectful and totally unnecessary (since there was no baseball advantage gained by doing so). That’s a rational reason to not like him. Or at least no more irrational than not watching playoff games because “you don’t like them”.

  175. @213 – There were like 7 OF on the playoff roster. For the infield it was Janish and then Gerald Laird, he of the 0 infield innings since…when? Putting Jose Constanza on a postseason roster that’s already got a Schafer and Lesser Upton on it was ridiculous, completely regardless of the who was left off in his stead. That it was Uggla, a guy that you KNOW is beloved in the clubhouse, was just indefensible. If your choice is a human mascot in Constanza or in Uggla, a manager that’s got a clue about clubhouse management is going to axe the one whose exclusion won’t alienate his whole clubhouse. So minus one point for tactics, minus one point for psychological management.

  176. @218

    I actually didn’t have a problem with Constanza on the playoff roster, since he was used properly. If used as a pinch-runner and occasional pinch-hitter, I think he’s actually pretty useful. He got a bad rap because everybody got mad about him “stealing starts” from Heyward, but he’s a way better hitter than anyone on here gives him credit for. Jose Constanza was always gonna be way more useful than Dan Uggla in that series.

  177. Uggla played himself off the roster. Elliot scored the go ahead run after he tripled and Roadrunner singled him in. 6 months of hard work may give Uggla his batting eye back.

  178. Seven tweets of interest from DOB. Uggla’s clearly a goner.

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 3h
    #Braves Fredi G said he wouldn’t have done anything differently as far as moves made in Game 4, including planned use of Kimbrel

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 3h
    #Braves Fredi G said Kimbrel told him before game he’d done whatever needed to help win, whether it was pitch 2 innings or anything else.

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 3h
    #Braves Fredi G characterized Kimbrel’s comment as he would any pitcher or hitter saying before big game that he’d do whatever it took, etc

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 3h
    #Braves Fredi G said Mo Rivera an ex-starter and pitched multiple innings as middle reliever before becoming closer. And “different animal.”

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 3h
    #Braves Fredi G on if he thinks Uggla will be back: “I don’t know. I know every year we make a lot of tweaks on the club to get better.”

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 3h
    Pena to start throwing soon, hopes to play winter ball RT @chrissaundey: @ajcbraves With that contract, where would he go? Also, Pena rehab?

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 3h
    Don’t know, haven’t seen/heard enough. RT @supes23: @ajcbraves do you think Tommy La Stella is ready for Atlanta if they can move Uggla?

  179. @217 – I have never claimed that my personal preferences about playoff baseball were rational or irrational. They’re my tastes. I prefer baseball in the middle of the season, in half full stadiums with a quiet buzz. I prefer minor league games and even the occasional college game. I don’t like the noise and distraction of the playoffs. That’s just my tastes. I’ve never claimed that you or anyone else has to accept them as your own.

    You on the other hand want a manager who just won 96 games to be fired because you don’t think he shows enough emotion in the dugout, or because he lets his pitchers hit and try to go deeper into games. There’s a distinction of merit there.

    @218: I suspect – guessing as much as anyone else of course – that it came down to BJ and Uggla, and BJ could fake 2B in a pinch. The roster was basically the starters, plus:

    BJ Upton – CF/2B in an emergency
    Janish – backup SS/2B/3B
    Laird – backup C
    Schafer – OF/PH/PR
    Constanza – OF/PH/PR

    The fact that Upton came up as a middle infielder and could fake second if things went crazy pushes him above Uggla, who can’t play anywhere BUT second. Janish was there in case something happened to Simmons.

  180. So I’ll just leave at “my personal tastes aren’t for Fredi”. And my personal tastes wouldn’t be for BJ Upton playing 2B in the playoffs either.

  181. @223 Upton also had value as a pinch runner. Leaving Uggla off the roster is perfectly defensible for purely tactical reasons without needing to bring speculation about personal feelings of management or their relationship with Uggla into it.

  182. @224 is a perfectly valid thing to say. Because it admits up front that it’s mere opinion and preference.

  183. @225 – But speculation about personal feelings and management of relationship with Uggla is a huge part of it. If that move cost Fredi his clubhouse, then the value of having a third pinch runner on the team pales in comparison. No idea if Fredi actually has lost the team, but there are certainly cracks showing in the smiling facade, and it would be at least reasonable speculation to think that Uggla’s treatment is the reason.

  184. @191 @194 @197

    As someone who’s been in locker rooms for season-ending locker cleanout media availability (albeit for other pro sports), not having one starter in there for the two hours is almost without precedent. I’ve only seen it once in my experience — and not long after that, the head coach was fired.

    There’s either a player mutiny, or something’s afoot upstairs. Or possibly both.

  185. @227 – I don’t disagree with you here, but I think it’s odd that we’re discussing the possibility that Fredi may have “lost the clubhouse” for making the correct tactical move (again.) It’s interesting, because if Fredi went with Upton over Uggla because of positional flexibility and better options to run late in games, then he made the sabermetric call. If he loses his clubhouse or his job because of that, it bears mentioning that he would have gotten fired for being too modern in his thinking.

  186. @229 But Sam, it’s very easy to make the argument (as many have) that leaving Uggla off the NLDS roster was not “the correct tactical move”. The decision wasn’t “Uggla or BJ”, it was “pick four out of Uggla/BJ/Janish/Constanza/Schafer”. Janish and Schafer were greatly hobbled by injury; Constanza and Schafer have basically identical skill sets and limitations.

    Also, the concern is that Fredi lost the clubhouse by leaving Uggla off the roster entirely, not his decision to start EJ at 2B over Uggla (which I will readily agree was likely correct from a sabermetric standpoint).

    It’s simple to knock down straw man arguments, as you have done.

  187. @218 From the way you argue it, then it was Uggla was the human mascot: someone you keep around because he makes everyone feel good.

    We would have been swept if Uggla and not Johnson had been starting at 2B.

  188. @230 – they’re all strawmen to some degree. Uggla. BJ. Janish. George. Success! It’s a pick four of crap either way, and there’s no way to do it that doesn’t bruise some egos. If you drop Janish you don’t have a real backup SS – Elliot Johnson becomes your Simmons insurance. You don’t have a backup 3B. Gerald Laird becomes the emergency replacement for Chris Johnson. If you drop Schafer you have the same “not taking a guy that’s been there all year” clubhouse problem, I’d guess. Same with BJ.

    It comes down to Constanza vs Uggla, and Fredi chose a guy that was capable of making contact a little and could run over a guy that swung through everything and couldn’t.

  189. ****We would have been swept if Uggla and not Johnson had been starting at 2B.****

    Zero truth to this statement.

  190. @231, 233

    Yeah, there’s really no basis for this argument. It’s not like Eliot did anything during Game 2 that was in any way responsible for winning the game.

  191. @231 – (+) 1 big hit, (-) 13 other awful at bats and several big defensive miscues for johnson. He gave a little and took away much. And yes, if the choice is between a worthless player who keeps everyone happy vs. one who eats shit off his bat, then I’d take the former.

  192. So, I take it this is all I missed: Fredi not giving Kimbrel the chance for a six-out save was really a choice between using Carpenter in the eighth or Hale in the ninth. And the possibility of moving on from Fredi is really about how geeks feel about Joe Maddon.


  193. @232 – bingo
    Constanza puts the ball in play and with his speed puts pressure on defenses. Uggla was doing a lot of walking back to the dugout.

    Its pure speculation, but I wouldnt be surprised if we find out later that Fredi lost the team with the Uggla decision. The dugout mentality is that a guy is good if he has been good in the past no matter how bad he has been lately.

  194. @236 – if you want to frame the argument for moving on from a guy that wrung 96 wins out of that roster, I’m listening.

  195. Good grief. He turned a double play in the 3rd that was one of the keys to that victory. Uggla lacked the athleticism to make that turn and deliver a throw. With the way Crawford came in, it’s questionable whether Uggs — who’s not exactly sure handed around the bag — could even secure the force out at 2nd. Minor settled in right after that.

  196. I’ll stop crapping on Fredi…let’s just see how it plays out. Someone needs to interview drunk Chipper and get his take.

    If last offseason I had told you that the playoff bench would be Constanza, Schafer, Janish, Laird, and BJ Upton — and that Elliot Johnson was starting at 2B, and that Dan Uggla was kicked off the team, would you have asked me to take a pee test? Most definitely. I want to blame someone for this. Anyone. Wren. Fredi. Schuerholtz. Liberty Media dickwads. Francoeur. All of the above.

  197. Do you think we would’ve won the series with Upton Upton Heyward in the OF with Gattis behind the plate? Bmac called terrible games and didn’t do anything at the plate.

  198. @241, Fredi apologist that I am, I will say without hesitation that I don’t see how we win that series without the top of our order going nuts. McCann was definitely LVP though. Wish him well personally, but it’s time for a new era.

  199. The villain is liberty media. The payroll is absurdly low for our market. The team should have the payroll of the Cards. That’s the difference between Medlen/Minor/Teheran/Garcia and Lee/Medlen/Minor/Teheran. That’s the difference between Jose Constanza and Carlos Beltran.

  200. It’s still somewhat tough watching Wainwright toss yet another postseason masterpiece. That mistake feels like eons ago, but oh what could’ve been…

  201. I am a longtime observer but a rare poster, and I usually agree with Sam. I’ll start by saying that Sam has done a bang-up job this year needling the folks at BTF. Many of the posters on that site deserve the shock therapy that is Sam’s staple.

    In this instance, though, I’m going to disagree with Sam. I think that Fredi deserves credit for navigating tough waters this season and getting 96 wins out of a roster beset with injuries and ineffectiveness at several different positions. He did a good job this year leading up to the final month. However, he appears to have continued the modus operandi of Braves teams since the late 90s: play tight and screw it up late. Under Fredi, we’ve seen two 3-1 NLDS losses, a blown WC game, and an epic collapse. That’s building on top of more than a decade of playoff futility. You can come up with reasons that we lost every one of those series – I know, I’ve been doing it for years. You can also say that the playoffs are a crapshoot, and you’d be right. However, if the playoffs are so random, shouldn’t we at least win a series once in awhile? Win a decisive game? Or win a game decisively?

    You couldn’t ever fire Bobby, not after he built the franchise into what it is today. You let him finish his career in the way he saw fit. I’m not sure Fredi should be as protected. The Red Sox fired Francona after their collapse, despite the fact that he helped them break the curse. We gave Fredi more time, but I think I’ve seen enough.

    P.S. That doesn’t mean I’d hire Bobby Valentine.

  202. I can’t think of an NLCS matchup I’d rather see less than a Dodger/Cardinal one. At this rate, I’m going to have to root for the American League.

  203. If there’s a more annoying franchise in sports than the St. Louis Cardinals, I’d like to meet it. And punch it square in the nuts.

  204. @245, I agree. May I humbly add to your list the whiling away of our home field advantage? We had that thing for most of the summer, only to see it crumble away on the last day of the season. Why is it the Braves that prove to be too impotent to hold onto something of value. I would have rather faced the Pirates than the Dodgers in the NLDS. We might still be playing.

  205. Fun Fact: Ramiro Pena played half a season as a backup infielder, and almost matched Uggla in OWAR.

  206. I dunno, even though I despise both teams, I think that’s a series I’d actually watch. The Cardinals do pretty well against Kershaw, and have the pitching to go toe-to-toe. I really don’t want the team with the $230M payroll to make it, but they’ll be the favorites I’m sure.

  207. @251, why not? They have ownership that gives a crap and is willing to invest in the on-field product. Besides simple envy that we don’t, what reason is there for not wanting that team to do well?

    Say what you will about the tenets of spending a zillion dollars on your team, dude, at least it’s an ethos. The Cardinals fielding Braves-talent-level rosters year after year and getting all the luck in the stupid playoffs, that’s what drives me insane.

  208. @252, I usually root for the underdog in games my team isn’t playing. It’s not due to latent Cardinal love, that’s for sure. David Freese hasn’t done shit all year and of course he’s a hero yet again. They make me ill. They are the yin to our yang.

  209. Underdogs in life who make it are admirable people. The problem with applying the plucky-underdog narrative to sports is that it tends to manifest as pro-cheap-ownership. “This whole team makes as much as the left side of this team’s infield!” – well, whose fault is that? Why am I supposed to root for the team run by the skinflint? I’m over cheap ownership. I want golden-age Ted Turner back. I want Prokhorov. I want a Braves owner who spends $300MM on annual player payroll because he has all the toys but wants a trophy. Go Dodgers, I say. Be the model.

  210. @252 Ditto. So tired of seeing the Cardinals overachieving in the playoffs. Though at least this year they had the best record, so it doesn’t bother me quite as much.

  211. Two words. Yasiel Puig. I will never root for a team with that guy on it. Never. Ima root for the DH league first.

  212. @256 – Totally agreed. I’m too young for any legacy Dodgers hatred from the Braves’ NL West days, but between Puig, Hanley, Brian Wilson, and Rick Honeycutt’s godawful teeth, I’m completely opposed to that franchise now. They’ve surpassed the Cardinals on my hate list.

  213. There isn’t a single solitary chance in all of hell that I’m going to be watching any of the Dodgers-Cardinals NLCS. I’ll watch the World Series and root for whoever the AL team is…and yes, I realize that probably means I’ll be rooting for the Red Sox.


    I really couldn’t care less what drunk Chipper thinks. I’m kind of with the players on him, actually. The team keeps inviting him back and all he does is publicly predict that we’re going to lose at every possible opportunity and help members of the opposing team out while we’re playing them. (And no, it really doesn’t make any difference to me if it was Adam LaRoche or Bryce freaking Harper.) Either go away or remain a visible part of the franchise and fall the hell in line. I really don’t care which. But he has to pick one, otherwise the Braves should pick him going away as the default.

    As far as Fredi goes, I will say this. As I said earlier, as a matter of course, I refuse to be in the business of firing 96-win, division-champion managers. However, there’s clearly something going on at Turner Field above and beyond another season-ending loss. If Fredi has lost the players (and I’m not saying that he has…I don’t think we know what’s going on down there, only that something is), he has to be let go. I still think he gets kind of a bum rap around here, but he’s not indispensable. He’s steady, and as such, doesn’t really bring anything extraordinary to the table, by definition. If keeping him around next year is gonna create a clubhouse issue, you have to jettison him and move on.

  214. @246 I agree. At this point, I have to pull for Detroit or Oakland.

    As everyone has stated, the Braves need a shutdown starter (see Wainwright). Furthermore, it’s time for Heyward to rise to Buster Posey superstar status. After all, we Braves fan thought he should have been ROY over Posey.

    Nationally, this has been one of the most disliked Braves clubs in recent memory. Freeman, McCann, the head cases Upton brothers,….as an earlier poster stated, thank goodness for Simmons and Heyward approaches.

  215. I generally have been OK with Fredi’s managing. I mean, there is plenty of shit to nit-pick and grumble about, but that’s true of all managers. It’s also worth mentioning that he has improved noticeably in the last few years. I think most Braves Journalers would agree with that, regardless of their overall opinion of Fredi. He seems, like Cox, to keep a steady keel over the long haul. Maybe the narrows of the playoffs are his downfall, but I’m not personally ready to say so yet.

    However, it seems hard to deny that there is some clubhouse discord. There are smoke signals puffing out from multiple sources that might suggest an underlying landfill fire. I don’t remember that ever happening under Cox. And if it is true, I am for a new skipper.

  216. Puig fans, I reckon. (Sadly, I know many ostensibly Rockies fans who claim him just because their team sucks and he was good this year).

  217. @261
    Exactly! I live in upstate NY. Most of the people I talk about baseball with cheer for the Yanks, BoSOx, Mets or Phillies. I hear all kinds of shit about all kinds of Braves players. I’ve never heard anybody say anything negative about Freeman.

  218. Yeah, no Braves fan ought to be saying anything bad about Freeman or his attitude. McCann, although I took his side in every dust-up that went on this year, I get. I, too got tired of the Uptons and Uggla staring at a thousand strike threes and then glaring at the umpire. But not Freeman. Hug life forever.

    I also sense that something about this team just isn’t as likable as I’m used to seeing from the Braves. I chalk that up 98% to losing Prado.

  219. @260

    I agree. The clubhouse is the biggest part of his job. If the players are turning on him, I’d make a move.

    People want to compair him to Bobby Cox, but they are different in a lot of ways.

  220. If there is a problem in the clubhouse, Uggla was probably in the middle of it and he’ll be let go over the winter. That’s an easy fix. McCann’s departure may clear the air as well. Wren then will look for some veteran types to fill out the roster, players in the mode of Ross and Hinske who will provide leadership at bargain prices. If that doesn’t fix it, then I can see Wren sending Fredi out to walk the plank. And that’s probably the right way to do it.

  221. @261 I was wondering the same thing. Until the two posts on this thread, I cannot remember a single instance of anyone saying they didn’t like Freddie (outside of the ESPN “How DARE his fans vote him in over Puig” All-Star thing). He’s one of my favorite Braves. He seems really popular with the fans and with his teammates. In fact, after he made it to the All-Star game and met the other NL All-Stars, he seems to be really popular around the league, too. He and Matt Harvey had a really funny Twitter exchange shortly after that. Then there was the whole Jose Fernandez thing (before the home run and the near-brawl). The “Freeman Hugs” mantra has reached national media and on the rare occasions you hear something positive about the Braves from them, that is usually mentioned.

    A couple of months ago I came to the realization that I would be really surprised if Freddie ever signs a long-term contract with the Braves (although I certainly see them trying to get him to). He’s from the west coast and has never hidden how much he loves going back there, and once I started to get the vibe of how popular he is across the league, I got this feeling that he’ll play through his arbitration years here and then move on. I hope I am wrong about that. He did not accept the deal the Braves offered him last Spring, though, and so I fear I may be right.

  222. Honestly, Fredi has improved in each of the past three years. First year: not making the playoff on the last day of the season. Second year: lost the wild card game. Third year: Lost the NLDS.

    At this rate, we will win the world series in 2016.

  223. So, here’s a different management perspective: If the Braves say that they built this team to win it all, and the team didn’t win it all, then someone, or perhaps many someones, in the organization should be held accountable to that.

    If the Braves say that they built the team to win it all, and the team didn’t win it all, and nothing happens, then how could we expect anyone in the organization to learn anything other than, “It’s OK just to make the playoffs.”

    People will argue that the playoffs are a crapshoot, which implies that real accountability for playoff performance doesn’t make all that much sense, and they’re probably right to a large degree. But as long as we’re saying it, and then not following through on it, it’s sending a message that, like it or not, creates a culture of complacency.

  224. adulation from the masses
    so seeks Fredi, just how crass is
    actually a keeper
    want we nothing deeper
    he attending judgment classes.

  225. The message to the fans lately is that we overachieve to make the playoffs. That gives cover to falling short, and “mission accomplished, great season!” for going out in the first round (8 of the last 9 opportunities or something like that).

    This may be our ceiling if we don’t spend money. I can’t really say that I thought we were the best team in the NL. I expected us to lose to the Dodgers in 3, so getting bent out of shape is really not warranted. I think it’s just the bad taste from how the last month of the season played out and how heartbreaking it was to watch us play so well in game 4 when everyone in the world thought we had no shot. I think I’m over it now. Mostly.

    If we can add a few pieces (actual tangible improvements, not filler) and keep this thing on an upwards trajectory then I’m fine.

  226. The Braves have much more latitude with their fanbase as far as the “playoffs are a crapshoot” mentality is concerned. Otherwise, the playoff streak would have killed us all.

    But the Braves weren’t even competitive in this series. Certainly much of that blame falls on Medlen’s and Teheran’s shoulders. But plenty of decisions from the front office and the dugout got us to that point.

  227. @271

    I think the goal has been to make the playoffs for the last 7-8 years and see what happens.

    Things may have changed after last year. I think we will see some changes in the organization this winter. They won’t be quick. The Braves don’t panic and don’t make quick moves.

    I don’t think there will be a manager change, but if there is it will be in the next three weeks. It is hard to start looking for a manager in November-December.

  228. I’m not sure what decisions from the dugout got us to the point of Medlen and Teheran spitting the bit in their playoff starts. I’m pretty sure Fredi didn’t tell Julio to freak out like a teenage girl.

    And it’s hard to grok the idea that they “weren’t even competitive” in the LDS. They won one game. They were in line to win game 4 until freak acts of fat happened.

  229. failure owns your soul
    Dan Uggla
    a Royal jester robbed you
    how dare your eyes
    fail you in year three
    of wild helicopter swings

  230. Having Gattis flounder around left field watching run-scoring line drives land all around him is one, certainly. The defensive positioning that put Andrelton Simmons out of range of plays he made all year is another.

    edit: In a best of three series, the Braves were blown out in two games. That sounds pretty non-competitive to me. But you’re right, win game 4 and the complexion of the series changes. However, the Braves didn’t win game 4, and I, lots of posters here, and a large portion of baseball media types believe that Fredi’s bullpen management played an extra large role in that.

  231. The manager is the easiest thing to change. Improving the actual team is going to be a lot tougher. I think it’s nearly a lock that we’ll shuffle the pitching staff a bit. Getting better hitters is going to be difficult. We’re dependent on our core guys having better seasons, and BJ at least becoming a non-negative. Assuming that we were willing and able to acquire a big bat, where would he play?

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