Braves 1 Brewers 0

ESPN Box Score

For 6.2 innings this afternoon, the Braves embarrassed themselves by getting no hit by Matt Garza. Perhaps more humiliatingly, however, the Brewers spent the first six innings getting no hit by Aaron Harang. Fortunately, misery loves company, so the afternoon offered plenty of bonding time for rival fans in the stands. Both pitchers were making their debuts with their new ball clubs, and both succeeded in making their first innings memorable.

Chris Johnson continues to show no interest in regressing. Will we have to soon start referring to it as the Johnson trade in which we also got Justin Upton? He got the game’s first hit in the 7th inning, and it was a long one. His homer to left center field proved to be the game’s only run, which is exactly what you would (not) have predicted from a Harang/Garza matchup.

Harang finally stumbled in the bottom of the 7th and gave up a couple of hits, but Luis Avilan got the final out of the inning with runners on the corners to end the threat. Harang’s outing was enough to make anyone still upset over the release of Freddy Garcia (please tell me this is no one) have to think twice that maybe Wren and company do, in fact, know what they are doing. It also provides a glimmer of hope that the Braves may have just enough pitching to bridge the gap until our real guys get healthy.

David Carpenter and Craig Kimbrel worked the 8th and 9th without incident. Kraken was nice to his teammates and only recorded one strikeout, giving them the chance to play some defense behind him. Jason Heyward delivered, making a spectacular diving catch in shallow right to rob Carlos Gomez of a hit.

To add to the unpredictability of this game, B.J. Upton and Gerald Laird recorded the other two Braves’ hits, and the Braves won 1-0 in Milwaukee, which, according to ESPN, is a feat they last accomplished in 1964 as the home team.

A series win to start the season is always nice, and a series win at a ballpark where the Braves have been particularly horrible for the past few seasons is even nicer. The guys can enjoy Thursday’s off-day now and head to Washington on a high note.

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65 thoughts on “Braves 1 Brewers 0”

  1. I’d like to know how many trades there were in which a throw-in excelled far beyond the primary target of the trade.

  2. Eh… I’d still like to see Freddy Garcia in the fold. He was a quality arm, and the Braves will probably need quality arms when one of their rehabbing pitchers suffers a setback or another pitcher gets injured.

  3. @5. How does that work? How come th Cards can spend more than us?

    Garza is not a bad pitcher by any means. Getting this kind of performance from Harang is unbelievable. What else can we say about Wren? He may not be very good in free agent signings, but the guy has been absolutely brilliant outside of that.

  4. @10, assuming there’s not injury set-backs, what would you guess the odds are of Graham pitching meaningful innnings for the big club in 2014. I’d say right now they are pretty high.

  5. @7 I think it depends on what you are comparing them in. If it’s expectations, then definitely. And it’s amazing how much expectations can shape perception.

  6. Also, I guess someone should point out that Pedro Beato is now on our team. Corresponding roster move won’t be made until Friday, so someone (Varvaro?) gets to think he’s in the big leagues for one more day until cruel reality sets in.

  7. @13 – My thoughts exactly. Both guys put up exactly 2.4 bWar last season. But Johnson was perceived as a “throw-in” and Justin a “Future MVP.” And then they go out and have equally valuable seasons (even though Johnson got a +2.5 run adjustment for playing 3B badly, and Justin got a -7.5 for playing a bad LF.) But suddenly Johnson has “excelled far beyond” Justin.

  8. Since my words are being used in scare quotes, please note I didn’t say Johnson has “excelled far beyond” Upton. I was asking which if any trades in baseball history fit that bill, since the thought was suggested by the game recap that the Johnson/Upton trade may soon meet that criteria.

  9. @12 – if he performs at AAA I think he gets 3-4 starts in the bigs this year, between emergency starter and call-up in September.

    RE: CJohnson vs JUpton

    Upton has given the Braves a return of $6.04 million per point of WAR.
    Johnson has given the Braves a return of $0.95 million per point of WAR.

    Advantage Regression.

  10. @22 – yes. They’ve both contributed 2.4 WAR in 2013. JUpton cost 14.25mil for those 2.4 WAR. Regression just over 2mil for the same contribution. Johnson has clearly been the more “valuable” player based on cost to contribution. Now, I think Johnson is probably at the top of his potential value, and JUpton still has the ability to drop a 6.something WAR on the league like he did a few years ago. But from the Braves’ POV, Johnson is clearly the more valuable player so far.

  11. @24,

    Eddie Mathews went out and got drunk after the game. The Braves total payroll was a fraction of BJ Upton’s salary. The date September 11 had no special meaning. And there was this place called Viet Nam . . .

  12. @21

    Who would go on the fake DL this early in the season? You do know it’s technically not allowed, right? So there has to be somebody who’s at least fatigued or sore or whatever who can be convinced that 15 days on the DL might be a good idea, otherwise we get a union grievance filed against us. Also, if it’s Varvaro, why would you want Varvaro on the DL instead of in AAA?

  13. @5, I’m so confused why the Cardinals, Dodgers, Red Sox, etc. get to spend more money on prospects this summer than the Braves do. Seems counterintuitive given the normal rules of reverse-order drafting. How does that work?

  14. @30

    Yeah, but you don’t just do it for the hell of it. Somebody’s going down to Gwinnett. If Varvaro’s out of options, it’ll be Buchter, probably.

  15. @26. Wow, his Lou Brown is virtually indistinguishable from the guy who actually played him.

  16. Worse H/9. Worse K/99. Worse BB/9. Beato gives up more base runners and strikes out fewer batters. I mean, he was in the AL East I guess, but I just don’t see the big upgrade here.

  17. Re Beato/Varvaro: I feel like the Braves are signing Beato to increase their depth. Since Varvaro can’t be stashed at Gwinnett, adding Beato at the expense of Varvaro would be a wash. Someone with options will have to go down. (This is, unless Walden is hurt. I say this because it seems that Jordan Walden’s natural state is “hurt” and it just never gets reported.)

    Re Johnson/Upton: Johnson certainly out-valued Upton, there’s no arguing that. He got paid much, much less and put up nearly identical numbers. That’s different from out-performing him, or out-excelling him, or whatever. Their OBPs: .358/.354. Their SLG: .457/.464. Even RBI: 68/70, and doubles 34/27. Johnson got there by hitting 30 extra singles, and Upton by hitting 15 extra homers. But they got, almost literally, to the exact same place.

    Re Braves 1-0 win, in Milwaukee, first time since being the home team: Well. The Brewers didn’t exist until 1970, and then played in the AL until 1997. So it isn’t like we exactly had 50 years worth of opportunities.

  18. OH! And also:

    Did anybody hear about Bud Black’s replay request in San Diego last night? A throw to first was ruled to have pulled his 1B off the bag, but replay showed he held the bag. Black waited in the dugout until his replay guys had a decision, came out on the field, before the next pitch was delivered, and asked the umps to review it.

    But they wouldn’t, because he didn’t come out immediately. He didn’t come out and delay the game while his guy upstairs decided whether he should delay the game, so he didn’t get to avail himself of the replay system.

    So the system not only incentivises being a red-ass, it REQUIRES that you be one. That, or only challenge plays that were so obviously blown that you don’t need to see the replay to know it.. Which.. why have replay at all then?

  19. Anyone think to mention that Kimbrel’s save yesterday moves him into a tie with Gene Garber for 2nd on the all-time Braves career save list? That leaves him 13 behind Smoltz (or 14 to become the Braves career leader).

  20. That’s cool, but since the modern closer was basically only invented with Eckersley 25 years ago or so, franchise save total records don’t mean a lot to me. The bigger deal is that Craig Kimbrel is literally the first closer since Mariano Rivera — i.e., the first in nearly two decades — to be considered the consensus best closer in baseball for multiple years in a row.

    Here’s hoping he keeps it up, because I’m already regretting having drafted Papelbon.

  21. And between Garber & Kimbrel, you couldn’t find 2 more different types of closers.

    If they were TV/film characters, Kimbrel might be Rambo, while Garber certainly would be Fred Sanford.

  22. I realize it’s likely better at the end of the season for the Mets to be beating the Nationals now, but I just love when the Mets lose, especially in the first half of the season when their fans still have hope.

  23. #52
    Hope left town with Bernie Madoff.

    Especially this week, I’ve never heard so many Mets fans discussing NY Rangers’ playoff chances.

  24. @57 – He needs to make money some way. He took such a pay cut for staying with the Braves all those years. I’m sure he’s looking for every way possible to make money.

  25. I hate to say the “BJ” word around here–actually, I love saying it.

    Today in response to a question asked by someone else, Bill James elaborated on why he believes it’s currently impossible to get at the root of pitcher injuries through a study:

    “Well. . . I’ve tried to explain this before, but we’re trying to do something that I just don’t believe it is possible to do. There would be hundreds of elements to the equation that predicts injuries. You’d have to take workloads into account in about 40 different ways. ..how many innings did he throw, but it’s not the innings, it’s the pitches, and it’s not the total pitches, it’s the number of pitches in a game, and it’s not the total number of pitches in a game, it’s the number of high-stress pitches in a game. 1950 is different from 1970 is different from 1990. Starting is different from relief. Pitches at age 22 are different from pitches at age 25 are different from pitches at 28. A slider is different from a curveball is different from a fastball. A sidearm delivery is different from an overhand delivery; an overhand fastball is different from an overhand curve. Good mechanics are different from bad mechanics. Throwing a 100-MPH fastball is different from throwing a 90-MPH fastball. “Mechanics”, which I stated as one factor, is really 20; there’s a follow-through, and timing, and arm slot. Pitching in Fenway Park is different from pitching in Seattle; pitching in hot weather is different from pitching in cold weather. Pitching on a regular work schedule is different from pitching on an irregular schedule. A pitcher with an injury history is different than a pitcher with a good health record. xxxxxxxx If you have three or four different factors that are interacting to cause an effect, you can separate the factors and back the causes out of the effects; it’s treacherous, difficult and unreliable, but it can be done. If you have six or seven variables, it’s generally impossible. If you have hundreds of variables. . .forget it. It can’t be done. Ever. This is not to say that you can’t occasionally see something, and be entirely right about it. But there’s just no way to generalize reliably about cause and effect within the data that we have.”

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