Mariners 2, Braves Present

ESPN Box Score

What do the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves have in common? They are the only major league teams who have not yet won an interleague game during the 2014 season. Lest we grow too excited that our misery has found company, though, it is important to note that the Braves have played 3x more interleague games than the Astros. In other words, even the worst MLB teams have accomplished something this year the Braves just can’t seem to achieve.

Mike Minor was the tough-luck loser in this one, falling prey to that fate when his offense decided that scoring five runs in a two-game series was really all that was necessary. The hangover from last night’s Hibernation Mode wasted a 10-strikeout, 1-run effort from Minor, who pitched 7 pretty good innings and really needs to be the next guy signed to a long-term contract. Make it happen, Wren.

Today marked the one-week anniversary of Tommy La Stella’s major league debut, and all he’s done over that week so far is hit .409/.458/.409 and make some stella defensive plays (I hope he keeps this good defense up, because that pun is way too cheesy to not use again), including this one in the first inning today and these last night. It would be nice if he could hit with a little more power, but if he can keep making contact like he has been and getting on base consistently, he’ll make a great top-of-the-order guy.

Shea Simmons also continued his nice work today, coming in and striking out both batters he faced after Luis Avilan could only get one out and gave up a run.

Apart from our rookies, though, this game was pretty bleak. We got six hits (all singles), including two in the first inning that put runners on first and third with two outs. That was the only runner we got to third all game—not a great showing from the offense. The Offense did not have a great showing, either, completing the hat trick and stranding a couple of runners in the process. He was the only Brave to hit a fly ball to the outfield, but that’s not really much of a bright spot.

In the 9th, Justin Upton tried to leg out an infield single but was out in a play that I did not think was that close. Inexplicably, though, the Original Fredi Gonzalez decided to challenge the play. In a review that took all of 40 seconds (maybe that’s the key to speeding up the replay process—challenging only plays that are super obvious?) the call was confirmed. Fredi (or HoRam) has been on target with all of his challenges this year, so it was strange to see that one happen. Could that have been a little frustration (or desperation) showing?

Since we just had an off day before this two-game series, we get another one tomorrow (although after this they will be at a premium until the All-Star Break) and then head to Justin’s and Regression’s old stomping grounds to take on the Diamondbacks. We have a whole week before we have to take on any AL foes again—I hope we make the most of it.

Natspo(s) delenda est.

112 thoughts on “Mariners 2, Braves Present”

  1. Yes I do but I don’t understand that video other than the hitter looks like he is in love with his bat. Am I missing something incredibly obvious to everyone else?

  2. I interpreted that challenge as a “you can’t take it with you” moment. The play was reasonably close and at that point what’s the use of saving the challenge? Even if there was just a 5% chance of winning it, the upside of having the tying run at the plate in that situation in the 9th was so huge.

  3. Who goes down when Walden is ready? Hale or Wood? Or will they cut one of the scrubs?

  4. I don’t care about lefty/righty, Avilan has got to go. He just doesn’t have it right now.

    I am starting to get cautiously optimistic that La Stella might be the real deal. If he can be (a big “if) .300/.380/.400, that would be a tremendous lead-off hitter. I’m hoping he can be who I always thought Denard Span would be, a low-power, high-OBP, high-speed lefty at the top of the order. A rich man’s Endy Chavez/Jose Constanza/Juan Pierre type. Some of La Stella’s defensive highlights make me think he can handle MLB second base.

    And then with Simmons, it seems like we’re getting a bit of an infusion of talent. I’m still holding out hope that Venters can come back, and if he does, our bullpen could be:

    Kimbrel
    Walden
    Venters
    Simmons
    Carpenter
    Wood
    Hale

    Pretty sure you can win with that bullpen.

    Just need the offense to score runs.

  5. I think so too, but holding out hope.

    A lefty in the pen will be necessary. Avilan is not that guy and Wood should not be that guy.

  6. Not to take away from this blog, but I wrote about this situation last night over at Tomahawk Take: http://tomahawktake.com/2014/06/04/wheres-walden-braves/

    If the world were perfect and trades happened when I wanted them to (yes, I’m being selfish), then Harang, Varvaro, and Schafer would be packaged for a dominant LH bullpen arm, and and OF bench bat, moving Wood back to the rotation, the newly acquired lefty becomes 1st lefty out of the ‘pen, and the bench bat takes Schafer’s place on bench, and actually provides value other than base-stealing.

    By the way…Aaron Harang has been worth 1.8 WAR this year. The time to sell high on him is now.

  7. I wouldn’t move Harang now and you’re not going to get much for him. I don’t think you could even get the flu in exchange for Schafer and/or Varvaro.

    A solid lefty in the pen is a need though.

  8. @14, I unfortunately agree. I doubt that Harang has much value to other teams — two pretty good months aside, no one wanted him over the offseason and I doubt they’d be willing to give us much in exchange for him, plus we don’t really have much starting depth on the farm beyond the two guys, Wood and Hale, who are currently in our pen. I think he’s worth more to us than to another team right now.

  9. MLB instant replay just tweeted this:

    @MLBReplays: #SFvsCIN: @Reds challenge call that Buster Posey was safe at 1st base in the 3rd. Call overturned, runner is out: http://t.co/fPVARSGaVQ

    Braves fans everywhere respond: Posey is always out.

  10. I disagree on Harang. More than position players or relievers, Starting Pitchers are more about the “what have you done for me lately” on the trade market. Look at Ryan Dempster in 2012, Maholm in 2012, and Peavy in 2013. They brought back pretty decent returns and had fairly large salaries to boot. Harang is cheap and his peripherals aren’t far off from his actual numbers. In fact, his FIP is much lower than his ERA. The return I discussed, a left-handed bullpen arm and a bench bat, isn’t out of the realm of possibilities for Harang and Varvaro.

  11. Dempster, Maholm, and Peavy were all employed, though. Harang very nearly went without a job this offseason after the Indians released him in spring training. That was because, from 2008 to 2013, Harang put up an ERA+ of 90 while pitching in some truly cavernous home stadiums: Dodger Stadium, Petco, and Safeco.

    Going into this year, his value was lower than any of those pitchers you mentioned. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t be able to fetch something at the trade deadline, but I doubt he’d be able to bring back a lot, because prospects nowadays are so highly valued, possibly even overvalued.

  12. Well, some individual prospects are undoubtedly overvalued. But prospects as a whole may be properly valued, because the six years of control before eligibility for free agency are still the best bargain in baseball.

  13. For 2 years prior to last year, Harang held the 5th starter position down for West Coast teams, pitching 170 innings of sub-4 ERA baseball. Yes, he stunk last year but his FIP in the 2 years prior suggest he was a bit lucky, but not much. Jason Hammel and Brandon McCarthy are both going to be on the trade market. Hammel was god-awful, just like Harang last year, and would financially cost much more than Harang. The 2 are having similar years this year.

    The Diamondbacks are rumored to be asking for salary relief for McCarthy. If any team is strapped for cash and has the ability to trade for one of those 3 guys, Harang is most definitely in the conversation.

    My trade proposal didn’t suggest that we trade Harang for the 2nd coming of Puig but packaged for a bench bat and a lefty reliever. That’s doable.

    Most of the time, MLB team blogs are homerish in terms of trades, but this blog has been quite pessimistic about what our players are actually worth. I do realize I’m a homer and I’m cool with that, but what I’m suggesting isn’t.

  14. I agree. I don’t think putting Wood or Hale in the rotation makes us better.

    We can get a LOOGY using other parts.

  15. @22&23
    With the minor leagues being dry and probably tapped out on finances, the Braves will have to trade something of value to get value.

  16. A good rule of thumb is if a guy is having a second TJ procedure, you should probably assume he’s done. Anything you get after the second TJ is just cake. Venters. Medlen. Beachy. Done, done, and done. Wishing otherwise won’t make it less true.

  17. @25

    The caveat for that would be that if you had 3 of them on your roster, you could expect that one would come back and be decent.

  18. A lot of West Coast teams have incredibly pitcher-friendly parks. You have to discount the ERAs he posted by the park average. He hasn’t just been a below-average pitcher since 2008. He has been a significantly below-average pitcher — until this year, when, so far, he has been well above average.

  19. @28
    Alex, that’s not true, according to ERA+ or ERA-, both of which adjust to ballparks.

    Aaron Harang was not a well-below average starter in 2011 and 2012, no matter the park adjustment. He was slightly below one year and slightly above the other (ERA- of 103 and 96), which equals out to very much average. In 2008, he was worse than league average (ERA- of 109), and in 2009 he was a little better than league average (ERA- of 98). Yes, he was terrible 2 of the 6 years since ’08, but it doesn’t average out to well below league average.

    His career can basically be split in 2: ’02-’07, slightly better than average
    ’08-current, slightly worse than average.

  20. Ryan, in 1024 1/3 innings since 2008, Harang has an ERA- of 109 (9% worse than league average) and a FIP- of 108 (8% worse than league average). He has an ERA+ of 91, which is, again, 9% worse than league average.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=1000&type=1&season=2014&month=0&season1=2008&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=15,d

    He turned 30 in 2008. 1000 innings is a significant amount of time — that means that he’s eating innings, but giving up appreciably more runs than average. You could break it down by year — below average in 2008, average in 2009 and 2011, above average in 2012, atrociously bad in 2010 and 2013. In all, he’s been 9% below average in his last thousand innings pitched. In spite of a good performance this year, it’s hard to overlook the pitcher he’s been ever since he turned 30.

  21. @30
    I saw those numbers, Alex. I did the same research. Ok. Fair enough. And that makes him significantly-below league average? No. Does it make him below league average? Obviously yes.

    And when you used his 2008-current numbers discussing the cavernous parks, you neglected to mention the Great American Ballpark, a bandbox, of which Harang pitched 3 of those 6 years. Furthermore, 2 of the 3 years in the cavernous parks, Harang pitched to an ERA+ of 102, both of which were in the National League.

    In the last 4 seasons of which Aaron Harang has been in the National League, his ERA+ has been below average.

    However, I’ll go back to my original statement…

  22. @31
    The last statement should say his ERA+ has been better than league average. These pluses and minuses are driving my mathematical brain mad. It’s been a long day…

  23. …So what we’re saying is that the team would in fact be better off with Wood in the rotation and Harang traded for some useful role-player. Because we shouldn’t expect him to continue to be this good.

    There’s going to be a team out there that has a good LOOGY or bench piece that could use an arm to get itself through the season. ryan c is right. What good is depth when the team you’re fielding has real deficiencies? Against RHP, we’re kind of a disaster.

  24. Braves select OF Braxton Davidson

    Harold Reynolds said he’s 1 on the top 2 bats in the draft, so there’s that.

  25. I hope he’s better than the last high-schooler they picked from western North Carolina, Bo Gentry.

  26. @39 – WNC baseball is not generally that strong, but T.C. Roberson has a good program. Cameron Maybin, Darren Holmes, and Chris Narveson came out of there. Fingers crossed.

  27. 36 — That’s interesting he was still around with the 32nd pick. He must be an all-bat player.

  28. Mlbtr…..Braves top pick Braxton Davidson says he will sign rather than attending UNC, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Davidson’s slot — No. 32 overall — carries a $1.7054MM value, per Baseball America. I spoke with Davidson as part of MLBTR’s Draft Prospect Q&A series.

  29. I love the braves two draft picks. The organization needs a front line hitting prospect, and Davidson has the ceiling to be that kind of guy.

    I also love the second pick, anytime you can get a projectable Texas H.S. pitcher who will sign for slot money you take him.

    Both are under not even 18 and obviously we are 3-5 years away at least from knowing what we really have with these two, but the farm system needs a jolt of high ceiling talent and it appears it got it today.

  30. That Teix bit is funny. “I don’t really like green tea. Cause…I’m a man.”

  31. Davidson plays LF already. He plays both. Obviously if he advances quickly he’ll move to LF rather than move Freeman.

  32. @53

    Yeah. I read somewhere that he decided to play left field in the summer league so he would be more versatile and improve his draft stock. He also committed to cut his strikeouts down. He went form like 25 to 10.

    That is pretty impressive, IMO, from a 17-18 year old kid.

  33. @54. That sort of thinking usually emanates from an involved parent (or coach).

  34. Definitely still a douche. Though Huddy’s credibility in that area has taken a hit over the past calendar year.

  35. Braves are taking a lot of pitchers. I thought we might look for some more bats.

  36. 3rd (102) Max Povse (RHP) NC Greensboro (6’7″) BA Rank 142
    4th (133) Chad (No relation to Frank)Sobotka (RHP) USC-Upstate (6’7″) BA 115
    5th (163) Chris Diaz (LHP) Miami BA 126
    6th (193) Keith Curcio (CF) Fla Sou Col BA not in top 500

  37. The Braves don’t believe in hitters. They are just an unwelcome distraction from pitching.

  38. BJ out of the lineup tonight. Simmons batting 2nd, Schafer 8th. La Stella should really be moved up to 6th.

  39. If recent trends hold, we will sweep the D-Backs and then be swept by the Rockies, who could be potentially on a 10-game losing streak when we get to Colorado…

    No way the Braves could be swept by two teams coming off of ten-game losing streaks in the same season, is there?

  40. Always a good sign, that. Leadoff homers by the opposition never fail to put me in a good mood for late night sarcasm.

  41. What the heck, Gattis?

    FSS showing that graphic about how the Braves’ starters are the best in the league and the D-Backs’ starters are worst is almost guaranteeing us to get shut out by them. New slogan perhaps could be: Braves offense, making bad pitching staffs look great since 2014.

  42. Oh man, everything about that Gattis sequence was hilarious. The decision, the moment when the realization set in that he was truly screwed, and the “trick slide” that seemed like it started 20 feet from the base. Hell, even the double he hit was funny, mostly because the LF took the worst route on that I have ever seen. The look of disgust on Parra’s face afterwards was priceless.

    McCarthy has been AWFUL this year and he’s going to shut us out. Just saw a graphic that the 2nd time through the order, opposing batters are hitting .385 off him. Until he faces the Braves, that is.

  43. My first thought was: I wouldn’t even have swung at that pitch. My second thought was: And here I sit.

  44. Success is making the most of this rare start. Good to see JHey getting beyond his slow start. He usually starts slow, doesn’t he?

  45. @72- Happy to be wrong, just wish I had predicted that McCarthy would get a hit there. If I am cursed to always be wrong it would be nice to use that dubious power for good…

  46. Success is now 0-2 this inning, after he started the game with some promise. That looked bad.

  47. Delgado is in Arizona’s pen and they have the worst starting staff in baseball? Frank Wren is a fricking genius.

  48. I’d rather see Pena as a defensive substitute for CJ. And Wood is so not an eighth-inning guy.

  49. I’m confused by bringing Kimbrel in here. I’m all for bringing him in before the 9th, but if you were going to bring him in early why not have him in for Goldschmidt? He’s definitely more dangerous than Prado. And since Simmons got him, albeit on a 390 foot fly ball to deep center, why not let him go after Prado too? I am confused.

  50. @90- It worked out, so I am glad for that. Would really like to understand Fredi’s logic there however.

    Edit- I should say it worked out so far.

  51. Wow, that was an awful slide by Schaefer. If the throw had been halfway decent he was gunned, as his arm got trapped underneath his body as he went in headfirst.

  52. I don’t get the bullpen usage in the 8th either. I know it’s been awhile since Kimbrel pitched, but Simmons threw one pitch. Weird.

    A few months ago, our old friend Peter Moylan tweeted that if a reliever comes into the game in the middle of an inning and does his job to get out of it, he shouldn’t be asked to pitch the next inning because his adrenaline is gone. Hope that’s not the case for Kimbrel here.

  53. Has there ever been a ground out to the right side of the infield with less than two outs, that moved a runner from second to third, on any team (Braves or Braves’ opponents), that hasn’t had Caray say it was a “productive out” this year?

    Not even hyperbole: It’s been 100% of the time in games I’ve seen on television with the typical duo.

  54. In the parlance of “Seinfeld,” the Parra rob and the bloop leaves us “Even Steven.”

  55. @99 Haven’t watched too many games on TV this year, but in 2012-13, I swear he called every single successful bunt a “beauty.”

    “Gets the bunt down…and it’s a beauty!” (shudders)

  56. misc…

    Schafer has secured his place on the team tonight..with the rare prospect of 4 at bats he had to and he played like he knew it…good for him, lay off…

    When Jason re-reaches this level he is a sublime athlete, pure manifestation of power and speed, so exciting to watch…let’s remember what characterizes his hitting when at this level- solid contact line drives crushed to left field…thanks big guy..

    Fredi got away with it again – TLS sitting while Pena gets a crucial AB in the 9th…stop it!

    So Shae didn’t exactly fool Goldschmidt? (i missed it) first pitch?

    It’s clear the opposition have been briefed when on base to be ready to run on any Gattis fumble but the one tonight was rightly called a WP…

    where should TLS hit in the order?

    I can understand why Gibson was happy to see Justin go. There’s something detached there, too cool, an arrogance. You end up wondering just how much he really cares.

    Tuffy Gosewitch, classic name. Parra is a great fielder, we didn’t get to see his arm.

    Anyway, it was a really fun game of baseball. And we won. More please.

  57. @107. What you said about Justin is what most people said about Andruw too, but I honestly believe every person has different personality and not everybody like to show emotions. None of Glavine, Maddux, McGriff, Grissom, etc showed much emotion when they played. I have no issue with Justin.

  58. Not to pick on 107, but I wasn’t so sold on Schafer tonight. Obviously it is hard to argue with 3 hits and I’ll probably sound dumb. But, he took some terrible routes in CF, one of which cost Teheran a hit and a couple of others that made easy plays a little interesting. He stole a base, but would have been thrown out easily on a good throw- didn’t appear to get a good jump- plus when he slid headfirst he landed on his arm and couldn’t even stretch for the bag. And, unless I counted wrong, in his 5 AB’s he only saw 8 pitches which isn’t ideal.

    Could be that I just don’t much care for the guy though.

  59. @107 If Gibson was indeed happy for that reason, than he’s an even bigger fool than I thought. I’ll happy take Justin’s 2014 151 OPS+ and 157 wRC+ over some lesser producer who looks like they care/try more.

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