La Stella is Hitting Lead Off Game Thread

Last night never happened. Check that—the last six weeks never happened. Except for the addition of La Stella and the other Simmons. They happened.

The B-est of B lineups is in play today, which signals that Dan Uggla’s official title has become “the cheerleader who is taking up a roster spot.” Fredi says La Stella may be at lead off for more than just today, but I’m hoping Pena in the 2-hole may signal that we’ll have a SS hitting there beyond today, too.

Good thing AFG played last night, so we at least have Gattis today. Noon game, trying to avoid a sweep against the Phillies at home. I can think of several different scenarios I would have rather typed there, but the Braves are not really helping me out with that.

Let’s try a reverse jinx, shall we? Phil Collins has failed us.

145 thoughts on “La Stella is Hitting Lead Off Game Thread”

  1. I, too, am hoping this means that we will have a shortstop in the 2-hole after today. I know it goes against what the Braves do, but if La Stella gets on with no outs, I would have 2-hole bunting to get him into scoring position almost every time.

    On the other note, we really should release Uggla at this point. We need another option off the bench. Plus, he has been a soldier through this from what I have heard and read. Give him a chance to get on with another team on a minor league deal. I think he at least deserves that chance.

  2. @salty
    I think your lineup with Simmons at 2nd is wishful thinking. He will not be there. He’s in the midst of a 2 month .591 OPS slump and is leading the team in GIDP. That doesn’t sound like a number 2 hitter.

  3. I think our best order would be

    LaStella
    Simmons
    Freeman
    Jupton
    Heyward
    Gattis
    CJ
    BJ

    You could flip Jupton and Gattis or CJ and BJ. I’d like to see Simmons getting better pitches in front of Freeman for a while. Hopefully, LaStella doesn’t change his approach.

  4. @2

    He handles the bat well in that he does not strike out much, and he is a good at bunting which I would have him doing regularly with a man on first and no outs. Also, he is a career .313 batter from the 2-hole. Simmons simply hits better with protection behind him. I know you will probably follow up with put Heyward in the 2-hole. He grounds out just as much as Simmons and Johnson but does not usually have people on in front of him which keeps him from the dreaded DP. J. Upton strikes out way to much to bat second and is much more valuable at 4 or 5. Our roster dictates that Simmons is our best option at number 2 in the lineup.

  5. @3

    I could not agree with what you said anymore. I think that is what is best for what we have available to us at the moment.

  6. Our roster indicates no such thing. Your opinion does, as mine does, with Heyward in the 2-hole. He gets on base more, hits the ball harder and stays out of the DP due to his handedness and speed. Seriously, to what purpose would
    you put someone that’s struggling more than BJ Upton in the 2-hole? If it’s because he bunts well, the Braves aren’t going to regularly have the 2nd batter of the game bunting.

    And I’m glad csg agrees but there’s not one single expert out there that would put Andrelton Simmons, as is, in the 2-hole.

  7. @5

    Look at it this way. La Stella gets on, and Simmons bunts him over. that puts a man in scoring position for Freeman and either Gattis or Upton at clean up. It certainly beats La Stella on first followed by a strike out which is what we have been getting from 2-hole lately.

  8. @7

    Heyward has a major flaw that every analyst calls him on. He rolls his wrist over regularly and grounds out to second base which is ideal for the DP. We watch him do this often. He usually has no one on in front of him though. His speed is not elite. It is slightly above average, and he is a smart runner.

  9. And how many double plays has Heyward hit into? Simmons? I double dog dare ya to look it up! 👊😀👍

  10. Simmons and his sub .300 OBP do not belong in the 2 hole under any circumstances.

    The number 1 reason the offense sucks? It’s because the team as a whole can’t get on base.

  11. @12 Heyward has one GIDP all year. I give you that. But, I will truly hold my judgement to when he has players on in front of him consistently.

    @13 I love talking sports. I, especially, love talking about the Braves. I have watched or listened to at least 90% of all their games since I graduated high school 10 years ago and would have in high school if I had not had so much going on. I am loving this blog.

  12. OK, Aaron, the reset button has been mashed. Here’s your second chance.

  13. The announcers are starting the move Gattis to LF discussion. I love it when they start talking it. I do miss the old Ryan Klesko days of him occupying LF. It was always entertaining. I could stomach it again if Gattis could keep this type of production up. Then, we finally get to see if Bethancourt can handle the big leagues.

  14. @23

    They are just suggestions. Also, please look at Simmons career numbers from each spot he has batted in the lineup and see where we are coming from. He is a career .313 hitter there with an OBP of .346. That is not horrible at all. Yes, we have to take into account that he grounds out, but I still think we benefit from Heyward lower in the line up. Again, just opinions. I accept that Heyward would be our least likely to end up with a DP in the 2-hole. But, another thing about batting Simmons second is it allow the bottom of our line up to be stronger which keeps the pitchers from thinking free inning everytime they get to our 7,8,9 hitters.

  15. Heyward: 33 GIDP in 2482 plate appearances with a .350 career OBP. Has spent roughly 16% of his career batting leadoff.

    Simmons with 32 GIDP in 1097 plate appearances with a .300 career OBP. Has spent roughly 28% of his career batting leadoff.

  16. The problem with Gattis is he kills way too many rallies. Just like Simmons with his DPs, a Gattis at bat regularly results in empty basepaths. You want that in your lineup every day??

  17. @29 – Bat him 8th at least. You really want to have Simmons, Schafer and CJ 123 so they can bunt each other around and/or hit weak ground balls on hit-and-runs that only turn into one out, not two. Rallies are what we need, not HRs or any other actual runs.

  18. @27 – First, batting average in a particular place in the lineup is not a reliable predictor of future performance. You keep saying it is. But it’s not. Sure, there’s a difference in approach between hitting 2 and hitting 8, but a good hitter will be better than a bad hitter, where ever they hit. And for what it’s worth, most studies of batting order indicate that a.) Batting order does not have a significant effect on run expectancy, and b.) what effect it does have would indicate, the 2 spot is the most important spot. You want a good hitter there, Andrelton Simmons is a terrible hitter.

    Second, bunching your outs at the bottom of the order, though bad TV, is a good thing. You want to bunch your outs, because that gives you a chance at bunching your hits. You don’t want to slot bad hitters around the order so they don’t ‘waste a whole inning.’ What ends up happening is they waste every inning, because regardless of what you’ve got going on offense, there’s always a bad hitter waiting around the corner to go get an out from.

    And to your #24 – Christian Bethancourt has a .659 OPS in AAA, and BJ Upton has a .627 OPS in the big leagues. Benching BJ, moving Heyward to CF, and sticking Evan Gattis in LF would make the team alot worse on defense, and a little worse on offense. It’s stupid.

  19. One reason Heyward hasn’t hit into many DPs is that he has been hitting leadoff,right?

  20. Harang is tossing trash. At least we managed to wring the last effective pitching out of him.

  21. Man, it almost seems like Harang’s hot start was an illusion and he’s actually the same washed up pitcher he was last year, or something.

  22. Woah, I just started watching. What the heck… I feel like turning the tv off again.

  23. @31

    I think Gattis to LF is a horrible idea. I just think it is funny when they talk about it. Gattis is valuable because he is a catcher with a bat. He would hurt us in LF. I agree with you totally in that aspect. Also, I agree that Bethancourt is not Major League ready.

    As far as batting order goes, tell me why Heyward hits completely different in each spot that he has hit in the lineup. I think with certain players that lineup does matter. In the end, it can only be measured by stats, and Simmons career stats say he is more comfortable from the 2-hole. Heyward is a better 6-hole hitter. Heyward’s career numbers do nothing to say he is a good number two hitter outside his rookie season in which he hit .280. Since then, he has been around .230 from the 2-hole.

  24. So, here’s the thing.

    Aaron Harang, 2008-2013: 952 IP, 4.41 ERA
    Aaron Harang, April 2-April 23 2014: 31 2/3 IP, 0.85 ERA
    Aaron Harang, April 30 to June 13, 2014: 52 2/3 IP, 4.61 ERA

    It was basically a three-week outlier in the midst of about six and a half years of sucking.

  25. Since it’s not the 13th inning, maybe Hale can give us at least two innings.

  26. Remember when Harang had a sub-1 ERA and was the best pitcher in the league? Yeah, 3.86 and rising…

  27. Pixie dust has officially worn off. DFA time.

    Rotation is Teheran/Minor/Santana/Floyd/Hale?

  28. @ Ryan C

    Freddie Freeman just joined the 10 or high GIDP club. Just thought you would want to know.

  29. Freddie Freeman is built to ground into double plays. He’s a big slow left-handed slugger who bats in the middle of the lineup. It’s okay for him to hit into the occasional double play, because he also hits a bunch of doubles and gets on base a ton. It’s not okay for Simmons to hit into billions of double plays, because he never gets on base and because he has very little overall offensive value other than the occasional home run.

  30. Bob Costas does not do our lone world championship justice.

    Now, on the other hand….

    “GRISSOM ON THE RUUUUUN! YES! YES! YES! THE ATLANTA BRAVES HAVE GIVEN YOU A CHAMPIONSHIP!”

    We will hear that again one day. We will. We will.

  31. Rickey Henderson batted better in the 5th and 6th position for his career. There’s no doubt that Rickey Henderson, the greatest basestealer of all time, should have spent his career at the 5th or 6th spot where he would have found more success.

  32. From Joe’s mouth to the blog. Heyward is a career .313 hitter from the 6 hole with plenty of power production, and now they are discussing finding the right spot for a guy in the batting order. I have somewhat been validated in that spot in the order matters.

  33. We’re only 8-8 during Oso’s 16-game hitting streak, headed for 8-9 as it becomes 17.

    “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

  34. Oh gosh, another DP. It doesn’t matter where we put anybody. Most of our team is built of slower individuals that ground out. I will now bow down to Ryan C. in that the DP is killer.

  35. You lose credibility anytime you use Joe as your source.

    Ryan, I only listed Simmons (who I called a bad hitter last night) in the 2 hole for two reasons. One, Fredi isn’t moving Freeman from the 3 hole and there is no way he starts a lineup with 3 lefties. Two, it keeps us from having four auto-outs in the bottom of the order with Simmons, CJ, BJ, and the pitcher.

  36. To be honest, I just toss stuff out because I have to hope there is a fix. We have C.J. and Simmons who are the DP kings, CF that is nonexistent, and the pitcher spot that cannot even bunt for us on a consistent basis. That is 4 nonproductive players in a 9 man lineup. No one has stated anything that remotely corrects that including myself. It is a little disheartening.

  37. Jason Heyward hits “completely different in each spot” because you’re taking a useful sample size of 2477 plate appearances that tells you pretty clearly that he’s a .258/.349/.435 (.784) hitter, and splitting it in to arbitrary samples of 445, 922, 474, 87, 242, 239, 44 and 24.

    Here’s an example for you. Here’s every place in the batting order Heyward has hit, with the number of PA’s he’s had there, and the OPS he’s put up.

    1 445 0.784
    2 922 0.771
    3 474 0.731

    5 087 0.620
    6 242 1.043
    7 239 0.722
    8 044 0.972
    9 024 0.211

    You’ll notice that the only positions he’s accumulated close to 500 PA’s, are the positions where he’s posted the numbers closest to his career .784 OPS. The places where he’s batted fewer than 300 places are the places you see the widest variance.

    That’s an example for you of how sample size stabilizes. Heyward is a .784 hitter. If you leave him in any batting spot long enough, he will hit for about a .784 OPS.

  38. @61, Ha! I actually have to go pick my mom’s poodle up from the dog salon for her in about ten minutes. Anything is better than this.

  39. @62

    I cannot argue with you because the numbers agree if you look at sample size. I do like those 6-hole numbers though, LOL. By the way, good job stat schooling me. I swear I love this blog.

  40. The Braves are great if you are looking for solo home runs but to get a single with the bases loaded my grade for them is 0. I do not see this changing as all the Braves do is come up and see if they can hit the ball to the Capitol Building. When they move from downtown there will be no Capitol Building near. Isnt it time to now just learn to hit singles.

  41. @66 – This really is a great place to hang out. There are Braves blogs where statistical thinking isn’t tolerated, and there are Braves blogs where conventional baseball wisdom is sneered at. Around here you’ll find alot of people who will accept both as possibly valid.

    And for the record, I’m not one of the smart numbers guys around here. If I know anything at all, it’s from reading and engaging with the people here, the people who actually do have a genuine blend of baseball and numbers acumen.

  42. I’m sure there are rational explanations for Harang going to the plate there. I don’t want to hear them. I cannot believe Harang hit for himself. I appreciate his effort and all that but I cannot believe Fredi let him hit there. I hope Fredi now plans to leave him in the game for 300 pitches or until his arm literally explodes.

  43. Fredi left in harang to bunt, down by three, none out. Harang has thrown 95 pitches and allowed 14 baserunners. That is so mind numbingly moronic

  44. @69

    I love civilized sports debating. I thought your post was spot on with the numbers and presented in a good manner.

    On another note, I did not realize that La Stella was 0 for his last 11. The pitchers do seem to be pounding him with outside pitches. Time for the young man to adjust.

  45. I would be interested to know how La Stella’s strike outs correlate with balls that are called strikes out of the zone and then he has to expand his strike zone.

  46. Yeah, anecdotal of course, but the umpire took the bat out his hand there with the strike 2 call, and I remember one at-bat last night where the same thing happened.

  47. @73

    Good point. It does seem that a number of the swinging strikeouts have followed a called strike on the outer portion of the plate.

  48. Even with the 0 for 11 stretch, I have still loved how he approaches his at bats. I do think lead off is a tough job for a rookie to handle outside of a Mike Trout talent, but he might can work it if he doesn’t let little stretches like this change him.

  49. @52 Lets go find Marquis Grissom. I am pretty sure that the today version of Grissom is a better ball player than what we are currently running out to CF on a daily basis.

  50. I wonder how much the Braves could extort from Ryan Howard by threatening to DFA Harang if he didn’t pay up?

  51. Someone needs to change the Braves wikipedia page’s section on ownership from “Liberty Media” to “Ryan Howard”.

  52. Would seem like an obvious time for Jupton here.

    Edit: The lack of obvious moves by Fredi lately is mentally exhausting for this armchair manager.

  53. Pitcher having control issues and Pena hacks at the first offering.

  54. David Hale in the 7th. This is new. Lead off got a hit, but the inning is at least different than usual.

  55. Bunting down by 4 runs and pinch hitting uggla there is priceless. #fattiot #frediot

  56. I think we’re one of the worst teams in baseball. Our record just hasn’t caught up to this fact yet. April was a cold month and our pitching didn’t give up many runs. Not because our pitching is all that good, but because it was tough on all hitters across the board. Now that it’s warming up I think our pitching will revert to the other side of the mean.

  57. Been some painful games lately but this one is coming close to taking the cake. 3 double plays, 2 bases loaded walks, horrible managing decisions (and I never criticize Fredi), inability to get runners home from 3rd with less than two outs.

  58. 84 – Dave obrien told me we’re not allowed to criticize fredi for blatantly horrid moves

  59. 89- why don’t you criticize fredi. I have been wondering about the mindset of his apologists

  60. @88

    Barring a comeback, this team will be 19-28 since the 17-7 start. Playing .404 ball.

  61. David Hale certainly earned his keep there, striking out superstar Ryan Howard to end the threat.

  62. didnt JUpton have some success in the 2 hole last year? and i hope Fredi actually gives Stella a shot hitting leadoff and doesnt abandon it after today.

  63. According to baseball reference’s pythagorean W/L record, the Braves under Fredi have won about 6 more games in his career than what they should have. He’s basically your average run of the mill manager.

  64. It’s absolutely unacceptable to continually bat your worst hitters 2nd. I think that’s fair game for criticism. But overall this team doesn’t have the pieces.

  65. @96

    I agree with not having the pieces. It is the basis of all our debates. We all have our opinions, but at the end of the day, we all know we are lacking in key areas that we do not have the resources to fill properly.

  66. I’d like to see Doumit or Schafer get a few more hacks the next few days to see if there’s anything there. Hell, it can’t hurt too much…

  67. No one here is an apologist for Fredi. The issue is whether Fredi is THE problem with the team. I, and others, happen to think that the manager-at least his in-game strategy- has a relatively minor role in the team’s success. Some awful managers have won World Series, eg. Charlie Manuel, and I’m sure others. I would be the first to say Fredi makes horrible decisions; but if he had better players, it wouldn’t matter.

    The fact is, Gonzalez could be a combination of McGraw/McCarthy/Anderson/Maddon and the team would still struggle because the players aren’t very good. If they were to fire Fredi, I would have no objection but I doubt it would make much difference.

  68. 101-
    “No one here is an apologist for Fredi.”

    untrue

    “The issue is whether Fredi is THE problem with the team.”

    That may be the issue as you see it, but it is not the issue as others see it. Refer to ryan c in post 95 who defends Fredi as being average.

    Of course all of the team’s problems aren’t due to Fredi. That would be a silly argument that nobody is making. What a ridiculous strawman.

  69. Fredi is part of the problem, but he is not all of the problem. Iti s also fair to question a baseball manager, even Bobby Cox, from time to time.

  70. This is in some ways an act of kindness. I had managed to convince myself that this team had a shot, even given their mediocre to terrible play over the past two months or so. Getting swept by the Phillies in such embarrassing fashion puts paid to that. They may have hot streaks, but this team is not good enough to make the playoffs, which means I can mostly stop paying attention to them. Better luck in ’15.

  71. 95 – that is true, but using actual record vs Ex W-L as a measure of manager efficacy is highly tendentious. The idea, which is entirely reasonable, is that bad managers should lose more of the close games, and that should cause a difference to become apparent. There are a few problems with this assumption. One is that the normal variation in actual W/L vs Exp is so great to obscure moderate differences. Another is that some managerial decisions affect all games equally. Examples include batting BJ second or leaving in a pitcher to bunt for himself when he’s going to be lifted the next half inning. Also some decisions turn what would be close games into not-so-close games (like using one’s worst reliever in a high leverage sixth). I’m sure there are other factors, but it’s clear that Fredi’s calls cost us runs on both sides of the ledger. Put differently, his calls affect our Exp W-L AND our actual W-L. To look at the disparity to judge him isn’t a sufficient analysis

  72. @102- He defends him as average, because the best available measures show that he is… der-duh-der! Average!

    You think he’s the worst on the planet because you watch more Braves games than all other games combined. That’s the definition of anecdotal.

    The fact that someone reveals that they don’t often criticize managers, IN THE ACT OF CRITICIZING THE MANAGER, and you respond by calling them an apologist reveals that you a) have a singular agenda, or b) just ain’t much for critical thinking.

    And if you’re going to call me a Fredi apologist, you must be REALLY new here. I stopped bitching about Fredi because I haven’t got the energy anymore. But the fact that hes a slobbering idiot doesn’t mean its wrong to point out that 90% of fans league-wide think their manager is a slobbering idiot.

    And as a side note, if you don’t want to be called a troll, you’ll need to express yourself better or slither back in to the AJC cesspool you came from.

  73. Fredi is Bobby made over, without the charm. He’s a players’ manager that doesn’t seem to have the knack of putting out fires quite like Bobby. I’m not a Fredi backer, merely the guy that presented his pythagorean record. Fredi’s pythagorean record has more to do with shutdown relief than effective managing. There are better managers out there. There are worse, as well.

    And JohnW, you’re getting real close to “Coach” status. Go drink a beer…or 6.

  74. 106 – I addressed why “the best available measures” are inadequate in 105. Also, Ryanc in 107 admits that the measure actually has nothing to do with Fredi’s skill and more with the relief we were blessed with.

    I understand you are full of hatred and rage toward someone you’ve never met, but however loathsome you find me, I do think critically and have spent a lot of time drawing my conclusions. I might grate against you, but your vitriolic hate screed is way over the top.

  75. This feels very familiar…the vocabulary, the dialect, the ability to turn anything into an argument. Hmmmm….

  76. Lineup that best takes away our DP happy team:

    1. Johnson
    2. La Stella
    3. J. Upton
    4. Freeman
    5. Gattis
    6. Heyward
    7. B.J. Upton
    8. Simmons
    9. Pitcher

    Reason: Johnson is less likely to GIDP with the pitcher or our pinch hitters hitting in front of him the rest of the game after first inning. If we get lucky, he gets a hit. If not, it is just like La Stella batting leadoff because our number 2 has been an automatic out pretty much all season which means we lose nothing by dropping him to number 2. Simmons is less likely to hit into a DP with B.J. in front of him because only a 1 in 4 chance of him being on base, and when he is, he can steal second. Also, Manager Fredi gets his way with always wanting to split the batters so no consecutive lefties are in the lineup.

    Now, before I get crushed, I did this in good fun. Mostly because the last few posts I read were getting kind of mean.

  77. The biggest issue is the OBP on this team, but ever sense Fredi jerked half the lineup out against Jose Fernandez this team is 9 under .500 .

    He has lost the clubhouse and needs be fired.

  78. I’d rather not to build suspense.

    Just curious…to whom do you consider Fredi apologists on this board, and why?

  79. One would hope that Beato goes back down tomorrow to get a fresh arm up. Personally, I’d like to see Ian Thomas get another shot.

  80. I don’t think there’s any Fredi apologists here. The only “support” you’ll ever see is “yeah he sucks, but managers don’t really impact the record that much over 162”.

    We’ve made the postseason 2 of 3 years…so there’s also that. I think Fredi is infuriating, but I will admit there’s a chance that these teams have actually over-achieved rather than under. I don’t see a very talented roster out there this year. Being over .500 with this offense and all the bullpen arms we’ve lost is a minor miracle to me.

  81. 113 –
    Look, I totally understand the blowback I’ve received. I’m new here and I’m calling people out in a collegiate environment. I also have a biting, critical tone that rubs people the wrong way here. I’ve been stewing over Fredi and Wren for years. When I criticize them in forums, I instantly get piled on and have even been called racist (I’m an equal opportunity critic, I swear). So I’m a bit touchy about people rushing to Fredi’s defense. My bad. I think 106 is still totally out of line.

    I haven’t seen anyone here say that Fredi is a good manager, but I have seen some say that he’s not that bad. I would interpret your comment above in that light. You’ve since kind of retracted it, so I don’t know what to think. People have defended Greg Walker pretty relentlessly since I started posting. Clearly, I am the common variable here, so I’ve concluded that when you are too harsh in your criticism, people tend to reflexively defend guys because they think that even if they’re bad, they’re not as horrible as you’re saying. And maybe that they’re at least decent people, and if you are willing to be so critical, you must be a big jerk, so they side with the guy you’re criticizing. Makes sense to me

    It’s hard to love a team and watch them being run into the ground. Wren’s acquisitions, Fredi’s decision-making, and the organizational hitting philosophy drives me out of my mind. And then when people defend them, it’s just too much. Especially DOB – he’s psychotic

  82. I wouldn’t mind seeing Thomas again either. Beato threw almost 50 pitches yesterday and threw again today.

  83. @ 107 – Haha! I had forgotten about Coach; that man could pound a keystone and rock out to Metallica.

  84. Here’s a question: when was the last time the Braves sold high on a player like Harang who’s playing over his head?

  85. @119 – I can’t recall it myself unless you count Andy Marte for Edgar Renteria. I guess Javy Vasquez-to-NY might count. It’s frustrating but in the case of Harang you have to figure that even a really dumb team like KC or the Phillies could see through the smoke and mirrors when he was pitching over his head. Chris Johnson is the most galling example of this to my mind. They essentially sold high on him but they were also the buyers and the cost was a three year contract.

  86. @120

    Johnson has the smartest agent ever. Both him and Johnson new to get a contract in before he dropped to his career averages. Perfect example of getting paid off a career year. At what he was making last season, he would still be considered a steal right now. Just not with what he is making now. Granted a lot more money is put into what was once considered just average numbers. Look at Drew and Morales holding out cause they thought they deserved more. Their career stats do not call for big money, but this is baseball business at its best at the present.

  87. Holy moly, the conversational tone on here sure has gotten testy over the last couple weeks… then again, frustration over the Braves losing consistently (often in ugly fashion) is pretty hard to deal with. As always, everyone will be much more sunny and positive when (if?) the Braves go on a hot streak next.

    To me, this Braves squad looks like a mid-80s win team. They overachieved a bit in 2013 and this year’s team is mostly the same as last year’s squad, except it’s missing a lot of pitching talent. The Braves could start clicking again (if Freddie/JHey/JUP could all hit at the same time? please?) and push for a wild card spot but I’m not optimistic about this team’s chances of making much noise. I’ve lowered my expectations now. Maybe the Braves will surprise me, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

  88. @116,

    FWIW, I don’t consider you a troll. Your arguments aren’t all out of line but, as you note, your tone rubs people the wrong way. But you aren’t the first.

    I care little about who is managing the team. I’ve seen enough baseball that I think most managers are clueless. I think the mistakes of one manager tend to balance out the mistakes of others; the teams with the better players will usually overcome the mistakes of its manager. Has Fredi’s decisions cost the team some games? I’m sure they have but I guarantee that if you looked at Don Mattingly last year during the Dodgers’ 42-8 run, there were games where he made idiotic decisions but the players bailed him out. That’s no reason to keep a manager-ie, he’s an idiot but so is everyone else-but I really think the managerial mistakes are small potatoes compared to the obvious deficiencies on the team. Yes, perhaps there are a few games that the Braves would have won if Fredi had made better decisions but there is no guarantee they would have won even if he had made the right decision.

    Frankly, I blame the guy the put the team together. In general, I think Wren has made some brilliant moves but this team has had the same deficiencies from the beginning of 2013. The Uggla and BJ contracts are killers. The bench is laughable. The failure of the bullpen this year, IMO, shows how thin the line was last year. Without a dominant bullpen, this team has no shot. The starting pitching is coming back to earth, but you can’t really blame Wren or anyone else for that given that they lost two starters. He did the best he could and, for a while, it was working out, but it was never realistic to rely on Santana and Harang-at least without a sustainable offense.

    And, let’s face it, many people have said this here but the Braves are generally put together to be an 85 win team with hopes that things will go right and they will win 95. That happened last year. This year, things have gone wrong from the start. I will concede that, given all the problems, the team probably needs better decision-making by the manager. But it also needs better players.

  89. Guys, be nice to each other.

    This team is horrendous right now. It is my personal stated view that Fredi Gonzalez is not the biggest problem with the team. In the past I’ve said that I thought he was probably in the top 10 in baseball, mostly because if you look at the other teams in baseball, most of them employ meathead ex-jocks who aren’t particularly good at in-game decisions, and there aren’t a whole lot of them that you’d rather have than Fredi. Would you really rather have Kirk Gibson? Matt Williams? Mike Redmond? Ryne Sandberg?

    Fredi has done a lot of stupid things, but I don’t think that he’s the biggest problem with this team. The first biggest problem with this team is that we let Dan Uggla hold down a starting position for a month and a half. The second biggest problem with this team is that the other people in the “offense” haven’t been hitting, either. Plus, our bullpen is leaky. Plus, our miracleworking starting rotation from April is starting to spring a few leaks. Plus, our bench cannot hit and is not so great at fielding, either.

    You can blame Frank Wren for a lot of the roster decisions — we should not still have Dan Uggla on the 25-man, for starters, and we need a better bullpen and bench right now. I allow myself to indulge fantasies of firing our hitting coaches because our hitters have all done their collective impression of Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s. What will probably happen is that Wren will trade for a couple of spare parts and the team will improve into an 85-90 win team and limp into a Wild Card or division title and lose in the first round.

  90. @120, Re: Harang, I don’t imagine other teams would necessarily buy high, but there is some value — even for a non-contender like the Phillies — in a durable arm that can get you through the season and that can trick elements of your fanbase into thinking you’re trying to make something happen this season. I’m not suggesting we should’ve traded him to the Phillies, necessarily, but he really should be able to net us some small part we need. Or am I crazy?

    Has anyone seen any articles or analysis out there on the teams that do the best job at selling high? Is it reasonable for me to feel like we suck at it?

  91. And I don’t think it’s possible to sell high on a pitcher that nobody wanted last year, even if he’s had some good starts this year. It’s not like everyone in baseball is totally dumb. They look at the same metrics we do, and have access to proprietary data that we don’t get to see. It’s really not that much of an inefficient market, even though it does seem that way from time to time.

  92. What do most of you all consider the biggest need? Offense, Starting Pitcing, or Bullpen? I think this is a good questions. Obviously, we need all three, but we are not the Yankees so that is not going to happen.

    I would say our biggest need is one other solid bat for everyday play, but I think what we will end up with is a couple of bullpen arms. We really do not have any value for trading for a solid bat outside of giving up one of our future arms. I think this would be a bad move. So, we go for a couple 7th and 8th inning arms.

    Who knows, the lineup change might come around if Fredi sticks to it. Possibly, figure out ways to keep certain players from hitting into double plays such as more hit and runs and putting faster guys in front of them to steam.

    Really, the Simmons double plays are bad, but he consistently makes contact. Why would you not run a guy on first in front of him. He more than likely is not going to strike out. For Johnson, put B.J. in front of him. He will either not be on base or can at least steal if he is. Either, he is safe or thrown out. If Johnson grounds out, it is still the same result as the DP. If B.J. happens to be safe, Johnson either knocks him in, advances him to 3rd, or strikes out.

  93. I think we sold reasonably high on Martin Prado (if you don’t factor in the CJ extension).

  94. @130, we need starting pitching. The lineup is set in stone for the most part thanks to Wren. This rotation will be hard pressed to get us to 80 wins.

  95. Pretty soon we’ll have Wood back in the rotation and he’ll likely bump Harang. Teheran-Minor-Santana-Floyd-Wood, with Hale and Harang as your backups, is decent enough. To me, the problems are with the offense, middle relief, and the bench.

  96. @132

    I agree that our lineup is set in stone due to circumstances so might as well look at the other areas.

    @133

    The bench and middle relief our our only hopes at upgrading because we can afford to do so. The problem is what we will have to give up for the bench and middle relief. We will definitely be losing one of the starting pitchers and some of our farm system arms.

  97. @130 Salty, optimal lineup construction should be based around the principle of front-loading your lineup with your best hitters (with some consideration given to speed/OBP at the top and more pop in the middle). It is folly to attempt to construct your lineup around the idea of avoiding the double play – after all, double plays opportunities are made possible by having a lot of runners on base, so in that sense, double plays are the byproduct of good process (the previous batter got on base).

    Applying those concepts to the Braves team – someone like LaStella is good at the top of the lineup, as he can be expected to have a pretty robust OBP, but not much SLG. Heyward is a pretty ideal #2 hitter, given his OBP/speed/power combo. Andrelton Simmons doesn’t fit the bill as a top-of-the-order hitter at this point in his career. He doesn’t strike out much, but his OBP skills are subpar. Simmons a .300 OBP over 1100 ABs to date, which just isn’t very good.

    The best lineup I can conjure up has LaStella, JHey, JUp, Freeman, Gattis in the 1 through 5 spots. BJ, CJ and Simmons can be slotted in at 6-8 depending on who’s hitting well at the moment.

  98. Maybe we should be sellers. We have problems everywhere it appears. Sell off Floyd, Harang, and Chris Johnson for some bench players and bullpen arms. Put Wood and Hale back in the rotation and let Pena play 3rd. It wouldn’t make us a weaker team. We can play sub .500 ball with them too.

  99. After today, Harang’s stock is at a season-low. After the extension and a poor performance since, Chris Johnson’s stock is at a low. Unlike Ice Cube’s song, today was not a good day.

    However, I don’t think that this team’s problems are unsolvable. If Wood comes back solid, the Braves could still unload Floyd who still has trade value (good lord, please hurry and make a trade before he has a 27-run, 1 inning outing) and plug in Hale as the 5th starter. sI posted a Floyd and Schafer for Nava and Capuano deal over at TT. The Sox are desperate to try something in CF and in need of a starter. Nava has played himself out of a job, but could be a change of scenery type of pickup. Nava could be a useful piece and Capuano has been lights out in the bullpen.

    Also, if it hasn’t been mentioned, Jonny Venters has been shut down for 4-6 weeks. He might, just might, pitch next year.

    Dan Uggla still needs to be dealt with…remember why we’re all here, guys, and that is to beat up on Uggla, not each other.

  100. @125 – The fact that the Braves don’t sell high isn’t necessarily indicative of any kind of failure to see through a hot streak. The Braves always consider themselves a contender, and would probably prefer to take advantage of a player who is presently fooling the league, rather than trading him. They’d rather bleed a guy dry and then cut bait when the magic wears off. Their ceiling for “selling-high” might be “cutting-bait,” simply because of the organizational philosophy. I would venture to guess that the teams that “sell high” best, are rebuilding teams with little to lose.

    @108 – How does your reasoning in 105, with regard to the cascading effect of Fredi’s bad decisions, cause him to stand out from the other 29 managers in baseball? How are Fredi’s mistakes uniquely suited to have deleterious effect on both the winning percentage and the expected winning percentage, in a way that Ryne Sandburg’s or Don Mattingly’s are not?

    The fact of the matter is, Fredi makes a lot of dumb decisions. I don’t know whether he does it more or less frequently than other managers. I only analyze Fredi’s decisions and I only get angry at his mistakes.

    But I can reason out that he is, on a day-to-day basis, making decisions he would not make if it weren’t for specific circumstances; meaning, he didn’t manage any of the past 5 games the way he would have if it were Game 1 of a playoff series and he had a fresh bench and bullpen.

    He’s overworked the bullpen, but that’s at least in part because the offense can’t seem to give him a blow out every once in awhile, and when they look like their going to, our guy gives up 7 or 8.

    He’s running sub-par players out there day after day, but that’s at least in part because he’s been handed a sub-par bench.

    Certain mistakes are pretty cut and dry. And they make me mad. I just don’t see how they are all that different from the day-to-day mistakes most managers are making. I’ve seen Fredi managed in to a corner. I railed about it on this blog last season in a series against the Mets, in New York. Terry Collins out maneuvered him in three straight games. That doesn’t mean I want Terry Collins managing my favorite team.

    My ability to reason that out, and to express nuance in my criticism of his decisions, does not make me an ‘apologist.’ Nor does it make Marc Schneider, or Ryan C, or anyone else.

    That’s your problem here. It isn’t your tone, or your critical nature, your acerbic wit or your damnable good looks. It’s your insistence that other’s perception of nuance is a failing.

    You seem to put words into the mouths of other people, and use half of what they say, and ignore the other half, to cast them as being unreasonable. That’s high school debate-club stuff, AJC comment thread stuff. That doesn’t really carry water with people who aren’t dumb. And I don’t think there’s a lot of dumb people around here.

  101. @136

    Front loading your lineup is only good when you can truly do it. We have Heyward, Freeman, J. Upton, and Gattis. Gattis doesn’t play every 4th to 5th game. J. Upton is the streakiest player ever. Freeman is starting to come around. Heyward can be an enigma but has been consistent against righties. It is to early to say La Stella is a front of the order guy. He has less than 100 ABs in the big leagues, and I fear we may be putting too much on him to soon which could delay him a bit. Therefore, there is no front loading our order. The best we can do is spread out our inconsistencies and hope we catch lighting in a bottle in the occasional inning here and there.

  102. @141
    “You seem to put words into the mouths of other people, and use half of what they say, and ignore the other half, to cast them as being unreasonable.”

    Your hypocrisy is dizzying, given that you’ve said the following of me:

    “It’s your insistence that other’s perception of nuance is a failing.”

    That’s absurd. I’ve insisted no such thing. That’s your conclusion, and not a rational one.

    “That’s your problem here. It isn’t your tone, or your critical nature, your acerbic wit or your damnable good looks.”

    Here you’ve cast me as being arrogant when I was in fact being very humble and self-critical. And despite your insistence of my problem, other attentive readers have agreed that it is my tone.

    “You think he’s the worst on the planet because you watch more Braves games than all other games combined. That’s the definition of anecdotal.”

    Here you put words in my mouth again, and you don’t have any idea how much I watch other teams and other managers. And your analysis of Fredi is also entirely anecdotal.

    “And if you’re going to call me a Fredi apologist, you must be REALLY new here.”

    You’re indignant because you worry that I may at some future date call you a Fredi apologist. BTW, I’m not sure that you know what that word means. An apologist is one who defends. A Fredi apologist comes to Fredi’s defense when he is criticized. That’s not really a bad thing–I just don’t understand it.

    “But the fact that hes a slobbering idiot doesn’t mean its wrong to point out that 90% of fans league-wide think their manager is a slobbering idiot.”

    Did I say it was wrong to point that out? That would be a ridiculous thing to say.

    “The fact that someone reveals that they don’t often criticize managers, IN THE ACT OF CRITICIZING THE MANAGER, and you respond by calling them an apologist reveals that you a) have a singular agenda, or b) just ain’t much for critical thinking.”

    You misrepresented my reply here. I asked him why he didn’t criticize Fredi and said “I’ve often wondered about the mindset of Fredi apologists.” Now, sure the implication is that he’s a Fredi apologist, but it’s hardly the same thing as “responding by calling” him an apologist. Granted, simply not criticizing is not the same as being an apologist, but I think it’s reasonable to conclude that someone who refrains from criticizing someone so oafish as Fredi is defensive of him. Even the fawning DOB criticizes Fredi on occasion–it’s a rare occurrence, though, as one would expect from an apologist.

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