Braves 6, Phillies 4

Box Score

The second half gets underway finally, with the Braves jumping back into first with a win over the Phils coupled with a Natspos loss to the Brewers. Ervin Santana wasn’t particularly sharp, but he was sharper than A.J. Burnett, and notched his 8th win of the year.

The Phils opened up the scoring in the second, with leadoff walks to Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd. They came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Cody Asche and a single by Cameron Rupp. However, further trouble was averted when Burnett couldn’t get the bunt down and hit into a 3-6-4 double play with a nice stretch by Tommie LaStella on the back end.

The Braves responded quickly with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Jason Heyward homered, then with two outs, the Braves had four straight hits to score three more. Singles by Christian Bethancourt and Santana were followed by a double from B.J. Upton, who then scored on Andrelton Simmons single.

Our Heroes added two more in the 5th, with Heyward singling in Justin Upton and LaStella singling in Heyward. The Phillies got two more in the 6th, with Jimmy Rollins reaching on an error, Chase Utley doubling him to third, and Howard driving in both with a single, because it’s Turner Field and Ryan Howard will be driving in runs at Turner Field three years after he’s dead. But Santana buckled down and finished the inning and turned it over to the pen. Shae Simmons worked a 1-2-3 seventh. Jordan Waldren walked Rollins to start the eighth, but struck out the Dark Lord on a nasty 3-2 pitch in the dirt. Rollins tried to run on Bethancourt but the ball hit the umpire’s shin guard, and Bethancourt pounced on it and gunned down Rollins in a play that had no right to look as easy as it was. Craig Kimbrel did his Kraken thing in the ninth for his 30th save.

It’s time to drive a stake into the Phillies, which is easier said than done with Cole Hamels going tonight against Big Handsome Aaron Harang.

84 thoughts on “Braves 6, Phillies 4”

  1. JC’d… Heyward’s OPS (“The most trusted stat in sports!”) by month:

    April .601
    May .777
    June .774
    July .765

  2. I’ve quoted Gammons a few times in posts over at TT and have regretted it. His statements haven’t had much validity (at least according to national media) for quite a while and I don’t know why.

  3. In:re Gammons, wasn’t there a minor controversy within the last couple of seasons where he quoted Tim Hudson as expecting to be traded, and Huddy denied it?

  4. Capital I Capital F the Braves can give away BJ, does Justin have to go too out of fraternal loyalty?

  5. BJ has value to an AL team, no doubt. Sell him off for nothing. Someone should take his salary.

  6. Plus, I’d rather have Gattis 150 games in LF than 120 at catcher. Gattis could be getting killed behind the plate and we could be ruining his career while Bossman Junior sucks it up in center. Heyward instantly becomes more valuable in center, and JUpton joins the elite fraternity of Braun/Bautista/Stanton/Cruz- power hitting right fielders who can’t play defense.

    I wonder if this is a Dead Cat Bounce mindset from the Braves. BJ bottomed out, has seen a little bit of improvement, and his value will never be higher than it is now.

  7. ✔ @mlbbowman
    Luis Avilan will be optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett today.LHP Chasen Shreave has been promoted from Mississippi to Atlanta.

    1:32 PM – 19 Jul 2014

  8. This quote from Dave Cameron (scroll down into the comments section) caught my attention: “A lot of people in baseball don’t see [Gattis] as a real catcher. The bat isn’t that special for the outfield.”

    We know that Gattis doesn’t want to be in the outfield anyway, and we’ve seen his defense there. If Teheran’s tantrum from earlier this year gives any indication of Gattis’ ability to handle the staff, maybe this team has more problems than even we here had thought.

    Thus far, Gattis’ relative offensive success this year seems to be BABIP-driven, but I’m not going to pretend like I really know what I’m saying beyond just looking at the superficial numbers. I’ve been trying to calculate his xBABIP for five minutes, and it’s really not happening.

    We’d need to figure out where to find a major league catcher, unless one believes in Bethancourt, but perhaps Gattis is a sell-high candidate to an AL club this offseason.

  9. Dave Cameron thinks Gattis is the sixth best catcher in baseball?

    Fuck Dave Cameron.

  10. Teheran and Gattis had one game where they weren’t on the same page, reportedly because Teheran was shaking off pitches he wanted to throw, in order to confuse the base runner, and Gattis didn’t realize he wanted the same sign twice.

  11. I’ve been looking at BJ Upton’s splits and stumbled on his tendencies when facing a pitcher more than once. For his career and for 2014 he tends to suck in the first AB, but then does well in the second AB. His career is okay for the third AB against a starter, but if a starter is good enough to go through the order 4 times, he doesn’t hit him there.

    This is a good argument to make for keeping BJ in the leadoff spot, as it gets him an early AB to see the pitcher and then lets him settle into ABs the second and third time through where he’s generally hitting better.

    Just a hiccup in the numbers I found interesting.

  12. Gattis could be a sell-high to an AL club, but I don’t like it. He’s my favorite player on the team at this point, marginally ahead of Heyward.

  13. I like the mindset of the club right now in regards to trying to fix things internally before the trade deadline.

  14. The kid they’re calling up from AA Mississippi to replace Avilan: Chasen Shreve.

    23 year old lefty. A year and a half younger than his league. Has been back and forth between A+ and AA for two seasons, mostly because he walked way too many batters. Seems to have put something together this year at AA, reducing his BB/9 from 4+ to 1.5, while increasing his K/9 from 6 or 7 to 12.6. Massive spike in K/BB ratio as a result, obviously.

    Still gives up the occasional hit (7 per 9 innings) but they don’t leave the park that often.

    Actually has an inverse platoon split vs LHB this year.

  15. Oh great…and thus ends B.J. Upton’s short-lived streak of relative usefulness, all because Peter Gammons had to make up another transaction rumor. Thanks for nothing, Gammons!

    In all honesty, even back when he worked for ESPN and people actually were interested in what he had to say, Gammons’ trade deadline tidbits were clearly made up and entirely useless. How many times were the Yankees gonna get Sammy Sosa or the Red Sox talking about Barry Bonds or whatever other kooky bullcrap he was always trying to peddle? I would bet a lot of money that that rumor is at least 75 percent pulled out of his ass and that nobody actually said that to him.

  16. Also, two things are a very bad idea:

    1)Having Gattis play left field. I would rather stick with B.J. for the rest of his contract than watch Gattis play left field again.

    2)Getting rid of your .290-hitting, .558-slugging, .900 OPSing, 30-HR paced catcher and handing the reigns over to Christian Bethancourt next year. I mean, there’s outthinking yourself and then there’s that. You do know Gattis has been the best player on the team this year, right?

  17. @23, What I know is, his stats — the ones that help predict future performance — are practically exactly the same as last year’s — except a 60-point spike in his BABIP.

    Same walk rate. Same strikeout rate. Practically the same line drive rate, fly ball rate, ground ball rate, and on and on…

    Maybe the BABIP (and ISO) improvements are real. Maybe this is what we get moving forward if we keep him out of the outfield and well-rested.

    I don’t know that I’d bet on it. (I’m not advocating to hand the reins to Bethancourt, either.)

    Freeman and, arguably, Heyward are both better than Gattis this season. This is partly of function of them playing more.

    And you realize you’re doing exactly what you’re accusing Gammons of doing, right? You don’t actually know whether or not he’s making up rumors, but you’re putting it out there anyway.

  18. @24

    I’m not presenting myself as a journalist. He is. I’m giving an opinion that Peter Gammons’ trade rumors are worthless. He is presenting it as fact that that is happening.

  19. @25, Right. We could expect he’d know even less about what Peter Gammons knows than what Peter Gammons knows about the operations of MLB teams.

    If you’re not going to be the contrarian, Sam, somebody’s gotta do it…

  20. LOL…what the hell are you talking about?

    It is assumed that none of us actually have any idea what we’re talking about. It is not assumed that Peter Gammons has no idea what he’s talking about. If you can’t see the difference, I don’t know what to tell you.

  21. Nick, I’m not sure if Gattis is the best hitter on the team, but if he is, I’d like to have him in the lineup for 30 more games a year. There have been plenty of great hitters who have been moved out of the catching position to preserve their body, so I’m not the first to propose the scenario. Considering the “best hitter on the team” is currently on the DL, there’s probably some validity to the idea.

    Bethancourt may be just as good as BUpton defensively (in a more important defensive position as well), and may very well hit as well as BUpton too (especially relative to the position). Bethancourt costs about 1/30 of BUpton as well. If a team will take BUpton’s contract from us, you take it and run. If you get a real player in return, then great.

    To say that this is “over-thinking and then some” is a little arrogant in your analysis ability. There are enough positives in this scenario to at least give discussion to it instead of insulting the thought process.

  22. Gammons speculates on many things, the majority of which do not occur. Whether this is because they are made up, or he just has really bad luck is not a material difference to me. The overwhelming probability is that this will not occur regardless of it’s truth or fiction. The qualifications of someone pointing this out are not germane to the conclusion.

  23. I don’t think Hammons just makes stuff up, rather he likely conveys the wishful thinking and bluffs of GMs and agents.

  24. Putting Gattis’ bat in the lineup and taking BJ out of the lineup make the Braves better in 2014, but I respect your right to be wrong.

  25. You’re replacing BJ Upton’s bat with Christian Bethancourt’s bat. That’s not an upgrade, and that’s not even taking into account the weakening of the defense.

  26. We disagree. I’d prefer CB’s bat over BJ’s, and BJ’s defense is less than scintillating. That’s my opinion. You are welcome to yours.

  27. Yeah Heyward isn’t going to be a standout in CF in the same way he is in RF. Justin is a -15 run LF, I shudder to think how bad he’ll be in the more defensively challenging RF. And Evan Gattis would be a catcher playing LF.

    Christian Bethancourt may very well be a standout defensive catcher, (he hasn’t been yet) but even if I grant that, the defender you’re removing from the lineup is a positive, too. So you’d weaken three positions defensively, and upgrade one, all so you could get BJ’s 72 OPS+ and 73 wRC+ out of the lineup, in favor of Christian Bethancourt’s 63 OPS+ and 64 wRC+ (which is, you know, worse.)

    But, ya know, I respect your right to be wrong.

  28. CB had an OPS of .676 at Gwinnett, and has an OPS of .577 in Atlanta. As bad as BJ is, he has an OPS of .620 in Atlanta, so this makes replacing him negligible at best offensively.

    Most defensive metrics have BJ as an above average defender in CF, so moving Gattis to LF where he was a significantly below average defensive player is weakening the team’s defense. Replacing Gattis, an average defensive catcher, with Bethancourt behind the plate does not make up the difference.

  29. Here’s what I want. I want a LH relief pitcher to give meaningful set-up innings to, basically, Eric O’Flaherty.

    Then I want to replace Jordan Schafer, and do it with a guy who can at least fake CF, and who has diverse enough skills that he will be useful even if he doesn’t catch fire, but who has enough upside that in a best-case scenario, would take AB’s away from BJ Upton.

    So I may be crazy, because he’s pure evil, but wouldn’t a package of Shane Victorino and Andrew Miller together solve a couple of problems for us?

  30. Hell, Todd Cunningham is better than Schafer. And this LHP Severino at Gwinnett has good numbers too.

  31. Well then clearly that settles that. We’ll ride Constanza and Severino straight to the pennant.

  32. LOL, I’m just illustrating how we have better internal options than the guys who are already there.

  33. Yeah, we do, and it’s sometimes perplexing why the Braves hang on to some of the guys they hang on to.

    But my preference is to find affordable ways (in terms of talent exchanged) to improve the big club with long strides rather than baby steps.

    A guy like Victorino, who is under contract for another year at a pretty large sum of money ($13m), leaves a lot of room to negotiate the talent-cost. The more we eat, the less talent we pay. The more talented player they want, the more they have to eat.

    He’s been lousy this season, but only in a handful of games before injury. He put up good numbers last season (120 wRC+, 119 OPS+) with 20 SB and only 3 CS. Admittedly, he’s probably not an everyday CF anymore, defensively. But between him and Heyward, you can piece it together.

    Worst case scenario, he’s a guy you’re comfortable running out there, unlike Schafer, who’s been so bad Fredi basically refuses to play him.

    Best case scenario, he outplays BJ Upton to the point that you’re comfortable taking literally ANY deal that will get BJ off the team.

  34. The Phillies have been Haranged through five. Hope the long man is up and ready in the pen.

  35. Hell if he can dodge the raindrops one more inning, they’ll get 6 innings out of him. That’s not a particularly short night, especially after throwing like 39 pitches to get through the first 2.

  36. I’m sure somewhere there are boatloads of Phillies fans screaming at their televisions something to the order of “IT’S AARON FUCKING HARANG!!!”

  37. Yeah. That last AB by Bethancourt was exhibit A, B and C why he is simply not a ML caliber bat yet.

  38. Yeap. Exhibit A) He can’t hit a 92 MPH fastball. Exhibit B.) He still can’t hit a 92 MPH fastball. Exhibit C.) He can’t lay off an obvious breaking ball in the dirt.

  39. That pitch had a lot of the plate, and Asche was convinced he had ball four… And the only evidence he could have had is that the catcher had to move so far to catch it.

    You see that happen alot. Are more guys peeking than we think?

  40. There are pluses and minuses with Fredi Gonzalez, but will say that regardless of the outcome of this at bat, I like his policy of getting new players into the games as quickly as he can. (and the outcome works too.)

  41. Well done by Varvaro there. He scares the hell out of me, but he seems to be getting results.

  42. If we had any kind of bench, you’d have to hit for Bethancourt leading off the 8th, right?

    EDIT: He’s swinging at completely non-competitive sliders.

  43. Do Medlen and other people on the 60 day DL (or out for the season) hang out with the team or do they just stay home?

  44. Gattis can’t get back soon enough. All of this silliness about Bethancourt over BJ Upton has to stop now. Bethancourt can’t hit AAA pitching, much less ML pitching.

    Matt Diaz is apparently doing post-game commentary on FSS. Good on Matty Diaz. He’s probably a better PH option than Ryan Doumit (though, to be fair, Doumit took to obvious balls and was called out on them.)

  45. So, Dan Uggla finally gets the ax and instead of enjoying the moment, most of y’all start talking about what to do about B.J. No, the guy is not an ideal leadoff guy, but the combination of him and Simmons at the top of the lineup has been somewhat possitive for those two. Again, it isn’t ideal, but at least, they are somewhat producing now. Actually, Simmons is in the top 15 for BA, OBP, Runs, and RBIs for the month of July.

    So, we should all just sit back and hope for a viable bench bat and left handed reliever. We will not be getting anybody in the realm of a starter at this point. Our lineup will be better when Gattis gets back, and yes, we are much stronger with him at catcher than in left field. I know some of y’all are stuck on offense wins championships, but for the Braves, we would not get a bat that would boost us that much at this point. So, we might as well stick to the thought that pitching and defense wins championships.

    Lineup when Gattis gets back:

    B.J., Simmons, Freeman, Gattis, J. Upton, Heyward, Johnson, La Stella, Pitcher

    It is not ideal, but it is what we will be looking at as we make a run for the playoffs. Also, it is an easy shift when Gattis is not in the lineup by moving everybody up a spot and dropping Laird in the 8-hole.

  46. @80 BJ has a .672 OPS since being moved to the leadoff spot with a sub-.300 OBP. There is nothing positive about that other than it’s a slight improvement from abysmal to just terrible. Furthermore, the BJ discussion was prompted by an unusual quote from Peter Gammons.

  47. I think everybody in baseball could make the quote that the Braves would like to get rid of B.J. before the trade deadline. It doesn’t take a genius or sources to figure that one out.

    B.J. is by far the worst player we have in our starting lineup, but I’m sure you can look at any team in baseball and find a couple of their usual players with an OPS in the .600s. Even the league leading Athletics have 2 everday players in Lowrie and Callaspo who have an OPS in the .600s.

    The Braves are in the same situation as most teams in baseball in this fact. B.J. is just highlighted to us because the Braves are our team. If we were a fan of another team we would be complaining about that teams B.J. Upton.

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