Bizarro World post, Braves 6, Dodgers 2

Remember Bizarro World in Superman where everything was the opposite? I want to live in Bizarro MLB where the Braves play well and beats the other guys. Alas, that alternative universe does not exist in anything other than our hearts and minds.

How can we stink up offense? Let me count the ways. Get your most consistent on base threat (Tommy LaStella) to tweak his hamstring. And that brought that offensive juggernaut, Ramiro Pena, into the game. Get the Bear, Evan Gattis, to swing like he is desperately hungry trying to swat a salmon from a stream. Freddie Freeman can hit a sharp line drive, but pulled all the way around so it almost hit Justin Upton in the on deck circle. I am tired of counting. I will exit this meaningless rant and ask that each of you add your own personal observation of offensive futility in the comments.

Again, a substantially ineffective pitcher, Kevin Correia, shuts this miserable team down. Correia has been a mediocre 5th starter for most of his career. He went through the lineup the first time 9 up and 9 down.

Julio Teheran goes through 5 innings pretty effectively except there was a tell tale sign. Not ONE ground ball out. So, in the 6th, he gives up 5 hits and 3 runs. With this team, that equals “L”.

This team cannot be tweaked. There is more talent on offense than they are showing. However, for some reason, it isn’t getting on the field. But even at that higher level of talent, this team is a “barely make the playoffs, then go home” team.

102 thoughts on “Bizarro World post, Braves 6, Dodgers 2”

  1. I think the Dodgers are just making fun of us. Let’s throw whatever scrap heap pitchers we can find and I bet we still win. Watch out for a Jair Jurrjens or Jo Jo Reyes signing today to throw against us tomorrow. It’s a good thing that Horatio is a coach now….

  2. I like that Dascenzo comes up last in the new poll. When nobody ever gets to third, it’s hard for the guy over there to make a mistake.

  3. We lost to Kevin “&*@%^!$” Correia?????? The same guy traded by the pitching anemic Twins for a bag of balls and some chewing gum?? I despair.

  4. Losing sucks. But it’s convenient how when Aaron Harang puts together a WTF season it’s all “Roger McDowell is good at working with marginal veterans like that” but when Kevin Correia makes one decent start against a terrible offense no one suggests that LA has a decent pitching coach.

  5. If you’re thinking of picking up Charlie Blackmon on your fantasy team, know this:

    Home – .332/.385/.537/.922
    Road – .232/.268/.314/.582

    At the beginning of the week, I have to set my lineup based on where the Rockies are playing. Sheesh.

  6. @ 6,

    But Sam, the first few starts of Harang most people were going “WTF?”.

    If Honeycutt can make Correia that much better (or 30% that much better) that fast and sustain it, then yes he is a pitching genius. Until at least a few of those are done, Occam’s Razor says to go with the most obvious answer (Braves offense is abysmal).

  7. I don’t think our offensive problems have much of anything to do with the quality of the opposing pitcher. I bet Minor would throw 8 innings of 4 hit ball against us.

    You know it’s gotten real bad when you are thinking stuff like “yeah we really need to get Simmons’ bat back in the lineup”…

  8. I think it’s time to give up on the season and become temporary Royals fans. They’ve always been my second favorite team anyway and now they have moved into first place. Seems like a fun team.

  9. @15, That can be the stirring narrative cooked up by some marketing department for all three or four games in which the Nationals are actually in this year’s playoffs.

  10. @14, while I’m 100% on board with the idea of not giving the laundry infinite leverage over your interests, the Royals are just the Braves with better injury luck and a couple more hits bunched together. That lineup is objectively putrid though. They won’t last.

    I’ll ride for the 2014 Braves to the end though because I feel like they tried to do right by us fans. They locked up their core (to a fault, when CJ came around), they splurged on Ervin Santana when 40% of the rotation went down, and they ate their losses on Uggla to give La Stella a shot.

    Short of getting a time machine to warn 2012 Frank Wren that B.J. Upton is about to fall off one of the most inexplicable cliffs in modern baseball history, I don’t know what else this team could have done differently. Some seasons (2010) it seems like you ride some good breaks , and some (2014), you get none. There are valid reasons to peace-out on a baseball fandom, but this ain’t it.

  11. I kid mostly, though the Royals do have a magical run going right now. It will probably run out of steam but I guess mostly from all the Braves castoffs and the writings of Posnanski, I’ve always rooted for KC in the AL which has up to this point been mostly unrewarding.

    I actually bought a ticket to Thursday’s game in ATL so hopefully we’ll only be 2 back by then.

  12. @18 I agree. As much as folks want to bitch about the front office, Wren and company did what they could with what they had.

    Last night was tough to watch. I don’t get to watch many games so its just my luck that last night was damn clown show.

  13. @18 is a nice summary. I’ll be at tonight’s game, and the post-game Weezer concert, should anyone stop by.

  14. @18 – I agree with everything except the “one of the most inexplicable cliffs” part.

    It’s not like BJ was a Troutian force when he hit the open market. He was coming off a year with an OBP BELOW .300 and the 6th most strikeouts in baseball. He was not a very good player before Atlanta. A low-floor, low-ceiling signing.

  15. @mlbbowman: #Braves lineup:Bonifacio 6 La Stella 4 Freeman 3 J. Upton 7 Heyward 9 Gattis 2 Johnson 5 B.J. 8 Minor 1

  16. @24 .255/.336/.422/.758 BJ’s career line at Tampa Bay. In 2012 he hit 28 HRs too and was coming off of a very good post season.

    I took a look at his splits and to your point he seemed to be trending downward. But at age 28 you don’t expect the nosedive in performance we are seeing. 32 33? maybe but not in a ‘peak’ year.

  17. For the commenters who suggested that Wren has some work to do in the upcoming offseason, may I suggest he start with getting his resume updated. He gone.

  18. The Braves hold out Simmons another day … for only one reason. So that they can say that Bonifacio will have to play SS and than means BJ gets to “bat” 8th and play CF.

    We would have a better chance with Pena (who stinks) at SS and Bonifacio in CF but Fredi is under orders not to write out that lineup.

  19. @DOBrienAJC: #Braves Fredi G on utilizing lefty James Russell: “Maybe I need to do a better job with him, bring him in for full inning”

  20. I have no idea where we’re sitting. Alan got the tix. Email me at samh at bellsouth dot net and I’ll shoot you my cell number.

  21. It’s not like BJ was a Troutian force when he hit the open market. He was coming off a year with an OBP BELOW .300 and the 6th most strikeouts in baseball. He was not a very good player before Atlanta. A low-floor, low-ceiling signing.

    This is a bit of an oversell. In hindsight, there were plenty of red flags, but I think anyone who claimed to know what they hell BJ Upton was going to do going forward, in 2012, was lying to themselves. He was a couple year removed from a fantastic player for the cost.

  22. @19 I am with you. Living in Michigan the Tiger rhetoric is unbearable and I can’t stand them. I would love it if the Royals could somehow pull this off

  23. Command decision time. Do I really want to watch the game on MLB channel tonight? After last night I’ m starting to wonder if reading about it is better.

  24. Bonifacio managed to get out twice to start the game…once a Cub, always a Cub?

    Was skipping a start the way to fix Minor? His curve is looking pretty sharp, although on the last two batters he has made some mistakes.

  25. You have got to be kidding me. That was bad luck. We have been so blooped to death recently.

  26. Okay now, BJ. Let’s see that bunt for a hit!

    Walk. I don’t think they realize Minor’s a better hitter.

  27. Whatever defensive virus we have has infected the Dodgers. Shame we couldn’t take more advantage of it.

  28. Goddammit! Do we need to drag some Little League coach in to teach these guys basics like “let the outfielder get balls in front of him when he’s closer than you are”?

  29. Now that one should have been one for Heyward to go for. Tommy basically had no chance to catch it. Totally different play from the one in Seattle.

  30. I sometimes wonder who I dislike more, Bupton or Regression? They both stink, they both seem to be rather douchey,…what a choice between those two

  31. Another great at bat by big time clutch hitter Freddie Freeman. If CJ is the double play king Freddie is the double play prince

  32. It seems like it is constant poor approaches by the hitters and that would fall on the hitting coach, right?

  33. @60, this has been discussed. There is a group of folks on here who do thing greg walker shares heavily in the blame. There is another group who feels hitting coaches minimally impact professional hitters, if at all. I’m in the first camp.

  34. I’m all for fining everyone the last two weeks’ salary. If you’re only pretending to play, we’ll only pretend to pay you. And I’m with John, by the way.

  35. There are just no words to describe how terrible the past two weeks of “baseball” have been for this team.

  36. We should have fired our hitting coaches already — that much is a given. The way the team is playing so tight and making so many miscues? I subscribe to the idea that there’s not that much that Fredi can really do about any of that, but that kind of IS his job…

    Ownership spent extra on this team (in their view). You have to think there will be at least a little heat on Fredi and on Wren too. Something leaks about their job security, and then ownership comes out the next day and denies it, just to send a little message or something.

  37. We shouldn’t even talk about the pitchers/bullpen. Fact is our offense sucks. 2 runs per game isn’t going to win ballgames. You pretty much have to fire Walker & Fletcher. Let TP work with them until you hire Chipper in the offseason.

  38. #68 – Dont think we can blame them. They’ve provided enough resources for us to win ballgames.

  39. #70 — I’m saying more of they don’t care about lax personnel and performance. They give us the budget and it’s pretty much turned over to Schuerholz/McGuirk/Wren.

  40. @68, Yeah, you’re right. It wouldn’t be the Braves’ way of doing things either. But this kind of performance would merit some public pressure, if it were other franchises in our place.

  41. How often do hitting coaches get fired midseason? I’m asking not to defend Walker, just to wonder how many good gets there are just hanging around jobless right now.

  42. I’d be shocked if Walker/Fletcher were let go this late in the season. I’d also be shocked if they’re back next year.

    I don’t think this is their fault, I just don’t see how they keep their jobs given this terrible offensive performance under their watch.

  43. Remy, Thanks for that Link to the Schmidt story. I thought it was fascinating, the line, hitting practice is now daily drills trying to maintain the stroke of .250 and under hitters—priceless. These guys won’t listen, they make too much money. Chipper would find the same problems as Schmidt and Brett. Very very informative article.

  44. @70 – win ballgames? Liberty John wouldn’t give one mealy Colorado oyster for a hundred wins. Nkw, he will give precisely the amount of resources necessary for the Braves to win a World Series. Every year.

    “World Series” is Cable Johnny-speak for an annual 10% return on his (er, Liberty Capital’s) tax-advantaged investment in the Atlanta National League Baseball Club. Of course, that’s 10% net of various, sundry and excessive fees and expenses Liberty John bas plopped on the Braves’ balance sheet each year, as he will through 2019, when he’ll exit the “baseball space” through a sale that will somehow result in stalwart free market champ Liberty John taking a significant loss, a loss his Magical Media Conglomerate will bravely bear, a loss as confounding as it is significant, confounding to most folks at least, given the Braves’ incredible and unheralded run of consecutive World Series championships (World Series of the Liberty variety).

    Almost to a man, the folks who work within the Braves’ organization, Wren to the grounds crew, do everything they can to win baseball games, and their results are darn good considering the resources Johnny Colorado allows them. But the Braves won’t get what their folks need til the Braves get new ownership. What’s that? Stop rambling? OK hon. I just wish the Braves were owned by someone else. Also, I left the game last night and reized we’re probably not going to be playing in the post-season. For real. Dang.

  45. I don’t see the Braves letting Walker go during the season. If things don’t improve, this will be an interesting offseason.

  46. On the hitting coach – While I concede the poor offensive performance can be placed on the hitters themselves, isn’t that the entire reason you pay coaches? To get more out of your guys? I get that Walker/Fletcher may not be the problem but they certainly aren’t the solution either. The real question is whether you could find someone who could be the solution.

  47. @73

    Mike Schmidt might be on to something. There aren’t a lot of guy who make adjustments.

    However, it is a lot harder to adjust now when you may face 3-4 ptichers in a game.

  48. Interesting to see a little Cody Martin puff piece on MLBTR.

    Though I hope Wren would only do something that helps us next year as much as this one. Not much point in trying to deal with this mess now.

  49. Put me into the hitting coaches don’t make that much difference camp. Walker and Fletcher will be fired during the off season. But so what? Is anyone going to fix BJ? Make Simmons stop swinging at everything? Get Chris Johnson to quit swinging at every pitch that is around his ankles? Don’t you think that Walker/Fletcher are talking to these guys? Going over film? Batting cage sessions?

    Last night I watched Heyward in a high leverage situation swing late on 3 pitches. Not even close. Its a wonder the guy can hit anything with all that hand movement and rocking up and down. Is it just me or is the downward plane on his swing larger than other players? Its no wonder he hits so many little dribblers to the left and bounces so many balls right in front of the plate.

    The old saying that pitching is 75% of the game is false. The Braves can pitch the hell out of a baseball. But not being able to hit, field, or throw is killing us.

    Mike Minor pitched well last night. So one positive.

  50. i am almost to the point where i don’t mind the losing as long as it alerts the front office to the fact that they have no choice but to upgrade CF & 3b.

    even if we went on a run and made the playoffs, then what? a 2-1 loss in the play-in game? lose another uncompetitive series to the Dodgers?

  51. On “pitching is ___ % of the game”, I don’t know where, but I read a great sabermetric article on that about 8 to 10 years ago.

    They attributed “defense” as 55% and “offense” as 45%. That is mostly that a run saved IS more valuable than a run scored. You never lose if the other guy doesn’t score. The lower the run scoring environment, the more precious each run is. Several reasons this is mathematically so.

    Then, I don’t remember the calc or reasoning, but they came up with fielding defense 15 of the 55 and pitching 40.

    Looking off the wall, in our case, we are probably getting 80% as much defense as could reasonably be expected, 80% as much pitching as could reasonably be expected, and (for the last 30 days), 30% as much offense as could be reasonably expected (maybe less?). So, 12 plus 32 plus 13.5 equals 57.5. A barely above average club.

  52. We really need to upgrade our bench. It would be a lot easier to hide Regression and BJ if was had serviceable backups. Bonifosio is an upgrade, but we need at least two more bats over there.

    I wouldn’t bring back Pena, Don’t-hit, or Middle Infielder of the Week. Laird is our best reserve and that’s not going to help you very much.

    This has been a big hole all season and little has been done to address it.

  53. Bonifacio is as big of a bench/utility upgrade as there is. Which is why it’s so frustrating that we may not use him correctly. Wren did his job there. Now it’s on Fredi.

  54. Good piece on the Braves over at Fangraphs. Basically states what we all knew: A hot start fueled by crazy good pitching set the Braves up in April, they have been a .500 team since, except for the last 2-3 week when they have played like the worst team in baseball.

    @87 – Upgrades at CF & 3B are a must if they wish to contend next year. Wren gave bad contracts to the players occupying those positions. To just DFA them both would take Dodgers money from the owners and might also cost Wren his job. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m also not paid millions to be a GM.

  55. The bench is far less important than the fact that our everyday lineup can’t freaking hit. We’re a power hitting team with no power. Until our guys make adjustments we’re just going to keep sucking.

    Right now I would say that the Heyward/Freeman/JUpton base is a decent foundation to build on, but even those guys have a lot to work on. The rest of the offense is just pure crap.

  56. I can’t remember who mentioned it earlier, but I am in the camp with the thinking that Bonafacio replaces CJ and BJ stays in cf in the 8 hole when Andrelton comes back. BJ actually is less of a train wreck than CJ anymore at the plate and plays capable defense, unlike CJ

  57. @93 – I just don’t see that. BJ has been proclaimed as putting it together for a few months now, but outside of a few games, he usually regresses back to around .200. CJ is not good by any means, but the stats bear out that he’s better than BJ offensively. I know CJs glove at third isn’t great, but the stats I’ve seen on BJ in center don’t seem to point to a stellar defender.

    I just don’t see how playing a guy with a .211 BA and .616 OPS is preferable to playing someone with a .271 BA and .670 OPS. You are giving up 60 points of BA and over 50 points of OPS for a significant defensive upgrade at 3rd. I would rather have a slight defensive upgrade in center and the extra BA and OPS.

  58. I think one of them should be benched for Bonafacio and the other should hit 8th. At this point, either one out of the lineup is an upgrade

  59. @92 Heyward shouldn’t be seen as an offensive corner stone. He is a complementary player on offense. Hell CJ and BJ have as many extra base hits as he does. And there in lies the rub. Too many complementary players and guys that just plain suck on offense. JUpton and Freeman are good players but are they good enough to be the offensive foundation?

  60. I hope that Wren has come to the conclusion that another season of BJ Upton simply isn’t beneficial. I am sure that a trade will occur this off season. I just wonder how much of a sweetener he will have to add to any trade package to get a team to take him. I also think that the Braves have to ask themselves if replacing Simmons with someone somewhat less spectacular with the glove but less of a drag on the offense is easier than finding a league average 3B. I think getting high level hitter via trade or FA is out of the realm of probability.

    I’d dangle Simmons as a trade candidate. Package BJ with something, probably pitching since it seems that is the only thing we have of value. Give everyone that can play 3b in the system a tryout or try to pry a utility player that can play the position from a team and give him a chance to be a starter. And then pray that Heyward can be 2012 Heyward on offense.

  61. @92, I don’t disagree. Heyward has been disappointing offensively this season, but I still hold out hope that an actual hitting coach might be able to fix him. Maybe that’s just wishing. He’s still so young that it’s worth taking a chance, especially given that the rest of his game is so good. He’s got some fundamental problems with his swing that need to be fixed (extraneous pre-swing movements, severe downward swing-plane, etc), and it’s going to take us hiring someone like Chipper that can command respect and attention in order to make changes.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how the offseason plays out with respect to our attempts to lock up Heyward longer-term. 2014 has given the Braves more leverage, that’s for sure. If he’s going to hit like this then I don’t think we even want to lock him up, but I’m sure we’re thinking this is just a bump in the road. Maybe we can make him a generous offer now and he’ll be more likely to accept.

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