Dodgers 6, Braves 4 (By Kyle B.)

In an effort to promote transparency in the Braves Journal community, I’ll admit today’s contest was over before I punched the clock. I couldn’t bring myself to re-watch the whole game, so today’s recap is going to be nasty, brutish, and short. The Braves lost. We couldn’t push the winning streak to two games. We are the most .500 team in the history of .500 teams.

I haven’t read through the game thread comments, but I’m assuming “Ballgame” is in there a few hundred times around the third inning mark, when the Dodgers took a 4-0 lead on Aaron Harang. The Dodgers scoring was lead by a Drew Butera home run in the second, while Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig added RBI singles. The Braves scratched the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth on a Tommy LaStella fielder’s choice which scored Freddie Freeman. Since we can’t have nice things, the Dodgers immediately got the run back in the top of the fifth on another Adrian Gonzalez single.

The ballgame stayed 5-1 until the bottom of the eighth when Atlanta started to show signs of life. The inning started with an Emilio Bonifacio single and was followed with back-to-back doubles by Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton. After an Andrelton Simmons RBI single, the Braves crawled back within a run and the game was at 5-4.
In the top of the ninth, the Dodgers notched another run on an Adrian Gonzalez double, on a play that involved an umpire reviewed home-plate collision. It didn’t really matter, as the Braves lost by a final score of 6-4.

Harang, who has been reliable for most of the year, only lasted 4.1 innings. His line saw him give up seven hits, three walks, and five earned runs against three strikeouts. For six innings, the Braves were baffled by the Artist Formerly Known as Fausto.
As of this recap, the Braves sit 5.5 games back of Washington in the NL East and only 1.5 ahead of Miami. The Braves are a mere one game over the .500 mark with the best team in baseball coming to town for a weekend series. As for the Wild Card, if you’re into that sort of thing, the Braves are three games out of a spot in the play-in game.

Even though he gave up two hits, an earned run and a walk in two-thirds of an inning, Braves.com says Luis Avilan is BACK and CONFIDENT. So at least we have that going for us.

94 thoughts on “Dodgers 6, Braves 4 (By Kyle B.)”

  1. I mean, better to just lose to the more talented dodgers now and save us the misery of an October loss, right?

  2. We can’t abuse Harang … Without him this year we are the Mets. But when he lays a stinker like today, we are doomed.

  3. What are we selling? Put BJ through waivers, and no one will want him. Try to do the same for Minor, and he’ll get claimed by some team that won’t also take BJ. Unless I’m misunderstanding the process.

    I guess we should be seeing if anyone will just take CJ’s contract.

  4. See what an AL team would give up for Gattis. See what returns you could get for Santana and Harang. Maybe someone takes Chris Johnson. You can’t do anything with BJ until the offseason.

  5. Sell for next yea and you might as well deal heyward and the good upton since theat are free agents after 2015. Braves are stuck in the middle any way you slice it. The uggla, upton and johnson deals screwed them for the next three years. No way around it.

  6. Chris Johnson’s deal is for 23.5 million. He only has to be worth 4 WAR over the course of the contract. His contract isn’t a deal breaker and there is someone out there that would trade for him.

    I got a feeling the Braves clean house this offseason, both in the FO and in the clubhouse.

  7. @7
    Someone was willing to take BJ at the deadline if packaged right.
    Don’t know why they wouldn’t now.

  8. Honestly, I’d trade Minor, both Uptons, and CJ this offseason, and hire a new management squad. Refill the farm with some prospects, bring in a front-line SP, extend Heyward, put Peraza/Kubitza at 3b, get an OF, and roll.

  9. I would think that both BJ’s contract and whatever bad contract we were going to take back would both clear waivers (and, probably already have). Call whatever “sweetener” we were going to throw in the PTBNL and get him out of here now, then blow up 2/3rds of the roster this offseason.

  10. With an upcoming move to a new stadium, I don’t expect to see the team blown up.

    I’m not debating the merits of blowing up the team, but when was the last time the Braves did that?

  11. First, the front office is safe. Fredi is safe. There are no reasons for Liberty to make any changes at the top. I think that outside of Uggla no one was predicting that so many of our players would fail to live up to expectations. If we could rewind the clock I am sure that a poll of Braves Journal wouldn’t have predicted that Simmons would be horrible on offense, that Heyward would be just a league average hitter, that BJ would be THIS bad, that Justin and Freddie would disappear for weeks at a time and the bench would just suck.

    Second, I seriously doubt that there will be any major deals this season. Our good players won’t make it through waivers and the ones we want to get rid of simply don’t represent any value to another team.

    Third, we are in a lousy division in a lousy league. The team going on a winning streak is a pretty low probability proposition but shit happens. Considering the dearth of options Wren has to actually improve the team this year, he has to hope that some people get hot and a September run keeps the team in the thick of things. Because of that Wren should hold on to pitching, as its the only thing the team does well.

    This off season will be more interesting than season in my opinion. I am sure that BJ is gone this off season. It will only be a matter of which pitcher and pitching prospects will be packaged with him for someone to take a portion of his contract. I think his value is so low that even if a deal involves the Braves taking a bad contract that he will have to put a sweetener in.

    I think that the Braves and the fan base overestimated the quality of the core of this team. Teheran,Wood,Minor,Kimbrell,Heyward,Freeman,JUpton,Simmons are all pretty good players but outside of Kimbrell none are the best at their respective positions. In other words none of them are super stars.

  12. If we could rewind the clock I am sure that a poll of Braves Journal wouldn’t have predicted that Simmons would be horrible on offense, that Heyward would be just a league average hitter, that BJ would be THIS bad, that Justin and Freddie would disappear for weeks at a time and the bench would just suck.

    The thing about this list is that all of it was actually totally predictable — not hard to imagine Simmons failing at a hitter, Heyward being just average or at least very streaky, BJ sucking, Justin being streaky, Freddie regressing some from last season’s BABIP-fueled success, and the bench being poor, given the players on it — but it’s not like anyone’s going to hold our front office accountable for it anyway.

    My question above was a process question. The deadline deal that was rumored was Minor and BJ for another bad contract. Don’t Minor and BJ have to clear waivers separately for that to work now (as opposed to the offseason)? What are the odds that the team we apparently almost had a deal with is the same team that wins the claim on Minor?

    I would just do what it takes to unload BJ and CJ and try to extend Heyward this offseason. If that means waiting until 2016 to make another run, so be it.

  13. If someone claims B. J., let them have him.

    Edit: ok, I see we have established that won’t happen.

  14. I don’t believe for a second that any team was ready to do a deal for BJ. That’s most likely a leak from the Braves’ side to try to drum up some interest.

    Hearing a lot of people wanting to deal Gattis to the AL. That’s fine, but just imagine this offense next year with Gattis’ bat replaced by another .220 hitter with no power.

  15. @11 – BJ clears waivers easily. But what about the pitcher(sweetener) that will have to be traded with him? Not happening.

    @16 – That is the way I understand it. A player has to clear waivers before he can be traded at this point in the season. So, I’ll ask. Did you predict all the negative? Was that your view point going into the season?

  16. I thought we would be an average team to start the year after losing Beachy and Medlen and replacing Hudson with Gavin Floyd. The hard part is our starting pitching, except for Minor, has exceeded expectations. We would be at least tied with the Nats if we could hit at all.

    I think the FO will try unsuccessfully to get rid of BJ, give him one less month than Uggla next year and then release him. Maybe we’ll see major changes, but that has not been the Braves’ modus operandi for as long as I can remember and I don’t think it will start this offseason. The biggest argument the Braves will make is that they’re the youngest team in baseball. Having either a decent centerfielder or 3rd baseman and an anchor in the rotation outside of Teheran could help us quite a bit and I think that’s the direction we’ll take. I’m not saying it will work, but I don’t see a whole lot of other things happening.

  17. Regarding the front office: I do think changes will be made. Maybe not Fredi and Frank, but I’d bet one of the 2.

  18. So, I’ll ask. Did you predict all the negative? Was that your view point going into the season?

    No, I didn’t predict it. While I figured BJ/CJ/Uggla would be bad, I didn’t think all of the negative would necessarily come to pass. I’d say I was most hopeful about Heyward, but this outcome doesn’t exactly surprise me either. And I didn’t think there’d be little unexpected positive to offset it. I really did not think it would take so long to cut Uggla loose — I guess TLS started somewhat slowly in the minors, though.

    My viewpoint last offseason was that we should’ve been more aggressive trying to win now, dealing Medlen and Sims for a legit ace. While I guess I’ve been vindicated there, I’m not sure that having Samardzija or Price in the fold this year would’ve put us over the top, given our offense.

    For this offseason, I’ll add selling high on Gattis to my list too. I doubt he’ll be this good again offensively, and I question his defense. We may just have to face that we won’t be competitive again until 2016, and at that point, this could be a much tougher division anyway.

  19. 21: Okay, well, you’ll be wrong. The Braves do not operate that way. They’ll probably get a new hitting coach, but the leadership will be basically the same.

    I do think it’s possible that the Braves could be competitive next year, but it will require Wren to decisively win a trade or two. I don’t doubt he’s good at trading, but generally it’s difficult to straight-up fleece another GM. If they don’t find an impact player to plug in at center or third (which could take the form of a corner OF that allows Heyward to slide into center), they shouldn’t keep either Justin or Heyward.

  20. We aren’t moving Gattis. Nor will we blow the team up.

    I could see the Braves do the following:

    -Resign Santana
    -Move BJ and Minor/Young Starter and get a quality bench bat
    -Upgrade CF with a leadoff hitter (Bonifacio?)
    -Extend Heyward and/or Justin
    -Replace the hitting coaches
    -Focus on buidling a deeper bench
    -Add a pen arm

    I honestly think Fredi has a 65% chance of coming back.

  21. While a roster shakeup is needed for next year, we’re going to try and win next year. We’re not going to rebuild with a goal of competing in 2016 or ’17 or whatever and treat next year as a wash. I still don’t understand the fascination with that. It almost never works. The fact that the Astros and Cubs are doing it right now doesn’t mean it’s going to work for them, either. In fact, I’m going to make a prediction right now that at least one of them is going to fail miserably at their rebuild and will have torpedoed their team for the next 10 years. Obviously, the Astros are more likely to be this team than the Cubs, but it really could be either one. For both teams, if their prospects don’t develop as predicted, they’re screwed. And prospects have a nasty habit of not developing as predicted. You put together a team with the goal of winning every single year…period.

    As for this year, my optimism is slowly waning. I’m still pissed off and incredulous about the Luis Avilan thing. That says to me that the team is completely out of ideas. Like, literally anything would’ve been better. Calling up Shreve? Better. Staying with Jaime? Better. Signing some random washed-up guy off the waiver wire? Better. Calling up Luis Avilan as a roll-of-the-dice against all visual and statistical evidence that he hasn’t figured it out yet and then putting him out there in a position to lose the game yesterday is absolutely mind-boggling. Every other front office or managerial decision that people have been complaining about on here all year pales in comparison to how bad that decision was.

    EDIT: I also think Fredi is back. The only way he isn’t is if ownership threatens to fire Frank Wren if he doesn’t fire Fredi. I have no idea how likely that is, but it doesn’t seem exceptionally so.

  22. @19
    If the Cubs were the team involved in talks for BJ and a SP, which I suspect they were, then Minor would only have to be passed by the Rockies as the Cubs have the 2nd worst record in the majors. I’d be down for a B.J. and Minor swap for an OF prospect and Edwin Jackson. Maybe we could pry Valbuena away instead of the OF prospect considering Kris Bryant will be taking over at 3b soon.

  23. Moving JUpton, CJ, Minor, and Bupton in the offseason wouldn’t be detrimental to the team if it meant the following:
    1. Soon to be Major League Ready prospects were acquired with the trades
    2. Makes room to sign Heyward long term
    3. Makes room for Peraza at 3rd base, which is not the ideal position for him but is the only place that would be available for filling, unless he were to take over CF.
    4. Provides financial flexibility to sign a front-line starter.
    5. Bonifacio is re-signed to be Super-Utility
    6. The Braves can find a 10-12MM/year replacement for JUpton

    All of this happening is a pipedream and likely too risky for a conservative front office, but making big changes doesn’t have to mean a rebuild to forfeit playoffs for the upcoming season. There are players that can replace Minor, CJ, BJ, and Jupton and provide equal value, just maybe not dispersed the same. The lot have only been worth 4 WAR this year, with Justin carrying 3.3 of that value.

  24. Out of curiosity, what do y’all mean when you say “legit ace”?

    I think of a top-10, maybe top-15 pitcher in the league. Using my definition, I don’t think David Price is a legit ace. If you mean top-30 in the league, he’s in there (31st in baseball in ERA-, and I assume in ERA+ as well), especially when you consider his MLB-leading 185 innings. But we have another top-30 pitcher in Teheran. So using that definition we’ve already got a legit ace.

    In fact, heading into the season, it would take a real hunch to think it’d be worthwhile to trade one of our top-3 pitchers for David Price.

    In 2013:
    -David Price put up a 118 ERA+ in 186.1 innings.
    -Julio Teheran put up a 119 ERA+ in 185.2 innings.
    -Mike Minor put up a 117 ERA+ in 204.2 innings.
    -Kris Medlen put up a 121 ERA+ in 197.0 innings.

    So we had three David Prices, and it was going to take $10,616,000 to pay them for 2014. The actual David Price is under contract for $14,000,000. Which is, you know, more.

    But we would have been betting on Price’s 2014, not trying to replicate 2013. What’s he doing this year? Leading the majors in innings pitched (no denying that’s phenomenal). 31st in the majors in park-adjusted earned run prevention. That’s a good starter. In my book, thought, that’s not a legit ace, and it’s not what you want to trade for.

    I mean, we’d be looking like geniuses now if Medlen’s elbow had gone out in a Rays uniform. Some of you claim to have thought his injury predictable beforehand–hey, hats off to you. But I don’t think the Braves had a legitimate reason to trade for David Price, and I don’t think anyone should be kicking themselves over it now.

    Samardzija? That line’s a little more blurry. Would have been a much more prudent a move beforehand than our imagined Price deal, and it’d look absolutely brilliant now.

  25. 25: “Acknowledging that you won’t compete next year” isn’t really synonymous with “rebuild.” If you know you can’t win in a particular year–and if this squad stays the same, minus Santana, there’s no reason to think the results will be different–you simply divest yourself of assets that only have value in the worthless year. In this case those assets are Heyward and Justin. Moving two guys who are about to be free agents isn’t a teardown, a rebuild, or anything drastic, it’s just what baseball teams do all the time.

  26. #26,
    On the bright side, historical data would indicate that Colorado would be the very last team, in any professional sport, to want anything to do with Mikey Minor.

  27. Yeah, Colorado taking Minor off waivers would be so epically stupid…I’m not sure it would be possible to wrap one’s head around.

  28. Fixing this team.

    1. Why trade Santana? Unless higher ups have kiboshed offering arb, keeping him gets us a pick (he will get more than one year at close to or more than the arb amount, this time). And, this late in the season, with only the rest of this year under contract, the odds that a pitcher that good gets through waivers are ridiculously low.

    2. Why trade Gattis? Yes, we have seen some offensive holes and yes we have seen some defensive holes, but somebody has to catch. Gattis has at least 4 more cost contained years. He can be a better than league average catcher and a deadly pinch hitter on his off days (if Frediot will use him). Only if his offense is on his upside, is he a legit DH for a contender. Are we that convinced that his offense ISN’T to his upside? If it is to his upside, he is a 5 win player (as a catcher). If it isn’t, he generates more War than anybody else we can pay less than 8 mill to.

    3. If you clear payroll, what will happen with it? I see no reason to think that getting rid of expensive players without the other guy taking on the money is going to allow the team to do anything with extra players. So, even as bad as BJ has been, until you identify the corresponding moves, it makes no sense. Right now, I believe that Heyward should go to center and we should move JUp across the field and find a left fielder. We really don’t have a single bona fide, above average, Major League outfield prospect within 2 years of ATL.

    4. If you are trading, trade from middle infield minor league depth, or move a Major League player in that area and replace. Also, might be able to trade a # 4 starter prospect or a good reliever prospect for something useful (like upgrading the bench).

  29. I doubt that we do move Gattis, but I suspect it would be prudent. His stats are amazingly similar to last year’s, except with a big BABIP spike. And it’s not like his legs are driving that or anything. It just wouldn’t be like the Braves to sell high on him.

    Re: “legit ace,” we went through this so many times last offseason as to give new meaning to the term “ad nauseam.” My thinking was less about the regular season and more about, assuming that we’d make it to the playoffs, that Price/Samardzija would be more likely than Medlen to dominate a play-in game or a playoff series. So much of Medlen’s success depended on spotting his fastball, and that command was what fueled his insane 2012 stretch and his more feast (against the NL East)-or-famine 2013. I was willing to sacrifice a bunch of $$$/future value to increase our playoff odds.

    I guess if it was the Cubs that we were dealing with, that there’d be no reason not to consummate that deal now. We’ll have to see if it was indeed them.

    One nice thing about this offseason is that BJ for sure will be gone.

  30. A rotation arm will have to be added for next year. The Braves will almost certainly trade for or sign a starter. Will they be in the Scherzer, Lester or Iwakuma market or settle for re-signing Santana (I’d rather they didn’t) or a Kyle Kendrick type?

  31. 37: They haven’t signed a top-of-the-market free agent like Scherzer since… I don’t know, Maddux? Definitely not going to happen.

  32. My assumption is, if they really were close to packaging him with a player that they really must’ve valued at some point (Minor), then they must have learned their lesson from Uggla and be dead set on getting rid of him.

  33. I don’t think we should trade Gattis, but going back to Fredi’s comment, the org think Bethancourt is the future. We aren’t putting Gattis back in LF either. He’s cost controlled, so maybe an AL team gives us a CF’r or 3b.

  34. I don’t believe in Bethancourt as the future,* so I hope they don’t trade Gattis.

    *Future backup, maybe. A good pop time doesn’t make a good defensive catcher.

  35. If we trade Gattis we better be getting a MLB-quality 3B or corner OF, because otherwise we’re swapping out an 800+ OPS for Bethancourt. You’ve just made a boring/bad offense even worse if you’re not careful. I feel like there’s way too many Gattis trade scenarios that end up making us worse. No reason to do that since we have a guy that is so cheap and under team control for a while.

  36. I think BJ is released or traded this off season. Traded if the Braves don’t have to give up too much pitching. Released if the cost is prohibitive. To keep him would be unconscionable.

    If it were me, I’d put Simmons out on the market.

  37. @DOBrienAJC: For those curious, Schafer with the #Twins: .261 (6-for-23) with 2 doubles, 2 BB, 5 K, 6-for-6 SBs, 2 sac bunts, .320 OBP, .348 SP

  38. I’m not too concerned with the future of the team. We suck right now, but it won’t take much to right the ship. A couple good-hitting prospects and some shutdown relievers coming up through the system and we’ll be in great shape. With us, it just boils down to keeping what you have. Losing Venters/Medlen/Beachy/Floyd is just flat-out bad luck, and had we known this was going to happen, we wouldn’t have let O’Flaherty walk. Then if we re-signed O’Flaherty, he would have still gone down to injury himself the way he’s done with the A’s. I mean, what do you do about that? What if Venters went down at the end of last season, we re-signed O’Flaherty, and then he went down too. We would have been reading Job around here.

    There was a range of bad/good/best for this season, and I think someone (probably Alex) had listed it at the beginning of the season. The best was basically Uggla/Upton righting the ship, everybody staying healthy, Freeman/Gattis/JUpton/Johnson staying good, and Heyward/Simmons taking the next step. The good was probably 70% of that, and we ended up getting bad. No one took a step forward, we lost a significant portion to injury, and Johnson and now Freeman have regressed.

    Sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and call for a stage 1 re-write. People need to get healthy, some guys have to fix their hitting funks, and we need some better arms in the bullpen. That simple. Right now, we don’t have any of that. My thoughts would be to enjoy the rest of the season the best way we know how, hope (but not expect) to see some improvement by young arms and Simmons/Heyward/Johnson, enjoy watching the Wild Card game (regardless of the outcome), and hope for one of Beachy/Medlen/Venters surviving Tommy John Part 2.

  39. @49

    Yeah, we’re somewhere between Scenarios 1 and 2 right now. As such, we’re still in the wild-card hunt but are one more bad week away from falling out of it.

  40. Greetings from Columbus, Ga…

    Things are relatively dire, but I can’t get into that post-mortem headspace just yet… not until I go to the Saturday & Sunday games anyway.

  41. Do the Uptons have the record for HR/strikeouts in the same inning by brothers yet?

    Edit: Goodness gracious, sorry for the double post everyone.

  42. Ka-boom/ka-boom.

    #52
    Tallest Midget Dept.

    Well, compared to the other side of the Chattahoochee, this town is the Big Rock Candy Mountain. It’s my hometown & all, but I doubt I’ll be here a full 24 hours.

  43. And rubber-toothed strays.

    I like the swings I’ve seen so far. We don’t look lost so far tonight.

  44. Lucky! Heyward got jammed looking for the pitch away there. Good luck is good luck is good luck.

  45. 82- We thought the pained groans went without saying. But if you must:

    RRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNGGGGGH.

    Happy?

  46. I have a question. Why, after three straights years of OPS+ increases and entering his age-39 season, was anyone supposed to predict that Chris Johnson was supposed to have his worst season since his rookie year? I get the Regression joke based on his BABIP last year, but he’s regressed way lower than his pre-2013 levels. That’s either bad luck or he’s off HGH or something. No one could have seen that coming, IMO.

  47. The problem is that, because of Chris’ poor 3B defense (10 to 15 runs worse than league average per year per B-R), even at last year’s level, he was only slightly above average overall, and a bad bet to maintain that level over his contract. He’s being paid like a minor star, which is the absolute top end of his range; his bottom end was what we saw in 2011 and this year.

  48. Yeah, and I think that’s actually the thing we should be looking at now anyway. We’re not likely to catch Washington at this point, sorry to say.

  49. I know it’s one game, but Gosselin sure looked like he belonged out there.

    At worst, looks like we’ve got a decent right-handed option at 2B. At best, it got me wondering what we could get (or unload) re: Andrellton.

  50. Two white shorts and three black dresses within 1 minute of walking into Starbucks this morning.

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