Braves 4 A’s 3 Again

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So a team that struggles to beat the Marlins and Padres sweeps the team with the best record in baseball? Yeah, that’s how this season has gone.

On paper, this looked to be the an easy win for the A’s. They had one of their 7 Aces ® (John Lester)on the mound and the Braves were sending their top batting practice pitcher (Mike Minor.) Fortunately for the Braves, Minor outpitched Lester.

Justin Upton and Regression both homered and El Oso Blanco also plated a run.

It also appears Phil Gosselin is going to get more playing time. He made his third straight start and went 1-4.

The Braves went 6-4 on the “Home Stand of Doom.” Pretty, pretty, not so bad. The Braves now fly to Pittsburgh for three big games with the Pirates. After that the schedule gets a lot easier and the Braves have put themselves in contention for a post season spot.

152 thoughts on “Braves 4 A’s 3 Again”

  1. Just some observations as I finally have gotten to watch the Braves play a lot lately, thank you MLB TV and ESPN.

    Simmons is a terrible terrible hitter. I like Kruk’s snide remark last night after Simmons nearly lost his uniform on a swing. ‘Yeah, 5 homers, a real power hitter.’ You have to figure Walker/Fletcher are pulling their hair out with this guy. Its just coincidence but just as ESPN flashed the graphic showing his 17 homers he nearly cartwheeled into the opposing dugout. He may be a nice guy but I’m starting to wonder if he is a dumbass.

    Justin Upton is a stud. That pitch he hit out last night was inside closer to his ankle than his knee and he drove it out on a line. If he could hit on the road closer to what he hits at Turner he is a top 3 player.

    There is no reason for BJ Upton to be on the field. Last night’s defensive lapse led to a run. If the guy can’t contribute defensively ….. But I know Fredi will continue to play him.

    Reiterating from last night’s thread. Kruk mentioned that he had talked to Walker about all the open and closing of the hands and how Heyward wrings his hands on the bat when he is moving his arms back to hitting position and how that is robbing him of his power. Maybe Heyward and Simmons just don’t want to be coached. I personally still believe that hitting coaches have little effect on player performance but its even worse if the subject of said coaching doesn’t want to take instruction.

    But a lot of positives from this series too. We beat 3 good pitchers and a very good team. Our good hitters were good and our bad hitters were good in spots. Our starting pitching and relief pitching was great. I know its a very very small sample size but Phil Gosselin looks like he can play at this level. I don’t blame Fredi for giving him more playing time but IHMO it should be BUpton or Johnson’s playing time.

  2. Knowing that something isn’t working, identifying the something that’s not working, coming up with a new approach, AND implementing it are all different things. I imagine that it’s difficult to change habits like Jason’s. I know what’s wrong with my softball swing, but it’s still very difficult for me to change it… even when a ball is just lobbed to me.

    That said, I’m just as frustrated as everyone else.

    And swinging out of your shoes should be something that’s a little easier to adjust.

  3. BJ has to be benched permanently again. Somehow platoon Bonifacio and Gosselin. LaStella needs to be playing also.

  4. @2 I see your point. Muscle memory is a hard thing to modify. Especially during the season. But God Dang, You would think that if the guy has half a brain and it was as simple as keep your hands still before you cock your bat …… This coming from a guy that was 0 for little league.

  5. Re: Simmons. I don’t remember his swinging out of his shoes being a habit of his. Does he do that a lot? I might just not be noticing. Not that he’s a particularly good hitter. Personally, I pin a lot of his troubles on the fact that the can’t seem to judge the difference between a strike he can drive and a strike he can’t do anything with.

    Re: Heyward. Maybe the lack of power comes from the hands thing? But only maybe. He’s always done the hands thing, and he hit 27 home runs in 2012. GENUINE POWER HITTER (TM) Justin Upton’s highest career total is 31. Anyway, Heyward has had power in the past, and he has always done the hands thing in the past. I’m not convinced that’s what’s going on with it.

    Can’t disagree with your more general point that perhaps he’s not working well with the hitting coaches, and that perhaps he’s just being a stubborn ass about it. Can’t totally agree with it either–George Brett and Mike Schmidt are hitting legends. Jason Heyward hasn’t refused to listen to Brett and Schmidt; he’s only working with Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher.

  6. The wife and I flew to Pittsburgh Saturday, and we’ll be at the game tonight. First time at PNC. Any advice, gents? Beer? Food?

  7. When he first came up Heyward was very still with his hands high. There is an image of him on the Mississippi Braves home page. I see your point. I truly don’t know when he lowered his hands and went to that semi squat batting stance. A hitting legend doesn’t always resonate. I’ve heard that the reason that most MLB coaches are NOT former great players is that they couldn’t teach the stuff that came easy to them. You can’t teach natural ability. If you recall that Schmidt piece, Brett, one of the greatest hitters ever quit being the hitting coach, because despite his resume, his players weren’t listening to him.

  8. @6

    You will be advised to get a Primanti’s sandwich. Prepare to be underwhelmed — there’s a reason french fries inside a sandwich isn’t a thing. I enjoyed Manny’s (Sanguillen) BBQ more. As for beer, neither Iron City nor Yuengling are my favorite, but Iron City is more purely Pittsburgh.

  9. @5 To further elaborate. I flat out don’t know if he was using his current stance in 2012 when he had his big power year. But if that was the case, if it worked then you keep doing it right? I mean it sure is working now, right?
    If as you imply that he isn’t listening to Walker/Fletcher because they weren’t great MLB hitters (and I acknowledge we don’t know that) then he is being a dumbass. He is costing himself a lot of money. Elite hitters make more than elite defenders. A lot more.

    But again, I honestly don’t think that hitting coaches make that much of a difference. Its probably that Heyward may simply not be an elite hitter.

  10. Thanks for the BBQ tip, sansho. You’re definitely right about Primanti’s. The wife avoids gluten, and I hate mayo, so that’s out the window. Yuengling and Iron City are so widely available now; hoping for a good craft brew.

  11. Lots of things are working. Heyward has been a good hitter in 2014. He just doesn’t have much power for the first time in his career–which is troubling, but not damning.

    My guess is that there’s something else at play here other than the movement of his hands–and that something else is the thing he hasn’t been able to fix, whether due to muscle memory, or injury, or not listening to the advice of someone who has identified it.

    I hope I don’t imply that Heyward is deliberately not listening to someone–that doesn’t seem like his way. He’s the guy at Turner Field all through the off-season. I do mean to say that I bet that superstar major league hitters know a couple tricks, whether mechanical tricks or mental tricks, that don’t come up with run-of-the-mill hitting coaches. And I’m sure that players are more likely to give a George Brett or a Mike Schmidt or a Frank Thomas or a Chipper Jones or a Hank Aaron more of an audience. (Also, it helps this last point that they aren’t the same voices the players hear every day–they’re a rare treat, and therefore harder to ignore.)

  12. I think the issue with Heyward is the fact that he can’t hit LH pitching and everybody expects this to be turned around. If you look at the guys career numbers, he has been a very productive against RH pitching. He is, now, 5 years into his career. Aside from last year, he has hit drastically worse against LH pitching every year. I think what we see is what we get with Jason Heyward.

    We have a plus rated glove everyday in the outfield with him. He is going to average somewhere between 10-20 HRs a year with around 15-20 SBs. He is the perfect leadoff hitter for us against RH pitching but against LH pitching he should be dropped to the bottom of the order.

    Yes, Heyward had a 27 HR season, but that is one odd season out of the 5. Even Francoeur had a 29 HR season. What I am saying is players do have power surge years. I doubt Simmons will ever reproduce his 17 HR season year again.

    In Jason Heyward, we have a solid player. Everybody should stop expecting him to put up 20+ HRs a year and be a big time middle of the order bat. In saying this, I really do wish he would stop that hand thing he does, but I do not think it will magically make him drop more bombs every year.

  13. Yeah you are right. He is what he is. Nothing more than a complementary piece on the team. However, I would bet that the Braves had higher hopes for him. I certainly envisioned him being the core of the offense along with Freeman and JUpton.

    As of now I’ll try to stop being disappointed in him and give him his due for what he does and not what he can’t do.

  14. The Braves also had higher hopes for Jeff Francoeur. Talent is talent, and talent will out. It certainly looks to be the case that Jason Heyward has a big weakness against LHP.

  15. Close…Heyward’s better than a complimentary piece. While not a superstar, he’s really good in his own right. The kind of player you try to extend.

  16. The pattern seems to be always go with the second guy the Braves bring up. That first guy who gets all the hype is usually somewhat of a let down while the second guy who does not get much hype seems to be the real deal. See exhibits Francouer/McCann and Heyward/Freeman.

  17. @6, agree with sansho about Primanti Bros. — it’s a novelty to Pittsburgh, and worth it to have once. As far as beer goes, Church Brew Works is the best you can do at PNC, but if you’re on the town, check out East End Brewing (www.eastendbrewing.com) — they’re a pretty well-kept secret and a lot better than Iron City and Yuengling.

  18. You guys are taking this way too far. It’s an unwarranted insult to Heyward to be on the same side of an analogy as Francoeur.

  19. Yeah, to quote a friend, don’t look now but Mike Minor has strung together 2 quality starts in a row, and 3 of his last 4.

  20. @12

    I agree with you. I have come to expect 3 things from Heyward over the last 5 years.

    Great Defense
    Good bat against Right Handed pitchers
    Bad bat against Left Handed pitchers

    Atlanta has players that would make okay lineups against Right and Left handed pitching. It just so happens that they look completely different from one another.

    Right Handed Pitching—-Left Handed Pitching
    Heyward RF – OPS .820—Bonifacio CF – OPS .985
    Gosselin 3rd – OPS .777–Gosselin LF – OPS 1.072
    Freeman 1st – OPS .901–Freeman 1st – OPS .791
    J. Upton LF – OPS .824— J. Upton RF – OPS 1.083
    Gattis C – OPS .759——Johnson 3rd – OPS 1.092
    La Stella 2nd – OPS .643–Gattis C – OPS 1.202
    Simmons SS – OPS .622—La Stella 2nd – OPS .898
    B.J. Upton CF – OPS .631–Simmons SS – OPS .713
    Pitcher—————–Pitcher

    I know I know. Jason Heyward is not in a starting lineup against Left Handed pitching. His OPS is .454. This is worse than B.J. Upton’s .512 OPS against Left Handed pitching. Yes, his defense is amazing, but look at the numbers of the guys in the Left Handed pitching lineup. It is hard to argue against that until Gosselin shows that he cannon hit. If Gosselin begins to come back to earth, one can make arguments that Heyward should start against Left Handers and Johnson should start against Right Handers. Until then, we should ride the hot hand.

    We are a midlevel payroll team and should stop acting like every player we have is an everyday starter. We cannot afford everyday starters at every position. It is not the worst thing in the world to have 1-2 players that platoon on a regular basis. I just wish our team could get behind that. It has worked for several successful teams over the years.

  21. @19: I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic or not there, but just in case.

    1. Jason Heyward is a much better player, in all facets of the game, than Jeff Francoeur.

    2. The Braves are right to continue to work with and play Jason Heyward every day, whereas Jeff Francoeur should have been demoted in no less than his third season.

    3. It is still the case that Jason Heyward, much like Jeff Francoeur, is showing himself to be somewhat less than his hype would have him be. He’s sort of a weird middle ground between Frency and Andruw on that scale.

  22. Heyward hitting a single in 2012

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v25247149/atlpit-heyward-scores-bourn-with-a-single-to-center/

    Heyward hitting a triple in 2014

    http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/69622576/v35068325/atlsd-heyward-puts-braves-on-the-board-with-triple/

    You’ll notice he bounces his hands in both videos, he grips and regrips the bat in both videos. What he does in 2014, but is not obvious in 2012, is he gives his bottom hand an inexplicable quarter turn, crooking his wrist, so that his middle knuckles turn from facing the catcher inward to facing his own chest.

    I can imagine that tightness in his wrist being an obstacle toward pulling the ball with authority. I can not say if that is really the issue, but I believe it’s what Kruk was talking about last night.

  23. It’s only “weird” because people on here have this binary of superstar/garbage and don’t know what to do with a true-talent 4-WAR player — and that’s giving back some defensive value, so that we can all live happily in our OPS comfort zone.

    If you bought the hype — and I admit, I definitely did — that’s your fault, not his. All that needs to be said is: he’s really good.

  24. At some point in time someone will do analysis of just how valuable Eric O’Flaherty was to the Braves during his time here. Someone smarter and with more time and patience. He may have been the best or at least the most valuable of the O’ventbrel triad. I only say this because it seemed like he inherited most of the high leverage win/lose situations. I didn’t want him to pitch well against us but at the same time I was glad he seemed to pitch well. It’s ok if someone tells me that I don’t know what the hell I am talking about. I won’t go to the trouble of refuting it.

  25. @21 ChopChop. Wow! Very eye opening. Makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the work to put that together. As good as JH is defensively, there’s no amount of defense in right field that offsets a 454 OPS. That’s absolutely putrid. I had great, great hopes for him as a superstar, or close to it, but all the JHey fandom in the world can’t paper that OPS over. When you’re ahead late in the game then put him in as a defensive specialist or pinch run and leave him in. He’s getting his millions regardless so stop worrying about hurting his feelings. It’s time to worry about winning games. I understand the desire to let him develop into a more complete offensive player and if he can start to perform in future limited opportunities like he deserves to play againgt LHP then play him. But we have too large a sample size not to draw some unfortunate but necessary conclusions by now.

  26. @24 – Its not a binary at all. I am pretty sure no one is saying that just because Heyward isn’t a superstar that he is garbage. I am certainly not. Speaking only for myself, I am just truly disappointed. Great defense is a wonderful attribute but this team needs him to be a power hitting force in the lineup. League average .slg for RF is .416. Heyward’s is .379. He is a weird case because most of his ‘goodness’ is tied up in his defense. How many corner outfielders besides Heyward get the press for their defensive prowess over their offense? He is a very valuable player to the Braves but he adds it in a very unusual way.

  27. 16: The real problem with your analogy isn’t mixing Francoeur in. It’s that Heyward is… wait for it… a straight-up better player than Freddie Freeman. (Gasp! Sacrilege!) I know, hitting is sexier, but defense and baserunning count, and Freddie is bad at both, while Heyward is good to elite at both.

  28. @6 – Don’t know how you’re getting to the game, but taking the yellow bridge across the river to the ballpark is a great scene and will get you pumped up for the game.

    Seems to me that Heyward has settled in as a good, not great “toolsy” hitter. I don’t know what happened to the excellent batting eye he displayed his rookie year. His swing has too many holes right now to be Manny Ramirez, a dangerous hitter no matter where the ball is pitched. Best hope might be for him to improve selectivity and be prime Torri Hunter.

  29. @6 Agree on Sanguillen’s BBQ. After the game, there’s an excellent selection of craft beers (and even better food if you’re still hungry) at Meat and Potatoes, about two blocks across the river from the park.

  30. @32, So…your point is that we get to pay Heyward less for creating equivalent value? I actually think I like him more now.

  31. To be clear I was only talking about hitting. I didn’t make that clear in my first post. Frenchy and Heyward were both hyped as big hitters coming up and McCann and Freeman were not talked about much at all until after they had “arrived”. McCann and Freeman were both hiding in the shadow of the guy who was just ahead of them soaking up all the hype oxygen there was available. I don’t recall much hype about any defense to be honest, just hitting. I was not trying to imply the full package (hitting and defense) was what was being hyped so if you got that impression from my first post I apologize. I am also not trying to say one guy is better than the other just that it seems the second one with little-to-no hype seems to always outperform expectations while the first guy underperforms.

  32. @27, I don’t buy that this is the totality of the story myself, but what Heyward’s dWAR says is that he’s the exact RFer the team needs. He gets more defensive chances and delivers on them.

    Blaming him for the team’s offensive shortcomings is like blaming the last batter in a given game for making the last out. And here, we have BJ…

  33. Move Heyward to CF and all the whining stops. It’s just so simple, even Fredi could do it.

    I do think that the quarter-turn of his hands just before his swing starts is robbing him of all his power. Try it for yourself. Bat-head speed comes from the hands releasing in a whip-like fashion, just like a golf swing, and that inward rotation of his hands is restricting his ability to get that whip/snap action because the ‘hinge’ in the two wrists isn’t aligned optimally. No clue why this isn’t something easily fixed.

  34. I PgDn on the “Heyward is not performing to expectations” stuff. I get that we’d like to have Heyward become Mike Trout, but he’s not going to within the next couple months. What could happen is some relievers getting hot and shortening games to 7 innings like in the good old days, Gattis and Johnson could get hot, and Minor could regain form. If those three things occur, we’re a playoff team. If Gosselin is anywhere as close to as advertised and could be our Brooks Conrad/Charles Thomas/Jose Constanza flash-in-the-pan-hero, then we could get out of the first round. If BJ Upton becomes 2008 BJ Upton, we could make it to the World Series. If one of our starting pitchers starts pitching like Clayton Kershaw, then we could win the World Series. Obviously the last two things are as unlikely as any teams’ best-case scenarios.

    In the meantime, blaming the hitting coaches for our woes is probably worthy of PgDn treatment as well. Not going to change by the end of the season, and we don’t even know what’s going on behind the scenes.

  35. Freeman and Heyward are completely different players, but they are both extremely important to the Braves team.

    Freeman is an everyday player who can hit both RH and LH pitching and has a quick glove at first. No, he does not have the range we would like, but who cares. He still can pick up bad throws like crazy which I truly value from a 1st baseman.

    Heyward is in a defensive class with the best of them. He does great against RH pitching. I do not mind him sitting games that LH pitching starts because, as we have seen this year, it is not often that we face LH starting. This is because of the way the schedule fell and the fact that the Braves lineup other than Heyward has killed LH pitching this year which leads teams to avoid using a LH starter if they can.

    At worst, you sit Heyward to start those games against LH starters and bring him in in the 7th inning when a reliever comes in and you have his bat, baserunning, and defense for the end of the games started against LH pitching. Sure, he may eventually work out his LH hitting struggle, but it is not in the best interest of the Braves this year to let him do that.

    ChopChop @21 laid out what is best for this team as the season progresses. It would be unfair to the team and the fans to not at least consider something like he suggested. The management has those numbers just like we do. Why can’t they apply them?

    Seriously, we all moan about sitting B.J. which is justified. But, B.J. has a better OPS against LH pitching at .512 than Heyward does against LH pitching at .454. Yes, Heyward’s defense is 10 times that of B.J.’s, but when looking at the success of some of our players against LH pitching, we have to admit that it is justified to sit Heyward in those situations just as it is justified to sit B.J.

  36. While you debate the merits of hitting vs. defense (again !!)lots note another managerial landmark.
    Fredi passed both Charley Grimm and Fred Haney for career wins as a Brave Saturday night when he notched 342.
    Charlie Grimm is best known as managing the Cubs from 1932-1938 and 1945-1949, taking them to 3 National League pennants ( ’32, ’35 and ’45).
    Grimm jointed the Braves about 1/4 of the way into the 1952 season, their last in Boston. He accompanied the team as it moved to Milwaukee, managing the renaissance of the franchise on the field as Aaron, Mathews and others joined the team. Unfortunately he seemed to have worn out his welcome, getting let go 1/3 of the way into the 1956 season, capturing 341 victories as Braves manager.
    Coincidentally, his successor Fred Haney also notched 341 victories managing the Braves to 2 World Series appearances (1 victory in ’57).

  37. I don’t like any defensive downgrades, I think defense has been a major part of our run-prevention this year.

    I really wish Heyward would drop a bunt every once in a while. He’s too fast from the left side for them not to honor it. It doesn’t have to work that often to change their positioning.

    If he was on pace for 30, I might change my tune. Hell, even Freeman could benefit from trying, they give him hits over there most of the time. Is he that much slower than Mac?

  38. @40 He also gets on base a ton vs them. Before yesterday, he slugged .200 and got on-base at a .322 clip

  39. #39
    I hear you, but while we certainly need a flash-in-the-pan hero, it really needs to be more of the “Hurricane” Hazle variety.

    Oh, for a hot 6 weeks…

  40. Okay, time for some mythbusting.

    Myth #1: Jason Heyward’s lack of power this season is not surprising.

    Fact: His ISO this year is .115, drastically lower than any other of his seasons. 2010: .179; 2011: .162; 2012: .210; 2013: .173; 2014: .115. His 2014 power production is a major statistical outlier there, significantly moreso than his 2012 surge. When we wonder where Heyward’s power is, we don’t wonder why he isn’t on pace for 27 home runs this year. We wonder why he isn’t hitting for power at anywhere near his career rate.

    Myth #2: Jason Heyward has a bad eye at the plate.

    Fact: Jason Heyward’s walk and strikeout rates (10.7% and 15.8%, respectively) are significantly better than league average (8.0% and 19.8%, respectively).

    Myth #3: Jason Heyward is a complementary piece on this team.

    Fact: Not only is Jason Heyward the best player on the team this season, but his career is shaping up to be (somewhat quietly) spectacular. If he doesn’t play another game this season, he will have put up 23.7 WAR over 5 years. Which averages to 4.74 WAR per year. Chipper Jones averaged 4.47 WAR per year in his career. Hey, I know what you’re thinking. Let’s see how Heyward fares over the next decade. Fair enough. I’m not trying to put him in the Hall of Fame yet. But to dismiss how he’s playing right now or how he has played in his career for the Braves as anything less than great is to miss the point–willfully, if you spend any amount of time talking about this stuff.

    What’s up with the disrespect for his game here?

    Cause it seems like…

    “Cause he’s young and he’s black and his hat’s real low–do I look like a mind reader, y’all? I don’t know. Now am I really not a star or should I guess some more?”

    “Well, you should be worth 5.5, but you’re only worth 5.4.”

  41. Hey shout-out to jjschiller for the take on Heyward’s hands. I’m not sure anyone gave him his propers on those videos yet.

  42. Seriously, who cares about race?

    @ChopChop said to sit Johnson verses RH pitching with his lineup analysis and nobody made a race comment about that.

    This discussion has been strictly baseball until @Edward pulled the race card @46. There is no need for that.

  43. Somewhere in the middle.

    Change “it’s now racist” to “makes one suspicious” and “want Heyward to hit better” to “thinking it’s clear Heyward is a platoonable piece, and not too much more”

  44. @ 46. Pathetic race baiting. People on this blog were even harder on Francouer. Was that because his skin was white or did he wear his hat real low also? I don’t remember. What I do know is a 454 OPS against LHP and 115 ISO overall from a corner outfielder is color blind.

  45. All I was saying is what the market says. Hitting is a more valuable commodity than defense.

    Just for clarification. I’ve:
    Never said that Heyward is the the cause of the Braves offensive woes @37.
    That Heyward is a bad player.
    That his play isn’t important to the team.
    @46 plenty of respect for his game, such as it is.

    But
    What I’ve said is that I am disappointed that he isn’t a power hitting impact bat in our lineup. That was my expectation and I am guessing that if one were to admit it, most folks here had the same hope. I would bet real money that the Braves were hoping for more impact on offense too.

    I will freely admit and have in past posts that I am guilty as charged of Andruw Jones Over Expectations disease when it comes to Heyward.

    Edward the race baiting was totally inappropriate.

  46. @Edward

    You are the person that brought race into the equation.

    My analysis @21 was strictly based on this years number. It might be different for another year, but this year leaves one to sway toward sitting several players on our team versus RH and LH pitching. There was no biased in the analysis as it went strictly by OPS this year.

    What is wrong with wanting to maximize offensive potential the first 6 innings of a game?

  47. 2014 is definitely an outlier power-wise for Heyward. I think, to be fair, one can maybe write this year off as a ‘getting back into the swing of things’ type of season – now that we’re about one year removed from him getting his face broken. There’s no way that didn’t have some type of impact…

  48. @56 – Thanks for that Dude. I think you are a smart guy. I respect your OPINION a lot. No need for that kind of shit here to prove your point.

  49. @57

    I agree with the outlier comment which is why I was just talking about the platoon as a this year thing. I will take Heyward’s defense any day of the week as long as he can at least get that OPS to around .600 against LH pitching which he has done every year but this year.

    I was jut proposing what may be best for the rest of the season. I in no way would like to relegate Heyward to a Platoon player over his career. He is to valuable for that.

  50. They won’t be platooning Heyward – would add an extra hurdle to signing him long term. Fredi does give him a day off every now and then against tough lefties. That’s about all we’ll see.

  51. mseancouch @6

    Two places that are an easy walk from the ball park across the Clemente bridge that I really like are “Christos” on 6th St. and “Meat and Potatoes” on Penn Ave. Christos is a Greek place with really authentic food and Meat and Potatoes is American cuisine with interesting menu options. Try the bone marrow appetizer or the mussels.

  52. Thanks, folks. We kayaked the rivers yesterday and crushed an amazing brunch at Meat & Potatoes. Great dinner and view at Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, and Jerome Jurenovich sat at a table next to us. We’ll walk across the Clemente Bridge tonight and do our best to extend the streak to four!

  53. via DOB:
    Heyward RF
    Simmons SS
    Freeman 1B
    JUpton LF
    Johnson 3B
    La Stella 2B
    Laird C
    Bonifacio CF
    Santana P

  54. Dare I hope?

    C’mon Emelio, get on base 3 times tonight! Give Fredi a reason. As if there aren’t enough reasons already.

    I wonder if last nights defensive lapse has anything to do with this? Fredi will say that BJ needs a rest. Just a one game thing.

    Offset by having Simmons bat second.

  55. @64

    Missed this year’s AAA numbers my first time around. I’m italics-blind.

    But, as you’ve pointed out here, the guys you want to platoon are Bupton and Johnson, not the star right fielder, the all-world-glove shortstop, and the rookie 2B.

  56. Fredi may say BJ needs a rest. Of course, the evidence of his actions suggests that Fredi believes in the value of regular rest and believes he has a number of interchangeable parts on his current roster that allows him to rest people on an ad hoc basis. And he wouldn’t be wrong in that regard.

  57. @69 I get not sitting him when he’s hot, but not giving Doumit a day out there when he’s cold confuses me

  58. @69 The beat writers all say Johnson would play at 1st if Freddie’s not in there, and that is what happened the few innings this year Freddie has been out.

  59. I really like the lineup tonight outside of Gattis being out of the lineup, but I figured that was the case. Also, I would have liked to have seen Gosselin at 3rd base for Johnson.

    For those who do not want to sit Heyward against lefties, I am fine with it as long as he bats 8th in the order and not first in those situations. Still, I think we should be straight up platooning Johnson against RH pitchers and B.J. against LH pitching since they do not provide the defensive value that Heyward gives us.

    Bottom line though, Heyward should at least take his .454 OPS against lefties to the bottom of the lineup. He should totally be our leadoff guy against righties though.

  60. Yeah, Chris Johnson is the backup 1B. I could see getting Freeman a breather and playing Gosselin or Boneface at 3B.

  61. @74

    I agree with getting him a breather. We should do it the next time we face a LH. Although he hits them okay, he is much better against RH, and I would hate to lose his bat in those situations.

  62. @74 and @75

    I am all for giving guys days off, but it should be strategic days off as in if it is against a particular split like RH or LH pitcher or a pitcher that a player has had a lot of trouble against. In essence, Gattis should never be out of the lineup when we are facing a LH pitcher just like several of our players when it comes to LH pitching. The same goes for players like Heyward and Freeman against RH pitchers.

    To be honest, I am looking a lot at these splits our players have ever since @ChopChop tossed up those lineups @21. We have a viable offensive lineup for both RH and LH pitching if we were willing to platoon certain guys. We could even do with having Heyward in against Lefties as long as we were willing to bat him 8th and make sure Bonifacio or Gosselin is playing somewhere. We have the flexibility to do that due to Heyward being able to play CF, too.

  63. I’m all for going the full platoon monty with this team. But as official BravesJournal contrarian, I will point out that Boneface’s crushing of LHP is unique to this year; his career splits aren’t nearly as impressive. And Phil Gosselin may be Less Hispanic Martin Prado, but he’s hardly a known quantity. You keep an eye on those guys to regress.

  64. How interesting that it takes John Kruk to produce this depth and quality assessment/disagreement on Heyward on these pages…

    he, Kruk, did exactly the same last year…trying to remember what it was then, not the top hand, something to do with a last second head movement just as the ball was released…krukked if i can remember for sure.

    Ultimately I don’t care how good a defensive outfielder/base runnner Jason Heyward is…it’s irrelevant whether or not in his present incarnation he deserves a place on our team, of course he does…it’s irrelevant that as a member of this team he is above average in his contributions…it’s irrelevant to the issue that really matters, the waste, the drastic fall off in his power, the singles hitter who can’t do anything with LHP also…..something is fundamentally wrong, he must be torn up about it…Chipper, please…

    @22.2
    ‘no less than’? surely ‘no more than’?

  65. Ryan Doumit is capable of standing at 1B, but not much more. Evan Gattis is as much a 1B as Doumit is.

    Regarding the videos, another thing I noticed looking at videos from the 12 and 14…

    In 2012, Jason stood with a slightly closed stance, and stood further from the plate. Now he plants his back foot closer to the plate, but has opened up.

    Here are two videos from 2012:

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v25219593/nymatl-heywards-double-to-the-gap-scores-bourn

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v25247149/atlpit-heyward-scores-bourn-with-a-single-to-
    center

    Here are two videos from 2014:

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v34717445/miaatl-heyward-crushes-clutch-tworun-double

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v34881133/sdatl-heyward-grounds-out-later-leaves-game

    I have no insight as to how that’s effecting him. Just noticed a pretty pronounced difference. My guess would be that, standing with an open stance, causing you to step toward the plate, will hinder you on top-handing (pulling) the ball, but will help you drive the ball to the opposite field.

    Also, I haven’t looked at any 2013 video, so I don’t know what he did there. I just started this because people were comparing his current season to 2012.

  66. I would at least like to see a platooned lineup position with Heyward at leadoff against RHP and 7th or 8th against LHP. Oh yeah, and any platoon that puts BJ on the bench against LHP and RHP.

  67. another perspective…

    if you found a lover four years ago who was a phenomenon in bed, showed great technique, endurance, excitement and then, quite suddenly that went away into a bland
    caricature of her former self…

    you do not go around saying ‘but her tomato soup is still to die for’…

    you did not sign her up for her tomato soup.

  68. @81 – That depends entirely on how much you like tomato soup.

    The difference between Sex vs. Tomato Soup and Offense vs. Defense, is that offense and defense are of exactly the same value.

    If she makes amazing tomato soup, but what you really like is her meatloaf, and she changed her meatloaf recipe… then what do you do?

    Let me also just say I’m completely uncomfortable with this metaphor.

    If Heyward hit like Andrelton Simmons, you’d say “He’d need to play that kind of defense at shortstop, or you can’t carry him.”

    But he doesn’t. He’s not keeping up with other RFer’s offensively. But he IS keeping up with the league. He’s got a 105 OPS+ this year and a 113 for his career.

    Jason Heyward’s hitting is about 14th on our list of problems.

  69. Also, to bring this analogy home we must acknowledge that the tomato soup is being incorporated into the bedroom activities inextricably. What do you think this is, the American League?

  70. Okay,

    Let’s all agree that Heyward belongs in the lineup everyday but should bat at the top of the order versus RH pitching and bottom of the order against LH pitching.

    Someone posted earlier about playing Heyward everyday will increase our chances of keeping him long term. I actually agree with that, and I think keeping him long term is a must. He might never hit above a .750 OPS against LH pitching, but I will take .600 OPS or above against LH pitching for the glove and heart he provides this team.

    The one spot that everybody on this board agrees on is CF. We have the tools to improve a position on a daily basis, and it is not being done.

  71. Yeah, Simmons really likes batting 2nd for some reason. Now, we get to hear @salty talk about how good of a 2-hole hitter Simmons is.

  72. Mr. Worley doesn’t have it tonight. Suits me just fine.

    88- A .673 OPS entering tonight, versus a .638 OPS overall, doesn’t impress me much.

  73. @87

    ‘for some reason’ has already been defined here as the discipline it imposes on him with good hitters following as opposed to the pitcher following 8…

  74. I’ve decided that I want Heyward to lead off and bat twice in the first inning for the rest of the year. Make it happen Fredi.

  75. How is Angel Hernandez still an umpire in this league? I’m a Braves fan and even think Morel got screwed on that call.

  76. The crap calls are working both ways. The two strikes to Bonifacio weren’t even close. Hernandez is criminally incompetent.

  77. Two things from this game so far.

    1. Heyward’s approach against a RH pitcher is completely different than that against LH pitchers. This really may be due to getting hit in the face last year. Perhaps him not being able to pick up the ball from a LH pitcher has him a bit uneasy.

    2. The swing for Simmons on his HR was big but controlled. He wasn’t falling over in the end of it. I really wish he could duplicate that sort of body control on each swing.

  78. Remember that last game we were way ahead early and then weren’t gonna win? Well, looks like this is gonna be another one of those.

  79. Wow, the Pirates’ defensive struggles this season is equivalent to the Braves’ offensive struggles. I guess it just proves the point that offense can be just as important as defense in the long run.

  80. @110 at least he swung at the first pitch to keep them from trying a double steal. Simmons is good like that… Ugh

  81. Why in the heck is Avilan coming in during critical situation? Seriously Fredi, have you not been watching him this season? He might do great here, but his numbers this season sure would not lead me to that conclusion.

  82. Great. Now for that stroke of luck, we’re stuck with Avilan in high-leverage situations for two weeks.

  83. 116: Yeah, very 2013 Avilan there. I’m not complaining, but time to pat him on the back and have him hit the showers.

  84. This is a legit question in which I would like an answer to if anyone has the answer. What is wrong with Chasen Shreve, Ian Thomas, or Ryan Buchter? They have got to be a better left handed pitching option than Avilan.

  85. Thomas is in Mississippi, so that can’t be good, and Buchter sucks. I don’t really have an answer for Shreve. He definitely would’ve been a better choice IMO.

  86. Oh good…Avilan is still out there. I’m sure this will be good.

    EDIT: I dare you, Chip! Make one more #@!#%@# pirate joke!

  87. You see, Ervin? This is how you induce warning-track fly balls from everybody. Take some pointers from Russell.

  88. Sometimes, Chris Johnson has one of the prettiest swings on our team. Other times, you just wish the guy wouldn’t swing at all.

  89. Well, good start to the road trip. A game back of the Giants now for the second wild card and we await the result from Washington.

  90. @136

    Well, the main thing was that he would not stop making horrendous pirate puns.

    Then, I believe that what Sam was referring to was when he was attempting to tell a story about how Neil Walker’s father was originally scheduled to be on Roberto Clemente’s plane to Nicaragua but wound up not going. However, he bumbled the telling of the story, started telling it without any context whatsoever, and just kind of left it hanging there without transitioning to whatever he started talking about next.

  91. I took the evening off from this place, and I come back to see that the Braves won and this thread is aces.

    Poor @46 just wanted to make a 99 Problems joke and accidentally offends everyone. (For the record, I thought “you should be worth 5.5, and you’re only 5.4” was great. Also, not sure if he’s still doing it but at one point JHey had “Public Service Announcement” as one of his walk-up songs.)

    Then @80-81 on about sex vs. tomato soup. Keep it up you guys, the team seems to have a bit of spark back, not a moment too late.

  92. @135 – they’re getting pretty lucky on this run. Lucky bounces, and lucky to be at home and have the last at bat advantage in “walkoff” situations. The best thing about this run is that they’re almost certainly peaking early, and will be far less in sync come playoff time.

    @139 – yes, that is exactly what I was talking about. He wanted to talk about how “fate” had put Neil Walker in a Pirates uni because his dad was almost on the plane with Roberto Clemente, but then he stepped on his own tongue and… Hell, I have no idea what he was saying there at the end.

  93. Back-to-back homers to start the game, quick conversation with Manny Sanguillen before enjoying his BBQ, washing it down with a Rivertowne IPA and a Firehouse Red from North Country, followed by no implosion from the pen? The sex vs. tomato soup discussion was icing on the whoopass cake. I hope we’re hitting our stride just in time, gents, and y’all should chip in to fund an east coast roadtrip for me and my bride to ensure our winning ways continue.

    Hopefully, we can all agree Heyward is solid but not what he was sold to be, BJ needs to continue riding the pine, and the Giants are in a worse position than we are (they picked up Uggla, for Christ’s sake!). We all need to band together, as learned from Guardians of the Galaxy, and ride the good vibes as long as we can. Amirite?

  94. Well said @144. I like the Guardians of the Galaxy analogy. Let’s ride our motley band all the way to the playoffs. Go Braves!

  95. @144&145
    There’s no doubt we need an “I am Gattis” meme. Anyone have the talent to pull that off?

    Just saw GoG Sunday and oh my stars! It was fantastic. If I had to pick between Snowpiercer and it for favorite movie of the year I could not.

    Anything else at the box office this year that tickled y’all’s fancy?

  96. The Braves face Liriano today and BJ has had relative success against him(.762 OPS in 19 PA), so expect B.J. in there today. However, I’d love to see Fredi get real creative and find a way to get Gosselin and Bonifacio in there as well, but that would take benching Heyward and La Stella. My guess is that we see Gattis and BJ back in the lineup and maybe Gosselin at 2nd. My preference would be to pick this day to give Heyward a rest and let Gosselin (RF), Bonifacio (CF), and La Stella (2B) start. Unfortunately, we won’t see that as it requires too much brain activity.

  97. Snowpiercer was great — my favorite this year along with Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Edge of Tomorrow was a pleasant surprise, even if it was a standard Tom Cruise flick masquerading as an ironic Tom Cruise flick.

  98. @140

    Thanks, WCG. I was hoping someone would notice!

    We need to get Heyward walking out to “Kingofdasouth” or “Cell Therapy” or “SpottieOttie” or something. I haven’t heard PSA in a while.

  99. @147

    “Chef” is a shallow and as sloppy as they come…but it’s really nice to watch anyway. Great Robert Downey scene in there.

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