Red Dusk: Red Sox 1, Braves 0

[I altered the title. Obviously, the Braves were not as triumphant as the Wolverines, so the setting sun subs in for the rising sun in our movie adaptation.]

In the predawn hours of April 25, 2016, the Red (Sox) Menace dropped into the ATL by air. The “adult resistance” (seasoned, proven, actually good, players) was unavailable or unable or unwilling to resist. So, the teenagers, and a few worn out old folks, led by a 20 something, began the resistance.

20 something Julio Teheran appeared in the role of Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze, get it). He led the resistance in his occasionally appropriate superhero name of “Good Julio.” It had been a long time since we had seen Good Julio and his appearance was a cinematic miracle. Good Julio struck out 8, walked 2, and allowed only 1 run over 7 innings. Major League stats say you ought to win with that kind of start about 80% of the time. BUT, they don’t know this rag tag bunch of Wolverines.

Meanwhile Colonel Ernesto Bella (Rick Porcello) effectively suppressed the uprising. But when hunting rifles and improvised bombs are going against tanks and attack helicopters, the odds are a little daunting. So an effective sniper shot here (single) and an infiltration there (walk) and that was about all that the home side could muster. Never could they put a series of coordinated attacks together to get one of those strange things recently discovered by seat painter, the “run.”

So, in inning 7, Jackie Bradley, Jr. launches one. And that ONE was the only ONE and the only ONE the Red Menace needed. Good Julio was allowed to fight on by Fredi (how do you “pull” Patrick Swayze?) and despite loading the bases, he got out of the inning. The bullpen held on.

Fredi Freeman had 2 hits and a walk, so MAYBE he MIGHT come out of it. He also should have been safe at 2nd in the 7th (2 outs, 1st and 3rd instead of 1 out bases loaded). He also was hit by a pitch in the 9th, but the “no call” was not overturned. Are the replay guys in New York blind? What good is replay if the official can’t actually see. Or, maybe that was part of the conspiracy behind the Red Menace.

73 thoughts on “Red Dusk: Red Sox 1, Braves 0”

  1. Thanks, Cliff. Great review. Good Julio plus zero offense didn’t win; but boy, did we ever compete! We were competitive.

  2. Great recap, Cliff. I sure I am glad I had something to do last night.

    Mudge is having a nice little April out in California.

  3. Out of the 436 NL position players that have played this season, the Braves have some *strong* representation at the bottom of the bWAR charts:

    423. Jace Peterson
    424. Freddie Freeman
    429. AJP
    436. Erick Aybar

  4. @2 Melvin has had a fascinating last few years – he had a 108 wRC+ in his last year with the Rays in 2012 (basically, he was 8% better than the league average on offense, adjusting for league and home park). With the Braves, his wRC+ was 56 and 75. Once we traded him to San Diego, he went right back to a wRC+ of 110 and 107 in 2015 and 2016 to date.

    I don’t know if you can chalk it up to a mental block, terrible coaching, or some combination of both, but the Braves managed to get two miserable seasons (as in net negative WAR) from a player who has otherwise been somewhere between a solid regular and a borderline All-Star.

    Question – when was the last time the Braves acquired an established position player through FA or trade and that player went on to reach a new, higher level of production with the team? I’m thinking Terry Pendleton (1991 – 1992) fits the bill, as does JD Drew (2004) but that’s about it.

  5. No Braves Content.

    A fun day at the old ballpark – take it for granted? 26 years ago, in a working class town in Northern England, 96 fans were crushed to death attending a big afternoon game. Please note – this account is lengthy,unpleasant and infuriating in its accounting of what actually happened. It has taken this long for the truth to be admitted.

    http://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/apr/26/hillsborough-disaster-deadly-mistakes-and-lies-that-lasted-decades

  6. Also here’s some trivia for you: Andres Galarraga has more career steals (128) than Mike Trout (114). Big Cat was spry!

  7. game blauser at 6

    Try Andres Gallaraga. The “new” level of production was continuing the same production below Coors Field (unexpected by many).

    Also, A. J. Pierzinski last year almost had his best offensive year at age 37 or so.

    Eli Marrerro in the same deal with Drew.

    But no, the record on position player acquisitions for the Braves FO is not good.

    Also, on Melvin. Last year he did get PA’s significantly weighted to seeing lefthanders. But it is almost unbelievable that he was that bad with us based on the “before” and even more so based on the “after.” Imagine how differently 2013 and 2014 would have been if he had been 100 RC+. And then, if we decided to trade Kimbrel, we wouldn’t have used half of his value to get rid of Melvin.

  8. Freeman has never been anything more than a good player, has never been great and has just looked good as compared to the rest of his Punch and Judy Braves teammates. I would trade him at the deadline I got a good offer.

  9. @8, Ahh…you did. Missed that.

    Please tell me Lonnie Smith’s 1989 season which was 2.7 WAR higher than his 1982 season where he finished 2nd in MVP balloting counts!

  10. @10 I looked at Andres Galarraga but it doesn’t fit – his wRC+ with the Braves (156 and 124) were right in line with a number of other years in his career (keep in mind, wRC+ adjusts for context like home field). I understand that there was plenty of doubt as to whether Big Cat would keep up his production moving out of Coors Field, but the end result was offensive production not out of line with his career norms. That said, he was a great get for the Braves.

    AJP – nope, he was as good or better in 2003 and 2012 than 2015, though I’ll grant he was surprisingly good with the bat last year.

    Marrero – he actually did hit better in his one Braves season than otherwise, but it was a limited number of ABs buoyed by a flukish BABIP.

    @13 Lonnie Smith in ’89 definitely counts!

  11. @7

    The 30 for 30 on Hillsborugh is fantasitc, highly recommended to all. Great to see the news today.

  12. There’s always a lot of discussion around whether or not to rush the prospects to the majors, and concerns about service time…I’ve been wondering how many recent-history Braves prospects have ever actually stayed with the team for the full 6 years? Freeman and Teheran. Anyone else? I’m not sure why anyone would obsess about service time and super 2 stuff.

  13. @6, Going through the 2000-2016 Braves rosters on B-ref:

    –Eli Marerro and JD Drew have been named; they do indeed experience a spike upon playing with Atlanta.

    –David Ross had a pretty good season to his name with Cincy a couple years before he was a Braves, but he slightly outdid his production in 2/3 of the amount of playing time his first year with Atlanta and continued to be a really steady performer thereafter. I think he counts.

    –None of Gary Sheffield, Edgar Renteria, or Michael Bourn quite found a new gear with the Braves, but they basically matched their previous career bests. That’s a win for the Braves when you think about how good those previous bests were.

    –Michael Tucker had a big bump of a year after coming over from KC, but that appears to be more from playing time and flimsy pre-modern defensive numbers than anything else. Still, it was a good year for him.

    –Walt Weiss, upon coming to Atlanta, reached way back and found a level of play he thought he’d lost 7 years before. Not bad, Walt.

    Don’t know how this record compares to those of other teams…might be a fun project to work on.

  14. Trading a bust for Edgar Renteria, getting 2 of his strongest seasons out of him while the Red Sox paid part of his salary, and then flipping him on the last season of his contract (when he was spent anyway) for Jair Jurrjens was one of the better moves the Braves have made in the last decade.

  15. @18 I forgot about David Ross! While he played for us he was likely the best backup catcher in baseball. He certainly falls into the category of Braves FA position player successes.

    @19 While we didn’t get Renteria’s absolute best offensive seasons, he was a very valuable contributor to team success. Moreover, the Braves bought low and sold high on Renteria, and guessed right on the talent we sent to acquire him and the talent we got back. That trade sequence is totally full of win.

    My larger point in asking this question – if it’s not obvious – is to get a feel as to whether my gut level perception that the Braves have, by and large, been subpar at position player acquisitions (particularly on offense) is correct.

  16. Remember when we signed Raul Mondesi and Todd Hollandsworth and brought back Brian Jordan? Those were some good outfielders.

  17. –Aybar has a .157 OBP through 18 games and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution suggests Aybar has been “arguably the worst position player in all of baseball this season.”

    http://espn.go.com/blog/mlb/rumors/post/_/id/24069/mlb-rumor-central-no-trade-value-for-erick-aybar

    Remember when we were *arguably* better with Aybar? Now he’s arguably the worst player in baseball. Funny how many of the arguable worst players in baseball over the last 3 seasons have been on the Braves roster.

  18. @6

    That one is easy. Crime Dog was awesome!

    Of the ones not mentioned, I’ll also add Justin Upton was good.

  19. Charles Thomas had a great several months, and then was out of baseball 2 years later.

    I know I’m Polyanna, but Braves Journal collectively predicted 70 wins, so I’m not alone in not expecting this. 13 of 15 position players are performing below expectations. That’s your manager, all day. I still can’t get over not changing that play last night. That would have potentially changed the game, and he chose not to even give it a try. Living here in St. Pete, some (stupid) local fans even hated Joe Maddon, saying his shifts and constantly lineup tinkering were bad ideas. But those are completely debatable, and often times dependent on data we don’t possess. An appeal is one of the few things the fan at home can have enough data to make a decision on, and it seemed unanimous that it should have at least been appealed. And back to my opinion, I still think he should have flipped over Freeman not getting first on that HBP. C’mon, show some freaking life. Bobby was so good at knowing when to get tossed. Fredi is a limp noodle that’s on autopilot until he gets paid to not work.

  20. @23 Smitty – McGriff was great for the Braves, but he was equally great (actually better) in his earlier days with the Jays and Padres. Same deal with JUp – he was good as a Brave but production wise it wasn’t an improvement over his DBacks years.

    @17 KRussell “not sure why anyone would obsess about service time and super 2 stuff” – well, here’s a hypothetical: what about if the Braves called up Albies and Swanson tomorrow? Neither are really ready for MLB yet, but let’s say they manage a 1-2 WAR total for the season between them. OK, fine. On the other hand, if you don’t call up one until next May and the other until next July, you’ll have an extra year or two of team control smack in the middle of their primes. Even if the team “can’t afford to sign both guys” (see eg, JHey and JUp), the team control has trade value.

    Frankly, there’s not any point in worrying about service time for mediocre prospects (Jace Peterson) but when you’re talking about a guy who could definitely turn into a $20M+ a year player, it behooves the team to think strategically about how to keep that player around for as long as possible at the best possible price.

  21. @24, That’s true about Charles Thomas, and I had looked at his career numbers. That’s when I discovered his good year with the Braves was a rookie season, hence not within the paramaters of the question.

    It definitely made me wonder: What the hell happened to that guy?

    Anybody know?

  22. @25, fair enough, but I don’t think Albies and Swanson are likely to be so good that we’re priced out of keeping them. If it turns out that one or both actually are that good, then we’ll want to extend them anyways. At some point the Coppolella fantasy baseball trading simulation games stops and we move on to the point where we are trying to assemble a whole team full of good players rather than only having one or two. Worrying constantly about everyone’s trade value is a somewhat bizarre way to approach things, imo at least.

    I think the best path to signing these guys to extensions is to promote them early and make them feel like they are the key foundational pieces of the franchise.

  23. @27 “I think the best path to signing these guys to extensions is to promote them early and make them feel like they are the key foundational pieces of the franchise.”

    I dunno, that approach burned us with JHey. :- (

  24. If Albies + Swanson put up a combined WAR higher than that of JHey while he was a Brave, I’ll be shocked. Happy, but shocked.

  25. @29, As far as we know, we offered Heyward a similar extension to Freeman’s. He just preferred to take a risk at injury for a bigger payday. It worked out handsomely for him.

    speaking of which, WTH is going on–Heyward is hitting .260 in late April

  26. @30 JHey put up 20 fWAR in five seasons with the Braves. There are many scenarios where Albies + Swanson LLP does not hit that mark within their 6 respective years of team control (particularly if Albies’ lack of power relegates him to utility/backup) but seems eminently possible that they combine for 4-6+ WAR for a number of seasons.

  27. In the grand scheme of things, the extra year of control over Heyward didn’t matter one bit. We’d have had him last year on a very bad team, right? Agonizing over things that are 6 or 7 years out is kinda silly.

  28. @32, Heyward had very bad March/April numbers in 2013, 2014, 2015–and until this past weekend’s series, 2016.

    He was good in 2010 and 2011 in those months, and plenty good enough in 2012. His numbers this year are in-between the good and bad years–the extra base hits are not there so far. Like really, really not there, not just normal Heyward not there. As usual, his defense and baserunning are good enough to make up for a slow start–although his current line is significantly worse than the Cubs expect from him over the course of a season.

  29. His BA/OBP this year is .260/.365, right in line with his .267/.353 career marks. The problem is that he hasn’t hit a homer yet and only has four doubles, so his ISO is an anemic .055. I hope they can figure out how to get his power back. His rookie year ISO was .179, and that’s second-highest mark of his career.

  30. Sorry, I didn’t mean to revert back to Heyward-Journal. These are dark times and old habits die hard.

  31. @27

    Completely agreed. There comes a point in the rebuild process where you stop looking at the potential core players as assets and start committing to them as Atlanta Braves players.

    I don’t think you have to be so analytical with the future value of the player when you’re sitting on a 50 or less win team. You need to recognize that you’ve blown it up too far and start moving the needle in the other direction.

    @26

    He’s no longer good at baseball.

    @Not for nothing

    I listened to the beginning of the Fox Sports Braves podcast. They had the Mississippi announcer on. A few points:

    -Newcomb has great stuff, but can’t throw strikes. Nothing new there.

    -Brandon Barker has really impressed and really might be a sleeper. Obviously his name is similar, but this reminds me of Brandon Beachy, who had good velocity, but threw strikes and came on late and fast as a prospect.

    -Lucas Sims, in his opinion, seems to be the closest to major league ready.

    -Ozzie Albies is really, really good. I wonder if he’s older than he seems to be.

  32. @24

    I totally agree.

    @25

    When McGriff game over he was a monster the last few months and won us the west.

  33. Albies 3-5 with a homer today. Don’t want none of that on the big club. Nope. Aybar is just really due.

  34. Kyle Wren is hitting .146. That’s all I need to label this whole thing a success.

    Barker also put in a 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K afternoon.

  35. Dustin Peterson is spanking the ball around the yard a bit as well. That’s a homer and a double for him today and 8 XBH on the young season. He may not be much, but he’d probably be our best left fielder right now.

  36. Amazing we could trade the Padres Kimbrel and Upton and still couldn’t pry away Hunter Renfroe…

    He’s mashing in AAA.

  37. @46, It doesn’t look great for the big leaguers tonight, but at least AAR insured we get a win on the day. Hats off, Alex.

  38. @47, Why trade for a Hunter Renfroe when you can divest yourself of BJ Upton and walk away with all that sweet, sweet green.

  39. @50, especially when you parlay that sweet green into paying Swisher/Bourn/Olivera to not play. The Braves need about a $20M rainy day fund at all times support their addiction to non-functional players.

  40. John R.

    I don’t think I’ve ever followed the minors as closely as I have this year. I find myself checking all the box scores immediately after the fatal blow has been delivered in the big club’s game(basically any time an opponent scores). Seeing Ruiz, Albies, D, Peterson, Swanson and Acuna rack up productive offensive performances night after night can certainly help mitigate the misery of watching the big team’s offensive futility. Anyway, this page has all of our affiliates listed neatly together on the right.

    http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/mlb/news/prospects/index.jsp?c_id=atl

    As far as just looking at the cumulative stats, I think this chart is pretty sweet.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/affiliate.cgi?id=ATL

  41. Tonight the worst 20-game start in Atlanta history is on the line. Might as well try to break some records.

  42. I think we get more coverage from national outlets such as fangraphs by being this bad, that’s a nice perk. I don’t remember so much attention paid to this club in 2013 when we were starting out the season on fire.

  43. @65
    I can’t recall either, but I know I saw at least some of it because I was the centerfielder.

  44. We are 25th in MLB in ERA, 26th in batting average, but we have, by far, the worst record in baseball. The next best team in HRs has 4 times as many HRs as we do. We collect 85% of the hits that our counterparts do, and yet we have a .211 winning percentage. This is the one thing that gives Fredi a pass in my opinion, as this roster was designed with no thought to who could hit the ball far. Even if Inciarte or Olivera were to return, there’s no helping this bunch hit the ball hard.

  45. Fredi is terrible but Casey Stengel, Cornelius McGillicuddy and Bobby Cox couldn’t lead this goat to water.

  46. #69 – worst part about all of this is the FO told us how much better we would be this year compared to what we saw in the 2nd half last year

    Fredi deserves a pass for this season but his Sept collapses from a few years ago should have cost him his job. I would like to see if anything improves under Eddie Perez or Terri P. Outside of those 2, everyone can go

  47. I’m almost getting to the point where I hope we go 4-158. I mean, if we’re gonna suck, let’s at least HISTORICALLY suck.

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