Red Sox 11, IWOTB 4

In times past, that golden era of yesteryear, the word “streak” uttered in the same breath as the word “Braves” conjured up visions of division titles and new pennants gracing the outfield at Turner Field. Now, in this Brave(s) New World our fandom must embrace, “streak” deals not with what the team does, but with who the team is. This team is a streak—9 losses, 4 wins, 7 losses. A month into this season, the Braves’ true colors are obvious, and they are obviously ugly.

The nice thing about the current streak, unlike the first losing streak of the year, has been the old cliched “they’re in every game” line. If you’re going to lose 120 games (which the Braves may indeed do), it is a lot more entertaining to watch them lose a 1-0 pitchers’ duel or get the tying run on base in the 9th inning of a 2-3 game than have the score say the game is over by the 3rd inning. Braves baseball over the past week has, for the most part, been salvageable.

That was not the case tonight. Tonight was ugly from the opening gate until the painful finish. Matt Wisler gave up 4 runs in the top of the 1st to take all mystery out of the game, but managed to complete four more innings and only surrender one more run. The Braves chipped away with single runs in the 1st and 4th frames, but this offense was not built to get pitchers off the hook for losses.

Ryan Weber got the old take-one-for-the-team treatment when he was called on to finish out the last two innings of the game, a task he had to complete even though he surrendered 5 runs in the top of the 9th.

The Braves offense was nothing to write home about, but they did manage to put up 4 runs on the board, and Freddie‘s batting average is now above the Mendoza line. Neither of those things are great accomplishments, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and those are about the most positive things that can be pulled from this debacle.

Well, those, and the few seconds of defensive greatness Daniel Castro treated fans to in the 4th inning, when he channeled his inner Simmons and made Braves fans forget, for the briefest of moments, that the best defensive player in all of baseball no longer dons a jersey with a tomahawk across the chest. Andrelton Castro ran backwards, slid and caught the ball in his glove, immediately threw the ball out of his glove into the air, and recovered enough to catch it with his bare hand and secure the out. A throw back to 1st completed the double play and ended the inning. It was a catch of beauty, and, in the same way finding a $100 bill while you mucked out a stable would make the job almost worthwhile, Castro’s Simmons-esque moment made this game almost redeemable. Almost.

105 thoughts on “Red Sox 11, IWOTB 4”

  1. It’s going to be hard for it to get much worse, but I think this team is up to the task

  2. If we win 50 games, Braves State Media will start the “Wow, this team improved by a 20 game pace! All credit goes to Fredi!”

  3. Andrew McCutcheon hit as many home runs last night as our entire roster has all season.

    Is it too early to go into summer reruns for the Friday night recaps?

  4. Team slash lines are below Constanza’s career averages. I don’t think this team would be over .500 in AAA.

  5. I think I would move Freeman to the two hole with the hopes he could see more pitches to hit.

  6. The good news is, at this extremely early date, it looks like there will be a college catcher worth picking 1-1 in 2017.

  7. #10–Yes, I wonder how many teams have had the #3 pick in the draft, with the knowledge that they would have the #1 pick the next year…..

  8. I’m ready to fire Fredi. Not because this atrocious start is all his fault, but with the culture of losing on this team, I think a change in management is needed. I would push for Pendleton or someone from outside the organization with a high risk, high reward scenario. If things get slightly better (as noted, they can’t get worse), we tell him thank you and look for a new manager at the end of the year. If things get significantly better (right now that would be avoiding 100 losses), we have a decent manager going into next year.

  9. I’m convinced this is a calculated tank job designed to help foster excitement later in the summer and moving into next year. When Fredi is replaced mid-year they will also call up a handful of prospects (Albies and Swanson are locks to play a lot this year, imho).

    The new manager, whoever it may be, cannot possibly do worse, and will have a much better roster to play with. We’ll appear to be on the upswing, momentum building for the move to WFF, etc etc.

  10. To avoid 100 losses, this team would have to go 59-83, which would be a .416 clip–winning roughly 3 out of every 7 games. Unpossible.

  11. Im just surprised we have won 4 games. Inciarte might ask to stay on an extended leave in Gwinnett. The team is better down there.

  12. @13, I agree with you to a point. The Braves front office can say what they want, but I think the 2016 team was designed to fail. Just not this quickly and not this spectacularly.

    I think Fredi was meant to last the entire season, the better to hand off to a shiny new manager (my money’s on Chipper) in a shiny new stadium, but that situation is becoming untenable. There’s no way you anoint your favored candidate during a total collapse and not have that rub off on them. I also don’t think you name a Braves loyalist like TP or Eddie Perez as interim manager with the knowledge you’re going eventually demote them back to bench coach status for the favored candidate. So by my lights, the Braves are stuck with what to do about Fredi.

    It’s the bane of elitists to think they can precipitate and then manage a decline on the road to their perfectly designed outcome without reality coming in to check the proceedings.

  13. As fun as the conspiracy theories are, didn’t we all know we were playing 25 of our first 28 games against probable playoff teams? I know that this start is worse than expected, but we had an idea what we were walking in to.

    We’ve faced Scherzer twice, Strasburg twice, Jaime Garcia, Wainwright, Gio Gonzalez, Kershaw, Harvey, Matz, deGrom, Porcello and Price. Those are championship caliber guys who will be pitching in October.

    It’s a bad team, playing the toughest stretch of its schedule at the worst possible time to do so, and our best hitter has been terrible so far. It’s a perfect storm. Maybe they’ve underperformed even for those circumstances, but it’s hardly a conspiracy.

  14. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a plan being executed in plain sight. You don’t sign Francouer, KJ, Beckham, etc because you are trying to win baseball games.

  15. @19

    That’s really what’s exacerbated the lack of talent. Talking about strength of schedule in professional sports is a loser’s argument, but since this team is clearly rebuilding, it’s important to note just how tough the schedule is. We’re not seeing the 5th starter of sub-.500 teams. We’re getting some of the best pitchers in baseball at the beginning of the season.

  16. “It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a plan…” – krussell.

    That should be the Bravesjournal headline.

  17. In krussell’s defense, the word “conspiracy” has at least connotations, if not explicit requirements, of stealth and secrecy. It can’t be a conspiracy if everything is on the table. We’re trying to suck. There may be some cheeky PR statements that say the opposite, but c’mon…

  18. I mean, your alternative here is to accept the fact that our front office really thought this team would win half their games. I don’t want to live in that reality, since it pretty much means they are all massive idiots.

  19. @23, Maybe not. I guess a good question would be who do you envision the Braves have on a shortlist for the (permanent) manager after Fredi?

  20. I do think the front office figured that players like Beckham and Francouer would fetch prospects at the deadline. That seems pretty stupid.

  21. @27

    No, they were part of a “spaghetti against the wall” approach to the 23-25th spots. It was only when Bourn was proven to be toast and Bonifacio was ineffective that Francoeur made sense. Grilli and Norris were here to fetch prospects, methinks.

  22. I’ll take idiocy over conspiracy. I think they looked at the results before the sell-off last year and reasoned that it isn’t too hard to put together a mediocre team with spare parts and a few prospects. I assume they also counted on a number of other teams–Phillies, Reds, Brewers, Rockies–performing more poorly than the Braves as well. So far they’ve been wrong on both counts. I don’t see that changing either. At least this means that the Braves have a chance to make their last season at Turner Field truly historic, just like they promised.

  23. Well, c’mon. Go back and read the predictions. The group predicted a 70 win average. The lowest was 54 wins. NO ONE would predict that Aybar would have an OPS+ of 1. This is… unpredictable.

  24. @26

    With this group, who knows?

    By Black would be my first call. I would also reach out to Buck Showalter, as he is great at rebuilds (I don’t think he would even listen.)

    I am sure TP and Eddie Perez would get interviews. Bob Melvin and Ned Yost would probably be willing to listen.

  25. “We will not allow another year like this to occur. We made a vow internally that that is not going to happen.”

    John Schuerholz, 9/21/15

  26. Lots of good stuff thrown around here lately – – unlike down at The Ted.

    I’m taking in two games in May – -not sure if I’m bragging or asking for condolences.

  27. I went last Saturday. I’ve done my time. They are just as bad in person as they look on tv.

  28. I agree–I don’t think the brass really got together and said “let’s get that #1 pick!” I do think they made the most minimal effort to field a team with the intention of saving cash, being bad and drafting high.

  29. Not sure why Fredi has this fascination with playing KJ at 2nd. He wasn’t even that great of a second baseman 9 years ago.

  30. KJ at 2nd is better than Castro at third. I mean–he can field the position, but an all glove SS at the corner?

  31. No M Smith in center? Stubbs ha no range and this is a big CF. guess he wants veteran presents. No sense playing a rookie in a rebuilding year.

  32. I’m pretty Bud Norris’ed out. I just wish he could, ya know, not be completely awful for a few months to give Folty more time to work on his control.

  33. The only qualifications to be a Braves pitcher appear to be a body temperature between 97.0 and 99.9 and the ability to throw the baseball straight.

    Norris is trash. I’d rather see pretty much anyone else at this point.

  34. I thought bud Norris was our best pickup of the offseason, ahead of Jim Johnson and Jhoulys Chacin. Looks like Chacin is the best of the bunch.

  35. I count 5 pitchers in the organization that may out-perform Bud Norris and are not currently in the rotation.

  36. Bud Norris has an 8.74 ERA. Who could be worse? Not Gant, Jenkins, Folty, Perez or Weber. Not Ellis, Newcomb, or Sims. Ok maybe Jason Hursch could be worse. That’s it for our top 2 levels of the minors.

  37. The slash line against Norris is .334/.402/.574. He has a 1.99 WHIP.

    That’s enough.

  38. Well, Weber has actually been worse, so there’s that. But the point is the same: a 8.74 ERA is pretty easy to beat.

    Forever the optimist, I’m actually thinking that a lineup with Inciarte in CF, Garcia in LF, Beckham at 3B, Castro at SS, and Peterson/KJ/Whomever at 2B gives a better chance to score and prevent scoring than what we’ve got right now.

  39. Chip with the line of the year!
    “That’s the third double for Ortiz, at this rate I may join him.”

  40. Straight from the Carey Vault.

    Skip (circa late 70’s through late 80’s): “And the bases are loaded and I wish I was too.”

  41. Is this a Braves game, or a documentary on Fenway Park?

    The Braves’ broadcast won’t shut up about the Green Monster.

  42. So when Norris pitches against the average team, it’s like a lineup of 9 Miguel Cabreras against a normal pitcher? That’s what that collective slash line looks like.

  43. This here is what the 70’s and most of the 80’s were like. Except those teams were slightly better, and we had good announcers.

  44. I think it’s a fairly safe bet to say that the Bud Norris experiment ended tonight. Let the Folty era begin.

  45. @37

    “We are above $100 million and not up to $120 million, so somewhere in that range is where we operate and we will operate again next year.” — John Schuerholz, 9/21/15

    The current 2016 payroll, per $88,004,180

    Liberty and its lickspittles lie. This organization, under its current ownership, does not deserve support.

  46. Max Fried for Rome tonight: 2 ip , 0 runs, 0k, 2 bb. Out of the game after pitching to one batter in 3rd inning….

  47. Ok… Apologies! I was looking at the box score of a suspended game–not an injury.
    Back to dreaming that all will one day be well….

  48. Good morning from Vienna. Thanks guys, once again, reading the comments really makes my day. You guys are funny is what you are. Go Braves.

  49. That pretty much sums Fredi’s skills up quite well (from DOB at AJC). Maybe a job at Publix would be a wise career choice:

    “You keep grinding,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I feel like the guy serving at the Publix deli and you’ve got to take a number. You bring guys in (the office) and you talk to them individually and pump them up and you coach then all up and do that stuff. We will continue doing that. We’ve got to do that and get out of this funk that we are in.”

  50. What if the whole problem with our braves is they’re just waiting to be pumped up, individually, by Fredi? He should tell us whose number is up on a given day so we can start them in fantasy.

  51. Maybe the players are sandwiches in Fredi’s mind?

    Pierzynski – Vinegar and mustard on stale white bread crust.
    Francouer – Sliders sitting on the floor, next to a plate
    Bud Norris – Meatball sub, obvs.
    Aybar – Rancid ham on loaf bread eaten through by worms (you could make the argument that you’re better off with this sandwich than what you had for lunch yesterday)

  52. @ 90 – obviously a bad look, but it’s not like the Braves are breaking new ground on public financing of stadiums (pun intended).

  53. I feel like the guy frequenting the Publix deli who doesn’t understand why the guy working at the deli hasn’t done much other than ask people to take a number for going on 6 years.

    Also the buns tend to get soggy in the September humidity and collapse.

  54. @AAR, as much as I love the gates of hell, I think it’s worth considering “It’s the Publix deli and you’ve got to take a number” for the banner

  55. I really resent Fredi even mentioning Publix. Don’t get your Fredi stink on my Publix, please.

  56. The metaphor falls apart when you realize that taking a number and waiting in line at a Publix deli pretty much guarantees a delicious sub sandwich for your trouble.

  57. Here’s your BravesJournal tagline for the next 10 years.

    “Keep in mind,” he said, “the Braves now are a fairly major real estate business as opposed to just a baseball club.”

  58. It’s a good metaphor in some ways. Think of all the random people that go through the Publix Deli every summer. That’s close to the same number of people we allow to pitch relief innings.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been coached up by the person behind the counter at the deli though. But it could be that I’m just not coachable.

  59. I would love to hear how the front office is planning on taking this pile of trash and being even semi-competitive next year. I didn’t believe it at first, and things could work out OK, but this has the potential to be krussell’s 10-year disaster if they don’t. They’d better draft well and have the vast majority of these prospects come up golden….otherwise, they’re screwed. I might feel better about it if I didn’t have the sneaking suspicion that all they care about right now (and this includes the Braves front office, not just Liberty Media) is the new stadium/surrounding mixed-use development.

    Also, they’re about to have no choice but to fire Fredi…and I don’t mean midseason. If this keeps up, you have to fire him just so you can be seen as doing something. Which, of course, they’re not. Not really. But you can’t just sit there without making a move, especially when you were going to let him go at some point this season, anyway.

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