Braves 5, Pirates 2

These Pirates just are not good. They’ve been a Wild Card team for each of the past three years and averaged 93 wins a year from 2013-2015, a decisive break from their twenty consecutive losing seasons.

But right now they’re 53-53 and the face of the franchise, Andrew McCutchen, has been so lost all year that they benched him for the entire Braves series. I don’t mind kicking a team while they’re down, but the Braves winning the series probably says more about them than it does about us.

Still, the Braves are 6-4 in their last ten games, and the offense has played a big part. Here’s how these guys did tonight (and their triple slash over their last 10 games):

Jace Peterson: Batted leadoff and went 0-3 with a walk. (.303/.439/.364)
Erick Aybar: Batted second and went 1-4 with an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored. (.455/.500/.545)
Adonis Garcia: Batted sixth and went 1-3 with an RBI double, a walk, and a run scored. (.366/.409/.561)
Ender Inciarte: Batted seventh and went 2-4 with two runs scored. (.400/.415/.425)

So, that’s pretty good. Of course, it’s basically regression to the mean from four guys who were pretty atrocious for much of the year, and whether or not it’s a dead cat bounce — it’s very possible that they still essentially suck, they’ve just had a good couple weeks — it’s been nice to see.

Tyrell Jenkins did another one of his tightrope walks. He has made five starts, and he has still never struck out more men than he walked. It’s great that he went six innings and gave up just three hits. But this is not a recipe for success. He’s certainly earned himself another start, but he’d better start throwing more strikes.

Bring on the Cards!

107 thoughts on “Braves 5, Pirates 2”

  1. So Adonis is cheap but the mouthpieces still say he’s not part of the long term plans. It appears his defense has improved and we don’t have an in house replacement.

    Is he a brave in 2017?

  2. @7 – I don’t think so. His offense is passable as a third baseman, but I don’t see him being a star. We need true 4th and 5th place hitters. Kemp will work as a cleanup guy, but Adonis doesn’t have the power to bat 5th. With 3 of the quartet of Inciarte, Markakis, Kemp, and Smith in the outfield and 3/4 of the infield set with Freeman, Albies (or Peterson if he’s not ready), and Swanson, the only place to get a 5 spot hitter is catcher or 3rd. I think it will be much easier to get a #5 hitter at 3rd than at catcher.

  3. @7 I don’t know why he wouldn’t be. All the guy’s ever done is hit decently, not cause any trouble, provide a minor amount of power and seemingly love being a Brave. Now on a good team he’d be a bench player but still…

  4. Adonis may not be a starter in 2017 but I think he’ll still be on the team. Very affordable as a bench bat. Is he even arb-eligible yet?

  5. @7

    I like him. I though we could have gotten something for him at the deadline. He would be a great bat to bring off the bench.

    I really admire the way he has worked on his defense. He has improved a ton. I think there is room for a guy like him on any team. I believe he will be here next year.

  6. I think you guys are going to be disappointed with our offseason acquisitions. I just don’t see us trading for a big time 3B. Garcia and Ruiz will do fine in the short term.

  7. If Albies is ready, would a platoon between Garcia and Peterson at 3rd be that horrible? Both show good platoon type numbers as Garcia rips lefties and Peterson rips righties. Plus, whichever is not starting, it gives us a viable bench bat. Peterson can play a multitude of positions and Garcia can handle LF if needed. Between the two, we might get a nice slash line overall at 3rd for cheap until there is actually something worth going after on the Market. This all is based on if Albies is ready. Those two just seem like the type of players that could handle that situation well, and they seem like good players to hold onto for the future as they would make great guys to have when needed in case of team injuries and pinch hitting.

  8. @13 Yep – with Ruiz likely ready for MLB action by mid-2017, the Braves will probably roll with Garcia/Peterson/Ruiz for 2017 and figure things out from there. If things break right, Ruiz may be able to hold down 3B until Riley and/or Maitan hit the scene (ETA 2019 and 2020 respectively).

  9. @13

    I’m going to be disappointed if we don’t spend money, and there’s only so many places to spend money. You got 2 CFs, already big money committed to RF, LF, and 1B, a SS, a 2B, several bench players, at least one catcher, about 9 starting pitching candidates, and about 8 bullpen candidates. If you don’t spend money on a 3B, then we will have far and away the lowest payroll in the league, unless Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn have some contract language we don’t know about. I mean, if you want to throw $20M at the starting pitching, then be my guest, but I doubt they do that. Once you do the math on how little money is committed to the ML roster, you can’t compete in the international market, and there’s only so much you can spend on the draft, then… hot dogs? I can see getting a legitimate middle infielder as an insurance policy for one of Swanson/Albies and dealing that person at the deadline, but we’re talking like $40M that needs to be spent just to be in the bottom-5 of the league.

  10. Still a douche.

    On Adonis, I think he’ll continue to get better. His bad start aside, he’s been okay at bat and in the field.

    Re Albies, I do not understand why folks are higher on Dansby than Ozzie. I like them both just fine, mind you; but statistically speaking, folks seem to be confusing their age and production to date. That said, there’s no need to push either to the bigs until they knock the door down.

  11. The Yanks are really changing their identity. Who would have thought a bunch of huge contracts to old players was a bad idea?

  12. I would love to see Prado or Justin Turner as a 3B pickup this off season. Then Adonis can be a valuable bench guy. Would also bet they spend some on C, SP, and RP.

  13. According to the Braves’ beat writers on Twitter, Prado and Wilson Ramos seem to be two of their very top targets this offseason. And when they get priced out of the Ramos market, it seems like they’d go after Wieters.

    Gonna be interesting to see what they do in the draft next year. Losing their 2nd- and 3rd-round picks due to FA signings — Ramos will certainly get a QO, and I assume those other two will, too — would make the importance of having the top overall pick (and all that extra slot money) even greater, IMO.

  14. Justin Turner was a deal for the Dodgers, especially coming off the year he had last year. We would be so fortunate to be able to lock somebody down like that.

    Garcia is a great bench bat. Emergency outfielder, playing a good 3B now, and has proved he can hit enough to justify a roster spot (even on a contender). This year, Adonis’ HR/AB is significantly higher against righties than lefties, though. Peterson has an .800 OPS against righties, so he should factor into the Braves plans considering they currently have a righty at 3B and LF. Kemp has crushed lefties this year (1.036 in less than 100 ABs), so you could piece this together pretty nicely.

  15. From what Ruiz has shown so far, I see nothing that says he will be better than Garcia in the next few years. A .266 BA, 6 HRs and a .720 OPS in 357 AAA ABs is much worse IMO than a .271 BA, 8 HRs and a .711 OPS in 307 ML ABs.

    Ruiz may turn a corner and live up to his potential, but I don’t see how anyone would prefer him over Garcia to start the season next year unless he figures it out quickly. I still think they look for an external solution at 3B.

  16. I think Ruiz is only being talked about because there’s a need at the position. He’s not a major leaguer. However, he’s only 22, and he may need another year at AAA.

    Sadly, one could make the same case for talking about Swanson right now.

  17. If we are determined to empty the bank vault, spend the bucks and prospects if necessary on a young, powerful, controllable corner outfield bat. Send Kemp and Markakis packing for what you can get, though Nick has been very good of late. Play Mallex in center, Ender in right and play ball.

  18. Reasons why Dansby is Over-Hyped vs. Albies:

    1) Age. Dansby is older, therefore, “more ready for the big leagues”.
    2) Draft status. Dansby was a #1 pick.
    3) Changing teams. Dansby has been in the news for being the centerpiece of a deal (and a one-sided one, in theory).
    4) He’s local.
    5) He now plays for a team desperate for the “face” of the franchise.
    (Getting political here)
    6) He’s white and he speaks good English.
    7) He went to Vandy.
    8) He has amazing hair.

  19. I think Swanson and Albies start 2017 in Atlanta primarily from a fill the seats perspective. Prado is having a good season, but I don’t think he’s necessarily a huge upgrade offensively over Adonis. Defense is a different story.

    I think we make a run at Prado and Bmac this offseason. (ticket sales)

  20. Ruiz batted .233 with 5 HRs and a .657 OPS in AA last year, so he has definitely improved, but he’s still not there yet. Swanson has shown signs of greatness in AA, but is only batting .261 with a .749 OPS. I have hopes that he won’t stumble and fall in AAA and the majors, but nothing but his high prospect ratings tell me he won’t – at least for a little while.

    The thing Swanson has going for him is that he plays SS. I can put up with a sub .700 OPS guy (assuming it takes him a while to figure things out) at short much easier than at 3rd. This is especially the case when Garcia is still cheap and is already OPSing above .700.

  21. Apropos of nothing, Yunel and Prado are the exact same hitter now.

    Quick quiz: Excluding DH, name the top two position players in terms of length of incumbency at a single position on their current teams. I’m saying Ryan Howard is no longer an incumbent for the purpose of this question.

  22. @31 – Swanson does have great hair – I think this is an important aspect of baseball, so I don’t understand why you would call this a reason for being overhyped. :-)

    Albies is younger, has not hit for as much power and his OPS is highly dependant on batting average. A .332 average is great, but it didn’t translate to AAA and I don’t think it will translate to the majors quickly. That, combined with Albies being 19 and Swanson being 22 is a pretty good indication of why Swanson is favored over Albies right now. Albies may overtake Swanson as a prospect at some point, but he will have to start hitting for more power or prove that he can sustain a BA over .300.

  23. Do my eyes deceive me? Is not Albies out-slugging Swanson? As far as hair goes, I have a bunch. It never helped me hit even a mediocre fastball, much less a curve.

  24. Albies has 35 XBH in 439 ABs at AA/AAA, and Swanson has 37 XBH in 385 ABs between High-A/AA. I don’t think there’s really a marked difference in power once you adjust for level and age. Albies has been in a little bit of a slump, but he’s absolutely raked at AA. He’s the more advanced prospect.

  25. Albies is out-slugging Swanson because singles count toward slugging. If you hit .350, your SLG has to be at least .350

  26. @34, Not sure how you’re treating injuries, but my guesses are: Yadier Molina and Mark Teixeira

    Edit: Shout-out to Dustin Pedroia, who’s got to be up there somewhere.

    Next in line: Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton

  27. The worry with Ozzie Albies mirrors the scouting concerns with Jose Peraza (and Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton before him) – that he won’t be able to hit the ball hard enough to succeed at the plate at the MLB level. Albies’ gaudy minor league batting lines have been built upon very high BABIPs (he’s super speedy!) and plentiful 2B and 3B with very few HRs (indicating his XBHs are likely also primarily due to speed rather than power). Players like Ozzie have to have enough pop to make the defenders respect your power, otherwise they’ll adjust (play the 3B in to stop bunts, bring the outfielders closer in, throw fastballs over the plate rather than risk allowing a walk) and take away many of the walks, free hits and extra bases that fast runner was otherwise getting in the minors.

    Dansby is a substantially bigger guy than Ozzie, with a lot more projectable power. He simply isn’t subject to the same worries that MLB pitchers will be able to knock the bat out of his hands. It’s also rare that pint sized players are successful at the highest level of competition – Jose Altuve was essentially treated like a carnival sideshow until he turned into a beastly hitter starting last year.

    EDIT – I am going to add my lot to the posters suggesting the Braves will pick up a MI on the free agent market this offseason; Aybar will be gone and you can’t count on Albies and Swanson to be ready to step in and take SS/2B from Opening Day. My guess is they grab a Kelly Johnson level guy on a short deal.

  28. Molina is #1 — the Cards starting catcher since late ’04. #2 has not been guessed, although Pedroia was close (mid-2006).

  29. @43, If they’re looking for a Kelly Johnson level guy on a short deal, I’d take a hard look at Kelly Johnson. Might be able to get him on a short deal.

  30. If you plan to start Swanson and Albies in WFF next year then you pretty much have to call them up in September, no? I don’t think they’ll do that. At best we’ll see them around mid-June next year. That’s certainly not what I wanted, but the FO is obviously a lot more patient than I am.

    Mississippi is going to likely make the post-season and they’ll want them to stay down there and experience playing in some “high-pressure” games.

  31. I strongly suspect that Albies has better range defensively given the stolen base advantage. I am curious to see how Swanson’s defense holds up in majors.

  32. #22
    My mantra to Yankee fans since 2009: “You’re going to be paying for that title for a long time.”

    #23
    What ‘roids up, does break down.

  33. @52 Juan Pierre was a very effective leadoff man for a long time, and he never hit more than 3 HR in a season.

  34. Does he not qualify due to missed injury time? Or does he qualify, but there’s someone else who’s been an incumbent longer?

  35. 52—Dans has veeeeeeeery good range. Great instincts, quick first step, etc. I’m sure Albies has more foot speed, but I’d be quite surprised if his range were better than Swanson’s.

  36. I don’t know if any of you guys saw the rain delay piece with Chipper last night, but it was interesting. Chipper made almost an error per game when he first got into pro ball and wasn’t hitting much better. People were strongly questioning why we would use a first round pick on him. Chipper said he heard all the concerns and worked in the weight room harder than he’d ever worked in his life during the off-season. I would like to see him take on Swanson as his own personal project.

  37. I saw a replay of Dansby throwing from the hole Jeter style last night. He’ll be fine

  38. Chipper was 18 when he had that tough first intro to pro ball. Check the rest of his minor league stats…!!! Swanson isn’t even in the same galaxy.

  39. BTW, none of the comparisons for Swanson are at all fair, it’s just what happens when you are the number one pick. I don’t think he should’ve been, but hey, it’s Arizona. We just need to let him develop into the good player he’s destined to be, without the constant “next Chipper”, “next Jeter” stuff. The Braves have already f’d this up somewhat by including him in marketing campaigns.

  40. Brandon Phillips was the inspiration for this question, and the correct answer! Currently entrenched in his 11th season as the Reds 2B.

  41. So ESPN says Folty is starting Saturday on 3 days rest and then Wisler is back up for Sunday. Has that been confirmed anywhere?

  42. Swanson isn’t Chipper, a first ballot HOFer in a just world, but it is noteworthy that Chipper hit only 13 homers at age 21 at AAA in over 500 AB. Swanson is on pace for about that in his first 500 minor league AB. I wish he were killing it a little more, but I’m not worried yet.

  43. Matt Holliday’s been traded between a couple of teams, too, which is the real issue.

  44. Dansby turning into Renteria would be just fine. Turning into Jeter would be better, and turning into Chipper would be the answer to a lot of prayers.

    I listened to the douche make his retirement announcement. He blubbered but did a good job saying goodbye.

  45. Also what is the rule on Wisler coming back up before 10-days are up? I thought he could come up since Teheran hit the DL, but for that exception to apply would he have had to come up in the corresponding move?

  46. I didn’t mean to compare Swanson to Chipper, but I do think he could benefit from spending some time in the weight room this summer. It would be nice to have 15 to 20 hr power from the SS position and I think this is realistic for Swanson in the near future – not sure about next year.

  47. @32

    Have I mentioned how much I hate the “Hey, let’s bring back [insert player who already played here and is clearly far worse now]!” thing? Because I really hate it. Like, if I were an owner or GM, I’d probably insert a hard and fast rule that my team is not ever allowed to bring back a player who used to play for my team and then left for another organization, only to be broken in extreme circumstances. And no, Prado and McCann do not qualify as extreme circumstances.

    @75

    Well, it’s a good thing you can actually get outs on balls in play then, isn’t it?

  48. Mark Teixeira never gave off warm fuzzies & he was the principal part of a not-so-great trade we made, but I saw him play a lot & if I were compelled to say something nice about him it would be… he might be the best right-handed defensive 1B I’ve ever seen.

  49. @76, I’m not sure he’s clearly far worse. He’s hitting .319/.371/.426, which is pretty much exactly what he hit in his heyday in Atlanta.

    In the cold light of day, I don’t disagree with you. I’m not sure how much it would make sense to bring back Martin Prado — he’ll turn 33 in a couple of months, he’s not quite the shutdown defender he once was, and his lack of power means that he more or less relies on a high batting average to be an effective player.

    But I would love to see him back in a Braves uniform. Watching him develop into an All-Star on sheer determination was one of the most rewarding experiences for me as a Braves fan over the last decade, a guy who never made any prospect list but who came up and after a couple of wobbly years (during which the term “Prado” was coined) he developed into a guy who could play every position on the field and hit .300 while doing it.

    I love the guy. I sure wouldn’t be bummed if we got him back.

  50. Joel De La Cruz can only hope to do as well as last time. Maybe he can work at least five tonight. Weren’t we supposed to have a pitching excess?

  51. I’d rather Jace play second fulltime. Gordon is not great but grating.

    And Freddie needs to get his vision checked.

  52. So… like… who is Joel De La Cruz, again?

    EDIT: I just went to b-ref, where I learned that he has a career 4.15 ERA in nine seasons in the minors, and the Braves are the first team that’s ever seen fit to give him so much as a cup of coffee. Well, then.

  53. At least Frenchy’s still got that arm. He threw that one like Joel threw strikes that inning.

  54. If you are trying to get your anti-travel ball message to the masses, maybe do it on a telecast where there’s more than the 5 of us watching.

    Holy shit this has dragged on for an eternity.

  55. I would’ve appreciated a point and counterpoint discussion–you know, a debate. It seemed like alternating soap boxes from former major leaguers who were so talented, they didn’t need travel ball. My bias is that they’re right–I tend to agree with John smoltz that kids who are elite talents are gonna rise to the top regardless–but I’d like to hear a different perspective for thoroughness.

  56. That was fortuitous. I was about to pack it in. Instead the offensive frustration gets a chance to worsen.

    I’m ready for this long season to end.

  57. I don’t think anyone knows exactly why arm injuries happen. All I know is that I don’t want to hear Chip and Joe talk. About anything.

    When I played travel ball we thought it was fun as hell. Joe and his contemporaries would’ve too. Maybe they should look into lines of discussion where they aren’t advising kids to play less baseball. I agree that kids should play all the sports, but playing ball all summer is fun and they make it sound like it’s a bunch of maniacal dads out there forcing their reluctant little flowers to throw 150 pitches a day.

  58. I realize Mel Rojas Jr isn’t a prospect and he’s a 26 yo at AAA, but Lordy, he is on fire. Another 3-hit game with a homer today. In July, he OPS’d 1.055 with 7 homers in 93 ab.

  59. Yes! He’s a switch hitting outfielder

    Apparently we bought him from the Pirates in May. Interesting.

  60. You will never hear me say I’d like to hit against the Cabreras and Chapmans just to see what it’s like. I have a keen sense of my own mortality.

  61. @ 78 – I’m with you. Prado is one of my all time favorite Braves. Hardest working player I’ve ever seen.

  62. Which one is pitching tonight?

    Fausto Carmona
    has a somewhat devious persona
    Carlos Danger
    just sounds like an over exposed Texas Ranger.

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