Braves 4, Cub-Umps 1

Until the Braves win a challenge not involving CB Bucknor, I will refer to all opposing teams as hyphenated umps.

After 41 games, the 1966 Braves were ensconced in 7th place, 8 games out with a 19-22 record. In their next game, they lost to Milt Pappas and the Reds again 6-3, before just under 7,000 spectators at Crosley Field. Tony Cloninger took the loss. Hank Aaron had his 33rd RBI and was starting to hit well.

I am in Europe, so I replicated an important part of my baseball experience of 1966. I listened to a game that started way too late and fell asleep in the 6th inning. Late baseball in 1966 was LA and SF only, and of course radio only, with the announcing team of Milo Hamilton, Larry Munson and Ernie Johnson. More about them another week.

The SS Amanda’s Husband appears to have navigated from the shoals of wrack and ruin to the smooth trade channels: 6 IP, 1 run, 6 K, 2 (leadoff) BB in an efficient 85 pitches. The only blemish came from a 2 out single by Kris Bryant.

The only Braves score I saw was in the 1st: Ozzie Albies double followed by a Freddie Freeman single. The remaining runs on the night came in the 8th, when Carl Edwards Jr. let 5 batters in a row reach base: Albies triple, Acuna single, Freeman single, intentional pass and unintentional pass. One more run walked in and the scoring was complete. Vizzy got an uneventful save for Minter, who was showering when those last three runs scored having been lifted for a pinch hitter earlier in the 8th.

Albert Almora Jr. made a spectacular catch against Tyler Flowers back when I was awake. If I missed anything after 3 am Central Europe Time, let me know.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

59 thoughts on “Braves 4, Cub-Umps 1”

  1. It’s not Braves Nation. It’s BravesWorld. I’m in France until Tuesday, then Ireland for 3 days, then back to France, then home.

  2. My son and I are going to San Diego for the Braves series June 4-6. (Part of his graduation gift from his grandmother, thanks Mom!) That’s kind of Europe, right?

  3. If Albies’ speed didn’t produce the triple, the infield would not have been in, and maybe Acuna’s hit doesn’t drop. If Freddie doesn’t inside out the swing, Acuna doesn’t get to third, and Freddie doesn’t get to second. If Freddie doesn’t get to second, Kakes doesn’t intentionally walk. The point of listing all those things is to show that those skills don’t slump. Speed doesn’t slump, situational hitting from an elite bat doesn’t slump, and the depth of the lineup producing all of those walks lengthened the inning and gave our closer some cushion. Innings like that lead me to believe that these wins aren’t fluky.

  4. The Braves always seemed to, back in the 90s, wait until game 40 or so to figure out what the team would look like and what needed to be done. So, I thought I would do a quick check-up of where we are. The Braves are 26-16, and have played the following teams so far:

    9 games vs. Phillies (Record: 24-16)
    6 games against the Mets (20-19)
    6 games against Natspos (24-18)
    5 against Cubs (22-18)
    4 against Reds (15-29)
    4 against Marlins (16-26)
    3 against Rockies (23-20)
    3 against Giants (22-22)
    2 against Rays (19-22)

    So, of the 42 games, only 10 have been against teams that are below .500. And only 17 have been at STP. And best record in the NL, yadda yadda.

    I’m starting to think there might be a little something going on around here….

  5. So, Part II.

    What do we need to address going forward?

    The starting pitching has been better than expected, with Sean Newcomb pitching very well, and Julio seeming to have come to terms with his inner junkballer. Amanda’s Hubby has been a perfectly cromulent starter, and Folty has mixed dominant and infuriating stretches – many times in the same inning. Soroka is getting some OTJ training.

    The bullpen has its ups and downs: Carle and Winkler are revelations, while Minter and Vizcaino have struggled a bit. Gohara has looked tough in his two outings in long relief. Freeman’s arm has yet to fall off, but check back in late July.

    The position players have been everything you could ask for, both at the dish and in the field. Third Base might be the only spot that could be upgraded.

    I’m thinking we need AA to look for a relief arm to solidify the back end of the pen, and I’d be good to go with what we have.

  6. In terms of what the Braves need – I’d say far and away the #1 thing right now is solidifying SS and 3B.

    The Braves have so many great arms in the minors that we could try plugging into the rotation and pen as needed (see eg Gohara) that I think we could easily find what we need there without going outside the org.

    All that said – I suspect that if the Braves don’t collapse that the most likely thing for AA to do is trade for marginal improvements in roster depth. I won’t complain if so but that wouldn’t really hit at the root of the primary area of concern.

    In my dream scenario, Riley and Dans are covering the left side of the infield by August and Riley steps in as a dangerous power bat in the back half of the lineup.

  7. @11 and 15- I agree

    @16 I agree with a back end arm. I’d like to try Winkler as the closer. Wonder if we could get someone like Brad Hand.

    I think if we could get Mike Moustakas as well, we have a great shot to win the east.

  8. @11 Agree with your point but I watched the replay of that Acuna single and he absolutely smoked that ball – 108mph if my memory is correct. Even if someone tried to catch that ball, it’s likely an IF single (considering said speed of said batter). I’d take 1st and 3rd with one out and Freddie up. Freddie’s single puts us right back where we were only Freddie gets the RBI instead of Acuna……

    That ball is definitely going to count among the hardest hit ground balls all year. Stanton did something like that last year.

  9. If we’re talking about this season and the goal is more than just competing or merely making the playoffs, I don’t see how there can be trust in a rotation of Teheran, Folty, Newcomb, McCarthy, Soroka, et al. (Don’t fixate on the order.)

    In a small sample, they’ve all been fine so far. But we’re aware of a history of inconsistency, injury in McCarthy’s case, and Soroka will hit an innings limit and probably wear down even if his performance level stays high. Gohara or Allard as insurance policies aren’t bad, but neither are they especially confidence inspiring.

    None of us are so new to baseball that we can’t say this isn’t foreseeable. It’s not the biggest problem right now, but it’ll manifest itself at some point.

  10. Fun watching these young guys run .. I know we had some bad calls the night before but I say keep running .. puts pressure on defense to field the ball clean etc … extra bases are runs …. the only need I see is a upgrade at Starting Pitcher if a good one and some relief help and mostly 3B — Carmargo is not a starter , Faherty is same .. Batista is washed up .. if we could get a good upgrade … do it …

  11. I think we need an ace starter, a third-baseman and a reliable pen arm, in that order.

    A good third-baseman would be helpful now. I’d give Bautista into June to assert himself but it doesn’t look like he’s gonna be a difference-maker. A Moustakas-type acquisition has a lot of appeal.

    I don’t think we need an ace starter right now, just thinking ahead to a potential playoff run. Seems to me we’re still learning what it is we have with our current gaggle of starters.

    Another bullpen arm seems less urgent to me. It may be that our bullpen is fine as is. We have some time to determine that, I think.

    What to do with Riley? Let him work on his defense in AAA. No rush. If he comes up at any time and wows with the bat, he could play third, LF, bench. I wouldn’t assume he’s going to be our solution at third this year, though.

  12. I would say the biggest fallacy I see on here is that we should trust 45 of Newcomb’s innings and not the projections. Because he’s not that different a pitcher. Improving for sure. Soroka is even more of a crapshoot.

  13. @26 The projections are useless if Newcomb has materially improved his approach and thus his walk rate. Now, whether or not you think his pitch developments are permanent is debatable, but the projections are useless when the player changes.

    That’s why the projections just aren’t helpful. They can’t predict early-20’s athletes and their development or regression.

  14. Hey, you guys are all so close. It’s the good European vibe we got going on to help Braves winning. More off you should come over.

  15. @27, I’m not sure I’d go that far, as player age curves are a pretty useful approximation even if most players have much more jagged growth than a smooth line might suggest. So Newcomb’s projection basically bakes in an assumption of how quickly he’ll learn. We don’t know that he’s zoomed past it; it could be that like a lot of young players, he takes three steps forward and two steps back.

  16. On a side note: the Braves’ projected record is now up to 83-79 on Fangraphs, and we’ve leapfrogged the Mets to have the 2nd best playoff odds projection in the NL East.

    This link will take you to a really cool graph showing the calculated postseason odds for each NL team (you can click to decide which teams to display) since the beginning of the season. With the Cubs and Dodgers looking mortal this year, the NL playoff picture has a ton of teams projected to win between 82 – 91 games.

  17. Yeah. @27 overstates its case. Newcomb has been better. But if it’s your job to make plans for the Braves and you don’t know what’ll happen, projections are a better bet than wide-eyed optimism, no matter the age of the player.

  18. as player age curves are a pretty useful approximation even if most players have much more jagged growth than a smooth line might suggest.

    But if it’s your job to make plans for the Braves and you don’t know what’ll happen, projections are a better bet than wide-eyed optimism, no matter the age of the player.

    Both of these can’t be true. The jagged growth is precisely why it’s up to the scouting and development department to give accurate assessments on where these players are vs. what ZiPS says that Newcomb will do this year.

    A follow-up question: what percentage of players would you speculate match the standard development curve even up to a 10% deviation? 30%? 50%? Couldn’t possibly be 70%? With those low numbers, how can you possibly make an accurate prediction on how Newcomb’s 2018 was to go when the projections, by nature, can’t account for variables that will so heavily skew the results?

  19. IMO, another starter is needed, a bullpen arm that is MLB proven, and some sort of solution at 3B. Bautista is not that solution, I don’t believe.

    If they weren’t planning on contention this year, but now are, you have to change your plans. Or you should.

  20. projections are a better bet than wide-eyed optimism, no matter the age of the player.

    I do agree with this though. Scouting and development > projections > wide-eyed optimism.

    I mean, as it sits, if you were a wide-eyed optimist, then you feel vindicated at the moment. But we’re a few 21-year olds from regression away from the projection curves being proved right. But, if you had to make decisions going forward, do you just predict a standard deviation to player projections? I know I wouldn’t. But I’d be interested in seeing what decisions the Braves make with players, which gives us an indication into what their scouting and development is seeing and blending that with projections.

  21. Projection curves are aggregate assumptions. They level out the herky-jerky normal progression with the “figured it out and turned on a dime” rarities. The question is if Newcomb is A or B.

  22. Soroka to 10-day DL with a right shoulder strain. Fried is up to start tonight.

    Right on cue, I guess.

  23. FanGraph’s projects the Braves to be the 9th worst team in baseball the rest of the season. They now project the Braves to finish with 83 wins, though.

  24. Soroka to 10-day DL with a right shoulder strain.

    Without the Strike Whisperer, Newcomb will regress.

  25. @37

    I think we’re more dependent on the literal 20/21-year olds, but admittedly, that was a euphemism for relying on what is one of the youngest rosters in baseball to take us to the playoffs. I probably should have been more precise.

    Folty’s 26, right? I feel like he’s another guy that is still in the same level of unpredictability as the “young” guys.

  26. Latest look at early trade matchups.

    If they could get a reasonable trade settled with the Reds, there is no way Austin Riley should stop you from getting Eugenio Suarez. Riley can play LF.

  27. @44
    There is no reasonable trade for Eugenio Suarez right now. He’s under control for 8 years.

  28. There is no reasonable trade for Eugenio Suarez right now. He’s under control for 8 years.

    That’s a valid argument, but that’s not what the article says. The article says “Austin Riley needs a shot at the 3B position in 2019,” and that’s just not right. If the only thing standing between a trade for Suarez and the Braves is “but then Austin Riley wouldn’t get to start in 2019,” then that deal has to get done.

  29. @49 agree – not a good target. Plus he’s a strict platoon player – hits lefties a ton, righties not so much.

  30. Riley in 2019 is tough because 1) he’s not exactly a “can’t miss” prospect the way Acuna, Albies, Soroka, or even Dansby has been and 2) it’s one more youngster you’re hitching a potentially World Series-winning year to, and I think that scares a lot of people and 3) who the heck else are they going to spend money on? I think all three of those concerns are actually valid. You spend money or trade capital on veterans to mitigate your risk and ensure you’re getting a quality contributor in return. The Braves both can and will invest both money and trade capital, and with so few spots left to improve, it would just seem logical for 3B to be an option. I just don’t see why Austin Riley has that much bearing over what you’d do to guarantee you’ve got a WS squad next year.

  31. ryan c looooves Danny Valencia.

    EDIT: No, he likes Luis Valbuena more. But I think he also really likes Valencia.

  32. @52 That’s why you go after a rental this year. There’s every chance to give Riley a shot before the end of the year even if you bring in a rental. And you make a more permanent solution over the winter. I think you trade for rentals this year, bring in a big FA hitter over the winter, and trade for a controllable ace pitcher also over the winter.

    If we can keep up the performance this year, it will be almost a worst to first – the only thing preventing that was how bad the other teams in the division were last year. Who knows if the rentals might like playing for the Braves enough to sign up for another term. By the end of this year, there will be a lot less uncertainty.

  33. Game called. Chicago will have to come to ATL much later this season. Only two off days in common are 8/30 and 9/13

  34. Game called. Chicago will have to come to ATL much later this summer. Only two off days in common are 8/30 and 9/13

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