Wednesday Warriors 5, Nationals 3

Another Wednesday, another Braves win.  You’re welcome.

I don’t think the other six days of the week appreciate your old buddy Humpday.  Our Braves are now 5-1 on Wednesdays, for a cool .833 winning percentage.  The run differential on Wednesdays is 33-16, or plus 17. 

I keep reading a lot of whining and crying on this blog about what a disappointment the 2021 Braves are, that the roster construction sucks, that certain coaches should be fired, that perhaps we need to be sellers at the deadline.  From my Wednesday perspective, I take pity on you.  The answer is obvious; all you other days of the week just need to start acting like Wednesday.

The best thing about this most recent Wednesday—a 5-3 win over the Natspos—is the return of Mighty Max, Pontifex Maximus, Varsity Fried.  After several dismal starts to open the season, followed by a couple of weeks to rest a strained hamstring, Fried took the mound to much anticipation.  For my money, the starting rotation is key to the rest of the season.  Most of the hitters have had disappointing starts on offense, but they will mostly come around.  And for all the cringe worthy performances by the bullpen, it’s a problem that may be fixable a la 2019.  But if Fried doesn’t come back to resemble his 2019-2020 self, the rotation will take a big hit, and rather than being a strength it could be one more weak link.

So Max did not disappoint.  He went five very strong innings, surrendering only one run on four hits, with six K’s and a single walk.  To my untrained eye, he looked like last year’s Varsity (not a good look for a fried apple pie, but just what we need from Max).  According to Paul Byrd, his delivery was more like last year—and he had video to prove it.  One start and five innings is a small sample size—but hey, SSS has been our theme on this blog lately.  I’ll take it.

Offensively, the big blow was by our big bear, a grand slam in the third. Ozuna is one of several regulars who came into this game with a lower batting average than that of the pitching staff (whose BA coming in was .220!).  But the Mime has been striking the ball with more authority in recent days; he’s not going to approach last season’s numbers, but his OPS will continue to climb in the next weeks.

The other offensive bright spot was William Contreras, who singled and scored in the third and stroked his first ML homer in the fourth.  He’s batting .400 with a 1.200 OPS.  SSS, but I like what I see so far.  The only damper to my Contreras enthusiasm is that Chip keeps reminding us of his recent conversation with big bro Wilson, who told Chip positive things about little bro and his readiness for the big leagues.  Wilson is a Cub so that’s enough validation for Chip.

Freeman is now 1 for 20 something in the last week.  What’s wrong with Freddie, everyone keeps asking?  Is it his elbow, his wrist, is it psychological?  He’s had a bad week, but just last Wednesday (magical day!) he was 4 for 4 before being struck out by Anthony Rizzo.  His OPS was over .900 a week ago.  SSS.  Patience, friends.

The Braves only had five hits on the night, two by Ozuna and two by Contreras.  After building a 5-0 lead, they went into hibernation mode.  With this bullpen, hibernation mode is a real problem.  The one area in which I’m having trouble following my own mantra of “Patience” is the bullpen.  It really is bad, or at least it’s nowhere near as strong as last year’s edition. 

The one sour note to this victory was that the pen almost blew it in the 8th.  Josh Tomlin came on to preserve a 5-1 lead, and left a third of an inning later with the score 5-3 and the tying runs in scoring position.  I appreciate all that Tomlin has done for this team, but he’s not an 8th inning leverage guy.  One of the positive things he’s done is to get AJ Minter fixed last year.  Minter came on to get out of the 8th inning jam with no further damage.  Fresh Prince pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the win.

For all the problems so far, the division is still wide open—everybody’s got problems.  All five teams are separated by just two games. 

Thursday is an afternoon game on youtube, in which the Hammers go for the sweep against the gNats.  Drew Smyly is on the hill.  I know that doesn’t inspire hope.  My suggestion: pretend that it’s Wednesday.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

100 thoughts on “Wednesday Warriors 5, Nationals 3”

  1. Gosh, this was good. Love the win – love this recap even more.

  2. Thank you, tfloyd. Wonderful recap, and as always, keeping things in perspective.
    Contreras does look like he is actually ready.

  3. Do the Braves gain a year of service time or Super Two delays for having kept Contreras off the 25-man for just a month? Seems to me those threshholds were somewhere between mid-May and mid-June, at least back when I followed that sort of thing a little. I realize that those considerations were probably not paramount in either the decision to not start him with the team or the decision to install him now, but it would be interesting from the team budget point of view.

  4. Nice, Rusty.

    Ozuna has raised his OPS 83 points in the last week and change. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

    Freddie needs a day off, but you know he won’t take it. But I’m not worried about Freddie. He will just start hitting one day, and we’ll forget this period even happened by the end of the year.

    Smyly vs. Jon Lester at 4PM on YouTube. I think that means I can also get it on YouTube TV without having to toggle apps. I completely forgot Jon Lester signed with Washington.

  5. Whilst it’s a little early (SSS and all that) to start back up with “In Max we Trust” at least there is hope on the horizon

    To my eye (note, not an expert and certainly not at the level of experience of many noted commentators on here) it still looks like he’s collapsing towards 3rd base on his delivery on occasion, with those occasions being if he really wants to dial it up

    There’s just an inconsistency that I don’t recall, and I will gladly be corrected

  6. tf

    it’s simply your sweet conversation
    that brings this sensation
    and, yes,
    the lack of fearness of you.

  7. @8 If Freddie wants to go back home to LAA, then all LAA has to do is change the name on the check from Albert Pujols to Freddie Freeman and there’s nothing we can do. Albert is on the last year of his deal, and he is making $30M this year. You know they’ll pay Freddie that, and we won’t. If wants to be in Atlanta, he’ll be in Atlanta for $25M a year. If he wants to be where he’s from, he’ll be there for $30M a year. And all parties know that, hence no deal.

  8. I’m also concerned that we may let Freeman walk, but that concern is primarily magnified by the fact that we really don’t have anyone coming up to fill his spot or role in the lineup. I don’t have great confidence that we will sign anyone who will provide what Freddie has consistently done.

    They say that first base is easy to fill, but I never hear it from anyone looking for a good first baseman.

  9. @9
    This is true. Freddie’s definitely not going to get the $ he likely deserves in Atlanta, and that is not AA’s fault. Will Smith, Ronald Acuna, Marcell Ozuna, and Ozzie Albies will make a combined $49MM next year and there’s a HUGE list of Arb guys:

    Arb 3: Dansby, Luke, Adrianza, Dayton, Heredia
    Arb 2: Fried, Soroka, Arcia, Minter
    Arb 1: Matzek, Newcomb, Riley

    These numbers in and of itself don’t mean much, but you’re looking at a core that will be going through arb and will get expensive quick. My opinion is there’s room for Freddie at an AAV of 5 years, $25MM/year, but that is max.

  10. Let him walk and let someone else pay for his inevitable decline years. The fanbase is already established and they’ve survived losing fan favorites before. Shelling out big bucks for a guy with old player’s skills and a bunch of kids to play with now would be dumb.

    If you can’t find a AAAA 1B guy to hit .275 and 20+ HRs with a decent OPS, then you shouldn’t be a MLB GM, anyway.

    This isn’t a take, its a give.

  11. Slight disagreement with you there — “Freddie’s definitely not going to get the $ he likely deserves in Atlanta, and that is not AA’s fault.”

    That is totally AA’s fault. Anthopoulos is the guy who decides how much people get paid. There may be may other contributing factors to the determination of how much the team is willing to pay Freddie — the size of the payroll, the tightness of the owners, the overall revenue attributable to Fred — but AA is the guy whose job it is to make that decision and accept the consequences. The buck stops with him.

  12. Thanks, tfloyd. I surrendered Wednesday, and I see it’s in very good hands.

    Prepare for a very long intro to Thursday… I’ve been busy, though not that usefully. Suffice it to say that my intro will include a couple of paragraphs going back to 1875. I’ll mark the spot where blazon can start reading.

  13. Agreed — as currently constructed, the Acuna and Albies contracts if anything ALLOW for overpaying Freeman, even for the middle-of-the-pack budget franchise that Liberty has deemed the Braves to be.

  14. Chief, in what world is a .275, 20+ homers, decent OPS player a AAAA player? That’s nuts. I grant you he would be middle to back of the pack among starting 1B, but that doesn’t make him AAAA.

    If I know my Braves, they may not be done squeezing payroll to compensate for the effects of the pandemic. They’ve got real estate, for chrissakes, people! Real estate! And it’s probably sitting empty!!

    I just don’t have an overly warm fuzzy on the topic of Freeman and the future at 1B. If I could duct tape Christian Pache and Drew Waters together and get a top flight rookie first baseman who will jack 40 homers, I’d do it in an heart beat while we wait for Harris to arrive. :)

  15. Anthopoulos came out before the year and said that payroll was forcibly restricted in 2021. That number isn’t on him. Hopefully, Battery and Truist revenue will allow for the payroll to get back to normal, but it isn’t as of now and committing 25% of your payroll to one player isn’t a wise investment. If that number can shrink to 20%, it should be a go.

  16. This afternoon’s game…if you have Dish tv you can, theoretically, watch on Channel 371 there…at 4 pm i believe.

    My question for veteran subscribers is…having got there how do you wade through all the junk to find it? Could not find the usual indexes that normally suffice elsewhere. Thanks for any help.

  17. @18, this may sound callous, but ultimately, if he objects to the payroll number that he’s responsible for, he can resign. He has full responsibility for the payroll of the team in his job title. If he feels straitjacketed, then he can step aside for someone who’s willing to take full responsibility for team operations.

  18. @9 and watch us sign Pujols to play first base in the counter move to Freddie going to LAA.

  19. @22, And if that fails, I’m sure we could make a strong bid for Scott Thorman. He’s still just 39. Problem solved.

  20. @21 Are you arguing that if a GM doesn’t like the payroll number he’s given by ownership, he should resign? That’s a great way to have never a GM job in baseball ever again.

  21. @23 I am sure a Rob Fick , Wally Joyner type could be found as well. On a brighter performance note, what is our old pal Julio Franco up to?

  22. Braves are being more aggressive than most franchises in opening the gate to a capacity crowd, which would theoretically give them a financial advantage this offseason. Theoretically.

  23. @24, no, I’m arguing that he has responsibility for it and should take responsibility for it, and if I as a fan am unhappy with the payroll number, it’s perfectly valid for me to say that ultimately the buck stops with AA.

    If he doesn’t like the number AND he doesn’t want to take responsibility, he should clear out his desk.

  24. @29 I don’t understand what you’re inferring. If he can’t afford to sign FF, then he can’t afford to sign FF. I’m not sure what the debate is.

  25. If he can’t afford to sign FF, then he deserves all the boobirds that the fanbase gives him, because the buck stops with him.

    To be clear, I love Alex Anthopoulos, I’ve loved him since before he got here, and I trust him implicitly. I’m just talking about the responsibility that comes with the job. Part of it is taking your lumps for the decisions you make, even if you didn’t have perfectly free rein because someone else holds the pursestrings.

  26. The most annoying part about us inevitably letting Freeman walk (other than Chief celebrating and calling everyday major leaguers AAAA players), will be the number of people who play it like, “Aw shucks…poor lil’ us. We just couldn’t pay that much money to somebody…it’s nobody’s fault, really, just the realities of us as a small-market team…” That will be complete and total horseshit, and 75 percent of the fanbase will eat it up. Go tell Arthur Blank and Tony Ressler (the Hawks’ owner, in case there’s folks who are unfamiliar) that Atlanta is a small-or-mid market team. I’d love to see the reaction to that.

  27. Is it just me or does Ozuna’s swing (and his stride) seem way longer this season? Last year and when he was on the Cardinals everything was so compact and fast. Now it seems like his front leg comes way farther forward, even on his recent HRs. Maybe it’s an intentional thing and there’s a reason for it, but the mechanics just look way slower and less explosive to me this year.

  28. @29 I feel ya on this as I’ve felt like this before when F. Flexibility jerseys went up for sale at a time when we were maybe one big player short. However, here’s something we must remember. John Schuerholz wasn’t the villain when the Braves slashed payroll, and Frank Wren remained somewhat of a heroic figure when working with the payroll under Liberty Media. We never blamed either for the financial woes that plagued the team.

    I have felt a slight amount of animosity towards the front office, at times, when it has felt like we were holding back on spending. However, now I look up and see that some of the only multi-year contracts we’ve handed out are risks that we’re now watching and crossing our fingers on.

    I’ll say it one more time: Baseball has a serious problem. Free agent stars are all huge risks to sign. This isn’t the baseball we grew up watching as kids.

  29. @12

    Fighting talk, great stuff.

    May we enquire as to his height? First Base, you know.

  30. This is a much deeper conversation than it should be. Anthopoulos was given a farm system of which was budding and ready to produce and has done his very best to stagger/supress arb-raises and arb clocks. He also signed Ozzie and Acuna to early extensions to help with costs. Still, players are bottle necking with arbitration and there are 17 cases on the 40-man roster next year. Sure, many will not be kept around but even 8-9 is a substantial amount. For the most part, these are inherited “problems” that AA has controlled but it’s also created the dilemma for the Freddie extension. What should he’ve done differently, assuming signing these FA 1 year deals haven’t hampered his decision?

  31. Like I say, I’m personally happy with the stuff he’s done. The farm’s been productive, the trades and signings have generally been defensible on the merits, and the team has finished in first place a bunch. The Acuna extension was a steal and the Albies extension was highway robbery. The Braves have a brand new stadium built with taxpayer money, they have the biggest radio network in the country (as I learn every time I tune in), they play in one of the largest metro areas in the country…

    Not paying Freddie is not destiny. It’s a choice. And it’s a dumb choice I’ll holler about.

    Trading Andrelton Simmons to save a few shekels was a super dumb choice, too. I still feel very confident that AA will pay Freddie and just get it done, but it’s beginning to turn into a distraction, and that’s not good for anyone.

  32. Bravo, tfloyd..

    PLEASE. Breathe. The Braves will be fine. FF will re-up. Deeply now: inhale, exhale.

    Life is wonderful. Rejoice. We are not uniformed in orange.

  33. @16

    If there might be any attempt, now or in the future, to think in terms of effectively comingling the Acuna/Ossie contracts with Freddie’s and use one to subsidize the other some people I know would be very angry. Denials a-plenty of course, you can’t prove it, etc. Yes they can, messily. If it were to happen or threaten to. So settle on what should have been there in the first place and preclude all this. If their new numbers pleased I’d guess end loading to some extent to help the club’s cash flow would work fine. And do it now.

  34. @33 A couple of weeks ago they highlighted exactly that on MLBN when breaking down Ozuna’s swing. The main emphasis being on a higher leg kick.

    Looks like Freddie gets a needed off day. Maybe now I can get to hear FP Santangelo talking about how great it will be for Snit to have Freddie in his bench toolbox just like he talked about Soto last night. I wish I didn’t have to listen to the gNats TV team.

  35. steal/highway robbery?

    As though he should be commended for that, in this day and age?

    What color are they Alex?

  36. I tried to choose my language carefully: “steal” and “highway robbery” are not meant to be terms of commendation. I don’t believe the economic exploitation of players, no matter what their background, is laudable, and I think I’ve said that before — but that’s a broader discussion.

  37. So today’s game is one of those YouTube exclusive broadcasts, apparently. This might actually be more welcome this year than most, as a lot of folks have been locked out of watching games locally by the fact that Sinclair has no apparent interest in getting Bally Sports to be actually accessible.

    And yes, Rob (@4), YTTV does have a dedicated channel for the YouTube exclusive games.

  38. @42

    Happy Days…away from the ugly there are the grass roots of the Game…and he is one of them. Independently sprung masks and all.

  39. @43 did they mention if they thought it was intentional or something he needs to fix? I don’t see why he would change his approach like that, but I’m no expert on hitting mechanics

    Nats tv crew may be the most grating in baseball.

  40. @45
    I understand you. However, if the GM wants to keep his/her (really glad I get to say the 2nd now), they’re working with a budget that’s set for them and unfortunately these things occur. A salary floor could help, but suppression of salaries by signing young guys for below market extensions will not go away.

    I do hope that the new CBA will address service time manipulation.

  41. Wow. Angels just release Pujols and Twitter starts jokes about a Braves/Angels trade involving Freeman.

  42. This is a really good thread so I won’t start a new one. Here is the breakdown of Braves and Baseball news:

    And…

    And…

    And…

  43. Hope the top 2/3 of the lineup produces. The bottom 3 have career OPSs of .465, .553, and .036. Mathis is slightly less bad against LHP than overall, and Pache is 3 for 8 with a double and a HR against LHP, so maybe there’s hope. Smyly (we really should call him Frowny or something until he starts pitching better, or at least use the smile emoticon instead of his name) bats left, and his only career walk came against a RHP. He has no hits against pitchers of any handedness, making him one of probably not many players with more runs scored (1) than hits in his career. I assume Herb Washington holds that record.

  44. It’s interesting to see Albert Pujols, 41, released so that he can sail into retirement. He is the clearest example of the serious problem that now plagues baseball.

  45. If Smyly does well today means that we see Jeff Mathis every 5th day, do we make that trade?

  46. This thread is just another “ownership is cheap” thread, a thread that has been made dozens of times throughout Braves Journal’s history. But what might get a little annoying after a while is the constant reference to the below market deals of Acuna and Albies being the reason why the team should make the financial decision you want them to make. And just be advised that you are going to have that constantly. Braves didn’t sign the reliever you wanted? They pocketed the Acuna/Albies money! Braves didn’t extend Dansby? They pocketed the Acuna/Albies money! Freddie signs with LAA? They pocketed the Acuna/Albies money!

    It’s like when spouses save money on something, and six months later, one of them says, “Hey, remember that money we saved? I wanna buy a BMW.” “Well, no, we just had that $5,000 roof leak, so that’s where that went.” You will blissfully ignore that they threw $11m at Smyly, $15M at Morton, and any other move they don’t make, you will say that the Acuna/Albies money is being pocketed. At the end of the day, they have a finite payroll, they are cheap, and below market deals doesn’t increase the top line number.

    This will get old.

  47. Yeah, go ahead and buy your Liberty Media gameday swag, Rob…I’ll be over here cheering for the actual team. And comparing Liberty Media’s budget for the Braves to a household budget is absurd, by the way.

  48. @55

    Yes…especially since we’re likely to see him every fifth day, anyway.

  49. Rob, just to be clear about your comment at @56, when you say, “why the team should make the financial decision you want them to make,” it sounds like you’re not including yourself in that reference to “you.”

    In other words, do you want them to let Freddie walk?

    If so, how come?

  50. Umpire is calling anything in the vicinity of the plate on either side a strike. If he does that for both teams Smyly better take advantage of it.

  51. Looks like Marcell is getting off the schneid!

    (Apologies for the triple post…)

  52. This ump would have been ideal for the Glavine era.
    Just get it within 6 inches of the plate and he will call a strike.

  53. That was pretty sweet by Dansby! Had he not caught that, it likely would’ve brained some poor fan down the LF line.

  54. @69

    They’re calling the game from a studio in Secaucus, which can’t be conducive to an exciting broadcast.

    In general, I’d say the biggest casualty of the pandemic remote broadcasting has been the quality of national TV broadcasts. Local broadcasts can manufacture some excitement through homerism, plus they’re calling home games from the ballpark. Remote national TV broadcasts have been dismal across the board…across networks and sports.

  55. Smyly was flying too close to the sun on wings of pastrami. I know what they were trying to do there and I hope it doesn’t cost us.

    And here we go

  56. I’d say they should’ve left him in to try and get out of it over sending in Luke Jackson.

  57. Man, never has a man been more misunderstood. That was not a post defending Liberty Media AT ALL. Did you guys not read to the end? I literally called them cheap. Y’all need to get your reading comprehension figured out.

  58. Why Santana in the 8th? Is that really the best option in a 3-1 game????

    The guy could not throw a strike yesterday and he still can’t throw one today.

    And Luke is turning out to be one of our best options. Back to his 2019 (or was it 2018) self.

  59. I thought santana was known for throwing strikes? What did Kranitz do to him?!

  60. @48 Pretty much trying to increase the launch angle.

    I think it’s a pretty big fail if increasing the launch angle also increase the “miss angle”.

  61. @60

    I love Freddie, but if they can spend $30M elsewhere better, I’m ok with that. Just because they saved money on Ozzie Albies doesn’t make Freddie Freeman worth $30M.

    This is what I would love to see:
    -LAA learns from their mistake with Pujols and doesn’t give another aging first baseman more than he’s worth.
    -Freddie signs a 5YR, $125-135M deal with Atlanta.
    -Contreras makes d’Arnaud redundant. $8M saved.
    -Ynoa makes the Hamels/Morton money redundant. $15-18M saved.
    -Wilson, Wright, SOMEONE makes Smyly money redunant. $11M
    -They sign superstar-level, $25-30M player for SS or 3B. Dansby or Riley traded if they don’t put in an All-Star caliber season this year.

    At the end of the day, ownership is cheap. Ain’t nothing that’s going to change about that, and the point of what I was saying is that if the Braves don’t do the move that you want, people are going to mentally spend Ozzie’s savings multiple times over. I’m not communicating my point very well, I guess.

  62. Wait what? Dayton coming in now? What is this, bizarro bullpen day?

    Sure am glad Minter pitched in a blowout in game one

  63. So now Dayton? I guess when you have very few reliable options that pitch everyday you need a lucky outing or two from the scrap heap guts

  64. We’ve already won this series. No point in trying to win this game, I guess.

  65. How is it possible to make such a horrible choice from our meager bullpen options when we’re actually trying to win a game. Note: I still think we don’t have a hit off of any gNat reliever.

    And now comes the Dayton experience. Bye bye ballgame.

  66. @81
    Thats the BS Bobby Cox mentality of just winning 2 out of every 3.
    Not a fan of it.

    Dayton is one strike away from being very impressive.

    Edit: bailed out by the ump, but the Nats have gotten way more calls in their favor today.

  67. That was a horrible call. I’m glad it went our way. Home plate umpire has been terrible for both sides.

  68. Well, the umpire gave us a Christmas gift seven months early. Thanks, blue. Please don’t try to give the Nats an even more egregious makeup call.

  69. That third strike was the best call of the year. Terrible call, but a game saver for our side.

  70. @78 I somehow doubt they will learn. This has been a pattern of theirs going back to at least the Vladimir Guerrero signing.

  71. On the use of Dayton—the problem is the lack of bullpen depth, of course. It makes sense not to use Matzek or Minter 3 games in a row; you really do have to remember that it’s a long season. Bobby wasn’t wrong about resting folks for the long haul.
    Still, you’d rather have more options than Snit has right now. I found myself longing for Newk against Schwarber. Funny how it turned out that Dayton got the job done (thanks again, Blue)

  72. That game was a testament to the gNats futility not the Braves’ success.

    We only got 5 hits (1 LOB) and they left the bases juiced several times. This was all the breaks going our way.

    And it does nothing to make me like Smyly or Dayton any more.

  73. I’m quite confident Snit knows Santana is 7th on the bullpen depth chart and had a valid reason for using him. Probably, ya know, he was the best available.

    Play by play guy was terrible. No energy.

  74. Currently AS of May 6, 2021
    The Batting order should be up dated to 1 Ronald Acuna 2 Ossie Albert 3 Freddie Freeman 4 Marcel Ozuna . Why because Freddy Freman is not hitting his potential. Plus The 2 Fastest players or Spark Plugs in the Lineup are Ronald Acuna and Ossie Albert. Both have speed can Steal and Score easily from Second Base especially if The Game Goes to Kansas city Shoot out. .in an extra innings game . Just look at The statistics of both compared to the rest of the team .
    Plus in the next few weeks they will be playing against the National league west especially the Los Angeles Dodgers who have fast runners on the Dodgers that is why the Dodgers won The 2020 world Series. And that is Why the Dodgers have The center fielder from The Boston Redsox. Any one in the Media cannot see this along with Brian Snitiker are Blind . So Brian Snitiker wake up and open your eyes Wide. Thank you
    Bill Edwards Sports and Photography Editor of the Palm Coast Tribune.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.