Braves face Hampton, Astros

   This probably isn’t the best way to get folks flocking to the old ballpark during a recession: The Braves have hit .220 with one homer while going 1-5 in their past six home games, including five homerless games in a row entering tonight’s series opener against the Astros.
  The good thing is, there will be fireworks tonight, guaranteed.
  Well, almost guaranteed. There’s always the chance that the weekly Friday night postgame fireworks could get squelched by rain or a rain delay that pushes the game to midnight and brings a city ordinance banning post-midnight fireworks.
  But what about in-game explosions of the hitting kind? The Braves (and their pitching staff) could use some run support including perhaps a few long balls.
  Three homers in 291 at-bats at home this season. That’s it. That’s the Braves’ total output, and it’s the fewest home-park homers in the majors in 2009.
  The first two pitchers going for the Astros aren’t the ones you’d pick first if you wanted an opponent who serves up homers aplenty. Mike Hampton tonight and Roy Oswalt on Saturday.

Hampton returns

Hampton returns

  Oh, had we failed to mention that ol’ “Hampy” is starting tonight for the Astros? Oh, yes, the lefty returns to Atlanta, where I’m quite sure the reception is going to be … well, interesting.
  As most of you are fully aware, Hampton spent the past six seasons with the Braves, about half of that time on the disabled list for a litany of injuries and two elbow surgeries.
  But he finally got healthy last summer and posted a 3.72 ERA with eight quality starts in his last nine games. He was 3-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 13 starts for the Braves last season.
  The Braves hoped to re-sign him to an incentive-laden one-year deal.
  He said late in the season that he was appreciative of the Braves’ patience in him through his injuries, and that he would consider that when weighing free-agent offers after the season. Gave some indication he’d like to stay.
  In the end, however, he agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with Houston, taking less money than the Braves offered. Wanted to be closer to his children in Arizona, according to several people familiar with his family situation. (He was working through a divorce during his entire last season with the Braves.)
  I was told that Hampton also wanted to be around former Astros teammates, guys closer to his age like Jeff Bagwell, who’s still living in Houston and has a front-office role with the team.
  Hampton pitched for the Astros for six seasons (1995-99), including his 22-4 season in 1999 when he was the Cy Young Award runner-up to Randy Johnson.
  The Braves paid the left-hander $48.5 million over six seasons, during which he made 85 starts and went 35-24 with a 4.10 ERA in 509-2/3 innings.
  That worked out to … working on my adding machine here … about $570,000 per start, $1.39 million per win, or $95,160 per inning, although insurance paid portions of his salary while on the DL.
  Hampton made a total of $78.5 million during that six-year stretch, the rest of it paid by the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins as part of the three-team trade that brought him to Atlanta in November 2002.
He signed a then-record eight-year, $121 million contract with Colorado before the 2001 season, and was traded after two disappointing seasons in Denver.
  After going 63-31 with a 3.30 ERA in 133 starts over the four seasons before he signed that huge contract, Hampton was 56-52 with a 4.81 ERA in 147 starts during the eight-year megadeal.
  He’s 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts this season for the Astros, and he allowed 16 hits and seven runs in 12-1/3 innings of his past two starts, getting no decisions in home losses to Milwaukee and Cincinnati.
  The reason I said he’s not the one you’d pick to hit homers against: The sinkerballer has only given up 22 homers in 294 innings at Turner Field, where he’s 19-16 with a 3.70 ERA in 47 starts.
  Possible good sign for the Braves: Lefties are hitting .304 against him this season, albeit in only 23 at-bats.
  Chipper Jones is 19-for-50 (.380) with one homer, five walks and two strikeouts against Hampton. But only three other active Braves have faced the lefty, none with more than six at-bats against him.

♣ Power drought: The Braves have hit eight homers during their current 5-10 slide, after hitting 10 in their first six games (5-1).
  You might be surprised at one of the four NL teams that’s hit fewer homers than the Braves — the Mets, with 13. Only the Giants have hit fewer (12) than the Metropolitans.
  But the Mets have also hit .285 (third in the league) with a majors-leading 11 triples, 13 stolen bases, and a .362 OBP, compared to the Braves’ .257 average with four triples, league-low four stolen bases and respectable .343 OBP.
  Not that triples are overly important, but I found it interesting that 10 of the Mets’ triples have been hit at new Citi Field, where the Mets have only seven homers. We’ve heard the place plays huge, and that stat – 10 triples, seven homers — is a clear indication to me that the power alleys are, indeed, huge.
  I mean, the Mets have twice as many triples at home as the next-highest NL total (San Diego’s five, also in a big park).
  Hit one to the wall in the gaps or into the corners of the new Mets ballpark, and your speedier hitters can have some fun. Which might not apply so much to the Braves.

Runner steals base ... ohhh

  ♣ Speed talk: Speaking of speed, I know it’s a subject of much debate whenever it’s mentioned on this blog. With that in mind, and considering the Braves’ lack of stolen bases along with their lack of homers, I asked a few uniformed Braves about the importance of steals.
  And before some start to recite the fact that the Braves’ division-title teams also generally were at the bottom of the league in steals, take a look at the home-run totals of some of those teams, the three or four big-time hitters that most of those teams had in the lineup, and leadoff hitters many of them had.
  Anyway, the current Braves have four stolen bases, which is half as many as the next-lowest NL total by the Brewers (eight). But the Brewers also have 29 homers, which is tied for the NL high and 11 more homers than the Braves have.
 So, is it important to steal bases?
 • Hitting coach Terry Pendleton: “Depends on the ballclub. It’s important in advancing the runner, getting him in position to score. I like to have base stealers because it puts more pressure on [opposing] pitchers, infielders, and even the outfielders. Everybody has to be on their toes, aware of the runner.
“You’ve got to be able to put pressure on the other team. If you don’t [have base stealers] you better have some guys who can hit some doubles, or hit balls out of the park, or bunt and do the little things.”
  Can a team offset a lack of speed and stolen bases?
 • Chipper Jones: “You can if you execute the ABC’s of baseball — hit behind runners, get runners over, hit and run, execute bunts — you can make up for it. But if you don’t have a lot of speed and you don’t execute the ABC’s, it comes to light more often.”
  Has this team executed those ABC’s?
 ”No,” Chipper said.
  Rookie Jordan Schafer has some speed and stole some bases in the minors, but isn’t doing much of that in the Nos. 7-8 spots in the lineup, mainly for concern of making the third out and having the pitcher lead off the next inning.
  I asked him about the Braves’ lack of base-stealers.
  ”That’s why we’ve got to do the little things right to win games,” Schafer said. “We don’t have guys who hit 40 home runs, and we don’t have guys who steal 60 bases, so we’ve got to move the runner over and do all the other little things right.
  ”Our starting pitching’s done awesome. We’ve just got to play good defense and play smart baseball, be unselfish, get the guy over, get every run we can.”

 ♣ Anyone wonder what’s become of Kerry Ligtenberg? No? Then don’t ready this story.
  Alright, I’m out of time. Gotta fight Friday traffic and get to the ballpark. I wanted to share some other stats about how well the Braves have hit on first pitches and how Kelly Johnson might have some hope of ending his skid with Houston in town (he’s hit .382 with three homers in 11 games against the ‘Stros) and how Schafer’s had 10 walks in his past seven games and … well, like I’m out of time.

  Digging the new Bob Dylan album, Together Through Life, particularly the cut “I Feel a Change Comin’ On” in which he says, “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver, and I’m reading James Joyce. Some people they tell me I’ve got the blood of the land in my voice.”
  Here’s a a Dylan classic to take us out, “Every Grain of Sand” from the Shot of Love album. Oh, and check out this great slide-show presentation to accompany it, or this live video of Bob doing it, or this one of Bon Iver covering the great song. Oh, and by the way, Billy Joe Shaver’s playing Eddie’s Attic on Wednesday.

“EVERY GRAIN OF SAND” by Bob Dylan
In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dying voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.

Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face.

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other time it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

 

2,273 comments Add your comment

rich brave

May 1st, 2009
3:03 pm

I will repost from the previous blog. I want the BRAVES to pound on that $$$$ sucking, a** hole HAMPTON tonight.!!!!

rich brave

May 1st, 2009
3:04 pm

LINE-UP for this evening. INFANTE, PRADO, JONES, KOTCHMON, FRANCOUER, SCHAFER, DIAZ, ROSS, picher. GO BRAVES.

Chop Chop

May 1st, 2009
3:07 pm

Wayne in Utah

May 1st, 2009
3:10 pm

rich

Now how do you REALLY feel about Mike Hampton?

Gummy Bears...Bouncing here and there and everywhere....THEY ARE THE GUMMY BEARS!!!!

May 1st, 2009
3:11 pm

DOB do I really need to repeat this again?

Why the power drought, because we have no power hitters other than Chipper.

PWHjort

May 1st, 2009
3:12 pm

Baseball America did an article about the hottest minor leaguers: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/prospect-hot-sheet/2009/268037.html

Here’s what they said about Hanson: What’s left to write about Hanson? We all know the stuff—a plus fastball, a pair of plus breaking balls and a changeup that also flashes as a quality offering—is among the best in the minors, which has led to a 1.38 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. There probably aren’t many pitchers in the major leagues with the kind of stuff that Hanson has, though his command isn’t quite where it needs to be yet.

McFann Ô

May 1st, 2009
3:15 pm

ease19

Aw! Glad you were able to get it–wouldn’t want a vole loose in the house! So your cat is 16? If so, then he’s twice as old as Petey!

McFann Ô

May 1st, 2009
3:16 pm

Oh, and thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

Little Slow

May 1st, 2009
3:17 pm

It slips my mind who the college football coach was who made the quote, but frefering to his teams bad performances he said, “We’re little, but we’re slow!”

That’s the Braves. They are little with the bat and slow on the bases. Doesn’t win in football and it won’t win in baseball either.

rammerjammer

May 1st, 2009
3:17 pm

REALLY hope Bobby gets a wild hair and has Schafer lead off and drops Kelly to 6 or 7.

TnBrian

May 1st, 2009
3:18 pm

blah, blah, blah… just don’t expect much, if any, turnaround until Mac gets back in that lineup. TP sure knows how to talk the game of ABC baseball. Unfortunately, judging from these last few years, he doesn’t know how to actually get it to sink into the head of his hitters.

ncscoots

May 1st, 2009
3:19 pm

nolie (if you’re here), any idea what Hanson’s K/100 rate is?

Thrillhouse44

May 1st, 2009
3:21 pm

Good to read Ligtenberg is still chasing dream. Can’t be mad at that.

TnBrian

May 1st, 2009
3:21 pm

McFann, you are a sweet person and smart too. But, do you really have to thank DOB for writing blogs? That’s what he gets paid to do. He has a dream job that most people would envy. No disrespect to you, just sayin.

Chop Chop

May 1st, 2009
3:21 pm

Whatever happens with the club this year, Bob Dylan says that it’s all good.

michael

May 1st, 2009
3:27 pm

Excellent article DAVE. I’ve been preaching the lack of ABC baseball in this team for the last 3 years. Nice to see that at least Pendleton and others at least admit that the team lacks these fundamentals right now. Terry has got to be teaching the guys this huh? Wonder why they just are not getting it? Would you agree that a lot of ABC baseball includes being patient at the plate…another area where this team fall short IMO. Again…great article and thanks.

I remember watching those early 90s teams and while they did steal more than they are doing now…stealing bases was not their strong suit. Instead…playing ABC baseball was and it showed. WHY can’t this team get back to playing ABC baseball?

Goldenglove002

May 1st, 2009
3:29 pm

Braves need to get the bats going. The pitching staff has more than shown us that they could carry this team to the playoffs if they’ll just get the run support

PMC

May 1st, 2009
3:31 pm

I’ll be shocked if he makes it to the stadium and up through the dugout with out injury. Hopefully he gets the body glide out to prevent pectoral chaffing. Hopefully he’s spending a lot more time being close to his family in Arizona since he’s so much closer to them in Houston. I guess 45 minutes of flight time was just too much for them… It’s not like he pitched in Atlanta for 2 entire years.. so I’m sure they had plenty of time to hang out toegther.

about 10 runs in 5 innings would be nice.

Gummy Bears...Bouncing here and there and everywhere....THEY ARE THE GUMMY BEARS!!!!

May 1st, 2009
3:31 pm

Can someone edit a wikipedia article on the “90s” and have it just totally relate to the Atlanta Braves….

90s are gone! Its 2009…2009!!!! IF were going to win we need to get back to the basis that is true Michael..

rich brave

May 1st, 2009
3:32 pm

WAYNE:

You don’t want to know how I REALLY feel about the lizard.

ease19

May 1st, 2009
3:32 pm

nscoots – in reference to my having asked about you living on borrowed time a couple of blogs ago…I probably confused you with nolie, but anyway, disparaging remarks were made one late night during spring training about McCann, and McFann woke the next morning with a ax in her hand looking for his head. It was funny cause the late nighters knew what was going to happen!

Wally Butts

May 1st, 2009
3:33 pm

You shold always have an asterisk next to “Hampton is starting tonight”
* If he doesn’t hurt himself warming up, if he doesn’t get hurt running on a treadmill, if he doesn’t get hurt getting dressed etc.

Chop Chop

May 1st, 2009
3:35 pm

I’ve made comments about McCann before just to get a reaction out of McFann. I’ll do a post in a minute to see if I can get a reaction out of someone.

(I just want to see if this person pays attention to what I post. Get ready for it.)

michael

May 1st, 2009
3:36 pm

Those of us who lived by every pitch through the 90s…especially after following the team through the torid 70s and 80s…will never forget the 90s. It was a recipe that won games pure and simple. Strong starting pitching + good fundamental baseball + good defense won games pure and simple.

ncscoots

May 1st, 2009
3:37 pm

ease, gotcha.

Piedmont Blues (formerly BravesFan InRockies)

May 1st, 2009
3:38 pm

Hampton can’t win tonight (oh, he might post a W, but that’s not what I mean). If he pitches well, some Braves fans will say — See, he was goldbricking all along! If he gets rocked, they’ll question Houston’s sanity in signing him. Best thing for him personally might be 5-6 IP, 3-4 ER, removed for PH (except the dude can probably still swing the bat). As I said, he can’t win.

Steve

May 1st, 2009
3:39 pm

We should’ve signed Bonds

ncscoots

May 1st, 2009
3:39 pm

michael, define “good fundamental baseball”, would you? Selective memory can be a tricky thing.

AustinBrave

May 1st, 2009
3:40 pm

where can I go on line and get the line up for tonight?

michael

May 1st, 2009
3:45 pm

ncscoots. Fundamental baseball to me is hitters working the count (discipline)and hitting to all parts of the field…not going up there swinging at the first pitch and trying to yank everything. Stealing a base when the opportunity arose. Getting runners into scoring position via a bunt…opposite field ground ball or whatever it took. Getting a runner over to 3rd base with less than 2 outs and then actually getting that runner in with a fly ball.

TnBrian

May 1st, 2009
3:45 pm

michael, “why can’t this team just go back to playing ABC baseball?” Maybe they’re just not as good as Belliard/Gant/Justice/Blauser/Grissom/Nixon and on and on. KJ and Escobar, your top of the order guys, are just plain awful at “ABC” baseball… absolutely clueless! That’s why me and 98% of the people here want a change in that lineup.

Chop Chop

May 1st, 2009
3:45 pm

You know, the biggest problem with this club is the lack of “doing the little things” and the lack of team speed. I’m glad to see that Pendleton and Chipper seem to agree that these are problems. It just pains me whenever I see Josh Anderson’s stats with the Detroit Tigers. This kid had everything we needed, folks. Look at the steals (he has 6 SB…that’s two more than our team…enough said) he’s posted this year. The guy is flat-out tearing it up.

Check out this article where Brandon Inge extols the virtues of Josh Anderson. But nooooooooo, he couldn’t play here, could he?

Look at this quote:

When asked on Sunday if Anderson reminded him of any other players, teammate Brandon Inge said yes.

“Grandy,” he replied.

Inge wasn’t referring to Curtis Granderson’s power. (Anderson doesn’t have that.) He was instead complimenting Anderson’s character and approach to baseball – virtues for which Granderson is widely known.

“I’m talking about how he enjoys the game,” Inge said. “He doesn’t let one at-bat bring him down. That’s very key…

Leyland conceded before Sunday’s game that he can’t be certain Anderson will continue swinging the bat as well as he has. But Leyland did point out that Anderson has a good track record in the minors – a .294 average in nearly 3,000 at-bats – so it’s quite possible his average could remain near .300.

“He’s done a great job,” Leyland said.

Ain’t it funny that Jim Leyland seems to be optimistic about Josh Anderson? It would be nice if we had a manager like Jim Leyland. He understands that being able to do the little things and having team speed is a big key to winning games.

Thrillhouse44

May 1st, 2009
3:46 pm

Yes, Steve, I’m all for signing players that haven’t played in a year.

C's

May 1st, 2009
3:46 pm

Good fundamental baseball – Get the bunt down when called up, >2 outs and a runner on 2nd hit behind the runner to move him up, >2 outs and a runner on 3rd hit a deep fly ball, know the situation, watch/listen to base coaches, make the routine defensive plays, etc, etc, etc…….

RC

May 1st, 2009
3:47 pm

AustinBrave,

The quickest place to get the lineup for tonight is to wait around and keep checking this blog. DOB usually posts it as soon as he’s back from the clubhouse, so that’s more than likely the first place it’ll be available. Just make sure the post is from him and not some of the others on this blog, who routinely post the lineup they WANT to see, instead of what it actually is.

Random

May 1st, 2009
3:48 pm

Chop Chop (forthcoming) –

No way!!!

Random

May 1st, 2009
3:49 pm

Oops — too slow.

michael

May 1st, 2009
3:49 pm

TnBrian

I agree with you whole heartedly. I still think “or hope” that Escobar will come around to being a good #2 hitter eventually but a change in the top two needs to be made immediately. Infante was a breath of fresh air but we all need to be prepared for Kelly and Yunel in the 1-2 position tonight unfortunately.

Random

May 1st, 2009
3:49 pm

Chop Chop (3:45 pm) –

No way!!!

Tomas

May 1st, 2009
3:51 pm

This team has some guys who can steal bases. Kelly Johnson, and Jordan Schafer, who by the way have some pretty good OBP(specially Schafer). That’s why Schafer shouldn’t bat 8th, they’re wasting his talent. But sinced his been batting 8th, he has had some opportunities, and has only attempted it once(and been succesful by the way). I don’t know if Bobby gives him the green light to steal, or he gives them the sign, but the bottom line is, Braves running game has been pathetic ever since Furcal left. He needs to steal more than he has, specially since this team is having a lot of trouble scoring runs.

Steve from OH

May 1st, 2009
3:53 pm

flange1–good post from the last blog. Well stated. I guess my whole schtick on the stolen bases thing is that I think it is a terrible idea to trade offensive output, such as average, OPS, or defensive ability, whatever, for speed. Don’t get me wrong, I love speed–when it is used properly. Speed is useless when you don’t get on base, you don’t execute, you make errors in the field, etc. And it seems like (at least to me) that the same people on this board that want so much to have more speed in the lineup are also the people who have no confidence in Bobby Cox as a manager. Now, I don’t know about you, but that makes no sense to me whatsoever. So you want more speed in the lineup, more smallball, but you want to put that speed in the hands of a manager you don’t have confidence in? Never mind the ton of statistical analysis that shows that it is awfully hard to churn out a net profit from small-ball, whether it be stolen bases, the hit and run, bunting (where there really is never any profit to be made), whatever. So this again baffles me.

Instead, I argue not necessarily for speedy baserunners (not saying I wouldn’t love to have them), but smart baserunners. Guys that can get from 1st to 3rd in situations that they should. Guys that don’t make boneheaded plays that simply give outs to the other team [looks at Yunel Escobar]. Guys that don’t necessarily steal every single time the situation calls for it, but guys that pick their spots and steal when there is a very, very high likelihood that they’ll make it (i.e. the pitcher not paying attention, middle infielders falling asleep, whatever the case may be). As an example, I would take Brian McCann’s 5-5 in stolen bases any day over Cap’n Jeter’s 11 SB/5CS and 15/8 numbers the last two seasons.

Again, I’ve got nothing against speed, though I argue against it’s effectiveness a lot. The thing I’m mostly arguing against is the fact that speed cannot make a below-average hitter (i.e. Willy Taveras, Juan Pierre, Emilio Bonifacio) good. It just doesn’t work that way. Now, give me the option between a Carlos Beltran and a Carlos Lee, well I don’t think that there should be any debate. That is where speed really floats my boat…a great player, and then he brings that extra, not singular dimension onto the field with his speed. But if you build a team around speedy players you are generally building your offense around a singular quality, a singular dimension…and good teams are going to figure out ways to defend against it all day, every day, and they’ll eat you alive. Remember, this is the BIG LEAGUES, not high school ball, and these guys on the field generally know what they’re doing. A guy’s speed isn’t going to force enough errors, enough misplays, enough whatevers to make up for his lack of other overall ability. Big league teams just aren’t going to kick the ball around like a more inexperienced team will.

dogsbrekky

May 1st, 2009
3:54 pm

Hampton………….. okay then.. will he pull a hammy whilst coughing on his way to the mound… you know he is back in the ATL

On a positive note DOBI ONE Knobi – I DVRed the Fleetwood Mac show from Palladium HD the other night… dont know if you have seen it, but ol’ Lindsay Buckingham can still fire on all 12 cylinders…. he did a great acoustic version of “Looking out for Love”..

Go Lowe and the Braves

AustinBrave

May 1st, 2009
3:54 pm

How’s the weather in Atlanta. I see you are going to get some rain. Are we going to get the game in?

Steve

May 1st, 2009
3:55 pm

Thrillhouse44 you have the all time leader in home runs sitting at the house. Pick up the phone and sign him; he’ll be good for 30 home runs.

ease19

May 1st, 2009
3:55 pm

Chop Chop – Josh’s numbers are sure to regress. If you take the relatively small sample size of his major league at bats compared to his minor league stats, you will see that is the case. Josh Anderson is a worthless outfielder with little to no upside… ;-) (I am not the one obviously, but was I close?)

RIPSkip

May 1st, 2009
3:56 pm

From the end of the last blog…

I predict that no Atlanta Brave will hit 20 HR this season. What do you guys and gals think?

Thrillhouse44

May 1st, 2009
3:57 pm

Steve, Hank Aaron is already at the ballpark; why not play him? I know what you’re saying, but the dude’s time has come and gone. If he was worth the headache, he would have signed by now (or last year).

Chop Chop

May 1st, 2009
3:57 pm

I’m just gonna set righ-chere in my boat on Lake MIB and wait for somethin’ to bite the bite of complete agreement.

Steve from OH

May 1st, 2009
4:02 pm

Thrillhouse44 you have the all time leader in home runs sitting at the house. Pick up the phone and sign him; he’ll be good for 30 home runs.

You would also have the singular worst defensive outfielder in the history of baseball. He’d give up those thirty HR and probably more with his glove. Never mind the exorbitant cost of manufacturing a hat big enough to fit his giant dome.

Steve from OH

May 1st, 2009
4:03 pm

And I mean that both literally and metaphorically.

ncscoots

May 1st, 2009
4:04 pm

michael, I thought you might have meant the fact that the Braves either led the league, or were second, in home runs every year from 92-98, and hit 197 in 99 to finish fourth in the league. I wondered how that fit in to the winning formula you stated earlier, LOL.

I’m not trying to rag on you, but, the refrain of “fundamentals” always, and I mean always, comes up when a team is struggling. It’s not the “little” things that cause the struggle, it’s usually those big old honker LARGE things that the suckers are failing at. Nobody cares about how well you bunt, if you’re tearing Mr. Spaulding a new one at six spots in the lineup. Conversely, if you aren’t hitting, doing all the “little” things right ain’t worth a bucket of spit.

Admittedly, I’m speaking of the offensive side. No excuse for sloppy defensive play (if you have a good skill set), not keeping your head in the game, that sort of thing. Agreed on that.

AustinBrave

May 1st, 2009
4:06 pm

Why not sign Edmonds, he’s still got a little pop in his bat. He’s good for 15- 20 homers.

RC

May 1st, 2009
4:06 pm

RIP Skip,

I think that both Chipper and McCann will pass 20 HR. However, both could be considered risky as far as injuries go, so while I think there will be players with over 20 HR on the team, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to say there won’t be.

SeaAtl

May 1st, 2009
4:09 pm

Reading Rogers’ article on Derek Lowe’s training regimen makes me an even bigger fan of his. I hope his work ethic and intensity, along with Chipper now being a more vocal leader in the clubhouse, can fill some of the veteran leadership void left when Smoltz chased dollars out of town.

Buffalo NY Braves Fan

May 1st, 2009
4:10 pm

RIP Skip,

There are 4 or 5 players on this team that have the ability to hit 20+ HR’s.

Chipper, McCann, Frenchy, KJ, Anderson.

There are a few question marks in there obviously, however KJ has been close to 20 before, McCann and Chipper have hit over 20 on a regular basis (Chipper for the last 14 years) and Frenchy has the ability. Anderson needs to be healthy, but I think he can get it done.

David O'Brien

May 1st, 2009
4:11 pm

Infante’s in there again, third straight game at second base and leading off.

David O'Brien

May 1st, 2009
4:13 pm

Sammons is catching, batting eighth.

Otherwise, usual lineup

mbatl

May 1st, 2009
4:15 pm

“It’s not the “little” things that cause the struggle, it’s usually those big old honker LARGE things that the suckers are failing at.” – ncscoots

Very well said.

I’m much less concerned about the 4 stolen bases than I am about the 14 runners thrown out on the basepaths (over-running bases, getting picked off, taking bad chances on tag-ups, etc). Tops in the league.

When you don’t have speed, don’t compound the problem by making stupid base-running mistakes.

David O'Brien

May 1st, 2009
4:16 pm

I take that back. It’s not usual lineup — Francoeur’s hitting cleanup

1. Infante
2. Escobar
3. Chipper
4. Francoeur
5. Kotchman
6. Diaz
7. Schafer
8. Sammons

ncscoots

May 1st, 2009
4:17 pm

Guys that don’t make boneheaded plays that simply give outs to the other team [looks at Yunel Escobar].

Ah, but he’s the same guy who made those “heady” steals in some games last year, no? Blog LOVED that s*** and put it on the bubblegum card pronto, LOL. Remember how posters raved about his game?

Kid had a bad couple of weeks on the bases, though, no argument. Which I will promptly forget, if he doesn’t do it again.

Erin

May 1st, 2009
4:17 pm

DOB

Thanks for the info on Ligtenberg. He was one of my favorite Braves in high school.

Interested Observer

May 1st, 2009
4:18 pm

Is there something wrong with Ross? I thought Bobby had said with the offdays that Ross could probably play until BMac got back.

The_Superhoo (Montana by way of Virginia)

May 1st, 2009
4:18 pm

BOO THIS MAN!

My prediction is that he pulls his groin in the bullpen pre-game and goes on the 60-Day DL.

Gary

May 1st, 2009
4:18 pm

Ligtenberg has a degree in chemical engineering? …wow. impressive.

Steve McP

May 1st, 2009
4:19 pm

If Josh Anderson had stayed here out of ST, how many of the people on this blog would be maintaining that the Braves were hopeless because they were unwilling to take a chance on the new guy and pointing out how Anderson’s fielding and hitting was inferior to Schafer who played best in ST (which is why Schafer got the job and Anderson did not).

Steve McP

May 1st, 2009
4:20 pm

By the way I was one those who voted in the polls on the blog to have Anderson start in the OF and I was in a minority as I recall.

Macon Braves (RIP)

May 1st, 2009
4:20 pm

The double play machine in the two hole again……

michael

May 1st, 2009
4:21 pm

nscoots, You made my point for me. This team will not lead or come in 2nd in homeruns this year…that much is obvious. Do you remember how many one run games this team lost last year. In close ballgames… getting the bunt down or moving the runner means everything…I’m sure you will admit to that. I will disagree with you however when you say the doing all the “little” things right ain’t worth a bucket of spit when you offense is struggling. At least you are putting your team in more positions to score…but it’s still up to the offense to make it happen.

RIPSkip

May 1st, 2009
4:22 pm

I agree several have the ability to hit 20, but I don’t think anyone will…not this year.

DAM

May 1st, 2009
4:24 pm

there’s really not much of an excuse for keeping schafer at the bottom of the lineup anymore. so he strikes out more than you’d like from a leadoff hitter. obviously, chipper has the highest OBP of all the regulars (.420). who’s second? schafer at .415. the only other normal starter who’s even close is kotchman at .376.

i don’t know what bobby is thinking here. maybe he’s going senile? all i know is i can live with a few extra strikeouts for a .415 OBP and speed from the leadoff spot.

Efrim

May 1st, 2009
4:27 pm

Steve from OH- excellent post at 3:53pm. Good read and I agree, 100%.

Infante again? Wow. I guess Bobby feels that Kelly needs an extended break away from second base. Hopefully he can get his job back, at some point.

DAM

May 1st, 2009
4:27 pm

also, schafer has 7 more walks than anyone else on the team (16). he takes a lot of pitches and appears to have an outstanding eye. several of his strikeouts have come after he got absolutely reamed with a terrible strike call. being young, he lost composure, and proceeded to strikeout. he’ll grow out of that and learn how to deal with a bad call here and there.

McFann Ô

May 1st, 2009
4:27 pm

TnBrian

Yeah, it’s what he gets paid to do. But it’s still nice to know people appreciate your work, I’m sure. Just like to let ‘im know.

ease19 etc……It was funny cause the late nighters knew what was going to happen!

Heh heh… :D

Chop Chop I’ve made comments about McCann before just to get a reaction out of McFann.

Oh yeah. :P

Tomas

May 1st, 2009
4:28 pm

Why is Kelly not in the lineup again today? 3 straight days of rest is not normal, he is either battling an injury, or he lost the starting job because he is in a slump and Infante isn’t.

DawgFan

May 1st, 2009
4:28 pm

This team needs Richie Sexson. I hope he signs.

dogsbrekky

May 1st, 2009
4:29 pm

I lol at anyone who claims mlb numbers (in the case of Josh Anderson) do not matter and that said player/s will revert to minor league numbers over time… MLB is full of players who spent minimal time in the minor leagues or who had poor numbers and turned into stars..

This type of argument is the same as those who cling to old company balance sheets and profit numbers and ignore the CURRENT DATA at their own peril

Reality is that Josh Anderson is hitting 300 (again), swiping bases and playing okay outfield… we have a similar talent in CF now with a bit more power and a better OBP

Tomas

May 1st, 2009
4:33 pm

John Smoltz has a dead arm, now his expected June return is looking less realistic. Thank you Wren for using common sense, the least common of the senses.

C's

May 1st, 2009
4:33 pm

Better question……why WOULDN’T Infante be in the lineup. He’s our hottest hitter right now and he’s taking the place of our coldest hitter since they play the same position. It’s not rocket science.

I could see him in LF, but he needs to be in there somewhere.

David O'Brien

May 1st, 2009
4:33 pm

Contacts didn’t work for Mac, who’s wearing glasses now, will try to play wearing glasses for first time in his life. He’s gonna try to play with a pair of Oakleys worn under a hockey-type facemask/helmet. Will rehab at Gwinnett with it, see what happens. Surgery is last resort if this doesn’t work out.

Macon Braves (RIP)

May 1st, 2009
4:36 pm

Got a feeling all those smiles McFann just threw out a minute ago just turned upside down :-(

ncscoots

May 1st, 2009
4:36 pm

Do you remember how many one run games this team lost last year. In close ballgames… getting the bunt down or moving the runner means everything

LOL, brother, that’s why you try not to play close games!

Seriously, I understand what you are saying, but “small ball” is not the same as “fundamentally sound”, and I think that’s where folks get off track. Giving up outs in an effort to score minimal runs, when you are in fact having trouble scoring runs, compounds the felony.

I’m not talking about tactical situations in which a single run may be enough to win (I always have to put that disclaimer in before 4000 posts on 9th inning bunts come flying in), but rather relying on such tactics as an offensive strategy. That’s just bucking house odds, and casinos stay open for a reason.

so, if we’re talking actual fundamentals of the game, I agree with you, naturally. If you equate fundamentals with small-ball as an ongoing strategy, not so much, probably.

Tomas

May 1st, 2009
4:37 pm

I prefer Frenchy batting cleanup. His been a great run producer this year, and every year before last year, he has limit his strikeouts, and he has more power than Kotchman. And Kotchman has just 4-5 RBI’s, and always seems to popout or stike out in key situations, plus his absence of power is causing teams to pitch around Chipper.

dogsbrekky

May 1st, 2009
4:38 pm

Dobi – if the Braves medical staff had half a brain between them (the last 3 years) they would realise that McCann should have just had the operation (again) immediately and then he would have been back within a month…….. at this rate he will have trouble all early summer

Run Heap Run

May 1st, 2009
4:38 pm

I became a true Braves fan in ‘91. My then husband had always watched them and my grandparents had always watched them and I even went to a few games in the late 80’s. I sort of grew up with a Braves game on in the background although I never paid much attention to it until one night in 1991 when I looked up from feeding my newborn son to see David Justice hit a 2 run homer in Cincy, my husband was going NUTS…it was so contagious that I jumped on the bandwagon and still haven’t let go.

We lived in Athens at the time and even in a football town Braves mania was everywhere. It was like baseball in Boston is now…EVERYONE was talking about the Braves and everyone was a Braves fan. If only they could somehow capture that 90’s magic again the butts in seats someone on the last blog referred to would take care of itself. :)

Ah well…until then – Go Braves!

Supes

May 1st, 2009
4:39 pm

This current Braves lineup is extremely flawed and no wonder the team is struggling to score runs.

That’s on Wren and Bobby.

Wren left this team without a prototypical lead off hitter, and a legit power hitting 4 hole hitter.

Bobby is refusing to arrange the lineup order that would maximize the team’s current capabalities.

It should be

1. Schafer CF
2. Infante 2B (or Kelly, depending on match up)
3. Jones 3B
4. B-Mac (when healthy, when not…bat Ross here regardless)
5. Jeff RF
6. Kotchman 1B
7. Yunel SS
8. Brandon Jones LF (or Diaz depending on match up)

ncscoots

May 1st, 2009
4:39 pm

MLB is full of players…who had poor numbers [in the minors] and turned into stars..

Name 10.

KC

May 1st, 2009
4:41 pm

DAMNIT!!!!! I was really hoping these contacts would work (as was Brian McCann and every other Braves fan). Well… I hope these glasses work for him. We’ve got to have Mac in the lineup and at 100%!!!!!!

But if he has to have surgery, let’s get it done quickly and get that out of the way. If he had surgery tomorrow and missed 2 weeks in recovery, he will have effectively missed 6 weeks of the season. That sucks, but let’s just get this damned problem fixed already!!!

AustinBrave

May 1st, 2009
4:41 pm

Japan won the last two World Classic’s by playing small ball. I think every team needs it, but we need power also. We have been getting hits and walks, just not timely hits and walks. We need to put the pressure on the other team.

Steve from OH

May 1st, 2009
4:42 pm

dogsb–I’m betting that the Braves’ medical staff does in fact know what they’re doing. There is probably a lot going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. He’s also seen several specialists that appartently haven’t recommended the surgery, keep in mind.

Efrim–thanks, man.

MFin04

May 1st, 2009
4:43 pm

Bobby is reallly slow to figure out the lineup. Seems he will only switch up one guy at a time. The correct lineup will show up it 7-8 days lol. Good to see someone else in the 4th spot. McCann in glasses…lol someone called it earlier on the blog…thats funny. He really should’ve had the corrective surgery if that would have fixed it.

Run Heap Run

May 1st, 2009
4:44 pm

And somebody HAS to get a photo of Mac in glasses.

If he’s gonna have to have lasik I want him to have it tomorrow. Tonight after the game if possible.

McFann Ô

May 1st, 2009
4:45 pm

Wow…I…I…um…I don’t know quite what to…um…O…K…

It…well, it…um…uh…

chipperchop

May 1st, 2009
4:46 pm

Now that is one crappy lineup.

DAP

May 1st, 2009
4:46 pm

i was kind of hoping KJ would be in there tonight after three days off, plus he has hit lefties grea tthis year. im also disappointed ross inst catching, but he needs days off too, so…..

PWHjort

May 1st, 2009
4:47 pm

Righty, Righty, (Switch hitter batting) Righty, Righty, Lefty, Righty, Lefty, Righty.

Thrillhouse44

May 1st, 2009
4:48 pm

So, is BMac’s eye not dry and irritated anymore? I assume since he’s just wearing glasses, the vision is the only thing wrong with his eye right now. Anyone know for sure?

KC

May 1st, 2009
4:48 pm

Supes, I agree with you on putting Schafer up in the leadoff spot. However, with Schafer leading off, Escobar is an ideal #2 hitter.

Because of Escobar’s league leading ground-ball ratio and reasonably good ability to make contact, Schafer/Escobar is a PERFECT hit-and-run combo. If Schafer reaches, you can let him steal, have Escobar bunt him over, or hit and run.

Also, the opposing first-baseman can’t cheat off the bag with Schafer on. He MUST hold Schafer close to the bag, which helps create a truer hole on the right side of the infield, which works well with Escobar’s ability to go the other way with the ball.

As far as KJ is concerned, he has clearly displayed that he’s most comfortable hitting down in the order. 7th is a perfect place for Johnson.

When healthy, this should be the lineup, IMO:

1 – Schafer
2 – Escobar
3 – Jones
4 – McCann
5 – Francoeur
6 – Anderson
7 – Johnson
8 – Kotchman

Tomas

May 1st, 2009
4:48 pm

Why is surgery McCann’s last option? Instead of fixing his problem for good, he’s still trying new contacts, and now glasses. If he has surgery, I think he needs to wait two weeks, he should have had it when he was placed on the DL.

Kenny Powers

May 1st, 2009
4:49 pm

Kenny Powers has been a busy man of late. Not able to blog with my usual tiger like ferocity. Im f’in back though folks which means some of you are f’in out.

Smithoma

May 1st, 2009
4:49 pm

MIKE HAMPTON OWES ME MONEY!

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