Heyward taking too many pitches? Watch your tongue

ST. LOUIS – In case you’d been away awhile and weren’t fully informed regarding Jason Heyward’s popularity in Atlanta and across Braves Nation,  check the volume and tone of  comments on this blog and elsewhere since Bobby Cox commented late Tuesday night that Heyward is taking “way too many pitches.”

You would have thought he said Hank Aaron and Dale Murphy were overrated, judging by the indignation and outrage that so many fans expressed since Cox’s comments hit this space near midnight, after the Braves’ seventh consecutive loss.

To me, the reaction of fans to Cox’s comment was not just a reflection of people’s genuine adoration of the franchise’s budding superstar, but also the disappointment and anger that many have over the current losing streak, the Braves’ longest since a 10-game slide in June 2006.

When subject is Heyward, be prepared for debate. Braves fans don't take kindly to criticism of their phenom.

When subject is Heyward, be prepared for debate. Braves fans don't take kindly to criticism of phenom.

Expectations and hopes were so high after Heyward and Co. led the majors in several offensive categories during spring training, then pounded the Cubs in a 12-run, 16-hit offensive burst on Opening Day that included a three-run homer by Heyward on literally his first major league swing. By the way, that homer came on a 2-0 pitch from Carlos Zambrano, who’s since been demoted to the bullpen.

How many 2-0 counts has Heyward faced in the past couple of weeks? Not many.

I think that’s the point that Cox was trying to make last night. It’s not that the Braves want Heyward to lose the patience that is one of his greatest assets and one of the things that got him to the majors at age 20, with only about 200 plate appearances above A-ball.

It’s not that at all. It’s that they don’t want him to be exploited by pitchers who know he’s so patient that he won’t swing at many first-pitch strikes, at anything that’s not over the plate. And they also know that, regardless of how much respect Heyward already has around baseball, most umpires are still going to treach him like a rookie – i.e., he’s not going to get some of the close calls that a Chipper Jones might get on a pitch a half-inch off the plate.

Pitchers have learned that Heyward is going to lay off the first pitch. He has swung at only eight of 81 first pitches, a lower rate (9.9 percent) than the entire National League except for Martin Prado (7.7 percent), David Eckstein (8.3) and Chase Utley (9.6).

Heyward has taken 65.1 percent of the pitches he’s seen, eighth-most in the NL on a list that notably includes only established veterans ahead of him.

Getting behind in counts on a consistent basis is not something that works for many top hitters, so it’s a fine line of being patient and taking a lot of pitches, and being patient but swinging at some hittable strikes early in counts, or protecting the plate with two strikes and an umpire that’s probably not going to give you many calls.

Ask Kelly Johnson about how the disciplined, ultra-patient approach worked for him as a rookie. I can remember a conversation with him about this same scenario, where he was so frustrated because he kept getting rung up on called third strikes that were pitches he’d seen called balls against Chipper, sometimes in the same game.

Kelly Johnson was an ultra-patient Braves rookie hitter who found out he wouldn't get many close calls.

Kelly Johnson was an ultra-patient Braves rookie hitter who found out he wouldn't get many close calls.

Patience is always a positive for a hitter, but that fine line must be worked out. Because getting behind in counts again and again, that doesn’t work for many top hitters. Prado is an exception, not the rule. Utley is Utley, an established star.

By the way, in two-strike counts Prado is hitting .304 (14-for-36) with 12 strikeouts and an .833 OPS. Heyward is hitting .111 (5-for-45) with 25 strikeouts and a .349 OPS in two-strike counts, including the bases-loaded strikeout looking to end the seventh inning Tuesday night with the Braves down 5-4.

If you missed the comments from Cox, and the subsequent comments from Chipper defending Heyward, here’s the link to the story I posted after last night’s game: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2010/04/28/cox-heyward-taking-way-too-many-pitches/comment-page-3/#comment-506429

Nobody in the Braves organization wants to reshape Heyward and have him up there hacking away at most first pitches. But if he sees a down-the-middle fastball on the first pitch, or a first-pitch, get-me-over breaking ball, a hanger over the plate, they think it might help him to be ready to swing.

Right now, pitchers are fairly certain he won’t, and they don’t fear throwing those pitches. Later in counts, on 2-2 or 3-2, they have a pretty good idea he’s not going to swing at, say, a fastball knee high on the outer part of the plate.

They’ve made adjustments, and now it’s time for Heyward to adjust, which the Braves are certain he can and will. He did already once this year, when Giants pitchers got him to fish for a lot of breaking balls in the dirt and pitches out of the zone.

He responded to an 0-for-5, four-strikeout game April 9 at San Francisco by hitting .429 (9-for-21) with two homers, seven RBI, five walks and five strikeouts in his next six games, for a .538 OBP and .810 slugging percentage. The Braves won four of those six.

However in 10 games since then, he’s 3-for-29 with one homer, four RBI, seven walks and 12 strikeouts, for a .297 OBP and .207 slugging. The Braves have lost eight of those 10.

During the current seven-game losing streak, Heyward is 1-for-20 with four walks and eight strikeouts.

It’s not fair to put so much on a 20-year-old rookie, but it really does seem, so far at least, that as Heyward goes, so go the Braves. Because they’re not getting much except good OBPs from Chipper and even from Brian McCann, as of yet.

So until one or both of them step up, and/or Troy Glaus and Melky Cabrera begin to even remotely resemble the players the Braves thought (hoped?) they were getting, and Nate McLouth starts to play more like the 2008-vintage McLouth and less like the one the Braves have had since trading from him, well, much is going to fall on the ample shoulders of Heyward.

Speaking of slumping players, I asked GM Frank Wren this afternoon if he cared to comment about the likelihood of making a move anytime soon, since so many readers here have asked me. His answer was exactly what I thought it’d be, and what I’ve told e-mailers and commenters here who’ve asked me my opinion. In a nutshell, oo early.

Wren responded via e-mail:  “It’s unlikely any team would make a major move at this time with their roster. It’s just 20 games and there are alot of players well under their norms and other players well over. We will continue to watch and look to improve our club whenever possible.”

He added that he wished the Braves had a couple of those producing above their established norm right now.

It’s worth noting, for all the discussion and hand-wringing, Heyward still leads the Braves with 16 RBI, five more than any other major league rookie, and still leads the Braves with four homers, more than any other rookie.

He’s really good. Was, is, and will be.

Just one other thing: Remember the talk this winter and spring about having Matt Diaz and Cabrera in the lineup together some days against particularly tough or tricky lefties, to give Heyward a break now and then? We didn’t make that up; it was discussed. Only it hasn’t happened, surely in large part because Diaz and Cabrera have been so bad and Heyward so dynamic.

Still, it’s worth noting that Heyward has played every game and faced more lefties than anyone on the team. He’s batting .182 (4-for-22) with four walks and 10 strikeouts against lefties. (Cabrera is 2-for-22 against them; like I said, there’s a reason Heyward’s playing every day.)

♣ Bow to the great OBP: All those who point to on-base percentage as being so much more important than batting average and RBI and just about everything else, I’ve got a question. Does Chipper’s .420 OBP indicate he’s having a good season?

♣ Spring sprung, averages plummeted: Remember way back in March, when the Braves were tearing up the Grapefruit League, leading the majors in several offensive categories and running out lineups with a handful of guys hitting .400 and higher?

Well, the Braves’ lineup Tuesday had position players with these averages: .191, .392, .255, .255, .210, .234, .175 and .159.

Like an old scout told me in my first year on the baseball beat, never put much stock in stats for spring training or September callups.

RobynHitchcock

“WHAT YOU IS” by Robyn Hitchcock

You might have been a villain

with a capital ”V”.

You might have had a plane to catch

and left your family.

It doesn’t matter what you was,

it’s what you is.

And what you is

is what you are.

You might have been a midwife

trying to help somebody in.

You might have been a Cardinal

with an A to Zed of skin.

Open up your window…

…honey let me in

You might have been Columbia

releasing orange 45s.

(”Hot As Steeeeeeeel”)

You might have been the empress bee

in her furry little hive.

(”Buzz Buzz”)

All the other bees:

”It doesn’t matter what you was,

it’s what you is.

And what you is

is what you are.”

Well you’ve got to come from somewhere

but you don’t have to go back there…

…anymore.

Hey!

You might have been the police

knock knock knocking at the door.

You might have been a nice young man

on a nice young floor.

It doesn’t matter what you was,

it’s what you is.

And what you is

is what you are.

One more, yeah.

It doesn’t matter what you was,

or what you is.

And what you is

is what you are.

You might be looking innocent

mmmm…deep inside you’re not.

You might be feeling guilty

just a little not a lot.

It doesn’t matter what you was,

it’s what you is.

And what you is

is what you are.

Yeah!

Hey…hey, hey.

Hey…hey, hey.

Hey…hey, hey.

Hey, hey.

1,801 comments Add your comment

CraZyTRaDeMaN

April 28th, 2010
4:32 pm

Soph

April 28th, 2010
4:33 pm

Thanks, DOB – nice blog.

Glen W

April 28th, 2010
4:34 pm

Reposting from previous blog:

NY-CITI,
I’ll say it again. The Mets have had a serious advantage in that they have done little traveling. They have played 6 whole games on the road, and they were back-to-back series in STL and COL. To compare, the Phillies will play their 15th road game tonight.
CITI field neutralizes the power that other teams have and makes the Mets, without much power a more competitive team. It’s great when you can make your ballpark work in your favor. But, gee, I wonder what’s going to happen when the Mets take that pitching staff on the road and when the Phillies take their lineup back to their bandbox of a stadium.
Don’t get too excited. The Mets are playing their 11th game in a row at home today… a huge advantage especially early in the season.
FYI, the Mets have allowed 4.5 runs per game on the road compared to 2.8 runs per game at home.

ManOfTeal

April 28th, 2010
4:36 pm

Overrated…..clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. The Braves and the Mets are having opposite streaks. Braves = EPIC FAIL!!!!

McFann Ô

April 28th, 2010
4:38 pm

Perfect timing on the new Blog–thanks, Chief!

Because they’re not getting much except good OBPs from Chipper and even from Brian McCann, as of yet.

Tell me about it. :roll:

ugaaccountant

April 28th, 2010
4:40 pm

Does Chipper’s .420 OBP indicate he’s having a good season?

Yes. That and his .866 show he is having a good offensive season. Not great league wide, but 2nd best on the team to Prado and realistically good measured against most peoples definition of “good”. For instance his OBP and OPS are higher than McCann’s for one.

Jeremy

April 28th, 2010
4:41 pm

I think it would serve Heyward well to get tonight off against the lefty…especially because tomorrow’s game will begin about 14 hours after tonight’s ends!!!

And while we’re on the subject of the struggling outfield, why haven’t Eric Hinske or Omar Infante gotten a shot in LF yet? They’ve both played there in recent years. I would LOVE to see Infante out there against lefties (LIKE TONIGHT!) and Diaz in RF.

LC

April 28th, 2010
4:42 pm

My problem with Cox’s comments is that I didn’t see the need for him to make them publicly. They have talked so long about how young he is and how they don’t want to put him a position to fail regularly. So they bat him 7th when there is perfectly good reasoning to put him higher in the lineup, but then he publicly calls him out for taking too many strikes.

If Cox was a manager that did this regularly, it wouldn’t be an issue. However, he rarely rarely says anything about a particular player’s production or lack there of. To do so with just a 20 year old kid is just inexcusable to me and completely unnecessary. Call him into your office and let him know you want him to be more aggressive, but don’t tell the media he’s taking too many strikes.

If you’re going to do that, why not call out McLouth and Melky for very rarely making solid contact, or McCann for barely producing so far out of the cleanup spot. I just think they make all this fuss about how he is a 20 year old kid, and I don’t understand how this is helpful in the least to his development. Cannot wait to see Cox and the rest of this administration go. What this franchise needs is some new blood in the dugout and the front office.

TnBrian

April 28th, 2010
4:42 pm

Damn, I just looked up all the different muscles in the body and Chipper has way more new muscles to tear or pull before he’s got ‘em all covered. If I were a betting man, I’d say he gets to more than half of those before he retires. He’s already torn, ripped or pulled most of them. You can do it, Gimper.

McFann Ô

April 28th, 2010
4:44 pm

LC or McCann for barely producing…out of the cleanup spot.

Hey, I got that one covered ALL by myself…

Marc in FL

April 28th, 2010
4:44 pm

Cox didn’t even say anything negative about Heyward, he was just pointing out the obvious like he does everything else. Jesus you people are slow.

Hat Land Dub Raves

April 28th, 2010
4:44 pm

DOB,
The .420 OBP is good, but obviously you’d like to see more power from him. He’s hitting a lot of line drives, though. Maybe those will start falling/finding gaps soon to increase that slugging percentage. I think he can still get to 20 homers if he stays relatively healthy. I don’t knowwhy we should expect much more than that, though. He hasn’t hit more than 30 in almost 10 years.

TnBrian

April 28th, 2010
4:45 pm

LC, if Heyward gets so affected by Bobby publicly saying he needs to be more aggressive on K’s, than he’s a lot softer than what 99% of people thought he was. And I doubt all those people are wrong on his mental toughness. God, find something else to whine about people, like CJ. He’s always a good target these days.

Glen W

April 28th, 2010
4:45 pm

I would also point out that other teams that are supposed to contend are having issues that are going to persist longer and manifest themselves in some potentially tough ways.

The Rockies have put Hamel and de la Rosa on the DL and Greg Smith got hit hard today. That’s going to be a pretty tough problem to solve.

The Dodgers have lost Padilla and Ramirez to the DL.

A team that has a talented, completely healthy pitching staff is going to win plenty of games over the long just on that advantage alone.

If we start hitting at all, the wind will start coming.

N8

April 28th, 2010
4:46 pm

I think it’s really sad to the state of the rest of the lineup, when you can clearly see that he’s had his hand in (either way) the wins or the losses.

All winter, I stated that the Braves would go as Chipper goes. Never really thought that each game would hinge on our 20 year old 6th place hitter.

Come on veterans! STEP YOUR GAMES UP!!!! Give the kid a break.

Lew

April 28th, 2010
4:46 pm

It’s long been said that the first pitch you see may be the best one you’ll see all at bat. Can’t let that fat pitch down the middle ride – though I’ve seen Nate do just that at least twice recently.

Glen W

April 28th, 2010
4:46 pm

*If we start hitting at all, the wins will start coming.

TnBrian

April 28th, 2010
4:46 pm

Who bats cleanup right now if not McCann? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

RC

April 28th, 2010
4:46 pm

In the last blog, All Seeing Eye pointed out that McCann’s defense would keep the Braves from winning a World Series because a team can’t win the WS with a defensive liability at catcher, in his words.

To that I respond:

Jorge Posada

Andrew

April 28th, 2010
4:47 pm

Jordon Shaffer started out just like heyward did, Having hot numbers then he started to fall apart just like Heyward is doing. So whats the difference??? When Shaffer started falling apart everyone wanted him to be sent down to AAA but with Heyward struggling everyone is still on him like hes the rookie of the year!! Come on people, Get a life.

Braves fan in Duluth

April 28th, 2010
4:48 pm

OBP is by far the most important statistic that is still easily trackable(which is why OPS is flawed, OBP is more valuable than slugging so putting them on the same scale makes no sense whatsoever. the triple slash should be used instead)it’s just that nobody is doing anything behind Chipper to get him in. He gets on base all the time putting us in a good position to score, but the guys behind him can’t bring him in. OBP measures the effectiveness of a hitter to NOT make an out which in effect is the best possible outcome. Don’t lose faith in OBP because our lineup has been horrible for the first part. I enjoy reading your blogs though, DOB!

N8

April 28th, 2010
4:49 pm

It’s a fine line Lew. Obviously, it required the hitter to remain balanced and have a good idea of the strike zone. Otherwise you risk becoming Francouerian at the plate. :-)

Anybody want a friendly wager, that with the national coverage, and Cox’s comments, that the first pitch Heyward sees tonight is a breaking ball well out of the strike zone?

Not a chance in hell, he gets a “grooved” fastball, or a “get over” breaking pitch for strike one. Or do you think otherwise?

RC

April 28th, 2010
4:49 pm

ugaaccountant, I agree that Chipper’s stats would indicate he’s having a good hitting season, when in the game. If he’s not having a good season it would be due to a)missing games due to injury and b)poor defense, neither of which is measured by OBP, or should be. If everyone one the team had a .400 OBP, the Braves would definitely be scoring more runs than they currently are.

ncscoots

April 28th, 2010
4:49 pm

So whats the difference???

Other than a broken wrist and 40 pounds of muscle, LOL?

Lew

April 28th, 2010
4:50 pm

Lc – Kind of funny, actually. Just watched the past tqo nights on Cardinals’ TV on Extra Innibngs. Both nights Al Hrabosky has been bitching and moaning about how BObby needs to bat Heyward 7th or 8th because 5th is too much pressure.

No matter what Bobby does…….. There’s always going to be someone complaining (nt that I’m saying that’s what You’re doing). What’s obvious to one is a mystery to others. Probably why Bobby does things the way he does them and probably doesn’t listen to the furor over his decisions.

LC

April 28th, 2010
4:50 pm

Don’t get me wrong, I would love a manager that called out his players more often. But Cox never has, so why start now with a 20 year old kid who has been one of your best hitters this year. Without Heyward we’d be sitting at 5 or 6 wins instead of 8.

If Cox did this consistently, I’d have no problem with it. I just don’t see the need to do it with Heyward. He will be fine. If they want him to be more aggressive then just let him know behind closed doors. Obviously it may not affect him negatively, but even if it doesn’t, it was still unnecessary to make the comments to the media.

Like I said, I would love it Cox would finally call out McLouth, Melky, etc. But he never will, so why even create the possibility of fan anger and Heyward pressing by saying this publicly.

Also, DOB, even vintage Nate McLouth is only a .240-.250 hitter with medium power. That still won’t help much.

Shaun

April 28th, 2010
4:50 pm

“All those who point to on-base percentage as being so much more important than batting average and RBI and just about everything else, I’ve got a question. Does Chipper’s .420 OBP indicate he’s having a good season?”

DOB, I don’t know about good but it’s certainly not a bad season or even a mediocre season.

What is making it sub par (for Chipper) is not the OBP, it’s the SLG. Just because OBP is more important than pretty much any other single stat out there that’s easily accessible and easy to understand, doesn’t mean it’s the only stat that matters. There is a difference between importance and completeness. OBP is not the complete measure of a hitter but it is the most important (as far as easily accessible stats go) . But there are other important stats.

Batting average is someone important and telling but it’s not close to OBP or SLG. Actually it basically only measures a single aspect of OBP and assumes all hits are equal in terms of bases gained.

You can just about throw RBI out the window. They are like wins or saves for pitchers. They are a stat that tells us more about opportunity than ability.

To sum it up, Chipper is doing okay and would be doing better if he was hitting for more power.

RC

April 28th, 2010
4:51 pm

Ryan Howard just caught up with Heyward in HR for the season :) Seemed worth pointing out.

Roland Office Worker

April 28th, 2010
4:52 pm

I have to agree with LC. I am sure Heyward can handle the publicity but it is so out of character for Bobby Cox to air out these type of things in the press. You think maybe he is feeling a little pressure too?

Lew

April 28th, 2010
4:52 pm

Nathan – You’re likely right. Dude may not even see a fastball all night.

ncscoots

April 28th, 2010
4:52 pm

Not a chance in hell, he gets a “grooved” fastball, or a “get over” breaking pitch for strike one. Or do you think otherwise?

If not, then Bobby’s ploy has worked, LOL, and Heyward is ahead in the count.

But I’d bet he gets one in the first pitch of the second AB, or third. Teams aren’t going to throw away the scouting report until Heyward soils it.

Realist

April 28th, 2010
4:53 pm

How many 2-0 counts has Jason Heyward seen? Well, DOB, you could look it up, or you could just ask rhetorically and assume the answer is “not that many.”

The answer is 17 since his first at bat. That’s 17 in 80 plate appearances, or 21% of the time, and it’s ELEVENTH-BEST in the National League. Heyward is getting good counts and that means he will get good pitches to hit, which over time will be a good thing.

N8

April 28th, 2010
4:54 pm

“Jordon Shaffer started out just like heyward did, Having hot numbers then he started to fall apart just like Heyward is doing. So whats the difference???”

What’s the difference? Schafer couldn’t make contactt and had horribly weak swings due to his broken hand (that nobody knew about). Heyward is taking too many pitches, and has only once (facing Tim Lincecum), looked brutally off balance and bad at the plate.

Schafer looked bad for almost a month. To the point of feeling sorry for him, more than being angry. He looked lost.

Do you really think Heyward looks lost? His greatest strength (his patience) is killing him right now.

I’ll tell you what the difference is. He was light years ahead of his competition in the minors. He could afford to get behind in the count against minor league pitchers that were intimidated of HIM. Big League pitchers aren’t that easily scared. As DOB stated. They’ve adjusted (something I’m guessing he didn’t see too much of in the minors)…

Now it’s his turn to. I suspect he’ll be A.O.K. when all is said and done.

What’s the difference. he he… What’s with this friggin guy? (typed in a horrible Philly accent)

Lew

April 28th, 2010
4:54 pm

Nathan – Or is that about to become McLouthian (sounds kind of like a Scottish district).

DAP

April 28th, 2010
4:54 pm

DOB Does Chipper’s .420 OBP indicate he’s having a good season?

id answer that by saying, its REALLY hard (probably impossible) to have a BAD season if you are OBPing .420.

Shaun

April 28th, 2010
4:54 pm

Here’s a thought: For those who want to play around with batting orders, why not Chipper batting second or even leading off. I know it will never happen but you know he’s good for a .400+ OBP. And his power has dropped off quite a bit since Opening Day of last year.

All Seeing Eye

April 28th, 2010
4:54 pm

To that I respond:

Jorge Posada

The Yanks had a much better team w/Posada than the Braves do now.

dap01

April 28th, 2010
4:54 pm

Does anyone have any confidence in any coach from the Braves giving advice? We suck!

nelson

April 28th, 2010
4:55 pm

fire cox,trade escobar,melky, lowe and mc clouth ,glaus u sucks

Suicidaire

April 28th, 2010
4:56 pm

Im not giving up on the season, and I don’t Heyward should change his approach, but you’re absolutely right. As Heyward goes, so goes the Braves. He doesn’t need to be Frenchy aggressive, but he does need to destroy pitches that are over the plate; even 1st pitches. Punish pitchers for trying to slip in a cheap strike.

Oh, and go get Adrian Gonzalez and lock him up! I’m sure a package of Freeman and a pitcher or 2 would get him.

N8

April 28th, 2010
4:57 pm

“Oh, and go get Adrian Gonzalez and lock him up! I’m sure a package of Freeman and a pitcher or 2 would get him.”

Yup. You’re right. I’m sure Freeman, Hanson and JJJ would do the trick just fine.

Uh…. no thanks.

TnBrian

April 28th, 2010
4:58 pm

LC, Bobby deosn’t call out Nate or Melky because he knows they suck. Heyward is a special player and he knows he can handle anything already at the age of 20. Nate or Melky, especially Nate Dawg, will probably go cry in a corner somewhere bumpin some Britney Spears so help console him.

bruce mac

April 28th, 2010
4:58 pm

Uncle Festiss needs to worry about that overpaid fat azz Glaus and The Milk Man and the mental error waiting to happen Escobar. McClouth’s pitiful approach at the plate. Then get the boys out and teach them some of the fundementals like tagging up on fly balls, hitting the cut off man, throwing to the base on steals, hit and run, basic bunting skills, etc. Uncle Festiss is too busy giving Albert a $50 Million a year recommendation. The year is over, Braves Suck, period.

N8

April 28th, 2010
4:59 pm

Shaun, I’ve been bringing up chipper batting 2nd for almost 6 months and NOBODY wants to hear it. Hell, if Chipper, Glaus, McCann and Escobar were hitting for power, I’d be for batting Heyward leadoff to get this offense rolling.

Keep fighting the good fight though… I APPRECIATE IT.

Realist

April 28th, 2010
4:59 pm

Also, DOB, I can’t believe you used Kelly Johnson as an example after the results he posted in ATL. As commented on your other blog, KJ’s pitches per plate appearance went down every year in atlanta, and so did his OPS. Now he goes to Arizona, he is tearing it up, and his pitches/PA are at an all-time high. KJ is the poster child for why you shouldn’t ask a patient hitter to swing more.

TnBrian

April 28th, 2010
5:00 pm

But Melky has looked pretty good the last few days, so maybe the word suck shouldn’t apply to him right now. My bad.

LC

April 28th, 2010
5:01 pm

That’s my problem TNbrian. Heyward is a beast and will be a beast no matter what Bobby Cox has to say. So why say anything at all when you do nothing with the players that have been consistently awful all year.

He’s never called out Chipper for struggling at the plate, and we can both agree that Bobby doesn’t know that Chipper sucks.

brian

April 28th, 2010
5:01 pm

Heyward is going to be fine. I have no doubt about that. Great blog by DOB.

Heyward just needs to adjust. Once he crushes a first pitch a couple of times the pitchers will be hesitant early on in the count. Then Heyward and his great eye can use patience to get ahead in the count for once. Heyward probably does need to mildly expand his strike zone to meet what the umps are calling on him, especially with 2 strikes. The last thing Heyward needs to do is to press and start free swinging/swinging at bad pitches. Once Heyward sends a first pitch strike 450 feet and then another one off the wall word will get around.

Baseball is a game of adjustments. Heyward has all the talent in the world and has shown that he can make adjustments in the past. He will now and in the future

Jay

April 28th, 2010
5:01 pm

i like J-Hey just as much as the next Braves fan. However, it’s hysterical that our fans are so quick to dismiss decades of experience (and winning) on Cox’s part, as soon as he dares criticize the latest savior of the organization (although, obviously Heyward is in a completely different class than Franceour). What makes the fans’ reaction so humorous is that Cox was right according to most impartial observers. I hate to mix knowledge with opinions, but anyone who hasn’t opened their eyes during Heyward’s at-bats can just read this:
http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=nl&qual=y&type=5&season=2010&month=0
Some of the anger of Braves fans is justified when it comes to the anemic offense. I just wish everyone would remember that it’s April. Last year in April the Rockies looked like non-factors – how did they end up? The Braves (and Heyward) will be alright, they just may not be good television for a little while longer…

DAP

April 28th, 2010
5:04 pm

N8 Anybody want a friendly wager, that with the national coverage, and Cox’s comments, that the first pitch Heyward sees tonight is a breaking ball well out of the strike zone?

which might be why bobby said it.

glove51

April 28th, 2010
5:04 pm

DOB: Chipper’s .420 OBP indicates he’s NOT having as bad a season as some would have us believe. His power numbers aren’t good and he hasn’t driven runners in like he needs to. I’d submit, that if he continues to get on base 42% of the time, he’ll end up having a pretty good season at worst.

Joe Fan

April 28th, 2010
5:04 pm

There are normally only 1 or 2 very hitable pitches per at bat and Heyward needs to be ready to attack them and that goes for the rest of the team too.

cricket

April 28th, 2010
5:05 pm

Yup. You’re right. I’m sure Freeman, Hanson and JJJ would do the trick just fine.

Yeah, that should get AG and I’m sure a mere 6yr/170M would make sure he signs the extension …

D'oh

April 28th, 2010
5:05 pm

That first game was actually a 12-hit, 16-run offensive outburst, not the other way around.

Realist

April 28th, 2010
5:07 pm

Records held by Bobby Cox:
- Most years managed in the majors with only 1 World Series title
- Most games managed with only 1 World Series title
- Most postseason appearances with only 1 World Series title
- Most pennants won (in the modern era) with only 1 World Series title

No one has done less with more opportunities than Bobby Cox. All of his “peers” in terms of longevity, postseason appearances and wins have won at least 2 World Series titles. Connie Mack won 5, John McGraw won 3, Tony LaRussa has 2, Joe Torre 4, Sparky Anderson 3. Only the famous loser Leo Durocher is even close to Bobby Cox’s win total with only 1 World Series title.

Put simply, no one has ever managed this long and only won it all once. If you are even mediocre, but you last 30 years, you should win more than once.

Bay Area Steve

April 28th, 2010
5:07 pm

LC,

love the two posts.

All Seeing Eye

April 28th, 2010
5:08 pm

Why would Adrian Gonzalez want to leave a losing team to join another one? Isn’t the object still to win the world series? Btw, how is our ‘great clubhouse chemistry’ translating to play on the field?

ugaaccountant

April 28th, 2010
5:08 pm

Shaun – Chipper’s skillset today screams 2nd. Just not going to happen since we’re a team full of 2nd, 6th, & 8th hitters and he’s held that 3 hole for most of 2 decades.

Suicidaire

April 28th, 2010
5:09 pm

Obviously, we’re not giving up JJ or Hanson. We have arms on the farm that the Pads would take since Gonzalez is leaving as a free agent anyway.

The guy is a difference maker and we need all the offense we can get. Plus it ends the Glaus experiment which is crucial to any postseason chance we might have…

Glen W

April 28th, 2010
5:10 pm

All Seeing Eye – the Padres are currently on pace to win 100 games.

ugaaccountant

April 28th, 2010
5:13 pm

Suicidaire – The padres won’t be desparate to trade A. Gonzalez now as
1) they have 2010 and 2011 still under contract
and
2) they are playing well. Staying in contention this year can easily make a huge difference in their teams fortunes and standing in fans eyes.

Suicidaire

April 28th, 2010
5:15 pm

Absolutely. If the Pads are still in it come July, he’s not going anywhere. But, honestly, does anyone see the Pads being in contention when the Dodgers get hot and with SF having all that pitching? Let’s not forget Colorado.

chucktown brave

April 28th, 2010
5:15 pm

Tough for Chip to drive in runs when the 9 spot and 1 spot are on base less than 10% of the time. It all starts at the top. Top of the order gets on base, it creates movement and more holes in the field for our big boppers to find gaps.

Mixxo

April 28th, 2010
5:15 pm

My preseason prediction was a fourth-place finish. I didn’t count on the Nats overachieving.

Oh well huh.

FJR

April 28th, 2010
5:17 pm

I don’t think Bobby is asking Heyward to go up there hacking away on the first pitch. I think he just thinks there are times on the first pitch when Heyward isn’t going to swing NO MATTER WHAT. I think Bobby is just saying to look for a first pitch fastball in a certain half of the plate more often. Right now Heyward treats the first pitch like it’s a 3-0 pitch in a tie game with the bases loaded and the pitcher has been having control issues, I think Bobby is just saying “keep your same basic approach, just approach it more like a 2-0 pitch.”

tampabrave

April 28th, 2010
5:19 pm

So no one thinks Podsednik would be a great addition to our lineup if it still stinks come June?

Bob

April 28th, 2010
5:20 pm

Hahahaha – Realist – your argument is incredibly self-defeating. In your list of Cox’s peers, you listed hall of famers – which points to what kind of manager he is right of the bat. Even more illogical is your point that Cox is mediocre b/c he’s lasted 30 years and hasn’t won more than 1 World Series. Cox has only lasted 30 years b/c he’s anything BUT mediocre. Mediocre managers get fired after a couple years of not making the postseason. Baseball history is filled with so many of them that there’s no point in naming any.
That Cox has lasted 30 years, most of them with the Braves already proves that he’s been exceptional.
Then to say that nobody has done more with less… wow. Again, you really didn’t think that one through too well. The fact that he’s been to the postseason all those times and gotten the chance to lose proves your point wrong.
I don’t see how Cox could be responsible for Jack Morris’ brilliance in ‘91, or Wholers’ changeup in ‘96 (?), or even Gary Sheffield’s forgetting how to hit in ‘03 (?). Managers have a lot more to do with regular season success than postseason success – where exceptional performances by players usually carry the issue.
I’ll just stop there and let you reevaluate how to argue against your scapegoat.

ugaaccountant

April 28th, 2010
5:20 pm

“Suicidaire
April 28th, 2010
5:15 pm
Absolutely. If the Pads are still in it come July, he’s not going anywhere. But, honestly, does anyone see the Pads being in contention when the Dodgers get hot and with SF having all that pitching? Let’s not forget Colorado.”

They have him under contract for next season as well. They’ll be factoring in how their players are developing as a team for this year and next year vs. what prospects they could get. He could get traded, sure. But it won’t be cheap.

Glen W

April 28th, 2010
5:22 pm

tampabraves – I like that you are being realistic about what we might be able to add without mortgaging the farm. But I don’t think Podsednik would solve our biggest problem.

get a clue

April 28th, 2010
5:23 pm

If anyone thinks that Gonzalez will not test the free agent market after what Howard signed for is clueless. Wishful thinking on your part. IF he was traded here, it would be the Tex scenerio all over again.
Move on. It ain’t gonna happen.

Brad from AL

April 28th, 2010
5:24 pm

DOB you missed the point. Not that Cox called Heyward out, but that he always defends the losers on the team. Call out some of the “All Stars” that we have on the team for not doing what they should. Make the adjustments with the rookie, who has been producing more than most, behind closed doors.

MaryAnn

April 28th, 2010
5:24 pm

The Braves are just another third-rate team, have been for several years. Everyone gets all excited in the Spring, then reality sets in.

This team is at best 3rd place in the division, so don’t get excited or worrisome over a losing streak.

Loyal Homer

April 28th, 2010
5:28 pm

I support J-Hey. I support Bobby also. I did not get offended at Bobby’s comments. Here are my thoughts on J-Hey.

http://thesportsdebates.com/2010/04/27/the-mlb-phenom-call-up-debate%E2%80%A6-the-future-is-now/

Loyal Homer

April 28th, 2010
5:29 pm

Thinking Man's Game

April 28th, 2010
5:29 pm

Enter your comments here

Glen W

April 28th, 2010
5:30 pm

A serious slugfest underway in Colorado.

ugaaccountant

April 28th, 2010
5:31 pm

“tampabrave
April 28th, 2010
5:19 pm
So no one thinks Podsednik would be a great addition to our lineup if it still stinks come June?”

Hmm, lot’s of plusses and minuses here.

34 year old speedster who’s 50 for 68 in SB’s since 2008. Low 700’s OPS for most of his career with a .340’s OBP for his career. Sounds McLouth like to me, except heading downhill from here.

But, he’s cheap as dirt. Under 2M for this year and club option for 2M next year.

If he stays this hot, KC wouldn’t likely trade him. Or would ask for too much for him.

But if he’s doing more his career norms, maybe he would be available and could fill a role.

But, I prefer to promote from within as opposed to trading prospects for non-impact players. I’d rather use Jordan Schaefer.

Jimmy Joe

April 28th, 2010
5:33 pm

I’ll be interested to see if Cox goes with the same lineup. The Braves haven’t scored more than four runs since April 16th.

Chip

April 28th, 2010
5:33 pm

Realist, I agree with, and I’ve said all along that Bobby Cox was the benefactor of having great talent. How many championships did Phil Jackson win at Chicago without Jordan?

Bobby had great talent during the Ted years but more importantly, Ted $$$ was able to retain that talent. Bobby did a pretty good job with it, but only 1 WS championship with all that talent was ridiculous.

I like Bobby, but he can definitely be replaced, and whoever replaces him may very well be able to do a better job under the current regime.

Bayou Brave

April 28th, 2010
5:34 pm

DOB,

Another reason to ignore Spring stats:

Jesse Chavez

richbrave

April 28th, 2010
5:35 pm

O.K. it’s ARODYS VIZCAINO, JULIO TEHEREN, and FREDDIE FREEMAN for ADRIAN GONZALEZ, oh, and we give up our first next year. Then we get the rights to negotiate with him beyond 2011. What a deal!!!!!!!!!LOL

Most Runs Wins

April 28th, 2010
5:36 pm

Maybe, just maybe, Bobby is going all psychological/Phil Jackson on the media and the umpires. The fact that he is almost never this public leads me to believe he has a bigger agenda, like, getting HeyJesus some calls. As one poster mentioned, HeyStar isn’t likely to see first pitch strikes tonight. Bobby tells him to be patient, and HeyHero starts some counts 1-0. So, maybe, all those folks with years of Bobby watching and bashing experience could should really think about what this unusual and uncharacteristic public comment is about. Or you could just bash him for calling out a 20 year old rookie. I ain’t a big Bobby fan, but I can take a second to think about what he may be doing.

Supes

April 28th, 2010
5:36 pm

N8,

I suggested batting Chipper 2nd last year and was blasted by blog “vets” such as Eric from MO and a few others.

My take is this, with his declining power numbers, but still relatively high on base percentage (via the walks he gets), it makes him the ideal number 2 hitter, plus he is a good situation hitter, hit and run etc, you need a vet in that spot.

If Chipper is going to play now, I would bat him 2nd in the lineup.

Curious George

April 28th, 2010
5:36 pm

How is THIS Terry Pendleton’s fault?

Why would Cox throw Heyward (the future) “under the bus” before Pendleton (the (soon-to-be) past)?

John

April 28th, 2010
5:37 pm

Idiot fans wants Penelton’s head but cries when the chosen is given tips. If we had a team of Pentelton’s on the team we would never lose.

ugaaccountant

April 28th, 2010
5:38 pm

Then we get the rights to negotiate with him beyond 2011

The rights to pay him over 25 million a season, since the consensus is that he’s a better overall 1b than Howard and better positioned to sign a big contract? That right is worth nothing to the Braves with an 85 million payroll, a ton of which is tied up.

Glen W

April 28th, 2010
5:38 pm

This is actually pretty hilarious. Everyone always complains that BC always says how great every one is doing and never talks honestly about how the team is doing.

And then one, barely constructive comment and every one freaks out about how BC shouldn’t have said it.

ugaaccountant

April 28th, 2010
5:39 pm

John – A lot of us like the way Heyward is approaching his at bats. I am 100% pleased with the beginning of his career.

Lawton

April 28th, 2010
5:40 pm

N8:

I can’t remember, if you hit Chipper 2nd, who would you want to hit 3rd?

Bat Masterson

April 28th, 2010
5:40 pm

Bobby did a pretty good job with it, but only 1 WS championship with all that talent was ridiculous. -Chip

I would say, unfortunate.

willie g hates losers

April 28th, 2010
5:41 pm

this team is awful you really think they have dug themselves a grave just like the last 4 years ,and they wont get out this team is worse than the last 4 years.

Salty

April 28th, 2010
5:41 pm

Like an old scout told me in my first year on the baseball beat, never put much stock in stats for spring training or September callups.

Sheesh, DOB….if not for putting stock in Spring stats, the “I toldyaso’s’ couldn’t bitch gripe all season long, and the wearers of the ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ line of clothing wouldn’t have reason to check out next year’s wardrobe!

Lawton

April 28th, 2010
5:42 pm

ugaaccountant

April 28th, 2010
5:39 pm
John – A lot of us like the way Heyward is approaching his at bats. I am 100% pleased with the beginning of his career.

two things are true of the elite hitters in the game over the last 20 years:

1. they refuse to swing at pitches out side of the strike zone
2. they are not afraid to take a called 3rd strike

Boomerang Dave

April 28th, 2010
5:43 pm

POST THE LINEUP YOU LAZY HACK!!! WE ALL KNOW IT IS POSTED…DO YOUR JOB!

Salty

April 28th, 2010
5:44 pm

Hey, Lew (been meanin’ do to do that for a long time!)! McLouthian…is that a scotch I’ve not yet tried? Certainly haven’t heard of it!! :lol: McAllan…a fine man!!

Tim Tebow's Tears

April 28th, 2010
5:44 pm

Ted Williams Frozen Head

April 28th, 2010
5:44 pm

Without clouding the issue, I have and continue to go record as saying I agree totally with Bobby Cox on this one. Heyward takes too many pitches. He’s often forced to swing at borderline pitchers pitches later in the count because he TOOK a hitters pitch early in the count.

Heyward is still going to be a superstar and if he had ANY offensive support from the so called “established stars” on this team, his rookie shortcomings might not be so obvious.

Boomerang Dave

April 28th, 2010
5:44 pm

IS HEYWARD PLAYING?

WHO HITS LEADOFF?

WHO BATS 4TH WITHOUT MCCANN?

WHERE IS THE LINEUP?

WHERE IS DOB?

Chip

April 28th, 2010
5:44 pm

DOB,

Don’t laugh, but is there any chance of the Braves hitting a home run tonight?

Who do we have that can actually leg out a triple without stopping to rest between 2nd & 3rd?

How much does beer cost at the Ted?

Is Don Sutton’s hair for real?

Bat Masterson

April 28th, 2010
5:45 pm

How knows what Bobby Cox is up to. Other than what he has to say to umpires, I would say he is a man that taste his words before he speaks. Maybe he will write a book one day and everyone that is interested will find out.

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