Infante’s too good to be on bench at this point

When Martin Prado got hurt and Omar Infante replaced him at second base, I was among those who figured the Braves’ bench would be weakened and that Infante should return to his “super-sub” role as soon as Prado got back from the DL.

With Chipper Jones done for season, Omar Infante's role could remain prominent -- as in, lineup regular.

With Chipper Jones done for season, Omar Infante's role could remain prominent -- as in, lineup regular.

But now that Chipper Jones is out for the season, and the list of possible waiver trades includes the less-than-overwhelming likes of Brandon Inge, I’ve changed my opinion.

Infante has shown he’s too good in a regular starting role to return to the bench if means a lesser player is in the lineup.

Did some numbers-crunching this morning, and came up with this startling stat: Infante has hit .378 in 17 games going back to July 29, and the rest of the Braves have hit .213 (105-for-493) in that same span.

Think about that. The Braves went 10-7 thanks mainly to their yowza 2.47 ERA in that 17-game stretch, but they would likely have lost a few more games in that span without Infante in the regular lineup.

And when Prado comes back from the DL, perhaps tomorrow or Wednesday, it seems to me that Infante needs to stay in the lineup on a regular basis. Again, unless the Braves can pull off a trade for a significant bat — better than, say, Inge.

Infante has shown over past 17 games that he can thrive in every-day role.

Infante has hit .378 over the past 17 games, while rest of Braves have hit .213.

While Inge plays excellent defense at 3B and can probably help a good team like the Braves, he’s not an impact guy offensively and lacks plate discipline. He’s hitting .254 with a .330 OBP, .397 slugging and 7 homers in 350 at-bats, with more than twice as many strikeouts (88) as walks (39).

Could Kelly Johnson help? I don’t see how that’s a good fit, as he hasn’t played the outfield since 2005 and you couldn’t just throw him out there in the middle of a pennant race. And if he plays second base, the Braves are a lesser defensive team than with Prado or Infante there, and Infante is on the bench because Prado’s presumably at 3B in that scenario. Can’t see that helping.

Getting a better bat than Inge, or maybe even getting Inge, could be a difficult proposition at this point in the waiver process, with Philadelphia among the teams that could claim a player they believed the Braves were targeting, to block Atlanta from getting that player if the Phils believed he could be a difference maker for the division leaders.

Anyway, getting back to Infante. He’s having a terrific year, batting .340 in 89 games and exactly 300 plate appearances.

Even though he’s played every day lately, he’s going to fall short of the minimum 502 plate appearances required to qualify for the batting title. That’s too bad, because the way he’s hit for the past couple of months he’d have a good chance to give the Braves their second batting title in three seasons.

Just how good has he been lately? Infante has hit .378 (28-for-74) with a .403 OBP and .459 slugging percentage in that 17-game span since July 29, filling in impressively as the leadoff man since Prado went on the DL.

Infante has 10 multi-hit games including a 3-for-5 game with three runs scored in Sunday’s 13-1 rout.

But he’d been raking well before moving into a regular starting role. In 55 games since June 1, Infante has hit .360 (67-for-186) with 21 RBIs, a .388 OBP and .419 slugging.

“He can play,” hitting coach Terry Pendleton said. “He can play every day. He’s shown he can sit for a while and still do the job, and he can play every day, too.”

Infante has blistered righties this season, batting .369 with a .393 OBP, .444 slugging and 23 RBIs in 187 at-bats against them. (He’s hit .284 with a .324 OBP and .347 slugging against lefties.)

And in a season when the Braves’ average with runners in scoring position has waned, Infante has a .338 average (26-for-77) with 28 RBIs in those situations.

The Braves’ bench remains strong with Eric Hinske and Brooks Conrad on it. In my opinion the lineup needs Infante to remain in it, even after Prado gets back.

Brooksy’s late-innings mojo: Rarely will you ever see splits like Conrad’s so late in a season.

Specifically, the disparity in his numbers before the seventh inning, and his numbers from the seventh inning on.

Cox and the Braves could have Prado back in the lineup in another day or two.

Cox and the Braves could have Prado back in the lineup in another day or two.

The man has hit .176 with no homers, four RBIs, a .276 OBP and .235 slugging percentage in 33 at-bats from the first through sixth innings.

But from the seventh inning on, he’s wreaked havoc. Conrad has hit .295 with seven homers, 21 RBIs and a .348 OBP and .721 slugging percentage in 57 at-bats in those late innings.

To repeat, that’s a .235 slugging percentage in 33 at-bats before the seventh inning, and a .721 slugging percentage in 57 at-bats in the seventh inning and later. The first six of his seven homers came in the eighth inning or later, before he hit one in the seventh inning Friday.

Cox down to last 45 games: Just 45 regular-season games remain for manager Bobby Cox, who intends to retire after this season. Or, rather, after the postseason, assuming the Braves are in it.

Cox is 19 regular-season wins from becoming the fourth member of the 2,500-win club, and 37 games from 4,500.

Cox has 45 regular-season games remaining in what he insists is his final season managing.

Cox has 45 regular-season games remaining in what he insists is his final season managing.

Speaking of retirement, one of the our blog regulars commented Sunday, after seeing the photo I ran yesterday of Cox in the cowboy hat he got from the Houston Astros last week, that now there was no turning back for Cox after accepting that hat and boots as a parting gift from the ‘Stros.

Actually, Cox has received gifts in several other cities the Braves have been to this season, all the places where the Braves were making their last scheduled visit with Cox at the helm. Among the gifts were a couple of custom-designed humidors, including a huge one from Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox that had featured a painting of Cox in his Braves uni.

But if any of you still have any doubts following through with his retirement plans, consider what he told a couple of us last week in Houston: His wife, Pam, has already bought them a prepaid cruise that starts next April 11.

As Cox said, that pretty well ended any potential for second thoughts regarding his retirement. That and the fact he made the announcement at end of last season – which he said he did so that he couldn’t change his mind.

Since then, Cox has said repeatedly that he’s not, and won’t reconsider.

When the Braves built this year’s season-ticket advertising campaign around this being the final season for Cox, well, that further solidified the no-wiggle-room aspect of his announcement.

This is it, I think most of can say with a great deal of certainty. Cox’s final 45 regular-season games, and whatever might come beyond that in the postseason.

Pitching? Check. Home-field advantage? Check. Atlanta lost two of three games in a home series April 20-22 against Philadelphia, which dropped the Braves’ home record to 5-4. They haven’t lost a home series since.

The Braves are 36-12 since then, pushing their majors-best home record to 41-16 (no other team has as many as 40 home wins or fewer than 20 home losses). That could be particularly important given the Braves’ last six games of the season are at home against the Marlins and the second-place Phillies.

Can you imagine the atmosphere at Turner Field if only a game or two separate the Braves and Phillies when they meet in that season-ending series Oct. 1-3 at Turner Field? Of course, the Braves hope it doesn’t come down to that.

Jurrjens pitched seven strong innings Sunday to help Braves whittle their team ERA to a league-best 1.98 in August.

Jurrjens pitched seven strong innings Sunday to help Braves whittle their team ERA to a league-best 1.98 in August.

They’d like to put some distance between them and the Phillies before then. But it’s obviously not going to be easy, since the Braves haven’t been able to do while Philly was dealing with significant injuries.

The Phillies figure to be healthy before much longer, but the Braves, inconsistent and unimpressive as their offense and road performance may be, do have the great equalizer: Pitching. Starting. Relieving. Pitching.

The Braves had hit just .218 in August before banging out 16 hits Sunday, yet they still have a 9-5 record this month. That’s what happens when you post a 1.98 team ERA through the first 14 games of the month. Yes, 1.98 team ERA. Cincinnati (2.72) is the only other NL team below 3.00 for the month.

Hanson is 0-2 despite a 0.99 ERA in his past four starts entering tonight's series finale with the Dodgers.

Hanson is 0-2 despite a 0.99 ERA in his past four starts entering tonight's series finale with the Dodgers.

In their past five games, the Braves are 4-1 with a – gulp – 0.98 ERA. Their opponents have scored seven runs in those game, two or fewer in each. The Dodgers have three runs in the first three games of the four-game series that ends tonight, when Tommy Hanson faces Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley.

Hanson is the extreme example of the Braves’ recent pitching-hitting dichotomy. He hasn’t won in seven starts and is 1-3 in his past eight — despite a 1.76 ERA in that span. He’s 0-2 with a 0.99 ERA and .162 opponents’ average in his past four starts.

Billingsley is also on a roll but getting spotty run support — he is 2-2 with a stingy 1.34 ERA in his past five starts. He’s 1-3 in seven games (five starts) against the Braves, including 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts this season and last. He gave up three runs and seven hits in a June 5 loss against the Braves and Hanson in L.A.

Heyward’s marketability: In a survey by Sports Business Daily, Braves RF Jason Heyward was voted the third-most marketable baseball player under 25 years old. The runaway winner was Stephen Strasburg, who got 62 percent of the first-place votes, followed by Evan Longoria (32 percent) and Heyward (4 percent).

Rays pitcher David Price and Bryce Harper, the kid who was the No. 1 overall pick by the Nationals in this year’s draft, got the remaining first-place votes.

The 50 people who voted included corporate brand managers, marketing executives and baseball media.

Heyward is back in the lineup tonight after missing Sunday’s game with a sore right knee, the third start he missed in five games since banging that knee on the ground attempting a sliding catch Monday in Houston.

Braves lineup for Monday

  1. Infante 2B
  2. Heyward RF
  3. Gonzalez SS
  4. McCann C
  5. Glaus 1B
  6. Conrad 3B
  7. Ankiel CF
  8. Cabrera LF
  9. Hanson RH

Ready for the Outback: Cox wasn’t the only Brave who came back from Houston with a new cowboy hat. Peter Moylan bought one while the team was in Houston, and was quite a sight when he wore it in the clubhouse before the series finale.

The heavily tattooed reliever had a beard going and was in Braves shorts and a sleeveless undershirt as he paraded through the clubhouse and sat down a while to watch TV with some teammates. Gotta say, Moylan looked like a badass.

Chipper Jones was busy putting together his fantasy football team when he looked up, saw Moylan, smiled and shouted, “Aussie!”

I thought Moylan was wearing Billy Wagner’s brown cowboy hat until I saw Moylan hand it to a Braves clubhouse employee later in a hat box designed for travel. He said he bought it in Houston and asked to have it packed on the plane.

♣ Let’s close with one of Jason Isbell’s finest tunes (there’s a lot to pick from with this dude), and here’s a video of him doing the song at a show in North Carolina.

jason-isbell2

“DRESS BLUES” by Jason Isbell

What can you see from your window?

I can’t see anything from mine.

Flags on the side of the highway

and scripture on grocery store signs.

Maybe eighteen was too early.

Maybe thirty or forty is too.

Did you get your chance to make peace with the man

before he sent down his angels for you?

Mamas and grandmamas love you

’cause that’s all they know how to do.

You never planned on the bombs in the sand

or sleeping in your dress blues.

Your wife said this all would be funny

when you came back home in a week.

You’d turn twenty-two and we’d celebrate you

in a bar or a tent by the creek.

Your baby would just about be here.

Your very last tour would be up

but you won’t be back. They’re all dressing in black

drinking sweet tea in styrofoam cups.

Mamas and grandmamas love you.

American boys hate to lose.

You never planned on the bombs in the sand

or sleeping in your dress blues.

Now the high school gymnasium’s ready,

full of flowers and old Legionnaires.

Nobody showed up to protest,

just sniffle and stare.

But there’s red, white, and blue in the rafters

and there’s silent old men from the corps.

What did they say when they shipped you away

to fight somebody’s Hollywood war?

Nobody here could forget you.

You showed us what we had to lose.

You never planned on the bombs in the sand

or sleeping in your dress blues.

No, no you never planned on the bombs in the sand

or sleeping in your dress blues.

2,212 comments Add your comment

johnnyd53221

August 16th, 2010
2:45 pm

johnnyd53221

August 16th, 2010
2:46 pm

Holy Crap I got a first

flange1

August 16th, 2010
2:47 pm

Thanks for the new blog DOB!

jeffrey d

August 16th, 2010
2:48 pm

Good blog…thanks DOB

David O'Brien

August 16th, 2010
2:48 pm

Braves lineup: 1. Infante 2B, 2. Heyward RF, 3. Gonzalez SS, 4. McCann C, 5. Glaus 1B, 6. Conrad 3B, 7. Ankiel CF, 8. Cabrera LF, 9. Hanson P

TRADE

August 16th, 2010
2:48 pm

Snotboogie

August 16th, 2010
2:49 pm

Nice start to the blog with all the Infante stuff. As the season has gone on, he has solidified his utility All-Star credentials. Great numbers at 2B,3B and as a pinch-hitter.

Snotboogie

August 16th, 2010
2:50 pm

Braves lineup: ………. 2. Heyward RF

I’m guessing we wont hear from Jimmy Joe again today.

Piedmont Blues

August 16th, 2010
2:51 pm

Thanks for the blog, DOB. So do you think Prado moves into the #3 spot in the lineup, with Infante and Heyward staying at 1 and 2?

Jim Hertel

August 16th, 2010
2:52 pm

jeffrey d

August 16th, 2010
2:53 pm

I never really thought of Infante as a starter.

Then again, I never thought of Prado and Escobar as starters either.

jeffrey d

August 16th, 2010
2:54 pm

I’ll bet Heyward goes to #3 when Prado returns

KnoxBravesFan

August 16th, 2010
2:54 pm

Dave, what’s the odds that Wagner will be rested as we head towards September. He seems a little tired and hittable. I would think he may not pitch in back to back games unless his pitch count in the first game is pretty darn low. Unfortunately, I’m getting a little nervous when he comes in now.

T for Texas

August 16th, 2010
2:54 pm

The Houston Astros announcers did a little segment on Infante. The most interesting quote, I thought, came from Chino Cadahia when asked which defensive position is Omar’s strongest, Chino replied, “Center Field.”

Omar in CF, next year?

GTSteve

August 16th, 2010
2:56 pm

@Knox, if the Braves could score 13 every game, he would get plenty of rest

Snotboogie

August 16th, 2010
2:56 pm

I’ll bet Heyward goes to #3 when Prado returns

So Prado at No.2 then? Prado at 3 would give R-L-R combo and if Mac were to hit 4th, R-L-R-L. I hope Prado rejoins the team tomorrow. Good times.

RonnieFranchise

August 16th, 2010
2:56 pm

When Prado comes back, please, please, please…..
1. Infante
2. Prado
3. Heyward – about time!
4. MAC

Brian from SC

August 16th, 2010
2:56 pm

It’s looking more and more like six teams for four playoff spots in the NL. All the Braves have to do is stay ahead of two of them. (The only scenario they could finish ahead of two of them and not make the playoffs is if one of the three ahead of them is Philadelphia and the other two are in the same division.)

Here’s how they stand now:
1. San Diego
2. Atlanta (1.5 GB)
3. Cincinnati (3 GB)
4. Philadelphia (3.5 GB)
4. San Francisco (3.5 GB)
6. St. Louis (4 GB)

That really is pretty good shape. Outlast Philly, and they’ve probably got home field advantage in the first round. The real prize would be finishing first among those teams and guaranteeing home field advantage all the way. (Thanks, Brian McCann and the NL All-Stars!)

Bob Horner Fan

August 16th, 2010
2:57 pm

I don’t think of potential trade candidates as trying to fill-in Chippers shoes, but rather build back up the bench since it is being depleted by starting Omar and Hinsky. Getting a quality bench guy might be do-able…

Chop Chop

August 16th, 2010
2:58 pm

I’d go with Prado, Gonzalez, Infante, and Freeman on the infield next season.

If Chipper’s back, just use Infante in his super-utility role.

Get a big bat for the outfield. Don’t go cheap this time.

The Braves can continue to contend for postseason spots for a while. Yippee.

Puma

August 16th, 2010
2:58 pm

DOB – what’s chipper’s deal the rest of the season? does he travel with Braves or does he start doing rehab immediately? Just wondering if he’ll be around.

jeffrey d

August 16th, 2010
2:58 pm

Good point, Snot. If McCann is batting cleanup (sorry McFann), I don’t know if Bobby’ll have the lefties back-to-back like that. At least not when we’re facing a lefty.

Piedmont Blues

August 16th, 2010
2:59 pm

jeffrey d,

Not a bad idea, though leaving Heyward in the 2-slot means the Braves can alternate lefty/righty hitters through the top spots in the lineup. Opposing managers may burn out their bullpens late in games.

droopydawg

August 16th, 2010
2:59 pm

23rd!!

The bats need to get going soon…agree about Infante

Piedmont Blues

August 16th, 2010
2:59 pm

snot,

fast fingers …

GTSteve

August 16th, 2010
3:00 pm

Brian, they could actually finish with the 2nd best record and get home field throughout….Say the Padres finish with the best, Braves win the East, Padres lose to wildcard team from East or Central, Braves home field advantage in NLCS…assuming they win first round….right?

Bartholomew (Bat) Masterson

August 16th, 2010
3:02 pm

Why wouldn’t Cox just move Heap down and Glaus up against lefties like he had been doing? Regarding Heyward at three.

jeffrey d

August 16th, 2010
3:03 pm

We could get homefield advantage throughout the playoffs if we lost the first round too.

brian

August 16th, 2010
3:03 pm

great blog as always. The only way Kelly would fit is if Kelly played 2B with Prado at 3B or 1B and Infante at LF or 3B (if Prado at 3B). Then it would by Kelly versus Melky/Hinske/Diaz or Hinkse/Glaus. I don’t know if that makes us better either. Which Troy Glaus shows up for the final 45 games and post-season will be huge for the Braves. Big bat Troy shows up we are rolling. July Troy Glaus – well, hope Hinske gets hot

The only way we siginficantly improve our team offensively is by adding a big bat in LF or at 1B. Good luck with that.

Snotboogie

August 16th, 2010
3:03 pm

fast fingers …

Tempting to pull a Micheal Scott here.

Nah.. just unproductive at the computer.

Brian from SC

August 16th, 2010
3:03 pm

Right, GTSteve, that’s why I said “guaranteed home field”, so they would have it no matter what. But yes, they could get home field all the way even if they had the 2nd best record.

I like looking at it in this “big picture” sort of way. Keeps me from stressing too much about the Phillies right now.

Keith

August 16th, 2010
3:04 pm

Absolutely, positively have to start Infante on the roster every day. It would be an insult to him if we didn’t and we would lose one of our best hitters. :)

Someone from the AJC…can’t remember the name ;) …..asked about maybe bringing Manny to the team. Hmmmmm….

CB

August 16th, 2010
3:04 pm

Bat, very correct. Lineup may be a lot of variations the rest of season.

@BravesHaiku

August 16th, 2010
3:05 pm

Dave O’Brien asks / Could Kelly Johnson help us? / Already know. Nope. || @BravesHaiku

brian

August 16th, 2010
3:05 pm

Braves just need to focus on improving each game, winning series, and taking their division. The post-season is always a toss up. Yes, the more home games the better but 1st things 1st

GT Fan

August 16th, 2010
3:05 pm

As FW said, it will be hard to acquire someone at this point in the season that will make us better at 2B and 3B than the combination of Infante and Prado. That said, I wouldn’t mind acquiring someone who could provide us a little additional depth on the bench. Hinske/Diaz, Conrad and Ross are all good players to have coming off the bench, but Bobby’s reluctant to use his back-up C when we’re only carrying 2 catchers, and having any wasted spots on the bench can mean the difference in a game that’s close late, especially in extra innings.

GTSteve

August 16th, 2010
3:05 pm

Brian, if you start stressing over the Phillies, then I am really going to start stressing. If not for you and Lew a couple of times recently I would have been out on the ledge…lol

brian

August 16th, 2010
3:06 pm

could Adam LaRoche help the Braves?

And if he could help the Braves would the Braves be able to move him and his contract in the offseason to clear room for Freeman?

Sidney

August 16th, 2010
3:06 pm

Looks like they made it where Bobby cannot come back next year but all of that can be changed. If he has to do all of that to make his decision final then he does not want to go. I think he should be the GM. He did a great job for the Braves and Toronto. He should give Frank Wren his cruise tickets as a gift.

Shaggy1973

August 16th, 2010
3:06 pm

Hey Dave, what is the deal with Heyward batting second? Why doesn’t Bobby try him in the three spot. Just curious.

Sidney

August 16th, 2010
3:07 pm

Keith, do you know what you started?

Shaun

August 16th, 2010
3:07 pm

I think LaRoche is a more intriguing possibility for the Braves. Or perhaps Johnson as a backup at second and possibly giving him a shot to platoon at first. I know first is different from second, but it wouldn’t be the same as moving Johnson to the outfield, and it’s outside-the-box thinking if and only if Johnson is the only option out there and the Braves can get him at a reasonable price in terms of players they’d have to give up…I know that’s a lot of “if’s” which makes the whole thing probably not worth discussing or only worth discussing because people bring up Johnson.

JTH

August 16th, 2010
3:08 pm

So I guess Heyward’s knee is better since he’s starting tonight.

Yes leave Omar as a starter, he’s been our best player for the past month.

Bawlmer Brave

August 16th, 2010
3:08 pm

Chop Chop

August 16th, 2010
2:58 pm
I’d go with Prado, Gonzalez, Infante, and Freeman on the infield next season.

If Chipper’s back, just use Infante in his super-utility role.

Get a big bat for the outfield. Don’t go cheap this time.

The Braves can continue to contend for postseason spots for a while. Yippee.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I agree with you there. Then the debate begins as to who we can/should go get. I know that LAD are “saying” they don’t want to move Kemp, but with our available pitching, they’d have to at least listen. Otherwise, who would you propose as the legit OF bat to go with Heyward?

Is it too soon to be talking about offseason acquisitions?

David O'Brien

August 16th, 2010
3:10 pm

Puma, Chipper might make a trip or two at the end, but for now it’s a bit unwieldy to travel right after surgery and all that, and he wants to get started right away with rehab. But he’ll be around for home games and, like I said, probably a trip or two later.

glove51

August 16th, 2010
3:11 pm

Dave, I have always enjoyed this blog (and your other reporting) immensely, but I;vee gto to say that you (and Caroll) have taken it to a whole new level this season.

Thanks again for the work you do and the time you take supplying feedback to the fans on the Braves/MIB Blog.

ncscoots

August 16th, 2010
3:12 pm

Bat, very correct. Lineup may be a lot of variations the rest of season.

I don’t even look at the O’Brien-posted lineups anymore. There isn’t anybody left on the squad whose insertion or deletion can make any difference, LOL. I don’t even chuckle at ‘em, so I guess I’ve gotten numb.

Keep pitching, boys, and don’t look behind you. :-)

glove51

August 16th, 2010
3:13 pm

“I’ve got to say…”

Sorry for the typos.

Dan-82ndAirborne

August 16th, 2010
3:14 pm

dob, I was at that concert, just returning from a 15 month deployment to Sadr City. Very good choice. And I wish Ankiel was hitting 2nd again, that was an interesting experiment I’d like to see tried again.

Tomas

August 16th, 2010
3:15 pm

I think Chipper takes the trip to Philadelphia and New York.

SpazzHH

August 16th, 2010
3:15 pm

Then again, I’d say 80 percent of those complaints about everything and anything — repeat, anything — come from about 5 percent of this blog’s actual audience – David O’Brien

When you take into consideration how many of these posts are made by the same individual, just using different names to post under, I think this percentage is much lower yet.

dawgsrpeople2

August 16th, 2010
3:15 pm

Pitching and more pitching, still need to score to win…. is Troy coming around.. woo hoo if he is cause the guy is a playoffs animal

dpelfrey

August 16th, 2010
3:16 pm

I’d plug Prado right into Chipper’s spot, playing 3B and hitting 3rdin the order. Keep Infante in the leadoff spot, he’s been doing a great job.

And boys and girls…Mr. Glaus is about to get hot again. You can tell looking at his swing. He’s keeping his head down and using those legs again. The past month, he’s been all arms.

Naf Sevarb

August 16th, 2010
3:16 pm

Fully paid for cruise? I am sure he could bag on that to come back if he wanted to manage. Not sure that is what is keeping him. He isnt living on food stamps for goodness sakes.

CB

August 16th, 2010
3:17 pm

We may have to get used to a lot of 3-2,2-1 games. Long as we are the higher number,who cares?

Naf Sevarb

August 16th, 2010
3:17 pm

I am not so sure about Glaus but i hope so dpelfrey. He is like a mummy out there.

GT Fan

August 16th, 2010
3:18 pm

Chop Chop, the only problem is the only salary coming off the books after this season is Glaus’. I’m not sure how much was budgeted for him including his incentives, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to clear a lot of salary. Maybe Liberty decides to open up the pocketbook a little if they see a significant increase in revenue from making the playoffs, but, otherwise, the only ways I see the Braves getting a player who isn’t relatively inexpensive are if Chipper doesn’t come back next season or if the Braves can move McLouth and/or KK to a team that’s looking to dump a big long term contract (something like the KK for Figgins deal that came up on Schultz’s blog).

CraZyTRaDeMaN ©

August 16th, 2010
3:19 pm

DOB, Just to add to your point on Jason’s marketability. My son is 8 years old so we have been watching a lot of little league games lately on TV. Before the game all the kids introduce themselves and say there favorite players name. The Team from GA of course had favorites like Chipper, Hanson and Heyward. I noticed a kid from Penn say his favorite player was Heyward so I started to pay attention to the players these kids mentioned. Other than the team from Columbus Georgia I only heard 1 Brave’s player mentioned other than Heyward and it was Chipper and it was once. I was just amazed that kids from Idaho, Wash, Cal, Hawaii, Tex, Fla, Penn and others could have already adopted Jason as there favorite player.

GT Fan

August 16th, 2010
3:22 pm

I have to wonder if the cruise was Bobby’s wife’s way of saying don’t even think about changing your mind.

N8

August 16th, 2010
3:22 pm

To those who thought I left off the defensive comparison of Gonzalez and Escobar on the other blog. I might not have discussed it in detail, but I didn’t ignore it.

Gonzalez is very solid MLB SS. Makes some very smooth plays that I’ve seen and botches some simple ones at times.

Escobar on the other hand is probably one of my favorite defensive players the Braves have ever had on the roster. Love his glove work.

I just think Wren was banking on the trade off of getting a guy capable of putting up 15 or so HR in the 2nd half vs. the guy who has never hit more than 14 HR in an entier season, who obviously plays better defense.

It’s that age old question when discussing a player’s “worth” or value to his team.

Who’s better, a guy like Adam Dunn at 1B who is probably a defensive liability, but will mash 40 HR. Or a guy like Casey Kotchman who might never hit 20 HR in a season but plays GG caliber defense?

That’s why guys like Derek Lee or Tex are so impressive. When you can combine GG defense AND the 40+ HR, you’ve got yourself a superstar.

Escobar clearly hasn’t turned into the masher that some though he would develop into. But my problem with dumping Escobar (selling low mid-way through his worst offensive season), is that had Wren done his job by fixing the OF issues (offensively) last off-season, and at the deadline, this team (any team) could survive with 10 or so HR and all the doubles Escobar hits with that glove he’s got (provided a team can survive his mental issues – allegedly).

So, because Wren wrongfully believed that McLouth and Schafer would somehow cover CF and Melky would improve his bat, he was forced to move Escobar for a big bat.

Like I’ve said before, I’m for Wren’s gambles. I like that he’s trying. And that he tries to fix past mistakes (like ignoring the OF in the winter). But he does make mistakes. But he has made more GOOD decisions than poor ones, imo.

But I agree, selling low on Escobar and buying high on Gonzalez in order to send Bobby out a winner is a little short-sighted from my angle. But I’d like to think that Wren was doing more than thinking about this year when making that trade.

Dr Hoo

August 16th, 2010
3:26 pm

DOB, agree that Infante needs to start and play. The biggest issue now becomes the bench – you go from a strength with Infante there to a weakness with someone like Diory Hernandez filling in. But the bigger issue may end up being 1B if Glaus is toast (I know, he is starting to show some signs, but hitting softball tossing Padilla isn’t the same as hitting the Phillies starting staff). And the options there are either Prado, which puts Conrad at 3rd (can he play regularly? – unknown) or bring up Freeman (a rookie in a pennant race? – scary). Will be an interesting finish. For all the talk about the improved depth on the Braves this year the Phillies sure do a lot better job filling in spots and scoring with regulars injured than the braves seem to.

JT Grace

August 16th, 2010
3:26 pm

I would love to see the Braves be able to pick up Brandon Inge for the bench, not as a starter. He can play most all infield positions, including catcher. However, my guess is that the Cardinals would grab him first.

McFann :Ô: :Ô:

August 16th, 2010
3:27 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

jeffrey d …McCann is batting cleanup (sorry McFann)…

Oh, that’s OK. It’s not your fault.

Panhandle Joe

August 16th, 2010
3:27 pm

Shaun

August 16th, 2010
3:28 pm

N8, I think he was definitely thinking about more than this year when making the Escobar trade or else he wouldn’t have received two decent prospects in the deal. That’s something that the critics of the Escobar trade overlook. The Braves won the minor league side of the deal. They sent Jo-Jo Reyes, who is no longer a spry, young prospect, to the Jays for two decent prospects. Without that side of it, I don’t think the Braves do the deal because they don’t win the deal.

JEB

August 16th, 2010
3:29 pm

KJ is good in a small pond (with no big expectations on him) such as Arizona.
BUT, in the big river – (with playoff pressure) he flounders.

dawgsrpeople2

August 16th, 2010
3:29 pm

N8 – Yunel’s numbers in 2010 = 337 .326 .663

Brilliant stuff plus some headcase base running and fielding at times…. goos luck in Toronto

Alan 10

August 16th, 2010
3:29 pm

Wes Timmons, let me repeat, Timmons, hes already in a Braves uniform and would work on the bench, send Hicks back to Gwinnett as he doesn’t add anything.

Mathman

August 16th, 2010
3:29 pm

Not only is Infante too good to go back to the bench, Wrenn should try to sign him to a multi-year deal. We need him in the lineup next year, either at 3B or LF. He is too good to be a bench player. Hopefully, Chipper retires. It is always going to be, play 5-6 games, then some ailment. He is not going to be able to play fulltime anymore. And, his range is gone.

In additon, Freeman should be brought up ASAP. He might be the spark with the bat and glove that puts the Braves deep in the playoffs. He is a gold glove fielder too, and would give us much more range. Now we have no range with Glaus. Next year, Canizares should also be brought up to be the right handed pitchhitter and occasional start at 1B. The Cuban can flat rake. Some AL team is probably waiting to grab him for nothing in a Rule 5.

bravos850

August 16th, 2010
3:30 pm

I was at the game yesterday. I live six hours away from Atlanta and made the there and back drive in one day. What a game to see. Just my second one in Atlanta. I hope to get back much sooner this next time.

dpelfrey

August 16th, 2010
3:31 pm

Naf Sevarb…

He does look like a Mummy, but he looks like he’s getting some drive from his lower body. To me, that points towards better times for him. I don’t think he could carry any hot streak for multiple months, but if he can get hot enough for a short stretch to get this offense 4-5 runs instead of 2-3 runs per game, then that’s all this pitching staff needs to run off some games and get some distance from the Phils.

buck75

August 16th, 2010
3:31 pm

How can Chino say Omar’s best spot is CF? If that is true, why hasn’t he been the starter in CF all year?

flange1

August 16th, 2010
3:32 pm

N8,

Just read you last epic on Yunel VS Gonzo, with the gist being FW wanted to send Bobby out on a high note by trading for a guy that has the potential to hit more HR.

I have stayed out of this one for a bit, but here is my take.

Yunel is the more talented player with more upside potential. Beautiful defensive player with a pretty good offensive game that slumped in 2010. But he is a flake and a distraction.

Gonzo is a good defensive shortstop, poor OPB, with power potential and having a good power year.

I think the Braves front office understand both of the statements above and STILL made the trade based on eliminating distractions from the clubhouse.

We have not heard all the things that Yunel has done (and we probably will not from DOB) but I think they were significant enough for he Braves to move him.

I don’t think the issue had any thing to do with talent, defense or offense, only eliminating distractions.

Bayou Brave

August 16th, 2010
3:33 pm

DOB,

Do you think Bobby will consider leaving Infante at leadoff and moving Prado to the 3-hole when he gets off the DL? After all, Prado’s .484 SLG leads all Braves players with at least 150 ABs, and his 13 HRs are good enough for 3rd on this team. It’s not like his .357 OBP is demands that he leads off, too.

GT Fan

August 16th, 2010
3:33 pm

N8, I have to agree with your analysis of Gonzalez and Escobar as players. However, based on what I’ve heard about the reaction to the trade from the clubhouse, I have to wonder how much of the trade was going all out to win this year, and how much it was just that Escobar had completely worn out his welcome, regardless of how talented he is. If Pastornicky can get his average and OBP up, he could be a good option at the top of the lineup in a few years.

Burling3

August 16th, 2010
3:33 pm

Though I am yet to hear Chipper’s interview on 790 the zone, I was told he mentioned Ross sending a message to the players who are hurt to get out on the field.

DOB,
Would you possibly be able to provide some more insight on this? Thanks

McCann Fan

August 16th, 2010
3:33 pm

Great blog DOB!

Brian from SC

August 16th, 2010
3:34 pm

buck75, because Chino’s wrong about that. His best positions are SS and 2B.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

August 16th, 2010
3:34 pm

no other options for 3B? Any more talk on Figgins?

Snotboogie

August 16th, 2010
3:34 pm

How can Chino say Omar’s best spot is CF? If that is true, why hasn’t he been the starter in CF all year?

There is a difference between his best position being CF and him being the best CF on the team especially if you consider that a lot of us thought we’d get much more out of Nate.

peter nincompoop

August 16th, 2010
3:35 pm

I know it was a tiny sample but I kind of liked Ankiel in the 2 hole yesterday. Moving him down in the order should maybe be a consideration if it gives him a chance to see more fastballs. I know Kelly was hitting everything out of the park to begin the season but what have his overall numbers looked like this season?

Dan-82ndAirborne

August 16th, 2010
3:35 pm

Freeman needs to be called up, not necessarily for a spark, but because he needs to see some MLB pitching before next season and under pressure. He needs time to figure out how quickly MLB pitchers adjust and how quickly he’ll have to adjust to keep up. That’s an invaluable lesson learned by a young guy and he’s not going to learn it in spring training.

GWB

August 16th, 2010
3:36 pm

Why is there is no discussion anywhere of calling up Canizares from AAA? I admittedly don’t know anything about the dude other than he’s been on fire all summer hitting in Gwinnett? What’s the scoop DOB?

buck75

August 16th, 2010
3:36 pm

Nate isn’t a true CF to me. Poor arm/no arm. Wrong routes. can’t see …

Braveone

August 16th, 2010
3:37 pm

Hey DOB,

I agree that Infante needs to keep his starting spot once Prado returns. I would keep Infante in the leadoff spot & bat Prado 2nd.

You said that Infante is going to fall short of the minimum 502 plate appearances required to qualify for the batting title. But I believe he has a good chance to get to 502. With 45 games left, he needs to average a little under 4 1/2 plate appearances per game which should be attainable batting at the top of the order. It’s going to be close.

Dan-82ndAirborne

August 16th, 2010
3:38 pm

gwb, he’s been the DH all year.. came up as an outfielder, but has played 1B and DH for a while now. Supposedly, he’s a defensive liability. I haven’t seen him play the field, only hit, so who knows… he’s definitely swinging the bat like crazy.

Plate Appearance

August 16th, 2010
3:38 pm

I agree completely! Infante rather than Inge!

Dan-82ndAirborne

August 16th, 2010
3:40 pm

braveone, there’s also a rule that allows someone to add plate appearances to their total to qualify, but if he was 50 short that would be adding an 0-50 to his stats.. if he was hitting .380 or something by then it would be possible, but I don’t see him making the plate appearances or hitting that high.

DAP

August 16th, 2010
3:40 pm

i like putting prado at 3 when he comes back. im betting that isnt the popular opinion around here, but that is where i would slot him based on what we have.

also, heyward will might end up hitting 2nd most of next year, since chipper will be back and might reclaim his spot in the lineup. of course that depends on where the new manager wants him.

Snotboogie

August 16th, 2010
3:41 pm

Nate isn’t a true CF to me. Poor arm/no arm. Wrong routes. can’t see …

This combined with the fact that the team tries as much as possible to not play Infante there should tell you something about Infante’s CF defense.

ncscoots

August 16th, 2010
3:42 pm

This combined with the fact that the team tries as much as possible to not play Infante there should tell you something about Infante’s CF defense.

Also, about Chino’s opinion of his skill at other defensive positions. :-)

CraZyTRaDeMaN ©

August 16th, 2010
3:42 pm

The Cuban can flat rake—- Mathman

Most of them can rake as well as cut grass, plant flowers and trim hedges. :roll: JUST KIDDING

GT Fan

August 16th, 2010
3:43 pm

Snotboogie, yeah, but it became clear a long time ago that Nate wasn’t the answer. We’ll have to see if yesterday was the start of something for Ankiel, but the early returns haven’t been good for him either.

N8

August 16th, 2010
3:44 pm

“I don’t think the issue had any thing to do with talent, defense or offense, only eliminating distractions.” flange1

Oh, I totally agree with you. But the point is a valid one, when wondering if a different manager (which we will definitely have going into next year), would have/could have handled it differently.

Obviously, Bobby’s stamp is all over this. What does Frank Wren care about club-house chemistry? If the team is performing, it’s the manager’s job to creat that chemistry.

And make no mistake about it, had Escobar put up his average numbers in the first half, this trade doesn’t happen.

I agree that it was more about attitude, chemistry and distractions than on the field ability, upside or production.

But as I suggested, the combination of Yunel’s alleged attitude and his lack of production did his remaining a Brave in.

I wasn’t trying to choose sides in the “offensive production vs. gold glove defense” argument. I think many teams can win in many different ways, based on what the GM or manager want (or simply what they are given to work with). As a fan, many people prefer the offense over the defense. I’ve always been a defensive minded guy, especially when your team is based on good pitching and those pitchers pitch to contact.

That being said, I’m not looking for Rafael Belliard at SS. Each player, especially in the NL, has to be able to handle the bat a bit to not be a complete liability at the plate.

Any team can win with 1 or 2 “easy” outs in the lineup. Provided they have great pitching (check), solid defense (not so sure on that?), and at least 2-3 guys in the lineup that are currently “hot” and going to pick up their teammates offensively.

But a team can’t survive with 3-4 easy outs in the lineup and shoddy defense.

The Braves have won in many different ways at different stages of the season.

They’ve won with great defense and a couple guys carrying them.

They’ve won with excellent starting pitching, timely hitting and sloppy defense (recent style of play).

They’ve won with a shutdown bullpen and great/clutch hitting from the bench in tight games.

About the only style of play this team hasn’t won with this year, is the run and gun. Not enough speed on this team to put the pressure on opposing pitchers. But this team (and Bobby) have rolled with the punches that the injury bug and slump gods have given them.

I like it.

ncscoots

August 16th, 2010
3:44 pm

The Cuban can flat rake

He’s in his fourth turn at AAA, and he’s half-a-decade (at least) older than his peers at that level. Sucker ought to be raking there, as long as he has any smidgen of talent at all.

Nova Scotia Steve

August 16th, 2010
3:44 pm

Hey Everyone!

I’m back from a weekend of softball…booze….camping….holy crap what a weekend…and it’s a statutory holiday here in Yukon today – so at least i have a day to recovering from four days of drinking…

PS

Glad to see the Braves took 2/3 so far be nice to finish of this Dodger team tonight!!! :D

IHEARTCARROLL

August 16th, 2010
3:44 pm

Great song Dave. My 3rd son is in his first week of basic training. Now you got my keyboard all soggy.

Bayou Brave

August 16th, 2010
3:45 pm

Everyone know that the Braves lead the NL in OBP. Did anyone realize that they also lead the NL in doubles with 225 to date.

GT Fan

August 16th, 2010
3:46 pm

Supposedly, he’s a defensive liability

And our current 1B isn’t?

Dan-82ndAirborne

August 16th, 2010
3:47 pm

GT Fan, he definitely is, but the argument is that Freeman is a decade younger and is putting up similar numbers without being a defensive liability.

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