Heavy load takes toll on Venters, Kimbrel

Packing up his locker Thursday morning, Braves reliever Jonny Venters said he wasn’t sure if he’d slept at all the night before over disappointment from the Braves’ collapse in the wild card. Not that he would admit to anything more than that, but consensus from the outside looking in, anyway, is that he wasn’t just tired from a sleepless night.

Venters finished the season with 85 appearances to lead all major league relievers. His 88 innings were tied for second most among National League relievers. Seven relievers in the majors appeared in 78 or more games, and he, closer Craig Kimbrel (79) and Eric O’Flaherty (78) were three of them.

For much of the September collapse, Venters and Kimbrel had the look of relievers on fumes, not by velocity but by a lack of command and uncharacteristic results. Both Venters and Kimbrel loaded the bases in Wednesday’s night’s loss to the Phillies, and Kimbrel gave up the tying run in a blown save in the ninth.

During the first five months of the season, Venters and Kimbrel combined to go 9-3 with a 1.46 ERA and a .163 opponents’ batting average, while blowing only seven saves and allowing two home runs. In September, they combined to go 1-2 with a 4.94 ERA and a .253 opponents’ batting average, while blowing five saves and allowing three home runs.

With the season over, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has started to play the what-if game himself, and he sounds somewhat torn about whether he overworked the back end of the bullpen.

“If we don’t use those guys, I don’t know if we’re (at) 89 wins, in the situation we were last night,” Gonzalez said Thursday morning. “I will tell you honestly there were probably a couple games in April and May, maybe we shouldn’t have used them. But coming off the All-Star break, I thought we did a hell of a job not using those guys and keeping them fresh.”

For their part, neither Venters or Kimbrel blames fatigue. And when asked about potential overuse by Gonzalez, Venters said: “The only reason the workload was what it was, was because we played so many close games.”

Wednesday’s loss was the Braves 26th extra-inning game of the season. The bullpen had to cover an additional 54 innings – the equivalent of six full games. Nobody is debating that took its toll.

Notable

With a crowd of 45,350 at Turner Field in their final game of the season, the Braves finished with a season attendance of 2,372,940. That’s the Braves lowest season attendance since 2004. The Braves had only 79 home dates because of two rainouts, but their average attendance of 30,037 was still second-lowest since 2004, behind a 29,304 average in 2009.

O’Flaherty finished the season with an 0.98 ERA which is the lowest season ERA by a reliever with at least 75 games since 1900.

95 comments Add your comment

Fish Bisch

September 29th, 2011
4:47 pm

Fredi’s right, if they weren’t used the braves wouldn’t even won 89 games. I mean, who else is he going to put out there instead? Linebrink, Sherrill, Proctor? Please.

DHD

September 29th, 2011
4:48 pm

The loss of Moylan was HUGE. Next year, if we have to keep Lowe, let him relieve. It’s young studs time.

Deez

September 29th, 2011
4:49 pm

Something needs to change. ASAP

DCDawg

September 29th, 2011
4:49 pm

The question isn’t whether Kimbrell or Venters should have been used in late innings. It should never have gotten to that if the offense held up its end of the bargain. Jason Heyward, Jordan Shaefer, and Dan Uggla were a hole in our lineup. Prado had an off year, too. This was the crux of the 2011 Braves. You do need to hit to keep pressure off our pitching staff.

Frank

September 29th, 2011
4:52 pm

DOB,

Do you think Medlen will be used as a starter or as a reliever in 2012? Just looking at the situation with the rotation and the pen, it seems like there is no spot open for him in the starting rotation. Given his previous experience working in the pen and the fact that he’s coming off of TJ surgery, do you think the team may consider using him as a reliever for 2012 even though they’ve said before that they view him as a starter over the long term?

SeaAtl

September 29th, 2011
4:57 pm

Having your starters average more than 5 innings is as much a key to this as the offense scoring enough runs to not require a closer in some games. And getting the starters back to pitching 7 + innings is a culture problem with the Braves – it starts in Spring Training. These guys need to go deeper in to games – that is not completely controllable all the time, but it is more controllable that the offense getting hot & cold periodically.

OJTrey

September 29th, 2011
5:04 pm

It’s true that Venters and Kimbrel were needed because of so many close games. But did Fredi ever think that if the offense could score more runs we wouldn’t have so many close games? I think it all goes back to Parrish. Good pitching stops good hitting. But it doesn’t do you any good if you can’t score runs yourself.

jimbo

September 29th, 2011
5:04 pm

Venters was over used and tired, Kimbrel however just couldn’t handle the pressure of the big game, any other reason is just an exuse.

Bobby Bobby

September 29th, 2011
5:18 pm

You have to look at Wren. He knew Lowe can onl pitch 5 plus, Huddy was a 6 plus inning guy, Hanson as a bumb shoulder,, JJ has history of injury, and Beachy a rookie would have innings limited. Knowing all this why did he not get an innings eater? It just does not seem to me Wren used any forethought.

BosnianBaller

September 29th, 2011
5:46 pm

I love Bobby Cox but he over used Moylan in the same way 2 or 3 years ago and now we see whats wrong with Moylan.Hopefully Venter flaherety and kimbrel will be diffrent

Barry

September 29th, 2011
5:51 pm

Fredi has the quickest hook in the majors. THAT’S the reason why the big three had so many appearances.

Just look at yesterday’s game.
1) Hudson is pulled after 102 pitches even though he was pitching well.
2) O’Flaherty induces a double play after TWO pitches. Does he pitch the next inning? Of course not. Freddi sticks to his formula and uses Venters for the eighth inning when he could have saved him for later.
3) Martinez pitches a flawless 12th inning with only EIGHT pitches. Martinez has pitched up to four innings in games during the year. Does he pitch the next inning? Of course not. Freddi uses Linebrink and we lose.
4) The Phillies had Hamels go three innings and Blanton two innings, with all other pitchers going one-two innings to stay sharp. Meanwhile, the Braves are in a do-or-die game and must use their best players. So how many pitchers did the Phillies use? Nine. How many did the Braves use? Eight.

Summary: Gonzalez is an awful game manager who deserves termination.

Robert

September 29th, 2011
5:57 pm

The problem was the offense, not over-using the pitchers. But as for managing mistakes, Fredi Gonzalez made two last night:

1. Not starting Alex Gonzalez. Jack Wilson made the error that coughed up a run. Wilson has no offense. While Gonzalez isn’t very good, 15 homers is better than “hope for a single.”

2. Not walking Hunter Pence. With two outs and the runner in the on-deck circle batting .198, I thought for sure they’d walk the .312 hitter to get to the automatic out and put out the fire.

BravesinTN

September 29th, 2011
6:10 pm

“The only reason the workload was what it was, was because we played so many close games.”

I totally agree – again, comes down to an overall lousy offense.

jim

September 29th, 2011
6:20 pm

Robert,
Gonzalez didn’t start last night because he had a leg injury hence no mobility. We can question the severity of the injury, but there is no reason to claim he could have or should have played anyway. The 15 HRs have nothing to do with fielding that DP grounder last night, and Gonzo’s defense has been much more than ‘not very good’.

Barry,
Those pitchers — Martinez and EOF were taken out because they were hit for. In particular, when Martinez was hit for Wilson had just bunted Heyward to 2nd base with the possible winning run. When a game goes 13 innings, there will not be a lot of good choices left in the bullpen (especially if you were to win, you would have to board a plane and play a game in St Louis the next day.)

jim

September 29th, 2011
6:24 pm

Unquestionably the heavy workload took a toll on Venters, but the other factor that has to be recognized is that the league made an adjustment to him. In the first half of the season he consistently got stikes on the sinkers almost in the dirt. In the second half of the season, a lot more of those pitches were taken for balls.

AZBravoFan

September 29th, 2011
6:27 pm

Barry:
You’re forgetting that this is not the American League. FG had to pinch hit for those guys to try and get a run and end the game. He’s not going to let EOF lead off an inning of a 3-2 game. Maybe he could have double switched but what was he going to do – throw Pastornicky out there for his MLB debut in that kind of game??

Growler

September 29th, 2011
6:30 pm

DOB writes:
“During the first five months of the season, Venters and Kimbrel combined to go 9-3 with a 1.46 ERA and a .163 opponents’ batting average, while blowing only seven saves and allowing two home runs. In September, they combined to go 1-2 with a 4.94 ERA and a .253 opponents’ batting average, while blowing five saves and allowing three home runs.”

This, in essence, is the reason for the collapse, shoddy hitting and managerial moves notwithstanding. The offense was always bad. But the relievers’ decline cost the Braves the Wild Card. Now, it’s a good point that if they had scored more runs, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.

But if a by-then tiring Kimbrel hadn’t blown a two-run 9th inning lead in Saint Louis, we also would not be having this conversation now. But he did.

Sometimes an entire season can come down to a pitch or two, like it did for the Braves that Friday night in St. Louis. It’s that simple.
If you don’t believe me, just ask Red Sox and Rays fans……

farmer

September 29th, 2011
6:31 pm

of course he overused Venters and Kimbrel! because Fredi is a complete idiot when it ocmes to managing a game. he is worthless.

kirkinga

September 29th, 2011
6:35 pm

ESPN had a stat that showed Kimbrel was used more times with no rest than other closer in the game. Venters lead in appearances. To argue that they were not overused is to insult fan’s intelligence.

We’ll get more truth come ST when players seem more willing to reveal about the previous season.

jim

September 29th, 2011
6:37 pm

Growler,
You are right. That was the biggest loss of the season. Kimbrel hadn’t given up a run in 39 innings, but he seemed to press trying to throw strikes to Theriot before having to face Pujols and lost the plate completely. That blown save seemed to affect his confidence for the rest of the month. A win that night, and the Braves win the WC.

DEPhilsPhan

September 29th, 2011
6:37 pm

Robert: You wonder why Freddi did not walk Pence (.300+ hitter) to get to a .198 who was on deck? It was because he looked at his watch and saw it was getting late and knew most of the “fans” wanted to get home to watch the NASCAR reruns!!!!

The Braves ran out of gas like “Billy Bob Redneck” coming down the back straight away…..hehehe…hahaha…hohohoho. I saw total attendance for the year was 2.3 million, the Phillies drew that many fans before the All Star Break. The more fans you draw, they more many to spend on players equals a playoff team. Just simple economics!

Coach (2011 Fredi G. a go!)

September 29th, 2011
6:38 pm

The bullpen workload was the result of an anemic offense, which of course is what happens when your coaching staff doesn’t get it done…….and they are all coming back. Sounds like a joyous circle jerk to me :(

Growler

September 29th, 2011
6:56 pm

Thanks for the comment Jim. I just think one can examine or parse any kind of stats into the ground, and second-guess until the next snowjam come January. But the nature of this is pretty clear-cut. There was a one in 100 chance (roughly) of the collapse happening, and it happened. If Kimbrel had made that save back then, DOB’s column today would have been talking about whether the offense could finally get on track for the Brewers, and what the Braves rotation was going to be. You may have also read a thing or two about tired arms in pen… but nothing more than that.
Imagine how different things would be in Boston today if Papelbon had gotten that final strike last night (in TWO different at-bats), and if the Rays didn’t get a 2-out, 2-strike HR to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th. That’s baseball!

BRAVESFAN

September 29th, 2011
6:56 pm

This bullpen earned their paycheck and break!

Chief

September 29th, 2011
6:57 pm

The rage I felt when I heard LP was returning is indescribable.

Why Chipper Why!?!

September 29th, 2011
7:12 pm

Yep Growler thats what it was. The Boston Tampa Bay deal was great baseball. The Braves collapsing was a comedy of errors, greed, and utter stupidity(on our managers part).

Pitching to Pence was classic Three Stooges management.

DC Brave

September 29th, 2011
7:25 pm

Anyone know if we have the full O’Ventbrel trio locked up for next season? Eventually…all of those guys are going to have to get PAID by somebody if they keep this up.

Mr Charlie

September 29th, 2011
8:10 pm

Everyone seems to forget that we lost our two best starters to injury. Sure we choked, but sometimes the baseball gods are against you. Our failing was hitting, had he had decent all year, we never have to use Oventell so much. We just never had room for error. A tip o the hat to Freddie.

Mr Charlie

September 29th, 2011
8:11 pm

I think Ventors and Kimbrell have a few years before free agency, their arms will surely be shot before then.

David O'Brien

September 29th, 2011
8:24 pm

Frank, Medlen could be used in either role in ‘12. But as you say, right now it looks like there will be more of a need and opportunity in the ‘pen than the rotation. He could really help the ‘pen with his versatility and ability to get lefties out as well as righties.

Joe Braves Fan

September 29th, 2011
9:16 pm

I do know this …

The fans no longer want to hear excuses, nor do they want to hear “well, maybe next year” ….

That’s B.S!

Fundimental organizational changes need to be made with this lifeless franchise and it starts at the top. Fredi Gonzales was horriffic and his coaching staff appears inept.

Time to clean house … and throw some old furniture out while you’re at it.

Piedmont Blues

September 29th, 2011
9:41 pm

A better offense would have eased O’Ventbrel’s work load. A slower hook would have helped, too. As would a more athletic infield with just a little range. Sure, Uggla, Alex, Chipper, and Freeman had only 39 errors between them. But how many hits did they give up that would have been ground outs on any other team? To be sure, Freeman’s hands and footwork around the bag saved a lot of baserunners. But he (and the rest of the IF) are slow as molasses. Which is a real problem when the three starters who threw the most innings are ground ball guys.

fire fredi

September 29th, 2011
9:45 pm

Fredi is a loser. As long as he’s the manager the Braves will be losers. Fire Fredi.

Stumpknocker

September 29th, 2011
10:31 pm

What this team need more than anything is the ability to produce runs. Time after time they were locked into one-run games or extra inning games. The bottom end of the bullpen never proved capable of holding the opposition, prompting the mngr to use his best relievers more than he should have. Pendleton never seemed to be the answer and I’m not convinced Parrish is either as(hitting instr). Lowe and Hudson eat up too much of the budget……let them go and use that money to get a couple of proven hitters….preferably right-handers…….Go with and live or die with the young-gun pitchers.

valyboy32

September 30th, 2011
12:14 am

we just suck just another team from the state of ga that cant get it right man what will it take

Elmer

September 30th, 2011
6:35 am

Get a left fielder with some pop (Willingham maybe) Prado ended up looking like the utility player he was before this year.

Bob the Blogger

September 30th, 2011
8:38 am

I criticized Fredi for his over use of Venters and Kimbrell like many of you early in the season. I checked the stats, all of the other relievers combined were 1 for 14 in save opportunites. The fact is that Fredi tried to use somone other than those two on 14 occasions, and got stung 13 times. With any kind of performance from the rest of the bullpen in save situations, we would have made it the the playoffs easily.

The Braves are obviously going to need another pitcher who can close some games. We could temporarily groom one of the new young pitchers for that roll until some of the older starters cycle out of the system. Another option is to move Derrick Lowe to the bullpen. We can’t just dump him like many suggest; he’s on contract. But he was a closer before he was a starter, and maybe he would be more effective in relief. Since he has closed before, maybe he could do it once in a while. But clearly, the Braves can’t continue running O’Ventbrel out there 85 times next year, or Lowe 34 times with an ERA of 5.

old scout

September 30th, 2011
8:48 am

Pitching in relief is the job of relievers. They didn’t pitch that many innings so shouldn’t be tired. All teams play 162 games. If the Braves are “worn out” maybe they should pay more attention to conditoning. Might also have fewer injuries if they are in better shape. Venters and Kimbrel had plenty on pitches to get hitters out at end of the year; problem is they couldn’t throw strikes or were wild in the strike zone. I suspect this relates more to not handling pressure than fatigue.

BRAVESFAN

September 30th, 2011
8:50 am

Before this season I thought a baseball game was nine innings long. Hope the starters gave you 1/3 of their paycheck.

Thanks O’Ventbrel

Ezekiel

September 30th, 2011
8:53 am

The Braves won’t do much until Liberty sells the team to a real owner who cares. Like some of the folks have said, there’s too much dead wood in the organization from top to bottom. Too much corporate mentality and not enough passion. Too much “professional” approach and not enough personal approach. Too much like a company and not enough like a team.

Arms vs Sticks

September 30th, 2011
8:53 am

“And when asked about potential overuse by Gonzalez, Venters said: ‘The only reason the workload was what it was, was because we played so many close games.’ ”

Take THAT, Sticks!

Random

September 30th, 2011
8:55 am

@ DCDawg — right on.

@ SeaAtl — Sorry, but you’re wrong.

First, let’s assume that the starters only went 5 IP. It is still the score that dictates which relievers are used. Too many close games (ie, no Braves offense) = overuse of the back end of the bullpen. The Braves did not overuse the entire bullpen, just the back end of it.

Even if all starters went 7+ IP, if the games were still predominantly 1-run affairs (ie, no Braves offense), the back end of the bull pen would still be overused.

@ OJTrey — you, sir, seem simply confused by the game.

@ Growler — You just don’t get it, do you? (I suppose logic is not your strong suit, is it?)

“The offense was always bad. But the relievers’ decline cost the Braves the Wild Card.”

The “relievers’ decline” was a direct result of the fact that “the offense was always bad” :roll:

Ezekiel

September 30th, 2011
8:58 am

Why did Freddi not get thrown out of any games down the stretch like every good manager would have done to light a fire under his team? He just sat there with his thumb up his butt and watched the train wreck.. and did nothing.

billmaier

September 30th, 2011
9:08 am

fredi- when you reflect please answer the question with the bullpen over worked and you knew it why in the world did vizciano go 15 days between appearances before tuesday– since in his previous 5 appearances before he had allowed o runs? was his injured, sick, or did you just forget he was on the team? Also reflect on how many leads, ties one run leads etc scott linebrink gave up this year– did you not see the same thing the rest of us did- he could not pitch? And the reflect on you continued refusing to move lowe out of the starting rotation– and how many losses that caused– when you reflect and all that and your refusal to hit and run to stay out of crucial double plays– then you will have your answer as to why we are no longer playing

bill

September 30th, 2011
9:15 am

It is true the players have to play the game, but over a long season like baseball they have to be handled properly, especially pitchers both starting and in the bullpen. Just look at this article, of the 7 relievers with 70 or more appearances, 3 of those were from the Braves with Venters leading this category with 85, followed by Kimbrel & O’Flarety in the high 70’s. Something is wrong here, we have to have starters going farther in the games. Then you add on a stat that in Sept., the Braves hit 177 with runners in scoring position. I also saw that in the NL with TP as batting coach last year we were 2nd in on base %, this year we were 12 out of 14….not very good. My point, the coach has to lay the plan inconjunction with his coaching staff. No one knows how injuries will impact the team, but all teams have them, to me this doesn’t sound like a very good plan in place to finish strong. Sept. speaks volumes about FG’s 1st year and to me it sounds like areas such as pitching & batting coaches should scrutinized indept for the upcoming year.

Brandon

September 30th, 2011
10:10 am

Just please don’t let Derek Lowe be in the starting rotation in 2012. Kawakami his ass.

Ted

September 30th, 2011
10:13 am

I’m sorry, but the excuses Fredi gives are pretty damn weak. These guys were tracking among the leaders in games pitched ALL YEAR. To say he couldn’t help it is BS – in May he should have known this issue was coming yet he kept on going.

Then, at the ASB, they acknowledged they were using guys down a run or two and vowed to stop that to slow down the pace – yet would still use them in situations where they weren’t needed. For example, 9/13 – he pulls Minor out after 88 pitches, forcing another 3+ innings on the pen. Then, with a 6-1 lead, he had Venters relieve Vizcaino with two outs and two on, a rookie batting and a .198 hitter on deck. 5 RUN LEAD IN THE 8TH – and he used Venters. The next two hitters could have hit HR – and the Braves would still be leading. Yet he used Venters.

Yes, the offense was the primary downfall. Yes, Parrish NEEDS to go because of the career-worst OPS years from old and young alike (McCann, Prado, Uggla, Heyward) along with severe OPS drops from Bourn and Alex. And, with better offense, I understand fewer close games.

But the offense struggled from Day 1. You simply can’t bury your head in the sand in May, in July and in September and keep abusing your bullpen all year when you KNOW you’ll likely be playing close games all year. If the Braves play 60 1-run games in their first 60 games, you have to accept that you’re not going to be able to manage the final 100 games the same way you managed the first 60. It’s called adapting – something Fredi simply did not do. And the bullpen suffered. Hopefully, the health of these guys won’t suffer long-term from the abuse. And hopefully Fredi will learn from this.

Kentavo

September 30th, 2011
10:58 am

Here’s an idea; sign one of the available FA closers with experience (Papplebon, Heath); and move Kimbrel back to set-up role; he simply cannot handle the pressure of closing out must-win games; sure he can do it through mid-summer, etc., but he folded like a cheap suit when it really mattered. Had he closed out those games in STL and FLA, we’d be playing tomorrow. Then we’d reallly have a stacked pen where you could choose bt lefty-righty for set-up. Unless the rotation is decimated again, I like Medlen in the pen bc he can throw strikes and is fearless. I think Arodys needs more seasoning in the minors to work on control. You have to expect some regression from EOF, but maybe not if he isn’t overused. Keep Martinez as the swing guy. Varvaro wasn’t bad, but needs to work on control, too. I think Moylan is toast.

Coach (2011 Fredi G. FAILED)

September 30th, 2011
11:28 am

Yea, Fredi Failed and here is how……..

Day one, Fredi went with two rookies in Brandon Hicks and Matt Young, then proceeded to let them rot on the bench before sending both back to the minors.

He went with Derek Lowe as the Braves opening day starter, nothing could have stung more for Tim Hudson. The ensuing season proved Fredi wrong in his assessment of his pitching staff.

Fredi’s decision to bat Prado at the top of the Braves order was a disaster right from the word go. Prado did hit .283 with an OBP of .323 but he also stole one base, scored an anemic 28 runs in 47 games, and got caught four times before Fredi finally wised up while realizing foot speed was more important.

The bullpen. Fredi burned’em and I’m talking toast. The man simply overworked Kimbrel, Venters and O’Flaherty. They were all gassed at the end…all three.

But what has got me steaming mad, ticked off and ready to throw Fredi under the bus is one single game. The one where Fredi showed such poor judgement that he arguably blew their whole season.

I’m talking about 19 inning affair on July 26th. I watched the whole damn thing. I saw McCann come up lame in the third inning with the sore oblique again. I watched Fredi keep Mac in the game into the tenth inning when McCann really did severely injure his oblique in extra innings. Mac went on the DL and never recovered his swing afterward. All because our manager didn’t have the common sense to bring Ross into the game knowing his catcher was already hurting.

As for Fredi’s decision to keep marching Derek Lowe out to the mound game after game…..the results speak for themselves. Only suicide could have been more effective at tanking the entire season.

Finally, yanking Chipper out of the three hole was robbing Peter to pay Paul. The switch went nowhere fast and really irked Chipper in the process. In the end Fredi showed impatience, indecision, poor judgement and really disappointed this fan beyond words.

Mike

September 30th, 2011
11:36 am

The biggest problem is Fredi manages the bullpen based upon stupid stats – the save and the hold – instead of by the highest leverage situations. And he is certainly not the only manager that does so, but he is one of the worst offenders IMO.

By my count, Kimbrel had 14 saves in which the Braves were ahead by 3 runs. Is that really the optimal use of your best reliever? Especially one that was overworked from the get go? If you don’t have 6 guys in the pen that can protect a three run lead for one inning, you’ve got the wrong 6 guys.

He also pitched in 5 games that I counted in which the team lead by 4 or more runs and a few when the team trailed by more than 1 run.

The same story with Venters. And he also pitched in games in which the Braves won by scores of 11-2, 10-1, and 10-1. I know there might be times when a guy needs to come in to “get some work”, but was that ever really a concern with this team given it was quite obvious they were going to playing tight games all year because of the strong starting staff and a weak offense?

The mismanaging of the bullpen, the fetish with the sacrifice bunt and intentional walks, and the regression of Heyward are the three biggest coaching concerns going into next year. I’m hoping Heyward’s issues were because of his shoulder and not coaching but time will tell.

The look of utter helplessness and trepidation that always seems to be on Fredi’s face doesn’t exactly inspire confidence either but that is probably me just imagining it or being unfair.

MR

September 30th, 2011
12:14 pm

Someone tell Frank “No Thanks, I’ll Pass” Wren that baseball is about more than pitching, adding more quality hitting to the team takes pressure off the bullpen. Can’t expect to win all your games by one run. High stress innings wear pitchers down faster, the remedy is to score more runs. Sometimes I think the Braves organization as a whole hates quality hitters. How many years has it been since the club had a 100RBI man…2006-2007?

SeaAtl

September 30th, 2011
12:23 pm

Sprinkled in the comments on this and DOBs blog are the inconceivable “our payroll is too low” / “It’s Liberty Media’s fault”……Maybe those posters are joking? Tampa has a payroll less than half of Atlanta’s; Arizona also has a lower payroll than the Braves….and Boston had a HUGE payroll….I thought it had been proven time and again that this didn’t matter?

SeaAtl

September 30th, 2011
12:26 pm

Random – really? Sorry, man, but if the starters can go 7 with regularity and on occasion even longer, then there are more options for the back of the bullpen. They are then only tasked with 1 or 2 innings, instead of 3 or 4. I don’t see how you can argue that.

sldkfjslk

September 30th, 2011
12:49 pm

We should have used our young arms more.

sldkfjslk

September 30th, 2011
12:50 pm

Enter your comments here

P Rose

September 30th, 2011
12:59 pm

The good news is Chipper and Lowe will both be back next year. Combined, they’ll once again hog fully a third of the team’s entire payroll. But you can’t put a price on that veteran leadership. The young players can look up to these vets for important life-lessons, such as how to beat a DUI, or how to tell reporters that baseball is hard and the fans can kiss your @$$.

P Rose

September 30th, 2011
1:02 pm

But seriously, the good news is that in 2013 Chipper will finally be gone, and Brian McCann can take over as the team leader.

Trainwreck

September 30th, 2011
1:11 pm

Guess Jack Wilson’s streak continues of longest tenure and never making the playoffs…

nashvillewill

September 30th, 2011
1:23 pm

So entire coaching staff to be retained, eh? In 1965 a good friend and Cardinals fan and baseball genius told me to be wary of the Braves move to Atlanta. He said the franchise was known as the worst in baseball. Former Beaneaters. Look it up. Anyway, I think he was correct. Watching them struggle through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and to begin to have success in the 90’s, I believe they mishandled success as badly as failure. One world series win with that group was major underperfoming. Yet we put up with Cox and playoff mediocrity as they now expect us to put up with Gonzales’ ineptitude and team’s mediocrity. Fans could rise up in protest, but do Atlanta fans care? We tend to passively throw up our hands and lose interest. What would it mean for the fans to actively say, “We care too much to sit back any longer.”?

Howard Beale

September 30th, 2011
1:26 pm

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

Bob Davis

September 30th, 2011
1:29 pm

Hey, “P Rose,” I assume you’re blaming the Braves’ front office for the “hog” you mentioned of the payroll by Lowe and Jones, right? I don’t recall anyone putting a gun to anyone’s head to force them to offer them that kind of money. Would you turn down $60 million over 4 years (Lowe’s contract)? I rather doubt it….

Mike

September 30th, 2011
1:30 pm

We mention O’Flaherty in passing but if the other two were tired, why not O’Flaherty. He just kept going. The tired thing just dosn’t hold water. It was lack of experience. Kimbrel as much as said he let his emotions get the best of him.

DogsBrekky

September 30th, 2011
1:45 pm

We used the BIG 3 RP in games we TRAILED for no bloody reason in games we lost… you only use an effing nuclear warhead when you need to … not every bloody day… Freddi couldn’t orgnise a pees up in a pub

Dennis

September 30th, 2011
1:45 pm

I, for one, am sick of the innings “rule”. More and more managers are using a 100 pitch count as the defining moment when the starter is pulled. That may be ok for a guy like Maddox who quite often pitched complete games with less than 100. Now though we have far too many pitchers who struggle to get past 5 without passing 100. I know that strikeout pitchers throw more, but Beachy either has to improve his endurance to get to 120 or so, or he has to find a way to cut his pitch count down. Hanson is pretty much in the same boat. Jurjens simply throws too many pitches and nibbles at the plate. If the starting staff can begin to get a solid 7, then the bullpen won’t be so overworked. Of course having a 3 or 4 run lead in the 7th would help as well. So many things need to be done. As much as I love Chipper, it is time to retire. I am sure his pay can be stretched out over an 8 or 10 year period so he won’t lose that last year of his contract and certainly the Braves would find something for him to do in the organization. That would allow (along with the salary of McLouth and Kawakami) for the Braves to improve their offense. I am saddened by the way it ended but believe the team can be improved and compete in 2012.

steve

September 30th, 2011
1:50 pm

bringing back [ L P ] the bating coach thats team droped about 60 pts on team bating average is dumb dut that what wren dose. braves fan for years. time to start looking eles where.

Howard Beale

September 30th, 2011
1:53 pm

Yes, Bob Davis, I’d take $60 million if someone offered me that to play baseball. I never blamed the front office for anything. If anyone, I blame Lowe for not admitting he’s washed up and giving some of the money back. He is a very, very wealthy man, and a bad pitcher now, plain and simple. Every time he starts, the Braves lose. Yet they have little choice but to hand him the ball every fifth day, for one more year, and suck it up. I don’t like it, the fans don’t like it, the other players don’t like it, and the front office doesn’t like it But it is what it is.

Mitchell

September 30th, 2011
1:57 pm

Why did Fredi overuse his bullpen?

Because we didn’t score enough f*ing runs.

It was evident from Opening Day. These guys were not performing the way they were expected to perform. They weren’t performing the way they should expect from themselves.

The centerpiece of this offense is a 39 year old. That’s one thing but then you have Jason Heyward fall off a cliff, Dan Uggla hits one meaningful home run on the last day of the season, Martin struggles to hit while playing both left field and third base (something Chipper never had to do in the same season, not as much as Martin at least) and Brian McCann fails to find his bat after returning from an injury of his own.

They are reasons and there are excuses. What was clear was that nothing was clicking. If at that point you as the general manager observe these struggles and the harm it is doing to your best-in-the-game bullpen and do nothing, you deserve to spend October home with the family.

Really he deserves to spend the winter trying to find a new job and home for said family but that obviously isn’t happening.

Good luck next year Frank. Keep up the excellent work.

Gee, what’s with all these empty seats?

P Rose

September 30th, 2011
1:58 pm

Bob, you’re right, no one put a gun to anyone’s head to make them sign anything. No one is putting a gun to Derek Lowe’s head to make him come back and hurt the team another year, either. Nor is anyone putting a gun to my head to make me continue to but season tickets to watch him hurt the team again next year.

Leo Mazzone

September 30th, 2011
2:02 pm

Geez, what are you guys talking about? I wouldn’t change nuthin’. The Braves are gonna be fine. Chipper is one of the best in the business, and Derek Lowe had some bad luck but he’s gonna be fine next year. This is a doggone good ballclub.

Random

September 30th, 2011
2:04 pm

SeaAtl (September 30th, 2011 12:26 pm): “really? Sorry, man, but if the starters can go 7 with regularity and on occasion even longer, then there are more options for the back of the bullpen. They are then only tasked with 1 or 2 innings, instead of 3 or 4. I don’t see how you can argue that.”

If they’re all 1-run games (ie, no offense), you’ll still be going to your closer/deputy closer over and over and over again, with the same results as this season.

P Rose

September 30th, 2011
2:14 pm

There is a reason it’s called a baseball “club.” It is a club, and you and I are not in it. That’s why all the coaches are coming back, why Derek Lowe will get the ball every fifth day, why no one within the organization will blame anyone for anything, and why Leo Mazzone, Chip Caray, Ron Gant, and Brian Jordan, etc. remain sunny while we suffer and moan. It’s be cause they are all in the club, and we aren’t. But guess who pays the salaries of every single person in the club – we do. We have a right to vent and complain on these blogs, and to protest the mediocrity and the status quo by leaving all those empty seats at the ballpark. That’s really the only way we can send the members of the club a message that they’ll listen to – by hurting their bottom line.

Mitchell

September 30th, 2011
2:14 pm

Robert

September 29th, 2011
5:57 pm

The problem was the offense, not over-using the pitchers. But as for managing mistakes, Fredi Gonzalez made two last night:

1. Not starting Alex Gonzalez. Jack Wilson made the error that coughed up a run. Wilson has no offense. While Gonzalez isn’t very good, 15 homers is better than “hope for a single.”

2. Not walking Hunter Pence. With two outs and the runner in the on-deck circle batting .198, I thought for sure they’d walk the .312 hitter to get to the automatic out and put out the fire.

If I were managing the team at that point I would have stopped caring too.

That’s the only thing I can fathom. It just seemed like, “What’s the point?”

Obviously that’s not what he was thinking. I don’t know what he was thinking but the game was lost at that point anyway.

Most of the time during the regular season my feeling is, “Fine, get it over with. Why waste the bullpen any longer if we aren’t going to score?”

It’s a little different when it’s the last game of the season but what the F.

They weren’t going to score just like they couldn’t score for the other 161 games. The only time this team ever walked off was when the game was tied.

From April to September, when they entered the 9th inning trailing, they had no life, no patience, no tenacity, no fearlessness.

They were dead. Twice they tied a game at home trailing in the 9th. Once on a solo home run and the other on a Brooks Conrad two run home run. Only once did they overcome a 9th inning deficit and walk off with a win on a clutch base hit. Freddie Freeman, two out single off Brian Wilson.

That’s it. One time.

How does that happen?

I knew this year wasn’t going to be exactly like last year. I knew we probably weren’t going to repeat the seven run 9th inning we had against the Reds in 2010 capped off by the grand slam.

There was a part of me that wondered if any of that would carry over though. But it didn’t. At all.

Not whatsoever.

How do you go from having so many clutch hits in a single season and in the post-season and one season later have so very few? By comparison, there is no comparison.

It’s unbelievable. This team just has no continuity, no consistency.

If they had brought half the seat of their pants, fearless style of play to this season and the same desire to win for their manager, not just for themselves, they would have won the wild card.

They did not show Fredi the same committment and the same they did Bobby Cox.

And what did Bobby Cox ever do for them?

They got him to the playoffs against a lot of odds and obstacles and all he did for them was blow another f*ing playoff series singlehandedly when it was right there in their hands.

F*ing senile idiot.

Say what you want about Fredi but don’t say you miss Bobby Cox.

AFAN

September 30th, 2011
2:40 pm

the bullpen will be even better next year. Imagine how much it would have helped our 3 horsemen had we had Medlen for the year. Also vizcaino will be better in the pen next year.
As far as the starters we shall see but we still need some pop in our lineup.

Robert

September 30th, 2011
2:44 pm

“The loss of Moylan was HUGE”

Agreed

So it’s May or June and you’re in a tight game – do you use Oventbrel AGAIN and have to worry that maybe the innings will take their toll and it will show in September or do you use Proctor and just go ahead and lose now?

Fredi did the best he could with the bullpen under the circumstances

Robert

September 30th, 2011
2:47 pm

“Say what you want about Fredi but don’t say you miss Bobby Cox.”

I miss Bobby Cox like I miss having crabs

Bobby

September 30th, 2011
2:50 pm

Didn’t see that anyone else had shared this about Kimbrel. Possible NSFW Language

http://deadspin.com/5845350/hey-craig-kimbrel–dont-worry-the-internet-has-found-your-wallet

P Rose

September 30th, 2011
2:52 pm

Chipper told a reporter that the players wanted to win more than the fans wanted them to, and that the fans could kiss his @$$. Then he staged a pep rally with the players in the dugout before the game. Then he went 0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts.

Now he is on vacation for the next six months, enjoying his enormous wealth, which came directly from the fans. Meanwhile, we fans only have three weeks vacation a year, so we’re back to work, earning a minute fraction of what Chipper “earns,” and we’ll spend a sizable chunk of our salary on season tickets again next year.

We fans look forward to the next game, but there won’t be one. This will be the first Friday night without Braves baseball since the beginning of April.

There’s a hollow feeling in the gut of a Braves fan right now, not only because the season is over and shouldn’t be, but because the supposed team leader has so much disregard for us.

When he is in the Hall of Fame, I’ll tell my grandchildren that I used to go watch him and he was a great player. But I’ll be glad when he finally retires and the Braves begin a fresh new era, free from the ties with the perennial underachieving teams that were led by Chipper Jones.

Markian S

September 30th, 2011
2:53 pm

We enjoyed our time in Atlanta. Let us return the favor, when you visit South Street in Philadelphia.

Joker

September 30th, 2011
3:14 pm

Well………somebody should go. The manager, coach(s) or some of the players. The Braves completely came apart, and some kind of action much me taken to insure that 2011 season is successful.

Geno

September 30th, 2011
3:16 pm

Starters need to go deep. No more of this six inning garbage. Halladay has more complete games than the the entire Braves pitching staff.

STYLIN

September 30th, 2011
3:16 pm

WHAT IS WRONG WITH JASON HEYWARD?????????????????

tdmorgan

September 30th, 2011
3:20 pm

There were surely a lot of things that went wrong for us this year. I think the two largest had to be the injuries/offensive slumps that we sustained, and the other being mistakes by FG. Uggla’s 1st half disaster really hurt the offense the whole 1st half of the season. After that Chipper went down for arthro surgery and started really hitting after that, and McCann went down after that and never regained his swing. Prado was a disaster after the Staph Infection and Heyward had a terrible Sophomore year (although he showed a slim glimpse of coming around towards the end of the season) next year will be really telling whether he really will improve. Bourn was not quite what we hoped for after coming over, no where near his Houston statistics. AGon had a bad year also, not terrible for his norm, but certainly could have done better. And that isn’t even taking into account Beachy going down early in the year for a few weeks, JJ and Hanson being lost for basically the whole post All-Star Break. Could we have really challenged the Phillies this year, who knows. Our offense was supposed to be a whole lot better than it was, but we never had a chance. And it doesn’t help when your top 2 starting pitchers go down for the second half of the season. As much as we had go wrong, we were there until the last day. There will almost always be key injuries in a season, but hopefully next year will not be quite so bad.

Chet

September 30th, 2011
3:52 pm

The problem with Kimbrel that night was control not speed. This is where I blame Fredi, he had not tried to get Kimbrel into a game for 5 days. A closer cannot go that long between appearances and maintain their control. The Braves decline started when Constanza hurt his ankle running to first base and Fredi started playing Heyward again. Constanza was never worked back into the starting lineup again after that. He was still hitting .306 at the end of the season while Heyward was hitting .220 something.

BRAVESFAN

September 30th, 2011
3:53 pm

Larry Parrish is gone. When are we going to hear what the players really thought of him?

bravo bravos

September 30th, 2011
3:55 pm

It seems obvious the bullpen was fatigued from overwork…not that the same wasn’t true under Bobby. The reasons have been accounted for by others here. It would be great to see MLB go to 26 player rosters which would allow for 13 pitchers. The game is obviously different than a generation ago when starters went 9 or more innings or at least deep into games. What we did see in those days were a slew of shortened careers among starters because of arm problems. Think Sandy Koufax. Pitchers today are watched closely on pitch counts because of potential injury. Of course the overuse of relievers is now a problem. It’s like use ‘em up and move on to the next young flamethrower.
As for the Braves down the road…a six man rotation was considered this year. With as many arms as they have and with the idea of protecting those arms, a six man rotation makes sense. Pitching every sixth day allows guys to go deeper into games. Choose among Hudson, Jurrgens (probably), Hanson (hopefully), Beachy, Medlen, Minor, Delgado, Teheran. Send the other two to the bullpen with OVK and Lowe and consider carrying 13 pitchers at least for part of the season so Martiniez can be added to the mix. Another consideration is parting with one of the young guys (and not the lefty Minor) for another bat ( a good clutch hitter).

CMC

September 30th, 2011
3:56 pm

DOB,

I think that a priority should be made come March in Orlando to extend our starters to go more innings and ask less of the bullpen. If you think about it, high school pitchers go seven innings – a comlete game at that level. And many times this year the Braves starter was taken out of the game after 5 or 6 innings when the pitch count was still not considered high. If a kid in high school can give you 7 innings, why can’t we expect the same for a major leaguer?

lucas

September 30th, 2011
4:04 pm

the team looks lost. freedie gonzo shows zero emotion.

heyward…. whats the deal with heyward. gezz…i wont feel so bad when he leaves to go to the dodgers or yankees now.

we need-
two starting pitchers that can pitch past the 4th inning
shortstop that show heart and hustles.
right fielder that can do something at the plate beyond opening day.

and sorry chipper, we need you to step down and let this team turn the page.
prado to third, and infill with a quality outfielder.

big damage and diaz can go help finish up some mens softball leauge season.

tdmorgan

September 30th, 2011
4:06 pm

SeaATL, I completely understand what you are saying. If the Starters could go 7 or more innings than yes you can still use your best guys to finish off games, but instead of having to use all 3, you use 2 and therefore they could be rotated more often. Which means each of the O’Ventbrel trio would potentially have pitched 2/3 of the amount of innings that they did. I remember when Nolan Ryan started to really get involved with the Rangers before becoming an owner he started to have his pitchers go longer in games, the first year it was a little rough on them, but they are a much better club now. They have had a consistently strong offense and now have starting pitching to match.

usnavyvolfaninva

September 30th, 2011
4:15 pm

Some of you guys crack me up…
Getting thrown out of ball games does not a good manager make. If Fredi had been thrown out of every game this season, but only won 69 games or so, would you be happy?

usnavyvolfaninva

September 30th, 2011
4:16 pm

Joe Torre never showed any emotion managing the Yankees….I’d say he had pretty good success in spite of that.

tdmorgan

September 30th, 2011
4:19 pm

For all of those that are complaining about Chipper, y’all are completely lost…yes he is not the best 3rd baseman in the game like he was in the 90s and early 2000s, but he is still in the top half, and when he’s actually healthy a definite top 10 3B. Chet if you are looking at only Constanza’s ending average then you are looking at some awful stats because when he was actually producing he was hitting over .400. Starting August 16, he started the day batting .421 and from that point until the season ended (which he finished at .303) he went 9 for 52, that is a .173 average, he averaged less than 3.5 pitches/PA for the season (lower than Alex Gonzalez). He had no extra base hits, was 2 for 5 on stolen bases and he only had 2 walks. There’s a reason he didn’t play.

Sons of Rick Matula

September 30th, 2011
4:31 pm

Attendance slumps, fans are obviously pissed — throw the hitting coach over the wall. It’s a start.

jim

September 30th, 2011
5:42 pm

bravo bravos,
Koufax suffered from arthritis. His career was not shortened because of overuse. In his last season he won something close to 25 games. He was one of the few athletes that went out on top (Jim Brown, Rocky Marciano). He was not all that young either — It took him about 5 years out of college before he became the dominant Koufax, The other star pitchers of his generation — (and before and after) Spahn, Marichal, Drysdale, Seaver, Gibson, Palmer, Carlton, … all had long careers.

As I See It

September 30th, 2011
11:05 pm

Regardless of what Frank Wren says Parrish is getting the blame for 90% of what is probably NOT his fault. Granted, being a first year batting coach, he didn’t know enough to be able to help someone like Jason Heyward. And, with his lack of experience it’s probably best for the Braves that they did part ways with Parrish as their batting coach.

But, I’m not convinced that even Charlie Lau would have been able to do anything with this particular Braves offense. So many of them broke down all at once. In the first half of the season McCann was about the only one able to hit. Even Freddie Freeman got off to a very slow start.

How many of these players that couldn’t hit even went to Parrish to seek his help with their problems? He can’t do a thing if they don’t ask him for help. Chipper goes to his dad. McCann talks to his brother. That’s not exactly showing that they have a lot of confidence in their new hitting coach.

I’ve also got a feeling that Fredi didn’t exactly like Wren going behind his back and firing Parrish, immediately after Fredi just got through saying he’d be back. Once again, that shows Wren’s lack of tack in handling delicate situations. I still remember the way he shoved John Smoltz out the door so unceremoniously! Maybe Wren should have fired himself while he was at it. What makes Wren more worthy of staying in the organization than Parrish? Tell me that Wren hasn’t made as many mistakes as Parrish did! And, he’s STILL not learned how to do his job correctly!

So, goodbye Larry. Hope your next job works out a lot better for you than this one did.

Livison

March 21st, 2012
1:54 pm

I disagree about the DH for this raeson Jim Thome. Would he have gotten a chance to keep playing if the DH no longer existed? Would he have ever gotten to 600 HR? Players like that who age, but can still contribute to teams makes the game better, and they can generally only play DH when they get older. David Ortiz is another example. Adam Dunn too (although not a good example this season).

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