Braves slumping at bad time, as September looms

SAN FRANCISCO – When it’s late August and the Braves go directly from surging over a 40-game stretch to losing five out of six, well, their followers get anxious for obvious reasons.

Zito had struggled in recent weeks, but against the slumping Braves he was dominant again Thursday. (AP photo)

Zito had struggled in recent weeks, but against the slumping Braves he was dominant again Thursday. (AP photo)

Because as much as some of them have asked us since spring training to please stop mentioning the September collapse, until the Braves bury that meltdown of a year ago by finishing a season strong and going to the playoffs, it’s going to hang overhead like a cloud. And right now, that cloud is getting darker.

Let me be clear: No one I know is predicting anything similar to last year’s 10-20 finish, simply because this is a better, healthier team that those Braves were down the stretch.

The 2011 Braves turned to rookies and prospects to hold together an injury-riddled starting rotation during the critical stretch drive, and two of the Big Three relievers were running on fumes, negating what had been the team’s biggest strength during the previous 4-1/2 months.

The current bullpen has a more-rested Craig Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty on top of their games, along with a recently resurgent Jonny Venters. And the starting rotation literally has more healthy arms than Braves officials knew what to do with, so they’ve gone with a six-man rotation for the last half of September, with mixed results.

I say mixed because the extra rest doesn’t appear to have done anything beneficial for Ben Sheets or Tommy Hanson, who’ve struggled lately to varying degrees.

Hanson was charged with five runs (four earned) in 4-1/3 innings in Thursday’s 5-2 series-opening loss to the Giants, and now he has a 6.82 ERA and .323 opponents’ average in his past six starts. He was outpitched by Barry Zito, who has struggled against just about everyone in recent weeks, but got right back on track with his second dominant performance against the Braves this season.

Tonight the Braves turn to Ben Sheets and the Giants start Ryan Vogelsong (10-7, 2.85 ERA). A couple of weeks ago, this would have looked like a promising matchup for the Braves. But Sheets is 1-3 with a 4.85 ERA, .294 opponents’ average and six homers allowed in his past four starts, after going 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA, .200 opp average and no homers allowed in his first three starts.

Still, for the Braves the pitching, especially with Kris Medlen providing a strong addition to the top half of the rotation since moving from the bullpen, isn’t the problem lately.

Thursday was another rough night and early exit for Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson. (AP photo)

Thursday was another rough night and early exit for Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson. (AP photo)

Clearly, the biggest issues has been the offense. These Braves have, for the most part, stopped hitting. Particularly with runners in scoring position, or when a situation has called for something fundamental such as hitting a ground ball to the right side or a flyball deep enough to get a runner in.

The Braves are 1-5 with a .199 batting average and 3.90 ERA in their past six games, with only 14 runs and two homers in that span. And nine of those runs came in two two games; they’ve scored two or fewer four times in past six games.

This six-game malaise came on the heels of a 40-game stretch in which the Braves were a majors-best 29-11 with a .249 average, 2.77 ERA, 200 runs scored and 43 homers.

Brian McCann’s shoulder is hurting and he’s been a shell of the hitter he was during six All-Star seasons, and Dan Uggla has been arguably the worst hitter in baseball for the past 2-1/2 months. There are no easy solutions regarding either player. The Braves want to try to get McCann through the season by resting him more than usual, but they know they’re an immeasurably better team with him doing anything close to what he’s done in the past, and keep in mind that he hit a career-high nine homers in July.

But in August, McCann is 8-for-52 (.154) with no extra-base hits and one RBI.

Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t seem inclined to bench Uggla for more than one game once in a while. Not only because he’s seen Uggla snap out of slumps overnight and carry an offense for weeks with torrid hitting, but also because Tyler Pastornicky is just not a second baseman. Not yet, at least. Alas, Uggla is 3-for-26 with no RBIs and one run in his past eight games, and in 66 games since June 5 he’s hit a stunningly poor .147 with a .257 slugging percentage and 81 strikeouts in 218 at-bats. On Thursday, Uggla had two baserunning blunders.

When the Braves face a lefty, Martin Prado could move to second base and Reed Johnson play left field, but that’s not something Gonzalez is ready to do with any frequency.

Uggla and McCann. That’s two big bats the Braves expected a lot from this season. And you could say their lack of production offsets the resurgence of Jason Heyward and better-than-expected performance of 40-year-old Chipper Jones, who can put a team on his back on any given night, but who will likely be in the lineup no more than two-thirds to three-fourths of the time because of his balky knees.

Michael Bourn’s performance in the leadoff spot has, more than any other Braves player, dictated how the team performs. And he’s been one of the best leadoff hitters in the league. But on nights when Bourn isn’t getting on base and causing havoc for opposing pitchers, it’s particulary important the Braves get better work from others and stop wasting so many scoring opportunities.

I mean, seriously, this just isn’t a good enough team to waste scoring chances time after time the way the Braves have done lately. The pitching is good, but the Braves don’t have a bunch of No. 1 or No. 2 caliber starters like the Nationals do. The Braves have maybe a couple of 2’s, a 3, and the rest 4’s or 5’s. Let’s face it. They’ve got to score runs and give that bullpen a lead if they are to win a wild card and have any chance of advancing in the postseason against teams that will have aces – or near-aces – going more nights than not.

The Braves have got to get their offense going again. Got to. Or else this little slump, which for now can be called a blip in the overall big picture, will threaten to become something far bigger. Because whether people want to acknowledge it or not, the specter of last September will hang over this team until it obliterates it with a solid finish.

Slumping Giants slugger Hunter Pence surprised the Braves with a push bunt that drove in a run. The Braves might want to try something like that when their regular RISP hitting is on the skids like it has been lately.

Slumping Giants slugger Hunter Pence surprised the Braves with a push bunt that drove in a run. The Braves might want to try something like that when their regular RISP hitting is on the skids like it has been lately.

In that regard, this recent slump couldn’t have come at a much worse time for the Braves, who have a fan base that wants to believe but can’t just shake the memory of last September when the calendar says late August and deficit in the NL East standings is growing and the lead in the wild-card race is shrinking.

• Hanson vs. Minor: For still another example of how wins and losses can be an entirely unreliable way to judge pitchers’ performances over the course of a season and particularly during periods within a season, just consider the past six starts by Hanson and Mike Minor.

As mentioned above, Hanson has a 6.82 ERA and .323 opponents’ average in his past six starts, surrendering 40 hits and 21 walks with 30 strikeouts in 30-1/3 innings during that span and lasting 5-1/3 innings or fewer in five of those six starts.

Minor in his past six starts has posted a 2.33 ERA and .237 opponents’ average, allowing 33 hits and four walks with 34 strikeouts in 38-2/3 innings lasting seven or more innings in four of the six. The only time he didn’t pitch at least six innings in that stretch was a rain-shortened 3-2/3 innings stint.

Glance at their stats again over their past six starts. I’ll give you a moment.

Now consider this: Hanson is 2-1 in his past six starts, and Minor is 1-4 in his past six. Hanson received just over 5.3 support runs per nine innings pitching in that span, while Minor received just below 1.9 support runs per nine innings.

In his past eight starts, Minor’s stats get even better – 2.29 ERA and .217 OA, with seven quality starts in eight games. He’s 2-4 in that period.

• Etc.

Sheets is 4-1 with a 1.73 ERA in his past seven starts against San Francisco, but only faced them twice in the past four seasons (both times in 2010)…. Vogelson is 0-2 with a 17.47 ERA and .500 opponents’ average in his past two starts, lasting three innings or less in each. This after going 10-4 with a 1.96 ERA and .213 opponents’ average in his previous 18 starts. Vogelsong has no decisions and a 0.96 ERA and .182 OA in two games (one start) vs. the Braves, including six innings of four-hit, one-run ball in a July 18 Giants win in Atlanta.

• Let’s close with a tune from one of the greatest Seattle bands, Screaming Trees, with the inimitable Mark Lanegan out front. You can hear it by clicking here.

Screaming.Trees

“ALICE SAID” by Screaming Trees

Alice said to come on in now it’s time for bed
The hour’s quite late I need a nap to clear my head
And later, down, the pillow softly calls to me

I’ve never sent down, bounced all around
Now I can’t see
Blind, happily
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/s/screaming_trees/alice_said.html ]
Alice said have you forgotten what will be
Concealed in smiles that come too late now I can’t see
The sun goes down, thoughts go astray
She might take my soul away

Don’t close the shade
Until the twilight fades

Alice said to come on in now it’s time for bead
The hour’s quite late I need a nap to clear my head
The sun goes down, thoughts go astray
She might take my soul away

Don’t close the shade
Until the twilight fades

Don’t close the shade
Until the twilight fades

Alice said…..

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

2,912 comments Add your comment

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:03 pm

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:04 pm

No mention of the fact that the awesome stretch came when the Braves were playing bad teams, and the rough stretch is when they’re playing good teams?

And that the schedule is filled with almost all bad teams after this weekend?

Arkansas Transplant

August 24th, 2012
2:05 pm

Brian, just in case you didn’t read this from last post..

Beckett may be having a bad year this year so far, but he may be someone in need of a change of scenery. Plus, we could get the Bosox to pay probably more than half of what he is owed, he’s signed for the next 2 years. He’d only be 34 at when his contract expired so he’s not too terribly old. It might also give us someone to throw out there in the one game WC depending on how sharp he looked down the stretch.

As far as the 6.6 k/9 this year.. could just be a down year. Change of scenery and change to the NL may do him a lot of good.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:06 pm

We could claim Josh Beckett off waives.. at least we could get a power arm that way.

Power arm my toe… losing velocity and only 6.6 K/9 this year…. fallen off on his power numbers since 2010… been pretty bad lately, worse than his career norms. His price if pretty insane too. He’d be worse than DLowe.

Stuart

August 24th, 2012
2:07 pm

Ever notice how players and teams “right” themselves when they play the Braves?

VaBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:07 pm

I think it’s safe to say that if McCann and Uggla were playing around there career norms we’d be within a game or so of the Nats. What really sucks is that McCann and Uggla arn’t just having below average season’s there having horrible seasons yet were in the Wild Card lead. This team had the potential to be the NL’s best team..

Tomahawkin (Suffering Fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:07 pm

Thanks for the New Blog from Frisco!

Slumping is an Understatement…

Now Can we Get Some “California Love!”

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:07 pm

Slumping Giants slugger Hunter Pence surprised the Braves with a push bunt that drove in a run. The Braves might want to try something like that when their regular RISP hitting is on the skids like it has been lately.

Cough cough…. sluggers shouldn’t bunt cough cough

Arkansas Transplant

August 24th, 2012
2:07 pm

TOBF, it’s thought that Boston would be willing to pay most of that too.

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:08 pm

AT, the Braves aren’t banking $31.5 million hoping Beckett just needs a change of scenery. They don’t have that kind of coin.

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:09 pm

TOBF, it’s thought that Boston would be willing to pay most of that too.

I don’t think you understand how the waiver process works. If the Braves claim Beckett, the Red Sox would just dump him, and his contract on us. They ain’t eatin’ nothing.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:10 pm

Bad time to slump, esp. against the Giants….. at least they’re leading their division right now

phil (the we're doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:10 pm

Vogelson is 0-2 with a 17.47 ERA and .500 opponents’ average in his past two starts, lasting three innings or less in each.
************
What else is there to say?

He’s gonna cut us to ribbons tonight….

Great piece, DOB. thx.

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:10 pm

AT, it would be much more reasonable if you said the Braves should try to trade for Beckett after he clears waivers. That won’t happen, either, but at least it’s within the realm of possibility.

No team is going to claim Josh Beckett. That would be preposterous.

ncscoots

August 24th, 2012
2:11 pm

who have a fan base that wants to believe but can’t just shake the memory of last September

You’ve been reading the blog, after all. Though I’d hardly call the sackcloth-and-ashes crowd here still bemoaning something that happened last year, the “fan base”. More the “fool base”.

I’m honestly surprised that you think most fans are still lugging that baggage.

tiger297

August 24th, 2012
2:11 pm

brian – thanks for that…angry fans blog more than happy fans so gotta stoke the fire

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:11 pm

Ever notice how players and teams “right” themselves when they play the Braves?

Like Johan Santana?

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:12 pm

http://www.ajc.com/business/stadium-deal-could-be-1505326.html?src=cb_article

Falcons might get that retractable roof stadium approved this year… Sweet!

If the Braves claim Beckett, the Red Sox would just dump him, and his contract on us. They ain’t eatin’ nothing.

This. Red Sox won’t eat anything, but Beckett will. Lots and lots of KFC ;)

Arkansas Transplant

August 24th, 2012
2:13 pm

as far as dropping off, he was 9th in cy young voting just last year. Posted a 2.89 and that’s in the AL and in the most competive divison.

George

August 24th, 2012
2:14 pm

Shaun

August 24th, 2012
2:09 pm
Shaun I know your expartise is in stats, but I am wondering what your opinion is of this extra WC team and one game play-in.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:14 pm

I’m honestly surprised that you think most fans are still lugging that baggage.

All the folks on Twitta are too…. I’ve let it go, no reason to think that a historic collapse will happen the year after the record is made. We’re much healthier this year, even if our rotation was so “bad’ that we had to insert our short/middle reliever in to stabilize it.

VaBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:14 pm

James Shields in my opinion would be the best overall target for starting pitching.

He’ll be 31 years old next season and has pitched his whole career in the AL East. A durable work horse top of the rotation pitcher. After this season that will make 6 consecutive 200+ innings seasons. He also has produced a career 3.97 ERA in the heavy hitting division.

He fits our budget and isn’t a financial risk. Under control for 2 more seasons. (Both Options)

9 million in 2013 and 12 million in 2014.

George

August 24th, 2012
2:15 pm

Thanks for new blog DOB.

Big Country

August 24th, 2012
2:16 pm

We all know it’s Obama’s fault.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:17 pm

as far as dropping off, he was 9th in cy young voting just last year. Posted a 2.89 and that’s in the AL and in the most competive divison.

Career 3.93 ERA in the bigs and hasn’t put together a full season since 2009. Before that was 2006 and ‘07.

eddie57

August 24th, 2012
2:18 pm

Put Ugglier on revocable waivers and see if there’s a GM out there as clueless as Wren. The worst that could happen is that nobody claims him. If someone claims him they get his salary and maybe Fredi-the-freeloader will be so distraught at losing his baby boy that he resigns.

Duh!

August 24th, 2012
2:18 pm

When the Braves face a lefty, Martin Prado could move to second base and Reed Johnson play left field, but that’s not something Gonzalez is ready to do with any frequency.

Of course not. We just need to “keep running Danny out there”. Makes much more sense.

phil (the we're doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:18 pm

scoots – Your optimism is appreciated but not widely shared, based on my informal polling of the usual blogger here…..

Too many things in common with last season roster-wise. I think most want to SEE positive results down the stretch, rather than just think it’ll happen. I sure do. I expect it even. But I’m wary because of stuff just like what’s happening right now. And I know….it’s baseball with its normal ups and downs, but we’re too streaky to suit me.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:19 pm

James Shields in my opinion would be the best overall target for starting pitching.

As long as the trade price isn’t too high. I’m not convinced that it will be… we don’t match up great with the Rays (they need a catcher) and would probably need to give Teheran, Delgado, + 1 pitching prospect, in addition to some throw-ins.

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:19 pm

Thank you, DOB.

MVPrado14

August 24th, 2012
2:19 pm

Last year’s collapse has nothing to do with this year. BUT the team is picking a bad time to be sputtering. I think that they will win enough games to gain one of the wild cards and they may even win that one-gamer (if Medlen starts). But the inconsistent play, the lack of confidence against quality opponents, and the continued lack of managerial leadership are what have me thinking that we will NEVER get past the Nats in the playoffs.

phil (the we're doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:20 pm

eddie57

August 24th, 2012
2:18 pm

Put Ugglier on revocable waivers and see if there’s a GM out there as clueless as Wren. The worst that could happen is that nobody claims him. If someone claims him they get his salary and maybe Fredi-the-freeloader will be so distraught at losing his baby boy that he resigns.
***********
Certainly a thought…..hmmmmm

cricket

August 24th, 2012
2:20 pm

Barry Zito, who has struggled against just about everyone in recent weeks, but got right back on track with his second dominant performance against the Braves this season

pretty much guaranteed that he’ll get off that track by giving up 5+ runs his next 2 starts against other teams pitching in exactly similar way

George

August 24th, 2012
2:21 pm

Past 6 games 3.90 ERA. If we cannot scrape up 4 runs a game, do we deserve to win games?

cricket

August 24th, 2012
2:22 pm

scoots – Your optimism is appreciated but not widely shared, based on my informal polling of the usual blogger here…..

guess my vote was not counted..

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:22 pm

Ever notice how players and teams “right” themselves when they play the Braves?

Yes, constantly.

phil (the we're doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:23 pm

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:19 pm

Thank you, DOB.
**********
sissy…

Efrim

August 24th, 2012
2:23 pm

James Shields in my opinion would be the best overall target for starting pitching.

Agreed. However I don’t see a match as the Rays need catching and power at 1B, DH and an outfield corner.

ncscoots

August 24th, 2012
2:24 pm

Your optimism is appreciated but not widely shared, based on my informal polling of the usual blogger here…..

That, in itself, ought to prove that I’m right, LOL.

phil, you’re a pessimist (and a darn good one, I’ll say), you make no bones about it, your posts reflect the attitude, and you manage to do so with civility and intelligence. You are one of the few dark-skies guys I can read here without rolling my eyes and snorting.

But plenty of these other folks are just low-self-esteem, high-emotional-investment twerps. You can’t expect me to give the opinions of such people much credence.

BF54

August 24th, 2012
2:24 pm

Hope Sheets on 5 days rest is carving up some Giants

flange1

August 24th, 2012
2:25 pm

Thanks for the new blog DOB.

Need a good game out of Ben Sheets tonight!

Arkansas Transplant

August 24th, 2012
2:25 pm

Last year’s collapse has nothing to do with this year.

It kind of does.. they did very little over the offseason to improve this club. We pretty much have the exact same team on the field this year as we did last year during the collapse. I know, I know.. we added Johson, Maholm and Sheets.. Like I said, we did very little over the offseason.

CB

August 24th, 2012
2:25 pm

Jon Lester would be much more interesting to me than Beckett, having a lousy season but solid before that. Contract is also reasonable for next seasons before hitting free agency.

cricket

August 24th, 2012
2:25 pm

If we cannot scrape up 4 runs a game, do we deserve to win games?

deserving has nothing to do with what you get in life

CB

August 24th, 2012
2:26 pm

phil (the we're doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:26 pm

I failed to define “widely”, cricket….

You’re in the more narrow of the two groups. I very much want to be but am not.

But if I need to define widely, I would say wide, like McCann.

Narrow would be more like Janish….

George

August 24th, 2012
2:26 pm

phil (the we’re doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:23 pm
Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:19 pm

Thank you, DOB.
**********
sissy…

**************
The man can write well and give us good INFO so saying thank you is nice.

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:28 pm

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:19 pm

Thank you, DOB.
**********
sissy…

I know, right?

DOB, you suck!

That better?

raleighbravefan

August 24th, 2012
2:28 pm

George – There has never been a post by you that was worth reposting.

BF54

August 24th, 2012
2:28 pm

MLBN says we have no chance to win the division,lets get our bats hot and see if they are wrong again like last year

George

August 24th, 2012
2:28 pm

cricket

August 24th, 2012
2:29 pm

Ever notice how players and teams “right” themselves when they play the Braves?

Yes, constantly.

for example? (other than Zito, who has had braves’ number and sucks against all other teams)

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:29 pm

Lester would not last nearly long enough to get claimed by the Braves. Are you saying trade for him in the off-season?

ncscoots

August 24th, 2012
2:29 pm

Yes, constantly

Name five, Brava. Just five. And you can have your choice of teams or pitchers. A team has to have been on a losing streak and then play .600 ball for at least a week; or a pitcher has to have lost at least three starts and then won at least three. That’s reasonable, no? That would qualify as “getting right”? Just five, is all I’m asking.

Otherwise, I’d call your use of the word “constantly” just one more example of the foolish hyperbole spouted by folks who know no better.

Lee

August 24th, 2012
2:29 pm

“When the Braves face a lefty, Martin Prado could move to second base and Reed Johnson play left field, but that’s not something Gonzalez is ready to do with any frequency.”

This just shows you how dumb Fredi really is. He’d rather play a guy that’s hit .147 .306 .257 .563 over the past 10-11 weeks and a .183 .317 .307 .624 line against LH starters than have our 2 best bats against LHP in the game.

Also, he should be platooning Ross and McCann at this point. Ross is hitting .296 .361 .481 .842 vs LH compared to McCann at .228 .262 .397 .659

At this point in the year, we should be running 2 different lineups out there vs RHP and vs LHP.

VS RHP
Bourn
Prado
Heyward
Chipper
Freeman
Uggla
McCann
Janish
P

VS LHP
Bourn
Prado (2nd Base)
Heyward
Chipper
Freeman
Ross
Johnson (LF)
Janish
P

Arkansas Transplant

August 24th, 2012
2:29 pm

I wouldn’t see an issue with us working a deal with Boston to get Becket if the Sox are willing to eat as much as 60 percent of the remaining amount left on his contract. You’d basically get Beckett at a cost of around 6.5 million a year over the next 2 years.

Eddie Haas

August 24th, 2012
2:30 pm

We do not need another pitcher! We’ll stroll into a wild card spot IF Freddie will keep Uggla on the bench, and Disable McCann. Unfortunately, that won’t happen. After almost 2 full seasons of idiotic managing, he’s not going to all of a sudden start doing smart things. Remember how he insisted on pitching Lowe last September?! Sad for Chipper to go out on a team that will again miss the playoffs because: A-idiot manager; B-Uggla who plays so uptight it’s unreal, ANDc-mCcANN WHO TWO YEARS IN A ROW IS KILLING US BYPLAYING MACHO MAN PLAYING HURT AND HURTING US. Freddie doesn’t have the sense or guts to bench them, and we’ll all be worse off because of it.

raleighbravefan

August 24th, 2012
2:30 pm

The Braves WILL be a wild card team…probably with the home field. At least 50/50.

When they win that game, will they be faveored in any other match-up. Possibly, but probably not. That absolutely doesn’t mean that they can’t get hot, on a roll, and win it all. (See Cardnals, 2011).

VaBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:31 pm

Efrim

What could we get for Hanson? Do you see this being comparable to the Jurrjens talks this past offseason?

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:31 pm

George, I hope the WOW” is not directed at me. I’m just having some fun with phil.

DOB is awesome, in my book.

cricket

August 24th, 2012
2:32 pm

George – There has never been a post by you that was worth reposting.

fixed ;)

George – There has never been a post by you that was worth posting.

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:32 pm

I wouldn’t see an issue with us working a deal with Boston to get Becket if the Sox are willing to eat as much as 60 percent of the remaining amount left on his contract. You’d basically get Beckett at a cost of around 6.5 million a year over the next 2 years.

Glad you’ve gotten of the “claiming Beckett” thing. The Red Sox would dance, but I doubt the Braves would. Declining performance, plus a toxic clubhouse presence. It’s just not a good combination, especially for a team like Atlanta.

CB

August 24th, 2012
2:33 pm

Brian, actually either way would be fine on Lester. Agreed he would probably not make it to us.

Steve

August 24th, 2012
2:33 pm

It just makes no sense to keep Uggla in the lineup. What is wrong with Fredi?

cricket

August 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

We do not need another pitcher!

7-man rotation !!!

Shaun

August 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

The fact that hits haven’t been coming with RISP is a basically bad timing. It isn’t a lack of a repeatable skill. It’s just chance. In other words it isn’t likely to continue, at least to the degree it has.

All indications are the Braves are one of the top three teams in the National League in 2012, by record and by underlying performance (things like Simple Rating System, Third-Order Wins). The teams’ make-up isn’t any different than it has been all season. If anything, it’s slightly better with Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm. The Braves also have a favorable schedule from here on out, with Washington and San Fransisco as the only really good teams left.

So unless there are serious injuries, the odds of a collapse look pretty slim. Anything is possible and certainly the Braves’ talent doesn’t mean they’ll make the playoffs, especially at this point in the season with such a small sample of games left, but the only other team in the wild card race with talent even close is the Cardinals. That’s not to say some other team can’t fluke their way ahead of the Braves at this point. But the chances are unlikely.

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

These days, the mantra should just be get to the postseason. We’ve seen time and again that anything can happen. We’ve seen teams with mediocre starting pitching go all the way (St. Louis, 2011). We’ve seen teams with no offense get hot and win the whole thing (SF, 2010).

raleighbravefan

August 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

phil (the we're doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

Scoots – I’m really not a pessimist. I’m also not a realist, such as that is. I’m also not optimistic. I’m some kind of weird mix of all 3 that varies from time to time.

ALL of this concerns only sports. I’m optimistic about much in life and where people are concerned, though things like the Lance Armstrong saga greatly sadden me and are a reminder that we should keep our faith in God, not in man….or in a tree or a rock or whatever for those who don’t believe in God.

It’s hard to have supported and pulled for Armstrong for 7 consecutive years, plus some other years when he didn’t win and to see it disappear like this while guys like Barry Bonds and Clemens face no loss of records and so forth (no HOF? doesn’t make up for it for me) after their basically blatant cheating.

At any rate…I like results, and rosy projections make me nervous, based on years of ultimate failure by my teams.

Shaun

August 24th, 2012
2:35 pm

It just makes no sense to keep Uggla in the lineup. What is wrong with Fredi?

It makes as much sense as Pastornicky at second or Prado at second and Johnson in left. I’m not sure why folks can’t see this.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:36 pm

What could we get for Hanson? Do you see this being comparable to the Jurrjens talks this past offseason?

Unfortunately yes…. could just non-tender him and get the same return. No room for Tommy Hanson anyway, imo.

Bronke

August 24th, 2012
2:36 pm

untill the Braves can show they can consistently beat the good teams the fans will always remember last year’s collapse. Too many excuses and too many guys at once struggling. The game is as much mental as well as physical. You can’t tell me McCann and Uggla’s struggles aren’t dragging the whole team down. They are creating an environment of stress for the rest of the team. I believe a true and seasoned manager would better deal with them both. It times like these down the stretch, I wish the Braves had a Sparky Anderson or Tony Larussa or even a Davey Johnson. Fredi is not wise enough or firm enough to deal with the egos of this team!

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:36 pm

scoots, really? I’m not going to spend the afternoon chasing down that information because, frankly, I’m not very good at that stuff. I think last season, more teams seems to turn it around on us, but this season, it’s been more individual players and pitchers. Hey, I watch all the games and see this stuff, but it’s not something I dwell on. If you want to disagree, fine, it’s a perception I share with Stuart.

George

August 24th, 2012
2:37 pm

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:31 pm
George, I hope the WOW” is not directed at me. I’m just having some fun with phil.

DOB is awesome, in my book
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No it was not Brava, I understand sarcasim, it was ment for ralieghbravefan, I thought he was above personal attacks.

Heisenberg

August 24th, 2012
2:38 pm

“When the Braves face a lefty, Martin Prado could move to second base and Reed Johnson play left field, but that’s not something Gonzalez is ready to do with any frequency.”
************************

I would love to hear the explanation behind this. Or would I?

I cannot say what is more pathetic, watching Uggla strike out swinging helplessly at a curve ball in the dirt or watching him finally get on base only to negate it with 2 of the most stupid base running moves I have ever seen.

Sundrop Kid

August 24th, 2012
2:38 pm

Doesn’t one just love how simplistic and “no big deal-like” Mr. Sportswriter can make what we are all seeing right in front of us. Even if there were no clouds in the sky, I think he would see “rainbows”! Hate to have to break the news but there is no pot of gold at the end of this “imagined” rainbow either.

G

August 24th, 2012
2:39 pm

Gonzalez better shake the idea that he doesn’t want to sit Uggla and play Reed or any other move. He needs to do want ever it takes to win

phil (the we're doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:39 pm

George – I was kidding with Brava…

And while I can’t name them specifically, there have been at least 5 instances this year where we faced a struggling bunch, or a pitcher down on his luck, and managed to help right their ship for em.

Part of it is just the game and th eodds, but part of it always makes me laugh….and wonder just a bit.

Houston beating us in atlanta while 3-33 or so on the road at that point….

Zito last night…

all i can remember but it happens to us a good bit, and probably to the other teams too…..just seems like us all the time because it’s our team and we care so much.

VaBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:39 pm

Expectations can stir the pot. Say for instance Hanson stays healthy and continues to pitch like he has been. Got a pitcher who does win ballgames but only gives us 5-6 innings on average, produces around a 4-4.4 ERA and is making 500k, but is due to make around 3.5 million next season. If everyone would accept him as a backend starter no one would be complaining.

3.5 million for 150 Innings 13 Wins 4 ERA isn’t that bad unless your pegged to be a ACE pitcher early on.

Think about it, Maholm is about to get paid 6.5 million next season and is basically what I just described.

ncscoots

August 24th, 2012
2:39 pm

I’m some kind of weird mix of all 3 that varies from time to time.

I feel better for you, now. :-)

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:40 pm

I don’t see Hanson as a non-tender candidate yet. Salary isn’t high enough to make him untradeable.

Brava

August 24th, 2012
2:40 pm

Arkansas Transplant

August 24th, 2012
2:40 pm

Shaun, it’s not helping Uggla to continually throw him out there right now. I don’t think anyone is asking that Freddi remove Uggla permanently but a few days off to clear his head and get re-energized just might do quite a bit of good. You never know. Now you can continue with advocating that they stick with Uggla but anyway you slice it.. he’s still in the bottom 3 of all NL second baseman right now.

Shaun

August 24th, 2012
2:41 pm

From Yahoo’s Jeff Passan:

The worst player in baseball is …

We always save the worst for last because sabermetrics isn’t always about celebrating achievements and accomplishments. Numbers give us something tangible with which we can judge a player against his peers, against his predecessors, against Babe Ruth if we truly want. The preferred tool today is Wins Above Replacement. FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference both have proprietary versions; each is marred by its inclusion of defensive metrics but good enough to give a decent idea of what’s what.

And they agree: The worst player in baseball this year is Kansas City outfielder Jeff Francoeur.

FanGraphs says he has been worth -1.7 WAR, which means by using a replacement-level player – some bum from Triple-A – the Royals actually would have won two more games. B-R is even harsher: The site has Francoeur at -3.0 WAR, which ranks as the 11th-worst season for an offensive player since 1901.

With a dreadful August and September, Francoeur could threaten the season both sites agree is the worst ever: Jerry Royster’s 1977 with Atlanta, a -3.7 FanGraphs and -4.1 B-R debacle. The utilityman hit .216/.278/.288 and, the metrics say, played brutal defense. Francoeur isn’t that bad, at .240/.287/.372, with a major league-leading 14 outfield assists, but as Wil Myers sits at Triple-A with a .311/.389/.603 line, 35 home runs and the title of best hitting prospect in the minors, it cannot be anything short of maddening for Royals fans to swallow where part of the cost of their ticket will go.

Kansas City owes Francoeur $6.75 million in 2013.

It’s sad that such a seemingly nice guy isn’t better at baseball.

onebravosfan

August 24th, 2012
2:42 pm

I think Hanson stays until Beachy comes back next year. It seems like Hanson has better first halfs than second halfs so hoepfully we can get somebody decent in return.

phil (the we're doomed now fan)

August 24th, 2012
2:42 pm

But….

Mercer did win a postseason basketball tournament this past March. It was a terrific thrill and something I NEVER expected to ever see in this or any other lifetime.

So….sometimes my pessioptimism gets rewarded!

ncscoots

August 24th, 2012
2:43 pm

It’s sad that such a seemingly nice guy isn’t better at baseball.

Helluva defensive football player, though.

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:43 pm

Were we all just that dumb or naive seven years ago to think Francoeur would turn into a star? I mean, if we say a player with his profile today, we’d have red flags all over him, with his lack of strike zone recognition? Have we gotten that much more educated in seven years?

Heisenberg

August 24th, 2012
2:44 pm

I have supported Uggla up to now but after the error against the Nats that allowed the winning run and the base running last night, his head is not where it needs to be. I have also NEVER said what many others have wished for but now I am ready. If Fredi insists on continuing to run Uggla out there, it is time for a change.

One-Eyed Mac

August 24th, 2012
2:44 pm

If you disregard last August, you could arguably say Uggla’s been one of the worst hitters in the league for the past 2 years!

VaBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:44 pm

Frenchy did have a solid 2011 season.

raleighbravefan

August 24th, 2012
2:44 pm

George – Sorry, I had a weak moment. Just kidding around. I just laugh whenever you feel the need to repost. No ill will intended. Again, sorry.

Efrim

August 24th, 2012
2:45 pm

What could we get for Hanson? Do you see this being comparable to the Jurrjens talks this past offseason?

We’d get more for Hanson. Three years of control, and better stuff – even presently. Jurrjens was cooked, and everyone knew it. People questioned his ability even when he was going good.

I have no idea if Frank would hold strong in any trade discussions for Hanson. I just know that there are a lot of really bad rotations out there, and those teams actually have acceptable offenses so they probably have some delusions of actually competing – Kansas City, Baltimore, Toronto.

Brian from SC

August 24th, 2012
2:45 pm

If you disregard last August, you could arguably say Uggla’s been one of the worst hitters in the league for the past 2 years!

If you disregard this July and August, you could arguably say that Uggla’s been one of the Braves’ best hitters this season!

Arkansas Transplant

August 24th, 2012
2:46 pm

WAR has no meaning.. no basis for judgement…

Shaun

August 24th, 2012
2:46 pm

he’s still in the bottom 3 of all NL second baseman right now.

Huh? For the 2012 season, he’s not even in the bottom eight among qualifying secondbaseman.

I would say the worst you could come up with if you really look at secondbaseman objectively, in depth for the 2012 season is that there are at least 7 qualifying secondbasemen worse than Uggla. There may actually be one or two more.

VaBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:46 pm

Well atleast we can say Uggla’s contract and performance isn’t the worst. I’d have to put Vernon Wells and Carl Crawford ahead of him, actually there are more we could consider worst overall.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 24th, 2012
2:47 pm

I don’t see Hanson as a non-tender candidate yet. Salary isn’t high enough to make him untradeable

Possibly, but if I were a rival GM, I wouldn’t be trading anything of value for him…. which makes me think that FW is less likely to trade him.

Arkansas Transplant

August 24th, 2012
2:48 pm

Brian, you would also have to take away most of June as well.

Shaun

August 24th, 2012
2:48 pm

WAR has no meaning.. no basis for judgement…

Why? Okay, use something different. If you use the correct information and use it appropriately and use it objectively, I doubt you come up with vastly different conclusions than where WAR points you.

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