The Braves’ best (but mostly the worst) of 2009

Never let it be said that I don’t try to serve the audience. Here’s a little something with which to disagree while you’re sitting around monitoring the Braves-Cubs game this afternoon. Here are first-half Braves superlatives, and whatever the opposite of superlative might be.

Most Valuable Player: Javier Vazquez. I didn’t much like this trade over the winter, but only a fool would argue with the results. He has outpitched Derek Lowe (by quite a bit) and Jair Jurrjens (barely). But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t trade Vazquez for the right big bat.

Least Valuable Player: It’s tempting to say Greg Norton — hard to top, as it were, a .098 batting average — but nobody really expected much of Norton. And I’m sure Kelly Johnson (.214 BA) will receive much support in this competitive category, and I can’t say as Casey Kotchman has done all that much, either. But Jeff Francoeur is the choice: He has 18 extra-base hits and 12 walks in 316 plate appearances. That’s awful.

Best rookie: Here’s a hint — his first name’s Tommy.

Worst rookie: Jordan Schafer had 34 hits against 63 strikeouts before being demoted. He hit a home run on Opening Night in Philly and only one thereafter. He wasn’t ready. And now he’s blocked by Nate McLouth.

Best outfielder: This is a bit like being the most accomplished ice fisherman in Florida, but it is, virtually by default, Glidin’ Garret Anderson. He has five home runs and 30 RBIs in 216 at-bats, which makes him the Babe Ruth of this crew.

Best series: Martin Prado against the Phillies last week — 7-for-12, four extra-base hits, six RBIs.

Worst outing: Jeff Bennett against the Yankees on June 23. Yielded the go-ahead single to A-Rod and a homer to Nick Swisher, and in between he broke the little finger on his left hand by punching a door. This revelation prompted Blindog to offer this on the ol’ blog: “When I read that Jeff Bennett had broken his non-pitching hand, I thought … which one?”

Best game: The 5-4 defeat of Philly last Tuesday. Prado had four hits and four RBIs, three of which tied the game, the last of which won it.

Worst game: The 1-0 loss to Boston and the ancient knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Not because it was so poorly played but because the Braves seemed so … helpless.

Wildest week: The Braves demoted Jordan Schafer, released Tom Glavine, traded for Nate McLouth, promoted Tommy Hanson, got trashed by John Smoltz and Glavine, apologized to Glavine and managed to get shut out in consecutive games by Milwaukee. That was June 1 through June 7. A month later, I’m still dizzy.

Worst season by a Hall of Fame manager: Let’s stipulate by saying a bad season by Bobby Cox would be the best season Bobby Valentine has ever had. But still … the Braves have pitched too well to be under .500 at this late date. No, they can’t hit much, but Cox waited too long — bloggers, take a bow — to bench Kelly Johnson and to let Francoeur linger as his everyday right fielder.

Best-case scenario: The Phillies don’t find any pitching and the Mets never get healthy and the Braves win the NL East by default.

Worst-case scenario: Frank Wren gets antsy and trades away the rest of the farm system for a short-term rental bat and the Braves do as they did when they got Mark Teixeira two Julys ago — finish third anyway.

103 comments Add your comment

The_Superhoo

July 8th, 2009
1:34 pm

Best outfielder isn’t McLouth??

Leslie Chow

July 8th, 2009
1:38 pm

I no like Bennet since he choke against Boston and Yankee hitters. You need make award for sucky Kotsman also.

JeanE

July 8th, 2009
1:41 pm

Sadly, you are oh so right. It is pitiful. I’ve come to expect them to win one, lose one, win one, you get the picture. But I still wouldn’t trade Vasquez. You never know when one of these starters will go down & you can’t count on Hudson to be OK. Cox is, as you said, having a horrible managing season. It was obvious a long time ago that KJ should be sat as well as Francoeur. But he hung in there with them past their expiration date & the team suffered. There’s reason guys love to play for him, he is loyal to a fault & doesn’t get in your face. Love the promotion of Conrad from Gwinnett, saw him play there, he is really good. Still haven’t given up on this team but pessism is setting in. Also, please play Diaz more often, he never gets the benefit that Franceour does. One 0-4 night & he’s back to the bench, whereas Jeffy played night after night doing the same thing!!! Totally unfair.

J Dub

July 8th, 2009
1:41 pm

Greg Norton has to be the Least Valuable. He did nothing for this team except waste a roster spot.

GT, where nerds get shot and robbed everyday

July 8th, 2009
1:43 pm

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 8th, 2009
1:44 pm

The_Superhoo

July 8th, 2009
1:44 pm

McLouth (Braves): 5 HR, 15 RBI in 110 AB, .297 BA, .847 OPS
McLouth (Total) : 14 HR, 49 RBI in 278 AB, .274 BA, .833 OPS

Anderson: 5 HR, 30 RBI in 211 AB, .275 BA, .707 OPS

McLouth wins?

Let's Go Bravos!

July 8th, 2009
1:48 pm

We’ve had a rough 1st half of the season, but I believe that these Braves can still win the division. We’ve got good pitching and that’s generally what it takes to win the division. All we need to do is have our hitters be more consistent at the same time. I’m tired of seeing Prado or McClouth being the only hitters that can hit one night, while McCann and Chipper turn it on the next night. They need to have more drive to perform day in and day out. Why is that? Why can they only be pumped for games against the Phillies and Mets? Do we have any clutch hitters, that when we are down by 1 with 2 men onbase can deliver a shot to the gap to win the game? Our guys need to find their winning spirit inside of themselves before this team will begin to be compete at a high level! Let’s go Bravos, play the way I know you can!

Mark C.

July 8th, 2009
1:50 pm

How is the bullpen meltdown in Philadelphia not the worst game? That was crushing.

Mark Bradley

July 8th, 2009
1:51 pm

I give Garret bonus points for having been here all season.

Mark Bradley

July 8th, 2009
1:53 pm

The bullpen meltdown was pretty awful, but that was the third game of the season. The Boston loss seemed to culminate the frustrations of the first three months. (And then, for no reason, the Braves went out and won the next five.)

Leslie Chow

July 8th, 2009
1:57 pm

I take away point from Anderson because he lazy with his glove. Slow and Lazy

GT, where nerds get shot and robbed everyday

July 8th, 2009
1:58 pm

I thought the worst loss was the game Chipper and Bobby got thrown out of in Boston. We got completely screwed. I thought Chipper getting tossed would fire us up (which it seemed to, we came back and tied it up next inning). Then, on a day that is was so windy fly balls were making U-turns and going back to the infield, Nick Greene finds a way to bend one around the pesky pole. I think had we taken that game we not only with the Boston series but we roll over the Yanks at home and proceed to crush the phillies. That one really took the wind out of the sails.

Swaga1

July 8th, 2009
1:58 pm

The quote from blindog was priceless

GT, where nerds get shot and robbed everyday

July 8th, 2009
2:01 pm

Hey MB, with blindogs great line in mind, have you considered a “Best Lines From the Bloggers” article? I know that I have seen some good ones.

The_Superhoo

July 8th, 2009
2:01 pm

Leslie Chow – “I take away points from Anderson because he is lazy with his glove. Slow and Lazy.”

Exactly. McLouth’s got much better defense.

Bravedawg

July 8th, 2009
2:07 pm

I’ll never understand the hate of Casey Kotchman from Braves fans. He’s hit between .270 and .300 all year, and hasn’t made a single error since being traded to us last July. I mean, he’s no Teixiera, but he’s also not paid like Teixiera either. He’s just about worth the price, which is hard to say for others.

Leslie Chow

July 8th, 2009
2:09 pm

Mark you take back Anderson wins best outfielder award. He lazy, soooooo lazy. He not even hustle for fly balls.

13th warrior

July 8th, 2009
2:13 pm

don’t even think of trading javi vazquez, he is, by far the best pitcher in atlanta rotation

Bravedawg

July 8th, 2009
2:16 pm

Leslie Chow – he’s almost as lazy as you. Well, I’m assuming you’re too lazy to write the apostrophe and the “s”, to form “he’s”…and not that you’re just an idiot who would actually talk like that.

The_Superhoo

July 8th, 2009
2:17 pm

13th warrior,

I agree that Javy has been OUTSTANDING for the Braves, but for the right price, trade him. Gotta give value to GET value (unless you’re dealing with the Pirates).

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 8th, 2009
2:20 pm

Best Braves pre-game reel I watched on ESPN last night: Jeff Francoeur being the only Brave to swing and miss during Huddy’s BP.

Bravedawg

July 8th, 2009
2:20 pm

And let’s be clear – Garret Anderson is just old and slow. Also, at the beginning of the year, he was recovering from a hamstring injury that had kept him out of the majority of spring training games. Let’s be careful where we throw the “lazy” label. He’s having a solid season for us, if you care to look past this “lazy” thing.

CLTDawg

July 8th, 2009
2:20 pm

No farm system left to trade. Frenchy needs to go, but not sure who is willing to take him or more to the point would give up anything for him. Maybe we can pull the old Greg Olson trade and get some balls and bats?

Intramural Team is Aggressive

July 8th, 2009
2:22 pm

You’re probably right that Schafer is blocked by McLouth for this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if McLouth takes over right field for the Braves next year and Schafer ends up back in center (he’s got much better mobility to the ball).

Mark Bradley

July 8th, 2009
2:26 pm

Now you’ve done it, GT. You’ve gone and given me an idea. (And thanks!)

Mark Bradley

July 8th, 2009
2:27 pm

By the way, Bravedawg, I responded to your question about the Hawks. Sorry to have taken so long.

GT, where nerds get shot and robbed everyday

July 8th, 2009
2:29 pm

Haha, you’re welcome MB.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 8th, 2009
2:31 pm

After reading that article about KK, I think he now knows more English than Yunel.

Chris Broe

July 8th, 2009
2:35 pm

The Braves have just been mathematically eliminated from the 2010 playoffs. Fact.

Mark Bradley

July 8th, 2009
2:40 pm

2010? Wow. Tough to manage that in July 2009. Though the Nationals might have done it.

All I'm Saying Is...

July 8th, 2009
2:45 pm

Bravedawg: The hate of Casey Kotchman is because his power numbers stink compared to the other first baseman in the NL and the Braves need sluggers as we have enough singles hitters. Casey’s .270-.300 (much closer to .270 in the past month) batting average in no way makes up for his lack of HRs, RBIs, and overall slugging which is critical for any first baseman. For example, let’s compare him to the Cubs first baseman Derrick Lee whose numbers are
ABs Runs Hits 2Bs 3Bs, HRs RBIs BBs Ks BA OBP Slugging
268 38 76 13 0 16 53 31 55 .284 .359 .511
Kotchman’s numbers are
ABs Runs Hits 2Bs 3Bs HRs RBIs BBs Ks BA OBP Slugging
242 19 66 18 0 3 30 23 24 .273 .339 .384

Lee isn’t even all star caliber yet he makes Kotchman look pathetic particularly in HRs and RBIs AND his Batting Average is better.

All I'm Saying Is...

July 8th, 2009
2:47 pm

Intramural team is aggressive: Schafer isn’t going anywhere except home to coach high school ball until he learns to hit and Nate already knows how to do that and play centerfielder

Bravedawg

July 8th, 2009
2:50 pm

All I’m Saying Is –

So, you’re telling me Derrek Lee is better than Casey Kotchman? Congratulations for creating an argument out of thin air. I would’ve never opposed that argument. Derrek Lee is LIGHT YEARS ahead of Casey Kotchman.

I fully realize Kotchman is lacking in the power department. He always has. It’s not like he’s averaged .330/25/110 every year. He’s doing exactly what we thought he’d do when he came here. An above average hitter and superb defensive player. That’s about it. It’s not like he’s underachieving. He’s achieving quite accurately.

I just think with the underachievers on this team, we’ve got a lot to complain about before we get to Casey Kotchman.

All I'm Saying Is...

July 8th, 2009
2:53 pm

Bravedawg is right: Garrett Anderson is not lazy and anyone who says that is crazy. GA is 37 years old and has been in the bigs since 1994. You don’t last at the MLB level without a work ethic. He’s simply giving all he can at this stage of his career and he was never known for his fielding which is why he has always been a left fielder (which is where you play your defensively least capable outfielder). (And its your fault, Bradley, because you call him Glidin’ which implies he is not putting forth effort when clearly his results at the plate show how valuable he is to the Braves)

All I'm Saying Is...

July 8th, 2009
2:55 pm

Bravedawg: And I guess what you’re telling me is you’re satisfied with Kotchman at first? Well, I’m not. Just like I was not satisfied with KJ at 2B and Frenchy at RF and I take some of the credit for them being benched. I say get someone better to play 1B everyday and turn Kotchman into what he is which is a late game defensive replacement and pinch hitter but please don’t try and tell me how good Kotchman is because he hits between .270 and .300 as that is unacceptable for 1B and Derrick Lee is one example of what a 1B is supposed to provide by way of offense. Adam Dunn is another (despite his 150+ strikeouts per year).

Mark Bradley

July 8th, 2009
3:00 pm

Actually, Bobby Cox also used the word “glide” to describe Garret Anderson’s gait. And I don’t mean it pejoratively; I mean it descriptively.

Bravedawg

July 8th, 2009
3:07 pm

All I’m Saying Is -

We’re more in agreement than you may think.

Of course, I would love to have Derrek Lee, or Adam Dunn, or any other prolific HR hitter at 1B. But what else are we going to get? There aren’t many 1B on the trading block, and even if there were, we wouldn’t be able to afford them (at least the Adam Dunn’s of the world). If we’re stuck with Kotchman, we could do a lot worse. We can’t overlook his flawless (literally) defense. Of course, that doesn’t make up for his lack of HRs (I wouldn’t bring RBI into the discussion. You have to have guys on base to knock them in, and we don’t exactly have a Murderer’s Row in front of him).

All I'm Saying Is...

July 8th, 2009
3:19 pm

Bravedawg: So since we agree we can do better then I say trade Kotchman to the Nationals straight-up. As you stated, Kotchman is more economical so the Nationals should have interest and if need be we could throw in KJ or Frenchy.

Bradley: You can write whatever you want but your use of Glidin’ (incorrect spelling and posting it next to a picture of Garrett missing a foul ball in the field) clearly comes across with negative intent as opposed to Bobby’s use of the word glide to describe his running which is a more obvious compliment. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t make much of this but readers of this blog picked up on your use of Glidin’ (which you started after GA didn’t back up an infield chopper which made its way to the outfield) and as a result of your harping on him not backing up on the play (which was not why we lost the game) readers of this blog are now trying to suggest that this 15 year major leaguer is lazy which he clearly is not—he’s simply 37 years old and limited defensively (has been his whole career) and particularly at the start of this season when he was hampered by a calf injury furthering impairing his defense.

Sonny Clusters

July 8th, 2009
3:20 pm

When we was playing ball together back in school nobody would dared to call Jeff least valuable when we was playing ball. I seen him get on base a few times getting hit with the ball. That takes some guts.

Pennywise

July 8th, 2009
3:21 pm

I think this years team motto should be ‘Fear of Success’, or ‘Dare to Fail’. They have been consistently mediocre to the very end.

Jack G.

July 8th, 2009
3:39 pm

Please help me.—-I have been checking all I know how to check and cant find anything that says 1B must hit a ton of HR to be a good solid Player

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 8th, 2009
3:43 pm

I give Garret bonus points for having been here all season

An outfielder spends far more time on defense than he does at the plate. McLouth has half the RBI’s in half the at bats, a better batting average, and .100 better on base percentage. There’s also the little matter of catching the ball, running the bases, etc. In my view, I’d much rather have McLouth over the long haul. He’s a gamer and there’s no stat for that.

I’m not a big fan of Bobby Cox, never have been, but I’d take him over 1000 Bobby Valentines.

f leghorn

July 8th, 2009
3:44 pm

My wife refuses to watch Mike Gonzales pitch unless there are men on base. . .she can’t stand all that rocking back and forth. . .says it reminds her of having sex with me. . .whole lotta work, small payoff. I don’t think that’s a compliment.

NC Braves Fan

July 8th, 2009
3:46 pm

GT definitely had one of the better blog stories … claiming to have given up the longest HR BMac hit in high school … whereupon Bank Walker correctly guessed where GT pitched (because BW actually saw the HR!).

On s completely different note, I think Hillbilly Deluxe may be the best blog name going, although Mrs. Chanandler Bong is certainly moving up the charts quickly.

Herschel Talker

July 8th, 2009
4:09 pm

When does Booby get fired?

Leslie Chow

July 8th, 2009
4:11 pm

Bravedaug like Kotsman!! HAHA, you a loser!

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 8th, 2009
4:16 pm

Sonny Clusters, I’m so glad you’re back. Oh, how I’ve missed you.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 8th, 2009
4:17 pm

NC Braves Fan, thanks for the shout-out. A small ode to the best situation-comedy ever.

Mitch C

July 8th, 2009
4:42 pm

Mark, I agree with most of what you said, except for one thing. I really don’t think the Braves are going to win the East. I dont know if the Mets will ever get untracked with all their injuries, but the Phillies ate playing better, and the Braves just seem to be stuck in neutral. I keep waiting for Philly to turn it on, and I think they will.

The Braves might finish second in the East, if the Mets continue to flounder, and the Marlins fade. Even if the Braves go on a bot streak, which is very questionable, considering how they’ve played, they will be lucky to finish at 500, which is sad, because, the way everyone in this divsion has played, 85 wins, or even less, might be it for the NL East “champions”, whoever it is.

Mitch