Holy cow! The Braves again have holes in their batting order

Everybody hit on Opening Day. Even Nate McLouth. (AP photo by Rich Addicks)

Everybody hit on Opening Day. Even Nate McLouth. (AP photo by Rich Addicks)

The 2009 Braves were undone because their batting order went soft. Of the eight non-pitching spots, half — Jordan Schafer, Kelly Johnson, Jeff Francoeur and Casey Kotchman — were substandard by major-league specifications.

Two of those (Francoeur and Kotchman) were traded before the season was done. Schafer was sent to Gwinnett in June. Johnson was dislodged by Martin Prado and left as a free agent at year’s end. And after the 2010 Braves scored 16 runs against the Cubs on Opening Day, Chipper Jones was moved to say: “We’ve got Jason Heyward hitting seventh and an All-Star [Nate McLouth] batting eighth. We’ve got a lineup that can turn over in a hurry.”

We stipulate by saying that the Braves have played only seven games, which isn’t a representative sampling. But the purportedly iron-clad lineup is already looking peaked.

Melky Cabrera is hitting .103. Troy Glaus is hitting .231 and hasn’t had an extra-base hit. And McLouth, who hit .118 in spring training, is hitting .118 in real games.

Yes, there are bright spots. Prado leads the league in hitting. Heyward has hit three home runs with nine RBIs. Brian McCann is hitting .300. Yunel Escobar hasn’t hit much since Opening Day, but he’s almost a given. Chipper Jones figures to hit, provided he stays healthy.

But the lineup that mustered 16 runs in its first game has managed 19 in the six games since, and the Braves are hitting .230 as a team. It’s not yet time to fret, but it is time to take note. This batting order hasn’t been turning over in a hurry. For the past week, it hasn’t done much of anything.

405 comments Add your comment

bmont

April 14th, 2010
9:07 am

BuckCommander

April 14th, 2010
9:10 am

Second Again.

Dallis04

April 14th, 2010
9:13 am

they better start turning this ship around…I had/still have high expectations and I do not want them ruined once again…Things better be taking a turn for the best come series with Phils next week cause I’ll be there Thursday!

bmont

April 14th, 2010
9:13 am

is the braves’ lack of hitting really a surprise? chipper can never stay healthy, for all his hype heyward is still a rook and will have ups and downs, glaus is and has been washed up for 2 years, melky has never done much at the plate, need i go on?? mccann and yunel are the only two professional hitters on that squad, except for a healthy chipper, which is a rarity these days

Casey in Idaho

April 14th, 2010
9:14 am

jerry

April 14th, 2010
9:15 am

Nate just does not get on base enough to be a leadoff man. Getting men on base in front of your power hitters makes them better hitters. Why Cox continues to lead off with Nate is because…………you tell me.

sidewalk74

April 14th, 2010
9:15 am

I don’t understand how this happens every season. Because the Braves keep saying TP is a great hitting coach.
But the results say otherwise.

extremus

April 14th, 2010
9:15 am

The question is, if things don’t improve across so many glaring weak spots (leadoff is a MUST-ADDRESS ISSUE), how can the Braves hope to compete even for a wild-card berth? We may see Schafer at leadoff soon if he does well enough in the minors, and if Glaus doesn’t turn things around, I wouldn’t rule out even seeing Freeman by the All-Star break. But even then you still have the learning curves to deal with; the cost of keeping a competitive team on the field year-in, year-out is beginning to leave all but a select few franchises behind, and unfortunately it’s clear the Braves are now in the majority.

Greg

April 14th, 2010
9:21 am

They need to figure out the lead-off man situation very soon and then hope for some more production from Glaus.

BugKiller

April 14th, 2010
9:21 am

Surprise, surprise.

The team that employs a hitting coach who only hit .300 or better three times in his career can’t hit.

Everything about this organization will improve once Booby Cox and his idiot coaches are shown the door at the end of the year.

JoD

April 14th, 2010
9:21 am

Anybody know a good vet? Some one needs to take that old dog chipper and have em put down.

O'Brien

April 14th, 2010
9:21 am

Mark,

Last year, Frank Wren said something along the lines of “we dont have any 30 HR guys, but we have 5 guys who might hit 20 HR”. We know how that worked out.

But you’re right. Its still early. If the Braves can win the next 2 in San Diego, and then take 2 out of 3 from the Phils, everything will be fine right?

That being said, I am cautiously optimistic. Because Nate struggled down the stretch last year. Melky is probably best suited as a fourth outfielder (but yet he is leading off), and this is Glaus first full season back from his injury (and he’s playing a new position).

But if anybody wants to blame TP, then you must also give TP credit for the year Prado is having (plus the season Prado had last year).

Mike Jay

April 14th, 2010
9:23 am

Too many people put an emphasis on hitting coachees as a lack of production. Coaches can not make hitters stop swinging at balls low and away.

FSUnoleInDC

April 14th, 2010
9:24 am

I think you should write a blog about how Wren blew it, and the braves are some cheap suckers..For the life of me, i don’t know why we sign
retreads to see if they can revive thier careers here…that is why the phillies are out of league….they go after the big guns, we go after the old guns that and put togehter with bandaids..

My Impression

April 14th, 2010
9:24 am

Mark, what are the MLB schedule makers thinking when an east coast team like the Braves first road trip is to the west coast? 10:05 starts do nothing to rev fans in the southeast.

rob

April 14th, 2010
9:25 am

Amen, Sidewalk. TP just isn’t getting it done and hasn’t for years.

extremus

April 14th, 2010
9:26 am

I loved Terry Pendleton as a player, and without him I don’t think the Braves would have gotten started on their huge run of success in the 90s at least until much later. But lately even I am beginning to wonder if some of the finger-pointing at him as a hitting coach is justified. The Braves offense since he became the hitting coach has been average at best, and my brother made the observation the other day: “When was the last time you saw a player come to the Braves that FOUND their swing?” Could the coaching be at least partially to blame for Andruw Jones, for Kelly Johnson, for Jeff Francoer (the last two of whom have done much better since leaving Atlanta), and now for a former All-Star Nate McClouth, among others? I honestly don’t know, but it will be interesting to see how the organization responds if this year goes by and so many players continue to struggle at the plate.

BugKiller

April 14th, 2010
9:26 am

Ummm… that is the frakking JOB of the hitting coach.

To get their players to stop swinging at balls, to teach them how to work the count.

Seriously, why do the Red Sox and Yankee games take so long? Because all of their hitters WORK THE COUNT, as they are taught by their coaches. This leads to tired pitchers and more pitching changes, leading to longer games overall.

COACHES MATTER.

STOP EXCUSING BOOBY COX AND HIS IDIOT COACHES.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

April 14th, 2010
9:26 am

TP,

.270 Lifetime Batting Average
.316 On Base Percentage
Stuckout twice as much as he walked

How can he be the Batting coach and really be successful? I loved him as a youngster w/ the Cardinals and his ‘91 season was great, but this is getting a little ridiculous.

Justafan

April 14th, 2010
9:27 am

Preach on Bro..Preach on ! The Braves have the same problems they had last year and the same BS from management. Never changes, right. Maybe when Bobby is gone and Wren gets off his A@@ and gets a power hitter like he promised 2 years ago things will get better. If not you can forget it.
Fans need to stay home and not support the sub-par team.

FSUnoleInDC

April 14th, 2010
9:27 am

I think you should write a blog about how Wren blew it, and the braves are some cheap suckers..For the life of me, i don’t know why we sign
retreads to see if they can revive thier careers here…that is why the phillies are out of our league….they go after the big guns, we go after old guns that are held together with bandaids…put glenn hubbard into the lineup…

Marty

April 14th, 2010
9:28 am

I got booed off this forum last week for stating this very thing. I will say it again, opening day was a fluke. These Braves have some good individual players but the team offense is just not very good. That said, I do hope things improve. But I’m not optimistic.

curtis jones

April 14th, 2010
9:29 am

Mark, I’m really surprised that you, (or DOB for that matter) haven’t dug up last year’s stats, which reveal the ONLY effective leadoff hitter for the Braves was Omar Infante, who could easily play a decent LF. Is he a superstar? No. But neither are Melky, McLouth or Diaz. If you’re going to fill out a lineup card with a bunch of 4th outfielders, at least pencil one in who can lead off effectively.

Preston

April 14th, 2010
9:33 am

Mark, maybe I’m completely missing an important detail here, but what would be the pros/cons of moving Prado to the leadoff spot? He’s got pretty good speed and obviously has a bat.

chin music

April 14th, 2010
9:33 am

seven games, people. seven games.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

April 14th, 2010
9:34 am

Not for sure if the blog monster ate the post, but here are some important TP stats from his playing days:

.270 Lifetime Batting Average
.316 Lifetime Onbase Percentage
Twice as many Strikeouts to Walks

This is not your prototypical Batting Coach. He obviously was never successful in controling his strikeouts, so how can he effectively coach that aspects of plate discipline? He could not muster a high Onbase percentage, so how can he effectively coach that?

jeff c.

April 14th, 2010
9:34 am

Jermaine Dye is still out there. 26 dingers last year and 87 RBI’s! Better get him now!!

Dawgdad

April 14th, 2010
9:35 am

It is still early and they will improve, but I don’t think enough to compete. The biggest problem is Cox, he is too wedded to the way he always did things. He does not have the lineup he did when he always did things before. I don’t think he can become a LaRussa or Torre at his age, but flexibility is necessary when your team consists of banged up old geezers, never will be’s, and promising young players. He needs to play the hot hand and be more flexible with the lefty righty tihing. Too many times he benches a guy who had mulitiple hits the day before in favor of a player who hasn’t had a hit in a week because that player bats the right way. He takes out pitchers who are getting every one out to bring in someone who throws with the other hand, but on that day can’t get the ball within a foot of home plate.

He evaluates talent like a star struck first grader. How anyone could think for two years that Martin Prado was not better than KJ was amazing. How could anyone believe that JJ Reyes could consistantly pitch at the MLB level with his skills. We have no power other than McCann and Heyward. Jones is never available or playing with some ailment that limits him. Melky is at best a fourth outfielder. Matt Diaz will never learn to hit righthanders by sitting on the bench. How can you justify someone with a lifetime batting average of over .300 riding the pine when you have this assortment of swingers to choose from.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

April 14th, 2010
9:36 am

M.B.! I’M BACK. They looked like the Braves of 2009. While we all know Glaus is just a filler until FF is ready to come to the show, it pains me to watch him (pretend to) bat.

can Biff Pocoroba come hit for us?

April 14th, 2010
9:36 am

2 of the 3 between Melky, Glaus and McClouth need to start hitting……

Zach

April 14th, 2010
9:36 am

Mark,

here’s what I think (I qualify this by saying no of you might care at all):

Leadoff is a real problem, so far nate and melky both are terrible there. Take melky out of the game (at least nate will hit some hrs, and his career 260 ba is good for an 8 hitter) and put Diaz into left batting leadoff.

Prado and chipper are fine, like you said as long as chipper stays healthy.

McCann doesn’t need to hit 4th, I know that glaus is struggling but McCanns numbers are the worst at that spot in the order. So bad Glaus in the 4 spot, who I know is struggling but showing signs of the rust slowly coming off, and bat McCann 5th where he has the highest ba.

Yunel, like you said, will be Yunel and there are not many more players I would have hit with RISP. So the 6th spot is fine for him.

J-Hey is hitting fine in the 7 spot, I can’t see him moving up yet until he makes more contact (strikes out less).

So that leaves nate 8th, who’s gonna hit 20 hrs bat in 80 and hit .260. Not terrible for an 8 guy.

So thats:

Diaz
Prado
Chipper
Glaus
McCann
Yunel
J-Hey
Nate

Not terrible.

Poorbrave

April 14th, 2010
9:38 am

Put the blame on Wrens, Bobby Cox,TP and Liberty. Mgn. needs to sell the team to Mr. Blanks.Clean house and start over like the Falcons. Braves have to much self love and praise for 14 1st…which means nothing now. The past is history and its time to make new history with new blood. Braves management sucks!

doc

April 14th, 2010
9:39 am

mark fret on, 2 of the 4 displaced players are hitting well with slugging percentages over 800.

Shane

April 14th, 2010
9:40 am

Braves never hit early in the year. Schedule makers did em no favors with this road trip either

Meanwhile the Phillies are getting fat playing the Nationals and the Astros every game.

Anybody see how bad Javy Vazquez is getting lit up in NY????

Typical Braves fan on an AJC blog

April 14th, 2010
9:42 am

Oh well. It’s wait ’til next year … again. (Sigh)

Mike Jay

April 14th, 2010
9:46 am

So you want to blame TP for Andruw Jones lack of plate discipline??? TP was not even hear for the majority of AJ’s time here. You can teach and ppreach all you want but at the end of the day the player is up there by himself doing what HE wants to do. No aount of coaching can stop stupid swinging. AJ wnet to Texas where the supposedly best hitting coach in al lof baseball is. Wha twas his average again while he played there? Is that TP’s fault too? For every KJ ( he lost his swing) and Francour (never had nor ever will have plate discipline) there is an Escobar and Prado. Some players listen and make adjustments, some players think they know it all.

Mike Jay

April 14th, 2010
9:47 am

above directed toward Extremus

T_height

April 14th, 2010
9:47 am

I don’t think Wren is about to sign another A.A. definitely not one that is worth more than 1.5 million dollars. So you can forget about Jermaine Dye. We all expected this from Troy Glaus and Nate was hitting like this in Spring Training so I don’t think T.P. has anything to do with his nonhitting. The Braves will always have teams like this because they prefer to go out and get players they can resurrect instead of paying a little money for good players or at offering a contract to good players. The Adam LaRoche is let go is biting them right in their ass. All they had to do is offer the man a contract, instead the Diamonbacks got a steal.

Redwave73

April 14th, 2010
9:52 am

The real problem with the offense is the sreaming done by Chip Caray in the booth. It distracts the players while batting and throws off their timing. With his loud sceeching voice overriding everything else the batters can’t hear Bobby yelling “Come on kid” so it confuses them. Get “Screamer” out of the booth and things will return to normal. BTW, it’s unofficial but I have Bobby being caught 4 times this season by “Nose Picker Cam”–any updates.

Phil

April 14th, 2010
9:53 am

I’ve been counting down the days until Moron Cox is finally gone. I told you that this year is going to be just like the last several. Nothing is going to change until Cox, TP and the rest of those clowns are gone.

Wren is a buffoon which doesn’t help the situation either. Melky Cabrera is average at best, how anyone thought otherwise is beyond me.

Glaus only played in about 15 games last year due to injuries. And Wren thought this was going to be an improvement over Adam LaRoche?

Things will get better in 2011 when Moron Cox is finally gone, just have to figure out a way for Wren to go with him.

Redwave73

April 14th, 2010
9:55 am

Sorry–should be “screaming”

Freddie G

April 14th, 2010
9:56 am

Mike Jay – I can never understand wy some folks criticize the hitting coach, never did when Clarence or Merv were here, or any hitting coach since. People who criticizes the hitting coaches either do not understand or they are not paying attention. The only possible way they could have stopped Francoer from swinging at every ball was to levy a fine on him.
Bug killer – The Yankees and Red Sox hitters are patient and if our guys were to exercise that patience they would produce ood results too.
The Braves have always been impatient at the plate, because everyone is swinging for the fences. Let us hope thet young Jason Heyward can lead them in that regard, and that they will follow his lead.

Wes

April 14th, 2010
9:56 am

The Braves have always prided themselves on stellar pitching and solid defense. Their hitting has always been decent or at least semi-decent. And this season is the same… They don’t have any POWER hitters. However, I personally believe the Braves’ offense will eventually turn things around. McLouth and Cabrera just haven’t found a rhythm yet, and Glaus has apparently started the season in a slump (but he was great in spring training, remember?).

McCann and Escobar are both solid hitters, Prado and Diaz are always reliable, and with the addition of the J-Hey kid, I think this offensive ranks slightly above decent. Mix that with stellar pitching and solid defense, and you always have a chance to win.

T_height

April 14th, 2010
9:57 am

I forgot to add that Melky didn’t do great in N.Y. so i don’t see how that is T.P’s fault. Some players just just have to learn to be great defenders when they can’t hit too well. The Braves should give Freeman a call up to see how he does.

gobravos

April 14th, 2010
9:57 am

I don’t think TP is to blame. Mark McGwire had a low career batting average for a batting coach, I wanna say it was around .250, and he is doing a great job with the Cards. I think players not playing to their potential everyday is the problem. These guys get paid millions to play a game fora living. Excuses are like butt holes… everyone’s got one. The coaches can’t play the game for these guys.

coach k

April 14th, 2010
9:57 am

wasting good pitching night in and night out. Didn’t like mcluess in center from the start, Melky is a bench player and Glas has no idea at first,plus he is not hitting. Could have had Andrew for a song and platooned him with Schaeffer. Laroche would have stayed. Bottom of the lineup has to produce, top half is getting on. Lets not wait till all star break to figure it out. Stress some urgency right now and ride these arms to the playoff.

Wristshot

April 14th, 2010
9:58 am

You don’t think it could be the fault of some solid opposing pitching do you??

Wow!

April 14th, 2010
9:59 am

Melky and McClouth look clueless. I’m not sure which one is worse. Lets wait until we are 10 games out before we make a change. McClouth an All-Star, yeah right. See if that happens again.

NC Braves Fan

April 14th, 2010
10:01 am

Random thought from this fan: the Braves haven’t hit a lick since game one, have had a tough opening schedule, and still stand at just 3-4. In fact, if Wags hadn’t made a mistake with that slider to Renteria in SF, we’d probably be 4-3.

The lack of hitting is a bit of a concern, but let’s not get too carried away this early in the year.

Dawg'88

April 14th, 2010
10:02 am

MB moto: “Captain Obvious reporting duty!”