5 thoughts on “Things begin to unravel”


    Why is it that we always treat Klesko-esque situations as if they are unpredictable aberrations? Mazzone gets credit when a pitcher comes over to the Braves and improves markedly, and the implication is also that the previous team failed to get the full potential out of that pitcher.

    The same thing should be true for hitters. I don’t think management or we fans can simply throw up our hands and say “Who knew?” about Klesko. The job of a good organization is to develop the young, cheap talent they acquire. Quite simply, it is obvious that Klesko has the talent to be a top-flite hitter and the Braves did not develop it or recognize it.
    (Of course credit is due to the Pads for bringing it out of him).

    The Braves have not developed a solid hitter since Chipper Jones. Andruw has developed to be sure, but not to the consistent level many expected. Many hitting prospects seem to level off early or lack basic pitch selection skills.

    When is somebody going to look into the minor league system and start asking who these hitting instructors are?

    I grant that much of the blame/credit for a player’s performance lies with that player and depends on many uncontrollable factors. BUT coaches are paid to make players perform and the Braves’ hitting coaches organization-wide seem to be doing a pretty bad job, at least from my perspective.

    Veterans have tended to come over and at best duplicate their career numbers or at worst fall right off the table like a good slider. Young hitting prospects almost without exception don’t learn how to wait for their pitch and get on base. Players frequently leave and see their production jump significantly.

    I personally think it all comes down to selectivity and getting on base. The Braves don’t get it. Obviously. (They tried to sign *Travis Lee* for the love of [insert favorite deity here]). They don’t teach it to the youngsters and they don’t demand it from the regulars. And that is in a nutshell why we have only 1 ring to show for 11 consecutive division titles.

    I’m just happy for Ryan Klesko that he was able to go somewhere where he could maximize his ability. And I am disappointed in the Braves for ignoring what is obvious to any observer with half an ass and half a brain.

    OK that’s off my chest and I feel much better.

  2. Trading Klesko was, to my mind, the worst move JS has made over the years. I think Creg too easily dismisses the injury risks that Quilvio and Sanders were. Reggie, for one, was coming off a career-level year, so we were “buying high” on him. But een in his two “healthy” years prior to coming to Atlanta, he missed 27 and 29 games. 2002 was the first time in Sanders’ entire career that he played as many as 140 games for a team. Quilvio had missed 24 and 30 games his two years prior to being a Brave.

    And the thing with injury risks is that while they do have good upside often, the downside is that they may not be there when you need them most. So while Klesko lost playing time to lefties, at least that was predictable, and Klesko was a very healthy player. Sanders was frequently unhealthy

    But there was one other bad consequence of this trade – Sanders’ raw suckage begat the Surhoff trade, bringing on board a liability with a heft contract.

    I also agree with the above post re: Klesko. I was livid at the time of the Klesko trade, for many of the reasons that came to pass.

    If Klesko was increasingly unhappy, he likely had good cause to be. He was jerked around by Bobby on this team. For one thing, I’ve never seen much substantiation to the idea that Klesko’s minor league track record suggested he couldn’t hit lefties at all. When he did get to face lefties as a Brave he tended to press and try to do too much, in contrast to his mroe relaxed approach in SD.

    But moreover, then the Braves brought in a succession of hitting coaches who all wnted Klesko to “cut down on his strikeouts, put the ball in play!” That led to increases in his doubles, sure, and decreases in his homeruns. I mean, he was a power hitter, for crying out loud. Would Don Baylor be telling Mark McGwire to cut down on his whiffs? Geez. Let the guy swing away! (interesting;y, it looks like Sanders’ whiff rate dropped as a Brave also…more hitting coach woes?)

    And don’t even get me started on how often Bobby got outmaneuvered on platoon situations with Klesko in the postseason. Good grief…

    The Braves have had 4 hitting coaches int he last 5 seasons. Each year the approach is the same. As others have suggested in other forums, given that, we should assume that the problem is at the top of the food chain.


  3. Matt,

    You almost earned your sabermetric gold card until you dropped this nugget into your “analysis”:

    “And that is in a nutshell why we have only 1 ring to show for 11 consecutive division titles.”

    Remember a key point in sabermetric theory is that post-season results are random and thus uninteresting. The outside world thinks the D-Backs and Angels have won the last two titles, but those of us in the sabermetric community know that Oakland is actually looking to three-peat this year.

    Good points about the Braves poor hitting instruction though. It’s amazing that the minor league system can’t even churn out a decent fourth outfielder. We had to go steal someone else’s.

  4. Well, the system did churn out George Lombard, who might have been useful as a backup, where his injuries wouldn’t have been such a concern. But hell, how about the fact that the team has now felt the need to go outside the system to get two backup catchers – one to be paid $1.3m this year! – who hit as poorly as Blanco and Estrada?

  5. I am aware of the huge role of luck in postseason results. But having a shitty offense still makes you more likely to lose than having a good offense.
    Also a selective approach gives you at least a fighting chance against the best pitching (more likely to see in the postseason), whereas hackers tend to get chewed up and spit out more easily.
    That’s all I meant.
    I can give you my address if you want to send me that gold card :)

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