Atlanta 5, Florida 2

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Marlins at Braves

Chipper returned to the lineup, and on the first pitch he saw hit a two-out solo homer to give the Braves the lead. He walked in the seventh. He normally would have scored on Johnny Estrada’s double, but he still can’t run well and held at third, only coming home on a double by LaRoche. The latter also doubled home Estrada in the first, accounting for three of the Braves’ RBIs. The fifth was by Andruw, a solo homer in the fourth, but of course we know Andruw’s homers don’t count if the Braves have the lead.

The 4-5 hitters both had big days. Estrada was 2-3 with a walk and the two runs scored, Langerhans LaRoche 3-4. Andruw, hitting sixth, went 2-3 with a walk and is now up to .247. Furcal also had two hits and a walk; the lone Braves starter not to get a hit was Marcus, who wound up 0-5 and is in a deep slump. I’m not one to subscribe to protection theory, but Marcus’ slump more or less coincides with Chipper’s injury.

Tim Hudson took a shutout to the eighth but tired — he wound up throwing 119 pitches, which despite what Sutton said is probably too many, at least in a day game. He was charged with both runs, one of them earned, struck out five, allowed just five hits and one walk. Reitsma allowed an inherited run but then got the next two men to end the eighth. Kolb started off with seven balls in his first eight pitches, including a wild pitch, but rallied back to get a strikeout, a flyout, and a groundout for the save. He still isn’t going to succeed unless his control gets better.

Back in a virtual tie for first, the Braves now host the Astros for four, beginning with Thomson versus Brandon Backe. It’s a rematch of Game Three of the division series last year, or at least the start of it; Thomson left after two batters, which in retrospect cost the Braves the series and the season.

54 thoughts on “Atlanta 5, Florida 2”

  1. I think you meant LaRoche was 3-4. Langerhans got his 5th hit of the season in 28 at bats. He is now up to .179, which is 16 points below his weight.

    I agree about Giles. He did okay the first few games Chipper was out, then lost patience. He has only walked twice in the past 8 games.

    Jordan is being paid approx. $309 per RBI on a pro-rata basis (Salary of $700,000/162/# of RBIs). Per Hit is $206
    Andruw is being paid approx. $6,173 per RBI on a pro-rata basis. Per Hit is $3,344
    Mondesi is being paid approx. $561 per RBI on a pro-rata basis. Per Hit is $343

    Looking at it that way, those deals look much better now.

    At the end of the day, they have all contributed to wins and losses. We care most about the wins, and they have done more to contribute to wins than losses.

  2. Bwarrend –

    You know that they could replace Mondi and BJ with players who are both better and *cheaper*, right?

    In addition, your last 2 sentences are ludicrous.

  3. BTW, Buddy Hernandez is off the DL and is struggling for Richmond (gave up a solo shot to Raul Casanova today).

  4. Words I never thought I’d type: Reitsma has been very good (despite allowing the inherited run).

  5. The fascination with salary, to me, is odd. I really don’t care how much a player makes. Come on, when you go to a movie do you think, well it was just Jean Claude Van Damm, not Arnold Swartzenegger who gets paid more, so I should accept a lower quality of acting? No, I’m trying to be entertained. And bad performance is bad performance, regardless of how much the player (or actor) is making.

    Andruw is better than Mondesi or Jordan. I don’t care if he is paid more. He has been a better overall player this year.

  6. At least this means Mondi and Jordan throw in their wretched defense for free. I’d really be sore if we had to pay extra for that.

  7. Mac;
    It’s high time you gave either LaRoche or Langerhans an appropriate nickname!
    How about LaRocket, noting the man’s catcher-like speed on the basepaths?

  8. To be fair, I don’t recall either Jordan or Mondesi playing poor defense. Have either of them made any errors? Mondesi has airmailed a couple of throws from right, missing the cut-off man, which has allowed a baserunner or two to advance, but, other than that, he hasn’t misplayed many balls. Both of them have played solidly, though not spectacularly. This may be attributed, in part, to good positioning. (For example, Dave Justice would make spectacular sliding catches when he probably could have caught the ball belt-high on the run. In other words, he made a difficult play appear more so when that really wasn’t necessary.) It’s not like we’ve got Pete Incaviglia out there.

    I’m not trying to pass the buck or anything, but I’m wondering how much the outfield defense will improve once Pat Corrales is back in the dugout. We can pretty much assume that the charts have been kept consistently, but, as a bench coach, he’s been known to make adjustments as the count changes, etc. He’s the one who has fine-tuned the outfield. Just wondering how much the Braves have missed his presence, that’s all.

  9. I did a quick google search and came up with this

    Based on Alex Rodriguez statistical averages from the past three years, that’s…

    $175,0000 per game
    $42,567.57 per at-bat
    $142,372.88 per hit
    $700,000.00 per HR

    Bet you could do something similar for JD Drew. Does that make Andruw Better than they are?

  10. bwarrend, you’ve got to be kidding me right? Thats how YOU measure relative performance? Dollars per hit/rbi etc. Geez. I hope that you don’t construe this as a personal attack but I’m flabbergasted. Your being facetious I hope.

    As for Langerhans….SMALL SAMPLE SIZE! FEW OPPORTUNITIES! sorry for the shouting. Strangerhans is very very funny. By the way is it Lang er hans or Lang er hons like Hans Solo? I’ve heard it proununced both ways.

    Andruw had a good game tonight. Watch out! He’s gonna be a superstar any minute now.

  11. I think that the last syllable is pronounced -honz, thought I usually pronounce it -hans. Go with how Pete pronounces it, he’s usually right.

  12. Just my own observation here, David Remy, but Jordan still looks to be a pretty good defensive outfielder. He can still run and seems to take the right angles most of the time.

    Mondesi, on the other hand, while he still has a strong arm, moves like a friggin’ statue in right these days. I could be wrong, but I think I actually saw pigeon crap on his shoulder during a close-up.

    One last thing: As poor as the offense has been much of the season, this team is still playing .593 baseball through 26 games. That translates to 95 wins over a full season. I’ll take that.

  13. I’m trying to make a point, just like the person who used the BA/OPB/SLG argument without considering RBIs. You guys act as if Jordan and Mondesi are going out there night after night and costing the Braves wins. Jordan has a slightly lower BA and OPB than Andruw and a good bit lower SLG, but has scored one more run and has one more RBI at this point in the season.

    I agree Andruw is better than either. They aren’t wretched defensively. Put Langerhans in for a week. What you get is DeRosa in the outfield. Think the Braves would be 16-11 with Jordan on the Bench and Langerhans in there?

    Andruw Jones doesn’t have more RBIs because he is hitting .143 with RISP, not because Jordan isn’t getting on base as Kyle S claimed.

    You want to know how poorly Andruw is doing offensively? All but one of his 17 hits at Turner Field this season are to from Center Field to Left Field. The other hit is to right center. 8 of 9 ground outs are to the left of 2nd base. He is still trying to pull the ball despite the best efforts of the coaching staff.

    Who could the Braves get that are better AND cheaper, and if they could, why didn’t they?

    The Braves were 13-14 at this point last season. Why is everyone acting as if their record is worse and wanting to revamp the team? I don’t get it.

  14. bwarrend:

    I’m trying to make a point, just like the person who used the BA/OPB/SLG argument without considering RBIs.

    Me:

    Line 1 below is Braves 2004 LF. Line 2 is Jordan’s 2005, projected to a full season:

    .296/.372/.489 89 R, 30 2B, 25 HR, 90 RBI
    .253/.314/.354 85 R, 14 2B, 14 HR, 99 RBI

    I included his RBIs in my post, and I’ll venture to say that if he continues the RBI rate at his present level of performance, he’ll be the first player in the live-ball era to drive in that many with such a low slugging percentage.

    I agree that Andruw hasn’t done much of anything this year, but while I expect him to improve, I can’t say the same for Jordan. I would very much like to be proven wrong.

  15. I see the theme; we don’t like Jordan and Mondesi. Which would you rather have this year? Hudson, Jordan and Mondesi or Thomas, Marerro, Drew and Russ Ortiz? Ortiz has more walks than SO and a 5.08 ERA. Eli is hitting .207, Thomas is batting .097 with a .097 SLG%. Drew is hitting .261 after a wretched start. So let’s compare the stats from those players for this year and see who we do and don’t want. Oh, let’s not forget about Dwayne Wise. I don’t know where he’s playing, but it ain’t in the majors.

  16. without considering RBIs

    As a team dependent stat, there’s nothing to consider. There’s little correlation between RBI’s and much of anything. It doesn’t appear to reflect much of a skill, but is rather a function of a situation created without respect to a particular players ability.

    You guys act as if Jordan and Mondesi are going out there night after night and costing the Braves wins.

    And yet they are. Their output relative to position is woeful. At least A. Jones is a CF. Corner OF’s get paid to hit.

    They aren’t wretched defensively.

    I’ll admit to being a bit flip in my previous post. I can’t seem to find any links to advanced defensive metrics, but I’ll tip my hat to you if you can find anything that points to them (well, I hate fp so don’t use that) being other than pedestrian at best.

    You want to know how poorly Andruw is doing offensively?

    I fail to see how this is relevant to Jordan’s/Mondesi’s grim performance.

    Who could the Braves get that are better AND cheaper, and if they could, why didn’t they?

    A bit of a red herring here – why did they have to be cheaper? If they’d used their trade chips a bit more wisely, and not handed out contracts to stiffs like Perez, I beleive they could have found better options. Langerhans certainly deserves more of a shot. Why would any person think that J/M would part from the track record of mediocrity they have established for themselves over the last few years?

    The Braves were 13-14 at this point last season. Why is everyone acting as if their record is worse and wanting to revamp the team?

    Because their record last year is totally irrelevant. This is a team with a limited bench and guaranteed crap at two offensive positions. They’ve been doing it with a bit of smoke and mirrors, some starting ERA’s that ain’t gonna last, and a lot of 1 run games. To paraphrase Animal House – crappy corner OF’s, a weak bench, and a suspect relief corps is no way to go through life, son.

  17. Which would you rather have this year? Hudson, Jordan and Mondesi or Thomas, Marerro, Drew and Russ Ortiz?

    Okay, this is a total strawman argument. Mondesi and Jorfan were free agent signees. What does that have to do with Hudson et al? Who in fact has said anything about the Hudson trade, or Drew for that matter? Just for the record, yeah, we should have resigned Drew. He will certainly outhit anyone one our team this year, despite having to play in an extreme pitcher’s park. Have you looked at his stats over the last three weeks?

  18. With the team you described, I imagine they will end up the season with a total collapse and go 50-112. You know that isn’t going to happen.
    Why would any person think that J/M would part from the track record of mediocrity they have established for themselves over the last few years?
    The same things were said about these guys; Burkett, Hampton, Thomson, Drew, Wright, Estrada, Franco, that’s why. The Braves have history of reclamation projects that have been successful wouldn’t you agree?

  19. Burkett, Hampton, Thomson…Wright,

    2 words – Leo Mazzone. I don’t think he’s the hitting instructor.

    Drew,

    Has always hit well. The concern here was durability, not talent

    Estrada

    Hit well in the minors. That he is hitting this well is a mild surprise, but he’s hardly a reclamation project.

    Franco

    His stats are right in line with where he left off before no one wanted him anymore. Am I astonished he’s kept it up? Sure. But he never had the record of suckitude of J/M.

    Look, I agree the Braves have had great results in mining the scrap heap – you left out Lightenburg – but that doesn’t mean every turd is going to turn to gold. And these two were so bad last year, it really boggles the mind that anyone would gamble on BOTH of them being useful.

  20. Slightly off topic,but watching KolBB’s performance today got me thinking about Closer’s(tm) theme music.
    Rivera and Billy Wagner enter the game to “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, Gagne takes the mound to “Welcome to the Jungle” by G&R; for KolBB how about “Walkin’ After Midnight” by Patsy Cline?

  21. You commented on the trades and contract they handed out to stiffs like Perez. My comments about Ortiz, Hudson and crew are relevant to the conversation. If you re-sign Drew, you don’t have Hudson. He is obviously the better choice of the two. He has been more of a factor this year despite how Drew has done the past 3 weeks.

    Not sure what you mean about the extreme pitcher’s park. Drew is batting .224 away and .308 at home.

    They don’t need Jordan or Mondesi to turn into Drew. They’ll pick up Sheffield or Matsui (or both) when George goes totally berzerk in another week or two, then you’ll have to pick on some other player like Kolb who is tied for 3rd in the NL in saves (or is there little correlation between saves and much of anything?). Before you start in on him, all but one of the top 9 relievers in MLB have at least one blown save, and Kolb is the only one other than Wagner in the top 20 with no HR allowed.

  22. Not sure what you mean about the extreme pitcher’s park.

    I meant Drew will outhit every member of the current braves lineup despite playing in a terrible environment for hitters.

    If you re-sign Drew, you don’t have Hudson.

    Says who? Kolb+Perez+Mondesi+Jordan are within a mil or so of Drew. All could be replaced for the league minimum, and one we flat gave away.

    (or is there little correlation between saves and much of anything?).

    It correlates well with having a three run lead and barely getting through a single inning, apparently. Do you think Kolb is seriously the third best reliever in the NL? “Saves” are the junkiest of junk stats.

    Kolb is the only one other than Wagner in the top 20 with no HR allowed.

    Hard to hit a dinger when he won’t throw it over the plate, isn’t it?

    They’ll pick up Sheffield or Matsui (or both) when George goes totally berzerk in another week or two

    Those two are hardly the yankee’s problem. Besides, we apparently can’t afford them. Hudson, remember?

  23. Spike, Drew is making $13M, and Kolb+Perez+Mondesi+Jordan makes at most $6.5M combine.

  24. Well, actually it was a five-year contract costing $55M. Still, the point is still valid.

  25. Kolb+Perez+Mondesi+Jordan makes at most $6.5M combine

    You left out Martin’s tasty 2m. Drew is scheduled to make 9M this year.

  26. Whoops, left ol’ Tom off my list. That is who I was referring to by “flat gave away”. My mistake. The point still stands though.

  27. Spike, you shouldn’t just look at the $9M he earns this year. Do you think it would be a wise idea to offer Drew 5yr-$55M?

  28. Do you think it would be a wise idea to offer Drew 5yr-$55M?

    Lessee here, 28 yo OF,can play all 3 OF positions exceptionally well, cannon arm, career OPS 904/OPS+ 133, runs like a deer, makes a ton less than either Jones – yeah, I can get behind that.

    GDMF insomnia is totally no fun.

  29. First of all, Andruw is getting a pretty bad rap. I know how bad he’s looked at the plate because I’ve seen 80% of his plate appearances, but he’s been more or less average offensively for his position:

    Average CF: .270/.335/.419
    Andruw: .247/.324/.433

    That’s slightly below average but he’s walking more and his power’s higher. His batting average will come around, and I see no reason for us not to expect a good season from Andruw.

    Jordan and Mondesi, however..

    Average corner OF: .266/.345/.438
    Jordan: .228/.290/.315
    Mondesi: .205/.245/.364

    I can’t really over-emphasize how bad that is. Of the 203 players that have 100 PA, Brian and Raul are 185th and 186th in OPS. They’re surrounded by old and young no-hit catchers, middle infielders, and established players in a long funk (Adrian Beltre, Eric Chavez and Mike Lowell).

    The difference between those guys and our two superstars is that they have a tracj record of success.

    Brian Jordan’s 2004 line: .222/.275/.363 in 233 PA in Texas, one of the better hitting parks in the league. So now we have over 350 PA telling us that Brian Jordan is one of the worst hitters in the league.

    Raul Mondesi’s 2004 line: .241/.313/.376 in 147 PA. So now we have 250 PA telling us that Raul Mondesi is one of the worst hitters in the league.

    Furthermore, defense is a young man’s game. Jordan is 38 and Mondesi is 34 – couple that with the lack of playing time for them last year and it’s a pretty safe bet to say that Jordan and Mondesi are below average corner outfielders, and probably significantly so.

    At this point there’s really no reason to continue playing them. We’ve got Langerhans on the bench and Kelly Johnson is tearing up Richmond. They might be completely terrible, sure, but there’s a good chance that they won’t be, and that’s a lot more than you can say for Jordan and Mondesi.

    (PS… Drew always got a bum rap, I feel. His two major injuries came from a David Wells fastball and chronic knee troubles that he came back too early from. That said, I’d be hard pressed to give ANYONE 5/55.)

  30. Spike isn’t living in reality. Why didn’t you answer the question? Who would you rather have, Hudson or Drew? They could not afford both on the budget they set and then sign Giles and/or Furcal down the road. They couldn’t extend Hudson or Smoltz. I imagine you would have preferred they signed Drew and Maggs and kept Smoltz in the pen.

  31. Why didn’t you answer the question?

    In the first place, I did – I showed you how they could have gotten the Drew money simply by not getting veteran bums.

    In the second place, Drew isn’t the argument, J/M are. With Cappelan and the 8M or so wasted, I think we could have done better. Even internally, Marte and Johnson could replace those two tomorrow and couldn’t be worse. Even if they were the same, they’d only get paid the minimum to stink

  32. Spike, your math doesn’t work. Even if it barely fits this year (which I don’t think so either, but I don’t have the time to do the math), Drew’s deal will never fit into the Braves’ budget next year and the year after.

    Anyway, Drew is gone. I have more interest tracking the progress of Nick Green, Millwood, and other ex-Braves than Drew.

  33. The issue with Jordan and Mondesi is the opportunity cost, not the economic cost. If either were even marginally productive their contracts would seem quite reasonable.

    The problem is that playing both imposes an opportunity cost in that baseball is a zero-sum game and their at bats come at the expense of someone else and that outs are a finite commodity. Every time either steps to the plate, they:

    a. Run a higher probability of uselessly consuming one of the Braves 27 outs than virtually any reasonable alternative (including a “cost-free” replacement player); and

    b. They deny someone who likely would do better (Langerhans, minor league call up of the month) the chance to play.

    Teams on tight budgets (Twins, A’s) can win by giving opportunities to young talent, and then reaping the benefits when young talent develops. They generally do not win by sitting around hoping players on the downside (end-side?) of their careers will somehow catch “lightening in a bottle”.

    In terms of the Drew discussion, these are my thoughts. The Braves let their best hitter walk via free-agency because they perceived the costs and risks of his contract to be too great. Fair enough. Still a team that does that needs to figure out a way to replace the runs they lost. The Braves mostly side-stepped this by pursuing a strategy of trying to limit the runs scored against them as opposed to replacing the runs they lost.

    This move can pretty easily be evaluated. Relative to a replacement player, have the changes in the pitching staff resulted in fewer runs allowed than Drew creates as a hitter? I think thus far in the season, the answer is probably yes, and that’s a big reason the Braves have won so many games.

    People on this board get agitated for a few reasons:
    1. This strategy puts a huge strain on the pitching staff which makes folks worry.

    2. Because the Braves are so weak offensively, games in which the other team does score early are pretty wretched for a fan to watch (as the probability of the Braves coming back are so slim).

    3. The Braves have better options to replace at least some of the offence lost in losing Drew, but are not exploiting it. Seriously, how great would this team be with its pitching staff and even an average level of offensive production?

    4. Recently successful teams (Boston, the Marlins, the Yankees of the 1990’s) won by getting productive at-bats (not necessarily power at bats, but at least disciplined ones) from each spot in the lineup. Seeing the Braves put a team out that has obvious holes in the line-up is incredibly aggravating, because in the case of Mondesi and Jordan, their is no reason to not pursue other options.

    As a last thought, I wanted the Braves to resign Drew, but I can understand why they didn’t. In my opinion, the Braves single worst move in the past few years was failing to offer Sheffield arbitration.

  34. Great post dbratl! Pretty much sums up the PRE-SEASON arguments eschewing the signing of Jordan and Mondesi.

    Lets face it Jordan and to a lesser extent Mondesi are playing to projections. The Braves obviously don’t do statistical projections or they wouldn’t have signed Jordan to a contract they would have NRIed him. Mondesi was/is? a big gamble but at his age and history, one worth taking. Now the Braves have to figure out when to fold em and that ultimatley falls to Bobby. Playing Langerhans isn’t going to hurt the team any more than Mondesi or Jordan. At this point why not give Strangerhans a chance?

    spike, your math really doesn’t work because the number you have to use isn’t 9 its 55. Drew may become the star everyone has projected him to be since he graduated from FSU but in the end his production or close to it can be had for less than 55 million dollars.

  35. Good post. It would be a waste of my time to echo what Gatts and dbr said. I agree with them.

  36. I agree somewhat with the comments about Jordan & Mondesi. I don’t think that Jordan should go, however. I’d like to see Mondesi gone and then a Kelly Johnson callup; but I think that Jordan should stay and be platooned with Langerhans or something like that. Regardless, we all should chill out a bit…I mean, we are tied for first place. It could be worse, we could be the Phillies.

  37. One “cost” that is not considered when we talk about playing Johnson or Marte is development cost. Jordan and Mondesi going out and stinking it up costs us only money — throwing a couple of guys out there who may not be ready could hurt their development in the long run. If we weren’t winning I think I (and Braves management) would look at things differently.

  38. Well, we’ve pretty well hashed this thing out so I am going to let it go. Two things though – I was not advocating Drew as the necessary answer, just pointing out that the team had better options than J/M. Two, while Snellville’s point is certainly valid, again, Johnson/Marte were not the only other option. There are numerous inexpensive guys that could form a nice platoon – Reggie Sanders, Frank catalonnato, Matt Stairs, hell, Eli Marrero hit pretty well. J/M was total hubris on management’s part that these “veterans” would somehow magically produce after horrendous seasons lat year. JS could have been a lot more creative than those two bums.

  39. –J/M was total hubris on management’s part that these “veterans” would somehow magically produce after horrendous seasons lat year. —

    You are right on here. I honestly think the fantasy was that one of these two would be this year’s version of Sheffield or Drew.

  40. I’m not sure if hubris was involved. I’m sure that they were ‘hoping’ rather than believing that Jordan/Mondesi would be productive. I mean there are enough Brognas, Caminittis, Ficks, Albie Lopez’ in Schuerholz past for him not to believe his own press clippings.
    What is more terrifying is that the Braves don’t seem to give a whit about statistical analysis. Jordan looks good, lost weight, swing looks good lets sign him even though every other club out there won’t touch him with a 10 foot pole. Same with Mondesi. Every stat head in the world would be telling the Braves management that this is a crappy move. They would be shouting Hey John! Those good numbers from BJ were when he was 33 and even then they weren’t that great. Or Ole Raoul was pretty good but if he doesn’t hit he is an out creator. How many of those do you want in the lineup? They would be telling him how Ryan Langerhans projects to be better than old Brian so lets go get a LOOGY for 6 hundred thou.
    I know that all of y’all are going to start shouting about the Braves history of success so they must be doing something right but some balance is needed between the 2 schools of thought.

  41. This is why I find it funny when people claim that Bobby Cox has no problems playing young guys. Sure, he doesn’t if there are absolutely no other options but if he’s given a Proven Vet, the young guy is going to rot on the bench. Jordan and Mondesi should’ve never been signed. If there was no money to adequately fill LF and RF through Free Agency, then let Langerhans, Johnson, McCarthy play the corners and, as Johnny pointed out, use the money pissed away on Mondesi and Jordan to add a decent LH to the pen.

  42. I can understand the interest in signing Jordan & Mondesi, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, but my concern was voiced by dbratl in his post. That continuing to play both to the exclusion of Langerhans/Johnson IS a zero sum game that costs both young players an opportunity to develop. Much as I think Bobby’s a great manager, I think he has a blind spot for some veteran players, and unfortunately, Jordan and Mondesi fall into that category, to the detriment of Langerhans, and possibly Johnson.

  43. I think Bobby has a blind spot for pretty much all veteran players. He stuck with Brogna for half a season even though the guy was absolutely putrid. Shane Reynolds didn’t leave the rotation despite being godawful after his first 2 or 3 starts. Vinny Castilla blew for the better part of 2 seasons but started every game he was able to. Really, when was the last time that Bobby benched a Proven Vet who was performing poorly? And I don’t mean benching for a game, I mean taking his starting job away for good.

  44. Well, the Braves just cut Tom Martin. Of course you did say ‘proven’ veteran.

    Really Bobby is kinda schizophrenic about this. He gives Adam LaRoche enough rope to prove that he can be good and is rewarded by a stellar second half. A couple of years ago, Mark DeRosa was hitting .390 but the Braves brought in Rey Sanchez and benched him. Furcal was brought in after just 3 games at AA and at age 19 played 131 games. So when folks say that Bobby isn’t afraid to go with a rookie, they are right. But when they say that he is partial to declining veterans they are right again! ???????? Shoot, I don’t know.
    My fear is that despite the statistical projection evidence, the scouting reports to Bobby say that all Langerhans is going to be is just a 4th outfielder and he goes by that. It kinda explains why Francouer was in camp to win a job (sort of) but that was never mentioned for Marte. I mean everything you read about Francouer is that he is a ‘good looking ballplayer’ while all the stathead pubs are drooling over Marte’s plate discipline, power and defensive ability. Go figure.

  45. Furcal was brought in after just 3 games at AA and at age 19 played 131 games

    While it was reported at the time that Furcal was only 19, it was subsequently learned by the public that he was actually 22. No one but Cox and Schuerholz and their brain trust can be sure, but I suspect that this did not come as a shock to the Braves Brass.

  46. Anyway, there has been a lot of talk about the outfielders offensive ineptitude, but I think a lot of the problem lies at the feet of young Mr. Furcal. He is 27 and should be in his prime. But he is batting below .240 with an OBA below .300. That simply can’t work for a leadoff man.

    When Furcal came up at 22, he batted around .295 with an OBA over .390. He did that while stealing 40 bases. I – as well as most Braves fans – saw that and thought with just a little development, he’d be amazing. I was guessing by the time he was 25-28, he would be batting .330 with an OBA of .440 and swiping 75 bases. He hasn’t approached those figures and, now, it appears likely he never will while in a Braves uni. He has been within 50 points of his rookie OBA only once and he has lost more than 25% of his annual steals.

    And this year, he is off to a pretty bad start. Add the disappointment in not living up to the initial billing, the age-gate when he added three years to his d.o.b., the two drunk driving arrests, this year’s weak start, together with what appears to me to be a horrible approach at the plate overswinging and not relying on contact and his natural speed, and we have found my present least favorite Brave.

  47. Guys/Gals,
    We are in first place and we are not hitting! Just think what will happen when the bats start to wake-up? The Phillies look like they aren’t going to stay in it. The Nats will fade and the Mets don’t have the pen. We jsut have to keep pace with the Fish (who are due for some more pitchers going on the DL anytime now) til we can start hitting. I am starting to think the bats are about to wake up too.

  48. The examples of Andruw and Furcal breaking into the big leagues at a young age and then having the coaching staff spend the next few seasons trying to break them of bad habits may account for why, in recent years, Cox has been slow in bringing along farm players like DeRosa and LaRoche. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the platooning of LaRoche worked well last year and seems to be a model for developing farm talent in the future.

  49. David, what ever bad habits the Braves Brass has been trying to knock out of Furcal should have been left in. He has regressed significantly as a hitter. He was a superstar in the making as a rookie and has progressed to solid, but far from spectacular at an age when he should be dominating. Andruw, similarly, came up with a pretty normal cup of coffee as a 19 year old, had a solid rookie campaign, and basically progressed through his age 23 season. But since there, he has regressed to a solid, but again unspectacular performer.

    Two players with loads of talent who tore through the minors. Maybe its not that the instructors have failed in trying to eliminate bad habits; maybe its the instructors creating bad habits. (Big blame from me to Merv Rettenmund around the time he suggested Furcal give up batting left handed)

    Speaking of bad habits … I wonder why there is so much complaining of Andruw’s tendency to pull everything. Its not like being a dead pull hitter has hurt Barry Bonds or Ted Williams or, in the terms of mere mortals, Carlos Delgado, Jim Thome, Jim Edmonds, etc. No, he isn’t George Brett or Willie Mays, lining the ball with authority to all fields, but he doesn’t have to be to be a star.

  50. If you are going to be a dead pull hitter, you need to plate discipline to wait for pitches that you can pull. You can’t be trying to pull sliders low and away; that how you hit into double plays. Andruw lacks the plate discipline to be a truly successful pull hitter. Someone like Vladimir Guerrero swings at everything but he hits the ball all over.

    The concern about how much people make lies with how it affects the makeup of the team. I couldn’t care less what Andurw makes if the Braves had the Yankees payroll. Since they don’t, the fact that he makes $13 million yet is incapable of batting in the middle of the order impacts how they put the team together. Obviously, Jordan and Mondesi weren’t the Braves first choices but the way the payroll is structured (large, long-term deals to essentially untradeable players like Andruw, Chipper, and Hampton),and given their self-imposed payroll limitations, they couldn’t go for a top flight outfielder. I won’t argue that there weren’t better options–everyone seems to have pointed out that there were–but the point is you can’t simply dismiss Andruw’s salary as irrelevant. He is a good player getting superstar money. I don’t blame Andruw for that; he got paid when the market was different and I’m sure the Braves thought they were getting a bargain.

    I agree that Furcal has regressed since his rookie year; he and Andruw are both examples of how the vaunted Braves player development system is somewhat overrated. They produce players good enough to start–no small achievement if you look at other teams–but they are flawed players who seem to reach a plateau. The Braves, all during this run, have been full of offensive players that give away at bats and lack plate discipline–that’s what’s killed them in the playoffs. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with coaching or instruction; these are players who either aren’t as good as they initially appeared or lack some component that would enable them to take the next step. Or, perhaps more likely, the Braves do not value the kinds of offensive skills, such as OBP, that seem to correlate to offensive success.

    To conclude, what does it say for the Braves that they have had Johnny Estrada frequently hitting cleanup and Andruw Jones hitting sixth or seventh?

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