Atlanta 5 Washington 4

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Nationals

The weirdness continues. The Braves won just their second game in their last six — and moved into sole possession of first place. The hitting heroes were Ryan Langerhans and Wilson Betemit, while Chipper went 0-5.

Not weird was a solid John Smoltz outing. He got roughed up in the second, allowing three doubles for three runs. For the game as a whole, though, he allowed six hits and four runs, four walks (two intentional) and struck out three. Needed 99 pitches to do it. Reitsma had another two-inning save. He wasn’t as impressive as he was in his last outing, but got a double play when he needed it.

Depending upon who you believe, Wilson Betemit either is getting showcased for a trade or getting tried out at shortstop so they can decide if he can play there so they can trade Furcal. Or Furcal’s shoulder is just acting up. Anyway, Betemit was 2-2, singling in the fourth and hitting a two-run homer to tie the game with two out in the eighth. He was also intentionally walked twice, which happens a lot. Sure, he’s hitting eighth, but people aren’t intentionally walking Jordan and Langerhans much. He looked okay defensively as well.

Estrada hit a solo homer in the second to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. Langerhans doubled twice, scoring in front of Betemit’s homer. Kelly Johnson was 0-3 with a walk, again. He still looks good out there and you figure sooner or later he’ll get the first hit, but he has to be frustrated. Marcus hit leadoff with Furcal out and was 1-4 with a walk, the latter coming in a long at-bat the like of which Furcal simply doesn’t provide. His single drove in pinch-runner Pete Orr with the winning run.

The Marlins lost to the Pirates again. I don’t get it either. The Mets won and are tied with the Natspos 2 1/2 back, and the Phillies are winning and will probably stay 3 1/2 back… Night game on TBS tomorrow, Ramirez versus Esteban Loaiza.

58 thoughts on “Atlanta 5 Washington 4”

  1. FOX Sports’ Braves site says Furcal has an “ailing right shoulder.” This might be his idea of playing through pain to help the team, like the Shawn Green disaster in LA a couple of years back.

  2. Regarding Furcal:

    Either A) he really is ailing & should have not have been playing for a while…he thinks he’s trying to help by playing? huh? Has he seen his boxscores lately? A healthy Betemit is clearly better. And it’d up to Bobby & the coaches to make the judgement call since most players are liars about injuries for the good or the bad of it.

    or B) Rafy is a liar, is not ailing, but is embarrassed by how bad he is.

    or C) the most likely scenario is that he’s fine but the Braves are putting a fake injury story out to help Rafy SAVE FACE while they give Betemit a shot since Furcal is stinking up the joint. This is the one I believe.

    Plus, Mondesi had no history with the team so the Braves could have cared less helping him save face but the Braves don’t want to embarrass Rafy. Plus, if they are looking to TRADE Rafael, they may want a fake injury story out until he starts hitting again so they have a built in excuse.

  3. The Furcal vs. Betemit Trade Rumors:

    If I had to lay Vegas odds on who the Braves would RATHER trade at this point, I would say FURCAL.

    The logic is simple.

    Forget current batting averages & the like. Furcal has A) embarrassed the team in the past with his immature behavior and drinking and the Braves like being clean cut and B) he is an expensive player who may get a lot more expensive next season should the old Furcal return soon.

    The bottom line as we all have seen is the Braves have become $80 million penny pinchers so at this point, since Betemit has shown he CAN hit Major League pitching and the offense stinks anyway (in large part to Furcal’s lax leadoff work) it’s rather easy for the Braves to deal away Furcal’s much larger contract…it allows them more flexibility to get outfield & relief help. The two areas right now of the greatest desperation.

    The flipside to this argument is that BECAUSE Betemit was once a great prospect and has now shown he can hit Major league pitching, it’s also possible that a smaller market, contending team (say, the TWINS for example?) would look to deal for Betemit since he’s cheap.

  4. It has been a pleasure to read posts from pepole as invested in this site and this team as Alex R.
    I sat down for quick check of the site before my shift at work and got harangued by my boss twenty minutes later!
    If the Braves don’t mean more to you than a job; why would you come to this site, right?

  5. You guys sure read a lot into a guy getting his first day off of the season because he has some shoulder pain. How many everyday players do you think aren’t hurting in some way?

    Furcal has had a poor season at the plate so far. Those numbers have been quoted ad nauseum here and elsewhere However, I would draw your attention to Furcal’s rank among NL shortstops in various fielding ratings:

    Total chances – 1
    Putouts – 1
    Assists – 1
    Double plays – 2
    Fielding percentage – 2
    Range Factor – 1
    Zone Rating – 2

    About the counting stats above, Furcal is one of 7 shortstops to have played between 435 and 453 innings at the position, so it’s not like he’s out there more than everybody else. Furcal’s defense has been stellar all season — to this point he’s the obvious choice for the Gold Glove at the most important defensive position. It’s practically undebatable.

  6. Possible Furcal or Betemit trade scenarios:

    Furcal:

    The Reds – The Reds SS situation right now is Felipe Lopez & Rich Aurilia. That’s pretty bad. They also have 4 or even 5 outfielders with great bats. It’s the team in MLB that simple makes the most sense. We have essentially one outfielder and 2 SS’s and they have 5 outfielders and no SS’s–YOU DO THE MATH. The obvious target is Austin Kearns since the Braves won’t pay Griffey and take the injury chances with him & the Reds don’t seem to be willing to deal Adam Dunn or Wily Mo Pena.

    Because the Reds are a NON contender, they may have MORE interest though in Betemit and not spending Furcal money.

    Astros – This team has quickly become a non contender but they made a huge turn around in the middle of last season and they may bite on Furcal with the offense so anemic; especially with the non hitting Adam Everett and several good outfielders. Obviously the Stros are not moving Berkman but possibly Jason Lane? I doubt we could get them to throw in Lidge…

    Diamondbacks – Their SS situation is murky but they don’t have the outfielders per say to trade. They do have several good young relievers and its possible that may happen but seeing as the D’Backs are in the NL, the Braves really can’t deal with them unless they get a good hitter back.

    Blue Jays – Dark horse scenario. They have some mediocre SS’s in Russ Adams and John McDoanld and IF they stay a contender, I could see them wanting a table setting SS like Rafy at the top of their lineup. The question would be if we could get Vernon Wells…probably not. Something MORE realistic would be either Frank Catalanatto or Reed Johnson with a reliever thrown in. I would do that. Save money, get a solid starting outfielder and improve the pen. I really like the underrated Catalanatto.

    Indians – Their situation has changed drastically in the last few weeks with injuries to Coco Crisp and Juan Gonzalez, thinning their outfield depth. Jody Gerut and maybe a reliever for Furcal would have made sense, especially since their SS situation is pretty mediocre.

    Whie Sox – This is a very interesting situation. The Braves & Sox almost did a deal last year involving Russ Ortiz and I could see them talking again. The Sox have extra outfielders Juan Uribe is not doing much at SS. Plus, I believe that when Ozzie Guillen was a PLAYER with Atlanta, he served as a mentor to Furcal and I am sure he would like the challenge of making Rafy mentally tougher again. The obvious pick up here might be Jermaine Dye…a veteran and former Braves farm-hand, he also has power. The Sox meanwhile will still have Everett, Rowand and Podsednik so they can afford to deal an outfielder. I could totally see this deal.

    Rangers – I am only throwing this out there despite the fact that their middle infield is Michael Young & Soriano, because the Rangers are a starting pitcher away from being truly Playoff legit…they may look to do a 3-way trade with the Braves and some other team which involves Furcal, an outfielder and a starting pitcher.

    Now onto Wilson Betemit:

    There are a lot more possibilities here because of his age and small contract so I will just stick with some obvious places:

    Reds (again) – since they are not a contender, they maybe more interested in Betemit to solve their god awful SS situation. More long term, less financial. Again, assume Austin Kearns to the Braves.

    Mets – Only if the Mets are truly out of it would a deal happen between these 2 hated rivals. The Mets Middle Infield situation is rather bad with Kaz Matsui and Jose Reyes. The Mets might even take Furcal because they will spend, If they fall out of it, it’s assumed they would try & move Cliff Floyd who’s bat would be a giant shot in the arm in the middle of the order.

    Astros (again) – since they most likely aren’t coming back this year, they would have more interest in Betemit but I then I don’t see them moving Lane for him unless the Astros aren’t convinced about Lane long term. Considering what the Braves saw from Willy Tavares in 4 games at the Ted, I doubt there’s much interest.

    Giants – this is an incredibly OLD team and that’s really old in the middle infield. They may even sniff at Furcal because he’s still only 27 so I think either guy is a possibility here. If the Giants fall out of it (and this appears evident), they will definitely want to move Moises Alou who’s old but he can still hit a ton; the Braves are likely only looking for a guy like him for maybe 1 year after this and that’s it–until Francour is ready. I don’t see the Braves having interest in bringing back Michael Tucker or Marquis Grissom.

    Rockies – the Rockies are desperate to shed Preston Wilson’s contract & the Braves would only swing a deal involving Betemit (which is why Furcal is a possibility here) if we can AGAIN get the Rockies to eat some of the contract, like they & the Marlins did so generously for us with Mike Hampton. However, with Clint Barmes at SS, this appears unlikely….(if he holds up his offense).

    Blue Jays (again) – Betemit is much cheaper so he makes sense here, whether this team contends or not.

    Twins – we all talked about Minnesota yesterday and frankly, besides Cinncinati, this maybe the team that makes the most sense. While Jaque Jones’ numberss aren’t staggering right now, he’s a good age (30), doesn’t make a ton of money, has some power and gets on base (.374 currently). Ideally, you would love to shed Furcal’s contract here but we may have to live with dealing them Betemit. I could live with it–Jones is a massive improvement over our current outfield crop and at the very least, means the END OF BRIAN JORDAN PLAYING. I would do it.

    White Sox (again) – If Betemit goes here, then it’s likely for a young Sox outfielder like Aaron Rowand.

    Mariners – This makes sense from the standpoint that they have a very SOLID albeit unspectacualr and inexpensive veteran in Randy Winn. His salary isn’t too bad and he’s pretty consistent offensively. Betemit could play SS there with that middle infield.

    A’s – Billy Beane would love Betemit’s ability to get on base…there’s no way between salary and his decision making we could get Beane to take Furcal. With Oakland, beane would love to shed a bit of salary and it’s a possibility we do a Betemit + 2 prospects deal to the A’s for Octavio Dotel & either Eric Byrnes, Bobby Kielty or Mark Kotsay. Byrnes would be my least preference…Kielty would be a great pick-up for the Braves…he’s hitting .294 with a .404 OBP; Kotsay would also be nice with his .292 BA.

    Plus, neither Kotsay nor Kielty has a huge salary and the Braves could afford them…also, the A’s would love to get more playing time for Nick Swisher and some of their farm guys as well. This could happen even if Oakland becomes a contender again but they are most likely out of it this year. Would LOVE Bobby Kielty. (and he’s a switch hitter).

  7. According to rotoworld (unsourced report), Bobby says Furcal isn’t likely to play tonight either. I hope that Betimit can prove to Cox that he’s capable of playing short in this stretch. I don’t worry too much about what the Braves do with Furcal this year… if he’s healthy, I imagine he’ll produce… it’s next year that I worry about most.

  8. While I admire your OPTIMISM, I think there’s big reason to worry about Furcal healthy or injured. If Betemit keeps hitting and proving he can get on base, the Braves have to play him.

    Of course if Chipper keeps up this ofer streak, we maybe seeing Andy Marte up sooner then later!

  9. Is the Reds SS situation that bad? I know Aurillia is absolutely terrible, but Lopez isn’t. I don’t know what his longterm outlook is, but he’s having a great year. If they’re smart (and I’m not suggesting they are), they’re looking to trade Casey and move Dunn to first. That is, of course, unless somebody would take Griffey.

    Oakland has Crosby and would probably never trade Kotsay. BUT I’m sure that they would be interested in Betemit if they thought he could play second base. I’m not sure if he can. Kielty has a pretty weak history batting left-handed, although he does still manage to get on base. And he is having a pretty good year.

    I would say the Twins are a definite possibility for Furcal. They have a pretty good shortstop prospect in Jason Bartlett, but for some reason decided not to give him a real shot at the job this year. A rental for the rest of the year makes sense for them, but I assume the salary would have to shake out. You have a lot more confidence in Jacque Jones than I do, but he is definitely having a very good year. And I think the salaries are roughly even.

  10. It’s not really optimism. It’s just that next year terrifies me. I have bad dream about people like Royce Clayton ;-)

  11. Actually, I think Jones is having a bit lesser of a year so far then normal, but still a far superior year then 2/3 of the Braves current starting outfield.

    I have to admit to be wrong on Felipe Lopez. I had no idea the guy was hitting .295 and that’s very disappointing considering I thought of the Reds as a definitely possibility. What a bummer though maybe you do a 3-way with Cincy as they are in a similar position to the Rangers where they desperately need a starting pitcher.

    Another possibility in all of this is that if John Thomson comes back healthy sooner then later and Kyle Davies keeps up solid work, the Braves may dangle Thomson (or hopefully Ramirez)to a team in need of a starter.

    I would be happy to give Kielty a shot considering his rock em sock em .404 OBP…the Braves need guys who get on base more then anything.

  12. My thought about Furcal is that he’s doing well defensively and while his offensive numbers are streaky and pretty pathetic at present, he’ll most likely come around soon. I expect at least a .260 or .270 average before the year’s over.

    The bigger concern is the future, and Furcal’s ain’t it in Atlanta. I think it’s pretty clear that he won’t be re-signed for the big bucks he’ll be looking for as a free agent (many of the reasons have been listed above). Why not trade him now and get someone that helping can fill in the gaping holes in the bullpen and/or outfield?

    I’m still not convinced that Betemit is an everyday SS, but I hope he gets a chance. If he’s at least serviceable, I think it would be reasonable to look for a little more offense at the expense of some defense at the postion. That, coupled with o/f or bullpen help would be worth a lot. I would even settle for a .260 or so BA combined with a much better OBP. Is it all the players’ faults, or should Pendleton shoulder some of the blame for the Braves lack of patience at the plate?

    If Betemit isn’t an everyday SS solution for some team, I really don’t think he has a lot of trade value to most teams at third. I just don’t see him putting up the kind of power numbers that most teams want at 3B. Anyone have a different opinion?

  13. I can understand having problems with Furcal’s off the field issues, but to suggest that his current stats are reflective of his abilities is jumping the gun. Certainly, he’s been in a slump (though he’s hitting .310/.420/.480 w/7R and 9SB since 5/22), but have we already forgotten his start from last year? He was arguably the best player in the National League at the break in ’04. I don’t want to pay a boatload for him this offseason, but they shouldn’t dump him while his value is perceived as being low.

  14. Kelly Johnson is pressing. I say we move him to the 2 hole and let Giles hit third. He will see more fast balls and Chipper will get to hit with runners on. WB had one good game for Furcal, I don’t think it it time to trade anyone yet. Furcal is a free agent at the end of the year and if we could get a guy like Lidge, it would be a nice trade off, but I bet we can’t. If Furcal was to be traded he would go to a team that wants to contend like the Cubs. I don’t think the Cubs would give us anybody we need (pitcher or corner outfielder) plus Perez has played well for them.
    If anyone gets moved it will be WB. Perez is going to be ready next year anyways and I think we might get a good set-up man for WB to help out Rietsma (who ever thought we would be saying that?)

  15. If he can get it going soon and raise his numbers, then it increases his trade deadline value.

    I think if we have the chance to say move him for a Jacques Jones + a reliever or a Bobby Kielty + a reliever, we would be idiots not to do it. Betemit is not as good defensively but he can hit and we need extra outfield offense clearly.

    I am frankly even more tired of Rafy at this point then even Andruw’s “letting us down when it counts” antics.

    And YES, Terry Pendleton should absolutely be FIRED. In fact, I would actually fire him now to make a statement to this team that not having some plate discipling is going to cost some jobs all the way around. I am sick to my stomach with all the times we swing at the 1st pitch for a meek grounder. YUCK.

  16. Few things. First, Jacques Jones isn’t a good player and is overpaid. He managed a below-average OBP two years ago while batting .300 – no plate discipline at all. Second, the time to trade Furcal isn’t right now when his value couldn’t be lower – we won’t get equal value for him. Third, I am optimistic on Betemit’s future, but we’re making an awful lot out of just a few plate appearances. This time last year Betemit came up and struck out in half his at bats. He’s not as bad as he played then, and he’s not as good as he’s playing now. I believe a little more patience with Furcal is in order, especially in light of how well he’s played the last two weeks.

  17. Terry Pendleton fired? Really? It doesn’t make sense to blame the hitting coach if you give him a bunch of hackers and they keep hacking. I believe in OBA as a critical offensive stat… and getting on base as a critical offensive skill. But some guys can’t hit that way. The batting coach’s job is to get the most out of the talent he is given.

    Raffy is having an off year so far (and that’s a HUGE understatement). Is that Pendleton’s fault? He’s never been a patient hitter, and he’s never going to be. In fact, he’s only about 3-4 walks shy of his pace from the last two years when he improved significantly over the previous two years. Do we give Pendleton credit for helping Raffy be more patient the last two years, or do we blame him for Furcal’s troubles so far this year (which have to do with an inablility to hit more so than an inability to be patient, at least as evidence by his walk totals)?

    Mondesi sucked. Is that Pendleton’s fault? He’s old and probably still hurting. And he was always a hacker.

    Jordan isn’t having a good year, and he’s a hacker. Is that Pendleton’s fault? He’s old and has always been a hacker.

    Johnny Estrada is only having a so-so year. But he’s only a so-so hitter. So do you give Pendleton credit for getting more out of him last year or blame him for Johnny being his normal self so far this year?

    Andruw Jones is having his usual year. He’s a bit of a hacker, but he always has been. I’m not sure he isn’t less of one thanks to Pendleton.

    Marcus is doing about his usual, although I hope he can hit a few more home runs.

    Nothing to complain about overall with Larry.

    Sorry… I just don’t get the idea that Pendleton “should absolutely be FIRED.”

  18. And what kind of message does that send to the players? “If you don’t do well, we’ll fire someone else”… some message. This is the thing I like about the Alanta organization more than just about any other: They don’t do things like fire coaches just because they think they have to do _something_. That’s what they do in places like KC… where they just fired a their hitting coach because they gave him a bunch of guys that can’t hit (e.g. Long and Marrero), and – surprise – they didn’t hit.

  19. Kyle-

    Jacques Jones isn’t an All Star but he’s Barry Bonds next to our current crop of hitters. Plus, he’s shown good patience at the plate and has a .374 OBP, something the Braves desperately need. Plus, he’s relatively inexpensive and plays strong defense. He also some power. He’s a good fit for us.

    creynolds-

    You’re darn right Pendleton should shoulder some of the blame. It’s his job as a hitting coach to get the best out of the lineup. He hasn’t shown me that he’s made Andruw or Rafy any more patient and if these jerks refuse to be patient then BENCH THEIR ASSES ALREADY. I am sick of watching this hacker, poor excuse for a lineup. As a die hard Braves fan, you should want & expect more from this team. Just like I expect MORE from Bobby Cox then 2 straight nights of the god awful Roman Colon in 2 1-run games, both of which Colon was directly responsible for helping the Braves LOSE. If it wasn’t for Bobby, we’d have a 3 game lead right now on Florida rather then 1 game.

    The point being, we got more when Clarence Jones was the hitting coach and even Don Baylor was solid. But this id downright atrocious offense and I don’t see why Terry Pendleton, who’s essentially the BOSS of this group, should be BULLETPROOF HERE. How can you not put some of the blame on this guy?

    Furthermore, the Braves hitters seem to think playing this way is OK because Bobby is busy wanting to be everyone’s best friend like he did in past years with turkeys like Blauser and Lockhart. I am not saying he should start acting like a raving lunatic ala Larry Bowa, but this passive attitude that we will just automatically win the division if we keep throwing shit against a wall (i.e. Kolb, Mondesi, Furcal, Colon, batting rookies third) is a poor way to manage and eventually, the Marlins won’t keep losing to the Pirates.

  20. Schuerholz, and probably to some extent Cox, make the players available. And Cox decides who plays. SO if the problem is a combination of who is on the team and who starts, you’re blaming the wrong guy in Pendleton. I’m frustrating by this hacking lineup too. I always have been. But when I look it at it, I see a bunch of hackers. I don’t see guys who would be more patient if we just had a different hitting caoch. If you do, that’s ok. I just don’t see the historical basis for it.

    I guess my main thing is that I put a little more stock in patterns over a few, or more, years than I do in 1/3 of the current season. And for that reason, I don’t see any more need to fire Terry Pendleton than I do to think that Jacque Jones is a good and patient hitter.

  21. Alex, the bullpen’s a much bigger mess than the offense, which has been ordinary. Do you want to fire Leo because he’s in charge of that?

  22. I’d hate to lose Furcal’s new defense, especially when Betemit’s D is suspect at this point. Also, Furcal doesn’t suck. He’s not this bad. It’s a slump (an extremely long and horrible slump, but a slump). He’ll pull out of it. Later on it might prove necessary to trade Furcal since we’re clearly not gonna resign him, but I’d like to be a little more confident in Betemit first. Everyone take a deep breath and try and calm down.
    Speaking of trades, I don’t think the outfield is the biggest problem right now. We need bullpen help. Kelly Johnson is gonna (probably) start getting some hits soon and Langerhans/Jordan are adequate, but the bullpen can be abyssmal. IF we are gonna give up someone like Furcal or Betemit our priority should be in the bullpen.
    Also, dudes, I love this site. Thanks.

  23. I think the Braves should hang onto both Furcal and Betemit. As pointed out, Furcal’s defense has improved significantly, and I think that Betemit, although he isn’t that good of a fielder, could add strength to the bench defensively as well as offensively. He’s certainly no worse than DeRosa.

    What about taking a flyer on Marrero and putting him behind the plate in place of the ailing Perez? Marrero could play the outfield occasionally, and the Braves wouldn’t have to trade away any valuable players. Sure, he could end up a bust, but the price might be right. The Braves should hold onto who they have and see who becomes available at the end of next month.

  24. Jacques Jones is a career .787 OPS guy. He’s 30 years old now. He makes over $4 million a year. His 3-year OPS trend is 125 – 106 – 90. Not an awful player, but not worth the money, and certainly not worth trading away prospects to get. Even if he looks like he’s learned to take a walk this year.

  25. The Kelly Johnson & Ryan Langerhans experiments are failing. Just because guys kill people in Richmond doesn’t mean that translates to Atlanta (exhibit A: BRAD KOMMINSK).

    The point being, while we wait for Rome to keep burning, we may want to evacuate the citizens first.

    As for who should shoulder MORE of the blame, Cox or Pendleton, it’s irrelevant. I blame them both fully for all the mistakes. It wasn’t Pendleton’s fault that Ckx BIZARRLY chose to use Roman Colon in not ONE BUT TWO 1-run ball games; just as it’s Pendleton’s fault that these guys aren’t being more patient at the plate.

    Cox can keep changing the lineup around all he wants but with the players he’s been given, Pendleton (who hasn’t shown anything in his tenure as hitting coach) is the one not getting the most out of these impatient hackers. Hell, our ‘best’ hitter, Chipper Jones has been garbage the last few weeks and when he eventually SEEKS advice to fix his problems, he will go to LARRY SR. not Terry Freaking Pendleton.

    Leo Mazzone is the only guy I respect on this team. And I am not alone.

    The Wall Street Journal, a pretty reputable paper, did a huge article on the Braves recently (of all things!) and the article from this very intellectual paper explore how Leo Mazzone, NOT Bobby Cox is without question the biggest reason for the Braves’ success the last 14 years.

    It put forth the arguments at all the mediocre pitching (Jaret Wright, Alejandro Pena, Kerry Ligtenberg, Kent Mercker, Mike Remlinger, Russ Ortiz, Greg McMichael, Steve Karsay, Chris Hammond, Charlie Liebrandt etc etc) that he’s gotten the most out of through the years. I mean, just look at all those guys who’ve gone right after their Braves success to the Yankees for triple the money and failed or are failing (Hammond, Wright, Karsay, etc).

    And while not everyone has done better under Leo (Bruce Chen has done better under Ray Miller now) proving he is human, he’s had way too many average guys perform above their heads.

    Can you honestly say that about Cox’s managing or Terry Pendleton’s instructions? I mean, did all the playing time that Cox granted Mondesi this year make him better? Or how about 4 years of Keith Freaking Lockhart? Did Terry or Bobby get that stiff to ever hit above .250? But with Leo Mazzone, the real genius of the Braves, Jaret Wright wins 15 games and garners a multi million dollar contract from the Yankees!!!!

    Dan Patrick said it best last December after the Yankees signing of Wright: “Unless they are bringing in Leo Mazzone as well, this is a bad move>”

    AMEN.

  26. How can the experiment be failing if they haven’t gotten enough at bats to give us something to look at? That’s simply ridiculous. And I have no problem questioning some things that Cox does, but to suggest that he is responsible for the shortcomings in the organization and then give him no credit for the unequaled success is even more ridiculous.

  27. It would be absolutely nuts to trade Furcal right now. You would be selling at the absolute low. Furcal has enough of a performance record that we know he is better than this offensively. To trade him to Minnesota for some non-player like Jacque Jones and then watch him go nuts on the carpet up there would be ten steps in the wrong direction.

    As has been said, Furcal has been great defensively this year and Betemit is shaky at best. The downgrade there would not be popular with Hudson and Hampton I’m sure. The plan should be to give Betemit a look while Furcal’s shoulder/ego heals and then get Raffy back out there have at it for the last three months of his Braves career.

    Oh, and I hope that Kelly Johnson kept his apartment in Richmond. “Looking good” or not, 0 for 12 is still 0 for 12. At least move him down in the order and bring up Langerhans. Johnson’s a rally killer where he is now.

  28. I also agree that the bullpen is a problem.

    However, overall I think I have been more happy then sad with Reitsma, Sosa, Foster (especially) and somewhat Bernero. I don’t think the bullpen is as much a disaster as the Mets per say though one more effective reliever would fix the problem as long as those 4 guys continue to be effective much more often then not.

    Bobby also needs to stop looking at Foster as situational and looking at him as a real stopper now.

  29. Furcal: I am not sure where people are getting this idea that I said trade him tomorrow. No way. I also want max value and we aren’t getting diddly for a guy hitting .230 who’s just been benched because of his total ineptitude. I absolutely agree that we ahve no choice BUT to wait for him to fix his stuff.

    Kelly Johnson: At least he’s taken some walks and the Braves could learn from that but I wholeheartedly agree…0 for 12 is 0 for 12. WELL SAID.

  30. The Wall Street Journal, a pretty reputable paper, did a huge article on the Braves recently (of all things!) and the article from this very intellectual paper explore how Leo Mazzone, NOT Bobby Cox is without question the biggest reason for the Braves’ success the last 14 years.

    Well gee if the Wall Street Journal said it than it must be true. Give me a break.

    No one is more responsible for this organization’s success than Bobby Cox. For his work in laying the foundation when he was the GM, to his unparalleled work as the manager for the last 15 years. Every manager has experiments that don’t work out. That fact that Bobby is willing to adjust midseason like this (changing closers, trending more towards multiple inning outings from his best relievers, trying rookies at both outfield corners), is one of his biggest strengths. He doesn’t demand players that fit into his system, instead he adjusts his system to fit the stengths of his roster. You can’t ask for more than that. Any discussion of the best manager ever has to include Bobby Cox in the first paragraph.

  31. But 0 for 12 is not simply 0 for 12. He has walked four times and struck out once. He’s scored two runs and gotten an RBI. This is four flipping games we’re talking about.

  32. I posted this on another thread, but I’ll post it here too:

    For some reason, if Atlanta were looking to deal Furcal to the Twins, I could see them being interested in Shannon Stewart: Lead-off batter (replacing Furcal), left fielder, proven vet, and by all accounts a good guy.

    That being said, having Betemit and Chipper on the left side doesn’t sound like a good compliment to GB-heavy pitchers like Hudson and Hampton.

  33. Remember when Andruw went 0-26? We definitely should have traded him or sent him to Richmond. Oh wait, no we shouldn’t have.

  34. And by this logic, we would have benched Larry in the first half of last year (or now, actually). Smoltz should never have been given a second start this year. And Charles Thomas and Eli Marrero should never have been traded.

  35. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing fake about Furcal’s shoulder injury. The timing for a fake like this is all wrong, since he’s been hitting lately, and he’s had problems with it all year. Watching him try to bat left-handed is painful with all the hopping around and grimacing. Looks pretty genuine to me.

    We cannot trade Betemit or Furcal. I don’t think Betemit’s good enough to be a regular, but he’s an extremely solid infield backup, which we sorely need, given the constant health problems of our infielders. Pete Orr is not enough for a team with a third baseman who seems to be getting more injury-prone by the hour, a shortstop with bad shoulders, and a second baseman who keeps running into things. Betemit is too suited to our needs to ship off. And Furcal is…well, Furcal. And that doesn’t mean a dumb guy hitting .230. That’s not the Furcal we know, and there’s no reason at all to assume this will last forever. Okay, maybe he’s dumb, given his off-field escapades, but we know he can hit and he has great defense. Shuffle him in the lineup or something, but the Furcal we’re seeing right now is not Furcal. Maybe I’m just stupid b/c I like the guy, but I think you have to judge based on the past, not what’s happening right now, because it doesn’t fit what we know about him.

  36. Remember when Andruw went 0-26? We definitely should have traded him or sent him to Richmond. Oh wait, no we shouldn’t have.

    Remember when Bobby moved Andruw down in the order to get him out of the way of the guys that were hitting? Me too, and that’s what needs to happen here. Hit him eighth and then he’ll draw all kinds of walks and everyone will be doing backflips for him.

  37. All of you are missing the BIG picture here with Andruw; he may come back and have a good year but he’s set to make BIG bucks in the off season and the Braves have no intention of keeping him. Hell, Javy Lopez’s best year in Atlanta was his last but it was a given that April the Braves weren’t willing to pay him once it became apparent that Estrada could be a solid every day catcher.

    Trading Furcal isn’t just about hitting .230 now or his off season drinking binges, it’s about the fact that Schuerholz won’t pay him a huge salary so we should try & get value NOW if we can…trading him in a few months (once that average hopefully climbs back up) for a Shannon Stewart or Bobby Kielty or Austin Kearns is much better then having the Yankees or Mets sign him in the off season with NO return.

    Am I wrong on this?

  38. 0-12? Who cares! JD Drew and Chipper went 0-the playoofs and no one said send them to the Twins! Look it is June, this is about the time of year we start getting it going. The Braves are like the weather heat up in the summer and cool off in the fall.
    If Furcal is still sucking in July, then yes, maybe we should ship him off.
    Axing T.P. is the dumbest thing I have heard in a long time. He has done a great job the last three seasons. When we win it all this year and Booby retires, T.P. will probably be the next manager.
    It’s only June! And we are in first place!

  39. Smitty, while you are busy ripping all my ideas, there is no logic to some of the things you’ve mentioned. Don’t just rip, but make a LOGICAL argument, ok?

    First, Furcal. No one is saying he is incapable of coming back and hitting .290 by July 1st, I grant you that’s a distinct possibility. But, it’s not my DECISION as I am not the General Manager that the Braves have absolutely no intention of KEEPING him after the season. Smitty, as a BRAVES fan, if you know, no matter what you or I think, that Furcal is leaving, wouldn’t you rather have Shannon Steart or Austin Kearns or someone like that FOR him, rather then get absolutely NOTHING? This isn’t a strike against Furcal, it’s simple math, my friend.

    Second, on what evidence do you base that Terry Pendleton has done a “Great job” in the last three years.

    His MVP award as a player in 1991?

    The Braves stellar batting averages?

    The Braves stellar on base percentages?

    And say, “hey, we are in first place!!!” but shouldn’t there be a LITTLE concern that we are 8-11 in our last 19 games? Does that not bother you?

    You talked about how we “cool off” in the Fall…does that bother you? Wouldn’t you like an offense and a bullpen to go with our starting pitching in October?

  40. Alex, last year the Braves finished fifth in the league in runs per game with a lineup that featured a first base platoon of a rookie and a guy who played with Tug McGraw and a left field platoon of a catcher and a guy who had been taken off the 40-man roster the year before. Two cornerstone players, Chipper and Marcus, missed 25 and 60 games respectively and had down years. They lost three type-A free agent hitters. And finished fifth in runs scored.

    Oh, what about the year before? They led the league in runs scored. The year before that, they were middle-of-the pack, eighth. So they’ve been above the median every year of TP’s tenure. Now, compare Merv Rettenmund…

    By the way, they’re sixth in runs scored, fourth in runs per game, this year, despite Furcal’s awful season and carrying dead weight in the outfield corners. The only teams with clearly superior offenses are the Cards and Padres.

  41. Mac,

    Though you threw me under the bus with your comment, I know for a fact you don’t disagree with me that if Furcal should get a lot better, it is a fact that its better to trade him rather then lose him for FREE in the off season!

  42. Draft pick compensation is something. And so is value for the remainder of the year. I mean, really, your Jacque Jones wouldn’t be back next year either, for example. Even though it’s clear that you don’t believe much in historical precedent, you may want to check his stats to see that he and Furcal have been incredibly similar players over their careers… except that, of course, Furcal plays a far more valuable position. I think that’s a logical argument, don’t you? Or is Furcal’s uncharacteristically lousy hitting over 50-some games more persuasive to you than Jones uncharastically good hitting over the same period?

    I think Mac has made a pretty logical argument in support of Terry Pendleton. To that, I will add the performances of Estrada, Marrero, Thomas and Drew last year. The first three played well over their heads for extended periods of time and Drew had the best year of his career. Or is it that bad years mean more than good years for coaches, even though the oppsite appears to be true when you evaluate players?

  43. creynolds,

    Mac is one of my best friends and I PROMISE you, he in no way was DEFENDING Terry Pendleton…he may defend our hitters per say, but he was not defending Terry as i know for a fact that Mac’s not a big fan of TP…we just talked about him the other night.

    If anything, during the course of the time I have known Mac (since 1993 to be exact during my freshman dorm days at the University of Alabama) I have ALWAYS defended TP to Mac…neither of us is a fan now. Alex.

  44. It’s true, I don’t think much of Pendleton as a hitting coach. I don’t think much of any major league hitting coach; I just don’t think it matters a whole lot. From what I can tell, they’re mostly divided into two groups:

    1. The ones who don’t do anything worthwhile.

    2. The ones who screw things up.

    TP goes in the first group, which puts him in the upper half of MLB hitting coaches. Rettenmund was in the second group. If a hitting coach can simply manage to not screw a player up, maximize the value of marginal talents like Orr, and maybe occasionally fix a mechanical problem in a player’s swing, he’s doing as much as you can expect.

    I’m still not sure why they fired Clarence Jones.

  45. It’s still a pretty pursuasive counter-argument. I’m not in love with TP either. Although I certainly have very fond memories of him as a player, I’m rather neutral towards him as a hitting coach (like most hitting coaches). I just wouldn’t blame him for Furcal’s troubles this year or for the fact that all the hackers this team has been built around are hacking at the plate.

    And Larry has always gone back to daddy to help fix his swing. That’s not a knock against TP. He did it when Baylor was there, too.

    And it could very well be of benefit to trade Furcal. I just think the pickins is slim.

  46. There is obviously a dilemma about the Furcal situation.

    1. he’s not hitting now but Betemit is, so do you play Furcval or Betemit and who do you showcase if you trade one?

    2. Will Furcal be back next year.

    Assuming the answer is NO…

    3. Do you:

    A) keep him, hope he bounces back offensively and squeeze the rest of this season out of Rafy in hopes he leads the Braves to the Playoffs

    or

    B) trade him (if value goes up & allows us to) now so that we can get something BACK for him of quality that allows us to compete this year and take our chances with Betemit as an everyday shortstop.

    It’s an interesting dilemma, one the Braves are obviously dealing with.

    To me, my attitude is I want to WIN the World Series every year.

    And while I wholeheartedly agree that Furcal is a superior defensive player to Betemit, I think offensviley if each played the same amoutn of games the rest of the year, I wouldn’t be shocked to find Betemit slightly ahead or at least even, though they have different strengths.

    That said, is it worth downgrading the defense and possibly team speed if you can get a very good everyday outfielder the likes of Shannon Stewart, Cliff Floyd, Moises Alou, Austin kearns, Bobby Kielty or someone else?

    Here’s the bottom line: are we better off with Furcal & 2 rookie outfielders sharing time with a washed up Brian Jordan, or Betemit and a Shannon Stewart or Austin Kearns?

    Not to mention that this Furcal’s last year for sure in Atlanta.

    My argument: risk the defense a little, deal Furcal when the batting average improves and get yourselves an outfielder we might even keep.

  47. Think of Javy Lopez’s last year and you have a similar dilemma only that was WAY worse: Javy had a ridiculously fantastic offensive year from start to finish, SO GOOD in fact, the Braves couldn’t even think of dealing him, even though we all saw the writing on the wall and that it was likely his last year as a Brave.

    In the end, the Orioles threw tons of cash at him and we got nothing in return.

  48. I say keep Furcal. He can help us win now better than WB. Furcal is going up there look at strikes and swinging at balls. I think a day or two off should help him some what.
    It is not Terry Pendleton’s fault we are not hitting. He can’t go out there and make Furcal swing at a pitch.

    If we are going to pin players results on him lets look at the last few season’s success: Nick Green, Charles Thomas, Estrada, Giles,…

    A hitting coach’s job is to help hitter find their holes and help them through. We just have to be patient. I am more worried about our bullpen than our hitters. Our pen has been slugish over the last few weeks, but we aren’t going to fire Leo.

    Furcal just isn’t seeing the ball well at this point. He needs to bunt more or something. Eventually he will figure out that his speed can get him on base and he will use that.

  49. Last year would’ve been a very good time to trade him.

    I always thought Clarence was fired to get Baylor in. I don’t think it would’ve happened if Baylor hadn’t been available. And it seemed like a good opportunity to get in something of a second bench coach to help out Cox’s in-game decisions, which were being criticized pretty heavily around that time. I also wondered if it wasn’t a Schuerholz power play. There were pretty strong rumors that he and Cox weren’t seeing eye-to-eye back then.

    Alex – we got draft picks for Javy. Those really and truly are not nothing. Especially for a team that is working on a budget (albeit it a pretty nice one), continually finishes high in the standings and occassionally signs top-tier free agents.

  50. I should add that the picks have to be used wisely for them to not be nothing. So there’s some question there. Although it seems pretty clear to me that the young talent in the organization is for more deep than it has ever been. Some indication that the drafts have gotten better.

  51. Actually, we didn’t get draft picks for Javy, nor for Sheffield or Castilla. In fact, the Braves gave up their first rounder last year to sign Thomson. Maybe they were afraid of an arbitration hit, or they just didn’t want to spend the money on bonuses.

  52. Oh. I knew they didn’t offer arbitration to Sheffield or Castilla, but I thought they had to Javy. My bad.

    In my harping about draft picks, it also occurred to me that they might be afraid of offering arbitration to Furcal if he stinks it up the rest of the year. So that is an additional risk.

  53. I would trade Furcal for Kearns, but the Reds don’t want half a season of Furcal – they’re going to finish with a bad record no matter what team they put on the field as long as they have Eric Milton and Paul Wilson “headlining” the rotation. I sure as hell would NOT trade him for Shannon Stewart, an old , slow, expensive, no-power corner OF with a good OBP. If Kelly Johnson hits .200 and keeps walking, he’s already more valuable than Stewart and costs nothing.

  54. I heard one baseball “guru” on ESPN radio say that the Braves are headed for trouble because they are scoring a lot more runs than they should be given their batting averages and OBP. Another way to look at it is they may really be good if hitters like Furcal, Jordan or Langerhans, Laroche, and Kelly Johnson or whoever turns it around.

    I agree with Alex in that the point about Furcal isn’t how well he’s hitting or not hitting, but the value we get from him if we trade him soon or wait until the end of the year and get nothing.

  55. I don’t think they were showcasing Betemit. I went to the game early and Betemit started warming up just before the game started, so I think Furcal was scratched late. But he looked good; his most impressive at bat wasn’t really the homerun but the earlier one where he singled sharply to right field.

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