California 8 Atlanta 4 – MLB – Recap – Angels at Braves

The nightmare continues. Tim Hudson left the game with nobody out in the fifth, right after a sharp grounder was Bucknered by LaRoche into tying the game at four. It’s not clear what the injury was; hopefully it’s purely precautionary.

The Braves got all their runs in the fourth, batting around. For the rest of the game, they were limited to a ground-rule double by Marcus and a walk by Langerhans, and four hits total. Johnson continued to struggle, as did Marte.

Bernero relieved Hudson; he looked pretty rough in the fifth, allowing three warning-track fly balls, but better in the sixth, with a couple groundouts and a strikeout. But John Foster went Kolb on them tonight, retiring only one of the four batters (all lefties) he faced, a triple scoring the guys who had walked and singled in front of it. His control was awful and he took the loss. Gryboski, of course, allowed an inherited run. Kolb, of course, came in to allow another one, but it didn’t really matter; no way the Braves were going to score three runs on the Angels’ bullpen.

A day off to lick their wounds, then the A’s come to town. They haven’t been very good this year but you can’t be very optimistic.

66 thoughts on “California 8 Atlanta 4”

  1. Gryboski is getting on my last nerve with his suckitude with inherited runners. The Angels’ pen has (according to a column I read today – I think it was Peter Gammons) allowed 3 inherited runners to score – ALL SEASON. I think Gryboski does that just about every time he comes in with the bases loaded.
    I know there’s plenty to be frustrated about in a game like this (hello, offense?), but Gryboski’s ineptitude w/ runners has to have an impact w/ Bobby & Leo at some point (you’d think, at least)…

  2. I don’t blame him this time. (I just need to point it out.) This one’s on Bobby and Leo. A runner at third, one out, is the last time you bring in Gryboski, because in that situation you need a strikeout or a popup, not a ground ball. Even Kolb is more likely to get out of that situation without a run scoring.

  3. Last time I checked, Gryboski couldn’t get ground balls, either. Why Bobby and Leo continue to use him like this is beyond me. How should they use him? I don’t know, he and KolBB can start a concession stand or something, to pay off KolBB’s contract and ship him to a hippie farm so he can “find himself.”

    Sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. The stench of the mounting pile of losses appears to have caused brain damage. If it’s not the offense it’s the bullpen and if it’s not the bullpen it’s the offense. I don’t know which it was tonight. “Congrats” to KolBB for only giving up one run! It’s a start. Hudson’s injury is awful, but he seems to get into trouble a lot. He allows far too many baserunners. Was he like this last year? At this rate, there will no longer be an AAA team in Richmond. It’s getting ridiculous.

    For a laugh, someone’s suggestion as to how to get us some money to get better players: make AOL stop sending out those lousy free CDs. No one uses them except for coasters or to open packages and they’re just losing money. Thoughts?

  4. I was thinking earler that a good use for Kolb would be “plunking detail”: anytime someone (like Erstad) needs to be plunked, we send in Kolb to do the plunking.

    And then we would watch him not be able to do it.

  5. Agree wholeheartedly about the AOl CD’s…no one uses them anymore.

    I am more sick of Gryboski now then KOLBB because KOLBB wasonly used when the game was out reach…the game was still WITHIN reach when Gryboski was used so that officially makes him worse and more evil.

    Plus, it’s really hard to like a guy THT ugly. Gryboski is like a human slug and pitches like one. Between KOLBB, Suckowski & Colon-Cancer, the bullpen is currently in shambles.

    How long until Devine is ready?

  6. I have been a Braves fan since the 70’s and for the most part I’ve been pretty optimistic about their chances. The run of 13 division titles is incredible, but I believe that there’s a very good chance it will come to an end this year. I think Cox may be told to do his best with what he has and prepare for a run next year.

    All of the speculation about making major trades is fun, but I just think the Braves have too many holes with their injuries to expect to pick up one or two players and turn things around. Realistically, Furcal is the only player I see that the Braves will want to deal (mostly to dump payroll and to get something for him before he becomes a free agent), and I would be surprised if a team will give us a lot in excahnge considering this is the last year of his contract and he’s not setting the world on fire.

    The one thing we have going for us is that the division is weak. However, I don’t think Cox or others are real happy about winning a division without having a team that has a realistic shot at the World Series. We could possibly make a few trades to give us a shot at the division title again, but do we want to do this if it doesn’t give us a shot at the Series? As I said, I’m a very optimistic person, but does anyone realistically think that if we can get everyone healthy and make a few trades without sacrificing our future that we can compete in a best of 7 with the Cardinals, Padres, and Red Sox, Orioles or White Sox. I just can’t see it happening under very many circumstances.

    I think we’ll do our best with the 50% AAA team that we have and see which of these guys can really help us in the future. Maybe not winning the division will wake the fans up and developing a younger more enthusiastic team will be the best thing that can happen to us in the long run.

    I’ll still pull for the Braves to win it all, but I just don’t see how Cox or even JS are complete fools if we don’t win the division. On the other hand, if we win the division with the young, raw talent that we have, a few WS rings in the near future are a strong possibility.

  7. Is anyone else as unimpressed with Tim Hudson as I am. I know he had cramps last night, but his performance against the better teams (Cards, Red Sox, Angels) has been pretty lousy, his command is nothing to write home about, and he gets few strikeouts. I thought we were getting an elite, top of the rotation pitcher, but I have yet to see it.

    And I know it’s Kolb’s fault for everything, but has anyone noticed that our $13 million centerfielder can’t hit his way out of a paper bag? (I’m sorry–it’s Andruw-bashing to complain about him hitting .240.) Yes, he is not the only one–our veteran “stars” including Furcal and Giles have been pretty lousy.

    Hopefully, some of the young players will show something and they can build for next year. But, being stuck with onerous saleries and TW’s penury, it’s going to be difficult to do much except wait.

  8. If Chipper is out for a long period of time, we HAVE to make a trade for a bat. I don’t think CHipper is going to need surgery and maybe rest will help him and Hampton. If we can tred water until they get back, we will be ok. We really have been in every game that we have lost in the last few weeks, a bounce here or there or a couple more kolb saves and we could be up by 41/2 games right now.

  9. Another note: the Braves opponents have a record of +21 games over .500, no one else in the Phillies are 2nd in the division with a +11. Things are going to get better.

  10. Hudson was cramping up last night, at least that’s what the ajc is reporting this morning. Sounds like he shouldn’t miss any starts. The paper is also reporting that Hampton will rest his arm for another two weeks. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the rotation.

    As an aside, I am the only one who worries about the team’s payroll structure? They’ve got a ton of money tied up in players who seem to be either increasingly injury prone (Chipper, Hampton) or underperforming (Andruw, sorry Mac). I just hope it doesn’t hamstring the Braves too much going forward.

  11. This team has to gain some payroll flexibility. No doubt about it. The last couple of offseasons, I’ve been afraid that they would trade Andruw, now I don’t think they really have much choice. I’ll be one of the last people to get off the train, but I think the end of the line is getting near. I think that, overall, he is still a valuable player. But I would have to expect (and, yes, even now somewhat mildly hope for) a trade this offseason. If the budget issues were different, I would probably feel differently. But they aren’t, so I don’t. If Langerhans power is for real, and he can hit for a decent average he would make a serviceable CF for next year. Just so long as it’s not Snead. I’ve said this before, but Snead and Royce Clayton headline my nightmares as replacements for Andruw and Furcal.

  12. Eric S., The payroll structure has had a negative effect on the team from the start of the season. With over 50% tied up by Chip, Andruw, Smoltz and Hampton thats why we had to settle for Jordan and Mondesi.

    No one should apologize for saying that Andruw is underperforming. He is. He is not hitting a lick away from Turner putting up a dismal .202/.235/.444 line. What’s more is that the slumps seem longer and deeper than the streaks. April was bad, May was good, June so far has been flat out horrible. No its not all Andruw’s fault but he sure isn’t helping us any right now.

  13. Andruw can be a problem, sure. But the big picture reality of this team is that Andruw is not the problem. If you can look ahead to the offseason and see better options for less money that are available, then one can start talking about trading him.

  14. Oh yeah, Andruw’s been a definate disappointment this year. I really thought he’d turned a corner. That’s what I get for looking at spring training stats! Just trying not to get too down on the guy, he’s not the team’s biggest problem these days even at his current numbers.

    On an unrelated note, I was at the game last night and noticed they’ve added OBP and SLG to the stats on the scoreboard. Never thought I’d see that.

  15. Finally.

    This is the moment on BRAVESBEAT.COM/BRAVESJOURNAL I have been waiting for.

    I have stood ALONE ripping Andruw and constantly hating the way he plays the game, the way HE NEVER HITS IN THE CLUTCH and overall lackluster excuse for a “star” player he is.

    And I sit back, every week, year after year, getting ripped by MAC THOMASON while every other Braves fan stands idly by.

    No more.

    Finally, some justice. Everyone is coming out of the woodwork defending my position that Andruw is an overrated hack who never plays hard, always under performas, and has never lived up to the God given abilities he has, if he HALF A HEART.

    I honestly hate his face. I see him out there lollygagging, smirking, and generally underperforming nightly and I hate him even more then KOLBB. KOLBB sucks but he actually seems to TRY. Andruw is fat, lazy piece of garbage and I plan to pop a champagne bottle when his lazy butt is shipped somewhere else so he can hit .240 for another team and strike out with runners on base in the late innings for SOMEONE ELSE already.

    I want to spew fire every time Mac defends this asshole and I am beyond happy to see everyone taking shots at this lazy bumb.

  16. If things get a lot better, I definitely think Cox should get MOY or even Mgr of the Century. Let’s analyze what they now have.

    Starting pitching – average. If Hampton gets back soon I would call it above average.

    Bullpen – well below average. I don’t see even a huge trade turning things around. This is especially true when you consider that our 4 best pitchers (Sosa, Reitsma, Bernero, & Foster) are having career years. If you look at ERA right now, only Foster’s stands out.

    Hitting – well below average. To have a really good year we needed the Mondesi experiment to pay off, Chipper to have an injury free MVP type year, and Andruw to live up to his potential. Last I checked none of those are happening. The rookies have some potential, but only Langerhans is showing promise right now. Even Langerhans, Marte and Johnson at their best are only .270 hitters – see their stats from Richmond. Betimit is definitely showing promise, but I expect him to come back down to earth and bat about .270 or so. This is excellent for a rookie, but it’s still not enough given the rest of the team.

    Defense – above average. While the team in general has made its share of errors, I think the improved defense of Furcal has really helped us. Andruw is still as good as they get and the Chipper/Marte combination at 3rd looks good defensively. Langerhans is also impressive. This is a very under-rated part of most teams (see about 80% of the Mets teams over the past 15 years for an example), and I think the Braves are solid if not spectacular. This will definitely help us, but not enough.

    Realistically I think we need 2 to 3 more relief pitchers and all of our veterans healthy and performing at high levels plus two more hitters to be a championship caliber team. I just don’t see this happening without increasing payroll dramatically (we’ve said we won’t do this), or mortgaging the future (I hope this doesn’t happen.)

    I don’t mean to be doom and gloom, but I would just be surprised in a huge way for us to make a major transition from a fair to average team to a great team, given our holes and contraints.

  17. I dunno. Maybe I’m dumb, but I’m kinda optimistic (a very rare thing on this network).
    We’re sucking right now, but it’s b/c of injuries and veterans underperforming. Now, I’m not terribly optimistic about our immediate future, but I think we still have a more than fair shot at the Division, if we get Thomson, Hampton, and Hudson back where they’re supposed to be.
    Betemit is playing great (when he’s playing). Langerhans is starting to be productive enough. Johnson, Pena, and Marte (or at least Marte) are up and playing and will eventually turn it on. Davies is outstanding.
    These kids make the future a little more fun to think about. Considering the levels of production from Andruw, Furcal, and Giles these kids are already carrying the team (and it’s a team within a couple games of first).
    Our veterans will find their form and pick it up sometime (I mean, they have to, right?). And with Furcal and LaRoche and some other kids from the farm we oughta be able to go out and get some help in the pen. If we could just stop getting hurt.
    Even if we don’t win the division this year, next year and the year after look very bright. And even this year should be a lot of fun getting to see the kids play. I really, really hope they trade Furcal and soon!

  18. Wow, Alex. It sounds like you’ve gone well beyond player analysis into a personal dislike of the guy because he doesn’t appear to try hard enough for you.

    I’m not jumping off the bandwagon. Say what you will about Andruw, it’s very easy to get down on him when he gets into a funk like he’s in now. It’s just as easy to be high on him when he starts crushing every pitch, like he did three weeks ago. Overall, he’ll hit 30 bombs, put up a mid 300s OBP, and play very good (if overrated) defense in center. That’s a valuable player. Is he overpaid? Sure. Will we get back equal value for him in a trade? Not even close. As Mac often points out, Andruw is far from the source of our problems.

    What about a corner OF we start that can’t put up even a .600 OPS? What about our leadoff hitter with his sub .300 OBP? What about our 2nd baseman, talked up as an MVP candidate in some circles, with a .745 OPS, lots of strikeouts, a slowing bat, and low isolated power? What about our first base platoon struggling to provide position-neutral league average hitting ability? What about our gifted yet oft-injured (at least the past two years) third baseman who seems to be leaning toward having surgery even if doctors don’t tell him he has to? What about a bullpen full of guys that suck?

    The Braves have a lot of problems. It would be nice if Andruw was hitting better. It would be even better if he had developed into the player that everyone thought he would become when we signed him for what was then considered a below-market deal. But as for me, I’ll take him for what he is: a gifted yet erratic above average hitter at an important defense position. If the team had 7 other position players like that, we’d have won a bunch more games this year.

  19. I will say ONE nice thing about Andruw–his defense has always been first rate. There, before Mac goes bonkers.

    Also, responding to the charge that the Braves should “throw in the the towel” this year; I don’t agree with this.

    First, this team should have some freaking pride (I am speaking to you, Andruw and you, Furcal).

    Second, this division is mediocre through and through. Frankly, the Marlins, based on team talent, should be running away with this division. But they are playing as average as the rest of us. Right now, the Nats are playing the best Baseball in the NL Least and may win this division…I said before the season they had the starting pitching to at least be competitive every single night and that has essentially been true.

    But, despite these injuries, we have some good young players that if we made a tarde or two, we could stay in this thing.

    Furthermore, while I don’t believe we will win the World series this year, I wouldn’t exactly say there are LOCKS all over Baseball for anyone to win.

    The Orioles & White Sox are playing far above their heads. So are the Nats; I am un-convinced any of these teams will be world champs.

    The Cardinals starting pitching is an injury away from a meltdown. If Hudson (agreeing with the person who is attacking Timmy) would pitch like the ace he’s SUPPOSED TO BE (the Andruw of starters? No…) and Hampton gets healthy fast, we have 4 starters (along with Smoltzie & Davies) that can match ANY 4 man in Baseball. We can win 2-1 games.

    The Padres have Jake Peavy but I am not remotely convinced that offense will continue to be that good (with table setter Loretta out) and not sold on their rotation behind Peavy holding up. I just don’t see it…maybe for the division but not to win it all?

    The Red Sox are going to have to fully rely on their fantastic hitters because their starting pitching is even less reliable. If Schilling can’t make a full, healthy quality comeback, this team is not going to win back to back world series.

    If the Rangers don’t pick up Roger Clemens or some other starting pitcher, they cannot be taken seriously.

    The Angels have to get Vlad Guerrero back and even if they do, their starting pitching is not that great.

    The bottom line…the supposed BEST teams in Baseball have enough weaknesses to be questioned as world champs. Right now, based on TALENT ALONE, the Marlins should win the world series but they have many people including Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota who are under performing so who knows?

    it’s open for the Braves to figure a way back in and we have the starting pitching (when healthy) to be in it.

  20. I’d have to put myself somewhere between Alex and Kyle on this one (actually, given the anger level, probably much closer to Kyle). Just to clarify: I don’t hate him for any reason. I don’t think he doesn’t play hard so much as he doesn’t _look_ like he’s playing hard. Hank Aaron never _looked_ like he was playing hard either. And, no, I’m not comparing the two overall, but in this respect I do find them similar.

    I do agree with Kyle that we wouldn’t exactly get equal value for him in trade. But there is value to the payroll flexibility that would come with having his contract off the books. Replacing him is not easy. He is a valuable player. It’s just that overpaid, yet still valuable players are not a luxury this team can afford given the commitments to Smoltz, Larry, Hudson, etc.

  21. Considering the amount of BUSINESS that Andruw provided the GOLD CLUB in the late 90’s, has he really given anyone the impression that he has Tim Duncan-like determination and fortitude to improve his game and act like a winnfer for ONCE IN HIS PATHETIC LIFE?

    No defense of this guy. He’s supposed to have been carrying this team and be a Pujols-Edmonds-Abreu type offensive leader for this team and that has never happened. I have never seen so many people remove their backbone and say “gee, I am content with Andruw’s constant .240 average”.

    yes, I have no doubt Mac will point out that his career average is .270 but I can’t be the only who’s noticed 9 straight years of Andruw NEVER SEEMING TO HIT IN THE CLUTCH.

    Yes, Chipper is wearing down now but I won’t attack the guy because for many years, Chipper ALWAYS hit in the clutch. Hell, even Jordan did when we had him the 1st time around. How many times did Chipper and Brian put their collective SPIKES on the necks of the hated New York Mets?

    Where was the great Andruw Jones?

  22. Alex, you really need to lighten up. That kind of anger is not good for you.

  23. No kidding. I’m sorry I helped you get all worked up again. If you pop something, I’ll feel awfully guilty.

  24. While we’re on the subject of payroll, and hoping to move away from the subject of Andruw, does anyone know if the Braves have been prorating Hampton’s salary over the last few years? I had read somewhere that that was initially the plan. I guess there may be no way to know for sure from the outside. Just curious if there is going to be a real increase next year due to Atlanta officially assuming the entire contract.

  25. How many times did Chipper and Brian put their collective SPIKES on the necks of the hated New York Mets?

    Where was the great Andruw Jones?

    IIRC, it was Andruw who had the game-winning RBI in the ’99 NLCS against the Mets. With a walk.

    And last postseason, he was the only brave hitting a lick. Andruw is not our problem. Injuries (part of the game) and an absolutely horrid bullpen have been the problems. I’m in the “fix the bullpen and tread water offensively until the injuries heal” camp.

    The NL is wide open this year. No reason to punt in June.

  26. creynolds – My understanding is the team has been prorating and is treating Hampton’s contract as a fixed amount each year (I believe ~8 million). Of course, AOL may turn around and use the entire contract for figuring payroll over the next few years. I wouldn’t put it past them as a way to save face while cutting payroll or limiting its growth. Terribly cynical I know…

  27. Over the years (what few I have) what has struck me about Andruw is how maddeningly inconsistent he is. He is a superb center fielder, probably the best in the game today, but his offense alternates between fantastic and putrid. Andruw goes to extremes in all areas of his offensive game. When he is on, he is patient, he produces, and he rips the cover off the ball. When he is off, well, he is REALLY off. While I’m not going to go off on a spastic rant the likes of which Alex knows well, I must say I can’t defend the guy. A few instances of clutch hitting in the postseason does not make up for killing rallies 65% of the time (number made up) in the regular season. I’m irked not by the fact that he’s not fulfilling his potential, because that potential is judged by others and is probably wrong, but by the fact that he refuses to change. He does not take coaching and therefore will stay the way he is for all time. It’s not TP’s fault, you cannot teach a person who does not want to be taught. He insists on pulling the ball everywhere and has yet to learn consistent patience. Every time I see him strike out on yet another outside slider in the dirt, I want to scream. I like the guy because he’s been the center fielder for pretty much as long as I can remember the Braves, but his peaks and valleys are very frustrating. He is not the biggest problem with this team, but in the sense that he is eating up huge chunks of our payroll that could be used to get players we desperately need right now, he is a problem.

  28. 9 years of hitting .270, with 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs (give or take)… don’t you think by now YOU would know what to expect from him? Maybe YOU should realize that he isn’t the player everyone projected? I think by now we have to realize the projections were wrong about him… let it go.

    I’m not pro-Andruw by any means, but I’ve learned to adjust my expectations and live with what he provides.

    Regarding any possible Andruw trade, don’t view it as receiving a comparable player in return. View it as getting a servicable player to replace, but also the payrole flexibility to improve the outfield as a whole.

  29. That was my point, Corgy. Look at what Boston did a couple of years ago. They put Manny on waivers and they presumably meant it. He’s an incredibly valuable player, but losing him would have given them increased payroll flexibility… and they have a much fatter budget than Atlanta does.

    At what point does having over 50% of your payroll commited to 4 or 5 players stop making sense? Every contending team has to improve late in the season. And for the exact reasons that Atlanta is having trouble this year: injuries, underperforming players, bullpen implosions. I’m not saying that you can’t improve on the cheap, and I still think that Atlanta will do that to some extent. But it’s not an easy thing to do.

  30. Or they’ll just take the excuse to cut payroll, which is normally what happens.

    I think I covered the general point in my comments on Andruw before the season. From year to year, he’s uncannily consistent. From game to game, week to week, month to month, he varies wildly. I think that part of the problem is that when he gets hot you start to think about what it would be like if he hit like this all the time. Then he starts swinging at sliders in the lefthanded batters box again.

    That and Alex has some sort of personal grudge against him for smiling. I have no problem with smiling.

  31. Is Zito pitching in this serrise? If he is Andrew doesn’t have a chance. Any word on Chipper’s foot yet?


    From Baseball Prospectus…

    Top 5 AL Rookie Position Players, by Value Over Replacement Player (VORP)

    Player, Team, EqA, VORP

    Damon Hollins, TBA, .331, 12.4
    Tadahito Iguchi, CHA, .280, 9.4
    Aaron Hill, TOR, .302, 6.5
    Russ Adams, TOR, .249, 4.3
    Jeremy Reed, SEA, .262, 4.3

    Sure would be nice to have The Mayor manning a corner OF spot these days…

  33. Who are we going to sign with this new-found payroll flexibility? Ever since Berkman inked an extension last offseason, the up-coming free agent class is absolutely putrid. Sammy Sosa is one of the best available; and he isn’t even as good a hitter as Andruw any more, let alone the crappy corner OF defense he now plays. The other guys I notice are Paul Konerko, Ruby Durazo, fan favorite Jacque Jones, Alfonso Soriano (possibly – I think this is his last year of arb eligibility, but I’m not sure), Placido Polanco, Nomar Garciaparra (heh), Carlos Lee, Mark Loretta, and Furcal on the offensive side of the diamond.

    I’m probably overlooking some people, but there are really no marquis players available via free agency. So, having ‘payroll flexibility’ has two benefits: signing our existing players, and acquiring new ones via trade. The only good players we will be able to trade for are those who have signed over-market contracts. Why would we want to trade Andruw so we could get Garret Anderson or Magglio Ordonez? Giles stands out as the guy who’s coming up for extension the soonest, but until he looks like the guy he was in 2003, how much does he deserve?

    So, I pose a question to those who want ‘payroll flexibility’ at the expense of Andruw. Who would we get? And for what?

  34. Well, there is John Thompson’s FA year coming up. It would be nice to be able to re-sign him. Hopefully, he likes it in Atlanta enough and destests the idea of the high-dollar spotlight not to demand the kind of contract pitchers were getting last year, but that still requires some money. It would be nice to at least be able to entertain the idea of trading for someone like Aubrey Huff… assuming that he is serviceable in left field, but I honestly do not know if he is. It would be nice to be able to replace Furcal with someone other than Luis Hernandez, although I have to admit to not being terribly sure who that would be (if not Betemit). Actually, it would be very nice indeed to be able to consider signing Carlos Lee, although he is apparently a real jerk so I wouldn’t imagine Cox agreeing with that. And it would be nice to be able to make strong moves during the season, because they are always needed. This is assuming that you could actually build a good club without Andruw (and that is an assumption, not a certainty). While not all in-season trades require it, some do mean taking on a large contract for a short time… or they mean paying heavily in terms of prospects.

    My comments have not been meant to constitute “calling for” a trade of Andruw Jones (as if it would make one little bit of difference what a joker like me called for). But I am not ashamed to admit that I no longer fear it as I used to. It does depend on it actually leading to an overall improvement in the club, though. And if that can’t happen, as you suggest, well then there would certainly be no point in it. I guess I’m just not as certain as you are that it can’t happen.

  35. I think the Braves have an option on Thomson; the question is if they’re going to use it, though. Considering what comparable pitchers have been making, they’d be crazy not to. At worst, they could trade him.

  36. USA Today says we are in talks with the A’s about Eric Byrnes. Bean will want Johnson and probably a AA player for him.

  37. I’m far from certain we couldn’t be better off by trading Andruw. However, I don’t foresee any possibility of that happening. For this reason, I would like to hear from other people about what scenarios they envision.

    Trading from Aubrey Huff is a good example; however, as I said yesterday, I don’t think he’s a good enough defender to play outfield (especially for the Braves, who value defense pretty highly), and we don’t need another corner infielder.

    Trading for Eric Byrnes would be an abomination.

  38. No advocation for an Andruw trade here, either. I was just pointing out that the guy drives me up the wall (yes, Alex, the smile irks me as well, but I’m sure it’s just reflexive) and I don’t think he plays like $12 million, but he has been a staple of this club for awhile now and I don’t see better options except maybe Carlos Beltran whom we can’t afford.

    Do NOT under any circumstances get Sammy Sosa. The O’s have him right now and he has been awful. He is almost as washed-up as BJ and he would be much worse in the clubhouse with his spoiled diva attitude. And he’d demand way more money than he’s worth/we can afford.

    And if we let Marcus walk and take Soriano…the ex-Yankee hater in me is springing to life. I think Marcus needs more of a chance this year, as do a bunch of other guys. The ENTIRE offense has stunk, there is something else going on here. 2003 was an incredible year for him, and who knows what last year would have been had he not gotten hurt. Bobby and JS both seem to really like him, as do the players and the fans. I don’t know how much we should give him, but based on this year’s performance we could probably lock him up at a bargain price.

    Everybody says JS is a genius but ERIC BYRNES?

  39. Yes, Marcus is having an off year at the plate, but he’s still hit–what?–twenty doubles, which places him second, I think, in the league. Not bad. Don’t worry, he’ll come around.

  40. Okay, if you don’t think Andruw is a $12m player, then how much do you thik he is overpaid. And try to be honest here, don’t be emotional about it – what do you think Andruw would get on the open market if he were a free agent today?

    As you think about this, consider that after a 256/324/363 year for Oakland (and having never even cracked a .500 SLG), Johnny Damon scored $7-8m per year with Boston. Torii Hunter has career numbers well below Andruw’s on offense and comparable defensive reputation and he’s making $8m this year. And maybe AJ’s most comparable peer, Carlos Beltran, inked a deal worth $120m over 7 years (Beltran’s career OPS+ is actually loweer than Andruw’s, because of his having played in favorable hitters prior to this season).

    Fact is, Andruw is being paid some amount pretty close to his market value; and if he’s being overpaid, it’s not by so much as to make a significant difference to the braves in terms of payroll flexibility.

  41. Colin,

    I won’t argue that Andruw could get just the same money he’s getting now on the open market. I think he very easily could. I wonder mostly when it starts to be a bad idea to commit over 50% of your payroll to so few players. And of the highly paid players, I would find Andruw’s going the least objectionable at this point. I think all of those guys are overpaid, though. And I probably wouldn’t call Andruw overpaid or underpaid if he were making something more like 8 or 9 million.

    I won’t argue that Beltran is a comparable peer for Andruw, but I do wonder about it. The most obvious differentiating factor is Beltran’s stealing a fair amount of bases at an amazing rate. He hasn’t done it this year, but I’m assuming that’s not because he lost the ability. But there’s also another reason, and it’s something that I think brings up an interesing question. I think there is value in consistency. I don’t know how to begin to answer this, but how much, if at all, do you devalue Andruw’s overall numbers due to his inconsistency? And, no, I don’t mean “clutchiness”. I just mean consistency. Is a guy who keeps up a 900 OPS fairly constantly over the course of a year more valuable than a guy who some months peeks at 1500 and some months dips to 500, but ends up with the same number? I’d think so. I just don’t know how to factor it in.

  42. I don’t think you can judge the market value of a player to Atlanta by what Boston paid. If the Braves had Boston’s payroll, you could say, well, ok, we are paying $12 mm for a fabulous centerfielder and an end of the order hitter with some pop. The Yankees could do that. The Braves can’t afford that. I cannot believe that people think the Braves shouldn’t be getting better production from Andruw for the money. For God’s sake, Vladimir Guerrero only makes $14 mm.

    I don’t “hate” Andruw personally as I don’t “hate” Kolb personally. I have no problem with how Andruw plays the game. The point is that his aggregate statistics don’t compensate for his sheer inconsistency. I don’t expect him to be Willie Mays (the straw man argument that Mac always makes), but is it unreasonable to expect the second highest player on the team to step up when things are going bad? You don’t even hear his name mentioned; Baseball Tonight used to do stories on when Andruw Jones will break out–I think they have decided this is all there is. The other straw man argument is that Andruw is not the only thing wrong with the team. Obviously not, but he is supposed to be one of the best players on the team, yet consistently utterly disappears for long stretches. I mean, how much are you going to pay for a great centerfielder who is a mediocre hitter? Being hot for a couple of weeks doesn’t compensate for hitting .120 for a month. And don’t give me his HR numbers–those are meaningless today and, in reality, his numbers aren’t likely to be .270, 30, 100; more likely to be .260, 27, 85.

    I’m not saying Andruw isn’t a valuable player at the right price–and maybe for someone like the Yankees, $12 mm would be the right price. But for the Braves, his performance is unacceptable. So are Giles and Furcal’s. I would be ok if Andruw hit .270, 25, 90, if those were consistent. Instead, he gets hot for a couple of weeks and disappears for a month.

    I would trade him and I suspect the Braves would like to trade him, but no one is going to take that contract. I think the Braves could find another centerfielder who could play good (albeit not Andruw) defense and maybe they could get a real hitter out there. I don’t think there’s a chance in hell he could get close to $12 mm today. And do you think the Braves are going to resign him at anything close to that?

    Look, I think Andruw is one of the best centerfielders ever to play the game. I enjoy watching him play centerfield; he made a couple of plays at one of the games I saw in DC that were truly remarkable. But HE IS one of the reasons (not the only one obviously) that the Braves are struggling.

  43. Good point Colin. With Andruw’s career averages, he’s not overpaid.

    Alex, don’t be a fool. No one’s out to get you. No need to dramatize some moment between you, Mac, and the readers. You’re wrong about Andruw anyway. He’s going to level out around his career averages, finishing around .265-30HR-100RBI, and you’ll have made no point.

    I was on the other side of the spectrum when the season started. I bought into the hype and have learned the same lesson you will. Whether you think he’s blossoming into the next Willie Mays or you think he’s missed his chance, his brilliant defense and decent offense are more than enough to complement a hit-for-average type corner outfielder. That’s what the team is missing.

  44. Marc, you tag my arguments straw men, but you put up other straw men arguments in their places.

    1) The Braves “should” get better value from Adnruw for the money they pay him.

    Basically, this argument is best expressed in terms of marginal wins/marginal dollars. According to prospectus, who has the best numbers on these things, Andruw has averaged 8.7 Wins above replacement for the last 5 years. A marginal win is worth between 1.5 to 3 million dollars, depending on the team and the market, but even by the most conservative metric assumption, Andruw has been “worth” $12 mill a year over the last 5 years. I believe that BPro WARP overstates defensive value, so maybe he’s “only” worth 7 wins over replacement in this time period; even in that case, his average performance over the past 5 years has been “worth” $10.5 mill using the most conservative marginal dollar/win number. BPro assigns Chipper 7.2 WARP per year over that same stretch (because of his crappy defense). I think that given the sketchy value of the defensive component of WARP, they should be considered as having produced equivalent amounts of wins for the Braves over the past 5 years. Chipper made significantly more than Andruw did over this period, and will do so for this and next year. Where are the cries for him to be traded?

    2) He’s “cold” for long stretches, and he’s likely to hit 27/85.

    His RBI numbers are a function of his placement in the lineup more than his hitting; Bobby likes him down in the lineup for whatever reason, behind such offensive stalwarts as Brian Jordan. So maybe you’re right about his RBI numbers. But the only time he’s failed to his 30 or more bombs in the past 5 years was last year, when he hit 29. So his power is fine.

    As to his streakiness, last year he bested an .820 OPS in every month but one. The year before, he bested an .830 OPS in every month but one. The year before, he had two months below .800 (July and August), but finished the year with a 1.129 OPS in September. Sure, he’s a streaky player; but his streakiness is also largely a function of selective memories on our part.

    3) We need a “real hitter”

    As I’ve mentioned above, these don’t grow on trees. You want to trade the best/second best hitter (depending on your view of Giles) and best defensive player on the team. Who will we get? Specifically. Not “a slugging 1B” or “a real corner OF,” but “Mike Sweeney” or “Jacque Jones” (to cite players who are available).

    I feel like I need to save this post and just re-post it whenever these threads pop up. And then post it again when Andruw has 6 bombs in a week, and we’re all congratulating him for finally making the leap. He isn’t Willie Mays. But then again, he isn’t Raul Mondesi. He’s pretty darn good. He plays every day. And for now, he’s all we’ve got.

  45. Color my memory selective. I knew my example above was overly dramatic, but I was surprised to see how consistent he’s been month-to-month over the last several years. I mean, sure, I could’ve looked before, but where’s the fun in that ;-)

    I still wonder about valuing consistency, but this obviously isn’t such a good example anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more ups and downs on a weekly basis, but that would be picking some pretty serious nits (and, really, I just said that in an effort to stitch up my ego a little).

  46. I don’t think yahoo has week to week splits, and I wasn’t willing to look further than that. On top of that, I’m not really sure how to measure “streakiness”; any player will have good months and bad months. I suppose the absolute best way would be to use OPS slices (say, .800 to .832, .833 to .865, .866 to .899, etc.), plot the frequency of weekly OPS, and compare the distribution to a normal probability plot. If the tails were too fat, he would be “streakier” than average. That’s a lot of work though :)

  47. It’s certainly more work than I would wish on anyone. I imagine someone will do it, though… probably someone from THT. Are you bored yet, JC? ;-)

  48. As I think about this, player streakiness sounds a lot like “momentum” in the stock market; if that’s the case, it would be easy to test whether above average hitting in one day/series/week has predictive value for the next period. Offhand, I bet that’s not the case. Retrosheet would probably have enough data for someone who wanted to start running regressions and correlations and ANOVAs and skewness tests. Any takers? Anyone?

  49. I wonder mostly when it starts to be a bad idea to commit over 50% of your payroll to so few players. And of the highly paid players, I would find Andruw’s going the least objectionable at this point.

    See, I disagree. Andruw is very valuable to this team from year to year because, well, he’s our only damned outfielder. If we were to unload Andruw, exactly what is our outfield for next year? Unknown, unknown, and unknown. So while one might point out that Damon or Beltran were worth more than market to their respective teams, I would argue that Andruw is worth mroe than market to ours. He anchors the outfield defensively, and allows us to give up a little on defense in another corner.

    I think all of those guys are overpaid, though. And I probably wouldn’t call Andruw overpaid or underpaid if he were making something more like 8 or 9 million.

    So $9m is only $3-4m less than he gets overall. And that assumes you sign someone equal or better for that $9m from the free agent market, where players are generally overpriced relative to talent level.

    I won’t argue that Beltran is a comparable peer for Andruw, but I do wonder about it. The most obvious differentiating factor is Beltran’s stealing a fair amount of bases at an amazing rate. He hasn’t done it this year, but I’m assuming that’s not because he lost the ability. But there’s also another reason, and it’s something that I think brings up an interesing question. I think there is value in consistency. I don’t know how to begin to answer this, but how much, if at all, do you devalue Andruw’s overall numbers due to his inconsistency?

    It depends on how you define consistency. On a season to season level Andruw is one of the most consistent players in baseball. Out of the last 7 years he’s put up a mid-800s OPS in five seasons, gone over 900 once and come in under 800 once.

    Now, within the season Andruw can be infuriating. We’re down on him now because he’s in a dry spell. Before that he was largely carrying the offense for most of May.

    I’ll say this – no player infuriates me more than Andruw – when he goes on a 1-2 month tear of patience and discipline at the plate he can show why people thought he’d be the next great thing. And then when he starts to enjoy that too much and starts hacking and not being patient it makes me want to tear my hair out.

    But as of this time, this team needs him, because we have nobody else. We have nobody of any great worth we can afford to trade for a replacement CF. If Langerhans turns it around then he’d be serviceable, but then whom do we get with the Andruw money we save? Even if we have payroll flexibility, that doesn’t mean there will be good players to actually spend the money on.

  50. I agree with pretty much everything Colin says. In fact, I think I said a lot of the same things a few posts ago, so that should come as no surprise :)

    In general, I think it’s easy for any forum, be it talk radio, an internet message board, Tommy’s Barber Shop in Atlanta, etc. to be oversensitive to very recent performance. Andruw sucks because he’s in a tailspin, Kelly Johnson sucks, Davies is the best thing since sliced bread, etc. The job of our executives is to ignore the ultra-short-term view and be as objective as possible. Just as emotion drives people to make horrible decisions in the stock market, so too can it cause bad decisions in other markets: what if we’d traded our top prospect for the equivalent of Victor Zambrano, like the Mets did last year? How would we feel about that now?

    I guess my point is that we should all strive to be as objective as possible when we talk about the decisions we think the Braves should make. I’m certainly guilty of jumping to hasty conclusions; I try to remember those instances so I don’t make the same mistake twice.

  51. Ideally, guys like Kelly Johson, Ryan Langerhans, Wilson Betmit and Andy Marte will prove out as we go along and shedding Furcal and Perez (his deal is about up, right?) will take care of some payroll issues. Obviously the best way to deal with having a large chunk of payroll committed to very few players is to have inexpensive ones successfully fill out the roster. And I am very excited about seeing them try.

  52. oversensitive to very recent performance.

    Exactly. 14 games ago Andruw had an OPS over 900, and three weeks ago he peaked out at 965. He’s neither as good as he was then nor as bad as he is now. He has shown consistently that overall he is right in between. That’s what you get with AJ.

    Now, all that said, Andruw has always done more poorly in clutch situations. Career numbers:
    Bases empty: 861 OPS
    Runners on: 804
    RISP: 793
    RISP/2 out: 723
    Bases loaded: 683

    Excepting the last, these are all pretty large samples, close to 800 PA for RISP/2 out. And even Bases loaded isn’t that small, over 130 PA. Throw in that in the postseason he has a career 755 OPS in over 250 PA, and clearly this is a guy whose game is not the same when runs are on the line. He’d be better off in a batting slot where he’s setting the table a little more than clearing it, but his very small leadoff experiment was a disaster (and his best career numbers came batting cleanup, 982 OPS, so there ya go).

    He’s a riddle, wrapped up in an enigma, and served with a side of fries.

    I tell you this, though – if his natural facial expression wasn’t what it is, fewer people would dislike him so. People get pissed off that he doesn’t look pissed off enough.

  53. “I tell you this, though – if his natural facial expression wasn’t what it is, fewer people would dislike him so. People get pissed off that he doesn’t look pissed off enough.”

    I think you hit the nail right on the head, Colin.

  54. As has been stated above, the biggest problem with trading Andruw is replacing him. Not only the 30 HR, but the defense in center. Right now, the only option we’d have is Langerhans. And then we’d need someone to play RF.

    It would have been nice if we could have signed Beltran this year. But, he’s likely to look even more overpaid than Andruw in another few years – that contract is going to be bad by the time it’s over.

    We all expected Andruw to be Mickey Mantle. He’s Dale Murphy instead. That’s still damn good.

  55. Mac,

    I can’t argue with your numbers, so I concede your points in terms of Andruw’s consistency.

    However, the straw man I was pointing out was the argument that we all expect Andruw to be Willie Mays. That’s not true–but we do expect him to produce more.

    As far as hitting lower in the order, I think that’s a function of what Bobby Cox sees as his inconsistency. I think the reliance on sabermetrics makes people think that Bobby is some kind of yokel who doesn’t know what he’s doing. I think he knows exactly what he is doing. I don’t think he bats Andruw low because he wants to but because he cannot afford the kind of streakiness that Andruw exhibits. And I know you argue that his OPS is consistent from month to month. I don’t have the numbers to argue statistically, but I suspect you would find significant divergences from week to week, so that his OPS might be 900 one week and 600 the next. That’s what Bobby sees.

    Clearly, the numbers show Andruw is a better hitter than I think he is. And I agree that he is a good player. My point, and the only point really that I have ever made, is that he is not a GREAT player but is paid (in today’s market) as GREAT player. Would the Braves be worse of better off if they had, say, Mike Cameron, in centerfield and JD Drew in right field?

    I don’t expect Andruw to be Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays. But I don’t think he is Dale Murphy regardless of what the numbers say; even if Andruw’s numbers are comparable, Murphy played in a much less offensive-oriented era.

  56. Mike Cameron makes $7.3 million dollars this year. JD Drew makes $9.4 million dollars. Andruw makes $13 million, and Langerhans $316K. So, yes, I’d rather have Cameron and Drew, but you need to come up with another 3.5 million dollars – which is about 25% more than what we’re currently paying for our CF/RF combination.

    I’d also rather have Pujols than Julio/Adam. And A-Rod instead of Furcal. And there’s some starting pitchers better than ours. How about Javy Lopez to catch, and a healthy Bonds in LF?

    The fact is, the top 25 salaries this year is a who’s who of the overpaid. Sosa, Bagwell, Chipper, Kevin Brown, Giambi, Griffey…

  57. Speaking of looking at game logs, I looked at Remlinger’s, and he’s pitched pretty well the last month. Since he’s on pace for all of 48 IP this year, I don’t think he’s being overused. I thought it was strange that the AJC ran a large picture of him the other day as being emblematic of the bullpen collapse. He’s just an okay pitcher having an okay year.

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