Atlanta 10, Cincinnati 5

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Reds

Hey, a win streak! Okay, it’s only two games, and it’s only against the Reds, but it’s a start. Kelly Johnson was the hero (though the AP calls him “Kenny”) hitting a pair of homers: a titanic two-run blast in the first to give the Braves the early lead, and a grand slam in the sixth to break it open. He also walked twice. Andruw hit a pair of solo homers, moving him into a tie for the league lead. Betemit hit a solo homer as well on his way to a 3-5 day.

Every Brave starter had at least one hit except Langerhans, but he walked twice including once with the bases loaded. For him, I think that’s a good sign, because that’s been part of his game that’s been lacking. Furcal was 3-6 with a triple leading off the game and scored twice.

Horacio didn’t look too sharp, allowing a pair of two-run homers and five runs in all in six innings. Eight hits, five walks, only one strikeout; it could easily have been worse. Brower and Boyer pitched an inning each, both allowing a walk and a hit but no runs. Reitsma pitched the ninth, allowing a hit.

Which park most deserves the label “Coors Light”, this one, Arlington, or Arizona? Tomorrow, Jorge Sosa starts on three days’ rest against Eric Milton; the Braves have decided not to make a roster move for now, maybe hoping that Hampton or Hudson will be ready late next week. For Sosa, I’m not that concerned, because he was a reliever and used to bouncing back quickly, and didn’t throw too many pitches last time. Kyle Davies on Sunday, that might be more problematical. Night game, Turner South.

42 thoughts on “Atlanta 10, Cincinnati 5”

  1. Despite the injuries to our staff, I am getting more & more excited about our young hitters. Maybe it’s just because we are playing the crappy Reds, but I really can’t be;lieve how this young lineup is all starting to gel.

  2. That’s what happens with young players sometimes, Alex. Patience, remember?

    Johnson, BTW, now has a .347 OBP by my calculations. That would place him fourth on the club behind Chipper, Betemit, and Marcus.

  3. I want to keep everything in perspective considering these past two games have been against Cincinnati, but I am not at all concerned with our chances of winning the division. Some people have thrown in the towel, but we’re without 3/5 of the starting rotation, we’re just now getting a servicable closer after watching The Dank Lob Implosion, we’ve lost Chipper for an extended period, had Furcal forget how to hit, and we’re sporting a lineup with 7 rookies. Honestly, short of Smoltz coming down with TB and other similar events like that one episode on The Simpsons, it can’t get much worse. We’ve hung in there, and it’s only gonna get better.

  4. Rob, add to your list that we’ve survived a couple of months with Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi or should I more accurately say the shells of those once proud ball players as our corner outfielders.
    I don’t know about how good our chances are for winning a postseason berth but the Braves circa 2007 are here and they look fun. Tonight 7 of the 8 position players were homegrown. That is cool.
    I am excited for the kids but I am also mindful that this success is coming against the Reds. I am going to enjoy it.

  5. Johnson, BTW, now has a .347 OBP by my calculations. That would place him fourth on the club behind Chipper, Betemit, and Marcus.

    That’s hilarous. Johnson gets some hits off Astacio and Ortiz, two of the absolute worst pitchers in the league, and suddenly it’s all good.

    I guess small sample size caveats only apply when the other guy is making a point.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for him. Maybe he’s the solution to the long time problem that the team has had in making lousy starters look good.

  6. CNN/SI Recap

    “Johnson, who was recalled from the minor leagues on May 29 and is seeing time because the Braves have been devastated by injuries…”

    I think they’re missing something, unless KJ’s been pitching when I wasn’t looking. The Braves’ outfield problems are all the result of Jordan and Mondesi.

  7. Well, many people think it was “all good” even when he wasn’t hitting. He’s looked very good at the plate and has shown great discipline. As to discounting performance against weak pitching — that’s where players put up good numbers. You don’t hit two bombs and drive in 6 against Pedro. No one does. But he hasn’t looked overmatched against anyone.

  8. Johnson, BTW, now has a .347 OBP by my calculations. That would place him fourth on the club behind Chipper, Betemit, and Marcus.

    Mac, Kelly has a .304 OBP, which is still great considering his batting average. .347 would be a little high, since it’s not like he’s been walking at Bondsian levels.

    Oh, and for the past 7 days he’s hitting .350/.480/.850. If he gets to beat up on Reds’ pitching for two more games, he might get serious ‘Player of the week’ consideration.

  9. I haven’t given up on the Braves for this season. Look at the Marlins, who have most of their team intact. They can’t do anything right now. The Natspos are pretenders. The Phillies are playing good ball right now, so they are the ones to look out for. They updgraded, albeit not great, their middle relief, but with Wolf going down, that could spell trouble for them. To only be 4 games out with what they have been through makes me look back to last year when they were in the same position. Let’s hope the results are much the same.

  10. It’s still a relatively small sample. And, yes, the pitching that he’s been hitting against has been far from the best in the league. The question, really, is whether or not you choose to completely ignore his performance in the minor leagues. If you don’t, then his recent performance is encouraging and his initial struggles don’t get you down so much. If you do ignore it, then, yeah this is all just pathetic over-excitement. Since players don’t show up in the majors out of the corn fields, and what they do before the get there is usually projectable, then I see reason to be excited.

  11. Crenolds makes good sense to me. I enjoy reading the “happy talk”, but I don’t want it to turn to sour grapes when these youngsters do hit a stretch of average-above average pitching. Attitude or mental chemistry is sooooooo important I would like to be a fly on the wall in the locker room to find out who and what kind of tone is being set. You know if Chipper isn’t there it may be quite different…more unpredictable??

  12. Say what you will about Andruw’s streaky hitting, but he’s really stepped it up since Chipper’s been out of the line-up. And Estrada’s average has been climbing as well. Furcal seems to be playing better since he sat out a couple of games. He knows he’s expendable.

  13. Based on the way Kelly’s been hitting the ball his predicted AVE/OBP/SLG/OPS = .289/.401/.521/.922 according to my PrOPS metric. Looks like he’s been a bit unlucky, just as Bobby suggested.

  14. Even against good pitchers KJ has shown discipline at the plate. He does not chase bad pitches. To me he is already a better hitter than Andruw. That’s not hard to do of course. What I mean is, I don’t think there is a big hole in his swing. Why any pitcher ever throws Andruw a pitch near the plate is beyond me. Slider away and in the dirt is AJ weekness. We have yet to see Kelly’s.

    Betemit has possesed the skills for a long time. What he has done differently is his plate patience. Taking walks and waiting for something to hit.

    I’m not worried about these two at all. Betemit has given JS some options when Chipper comes back. We’ll see what happens.

    Horacio needs to throw first pitch strikes. If he can do that he will be fine.

  15. Well if we’re going to start bashig Andruw (the NL home run leader) I should post his PrOPS as well.

    Predicted AVE/OBP/SLG/OPS = .291/.356/.578/.934

    and that’s for 277 plate appearences.

  16. While Andruw is not likely to lead the league in either OBP or Avg, he is currently tied for the lead in home runs.

    With respect to Kelly Johnson, it is simply too early to argue about what his numbers mean. Last week he was hitting .039 or something too low to remember and now he has a very respectable OBP. I believe with young players you need at least 200 at bats, but I certainly agree with those who think that he looks good at the plate. I think that he has real potential and I certainly hope that the Braves continue to invest in him.

    I am also with those who still have great hope for the season. The fact that the Braves are only 4 out after facing significant adversity (which contiues) leads me to believe that they are in the process of weathering the storm. If they can hold their own until Chipper and the starters return, then I like our chances.

  17. If you don’t stop taking the fun out of bashing Andruw, then I’m going to get very angry ;)

  18. Even when some folks were pining for crap like Bobby Keilty and Preston Colorado Koolaid Wilson and wanting to send KJ down I kept wondering when some of the balls he was hitting would start dropping. Are he and Langerhans the second coming of Fred Lynn and Jim Rice? Nope. But if Bobby continues to give them steady at bats I see at least league average performance if not better. BP projected both to have a good chance of attaining that stature based on their minor league performance. And lets face it both guys look good out on the field and at bat.

    If I am Adam LaRoche I’m hearing Andy Marte’s footsteps now. Betemit should probably be playing every day and it looks like Bobby is going to try to get Furcal going.

  19. I am not meaning to bash Andruw. But if you were a pitcher how would you pitch to him?

  20. I think that when he’s going well, he’s laying off of those pitches. If he’s not swinging at the breaking ball low and way outside or the fastball up around his eyes, you can’t really throw them to him. The frustrating part is how great he’d be if he’d would lay off of them all the time. Oh well… he’s Andruw.

  21. I agree with you about LaRoche, Johnny. I think he’s safe this year, but he’s likely to be gone in the offseason. I don’t see Marte being traded, of course. And I don’t see either of them going to the outfield.

  22. For another take, wasn’t it nice to see Johnson and Langerhans make nice catches against the wall on consecutive nights? I can’t recall as nice a catch made by either Jordan or Mondesi the entire year. Say what you will about their hitting, it’s evident to me that they are both far superior fielders at this point in their careers than the two-headed Jordesi monster.

  23. Good take on the defensive plays Kyle. They are having fun and trying to one up each other.

    As for Laroche, I don’t think he is going anywhere. He’s cheap and I think his average will come up. His RBI’s are already on the rise.

    Furcal still seems the likely choice to get dealt. There are more shortstops on the farm.

    Maybe a platoon with lefties pitching. Chipper moves to first Marte to third. I don’t know.

  24. In my opinion, Chipper’s move to first would be as problematic as if he moved back to left. For example, how is his hamstring going to hold up while shortening a throw to first? And the footwork at first is more demanding than it is at third. I’m not saying Chipper couldn’t make the adjustment, but I do think that it’s less than a foregone conclusion that he would succeed at that position.

  25. Skip used the comment on last night’s radio broadcast that “the Braves have a logjam in the infield in that they have too many good players.” I hate that this might turn into fantasy baseball (at least the way I play it) where you take a gamble night after night as to whom you will play. My luck usually is the guy who sits out in your fantasy lineup will be the one who hits 2 homeruns or drives in 4 or 5. I hope that Bobby can do the guesswork the right way and play the people who are going to be hot every night :).

  26. That’s a good point, and it’s something that you have to wonder about. I’d have to think that he’s perfectly capable of being a decent first baseman, but you do have to worry about all the stretching at footwork considering that that does seem to be where his physical problems are… and that there’s no real good reason to think they’re going away.

  27. Re: a few of the comments about beating up weak pitchers.
    Yes, they have been hitting well against crappy pitchers. I’m more concerned, though, when they don’t hit against crappy pitchers. Snellville Jones made the comment that nobody beats top pitchers around silly. Sure, they’ll have bad starts (Smoltz on opening day, anyone?), but it is much more important to take care of business against the weak teams. If we do that, then we should at least be in a position to have a shot (again) at the division title if we hang tough against the better teams (even if we don’t sweep or win all of those series). It’s very important to beat the teams you’re ‘supposed’ to beat – if you do that, you’re 75% (to pick a number out of thin air) of the way to being in good position to be in the title hunt down to the end.

  28. Actually creynolds, I’m not so sure about this year for LaRoche. If Marte takes advantage of his opportunity (and I think he will once some of those balls in play start falling) or Betemit contiues to hit then Chipper might be doing the DeRosa to LaRoche. Adam is a good hitter but Chipper is a great one and a hitting 3b is a more valuable commodity than a 1b. Of course all of this assumes that Chipper comes back healthy enough to be the guy we know can carry a team. I think that Chip makes a good 1b since it is the easiest position to play on the field.
    I have to also respectively disagree with your assesment of Andruw. He never lays off of the high fastball or the low breaking ball. He is going good when he hits a couple of them out and then opposing pitchers start putting the ball back into the zone out of frustration.
    Its clear to me that Langerhans and Johnson deserve to get a chance to fail. Throw Betemit in their too. Of course Bobby has been developing players for a decade and a half so I defer to his wisdom.
    If we can stay close until Hudson, Hampton and even Thomson come back then we have a chance with our lineup. Shoot I feel better about this lineup than at the start of the season.

  29. I figure the thing about LaRoche is that, even if Larry comes back healthy, by the time that’s all certain it will probably be beyond 7/31 (I would expect a rather conservative organization like this to want to see him play at least a few weeks). If that’s the case, then there may not be any useful available players who’ve cleared waivers. Since you’d have to assume that Atlanta would be seeking inexpensive pitching if they had the luxury of making LaRoche available, that seems very unlikely. Even if there were someone available, I don’t know that LaRoche could be made available. I guess he could be optioned out and then traded, but I don’t know if he has options left or if the waiver rule applies to everyone on the 40-man or just those on the 25-man roster. The offseason might also free up the market some so that it includes teams that are currently in contention and therefore unlikely to give up any major league talent right now. It’s just specualtion on my part, but those are the reasons behind it. Plus, I don’t think anybody would be too concerned about sending Marte back to Richmond if it really came down to it. But he sure could be goign so well that he squeezes someone out. And that someone would most likely be LaRoche.

  30. What if we started floating a HRamirez/LaRoche package around?

    What do you think we could get?

  31. Trade Furcal, trade Furcal, trade Furcal. Sheesh you’d think by now that… oh wait… I agree with you completely (I regret ever disagreeing, in fact). But I do still think that about the only chance they have with him is to dump his salary and maybe get a lower level prospect, an upper level suspect and/or a defensive backup. But even then, the options look slim. Unless other teams run into injury issue, it’s really probably just Minnesota, and their financial constraints make that difficult. Even though he’s stinking it up, he still looks to have about a $40M tag on his upcoming contract. So I don’t think he’s very attractive for anybody to try to trade and sign. Getting his money off the books alone, though, could probably open up some trade options elsewhere for a start and/or reliever.

  32. Malone,
    We’d get nothing of value. In fact I think that trading them away would make the team weaker. LaRoche is showing significant weaknesses in his game but he can at least be league average. Furcal has a good track record and lets face it Wilson Betemit might just suddenly remember that he is Wilson Betemit. He is thriving in the spot starter reserve role just like Mark DeRosa did but do we really want to test him as our everyday SS? Especially since I think that we can still contend if things fall our way. As for Ramirez we need a 5th starter.

  33. Ramirez probably has value, but we obviously can’t trade him when we’re down to our sixth and seventh starters pitching on three days’ rest. If Thomson, Hudson, and Hampton all came back, then we’d talk.

    I think that the Yankees would have interest in LaRoche, but there again we can’t trade him now unless you want to go with a combo of Franco and Scott Thormann at first base.

    You know I want to trade Furcal, the question there is what his value is right now. Other than the Twins, who’d want him? The Dodgers, maybe, to play third base. The Cardinals?

  34. Wow, i’m loving this park. Milton is on pace to give up allow about 70 bombs. Good thing the Reds are paying him 25 million over 3 years.

  35. How about Furcal-HRamirez-LaRoche-Francouer for Dunn and a top pitching prospect? Move Chipper to first. If he doesn’t like it, screw him. It’s the Braves first, Chipper second. He’ll look bad in the public eye if he pouts too much. I don’t want this to become the Atlanta Chippers (like the Baltimore Ripkens of the late 80s-early 90s).

    Betemit can’t be any worse than Furcal as our everyday SS, even if he pulls a DeRosa. The starting lineup thusly:

    ss Betemit
    2b Giles
    1b Chipper
    cf AJones
    lf Dunn
    3b Marte
    rf Langerhans/KJohnson
    c Estrada

  36. I wish we could trade for Dunn, but I don’t think the Reds would do it, and as much as I don’t like Horacio’s future, we _do_ need 5 starters right now :(

  37. I’m with you, Kyle. I’d say give just about anything it would take for Dunn. But the Reds probably wouldn’t do it. And it would probably mean getting rid of Andruw for the budget next year. Still an upgrade in my mind (nothing against Andruw), but not as big as it might seem.

    Do we need a 5th starter bad enough for it to be Haracio? Yeah, I guess we do. sigh.

  38. If he doesn’t like it, screw him

    Thankfully Bobby is the manager and not you. That kind of attitude won’t get players to play their all for you. There’s a reason the players love and play better for Bobby.

    Still an upgrade in my mind (nothing against Andruw), but not as big as it might seem.

    When you consider the number of runs andruw saves in the outfield, I don’t see Dunn being an upgrade at all.

  39. You may have something there, although Dunn obviously wouldn’t replace him in center. Langerhans is very good in the outfield… not an equal, though. And his bat is TBD. Andruw obviously has a lot of value on defense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *