The Savior

Okay, we can all agree that what we’re doing isn’t working.  Now, the offense has been pretty good, even during the losing streak — not great, but not that bad.  The real problem has been pitching and defense.  And I am more and more convinced that the biggest problem is defense, that the Braves have a staff full of ground ball pitchers who don’t get lots of strikeouts, and that the infield defense is so lousy that a lot of ground ball outs are turning into singles.  The only starting infielder whose range can even be described as “average” is Marcus, and he’s overaggressive and makes too many mental errors.  To me, the solution is obvious.

Your new starting shortstop: Tony Pena Jr.

It’s possible that the Braves have finally driven me insane, but it’s time to return to the team’s roots.  In 1991, the Braves gave 353 AB (a career high) to Rafael Belliard.  Belliard was awful offensively, but that team was still able to score runs; they needed a solid defensive glove at shortstop.  Pena isn’t a much better hitter than Belliard — it’s not clear, in fact, that he’s not worse — but he’s a first-class glove on a team that desperately needs one.
It’s time to return to the 1991 model.  Edgar Renteria, who currently has the same range as Jeff Blauser — and Blauser is 40 years old and managing in Mississippi — should move to left field.  The Braves should install Pena at shortstop.  If they’re down late, or if they have a fly ball or strikeout pitcher going, they can go with Betemit in his place.

93 thoughts on “The Savior”

  1. I like this theory, but the question is: can Renteria play left field? He has never played the outfield before.

  2. Whatever the case may be, Bobby needs to do something proactive to change the pace of things. One of the few things you can fault him for is being somewhat stubborn in his managing style in the past. Whether it’s reluctance to take his starter out when necessary or sticking around with a hitter for too long, hoping he will find his stride, he’s pretty hard-headed.

    Personally, I’m convinced that once a team meeting is called and some changes are made, the Braves will finally turn it around. Either that, or a miracle comeback win. You might remember in 2004 when the Braves were doing almost as bad. They had a great comeback win against Baltimore and then took two out of three from the Fish, who were leading the East at the time. That turned the season around. Here’s hoping something like that will happen soon.

  3. Yeah we REALLY need a spark and McCann. I think we need to win our next two and then go on a run. I honestly think we are getting better, but we are still pressing. We need a blow out or an off day, one of the two

  4. I am close to calling this season a loss.

    In past years, you’ve seen a light at the end of the tunnel but not now.

    If it’s not the defense, it’s the bullpen. If it’s not the bullpen, it’s the inconsistent starting pitching (even from a normally reliable Thomson or Smoltz.

    If it’s not the starters, it’s the offense and the ridiculous amount of double plays and strikeouts.

    here’s the bottom line with this team.

    There are too many problems. It’s overwhelming the team and it’s swallowing up the season.

    I know in past years we’ve been “down” or had some areas on the team that were weaker…but there’s too many things to fix. It’s like pluggin holes in the Titanic with chewing gum and Elmer’s Glue. That’s not going to cut it.

    1. The Bullpen

    They have basically 2 relievers who are mostly reliable…McBride and Ray. Neither is a closer. If they got a stud closer or a stud arm and made Ray & McBride the set up men, then maybe we could see some “light” in the pen with 3 good relievers at the back end. Villareal, remlinger, Reitsma, Paroto and especially Tyler Yates…it’s the “Bad News Bears”.

    2. The Defense

    Mac, you are 100% right. Rentaria can no longer blame the American League or playing in Fenway. The loss of Furcal is now hurting us in a much bigger way. Furthermore, LaRoche (sorry, ububba) has never been good defensively, Mac is right–I only woke up this year because I assume someone with a mediocre bat had to be a great defensive player. he’s just mediocre everywhere.

    Plus, Chipper’s defense has degraded. He used to eb avg. and I always gave him more credit then MLB analysts did. Not now. Giles is the best of the 4 regulars but that’s not saying much at all.

    The outfield is the one great part of the defense but with ground ball pitchers, that’s not much solace. (though, seriously, outfielders…hit the f-ng cut off man!)

    The only solution at this point is Mac’s, unless there’s a trade. Honestly, if we fall out of the race too far, Rentaria may end up getting traded which is fine at this pt. Seriously, Tony Pena Jr. can’t hit but the kid has a sick good glove.

    3. The Offense.

    Even the “supposed” good hitters like the Jones boys and Giles are inconsistent.

    I believe though that the constant failure of the bullpen and failure of the Braves to make changes when needed has helped lead to this.

    first, giles (we all agree) is not a lead off man. Enough.

    Second, the one guy on the entire team who’s been consistent all year, McCann should give us a lift. The biggest lift in fact is that he hopefully removes LaRoche from the 5 hole where most nights, he’s killing rallies.

    As for LaRoche, he’s not alone on the strikout/double play train. Francouer maybe the worst offender, Langerhans has shown he’s probably best suited as a 4th outfielder and defensive replacement, and even the Jones boys are striking out too often and with too many DP’s. it’s killing the team.

    We could at least try and make some improvements if JS ever felt lik getting of his ass or Cox chose some changes.

    First, Craig Wilson has no role in Pittsburgh…we should seriously consider that Gonzalez/C. Wilson package which helps 2 areas of need. You can call me “Mr. Negative” but replacing LaRoche has (at some point) got to become a priority. When is enough, enough?

    Second, give Matt Diaz (and maybe even Mac’s suggestion) and Rentaria the corner outfield slots…it improves the offense even if it weakens the corners defensively. Or at least put Diaz out there every day (just to see) and platoon Langerhans and Frenchy.

    Third, work Betemit into an everyday job. And yes, even if it means replacing Chipper (which also upgrades the defense) something drastic has to happen. Obviously, if there’s no trade with the Pirates, i will say for the umpteenth time that Betemit should be tried at 1st base where we have a major hole offensively and defensively.

    Betemit has earned the right to fail…but give him the everyday chance first. We need the offense and I don’t think he’s any WORSE defensively then Chipper, Edgar or certainly Adam.

    Finally, I have no idea when they are ready to put McCann in the lineup, but at some point, Todd Pratt has to stop being used. He’s an automatic out. The pitchers hit more. Brayan Pena isn’t great but he can hit, some.

    4. The starting pitching

    Hudson and Horam are the only 2 starters, right now I trust. Even Smoltz has been OK, but not nearly Smoltz enough. Maybe his age has caught up with him and he’s still one of my favorite players. I am not saying to take him out, of course, I am simply commenting that he’s given up way too many dingers (fu man chu or no fu man chu) to mediocre Marlon Anderson types.

    Sosa has also been inconsistent but we expect that with him. he’s been better his last few starts so he’s OK for now.

    But at some point, the Braves have to do something about John Thomson. None of us can recall his last Quality start (after starting the year as our best starter) and he’s throwing junk out there.

    he needs to be replaced. This does not require dealing for Barry Zito. All I am asking is the cost effective move of giving a now healthy Chuck James a chance to throw 3-4 starts just to see how he does? What have we got to lose at this point?

    Anyway, as negative as this may seem, all I am trying to do is be pro active and offer solutions. You can agree or disagree on some or all of my points, but clearly, this team is on the verge of throwing the entire season away. I am trying to be more positive by saying, “let’s make some changes and see if this changes our fortunes a little?”

    So, do with this post what you must, but I really want to help my favorite team and stop watching this utter insanity.

  5. Chuck James went 6 2/3 scoreless in Richmond last night. Methinks Sosa may not be long for the rotation. The bullpen could use his help.

  6. Kyle-

    I am sorry…but John Thomson is a far worse pitcher then Jorge Sosa right now. First things first IMHO, is to take Thomson out ahead of Sosa. Again, just my 2 cents.

  7. Mac, I am not laughing at your idea at all. In fact, I did thought about preferring Pena at shortstop instead of Renteria because of defensive reasons. I have pointed out numerous of times about how sicked I am with Edgar’s arm strength, how similar Edgar is with Blauser, and how much I miss Furcal’s defense. However, I never mentioned the idea because there is no way I see Bobby the old man will move Renteria away from shortstop. Since it is a solution which will not happen, I didn’t say it.

    Unless the Braves include Edgar in a trading package, I can’t see your idea happening Mac. However, I am definitely with you regarding starting Pena.

  8. I don’t want to put anymore bad starters in the pen. If they can’t start, trade thier asses or send them to AAA.

    What this team really needs is Chipper to go off like a bomb. We need that MVP season to bust out. IF he starts hitting and playing third like he doesn’t care if he gets hurt, it might all come together.

    Why do our left fielders play so deep in Houston. IF they play shallow they can get to those bloopers. If they get burnt, it is only a 200 wall it isn’t like the runner will coast to second.

    Todd Pratt cost us that game last night. All he had to do is put the ball in play to score a run. I know Pettitee is good, but shit, **Make Contact**

  9. Alex, I think Kyle’s idea is that Sosa would be a better reliever than Thomson, that’s all. Actually, a trade package of Thomson and Renteria should be pretty attractive to be honest.

  10. Someone needs to remind Thomson that this is a contract year for him. Maybe that would set him straight.

    Has anyone heard the Sosa/Giles for Nathan/Stewart rumor?

    Alex R: I totally agree that Langerhans is a fourth outfielder. At this point, I’d much rather see Diaz out there. But that only happens when Jordan is in the lineup. ugh.

  11. Matt, the Twins will trade away the entire pitching staff before they trade away Santana, Liriano, and Nathan. I have mentioned the name of Juan Rincón for two years though.

  12. How about Tony Pena Jr. at short and move Edgar to first? I think he has some experience there as opposed to the outfield where I don’t think he’s played.

  13. Chipper to first and Edgar to third is also an option. The throw from third is an easier one then from short. Wilson then goes to short..Giles stays at second..and LaRoche takes his deservant place on the bench.

  14. I think Hap’s idea is better; better to move only one player than two, and unlike Chipper Edgar has had (a little) game action at first. Plus he’s increasingly reminding me of Julio Franco.

    But I really don’t think first base is a problem area. LaRoche has been pretty much average, and if you take him out of the lineup the Braves would have very little lefthanded power. The outfield corners have been far more of a concern. And I’d rather have a really bad leftfielder than a really bad first baseman.

  15. If he’s to weak to even play third..then he has no business staying at short. Either Edgar go to first..or get traded then.

    I’ve been thinking about Soriano. Maybe some package to get him. He could solve our lead-off problems aswell then.

  16. LaRoche, Reitsma, and Thomson

    I look to see one or all of these guys traded soon. All have been good but are replaceable from within.

    LaRoche – Chipper/Betemit
    Reitsma – well, not replaced, but it’s not working out in ATL
    Thomson – Chuck James

    All of these guys ought to have some value to other teams and have not long term future in ATL.

  17. There was a piece by Tom Boswell in the Washington Post the other day, and in that column he raises the question of when a team decides it can still contend or whether it should focus on rebuilding. If it’s a rebuilding year, Boswell suggests, then older players should make way for younger players who comprise the team’s future. Changes should be made, though perhaps not as drastically as they have been made in Florida in recent years.

    This link will take you to the sports page. Registration required.

    So, is this a contending year for the Braves, or is it a rebuilding year?

    This idea will be anathema to many on the board, but is it unreasonable to think that the Braves should consider trading a franchise player like Chipper Jones to obtain the players they need to make the team a strong contender?

  18. The Braves better give Betemit a starting job somewhere before they start Pena at short. Otherwise, I am sure Betemit will get completely mad.

  19. Remy, Chipper can not be traded by the Braves without his consent before he is a 10/5 player.

  20. You know, last night’s game brought back bad memories and I realized I’m not completely over last October yet. Just seeing Berkman and Lane made me shudder. So, I’m wondering if maybe the Braves aren’t over it either. I mean, we’ve lost the division series in five games for a long time, but last year’s was even more gut-wrenching than usual (I know it only lasted 4 games, but inning-wise they played 5 and lost the fifth). The core of the team is still around and maybe last year still has them down.

    I know I’m grasping for straws, but hopefully they will win the next three at Minute Maid (since that’s where this all started) and get on a roll. We can get McCann back soon to help even out our offense and make one major move would help shake things up (what, I don’t know. I like the idea of Pena at short. Bullpen help would be nice too). Then everything will start clicking, and when that happens, a run for the title wouldn’t be out of the question.

  21. wow mac! tp, jr? you have dogged him for so long. i dont understand you. i’m with remy though. where does that leave betemit? if you move betemit to 3rd and chipper to 1st you are still only moving one person, increasing the range of your left side, and probably creating a better right side. also, you would have the luxury of having 2 switch hitters. bringing up tp, moving renty to lf, creative, but i dont think effective. make a move that would not sacrifice our offense while creating a more stable defense. i think you might be straying from the “chipper to 1st” speech because you know it’s not going to happen, but it still is the best and far more obvious solution.
    do you guys think chipper is too stubborn to move to first, or do you think the organization would not ask him to do so because of the sacrifices he has made to stay a brave? whatever the reason, for once the braves need to stop worrying about making everyone happy, start cutting ties with a couple of people, and get the ball rolling.

  22. where does chipper rank in 3rd basemans for the NL? for the longest time, we could say we have the best (or 2nd best) 3rd baseman in the league. now, i dont even know if he breaks top 5. we know his defense has been atrocious but he now ranks 7th in total offense behind wright, cabrera, atkins, rolen, ensberg, and bill hall. wow! what a shame.

  23. Chipper has been my fav. Brave since when he came up to the big team. Seeing him win an MVP award and going to All-Star games was as good as it got for me..but now it pains me to say that he’s at best the 4th best third basemen in the N.L.

    Cabrera..Wright..Rolen..Ensberg..Chipp. I still want to rank him higher then Ensberg though.

  24. Everybody is missing the easy solution: move Chipper to left and put Betemit at 3rd.

    I’m not sure why everybody has been so down on Renteria. He certainly isn’t any worse defensively than Giles. And he has been one of our only consistent offensive players not named McCann. I’d rather see Pena or some other defensive specialist replace Giles. Pena could probably outslug him even. Is the hurt finger the reason Marcus can’t hit for power anymore or is he no longer juicing?

    Ray has looked pretty good as closer so far. I’d like him better as a setup man, but I don’t think we are going to find a true closer in trades. We failed to sign most of them in the offseason, and they don’t figure to be available because their teams are winning.

    The biggest thing for me would be to get rid of washed up has beens like Jordan, Reitsma, Thomson, and Pratt. If we are going to stink, at least stink with young players who will have a chance to improve over the rest of the season and set us up for a better year next year.

  25. If CHipper got to play all his home games at that shit hole ball park in Houston, he would hit 50 every year. It is where pop ups go to the second deck.

  26. ‘Risa has a point.. I still hate the Astros on so mane levels.

    Berkman…Lane…Taveras…Pettitte… their stupid softball stadium…Ausmus…Lidge… Judas Clemens..

    Bah humbug

  27. Thanks Rob J.
    I couldn’t even read the story because of that picture. I saw it and the caption and immediately hit the back button on my browser. It just adds to my depression.

    All of us seem in agreement that changes HAVE to be made. I have to admit I was a little stunned by the idea of TP jr at SS. I thought he was a punchline around here. Renteria’s defense is not great but it is not the difference between a good team and this piece of crap we’re putting out there right now. I wouldn’t mess with Renteria simply because he has been so consistant at the plate and I don’t want to upset one of the few high points we have. Andruw, Renty, and McCann are the only players who have been consistent enough to leave alone. Chipper won’t be moved unless he says he is willing to move. If our roster stays as it is, then the big change I think has to be made is to get Betemit in the ball game. He should be our Bill Hall or Chone Figgins. Play him in an outfield corner, 3B, SS, 2nd, 1st; I don’t care as long as he plays. If he doesn’t get a chance I will dread the day he is traded and blows up when given a chance by another team.

  28. I think Schuerholtz needs to put some more unknown average looking white guys with German/French sounding names on the field. Putting a bunch of new guys like that worked like a charm last year, so maybe the problem is that those guys just aren’t new any more and so the magic is gone. It’s time to recapture it — there are a lot of displaced New Orleans guys running around so that should answer the French side of the equation anyway.

  29. how about Thorman? Or even better, Phil “Donk” Stockman. Then we could call up Lil Pena and call him Nugget. Together they would battle the rich, powerful and corrupt king-pin Omar “Rico” Minaya.

  30. Some random comments – first off, I thought that pitch to LaRoche was a strike as well, I was shocked the ump didn’t ring him. Embarrassing moment for Pokey, but (a) it sure looked like a strike, and (b), he wouldn’t have been able to hit that anyway.

    I don’t think TPjr is the answer, but I agree with JoshQ, Betemit should be in the lineup every day, SOMEWHERE. As others have said, give him the chance to fail.

    I agree that getting James up and into the rotation should happen as soon as they think he can do it, but the problem here is that Bobby and the coaches have always been pretty conservative about that.

    And I really wonder how much McCann’s absence has hurt the starters, he seems to call a good game, and I’m not impressed with the pitch sequences I’ve seen lately, although I don’t know if that is being called from the bench or by Pratt.

    Bobby certainly needs to develop a quicker hook though – no reason not to hit for Thomson (if not both him and Pratt) with the bases loaded.

    And as far as giving up on the season, well, I’ve followed Atlanta in the bad old days, so I’ve seen a lot of bad baseball from them. I don’t think this team has fallen that far, they can still contend, but they definitely need bullpen help + stability, and they need it now.

  31. My barber just called and told me that Rietsma was traded to the Woodlawn Memorium Memorial Park and Funeral Home for the bones of Tim Crews.

  32. While we’re musing, trade Francoeur, Saltalamachia, Escobar or Andrus, plus James, Larew or Davies for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. Move both Thompson and Sosa to the pen, and use a rotation of Hudson, Willis, Smoltz, Ramirez, and whichever healthy kid the Marlins leave us. Play Langerhans and Diaz at the corners. Move Chipper to first, and bring up Jurries or Thorman to back him up. Package Renteria, Giles, LaRoche, Reitsma and Pratt for a live and accurate bullpen arm or two. Play Cabrera at third, Pena at second and Betamit at short. We’ll still probably lose, but we’ll lose with different faces.

  33. I hear jason Grimsley might be avalible. He can’t be worse than what we have. He coudl black mail opposing hitters…

  34. Aside from getting Betemit in anywhere, I would also consider a trade for someone like Ryan Shealy. First Base is a weak location throughout our system. We can update other positions from within, but 1B can’t be updated without moving people around. Just a thought.

    I read somewhere that we have 12 blown saves. I don’t know if that is accurate, but I know it seems like we’ve blown more than that. Let that sink in, if we had a valuable closer we would have at least 6-8 more victories. I think the best option we have is to find someone who is in line to be a closer for another team and give him the chance with us. The cost in terms of players would be too much for an established guy. I’d love to see us pick up guys like Shields or D. Marte.

    We have to be proactive, but I believe we should make all future moves without mortgaging our future. Please do not get rid of Salty unless it means we have Willis on the other end of the line.

  35. I feel — strongly — that the problem is infield defense. And that the Braves have only one player available who will be a really first-class defender. Unfortunately, it’s L’il Tony.

  36. Also, tell Brian Jordan that he has to go, and give him a job in the minor league system or his release, whichever he prefers.

  37. It doesn’t look like JOrdan is gonig to get hurt this year, so we had better hope he has a positive roids test.

  38. Here’s the problem guys … we waited one year too long to get rid of free swinging Giles .. he is a 7th spot batter in the order … we dont have a true leadoff .. but try Langerhans/Diaz platoon, Renteria, C. Jones, A JOnes, McCann, Francour, Betemit(1st base), Giles and pitcher … trade Laroche ..bring up S Thorman .. Keep Ray as closer .. tell Francour he is one swing at a 1st pitch and he will sitting beside Bobby on bench .. but admit it guys ..METS have a better team this year for sure … they have spent the money that we cant anymore .. unless some good young hitters come thru the farm system then we are done ..we are not going to spend the extra money .. we have too much money tied up in C. Jones, A JOnes, Smoltz and Hampton … somebody may have to go so we can afford some free agents that are producers … THOUGHTS ?????

  39. I wouldn’t mind seeing us move Thomson and Giles. We aren’t going to have them long term and maybe we could get some value that would be good now and in the future.

  40. re giles: it’s always easier to trade guys before they start hitting .230. temper your expectations on what such a trade would bring were we to make one.

  41. Here are the guys that have to stay for one reason or another:
    Chipper, Andruw, Frenchy, Mccan, Smoltz, Hudson. I believe we are going to have to deal hitting to get a closer/releiver. Look at the bottom teams by RBI here

    Find some solutions with the botton 5 teams.
    1.Rockies: Giles,Laroche,Reitsma for Shealy and Ramon Ramirez. Bring up Thorman to be the lefty Backup 1b.
    2. Cubs: Thomson for Howry or Eyre

  42. Another thougth:
    Do you think Oakland would want to part with Frank Thomas? Keep Roachy to play later in the game for “defense”.

  43. I still think all of this stems from the closer role not being reliable. It goes like this: closer sucks, other bullpen pitchers get too uptight, bullpen sucks, starting pitchers start to stress AND Bobby develops an overly slow hook for the starters, starters begin to suck (especially late in the game), infielders (and to a lesser extent outfielders) begin to press and therefore make costly errors (or they just get too uptight to be able to move to get to balls they should get to), pitchers/defense give up lots of runs, offense starts to press to try to pick up sucky pitching/defense, lots of strike outs happen, team loses lots of games and the cycle repeats with increasingly worse effects. I think if we had started the season with someone (I have no idea who it would have been) as a lights-out-closer then everyone would have had more confidence and things would be very different right now. I agree with Mac that our defense is currently a big problem (probably the biggest) but I think the thing that brought us to this point is the closer. I’m not sure if fixing the closer at this point will be enough to reverse all the damage that has been done.

  44. Frank Thomas will never play for an NL team. He can still hit for power, but he can barely walk. He will retire as a DH.

  45. Trade and rebuild. The braves are not a good team. Even if you were to amazingly make the playoffs you would get swept in the first round. I mean no disrespect, im being honest. The brave have too many holes to patch up this time and are closer to the rebuilding end of the stick then the champion side. The time is now to rebuild. Your only people you should be looking to trade are chipper, Andrew, renteria, smoltz….as they have value to any contending team.The rest of your team leave alone, and let your young kids develop. Get as many prospects as possible (think Florida marlins….they won 2 world series that way) Yes you will suck for 2-3 years but you will have a ton of money to invest in free agents and have a great young team that can only get better.

    As far as you trading your garbage players away, who in the hell would take them? What exactly are you planing on getting back for someone like reitsma, or a sosa?… Ill tell you, NOTHING. So as the Italian’s say forget about it.

    For your sake I hope they do rebuild, You dont want over priced fill gaps for your team. It will only be short term and in a few years your team will be even worse off. Just except what is going on as a normal part of baseball. It happens to every team.

  46. Somehow I think convincing another team to pay Reitsma’s salary, much less exchange something of value for him, will be quite the chore. I can’t imagine he’d be claimed before clearing waivers. In fact, i wouldn’t be surprised if he already HAS cleared waivers.

  47. Chipper could’ve solved a lot of problems if he had just put the team before himself and moved to 1B.

    Marte would’ve started at third, Betemit at short. LaRoche would back up Chipper at first and be lefty PH.

    I love Chipper but his insistence on not moving again kind of irked me.

  48. danny, trade and rebuild? who do you think we are, the mets? trade and fill gaps, but the braves dont rebuild because they dont have to. cheers.

  49. I agree with Mac about the defense; I have been shocked at how poor a shortstop Renteria is; he has no arm and little range. And Chipper has no range anymore. But I think the offense is equally at fault; they can’t score runs early and that is putting more and more pressure on a starting rotation that is not vintage Braves 1990s. They have many holes in the lineup and Chipper seems to have lost his power stroke. I think if they started scoring runs, the starting pitching is good enough–of course, then you have the bullpen to contend with. And I don’t think you can start moving guys around in the middle of the year. Learning a new position is not as easy as it sounds. I would like to see Betemit playing more, but I can’t see the advantage of weakening another defensive position.

    The trade ideas are fanciful. It’s been years since JS made a big move midseason and with so many teams still at least marginally in contention, there’s probably not much out there. And, to do a big deal would require the Braves taking on salary which isn’t going to happen.

    I think, though, people are missing the bigger picture. People are talking about breaking the team up and goig with prospects. But Braves are not an old team; in fact, they are one of the youngest teams in the league. If anything, the problem is that they are too young in a lot of positions and don’t have established players. In effect, they are playing prospects in right field, first base, and catcher. LaRoche and Giles aren’t old either. And Andruw is not yet thirty. So what you are really takling about is Chipper and he is untradeable.

  50. I just saw that the Indians designated Scott Sauerbeck for assignment. Think he could help at all?

  51. Dear Danny Kolb (aka NYMEts):

    Blow Us!

    Worst Wishes,
    BRAVES Jouranal

    P.S. If we wanted your insight we would have spent $200 Million dollars.

  52. “You dont want over priced fill gaps for your team. It will only be short term and in a few years your team will be even worse off.”
    -Danny Kolb aka NYMETS

    Isn’t that exactly what NY has been doing? I couldn’t agree more with not getting over priced stop gaps. I think we’ll make moves, but not at the expense of future years.

  53. I just got back from 3 client meetings and some great stuff on here.

    If only JS and his staff read the Braves Journal more often. Sigh.

    Hap made an excellent point that i have been feeling all season. All the “Negativity” (and not just mine) stems from having a terrible closer and a bunch of hacks in there. It’s brought every aspect of the team down more.

    I heard this talked about with this year’s Miami Heat…”winning breeds chemistry”. I really believe that. I think you start winning a bunch of games, and suddenly everyone’s behaved, everyone’s best friends, and suddenly, old NBA jackasses like Gary Payton and Antoine Walker are ‘solid citizens’.

    The point is, with thsi current roster we aren’t going to win. Even if by some MIRACLE we make the Playoffs this year (and barring changing the entire bullpen, 3-4 lineups spots and at least 2 starters, I don’t see how) we probably would get swept. Sure, i will take Playoffs over no playoffs because if you are IN, you always have a chance, but I fear winning say 75-80 games and being stuck with guys we should have traded. If we are winning 75, dump the mediocre veterans and let’s let the kids play. Why not?

    Also, someone beat me to the punch…but why in God’s name would anyone with half a brain trade for Adam LaRoche, John Thomson or Chris Reitsma? Hell, the Braves could PAY people to take any of those 3 guys for a bag of screws and 2 broken light bulbs from Home Depot’s trash and the Braves pay and the opposing team would still turn the deal down with any common sense.

    The only team I could even imagine having LaRoche interest is the Dodgers so top prospect Andy could have his big brother aorund…but Adam would be nothing more then a lefty pinch hitter because even Grady Little can see he stinks.

    At this pojnt, we are better off with DFA’ing Thomson and Reitsma and for that matter, Tyler Yates as well. I would rather a 22 year old from Mississippi just come on up and throw heat and see what happens.

    But Thomson needs to be removed from the rotation and Reitsma needs to be off the team. Weare past the point of no return, Bobby, on this. Any last shred of dignity and hope this etam has to come back and make a run has to be to get some of these awful veterans off the team (and ideally take Yates, LaRoche, Pratt & Jordan as well) and stick kids in there.

    I agree with 10 other sentiments on here…get Wilson Betemit in there already. Enough is enough. Get him, Diaz and Lil Tony in there and upgrade both the offense and defense. Francouer needs his role reduced, same with Langy, Chipper needs to move positions and maybe Edgar as well.

    As for Giles, I hate to say it and I have generally laid off Giles but when Oakland tried to get him for Hudson, we missed the boat in dealing with him. Maybe his numbers improve if he hits 7th, I dunno…but a lot of people are whispering about him being a different player off ‘Roids and the .230 hitting leadoff hitter with medium defensive range aint helping.

    As for Chipper, if we can deal him (meaning he agrees to it), I am for it. His defense is hurting the team, his offense has degraded due to injuries and he should probably become a DH anyway. Bobby won’t move him (though he should be tried at first) so if we get the right offer for Chip, we should take it. We shouldn’t wait past the point of no return like we did with Marcus.

    And finally, Chuck James…this kid has earned the right, like Betemit, to be tried…let him fail first before you even deny him the chance so lesser players like LaRoche and Thomson can’t keep blocking better kids.

  54. Why do I have to look at an ad for Cards Gear every time I lod onto this site? It just reminds me of one of many teams that are doing better than the Braves at this time.

  55. I have to disagree about Thomson having not trade value. He is a free agent after the season and there are always teams willing to take on a rental. Also, every year there are mediocre pitchers who get moved because a contender needs pitching help and is willing to try to catch lightning in a bottle (i.e. Sidney Ponson, Pedro Astascio, etc.)
    I’d move Reitsma back to the 7th spot in the bullpen and let him get his head screwed on correctly before I D.F.A.’d him.
    As for LaRoche, if we could get someone to play first, then maybe we could trade him to that semi-pro team who gave us Kerry Lightenburg. I think all we sent them was a bucket of balls and some bats. Maybe we could at least get the bats back. LaRoche won’t have any use for a bat anyway.

  56. I very much doubt that Chipper was asked to move to first and refused. More likely is the scenario in which the Braves never asked him at all. Chipper is proud but clearly a very team-oriented guy – he agreed to move to the outfield for Vinny Freakin’ Castilla, after all! I think he prefers to play third, but if the Braves begged him I am sure he would agree to move.

    I don’t think the brass had confidence in Betemit as a permanent shortstop solution and I’m not sure if I blame them; he had one season’s worth of good performance and several of poor performance in his record, and his size makes him seem a doubtful candidate for a skilled gloveman. unfortunately, renteria is clearly no longer the player he used to be, and probably isn’t much better.

  57. Also, LaRoche is hitting something like .300/.375/.525 since the beginning of May. The real black hole in the offense is the guy with the sub .280 OBP.

  58. Malone,

    I agree with you about Chipper. What was wonce a “good” attitude has become sour.

    The same can be said for John Smoltz. I have met Smoltzy and like him, but instead of commenting how poor the team is playing or how badly he wants (in any way possible) help the team win, the one thing Smoltz said to the AJC last week was “I am not going to be closer again, end of story.”

    Way to be a team player.

    This maybe the heart of our problem.

    Chipper and Smoltz SHOULD BE the team leaders…All stars, veterans, career Braves, each has an MVP and Cy Young award…the natural team leaders.

    yet both have taken new roles in the past (Left Field and Closer), both are back in their original spots (3rd and starter) and neither is helping all that much. Smoltz has been marginally better then Chipper, but neiter has been that great.

    And both have openly banged against the ideas of moving again to help the team.

    When we all chatted last week about a “players only meeting” needing to happen, and we all cringed when the AJC reported it was to decided who the Player Rep was, it got me to realize something:

    Chipper and Smoltz, while we all love them and always will, are not team leaders now.

    They have either fully become or dangerously close to becoming older players who collect paychecks.

    If Chipper moved to first, it would get Betemit’s fantastic young bat in at third, a switch hitter, and get Chipper’s bat instead of LaRoche at first. You upgrade the defense and offense at 2 positions with that 1 move.

    If Smoltz took the closer role back, there are TONS AND TONS AND TONS of starters we could potentially trade for. We could prtobably cut a deal for Willis or Zito or someone from a non contending team soon and still put out a good rotation with Hudson, Willis or Zito, HoRam, Chuckie James and Sosa. We then would suddenly not have to worry about the closer role anymore and Smoltz would now be back there to only have to throw heat for 1-2 innings at a time and protect a lead.

    And we’d actually HAVE leads because we’d have a healthy McCann back, no LaRoche, and additionally, Diaz takes over for Francouer or Langerhans.

    But this all circles back to the fact that Chipper and Smoltz felt they made their one “great” sacrifice for the team and now their steadfast refusal to make another.

    Winning is about sacrifice. It’s why a guy like Tim Duncan has won 3 NBA titles and Kevin Garnett has zero. Duncan could care less about his stat sheets and knew having other people be stars with him would make the Spurs better to win–and they have. The TWolves didn’t even make the Playoffs.

    Sorry I have gone back to Basketball for my analogy, but all the greats in every sport have to make sacrifices to make their team better…and I think this is the case with Chipper and Smoltz.

  59. Yes he is, but a month from now we he will be hitting .225/.300/450. That is how LaRoche works. Unlike Frenchy, LaRoche is replaceable from within. Although I would advocate giving Betemit and/or Diaz more time in RF and giving Frenchy some “rests”.

  60. It seems to me that Chipper doesn’t care about his stats to me. What six homers?

  61. When the Brewers realize they are the Brewers and fall totally out of contention, we figure out a way to get Carlos Lee and rent him for the rest of the season. Next year we bring up a kid from within for 1st base.

    The Tigers are looking for a left handed bat, and Laroche may look good to a team that doesnt really know him. We could see what kind of good young arms they would part with.

  62. Ok, go check our DOB’s blog on AJC. He rips all of the pen.


  63. Just something I’ve noticed over the years, when Chipper is on he is driving the ball to the opposite field gap. Lately he always seems to be fooled and lightly grounding out or flying out to the opposite field. I don’t know why, but he doesn’t seem to get his money’s worth very often.

  64. Well I’m outta here…I’ll catch up with everyone in about 10 days when I get back from Jamaica. I don’t know if I’ll even be able to check Braves scores while I’m gone. I can’t decide if I want to risk having an anurism (can’t spell) while in paradise. Later

  65. So… if Smoltz destroys his elbow faster being a closer, as he thinks it will happen, it’s a good thing?

    Only if it works.

  66. So Smoltz doesn’t want to move to the pen, and he’s not a TEAM PLAYER? That’s ridiculous!

    Let me ask you this, Alex R. Let’s say HYPOTHETICALLY you’re the general manager of a Best Buy. Steve Anderson, the CEO of Best Buy, calls you and tells you there’s a cashier not offering service plans in your store and he wants you to go work the front lines for the rest of the month. Would you say, “Of course! I would love to do work where I’m less valuable and waste my skills!” or would you say, “I am much more valuable as the general manager of this store. Working a cash register would be a waste of my talents. End of the story.”?

  67. I’m a Met fan, so dont bite my head off. I see enough of your games, so he’res my prespective.


    1 – Chipper goes to first. He doesnt have the range he once had and could better serve the team at first. He may balk at another move, but with his recent history of injury problems, playing first will help.

    2. – Betemit to 3rd. He might as well get his shot at third. You’re basically swapping LaRoche for Betamit, which aint a bad deal.

    3. – Leave Rentaria alone and simply adjust the infield so that Betamit is forced to cover more ground at third.

    I dont think the problem in the Braves infield is solely Rentaria’s fault; its Rentaria AND Chipper combined that have defensive failings. One or the other has to move. Chipper is the better choice to move because the way he’s going, first base will be in his future.

    Starting Pitching

    As for pitching, The starters, other than Sosa have not been really that bad. You have the same You guys are in the same boat as the Metsies were before they got El Duque. Solid 1 and 2 and a ugly back 3. Thompson and HR are ok back of the rotation guys. All you need is another innings eater and you’re ok.


    is only a problem area because you lack a closer. The Brave should of made a deal for Baez.

    Eventually your GM will make a deal for a good setup man, convert them to a closer, and make a deal for an innings eater to take the 5 spot and you’ll be fine.

    Trust me, when Met fans look at the standings, its the Braves that worry everyone.

  68. There is always a team that will take a veteran bullpen guy like Reitsma, we did. He was blowing saves for the Reds we he had the chance.
    Matt Diaz has 1b experience I think, he could play there anyway and be as good or better that Jordan.

    Chipper playing first is not a good move for him and his legs and feet. The stretching etc…

    Why can’t Betemit play second while Giles is sucking? If you trade Giles he could take his spot. Or Tenteria can play second if you want TPJR. Is Elvis ready?

    The defense has made errors, but I don’t think this is a bad defensive team. A single sneaking through now and then does not lead to Reitsma, Villareal, Thomson, Sosa, Smoltz giving up homeruns to guys who shouldn’t hit them. Easley?

    The bullpen is the problem. It was the worst in baseball last year, it is far worse this year.

    Jordan and Pratt do need to go. Make Eddie Perez a coach to “mentor” Mccann if he really needs a babysitter. Cox and Corrales and Freddy Gonzalez were all catchers, how many mentors does he need?

  69. I’m sorry Alex, but Smoltz moving back to the bullpen is the dumbest idea I’ve heard in a long while. Of course, that would solve the problem of our closers blowing leads, because we’d never give Smoltz a lead to blow.

    Ack! there are enough problems with the team as is; let’s not f it up any worse please :)

  70. Yeah, I don’t like the idea of having Smoltz close. He’s admitted his elbow won’t hold up to that duty, and even though he has had some bad outings, he is still an excellent pitcher, and the club needs as many innings out of him as they can get. That means using him as a starter.

    If they use the WB as the rover, he plays every day in the infield somewhere, while the “main” player at that position takes a day off.

    And yeah, Jordan needs to go, he isn’t adding anything to the team.

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