Braves 4, Phillies 1

ESPN.com – MLB – Box Score – Phillies at Braves

The Braves were outhit 9-7, but two of their hits were homers, including a three-run shot by Martin Prado. Chuck James, meanwhile, went seven and picked up his tenth win.

James allowed five of the hits, struck out seven, and walked two. He got in one real jam, loading the bases on two singles and a walk in the seventh, but got out of that with a popup and a groundout. Mostly, he cruised, especially in the middle innings. Some years, he might be getting rookie of the year consideration.

The Braves got their runs via the longball. In the fifth, they got singles by Francoeur and Diaz. Prado turned on an inside pitch 1-0 and took it out to left field for his first career homer. Andruw added a solo shot the next inning. And that was pretty much it. Nobody had more than one hit; Prado and McCann both drew walks to be the only players to reach twice.

McBride and Kali combined to allow the Phillies’ one run in the eighth, but Kali got out of it. Wickman allowed a couple of singles in the ninth but nailed down the save. Marlins next.

54 thoughts on “Braves 4, Phillies 1”

  1. Numero uno. First time all year. I can’t believe someone mentioned in the postings yesterday that Chuckie might not make the rotation next year.

  2. What a strange sensation! At this time of year I’m usually telling myself I can put the Braves on a back burner, as they play out the string coming up to the playoffs. “They’re resting some peolple, trying to get so-and-so some ABs.” It became routine.

    But now each game is an audition for some players. Would it be safe to day the at least 15 players are trying to prove they should be part of the Braves’ future plans?

    So we can take note they’ve shut Chipper down. We can hope BMac gets a rest. Wouldn’t hurt if Smoltzie got some,too.

    But for the remainder of the year I’ll be rooting for Prado, Aybar, Diaz and the rest. For them, these last two weeks mean everything.

    As always: Go Braves!

  3. I don’t know if this was mentioned in previous threads, but it was under Braves notes on the ESPN Braves page.

    “Kelly Johnson, out all year with an elbow injury, has been cleared to start throwing. As a rookie last season, Johnson played 79 games in the outfield, but Cox might use the 24-year-old in the infield next season. “That’s where he’s played all his life,” Cox said of Johnson”

    Where in the infield? Wasn’t he was a 3rd baseman in the minors?

  4. I would think 2nd base unless they plan to move Chipper back to left. I don’t know that I’d want to give a fulltime infield position to a guy who hasn’t played there in years, missed all of this year, and wasn’t all that great in the majors in ’05. I’d rather see Kelly start in Richmond and prove he can hit and learn a new position where it won’t cost the big club wins.

  5. I like Chuck James. He’s a low-contact pitcher in a team full of high-contact pitchers. If he keeps guys off base and keeps the walks down, he can live with the above-average home run count. Instead of getting out of jams with a double play, he can get out of jams with strikeouts and popups. People keep talking him down by the stats, fearing he’s going to give up 5 hr a game someday, but he keeps on winning games and allowing a below average number of runs at all levels. Braves need a good outfield when he’s pitching though.

    I liked KJ’s swing last year. He’s got a fast swing and looks like a guy who will develop his eye/contact with experience, and could become another Laroche type hitter, except better average and a bit less pop. I guess KJ could play 2b or 3b if Giles gets traded. I hope his defense is better on the infield than I remember it in the outfield.

    The sad thing is a lot of the Braves best players are getting old and/or too expensive for cheapskate ownership – Chipper, Smoltz, Andruw. I’m afraid the Braves are going to be losing parts faster than they can add them. The Braves really need some above average young starting pitching, and the only one I see yet is Chuck James, but he’s not a #1 guy. Davies stuff just isn’t overpowering. Horam knows how to hit bats, not much else. All else are expensive pitchers in decline. Is there anyone in the minors with real #1 or #2 starter upside potential? (Not next year, but ever?)

  6. Johnson started his career as a short stop. Moved to 3rd and then to the outfield in Richmond. Offensively KJ is better than Diaz and Langerhans and Thorman. If we trade Giles as everyone says is likely, then 2b might be a possibility for him. But, I have a fearless prediction: KJ starting in LF in 2007.

  7. So what’s worse, the fact that this post has only four comments, or the fact that I passed on watching the Braves to see Bud Fox take down Gordon Gecko for the 20th time?

  8. James does give up a lot of homeruns, but he doesn’t put a lot of people on base ahead of the guy who hits homeruns. He has a stellar era, whip, baa, and record. So who cares if he gives up a lot of solo homers? It’s an overrated stat similar to strikeouts for a hitter. The problem with a pitcher like Jorge Sosa was not the homeruns it was the 2 guys he walked before the homerun. Give me Chuck James instead of Tim Hudson, Horacio Ramirez, Kyle Davies, or random spot start #413423 anyday.

  9. Projected #1 and #2 starters are quite rare in the minors. I do not think that Harrison, Wright, or Reyes will be any better than 3, 4, or 5. But then, a lot of folks have been saying that Chuck James would be no more than a LOOGY in the Bigs. Lerew and Stevens were supposed to be the cream of the crop, but their outlook has definitely changed.

    Anyway, our best pitching is at least several years away. Jamie Richmond could be interesting. Maybe, Evarts too. We have Cuevas, Lyman, Vines, and Beau Jones in Low A.

    Also, it seems that many of the best arms in the Braves system are relievers. Will Startup, Joey Devine, Kevin Gunderson, and Kris Medlen (who had an ERA below 0.40 between Danville and Rome) to name a few.

    There are others, I know. Without looking at rosters, I am not sure who I am leaving out.

  10. I thought Aybar was supposed to be our second baseman next year. Isn’t that why we traded Betemit for him? Because he’s a better fit at second?

    I’m with Johnny in that I expect KJ to play LF for us. Of course, I think Diaz has earned the right to have to have the job taken away from him.

    A couple of wrenches in my plan: 1) When Chipper goes down with his inevitable injury, it might make some sense to move KJ to third. 2) If we trade Andruw, as some have mentioned, Diaz and his 10-homer power might not cut it in LF anymore. That will, of course, depend on what we’d be getting in return for Andruw.

    I don’t like rebuilding.

  11. Hey, wait a minute… If Reggie Bush is declared ineligible, and USC is stripped of their 2004 national championship, that means that the #2 team would get the title, and that team is… Wryn, you want this one?

  12. I posted this over at Rowland’s Office (a fine blog, BTW, especially for Braves fans with long memories):

    I don’t mean to damn him with faint praise, but James’ rookie year is an almost exact replica of Larry McWilliams. Check it out:

    McWilliams ’78
    9-3
    2.81 ERA (league 4.05)
    15 GS
    99 1/3 IP
    84 H

    James ’06
    10-3
    3.33 ERA (league +- 4.50)
    15 GS
    102.2 IP
    85 H

    Chuckie’s whiffing twice as many batters as ol’ Larry did, which obviously bodes better for his future. But the similarities are striking.

    Here’s my top ten ATL rookie SP performances to date (Glavine and Millwood were, strictly speaking, not rookies in their first full years as starters):

    10. Larry McWilliams ’78
    9. Chuckie James “06 (with a bullet)
    8. Ron Reed ’68
    7. Jason Marquis ’00
    6. Zane Smith ’85
    5. Derek Lilliquist ’89
    4. Horacio Ramirez ’03
    3. Pete Smith ’88
    2. Damian Moss ’01

    and the gold standard remains:

    1. Craig McMurtry ’83

  13. For those of us whose baseball memories don’t extend back that far, what is wrong with comparing James to Williams?

  14. Ron,

    McWilliams didn’t do a whole lot after that. After a couple lousy years with Atlanta, we traded him to Pittsburgh. He had 2 decent/good seasons with the Pirates, but finished his career 78-90.

  15. I don’t feel like registering on John Sickels’ site, so let’s discuss what the Braves should do this offseason here. Quick points:

    – Re-sign Big Bob to something like a 2 year deal. This takes care of the closer problem for a few years and gives Devine, Boyer, etc. time to develop as middle relievers and setup men.
    – Pick up Smoltz’ option.
    – Get Eddie Perez or somebody similar to be a catching coach so you don’t have to waste a roster spot on a “veteran catcher” like Todd Pratt. Pena can be McCann’s backup to start next season. If Salty does well at Richmond, he can be a midseason call up or be the backup in ’08 assuming he’s not traded.
    – Say “thanks for your service. best of luck on your next team.” to Jordan, Reitsma, and Thomson.
    – If you can, trade Hudson for blue chip prospects including at least one starting pitching prospect who can join the rotation in ’07.
    – Trade Giles to open a spot for Aybar and save cash.
    – Trade Ramirez to save cash. You can get virtually the same performance from Davies, Cormier, or Villareal for much less.
    – If you’ve managed to trade Hudson, Ramirez, and Giles and have money left after signing Wickman, go hard after one or more of the following a) a hard throwing ace starting pitcher such as Jason Schmidt, b) a left fielder who can bat leadoff such as Soriano, and/or c) a reasonably priced setup man to backup Wickman such as Baez.

  16. No Mac. Nobody will really award us the title per se. Retroactive NC’s just feel weird to me, even though you guys have half a dozen of them.

    Auburn called it “The Perfect Season” (in 2004) internally just as we had in 1993 after going 11-0 with an inferior team that lucked its way through SEC play.

    If Auburn goes undefeated again this year and is left in the cold (it could happen, but it seems unlikely that really either will happen), you can certainly imagine the angst of a fanbase that would have gone an aggregate 38-0 in three perfect seasons over a 14-season stretch with no Nat’l Championships. When it’s an SEC school, it’s a sad day, my friend.

    That makes SEC football different. I’ll give you two options, Mac:
    1) Bama wins the SEC Championship, but loses to Auburn
    2) Bama doesn’t make/doesn’t win SEC Championship, but beats Auburn

    Most Bama fans (as well as Auburn fans) take option 2. I do as well. That’s what makes SEC football different from Pac-10 football, Big 10 football, etc. Ask USC fans would they rather have a conference title or beat UCLA. Well, I have. They tell me they’d much rather win the conference and lose to the cross-town foe. I feel certain the same is true with Texas/Oklahoma, Michigan/Ohio State, Florida/FSU, FSU/Miami, etc.

    Just my two cents.

  17. Oh, and if Auburn does get by LSU on Saturday, I predict a perfect season. That LSU team scares me to death and there’s a billion LSU fans in town.. but if we can survive at home, look out SEC!

    (By the way, Auburn’s only lost one SEC home game in its last 19 affairs, if you count the 2004 SEC Championship – Auburn’s last home SEC loss goes all the way back to 2003 vs Ole Miss, on a dropped pass in the endzone on AU’s final drive)

  18. I actually would like the idea of dealing Hudson, Ramirez, Giles, and Andruw and dumping Thomson to get Jason Schmidt and Alfonso Soriano and plugging Langerhans into CF. But then again, Soriano doesn’t want to play LF, so where do you put him? Second? Bad defense, but he’d be ridiculously great for a non-offensive positions kinda like Andruw is in center. Also, I dunno if I’d put him at lead-off though. That bad boy would be my 3-hole guy or clean-up hitter. He’s just too good.

  19. Hey, wait a minute… If Reggie Bush is declared ineligible, and USC is stripped of their 2004 national championship, that means that the #2 team would get the title, and that team is… Wryn, you want this one?

    The yahoo piece was nicely done (aside from Wetzel’s nonsense) but there was really nothing new there that the NCAA doesn’t already know. That trophy is going to stay in Heritage Hall.

    I wouldn’t be apposed to making Bush return the Heisman though.

  20. Deal Hudson. I don’t care what you get, just get rid of him.

    Some of Alabama’s NCs are pretty shady. OTOH, there are years where we could claim the NC (1966, for example, when Alabama certainly should have won) where we don’t. I went through a few days ago and came up with nine legitimate NCs (not counting 1966).

    One of Auburn’s perfect seasons was when they were on probation; they should have been given the AP national championship anyway, and any voter who said that they wouldn’t vote Auburn #1 because they were on probation should have been stripped of his vote. The rules plainly stated that teams on probation were eligible in the AP poll, and if Auburn hadn’t been on probation they would have been a near-unanimous #1 going to the bowls.

    And they should have gotten to play for it in 2004, when they were (to my mind) clearly one of the two best teams.

    I am in the minority, but would prefer the SEC championship. Now, if you asked me if I’d rather beat Tennessee…

  21. Trade Andruw and sign Soriano? What’s the point? Soriano is actually the older of the two. Soriano is always going to be dramatically overpaid because his weaknesses are more subtle (bad D, doesn’t walk) then Andruw’s (low BA).

  22. Glancing at Bob Wickman, via espn.com:

    K / 9IP
    2002, CLE 9.4
    2004, CLE 7.9
    2005, CLE 6.0
    2006, CLE 5.5
    2007, ATL 8.7

    BB / 9IP
    2002, CLE 2.6
    2004, CLE 3.0
    2005, CLE 3.1
    2006, CLE 3.5
    2007, ATL 0.4

    Two downward trends dramatically reversed. Must be that Leo magi… oh, wait.

    (Could just be the 20 IP sample size. Probably wouldn’t put too many eggs in that basket next year.)

  23. Some of Alabama’s NCs are pretty shady.

    Probably can be said about every NC team. I mean if Ohio State survived Maurice Clarett with their NC intact, USC will survive Bush.

    And they should have gotten to play for it in 2004, when they were (to my mind) clearly one of the two best teams.

    Agreed. USC-Auburn was clearly the game there. USC would have won but it would have been a much better game. (Ok I’m biased but the ’04 team was just crazy good. It was before all their good D players left Tatupu, Patterson, Cody, etc., but after all ther good O players arrived Leinart, Bush, White, etc.)

  24. #27, a couple of possiblities come to mind:

    1) AL hitters are very familiar with Wickman so he is less effective against him.
    2) NL hitters in general are not as good as AL hitters so Wickman does better against them.
    3) The AL Central has much better teams than the NL East, so the quality of competition Wickman pitches against is lower with Atlanta.

  25. For the record, Mac, you have to be one of my favorite Bama folks to go back and forth with. You know your stuff, you’re not incredibly biased one way or another .. you’re the first I’ve ever seen admit that some of Bama’s NC’s were shady.

    ..more fans like you and I’ll have a tougher time getting pumped for the Iron Bowl.

    ..by the way, my high school team (ranked #16 in state) is at #7 in state in a key region game. Both teams are 2-1, but that’s kinda misleading. My team is 2-1 despite being outscored 55-50 on the season. Theirs is 2-1 and has outscored the opposition 101-7.

    ..and to show how amazing my league is, one school, from Tuscaloosa, is 0-3. They’ve been outscored 164-3 in three contests so far.

  26. To quote Skip Caray:
    “So your high school team stinks? Well, just say something on radio like ‘They seem to be kicking off a lot more than we are’ or something like that”

    Radio on Friday night, Auburn/LSU on Saturday. If my voice makes it, I’ll be shocked..

  27. Has McCann gained weight during the year? He’s great, but yesterday he looked too much like me, and am wondering if the beard is to hide a disappearing chin. I think it’s time for the Braves to hire a full-time nutritionist and caterer. Put Andruw, Wickman, and McCann together, and that’s a lot of excess weight and stress on the body.

  28. Shady in the sense that “one guy with a bunch of binders and a trophy gave them a national championship,” Robert — not in the sense of “everyone was getting paid and the starting quarterback sold grass” — not that that isn’t true of most NCs.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if McCann was putting on weight. He can’t run! He can barely walk. It’s very hard to burn calories when you can’t put weight on one of your legs. There’s also a tendency for people who work very hard, even in athletics, to put on weight, because they don’t have the energy to exercise just to get in shape — which is likely part of Andruw’s problem.

  29. These are what I would call “real” college football national championships:

    Rose Bowl titles from 1946 and before, when the game was to match the best team in the east and the best team in the west, before the Californians got sick of Alabama kicking their asses and started inviting only Big Ten teams;
    Writers (AP) or Coaches (UPI, then USA Today/CNN) votes.

  30. Shady in the sense that “one guy with a bunch of binders and a trophy gave them a national championship,” Robert — not in the sense of “everyone was getting paid and the starting quarterback sold grass” — not that that isn’t true of most NCs.

    Got it. USC has 16 entries in NCAA.org football for National Championships but around six of them fall into that first catagory. Probably the last 10 or so fall into that second catagory.

  31. I’m repenting of a suggestion, I think. Soriano vs. Andruw. Considering they will probably make the same amount, perhaps Soriano wouldn’t be a good option over Andruw. Similar power, Soriano has more speed, but Andruw has better speed, better defense, more plate discipline, and up until recently, more durability. The problem with Andruw is his new-found potential fragility and his uhh… figure. Those two issues seem to be products of each other and could be pretty problematic if he’s given a multi-year deal.

  32. The Braves won’t be able to outbid the Yankees, Red Sox, etc. for either Soriano or Andruw, so it’s a moot point.

  33. Jones must be treating McCann to his favorite pizzeria every night.

    “Re-sign Big Bob to something like a 2 year deal. This takes care of the closer problem for a few years and gives Devine, Boyer, etc. time to develop as middle relievers and setup men.”

    I think Wickman only signs one-year deals. I think that is probably all he should get. Heck, I highly doubt Wickman wants to pitch another two years anyway.

    I would like to see Schuerholz give Smoltz a new contract instead of just the option. Two years with an option at some price would work.

  34. If you are the insurance company it seems like the wording of this AP story would make you a little uncomfortable…

    The Atlanta Braves put third baseman Chipper Jones on the 15-day disabled list Thursday night so their insurance company will pay a portion of his $13.6 million salary.

  35. Mac,

    I also grew up with the Southern legend that the West Coast teams got tired of being beaten by Southern teams. Like all legends, it starts in truth. However, another issue that emerges around that time is race. Remember, Jackie Robinson was starting Quarterback / single wing tailback on the UCLA team in approximately 1941. The Midwestern teams also took a LOT more fans to rent hotel rooms, etc.

  36. Agree with Cliff. A lot of southern teams wouldn’t play integrated teams. In fact, many people criticized the NC’s Alabama won in the sixties because they were beating (and of course playing with) all white teams. I think that’s probably more of an issue than the WC teams being afraid to play them.

  37. Right. In took until 1970 for USC’s Sam Cunningham to open Bear Bryant’s eyes.

    Midwest teams travel better anyway, smart business decision.

  38. To all on the theme of Southern football and race, Bear Bryant was probably ahead of most. His state and his profession were behind him. The first few of the African American athletes at most campuses were pioneers almost up there with Jackie Robinson. I would recommend anyone looking at the issue to see if you can find on TV, DVD, or premium channel a CBS made for TV movie “The Unvanquished: The Richmond Flowers, Jr. Story”. It is as real as it gets.

    But also, the Southern teams of the 30’s and 40’s did win almost every Rose Bowl they played. The passing game was much more advanced, particularly after Wallace Butts got to Georgia as an assistant in the mid 30’s. Fran Tarkenton has said that he never was around any other coach that knew as much about passing.

  39. It’s generally thought that Bryant wanted to integrate during the sixties (his actions and attitude towards his black players in the seventies more or less bear [no pun intended] this out) but wasn’t willing to buck the system. I find it hard to believe he intentionally scheduled a loss, though.

    And Alabama did go 4-1-1 in Rose Bowls, and did win the last Rose Bowl before the blockade. I also rather doubt that all the Big Ten and Pac Ten programs that participated in Rose Bowls from 1946-1970 were integrated.

  40. Mac,

    Well, they had to play the game to determine the winner—though 1970 was certainly a “down year” by Bama standards. But my point was that, from what I’ve read, Bryant wanted to show the locals what Cunningham could do on the field. He wanted to change their minds that way, not by politicking.

  41. I also rather doubt that all the Big Ten and Pac Ten programs that participated in Rose Bowls from 1946-1970 were integrated.

    Probably not every but pretty close. The Big Ten and Pac Ten were pretty agressive in integrating. UCLA started of course in 1939. The ’55 Rose Bowl featured five black starters between UCLA and Michigan State. The Big Ten had over 60 black players by then, at least a few at every school. Michigan was already up to 20.

    I agree that Bryant wanted to integrate earlier. My comment “opened Bear Bryant’s eyes” should have been more like “helped Bear Bryant open people’s eyes”.

  42. And UMich has been integrated for a century or so. But I get the impression (from reading Jackie’s various biographies) that other than at UCLA (which in those pre-Wooden days was a poor sister program) black players weren’t particularly welcome in much of what I guess was then the Pac-8.

  43. I didn’t know much about Rose Bowl history before this, but while Alabama did well, if you include other “southern” schools, the record is even: 6-6-1.

    It’s sad that I’d rather talk football (much as i like college football) rather than the Braves.

  44. If you count current SEC teams only, it’s 5-3-1, with a win by Georgia and two losses by Tennessee. Tech won one, Tulane lost one, and Duke lost two. I’d probably count Tech and Tulane, which have been SEC teams at times, but not Duke. (Or SMU, which lost one.)

  45. which in those pre-Wooden days was a poor sister program)

    And they still are! Zing! Couldn’t pass that up.

    ‘Welcome’ is a whole different matter I guess, the teams were integrated by the 50s though.

  46. I counted Tech and Tulane, which were in the SEC then, and Duke because it is in the Southeast, if never in the SEC. I’ve always thought of Texas as more southwest than southern so I didn’t count SEC. Seems like east coast and west coast were pretty even at the time, though maybe the SEC should be considered better since each game was thousands of miles from home.

  47. Wryn Texas fans would rather lose the conference championship than to lose to Oklahoma, which is really a wierd statement, seeing as losing to Oklahoma is really the only way they lose the conference championship.

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