Braves 6, Astros 2

ESPN – Astros vs. Braves – Box Score – July 04, 2008

I do believe that the Braves are 3-0 when Jeff Francoeur doesn’t play start. I’m just saying.

Hudson got through a first-inning mini-jam (a key, considering all the times the Braves have fallen behind early in recent games) and then they got some runs. In the second, the Booth Idiots had simultaneous orgasms when (after a walk by Teixeira and a single by McCann) KJ hit a fly out to deep right to move Teixeira to third, and Kotsay hit a soft flyout to left to score him. Whee, “productive outs!” In his first major league AB, Jason Perry did more than Francoeur has in the last six weeks, tripling over the right fielder to score McCann. It was Perry’s only hit of the night, but he hit two other balls hard and worked the count, two other things the man he was replacing hasn’t been doing.

In the third, McCann singled home Chipper with two out. The Astros got a run in the sixth after Hudson “walked” the pitcher on a 3-2 pitch right down the middle. (As usual, the umpire then made it all about him, walking out to the mound to yell at Hudson; again, it’s time that MLB fired a few of them again, just to remind them that they are not the featured attraction and that their jobs are not difficult.) KJ pulled a Prado on a double play ball (getting the batter but the runner advancing) and Berkman singled; it could have been worse, but no run should have scored.

KJ made up for his mistake with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning. In the seventh, Chipper singled home Blanco with two out to make it 6-1. Bobby went to the pen (Hudson was at 97 pitches and not looking sharp) and Boyer, who is obviously completely washed out at this point, gave up hits to the first two before a lineout to Blanco that was almost a disaster. Bobby got him out of there at that point, and Bennett then walked Lee to load the bases. He got out of it due to incredible luck, a soft liner that KJ let drop, throwing the runner out at second and getting the runner from second into a rundown. Because it wasn’t a force, the run from third scored, but they got out of the inning. Gonzalez struck out two and got a popup in the ninth for the Atlanta Save.

Teixeira had three walks; in his last seven games, he has two three-walk and two two-walk games. I don’t know that this means anything, I just thought it was interesting. Kotsay had a hit and a fine play in center, and seems to be rounding into shape.

69 thoughts on “Braves 6, Astros 2”

  1. This was the third game this season that Francoeur has not started for the Braves.

    May 20: Braves sit Francoeur, score six runs and win.

    June 22: Braves sit Francoeur, score eight runs and win.

    July 4: Braves, having sent Francoeur to the minors, start Jason Perry and score six runs and win.

    That’s 3-0 and twenty combined runs in the three games that Francoeur hasn’t started so far this season.

  2. To clarify my initial comments, though, they’re 3-0 when he doesn’t start, since he did pinch-hit in the second game on that list. And struck out with runners on base.

  3. http://www.gadsdentimes.com/article/20080704/NEWS/527639831/1017/NEWS

    Hey, some good news on the prospect front…Tyler Stovall just signed with the Braves today. He got a pretty good deal, too. Rumor has it the Braves promised him that he was going to be their first pick and then they took the pitcher from Florida first instead. That’s probably why they had to pay the money they did for him compared to last year’s 64th pick.

    PS, I wanted to put this over here since it ended up being the last comment on the game thread and I didn’t figure anyone would see it there.

  4. From the last thread…

    Gonzalez pitched last night too. So now he’s pitched 2 nights in a row in low leverage situations. I sure hope we have a blowout win tomorrow, because he’ll be unavailable.

  5. Yeah, but who do you trust in the bullpen to not turn the game into a high-leverage situation? Carlyle? Ring? Ohman’s pitched a lot lately. Atrosta?

  6. Any of them should be able to get 3 outs before giving up 4 runs. I’d have gone with Carlyle, probably.

  7. This is another part of the problem with why we have been losing lots of one run games. We burn our best relievers on nights we don’t need them, then they are often ineffective when they actually do get called to pitch in a high leverage situation after pitching multiple days in succession.

  8. You’re right, braves, that was my bad. I mis-read the Yahoo! info on him. Either way I don’t really mind bringing him in, but I do hope we can get a good sized win tomorrow (heck, or any sort of win).

  9. “Teixeira had three walks; in his last seven games, he has two three-walk and two two-walk games. I don’t know that this means anything, I just thought it was interesting.”

    For me it means I’ve been winning the walks category lately in my fantasy league.

    I agree that Gonzalez could have rested while Carlyle–or even Ring–pitched the 9th. They could have blown it, sure, but recall that the Braves have mainly had trouble with relievers who are overused, such as Boyer, Acosta, and Bennett. The overuse of those pitchers is part of the same pattern of mis-management that under-uses certain relievers and, today, (potentially) made Gonzalez unavailable tomorrow.

  10. well I just hope Jeff can get some confidence back. He did go 2-4 tonight and had a HR taken away from him. He also worked an 0-2 count and made it a 9 pitch walk (small steps here). Diaz also in the lineup was 0-3

  11. For those who thought Frenchy’s comments about wanting a warning were ridiculous, here’s Chipper’s take on it:

    “It’s not quite as extreme as your kid brother being traded, but it had the same effect because it came out of left field.”

    And we know he reads the AJC website. Weird.

    Also, Smoltz said he thought he was one start away from having the same thing happen to him when he started the ’91 season 2-11. Maybe Frenchy will turn it around like Smoltz did. (That was a slightly facetious comment, in case anyone is wondering.)

  12. Here’s an interesting article about where the Braves rookies from 2005 are now. It’s kindof depressing, though, to see how few of the “Baby Braves” panned out. It’s interesting how many of them are currently in the Royals’ system. They must have been Dayton Moore guys to begin with.

    http://tinyurl.com/5guy77

  13. “I was upset [Thursday] night when I got home,” Francoeur said. “[Friday] morning, when I woke up, it was anger that I was feeling. Then by the time I got here, I told myself, ‘You know what? There’s not a damn thing I can do about it now. So there’s no reason to sit back and think about it.’

    “My game plan is, if they have the confidence in me, which I hope they do, is to come back and start that Friday night after the All-Star break and get going and have a huge second half. Because I know I can.”

  14. @16 I don’t think that’s your choice to make, Jeffy.

    Now, pitch recognition and selection, that’s part of the next 10-20 days that you have control over. I suggest working on it since you’ve been given the chance to do so. My concern is that by choosing AA over AAA he will see inferior pitchers, change little or nothing about his approach, have some success, get back up to the majors and we’ll have to wait another month or two for mgmt to figure out that he didn’t really fix anything. I hope I’m wrong.

  15. I think the Braves treated Francoeur appropriately, but I also do not have a problem with his off the cuff remarks. I think he was caught hurt and defensive, and I do not think the comments are indicative of a poor, irresponsible attitude.

  16. You may be mistaken about the relative difficulty of AA and AAA. Some of the very best pitchers in the minors are in AA.

  17. The talent level of pitching at Double A is probably better than at Triple A, but the Triple A guys are mostly minor league veterans who are a bit more crafty.

  18. Anyone see this ridiculous quote from Francoeur regarding his performance tonight:

    “I felt so relaxed [at the plate Friday], but I felt really relaxed [Thursday],” Francoeur said. “And I told Frank that in the meeting. I feel good, I felt comfortable and really feel like I was that close to busting out. I think I showed [Friday night] I was kind of right. I don’t think coming and the atmosphere was the reason I got two hits.”

    Anyone else remember him talking about how “good” he felt at the plate a few weeks ago?

  19. I know the pure talent level is very good at AA but there are more AAA guys that can exploit his weaknesses.

    Or, what #22 said, I guess.

    /love the edit feature

  20. Arizona loses, meaning that they’re still in 1st in the NL West at 43-44. Amazing how the West has gone to seed so quickly.

  21. Ben–thanks for the Stovall post; its really great to see that the Braves have picked up a high quality prospect.

    Now, if we can get DeVall, Thomposon Pope,and Palazzaone, it will have been a great draft….

  22. Jeff: “Look, I was right, I had TWO hits in a game, you were wrong to send me down!”

    I’m sorry, he just seems clueless to me. How could he feel good at the plate? Everything he was doing was wrong. His mechanics were awful, his approach was awful… he’s just clueless.

  23. Okay, that’s not good.

    Does Frenchy remind anyone else of Mr. Baseball?

    “He said there’s a hole in your swing. Everyone can see it but you.”

    Or something like that. I can’t be bothered to look it up.

  24. I don’t expect Frenchy to give the best interviews right now–sure he should have seen it coming, but he would hardly be the first person to experience denial. I don’t care if he does not come across with enough humility either.

    However, what matters at this stage is that the Braves give him enough time (whatever that might be) to relax and make the adjustment necessary so that he has the chance return to the 2007 form. I am afraid that anything more than that is probably excessive optimism….

  25. Well, according to Wren, he has between 10 and 20 days in Mississippi. Which, of course, is probably nowhere near enough time to fix his swing and approach. Especially with the arrogant, petulant, entitled, egotistic attitude still coming from this guy. Again, I hope I’m wrong. But I see a trade in his near future, the way things are shaking out.

    C’est la vie, French Toast!

  26. And another thing, why does he need warning? Does any other player get warning about what is going to happen to them? Obvious signals were being sent from every writer and announcer associated with the Braves. Are you and your family, agents, etc. that dense?

    Or is it because of this?

  27. I might guess that Bobby and Wren didn’t let it be known among the players that something was up beyond maybe sitting him for a couple of games. Yes, they made it clear in the media that a demotion was a possibility, but the players probably feel that they should have inside information.

  28. Have been traveling all weekend and spending quality family time, and didn’t get a chance to watch the game today, or get the good news about Frenchy until just now. Reading some of the comments that didn’t think sending down was a good idea, has given me less confidence in the universe as a whole. You have seriously got to be kidding me. You know what, I liked Frenchy, I really did, when he came up and performed like we know he did, I actually called the best Braves fan that I have as a friend and uttered the words “You know what, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I like him more than Chipper Jones.” That’s about as strong as a statement as I could ever make.

    Anyway, this is not a “slump,” from Frenchy. I’ll cut a guy some slack. 10 games, 20 games, 30 games, hell even 40 games. That COULD be classified as a slump. Not more than half a season. Anybody who thinks keeping him up at the big league level is a good idea, is clearly delusional. It’s really quite that simple.

    I have no problem with the way the Braves handled it whatsoever. Peanut mentioned it beforehand for crying out loud. It couldn’t have been that out of the blue, Jeff. His comments afterwards, while at the heat of the moment, clearly show to me that he doesn’t “get it.”

    I hope he turns it around, I really do. I just don’t really see what’s to be gained by telling him that the plan is to bring him back right after the all-star break. So no matter how he performs, he’ll be back ??? That seems insane to me. What’s the harm at this point making him show improvement before he gets called back up. Let him spend a month or two down there if that’s what it takes.

  29. It’s been stated by Wren that discussions were held among many people in the organization. I find it really hard to believe that Frenchy didn’t know this was a possibility, a probablilty even. Shouldn’t that be warning enough?

    I mean, we’ve all seen Major League numerous times, right? :-)

  30. As for the temporary nature of the demotion… Well, obviously he has to stay down ten days anyway (barring someone going on the DL). But there’s a service time issue involved as well. You don’t have to spend the entire season in the major leagues to get a full season’s worth of service time. I’m not sure how long you can spend in the minors before the service time clock stops, but I think it is about fifteen or twenty games.

  31. Aaaah, that would explain the timeline. Thanks.

    And as an addendum, that would explain the tough decision to make the move on the mgmt side. I mean, if you only have 20 games in the minors for a guy to turn it around, well, that would certainly weigh into the decision.

    I hate to agree with T. Moore but it is sounding more and more like a case of tough love.

  32. I have also had enough of the “he puts people in the seats” argument about Frenchy as well. Winning puts people in the seats. If it’s about selling tickets and putting people in the seats, instead of winning, then put (insert really really hot female here) out there in right field.

  33. Per AJC

    “It doesn’t matter if it’s Jeff Francoeur or Chipper Jones or Brandon Jones or whoever it may be,” Wellman said. “When you struggle, the best approach is ‘simplify to rectify.’ The human brain works in mysterious ways and sometimes the reality of things is not what’s always going on in the brain.

    I like the next to last sentence. Let’s hope Wellman can convince him to get his head out of his ass.

    TP is also on the hot-seat here. If Wellman turns him around, TP is a goner.

  34. JC-Thanks for the quote. I wonder if the stakes are even higher: Francoeur epitomizes the organization’s approach to player development. Those who read Braves Journal know the drill: scout a local Georgia HS player, find one with good character, get him to virutally commit to the Braves before the draft, draft him, sign him, develop him and then wait for returns to come in–which includes the home town discount. Unfortunately, it may also mean that it becomes more difficult to deal with the player when he struggles or has to be sent down. Now, the Braves are not going to change their mode of player development here, but Francoeur is no ordinary young plyer in their eyes. In fact, I believe that he has been a big part of the foundation they have been attempting to build.

    At this point, I just hope Wellman can make a difference, but I am not going to hold my breath…

  35. Many on this board have long noted TP’s poor performance as a hitting instructor, so replacing him might be a good next step to turning this season around (heck, kick him upstairs if necessary).

  36. Wren might be thinking as much: TP gets mentioned whenever writers talk about the post-Bobby Braves….

  37. Every good prospect in the minors for the Braves right now has a decent to very good walk rate. Hayward is 19 years old and will take a walk when offered. JF just didn’t listen or didn’t care when they talked about pitch selection, and he suffers for that now. He had better get better at it, or he will not make the level of player he thinks he can make.

  38. jesuschrist!!!! everyone got their wish and Frenchy is gone. now leave the f***ing guy alone. who cares what he says? last i checked, we were allowed to say what we want…… so he disagrees with the decision.big deal. wtf do you say when you disagree with something? i’d be pissed off too if i was in his shoes……….. or maybe you should demand a personal letter of apology for his lousy play.

  39. i never doubted that, Alex……i just never liked to see anyone kicked when they’re down( well, unless they’re a Yankee or a Gator)………its a cheap, chickenshit thing to do.

  40. How is anyone “kicking” him? It seems to me the near universal attitude is hope that this pays off. With respect to observations about his comments, don’t talk to the press if you don’t want people to discuss your views. He’s made over $3M playing baseball – I’d say that gives the folks who pay his salary ultimately, the end-consumer, every right to discuss his performance and demeanor.

  41. Explain to me how it is unfair to expect the guy to show a little class or grace. It’s not like he didn’t know he was struggling. If he’s frustrated with himself, that’s fine. But don’t badmouth the team who has given you every possible opportunity to succeed. No other situation in the majors would be better for him; no one would have given him half a season to figure this out, while attempting to win a pennant a the same time.

  42. Holy honking jet lag Batman–I’m strolling through Hartsfield after my red eye from the west got in about 7:00 this morning and saw the AJC headline about Francoeur being demoted. I’m guessing that must have been a dream …

    I haven’t seen anything but box scores for the past 10 days–I left the laptop home to spend time with family–but it doesn’t look like I missed much except the Frenchy demotion.

  43. Frank–I would say that you had pretty good timing: you missed an ugly series with Philly…

  44. I think this is aimed at more than just
    Frenchy. As bad as he has been, he is hardly the only reason the Braves are struggling. I think the organization is trying to send a message to the entire team that we aren’t going to put up with the bullshit play we have seen. I think it’s a good idea. I think a lot of the young players have played as if all they have to do is go out on the field as Atlanta Braves and they will win. They make too many mistakes, including McCann. It’s time to send a signal that these guys have to earn their stripes and not live off the laurels of past teams. Frenchy is just an example.

    As for Frenchy’s comments, I think he does feel entitled. He continues to act like he is an established star rather than a struggling young player. But whose fault is that? He had a TV commercial two weeks after coming up and he has been told, in so many words, that he is the face of the franchise. The way the Braves have handled him has a lot to do with his attitude.

  45. barrycuda is handling this situation about as maturely as Francoeur is.

    I don’t care how young he is—it’s pretty tough to argue that he couldn’t/shouldn’t be handling the situation better. I understand his frustration, too, but that doesn’t make whining about it—particularly the part about the damaged relationship with the organization—the right thing to do.

  46. Pendleton should have been gone long ago.

    Whatever “clutch hitting” is, we haven’t done it since TP has been around.

  47. does it really matter where Francoeur is right now? The fact is when he does return, lets say friday July 18th, we’ll be at least 8 or 9 games back and we’ll still be 4th in the division. Let the kid hang out for a couple of weeks and when our management wakes up and decides to be sellers for once, maybe he’ll get called back up and be able to relax and get some things figured out. Either way, this season should be all but lost by the break. He’s only part of the problem (there are a lot of people to share some of the blame), yet he may be the biggest

  48. I agree with jj3bagger’s comment as well. I don’t think Frenchy gets it. He still doesn’t think he deserves the demotion. His post-demotion comments are very disappointing.

  49. I do not believe that Francoeur is the biggest part of the Braves problems in 2008–but he may have the misfortune of being the most obvious. Given the parity in the National League, this season may still furnish Braves’ fans with some pleasant surprises, but if it winds up as the train wreck that it appears to be, it was a long time in the making.

    Does he get it? Probably not, but he will or else he won’t get to play. I think that he is nice guy and potentially a role model for kids, but he has never been the star that the Braves and Atlanta media sought to make him. At the very least we have come a long way from the consecutive game streak the idea that Francoeur in RF is daily and inevitable….

  50. On the other hand, gotta realize he is still 23…I guess he still has the right to be immature…

  51. His comments are discouraging, but what’s more discouraging is the evident mentality of the organization that is a “slump.” As many have posted here, yes, ‘he’s bad but not this bad.’ But the main point is that he’s BAD. In 1980 plate appearances, he has posted 96 walks. His career OPS+ – counting the very good half-season of baseball he played in 2005 – is 96. He may be slumping now, but he’s not cutting it even when he’s not slumping. He’s just not good. This is what makes Mark Bradley’s column so preposterous, this is what makes the players’ surprise so confusing, and this is what makes his comments so irritating. He shouldn’t try to get back to where he was; he should try to be at least league average.

  52. As for the NL West, I gotta think that both the D’Backs and Dodgers will have solid second halfs. Ultimately, the Dodgers should win that division. Penny and Furcal will come back and both Loney and Kemp will mature a bit more. Plus, Andruw can’t keep being that bad, right?

  53. kc,
    I don’t know if immaturity is a right–though it certainly is a pre-existing condition for a great many people (myself included).

  54. Well said Jeff, I guess I didn’t express myself correctly. What I meant is that I should not be surprised to see immaturity from a 23 years old kid.

  55. #52……..i get called things on a daily basis but immature is rarely one of them……..FYI, i’m not “handling” the situation at all………..i’ll leave that to you you guys who whine anout Frenchys’ whining.

  56. I don’t like JF”K”‘s comments either and don’t get his “surprise” but I do wish him the best and hope for a good return. I don’t know what’s going on in his head but I’d be frustrated as well and may have said something similar.

    I think this was a smart move and way to save his career before he had a total Rick Ankiel-type of meltdown. But look what RA did with his time in the minors?

    I think it was good for him to go to Miss. but I don’t like to bash the guy either. He does as Mac puts it “suck” but we know he’s got talent if he can get his act together he could make it work.

    ~JB

  57. I really don’t get why people are so worked up about The Chosen One. I mean, we all know that he’s not very good, right? And that his absence isn’t a huge part of the team’s success?

    So why don’t we just ignore him while he’s in Mississippi? Wouldn’t that be a nice change, not having to care about Frenchy?

    Or at least stop bagging on the guy. Yeah, he’s got an inflated ego, but at the same time, he was just told, “You’re not good enough at your job” after working at it hit entire life. That’s a bit of a shock to anyone, and is it really a surprise that he’s getting defensive about it? I mean, it’s not like “24-year old faces adversity for the first time, get a little defensive!” is headline news. So can we please stop treating it as such?

    He’ll either start to hit and come back or continue to suck and… well, come back a little bit later, I guess.

  58. “I mean, we all know that he’s not very good, right? And that his absence isn’t a huge part of the team’s success?”

    To the first sentence: my point is that the Braves seem blind to this. In 2006 he was bad–‘below replacement player’ bad; in 2007 he was at the replacement player level, maybe a bit better; and this year he has been one of the worst hitters in baseball. This is not a slump that can be corrected with a couple weeks in the minors. What concerns me is not him so much as the stock the team has put in him.

    To the second sentence: I’m not sure I would agree. Just putting a league-average guy in RF makes a significant difference in this lineup. The next problem is getting more out of one of the other outfield spots. Kotsay OR Blanco is fine–personally, I like Blanco in CF and batting leadoff–but putting both of them out there each night won’t cut it for the duration of the season.

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