Good riddance: a postmortem for the 2008 Atlanta Braves (Part II: The Good)

There were three players who were unquestionably good hitters on the 2008 Atlanta Braves. You can live with that, with enough ordinary hitters, but the Braves didn’t have enough of that, plus their three good hitters were:

1. Their 36-year-old All-Star third baseman, who managed 128 games played only because of ten pinch-hit appearances;
2. Their 24-year-old All-Star catcher, who played in 145 games, starting 132 and catching off the bench in six more, because the other catcher was a hamster;
3. Their 28-year-old first baseman, who was going to leave as a free agent so they traded him after he played 103 games.

So when you say that they had three good players, you have to keep in mind that the three combined for barely more than two full seasons’ worth of ABs, and that only because they overused McCann.

To be fair, there are some other players who can be seen as good when their roles are taken into account. The most controversial, of course, is Kelly Johnson. Hardball Times win shares rank him the third most-valuable player on the team after Chipper and McCann, slightly ahead of Teixeira, but that is partly just because he played a lot, more than anyone on the team but the Right Fielder Who Will Not Be Named. His massive September hot streak (probably the most extended positive run of his streaky career) allowed him to wind up as a somewhat above-average player — 14 points up (over park-adjusted league average) in OBP, 25 points in slugging. He played pretty good defense, too — nothing spectacular, but it was a minor plus, and a whole lot better than Prado.

So, of course, there is a movement to get him traded. I don’t fundamentally reject a trade out of principle, but some of this is just frustration from the streakiness, which the media and the team seem finally to have noticed three years after I brought it up here. I certainly don’t have any explanation for it (he doesn’t seem to be playing through injuries, which is my normal excuse for down streaks, and he doesn’t lose the strike zone when he’s not hitting, which is my other normal excuse) but it is my belief that trading a good player out of frustration is a bad idea, and a demonstration that you are running a bad franchise. Trading KJ to get a good player who can help at another position is a different matter.

Yunel Escobar was certainly a good defensive player this year, finishing second (because of missed time) in Fielding Bible plus/minus and putting up a good range factor in his first year as the Braves’ starting shortstop. Offensively, he was a good player at times. He hurt his shoulder on a fielding play, and until late in the season suffered a complete power outage. He slugged .401 for the season; if he can slug .448 (like he did in March and April) or .423 (like he did in August), and maintains his .366 OBP, he’s in good shape. If he hits like he did in September (.357/.460/.548) he’d be the biggest star in the game, but that’s not too likely… I maybe should save this for the full player analysis, but Yunel was terrible in the “little things” offensive categories, highlighted by his 24 double plays and some really peculiar bunt decisions. Bobby (or his replacement) probably should give Yunel a no-bunt order.

Past Chipper, McCann, Johnson, and Escobar, nobody else should be secure in a starting job. Several bench players were pushed beyond their capabilities. A bench of Gregor Blanco, Omar Infante, Martin Prado, and Greg Norton would not be bad at all, if maybe a little underpowered. But Blanco, Infante, and Prado played entirely too much in 2008. Of the three, Prado was the only one who played well, so he gets to be one of the “good”. Prado hit .320; I don’t believe for a minute that this is sustainable. But .320 is .320, and you don’t have to walk a whole lot or hit a lot of home runs to be valuable hitting .320. However, as Matt Diaz showed us, if you stop hitting .320 there’s not much less. Prado was at least as comical of a defensive player as Diaz, and statistically he was far worse; the Braves really suffered when he played second in front of Johnson. If the Braves trade the latter to “make room” for the former, it will be a colossal mistake.

The Braves’ “best” pitcher was Tim Hudson, so of course he got hurt, sending the season careening off the rails, or putting it out of its mercy, depending on your point of view. Jair Jurrjens was the only Braves pitcher to stay in the rotation all season, and thus almost inevitably their most valuable. He faded after the break, like most of the Braves’ pitchers, and I continue to maintain that he should have been shut down when the season was lost, but it’s hard to expect that, especially since none of the replacements could even give them five bad innings. Jorge Campillo pitched well until August, when the league caught up to him and he was batted around like everyone else. It winds up at league average, which wouldn’t be bad at all if he were the fourth or fifth starter. As the second starter, he was wanting.

No Braves reliever qualifies as “good”. Some were good at times, but the only one with a really positive ERA was Jorge Julio, who threw 12 1/3 meaningless innings. Everybody else got used up and spit out.

135 thoughts on “Good riddance: a postmortem for the 2008 Atlanta Braves (Part II: The Good)”

  1. Maybe they didn’t qualify as “good”, but Ohman and Infante both qualified IMO as “useful”. Both were of course used way too much, but Infante demonstrated an ability to play a bunch of different positions at least halfway competently (some better than others), and hit enough to not embarrass himself. He’s a joke hitting 4th or 5th, but that’s more a commentary on how bad our lineup was than on Infante specifically.

    Ohman wore down at the end due to overuse, but for most of the year he was a pretty reliable situational lefty out of the pen. He showed me enough that I want him back if he can be signed for something reasonable.

  2. I’ll cover that next time. Right now, the Braves are talking about adding “one slugger”, but they need to fix four positions if what the players did this year is typical of their ability.

  3. How can Dustin fucking Pedroia be the MVP — or even be considered in the running? If it’s anyone in that division, it’s ROY Evan Longoria, who led his team to the greatest worst-to-first since the ’91 Braves.

  4. Well, you can see their point. We only have so much money, and pitching is a major weakness.

    Hope Kotchman and Francoeur muddle by at league average and that Schafer is ready by midseason. Then in 2010 we could have Heyward and Flowers up during the season.

    The trouble is no-one affordable from the pitchers excites me that much. Dave O’Brien yesterday mentioned Lowe (36, therefore the end of the contract is a problem), Cain (tough to get without giving up big prospects), Dempster (will resign with the Cubs), Lohse (will resign with the Cardinals), AJ Burnett (injury risk, not really caring occasionally risk) and Brad Penny (flight risk).

    I still want to splurge on Sabathia.

  5. Well, he’s second in the AL in RC/27 and OPS, behind only Milton Bradley (a DH) in both. Pretty tough to be more valuable than that, IMO.

  6. My 2 cents on a continuation from the last thread on “luck” – I think the term is used as a catchall for what is basically a random variation. ububba said “If a guy hits .200 with runners on base in 2008, I say he sucked in 2008 in that situation. If you want to call it luck because he hit .300 in that situation the year before, go ahead.” And to an extent I agree with that. But the fact that these types of stats vary so much year-to-year makes me think that it is not really an intrinsic shortcoming (A-Rod) or strength (Jeter) in the players’ makeup that is the root cause.
    Although, honestly, the studies I’ve seen do tend to show that A-Rod is a choker & Jeter is clutch, so maybe they’re not the best example (well, stating it like that way overstates the case, and of course there were times when A-Rod was clutch & Jeter was un-clutch)…

  7. Nick C @ #8
    I agree with you 100% the pitching market stinks.
    I know i sound broken record like, but Hampton for one year makes sense.
    We have so many holes we cant trade for them all and sign 6 free agents, so we may need to keep him.

    Boyer had a good 1/2 year as well until he was trotted out every damned game for a month. 51 games before the all-star break is inexcusable.
    Bobby has Blaine and Ohman warming up right now just in case.

  8. but you’re simply wrong if you’re insinuating that sabermetricians aren’t studying baserunning, because a lot of strides have been made in recent years.

    I know they are and that’s great. That doesn’t change anything in my argument. Basically you (or somebody) ran the Braves component stats through a formula to estimate the number of runs a team like that would score. You looked at the number we did score, saw a delta, and declared luck to be the cause of that delta.

    I would submit that is wrong. A high OBP, low power team with plodding baserunners is going to consistently underperform that formula. That is predictable and hence not luck. If Whitey’s Cards put up those exact same percentages, they are going to overperform that formula. Predictable, not luck.

    I would further submit that if you put a guaranteed out in the middle of a lineup – a place a pitcher or manager can go if he’s in trouble – that is also going to help you underperform the formula. The fact that we gave the opposition the gift that is 652 Jeff Francoeur PAs is not bad luck, it’s – well – ridiculous of course.

    Formulas like the run predictor and pythag are fun to look at but people are way too eager to play the luck card when there is a delta.

  9. Let the record show that both Ozzie Guillen and Ron Gardenhire attempted to have their number two hitters bunt in the first inning. Lest we think Bobby is the only one fond of this counter-productive strategy.

    And they both failed and eventually hit into double plays. Lest we think the Braves are the only ones who can’t execute the fundamentals.

  10. That axe commercial where the dude turns into chocolate is one of the creepiest things I’ve seen in a long, long time.

  11. Great pitching & very impatient hitting tonight.

    So, we get the 2 LA teams and the 2 Windy City clubs. I guess I can put up with any WS, as long as it’s not BoSox-Cubs.

  12. Nice post Mac. I might have given Blanco a bit more credit b/c of his high obp. Better to have him as a 4 OF than a starter.

    @18–I’m with you in hoping not to see a Cubs-BoSox series. I’m on the Rays wagon this post-season.

  13. I’ll cover Blanco in the next section, which won’t be for several days — I have ordered the Sabermetric Encyclopedia, or whatever Sinins is calling it these days, and want to look some things up on it before tackling that outfield — but his slugging percentage is so low that it’s hard to justify playing him. If Anderson can slug .400 — which is possible — I think you have to take the hit and lose some OBP. Anderson’s a better defensive player, too.

  14. Division Series picks, for no good reason…

    Tampa over CWS in 4
    Boston over LAA in 5

    Phils over Brew Crew in 4
    Cubs over LAD in 5

  15. For all perspectives, I think the development of Gonzo is very positive. He struggled a bit in September, but I think he will be deadly next year.

  16. I still would like to advocate Anderson for starting CF, unless we somehow can aquire another CF. He plays good defense, and showed IMO, that he can handle the leadoff spot. When was the last time we had a leadoff hitter with double digit SB’s? He’ll never be a star, but he wont embarrass us either….

  17. I too agree with Robert and Ububba about the sabermetric overreliance on the “luck” factor. True, specific elements, such as RISP and things like that, do vary randomly and I concede that there is probably no such thing as a specific “clutch hitting” skill. But that doesn’t mean that team performance is simply random variation. Outcomes don’t just come out of thin air; they result from players doing or not doing something. It probably was bad luck that the Braves lost so many one-run games–or, more correctly, it was random variation that so many of the games the Braves lost were one-run games. That doesn’t mean that the Braves lost those games only because they were unlucky, as Rob Neyer seemed to harp on. They clearly did things that led them to losing those games, ie, squandering opportunities, bullpen not getting key outs, not making defensive plays. That’s not luck. Those losses could easily have been 5-2 instead of 3-2. The Braves may very well have “underachieved” based on various sabermetric meansures but, to me, that just means that they performed poorly in other aspects; eg, not being able to hit home runs. It wasn’t just luck in the sense that it was entirely random that could reverse next year. Obviously, of course, they were unlucky in having the injuries that they did, but the Braves won 72 games on merit.

  18. Buster Olney notes in today’s blog entry that Jake Peavy (along with Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, and Edwin Jackson) may well be available this offseason.

    I want to go on record now as predicting that Peavy will be in a Braves uniform on Opening Day 2009.

  19. I hope you’re right, Stu — there’s no pitcher I’d rather have, including Johan — but whatever Boston and New York want, Boston or New York get.

  20. I think Prado/Infante/Anderson/Norton would be a great bench. You really don’t want too much power from your bench players. More often than not, you want solid line drive hitter ( Think runner on second, PH for pitcher , or even leading off an inning ).
    I hope the Braves sell high on Prado. He is a good player, and would be a very good utility infielder. But if this year has anyone buying the mirage that he can be a regular, sell!

  21. 1) Peavy has a complete no-trade clause. I don’t know whether he’d be anti-Northeast, but I’m 100% sure he’d be pro-Atlanta.

    2) Would either of those teams go after him? The Yankees would probably rather throw money than prospects at their pitching woes, and I’m not sure the Red Sox are even looking for pitching.

    3) When it comes to FAs, you are right, but when it comes to trades, we can certainly compete, depending on what we’re willing to give up. I maintain that I see no untouchables in the system apart from Heyward and Schafer. And I might even be content to remove Schafer from that list for Peavy.

  22. I don’t know why Peavy would be made available as I would never trade him if I had him.

    What would you guys give up for him?

  23. Stu @ 32, regarding Peavy: there was an article on Peavy in Sports Illustrated before he signed his extension with the Padres. I want to say it was sometime in the 2007 season. Anyway, throughout the article it was heavily implied that Peavy wants to play for the Braves, including several quotes from Peavy on the subject that came just short of putting it in those exact terms. But in the same article he reiterated that he loves San Diego, so who knows. Padre’s ownership reportedly wants to trim payroll to around $50MM, I suppose this is what’s fueling the trade speculation.

    I agree that there would be no chance he wouldn’t approve a trade to Atlanta. Perhaps, if he is actually put on the market, this will give the Braves an edge. It would suck for the Padres to be held hostage by a no-trade clause, but they signed the contract knowing that it could happen. We would still have to offer a competitive package, but could maybe get away with dealing a little less talent than other teams would.

    It’s probably a pipe dream…but let’s hope its not

  24. Parish,
    As Olney notes, the Padres are aiming for something like a $50 million payroll, and Peavy would eat up a lot of that. The front office has noted that nobody is untouchable.

    As for what I’d give up, well, I wouldn’t hesitate to include at least Hanson and Gorkys Hernandez.

    Yep, as Alex R. can attest to, he’s talked about a desire to play for the Braves more than once. He’s from Alabama. I think it’s something less than a pipe dream—I’ve always believed that, if he ever became available, the Braves would get him.

  25. Yes, I’m curious to hear San Diego’s rationale for dealing Peavy.

    As for as the Yankees go, there’s still a bit of a struggle between Cashman & The Baby Bosses as to the club’s direction. Cash (who just signed on until 2011) seems to be tied to the prospects, but they will unquestionably attempt to throw a bag of money at one or two starting pitchers.

  26. I wouldn’t blink on Hanson or Gorkys either (or both if they were the only “top tier” prospects in the deal). For the immediate future I wouldn’t want to include Schafer, but if it came down to Schafer or Heyward I would let Schafer go. That’s where I think the no-trade clause situation would give us an advantage. Obviously we would have to give up 1 or 2 out of our top handful of guys but Wren may be able to put a player or two off limits. Similar to the Johan Santana situation when the Mets didn’t have to give up Martinez…but then again Peavy under contract until 2012 below market value is worth a lot more than Santana in ’08 plus an extension window.

  27. Stu, somebody on here concluded that Heyward should be the only untouchable in a trade for Peavy. I would concur. I think it would cost us something similar to what we traded for Tex, but in this case, I would not feel like we were overpaying.

    Something like this:
    Hanson, Freeman, Gorkys Hernandez, Diamond.

    Maybe we could get away with throwing in Hicks or Flowers instead of Freeman. And if I could get Francoeur in that package instead of Gorkys, I would.

  28. “Really, Kev, I’d feel terrible if you didn’t get a major leaguer or two in the deal. I’ll give you Francoeur and Boyer, what do you say?”

  29. LOL @ 41

    “Or we have this slugging infielder. We really don’t want to give him up, but…it is Jake Peavy, am I right? If you don’t take him now then you’ll remember him later: Marvelous Martin Prado.”

  30. Here’s something I ran across this morning:

    Worst on-base percentages since 1901 (200 at-bat minimum):

    1. Bill Bergen, 1909, .163
    2. Bill Bergen, 1906, .175
    3. Bill Bergen, 1910, .180
    4. Bill Bergen, 1911, .183
    4. Tony Pena, 2008, .185

  31. Maybe we get lucky and San Diego takes the quantity over quality approach that the A’s did with the Haren trade:

    Jeff Francoeur (big upside! promise!), Charlie Morton, Brent Lillibridge, Brandon Jones, Todd Redmond, Steve Marek

    I would still feel bad for San Diego (which probably means this isn’t enough!)

  32. Yeah, that trade would help San Diego though. How? Well it would help them secure a couple years of top-5 picks.

  33. Peavy would be very nice, but can we afford to empty the farm for him? We would still need 2 more pitchers and at least 2 more outfielders with nothing left to trade. And what if he goes Bedard on us? Didn’t Peavy have some arm issues this year?

  34. #46

    I think the preferred phrase at the time was, “Bergen must have the daguerreotypes”. :)

  35. Tried about ten times and my high was 38. I don’t see how it’s possible to score in the 50s.

  36. I don’t think the Braves would be emptying the farm. It’s pretty full and a couple of players seem blocked.

    We probably do not need both Schafer and Hernandez. Tyler Flowers will be on prospectors radar screen this year and is either a catcher (McCann) or a first baseman (Freeman). If we get Peavy, we can certainly afford to give up a starter. I think the Pads would require Hanson and maybe another mid-rotation type arm.

    If the Braves got away with Peavy and did not give up Heyward, Hanson, or Schafer, it would be a steal. I guess it may be possible if a trade is centered around KJ.

  37. I’d give up Hanson before I’d give up KJ, but I’m guessing that’s a pretty unpopular sentiment around here, even among KJ supporters.

  38. I think I would too, Stu. There is so much uncertainty around a pitching prospect, even after he has performed in AA.

    The question still remains, what would the Padres want?

  39. OK, Hanson, Schafer and Flowers seems like a reasonable package. Say the Padres accept that. What does that leave us to trade? Heyward and Freeman become untouchable. Unless we acquire a real centerfielder, Hernandez becomes the CF of the future so he’s close to untouchable. Lillibridge, Prado, and Brandon Jones aren’t going to bring an impact player.

    We’d still have a thin rotation (Peavy, Jurrjens, and…?) and no outfield. Peavy rocks, but this smells like the Mariners last winter. Emptying the farm to acquire an Ace for team that won’t compete either way.

  40. For the record, Baseball America has Hanson and Schafer’s scouting reports up. Hanson ranked the 9th best prospect in the Southern League and Schafer the 13th.

    Tommy Hanson
    “Mississippi had the best second-half record in the Southern League, thanks in part to the emergence of Hanson. After dominating the high Class A Carolina League, he went 3-3, 5.27 in his first eight starts with Mississippi. Then he tossed a 14-strikeout no-hitter against Birmingham on June 25, the start of a 5-1, 1.41 surge that included 79 whiffs in 57 innings.

    Hanson works off a lively 90-94 mph fastball. He has a good 12-to-6 curveball and a changeup that rates as a plus pitch at times. At midseason he started mixing in a plus slider, which he broke out for the first time in the no-hitter.

    Hanson has clean arm action with a lag in his release point behind his right ear, which creates some deception in his delivery and makes hitters pick up the ball late. Though he can throw his entire repertoire for strikes, he can cut down on his walks by not trying to be too fine with his pitches.”

    Jordan Schafer
    “After a breakout season in 2007, Schafer ranked as the top prospect in the Braves system. But just four games into the year, Schafer was suspended for 50 games for an human growth hormone-related infraction despite never failing a drug test. He struggled initially after his return, but he kicked into gear down the stretch to help Mississippi win the SL championship.

    Schafer’s tools are legitimate. He’s a very good athlete who generates plus bat speed with his quick hands and wrists. He has a good approach at the plate and power to all fields. At times his swing remains on one plane through the zone, which gave him problems against lefties (.196/.306/.299), though he showed the ability to make in-game adjustments.

    In the field, Schafer’s instincts help him read the ball well off the bat, giving him excellent jumps and range in center. He has solid speed and well above-average arm strength.”

  41. BP hinted that the Giants might be interested in francouer, what do you think we could get for him? Matt Cain perhaps?

  42. I’d say Francoeur would rank at the bottom of that list.

    I think Fielder will move this offseason, and if the Phillies have any sense they’ll sell high on Howard as well.

  43. Guys,

    I just read a quote from a commenter to Rob Neyer in one of yesterday’s pieces (about ow the Cardinals paid too much for too long to Kyle Lohse) that is appropos here.

    “one $20 million dollar pitcher is worth more than 2 $10 million pitchers”. Think about that one.

    If we get Peavy without giving up Hanson and without giving up more than one of Jo Jo, Chuck James, Morton then we have truly ADDED a pitcher. Otherwise, we have just “swapped” pitchers. We can “add” a pitcher in free agency. We also have the unique (to the modern Braves) quirk that we don’t have to concede our first round pick this year if we sign a Type A guy.

    I feel that Hanson would be just as good of a @5 as any of our other candidates and that the only reason to hold him back from that next year would be to let him come up after June 10 to save an arb year (and we will have somebody t the bottom that is either injured or ineffective by then).

    I like a trade for Peavy. Maybe not as much as some of you. Peavy’s “out” years are near market. He has had some arm problems. The “value” in Peavy as compared to a free agent is basically the salary savings in about the first 3 years. Those are let’s guess, 15 million.

    Some guy on THT has developed a cost of free agent model to compare the value of prospects to major leaguers in trades. I would hope the Braves do a good job of figuring that before making that deal.

  44. If the Braves were to sign a type A free agent, I don’t think the first round pick will be forfeited because the pick resides in the top ten. I believe the other team would receive the Braves second round pick or a supplemental first round pick.

  45. this is somewhat comforting…per mlb rumors

    The Braves will monitor the trade market, but their top prospects are not available.

  46. It’s a tough line to draw. If they don’t trade their top prospects, how realistic is it to become competitive next year? At the same time, they have a lot of holes, so does it even make sense for them to shoot to contend next year? On the other hand, given the track record of Braves pitching prospects, can you assume that Hanson or whoever will really develop? I’m glad I don’t have Wren’s job now; JS seems to have gotten out at the right time, whether by coincidence or not.

  47. Per Baseball America’s Jim Callis, the Giants will have the #6 pick in the 2009 MLB Draft and the Braves will have the #7 pick.

    If two teams have identical records (like the Giants and Braves this year), then the team with the worse record the previous year (SF Giants) gets the better pick in the current draft.

    So there you go.

    (Maybe we can get Aaron Crow since the Nats got cheap and he’ll be back in the draft. There may be better options, but that’s a pretty good one.)

  48. @7 By the way, I agree with AAR, Pedroia would be a terrible AL MVP pick. He’s a great 2B, but MVP? Not even on his own team–gimme Youk this year.

    For the AL, I still like Josh Hamilton. He’s a CF and CF is not all that different from 2B on the defensive spectrum/offensive expectation scale. (Milton Bradley was definitely sweet this year, but didn’t play enough games)

  49. Rotation:

    Hampton (now, now – watch your mouth)
    Glavine, JoJo or James – (gotta have someone that won’t last more than five innings so that Buddy can have his turn)

    Hudson and/or Smoltz return at some point as pretty dang good reinforcements.

    Batting Order:

    Some guy in RF

    *Yes, I’d heard we traded Tex away. Well, after he gets his ring, he might be tempted to return. This is why it’s so important to trade for Peavy now to convince others that we’re contenders. If not Tex, then Adam Dunn.

    Hudson/Smoltz/Moylan – surely two of them will return at some point in the year.

    Plus, our luck simply cannot stay this bad unless Ted’s deal with the Devil is coming due …

  50. Isnt Moylan suppose to be ready by ST?

    Tex said in a article the other day that he enjoyed ATL, but his time here was up. Dont see him coming back.

  51. Moylan will be back in May, Hudson September.

    What’s the ruling on Smoltz, do we have to sign him to a contract before the arbitration deadline or will we come to an arrangement whereby we offer him arb and he rejects it?

  52. Turn to TBS and you will find out what John Smoltz’s next job will be. He is very good in the booth

  53. Dix,
    And Wake Forest is 1-0 vs Ole Miss this year.

    Go look up the all-time stats & get back to me. You really won’t like those stats.

  54. You want to talk to a Michigan fan about all time stats and argue that they actually mean something today? That’s fine, but I typically ignore the 10 or 11 national championships we won before 1950 because in my mind they really mean nothing anymore.

    Besides Ububba, I don’t understand why you’re instantly so defensive. I didn’t even make a comment about relative strengths of schedules, just posted a link to someone who compiled a chart of each conferences head to head records against other conferences since 1998. It’s as if you think I’m attacking the SEC, which I’m on record here as saying is the best conference. That article made me question my blind adherence to that notion though, albeit briefly.

    Why don’t you send me a link to the all time stats. I don’t know a good place to see them conveniently laid out. Also, my post wasn’t directed to you, so I don’t know why I need to get back to you, so much as maybe reconsider my opinion on all time conference strength after seeing those all time records.

    Either you think Ole Miss sucks or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways and point to bottom of the SEC Ole Miss beating top of the food chain Florida as being a sign that top to bottom the SEC is strongest, but then at the same time admit that Ole Miss sucks because they lost to Wake, who also sucks. What’s your point about Ole Miss vs Wake?

    If you think 10 years is too small a sample size, and are likening it to one seasons worth, that is ridiculous

  55. Anybody understand how Mark DeRosa went from a no-hit utility infielder for us to starting and already homering for the pennant favorites?

  56. leave it to good ol’ TBS to give us Tony Gywnn….the guy with the most annoying voice in sports……………….good football argument guys. i enjoy the fact that the Gators lost to a team that lost to a team that lost to Navy.

  57. #88

    Aw, no more “hooooo!!” from Smitty. SS wasn’t much of a color analyst, but I liked his sunny disposition. Nique is more earnest, but generally lacking in the personality department…

  58. Michigan does suck but that’s irrelevant. Just don’t say they can’t beat the SEC. Check the all time stats. You really won’t like those…

  59. Plus this year Michigan would be like the 10th best SEC team. You guys need to stop with the “BIg 10 is soooooo great, we can beat Akron 5 times a year!”

    Spare us…

  60. i’ve said this the past couple of years after the season and i will say it again: the major downfall that our team has is the “business-like” approach at the game and in the clubhouse.

    i wouldn’t mind throwing some controversy into our clubhouse. we haven’t had a player to put people in the stands since rocker (and he was an idiot). point being, the braves need to get a little adventurous in their free agent signings this year and go with a guy that might stir up some shit every once in a while, but give the team (and the fans) a little energetic boost.

    i could almost guarantee that the attendance at turner field would go up 3-4,000 if we were to go out and get manny ramirez to man left field.

    i do realize that baseball is not a game of raw energy and passion like football or basketball, but it’s nice to have one asshole on a team of good guys.

    sign manny to a 2-year, 40 mill deal
    sign roger clemens to a 1-year deal with performance incentives reaching 10 mill
    sign smoltz to a 1-year 8 mil deal deal.
    trade kelly johnson and tommy hanson to san diego for jake peavy.

    2008 roster:




  61. Yes, I do believe that Michigan is the only Big 10 school with a winning record in bowl games vs. the SEC. I don’t remember those numbers, but I did look up these:

    SEC vs. Big 10, All-Time: 65-46-2 (.584)
    SEC vs. Big 10, Bowl Games: 33-20-0 (.623)

    These are based on historical conference affiliations, so these numbers don’t include, for example, SWC-era Arkansas or indy-era Penn State.

    Of course, the Big 10 didn’t begin to play non-Rose bowl games until the 1970s, and for years the SEC had issues playing schools with black players, so evaluate those facts how you like.

    While we’re at it:
    SEC vs. ACC, all-time: 251-117-10 (.677)
    SEC vs. ACC, bowls: 29-13-0 (.690)

    SEC vs. Pac-10, all-time: 59-37-5 (.609)
    SEC vs. Pac-10, bowls: 7-7-1 (.500)

    SEC vs. Big 12, all-time: 20-17-0 (.541)
    SEC vs. Big 12, bowls: 13-9-0 (.591)

    SEC vs. Big East, all-time: 14-19-0 (.424)
    SEC vs. Big East, bowls: 6-6 (.500)

    SEC vs. Big 8, bowls: 13-19-1 (.409)
    Couldn’t find all-time stats

    SEC vs. SWC, bowls: 32-26-3 (.549)
    Couldn’t find all-time stats

    SEC vs WAC, bowls: 5-3 (.625)
    Couldn’t find all-time stats.

  62. yes, that was the main problem in a SEA of problems, but so was our youthful outfield sucking beels.

    aside the clemens’ signing, nothing seems too outlandish to me (i admit that the clemens thing is a little far fetched). however, people would come to watch him pitch, and they would be excited to be at the ballpark, unlike the funeral procession that has been turner field the past 5 years.

  63. hey, at least the Cubbies lost. Let their misery continue. As long as Lilly is there, I hope they lose. Its funny how the city has already talked about banning the sale of alcohol after the CLINCHING game. Thats probably a good idea after the Dodgers handle them. Could you imagine a sweep with Lowe, Billingsley, Kuroda???

  64. Either you think Ole Miss sucks or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways and point to bottom of the SEC Ole Miss beating top of the food chain Florida as being a sign that top to bottom the SEC is strongest, but then at the same time admit that Ole Miss sucks because they lost to Wake, who also sucks. What’s your point about Ole Miss vs Wake?

    We’ve been through this. Ole Miss beating Florida shows that the SEC is top to bottom the toughest conference ever, ever, ever. Oregon State beating USC proves that USC really isn’t very good. Ole Miss losing to a pedestrian Wake team is ignored, Oregon State losing to a damn good Penn State team is mentioned ten times an hour.

    This is how it works. Try to keep up.

    Enjoyed the chart in #81 (of course). All-time stats don’t really do it for me, just too many factors in play there to take those stats seriously. I say start from the beginning of the scholarship limited era and go from there.

  65. “We have the financial resources necessary and we have the prospects,” Wren said. “So we can go either way [by filling needs via trade or free agency]. Not every other club can say that.”

    “I think the addition of one bat would make a significant difference and we need some players to rebound. I hate to keep using Jeff Francoeur when talking about this, but we need him to come back and hit like he did in previous seasons.”

    Providing a sense that this season didn’t force him to develop a “win at all costs” mind-set, Wren essentially made it clear that he won’t be dangling top prospects like Jordan Schafer, Jason Heyward, Tommy Hanson, Gorkys Hernandez or Freddie Freeman on the trade market.

  66. Ole Miss doesn’t suck. They’re actually quite talented but are the Buster Douglas of the SEC. Really good or really bad – sometimes in the same game.

    Like Douglas against Tyson, Ole Miss knew they had to focus or get killed.

    Both focused. Both scored huge upsets over opponents who didn’t bring it all.

    In the Vandy game, Ole Miss dumbassed away a certain victory. Snead must have brought that line of Jim McMurtry’s crank with him from Austin and saved it for the Vandy game.

  67. Mike Tyson sucked too though, he just had never fought anyone even remotely decent. Also, staying out of jail, like staying healthy, is part of being a good athlete. Tyson was ultimate suck and probably had the shortest prime of any elite athlete except Len Bias.

  68. #95

    i agree with your analysis for getting manny. i would do that and wait for the young ones to mature (Heyward for example).

    but clemens? UMMMMMMM hell no.

    that peavy trade will not happen, because the padres will want B Jones and Freeman (see the Haren trade…6 players…and this is PEAVY we’re talking about…only making 18 mil and under control for another 5 years…). i would LOVE that…but hanson’s gonna be a monster…

    who mans 2B? prado? hahahahahhahahahahaha…

    IF the padres do it for KJ, B. Jones and Medlin AND we sign Orlando Hudson…im for it.

  69. Clemens and Bonds are both available and both would be a large improvement over current players on the roster.

    Signing Manny would be awesome.

    If we’re going for clubhouse discord, why not bring back Maddux and resign Javy as a backup catcher to catch only on the days Maddux pitches?

    Also, I’m surprised and a tad disappointed that no one has yet advocated moving Chipper to first and bringing back Ken Caminiti. That move alone would solve all our pitching problems. Having a zombie third baseman would make other teams think twice before advancing past second base.

  70. Yeah, I remember that tie like it was yesterday. A Cherubim managed to block a 30-yard FG at the end of regulation. Obviously it was before they implemented OT.

    SEC vs. Ditka?

  71. Never would have thought I’d see so much discussion about Ole Miss on here this morning.

    I don’t think Wake is that bad. They just craped the bed against Navy with Skinner having 6 turnovers.

  72. “God” actually coached Kentucky, Texas A&M & Alabama. I’ve seen the pictures of him walking on water, but then strangely losing to Notre Dame.

    “The Angels,” I can’t tell you about.

  73. “IF the padres do it for KJ, B. Jones and Medlin AND we sign Orlando Hudson…im for it.”

    yeah I think all Braves fans would be. With Peavy’s contract, his cost would be outrageous. They would expect to get at least 3 to 4 of our top 10 prospects and some others to follow. His price would be higher than Haren’s

  74. By the way, and not that I’m advocating it, but Chipper’s latest comments indicate that, while he would like to retire a Brave, he would not necessarily retire if he were traded (he wants a few more years to solidify his HOF credentials) and would not necessarily block a trade if it would help the Braves (although he would restrict the teams he would go to). I can’t see this happening unless the Braves are really struggling and just decide to tear it all down and start over. But he would bring a fair haul of prospects I think.

    Also, Chip Carey watch: twice in the last couple of weeks, he has made egregious mistakes on calls. In one game, Ryan Howard hit “a flare . . .and that flare is going out of the park.” Last night, he called a ball playable by the right fielder that ender up hitting off the top of the wall. I think Skip could do a better job even now.

  75. Re: #119

    I guess Zombie Skip is as good an idea as Zombie Caminiti.
    Maybe better.

    (Sorry so sarcastic today)

  76. @121 I disagree. Zombie Cox is not doing so hot, what makes you think Zombie Skip would be of any use. Zombie Caminiti serves a very specific purpose, i.e. eating the brains of opposing baserunners, or at least threatening to do so.

  77. Whereas if Zombie Skip were teamed with Chip, he would starve to undeath.

    Okay… As I said yesterday, I’ve got the Sabermetric Encyclopedia on order; it’s probably the best tool to judge ridiculously, historically bad hitting like the Braves’ outfield this year. So I’m thinking Parts III and IV will be delayed. But Francoeur was so bad that you don’t really need stats; he was so bad that he really needed to be seen to be believed. So what do you think, should I go ahead and write Part IV ahead of Part III?

  78. Padres have filed a $1 million grievance against Khalil Greene because of a self inflicted injury.

    Could we just offer them $10 million for Peavy?

  79. You ought to start a new blog devoted to Francoeur’s achievements in the field of excellence at sucking

  80. Mac,
    Your blog, your call. But, yes, I believe the Frenchy entry should be done with as much perspective as one can muster.

    Listening to the CWS/TB game on Tampa’s home station via They just had a surprise “guest spot” from Dick Vitale. Very unfair on the broadcaster’s part. It feels like my ears have been mugged.

  81. Dukie V?

    He began blathering and I hopped out of my chair, reaching for my pair of Altec Lansings. It was a brief assault.

    I have enough trouble during basketball season, but don’t bum-rush me with Vitale during the ALDS. Please…

  82. Hey great idea about signing Clemens. While we are at it, sign Whitey Ford and Walter Johnson to fill out the rotation. If we trade KJ, we could just sign Ty Cobb or Rogers Hornsby…and to solve our Power problem, we could get Babe Ruth to play left and Mickey Mantle to play Cf….what a lineup that would be….

  83. he was so bad that he really needed to be seen to be believed. So what do you think, should I go ahead and write Part IV ahead of Part III?

    Absolutely. I was surprised “The Good” was so long. We may need to build some more internets to house “The Bad” and “The Ugly”.

    Also, Chip Carey watch: twice in the last couple of weeks, he has made egregious mistakes on calls.

    Maybe it was the larger national audience, but Chip had the dial on ‘tiresome and ridiculous’ turned to the max setting for last night’s Angels game.

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