Braves 11, Pirates 1

Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – Box Score – April 19, 2009 – ESPN

Say what? Did the teams exchange uniforms?

Well, Chipper was back and that helped (he had a hit and a walk and scored twice). McCann is out with a continuing eye problem, but his replacement, David Ross, was one of the hitting stars of the day, going 2-4 with a homer and a double, two runs scored and three RBI. Francoeur also drove in three, including the first two in the first inning to break the scoring drought. Prado hit a three-run homer in the fourth that gave the Braves a comfortable (for any other bullpen) 6-0 lead. And Schafer had three hits and threw a man out at second. Everybody had a hit.

And Javier Vazquez was outstanding, going six innings and striking out eight while walking only one, allowing five hits and no runs. He was only seriously threatened a couple of times, and I don’t believe the Pirates ever got anyone to third base off of him. The Good Moylan showed up, and needed only seven pitches to get through his traditional seventh inning, while Bennett pitched the eighth. Klinger Parr, however, spoiled the shutout by hitting a man with the bases loaded in the ninth. There’s really no reason for him to be here and if the Braves had any sense they’d send him down and bring up Diory Hernandez for an extra infielder, or Gregor Blanco for an outfielder, or even Sammons to back up Ross if McCann misses more time. But you have to have a huge bullpen, apparently.

Anderson started and hit cleanup (against a lefthander) for some unknowable reason. He had a double, though he didn’t hit the ball well, and looked his usual 33 RPM of a 45 RPM record in the outfield before leaving with a strained muscle. DL him, please.

101 thoughts on “Braves 11, Pirates 1”

  1. Hi, every(yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn)one. I’m Garrett (yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn) Anderson, and I’m here to, um (sigggggggggggggggggggh), play base(yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn)ball.

    (whiff)

  2. Yes, please disable Anderson. I’ll give him a pass at the bat since it’s April 19, but if the guy can’t even run and play the field, he shouldn’t be playing.

  3. Talk about a bad bullpen – those Nats gave all 3 of those games away. They could have swept the fish.

  4. We had a hard enough time winning games with Mark Teixeira batting clean-up. Anderson shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the #4 spot.

  5. Saw Hanson had a so-so outing today. The K’s were still there though he got touched for some runs. I have a feeling he could be nearly as effective at the major league level.

    I am no advocating bringing him up now, though.

  6. I’m glad everyone is so fired up about the big outfield signing. And folks really wanted to give Wren an ‘A’ for the offseason…

  7. Jeff Francoeur has been pretty impressive. That said, despite his batting average being nearly 90 points higher than Kelly Johnson’s, their OBPs are essentially identical.

    I fear Francoeur’s batting average is much more likely to come down than his walk rate is to go up.

  8. I’m still amazed that instead of being happy for Francoeur that he’s hitting well, we just compare him to someone who’s doing better than he is. Maybe I shouldn’t be so amazed that people have such a bent against the dude. People want him to fail so they can ridicule him for failing, then when he doesn’t fail, he still gets ridiculed. Man, if he didn’t have a hot wife and lots of money and friends to enjoy, I would say he’s being mistreated…

  9. #4, I see Cody Johnson is still hitting home runs. Quite impressive to OPS well over 1.000 when your OBP is aout .300.

  10. I am thoroughly impressed with Francouer right now. He has made significant adjustments to his approach and is a better ball player than last year.

    I still see the future as bright with the Braves, if we have a 10 game improvement over last year we are headed the right way.

  11. Now… Coming into today Frenchy also had a .351 BABIP which will likely prove unsustainable.

    Nevertheless, I am thinking of this as a rebuilding year to get set to make a run in 2010. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pulling for the team to do as well as possible this season, but the future is bright

    Next season, Schafer starts with a year of MLB under his belt, Jurrjens has 2+ and Hanson has about half a season.

    Does anyone know how Hudson’s 2010 option is set up? Even w/o him, next year’s rotation could be among top two or three in the majors.

    There’s even an off-chance that Freeman and/or Heyward could be ready for a mid-season call up in 2010…

  12. Rob, you really overreact a lot in regards to Francoeur. I wasn’t comparing him to someone doing better…Francoeur is probably doing better than Johnson. He’s doing great so far, I’ve been impressed.

    Can’t I say the current walk rate worries me some without you donning your pink Francoeur jersey and posting another Chris Crocker-esque “leave Frenchy alone” rant?

  13. Actually, KJ is doing better than Francoeur. His OBP and SLG are both higher.

    The point is that Francoeur should be left the heck alone when our problem (if we really even have a problem) is definitely not Francoeur. Seriously, you have plenty of other things to talk about than Francoeur. It really just gets annoying, Dan.

  14. I question the competence of BABIP for batters. As an above-average batter that regularly hits line drives (BABIP of .700, can’t remember where exactly I saw the stat, so feel free to refute), you will have a higher BABIP than a below-average batter that hits ground balls regularly.

    That being said, your higher (or lower) BABIP will not be as much a function of luck, but an indication of your skill as a batter.

    BTW, does anybody have a list of the BABIP leaders for 2008?

  15. Let’s see here, in the recap thread for today’s 11-1 victory, we have a few comments about how much people dislike Garret Anderson. #9 think he should never play again, and #11 says he should be nowhere near the cleanup spot.

    He batted cleanup and was 1-2 today with a double and a run scored… am I missing something?

    I’m not saying he’s great, and I think it makes sense to disable him and let him rest, instead of throwing him out there with nagging injuries, but maybe we should try to keep the criticisms to where/when he deserves it.

  16. Wren still deserves a borderline “A” for the offseason (I gave him a “B+.”). He had more to accomplish in a single offseason than could reasonably be expected, especially considering the options available. Most on here thought this was likely a rebuilding year. Wren did a great job of keeping the future intact while taking a major step towards contention.

    That does not mean that G. Anderson was a great signing or that Wren didn’t screw up elsewhere.

    I wholeheartedly disagree with Chief N’s assertion that the franchise is “going to hell in a handbasket.” This franchise is on the way to being relevant again. What’s more, Chief, if this team has been as bad as you claim they are after every loss, then how could you expect it to rebuild in 1 year?

  17. Frenchy’s been great, and while it is disappointing to not see him take very many walks, he is doing a better job of working counts. And very importantly, he’s no striking out nearly as much as he has in the past. His K-rate of 11% is the same as McCann’s. He still takes stupid swings from time to time and first-pitch swings when he shouldn’t. But all of this is much less frequent than last year and is a sign of improvement. I don’t buy that he’s a .300 hitter yet, but I like where things are going.

    As for Garrett Anderson, I don’t mind playing him against RHPs (you can criticize the signing, but I don’t think he’s any worse than Brandon Jones would be), but there’s no reason to start him over Diaz against a lefty. None. At all.

  18. In similar news, Francoeur, the guy who went 2-5 with a 2B, 3 RBIs and 2 RS is being criticized because he doesn’t walk enough.

    As for his BAbip, in 2007 he had a .337 on balls in play for the season, so he’s kept it up in a similar range over 162 games before. It’s hard to judge someone’s willingness to take a walk through 12 games, especially when they’re hitting .333 over that stretch, but from the at-bats I’ve seen he’s looking much more patient and 100% more confident with the strike zone.

  19. Well, he doesn’t walk enough. But he’s done a lot better so far this year in general, and maybe he’ll keep improving.

  20. I like those moves by the Nationals. I’ve liked Bergmann for a long time, ever since he beat Smoltz twice in a week a couple of years ago. He’s got great stuff if he can get a handle on it. I like Mock too. And, frankly, it’s great to see a team take matters into their own hands and shake things up.

    Gadfly, when your team loses 5 games in a row, and gets shut out twice in a row at home by the Pittsburgh Freaking Pirates, there are probably a couple areas for improvement. Will you mind terribly if I share my irrational homer fanboy thoughts on these areas for improvement, from time to time?

  21. A Braves blowout in the afternoon. A Hawks playoff blowout at night. And a scintillating Devils OT playoff win to cap it off. Perfect sports day.

  22. Had to laugh at a couple of prognosticators saying Jermaine O’Neal would find the “fountain of youth” in this series. Just because they need him to do it doesn’t mean he can. Horford, to paraphrase Gen. Schwarzkopf, can go over, under, around, and through him.

  23. @34: It doesn’t bother me if you’d like to vent Alex. It certainly is a necessary part of being a fan. I just think it kind of looks silly to vent about our problems on the recap of a game we dominated, where the problem you identify actually contributed to the domination, and wasn’t a problem at all.

    Believe me, you’ll have plenty of other chances to vent about Garret, so maybe we should take today to soak up a little enjoyment for the first time this week. Just a suggestion.

  24. Another suggestion, telling others how to enjoy something is really annoying. Oh wait…that isn’t a suggestion.

    –insert suggestion here– Let’s call it the wish box.

    I wish our bullpen would not lose us games.

  25. #15

    I don’t think anyone here is hoping Francoeur will fail. It’s just that some of us on here don’t think that this level of success will last. It seems like common sense to me. His BABIP is very high and eventually that will come down a bit, and he will not be batting .330ish all year.

    That said, his approach and swing does look a lot better this year.

  26. On Garret Anderson,

    It is a little shrill on here. I think age has caught up with his legs. What he needs is a DL trip and a minor league rehab to get all the muscles moving together. Then, he probably would be as useful of an outfielder as anybody the Braves have in the organization not named Diaz, Schafer, or Francoeur.

    So, it doesn’t make sense to release him now. It does make sense to DL him, now. Then, use him in a platoon, or less, with a pinch hit appearance every few days.

  27. This is merely an observation, not a criticism — Francoeur has benefited from several weakly hit balls that have fallen in. I’ve seen several jam shots and broken bats from him. He’s not exactly driving the ball to the wall.

    But he’s looking foolish less often, which is progress. And despite the moaning about Joe’s obsession with hitting the ball the other way, it’s what Francoeur needed to do. Sooner or later he’s going to have to integrate his power stroke into that approach, so there’s still a ways to go.

  28. All I have ever wanted to see from Francoeur is development. Last year we saw a regression. This year, in a small sample size, I’ll say Francoeur has shown development, or at the very least, the potential to develop.

    A lot of us here were worried last year that he was ruining himself and would dig a hole he could never climb out of. We needed to see some progress, especially mentally, in order to have confidence in his future as an MLB player.

    Even though he still has a way to go, I no longer think Francoeur is a lost cause, and this makes me happy.

  29. I don’t want any Braves player to fail. But I’m more concerned about preventing the team from failing than preventing unproductive players from having hurt feelings. If Garret Anderson can play well enough to be a net benefit to the 25-man roster, providing better offense, defense, and “veteran leadership” than any other corner outfield option — including Greg Norton, Brandon Jones, and Gregor Blanco — then I’m happy to keep him. Considering his age, bad legs, attenuated skills, and always-poor on base skills, I am dubious that this will happen. But, hey, if he catches lightning in a bottle, great.

    Likewise with Francoeur. He’s maddening to root for because his talents are manifest and his results rarely are. Right now he’s hitting well, and years of cheering for him have left me flinching whenever I see him do well, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But I like what Sansho said about him looking foolish less often. I certainly don’t want him to suck. I’m sort of trying to prevent myself from being surprised, which isn’t perhaps the most charitable thing.

  30. If the Hawks share the ball like they did in the first half, they are a scary bunch.

    Howevvah …

  31. Is there any update on McCann? If he needs to correct this thing, why isn’t he just being DL’d? Why would the Braves wait? His results have obviously been lousy since the first weekend of the year, and if it has anything to do with the eye then it’s simply myopic for him to try and ‘play through it.’

  32. Game tonight is likely to be rained out. It’s pouring here and is supposed to rain most of the day.

  33. Also, here’s something I wrote last night on Chop-n-Change:

    Schafer has serious contact problems. He has 18 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances, which is a K% of 36.7%, and is on pace for 243 strikeouts through 162 games.

    Adam Dunn, baseball’s most prolific whiffer — he has 200 more strikeouts since 2002 than Mike Cameron, his closest competitor, and set the all-time single-season strikeout record in 2004 with 195 — has a career K% of 26.4%, 10% lower than Jordan’s.

    Jose Hernandez, the man who nearly set the all-time single-season strikeout record in 2002, had a strikeout ratio of 32.3% that year. Hell, Rob Deer had a career strikeout ratio of 31.2%.

    Jordan needs to start whiffing less. A lot less.

  34. Interestingly, Schafer has hit lefties much better than righties this year. He’s .333/.391/.524 against portsiders, .208/.269/.375 against righthanders. He’s struck out 13 times against righties, only 5 against lefties. (26 PA against the former, 23 against the latter.) His homers are evenly split, one against both.

  35. #45 – several folks here have been very vocal about wanting Frenchy to fail. They want him to fail miserably so he’ll get cut

  36. Schafer’s work so far is exactly why we don’t need Garrett Anderson. Wren said that he wasn’t going to get in a hurry about getting and outfielder, but after Griffey fell through he panicked and signed Anderson. We could have made a trade (if Anderson wasn’t on the team) for someone who could play both center and left or we could have just kept Blanco or Josh Anderson around as a 4th outfielder.

    Schafer needs to get some off days to work through some of his problems. It doesn’t look like Cox is thrilled with Infante as the backup centerfielder. Hopefully we can find a solution somewhere.

  37. @54 You forgot Mark Reynolds… I’d say he has taken over from Dunn, only with less power and plate discipline. Also, Ryan Howard has beaten 195–twice.

  38. @60 – Yeah, I didn’t hate that deal. Ibanez, coming over from the AL, isn’t as prone to the horrendous months to which Burrell would occasionally subject his team. That said, he’s gonna regress and give A LOT back on defense.

  39. Who is that desires Frenchy to fail? Seriously, I don’t recall the posts you are citing.

  40. I have said things along these lines:

    If Frenchy fails miserably, the silver lining will be that the team will be forced to cut him, rather than keep running him out there day after day with a sub-.700 OPS, as they did last year.

    But that’s a silver lining to a very dark cloud. I don’t WANT him to suck.

  41. #63 – there were many this offseason, but here’s one from about three weeks ago

    sdp Says:

    I hope Francoeur proves his critics wrong, I really do. I won’t be pulling for him, though.
    March 29th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

  42. On paper you would think going to play a team playing as poorly as the Nits are would be a good thing… but I fear that they’ve lost so badly thusfar that enough of them will be motivated to not go 14-1 that we’re going to be the first team to not walk through them.

  43. csg @ 66,

    And I think that is more in the vein of “he is a whiny baby and I am tired of hearing it” than in the vein of “please play Francoeur and have him play very bad.”

    I am tired of hearing it. I am tired of Francoeur getting away with stuff that no Braves player has ever gotten away with. I think that is a negative that is hurting the team.

    However, without a move from somewhere, I don’t see the alternative to playing him, IF HE DOESN’T GET BACK TO THE BABY CRAP. If he starts that again, bring up Blanco, Try Diaz in right, and put Francoeur on the road.

  44. @68 “and put Francoeur on the road”

    which of course didn’t make me think of getting rid of him, but wondering if there was a scenario in which a manager had a road/home platoon instead of a lefty-righty one… somebody who couldn’t hit for crap in the home park but did great on the road, and vice-versa…

  45. #68 – cliff, maybe so. But Frenchy is here, he’s playing better, and we still have people who say that they wont pull for one of our guys. I cant comprehend that

    I dont agree with what Frenchy said about the org last season and I was vocal about that, I thought he should’ve stayed in AA a whole lot longer. I also didnt think we should have offered him $2.8m in arb, much less pay him more to keep from hurting his feelings. However, he’s performing well, he’s on the field and contributing. We have other people to be pointing the finger at right now

  46. csg,
    It’s not “people,” it’s one person who said that. Generally speaking, *everyone* here desparately wants Francoeur to be good. Many just aren’t yet buying that he is. Surely you can understand why some people would hesitate to trust his performance so far.

  47. stu, correct that was one person and I dont have time to go back and look for more post about this. I was one who openly bashed him last season because he whined about everything and he sucked flat out. I know everyone here for the most part wants him to do well because it’ll help the team if he performs. I know he’s not a .320 hitter and Im skeptical too, but there are a few here that no matter what he does it’ll never be good enough. That I disagree with

  48. 72,

    I think the skeptics (myself included) are simply saying that 12 good games this year doesn’t make his horrendous performance all of last season okay.

  49. On the Francouer situation. of course I hope he and the organization are able to best use his abundant skills, and overcome the flaws that have prevented him from succeeding to tyhe level I think he can.

    That having been said, not only do we have a small sample size here (12 games), the question is whether what he has experienced is real skill development (yay!) or unsustainable luck. The reduction in strike-outs (to about half his annualized totals from the past) is great; the lack of walks (to less than half of his prior annualized totals) is troubling. The fact that he is down on pitches per plate appearance from prior years suggests that he is seeing the ball better, and missing less pitches (putting the ball in play earlier in his at-bats). That is good also, but the trade-off for the low walks has got to be better power, or if the power does not come back, this isn’t that much of an improvement. He isn’t going to hit a “lost in the sun” triple every 12 games, and when you assume that out of his performance over these 12 games, it isn’t that much of a cause to celebrate. Here is hoping for continued improvement by the kid.

  50. As a distraction… I didn’t see much of what happened this weekend because I was making cakes for my 12 year old son’s party. we try and do a layer per year, this year was a combo of that with the theme of his party (video games) and I made 6 video game systems out of cake, plus a “TV” out of cake with a fugly duck-hunt screen-shot. I have some higher quality pictures, just not posted yet… for the time being I’m sharing this one which was taken with the webcam on my wife’s macbook: http://twitpic.com/3lztx

    I already admit I’m a giant nerd for making them (and making “The White City” from LOTR last year for his cake), but if anybody can recognize all of them (I’ll even give you the Atari 2600 in the back because it didn’t come out looking very good and his hidden) you may want to take a look in the nerd mirror yourself.

  51. From the bizarre reasons Red Sox fans are wishing they could’ve held onto Hanley Ramirez files: Nick Green started for the Sox today at SS. Yes, that Nick Green.

  52. Like someone said, Frenchy’s here, playing well, and has had a good attitude in the offseason and so far this season. 2008 will not change, so I’ve moved on from that. If he continues to play close to the way he has, he’ll be an asset for our team, and I cheer for those.

  53. #45 – several folks here have been very vocal about wanting Frenchy to fail. They want him to fail miserably so he’ll get cut

    I don’t really want him to fail. I expect him to fail. If he does fail, I hope that he fails spectacularly so that the organization cuts him and we don’t have to do this again next season.

    But if by some miracle he’s able to be decent then that’s fine. With his walk rate, ‘good’ isn’t really an option.

  54. Huh, Jordan Zimmerman on the mound tonight. His first game. Against the Braves. Unfortunately I can imagine what that means for the Braves offense… Is it just me or anytime a rookie pitcher is playing the Braves for the first time, the Braves can’t do anything against him?

  55. #82 – Timo, no its not just you. Im glad its not Bergman

    Hey here was TP’s hitting lesson before last nights game.

    PITTSBURGH — Having watched his team go scoreless over the previous 22 innings, Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton provided some motivation by threatening to shave the heads of both Jair Jurrjens and Jeff Francoeur if the team encountered a third consecutive shutout loss.

  56. @44: I wasn’t telling anyone how to enjoy anything. I was simply mentioning how silly it would look for a random visitor to stop by and check this site out only to find a team’s fanbase railing about a player after he had just gone 1-2 with a 2B and a RS in a game they won 11-1. That’s the kind of crap that Phillies fans do, and I expect more from my fellow Braves fans.

    @52: We can always retroactively DL him if it becomes necessary, so all we’re losing out on is a few extra days with Sammons on the roster. In the meantime, I expect that the Braves realize that even with an eye problem McCann is capable of playing if something happens to Ross. I expect a decision soon, but its smart to get all the opinions before we commit a guy to two weeks down time… especially a guy on my fantasy squad (of course if they DL’d him I could replace him on my roster.)

    @76: Nick Green’s actually started a bunch of games for Boston this year. I’m waiting to see my BoSox fan-friend today to ask him what the deal is, but he’s actually not playing TOO poorly. I always liked the kid, one of those guys who had to work for everything he got.

  57. c. shorter gets the prize for recognizing the TG-16 (TurboGrafx 16). That’s the most obscure (and one I bought with my own money as a kid). The Genesis one is one of the newer models and it didn’t turn out great or bad… just not terribly recognizable. The only one of the systems I didn’t have on hand to model the cakes after was the 2600. I actually HAVE a 2600, just not that model. The Wii and Gamecube were probably the best of the lot, and the ones eaten at the party. The NES and TG-16 came with me to work to share. The Genesis and 2600 were sent home with people, and the TV is sitting on my dining room table waiting to be eaten. Anybody have some insulin I could borrow? my islets of Langerhans in my pancreas seem to be overworked.

  58. Gadfly, Green is there starting SS now until Lugo gets healthy. They started the season with Lowrie over there, but he struggled offensively and is now looking at season ending wrist surgery.

  59. CharlesP, you are clearly an awesome father. I counted a Wii, old school NES, Gamecube, and a Sega Genesis. The black thing next to the Wii, I was going to say N64, but I don’t think that’s right… Sega CD? Turbografx, as c. shorter guessed? I dunno.

  60. Oh — I guess you went ahead and posted the right answers.

    Here in DC, the weather sucks, and it looks like Zimmermann may have to wait a bit for his major league debut. Sucks; I was gonna go to the park for my buddy’s birthday.

  61. @84: I love that. I really would’ve loved to see Jair’s reaction when he heard it… how the hell did he get dragged into that mess, haha.

    Re: Francoeur: A lot of revisionist history here. I’ll admit that most of the people here never said they “wanted” him to fail, though there was a large group that wished he would fail, so that he would be released, and an even larger group that wished he would be released without being given another chance. I’m also not out seeking apologies and retractions yet, because you can’t get too worked up over 1/13th of the season, but my expectations are definitely increasing.

    Not that many (any?) of you care, but his run production numbers are right back to what they were pre-2008 as well. 17 Runs Produced in 12 games is pretty damn good, and Baseball-Reference’s new format provides a stat that looks eerily familiar to the numbers I was putting together earlier this year (though they use PA instead of AB, which I think penalizes walks too much, and consequently should increase Jeff’s numbers relative to the average hitter.) It hasn’t updated to include yesterday’s game yet, but going into that game Jeff had produced 2 more RBIs (7 to 5) than the average player in 44 PAs, and that’s while equaling the average number of opportunities with runners on base (he’s had one less on first and third, and two more on second.) Am I right that this is a new feature on that site, or had I just missed it before?

  62. @88: Thanks for that. I figured he wasn’t the long term solution, as was pretty sure they still had Lugo and Lowrie under contract. Obviously I can find it elsewhere, but do you happen to have any clue as to how long Lugo is out?

    I like seeing Nick get another shot… it looks like he’s working his way through the AL East. First with Tampa, then the Yanks, and now after a brief stint in Seattle he’s on to Boston…

  63. Yeah AAR, good call. I work in IT (and therefor with a bunch of other nerds) and still had to explain the TurboGrafx to most people, so I figured if anybody got that one the others were going to be easy for them. I have some better pictures taken that I’ve got to get uploaded to flickr, but our past birthday cakes have been posted there already: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bfedrec/ (there’s an album called Birthday cakes… can’t get there from work or I’d post a direct link). You can check my twitter feed for some of the in progress shots (http://twitter.com/cpillsbury).

    In retrospect I probably should’ve gone Nintendo family only as I had all but the N64 on hand to model after AND it would’ve been a more consistent theme AND I could’ve fudged layer numbers with some small Gameboy, GBA, GBA SP, DS cakes too.

    The 5 year old has put in his request for his party in August… he wants an R2-D2… which should be fun.

  64. @93
    That’s odd. I was always under the impression that Chip only got excited about Cubs.

  65. @89

    It is raining in Washington right now and forecast to rain all night long. I have tickets to the game and was excited to see the Braves and get to the ballpark for the first time this year (and to see Jordan Zimmermann for the Nats).

    Tomorrow is not looking too good either at the moment if the forecast is accurate.

  66. @96

    Oh, Chip pops a woody for Steve Stone and the Cubs, too. But that goatee of Francoeur’s was just the final enticement and word is that Chip really took it like a school girl.

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