Braves 4, Phillies 2

Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies – Box Score – May 10, 2009 – ESPN

Hey, a comeback win! Kawakami pitched around a lot of trouble, largely of his own making (four walks, lots of pitching from behind), keeping it 1-1 through five as the Braves went after the record for runners left on base. In the sixth, he allowed a pair of doubles to fall behind 2-1, but finished the inning. He did strike out six, and allowed but six hits, but always seemed on the verge of disaster. So even with a quality start I’m not confident.

He got a win, too, thanks largely to Casey Kotchman. The Braves loaded the bases with two out in the seventh, the pitcher obviously pitching around McCann to get to Kotchman, who burned him with a single up the middle, scoring Escobar and ACHE. In the ninth, Kotchman came through again, doubling in Norton with two out. He had another double earlier in the game (leading off an inning and then getting to camp out at second base while the guys behind him stood around).

O’Flaherty pitched the seventh, striking out one and not allowing a baserunner. Gonzalez pitched the eighth; this was probably because Howard was leading off the inning (still a one-run game at the time) and not a demotion to setup man. He walked one. Soriano, therefore, got the ninth, allowing one hit but nailing down the save.

The Braves did leave twelve men on base, including six in the first three innings. I am really starting to tire of that… Chipper left the game with a “sore elbow”. He grimaced on a swing; I initially thought it was his hand again.

118 thoughts on “Braves 4, Phillies 2”

  1. The Gwinnett watch…

    Hanson pitched 8 innings today, allowing 3 runs (all solo homers) on 6 hits, 1 walk, and 9 strikeouts. He got a no-decision because Gwinnett’s offense sucks. This raised his ERA to 1.99.

    Kris Medlen’s numbers are even better than Hanson’s. He has a 1.17 ERA in 30 innings with 0 homers allowed, 7 walks, and 38 strikeouts.

    Charlie Morton has also been outstanding, with a 3.44 ERA in 34 innings with 2 homers allowed, 9 walks, and 35 strikeouts.

    Luis Rivera has 6 saves and a 2.30 ERA. He has 1 homer allowed, 7 walks, and 16 strikeouts in 15 innings.

  2. Another nice win. Kotchman is really coming around it seems. I agree, you can never at any point relax with him on the mound, it’s actually quite exhausting to watch him.
    Wow, Lowe against Santana tomorrow, huh? Looking forward to that. Should be fun. About time someone starts scoring some runs off Santana. Yeah, I know, I know…

  3. Another nice win. Kotchman is really coming around it seems. I agree, you can never at any point relax with Kenshin on the mound, it’s actually quite exhausting to watch him.
    Wow, Lowe against Santana tomorrow, huh? Looking forward to that. Should be fun. About time someone starts scoring some runs off Santana. Yeah, I know, I know…

  4. Kawakami is doing about as much as you could ask for. He’s keeping us in games and putting us in a position to win, albeit with a bit of heartburn attached. I think he’ll improve over the course of the season, but for now, he’s doing the job.

  5. Kawakami was never this wild in Japan. It may take him a while, but I think he’ll come around.

    Good job by Kotchman. IMO Kotchman and Anderson have been basically the same hitter over the last few years. In 2007, their OPS were .840 and .827, with Anderson having a little higher slugging % and much lower OBP. I’m holding out hope on Kotchman improving, but I’m not too confident that we’ll see much better than a .750 OPS from Anderson at his best. Even with two hits today he didn’t exactly smoke the ball.

  6. The way baseball-reference explains the Runs Created Per Game stat is that it’s basically a measure of how many runs would be scored by a lineup made up entirely of that player, over an average game length: about 27 outs. So, 9 Casey Kotchmans would score 6 runs a game.

  7. I was gonna disagree with you sdp, but I looked:

    .272/.290/.408

    How is it Francoeur has started every single game?

  8. One thing they mentioned today about kawakami’s adjustment to the MLB, which having pitched in japan in hs I can attest to, is that over there they use entirely different baseballs. Different type of hide used, and the stitching is different.

  9. The stitching isn’t different, but the ball is covered in horse-hide rather than cow-hide. Horse-hide is rougher, has a more granular feel and allows the pitcher to grip it with more certainty. Cow-hide is smoother with less grain in the non-stitched leather. As such, American cow-hide baseballs are slicker and more difficult to control. Kawakami has had 3-4 months to adjust, but he may still be working on it.

    Mac, are runs down in general (I don’t want to look.) Is the league swinging back to 1981-92 offensive levels or is it just the Braves who are playing pre-expansion baseball these days?

  10. How fitting, McCann is back and Chipper is hurt again.

    Can David Ross play 3rd? Or are we going to see Martin Prado long enough for his weaknesses to show?

  11. I’m not Mac, but the NL average for runs per game is 4.58 and the AL average is a hair above 5. (The Braves average is 4.3)

    The 1992 NL average was 3.88, and the ’93 NL average was 4.49. So, in a word, no.

  12. Last year 4.54 runs were scored per game in the NL, 4.78 in the AL. I think offense is slightly up this year over this time in 2008. Normally fewer runs are scored in the first part of the season when the weather is colder. Also, there hasn’t been any interleague play yet. That tends to depress runs scored by AL teams and increase them by NL teams.

  13. Mac, while KK has been pitching into trouble, at least he has some ability to pitch out of it, whereas JoJo…

  14. Another reason to be bothered by Frenchy is the fact that Bobby won’t sit him down at all. Over a long season that hurts him (and thus hurts the team), and yet Bobby has him named etched in stone in the lineup and only rain and off days keep him from playing for the Braves.

  15. So I’m guessing Gonzalez is unavailable for tomorrow night’s game because he’s pitched in 5 of the last 6 including 2 in a row.

  16. Thanks Fox/Dish Network for stating today’s game would be broadcast in HD. I just got home to find 5 hours of a recorded still screen that insisted was Braves vs. Phillies.

  17. I agree that Frenchy should sit every once in a while – I also think it would do Schafer good to get a few games break.

  18. I think one could reasonably make the argument that Frenchy ought to be sitting much more than once in a while, but at least once in a while would be helpful to him as a player. Any player likely benefits from not playing all 162 games in a row.

  19. I was gonna disagree with you sdp, but I looked:

    .272/.290/.408

    How is it Francoeur has started every single game?

    You mean this year or every year?

    I would guess the answer is that playing rightfield isn’t very demanding and there aren’t exactly any other outfielders that are demanding playing time.

    And when you hit like he does, it’s not like he’s going to wear himself out running the bases.

  20. Chipper left the game with a “sore elbow”. He grimaced on a swing; I initially thought it was his hand again.

    So I guess swinging is unsafe. Is there any on the field, baseball-type play that Chipper can successfully execute without getting hurt?

  21. Carl Crawford and Casey Kotchman seem to be similar players. I know it’s crazy, but here me out.

    They’re both lefties, they both have similar OPSes (around .850), and they play good defense at a less than demanding position. The difference is that Crawford has speed. Crawford makes $6M this year and Kotchman makes $2.8M. Crawford is loved, whereas many here think Kotchman isn’t getting the job done. I don’t get it.

  22. Anyone find it ironic that Francoeur has chosen “The Old Me is Dead and Gone” as his intro music this year?

  23. Crawford is loved, whereas many here think Kotchman isn’t getting the job done. I don’t get it.

    It’s a pretty easy get. Firstbasemen who don’t hit homers are a tough sell.

    Throwing in defense, he’ll probably be near average for his position. At that price, he’s not really part of the problem.


  24. Nearly all of Chipper’s nagging injuries come from him swinging.

    Really? I’ve seen him get hurt running the bases, sliding, playing defense, fouling balls of himself. He’s really a five-tool injury guy.

  25. If the Braves platooned Brandon Jones with Jeffy, the offense probably would be better. Wancoeur is batting .381./386/.548/.934 against LHP, and .231/.256/.359/.615 against RHP.

    BTW, that new open stance has gotten really closed.

  26. On Frenchy: So I finally got to watch a game today, and was pretty disappointed by Francoeur’s performance. He has definitely gotten better at pitch selection, but he’s still got a ways to go. He still seems to get caught in the moment at times and looks like he has a homerun or nothing mentality.

    That being said, I don’t knock Bobby one iota for putting him in the lineup everyday. He’s never been the type of player that gets slowed by nagging injuries, and he’s without a doubt our best defensive option for RF. Even though he’s cooled off a bit lately, he’s still unquestionably one of the top three offensive outfielders on the team. According to Baseball Reference the average player with 122 PA should see 79 Runners on Base and drive in 14 of them… coming into today Jeff had seen 84 runners on base, and driven in 17 of them. Obviously today’s performance just about blew that surplus, but Jeff has NEVER figured out Brett Myers, and to be fair Brett was pretty well locked in after the first inning today.

    Even with plenty of room left for improvement, Jeff is still one of the Braves’ top run producers, which is something this team desperately needs right now. He currently is leading the team in Runs Produced, as well as Runs Produced/Gm, the only three Braves producing one run a game… these are actual runs, not simulations assuming a team full of the same player… are Escobar 28 in 28 games, McCann 16 in 16 games, and Francoeur 32 in 31 games.

  27. Nice win for the Braves and I will take KK’s progress–even if it was not impressive. Given the ballpark, he did alright.

    On another note, Myrtle Beach had a great game–Rohrbough is back and Cody Johnson had 2 strikeouts a walk 2 HRs and 5 RBIs….Yes, Johnson strikes out too much, but he has arguably been Myrtle Beach’s most productive hitter–I’ ll happily take it….

  28. @41: Five-tool injury guy… that is definitely one of the best lines I’ve seen on this site. I will say, and I was shocked to find this out, that all things considered Chipper has had a pretty durable career. He’s played in 89.8% of Atlanta’s games since he first settled in, back in ’95, and even since the injury plague hit in ’04 he’s still played in 76.3%… not quite Iron Man, but he’s never missed more than 1/3rd of any season. He does show an uncanny ability to hurt himself though, I’ll give you that.

    @42: You’d have to make room on the roster for Brandon, who still hasn’t proven he can hit AAA pitching consistently, let alone ML. I don’t see how that could happen unless someone gets hurt again.

  29. It wouldn’t be that hard to move James Parr (who very rarely pitches and is basically a waste of a roster spot) to Gwinnett. Not to mention BJ couldn’t perform worse against RHP than Francoeur has done. In fact, he might perform well with the LHP taken out of the mix.

  30. Superfly, you crack me up. Three weeks ago you were crooning about how Francouer is “the best outfielder on the team.” Now he is one of the three best. Well, I would hope so, his competition is Matt Diaz, Garrett Fricking Anderson and a rookie that played half a season at AA. And arguably he is the worst of the bunch. And then you try and obscure the fact that he has an OBP of .290. TWO NINETY! And an OPS of .698. SUPERFLY, HE HAS AN OPS OF LESS THAN .700!! We all know that he was obscenely lucky with RISP for the first two weeks. And in those rare instances when he manages to get on base (by missed pop fly twice) the hitters behind him have managed to score him. But really, you actually think that over the course of the season a guy with an OPS of less than .700 has any chance of leading the team in Runs Produced? Or even finishing in the top five in Runs Produced per game played? Seriously, are you his publicist or what?

  31. @44: Did you get a chance to watch the game Stephen? I was actually quite impressed with Kawakami’s performance. Pitching is about limiting damage, and even though he’s obviously still making adjustments he really pitched a hell of a ballgame this morning. His fastball is faster and more lively than I expected, and the movement he gets on his breaking ball and that shuuto is downright filthy at times.

    Once again, here’s Daisuke Matsuzaka’s stats from his first six starts in the Majors. Only 2 of these starts came on 4 days rest, 3 came on 5, and one was his first start of the year:

    38 IP, 23 ER, 35 H, 15 BB, 4 HBP, 39 K
    That’s a 5.45 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP
    He also had 31 Runs of support in his starts, including more than 3 in 4 games, and more than 5 in 3.

    Kenshin’s first six starts, for comparison. Only 2 of these came on more than 4 days rest, his first start of the year and his fifth which came on 8 days:

    32 2/3 IP, 21 ER, 37 H, 18 BB, 2 HBP, 31 K. That’s a 5.79 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP.
    KK’s had much less run support (19 runs,) only two starts with more than 3 runs, and none with more than 5.

  32. @47 a little civility wouldn’t hurt…

    I’m not going to say Frenchy has been great, but the season is still early. A mere ten days ago he was at a much more respectable .287/.315/.460 (OPS of .775). Not great, but, at this still early point in the season, any one’s numbers are going to look misleadingly worse after a couple of rough days followed by an 0 for 5 performance. He looked bad today, especially on the K, but the truth is, there is no one in the system who could do a better job than him right now. I for one support waiting it out to see if his numbers bounce back up, but it’s a waste of time to suggest benching players we can’t replace while cherry picking your arguments based on the erratic swings in statistics that happen early in the season.

  33. @49 – It’s not that early in the season anymore. The fact is that Frenchy sucks. There may not be anyone that is better than him in the minors, but I am sure there might be someone better against right handers. It wouldn’t hurt to give someone a shot at this point. Let’s see what Jones can do. I don’t see any increase in power, and he still has a very LONG swing. He will never catch up to pitches with that thing.

  34. Gadfly–Yes I did–even though I was distracted by a few domestic issues. Basically, it is pretty easy for me to see afternoon games or games on the west coast. Otherwise, I need some insommnia to watch the Braves at night (EST).

    I agree: I thought that KK showed some grit in the 6th inning which is why the Braves won. To put this differently, he did exactly what Jo Jo cannot seem to do: pitch out of trouble. I hope that this is something of a turning point for KK….

  35. @46: I kind of like the luxury of having an innings eater in this bullpen, but that’s a reasonable possibility. On your other point you’ve got problems, unfortunately.

    Brandon’s pretty much got even splits throughout his minor league career. His major league career splits are too small of a sample size to really compare (only 22 PA against LHP,) but his career split v. RHP isn’t much better than Jeff’s this year, his SLUG% is lower (.359 to .344) and his OBP isn’t exactly good (.256 to .298… Jeff’s career OBP v.RHP is .300)

    Since Brandon was promoted to AAA in ’07 he’s had 647 PA against RHP between the AAA and ML level (503 PA at AAA, 144 with ATL.) His line in these PA is a meager: .268/.346/.403… Even including the abysmal performance by Francoeur in ’08 his line v.RHP in 1007 ML PAs, since ’07, coming into today was .263/.297/.399… They’re pretty much identical in AVG and SLUG% which are the two areas this team needs improvement in the most right now. Jeff gives up 50 points of OBP, but I highly doubt Brandon could maintain the same walk rate in the Majors that he has had in AAA. (His small sample Major League walk rate is 6.6% while his AAA walk rate is up at 10.8%.)

    I really wish Brandon would live up to the promise he showed in Mississippi, but sadly I just don’t see it happening, not even in a platoon situation.

  36. @47: And again I apologize for inspiring pseudo-McMurtry to comment. I absolutely expect Jeff to be in the Top 5 in RP/Game for the Braves this year, just as he was in ’05-’07. Whether or not he’d lead the team in aggregate depends on a number of outside factors, but I’d say he’s the odds-on favorite at this point (unless you can assure me Chipper will get/stay healthy.) Also, I said Jeff is “unquestionably one of the top three outfielders on the team,” if I include defense in the calculation I’d still say Jeff is probably the best outfielder we’ve got, though Jordan Schafer could prove me wrong if he cuts down on his Ks (I haven’t seen enough of him in CF to judge his defense too severely one way or the other either.)

    @50: Look above for reference to Brandon Jones v.RHP. We’re still only 1/5 of the way through the season, it is still pretty early, and as Ben says @49 rate statistics are still prone to big fluctuations. If Jeff matches his best five game stretch of the season (Apr 12-17) over the next five, his line jumps from the current .272/.290/.408 all the way up .306/.320/.440… that’s a pretty good swing based on less than a week’s performance.

  37. However, if he continues to suck his numbers will go all the way down to his 2008 level. It’s really much too early to tell.

    Besides, we’re stuck with him anyway.

  38. We can make all the Jeff comments we want, but as Tom just said, we are stuck with him in RF, LF being awful and a struggling rookie in CF.

    I personally believe this will not be the OF we will end the season with. Hopefully Wren is putting out feelers now and will make some sweeping changes. We have some pitching depth, guys like Locke, Morton, Redmond could be used to upgrade this area.

  39. KJ .236/.327/.404
    Stenchy .272/.290/.408

    They bench KJ and will start a platoon. Francouer will play 160 games. Apparently no one has told the Braves that the middle number is more important than the first one.

    I missed something somewhere. Is ACHE an acronym? Add Anderson to our collection of has beens. Mondesi, Jordan, Brogna, Caminetti.

    Thanks ESPN. I get to watch baseall tonight.

  40. “Apparently no one has told the Braves that the middle number is more important than the first one.”

    This is what scares me about the Braves right now. We know Bobby in stuck in the 1980’s; is Frank Wren, also?

  41. Once the roster is set (excluding Frenchy conspiracy theories) Bobby determines who plays.

    I have the highest regard for Bobby Cox. His players do as well becuase he does give them a chance to prove that they can play or not. But the way he has handled Francouer is strange. The pictures perhaps?

  42. KJ .236/.327/.404
    Stenchy .272/.290/.408

    They bench KJ and will start a platoon. Francouer will play 160 games. Apparently no one has told the Braves that the middle number is more important than the first one.

    I missed something somewhere. Is ACHE an acronym? Add Anderson to our collection of has beens. Mondesi, Jordan, Brogna, Caminetti.

    Robert made the point a few days ago that the problems is that we have solid options with whom we can replace KJ, and we don’t re: Francoeur. (I agree that a platoon with B. Jones would be worth seeing, but we know it’s not happening.)

    ACHE stands for, “Anderson (or Amy), Cleanup Hitter Extraordinaire.”

  43. We have Diaz, Blanco, and ACHE, none of whom has either a center field or a right field arm. Brandon Jones is fringy in right.

    This further points out why Edmonds was a better player to go after than ACHE. At the upper end of ACHE’s reasonable offensive projections, he doesn’t add much because he can only play one outfield position.

    Probably, Infante could cover right about as well as Francoeur: slightly better range, lesser arm.

  44. So the Braves take a short 2 game series from the Fish…and then take 2 outta 3 from the Phillies on the road.

    Why do I have this feeling that this is all one big fluke? I should be feeling pretty happy with this streak.

    Tonight is Santana’s best chance for a no-hitter. I bet this offense gets shut out…and gets 3 hits.

  45. Saying Francouer is one of the top 3 Braves outfielders is like saying Ford is one of the top 3 U.S. automakers. It doesn’t exactly mean a lot. He is, at best, a servicable player and often not that. Baseball analysts seem to love the guy and go out of their way to make excuses for him but at a point where he should be in the prime of his career, Frenchy is still struggling to learn to hit. He isn’t as bad as he was last year, but, given the make up of the rest of the team, he really isn’t a good option. He’s not a kid anymore in baseball terms.

    Speaking of analysts, the stupidiy of these guys never ceases to amaze. Today, on TBS, when Anderson came up in the first with the bases loaded and no outs, Buck Martinez made a point of saying what a great RBI guy he was and how he was likely to get one of the runs in. Sure enough, he hits a weak fly to center and gets an RBI, thus proving Buck’s point. The trouble is, almost anyone on the team would likely have driven in a run (although granted that the Braves have specialized in not scoring in these situations). In fact, Meyers was probably happy to get a fly ball because it put him in a situation to get out of the jam. The Braves would have been better off with a weak ground ball to the infield which would have at least advanced the other runners. This is why RBI is such a misleading statistic and how guys can run up RBI totals without having productive at bats.

    The other thing was Kotchman’s game winning RBI. Not to take anything away from him because he did have a good game and had a big hit against Lidge in the 9th, but that hit in the 7th was just a weak ground ball that found a hole. He was lucky basically; why won’t any baseball anaylsts talk about the role that luck or randomness play, as JC does. Same thing with Diaz’s game winner against the Cards a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t great hitting, it was pure luck. But Buck kept talking about how great the Braves were in two out situations, ignoring all the other times in the game they had failed even to advance runners from second.

    Clearly, people don’t like the idea that their lives are often influenced by random events and athletes especially don’t like it, but I guarantee the Phillies announcers were talking about how unlucky their pitcher was on that hit (although that should be mitigated by the walks that he allowed to set it up).

    This game was very much like games the Braves used to win in the glory days; not much offense, stuggle to score a couple of runs and rely on dominant pitching to win. I thought the bullpen was terrific and Kawakami was very good at times and made some great pitches.

    If I were Bobby, I would have called up someone from Gwinnett to pitch against Santana, saved Lowe and chalked up the loss. Not that he would do that but they used to in the old days.

  46. Yeah Marc, its funny. Lets say that someone, clearly fooled lunges at a pitch and pops a flair that hits the rf chalk for a double. “Nice piece of hitting” is invariably what the announcer will say. Cracks me up.

    I like this team for some reason. The pitching for the most part has been solid. If Reyes struggles again then theres Morton and Hanson and shoot Medlen down on the farm. I’ve given up hope of getting anything more than league average out of the outfield. I know that we have a ways to go to get even that but if we do we just might win this sucky division.

  47. FWIW, Santana was 0-2 against the Braves last year. Strong ERA (2.57), but he gave up a lot of baserunners (WHIP of 1.43) and hardly struck anyone out (K/9 of 3.43).

    We won all three games he started without scoring very many runs (3-1, 4-2, and 3-2).

  48. I assume the rotation will be pretty solid throughout the year, although the number five role seems up in the air. If the bullpen (at least Moylan, Soriano, and Gonzalez) can remain effective without their arms falling off, the team can be competitive. But, unless the Braves make a deal for a bat, it’s hard for me to see them generating enough offense to beat the Mets and Phillies, although both of them have their problems as well. Jordan Schaefer is a fine centerfielder and probably has a lot of promise, but they can’t afford to carry his bat all year if he doesn’t pick it up.

  49. Superfly, I assured you, amid the delirium that came with a hot start, that Francouer would finish with an OPS of less than .750 and an OBP of less than .330. Having had a chance to assay the “improvements” to his swing I am now willing to bet he finishes with an OPS of less than .700. I can also assure you that he will not lead the team in Runs Created (or even finish in the top three) or finish in the top five in Runs Created per game. His current RBI total is statistical noise, in the second half of the season thus far (15 of 31 games played) he has a total of 6. His OPS+ of 81 is currently worse than every hitter on the roster other than Norton and Ganderson.

    Using Brandon Jones’ limited MLB at-bats to argue that he would not be useful in a platoon split is absurd. Giving ABs to Jones would likely lead to increased production and it would help us develop a player that could be of use going forward. Continuing to give ABs to Francouer constitutes a massive opportunity cost. Likewise arguing that we have no better option is a cop out. Wren could easily acquire such a player. Take Delwyn Young, the Pirates just gave the Dodgers virtually nothing for him (PTBNs or cash). He will never be a superstar but is marginally better than Francouer right now, and at a much lower salary and with the likelihood of being a much better player going forward. Believe it or not RFs with an OPS of less than .700 and decent but overrated defensive skills are not all that hard to replace.

  50. We can carry Schaefer. He at least gets on base and plays defense at a premium position.

    I know we need another bat. ACHE (thanks Stu) aint it. But who do we give up to get one?

  51. Baseball is a lot less fun as a spectator sport if you’re rooting for a better good to bad luck ratio befalling your team’s players, as opposed to the other team’s.

    It’s also a topic of conversation that would fly over the heads of a great many of baseball’s fans and spectators, and probably just annoy them.

    Broadcasters need story lines, and they prefer positive ones, so harping on the reality that a beloved young right fielder is not improving and is becoming less and less likely to ever do so isn’t going to do the broadcaster any favors.

  52. Those are good points Dix, but I also think that broadcasters tend to assume that their audience is much more poorly informed than it really is. They seem to have no idea how rapidly easy access to information (and fantasy baseball especially) has changed the way that even casual fans think about the game.

    And I think that if broadcasters pointed out the role that luck played in the events that were unfolding then they would be more likely to acknowledge those aspects of the game that are not luck. And rather than talking about Adam Dunn as a “one-dimensional player” (quoting Superfly) they would see that the best way to take luck out of the game is to square up a mistake and hit it 500 feet. Or better yet, to not swing at a breaking ball in the dirt and take a walk. Or conversely, to talk about range factors. And hopefully they could pipe a direct feed straight into Frank Wren’s brain.

  53. Any NYC-area folk headed to Flushing this week?

    I’ll be at Citi Field tonight & tomorrow night. Time to break a Met winning streak & ease onto the right side of .500. Maybe, if we can just hit it to Delgado, we’ll find our necessary bit of luck.

    Helluva battle tonight, but that’s why they play the games.

  54. Jason Heyward could skip AA and AAA and I guarantee you he would have a higher OPS than Francoeur.

  55. It is sort of painful to see Adam Dunn hitting .311, 11 HR and 28 RBI when he was so available in the offseason.

    So Chipper may miss tonight’s game with a sore elbow….no comment.

  56. @71 I agree. The announcers should use their platform to develop a more advanced approach to thinking about the game amongst the fans. However, baseball games, like all other media, really chase the lowest common denominator.

  57. Jason Heyward could skip AA and AAA and I guarantee you he would have a higher OPS than Francoeur.

    Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, because I think the latter player’s deficiencies are partially a product of his being rushed.

  58. Re Schaefer: it seems to me that his high OBP is wasted as a number 8 hitter (except to the extent that it clears the pitcher’s spot). If his only offensive asset, at this point, is OBP, then he does need to bat leadoff. It seems to me that a number 8 hitter in the NL needs some pop or at least the ability to put the ball in play and drive in some runs.

  59. I think OBP is actually more important than power for an 8th hitter if for no other reason than getting on base prevents pitchers from leading off innings. But, yeah, a high OBP is more valuable leading off than hitting 8th, that’s for sure.

  60. Jordan Schafer is our K king, sure. But behold Brian Bixler, the SS that Pittsburgh’s trotting out while Jack Wilson’s hurt—18 Ks in 26 PAs.

  61. RE: Acquiring a bat. The problem is that the company line has been that we just haven’t had all our guys healthy at the same time. If Chipper misses any time with the elbow that will continue to be the theme. Obviously we need to upgrade offensively but can you really see the FO replacing any of the starters on this team? I just don’t see it happening.

  62. Also, clearing the pitcher is great if your leadoff hitter is a catalyst. What good has clearing the pitcher done this year? I can’t count how many times Chipper has come up with two-outs, no one on base and maybe 4 pitches have been thrown in the inning.

  63. Clearing the pitcher is great if your leadoff hitter is a better hitter than the pitcher. Yes, our leadoff hitters have left a lot to be desired, but come on.

  64. Interesting question is whether Bobby will put Diaz or ACHE in tonight. He let ACHE stay in against Hamels. With Diaz good career numbers against Santana, maybe that will get him some playing time.

    I think the ACHE / Diaz platoon will actually produce o.k. if Bobby does it fairly closely like a platoon.

    On Bobby’s use of the pitchers yesterday, it is really strange that the Phillies trotted out such a “over left handed” lineup.

    Rollins (switch hitter, better left)
    Victorino, (switch hitter, better left)
    Utley
    Howard
    Ibanez
    Feliz (right hander)
    Stairs.
    Coste (right hander).

    Not splitting up the lefties caused the Phillies to take some toiugh matchups on the chin late.

    Also, yesterday should have reminded everybody of shy the Braves need one more lefthanded reliver. If we are carrying 7 it needs to be Gonzo / (Beimel / Ohman / somebody) / O’Flaherty.

    The need for lefties is similar with the Mets.

  65. Since I’ve been critical of Bobby’s “in-game” managing, I need to say that Bobby’s move to put in Gonzo in the 8th was a really good move (even though, yes, to normal baseball people, the move was obvious — but we’ve been missing the “obvious” for quite a while now, so this was refreshing). It was nice to see something out of the ordinary from him and at least the appearance of actually thinking through the game situation (ok, that was mean, he was “in” the game and was Bobby at his best). Thanks Bobby.

    So far this has been a fun road trip, no complaints, but still, this is not a good team and for the Braves to win the division, the Phillies and Mets would have to implode.

  66. Matt Holliday looks like he’s playing himself into trade deadline contention for not very much in the way of minor league talent.

  67. I find it interesting that some have high expectations of the 8th place hitter in the lineup. Typically the lower batting order is reserved for players whose contribution to the team effort is based on their defensive proficiency. I know that Schaefer has been failing a lot in high leverage at bats but what does everyone expect? Another team would have a weak hitting middle infielder to fail at the 8 hole. Schaefer is making a fine contribution if he is catching balls and getting on base. That the Braves have two or three middle infielders that can out hit the CF is unusual. As for moving him up to the leadoff position. Really? I would rather have KJ or Esco up there. Don’t you try to give your better hitters the most PAs in a game?

    Schaefer is fine. Not great but ok if indeed he is fielding his position better than anyone else on the Braves could. The real problem as all of us know is a total lack of production from the corner outfielders where offense is premium.

    I disagree that the Phils and Mets have to implode. Following the company line, all we need is for all the primary playres to be healthy and sstart hitting their averages. I know its a stretch but I think if that happens with the pitching we’ve been getting we can win the division.

  68. I’m not a big Bobby basher, but if he doesn’t play Diaz over Anderson tonight he needs a rubber room.

    G. Anderson lifetime vs. Santana: 6/26, 1 HR, 240/360/286

    Matt Diaz lifetime vs. Santana: 8/15, 1 HR, 533/800/533

    Without Chipper, we need all the help we can get.

  69. @68: I’d take that bet in a heartbeat, assuming I was actually interested in interacting with you in a forum other than this site. I like how you switched from Runs Produced to Runs Created on your numbers though, very seemless. Jeff will be in the Top 5 in Runs Produced per game, actual RUNS being PRODUCED, not simulated. That is what this team is lacking… Bill James’ statistics are usually pretty good, but they tend to fall apart when you look at this Braves team, who seem to specialize in leaving runners on base. Jeff tends to get on in situations where he can score, and he tends to knock runners in when given the chance.

    As I said before I wouldn’t be surprised to see an OBP around .300-.330, but I would be disappointed to see his OPS under .750… obviously it is too early to judge whether or not it was a hot start, or he’s currently going through a cold spell (a cold spell that ironically included a 10-game hitting streak.)

    I agree that “[u]sing Brandon Jones’ limited MLB at-bats to argue that he would not be useful in a platoon split is absurd.” That’s why I used his AAA + MLB at-bats to show his production against RHP since his promotion to AAA in 2007. Since you obviously missed it, I’ll provide them once again (reiterated from my comment @53):

    647 PA against RHP between the AAA and ML level (503 PA at AAA, 144 with ATL.)

    .268/.346/.403

    Francoeur in 1007 ML PAs v.RHP since ‘07, coming into yesterday:

    .263/.297/.399

    They’re pretty much identical in AVG and SLUG% which are the two areas this team needs improvement in the most right now. Jeff gives up 50 points of OBP, but I highly doubt Brandon could maintain the same walk rate in the Majors that he has had in AAA. His small sample Major League walk rate is 6.6% while his AAA walk rate is up at 10.8%. If you substitute his ML walk rate for his AAA numbers the resulting OBP drops down to .317, assuming he gets 7 hits in the 28 at-bats in which he wouldn’t have been walked. Again, this is hardly a significant improvement over Jeff. Not to mention the fact that Brandon’s numbers have been mainly against International League pitching, while Jeff has been facing Major Leaguers on a day-to-day basis.

    And I didn’t even begin to talk about defense.

  70. Agree on Diaz playing tonight. I have my reservations about him as an every day player, but have also stated that when used properly he can be an effective spot starter. Given the numbers it would be silly to not play him tonight, as Anderson probably needs a blow anyway as most older players do. No sense having him going out there again tonight when he is most likely going to fail anyway, especially when there is a viable option for better performance.

    I also wonder if BMac is playing. I would think he’d get the day off too, but with Chipper out you have to wonder. With Chipper in the lineup you can rest him against a tough lefty and use Ross, but that leaves the lineup pretty thin. Chipper being out probably also forces Kotchman in at 1B, as Prado will most likely start at 2B and Infante at 3B.

  71. @56: First off, you’re completely ignoring defense. Secondly, as people have pointed out, you’re ignoring the fact that there is a reasonable replacement for KJ, while any reasonable replacement for Jeff would be better off spelling our LFer.

    Most importantly, however, you’re ignoring what this team needs. On this Braves team OBP is not our problem. We’ve been getting runners on base, we just fail to get them home. As I said above Jeff is good at this, as he has shown in 4 of his 5 Major League seasons (even last year his run production numbers weren’t nearly as depressed, or depressing, as his rate stat line.)

    @60: RF is no less demanding than CF, they just have different demands. RF involves playing a lot of different angles that a CF never sees, and of course it also demands a good throwing arm. I like Omar, and I’m sure he could fill in in RF if necessary, but he’s in no way a possible long-term replacement.

  72. I knew we’d regret not signing Adam Dunn. What kind of a no-brainer was that?

    Sigh.

    I may have missed it, but did anyone answer the question about Ross playing 3rd?

    And, yes, if Bobby puts Anderson out there tonight it is proof of his dementia.

  73. @63: I agree somewhat, but to carry your analogy out, the U.S. still decided to bailout the big three, cause that is all we have to work with (at least that’s how they see it, but I’ll leave it at that, lest we upset Mac with political discussion.) That’s all I was saying about Jeff, he’s the best we have to work with, or at least one of the top 3. If he continues this pace we can force him into baseball bankruptcy at the end of the year, but in this case it makes sense to see if he can regain the stroke he started the year with… a whole month ago.

    In baseball terms Jeff is still short of his prime… while kid might be a little much, he’s still exceptionally young for a player with the responsibilities he’s had to shoulder. Jeff’s still barely 25. You know how many career ML homers Ryan Ludwick had hit when he was 25? (10) You know how many ML games Nyjer Morgan had played when he was 25? (0) How about Delwyn Young, how many times did he get to the plate before his 26th birthday? (132)

    Also, Kotchman’s hit in the 7th wasn’t weak. If it had been a little bit weaker it hits off the top of the mound and right to the second basemen for an easy out, so I agree there was some randomness there, but it was a legitimate knock right up the middle.

  74. @92: David Ross has never played 3B professionally. 10 years ago he played 5 games at 1B, and a couple innings in the OF, for Vero Beach in the Florida State League, but other than that he’s been a Catcher exclusively.

    Also, Adam Dunn was in no way a no-brainer. I’ve talked about this extensively, so I won’t go into it in depth here, but the salary he signed for would’ve completely handcuffed our payroll, especially next season (even assuming he would’ve signed the same deal with Atlanta that he did with Washington, and not have expected an increase.)

    @73/85: You’re also completely ignoring development levels. I love Heyward, and I think he’ll be in the big leagues sooner than most around here, but currently he’s about where Jeff was in early 2004 developmentaly, and probably slightly behind though it is hard to judge this early in the season.

  75. @68, On Delwyn Young: First off, let’s put salary considerations aside completely, because the money we’re paying Jeff wouldn’t go away if we bench him. Now, perhaps you could explain why you think Delwyn is “marginally better” or why he has more of a “likelihood of being a much better player going forward.”

    He’s a year and a half older, which puts him closer to his expected prime, and he still hasn’t done anything significantly better than Jeff except get on base. On the other hand Jeff has outslugged him, and proven to be a consistent run producer… again, these are the things this team needs. Replacing a run producer with another guy we can strand on base isn’t the right move. Even Delwyn’s OBP is questionable, since his only lengthy stint in the Majors saw him produce a .246/.321/.341 line in 143 PA with Los Angeles last year.

  76. Gadfly, dude, what is it with you and Francoeur? He really is not a good basball player. He’s a replacement level player. I can’t believe you keep writing about him.
    I do admire your optimism and positivity at times though. I really do.

  77. @95

    I would choose to have our payroll be handcuffed rather than our offensive production.

    I think the Dunn deal could’ve been worked out. And if its next year you are so worried about, we are gonna have to move a starter anyway…and it just might be Hudson’s option not getting picked up.

    Man, if we could get one more big bat in this lineup…I’d be pretty excited.

  78. @76 – You could argue that some of Frenchy’s problems have stemmed from being moved up too soon (i.e. pitch selection). However, I would contend that he would have never been good anyways. He has such a LONG swing – it is absolutely rediculous. And he doesn’t appear to be trying to change that. He can’t react to pitches like most major leaguers and he never will.

  79. Marlins reportedly send Cameron Maybin back to AAA.

    Wonder if the Braves ought to follow suit with our young CF star.

  80. @97: Thanks for the comment, I tend to think pessimism is for Phillies fans.

    I don’t have enough time left to spend to explain once more why you’re too quick to judge, but Jeff isn’t a “replacement level player,” whatever that means anyways… especially since he’s clearly above the level of any currently available replacements. In short, Jeff has immense potential, anyone who doesn’t acknowledge this is insane. Even at the levels he’s producing now he’s still our best option in RF… that was even the case last season when his production was AWFUL. IF we can get him to realize this potential we’ll be much better off for having suffered the bumps along the way. That may never happen, but until a reasonable replacement becomes available (I’m thinking Heyward, not Jason Perry) it is silly to spend so much time focusing on him.

    As for why I keep writing about him. I rarely, if ever, bring him up. Generally the only time I get back into Francoeur is when someone decides they need to advocate for his benching/release/torture/death and spouts off in an ignorant way about how he “sucks.” Again, in my opinion, that is the kind of behavior I expect from Phillies or Mets fans, not from my fellow Braves fans.

    If I had a dollar for everytime I heard “Pat Burrell Sucks!” from the mouth of a Phillie fan, I would be out on my yacht right now…

    @98: So, okay, I’ll bite, though I probably have to get back to work soon. Where do we get the extra $8 million this year to sign Dunn? I’ll give you Garret $2.5 and Glavine at $1, now find me $4.5 million more in surplus. Anyway you try you’ll create another hole in the roster. I would love to have Adam, but he just didn’t fit under the payroll. Garret hasn’t shown much positive yet, but if he can get into the form he showed at times last year he’s going to be a much more valuable piece than someone who would’ve forced Jo Jo Reyes AND Charlie Morton into the ML rotation from day 1.

    One more time, here’s a few of Garret’s splits from last season:

    May: 28 G, .343/.374/.500
    July: 23 G, .384/.426/.616
    Sept/Oct: 22 G, .356/.374/.448

    He’s not going to be consistent, but if he can carry this team for a month or two this season he’ll be WELL worth the $2.5 million.

  81. @100: The biggest problem with moving Jeff up so soon was the immense success he had. Once someone is OPSing .884, homering once every 18 ML AB, and on the cover of SI with “The Natural” as the headline, it is a lot harder to tell him that he needs to change his swing. It took last season to humble him into some serious changes, but he needs to realize that to stay in the Majors requires CONSTANT adjustments, the work is never done.

  82. Can’t wait until game time. I hope that I am not jinxing us by watching.

    Gadfly, what is your definition of prime? The traditional age 28 to 32 definition? I thought that through statistical analysis that James et al had deterimined that prime was age 25 thru 30 if the definition of prime is ‘most productive years by age’. In any case no matter how you slice and dice it, right now Jeff Francouer is a below average player.

  83. @49

    I’m not going to say Frenchy has been great, but the season is still early. A mere ten days ago he was at a much more respectable .287/.315/.460 (OPS of .775)…it’s a waste of time to suggest benching players we can’t replace while cherry picking your arguments based on the erratic swings in statistics that happen early in the season.

    Not to be uncivil, but this made me laugh.

  84. @ 102, as per JC:

    “(A replacement player)projects to produce the output equal to “the expected level of performance the average team can obtain if it needs to replace a starting player at minimal cost.””

  85. I don’t necessarily disagree with you Joshua. I’m a believer in practice. It’s why Rick Ankiel couldn’t switch to hitting without going back to the minors for a while, even though he is an immensely talented hitter.

    Maybe Jeffy would still be a hack monster, but at least someone could have taught him how to steal a base.

    I think Schafer really needs to work on his defense. He looks completely out of control when patrolling the field. He’s going on nothing but talent out there.

  86. I don’t have a solid definition, as I’ve never done any sort of statistical analysis of the matter. I was working under the, as you say, more traditional 28-32 definition. From my personal experience this seems pretty reasonable, but I’d expect that it varies greatly from person to person depending on a long list of genetic and environmental factors. In any case, I’d say 27 is very likely closer to one’s baseball prime than 25… but I’m not all that invested in it.

  87. @102

    Either Frank Wren could’ve lobbied for more payroll, given what the ROI on an additional $4.5M would’ve brought (a much better chance at getting back to the playoffs; and even ATL would sell out its next playoff homestand…well, maybe ;-))

    OR

    Trade Kelly Johnson and/or Kotchman…and let Infante play 2B full time. Deal with one of the “superstar benchwarmers” being put into the lineup fulltime. That would clear up at least $2.8M.

    Or, if we’re talking about letting Dunn play LF (which I would’ve been willing to put up with), just trade Kelly to clear payroll. I think this organization could find a way to come up with $1.7M.

    With Dunn’s bat in the lineup…man, this team would be completely different.

    Either way, I enjoy your posts, Gadfly.

  88. @106: Sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest I was unfamiliar with the definition given to “replacement player.” I just find the idea to be an exercise in academia, which has its place, but shouldn’t necessarily be referenced when dealing with non-hypothetical situations.

    The only reasonable replacement we have for Jeff currently under our control is Brandon Jones, and I’ve shown too many times already why I believe he’s more likely a diminishment than an upgrade relative to Francoeur. (If Garret/Diaz continue to flounder he might be useful there, but I need to get more of a bearing on that platoon before I could say for sure.)

    We could look to add a bat, and I’m sure we have, but until we make a move it is premature to assume a “replacement level.”

  89. I don’t think Francoeur realizes it, but his blatant hacking in the last series marks the beginning of the long goodbye. He’s not going to get it.

  90. @109: Thanks for the comment. I’m glad someone enjoys them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to see Dunn’s bat in the lineup. Even if he weren’t having a career year so far. From the outside I know it looks pretty easy to move a few contracts around and make up the needed cash, but I think it probably is a lot harder than it appears. Sadly, I don’t think Liberty Media would’ve been any more flexible… my guess is that at the time they weren’t confident that Dunn could’ve made the team into a realistic playoff contender. Following that mindset, if Atlanta can keep pace in the division, as we have managed to do despite the early season struggles and injuries, Liberty might step up and give us the flexibility to make a significant move around the deadline.

    Also, while trading Kelly and playing Omar sounds pretty good to me now, I think you would’ve seen a great deal of outrage around here at the time. Especially if it was solely a salary dump, and didn’t bring an equal return (which would’ve been hard to do without adding back almost as much payroll as we gave up.)

    Frank Wren really had a tough task going into this past offseason. Just too many holes, and not enough resources to fill them. While hindsight may show a mistake or two, he managed to put us in a position where we could reasonably compete in this division, and that is really all that I expected back in February.

  91. Stu, you’re missing by a wider margin than Jordan Schaefer.

    Your ‘Dores need to lose a few baseball games so my Cats can squeak into the Tournament.

  92. hank,
    Huh? I’m right on the mark and am confused by the repeated accusations that I’m off.

    As up-and-down as we’ve been, I’m not taking anything for granted, but I will say that I like our chances with a 2-game lead and a home series against the worst team in the conference this weekend. Your RPI may be good enough to sneak into the NCAAs even if you miss out on the SEC Tourney, though.

  93. Francoeur is above replacement level, but not by much. I hate replacement-level. If there was one concept I could banish from sabermetrics it would be this. It’s not necessary (we can all agree on what average is) and “replacement” players worth is not determined by the league minimum. Also, I’ve done quite a bit of work on aging, and I am quite convinced that peak age is 29-30. But some of the online “sabermetricians” don’t like my work. Their loss, in my opinion.

    I think we’re to the point now where Jeffy is keeping the position warm for his replacement. Why not just run him into the ground while allowing Heyward and Schafer to get ready. Mix him in a group with Diaz, Jones, Anderson, and Blanco. If that upsets Delta, so be it. There still people out there who think he’s an above-average player. He’s not, and I don’t know what else can be said to convince these people.

  94. It’s people like Frenchy that make me feel like I could be a major league ballplayer. Absolutely rediculous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *