79 thoughts on “Winter festival open thread”

  1. oh and here is where I got that bit on Fredi’s projected lineup…

    per Bowman….Gonzalez projects utilizing Uggla and McCann in the fourth and fifth spots of the lineup, and seems optimistic that Jones will be able to spend a majority of the season proving effective in the third spot of the lineup. If forced to immediately decide, Gonzalez said he would likely use Martin Prado as his leadoff hitter and put Nate McLouth in the lineup’s second spot. But he said he might be open to flip-flopping this duo. “For me, those are the only two guys you can put in the leadoff spot,” Gonzalez said. “I know when they put Prado in the leadoff spot, the team took off. Maybe we’ll start with that it. We’ll see how Spring Training goes. But for me, those are the two options. “The lineup I have in mind, everything being equal, everybody being healthy, Prado fits better leading off, because then you go left, right, left, right, left, right — all the way down.” With Prado and McLouth projected to fill the top two spots, Gonzalez foresees beginning the season with Heyward sitting in the middle of his lineup in the sixth spot.

  2. sounds about right to me. But if Chipper doesnt rake I would put Heyward or Mcann/Uggla 3rd and bat the other 4th to provide some protection. I dont think Chipper is too proud to hit 5th 6th or 7th

  3. The key to all of this is, of course, McLouth not being awful in 2010. In a lot of ways, that’s the key to the whole season. If the Braves get anything near league-average production from CF, they should have a very solid lineup no matter how you flip it. Having Heyward in the 6-hole takes pressure off him, which I kind of like. Plus, for whatever it’s worth, it gets him in the mindset of driving in runs and hitting for power, which is the right mindset for a player like him (IMO). But if McLouth is sitting there with a .340 OBP and Heyward’s got a .390, then you’ve got to make a switch.

  4. 5- That’s almost exactly how I feel. I’m skeptical about AAG as well, but at least with him, I can talk myself into believing that a good defensive shortstop who hits 20+ HR’s is better than most teams have.

    Nate doesn’t have the defensive chops to fall back on, and what it boils down to is that no one has any idea on how he’ll do offensively in 2011. It sucks going in on basically hope alone. Still, I think we can easily be a top 3 team in the NL if we stay healthy.

    Happy Christmas all. Braves are by far my favorite sports team and this place makes it that much better.

  5. Gonzalez is probably not going to hit 20 home runs in 2011, though. Something was going on in the Rogers Centre this season.

  6. if you’re thinking PEDS, A LOT of people have and there’s been no evidence. PLUS, your logic is flawed, seeing that Hill, Snider and Lind all had horrible years.

  7. Over the course of a full season there is no functional difference between batting McLouth (at .340 OBP) second and Heyward (at .390) fifth or sixth. It won’t make any difference at all. If that is the only thing Braves fans are reduced to complaining about in 2011, it will be a Merry 2011 indeed.

  8. I don’t know about PEDS, but 8 of 9 starters had 20+ HR (giving Gonzalez his ATL HRs). That’s the only team in the AL, from a quick check. Interesting.

  9. @ chris, 8

    I wasn’t implying PEDs, more like what spike said. Something is weird when you’ve got a handful of guys putting up serious power numbers outside of their career norms.

    Maybe some kind of weird park effect, stemming from a slight change to the grounds? Perhaps something more sinister; air conditioning hijinx, a la the Metrodome. Maybe their screwing around with humidifiers/dehumidifiers, on the balls a la Coors field, or even in the air circulation system.

    I don’t know. I didn’t express any theory or opine any logical progression, or profess to have any evidence. I just observed that “something was going on in the Rogers Centre this season.” If that something was just a natural mid 90’s renaissance in 2010, then that’s still a weird fluke that can’t be counted on for Alex Gonzalez in ATL next season.

    But, outside of that little misunderstanding…. You’re going to tell me that none of Alex Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, John Buck, Aaron Hill, or Vernon Wells could possibly have been using steroids, amphetamines, corked bats, voodoo dolls, or anything else but ash, maple and god given talent, because Hill, Snider, and Lind had bad years? And that’s why my logic is flawed?

    Let me reiterate, that wasn’t my logic or the point of my observation. But if it WAS… that’s weak.

  10. I don’t really have a frame of reference for that. I don’t know if that split, or that total is high or low or average compared to the league. It doesn’t look too drastic of a split, though the total seems high.

    Worth knowing would be how that compares to the league, and to Toronto’s previous seasons. Also, I wonder if there was any outlier month or 6 week stretch.

  11. I do believe there’s a HUGE difference between batting 2nd or 6th in a line-up. When you plot a line-up its important to limit a player like to McOut in plate appearances. I would guess that the difference between hitting 2nd or 6th is probably 40 at bats in a season. The idea that he can bunt in the 2nd spot is very questionable other than a first inning that Prado successfully leads off. I’d rather keep Jason #2.

  12. Echoing the Merry Christmas to everyone.

    My brother had a flight out to Dallas to see our sister and niece today, and it was one of those that got canceled yesterday. So they had two options for other flights- one through Cincinnati and one through Minneapolis. That really doesn’t make much sense to me.

    He got the one in Minneapolis which has 20 minutes between connections and his flight from Atlanta got delayed. He might be spending the night in Minneapolis. I’m sure he’s happy about that.

  13. Merry Christmas all! Snowing here at my place on Christmas Day for the first time in many years.

  14. I got a baseball (allegedly) signed by Hank Aaron and one by Yogi Berra for Christmas. They look awesome.

    Merry holiday season of commercialized altruism to all! And a happy march toward the impending 2012 apocalypse.

  15. Man, it’s beautiful here in Kennesaw! Three inches and more on the way.

    Merry Christmas, y’all!

  16. Smitty – Chattanooga is the best kept secret in the South. If I was fresh out of college, I think I’d try to catch the wave that is the next fifty years of growth you all will experience.

  17. Someone here has mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. If you are in NC, SC or Johnson City TN, find a Cook Out and get a milkshake, it will change your life.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  18. @26, we were offered the Minneapolis route too, and declined for that very reason. I got an Airtan flight (which were not preemptively canceled) and made it out, before THEY started canceling flights at 2pm today – before snowflake one, mind you.

    Hope your brother got through it –

  19. Thankfully they got to Minneapolis on time and they actually held the plane for him and a few other passengers from his flight. So he made to Dallas OK after all.

  20. I missed the explanation for this – why are they postponing the Vikings v. Eagles game if it’s in Philly?

    Apparently, Hugh Hefner is engaged again.

  21. True dat.

    You can take a train to the Eagles stadium, but getting to that game by car would be a nightmare. Anybody driving in this stuff right now is out of their mind.

  22. Mac, if you want some fun baseball reading, “Why is the Foul Pole Fair” is a neat book about the minutiae surrounding baseball (why the lights are positioned the way they are, which bat models are the most popular, etc.) Not sure if that’s stuff that interests you, but I’ve loved it and it’s super cheap on amazon.

  23. How can this be any more obvious?

    In 2010: Heyward .393 opb McLouth .298

    i.e. put Heyward in one of the top three spots. Hell, Heyward even had more stolen bases last year, and the Braves aren’t going to steal many bases anyway. Why worry about speed in the lineup at all? McLouth should put up better numbers than last year, but by no stretch of the imagination should he be higher than 6th in the order.

  24. McLouth doesn’t historically have a terrible career OBP; it’s .337 for his career, and he has a .085 career isoOBP, which means that if he can keep his batting average above .260, his OBP will be decent enough. Obviously, last year, he couldn’t come anywhere near that. But if he isn’t permanently broken, he isn’t unplayable at the top of the order.

    Obviously, Heyward should be in one of the first three spots. But if Chipper were out and Heyward was #3, and McLouth wasn’t as thoroughly lost as he was last year, he might not be the worst choice for #2. I’d rather see him at the bottom of the order, but whatever.

  25. 45- The question is, how long of a rope do you give him to hang himself, and then, what do you do?

    Maybe he’ll bounce back, but excluding the, “it’s hard to believe he lost it so quickly” line, (of which I question the validity) there’s no real reason to suggest he will. I can think of numerous guys who’ve fallen off a cliff and never got back there.

    Regardless, I hope the FO is coming up with a worst case contingency plan that inspires more confidence than Joe Mather.

  26. Fredi is doing what any good manager would do when hired at a new company — signal to the respected veterans that he intends to rely on them. If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, you know how important that is to the beginning of your tenure.

    I forget where I read this (maybe someone knows the study), but over the course of a season the batting order position which receives the final plate appearance in any particular game is basically random, so each position in the order receives about 18 (162/9) fewer PAs over the course of a season than does the prior position. So the difference between the #2 spot and the #6 spot is about 70 PAs over the course of the season.

    A .050 OBP difference applied to the #2 spot would then translate to 3.5 extra times on base. If you project a .070 difference in SLG between McLouth and Heyward, that would be 5 extra bases. Give the #3 hitter credit for one extra time on base in those extra PAs — let’s say he hits a double. The total effect of switching McLouth and Heyward would be about 5 extra baserunners and 7 total bases.

    It’s not intuitive that the effect would be that small, and lots of people believe that renders the lineup not worth worrying about. I believe that a small but definite and measurable effect is absolutely worth worrying about. If you can do this one thing and know that you’ll derive a slight benefit, you should do it.

    But that’s counterbalanced with the nebulous effect of people management, so the cost of having McLouth begin the season at the top of the order and letting his play determine what happens from there is understandable. Gonzalez has the right to make a few decisions in the interest of solidifying his clubhouse position. Then when it becomes time to make a difficult or unpopular call, he’ll have banked the good will.

    The real effect, of course, would be on Heyward’s personal stats. He’d lose 25-30 times on base and 35 or so total bases. As a fan, I’d prefer to see him get those extra opportunities. I suspect he’ll end up getting most of them.

  27. Two days late, but I’ve been mainly internet free since before Christmas – but Merry Christmas (and Happy New Year, while we’re at it) everyone! Here’s to a great 2011

  28. Great work, sansho!

    I’d sure rather see Heyward get those extra 70 opportunities than McLouth.

    How about:

    McCann / Uggla
    Uggla / McCann
    McLouth (primarily to minimize the DP)

    Man, the bottom of the order scares the hell outta me.

  29. I’d rather have Freddy at #7 and AAG at #8, or Freddy at #6, Louth at #7, and AAG at #8. AAG is, to his credit, a known quantity. Freddy and Louth are pretty much unknowns at this point, though I think the chances are pretty good that they’ll both hit somewhere around .270/.340/.400. Which is fine at the bottom of the order.

  30. Didn’t realize this:

    Over the last fifty years, Buffalo has lost half their population and is down to around 250,000.

    Can you say “Los Angeles Bills”?

  31. Sansho – That is a lucid and well-made argument. Overruled.

    – F. Gonzalez

    (Saw My Cousin Vinny on TBS last night.)

  32. Insomnia focuses the mind, I guess.

    My family expatriated from Buffalo in ’73. My mom likes to tell the story of our first day there, struggling to inch along the sidewalk during a snowstorm to get to the bank to open an account. And about the time the wind shifted during the night, resulting in snowdrifts against our front and back doors. Dad went out the window to dig us out.

    So yeah, I’ll take Atlanta for all its flaws.

  33. I have a front-row seat to the snowy entrance of the 59th Street Bridge (the Queens side) & it has been very entertaining so far today. Why anyone is driving at all is beyond me, but I’ve seen some real automotive episodes.

    I just saw a guy go “out thru the in door” from the bridge. He tried to exit the bridge going the wrong way & got stuck right in the middle of the entranceway. It was the classic “oh-shit” moment.

    The bridge traffic stopped completely & we watched this guy inch back & forth for a good 10-15 minutes, his front tire spinnning most of the time, until he finally got enough steam to blast thru and hit the side street. Despite his original dumbass move, gotta give him credit for determination.

    Another guy got stuck in front of my building early this morning & blew his transmission trying to get out. He was near the bridge entrance, so the city finally sent a tow-truck. But by the time they got there, his van was basically entombed in snow. So that, too, was an adventure.

    Thank goodness the diners, delis & Chinese restaurants are still delivering in my neighborhood. It’s still pretty ridiculous out there.

    Go Falcons (both of ’em).

  34. Alex – Doesn’t it make sense to avoid having such a free swinger in the 8-hole? I would imagine that, considering the pitcher is on deck, the #8 hitter sees less to hit than anyone else–and if you put a guy like Gonzalez there, he might just strikeout more. On the other hand, with McLouth batting eighth you could get more base-runners.

    I’d also add that McLouth is probably thrilled just to be in the lineup. He had one of the worst seasons in modern memory last season, and now is set to make $7.5 million while starting at a critical position on a playoff team. He could probably handle the indignity of batting eighth.

    All of which is to say: it’s entirely possible that Fredi Gonzalez is putting the faster guy at the top of the lineup–Full Stop. Let’s not forget that this is the same guy who gave Emil Bonifacio 500 top-of-the-order plate appearances in 2009.

  35. I don’t care how minute the results, putting McLouth any higher than 6 makes me want to throw up all over Fredi’s head.

  36. well, Nate does have a career .260/.350/.532 line from the 2 hole. Im trying to be more optimistic these days.

  37. How ’bout that Falcon defense, huh?

    Ethan, I wouldn’t do it, though there are others who are far lower on JJ because he doesn’t have a sparkling strikeout rate. It really depends on whether Gardner can repeat the .383 OBP he posted last year despite the fact that he has no power, and whether Jurrjens can maintain his career 3.52 ERA despite having a career K/BB under 2.0 and K rate under 6.5. Both are slightly anomalous players. I’d rather keep JJ, but others may disagree.

  38. That tip drill by Abraham to himself was incredible.

    I see your point AAR, and don’t really feel strongly about it. Just thought it was an interesting question. Gardner’s contract situation compared to JJ’s tipped the balance for me.

  39. What about Jurrjens’s contract situation tips the balance for you? Unless I’m misreading Cot’s, he’s just one year ahead of Gardner’s service clock. And his performance in 2009 is better than anything Gardner’s ever done, for what it’s worth.

  40. I agree with you that they’re anomalous players, but a lot of the way I would value Gardner in this scenario includes his ability as a defensive center fielder (especially relative to what the Braves currently have). Depending how you factor defense, it also makes Gardner’s 2010 comparable to Jurrjen’s 2009. JJ’s durability concerns me as well. From what I know, Gardner’s got a pretty clean health record.

    None of it’s quantified that well, but when you throw in an extra year of team control on top of that, I think the Braves are getting the better of the deal. Again, I don’t feel strongly about it; that’s just where I’m coming from.

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