Braves 5, Blue Jays 1 (again)

Box Score

Maybe winning every game 5-1 would get boring. Let’s try it for a few weeks and find out.

Brandon Beachy started and did Brandon Beachy things, striking out eleven in six innings and allowing only one run, on a solo homer by Jose Bautista. By that time, the Braves already had two runs as Dan Uggla did an un-Atlanta Uggla thing and hit a two-run homer with Freeman aboard in the second. Brian McCann, the best catcher in baseball, did Brian McCann things in the third and hit a homer with Heyward aboard in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-1.

Of course, Jo-Jo Reyes was pitching, so virtually everything that happened can be considered a Jo-Jo Reyes thing. Finally, Brooks Conrad did a Brooks Conrad thing and hit a pinch homer in the seventh, though it wasn’t that clutch a situation. This led, inevitably, to Fredi Gonzalez things, using Jonny Venters to pitch the eighth the day after he pitched a night game (he allowed two walks and a hit but no runs) and Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. Kimbrel did not do Kimbrel things; he threw a perfect inning but with no hits, strikeouts, or walks. Weird.

You have to love the way Beachy pitched — eleven strikeouts, two walks, just four hits and one big mistake. If he could be a shade more efficient, then we’d be getting somewhere.

277 thoughts on “Braves 5, Blue Jays 1 (again)”

  1. I love me some Beachy! Schafer had a really great game that doesn’t look so great in the box score (could have easily been a 4-4 day for Jordan and maybe the cycle) . Hopefully he’ll turn the corner and be what people envisioned he’d be 2 years ago.

  2. From the last thread:

    @128 Minor has the looks, but Beachy has the goods.

    Yay for winning and for Brain McCann. Maybe this is the year he gets to start the AS game.

  3. JC’d
    just returning from a Neil Diamond concert in Hamburg. old man still rockin’. nice Braves game it seems. Wow Beachy!

  4. 10 games above .500 again, great pitching against a very good hitting team. Not real sad to see Yunel leave ATL once again.

  5. I didn’t see the game, but I’m glad that AAG got to rest and was spelled by Lugo. As much as I was pulling for Diory to make some contribution, he just doesn’t look like a major league infielder – much less a shortstop. Lugo’s definitely lost some range, but I don’t see how he can do worse than Diory.

  6. MRSA isn’t a good manager, but right now the world looks pretty rosy.

    Gonzalez isn’t a bad manager. I think you guys judge him too harshly. I think you let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  7. Sam, I defended Bobby Cox more than nearly anyone else on this board, and I even defended, or refrained to criticize, the current manager for the first couple weeks of the season. Similarly, I defended Terry Pendleton last year, because of all those walks we drew; I criticize Parrish chiefly because this team lost the single thing it did best last year, which was to earn bases on balls. I do not reflexively criticize everyone on the team.

    I criticize the current manager based on the criteria that were mentioned in the last thread: his propensity to bunt, this team’s historically terrible baserunning and stolen base rate, his bullpen management (including his hesitancy to use anyone other than Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel in late innings, and his willingness to bring in Scott Proctor with runners on base), his decision to bat Alex Gonzalez second, and his unwillingness to challenge umpire’s decisions to the point that it appears that he’s hanging his players out to dry. Our offense this year has been horrendous, and it does not seem to be a coincidence that we have given away numerous outs at the plate and on the basepaths through bunts and caught stealings.

    You appear to believe that all of these criticisms are groundless. But on what grounds do you say that he “isn’t a bad manager”? What is your evidence that he isn’t a bad manager? Why do you empirically believe this to be the case?

  8. Taking your points in order:

    I think the propensity to bunt is a “perfect storm” sort of deal. Gonzalez showed a fondness for the bunt in Florida and he brought it along with him to Atlanta, but it’s not something that will significantly hurt a team. Unfortunately, on top of that mostly harmless propensity we’ve had a team decimated by injury, where only one of the primary offensive contributors has played up to par (Brian McCann, the best catcher in baseball.) The injuries have put AAA talent into the ML lineup, and that has led to more attempts by Fredi to “manage” his way to wins – “small ball,” hit and runs, bunting, etc. It’s frustrating, but not damning to the manager IMHO. I suspect that if they get a healthy Prado, Chipper and Heyward in the lineup at the same time, and maybe even an Uggla that remembers vaguely how to play the game of baseball, you will see a lot less “small ball” from the manager.

    The base running has been bad, but again I think at least part of that is due to peripheral talent being forced into starting roles, and trying to do too much to “make something happen.” If you want to hold Fredi responsible for the bad fundamentals of the fill-in talent, I understand that.

    Using Kimbrel and Venters is just standard operating procedure. I honestly think you guys (yeah, I know, I shouldn’t group everyone together, but I am so deal with it) have set up a no-win situation there. If he goes with Kimbrel/Venters outside of “save” situations he gets rung up for overusing his stud horses. If he goes with one of the lesser bullpen lights and that guy gives up runs, he gets lit into for using Linebrink or Proctor. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t from where I’m sitting. I can understand the “don’t use Proctor in any situation” line of thinking, but if you’re going to reserve V&K for critical situations then you’re going to have to use the rest of your pen sometime, including Proctor and Martinez.

    I have no problem with batting Gonzalez second. Lineup order is at best peripheral over the course of a season, and meaningless in any given game. And AGony has only been used at the top of the order on days where the rest of the order was AAA filler, more or less, which makes Fredi’s arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic less than interesting to me.

    I think Fredi’s lack of arguments is only noticeable due to the guy he’s replacing. I suspect that at the end of the season we’ll see his ejection percentages in line with other managers who are not Bobby Cox. And I suspect that his refusal to imitate Cox in that area is somewhat intentional. I don’t hold it against him at all.

    I am not prepared at this time to offer a defense of Lance Parrish as a hitting coach.

  9. But on what grounds do you say that he “isn’t a bad manager”? What is your evidence that he isn’t a bad manager? Why do you empirically believe this to be the case?

    Taking this point separately, I offer a couple of facts as exhibits in the case of “Fredi is not a bad manager.”

    1. His players haven’t said a word about him. If the he starts to lose the clubhouse I’ll re-assess.

    2. His team currently holds the second best record in the NL, is the current WC leader behind a stacked Phillies club, is the fourth best team in all of baseball, and has amassed this record while playing through massive injuries to their starting offense.

    A manager’s job is to win baseball games. Fredi Gonzalez’s Braves have been winning baseball games with AAA and AAAA talent instead of Martin Prado and Jason Heyward, while their stud acquisition from the offseason has been impersonating Queen Victoria. Who is dead. Punching the guy for the small stuff seems out of line to me when he’s managing to get wins enough to be a top tier team without Prado, Heyward, Uggla, McLouth and only half of Chipper.

  10. It’s often said that generals are always fighting the last war. Perhaps Fredi’s lack of ump-confronting is his way of differentiating himself from Bobby.

    I hope not. That was one of the things I liked about Cox. The older I get, the more I’m convinced that nearly all umps have the soul of Barney Fife.

    Wish Fredi could have chosen “don’t burn good relievers down to the ground” as his signature.
    —————

    Minor? Beachy? What the hell is DLowe still doing on this club? Even if we have to give him away for next-year’s salary relief, it’s time.

    Minor and Beachy give us everything they’ve got. Lowe shows every sign of being quite disinterested.

  11. Alex, do you really think that the manager’s decisions have THAT much influence on the won loss record? That the hitting coach controls how many bases on balls a team takes? Were you one lf those guys that said that the braves were doomed when Mazzone left? Is it Fredi’s fault that as a team we suck at base stealing? just because a guy has the green light doesn’t mean that he HAS to run. The Braves have the 4th best record in the majors despite underwhelming performances by two major players and a rash of injuries. You have the right to criticize, but my ultimate measurement is the win column.

  12. Minor? Beachy? What the hell is DLowe still doing on this club?

    1. Because his contract is difficult to move.

    2. Because Tommy Hanson is on the DL with shoulder stiffness, which should terrify the living bejeezus out of his fans, because that’s some Kerry Wood type shit right there.

  13. Perhaps relevant to the odd discontent we have with Fredi is Wren’s very recent observation that “it seems like we’re five games under .500”.

    Yeah, me too, Frank.

    We’ve left so many wins on the table that the objective yet out-of-context W/L totals seem to be a lie. Facts but not Truth.

    Today may explain a lot, though. When Uggla hits, all is right in BravesLand.

  14. Yeah, Hanson’s mechanics have always frightened me. But he’s been pitching so effortlessly lately that I’ve been whistling past the exit to Dr. Andrews.

  15. As one of the primary complainers about the use of Venters and Kimbrel in today’s game, I can only speak for myself in saying that I’ve got no problem with using Proctor, Martinez, or Cheryl in the 8th and 9th with a 3+ run lead. Failure of any of those pitchers in that situation would certainly lead to criticism of the pitcher, but not to Fredi.

    Also, the small-ball, over-managing, Larussan crap was going on long before our lineup became depleted through injuries. I’m specifically thinking of the Hanson start back in late April(?) where Fredi called for the bases loaded squeeze with Hinski on 3rd and Hanson batting, and the constant bunting of McLouth when he was hitting second early on.

    It’s one thing to manage to an antiquated “Book” and implement some sub-optimal strategies out of duty to tradition, but it veers into the realm of ineptitude when you don’t even pick relatively good situations in which to use those tactics, and that’s the Fredi Special.

  16. justhank,

    Thanks for making my day.

    “Those girls who had the great personalities and made their own clothes can surprise you sometimes.”

    “The older I get, the more I’m convinced that nearly all umps have the soul of Barney Fife.”

  17. Don’t get me wrong, I love the team. We’re really good, and I think the offense is going to get hot at some point and bring the season averages up to right around normal. But as Johnny says in #18 – managers don’t have that much influence on the won/lost record, so it’s perfectly possible for Fredi to be pretty awful all while the team rolls along with the winning. The playoffs will be a completely different story I’m afraid, but I’ll be happy just to get there personally.

  18. As one of the primary complainers about the use of Venters and Kimbrel in today’s game, I can only speak for myself in saying that I’ve got no problem with using Proctor, Martinez, or Cheryl in the 8th and 9th with a 3+ run lead. Failure of any of those pitchers in that situation would certainly lead to criticism of the pitcher, but not to Fredi.

    I take you at your word. I am commenting on the overall vibe the occasional visitor to BravesJournal gets. I’ve made my case as non-high-horsey as I can.

  19. Only allowed 2 runs in a three game series. That’s pitching like f***ing success.

  20. Only allowed 2 runs in a three game series. That’s pitching like f***ing success.

    This team currently reminds me of the ’93 Braves, before they acquired McGriff. Hopefully some form of Prado+Uggla can mimic that acquisition in the second half. McCann has been playing the part of Jeff Blauser.

  21. Things I like about Fredi:

    1) The lineup tinkering. Lineup construction might be little more than luck and alchemy, but he’s at least trying to hit upon an effective combination.

    2) The bullpen usage. We have the best bullpen ERA in baseball by a full quarter of a run. You wanna argue about that? Because I don’t. Pitchers get hurt or they don’t. If they do, fix them and find someone else in the meantime. This is pretty much what every team does. I hope I don’t have to choose between the playoffs this season and Jonny Venters’ left elbow in 2014, but if pressed I’ll take the banner.

    3) The clubhouse continuity. I sense no discontent with Fredi among the players, and whether or not that translates to wins, it definitely translates to me enjoying being a fan.

    Things I don’t like about Fredi:

    1) The sac bunting. There are managers who don’t do this very often…we just haven’t had one, ever.

    2) The infrequency with which he argues on behalf of his players. This may be an effect of watching Bobby all these years, but I sense a reticence in him to mix it up with the umps.

    3) The baserunning blunders, which SEEM to be the result of a teamwide edict to be aggressive at all times. I except from this the caught stealings — we have a slow team, and so it’s appropriate that we have the second fewest SB attempts in the league. It’s more the number of times we get nailed on the bases during balls in play. I honestly don’t get it.

    I actually agree with Sam quite often, but I roll my eyes at what a pill he can sometimes be about it. But I have as little interest in pursuing that line of conversation as I assume he does.

  22. 5K per day is good. Be careful with the legs and knees if you’re just getting back into the habit, though. Overuse injuries sneak up on you.

  23. I’m not sanguine about Fredi, but you could certainly argue that all the rest he’s given Brian McCann, the best catcher in baseball, is working.

  24. I actually agree with Sam quite often, but I roll my eyes sometimes at what a pill he can sometimes be about it. But I have as little interest in pursuing that line of conversation as I assume he does.

    I have a delivery. Some people get it. Some people don’t. But I’ve been doing it, in basically the same tenor and tone, for damned near 20 years now on the internets. It is what it is.

  25. @32 It’s taken me awhile to build up to it, and I’ll be sure to watch out for injuries, I’ve heard some awful stories.

  26. I did my first official 10K last Saturday. On track for the 13.1 half marathon in Buckhead this fall. Have been on the bench with a trick knee (likes to randomly hyperextend of late) this week. Not happy about it at all.

  27. I’m running my sixth straight Peachtree this year, but unlike five years ago I’ll be sporting arch supports, heel pads, ankle braces, and tape.

  28. I tend to avoid the big people-gathering races and opt for the smaller crowds at smaller runs. I also tend to look for trail runs as often as possible.

    We’re doing the Serenbe 15K in October, the 13.1 in Brookhaven, and the Florida Tough Mudder in December. (We did the GA Mudder last April and had a blast.)

  29. #36 you are young, but take it from a guy that tried too often to ‘run through it’ listen to your body and take some time off if you hurt. My kids tellme that I sound like a bowl of rice crispies when I am walking up the stairs.

  30. Kudos to you guys for your hard core running abilities. I will never look at rice krispies the same way again.

  31. Ok, what advice do you give someone who just flat out hates to run? Im in fairly good shape and I get plenty of cardio with sporting activities, but I just cant run up and down a street. I find no enjoyment in that. Any ideas?

  32. Don’t bother? Or find a hiking trail with some elevation changes. The cardio is nearly as good, the scenery way better. I never train for a “race” by running — I just go to Stone Mountain and do the Cherokee Trail (5 miles up and around the mountain) at a brisk pace.

  33. So Bethany, you’re now 6 miles from home? Must have run past a Starbucks with a hot spot. (Although why you’re running with your laptop is beyond me…)

  34. Manager Resistant to Sabermetric Analysis

    Fredi Gonzalez is a member of SABR, actually. He attended the SABR convention in Atlanta last year, while out of work (post Marlin firing.) He sat through a few of the presentations on Saturday.

  35. Disclaimer: Being a member doesnt guarantee knowledge or future results.

    BMac now has an .903OPS
    Conrad has an .886OPS

  36. In terms of players voicing concerns about Fredi: I have heard from someone who hangs out with Hanson that the starting pitchers as a whole don’t like him because he brings out the hook too quick. I can’t say that I would have made that argument, and as this comes (indirectly) from someone on the DL with shoulder stiffness, feel free to take it or leave it.

  37. @51- That’s funny, because I would go as far as to say pulling pitchers at the right time is Fredi’s single strongest suit.

  38. csg,
    I pretty much hate running as well but I get my cardio in through playing basketball or tennis. Also, swimming is a good alternative for, too, if you’re good at it. (I’m not)

  39. @56 – Agreed. If the starters are complaing about an early hook that means Fredi is using his best asset (the pen) properly.

  40. #58 – Trace, yeah thats pretty much me. I play tennis, softball, flag football, and basketball all the time. I spend plenty of time on the golf course also. I love being outdoors and dont mind running if its within a sporting activity. Ive never run trails but I just cant hit the treadmill for hours and hours.

  41. I think Fredi has left some pitchers go 100+ pitches more often than Bobby. Too lazy to check. No starter want to be taken out.

  42. # of 100+ pitch starts, by year since 1991:

    73,88,76,63,61,65,76,87,80,68,64,63,69,68,72,61,51,49,70,65(2010),25(2011). On pace for 53.

    It should be noted that the 51 in 2007 was among a rotation including a 40-year-old Smoltz, plus Carlyle, Reyes, Cormier, James, Davies, and Redman.

    2008 (49) wasn’t much better. It seems clear that Cox rode GOOD horses significantly harder, even late in his career when pitch counts were being paid attention to.

  43. I run because you get more cardio bang for the buck. 20-25 minutes of running = 1 hour of walking and its way less hassle than swimming. My best advice is get partners. I started with 1 guy and now I run with 4. Same with weight training. The fox hole mentality keeps you from blowing it off. That and my partners dish out the crap if you miss.

  44. I see Fredi as a “young” manager who is still finding his way on how to be a good one. He would consider everything but sometimes I think he is simply lost. I think Fredi will eventually be a good one, but he is not there yet.

  45. Suprised that there were 65 in 2010, but there was several HOF pitchers in many of those years. There are a few rookie pitchers with starts this year, Lowe had a few games he pitched too long last year. 2008 was a tough year for Brave pitchers.

  46. The Vandy pitcher threw 126 pitches in 7 innings tonight. Not that you want to do that every night, but he looked really good even at the end.

    You don’t want to go all Dusty Baker on a kid, but if you are cruising 120 pitches, is not that bad, whereas 95 when you are having to max effort it with guys all over the bases can be exhausting.

    I hate this 100 pitch count mark as the end all be all of pitching.

  47. @64 I think it depends on who. Fredi is more willing to let Huddy and Lowe to pitch longer. I think I am fine with that. Gotta protect our assets!

  48. @69

    Not true. Hudson threw 100+ pitches in 18 of 34 starts in 2010, and is 4 for 15 this year. Lowe threw 100+ pitches in 28 of 67 starts in 2009-2010 (41.8%), and is 6 for 16 (37.5%) this year.

  49. I agree with @66. I’ve certainly done some stupid crap in my first couple of years of professional life that I’d like to think I will learn and improve from, so I’ll definitely give Fredi the same benefit. But this is still a baseball blog – if bitching about relatively insignificant things wasn’t allowed our even encouraged by the forum, I doubt any of us would be here.

    On the cardio discussion, I get extremely bored and discouraged by distance running too, so if I’m not playing racquetball for exercise, I’ll do interval running or biking instead. Plenty of people say it gives the most bang for the exercise buck, and it keeps my attention much more effectively.

  50. Useless info — as of this moment, Starlin Castro’s and Carlos Pena’s 2011 slash stats are as follows, respectively:

    .324/.353/.444
    .222/.352/.444

  51. 2011 NL rank among the 78 qualifiers:

    BA – Castro 5, Pena 73
    2B – Castro 1, Pena 78
    HR – Pena 10, Castro 67
    BB – Pena 3, Castro 73

  52. Another nice win….I am not a fan of Freddy, but I think under the circumstances the Braves’ success is impressive. I with those (yesterday) who think that the hatred towards him is unwarranted….

    With respect to running, age matters: I am battling achilles tendonitis, which is incredibly frustrating. At the moment, I am having to using other machines in the gym….I am envious of those of you getting ready to enter races as I really miss running….

  53. @69 Thanks sansho1. Can’t argue against fact! I guess my observation is wrong.

    @72 Of course this shouldn’t stop us from bitching!!! All these bunts and the lack of fundamentals piss me off.

    @73 Who would you rather have? I guess I would take the SS anyday over the 1B if they deliver the same level of offense.

  54. I hate Frediball. We’re winning in spite of Fredi because we have talented players. Also, because Fredi is leveraging Venters, O’Flaherty, and Kimbrel at an unsustainable pace. Not even Bobby was this hard on his top guys.

    Maybe Fredi can turn into a good manager, but I’m not sold right now.

  55. I’ve heard that pitch counts for guys older than 25 are not as big a deal. Their bodies are basically more mature and developed by then, and you’re not significantly risking injury by keeping them in for 20 pitches more (give or take). Personally, I’m more wary of a guy facing a lineup for the 4th time than I am of him throwing a few pitches north of 100.

  56. I want Greg Maddux to come back to ATL and manage.

    I’m convinced he could lead Myrtle Beach to the World Series. Or even the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Man, I loved watching Mad Dog pitch. Interesting to remember a time when the Braves made big splashes in the free agent market…vs random whiffs.

  57. @77 Riding on two or three key relievers DEFINES Bobby’s bullpen management style.

    Who doesn’t love Mad Dog?

  58. While on the subject of fitness, I went to my first Tai Chi class today and learned what to do when confronted by an angry drunk grabbing you by your lapel.

    And that martial arts isn’t meant for jeans.

  59. @79

    Pence would be great, although I suspect the Astros will drive the cost of trading for him so astronomically high that we’ll pass.

  60. 61 — My thoughts exactly. I haven’t really had a problem with Fredi’s management of the pitching staff. The results speak for themselves.

  61. @83 Yes, that’s because there is no jean in China when Tai Chi was developed, ha.

    I would imagine the Astros would ask for Teheran/Degaldo for Pence and Wren would then cut off the call. I imagine we are not listening to any offer for Beachy now.

  62. Do we know what contract Pence is on? If we only have control to until up to the end of next year, I would not trade either Teheran or Delgado. Hell, I will not trade Teheran for Pence, period.

  63. If the Braves must go west, San Diego’s not a bad place to start. Thankfully, it’s the weekend.

    Get well, Mac, and give ’em heck, Braves.

  64. @88 – That’s the key thing with Pence and even Bourn – they’ve got rental-length contracts (you’d have them for the rest of this year and 2012). You look like Omar Minaya when you trade top prospects for rentals unless those rentals are going to be the difference between playoffs and no playoffs, and that’s just not the case with Pence or Bourn, because our outfield should be expected to be pretty good going forward anyway. Heyward has walked and hit since coming back, Schafer has played like a 3 WAR player so far, even with low power which looks like it might be improving (see yesterday’s game), and Prado is just fine in LF.

    Now, I’d be pretty happy with a Bourn trade, just not for a top prospect in baseball like Teheran or Delgado. Throw some quantity of B prospects at the Astros for him and I’d be delighted. But I just don’t see a fit for Pence. He’s kind of an average defender in RF, and that’s not going to improve in center which is the only place for him. So his value, which has already been less than Bourn’s, will go down even further.

  65. I know it’s a longshot and we’d have to consider his history with Fredi but what about Hanley? Would A-Gon+Teheran+tier 2 Pitcher be enough?

  66. @93 You’d have to make the huge assumption that he’d get his head out of his ass if he was in contention. No way.

  67. I had a softball game yesterday afternoon, so I’m late to the whole “Is Fredi really that bad” debate that raged at the beginning of the thread. I’m not offering an opinion at this juncture, but I do have some question for those who claim that Fredi is wholly inept and that managers routinely have a meaningful impact on the game:

    Isn’t your argument inherently flawed? If managers have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the game and Fredi is wholly inept, wouldn’t it be practically impossible for us to have the 4th best record in MLB?

  68. If second basemen have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the game, and Uggla is wholly inept, wouldn’t it be practically impossible for us to have the fourth best record in MLB?

  69. Let’s say Fredi cost the team four wins with his shenanigans. Even with those four wins, we’d be a half game back of the Phillies.

    Four losses is a huge impact, and I’m pretty sure Fredi is not that horrible, but the Braves could still have the record they have with him being that bad.

  70. Is it not possible people simply just don’t like Gonzalez?

    The way the Braves held a coronation for Gonzalez this past offseason, instead of making a real effort to look around and find the best candidate, was odd.

  71. I don’t think likability is really a factor. I’ve seen interviews with Gonzalez and profiles of him, thanks to rain delays, and he seems like a great guy. Bobby Valentine seems like the kind of guy who might inspire me to leave a party early. I am 100% certain I’d rather have Valentine managing the team.

  72. @95- That logic is inherently flawed.. A meaningful impact does not equate to complete control.

    Dan Uggla has a meaningful impact on games, and he leads the universe in out-making.

    Also inept: Brandon Hicks, Diory Hernandez, Scott Proctor… They make meaningful impacts.

    And no one is saying ‘wholly inept,’ anyway. Wholly inept would be slotting Tommy Hanson to lead off and play left field, and bringing Brian McCann in to pitch in the 3rd, in relief of Brooks Conrad. Maybe trying to double-switch the umpires, or something.

    He knows what major league baseball looks like. He certainly has an functioning knowledge of how a team should be run. The argument is simply that he is a suboptimal choice as manager because he chooses suboptimal tactics (bunting with his 2-hole hitter in the bottom of the first when he’s already down 2 runs) and strategies (his structured use of the bullpen and the failure there-of to leverage the strengths of his bullpen.)

    To say we’ve won a lot of games and to say we’ve left a lot of wins on the table are not mutually exclusive.

  73. Well said, JoeyT. I fell victim to simple logical reasoning. Can I blame lack of sleep?

    @81: Everyone talked about Mad Dog’s cerebral approach to the game, but I’ve always envisioned him having difficulty communicating his genius to the less astute and suffering from serious lack of tact.

    Sounds like the makings of a great sitcom, now that I think about it . . .

  74. @100: Well said again. I must’ve been sick the day they taught law at law school.

  75. I will add that personally, I believe his suboptimal tactics are tactics used by ALOT of managers in baseball. Things like, using Proctor, his worst reliever, to pitch the 8th when we are down a run (a game very much in doubt, where it is important to hold them so we can come back) and using Venters, his best reliever, to pitch the 9th when we’re up 4 (a game that is NOT in doubt, and in which allowing 1 or 2 runs would not matter in the least.)

    I think a lot of managers think that way. If I’m down, well, I was supposed to lose, so it’s a chance to rest my best. If I’m up, I sure as hell better win.

    I just don’t think Joe Maddon thinks that way… Farnsworth is the closer on that team.. and.. gasp.. I saw him come in as the first arm out of the pen last week, relieving the starter in the 7th with two men on!

    That’s proper leveraging (say what you want about Farnsworth, but he’s the horse that GM gave him.)

    A lot of managers don’t do that. But I don’t want those managers. Since I’m not affiliated with a major league club, and no one listens to me anyway, I can be as picky as I want.

  76. @90, I think the pendulum has swung to where defense is getting a bit overvalued. A 28 yo of who sports a current 321/.361/.497 and .291/.339/.483 career line is worth a ton, and he outhits Bourn by 30 points of OPS+. If he can play CF twice a week, LF twice and RF once, he’d be just what the doctor ordered. I don’t think anyone would really manage like that, so I take the point he’s not a perfect fit. But he’s a much more useful guy than Bourn, to this team anyway, imho.

  77. Let’s say Fredi cost the team four wins with his shenanigans.

    Let’s say you provide some evidence for that number.

  78. I’d certainly appreciate Bourn if he was on my team. Hell, I appreciate what Schafer brings, and so far he’s been a poor-man’s Bourn. In that sense, Bourn is an upgrade.

    But if I’m TRADING for someone, spending talent that I can’t take back and spend somewhere else later, I don’t want a better Schafer.

    I want someone right-handed, and someone who can hit the ball out of the ballpark once in awhile.

    I basically want a Martin Prado-type, who can play a decent CF. Just someone who can hit right-handed, hit 15 homeruns, get on-base at a minimum .330 clip, that they can stick in the 7 hole.

    If there’s a guy like that, but 25 HR power, a .500 slugging percentage… Where do I sign up? (I think Pence could play CF. I’m probably wish-casting.)

    Back to Bourn, I’m not convinced that Schafer won’t develop to BE better than Bourn. He’s had such a bizarre career, I wonder what he’d become if you just left him alone and he could just play baseball for 6 months straight.

  79. If managers have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the game and Fredi is wholly inept, wouldn’t it be practically impossible for us to have the 4th best record in MLB?

    Relative stats aren’t as meaningful as absolute ones. 4th best can mean just about anything. Comparing the total wins to some other theoretical aggregate value has it’s own flaws to be sure, though.

    Secondly, evaluating performance based on wins seems a bit wrong headed as well. If someone manages terribly, but wins a particular game, it doesn’t necessarily validate their performance. Managing the clubhouse, starting pitchers, bullpen and in-game tactics seem to be the bulk of the job – Fredi is very good at the first two, shaky on the third, and really, not so good on the fourth. How you value these things should drive how you view his performance. Outcome based valuations as opposed to process based ones can lead to all sorts of bad decisions (“Hey – I hit a full house playing 2-7! I’m going to bet it every time!”).

  80. You guys probably wouldn’t even be happy with Tony LaRussa (Best Manager in Baseball and Certified Genius).

  81. A manager costing his team x number of wins is impossible to measure. Also, I don’t really see anyone giving Fredi credit for any wins for making the right decision like pulling a starter at the right time or using a successful pinch hitter. He’s also getting his regulars a decent amount of rest and not overextending the starters. If you’re going to burn through someone, I’d much prefer it be in the bullpen. Bullpen guys have a history of being dominant for 3-5 years and then falling off the map, so why not get the most out of them while they are at their peak. The argument is that you don’t want to burn out your bullpen aces early in the season when you need them the most and I get that, but we are playing in a ton of close games, the guys are going to get overused.

  82. It sounds a bit like a cop-out, but many people have offered the position that it’s easier for a manager to lose a game than to win it: while a good manager doesn’t necessarily make a team that much better, a bad manager can make a team a great deal worse.

    That said, the bulk of the manager’s importance is in holding together the clubhouse and getting the most out of his players, something Bobby did surpassingly well. And, similarly, the current manager seems to have a similar track record with his players: overperforming pitchers and underperforming hitters.

    The thing is, the defenses offered for the current manager appear to be either tautological — we’re winning, so clearly that must mean that the manager is doing something right — or simply belittling the criticisms, as if to say that because bunting doesn’t do that much damage then it’s pointless to criticize the manager for making bad decisions.

    I believe this team is winning despite its manager. I hope it continues to do so.

  83. The hope was that Schafer could have been Grady Sizemore before the injury. If he can even come close to that prediction in the future, then you’d have to think he’d be more valuable long term than Michael Bourn, who hits a lot of singles and steals a lot of bases.

    If we were to make a trade before the deadline for some lineup help, I’d rather it be a big splash that I know is going to help the team tremendously. I don’t think the addition of Bourn plus the subtraction of Schafer means we’re all that much better than we were before.

    Matt Kemp on the other hand would probably make us the World Series favorite. It’s not going to happen but I’d say if we can’t get that type of player than we should just stick with what we have, which should still be one of the top offenses in the NL. Emphasis on “should”.

  84. @109- Yesterday was not close enough to use Venters back to back and 4 of 5.

    He’s still leading the league in appearances, and we’ll see what people say if he burns out in September and the Protologist ends up pitching the 8th when the season is on the line. O’Flaherty has already shown signs of breaking down.

    Hopefully I’m wrong and these guys are bionic, but Venters is on pace for Saloman Torres territory, and there’s a reason most guys don’t go there.

  85. @109 – “We are playing in a ton of close games, the guys are going to get overused.”

    These are two true statements. We are playing a ton of close games. The guys are going to get overused.

    The problem is that he uses Venters, O’Flaherty, and Kimbrel whenever we have a lead, not because the game is particularly close.

    Like I said, a lot of managers think this way. If I’m losing by 1, there’s no guarantee I’m going to win this game. And since I can only, more or less, use my best guys 75 times or so. I don’t want to waste one of those 75 on a game I’m not going to win.

    But the other side is, you could use your best guys even when you’re losing if you didn’t insist upon using them when you’re up 3, 4 or 5.

  86. Look I won’t argue and say using V & K was correct yesterday, I would’ve loved for them to rest as well, however we can’t know that Sherrill or Linebrink wouldn’t have coughed up the lead there.

    Wasn’t there a game earlier this year where we had a four run lead and the Lisp was brought in only to give up the lead and ultimately lose the game. I think most of the criticism centered on leaving him in too long but you can’t have it both ways. I’d much rather be complaining about overuse in the bullpen than complaining about having blown a game we had in hand.

  87. Then again, games that weren’t close might become so if we didn’t keep giving away outs.

  88. #112 – Is a 4 run lead really large enough for Scott Proctor? I get what you are saying but in the end Venters will end up pitching < 100 innings. Giving the team the best chance to win by playing your best available players is IMO good managing. I am just guessing that Fredi doesn't operate in a vacuum. If Venters were tired and couldn't pitch wouldn't that be communicated to the manager in some way?

  89. @115- I agree, it is a dicey situation. That’s the reason managers think that way.

    I just want a guy with cajones. I want Joe Maddon.

    And anyway, you’ve got 7 men in the pen (Or 8? Am I missing one? Martinez, Proctor, Sherill, Linebrink, O’Flaherty, Venters, Kimbrel) If you’ve got 4 guys who can’t get you through 3 innings without giving up 4 runs, then you need to designate some asses for assignment. You’re sealing your own fate, bringing about the inevitability of an injury to one or more of your three best, so that you’ll be increasing your reliance on those bad relievers later.

    Maybe Fredi is counting on Moylan and Medlen to step in later should something go wrong. Maybe he’s charging the line because he’s sure the cavalry is on it’s way. I don’t know.

    Anyway… I might not be of the class that irks you so much, as I think I’m pretty reasonable on what I think of Fredi. But I think I understand their ire enough to debate with you.

  90. @116- Maybe outs wouldn’t be so away, if they weren’t having been given so close.

    Wait, I’m confused.

  91. I’m nor really irked by the Fredi criticism, I scream much of the same stuff at my TV that people post here and I think he’s not a great tactition, though I think it gets overblown a bit here. I was just trying to make the point that arguing that he’s costing the team games is a bit ridiculous. We can never know what the outcome of a game would’ve been had a manager made a different choice.

    Take Monday for example-say he had left Hudson in to finish the shutout and Huddy gives up a 3-run HR and we lose the game. Well Fredi didn’t leave him in and Kimbrel nailed down the save. I can just as easily argue that the correct decision there won us that game, as one could argue the infamous based loaded squeeze cost us a game earlier this year.

  92. I’ll tell you what I don’t like about Fredi, and I don’t need any evidence at all for this: I don’t like the stupid face he makes when something questionable happens on the field to the detriment of the Braves and he just sits there in the dugout like his feet are buried in concrete. And the way he speaks, particularly the “cap-tipping”, makes me want to hurl. These things are totally subjective and other managers probably do them too, yadda yadda yadda. Sue me.

    Beyond that, he probably has a smaller impact on the game than it seems, but I do think it is his job to put his players in the best position to succeed, like any manager anywhere. And with the limited number of things he has control over, he doesn’t seem to do a great job of it. I was at that game vs. the Mets when he called for the bunt squeeze with the bases loaded and McCann on third. That is a perfect example. The Braves can win despite those things (they just happened to lose that game), but I think you want to minimize the amount of times the team has to win in spite of the manager. Anecdotally, they seem to do that once a week at least.

  93. Secondly, evaluating performance based on wins seems a bit wrong headed as well. If someone manages terribly, but wins a particular game, it doesn’t necessarily validate their performance

    Not to get all high-horsey and bitter-pill here, but you do realize how completely circular this logic allows you to be, right? “The manager’s terrible!” “But they won.” “They’d have won better if the manager wasn’t so terrible!”

    You’ve set yourself up for an irrefutable position by declaring a priori that the counterfactual proves your case.

  94. @117- It’s certainly possible. I understand why anyone would be hesitant to use Cheryl, Linebrink, and Proctor in any situation. What genuinely puzzles me is that Asencio, Varvano, and Abreu all seem like they deserve a shot and have been rotting in AAA.

  95. Sam, @ 105

    Best evidence of the problem measures the mismanagement at 1 game.

    It DEFINITELY is SOME evidence.

    Other than opinion (which goes both ways) or winning percentage (which still doesn’t mean the team ought not to be better) do you have SOME evidence MRSA has not failed to manage this team in a relatively efficient style?

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings/_/type/expanded

  96. @121- I see what you mean. It’s all subjective. And you can’t give full-credit or full-blame for an entire game.

    I was only following along on my phone for that game.. and when I saw Hudson was still the pitcher in the 9th, I thought “What on earth is he thinking? A complete game shut out is nice.. but come on, 2 run lead and we’ve shown no signs of life tonight! Gimme Kimbrel here!”

    You can say he won that game by going and getting him. I can say sending him out at all was a mistake, and he caught it just before it bit him.

    But you’re right. He’s not managing in a vaccuum. In this case, I’d say he’s balancing factors. For his team, for his pitching staff, and for his veteran pitcher, he had to give him a chance. But putting two men on with no one out was pushing it too far. So he got him out just in time.

    Maybe for that game, sending Kimbrel out to start the 9th was the perfect tactic, and sending Hudson out at all was wrong.

    For the TEAM, for the SEASON, maybe he handled that one just right.

  97. On a slightly different note, is it just an organizational philosophy for the trailing runner to get caught in a rundown in order for a run to score? We’ve done it quite a few times this year and we seemed to always do it under Bobby. Just wondering if anyone else noticed.

  98. Other than opinion (which goes both ways) or winning percentage (which still doesn’t mean the team ought not to be better) do you have SOME evidence MRSa has not failed to manage this team in a relatively efficient style.

    The team is winning beyond the talent base it has fielded this year. Winning percentage, while playing a significant load of scrubs from AAA, *is* the argument. The job of a manager is not to be efficient. The job of the manager is not manage autistically to the SABR-book rather than the Conventional-Wisdom book. The job of the manager is to win.

    Given the players he’s had to play, due to injuries and poor performance out of Uggla, Gonzalez’ team is winning above it’s talent level right now. I take that as more weighted toward “good/bad” than a single call for a sac bunt (that Tommy Hanson should have at least fouled the hell off to save the runner.)

  99. Not to get all high-horsey and bitter-pill here,

    You? Perish the thought.

    You’ve set yourself up for an irrefutable position by declaring a priori that the counterfactual proves your case.

    Well, only if you choose to view it as such. IOW, if I teach my child to only cross with the WALK sign, and someone runs a red light, that doesn’t invalidate the process. My point was, if you are happy about the way Fredi handles the processes of running a club, I think absent total collapse, you have to respect your own judgement in what you hired the guy to do. Conversely, if he limps you into the WC by a game because another team collapses, shreds a couple of young bullpen arms and gets swept while making a bunch of poor tactical decisions, “We made the playoffs!” is hardly an affirmative defense.

    /I am certainly NOT predicting this to occur, just making up a credible example

  100. Well, only if you choose to view it as such. IOW, if I teach my child to only cross with the WALK sign, and someone runs a red light, that doesn’t invalidate the process.

    The obvious counter here is that managing a ML baseball club successfully is hardly as cut and dry as teaching your kid not to jaywalk.

  101. @129- That’s not very objective evidence. You say because we had scrubs up from AAA, because we had injuries, then we SHOULDN’T have the number of wins we do..

    The team wins because they don’t give up any runs. How are we in 1-run games? How are we compared to our pythagorean record?

    I suppose you could say ‘they don’t give up runs because they use the bullpen effectively.’

    I could pick up a phone once a day and say ‘Give me Venters!’ too.

  102. @132, Absolutely. But the idea of evaluating someone or something on process instead of result is logically sound, despite your objections in 124.

  103. @134 – True. But in order to evaluate based on process instead of result you must first presume that you know the proper process. Notably, in this case, you must assume you know the proper process better than 90-95% of the men who have been tasked with that process over the course of the game’s history.

    Not to come off all Murray Chass on the question or anything, but that’s quite the presumption to make, no?

  104. A fan without an opinion is called a “casual observer”.

    There are elements of process that are subjects of great disagreement among baseball men themselves. If you pay any attention, these are matters upon which you’ve formed an opinion.

  105. @137 – My position boils down to “the team is winning above its talent level.” Is that counterfactual? I don’t think it is, but I’m willing to hear the argument.

  106. Sam, @129

    I gave you objective provable evidence of bad manager performance. We are 1 game behind our pythag projection. That evidence is not guaranteed or certain, but it is objective, probative, material, and suggestive. You gave NO objective provable evidence. And then, you actually contradicted yourself in presenting that non evidence.

    “the talent base it has fielded this year” has produced more runs than such “talent” has allowed. As of yesterday I believe it was the 4th highest run differential. So, you are arguing that the team has either (a) scored more runs than its “talent” should have scored (and PECOTA and ZIPS and everybody else projected based on extensive methodologies which are re-tested for correlation higher offensive performance and although not certain, when these methods “cluster” you have HIGHLY predictable and thus objective data) or (b) the “talent” should have allowed less runs to score than it has (and the projection systems did not think this pitching talent would be this good). You basically believe your completely subjective evaluation of the talent is more accurate than the projection systems and also more accurate than the actual runs scored and allowed.

    Then, AFTER USING THE TALENT AVAILABLE argument, you bring in Uggla’s bad performance. “the available talent” included Uggla. Yet, he hasn’t produced. So, if it is the bottom line of runs scored runs allowed, your “talent” argument fails. if it is projected performance, your argument fails. Just admit it is just your opinion and you don’t have any objective evidence to support it.

  107. This CWS is really getting good. I went out there three years ago and just loved it. Recommend it highly.

    Surely Vandy will be starting Sonny against the Gators?

    How did Stallings end up at UNC?

  108. Sam, your position boils down to, “The manager is making bad decisions, but the team is still winning. Therefore the manager is good.”

    But I’m not sure I agree that the team is winning above its talent level. It’s an extraordinarily talented team where nearly all the hitters are underperforming (including many of the people who have been injured, such as Prado, Heyward, and McLouth) and most of the pitchers are overperforming.

    You said, “A manager’s job is to win baseball games.” I disagree. The players are the ones who score the runs and turn the outs. The manager can’t win the game for them — as many a manager has pointed out after a particularly wrenching loss — but he can increase or diminish their chances of winning through in-game decisions, and through the more subtle art of managing personnel and enabling players to get the most out of their talent. The manager’s job is to increase his team’s chances of winning. I simply don’t believe that this manager has done that for his team.

    Sure, I’m happy that we just swept the Jays, but there are a lot of warning signs that this team is going to limp to the finish line. With all of the extra-inning and one-run games we’ve played we’ve played a lot of high-leverage baseball, forcing the top relievers to shoulder more than their share of the load, and Moylan and O’Flaherty have already sustained injuries. Considering that Venters and Kimbrel are still at or near the top of the charts in reliever usage, and EOF remains up there despite his time off, it seems inevitable that this team will sustain more reliever injuries. This manager has not structured his bullpen usage to protect arms over the long haul of a season.

    With its horrible offense, this team needs a shutdown bullpen to win. I don’t think the team will be able to keep winning if our bullpen sustains more injuries.

  109. You basically believe your completely subjective evaluation of the talent is more accurate than the projection systems and also more accurate than the actual runs scored and allowed.

    Now who’s getting all bitter pill?

    Anyway, I believe that 1 game differences between Pythags and Actuals is well within the margin of error. You are building a towering edifice upon the slickening sands of false precision.

    Then, AFTER USING THE TALENT AVAILABLE argument, you bring in Uggla’s bad performance. “the available talent” included Uggla. Yet, he hasn’t produced.

    I do not hold Fredi Gonzalez responsible for Dan Uggla’s struggles this year. I don’t think any reasonable man would. Sometimes bad shit just happens.

  110. 141—Sonny will start Friday. If there’s a Saturday game, not sure whether Ziomek or Garvin would start. I’d go with Z, but I bet Corbs would go with Garvin.

    Jacob isn’t at VU because he would’ve sat for three years behind Casali. Kevin and Corbs are besties.

  111. But I’m not sure I agree that the team is winning above its talent level. It’s an extraordinarily talented team where nearly all the hitters are underperforming (including many of the people who have been injured, such as Prado, Heyward, and McLouth) and most of the pitchers are overperforming

    You can’t say injured hitters are “underperforming.” They’re injured.

  112. Saw this on CAC and thought I’d repost it here.

    Top four w/l records in MLB so far this year including salaries:

    1. Phillies 172 million
    2. Red Sox 161 million
    3. Yankees 202 million
    4. Braves 87 million

    That’s pretty damn impressive.

  113. @143,

    Come on. It will cleanse you. Admit you have no provable data.

    How is your evaluation of available talent not subjective? Cite any scintilla of evidence.

    I know that one game pythag is not CONCLUSIVE proof, but you haven’t provided ANY objective proof.

  114. It’s pretty clear you guys have a certain article of faith here and there’s little point in arguing it. I’ve made my point. I’ve tried to do it in a manner that doesn’t bring out the whinging chorus. I suspect I’m not the only one here who agrees with me.

    I’m going to return to snark bombs and sarcasm now.

  115. I know that one game pythag is not CONCLUSIVE proof, but you haven’t provided ANY objective proof.

    Neither have you. You’ve cited one game of pythags. That’s no more proof positive than me not citing margin-of-error statistics is proof negative. It’s margin of error.

  116. If you’re saying that the team has ‘over-performed the available talent,’ but we aren’t going to hold him accountable for individual under-performance, then you must mean we’re producing wins at a level greater than our on-field production would suggest. We’re producing results greater than our performance.

    We have a worse record than our pythagorean record would suggest we should have. 1 game may be within the margin of error, but in no way can that suggest our results are BETTER than our performance.

    Further, we have a worse winning percentage in 1-run games than we have in all games. We are 14-13 when the margin is 1 run. We are 29-20 by all other margins. This would tell me that the bulk of are wins are outside the range that would be most effected by managerial decisions. We are winning when we outplay them. We aren’t winning when we play at a roughly-equal quality to the opposition. Further, we are outplaying other teams more often that we are being outplayed (29 to 20.) We are being played to, roughly, a draw as often as we are outplaying them (27 to 29.) When we are played to, roughly, a draw, we aren’t winning anymore than we are losing.

    With a bullpen like ours, we should be better in 1 run games. ESPECIALLY since he’s wearing out the best arms.

  117. @ 149 Bobby was behing phythag recently too. What is standard deviation for that stat anyway?

  118. The only thing I’m really sure of is that people will complain about pitcher abuse regardless of how innings are portioned out — the only difference is who will be the cause celebre. Many fans believe Cox and now Fredi are particularly egregious in their abuse of certain arms.

    Meanwhile…

    # of pitchers used per season, Braves (NL average)

    2009 – 21 (23)
    2010 – 21 (23)
    2011 – 18 (18)

    An excess of pitcher injuries would tend to result in a greater than average number of pitchers used, wouldn’t it?

  119. Sam, you demand proof of every assertion! You said Fredi’s team has ‘over-performed the available talent,’ and they haven’t! The results are roughly in line with the performance!

    You said “bettter!” Numbers say “same!”

    You demand proof of every assertion from everyone else, and when you make a dumb, unprovable assertion, you fall back on accusations of “group-think,” and fall back in to the myst of “snark bombs and sarcasm.”

  120. @153- Most of that is because we use so few starters, and are so stable there.

    We have proven vets and high-upside depth and aren’t often left reeling when a Hudson or a Medlen goes down with TJ surgery.

    I see what you’re saying, and I mostly agree. But a more in depth analysis would have to focus on non-starters, and include length of pitcher career, effectiveness, time missed due to injury… And there’d be so much noise due to the randomness of injury. There’s just no easy way.

    I think consistently having multiple relievers in the top 5 in appearances is bad news. You shouldn’t have 2 or 3 of the most used relievers, year after year.

  121. Sam, you demand proof of every assertion! You said Fredi’s team has ‘over-performed the available talent,’ and they haven’t! The results are roughly in line with the performance!

    I think I see where you’re losing it here.

    I don’t say we’ve out-performed our pythags. I don’t say we’ve won more games than our run differential would predict. I never make that claim.

    I say the number of runs scored, which drives pythags, which are in line with our actual performance of win/loss record, is higher than it has a right to be. I say a team that has to field Joe Mather, Matt Young and Diory Hernandez with relative frequency *shouldn’t score the number of runs they have scored.* It has nothing to do with run differential or pythag projections.

  122. @124, Sam nailed the argument I so poorly attempted @95.

    As the comments have rolled on, though, I now see this whole conversation is pointless.

    Can we just take the position that Fredi is a mad genius whose decisions defy all logic but somehow work out due to cosmic interference? In other words, Fredi is the Les Miles of MLB.

  123. But a more in depth analysis would have to focus on non-starters

    Only if your primary concern is non-starters, and not the overall health of the staff. The tension between overusing starters and overusing relievers is zero sum. There are a more or less fixed number of innings to fill up, and a presumption of some degree of injury. Given that, I prefer to see relievers bear the additional strain, as even good relievers are more replaceable than good starters.

  124. The difference is that Les Miles assembles his roster. Gonzalez is largely handed a roster and asked to manage it.

  125. This year Venters, Kimbrel and O’Flaherty are 1, 2, and 8 in all of baseball. Only Dusty Baker’s Reds have as many as 2 in the top 10.

    2010 we were the only team with 2 in the top 10. (Moylan, Venters.) That’s in all of baseball.

    2009 we had 3 of the top 10 (Moylan, O’Flaherty, and Gonzalez.. Soriano was number 11.) Again, all of baseball. (Mets also had 3 that year.)

    2008 we had 2 of top 10 (Ohman, and Boyer.) (Mets had FOUR of top 10.)

    2007 we had only 1 of the top 10 (Moylan.) Dodgers and Nats each had 2.)

    2006 McBride was 31st.
    2005 Reitsma was 15th.
    2004 Reitsma was 4th, Alfonseca was 12th.
    2003 King was number 3.
    2002 Smoltz was number 17.
    2001 Remlinger was number 15.

    When the pen was a team strength, Bobby rode his horses hard. When it wasn’t, it looks like he didn’t.

  126. @159, I think the problem people see isn’t that he’s overusing the bullpen as a group but that he’s overusing certain relievers over others. Asencio has been on the active roster for a while, but he hardly has any innings.

    I don’t know if I have too much of a problem with overworking the pen, but noting that it’s a zero-sum ignores that some pitchers on the team almost never pitch.

  127. When the pen was a team strength, Bobby rode his horses hard. When it wasn’t, it looks like he didn’t.

    You ride the horses you have. So far in 2011, we’ve had a couple of thoroughbreds in the pen and some quality talent in the rotation. Hopefully in the second half our offense will not be decimated by injury, Uggla can put it together and we can give those horses a break down the stretch.

  128. I like Fredi.

    From what I’ve read today, there hasn’t been one whole hell of a lot of irrefutable evidence exhibited on either side of this argument. Fredi is not the world’s greatest in-game tactician. He’s probably not the worst either. Would you swap managers with the Cardinals?

    I don’t see how Fredi’s been as much of a drag on team performance as the tools he’s had to work with. Jeez Louise, Mather, Lucas, Diory, Young: John McGraw wouldn’t have out-performed our record with those scrubs.

    Chipper’s a part time player and a shadow of his HOF self. Prado’s been out for what seems like forever and still has a ways to go before he can contribute. Jason the Anointed hasn’t played often or well, and Uggla probably hasn’t played quite as well as we’d hoped.

    Moylan, the second best right arm in the pen, is out until at least August, and we’ll be lucky to get Medlen back by then. Under the circumstances, the Braves have done okay.

    It’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools, but what Fredi’s made with the tools he’s had is respectable.

    Or what Sam said.

  129. It’s really when he chooses to use the relievers that bug me. Tying run at the plate with runners on base screams for Venters, not Proctor. Starting an inning with a four run lead might be a better place for Proctor (or Asencio or any other arm you don’t mind wearing out) than your super awesome A+ guy who’s pitched 5 of the last 6 days.

  130. It’s worth noting that the names changed every year. He didn’t have one “Everyday” Eddie Guardado who just never slowed down. He used whoever was best, and used and used and used them.

    Moylan, Gonzalez and Soriano have all experienced major injuries. Moylan, TJ surgery, came back, used the same way, now out for back surgery.

    I don’t think starters really enter into it. I think it’s accepted that its safer to pitch 30 games of 6 innings, and do so on a 5 day schedule, than it is to rack up 92 innings pitching 80 days at random.

    Obvious proof is that starters lose innings to game scores, and relievers lose their innings to injury or injury prevention. If Lowe doesn’t get 200 innings, it’s because he got pulled, tactically, too often, to win games that he wasn’t in position to win. If O’Flaherty falls short of 80 appearances, it’ll be because his body couldn’t go some nights. That tells me that it’s accepted that relieving is dangerous.

    Starting pitcher injuries seem to be pretty random, at least, they aren’t appearance-total related.

    The only causation I can think of is red-flag appearances, pitch counts of over 125, in two out of 3 or 3 out of 5 starts.. Or perhaps innings totals for young pitchers.

    That’s pretty easy to avoid. You go out and get the pitcher out of the game. Who you choose to relieve him, and how often you choose that particular reliever… That’s harder.

  131. I would rather have seen someone other than V/K yesterday…but the win gave us a sweep and a winning homestand, and was followed by an off day and then a west coast night game, so my overall attitude is one of satisfaction.

  132. 163- I agree with that. Bobby was given flawed teams and wanted to win with them. So instead of worrying about ‘leveraging his bullpen’ as a single unit, he had to ‘leverage his roster.’

    You don’t see the Red Sox and Yankees having multiple relievers in the top 10. That’s because they score runs.

    Also, because they can afford to win games by building their roster to win expensively. Productive everyday players cost more than productive bull-pen arms. So if you’re on a budget, you try to leverage some wins out of an effective bullpen. That means riding your best relievers harder than the Yanks ride theirs.

  133. @168, When this team scores runs and has a reasonable lead, he still uses his best arms, even if they’ve pitched nearly every day for a couple of weeks.

    In most years, you could say that the Sox and Yankees don’t have multiple relievers in the top 10 because they can afford a deeper pen. This year, however, the Braves have a very deep pen.

  134. The Red Sox and Yankees can afford a deeper TEAM, not just a deeper pen.

    Four run lead in the 7th, I’d prefer he use Martinez-Linebrink-Sherrill.

    But, I get it. We don’t score runs. You gotta win the ones you’ve got.

    AT LEAST don’t use BOTH Venters AND Kimbrel.

    With back-to-back 5-1 wins, Tuesday he used O’Flaherty and Venters. Wednesday he used Linebrink, Venters, Kimbrel.

    That looks like Fredi is happy if he can give 1 of the 3 of O’Flaherty, Venters, and Kimbrel a day off.

    I’d be happy if he gave 2 of the 3 a day off. Maybe Sherrill-Venters finished Tuesday, and Linebrink-Sherril-Kimbrel on Wednesday.

  135. The Braves lineup, out of each spot, has hit so far this year:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/split.cgi?t=b&team=ATL&year=2011

    I took all of the numbers from each lineup spot, and put them into the lineup construction tool to project how many runs a game a team like the Braves should be getting. If a team played 76 games (like the Braves) and had this exact same production as the Braves’ hitting, they would be expected to score 295.64 runs up to this point.

    The real Braves have scored, you guessed it…..

    295 runs this year.

    So, to some posters: Fredi is not helping this lineup at all in any way, and is certainly not making it any better. To other posters: Fredi’s in game tactics have not hurt this offense. They’re scoring right as they should be scoring for a team that has hit just like them.

    Now, does Fredi actually put the right guys in the right spots in the lineup? After the earlier Heyward debacle, I would actually argue that the answer to this question is yes.

  136. Good grief. If the Phillies win their next game, they’ll be twenty games above .500. No one else in either league is close.

    I feel like Sham.

    Does “playing for the Wild Card” suggest different tactical moves than trying to win the division?

  137. desert,

    Your exercise doesn’t answer the right question.

    If you bunt unsuccessfully (double play or lead runner retired) that is reflected in the actual statistics like you used with lineup optimization. If you end up with a “strike ’em out, throw ’em out” on an attempted hit and run, those are in your actual statistics. So are places where an otherwise slow runner gets to third because of a successful hit and run. So the runs the Braves have scored tell us what this talent with Fredi’s tactics has achieved. Not what it could have achieved with say Earl Weaver’s tactics.

    What I would say about Fredi’s choices with offensive tactics is that the total number of runs would be higher if those were not used as often. That has been proven true with many years of data and many teams ASSUMING that the teams are proficient at these skills. However, no recent Braves team has been proficient at these skills.

    When a non pitcher bunts, almost always the predictability that at least 1 run scores does not increase and the probable run expectancy decreases.

    Also, some say if he is “within conventional wisdom of baseball managers” he is definitionally “o.k.” But that is not our fact pattern. On reliever usage, he is consistent with Cox, who has been shown to be extremely high (outside the mainstream). With bunting, he has exceeded Cox, who was the king (way outisde the mainstream).

    Another issue with Fredi. The drop in walkrate of most Braves players. If Parrish is the problem, then who hired Parrish? Who doesn’t fire Parrish? If Fredi likes the “more aggressive approach” it seems to me as if he is partly responsible for that. Increase the walk rate on these actual results and hold all other things constant and this team would have scored more runs.

  138. @171, all that shows is that the lineup order he chooses is fine. I have no problem with where he bats players. Anything else, like substitutions, the players he chooses to play, or tactical maneuvers like bunts, will be reflected in the numbers you enter. All that shows is that, after the players are selected, Fredi’s lineup ordering isn’t an issue. That doesn’t mean that he does anything else right.

  139. Because we don’t know the in’s and out’s of a manager’s thinking, I think we have a tendency to give too much weight to what he does, as it actually reflects his preferences.

    I will give Fredi the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t envision a lineup of Prado, Heyward, Chipper, McCann, Uggla, Freeman, Gonzalez, and McLouth and say “That’s a hell of a squad. We’re gonna lead the world in bunts this year!’

    I think managers see certain tactics as the course of action in certain situations. And when we had all these thumpers in there, and still weren’t scoring runs, I think that’s where the bunts came from. If you’re not a thumper, prepare to bunt. If these guys are gonna bat .235, I’m gonna do everything I can to turn each of their hits in to a run.

    Short version, if Uggla, Heyward, and Chipper had been more productive, I predict we’d less bunting.

    We, on the outside, take the easy route: “This dumb sonofabitch won’t stop bunting! He CAN’T stop bunting!”

  140. Also, desert at 171,

    This team’s obp leaders by batting order as actually played (your table) are batting #4, #8, #1, #2. If you reset them as #2, #1, #4, and #5 and run them back through the “run estimator” runs would have been hgiher. Thus, the argument that Fredi has optimized runs based on hitting the people he has put in th order he has put them is wrong.

  141. Teheran and Vizcaino named to the Futures Game World team roster, I guess no Delgado.

  142. If all you have is lineup configuration you’re grasping at straws.

    I hope Teheran and Delgado have their paperwork in order.

  143. When Fredi was hired I think Mac said it pretty well. He has all the negative managerial tendencies of Cox without the gravitas (or something to that affect). Fredi seems like a good guy and I would like to see him succeed. I haven’t totally given up on him, but nothing I’ve seen so far makes me believe that he’ll be an elite manager.

    I’m not crazy about Fredi’s bullpen management, but it worked with Cox and it’s working so far with Fredi, so I’m not complaining. The way he manages the lineup and the way he favors bunts are definitely not my preference, but he’s also had a terrible lineup to deal with for most of the year. I can give him the benefit of the doubt on this, but I don’t think things will change much when we have a full lineup and if our impact players are hitting. IMO Parrish as hitting coach is a mistake, but I don’t expect him to be replaced until next year.

    On the positive side, I believe Gonzalez has done a good job of pulling starting pitchers before they’ve totally lost it and his pattern of resting players seems to be decent. He also hasn’t gotten a DUI or said anything extremely stupid to the media so far.

    All in all, I’m not calling on him to be fired, but I still have some concerns.

  144. Well, at least we’ve gotten to the point where we’re arguing over whether or not Fredi sucks. Instead of it being, you know, universally understood.

  145. To be clear…

    I don’t think anyone here really expects that we would have scored 30, or even 10, or even 5 more runs this year with a change in Fredi’s managing. Even if we had a manager that optimized every lineup, executed bunts only in situations that required them, properly selected every pinch-hitter correctly… I doubt we’d have scored more than 5 runs more. And even if we had a completely boorish and incompetent moron as a manager, I doubt we would have scored 5 runs less. I can’t prove that, but if somebody would like to qualify or disqualify those statements, please do; I’m interested.

    My problem with Fredi is that he overuses the top three pitchers in our bullpen. I’m not going to dissect the times that he should/shouldn’t have used one pitcher over the other, because a case can be made for using your best pitchers when you’re less than 2 runs behind or less than 2 runs ahead. And it seems to be that in the majority of games, we are within that 5 run cushion of being ahead by two, one, tied, or behind by two or one. I just wished that in some situations that he called on Venters and Kimbrel and EOF, he’d choose Sherrill, or Gearrin, or Linebrink, or Martinez. I don’t care which situations specifically, just use them less. Overusing pitchers leads to injury, and I think that’s the real crime he’s been guilty of so far.

    I don’t like the fact that he bought Parrish along for the ride, and I wish that he’d do something about it; although I really feel that this is more Wren’s responsibility than Fredi’s. But my real hope is that he can change his bullpen management. Really, I can take anything else.

  146. Saw this to-day:

    Phillies – .627 $172,976,381 2nd
    Red Sox – .595 $161,407,476 3rd
    Yankees – .589 $201,689,030 1st
    Braves – .566 $87,003,192 15th

    Team’s with top winning % in MLB. Then their payroll and where it ranks

  147. Has anyone heard from KK lately? Seeing the budget numbers reported reminds me of a lot of dollars that Wren pissed away on a veteran hurler that just couldn’t make the adjustment.

  148. For the record, I’d like to see Sherrill and Linebrink worked into the pen rotation more frequently, and I’d rather see Gearrin, Ascencio or Martinez than Scott Proctor. The Proctor thing notwithstanding, I can understand where a manager might decide “jeez, with this lineup I’m going to treat every lead like a save situation, because we can’t afford to drop ANY games we’re ahead in after the 7th.”

  149. Oh…and the AJC is reporting that a Research Monkey is Missing from Emory.

    I’ll defer to the baseball & comedic brilliance on here to make a funny joke with that headline.

  150. @193, if in fact he resigned over his contract not being extended, well let’s just say I’ll bet it’s a while before he gets another one. Nobody likes a quitter, let alone a petulant one.

  151. @158 . . . Nice! “There are turkeys falling from the sky” /WKRP’d

    @183 . . . Great point.

  152. Way off topic but I’m desperate for some help and there are some bright, resourceful people on here-

    Does anyone know of any ways to do online research on European companies? In particular I am interested in Aixam-Mega, a French auto manufacturer. I’m looking for financial and market information, and I am not having much luck tracking this down. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated- thanks in advance for the help, and sorry for the very-non-Braves-related request.

  153. Riggleman’s WIKIPEDIA right now: James David “The Riggler” Riggleman (born November 9, 1952 in Fort Dix, New Jersey) is a former Major League Baseball manager and a big whiny Quitter.

  154. Scump @ 200 – I’d probably start with Hoovers.com. Maybe Dunn & Bradstreet. They usually have good info on Euros.

  155. Is Bobby Cox the next manager of the Nats? They could stage a Buntfest when the Braves play Washington.

  156. @ 202 & 203- y’all are the best. I truly appreciate your assistance. I love this site for the Braves discussion but also because it reminds me of being back down south- no doubt people are helpful everywhere, but that’s what I always remember when I think of my time in NC, SC, and GA. Thanks again.

  157. After watching his resign interview on mlb.com, I have drawn the conclusion that Jim Riggleman is one big a**hole. No wonder they didn’t want him to be around any longer.

  158. Jim Riggleman is not a good major league manager. There’s a reason they didn’t give him a long-term contract. He just cost himself a bunch of money. Honestly, who would want to hire Riggleman over their current bench coach?

    I mean, at least MRSA has Bobby’s blessing.

  159. It’s telling that he pushed so hard to leverage the most miniscule (and likely temporary) advantage. Real team guy, Riggleman.

  160. How long until the catastrophic stupidity of his decision dawns on him? A few more hours?

  161. I read his yearly salary was $600k.

    I would pick up the option, You can still fire him when the time comes. They throw that kind of money at 3rd round draft picks. And 16 year old Dominican kids.

    I guess unlike with the Dominican kids, they couldn’t just steal it back…

  162. I just want to take a moment and congratulate Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins. After the 2009-10 season, they were both projected as top 20 draft picks. Then, despite each having seasons in 2010-11 that did not satisfy doubters as to their particular weaknesses (halfcourt offense for TL, conditioning and strength for TT), they both decided to enter the draft. With the first round of the draft complete and neither picked, they’ll be signing non-guaranteed contracts in a league headed for a lockout. Way to go, fellas.

  163. And the Clippers got both of them. Congratulations, your boss is now Donald Sterling. Really, again, way to work it.

  164. At least Leslie will get some pub, what with the practice dunk-offs with Blake Griffin….

  165. Similar kudos go to Scotty Hopson of Tennessee, who didn’t even get drafted. I suppose, though, one could argue that going undrafted is better than getting drafted in the second round by the Clippers.

  166. Chandler Parsons got drafted. :-)

    Which is more than his ‘ole buddy Nick Calethas could say when he left two years ago. :-)

  167. I read his yearly salary was $600k. […] They throw that kind of money at 3rd round draft picks. And 16 year old Dominican kids.

    There are millions of people in the US who don’t make half as much in ten years, working their asses off. If I were in a position where someone pays me $600K for half a year of bench-sitting and tobacco-chewing, I’d keep my mouth shut.

  168. For those interested, the final tally of the Hawks’ trade last season is this: Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, and Maurice Evans for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong.

    I have no Mike Bibby love and think Maurice Evans sucks, but that’s horrendous–especially for a team with salary cap issues and no ability to go over the luxury tax line. I would rather have Singleton alone than Hinrich for 1 year at $9 million.

  169. #225 – Thats good news actually. He doesnt provide anything to this ballclub and now he’s no longer an option.

    also, “I heard Ward and June miss his shenanigans.”, what does that mean exactly?

  170. Leave it to Beaver stsrring Jerry Msther.

    A play on Joe’s last name.

    Edit: Or, yeah, what he said.

  171. Roy Oswalt is hurt again, with the back, and apparently hinting at retirement.

  172. Bold prediction: Atlanta will take the division by at least 2 games if Oswalt is out for good, despite the 10 games we’ll drop solely thanks to Fredi (kidding). Kyle Kendrick does not have any business putting up a 3.2 ERA. Of course, the Phillies will probably just trade for Felix Hernandez, in which case I retract my prediction.

    Edit: I see Justhank beat me to the trade for Felix. Seems like there’s a consensus that it will happen now. Crap.

  173. Man, our next 4 series look real promising

    ****For reference, Atlanta’s OPS+ is 91, ERA+ is 126(!)***

    @SD(3)
    team OPS+ 85
    team ERA+ 103

    @SEA(3)
    team OPS+ 83
    team ERA+ 113

    vs.BAL(3)
    team OPS+ 98
    team ERA+ 94

    vs.COL(4)
    team OPS+ 89
    team ERA+ 114

    Who knows how we play against AL teams we hardly ever see, but I think we should take 8-10 games here. I would be very disappointed with less than 8.

  174. #237 – I guess it depends on how many lefties we will see during that span. Those teams have some good lefty starters and of course they would all shut us down.

    Richard, Luebke, Bedard, Britton, Matusz, De La Rosa and Im sure there are others.

  175. Top 10 Greatest TV Characters of All-Time: Eddie Haskell from “Leave It to Beaver.”

    Parental ass-kissing, stereotypical bad-influence, completely full-of-shit kid. Totally hysterical character.

    #237
    Nice to play some clubs that can’t really hit. Oh, wait a minute…

  176. I never thought I would love Joe Mather for something he did. Then he had the four-hit game. And then he voluntarily took himself off our hands. I’m giving him a one-man standing ovation.

    By the way, not to toot my own horn, but I did my bit to contribute to the Google-bombing by calling Brian McCann “the best catcher in baseball” on Yahoo yesterday.

  177. Jerry Mathers had a great cameo as the Beaver in a Married With Children episode. Kelly and Bud teased Mathers relentlessly for the entire episode about being the Beaver, but Mathers had the last zinger, when he said, “Yeah, well at least my old man doesn’t sell shoes for a living.”

  178. @233-Willie Harris, Ryan Langerhans, Brandon Jones, Mark Kotsay, Gregor Blanco, Josh Anderson, Ryan Church, and ACHE offer a subpar salute.

    @237- I’m putting total runs +/- for the Seattle series at 10.5…for both teams.

  179. 242- I have Adrian Gonzalez on my fantasy team in the Braves Journal league and yet I’m still third to last in the standings.

  180. No such list could be complete without Dave Gallagher and Gerald Williams.

    Though truth be told, Iceman had his upside defensively.

  181. @243
    That was probably the best episode of MWC, ever. It was actually the 2-parter where the Bundy’s A/C went out, so they moved in to the local grocery store (after trying out a “new” A/C unit that was previously owned by Erwin Rommel). It also had a guest appearance by Bobbie Brown (of Warrant’s Cherry Pie fame).

    I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed that I remember that much about a MWC episode.

  182. Gerald Williams was a lifesaver with his career year in 1999 when Galarraga got cancer and Klesko moved to first.

    I have a big job interview today. Prayers and/or good wishes are appreciated.

  183. The two-headed Gorgon that was Chucky Thomas and Eli Marrero that one year that no one in the history of the world could ever hope to explain.

  184. Also, Michael Tucker was friggin’ sick in 1997. He was basically a left-handed Kenny Lofton, without the attitude. (Lofton was actually very very good that year too.)

  185. @ 233, 244, 246 and 247 – How could you guys forget one of the most subpar of all subpar outfielders? – none other than Raul Mondesi. Of course, Jeff Francoeur is in a league all by himself. Not necessarily for badness (Langerhaans and Mondesi’s numbers at times made Jeffy look like Barry Bonds in his prime), but longevity of badness.

  186. I haven’t forgotten Mondesi. I’ve repressed Mondesi. Thanks for bringing that back up.

  187. @253 – Ah yes, the old conundrum about how to evaluate peak suck versus career suck.

  188. I just remember Mondesi sucking at the plate, bad frenchy like, and then air-mailing every throw all over the field. He was awful.

  189. Wow, I had forgotten that Bragg and Tucker each had good years before sucking. My memories seem to be clouded by Tucker’s ’98 (244/327/418) and Bragg’s ’03 (241/305/284[!]).

  190. Driving back alone from Hartsfield just before dawn last night and happened across “Jessica” by the Allmans.

    Anybody ever see them perform that live?

    Was it great? Dissappointing? A religious experience?

  191. Mauer has only played 60% of time as catcher since he made big leagues. Not being able to play hurts his value.

  192. Good luck Braves14…hopefully you and Mather aren’t interviewing for the same job. But maybe that would be a good thing for you….

  193. Wow, I had forgotten that Bragg and Tucker each had good years before sucking.

    Perfectly understandable. It’s like how no one really remembers how happy we all were when we first acquired Keith Lockhart to replace wheels-done-fell-off-Mark-Lemke.

  194. I don’t know how many people played Hardball 6, but Keith Lockhart was an absolute monster in that game. Regularly hit around .300 with 30+ home runs.

  195. Actually, I recall we were all upset that Lockhart was getting playing time over Tony Graffanino.

  196. Brian Jordan is an even worse announcer than he was a player in his last few years. When I first heard him on air a few days ago, and didn’t know who he was, I asked myself, “are they letting retarded people play “announcer for a day”?”

  197. I remember when Surhoff came over and the announcers (relaying a quote from Leo Mazzone, I think) said of him “That guy’s a BASEBALL PLAYER!” And I thought, well, at least there’s that.

  198. Ron Artest is actually trying to change his name to Metta World Peace.

    This shouldnt be surprising coming from the guy who wanted to thank his “Hood and Psychiatrist” after winning the title.

  199. Because I wondered, I checked it out on Wikipedia. Here’s what “Metta” means:

    Mettā (Pali: मेत्ता in Devanagari) or maitrī (Sanskrit: मैत्री) is loving-kindness, friendliness, benevolence, amity, friendship, good will, kindness, love, sympathy, close mental union (on same mental wavelength), and active interest in others. It is one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four sublime states (Brahmavihāras). This is love without clinging (upādāna).

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