The obvious answer is “yes”. The obvious response is “look at the record, dude!” The Braves have the third-best record in the majors. The counter to the response, however, is that the record is in part a result of Fredi doing dumb things. By this, of course, I mostly mean his use of the bullpen, of using his best relievers in, at most, medium-leverage situations. This does slightly increase the team’s chances of winning. But if you’re leading 5-1 in the eighth, bringing in Jonny Venters instead of Scott Linebrink or Cristhian Martinez increases the chances from maybe 98 to 99 percent. And since pitcher innings are a limited resource, using Venters in this situation is counterproductive in the long term.

Bobby Cox did, of course, tend to ride his best relievers hard, particularly in the last few years of his career. However, he did not generally use them in non-close situations (defined as save/hold situations, ties, and one-run deficits) unless they needed work. The exception to this is, of course, when they were already warming up when the Braves put the game out of reach. Fredi has also used his relievers on three straight days a lot this year, much more than Bobby ever did.

Fredi has done some things right. His use of Derek Lowe has been far superior to Bobby’s; Fredi has not tried to push him for that extra inning in which he inevitably blows up. He’s been more willing to shake up the lineup than Bobby was, trying to get certain players who will not be named going; it hasn’t really worked, but at least he’s being proactive. But his bullpen usage — that’s dumb.