Braves 4, Rockies 1

Box Score

The Braves got a measure of revenge on Ubaldo Jimenez for last year’s no-hitter, and non-All-Star Tommy Hanson went to 10-4 for the year, largely behind the bat of Freddie Freeman. (Remember, Freddie = good, Fredi = bad.)

The no-hitter wasn’t in the cards from the first, as Brian McCann, the best catcher in baseball, singled through the Stupid Shift with two out. Freeman followed with a homer to make it 2-0, which would turn out to be enough.

Hanson got the first ten men he faced before allowing a walk, a stolen base, and a single in the fourth to give up the Rockies’ only run. He was pretty dominant, going seven and striking out six against four hits and only the one walk, but it’s important that Ryan Vogelsong get rewarded for whatever.

The Braves got another run, and chased Jimenez, in the sixth. McCann singled to the opposite field after a long PA, and Heyward (hitting fifth) doubled off the wall to score him; the run was eventually, I believe, changed to “unearned” because McCann probably should have been thrown out at the plate but the shortstop dropped the relay. The Braves actually loaded the bases with two out thanks to walks to Uggla and McLouth, but Hanson swung at a 3-2 pitch that looked out of the zone to me to end the threat. There are all sorts of reasons why you probably should hit for Hanson there, but it looks like second-guessing at this stage and I won’t elaborate.

At any event, it almost backfired when Hanson gave up two two-out hits in the seventh, but he got a strikeout to get out of his only real jam. Jonny Venters still doesn’t look right; he’s throwing very hard but his control is off and his pitches are up. He went 3-2 on the first man before getting a groundout, seemingly struck out the next on a 3-2 pitch but it was changed to a foul tip, then walked him, then got two flyballs to end it. In his defense, the end of the inning (and the remainder of the game) was played in a driving rain, and I tend to discount what happens in the rain. Freeman hit his second homer of the game in the eighth to make it 4-1, and Kimbrel cruised through the ninth.

78 thoughts on “Braves 4, Rockies 1”

  1. I thought effing success looked different somehow …

    Maybe the worst four at-bats I’ve seen by one guy since, oh, since Nate McLouth last year. Or Uggla this year.

  2. So …

    what do you do when Prado returns?

    Here’s what I do – put Prado at 2B and send Uggla to the minors until he hits 10 balls to right center on a line.

    As much as I applauded his signing, he’s killing us right now and when Prado comes back, a good manager puts his best team out there and with Nate actually playing ok, that means Prado to 2B and Uggla to hitting school.

  3. @2 I would put Nate on the bench as a fourth outfielder.

    Hanson….just like JJ, it’s too good to be true!!!

  4. I’d put Jordan on the bench as the fourth OF over Nate. He still has value as a 4th OF as a pinch runner or a defensive replacement.

  5. I’d personally trade Nate McLouth for Matt Kemp, but that’s just me. I’d even throw in a JoJo Reyes rookie card.

  6. @5 I am sure he would do a much better job on the field now than what he is doing now in the booth.

  7. I would let Chipper have his surgery and put Prado at 3B. A healthier Chipper might be very useful in the long run, and with the allvstar break coming, now is the time to do it.

    Great game today. We worked the count really well on Ubaldo. He was over 100 pitches after five. If only we would do that more often.

    Oh, and wtf is AAG doing in the 2-hole?? He is completely useless as a hitter. Put Nate there, or even Uggla, but not AAG.

  8. Both Schafer and AAG need to be out of the top of the order.

    Schafer’s OPS is now .589. Basically, he’s a 5th outfielder who is miscast. He can be McLouth’s defensive replacement late in games with a lead in CF or a pinch runner when Prado comes off the DL. Or you could do what #9 said.

    McLouth has the 2nd best OBP among the regulars and probably should be leading off.

  9. Asked about getting the news from Frediot that he had made the AS team, Venters says he was nervous when called in and implies he thought he might be getting sent to the minors because he hasn’t been pitching well lately. He seems pretty critical of himself–not necessarily a bad thing, unless it starts to mess with his head.

  10. Nick Caffardo is reporting that the White Sox have been scouting Beachy and Lowe, and he speculates that Carlos Quentin could be the return. Quentin in LF, McLouth in CF, Heyward in RF with Prado playing whatever’s open that night? That would be fine if it’s Lowe we’re losing, but I’d be very sad to lose Beachy just so we could do that.

  11. In a way, I prefer it when Braves don’t get picked for the All-Star team because I fear injury and they need the rest, but it is such an injustice for Bochy to take Lincecum over Hanson. I understand that a manager wants to keep his players happy and, if it was close, I could understand it. But it isn’t. Lincecum has been erratic and does not deserve to be on the team and I bet he would say the same. It’s just rotten politics and lack of integrity. MLB really should not let the manager have any say in the team whatsoever.

  12. @15
    It would seem silly of the White Sox to trade Quentin if they’re trying to compete this year, and being only 3.5 out, they obviously are, as of now. His immediate backup is Mark Teahen, and he’s not very good. I can’t see a realistic matchup with the White Sox.

  13. When Prado returns I’d DL Chipper and fix the knee. That leaves the McLouth/Schafer/Heyward OF in place. If, upon Chipper’s return, Schafer is still hitting as poorly as he is now I’d move McLouth up in the order, sit Schafer as the defensive sub/PR and move Prado back to LF. If by some miracle Schafer was hitting and Uggla was still not, I’d seriously consider benching Uggla for at least a week or so. Schafer’s defense in CF is more valuable than Uggla’s defense at 2B.

  14. All of the trade rumors tell me one thing, really. The Braves have identified the right people to try to move. Beachy (whom I really like) and Lowe. If you’re going to move a young arm, it can’t be Jurrjens or Hanson. They’re too good. It shouldn’t be Teheran or Delgado, because they’re too young. It comes down to Beachy or Minor, and of those two only Beachy is likely to get you a real upgrade for the offense.

    If you can package Lowe and take back an expensive OF/hitter in return for his contract, that also works well enough.

  15. Minor or Lowe + (Hoover, Oberholzer, or Spruill). Beachy has tons of value, way more than the White Sox ought to be getting for 1.5 years of Quentin, whose track record is quite spotty.

  16. I don’t get the position of the people who think we can’t trade Jurrjens.

    1) He’s very good. You can’t get value without giving value.

    2) He’s pitching WAY over his head right now. Thus, his apparent value is currently higher than his actual value. Great sell-high candidate.

    I’m not saying deal him for a bag of sunflower seeds. I’m saying, target a real impact bat–not Rick fucking Ankiel–make Jurrjens available, and see if you can get a deal done. The idea that Jair Jurrjens should be considered untouchable in the situation we are in is just nuts.

  17. He’s pitching WAY over his head right now.

    Perhaps he just is really really good, 25 years old, and getting better.

  18. Perhaps he just is really really good, 25 years old, and getting better.

    This. The reason some of us are adamant about not trading Jair Jurrjens is because we have noted that he’s been pitching “WAY over his head” since he was 23, and we apparently value actual performance over theoretical constructs. If the package includes Ryan Braun or Evan Longoria, yeah, you talk about Jurrjens or Hanson. Otherwise, you walk away the minute his name comes up. (You walk away even for Kemp, because you know the Dodgers need to move Kemp more than you need to acquire him.)

  19. Mike Minor, Brandon Hicks, and Jordan Schafer for Michael Bourn and Jeff Kippinger. We’ll have our utility infielder and starting CF for 2012.

  20. @29 – I’d do that, and the Astros would have to at least think about it. Knowing Ed Wade, he’d probably insist on us throwing Linebrink in to close for them.

  21. At least then they’d be getting one player with some history of major league success, to make up for the two they’d be trading to us.

  22. @26, that’s weird. He’s gone from the Braves’ 2011 team page, too.

    However, you can still get to his page via google, so he’s not entirely gone from the system.

  23. He’s also in the 2010 Marlins’ page, and his page lists his 2011 Braves stats, but he’s out of the 2011 Braves page, and you can’t search for him via the B-R search box.

    This is kind of interesting, actually. I wonder what went wrong.

  24. Mike Minor for Michael Bourn?! Yeesh. Just keep Schafer. If you’re going to move Minor/Beachy, get a good player back, not a mediocre one.

    Also, I’m not too sanguine about moving TWO SPs. Sure, we’ve got a surplus, but say we move both Beachy and Lowe and then Minor and Teheran come up and struggle. Not good. That’s a better move in the off-season when we’re sure Medlen’s coming back and such. Now, if you can get a top-teir player like a Matt Kemp or something, sure. But short of that, I don’t like moving 2/5ths of the rotation.

  25. Uh, sorry, but no. Jurrjens is not this good. His true talent level strand rate is not 84%. No one’s is. Greg Maddux, the God of Situational Pitching, had a 72.3% LOB% for his career, and you’re not going to tell me that Jurrjens is better at pitching to the base state than Maddux. This is pure sequencing luck.

    And no, his true talent BABIP isn’t .257, either. Yes, it’s an oversimplification to say that every pitcher’s true talent BABIP is .300. But there a range of realistic true talent outcomes, and Jurrjens’ observed BABIP this year is outside them.

    It’s fine to observe that FIP, xFIP, and other DIPS stats are mere theoretical constructs. Don’t look to them for perfect accuracy. But to say Jurrjens is pitching over his head should not be a controversial statement around here. He’s not this good at run prevention. No one is. Thus, before inevitable regression, let’s see if we can get a deal done with him as the centerpiece. Obviously it needs to be a good deal, but it does not need to be a deal that treats 1.89 as an actual measure of his run prevention ability.

  26. Anon21, the problem is that everyone knows the same thing. It’s not like you’re going to get a deal from him outpitching his peripherals, as every team in baseball knows what you just said.

    We don’t trade Jurrjens because a pitcher of his ability is what you add to a wild-card leading team, he is not what you take away from it. Teams in our spot deal prospects for rentals. This is why Beachy for Quentin comes up as a serious possibility, but Jurrjens for anyone in the galaxy doesn’t.

  27. Uh, sorry, but no. Jurrjens is not this good.

    So how long exactly does he have to be successful before you’d say otherwise? Or do peripherals always trump results?

  28. Not being as good as a 1-something ERA isn’t the same as not being better than anything you’d realistically get back in return. Jair Jurrjens has dominated major league hitters since he was 23 years old. The only year he failed to dominate ML hitters was when he was injured. He’s 25, cheap, cost-controlled for years, and an integral part of the current team’s success. (The current team, contrary to the gestalt you might occasionally get from certain internet fan sites, is actually succeeding.)

    You don’t trade a guy with Jurrjens track record of sustained success just because he fails to meet your model’s model.

  29. @24 – I’m completely with you on Jurrjens, Anon21. To Sam (and anyone else who thinks Jurrjens can keep a sub-2 ERA all year): I have a J.A. Happ to sell you.

    Jurrjens is a good pitcher – certainly better than Happ – but even if he can sustain his low walk rate (2 per 9 IP this year vs. 3 per 9 IP for his career) his ERA is due for a substantial correction as his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and runners left on base percentage (LOB) revert to normal. It is very likely that the best we can expect out of Jurrjens going forward is a 3.2 – 3.4 ERA. If some team out there will value Jurrjens as a true 3 ERA, #1 stud starter, the Braves would be foolish not to explore trading him.

    EDIT: The reason to trade Jurrjens is that the Braves are blessed with great pitching depth, so the dropoff between JJ and the replacement starter would be far less than the projected offensive gain we would receive in return.

  30. @37, honestly, it has to be a lot of years. There is just a large number cases where pitchers beat their peripherals (for simplicity, I’ll use FIP) for a couple of years before regressing.

    From 1993-2010, Moyer had only three years where his ERA was greater than his FIP. IIRC, I started treating this as a real effect about 10 years into it. That’s a high standard, but it needs to be high, as the evidence that FIP is a better predictor than ERA of ERA is really, really strong. It’s not always the case, but it really needs to be like a decade of pitching over multiple teams before I start to think a pitcher has magic Moyer juice.

    Regardless, his FIP this year is like 3.08. This is not the kind of player a contending team needs to be trading.

  31. maybe in off season when/if Medlen returns in form and other starters develop, not now. Unlikely to catch Phils unless they collaspe, rentals for playoffs will be cheaper in August, if needed.

  32. @41 – Jurrjens’ FIP is 3.08, but his xFIP (which regresses home run per flyball rate to the league average) is a much higher 3.67. His 2011 HR/FB is 4.8%, well below his career rate of 6.8% (which is in turn well below the MLB average). JJ may have some ability to suppress HR rate, but very few pitchers do – in other words, xFIP is typically a better predictor of future success than FIP.

  33. Anon21, the problem is that everyone knows the same thing. It’s not like you’re going to get a deal from him outpitching his peripherals, as every team in baseball knows what you just said.

    This is a valid point, but I think knowing and believing are two different things, and recentism is a powerful influence on human beings’ thinking. GMs have a lot of empirical information at their fingertips as they make these decisions, but I’m pretty sure a lot of them also rely on their “guts” in pulling the trigger. Perhaps you’re right, and we wouldn’t be able to find a combination of a GM who is a) irrationally optimistic about Jurrjens’ ability to sustain this level of performance going forward and b) has a tradeable asset that we want. However, if that’s true, presumably trade discussions will make that clear; I don’t see what the point is of declaring Jurrjens presumptively off the table.

    So how long exactly does he have to be successful before you’d say otherwise? Or do peripherals always trump results?

    Oh no, not always. Just until Jurrjens turns in about 10,000 player seasons, so that we can be pretty damn sure that this isn’t random variation.

    Not being as good as a 1-something ERA isn’t the same as not being better than anything you’d realistically get back in return.

    Well, that all depends on your model of realism, if you’ll pardon the turn of phrase. If Jurrjens could be made the centerpiece of a package for a young, cost-controlled CF–say, a Colby Rasmus–that would be a deal worth seriously considering. If he can’t bring back that kind of return, no harm done by dangling him and listening to (or seeking out) offers.

    The reason to trade Jurrjens is that the Braves are blessed with great pitching depth, so the dropoff between JJ and the replacement starter would be far less than the projected offensive gain we would receive in return.

    Exactly. The point to keep in mind is that the Braves’ organization is uniquely well-situated to absorb the loss of an admittedly very good starting pitcher. That’s an area of strength that the team should turn to its advantage, by aggressively trying to move a high-value starter.

  34. And then there’s the matter of treating players as chess pieces. By WAR, only McCann has borne a greater responsibility for the team’s current 94-win pace than Jurrjens. Entertaining the notion of trading him during the season ignores the dynamic you would create among the rest of the team. There’s a reason contending teams don’t do it. Reinsdorf shedding Albert Belle is the last instance I can remember, but he (probably correctly) discerned that the White Sox were playing over their heads. Are there more recent examples?

  35. Jurrjens is really really good. Dave Cameron just wrote a piece arguing that the Mariners should listen to offers on Michael Pineda in order to speed up their rebuilding, but a) we’re not the Mariners, and b) I tend to agree with Mac that “rebuilding” as such rarely works, because teams that trade talent for prospects rarely have enough impact talent on the roster at the same time to be able to switch over from rebuilding to contending. Eventually you have to manually change from selling to buying.

    Jurrjens is absolutely at the top of his value, though, so I’d co-sign a trade for one of the best hitters in the game, not that one is available.

    That said, it’s clear that Beachy and Minor are a lot more tradeable, and with good reason. And I think Beachy is probably impressing more and more front offices that he’s a legitimate mid-rotation starter with a potential for more. Because he’s so new to pitching, there is a question of durability — we just don’t know how many innings he can truly handle, especially this year — but I have no problem listening to offers on him.

    The key to remember is, we’re not rebuilding, but we can certainly retool. And we have such a pitching surplus that it would be criminal not to sell off some of it. Otherwise, it will just wither on the vine as injury and bullpen conversion destroys all its value.

  36. @44, Okay – you’ve convinced me. Atlanta will never get to the xFIP World Series with that bum on the roster.

  37. I agree w/mravery in that whatever trade the Braves may make they don’t pull more than 1 SP from the current ML rotation.

    Trade depth maybe, but don’t reinvent the wheel on a 50 win team.

  38. @34
    Have you checked out Bourn’s stats? He’s not mediocre at all. He’s got a .767 ops, plays well above average CF and has 35 stolen bases (and only 4 CS). He’s a really good player. He was worth 4.9 WAR last year and that was with a .686 ops. Plus, he’s on pace to steal 65 bases. He’s a very valuable player now that he’s learned to take a walk.

    Because our offense is horrible and our pitching is likely to regress.

  39. Okay – you’ve convinced me. Atlanta will never get to the xFIP World Series with that bum on the roster.

    Thank you, Spike.

  40. Bourn’s improved walk rate and fine defense certainly make him a valuable player, but just how good he can be over the next few years remains a very open question.

    Remember, even though speed is the last thing to go, punchless defense-first players can regress, too — Exhibit A, Nyjer Morgan.

    Still, Bourn is an actual bona fide center fielder who happens to be a four to five win player. I would certainly trade for him. He’s basically the superduper best case scenario for Schafer, which Schafer is almost certain not to live up to.

  41. I bet a decent amount of money nobody in MLB would have more than 65 steals. Therefore, I’ve been rooting against Bourn and would have conflicting interests if we traded for him

  42. @53
    Accepting your comparison, are for or against acquiring someone comparable to Devon White at this time?

  43. Gotta love twitter.

    •#Braves’ Hanson: 10-4, 2.52 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 103 K/34 BB, .192 OA; All-Star Lincecum: 6-7, 3.14 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 126 K/41 BB, .229 OA

  44. If you believe Heyward and Uggla will be good in the second half, then yes, Michael Bourne (Or Devon White, for god’s sake) would help this team. In that scenario, CF is the only hole on the club, and a player who excels in the standard CF skills (lead off, get on, steal bases, kill flyballs) is a great boon to this club.

    If you don’t think Heyward and Uggla will be good in the second half, then to quote Earl Weaver, you want “one of them big c*cks*ckers who’ll hit the ball out of the god damn ball park,” but will still play serviceable CF defense.

    It’d be A LOT cheaper if you choose to bet on Heyward and Uggla, and get a Michael Bourne instead of a Matt Kemp… But…

  45. Well, there’s a 90+% chance Kemp isnt getting moved and there arent any other CF’rs who can provide that kind of power. So yes, Id look at the cheaper route with Bourn who is a 100 times better than Schafer.

  46. I just can’t think of any realistic trade that makes sense for the Dodgers to move Kemp.

  47. Me neither.. I was just using their names to symbolize the ideal candidates for the two types of players.

  48. Will MLB allow a fire sale for the Dodgers anyway? Is it just a coincidence that Braves are 24-12 since Schaffer came up? Has anyone else besides Prado batted well at lead off? Good outfield defense helps pitchers. Statistics humbug.

  49. Just as McLouth has batted better at 8th, Heyward may bat better at 6th. Makes little sense, I agree.

  50. Will MLB allow a fire sale for the Dodgers anyway?

    Probably not, no.

    Is it just a coincidence that Braves are 24-12 since Schaffer came up?


    Has anyone else besides Prado batted well at lead off?


    Good outfield defense helps pitchers.


    Statistics humbug.


  51. The only scenario I can see regarding Kemp that could maybe result in a trade is that the Dodgers approached him with a long term offer and he said, “No way I’m staying here.” In that case, the Dodgers might consider getting the maximum return for him, which would have to come now, with his having a fantastic year.

    It’s a big stretch, I know.

    I can only see one of two players in trade talks that would be a marked improvement over what we have, and Kemp is the easiest answer, because he plugs the biggest hole AND is a great hitter. Someone like Pence works, but he’s not a natural CF and to really make him fit he’s either got to play there or Chipper (surgery) or Uggla (just sucks) has to be taken out of the lineup.

  52. And we’ve been playing 92-win baseball for half a season with current performances from Heyward and Uggla. Heyward has looked quite good since returning from the DL, and surely Uggla won’t get worse. I’d be happy if they just sat on the roster and traded Minor or Lowe+ for some top shelf position prospects, but Bourn would be pretty nice to have for 1.5 years. Kemp would be cool, but nobody thinks he’s available.

  53. 4 deals from last offseason

    Crawford – .243/.275/.384 – 7/$142
    Werth – .223/.330/.382 – 7/$126
    Uggla – .173/.241/.327 – 5/$62
    Dunn – .171/.304/.317 – 4/$56

  54. @68 – Compared to the other 3, Werth is really tearing it up! It’s hard for me to believe that Uggla’s slugging percentage is actually higher than Dunn’s.

  55. There is something truly weird going on with sluggers this year. AL left fielders are all hitting like Raffy Belliard more or less. OF in general is a wasteland. Not sure what’s going on.

  56. And the idea that it’s because defense is more valued these days certainly doesn’t account for all of it.

  57. Just for fun:

    Heyward – .229/.319/.400
    Crawford – .243/.275/.384
    Werth – .223/.330/.382
    McLouth – .235/.349/.335
    Schafer – .213/.302/.294
    Uggla – .173/.241/.327
    Dunn – .171/.304/.317

    Perhaps it’s not as easy to upgrade our OF as we might assume it to be.

  58. Seems like there are more and more pitchers who can throw 95+ and get very late movement on the ball. Maybe that’s a pitch you can’t attack with a long swing, I don’t know.

  59. The Wild Card leading team isn’t going to trade their ace pitcher in the middle of the season.

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