Thanks and game thread: Braves at Marlins, Aug. 9

Thanks to everybody who contributed yesterday. It’s greatly appreciated and I will do my best to continue whatever it is I do around here.

Now if we can only do something about Proctor.

310 thoughts on “Thanks and game thread: Braves at Marlins, Aug. 9”

  1. If Jason Heyward is not actually injured, then Fredi Gonzalez should be fired immediately.

    Even at this point in the season, after all of the bunts, the Proctor usages, the bizarre lineup cards, the adventures on the basepaths – even now Fredi has found a way to surprise me. Well played, sir. Well played.

    (also, at what point should someone bring up the fact that Heyward’s wRC+ of 101 technically places him at above average?)

  2. @2: Absolutely. What an utterly incompetent, dunderheaded excuse for a manager.

    On another note: does anyone know where to find what the franchise-record hitting streak is? My impression is that Carty’s is just the longest since the Braves moved to Atlanta; is that right, or is actually the longest in Braves’ history?

  3. As a financial adviser/investment officer it absolutely blows my mind how people as wealthy as Smoltz and other celebrities can be in these situations. The guy made an absolute fortune playing baseball and still has to make good money with endorsements and other adventures. Unreal…

  4. By my count he currently owns a half-dozen properties in Georgia, and who knows what elsewhere. He’s probably underwater and just decided to forget it. Judging from the history of the development involved, it probably crashed in value.

  5. Thats what I got out of it. Smoltz didn’t want to put any more money into the venture. I guess his credit goes to hell like anyone else’s but I am betting he ain’t broke.

  6. Heyward doesn’t *have* to be hurt, but it’s the most obvious explanation of the facts at this point.

  7. @2 – What if Fredi has noticed that there is a pitch/location that Heyward can not hit, and every pitcher in the National League has picked up on it? Should he be fired then?

    The point is you don’t know what Fredi knows, and neither do I.

    I don’t subscribe to the idea that slumps and hot streaks are entirely random things without any possibility of an assignable cause. Although, I certainly understand there is an element of randomness.

  8. …but it’s the most obvious explanation of the facts at this point.

    Rather than the manager?

  9. So, a “players’ manager” doesnt start one of the cornerstones of the franchise on his birthday? According to Bowman, making that suggestion is “Bush League”, but to me, it just seems like common courtesy. Oh well.

  10. 12 – You’re just trying to be polemical now.

    Even if Heyward is “slumping,” for the n-teenth time, Prado is slumping worse than Heyward. Prado is having a slightly worse hitting season than is Heyward overall. And Prado is nowhere near as effective against right-handed pitchers than is Heyward.

    Seriously, if Jason Heyward is not hurt, then there’s no ground upon which anyone can still defend this decision. In the entire debate in the previous thread, the assumption was that Heyward would not sit against righties, and that either Constanza or Prado would sit instead. Why? Because Heyward hits them at a well-above average clip–he was fantastic against them last year, and has been good against them this year–while so far this season, Prado has not.

    He may well be hurt, and I conceded that possibility above. I’m assuming that he is. Nobody can be this stupid.

  11. If Heyward is hurt, he should be placed on the DL. If he’s not hurt, he should gets starts against RH pitching, birthday or not.

  12. Adam M/17:

    Nobody can be this stupid.

    I really wish I could believe this. With Fredi, there are no obvious limits.

  13. The problem with the injury explanation is that we tend to receive updates on other players who are dinged up, such as Hanson currently. I’m not sure what the rationale would be behind keeping mum on a possible Heyward injury. I believe this might be my line in the sand on this issue.

  14. It could be manager’s decision. Not the decision I’d make (though the birthday thing doesn’t enter into the equation – he’s getting paid half a mil per year and will get gobs more where that came from; he doesn’t need a birthday cupcake) but it could be manager’s decision.

    Either way, you find a narrative that fits your bias (the manager is an idiot.) I try to avoid narratives that I don’t know to be true. Could be injury. Could be manager’s decision.

  15. @20, how much did we hear about McLouth’s sports hernia before he had surgery?

  16. Yes, I would say this club is pretty awful about letting struggling players continue to play hurt, putting them on the DL, and saying “Oh yeah, his spine has been fractured since May.”

  17. Just to be clear, here are the numbers:

    2011 Heyward vs. Righties (241 PAs): 772 OPS, .340 wOBA, 114 wRC+
    2011 Prado vs. Righties (291 PAs): 712 OPS, .311 wOBA, 95 wRC+

    Career Heward vs. Righties (662 PAs): 850 OPS, .374 wOBA, 134 wRC+
    Career Prado vs. Righties (1271 PAs): 790 OPS, .345 wOBA, 113 wRC+

    If Heyward is not hurt, then the only possible explanation I can come up with for Fredi’s decision to sit him and not Prado is this:

    2011 Heyward BA vs. Righties: .242
    2011 Prado BA vs. Righties: .265

  18. If Heyward is not hurt, then the only possible explanation I can come up with for Fredi’s decision to sit him and not Prado is this:

    It’s not going to salve your ire, but there’s also the “this unit is playing well together and winning” thing.

  19. @22

    Not much — then again, McLouth actually started 12 games in a row just before going on the DL, so there was no unusual usage pattern to explain away.

  20. 24: I really don’t think he’s going at it that systematically. He’s decided that Prado should be in the everyday lineup, barring injury, which is reasonable. He’s decided that Constanza should be in the everyday lineup for now, because he’s got a “hot hand,” which is utterly fucking moronic. Heyward just gets squeezed out.

  21. @26 – Heyward’s been banged up all year, and was scuffling pretty badly with a sore shoulder even after his DL stint. When asked, he said he was good to go, but I’m not sure that means he’s healthy, or just doesn’t want to hear shit from Chipper on “toughing it out.”

    Or, it could be manager’s decision.

  22. 25 – No, not really, and I haven’t really been a fan of Fredi Gonzalez’s since he was a manager in Miami, so it’s not like this particular decision has changed things for me. But as I said, I am surprised. Like you, I thought Heyward would play tonight. I just wish the man would just put his starters in the game when they’re healthy and get out of the way.

    As for the Hanson thing: I truly hope he’s not seriously injured. This is the tweet from DOB 15 mins ago: “Hanson flew back to Atlanta for exam of shoulder, Braves planning for him to make next start Tues on 9 days’ rest, pending exam.”

  23. I’m far more concerned about Hanson’s shoulder, long term, than I am about Jason Heyward’s playing time. Hanson’s motion screams Tommy John.

  24. Meaning, if you slow down the tape and play it backwards, you hear a voice scream “TOOOOOOOMMYYYYYYY JOOOOOOOOOOHN?”

  25. @27 – I think you’re right. “Frediot” is probably a misnomer. I think he’s really just totally governed by intuition (reference: “Their [numbers are] all about the same, [not even true]” Gonzalez said. “But you feel like Schafer is doing so much more.”). That leaves extreme analytical types (like myself and probably most of the pro-Heyward camp) trying to make sense of his decisions in the context of reason and logic, while in fact they only make sense in the context of his gut. At least he’s just managing a baseball team and not designing bridges or something legitimately important like that.

  26. Crikey–not another day of the charming Heyward vs. Constanza banter. So here’s a probably futile attempt to change the subject.

    During last night’s game Powell and Sutton chatted about the prospect of losing his .300+ career BA might cause Chipper to retire after this year. Obviously it depends on his health the rest of this year and next (i.e., on how many ABs he gets), but it looks like Chipper oculd bat as low as about .230-.235 the rest of this year and the next without dragging in BA below .300.

    You may now resume regular bickering.

  27. Joey, it actually says “Dr. James Andrew, Birmingham, AL; your local source for the best in elbow ligament replacement surgery since 1978!” Or something like.

    More to the point, he pitches very near to an inverted W delivery, with his elbows flying up above his shoulders as he pivots to the plate. There’s a decent argument that that delivery does bad, bad things, man.

  28. @28 – And so it seems to me, from the “people management” perspective that I’ve thought properly informed the decision to play TBone to this point, it would behoove Fredi to say Heyward is banged up and he’s getting him some extra rest.

  29. @35 – Again, I don’t know. Any narrative any of us super-impose on the facts would say more about us than about the facts. I don’t have enough knowledge of the situation to say one way or another. As I said in the previous thread, if he were healthy and I were the manager, Heyward would start ahead of Prado today. My data set is limited in making that decision.

  30. If it’s his shoulder that’s the problem it won’t be Tommy John — that’s an elbow injury. It could be worse news like a rotator cuff problem.

  31. I don’t know if he has AIDS. Any narrative any of us superimpose on the facts would say more about us than the facts. I don’t have enough knowledge of the situation to say one way or another.

  32. “Their symptoms are all about the same,” Gonzalez said. “But you feel like Heyward is so much more diseased. I don’t know if it’s the runny nose or what.”

  33. At one point right before I went into the hospital the last time, I realized that I had precisely the symptoms of HIV infection. I’m not infected, of course.

  34. Hanson hasn’t been the same since he had the 14 strikeout game and then went on the DL. It certainly is true that, if it’s his shoulder,we can pretty much say bye bye.

    All of a sudden, Wren’s reluctance to trade his pitching depth doesn’t look so reactionary. If you look at it, Lowe sucks (despite his decent game last night) and is old, Hudson is 36, Jurrjens have been struggling and apparently has some injury problems too, Hanson–well,who knows.

  35. No injury, says Heyward to DOB. His comments about the situation demonstrate at least 100% more grace than I’d be capable of in the same situation. Good for him. Apparently he spent a good bit of time in the cages in NY working with Chipper over the weekend.

  36. Fredi, via DOB’s twitter: “You’ve got 50 games left in a pennant race, you’ve got to try to put the best guys that you think can help you win those games. And that’s Constanza right now, and next week it may be Heyward, hopefully. Because he’s a big piece for us.”

    So Prado > Heyward vs RHP? That would be my followup question, only I would use words.

  37. The really potentially obnoxious thing about this is that if Heyward gets regular at bats again at some point and rakes, then Fredi’s going to get the credit for it no matter what.

  38. 50 – Well, our insightful beat writer did also respond this way to a question:

    “You really don’t see difference in situations? Hmm. RT @dcarp23: @ajcbraves surprised that the same concern seems nonexistent with Prado.”

  39. Oy vay!

    I don’t have a problem with sitting Heyward for a game or two to maybe get his game back, especially against lefties, and I have no problem with keeping Constanza in the lineup somewhere right now but if Fredi actually considers Constanza and Heyward comparable . . .

    But I will guarantee you all the talking heads will praise Fredi for making Heyward “earn” his playing time and giving Constanza a chance.

    “Well, I’m glad to hear Heyward is handling it with equanimity.”

    Unlike Francouer who would have cried.

  40. “I don’t have a problem with sitting Heyward for a game or two to maybe get his game back,”

    His last game he reached base in all four plate appearances. It’d be nice to know if that was a good sign or just noise.

    “especially against lefties,”

    Tonight the pitcher is a righty.

    “and I have no problem with keeping Constanza in the lineup somewhere right now but if Fredi actually considers Constanza and Heyward comparable”

    Actually, right now he thinks Constanza is better. The direct quote: “you’ve got to try to put the best guys that you think can help you win those games. And that’s Constanza right now.” Is this statement based essentially upon 8 very lucky singles? Yes, yes it is.

  41. Heyward needs to hustle. If you watch him in the outfield he seems to be running at half speed. If he bats and it is possibly going to be an out, he just trots to first. The Heyward I see this year does not appear to be the same player he was last year. Whatever the issue, it’s time to do what is in the best interest of the team. And I am sure Wren and Freddy are doing it. Anyone who thinks Freddy is alone in team decisions regarding Heyward must be a bit naive.

  42. Why, oh why did I read Mark Bradley’s latest column in which he compares Fredi’s Hanley Ramirez and Heyward benchings?

    “Gonzalez sat Ramirez for not hustling. Now he’s sitting Jason Heyward for not producing. The parallels aren’t exact — nobody has suggested that Heyward isn’t trying his hardest — but they’re close.”

    The worst thing about it is that the second comment is from a guy named “P B Orr” in which the non-me questions Heyward’s work ethic. Disgusting.

  43. @3: It’s Tommy Holmes. He had the NL record until Rose broke it.

    Mac: I’m sure this question has already been asked, but why don’t you charge a subscription fee?

  44. Not saying Fredi does that — but MB invites the comparison, and others will surely take the ball and run with it. I like Bradley, but he was irresponsible there IMO.

  45. I favor rewarding guys with playing time when they produce. We do not have enough data to evaluate George despite his time in the minors. Yes, JH wants to play just like anyone else.

  46. @60 Are you implying he has fans on this blog? Weren’t we just arguing how no one here gives him any credit?

  47. Why, oh why did I read Mark Bradley’s latest column in which he compares Fredi’s Hanley Ramirez and Heyward benchings?

    Speaking of which, SportSouth is now showing ‘Spotlight: Frediot”, which contains a segment on why Gonzalez benched Ramirez when he was managing the Marlins.

  48. Yeah, I would recommend avoiding any AJC Braves articles besides the DOB beat reporter blog. And only read him for latest updates, not for actual meaningful analysis.

  49. Blocking commenting = losing readers. On the other hand, it might be the best move for him. He has a serious problem with people who dare to have a different opinion, especially when they are right.

    Just like DOB.

  50. The really potentially obnoxious thing about this is that if Heyward gets regular at bats again at some point and rakes, then Fredi’s going to get the credit for it no matter what.

    And thus we get to the crux of the matter. No matter what happens, you won’t be able to “prove” that Fredi is stupid, and god, all you want to do is prove that Fredi is stupid, because that means you’re smarter than the manager because you can look up wOBA on the internets!

    Whatever man.

  51. Dang Sam, back off. You grievously misread my motives. I’m fully aware of the insignificance of my role as an internet commenter. It just seems comically unjust for an idiot to get credit for being a genius because he did idiot things.

  52. Sam, ever thought that you may not need to comment on every post that you disagree with? Its pretty simple.

  53. “Am I now being lectured on commenting on thread.”

    You clearly do not understand the meaning of the word “lecture.”

  54. @85

    You need a sample size of at least 10 at bats, but not more than 50 at bats, before you can determine the temperature of a hand.

    But don’t call it “sample size” because that would imply that you’re using statistics and you can’t use those unless Sam determines you eligible to do so. Seeing as how you’re not Sam, you’re probably a moron and so you’re definitely not eligible.

    Instead, call it a “gut feeling.” That sounds more important and mystical, like you possess some innate talent that others don’t, thereby satisfying your need to be thought of as superior to everyone else.

  55. It’s interesting that Beachy pitches a lot better from the stretch than from the windup.

  56. Thanks, JC, for the proper use of unstatistical statistics. Seriously.

    Seriously, Beachy’s strikeouts are very soothing.

  57. According to ESPN, Hanson has been sent back to Atl to have a more in depth examination of his shoulder.

  58. @89 – Ha! As much as I’ve hated this whole situation, I’m actually really enjoying the growth of the hand temperature meme. Hopefully it continues to take off on twitter.

  59. @69,

    I really never read the comments at CAC, they got kind of stupid. I like Peter’s stuff. I don’t always agree, but he makes great arguments.

    I think he will turn the comments back on at some point. On a good board (like this one) the commenters usually police the board and run off most of the crap.

    We get some good debates on here, but it usually doesn’t get out of control.

  60. Didn’t Mike Cameron dumbassedly try and fail to get thrown out stretching a single into a double (by which I mean he ended up safe at 2B against all odds) against us already this year? Or maybe it was last year. If not, serious deja vu a couple innings ago.

  61. Wow, I really thought Navery would return to school and try to up his draft stock. As a Braves fan, I’m really happy, but as a Vandy fan I’m kinda bummed.

  62. LOL, Prado vs. a righty.

    Was going to post earlier that Prado and Heyward have the same OBP, but Prado’s is single-flavored (akin to the finest offering of a luxury Swiss chocolatier) and Heyward’s is walk-flavored (fat-free sugar-free vanilla).

  63. 103—Yup, I’d been hearing that he was seriously considering signing, because he’s such a huge Braves fan, but I couldn’t believe he’d actually take 14th-round slot when he had a chance to make so much more in a year.

    Glad the Braves got him, though.

  64. @110, I just googled the guy and checked out his twitter. He often tweets in complete sentences. I will root for him to succeed.

  65. The Marlins underestimate Fredi. They’re playing like he’s going to bunt with a guy on second and one out. They’ve been reading too much Braves Journal.

  66. This must have already been posted considering the hand meme, but if not…

    I have no hand – no hand at all!

  67. 115—Great kid with some untapped potential. Was actually considered the number one prospect in his class as a junior, before blowing out his elbow.

    He’s an absolute steal in the 14th round. He’s arguably the second- or third-best player the Braves drafted.

  68. @117 great stuff.

    Constanza just walked and stole second. maybe he can get some hand that way. ;)

  69. I hereby promise that no matter how many games in a row Uggla hits in, I will not post “The Streak” or any Ray Stevens song to a game thread.

  70. Out of curiosity, based on just this, which player is better? (I’m idly going through b-r’s EloRater during commercials.)

    Seasonal WAR
    (Best → Worst)
    Rk Player 1 Player 2
    1 4.3 3.0
    2 4.2 2.6
    3 3.5 2.5
    4 1.1 1.7
    5 0.9 1.2
    6 0.5 0.7

  71. oh totally. Heyward would have hit a home run if Fredi hadn’t given him the night off, and instructions to swig from a bottle of jack daniels in the locker room every time prado or constanza gets on base.

  72. If only we had an even better pitcher we could use to close the game. If only.

    Of course, it won’t matter if Beachy goes the distance.

  73. 128 — But we still have one less pitcher that we can count on tonight if he’s unavailable.

    Actually, I shouldn’t have listened to Joe yesterday, because that was only his 2nd day in a row.

  74. Frediot.

    Varvaro has bad control, so bringing him in with two men on seemed a little odd in the first place. Not Fredi’s fault he served one up, but it never really struck me as brilliant from the start.

  75. Kept him in for the lefty, why not leave Beachy out there to face Buck? Instead, alas.

  76. Belt high, middle of the plate, no movement fastballs to a fastball hitter is generally an awful idea.

  77. @138, because Beachy was done.

    The problem here is almost universal among MLB managers. I don’t know why they don’t use their best pitcher with two on in a critical situation, instead going with, in this case, Varvaro when EOF and Venters are being “saved” for later innings.

  78. That really was the most Proctor-like thing I can imagine. By extension, Varvaro just got some serious job security.

  79. Oh, it’s good that EOF is coming in now with no one on. Glad Fredi saved him for this critical moment.

  80. Ugh, things are falling apart really quickly here. Looks like O’Flaherty doesn’t enjoy the Florida pitcher’s mound.

    That said – thanks for the bunt, Marlins!

  81. For whatever it’s worth, Fredi won’t use Venters unless the Braves get a lead–it’s a tie game on the road. So… anyway… time to get the lead!

  82. Wow. Really thought we’d be losing when that inning was over. Glad Eric found his control somewhere.

  83. 172 — I think he was quoted as saying he wouldn’t use him when we were losing. Doesn’t matter, he’ll do something suboptimal regardless.

  84. And it’s a two-run game now in Phoenix. Can’t count on the Astros for anything, except when we play them.

  85. I have HBOgo for about 3 months and was wondering what shows are must sees. I just finished watching game of thrones (which was fantastic and really well made) and I’m watching Treme right now. Anything else?

  86. @182: Will you still say that when the Braves take the lead in the 10th and Proctor comes in to close?

  87. am i to presume you’d rather have Proctor in now, when a run loses it instead of extends the game?

  88. 183 – Is your point that you’d rather lose in the bottom of the 9th? I’m sincerely confused.

  89. Damn right. perfect spot for birthday boy pinch hit to end yesterday’s debate emphatically and right the proverbial ship.

  90. I can’t kill Fredi for bringing in Varvaro, even if he probably should’ve brought in EOF or Venters. I’m happy he was trying to save Kimbrel’s arm, and you generally have to assume your relievers can hold a three-run lead. Sadly, we needed Reitsma room, and there’s a reason we call it an Atlanta save.

    Damn you, Alex Gonzalez. How can we bunt so often and be so frigging terrible at it?

    Ross, really?

  91. oh jeez. that is just ridiculous. two bunts?! the logic circuits in my brain are short-circuited by that kind of thing.

  92. Ross’ bunt was almost certainly himself bunting for a hit, he’s done that a number of times this year.

  93. i don’t think i’ll ever understand why someone would think that strategy would give you a better chance of scoring.

    it is true that any given single is more likely to score a runner from second than first, but come on, man.

    don’t you wish you could see keyshawn and ditka doing “come on, man” with fredi?

  94. Leadoff single followed by THAT. And Marlins pitchers have Contanza twice now on pitches away and in the dirt.

  95. Ross was trying to bunt for a hit, but with a tie game in the ninth he needs to be trying to find a gap somewhere.

  96. so we got bourn, and we did do well at the trade deadline. but is this going to kill us in the playoffs? the lack of that extra reliever?

    it’s weird, because we have three of the best in baseball, but they’re almost never around by extra innings, and it seems like we play overtime once a week.

    it’s just, once we get past the ninth on the road, i lose almost all confidence. is it moylan and medlen that we’re waiting for, or what?

  97. what happened to chipper? can we just sit him until september 15 or something? this next month i’m going to be dreading another major injury.

  98. If Lisp is available — remember he pitched two last night. If he’d pitched 3, he’s definitely be unavailable, but then Kimbrel would be.

  99. I don’t expect this to go much longer, because if we don’t score the Proctologist is waiting to make a house call, but I have to go to bed. I will recap at some point tomorrow.

  100. Fredi couldn’t have double switched with Sherrill and Heyward?

    As I type: PH with Hinske then pinch run for him with Heyward? In an extra-inning game?

    And Heyward gets picked off. I give up. Past my bedtime.

  101. Shit, Heyward’s in the Matt Young role now and after that he’s going to be buried underneath the bench.

  102. Yes, Bourn is awesome. i sometimes almost forget that our best hitter is sidelined. if we get everyone healthy, this team is gonna kick ass.

  103. Bourn should have scored anyways since he should have been at third if he hadn’t eaten turf rounding first. With Heyward presumably scoring since he was safe.

  104. Heyward was safe, but why would you even allow it to be close? Especially after a close pick-off throw just before the one he was called out on.

  105. 242—“Allow it to be close”? That is ridiculous. That means it was basically a perfect lead. You can’t blame Heyward for the umpire’s incompetence.

    Unless you’re Fredi.

    244—“Starting to”?

  106. 245 – A judicious way of saying that I think Kimbrel is gonna lose the game.

    Unless they keep bunting.

  107. If Freddie drops the ball it’s a double play. Hayes was standing looking.

    Edit: But we get the double play anyway

  108. Agony earned his keep there…that was a game I figured they were destined to lose…nice job

  109. @257 Fredi was clearly loving it. I saw him open a fresh bag of seeds in the last inning, like he was almost hoping they’d tie it up and keep it going. More bunts!

  110. So here’s the way I feel about the Constanza-Heyward thing, because I hadn’t weighed in before. I hope this doesn’t reignite the bad feelings.

    Basically, I kinda agree a bit with both sides. First, I think Anon is clearly right: as an agent, you can’t control outcome, the dependent variable; you can only control process, or input, the independent variable. What you choose to do goes into a stew where it’s affected by random chance and a whole host of other inputs that you have nothing to do with. You cannot guarantee a desirable result. All you can do is give yourself the best probability of a desirable result by maximizing the process. As a result, you should judge actors based on the process rather than the result. So it is perfectly legitimate to judge Fredi on the basis of process.

    On the other hand, away from the ball, it seems apparent to me that Fredi is sending a message, not just to Jason and George but to the entire clubhouse (and by extension the organization as a whole, including all the prospects who hope to be Braves soon). The message is roughly as follows: Jason doesn’t receive any special treatment. This is not a team where superstars play by a different set of rules: you can play yourself into the starting lineup, and you can play yourself out of the starting lineup. And if you’re a callup on nobody’s radar, and you bust your ass and you produce, then you can earn some playing time even if Kevin Goldstein doesn’t think anything of you. If Jason has high character, which by all accounts he does, then he is far more frustrated by his struggles at the plate than he is by Fredi benching him for a guy who’s producing more. Fredi, the new guy, is putting his personal stamp on the clubhouse, and benching Jason Heyward proves that absolutely nobody should take their playing time for granted: it’s a privilege to be earned.

    That said… a message is one thing, and strategy is another. Jason has been doing terribly against lefties this year, but he’s going to need some in-season reps against them. No one views him as a permanent platoon player, but the only way to prevent that is to let him get the experience at the major league level, and make adjustments as needed. He’s a very intelligent hitter, with a very advanced knowledge of the strike zone, and he’s going through what may well be the hardest time he has ever had in baseball in his entire life: it’s hard for a playoff team to swallow his growing pains, but he’s going to have to have them either way, and postponing the inevitable is often suboptimal.

    And, of course, George has been fun to watch, but his limitations are glaringly obvious. He doesn’t walk. He has no power. He’s a fourth outfielder/pinch runner who’s masquerading as a starting player because his dinks and doinks have fallen in — funnily enough, tonight it was Heyward who pinch ran. Believe me, I’m happy for him. But on the other hand, let’s not go crazy. Gregor Blanco is a better major league player than Constanza because of his walk rate. I take no pleasure in predicting that Constanza won’t be able to remain a productive major leaguer, but I think we pretty much all agree on that. Obviously we don’t know when the other shoe will drop, but we know that it will.

    So now the question becomes, where do we go from here? The message about Heyward has probably been sent. Constanza went 0-4 today. Will he start again tomorrow? Does Fredi really intend to take right field one day at a time? I don’t care at all if he tells the reporters that’s what he tends to do, but I care a great deal if he’s honestly undecided in his mind. Jason Heyward is a better player than Jose Constanza. Heyward has sucked against lefties this year, but he was fine against them last year. If he’s hurt, that’s a good reason to sit him. Constanza’s dinks and doinks are an inspiring story, and they’re a good pretext to send a message to the clubhouse. But this team needs the best team on the field. And despite his slump, the best team includes Jason Heyward.

  111. I had to follow this one through the blog comments, thanks for the great commentary, guys. Glad we pulled it out, and the Uggla continued his streak.

  112. AAR, I think you posted that in the wrong place. You accidentally put your article inside the 259th comment on a blog post. Like 30 people will read that here.

    I’ve never really been a fan of hitting streaks, but hustling out a couple of singles have made me root for it a little. I hope it doesn’t come down to Jeter swinging at a 3-0 pitch way outside the strike zone, but it would be neat if he set some records.

  113. Constanza went 0-4, but with a BB (which he obviously can’t draw), SB and run scored. (not to mention he was robbed of a walk on his first AB due to a bad call)

    Not a completely terrible night, unlike birthday boy ;p

    But I would like for JC and Heyward to be in left and right, while Prado fills in nicely for Chipper. I’m getting tired of the gimpers one pitch AB’s…

  114. BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    According to a Chris Schiavonne (WSRB braes reporter)tweet: OUR LONG NIGHTMARE IS OVER!!!!!

    “Scott Proctor has been released.” Vizcaino gets the call. Vizcaino is one of the Four Horseman lets see what he’s got!”

  115. Wren was just waiting on Mac to change the text at the top:

    “Now let’s do something about Proctor”

  116. How does Proctor rank among the all-time Atlanta bullpen disasters? Sadly (or maybe thankfully) I largely checked out through the Kolb years.

  117. “The problem here is almost universal among MLB managers. I don’t know why they don’t use their best pitcher with two on in a critical situation, instead going with, in this case, Varvaro when EOF and Venters are being “saved” for later innings.”

    I think it’s because of several memes that managers accept unthinkingly: (1) if you disrupt the roles in a bullpen, ptichers will be confused and ineffective–and a huge black hole will swallow the earth; (2) it’s worse to lose after having a lead than never getting the lead; and (3) only closers can be counted on to close games.

    Part of the problem is that, unlike, for example, football, baseball doesn’t really provide time for reflection–with a game everyday, managers don’t have time to consider metastrategy. But even if they did have time, I don’t think many managers are that reflective.

  118. “One of the worst things they ever did to relief pitching was invent the ‘save’ category. If they hadn’t done that, managers would bring in their best relief pitchers at the point in the game where he could do his team the most good. Casey Stengel used to do that, and so, a lot of times, did Leo Durocher. Now you’re paying the relief aces for saves, and you can only bring them in in save situations where your team is already ahead. They show you how many games a relief pitcher saves, but they never tell you how many games a team loses because a manager didn’t use his best reliever in the toughest situation.”

    Ralph Kiner, 2011

    I had a long post in my head about how to become a baseball manager is to reach the pinnacle of being a Company Man, but this will do nicely. You don’t get promoted by bringing in your closer in the 7th. And I would no more expect a manager of less than Coxian/LaRussian status to start doing so any more than I would expect my dog to tap-dance. For all the hand wringing over the last few day, I can guarantee you that Sam has put far more thought into starting Georgie over Jason than Fredi ever did. “He’s hot!” gives enough cover to his actions barring total collapse.

    The vast majority of managers are trying to not lose their jobs. Their is no promotion left from this level. And unless you’ve made your bones like a Torre, experimentation, and especially failed experimentation, leads to much worse consequences than following the CW and throwing your hands up if it doesn’t work out.

  119. Hey, if Proctor is gone in early august, we don’t have to worry about the all-time list. this is going to be a contending team and we’ll have all this nasty stuff sorted out by mid-september.

    AAR, your post makes some great points. I agree with the bit about the clubhouse message sent about production being a prerequisite for playing time, and i’ll even go a step further by suggesting (heresy?) that Heyward isn’t yet a superstar! He’s still a kid, and yes, he’s done a few great things early in his career. But this isn’t benching chipper or mccann for some flash-in-the-pan.

    That said, i agree with Carl on “where do we go from here”. Let Gimper Jones get some r&r, and get prado back to third! and wherefore Hinske? he’s not a great defender, but how did he slip out of the outfield rotation entirely? he and heyward deserve better than pinch-hitting and pinch-running for each other.

    But really, as long as we keep winning, i’m straight. Go Dan!!!

  120. Speaking of the newly departed Proctologist – has it been discussed that his ineptitude on Monday forced the Braves to pitch Kimbrel both Monday and Tuesday, and nearly lost us the game last night?

    Monday: Proctor’s “relief efforts” in the 9th inning turn the game from a blowout into a contest, and force Fredi to bring in Kimbrel to clean up his mess.

    Tuesday: Because Kimbrel had pitched Monday (and a lot recently) Fredi went with Varvaro instead of O’Flaherty to relieve Beachy, hoping to go Varvaro-O’Flaherty-Venters (save). Instead, Varvaro served up a mammoth game-tying HR to Buck, and eventually the Braves used O’Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel in order to win and save the game.

    Summary: Proctor manages to hurt the Braves even when he doesn’t pitch. Man, I am glad to see him gone.

  121. good point, spike. Fredi has reached his career pinnacle and like most politicians, whatever his true convictions might be, he’s got to make company-man decisions publicly or he’ll get fired. That’s the only way out.

    Half the people here of course are already calling for him to be fired (for any number of offenses) but in real life, if the team is winning and he doesnt make too many “craazy” moves like putting kimbrel in the 7th inning, his job is safe.

  122. I thought Varvaro had been pitching pretty well. I was gald to see him get in a presure situation, too bad he gave up the homer.

  123. Buck absolutely raped that fastball from Varvaro.

    I like Varvaro. I thought he earned a shot in a ‘live bullets’ situuation. He may get another chance tonight if Kimbrel is unavailable. If he can handle it, then it shows well for him.

  124. So, I’m 1-2 on bold predictions. Prado played over Heyward (and aren’t we all glad Fredi went with the idiot move on that one last night?) but Monday night’s debacle was, in fact, the last time we saw Proctor in Atlanta.

  125. @275
    The report I saw was that the move created roster space for Vizcaino. Does anyone know if that means Vizcaino is brought up or he’s on the 40 man?

  126. So Proctor was supposedly released at 1:24 AM this morning and still no solid news stories? Just some tweets?

    Not to rain on the parade, but there have been false “reports” of Proctor’s release on Twitter before in the past.

  127. I believe Vizcaino is on his way to Atlanta, yes.

    Also, they promoted Hoover–another recently converted reliever–to AAA. He might show up in the big league bullpen this year as well.

  128. 277 – From DOB:

    “Proctor’s been released & prospect Arodys Vizcaino will join #Braves, as first reported by G-Braves broadcaster/WSB radio’s Tony Schiavone”

  129. I generally agree with the “pitch your closer in the toughest situation” line of thinking, but I’m not sure last night was it. At the time, I probably would’ve saved my closer, thinking there might be something worse than the eighth-place hitter representing the tying run with two outs coming down the pike.

    Also, for all the talk about how we’d be better off if Chipper just went away (easier lineup construction, money freed up, etc.), we sure do seem to be a better offensive team when he’s in the lineup. I think we’d better be careful what we wish for on that. Yeah, it allows everybody else to neatly fit into the lineup. It doesn’t necessarily make us better, though.

  130. Mac, you seem to have a pretty good track record with your tag lines. Suggestion for your next cause: Free Heyward.

  131. Wow, who wouldve thought that Vizcaino would be here this season. Proctor shouldve never been resigned after spring training.

  132. Official mouthpiece of the Braves says it’s so

    The ‘Talking Chop’ blog is the “official mouthpiece”? Thought that was Bowman?

    Now if we can only do something about Proctor.

    Perfect timing.

  133. I’m pretty sure the Braves actually *run* Talking Chop. At least, in the 90s they ran their own little in house “news magazine” by that name. Had a buddy that worked for them for a while.

  134. Proctor wasn’t getting it done so I’m glad he’s replaced, though somewhat surprised it is by Vizcaino (Ascencio must have left a bad taste).

    In all the glee about Proctor, however, I want to say that I appreciate his signing a ball for my son at spring training a year ago on a day that no other players were signing. It meant a lot to an 8 year old. So Proctor should be replaced but he’s also a (seemingly decent) guy who might be at the end of a pretty good ML career. I wish him well.

  135. @287–then you’d think the Braves might actually hire someone who could spell–occasional typos are one thing but Talking Chop is awful

  136. Obviously we’re all pretty happy that a guy who consistently hurt our favorite baseball team is no longer in a position to do that. With that said, Scott Proctor was at one time a dominant ML reliever and it’s always hard to see a player lose his job due to an inability to come back from injury.

    I blame Joe Torre.

  137. Talking Chop is independent from the team, I’m pretty sure. Martin Gandee is an employee of the SB Nation blog network of which Rob Neyer is the head baseball editor now, I think.

  138. The ‘Talking Chop’ magazine is officially affiliated with the Atlanta Braves, and still exists today after a brief hiatus in the early 2000s. The ‘Talking Chop’ blog is with SB Nation, which is independent of MLB.

  139. Hoover’s a lot like Vizcaino in that neither of them should be turned into permanent relievers just yet, but he’s a second tier starter compared to the big four. A lot more potential value is given up by condemning Vizcaino the the bullpen than Hoover, though hopefully it’s just an innings limit thing for both of them and they’ll be starters in AAA again next year. A shot in the major league bullpen’s arm from either of them this year would be quite welcome though. It’s entirely possible that Lowe could be the worst pitcher on the entire staff by October.

  140. When they “convert” guys like Vizcaino and Hoover to the bullpen late in the year like this, it’s as much about limiting innings and seeing if they can help the big league club immediately as it is about permanently having this guys be relievers. Vizcaino in particular is more than likely going to return to starting next season. But since the Braves need a RH reliever, rather than trade a prospect for one, it seems more reasonable to just call the prospect up now.

    I look forward to seeing what he can do.

  141. I’m pretty sure the Braves actually *run* Talking Chop. At least, in the 90s they ran their own little in house “news magazine” by that name.

    It was ChopTalk. Not Talking Chop.

  142. @296 – Breaking them in as bullpen arms also lets them concentrate on one or two pitches that they can rely on, and not have to try their third or fourth best pitch against ML hitters.

    Earl Weaver used to break his young starters in via the pen, I believe.

  143. I’m not terribly excited about seeing Vizcaino unless he’s added movement to his fastball since the last time I saw video of him. My gut says that ML hitters will tear him up, but it’s been a few months since the last I saw, so he might have added some bite.

  144. @291: Not to kick him when he’s down, but I’m having trouble finding a time when Proctor was a “dominant” anything. He had an ok 2006 for a middle reliever, and the rest of his career has varied between terrible and useless. Are you thinking of some first half where he did really well, then tired down the stretch?

  145. I was at the last home game in 2005 when, needing just to not soil himself against the Rockies’ AAA assemblage of hitters, Dan Kolb pitched himself right off the postseason roster. Kolb was a tool, but it still sucked to see a professional be unable to do the bare minimum to keep his job. Alas, Proctor.

  146. I’ve actually been confused by J.J. Hoover’s conversion to relief this season–it happened relatively early, he was nowhere near his innings limit (he still only has 95 total innings this season, compared to 153 last season), and had been doing well in AA as a 23-year old. Hoover looks like a projectable mid-rotation starter, and nothing about his numbers or development thus far suggested he was getting off course.

    That said, I’ll usually defer to the Braves when it comes to player development. If Hoover has been moved to the bullpen permanently–and it’s too soon to tell–then there was probably a reason for it. He’s a good pitcher, so I hope he gets another shot in the upper minors to start. But for now his path to the majors might be through the pen.

  147. @304–Do you have difficulty reading? I’m having trouble finding the word “dominant” in my comment @291. What I said was “pretty good ML career.”

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