Braves 5, Giants 4

San Francisco Giants vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – August 15, 2011 – ESPN.

Fear the Beard Freddie.

For awhile, it looked like another game that the Braves would lead early and lose because of (a) not driving in runners, (b) sloppy defense, and (c) late homers by the other team. Brian McCann homered in the first, and Jose Constanza drove in Freddie Freeman in the second, but the Braves left two on in the latter inning, setting a trend.

Michael Bourn did not have a good game at all. He was 0-4 at the plate, including leaving a bunch of runners on, and he also made a crucial error leading off the fourth, leading to the Giants tying the score without a hit. After the error, it was a walk and a hit batsman, then two sac flies. Both runs were “unearned”.

Tim Hudson then was victimized by the longball, which is something he normally avoids. He gave up a solo shot in the sixth, then another one leading off the eighth. Cristhian Martinez pitched the ninth, getting three groundouts to third.

The Giants brought in Brian “Overrated and Ill-Groomed” Wilson to pitch the ninth, of course. Constanza led off with one of his patented infield singles, then Eric Hinske walked, with Julio Lugo pinch-running for him. Bourn bunted them over, which… sigh… but considering his day at the plate may have been justified after all. Then Martin Prado singled to left… but Lugo held up and couldn’t score, and it was only 4-3. Wilson pitched around McCann, then struck out Uggla, and things looked bleak when it went to 1-2 on Freeman. But he worked it to 3-2, then singled up the middle, two runs scoring to win the game.

160 thoughts on “Braves 5, Giants 4”

  1. Back to the Thome thing, Andruw Jones is still the youngest active player with 400 HRs, and that ain’t gonna change during his career. Still only in his age 34 season – seems like a lot more than that.

    Oh the ninth was so much fun to watch – it was a rare Peachtree TV broadcast.

  2. Chia Chin vs. the Braves this year: 0-2, 2.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R/ER, 3 BB, 3 SO, 23.14 ERA. (By comparison, O’Flaherty has allowed 8 earned runs all season, Venters 9, and Kimbrel 12.)

  3. I’m not going to even bother looking up how much better Kimbrel is than Wilson. Clown.

  4. First and foremost, awesome win. Especially after losing two to the Cubs. And Hurricane T-Bone continues to do his thing.

    Now, the sac bunt. A forewarning — this is based on the validity of the decision at the time it was made, which is the only valid time to judge. After all, anything CAN happen, and did.

    Bourn is an excellent bunter, and so you feel good about his chances to successfully execute — but, even so, there’s no guarantee. But say he does (after all, he did). The run expectancy of having runners on 1st&2nd w/ 0 outs is 1.573. The run expectancy of having runners on 2nd&3rd w/ 1 out is 1.467. Your chances of tying the game actually decrease, though insignificantly.

    OK, but the guy on third is Constanza and, given the situation, you know you will pinch-run with an above-average runner, so maybe the chance upticks slightly. However, in exchange for that, you’ve virtually eliminated the possibility of having the best baserunner in the major leagues try to get on base as the potential winning run. Sorry, but that’s a bad call.

  5. @8
    Especially considering Bourn is happy to draw a walk, especially when you have a pitcher having trouble finding the zone as Wilson did tonight.

  6. @8,

    “The run expectancy of having runners on 1st&2nd w/ 0 outs is 1.573. The run expectancy of having runners on 2nd&3rd w/ 1 out is 1.467. Your chances of tying the game actually decrease, though insignificantly.”

    I don’t know that that’s true. It could be that your chances of scoring one or two runs go way up, but your chances of scoring more than two runs go way down. Your chances of tying the game could increase even with overall run expectancy decreasing.

    I’m not sure, but I don’t know how you can reach the conclusion you reach with the numbers you present.

  7. @8

    You bunt there and give Prado and McCann a chance to tie it. You have to put the both of those guys in scoring position. You’re playing to score two runs there, you play for the tie at home.

    If Lugo didn’t have to freeze on the ground ball in front of him, he would have scored on Prado’s hit.

  8. Big win…just sticking my head in for a moment (thats what she said), did Heyward look as bad as his stat line? Say what you want, but its hard not to pull for a guy like Constanza.

  9. 10 – those numbers suggest that the chances of scoring at all decrease with the bunt, albeit insignificantly.

  10. and, to add to @10, it brought up guys with a really good chance (Prado, McCann and Uggla) of coming through. The argument you make is pretty good, but it’s not really something you could fault someone for coming down on the other side of it.

  11. I know it pains some people, but there are times in baseball where you should bunt. That was one of them.

  12. I would be very curious to see a run expectancy table by inning, if such a thing were possible.

  13. @18, I think what would be more important is to see a histogram for each of the two situations. I have a feeling that your chances of scoring 2 runs or fewer increases, but your chances of scoring more than 2 runs decreases, after the bunt. Increasing the chances of scoring exactly two runs, regardless of the rest of the distribution, would support the bunt decision.

    I know my general rule of thumb on bunts is to only support them against extreme shifts or in the ninth inning or later of one run or tie games, but two on with no outs down by two in the ninth inning also counts. I’m for it.

  14. Well, scoring more than one run ends the game, so it’s not quite germane, right? I mean if we are talking about the most specific case – bottom 9 down 1, 1st&2nd base occupied, none out.

  15. Wow the Giants hitters are posting some lousy numbers. Hope Delgado can put up a good line against some weak hitters and file away a solid win tomorrow.

    16: I’m all about playing the numbers, but I just don’t know. Doesn’t your appraisal change depending on who the hitter is at bat? Bourn with 1st and 2nd and no outs. The guy’s a good bunter, yeah, but a lot of times bunt attempts lead to popups or two-strike counts anyway. And Bourn rarely hits into DPs. You’ve got burners at first and second, let one of your best hitters swing away. A gapper scores both those dudes on the basepaths.

  16. Heyward hit two balls deep to left field. Yeah, they were both caught, but he’s been doing that a good bit lately and it’s a good sign. It doesn’t take much for deep flyouts to turn into homeruns and doubles, and it’s nice that he’s hitting to all fields.

  17. @22, No, one run loses the game. Two runs are needed to tie. The situation is similar, though not identical, to a runner on first down by one.

    What we care most about is the chance of scoring exactly two runs. Are we more likely to score two runs after the bunt than before it? Two runs would get the score to 4-4 and prolong the game.

  18. I don’t know that that’s true. It could be that your chances of scoring one or two runs go way up, but your chances of scoring more than two runs go way down. Your chances of tying the game could increase even with overall run expectancy decreasing.

    Good point, and I also stipulated that, given the baserunners, it may increase (again, insignificantly), your chances of scoring the two runs.

    So, your chances of going forward with a 50/50 chance of winning increase slightly. Contrast that with giving Michael Bourn a chance to get on base with the winning run and no outs, versus (essentially) not giving him that same chance.

    I know it pains some people, but there are times in baseball where you should bunt.

    I agree, but I didn’t say you should never bunt, so now where are we?

  19. @25 – The question basically allows you to ignore the runner on third (assuming it scores if the run on second scores) so you can treat it like runner on 1st with 0 outs vs runner on 2nd with 1 out. The chances of a run scoring in those two situations are .441 vs .418, respectively ( It was a bad play, even if you’re playing for the tie.

  20. From 1999-2002, looks like the answer was bunt. The odds of scoring 2 runs or 3 runs are both higher (1, 4, and 5+ were better odds with 1st and 2nd and 0 outs).

    However, the odds of scoring at least 1 run appear to be higher with 2/3 and 1 out in that table, which runs counter to this longer and more recently-updated table (2nd of 3). So that may have been an anomaly due to the increased power numbers of the steroid era, etc.

    EDIT: Oops, misread the non-repeating columns. 2/3 and 1 out increased the chances of 1 or 2 runs scoring and decreased the chances of 3, 4, or 5+ vs. 1/2 and 0 out. And I guess I misread the other as well since the chances of scoring are still higher in the second table. So it’s entirely possible that the bunt increased our chances of scoring two runs.

  21. 30: Those Rolaids relief points are interesting. Looking at the “tough save”, where you get a point if you come into the game with the tying run on base. The top 3 guys in the standings have 105 saves between them but only one measly “tough save.”

    The most “tough saves” belong to Fernando Salas of the Cards, with 4 of his 22 saves constituted as “tough”.

    I’d say the role of closer has definitely evolved, wouldn’t you?

  22. Yeah, I must have a steroid era gut, because my instincts go with the first table linked in @32 (.165 before the bunt to .218 if the bunt is successful).

    Also in the mix is the fangraphs WPA for the play, which is negative, even though the play was successful.

    I’m thinking I might change my mind on this. I thought it was a good idea, but, after looking more at the situation, it might not have been.

    Interesting question.

  23. Why 3 or 4 points for a save and 2 for a win but only -1 for Loss or blown save. Grading on a curve. Wonder how many of beard’s win come from Blown saves?

  24. So, who is Evan Gattis? He turns 25 in 3 days even though this is only his 2nd year in pro ball, is the catcher for Rome, just hit his 21st home run, and has a .975 OPS (a whopping 1.381 OPS against LHP). If you are as confused as I am, check this read out.

  25. OK, but we’re not interested in the chance only of tying the score in the ninth inning — we’re interested in the chance of winning the game. The bunt gives a .053 better chance of scoring exactly two runs, which means the chance of winning improves by .0265 (you’ve succeeded in giving yourself a 50% chance of eventually winning). But the chance of scoring 3 or more runs (a/k/a winning the game outright in the ninth inning) goes DOWN .064 (.127 + .07 + .059 = .256 w/1&2, 0 outs, vs. .101 + .053 + .038 = .192 w/2&3, 1 out). Therefore, chance of winning the game decreases .0385, or almost 4%, with the bunt.

    Now, you have to dock that .064 a bit, because the game ends on any game-winning hit, so they weren’t going to score 8 runs in the inning. But I would still maintain that the chance of winning would decrease around 3% with the bunt. And again, given that it’s Michael Bourn you’re removing from the basepaths…..

    Edit: Well, hell, obviously there’s nothing I can derive that FanGraphs hasn’t already thought of….

  26. @34,

    I updated that post since I misread a column or three. I’m guessing that bunting still increases the chance to score two runs but lowers the chance of scoring three since the two charts don’t appear to be radically different.

  27. Even if you made Freeman an average 1st base defender, he’d still trail Kimbrell in fWAR, for what that’s worth. This is the same system that tells me that Lowe has been more valuable than both Jurrjens and Hanson this year, however, so I might tend to call BS on pitcher fWAR.

  28. @39, but wouldn’t your primary goal be to tie the game, being the home team and all? Surely extra innings would dramatically improve your chances of winning the game?

  29. Kids, the bunt was the right call because Fredi gets paid to call for bunts. So shut up etc. #samhutcheson

  30. And, Michael Bourn expected to bunt in that situation. He was performing his expected role. If Fredi had told him to swing away, he would have probably peed all over himself and had to come out of the game.

  31. The wonders of DVR. (Suck it, Mr. Shitbeard.) Terrific win, as we look at 6 more consecutive games against 2 teams we need to beat.

    I was torn with the Bourne bunt, to be honest. He’s not completely immune to the GIDP, but that wasn’t something you’d expect there, so I didn’t mind seeing him hacking. I was more worried about a K, if he was swinging away.

    But, other than the fact that we had our 2/3/4 guys coming up, the main reason why the bunt didn’t bother me that much was that a guy like Bourne can make a defense make a mistake & throw the game away on a good bunt. Seen it plenty of times.

    And this Constanza thing is getting pretty fun.

  32. I would think using the actually players would be more accurate than using an average player or whatever fangraph does. The Beard refused to pitch to BMac. Harder to come back with the cowboy’s atrike zone

  33. Watching the play live, with Fontenot selling completely out and charging full-steam, I really wished he had taken one shot at the butcher-boy.

    I think Bourn thought the same thing, and had a vague idea that he could bunt it by him. He really pushed that bunt, didn’t try to soften it at all.

  34. Odd Fact: Sean McDonough also called Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS (aka the Francisco Cabrera Game), which ended similarly to tonight’s game.

    Come back anytime, pal-boy…

  35. “I’m glad we were able to win the game for the team and also for Huddy not to get the loss,” Gonzalez said. “Because he really pitched well. Here it is first and third in the sixth, with one out and you let him hit.”

    Why did he let him?

    “First of all, for me, he may be the only guy on the staff that you feel comfortable handling the bat,” Gonzalez said of his pitchers. “That’s No. 1. No. 2, Number two, he’s pitching so well, he had like 83 pitches to that [point]. He didn’t get the RBI, but we got the win.”

  36. I think the sac bunt was a bad play. So long as you are down, your first, last, and only thought has to be keeping the game going until you win. There’s no clock, so stretching your “time” is all about preserving the outs you’ve got. You also maximize opportunities for future ultra-productive outs if you avoid giving them away, e.g., the possibility that either Uggla or Freddie would hit a long fly ball out that would tie the game. The way Fredi played it, it was certain that if it got to Freddie with the Braves still down, a fly ball out would end the game rather than guaranteeing no worse than extra innings with our best arms available.

    The WPA swing is small, but I think the general principle of not giving away outs is one that can take a manager very far.

    @56: Hilarious. The only guy on the staff that he felt comfortable having swing the bat. Because everyone knows you can use a pitcher to pinch hit for another pitcher.

  37. Fredi speaks in the second person an awful lot when discussing strategy. Is he telling me I’m making these decisions?

  38. So it strikes me that the difference in win probability before and after the bunt doesn’t actually answer the question of whether to bunt there or not, since it’s not comparing the WPA of bunting to the WPA of swinging away, with all its various possible outcomes. So I used the Hardball Times WPA calculator and Bourn’s splits against RHP in 2011 to come up with probabilities for various results of swinging away and the WPA of each result. I weighted the WPAs by the likelihood of their occurring and added them up for a total WPA for Bourn swinging away in that situation. Then I did the same thing for the possible outcomes of bunting (spreadsheet is here:

    So the negative WPA of the bunt itself actually understates the impact of simply deciding to bunt vs. swing away. It’s actually more like -7.7%.

  39. @56 Fredi lucked out. It’s simple as that.

    @58 English is his second language. So I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

  40. It’s amazing, we have been complaining about Nate and Jordan for so long. Once they are gone, suddenly we have Bourn and George. It’s like magic.

  41. @59, 60

    Tip o’ the slide rule to Pete. Especially seeing as it vindicates my position. :)

  42. 60 –

    I’m definitely in the anti-bunt camp, but you also need to measure a FC to 2nd and/or 3rd. A fielder’s choice to 2nd, in fact, is almost as likely as a regular groundout.

    But otherwise, yes, the results suggest that bunting was the wrong move in that situation. Queue the “you can’t reduce human decisions to a computer algorithm” arguments…

  43. So, to sum up:

    1. Bunting the tying run into scoring position is terrible, because of 1/1000ths of points of “win expectancy” in aggregate, statistical scenarios.

    2. Scott Linebrink getting dinked to death yesterday proves a) that Linebrink is shit and b) that Gonzalez is shit for using Linebrink at all, but…

    3. Jason Heyward’s 0-4 today should actually be considered a 2-4 or something, because he “hit the ball well to left field.” In fact…

    4. Heyward’s four outs were more impressive than Jose Constanza’s singles, because they went farther, and that’s the most important thing, unless…

    5. It’s Fredi calling a bunt to move the tying run to 2B in the ninth, because when it’s not Jason Heyward the most important thing is to preserve outs, even for 1/1000th of a percentage point on an actuarial table. Only Jason gets the “make impressive sounding outs and it’s okay” treatment.

    That about it, boys?

  44. I was wondering if I am a jinx. I watched both Cubs games …..gak! Sorry just choked a little, and then started watching this game. I went to bed and missed the rally.

    I have to admit that I was flabbergasted by the decision to bunt Hudson. Especially with our bullpen. A sudden drop in confidence in EOF? I don’t know but that was a weak defense of that decision in the post game interview.

    Jayson Heyward looks a lot like the struggling Kelly Johnson of a couple of seasons ago. He is beating a lot of balls into weak grounders. I sure hope he turns it around soon. At some point in time the magic dust on George Constanza has to wear off.

  45. @65 – Ah, good point. I’ll go back and add that at lunch or sometime. I don’t expect it to change things much, since it will basically just fragment the 25% share currently allotted to groundouts, but it will slightly help out the case for bunting.

  46. That about it, boys?

    You left out a bon mot about both allowing Hudson to hit AND ordering him to bunt.

    I knew if everyone clapped hard enough, you couldn’t stay away…

  47. I think Fredi should have pulled Huddy for a PH. The bunt was the right call. You have to give Prado and McCann a chance to tie the game there.

    Prado came through and forced them to walk McCann. If Uggla hits a fly ball there the game is tied. However, Freeman cmae up huge.

  48. My point is not that Fredi made perfect calls. I’d have PH for Hudson, personally.

    My point is that a few folks around here will say one sort of thing one day, when it fits their story, and then say something completely different the next, because that’s the way to make Heyward a victim that day.

  49. Sam’s 2a, 3, and 4 are pure trolling, as no reasonable person is arguing those claims. (2b is a bit of a question, but that has much more to do with the elite quality of the rest of the pen and the reluctance to leverage that talent.)

    His dismissals in #1 and #5 are unwarranted, as the numbers involved are pretty significant. The 99-02 tables gives us a 5% increase in the chance of winning as a result of the successful bunt. Fangraphs gives us a 4% decrease in the chance of winning after a successful bunt. That’s a 9% swing using different analyses without even considering the talent of the players involved or the chance of an unsuccessful bunt. That’s a pretty massive difference, and it’s why the question is so interesting.

  50. Sigh. Yes, Sam, when you attempt to describe several individual, disparate opinions as some overarching conventional wisdom, the result will seem incoherent.

    To the others — thanks for the stimulating discussion and research. I found the topic highly engaging. And now, since we appear to be gearing up for another dose of late-’90s style internet sophism, I’ll check ya later.

  51. Sam at 66,

    I rarely post on here, but I’ve read this entire thread, and I have no idea where you’re coming from.
    1. Nobody has called the bunt decision “terrible” or anything like that. Some have disagreed with it, and others have agreed, but no one has called it terrible.
    2. Linebrink’s name doesn’t appear in the thread until you bring it up.
    3. One person said that Heyward hit the ball well. He doesn’t suggest Heyward should get extra credit in the stats for it. It’s pretty commonplace here for people to remark when balls were hit well.
    4. Nobody has said Heyward’s outs were “more impressive” than Constanza’s singles. All of the posts about Constanza have been positive. It is true that Heyward’s outs did go farther, but nobody has suggested that’s a good thing.
    5. All of the analysis about the bunt situation has been specific to the situation in the bottom of the ninth when Bourn was batting. Nobody has discussed Heyward with regard to the bunt, because he had nothing to do with it.

    I’ve agreed with a lot you’ve written over the past week or so, but it’s pretty clear you’re tilting at windmills here.

  52. @66 – It’s highly entertaining to see the composite opinion that you manage to cobble together from what are actually a variety of different people’s opinions. It’s not that you’re making a strawman as much as you’re making a giant straw frankenstein monster.

    But to address your undead points:
    1.) Don’t think of it like 1/1000ths of points of “win expectancy,” think of it like 8% of Win Expectancy. 8% is not insignificant, and it’s all on Fredi. And the “win expectancy” isn’t theoretical, it’s empirical. Those numbers are compiled from actual historical situations.
    2.) Linebrink got unlucky Sunday. A pitcher capable of striking more people out wouldn’t have been susceptible to bad luck in the same way, but that doesn’t change the fact that Linebrink was unlucky in the exact same way that Heyward has been unlucky for damn near the whole season and Constanza has been just insanely lucky for a couple of weeks now. Luck (or random strings of randomness, however you want to look at it) exists.
    3.) Nobody’s suggesting that Heyward should get credit for two hits he didn’t get. The specific question was whether he looked as bad as his box score did, and in my opinion he didn’t. That’s a good thing for the team, BTW.
    4.) Constanza has insane luck right now. Bloops are falling, guys are dropping his groundballs, it’s just nuts, but the results are the results and they were better than Heyward’s tonight. No one disputes this.
    5.) All you can do to try to win a baseball game is to make the best decision possible based on likely outcomes without the benefit of hindsight. The Fredi’s bunt call exercise above was an attempt to evaluate one specific decision based on only the information available at the time it was made. This is called rational analysis. If I was given the choice between two deep flyballs to LF and a week grounder up the middle + a soft fliner to short left center, I’d pick the deep flyballs if I was actually trying to score runs and didn’t have the benefit of looking back and seeing which of those turned into outs.

  53. @73 – I was thinking the same thing. Time to check out of Braves Journal for the day. Sam is done eating small children for breakfast and has arrived at whatever hovel he calls the office.

    Random annoyance that has probably been discussed here already: I just had AT&T Uverse installed. AT&T Uverse is advertised as a sponsor during what seems like every Braves game. The Peachtree TV games are carried on Fox Sports South outside of Atlanta, but not on Uverse. They declined to pay the extra dough to carry those games, so they are blacked out on Uverse outside of Atlanta, unlike on every other cable provider in my area. So a cable company is a sponsor of the Braves but they don’t even carry more than 1/4 of the Braves games this season. Whichever corporate nincompoop made this decision should be executed, fired, then executed again.

  54. It’s a way of targeting their advertising. This way, they don’t spend extra dollars advertising to people who are already their customers.

  55. @75- It’s pretty obvious really. If you don’t BROADCAST any Braves games, but you ADVERTISE on Braves games, then you’re guaranteeing that you don’t waste your advertising dollars on people who already use your service.

    It’s like advertising tampons during an MMA fight. None of those viewers already buy your tampons! THAT’S your ideal market! Genius!

    Wait, do I have that right?

  56. With the way Constanza is playing, I was wondering if a speedy player forces more errors on the defense than someone who’s slow as molasses.

    Has there been a study that attempts to correalate reaching base on an error with speed? Or, do some players (for whatever reason) reach on errors more often than random chance would indicate?

    I’m clueless on how to search for something like that, but I bet someone somewhere has done a study like that.

  57. @78 – I always wondered a similar thing. I’ve always kinda thought players should get some kind of credit for the fielder’s error (even though that goes against the entire (stupid) idea of the error.)

    Seems to me that guys who scald the ball, and guys who run fast likely force more errors than other players. Seems to me that means that they had something to do with it.

    For what it’s worth, early last season I remember reading that Heyward had forced more errors than anyone else in baseball. Made sense to me. He scalded the ball and ran fast.

  58. wOBA gives credit for Reached on Errors, for what it’s worth. Depending on how you feel about wOBA, that would give credence to the idea that errors have at least something to do with the batter.

  59. Hudson pitched 2 innings after not being pinch hit for. What is the win factor of having a rested bullpen for the rest of series? The Beard had to pitch differently with tying run on second. How much did that contribute to his epic fail?

  60. While Sam’s tone can be bad and some times taking things too far, he isn’t completely worng.

    Is Fredi the worst manager ins baseball? No. Is he the worst in the NL East? No.

    Is he Connie Mack? No.

    Until the last few weeks, for the most part, Fredi had done a good job managing the starters.

    He has been willing to toy with the lineup to make the most effienct use of his players.

    There were times, especially at the start of the season, where the bunts became stupid. He may have rode O’Ventbrail too far.

  61. It’s obvious that Costanza has made a deal with the devil and hopefully was dumb enough to brag about it — he’s this year’s Willie Harris and maybe we can get a great deal for him in the off season.

  62. PeteOrr-wOBA is a good start, but I was specifically wondering if reaching on an error can be correalated with specific players. Or, is it, like so many other things in baseball, essentially a random occurence over the course of several seasons worth of ABs.

    I mean, if I hear Joe Simpson say that Constanza and Bourn ‘put pressure on the defense’ one more time, I won’t be held responsible for my actions…

    But if there is a correalation, then perhaps I can bear up under Joe’s mantra. (Has that particular phrase replaced ‘Going the other way with the pitch.’ yet as Simpson’s Go To Phrase?)

  63. I think it’s pretty sad when the best thing you can say about the “future of the franchise” is that he hit a couple of fly balls to fairly deep left field even though–at the least the one I saw–was not close to going out. I’m not saying give up on Heyward at 21, but people are really grasping at straws to seemingly avoid having to say that he is having an awful year and is getting worse, not better. It’s sort of like Tiger Woods.

    This will sound strange but I find wins like this fun but sort of unsatisfying. Not to take anything away from Freeman because it was a great at-bat, but two out hits with the bases loaded are sort of lucky. He basically hit a ground ball that found a hole. The game came down to this because the Braves continue not to be able to push runners across.

  64. There was a period in which everything Heyward made contact with went on the ground to 2nd base. That still occasionally happens, but the fact that he’s occasionally lofting the ball to the opposite field seems like a good thing to me. It’s not success, but it’s at least movement away from guaranteed failure, if that makes sense.

  65. @88,

    That makes sense but I still don’t see him driving the ball with much authority on a regular basis and that is very disturbing. If it was just a matter of Heyward being pull happy, I could live with that if he at least was hitting balls hard that he could reach.

    I’m not advocating burying Heyward on the bench but I think his issues are more serious than people want to acknowledge.

  66. @75, Plus they don’t offer the MLB Extra Innings package, which was a pretty big disappointment when I started with them.

  67. I don’t see much point in extra innings. For that price, you might as well just get a Roku box and Then you get the same HD-quality games on the TV and the ability to play them on your laptop or phone or whatever.

  68. @93, I ended up getting MLB.TV but I usually have problems with it, even with an 18 MBPS connection. I have a 17″ laptop and I actually prefer watching the game on that over hooking it up to my 40″ Samsung with an HDMI adaptor. The quality is good enough for a 17″ screen, but the buffering and digital glitches are distracting to me when I blow it up. At $20-25 a month for MLB.TV, it ends up being about the same as Extra Innings.

  69. @93 – looks TERRIBLE on a large screen. It’s so bad, that I watch it on the standard size instead of blowing it up full screen.

    @94 – I don’t think Beachy will be a factor. Anyone who is determined to vote for a starting pitcher will find better candidates (like Worley.)

    I think there’s a good chance we’re disappointed when he ROY vote goes down. I can see Kimbrel and Freeman splitting the vote enough that some player from a favored franchise (like Worley) might steal the vote.

  70. With all that movement in the box, high leg kick and right leg bailing towards first I am surprised Constanza makes contact. There is a lot going on. Pretty entertaining to watch.

    I must be watching the wrong guy. Heyward didn’t look very good at all to me but I guess its up to the beholder. Just not much carry or velocity on his hit balls last night. I don’t blame him on the strike out. That guy is nasty on lefties. Don’t get me wrong, I want Heyward to break out in a big way but it looks farther away to me than most here. Very subjective I know.

  71. MarcSchneider/87:

    I think it’s pretty sad when the best thing you can say about the “future of the franchise” is that he hit a couple of fly balls to fairly deep left field even though–at the least the one I saw–was not close to going out. I’m not saying give up on Heyward at 21, but people are really grasping at straws to seemingly avoid having to say that he is having an awful year and is getting worse, not better. It’s sort of like Tiger Woods.

    Yeah, no one denies that he’s really struggling right now. If he’s still got the shoulder injury, but it’s not the kind of thing that will be helped by resting it for 15-20 days, I guess I think they’re doing the right thing to keep him on the active roster. I still think he should be getting the start every day, unless that’s not possible because it will aggravate the injury. If he’s not injured and is just in a slump, I think the right thing to do is to trust the tools and the talent, keep giving him starts and wait for him to break out of it. No one has posited a cause for him losing all the talent that made him a 5 WAR player last year, and so long as nobody can, I think it is reasonable to continually expect a return to career norms.

    Even if the slump continues, this is a good enough lineup with Mac back to carry a weak bat (in addition to Alex’s) for a while.

    This will sound strange but I find wins like this fun but sort of unsatisfying. Not to take anything away from Freeman because it was a great at-bat, but two out hits with the bases loaded are sort of lucky. He basically hit a ground ball that found a hole. The game came down to this because the Braves continue not to be able to push runners across.

    So, yes, it was quite lucky that we won in that specific way. More often than not, Freddie hits it at an infielder or lofts it to right or strikes out. Thing is, being unable to push runners across is also luck, because baseball players can’t raise their hitting talent to adjust to the base/out state. So I’d say that in this game, we had some bad luck and some good luck, and we should just take the win and not worry about what it says about the future of the team. The team is fine.

  72. @89 – I think you may be right. Heyward has noted that he’s working with Chipper and Parrish when he’s not starting. I suspect that his mechanics are getting a makeover and he’s not quite ready to carry that into games full time yet.

  73. MLBTV doesnt look that bad through Roku. It’s not 1080p, but it is 720 which is good enough for me and most people.

  74. Of all the players, since the trade deadline, that were traded to a new team or with a team for the first time (rookie callups), Constanza has outWARred them all according to talkingchop (info from B-ref)
    Top 5-
    Constanza: 1.1 WAR
    Pence: 0.6 WAR
    Fukodome: 0.4 WAR
    Bourn: 0.3 WAR
    Furcal/D.Lee: 0.2 WAR

  75. So this thing about keeping Mike Minor in the rotation and going with six guys to give the starters extra rest…

    With all the time JJ and Hanson have been laid off due to injury, do they really need “rest” in the traditional way the term is used?

    Is there any evidence in Tim Hudson’s career that he would have benefited from pitching in a six-man rotation down the stretch?

    Was Lowe’s September and postseason last year – in which he was truly the best Braves SP going – a result of having had “rest”?

    Is “rest” really the problem with the rotation, or more of a concern with the bullpen, where overuse is always a compelling concern, not just for the Braves but most ballclubs?

    My final question: Wouldn’t it seem like a better solution to put Lowe in the bullpen? Perhaps he might surprise in that role (once again, recall that he was once a dominating relief pitcher). We’d have another right-handed asset in the pen who could even specialize when we need ground balls. And we’d have arguably our five best starters keeping things going in the rotation.

  76. MLBTV quality scales to the connection. Watched almost every Braves game this year on multiple computers and the quality has been fantastic.

  77. @96,

    I think Freeman will get it. Freeman is getting a lot of attention now. People are going to move away from a relief pitcher when you have an everyday player putting up very good numbers.

    Beachy has had too many blow ups to be a real factor.

  78. Verducci had a stat the other day that Heyward is hitting only .137 against ‘power pitchers’ (whatever the definition of that is) vs. .273 last year. He has only had 9 hits to LF this vs. 20 last year.

    His thinking was that the Giants ‘exposed’ that Heyward had a tough time getting around on stuff hard and in, so that is the book on him.

    It makes a lot of sense to my untrained eye. Heyward is over compensating for something (ie shoulder, the thumb he STILL cannot straighten out fully, or a swing flaw) to stuff in that he is pulling off of stuff middle away.

    He just does not look like the guy we loved so much last year. Something is wrong.

  79. @107 – If he’s using b-ref for that stat: “Power pitchers are in the top third of the league in strikeouts plus walks. Finesse are in the bottom third of the league in strikeouts plus walks. Stats are based on the three years before and after (when available), and the season for when the split is computed. A split in 1994 would consider years 1991-1997 when classifying a pitcher.”

    @105 – looks great on my desktop and my laptop. But I’ve a PC in my living room that is connected full-time to a 52 inch plasma through HDMI (building a PC to put in there was cheaper than burning all the DVDs I dow… purchase.) I can’t watch full screen, it looks like standard definition. I have an 18 mbps connection.

  80. I use MLB.TV and stream to my hdtv quite often and the picture quality is excellent.
    I use FIOS 25/25 internet service and its darn good. I have buffering issues a few times a game but nothing that really interrupts the flow at all.

  81. looks great on my television as well. I use the Roku box. The difference in quality between last season and this season is significant.

  82. I don’t believe anyone has mentioned this article yet –

    It closes with the following gem:

    In a recent interview, The Globe and Mail’s Jeff Blair asked the Jays’ Shortstop what has spurred his improvement in 2011.

    Escobar’s reply?


    I think we’ve gone over the merits of the AAG/Yunel trade more than enough already, but just for comparison’s sake, here are there current slash lines for the season (obp/slg/ops):
    AAG: .262/.345/.607
    Yunel: .378/.428/.805

    Incredibly, AAG’s current 2011 OPS is lower than Yunel’s OPS with the Braves in 2010 (.618).

  83. I just finished a delicious lunch. Despite this, I now have a bad taste in my mouth. Thanks, NickH.

  84. I maintain that the worst thing about that trade was how obvious it was to everyone that Wren was dumping Escobar at the absolute nadir of his value.

  85. @104 – I’m not sure a six man rotation solves the most obvious problem with the starters right now – getting deep into games. As such, I agree that a six man rotation might be a solution in search of a problem.

    Perhaps a more creative solution would be to define an eight-man “rotation” of sorts. Take the pitchers that have difficulty getting past five innings and team them up as dual starters.

    Have Lowe start, go through the rotation twice at the most (3-4 innings), then bring in Vizcaino for the next 2-3 innings.) Back up your slop throwing sinker/slider guy with a fire breathing strikeout guy.

    Team Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy up in a simliar fashion (or Minor and Delgado if needed.)

    Rotation of

    Hudson + the pen
    Jurrjens + the pen
    Delgado/Martinez (??) + the pen

    It’s basically converting one of your starters to long relief, but using them specifically to back up a given guy on a given day. The cost would be either a bullpen arm or your last guy off of the bench.

  86. Well, I for one am happy that Yunel is happy. Wouldn’t want the conceited asshat to continue moping, now would we?

    Good riddance.

    About Constanza returning to Earth: if he were slashing line drives into the gap, I’d probably agree. But what he’s doing is pretty much what he does. It’s just not valued all that much.

    I think that’s a mistake. Especially in the new Dead-Ball Era.

    Sam (and others) think I overvalue speed, but it sure has been the difference in this lineup.

    Heyward has always been vulnerable to a fastball (or hard cutter) on the hands. Most lefties are. A lot of pitchers are afraid to come inside because if you miss …

    I was afraid Freddie had the same weakness, but he does a great job of keeping his hands in on an inside pitch. When he self-corrected earlier this year, I knew we had something special, but this? Wow!

    Huge, huge win – especially after that bitter Cub series. Really could have sent us into a tailspin had we lost last night.

  87. @115 I’m not sure why this hasn’t been tried more often, especially when you consider that the Braves have a great long man in the Lisp.

  88. @115 – It would be a deviation from standard usage patterns, and as we’ve established in other conversations…

    If Beachy could go even six complete, maybe compete into the seventh, you wouldn’t need to expand your pitcher-roster notably to make it work. Just replace J.C. Boscan with a starter/long reliever and live without the third catcher.

    It’s out of the box a bit, but I’d seriously think about giving it a whirl. We know that Lowe has trouble the third time through the order (or more precisely, *more* trouble.) We know that the “Four Horsemen” kids are babies and probably not going to get through seven innings regularly. You’d need to have a starting staff who valued winning over stats – which is why I’d take the kids and pair them behind the “established starters” like Lowe and (at this point, Beachy.) Minor/Delgado/Vizcaino (or even Teheran) should be happy to be on the big league roster, not grumbling about not getting a chance for the “win.”

  89. I really think the greatest value the rotation could see is getting Lowe out of it and seeing what he can do as a reliever.

    But pairing pitchers up to make up for the starters not going deep into the game makes for an interesting strategy.

    All this said, if Lowe gives us another September like he did last year… but I don’t think that’s something people ought to be counting on.

  90. @116 – Yunel is an immature twat, but the man can ball. It’s such a shame he couldn’t get along with the Cox and the other players. I can’t help feeling that, if Yunel had just made some cursory efforts at PR (such as reaching out to the Braves mgt. and fans and asking for patience/forgiveness) that he’d still be our starting SS.

    My impression is that the Braves are a highly-regarded franchise around baseball, but we sure have had our share of players who crash and burn due to lack of motivation / desire to improve and succeed; you could also put Melky in that category, and perhaps Frenchy and Andruw (for different reasons).

  91. The problem with moving Lowe out of the rotation *right now* is that you don’t have anyone to take his place.

  92. 120: I don’t blame the Braves for moving Yunel anymore than I blame the Brewers for having moved Gary Sheffield. Perhaps the organization can shoulder some blame for not developing Yunel in just the right way to overcome his immaturity, but I think it’s the kid’s character traits that made his staying with the team untenable. I hope he matures and does well in the future (Gary Sheffield sure did). But after he gave up the chance to record an out for his team solely to indulge in some payback on an opposing player, I have my doubts.

    121: Right; I’m suggesting moving Lowe to the pen when Hanson and Jurrjens return. Of course, in the meantime Lowe could have a great start and Minor could flame out in his next turn complicating things…

  93. I’m honestly not sure we have a better shot with Minor starting and Lowe in the pen than vice versa.

  94. The Jays also aren’t a contending team. They can take chances on players. Maybe he realized that this was his last chance. Obviously, the trade hasn’t worked out for the Braves but Escobar was a jerk in Atlanta–or, at least, he did a number of on-field things that were unprofessional.

  95. I’m not either. But we don’t need another lefty in the bullpen, and Lowe’s stuff lends himself to being a right-handed reliever of value.

  96. I find myself thinking more and more about Frenchy and McCann vs. Heyward and Freeman… two friends coming up through the minors, one of them very highly touted, the other also showing talent but not being “talked up” as much as the other. The first one to arrive makes a big media splash, lots of jerseys sold, then the second arrives and not much fan fare is made about it… in the case of Frenchy and McCann I think we all can agree McCann turned out to be the real deal. The verdict is still out on the Heyward and Freeman chapter but it does seem to me there are a lot of similarities to the stories so far.

    I almost got MLBTV when I found out my place in Florida would not be carrying Braves game on the local cable provider. Instead I bought a Vulkano, hooked it up to my DirecTV in ATL and now I can watch Braves in Florida with my laptop HMDI to the TV or anywhere else on my Android (which is awesome when I am stuck somewhere I don’t want to be with nothing else to do).

  97. The Jays also aren’t a contending team.

    TOR is a game over .500 in the toughest division in baseball, 10 games over against the non-NYY/TBR/BOS clubs. They are good, very young, have a lot of money, a sharp GM and an excellent farm system. Escobar is definitely going to be “a part of the next good jays team”, because they are there right now. They got Yunel to get them to the next level, not as some lottery ticket.

  98. TOR is a game over .500 in the toughest division in baseball

    And in fourth place in their division. As such, they are not a contending team. If everything breaks perfectly for them in the next 3 years they can maybe pull ahead of the Rays for third place and the occasional playoff spot. But then again, people have been saying the Jays were that team for 10 years now, and they’re still “one spot ahead of the Orioles.”

  99. In any event, to cast their pickup of Yunel as something they did just to pass the time of day because they are in the cellar is not really passing the smell test. They have a plan – it may not work because of institutional factors, but the idea that Yunel was a better risk for them because they suck and no one will care is absurd.

  100. The Jays took the classic gambit of talented over head-case, because of where they were in the competitive landscape and because they felt the upside of talent winning out over head-case was worth their while. And because they had signed Alex Gonzalez to play SS for *exactly that purpose.* (To flip at the deadline.)

    The Braves took less talent to get rid of a head-case they didn’t think they could continue to work with and who was not producing at the major league level. They did that because they valued defense more than the Jays and because they were fed up with the head-case to the point of overlooking the talent.

  101. They did that because they valued defense more than the Jays and because they were fed up with the head-case to the point of overlooking the talent.

    No, they did that because their front office went all John Wayne “Get outta town by sundown” at the time, and Sea Bass was the best they could get – which pretty much describes why it’s a stupid strategy.

  102. Escobar: .297/.378/.428

    Gonzalez: .235/.262/.345

    The Braves traded away one of the better hitting short stops for likely the worst (minimum: 450 at-bats)…for no reason other than the ‘good ol’ boy’ crew in the clubhouse didn’t like Escobar. That’s not the way to run a team.

  103. If you’re angry and need to hit something, it’s better to beat something that’s already dead.

  104. How come we are not discussing the legacy of the King today?

    No, not that weirdo pretty boy, Babe Ruth, who died 63 years ago today?

  105. I have no interest in discussing this with people who honestly think a “‘good ol’ boy’ crew in the clubhouse” ran Escobar out of town. I don’t have a lot of patience with people who make up their own ‘reality’ as they go.

  106. I don’t have a lot of patience with people who make up their own ‘reality’ as they go.

    That really invites the question “who exactly do you have patience with?” but you needn’t take it up just now.

  107. Babe Ruth, who died 63 years ago today?

    Pretty good player. Would have been interesting if he’d not had a diluted talent base to play against. Was no Barry Bonds.

  108. That really invites the question “who exactly do you have patience with?” but you needn’t take it up just now.

    Sultry, dark-eyed brunettes. You’d be amazed at the shit I’d endured for a dark-haired beauty.

  109. You know what? I think once Tyler Pastornicky comes up and gives the Braves 6+ years of .725 – .750 OPS at shortstop (without once frosting the tips of his hair), we’ll decide that the deal actually turned out pretty fair for all involved.

  110. I think once Pastornicky comes up and gives the Braves 6+ years of .725 – .750 OPS at shortstop (without once frosting the tips of his hair), we’ll decide that the deal actually turned out pretty fair for all involved.

    I’ll take some of that action, and even give odds.

  111. @129,


    I didn’t say they did it because no one cared but they didn’t have any realistic chance of competing at the time they made the trade. They can take risks that teams in contention cannot. Clearly, they thought the reward outweighed the risk and it appears to have done so, but they might not have made the same decision if they were close to a playoff spot.


    I keep reading this meme that the “good old boys” were responsible for trading Escobar. I don’t think to. I think Escobar’s own actions are what got him traded, unless you think missing pop ups and making lollypop throws that almost get your first baseman killed are examples of “good old boyism.”

    Now, maybe his on-field problems were the result of how the clubhouse was treating him. That I don’t know. But, regardless of how bad the trade was, it’s unfair to say there was no cause other than nobody liked him.

    As for it not being a way to run a team, I would suggest that people who have had winning seasons in 18 out of the last 20 years, with 15 (probably going on 16) playoff appearances may know a little bit about running a team.

  112. but they might not have made the same decision if they were close to a playoff spot.

    Pure speculation on your part. (nothing personal)

    I would suggest that people who have had winning seasons in 18 out of the last 20 years, with 15 (probably going on 16) playoff appearances may know a little bit about running a team.

    They don’t seem to know much about how to win one of those playoff series though, so what does it all mean?

  113. “Pretty good player. Would have been interesting if he’d not had a diluted talent base to play against. Was no Barry Bonds.”

    Sam, you are just saying that to be iconoclastic. There was no “diluted” talent base. It wasn’t as deep as today, obviously, because of segregation but you could say that about almost any time. One day we might be arguing that Bonds faced a “diluted” talent base because there weren’t many, say, Chinese players. Unless you really think every Negro League player was better than every white player, your argument really doesn’t make sense. Bonds is playing in an era when a lot higher % of athletes in all races play football, basketball, tennis, etc.

    But, even if it was true, so what? Babe Ruth is a social icon. It’s a tragedy that Josh Gibson isn’t as well but that doesn’t really detract from Ruth. General Patton didn’t face the Red Army; does that mean he wasn’t a good general?

  114. The “good ol’ boys ran poor Escobar out of town” meme is classic post hoc reasoning at its worst. A favored player (Escobar) is traded for questionable returns (AGon, Pastonicky, that little reliever that we sent to the Royals.) Rather than admit that the favorite had some part in his ticket out of town, the fan generates a narrative where a cadre of evil rednecks and hicks in the Atlanta clubhouse (I assume led by Evil Good Ol’ Boy Proper, Chipper Jones) ran the unassuming Cuban phenom out of town for being too good for us all.

    Or something.

    Escobar was traded because he quit trying. He quit making the effort. That is the bridge too far for Bobby Cox and the Atlanta Braves.

  115. I think its unofficially official. The Escobar/Gonzalez trade has taken the place of the infamous Teixeira trade as the one Braves Journal rehashes the most. Over and over and over and over again. Sigh.

    @132 – What Marc said.

    EDIT: ‘Escobar was traded because he quit trying. He quit making the effort. That is the bridge too far for Bobby Cox and the Atlanta Braves.

    Thats it in a nutshell.

  116. @145 – Yeah, I’m being catty to be catty a bit there, but then again, Bonds faced stronger pitchers, better defenders (with much better equipment) more relief specialists throwing much harder, and a talent base drawn from across the globe.

    Ruth faced white guys from the US.

    Ruth is the best player, statistically, to ever play the game. He also had advantages that modern players don’t have.

  117. @142 – that projection for Pastornicky is obviously very optimistic, some might say “best case scenario”, or if you like obnoxious made-up words, “wishcasting”. It can’t hurt to dream of a successful, post-AAG world though, right?

  118. He also had advantages that modern players don’t have.

    One of the funniest things I have ever read in a Bonds/Ruth comparison.

  119. I don’t have a lot of patience with people who make up their own ‘reality’ as they go.

    Amen to that, Sam.

  120. Ruth also had to face a league that had half the player slots that Bonds faced, so the talent level of the ‘middling’ players was higher than the talent level of the ‘middling’ players that Bonds faced.

    So, yes, Ruth didn’t face black players, but the overall talent base MAY have evened that out. I’d say the challenges faced by Ruth weren’t that different than the challenges faced by Bonds – at least wrt overall talent of the opposition.

  121. @148 Baseball had expanded from 16 to 30 teams when Bonds was playing. Pitching was more diluted for Bonds than for Ruth. Babe did not use body armor or PEDs, just booze and hot dogs. Idiot on ESPN radio was trying to say velocity of pitchers was so much higher now. Speed guns now use velocity when ball leaves pitcher’s hand and Feller’s and Ryan’s velocity was based on speed at plate. Josh Gibson and Walter Johnson were never timed. Posey is out and so was the Beard.

  122. One of the funniest things I have ever read in a Bonds/Ruth comparison.

    The comp also runs in reverse, obviously. Which is a point many Bonds haters fail to account for.

  123. Stu – So Comer is going to Canada? Too bad. I was pretty excited when I thought we had both Beede and Comer.

    I was realistically hoping we would get one of Beede, Comer and Dunston, and I thought Beede was least likely. I did not think there was any way the Jays would let the first pick get to Vandy.

  124. 132: Let’s assume you’re correct and that the “Yunexile” occurred because of an overbearing and out of control Good Ol’ Boys clubhouse. What other instances can you point to where this clubhouse mentality has failed the Braves in the past?

  125. What other instances can you point to where this clubhouse mentality has failed the Braves in the past?

    Don’t know if you can say it “failed” them: but the Braves released Bob Wickman in 2007 and, particularly with Andruw Jones and Hudson, went to the media and painted Wickman in a negative light. Wickman wasn’t even pitching that badly when he was released, you could tell he was released because he wasn’t liked.

  126. @148,

    “Ruth faced white guys from the US.”

    That is sort of a racialist, if not racist, argument. Obviously, if MLB had been integrated, it would have beens stronger. But, by itself that doesn’t mean Bonds was better. Just because Ruth didn’t face Satchel Paige doesn’t mean he didn’t face good pitchers.

    I certainly think Bonds was one of the best players of all time, steroids or not. Maybe he was better than Ruth. Who knows? But,it’s sort of ridiculous to have to defend Babe Ruth as if white guys are totally unable to play baseball. After all, plenty of white guys have done well during integration.

    “They don’t seem to know much about how to win one of those playoff series though, so what does it all mean?”

    Spike, that’s a pretty ridiculous statement considering that the Blue Jays haven’t even made the playoffs since 1993. I think most people think that the Braves performance does mean a lot.

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