Braves 1, Dbacks 0

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – August 21, 2011 – ESPN.

That one could have been easier. The Braves continue to be stymied by the legendary Josh Collmenter, getting one run on a leadoff solo homer by Alex Gonzalez in the third. But they won anyway, behind Tim Hudson and the two top relievers, and a couple of strong defensive plays.

Hudson went seven, allowing just three hits (but walking three) and striking out seven. The DBacks had one good chance to get a run off of him, after Kelly Johnson tripled leading off the sixth. But Hudson got a grounder to short, drawn in, to stop him from scoring. Then Freddie Freeman made a great play, making an over-the-shoulder catch of a pop foul headed out to right field, then gunning KJ down at the plate. End threat.

Jonny Venters allowed a two-out hit but that was all in the eighth. The DBacks’ second chance of the day came with a walk and a hit off of Craig Kimbrel to give them first-and-third, one out. But Kimbrel bore down and got two strikeouts (he already had struck out the leadoff man) to end it.

Braves had just five hits, all by different players. They blew two good chances to score — bases loaded, one out in the sixth (after Hudson led off the inning with a walk) and after a one-out Michael Bourn double-and-error in the eighth (Fredi called for a ridiculous squeeze bunt with Martin Prado at the plate, and Prado couldn’t get the bat on the ball).

136 thoughts on “Braves 1, Dbacks 0”

  1. Should have been easier and could have been a lot worse thanks to Fredi. What a great home stand after the Cubs series. Go Braves!

  2. Well, after three games and a sweep, I have to say I’m not all that impressed with the Diamondbacks. However, they still look better than the Giants, who look truly woeful. Perhaps if Beltran comes back and is a beast, he can carry them to the division title. It’s sort of a shame that the only real race in September appears to be the NL West and these two kinda lousy teams.

    Question: I forget how HFA is apportioned in the playoffs. I’m assuming that, even if we’re a 100-victory wild card team, we wouldn’t have HFA against our first round opponent, whether they be 90-win Brewers or 85-win D’Backs. Am I correct in that assumption? And then what about an NLCS against a team other than the Phillies? Would our superior in-season winning percentage mean we’d get HFA? My memory on this question is poor.

  3. I will never criticize
    Fredi for not bunting.
    But MORE hit-and -runs
    with slow runners and
    high-strikeout hitters..
    And 1-out SUICIDE
    squeezes with the
    fastest man in the
    league, and 2, 3 and 4
    due up…
    He needs to be
    euthanized . Whatever it
    takes to stop him.

  4. @3 The Wild Card team does not have home field advantage, in either the DS or LCS, no matter the in-season records.

  5. #6: Thanks for your answer. That was my fear.

    I still have hopes we’re about to go on a long tear. Why not hope that we can sweep the Cubs and Mets heading into our series with the Nationals? Those are two crappy teams right there. And we’ve been good all year and deserve a long winning streak. Why not now? And with six games against the Phillies, there’s plenty of time to take this division title. It’s a big hill to climb, but I still have hopes we can do it.

  6. Braves are 17-8 over their last 25 and LOST a game in the standings to Philly. That’s just unbelievable.

  7. Join me in hating the Washington Nationals, who lost in the 9th to the Phillies and now have a season record of 5-9 against them.

    UPDATE: Join me in thinking I’m dumb for not being able to read scores correctly. The Nationals tied the Phils in the bottom of the 9th and they’re going into extras.

  8. Wait, people are still scoreboard-watching the Phillies’ games? The Braves are not catching them.

  9. Wait, people are still scoreboard-watching the Phillies’ games?

    Wait, yes.

    The Braves are not catching them.

    Wait, you’re no fun.

  10. The thing is, when a team builds up a 7.5 game lead at this point in the season, it takes more than good play on the part of the trailer to nab the title. I just don’t see Philly playing sub-.500 ball the rest of the way, which is realistically what it would take for the Braves to win the East.

  11. Re the Phillies game: That was anticlimactic, but I’ll take it.

    I’m not ready to give up on catching the Phillies, especially since we have six games left against them in September.

  12. I don’t quite get the comfort that people gain from knowing we still have games left against the Phillies. Yes, it means we sort of control our own fate, but they also have a really good team over there. Seems unlikely we go better than 4-2 against them down the stretch, and a split is much more probable.

  13. We’ve got 34 games left and a really soft schedule the rest of the way, sans games against the Phillies. We’ve got a whole mess of games against the Marlins, Mets and Cubs, with only 3 games in St. Louis and 3 games in Washington giving me pause.

    The Phils just lost 2 out of 3 to the Nationals. Of their remaining games, they have 12 games against the Brewers, Cardinals and Reds – credible opponents all. Are they the better team? Sure they are. But they’ll still have their work cut out for them to rack up wins.

    I really don’t think we ought to think it a high bar to work that 6.5 game differential down over the next 2-3 weeks to the point where when we meet the Phils, we can’t do some damage to them by going 4-2 or 5-1.

    This is all predicated on Linebrink not being the reason we’re losing games, of course…

  14. Wait, people are still scoreboard-watching the Phillies’ games? The Braves are not catching them.

    This is why the Wildcard sucks.

  15. So what are the chances that the Braves players come up with their own series of signs that they can give to eachother, something like “Yes, saw what Fredi wants us to do. I am not doing it. This tug of my earlobe is tell you that I am not going to run into a sure out here, so go ahead and play baseball like a major leaguer.”

    Any precedent for something like that? It’d probably be a good idea.

  16. I feel like the Brewers and Phillies have peaked. As well as we have played in stretches, it doesn’t seem like we have peaked as a team yet. We may be doing that now, but it would be great to be playing out best ball in October.

  17. 29: It would be typical of the wild cards who’ve gone on to reach (and win) the World Series that that would be the scenario.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable that we’ll play 4-5 games better than the Phils in our remaining games against teams other than them.

    I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to think we could go 4-2 or 5-1 in the games we have left with them.

    If either of those things happen, we’ve got a chance to make it interesting. Of course, that means we’ll be having to play to win rather than play to rest players for our wild card slot…

  18. @27

    On TV, I saw Martin openly wince when he got out of the box to check the signs. I said “Man, he’s gonna bunt.” sure enough he bunted.

  19. I was at the game today. Hot sonofabitch.

    All kinds of credit to Huddie.

    Sorry, guys, but I don’t have a problem with the squeeze. Fredi accurately assessed that it was one of those games where just one extra run was going to make the difference.

    If friggin’ Marteen could just put the bat on a 90-mph belt-high fastball, we’ve got our 2-run lead which allows Venters and Kimbrel to throw a 2-2 fastball instead of worrying about Cowgill (UK-grad) or the big lummox they’ve got at 1B getting lucky on a fastball.

    Good call by Fredi, in my opinion. Horrible execution by Prado. Love him, but beginning to understand why it took him so long to become a regular.

  20. @29

    I think I agree. While it’s unlikely the Phils will collapse, they’ll probably cool off. They’ve been playing out of their minds the last several weeks. Also, the Braves are not the same team they were a month ago, and I mean that in a good way.

    Will the Braves catch the Phils? Almost positively no. But would it be fun watching my Phillie friends sweat if the Braves started inching closer to them. Oh yeah . . .

  21. What spike said. The WildCard leads to obscene things such as completely giving up on the division because, really, what does it matter? We’re up in the WC after all.

    Play to fucking win.

  22. Justhank @ 33 – Was also at the game today. It was friggin’ brutal. But I disagree on the squeeze call. It’s Michael Fucking Bourn at third. Put bat on ball and send the runner, even with the drawn in infield. They have to make a perfect throw to get him – he gets 90 feet in 3.5 seconds for god’s sake.

    He would have scored easily on the fly ball out from Prado. Just let the players play there.

  23. Well, it’s a situation where a sac fly would work just as well. And it wouldn’t take much of a fly, with one of the fastest men in baseball on third.

    And SINCE you’ve got one of the fastest men in baseball on third, you don’t even have to SUICIDE squeeze, a safety squeeze stands a good chance of scoring him.

    And, more than any other problem I have with it, after 100 something games, you’d think Fredi would know that Martin Prado is not a good bunter. He’s diminutive, he’s hispanic, he can play second base. It appears that in Fredi’s mind, that means he’s fast and that he’s a good bunter. Neither of those is true.

  24. Put bat on ball and send the runner, even with the drawn in infield.

    Along with Georgie, Bourn is absolutely one of our best “pressure on the defense” baserunners!!!

  25. I understand a lot of people who don’t like the Wild Card are baseball purists. I can see how one would believe that only division winners should be in postseason. In the past I’ve been disgusted when the Braves have one of the top 2 records in the league then get knocked out by the Wild Card team in the first round (2002-2005).

    However, there aren’t just 16 teams in the league anymore, and MLB just makes too much money off of postseason games.

  26. Sorry, but a major league hitter should be able to at least foul off a down-the-middle fastball on a bunt. It wasn’t like it was a Koufax curve ball.

    Sometimes the players have to execute. Marteen did not. I’d have been mad at one of my 16-year-olds for failing in that spot.

    Should have been the easiest run the Braves scored all year.

  27. The Braves are tied for the second-best record in the National League.

    For them to be hopelessly out of it because the Phillies are steamrolling at Ruthian levels is insane.

    We’re easily the second or third best team in the NL.

    Without the Wildcard, Liberty is telling Wren to save money. Without the Wildcard, the DiamondBacks are blushing all the way to the bank after being swept.

    Not interested in adding any more, but the Wildcard solves this specific problem.

  28. I agreed with squeezing with Prado at the time. True, he didn’t produce, but it was not a bad coaching move.

  29. 41, Well I guess that’s the heart of the matter. I don’t mind having multiple teams in the playoffs, but I hate the phony divisional play/wild card setup. Balanced schedule, top four go seems ultimately a fairer test.

  30. @41 – As spike points out, there are better, more fair ways to sort out that problem. The half-in, half-out wildcard bullshit is the worst of both worlds.

    As it is, the Braves have a better offense than they’ve had all year, have figured out the bullpen with the kids, and the Phillies are due to come down to earth a little. Play to win.

    As a player, it’s probably nice to know you’re going to get in either way, but as a fan, for the love of god, root to win. Your favorite team is chasing the Phillies. Root for them to do that. Never root for Selig’s crap-assed consolation prize.

  31. There’s no reason to call for a risky play like a suicide squeeze with a top 5 runner in all of baseball, and your 2, 3, 4 coming up. There are so many ways for that run to score, that when you weigh risk vs. reward, it’s just plain stupid.

  32. 43: I could get behind that. I think that the wild card is not the biggest problem with the current playoff setup. It’s the three-division format that means you have to have some way of avoiding a scenario where the 2005 Padres (82-80) go to the playoffs and the Astros (89-73) go home. So your proposal could work. In some ways, I’d prefer the pre-1994 format, because it generally ensured that you’d never have a truly pathetic contender like those 2005 Padres or (in all likelihood) whoever gasps their way over the NL West finish line this year. But of course MLB wants more playoffs, not less, so that’s a non-starter.

  33. Sorry, but a major league hitter should be able to at least foul off a down-the-middle fastball on a bunt. It wasn’t like it was a Koufax curve ball.

    The point isn’t that it may have been an easy pitch to bunt.

    The point is that the call for a suicide squeeze made considering what kind of pitch was coming irrelevant. That’s why it was a dumb call. Compared to all the other opportunities to score that run that were available to score that run, making a choice to force it to all boil down to that one pitch was irresponsible.

  34. The unbalanced schedule doesn’t just mean the D-backs can blush their way in to the playoffs, it means the Giants or Cardinals have a chance to laugh their way in right behind them, having cleaned up against one of the Kid Brother divisions.

    Well.. HAD a chance. Glad we took care of business here.

    And I fully expect the Bravos to make it tough on those Phillies. I’d love them to do it, and I believe that they’ve got a chance. But I’m definitely glad there’s SOME consolation prize that will get us in there. I’d hate to be the 93 Giants.

    But yeah, balance the damn schedule, and give me the 4 best teams already. The way it is is patently unfair, and not really as interesting as it could be.

  35. Two 16-team leagues, eight four-team divisions. Everybody has to win something in order to qualify. Guaranteed multiple division races going down to the final week every year. There’s enough pitching now to handle the watering-down effect of expansion.

  36. Justhank, watch the replay of the game. It wasn’t a belt-high fastball, and it wasn’t an easy pitch to bunt. It broke down and away and was out of his reach. Maybe he could have done more to at least foul it away, but it was not a gimme that he botched.

    The wildcard sucked when it beat us in the NLCS on a bullshit strike zone. It rocks now that we’re on pace for our second wild card berth in two years. Let’s go get 14 straight.

  37. For the record, Prado failed to bunt an 82mph slider at the knees, not a 90mph fastball down the middle.

    Edit: I see 51 covered this already.

    Also, Sam, who’s not playing to win? Just because the fans are happy that we’ll likely make at least the Wild Card is no indication that the team or the players are not trying for more.

  38. I’d say being 2nd hardest player to K means Prado is a pretty good bet to get that run home.

  39. Also, Sam, who’s not playing to win? Just because the fans are happy that we’ll likely make at least the Wild Card is no indication that the team or the players are not trying for more.

    I’m not lecturing the team. I’m lecturing the fans. Fans who are satisfied with second place and scurrying in through Bud Selig’s backdoor are bad fans.

  40. @56 I bet the Marlins fans that were just happy they got into the playoffs are ok with you thinking they are bad fans after they won the World Series

  41. Sam, there is a rule to limit the bad language on this site. Please tone it down some. Profanity definitely doesn’t make your point any stronger. I don’t disagree with some of the things you say, but the way you express them turns me and a lot of others off.

  42. Prado with runners on 3rd w/ less than 2 outs –

    17AB 16RBI 1K .412/.409/.647

    He’s not going to strike out and there is zero reason to force the issue. Anything not hit to the pitcher scores a run.

  43. I’m sure the Marlin fan enjoyed 1997. I’m sure Braves fans would enjoy a WS title via the Wildcard this year. I, personally, would consider it slightly ironic payback for ’97. None of this would change the fact that such a title, like the ’97 title for the Marlins, would be marred by the fact that the team was a second place team.

  44. Looking ahead to our matchup against the Cubs, they have actually been hitting well of late. They’ve got more than a handful of regulars putting up good numbers in August: Ramirez, Pena, Castro, Reed Johnson, and Soto all have OPS over .887. Even Darwin Barney is posting an OPS of .823.

  45. @56 – Seems to me, and apparently others agree, that the division system is the root problem with the current setup. The wildcard is kind of a bandaid fix for the situation, but it does actually make things better. It would be ludicrous, for instance, if Boston or NY missed the playoffs with 95+ wins while Cleveland, Detroit, or Chicago made it. A fan pulling for a division title or bust would be tacitly endorsing a malignant system. On the other hand, a fan satisfied with a wildcard bid would be showing approval for a fix for the system which is like an unstated indictment of the system itself. Seems like the first fan is more pro-establishment, and in this case, bad, than the second.

  46. Fans who are satisfied with second place and scurrying in through Bud Selig’s backdoor are bad fans.

    This is true to an extent. But the Braves may have the second best record in the NL at the end of the season. Do the Diamondbacks/Giants really deserve it more if that happens? Did the 93-win 2005 Indians deserve not to be in the playoffs while the 82-win Padres did?

    Why not just abolish divisions and the wild card and let the top four teams by record in each league into the playoffs?

  47. Taking an even closer look at the schedule going forward:

    • Between August 16th and September 28 (last day of regular season), the Phillies have only 2 off days. This also includes a double-header with the Nationals on 9/20.

    • By contrast, the Braves have 4 off days and no double-headers scheduled through 9/28.

  48. I don’t think there is any reason to doubt that Fredi is stupid anymore. He shows us time and time again that he doesn’t understand his players very well.

    @60 None of us like to be in second place, but with the Phillies winning 2/3 of their games and we own the second best record in NL, there is no reason to be ashamed by making the playoff through WC. We have won enough division titles, and we all know what much that means in playoff. I want whatever chance that can give us a shot at the world series.

  49. 65, I’m more concerned about the Giants’ and Cardinals’ schedule, which is a complete joke, even compared to ours.

    The Phillies are a better team than ours in each and every aspect of the game with the exception of O’Ventbrel, so not only are we not going to catch them, but the gap will get bigger.

  50. I think we’ll see another wild card before expansion and overhaul of the playoffs.

  51. @68 I heard that they are going to have two divisions in each leagues and creating two WCs. That will obviously make Sam very happy.

  52. DOB – “I’m playing next year,” said Chipper. “I still feel like I can go out there and play a good third base and be a threat, at least, at the plate. I’m having a good defensive year and the average is on the rise.”

  53. I heard that they are going to have two divisions in each leagues and creating two WCs.

    That’s just what they’re toying around with, not something that “they are going” with for certain.

    Hope they don’t add another Selig wild card. One of the advantages MLB has over the NBA or the NFL is that they’re regular season means much more. The NBA regular season is a joke. MLB shouldn’t dilute their regular season more with yet another wild card.

  54. I’m thinking about this bunt and I wonder how much the organization, from rookie ball to the majors, works on bunting. Fredi seems to love to call for the bunt, but the players seem to fail at the task quite often. It seems like bunting really needs to be emphasized more given the manager’s tendencies (or the manager has to reform his own tendency, in this case).

  55. Was today’s squeeze better or worse than the one he put on with two strikes on Hanson at the plate, bases loaded, 1 out, and Hinske at 3rd back in April?

  56. Maybe the Braves are no worse at bunting than any other team, it’s just that they do it so much that there’s more opportunity for failure.

  57. I kind of don’t mind a 2nd wild card. I understand that would be with no division realignment, with the wild cards playing each other for the right to play a division winner.

    I think that would potentially reward a deserving team, but also make it more valuable to win your division, avoiding the “play-in” series.

  58. @56 Ah, well in that case, carry on. Though perhaps consider more specificity of language, as “play to win” is rather unclear on this point, seeing as how players play and fans…fanaticize.

    As for the other discussions mucking about, I’m having trouble distinguishing why it’s somehow untoward for a team second in a division to go to or win a WS, but not a team second or third in the league that happened to win a particular subdivision thereof, especially if, as the current standings stand today, said winners of said subdivisions have a worse record than the aforementioned second place team. To put it another way, the WC really isn’t the issue here.

  59. 73: Probably less horrific. On that occasion, we were down 2-1 to the freakin’ Mets in a game we would eventually lose 3-2. Hanson whiffed his butt attempt on the 2-2 pitch and big ol’ Hinske was out by a mile. Double play, end of inning. Bases loaded, one out. Geez… What a nightmare. And people wonder how the term “Frediot” could be coined…

    At least in this case we had a lead of 1-0.

  60. Prado is tougher to strike out than he has ever been, but that appears to be a by-product of an unfortunate change in his hitting approach. His doubles rate, previously among the best in the league in the last couple of seasons, has plummeted along with his line drive rate. He’s settling for contact — which sucks because his HR/FB rate is higher than ever. Meaning, I believe, his famous workout dedication has paid off in terms of greater strength, but his results have been neutered by his embrace of the #2 hitter official instruction book. Whether that’s by choice or instruction, the result is a net negative for him and the offense.

  61. @76 – Exactly, if you want to be an ultra-traditionalist and say that the NL team with the best record faces off against the AL team with the best record in the WS, then that’s fine. Dinosaurish, but fine. But to arbitrarily draw that line at having to win your division but not your league is, well, very arbitrary. Every NL team but probably the Phillies will be a 2nd place or worse team this year in some context or other.

  62. 79 – yep. 2011 Prado is a poster boy for why “Just put the ball in play” is stupid as a general rule. That can be helpful advice for certain players, but clearly Prado has traded some strikeouts for much weaker contact. He has become an average to below-average hitter in the process.

    Of course, calling for the suicide squeeze there was still stupid. Prado’s unfortunate approach changes nothing about that conclusion. If anything, as Mac said, his ability to make contact renders the decision even more ridiculous.

  63. Well I’d say we’ve got just enough season left to figure out if Jurrjens and/or Hanson will have it for the playoffs.

    Who’s the playoff rotation? Hudson/Hanson/Jurrjens?

    Beachy the first guy you sub-in if one of Hanson/Jurrjens can’t get it going?

  64. With very short leashes (by which I mean, three runs at most and they’re gone), and a bullpen of O’Ventbrel/ Delgado/ Vizcaino/ Sherill/ Minor.

  65. True purists hate the LCS, not just the WC.

    True purists hate that there’s a DH in the AL, that the closing role exists, that night games exist, that other races can play the game. I mean, I’m just kidding about the last couple, but seriously, who cares about purists?

    The game has to evolve with time, you take the good with the bad (Although, I don’t necessarily think the Wild Card is a bad thing). That being said, although it’s a long shot, it’s not impossible for the Braves to catch the Phillies. It shouldn’t be a priority, but to say it’s out of the realm of possibility is foolish.

    As long as the team keeps playing the way they’ve been the last several weeks, I don’t think any team would be rooting to face them in the playoffs.

  66. http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2011/08/21/jones-encouraging-heyward-to-use-whole-field/?cxntfid=blogs_atlanta_braves_blog

    This is the kind of article that makes you wonder why the Braves even bother hiring a hitting coach. I would imagine the conversation went like this:

    Chipper: I can’t stand it anymore, Jason, listen to me, you have to do this and that…blah blah blah.

    Parrish: Yes yes yes, listen to Chipper.

    Jason: Wow, that’s amazing. I wish you could have told me earlier.

    Chipper: Well, I thought we have a hitting coach to teach you that.

    Parrish: Yes yes yes, listen to Chipper.

  67. From MLB.com:
    • Thanks to their three homers in Saturday’s win over the D-backs, the Braves now have recorded the most home runs in the National League since the All-Star break at 44. Dan Uggla — who blasted two shots on Saturday — leads the Majors with 14 homers since the break.

  68. 2007: 31 HR, 108 OPS+
    2009: 31 HR, 111 OPS+
    2011: 29 HR so far, 107 OPS+

    Cherry-picking odd numbered years, it’s like his slump never happened.

  69. No, seriously, given the post-ASB surge, it really is a lot like Uggla’s giant 1st half suckage never happened if you just look at his season line. The BA is a bit lower than expectation, but the rest is almost right in line, and the HRs are a bit ahead of where you’d think they’d be. It’s kinda crazy.

  70. It’s a long way off and these things are unpredictable, but if the projected path for Hurricane Irene is correct, it’s going to hit around Atlanta as a hurricane or tropical storm Saturday.

  71. Re hitting coach: Apparently, the hitting coach is a relatively new phenomenon. I was listening to a local baseball guy (DC) yesterday and he was saying that, until the 80s a lot of teams didn’t have official hitting coaches. So, maybe the whole thing is overrated.

    I don’t see how you can eliminate wild cards in today’s game. There are just too many teams and TV demands more playoffs. And, under the current format, it would lead to too many problems, such as noted with a 95 win team not making the playoffs while and 85 win teams does. Hell, why not go go back to 10 (or even eight) teams in each league, no playoffs and listen to afternoon World Series games on transistor radios with the crowds composed of businessmen wearing suits to the games?

    I think seeding should be done strictly based on record regardless of division champion. The Braves are better than the D-backs; why should they be penalized simply because they play in the same division as the Phillies?

  72. @91

    Or, for Sam’s peace of mind –

    Why should the Phillies be penalized for playing in the same division as the Braves?

  73. If this hurricane track solidifies (and it really looks like it is; the track hasn’t changed over the last 12 hours) I’m gonna he heading down to Florida to help my folks make preparations. Luckily the Braves will be in New York City over the weekend, so our games aren’t likely to be affected.

  74. The way it is is fine. There will always be a team that is jilted because they were 1 win away and had a great season.

  75. I like an unbalanced, division-based schedule — there’s value in creating and sustaining rivalries. The games against your rivals mean more, both emotionally (important in a long season) and in the standings.

  76. @94
    Apparently I’m a hurricane magnet. Just finished my dream home in November of last year on 30A (not that 30A is known to people on here), so this will be my first hurricane experience in Florida. I do have to admit that it doesnt seem as scary as hurricanes in New Orleans.

  77. I hate the unbalanced schedule. It’s ridiculous that some teams have to play far better teams more often than some others while still being judged for the same playoff spot.

  78. 97: It shouldn’t be as scary as New Orleans! At least you’re not under sea level. I have close friends from your area, and it is a bit of a hurricane alley. I was born and raised on the Atlantic coast near Melbourne, FL. We’ve not gotten as many hurricanes over the years as one might think, but the 2004 storms really did a number on us with the eyes of two storms passing over. It’s been pretty quiet since then. But this storm is tracking right over the area again.

  79. OMG, we signed Helms back? This has to be Fredi’s idea.

    Wes Helms got released from the Marlins for sticking up for Logan Morrison (as the Marlins’ player-rep with the MLBPA.) His release was basically another dick move from the Marlins’ management. He was a loyal Braves organizational soldier for years. Of course the franchise is going to pick him up and give him a full year of playing time in AAA.

  80. @99
    I actually live in “Blue Mountain Beach” on 30A. Kind of hilarious, but it’s the cheaper end of 30A yet it is higher above sea level than the more expensive areas.

  81. The Phillies are a better team than ours in each and every aspect of the game with the exception of O’Ventbrel, so not only are we not going to catch them, but the gap will get bigger.

    Actually, the Braves as currently built have the better offense, the better bullpen. The Phils have the starting pitching.

  82. 101: Doesn’t surprise me. If I may be allowed the indulgence of a provincialism borne of being a 5th generation Floridian, Yankees always prioritize the wrong things. :p

    When living in Florida’s coastal areas, height above sea level should be paramount. My folks are fortunate to have property roughly 15-17 feet over the Indian River lagoon. Flooding is not a concern.

    Hurricane preparation is pretty easy, but with the majority of the population of Florida inexperienced with hurricanes, the public mood can quickly turn to hysteria and indecision.

    102: How is it we have the better offense? Please make your case so I can be reassured that’s true.

  83. @96 sansho1
    I can’t back you here. I’m with Mac’s plan and it’ll never happen.
    There are only three lasting rivalries in MLB:
    Yankees/Red Sox
    Dodgers/Giants
    Cardinals/Cubs

    The first one is the strongest argument for division play in that the networks will always demand its maxiumum exposure for ratings.
    The second one would be just as interesting if said networks could figure out a way to promote it, but they can’t. Their largest base of viewers are in bed when those games are played.
    The third one, outside of their famously devoted fans, just doesn’t rate raving national attention.

    Most of the other rivalries coincide with short term success of of franchises.
    For example: Braves/Mets late 90’s, ealy 2000s
    Please! A hammer and a nail have no rivalry!

  84. I like Mac’s idea @93.

    The twelve interleague games are, by definition, unequal but it’s worth it, in my opinion.

    But I’ll bet you we’ll see another Wild Card team before we see the simple sanity Mac proposes.
    —————————

    Matt Williams is the D-Backs 3B coach. I had forgotten what a moose that guy was. Looks like he can still play.

  85. Ryan – I bet most Atlantans know 30A. It’s gotta be one of the closest beach spots to town.

    Now, I have no idea where Blue Mountain Beach is. We usually vacation in the Seaside or Sandestin areas. Be there for Thanksgiving.

  86. Although it’s probably more fair & reasonable (and somewhat NBA-like) to have the top 4 clubs of each league make the post-season, I can’t see MLB not having division races, no matter how much or how often they become mid-80s-win teams duking it out.

    If we’re going to have the WC, at the very least, we really should have a balanced schedule in each league.

    So, what do we get with the current system? Once in a while the team with the 13th-best record in all of MLB will win the World Series.

  87. In relation to the Braves/Mets of the late 90s/early 2000s:

    Please! A hammer and a nail have no rivalry!

    Most people don’t remember it, now that MLB and ESPN have created the all-encompassing myth of the Yankees-Red Sox “deathgrip” rivalry, but prior to 2004, especially during down years, the Yankees-Red Sox “rivalry” wasn’t notably different from the Braves-Mets set-to since ’94.

  88. 102, LOL. Don’t let facts get in your way. The Phillies scored more runs, have a higher OPS, struck out less and drew more BB. Since the break:

    RS: Phillies 172, Braves 166.
    OPS: Phillies .759, Braves .755
    BB/K: Phillies 112/230, Braves 107/268.

    Braves have the better offense?

    Actually, you have no clue.

  89. Sam,

    You’re giving ESPN too much credit.

    The NYY/Bos rivalry ramped up after the ’99 ALCS & got stupid-crazy after the ’03 ALCS, but there’s really little comparison to the Braves/Mets at any time in recent history.

    I went to a ton of Yanks/Red Sox games in the early ’90s and, if you’re judging from actually going to the games, it was ugly & contentious even back then.

  90. 112: To pile on, the Braves have 21 post-break sacrifice hits to the Phillies 14! Both teams are miserable with the sac flies, however, totalling 7 each in that same timeframe.

    I wonder how many of those 7 extra bunts led to those 166 runs?

    113: Not to mention the actual rivalry between NYC and Boston, even taking sports out of the equation, is a real and abiding thing. I’m happy with the Mets rivalry we’ve got, but it’s legitimately levels of magnitude below the Yankees/Red Sox.

  91. Division play also can give you a flag to fly, as we can well attest. Why play for six months if there isn’t a reward for the regular season in and of itself? What would the flag say in a straight round-robin regular season format? “Playoff Qualifier”? “Fourth Place (Which Is Good, Really!)”?

  92. @106
    Blue Mountain is on 30A. From Seaside, if you were headed to Grayton (Red Bar), go past the stop sign and about 3 miles up is Blue Mountain Beach. You’ll be able to tell because there’s a small hill (hence the “mountain” part in the name). Keep me posted on your vacation down here. I’m off the week of Thanksgiving and a few friends and I normally screw around the first part of that week biking, kayaking, off-roading, drinking, playing wiffleball, and doing all other sorts of things that men of our age probably shouldn’t do.

  93. Do you guys think that the Braves are going to give Pastornicky (if healthy) a shot to win the backup SS job come September? I

  94. @118 – He’s not on the 40 man roster, so someone would have to be waived.

    Keep in mind that Moylan, being on the 60-Day DL, would already need someone to be waived for him to come back.

    And there are no service time implications for players called up in September, unless they received a callup earlier in the year. But by adding him to the 40 man, they do begin expiring his option years.

    So. There’s that.

    EDIT: Scratch the part about Moylan needing someone to be waived. I counted Medlen as being on the 40 man, but he’s 60-Day DL, too. So with Moylan and Medlen on 60-Day, there are 39 active players. Moylan’s got a spot, but Pastornicky would require you waive Brandon Hicks, Matt Young, Wilkin Ramirez, or some pitcher.

  95. Tom, @112: Perhaps one day you will learn to read for comprehension and figure out what the line about “as currently built” means.

  96. @118 – No. Barring injury the Braves will go the distance with Alex Gonzalez as their starting SS, and Julio Lugo as the backup.

  97. Will the Marlins be holding their annual clearance sale? If so, anybody we want?

    The magic of Moneyball seems to be waning in Oakland. Any low-hanging fruit there?

  98. Pastornicky is desperately in need of some more development time. I absolutely despise the idea of giving a kid with 3 extra base hits out of 38 and a 7% BB rate at AAA the starting shortstop job next season. Pastornicky in his current form is worth less than Alex Gonzalez.

  99. Still think Pastornicky is our future super-sub. Simmons looks like a better bet for shortstop.

  100. Wes Helms got released from the Marlins…He was a loyal Braves organizational soldier for years. Of course the franchise is going to pick him up and give him a full year of playing time in AAA.

    Who’s excited about the possible Smelms September call up?

  101. I imagine when the Braves consider the cost/benefit of adding Pastornicky to the 40 man, just for a September call-up, they won’t do it.

    He would replace Lugo, who is never used. He might do more with the AB’s than Lugo does, and thus earn a few more of them than does Lugo. But the chances he would show enough in such a short time that he could significantly eat in to Gonzalez playing time are about nil.

    And you’d expire one whole option season, on a player who, even if he establishes himself, might be up and down for a year or two first. That’s not to say he’ll wash out, I just don’t think he’s the kind who gets to the big leagues, and never looks back. I believe even Prado was optioned down a time or two.

  102. @50 and 116: The problem with your system, Sansho1, is that it almost guarantees some pretty crappy teams will get in. With only four teams in every division, you’re going to get a lot of years like the 2008 NL Central with 84 win teams getting in. When you only have three teams to beat, the chance that the best of four teams has less than 85 wins is pretty good.

    By contrast, taking the best 4 of 16 (to keep the size of the league constant) makes it very very hard for an 85 win team to get in.

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