115 thoughts on “So, Matt Diaz game thread: August 31, Nats at Braves”

  1. I’ve gotta’ say that if the Braves were getting any other player on the planet with Diaz’s stats from this year, I would be mad. Because he’s my son’s favorite player and I also like him a lot, I’m really excited about his return. Let’s hope he can turn back into the Matty D of 3 to 4 years ago.

  2. Can’t say I’m too terribly excited about re-acquiring what could be a washed-up Matt Diaz.

    Reminds me a tad of the time (1996) we re-acquired another fan fave, Terry Pendleton, who didn’t hit much at all down the stretch or in the post-season.

    Diaz is 3 years younger than Pendleton was, but… let’s just hope he can get a few big hits (pinch or otherwise) that make a difference.

  3. Diaz is useful against lefties. And, yes, I like him. Can’t we be happy for our team for once?

  4. Giants eating a lot of money with the Rowand and Tejada’s release. 12 mil to Rowand next season!

    I don’t understand the Diaz trade at all.

  5. #7
    It’s not like I won’t root for Matt Diaz due to some Byzantine theory involving another player, but a 704 OPS doesn’t exactly indicate lefty-masher status anymore.

  6. I like the move — almost entirely for personal reasons, not baseball ones — but I am kind of surprised the Braves made it, what with Diaz being under contract for real money next season.

  7. Can Matty play shortstop?

    EDIT: Just kidding of course.

    EDIT II: According to MLB.com, the Braves received an undisclosed amount of cash from the Pirates. That should pay for at least some of the “real” money next year.

  8. Now if we could just get Andruw back, we could fill our 25 man roster with only pitchers and outfielders.

  9. You have to ask yourself this when you look at adding Diaz:

    8th inning of game three NLDS. The Brewers have a lefty on the mound in a tie game with the pticher’s spot coming up. Go ahead run on third with one out. Fredi has already used Conrad.

    Who would you rather have batting, Lugo or Diaz?

    It isn’t like we brought Daiz in to play everyday. Just the #2 option off the bench.

    Not a huge move. We love the guy. He improves our team. Simple as that.

  10. #14
    And if you’re down 2 there, wouldn’t you want a guy who can hit a HR?

    Still, here’s hoping he becomes this year’s Francisco Cabrera.

  11. 19: Diaz is hitting 6th. Hmph. Might as well.

    18: Sure, just because I say the Braves are the best and everyone else stinks, you can say I’m biased. If you call the truth biased.

  12. 17 – And that’s the reason why ‘ve been feeling somewhat nervous about this acquisition all day.

    19 – If he’s here to platoon with Heyward, that means he might be here to platoon with Heyward in 2012 as well. Feel the excitement!

  13. I like this with Diaz. After Constanza hits midnight, the team will still need a RF against lefties, and Heyward has been really, really bad against LHP this year. I think that’s a platoon spot the rest of the year.

  14. The Chop returns:
    (1) Matt Diaz replaces Scott Proctor to ensure that Braves have a former Seminole on the roster.
    (2) Just compared Diaz’s numbers to the other famous Atlanta Braves Seminole, Deion. Interesting comparison for two players who have played almost the same number of games, with substantial rate numbers better for The Hitting Fool.
    Diaz in 18 more games, .296/.344/.440 OPS .783
    Neon: .263/.319/.392/ OPS .711
    But Sanders has almost 500 more at-bats in 18 fewer games. And of course an extra 154 steals, with fewer homers and doubles and lots more triples.

  15. 25: Don’t share your angst. Don’t see how this hurts. We’ll know in September if he’s going to be a contributor to the playoffs or not.

  16. There’s one NL OF with more than 150 ABs and 0 HRs this year, and it’s Matt Diaz. He’s actually had 289 PAs since his last home run. He’s hitting .183 in the last six weeks. He’s been below replacement level all year, can’t run or field nearly as well as Heyward, and he’s playing RF and batting sixth for us tonight. But, because it’s the gritty, determined Matt Diaz, it’s all good I guess.

  17. Matt Diaz vs LHP, 2011: 295/342/362
    Heyward vs LHP, 2011: 188/271/313

    Yeah, this is definitely the hill you want to die on, Heyward-uber-alles mobsters. Totally nothing gained from 70 points of OBP and 50 points of SLG. Nothing at all.

  18. Remove even 1/2 of the awful BABIP luck from Heyward, add plus baserunning and defense for Heyward and subtract minuses in both categories for Diaz, and remember that even platoons have to bat against the wrong handed pitcher a significant portion of the time (esp. RHB…Diaz vs RHP .225/.265/.288), and yes, it’s a bad move. Diaz is far below league average for a corner OF versus the pitchers against whom he’s supposed to be good, and brings zero else to the table.

  19. Yes, Sansho, if we stop looking at the facts and start making up alternate facts that support our child-like, emotional devotion to Jason Heyward, well then it’s obvious, isn’t it?!

    I, personally, will remain on the “what are the facts of the world” rather than “what are the facts I’d rather have” model of analysis.

    The difference, offensively, between Matt Diaz and Jason Heyward against LHP this year is larger than the difference between Jason Heyward and Alex Gonzalez (which I believe was yesterday’s crybaby whinge-out du jour, no?) And of course, we all recall the conversation a few months back about how offense is so much more important than defense, right? Because defense is so closely modeled from player to player that the only place to find real distinction is in the offensive side… Or do you think we forgot that bit? I’m sure you haven’t forgotten it, per se. You’ve just discarded it when it was no longer useful to your religious crusade to play Jason Heyward above and beyond any other strategic purpose than to see Jason Heyward play.

  20. “Childlike” Didn’t read further. In case you forgot, I was all for playing Constanza while he was hot. Diaz is like lightning in a bottle, too, if it meant the complete opposite.

  21. Also, if Heyward is really fine against all pitchers, he’s useful as a platoon with McLouth in LF when Chipper can’t play.

  22. Fine, let me sum up: the idea that we should ignore reality (just give Heyward credit for half of those BABIP outs that “should have been hits”) in our analysis is idiotic on its face.

  23. 33 – good thing. It only went further ad hominem from there. And yes, the strawmen are in full effect again, I see.

  24. I used the stat in the spirit in which it is useful — to help set a range of expectations going forward.

  25. If we assume that Heyward’s BABIP is “low” because of random variation, perhaps. Having watched quite a few of his at bats, I see no reason to assume that Heyward’s BABIP is low due to bad luck. His BABIP is low because he isn’t hitting the ball with any authority and is rolling over weakly to 2B rather than lining the ball all over the park.

    As such, I find analysis that assumes Heyward’s BABIP will revert to “normal” without him fixing his swing (which seems unlikely this year, to be honest) to be daft. He doesn’t have a low BABIP because of bad luck. He has a low BABIP because he can’t hit right now.

  26. Via Jim Powell’s Twitter: “Since June 15, Matt Diaz is hitting .388 with a .436 OBP vs LHP”

  27. I’m glad I’m not such a miserable person that my only recourse in dealing with the bleak landscape of my life is to lash out and belittle others on the internet for no reason.

  28. I agree he’s not hitting well, especially against LHP. But I’ve seen examples of bad luck as well — my contention is that, given equivalent luck going forward, the improvement of putting Diaz in RF (a position he can hardly play at all) over Heyward against LHP is very small if any, once all facets of performance are considered. And that small advantage is wiped out, and then some, by the inevitable game situations in which the each is forced to face a wrong-handed pitcher.

  29. @40 – It’s good that you’re big enough to stick with crap-assed passive aggressive pseudo-trolling instead. Keep up the good job, man.

  30. My hope is that the Braves’ scouts see something in Diaz that they believe shows he will have a great last month – sort of like LaRoche did a few years ago. I know this is unlikely, but I can always hope.

  31. I hope he does well, too. It’s not the old grey mare’s fault for not being what she used to be.

  32. Does no one else think that Heyward has actually looked a good bit better for the last couple of weeks? I’m asking sincerely – he’s seemed to me to be hitting balls much harder and with more liners and deep flies, but I might be the most biased person to ask short of his parents. Regardless, Diaz, a long-time lefty masher, is a lot easier to swallow in a platoon with Heyward than is Constanza. Heyward’s defense is legitimately fantastic, however, so you are losing something in the field with Diaz out there (not much over a just a few games, but still something).

  33. I agree that Heyward has looked better of late. And given the cooling off of Constanza, he should have been the starter again, up until the acquisition of Diaz. If Powell’s post July 15 numbers are correct (and I have no reason to doubt them) Diaz is a clear offensive upgrade even as Heyward is getting his game back together a little. Yeah, you lose some defense, but you can switch them out for defense if you have a lead, too.

  34. Yeah, I’ve got no problem with letting Heyward build on some success and boost his numbers exclusively against righties to quiet the Francouer-comparison crowd, as long as Wren and Fredi don’t make it permanent next year and as long as Fredi subs him in for defense with a late lead in games started by lefties.

  35. 44—I actually don’t think it’s that unlikely. I think it’s far more unlikely that Diaz just became washed up over one off-season. I’m willing to believe that he can re-find his stroke in Atlanta.

  36. I hope you’re right Stu. Adam LaRoche type second half numbers (at least for a month) sure would look great!

  37. According to Bowman and DOB, Wren is still shopping for a middle infielder. The Braves tried to get Jamey Carroll but Dodgers said no. Omar please!

  38. Well with expanded rosters starting tomorrow, and the path to the World Series running right through Cole Hamels and Cliff Lees backyard, I don’t see how a one month tryout for an ex lefty-masher can hurt.

  39. My final wet-blanket comment on this issue — the arc of Diaz’s performance since the end of 2009 is that of a typical not-very-athletic player approaching his mid-30s, which is exactly what Diaz happens to be.

    Go Braves!

  40. You’d pass on Infante? Over Lugo? Why? Since mid-May, here are his numbers: .301/.346/.398

  41. I wish I knew enough about college football to write one for my alma mater, but I will say this – one underestimates a Malzahn offense at their own peril. They are going to give up some points, but seem pretty well positioned to score a few. It will be a comparative “down year” but not as down as surmised in some quarters. Auburn has a flood of young talent in-house, and an ability to hang anyone recruiting wise. Look out this year, and really look out next year.

  42. @56 – Ha, I’m sure there’s a GM on whom you could foist Diaz and Constanza for something useful, but it’s not Friedman. Maybe Sabean would give us Bumgarner – Constanza’s not technically a veteran but he’s still pretty old, and Diaz has been around forever. In the spirit of the first season of Louie which I just finished, I’m imagining Sabean leaning over Diaz’ shoulder, taking a deep sniff behind his ear, and saying “Mmmm, yeah, you smell old” with a look of intense pleasure.

  43. Yeah, this is definitely the hill you want to die on, Heyward-uber-alles mobsters.

    Yes it is. Heyward is a part of this team’s future, while Diaz is washed up and has zero home runs in 2011.

    Is the lack of a Delta sponsorship the reason the Braves aren’t giving Heyward the chances they gave to Francoeur?

  44. 59- Thanks for that mental image. I hadn’t needed brain bleach for several weeks.

    Seriously, a guy who has demonstrated the ability to hurt lefties, unlike most of our lineup, wants to be here, and carries minimal cost? Sure, let’s get him. If he doesn’t hit, we leave him off the postseason roster; if he does, we fill a sizable hole.

  45. #57
    Jadeveon Clowney’s senior highlight reel remains one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He’s so completely dominant & unblockable that the whole thing almost looks staged.


    Actually looking forward to seeing this guy compete at the next level (not counting Week 2 Between the Hedges, of course).

  46. I want Heyward to get back to regular time, and think his approach has improved as of late, but Diaz is 12-30 career against Lannan, and “.388 (19-for49) w/ four doubles and a triple vs. LHPs since June 15” according to Bowman. Starting him here is more than justifiable.

  47. I agree with Pete, I think Heyward has been looking better lately.

    And I agree with Sam, that while everyone’s BABIP is comprised to some extent of luck, I think a larger part of Heyward’s is comprised of not hitting the ball well for an extended time, vs. that of other players. I’m hoping that is about to change.

    And I agree with Sansho, I always thought of Diaz as the kind of guy who at his peak would be good enough to play in the majors, but would decline fast. Late to the majors, early out.

    I like Diaz; I hope he does well.

  48. With Diaz on the active roster and Sherill to the DL, the roster is set at 11 pitchers and 14 position players.

  49. Looks like Glavine has become more frequent as the sub analyst over Gant and Jordan. This is a good thing.

  50. @82 Matt is such a team player, he got in the way of that ground ball just to save AAG from taking on GIDP. No wonder everyone in the clubhouse loves this guy!

  51. Lowe has been a pretty good hitting pitcher this year.

    Lowe now has more home runs this season than Diaz.

  52. I know an episode is still on the horizon, as it always is with Lowe, but I’m heartened by the recent reappearance of the nice strikeout rate. Despite a mediocre ERA, Lowe has actually been showing better control and more swing-and-miss stuff this month–stuff more in line with his nice April and last year’s great September. Hopefully that Derek Lowe is starting to show back up.

  53. The generous strike zone tonight is helping, but after a couple mistakes early on Lowe has looked undeniably excellent.

  54. Chipper is pretty hot, folks. In 28 games since July 2nd (which include four fruitless pinch-hit appearances), his % numbers are .348/.384/.609 with 6 homers in 92 at bats.

    (This doesn’t include tonight’s numbers.) The only thing I don’t like are his walk totals, only 5 bases on balls that weren’t intentional. His walk rate seems historically low this year.

  55. This has been a pretty well managed game. Fredi yanked Lowe at the first sign of trouble and subbed Heyward for Diaz with a lead. Can’t ask for much more. *waits for Fredi to bring in Linebrink in the 8th*

  56. 108: My weisenheimerishness aside, I agree. Good move to start Diaz, good move to bring Heyward in to pinch run, good move to let Lowe pitch the 7th, good move to yank him right away.

    103: I wuz bein’ silly. (See my previous post. Of course if you have to explain a joke, it ain’t funny… :p )

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