Phillies 4, Braves 3 (13 innings)

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – September 28, 2011 – ESPN.

And so it ends. Somehow, you knew Scott Linebrink would be involved. He would have to be.

The season in microcosm: The Braves got an early lead, held it to the very end, but lost it. The two teams traded runs in the first, Ryan Howard hitting a two-out double in the top of the inning, Michael Bourn getting a run with his legs (single, steal, groundout, fly ball from Chipper Jones) in the bottom of the inning.

In the third, Bourn reached again on a single and stole second; he couldn’t get to third on an infield hit by Martin Prado. He then tried to steal third; he appeared on the replay to be safe but was called out. Dan Uggla hit a two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch (a lot of his homers seem to comeafter he goes down 0-2 or 1-2) to make it 3-1. It would be the last runs the 2011 Braves would score.

Tim Hudson did his job making it hold up. He got through the sixth with little trouble. Fredi sent him out there to start the seventh instead of going to Eric O’Flaherty, and I don’t have much of a problem with that, but with one out he allowed a double to Raul Ibanez and an infield hit by Placido Polanco. Hudson got a perfect double play ball to get out of the inning, but Jack Wilson botched it, allowing a run to score. O’Flaherty then came in and got Shane “Burn In Hell” Victorino to hit into an actual double play.

Hibernation Mode continued. Jonny Venters loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman but finished the inning with a strikeout and oddly looked the best he has in weeks. Craig Kimbrel allowed an opposite-field leadoff single in the ninth, then got a strikeout. And then his control deserted him. Walk, walk, sac fly to score, of all people, Peterson Thomas Gord Orr with the tying run. He walked the next man, and Kris Medlen had to come in to get out of the jam.

The Braves had a chance to win it in the tenth, when Bourn singled, but Chipper’s drive to the gap was caught on the run. Jason Heyward singled leading off the twelfth, but was stranded. In the thirteenth, Fredi brought in Linebrink, because he just wanted to get it over with. Hunter Pence singled with two out to give the Phillies the lead. Uggla walked with one out in the twelfth, but Freddie Freeman grounded into a double play to end it.

Let’s fire a few people, okay?

437 thoughts on “Phillies 4, Braves 3 (13 innings)”

  1. These be times that try men’s souls – my fearless prediction: no casualties on the coaching/FO staff as a result of this.

  2. Top of the 11th, Varvaro is in. This is when my confusion begins. Fredi realizes that if the pitcher allows a run, there is no tomorrow to save Beachy for, right? Varvaro has good K/BB numbers on the TV screen, better than I guessed having watched him pitch this year, so I’m only a little confused.

    Top of the 12th, Martinez is in. I actually feel a little better about this. He’s a pretty good pitcher, and he’s used to situations like this. Fredi survived the strange Varvaro decision, and I’m feeling better about his sanity.

    Top of the 13th, Linebrink is in. Now I’m pissed. If Linebrink gives up a run, there’s no tomorrow for Beachy. There’s no tomorrow for Minor. I get more furious when Minor is throwing in the pen instead of on the mound. After the winning run predictably scores, my wife says, “I’m sorry your manager’s an idiot” and strokes my arm.

  3. @3 – That is a heartbreaking tale JoeyT. Sounds like you have a good wife. I was at the game alone, so the only comfort available was my foam tomahawk and a string of profanity that led the mother sitting in front of me to cover her 10 year old’s ears. I still can’t understand why Linebrink was in the game. Better than Proctor, I guess, but just by a bit.

  4. I get more furious when Minor is throwing in the pen instead of on the mound.

    Ditto. Absolutely inexcusable.

    That said … I find that I’m totally at peace this morning, probably because we found out yesterday afternoon that we’re having a little girl, and the Braves just aren’t going to be able to keep me down from that high.

  5. PS: Remember when Robert checked in before the season to let us know that he had too many other things going on to worry about following this putrid franchise, this season? Boy, did that ever turn out to be wise.

  6. Fredi bashers have a new friend:

    Shine is off Braves’ Gonzalez
    Jeff Schultz: This team fell apart when it needed to come together, and the blame for that rests with the new manager.

    I enjoyed communing and commiserating with you all this season. When do pitchers and catchers report?

  7. Yeah, I remember thinking poorly of Robert at the time, but in retrospect, that was a manager of the year-caliber decision.

    And congrats Stu!

  8. Stu – awesome congrats man!

    BTW, this isnt a pitching problem. Braves didnt score but 6 runs in the series and 0 in their last 11 innings.

  9. So, if you had to take a wild guess, how long will it take you lot to wash your pants out and return to semi-reasonable discussion? Can I get a couple of novels in before then?

  10. Congrats, Stu. Daughters rule. Really. My oldest daughter is now 43. She still tells me what to do, and I do it. I’m afraid not to.

  11. Congratulations, Stu. Here’s to what really matters.

    Work helped me get through the day. It also helped reading the comments from the players (not Fredi!) after the game.

    Mac, Thank you for another great season at Braves Journal. Playoffs or not, I love this place (again (after Emma left)).

  12. Braves fans:

    I understand how you feel today and wanted to offer my empathy. as a life long Mets fan I planned on coming in here to gloat. But I realized just how crappy it feels to lose out on the playoffs on the last game of the season. It just sucks. (it happened twice in 07-08 for us Mets fans)

    So braves im sorry for what happened. and hopefully we can have a rivalry again between out 2 teams. It just doesn’t feel right with the Philly’s winning all the time…..I must say though, it does feel good knowing other teams besides the Mets can choke too. Having it be the braves is just the icing on the cake…You know what I mean, How much of a smile was on your face when the mets fell apart in consecutive years.

  13. Somebody mentioned Sheehan near the end of the other thread. Here’s what he had to say:

    “As with the Red Sox, the seeds of the Braves’ last loss were sown a long time ago. The Braves scored seven runs in losing their final five games, and in their last game, Fredi Gonzalez’s errors in player usage — benching Jason Heyward, using Martin Prado in the second spot, failing to use a double-switch to get at least a second inning from the highly effective Cristhian Martinez — all contributed to the loss. Gonzalez struggled all season long to get his best players on the field, while riding the three relievers he trusted into the ground.”

    I don’t see much here to disagree with, except perhaps that I don’t have a problem with the relievers’ “overuse.” As others have pointed out, reliever usage was down this year across baseball, and by historical standards the Braves’ top 3 guys were not overused. My problem was always with the tactics–the inability to use a double switch effectively (I count one from the season; were there others?), the poor usage of Heyward, the reliance on Linebrink when better options were available, the insistence of having Freeman hold guys on when it didn’t matter, etc. I don’t think Fredi Gonzalez single-handedly cost the Braves’ the game last night–again, it was a team effort–but his limitations were on full display.

    Oh, what I wouldn’t give for Joe Maddon.

  14. Letting Diaz hit and then bringing Heyward in as a defensive replacement the next inning was very questionable. Huddy was due up 2nd in the bottom half of the inning. Wouldve made more sense to let Diaz finish out the top half of the inning and let Heyward hit in the bottom half as a double switch for Huddy, or simply letting Heyward hit in Diaz spot the previous inning.

  15. I’ve never really agreed with anything Jeff Schultz has written, however I’m glad to see someone actually say what they think. Good for you, Mr. Schultz!

  16. I don’t want to fire anyone. I just want more money (or new owners) so we can go out and buy some hitters.

  17. Oh, my head hurts…

    Big congrats, Stu! Now part of your job is to keep her away from K-Town, right?

    Many thanks, Mac, for a much-needed outlet that keeps us all tethered to Braves world. Also, thanks to you posters for keeping things interesting—especially to those who live in the real world.

    And if you need a laugh—I’m afraid I still do—check out the “Hipster Hitler” clip from the link at #2. Woo-funny.

  18. Congratulations Stu.

    And thanks again, Mac, for the forum.

    Lastly, if we interview Jim Presley for the hitting coach job this offseason (yes, I know he has a job), I promise I won’t complain this time.

  19. I don’t want to fire anyone. I just want more money (or new owners) so we can go out and buy some hitters.

    This. The Phillies ended the season with a 162 million dollar payroll. The Braves with a 101. As long as the Phillies have and extra 60+ million to spend on players, the Phillies will have the upper hand.

  20. I DO have a problem with Fredi’s bullpen usage. It was completely infelxible throughout the season. Instead of conserving appearances, he would often just throw out EOF for 1/3 of an inning or whatever, then pull him for Venters (who’d often pitched the previous 1 or 2 or sometimes 3 days) for the 8th. And, as far as I could tell, the reasoning for this never got beyond, “Well, it’s the 8th inning. That’s when Venters pitches.” Which is stupid. Instead of having guys go 1 1/3 or 2 innings at a stretch, he just kept piling on the appearances. He did it to a lesser extent with Kimbrel. And we don’t even need to get into Fredi adamantly refusing to use the fact that Venters is death to lefties for a platoon advantage late.

    So yes, I can and will criticize him for that. As for the Heyward thing, I’m convinced he’s hurt or something. Because there’s just no way you platoon him, bench him, etc. if he’s healthy and just struggling. I mean, just look at the rest of the lineup and what happened when they struggled. Uggla? Moved down in the order, started every day. Chipper? Started basically every day. Freeman? (remember April?) Got a day off now and then to get Hinske in there. Prado? Well, nothing really ever happened with Prado. He kept hitting 2nd or leadoff basically the whole year, despite being thoroughly mediocre.

    The 2011 Braves failed to make the playoffs because their offense didn’t perform. Given Freeman’s performance and Chipper’s solid year, I’d have pegged this for a top 5 offense in the NL. With the addition of Bourne, there was literally one hole (at SS), which is acceptable given AAG’s defense. But Heyward stunk, Prado stunk, McCann carried the team for two months then stunk, possibly because he didn’t get a day off over that two month stretch. YOU HAVE THE BEST BACKUP C IN BASEBALL, FREDI. HOW ABOUT USING HIM SO YOUR STUD CAN STILL SWING A BAT COME SEPTEMBER?

    I’ll be really surprised if Fredi gets Fired, but something needs to happen. Given the general underperformance of the offense (Freeman was the only bright spot, and even he tailed off towards the end), I think Parrish has got to go. My great hope is that Fredi says, “If he goes, I go”, and we get to hire someone intelligent.

  21. “he appeared on the replay to be safe but was called out”

    I played the slo-mo replay frame-by-frame on a 50″ plasma. Even then it was very, very hard to tell. But I’d have to call him out.

    If I’m Frank Wren, then I do what the UGA AD did with Richt. Don’t fire him but force him to replace a key assistant. In this case, Larry Parrish. From what I’ve read, the key to the Braves failures at the plate is due to a lack of working the count compared to last year and the reason they didn’t work the count is that Parrish told them they needed to be more aggressive.

    So fire Parrish and either put Pendleton back or bring in someone new who has a clue as to what’s important.

  22. My take on a few things:

    1. I defer to Orel’s assessment that the control issues of Venters/Kimbrel are the first sign of tired, even though velocity was still there.

    2. That said, Kimbrel was pitching scared. His post-game comments reflect this. Trust your stuff!

    3. Fredi looked helpless the whole game. Seriously, dude’s face told the whole story. Like he had never witnessed a baseball game before.

    4. Jack Wilson. How does an all-glove guy boot that ball? That play killed it. Hudson’s reaction (before he showed extreme professionalism by giving support to Wilson) said it all.

    5. I’ve harped on this before so sorry for any broken record. The way the Phillies patiently took balls out of the zone and worked deep counts and walks vs. the way Braves hitters hacked, swung and whiffed from at-bat to at-bat displayed more clearly than ever that Atlanta needs a fundamental change in offesive approach.

    6. Why hold the runner on first at the end of the game? Why? AJC “journalists” need to ask Fredi this every day of the offseason.

    7. My wish for next season isn’t any firings, hirings or trades (though some would be nice). It’s a friggin’ healthy team.

    8. I think I’m going to have to go through the stages of greiving 3 or 4 times to begin to cope with this meltdown and 162 loss. Hell, I’m not even over the Conrad game from LAST year. This is getting absurd. Absurd enough that I might as well laugh at it. It’s all we can do.

  23. “This. The Phillies ended the season with a 162 million dollar payroll. The Braves with a 101. As long as the Phillies have and extra 60+ million to spend on players, the Phillies will have the upper hand.” – Sam

    Tampa Bay – $42 million
    Boston – $162 million

  24. MikeM, your #5 is what we’ve been complaining about all season. The hacktastic approach kills this offense. Everytime they get into a hitters count they swing away and arent willing to take what the pitchers are giving them.

    Perfect example the other night vs Detwiler. He walks Minor on 4 pitches while we were trying to give him an out. He threw 3 straight balls to Bourn, so 7 straight. Bourn swings at a bad 3-1 pitch. Prado comes up hacking on the first two pitches and Chipper swings at the first pitch. Detwiler got 3 outs on 5 pitches after throwing 7 straight balls to load the bases.

  25. Almost every single regular saw fewer pitches, walked less, and hit the ball more weakly than he did in 2010. I have always been told that hitting coaches don’t make much of a difference, but Parrish–or perhaps the Fredi/Parrish regime–seems to have made a negative impact. The Braves can potentially improve in LF and SS, but I’d also like to see some of our guys go back to being more patient hitters who swing at pitches primarily in the zone. I loathe the rigid “put the ball into play at all costs” philosophy that the team seems to have employed this season.

  26. Over the last few years I was beginning to believe that the hitting coach has very little influence on most hitters – especially veterans. Seeing the Braves decline in plate discipline and their overall approach at the plate has caused me to change my mind completely. Parrish is at the very tip top of my list of coaches who should be fired!

  27. I don’t have anything to add past what’s already been said, just that Fredi’s bullpen management, which has been average over the course of the season, could have been a hell of a lot better. You could definitely chalk up another 2-3 in the wins column. Of course, you could do that for almost any manager in MLB, but it just sucks a lot more when you know that 2-3 wins would have us playing on Saturday against the Brew Crew.

    Oh, and I read Mark Bradley and Jeff Schultz’s columns on AJC. That’s gotta be the best pieces they have written in years. They didn’t outright call for Fredi’s canning, but definitely put some “WTF?” statements in there that won’t be misconstrued. As if it didn’t suck enough that I had my friends who are Giants fans reminding me all week of Brooks Conrad….

  28. From Buster Olney: “The Braves need power production out of right field. Now there is some sentiment within the organization that Atlanta might be better off dealing Heyward and taking advantage of his value or, at the very least, considering alternatives as they wait for him to develop.”


  29. Someone mentioned in the previous thread that the Braves couldn’t afford to risk handing starting outfield spots to both Prado and Heyward next season, which I wholeheartedly agree with. The seemingly logical course would be to move Prado back into a super-utility/Chipper insurance role and get a legit leftfielder and expect Heyward to rebound. I have this haunting justified feeling (Edited after seeing post # 38) that the Braves are going to take this out on Heyward. I can’t help but look at the way two struggling players were handled so differently and think that the Braves may continue to give Prado the benefit of the doubt (run him out there everyday, bat him 2nd nearly every game) and do something foolish with Heyward (and full disclosure: Prado is my favorite current player). I think both players are better than their 2011 seasons, but Heyward has a historically great season, for his age, under his belt. Prado doesn’t. The one thing that may benefit Heyward here is Prado may price himself off of the team going into his second year of arb. I know that both players were terrible for the vast majority of 2011; I’m not turning a blind eye to Heyward’s struggles. It’s no where as simple one player or the other, but who would honestly choose Prado over Heyward going forward?

  30. Yeah, Im thinking Fredi isnt a Heyward fan. Last night on his decision to start Diaz over Heyward.

    “The lineup I put out there is guys you feel like are going to grind out some at-bats,” Gonzalez said.

  31. @35 and 36

    Prado’s numbers this year reflects your points more than anything. Prado struck out less than 5% of the time in the 2-hole, compared to about an 11% career rate. His BB rate and HR rate were about the same but his singles and doubles numbers tanked.

    I believe he was told by Parrish, Fredi, and even Chipper that his job was to be a table-setter and completely absorbed the role’s definition. He rarely hit the ball hard in the 2-hole and was atrocious at everything with runners on, except making contact.

    Prado ended the year with 13 HRs. He had 2 with runners on in 223 plate appearances. When runners got on, Martin turned into the hard working robot…I mean player, that he is and put the ball in play, sacrificing himself.

    He was put into a LF role and worked hard to become a good LF. He was told to put the ball in play, and he did it.

    Martin Prado’s inability to produce is not on Martin Prado. The coaches made this monster.

  32. I’m honestly okay with Heyward starting 2012 in AAA. But if there is even one shred of a hint of the thought of trading Heyward this offseason from any of the higher-ups, I will become a Nationals fan.

    After I stick around long enough to see how Sam spins it, of course.

    Oh, and unless the trade is for Mike Stanton from Florida. Preferably along with Fredi, and they send back Ozzie as well.

  33. Martin Prado’s inability to produce is not on Martin Prado.

    I see we’re still in the irrational phase of things.

  34. Why not upgrade left field with power production and getting a real hitting coach to work with Heyward?

    I know Prado is Chipper’s handcuff, but what is the use of a toy handcuff?

  35. That is Stu-tastic! Congratulations!

    Last night I turned down free tickets to take my 22-year-old soon-to-be-a-teacher daughter to see the re-release of the Lion King reprising a scene we did many times when she was six when it was first released.

    A simply delightful time.

    So, is it basketball season yet?

  36. Why don’t we just call it like it is and say Prado is a glorified utility player and doesn’t have the bat to carry left field.

  37. Since no one else has really mentioned it, am I the only one who was deeply disturbed by McCann’s transformation into a whiny little toddler throwing a month-long temper tantrum that lost all ability as a team leader and wound up succeeding in doing nothing but burying himself under six feet of shit as the month progressed? If he’s supposed to succeed Chipper as team “captain”, this month was a deeply troubling one on a variety of levels, and calls a great number of things we all took for granted into question. This is not to say that I’ve given up on him or anything, but this month went beyond just having a slump at the plate. In terms of his demeanor, we cannot have another month like this from McCann ever again.

  38. Also, if the Braves are dumb enough to trade Heyward, then they’ll deserve their mediocre fate for the next decade. Until that happens, though, I’ll reserve further judgment.

  39. Prado’s 2011 is in line with his 2006 and 2007, and his entire minor league career. It’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that he had a three year run, peaked as a 26 year old, and should be replaced.

    Of course, the easier, sloppier thing to do would be to find some random even that coincided with his fall off and blame that, in order to preserve your need to have a definitive cause for things happening. Thus, Larry Parrish, antichrist.

  40. @51, How do you explain the team-wide decline in hitting? Randomness?

    Larry Parrish, based on things we know he’s said, is the explanation many are putting forward. What’s yours?

  41. Because his bat could have carried it last year and in 2009 as well?

    He was a part time player in 2009. He split time with KJ at 2B, filed in for Chipper and also played 1B. In short, he was a super utility. Last year was his first year as a regular. So he’s had one good year and one bad year, and his minor league track record doesn’t reflect an every day corner outfielder.

  42. Larry Parrish either directly hurt the offense’s plate discipline or was unable to stop the slide. Malignant, or ineffective. Either way, why continue paying him?

    Feel much the same about Fredi. I guess we could always screw up and hire someone worse, but I don’t think there’s any risk that we’d be firing a legend.

  43. Whether it’s Parrish’s fault or not, management has to throw someone under the bus and it may as well be him. Our approach at the plate reached Francouerian levels of helplessness.

  44. @50, Even after such a trade were to occur, I’d try to reserve judgment, at least for a little while, acknowledging that there could be something we just don’t know about. Admittedly, it’d be really tough to stick with this organization.

    Something about the way the Braves handled Heyward during this past DL stint smells fishy to me. I don’t think Chipper would’ve said something to the press without the organization being in on it. He’s too much of a company guy and knows not to talk out of turn.

  45. “One does not build systems on fluke happenings.” – Sam

    2008 – Rays beat Boston in 7 to advance to the World Series
    2010 – AL best record (96-66) won division for 2nd time in 3years
    2011 – Beat Boston for the Wild Card

    Nothing fluke about them.

  46. @59, Or you could just go with, “Hey, I think some guy wrote a baseball book about that…I think they even made it into a movie or something.”

    EDIT: Or an even more succinct response: “Chicago Cubs.”

  47. After a few minutes of thinking about Heyward and the unnamed organizational members, I thought of Andy Marte. Still pretty skeptical.

  48. DOB just a few minutes ago on Twitter.

    “#Braves will bring back their entire coaching staff, manager Fredi Gonzalez said.”

  49. @51, How do you explain the team-wide decline in hitting? Randomness?

    Yep, weird shit happens sometimes. Which isn’t to say Parrish isn’t going to be the fall guy, nor that he necessarily did a good job as hitting coach (whatever that job description means.) But neither of those facts means the offensive offense was anything other than bad luck and randomness.

    A 21 year old “can’t miss prospect” crashed and burned in his sophomore season.

    A 27 year old career journeyman crashed back to earth.

    The superstar catcher got injured and never returned to form.

    The new super slugging 2B was shit for half a year.

    The old super slugging 3B was 39 and injured.

    The starting pitching got hurt.

    Random shit. Put whatever narrative on it that makes you feel better. Hell, maybe talk about the how “feminized” the clubhouse must have been or something. Whatever fairy tales help you sleep at night. Just don’t try to convince me that they’re true.

  50. Nothing fluke about them.

    In a few years they’ll be Cleveland again. You can’t build a sustained winner by scraping the bottoms of barrels. The Rays are living off of three good-to-great pitchers and Evan Longoria’s bad business acumen.

  51. I can’t envision any scenario where Larry Parrish would return. It boggles the mind. The guy had never been a hitting coach until this season. The team’s OBP was the lowest in 22 years and 30 points lower than last year’s (and the average of the previous 9 years under Pendelton) despite having a more talented line-up. Parrish needs to go. If Fredi won’t fire him, then Fredi should go too.

  52. Mets are Cleveland now. They got a huge payroll also.

    Yes, boys. The Mets and Cubs (and Dodgers) have large payrolls and are bad. Your ability to state the obvious is duly noted. Congratulations.

    No one said a large payroll *ensured* winning. It’s merely necessary for sustained winning.

  53. I find it odd Sam that you only dominate this board when things are going or have went poorly. I guess your need to be an internet dick wouldnt be fulfilled if you came during the happy times.

    Or Sam, it’s only needed when it supports your point, which is the exact thing you criticize others for doing.

  54. What’s the worst thing about you and your glorified teenage “me first” rants is that you rarely ever take the stats at hand and try to digest the point the poster is trying to make. You just decide, in the millisecond it takes your abnormally large brain to read (or scan) the quote, to write a snarky rebuttal. What’s great about your rebuttals is often you end up contradicting yourself because you don’t remember what your abnormally large brain told your fingers to type in the first place.

  55. I don’t “dominate this board.” I comment all the time. I comment more often when people say things that should be countered than when people say things that I agree with. (It’s old internet custom to not clog up discussion boards with repetitions of ‘I agree with this post.’)

    Everyone settled on a favored narrative – Frediot, Larry Parrish The Antichrist, etc. – early. From that point, every possible random event that happens gets shoehorned into that narrative. Not because it’s evidence or supports the theory in any defensible way, but because the narrative is more important than sloppy, chaotic reality.

    Because I point out the times where the narrative overpowers reasonable analysis, I get branded as a zealot, “defending Fredi” above all else. That is, obviously, not true at all. It’s just that in a pitchfork mob, the guy in the back asking “do we really need to burn down the entire village” gets thrown in with the witch more often than not.

  56. Hey, a little rancor is warranted this morning. Hence, Sam.

    Seriously, Sam, you’ve made some good points about why you think some of our observations are specious but here’s the question:

    What would you do? (Not sure WWSD bracelets will be a boomlet, but ya never know …)

  57. In a few years they’ll be Cleveland again.

    LOL. No they won’t.

    In any event, this is all a digression. Let’s get back to why the Rays were brought up in the first place. Your original point was: “As long as the Phillies have and extra 60+ million to spend on players, the Phillies will have the upper hand.”

    True enough, but the Rays are a good case-in-point of how a mid-market team can improve its position relative to a big market team. Is the Rays’ model forever sustainable? Well, nothing is sustainable forever, so my money is on No. But why it will be unsustainable is also unknown; it’s entirely possible that their model will eventually fail because everyone else starts to ape their model, thereby eliminating their competitive advantage. That’s actually a far more likely explanation for their now-sustained success–4 years of very-good-to-great baseball is sustenance in that division–than “they’re a fluke.” They’re not a fluke. It can be done.

    Moreover, what does one build systems on? If there’s no meritocratic explanation for a low-budget or mid-market team’s success among the big boys, and all small-market success is the product of “flukes” or luck, then by that logic there is no real hope for the Braves to compete with the Phillies–except to hope that the Phillies’ payroll comes down and the Braves’ luck turns around. Because the Braves are not going to spend as much as the Phillies for a long, long time. It ain’t gonna happen.

    My feeling is that the Braves can still win a world series spending $70 million less than their rivals. Their margin of error is a lot smaller, but it can be done.

  58. “WWSD” bracelets would be awesome. You should make that happen.

    I’d look for a replacement for Prado. I think the likelihood that he’s done is greater than the likelihood that Heyward goes Andy Marte on us. But I also take note of Heyward’s fragility and his inability to adjust to the league’s book on him (which was written in last year’s LDS vs SF.) A full year of not being able to make an adjustment is not a good sign for future development.

    Aside from those very vague ideas, I don’t know, because a lot of what happens or *should* happen depends on 1) the ownership situation and 2) Tommy Hanson’s shoulder.

  59. The Rays are this decades Cleveland Indians. They signed Longoria to the long term deal, got lucky with his health, and got a Hudson/Mulder/Zito trio of starters to back up the decent core they built over years of sucking ass. Good on them.

    In a couple of years, that will falter, David Price will pitch for the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers of Phillies, and the Rays will become the Blue Jays (at best.) Money never sleeps, and no one is going to outsmart that fact.

    The Braves *could* sneak a win in, if they catch the breaks (i.e. luck) on all of their moves, and Philly gets old faster than they expect, and things wash out for them in the crapshoot at the end.

    Or they could go through years and years of 2010 and 2011 – catch enough breaks to get close, maybe even the WC, and then have it crash at the end.

    The only way to work any of that uncertainty (any, not all) out of the system is to pay to play like the contenders in the NEC.

  60. I don’t see Heyward being traded at all. Fredi doesn’t yet have the influence on the organization that Bobby did and Heyward won’t get sent away because Fredi isn’t happy with him (if that is indeed the case).

  61. I’m gone if Heyward goes. I’d be much, much more pissed off than I was last night. Tampa could use another fan.

    @Sam/64 – The mode of decline (decreased patience) was similar in so many cases though. That could certainly still be randomness, but when everyone on the team goes to hacking then it’s at least understandable to assume a common, purposeful cause (Parrish and/or Fredi).

  62. I suspect the “Heyward could be traded” noise is about the same as the “Andruw could be traded” noise we heard the off-season after Bobby pulled him from CF mid-inning for loafing on a fly ball. It’s more likely that Heyward starts 2012 in AAA, which is bad enough, but not unwarranted.

    @80 – yeah, there’s some degree of sameness to the decline in patience, but I’m not sure it’s attributable to coaching. The Braves’ 2011 roster wasn’t built around patient hitters. The OBP was supposed to come from Chipper, Heyward and Nate McLouth(!). We all know how that ended. Uggla’s always been a mediocre OBP with excellent SLG. Prado’s been a BA driven hitter. McCann isn’t great for OBP. Freeman was a wildcard going in.

    So yeah, there’s the image of some “universal problem”, but I’m not sure that image isn’t a ghost, and I’m doubly not sure that ghost/image is attributable to coaching.

  63. Sam,
    Seriously. How many Braves games did you watch this year? Ballpark answer. Half? I dont mean the highlights, either. My guess would be less than 40.

  64. On TV? 40-50. In person, another 10 or so. Why?

    (Actually, TV could be 60-75 or more. I usually have the game on when I’m at home, and I spent a lot of time working out of Atlanta this year. I didn’t think to count my attendance, though. Again, why?)

  65. @Sam/81 – Well yeah, there’s no proof that coaching is to blame, but there’s some circumstantial evidence, like Fredi’s handling of the Schafer/McLouth situation and his implicit confession that he had no idea how his players compared with each other in getting on base (“Their [numbers are] all about the same…But you feel like Schafer is doing so much more.”). Or the fact that he didn’t want Chipper hitting second because he wasn’t a good bunter. A lot of his actions indicated that he prioritized really trivial crap over getting on base, and the team’s on base percentage was dramatically lower than before he showed up. That doesn’t mean that he and Parrish necessarily stressed swinging away to the players, but there’s at least some smoke.

  66. But the 2010 team was so good at getting on base. If you say that the 2011 team wasn’t built around patience, what’s the big difference between 2010 and 2011? Glaus, Infante, Diaz, Melky gone? Yes Uggla had a really bad first half, and yes we had AAG for an entire season. But are those changes really enough to go from 1st in OBP to 14th in the NL?

  67. A lot of his actions indicated that he prioritized really trivial crap over getting on base, and the team’s on base percentage was dramatically lower than before he showed up. That doesn’t mean that he and Parrish necessarily stressed swinging away to the players, but there’s at least some smoke.

    The Braves have *never* valued OBP that way. Atlanta is not run by Billy Beane, and never has been. If you’re complaining about the team’s lack of sabermetric fidelity, you’re complaining about the *franchise,* not Fredi.

  68. 2 Questions:
    have we seen the last of Lowe?
    what are our chances of trading some of the seeming overabundance of starting pitching for a corner field bat?

  69. @85

    Martin Prado crashed (50 points of OBP lost from 2010.) Jason Heyward crashed (75 points of OBP lost.) Brian McCann (25 point drop.) So on and so forth. The Parrish-did-it theory assumes that a coaching change will utterly demolish multiple veteran players like that. I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

  70. @86 – Player/2010 BB%/2011 BB%

    Every regular starter on the team saw a drop in BB% from last year to this. Uggla obviously wasn’t with the team last year, and AAG was only around for half of it.

  71. @88

    1. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s really up in the air right now. There’s not a lot teams who’ll be interested in trading for the last year of that contract.

    2. The phrase “overabundance of starting pitching” was a 2011 talking point. I’m not sure it applies to 2012. The Braves have Hudson, Minor and Beachy as sure bets to return to the rotation. Jurrjens is probable, with Vizcaino, Delgado and Teheran in the wings. Hanson is a complete question mark at this point in time.

  72. @88 – If it took them fewer than 24 hours to decide that the coaching staff wasn’t changing, then I’m guessing it will take a couple of days max to tell us that Lowe will get a chance to start in 2012. Nothing will change except maybe they’ll send their 23 year old, leauge-average-hitting, fantastic defensive right fielder to AAA to start the season so Diaz and Constanza can platoon.

  73. But Heyward isn’t a veteran player and I don’t know if Prado can be considered a veteran player. Those guys can very much be influenced by a coach’s suggestions.

  74. A few years ago, I received a pink slip two weeks after a glowing performance evaluation because the company decided to cede my work to an entry-level employee and two interns (who, combined, were cheaper). By the Braves’ immediate decision regarding the entire coaching staff, it’s obvious there were no evaluations.

    I’d love to have been in a workplace like that. No accountability, no consequences.

  75. I think it is a franchise thing, but I’m not going to say it’s all about OBP. It’s about swinging at good pitches and having plate discipline in order to drive those pitches that the pitcher is forced to throw in the zone.

    The reason it is so important to make this a team philosophy is that you need at least your top 6-7 hitters to have this approach, so that there are no “black holes” in the heart of the order to screw the whole thing up. That was a big problem in 2010 – lots of walks, but then guys who would swing at everthing and strand those runners. You can deal with an Alex Gonzalez-type or even two in your line-up, but not a whole team of guys with no discipline.

  76. Exactly, Mike. I care less about the drop in BB% than I do about the weaker contact guys like Prado, Uggla, and Heyward made in 2011. Those drops in BABIP were partly a result of swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone.*

    This may have been a freak thing, but it may have been a slight change in philosophy introduced by the new staff. Whatever the case, I do think it’s likely that Prado adjusted his approach when men were on base, and I do believe that it hurt him considerably.

    *Uggla’s approach did shift, of course. In July. When he went on the streak. Swinging at balls will kill anyone’s numbers.

  77. It’s possible that Fredi does a better job next year. There were a lot of things that went wrong this year that were out of his control. Heyward got hurt and never got better. A lot of the starting stuff got hurt/sucked down the stretch. And this organization is known for its constancy and “even-keel-ness” as much as anything, so I’m not surprised no one got fired. But I am disappointed. This was an historic collapse. Just awful, awful baseball being played. And I don’t know what part of the team you can realistically take apart in a productive way. Freeman, McCann, Uggla, Chipper, and Bourne are basically locks to be back next year. Heyward SHOULD be in any sane universe. I give absolutely no credence to that quote from Oleny above. Anyhow, that basically means your fiddling around with SS and LF, and unless you want to go sign someone in place of Prado, I don’t see how you upgrade either of those spots substantially. There isn’t exactly a bumper crop of SS that can hit as well as pick it out there. That leaves the bench (fine, get some new blood in there for, I guess, Conrad and Hinske? Pastornicky’s probably the backup SS regardless of who is starting, and Diaz is under contract for another year, as is Ross.) and the pitching staff. Which was great this year with Derek Lowe, the highest paid of the bunch, being the loan exception.

    So is the only real substantive change to this team over the off-season going to be a rookie starting instead of Derek Lowe and Medlen replacing Linebrink in the bullpen? Seriously?

    I’m not one for tearing down the roster, but can we at least change the window dressing a bit? ‘Cause right now, it looks like we’re going to sign a backup 1B, a backup IF, and MAYBE change one guy in the starting rotation.

    Which, when I think about it, shouldn’t be too bad if people just play like we’d expect them to…. But I still think someone should get canned after such a piss-poor performance, and I for one wouldn’t mind it being the manager or hitting coach.

  78. And as long as everyone’s talking about drop in performance, it’s worth noting that offense, in general, was down compared to last year. So that, rather than Parish, might help to explain some of the decline.

  79. I dont really like the “if Heyward goes, Im gone also comments.” I doubt they are true. I was a Braves fan before Heyward and Ill continue to be one with or without him moving forward.

    This team is built on pitching and we have plenty of it. Ive got hope for next year, but I would like to see a shift in philosophy in regards to OBP. The Braves have to a better job moving forward in developing hitters.

  80. mravery, Hinske will more than likely be back so we got the backup 1B covered.

    I just hope we can fill the bullpen with the keys guys that we’ve already got and get away from the overpriced useless vets that we always bring in. Throw Lowe in the bullpen, once no one trades for him, and let him handle coaching the young crowd.

    Lisp, Vavaro, Medlen, Lowe, EOF, Venters, Kimbrel maybe throw in a lefty for one of these guys and leave the bullpen alone.

  81. @83
    Because, the Braves’ fanatic that I am, I watched, read, and dissected Martin Prado’s downfall of a year. I heard multiple times from announcers referring to the job of the #2 hitter: get ’em on, get ’em over.

    I also heard and read numerous times from announcers and columnists about Prado being a “good fit” for the 2 spot because his personal success is last on his mind. Simply putting the ball in play to get the runner to 3rd is his job and he wants to do “what’s best for the team”.

    I also heard Chipper refer to Prado as a table setter earlier in the year and also stated that Prado is “unselfish” and will do his job.

    I also heard Chipper state that he (being himself) was not a table-setter.

    I also watched, time and time again, Prado put a weak swing on a ball, no matter the count, just to make contact, of which he did 95.5% of the time batting 2nd (compared to 89% career average).

    I also saw his XBH power completely diminish in the 2nd spot when runners were on and it was very real and present batting leadoff when no one was on.

    There are stats that back up the data in every way but do what you want with it. I know you will.

  82. as a related off season project to try and get a little more knowledgeable about the game, I’m going to try and start educating myself on advanced baseball stats. Any good suggestions on where to start looking? or what you guys look for? both pitching and hitting.

  83. @101

    And how much credence would you give a player’s self-evaluation, such as Chipper’s obvious belief that he is not a “table setter?”

  84. @103 That’s a fairly obtuse answer that doesn’t address the man’s question – does the empirical data look like a man trying (unfortunately with little success) to fit himself into a role, and is it more than just a passing similarity?

  85. I’d have to look it up, but our offense seemed to click better when Chipper was at the 2-spot and Prado moved to #6 of #7.

    Thought Chipper did a great job at #2 and couldn’t understand why he didn’t stay there – especially with Marteen so obviously struggling.

    But, guys, the real answer is this – whoever that guy that was wearing McCann’s uniform sucked out loud. Like a Big Orange. Just putrid. Killed us, really.

  86. @106 – There was a question? Seriously, I didn’t see a question there.

    Anywho, did Martin Prado struggle this year? Yes.

    Did Martin Prado try to “fit the role” and fail? Yes.

    Is this indicative of something wrong with putting Martin Prado at or near the top of the lineup as a “table setter?” No. (He was the leadoff hitter in 2010, so it’s not like setting the table is a new role for him.)

    I’m not averse to the argument that the 2011 Braves liked the “move ’em over” role of the 2-hitter overly much. In fact, I think that’s probably true. It’s an issue. But it’s not anywhere near the primary issue. The primary issue were hitters who didn’t hit, and starting pitchers who didn’t go more than five innings.

  87. I’m kind of riding the fence on the argument here. I thought Fredi’s bullpen management was decent since starters weren’t going deep. I think he did a pretty good job of resting guys after the AS break.

    As far as the offense goes, I think he deserves a lot of the blame. I contend that either Fredi or Parrish set the strategy for how the Braves would attack a pitcher and more often than not it was be aggressive and jump on the first good pitch you see. I heard the be aggressive mantra from Fredi’s mouth several times in radio pre-game interviews. Although I’m not a full convert to sabermetrics, I think the new approach championed by the mgr hurt the hitters a lot more than it helped them. The stats seemed to bear that out.

  88. Sam. It’s funny but you don’t even know the argument you started with me. Scroll up and follow along kid…

  89. “#Braves will bring back their entire coaching staff, manager Fredi Gonzalez said.”

    The buck stops nowhere.

  90. I agree with Sam here–the problem is the organzation. To the extent that Parrish has any responsibility, it reflects on the organization which, after all, hired him. They certainly must have discussed his hitting philosophy before they hired him. I can just assume that Fredi or Wren or both agreed with it.

    I think that 2010 may have been the fluke. No one really expected the OBP that we saw last year. It may have simply been circumstance; I don’t see any indication that these guys are patient hitters. And, it’s hard for me to accept that veteran major league hitters simply change their hitting styles according to whomever is the hitting coach.

    I think Prado became overrated because he had played much better than expected. He certainly wouldn’t be the first guy to have a couple of good years and then regress to a lesser player. Even if he does bounce back, he really doesn’t have the bat for left field; I think he is much better suited to either second (which is obviously not happening) or a super utility player. Counting on Prado to be one of the key offensive components was, I think, one of the problems with the team. I think he is a decent to solid player and anything else is a bonus. I don’t buy that his fall off was because Chipper or Parrish or someone told him to start bunting more.

    Comparing the Braves and Tampa Bay is sort of misleading. $101 million is a lot different that $42 million. Having said that, I think the payroll difference between the Braves and Phillies is significant. During the 1990s, the Braves were a big market/high payroll team. Do you think there is any way the team as currently operated could have kept Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz together for as long as they did? The Phillies are in the position the Braves were and are able to maintain their superstar rotation. And, don’t kid yourself, their rotation is primarily the reason the Phillies are so good. The rest of the lineup is nothing special. Part of it is that, not only are these guys good, but they have been around long enough to know how to pitch. Under the current payroll structure, it’s going to be hard for the Braves to develop that kind of rotation no matter how good Delgado, Teheran, etc. are because they will never be able to afford to keep them around.

  91. @118
    Geez. I’m not going to harp on “hey, read my post”, but if you’re going to argue against the point, then at least get the facts straight. Bunting wasn’t even in the realm of my point. It was about hitting to contact and sacrificing power for putting the ball in play. I didn’t use bunting in any of my analysis.

  92. Prepare yourself…from Peanut’s twitter:

    Fredi Gonzalez said he will wonder whether he should have continued to play Constanza, or kept Chipper in the two hole or pitched to Pence

    “These next three or four days, there’s going to be a lot of ifs, could have, should have on my end,” Fredi Gonzalez said.

  93. The fact that Fredi mangled “ifs, ands, or buts” and “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve”…it really tells you all you need to know.

  94. The fact that you think mangling a couple of cliches is telling of anything, about anyone, anywhere, tells me all I need to know.

  95. @122, Let me be clear. I don’t think it’s right to draw conclusions based on one instance of mixing up words.

    But in this case, if someone happened to do that, unfortunately for Braves fans, it would’ve been a lucky guess. The guy’s an idiot.

  96. Trade Prado while he still has value?

    Sadly, Lowe pitched so terribly that no team would trade for him for the full $15,000,000 price. It’s iffy any team would even take Lowe for nothing and with the Braves paying 50% of his 2012 salary.

  97. @126 – He’s a hella expensive backup MI. $3.1 mil this year. At least $4 mil next, if not 5. But if you cut him, there aren’t any notably better LF options available.

  98. I don’t buy that his fall off was because Chipper or Parrish or someone told him to start bunting more.

    Good, because nobody here does either. Why is it so hard to read what other people write? It’s all written down.

    The point is that Prado’s approach was slightly different this season. Perhaps he’s simply declining, as Sam has suggested, but we also have the data to identify precisely what was different about his approach that led to the worse results. He swung more this season than he had over the course of his career.* In fact, if you look at his plate discipline data on fangraphs, you’ll see that he swung at a higher percentage of balls than he ever had before, and on top of that, connected with a higher percentage of balls than he ever had before. That helps explain in part the significant drop in LD%, and along with it, his awful BABIP, batting average, and on-base percentage (all of which are dependent on his getting hits).

    The simple fact is this: Prado has seen progressively fewer strikes over time. He’ll see even fewer in the future if he doesn’t change his approach, and so the contact will continue to decline. He’s just not good enough, ala elite free swingers like Ichiro, to hit bad balls with authority. He needs to take more pitches–not for walks, but to get more strikes to hit.

    *Ok, technically he swung more in 2007, when he had 62 big-league plate appearances.

  99. Not sure how this will format, but here goes:

    Age Yrs 2011 2012
    Brian McCann 27 7 $6.5M $8.50
    Freddie Freeman 21 2 $414k
    Dan Uggla 31 6 $9M $13
    Chipper Jones 39 18 $13M $13

    Matt Diaz 33 9 $2M $2
    Nate McLouth 29 7 $6.5M $1.25
    Michael Bourn 28 6 $4.4M
    Jason Heyward 21 2 $496.5k

    David Ross 34 10 $1.62M $1.62
    Martin Prado 27 6 $3.1M
    Eric Hinske 33 10 $1.35M $1.50
    Eric O’Flaherty 26 6 $895k

    Derek Lowe 38 15 $15M $15
    Tim Hudson 35 13 $9M $9
    Jair Jurrjens 25 5 $3.25M
    Tommy Hanson 24 3 $456.5k
    Brandon Beachy 24 2 $416.5k

    Kris Medlen 25 3 $429.5k
    Cristhian Martinez 29 3 $419k
    Jonny Venters 26 2 $429.5k
    Craig Kimbrel 23 2 $419k
    TOTAL $102M $64.87

  100. Well, that sucked.

    The point is that the Braves have +/- $65 mil committed to McCann/Uggla/Chipper/Diaz/McLouth(buyout)/Ross/Hinske(team option)/Lowe/Hudson.

    You get cheap fixes at 1B (Freeman) and in the pen (more or less all around.)

    There are no great FA options for LF next year.

  101. If, instead of Prado and Heyward, the Braves had Francoeur (.805 OPS, 20 home runs, 47 doubles, 120 OPS+) and Melky (.809 OPS, .305 batting average, 18 home runs, 122 OPS+) in left and right field; would that have been worth two more wins over the course of a full season, and thus the playoffs?

  102. The team actually looks pretty solid next year. My concern is that liberty will want the payroll to be more like 85 or 90 million as opposed to over 100 like it is right now. So we have to cut approximately Derek Lowe’s whole salary. And no one will take it. So where do we cut?

  103. I’d love Jimmy Rollins, but I’d be worried what would happen to him under Parrish’s tutelage and Fredi’s feminized clubhouse atmosphere.

  104. Jose Reyes only wants five years and is willing to leave New York!

    When was the last time the Braves bid on a big-name free agent and won? Lowe? They’ll bring back Gonzalez or Furcal.

  105. With so many young pitchers presumably taking bigger roles on the staff next year, a Jack Wilson would qualify for a spot on the 25-man roster under the Rafael Belliard rule.

    Quick question: What’s McCann’s contract status? Years signed and $$$?

  106. Jack Wilson is a FA next year, just like Alex Gonzalez.

    The team will also have to account for Tommy Hanson, should his shoulder require surgery (I’d say 50/50 he’s ready for opening day, and some of my cohorts think I’m being optimistic.) So maybe pencil Delgado into that fifth starter role.

  107. McCann makes $8.5m next year (vesting option, already kicked in from what I can tell.) The team has a $12m option for him for 2013. In 2014 he’s a free agent.

  108. Trade Prado. Get a LF hitter if possible. If not, get someone young and useful down the road. As a 2nd baseman, Prado isn’t too far from being one of the elite potential players at the position. Decent glove,some pop, and a good teammate. As a left-fielder, not so much. I’ve got to believe that any GM who needs a middle infielder who can boost the offense would not be bidding on Marteen. Trading Prado should be the top priority. (Of the reasonable things that could actually happen. Not counting trading for Kemp, or trading Lowe, etc)

  109. When I wrote that about Prado and bunting, I wasn’t meaning to imply that anyone had specifically said that. The point was I don’t think Prado’s problem was being told to change his approach. The point about bunting simply an embellishment, which was obviously incorrect. No one knows if anyone told Prado to do things differently. I think it’s better to simply assume he had a bad year. It’s amazing to me that people keep putting things on Chipper JOnes based on a few ambiguous comments.

  110. #145 was a test-post. First time I’ve felt inclined to join rather than follow the discussion.

    What to do? TRADE Prado. This is the most reasonable plan that could actually get us an upgrade in LF, without giving up one of the young guns. As a left-fielder, Marteen is exactly what we don’t need. Poor OBP, and not enough pop. To a rival GM, looking to upgrade his middle infield offensively, Prado would be extremely attractive. Decent glove, and a well above-average bat for a 2nd baseman. If we can’t get a hitting LF in return, get a shortstop or a prospect or two. TRADE Prado.

  111. Here’s my quick and dirty take on next year:

    • Fire Larry Parrish. I’m a big believer in accountability. If a job doesn’t have a need to be accountable for productivity and results, then that job does not need to exist. But as long as the Braves insist on employing a hitting coach, then there needs to be accountability. According to Fredi’s standards, Larry is a success because he shows up to the ballpark on time, he’s prepared, and he’s nice. But by all other measures, Larry Parrish was a failure and he needs to go. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and I remember being fond of his baseball cards in the early ’80s, but he’s gotta go.

    • If I’m Frank Wren and Co., I start building an exit strategy for Fredi. If we get out of the gates 20-35 next year, they’d better be ready to fire him and have a plan in place for what happens next.

    • McCann, Freddie, Uggla and Chipper are set in the infield. Bourn is in center field. Prado will be the new super sub, playing 4 or 5 times a week, days off against the toughest righties. He’ll play for Chipper once or twice a week, give Uggla a night off every couple weeks, maybe give Freddie a night off against super tough lefties, and spot start in the OF. He’ll be a great pinch hitter off the bench on the nights he doesn’t start.

    • Getting Heyward back on track is job #1 for the coaching staff. Send him to Winter ball in the offseason, get him in for some early training in January, hire a damned psychologist, whatever it takes. There’s absolutely no reason an athlete as talented as him should be allowed to reach Francouerian depths of no-talent ass clownery. Again, if coaches have any degree of accountability, their jobs will be on the line regarding Heyward’s role in the success of the Braves franchise into the future. This kid could be the next Dale Murphy, posting big numbers and being featured in marketing campaigns, a perennial All-Star. Or he could be a footnote. Which is it, Braves coaching staff?

    • LF: Matt Kemp. The Bourn trade was a great trade, and Bourn did nothing other than deliver the exact same stat line he was putting up for Houston when we traded for him. And he did it in CF, which was a need for us. However, Kemp was the trade we probably should have made. It’s the kind of presence in a lineup he provides that we were missing in the stretch drive.

    • SS: Hell if I know. Bring back Wilson or A-Gon to groom Pastornicky and give our young pitching staff some cover up the middle. But if either of these two guys bat anywhere other than 8th or 9th in the lineup like they did this year, then it means something is going terribly, terribly wrong.

    • SP: Hudson, Beachy, Delgado, Minor, Jurrjens. There, that was easy.

    • RP: C-Mart, O’Ventbrel, Arodys, Varvarro, Medlen. Hey, that was easy, too.

    Teheran starts in AAA.

    • Trade block: Jurrjens. He’s probably the most valuable commodity we have that we’d actually be willing to trade at a position we’re generally strong at. Maybe he could be what brings us a decent option at short or outfield.

    • Lowe. If any team would be willing to take him for any sort of cost savings to us, we should do it. If not, he pitches in the bullpen. I think he could be effective there, I really do. If pitches well in this role, he could be gone in a trade by the All-Star break.

    • Controversial long term move: Trade McCann. It’s just a thing, but I don’t like the idea of catchers being considered a cornerstone of an offense and paid accordingly. At $8.5 million next year, he’s already getting too expensive for my tastes. At $12, that’s the upper limits of what I’d be willing to pay for. Catchers are not everyday players. At best, they should be sitting twice a week. To me, it’s irrational to have a cleanup hitter that’s not in there every day. We’re lucky to have David Ross, but we’d never dream of batting him cleanup. And catchers typically break down early and wear down as the season goes on. I think McCann is great, but I’d rather see the money we’d be giving to him go elsewhere, to impact players that will be in the lineup every day.

    • Crazy talk: If Fredi gets fired next year, install Chipper as player-manager.

    • Fire Chip Caray. I know this an idea we can all get behind.

    A lot of this is off the top of my head and I’m sure there are logical holes in it, but there you go.

  112. Dale Murphy:
    1978 (Age 22): -0.7 WAR
    1979 (23): 0.3 WAR

    1995 (Age 23): 2.5 WAR
    1996 (24): 6.0 WAR

    2010 (Age 20): 5.2 WAR
    2011 (21): 2.0 WAR

    The last one is the guy who Fredi thinks might be to blame for the collapse, who Buster Olney’s sources think should be traded away while he’s still got some value, who Terry Pendleton and Chipper decided to criticize through the media this year, and who 90% of AJC commenters think is Jeff Francouer II. The guy whose first two seasons were miles beyond Murphy’s and almost comparable to Chipper’s, despite the fact that he was 2 or 3 years younger than them relative to experience. What in the hell? Does that make sense to anyone? How do you pick him, of all people, to scapegoat?

  113. Oh, one more (the corner outfielder who wasn’t benched for Constanza or Diaz this year):

    2008 (Age 24): 1.2 WAR
    2009 (25): 2.3 WAR
    2010 (26): 3.0 WAR
    2011 (27): 0.8 WAR

  114. PeteOrr,

    I’m with you. If Heyward is gone, and Fredi G, Parrish, Lowe, and company stay, my belief in this team will have been completely shaken. This is akin to having a Hummer and a Prius and getting rid of the Toyota because the family pays too much in gas. Of all the scapegoats this team seems to have chosen to pick… wow.

    Because yes, the failures of 89-win team to make the playoffs apparently lie solely on the shoulders of a 21-year old playing exactly league average in RF.

    It is not the clearly idiotic manager or hitting coach’s fault; nor is it the fault of your 15-million dollar ‘ace’ or your two All-Star 2B. I’ll leave it at that.

  115. I’m not sure if this has been brought up, but:

    Yup, the Red Sox are considering (the source goes as far as saying definitely) letting go of Francona after this collapse. The same Francona, may I remind you, that won 2 World Series titles in his 8 years in Boston while playing .574 ball and being, by all accounts, a top-five manager in baseball.

    Is this an overreaction? Maybe. But hell, if they’re willing to get rid of Francona, it baffles me that Gonzalez hasn’t even been considered to be fired yet.

  116. Because the manager doesnt make that much of a difference in the win loss column.

    I dont see where the Braves are blaming Heyward for the season collapse. Thats a strange interpretation of an unsubstantiated musing from a reporter. You guys are huge into irrational conspiracy theory.

    Im confused by why a lot of folks dont understand Prado’s OBP nose dive this season. Guys whose offense value is driven by BA are gonna have seasons like this.

  117. Of course it’s unsubstantiated rumormongering, Johnny. But it *confirms their existing bias against the organization.* Thus, they run with it.

  118. You’re allowed to do whatever you like. And I’m allowed to point out when you’re being irrational sots. Welcome to the world.

    You ignore evidence that doesn’t support your preexisting bias and cherry pick “data” that does, and then spin that cherry picked data as hard as possible to get the “therefore” you already assumed from the beginning.

  119. With regard to JHey. the FO has to decide which is the real level of performance – last year’s or this year’s.

    So, if you’re going to guess wrong, which way would you rather be wrong – keep him and have him be Frenchy II, or trade him and watch him morph into Dave Winfield II?

    For me, I’d rather run the risk of him being Frenchy, than see him tear up MLB for someone else.

  120. Go check deadspin.

    Apparently Kimbrel’s solution to blowing the game was to go get hammered.

    That’s comforting. Glad to see he’s taking a mature approach to things.

    Oh, and the MLB “Uniformed Personnel” ID is hilarious. That looks like a cheap library card, Bud.

  121. 156: You have higher standards for this board than I do.

    I watched nearly every Braves game on TBS from 1983-1986, discovered girls and took some time off, then watched nearly every game from 1991-2005, and have listened to nearly every game on radio from 2009 through today. I consider myself relatively informed about baseball, and I know what I like to see in my baseball teams, the kind of efforts and abilities I like to see in my favorite players, and can’t really get my head wrapped around all the high-falutin’ statistical analysis past OPS and WHIP, but I’m not too perturbed about that. In short, I like this board because it’s full of people as informed as me, less informed than me, and more informed than me, who also watch and/or listen to the Braves, and want to engage in unrestricted appreciation/venting/diagnostic analysis of their favorite team. That analysis is done piecemeal from quotes in newspaper, statistics, and being a spectator of the games themselves.

    Unless you want everyone at Braves Journal to slavishly predicate every statement of opinion with “I think”, then I THINK you are trying to project upon us a sense of omnipotence that none of us claim to have. It’s one thing to critique someone’s command of information or the quality of their opinions – if you’ll notice, that happens here all the time – but you hound people for simply having an opinion and expressing it if it doesn’t fall into line with *your* narrative, which apparently is to speak up when you disagree with what people are talking about, and stay silent when Fredi does something stupid.

  122. @158 – ‘That’s comforting. Glad to see he’s taking a mature approach to things.’ MikeM the kid is what? 22/23? Just blew the biggest game of the season and felt like he let his team down. I’d probably get hammered too.

  123. My narrative, for those paying attention, is actually “we don’t really know.” For example, why did Martin Prado crash like an AirTran jet in the Everglades? We don’t know.

    Why did Jason Heyward turn in a year that more closely resembles Dodi and Fayed’s last run on the motorway than it does the sleekly tuned F1 racer we’d all expected to see? We don’t know.

    Me, if I were guessing, I’d say Prado is a high-BA driven performer, and that the crash in league offense, injuries and failure to adjust to his “new role” combined to smother him in 2011’s cradle. If I were guessing, I’d say Jason Heyward never healed from his rash of injuries (and that the reason we saw so much Matt Diaz down the stretch is due to that, more than some failure of the manager to identify useful players.)

    But that would be conjecture, and I *admit that uncertainty up front.* You guys don’t. You insist that it’s all the batting coach’s fault, or the manager’s fault (god forbid we lay any blame for his lost season on Jason Heyward, right?) Someone has to be fired because the season was bad. Because there has to be this narrative of meaning, and you’ve chosen what narrative that would be more or less from the day Fredi Gonzalez was hired.

    Me? I’m comfortable with uncertainty, and I don’t think a different manager makes much difference at all in 2011. If Parrish were to be fired for the sake of hanging the goat’s head on someone I wouldn’t care much one way or the other, but the idea that he *must* be fired assumes far more than anyone has any ability to actually know.

    I’ll trust the organization – not any given person, mind you, but the organization – that I’ve trusted since it hired Bobby Cox as GM in 1986. You are, of course, free to become a Rays fan if you like.

  124. John R @145: I love BMAC. I also think your idea is worthy of serious consideration.

    For his sake and for the team, a trade to Boston for Lowrie (sp?) and Salty might benefit both McCann and the Braves, BMAC could DH on his off days, and the Braves would get a lesser catcher and Lowrie. Heck, throw in Lowe and as much of his salary as the Bosox will pay.

  125. Drinking to cope with anger, frustration or depresion is most definitely not healthy behavior and can lead to alcohol dependence.

    Not going to give him a pass just because he’s a couple years younger than me.

    The article didn’t make it clear if he drove himself or not, so I won’t get into drunk driving.

  126. The way the Red Sox reacted to their collapse and the way the Braves did tells volumes about the two organizations. Theo Epstein held a press conference to say how terrible the collapse was and how the organization would examine itself so it wouldn’t happen again. The Braves announced immediately after the game that the entire coaching staff would be back.

    Now, I’m not one for making precipitate moves and I don’t know if they need to make any changes in the coaching staff. Everyone wants to get rid of Fredi and Parrish but I don’t know how much to blame them. But, regardless, what kind of message does it send to the fans that you make this accouncement immediately after completing the second largest collapse in baseball history? Instead of saying, in effect, this is unacceptable and we are going to work harder to make sure it doesn’t happen again, they are saying basically that this was just “one of those things” and everything is hunky-dory. This organization is unbelievably tone-deaf.

    We all know that this organization prides itself on not panicking, on maintaining an even keel, etc. That’s fine, but at least don’t pretend this isn’t a big deal. Attendence was down this year (and it was probably helped by having, in effect, three playoff games at the end of the year). I certainly don’t see it getting better after this collapse.

  127. My narrative, for those paying attention, is actually “we don’t really know.”

    I know. And that’s a really lame narrative to force upon others in a casual, freeform, internet message board devoted to “talkin’ baseball.”

    For the record, to everyone here, I don’t expect you to “know” shit. Your opinion, gut reactions, venting, “I woulda done it this way”s, and labeling everyone this side of Dale Murphy and Hank Aaron a bum is AOK with me. That’s what keeps things light and fun. At least for me.

    EDIT: Oh, and no insulting Rick Mahler, either. That will make me angry.

  128. I know. And that’s a really lame narrative to force upon others in a casual, freeform, internet message board devoted to “talkin’ baseball.”

    Because free-form, ignorance based ranting is preferable to admission of our limited information and rational discussion of next steps? Um, okay.

  129. Because free-form, ignorance based ranting is preferable to admission of our limited information and rational discussion of next steps? Um, okay.

    I think most people here would agree that we’re working from limited information. Everyone charitably assumes that about everyone else and takes it as a given except the most smug intellectual pedants among us.

  130. @154 – ‘Confirms their existing bias against the organization’ is totally inaccurate, and your choice to say it just confirms your existing bias against any segment of the Bravesjournal commentariat that voices disagreement with anything done by the team. You’re not the protector of truth, fairly weighing arguments and evidence presented, you’re just the establishment police.

    There’s been a pattern of anti-Heyward behavior (both explicit and implicit) from the club (and unofficial but very closely related spokesmen for the club) for a good portion of the season that’s been well (excessively) documented and hashed out around here, and two more data points that fit the pattern came along yesterday in the form of an Olney rumor and a statement from Fredi in a Bowman article. Nothing revealed yesterday confirms my bias against the organization, but the info does reinforce a sinking suspicion I’ve been getting for quite a while that Heyward’s getting an inexplicably short leash from a team that doesn’t seem to understand what they could get, and have already gotten, from him. Pardon my having a problem with that.

  131. There’s been a pattern of anti-Heyward behavior (both explicit and implicit) from the club for a good portion of the season that’s been well (excessively) documented and hashed out around here, and two more data points that fit the pattern came along yesterday in the form of an Olney rumor and a statement from Fredi in a Bowman article. Nothing revealed yesterday confirms my bias against the organization, but the info does reinforce a sinking suspicion I’ve been getting for quite a while that Heyward’s getting an inexplicably short leash from a team that doesn’t seem to understand what they could (and already have) get from him. Pardon my having a problem with that.

    Tinfoil hats are easy to make at home, buddy.

  132. What sort of “counter argument” does one make to “a pattern of anti-Heyward behavior?” The organization promoted Jason Heyward and started him as the ML RF as a 20 and 21 year old. To claim there’s a bias against him is absolute lunacy.

  133. Fredi benched Heyward for Constanza for a month while Prado, a lesser player in every aspect of the game other than batting average, played daily. Noticing this and other actual things that happened is lunacy? Should I have somehow not noticed this?

  134. What I find interesting is the constant criticism of one of the most successful baseball franchises in the last 20 years. And the hell of it is that in the last 6 or 7 is when the front office has done its best work given the payroll limitations it has to work with. We Braves fans are lucky as hell that we are at least in the discussions for contention every year. Man I would hate like hell to be an Indians or Reds fan. Contention for anything comes as often as Haley’s Comet for those poor bastards.

  135. I don’t think it’s crazy for folks to be worried that Heyward fell out of favor with Fredi for somewhat unfair reasons. Yes, he had a mediocre year, but as Pete says he was benched while certain others were not. He was held out of the lineup on the last day because he didn’t “fight” enough in his at bats. He has been criticized by both Pendleton and Chipper in the media. And now there are rumors coming from more than one writer that there are some in the organization who want to trade him now.

    It might well all be noise; the Braves are probably smarter than this. But it’s fair, not crazy, to be concerned that Heyward is going to be scapegoated. It also remains fair to be baffled by the manager’s unwillingness to bench Prado, who was worse than Heyward this season.

  136. @158, no problem at all for me. Getting drunk after failing in the biggest game of your life is something I can relate to. Prost.

  137. @165 – The contrast in the reaction to the collapse also speaks volumes about the expectations of the team’s respective fan bases. In Boston baseball is the third religion. In Atlanta, not so much. Different franchises, different fan expectations. The Braves FO is probably every bit as disappointed as we are. But lets get real. This is baseball. Its not like Greece defaulting on its debt.

  138. 174: Sam is fine with you noticing it as long as you slavishly footnote every utterance with acknowledgement that you’re an idiot for having noticed it.

  139. Doesn’t it make sense to look at Jed Lowrie?

    (1) He plays SS, fell out of favor in Boston, and they have other options coming up.

    (2) Boston need rotation help, bad.

    (3) Lowrie kills lefties.

    This seems like a natural fit. Otherwise, Dayton Moore has intimated that he’d be willing to trade some of his young, position player talent for rotation help as well. I imagine the package would be huge, but it’d be worth it to kick the tires on Gordon or Moustakas–if only because Moore loves to trade with Atlanta.

  140. If Kimbrel left his wallet at her place, there’s a decent chance he was driving drunk. No $ no cab. If that’s the case, not good.

  141. What I find interesting is the constant criticism of one of the most successful baseball franchises in the last 20 years.

    We’ve won only 1 playoff game in the last 6 years. We’ve not made it as far as the NLCS in the last 10. Despite a World Series win 16 years ago, the Braves identity as choking mediocrities is very real outside of Braves Country. I’m fine with that because I can always argue back with the kinds of comments you make in post #175, but the further and further we get away from those glory years, the harder it is to make those arguments.

    Now add on the fact that we just suffered one of the most historic collapses in baseball history. I still love the Braves, but I will be free to criticize them.

  142. @174 177 – Hell I thought Heyward was benched because he wasn’t playing very well. Before you bury me in advanced statistics showing that Prado sucked worse you have to remember that the Braves are a scouting first team. They make decisions based more on observation of play than stats. Not saying they don’t use stats but observation of play is the overriding decision maker.

    Yup, just conjecture. Just as much as your conspiracy theory is.

  143. Remarkable: O’Flaherty finished the season with an 0.98 ERA which is the lowest season ERA by a reliever with at least 75 games since 1900.

  144. Before you bury me in advanced statistics showing that Prado sucked worse

    You mean disproving your point? Okay, so long as we both agree that you reject empiricism, I guess we’re done here. Have fun with your incorrect belief that “scouting” and “statistics” are mutually exclusive.

  145. @184 – Yes, it’s absolutely all just conjecture and speculation. No argument there. Is there something else we’re supposed to be engaged in around here though? A series of things happened. I and others speculated about a possible cause that would explain those things. Additional things happened that would be equally well explained with no modifications to the speculated cause. If that amounts to conspiracy theory nutjob bullshit, then fine, but I guess I don’t see the outlandish/unlikely element in it that’s typical of conspiracy theories.

  146. Craig Kimbrel screwed up at his job. He then got drunk and (probably) had sex.

    The absolute horror. I’ve never done that in my life, ever.

  147. @181
    Lowrie would be great. Offer Boston a “re-vamp your pitching staff” deal:
    Jurrjens and Lowe + 8 million for Jed Lowrie.

  148. Yes to bringing up Jed Lowrie everyday this offseason.

    No to bringing up Matt Kemp or any other MVP candidate who’ll likely be extended by his current team everyday this offseason.

    I do think Hanson will make the Braves really, really hesitant to deal pitching, though…

  149. Maybe I am just an ill informed impulsive jerk as well, but the “non action” by the Front Office is horrendous.

    AT WHATEVER LEVEL NECESSARY TO EFFECT THESE CHANGES (change McGuirk, Wren, Fredi, Parrish, who damn ever or knock some sense into their damn heads)

    1. The emphasis on NOT swinging at shitty pitches needs to come back AND BE IRREVOCABLY ESTABLISHED ALL THE WAY UP FROM THE DSL. I understand the view that maybe last year was the exception. However, when veterans on the low side of the age curve essentially universally increase their swings at pitches outside the strike zone and drop their walk rates that is not player failure. That is coaching. Either (a) in actually over encouraging aggression (which is CONSISTENT WITH THE VERBAL UTTERANCES OF FREDI AND PARRISH) or (b) in not taking the actual review of this issue in course (based on statistics and graphs that we idiots WHO AREN’T PAID TO DO THIS CAN FIND IN NO TIME) and affirmatively stepping in and saying EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of the verbal utterances noted above.

    2. Pre set rules on pitcher usage and monitor them (mainly at relievers). Fire those that don’t comply. If you haven’t read it yet, Jim Bowden has an article on that includes this. So, if a moron like Bowden can see it, why couldn’t our people have seen this coming and stepped in?

    3. Reduce the damn bunting by position players and either stop bunting the pitchers so much or make them practice it every damn day.

    4. Learn that “not throwing people under the bus” is not the same as “never saying an unkind word in public.” The communication should be: “We feel we had good players and good management, and we will evaluate every person in the organization to assure that we continue to improve sufficiently to bring a World Series pennant to Atlanta”. The failure to make that communication clear is a major failing on the FO.

  150. Some mention was made in the previous game thread about Kimbrel being the reason the 2011 Braves were big losers.

    I went back and looked at Kimbrel’s blown saves and losses. There were 9 total out of his 79 games pitched, meaning 11% of the games he pitched in lead to undesirable results. Since Mariano Rivera had 7 combined blown saves and losses in his 64 games pitched, which was also 11% undesirable appearances rate, I don’t think it would be insulting the rookie to say he had a “Rivera-like year.”

    Here’s where Kimbrel went bad (scores indicate game status when Kimbrel entered):

    4/21 vs. Dodgers: 3-2 lead. (Pitched 2 innings, including the 10th. Lisp loses it in 13th.)
    4/29 vs. Cardinals: 3-2 lead. (Gearrin loses it in 11th.)
    4/30 vs. Cardinals: 2-2, Kimbrel loses game in 9th.
    5/11 vs. Nationals: 3-1 lead. (Linebrink loses it in 11th.)
    5/18 vs. Diamonbacks: 4-3 lead, Kimbrel loses it in bottom of 11th, 5-4.
    6/8 vs. Marlins: 2-0 lead. (Linebrink saves it in 10th.)
    9/9 vs. Cardinals: 3-1 lead. (Linebrink loses it in 10th.)
    9/19 vs. Marlins: 5-4 lead, Kimbrel loses game 6-5, bottom of 9th.
    9/28 vs. Phillies: 3-2 lead. (Linebrink loses it in the 13th.)

    Most of those games were slim one-run leads with no margin for error. It’s also pretty interesting to see how many low-run games there were when Kimbrel gave up the lead and/or lost the game. No 9-8 scores anywhere to be found.

    I think Kimbrel did about as much as any team could expect a rookie to do in the high-pressure role of Atlanta Braves closer. To assign blame to him while it could be more properly laid at an offense that wasn’t capable of outscoring opponents to the point where the kid was relentlessly called upon is ludicrous in my appraisal.

  151. #186 – I am pretty sure that you would have a harder time proving your nutjob conspiracy theory than I would mine. BTW I never said stats and scouting are mutually exclusive, you did. I said that the Braves value scouting more. Big difference. Guys like you get so wrapped up in the numbers that you fail to take into consideration the role observation of play has in the game. Nor do you take into consideration at all the communication a player may be having with the coach or manager. If it doesn’t add up to WAR then its not valid.

    PeteORR – yeah I get it. But IMHO it is kind of nutcase bullshit to opine that that the team is conspiring against a player that just the season before was being touted as the next Chipper Jones face of the franchise player. All the stuff that I read was that he was told he was being benched. He was unhappy but understood the team comes first. He was working hard to fix his flaws. Yeah its all standard stuff and they all have to say that unless your Jeff Francouer. But a conspiracy?

    @183 – the words of a totally spoiled Braves fan.

  152. @183 – the words of a totally spoiled Braves fan.

    I listed facts and stated that I still love the Braves. I also expressed agreement with comments that you made, but simply warned that the further we get from our former success, the more we become like the Reds and Indians you make fun of.

    How is that acting out a spoiled tantrum? I’m supposed to accept them passively and unconditionally?

  153. Stu – first and foremost, congratulations on having a daughter. I am just logging into Bravesjournal now – I was too angry to log in yesterday. My daughter is arriving any day now – whole new world since we’ve only been used to a boy these last 3 1/2 years.

    I communicated a little bit on facebook with Jeff Schultz this morning and though at times he writes columns that rankle me, he told me he has a new column coming this weekend that he will be going after Braves management hard over their inexcusable decision to announce full renewals on the coaching staff the day after the biggest collapse in NL history.

    And on the heels of that, the Red Sox have fired Terry Francona. Not saying whether Francona deserved it or not, but I am seriously jealous of Red Sox fans today. When a humiliating collapse like that happens, of EPIC PROPORTIONS, there HAS to be some blood in the water. The Sox probably saw the Braves “renewals” and know it wasn’t well received, and smartly gave their fans some relief.

    The bottomline for me is the Braves collapse, coupled with the inexplicable Wren decision to announce full staff renewals 12 hours later, have me seriously calling into question my future as a Braves fan. I wish I was kidding but I have never been so angry about the Braves as an organization as what Wren did yesterday. It’s like he’s the most tone deaf human being walking the planet. Your fanbase is livid and physically ill over the collapse, and your response is to immediately announce that everyone has their job back? While you’re at it, you dumb piece of crap, why don’t you give Derek Lowe and Chipper new 5 year deals? Maybe we can bring Lemke out of retirement on a new ten year contract, you stupid, idiot, moron from hell?

    I am about done. I am literally off a ledge about the Braves. The end of season collapse was one thing – and it was royally humiliating. The announcement of the renewals of ALL the coaching staff makes me feel the Braves as an organization are a complete laughingstock and I already went through that in the 80s.

    I dare anyone to talk me off the ledge but this is just about my final straw after 36 years of being a Braves fan. I think my local Goodwill store here in Austin is about to get a box full of Braves clothes and hats. I am sick to my stomach.

  154. “you stupid, idiot, moron from hell”

    Haha, wonderful. Come down off the ledge Alex R. It will be okay. We’ll be in good position to complete another epic collapse next year.

  155. Sigh. My daughter once showed me her interpretation of how I would do on the Meyers Briggs personality test. She said that I am a capital T. That everything has to make sense. She told me that not everyone thinks that way. She is right. Boy is she right.

    Sam – on fire sir. I laughed my ass off at #170 and #162.

    Oh and by the way Stu congratulations. Daughters are great. Sons are too.

  156. @199 – Excellent question. He would’ve been responsible for Freeman holding the runner on 1st when the world ended the other night, correct? And for having the infield drawn in when that pathetic ground ball got past Uggla to effectively end the first (I think) game of the Philly series.

  157. For some reason, Kimbrel getting drunk after blowing the biggest game of his career seems more healthy than me getting drunk because I want to get drunk.

  158. Congratulations Alex R.

    to quote Animal House ‘ My advice to you is to drink heavily.’

    The day wouldn’t have been complete without an Alex R. rant.

  159. I know I am not on Bravesjournal as much anymore (it’s been harder since 07 with a little boy running around my house) but after the most epic collapse ever, I felt a rant was warranted.

    It was a much angrier rant after Frank Wren’s inexplicable decision to announce full staff renewals yesterday. I hope Jeff Schultz takes Frank to the woodsheed and puts a picture of a chimp in his column to illustrate what we think of Wren.

    You can take EVERY good trade Wren’s ever done and the announcment yesterday shows me he and the entire coaching staff deserve to be fired, immediately. Wren, Fredi, Parrish – those three especially make me sick. The “3 stooges” – I want no part of that anymore.

  160. The bottomline for me is the Braves collapse, coupled with the inexplicable Wren decision to announce full staff renewals 12 hours later, have me seriously calling into question my future as a Braves fan.

    Hey, that door sort of snaps shut when it closes. So you might want to scoot quickly so it doesn’t hit you in the ass on your way out.

  161. I dont know if firing a coach in his first year would be the best for long term success. Hopefully Parrish will see the problems that this team had and work to make improvements in his teachings and ideas. Thats what good coaches are able to do. I think most coaches want some job security and if the guy is fired after one year most coaches will take note of that.

  162. @203

    Or me getting drunk despite not wanting to….

    I love Martin Prado. I love his earnest demeanor, his famous work ethic, his seeming lack of ego. As stated upthread, I do wonder whether these typically positive attributes will serve him well in the current regime. His change in approach, whether done to appease the coaching staff or to reflect his own understanding of the #2 role, seems to indicate unselfishness gone awry. Hopefully he will tire of his team-firstness resulting in yet another pat on the back and seat on the bench next year.

  163. Hey, that door sort of snaps shut when it closes. So you might want to scoot quickly so it doesn’t hit you in the ass on your way out.

    Planning on enforcing this yourself?

  164. @209

    As I’ve said previously, I think the drop in Prado’s production is attributable to the fluctuations of a high-BA driven player coming full up against a deflated BA/SLG environment, combined with injury.

    I think the problem with Heyward is that the league developed a book on him, courtesy of the Giants’ pitching staff in the 2010 LDS, and that he has failed to successfully adapt to the new book. Combined with injury.

    I think Brian McCann had more issues with his back than he let on and never recovered.

    I think Dan Uggla took three months to sort out 1) the new hitting environment and 2) the pressure of his contract.

    Am I missing anyone?

  165. @211

    If I ever melodramatically piss my pants and announce to the world that I’m done – DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE! – with the Braves, feel free to hold me to it. Otherwise, what are you talking about?

  166. I’m trying my hardest to not respond to a certain poster on here, all I’ll say is I am thinking about it – you can think or say what you want about me, I don’t care. It’s how I am feeling.

    But I am not the only Braves fan who’s livid about the organization. And as someone who’s been a diehard Braves fan since 1981, I have every right to feel the way I do.

  167. Fredi Gonzalez makes some confusing decisions, but firing him wouldn’t accomplish much. The overwhelming majority of managers and managerial candidates in baseball make a similar number of sketchy decisions. You wouldn’t gain much with a different manager, and you might lose the positives Fredi has. (He’s pretty good at knowing when to pull starting pitchers, for example.)

    I would be blown away if the Braves gave up prospects for Guillen, who is a much worse manager than Fredi. They didn’t, though. They just kept the mediocre guy they already have on payroll. I understand the decision to keep him around, as a replacement just wouldn’t gain you much.

    Hitting coaches are a bit of a different matter, as there is a weak correlation between a hitting coach’s patience as a player and the patience of a team he coaches. However, we’re not talking about a dramatic difference.

    I don’t think keeping the coaching staff is a big deal because I don’t think they’re that bad compared to potential replacements. The chance of finding another Joe Maddon is much worse than the chance of hiring another Ozzie Guillen.

  168. Well, JoeyT, firing Fredi would certainly make me feel better… and as we know, the sole purpose of the existence of Atlanta’s Front Office is to make me feel happy.

  169. Two months ago, when Frank Wren acquired Michael Bourn, everyone loved the front office. Today people want to fire everyone. That’s sort of hilarious.

  170. I think some of you miss the real point of my rant.

    It’s not just about FIRING Fredi or any of the coaches. And obviously, it’s not about satisfying angry fans – the point I was attempting to make was the TIMING of Frank Wren’s announcement. I was much angrier about that than the actual WC lead being lost.

    The point I was trying to make, whether people see that or not, is that it makes the Braves look like the Detroit Lions, circa Matt Millen, or the Knicks under Isiah Thomas, by announcing full staff renewal 12 hours after the biggest National League meltdown in history.

    Had Wren gone to the podium on Thursday morning and announced that the Braves were going to evaluate the staff, the organization and not fired or hired anyone, the next day, I wouldn’t be half as angry. It’s almost like an in your face to the fans who have been loyal – it’s almost Wren’s way of saying, “screw you, Braves fans, we’re not going to be dictated by you”.

    I am OK with Wren not being dictated by us and I am not even saying it’s horrible if he doesn’t fire anyone – what I am saying, is don’t announce a full staff renewal 12 hours after a humiliating performance by the entire organization. I am not sure why people can’t see the difference of my complaints. It makes Wren look bad – like he doesn’t care or actually put thought & evaluation into things.

    Hell, if he had even waited a week, it would be more forgiveable. It’s the timing here that has put me over the edge.

  171. @212

    Prado has played injured in seasons past as well, and it’s tended to shake out in a 115-120 OPS+. This year he posted an 89 OPS+. Granted, there are injuries and then there are injuries, but still. My recollection of anecdotal evidence from those covering the team indicate he was playing more obviously injured last year than this. It was an extant theme in 2010, whereas I don’t recall a lot of talk of injury hampering his ongoing performance this season.

    NL BA 2008-2011

    .260, .259, .255, .253

    Prado’s BA 2008-2011

    .320, .307, .307, .260

    League BA trend explains very little of his fluctuation.

    Prado’s K rate went from an established level of ~12% to under 9%. To me, that speaks of an approach issue. After all, do debilitated players often strike out less often than they usually do?

    If you think that unlikely, then the most likely reason for his plummeting line drive rate (which went from an established level of ~19% to 12%) is that it was a by-product of a change in approach. This is very nearly going from one line drive per game to one every other game, a stark difference for which we really don’t need the numbers — it was apparent. Martin was among the league leaders in doubles rate for two full seasons. He actually led the league in 2009 in 2B/PA. That is his added value — line drives all over the ballpark, and he stopped being that guy.

  172. @217

    The Michael Bourn trade was EXCELLENT. No one’s arguing that some of the moves he’s made (Bourn and getting Jurrgjens for Rentaria) haven’t been A+ moves.

    Look, criticize me all you want. Fine. But I wish you would see why I am mad – the timing of what Wren did, is the worst offense here.

  173. @218, I didn’t know Wren announced anything. I thought Fredi said something to DOB. That’s why I thought, if you were calling for Wren’s head, you had to be referring to the decision, not the announcement. The release of the information, as far as I know, is all Fredi.

  174. @209 / 212 re: Prado – Perhaps we’ll never know whether the difference between 2009/10 Prado and 2011 Prado was the result of an intentional change in batting strategy, but whatever the cause, the end result was Prado just didn’t hit the ball with authority as often this season. He hit more grounders and far fewer line drives, and his flyballs didn’t travel as far (HR per FB rate down 2% from last season).

    Looking at his pitch selection, Prado saw fewer strikes this season than ever before, swung at balls more often than ever before and made contact with those non-strike pitches more than ever before. Unfortunately, while that helped Prado post an extremely low swinging strike rate and K%, it resulted in a lot of weak contact and overall poor results.

  175. He did stop being that guy. I suspect he got all sorts of tangled up with approach at the plate. I also suspect that a months long fight with MRSA sapped a good deal of his strength, such that even if he was not as “obviously injured” as the reports from last week, his skill set was equally or moreso diminished.

    I’m not suggesting he didn’t change his approach at the plate. But I’m not saying he did that because he was given new marching orders from on high, either. I suspect it’s just as likely that he came back from injury/MRSA with decreased strength, decreased bat speed, and tried to make up for that by putting the ball in play, hitting behind the runner, etc.

    I also think it’s not unlikely that a player like Martin Prado has about 2 good years in him, and then he reverts to previous norms (i.e. his minor league equivalencies.)

  176. I understand your argument, Alex. I just think it’s sort of crazy.

    You want the Braves to agonize and cry over spilt milk, maybe let a coach or two hang out to dry, or at least flap in the breeze a while. You want some emotional kicker to show “by god we CARE dammit.” I think that’s about the most childish thing imaginable.

    If the Braves front office had made a decision to keep their personnel into 2012 then the right thing to do is to announce that and make sure everyone in the organization knows where they stand. Wren’s timing was correct, not a travesty. You want some sort of emotional sop. That’s the exact wrong way to run a franchise.

  177. Well, Sam, we’re free to disagree.

    No, I don’t want nor expect the Braves to get up to the microphone, take their shoes off and pound the table or make declarations, ‘Braveheart’ style (though that would be fun).

    I expect professionalism.

    However, the IMMEDIATE renewal of the coaching staff 12 hours after the biggest collapse in Braves history is highly unprofessional – you want the Braves to ACT professional? So do I!!!! Acting professional isn’t whether they hire or fire Fredi and any member of its staff – it’s our General Manager quietly talking to the press that the Braves will sit down and do a full review of the 2011 season, organizationally.

    How is THAT expecting or asking Wren to be emotional or make flip decisions? The decision to announce keeping the staff 12 hours after that embarrassment is an embarrassment and shows a lack of thought – all any of us ask the organization is to look like leaders & take a thoughtful approach. I am a FAN, I am emotional – Wren and his staff have to look thoughtful. What they did yesterday morning was thoughtLESS.

    As for Fredi leaking that to the press, doesn’t matter. If anything, that makes Wren look even worse. He’s the GM and he should be the first to make a statement.

  178. I also think it’s not unlikely that a player like Martin Prado has about 2 good years in him, and then he reverts to previous norms (i.e. his minor league equivalencies.)

    I would agree with that, had Prado not so firmly established himself as a player capable of hitting the ball on the nose, with authority, over 2.5 seasons. At age 27, having done so in the majors since age 24, he owned this attribute about as surely as one can say.

  179. I understand your argument, Alex. I just think it’s sort of crazy.
    You want the Braves to agonize and cry over spilt milk,

    You would characterize this collapse as merely “spilt milk”? And you call other people’s arguments and characterizations crazy?

  180. If hitting and/or pitching coaches made THAT much of a difference in player performance wouldn’t they be the ones making a 100 million dollars?

    The decision the Braves have to make is if Prado is showing his true talent level or if this is a fluke bad year. Its a crucial decision in a way. If they think this season is his true talent level they have to trade for another hitter. That has a ripple effect on the roster. For example it may be part of the deciding factor on whether or not to try to leverage Jair Jurrjens for a left fielder. If they think that this year is the abberation then maybe the team looks to upgrade offensively at short stop. As far as Heyward is concerned, I think its nuts to trade him unless, and this is a big caveat, they can get the same potential or a more proven performer in his place. I seriously doubt that they trade the kid but Wren has proven in the past that no one is untradeable.

  181. #227 – I haven’t had MRSA but I hear what you are saying. If you aren’t 100% healthy its hard to excel at the highest level of baseball. I think it would be especially hard on a guy like Prado who has so much of his offensive value in producing a decent batting average.

  182. If hitting and/or pitching coaches made THAT much of a difference in player performance wouldn’t they be the ones making a 100 million dollars?

    Well, there certainly are some inefficiencies in the relative pay scale for GMs, managers, and coaches compared to players – for instance, I’m guessing everyone here would agree that Alex Anthopoulos is far underpaid relative to his contributions to the Blue Jays. So is Theo Epstein. Similarly, I seem to recall Leo Mazzone kind of broke the typical pitching coach pay scale when the Orioles poached him away. Even so, none of those guys will ever be paid ARod money, or even Jayson Werth money, because the industry has decided to pay far more for on-field talent, which frankly is a lot easier to quantify.

    All of this is to say, you can’t look at coach salary as absolute evidence of that person’s input into the total team success relative to everyone else involved with the team.

  183. I am pretty sure that you would have a harder time proving your nutjob conspiracy theory than I would mine.

    I never espoused a conspiracy theory, but nice try bro. I’s nice that you admit that you have one. What is your theory, incidentally? That Jason Heyward had a worse year than Martin Prado? Interesting theory.

  184. AlexR (218),
    That expresses my sentiments exactly. Ownership re-affirming all managers and coaches immediately was a big FU to thinking fans, and a sign that they were taking a defend/deny approach, proactively saying “it’s not their fault at all.” Who would it have hurt if they said nothing for a while and at least pretended to evaluate the performance of the managerial staff in the wake of a historic collapse? Are they so scared of hurting Fredi’s and Parrish’s feelings?

  185. You want the Braves to agonize and cry over spilt milk, maybe let a coach or two hang out to dry, or at least flap in the breeze a while. You want some emotional kicker to show “by god we CARE dammit.” I think that’s about the most childish thing imaginable.

    Instilling a sense of urgency and purpose is the function of leadership. If an organization doesn’t feel like those characteristics are sufficiently emphasized, it’s absolutely acceptable to use personnel decisions and the timing of their announcement to do so.

  186. If the manager doesn’t have much impact on performance, then nobody should mind if Fredi gets fired. If it doesn’t matter, then why not just do it for the heck of it? Do the Braves have a pressing need for continuity right now? I’d say the opposite. I’d say what the team needs most right now is a manager with a proven ability to enhance career/skills development among his young players.

  187. I think it would have made sense for the Braves to have held off making the announcement until emotions cooled. That doesn’t mean they could not have told the coaches privately they were coming back if that was their decision. I think there should always be a review of the team’s operations, even after a successful year and, certainly, after a collapse of this magnitude.

    I’m not convinced this was Fredi’s fault or Parrish’s fault. I have no idea what a hitting coach actually does. I suspect that Dan Uggla isn’t going to change his hitting style just because a coach suggests it. And you can’t place square pegs into round holes. Not every hitter is capable of hitting the same way. IMO, a coach is supposed to work with the hitters he has; you can’t realistically expect a Jeff Francouer, for example, to become an OBP machine (they don’t post OBP on the scoreboard, after all). All you can do is try to maximize the strengths that the hitter possesses. I have no idea whether Parrish did this or not but I don’t think you can simply extrapolate from the lack of offense that it’s his fault. I am still convinced that it’s the hitters rather than the coaching. Most people in baseball, I think, believe that most actual coaching takes place in the minors; by the time the players get to the big leagues, it’s more about maintenance. And, here you had a bunch of veteran hitters, including several from other organizations.

  188. Alex @225

    Your assumption is that they Braves took no time to ascertain what went wrong down the stretch. Having made no effort to assess the problems, they simply renewed everyone’s contract and shuffled on to next items.

    I find that scenario to be unlikely, to say the least. I think the Braves spent the last two months of the season ascertaining what went wrong. I think they had already evaluated the problem, and that they had a decision in the can regardless of whether they hung onto the WC berth or lost it at the end. I think that decision, obviously, was to not hang the collapse around the coaching staff. That decision, being made, they announced it immediately, to cut off any potential press corps guessing about who might or might not be the fall guy.

    If you don’t disagree with the assessment, you can’t complain about the timing. The collapse didn’t happen in the blink of an eye. It was a slow motion train wreck. The club had plenty of time to assess and evaluate, and they did, and they decided that the coaching staff would stay. And as soon as the season ended, they announced that, to nip any speculation in the bud.

    That’s a good managerial decision.

  189. John @ 228

    You would characterize this collapse as merely “spilt milk”?

    The milk may have been spilt in a historically notable fashion, but yeah, at this point, it’s spilt milk. Crying over it won’t help.

  190. @232 – I ain’t your ‘bro’. All I said is that the Braves observation of Heyward’s baseball playing activities led them to believe that it was better to bench him than Prado. They believed that Prado had a better chance of contributing than Jason at that time. That is my theory.
    I apologize if I clustered you in the mass of folks here that think that Heyward was benched for reasons other than he sucked at baseball.
    Yes the statistics indicate that Prado was having as bad or worse season at that point. But aren’t statistics about sample sizes too? Prado has a larger sample size of success in MLB than Heyward. At the most basic level if treated equally doesn’t that make it more likely that Prado was going to break out than Heyward?

  191. spike @234

    Instilling a sense of urgency and purpose is the function of leadership. If an organization doesn’t feel like those characteristics are sufficiently emphasized, it’s absolutely acceptable to use personnel decisions and the timing of their announcement to do so.

    And what of an organization that doesn’t conclude, as you seem to, that leadership was lacking? The issue doesn’t seem to be so much the timing, but that they don’t agree with your assessment of the manager and his staff.

  192. I concluded nothing of the sort – I merely said that using personnel decisions as a motivational tool would be perfectly in keeping with the proper role of management and not just “crying” as you characterize it. You are swiftly becoming nothing more than a reflexive contrarian.

    /mild edit for clarity

  193. Because it’s important to document all cases of Frediocy:

    “I thought about not doing it [pitching to Pence with incredibly light-hitting Michael Martinez on deck]…But all of a sudden you’ve got the 1-2 or 2-2 count, whatever it was. And Scotty made a great pitch. … Can you guarantee me Martinez wasn’t going to get a hit, or draw a base on balls?”

    First of all, it wasn’t all of a sudden, it was after 3 and then 4 pitches had been thrown and after you had made the decision to pitch to Pence in a season-on-the-line scenario, Fredi. Furthermore, by this logic, if there’s any chance at all of the next player to bat getting a hit, if he has even a single arm that could hold and swing a bat, if he could bunt for a hit with a bat clenched in his teeth, then it would be better to pitch to the guy up right now regardless of the situation. 2001 Barry Bonds up with two men on in the ninth inning of game 7 of the world series? Well Pete Orr is batting behind him but I can’t guarantee that he won’t get a hit if you walk Bonds, so go ahead and pitch to him. Frediot.

  194. RE: Prado and MRSA

    As Mac points out, MRSA lingers. Prado was laid up for two months with that infection. Two months of no batting practice. Two months of no live pitching. Two months of no weight training. Two months of no running. Two months of laying around, getting pumped full of fluids and waiting for your body to start working again.

    A high-BA player takes that hit in midseason, what does it do to his game? How does that split second of bat speed that he no longer has impact his ability to make contact? Enough to turn former line drives into ground outs? Enough to turn former doubles off the wall and the occasional HR into warning track fly outs? Enough to drive the statistical record we see, without him having to been instructed by an “idiot” manager/staff to do something different than what he did the last two years of successful playing time? Is that not reasonable?

  195. So, Mac, when does the first ‘Where do we go from here?’ analysis get posted? I’m thinking this year’s summation might be an all-timer.

  196. @242

    Even odder, they’d functionally already pulled off the pitching around Pence move to face Martinez twice (maybe it was unintentional, but it worked).

    Expecting the worst, I thought it might be going to the well one too many times, but if the choice is a well vs. a dried out creek bed, you take the well.

  197. @231 – ‘Well, there certainly are some inefficiencies in the relative pay scale for GMs, managers, and coaches compared to players – for instance, I’m guessing everyone here would agree that Alex Anthopoulos is far underpaid relative to his contributions to the Blue Jays.’

    I don’t think there are inefficiencies. GMs, managers and coaches don’t win baseball games. Players do. Winning baseball games is what its all about.

  198. MRSA and any other infections of the sort are brutal on the body. I couldnt imagine having a 2 month bout and then trying to play baseball every day for 3 straight months.

  199. I don’t think there are inefficiencies. GMs, managers and coaches don’t win baseball games. Players do. Winning baseball games is what its all about.

    Certainly management helps win baseball games, but not to the degree some might intimate. I think the impact of those resources on winning baseball games goes in the order they’re listed. GMs have strong impact on winning baseball games, by putting the roster together. A good GM can significantly improve a team. A bad GM (Ed Wade for example) can wreck a team for years. (Frank Wren is a good GM.)

    Managers can win a few games a year, probably. Really exceptional managers probably go +3 games or so. Really bad managers might go -3 games. The vast majority of managers are neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad. (Fredi Gonzalez is neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad at this point in his career.)

    Coaches don’t win or lose games. There have been maybe three or four positional coaches who were notably better at their jobs than their peers, to the point of being exceptional, in the last 20 years.

    I suspect the desire to overrate the impact of a GM or manager is due to the desire to have a guy whose job “we could do” be pivotal. We all know we’re never going to start at 3B in the majors. But we all like to think we could out-manage Fredi Gonzalez because, by god, we read Fangraphs.

  200. I just realized that you all were referring to MRSA the bacterial infection, not MRSA the nickname for Fredi that was used briefly around here.

  201. 243: you have just described a player that should not be playing baseball during a run for the playoffs.

  202. ‘I suspect the desire to overrate the impact of a GM or manager is due to the desire to have a guy whose job “we could do” be pivotal. We all know we’re never going to start at 3B in the majors. But we all like to think we could out-manage Fredi Gonzalez because, by god, we read Fangraphs.’

    Holy Pyschoanalysis Batman! but funny.

    Man it must be frustrating to be Frank Wren. You put the best talent the team has had in 3 or 4 years on the field and then they all go and forget how to play baseball for a whole month. It just goes to show that even the best of the front office/managerial/coach types can’t do a damn thing about hitting, pitching and fielding when the game is on.

  203. @Sam
    Your contention that managers can win(or lose)games interests me. You give numbers (+3, -3).
    Please elaborate, in the context of managing players, managing within games, and managing a 25 man roster.

    (Yes, I went there, folks. Maybe I can learn something.)

  204. “But we all like to think we could out-manage Fredi Gonzalez because, by god, we read Fangraphs.”

    The straw man thing is getting old. Let’s not pretend that, in real time, people on here regularly aren’t calling out Fredi for ridiculous decisions, or non-decisions like failing to make double switches.

    Let’s also not pretend that they aren’t right a startling amount of the time. Or that you yourself haven’t agreed with them at times, Sam.

    Braves fans apparently will have the misfortune of being able to put this to the test next year. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to have a real-time online contest, “Can You Manage Better Than Fredi Gonzalez?”, where people can input during games when they think Fredi’s doing wrong, while he’s doing wrong. Fantasy Manager. People could even vote to ‘like’ the fan-made decisions they agree with.

    It could be an internet sensation. It could help create the conditions that could result in Fredi’s firing. Who’s with me?

  205. I’m sure it’s been brought up before, but in keeping with wondering about Prado and his approach, was anyone else confused by the sequence when he came up in the 10th with Bourn on first? As a (fairly uneducated) viewer, I kept expecting Bourn to steal (maybe it was the snazzy camera angle they kept jumping to to see his lead off first). I know the pitcher was super-aware and kept throwing over, but I kept thinking that Bourn was going to find his chance and go. Do any of y’all know if the steal was on, if it would’ve been possible? Or does Bourn have a total green light?

    I know I was confused (which of course means nothing), and it kind of looked like Martin was too–maybe he was just being fooled/bested, but his swings looked kind of halfhearted, and I was wondering if he wasn’t expecting Bourn to run (ha) too. And psychologically, I’d think it would have to be a little weird never knowing when the guy on ahead of you is going to run or not (if he does indeed have the green light), especially when you’re in a bit of a rut yourself / perhaps overthinking things. I know he wasn’t setting the world on fire in the first half, but he was OPSing .761. If there’s any truth in the Bourn-confusion thing, it may have been a perfect storm of a lot of things at once for Martin. Or maybe not. Who knows.

  206. Yes the statistics indicate that Prado was having as bad or worse season at that point. But aren’t statistics about sample sizes too? Prado has a larger sample size of success in MLB than Heyward. At the most basic level if treated equally doesn’t that make it more likely that Prado was going to break out than Heyward?

    I can understand a manager platooning Heyward in a pennant race because he was horrific against lefties this year–small sample size or not, he’s clearly a mess against them. But then it’s still fair to ask why Hinske didn’t get more run against righties instead of Prado; he was much better against them this year, and is a little better in his career. Moreover, we’ve seen Hinske be a big part of our offense over the past two years, so where the hell was he as Heyward was being platooned with Matt freaking Diaz? What people have picked up on was a lack of consistency. Was there a conspiracy afoot? Nope. It’s just Fredi probably overvaluing Prado’s skillset and undervaluing Heyward’s.

    re: sample size, I think we need to look at more than sample size. Yes, Prado is older, but Heyward’s 2010 season was better than anything Prado is capable of doing. He also did it as a 20-21 year old, which puts him into elite company (to put it mildly). Most projection systems (which care about sample size), scouts (who care about skill), and ordinary fans expected more out of Heyward than Prado coming into 2011, and it was fair to continue expecting the same even as both had sub-par seasons. That is, it was never more likely that Prado, not Heyward, would break out. It could have happened, sure, but Heyward was always the more likely bet.

    FWIW, I’d have kept playing them both.

  207. 243: you have just described a player that should not be playing baseball during a run for the playoffs.

    Unless you don’t have a better alternative. This is where you scream that Heyward was a better alternative and the guys paid to walk through the clubhouse, assess the players on a day to day basis and fill out the lineup card disagrees with you. I’m not going to sit here and argue with your brick wall.

    The organization, including and ending with the manager, thought Prado had the better chance of getting out of his funk than did Heyward. If you need to shout the heavens down because you’re smarter than they are on that issue, have at it.

  208. NOTE: The point of my post @243 was not to defend Prado starting over Heyward. It was to counter the assertion earlier in this thread that Prado’s statistics indicate summarily that he had been ordered to change his approach while hitting second, by the manager and/or the hitting coach.

  209. @254

    I think a manager can most positively effect a team by creating a clubhouse where players are comfortable and know their roles. That is to say, I think a manager’s most positive skill set is people management, not tactical in game decisions.

    With that said, I could see a really brilliant tactical manager making a couple of games difference here or there, over the course of a season. Likewise, a truly horrific manager could cost his team a game or three over the long haul. Those managers would excel or harm their team by egregiously bad personnel decisions more than anything. Sticking with a starter or reliever too long. Not playing an obviously more useful player in the lineup.

    I don’t really care about lineup construction on a day to day basis, as that provides negligible value to the team. Getting the right players on the field is more important.

    With *that* said, I don’t think the decisions Fredi made regarding personnel were notably bad. Obviously others disagree. The most notable point where I would have probably done differently than Fredi this year was down the stretch, when Prado was clearly not right. I’d have run the Heyward out there more often, unless there was some specific bit of information that the clubhouse had privy to that I do not know.

    Nonetheless, I don’t think the Braves lost the WC lead because they refused to play Jason Heyward more often. Heyward was hardly playing well enough to demand insertion above all other considerations, regardless of what you might hear otherwise.

  210. funny tweet by Craig Calcaterra:

    Fredi Gonzalez: if I were you I’d take the Parrish firing as a blow against your authority to shape your own staff. Resign in protest!

  211. Do we have to assume this was Wren, et al overruling Fredi? Especially in light of his comments yesterday that everyone would be back? Or is it a change of heart from Fredi?

  212. Let me quote myself from @165:

    “Me? I’m comfortable with uncertainty, and I don’t think a different manager makes much difference at all in 2011. If Parrish were to be fired for the sake of hanging the goat’s head on someone I wouldn’t care much one way or the other, but the idea that he *must* be fired assumes far more than anyone has any ability to actually know.”

  213. The idea that Prado’s strength was sapped in a way that would not necessarily merit daily notice is compelling. Being somewhat less than yourself is not as glaring as, say, grabbing at your side after every swing. The question, I suppose, would be at what point in his recovery did he return? As soon as he felt vaguely up to it, or once he’d regained more or less full vitality?

  214. @260
    So, did you look at the stats, read the quotes, or constantly hear Simpson talk about Prado sacrificing his production by hitting the ball to the right side to get Bourn over?

    Both theories are reasonable.

  215. #261 – I guess you missed the part about the Braves observations of Heywards play. And the ‘most basic level’ part of my post. Sigh.

    Mac – do you really believe that Larry Parrish is the main reason that the team struggled so much offensively?

  216. Prado’s K rates:

    Batting 1st – 11.4% (28/245)
    Batting 2nd – 5.3% (16/301)

    The second number, separated pre- and post-Bourn:

    pre-Bourn – 3.7% (4/108)
    post-Bourn – 6.2% (12/193)

    It seems clear he took a different strategic approach to the plate when batting second. Unfortunately for our effort to determine what brought this on, the move to the 2-slot more or less coincided with his illness — he batted second in a few games before his run-in with the substandard Marlins visitors clubhouse (or whatever the cause was).

  217. Mac, to the greater point, I’m a bit off-put by the firing of Parrish, not because I think Parrish should stay (or go,) but because the dueling messages indicate a rift in management to some degree or another. I could care less who the hitting coach is. Outside of Rudy Jaramillo I don’t know of a single name who would impress me one way or another in that position. But I do have some unease about a franchise even a tiny bit at war with itself. Because the Braves are not the kind of franchise who can afford to go every which way at once and still compete for championships.

  218. From yesterday’s story:

    Only 12 hours after his team’s season – and its playoff hopes — ended abruptly with a 13-inning loss to Philadelphia, Gonzalez said he has asked back all his coaches for 2012.

    “Everybody is coming back,” said Gonzalez, whose Braves went 9-18 in September and lost their last five to finish one game behind St. Louis in the wild-card standings. “I invited them back and they all accepted, which is good. We’ve got a good staff.”

    To what extent is the coaching staff Gonzalez’s to hire, fire, or retain? The fact that there are several holdovers from the Cox regime (Pendleton, McDowell, Perez, Snitker) indicates that Gonzalez does not necessarily have the final word. But the above quote indicates that he believed he did. Which, if true, is just odd.

  219. For a good chuckle, imagine Frank Wren getting up this morning, making some coffee, sitting down at his kitchen table to whatever version of the paper he reads, and seeing the above quote….

  220. I cant see twitter here at work, but some friends are emailing me that Peanut is on twitter quoting Wren. “Lowe wont be in the rotation next year.”

    See if anyone can find that.

  221. So glad to see Parrish gone, but I’m with Sam. Not a good sign to see such conflicting messages coming out of the organization. It was probably just Fredi running his mouth about something he has no control over.

    csg: #Braves GM Wren said he doesn’t project Lowe having spot in starting rotation. Trade or bullpen are options.

  222. Wren said he doesn’t see Lowe in the rotation next year and that a trade or the bullpen are options.

    Also no discussions at all about Heyward being traded, but he’s not guaranteed RF next year.

  223. Tweet #1:

    ajcbraves David O’Brien
    #Braves GM Wren said they have not had any discussion whatsoever about trading Heyward. But said he isn’t assured of starting RF job.

    Tweet #2:

    ajcbraves David O’Brien
    #Braves GM Wren said he doesn’t project Lowe having spot in starting rotation. Trade or bullpen are options.

    (NOTE – The tweets source Frank Wren, but they are not direct quotes that I can tell.)

  224. I think dumping Parrish was the needed move. I also like it that Fredi was put in his place. If Fredi leaves in a huff, I wouldn’t be upset, but hopefully this will force him to re-examine his overall approach.

  225. I read this back and forth and I can’t help but think of Rome after Caesar’s death. Just wild ass guessing here, but there seems to be a few competing factions in the Braves’ front offices post-Cox. Frank Wren, who has the title and the power. Gonzalez, who has the field but nothing near the influence Bobby had. And maybe a third faction behind Terry Pendleton?

    Again, just wild ass guesses. But if Pendleton resumes the role of hitting coach it will suggest, at least to me, that Fredi is on notice.

  226. @291 – Somewhat. But Pendleton was the front-runner for the managerial gig before Fredi’s gig in Florida ended. Just something I’d keep an eye on.

  227. Well, I of course am firmly in the Wren camp on the Parrish firing – what it also shows me is that Fredi was speaking ALONE yesterday, and yes, the comment earlier about Wren waking up and seeing Fredi’s quote probably sped up Parrish’s exit. it also let Fredi know who is the boss.

    I was dead WRONG about Frank Wren since I incorrectly assumed Fredi was speaking for the entire Braves organization – at least I admit when I am wrong (ahem).

    My respect in Wren has been restored.

    As for Fredi, the way you managed this team, you deserve to be put in your place. Furthermore, shut your piehole and just worry about keeping your own job. You should be thankful you are sitll employed the way you managed this team.

    So, my sincerest apologies to Frank Wren – sure, I would have been happy to see Fredi canned, but dumping Parrish a day after Fredi shot his mouth off restores a lot of goodwill with at least a majority of Braves fans (though not Sam). Way to go Frank – arguably, your best “move” since the Bourn trade.

  228. 293, I think that puts Pendleton in the role of Mark Antony potentially, assuming Fredi is Caesar. Respected by the public for his soldiering in the field, of good standing but no particular title or apparent desire for power, but inside, scheming the entire time to take over the works, and thought of as a tacit ally by all factions until the power play is revealed.

  229. Of course that is what Fredi said yesterday. It’s simple management. You can always change your mind. Standard practice in European soccer. Monday after the fifth consecutive loss: The manager will sit on our bench the next game. Tuesday, that manager is usually fired. Nothing to get excited about.
    Anyway, I applaud the decision to not ask Parrish back next year. He obviously (sorry, Sam) did not value OBP very much.

  230. Cox would be Ceasar in the context of the franchise, I think, right down to fighting the Gauls in Toronto prior to his triumphant return.

  231. It will be funny when Bobby storms back in @ 2013 all “What the hell did you people do to my team?!” and kills ’em all.

  232. @300

    Was speaking with my uncle yesterday, and his thought was that if Bobby were still the manager there’s no way in hell we didn’t make the playoffs.

    It’s not entirely inaccurate either as the delta we missed the postseason by falls within the realm of influence that a manager can have during a season.

  233. I admit, I don’t think Bobby lets them collapse like that either. But I have nothing to back that up besides nostalgia and emotion.

  234. I guess you missed the part about the Braves observations of Heywards play.

    You have now said this twice, but I have no idea what it means anymore. You originally said this:

    Hell I thought Heyward was benched because he wasn’t playing very well. Before you bury me in advanced statistics showing that Prado sucked worse you have to remember that the Braves are a scouting first team. They make decisions based more on observation of play than stats. Not saying they don’t use stats but observation of play is the overriding decision maker.

    He was benched but Prado was worse, yet not benched. You know this, but to preclude the possibility that someone point out this bit of problematic information (again), you argued that the Braves mostly ignore stats and, I guess, observe reality according to a different epistemological system. I’m going to assume, however, that they’re reality based, that scouting and stats are not mutually exclusive, and that “observation of play” is just as wishy-washy an excuse as “conspiracy theories.” But whatever Fredi’s reasoning for benching/platooning Heyward–yet not applying the same standard to Prado, or to Uggla or others, for that matter–it is poor.

    The fact remains that Prado had a worse season that Heyward. Any poster here who wonders why the latter was benched instead of the former is asking not only a fair question, but an important one.

  235. You are swiftly becoming nothing more than a reflexive contrarian.

    Ding-ding-ding! It doesn’t matter what the consensus is; Sam will take the other side.

  236. Ding-ding-ding! It doesn’t matter what the consensus is; Sam will take the other side.

    That’s simply not true.

  237. Sure are some fairweather fans around here. I get being upset with staff and management and yadda yadda. But guess what? That’s just about every team and every fanbase in sports. So really, you’re going to quit being a fan because we had a good, but not quite good enough, year? Grow up.

  238. Sam @292,

    Fredi was the front runner the moment Bobby said he was going to step down.

    I agree that Bobby managing probably gets the Braves in. You have to think he would have pulled something off and won a game along the way that Fredi lost.

  239. I think Fredi is gone. It’s pretty clear he and Wren are not on the front page. When you fire a coach out from under the manager, that sends a message.

    I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see Bobby return. He isn’t much older than Davey Johnson, who hadn’t managed in years.

  240. @290

    How dare you make wild ass guesses, you ignorant know nothing? You are but a miserable speck of excitable excrement that is wholly incapable of even basic reason floating amidst the even more miserable flotsam that is everyone but me.

  241. I think Fredi is coming back, or they would have fired him today.

    I hope we hire Don Baylor as hitting coach

  242. Mildly on-topic, and still cool as hell, 60 years down the line…

    “Hipsters, flipsters, and finger poppin’ daddies, knock me your lobes!”

  243. I think Wren knows that he provided Fredi with enough tools to be successful this year. Im guessing he noticed the team wide hitting issues and decided that he wasnt going to wait another year to see if it could improve. I think Fredi took notice of what happened today.

  244. He then got drunk and (probably) had sex.

    The absolute horror. I’ve never done that in my life, ever.

    Nothing says “smart” quite like getting drunk when things don’t go exactly your way.

  245. Maturity is waiting until the weekend to plaster yourself into forgetting the events of the last month.

    Mr. Jack, we will start with you.

  246. “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”

    Frank Sinatra

  247. #290, do you really think if Terry Pendleton had any faction at all, he’d have been allowed to stay on last year?

  248. On October 29, 2010, it was announced that Parrish would become the hitting coach for the Atlanta Braves, replacing Terry Pendleton, who was moved to first base coach. After the Braves offense went from first in the National League in On-base percentage in 2010 to fourteenth in 2011, Braves general manager Frank Wren announced on September 30, 2011 that Parrish would not return to his duties for the 2012 season.

    From first in OBP to 14th in the NL in OBP in one year. Heck of a job.

    Fredi should be fired too if he is a supporter of the Parrish aggressive hacking philosophy.

  249. There’s “not going your way”, and then there’s failing in the single biggest moment so far in your young life with a million people watching. To not be able to empathize with someone acting out of frustration in that scenario…well, it’s hard to know what to say.

  250. Nothing says “smart” quite like getting drunk when things don’t go exactly your way.

    I feel sad for people who need a reason to get drunk.

  251. @322

    It amuses me to no end that you guys seem to think I’m unreasonable in my arguments. It is another marker of just how close minded some of the circles of thinking here are.

  252. I can guarantee you I would have done the same thing Kimbrel did. Hell, I’ve done that after failing tests.

  253. @326, I don’t think I’ve ever said your arguments were particularly unreasonable, I said you verge on contrarianism sometimes. You’ve got more class than Emma, but you stay under the same bridge from time to time

  254. @304 I’ll try simple sentences.

    The Braves are a scouting first organization.
    They don’t discount stats but trust their scouting more.
    They saw something in Heyward’s approach that they thought needed to be fixed.
    This is what I mean by Observation of play.

    Prado had 2.5 years of success in MLB.
    They thought he would contribute more than the 21 year old Heyward based on his longer record of success and what they saw wasn’t right about Heyward’s approach.

  255. Another way of phrasing @330 is this:

    Stats, particularly advanced stats, are good at telling us what happened and what, in the long run, we should do. Given an appropriate sample size.

    Stats, neither traditional nor advanced, are particularly good at telling us what to do with regard to day to day decisions. For that, if you’re not “better off” using scouting and observation, you’re at least no worse off than consulting stats.

  256. Just read the news that Parrish was canned. This has probably been said a hundred times already, but the real message here is that Fredi isn’t in control. By this move Wren told him to shape up or ship out. My read anyway.

  257. #262: re: your post at #243:

    Unless you don’t have a better alternative. This is where you scream that Heyward was a better alternative and the guys paid to walk through the clubhouse, assess the players on a day to day basis and fill out the lineup card disagrees with you. I’m not going to sit here and argue with your brick wall.

    Again with the strawman.

    Second part of your point first, it’s odd to predict that I’m going to “scream” that Heyward was a better alternative to Prado when I was one of the folks who was supportive of Georgie “Hot Hand” Constanza taking ABs away from the struggling Jason. Muchos gracias for the condescension.

    Now backing up a bit, this all started with you defending Fredi’s usage of Prado on behalf of the idea that his downfall couldn’t have been because of anything Parrish (or Fredi) did with hitting instruction. It wasn’t bad management (vis-a-vis bad hitting instruction) after all! We can’t possibly know that’s true, so to even make it a point of conjecture labels us as damned fools! Then, to buttress your argument, you lead us down a very longwinded rhetorical path that asks us to imagine a player so overtaken by MSRA fatigue that he can barely swing a bat. This may indeed prove that nothing Parrish would or could have done had any effect – but it just further reinforces the argument many have suggested that Fredi’s management skills (in this case, of personnel) is so terrible that he was willing to let a weak-kneed player like Prado even take the field.

    Your post was not a defense of Fredi’s personnel skills, it was a condemnation! If what you suggested was indeed reality, then to answer your first statement, just about anybody would have been an improvement on Prado, who as we know posted a .622 OPS after his return to regular action.

    (To be more exact, his OPS was .761 before his injury, .688 in July, .611 in August, .548 in September. That’s a stark decline into something less than even mediocrity.)

    The organization, including and ending with the manager, thought Prado had the better chance of getting out of his funk than did Heyward. If you need to shout the heavens down because you’re smarter than they are on that issue, have at it.

    What we’re finding out now that Fredi and Wren have done the Larry Parrish shuffle over the last 24 hours is that your vaunted “organization” probably isn’t as much of one mind as you might think. Again, that’s a logical deduction to make after looking not only at the numbers but the horrible play down the stretch – how could it be possible that there isn’t some sort of organizational strife over what to do next? Honestly, I think stumbling, bumbling Fredi is part of the problem. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but it’s not been a damn fool thing to speculate on over the last few months.

  258. The flip flop on Parrish’s firing reminds me of a month or so back when Fredi said explicitly in post-game comments that the team didn’t need a closed door meeting, then the next afternoon, right before game time, there was a closed door meeting.

    My impression then, which has only been reaffirmed by other events especially the Parrish thing, is that Fredi is extremely indecisive or just plain doesn’t have a feel for his role in the clubhouse. “Do I call a meeting or don’t I?” “My coaches are mine to keep or fire; Oops, no, that’s Wren’s call.”

  259. Just idle musing here: Since hitting coaches don’t really have any influence one way or the other on things, and thus don’t really matter, why not hire Erin Andrews as hitting coach? For one thing, I miss her pretty face. For another, she looks smoking hot in a Braves uni. And lastly, I don’t really know her work ethic, but I’m guessing she’d rate highly on what Fredi’s looking for in coaching personnel: She’s nice, she’s prepared, and she’s punctual.

    I presume Mac will have a poll up shortly about who Braves Journalists think should be the next hitting coach. Erin Andrews is my nomination.

  260. So what’s the deal with LM? I was under the impression that 2011 was the last season they would retain ownership, having paid their dues as far as the tax deal was concerned.

  261. I’m somewhat surprised that every MLB franchise doesn’t change ownership every five years. The depreciation loophole makes a franchise significantly more valuable to a new owner than a current one.

  262. Of course they do. It’s factored into the valuation when comparing it to other potential assets. Let’s see if I can articulate this in my current condition.

    Let’s say two parties, A and B, both value the Braves at $100. They value the Braves that much based on other revenue generating investments they can purchase for $100.

    A owns the Braves, so he would want more than $100 for it. Then he could take the $100, invest it in other revenue streams, and pocket the difference.

    B doesn’t own the Braves, so he would want to buy it for less than $100. If it costs more than $100, he can find better investments.

    The trick here is that, since B is rich and pays a rate of 35% on most of his income, he gets a little less than a 17.5% discount on the purchase. So, really, he just wants to buy it for less than $120.

    Percentage-wise, there’s a lot of space between $100 and $120. I’m always surprised when owners hold on to teams.

  263. Well……the former IRS auditor in me would say that the sales price, less any investment, would be subject to tax consequences, in a perfect accounting sense. But he would also freely concede it’s an imperfect world.

  264. Nice to wake up and find out that Parrish is out, but the way it has been handled hardly inspires confidence.

    It is also nice to see that the Braves believe that Lowe might not be one of our starters in 2012….

  265. Absolutely think pendleton is the great mysterious third faction. I think he heads the anti-heyward group. When drunk, I am apparently an actual conspiracy theorist. Surprising realization!

  266. @334: I don’t think Fredi is indecisive. I think the job of a modern manager is in part to present a positive face to the media, i.e. lie. Lowe comes out and stinks up the joint, and afterwards Fredi tells us that he made good pitches, tip your cap, etc. All lies. And as anyone who follows politics can tell you, when a man’s job depends on lying all the time, he’ll start lying about everything. (BTW, I don’t think Fredi is any different from any other manager in this respect.)

  267. My question is whose idea was it to hire Parrish in the first place? If it was Fredi’s and the FO thinks Parrish is the problem, then the real problem is Fredi. If it was the FO, that doesn’t say much for the FO. I mean, if you feel you have to fire a coach or manager after one year, doesn’t that suggest a poor job of initially vetting the candidates?

    If Parrish was Fredi’s hire and he was overruled by Wren, if I was Fredi, I would consider resigning. It’s obvious he doesn’t have the support of Wren (if Parrish was Fredi’s hire).

    Who will the Braves hire? Since 1991, the Braves have had two pitching coaches and, probably 10? hitting coaches. It seems like whomever they hire doesn’t do much for the offense.

    I don’t think the Braves have any anti-Heyward bias. But he played poorly; I don’t see the problem with saying he has to earn his job. People act as if this is Hank Aaron they are talking about.

  268. Stats, neither traditional nor advanced, are particularly good at telling us what to do with regard to day to day decisions. For that, if you’re not “better off” using scouting and observation, you’re at least no worse off than consulting stats.

    I continue to be amused at how certain people here think stats and scouting are in tension with one another. They’re not. Also, nothing is going to predict consistently a small sample of events, including scouting. You’re better off going with the better player, which Heyward was, is, and will continue to be.*

    But let’s play along. Let’s say “the scouts” suggested that Fredi should bench, and then platoon, Heyward, and at the same time suggested that Prado should always play. Considering the results, we should question the competency of the scouts in this supposedly “scouting first organization.” More than that, if Prado was struggling with the aftermath of his staff infection and unable to play at his highest level, then we really should question the “scouting” abilities in that clubhouse/org.

    I doubt, however, that there was so much thought going into these moves. There was no likely little “scouting” (or stats) informing Fredi’s decision. He probably just went with the guys he “felt” gave his team the best chance to win. He did that when he benched Heyward in August, and he did that when he played Matt Diaz on the last day of the season against a largely right-handed group of pitchers. You know how I know that? Because he said it, repeatedly. In general, Fredi probably undervalues Heyward’s skillset, and overvalues those of Prado, Diaz, Constanza, etc. That’s not a conspiracy theory. That’s an observation based on his actions and words.

    *This is to say nothing of the added value that Heyward’s getting back on track would bring to the team, too. If Heyward had a mechanical issue, then he almost certainly needed gametime experience to work through it. The fact that the Braves benched him instead of sending him down–in the hope of getting him back on track for September–is almost mind boggling. In the end, the Braves did absolutely the worst thing for the development of one of their most important players, and probably hurt themselves in the short run to boot. Bravo!

  269. I’m unaware of any history of managers falling on their swords for a batting coach. Fredi has the best job he’s ever going to have in his life, so my guess is he’ll get over it and accept the fact that he is an employee like anybody else.

  270. @349, Right. The idea that Prado was more likely to snap of it, based on either scouting or stats…no idea where that comes from. It’s not like the two should be telling you different things if you’re using/doing them correctly.

    And for the moment, which is what matters since the team was looking for “right now” production, Heyward was the better player.

    For the record, I don’t think Fredi turned against Heyward for anything on the field. My conjecture is that Fredi belongs in the camp that looked down on Heyward for not coming back from his injury while at 80%, and so subsequently just kind of lost trust in him altogether.

    I can’t believe no one would want to play “Are You Smarter Than Fredi?” online during Braves games. People practically do it on here already.

  271. @265 Sam
    Thanks for answering and your insight. I always appreciate that you have a take, and that it’s usually an informed one.

    That said, I’m still shivering from the Terry Pendleton/Cleopatra thing.

  272. As for Heyward/Prado:

    Doesn’t their different treatment simply stem from the different causes attributed to their poor play? Heyward’s poor play was seen as being caused by an inability to adjust, to mechanical flaws in his swing, whereas Prado was just “in a slump,” i.e. playing poorly and we don’t know why, but all players go through it at some point in the season. For Heyward, the idea was that he needed to rebuild his approach, a rebuilding that wasn’t gonna happen overnight. And yeah, if you can, you let him work on it in the games, but we’re in a playoff race here, people–we can’t afford to give him practice outs. So he sits. But Prado was just in a garden variety slump–no specific mechanical issues–and so he could snap out of it at any moment. Maybe today. So he plays.

    Now, I’m not saying I agree with these assumptions. But the actions of sitting Heyward/playing Prado seem to flow logically from these assumptions. No big conspiracy, and no loss of faith in anyone–just two different courses of action based on two different diagnoses.

  273. It seems that the consensus here is that much of Prado’s problems stemmed from his change in approach due to his move to the number 2 spot in the order that messed up his swing. Whether the change in approach was directed by the manager/hitting coach or self-imposed is not really the issue. It is clearly a problem that can be corrected by moving him to a different spot in the order, where he will not feel the over-riding need to “make contact.”

    Heyward, on the other hand, assuming his slump is not due to lingering injuries, seems to have a mechanical problem that the ex-hitting coach could not improve. (I am assuming that Heyward, unlike a recent former right fielder is willing to listen and adjust.). A new coach, who should make Heyward his number one priority, may be the difference maker.

    Those two “fixes” and a healthy, rested McCann, might be enough for the Braves to challenge for the Division (if Selig doesn’t eliminate divisions next season) in 2012.

    problem that the ex-hitting coach was unable to correct.

  274. Saw the movie Courageous last night. It is openly Christian and I know that’s a turnoff to some, but it was excellent. Acting was above average and story line was awesome with some unexpected plot turns. It was a major challenge for me to take advantage of my short time as a father. Sad that more movies (Christian or otherwise) don’t do more to encourage families.

  275. I have another theory:

    The Braves front office either did or did not want to make changes to the coaching staff. However, the rabid response to Fredi’s comments about bringing all his coaches back (and especially Parrish), combined with the Red Sox’s decisive move to fire their popular and successful manager in Francona, forced them to change their mind.

    No matter how you look at it, the sub-par quality of Fredi’s commentary* combined with Boston’s startling act of leadership risked Atlanta looking – for the first time since 1991 – like a franchise run by amateurs. The news of Francona’s firing was an unintentional pantsing of the Braves organization.

    * Why do I consider Fredi’s comments sub-par? First, the almost casual “of course they’ll be back” nature of his statement was incredibly tone deaf only hours after forcing Braves fans through the gauntlet of another heartbreaking loss. Second, his statement “that’s not how I do business around here” implies that he considers “accountability” and “scapegoating” to be roughly the same thing, which is just ignorant. Third, he once again repeats his criteria for a good coach, which anyone who has ever been in management in a field in which empirical results are impossible to hide knows are extremely wanting: Being punctual, being prepared, and being nice are all good qualities in a hitting coach, I suppose, but more relevant is playing whatever role you’re able to make sure the team you’re employed by doesn’t slip from first in OBP to 14th. Wins are wins, losses are losses. You cannot hide from those.

  276. 354: Heyward, on the other hand, assuming his slump is not due to lingering injuries, seems to have a mechanical problem that the ex-hitting coach could not improve. (I am assuming that Heyward, unlike a recent former right fielder is willing to listen and adjust.). A new coach, who should make Heyward his number one priority, may be the difference maker.

    One of the patterns throughout the year was there was never anything about Parrish’s successes (if there were any) bubbling up through the media. What we did get, however, were relatively routine stories about how Chipper’s dad was helping Chipper through his travails, how Brian McCann’s brother saw something on TV and helped correct it leading to an instant hitting streak, and how Chipper, et. al., were pitching in to help Heyward – either with his mechanical flaws or dishing him some tough love about his approach to the game. I thought that odd.

    Re: Heyward, I agree. We developed him to the point of being an All-Star and ROY candidate, and he has the potential to be the “Face of the Franchise” we’ll need after Chipper retires and McCann evolves into an old catcher. After all this, to not dedicate resources to helping this kid achieve his full potential would be a gross error in personnel management.

  277. The Red Sox get rid of Francona but the Braves can’t fire Fredi? Nice to see at least one team holding the manager accountable for a huge collapse.

  278. Well, when one back gets 16 carries and the other gets 37, obviously the one who gets 37 is going to get a lot more yards.

    Lattimore is 2nd in the NCAA in rushing yards this year, BTW.

  279. It’s funny to watch Ohio State celebrate scoring a touchdown on the last play of the game that makes no difference and they lose. Stupid thugs.

  280. @368 Right, because Lattimore’s gaudy numbers over the past two seasons have nothing to do with the fact that he’s gotten an obscene amount of carries.

  281. I didn’t say they didn’t. But Lattimore has played behind an O-Line that was nowhere near the talent of Auburn’s either.

  282. I’m not sure which one is worse at this point.

    It really is strange that Garcia is still on the team, seems like Spurrier has never liked him, yet here he is.

  283. Is anyone going to watch the baseball playoffs or are you all too scarred? I might be too disgusted to watch baseball for awhile.

  284. I’ll take any SEC win I can get, especially a road one against a Top Ten opponent. Great job Tigers.

  285. Well if it’s any consolation, we were just not pathetic enough down the stretch to push the Cards to the point where they had to use Kyle Lohse as their Game 1 starter. And he got torched. So did Rzeplotsasyllables. But then it’s the Phillies doing the torching, so I guess it doesn’t make one feel better…

  286. An Auburn defense that could hardly be called terrifying that lost a starting DE for the year last week held him to 66 yards. Dyer put up 141 on the road against a pretty well thought of group featuring Clowney. I don’t know how far I’d go with that, but Dyer is a horse.

  287. @383 Lattimore wasn’t a factor in any of the three games vs. Auburn the last two years, and AU’s defense is awful.

    Despite the fact that he’s more involved in the passing game, I’m not seeing how he’s better than Dyer in any other facet of the game. High touchdown totals don’t make a great back. Dyer nearly equaled his yardage last year with significantly fewer carries and continues to blow him away in yards per carry this year.

  288. Lattimore is a fantastic back. UGA’s run defense is pretty dang good and he torched us in the 4th quarter. I’m not really sure why Spurrier stopped giving him the ball today. There’s no reason why Garcia should be allowed to do anything.

    Besides, no running back is going to be a factor when he runs into Nick Fairley for two games.

  289. Auburn was able to load the box against SC today. They know Stephen Garcia is an awful quarterback. Auburn spreads the field so well, it opens up lanes for Dyer. I dont see how anyone can say that one back is better than the other. Both do well for the systems that they are in.

  290. The implication here seems to be that the Braves made up the idea that Heyward needed adjustments to his swing; ie that there was some sort of animus toward Heyward that explains why he was treated differently than Prado. But, FWIW, Keith Law said the same thing. I know that’s not conclusive but he does have experience scouting so it at least suggests that Heyward did have a flaw in his swing. Maybe it resulted from his injury, maybe not. Despite what people seem to think, I don’t think the Braves are making decisions from spite or because some good old boy network doesn’t like someone (Escobar). If anything, this suggests that they realize Heyward has a lot more potential going forward than Prado and they want to fix him. Also, perhaps they learned their lesson from Francouer about leting young “stars” become prima donnas and they want to do things differently with Heyward.

    But, also, Wren’s comments suggests that he saw what a lot of us saw during the year–poor at bats, hacking away, not working the count and so forth. I was glad to see that.

  291. You also have to consider that Prado was coming off a long injury stint and the Braves probably thought he was “rusty” and would play through his struggles with time.

  292. 396: That’s what I think is the most likely explanation. Add to that Prado’s apparent perfectionism that borders on a personality disorder, and it makes sense that he struggled. His physical histrionics when making outs in game #162 were painful to watch.

    But if the Braves management thought for a moment that Prado was truly the weak-kneed medical basket case Sam describes in his earlier post, then it was negligent to keep him in the lineup at all, let alone an everyday player, let alone when you’re benching a healthy guy like Heyward. You can’t have it both ways on that one. Prado should have been in the minors or IL getting his legs back, building up his bat speed, running laps without getting exhausted…

  293. It comes down to this: Heyward + mechanical flaws + potentially lingering injury >>> Prado + mindset flaws + potentially lingering injury.

    And yet, despite being consistently outplayed by Heyward, despite our dire need to be putting our best on the field, Prado wasn’t benched, etc.

    I don’t think there’s a conspiracy afoot. It’s just poor decision-making.

  294. And here’s yet another logical inconsistency in Fredi’s decision making. First, a kind of sad writeup by Steve Hummer in the AJC:

    At the end of the piece, I’m reminded once again of comments Fredi made after the collapse was complete:

    On the day after the Braves collapse was complete, Gonzalez wondered out loud about what he might have done differently.

    “What if we had hit the pitcher eighth for two more weeks?” he mused. “Maybe we should have played Constanza more. Maybe we hung with Heyward too long. Should we have left Chipper hitting second?

    “Believe me, these next few days there will be a lot of ‘ifs,’ ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’ from my end.”

    Here we see the manager wondering aloud if more Georgie would have been the answer. And right there, in plain English, he’s also wondering if Heyward should have been played less.

    There isn’t a single shred of evidence that Fredi was for one second thinking of playing more Georgie and less Prado. Looking back at box scores, Prado only sat twice in the last 69 games after he came back from his staph recovery, and only once was it because Georgie took his position in left field.

    For some strange reason, Fredi saw Georgie and Heyward’s playing time as inextricably linked. Why he didn’t further make the connection between Georgie and Prado’s playing time, is an absolute mystery, especially in light of the statement that increasing Georgie’s playing times was one of the variables he regrets not pursuing upon reflection.

  295. Of course there was no conspiracy. But let’s be clear: “conspiracy” was a strawman floated by two posters here to swat down. As long as anyone who expresses irritation about the differential treatment shown to Heyward and Prado is dismissed as a conspiracy theorist, the main point will get lost.

    And that main point, as Adam R says above, is simply this: the manager made poor decisions. For goodness sake, the day after the season ended he was expressing regret that he did not play Jose Constanza more, and that he did not sit Heyward more–presumably against righties (he sat against every lefty), whom he hits better than all the other outfielders on the 40-man roster.

    Fredi Gonzalez is just guessing. Why would you want someone who is just guessing?

  296. @401

    He’s a baseball manager. He knows more than you, you bleating simpleton. This point is obvious because he’s a baseball manager, and I’m comfortable with being uncertain (read: I’m comfortable with not questioning the establishment).

  297. I really have to wonder what it is about Heyward that makes him stick out as playing particularly poorly in Fredi’s mind. But trying to delve into Fredi’s thought process is only going to result in pain and despair.

  298. I wish he wouldve moved Lowe from the rotation. Even with JJ and Hanson out, we wouldve had a better chance with Teheran or LISP getting those starts IMO

  299. Remember when teams actually wanted to trade for Lowe? I’m still baffled that we turned down a trade of any kind.

    So is Nate going to be the LF for the Kansas City Royals next year or what?

  300. I still remember Wren’s mid-season comments about how frustrated he was with us leaving wins on the table.

    Turns out he was right about that one, wasn’t he?

    Wren has done a lot of things right, but he absolutely killed us with the Lowe signing.

    Hey, Tennessee fans: want Randy Sanders back? Under his tutelage, we are now 118th (out of 120) in total offense.

  301. Without that Lowe signing we don’t make the playoffs last year. It all depends if you would trade last year for not having Lowe next year. Obviously we failed last year, but we had a chance. If Kimbrel closes out that game I think we had a decent shot of getting to the WS.

  302. If Kimbrel closes out that game I think we had a decent shot of getting to the WS.

    Not the way our offense was hitting, but I do think this team had WS-caliber talent. The 2011 version of O’Ventbrel alone is a huge milestone in Braves history, in my mind. And our pitching staff as a whole really did put up some wonderful numbers in the first half – despite having Lowe and Proctor weighing the aggregate numbers down. And Minor and Delgado really stepped up once it became clear that JJ and Hanson weren’t going to be factors down the stretch.

    There were so many reasons to want to reward this 2011 team with some playoff respect, but we came up a single run short and now we’re just filed away with the epic losers of all-time. Which is a damned shame.

  303. @409
    Conspiracy time…
    Remember when DOB falsely reported the Griffey,Jr. signing? He’s been pretty cozy with the organzation ever since.

  304. I don’t think so, Ryan. It’s a pretty common problem with beat writers. Keep someone on the same beat for a long time, talking to the same people, and pretty soon those people’s perspective is going to make sense. “Going native” was happening a long time before the Griffey signing.

  305. More compelling than what they do say is what they don’t say. I wouldn’t think anything DOB might say is patently false. However, I think someone in his position just doesn’t approach certain topics at all.

  306. So, if the Falcons really thought they were one or two players away from a Super Bowl birth – this was the implication of their trading 5 draft picks, including two firsts, for Julio Jones – then is it fair to say that Dimitroff may not be the guru everyone assumes he is? Because the Falcons are no better than an 8-8 team this year, their last two big free agent signings (Robinson and Edwards) have disappointed, the O-Line is horrible, and they have no 1st or 4th-round pick next April. I’d say the shine has worn off the new regime.

    Another thought: if Tarvaris Jackson did this to the secondary, what is Aaron Rodgers going to do to them next week?

  307. Getting Julio Jones was like JS trading for Tex. While both Jones and Tex are very good players, neither of them solves or solved the main problem of the team. Falcons’ biggest weakness is its defense, and the Braves biggest weakness back then was starting pitching.

  308. The Falcons badly needed some speed at the offensive skill positions. But the price was very steep indeed. The defensive line is making very few plays, and the punter still sucks.

  309. Yeah, Bosher is freaking awful.

    FWIW, I still support the Julio Jones move, and I really don’t understand the claim that the Robinson signing hasn’t worked out — FBO had something just before the season on Grimes and Robinson being the best duo in the league, and I don’t think that’s too far off. The Falcons’ main problems, IMO, are on their lines (where I expect improvement) and in the offensive coordinator’s booth (where I don’t).

    But, hey, how about those Titans!

  310. Just saw Moneyball. Pretty good translation of the book into a film with semi-universal appeal. Having Brad Pitt certainly doesn’t hurt in that regard.

    A few things, though:

    • Art Howe being played like a sap, not so sure about that. The last we saw him was looking goofy and bewildered as his team was winning. I thought they could have been far more fair in his portrayal and the position he had been put in by Beane.

    • Joe Morgan hovered over the latter portion of the film like a Darth Vader voiceover. I found myself getting angry once again at one of the greatest players who ever lived. Damned shame.

     • Was that actually Huddy in one of the clubhouse scenes?

    • The flashback scenes were very effective.

    Film seemed a little long. I’m sure everyone here will see it at some point, but I thought it was pretty good.

  311. I saw it today as well. The arc of the story makes for an odd movie, but I more or less enjoyed it. There were inaccuracies, but didn’t get too caught up in them — a well-told story takes precedence over slavishness to history. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the guy who played David Justice were both great, I thought. The only thing I didn’t buy was how fearfully Scott Hatteberg was played.

  312. @425. Football is one of those sports where you much is going on that the avg fan shouldn’t always trust his eyes on individual performances. I get that, and I saw the stat too, so it’s possible that he’s better than he looks. But so far this year, it’s been… ugly. Every time I look up he’s 5 yards behind a receiver.

    In the end, I’ll probably reserve judgment on all of the player personnel, though, until I see them with new coordinators. The D Line looks weak again, but who can blame them when Van Gorder keeps rushing three while throwing DTs into coverage. Makes my head hurt.

    Also: watching a game featuring Tony La Russa is absolutely awful. He’s made two double switches and four pitching changes in 15 minutes. I might just root for the Phillies, at this point.

  313. The only thing I didn’t buy was how fearfully Scott Hatteberg was played.

    A few tiny spoilers follow:

    In keeping with your “well-told story” angle, I think this element of the film worked. I thought they played Hatteberg as a stark contrast to Beane: Unheralded, unwanted, not recognized for his abilities, whereas Beane was the golden boy #1 draft pick, given several chances by multiple teams, and even in the light of his failures the Joe Morgans of the world kept harping on how Beane was the prototype baseball player, but his career was “just one of those things.”

    The scene where an astonished Hatteberg embraces his wife is something you couldn’t imagine Beane having done at any point in his life. It showed a grateful guy whose priorities were in order. He knew what baseball meant to him and was ready to show it even if it meant playing a new position he’d never played before.

    So while Hatteberg may have not been like that in real life, the creative license taken with his character was apropos to the story and didn’t take me out of it.

  314. **Sort of spoiler**

    Fair enough. The only point where it really did take me out of the story was his “who, me?” reaction to being told to pinch hit.

    FYI one of the scouts was played by Tom Gamboa, the first base coach who was assaulted on the field a few years ago. The scenes with the scouts were the best part of the movie, I thought.

  315. The only point where it really did take me out of the story was his “who, me?” reaction to being told to pinch hit.

    I’m with you on that. I actually was on the A’s bandwagon that year from the beginning, watched virtually the entire season back when I had cable and bought the Extra Innings package. Hatteberg was in as DH for much of the first half, and by the time of his pinch-hit heroics to seal off that 20-game streak, he was an important cog in the A’s lineup.

  316. So while Hatteberg may have not been like that in real life, the creative license taken with his character was apropos to the story and didn’t take me out of it.

    For whatever it’s worth, that’s basically how Lewis wrote him. It’s easy to forget that this was an adaptation of a book, and that by the time the story reached the screen it was twice removed from real events.

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