Astros 8, Braves 3

Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros – Box Score – April 09, 2012 – ESPN.

This team does not seem to be very good. The Braves actually took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, getting two runs in the second and one in the third. Then with two out in the third, the Astros scored three “unearned” runs after a walk and an error by Juan “Frankfurterfingers” Francisco. (One of three on the day by him.) Brandon Beachy then gave up a double and a single to the next two, and tie game.

In the fourth, it was two out again when a double, then a single by the pitcher (Beachy had previously driven in a run himself) made it 4-3. The Braves, meanwhile, were in full-fledged Hibernation Mode; they had only two baserunners (a walk by Matt Diaz and a single by Martin Prado) after Brian McCann drove in Prado in the third.

Maybe Fredi knew that, so once again he brought in Livan Hernandez in a one-run game. Hernandez gave up four singles accounting for two runs in the sixth. That’s what he does. Chad Durbin gives up homers, and he gave up a two-run job in the eighth. None of this is surprising. Why Durbin has a job remains impossible to determine. Fredi eats poop.

86 thoughts on “Astros 8, Braves 3”

  1. And Frank supplied Fredi with with so much poop to eat. Honestly, I don’t know if the Braves really did give up on half a dozen pitching prospects at once based on 10 spring-training innings, or if they just don’t know what they’re doing.

  2. Based on Frank Wren’s history, I doubt Fredi gets fired all year. Normally, as dour as I can get during rough times, I can say, “this too shall pass” and know in my heart of hearts the Braves can bounce back. And for all the crticism I give Bobby during his tenure (which I stand by in terms of bullpen use and giving Lockhart a job for 6 years, etc) I still always believed no losing streak would last too long under Cox.

    As long as Fredi Gonzalez is the Manager of the Braves, I have no hope. He was hired hastily, with no one else receiving an interview. We then hired Walker this past season as our hitting coach…and no one else was really looked at. Why? Because they knew who he was and he was from Georgia. Always the qualification you look for for a guy tasked with fixing your broken lineup.

    Furthermore, we melted down in epic proportions in September and embarrassingly gave away our wild card to the Cardinals, because we simply couldn’t hit the ball. Along with Larry Parrish, we also had serious holes in the lineup – LF, RF, SS, 3B. None of those were addressed this offseason.

    I love young pitching as much as anyone, but how do you head into 2012 not having added ANY hitting (we should have done whatever was necessary, including trading some young arms, to add at least two bats) but we utterly failed to do so.

    Of course Liberty Media is to blame above all else because they have a strict budget that’s crippling us and they simply don’t give a rat’s a–, so we are stuck with mediocrity from the top down, and little hope of replacing Wren, Fredi or anyone.

    The truest indication of what a weak leader Fredi is, was after that epic September failure and humiliation, Fredi said no changes were needed, everything was just fine…and at least Wren fired Parrish the next day. Of course, he replaced Parrish with someone equally as incompetent. The lesson in all this is we have managed to discover TWO hitting coaches in a row that make Terry Pendleton look like the guy in Texas.

    I’m severly depressed. When is Football season?

  3. Despite my insane anger about the start of the Braves season and the utter failure that Fredi Gonzalez is in life, doesn’t mean I won’t be cheering for them everyday to win. Make no mistake…I am a Braves diehard and I am wearing a Braves hat right now while I type.

    But I don’t see how you can overcome 4-5 holes in a lineup and a weak hitting coach? We’d be better off if Chipper just retired today and took over that job, immediately.

  4. I think Durbin has a chance to reach legendary status on Braves Journal. What can a “Durbin” be? When a reliever comes in and allows at least two runs? He is definitely worthy of adding something to the glossary.

  5. The difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is that we aren’t going to get flukey, insanely good performances from JJ and Beachy this year.

  6. New Oxford Definition of Durbin:

    “One is completely hopeless and has given up on loss & reacts by simply pooping at will everywhere he/she walks. That is a Durbin”.

    I think this will take off the way the word “Munson” took off from Bill Murray in the comedy classic, “Kingpin”.

  7. Its sad that the Braves are laughing off some of the fans frustrations that are being posted on twitter or voiced on the talk shows. DOB is on twitter saying he doesnt pay attention to the posts anymore, Don Sutton was even laughing it off on the broadcast last night. Im glad there are some fans out there putting some heat on these guys and not just sitting around acting like no one cares.

    Braves fans deserve better and people do need to be held accountable. At the end of the day its only 4 games out of 162, but the Braves act like we should forget about the collapse and the uneventful offseason. I dont understand that.

  8. #4 – Im starting to think that a hitting coach has absolutely no bearing on this teams success. Its just one bad AB after another. Doesnt matter if it was TP, Parrish, or Walker…these hitters have to be able to adjust and have a game plan. We could have three walks in a row and the next 3 batters would find a way to make 3 outs on 3 pitches.

  9. 10- Really? So much for “social media.” I guess the Braves figure that having some drone tweet to us means they don’t have to acknowledge anything said in response.

  10. #7 – That and there is no way O’Ventbrel can be as good as they were for a full season.

  11. The best hitting coach on earth isn’t going to make this lineup better than league-average. One would also assume that Chipper knows a bit about hitting and has been a defacto hitting coach for years. It’s not a coaching issue. It’s a talent issue.

    The frustrating thing to me is that Frediot should know better than to use our worst talent in close games. It’s not his fault that Durbin and Livan and Diaz and Constanza are on the team (although I’m sure he had at least some input there), but using them every day is freaking crazy.

  12. To a certain extent, these guys have to be professionals & and at just 4 games in, they can’t go on air or in the newspaper and say “the sky is falling”. I do understand that.

    I have a feeling DOB (at least) thinks Fredi is a moron and probably thinks we should have canned him last September. However, he can’t say that publicly, at least not anytime soon.

    But Frank Wren is largely responsible here. After Bobby retired at the end of last season, Wren had a responsibility to interview a dozen or so candidates and go through a legitimate manager search…that’s where this all started. But again, he pulled the same lazy act with Walker’s hiring this past offseason.

    I don’t even think you can chalk that up to Liberty Media cheapness. That’s just being LAZY.

  13. This is something I’ll never understand. We have perfectly talented, quality arms in our farm system…give those guys at least a chance to fail at the Major League level? Why do Durbin and Liven even have jobs? And does Frank Wren not know Braves fans at all? Does he not understand how much we all collectively HATE Livan Hernandez anyway?

    Having him now screw us in our uniform just makes the pain even worse. It’s like Eric Gregg was placed in charge in hell and he has his fingerprints all over a fat, old, useless Livan being in a Braves uni…and Frediot is just his puppet who rolls fatty Livan out there in close games.

  14. IMO, it’s way too early to pass judgment on Greg Walker as a hitting coach.

    On the other hand, Liberty/Wren should be ashamed with their handling of the Braves’ offseason. They decided to go cheap instead of spending on the sorely needed quality bat (Beltran) and filled our roster with a bunch of absolute crap (Durbin, Francisco, Hernandez, Wilson) while not doing anything to address the current dead weight (Diaz, Constanza) by giving deserving players (Parraz) a chance.

    If I had to guess, the Braves as currently constituted are a roughly .500 team, probably slightly better. There’s no real chance we can do better than that unless/until the offense turns the corner; until that point, we’ll always be trying to scratch out narrow victories.

    On the other hand, Hanson is starting tonight, Chipper is coming back early (thanks for the memories, El Nino Destructor!) and we’re still facing the worst team in the majors, so I’m calling for a victory tonight.

  15. I don’t know. It still actually might be a coaching issue to some small degree. Someone posted the other day — I think this was where the “aggressiveness” thing started — that the new hitting coach(es?) had the same stupid philosophy as Parrish.

    Mostly, I think the players certainly haven’t forgotten about last season and are pressing like crazy. The other day, McCann was quoted as saying something like, “Nobody is thinking about last season,” which is as telling a quote as there could possibly be.

    But yes, Liberty Media, Wren, Fredi, etc, as well. That’s a lot to overcome.

  16. It starts at the top. JS sent out his “letter to the fans” saying that the collapse was unacceptable and that they would do everything possible to reevaluate and make sure they fixed their issues. Their issue was more than Parrish, AAG, and Derek Lowe.

  17. We thought we had hidden Keith Lockhart’s Pictures- last used by Greg Norton- deep in the bowels of some ancient temple stocked to the walls with assorted booby traps. But here comes Livan Hernandez with a sand bag of equal weight.

  18. They say no one is thinking about last season, but they sure are quick to tell us about how they won 89 games and how they had one of the best 4 records in baseball for most of the season.

    What if that early success was just the fact that we won every close ballgame, despite the anemic offense, and Venters/Oflaherty/Kimbrel just pitched lights out? The Braves arent this bad, but Ill be surprised to see them win more than 85 games this season.

  19. Braves organization isnt used to having to answer for their failures. Even Brian Jordan was vocal about it on Braves live last night.

  20. @20 – Scott Proctor made better use of those pictures than anyone I can remember since Lockhart, and that was more recent than Norton. Norton was a good extortionist, but he was no Scott Proctor.

  21. Kimbrel has yet to pitch yet. Good thing he’s not one of our best players.

    Regarding last night: Livan’s issues seemed more of BABIP vagaries. There weren’t really a lot of good swings put on the ball. Durbin is awful though. If I were Cory Gearrin, I’d be wondering what the hell it takes.

  22. I found a passage in one of my favorite Patrick O’Brien novels (from the Aubrey-Maturin series) that captures the way I feel when the Braves are on a losing streak. I wrote this one up in September 2008.

    He walked out of the hotel into the fog, fog that thickened as he wandered down towards the harbour: fog in his mind as he tried to interpret the strong and sometimes contradictory emotions that overlapped and mingled in his unreasoning part — grief, disappointment, self-accusation, loss: above all irreparable loss — a cold void within.
      —Patrick O’Brian, The Fortune of War

  23. @27 – I watched that game last night and I can confidently say that it has been a long time since I have seen a Braves player play with as much disinterest as Livan did. He has not played in the Majors this long by being anything other than talented, but that performance last night was pathetic. Sure maybe there were some dribblers off of the Astros’ bats, but he did not look like he was even trying. Why a hungry young arm from the minors is not occupying that roster spot is beyond me.

  24. Did Sherril sign on with anyone? He was quite hungry himself, if that’s the sort of thing they’re looking for in pitchers these days. I’d rather have him than Durbin, certainly.

  25. I mean, the defense was pretty bad last night, too. Francisco aside, Livan would’ve been out of his “big” inning if he’d just gotten to 1B in time on the double play ball. But he didn’t, and a hit-and-run and bloop single later….

    Also, Diaz probably could’ve caught that fly ball that went for a double, starting off Beachy’s 2nd bad inning.

  26. The weird thing is, I actually recall Livan playing acceptable (at least for his size) defense while pitching against us, and the announcers would mention that he’s a surprisingly good athlete, etc. Either those days passed abruptly, or Livan doesn’t feel like trying for the Braves.

  27. I’m looking forward to the righteous indignation that’s coming (from organization mouthpieces) when the Braves reel off two in a row.

  28. How colossally stupid do you have to be to say something even vaguely complementary about Fidel Castro when you’re a public figure in Miami? How does anybody think it’s a good idea to hire Ozzie Guillen at this point? Yeah, he won a World Series, before he was totally out of his mind. Now all he does is torpedo his own teams. Give me some of that!

  29. Bourn isn’t a great offensive player. He has no power and slightly above average on-base skills. He steals bases and plays great defense. Compared to Nate McLouth and Josh Anderson and Gregor Blanco and everyone else we’ve had in center, he’s a great player. Compared to the value we gave up — a couple of spare arms who were decent prospects but don’t have a ton of upside, and Jordan Schafer — it was a great trade.

    But he doesn’t make our offense a lot better. I think we got overexcited around here because Wren doesn’t make a lot of big deals. But in retrospect, the Bourn trade was a lot more like the Nate McLouth trade than the Javier Vazquez trade. (Or the Jurrjens trade.) We traded stuff we didn’t need for a guy who we hoped would fill the cavernous post-Andruw CF void. Bourn’s a better player than McLouth, but still.

  30. I think Bourne’s fine. He was playing a bit over his head the first half of last year. He’s probably a .280/.340 guy instead of a .300/.365 guy. Houston traded him at peak value.

  31. Bourn has been somewhat disappointing as a hitter. But a great deal of his value lies in his defense, which so far has been very good.

  32. Bourne has been 22-29 in SBs since he has been here, meaning basically he would have produced the same number of runs if he had not attempted a stolen base at all; the 7 extra outs negate the 22 stolen bases.

    I blame Freddie for this one, too. Bourne has had a much higher percentage of success prior to coming here (39-46 for Houston, last year). Bourne did not get slower when he came here, so why the drop-off in success? Because he is running in more situations, which means in more “risky” situations (better catcher at throwing out runners; against pitchers who hold runners better). Smart, numbers managers know who the weaker throwing catchers are and who can and cannot hold a runner on base (Tommie Hanson being the perfect example; I think runners were 22-23 in SBs while he was pitching, last year). The Houston manager was more selective in letting Bourne steal, so his success rate was much higher; Freddie was not as selective with sending Bourne (Freddie didn’t do his homework?), leading to a result where Bourne might as well never steal. How much do you want to bet Freddie is an old school guy who relies on his eyes instead of the data.

    You can scoff at people who rely too much on numbers; this one is a pretty easy one. It really bothers me when we as an organization are more stupid than other organizations. I can take (I guess) a lower budget/payroll, but if you are stuck with that, trying to hire smarter is the next best strategy. I do not think our 2 guys at the top are all that smart, at leats relative to their peers.

  33. 1) 22 for 29 isn’t neutral, it’s slightly better than that
    2) It’s also within the margin of error of his prior SB% — close enough that you cannot discount merely chalking it up to chance
    3) There is absolutely no way to determine whether Bourn is attempting to steal more often in Atlanta because of managerial preference. In fact, it’s likely he had the green light in Houston as well, since he has 88 more SB attempts than any other NL player since 2008.
    4) Even discounting stolen bases, Bourn is, by a significant margin, the best baserunner in the league according to FanGraphs.

  34. Should we avoid trading for good players on bad ball clubs moving forward? Do these guys like Bourn and McLouth just feel to much pressure to produce after being traded?

  35. He could steal more if he could find a way to get on base. I believe his OBP as a Brave is now around the .312 mark.

  36. Kenny Lofton, Quilvio Veras.. but those guys got here and injured their legs.

    It’s like a curse. We are doomed to a front office that covers vroom vroom, and to vroom that doesn’t vroom.

  37. Bourn needs to get better at stealing first base. There’s not just one guy you can point to though. For the last two months of last year, and early this year it’s been the whole damn team that can’t hit. Surely we’re not as bad as this period has shown. Otherwise we’ll lose 120 games.

  38. #11 ‘Im starting to think that a hitting coach has absolutely no bearing on this teams success.’
    You are just now coming to that realization?

    #23 ‘We were fine when TP was the hitting coach, but everybody complained then anyway.’

    So very true. Pendleton could do no right. When the players were hitting all was good. When Andruw continued to pull every pitch and sit on his ass with every upper cut it was TP’s fault. I know, I exaggerate but still.

    A hitting/pitching/bench coach/manager at MLB level has little to do with how well a player does in those individual contests of skill and athleticism that make up the game.

    ‘On the other hand, Liberty/Wren should be ashamed with their handling of the Braves’ offseason. They decided to go cheap instead of spending on the sorely needed quality bat (Beltran) and filled our roster with a bunch of absolute crap (Durbin, Francisco, Hernandez, Wilson) while not doing anything to address the current dead weight (Diaz, Constanza) by giving deserving players (Parraz) a chance. ‘

    Of course you don’t take the budget into account and the very weak trade market for Jurrjens and Prado.

    Finally I simply don’t understand why Durbin is on the team but you can defend the Hernandez acquisition knowing that after a pretty tough spring training Julio Teheran needs more minor league seasoning and that there is no reason to start his major league clock to be a mop up man.

  39. Why the need for Livan though? The Braves have the Lisp and Medlen already in the pen. Theyve never carried 3 long men before. Seems like a good thing to try out with a guy like Todd Redmond. Id much rather have Asencio over Durbin.

  40. This could be a (over)reaction to the pen usage last season. Fredi took a lot of heat for overusing O’Ventbrel last season. A rubber armed innings machine like Livan seems to fit if you want the Lisp to pitch in high leverage early inning situations. And with Beachy and Minor being essentially 6 inning pitchers you use Lisp/Medlen when you’re ahead and Livan if you are behind, I guess. Remember Medlen is coming off of Tommy John surgery. If I am Wren I take a chance on Yohande rather than Durbin. I mean if Flande had failed, guys like Durbin are still out there. Ascecio had too much personal baggage to suit the Brave’s tastes. Maybe he just didn’t fit into the team’s tight clubhouse.

  41. I just dont think Ive ever seen a complete lineup get shut down for periods of time like the Braves do. Its going to be a long season facing Santana, Gio, Lannan, Buerhle, Niese, Lee and all the other lefties on a regular basis.

  42. We were fine when TP was the hitting coach, but everybody complained then anyway.

    Agreed, to some extend. TP received much undeserved blame for Andruw not turning into Willie Mays. All told, he did alright.

  43. Lets go back 6 years and check out the offense.

    2006 –
    Bmac 24HR 93RBI .333/.388/.572
    Laroche 32HR 90RBI .284/.354/.561
    Renteria 14HR 70RBI .293/.361/.436
    Chipper 26HR 86RBI .324/.409/.596
    Andruw 41HR 129RBI .262/.363/.531
    Frenchy 24HR 103RBI .260/.293/.449

  44. @44

    Fredi Gonzalez: “I maybe the WORST manager in Baseball but I deserved to be hired because I also hate Castro!”

    But YES, the Marlins shouldn’t be surprised. Their just idiots for thinking Ozzie was going to tow some sort of “normal” line. PLEASE.

    @63

    Bethany, The difference between the Red Sox and Braves is the Red Sox sent a message to their fans and season ticket holders that one of the most embarrassing finishes in Baseball history would have consequences. Whether the Sawx got rid of or added the correct people or not can of course be debated here and elsewhere. (for example, I think Bobby Valentine is an idiot so I don’t get THAT managerial hire).

    Liberty Media doesn’t give a crap (as long as the payroll doesn’t go up but goes down) and Frank Wren sent a message that despite the OTHER most embarrassing meltdown in baseball history, the Braves were more than happy to bring Frediot back, even though he’s pretty universally hated among Braves fans who can say, draw breath or put one pant leg on at a time.

    Then, Wren made additional offseason mistakes. First he went through NO actual process to seek out a hitting coach. Walker’s name basically showed up in a Bowman blog one day and 5 days later Wren and Frediot were at a press conference with goofy smiles, a Braves jersey, and a guy who is “from Georgia!” woo hoo!

    The cherry on the Wren sundae was going through this entire offseason and not addressing THE most pressing concern – the offense. Wren, instead of doing something about it and having the guts to trade some of our young pitching to improve our infield and/or outfield, then proceeded to recently tell fans that “a full season of Michael Bourn WAS our big offseason addition”. There ya go.

    Complete ineptitude and hopelessness from Liberty Media through Wren and Fredi Gonzalez. It’s like the entire organization is being run by the team that brought you Enron or Blockbuster Video.

    Yes there are 158 games left but really, raise your hand if you suddenly see us winning a ton of games and in first place by mid May or June? Didn’t think so.

  45. What would people think about Francona managing the Braves in 2013? I don’t watch a lot of Red Sox games so I don’t know much about his style, but he seems like a sharp guy.

  46. #71 – Pass. Francona did the absolute worst thing a manager can do. He lost his clubhouse.

  47. Francona wasn’t a successful manager, until he received a roster that had an unlimited payroll. Theer are plenty of other talented options out there. I’d rather give a fresh voice a chance.

  48. Chipper activated. Cant-stand-ya optioned to Gwinnett. So, in a year that we started well and ended poorly, calling up Constanza was the spark plug. It seems logical to ignite the team by sending Constanza down on a year that we start poorly.

  49. From the previous thread: Thanks Smitty for the SI Vault article. I was a Braves fan during those very very bad old days when the franchise was if not the worst but one of the worst run in MLB. The article highlighted a few things for me.
    Just because you have an owner with deep pockets doesn’t mean you will be successful.
    We as Braves fans owe Bobby Cox a lot more than thanks for being the franchise’s greatest manager. For all intents and purposes he layed the foundation of the Brave’s way.
    Yeah some of us are truly disgusted with the current Brave’s way, with good reason. But for an old guy like me that remembers the Butler for Barker trade I’ll take our current level of incompetence any day over what was around back then.

  50. Now if we could only rid ourselves of Diaz, Durbin, and Livan. That, and convincing Fredi that he can use Ross in PH situations.

  51. Mac, it may be time for a new poll or a new tagline. BTW, “this is why we chop” is totally unacceptable.

  52. Someone asked the other day – Fransisco’s options do not reset. If they Braves want to send him to AAA he would have to clear waivers. He’s pretty much here for the rest of the season.

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