Braves 4, Dodgers 2

Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – Box Score – April 25, 2012 — ESPN.

Hey-o! The Braves looked completely dead, but Brian McCann ignited a ninth-inning rally by lining a freaking single off of Javy Guerra’s freaking face, and they ended up winning by two. (Freeman, McCann, Uggla, Chipper, and Heyward combined for five consecutive singles and three runs.)

Brandon Beachy pitched another pretty good game (2 runs, 7 hits, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk in 6 1/3 innings), but he made a mistake to Kemp, who looks like the best player in the majors this season, and with the Braves’ bats looking like they often do against the Ted Lillies of the world, that seemed like it was going to be enough to give the Braves a loss. Prior to the ninth inning, Atlanta had managed only five baserunners (four hits and a walk), with the only run coming when Uggla drove Freeman in with a two-out single in the fourth inning.

For a minute, it looked like the Braves might get to sneak out with a rain-shortened win, but LA tied it in the bottom of the fifth and took the lead an inning later on the massive homer from Kemp, and then the rain pretty much stopped, so they had to play it out.

I thought this was an annoying game to watch — it was a rainy getaway night in a mostly-empty stadium; the Braves kept hitting warning-track flies; Fredi was doing Fredi things like bringing Dumpster Fire Durbin into a one-run game with a guy on base and real hitters due up; and of course, it felt like a loss for several innings — but it ended up being a nice win and a really nice road trip.

Venters and Kimbrel — six batters faced; five strikeouts — were dominant yet again. As for the other bullpen, given Guerra’s struggles and the new dent in his face, I suspect that Kenley Jansen is going to be a popular waiver-wire pick-up in fantasy leagues.

Anyway, the Braves get a richly-deserved day off tomorrow, and then a home series against the even-more-hapless-than-usual Pirates starts on Friday, with Hanson on the hill. I’m looking for a dominant effort from Tommy.

Finally, cheers to the recovering Mac, who is currently high as a kite.

Author: Stu

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I've been married since July 17, 2004 to my beautiful wife, who also doubles as my best friend. We have an almost-three-years-old Boston Terrier named Lucy who's also pretty awesome. My wife and I both graduated from Vanderbilt University in May of 2004. I graduated from Law School at the University of Georgia in May of 2007 and am now practicing in Nashville, Tennessee. I really, really love the Atlanta Braves.

170 thoughts on “Braves 4, Dodgers 2”

  1. Great work, Stu!

    Things to be optimistic about: Fredi had a quick hook for Durbin, which isn’t quite as good as never bringing him in but is far better than the alternative…
    Freeman had a couple hits, Uggla had a couple hits, Pastornicky had a hit and an HBP, so Jack Wilson will stay on the bench.

    O’Ventbrel faced seven hitters and struck out six of them.

  2. While watching it live and the various replays after, I thought maybe he got the glove up there and deflected it ever so slightly. But after watching that recycle like 10 times, I’m pretty sure that ball got no part of the glove.

  3. Helluva win.

    Nothing like coming back & beating the other team’s closer, especially on getaway day. This one’ll keep us glowing ’til Friday.

    Four at home vs. the Pirates. No let-up, fellas…

  4. Gotta feel bad for JJ, seems to be a good guy. Hopefully he can turn it around.
    From DOB:

    He called his parents Carl and Esther Jurrjens in Curacao in the wee hours Monday night, not wanting them to hear about it through the media first.
    “It’s a little heartbreaking when you make your dad cry for the wrong reasons,” Jurrjens said. “It’s just going to make me push myself when I’m down here to get back up there and put that smile back on his face. It (stinks) when you let your family down a little bit,” Jurrjens said.

  5. @6, That’s the saddest thing ever. I really want him to succeed again.

    Nice write-up, Stu.

  6. I think it’s amazing that pitchers don’t have line drives hit at them every other inning.

  7. What’s not to like about JJ? He has been great ever since we got him from the Tigers. I am sure he will be fine again.

  8. Awesome win and awesome recap, Stu! Get better soon, Mac, I hope the drugs are doing their job.

    @3 I also thought he got the glove up when I watched the condensed game, but yeah, looks like he got it right in the face.

  9. Although deep down I might’ve wanted to see Mac take a shot at a recap in his current state, very nice work, Stu.

    Baseball. We are good at it this year.

  10. last night’s game from my point of view….

    I coach a high school baseball team and we won our district championship yesterday so the head coach and I celebrated by going to a gentleman’s club. One of the TVs had the game on and I was sneaking a peek here and there. That insane diving stop by Chipper and the pick by Freeman made me jump out of my seat and pump my fist. Then I got distracted by the nakedness and whatnot .. then I turned back to the TV and I see Francisco up to bat and we’re up 4-2. ?!?!?!

    good times

  11. #12 Congratulations on your championship.

    Stu – excellent writeup.

    I read the DOB interview with Jair. That kid is handling himself with class and professionalism, I am rooting for him to turn it all around.

  12. @13, Me too. I hope he can turn it around.

    Maybe people will stop putting the shift on McCann so he doesn’t have to kill their pitcher.

    Good write up Stu.

  13. Pardon me, is it Jawy Guerra now? Cheap shot by me. If JJ is not injured, he needs to pitch every 5th day to get his form back.

  14. So I went to bed going to the top of the ninth. Did I miss anything? Baseball, you are an implacable beast.

  15. I still like Jair Jurrjens more than I like Tommy Hanson. I really hope he turns it around, though I know the detailed case against his chances already.

  16. @20 – How many sac bunts this year? Do you feel Venters and Kimbrel have been overworked to date? Was sending JJ to AAA a bad move?

    It’s like upgrading from a Yugo to a Gremlin, but it’s progress.

  17. And I really like the way he has been handling chipper. They are baby steps, but there are some improvements.

  18. He’s also hitting-and-running with Jack Wilson, consistently bringing Livan and Durbin into tight games, starting Francisco over Heyward (thereby worsening three defensive positions), absolutely failing in pinch-hitting strategy, etc.

    He has nothing to do with Jurrjens getting shipped out. And as for reliever overuse, if the Braves hadn’t put together so many blowouts so early, Venters and Kimbrel would be in more games. Venters has already been in two out-of-hand games “to get work,” and IIRC, Kimbrel had one of those, too.

  19. The only criticism of Fredi Gonzalez with real staying power is that of his overuse of EOF, Venters and Kimbrel last year. The other complaints are mostly just tactical onesie-twosie noise from chatterbots more interested in complaining for complaining’s sake than anything else, IMHO. The bunts last year were 1) and attempt to deal with really bad performances from his offensive players and 2) due to odd and unlikley-to-repeat game situations. If his offense had scored him some runs, he wouldn’t have had to try to create so many with low-probability moves like bunts and such. If Jason Heyward had not sucked all year, he wouldn’t have been asked to bunt.

    Stick to criticizing bullpen usage, which he seems to have taken the lesson on this year (early returns.)

  20. Whatever. You’re irrational about this. Francisco has started “over Heyward” twice. Once in Houston, when Fredi was clearly most interested in seeing what he had in Francisco (who had been acquired very, very late in spring training) and once in Arizona. And the AZ start doesn’t really qualify as “over Heyward” so much as “at 3B on getaway day.”

    Those two games are the only two games Heyward hasn’t started and played a full nine. That comes out to about one game off for Heyward every 10 games, which is actually pretty wise of his manager given his injury history and the preference to have him hale and healthy for the stretch run.

    Fredi has been managing Heyward well this year. The fact that you hate him irrationally doesn’t change that.

  21. I agree with you that giving Heyward that day off in Houston was pretty silly, Stu, but out of curiosity, given that it’s unrealistic to expect Heyward to play in 162 games, what is your preferred alignment when he does get a day off? Not a lot of great options there.

  22. Yeah, Heyward has to get days off, but that really needs to not be happening when Chipper’s out of the line-up. And that Houston game was the fourth of the season, so it’s not like Heyward needed the break, yet.

    And if Heyward has to have a day off while Chipper’s out (like when he’s on the DL), I would at least like to see Prado at third and Hinske in left — bad LF defense is better than bad 3B defense.

  23. Out of the hospital, resting at home. Actually, I’m not doing anything different than I had been the last couple of weeks, but I feel better. Hopefully I will be up for some actual food later today.

  24. Bad 3B defense results in singles. Bad LF defense results in doubles and triples. What you’re saying, basically, is that Juan Francisco should never, ever start. That doesn’t seem reasonable to me.

  25. I was at a Braves game last season and saw Fredi put on the squeeze bunt with Hanson at the plate and McCann on third base. I haven’t seen anything quite that stupid this season. That’s improvement, I guess.

    Someone alluded to this earlier in the thread…at lot of the things that Fredi looked bad on last year are what happens at the intersection of overmanaging and a putrid offense. A little extra offense can work wonders for a manager’s reputation. He is getting that so far this season.

  26. No. I’m saying he should never start when Heyward is out. When you’re already worsening your RF defense, and you know you’re playing Prado somewhere, it makes no sense to play Prado at his worst position in order to play a crappy defensive 3B.

    Also, without even considering traditional notions of positional defensive importance, when Pastornicky is at short and Bourn is in center, yes, you probably need to be more concerned about 3B defense than about LF defense.

    As for the specific game in question. A lefty was on the mound and Chipper was hurt, so the choices were (a) Prado at third, Diaz in left, Heyward in right; (b) Francisco at third, Prado in left, Diaz in right; or (c) Prado at third, Hinske in left, Diaz in right. While I will grant that B and C are debatable, there’s just no excuse for not choosing A in the fourth freaking game of the season.

  27. The Hanson bunt was notably horrific in all aspects of things. Hanson presents a manager with a difficult choice at the plate, as he is so bloody inept with the bat that it’s almost hard to believe he’s ever played baseball in his life. I have no problem asking Hanson to bunt. Hell, I might ask him to bunt every at bat, just to see if he could ever get reasonable good at it. (It’s not like you’d be losing a productive at bat anyway.) Hanging a base runner out to dry by suicide squeezing on a Hanson at bat was a bad idea, and should never ever be done again.

  28. I have two complaints of Fredi, one of Frank Wren at this point.

    Most Important:
    David Ross should never be left on the bench in a one run losing effort. Especially if Jack Wilson hits in that game.

    Still Important:
    Wren – allowing Durbin to be on this team
    Fredi – for using Durbin in any circumstance where the game is still undecided.

  29. Again, the start in Houston was almost certainly an attempt to get a feel for the player that he had no experience with, moreso than tactical lineup considerations.

  30. Since the game was in the middle of the night I didn’t get to see it. But if the Dodger fans did boo Guerra they are as bad as Phillies and Mets fans.

  31. 38—Yes, I understand that, but his failure to understand basic tactical considerations led him to do it in a game where he was resting Heyward against a lefty rather than in a game where it would have made a lot more sense to do so.

  32. I doubt it’s “failure to understand basic tactical considerations,” so much as “the manager doesn’t believe his players are as useless and one-dimensionally cardboard as you.”

  33. I’m useful, made of flesh and bones, and exist in the third dimension.

    As for Fredi’s bliefs, whatever they are, they certainly don’t invalidate the suggestion that he lacks understanding.

  34. Here’s what (all) that I know.

    After an 0-4 start, the Braves are playing .750 baseball, and looking like the team they were in June and July of last year. Heyward is having a bounce back year, and the bullpen is looking scary dominant and not terribly overused.

    Now, if you told me that this would be despite JJ being shipped to Gwinnett, Hanson having his velocity resting at 92 at tops, and Chipper still wrestling with knee issues, I would have asked which of his drugs did Mac give you.

    And yes, it was a lot easier watching those West Coast games when it was Murph and Horner playing than it is now with Heyward and Freeman. I suspect that the Earth’s rotation has been thrown off-kilter, causing these problems and not because I’m no longer 20.

  35. While I generally agree that Heyward should be on the field whenever he can, I think it’s also important to realize that there are concerns other than what the optimal lineup/defense is when choosing who gets to play. In a vacuum, there’s nothing wrong with Heyward sitting that day for one reason or another besides “how can we put the 8 players out there who will be most likely to get a victory TODAY”. I’m willing to give Fredi the benefit of the doubt there, but I understand if others are not.

  36. As for Fredi’s bliefs, whatever they are, they certainly don’t invalidate the suggestion that he lacks understanding.

    You repeating your assumptions don’t actually make a cogent argument, ya know. Here’s a hint: disagreeing with your conclusions doesn’t indicate a “lack of understanding.” It indicates a disagreement on conclusion. And considering the fact that the manager 1) has actual people to manage in a human environment, 2) has more information available to him as to status and availability of those people than you ever will, and 3) is actually doing a pretty good job so far this year, I’m not sure why we should take your opinion over his.

    I mean, except that maybe you saw a probability chart on Fangraphs or something, I guess.

  37. That’s a fair point; I guess I’ve just seen ample reason not to give Fredi any benefit of any doubt.

    Had Bobby done the same thing, I doubt I would’ve fussed at all.

  38. 45—1) and 2) are certainly true; 3) is your still-yet-to-be–factually-backed-up opinion, and I’m not sure why I should take it over mine.

  39. But your refusal to even grant the possibility of 3) is a classic example of confirmation bias at work, right? You think Fredi’s stupid. So any time Fredi does something you disagree with or something that works out poorly, you take it as exemplification of his stupidity. But all the times that Fredi does something that you agree with, you ignore it; and if Fredi does something you disagree with that actually *works* you look past it as “success despite Fredi being stupid.”

    You’ve set up a perfectly closed circle where nothing can ever convince you that Fredi is anything but “an idiot.”

    Fredi Gonzalez’ job is to manage his team’s personnel over the stretch of 162 games such that they win 85+ games and make the post-season. His performance in that regard last year was quite successful, until the last month of the season when it all fell to shit. His performance this season has been quite successful (his team should be leading the division, if not for absurdly out-of-bounds performances by Washington’s pitching staff to date.)

    Now, we shouldn’t write off the collapse of 2011 by any means. That is all on Fredi’s head, IMHO. Much of it is directly attributable to his overuse of the bullpen early on last year (the one point that I agree we should always remember and keep a weather eye on.) And by every image I saw last Aug/Sept, he lost the clubhouse too. So he’s rightly on notice and his position is far less secure today than it was last year. But none of that is what you talk about when you criticize him as “an idiot.” All you do is point to decisions you don’t like – many of which are perfectly defensible in their own right – and use that dislike to fuel your already existing bias against the man.

    That makes no sense to me.

  40. 3) is actually doing a pretty good job so far this year

    Are you measuring this by wins or something else?

  41. Let’s not get too confident here. The Pirates’ offense is indeed pretty hapless, but their pitchers have plenty of hap. They’ve only allowed 2.83 runs per game, against a fairly tough schedule.

  42. I don’t know of any other metric to measure a manager’s output by than wins, Spike. I know it’s not perfect, but at the end of the day, the guy is tasked with managing a baseball team to wins.

  43. You shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that because you are unable to convince me that Fredi’s not terrible, I cannot be convinced that Fredi’s not terrible. I know your thing is to go around the internet, arguing with people on all sides of all issues, but I just don’t find your approach, not to mention your analysis, particularly persuasive.

    Believe it or not, I’m aware of some positive things Fredi does. I simply don’t think they’re anywhere close in number to the negatives. (Obviously, both are outnumbered by the neutrals.) I’m also hopeful that the more public and widespread the articulate and rational criticisms of Fredi become, the greater our chances of getting someone competent in the job.

    (It’s funny — I actually really like Fredi The Guy, and was always happy with the notion, when he was coaching here under Bobby, that he’d eventually be the successor. I even overlooked some of the red flags with the Marlins and the extremely bogus nature of his hiring, because I was excited to have him back on my team. But, then I started watching him every night, and his active idiocy became apparent, and I now want him gone. I’d love it if he could stick around as Fredi The Guy in a lesser role, but I know that’s not going to be possible.)

  44. Actually, everyone is right in this Fredi argument.

    There is no doubt the Houston game was a total screw up. And any time Durbin is in the game, unless we are up a touchdown, is a bad call.

    However, I feel like a manager’s in game moves win or lose you 5-6 games a year. So far Fredi has only lost us one.

    Really, the way a manager handles the locker room is the biggest job he has. Last year Fredi did a poor job of that in September and we fell apart.

    In total I think Fredi cost us around 6-8 games last year, counting on and off the field stuff. He was the ultimate reason we didn’t make the playoffs.

    I will take what we have gotten from him so foar this year. It is an improvement, but there was no where to go but up.

  45. Also, we’ll have to endure the inevitable 12-for-16, five-HR, 15-RBI series from Nate McLouth.

  46. The lack of editing capability is driving me crazy. I have become so reliant on it. I have typos everywhere. I’m about to punch my computer.

  47. I know your thing is to go around the internet, arguing with people on all sides of all issues, but I just don’t find your approach, not to mention your analysis, particularly persuasive.

    A moral failure on your part, I’m sure.

  48. JH was 2 for 10 going into 4th game. sittimg down did not hurt him. I would like to sit McCann more often as Ross is good, McCann is best catcher in baseball.

  49. It didnt hurt to sit Heyward, but there was zero reason to do it. He started Fransisco, another LH’d batter, and sacrificed defense at multiple positions to do it.

  50. Heyward sat on Monday, April 9, and then again on Sunday, April 16. I’m not sure how many ST games he’d played in a row before the season started, but a rotation of rest every second weekend isn’t problematic.

  51. Good write-up, Stu.

    It seems almost like Fredi is trying to sneak Durbin into games and back out before anyone realizes he’s out there.

    For some reason, it reminds me of how he would bring in Proctor last year to face only the opposing pitcher (Did that make Proctor a POOGY?).

  52. Interesting Mets note: Today is the first game since 1971 that they have fielded an entire 1-9 lineup that came up through their system.

    Another one: This year so far, the Mets are 0 for 15 with the bases-loaded. Ike Davis has contributed four times to that stat.

    Interesting Pirates Note: In 18 games, they’ve scored 41 runs (.594 team OPS); they also have a 2.58 team ERA. Someone needs to tell the Bucs that we’ve entered the live-ball era.

    Interesting Braves Note: At this pace, we’ll win 102 games, which should make us a solid WC team, behind the Nats’ 126.

    If this team hits—we’re currently 3rd in NL OPS—we’ll win.

  53. Smitty,

    How do you conclude that Fredi lost us “6-8 games last year, counting on and off the field stuff?” Where do you get that figure and what is the “off the field stuff” to which you refer?

    The problem with determining a manager’s influence in particular games is that good moves can go wrong and bad moves can work out. So a team can lose even though the manager makes the right move or win because or in spite of the manager making the wrong move. Unless you can say a particular move specifically cost the team the game, it seems to me just sheer speculation. The most you can say, I believe, is that particular move incresed or decreased the probability of winning. Now, perhaps you can look at the pythagoren record for a given manager and use that as a proxy for managerial ability as AAR did a couple of weeks ago, but there are simply too many factors in a baseball game to say that one particular factor cost the team the game. Basically, teams lose games because they score less runs than the other team. This happens for a number of reasons independent of anything the manager does, primarily involving poor performance by the players. I’m not saying the manager has no influence on a game or a season but it’s far less than the players. I suspect that if Fredi Gonzalez had been managing the Yankees of the 1930s and 40s, he would have won just as many games and championships as Joe McCarthy, unless he decided that Babe Ruth was too fat and benched him in favor of Contanza’s grandfather.

  54. I read the DOB interview with Jair. That kid is handling himself with class and professionalism, I am rooting for him to turn it all around.

    Nice to see Jurrjens not pull a Francoeur.

  55. It seems almost like Fredi is trying to sneak Durbin into games and back out before anyone realizes he’s out there.

    I’m no great fan of Chad Durbin. I’m as confused by his spot on the roster as anyone (though admittedly, the knowledge that the franchise wanted to convert Flande to a starter makes that move a *little* more reasonable.) With that rather huge caveat, let me take a swing at a limited defense of Durbin’s usage:

    1. If you’re going to have a guy on the roster, you have to use him. Carrying him as a roster spot that doesn’t get used is just pointless.

    2. If you’re going to use Durbin, you want to use him *earlier* rather than later. That is to say, if you’re in a one or two run game and need to go one of your middle relievers early, you want to bring Durbin in first. This optimizes the chances that you’ll win the game. If he succeeds, he’s gotten you through another inning and you can move on to the next reliever as game play dictates. If he fails, you have AS MANY INNINGS AS POSSIBLE to make up the extra runs he just gave up. This is why you go to Durbin ahead of Medlen in the early innings. (Also, Medlen used to have an inability to go on back to back days out of the pen, which also primes more Durbin usage than you would otherwise like to see.)

  56. @63

    “unless he decided that Babe Ruth was too fat and benched him in favor of Contanza’s grandfather”

    I laughed so hard at that that some of the sandwich in my mouth at the time ended up on my desk.

  57. It looks like the people who made the editing plugin sold to some other people who may want money or something to provide a functioning product. I’m not clear. If it comes to it, I’ll try to find a substitute.

  58. As much as the Durbin acquisition confused me I’ll ask this question. Whose arm do you want to blow up first, Durbin, Flande, Gearrin, O’Flaherty, Medlen, Venters or Martinez? I pick Durbin.

    #63 – Give it up Mark. The line of thinking for a lot of folks here is:
    The team is playing well and winning despite Fredi.
    The team is sucking and losing because of Fredi.

    Never mind that baseball is a series of small athletic matchups that pit batter vs pitcher + 8 defenders where just plain dumb luck, good or bad can determine the outcome. Never mind that we aren’t privy to the physical and mental condition of the players nor are we usually knowledgeable of individual matchup statistics or scouting information that determines a managerial decision, if it doesn’t work its Fredi’s fault, if it works Fredi got lucky with a dumb decision.

  59. @65 – 1. If you’re going to have a guy on the roster, you have to use him. Carrying him as a roster spot that doesn’t get used is just pointless.

    If the guy in question actively hurts the team, and you can’t find a replacement-level pitcher to take his spot, then not using that roster spot is definitely preferable to having him pitch just to keep the spot warm. No wins are much better than negative wins.

    2. If you’re going to use Durbin, you want to use him *earlier* rather than later.

    Don’t use Durbin. Just don’t do it. Absolutely, positively, do not use Durbin. Mop-up duty is fine if, by some ill stroke of fate you owe the worthless sack $900,000 on a major league contract and can’t get rid of him, but anything else is just insanity. Bringing him in to close games with runners on base is extreme insanity.

  60. Watching the highlights of last night’s game on the Braves official site, I noticed Chip, in his inimitable style (he’s such a pro), call Uggla’s first RBI in the game thus: “he got a hanger and he banged it.”

    To which I say, insert your Bibi Jones jokes here, please . . .

  61. @63

    I would say in the month of September when we blew a 10 game lead, he probably could have done more to calm the locker room. There was a lot of talk about that in the offseason.

    Plus, the way he rode O’Ventrable all year really hurt in the end. Maybe he should have stayed with the starters longer earlier in the season, who knows.

    I just feel like if Bobby was managing last year, we make the playoffs.

  62. I will say that I see some improvement in Fredi this year. He looks like he has learned a lesson from his overuse of certain relievers last year.

    Also, his team has not blown a 10-game lead for the wild card this year.

  63. How f***ing dare anyone out there make fun of Fredi after all he has been through. He lost Constanza, team went through a melted down last season, has to deal with fan mockery. His General Manager brought in losers, but all you people care about is winning and well-managed ballgames. He’s a human! Why don’t you realize Fredi is bringing out the best of the Braves, and all you people do is write a bunch of crap about him. Leave him alone.


  64. I will say this. Fredi is a way better manager when the team is playing well. And I don’t mean that in the normal team-making-him-look-good-vs.-team-making-him-look-bad kind of way. When the team is playing well, he genuinely makes better moves, I think. The moves he makes tend to make sense in the context of the game, and tend to be the right ones. When we’re playing poorly, he starts desperately grasping through the proverbial bag of tricks, and not only do random hit-and-runs not help, but they don’t exactly project a calm demeanor to your team. So in other words, I think Fredi maximizes however we’re playing at a given time. The collapse last year being a pretty good example of the negative side of that.

  65. Don’t use Durbin. Just don’t do it. Absolutely, positively, do not use Durbin.

    How do you square this position against the fact that Chad Durbin has ben essentially cromnulent in his last five appearances?

  66. All this arguing about Fredi….

    Sheesh, the year is still early, and let’s see how Fredi handles things as we go along to see if he’s improving or not. Bobby was never the guy you wanted making the critical moves either, if I recall correctly, but he had the ability to shoulder the load for the team to allow them the chance to relax and win.

    Let’s see if Fredi can do that, and if he can, I’ll live with the occasional weirdness.

  67. we will have a much better feel for this team on May 31st. Next month looks brutal series against the Phils, the rays the surprising nats and 2 against the cards.

  68. @75 – Results != performance. I didn’t see the game last night, but my 4AM perusal of the box score said 7 pitches, 1 strike for the Durb. Not cromulent. I think it was the Sunday game in AZ when he came in for the sixth with runners on 1st and 2nd and had his ass saved by a nice running grab by Bourn on a line drive to left center. Lucky as hell.

    Any pitcher, through completely random variation, can go 3.1 innings over 5 appearances and give up no runs. Heck, even Scott Proctor went 3.1 innings without giving up a run between June 8th and 14th last year. Unfortunately for us all, Fredi took note and we were treated to 26 more visits to the Proctologist after that.

  69. @79 Not giving Kemp a ball to hit may be wise for anybody, surely wise for Durbin. FWIW Durbin bears no responsibility for any of the loses. I expect team control of your arms is a factor. 7th pen arm gets too little work to improve.

  70. Results != performance. I didn’t see the game last night, but my 4AM perusal of the box score said 7 pitches, 1 strike for the Durb. Not cromulent. I think it was the Sunday game in AZ when he came in for the sixth with runners on 1st and 2nd and had his ass saved by a nice running grab by Bourn on a line drive to left center. Lucky as hell.

    So you are not a believer in the randomness of BABIP?

  71. The last rotation spot came down to, what, Flande, Redmond, Jairo Ascensio or Durbin, right?

    Flande was apparently being converted to a starter. He’s best sent to Richmond.

    Redmond, I don’t know. It’s possible he was just sent down for no reason. Or he could have told the club that he’d prefer to start in AAA and hopefully get traded to another franchise who could use him in that role, rather than be a middle relief arm in the Bigs. Who knows? Not me. And not you.

    Ascensio isn’t notably better than Chad Durbin, and had already been sold to Cleveland.

    So you get Durbin, ML reliever retread.

  72. @75, 83 – Sam, be real here, Durbin sucks. Over his scoreless last 3.1 IP, he’s also given up 3 hits and 2 walks – anything can happen over the short run but allowing in excess of 1.5 baserunners per inning is a recipe for badness.

    Speaking of, Durbin’s career line: 5.12 ERA / 1.52 WHIP. Chad Durbin, a profile in suck.

  73. @82 – Ah, didn’t realize the walk was to Kemp. That’s fairly understandable, but the role of Official Intentional Walker is just about precisely as valuable to a bullpen as the POOGY role which Parish @61 correctly points out that Proctor served in last year.

  74. As I said above, I’m not really a big Chad Durbin fan. But someone has to be the last guy out of the pen, and our last guy out of the pen is Chad Durbin. And occasionally, that guy is going to have to pitch in less than blowout conditions. Look at it this way:

    The Nationals are carrying Tom Gorzelanny and Brad Lidge.
    The Mets are carrying Miguel Bautista and Manny Acosta.
    The Phillies are carrying Kyle Kendrick and Jose Contreras.
    The Marlins are carrying Edward Mujica and Mike Dunn.

    That’s just the NL East. The point is, every team in baseball has a couple of questionable guys in the back end of their bullpen. The Braves have Livian and The Chad.

    Apparently “fungible” relievers aren’t so fungible as we might think.

    And if they’re on the roster, they are going to get used occasionally, and occasionally, that will be in a spot where the game is not already decided.

  75. In a bad bullpen, Durbin wouldn’t be very noticable. Just another guy. In a bullpen as good as the Braves’, though, he sticks out very much.

  76. We’re playing .632 ball & for some reason, we’re arguing about the last guy in the bullpen. It really is an off-day.

    Go Devils.

  77. @89: “We’re playing .632 ball & for some reason, we’re arguing about the last guy in the bullpen.”

    I tried to change the subject to Uggla’s off-the-field activities. Nobody bit.


    The line of thinking for a lot of folks here is:
    The team is playing well and winning despite Fredi.
    The team is sucking and losing because of Fredi.
    Never mind that baseball is a series of small athletic matchups that pit batter vs pitcher + 8 defenders where just plain dumb luck, good or bad can determine the outcome. Never mind that we aren’t privy to the physical and mental condition of the players nor are we usually knowledgeable of individual matchup statistics or scouting information that determines a managerial decision, if it doesn’t work its Fredi’s fault, if it works Fredi got lucky with a dumb decision.

    This is a fine caricature, but it’s not really accurate. What this boils down to, as I noted, is the benefit-of-the-doubt thing, mentioned by mravery.

    The guy has a (brief, admittedly) history of idiotic moves. The overuse of stud relievers in blowouts, the Hanson-McCann squeeze tandem, the Jack Wilson as a hit-and-run artist, etc. These are obviously stupid. There’s no physical condition in McCann or Hanson that would make them fast and coordinated with the bat, respectively. There’s no emotional condition in Jack Wilson that would empower him to hit like a hitter. There’s no match-up advantage that justifies using Jonny Venters with a 7-run lead, or whatever.

    So, then you have moves (the Heyward-Francisco debacle, the use of Durbin, pinch-hitting Francisco instead of Freeman, etc.) that, maybe if you squint, or maybe if you have all this extra info about mental and physical states, you could understand — but when you remember that this guy has proven himself to be dense on the easy things noted above, you figure that the most likely explanation is, in fact, that he’s just continuing to be dense.

  79. OK, wanna hear some really questionable managing?

    Ozzie Guillen just sat on his hands & watched Heath Bell throw 45 pitches & blow a 2-1 9th inning lead vs. the Mets, by walking 4 guys to tie it, then giving up a GWRBI to Nieuwenhuis.

    Break up the Mets. They just swept the Marlins.

  80. But…but… I was told the Marlins were going to the World Series. They signed Jose Reyes! I was TOLD!!

  81. Also, seriously, how hilarious is it that, more than once last season, Scott Proctor was brought into a game just to face the opposing pitcher? Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation that comes with having a nine week-old, but I’m just sitting here, thinking about Proctor’s POOGYness and finding it deliriously funny.

    This is a thing that actually happened, right? It’s one of the funniest situations I can recall ever seeing in any aspect of my life.

  82. Wow, some really good debate on here. While we are certainly bored of things to discuss considering it’s an off-day, and our team is playing well, the debate over manager importance has certainly been hashed out by some smart folks here. I think, at the end of the day, Smitty said it well that it’s the manager’s job to promote a culture of excellence and winning, and I don’t know if or how you can quantify or articulate that. Probably why they are hired and fired with such arbitrarity and are treated like fungible commodities.

    However, certain tactical moves are beyond defensible. Chad Durbin should not be on this roster, and if he HAS to be, then his role should be limited. There are plenty of meaningless innings (meaning they have to be pitched, and they won’t decide the outcome) that he can pitch that can allow him to have some “success” and eat lots of innings, and a tie game in the middle innings is not one of them. Yes, you have time to make up for what runs he allows, but that already tells you all you need to know about Durbin, and still puts you in a bad situation. Why bother? Just don’t use him! You can probably win in most weeks using a 24 useful man roster, and that’s exactly what the Braves have. Just keep him off the field.

    As for optimal lineups, the manager certainly has influence over what he throws out there. However, sometimes the right lineup is not the right lineup due to a variety of reasons, not always reasons we are privy to. If we picking apart individual games where this guy got a start over that guy, then it probably means he hasn’t done anything egregious to justify wrath.

    Good debate though, guys, and I appreciate it.

  83. I remember the Hanson/Hinske squeeze idea from last year. Did he try it with Hanson/McCann this season?

  84. How many of Durbin’s appearances have been in games that are already out of hand, for good or bad? If the Braves play 100 games where they’re up by 3 or 4 runs and Chad Durbin makes 100 appearances in those games, I go no problem with that.

  85. If we picking apart individual games where this guy got a start over that guy, then it probably means he hasn’t done anything egregious to justify wrath.

    Well, I think if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, the “egregious” thing Fredi did to “justify wrath” was play Constanza over Heyward last year. The fact that Constanza played well during those starts (hot hand, yadda yadda yadda) and Heyward was pathetically awful at the time shall not be considered relevant or valid.

  86. I don’t think Fredi is a great manager by any means. But I think any fan can find stupid moves by 100% of MLB managers. Just read the blogs for other teams-no fan base, that I can see, really likes their manager, even the successful teams. The fact is that, while athletes grow stronger and more capable, and coaches in other sports become better and use technology to improve their coaching, baseball managers, by and large, still manage pretty much the way they did in the 1950s, except for obviously using more relief pitchers. Davey Johnson may be an exception but I bet you could go to almost any team and find the fans criticizing their manager for the same kind of things that Fredi does. Maybe Fredi is worse than other managers–Keith Law thought so last year-but he isn’t that far outside the normal distribution of stupid managing.

  87. Maybe Fredi is worse than other managers–Keith Law thought so last year-but he isn’t that far outside the normal distribution of stupid managing.

    Can you quantify this claim? Because if you can, then I won’t waste my time trying.

  88. @101 – So far, Durbin has entered games in the following states:

    Appearance#, Inning, Base Runners, Outs, Score
    1.) 7b — 0 out down 1
    2.) 8b — 0 out down 3
    3.) 9t — 0 out ahead 6
    4.) 7t — 0 out ahead 5
    5.) 8b 12- 1 out ahead 7
    6.) 6b 12- 1 out down 2
    7.) 8b 1-3 1 out down 5
    8.) 7b 1– 1 out down 1

    Four of his eight appearances have come with the Braves still “in” the game (down 3 runs or less). 50%…not good.

  89. Keith Law thinks many things. Some of them are not made up randomly on site, as he’s answering his Twitter feed.

  90. Four of his eight appearances have come with the Braves still “in” the game (down 3 runs or less).

    Two of those four were in the first week of the season, again when Fredi and McDowell were almost certainly trying to see what Durbin had to offer the team since they had no real chance to see him in spring.

  91. FWIW, until last season, Flande has been exclusively a starting pitcher. Last year he pitched in 33 games, starting 19 of them. He was probably only tried in the pen last year to see if he caught fire and could fill a role in the big league pen, just like Hoover was.

    Also, he’s 26.

    So sending him down to “convert him into a starter” which implies the club likes his arm, and sees a brighter future for him than last man in the pen, isn’t quite accurate.

    More accurately, making a reliever of him would be an attempt to salvage value from a failed prospect who has already been released once at the AA level.

    Think of him as a lefty Lisp.

  92. @102 – This is extremely well-trodden ground, so I’m loathe to discuss the issue anymore, but “The fact that Constanza played well during those starts” is just complete revisionism. From August 17th til season’s end (more than half of his time with big team), Constanza put up a sizzling .170/.204/.170 line and Fredi continued to use him, as a starter as late as September 6th and as a regular pinch hitter/”defensive replacement” until the bitter end. The whole ridiculous “Constanza should start over sucky Heyward” argument was at least superficially defensible until then, after which continued use of Constanza did indeed “justify wrath.”

  93. @108 – He’s been in the league for more than 13 years during which he’s logged over 700 innings. If Fredi and McDowell didn’t know what he had to offer the team by that point, then it could only have been due to willful ignorance. The man has a long, long track record of being bad at his job.

  94. Venters was a starter through age 24. Converted to relief in spring of his age 25 season.

  95. Cristhian Martinez, now 30, was a starter in the minors until age 27. At age 28, the Braves signed him and made a reliever of him in both his minor and major league roles.

    He’d be a good comp, and a pleasant outcome, for Flande.

  96. Durbin would probably have been one of the better relief pitchers for the Braves in the first half of 2006.

  97. Some girl is offering this year’s Mr. Irrelevant a night alone with her. Crazy alert here, but she ain’t too bad looking…

  98. I mean, I’d definitely have to take her crazy level into consideration here. Just saying that it’s not a clear yes or no in this instance…

  99. #121 – There’s probably a good chance that “Mr Irrelevant” wouldnt be playing football much longer if he took her up on the offer. He would probably have some more serious issues that would need addressing.

  100. @130- Ha! I liked the guy, as much as you can like someone you’ve never met based solely on their internet presence, but I admit I was a little curious about how his bedside manner would play as well.

  101. Thank you, thank you.

    My phone changed something into “olds” but I don’t know what I meant to say… “Dares” maybe?

  102. @134, Agreed, off days suck. People get so feisty. Fortunately, I spent mine with a hand on the plow. Nothing like simple pleasures.

    I guess that does mean that they do care, though. So there is that.

    /Go Braves!

  103. #140
    Gotta punt on that one. Been an absolute pleasure to watch both guys play.

    Actually, Brodeur turns 40 on Sunday, same day as Game 4 vs. Philly.

    BTW, I gotta say, there’s nothing like an NHL playoff Game 7 that sees your team go into OT. And double OT like tonight? Sheer torture.

    But, whew. Somehow the Devils win the last 2 games in OT. Survive and advance. Bring on the Flyers…

  104. Way to duck my loaded question ububba. Just kidding. Even with baseball being my favorite sport by far, I would still say there’s nothing better in sports than Game 7 OT playoff hockey. Especially with a rooting interest.

    Henrique is such a stud, loved watching that guy since I saw him in the World Juniors.

  105. no fan base, that I can see, really likes their manager

    I liked our last manager. Yankees fans liked Torre, Boston fans liked Francona, and I bet Tigers fans like Leyland. Gibson is popular in Arizona, I presume. Scioscia (or whatever his name spells like) is doing alright with the Angels. Rangers, Rays, the list goes on.

  106. Heading to Eugene, Oregon for a few days. Are there any fellow beer snobs that have a suggested microbrewery to visit while I’m there?

  107. You will find many irrational fans who wanted Francona fired, and he was. Madden certainly has his critics here in St. Pete as well, I can assure you.

    When Torre was in his division-winning drought, people were calling for his head.

    Managers are criticized more irrationally than players, it seems. I suppose they learn to have thick skin.

  108. @105,

    You’re right Adam, I can’t quantify it so the statement is obviously not valid.

    Lots of people didn’t like Bobby Cox, Torre became much less popular, and I have seen Angels fans complaining about Scioscia.

  109. No mention of the refusal to use Ross as a pinch hitter? Disappointing.

    @146. I’m a different Adam, but I’ll take this one. You asserted a claim, thus the burden of proof is on you. You may well be right in the end. But how can we know that without evidence? For the other possibility is that you might be wrong, and my impulse is that you probably are.

  110. On a lighter note – how ’bout those Bobcats/ 23 straight to end the year! That takes some doing.

  111. I’ve missed a lot of games this year. I finally got fed up enough to jailbreak my iPhone so I can spoof my location. We’ll see how it works tonight.

  112. Worst owner? No, Ted Steptien (Cavs owner in the late 70s who traded away every first round draft pick for washed up veterans) is still the worst owner ever.

  113. Every time you feel the desire to whack-a-mole on Juan Francisco, tell yourself “Brandon Inge is lurking out there in the woods.”

  114. Inge was a good player at one time and could be 3rd catcher. Would he take minor league contract?

  115. All Brandon Inge brings to the table is glove work at 3B. His OPS last year was .548. That’s not a SLG%. That’s his OPS. He makes Alex Gonzalez look useful by comparison.

  116. “As the group walked up to the hotel doors, Young started yelling anti-Semitic epithets.”

    Perhaps he spent the offseason training with Mel Gibson.

  117. I don’t disagree with the point of that column. I basically take everything that a baseball person says with a grain of salt, whether they’re talking about stats, strategy, or potential trades. They are deliberately trained in platitudes, deception, and obfuscation.

    So I don’t mind that Fredi doesn’t talk about advanced stats in his pressers. By all accounts, he is conscious of advanced stats and has indicated publicly that he isn’t averse to them — unlike some broadcasters.

    What I mind about Fredi is the specific decisions that he makes in baseball games. They are frequently questionable, and they frequently do not work out to the Braves’ advantage.

    The bullpen thing has been beaten to death, and you’ve already criticized Fredi on that, so I’ll move on. Likewise, I will leave alone the stupid bunting thing, where he asks his number two hitter to bunt the leadoff man to second. And I will not mention last year’s collapse, which we all know about.

    As a general matter, I wish Fredi did a better job with his situational substitutions, both relief and pinch hitting. I especially wish he’d be more willing to use David Ross. More generally, his substitutions seem to suggest that he doesn’t think of leverage in the same way we do. He seems to think of leverage in terms of what inning it is. Obviously, the inning isn’t irrelevant. But he doesn’t seem to take game situation into account as much as I’d like.

    I don’t particularly care what Fredi says. I care what he does. This team has a great deal of talent, and in a little over a year, Fredi’s Braves are 101-80. But I don’t know how much worse they’d be under a different manager, which is the counterfactual that would demonstrate how much Fredi actually adds to the team. Using the data I mentioned the other day, I believe that the data conclusively shows that Bobby Cox made his players better. I’m not sure that Fredi Gonzalez does.

    I don’t think that Fredi is the worst manager in baseball. But I don’t think he’s a good one. Obviously, what I think is a lot less important than what the players think. If they believe in him, then they’ll play well for him, and they’ll probably win a fair amount, despite his suboptimal bullpen use and bunting tactics. If they don’t play well, that won’t be proof that Fredi deserves the blame, but considering last year, it would be fairly compelling circumstantial evidence.

    Right now, I’m feeling pretty great about being 12-3 in our last 15 games, and I’m flying high. I’m feeling starved for baseball. Just 5 more hours now.

  118. To be honest, I was surprised to see Wilson go in as a pinch runner for BMac in the ninth inning Wednesday night. I thought Ross would sit on the shelf forever. But that was the right move. Who knows? Maybe Fredi’s loosening up?

    Go, Braves!

  119. The desire to see Ross as a PH ignores the fact that he’s the backup catcher, and the fact that catchers take massive beatings behind the plate and can be injured on *any pitch.* It also presumes that the “emergency catcher” is not actually an emergency option, but just a third option that is equally available as Ross or McCann.

    Ross doesn’t PH, and the starting catcher is not PR for except in true game-on-the-line, ninth inning scenarios, because Matt Diaz would be a horror behind the plate and you don’t put him there unless BOTH of your catchers gets hurt in the same game.

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