Braves 3, Cubs 1

Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs – Box Score – May 08, 2012 – ESPN.

The Braves rebounded some, winning with what beat them the day before — a strong outing from the starter, good relief work, and a few late runs.

The Braves took the lead in the fifth, Jason Heyward tripling and ending a scoreless tie by coming in on Tyler Pastornicky sac fly. Meanwhile, through five Randall Delgado had given up only one hit.

That was too good to last. A leadoff single in the sixth gave way to a two-out double to tie it. Delgado was at 101 pitches and gave way to Eric O’Flaherty.

Kris Medlen relieved O’Flaherty in the seventh and retired three of three batters. Kerry Wood came in and the Braves teed off. Michael Bourn led off with a single, then Martin Prado walked. Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice for the first out, then Brian McCann walked to load the bases. Dan Uggla then singled to score two runs.

The Cubs got a couple of hits off of Jonny Venters in the eighth, but blew their chance with a failed bunt and a GIDP. Craig Kimbrel, typically, had two strikeouts and a popup to get through the ninth easily.

83 thoughts on “Braves 3, Cubs 1”

  1. I agree, Alex. I understand why Pastornicky was given the first shot — he was higher on the org. depth chart, so Andrelton needed to win the job in no uncertain terms in spring traning, and he didn’t manage to do that. And you don’t want to discourage Pastornicky by leapfrogging him.

    But, aside from taking unnecessary injury risks with a young player, I think a team that’s on the playoff bubble (as we seem likely to be) has to put individual player development second to winning ballgames. If Pastornicky ends up giving up 30 runs on defense and we miss the playoffs by a couple of games, while our defensive whiz catches everything in sight in AA….

  2. Pastornicky’s stats belie his talents as a situational hitter. He’s very smart and disciplined.

  3. But, aside from taking unnecessary injury risks with a young player, I think a team that’s on the playoff bubble (as we seem likely to be) has to put individual player development second to winning ballgames. If Pastornicky ends up giving up 30 runs on defense and we miss the playoffs by a couple of games, while our defensive whiz catches everything in sight in AA….

    If Pastornicky “gives up 30 runs on defense” someone needs to recalibrate their defensive metrics.

  4. @3
    How many good to great plays have you seen Pastornicky make? I’ve watched almost every game and I cannot remember one. In my opinion,30 runs is not far off. His range, arm, and speed at which he turns double plays are well-below average. Both baseball reference and fangraphs have him at -10 DRS thus far. In almost every defensive stat, he’s dead last.

  5. #3

    It’s not exactly outside the realm of possibility. I’m dubious about defensive stats, too, but BR’s metric has him at -9 runs already, and FanGraphs says -10. Saying -30 for the season reflects my dubiousness.

    It’s just….look, it’s Chipper’s last season. He has zero lateral range, as does Uggla. Meanwhile, we have above average hitters at every position on the diamond anyway. The one thing we need on our everyday roster is a shortstop with superior defensive range, and Andrelton has, if not the best, then just about the best range of any SS in the minor leagues. And fielding isn’t like hitting — a fielding whiz in the minors is almost always by definition a fielding whiz in the majors from the moment he arrives.

  6. @6 – None. Mostly because I haven’t actually watched that many games this year. I’m on a “only watch if you’re at the stadium” plan this year, having killed my television and refusing to ante up for MLB.TV video that would be blacked out for Atlanta games anyway. So, there’s that. With that said, -30 runs is Garrett Anderson in LF bad, and if Pastornicky is at least making the routine plays he’s not that bad.

    I recognized and acknowledge that most of the defensive metrics have him -9 or -10 so far this season. I attribute that to the weirdness of defensive metrics and small sample sizes. I no more think Tyler Pastornicky is going to continue being -10 runs bad defensively (assuming we believe that number is valid) than I believe Brian LaHair is going to end the season with an OPS+ above 1200.

    @7 – I’m not averse, per se, to bringing up Simmons. With that caveat from above, that even if we take the -10 as a baseline I think of it more of a “defensive slump” than true skill level for Pastornicky, if Simmons demands a position and can bring more value to the team than Pastornicky, I’m happy as a clam to bring him up. With that said, I don’t think a few hot weeks at AA and a glove is a driving argument that that is definitively the case.

    @4 – Because Josh Wilson is a known quantity. At the very least, you want to prove Pastornicky has the skills to cover SS at the major league level (if poorly) and hit well enough to be a valuable player in some respects. Because one day you are going to want to trade him to a team that has a defensive wiz at 3B and 2B and just needs a semi-useful stick at SS in order to clear the position for Simmons. You don’t maximize that potential trade value by demoting him to AAA and starting a journeyman in his place.

    Finally, as a general point of theory, the Braves aren’t going to demote Pastornicky and throw their roster into flux unless he starts to seriously struggle (in ways not measured by defensive runs on Fangraphs, I’m afraid) OR the team starts losing. The Atlanta Braves are not going to rock a ship that’s sailing along in smooth seas, just because dWAR says they maybe, sorta, might oughta should.

  7. If the defensive metrics didn’t match up with my own lyin’ eyes so well, I might think differently. It’s hard for me to call what he’s done defensively as a “slump” when this has been my only exposure to him. For all I know, this is his level of defensive ability. Either way, he’ll have to pick it up, because for all the talk of his unexpectedly competent offense, a .319 OBP ain’t exactly Barry Larkin territory.

  8. Every report we’ve seen from the minors indicates that Pastornicky is a functionally acceptable, if not stellar defender. I don’t think 31 games at the ML level overrides those reports.

  9. How many errors has Pastornicky made thus far, and what type of errors are they (fielding or throwing)?

  10. It certainly calls them into question.

    If Jason Heyward had been called up and hit 150/250/300 for 31 games, would that invalidate his minor league career?

  11. No, but again, hitting and fielding are two different things. Hitting is you vs. the pitcher, and the pitchers get better the higher you climb. Fielding is you vs. the ball, and the ball stays the same. Andruw and Ozzie took years to develop as major league hitters, but when you watched them in the field you saw what they could do right away.

  12. I’ve been a little surprised at the quality of some of Pastornicky’s ABs.

    In the field, though, he reminds me of Blauser, but a tick worse. He’s a little stiff laterally & he’s had some trouble judging line drives hit in his direction (a vision issue? nerves?)

    Modern baseball doesn’t much abide the Mark Belangers, Larry Bowas or Bill Russells of the world, and I get that—but put me down as someone who hates having to ever worry about defense at SS.

  13. He might very well be playing tight — you can see when he fails to make a play that he thinks he should have made it. So he may very well improve. Still, evidence of wizardry is absent so far.

    OK I’ll shut up. It’s not like I’m not rooting for the guy.

  14. Modern baseball doesn’t much abide the Mark Belangers, Larry Bowas or Bill Russells of the world, and I get that—but put me down as someone who hates having to ever worry about defense at SS.

    I’m not mapping this to you personally, but I find this sentiment interesting considering how much vitriol was directed at Alex Gonzalez last year.

  15. Andruw and Ozzie took years to develop as major league hitters, but when you watched them in the field you saw what they could do right away.

    Game-historic defenders are like that. I don’t think anyone is claiming that Pastornicky is a game-historic defender.

    Also, neither of those guys had a whiz kid at AA that had just nearly beaten them out of the position in spring training, nipping at their heals and causing them to worry that their jobs were in jeopardy, either.

  16. -30 runs would be tough. Even Jeter and Yuniesky at their worst only put up numbers in the -20’s.

    I will say that there have been more than a few times Tyler has come up short on plays that I thought a major league shortstop should make.

    I kinda depends on what the Braves shortstop strategy has/should have been for this year. All-glove, poor stick SS like Alex G? Or slightly below average with bat and glove like Tyler? With the current roster construction of the team, I’d have preferred the all-defense guy. But that’s just me.

  17. Remember Alex G is a lot more expensive than Pastornicky. We needed the extra money so we could sign Hernandez and Durbin )-:

  18. I’m not sure, Mike (@23.) I think some of the anti-Pastornicky feedback is a case of the grass being greener on the other side. I suspect that if Simmons was in Atlanta, killing rallies in the bottom half of the lineup with a pitcher-esque OBP but playing stellar defense, while Pastornicky hit for high average/OBP at AAA, we’d see a lot of talk about demotion/promotion going the other way. That’s not to suggest that people are being dishonest when they complain about Pastornicky’s defense. Simply to say that it’s the internet, and we tend to complain about what’s preventing the team from being better, regardless. Thus the “Simmons is hitting well at AA so he could probably hack it at the ML level as well, and play better defense” assumptions without much evidence either way.

    This is a roster decision that is not well illuminated by modern statistics or sabermetric roster construction theory. The guy up here isn’t playing great, but he isn’t killing us. The guy down there isn’t playing badly, but he isn’t Barry Larkin reborn either. There’s no obviously correct answer, and we’re just left to either trust the organization that has every day reports on both of them, or wishcast about calling up the other guy and having him be better just because.

    The internets are not known for trusting the organization.

  19. #21
    Certainly wasn’t directed by me. FWIW, I always stuck up for his defense. He made a lotta terrific plays out there.

  20. It very well may be a case of ‘grass is greener’ for some. And I absolutely agree that there would be those who would complain if Tyler-Simmons were switched. I was pretty clear in stating that a defense-first SS was merely my personal preference. I didn’t even mention Simmons @23 specifically because I know nothing of his defense. I’d have liked to see them sign a good-fielding guy with ML experience is all.

    That said, it’s a moot argument at this point and I think Tyler is doing pretty well for a rookie in May.

  21. 5 — Fun read on Chipper. Generally speaking, I like Jonah Keri’s work.

    I noticed in his book and in this article that he refers to the Braves’ division titles run as 14 of 15. He’s a noted Expos fan. Do other writers refer to it as such? I usually see 14 in a row.

  22. Hudson is dealing tonight. And the infield defense is holding up nicely so far.

  23. I have seen others do that. I guess i’m not enough of a homer but, to be honest, I always felt that the 14 in a row should be with an asterisk because the Braves were not going to win that year. The Expos were pulling away in 1994 and had, I believe, just finished beating up on the Braves when the strike hit. They almost certainly have won that division and they did finish first, albeit in a shortened season (although the Braves would have been the wild card).

    Let’s face it, the Braves benefitted from the strike both in terms of their streak and in terms of the Expos being broken up.

  24. Major League Baseball did not award divisional winner “pennants” in 1994. As such, no one won the division in 1994. As such, the Atlanta Braves won all 14 divisional pennants as awarded by MLB from 1991-2005. To argue otherwise is to be pedantic and confuse calendar years and uncompleted seasons with divisional championships.

    Jonah does that because he’s an Expos fan.

  25. One thing to note is that #38 is entirely consistent with the last line of #37. The Braves did win every division winner pennant from 1991-2005, and part of the reason for that is the timing of the strike. But any crazy streak has some amount of luck in it; we ought not see that we benefited in that way as being a huge criticism.

  26. I think we are going to see more infield shifts than ever before. Tampa Bay and others embracing more and more.

  27. The 1920s Yankees benefited from the Red Sox being owned by a cheap guy more interested in theater than sports. The 1930s Yankees benefited from the fact that the A’s and Browns were basically minor league teams. History is what it is.

  28. @8 – you gave up watching tv? Even the Braves?

    I think – no, I KNOW I could give up drinking before that.

    And whoring.

    (OK, I don’t really whore.)

  29. I don’t get teh cable teevee either. You are out of luck this year for the Braves if so.

  30. errrr I love the Rev too, but not really as a leadoff PH in the 8th inning.

  31. Braves get shutout by a pitcher with a 5+ ERA on get-away-day?


  32. Yeah, I cut the cable and haven’t bothered to get a digital antenna. If I need a TV fix I Netflix shows from three years ago.

  33. The Braves scored four runs in three games against a below-average pitching staff.

  34. There’s that league leading offense for you. I guess you just have to tip your cap.

    Re the streak: I don’t see what I’m saying as a “huge criticism.” I’m just pointing out that they benefitted from the strike. They still had to win those divisions. It’s a fact. I don’t think the fact that Jonah Keri was an Expos fan invalidates the statement.

    It’s simply a personal view-it wasn’t a pure streak because they were in second place when the strike hit. If you want to say they won all 14 division titles awarded during that time period and that, therefore, we should ignore the facts on the ground in 1994, it seems to me that you, Sam, are the one being pedantic. And the US did not lose the Viet Nam War because it wasn’t really a war since Congress didn’t declare it.

  35. The one enjoyable thing after a Braves loss is watching DOB get pissy and attack his Twitter followers.

  36. No offense is great every day. All this sarcasm about ours comes across rather petulant.

  37. I admire Sam and spike and anyone else who refuses to pay for cable. Meanwhile, I’m paying $15.95 for a second HD box. Not a DVR, mind you. Just a box.

  38. Tough loss, yes. But the Cubs have been pitching relatively well of late.

  39. I have the cheap “over the air” package from Dish, which they will only grudgingly admit to actually having, as they are forced to provide it by the FCC.

  40. The offense was bad, and admittedly it was the Cubs, but what I took from the game today is that Hudson is returning to form. That means a lot more than the loss.

  41. No offense is great every day. All this sarcasm about ours comes across rather petulant.

    Amen. One bad day every now and then doesn’t prove that one is right about our above-average offense really being bad.

  42. Grantland had two great articles today. The Chipper article and the Greg Oden piece by Mark Titus. The Oden piece is introspective.

  43. I agree with whoever said the best takeaway from today is Hudson’s performance.

  44. Normally, I don’t bash Fredi’s managing. But, bottom of the 7th, two out, runner on third, in a 0-0 game. The batter is a .370 hitter, who has hit the ball well in this series, and the on deck hitter is hitting .196. Doesn’t an intentional walk cross your mind?

  45. Every time I see that minivan commercial where the family of assholes sings “Crazy Train” I imagine Chipper taking a bat to all their heads. I should be in marketing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *