Braves 7, Cardinals 4

Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Box Score – May 13, 2012 – ESPN.

The offense continues to be impressive, the starting pitching continues to have trouble getting deep into games, and the Braves continue to win,

The Braves had chances to score in the first couple of innings but couldn’t capitalize. Tommy Hanson got in a second-and-third, none-out jam in the first but followed with three strikeouts to get out of it. With two out in the third, Martin Prado singled and Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla walked. Jason Heyward followed with a bases-clearing double for the lead.

It stayed that way for some time, until Hanson gave up a homer leading off the sixth, then two more singles leading to Chad Durbin in the game. He managed to get one out, then Eric O’Flaherty finished the inning.

The Braves got a more comfortable lead in the seventh. With two out, Prado singled in Tyler Pastornicky, then stole second. Freeman doubled in Prado, and Uggla doubled in Freeman to make it 6-1. In the eighth Michael Bourn singled in David Ross to make it 7-1.

With a big lead in the ninth, Fredi tried to get a second inning out of Cristhian Martinez, but he allowed a three-run homer with two out. Jonny Venters came in to get the last out.

273 thoughts on “Braves 7, Cardinals 4”

  1. Cristhian was pitching for third time in 2 days. Likely a mistake for CM to pitch more than one inning today.

  2. Ryan: The way I read the MLB rules, Venters would have needed to pitch at least 1 full inning with a 3-run lead and nobody on base. Had he entered today with a 2-run lead, he would have qualified for the save as the tying run would have been on deck.

  3. My wonderful wife is a professor and statistician, so I ask this question fully cognizant of the difficulty gathering a data set … anyone ever see analysis of the probability of a team making the playoffs or winning the WS with starting pitchers who only average 5-6 innings?

    Happy Mother’s Day to the moms.

  4. No, Venters doesn’t get a save. According to the rule, you have to:

    1. Finish the game
    2. Not be the winning pitcher
    3. Record an out
    4. One of the following: a. Enter the game with at most a three-run lead and pitch at least an inning; b. Enter the game with the tying run on base, at bat or on deck; c. Pitch at least three innings

    He had a three-run lead, but he didn’t pitch a full inning, and the tying run was in the hole, not on deck.

  5. I hope Votto got all that out of his system before facing Delgado tomorrow.

    Re: ongoing rosterbation from previous threads, 4/$44 is too little for Swisher. He’s gonna get paid. I don’t think we can do two quality free agent OFs without dumping more salary somehow.

  6. Ahead 6-3, the Nationals couldn’t close out what would have been their first three-game sweep of the season. The Reds got two runs in the eighth when rookie right fielder Bryce Harper lost Jay Bruce’s two-out fly ball in the lights, letting it fall way behind him for a double.

    DOUBLE YAY!

  7. 7-2 series. Wouldnt have guessed the two losses wouldve come against the Cubs, but thats one awesome road trip.

    What did Harper do?

  8. @18 and 19 Sam has it. Watch video. Looks like a little leaguer who needs glasses

  9. At least ESPN’s Sunday night game is obsessing over a player who has actually done something, unlike last week with Harper.

  10. Just watched. The “diving” catch that the 2b was camped under was just as nice. The 2b looks completely annoyed.

  11. Anyone think Dan Wheeler would be more likely to turn it around than Chad Durbin?

  12. Interesting thought. They are exactly the same age — Wheeler is literally one week younger than Durbin — but Durbin’s career ERA is 5.14 and Wheeler’s is 3.90. Wheeler has had an ERA+ above 100 seven times in his 13-year career; Durbin has done it a grand total of twice. I’d probably rather replace Durbin with Gearrin or Redmond, some in-house option, but I’d trust Wheeler more than Durbin.

  13. Wheeler was DFA’ed recently. He looks like a mess, but if we’re talking about getting rid of Durbin…

  14. Wheeler just got DFA’d today by the Indians. I would take virtually anybody readily available in house or not to replace him, it’s a pretty low bar to clear for me.

    I’d rather have Gearrin, Redmond, Flande, Moylan etc, but Wheeler would be leaps and bounds better than Durbin and provides the ‘veterenness’ that the position apparently requires.

    Wanted to also share that I met quite a few cool Braves folks in Wrigleyville after the games Monday-Wednesday. Some people I met came from Idaho to see Chipper’s last series at Wrigley, from Nebraska, really from all over. I don’t quite remember a lot of it, but it was a really good time.

  15. Re: the hapless Bryce. Losing a ball in the lights ain’t no crime. It can happen to anyone. Too bad for Bryce the replay has him looking like Jesus on the cross, dying for all our sins.

    But laying out for a popup his second baseman was camping under? Now that’s a sight to behold.

    As for our 1/2 game lead, it never feels real to me until we’ve got at least a full game up, so I’ll be looking forward to tomorrow’s results before getting too excited. That said, a 7-2 road trip and sweeping the World Champions (who were only there because of our tragic awfulness), well…that’s kinda nice.

  16. #34: I don’t know if direct linking to MLB video works, but let’s see…

    Here’s Bryce losing the ball in the sky:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=21413817&query=%26game_pk%3D318251

    Here’s Bryce calling off his second baseman who was setting himself up for a routine play, then laying out for a “great catch”. It’s funny: the announcers ridicule Harper, but the copy writers at MLB describe the play thusly: “Bryce Harper dives to make a great catch in right field to rob Todd Frazier of a hit in the bottom of the sixth inning.” Which is an ever-loving absurd appraisal of what actually happened.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=21413817&query=%26game_pk%3D318251

  17. Apparently the MLB links are all generic and point only to their main highlight, which is Votto’s grand slam. Dig around in their highlight archive and you’ll find them.

  18. On 4/26 Dan Wheeler’s ERA was 3.68 after five straight scoreless appearances. He then gave up nine runs in his next four appearances, including 6 runs in one inning yesterday. He was then released.

    After starting out the first three games of the season as terrible as you could imagine, Chad Durbin has dropped his ERA from 18.00 to 7.82. Since 04/04 he has pitched 9.2 innings with an ERA of 4.66. Certainly nothing to get excited about, but yeoman’s work from a rubber armed veteran in the back of the pen, saving the arms of your better, younger guys for later, more important innings.

    Which is not to say one of the AAA arms might not be better than Durbin, but the idea that Wheeler would be “leaps and bounds” better than Durbin is unfounded in reality.

  19. Sometimes I think the comments section here should be renamed “Observation Bias Journal”.

  20. Always glad to do my bit for science, sansho!

    Seriously, Sam’s right about Wheeler not being a dramatic improvement, but when you can’t slice or dice the sata to show a guy better than replacement level, he needs… well, replacing. Gearrin’s probably not going to Cooperstown either, but shouldn’t we at least see if he can handle middle relief in the majors? He’s got nothing left to learn in Gwinnett.

  21. I hate to pull the great internet sin of quoting myself, but I say quite clearly “which is not to say one of the AAA arms might not be better than Durbin” up there. I don’t know why the organization favors Durbin over Redmond or Gearrin. I can either assume it is because they’re either 1) stupid or 2) have some information from the organization that I don’t.

    Whichever of those options you choose, it’s basically a Rorschach on you more than anything else.

    I don’t know why they go with Durbin over Gearrin. I do know that there’s no real evidence to suggest that they should drop a guy that’s been on their roster for a month in order to pick up a guy that just go cut yesterday.

  22. @39

    To be honest, I was just looking for an excuse to use that line. :) To Wheeler’s credit, he does at least have some history of success. He’s actually been pretty good toiling in obscurity (to this NL-only watcher) in Tampa Bay. But he’s only struck out 2 of 61 batters faced this year, so something may be wrong with him.

  23. Durbin could go the rest of the year without giving up a run and people would still be toasting him.

    I’m worried that now it’s time for the Braves usual letdown when they get home after a successful road trip. The Reds aren’t a particularly good team, but they can hit.

  24. I was in Richmond over the weekend attending one nephew’s graduation on Sunday at William and Mary and the other nephew’s girlfriend’s graduation Saturday at Longwood.

    I did manage to see the last few innings of Saturday’s game. Very nice way to end the road trip. Now, if we can just get the Good Randall to show up….

  25. I dont hate Durbin as much as most here, but I am a little concerned that he’s getting the call in more important situations now. He clearly shouldnt be used in any game where the opposing team has the tying run on base or at the plate.

  26. Freeman, Heyward and Uggla are pounding pitches that got them out last year. I have no idea why Bourne, Prado and Diaz are hitting better. Pastornicky tries hard within his limitation. Chipper is Chipper. I am glad Ross got start yesterday as McCann could rest his ankle and other body parts. It is long season and I think Ross should start maybe 1 game in 4.

  27. As a ROOGY, Durbin’s been fine. Clamoring for Wheeler is an absurdly extreme case of grass-is-greener. They’re exactly the same. If you’re looking for some trend to distinguish between these two pitchers who are currently exactly the same, Durbin has been pitching better recently. I know it’s a very small sample size, but it makes more sense to me to look at that than their career numbers. They do show that Wheeler was better, but that’s completely irrelevant now, as Wheeler’s career numbers bare no resemblance to what he currently is.

  28. Wow, we’ve WON more games on the road (14) than we’ve PLAYED at home (13) so far. How’s that for a statistical quirk?

  29. @49

    I’d take a step further and assign Ross to Hudson (better at blocking the sinker in the dirt) AND Sundays against LHP.

  30. Does it make any sense from an organizational pov to keep some young arms in aaa while we can? It seems like we have alot of young, quality arms up from aaa right now. The other great sense of stress on this board seems to emerge from the fact that all will be arb eligible around the same date. If so, why exacerbate the issue by bringing up more if the old, rubber arms are getting the job done (and for now they are).

    Also, if our starting pitchers are not capabale of getting past the 6th inning, someone is going to need to eat up those innings. May as well be Durbin and Livan, though I certainly can see the argument for tossing some new arms into the fire in May rather than September.

  31. @48 – It’s absolutely absurd to characterize anyone here as “clamoring” for Wheeler.

    The conversation began when I asked “Anyone think Dan Wheeler would be more likely to turn it around than Chad Durbin?”

    1.) Dan Wheeler, being a free-agent, could be signed to a minor league deal, so he could be observed and worked with.

    2.) Dan Wheeler has experienced success in his career, and Chad Durbin has been bad every year but one. So one could argue that if you’re carrying dead weight on your team, you might as well carry the guy who is trying to “get it back,” rather than the guy who after 10 years is still trying to “figure it out.”

    3.) Chad Durbin has not been fine as a ROOGY, as established @50.

    4.) Durbin hasn’t given up runs at the alarming rate he had in the early going, but that was completely unsustainable. No one can give up a home run in 7 straight relief appearances. Well, no one in the etnire history of baseball except for Chad Durbin. But BBREF has his WHIP over the last 14 days at 1.750, and for the year it’s 1.895. That doesn’t sound like he’s pitching much better lately.

  32. “They just fought,” manager Mike Matheny said of an Atlanta offense that scored all of its runs with two outs. “They didn’t really back off. They just kept fighting, regardless of the outs, regardless of the count. … It was a nightmare for us.”

    I have never heard someone said that on an Atlanta offense for as long as I can remember!

  33. Sorry Nick but you say that career numbers are irrelevant and you’d rather trust “a very small sample size.” I think Keith Law might have a problem with your line of thinking there.

    I do think that if you replace Durbin (which you should) you do it with one of your many in-house options rather than a similar pitcher from outside the organization.

  34. Average R/G in the NL this year is 4.08.

    Top 5
    STL – 5.50
    ATL – 5.40
    COL – 4.97
    LAD – 4.44
    NYM – 4.29

    Adjusted for park factors of parks where each team has played (home and away):
    ATL – 5.11
    STL – 5.06
    LAD – 4.55
    NYM – 4.47
    COL – 4.30

    Sample size alert: The Ted is playing as a hitter’s park so far in ’12, with a 109 park factor.

  35. I think some of the numbers being better this year is just regression to career averages. (Prado, Uggla, Diaz, Heyward)

  36. And Bourn may be having a career year in a walk year. (Or at least he is off to a hot start)

  37. @35, Amazing. Lost in the shuffle is the absolute laser Ankiel fired off from the warning track to the second baseman. What an arm.

  38. While it may not be 100% accurate to say people are “clamoring” for Wheeler, it’s fair to say people are clamoring to replace Durbin at any cost, including stating that Wheeler would obviously be “leaps and bounds” better than Durbin. So let’s not pretend that there’s not a hard marker in the ground for that position, right?

    For those who are for punting Durbin at any cost – pick your personal favorite replacement from any AAA or free agent option – can you think of *any* reason why the organization might hold a different point of view than you?

  39. I’ve made this point before, but — when so many hitters on one team perform significantly below their norms in the same season only to rebound the following season, you’re not really looking at regression, as “regression” is a phenomenon based on random statistical variation. It implies that there was no particular reason for the team-wide change in performance, when in fact one highly visible change was made. The batting coach.

  40. Walker has received tons of praise but Fletcher has flown under the radar despite many players discussing the video breakdowns of their swings that’s immediately available to them on a daily basis.

  41. Expanding on my previous point — it is possible for an individual batter to hit in bad luck over 600 or so PAs in a sufficient amount to significantly alter his results in a particular season. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it can.

    However, because we’re talking about luck here, it is just as likely that a particular batter will encounter unusually GOOD luck over the course of a season.

    So, if you pick a certain team — say, the 2011 Braves, for instance — and look at their top 14 hitters (say, top 12 in plate appearances, plus {remaining bench}, plus {all pitchers}), the overwhelming, overwhelming (yes, twice for effect) tendency will be for both good and bad luck to be evenly distributed.

    So when you witness a nearly uniform decline in performance over an entire season, followed by a corresponding uniform improvement the following season….well, that ain’t luck.

  42. @63
    If Durbin is now a full fledged roogy, then I cannot see why the org would keep him with Gearrin readily available.

  43. Uggla thru 05/13/2011 – .199/.256/.372
    Pujols thru 05/13/2012 – .196/.234/.275

    Biggest difference is that we owed Uggla $53 mil for the remainder of his deal. Angels have $228 left on Albert, plus these extras.

    ■full no-trade protection
    ■milestone bonuses: $3M for 3,000 hits, $7M for 763 HRs
    ■up to $0.875M annually in award bonuses for Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, All-Star, MVP and WS or LCS MVP
    ■perks: hotel suite on road, luxury suite for Pujols charity for 10 home games each season, right to buy luxury suite between first and third base for all home games

    ■10-year, $10M personal-services contract begins once player contract expires

  44. @64, 68 – During one of the Cards games, Jim Powell made a note about the Braves improved numbers.. He basically said you can throw out Pastornicky and Freeman, because we don’t know them to be any different than they’ve been. Heyward has certainly improved over last year, but hasn’t played any better than he did in his rookie year.

    And then you look at Chipper, Prado, Uggla, and McCann: none of them are playing as well as their career numbers, yet.

    The only player who you could say is “over performing” is Michael Bourn. (You could say Pastornicky if you think he’ll eventually be worse than he’s been.)

    So as good as the offense has been so far, they may not have hit their stride yet.

  45. It’s funny how a month of good results can erase a winter of “how can they just sit there and do nothing after that kind of collapse?!”

    We’re doomed, as they say.

  46. While I was glad they switched batting coaches, I definitely underestimated what the potential impact would be.

  47. @71-Which, looking at it now myself for the first time, Prado and Uggla are basically playing to their career numbers.

  48. Prado and Uggla are playing to their established levels. Chipper is doing about as much as a rational man could hope for out of Chipper these days. To say those three are not “playing as well as their career numbers” is to give away the game (notably that you’re an announcer and you expect everyone to have career years every year, for the home team.)

    McCann is below his career norms and could be a good bounce-back candidate. Bourne is playing above his career norms. Freeman, Heyward and Pastornicky do not have career norms to speak of.

    If every single player locked in and hit a career highs the offense would obviously be better. As it stands right now, this is pretty close to what we should expect or hope for, lest karma smack the shit out of us for getting greedy.

    Fix the starting pitching after Beachy and Hudson, and hold steady with this offense. That will likely win the division.

  49. I am hopeful that Delgado has more confidence coming into this start, given his last one was very solid. Hopefully that wasn’t just a fluke.

  50. @77, Yes, please.

    @76, Delgado’s last two starts have been quite good, but the Phillies and Cubs aren’t hard teams to dominate. I think he’s gonna have his ass handed to him today.

    @75, Fix the starting pitching after Beachy, Hudson, and Hanson, and hold steady with this offense. That will likely win the division.

    Fixed.

    Fangraphs explains why McCann will surely bounce back.

  51. Yeah, McCann has hit a lot of ropes right at people. The shift does seem to be effective against him. To give the statheads their due, I remember reading a couple of years ago that the next statistical revolution to find its way onto the field was going to be defensive positioning. Sure enough, there’s a lot more overshifting going on nowadays.

  52. Im not sure why hitters cant exploit the shift. Brian has to make an effort to use whats given to him. I understand that hitters want to play to their strengths, but you also have to take what the defense is giving you.

  53. •RT @PeterMoylan: 1 more week of long toss then it’s BULLPEN TIME!!!!!!!!! I hope I remember what to do. 38 mins ago

  54. Another week of long toss. Then two weeks of throwing off a mound and simulated games. Then a rehab at Gwinnett. At least a month away.

  55. In other Atlanta related news, Eddie Owens seems to have been fired from Eddie’s Attic Friday night. Not really my scene, but I’m a bit unclear how Eddie’s Attic would run without, well, Eddie.

  56. I sort of kind of understood Durbin as the guy who takes the beating at the end of the pen guy over say Gearin.

    However, Fredi is using Durbin in the Moylan/Gearin Role. I don’t know why you wouldn’t use Gearin in that role until Moylan comes back.

    Baffinling.

  57. We could give Durbin the benefit of the doubt and get rid of his April stats. Well, he sucks in May also.

    April – 9.00ERA 2.13WHIP
    May – 5.70ERA 1.50WHIP

    He has been unhittable in his last 0.2IP though.

  58. Looking at his (very, very limited) ML game log from 2011, Cory Gearrin got hammered when he appeared in back to back games. I don’t see a way to get game logs for his minor league numbers, but if he isn’t effective on back to back games, that significantly reduces his usefulness out of the pen in Atlanta.

  59. Yogi Berra must be writing for ESPN’s website: “it’s no shock Atlanta’s attack is one of 2012’s happy early-season surprises.”

  60. Sam, Chad Durbin has NEVER been good. He’s been lucky. Heck, he was even pedestrian in the Minors. His career Minor League ERA is over 4. His AAA numbers (which account for the bulk amount of time in the Minors) are, at best average. His Major League numbers are terrible and his offspeed stuff and fastball are about 2 mph apart. He’s 34 years old and his velocity is dropping. Every pitcher, with the exception of Junge, at AAA has career numbers better than Durbin did at AAA, are cheaper than Durbin, and they’re younger than Durbin.

    Next?

  61. @92

    Thank you for repeating the obvious to everyone, Ryan. Now, can we go back to asking the deeper question. Why is the obvious not obvious to the organization with the most data, insight and incentive to put the best possible 25-man roster on the field in Atlanta?

    @90

    Obviously still a small sample size, but if he’s getting hit hard in AAA on his second night of usage, that’s a red flag. It’s possible that Gearrin is in AAA until he figures out how to bounce back for a second night of effective relief in a row.

  62. The star of the Cleveland Indians pitching staff has a WHIP of 1.55, but he knows how to win.

  63. @93 Gwinett is a good place for young pitchers to learn their jobs. Experiment with control and new pitches there rather than in Atlanta. Team control is big factor.

  64. @93, It probably is obvious, but the Braves have almost never been ones to admit mistakes and cut bait quickly.

  65. Michael Bourn is at 2.1 fWAR, which already has him as the highest ranking WAR CF from a Brave since Andruw’s 3.7 in ’07. He’s pretty pretty damn good this year through 35 games, obviously.

  66. Would 5/$60 be enough for Bourn? Do you want to be paying a runner with no power during his 33-35 age seasons?

  67. @93
    So what are you asking, Sam? Every AAA player that I mentioned has better numbers than that of Durbin and would be cheaper. Why would the organization have a different opinion than those of actual stats, and while I cannot guarantee it, I’d bet my life savings that any of those pitchers wouldn’t be putting up an ERA close to 8 after 16 games.

    So, let me ask you, why would the Braves have Durbin on the team over any pitcher not named Junge at AAA? Pick your favorite and try to find *any* reason why the organization would have a different opinion.

    My guess: Chad Durbin is a veteraned “good guy”. That’s it.

  68. #102 – Yep. Id take the risk if the Braves can get him at the right value. However, Bourn will have a large market to choose from this offseason.

  69. @101 Is it better to have to be rubber arm 12th man or pitch regularly in Gwinnett? How soon will the Australian be back? He may be the option Wren is waiting for.

  70. Ryan, here’s the thing, right? I don’t know. The difference between me and you is I say “I don’t know” and then try to figure out why someone would do something that I can’t quite piece together from the raw stats, while you are satisfied to casually dismiss the roster decisions of professionals who are literally paid and incented to make the best call there as base stupidity and meaningless devotion to “veteraned ‘good guys.'”

    To put it bluntly, I find your position to be full of the worst kind of blind, assumptive, mindless hubris that gives every anti-sabermetric doofus in the world an easy model for their preferred strawmen.

    I don’t think the Atlanta Braves are run by stupid men.

    I don’t think the Atlanta Braves are intentionally fielding a team worse than the best they think they can muster.

    I don’t know why they think Chad Durbin’s a better option than their AAA pitchers, but unlike you, I’m not quite ready to declare myself king of the internet and issue decrees by which my super-smart self demands the idiots who are paid to make these decisions bend to my perfect will.

  71. I’m going to enjoy Bourn this year and McCann this year and next, because I will be highly surprised if either is around longer than that.

  72. With the kind of walk year Bourn is putting together, I don’t think 5/$60 million gets him. He probably won’t quite make $100 million, but he’ll be closer to that than to $60.

  73. @100
    Looking at some of the best basestealers of their time (Brock, Rickey, Lofton, Coleman, Butler), the numbers seems to start tapering off at 30, but are still strong.

    Brock is the only one of the above mentioned that got better with age.

    Rickey’s game seemed to develop more power therefore decreasing his chances to steal.

    Coleman is tough because he stopped receiving regular playing time in his late 20’s. His lack of steals coincide with his lack of PT.

    Lofton might be a good player to use as comparison. At 31, Lofton was still swipings sacks at a 5 to 1 rate and ended with 54sb. Then, at 32, his steals dwindled down into the 25-30 range per year with a slight increase in his CS rate.

    Now Butler on the other hand basically stayed the same his entire career. Being built of the same frame, both playing CF, and both being LH, he might be the best player to simulate Bourn’s age 30-34 seasons. Let’s compare numbers:

    162 game average…
    Butler (age 25-29): 44SB 21CS
    Butler (age 30-34): 42SB 21CS
    Butler (age 35-39): 41SB 17CS

    Essentially the same player. I’d take Bourn for 5 years.

  74. @101 – ‘So, let me ask you, why would the Braves have Durbin on the team over any pitcher not named Junge at AAA?’

    Here are some reasons:
    1. Middle relievers are fungible.
    2. Young pitching prospects are not. The young pitchers the team has in the minors represents both potential replacements for our best relievers and potential trade bait. Their value goes down if the Braves start their service clock pitching them in low leverage middle innings.
    3. The Braves scouted Durbin and figured he could pitch one or two low leverage innings without hurting the team too much.
    4. The Braves have ‘promoted’ the Lisp to a more prominent role in the bullpen. Durbin/Hernandez take his and George Sherril’s roles from last season.
    5. The same scouts that determined that Durbin was good enough, determined that the minor league guys would benefit from more seasoning in the minors.
    6. The most valid criticism of Fredi Gonzalez’s first campaign was his over use of O’Ventbrel. To prevent that from happening again Frank Wren acquired a couple of rubber armed fungible veterans.

    I am sure that there will be a ton of statistical evidence coming to refute my thoughts.

  75. @111
    No stats, just common sense. Durbin has pitched high leverage innings in numerous outings.

  76. I say Moylan is back in two weeks if he throws well on his rehab assignment. Who will move in to whipping boy status then?

    – Pastornicky
    – Minor
    – Wilson
    – Uggla
    – Diaz
    – Hanson
    – Fredi
    – Chip
    – Joe Simspon
    – Glavine

  77. @106
    Once again, your lack of human decency completey overrides anything intelligent you might have to say.

    Signing a player like Durbin, who’s never been a successful Major Leaguer, only a lucky one, is mindless. Why did the Braves do it? Don’t know. Was it stupid? Absolutely. Are the Braves ran by stupid people? No. Are intellegent people capable of making stupid decisions? You should be able to answer that with the insults you pass around like communion wine.

    The strawman thing again, huh? Raise your hand if Sam’s called you a strawman before.

    ~King of the Internet

  78. And the fact that he’s managed to do that without losing ball games shall be summarily ignored.

  79. I’ll add “failure to read for comprehension” to your list of negative attributes. I never called you a strawman. I said your hubris facilitates the strawmen constructed by people who would lob stupid criticisms of sabermetrics. It’s pretty clearly stated, too.

  80. The problem is that Durbin’s making more than the minimum and getting high-leverage outings (not most of them, but any are really too many). I accept that you need bullpen spackle to get through the long season, but even spackle has standards.

    I think it was a bit of a panic move, and while it doesn’t negate an otherwise fine job of roster construction, it still squeaks and calls for attention.

  81. @117

    1) I like the phrase “even spackle has standards.” Nicely done.

    2) Out of ST the only other options was Flande, and he’s been starting in AAA. I’d rather be developing Flande as a starter and using questionable grade spackle for mop up in the bigs.

    3) The other option, Gearrin, is simply not treated as an option by the organization for some reason. I think we might be onto something with the poor results on second days of work, but that’s still mostly guess work. Regardless, the organization knows something about Cory Gearrin that we don’t know.

  82. while it doesn’t negate an otherwise fine job of roster construction, it still squeaks and calls for attention.

    Especially when it’s part of a trend. The Braves’ FO may not be stupid on the whole, but this tendency to acquire relatively expensive and poor-performing veteran arms when better ones exist in the minors to round out the bullpen is stupid.

    I feel OK saying “when better ones exist in the minors” not because I have special knowledge of this particular case, Durbin vs Gearrin, but because we’ve seen in proven for us enough of the time in past seasons.

    So far, though, I can’t complain too loudly about Livan. Sherrill was OK too. I think the Braves could be suffering from some selection bias, what with the occasional success they’ve had with reclamation projects in years past.

  83. The thing about middle relievers is that a) they break, and b) they generally don’t have trade value. Cory Gearrin and Todd Redmond will probably never have greater value on the trade market than they do to this Atlanta Braves team. By the time they have exhausted their years of team control, they will probably have surgically ragged arms — like Peter Moylan.

    Sam, I’m not king of the internet, so I don’t know for sure, but here’s my Occam’s Razor guesstimate of how we got saddled with Chad Durbin.

    First, the Braves were a little uncertain about the back of their bullpen, because the pitching rotation had so many injury question marks to start the year: Hudson, Hanson, Jurrjens. Fredi could count on O’Medventbrel, but the back of the pen was a little uncertain.

    Second, the Braves really like adding a “veteran arm” for the back of the pen, just in case, and often more than one. Examples: Tanyon Sturtze, Mike Remlinger as a 40-year old, Scott Proctor, Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill, Livan Hernandez. (Sometimes their preference for veterans works out spectacularly well, as with Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito.)

    Third, because Durbin has been around for 13 years, his salary has increased a fair amount. He hit a peak of $2.1 million in 2010, after his only legitimately good season in 2008. Then he sucked, and so the Indians had him for $800,000 in 2011. The Braves increased his salary just a tick to get him for this year. If you wanted a Chad Durbin, that’s what you were going to have to pay.

    Fourth, because Chad Durbin is making $900,000, the Braves are loath to dump him immediately. It’s not just a matter of sunk cost: if Durbin was legitimately worth $900,000, then it would be ludicrous to throw away a million-dollar investment because he had a bad month. Instead you’d simply try to give him low-leverage innings so that he could find his touch again and justify your investment.

    My guess is that the Braves signed Chad Durbin because they like veteran relief arms. They paid a premium, because veterans cost more than team-controlled rookies. But that premium makes them unwilling to cut him.

    I wish the Braves didn’t like veteran relief arms so much — Saito and Wagner worked out, but they were the exception. The Braves have a habit of paying too much for crappy bullpen mopup guys in their 30s — and by too much, I mean $500,000 to $1.5 million — when they could simply plug in minor league relievers, who might be equally as crappy but would indisputably be less expensive.

    Anyway, that’s my assumption: I think that they’re sticking with Durbin because of his salary. I don’t think any of the above is implausible; in fact, I think it’s the most probable explanation, and it’s probably the one that you’d proffer if asked. In other words, I think it’s pretty likely that the Braves aren’t hanging onto Durbin because they have incredibly amazing secret information that says that he’s good. It’s because they’re locked into an assumption that they made a month and a half ago that turned out to be incorrect.

  84. I never said you called me a strawman. It’s just one of your words that you like to use when internet taunting. I guess you have to get off some way.

  85. Gearrin, it bears repeating, has struck out 20, walked four, and given up three earned runs in 18.2 IP this season. The back-to-back night thing is grasping at straws.

  86. Saito had a career ERA+ of 218, and 193 for the year previous. Wagner’s numbers were even better. There is no way the thought process of deciding to sign those two was anything close to that which went into Durbin. Or at least I really hope not.

  87. So, I was gonna come in and say the problem with Durbin (other than, why is he even on the team, I’m with ryan on that one) is the way Fredi’s using him. Too high-leverage. But I went ahead and ran the numbers, and that’s not really true. Durbin’s pLI is 0.72, second to last among relievers on the team (Martinez is dead last at 0.54, which I think reflects Fredi’s penchant for using him for multiple innings), and solidly below average for MLB relievers this season. Not a true garbage timer (which is all he’s good for, if in fact he’s good for anything), but quite a bit better than Proctor’s 1.04 pLI last season.

    Fredi has definitely been bringing him in in some bad spots, but in the aggregate, he’s using him about as well as you can use a lousy reliever. I think my overall impression to the contrary is a case of confirmation bias.

  88. On trade value/control years of AAA pitchers: Other than Teheran, there’s not a single pitcher that has any trade value at AAA, or that the Braves should be worrying about starting their arb-clock. Rice, Russell, Junge, Hughes, Redmond, Carlyle, Cordier, Varvaro and Flande have seen their way through more than just the Braves system. If they had any trade value, they would have been held by the previous system they were in. Group them all together and you might be able to acquire Francoeur at the deadline.

  89. Has Durbin been responsible for any losses the games he pitched poorly? His best pitching has been in high leverage situations. That may not be true forever.
    Fredi does not have to worry about burning his arm out like he would for younger pitcher. Wren is looking at the future.

  90. Re: Durbin. He’s this year’s Scott “Rusty” Linebrink. In my opinion, you don’t replace a Linebrink with another Linebrink.

    Maybe we can trade Jurrjens to the Reds for Hoover?

  91. Ok, no one has brought up Asencio. We let him go for nothing. He’s pitched 20 innings for Cleveland with good peripherals (almost a K per inning and a 1.15 WHIP). He’s pitching Durbin innings for Cleveland and doing it more effectively. If the Braves were/are worried about the future, why would they give Asencio away to spend 400k more on Durbin? Asencio would have been a dirt cheap reliever for 2 more years. In May, Asencio has given up 2 hits and 2 walks in 8.2 innings.

  92. @7: I hope you’re happy because this took me longer than I thought. To recap, what is the probability of making the playoffs or winning the world series as a function of the average length of starts for your starting pitcher. using the Retrosheet database for games since 2000, I have created two logit equations as a function of an index of your averqage starting pitcher outings to the MLB average. Thus, if your starters went the same distance as the average team, your index is 100.

    A team at 100 has about a 25 percent chance of making the playoffs and about a 2.4 percent chance of winning the World Series. A team at 90 has about an 11.4 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 0.6 percent chance of winning the World Series. A team at 110 has about a 46.5 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 9.5 percent chance of winning the World Series.

    For statistics junkies, the standard error of index is 6.2, so there are only a handful of teams above 110 (11) or below 90(25).

    I am really digging Retrosheet.

  93. At the end of the thread, I have a one word answer that explains Durbin: JimFregosi. I also nominate JimFregosi as the new whipping boy.

  94. Here’s what Josh Hamilton should demand:

    A one-year deal paying the highest salary in the league.

    And next year the same.

    And next year the same.

    One year at a time.

    Best for him and the Rangers (which is where he should stay).

    If anyone ever needed the psychological checks and balances to be in place, he does.

  95. Re: Durbin. He’s this year’s Scott “Rusty” Linebrink. In my opinion, you don’t replace a Linebrink with another Linebrink.

    Durbin’s one season with the Braves won’t be as good as Linebrink’s 105 ERA+ in over 54 innings was in 2011.

  96. Right. It didn’t seem worth belaboring the point, but Durbin is this year’s Proctor, not this year’s Linebrink.

  97. Hanson is literally going to drive me crazy.

    My earlier suggestion that Fredi should just pencil in:

    Hanson for five.
    Medlen for four.
    Braves win.
    Rest of bullpen rested.

    justhank lives longer.

    This.

  98. Yeah, it’s not really Fredi’s fault that he’s had to use Durbin in some high-leverage situations. To say he should never do so denies the reality that baseball games, especially competitive ones that beget high-leverage situations in the first place, are open-ended propositions, and he has limited available options. As Anon21 shows, Durbin’s typical outing is low leverage. But if you completely ignore him when games are close, it has a cascading effect on the wear and tear on our better relievers. I actually think Fredi has done a great job managing the unfortunately large number of innings the pen has had to pitch so far.

  99. @138
    I agree. Durbin has pitched in a few spots that I’d have rather seen someone else, but I’m not too down on Fredi’s bullpen usage thus far this year.

  100. Tommy has throw 44.2 innings in 35 games. That means he’s on pace to pitch roughly 207 innings this season if he can stay healthy.

    He’s been a bit hit-unlucky, a bit lucky with runners on, better at limiting home runs, and he is walking more batters and getting fewer Ks. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want more from him, but I’ll take it.

  101. @142 – Love the facial hair and love his second inning. God that was some beautiful corner painting. He got favorable calls but he earned them with sharp command, and the curve to end it was impressive. Best I’ve seem from him so far.

  102. The runner was already standing on second when Pastornicky tossed the ball. Awful.

  103. Pastor Nicky may find himself without a flock if his leather work remains hellish.

  104. I think Tyler will be a 2b or 3b sometime in the next few years. maybe he should get a look in Cf

  105. Smitty, the problem is that his bat will only carry SS unless he takes a significant step forward.

  106. Its laughable that some still think that Hanson is the biggest concern in our rotation. He’s probably in the bottom 10 in run support.

    We better not lose because of that error.

  107. Tyler better learn how to play 2nd if he wants to survive in the bigs long term.

  108. Bourne is earning himself a very big payday next year. Prado hardly deserves an RBI for that run.

  109. “Standing ovation a Turner Field!” (for turning a routine fly ball into a “spectacular catch.”)

  110. The question now may be: Does Minor pitch a public fit if he’s the one sent down when/if Jurrjens is recalled?

  111. Can someone explain what “high-leverage” means? I keep seeing that word used a lot lately, and it seems synonymous with Durbin.

  112. High-leverage means a situation in which the probability of winning or losing the game is significantly greater than for most of the game. The plate appearance at the end of the 7th was a good example of the kind of high-leverage, important situation that should be entrusted to your better pitchers, and which Fredi entrusted to Chad Durbin to appease the octopus in his head.

  113. Got the out. Don’t lose one of your good pitchers due to him coming up to bat 3rd this inning.

  114. Prepare for the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    It’s comical how Sam pretends as if Durbin is pitching lights-out and people are still irrationally hating on him; when the reality is a 7.82 ERA, 49 ERA+, 1.895 WHIP and five home runs given up in 13 innings. Oh, and a bad major league career that should already be over.

  115. Its the 7th and a tie game. With venters and kimbrel availbale you dont use Durbin.

  116. Terrible piece of hitting by Hinske. 3-0, playing for base runners and he damn near grounds into a double play. He need not have the green light right there IMO

  117. Fredi’s response would be that he’s going to let his veteran, who is hitting nearly .360, swing when he wants.

  118. Half inch more and that’s a double past Votto with Pastornicky scoring form 1B and everyone loves giving Hinske the green light.

  119. To be clear, I’m arguing the Durbin line because no one else here will even attempt to think outside of that box. I’m arguing the Hinske line because you give your LH thumper off the bench the green light there. He just missed a double and the go-ahead RBI.

  120. Sam, the Durbin box has about ten different warning labels on it. There’s no justification for opening that box unless it’s the 14th inning or a meteor hit the ‘pen. (I will concede that you should give Hinske his head, though.)

  121. Our bullpen just doesn’t have it this year (at the least the formerly good pitchers)

  122. Get the win and Delgado won’t care*. He and his team knows he turned in a hell of a performance today.

    *Well, Mike Minor might care, because it’s his ass that’s going back to AAA if he doesn’t get his shit together before Jurrjens or Teheran put it together for another shot at the rotation.

  123. Mr. Venters and the strike zone have too many arguments like today’s. He’d be almost unbeatable if he had better control.

  124. Venters, Kimbrel, and O’Flaherty were superhuman last season. People on here talked about inevitable regression/decline last year, but no one seems to believe it. Well, here it is.

    @197, Just because no one agrees with you on Durbin doesn’t mean that none of us have thought about it at all. In fact, as wonderfully stated @120, we’re all too familiar with the argument in favor. It’s just not compelling.

  125. I’m sort of excited to see Aroldis coming up. I feel like I’m about to witness an execution.

  126. Playing (poorly) for one run when you’re down two: The Jack Wilson Story.

  127. Wouldve been nice to see Freeman there and not Wilson. At least he thought it was a good idea to play for one run down 2. He sucks.

  128. That’s not fair to Lockhart, Smitty. Gilderoy could hit for a little while.

  129. As I said, Wilson is the worst ballplayer I’ve ever watched.

    Wasn’t around for the infamous Lockhart, but what about:

    Corky Miller
    Greg Norton
    Ruben Gotay
    Craig Wilson
    Scott Thorman
    Todd Pratt
    Melky Cabrera
    Diory Hernandez

    Wilson is in that list now.

  130. Winning a division title, much less multiple ones, with Lockhart on the team is just a testimate to how good Greg Maddux was.

  131. maybe we.could trade mccann to the yankees for some authentic new york pizza and a Derek Jeter game used jock strap

  132. 101-mph pitch high and tight… there are reasons I don’t play this game even aside from lack of ability.

  133. This has been tonight’s presentation of Dr. Strangefat, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love… er, Not Be Completely Disgusted By Livan Hernandez.

  134. I was about to say I hope Diaz is willing to take some pitches here and he tries bunting a ball head high.

  135. Works for me, Bethany. And the Padres lost to Washington, so there goes first place.

  136. What did Fredi do? Did Freeman get hurt? Why was Wilson hitting at the 3 spot at the end?

  137. Freddie left with blurred vision.

    As a type 1 diabetic, I say–check his blood sugar!

  138. There were so many options available which could have batted in the eight instead of Jack freaking Wilson. Way to go Fredi.

  139. Oh well, get them tomorrow. I do despise the Reds though. That was pretty weak against Homer Bailey. He ain’t really good.

    A win tomorrow splits the “series”!!

  140. Just read the CAC article on infield defense and ERA/FIP. Now starting to sway toward the Andrelton side of the SS argument. Today’s game didn’t help matters in that regard.

  141. Saw the replay on the error by T-Pas. Ugly play by the rookie, but why was Uggla wandering around behind second like a panhandler that just clocked out for the day?

  142. Each time we’ve begun a day with a share of first place, we’ve lost.

    It’s like a whole team of Tommy Hanson’s.

  143. #259 – There was two outs and the runners were moving. The play is to 1st and unfortunately Tyler was the only one who didnt know that.

  144. In Pastornicky’s defense on the play tonight, he has his eye on the ball, not the runners, and the default play is to second base. It’s Uggla’s job to provide the override info and tell him to go to first. Joe Simpson provided that pertinent nugget.

  145. It was kinda weird both how quickly the runner got to 2B and how Uggla had just decided not to cover the bag there. Ultimately, it wasn’t the difference in the game. That was the horrible clutch hitting. Guess making up for some of the very nice clutch hitting the Braves have had lately. ^_^

  146. The Braves swept the Rockies at the Coors and swept the Cards at the Busch…and I thought they should win every single game at home. I guess not.

  147. @265

    We should change the name to Paps Blue Ribbon Field. We would go undefeated

  148. I blame Fredi for the loss. How can Fredi keep running out a pitcher whose teammates refuse to score any runs for? Delgado obviously does not know how to win. Ask Joe Morgan about that.

  149. @268. Delgado is no Derek Lowe. You all finally understand what’s more important? Win or ERA? Lowe is a winner…A WINNER!!!! He is worth every cent of the 60m contract!!!

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