Braves 2 Batavia Muckdogs 0

We all knew the Braves had a bunch of streaky hitters. The hope was they wouldn’t all go cold at once and someone would be able to carry the team for a week or so at a time.

So far that person has been Justin Upton.

Over the last week Upton has started off his Brave tenure at a McGriffian like pace. No word if the Turner Field press box is on fire.

Upton went four for four, two runs scored and falling just a triple short of the cycle. Between innings he was selling hotdogs and beer.

Paul Maholm pitched arguably his best game as a Brave throwing seven innings of one hit ball. He dominated the worst lineup in the National League. Kimbrel struggled in the ninth, but picked up the save.

Very quietly Juan Francisco (.300 Ave) and Chris Johnson (.438 OBP) are both off to nice starts. If those guys keep hitting, we will be okay.

Oh, there is a good chance the Miami Heat could beat the Marlins at baseball.

215 thoughts on “Braves 2 Batavia Muckdogs 0”

  1. Right. Let’s keep a little perspective. We have yet to play against a contending team.

    I’m looking forward to this weekend.

  2. Heard during the broadcast: “Let’s go Heat! Let’s go Heat!”

    Really liked Kimbrel just being like, “Screw it” and just throwing fastballs by Hechevarria.

  3. Seasons cannot be won in the first couple of weeks, but they can be lost

    Long may this continue, as there will come a time when things don’t work out

  4. Don’t forget about Freeman’s hot start either. We really need Heyward and BJ to start swinging the bats. This is exactly why I wanted Justin Upton. He’s the best hitter in the NL (or votto) and we have him t a bargain price.

  5. So I went to the game last night and enjoyed myself for the most part. It seems that I always drag my girlfriend to the uneventful 2-0 games but she’s a good sport.

    The guy who designed the streets in Miami must have been on LSD. It’s a town where you can go any direction except the one you need to go. I’m constantly shaking my head driving around this weird little city. I live 8 miles from the ballpark and it took us a good 50 minutes to get there. Unreal.

    $15 center field parking went up to $20, though hopefully that’s a temporary price jump. Our $15 nosebleeds were selling for $30 too, which was a little annoying but hey, Opening Day.

    It was maybe 2/3 full but the crowd could never get too into it. The drunks next to us were practically begging Stanton to do something, anything. Thankfully he didn’t oblige.

    Justin’s HR was a laser. I know it hasn’t really been discussed here, but I think he’s pretty good at this baseball thing.

    It was a beautiful and even slightly chilly night in Miami and they ended the night with a pretty impressive fireworks show that set off all the car alarms.

    Estimated crowd for tonight: 15,000. Unfortunately I’m working tonight and tomorrow. Oh well, the Bravos are back in July.

  6. On the night of the Upton brothers winning a game in the bottom of the ninth inning by each hitting a solo home run, ESPN thought it more important to devote greater coverage to Juan Pierre bumping into a catcher, when coming home after a base hit.

  7. Seven games into the season, Justin Upton has 0.9 fWAR, or the same amount of fWAR contributed by Juan Francisco and Jose Constanza (130 combined games) in all of 2012.

  8. Just watch the reply and showed JUpton completely destroyed that baseball on the home run. Juan can actually play a pretty decent third base and seems like Johnson is an ok first baseman. Maholm is throwing junk up there. The guy must really know how to pitch.

  9. Jupton was on the espn.com/mlb frontpage after the brothers both went deep.

    @17, Wilhelmsen’s nickname is The Bartender, I believe.

    When I have time, I want to see if it’s true that we have struggled recently against crappy teams, relative to other teams with similar records end-of-season or other playoff/WC teams.

  10. How can you not love baseball?

    Especially when, however temporarily, the Atlanta Braves have the best record in all of baseball.

  11. Speaking of crappy teams, didn’t the Natspros play an easier interleague schedule than Atlanta last year? Has anyone looked at this year’s?

  12. Really, kc? I thought Maholm was nasty. He was getting great movement on all of his pitches and generally locating well. I don’t doubt a better lineup might’ve got a run or two off of him and driven his pitchcount near 100 by the 6th inning rather than the 7th, but I thought he was very effective.

  13. We can’t lose more than 3 or 4 games to the Marlins this year to have any shot at the division. Washington will probably go undefeated against them with about 3 total runs allowed.

  14. @25, I watched the end of that game via the live look-in on MLB network…might be one of the worst missed ball/strike calls I’ve ever seen. At least the ump admitted it was a mistake, not that it does anyone on the Rays any good. I feel like all bad calls should be correctable, even balls and strikes. Would like to see that happen one day…

  15. It was last out of game on a 3-2 pitch. Bad strikes calls earlier in count all too often lead to batters swinging at subsequent bad pitches.

  16. The part about the catcher doing a bad job of framing the pitch is true, but remember that the ump doesn’t see the centerfield camera view – he really shouldn’t be looking at the catcher’s mitt at all – supposedly he’s looking at where the ball crosses the plate.

    We’ve got to get to the point where you get one replay/challenge per game, or maybe one incorrect challenge per game – if you are right you still have one – or something…anything.

  17. With guys on the mound like Hudson, Maholm, and Minor we want to get some of those borderline calls. These guys that don’t throw hard need to stretch the strike zone as much as possible. Umps are part of the game and I don’t want technology calling balls/strikes. Glavine’s career would’ve been a lot different if he didn’t get those stretched zones from Umps.

  18. Non-uniform ball/strike umpiring adds another element of scouting to the game, for sure, but it doesn’t enhance my enjoyment of it. A ball 6-inches outside is a ball, whether Glavine is on the mound or some rookie, it shouldn’t matter.

    It worth speculating if an automated ball/strike system would help or hurt offense. It would narrow the zone for sure, but I think we’d also see balls above the belt called as strikes (which never ever happens right now). Would that even things out? Probably not. There’d be a lot more runs scored if the zone was strictly enforced. Balls off the plate are hard to hit with authority. High balls that have the plate are still hittable unless it’s extreme gas.

  19. @23: Apropos that, I was wondering if any team had ever gone undefeated against a divisional opponent during the modern unbalanced schedule era of 15+ matchups per season. Anyone know an easy way to check that? Baseball Reference has head-to-head records, but unless I’m missing something, you’d have to check each team for each year that the unbalanced schedule has been played to find out if this has ever happened.

  20. Thanks, anon21…. i’m having trouble concentrating on work anticipating my trip to Pittsburgh tomorrow for the Frozen Four. A perfect chance to waste a few minutes with my Retrosheet database!

  21. @22. Mavery, Junk is probably the wrong word. Seeing the reaction of the batters, you can tell they have no clue what was coming at them. Besides the movement you mentioned, I am sure Maholm has also become a very smart pitcher.

  22. I am not sure if you all have notice, but seems like Gattis is now playing more games than Laird?

  23. Speaking in general terms of things baseball could do to improve itself. Has the subject of changing the bases to something with a little more give come up lately? Why the owners would submit to having million dollar players sliding into, or even running over what amounts to a solid post is really mindboggling.

  24. I feel like assisting umpires with balls and strikes is the perfect usage for something like google glass, so long as the update of the ball crossing the plate was near instantaneous. It would be an aid for umpires and help them do their job and still allow for them to make judgement calls.

  25. from Grantland

    “Some days you got it,” Maholm said after the game, “and this was not one of those days. I just — I’m stunned by that team. I threw some of those underhand. I busted out a knuckler. I was gonna throw one righty just to see what it was like, but Skip took me out before I had the chance.”

  26. If it could be made to work seamlessly in-game, there is absolutely zero reason to allow humans to call balls and strikes anymore. Zero reason. Also, a machine calling balls and strikes would result in way more strikes at the knees, where almost nothing ever gets called. A curveball at the knees is just a pitch that is never called a strike, and it would start to be in that situation, so that could offset the pitch just off the corner.

    Anyway, all ball/strike calls should be made by computer, if possible, and every other call should be fully reviewable. It isn’t cute when an umpire ruins the game like this, it’s a travesty.

  27. @27 Interesting for sure, but I don’t think the fact that he had a few other awful calls makes that one any less bad. Contrary to popular belief among umpires, the strike zone is actually defined in the rule book as a specific thing. And that pitch was nowhere near it. I will say that the late movement of the pitch makes it slightly less bad than it looks to us visually, but it's still an awful, awful call.

    And I agree with what Bill Ripkin said on MLB Network regarding the umpire's kinda, sort mea culpa. It's way too roundabout, and avoids directly acknowledging that he blew it. I almost wonder if there's a union or unspoken rule against admitting that umpires can ever make an error. The hubris and arrogance with which they approach the game is maddening.

  28. 50—Oh, it was a bad call, but I’m talking more about the freeze-frame of the ball crossing the plate — lots of umpires have called a pitch that crossed the place in that spot a strike, in lots of different contexts.

  29. @36: No. If I’ve programmed it correctly, here are all the times since 2001 that a team played another team 15 or more times head-to-head and had wins within 3 of games:
    Year Good Bad W Outof
    2001 SLN PIT 14 17
    2002 BOS TBA 16 19
    2003 SLN MIL 13 16
    2004 LAN ARI 16 19
    2006 BOS BAL 15 18
    2006 HOU PIT 13 16
    2006 OAK SEA 17 19
    2008 ARI COL 15 18
    2008 FLO WAS 14 17
    2008 TBA BAL 15 18
    2009 BOS BAL 16 18
    2009 PHI WAS 15 18
    2010 TOR BAL 15 18

  30. I guess the Rays could have protested the game.

    It was a bad call. They happen. It isn’t like he called the infield fly rule on a ball hit 238 feet to the outfield.

  31. Wasn’t the ump from the Rays game (Marty Foster) the same home plate ump that had the wildly inconsistent zone for the Lee/Medlen game?

  32. @52: Thanks! Pretty good chance we see a proportionate reversal of 2008 Florida-Washington this year.

  33. Umpires should be taught to avoid calling a strike whenever the catcher doesn’t even try to frame it since it missed so bad.

  34. The point is, we have the technology to know every kicked call instantly.

    I am not so sure about “every” – as others have noted, that pitch has been called a strike by others, and given that the strike zone is an extremely discretionary thing currently, I am unsure of how you’d even decide what is subject to review.

    I am even less sure about “instantly”, which seems to be the main objection to replay systems, both in theory and practice.

  35. Found a small error in my program… I didn’t do 15 or more games, I did more than 15 games. Once you let the 15 game head-to-heads in, you get 4 more, all in the NL Central:
    2008 HOU CIN 12 15
    2008 MIL PIT 14 15
    2011 MIL HOU 12 15
    2011 MIL PIT 12 15

  36. @52: shocking the Nationals and Braves aren’t on that list. Guess it only felt like the Braves were always losing to a then-terrible Nationals team.

  37. Does the rule book actually say clearly anywhere that the strike zone is three dimensional, or is it really just the front plane of the plate?

    Thinking on it a bit more I’m kinda convinced that we’d see more strikes called if it was a 100% technology solution if measured against the 3D zone. The fastball right above the belt – and breaking pitches anywhere near the top or bottom of the zone – are both hardly ever called correctly. If you were to go strictly by the three dimensional volume defined by the outline of the plate then there’d be all kinds of breaking pitches that catch the very back corner of that volume.

  38. @59:
    2005 ATL WAS 10 19
    2006 ATL WAS 10 18
    2007 ATL WAS 11 18
    2008 WAS ATL 12 18
    2009 ATL WAS 10 18
    2010 WAS ATL 10 18
    2011 WAS ATL 9 18
    2012 WAS ATL 10 18

  39. @60, from the MLB Rule book: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official_rules/definition_terms_2.jsp

    A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which —
    (b) Is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone;

    The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the knee cap.

    From this definition, if you wore your pants around your ankles, you’d have a pretty small strike zone, but good luck running to first.

  40. For obvious reasons, we remember the bad umps more than the good ones. But do we really want Major League Baseball to be officiated like a professional tennis match? Kinda hard to have a rhubarb with machine—-although I’m sure Billy Martin would’ve found a way.

    An Umpire Memory: When I was in Little League, there was an umpire named Jazz, who had this crazy called-strike-3 move.

    He wouldn’t just shout, “Strike 3—-yer out!” Instead, after the pitch, he’d look at the hitter’s dugout, wiggle his 10 fingers like he was casting a spell and hiss, “Wooooooo!” It was like he was making the hitter disappear. The crowd would go nuts.

    Of course, every kid in the park knew that if Jazz was umping home plate & you had 2 strikes, you’d better swing at anything close because a) you didn’t want to be embarrassed by Jazz, and b) he couldn’t wait to make that call.

    Worst Case Scenario: The next day, you’d be at the park’s snack bar & some kid would walk up and say, “Wooooo!”

    Talk about shriveling…

  41. @64 I imagine he wants the extra pop in the lineup with Freeman injured and Heyward, BJ and Struggla not fairing so well.

  42. It’s been my observation that any batter that has the temerity to start toward first on a 3-2 count before the umpire has graced us with his call, is subject to an “I’ll show you” call. Especially at the amateur levels.

  43. @65 Yep, he pretty much came out and said that, not that I know where to find the quote now.

  44. @67: I think it probably is a bad idea. Generally, you want to put your nine best players on the field. Heyward is certainly one of those, and 30 (!) plate appearances has done absolutely nothing to convince me otherwise.

  45. @70

    He’s just sitting for a day, not getting benched. It’s in an effort get him out of his funk, because thus far this year, he definitely has not been one of our nine best players.

  46. Heyward looks like his timing is just a hair off. A night off vs. a lefty is probably a good idea, just so long as it is not a habitual thing.

  47. CON-STAN-ZA! CON-STAN-ZA!

    ” rel=”nofollow”>You know you can’t wait to see more of this.

  48. I’m fine with Heyward sitting against a lefty. Bring him in to pinch-hit against one of their 7 RHP in the bullpen

  49. @57, I’m not talking about replay — I’m talking about the fact that Pitch f/x and the FoxTracker on the TV feed let us see the correct call, literally in real time. As Ububba says, there are major cultural objections to this. But you don’t have to go to the tape room to figure out the correct call. It’s right there.

    You may have to go to the tape to figure out the correct call on a bang-bang play at the plate, as with Lugo. But not with a strike call, and generally not with a fair/foul call or a home run/ground rule double call. Judging by the TV feed, that tends to be pretty immediate.

  50. Judging by the TV feed, that tends to be pretty immediate.

    Well that’s the rub. Sure it throws a graphic up in a few seconds. And we are in an age that folks are willing to trust a great deal of technology. But you would have to do a ton of convincing of players and owners alike of the undisputed absolute pinpoint accuracy of the thing as a ball and strike tool. I am only generally convinced – I have no idea what the limitations are or the margin of error. Is it 2D at the front of the plate, 3D over the whole thing or what? How do environmental factors work, like player height differences, wind and rain? Is it dynamic, so it knows when a player is in his crouch or out, or moving during the AB, and so on ad infinitum. it’s fine as a novelty and an after the fact tool, but the science would have to be 100% to get it going, and even then, what do you do if it malfunctions? Is there an appeal for that?

  51. @79 It appears that the computer tracking systems already give instantaneous ball/strike readings; the TV graphic is delayed for the purposes of TV production. Also, it seems pretty bizarre to hold a potential replacement of universally derided human umpires to the standard of “absolute pinpoint accuracy” rather than, say, “a huge upgrade from the status quo”.

    Frankly, I see your post as a good exemplar of the representative of the conservative, tradition-bound viewpoint of MLB. I won’t go so far as to say it’s wrong to doubt the value of a technological solution to (parts) of umpiring, but I do feel that your position holds Pitch/fx etc. to an impossible standard while simultaneously waving away the problems inherent in human umpiring – in effect, you have pre-determined your answer to this question by selecting an irrational standard and cherry-picking what you consider to be the relevant facts.

  52. @80, I am certainly not deriding technological solutions, and I certainly have no problem with getting rid of umpires calling balls and strikes.

    I don’t know think I have two standards – I am simply saying I have no idea what the accuracy of the proposed solution is, or it’s limitations. Does anyone here have any technical data on this? Has it been independently tested to determine if the accuracy is within acceptable bounds? What are acceptable bounds? I am just not willing to assume that it’s better because it comes from a computer without demonstration of that fact. Side effect of working in the technology business for 20 years I suppose. But if you’d like to pigeonhole me as a grumpy old baseball fan, have at you.

  53. In fact, to go a bit further, I have specifically been designing and integrating dynamic data acquisition and graphical display solutions for the last 15 years – in other words, the kind of software/hardware systems that we are discussing. I have a ton of first hand experience with how these things work and their implicit design limits. Given what these things cost (an awful lot), and the enormous cost of failure to my business model long and short term, you’d have to be a fool or an internet commenter to not be exceptionally skeptical of any proposed software/mechanical based solution. It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal the vast majority of the time, a significant part of my customers don’t want it, and if it fails, it will not only cost me the startup costs, but in the goodwill of my customers. For a billion dollar business, these are non-trivial concerns, and I would expect an exceptional amount diligence before adopting anything, and rightly so. Sheesh.

  54. I don’t think umpires should be removed from behind the plate, but I think we have access to technology that would at the very least aid them in doing their job.

  55. I think one of my favorite things is seeing a good young player like Andrelton Simmons hit a strong single to the opposite field.

    (Which is what he just did.)

  56. About time the Bear hit one out. It’s been a week. He will only hit 40 or so at this pace

  57. According to the Marlins broadcasters, which I listen to because of Chip, Gattis is “off to a slow start”. They really said that. Ten seconds before he made it 2-0 with one of the best swings you’ll ever see on an outside pitch.

  58. Medlen still has some problems locating his pitches, but apart from that they look pretty sharp.

  59. If this were last year and we had Freeman, Chipper, and Bourn out there, would Medlen be out of this inning?

  60. Considering the way that Chipper played in the Wild Card game, I’m not so sure. But… yeesh. Francisco and Johnson do not inspire confidence.

    I think B.J. Upton may be a little like Yunel (and I know I compared Andrelton offensively to Yunel) — massively talented, does a lot of things well, but every so often he does something absolutely inexplicably boneheaded.

  61. It would be nice if someone told the Braves that they didn’t need to swing at the first pitch all the time.

  62. Sometimes I think that Chip and Joe would rather see a productive out than a base hit.

  63. Bring on the robots.

    Worst case scenario, they suck. But at least they won’t follow a player to his position, trying to incite him so they can toss him.

  64. @124 – I approve of Gattis’s promotion to honey badger. El Oso Honey Badger.

  65. Let’s not kids ourselves. Honey Badgers are toy poodles compared to White Bears.

  66. @129, though if the robots did follow the players around and talk shit to them it might be worth the price of a ticket.

  67. Well, you’d get Heyward against a righty and the double switch would improve your OF defense, so it’s defensible, but I probably agree with you.

  68. Cmon Justin, that was supposed to be a HR.

    Jupton Slump – when you hit a double to the deepest part of the park

  69. God forbid you counted on Jordan Walden to get three outs. He’s not a CloserTM. Well, he used to be. But not since he came here, anyway.

    Gotta go to the guy with the official title who threw about 30 pitches just last night.

  70. Also, Bucknor needs to be removed to somewhere he can no longer harm professional baseball. Working Astros games would seem to fit the bill.

  71. 158- But the Astros play professional teams.

    Be nice if we could get more than two guys to hit, but other than that, it’s all good.

  72. Another night, another win. Good to see Medlen has a good night. Justin does what Justin does. This Gattis kid is very good. Keep winning!!!

  73. He was missing his spots and looking like he had nothing working for him through four. Something happened going into the 5th and his velocity picked up and he was snapping off quality curveballs and sliders right where he wanted to. For the last three innings, Medlen looked like the Medlen of the second half of 2012. if he does in his next start what he did in the last three innings of this start, I’d expect the K’s to come back.

  74. I didn’t watch the game, but you can’t complain about 90 pitches in 7 innings with 13/8 GB/FB ratio with just 3 hits allowed. He had the same problem earlier in last year for not getting the Ks.

  75. He had close to 70 pitches by the end of the fourth. I guess that means he got through the next three on about 20 pitches.

  76. Seems like the guys are comfortable throwing to Gattis. He really does a nice job of blocking balls in the dirt also.

  77. For the moment, I’m just happy Selig didn’t send the Marlins to the AL.

    Again, let’s sweep these bums & really enjoy that off-day.

  78. If Gattis keeps hitting…

    What do you guys think will happen? I thought the decision to just go back to McCann would be easier, but Gattis is proving to be a lot more capable behind the plate than I’d imagined. Maybe McCann plays 3 games and Gattis 2? And he spells one of the outfielders on one of the other days?

  79. That is ging to be a tough decision to make. According to Peanut, he will either stick around as a third (!) catcher and leftfielder, or will be sent back to AAA:

    “When McCann returns, Laird will likely continue to serve as the backup catcher. This decision will be influenced by the Braves’ desire for Gattis to get as many at-bats as possible. So, the question is whether it would be better to keep him as a backup outfielder/third catcher or send him to Triple-A Gwinnett to play catcher on an everyday basis.”

    Link: http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130409&content_id=44334124&notebook_id=44334666&vkey=notebook_atl&c_id=atl

    Clearly, the Braves won’t let him take away at bats from a healthy McCann. But still, sending him back to AAA while keeping Laird would be ridiculous, IMHO.

  80. @175

    You can always find a place for someone that can hit. Especially if he has a cool nickname like El Oso Blanco Honey Badger.

  81. @177 The timing of the Braves interleague games in AL parks may be a factor. I expect Heyward and B Upton to start hitting again, but injures happen.

  82. Medlen on Gattis last night. No mention of his rapport with umpires, however, so take it with a grain of salt.

    “What else can you say about Evan Gattis? God. He was the difference in the game, for me. And I was a little nervous, honestly, in the spring, having thrown to two catchers my entire career and having to throw to two new ones (Laird and Gattis). And I mean, this is the first time I’ve thrown to (Gattis) and I was blown away. He’s really good back there.
    “He starts trying to invent stuff, too. That’s what Rossy (David Ross) kind of did, too. The double to Polanco, he called an inside curveball, and I’ve never intentionally tried to throw an inside curveball. I mean, he’s just inventing stuff out there. That’s what I try to do. I try to mix in as many pitches as I can and just be aggressive, and he was great back there.”

  83. I’m hoping that the Braves work McCann back into the mix slowly. Maybe he can catch 2 or 3 games a week for a while until we see how he’s doing.

    Sending Gattis to AAA would be a travesty.

  84. @180

    And if I’d just pulled this part of the quote:

    “…The double to Polanco, he called an inside curveball, and I’ve never intentionally tried to throw an inside curveball. I mean, he’s just inventing stuff out there…”

    Sounds a little different. OK, just kidding (mostly). I don’t really get the feeling that Ross “inventing stuff” and Gattis “inventing stuff” necessarily means the same thing, though.

  85. I think Schafer will be the casualty of McCann’s return. Reed Johnson is your backup CF. Gattis is your 5th OF, 3rd C, power righty PH. Laird will be the C who’s not allowed to PH in case of injury.

    I like both Francisco and Johnson thus far. But carrying two corner IF who can’t play OF or middle infield sure makes it hard to construct a bench.

  86. @183 Hahaha, true, true! Gattis might never get a hit at the MLB level after last night, but I’m going to enjoy the trip while it lasts.

  87. These things with guys coming off the DL and what to do with a player usually work out.

  88. #175 – Outside of injuries there are only two good options. Trade Bmac when he’s healthy or keep all 3 catchers and waive Schafer or Reed. Gattis to AAA should not happen.

  89. Yeah, there’s no need to get too worked up at this point. Let’s just sit back and enjoy Evan Gattis for now. It’s not clear if he’ll have sustained success (although the way he took that outside changeup to left center was really impressive), but he’s sure looking good now.

    Know what might be even better? Healthy BMac. :-)

  90. A couple Gattis-related benchmarks — according to Fangraphs, telling us when his rates should stabilize — that I am now eagerly awaiting:

    50 PA: Swing %
    100 PA: Contact Rate
    150 PA: Strikeout Rate, Line Drive Rate, Pitches/PA
    200 PA: Walk Rate, Groundball Rate, GB/FB
    250 PA: Flyball Rate
    300 PA: Home Run Rate, HR/FB
    500 PA: OBP, SLG, OPS, 1B Rate, Popup Rate
    550 PA: ISO

    Oh, and one more…

    275 PA: One more than the number of PAs compiled by Francoeur in 2005.

    I don’t think I’ll get comfortable with a hitter ever again before they cross that particular threshold.

  91. If you keep Gattis around as a reserve OF/righty bench bat, I think cutting (trading?) Johnson would make more sense than cutting Schafer would.

  92. I’m hoping that they can find a way to get Gattis 3 or 4 starts per week regardless of BMac’s performance. He may be up and down to AAA a lot this year, but I still think we need his bat. Hopefully he’ll keep ripping the ball and make all other options moot.

  93. Reed is under contract for 2014 as well – he’d might actually clear waivers, if you wanted to send him to AAA to clear roster space, or better yet, someone might claim him and get you off the hook for the money (or he might be able to reject the assignment and become an FA, which is fine too – not sure of the contract details). His OBP has been just tragic since coming over, and really, that’s the only offensive value he has at this point. Schafer has been arguably worse, but is certainly cheaper. No need for both of those guys.

  94. We’re 8 games into the season & Gattis still has more of a chance to be Johnny Blanchard than Johnny Bench.

    But if it’s Blanchard, let’s hope we get the 1961 version.

  95. 194—Didn’t realize he was under contract for 2014. Yikes.

    But yeah, what you said — plus, Schafer can pinch-run and, IMO, is a much better defender in center.

  96. Schafer might be a better asset going forward than Reed Johnson, sure.

    But Johnson’s under contract for two seasons, and he was signed for those two seasons to be the official Pinch Hitter. You don’t release a veteran one month in to a two year deal that YOU signed him to, because you want to keep Jordan Schafer.

    The guy’s got a career line of .283/.340/.411, and last season as a 35 year old, he nearly matched it at .290/.337/.398. He’s probably a better bet off the bench than Jordan Schafer is. I guess he is hitting .125/.222/.250 so far this year… in 9 plate appearances. But Jordan Schafer is at .222/.305/.300 in 900 plate appearances.

    The fact that Johnson has the same handedness as Gattis doesn’t make him as irrelevant as Jordan Schafer’s schaferness makes him.

  97. Reed Johnson’s contract calls for $1.6M in salary for 2013 with $50K bonuses for 90, 110 and 130 games played; the Braves hold a team option for 2014 (with a $150K buyout).

    Also, it’s striking that the only two dead-weight contracts on the team right now are the cheap, “proven veteran” contracts Wren signed at the start of the offseason. Everything since then has proceeded very well, and have arguably made Johnson and Laird expendable and redundant.

  98. Yeah, I just don’t agree. If you’re keeping Gattis around, Johnson is extremely redundant, and Schafer really does bring a few useful things to the table that Johnson does not.

    I’d probably just send Gattis to AAA to keep catching and getting everyday-player PAs (and so you don’t have to cut either Schafer or Johnson), but if they wanna keep him up, Johnson’s the logical odd man out.

  99. I know RJohnson hasn’t lit the world on fire since coming over but in his 11 year career his obp/slg is .340/.411. Pretty much a perfect 4th OF who can passably play all 3 positions. Jordan is .305/.300-can’t believe anyone would consider keeping him over Reed. I’m glad to have Reed and think the Braves were smart to sign him for a couple of years.

    Edit: Or what jjschiller said. Rarely disagree with you stu but I really do here.

  100. Unless I’m mussing something, the braves have allowed 18 runs so far this season, which is the best in MLB. That’s encouraging, considering how excited most of us are about this offense.

  101. 201—I’m not saying Schafer is better than Johnson. If they were calling up, say, Tyler Pastornicky for added infield depth, and they were deciding between keeping Johnson or Schafer, I’d advocate for Johnson. (Not that there would even be a debate in that situation.)

    But this is in the context of keeping Gattis and related the role in which he’d be kept. The things Schafer does do well — defend CF, run — are pretty unique to Schafer (or Constanza, if you prefer), so if you’ve already got a guy doing Reed Johnson things, I’d prefer the unique Schafer things, even if they’re relatively small things, to additional (redundant) Johnson things.

  102. I’ll put it this way, I’d replace Reed Johnson with Evan Gattis. Because of handedness, I’d replace him with a player similar to him, who happened to be left handed.

    I would not replace anybody with Jordan Schafer. Well, except maybe Constanza.

    Who, by the way, being present and readily available at Gwinnett, makes Schafer even more redundant.

    Schafer runs fast, but running fast doesn’t make you a great centerfielder, or a great base stealer. Defensive metrics hate him. And in the stolen base category, he’s 51 against 14 caught. I’ll grant that he is more likely to score from first on a double than Reed Johnson or Ramiro Pena is.

    Say you’re trailing by one in the eighth inning, and Francisco draws a leadoff walk in front of Simmons and the Pitcher spot. Perfect spot for your designated pinch runner. So you’re going to send Schafer in to run for him. Is Schafer a good enough base stealer than you send him, representing the tying run? At a career 51-14, I don’t. I’m bunting there. And if I’m bunting anyway, Reed Johnson or Ramiro Pena is fast enough, thanks. And they both provide something other than the ability to score from first on a double.

    And if the guy isn’t a good enough base stealer that you’d send him specifically to steal second as the tying run, why are you carrying a designated pinch runner?

  103. I guess I just don’t think the unique Schafer things are that unique to Schafer. Reed Johnson is not the same player as Gattis. I’d look at Gattis to be a low-percantage PH with excess power, with corner OF defensive ability. Reed Johnson is a lead-off an inning PH with CF defensive ability. That makes him the same player as Schafer, handedness be damned.

    And Schafer’s surplus ability to play CF and run faster than Juan Francisco over Reed Johnson’s ability to do both those things does not make him more useful than a guy who with a .340 career OBP who has been one of the premier pinch hitters in baseball for most of a decade.

  104. When McCann comes back, he’s the starting catcher, and I don’t really see that it’s even much of a conversation. He’ll start four out of every five days, like he normally does.

    Now, as far as Gattis goes, I would probably keep him around as a power bat off the bench/DH in AL parks/whatever, but sending him back to AAA to get four at-bats a game is way more defensible than some of you guys are saying. Also, he will have a slump, and probably a pretty bad one, at some point this year. He is a rookie, after all. Pitchers will figure him out. Let’s not get too carried away too early here. I like him, and I think he’ll be our starting catcher next year, but he’s been in the majors approximately one week so far. Let’s not pencil him in for 20 HRs, 80 RBIs and a Rookie of the Year award just yet.

    Oh, and Schafer is way more expendable than Reed Johnson. When Schafer hits over .400 for a season as a pinch-hitter (which is what we’re using these guys for mainly), come let me know and I’ll recalibrate my opinion.

  105. This is starting to feel like Saltalamacchia all over again. He was hyped up to no end, and many on DOB’s blog were talking about trading McCann to make room for him, and were really upset when the Braves traded him in 2007.

    Gattis has twenty major league PAs. How quick some forget about what McCann has done.

  106. 206—Yeah, if you think Reed Johnson, on the 2013 Atlanta Braves, is going to be used as more of a Schafer than a Gattis, then I can see why we’re not (and not going to be) in agreement. Cool.

    The main problem with my proposal is injuries — if an outfielder not named Schafer were to get hurt, the decision to cut bait on Johnson (assuming the whole storing-him-in-Gwinnett thing isn’t possible) would get pretty painful, pretty quickly.

    Anyway, I doubt they’ll be getting rid of either.

  107. @208 – Well, to be a bit more fair, McCann wasn’t making $16m when Salty was being hyped. And he wasn’t about to walk away as a free agent, either.

    That said, McCann obviously starts when he comes back. I don’t see how you can trade him in a season when you expect to compete for a championship, but I don’t think the idea is COMPLETELY outside the realm of possibility.

    But you do need to see Gattis in the big leagues, so you know how hard to chase McCann in the offseason. I keep him on the club, and find him 200 PA’s.

  108. Also, if I grant that Schafer is more useful for this specific situation (which I’m not, though I do see your point), that still leaves the fact that if you lose someone on waivers, they’re gone forever, and Johnson is a way better player than Schafer in a general sense, and therefore way more useful in the vast majority of other situations that might crop up later on. So even if I’m acknowledging that Schafer might be better for this specific situation than Johnson, I’m still keeping Johnson.

  109. Normally, I would prefer sending Gattis to the minor and let him learn the trade of catching for one more season before handing him the starting job next year, but it seems like his catching skill is already adequate. Considering his bat is major league ready, I honestly don’t see the point of sending him to minor anymore. Schafer is the one who needs more seasoning. If someone else claims him, so be it.

  110. Salty wasn’t as mature of a hitter as Gattis is now. I’ve got more faith in Gattis than I ever did in Salty.

    I actually find all of the comparisons between Gattis and past prospects to be kinda silly. He’s nothing like past prospects. His trajectory is completely different. He’s not a 21-year-old in AA full of upside. He’s in the majors and doesn’t look out of place. Doesn’t mean I think he’s necessarily going to be great (see my comment above). I just don’t find comparisons between him and other guys particularly compelling.

    I agree that talk of trading BMac is premature, but “life after McCann” is something worth thinking about whereas in 2007 it was just kind dumb.

    As for who to send down, dumb Schafer. He’s not useful off the bench except as a pinch runner, and we’ve got other guys who can do that. Who’re you going to put him in defensively for? Justin Upton? I mean, I guess…. But that’s not a valid position. Reed and Heyward do adequate imitations of CFs to the point where Schafer is a “luxury” in some sense of the word.

  111. I don’t understand why you would want to keep Schafer around instead of Johnson. If you’re worried about money we’re already 10m under budget for the year and Johnson is actually a proven pinch hitter which Schafer is not. Needing someone who can “run” is a largely irrelevant skill set unless you’re in a Dave Roberts situation. Keep your best hitters and worry about the rest later. Johnson may not have set the world on fire since he’s come over but he’s got 11 years of track record that shows he knows how to hit major league pitching and all of Schafer’s track record is he does not know how to hit major league pitching.

    One thing we can agree on though is that Evan Gattis needs to stay on the team. There will probably be some sort of regression eventually but the dude can hit and is ridiculously strong.

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