Braves 7 Angels 3

I vote we start calling Tommy LaStella “The Splendid Splinter.” All the kid does is hit!

This game looked like it was going to be a route for the Angles. In the first six innings they had runners all over the place. Mike Trout even hit one to the site of the new park. That guy can play.

Then in the sixth inning, the good Braves showed up. You know, the ones that work the count, hit behind runners, so forth? After getting a few bloop hits, The Splendid Splinter came up. Instead of taking the Dan Uggla “Typical Braves Approach” of trying to hit it a mile, he worked the count and laced a double to right to give the Braves the lead. The Braves piled on after that.

The home team is now back in first alone. The Phillies are in town for three that we need to take going into Washington. Outside of the Nats, the Braves won’t see a team currently over .500 until July 21st.This would be a good time to go on a run.

74 thoughts on “Braves 7 Angels 3”

  1. I’m greedy, but I want to see them sweep the Nats, put the fear of god back in those bums. The Braves have been crushing them for almost two full seasons now, and keeping it up is the best way to defend their title.

  2. I was impressed by how La Stella handled himself in that high leverage situation.

    I still can’t figure out what the hell is up with that Bowman post. Its so damn nonsensical.

    I do think its time for the Braves give BJ the Uggla treatment. Yes BJ is playing good defense. But he is the odd man out because there are NO options at 3b and you have to carry Simmons weak bat. There may be an option to juice the offense.

    I will posit this again knowing how unpopular the notion is but it may be time to go Doumit Heyward JUpton in the OF. Doumit has sucked this year but he has all of 73 PA. He has a career slash of .267/.326/.434/.760 Y’all are going to complain about the drop in defense. But I think that offense out of the corner OF positions is more important that corner OF defense.

  3. Seems to me in two very recent games BJ actually had errors that directly resulted in runs scored for the other team. I’m not sure that qualifies as good defense.

  4. Doumit did play 70 something games in the field at C and RF in 2013. His defense cannot be as bad as Gattis in LF. I simply do not think that this team can carry two players whose main contribution is their glove AND a crappy 3B that is contributing nothing. Again if Doumit hits his career averages no one will care if he can catch the 2 or 3 balls that are hit to LF in a game.

  5. Gattis couldn’t catch the 2 or 3 balls that were hit to him in LF during the playoffs, and look where that got us.

  6. Fredi G. seemed to support the “bring up Bethancourt.”

    Maybe part of that is if somebody needs catching bad enough to take Laird and give back the lefty reliever we need (and maybe a lottery ticket).

    BUT, how any moron can think this team would get net improvement out of this, I can’t figure.

    MAYBE if you could do an Ethier for Uggla and BJ???? Then Gattis plays left field ONLY when there is a lefty.

  7. I have little faith that adding Christian Bethancourt to the lineup will improve the offense. The kid is on a hot streak and managing a robust 760 OPS at AAA. He’s not going to improve on BJ Upton at the plate.

  8. I can understand the desire to try something, anything, other than more BJ. But more Ryan Doumit surely can’t be the answer. This has got to be the worst bench we’ve had since 1990 — heck, maybe since the ’70s. No production, no potential, and nearly bereft of any major-league caliber tools. Laird is a decent defensive catcher, Schafer is fast, Pena can sometimes hit RHPs, and that’s pretty much it.

  9. Pena and Larid are the only guys on the bench I would keep. Doumit has some value too.

    Schafer and Uggla have been terrible. Schafer might be better if he had some more ABs.

    Bethancourt needs to stay in AAA to work on hitting. No reas for him to sit on the bench right now. Gattis needs more innings behind the dish calling the game, not playing left.

  10. If the Braves are going to significantly improve for the stretch run, it will have to be via trade. They farm is simply not set up to fix what ails them. And if they trade, they’ll have to give talent to get talent, so none of this “maybe we can trade Uggla and Aaron Harang for a young talented OF” wishcasting. If they are going to get a starting OF who can actually play they’ll have to part with Lucas Sims or one of their other pitching prospects. (Alex Wood, Shae Simmons, Jason Hursh, etc.)

  11. If you bench BJ, perhaps you risk the relationship with his brother. It’s a delicate situation here, I think. Anyway, I’m not sure there is much offense out there to be had even if you do part with young pitching. I guess maybe some AL team might have some surplus but I don’t think anyone does in the NL.

    FWIW, I think the main advantage the Braves have over the Nats is mental. Not to get too much into “intangibles” but the Nats strike me as a very “soft” team. When things get tough, they fall apart; they have done some of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen a major league team do in terms of screwing up routine plays. For all the Braves’ problems, I think they are mentally strong for the most part (BJ possibly being the exception) and will hang together.

  12. I agree with Sansho about the Braves’ awful bench. And there’s really no help on the farm — La Stella and Gattis were both major league-ready, and now they’re both starters, and Dan Uggla is so bad that he really isn’t even a useful bench player. I had hoped that Pastornicky could become a passable bench player, but both his offense and his defense have disappointed, and he’s completely redundant with Ramiro Pena.

    This is around the time that you’d expect Frank Wren to pull off one of his trades or international free agent signings for a veteran bench bat. He’s had a pretty good track record in the past, but our farm doesn’t have quite as many high-value fungible prospects as it used to. But maybe there’s a 42-year old in the Mexican league that we can sign for cash.

  13. Shocking news about Tony Gwynn. I didn’t even know he was sick. Thanks for the link @18.

  14. If BJ would just play good defense in centerfield and say “darnit, I missed that” whenever he takes a strike down the middle, I don’t think we’d be talking about him right now as a problem. Speaking for myself, I’m so inured to his shitty offense from last season and the first month of this one that his productivity the last several weeks has definitely been good enough.

    Moving him down in the order would take further heat off of him. La Stella is the obvious choice to move up. But Fredi likes to keep the top of the order balanced, and situating La Stella amongst fellow lefties Heyward and Freeman throws that all out of whack.

    It is very rational, though, to investigate possibilities of getting Gattis’ bat into the lineup as often as possible. This is why I have a love/hate relationship with good hitting catchers. When the rest of the offense is sputtering, it’s hard not to resent the situation that you have to have your best guy on the bench a couple times a week. You also have to be reticent about even using him as a pinch hitter. Maybe that’s partially what bringing Bethancourt up is about? To once more carry three catchers?

  15. We need Julio Franco.

    Very, very sad about Tony Gwynn. Second favorite hitter growing up, and played his entire career with one team like my favorite (Chipper). Widely known as a great guy, and it also helps that Mad Dog had such a tremendous respect for him.

  16. @22, He had more PAs against Maddux than any other pitcher (over 100) and hit him like a drum. .400+ BA. He also hit Glavine pretty good.

  17. How does a top 5 batting order of La Stella/Justin/Heyward/Gattis/Freeman sound? Do some sort of mix and mash of Andrelton, CJ, BJ and the starting pitcher down at the bottom.

  18. Think maybe the real intent of the Bowman tweet is to talk up the value of Bethancourt in some kind of trade package? The fact that it also sends a shot across the bow to BJ might just be icing on the cake.

  19. Stolen from the Factory:
    Since 1901 there have been 40 players who have gotten 1000+ hits with at least a 7:1 hit:K ratio. This is a count by the decade in which they debuted:

    to 1909 7
    1910s 10
    1920s 10
    1930s 6
    1940s 6
    1950s 0
    1960s 0
    1970s 0
    1980s 1
    1990s 0

    The second-to-last guy to do it was Nellie Fox, who retired when Tony Gwynn was 5.

  20. In 323 AB vs. Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux, Tony Gwynn struck out a total of 3 (!!!!) times. Two vs. Glavine. Maddux faced him over 100 times and NEVER struck him out.

  21. The problem with moving LaStella to the top and BJ to the bottom is that you’re giving opposing pitchers four guaranteed outs in a row. They don’t have to pitch every third inning; just get three outs from a sequence that scares no one. (The upside of having the CJ/Andrleton/BJ sequence grouped together is that you’d at least cut down on CJ and Andrelton’s double play balls.)

  22. I don’t have any problem with the lineup at 31. It gets the best hitters more at bats, and that’s not nothing. I might flip Heyward and Streetcar, as TLS seems to have less of a tendency to roll the ball out to 2B (and thus into easy double plays) than Jason does.

  23. @31 – That looks a lot like the lineup many around here wanted to see back in April. For that matter, lots of us wanted Simmons and LaStella called up as starters months before the Braves org finally accepted that Uggla was done and Pastornicky can’t cut it. The inertia in the front office is frustrating at times.

  24. Final point re: Gwynn’s passing. He died of cancer of the salivory glands. If you dip or chew, you should stop.

  25. “Outside of the Nats, the Braves won’t see a team currently over .500 until July 21st. This would be a good time to go on a run.”

    I was so shocked by that statement that I had to check, and not only is it 100% true, but on the 21st we open up a 4 game set with Miami (followed by a 4 gamer vs SD). This is truly the time to ‘make hay’.
    edit: also, the Nats play a couple of series vs the brewers and one vs. the Orioles. So fairly decent advantage there.

    And I reiterate the RIP Tony Gwynn sentiment and hope that it serves as a prompt for those who chew to revisit that activity.

  26. @29, I knew he was good against the Braves, and I knew he did really well against Maddux, but I didn’t know he treated us as much like batting practice as he did. Only 3 Ks against the Braves Big 3, in just shy of 300 career plate appearances. Astonishing.

  27. Greg Maddux, interviewing in the run-up to his HOF election:

    “[I]f a pitcher can change speeds, every hitter is helpless, limited by human vision.
    “Except,” Maddux said, “for that [expletive] Tony Gwynn.””

  28. @26

    I was thinking the same thing. If Gattis keeps hitting like this, then Bethancourt could bring quite a bit back.

    @35

    I was kind of schoked by it too. They Nats do have an easy run too tough.

  29. Evan Gattis’ offensive splits (career) by defensive position played:

    Split PA BA OBP SLG OPS tOPS+
    as C, 357, 0.260 ,0.311, 0.526, 0.837, 102
    as 1B, 16, 0.071 ,0.188, 0.143, 0.330, -12
    as LF, 183, 0.251 ,0.284, 0.434, 0.718, 75
    as DH, 8, 0.500 ,0.500, 1.000, 1.500, 254
    as PH, 19, 0.467 ,0.579, 1.400, 1.979, 357

    In a puff piece on how he was working to improve his defense behind the plate earlier this year, Gattis said he’d do “anything to stay out of left field.” I don’t think we should write off the strain the stress of playing the OF has on his offensive game.

  30. It’s an interesting dilemma, Gattis should probably not play any position but C, and Bethancourt is close to being ready and could be a franchise catcher, though I still question whether he will hit. One of them has got to be trade bait soon right?

    Would you trade Bethancourt for Samardzija straight up? (not that either side would just curious where the board stood on Bethancourt’s value).

  31. Would you trade Bethancourt for Samardzija straight up?

    Oh good lord yes. In a heartbeat. An all-glove C for an All-Star, top of the league starter? Yes and yes and then yes again. The odds that Bethancourt figures out how to hit like Yadi Molina this late in the game are low.

    Not that acquiring Samzat fixes the offense in any way at all.

  32. @40 – hell yeah.

    I simply don’t think that Bethancourt is all that valuable on the trade market. I know he is a plus defender at the toughest defensive position but his bat is just terrible. If Bethancourt were such a valued commodity I’d think that the Braves would make him the sweetner in a deal to unload Uggla’s contract if nothing else.

  33. I think I’d argue the terrible bat part. He’s always been very young for his league and has always seemed to adjust after some time at each stop. The bat may never develop but it’s hardly something to just write off especially at the catcher position.

  34. More importantly, Pepe was red carded and won’t be available against the US.

  35. @45 yes, good for the US. Also looked like a serious injury for Coentrao and maybe Almeida.

  36. @44 – 7 seasons in the minors .268/.299/.373/.672

    He is only 20 or 21. So I guess …….

    probably not.

  37. If the Braves could get Samzat for only Bethancourt and David Hale, they should go now.

  38. Also, I wouldn’t go pimping on the “we’re getting an easy stretch” argument just yet. Since May 26, the Braves have:

    Lost 4 to the worst team in the AL East
    Won 3 of 3 against the Marlins
    Lost 2 to the worst team in the AL West
    Lost 2 of 3 to the 4th worst team in the NL West
    Lost 2 of 4 to the worst team in the NL West
    Won 2 of 3 against the best team in AL West

    I’m not sure playing “bad” teams is the thing to do.

  39. @40: Yes, definitely. I have the sense from people who have looked at him closely (rather than just buying the hype) that his defense is overrated, because he does well in the flashiest, but perhaps least important, aspect of catcher defense: throwing out runners trying to steal. His receiving/blocking, framing, and footwork are said to all need work. And he has no bat to speak of. I’d say they should sell for whatever they can get while he still has that “young for his level” shine on him.

  40. :( just heard about tony gwynn. that is very sad news.
    i saw him play once in 1997 when i went to the US on vacation, including a trip to san diego.

  41. The problem I have with trading for Samardzija is that starting pitching really is not our greatest weakness, and we have a fairly limited set of farm system assets to deal from. I’d rather that Wren address the areas of greatest need: offense, bullpen, and bench.

  42. I would trade for Samardzija in a heartbeat if it only required guys from our minor leagues. Maybe we can wait until closer to the deadline and the price will go down. I think an arm like that increases our odds of both winning the division and getting past the first round.

    Our offense is what it is and there’s not any reasonable way to improve it this year (or next?).

  43. Samardzija would be nice, but starting pitching is not the problem. It is our strength in that we actually have depth there. Bullpen help would be great, but what do we trade other than one of our other promising young arms, Bethancourt, or a combination of the two? In the end, the pitching will work itself out. It always does for the Braves. Our true issue is our hitting because our defense is sound aside from a mental lapse here and there.

    A true leadoff or two-hole hitter would be the ideal grab, but no one is going to give us that without a heavy price in which we cannot pay. Plus, it would lead to roughly 23-25 million in wasted space on our bench between BJ and Uggla. No one is going to take on those contracts. So, we have to work with what we have.

  44. I’m still torn on Walker, but it’s also because of the fundamental difficulty in evaluating coaches and managers. Do you look at the overall production (team BA, OBP, SLG, etc.) or do you look at how many players have progressed or regressed relative to their age, or another reason all together?

    JUpton, Freeman, and Gattis have improved this year compared to their career, and Simmons, Heyward, Johnson have regressed. BUpton and Uggla suck. La Stella has been called up and has played brilliantly. So what do you do with that information? Does Walker bear responsibility for Uggla’s physical deterioration? What about BUpton? Does he get credit for JUpton/Freeman/Gattis and does he bear responsibility for Simmons/Heyward/Johnson? These are pretty unanswerable questions.

  45. @55

    I’d have to think it would be something like “trade for Samzat, then trade Alex Wood for a bat.”

  46. Pretty sure it was already commonly known, but braves are getting hits on Floyd and Harang. I think we could be surprised on the return.

    @sam I don’t think Alex Wood is going anywhere. He’s just too
    cheap and too good.

  47. If they can get something useful for the bench or pen for Harang or Floyd, they won’t need to move Wood certainly.

  48. Cubs/Braves blockbuster:
    Braves get: The Shark, Bonifacio, Nate Schierholtz, and James Russell
    Cubs get: Alex Wood, JR Graham, Pastornicky, Schafer, Dan Uggla (salary paid), and Christian Bethancourt.
    Who hangs up?

  49. @55

    It’s the same problem we had last year w/the offense (swapping 2B for 3B). The only positions you can really upgrade are 3B and CF…and the guys who currently occupy those spots are signed to long term deals. You can say “sunk costs” all you want, but we know how the Braves operate.

    The bench seems the easiest fix, but will probably have the least overall impact.

  50. A suggested lineup change in which I have been pondering goes as follows:

    1. Heyward – He is really our only option. He has a good batters eye, speed, and the potential to start the game off with a bang.

    2. Simmons – He is a free swinger which could not be a worse fit for 8-hole but works to his advantage in the 2-hole due to seeing better pitches due to Freeman following him. Also, he is a career .300 hitter in the 2-hole.

    3. Freeman – You have to hit your best batter here. It is something that is done with each and every team in baseball.

    4. Johnson – Another free swinger who would benefit from having protection behind him. Plus, his bat is starting to come around.

    5. J. Upton – He is your prototypical 5-hole with power and speed.

    6. Gattis – He has proven that he does not need protection to be effective when looking at his career splits. Also, this allows for him to possibly have some people on the bases for him instead of hitting with no one on as he has been doing lately hitting 4th and 5th.

    7. B.J. Upton – He is not a 2-hole hitter or an 8-hole hitter because he doesn’t hit consistently or walk enough. This is the one spot in the order I see as suitable for B.J. Whatever he does provide offensively, I see as a bonus due to low expectations at this point.

    8. La Stella – His reputations is he has a great batter’s eye. He has shown that thus far in the low sample size we have. The fact that he is willing to take a walk makes him ideal for the 8-hole. It means people on base for Heyward in the later innings. Also, it allows for us to turn over our order instead of leading off innings with the pitcher.

    9. Please baseball gods, teach our pitchers to bunt.

    I know Simmons and Johnson are prone to the double play ball, but I do believe Simmons will benefit from seeing better pitches and that Johnson is beginning to turn around. As for La Stella, I know everyone believes 1st and 2nd would be nice, but I think his real value for us is in the 8-hole.

  51. @69
    I cannot agree with any lineup that puts Simmons, who leads our team in GIDPs, in the 2-hole. I like a top 5 of La Stella, Heyward, Freeman, Gattis, Jupton. From there, who cares.

  52. With Wood in the minors, I just don’t see the need for starting pitching.

    And something that no one seems to be saying out loud is that if the Braves are forced to sit Uggla AND B.J., there simply must be consequences for such poor decisions. Wren can’t just simply skate, can he?

    Would you trust him to go find another big ticket player?
    ……………

  53. @71
    I agree that Simmons is not ideal for number 2, but it is a better option than B.J. Also, his career numbers in 2-hole are good. Another thing you have to look at is the number of times Heyward grounds out, too. If you put baserunners on in front of him, he would be just as likely to ground into double plays due to his tendency to roll over on the ball and ground out to second. The only players on our team that do not ground out regularly and have speed to beat out double plays are the Uptons, and they both strike out regularly.

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