You’ve Got To Go With What Works For You, I Guess, June 16 Game Thread

If we can just play like we did last night, I’d feel awfully good about this team. La Stella makes this offense so much better. We’re not a good hitting club, but with him in there we’ve probably moved from 28th in baseball to 24th or higher. That said, I’m still going to do everything in my power as blog administrator to keep the winning streak alive.

Including this:

192 thoughts on “You’ve Got To Go With What Works For You, I Guess, June 16 Game Thread”

  1. B.J. still in the number 2-hole. I know this is getting a bit redundant, but it is time for a change. As far as the team goes as it stands now, he is still our best option for starter in the outfield, but he is not a top of the lineup hitter.

  2. I keep coming across articles and analysts knocking La Stella because all he will provide the Braves is singles and walks with nothing else from an offensive standpoint. What is wrong with singles and walks? I cannot really see their argument. Productive consistency sounds pretty nice to me.

  3. It’s nice to have the bases loaded, Chip, but it’s only the bottom of the seventh and we haven’t even plated a run, so no, we don’t “have the Phillies on the ropes.”

  4. That was some bad luck. Nothing Tommy could do about that. Glad we weren’t doubled off.

  5. That GIDP was so predictable. Love Simmons’s glove, but there’s really nowhere you can hide his bat in this lineup.

  6. Amazing how I can love half of his game and hate the other half with equal fervor.

  7. Swap La Stella and Simmons in the order. I really don’t think people understand the importance of a patient contact hitter in the 8-hole. Yes, Simmons is a contact hitter but definitely not patient. That situation would have ended with the Braves tied at 1-1 even with the Simmons DP if he was the 7-hole hitter cause the Phillies would have sacrificed the run for the DP.

  8. Simmons’ bat has been a huge disappointment for me so far. I expected big things this year. He’s got a long way to go still. He’s not a very smart hitter.

  9. @25. Yeah it’s his approach that baffles me. Especially for a player that defends with shrewdness and imagination to go along with his athletic talents.

  10. @27

    His approach is that of an old school slugger in that he figures he will hit the first strike thrown to him as hard as he can. The problem being that he is the 8-hole hitter which cuts down on the strikes you actually get, and he is not an old school slugger. This usually ends in him hitting a ball out of the zone on the ground as we all see on a regular basis.

  11. Bottom of the 9th prediction:

    J. Upton – Strikeout
    Johnson – Groundout
    La Stella – Walk
    Simmons – Groundout

    I pray that I am not correct, but if I were in Vegas, I would put my money on those results.

  12. Time for the Splendid Splinter to do his thing. I really think that could catch on Alex.

  13. 28-Greg walker teaches all hitters that same approach. Don’t be surprised that andrelton dives and hacks at anything close.

  14. @41 I am not really sure what Walker teaches these guys. Usually a team has some identity outside a hitter or two. The Braves have been all over the place the past couple of seasons with the way their batters approach their at bats. Situational hitting is not in their vocabulary for the most part.

    On another note. Great job fighting that off Simmons. All tied up.

  15. Alright. A little luck goes our way. Great baserunning by Justin there. I’m shocked he scored so easily.

  16. The only thing surprising about the Heyward at bat was that he didn’t ground out to 2nd

  17. I am sure what walker teaches these guys. If you’ve followed braves like a degenerate addict like me, you’ve heard all the particulars about walker. He teaches them a one-size-fits-all approach. Basically you have an “A-swing” and you wait for a pitch to put that swing on. That swing is a homerun swing. 2 strikes? Still A-swing. Runner on 3rd none out, tie game? A-swing. No adjustments to the pitcher. No changes in approach according to the situation. It is an offensive strategy to maximize home runs

  18. @48 That does sounding like the hitting approach we have been displaying since Walker arrived, but I thought Wren wants to stress situational hitting.

  19. Good morning. I see that the US beat Ghana. Nice! Now come on Braves and finish this up before I have to go to work.

  20. 50-maybe wren does, but I’m not sure he has any influence. The gm has to hire coaches who believe in his philosophy.

  21. To be honest, I guess we cannon really put all the blame on Walker. He has been handed guys who career stats mirror what they have done the past couple of seasons. The Uptons have always been strikeout prone. Also, neither has ever showed much control with the bat in a situational approach. Even as great as J. Upton is, he has always been a swing as hard as he can player. Chris Johnson’s swing is actually ideal for situation hitting. His inability to take pitches out of the zone is his downfall. Simmons is a defensive star who as soon as he could hit a little was brought up to the big leagues. Uggla was doomed by time. It has been stated that he was a self made player since his Marlins days. Self made players have a short shelf life due to physical attributes falling quicker for them than for pure talent players. A hitting coach can preach all day to players, but eventually, it is up to the player. I think for Walker, he may have accepted that he can’t change their tendencies. All he can do is try and fix the flaws in their swings.

    I am sure he would love a team full of Fredi Freemans, but it will never happen. At least he has La Stella, now.

  22. Damn, this team has an idiotic hitting approach. When the guys in the MLB studio can see that they’re not going to throw Justin anything hittable, maybe someone in the dugout could’ve figured it out.

  23. Bad enough you popped up, Justin, but my kid can’t sleep and she just heard that.

  24. I thought the pitch Justin popped up looked like a fat hanging breaking ball. I can understand him being mad that he missed it.

  25. And of course, Regression fans on a pitch he would’ve needed a golf club to hit properly.

  26. If the Braves are smart enough, they should really start looking into hiring the Cards people to teach hitting philosophy organization wide. The Braves have never been good in situational hitting for as long as I have been following them which is essentially my whole life.

  27. 60: Why? On a double play ball, it’s the batter-runner’s speed that matters, not the runner at first. You lose Gattis’s bat for Laird’s in a potentially crucial situation later. It’s not the winning run. Unless Gattis was gassed, it’s a terrible decision.

  28. @74 I try to like Justin. Since he is on my fantasy team for this and last seasons, it’s easier for me to like him. BJ is another matter though.

  29. If it comes down to it, I would PH with Minor over Uggla. I would also fire Walker and his buddy.

  30. 76- I actually though it was a decent decision and even one that took the game situation into account for once; a DP-heavy team needs to bring in a pinch-runner when avoiding the DP can be a gamewinning distinction.

  31. Gattis has caught 4 games in a row hasn’t he? He might have indeed been gassed. Or maybe just manager’s decision. They are really going out of their way to get him to the end of the year and have him not be totally burnt out.

  32. The Braves have 11 hits, three walks, and one run.

    Stat nerdery will tell you that hit clustering is mostly luck. Annoying tie game with the Phils notwithstanding, 14 base runners is a good sign.

  33. Gattis has caught four games in a row, and one of them he caught 11 innings before getting pulled. It’s a tough position, and you’d rather have the miniHamster bat next inning than waste a pinch hitter having Carpenter up in a meaningful situation.

  34. And of course a lead off single that will no doubt lead to the winning run. Just like Saturday night….fight back and tie but blow multiple opportunities to execute simple fundamental baseball and lose an extra inning heartbreaker

    Edit- or not. Thank you Simba and Laird

  35. Again, Greg Walker cannot be blamed for the Braves players swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. You cannot teach someone to have a good batter’s eye.

  36. @85 I never consider this to be a 0% or 100% thing. He has to take some blame to some extent. What is his role at the end of the day?

  37. Wow. We were that close to Simmons getting badly hurt there. Awesome play. Dangerous as hell, but awesome.

  38. 79: Again, how often does the runner from first’s speed determine the success or failure of a double play? Very, very rarely.

    If it was just a “get Evan some rest” thing, it makes sense. Gotta keep your big man healthy.

  39. 92- More to the point, he shouldn’t be trying to override basic baseball common sense. You don’t swing from your heels every time; you cut down the swing when you just need to make contact.

  40. @81, it ain’t poor clustering that led the Braves to leave men at 2nd and 3rd in the 10th, 1st and 2nd in the 9th, 1st and 2nd in the 8th, and to squander a bases loaded, no out situation in the 7th. If we could have gotten a fly ball to the outfield in either the 7th or the 10th, this game might be over. Either way, we’ve left at least one runner in scoring position in each of the last four innings. That suggests to me that the problem isn’t just with bad luck in clustering. It’s our approach with men on base.

  41. Fredi also took Gattis out in that 13 inning games the other night. I think we can conclude that “saving Gattis from extra inning games” may indeed be what’s in Fredi’s mind.

  42. The runner on first matters in a DP situation. Jordan Schafer gets to the bag faster and potentially breaks up the play with a hard slide. Evan Gattis peels off into RCF meekly. Both runners matter.

  43. I honestly don’t think the hitting coach is going to have much impact unless it’s a holistic/organizational thing like the A’s or Cards have. All these guys knocked the cover off the ball in high-school and early minors. If they slumped they most likely turned to their dads or someone in their inner circle. I think the same holds true in the majors. If you are in a funk you are gonna turn to the guys that have seen you play your whole life.

  44. Well, at this rate I just want this game to last long enough for Freddie to get up again and hit a homer. I didn’t see the game Mark Kotsay hit for the cycle and the last Brave to do it before him did it before I was born. I want to see a Braves cycle!

  45. @92

    Working the count only works if your players have a high contact rate. There are few players on the Braves team that have high contact rates which is why they have so man strikeouts. The worst thing to do for low contact players is to let them start off 0-1. To date, the only players on the Braves who shows an ability to work the count is La Stella, Heyward, and Freeman. The other 5 everyday starters are low contact batters.

  46. Joe basically saying that he would like to talk shit about defensive runs saved, but his own ignorance on the subject prevents him from doing so.

    Nevertheless, that still doesn’t prevent him from implying that there could be a possible shortcoming for an advanced statistic that he understands nothing about.

  47. Id like to know how many walks this team has with RISP. Seems our approach is to swing at anything that’s moving.

  48. The Braves have the least amount of at bats this year with RISP. That is a sad stat to be last in the league in.

  49. The average NL team had 70 walks with RISP going into tonight. The Braves? 60. The average NL team has 670 such plate appearances to the Braves’ 573. So not much difference in walk rate.

  50. Not really many choices, but a second inning with Carpenter is just asking to get beat.

  51. 24 pitches already for Carpenter. This will not end well

    Do not throw a first pitch fastball to Ruiz

  52. @111, yeah those numbers speak to our overall lack of anything resembling an acceptable team OBP. We’ve got 100 fewer PA’s with RISP than the average NL team? That’s a tremendous difference.

  53. Rob, there is a fan in the CF seats that is working with BJ on his swing. She is 8 and better than Walker and The Puppet.

  54. An injury would explain a lot about that 3.75 WHIP since the Boston series.

  55. @106

    B.J. Upton hitting in the low .200’s is not really a surprise. He was a wildcard his free agency year due to inconsistent career numbers. Most analyst had him as a guy who would get a big contract due to him being one of the few viable OF free agents that year. Also, the reason his stats looked so good his last year in Tampa was because of a monster September.

  56. I can’t seem to find team rankings for pitches per plate appearances, and I’m not sure where I think the Braves would be. They have 3 players in the top 40 in the NL, which is about average.

  57. I am not sure if we can really blame BJ on Walker as much as I want to. It seems to me that BJ messed up himself from the very beginning of last year.

  58. What was the storyline of this team last year, in the beginning of the year, when JUpton, BUpton, Gattis, CJ, and Andrelton were all brand new and had no exposure to Greg Walker? “This team will strike out a ton, walk a ton, and hit a ton of home runs.” The construction of the team was not a result of Walker’s coaching. The challenge is that we’ve become even more extreme in those three categories, specifically the strike outs, and there have been no adjustments.

  59. 123- We also have the players in next to last (Simmons) and 7th to last (Regression) among qualifiers. Drop the barrier to 200 PAs and Gattis is 4th to last, giving the Braves 3 of the bottom 8. Not good signs.

    130- Sadly, the walking isn’t extreme; we’re slightly below average. I mentioned another problem the offense is having a day or two ago: the Braves have at least ten fewer doubles than any other team in MLB.

  60. @ 130

    6th in K’s
    20th in BB’s
    10th in HR’s

    Hardly a winning formula for the long run considering so many of our HR’s are solo.

  61. @130, the three-outcome lineup construction can win a lot of game – but you have to walk a lot. Seems like our guys have bought into all the hype about 8 guys that can hit 20 HRs, and it’s become kind of a self-fulfilling thing. This is the type of team we are – we don’t need to change – etc.

  62. At this point, might as well swing for the fences. Not like we’re going to move ’em over and home.

  63. What exactly is BJ is looking for with 2 strikes? Truly it’s one of nature’s great unsolved mysteries.

  64. BJ must be guessing pitches. That’s the only reason he would be staring at strike three down the middle. If I have to guess, surprise! Something must be wrong with his eyes.

  65. Okay so now every single player on the team can be the goat tonight.

    A true team loss.

  66. David Hale and the 13th inning are not a good mix. These loses are the worst. I’d rather us just not come back and not kill our bullpen.

  67. David Hale, aka “white flag”, is going to take blame, and we’re going to read more and more about how we need bullpen help. Lost in the shuffle will be the fact that we can’t freaking score.

  68. This is a poorly managed, poorly coached, talented team. Walker is toxic. Those of you who defend him are the worst kind of homers. He teaches free swingers to swing harder. Why would that be an effective strategy?

  69. @153

    I think we’re all pretty certain this game was lost when just one of seven players to get on base with one out or less in the 7th, 9th and 10th scored.

  70. I’ve switched over to Cubs-Marlins. The Cubbies just scored in the top of the 13th, and if they hold on, we can spend one more day in first place.

  71. 159-it’s a sickness. I follow this here to beat back the frediot and walker supporters down into the bowels of the earth

  72. And Russell and the Cubs hold on. We’ll be half a game up on the Nats and one ahead of the Fish tomorrow morning. Woo hoo.

  73. Poor David Hale.

    Before the 13th inning Saturday, his ERA was 1.84. It is now 3.13.

  74. @154

    It doesn’t matter who the hitting coach is when you have free swingers. Working the count is an art of players who can make consistent contact when swinging. You can tell every player on your team to take every pitch until they get a strike. As soon as they get that strike, they will go to swinging just as usual. All this method does is allow the other team to know they have a free strike at the beginning of the at bat. Again, a batter’s eye cannot be taught. To be honest, I bet the Braves have held on to Walker because they know there is no hitting coach in the league who would want to take on the group of batters the Braves have to offer them.

  75. We’re here to the bitter end. Or the lager end. Depends what’s on tap.

  76. I like to get uggla in there for an at-bat or two. U gotta keep him ready because “one day were gonna need a big knock out of him”. Fredi said the preceding. With a straight face.

    Fredi Gonzalez is the worst manager in baseball.

  77. That was a great time for the “Uggla showcase”. I can’t believe the Yankees aren’t biting yet. They are just playing it cool I guess.

  78. 168-making contact is largely a function of how hard you swing and how much is required to start the swing. Contact rate absolutely can be influenced by knowledge and coaching.

  79. If Regression had gotten that hit a couple of hours ago, we’d be home and dry now.

  80. If having a coach truly didn’t matter, then we should fire Walker anyway and give his salary to the poor or something. If the guy is truly having no effect whatsoever, then there’s no reason to keep him on. If the guy is having a negative effect, then we should fire him.

    If anyone thinks that he’s helping… well, I have a bridge I’d like to sell them.

  81. I agree that a coach or player should be released if they are affecting a team negatively. If Walker has to be the fall guy for the suffering bats, I can see that since he is the hitting coach. But, I think we can all agree that Gonzalez has made some pretty questionable managerial calls this season with horrible results, too. Should he not be held accountable, too? Then, you have Uggla and B.J.. Uggla is a 25th man who provides us nothing. Cut him loose and eat the money. It opens up a spot for Pastornicky who can at least play left field, second, and shortstop questionably and hit better than Uggla. B.J. has no true spot that he fits in the order, so why not give it to Cunningham down in triple AAA who has some speed and switch hits? This would involve an outfield changeup in that Cunningham is LF, J. Upton is RF, and Heyward is CF.

    The reason why none of this will change mid season you ask? Frank Wren is no idiot. He knows that if he gets rid of Walker and there is no change in the hitting this season, Gonzalez and him are goners if the Braves miss out on the playoffs. Also, Uggla could be a possible wash, but there is no way they cut ties with B.J. due to the fact it might lead to issues with J. Upton.

  82. Maybe it’s been pointed out and I missed it, but TLS already has four more hits than Uggla in the majors this year.

  83. @179

    That is the stat of the week. Wow!


    We are not going to release BJ, it would be foolish to do so. He is on pace to up about 2.0 WAR. That is probably better than Cunningham or anyone else at Gwinnett can do in the outfield.

    When you are paying a guy as much as the Braves are paying him, and he is putting up hitting numbers this far below his career norm over two season, it might be a management issue. I don’t think the Braves are going to fire Fredi (unless we totally tank) and they sure aren’t cutting BJ Upton.

  84. @178

    I also don’t think they pull the trigger on Walker durring the season. That is not a typical Braves move.

    I highly doubt he is brought back next season, unless things change.

  85. The Wren-Fredi extensions guarantee that they are not going anywhere this offseason.

  86. @183

    I agree. The only way Fredi is gone is if we finish with 65 wins and BJ gets in a fight with Freeman in the dugout.

  87. Fredi’s weaknesses get exposed in close games — much like those of our bench and bullpen. But, from my perspective, he hasn’t been underperforming expectations. The offense is. We got the winning run to third base with fewer than two outs in both the 7th and the 10th, and we hit ground balls. That suggests that a lot of our hitters simply do not have a good plate approach — and that means that the coaching staff simply has not been preparing them well.

  88. I agree totally with Salty. Why blame Greg Walker and not Frank Wren? He put the team together. Do you really think Greg Walker’s hitting philosophy is “swing as hard as you can on every pitch regardless of where the pitch is and regardless of the situation?”

    You can’t make chickesalad out of chickenshit and that’s what a lot of the Braves hitters are. Wren, whether consciously or not, modeled this team along the old Baltimore Orioles, ie. emphasis on 3-run homers. The problem is, those Orioles were also selective. (And the strategy didn’t work all that well in the World Series anyway.) Last year, everyone knew it was a team with lots of strikeouts and lots of homeruns. But they at least got on base a lot so the strategy worked well at times. This year, it’s a lot of strikeouts, few walks, and fewer home runs. This is Walker’s fault? Did these guys forget about not swinging at bad pitches? Is this something a major league hitter really needs to be told? Is it really Greg Walker’s fault that Justin Upton, one of the better players in baseball at times, had one of the worst at bats in the history of baseball last night? It’s not exactly rocket science.

    I always looked at hitting coaches’ job at the major league level as to help the hitters with their mechanics and the technical aspect of hitting. You need a hitting coach for that. Other than that, they are overrated. Pitching is different, but it sure helps a pitching coach to have good pitchers. The philosophy comes from the type of hitters the front office provides. Is it Greg Walker’s fault that Jason Heyward can’t hit lefties and, basically can’t hit anything above the belt? Really, it it Greg Walker’s fault the B.J. Upton is one of the worst hitters in the game? Do you think he’s telling him, “gee, B.J. just keep doing what you’ve been doing-it’s working so well?”

    Moreover, who do you hire that would be any better? The Braves have had 6000 hitting coaches over the years and, as far as I can see, none have made much difference. Get better hitters and I bet the hitting coach would look better.

    As far as Fredi, his decisons wouldn’t make much damn difference if these idiots could hit worth a shit.

  89. When some players come up and go on a tear, a winning streak usually comes with it. La Stella has been a revelation, but it hasn’t brought with it a string of wins. If we were on a 7 game winning streak, we’d be naming our kids “Streetcar”.

  90. @187 – Totally agree. Blaming the hitting coach is a waste of time. The players have to execute.

    That being said, I also take into account that the pitcher/defense has the big advantage in these confrontations. Then I remember that these guys are paid huge sums of money because they are blessed with preternatural reflexes and hand to eye coordination and get all pissed off when they don’t execute. I sure as hell don’t blame the hitting or pitching coach.

    Just saying. I’ve been noticing that Phil Gosselin has been getting a lot of playing time in LF at Gwinnette. Can he play 3b? He has played 2b. Before y’all start yelling at me I know he is just an organizational soldier who is having a career year. but….

  91. About the hitting coach, we wanted Larry Parrish’s head on a pike and we got it. Now we want Walker’s head on a pike, and for all I know we soon might have it.

    That’s all nice, but in the end what remains is the same sorry lot of hitters.*

    * Not including La Stella in this assessment, as he represents tremendous improvement over the fellow he replaced.

  92. A hitting coach’s job is to set a philosophy for the team on hitting. I agree, the Braves have a lot of aggressive hitters. However, it seems like we become even more aggressive with runners on base.
    At this point I think it is absolutely fair to question if our hitting philosophy is the problem, or are these guys just too stupid to get it.

    I don’t think these guys are adjusting well. Their pitch recognition is poor. I think a lot of this has to do with coaching or at least scouting.

    I think Jason Heyward is a great example of this. He has had a hole in his swing forever. He consistently hits the ball on the ground to second base. He takes forever to adjust. When he does, he goes on tears. It just takes about a month. This guys is too talented to be like that.

    If it is really the hitters going up there constantly swinging at bad pitches and they are being told to have a different philosophy, then it is a coach/management issue for not getting them to buy in.

    Don Baylor was the last great hitting coach the Braves had.

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