In which we Biddle another one away.

I promised Rob I’d talk today about JC’s paper on changes in aggregate player compensation over time.  I’m not going to do it, and Rob can fire me if he wants to.  I preemptively agree to a 50% cut in pay this week, but I plan to grace the off day next week with a piece on an economist’s take on the Albies extension.

In off the field news, Vizzy has fizzled, as surgery has put him out for the year.  Given Minter’s sterling performance  last night, one could be confident if only there were an available free agent closer….. But I wouldn’t worry.  Kameron Loe has contacted the Braves and his signing would allow them to maintain financial flexibility.  This allows me to recycle my favorite Braves song parody from 6 years ago.  Anita O’Day would also be a possibility, but she died in 2006.  As far as I’m concerned, she’s the best possibility we have in the O’Day lineage at the moment.

Tonight’s game was a battle between the best two pitchers with names beginning with G who aren’t named Greinke.  (Apologies to Gohara, but he’s currently operating under the O’Day rule.)  Both Kevin “Natural” Gausman and Zack “Next to Cleanly” Godley (and I’m not apologizing to Chris Berman) pitched into the 7th. 3 hits for Gausman and 5 hits for Godley, who departed when he walked McCann to start the 7th with no subsequent damage.

In the bottom of the 2nd, B-Mac marked his return from the International League (I’m sorry… but I’m an old fart and that’s what IL means to me.  Don’t judge… I’ll be dead soon enough) with a double scoring Markakis and Swanson.  But the ensuing 1st and 3rd with no outs was squandered.  Marked for future recriminations if necessary.

Today’s classic Chipism in the 3rd: “You can’t steal first if you can’t hit the baseball.”  This has the astonishing virtue of being both incoherent and wrong, since a missed third strike is the only way you can even conceptually steal first.

Adam Jones dinged Gausman in the 4th (his first hit surrendered) to cut the lead to one. 

The Braves threatened again with two on and one out in the sixth, but ended with thwarted opportunity #2.  Store second potential recrimination.  A two-out double from Ketel “One” Marte scored Jones in the top of the 7th to tie the game.  Pop the two previous stored recriminations from the stack.

The bottom of the 7th saw another opportunity lost with strikeouts from Albies and Donaldson with two on.  Cue more recriminations.

So we enter the 8th tied with the game in the hands of the bullpen.  What could go wrong? 

Parsons worked around a hit and stolen base in the eighth, matched by Bradley in the bottom.  Minter worked around a single in the top of the 9th, and Bradley pitched around an Inciarte double in the bottom of the 9th.  (Are the squandered opportunities starting to bug you yet?)

The 10th found the return of Biddle.  Let’s see… did he recover from yesterday?  What say you to a Biddle error and three walks to walk in a run?  What say anyone?  That it’s hard to rely on Braves relievers?  That it would be great if there were an available competent reliever on the free agent market?  That we need to see Dan Winkler?  Well, if the last was your feeling, you get your wish!  Winkler came in to get the bases loaded strikeout to allow the heart of the order to try and welcome Dan back with a win.

Greg Holland comes in for the DBacks with an ERA of 0 and a WHIP of 0.5.  Donaldson? K.  Freddie? K.  RAJ? Single!  Neck? Liner to center.  Another loss. Well, at least his WHIP went up.

So do you blame Biddle or the lost chances?  I’m not about blame, so I leave it to you.  (OK… I wrote the title, so maybe there’s a smidgeon of blame.) Soroka season debut tomorrow at noon.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

75 thoughts on “In which we Biddle another one away.”

  1. Just got back from this latest stinker. Throw shade at the pen all you want, and they do deserve it, but this one is on the offense. Donaldson is my personal whipping boy, he was awful tonight.

    If you only give up 2 in 9 innings, you should win.

    Snitker is still gonna bring in our lefties to pitch to 3 or 4 straight righties, and none of them have the arsenal to do much against them. This will apparently never change as long as Snitker is here, so the only solution is gonna be to score more than 5 every night and hope that’s enough.

  2. Sometimes you have to feel for the player:

    Video in the tweet.

  3. In a deep pen, you give the guy a day off. In a bad pen, you keep running them out there, and I don’t think that’s good for anybody.

  4. Unfortunately for Biddle, in a deep pen he’s probably not on the team. Are there any teams in baseball this year with a deep pen? I don’t think any of them are in the NL East.

  5. Thank you, JonathanF, for my favorite recap of the year: highly entertaining, in turn hilarious, tragic and mysterious. I laughed, I cried, unfortunately it was a part of me. Great synopsis of this mess of a game.

  6. @5 I think he’s still on the team but with a shorter leash if we even had 2 of Venters, O’Day, and Vizzy.

    I think Vizzy has played Atlanta multiple times. I don’t know why the Braves let this happen. His injury report reads like a rap sheet of a constant offender. He should have cut that thing up years ago, it seems.

    We have $19M — a little over 15% of our payroll — tied up in O’Day, Venters, Vizzy, and Adam Duvall.

  7. Watching the end of that game, seeing Bradley and Holland mow through Atlanta hitters without breaking a sweat, while the Braves’ relief pitchers huffed and
    sputtered and predictably coughed up the game . . . something in me snapped.

    Why the hell should I waste my fandom on a well-resourced team that, by all available evidence, knows it has a dumpster fire of a bullpen–and doesn’t really care?

    I’m done.

    Living in Philly as a Braves fan–where the local team did so many shrewd things to get better, while the Braves dealt in tokenism (I’m looking at you, Josh Donaldson)–is too demoralizing.

    Since I have family and friends in Houston, and no current connection to Atlanta anyway, the Astros are a more natural fit for me. It’s a plus that the ownership actually seems to give a shit about winning.

    My National League team is now the cross-state Pirates. They represent a great city, and at least the ownership is basically honest about what the team is.

    I’ve enjoyed eavesdropping on the (mostly) intelligent and compelling discussions on this board since the late ’90s. (I won’t miss Sam’s shtick too much.)

    Good luck, y’all.

  8. The removal of the waiver wire deadline will make it easier on me to decide if I’ve been hoodwinked. If the Braves don’t do anything at the deadline, I’ll feel similar to Mark. Not yet. I’m also saying preemptively that I won’t accept beat writer-speak that the Braves didn’t add at the deadline because they weren’t close enough to contention. They’re there by their own doing. May this thread be sealed in the annals of history.

  9. One thing that I look for in a reliable reliever is the ability to have a clean outing (no baserunners). I’m not sure how to look up league average in this regard, but the Braves pen has been horrible this year. I went back through each boxscore and found the following (note I didn’t consider Touki’s 6 innings on Saturday in these figures):

    Team 16 clean outings in 64 chances (3 of the clean outings were just one batter, only two of them were longer than an inning Tomlin both times).

    Parsons 5 of 9 clean
    Tomlin 2 of 3 clean
    Sobotka 3 of 8 clean
    Fried 1 of 2 clean
    Winkler 1 of 1 clean

    Biddle 1 of 10 clean!
    Jackson 1 of 9 clean
    Minter 1 of 7 clean
    Venters 1 of 6 clean
    Carle 0 of 4 clean
    Viz 0 of 4 clean
    Webb 0 of 1 clean

    Jackson somehow has 8 of 9 appearance scoreless at least.

  10. @ #10

    “May this thread be sealed in the annals of history.”

    Indeed! Three homonyms in the same sentence!

  11. Who can help a man of meager mental means such as myself find sortable team H/9 rankings?

  12. No luck finding it online, but I created a spreadsheet as hits and innings were easy to find.

    Team Pitching lowest H/9:

    1 Tampa Bay 6.39
    2 Houston 6.52
    3 Pittsburgh 6.61
    4 Detroit 6.88
    5 Cleveland 7.33
    6 Toronto 7.33
    7 San Francisco 7.50
    8 Cincinnati 7.77
    9 Minnesota 7.78
    10 Oakland 7.84
    11 Colorado 7.91
    12 LA Dodgers 7.95
    13 NY Yankees 8.01
    14 Atlanta 8.17
    15 St. Louis 8.21
    16 San Diego 8.25
    17 LA Angels 8.65
    18 Seattle 8.67
    19 Arizona 8.72
    20 Chicago Sox 8.76
    21 Miami 8.84
    22 Milwaukee 8.89
    23 Chicago Cubs 9.06
    24 Philadelphia 9.06
    25 Kansas City 9.34
    26 Texas 9.36
    27 Washington 9.38
    28 Boston 9.49
    29 NY Mets 9.73
    30 Baltimore 10.04

  13. This just reinforces what I think a lot of us already know about the bullpen, which is that they don’t so much as have a hits allowed issue. Walk the bases loaded and then walk in a run. That was the kiss of death.

  14. MLB needs to take a stance on bat flips and showboating.


    1. Endorse it and suspend the hell out of pitchers who retaliate, or
    2. Ban it and penalize players who engage in showboating.

    Eventually, someone’s gonna get hit in the head with a retaliation pitch.

    These benches-clearing incidents over every bat flip is entertaining but tiresome.

  15. I’ve been in the camp of “let the kids play” when it comes to our starting pitching. Max has delivered. I still like Mike. Touki looked great in his debut. But as someone said in a previous thread, you have to have a lockdown bullpen in order to make that work. It’s comical that Luke Jackson is our most reliable reliever right now. If we lose the division by 2 games, it will clearly be because of our shitty bullpen. Inexcusable.

  16. Sam, Mark emailed me to tell me that he enjoyed my shtick.

    Mark from @9. Okay. Cool.

    Bye, Felicia.

  17. Technically, the pen has only cost us 1.2 wins (bWAR) so far. Tied with Miami for second to worst in baseball, while being a full win better than league worst KCR.

  18. I feel like that is one of the ways that WAR can be misleading, where you’re trying to try a direct correlation between a unit’s WAR to the win total of the team. I feel like it comes out in the wash between hitting, defense, starter WAR, reliever WAR, but it can get misleading assessing one unit.

  19. Both schticks mentioned in this thread are to be hated equally and aggressively.

    I get Mark’s frustration. We bet on the bullpen, and we’re currently losing. After everything, it’s frustrating to be here, especially on back-to-back nights.

    With that said, it’s a small unit to fix, and we have the talent to fix it via trade. And mayyyyyybe internally.

  20. Of course those losses sucks. But turning your back on your team because of that or because of our bullpen and/or lack of activity? Give me a break. Enjoy the Pirates.

  21. Soroka will do nicely. Where, oh where has our offense gone? And how do we keep sitting Johan? That young man can play.

  22. @30 I think the Johan in Left and RAJ in center needs to keep happening, regardless if it is a right handed or left handed of the pitcher

  23. You know, last year when Chip and especially Joe were annoying you could just change to the radio overlay.
    Now since Chip is hard to take, you can’t even switch to radio overlay since that’s where Joe is hanging around. So the only option is to go “park overlay”. Hm.

    @30 Luke Weaver is pretty awesome though.

  24. Why does it seem like every time we have a 9-10 pitch AB we get a K and when the other team does it, it’s a hit or W?

  25. @27

    It is easy to fix. The problem is even the most casual Braves fan knew it needed to be upgraded this winter. The front office did nothing and it has already cost us 3-4 games.

    It seems like they are playing for 2021.

  26. @35 It seems like they are playing for 2021.

    I don’t think they plan to be in the picture for much longer. They’re getting ready to sell. They’ve teamed up with MLB to buy Fox Sports, and then we can expect to see a For Sale sign on the Braves and Braves-related properties.

    Hopefully they don’t sell themselves a 30-year Braves TV deal at $1 million per.

  27. @8 Agreed, Vizzy has seemingly played Atlanta a bit.

    Tommy La Stella was/is not a great player. I cringed when Atlanta traded him to the Cubs though way back when, just to reacquire Viz. La Stella is at least a gamer. Viz, on the other hand, has somehow found a way to be both good, and completely and utterly useless at the same time.

  28. I don’t have so much a problem with trading for Vizzy at the time. La Stella has definitely turned out better. It’s how Vizzy has conducted himself since that bothers me.

  29. @41. Yeah. I also prefer Frenchy to Glavine. Glavine doesn’t say much and Chip thinks he needs to talk for both of them.

  30. Tommy LaStella once literally refused to play (in AAA) because he didn’t think he should be demoted. Hard to square that with the “gamer” tag.

  31. Whatever the question was, Sobotka wasn’t the answer.

    That’s 2 more “unclean” appearances out of 2 making our relievers 16 out of 66 in having a clean outing.

  32. @48: Nice. I was trying to work something out with Rome, but gave up. Atlanta is more direct and satisfying.

  33. I feel for Snit. His options suck. He can overuse the capable few until they too are incapable, or he can use the refuse and pray for a miracle. Our bullpen truly sucks.

  34. A clean reliever inning? Tomlin ups his totals to 3 of 4 clean appearance (two of them were more than an inning) assuming he’s done.

  35. As bad as the bullpen is, the offense just laid down for the series, scoring only 3 runs in 2 games. No excuses for the bullpen, but these were also very winnable games.

  36. I’ve been wanting a good excuse to get out to Sun Trust for the first time, but it’s looking like there isn’t much to see there this year, if things don’t change for the better.

  37. 64-I mean they are 9-9 with some dreadful bullpen work and without the ace of the staff.

    The offense has been mostly good to great and it’s a fun young club.

    So, no-nothing to see.

  38. Have you guys ever followed an entire baseball season before? Sometimes you’re in a groove. Sometimes, the groove is in you.

  39. I’m tempted to sarcastically wish Mark good-bye, but he’s been around here forever, and instead, I find myself just wondering what it would take for me to reach such a breaking point. I’m not close, but man, it’s happened to more than one good fan around here over the past few years.

  40. In the near-100 loss season depths of the rebuild, I rarely found myself with a desire to watch the Braves play, much less on a nightly basis. I understand the urge to shut down the super-fan behavior when the product on the field is less than satisfying.

    What I don’t understand is the emotional hook required to come here and declare your divorce from the terrible, bad, no good team as loudly as you can. It just feels silly and overly childish.

  41. You have to be in the top 1% of Brave fandom to even find this place, let alone post here regularly over the years. This is often a place to vent. Drunken in-game over-statements are understandable – even healthy. I don’t buy the “I’m done” stuff. I want to say it, often lately, but I know it’s not true. I’m numb to bad baseball. I watch because eventually we’re going to win again. Maybe. There’s no way you can switch teams this late in the game. I’d have to give up baseball completely – which isn’t gonna happen.

  42. I’ll never quit the Braves. I may hate the owners of the team, but the team is the team. They’re completely separate of ownership and even, in these strange times, the front office. The players sit more on the side of the fans than they do the owners. They probably know only a little more than we’re told, and at the end of the day no one has as much invested or more at stake in dealing with the owners than the players.

    And that’s why I’ll probably spend hundreds of dollars to go see them at SunTrust this year and get the whole experience. I want to see our guys play ball. And when they inevitably lose the game I’ve gone to see, probably because of the terrible bullpen, maybe I’ll be responsible for a “Sell the Braves” chant that can be heard on TV. :)

  43. I’d have abandoned the Braves years ago, but my local teams are the Mets and the Yankees, and there’s far too much running around in soccer.

  44. Alex, Arodys Vizcaino has been on the disabled at least 3 different times in the last 2 years due to “right shoulder inflammation”, twice of which were last year. He was out from 6/14 to 7/7, then shut down again from 7/14 to 9/10 last year. And there has now been two different times in the last year, that we know of, where he’s shut himself down. Who just shuts their shoulder down — twice! — and the team doesn’t have an issue with what the heck is going on?

    Why would Atlanta, knowing that they either have the opportunity to non-tender him or pay him $4.8M knowing all about his right shoulder issues, let him shut himself down twice, and never at any point recommend that he have shoulder surgery? It just doesn’t add up that he continually has right shoulder issues, he shuts himself down at least a couple times, and the team has plenty of incentive to cut him open and see if that fixes him. They tender him a contract they clearly would have not wanted to if he wasn’t even going to make it through Spring Training, and it appears they have had no control over what Vizzy does with his bum shoulder. It just doesn’t add up that the Braves never recommended surgery.

    It’s more likely that Vizzy strung his shoulder along long enough to get to his final arb year, that last big payday, and then he shuts himself down, and then finally accepts shoulder surgery. It’s also interesting that the Braves have communicated kinda weirdly about his injuries as well.

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