July 10, 2009 at 6:46 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, New York Mutts, Transactions
Jeff Francoeur was traded to the New York Mets for Ryan Church. I’m initially pleased with the move. I’ll need a few days to digest it before I give it any serious thought. Just a couple of tidbits:
1) Church is hitting .280/.332/.375 this year, Francoeur is hitting .250/.282/.352 aided by his 3-double performance last night.
2) Church is hitting .326/.359/.444 in ballparks not named Citi Field.
3) Church makes less money than Francoeur and they’ve both got 2 arbitration years left after this one.
4) Church has a career OPS+ of 108, Francoeur has a career OPS+ of 109 89.
5) From what I can gather without looking it up, Church is a superior defensive player.
6) Francoeur sucks.
7) Surely the Mets will option him to AAA, right?
Thoughts? Discussion? Points? I want to hear ‘em.
May 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, New York Mutts, Series Preview, Series Thoughts
A win that put us on cloud 9, a loss that put us in the trenches, and another win that put us right back where we started. That’s what happened. Here’s how it went down.
In the first game, Santana vs. Lowe, neither pitcher was particularly brilliant. Santana pitched 6 and 1/3 innings of 1-run ball before being pulled with a runner on 1st. The Braves had baserunners all night against him, but being Johan Santana, he was able to strand most of them. We worked the count well, something we haven’t done all season which pisses me off, and he was at over 100 pitches when he was pulled. Mets and Braves fans alike can both attribute to what unfolded in the latter stages of the game to the Mets bullpen imploding and shoddy defense, as they allowed 6 runs (only 3 earned), in the next 2 and 2/3 innings. The big hit was had by Matt Diaz, who singled off Pedro Feliciano with the bases loaded in the 7th to plate 2 runs and break open the lead. Why Jerry Manuel left Feliciano, a lefty, in to face Matt Diaz, a righty who a) murders left-handed pitching and b) is pretty much completely inept at hitting right-handed pitching, I will never know, but it cost the Mets. Feliciano of course didn’t lose that game by himself, 3 other Mets relievers pitched and they all allowed runs. Also, if Jose Reyes makes a fairly routine play Feliciano gets out of the inning clean. Lowe allowed 3 singles, 2 doubles, and 2 walks in his 6 and 2/3 inning 2-run performance. He only struck out 1 batter and it wasn’t his best game. He did have the sinker working, inducing 15 ground-ball outs. Carlyle gave up a run in the 9th, but the Braves had already scored 8 to the Mets 2 at that point, so it wasn’t like they were close to threatening. Moylan and Soriano were both used in the game. I have already been on my rant about how abused our bullpen has been, so I won’t go there in this post.
I want to take a second to say how impressed I am with Lowe as an individual. First of all, Bobby Cox says Lowe is the hardest working pitcher he’s ever had. Bobby Cox has been in this league a long, long time, and for HIM to say someone is the hardest working he’s ever had, that means A LOT. Secondly, here’s a quote from David O’Brien about the mood in the clubhouse after the first game:
Lot of optimism in that clubhouse after this one. I asked Lowe about the 5-1 trip and he said this was what a lot of people, the Braves included, had been waiting to see from this team.
And he said he likes their chances to win this series, particularly with “our best pitcher going tomorrow.” Those were his words about Jair Jurrjens
Lowe is the guy who signed the big 60 million dollar contract this off-season, but he’s humble enough to say that a sophomore 23-year old who most people had never heard of before last season is our best pitcher. That’s just impressive to me. I’m usually not impressed with Derek Lowe’s outings, but dang, he impressed me more with that quote than he possibly could with an outing.
The second game. Ugh. I wish I could forget it. Jurrjens spun a gem, allowing 5 baserunners through 7 innings, 4 hits and a walk. In the 8th, he gave up 2 singles and a double which Jose Reyes tried to stretch into a triple and was thrown out doing so (he was actually safe, the ump blew the call), with a flyout somewhere in there, and exited the game having allowed 2 runs in 7 and 2/3 innings. Moylan failed to retire the only batter he faced and O’Flaherty got us out of the inning still up 3-2. Mike Gonzalez gave up a lead-off double to Carlos Beltran who stole 3rd a batter later (the replay showed he was out and again the umpires blew the call, but I guess it evens out because they get the run either way) and came home on a sacrifice fly. 3-3. Jeff Bennett came on to pitch the 10th. Stop right there. I know what you’re thinking. But, it was probably Bobby’s best option at the time. Soriano was unavailable because he’d been used way too much for the past week, Gonzalez, Moylan, and O’Flaherty had all been used, and you want to save your long-men (Parr and Carlyle) for either a) later in the game if it goes past 10 innings or b) the next day because Jo Jo Reyes was scheduled to pitch. Anyway, Bennett walked in the winning run. And guess who drew the walk? Yep, that’s right, the only good player on the Mets who is actually playing well right now, Carlos Beltran. By the way, that dude is really damn good. One of the top-5 players in the game I’d imagine. Not far out of it if he is.
The third game went pretty much exactly as advertised. Jo Jo Reyes started and was awful as usual. He left having already allowed 2 runs and the bases loaded with no outs in the third, and Buddy Carlyle promptly gave up a grand slam to Fernando Tatis. To that point we had scored 4 runs, so down 6-4 wasn’t that awful. Niese started the game for the Mets and was chased in the 5th. The Braves battled back and scored 3 more runs to take the lead, but Soriano gave up a run in the bottom of the 8th (probably because he’s been so over-used), and the bats on both sides of the ball kind of died until the top of the 12th, when Martin Prado hit a home run to make it 8-7. At that point, the Braves had used all 13 position players, 6 relief pitchers, Reyes, and Kawakami had pinch-hit. Luckily the 1 pitcher Bobby saved was Gonzalez, who, despite being very wild and looking like he had nothing left in the tank (though he still hit 95 with his fastball), pitched around a double to Jose Reyes (that missed being a game-tying home run by about a foot), and nailed down the save. The Braves used 22 players in that game, which has to be a record for the season. Lowe, Vazquez, and Jurrjens were the only players we didn’t use. Thank god today’s an off-day.
It was an exciting series. It felt like October. Both sides made their share of bad plays, but both sides made their share of excellent plays. Good baseball all around.
Looking forward, we’ve got the Diamondbacks at the Ted for a weekend series. Vazquez, Kawakami, and Lowe will pitch. They’ll be opposed by Doug Davis (who kind of sucks, even though he’s a remarkable story), Max Scherzer (young strikeout machine who I will make it a point of interest to see in person), and Jon Garland (groundball specialist who isn’t that good and has been pitching horribly this season). Reasons I’m dissappointed about how the schedule treats us: I don’t get to watch Dan Haren face the Braves. Reasons I’m excited about how the schedule treats us: I don’t have to watch Dan Haren face the Braves. Webb is on the DL by the way, so we didn’t exactly miss their 2 best pitchers by luck of scheduling.
Davis has been pitching well of late, but the regulars in the line-up hit lefties well (Kotchman, Diaz (not really a reg), McCann, Francoeur, Kelly). It seems like a good day to rest Schafer and let Infante get some work in at Center. I’d play Diaz, Infante, Francoeur, Kotchman, Kelly, Yunel (who interestingly hits righties better than lefties), Chipper, and B-Mac. All of those guys are either a) right-handed hitters, b) left-handed hitters who hit lefties as well as righties, or c) switch-hitters named Chipper Jones.
Scherzer is going to be fun to watch. He’s a guy who you can get into his head, so be patient, wait for a mistake, and do some damage. Garland isn’t a quality pitcher, and his BB/9 is throught he roof, so patience is huge. Stay away from the DP too, he’s a ground-ball specialist.
Overall, this is a very sweepable series. May we do so.
Players I like watching on the D-Backs: Stephen Drew (a favorite of mine), Justin Upton, Dan Haren (who we won’t see), and Max Scherzer.
May 11, 2009 at 7:07 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, New York Mutts, Philadelphia Philthies, Series Preview, Series Thoughts
Again we win a series in Philly, although we didn’t play as well as we did in the first series. We lost the first game behind Reyes’s terrible outing. He gave up 8 runs (only 4 were earned because of 2 errors in 1 inning, 1 by Escobar and 1 by Reyes, both on routine plays). Anyway, we pretty much didn’t have a chance after that and never really threatened to come close to the 10 runs they eventually scored. Kotchman hit a 3-run blast off Lidge in the 9th, but that would only make us 4 runs away, and we lost 10-6.
Vazquez was vintage in the 2nd game striking out 7 in 7 and 2/3 innings while allowing 4 hits (2 home runs) and 2 runs (both earned) while walking none. The offense scratched across 6 runs, McCann and Escobar both hit 2-run homers. We used Gonzalez in the 9th to protect a 4-run lead for some reason, which pissed me off because he’d been used 3 of the past 4 days. And it turns out, he’d be needed the following day, so he’s now pitched on 5 of the past 6 days including 2 in a row. And he won’t be available for the first game against the Mets and Santana. A starter that we’ve needed a closer against every time we’ve faced him last year.
Anyway, in game 3 Kawakami labored through 6 innings of 2-run ball. He looked sub-optimal and really struggled, but 2 runs in 6 innings is a quality start nonetheless. The Braves got 3 RBI’s from Kotchman and 1 from Garret Anderson. The bullpen shut them down. O’Flaherty pitched the 7th, Gonzo the 8th because Howard, Ibanez, and Stairs were due, and Soriano the 9th. The Braves won 4-2.
Looking forward to the Mutts series, we’ll face them for 3 games in our first trip to Citi Field. Interestingly, we’re matched up perfectly. #1 vs. #1, #2 vs. #2, and #5 vs. #5. Unfortunately, their #1 is named Johan Santana and ours is named something else. Jurrjens should have the edge over Pelfrey and we have no idea what to expect out of Niese, but he’s been terrible at AAA so I like our chances to take 2/3 from the Mutts. It’d sure make me happy.
Having McCann back is so huge. He really is our only good, young player. The way he takes pitches and works the count is unique on our team and universal on most good teams. Although Kotchman has been taking a lesson or 2 from him recently.
Hopefully we’ll put it together a good series and upset the Mutts’ winning streak. I hate the Mets.
Game’s about to be on.
It’d be great to take 4/6 from the Mutts and Philthies on the road and get back to 500 in the process.
May 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, New York Mutts, Series Preview, Series Thoughts, Transactions
Well, at least the Braves will be nice and rested for the Marlins series, because they completely took the day off on Monday and Tuesday. I’m not even going to talk about the Mets series because it’s just going to piss me off. I’ll just leave you 2 quotes. First is from Matthew Pouliot of Circling the Bases:
The Braves rewarded Garret Anderson’s refusal to go on a rehab assignment by inserting him right into the cleanup spot in his return from the disabled list. He went hitless — against Livan Hernandez of all pitchers — but he did make it through nine innings without being charged with an error.
We don’t know the circumstances surrounding Garret’s alleged refusal to go on a rehab assignment, but we do know that he sucks and shouldn’t be starting.
The second is from our back-up catcher, David Ross (per the AJC):
Ross said, “Schafer isn’t the only one struggling. I’m struggling. It’s a team unit. Schafer was getting some hits early. Everybody struggles at times.”
Ross makes a great point. I’ll take it a step further. Everyone on the offense is struggling. Our offense is just absolutely pathetic.
Looking forward, which is an easy thing to do given our pathetic preformance so far, we’ll be facing the fish down in South Florida for another 2-game set. It’s a quirky thing with MLB scheduling, but every team had a 2-game series on Monday and Tuesday and everyone has a 2-game series on Wednesday and Thursday. The people that do scheduling are a lot smarter than I so I’m sure they have a good reason for doing so.
Anyway, we’re sending Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens, our 2 best starters, to the hill for this series. They’re sending Graham Taylor and Anibal Sanchez, their 2 worst starters, to the hill for the series. If you’ve never heard of Graham Taylor that’s because he has a grand total of 8 and 2/3 major league innings under his belt. He’s taking the place of the injured Andrew Miller, who beat us at the Ted earlier this season. We need to win both games and you would think we’d be favored, but if our offense doesn’t start putting pressure on them EVERY INNING as opposed to 10% of the time, we won’t win 75 games.
We need another bat. We should’ve pulled the trigger on that Ryan Ludwick deal a long time ago. I supported it at the time and I still say not acquiring Ludwick was the biggest blunder of the off-season. Here’s how I would’ve approached the off-season if I were in Wren’s shoes.
Start with 45 million dollars. Non-tender (or trade for a box of baseball cards) Francoeur and Diaz for another 4 million. Trade Diory Hernandez and 2 other minor-leaguers for Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham before the Nationals can pull the same trade. Trade Kelly Johnson and Rafael Soriano for Ryan Ludwick and a minor leaguer. Sign Derek Lowe for 4 years 48 million (no way any other team is going to match that). Sign Orlando Hudson for 2 years 16 million to replace Kelly Johnson. Match the Red Sox offer for Smoltz (1 year, 10 million). Sign Kerry Wood for 2 years 22 million. Sign Will Ohman at 2 years 5 million. Sign David Ross, Infante, and Norton as Wren did.
Ohman, Wood, Gonzalez, Carlyle, Bennett, Moylan, and someone.
Smoltz, Lowe, Jurrjens, Olsen, Hanson/Reyes/Morton/Campillo
Schafer, Willingham, Chipper, Ludwick, McCann, Hudson, Escobar, Kotchman
Norton, Infante, Prado, Ross, and Josh Anderson.
That team is a lot better than this one.
But hindsight is 20/20, and I do think Wren did a fairly good job of putting the team together.
We need to win some games. Starting… Now.
May 4, 2009 at 12:27 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, New York Mutts, Series Preview, Series Thoughts
2 rain delays. 2 losses. 2 games under .500. It was a bad weekend. Frustrating baseball all around.
In the first game, the Braves were up 7-2 behind Derek Lowe’s pretty ordinary 6.2 innings, 8 hits, 2 BB, 2 ER, 3 K’s and a trouncing of Mike Hampton after 7 innings, and the rain started to pour. 2 hours later, for god knows why, they decided to finish the game. At 11 PM with 7 innings played and the home team up by 5, just go ahead and call the game. I don’t think the visiting team will complain about not getting the last 6 outs to try to score at least 5 runs. Another decision that makes you go, “what?”.
The second game was also rain-delayed. This time, after a mere inning and a half, so it was fun seeing one of the more anticipated pitching matches of the young season shortened to 9 outs and turned into a bullpen game. I hate bullpen games. I didn’t really watch this one. We lost 5-1.
The third game was back and forth, but more back than forth. Reyes was good through 5 then completely lost the ability to work the count and get people out in the 6th inning. He allowed 5 of the 6 batters he faced in that inning to reach safely (though one was a bunt single). Jeff Bennett relieved and somehow only gave up 1 run with the bases loaded and 2 outs to get. We later tied the game, lost the lead, got closer, got farther, and gave up. Pretty standard crappy Braves.
I didn’t enjoy the series. The pitching wasn’t particularly good (Lowe’s outing was hardly a gem, Reyes blew up, and Jurrjens only got 6 outs before mother nature peed on him(he had actually given up 4 hits (1 HR) in those 2 innings, so maybe mother nature did him a favor)). Our offense wasn’t anything special. Our defense was pretty crappy. We’re now 29th in defensive efficiency. That’s pathetic. I’m spitting out short, declarative thoughts. We’re still 30th in baserunning, also pathetic. Our pitching staff is 3rd in the league in runs allowed. Imagine if they had a competent defense behind them.
The good news is we’re playing the Mutts next, and they suck too. The better news is we don’t have to face Santana, so we face decent chances of scoring 3.5+ runs/game this series. We’ll send to the hill Javier Vazquez tomorrow and Kenshin Kawakami on super-duper 8 days rest Tuesday. I think the reason Javier Vazquez has never been a “great” pitcher is because he throws too many strikes. He’s got the stuff, command, and constantly ranks near the top of the league in strikeouts. But he throws something like 158% strikes, so hitters probably feel pretty good about going up there, taking 3 hacks, putting the ball in play, and seeing what happens. He isn’t a groundball guy, so you like your chances against him if the ball is put in play. Regardless, I love watching him (more than any other member of our rotation and a lot more than any other member besides Jurrjens).
Vazquez and Kawakami will be opposed by John Maine and Livan Hernandez. Maine was supposed to start today, but the game was rained out. Probably not a tactically terrible decision by the Mutts. I’d rather pit Santana against the Phillies and whoever starts (Chan Ho Park is scheduled, lets see if they make a change) than the Braves and Kawakami. Livan sucks, but there’s no evidence that Kawakami doesn’t suck and the Mutts probably think Livan has a good chance to beat Kawakami. It would be ideal (for them) if they pitted Santana against Vazquez, but they can’t do that thanks to schedules.
The Mutts weren’t good at the Ted in 2008 (1-8). I hope that continues in 2009. They haven’t been very good this year in general. They’ve got no leadership, no chemistry, and no pitching staff behind their starting ace and relief ace (provided Putz continues to suck). They have worse problems than the Braves do. All the Braves’ problems could be solved by a) not making stupid mistakes, b) giving 100% effort when you’re on the field (mental and physical effort go hand in hand), and c) acquiring a power-hitting left fielder. The Mutts basically need to do that and acquire about 8-11 new pitchers. We’ll see who is better prepared to play ball this series and next week in NYC.
Not much going on right now. We need to stop sucking.