September 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Kelly Johnson Fan Club, Player Analysis, Quotes
Matt Diaz, the Greatest Little Platoon Hitter Ever
Matt Diaz has hit .317/.391/.496 this season. Let me repeat that. Matt Diaz has hit .317/.391/.496 this season. In nearly 400 PA’s. Remarkably, this is the first season that Matt Diaz has been to the plate more than 100 times and had a platoon advantage of less than 45%. This year his platoon advantage has been 37%. Sounds like he’s making a fairly strong case for being an every-day player. Not so fast.
Matt Diaz, in his career, has hit .346/.382/.538 with 90 K’s and 28 BB’s in 663 PA’s against LHP. That’s a .919 OPS. His career BABIP against LHP is .372. That’s half of a platoon I’d take any day. Against RHP? Not so much. He’s hit .278/.335/.388 with 161 K’s and 38 BB’s in 709 PA’s. That’s a .723 OPS (.352 BABIP). You can see why the Braves have largely used Diaz in a platoon role for most of his career.
This year, the story is much the same. He’s hit .410/.456/.642 with 19 K’s and 9 BB’s in 148 PA’s (.445 BABIP) against LHP. That’s a 1.098 OPS. Against RHP he’s hit .258/.352/.404 with 64 K’s and 21 BB’s in 247 PA’s (.343 BABIP). That’s a .756 OPS. He still hasn’t shown that he can be an even average hitting corner outfielder against RHP. His line is inflated by the left-handed portion which is inflated by the BABIP. But his line against LHP? Makes him the most perfect small part of a platoon. I would suggest Matt Diaz needs to be in the team’s plans going forward, but not in a starting role. Until he shows he can consistently hit RHP.
Bobby Cox’s Future
Yesterday Gordon Edes of Yahoo Sports opened up a can of shit-worms when he wrote the following:
Another situation that bears watching is in Atlanta, where manager Bobby Cox has been hedging about whether he will be back. According to a major league source, the relationship between Cox and GM Frank Wren deteriorated during the spring to the point that Cox packed his bag and climbed into his car to drive home from spring training until dissuaded from doing so by one of his coaches.
Cox was unhappy at the way the John Smoltz issue had been handled, the source said, and because he had not been kept up to speed on other personnel decisions. The relationship appears to have been patched up, although the parting with Tom Glavine was another strained episode, and the expectation is that Cox will be back because he’s excited that the Braves have another core of young talent developing. Stay tuned.
The first thing I thought when I read this was, “Bullshit”. There’s no way Bobby Cox packed his car and was headed home and I didn’t hear about it until now. There’s simply no way. Apparently I wasn’t alone in this sentiment, as David O’Brien writes:
So a few of you apparently think that if I or Bowman had heard in spring training that Bobby packed his car and was ready to head home because of a squabble(s) with Wren, we wouldn’t have reported it? Believe me, if either of us had heard that story from a reliable source and felt certain — and our editors agreed — that it was true, I know that either of us — I probably shouldn’t speak for Bowman, but I will — would have reported it. That would have been a hell of a scoop in spring training, the kind you certainly never would pass up if you got it confirmed by one of the parties involved or if you and your editors felt strongly enough that your source was reliable (and, or course, you would ask the parties directly for a reaction and tell them what you’ve got on record from a reliable source).
I read a comment from someone critical (imagine that) of no one having this story until now, someone incredulous that we hadn’t heard about this. As though we all are staying in close quarters during spring training and we could have looked out our window and seen Bobby in the early morning hours, angrily packing his car in the parking lot and murmuring aloud about the GM, something like that.
If this story is true — Gordon is a very good writer and reporter; as some of you know since I’ve mentioned it before, I worked with him at the Sun-Sentinel and he’s actually the guy who asked me to come over to cover the Marlins with him, before he left for Boston — then it’s something that was told to one writer by one upset source who didn’t tell anyone else at the time. It happens. Some sources say something once and never say it again.
I think the “if” is huge there. Seriously, what are the chances that something like this happens and both the beat writers and all national analysts go uninformed until now?
Maybe it’s true, but I’d still expect Bobby Cox to be back next year.
Anyway, Mark Bradley calls BS on it too:
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Wren described the report as “inaccurate.” But it’s fair to say that the relationship between Cox and Wren hasn’t been as seamless — to use a John Schuerholz word — as the one between Cox and Wren’s predecessor as GM. Cox and Schuerholz talked almost daily, even in the offseason, and rarely disagreed on anything.
That said, Cox was complimentary of Wren’s rebuilding work over the winter. “He’s done everything, really,” Cox said then, and this, it should be noted, came after Smoltz signed with Boston. But it also must be noted that even Schuerholz was so distressed by the way the Braves cut ties with Glavine that he offered an apology on behalf of the organization.
Asked Tuesday if he wanted Cox to remain the Braves’ manager, Wren said: “Sure, absolutely.” And this: “We’ll sit down and talk, and we’ll have an announcement at the appropriate time.”
But Bradley doesn’t stop:
Said Cox, speaking via iPhone from New York: “Everything is fine. Frank has been outstanding … I couldn’t believe it when I [learned of the report].”
Another Point About Managers
Baseball teams pay players based on what they think they’re worth. They pay players because they’re going to get on-field value from them. Wouldn’t it make sense that managers are paid like that, too? Considering the highest paid managers get $5,000,000 a year (and I’m completely guessing here), wouldn’t it make sense that Managers only impact the game by at most around 1 win? If there’s a manager that can take a team from 86 to 90 wins, teams would pay $20 million a year for him. No such things exist. Think about that when you’re thinking about the impact of managers.
Gunning For The Sweep
Going for the second sweep of the Stem in 10 days, the Braves send Tim Hudson to the hill against staff ace Mike Pelfrey for the series finale. No matter what, sweeping the Mets never gets old.
Speaking of the Mets, I went onto my favorite Mets blog, Amazin’ Avenue, last night and posted the following comment:
Braves announcers pointed out that Sheffield was used in the bottom of the 9th with 2 out, yet sat on the bench with runners at 2nd and 3rd in the 7th. What’s your take on this decision? Perhaps Jerry had draft order in mind.
I post this because I don’t know. I don’t follow the Mets closely. I didn’t know if Sheff had been struggling or whatever. But anyway, I got a few hilarious responses.
No take other than that Jerry is just unfathomably horrible. I was at Friday’s game when, if I remember correctly, he let Wilson Valdez bat with the bases loaded and one out…and then had Sheffield lead off the next inning.
That’s our Jerry.
Pinch hitting Tatis in that situation, when he had Sullivan, Reed and Sheff available, was just retarded. But at this point, losses are kind of a good thing.
Pretty funny. Just goes to show there’s discontent with managers everywhere.
Kelly Johnson Fan Club
The scheduled starters for the next series (@Washington) are John Lannan, Garrett Mock, and Livan Hernandez. KJ has a 1.133 OPS against Lannan (6-for-15 with 2 doubles and a homer). He’s doubled in his only plate appearance vs. Garrett Mock. Friday and Saturday, Kelly Johnson should start. Somewhere.
That’s all I got.
Go Braves! Sweep the Mets.
SPECIAL FUCKING COX-WREN UPDATE!
Mark Bowman further shat on the notion:
But those of us that have been around the team throughout this season, can’t deny the fact that the working relationship shared by Cox and Wren was definitely strengthened in the days, weeks and months following this event.
No later than Monday, Cox will likely confirm that he’s returning to manage at least one more season. If he truly felt that he couldn’t continue to work with Wren, the 68-year-old skipper would have already provided more indication that he’s currently spending his final days on the bench.
Like Cox’s successor will have big shoes to fill, Wren didn’t exactly encounter an enviable situation when he assumed the role that John Schuerholz had mastered for so many years.
To simply refer to Schuerholz as a great baseball man would be an insult. His greatness was gained through the great leadership that he continues to provide the Braves organization as its president.
Still during the 17 years that Cox and Schuerholz shared a manager-GM relationship, they had their differences. But over time, they developed a working relationship that drew envy from the peers that shared their positions throughout the Majors.
Wren has done an excellent job ushering the Braves away from holding on to tightly to their successful past. While saying goodbye to the likes of John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, he’s ushered the club toward what he foresees as a bright future.
At the same time, Wren has also shown the willingness to make the adaptations necessary to build the strong working relationship that has given Cox even more reason to stick around a little longer to be part of this future.
That’s also big news, Bobby’s coming back! And you’re probably stupid if you think that’s a bad thing. Or just misinformed or delusional or spoiled or just generally have unrealistic expectations. So, at least don’t be sad that Bobby is coming back. Neutral is the most negative opinion you should have about this.
September 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Kelly Johnson Fan Club, Philadelphia Philthies, Pitching, Series Preview
7 games out, 23 games out, or whatever, it still feels good to sweep the Mets. It also feels good to watch Jeff Francoeur try to leap over the wall and catch Brian McCann’s home run to no avail. Yes, I did watch this one. After I turned off the GT Miami game in disgust. Anyway, I’m pretty sick of the Jeff Francoeur crap. The baseball media makes such a fucking huge deal about it when he comes to town. Get the fuck over it. He’s going to be coming to town 9 times next year because the Mets are stupid enough to tender him a contract.
Ryan Church vs. Jeff Francoeur
To those of you who think it was a bad trade:
Jeff Francoeur 2009 Mets WAR – -0.2
Ryan Church 2009 Braves WAR – 0.4
Ryan Church has been the better player–any way you slice it.
Continuing with both because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Again, starting in the East:
The Cubs are pretty much dead.
Phillies Come to Town
If the Braves have any shot at the division, they need to sweep the Phillies. Here’s how the pitching match-ups play out:
Tim Hudson vs. J. A. Happ
Hudson is completely unpredictable, but if he pitches like the Tim Hudson of 2007-2008, the Braves should be in pretty good shape. There’s also extra motivation to beat Happ in order to boost Hanson’s ROY hopes. I don’t know what to expect, I’m just going to close my eyes and hope for the best.
Javier Vazquez vs. Pedro Martinez
Though Pedro has pitched well for the Phillies, he’s thrown 119 and 130 pitches in his past two starts. Even though he gets 5 days rest before the game Saturday, you have to think the Braves have the advantage in this one. Vazquez is 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA vs. the Phillies in 4 starts this season.
Tommy Hanson vs. Cliff Lee
A crucial game for Hanson’s ROY campaign. Beating Cliff Lee is no small task. Lee threw a shutout in his last start, but had a 9.60 ERA in his previous three. Atlanta was in the middle of the first of those games, touching him up for 6 runs in 5 innings to start the streak. Hopefully we’ll see a deja-vu.
The good news is the Braves won’t face Cole Hamels who seems to have their number.
Kelly Johnson Fan Club
Prado and Infante have been swinging hot bats as of late, so I don’t suggest playing Kelly Johnson over one of them this series. To back my point up further, he’s struggled against Martinez (.455 OPS) and he’s 1-for-7 with a homer and no walks against Happ. Still, I think he should play Left Field this series, at least some. He’s a better bet defensively than Garret or Diaz and he’s been swinging the bat well lately, unlike Garret.
Stay Hot, Nate
Nate McLouth has been tearing it the fuck up since he came off the DL. He’s hit .413/.500/.652/1.152 with 3 HR, 2 2B, 8 BB, 6 K, and 9 RBI during that period. I’ll take a .500 OBP and a .239 ISO out of the leadoff spot any day of the week.
I did a Q&A for a buddy at the Phillies’ blog Macho Row. I’ll link to it when he gets it up.
That’s all I got.
September 13, 2009 at 6:54 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Kelly Johnson Fan Club, Pitching
Thought of the day.
8 back in the loss column, 19 left to play. Not looking good. Throw away the wild card hopes, those are done. But suppose the Phillies lose tonight on Sunday Night Baseball* and the Braves sweep the home series with Philly next weekend. You’re looking at 4 back in the loss column with 16 to play, all other things equal. So, you’re then 4 back in the loss column with 16 to play. Still not looking good, but do-able. The Braves, as I mentioned, have 19 games left. They’re all against NL East opponents. 3 against Philly at home, 6 against New York (3 home, 3 away), 3 against Florida at home, and 7 against Washington (4 home, 3 away). If there was ever a time to rattle off a miraculous streak, it’d be now. Think about it, though. They’re playing 6 games against teams they’re chasing and 13 against teams who are completely out of contention (and bad). Maybe I won’t give up hope, just yet.
*I know it’s nearly unbearable to watch Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips broadcast a game, and I know it’s painful to cheer for the Mets, but please do tonight. The Braves need it.
Kelly Johnson Fan Club
Kelly went 2-for-5 with a double today starting at 2B (with Prado at 3rd and Chipper out). The Braves are now 9-1 in games Kelly Johnson has started since coming off the DL and he has compiled a .912 OPS during that period. I’m officially lobbing for more playing time for Kelly. Kelly hasn’t ever faced Tuesday’s starter, Pat Misch. He’s 0-for-1 against Wednesday’s starter, Bobby Parnell. And he’s 0-for-2 with a walk against Thursday’s starter, Nelson Figueroa.
Javier Vazquez’s Gem, Tim Hudson’s Homer
Javier Vazquez pitched a gem today, going 9 innings allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and no walks while striking out 8. He was cruising through 8, having allowed no runs on 3 hits, but allowed 4 singles to start the 9th before getting a double play and groundout to end the game and secure the Braves’ first CG Win of the year. He was nothing short of masterful through those 8. Man, if the Braves hadn’t squandered so many of his brilliant outings, he’d be squarely in the conversation for the Cy Young. Vazquez now has a ridiculous 216-to-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. He’s bested in K’s only by Tim Lincecum and in K/BB only by Dan Haren–who has struck out 19 fewer and walked 9 fewer.
Meanwhile, Tim Hudson hit a homer. What? First career homer for Huddy, who was a batting champion and team HR leader while he played CF on the days he wasn’t a starting pitcher (he also led the team in K’s, ERA, and W’s) at Auburn. That was cool to see. Hudson’s the man. Twitter nugget from Mark Bowman:
Hudson’s first career HR. Based on what we saw last year, I didn’t think Auburn products displayed offense on Saturdays.
Pretty funny. He was speaking of Football, of course, and speaking of Football:
The NFL has arrived.
The Falcons opened their season with a W over the Dolphins. I won’t cover too much NFL in this space, depending on interest. I’ll do weekly picks, though, starting next week.
Stat of the Day
Braves player xFIP:
Javier Vazquez – 2.87
Rafael Soriano – 2.93
Peter Moylan – 3.37
Tim Hudson – 3.45
Mike Gonzalez – 3.49
Kris Medlen – 3.64
Boone Logan – 3.81
Eric O’Flaherty – 4.09
Derek Lowe – 4.21
Jo-Jo Reyes – 4.30
Tommy Hanson – 4.35
Jair Jurrjens – 4.45
Jeff Bennett – 4.61
James Parr – 4.66
Kenshin Kawakami – 4.73
Manny Acosta – 4.76
Buddy Carlyle – 5.37
Jorge Campillo – 5.82
Luis Valdez – 7.55
Blaine Boyer – 10.22
No analysis. Just a list.
And that’s all I got for now. I’ll try to get that bullpen post up sometime.
Go Braves! PHUCK THA FILLIES!