Open thread, 5/15, Braves vs. Oscar Villarreals

Win today and the Braves can salvage a .500 road trip, which is all you can ask of a team returning from their second 10-day road trip in little over a month.

Regardless, my confidence is waning. The Braves have been shut out six times already — nearly half as many times as they were blanked in all of 2012. I’m having a hard time believing the Keith Laws of the world who insist strikeouts don’t matter.

Not that the stat geeks will concede a thing.

Check out this exchange between DOB and some stat geeks angered by his tweet that three Braves rank among

  1. Amazing to see how some are compelled to tell others just how they should interpret certain stats. Like folks can’t process info themselves.

  2. @ajcbraves …you’re just editorializing. We look to you for news. There are already plenty of columnists out there to ignore.

@BravesLarry By simply stating that 3 #Braves rank in the top 7 in the NL, I’m editorializing? That is … I don’t even know. Astounding.

  1. @ajcbraves You provide no context or reasons why it’s not that significant as a standalone fact. Trying to elicit a certain reaction.

  2. @ajcbraves The fans are screaming their head off about K totals, while the most read beat man is leaving out the fact that historically…

  3. @ajcbraves …team strike out totals have a very weak correlation to team runs scored. You could do a lot to prevent this false narrative.

@ajcbraves It’s lying by omission, and now the average fan (who cannot process info) thinks that K totals are the be all end all.

I wonder if these guys realize, or even care, how obnoxious and patronizing they sound? Might as well debate gun control with Wayne LaPierre.

No doubt Dan Uggla has their back. He has two strikeouts for every hit this year and at his current pace is more likely to top 200 K’s than 100 hits. Process that info, bitches!

Fortunately, K-Uggla is not in the line-up that’ll face Ian Kennedy, who has just one win and a 4.83 ERA.

Schafer lf, Simmons ss, JUpton rf, Freeman 1b, McCann c, BUpton cf, Francisco 3b, Pena 2b, Hudson p

Huddy’s ERA isn’t much better (4.70) but he’s dominated at Chase Field. If he can avoid that one bad inning the  Braves should return home still in first place.

Head, heart divided on Prado deal

Do the intangibles matter? Do strikeouts not? Depends on your school of thought.

I think they can both be true. Having a player who serves as an example for others by the way he plays the game is a plus — but it doesn’t compare with talent. Justin Upton could win an MVP this year. Martin never will.

Yes, an out is an out but some outs are productive. Strikeouts never are — but they are better than double plays. A strikeout-heavy line-up is prone to collective slumps, and this one should be no different.

Upton’s 121 K’s aren’t bad fora power hitter; I’m more troubled by Chris Johnson’s 131 K’s in 136 games. He’s likely to be platoon with Bigger Frank, who struck out 70 times in 192 AB’s. McCann and Andrelton are the only line-up regulars who won’t top 100 K’s.

Defensively, the Braves have gotten worse. The outfield is a little better but third base could be a nightmare. Chris Francisco is likely to be to 3B what Uggla is to second.

I’m glad the Braves didn’t trade any of their best pitching prospects. If I wasn’t so attached to Martin I’d probably like this trade.

Instead, I’m conflicted

Justin Upton will be a Brave by Friday

There’s good reason to be optimistic.

Scribes Rosenthal, Heyman and Olney all report the Braves have offered a “strong package” of players for Upton. DOB says the offer likely involves Teheran plus two-to-three additional prospects. Among the names bandied about: Gattis, Ahmed, Gilmartin, Spruill …

Bet on it happening by Friday, an artificial deadline favored by the D’backs, according to reports.

If it does the Bravos will boast the game’s most gifted outfield, one that combined for 72 homers, 227 RBI and 70 steals in 2012 — and that’s with Justin Upton having an off year.

My concern is what impact this will have on extensions for Jay Hey and Medlen. I’d rather lock those two up than acquire Upton. Hopefully it’s not an either/or proposition.

Still, I’d rather be talking about the possibility of another Upton than trying to rationalize  the signing of Delmon Young.

Is Justin Upton to the Braves inevitable?

Baseball scribes seem increasingly convinced that the D’backs star will end up in Atlanta. I’ve been skeptical but am beginning to think that the Uptons will join the Aarons, Niekros, Torres, Mahlers and Drews as siblings and teammates on the Braves.

Justin Upton just turned down a deal that would’ve sent him to Seattle in exchange for a top pitching prospect, Taijuan Walker, SS Nick Franklin, who projects as a Blauser-esque middle infielder, and relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor.

That’s a lot to give up for Upton, especially for a team like Seattle which is more than one player away from contending.

The Braves are contenders with only one Upton. Two Uptons could put them over the top. Plus, I don’t think they’d have to surrender as much as the Mariners offered (which equates to something along the lines of Teheran, Nick Ahmed, Juan Jaime and Luis Avilan).

Arizona is in a bind, having signed Cody Ross to join an already crowded outfield. They’ve been shopping Upton since last year’s All-Star break, so bringing him back would be problematic. And word that Texas has dropped out of the bidding leaves the D’Backs with few suitors.

The Braves could swing it financially, as Upton will make $9.75 million in 2013 (then $14.25 mil in ’14 and ’15, the same total and years Boston gave to Shane Victorino). That would leave zero wiggle room payroll-wise, though including Eric O’Flaherty, a free agent in 2014, in a deal would free up roughly $4 million. No doubt O’Flaherty would appeal to Arizona GM Kevin Towers, whose bullpen lacks a solid southpaw.

I’d hate to lose EOF, but he’ll be gone in a year anyway. And the Braves would still have Venters, Avilan and newly acquired Jordan Walden, who’s held lefties to a .202 BA in his career.

I’d offer Delgado, O’Flaherty and Ahmed and work from there. Considering the difference Upton would make for the 2013 Braves, I’d be prepared to give up more.

The former overall top draft pick battled nagging injuries in 2012, likely accounting for his decline in power. But not all was lost, as Upton showed better plate coverage, striking out 121 times in 150 games — a big improvement from 2010, when he was rung up 152 times in 133 games.

His home/road splits are troubling, though Arizona is not Colorado. Not sure what explains the disparity but I have a hard time believing Upton will never produce outside of Chase Field.

Best to remember we’re talking about a player one year removed from a 4th place finish in NL MVP balloting. It would surprise no one if the 25-year-old veteran finishes first in the near future.

Why not 2013, in Atlanta? It’s not as unlikely as we once thought.