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Open thread, 6.22, #Braves vs. two years ago

The Bravos today at noon go after their first seven-game winning streak since June 2014. They won 9 straight then, as A. Harang (above) got the win in the last triumph of the skein. Also notable: the club is 15-18 under Snitker, after going 9-28 under Fredi.

Is it because of Snitker? Certainly it’s not all his doing, but he clearly hasn’t hurt. Hot streaks from Freddie and Peterson have surely helped, along with better relief pitching and defense. Over the past five games, the Braves have made one error and the pen has allowed no earned runs. Withrow has been good since returning from the DL in late May. Outside of one disastrous appearance–six runs allowed vs. the little bears on June 12–he’s stacked up a dozen scoreless outings.

As for today, it’ll be intriguing to see if John Gant pitches well again. It would be a pleasant surprise indeed if he emerges as a decent starter. The lineup:

Peterson, Inciarte, Freddie, Francoeur, Markakis, Flowers, d’Arnaud, Aybar, Gant.

 

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Open thread, June 17-19, #Braves vs. crappy commercials

Last year it was the AT&T flash mob jack ass. I had almost forgotten how bad that was, but I just watched it on You Tube. Flash mobs are lame in general, sort of like impromptu line dancing but done by people who think they’re freewheeling innovators.

Every season, there’s at least one maddening commercial that airs several times during every Braves telecast.This season it’s the “Built This Thingy” abortion from Comcast. Maybe Fox Sports should reject all ads from telecommunications companies. Ha.

This year’s shittiest-commercial-ever is a musical featuring a bunch of faux office workers dancing with little satellite dishes to a modified version of an insufferably cheesy pop song from a band that had a proud history before becoming a Journey forerunner. Good Lord. Sorry for that long, clunky sentence. But I trust that sentence isn’t nearly as offensive as the “Thingy” TV commercial. Come to think of it, I hate the “word” thingy.

Oh, this weekend’s series. The Braves are facing three really good pitchers for the defending NL champs on the road. Maybe we can escape from New York with one win. As I type, Freddie just knocked in Inciarte to give our homies a 2-1 lead. With Ron, er, John Gant hurling it’s in the bag!

Tonight’s lineup: Mallex, Inciarte, Freddie, Markakis, Peterson, d’Arnaud, Pierzynski, Aybar, Gant.

 

 

 

 

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Open thread, 6/16, #Braves vs. trees falling

If a tree falls in the forest but nobody ….you know the rest. So if a major league baseball game is played and, say, 800 people see it, then did it really happen?

We’ll probably find out today. A businessperson’s special ends this scintillating four-game set between the woeful Braves and the merely bad Reds. At least the temperature is only forecast to reach the low 90s this afternoon.

As for what happens on the diamond, it would be comforting to see Wisler right himself. After raising hopes very high, he has been battered in his past two outings. That’s not completely unexpected from a young guy, but still, it’ll be encouraging to see him return to form.

He’ll have this lineup behind him: Mallex, Inciarte, Freddie, Markakis, Garcia, Peterson, Pierzynski, d’Arnaud SS, Wisler.

 

 

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Open thread, 6/15, #Braves vs. results

They may be talented, but so far Atlanta’s top prospects haven’t performed up to expectations. Which is not to say they won’t. But so far, so meh.

Gwinnett

Rio Ruiz, .258 BA, .363 slugging, 60 Ks, 56 games

Ozzie Albies, .238 BA, .282 OBP, 42 games

Tyrell Jenkins, 2.91 ERA, 1.446 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

Lucas Sims, 6.80 ERA, 1.791 WHIP

Mississippi

Dustin Peterson, .276-7-39, .774 OPS

Dansby Swanson, .245-4-20, .726 OPS, 39 games

Sean Newcomb, 4.11 ERA, 1.462 WHIP, 69 Ks, 37 BB, 65-2/3 IP

Chris Ellis, 2.75 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, 7 K, 4BB/9

Carolina

Braxton Davidson, .225 BA, .660 OPS

Max Povse, 3.82 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 9.2 K/9

Rome

Austin Riley, .260-3-24, 80 Ks in 223 AB

Lucas Herbert, .228-2-19

Max Fried, 4.25 ERA, 1.416 WHIP, 8.6 K, 5.2 BB/9

Mike Soroka, 2.92 ERA, 1.155 WHIP, 8.2 K, 1.9 BB/9

Touki Toussaint, 4.89 ERA, 1.298 WHIP (dominant last two starts)

The present is still grimmer. The Braves, at 18-46, are five games behind the pace of the woeful ’88 Braves. As many as 2,000 people are gathering to see this line-up face off against the immortal Anthony DeSciafani:

Mallex, Inciarte, Freddie, Garcia, Markakis, Peterson, Flowers, Aybar, Norris

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Open thread, June 14, #Braves vs.the rain

The Braves must have sold 13,190 season tickets for the last stand at the Ted. Last night’s official “attendance,” which is actually the number of tickets sold, was 13,198. It appeared there might have been half that number, if that, in the yard. So I’m estimating the walk-up crowd at eight.

With foreboding skies, and two of baseball’s worst teams scrapping, the turnout might be even smaller tonight. Slim Pickins, as Ernie Sr. used to say.

Actually, it might be a blessing if Mother Nature spares us tonight. Julio is pitching, so the Braves will have at least that going for them. But with the torpid offense and Vizcaino faltering lately — 4 earned runs in his past 6-1/3 innings — it’s exceedingly tough for Julio or the team to win.

Speaking of Teheran, is there another Brave who is remotely qualified to be at the All-Star game? He has a 2.85 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, 2.17 and 0.90 in his past seven starts. It’s not his fault he’s 2-6.

If you want the lineup, you’ll have to go find it. I don’t see it on the team site and frankly I don’t want to spend any more time on this.

 

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Open thread, 6/13, #Braves vs. the 2017 draft

Let’s not do anything stupid and sweep the Reds. Winning  10 of their last 16 at the end of 2015 cost the Braves a chance to draft Nick Senzel, the power-hitting third baseman who would’ve been a much better fit than Ian Anderson.

A sweep won’t be easy because, while their pitching is abysmal, the Reds can hit. Four of their starters have reached double figures in homers. The Braves have none.

With 100 games left, the local nine would have to go 45-55 to avoid 100 losses. Ain’t going to happen. I’m not sure 35-65 is realistic.

It’ll help if tonight’s starter, Aaron Blair, establishes some command of the strike zone. Blair is not the only prospect who’s struggling — Dansby’s BA has dropped to .243 at Mississippi. It would be foolish to bring him up to the bigs this year.

But not all the news is bad. Mallex is hitting lead-off. Finally.

Smith, Inciarte, Freeman, Markakis, Garcia, Pierzynski, Peterson, Aybar, Blair

 

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves

Open thread, 6/12, #Braves vs. 2010

After Jay Hey’s first inning homer yesterday I couldn’t help but think back to Opening Day 2010. Back then, the Braves were pennant contenders, the Cubs were not. Most of the Turner Field crowd was rooting for the home team, not the Little Bears. The only current Brave with the team then: Eric O’Flaherty, whose ERA is triple what is was in 2010.

If you’re ranking the most electric moments in Turner Field history, it would certainly make the Top 3:

Those who were at The Ted today will tell their grandchildren they saw Jay Hey’s first home run. I wasn’t at Game 6 of the ’95 World Series, but I haven’t heard a crowd this turned on since ’92. There were Cubs fans in attendance, but you wouldn’t know it. They were silenced after Jay Hey’s 442-foot dinger. Meanwhile, Braves fans never let up.

Jay Hey was electric, but don’t overlook Yesco’s five ribbies, Nate’s two (okay, 1 and 1/2) fantastic grabs and Wagner’s splendid ninth (hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun twice).

This could be the year.

That sure was fun. Today’s game probably won’t be. Mallex is on the bench, which is stupid. Perhaps John Gant will give us a lift in his debut as a starter.

Inciarte, dArnaud 4, Freeman, Frenchy, Markakis, Garcia 5, Flowers, Aybar, Gant

 

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Open thread, 6/10, #Braves vs. bizzarro world

Baseball’s worst team faces off against its best. The Braves have 42 losses. The Cubs have 41 wins.The road team will probably have a bigger cheering section tonight than the hosts. Everything that’s supposed to be up is down, and so forth.

But never fear. Jace Peterson is back despite a .186 BA at Gwinnett. Erick Aybar, also batting below the Mendoza Line at Triple-A, won’t be far behind.

Meanwhile, the Braves just drafted another high school pitcher. Those in the know praised the team’s draft haul, but I’m hesitant to put too much faith in the same front office that signed Nick Markakis and traded for Hector Olivera.

The latter otinues to haunt the Braves. Consider: For Jose Peraza and Alex Wood, the Braves got Olivera and an injured reliever.  For Peraza and two marginal prospects, the Dodgers got Trayce Thompson, batting .271 with 10 HR and a .910 OPS, and Frankie Montas, a promising reliever who hit 100 MPH in last year’s Futures Game.

Thompson sure would look in a Braves uniform. Instead we’re stuck with this line-up:

Inciarte, D’Arnaud, Freddie, Markakis, Garcia, Flowers, Peterson, Norris, Mallex

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Who could #Braves trade for a bat?

We’ve heard it from Coppy and his acolytes on Braves Twitter who tell us not to worry about the dearth of bats, they can trade for that from their surplus of pitching.

If you think Tyrell Jenkins or Lucas Sims or Chris Ellis, to name a few, is going to fetch a big bat dream on. The Braves have quantity, but it remains to be seen how much quality they’ve accumulated. And dealing Juley would leave you with a rotation full of question marks.

There will be some affordable bats available on the free agent market — Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler, Wilson Ramos — but will the Braves spend? I don’t see any other way for them to get the offense they need.

As for the draft, all signs seem to point to the Braves drafting a high school pitcher with the third pick.

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Open thread June 8, #Braves vs. history

The home nine hasn’t finished 30 games under .500 in 26 years, since doing it three consecutive seasons from 1988 through ’90. We know what happened next.

Let’s hope this history–the immediate post-1990 history that is–repeats itself, because it will take more than a miracle for the 2016 Bravos to finish fewer than 30 games under break-even. In fact, lose today, and then get swept by the Cubs this weekend, and there we are, 16-46. Chances of losing the next four are reasonably good. If it happens it’d be the second losing streak this season of at least 9 games. Already we’re in the midst of the fourth of at least five games. But citing those kinds of numbers is becoming as tired as another Pierzynski slow roller to second.

Maybe the Braves can trade KJ to the Mets every year. Coppy dealt the unproductive, pudgy-looking Johnson back to the Metros for a righty reliever who was rated New York’s 16th best prospect. Seems a decent return for a guy hitting .215 and playing bad defense at second base.

Julio starts today, so the Braves have a chance. The lineup is not on the Braves official site, but what difference does it really make? One piece of good news: BJ has cooled off, hitting below .200 in his past 15 games to drop his average to .239, and his OBP below .300. That’s more like it.

Batting order: Inciarte, d’Arnaud 2B, Freddie, Francoeur, Markakis, Flowers, Garcia, Castro SS, Julio.

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Open thread, 6/7, #Braves vs. risk

Selecting a high school pitcher with a top 10 pick generally doesn’t work out, but when it does, look out. Since 2006, 13 high school pitchers were taken among the first 10 picks, including Braves farmhand Max Fried, taken four years ago and still pitching in Single-A ball. Brady Aiken, drafted in 2014, hasn’t even pitched an inning of professional ball. Jameson  Taillon, taken second overall, makes his MLB debut tomorrow.

You’d have to go back to 2007 to find a high school pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, taken that high who’s found sustained success in the majors. A year before, the Dodgers drafted Clayton Kershaw 7th overall. But for every Kershaw and Bumgarner, there’s five Tyler Koleks, Matt Hobgoods or Jacob Turners.

Despite that risk, and despite the organization’s lack of offense, I suspect the Braves will follow tradition and draft another high school pitcher, probably Jason Groome. Time will tell if that’s the right call, and we’re probably talking four or five years. Assuming he succeeds. Not worth the risk, if you ask me.

Speaking of young pitching, Aaron Blair badly needs a good outing. Numbers don’t lie, and Blair’s are bad all around: 7.55 ERA, 1.806 WHIP, 5.2 BB/9 IP, 4.6 K/9, 38 H in 31 IP.

The line-up:

Inciarte 8, d’Arnaud 5, Freeman 3, Markakis 9, Johnson 4, Pierzynski 2, Castro 6, Blair 1, Smith 7

 

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#Braves brickbats

The Braves lost their 40th game today. The ’98 Braves, which won 106, didn’t lose their 40th until August 11. Snitker’s scrubs have, after 56 games, four less wins than the lowly ’88 squad and one less than the 1935 Boston Braves, who finished a franchise-worst 38-115. The 2016 Braves have the same record as the ’62 Mets: 16-40.

We knew the first half would suck but expected  an infusion of prospects would at least make the second half interesting. But that looks unlikely now. Lucas Sims has pitched atrociously at Gwinnett, where his ERA ballooned to 7.40 after giving up 8 runs, all earned, in 2-1/3 IP. He’s walked 31 in 41 Triple-A innings. Meanwhile, Ozzie Albies is hitting .230 with 12 errors in 34 games at Gwinnett and Rio Ruiz is batting a soft .250, with just 3 HR and 54 strikeouts in 49 games. There is some bullpen help on the horizon, with Shae Simmons rehabbing and Tyrell Jenkins, moved from the rotation, primed for promotions. One rung down, Sean Newcomb has pitched better of late but still has 33 walks in 57 IP. Chris Ellis has pitched well but is not a difference-maker. Thank God for Dansby, but I don’t see the need to rush him.

So the results of the rebuild are decidedly mixed, making the next two drafts among the biggest in franchise history. In the late 1980s Bobby Cox’s drafts yielded Steve Avery, Mike Stanton, Ken Mercker, Mark Wohlers, Ryan Klesko and Chipper Jones. Last year’s top pick, Kolby Allard, has yet to pitch this year, though second pick Mike Soroka has pitched impressively at Rome, with a 2.66 ERA, 56 Ks and just 13 walks in 61 IP. This year, the choice appears to be between a high school pitcher (Jason Groome or Riley Pint) and a college bat (Corey Ray, Kyle Lewis or Nick Senzel).

Of the pitchers, I’d opt for Pint. There are some concerns about Groome’s command, and the Braves already have enough talented arms who struggle to throw strikes.

The 6’4” Pint is a featured player in Jeff Passan’s compelling new book, The Arm. He emerged as a top amateur prospect in the summer 2013, before his 16th birthday, and hit 100 miles per hour with his fastball two years later as a junior in high school. According to Passan, Pint’s father prevented his son from participating in the sort of year-round youth competition that has increasingly been associated with Tommy John surgery early in a pitchers’ professional career.

That could help soothe the concerns of teams who might read Law’s description of Pint as “one of the hardest-throwing prep arms of all time” as a red flag rather than a selling point. Passan also portrays Pint as an excellent student who considers soda a problematic beverage, giving him high marks for character that, in combination with his big frame and impressive stuff (he also throws a changeup and slider), make him a likely top-five pick in June.

Still, I’d prefer the Braves draft a bat. Ray has the highest ceiling, Lewis, the most power (though he’s faced inferior competition playing for Mercer). Senzel, a right-handed hitting third baseman, fills a big need, is the most polished bat and, according to scouts, the surest bet. But few expect the Braves to draft him, even if he’s still available. Bet on Groome.

I’m sure all three would welcome some face time with Chipper. Great players may not make good managers, but, as Edgar Martinez and Barry Bonds have demonstrated, they make pretty good batting instructors. No reason to think Chipper, a student of hitting, would be any different. Clearly the Braves need a different voice — name one hitter who’s improved under Kevin Seitzer’s watch.

I’m not sure anyone can reach Hector Olivera, but it now appears management is going to hang onto their worst mistake. It’ll be fun cheering for a guy who beat the shit out of a woman, won’t it?

Next year’s free agent class is not as feeble as it once appeared. Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, Martin Prado and Wilson Ramos are among the names who would look good in a Braves uniform.

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Open thread, June 5, #Braves vs. brooms

The Braves today try to avoid being swept for the seventh time this season. By contrast, the Dodgers have been swept once, and they’re only three games over .500.

On the bright side, Wisler is pitching and Mallex is hitting leadoff, against a lefty no less. Those are reasons to pay attention. Totally sucks about Folty. It’s not supposed to be serious, but just when he appeared to be finding himself, down he goes. It might not threaten his health long term, but it can’t help but set back his development, if only for a few weeks.Still blows.

Today’s lineup: Mallex, d’Arnaud, Freddie, Francoeur, Markakis, Garcia, AJ, KJ, Wisler.

 

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Open thread, 6/4, #Braves as Buster Douglas

With Bud Norris pitching and this line-up

Inciarte 8, d’Arnaud 4, Freeman 3, Francoeur 7, Markakis 9, Flowers 2, Garcia 5, Castro 6, Norris 1

facing Clayton Kershaw the odds of winning tonight are even bigger than those overcome by Douglas years ago.

Or to put it another way, Kershaw is more likely to pitch a perfect game than the Braves are to win.

 

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Open thread, 6/3, remembrance of LA games past

If you’re old enough to remember the ’91 Braves you know what a series in Chavez Ravine once meant. Three times over a 10-year period — 1982, ’83 and ’91 — the Braves and Dodgers were involved in pennant races that weren’t decided until the final week. In ’82 and ’91, the race went down to the final weekend.

There’s been two playoff series since between the two teams– ’96 and 2013 — but neither matched the intensity of those NL West clashes.

Three stand out in my mind:

ROYSTER’S ERROR

On Thursday, Aug. 5, 1982, the Braves limped into LA losers of 6 of their last seven. Four of those losses had come the previous weekend at home to the Dodgers. Still, the Braves held a 5-1/2 game lead over LA heading into the series and had their hottest pitcher, Pascual Perez, on the mound.

Pascual was dominant and left the game after 8 innings with a 2-1 lead. Closer Gene Garber, solid in ’82, replaced him in the 9th. With 2 outs, 2 strikes and a runner at second, pinch hitter Rick Monday dribbled a grounder to second base right to, and under, Jerry Royster’s glove. The Dodgers won 3-2 in 10 and went on to sweep the four-game series, winning Games 2 and 3 in extra innings. After leaving LA the Braves lost 9 out of their next 10 but recovered to win the division on the season’s last game. (Thank you, Joe Morgan).

R.J. REYNOLDS’ DRAG BUNT

The Braves still had hope as they took the field on Sept. 11, 1983 for the finale of a three-game set with the Dodgers. The night before they beat the Dodgers in extra innings, 6-3, to close L.A.’s lead to two games. In the series finale, Len Barker took the mound with a golden opportunity to silence critics of the trade that brought him to Atlanta. His mound opponent? Rick Honeycutt, the pitcher the Braves had hoped to acquire before settling for Barker.

It  didn’t start well. A double by light-hitting catcher Jack Fimple plated 2 to break a scoreless tie. The lead didn’t last long. In the third, Honeycutt allowed two runners on in front of the reigning MVP. Murph responded like studs do, slugging a three-run homer. One inning later, Jerry Royster scored on an errant throw by Fimple and Brad Komminsk, of all people, stroked a two-run single to left off Rich Rodas. 6-2 Braves.

The Braves clung to a 6-3 lead going into the 9th. Pinch hitter Jose Morales doubled off Donnie Moore, who then walked Steve Sax. Manager Joe Torre turned to Gene Garber, who came into the game with 6 blown saves and an ERA above 4. He produced accordingly, allowing a single by Dusty Baker to load the bases. All three runners would score on a walk to Pedro Guerrero and a double by Mike Marshall. Garber remained in the game, now tied at 6.

Up stepped light-hitting rookie R.J. Reynolds, a Sacramento product like our blog’s namesake. Reynolds, hitless in three previous at bats, dropped a textbook bunt down the first base line, scoring Guerrero to win the game. The Braves would drop seven out of their next nine games, erasing any hopes of repeating as NL West champions.

AVERY’S MASTERPIECE

On Sept. 20, 1991, Steve Avery effectively clinched the division for the Braves. Five days earlier at Fulco he held the Dodgers to one run in 9 innings. But he saved his best for that Friday night in Chavez Ravine, with the Dodgers holding a 1/2 game division lead.

Avery and Tim Belcher matched zeroes through 6, when Gant — stuck on 29 HR for weeks — scored Justice on a two-run bomb to left. It was all the 21-year-old southpaw would need. I remember Sutton marveling at the youngster’s composure as he mowed through the heart of the Dodgers order, retiring the last 8 batters he faced to preserve a six-hit shutout. It appeared at that point he was the best of the Braves’ young arms. Tommy G. deserved the Cy Young Award that year, but Avery was the guy you wanted on the mound in a big game.

The Dodgers would win the last two games of  those series but would end up losing the division by one game. Avery’s starts made the difference.

It’s safe to assume few will remember this weekend’s series 25 years  from now, although if Clayton Kershaw is ever to pitch a perfect game, Saturday night seems opportune. He’s never pitched better and rarely, if ever, faced a more feeble line-up.

Tonight’s line-up hasn’t been posted but we know it’ll suck. Hopefully Juley can overcome his woes against the Dodgers, against whom he’s 0-5 with a 6.75 ERA in 6 career starts. He’s 0-3 with 9.60 ERA in three starts at Chavez Ravine, including a forgettable outing in the 2013 NLDS.

(Boston, MA  06/30/2013) Boston Red Sox Brandon Snyder runs up the first base line after he doubles in two runs in the second inning at Fenway Park on Sunday, June 30, 2013. Staff Photo by Matt West.

Open thread, June 2, #Braves vs. rushing the rebuild

Gordon Beckham has been placed on the DL, leading some to clamor for the promotion of Ozzie Albies. That would be ill-considered and premature. Albies (.239 BA, .276 OBP) has struggled at Gwinnett, as you’d expect from a 19-year-old. He’s not ready. Neither is Dansby. Journeyman Brandon Snyder, who last played in the majors three years ago for the Red Sox, has been called up to replace Beckham.

A win today would be most unexpected with Madison Bumgarner on the mound. Hopefully,  Aaron Blair can build on his last start and keep the Braves in the game. That’s about the best we can hope for today.

The line-up:

Inciarte, dArnaud 4, Freeman, Frenchy 9, Garcia 5, Flowers, Castro 6, Blair, Smith 

 

MiLB: SEP 24 FIL Astros at FIL Braves

Open thread, June 1, #Braves vs. the draft

I suspect the Braves are going to draft a high school pitcher with their first pick in the upcoming draft. Maybe it’ll be the right decision but high school pitchers are always a huge risk.

Of course they could use a bat, but the Braves have a history of whiffing on offense of late. In fact, they’ve struggled to develop position players of note since the glory days (Chipper, Javy, Klesko, Dye, et al). And that, combined with Liberty’s financial constraints, is why you have Adonis Garcia (2 doubles, 1 HR this year) batting clean-up.

A look back at Frank Wren’s drafts, from 2008 through 2014, tells the story. The best bat drafted during that period was Brandon Drury, selected in the 13th round in 2010, the same year they drafted Andrelton. A year later, they drafted Nick Ahmed in the second round and Tommy LaStella in the 8th.

And that’s it (save for scrubs like Kyle Kubitza and Joey Terdoslavich). When Wren went for offense with the first pick he struck out. Big time. Matt Lipka, drafted in 2011, has a .635 OPS in seven years in the organization. The 24-year-old outfielder is batting .233 at Mississippi.

Braxton Davidson, drafted first three years later, was supposed to supply a powerful left-handed bat. He’s hit 12 HR in 219 games and is in the midst of his worst season yet with Carolina, batting .217 with 2 homers.

The new administration targeted pitching almost exclusively in 2015. Third baseman Austin Riley, taken 41st overall, had a promising debut but has struggled mightily at Rome, striking out 66 times in 47 games with only 3 HR and a .663 OPS. Catcher Lucas Herbert, taken 13 picks later, has a .528 OPS for Rome.

If that’s not depressing enough, here’s tonight’s line-up:

Inciarte, Beckham 6, Freeman, Garcia, Markakis, Johnson 4, Pierzynski, Perez, Smith

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Open thread, May 31, #Braves vs. Improvement??

Well, the team is 6-6 over its past dozen games. Maybe Snitker is doing something right. Or maybe they’re finding a little offense here and there and getting (mostly) decent starting pitching.

Perhaps it’s a bit of both. In any case, it’d be nice to see borderline competence the rest of the way. The Braves could actually split, or heaven forbid even win this four gamer with the Giants, a first place club. Jake Peavy, tonight’s opposing moundsman, has been almost Shelby Millerian this season. His ERA is over 7. But two of his past three outings have been solid, so there is every possibility that he flummoxes the home nine on Hank Aaron Drive this evening. (It’s Drive, Chip and Joe, not Avenue as they both said during a recent telecast. Which is lame.)

On the other hand, young Mr. Wisler has been sterling, and he leads our worthies onto the diamond tonight. Interestingly, the only hitters who’ve done any damage at all against Wisler are No. 3 hitters. They’re hitting .464 against him with a 1+OPS. No other batting order position is hitting higher than .222, and that’s cleanup hitters. Not sure if that means much, or if it’s just a quirk. But we are at the end of May, not April.

Anyway, tonight’s lineup: ( I like seeing Inciarte and Mallex in there, with Inciarte in center because, for now anyway, he’s the better outfielder.) Inciarte, Beckham SS, Freddie, Flowers, Markakis, KJ 2B, Garcia, Wisler, Mallex. I wouldn’t mind seeing d’Arnuad get more ABs. I kinda like him. My guess is the Braves are hoping Adonis has a couple hot weeks and becomes somewhat attractive to other teams.