Open thread, 5/29, Braves vs. Luis Leals

It’s strange to be disappointed when all your regulars are in the line-up, but here we are — no Schafer, no Gattis and no Chris Johnson.

1. Simmons SS 2. Heyward RF 3. J. Upton LF 4. Freeman 1B 5. McCann C 6. Uggla 2B 7. Francisco 3B 8. B. Upton CF 9. Medlen P

I was traded for Craig McMurtry

I’d prefer CJ get the bulk of playing time at third base, and I suspect he will if Fan-cisco doesn’t turn things around. Juan has been awful in May, batting .171 with 18 Ks in in 41 ABs. In his last 48 AB’s, he’s struck out 24 times. Johnson, on the other hand, has been one of the few consistent Braves hitters, batting .369 in April and .304 in May.

We all know about the Gattis dilemma, but I’d argue Schafer has an even bigger impact when he starts. Consider that when Evan’s in the line-up, another productive hitter, usually B-Mac, is on the bench. But typically when Schafer starts it means B.J. isn’t. So far, that’s been a win-win, as Jordan has gotten on base 42 percent of the time compared to B.J.’s godawful .236 OBP.

At a certain point the Braves face a tough decision, and that time is rapidly approaching. Maybe we’ll see a straight platoon, with Jordan playing against right-handed pitching and B.J. vs. lefties.  Bossman Junior  may leave Fredi with little choice.

He’s not the only one. Jay Hey has been nearly as awful. Though he came back from the DL swinging well he’s faltered of late, hitting just .211, with no power, in May. His .260 slugging percentage is half what most assumed it would be.

The Braves have little excuse not to score big tonight, with Esmil Rogers (6.24 ERA in 22 career starts) toeing the slab for Toronto.

His opponent, Med Dog, seems to be righting the ship, though he’s still leaving way too many pitches up in the zone.

Meanwhile, the ‘pen gets a much-needed reinforcement with the activation of Jordan Walden. Cory Rasmus was optioned to Gwinnett to make room. And Brandon Beachy looked sharp today, allowing three hits and striking out three in five scoreless frames for Rome.

I’d prefer to see Brandon work out of the ‘pen when he returns, but Fredi told DOB the plan is for him to start in a June 18 double-header against the Mets.

Open thread, 5/27, Braves vs. Paul Spoljarics

Unfortunately, Fredi will have to do some managing with the ‘pen in shambles. If last night was any indication, this could get ugly fast.

Pulling Julio in the 7th would’ve been okay if you still had O’Flaherty, but instead he burned Avilan, who threw one pitch, leaving Gearrin to pitch in the 8th to left-handed hitters  Lucas Duda and Ike Davis. Teheran had thrown only 93 pitches and was working on an extra day’s rest. He could’ve finished the 7th and likely pitched into the 8th.

Fredi, when asked why he didn’t take Gearrin out, snapped, “Who would you like me to put in?”

Look in the mirror, Fredi. You’re the one who reduced your options with a quick hook.

Meanwhile, the Jays have been killing the ball lately, so it could get ugly this week.

You’ve been warned.

This is the Melky we remember

Toronto made some big moves this offseason, all of which have failed miserably.

Besides the trades for R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson, there was the signing of Melky Cabrera to a two-year, $16 million contract.

Cabrera is hitting .236 with a .280 OBP and .276 slugging percentage after Saturday’s loss to the Mariners, dropping the Jays to 10-21. He has ONE extra base hit.

Nine who got away: #6, Duane Ward

Duane Ward was exactly what the Braves needed in 1992 and ’93. Had he been in the ‘pen Atlanta would’ve likely won the World Series each year.

Then again, those Braves teams would’ve probably not reached the postseason if not for John Smoltz, acquired from Detroit for the same pitcher, Doyle Alexander, received in the 1986 trade that sent Ward to Toronto.

Still, it was hard not to grind your teeth watching Ward make short work of the Braves in the ’92 Series — a match-up essentially decided by bullpens. Toronto’s was outstanding. Atlanta’s was not.

Ward entered Game 2 in the 8th inning with the Blue Jays, down 1-0 in the series, trailing 4-3. Ward retired Brian Hunter on a grounder to third and struck out Jeff Blauser and Damon Berryhill swinging. A half inning later, Ed Sprague went deep off Jeff Reardon and the series shifted to Toronto, tied at one game apiece.

Game 3 was a near facsimile, with Ward entering a tie game in the 9th. After allowing a lead-off single to Sid Bream, Ward retired Blauser on a double play and once again struck out Berryhill swinging. Candy Maldonado singled in the winning run off Reardon in the bottom of the 9th, a loss that pretty much clinched Toronto’s championship.

Ward pitched in all 4 of Toronto’s wins, allowing no runs and one hit in 3-1/3, striking out 6. He was so good the Jays let Tom Henke walk after the season, and the New Mexico native rewarded  their confidence, allowing just 49 hits in 71-2/3 IP in ’93, striking out 97 and saving 45.

He likely would’ve finished higher on this list if not for a serious case of bicep tendinitis that ended his career at age 31.


The 20 worst A-Braves players: #14 Ernie Whitt

Guarantees always backfired when made by a member of the pre-’91 Braves. Chuck Tanner once promised a parade down Peachtree. When he was fired, maybe.

After he was acquired from the Blue Jays for assorted flotsam, Ernie Whitt told the local organ that Toronto GM Pat Gillick would regret the trade.

“They got caught up in my being 37 years old, ” claimed Whitt, who expects to catch 130 games (in 1990). “You don’t look at age; you look at production. I’m going to drive in 70 runs, hit my 15 home runs and hit .260. You can go to the bank on it.”

Good thing he was wrong about the 130 games. The 67 he appeared in were bad enough.

Whitt likewise fell short on his other predictions, finishing with a .172 BA, 2 HR and 10 RBI.

At least he was consistent.

(batting average)

  • HOME: .162
  • ROAD: .183
  • FIRST HALF: .169
  • SECOND HALF: .174
  • RISP: .134
  • BASES EMPTY: .183

Whitt saved his worst for two-out situations, finishing just above the Corky Miller line, at .103.

But he was a good backstop, right?

Not on Aug. 30.

(via the local organ)

Hardly a speed team, the Dodgers took a 4-2 lead on Kirk Gibson’s two-run homer and by working over catcher Ernie Whitt for a season-high five stolen bases, including two double steals, in the first four innings.

Whitt’s Braves career would be over two months later. After signing with the Orioles he guaranteed he’d hit at least .180.


The 10 worst games in A-Braves history: April 12, 2010

(Go here for the rest of our list)

This 17-2 thumping by the Padres was a sign of things to come, in April, at least. The Braves were 9-14 that month and looked even worse than their record.

This game marked Jo-Jo Reyes‘ final appearance as a Brave. It was a fitting send-off for Reyes, who walked three and allowed 10 hits in 3-1/3 IP, good for 9 ER. As a Brave, Jo-Jo was 5-15 with a 6.40 ERA and 1.670 WHIP.

He was sent to Toronto along with Yesco for Alex Gonzalez, so thanks to the Blue Jays for taking two albatrosses off our hands.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Braves          0  0  0   0  0  2   0  0  0    2  4  1
Padres          0  1  0  10  3  0   3  0  X   17 19  0