Thursday, August 11, 2005

Quick Braves Thoughts


Went to the game last night and have the following observations:

1. Last night was the third time I've seen Francoeur double sharply to right center. He isn't a dead-pull hitter in the same way that Andruw is.

2. The Braves were very unlucky to not blow the game open in the 5th. LaRoche and Francoeur led off with doubles and then the Braves didn't score the rest of the inning, despite Brian McCann hitting a screamer right at the second baseman with a runner on second and none out and Kelly Johnson hitting a screamer right at the rightfielder with the bases loaded and two outs. It easily could have been a four- or five-run inning.

3. Bobby left Smoltz in too long, as he has in the other two Smoltz starts I've attended this year, the loss to Pedro and the Mets in April and the 130-pitch complete game shutout against the Marlins in June. John was clearly tiring in the 8th inning. After allowing two baserunners in the first seven innings, he gave up three hits in the 8th and got out of the inning with a double play. A sign to start the 9th with Reitsma? Nope, Bobby waited until the tying run was on base, which Reitsma allowed to score. And speaking of Chris, he did nothing to alleviate my fears about him being the weak link on this team. He's taken to walking around the mound and playing with the resin bag after each pitch, which is exactly what Kolb did when he was struggling in April and May. He gives off the vibe that he's struggling mentally and wants to delay throwing the next pitch. His velocity was fine, so I don't think he's hit the wall like he did last year. Maybe he's a little shaken after his blow-up in St. Louis and needs a little time to get over that.

4. How depressing would it be to be a Giants fan and watch a team that's both bad and old? It must be like it was to root for the Hawks during the dreadful Rahim/Ratliff/Terry/Big Dog era.

5. Signs I'm growing old: I used to complain every time Dad would take my brother and I to games when we were growing up and then leave before extra innings. "How can you leave when things are just getting exciting?" So who left last night after Furcal flew out to the wall to end the 9th? This guy!

6. Andruw's two homers made me start to think that he should win the MVP over Albert Pujols, but then I checked their stats this morning and there's no way to make that case. Both players have been the key offensive piece for the two best teams in the National League, but Pujols has a 63 point lead in batting average, a 71-point lead in on base percentage, and a 20-point lead in slugging percentage. Andruw is a better defensive player and plays a position at which it's much harder to find a good hitter, but those factors aren't enough to make up the difference between the two in OBP and SLG. Andruw should finish a solid second and we should all be happy with that. Derrek Lee will get some publicity, but the Cubs' fade will hurt him. The darkhorse candidate is Miguel Cabrera, especially if the Marlins push into the Wild Card. Speaking of which, would we rather have the Astros win the Wild Card and face Clemens-Oswalt-Pettite or would we rather the Marlins get into the playoffs, given their perfect record as a Wild Card?

7. I can't believe that Adam LaRoche tried to steal a base last night. Shockingly enough, he was thrown out by a mile.

8. The first four hits of the game were all doubles. The first three hits of the game all hit the wall on the fly. Odds?

4 comments:

peacedog said...

1. I've noticed it as well. The BB/K stills cares me. Correction coming. But Francouer looks pretty awesome.

2. I think Kelly Johnson might be on the verge of another hot streak. Things like the contact help. But he has something like 5 BBs in the past 8-9 games, versus 0 in the previous 20-something. What a weird season he's had.

On a related note: Chuck James was moved up to AAA. Devine has had two consecutive good outings I think (ERA down to 2.65). Brandon Jones was murdering the ball at Rome and got promoted to High-A Myrtle Beach (something like a 23 extra base hits in 120 at bats, a .320 average with a .450ish OB%, and a 1.000 OPS). He was a 23rd round pick in 03 who lost time last year to injury, but could be a sleeper.

Elvis Andrus continues to tear it up in the GCL - and he's drawing walks of late.

3. You can't treat Smoltz like you could 5 years ago. Bobby has got to adjust to this. I know he listens to his guys and that is good, but consider the specifics: major arm surgery. More innings pitched this year than in the last 3 (or, we're getting there). Set some harder limits and stick to them. If he runs out of gas in October we're screwed.

Reitsma doesn't really make me feal warm and fuzzy - never has.

4. It's rough time for sports in general. About the only thing they did right was boot TO.

5. Weak.

6. Actually, I think Andruw has done more for the Braves than Pujols for the Cardinals. Pujols is actually surrounded by a bunch of guys having very good years - when they are healthy. They haven't been all of the time though. But the Cards have mostly just maintained when those guys went out. That's impressive, IMO (it obviously means he made a difference), but it's less impressive that the Braves surging *after* a bunch of injuries and poor starts. Surging on Andrew's shoulders.

That said, tehre is no statistical comparison. Pujols is the best hitter in baseball, probably.

I'm a Realist said...

It's a shame that the MVP award has turned into the Best Offensive Season Award.

Pujols is a tremendous hitter, but you expect production from your corner infield positions. Would the Cardinals still be at the top of their division with a LaRoche/Franco platoon at first? You laugh, but compare their numbers.

Runs each have accounted for (RBI + Runs - HR's):

L/F = 95+57-22=130
Pujols = 89+98-31=156

Just 26 more runs in 114 games. So every fourth day, the Cardinals would score one less run with the L/F platoon.

I think Andruw saves at least one run every fourth day just with his defense. Pujols is not particularly spectacular at first (like J.T. Snow), so defense is not an asset for him. When you compare the numbers, there needs to be a statistic for "runs saved." I think if you consider that stat along with the fact that he carried a rookie-laden offense for two months on a first place ballclub, there is no question who the Most Valuable Player is.

peacedog said...

I think computing "runs saved" is beyond us. Though there are some interesting defensive statistics out there, we can probably do some decent "guestimation". I think Andruw's defense has slipped a notch personally, but that's like saying "MJ has lost a couple of inches on his vertical leap" during 92-93.

I always thought you could tell a lot just by looking at # of flyballs team allows versus # of outs an outfielder makes. To make it really good, you then need to look at what "regions" those flyballs are hit into, but that's for STATS Inc and the baseball prospectus people.

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