Schafer and fans need to show patience

After Saturday’s loss to the Pirates, Chipper Jones echoed the popular sentiment by saying that he was concerned about the fact that Jordan Schafer was striking out too often.  But as the same time, he said he was confident the 22-year-old center fielder would soon cut down on his swing and utilize his speed to end his mini-slump.

“He’s smart,” Jones said. “He works hard and he wants to get better. Guys like that make the adjustment eventually.” 

With his three-hit performance on Sunday, Schafer halted his forgettable five-game slump and followed Jones’ suggested blueprint.   After notching a second-inning single, he produced a fourth-inning bunt single. 

Then with Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche standing on the edge of the infield grass to protect against another bunt, Scafer lined another single off of a diving LaRoche’s glove.

Suddenly Schafer could smile again and forget about the fact that he’d recorded one hit and struck out 13 times in the 21 at-bats he’d recorded during his previous five games. 

“You don’t want to get to the point where you start doubting yourself,” Schafer said. “I know that I can hit.  I just need to start making adjustments a lot faster than I did. I know that I can compete here.” 

As we all started to wonder whether the Braves had made the right decision by bypassing the option to provide Schafer more Minor League seasoning, we were showing the same lack of patience that factored heavily in the development of this short skid.

Having hit two homers in his first three Major League games, Schafer has been going to the plate with the same overanxious excitement that has caused him to be too overaggressive in his pursuit of multiple fly balls over the past couple of weeks.

There have been a couple of near-collisions when he’s ventured into the left and right center field gaps.  Plus his insistence to race all the way to the wall in pursuit of balls that are going to riccochet back into the outfield grass  has been somewhat maddening.  But this really only proved costly on Friday night, when he allowed Brandon Moss to turn a double into a triple and score the only run charged to Jair Jurrjens in 6 2/3 innings.  

The man who has taught me more than anybody about player development has always said “trust your instincts” and “the player will let you know when he’s ready.”

While watching Schafer for six weeks during Spring Training, my instincts told me that he was ready for the Majors.  At the same time,  I was mindful of the fact that you have to guard against being overly impressed by results produced by prospects in the Grapefruit or Cactus Leagues. 

But the instinctive reason for believing Schafer was ready extended far beyond his statistics and five-tool talents.   There’s just something about the quiet confidence that is displayed through his actions and words.  

Like Chipper Jones, Schafer is one of those few players who truly gives you a sense he was born to play the game of baseball.

In a roundabout way, I guess I’m saying that instead of panicking about a five-game stretch we should just trust the evaluations that we’d compiled with data that was collected over a much longer period of time.

Left field concerns:   While I’m confident that Schafer will prove effective while battling through inevitable strikeouts, I’m also pretty sure the Braves spent about $2.5 million too much on the left field manequin that Scott Boras sold them in February.

When you talk to Garret Anderson, he’s as lifeless as he looks during those few occasions that he’s actually deemed himself healthy enough to be on the field.  He’s a nice guy who has had a nice career. 

But there were a number of better, more economically-sound options for the Braves, who would have been wise to just stick to their initial intention to give some of their own players a chance to prove they could play left field.  

Braves manager Bobby Cox pushed for Anderson’s signing and he has continued to show support for the 36-year-old outfielder.  Cox  has labeled him to be a “glider” who moves effortlessly toward balls in the outfield.  In addition, he’s believes the 36-year-old outfielder will be a key piece to this year’s success. 

Well Cox is entitled to his opinion and I’m entitled to believe the Braves will be putting Matt Diaz in left field much more frequently than Anderson.  

Don’t let Diaz’s .217 batting average concern you.  He’s owns a .255 career batting average in April.  During the season’s other five months, he’s combined to hit .322.

Weekend remains
:  While shutting the Braves out for a second consecutive game on Saturday, the Pirates threw just one pitch with a runner in scoring position.  

Adding to the afternoon’s frustration was the fact that early in the game, some of the Braves players felt that they had started to decipher the pitch signals Pirates pitching coach Joe Kerrigan was relaying to Ian Snell.  Still with Kerrigan in plain sight, Braves left-handed hitters recorded just one hit (Casey Kotchman’s fourth-inning double) in 22 at-bats against Snell.

Boyer update:
  I don’t have the details yet, but it sounds like the Braves are close to completing a trade that will provde them a return for Blaine Boyer.  They aren’t going to get more than a marginal Minor Leaguer in return.  But that’s better than nothing.

I’m taking a few days off to enjoy time with the family here in Wheeling, WV.  I’ll check in from time to time and follow the games scheduled to be played in rainy D.C. this week.  .    

  

66 Comments

Lineup for tonight(weatjer permitting)

1.KJ-2B
2.Esco-SS
3.Chipper-3B
4.Kotchman-1B
5.Francoeur-RF
6.Diaz-LF
7.Schafer-CF
8.Ross-C
9.Lowe-P

Agreed Mark that Braves would have probably been better served to pocket the 2.5M for later and gone internal with LF. Brandon Jones,Gregor Blanco,Matt Diaz.

Still think the Braves need a righty bench bat that can play all 3 Outfield spots.

It’s now official:

Blaine Boyer to the St.Louis Cardinals for Brian Barton.

I like the deal.

Barton could help the big club before long.

Mark, I have a question about Kawakami’s contract.

His contract calls for three years, but is he under team control for six? So basically he’ll earn his $8.3 million for three years and be arbitration eligible for the next three? I thought all Major League players were required to have six years of service time before reaching free agency.

Brian Barton was a well-regarded five-tool player prior to a 2006 knee injury. Seems like a fair deal for both sides and he bats right which is a plus for us.

Here?s some interesting bits about Barton. Before his 2006 knee injury he hit 300+ at every level he played except for hitting .274 in 223 ABs in the Carolina League (Class A Advanced). We have a team in the Carolina League (Myrtle Beach) and the league is known as a pitcher?s haven. Additionally, before the 2006 knee injury, he posted an OBP of 400+ every season (including the .274 BA season) and also accomplished the feat in 2007 at AA (.333 OBP in 25 games at AAA in 2007). He slugged 500+ every step of the way before his 2006 knee injury except for the dreaded stint in the aforementioned Carolina League in which he slugged .435 despite hitting only .274 (ISOP of .140, a healthy ratio). He hasn?t been the same since that injury, but if he ever regains his pre-injury form, we could have something very special coming forward.

And so could the Cardinals in Boyer if he straightens his head out. Both huge talents that need some room. Good move.

I hope Barton sticks with the club … and trust me, Mark, if he does, you’ll be happy too … intelligent, insightful, interesting, just a great guy to deal with.

Mark, if it wasn’t Garret Anderson, then who? Griffey signed with Seatle, Abreu signed for 5 million in Anaheim, the other options were Jim Edmonds, and Luis Gonzalez, who still don’t have jobs.

I’ve seen some encouraging signs by Garret. He has hit some balls pretty hard lately. On the field he has been pretty shaky, but that may be because of all the time he missed in spring training. If things don’t get better in a month, call Brandon Jones up and release or trade Garret.

Any word on the delay?

Tomas, there’s internal options (Diaz, B. Jones, Blanco, etc..) that can contribute more than Garret Anderson.

Mark, do the Braves have a team eye doctor?

Does anyone know how long McCann would be out if he has Lasik surgery?

I like getting Barton, even if he may have had fluctuating shoe sizes in the last couple years, or whatever it was that Peter was talking about. He got caught in a log jam in St Louis and he really had no shot with Ludwick, Ankiel, Rasmus, and Duncan there. Part time playing in the show has a way of shrinking a guys numbers. He’ll get a shot at helping Schafer in center if he shows well in the minors which he should. A very good pickup for the Braves with absolutely no risk or downside.

Barton doesn’t look on the surface to be a 4A guy. It looks like Greg White has just fallen another notch down the depth chart. With Heyward and Gorkys on the move up the charts, I think his useful time in Atlanta is over. I hope the Braves move him where he has a shot. Blanco really is a good guy from everything I’ve heard.

Hi Mark,

I very much enjoy your columns. But I found your Garret Anderson comments to be uncharacteristically harsh. It’s only been two weeks, man!

And the same could be said of Anderson that was said of Diaz– he too is typically a very slow starter. Didn’t you say that the Braves ended up being better off with him as opposed to Griffey? Personally, I still wish they had signed Grif (or even Edmonds) but I’m not ready to predict that Anderson won’t be a plus.

Again, keep up the good work! I just find myself a little frustrated when good writers and avid bloggers make analysis based upon two weeks.

Sincerely,

Chris from MD

Redsfan1972, I don’t think Mark was basing his comments on “on the field” activity. Two weeks is plenty of time to tell if you have a guy who doesn’t seem to want to be there, and who is most likely not giving 100%.
If Mark says GA is a walking zombie, that would be a bigger deal than him hitting .500 in April. If GA doesn’t want to be in Atlanta, and feels like he was low balled, he will be a liability and a distraction ALL SEASON LONG, no matter how well he plays. Bobby has been more than gracious publicly to this point based on how GA has been. It’s like having Gary Sheffield all over again without the production capability.
I would not be surprised, if what Mark has said is true, if the Braves don’t just cut GA loose soon. Brandon Jones is practically a clone of Anderson, much younger, cheaper, and somewhat hungrier. If Jones hustled more when he was up last season, GA would have never been brought in.

Personalities are not a part of MLB2009 or Fantasy baseball. They are however a huge part of real baseball.

Rother,

You made two implications that I am not ready to embrace. One is that GA doesn’t want to be in Atlanta. The truth is that he is a huge character guy who just doesn’t show a lot of emotion.

The second is your comparison to Sheffield. GA doesn’t come close to being a Sheffield in terms of attitude.

Brandon Jones might be a solid left fielder. GA has proven that he is one. I just don’t think six or seven games (which is all Anderson has been able to play due to injury) is enough to write him off.

I could be dead wrong. He is 36 and his power numbers have declined. But why don’t we wait at least another couple of weeks before we make an assessment.

Chris from MD

I agree that GA has never been that kind of guy before. And it would surprise me if he turns out to be one this time. However, right now, if Mark sees him as a distant and glassy eyed moody Dude, that is what he is being. Mark actually gets to talk to these guys. I sure hope he isn’t trying to mail in the season, but when you work with that “Prince of a man” named Scott Boras, amazing and ridiculous things seem to become reality. It is not outside the realm for him to have GA dog it to get released, then hand pick a contender to spend the rest of the summer with. GA may not be like that . Boras is all about that.
Again his “on the field” work has NOTHING to do with what Mark was talking about or referring to. Defense is the indicator. Nobody dogs ABs, they show up in contract talks and baseball cards. However, if he has not embraced the Braves for the season, there is nothing he can do (or seems willing to do so far) on the field that can balance the negative he seems to be building now internally. Bobby will lose that team if he has a double standard for effort. I almost guarantee you that the closed door meeting has already happened or is about to happen with GA.
Have you noticed that nobody is spinning “sunshine” for GA around the team any more? Not the announcers, not the players, nobody. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?
I would prefer that you are right this time. The alternative really sucks.

Hey Mark,

When are we gonna see Schaf at the top of the lineup? If he can get out of this mindset he’s in right now of trying to get an extra base hit every time up and go back to his self proclaimed “hit line drives and get on base” way of playing, it seems to me like he would be a great lead off hitter. If he can show he can get on base he’s got good speed that needs to be utilized.

1. Schaf
2. Kelly
3. Chip
4. B-Mac
5. Jeff
6. Yunel
7. Casey
8. Matty Diaz/B Jones- (let’s get GA out of here [this not based on the past two weeks but because bjones needs a shot. He looked really good in ST])
9. Pitcher’s spot

I like this lineup or even switch Casey and Diaz/BJones (with Casey at the bottom, he has a good shot to get on base and turn the lineup over so the pitcher doesn’t lead off the next inning).

I’ve also thought about Yunel hitting 5th or even cleanup when Mac is out. I know he has severe DPS (double play syndrome), but that could be eradicated if his mindset is changed.

I know when I played ball, I was hitting 7th or 8th, and I popped up almost every at bat. My coach liked my speed and decided to see what I could do at the top and I started hitting line drives everywhere and got on base almost everytime up. My mindset changed and I started to produce.

It seems like when Yunel is near the top he has a more difficult time driving the ball like he is capable of. Think about his first season when Chip got hurt and even the begining of his first full year. He was killing the ball. It seemed like every four or five at bats he hit an opposite field double! This guy can hit. I think he is more of an RBI guy than a table setter.

What do you think?

WISBRAVE, Lasik surgery usually only takes a day or two normally. I know people that have been back at work the following day. There are other things like can’t open your eye underwater and all for a while, but recovery time is basically nothing. However, McCann is a catcher. The recovery time for a business man so to speak may be a day, I am not sure for an athlete. Especially with him being a catcher. So there you go. Hope that helps.

Is that what they decided to do for McCann? I hope it goes well. It has to be scary for him not seeing well right now.

McCann back in the lineup fitted with a different contact.

Says it has already helped.

Lineup:
1.KJ-2B
2.Esco-SS
3.Chipper-3B
4.McCann-C
5.Kotchman-1B
6.Francoeur-RF
7.Diaz-LF
8.Schafer-CF
9.Kawakami-P

Wow. I hate being a Braves fan right about now.

The Braves are downright embarassing this year. last year they had an excuse to suck with all the injuries but this year the truth is coming out.

How do you have runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and not score? ask the Braves for the answer as they are the only ones that know!

My tank of optimism is running on fumes.

I think it is time to seriously consider Prado as the second baseman. He is way better defensively than Kelly and honestly, he’s a better hitter as well. Kelly hasn’t proven to be clutch offensively or defensively, and the line up could use the balance.

I’m ok with that Rother. I can’t remember the last time Kelly came through in a big situation. With the way Diaz keeps “losing balls in the lights”… he might be a defensive solution in left field. I hate losing Diaz’s bat though. However – left field has given up more runs this year than it’s driven in from the plate.

I’m not sure I’m advocating Kelly to left on a regular basis either. Kelly with a couple AAA right handers looks like a right handed hitting left fielder if you shine the light on them just so…..

If Joe Borchard didn’t have Tommy John surgery last season, we might have an internal answer at Gwinnett. He is a veteran with major league experience, but again, he isn’t on the 40 Man roster, and he’s off to a slow start this season. If Barton hits the ground running in the minors, the mix may get interesting.

yeah – he definitely holds some value. there’s got to be a team out there looking for a second baseman.

“I can’t remember the last time Kelly came through in a big situation.” – bravomania… ok well…

our home opener. schafer on second base, tenth inning, after a two hour rain delay. sounding familiar yet? who got the winning hit? oh. it was kelly johnson. you must have a really bad memory. kelly johnson is the least of our worries.

and yes, martin prado is a good player. but if you stuck him in every day, you would see more holes in his swing than kelly’s. you would be saying the opposite thing if prado was our starter and kelly was coming off the bench.

our team is fine. moylan is settling in it seems. and the rest of the bullpen will follow.

our offense has been over playing. ever since the bullpen woes the guys seem to feel like they have to put up huge numbers so the pen won’t blow it. they’re be going up there trying to get HRs and doubles when we really just need to string hits together. the big hits will come.

the pen’s the same way. they’re over-throwing. they’re trying to make sure they don’t give up another run. ever. well that’s not gonna happen. they’ve gotta get out of that mindset. they’re starting to get it together though.

we need to settle down, and start trusting each other.

I think it’s unfair to say that Prado will have as many holes in his swing as Kelly… but it was equally as unfair for me to say Kelly never comes up big. He certainly did at the home opener.
Kelly has always frustrated me though. Last year he was very “non-clutch” at the plate. He strikes out a lot and swings at a lot of bad pitches. He caught fire towards the end of the year – when we were already out of contention and there was no pressure on him… but I really can’t remember a hit from him when we really needed one (other than the one you brought up). And defensively it’s the same way. I can’t get rid of the image I have of him dropping that pop-fly against the Phillies last year to lose the game. I feel he’s badly misplaced in our lineup and has no business batting leadoff.
But you’re right – he is the least of our worries. I disagree with you that everyone is trying to hit a homerun or a double. We seem to be hitting the ball hard… just right at people. We lack power and we will be lacking run support all season long. I have been screaming that for months. Passing up on Adam Dunn was a mistake. When Brian McCann is your cleanup – you are lacking some serious rbi production.
Our bullpen and timely hitting are our achilles right now. I feel like our bullpen will right itself… the timely hitting and run support I’m not so sure about.

I’m not all that worried about Kelly – A week and a half ago he was looking primed for big things. And he’s had an awful week. But if that week had come in the middle of June nobody would notice. He can hit. The whole team can hit – I just wish we’d save some runs from the 11-1 games and spend them on the 4-3 and 3-2 losses. It’s been a frustrating week and a half, but it’s just unfortunate timing for the team as a whole.

But in the midst of Chipper missing a couple of games a week, Mac having eye issues and the lineup looking different every single day, what we need is a power anchor. Anderson is not that anchor. Frenchie and Kotchman (who I’m liking in terms of their recent play) cannot be that anchor. We need a scary power hitting monster, and I don’t care if he hits 240. I don’t want to make it seem so simple, but if we have a Ludwick or a Dunn in the middle of this lineup we’re out of trouble completely. We either need to replace Anderson with that power threat or replace Kotchman (and I think we would all rather replace Anderson). We have too many 2-3, 5-6 hitters. Who was our last genuine 4? McGriff???

um…. yes. Not sure where I was going with that. Don’t worry if you’re a fan, but if you’re Frank Wren please get us some power. Please. I mean seriously… get what you can for a Reyes-Anderson-(sigh)Glavine package.

Marion Hossa isn’t busy right now… maybe he could add some pop…

bravenorth
You basically outlined the thoughts I have been having for months now. The other night on the rain delay show someone called in and was talking to Chip and mark about this situation, and I was just floored by Chip’s attitude, and the Limmer saying this team has plenty of offence! If anybody takes a look back at past braves teams that won devisions you’ll notice the offencive output from the outfield. Even at his worse when A jones was batting .224 he still had 25 HR’s and had 90 RBI’s. Before anyone jumps on me for even bringing Jones up I’m not even saying he needed to be on this team but what I am saying is without and outfield that can hit 70 Home runs and knock in 225 runs, we got no chance. If you feel like seeing the stats of yester year visit this link and tell me I’m wrong. http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/ATL/2006.shtml Look at this output from 06, and we still didn’t make the play offs.

Bravenorth – The Big Cat was probably the last dependable, true clean-up hitter.
Like I said before. Our two biggest , most glaring weaknesses are bullpen and timely hitting. The bullpen will correct itself. We have too many good arms in the minors chomping at the bits to get up here.
The timely hitting and run production is what I’m concerned with. Frenchy has the power potential to blossom into a true cleanup hitter… but things are going well for him and THE LAST thing I want him concerned with is hitting home runs now.
These 2-3 and 4-5 games are going to kill us. Our starting pitchers will keep us in every game. We need the bats to separate us from the pack.
I just don’t see that happening with this lineup right now… as evidenced by the Pittsburgh series and this current Washington series.

Don’t look now, but the Pirates just swept the Marlins.
It kind of takes the sting away… kind of.

yeah, I’ll give you the Big Cat as the only guy since the Crime Dog… I think what we need is someone with another animal nickname!

Maybe if we started calling Casey K the Wild Moose or something he’d put up power numbers.
Seriously, let’s make that name stick and see what happens.

otherwise we could call Jeff the French Poodle…

Awesome. 5 hits against a guy who came into the game with an ERA around 6.00. Really pathetic for Jurjjens to go 8 2/3 innings of shutout ball against the NATIONALS and not get the win.

Whoops. I meant 7 2/3 innings for Jair. Great finish by Gonzo and Soriano. Really weak performance from the offense. 1 run which was walked in. We’ll take it, though.

Mark is Soriano our official closer now? He has been pitching great and the last couple games he has been pitching after Gonzo.

I know that Gonzo came in during the 8th to face the left handed Dunn. Made more sense than to bring in O’Flaugherty or Soriano in first.

Galarraga was the last true clean-up hitter we had???? Have we already forgotten Mark Teixeira? In the 157 games he played for the Braves his line was: 101 runs/37 homers/134 rbi’s/.395 OBP. In 2004 J.D. Drew: 118 runs/31 homers/93 rbis/.436 OBP. In 2003 Gary Sheffield: 126 runs/39 homers/132 rbi’s/.419 OBP. It’s not as though Galarraga had some extended period of success with us. He played in 1998 and 2000 for the Braves, and that was it. Sheffield, Drew, and Teixeira’s lines were all better than Galarraga’s 2000 campaign, and Sheffield and Teixeira’s lines were as good as Galarraga’s 1998 one. I’m certainly not knocking the Big Cat, but Atlanta has definitely had other clean-up hitters as good as him since his time.
I think there’s an area the Braves have lacked for several years which seems to be a MUCH bigger concern, and that’s the lack of a true speed guy at the top of the order. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the last time Atlanta won 90 games was Rafael Furcal’s last year in Atlanta when he stole 46 bases. Every single year of the Braves run of 14 division titles we had at least one guy steal 20 bases, usually coming from the leadoff man (Furcal, Lofton, Grissom, Otis, etc.) Since 2006, we’ve not had anyone steal over 20 bases in a season. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe since 2006 the Braves leader in stolen bases is Edgar Renteria with 28. Having a disruptive, quality, speed guy at the top is what Atlanta could really use. That 2006 Atlanta team had Andruw hit 51 homers, LaRoche hit 32, and several others were in the 20′s. Power alone has really not been the key to Atlanta’s success. It’d be unfair of me to pretend that everything’s been constant except less speed. When Furcal was here we also had a healthier Chipper, a deeper line-up, and consistent quality starting, but again, I do not believe it’s a coincidence that Atlanta’s lack of a reliable speed guy has accompanied our decline in record.

When I evaluate what a true cleanup hitter is, I ask myself these questions: Does he hit for power, and average? Does he strike fear into opposing pitchers and managers? Does he come up huge in clutch situations? Do pitchers pitch around him? Does he walk when he’s not mashing the ball? It’s not just a a numbers game for me.
The only one I’ll give you in that list is Scheffield. He was definitely a true clean up guy.
Texiera didn’t even play a full season with us and used us to land a huge contract somewhere else. So I don’t count him.
Don’t even get me started on JD Drew being a true clean-up hitter.

Even though we won last night… the ONLY bright spots in that game was Jurjjens performance and Frenchy is still hitting the ball. It is frustrating that a young pitcher can throw back to back shutout efforts and not pick up the win. Usually we can blame the bullpen (John Smoltz a few years back would have been a 20 game winner after leaving at least 10 games with the lead still in tact only to have our bullpen blow it).
Jair should be 3-0 right now.
We only scored our run on walks. Pitiful.Soriano was another bright spot.
tomotalk – I agree with you. We need a lead off hitter to get on base and be a legitimate threat on the bases. Kelly is completely out of place in our lineup and has no business batting lead off.

I’ve got to agree with tamatalk. The Braves are so reluctant to steal bases that the opposing pitchers always get to throw every pitch in their arsenal, even the sliders in the dirt, with no impunity. Even Lance Berkman, LANCE BERKMAN!!!, attempted more steals last season than the Braves leader. As long as Schafer is hitting 8th, that trend will continue this season. Once he gets to the leadoff spot he will have some impact on the scoring. But as long as he is leading the majors in strike outs, he’ll be hitting 8th. At least he is progressing daily with his approach.
I remember the team that McGriff came to. No real clean up guy was present and both Gant and Justice were trying to be something they were not. When McGriff arrived they all settled into their roles and took off as a team. The problem is clean up hitters aren’t really floating around on the wire in April and May.

Lack of power was the reason for the Kelly talk earlier. I agree he isn’t really the problem, but he is probably a big part of the solution when the Braves go looking for the power guy. He is pretty much the only guy who has a replacement already in Atlanta.

Why does ESPN hate the Braves so much? Just one snub after another form them. Just a small example, on their ticker line at the bottom of the screen it showd Jair’s pitching line and did not mention he had 0 earned runs but when Lannan’s line came it showed him matching Jair but also had a big 0ER with his line. So did Jair! No metinon of that. When the Braves win highlights are minimal, when they lose the winning team gets its own half hour highlight show it seems. What did we do to be so obviously hated. We are a classy organization that does not deserve this media snub. Frustrating.

After the first 15 games of the season, I’d like to point out who is leading the team in Ab’s, Hits, and Batting Average.
Jeff Francoeur

I forgot rbis too!

The fact that Chipper Jones isn’t leading the team in hits or average tells me it’s WAY too early to draw any conclusions from the limited sample size we’ve got. Francoeur needs to draw some walks, too. I know it’s early, but he’s only drawn one and his OBP is still at a crappy .328. If he could get that part of his game down he’d be an all-star.

I have a feeling that the only stats Chipper will lead the team in this year is batting avg. and pharmaceutical purchases.

Chipper won’t lead the Braves in any category that is not a percentage stat like BA, because he flat out doesn’t play enough at this point in his career to actually produce numbers at a season long statistical leader level. He barely had enough plate appearances to win the batting title last season.
Peter, Francoeur’s job is to produce runs, not take enough pitches so that he gets another 10-20 walks, has to go to right with 2 strikes on him 30-50 more times, and gets the 10-20 called third strikes that always accompany the extra walks.
We’ll make you a deal. Give him a walk for each of the RBI he gets past 100 instead. That way he can fill up the meaningless category that you seem to have ordained as the only way he can prove he doesn’t suck, and the Braves can still have the run production that they need from the best clutch RBI guy they have.

Bravo, did I miss anything?

Well said Rother. I am very encouraged at Fenchy’s turn-around and I posted those stats as a positive reflection of his hard work paying off. I was expecting to see an uplifting “atta boy Frenchy” from Braves fans. I was surprised to see the response it got… until I realized who was responding… the same person who I believe used the words “Francoeur sucks” a month or so ago. I guess some people can do no right.
Knowing what Frenchy went through last year and the hard work he put into this off season to have a good spring and an admirable start to the season is very encouraging and I’m happy for him. I read in an article that he is not getting too comfortable and understands that things can go sour very quickly. Is it too early in the season to forecast Frenchy’s comeback? Probably. But there’s a part of me that feels confident that he’s back and better than ever. I’m proud of him and the turn around thus far…
… and I’m not going to take a look at him leading the team in every offensive category and have the nerve to say “yeah, but he should be walking more and he has a horrible OBP” (paraphrase).

I’d like to see Francoeur walk a little more as well, but I think it’s worth noting that though he’s still not walking, the early sample size also has Francoeur’s K-rate cute nearly in half (approx. 17% last year, approx. 9% this year). I’m alright with the lower OBP if he’s driving in runs. For that to be consistent I would like to see his homer rate increase a little bit. His homer percentage looks a lot like last years, and not trying to point to anyone particularly, but if you don’t like Garrett Anderson all that much, be alarmed that Frenchy’s had a very “Garrett Anderson” like production start to the year. [e.g., solid average, no walks, rbi's w/o power].

rother, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say, but I am happy with Francoeur’s performance so far and I hope he continues and he’s still producing when we have a statistically meaningful sample, that’s all.

Spot on take above rother.

For those that are interested, Joe Borchard was released today from the organization.

Brian Barton has officially been added to the roster is in the lineup playing LF and batting in the #2 hole.

Listened to some of the manager’s(Brundage) pregame show, said the plan is to get Barton time at all 3 OF spots and play daily. Brundage also mentioned that Diory Hernandez shoud be returning from the DL this weekend.

I can envision a scenario by the AS break that has Barton up with the parent club as a 4th outfielder by then.

mark,

We all know that the starting rotation has been terrific, with the exception of jojo. I personally think its time to forget glavine ( offer him a job as our pitching coach, and say bye to roger ) and bring up tommy hanson. We can put him in the fourth spot of the rotation so he can get more work and we can use kenshin in the fifth spot. And as far as our offense goes, i agree with the vast majority its time to get rid of GA, he is more of a hinderance then anything else. If anything i think he has cost us games! Im content with plantoonig BJones and Diaz in left until the big bat we desire in left is available, arent you? And as far as the bull pen goes i think Soriano has def proven himself as the ideal closer which will give us another left handed specialist in gonzo, how do you feel about that? And finally to spark the offense and produce some more runs atop the order what if the lineup card looked like this:

schafer
esco
chipper
bmac
frenchy
casey
diaz / bjones
kj
pitcher

well mark again its always a privilage to read your columns and hope to hear back from you soon

nick
rome ny

I’m for getting rid of G. Anderson, but it’s unnecessary to bring Hanson up at this point. We’ve got plenty of 5th starter options and it will save the club tons of money down the road if we just Keep Hanson in the minors for 5 more weeks (it’ll delay his arbitration clock a year).

Peter is right that it would be a big shock if Tommy Hanson came up in the next few weeks. The big four are holding their own in Atlanta, and they have Tommy on a pretty tight pitch count in Gwinnett. He pitches at home tomorrow (Friday) at 7:00 for anyone interested in attending and seeing the kid for themselves.

I’m probably going to upset some people, but I just can’t help myself….

You guys dwelling on these stats kill me. Try just sitting back and enjoying the game. This is April. The season still has a very long way to go. If you think worrying about all the stats is going to give you some great insight to how the season is going to unfold, then you are just setting yourself up for a long miserable road. It’s kind of like sneaking a look at your Chirstmas presents when you were a kid. It ruins the surprise.

Don’t get me wrong, to each his own. If that’s what you enjoy doing (crunching a bunch of numbers to make it look anyway you want) then go for it, but maybe just try to enjoy the game for what it is, trust what you see with your eyes and make a determination from that. Honestly, has anything so bad happened at this point in the season that it is going to completely de-rail any hopes of making the playoffs? I know it has been a frustrating start, but I would much rather hit these bumps in the road in April and not September. The core is solid. A few tweeks and we will be in business.

GO BRAVES!

Hey KatJam, I can’t find your email address right now. Which Tides/Braves game are you going to next week? I’m going to try to make it to one, just not sure which one just yet.

KatJam – Love the optimism and I think you’re dead on. Our bullpen will right itself, as evidenced by their last few efforts. Our run production is a little concerning to me but I believe we will have the opportunity to make a transaction before the deadline to put us over that offensive hump and separate us from the pack. Our starting pitching will keep us in every game. I’m still very excited and would rather struggle early than late.
At the same time, baseball is a statistically driven sport and baseball fans are statistically driven people. It’s part of the nuance of the game. It’s fun to discuss stats but people do take it a little too serious.
The thing I am most optimistic about is Jeff Francoeur’s new hitting approach. It’s really uplifting to see his hard work pay off. The city of Atlanta needs him to succeed as much as he needs himself to succeed. Like I said before – even though it’s early… there’s a part of me that feels he’s back and better than ever. During his first three seasons I thought to myself that if he hit to all sides of the field he would be unstoppable… I feel like he’s on the right path!

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