Cox shuffles power-hungry lineup

If Braves general manager Frank Wren’s attempt to land a power bat proves unsuccessful, he might want to see if the Phillies are willing to trade Citizens Bank Park in exchange for Turner Field.

In fact, while thinking out of the box, he might want to call the Reds or any other team that is capable of providing a homer-happy environment in exchange for Turner Field, a place that has become the kryptonite to the power-limited Atlanta lineup.
Entering Tuesday night’s game against the Rockies, the Braves had scored one run in their previous 18 innings and won just three of their previous 14 home games.  Working with a roster that doesn’t possess a legit leadoff or cleanup hitter, manager Bobby Cox is going to have to employ some serious chemistry skills to form an effective equation with his current elements.  

With his latest attempt on Tuesday night,  Cox moved Yunel Escobar into the leadoff spot, placed Casey Kotchman in the second spot and positioned Brian McCann back in the cleanup spot.  Kelly Johnson will bat sixth, where he’s found success in the past.

Tonight’s Lineup
SS Yunel Escobar
1B Casey Kotchman
3B Chipper Jones
C Brian McCann
LF Garret Anderson
2B Kelly Johnson
 RF Jeff Francoeur
CF Jordan Schafer
P Jair Jurrjens

In  346 career plate appearances in the lineup’s first spot, Escobar has hit .317 with  a .378 on-base percentage.   In the 72 plate appearances he’s recorded while serving as the game’s first hitter, the Cuban shortstop has .429 with a .444 on-base percentage. 

The potential benefit of placing Kotchman in the second spot stems from the fact that he routinely puts the ball in play.  In the 316 plate appearances he’s registered since joining the Braves, the veteran first baseman has struck out 32 times   —  or  just 13 times more than the second hitter in Atlanta’s lineup has registered in 169 plate appearances this year. 

Putting McCann in the cleanup spot provides Chipper Jones the protection he needs against pitchers, who still haven’t been given much reason to fear Garret Anderson’s bat.    In the 11 games he’s recorded since returning from the disabled list, Anderson has hit .262 (11-for-42) and tallied just two extra-base hits  — both doubles.

Johnson, who has batted .191 with a .262 on-base percentage in 105 plate appearances as the leadoff hitter this year, will now have an opportunity to display his run-producing skills.  He has hit .289 with a .344 on-base percentage in 90 career plate appearances , while batting sixth. 

Jumbling the order of the lineup might enhance the power by giving Jones the potential to see better pitches with McCann hitting behind him.  But this is a club that is in dire need of benefiting from the longball.  

Entering Tuesday, the Braves had scored 58 runs during their 17 home games.  The only Major League team with a lower home total was the White Sox with 56 runs after 16 dates at U.S. Cellular Field. 

The six home runs the Braves had tallied at home ranked as the Major League’s lowest mark, sitting five dingers behind the 29th-ranked Giants.
The Braves have totaled 28 homers this year and 12 of those were hit during this six games they played at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.  Another four were tallied during the three-game series at Cincinnati’s compact stadium.

Further showing the power discrepancy that has been produced outside of Atlanta, the Braves have homered once every 31.7 at-bats on the road and once every 90.7 times at home.  The Giants have compiled the Major League’s second worst home mark with one homer every 62.7 at-bats.    

While you’re at it Frank, see if the Phillies are also willing package Ryan Howard with their ballpark.



THANK YOU BOBBY. That line-up makes SO MUCH SENSE. Why haven’t we been doing it from the beginning? Take the DP away from Yunel by batting him 1st. Kotchman is a great hit and run guy, he’s basically a perfect fit for the number 2 spot. And Chipper and Mac belong in the 3 and 4 holes. Putting your best 4 hitters in the first 4 spots is usually more of a good idea than a bad one.

I agree Peter. Why has it taken this long? We’ve all been screaming that the lineup needed to be altered. Sometimes Bobby is a little too patient. This lineup just makes more since.

When I saw those numbers, a question came to my mind. Bobby Cox knew that?

Well anyone else like this line-up? Seems to be working, eh? This team ACTUALLY looks dangerous now. Kelly Johnson having a great game and Jordan Schafer and Garret Anderson are having good games as well.
Hope Bobby keeps it this way. We definitely aren’t gonna win games with Garret Anderson at 4th. Hell I wouldn’t even take him seriously there. I’d just walk Chipper and get Anderson out.

From today’s game it looks like the lineups has been effective. 6 runs scored 1st game Bobby set the lineup

12 hits in the game as well this lineup has definitely been productive

Hate to bring it up again, but this goes back to Peter’s arguement last week about Bobby using Mike Gonzalez too much. It is 8 to 1 right now and he is in the game. Just saying.

No reason to go crazy over the batting order yet. We’re having a great night, and that’s plenty of reason to go crazy. But I’d like to see this line-up get hot and win 10 of their next 12 before I christen the new batting order as the solution to our offensive woes. Personally, I think we’ll be much better if Bobby sticks with this line-up, it’s much more optimal, but we’re probably still a bat away. Of course, maybe I’m wrong and this batting order IS the solution. That’d be awesome. We’ll have to wait and see. But great night for the Braves. Jair Jurrjens never ceases to impress me. He is a thrill to watch. And Kotchman had such an awesome game. I’m really starting to like that guy, and I like him a lot in the #2 spot. And maybe, just maybe, Kelly’s slump is over and he’ll be a consistent producer for the rest of the year. This is probably more wishful thinking than anything, but maybe he catches fire soon. Jordan Schafer had knocked in 1 of 46 runners in scoring position this season and knocked 2 in tonight. Their defense is responsible for the lop-sided score, but there’s no way they win the game even if they play perfect defense. We were on fire tonight, and nobody could stop us. May this continue. Jeff Francoeur = only Brave without a hit.

He hasn’t been used in 3 days, and you want your relief aces to get regular work so they stay sharp. Now, if we need them the next 3 days, we’ll regret using them, but that’s hindsight. And I don’t disagree with the decision to use them tonight. Especially to secure this win for Jurrjens. Good god, he’d be 9-0 with any run support.

By the way, check out how I totally called the line-up last night:
(ACHE = Garret Anderson, stands for Anderson, Cleanup Hitter Extraordinaire)

I have to agree with PW, there’s no reason to get too excited about this new lineup. While it might be the best structure based on the current components, this club needs power or at least some speed to counteract that fact that they simply don’t posses the big bats that can send balls over the wall…The front office knows that there’s a definite need to get power and they are in the fortunate position to have some pitching depth that other organizations covet. I think there’s also a realization that they can’t wait until the trade deadline to add some pop to that outfield mix. The trade buzz will start soon.

From the start of the game i really liked Kotchman batting 2nd. he gets on base quite a bit, and that will help with the runs and also giving chipper more to hit because if he is on that just adds to the amount of people on if they walk chipper. but we do need power, however i dont think its a nessciaty, reason why is… Francore is in a slump, Shafer still hasnt goten into the swing of things and Garret is finally getting his swing down. Those 3 people right there are a major part of the 8 to score runs, so get those 3 at least in the right direction and the runs and all will come with it

Well, one game does not mean anything, plus they were facing a lesser pitcher anyway. It will be harder in today’s game.

I personally think the new order is ok but still far from great. Yeah, KJ had a great game but what if he does not do the same in the next game? There will be a huge hole after 6th hitter.

Yunel is hitting well but he is not trying to get on base. If you take away his aggressiveness, he might be come a worse hitter but he does not only have enough speed to leadoff, he is not patient enough either. Kotchman has next to zero speed, he should hit 5th rather than 2nd. McCann hitting 4th does make more sense but that is probably the only thing I like about this order.

I still say make Infante hitting leadoff and counting on Yunel hitting line-drives. KJ should be pinch hitting guy. There are almost nothing we can do about Jeff or Jordan now. I think it is safe to say that Jeff had his chance. He should be trade away for Matt Holiday and then next year when Jason Heyward is ready (or sign a FA), Braves can find a new RF.

Schafer needs to realise that there are people in the minors waiting for his spot. I saw progress in his swing but he is not adapting fast enough.

I like the new lineup for the most part except for one glaring exception, the number 7 hitter. Francouer is just a hole in the line-up no matter where you put him. Please, we’ve seen enough of this guy. He’s just not a major league hitter and if he ever was one it has become apparent that he is not capable of returning to that status. Patience is one thing but it can become counterproductive. I would much rather see Infante or Diaz in there for Jeff right now until we can find someone else.

1) Thank you Bobby for the lineup shuffle! It’s not specifically how he arranged it, but the fact that he recognized the need to do something to shake things up is what’s most encouraging to me.

2) I was shocked at first to see Gonzalez pitch last night in a non-save situation. My best explanation is that he wanted to give him a chance to regain some confidence in a low-pressure situation.

3) I think Francouer could use another night off and Infante deserves more AB’s.

The problem with the lineup is the organization went out and got a great first baseman only to let him leave for the hated Yanks where of course he is playing lights out. Here’s a hint pay whatever it takes to keep a big bat on your team so you don’t have to deal with these problems later. Also don’t hire players like Anderson who are either injured or not helping their team consistently. Better scouts for this team may be needed as well because some of their recent finds aren’t knocking any socks off in my book. Maybe Hanson can be brought up finally to help the pitching woes as well.

People on this blog may want to look things up before they post. Mark Teixeira is hitting .241. Granted he has 11 HR, but he plays in a launching pad. Far from lights out. And you’re counting on Yunel to hit line drives? He does nothing but put the ball on the ground. Highest ground ball percentage in the majors. Speed isn’t important. Scoring runs is. If you can do it without speed, more power to you. Plenty of teams have done it. We need SLG, not speed.

PW – You beat me to it. Diablo – are you serious? We offered a fair contract to Tex before last season and he turned it down. It was clear he was using us to lure the Yanks and make big money (more than what he’s worth). And did you really say we need better scouts? Our farm system has generated more top echelon major league players in the last 20 years than any other team. McCann, Escobar, Hanson, Medlen, Heyward, and Freeman are only the tip of the iceburg. Look at what we’ve traded away! Saltalamachia, Flowers, Elvis Andrus… I could go on forever. I think our scouting department is just fine.

Mark – forget about starting the trade buzz soon… let’s start it NOW! That’s what blogs are for right? What sticks are out there for us to start talking about? Let’s get the ball rolling on this forum
p.s. – No one is allowed to mention Brian Giles, Jim Edmonds, or Jose Conseco…

Kris Medlen for Adam Jones

Infante and Prodo should be in the lineup everyday as long as they produce the way they have, or until they fall off or someone else out plays them. There should be no guarnteed spot in the lineup for so so ball players like Francouer, Anderson, Johnson, Shafer and others.

The indians are taking offers for Derosa lets bring him back to Altanta…give em morton and rohrbough

Adam Jones, J. Dye, J. Pierre, maybe Andruw Jones before the deadline if he continue his success. I still think we should have tried to trade for Brian Roberts this last offseason.

Indians Fielding Offers For Mark DeRosa

was just posted on:

Rohrbough is too much for 3-4 months of DeRosa. Maybe Reyes, Valdez, and Marek. That’s more than the Indians gave up to get him.

Agreed. If the Indians want to deal him for a Reyes/Marek type, then I’d take that as he’s certainly an upgrade over GA in left, but I don’t consider DeRosa much more than a glorified version of Omar Infante. DeRosa’s got just one season with more than 13 homeruns, never stolen more than 6 bases in a season, and while he’s certainly demonstrated that when you give him AB’s he can produce, I’m not sure he’d solve a lot for the Braves other than giving us a very versatile, decent hitting player.

It doesnt matter what Cox does….with guys on the roster like Francour, Kotchman, and Johnson…this team isnt goin anywhere…I expect Bobby to step down after this season….Wren get this thru ur head…trade, cut everyone not named Chipper, Hudson, Lowe or JJ, get in a new crop of players. This team sucks…

The guy that continues to stick out as the natural choice and has at least been rumored in the past is Jermaine Dye. Having said that, I’ll throw out a name, just to see what people think. Garrett Atkins. Now, he’s been off to a bad start and has only very, very limited experience in the OF, but he’s got a track record of decent power/production and his contract is right to be moved. Additionally, he seems to be out of favor in Colorado. His career home/road splits are not fantastic which would worry me about being a “Coors Field” product to an extent, but might be worth a gamble as a darkhorse depending on the Rockies demands.

New post up
Andruw would be interesting, but highly unlikely.

Check the Expos list against the Braves if you want to see farming with real results. Orlando Cabrera, Randy Johnson, Javy Vazquez, Andres Galaraga, Vlad Guerrero, Jose Vidro, Cliff Floyd, Rondelle White, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, Tim Walllach, Larry Walker, Gary Carter, Zimmerman now, it goes on and on. It is amazing what they had to give up over the years.

I wonder what it will take to pry a cornerstone out of another team that we can set in a position for a few years.
If we’re looking for “grow in” type guys, it is likely to be somebody else’s #4 outfielder, or the guy that they want to move to let their Jason Heyward loose on the world.
Who do you guys see that fits either of these categories? There are some pretty good players that haven’t been given a chance yet by their current teams.
If we look to the AAA superstars, we might get an idea of what established guys are in their way at the Major League level that could help the Braves immediately. Any names you can think of?

I tried to go on the Orioles blog to inquire how many pitchers they would need to let Adam Jones depart, but, sadly, I only see one single comment to the 10 blog posts. I guess all O’s fans have jumped on the Nats bandwagon.

What do you think we would have to give the Cubs to pry Jake Fox out of their AAA Iowa team? He is a legit ball crusher from the University of Michigan. They are stacked in the outfield with All Stars and big contracts right now and could use another couple serviceable arms. He’s already 26 and probably almost out of options as he is on their 40 man.

I would imagine the Oriole would likely be Luke Scott depending on what Nolan Reimold does with his opportunity. I just can’t imagine them dealing Jones at this point. I suppose a Chris Duncan/Ankiel may be available once Ludwick’s back as Rasmus seems to be catching on with more playing time. Swisher/Cabrera for the Yankees if Austin Jackson continues to hit and they decide to bring him up. Marlon Byrd in Texas if the Rangers become convinced on Andruw. Part of the reason I suggested Atkins was because the Rockies seem real anxious to get Stewart in there consistently, and the OF’s already got Fowler, Hawpe, Smith, and Spilborghs. Juan Rivera for the Angels. Many seem high on Matt Joyce of the Rays (he’s who they got for Edwin Jackson), but with Crawford, Upton, and the much improved Ben Zobrist perhaps Joyce could be snatched away….though the Rays don’t need any of our pitching. I’m not saying any of these guys are available, likely, or desireable, just that they might fit the bill described by Rother.

Matt Holiday may become available. He would be an obvious rental, so the cost would have to be reasonable. Right now either Holiday or Dye would make our lineup look a lot better by placing them in LF and the 4 hole.

Holiday was “bought” to “flip” by the Beanie Baby, so he won’t come cheap and is likely not on the Braves radar. It really does take special circumstances for the Braves to even talk with Scott Boras about the weather any more. Derek Lowe was a special case as they really needed to lock somebody up. GA same thing, and after that “deal” he gave us on GA, Boras probably thinks the Braves owe him one.
What about Shelley Duncan and/or his brother? Long term contracts in NY have locked him off their 40 man roster for good. Maybe they’d be interested in players like Diory Hernandez and Barbara Canizares, neither of which will ever play enough defense to make a National League roster.

I don’t know why anyone would want to pick up DeRosa. He doesn’t seem to be very much of an upgrade. Jermaine Dye would be wonderful to have, but wasn’t he part of the conversation in the off-season and everyone realized that he’s too expensive? I’m still bummed that Andruw was not given a chance in left field for VERY cheap, but obviously there’s no use complaining about that now.
Hypothetically.. what if Frenchy does find his swing. What about Heyward? Would Jeff be put in left and Heyward in right? Heyward in left? Looking at his stats, I’m not sure he will get an Andruw-like early call up, so maybe this is a 2010 question.

We need to definitely set our sites below the marquis $12-15 Million guys, this is the Braves we are talking about after all.

I think a straight up trade of Jojo Reyes for Andruw Jones would do it maybe throw in someone like boone logan…I think we should also try and trade for a bull pen arm since it is highly likely that someone will go down as happens every year

Could you imagine the ground that could be covered with Andruw Jones and Jordan Schafer…not many balls would drop in those parts of the outfield

If Heyward goes to Mississippi soon AND tears the cover off the ball there, I still don’t see him coming to Atlanta for many of the same reasons Hanson isn’t coming. Plus, it would be really hard to have Heyward and Schafer cutting their teeth at the same time in the same lineup and expecting any production at all. He would have to be super human for 2 straight months AND have Schafer become an impact player to get a look this season.
When he does get here it is going to be really fun watching him take off.

I think the Braves need to focus their efforts on investing in “will be’s”, not renting “has-been’s” (hence my mentioning of Adam Jones in earlier posts). I don’t want to see any more Teixera-type deals where we dump prospects in exchange for short-term players. I’m not convinced that we’re merely one big bat away from being contenders. I think we can all agree that we need a legit power threat (with a future) and a leadoff man. Realistically, as far as our outfield is concerned, I can’t see the Braves giving up on Francoeur mid-season and GA will probably do just enough to keep his roster spot (if he stays healthy). I think we should continue to be patient with Schafer, and hopefully within the next 1-2 months he’ll be ready for another shot at leadoff.

We’re fortunate to have the pitching depth that we do throught our system, but I trust that Wren and co. will not act out of desperation hunting for a quick fix.

Unfortunately most “will be’s” would not help the current predicament. It’s a real shame seeing the offense struggle with the pitching staff being so good. What was the problem last year? Oh yeah, all hitting no pitching.

They are already hunting you can be sure of it, but I agree rentals don’t seem to be the ticket very often. I’m not a fan of taking anybody that is in their contract year unless we already have discussed terms for the new contract.
Here is a new slant, what if Schafer is better suited to NOT be a leadoff guy? Just because he can run is no reason to make him try to fit a role he isn’t equipped for. Maybe he is a slashing gap guy that should hit 6th or 7th. What if the outfield of the near future, 2010 or so, is Schafer in left, Gorkys in center and leading off, and Heyward in right?
For one thing the defense would be outstanding, for another the speed upgrade would be exponential from the current configuration. That would be an interesting mix. Schafer might have 15 -20 HRs in him once he settles in, and you know Heyward can put the ball in orbit. With Freeman as a thumper first baseman, it just might work. Or Freeman can be part of the package to get a thumper first baseman. There are a lot of possible configurations out there.

Vivabeta, last year it was no hitting
or pitching,
or speed,
or energy,

emarc – I agree that we should not focus on “has-been’s”… but the thing is, we have the “will-be’s” already. Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, and Jordan Schafer. Another “will-be” will not help us. Our future is set… it’s the current that’s the problem. The question is – Does Braves management want to float on by with a .500 team until the day our studs are ready, or do they want to go for a bat to help us win now? Hopefully it’s the latter. I’m tired of .500 to sub .500 seasons. And we are a legit offense producer away from being in real contention. All the other pieces are in place. Chipper will never get pitches to hit without someone protecting him. How many 1-2 run games have we lost the last tow years? How many wins have we blown for Jurrjens because of our lineup? He should seriously be 9-0 now!
We need a legitimate run producer yesterday!!!
Adam Jones is having a good year… but his previous three seasons are no where near as good. That kind of worries me.

Uggggh, painful flashbacks…..
This team is lightyears better than that one already. It will take a couple years for the Braves to just fix the roster moves they had to make last season by getting the dead weight off the 40 man roster without just releasing a half dozen pitchers.

Ha. Well, the hitting wasn’t so bad with Tex in the cleanup spot. He never heats up until the second half so we missed out on that. But at least the lineup made sense and only lacked a true leadoff guy. Now we have neither. Unfortunately all the real answers are a year or so away, so I unfortunately think Wren will probably go with the rental approach and maybe get some decent prospects in the rental package.

My point is that I’d like to see us get someone who can not only help us now, but for the next several years (someone that we will be able to sign for the long term).

I also don’t want to get rid of any of our top hitting prospects (Freeman, Heyward, etc…) just pitching. The only pitching prospect I would declare untouchable is Hanson, and with the demand for pitchers being as great as it is, we shouldn’t have to give up any of our hitting prospects to get what we need.

I’d rather sit and hover for a year at .500 than give up prospects for a one-year rental that will result in long-term mediocrity.

I think a package that included Kelly Johnson and some pitching might bring Brian Roberts to Atlanta. That would be a decent short/long term upgrade. Throw Canizares in the mix as well while he is still knocking the cover off the ball in Gwinnett.

I agree. I don’t think there is any intention of getting rid of the best prospects. But there are certainly plenty of rentals we could get for Jo Jo, Morton, Rohrbaugh(sp?), Campillo, etc. I’m also not necessarily saying this is the right option. But it might be the only one.

I can live with that. We are upgrading a position without giving up any top prospects. Johnson might turn it around but not to the level of Roberts, and he’s had enough of an opportunity to elevate his game. If I’m Baltimore I’m not sure how excited I’d be about KJ, I’d probably want a Morton or Medlen.

What about Markakis? I haven’t followed Baltimore in a while and rarely pay attention to the American League, so I don’t know anything about his contract, etc.

Markakis just signed a big deal to be the face of that franchise for years.

Ok. I figured as much. Thought I remembered hearing something like that.

KJ can start for Baltimore for the rest of the season and keep them from messing with their 40 man or downgrading to a point where they aren’t competitive. The pitching would be the meat of the deal, but Medlen is too high a price with KJ. Morton, Campillo or Reyes should be enough.

Roberts, Kotchman, Chipper, McCann would get things started in the right direction most nights, that’s for sure.

Bat Escobar second some too. He would take a pitch if he knew there was even a minute chance the runner would actually be going. Then he could hit behind him to either move him up or knock him in.

I like the idea to get Brian Roberts.

The Orioles just signed Roberts to a large extension in February… Seems unlikely they be that quick to then flip him for KJ and something. Additionally, with pitching prospects in their system like Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman, and Brian Matusz they O’s really are not in the market to just deal for another pitching prospect. They signed Roberts not for this season but for the next few when the team’s young pitchers make it up here. I’m all for the Braves finding a more longterm solution, but I think we will have to look somewhere other than the Orioles…that team’s already moving along with a forward-looking approach.

What the Braves need is pretty much a 2 year rental outfielder. Look our infield is Chipper – Escobar – Johnson – Kotchman. Its actually a very good infield despite what many of you think. Anyways back to my point. We have an great array of outfield prospects (G. Hernandez, Schaffer, Heyward) That will be the 2011 outfield. We need a big bat that we will only need for a couple of years, but can’t give up prospects. And that is very hard. We need someone like J. Dye or Nick Markakus, but that will never happen. And the reason why so many teams trade at the trade deadline is so that they get as much of use out of that player. (I thought I’d never have to say that).

Also, I still believe we should get a “Gap Hitter” as opposed to a “Power Hitter” just because it make more sence at the Ted. Derosa would be an ok solution if we traded Jo Jo & Morton for him. And traded Francour for some low – middle level prospect. And haved Derosa in Right Field. But Derosa makes 5.5M in 2009, which is more than what we have even with the 3M freed up from Frenchys contract. (I believe)

We’re basically all arguing almost the same things that we were in March. Left field is still a problem and there’s no real leadoff hitter. I think Frenchy is worth way more than a low-middle level prospect. He still has the potential to be the player that was on the cover of SI. Not that his value is very high at the moment, but if he is traded it will be in a blockbuster deal.

Let offer Pittsburg Francoeur & 1 million dollars plus any 4 pitchers from the following list : (Bennett or Carlyle)-(Morton or Parr)-Campillo-Reyes-Acosta-Valdez-Marek-Darrow for Nate Mclouth



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