Braves hope their offensive woes stayed in Atlanta

It’s early, but based on the frustration I could sense in the clubhouse after last night’s loss to Jamie Moyer and the Phillies, I’d have to say the Braves players and coaches share many of the worries you developed while watching them split this recent homestand.

Yes, the Braves managed to win win three of six on this past homestand.  But at the same
time, they needed two dramatic ninth-inning comebacks to prevent going
1-5 during this stretch against the Rockies and Phillies.

It will be a homestand remembered for the two clutch hits that Jason Heyward provided to erase deficits with two outs in the ninth inning.  But even Heyward encountered struggles during this homestand, hitting .211 (4-for-19) with seven strikeouts.  

During this six-game stretch at Turner Field, the Braves hit .225, which is actually better than the .214 mark they have compiled over the previous 10 games entering tonight’s series opener against the Mets. 

Yes,  the Braves were burdened by the fact that they faced Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Ubaldo No-No Jimenez during this stretch.  But in the seven games that they didn’t face these elite hurlers, they managed to hit just .249, a mark that would rank as the 11th-best in the 16-team National League this year.  

J.D. Drew, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Teixeira and reigning National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan have provided the reminder that many talented players can find their batting averages resting below the Mendoza line during this early stage of the season. 

But as Braves manager Bobby Cox will certainly attest, you can’t have too many key players falling into this category at one time.  

Through the first 15 games of the season, Nate McLouth (.171), Troy Glaus (.170), Matt Diaz (.167) and Melky Cabrera (.125) all find themselves serving as the holes that Jeff Francoeur, Jordan Schafer and Kelly Johnson were during the early portion of the 2009 season. 

McLouth has shown some recent promise and at least provided indication that it’s time for him to play everyday and prove he can be the leadoff hitter the Braves envisioned entering Spring Training.  Yes, he hit just .200 (3-for-15) during the homestand. 

But he followed Tuesday’s walk-off homer with what I thought was a solid 0-for-4 effort against Halladay.  He put good wood on the ball with each of the four balls he put in play. 

As for Glaus, I haven’t exactly seen him benefit from the clutch two-run homer he hit in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s thrilling victory.   That stands as the only hit he’s tallied in his past 23 at-bats  —  a span that includes eight strikeouts. 

Last impressions are always the strongest and the fact that I think there’s more reason to worry about Glaus than McLouth, might just be a product of the fact that the Braves first baseman accounted for two of the 11 strikeouts Jamie Moyer has posted in 18 innings this year.  

Diaz’s early-season struggles aren’t anything new.  On the way to hitting .313 last year, he hit .216 in April. 

Cabrera’s early struggles only seemingly confirm the belief that he will be best utilized as a fourth outfielder, whose versatility will allow him to platoon with Diaz and occasionally give McLouth or Jason Heyward a breather.

Making matters worse for the Braves is the fact that Yunel Escobar is hitting .203 and has totaled just three RBIs since driving in a career-high five runs on Opening Day.  His offensive woes have seemingly affected his body language. 

But as I mentioned in last night’s game story, if the Braves do indeed decide to put Omar Infante at shortstop for tonight’s series opener against the Mets, it won’t be solely because Escobar has struggled from an offensive standpoint. 

During Wednesday night’s game against Halladay, the Braves loaded the bases with one out and then saw Escobar rip a sharp grounder that hit the mound and landing in the glove of a diving Chase Utley, who flipped to first base to begin the run-preventing, inning-ending double play. 

Escobar appeared to be pacing himself down the first base line and a National League scout later told me that he had him clocked at 4.54 going down the line.  Just to give you an idea of what that means, I mentioned that to one of the Braves coaches and they playfully responded, “isn’t that what Eddie (Perez) ran?” 

Then Escobar played a role in the three-run third inning the Phillies constructed against Derek Lowe on Thursday night.  While the official scorer gave Martin Prado the error, there were some in the Braves clubhouse who felt that his double-play feed to Escobar was certainly good enough for a double-play to have been turned. 

My thought was that Prado’s feed was certainly good enough to account for at least one out.  But seemingly preparing to leap over the oncoming runner, Escobar dropped the feed and consequently allowed the Phillies to score two of the three runs they tallied that inning. 

Escobar is a tremendous talent, who has the capability of proving to be one of the game’s best shortstops.  But as the Braves leaned last year while benching him at least three times, there are times when it’s best to make him sit and think about things for at least one game.

As for Glaus, some of you have suggested that the Braves platoon him at first base with Eric Hinske.  I haven’t gained a sense Cox is ready to do this. But the career numbers indicate this is something that might work if Glaus continues to struggle.

GLAUS 
vs. LHP   1267 ABs  .275 BA  87 HRs  .949 OPS
vs. RHP   3784 ABs  .247  219 HRs   .820 OPS

HINSKE 
vs. LHP   673 ABs  .221 19 HRs  .667 OPS
vs. RHP  2439 ABs .263 BA 94 HRs .805 OPS

With Glaus having basically missed all of last year, the Braves are
certainly going to give him more than 15 games to get re-acquainted to
the speed of the game.  But this might be an arrangement that Cox occasionally at least toys with over the next couple days and weeks. 

    

 

 

48 Comments

My wife and I noted Escobar’s apparent lack of hustle going down the first baseline last night, going so far as replay it on the DVR and mentioning it on Mark Barkley’s blog comments.

Although it’s nice to get confirmation of what I thought I saw, I hate to find it true because Escobar is one of our favorite players.

Line-up

McClouth
Prado
Chipper
McCann
Heyward
Hinske
Cabrera
Infante
Pitcher

I knew Esky was not running. I just don’t get it. It could have cost them a run.

I don’t know.. Escobar’s arm was more than halfway extended above his head (I just watched the replay again). Those guys are usually so in sync I could imagine that Yunel was surprised that it wasn’t thrown perfectly. Oh and this is a great time to open the floodgates for all the morons who think he should be benched.

No, he should be benched because he has been in a slump similar to Glaus and Melky. Escobar is a great player, but he needs a day off and hopefully he will come back on fire on Saturday.

Go Braves!!

acziffer gets it.

An Infante sighting. . . . I love that guy!

Why did Maine get yanked? Injury? High pitch count? I mean, kk was up… Wth?

does anyone know how many strikeouts the braves had with their bats on there shoulders?

What’s a foul ball error?

It’s when you loaf over to a ball, don’t call your catcher off and then drop a ball that Glaus could have caught.

I love Yuni, but he can get full of himself. He has such amazing talent that he seems to think he can get away with his little peccadilloes. It’s good that he’s sitting tonight, he needs a chance to think about the fact that this is a team sport, he is one of 25 players and there is no speed but all out on the baseball diamond. And he did drop the ball at second, Prado’s feed wasn’t perfect but Escobar took his eye off the ball.
This team looks poorly coached right now. I’m not blaming Bobby but his subordinates aren’t getting it done right now. No communication between the infield and outfield. People missing signs. Nobody calling pop-ups are a sign that they aren’t talking to each other. For all the Kumbaya about how close this team is supposed to be, It doesn’t seem like they are playing well together. Our defense is kinda smelly right now. I’m not forecasting doom, but we have to be careful not to get into the situation we got into last year. Lousy first half, great second half, sitting at home in October.

The NY announcers are laughing because our infield doesn’t know what the infield fly rule means. My point exactly.

braves can’t buy a hit at the moment. really frustrating to watch.

The Braves need to go out and get Jermaine Dye or make a trade for someone who can hit! This year will be no different than last year Braves in 3rd place. its getting so hard to even watch the games.

No, what we need to do, is get 8 hats, throw every name that can play that position in there, and just draw a random one. Then take those 8 and pull them randomly to make the g*ddamn lineup. Or, we could just trade for every single ex-Brave. I mean, who wouldn’t want Andruw Jones, Kelly Johnson, Casey Kotchman, or Jeff Francouer right now?

Every single ex-Brave, huh… well, I wouldn’t mind having Mark Kotsay back. I still say he could have been valuable for us. Much more valuable than Cabrera (better at everything besides batting right-handed).

… of course, he isn’t doing well this year, now that I check…
But it is funny that Johnson, Frenchy, and Kotchman have hot starts this year. Time will tell if they maintain their success.

Whose bright idea was it to bat Cabrera 6th? Rather see him and Ross switched.

Geez, Melky is turned around looking for the throw while he is scoring????? Who in the H#ll is coaching this team? At some point when the whole team is lacking fundamentals the entire coaching system is at fault, majors, minors, assistants and organizational structure.

This Braves team is so pathetic…2 hits through 4 innings. Every year bitching about the same thing. I’m so tired about commenting how bad this team is. I’m just taking a complete break from them being my team.

What the heck, Yunel?

Add that to Yunel’s growing list of mental blunders. If Chipper hadn’t already left the game, I’m sure Bobby would have pulled him on the spot. I can’t even guess what Yunel was thinking when he didn’t just go back to third to tag on what appeared to be a routine sacrifice fly.

Because Chipper left in the third with a sore right hip, I don’t know if Cox would feel comfortable pulling Yunel. If he did, he could put Omar at short and put Conrad at second base.

Ok – does McCann get a free pass for not know the infield fly rule. I know it and I never played organized ball after the 6th grade? I don’t get it???

Anyhow, Esky makes about 10 of these mistakes a year so he deserves to get ripped and I am sure he will for not tagging up.

If they could just get the W here, they can be 1-1 playing like the bad news bears.

Still love my Braves – go team.

Proctor got roughed up again last night w/ Gwinnett. The Braves are going to have him spend the next few weeks at their Spring Training facility with the hope that he will benefit from completing his rehab process in a less competitive setting.

Well folks that why you don’t trade Frenchy to NY for Ryan Church.

Guess Florida is in a different time zone, too, huh Mark?

Bill, I agree… that had to be the dumbest trade ever. Even last year it was dumb.

I just don’t understand why Franceour looked horribe for 1 and a half years on the Braves and now looks great. He would have 2 HRs in two days in any other ballpark, including Atlanta. He was absolutely awful on the Braves in key situations and the move had to be made, even if they got little back. I don’t typically blame coaching for much, but can anyone help me out. I am trying to figure out if anyone’s career as a hitter was improved by going to Atlanta – Kochman, Glaus (still early I know), Melky (still early I know), Norton, Frenchy, Church, Garrett Anderson, McClouth, and corky Miller (just kidding). I guess Matt Diaz has really done well there. Still waiting for a late inning turn around.

Go Braves!!!

less competitive setting? if he can’t make it in AAA, completing work in a less competitive setting isn’t going to prepare him to get MURDERED in the majors…but what do I know?

btw, 5 regulars are hitting below the Mendoza line now…can we please make some changes!!!!!!!!!!!

Craig Kimbrel still hasn’t given up a run since the beginning of ST Hint…Hint…

wow….if i have to see another brave strike out, with his bat on his shoulder, i am going to break sh%t. also, changing up the line up everyday cannot be good for the team. what makes the phills so good is that their position players are consistent because they know their roles and what is expected of them. so far, this year is no different to the last.

My thoughts…
As much as I’d hate to see it, batting Prado leadoff may end up having to be on the table. If he still hits, keep him there. If he mysteriously stops hitting, call a priest or somebody to perform an exorcism on the top slot in the lineup.If Chipper has to miss a lot of time, play Hinske at 3B.Also, it becomes worth toying with the idea of batting Heyward or even McLouth 2nd if Prado leads off… reason being, they won’t loaf to 1st on a ground ball that could lead to a double play.Just some thinking on my part while the hated Yankees play yet another FOX Saturday game…

Chipper said he’s feeling a lot of discomfort in his hip. He said he’s guessing it’s more than a couple-days kind of thing…Not sure what was said, but it was evident that Cox tore into Escobar during the postgame meeting…Escobar declined to talk to us…Cox said he’s never seen anything like that play.

I actually never thought it could get this bad. This is as bad as it gets folks. It’s one thing to not score any runs, which we’ve been doing for the last two years, but to look like the “bad news bears” on top of it… It’s truly embarrassing. I’m kind of speechless right now.

Chipper is back in the lineup for today’s series finale. I’ll post a new entry when I come back to the press box.

Braves lineup vs. Mets
Cabrera, 7
Prado, 4
Chipper, 5
McCann, 2
Glaus, 3
Heyward, 9
Escobar, 6
McLouth, 8
Hanson, 1

That Chipper is back in the lineup so soon after leaving early yesterday afternoon is a good sign.

Should put Omar back in the lead off spot. He’s our best option there IMO.

We really need to stop the bleeding here. I’m not even saying we need a win, though it would be nice. There aren’t any must win games, every game is equally important to win(I know, if we are a game from the playoffs and its the last game, it’s must win. I’m just saying if we win a game now and lose a game later its the same as losing one now and winning one later.)… but we need to get some confidence. Give our pitchers some runs, get our batters some confidence.

I keep hearing about Adrian Gonzalez but I really don’t want him. We have too good a farm system to waste our talent on him, but we might need an upgrade of Glaus and the rest don’t improve. Now, I really think we’ll be fine. Even if Glaus is terrible, if the rest of the bats come alive, we’ll be fine.

Anyway, I really want to see something happen today. I know it’s early, but last place? Seriously?

What’s up with Vazquez? I can’t believe Wren was that smart to sell high on him…

Melky Cabrera starting…and leading off….(sigh)

Good question, neverwhere. I would have thought that the homer-friendly park got to him, but most of the damage done has been in visitors’ parks.

Well, I don’t think we can say he “sold high” yet. He got a 4th outfielder at best who’s hitting below the Mendoza line, a reliever we don’t know much about, and a good prospect that could end up a bust. Not pessimistic, I just know the Braves luck.

And, it’s not like we did much with his salary. We got a converted 1st basemen who’s also hitting below the Mendoza line.

Jon Miller said Prado batted leadoff yesterday and went 0-for-5. I don’t think he’s failed this early in a Braves game before.

ESPN broadcasts are awesome, eh?

Bobby Valentine, Joe the Mouth and the dumbest guy in sports JM. Espn is to broadcasting what the Braves are to offense.

I’m beginning to think that the error earlier is going to come back to bite us. Seriously, guys?

Here we are again, team hitting slump. Would new hitting coach help???????

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