Does Chipper still have something left in the tank?

Based on what we’ve seen over what has amounted to nearly a full calendar year, it’s hard to imagine that Chipper Jones is just two years removed from his first career batting title. 

Dating back to June 9 of last year, Jones has hit .229 with 12 homers, a .363 on-base percentage and a .357 slugging percentage.

Among every other Major League player who has compiled at least 450 plate appearances during this span, Lyle Overbay (.228), Clint Barmes (.221), Carlos Pena (.216) and Brandon Inge (.208) are the only who have posted a lower batting average.  Barmes, Inge and Pena have done so while totaling at least 20 home runs. 

Jones’ .357 slugging percentage ranks as the 13th-worst mark posted during this span.  To provide some clarity, he has produced less power than Michael Bourn (.365) and just slightly more than David Eckstein and Ronny Cedeno, who have both posted .354 marks. 

But as Marlins right-handed reliever Brian Sanches showed while issuing Jones the go-ahead, four-pitch, bases-loaded walk in last night’s victory, the Braves 38-year-old third baseman is still being pitched to in a cautious manner. 

The 100 walks that Jones has drawn dating back to June 9 have been trumped only by the totals that have been issued to Albert Pujols (104), Adrian Gonzalez (103) and Chone Figgins (102).  His 33 walks this season rank fourth in the Majors and equal the total drawn by the great Pujols.

It’s almost as if pitchers feel like they’re still facing the same guy that hit .352 with a .448 on-base percentage and .618 slugging percentage during a 358-game stretch that extended from June 26, 2006 through June 8 of last year.

Within this stretch that extended through four seasons, nobody compiled a better batting average or on-base percentage than Jones. His .618 slugging percentage was bettered only by the .620 mark posted by Pujols.

Then seemingly overnight everything changed for Jones. Through the first 47 games he played last year, he hit .331 with a .451 on-base percentage and .567 slugging percentage.  While the power was off slightly, the numbers were at least somewhat comparable to the ones he’d produced over the course of the previous few years. 

At 38 years-old, it’s understandable that Jones is no longer producing the same kind of numbers that punched his ticket to Cooperstown. But along with age, maybe his struggles are a product of the fact that he no longer is protected by the same kind of threat that Mark Teixeira provided while he was hitting cleanup in Atlanta. 

There seems to be a popular opinion that it is time for Jones to move out of the third spot in the lineup to make room for Jason Heyward.  While I see this as a logical option, maybe there’s reason to keep Jones where he is and give him the protection Heyward would provide while manning the  cleanup spot, a position that would give the 20-year-old phenom more RBI opportunities than he has had since moving into the two hole.

Like I said last week, attempting to find the best makeup of this Braves lineup is like attempting to piece together a large jigsaw puzzle that has no corners or ends.   But Martin Prado has proven to be the best option in the leadoff role and with the belief that he will start to hit consistently, I think Yunel Escobar might be best served to bat second. 

There might be some late-inning matchup problems if Heyward and Brian McCann (who would bat fifth vs. RHP) were positioned together in the lineup.  But to give Jones one last attempt to prove he still can be a productive threat in the middle of the lineup, I think it’s at least worth seeing what he could do with Heyward sitting behind him for at least a week or two. 

If this wouldn’t work, then Jones certainly needs to move down to the sixth or seventh spot of the lineup.  But before completely giving up on him with the assumption that age has been the primary factor in his decline, it’s seemingly worth giving him a shot to see more hittable pitches.

Tonight’s matchup:  Looking to conclude this road trip with a 4-2 record, the Braves will conclude this three-game series against the Marlins by sending Tim Hudson to the mound to oppose Ricky Nolasco.  As many of you likely remember, Nolasco notched 16 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings when he last faced the Braves on Sept. 30.  

Nolasco had totaled 16 strikeouts in his three previous starts against the Braves last year.  The right-hander posted a 1.82 ERA in the five appearances (four starts) he made against Atlanta during the 2006 season.

But in his past seven starts against the Braves Nolasco is just 2-3 with a 6.02 ERA.

Hudson is 8-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 15 career starts against the Marlins.  In the eight career road starts he has made against them while pitching for the Braves, he is 6-1 with a 2.44 mark. 

   

 

 

74 Comments

I can see the logic of batting Heyward 4, Esco 2 and leaving Chipper there for awhile. Other options make sense too. But something needs to change a bit. In spite of McCann’s average over the last week or so, he doesn’t look right to me. And I really don’t understand how you can sit Infante as hot as he was. He at least needs to be platooning with Melky who is better against righties anyway. But Esco at 2 is a little concerning in view of his penchant to pull the ball mosty now and hit into a lot of double plays.

I forgot to mention McLouth. I think he needs to be a bench player. I have no confidence in him at all.

I like this lineup then for a test: Prado, Escobar, Chipper, Heyward, Glaus, McCann, Hinske/Cabrera, Infante/McLouth.

It makes a lot of sense to move Heyward back in the order. He’s an rbi machine and needs base runners to drive in. Chipper will indeed see more pitches to hit… although I’m not sure he’s really seeing bad pitches right now. It just looks like he’s swinging an oak tree up there, not a baseball bat.
It makes even more sense to move Heyward to #4 given that McCann will be sidelined with a tweaked quad. Chipper has already been quoted as saying he will move in the lineup wherever Bobby places him. It’s just a matter of if old stubborn himself will think outside the box a little.

Well Mark, that should about get you kicked out of the clubhouse for the rest of the season.
The problem seems pretty obvious when watching the games. We’ve actually had this discussion back during last summer. You can see that Chipper is guessing a lot more and trying to get out in front for the fastballs. This of course leaves him wide open to take those crazy swings that you see now, but almost never saw in his heyday. To his credit, he is one of the smartest hitters there is, and he really can fake it the rest of the season to the tune of about .250, .350, .400. But it will not work come playoff time, and you’ll know when the entire league has it figured out when he no longer gets the respect walks he’s living on right now. I already see Heyward getting pitched around to get to Chipper, and it is only going to get worse, and Chipper knows it, too. He has been a great Brave, but he is at the end now, like Mays was with the Mets.

I’d much rather see Chipper get walked than Heyward so it makes sense. Since Chipper hinted strongly today this is probably it for him, we should make the adjustment now and get the most out of him that we can. I like the idea next year of moving Prado to third so Infante can show what he can do. His bat is too good to keep out of the lineup. Then the freed up money for Chipper can buy us a good corner outfielder and/or leadoff guy if Shafer doesn’t come around.

When did Chipper say that?

Okay I know this WON’T happen so save all the reasons why it isn’t realistic. With all that being said: I would LOVE to move Prado to 3rd and make Infante our everyday 2nd baseman. Chipper could be an option off the bench kinda like Giambi is for the Rockies. Then you could have this lineup:

Infante
Prado
Heyward
McCann
Glaus
Hinske/Melk Man/Diaz
Escobar
McLouth

When Escobar comes around (I say “when” because I am confident it will happen) he can be moved up.

Is it just me or is that line up missing someone?

Anyway, I am intrigued by the notion of moving Heyward to 4 to HELP Chipper. Since when did it become about helping Chipper? The lineup should be set to HELP THE TEAM. I love Chipper and I am and will always be a HUGE fan. But it isn’t about him, it’s about winning. Chipper is best suited at 6 or 7. (but he should at least be in the lineup so_car!)

Prado 4
Escobar 6
Heyward 9
Glaus 3
McCann 2
Jones 5
Henski 7
McClouth 8

That’s a fine lineup but if we are being honest we all know Infante deserves to be in this lineup just as much as Chipper. AND he can play defense. Almost everytime Infante has batted leadoff he has produced. No matter what, Go Braves!

Rother, Chipper said it on a radio interview today. It shows under mlbatlantabraves rumors. Same thing he said before.

If you had paid attention to any of the writing, you would’ve saw the part where pitchers are still pitching around Chipper, which is why he is walking so much. It would give him better pitches to hit if Heyward were hitting behind him.
And as for the retirement thing, he said the same thing he has been saying for almost a year to the Florida sports radio station.

I just listened to that interview and Chipper is hilarious in it. (except when he admits to owning Affliction tshirts).

How about that pitch that slipped out of Hudson’s hands and somehow hit Hanley’s left arm? Huddy is as fearless and loyal as it gets. Message to the rest of the league: Don’t attempt to embarrass any of his former coaches or teammates.

Mark, that’s hilarious. Here’s to hoping that Fredi is coming back at years end. Maybe Huddy was just saying come on home? Escobar sure looks at lot better at the plate the last 2 nights. Here’s to hoping he is getting it going. Man, the blog was silly last night, full moon coming on maybe. Either that or someone’s off their meds again.

Having Tim Hudson in the lineup is almost like having the DH. He is just an all around great athlete. And here’s to you Mark! Yesterday you talked about Escobar’s struggles and he started hitting and today it was Chipper and he has a multi hit game. Keep up the good work!

Yeah, so_car, do I dare attack the McLouth project. Estimated restart time is 9:55 p.m. ET. Huddy is in the bullpen. Looks like he will continue pitching.

Now Moylan is warming up. Looks like Huddy’s night is over.

Bobby laughed when I asked him if he was going to start Phil Niekro during one of next week’s games against the Phillies. Given what Wakefield and R.A. Dickey did with their knuckleballs against the Phillies this week, ol’ Knucksie might still be capable of throwing a few scoreless innings against Howard, Utley and Co.

That’s great Mark, or maybe this is the Lemmer’s big chance!

Mark, have you heard anything about Diaz and how he is doing post surgery? Did they find Jimmy Hoffa or anything interesting in there? Man, the Phillies are on the brink of having their 4th shutout in the last 5 games. God, I love baseball.

Now I know I wasn’t the only one pulling for Saito to put one in the gap…

It was obvious that Huddy intentionally hit Hanley, but it didn’t even cross my mind that it was for Freddie. That’s awesome! I had the Marlins broadcast and they were guessing it was because he held on to his bat a little too long Wednesday night when he homered and was rounding the bases. It makes much more sense to me now that he was sticking up for Freddie. Also, sending a message that Freddie needs to come home next year! I love Huddy. Truly fearless. Not only is Hanley twice his size, but that was the first inning and huddy knew he would be hitting himself at least three times.
Great win last night! I’ll be in town for Saturday and Sunday’s game. Can’t wait!

I think that Chipper is a good player but his skills have gone away like the dodo bird of old so I think that he needs to either take a smaller role like a pinch hitter or platoon role and put conrad or Infate at 3rd.

Instead of making a go at Oswalt could the Braves make a go at Lance Berkman or sign Randy Winn if the Yankees decide to DFA?

Or any chanes calling up that Cuban Outfielder Yasser Gomez or will he be in the minors for a little fine tuning to see if he skills are up to Major League Caliber?

Why on earth would the Braves pick up Randy Winn? Just what we need, another 4th/5th outfielder to plague our roster. Lance Berkman isn’t an offensive improvement over Glaus, either- and his salary is 6 times more than Glaus’s.

I would never watch a Braves game ever again if they benched Chipper Jones to play Brooks Conrad every day.

ground crew taking cover off field

stamp time is wrong as it is 8:14

Randy Winn would be a good addition if we didn’t already have our own personal Randy Winn – Melky Cabrera. We couldn’t take Berkman’s salary, and the Cuban guy was just for depth. I don’t see him getting called up except MAYBE September. But by then we have McLouth, Cabrera, Diaz, Heyward, Hinske, Infante, and Gregor Blanco will also be on the September roster. They won’t need him.

Todd Redmond just threw a No No for Gwinnett at Louisville!

Redmond retired 27 of 29 batters, walking two in the 6th inning. He only struck out 3.

in a situation where you’re up by 5 in the 3rd and it’s raining, is it standard protocol on offense to try and get out of the inning as fast as possible so you can get through the minimum to make it an official game?

Viva, Viva, Viva. If you had ever played the game or coached at any level you would know. NO coach alive would ever have encouraged one of his players to intentionally make an out or do anything extraordinary because of inclement weather and NO player I have ever played with, coached, known or watched would do something that nuts. Just doesn’t happen.

Geez Derek Lowe looks better at the plate than McLouth. He looks horrible. And he is being stubborn about his approach. He obviously needs to do something about his swing and it looks exactly the same as when he came over last year. Sure would be nice to have a batting coach. Some of these young guys really need the steadying influence.

That was a joke, you idiot. Cause everyone started swinging at the first pitch. Did your computer send up the billreef batsymbol when you thought i served you an opportunity to try and look superior? What level do you coach? I wasn’t aware that we had such a professional in our midst.

My guess is girls’ tee ball. Amiright?

Nick name for Heyward – “Deuces Wild” and that could be shortened to “Deuces”. When he comes to the plate the fans can chop with BOTH hands forming the “victory” 2 on each hand.

The Deuce

Viva, you do a really good job of looking stupid. I guess I just fall for it because it happens so often.

That’s the closest thing to a compliment that you’ve ever given anyone on this blog since you dragged your old *** in here oh so long ago.

Actually, Billreef, in Coaching through Jr. Ball (13 – 15 year olds in Florida) we would get a LOT of afternoon thunderstorms. Although I never encouraged anyone to make outs, I would instruct our players to “be Swinging” if we had a lead with rain coming, and it wasn’t an official game. By the same token we would try to stretch the game if we were losing.

It is much different at the major league level. Of course we had no tarps, so if it rained hard for 20 or 30 minutes, the game was over.

The thing I have harped on – is why we burn our starting pitchers in early inning scenarios when we know it is going to rain and be in delay. Huddy last night, and we lost Hanson two or three times last year. With radar technology, you can pretty much predict the time that the rain will hit. When it appears that there will be a rain delay early, start your long relief guy. Then you can bring your starter in after the delay.

What in the h*ll is Junior Ball. Is that a league you invented, or is it just a coincidence that no one calls their league Junior Ball? And if you coached my kid that way I would pull him off your team.

Bill do you watch South Park? I keep imagining you as a 60 year old Cartman, living alone in the everglades.

Your kid wouldn’t have made my team.

http://www.littleleague.org/series/2007divisions/index.htm

What, you can’t read? I told you 13 – 15 year olds.

Braves warming up and umpires are on the field. Ground crew almost finished.

Mark, do you think Ross will be interested in staying with us when his contract is up this year? We only signed him for a 2 year deal, right? Ross is the only guy I feel just as good about as McCann when I hear his name in the lineup. Reminds me of our Greg Olson/Damon Berryhill combo in 92. Though some may say O’Brien/Lopez duo, but I just like Olson because he’s been the forgotten old Brave…and Chipper took his number when he left. At any rate, I think we really need to get Ross to resign with us. Do you get the impression David wants to stay a Brave and is happy with his backup role or do you think he is gonna want to play on a team that will give him the starters job instead of backup?

I know that McCann is a great hitter and a four time all star, but I do concurr that the drop off to Ross is not too significant. They both have same type power – 20 to 25 Hrs if play full season. McCann probably gives you around 30 – 50 more points on the average, which is signifcant. Ross adds slightly better defense and much better baserunning ability. This is important as the Braves tend to lack much speed. McCann is defintely the starter, but they are lucky to have Ross as a back-up.
Things are looking good, need to sweep the hapless pirates.

So far this season the bench has impressed me more than anything. Ross, Infante, Hinske, Conrad. These are the guys who have been winning games for us. Like jimphelps said I really hope we are able to keep Ross after this season. I’ve never been pro DH for the NL, but it would be nice to have McCann and Ross in the lineup at the same time. Maybe we’ll see it in Minnesota in a couple weeks.

Oh, by the way billreef. I’m from South Carolina and between the ages of 13 and 15 I played in a league called “Jr Ball”. Just because you’ve never heard of it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exsist.

I guess that’s where the kids who can’t make regular teams go to play. Kind of like a Little Miss Pageant……EVERY ONE GET’S A TROPHY!!!!!!!!

Not really, the Jr league was a way to play baseball longer. High school (JV and varsity) started practicing in January and ended in April. Jr league usually started in April and would go until July. That way you could start in January and play right into July.

Not really, the Jr league was a way to play baseball longer. High school (JV and varsity) started practicing in January and ended in April. Jr league usually started in April and would go until July. That way you could start in January and play right into July. Ah to be in high school again! There is no way I would have the energy to do all that now.

Sorry, Bill, you lost this one…

Here you go Billreef – always glad to do my part to help eradicate baseball ignorance.

http://www.littleleague.org/learn/about/divisions/baseball/jlbb.htm

Not entirely sure what to do about the two hole or where the absolute best place to hit Chipper is. I can tell you I do know that Heyward needs to be batting third or fourth every game regardless of who else happens to be in the lineup that day and Chipper has no business in either one of those two spots. Whether Chipper hits second, sixth, or seventh, a move needs to be made now.

I agree on Chipper. Heyward’s RBI opportunities woud be greater hitting 3rd or 4th. Regardless of what happens the rest of the game, Heyward will always have one AB in the first inning with 0 or 1 runner on. Lately the pitchers and Ross have gotten some hits and given Heyward some RBI opps, but that will soon end. Chipper’s best asset now is he has a good OPB due to walks. He should bat second and let Heyward try to catch him on the bases. Thankfully Chipper has been hitting better lately, but he still only has 2 HRs. I know Bobby was loyal last year to players like norton (cost several Ws) and KJ (he was awful), but let’s make the change now and Heyward will have 60 RBIs by the break, guaranteed. I would also be open to moving Esky or Cabrera to the top of the order and having Chipper hit 6th or 7th. They seem to be coming around. McClouth needs to rest for a while since he still can’t seem to get it going.

GO BRAVES!!!

Wow, Nice poke Heyward. I wonder how many years he played in Junior Ball???

Good one, old man.
You never told us what experience you have to back up your expertise.

Viva, great point! I’ve noticed that bill’s observations are that of someone who I think has never played the game.

I also never gave you my real name and phone number. The last thing I want is some little hacker in his mom’s basement looking for me. I respectfully decline to offer any additional detail to the whining hoard.

Can we cut McLouth yet? Who knew that Schafer’s .204 that he hit last year would be an improvement at this point…

Anybody here still in their mom’s basement? *looking around*
Anyway, today’s lineup:Prado, 2BInfante, 3BHeyward, RFGlaus, 1BEscobar, SSCabrera, LFRoss, CMcLouth, CFKawakami, P

…and I’m tired of Chip Caray’s retarded announcing. Calling McLouth’s looping, broken bat duck fart into right field a “high drive into right”.
That being said, I love the way this team is playing. Go Braves!

I am seriously starting to feel bad for Kawakami! This guy can’t buy a W!

I love seeing that Yunel seems to be coming around. I knew it was only a matter of time. Now if McLouth could just follow suit!

Ok, we have all come to he conclusion that baring injury, Jason Heyward will be the 2010 ROY. However, does he deserve to be the MVP of the league? – absolutely yes. He is leading the league in OPS, which has become the bible for determining a player’s worth. Additionally, he has won at least three games with walk offs – tied another. Chipper’s hit in the 8th was lucky, Heywards triple was good.

Please make sure you get your all star votes in for Prado and Heyward. Hudson also deserves to go and so does……… Venters. Yes, he has been awesome in middle relief.
Things are looking good. There is no reason they can’t sweep the Phillies since Halladay will not be pitching.

Go Braves.

how bout putting chipper in the 8th hole McCann 3rd Heyward 4th and Glaus 5th or the other way around. You know i am also in favor of doin what LaRusso does in STL and have the pitcher hit 8th and have regular player hit 9th that one way Bobby can make a Change to the line up put CHipper hitting 9th

I give Heyward ROY but he isn’t even the MVP of the Braves. You have to give that title to Prado. Despite the fact that Rotoworld thinks that OPS is the “bible” for determining a players value, Prado wins this on several counts. He has been consistently producing for the Braves from Day one. He leads the league in avg and hits. He has been an integral part of almost every late inning rally that the Braves have staged and he has become a brilliant defender at 2B. I will not deny that Heyward’s ascendancy has been been amazing but Martin is the engine that starts this offense. I fought against moving him into leadoff because I liked him so much in the 2 hole, but he accepted that challenge and has risen above it. Martin Prado is MY MVP.

BTW, its neat that we are talking about MVP’s now and not how dismal everyone is hitting like we were a month ago. Now if we could get a CF who can hit his weight we might really be in contention. Hey Frankie baby, didn’t you have some money left over last winter??? How about finding us a CFer????

You know, a few days ago someone was complaining the Braves don’t score enough runs.

Just to clarify, the Braves lead the NL East in runs scored. Yes, the NL East. The division with the Phillies and Marlins lineups. That NL East.

Also, the Braves lead all of baseball in runs against opponents. I think it’s +54 in May. Leads all of baseball.. by quite a lot. This is a powerful offense that should have come out of the gate killing opponents but laid dormant for a while.. it’s powering up now and showing the rest of the league that it could actually be better than what the Phils have put together. When JJ comes back, i think, despite our record, we might have the best team in baseball (except in CF).

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