Braves have to keep McLouth in the two hole…for now

Those of you wanting Jason Heyward to bat higher in the lineup probably weren’t surprised to see the Braves score two runs or fewer in four of their first seven games.

His presence in the sixth spot led Martin Prado to hit .233 and Dan Uggla just .222 during the 3-4 road trip that concluded Thursday night.   If Heyward had hit in the second, third or fourth spots, Mike Minor wouldn’t have experienced his control problems or proven that he isn’t quite ready for the Majors.

What had the makings to be a good first week evolved into a an early-season stretch the Braves would like to soon forget.  But the root of the Braves’ offensive struggles certainly weren’t a product of the fact that Heyward batted either fifth or sixth in those seven games.

Before going any further, I don’t think anybody will be surprised if Heyward starts hitting a little higher in the lineup soon.  But right now, I have to ask, who is going to bat sixth, if you take him out of that spot right now?

Most of the exasperation has to do with Nate McLouth’s presence in the second spot of the lineup.  And it certainly hasn’t helped that McLouth has hit just .217 (5-for-23) during the season’s first week.

Of course if he sneaks two singles through the infield and legs out a bunt single while going 3-for-3 tonight, there will be some waking up tomorrow talking about how encouraging it is to see McLouth hitting over .300.

Obviously it’s far too early to make evaluations on McLouth or any of the other Braves.  Thus I don’t think Fredi Gonzalez has any other choice than to leave the veteran centerfielder in the two hole with the hope that he will take advantage of the array of fastballs he’ll get sitting in front of Chipper Jones.

When this season began, the Braves put McLouth in the second spot because they felt he could provide value with his speed and occasional power.  At the same time, they were hopeful that he would be able to consistently move Prado over.

With Prado only getting on base in just a quarter of his plate appearances so far, McLouth hasn’t had many opportunities to move him with a bunt or a grounder to the right side.

The always-reliable Prado will soon start hitting like he always has.  Whether McLouth then proves his value in the second spot remains to be seen.

But for now, I think the Braves have to give McLouth every chance to prove productive near the top of the lineup.  If you move him, are you going to feel comfortable with him, Alex Gonzalez and Freeman sitting in some order in the sixth, seventh and eighth spots?

Remember when Garret Anderson, Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson were all struggling early in the 2009 season?   Some Braves were saying they essentially had six innings (when the top five hitters in their lineup were batting) to score every night.

The Braves gave you plenty of reason to be frustrated during the season’s first week.  But at the same time, I think many of you should have been encouraged when Gonzalez said he will not be afraid to alter his lineup when necessary.

“My philosophy with the lineup is that I pick it for the first 10-12 games and then I think the players pick it,” Gonzalez said while explaining that performance will determine the makeup of his lineup.

In other words, Gonzalez will make changes once his players have been given enough time to prove themselves.   Unfortunately, this might mean some of you will have to spend at least a few more days having your patience tested.

BRAVES LINEUP for Friday’s home opener vs. Phils

Prado 7

McLouth 8

Chipper 5

McCann 2

Uggla 4

Heyward 9

Gonzalez 6

Freeman 8

Hudson 1


What a smart ass article… McClouth can hit 6th. It isn’t fair to Heyward, who has earned the 2nd spot, to be batting 6th to make life easier on a VETERAN. Heyward is too valuable to waste away in the latter half of the batting order so McClouth can see more fastballs to leg out infield singles. Good for you that you’re writing articles, but it doesn’t make you any smarter than any other diehard Braves fans, so quit trying to prove that you’re so much smarter than the rest of us.

I don’t think he is trying to act smarter, just tired of hearing people complain about the batting order. Just like lots of other people.

The problem is that Mclouth aint doing anything with all those fastballs he is seeing batting in front of Chipper

OK bossman….I posted the following before in a previous blog but you wouldn’t post it. Is it the length or are you afraid to post. I have been a braves fan since they came to Atlanta. I was with them through the many terrible seasons and with them through the the 13 consecutive division championships. However, I have become very disappointed with them for the last few years ! The organization seems to be willing to field a team that has winning seasons but not willing to do enough to bring another world series to Atlanta. Everyone including many baseball anaylysts have made bold predictions about this year’s braves. The fans were so excited coming into the season…and to be quiet honest with you I’m not sure why. Here’s my reason for being pessimistic this year. 1. Chipper Jones….age, bad knees, lack of production the last 2-3 years when healthy.
Sure he had a great spring ! Yet I don’t think his knee will hold up for the entire season….if it does here’s his numbers
BA 260 HR 12 RBIs 55. 2 Alex Gonzalez Getting some age
only average defensive but does have some pop. My predictions BA 258 HRs 18 RBIs 55 ( I would have stuck with Escobar…..Braves stuck with Andrew Jones through his young years of cockiness) 3. Freddie Freeman Great potential ! Braves are asking a lot of Freeman. Great average in minors but lacks power. Alot of pressure on a young guy ! BA 275 HRs 10 RBIs 50 4. Jason Heyward Injury prone, lack of consistency, overrated. BA 280 HRs 23
RBIs 85 good numbers if he stays healthy ? 5 Martin Prado
I love Martin Prado !!! Has played way beyond expectations
but will the move to the outfield hurt him offensively ?
BA 288 HRs 12 RBIs 75 6. Nate McClouth Good speed, above average glove, fair arm…..alot of pressure on a guy that was sent to the minors last year ! Last years lack of production and being sent to the minors has had a big effect on him mentally. I think very few fans believed he would be our starting CF this year. BA 240 HRs 10 RBIs 40D
ok…positives Dan Uggla will have a Uggla year ! BA 290
HRs 30 RBIS 110 Brian McCann BA 295 HRs 21 RBIs 100
Starting Pitching Great Potential ! But to many questions marks. 1. Tommy Hanson still lacks consistence…dominating at times, clueless at times 2. Jair Jurrijens injury prone 3. Derrick Lowe a great battler but 12-12 at best 4. Brandon Beachy ! I love this kid ! Exceeded what anyone has expected ! He will be great pitcher at some point. But again…he’s a rookie ! He has to be great this year ! 5. Mike Minor(when Jurrijens is on DL)
Again…great potential but young. Positives Tim Hudson !
Bullpen weaknesses Linebrink, Sherrill on their last leg.
Moylan ? Christian Martinez will be ok. Strengths Eric O’Flaherty, Johnny Venters Questionable Craig Kimbrel Again Great Potential Counting on a rookie reliever as a saver ? Bench David Ross, Eric Hinske….after them Matt Young 29 year old rookie, Brandon Hicks good glove, no offense, Brooks Conrad(LOVE THIS GUY) Can he do what he did last year ? Can he overcome defensive flaws that plaqued him at the end of the season ? I sure hope so.
There is alot of potential for this team and in the minor leaque system. But too many things have to fall into place for this team to challenge for a division tltle. Too much hype….! Alot of anaylists will be wrong and alot of fans disappointed…..again Prediction 3rd place oh…one more thing Bobby is gone, and Freddie is here. I have no problem with Freddie although he wouldn’t have been my choice but you’re asking Freddie to pull on this together…I don’t think so….I would have begged Joe Torre to come back along with Billy Wagner !

Unless you were going for sarcasm here, then I don’t understand your point.

I understand what you are saying here, but I don’t see how McLouth is currently sitting behind Chipper Jones.

You made some good points, but I think you need an editor!

The sad truth is that McLouth has not been a .300 hitter for a while now, or even a .300 OBP for that matter. Nate is an out machine in the two hole while Jason gets on base in over 40% of his ABs. Not to mention the fact by dropping Jason to 6 is giving him around 1 less AB per game than Nate as well. Let’s do the simple math; who do we want getting that extra 150 AB’s this season; Nate with his .541 OPS or jason with his .944 OPS? It makes no sense to have a guy who struggles to get on base in the two hole; it didn’t last year, its certainly doesn’t this year. And despite your “funny” remarks about J-Hey being in the six hole is responsible for Prado’s and Uggla’s slow start it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out more runners on for Chipper, Uggla and McCann is a good thing.

Yes i’m frustrated with the Braves offense so far. I look at this line-up and see good hitters, that haven’t hit yet. Now they face the Phils. who have three great pitchers. So i hope the Braves can hit this weekend series.We are playing solid defense and have pitched well. I didn’t think hitting would be a problem, but so far it is. Watching the first seven games has been frustrating. Thanks, Jim


I respect your opinion on baseball, but I have to disagree here.

The Braves trotted out Hinske, Cabrera, and Escobar at the bottom three for a good portion of last year and still remained one of the better offenses in the NL. If you are trying to say this team would score less runs with Heyward batting second, that just can’t be true, and if you dug a little deeper you would realize that, I believe.

I’d prefer the following lineup:

I honestly like McLouth in the #2 spot. I think it is not a stretch to say his season last year was an outliear. So if you remove those numbers his OBP is actually fairly similar to Prado’s. If Heyward were to move up, I think it should just be in the #4 hole and just move Mac down to 6th. If the total lineup gets an overhaul i honestly would go with this:

McLouth 8
Prado 7
Heyward 9
Uggla 4
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Gonzalez 6
Freeman 3

I think Nate’s hot start in spring training was the outlier; the layer we’re seeing now is the same guy we have seen for a season and half now. Except for a few streaks he has not even been close to being the player he was Pittsburgh since putting on a Braves uni.

“Thus I don’t think Fredi Gonzalez has any other choice than to leave the veteran centerfielder in the two hole with the hope that he will take advantage of the array of fastballs he’ll get sitting behind Chipper Jones.”

This passage makes no sense. Why would McLouth see more fastballs because of Chipper? Chipper is no longer the kind of hitter that inspires fear in a pitcher. Pretending he is only makes matters worse for Braves in the long run. For that matter, isn’t McClouth sitting IN FRONT of Jones?

What is entirely wrong with a lineup of…


Fredi said he wanted to give Uggla protection, well there you go. Not that hard. Yeah both AGon and McLouth are out machines, so does it really matter who hits 6th or 7th? Not really. Bite the bullet, quit being stubborn, and make the move. Being arm chair managers doesn’t make us wrong.

Heyward is more of a waste at #2 than at #6. You’re all idiots. Anyone who knows baseball knows that run producers should hit with runners on base. Heyward is a run producer and will be an RBI machine. If anything… Chipper should be the #2 hitter because he’s a gap/single’s hitter that walks a lot. He would set the table properly for the meat of the order. Only fools would waste RBI hitters batting second. None of you know baseball. Mark is right on.

your great i love your coment i think the same

Alright, I am starting the lobby AGAIN for a new 3rd base coach. That was PATHETIC! I could have scored on that base hit by McCann and I am 52!

Great opening night for Teheran at Gwinnett – 5 and 2/3 – 2 hits, 3 Ks – 1 run.

Solid post, Bravo. Nice to see a familiar face in this crowd of noobs. You took every word out of my mouth. I’m also loving “the best rotation ever”‘s 6.19 ERA so far this season. :p

Thanks Brandon. Gotta put them in their place! McClouth is riding a 6 game hitting streak and had a great game tonight. Ryan King – are you sure your name is not Ray King? You bring as much value to this thread as he did to our bullpen. How do you like Mark’s “smart ass” article now?
Barry – I agree with you about Snitker. Chipper got a great jump and he almost blew out his knee again slamming on the brakes for Snitker’s stop sign.
Great game tonight! A game we would have caved in previous years. Great way to open the Ted! Kimbrel/Venters combo is unhittable. Chipper is swinging like he did in 2008 and Heyward with a healthy thumb is going to be a force. I would like to see Uggla be a little more consistent… but I am stretching for complaints. Loved what I saw tonight. Freddie had a big game defensively and had a nice hit too!

Braves starters have given up 18 runs in 8 games. Filthies “best rotation ever” has given up 25 in 7 games. It’s early, but I like where this is going. That puts us up a run through 6 with Venters and Kimbrell on the way. There are a lot of wins in that formula.

But who is in first place and who is at .500? So far this year is just an extension of last year as far as Las Bravas having either feast or famine on offense and the Phillies producing runs. The exception this year is that the Phillies winning has not depended on the long ball to produce runs. The Phillies were 4-1 the first time through the rotation. Las Bravas fans, enjoy this series because it is the closest to a World Series you will have this year.

Come on guys. Heyward has to hit 3. I know this is Chippers spot, but Heyward is the man. We all know the future is Heyward at 3, well, I say the future is here. Go for heyward at 3 and chipper at 5 or 6.

Mark is right on here by the way. McClouth should stay at 2, and then if he is still being horrible at the end of april then we should move him down or move him out.

Switch McCann and Heyward around in the 4 and 6 spots, otherwise leave the lineup alone for now IMO. Bravo is right about the two hole, Heyward would be a waste there.

My wireless was down for 2 days, so I missed all this mindless chatter. It’s nice to see that Bravo and Branduh have formed a beautiful new relationship. I hear that that may be legal in some states now. McLouth looks exactly like the sub-Mendoza Mac that has stumbled around the outfield for the last few years. I mean if your gonna have a guy who can’t hit in CF at least have a guy who can play defense. right now Young is a better option out there than Mc, at least he can catch and throw. Let’s face it, he ain’t a no 2 hitter and likely never will be.

I agree with Matt Young in center. I know that McLouth has more power potential but he has a horrible arm, and I have yet to see enough speed to warrant a starting position for a .200 hitter.

At least we learned who NOT to use in our bullpen today. Valuable lesson indeed. Bill – Glad to hear you were able to get wireless in the trailer. And I actually agree with you. I don’t think McClouth is a typical #2 hitter… but I think we can agree Heyward is not either. For different reasons.

Marek + Asencio >>>>>>> Sherill + Linebrink. I don’t know who introduced the often disproved myth into the Braves org. that veterans somehow provide a stability that younger better players do not, but whomever it was he should be horsewhipped. Winning creates stability. Better players generate wins. How about vets Anderson, Cabrera, Farnsworth, Glaus, Ankiel, Church, Norton and Kawakami? How did all that vet presence work out? This team has plenty of veterans. Some of these younger bullpen guys are a lot better pitchers than those 2 stooges at this point. And don’t tell me that we need another lefty in the BP. Let’s look at our SP. No LHP = better rotation.

Oh and Bravo, I hook my USB up to a coat hanger and it comes in at 12 Mbps now. Thanks.

Wagner and Saito are two completely different beasts than Sherrill and Linebrink. Even if those guys turn it around and have great seasons, it is probably best to go with a young bullpen at this point. Maybe if Asencio changes his name to Arthur Rhodes he could find a spot in the bullpen.

How long are we going to stick with no speed, no power, .260 hitter chipper jones in the number 3 spot. We need heyward there and chipper at 6 now!

Sorry to hear your neighbors finally secured their network Bill. And once again, Bravo took the words out of my mouth. I think Linebrink is on a shorter leash than Sherill. Sherill is still showing the ability to be a LOOGY.

he bravo i agree the lineup should stay the same

BRAVES NEW LINEUP should be 1. McLouth 2. Prado 3. Jones 4. Uggla 5. Gonzalez 6. McCann 7. Heyward 8. Freeman 9. Pitcher Here is why. Prado gets alot of extra base hits. If Mc Louth is on base great if not he could still be in scoring position. Increased production. Uggla protecting Jones is more of a fear factor than McCann. Teams will have to pitch to Jones more because of the power threat of Uggla no matter what his avg is. With McCann, they can pitch to induce a Double Play as he is a slow runner. For example, with one or two men on base, Uggla’s power can turn a game instantly. Even though McCann has power, and a better avg he would be better suited in the sixth hole. Bat Gonzalez fifth and now you have back to back contact hitters behind Uggla. Following McCann is Heyward. This gives the braves another big run possibility as McCann has one of the best bats in the lineup and his speed wont be as much of a factor in front of Heyward and Freeman who I feel will benefit from watching Heyward in front of him and who doesn’t want to save their buddy a bat or drive their buddy home. I feel McCann will do just as well batting sixth as he would fourth. I feel this lineup will increase run production 2-3 runs per game. Do this and I would love to be the Braves guest at the world series!

McLouth got a hit! McLouth got a hit! AKA Asencio pitched 2 hitless frames at Gwinnett. Yeah Brandy, Sherill looks great has his ERA up to 10.80 from a lovely 6.59 last year.

Oh no, 1.1 innings into the year, hit the panic button!

Hey Bill, who do you have for the AL East? I like the Orioles. I mean, c’mon, it’s April 10th and they’re already playing so well! October is just in sight.

Also, let me attempt one of your infamous puns here, Billretard, McLouth has hit safely in 7 of the 9 games he’s played in.

Also, what does a USB connection have to do with your internet signal?

Random though; where did all of these people come from? It’s like NC left and 16 random people took his place.

Ok, so let me get this straight Brandy, you think McLouth is doing fine because he’s gotten 7 hits and is batting .229 with a .289 OBP?????? he has 1 multihit game, has 2 extra base hits(doubles) and has an OPS of .575. And I’m not even basing my opinion on his stats. Any simpleton can look at that diseased swing and see why he is struggling. Got a hitch in that swing that is like a post in Deadwood.
As to why a USB port is related to a wireless signal, 1) it was a joke, you know, kind of like people used to put coat hangers in their TV antenna(zinging over your head) and 2) my wireless antenna ACTUALLY comes in via a USB port. Any other life lessons you need explained today sonny?

Ok, so let’s set the record straight, Billybob, and I’ll try to do so as efficiently as possible, because the argument you presented blows my mind on account of how flimsy and non existent it actually is;

A) I never said McLouth was doing fine. I was simply showing how lame your smartass comment towards McLouth really was. Why don’t you spend less time bitching, and a little more paying attention. McLouths OBP is the exact same as Gonzalez and Prado. As in Prado, the LEADOFF HITTER. His batting average is higher than rookie sensation Freddie Freeman, and the $52MM man Dan Uggla. [DISCLAIMER: To any intelligent readers, I am not trashing these players, because I’m not Bill, and I realize batting averages mean next to nothing on April 11th, and championships are not won in April.] The team is playing bad, period. So until you’re out winning games for them, don’t criticize one player for a team effort, or lack there of.

B) Jokes are supposed to be funny. And if your analogy was correct, wouldn’t you put the antenna next to the coat hanger? And really, you use USB network card. No wonder it was down. The guys next door must have found where you pared your single wide in the woods and simply put a piece of sheet metal in front of it. (This was just mindless babble, but I think it’s justified; that’s what 98% of your posts are.

McLouth is really bad. Lets be honest. He is batting just above .200 and each of his hits has been lucky. He hasnt hit the ball with authority all season.

He is the new franceour/Kelly….people like me and bill were calling for them to go 12 months before they did. Bobby and braves stuck with them for far too long and it cost the braves at least 1 shot at the post season.

I would give McLouth till may 1st and then I would get rid of him unless his OBP% is at least .350.

Why cant we just sit him down and give Young the start in CF? And why is Freeman hitting againist lefties why not bring up Mather and use him as a bench player and why didnt he make the team out of spring trainning?

I mean just let him go and go after someone else like Lasting MIllegde or someone I mean if he ain’t producing send him down or just get rid of him. I bet there are 6 guys in AAA that can probally be better then Mclouth.

McLouth isnt the problem right now. Our lineup is all messed up and uggla hasnt done anything
This would be my lineup

Freeman/Canverious at gwinnett its time to get this guy on the roster and give him some playing time, he can hit

CARNIZARES has been released. I believe he went to Japan.

I meant Cañizares.

McLouth has speed, but he doesn’t use it enough. He has some power, but doesn’t hit consistently enough. He has no arm, and knows it.
I’m all for giving the kid a shot to earn his keep and I know it’s early in the season, but I wonder how short of a leash Freddie will keep with him. Freddie said he fills out the lineup at the first of the season and the guys will determine it for the remainder. I can’t see McLouth remaining in the 2 hole come May if he continues his current production. The kid obviously does not have the mental makeup to start consistently in the big leagues. He admittantly said he fell into old habits to start the season, even though he had an encouraging and successful spring. The McLouth and Kawakami deals are sucking money from our already tight payroll. When you have to be frugal with your spendings, you cannot make bad investments. It’s time to sell on these guys.

The only thing I am wondering about is the Phillies ability to go wire to wire. I am encouraged by the Phillies 107 hits in their first 9 games. One hit shy of a 12 hit per game average.

Some players just arent cut out to play for the “big clubs” with lots of fans, media focus and and expectation to win. In the national league the braves are a club that probably most “expects” to win over the last 20 years.

McLotuh is probably one of these guys. I bet if he went back to pittsburgh or another team where there is no pressure to suceed then he would put up good numbers again.

The best thing to do now I beleive is to hit the pitcher 8th, nate 9th and move j hey to the 2 hole.

I don’t know if changing around the lineup to a great degree such as switching 8/9 hole will make a great difference. But we can’t have a guy struggling with the bat hitting between Prado and Chipper. Especially if that player does not move over runners. However, it is still early. But going off past history, I just do not see Nate being able to pull himself out of the funk.
As for those purposing Jason hitting second, I wonder if those people are the same who wanted him hitting lower in the lineup last year.
If it were up to me I would put out the following lineup. Nate’s speed at the bottom of the lineup could set us up with the occassional opportunity to have our pitcher bunt him into scoring position with Prado hitting. If Nate keeps struggling, just plug Young into CF and he could probably serve the same capacity.

Prado – best player on the field, has done well at leadoff
Chipper – veteran at bats, hitting the ball well so far
Heyward – Patient hitter, aggressive baserunner.
McCann – Probably best overall hitter on the team
Uggla – Greatest power potential on team
Freeman – Give the rook a little protection, see what occurs
Gonzalez – 2B/HR or bust
McLouth/Young – speed could come in handy at the bottom of the order, no pressure

Speedy has the best idea, but we all know Chipper won’t be dethroned from his 3 spot until DL time.

For those of you paying attention, Yuni is batting .476 with a ridiculous OPS of 1.365 and a game winning homer. Bet nobody in THAT dugout thinks he is a “cancer”. Sure would be nice to have him in the 2 hole right now.

Agreed that we will miss Esky’s abilities. There’s no doubt just how talented he is. But if the whole team is distracted by his antics, then maybe it was the best thing….

The problem isn’t McClouth hitting 2nd. It’s that Chipper ISN’T hitting 2nd. He doesn’t have the power anymore to be the No. 3 hitter. And he gets on base more than any other Brave. He needs to be the No. 2 hitter. Then either slide Heyward into the 3 hole (preferable) or slide everyone else up (McCann, Uggla, Heyward). My lineup would be:


Of course, we all know Chipper will have to have the 3 spot pried from his dead, retired hands before he gives it up.

I also think Chipper would be a good fit in the 2 hole at this point in his career. It has been 3 full seasons since he hit more than 4 HRs in a calendar month. It would be very difficult to find another 3 hole hitter on a contending team with a similar lack of production. The other teams are very aware of this now, and his walk totals have been on a steady decline. I hope the warmer weather of summer will bring a power surge, but there is no recent history to look to for support. It is early and there is no reason to panic unless you are a Red Sox fan, but a shuffling of the line up is rapidly approaching. If you add up all the ABs of every player not in the Great Eight, they are 2 for 40. It is hard to win consistently with supporting cast production like that. That is about a third of what is expected out of just the pitchers. It’s time to step it up a little bit fellas.

Escobar will be a Yankee or a Phillie by 2013. Write it down.

Nobody doubts esco has the potential to be one of the top shortstops in the game. But the braves had to offload him. Anyway, seems like a consensus that chipper should be moved out of the 3 spot. Could it happen?

Truthfully? Right now Chipper only moves if Chipper asks to move from the 3 hole. Freddi will not pull that trigger this early in his Braves career.

Why not move freeman up to the 2nd hole bc it looks like might become a power hitter yet like heyward so move him up to 2nd and move mclouth to the 9th spot

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