Offensive woes are mounting at a disturbing rate

If you’re one of the Braves’ fans who opted to go to bed before rain delayed last night’s fifth inning from starting until 10:50 p.m. ET, you really didn’t miss much.  The Braves produced just one more hit over the final five innings of the 4-0 loss to Mets.

Those of you who watched the first four innings probably don’t need to be reminded that they also recorded just one hit in the first four innings against Dillon Gee, who has allowed just one earned run in the 16 2/3 innings completed against the Braves this year.

With this sixth shutout loss of the season, the Braves were limited to two hits for the fourth time this season. To put this in perspective, they  were limited to two hits or fewer a total of five times during the 2009 and 2010 seasons combined.

The Braves’ offense showed some sign of life this past weekend when they scored at least four runs in each of their first three games against the Astros.  This marked the first time they had scored at least four runs in three consecutive games since May 14.  National League teams are averaging 4.1 runs per game this year.

This sudden sign of offense is not what cause the Astros to fire their highly-regarded pitching coach Brad Arnsberg Tuesday.  But it did seemingly serve only as an cruel tease for Braves fans, who have seen their team lose three straight since winning a sixth consecutive game Sunday.

Had Jordan Schafer not hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning of Monday’s 8-3 loss to the Astros, the Braves might be entering tonight’s series finale against the Mets  having been blanked in two of their previous three games.

Instead, they enter tonight’s series finale against R.A. Dickey hoping to end their frustrations against the Mets.  Simply saying that the Braves have lost four straight against the Mets only tells a portion of the story.

The Braves have scored more than run through first seven innings of just one of the five games played against the Mets this month.  But obviously for more than a month, the Mets’ pitchers aren’t the only ones who have been causing the Braves fits.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes has recorded nine hits in the five games he has played against the Braves dating back to June 3.  The Braves have just three players   —  Freddie Freeman (11), Alex Gonzalez (11) and Chipper Jones (10) —  who have recorded more than eight hits in the 12 games they have played during this same span.

Reyes is one of those unique true leadoff hitters that Jordan Schafer would like to become.  Schafer created a lot of initial excitement.  But through the small sample size of the 19 games he has played, the athletic centerfielder hasn’t exactly been a consistent catalyst.  He is hitting .211 with a .294 on-base percentage.

It will be interesting to see if Schafer attempts to bunt with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on the mound tonight.  Dickey has made three starts since injuring his right heel on May 26.

Schafer didn’t attempt to bunt against Dickey on June 5.  But that was just two days after a fouled bunt attempt had struck the right side of his face.

Speaking of Schafer, Nate McLouth will begin his Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett tonight.  Brandon Beachy will also be beginning his rehab assignment while starting for Gwinnett tonight.  The rookie hurler, who has been sidelined since May 13 with a strained left oblique muscle, will start again for Gwinnett Tuesday night.

McLouth, who has been sidelined since May 22 with an oblique strain, will likely two or three games before being activated.   When he returns, he’ll likely play left field until Martin Prado recovers from his staph infection.

When Prado is deemed healthy enough to return, it will be interesting to see if McLouth returns to his starting duties in center field.  If  Schafer spends the next couple weeks proving he can be a legit leadoff hitter, then the Braves have to keep him in the lineup.  If he falters, McLouth could definitely regain his job.

That’s enough doom and gloom for today.   We’ll attempt to add to your frustration tomorrow when we focus on Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison, who will all be coming to town this weekend for the first time since being shipped to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira.

67 Comments

This is a dangerous period for the Braves. They need to play at least 500 ball until the allstar break, and then with everyone healthy, or getting healthy go on from there. It will be interesting to see what Decisions Fredi makes regarding personnel and placement of personnel once McClouth and Beachy return. I have enjoyed watching Chipper in the 4 spot. Can we keep him there and make one more tweak? Batting order as follows: Schafer CF, Prado LF , Heyward RF, Chipper 3B, McCann C, Gonzalez SS, Freeman 1B, Uggla 2B. That offense should produce.

I like the look of that lineup. Why not have Chipper bat 2nd, Prado 3rd, and Heyward 4th, though? What good does it do hitting Chipper 4th? (This is a legit question, if you have an answer then please share it). What Chipper does best nowadays walk. He also knows how to work a count into his favor obviously. He is a great situational hitter still, know how to get a runner over if need be with 2 strikes, knows how to hit to opposite field. We know he isn’t a speed demon, but no one is on this team. It’s not like we’re losing speed by hitting him 2nd. And, since you’re a stats guy, I’d hope you wouldn’t dare bring up how we wouldn’t be able to sac bunt if the leadoff guy got on, because Chipper isn’t bunting, because we probably both agree how useless the sac bunt is. Especially if Jordan is on first anyhow, the guy can swipe 2nd if we need him there. Imagine Jordan getting a hit to leadoff an inning, and how Chipper bring up to bat next could set the table for the entire hitting, with real power potential coming up after him. Gimme your thoughts.

I agree. I would put chipper 2nd or 6th. Prado could go 3 good idea. Then McCann 4 and uggla 5. Maybe heyward 5 vs rhp, or if chipper is out then put heyward 2nd.

Chipper answered that for you tonight. ’nuff said.

Oh come on. Chipper answered it for me? Don’t abuse small sample size stats for your favor. I just want to know why you believe he is more of an asset in the 4 hole. Do you not believe the 2 hole would be more suitable?

Cliff Lee 110 pitches in 3-0 complete game victory over Marlins. Is this a lack of confidence in the bullpen or what?

No papa, why would we hit chipper 4th. He has no power, no speed and hits .260. He should be second for his obp or 6th out of the way. I agree with Mark. If scahfer stays above .220 and gets some walks, steals some bases and plays good D then I would keep him in CF. I suspect schafer’s average will drop below .200 and we will see nate in cf when prado comes back though. I hope I am wrong and schafer does well though

Zidane, please explain to me why you think Nate will take over Jordan’s position?? It’s not as if Nate was hitting well when he was injured. Plus, if Nate plays CF, who will bat leadoff? Certainly not McLouth. McLouth is best suited as a 4th OF at this point until he proves differently.

I say we put all the names in a hat and draw. Talk about power and OBP all you want, but they are not stringing hits together to produce runs and it is killing us. Mix it up, pull Uggla and stick him in A, AA, or AAA as a show that $$$ needs to equal hits or you can play your days in Little League till we dump this contract. If this turns into another KK fiasco I will have had it with ATL Brass.

I think we should trade JJ as soon as beachy comes back. Sell high on the guy. We should trade him for some top notch prospects, I dont think we need to trade him for a big bat. But we should trade him for 2/3 future big bats. If we can do that, then I think we will have an amazing team in 2013 when we get rid of lowe, kk and chippers contract

I agree trading a starting pitcher may be a good idea…but i’m not sure JJ is the best option. But you are correct, he would warrant the highest return at this point. Selling high is great, unless the guy can stay at a premium level for a long time. Imagine if we had traded Maddux, Glavine, or Smoltz after a couple good years.

Reyes is just killing us this series

Cry me a river. Boo, Hoo! Boo, Hoo!

Mark, I haven’t read anything by you or DOB which addresses the fact that the walk rate of almost every single player on the team has gone down. This is either a bizarre team-wide funk or the coaches are still trying to tell the guys to be more aggressive. They are all swinging at everything. Look at the games where we manufacture runs. You will see WALKS in the box score along with hits. Uggla’s K rate is also down, which is the death knell of a power hitter, and is indicative of a lack of patience at the plate.

Nate will probably be in LF when he returns unless Fredi wants to show us all that he really has next to zero knowledge of the game of baseball. Prado is out for the rest of the month at least, from an injury that the Braves training staff DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE. It was the Marlins trainers who noticed the infection. And hopefully Chipper and his father took Heyward out to dinner to clear up the comments that were taken way out of context, and advised “don’t listen to that moron Parrish. You’re a line drive hitter with some of the best plate discipline in the game. DON’T SWING FOR THE FENCES EVERY AT BAT.”

And yes nate should slot into lf. I was just saying is schafer sinks his average below the mendoza line then we have no option but nate. Hopefully nate can be our 4th of once prado is back

Nate doesn’t hit about .200 consistently either…. I would rather Jordan hit .190 and have stellar defense and arm strength compared to a guy that will probably hit .220 max and provide us no range, arm, or SB ability.

Viva, i didn’t realize that our staff didn’t catch the infection. It’s kind of odd that “we didn’t notice it” , but then Florida found it necessary to examine Prado for no reason. It is possible our staff became worried with a wound that would not heal and consulted Florida’s team doctor for a follow up. I could be completely off base, but what other reason would Florida have to examine Prado?
Also, I think until Jason can hit a high fastball he is going to struggle. Once everyone got the report on the up and in fastball, he has dropped off dramatically. I hope the kid figures it out, because he definitely has the physical presense and demeanor to be special.
Lastly, I am not too inclinded to blame Parrish, we hit like crap before he was here as well.

Get you some old timer! Chipper’s not finished yet….

Great swing from chipper. I prefer him at 3 than 4. Heyward should be patient Viva, you are right. So should all the braves, particularly today vs this guy. I really think we could trade JJ because, unlike maddux and glavine, we wont be able to keep him once he is a free agent. Thus, we should trade him now. We could get a bat on a manageable contract now or we could get some hitting prospects. I really hope wren pulls the trigger on moving JJ out.

What do you mean we can’t keep him?? We are going to have Lowe, KK, and Chipper off the books soon….Will it be tough? Yes. But you don’t trade a guy this early just because you might not sign him in a couple years. I don’t think we should consider that unless we fall way behind. JJ is the type of guy that can give us a huge playoff performance in my opinion

Addition by subtraction. We can get rid of JJ and rely on beachy/minor/hansen/hudson/tehran going forward. Then we can finally get some bats in our offense.

Speedy, McLouth will be off at year’s end with his 7 million, too.

That is not addition by subtraction. That is subtraction, with the hopes that it becomes addition. JJ does not take off a Braves uniform unless you get a big time bat for him. Not prospects.

We “hit like crap” before Parrish got here? The offense was top notch last year until Chipper, Prado, and Heyward got hurt, and the team was top 5 in the league in walks.

Also, congrats to Fredi for putting Proctor in a high leverage situation. Nice one.

Until Heyward got hurt? He was hurt in late May/early June wasn’t he???…. Our offense slumbered except for Troy Glaus (one month) and Martin Prado. Prado was our MVP last year, no questions asked. And remember that whole situation where Chipper almost retired because he was doing so poorly. He hit a hot streak before he got hurt. Heck, McCann couldn’t even see to start the season and finally came around. Look elsewhere if you want to blame people for our hitting. Yes, the hitting coach takes criticism, but we haven’t hit well for a while. At least, last year, we found ways to get on base.

Now braves. Just take pitches vs acosta. DOnt swing first pitch

Instead we swing at every pitch vs acosta even though everyone in the stadium knows he cant ever find the strike zone. Why are we so bad.

I suspect schafer’s average will drop below .200

By Zidane on June 16, 2011 7:55 pm

Excellent night by Jordan so far, but I’m not going to get too excited about him hitting a knuckleballer. Doesn’t really prove much about hitting big league pitching in general. That being said, I am 100% behind the guy. He is exactly what this team needs. Just saying we can’t assume he is gonna be a .250+ hitter because he had a good night off of Dickey. I’m looking forward to seeing what the man can do once he gets used to playing every day in the Bigs, though.

This team sucks.

BROOKS!!!!!

Bill’s gonna need to change his sheets after that one.

Oh my, lets send that lousy Conrad kid back to the Minors.

Yeah cause I’m jumping on the bed.

Nothing really left in the bullpen for extras. Martinez threw 3 innings last night and Scott Linedrive throws beach balls. Was really hopping we would end it in the 9th.

Eric O’ is our one reliable arm.

Brooks stays in as a late inning defensive replacement. That should get the haters, chattering.

Had to do it, as Chipper left the game. Double switch had to take the last out out of the game – that was Uggla. Would rather have Brooksy available for another potential AB anyway.

Does Larry Parrish do anything, or is Pendleton still coaching these awesome bats? I haven’t heard a word about him and the offense seems as poor as the past two years.

Guess Mama put the 12 yr olds to bed. Way to go Braves.

Walk off balk. We’ll take it lol.

Stop the presses, Brooks Conrad is now the starting 2B for the Braves, I see a Gold Glove and .350/35/125/.450 line in his future. Brooks is so good he could bat leadoff and cleanup AT THE SAME TIME.. Brooks Conrad is the reason the Braves have a winning record. Brooks Conrad felt bad for the Giants and gave them the World Series. Brooks Conrad is so good, he intentionally bats .200 until he is called upon to save the monthly game against a sub .500 team that we should already beat. Back on Earth, Brooks Conrad MIGHT have a better WAR than McLouth now. MIGHT.

All kidding aside, I for one would LOVE to see Brooks’ stats from the 7th inning on. No one better in the clutch than Brooksy.

O’Flaherty probably wasn’t available because Fredi used him in a garbage situation last night, in the 9th down by 4 runs. Brilliant use of the bullpen.

That was because the usual whipping boys had been used 3 games in a row. O’Flaherty had been off since the 12th.

Radio post game reported that O’Flaherty was not available due to back stiffness.

ok Barry, I’m feeling especially buoyant tonight so here you go(don’t expect this to be a regular thing). The lines of the slash are BA/OBP/SLG/OPS.
Brooks- 2011- Inn. 7-9 .292 .433 .375 .808(the year Brooks should be sent down)
Brooks -Career – Inn.7-9 .250 .329 .515 .844
and interestingly
Brooks Career Inn. 1-3 .283 .346 .478 .824

What is also amazing is this one. Brooks has 30 RBI’s in 136 AB. That would be 137 RBI’s in a standard 625 AB season.

In a perfect season where you are never injured and there are absolutely no variables, sure. If you want to disregard all human element(you know, the one that made Brooks Conrad make what, like, 8 errors in 6 games at 2 positions) and let a fantasy prophetic multiplication problem map out the way a guy plays baseball, then you really are just as big of an idiot as we all know you are. Also, you really should stop trying so hard to impress us with the 4th grade math you learned right before you dropped out of grade school to work on the farm. It just makes it more fun for us.

No little Brandie. that’s the standard that BR uses to look at players who aren’t starters. Geez everyone knows that. Oh and meeooowwww on all those clever put downs. Please, there is no crying in baseball.

Oh and for everyone that thinks Brooks is just a late inning guy here is his extra inning line.

Ext Inn. .077 .077 .308 .385

Funny huh?

So, Bill, I have to ask the question: Are you saying your boy Brooks, should be playing in front of your boy Danny>?

He doesn’t know. He needs Baseball Reference to tell him. 14.4 lifetime WAR or a 1.0 lifetime WAR. Below league average defense or playoff crippling defense. Hard to tell. You know what, lets just release Chipper and give Brooks the job.

Mark says: Schafer has 1st Braves 5 hit game since Mark Kotsay on 8/14/2008 — the night he hit for the cycle.

I thought bill said he was leaving this blog?

Nope, he’s back to babble some more about how Brooks Conrad is our Lord and Savior. He’s also believing everything Baseball Reference’s math tells him. He should also look and see that Brooks only tallied a 0.7 WAR(wins above replacement level, for those who don’t know) according to Baseball Reference last year. So he didn’t even earn a full will for the team last year(even though he was clutch many more times than this year), but yet the the chosen one who should start every game because he is the best player EVAR. Hope an 0.7 is enough to beat the Phillies.

Well done brooks though. Needed that win badly. Hopefully we can take the next series and get a good run going again.

Only in Atlanta does it take such Herculean efforts to attain Pyrrhic victories

Chipper did oke last night too lets not forget. Just because he isnt one of bill’s boys doesnt mean we should forget his big night

Zidane, have you checked out that ERA thingy lately? According to it, which is the best pitching staff in MLB? Oh and for your edification, it has been about 10 straight starts where the Phillies’ starting pitcher has gone at least 7 innings.

Lets not criticise brooks just because he is one of bill’s boys and bill defends him irrationally. Brooks is what he is. He is a great guy to have on the bench to pinch hit late in the game. Nobody denies this. However, I argue his defence is too bad to justify his spot on the roster. Particularly when we have hinske as a pinch hitter already. If everyone is fit and healthy conrad would be number 26 on my roster, and so should be sent down. With chipper needing regular days off, and other players looking injury prone, we need people who can play in games and not just pinch hit. Anyway, like I said – good win for the braves last night. Hopefully we can take 2 out of 3 from the rangers.

Let the rumor mill begin: From MLB Trade Rumors – “The Braves are “aggressively positioning themselves to deal for an outfield bat as soon as they can find a team ready to open its sell-off shop for business,” writes Stark, and they’ve already checked in on Josh Willingham and Hunter Pence. We outlined potentially available power bats earlier this month.”

If the HP we saw in Houston was an audition, he certainly passed with flying colors.

Schafer, Pence and JHey in the outfield. That would be strong. We have to figure out how to work Prado back into the infield. Give Uggla a chance to straighten his swing out, and replace the aging one when his weekly malady strikes.

Josh Willingham – a few bushels of peaches.
Hunter Pence – an orchard or six.

Hunter would be a great fit.

I have absolutely no desire to see willingham in a braves jersey. However, Pence would be a good pickup but at what price…

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