Looking back on another ugly night

With his team having blown four-run leads in two of the past three games, Fredi Gonzalez has taken a lot of heat over the past couple of days.  When he was dropping clothes off at the dry cleaner on Monday, a fan yelled toward him and asked what had happened on Sunday.

Hopefully, Gonzalez did not need to have any clothes laundered this morning.

It was hard to understand Gonzalez’s decision to bring Livan Hernandez in to a three-run game on Sunday with the bases loaded and one out.   Even that imposter that crashed this past weekend’s alumni activities can occasionally put a 66-mph spinner in play every once in a while.  Then to add to the disastrous turn of events we’ve witnessed the past three days, there was the decision to bring Cory Gearrin in to turn the switch-hitting Nick Swisher to the left side of the plate last night.

If that imposter knows how to hold a bat from the left side of the plate…

OK, we won’t go there.  But the knock against Gearrin has always been that he can’t get left-handers out.  Sure he improved his changeup and showed some improvement as left-handed hitters batted .236 (13-for-55) against him this year at the Minor League level.  But this is not the International League and left-handed hitters had accounted for two of the four hits he had allowed while working just two innings the night before.

But with Eric O’Flaherty unavailable last night, Gearrin stood as one of Gonzalez’s few options once it was apparent Jonny Venters’ disastrous eighth inning appearance might actually get worse.  He certainly was not going to turn to Hernandez again and with the game tied and the pitchers spot due up third in the bottom of the inning, they had to keep Cristhian Martinez ready to potentially make a multi-inning appearance.

Those of you who were calling for Craig Kimbrel to enter to record five outs, his only multi-inning appearance as a closer was created only because he was unable to hold a ninth-inning lead against the Dodgers on April 21, 2012.

Plus there obviously was not any reason for Kimbrel to know that he should begin warming up as soon as Venters entered the field. In other words, he was not going to be ready before Alex Rodriguez drilled his game-tying grand slam off of Venters.

Have to think even Ron Burgundy would say that eighth inning “escalated quickly.”   Click here to get an idea of what A-Rod, Swisher and the rest of the Yankees thought of the inning.

While it’s easy to spew venom in the direction of bullpen management, the Braves have every reason to be more concerned about O’Flaherty’s elbow and the extended struggles Venters has experienced.

Before going any further, I’ll say that I would have also pulled Mike Minor  and inserted Venters after the Yankees put a runner on base with one out in the eighth. Sure, you could have stuck with Minor one more batter. But it seemed to make more sense to go with Venters, who had allowed one hit in his previous five appearances.

Unfortunately, Venters pitched more like he had in May, when he surrendered three home runs and allowed opponents a .500 on-base percentage.  The game-tying  grand slam the left-hander surrendered Rodriguez was the fourth home run he has allowed in his past 12 2/3 innings.  He had allowed a total of three home runs in the 182 1/3 innings he had compiled during this stretch.

Venters allowed a home run to Mark DeRosa in his first exhibition appearance this season and then recorded three strikeouts without being damaged by as much as a foul tip in his next appearance.  The most concerning development in March might have been the discomfort he experienced around his biceps muscle near that latter part of the month.

While saying he has felt strong throughout this season, Venters simply has not generated groundballs with the same incredible frequency he had the previous two years.

Here are some numbers via Baseball-Reference.com:

Venters’ Groundball/Flyball Ratio

2010: 2.17

2011: 2.71

2012: 1.27

The balls hit in the air this year against Venters are also much more costly (numbers here are different than those seen on Twitter this afternoon.  Difference between the way Fangraphs and B-Ref equate HR/FB percentage)

Venters’ HR/Flyball percentages

2010: 1.7

2011: 3.8

2012: 13.8

There is no doubt the HR/FB ratio will drop from this high level.  But it will be interesting to see if Venters is able to start inducing groundballs as frequently as he did in the past.

Check back this afternoon for updates on O’Flaherty’s elbow and the plan for Kris Medlen, who could soon return to Atlanta as a starter or a reliever.  If the Braves make a move today, I would think they will send Gearrin back to Gwinnett.  Anthony Varvaro would be a candidate for a promotion.




One thing Fredi did that nobody has talked about that I’ve seen is this: He removed Diaz an inning too early for defense. In the seventh, instead of having Diaz up with the bases loaded and one out, he had Hayward hitting against the lefty. Bad move, obviously, or he would have started Hayward in the first place. Game could have been busted open at that time but Braves got only one run.

Venters could not even throw the baseball far enough to get it across the plate it was awful to watch. not sure I will watch today feel like I will be wasting my time.

Why not release Livan rather than sending Gearrin back to AAA? Cory can at least be used as a ROOGY until when/if Moylan is back. Release Livan and call up Medlen. The BP is immediately stronger.

What is Livan Hernandez doing on this team? And does Venters have an option left? Regardless, he should not be pitching with the game on the line. Venters problems did not just start, they have been around for a while.

Perhaps I need a vacation from this team. It is becoming too upsetting to watch with one questionable decision after another. Wren’s and Gonzalez’s roster decisions, and pitcher change decisions leave a lot to be desired, and it leaves me frustrated. A change in management is what we really need.

When does a professional have to stake his job on now rather than last year? If I don’t carry my weight at my job, do you think I’ll get a break based on last year’s results? Not a chance. I’d be looking for employment. It’s a shame, but I doubt if any teams respect the Braves pen this year, unless we get it to the ninth with a lead. Which by the way, is not happening nearly enough.

Our Bullpen looks like the car in ones of the cop chase videos. It has already run over the spike strip and it was just a matter of time before it crashed into something. Anyone who defended Frank Wren for staffing his bullpen out of players cast off by mediocre clubs, needs to be horse whipped. And Fredo, don’t even get me started. He is to bullpen management as vodka is to stock car racing. Not even the biggest idiot would try that.

On the drive home from work, I was listening to the broadcast, and I think even Don Sutton is trying to send a message to Wren. He stated, and I quote, “Francisco here… he’s a bit of a free swinger… he’s been up ninety-nine times, and has struck out thirty-one of em… and has only walked three times all year….” 10 seconds of silence followed this.

It’s called let’s go get a fat Free Agent. Francisco(I mean we gave up JJ Hoover who is now sporting a 2.87 ERA in 15 appearances for Cincy and we got Fat Francisco’s ass, nice Qtip)Hernandez(throws a 31 MPH spinner, that my dog could hit), Durbin( He buys the Pizza Rolls) and Hinske(who is batting sub Mendoza since LAST JUNE).Cory gearrin is brought up to lose 2 games and then return to peaceful bliss in the minors I have a feeling that the Braves strength and conditioning coach is the one cooking the pizza rolls in the bullpen during the game. I mean even Venters has fallen into the fat trap. This team has a 23 LOB total for this game. I am so sick of Fredo.

I just read the article that now he’s not sure what he’s gonna do with Medlen. WTF are you thinking?????? You send one of our most reliable BP guys down because he needs a mini ST and now, you aren’t sure? How many games did we lose because Meds was at Gwinnett. Those wins don’t grow on trees you “tip your cap” idiot. Now you aren’t sure? My mother is 90, a dedicated Braves fan, and I’m afraid she is gonna have an aneurysm over how stupid Fredo is. I had to change the subject today. We need a new GM, a new Manager and a new training staff. This isn’t working. We have a lot of the pieces of a really good team, but if you can’t figure out how to use them, the door is over there.

Did you sleep at Holiday Inn last night?

Everyone is talking bullpen management. Isn’t the issue starting pitching management? Minor was just over 90 pitches when he gave up that bleeder in the 8th inning. The lead was still secure. Let him get the next out. Show some confidence in him. Build his confidence for the next time. If he had been sitting at over 100 pitches, I could maybe, MAYBE understand. But the guy was pitching a gem. More than once this year Fredi has removed Delgado too early,and on Sunday it was Tehran who got the early hook with a nice lead. How is it that Fredi has more confidence in this disaster of a bullpen than he does in these strong young arms?

We got a day off… regroup and we’ll try again in Baltimore and NYC. A bit early to enter panic mode with some of you folks… it’s not even the all-star break yet.

We are still doing ok in the league. Lets not get too disheartened by these couple of bad runs.

Yeah, that’s what everyone said when we started our slide last September. This is a fundamental problem. Yes, it is the time to scream and shout.

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