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Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Cox’

The Freddi Gonzalez Debate

Posted by Kris N. on October 20, 2010

I’m a little late to this, as Gonzalez was signed on to be Bobby Cox’s replacement, but the question still stands: Is Freddi Gonzalez going to be a better manager than Bobby Cox? Some Braves fans would tell you the answer is absolutely not, because he won’t command the same respect that Bobby did. Others would say that his constant bunting, pinch  hitting and intentional walks will drive Braves fans alike crazy and cost games. Like Mac Thomason from the always excellent Braves Journal:

“Fredi, it seems to me, has Bobby’s weaknesses with tactical managing (that is, lots of bunts, awkward pinch-hitting decisions that blow an extra player, heavy use of a few relievers) without Bobby’s strengths as a leader of men.”

He also says that Gonzalez “went about .500 with .500-level talent.” Which leaves me to wonder if that is how we should evaluate managers. How good they can make a team over how good they actually are? I’m contempt with that, I guess. I really don’t know what makes a good manager. But that’s always easy enough to graph. We can simply take the team’s expected win – loss record (Based on Bill Jame’s Pythagorean Theorem) and subtract it from the actual winning percentage. Here is the graph:

Very interesting.

Now it should be stated that there is a lot that goes into playing above or below your expected level, primarily dumb luck. Managers can not take credit for that, or blame for that matter. The strongly supported evidence though is, the Marlins weren’t a very good team and, while under Freddi Gonzalez, they marginally won more games. Another thing of note, The Braves never won games at their expected frequency. In fact going back to 2003, we can see a decline in the actual and expected difference:

I’d like to go back further, but I just don’t have the time.

Do I think Freddi Gonzalez is going to be a good manager? Yes.

Do I think they should have taken some time and at least interviewed other people? Definitely, and I’m a little pissed they didn’t. I’m also one to believe that players have more to do with winning and losing than a baseball manager.  That being said, people need to focus on who the Braves Left Fielder for 2011 is going to be, and not whether or not Gonzalez is going to be able to win in the postseason.

Do I realize the irony of writing a 408 word post about Freddi Gonzalez and not candidates for the Braves 2011 Left Fielder? Yes, I do.

Posted in Analysis | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Riddle Me This, Braves Fan

Posted by Kris N. on August 20, 2010

There are a few things I don’t understand about this Braves team and baseball all together:

Why is it when an offense scores a ton of runs, they shut down for the next couple of games?

We see this a lot in baseball, when a team breaks out into double digit runs, they go into a slump. See the Braves this year:

Date Runs Next 2 Games
4/5 16 3 0
5/16 13 2 3
6/10 11 1 3
7/24 10 4 0
8/4 8 3 2
8/11 8 1 1
8/17 10 3 ??

Why does this happen?

Is it merely the cruel law of averages playing itself out? Because the runs per game happens to be 5.1, and the Braves season total is 4.5, kind of close. I think the bigger question is why does it level out in the next 2 games? It’s a mystery.

Why aren’t closers used in the 8th?

Situation:

Top of the 8th at Turner Field, Phillies: 0, Braves: 1. Due up: Victorino, Utley, Howard. Obviously this is a high leverage situation, the Phillies best opportunity for the Phillies to score, and this is Billy Wagner time. At least, it should be. Most likely Johnny Venters will be used in this situation, which isn’t all that bad. Venters is having a better season than Wagner, but not all teams have the most dominating lefty to come out of the bullpen. In fact, the Braves are the only one. However, in other team’s cases, the closer is the best pitcher, and should be used in the highest of leverage situations.

Let’s say in this situation, Wagner gets the Phillies to all strike out and we move to the top of the ninth. The Braves have an opportunity to get some insurance runs once more, but they don’t. Who closes the game? It should be your second best reliever. Yes, top of the ninth with a one run lead is still a high leverage situation, but you’re (theatrically) facing worse hitters. Instead of the two, three, and four spouts, you’re facing the five, six, and seven spots.

The only reason I can come up with as to why you would pitch Wagner in the ninth is because he won’t get a save. I still think it’s a bad one, as the team stats are more important than the individual’s. In this specific case, Wagner is trying to accumulate as many saves before he retires. But let me ask you this, if this were an actual game, say October 1st, 2010, and the division is on the line, would it matter?

No.

The answer is no.

For there to be a save situation in the ninth, you need a scoreless eighth.

Why must the starting pitcher throw 100 pitches?

This is a Bobby rule that drives me crazy. Like last night, why was Lowe allowed to pitch in the seventh? After six semi decent innings, he was at 87 pitches. In hindsight, it didn’t hurt the Braves because he pitched a scoreless frame, but it could have. And it does in this next situation.

August 10, 2010: Braves at Astros, when Brooks Conrad hit the ninth inning homerun. Jair Jurrjens was cruising through 6 innings in a 1 – 0 Braves lead. After a scoreless 7th, he was at 86 pitches, and about to the face Houston lineup for the 4th time. He should have been pulled from the game here. No pitcher should have to face the lineup for the 4th time. But, because JJ has to throw 100 pitches or else his arm falls off, or something ridiculous, he did, and they scored 2 runs.

Reward the pitcher for being so economic by giving him rest. Just because he made it to the 8th inning with 80 pitches, doesn’t mean he needs to pitch more, that’s what a bullpen is for.

The Chicago Cubs?

I just don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense. For someone who thinks that Chicago has the best fans because they love their Cubbies even when they lose and still support them, let me tell you, they don’t. The reason they’re attendance is so good is because Wrigley Field is a hot spot in Chicago. People go there to enjoy the weather, drink beer, talk to friends, and look at girls. It’s essentially a 108,000 square foot outdoor bar, with a couple baseball games here and there.

And it was sure nice of the Cubs to throw Steve Bartman under the bus as an excuse for terrible play in the postseason, rather than owning up like men. No, no, throw your glove and cry Moise Alou.

I might be going to the game today. I want to let Derrek Lee know what real fans are like.

Posted in Analysis, I Hate Everything About The Cubs | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

3 Up, 3 Down.

Posted by jrniemeyer on August 8, 2010

As the calender moves towards mid-August, most baseball fans turn their attention to the pennant races. The Braves have a 2 game lead at the end of play on August 8th which is just enough to be dangerous. Dangerous in the fact that you can’t be comfortable with a 2 game lead but it still puts pressure on the Phillies to perform at a high level. Listed below are 6 reasons the Braves will or will not win the NL East in 2010.

3 Up-

  • Starting Pitching- To put it simply, the Braves starting pitching has allowed the Braves to stay ahead of the pack in the NL East. Last night against the Giants, Tim Hudson pitched his best game of the season. He allowed 3 hits in 8 innings and was as dominant as ever. Tommy Hanson has recently found his groove and only once has he allowed more than 2 ER’s in his past 7 starts.  Three of those games were against current playoff teams(Reds, Giants, Padres). Jair Jurrjens is also pitching well after returning from the DL at the end of June. He has allowed 3  ER’s or less in 5 of his 7 starts. If the Braves are to make the post-season Hudson, Hanson, and Jurrjens are the three horses that will get them there. I’m still not sure where Derek Lowe fits into this equation. His pitching over the past month and a half has been average at best. In his last 7 starts Lowe has made it through the 7th inning only once and has allowed 3+ ER’s four times in that span. If Lowe can pitch to the league average from here on out, I for one, will be thrilled.
  • Turner Field- In the past, Turner Field hasn’t always been the greatest safe haven for the Braves after a long road trip. This year is the complete opposite. To say the Braves have been dominate at home is an understatement. They own the best home record in MLB with a 38-15 home record. They have lost 1 series all season at home and that was early on against the Phillies. As Kris mentions in an earlier post, the Braves have a decent enough schedule left ahead of them. They have 27 more home games and 12 of those are against the Nats and the Marlins. They’ve had trouble with those teams in the past but if they want to win the NL East, they will need to take care of business against the weaker teams.
  • On Base %- The Braves lead the NL in OBP with a .341 clip. They’ve had some recent troubles with hitting with RISP but when you put the most men on base, you’ll tend to leave the most on base. The Braves have 3 players in the top 11 in the NL in OBP. McCann leads the way at .382 with Chipper and Jason right behind him at .379 and .375 respectively.  Their hitting with RISP should turn around and when it does, it should lead the team into October.
  • Bench(Honorable Mention)- Brooks Conrad, Omar Infante, David Ross, and Eric Hinske(or Matt Diaz if Hinske is starting) is the most talented bench in the NL and I’m not sure it’s close. Omar Infante can play almost any position and hits .330 while doing it. David Ross would be starting for 1/2 of the NL if given the chance and plays the roll of backup catcher to perfection. When it comes to Brooks Conrad, I’m not sure what he does great but he does just about everything well(not to mention 2 PH grand slams). Only on this Braves team can you lose an All-Star 2nd baseman and plug in an All-Star utility man(whether he should have been an All-Star is an argument for another day).

3 Down-

  • Defense- The Braves have committed 79 errors this season which is 10 more than league average but within those 79 errors are way to many un-earned runs. The Braves have allowed 34 un-earned runs this season and some of those have cost the Braves a win. Consecutive errors by Alex Gonzalez and Chipper Jones cost the Braves the game against the Giants on Friday. Another hole in this DEF is Brian McCann especially when his battery mate is Tommy Hanson. Tommy has an extremely long and slow delivery to the plate and has allowed the most SB’s in the NL with 22. He really needs to come up with a quick step or a slide step to help limit the damage.
  • Bobby Cox- Before everyone jumps down my throat and asks how I could possibly put a legend of the game in the “3 Down section, hear me out. Bobby Cox may be the best manager in the history of the game at getting the most out of his players. Every single player talks about how hard they want to play for Bobby and how he treats them like men. On the opposite side of the coin he is, at best, an average in-game strategist. He tends to leave his guys out there about two hitters too long and will rely on one player to get him out of a jam(it happens to be Jonny Venters this year). Bobby is clearly not stupid but I’m not sure he realizes that when the heart of the opposing teams lineup sees an average pitcher for the third time their average sky-rockets. If there was a knock on the 90’s run, it was the fact that Bobby would often get out managed. Let us hope that trend doesn’t continue this year.
  • Age- In my last post, I mentioned how much age played on a factor for this team. I’m not confident that it’s a positive factor. They depend largely on Glaus, Heyward, and Chipper for offense and while that may seem ok, their ages can lead to problems. In general, players don’t talk about retirement and sign 1-2 year contracts because they are consistent at the plate. If Glaus and Chipper can get things going at a consistent pace, it’ll be a huge boost for a team starving for offensive consistency. Heyward should be fine but he’s only 20. I’ve never met a 20 year old in my life that does anything consistently. As long as the Braves don’t put the full brunt of the offense on Heyward, they’ll be just fine. I’m not so worried about the starting pitching but it certainly has some age issues of itself. Like I mentioned before, it’s very hard to get consistent production from a staff who has no starters in the 25-34 age range.

Like most things in life, if you can limit your down moments and capitalize on your up moments you will do well. The Atlanta Braves are no different.

Posted in Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »