Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Greatest of These is Pitching

The old adage says baseball is made up of pitching, hitting, and defense. If your team is good at any two they can win. Do all three and you’re unbeatable.
Despite Andrelton and Heyward, the Braves defense is sub-par. Neither Upton brother is a good defender. Gattis is a serviceable catcher, but Laird is showing his age. Hhe should be better than Gattis, but isn’t. I wonder if Freddie Freeman’s eyes sometime betray him on defense – he isn’t making as many great plays as he used to. LaStella has been an upgrade at second base.

Pitching has actually been the best part of the Braves season. The offense has been much worse – streaky at best – yet they’re only a game out of first place. Any NL East team that heats up can win the division. The Marlins don’t have the pitching to maintain their current pace. The Nationals have been worse than the Braves. The Dodgers are struggling, so the Cardinals are the team to beat. If the Braves heat up they could wreak some havoc in the playoffs.     

Fielding, Hitting, and Pitching, these three. But the greatest of these is Pitching. Perhaps I should re-write I Corinthians 13 for baseball. Just read that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is a daily Bible reader. He hates how his players don’t prepare mentally for games. Says they think they’re so good that they can just show up and win. No wonder they have a losing record.

Any NL East that heats up could take the division. Would these “fire the GM!” people want their job performance to hinge on every decision they make at work? People don’t take into account that bringing in a new regime means rebuilding, meaning even more lost seasons before a World Series win (their only benchmark) could be achieved.

Rob says: You are right - basically what we have right now is the start of a 90 game season, since only 1 1/2 games separate the Braves, Gnats and Marlins.  I remember on opening day when someone called into 680 and claimed that the Nats would have the division wrapped up by Sunday of that week.

I don't understand why the Braves are so bad offensively this year.  They are 14th in the NL in runs per game.  However, they are 9th in OPs, 12th in OBP, 3rd(worse) in K% and 8th in BB%.  Even with advanced sabr stat wRC+, which I am hesitant to use since I can't see the math, they are 12th. Compare all of this to last year where they were 4th in the NL in runs/game, with 3rd in OPS, 6th in OBP, 1st(worse) in K% and 2nd in BB%.  They were also 3rd in wRC+.

My takeaway is that they have been "unlucky", with much of that lack of luck being their own fault, with poorly executed situational hitting, not playing the best players (Uggla over LaStella early) and giving bad hitters (BJ) too may plate appearances. All that being said, it would not surprise me if they go on the road and play well.  The Nats, like the Braves, have a lot of outs in their lineup.

I try to avoid the "fire the manager/GM" talk.  It is not the managers/GM's fault if Chris Johnsons OPS is 167 points lower than last seasons.  However throwing away yesterday's game because the bullpen is overtaxed is inexcusable.  If your bullpen is that spent, they could have called up Gus Schlosser and sent down David Hale after Tuesday's game.  Leaving Harang out to throw BP was not the best choice they had. 

Unless someone violates a specific rule or policy, you are harming yourself if you fire someone because of a past action.  The question to ask is "who am I better off with my GM/Coach/Manager today?"  I thought about that today as people called into 680 and said Richt should be fired because he has not won a title like the other teams in the SEC have in the last few years.

Me: If I were a sports talk radio host (a) the callers would drive me crazy…no wonder most hosts talk all the time and don’t accept many calls, and (b) I would keep a computer file on repeat callers, keeping track of what they say and holding them accountable. Like Mark Bradley, I would hold myself and my co-hosts accountable as well.

Nice win Thursday night. Guess Wren won’t be trading Floyd. Makes the Wood to Gwinnett move look smart. What do you think about LaStella batting leadoff? He’d been hitting the ball right at people, so I wasn’t too worried about his 0-15 stretch.

Paul Lukas, the Uni-Watch guy, has been giving daily updates on the Redskins name change topic for well over six months. He also dislikes Chief Wahoo and the Braves’ laughing Indian logo, but he doesn’t think the name Braves is nearly as bad as Redskins. Since it is his party, opposing viewpoints are ridiculed and deemed wrong. During the 2013 season I thought the Redskins might wait until after the season and then announce a name change, but I was wrong. I was thinking the team and league could make even more merchandising money by selling gear with the new team name as well as throwback Redskins merchandise. Looks like they want to keep the Redskins name.

Rob: I like LaStella batting leadoff.  Like many others, I don't like BJ batting second.  When Justin returns tonight, I hope that puts Justin in the #2 spot, with BJ 6th or 7th.  When Gattis sits, he can move BJ back to #2 and Justin to #4.  With BJ batting 6th or 7th, he could steal more bases than he is now.  He seems hesitant to run with the heart of the order up.

I was hoping he would not trade Floyd, but now we get to keep Harang in the rotation.  I shouldn't complain about Harang since 12 of his 15 starts have been Quality Starts, but it is hard to watch him pitch.

One of the 680 shows were talking about the Redskin name change driving new revenue as well.

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