Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Is Fredi to Blame?

Concerned about the Braves? All the mental lapses in this San Diego series has been the first time I’ve begun to question Fredi. As poorly as the team is playing – especially the mental laspes – but I suppose Fredi’s job isn’t in danger. I can understand losing three straight in Los Angeles, but losing three more in San Diego got tiresome. Breakdowns in pitching, hitting, and fielding.

Saturday Chuck Oliver was hosting a show with two prize winners who were trying to sound like experts. Chuck kept reeling them back to reality. Reminded them that on March first after Medlen and Beachy went down that they’d be thrilled to be where the Braves were on August 2nd. Add everything else – the loss of Gavin Floyd and Venters - Avilan, Minor, and Kimbrel’s struggles - BJ and Uggla’s continued ineffectiveness - Gattis missing a month, etc – and where they are isn’t so bad…it’s miraculous. But Washington is almost as bad. The Braves can heat up and easily take the division. Some fans say they are giving up on the Braves.

After watching teammate Kimble walk the bases loaded less than 24 hours previous, on Sunday rookie Jaime throws 7 straight balls with two on. THROW A STRIKE! Entire team in a daze – pitching, fielding, and hitting. Besides Kimbrel and Jamie, the pitching against the Padres wasn’t bad. Except they let that one guy go 8-12.

Can’t catch a break from umpires or replays. On the pivot at second-base, infielders are taught to not catch the ball in their gloves, but instead let the ball hit their glove, and push it back out toward their throwing hand coming in to catch the deflection. Padres second-baseman drops the ball twice in a row, but replay calls it a catch.

Is Fredi losing control of the team? Freeman is in a funk at the plate. Andrelton is too aggressive. Runners routinely go first to first on routine singles to center, and score from second without a throw. BJ still doesn’t have a clue at the plate. Gets down 0-2 almost every at bat. Everyone hits .215 on an 0-2 count. Except rookie of the year candidate LaStella. He won’t win ROY because everyone loves the Reds Billy Hamilton, who is hitting .271 with 42 stolen bases. But Hamilton’s on base percentage is a woeful .300, compared to LaStella’s .363 OBP, .286 average, and higher slugging percentage.

Kinda like the Falcons. I’ll say it now: the Falcons will not win the division. They’ll be lucky to make the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed out. They’ll be improved from last year, but so will the Bucs. And the Saints and Panthers will be tough to get past. So I won’t grumble in November and December when the Falcons are struggling.

And why isn’t the national media all over Stephen Strasburg for having a so-so season? Seems like the Nationals are getting a pass because they’re in first place.     

Interesting broadcast Saturday afternoon, mostly devoted to Pete. Enjoyed all the call-ins, photos, and clips: Lemke, Glavine, Smoltz, etc. Not kosher to think there was something deadly in the Atlanta Stadium broadcast booth, with Skip, Ernie, and now Pete gone. Saturday the guy that started the Flight homeschool athletics program died from a stroke – a guy my age. He is the third Flight dad to pass away, if you count Joel Norman’s dad and Will’s friend Abby’s dad.

The hitting coach at Gwinnett is doing a great job. Several players hitting over .300. Why? They’re not trying to hit home runs. But a hitting coach is only as good as his pupils, and too many Atlanta Braves aren’t trying to make contact and poke singles. Speaking of Gwinnett, I finally watched a GBraves broadcast this weekend. Van Earl wasn’t in the booth, but down in the dugout. Not used very much. He would’ve done a better job than either guy in the booth, though both were entertaining.

ROB: If you are giving up on a team 3.5 games out with 50 games to play, you are not much of a fan to begin with.

The reality is we may just have too many holes in our everyday 8 to get to 90+ wins again this year.  BJ is better than he was last year, but he is still nowhere near the player he was in Tampa.  I understand what Fredi was trying to do, first batting BJ 2nd and now leadoff, but after 100 games in 2014, you are harming the team by continuing to hit him leadoff.

Justin and Gattis are similar players - both slugging over .500, with .800+ OPS's and on pace to come close to 30 HR's.  However when they are not hitting well, they are not doing anything else to help you win.  Gattis especially I think is trying to learn how to play the game (defensively and on the bases) at the major league level.  I think he is having to learn a lot of things he missed during his meteoric rise through the minors due to this hitting.

CJ has hit better after a slow start, but his inability to control the strike zone (K/BB ratio) will continue to make him an average MLB hitter at best.  Simmons took a tremendous drop-off offensively this year.  Kudos to Heyward though, after a disastrous April, he has consistently OPS'd in the high 700's.  In addition when he is not hitting, he will help you win with both his glove and base running.  LaStella has been an upgrade at the 2B position, but as he has no power, and his OPS is that of an average major leaguer.

I am glad I missed the show with Chuck and the prize winners.  The Nationals always get a pass from the national media.  Ernie was older - late 80's - when he died.  I think Skip's health issues were brought on my his weight, diabetes and drinking.  Even though it makes for good stories, being a non-player on the road for 13 weeks (plus spring training and post season) and drinking every night in the hotel bar is not going to be good for your health on a long term basis.

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