Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Thanks to Mac's family, is back.

09 Oct

Where Do We Go From Here? The Free Agent Market (by smitty)

In Year Two of a rebuilding project and only a few known building blocks, it is going to be hard to convince a superstar free agent to come to town. Unfortunately, that is where the Bravos find themselves this winter. In years past, the Braves have been able to convince some guys to take a few dollars less to wear the tomahawk, but we also had an all world rotation and were in the playoffs every year.

The Braves do have a top five pick that would be protected, if I understand the draft correctly. So why not be aggressive going after a marquee name?

What Do We Have:

Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons will anchor first and short. Nick Markakis will occupy one of the corner outfield slots (most likely right). Hector Olivera will get a majority of the time at third. Cameron Maybin will either be traded or will start out in center (or left if Mallex Smith makes it up). Jace Peterson will get the first crack at second. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn will have some role or be moved.

Our rotation is set to be Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz and/or Mike Minor.

The bullpen will have Jason Grilli, Shae Simmons, Arodys Vizcaino and a mix/match of some other low cost guys.

I imagine a few of the guys listed above will be moved at some point this winter. I decided to not really dive into bench players because they will probably be filled by guys already listed, or low cost farm hands.

With what I have listed and consulting our good friend Ryan C’s article at Tomahawk Take it appears we will have around $30 million to spend after arbitration. (That is assuming our payroll is around $107-110 million.)

What Do We Need/What Will We Do:

Personally I would look at four areas. 1) A corner outfielder with pop 2) A starting pitcher 3) A catcher 4) bullpen arms.

I know we are loaded with young pitching, so going after a starter may seem illogical on the surface. However, pulling in an ace or a good number two or three would allow some of these guys to develop more, take pressure off of them and the bullpen, or make them trade bait for a bat.

If the Braves are serious about contending in 2017, one would figure the majority of the 2017 team would need to be in place by the end of 2016.

I went to get my haircut and just missed Coppy getting a straight shave. Here is what my barber was told.


The Braves have been pretty clear they are not in on Jason Heyward or Justin Upton. Yoenis Cespedes would be a great addition, but I have a feeling the Mets are going all in on him. Alex Gordon is probably going to ask for six years $110 million. Gerardo Parra will probably ask for half of that.

Smitty’s Barber Says: The Braves look to upgrade via trade.

Starting Pitching

David Price, Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke will all be on the market and will probably be out of our price range. The Braves will kick the tires on these guys just to see what happens.

Smitty’s Barber Says: They Braves sign either Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Samardzija or Mike Leake


The Braves are going to either bring back AJ Pierzynski, sign Matt Wieters or make a trade for a young catcher.

Smitty’s Barber Says: The Braves sign Wieters.


With Grilli and Simmons coming off an injury and Vizcaino as the early favorite to close, the key roles will be setup men. Most of the roles will be filled by a displaced starter or a farm hand.

Smitty’s Barber Says: The Braves mostly stand pat, but do bring in Franklin Morales or Shawn Kelley.

Of course, all of this could change with a single trade or an outstanding winter ball performance.

As I mentioned above, if the Braves are serious about 2017, we will see a majority of that team on the field by 2016 season’s end. I think we will make some splashes in the free agent market, but the majority of our moves may be by trade.

07 Oct

THE MILLERS TALE… Sir Shelby, art thou smiling therre belowe?

... the blocked paths form part of the pilgrim s way traversed by geoffrey

On Sunday, Shelby finally won his sixth game after 24 consecutive winless starts. Trying to worry out the Shelby conundrum it has occurred that perhaps Chaucer might show him and us the way to redemption, to at least a deeper understanding of what is going on.

After all, he created a Miller, a famous one, and then when one of his fellow travelers on the road to Canterbury – our ‘gentle, parfitt Knyghte’ – invited the Monk to add his tale to what had just been told…

The Miller, drunk, preempted him and told his bawdy tale of a carpenter and his young wife.(This link includes a short crib helping to translate new to old and vice versa. Here’s another, much fuller transliteration help where the original line has the modern translation immediately underneath) Had we been among the journeying throng we might have then tried to add ours, in a parody of the English of the time, addressing the issue we knew to be burning him up, his W/L record.

Have a go. The way this likely will pan out will not exactly be a thynge of beautie. see what!

now telleth thee sir Miller if that ye konne
for treweley now the game is well begonne
thine enemie confuunded by thine trickerie
they do ascribe to devill in the dickerie
zounds, why so monny battiles were they loste
so monny balles demolished at what coste
so often had his mighty archers slept
the haughtie one, Sir Shelby was he yklept,
he asked why fail to air their powerful quills
with that it was ever likely all down hills
i cannot win quoth he without thy score
as this goes on forsooth i’m pressing more
and when i presse for fear of no reprisall
my balles they feel they be made of sisal
and at the end the gods amount the score
‘y tel me there was nonne lost battiles more
to counseling will be my faite ‘a winter
but also several sessions with my vintner
a toaste a toaste to dearest sweete sir Miller
in seasonne freshe y new hande on the tiller.

06 Oct

Where Do We Go From Here? 2015. Part One: Introduction

The season ended on a high note, but that doesn’t change facts: this may have been the worst Braves season that any of us have ever seen. As Sansho wrote on August 30:

We all like to glamorize past suffering, but I feel like this exact moment — Yankee after Yankee crossing the plate against an assembly line of no-hopers, to wild cheering from the crowd, a day after a fan died at the stadium — is the lowest point in franchise history.

The offseason was a bitter pill to swallow.

Just look at the 2014 Braves roster. By my count, there were 39 players who made an appearance with the Braves one calendar year ago. Only nine of those players are still in the organization. The rest were either traded, released, or granted free agency.

Over the offseason, we said goodbye to many of the most beloved Braves of recent memory. Brandon Beachy. Kris Medlen. Jason Heyward. Craig Kimbrel. Evan Gattis. Then again, we also said goodbye to some of the least beloved Braves of recent memory: Chris Johnson and Melvin Upton. (Dan Uggla was released in July 2014, so he doesn’€™t quite make the butcher’€™s tally, though he falls in quite the same category.) We also traded away countless players who made positive contributions though they may not have captured the fans’ delirious imagination, highlighted by Justin Upton and including guys like Tommy La Stella, Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana, Jordan Walden, David Carpenter, and blog favorite Gus “Pickles” Schlosser.

It was a bloodbath. But at least we could dream on what we got back, as a farm system that some rated as the second-worst in baseball was considered by some to be the second-best. Some of the new acquisitions appeared to pay immediate dividends, as the team loped out to a better-than-expected 42-42 record through July 7. And it all just went to hell after that.

The second-half Braves resembled nothing so much as Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, and Charles Barkley after the Monstars stole their talent in Space Jam. The Braves wore baseball uniforms and they took their positions between the foul lines, but they played listlessly, almost despondently. It was hard to believe that they believed they had a chance to win.

It was so bad that one of the chief architects of the teardown, John Schuerholz, recently admitted that the team believed that it needed to take major steps to reassure the fanbase of their ultimate intention of winning:

Wait until we do our winter’s work to construct the roster for this team… We decided to shorten this and be aggressive… We need to pivot dramatically.

As krussell noted at the time:

“Pivot dramatically” isn’t what you want to year in year one (!!!) of the “rebuild”.

So we’re left with the smoking ruins of a baseball season — a club that, as ububba said, appeared to be “doing its best to achieve a generational nadir” — and a front office that admits that their strategy has been working so well that they need to pivot dramatically. Where do we go from here? We ask this question every year, but it has rarely felt more urgent, or less obvious.

This is where you guys come in. Please email me if you’re interested in writing about the Braves’ outlook for 2016, and what the team needs to do in order to be successful. There are a few obvious areas that I believe will need to be addressed. But please feel free to pitch me any idea you have! Here’s what we’ll definitely need to cover, though:

• Fixing the Bullpen: Can’t anybody here play this game?
• The Seitzer Offense: Fewer strikeouts, but still no power.
• The Uncertain Starting Rotation: Maybe we shouldn’t have traded Alex Wood after all.
• The Hot Corner: Hector Olivera? Adonis Garcia? Or door number three?
• Free Agency: We’re supposed to have some money to spend. So how should we spend it?

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to feel emotionally invested in the 2015 Braves. But I’m ready to start counting the hours until April 2016, and we’ve got an awful lot to talk about. Please email me and let me know what you’d like to write!

04 Oct

Braves Take Two, Sweep Cards on Three Consecutive Shutouts (by coop)

Braves played two to end the season. In the first game of the doubleheader, Shelby Miller pitched eight shutout innings; and the Braves hit three home runs to beat the Cardinals 6-0. Adonis Garcia had two solo homers, and Andrelton Simmons added a two run shot. Best of all, Shelby WON! As ‘Rissa said, 25th time’s the charm.

Matt Wisler took the mound in game two. Adonis Garcia singled in a run in the first to give Matt the early lead. In typical Braves fashion, we got a double and two singles in the fourth and failed to score. Wisler was outstanding, and he kept the score at 1-0 through seven solid innings. The Braves picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on singles by Todd Cunningham, Ryan Lavarnway and Michael Bourn.

Matt protected the increased lead in the eighth and took the hill in the ninth looking for a complete game shutout of the Cards. He went 8.2 but yielded a double and his only walk before giving way to Edwin Jackson. Wisler gave up three hits and the single walk while striking out three. Jackson got the final out of our 2015 season to save the game for Matt. For the first time in their 2000-plus meetings since 1900, the Braves shut out the Cards three times in a row.

Despite our bad team, it was a good year. Needed changes were made as we swapped a mediocre today for a better tomorrow. It wasn’t always enjoyable, but Braves Journal made the losing palatable.

Therefore, here’s a tip of Fredi’s cap to godfather AAR and the Journal’s wonderful collection of recappers and posters. Names are omitted for fear I’d leave someone off the list, but please know each of you added joy to this old man’s life. Even Georgia’s loss to Bama was easier, though still not enjoyable, because Mac loved the Tide so much. I certainly love this site he gave us.

So let’s fire up the stove and watch the Johns keep their promise that we won’t suffer through a season like this again. Thank you for the humor, poetry and fellowship. God bless us everyone.

Go Braves.

03 Oct

Braves 4, Cardinals 0

Well, I started off the season with a running diary, so I thought I would finish the season off with
one. All times approximate.

6:15 – The daughters go off to dance class, so Mrs. Painter and I head out to a quick salad and
soup at the a deli. It’s raining.

6:25 – The Savannah Chopped Salad at McAlistair’s is quite tasty, and the company is delightful,
even after 22 years. It’s raining.

6:50 – We dodge the rain to head back home to find something to do before the girls get back
around 8:15. It’s become really nice to have another driver in the house. It’s raining.

7:00 – We find something to do. It’s raining.

7:04 – We need to find something else to do. It’s raining.

7:12 – I suggest to Mrs. Painter that once the girls get back we have a family game night. She
thinks that’s a fun idea. It’s raining.

7:25 – I teach Mrs. P how to play Roll For the Galaxy – a dice game based on exploration and
colonization of, well, the galaxy. I play a LOT of boardgames. If you’ve ever seen Tabletop, Wil
Wheaton’s Youtube series, then you’ll know the type of games I like to play. Mrs. P is NOT a gamer,
but she humors me, and actually picks up the idea of the game relatively quickly. It’s raining.

8:15 – The girls get back. Daughter #1 isn’t interested in RFtG, but daughter number 2 is, so a quick
three player game breaks out. I get an early development lead, and ride that to a 43-35-29 win
over the other two. Mrs. P, although coming in last, has a good time. It’s raining.

8:50 – We break out Dixit, which is similar to Apples to Apples, but with pictures instead of phrases
as the story idea. Mrs. P gets some revenge, nipping me by a point on the last play of the game.
The girls look to be enjoying themselves, amazingly enough. It’s raining.

9:45 – Oh crap, wasn’t I supposed to be recapping the game? It’s raining.

9:50 – I run upstairs to find it is the bottom of the eighth, and Daniel Castro, has hit a home run,
his second of the season. Jonathon Broxton is pitching, and the first pitch I see is cued down the
right field line by Castro, and Freddie Freeman chugs around from first to make it 3-0. It’s raining.

9:53 – Nick Markakis continues his season-long journey of not sucking terribly, and singles Castro
home from third through a drawn-in infield. It’s raining.

9:54 – Todd Cunningham with the 4-6-3. It’s raining.

9:57 – Arodys Vizcaino on for the non-save. Mark Reynolds fouls out to Freeman on the first pitch.
It’s raining.

10:00 – Vizcaino walks Brandon Moss after getting ahead 0-2. This makes him mad, because he
Hulks up and hits 101 on the gun to Kolten Wong, who lines out to Freeman. It’s raining.

10:03 – Pete Kozma is overmatched, as Vizcaino takes a bit off, and fans him on a 99 mph heater.
It’s raining.

Well, it’s been fun doing the Friday night recaps, and thanks to all you guys for the encouragement
and for sticking with the team. And for all you young’uns out there, now you know how we felt back
in 1988. But, I’m cautiously optimistic for the future. Now let’s get Shelby Miller a win tonight. It’s

02 Oct

Nationals 3, Braves 0, apparently

I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t watch the game. And while I’m in the confessional, I’ll own up to something else: I have absolutely no idea who Ryan Weber is. But he went seven innings last night, giving up just five hits and one run with 10 strikeouts against no walks, and that’s kind of eye-popping, even though IWOTN. That was good for a Game Score of 73, his second game in his last three starts with a game score above 70; though he got shelled in his last start, the one before that he gave up only two hits and one run in seven innings, while striking out five and walking two. So who is this guy?

We drafted him in the 22nd round in 2009, out of St. Petersburg College, a decent baseball school whose most famous alum is Howard Johnson of the Mets. It was a weird situation, though; he was drafted in the 12th round out of high school in 2008, said no, went to college, and then signed with the Braves a year later when they drafted him 10 spots lower. (They signed him for the approximate slot money of a 9th-rounder, so he may have made slightly more money than he would a year later. Still, it was a strange turn of events.)

Weber has a career minor league ERA of 3.89, and a career minor league K/9 of 6.6. He has been used as a swingman, making almost twice as many relief appearances as starts. Last night was literally the first time in his seven-year professional career, as far as I can see, that he got 10 strikeouts, and only the third time that he had gotten more than seven. His previous career high was 9, achieved exactly once, on August 1 of 2010 in his last start for Danville in rookie league. And he recorded 8 strikeouts on the last start of the year in 2013, pitching for Lynchburg in High-A.

He’s 25 years old, a 6-foot tall righthander with an average fastball just under 90 miles an hour, the very epitome of an organizational player made good. And yet, quietly, he had an incredible start. Good for him.

30 Sep

Braves 2, Nats 0

I don’t care what the records are. Or whether either team still has games left that matter. Or who is on the mound. Beating the Nationals never gets old. Shutting them out is just icing on the cake.

It has definitely been more fun recently to talk about the Nats’ implosion than to talk about the Braves second half, and now that the Chosen Ones have missed out on the playoffs entirely, they’ve added insult to injury by coming to Atlanta and losing a series against these guys. I love it.

On the heels of a 2-1 victory, the Braves managed to scrape across two more runs tonight against Jordan Zimmermann and hang him with a loss in what was, in all likelihood, his last start for everybody’s favorite non-World Series Champs. Amazingly, the Braves pitching combo of the Dynamic Duo, Atlanta’s favorite Aussie, a-Cub-no-longer, and our Closer 3.0 combined to keep the Nats off the board and our favorite villain hitless. The guys in the bullpen have been making the most of their time in the big leagues recently. As much as this has been a summer for the fans to forget, it has been one to remember for many of these guys who will probably never get the chance to be in the big leagues again. I’m glad they are making some good memories to take with them.

The Braves picked up runs in the first two innings and then rode the cruise control to victory. A.J. Pierzynski has 3/4 of the Braves RBIs in the series and more than the Nats have combined. I was not thrilled when the Braves signed him, but he has definitely proven my misgivings were groundless and he’s been fun to watch this year. I liked him as a rookie with the Twins, and I’m glad I have been able to come full circle with him and root for him in the twilight of his career. Michael Bourn drove in the Braves second run, and has an outside chance of getting to double digit RBIs in his second stint with the Braves.

A Nationals loss/Braves win is automatically a good night, even in a wretched season. Let’s go for the sweep tomorrow. Why not? There is literally nothing else left to play for. Natspos delenda est.

And, in case anyone needed a reminder of how awesome Andrelton Simmons is, he did this tonight. And if that was not enough, he also did this. There is just nothing more fun than watching Simmons get Nationals players out. Nothing.

29 Sep

BRAVES WILL NOT LOSE 100 (by coop)

The final week of the Braves 2015 season will be spent at home. Fans are ready for the season to end. The Braves are ready for the season to end. Both Braves fans and players know the season ended long before the last out in the 162nd game will be recorded, so I have only one question about 2015:


There were bright spots in 2015– not many, but some. With faith in the direction we’re headed, hope that THE PLAN succeeds, and belief that the Johns know what they’re doing, I humbly submit that next year’s team will be better. Here’s why.

  1. Pen

    The bullpen will be better. Jason Grilli’s injury will turn out to be a blessing because it allowed Arodys Vizcaino to pitch high leverage innings. Viz was not the Kraken, but he was competent. Whether he is cast as the closer or primary set up reliever, the experience will be beneficial. The rest of next year’s pen spent a large portion of the season on the disabled list. These pitchers may struggle initially. When the parts combine, the whole will be one of the team’s strengths.

  2. Rotation

    Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran will be better. Shelby will win more than five games in 2016, and Julio will be the second half version we saw this year. The kids will battle for the last two slots in the rotation, and the Braves will obtain a top of the rotation starter, more likely through trade than by signing a free agent. Our rotation won’t be as top heavy as the 2015 Dodgers or as ballyhooed as the 2015 Mets, but our new number one will deepen the staff and make everyone better. Chris Sale would be nice. So would David Price or Zack Greinke.

    Acts 2:17: “Young men have visions. Old men dream dreams.” I dream.

  3. Lineup

    Both defense and offense will improve. Freddie Freeman will heal during the offseason. Perhaps Adonis Garcia will be an everyday leftfielder and Hector Olivera remember how to catch the ball at third. Olivera could end in left. If Adonis can’t cut it, I’d rather see Nick Markakis moved there than Hector. Neck’s no longer a gold glove right fielder, but his range may improve through his continued rehab; and — bold prediction — he will be a better hitter in 2016 with more power. If Neck plays left, Hector could play second, with Jace Peterson or Daniel Castro becoming a latter day Martin Prado and the Braves finding a real third baseman. You gotta believe.

    If Nick moves to left, we could bring Jason Heyward back. I don’t think he’s a $20 million a year player, but I’m in the minority on Braves Journal. I wouldn’t give him that, but I would give him $15-18 million annually for six to eight years.

    Failing a JayHey reunion, there are options through trade or free agency. I’d prefer a left-handed bat over a 31 year old Alex Gordon, but I’d take either Gordon or JayHey and smile.

    Given my druthers, I’d druther have Heyward.

    We have to get a catcher. Christian Bethancourt is young and might show improvement in the spring, if he lasts that long. If he’s still here come spring and doesn’t convert his vaunted potential into production, he’s gone.

    A.J. Pierzynski produced better than I thought possible in 2015. To expect him to duplicate this year is, to quote Sam and others, wish casting. At best, AJP’s a solid backup and a steady bat off the bench. Maybe Matt Wieters gives us a hometown discount. He’s not Buster Posey (still out), but anybody, including Smitty’s barber, would be better than this year’s Betty. We will have at least one new catcher in 2016, and he will provide better defense and at least as much offense as last year’s backstops not named AJP.

  4. Management

    Fredi Gonzalez is on a short leash. Big John says we won’t suffer through another season like this one. Big John is blame adverse, and the leader of a series of consecutive second half collapses is a good scapegoat. At the least Schuerholz’ statement put Fredi on notice.

I spent the afternoon chopping this fire wood. I’m eager to light the stove. Please indulge an old dreamer. What must we do to challenge the Mutts and Folders in 2016?

The Braves played an utterly meaningless game against the Nats tonight. We won, but it didn’t matter. Matt Wisler stifled the Natspos, even with chokemeister Papelbon on leave without pay, through five. Meanwhile, our Braves were less than usually futile at the plate. Tanner Roark matched Wisler pitch for pitch until AJP mightily smote a two out home run in the fourth to give the Bravos a one-zip lead. A.J. had hits in his first two at bats and constituted the bulk of the Braves attack. (Guilty pleasure: I like A. J. Pierzynski. I hope he comes back, just not as the starter.)

Alas, Trea Turner hit his first big league home run leading off the Nats sixth. Game’s tied at one, but Matt rebounded to fan MVP-elect Bryce Harper and hopefully has-been Jason Werth before inducing an inning ending groundout. Through six, Matt limited the anointed champions to one run on four hits, and Fredi let him hit for himself to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Fredi’s our manager, and managers manage. That’s what they do.

Wisler walked Ian Desmond leading off the seventh. Despite the “I told you so” on the tip of my tongue, Matt escaped. Huh! When did Fredi get smart? Now get the kid a run, Braves.

Woo-hoo! AJP one more time again! Who is this guy? Home run A.J! Braves lead 2-1.

Matty’s still in to start the eighth. Fredi’s a lunatic again. Uh-oh, here we go again: runner on first, no outs. Only now does the team idiot go to the pen. Will Fredi’s lunacy cost Wisler a hard earned win? Bet on it: Edwin Jackson’s in to blow, er, protect Matt’s lead.

Can of corn to center for the first out. So far, so good, but …

Jackson walks Rendon. Harper’s up with runners on first and second. Miracles happen: Brycie grounds into a double play. Take that, MVP. I’m sorry I doubted you, Edwin.

A little insurance wouldn’t hurt, but AJP’s not due this inning. Alas, nothing doing.

Top of the ninth: if we win, we can’t lose 100; but there’s three more outs to get. Arodys Vizcaino gets another of those pressure innings.

Jason Werth singles to left. Clint Robinson’s up. Single to left. Nats go station to station. Ian Desmond sacrifices into a 2-5-3 double play. Lol Natspos.

Den Dekker stands between Arodys and the save. Strike out. Braves win.

Wisler was great; AJP better.

Wait ’til next year!

28 Sep

PANIC AT THE DISCO (by bledsoe, game thread)

From our Nats beat reporter, Chad N. Freud:

Calling Dr. Phil…

A few weeks ago, I referred to the Nats debacle as a soap opera. That was wrong. It’s now a WWE storyline. Holy freaking cow. You cannot make this stuff up. The last dugout fight I remember was the Cubs, four or five years ago, Carlos Zambrano and his catcher, and then Zambrano and Derrek Lee I think in another one. Clubhouse fights happen every once in a while (Sammy Sosa didn’t break his ribs sneezing). Dugout fights aren’t very common.

The background on this is that, in the middle of getting swept by the Orioles last week, Jonathan
Papelbon decided to drill Manny Machado. There had been a lot of high and tight over the series, with nobody getting actually hit, but the O’™s pitching Harper inside and the Nats pitching Chris Davis inside. Manny’€™s mistake was that he crushed a Max Scherzer 98 mph fastball in the 7th to go up 5-4. So in the 9th, Papelbon decided to dispense some old school justice and hit Machado in the head. (Luckily, Manny took it in the shoulder instead.) Papelbon was ejected. Benches cleared, the Nats’ very slowly. Clearly, no one on the Nats thought this was justified. In the clubhouse, Bryce Harper talked to the press and mentioned sourly that he was probably going to get drilled tomorrow in retaliation. Papelbon viewed this as criticism of his actions, and thus he was looking for a chance to get back at Harper.

Even though the Nats had been eliminated Saturday, Harper still played the next day. And when Harper jogged lazily to first on a pop fly (first was occupied), Papelbon decided to ride him about not running hard. Over and over. Harper said “Let’s %$#@ing go.” And they did.

You cannot touch the Golden Child. Harper is the franchise’s All-Star, and the Nats think he’s on a HOF trajectory. You cannot touch him. And the fact that Jonathan Papelbon doesn’t know that, or doesn’t care, is an indication of just what an idiot he is.

Normally, Papelbon would be traded for a ham sandwich (who’d take him?) or released. You don’t want this guy in the same clubhouse with Harper. Given how much the pennywise Lerners hate wasting money, there’s no telling what will happen. Some post mortem observations:

  1. Bad GMing

    As you may recall, I noted a few weeks ago the insanity of the trade for Papelbon. Over 2014-15, up to the trade deadline, you could make a case that Drew Storen was the best relief pitcher in baseball. 2014: ERA 1.12, WHIP 0.976. In 2015, pre-Papelbon, ERA 1.69, 29 for 31 in save opportunities. What the Nats needed at the trade deadline were a couple of setup guys to get the ball to Storen. What they went out and got was another closer who was probably the best-known clubhouse cancer in all of baseball. And they took the ball away from probably the then-best closer in the NL (apologies to CK) and gave it to this jackhole. Not only that, but part of the Papelbon trade required them to pick up Papelbon’s option for next year: i.e., he was going to close next year too. Thanks for playing, Drew.

    This was the second time the Nats had thrown Storen under the bus. In 2011, after being lights out all year, closing 43 games, he blew a save in the NLDS against the Cardinals. Rather than chalking this up to a one-off, the Nats demoted him to setup and eventually went out and got Rafael Soriano to close, which is a bit like telling you that you lost the role as romantic lead to the current version Meg Ryan. Storen lost all his confidence and went into a tailspin.

    Having fought his way over the last four years to the closer role and success, the Nats pull the rug out from under him again. Result: Storen goes into second tailspin, spinning a 7.36 ERA after Papelbon rolls in. Storen then punches his hand against his locker, breaks his thumb and is lost for the last three weeks of the season.

    The silver lining? Not only have they destroyed Storen’s mojo, twice, maybe for good, they’ve got the guy who took a swing at their NL MVP signed for next year at $11 million. Good job, Mike Rizzo!

  2. Bad managing

    For weeks, there had been speculation about whether Matt Williams would return. Not any more. He drove his last nail in his own coffin when he sent Papelbon back out to pitch the next inning, AFTER the brawl. Inexplicable.

    I honestly thought Williams would be a good manager. Good player, hardnosed, old school, reputation as a hardass. But he’s basically toned down the yelling to the point where he appears to be sleepwalking through the season. Every post game loss press conference is the same. Pulse never above 72. “We’ve got to put this behind us and play tomorrow.” Every game.

    Don’t know if this passivity that ownership has imposed on him, or some sort of philosophical change but the Nats could have used some yelling. Actually, they could have used a lot. Few on the team seem to care a whole lot about winning and losing. And that’s part of why they’re trying to finish above .500 rather than coasting into the World Series.

  3. Bad ownering

    It was in no way a coincidence that the Braves starting getting good when Ted Turner starting losing interest in the Braves and starting dating Jane Fonda instead. Likewise, the local flaming tire mountain of a football team is entirely the product of one Daniel Snyder’s personal obsession with dictating all player moves. The Lerners meddle in stuff that they should leave to the GM (not that this is an endorsement of Rizzo).

    Scott Boras is NOT your friend. And if you continue to let him run your team for you, the only thing that will happen is that Scott Boras and his clients will get rich.

  4. Natitude!

    The Nats just announced that they have suspended Papelbon for four games — i.e., “for the rest of the season” — and they’re docking his pay, too. But the damage has been done, and they continue to own his contract for 2016.

    As a local gumshoe on the scene, it is hard not to notice the lack of fire in this team. There is a lot of horseplay and high spirits that seem to take precedence over winning and losing. There’s a lot of post-game chocolate sauce pouring and such. Not so much of the hardnosed baserunning, hitting the cutoff man and fundamentally sound baseball.

The ESPN guys were actually saying that this episode and the Nats’ underachievement were so egregious that the Nats may need to return to rebuilding mode. Not sure it’s that bad, but it’s certainly dysfunctional. I expect Williams will go, Rizzo may hang on.

Good times, good times.

27 Sep

Marlins 9, Braves 5 (by coop)

The Braves lost yet another game. They still have a chance to lose 100 and an outside chance to secure the number one draft slot for 2016. Therefore, almost everything but not all was lost.

On a happier note, my tiny baby girl Christina Louise is 47 years old today. Life is good.

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