Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

I don’t want them forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me. -Hank Aaron

09 Apr

Phillies 4, Braves 3 (10 Innings)

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Phillies – 04/08/2003

Double-play on Monday or no, Kevin Gryboski really isn’t any good. As he showed yesterday, allowing a tenth-inning run to lose the game. I don’t understand why, after allowing a hit and a walk, he wasn’t yanked for Smoltz, or failing that some other reliever. Yes, the Braves had already used four other relievers, but you have an eight-man bullpen! The rest of the pen was excellent yesterday, allowing three walks but no hits in four innings.

I didn’t actually see the game, because I’m not an alien who can receive signals from Turner South with my antennae and no cable systems carry the network. But it seems to me that the home plate umpire was probably squeezing the plate. Not that Jason Marquis or Randy Wolf has great control, but the Braves walked ten men (six by Marquis) and the Phillies six. But it was a hitter, Gary Sheffield, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. With the Braves’ short bench, they can’t afford ejections, especially of their best players. At the end of the game, Henry Blanco was the only player left on the bench, though Russ Ortiz could probably pinch-hit if needed.

Chipper had a hit, but struck out three times, once a dagger blow in the ninth with one out and Robert Fick at third base. Vinny, once again, was the Braves’ best hitter with two hits and a walk.

The Braves’ record is now 0-5 when not hitting a home run, 3-0 when they do. If they’d hit a homer yesterday they surely would have won… Greg Maddux pitches tonight on three days’ rest. The Braves desperately need a good start from him. The Thursday game is still listed as Byrd vs. Millwood, but I think it’s less that 50/50 that matchup happens. Just imagine, if the Braves had known what they were doing this offseason, it might have been the same matchup… but with Millwood on our side.

14 Responses to “Phillies 4, Braves 3 (10 Innings)”

  1. 1
    bamadan Says:

    I am one of those weird aliens who gets TS. I didn’t see the whole game ~ my daughters’ bedtime got in the way of the middle innings ~ but saw most of it. If anything, I kinda thought the ump was calling a fairly large strikezone, particularly above the belt. Wolf and Marquis were truly wild and neither could get any kind of consistency from their breaking balls all night. I suspect that the cold and their unwillingness to just throw fastballs contributed more the the astromomical walks than did the ump’s zone.

    One of the debates in sabermetrics is the value of spreading out an offense. That is, is a team with 8 nobodies and 1 Barry Bonds better than a team with 9 slightly above average players. This year’s Braves team will help move that debate off the spreadsheats and onto the field. The offense in Atlanta is 2 or 2.5 players deep. Chipper & Sheffield are great hitters, Andruw might be, but thats it. Its depressing to see the the bottom third of the lineup knowing that their chance of plating a run is roughly the same as my chance of heading home with Cindy Crawford.

  2. 2
    bamadan Says:

    Oh yeah, I meant to add that the hit Gryboski allowed to Tomas Perez to end the game wasn’t much of a smash. It was a 72hopper that Furcal took a bad angle towards (and didn’t dive) and it just snaked into center. Furcal isn’t a bad fielder, but a very good one would have had it.

    The play before was more difficult, but also might have been able to be turned. Byrd’s bouncer to Short with runners on 1 & 2 might have been able to be turned into a DP, but it was hit a bit slowly, Byrd runs well, Furcal didn’t rush it, and Giles bounced his throw.

    But hey, at least he’s on pace for 20 walks and 81 runs this year!

  3. 3
    Robert Says:

    I agree with your assessment of our offense in principal bamadan, but so far the 7-8 combo of Castilla-Giles is doing just fine. They started the two run uprising in the 4th yesterday with back to back walks and Giles walked and scored in the 6th to tie the game. So far this season the bottom of the order is doing just fine.

    Not mentioned by Mac was the Giles error in the bottom of the second that opened the door for the three run Phillies rally. Marquis came unglued (not an uncommon state for him) after the error and promptly walked the next two batters and then gave up a two run single to the pitcher. So despite Marcus’s good work at the plate (single, sac bunt, 2 walks) we may get a look at DeRosa tonight.

    Finally, something to look back on when it’s August and he has a 650 OPS:
    Castilla .393/.452/.536

  4. 4
    Sam Says:

    As a Turner South getting alien: the zone was often large, but it was also ALL OVER THE PLACE. It moved. It zigged, it zagged, it did the masochism tango. A pitch called a strike on the outer half, followed by another pitch in the exact same place got a ball call. Then the next pitch letter-high and sniffing around the inner corner got called instead. It was horrifying to behold.

    Agreed that Perez’ game winning single was weak, but Gryboski is living off of a fluke year last year, and his bread-and-butter “heavy sinker”, the one that he so famously uses to induce double plays, has a tendency to not sink and end up three rows deep in LF as often as not. I don’t trust him in tight games either.

    The walks were a function of the frigid conditions as anything else, I think. Game time was listed at 37 F, but I seriously doubt it was that warm.

    s/

  5. 5
    Troy Says:

    Yeah, last year we were definitely in that state in the offense. Our chances to score were basically confined to the 3-4-5 tandem of gary, chipper, and andruw. But it’s interesting that Bamadan should bring that concept up now, because this year so far I don’t really see it that way — as Robert points out, Marcus and Vinny have been two of the team’s best hitters. and with furcal at the top and Fick in the mix (he hasnt been hitting that well, but I like him and think he’ll get it going soon), I see our offense as being a lot more balanced than it was last year.

    I’d be really happy if they could keep this up. And pitching comparisons aside, having Ortiz or Hampton in our batting lineup might prove to be a nice improvement over Glavine and Moss. Given how poorly almost everybody performed offensively last year, I do have hope for this year’s Braves lineup. They haven’t shown it that much this year, but I’m interested to see how it plays out.

    Although the more pressing question is, how will Maddux perform tonight. Time to start earning those 13.5 million spacebucks!

  6. 6
    bamadan Says:

    Sam, I’m with you on Gryboski. Last night’s loss was a tough one, but … His ERA last year was fine, but his peripherals suggest that it was very flukish. His HR/IP was the worst on the staff (among pitchers with 20+ IP) and he allowed more walks (37) than strikeouts (33). He isn’t young (29) and in two plus seasons at AAA didn’t exactly set the world afire (4.08 ERA).

    I’m a fan of the way Cox and his braintrust develops a bullpen — bring in a bunch of good arms in the winter, weed out a couple in spring training, then give them a couple of months in the majors to show what they can do. The pen that the team starts with in April is never the one they finish with in October. Gryboski is one of the first I’d jettison, but I don’t have a problem with the approach to bullpen building that is still being employed.

  7. 7
    bamadan Says:

    Troy & Robert,

    If the SVOD has magically learned how to hit infield dribblers that he beats out fine. But I don’t see him batting over .390 all that long. I don’t think I need to wait until the sun rises to proclaim that its coming up in the east tomorrow morning.

    And all those “good” starts? Well, there are three players with OPS over .801 – Castilla, and two of those I identified as the only hope, Sheffield and Andruw. Yeah, Giles is at .801, but take away the intentional walks, and it drops to .741, nothing even remotely special. Beyond that, Chipper is slumping, Furcal and Fick disappointing, and Lopez sucking.

  8. 8
    bamadan Says:

    ESPN is now reporting that Paul Byrd is scheduled for elbow surgery this week and will be out indefinitely. That $7m player option for next year looks awfully good right now, doesn’t it Mr. Schuerholz?

  9. 9
    Matt Davis Says:

    I was about to post about Byrd too.

    Pardon my “Freedom,” but the Braves are fucked. After insulting (and negotiating in either bad faith or incompetence with) Tom Glavine, giving away Kevin Millwood to the division rival for pocket change, and paying John Smoltz roughly $140,000 per inning (to be the best pitcher on the team with among the fewest innings), I’m starting to believe in karma.

    Look, I’m a lifelong Braves fan but it’s hard to feel sorry for them right now.

  10. 10
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Bleah. I didn’t like the signing at the time, and every week something happens to make me like it less.

  11. 11
    Robert Says:

    As a follow up to my earlier post, Bobby did indeed bench Giles for his error last night. So DeRosa starts at second and on the first batter of the game, makes an error! Atta boy Mark, that should get you back on the bench tomorrow.

    Doesn’t matter anyway, Maddux has nothing again. Burrell just hit one out and it’s 3-0 in the first. The Byrd signing is terrible but the Maddux signing looks even worse. At least Byrd isn’t killing us every fourth day. No wonder Greg couldn’t get any offers in the off season and had to accept arbitration. I would imagine the market for a 36 year old with no fastball who is looking for at least $15 million a year is pretty small.

  12. 12
    Colin Says:

    Negotiating in bad faith with Glavine? That seems a little strong. lest we forget, duringthose negotiationsit was Glavine’s agent who was making public statements every day about how other teams were offering this that or the other. It was Glavine’s agent who told Glavine that the braves hadn’t called to acknowledge an offer when in fact they had (his excuse – he just hadn’t gotten the message, which means he was either lying or is potentially incompetent). it was Glavine who then went on TV to bitch about that, and Glavine who ultimately apologized in person to JS and Kasten about spreading that wrong information.

    As for whether the one year offer was an insult or not, I guess we’ll see how Glavine finishes the year before we know that. If he ends up a 4.50 ERA pitcher on teh year, then a 1-year offer may end up having been the most sane one.

    Put another way, if the Braves had just offered one year $8m to Maddux, people would have called that an insult too, but they might be having second thoughts on that if Maddux doesn’t right his ship soon (and I think he will, but still…)

    colin

  13. 13
    Matt Davis Says:

    OK maybe I exaggerated a little in my fury, but you and I are looking at 2 different perspectives on the negotiations.
    Based on the information available at the time and the consistent career performance, nobody can honestly say they knew Maddux would suck this bad this quickly.
    Any simple analysis would suggest that both Glavine and Maddux were due for slight declines this year, based on age, peripheral stats, etc.
    BUT when a career player for your team is a likely HOFer and clearly states that he wants a 3-year deal, it is an insult to offer 1 year at below market. You’re better off just saying thansk for the years, we can’t afford you.
    BTW I expect Glavine to struggle in NY because of the infield defense (excluding Rey “Filthy” Sanchez).

  14. 14
    Colin Says:

    Based on the information available at the time and the consistent career performance, nobody can honestly say they knew Maddux would suck this bad this quickly.

    Certainly nobody knew it. But while it was reasonable to expect a small decline, it’s not all that out there for a decline to be precipitous. If you look at the ages of these two guys, then look at this three year age span in hall of Famers, you don’t find many who flourished or were even all that good.

    They are, simply, old enough that a decision to offer only one year deals is less an insult and more an act of prudence – especially given a few warning signs (Maddux’s minor injuries, declining K rate; Glavine had an ERA of over 5 from the start of July til the end of the playoffs). Yes, it looks insulty compared to what others offered. But given that even HoFers can crash and burn at this age, I think it was a reasonable strategy for the team not to offer multi-year deals.

    Colin

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