Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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

23 Jul

Atlanta 8, Chicago Cubs 4

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Cubs at Braves – 07/22/2003

Another good start for Maddux, and the Braves continued to score lots of runs, and the middle relief continues to stink. Maddux went seven, allowing two runs (and probably should have gotten away with only one) and is above .500, 9-8. He only struck out two, but didn’t walk any and allowed just five hits.

All the Braves’ position players had hits, led by Marcus Giles with three, leading to three runs scored. Vinny hit a two-run homer in the second, and the Joneses each had a pair of hits. Pretty much par for the course lately. In the Battle of the Personal Catchers, PC Mk IV Henry “No O” Blanc went 1-3 with an intentional walk while PC Mk III Paul “No O Either” Bak was 1-4 with 2 RBI.

The Mets, amazingly, beat the Phillies again. Suddenly the Braves are 10 1/2 up in the division. With 63 games to go, if the Braves went 32-31 down the stretch, the Phillies would have to go 43-21 to tie. The Braves will probably do better than that… Two with the Marlins next. The Marlins have given the Braves as much trouble as anyone this year. Though the season series is tied at 5, Marlins wins include scores of 17-1, 12-5, 8-1, and 20-1. The Phillies travel to face the Cubs.

16 Responses to “Atlanta 8, Chicago Cubs 4”

  1. 1
    MS Says:

    Talking about personal catchers…I was curious if anyone knows why exactly Maddux does not like to use Lopez? I have heard 2 reasons so far: 1) that Lopez looked at him funny once, 2) when Lopez was first coming into the big leagues he had a bad reputation for fielding. Can someone just tell me exactly why cos it’s bothering me. Nobody else demands to have a personal catcher in the bigs? Also – does Javy always catch for him in the playoffs? If so, then what does that say? If he can have it at the most crucial time then why not in the course of the regular season?

  2. 2
    Rivers Says:

    Maddux went seven, allowing two runs (and probably should have gotten away with only one)

    Actually, if Giles doesn’t whiff on that flare, I don’t think he even gives up one. I can’t fathom Mitre tagging up and scoring on such a shallow ball.

    The game log’s description as Grudzielanek doubling to second is hysterical.

  3. 3
    karl ehrsam Says:

    I remember a game back in Javy’s 2nd year (he split catching time with Berryhill during his rookie season with Berryhill catching Maddux presumably due to the Cubs factor) when Maddux shook off Javy on every pitch while giving up 5-6 runs in the first inning. He stayed in the game, but Leo called all the rest from the dugout, while Javy seemed less than pleased. At that time, the arrangement was probably mutual. In ’95, Smoltz also used Berryhill, not Lopez, although that dissapeared over the winter as Javy caught John in most of his Cy young campaign.

  4. 4
    Rivers Says:

    In ’96 after O’Brien left, Lopez caught Maddux pretty regularly for the first half before the switch to Perez, and the reason (unstated, I think, yet generally understood) was that Lopez’s inability to get on the same page as far as pitch selection drove Maddux up a wall. It probably wouldn’t be an issue anymore, but inertia keeps them doing things the way they’ve always done them.

    There are several other PC situations around the majors. Chad Krueter was Chan Ho Park’s. Johnson and Schilling used to insist that Damian Miller catch them when he was job-sharing with Stinnett then Barajas. The Reds had a job-sharing thing going a couple years ago, I think revolving around Jared Fernandez. There was something similar in Boston with Wakefield. There are a number of others that are escaping me at the moment.

    And, according to Colin and that dastardly retrosheet, Lopez hasn’t caught Maddux in the playoffs in years.

  5. 5
    Creg Says:

    The only blowup regarding Lopez’s “game-calling” I can remember was from Steve Avery, not Maddux, although I’m sure Maddux complained to Cox and Mazzone in private.

    As stated above, personal catchers are nothing new in baseball. The first one I can remember hearing about is Tim McCarver, who caught Steve Carlton most of the time in the late 70s with the Phillies (I don’t remember seeing this personally, but McCarver has alluded to it many times on broadcasts).

    Yet rarely have PCs reached the ridiculous extremes of this year’s Braves, where you send an offensive nothing out there to catch a pitcher whose mediocre performance requires all the run support he can get.

  6. 6
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Well, The PC probably wouldn’t play any less if the Braves used some other system. The real problem is the quality of the PC, not that they have one. It’s really not that hard to find a backup catcher who can outhit the pitchers.

  7. 7
    bunyon Says:

    It certainly isn’t that hard to find one. Especially since you gave up a quality starter to acquire one in the off-season.

    Why not trade Blanco for whatever they can get (Jesse Orosco’s grandfather’s bones, perhaps) and bring Estrada up? Is there some reason known to wise Braves fans that Estrada isn’t in the bigs?

  8. 8
    Rivers Says:

    Berryhill was gone by the time Lopez started seeing regular duty in ’94. O’Brien caught Smoltz and Maddux, then Lopez started catching Smoltz the following year.

    Lopez caught Maddux through the middle of June of ’96, and Maddux was 5-5 with a 3.35 ERA. They made the switch to Perez, and there was an immediate turnaround: 10-5 with a 1.88 ERA. Lopez caught three more Maddux starts late in the season (18 IP, 9 ER), taking the season totals for the pair to 5-6, 3.52.

    As Mac said, the problem isn’t the presence of a PC, as it seems (or at least seemed) to have a genuine effect on Maddux’s performance. The problem is the management team that has brought in an endless string of replacement-level players to fill the position since Charlie O’Brien took his average bat to Canada. They only attain a good backup catcher when Lopez blows out a knee or when they dump Kevin Millwood, and they either let him walk (twice) or bury him at AAA.

  9. 9
    Robert Says:

    To say the presence of a PC isn’t a problem is down right comical. When it’s Braves-Giants in Game 6 of NLCS this season and Javy is sitting on the bench, please try to convince me it’s not a problem. Good luck.

    The other issue is one I’ve stated before. Catching is a taxing job. Catching in an Atlanta summer is even more taxing. That’s why you run your backup (read: disposable) catcher out there for all the day games when it’s 110 degrees. It’s to keep your good catcher healthy and strong. Of course, Bobby can not use a common sense rotation for his catchers because of Maddux’s requirements. This is a problem. It’s true the backup doesn’t play any more than normal, but it’s more about when he does play.

    So yes have a sucky backup catcher is a problem, but having a so-so pitcher with a personal catcher is also a problem.

    I would give anything to see Bobby call Maddux into his office and say: “Look, we’ve got a ten game lead and we are going to need Javy’s bat in there in every playoff game. Therefore, Javy is your new personal catcher. Your supposed to be among the smartest pitchers in the game. You’ve got two months to figure out how to work with him.”

    Of course that’s never going to happen.

  10. 10
    Colin Says:

    And, according to Colin and that dastardly retrosheet, Lopez hasn’t caught Maddux in the playoffs in years.

    Almost, yes. Javy has caught individual innings here and there in games where Maddux fell behind early; but Lopez has not been the starting catcher for a Maddux postseason game since, I believe, 1996.

    The only blowup regarding Lopez’s “game-calling” I can remember was from Steve Avery, not Maddux, although I’m sure Maddux complained to Cox and Mazzone in private.

    Seems like there was a game where Maddux gave up two HR to Benito Santiago, maybe one of them a late slam, and he was pissed at Javy about that. Not sure if I’d call it a blowout, but I thik there was friction there.

    O’rien was initially assigned to catch Smoltz way back then because the team thought Smoltz’s control needed a better defensive catcher to prevent wild pitches and the like. But Lopez took over soon thereafter, I forget if that was after Smoltz’s control dramatically improved, or if the two happened about simultaneously.

  11. 11
    Rivers Says:

    Seems like there was a game where Maddux gave up two HR to Benito Santiago, maybe one of them a late slam, and he was pissed at Javy about that. Not sure if I’d call it a blowout, but I thik there was friction there.

    That game can be found here.

  12. 12
    Creg Says:

    I think the reason the Braves brought Blanco in to catch Maddux was that Maddux had so much trouble with people stealing on him and Blanco is obviously one of the best catch-and-throw guys out there. Remember, they gave up Paul Bako to get him (Bako was not a good hitter, either, but he was solid defensively and hit better than Blanco).

    But Blanco hasn’t done Maddux much good in stopping steals, either. Seems like it’s about time to write Maddux’s runner-holding ability off as a lost cause and let Estrada catch him. But inertia’s a powerful thing to change, and it certainly won’t do so as long as the Braves are winning.

  13. 13
    Colin Says:

    Rivers – see, retrosheet ain’t so dastardly after all :-)

  14. 14
    Ken Says:

    In Leo Mazzone’s book he says that Javy doesn’t catch Maddux because Maddux gives the catcher signs about what’s coming “And Javy can’t always pick up the signs”. He then talks about how Maddux’s uncertainty about whether Javy has the sign undermines his effectiveness. Leo doesn’t say when all this came down, but I think we can assume it was the first half of 1996 (per Rivers’ info above).

    The thing that stands out to me is, this happened SEVEN years ago!! By now (even sitting on the bench every fifth game), I would imagine that Javy would know all of the signs, twitches, code words, or gestures that Maddux would use as indicators of the next pitch. He’s probably seen Greg Maddux pitch even more often than I have. Maybe they could have hired Charlie O’Brien to give Javy an informal Maddux 101 class to jump-start the process.

    Enough sarcasm. Bobby’s the best season-long manager in the majors, maybe the best there ever was. Walking the line between having patience and making a change is something I’d like to trust him with, but I get the feeling that he’s letting Maddux run the asylum in this case.

  15. 15
    Andrew Says:

    And for a decade, the inmate running the asylum proved to be one of the very best pitchers in the history of the game. Funny, when you’re dealing with sheer brilliance, it’s pretty easy to make compromises.

  16. 16
    Rivers Says:

    Rivers – see, retrosheet ain’t so dastardly after all :-)

    It’s only dastardly when you’re using it to prove me wrong.

Leave a Reply

© 2018 Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built | Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

GPS Reviews and news from GPS Gazettewordpress logo