Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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

24 Jul

Florida 5, Atlanta 4 (12 innings)

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Marlins at Braves – 07/23/2003

As I’ve mentioned, I really hate it when the team comes back from a big deficit only to lose. Trailing 4-0 in the eighth, the Braves got one run, then three in the ninth. And then went into offensive hibernation, apparently trying to see who could hit the highest popup. And in the twelfth, Mike Mordecai, of all people, hit a solo homer off of Trey Hodges to win the game.

The Braves really didn’t do very much at all before the eighth. The only time they came close to scoring was Vinny’s drive to the wall in the fifth with two on. The Braves wound up with seven hits, nobody with more than one, and five walks. The deeply slumping Rafael Furcal was 0-5 with a walk.

Hampton continues hittable, allowing 11, but at least isn’t walking many. It’s mostly singles, which I suppose you can get away with, unless you’re allowing as many as he is. I don’t understand him. Holmes and Hernandez pitched an inning each, and Smoltz the first two of extra play, without allowing any runs, but Boom-Boom tried his darndest. Hodges actually looked really good in his inning except for the pitch he hung to Mordecai.

Slightly off-topic: The Baseball Tonight dorks — Gammons and Reynolds, in this instance — were all over Jack McKeon for using Ugueth Urbina in the eighth and Braden Looper in the ninth. “You can’t use Urbina to set up Braden Looper!” Leaving aside that the evidence that Urbina is a better pitcher than Looper is scanty at best, if he is, McKeon made absolutely the right move. Mark Redman had allowed his first run of the game and the tying run was at the plate in the person of Chipper when Urbina came on. It was a game situation. And when Urbina got Chipper, it wasn’t anymore. Even Hernandez would hold a three-run lead most of the time.

Day game today, Brad Penny, who probably isn’t coming to Atlanta, against Russ Ortiz. The Phillies won to move back to 9 1/2 out… Current rumors are strong that if the Orioles can’t re-sign Sidney Ponson, he’s going to the Braves.

13 Responses to “Florida 5, Atlanta 4 (12 innings)”

  1. 1
    Rob J. Says:

    Yeah, I thought the BBTN guys were way too animated over that move. Like you said, it was a game situation. It’s just that the close for Florida had one bad inning. Too bad Atlanta didn’t pull it out in the end. But at least this shows they’ll try to come back in a ballgame not out of reach. (Or even seemingly out of reach-see Braves vs. Mets)

    As for Ponson: that could be a good deal, but Rob Neyer’s trade article on espn.com maintains that Atlanta doesn’t really need a starter because you only use four pitchers in the postseason. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t think the Bravos need anything.

  2. 2
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I saw that. He’s wrong. The Braves certainly need middle relief and could use another bench bat, and I don’t have any faith in any of the starters but Ortiz and Maddux.

  3. 3
    Creg Says:

    A few random thoughts:

    Another consideration about the Ponson deal is that Frank Wren, Schuerholz’s assistant, is the former Orioles GM. A deal for Ponson would continue a trend of the Braves making deals with their cronies, with the Orioles joining Tampa Bay (ex Braves exec Chuck LaMar is GM), Milwaukee (where Dean Taylor worked for many years) and Kansas City (where Schuerholz was the boss for a long time).

    Didn’t see Baseball Tonight, but I agree that criticism of McKeon is unfounded. Historically, Looper has killed the Braves. I think Fox SportsSouth’s Bob Rathbun said last night he hadn’t allowed a run to Atlanta in more than two years (obviously, that’s not true anymore).

    But to his discredit, Rathbun made a big deal about Mordecai “coming back to haunt his former teammates.” Mordecai hasn’t played in Atlanta since 1997. I’m sure guys like Smoltz, Chipper and Javy remember playing with him, but it’s not like Cox’s first reaction to the homer was “damn, I wish we had never released a career back-up middle infielder six years ago and replaced him with his virtual clone, Tony Graffanino.”

    Oh, and it looks as if Sheff’s Chefs has sold out. It started out as a bunch of college age guys in chef’s hats with a homemade sign in the right field upper deck. I noticed last night that there is now a printed sign, the chefs hats have a Braves logo and the section is full of 12-year-old kids and their parents. It took the Braves less than a season to suck a neat idea into their corporate net, while the (Randy) Wolf Pack in Philadelphia has remained an independent operation for at least three years.

  4. 4
    MS Says:

    I like Reynolds most of the time. Gammons is never right about anything

  5. 5
    Robert Says:

    After last night I guess I’ve given up on Trey Hodges getting a bigger role on this team. I’ve been his biggest supporter, but even I can’t see a way the Bobby will trust him going forward. Not that I doubt his ability. If you dropped him in a rotation today I think he would be above league average, but there is no way for an off speed pitcher to stay sharp with his stuff when he pitches three innings a week. Impossible.

    Last night was typical. He gets the call in the eleventh and easily disposes of Castillo and IRod. He gets up on Mordecai 0-2 before hanging a slider then makes quick work of Derrek Lee. The stuff is obviously there but without regular work, he’s not going to have a career.

    For his sake I hope they trade him somewhere where he’ll get a chance to pitch every fifth day. He might not be Jason Schmidt but I think the Odalis Perez career path is within reach. Sounds like he should start checking real estate listings in the Baltimore area…

  6. 6
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I wonder if the Orioles will be more careful about what pitching prospects they’d take from the Braves after Luis Rivera. I’m worried about Gammons’ claim that the Braves deal “can’t be matched”, because that sounds like one of the elite prospects — Wainwright or Marte — is included.

    Think Smoltz can go today?

  7. 7
    Aaron Says:

    Yesterday on BBTN Gammons stated that if Ponson is traded that no other team has to offer what Atlanta has to offer. That could be a good thing that we get Ponson or it could be a bad thing of what we’ll be losing.

  8. 8
    MS Says:

    My guess is that maybe part of the package the Braves are offering is Jason Marquis. It does not seem like him and the Braves have worked out. He does not want to do anything besides start and they do not seem like they want to invest a roster spot for him on an everyday basis. He is a lot better than Shane Reynolds (or atleast not worse) so I can see the braves trying to dump him. What do u guys say?

  9. 9
    Creg Says:

    The Baltimore Sun is reporting today that the hold-up to the deal is that the Orioles are insisting on Estrada.

    http://www.sunspot.net/sports/baseball/bal-sp.osnotes24jul24,0,4261249.story?coll=bal-sports-baseball

    I’m no huge fan of Johnny’s, but with Lopez AND Ponson both free-agents-to-be, Atlanta would be crazy to deal Estrada for two months of Ponson.

  10. 10
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I think that the Braves are offering Marquis and Betemit plus a minor league pitcher. I fear that it’s Wainwright and Betemit plus.

  11. 11
    Andrew Says:

    Yesterday was Wednesday. Hodges last pitched on Monday. If he can’t go one day without pitching and still stay sharp, that’s pretty sad.

    It’s also false, of course. Bobby’s usage had nothing to do with Hodges’ failure last night. He made a bad pitch, so bad that even Mike Mordecai could launch it. It happens.

    Since a brilliant May, Hodges put up ERAs of 3.94 in June and now 9.35 in July. (Limited sample for the latter, of course) The scouting reports on Trey always said that he had a tendency to roll through teams the first 1/3 or 1/2 of a year, and then teams would catch up to him.

  12. 12
    Colin Says:

    Rob Neyer’s trade article on espn.com maintains that Atlanta doesn’t really need a starter because you only use four pitchers in the postseason

    Well, I don’t see the Braves liking the front four they have right now for the playoffs. Hampton has an ERA that’s below league average, and Ramirez has started a return to earth. I think they’ll want one more strong starter so they can bump Ramirez to the pen.

    Think Smoltz can go today?

    Good question. 33 pitches last night. Looking back, last year Smoltz had a similar outing in a game – 2IP, 32 pitches, and Cox pitched him the next day, but that’s the only time he’s done that among Smoltz’s 2-inning outings.

    I fear that it’s Wainwright and Betemit plus.

    I think the Braves are treating wainright as untouchable. If the Orioles were turning down Wainright because they want Estrada, that’d be pretty dumb. But, they are the orioles.

  13. 13
    Robert Says:

    Some valid points Andrew, fair enough. I’ve just never been a fan of trying to develop starters by letting them sit in the bullpen all season and throw 65 innings. Sure it saves their arms but they don’t actually get much practice, you know, pitching.

    When your in the pen there can be no heavy bullpen sessions because the next day you may have to go two innings and you don’t want to leave your best stuff in the bullpen. And it’s missing those bullpen sessions that hurts because that’s when you really get to polish your stuff and get good insturction from your coaches. Obviously crucial for a developing young pitcher.

    It’s great to send failed young starters to the pen to try and salvage them a career. It’s useful to send guys to the pen that don’t have the stuff or endurance to get through the order three times. In my opinion neither Hodges nor Bong belong in those two catagories. For those two sakes, I hope then can get some regular work in somewhere before they turn into Terrell Wade.

    I criticized Jason Marquis at the time for being difficult, but he may actually be the smart one of the group. If he gets a chance in Baltimore he should start building a career for himself.

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