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26 Oct

Keltner List: Joe Torre

The Keltner List was developed by Bill James as a device to evaluate a player’s Hall of Fame candidacy. In The Politics of Glory James says that it is probably his favorite tool to do that. (You can read about the background in that book, or do a Google search, for further information.) I’m going to run it for Joe Torre, even though he is going to go into the Hall, as a manager, as soon as they get around to voting on him. While there are several Hall of Famers who are in as players who probably got a boost from their managing career, Torre will probably be the only man voted in as a manager who has a legitimate claim to go in as a player.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

No. He won an MVP in 1971, a legitimate one in my opinion, but that’s not really the same as being considered the best player in the game. He was a good player having a career year.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

No. The biggest star on the Braves during his career was Hank Aaron. On the Cardinals, it was Bob Gibson.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

Torre was the best catcher in the NL in the mid-sixties. I would say that Elston Howard was the best catcher in baseball for much of that time, but Howard faded when Torre was still going strong, so Joe was probably the best in baseball in his Atlanta years, him or Bill Freehan. Torre was probably briefly the best third baseman in the league when he moved to the position, as Ron Santo had faded.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Torre never played on a postseason team. It’s actually kind of remarkable in its way. He joined the Braves, the strongest team in the NL in the late fifties, just as they were sliding to irrelevance. Then he managed to find a dead spot in the Cardinals’ long history of success, at a period when the number of postseason teams was doubled. Okay, then he was with the Mets for a couple of years, so no surprise there. But the Braves, coming off of two second-place finishes following two pennants, finished fourth in Torre’s first year and never higher than fifth after that — before winning the first NL West crown the year after they traded Torre. The Cardinals won the last two pennants in the pre-division system, then finished fourth in the NL East after adding Torre. They were pretty competitive with him, but in his MVP year they finished seven back, even though it was second place. Joe had a good year in 1974, when the Cards lost the division by a game and a half.

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

For a few years. Oddly, Torre’s MVP year, the best season of his career, marks the end of his prime; his numbers (adjusted for the rise in offense) went down and he was playing a less demanding position. He was still a good player for several years after 1971.

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

No, Jeff Bagwell is (among eligibles). Leaving aside steroids era-cases, Torre is in a group with Ron Santo and Ken Boyer and maybe a couple of other contemporaries as candidates. Santo would probably be the Sabermetric favorite of this group. During their time on the ballot, Santo and Torre were generally considered about equal.

7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

The two most-similar players to Torre, statistically, are Bobby Doerr and Ryne Sandberg, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame. One other Hall of Famer, Tony Lazzeri, is also in Torre’s top ten. Most of the players on Torre’s list are, like those three, infielders, particularly second basemen, and not catchers, though two non-candidates (BJ Surhoff and Todd Zeile) started off as catchers before changing positions.

8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Torre meets 40 percent of Hall of Fame Standards, on the low side but higher than several Hall of Famers, particularly catchers; he finished at 96 on the Hall of Fame Monitor, four points short of likely induction. His Black Ink Score of 12 is well below the Hall of Fame average, but it’s hard for a catcher to lead the league. Yogi Berra’s Black Ink Score was zero.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Torre got a bit of a park effect bonus when moving to Atlanta, including a career high 36 homers in his first year in the Launching Pad. On the other hand, his stats were immediately afterward deflated by the offensive malaise taking over the major leagues at the time.

Not a statistical point, but Torre being moved off of catcher was less because of defense than because the Cardinals had a young catcher (Ted Simmons) coming up and because they wanted to keep Torre’s bat in the lineup as much as possible. He wasn’t a great catcher, but he was good enough to win a Gold Glove in 1965.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

Considering him as a catcher, probably so; the only other player I would think might be ahead of him is Simmons but I think you’d need a lot of special pleading. This connects to the whole Torre Hall of Fame case. It’s all because he’s considered a catcher; as a third baseman, he’s borderline and clearly behind Santo, Boyer, and Evans, and as a first baseman he’s not in the same zip code. Torre played more catcher than anywhere else, but less than half of his career games at the position, and had his career year as a third baseman.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

He won an MVP in 1971, one vote short of unanimously. It was a career year and a bit of a fluke, as he hit .363 to lead the league, also leading in RBI, hits, and total bases. On the other hand, it wasn’t that big of a fluke and the previous year is almost as impressive — second in the league in batting average and leading the league in games played even though he caught 90 games, starting 88 — I doubt anyone’s ever done anything quite like that. He finished fifth in the voting in 1964, and his 1966 is an MVP-type season though he drew little support on a poor team.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go into the Hall of Fame?

Torre was on nine All-Star teams, starting four times and backing up twice as a catcher, and starting twice and backing up once as a third baseman. That’s a good total, a strong argument in his favor that for a time he was one of the best.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

I think so. Certainly the 1971 version, but he had other strong years where if he had been surrounded by enough good players he could have been the star on a winner. Things just never broke his way.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

The position switch probably encouraged some more experimentation in that direction, but it wasn’t anything new as such.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Yes, other than an embarrassing stint managing the Yankees.

Conclusion:

I think Torre should be in the Hall of Fame already. He has a variation on a problem that a number of borderline candidates have had; he doesn’t have any one great strength to hang his cap on, but a lot of lesser strengths, magnified by being a multi-position player. He also had the misfortune of playing much of his career in the sixties when offense was down; a lot of players with Hall of Fame ability were a lot less able to overcome that era than Torre was.

175 Responses to “Keltner List: Joe Torre”

  1. 1
    Smitty Says:

    He gets in, but probably based more so on managing

  2. 2
    cliff Says:

    Just GREAT to see mac’s production coming back.

    Torre for Cepeda. Just another stupid Braves trade.

  3. 3
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Best player-coach combos… MLB, Torre, NBA Lenny Wilkens, NFL Mike Ditka, at least among moderns. Hard to say how good of players some of those pioneers were. I know nothing about hockey.

  4. 4
    Johnny Says:

    I always look at the player’s career after you do a Keltner list on him. Torre was hell of a player. But I agree he’ll get in becuase of his managing career.

  5. 5
    JonathanF Says:

    “Best player-coach combos… MLB, Torre, NBA Lenny Wilkens, NFL Mike Ditka, at least among moderns.” Frank Robinson? Better Player and probably worse manager, but I don’t know exactly how you compare a guy who managed the Yankees with a guy who managed the Expos/Nats. What’s your metric for adding the two? Pythagorean somehow?

    Torre was one of my favorite players when the Braves showed up in ’66. (My favorites were Carty and Alou.) You wouldn’t know it to look at him now, but he was fat back then. My uncle used to say that the only way he could steal second was if you put a pizza on it, and he’d slide in, open mouth first. (That’s what passed for humor in 1966.)

  6. 6
    sansho1 Says:

    Good analysis. I enjoyed the mention of Bill Freehan, who, like many great Tigers, has been given short shrift by history. At the time of Freehan’s retirement, every player ahead of him on the career games caught list was in the HOF or would eventually be inducted except for Jim Hegan. He was an 11-time All-Star and a 5-time Gold Glover, and was throwing in 20 HRs a year back when that actually meant something.

  7. 7
    Smitty Says:

    @2

    Amen. Another great write up

  8. 8
    Rusty S. Says:

    Point 15 is classic.

  9. 9
    DowneasterJC Says:

    I can’t add anything regarding the topic, but I just picked up Hugh Laurie’s album Let Them Talk and it’s pretty good. His singing voice isn’t anything to write about, but it’s all good loungy, swingy blues if you’re into that sort of thing.

  10. 10
    Jeff M. Says:

    On point 15… Didn’t Torre also manage the Mets for a brief interlude?

  11. 11
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Yes, he was actually briefly a player-manager.

  12. 12
    spike Says:

    His singing voice isn’t anything to write about, but it’s all good loungy, swingy blues if you’re into that sort of thing.

    It’s not, but I am. Very interesting – thanks. His song choices are pretty good. Far better than other would be actors cum bluesmen I can think of.

  13. 13
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Hugh Laurie can do anything he wants, apparently.

  14. 14
    Stu Says:

    Does he want to play left field?

  15. 15
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    John McGraw might be another candidate for the list of Hall of Fame managers who have a case as a player, especially in our sabermetric age. He was freakishly good at getting on base, and his playing career was chiefly limited by how good of a manager he was — he basically became a full-time manager by 30, and though he inserted himself as a player a handful of times a year, he likely would have racked up a lot more counting stats if another skipper had the time to pencil him in AND manage the rest of the game.

  16. 16
    OneEye Says:

    As a player – probably
    As a manager – heck yeah

  17. 17
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Point 15 is Classic Thomason.

    Favorite Joe Torre story:
    In the Series versus the Mets; a Braves favorite, Denny Neagle on the mound for the Yankees in game 4.
    Neagle had a 3-2 lead in the fifth, with Piazza coming up.
    Piazza had aleady taken him deep in the game; Cone was warmed up. No one on base.
    But Neagle had blasted the Yanks organization earlier that year. He’d been 0-2, with a 4.50 ERA in the playoffs.
    “I’d done my job,” Denny said. “I’m a victim of poor run support.”
    One out short of 5 innings complete, the only way Neagle gets a World Series win, Torre walks out and replaces him with Cone. If you want to see what shock looks like; find that video of Denny.
    “If something bad had happened, I never would have been able to forgive myself,” said Torre. Yanks win, Go up 3-1 for Series.

    Joe Torre, the Yankee manager, in charge that night.

  18. 18
    JonathanF Says:

    @17: In charge, sure. But the move I’ll never forget (and it will seem appropriately Fredi-esque lo these many years later) was opening day, 1983. Torre had managed the Braves to a first place finish, only to lose to the Cardinals in a playoffs involving losing Phil Niekro to a rain shortened non-game (which I’m sure still bothered him when he decided to cancel the game yesterday.) Opening day 1983 with the defending NL West champs. leadoff batter, Brett Butler, doubles. now it’s the first game of the frickin’ year and the first batter doubles. Who the heck would bunt in the first inning of the first game of the season? Joe Torre (and Fredi Gonzalez). Bill James had published an essay on Torre’s overuse of the bunt and it was just one of those moments you don’t forget. (Butler did score on a Claudell Washington SF, but the Braves lost by 1.) http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/ATL/1983-schedule-scores.shtml

  19. 19
    sansho1 Says:

    Who the heck would bunt in the first inning of the first game of the season?

    In for a dime, in for a dollar.

  20. 20
    JonathanF Says:

    I assume you’re being flip, sansho1, but isn’t it just vaguely possible that the starting pitcher in the first game of the season doesn’t quite have command of his stuff yet in the first inning? Isn’t it a little bit premature to begin wasting outs?

    That’s what great about the (Braves) offseason. I can actually talk about a 28 year old play and find people crazy enough to discuss it with me.

  21. 21
    cliff Says:

    To add to the list of basball “good enough as a player (at least almost) and good enough as a manager (at least almost)” I would propose Felipe Alou.

    Alou doesn’t have quite the managerial background for winning that the other Hall guys have, but he didn’t get his shot until he was something like 56 years old. He is a better Manager candidate than Robinson to me, anyway.

  22. 22
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Felipe Alou, to me, represents the ceiling of “good player, no sort of Hall of Fame candidate”.

  23. 23
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Torre was beaned in 1967, had an off year, and had a run-in with Paul Richards, the Braves GM at the time. You didn’t do things like that in those pre-free agent days. Richards basically ran Torre out of Atlanta, but also the injury affected his play for a couple of years, otherwise his stats might be better.

    Torre was fat and then went on a conditioning program after he left the Braves and became amazingly swelt with the Cardinals. During those days of polyester skin tight uniforms, he managed to look ok with the Cards.

    I like Torre a lot but when I was a kid, he was my Atlanta cousin’s favorite player and my cousin was pretty much a dick whenever he would come visit. My friends hated him and, by extension, Joe Torre, so we once held a card burning ceremony and burned Joe Torre’s card. Fortunately, I guess, it doesn’t a whole lot of value. I’m glad my cousin didn’t like Honus Wagner.

  24. 24
    sansho1 Says:

    I just mean it seems an illustration of the idea that, if he’s committed to a particular philosophy, he might as well go all the way with it, circumstances be damned.

  25. 25
    Mac Thomason Says:

    ’68 Braves had Torre, Alou, and Dusty Baker. Not a bad set of future managers. Also Walt Hriniak if you need a hitting coach.

  26. 26
    sansho1 Says:

    Hriniak would appear to have met Charlie Lau during Braves 1967 spring training. Lau came to Atlanta that season to serve as a pinch hitter, but had had a long career as a catcher, which was also longtime Braves farmhand Hriniak’s primary position.

  27. 27
    Mark Grogan Says:

    @20 -Jonathan,

    The #2 hitter was Rafael Ramirez. That answers the question about why bunt, and opens the question, why is Ramirez batting second? 1982, Ramirez vs. Soto: 2 for 16.

  28. 28
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Depends on what you mean be “no sort of HOF candidate.” If you mean “it’s not even worth considering if he’s a HOFer” then yeah. If you mean “the line where the HOF cuts off” then that would be Dale Murphy. My “Keltner list” is a lot shorter than the Keltner list.

    1. Is this player better than Dale Murphy?

    If yes, HOFer. If no, not a HOFer.

  29. 29
    JonathanF Says:

    @27: Mark, I knew someone was going to bring that up. Ramirez was obviously put into the second spot mostly to bunt Butler up. (Or to sit around twiddling his thumbs taking strikes while Butler stole.) And if Butler had hit a single I still wouldn’t agree with you, but it would be a lot closer call. But Butler was on second. Ramirez could certainly handle the bat well enough to try and move the runner up, and might have gotten a hit in the process. Retrosheet says that the *successful* bunt increased Cincinnati’s chances by 1 percent. No risk of a double play… I’m still not buying it. In any case, I bring it up mostly to show that the guys who are hard on Fredi’s bunting (albeit in a different era) haven’t seen a modern day bunting fanatic like Torre. He only gave it up with the Yankees because he wasn’t insane.

  30. 30
    Mark Grogan Says:

    I don’t post much, but between Mac returning with a Keltner discussion, and a chance to run through old box scores, I couldn’t pass up the chance. A few years ago I researched the number of times Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz pitched consecutively against one team in a series. It wasn’t often.

    Keep fighting, Mac. You are an important part of many, many lives.

  31. 31
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    According to rWAR, Felipe Alou and Moises Alou had nearly identical career value: 39.7 WAR for Felipe, 38.2 for Moises. Remarkable.

  32. 32
    Smitty Says:

    Im going to spend Christmas in DC. Pumped

  33. 33
    ububba Says:

    During his press conference today, TLR really had a takedown of “Moneyball.”

    Also, an interesting aside from Ron Washington during his presser: “I’m certainly not going to go out there and try to outsmart the game of baseball.”

    It wasn’t really directed at TLR, but I couldn’t help but go there.

    #29
    Torre really was bunt-crazy in ’82–Braves had about 14 more successful sacs than the NL average. In ’83, the Braves were right at the NL average.

    Also, Torre’s 1st Yankee team actually bunted a decent amount (41 times, right at AL average), but it often seemed to be Girardi, Jeter (who batted 9th a lot) & Andy Fox doing it.

  34. 34
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    In the fourth inning, the Rangers just got a single and reached on two different Cardinal errors, and only came away with one run.

    Of course, if they were the Braves they’d have left the bases loaded without scoring.

  35. 35
    John R. Says:

    Ron Washington’s exuberance in the dugout leads me to bring up the topic of managerial comportment: When your team is scoring runs or getting outs, how do you rate Washington-style extravagance, Bobby-like stoicism. One bad, neither bad, prefer something in the middle? Just curious what others think.

  36. 36
    ububba Says:

    Doesn’t bother me. Everybody’s different. His players have said that they like his enthusiasm & I don’t think he’s showing up the other club.

  37. 37
    ububba Says:

    OK, bases loaded—time for the grand-slam error…

  38. 38
    spike Says:

    This is just about the shittiest WS game I’ve ever seen

  39. 39
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I’m not watching, just listening, but it sounds like this is one of those games where both teams are trying as hard as they can not to win. This just sounds like an execration.

  40. 40
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Wow. Freese is unconscious right now, but it is inexcusable that the Rangers let them tie it up.

  41. 41
    spike Says:

    well it’s tied in the 9th now.

  42. 42
    JonathanF Says:

    Starting to remind me of the 6th game in ’91. It would behoove the Rangers to win this game.

    [edit] OK… THAT definitely didn’t remind me of the 6th game in ’91.

  43. 43
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    And Hamilton, who looked like he could barely move for most of the series, just has a Kirk Gibson moment.

  44. 44
    spike Says:

    Ugh. This is never going to end.

  45. 45
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I wonder if Rangers fans feel the same way about Ron Washington’s bullpen management that we feel about Fredi.

  46. 46
    spike Says:

    Well, they didn’t give up a double! Success!

  47. 47
    JoeyT Says:

    I know it’s Pujols and everything, but having a RHP walk a right handed hitter, who represents the winning run, to pitch to switch-hitting Lance Berkman is one of those calls I wouldn’t have made.

  48. 48
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I probably would intentionally walk Pujols… but I also would probably bring in C.J. Wilson. I mean, why the hell not?

  49. 49
    JonathanF Says:

    Mark Lowe = Charlie Leibrandt

  50. 50
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I still don’t understand how the Rangers managed to lose that, but by God, Ron Washington was determined to do it.

  51. 51
    sdp Says:

    I could have done that.

  52. 52
    Adam R Says:

    I’m sure Nolan’s practicing his headlocks as we speak.

  53. 53
    Mike N. Says:

    If they got Wilson warming up so early in the 11th why didn’t they just start the inning with him?

  54. 54
    Nick Says:

    Well, if nothing else, that supplants the Chipper losing the groundball in the lights game as the worst beat of the year.

  55. 55
    kc Says:

    Lance Berkman. What a signing by the Cards. We could have used such a bat.

  56. 56
    Smitty Says:

    This has been a great World Series, really one of the better ones in recent memeory. It is good for the game.

  57. 57
    JoeyT Says:

    If Harrison pulls off an amazing performance, look for a long offseason full of articles like this

    http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20111023/SPORTS/110230323/Rangers-still-benefit-from-Teixeira-trade

  58. 58
    John R. Says:

    If the Cards win, it makes our ’11 collapse more pronounced. Any discussion of the 2011 Cardinals will begin with a long explication of how they overcame the Braves for the Wild Card. Which we deserve, I suppose.

  59. 59
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    That game was uglier than Don Mossi in drag. Somewhere, Tom Emanski is crying.

  60. 60
    Adam M Says:

    @59

    And yet sites like fangraphs are aglow with praise for baseball and sports and all things competitive. Am I crazy in thinking that bad managing and poor defense does not a great game make?

    Also, if we put JoeyT and John R.’s posts together, we can see that the Braves are largely responsible for getting both of these teams to the World Series. As everyone else celebrates this “amazing” baseball season, I just want to forget it ever happened. Ugh.

  61. 61
    Gaz Says:

    Mark Lowe = Scott Linebrink

  62. 62
    Nick Says:

    Well, when you have what’s pretty clearly the greatest finish in World Series history, it’s gonna cover up how ugly the game was over the first six innings. And no, bad managing doesn’t really affect how great a game is in the eyes of most people. In fact, you can argue that bad managing makes a game more intriguing because you can argue about it later. In any case, that game was very good for baseball because it was on a night where nothing much was going on, so after the intrigue of the other night, they probably pulled a big rating out of it. Assuming people stayed around for the end, they might have even gained a few new fans. The general public is not particularly sabermetrically inclined, and will not care that the Rangers bullpen managing was sub-optimal.

  63. 63
    Adam M Says:

    @62 Except the sabr crowd loved the game. I didn’t.

  64. 64
    RobBroad4th Says:

    One of the strangest games I’ve ever seen. As far as WS go, this is up there with the Dback-Yankee series for me. Can’t think of one I’ve enjoyed (let alone watched) as much as that one in a while.

    I have a lot of Ranger and Cardinal fans as friends on Facebook. My news feed exploded with emotion last night.

  65. 65
    spike Says:

    @63, the sabr crowd loved the excitement, but hated the managing and general play – at least that’s what I got out of following the chat at BBTF during the game. Washington was getting slagged regularly and often.

  66. 66
    Smitty Says:

    @64

    I agree. It was fun to watch

    @65

    He should. He probably cost them a championship.

  67. 67
    Marc Schneider Says:

    It’s ridiculous. It was a great game–it drives me nuts people nitpicking. Yes, there were errors and poor play but that actually made the game more exciting. Some of the games that people consider great reall weren’t that good except for one moment. What was so great about the Kirk Gibson game until he hit the home run? The Sid Bream game was boring-at least for Braves fans=until the 9th.

    This was one of the best games I ever saw. Who gives a damn what the Sabr crowd thinks?

  68. 68
    Smitty Says:

    @67

    Also true. It is a game. It should be fun to watch

  69. 69
    spike Says:

    It was an exciting game. A great game? Depends on how you much you value excitement I suppose. I like to see games decided on great plays, not botched ones, but that is a completely subjective opinion.

  70. 70
    Dusty Says:

    Was a great game maybe even an all-time game. Some seem to be calling it the all-time game and think that’s what some have an issue with.

    Personally, a slugfest always gets knocked down a notch for me as it just feels a little cheaper, kind of like a football shootout where you know whoever has the ball last will win.

  71. 71
    mikemc Says:

    There is room for excitement in baseball. That’s the beauty of the game. It’s not just a script where the pitcher gets a ground ball and it’s over. Remember the Braves missed the playoffs this year because the 3rd baseman lost a groundball in the lights. Shit happens. Everywhere.

  72. 72
    csg Says:

    The Braves missed the playoffs due to their little league hitting abilities. Its amazing how great the piching was this season, outside of Proctor and Lowe.

  73. 73
    Smitty Says:

    Why is Washington not starting Wilson tonight?

  74. 74
    spike Says:

    Wilson’s on 3 days rest.

  75. 75
    sansho1 Says:

    Call me crazy, but I think the Rangers have the starting pitcher advantage tonight. Short rest can turn a great pitcher (or a very good one with an aura of greatness, like Carpenter) into a below-average pitcher. It’s happened many, many times. Starting Harrison instead of Wilson is the right call, I believe.

  76. 76
    spike Says:

    ooooh. Holliday to the DL. Chambers up. This is gonna be a weird game.

    /edit: and Wilson obviously is the first guy in there before the 8th.

  77. 77
    Dusty Says:

    I would’ve brough Harrison in last night and saved Holland for tonight, but oh well.

  78. 78
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    No game with five errors can be said to be “great.”

  79. 79
    csg Says:

    Lance Berkman and Jayson Stark disagree. Well, them, and plenty others.

  80. 80
    csg Says:

    Hanson and Medlen avoided Super 2 status

  81. 81
    ryan c Says:

    @80
    Isn’t Medlen arb-eligible this year anyway?

  82. 82
    Smitty Says:

    You start Wilson on short rest. He can rest all winter.

  83. 83
    Adam R Says:

    Games don’t have to be well played to be great. Surely, an immaculately played game is an avenue to greatness, but it could also be utterly unmemorable.

    When you think about it, for the purposes of enjoyment, why distinguish fielding errors from mislocated pitches or poorly executed swings? None of the above is intentional, all are certainly signs of imperfection. Just where you draw the line.

  84. 84
    csg Says:

    @81 – Is he? I thought if he avoided super two status that it would delay the arb process until after 2012.

  85. 85
    sansho1 Says:

    @82

    Your use of the second person there is positively Fredi-esque.

    Wilson had a 2.94 ERA this season, but his postseason ERA is over 6. Meanwhile, Harrison had a 3.39 ERA this season, and his postseason ERA is around 5. He’s a good pitcher, and he’s on regular rest. Your bumper sticker sloganeering notwithstanding, it’s not a difficult decision.

  86. 86
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Agree with Adam R.

    All I know is that this game has energized people that normally don’t care about baseball. People in my office are talking about the game that don’t even like baseball. This is the kind of game that gets people excited about the sport.

    I was stunned at the end of the game. Obviously, it was poorly-played at times, but even that made it interesting. This nitpicking about how to define “great” is sort of silly.

  87. 87
    Spike Says:

    Nobody here nitpicked any thing, and I specifically said it was completely subjective. Who are you addressing this to?

  88. 88
    Adam M Says:

    This nitpicking about how to define “great” is sort of silly.

    By that you apparently mean “those who disagree with me about the greatness of the game are being silly.” Because, like spike said, nobody is picking any nits. A couple of people have disagreed about what constitutes a great game, but that hardly qualifies as nitpicking. It qualifies as disagreement over whether or not it was a great game. If I’m nitpicking, then by your own definition so are you.

    I’ll take it a step further: I was invested in the Rangers winning, and therefore did not enjoy the game. It was an ugly game full of misplays and managerial miscues; meanwhile, one of the teams I most loathe won. I did not find it great or particularly enjoyable as a result.

  89. 89
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I have some minor good news — the doctor running the trial in Philly has agreed to see me. It doesn’t mean that I’m in, or that it will do any good — but it’s a first step.

  90. 90
    justhank Says:

    That is very good news. May it continue.

    Uh, you’re not gonna let a Vandy guy do the SEC picks, are you?

  91. 91
    spike Says:

    Fingers crossed for you, sir.

  92. 92
    JoeyT Says:

    @89, just don’t mention you run a Braves blog.

  93. 93
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Opening the picks for the week before the game of the century of the year to the floor.

  94. 94
    Coop Says:

    God bless, Mac.

  95. 95
    ububba Says:

    Greetings from Asheville, NC…

    So, I’m in the hotel gift shop & the clerk, an older guy, is telling a story to a customer, a younger guy.

    “Back then, I worked for the phone company in West Palm Beach. This was back in the days when the Braves and Expos shared the spring training facilities. So I go in there one day to do a job, to install some cable. I have to run it in the ceiling and the walls through the whole place. I’m there after the games are done, say, 5 pm, and I’m finishing up this one last room, which is empty.

    “All of a sudden, I feel a tug on my leg, I look down and it’s Bobby Cox. He sees my nametag and he says, ‘Hey Don, when you’re done, why don’t you join us in the next room. We still have a spread of food in there. C’mon over.’

    “I mean, what a guy! He didn’t have to do that, but that’s the way he was, treating the working guy like a king.”

    I bought that tube of travel toothpaste with a tear in my eye.

    And Mac, let’s hope that’s the minor start to a major comeback.

  96. 96
    CourtneyC Says:

    Former Braves trade fodder is leadin off, starting on the mound, and closing for the Rangers in game 7 of the World Series. All from one move. Discuss.

  97. 97
    JoeyT Says:

    Trust me, it’s been discussed.

  98. 98
    Smitty Says:

    Yeah, starting Harrison was a good idea

  99. 99
    Ryan c Says:

    Ron Washington has now issued 9 Ibb on the World Series after only issuing 21 during the entire regular season.

  100. 100
    Big D Says:

    I don’t get it either, Smitty. Harrison, who was terrible earlier in the Series, instead of Holland, who pitched a gem in his earlier start.

    A few things that really bother me:

    1 — Obviously, the fact that the Cards only made the playoffs because of the Braves’ epic collapse. But also the fact that St. Louis, a mere 5 yrs ago, won the WS with 83(!) wins. So I’m tired of them having postseason success despite mediocre regular seasons.

    2 — The Cardinals get home-field advantage despite having the worst record of all playoff teams. That’s just stupid.

    3 — The rain delay that pushed back games 6/7 a day, and allowed them to start Carpenter (albeit on short rest, but he pitched well), instead of being stuck with some combination of Jackson/Lohse/Westbrook.

    And I hate TLR. But that goes without saying.

  101. 101
    JoeyT Says:

    Yeah, but the delay also allowed the Rangers to start CJ Wilson on short rest. So both teams had a roughly equal advantage; the Rangers just elected to not utilize it.

  102. 102
    Smitty Says:

    They blew five leads last night. I think Washington is that guy who bet on the Cards at 999-1 odds.

  103. 103
    Adam R Says:

    @100, Agree about home field advantage and TLR, but you don’t give the Cardinals enough credit. I’m a Braves fan first, and I want the Rangers to win, but the Cards had to win all those games to gain the ground we ceded. It’s been a remarkable run, and they deserve it.

  104. 104
    Smitty Says:

    @103

    They did win a bunch of games at the end

  105. 105
    Big D Says:

    The Cards certainly did their part. And maybe the delay isn’t as big a deal as I thought. I just want them to lose, and for their fans to be disappointed. Maybe I -am- still bitter. And yeah, Texas had all the opportunities you could ask for last night. Playoff baseball…it so rarely seems to make sense.

  106. 106
    Adam R Says:

    I’m bitter too. Whenever I feel like showing it, I think about how Wren likes to make his offseason moves early on. I have confidence in him. I feel like things will be better soon.

  107. 107
    spike Says:

    That one sure won’t go down as one of the great ones. Gotta hand to Carp for pulling it together, but Wash bunting in the first sure did let him off the hook a bit.

  108. 108
    Ryan c Says:

    Dear Cardinals,
    You’re welcome.

    Not sincerely,
    Braves

  109. 109
    sansho1 Says:

    Gah, freaking Cardinals. If they were a car, it would be a Camry. If they were a movie, it would be The King’s Speech. If they were a band, it would be the Eagles.

  110. 110
    justhank Says:

    I bet Nolan is about this far from getting a new manager. You know he is fuming.

    Not really Washington’s fault, but you can’t cut all your pitchers, can you?

  111. 111
    Kevin Lee Says:

    @109 Are these bad things?

  112. 112
    justhank Says:

    Oh, and Ken Rosenthal was wearing his PeeWee Herman costume last night.

  113. 113
    justhank Says:

    ububba – great story about Cox. Yet another example of how great a place this is.

    So, is this the year of the Dawg?

    Hope Murray does what LSU did – jump pass for a touchdown. Might lead to a full-scale riot.

  114. 114
    kc Says:

    Fantastic, Feliz blown the championship for the Rangers and Harrison had two losses in the world series including game 7. Precisely the way I want it.

    Charlie Manuel deserves a world series ring.

  115. 115
    Dan Says:

    If the Braves could have won all of two mores game, say some of those late-season blown saves by Kimbrel, the “world champions” would never have even been in the playoffs.

  116. 116
    Adam M Says:

    If Charlie Manuel deserves a world series ring, then Ron Washington deserves his own float in the parade.

  117. 117
    sansho1 Says:

    @111

    No, they’re just glossy and boring. I say this as a Camry owner. Also, it was logic born of some pain medication I was on after (minor) surgery yesterday morning….

  118. 118
    spike Says:

    Besides it was Friday night, when no decent man ought be fully sober.

  119. 119
    Ray Says:

    So, do the Braves get World Series shares?
    Regardless of the Braves collapse, it has been a great season and a fascinating WS with a deserving winner. The Cards though aren’t much better than the Braves, so if front office, coaches, manager and the players do their job, the Braves could be next years Cardinals. Her’s hoping for a good offseason and a real leftfielder (not much on the market though, so they need to trade)

  120. 120
    spike Says:

    And today I have to root for Lane Kiffin to beat Stanford. Things are not getting any better.

    Vandy looking good at halftime though.

  121. 121
    DJ Says:

    Wow, Vandy looked Kentucky-esque there at the end.

  122. 122
    Stu Says:

    Nah, more like 1950-2010-Vandy-esque.

    Still, it took a real meltdown to lose to a top-10 team. Franklin is the real deal, and we’re gonna be pretty good, pretty soon.

  123. 123
    Big D Says:

    Sooooo close to beating both UGA and Arkansas. Coach Franklin has them at 4-4 with those 2 very close losses to good teams, with a roster of mostly inherited players. I’m excited to think what he can do once he gets to work with more of his “own” players.

  124. 124
    Spike Says:

    Georgia is not looking very good.

  125. 125
    justhank Says:

    I didn’t really realize it until watching this game, but if Richt loses this one, he needs to go. And I’m an admirer of Richt and a fan of another team, but you can’t keep putting up with the same nonsense.

  126. 126
    Stu Says:

    Sooooo close to beating both UGA and Arkansas. Coach Franklin has them at 4-4 with those 2 very close losses to good teams, with a roster of mostly inherited players. I’m excited to think what he can do once he gets to work with more of his “own” players.

    And with a roster that was 4-20 over the past two seasons, he’s two plays away from being 6-2. It became apparent pretty quickly that Franklin could recruit, but nobody had any idea what a good coach he is (or what a good staff he’s assembled). There are three extremely winnable games remaining.

    Add to that, I have it on good authority that the administration is soon to announce an unprecedented (at VU) financial commitment to the football program. Better times are ahead.

  127. 127
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I’m a Camry owner too. I like my Camry and the film The King’s Speech much more than I like the (Don Henley) Eagles or St. Louis Cardinals.

    So here’s a proposition: the Cardinals have just overtaken the 1997-2003 Marlins for overall annoyingness.

    Agree or disagree?

  128. 128
    spike Says:

    I can forgive the Cardinals for taking advantage of the Braves ineptitude. I can’t forgive Eric Gregg, much as it pains me to say so

  129. 129
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Who thinks that the Bulldogs should go after Franklin after this season?

  130. 130
    Stu Says:

    I would be a lot of money that Franklin’s not going anywhere after this season.

  131. 131
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Richt Era off life support, still in ICU.

    My secret dark-horse candidate for UGA is Tommy Tuberville, actually.

  132. 132
    Trace Says:

    Say what you want about Richt but if Walsh kicks like he did last year, then we’d only have one loss.

  133. 133
    Trace Says:

    YES!!! GO YOU HAIRY DAWGS!

  134. 134
    csg Says:

    Still think Kirby Smart gets the UGA job if available

  135. 135
    sansho1 Says:

    Dawgs put the screws to ‘em on defense in the second half. Good pass rush, good downfield coverage. Brantley was not right, but whatever. Rare bragging rights, and we’ll take it. Meanwhile, the demise of the kicking game is an utter mystery.

  136. 136
    Marc Schneider Says:

    @88,

    Adam M,

    You are right and I apologize.

  137. 137
    braves14 Says:

    Lane Kiffin is a douche.

  138. 138
    Mike N. Says:

    GO JACKETS! Lost in all the pandemonium from tonight is the fact that Case Keenum threw 9 Touchdowns.

  139. 139
    ububba Says:

    Go-o-o Dawgs.

    Good amount of UGA folk here in Asheville this weekend & it felt a lot like home watching that game at The Bier Garden downtown. Ugly game, but we’ll take it any way we can get it. (I was just happy that we quit kicking to them because I was never much afraid of their offense today.) Still, coming back from a 17-3 deficit in Jax is no small thing. Helluva win.

    For the moment, Richt’s safe—as long as he doesn’t get swept by Auburn & Tech.

  140. 140
    Adam M Says:

    I didn’t watch much of the Dawgs yesterday, but what I saw told me two things: they were the better team, and their offensive playcalling was atrocious.

    The third thing, I guess, was that the D is finally good again.

    Marc – no worries. It was of course an exciting game. But I’ve been made bitter by the Braves collapse and La Russa’s latest success. Thank goodness the offseason is here.

  141. 141
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Adam, you’ve said the way I feel a lot more eloquently than I could.

    Mac, thanks for continuing to post updates.

  142. 142
    Rusty S. Says:

    @139 – I live about 30 miles from Asheville, and there are probably more UGA, Tennessee and Clemson fans here than UNC fans… during football season.

  143. 143
    spike Says:

    137, Kiffin was kind enough to both lose and show that Stanford ain’t all that.

  144. 144
    spike Says:

    Braves FA list from MLBPA –

    Atlanta Braves
    Gonzalez, Alex
    Linebrink, Scott
    McLouth, Nate
    Sherrill, George
    Wilson, Jack

    Guess we didn’t pick up that option.

    Full list:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/mets/post/_/id/36261/official-free-agency-list

  145. 145
    mravery Says:

    Shoulda stopped by yesterday. What an ugly game in Jacksonville. I don’t really understand how limited Brantley was, but the playcalling by Weis was horrendous. The lack of runs just boggled my mind. I don’t think the Gators ran it on first down once. Credit Georgia for recognizing what Florida was doing and basically shutting down Florida’s offense after the first two or three drives of the game. And I guess credit the offense for doing the absolute bare minimum to eek out a win. Given how poorly the QB and receivers were playing, I’m surprised they didn’t run it more (it seemed moderately effective). I guess guys were getting open, it’s just that they were dropping it or the ball wasn’t getting there.

    I really didn’t think Florida was going to lose this, and I’m really disappointed in the result. Florida just isn’t a good football team without a healthy John Brantley and a functioning running game.

  146. 146
    kc Says:

    @127 I don’t agree. It’s probably not fair but the Marlins were not supposed to win so soon. Except Tony LaRussa, I don’t have much issue with the Cards. If you had a chance to own Pujols in your fantasy league team in the past years, it’s even harder to hate the guy. Pujols is a great player. This year, they got very lucky with Berkman and, of course, us and Phillies helping them out. Imagine next year when they have Wainwright back. Man, it kills me everytime I type Wainwright’s name.

  147. 147
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Every time I start to feel sorry for myself as a sports fan, the Redskins are there to comfort me.

    Losing 23-0 to the Bills, the first shutout of Shanahan’s career, and their quarterback got sacked 9 times.

    My goodness.

  148. 148
    kc Says:

    @147 In order for us to be like the Redskins, we need a very rich owner first…but we will never have that.

  149. 149
    Smitty Says:

    I hate to say it, but Dooley is in the running for 11 best coach in the SEC.

    Things like:
    -Having to call timeout to get the long snapper on the field.
    -Unable to adjust to a team that is only running three diffrent plays.
    -Rotating punters, for no reason at all.

    I just hope James Franklin can fine- tune his coaching ablity over the next two seasons so he will be ready to take over.

    (Franklin is the Bruce Pearl of football, minus the BBQs.)

  150. 150
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Thanks, Alex, this has really been a great year for teams I root for. Maybe it has something to do with offensive team nicknames. It’s funny, on the local Comcast Sports Net here they have interviews with the players after the game–it can’t be much fun after a loss. Maybe that’s why they have a hot blonde doing the interviews. I doubt anyone would have wanted to talk otherwise.

    As for the Cardinals, I like them generally. The only thing I had against them this year is the come out of nowhere, have one good month, get hot at the right time and go all the way. I don’t hate them for beating out the Braves–they are supposed to try to win and the Braves are more responsible than anyone else. But the playoffs increasingly make the regular season sort of meaningless. There really is no point in trying to put together a great team because, once the playoffs start, anyone can win. And it will get worse when they institute the new format and you have an 83 win team beating a 92 win team in a one game playoff.

  151. 151
    Stu Says:

    There is literally a 0% chance that Franklin would leave VU for UT.

  152. 152
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Tony LaRussa retired last night.

  153. 153
    Smitty Says:

    @151

    I wouldn’t say 0%, but I was more making a joke than anything.

  154. 154
    justhank Says:

    Stu must feel like I did when, as a freshman, I’d bring an attractive girl to the frat house.
    —————–

    TLR – first ballot HoF, right?

  155. 155
    spike Says:

    @152, well that’s it for Albert as Cardinal then.

    154 – the managerial procedure is a little different than the player one –

    http://bizofbaseball.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4562:baseball-hall-of-fame-alters-procedures-to-consider-managers-umps-execs-and-long-retired-players&catid=30:mlb-news&Itemid=42

  156. 156
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    LaRussa, gods damn his soul to the hell of waving flags for eternity, was a first ballot HOFer already.

  157. 157
    Mac Thomason Says:

    BaseballAmerica.com: Prospects: Rankings: Organization Top 10 Prospects: 2012 Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects.

  158. 158
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I’m sure Tony LaRussa will enjoy a nice, quiet, home life away from the clubhouse.

    Maybe he’ll actually make it stick, but I think there’s a nonzero chance he pulls a Jack McKeon and winds up back in the manager’s seat at some point in the next few years.

  159. 159
    Catz Says:

    Jon Heyman reports Lowe has been traded to the Indians

  160. 160
    sansho1 Says:

    Whoa!

  161. 161
    td Says:

    @159 – Sounds like a great trade. Who did we get? (that quote never gets old – at least for me.)

  162. 162
    mikemc Says:

    MLB Rumors reports that Derek Lowe is traded to the Indians. Indians to pay $5MM of his salary. Braves to receive “2nd line” player.

  163. 163
    sansho1 Says:

    “A minor league pitcher and salary relief”

    td, I was just about to post the same quote!

    And does Frank Wren realize he just violated Capitol Avenue Club’s commenting guidelines for acceptable offseason conversation topics?

  164. 164
    Smitty Says:

    Indians let Sizemore walk. Should we pick him up.

    No longer will we celebrate Halloween, as it is now known as “McLouth/Lowe Are Gone” day

  165. 165
    Kevin Lee Says:

    I think it would be classy if we said something nice about TLR on his retirement.

    Umm…somebody else will have to go first. I got nothing.

  166. 166
    Smitty Says:

    @165

    With McOut’s option not being picked up, Lowe being traded and LaRussa hanging it up, I am sure Mac is prepairing remarks. Of course, he may be waiting on the Frenchy retirement press conference…

  167. 167
    csg Says:

    #165 – no chance.

    Well, give Wren credit. He usually pulls the trigger very quickly. Getting rid of Lowe and now having $5mil to play with. Nicely done.

  168. 168
    Stu Says:

    153—Literally zero. I’ll wager any amount of money. Trust me.

  169. 169
    Seat Painter Says:

    ESPN reporting that D. Lowe is traded to the Cleveland Indians for a minor league pitcher. braves to pay $10 million of his 2012 salary.

    Shoot, didn’t see the earlier post. Anyway, thanks Derek for your 2010 September.

  170. 170
    Stu Says:

    I can’t believe we got a minor leaguer.

  171. 171
    Dix Says:

    trust you that you’ll wager any amount of money? I trust you, but it seems foolish of me to do so.

  172. 172
    justhank Says:

    What would it take to get Sizemore? Think he’d sign an incentive-laden contract?

  173. 173
    JoeyT Says:

    Lowe + 10 million for http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=jones-010chr

    Strangely, that’s a really awesome trade.

  174. 174
    Mac Thomason Says:

    New post.

  175. 175
    ryan c Says:

    I cannot believe Frank made the move this quickly. How awesome is that? Now the Braves have a clear look at how much money they can take on in a trade or through free agency. Great news!

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