Jun 7, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra (right) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a walk off hit in the eleventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks defeated the Braves 4-3 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Official Braves Rant Column

So here we are:  in a 3-way tie for first place… and trending downward.  Spiraling, if you will.  I’m personally annoyed at the why this team has been performing, and I’m guessing that many of you are as well.  So this is the Official Get-it-off-your-chest Rant Column so that you can purge yourself of the anger, depression, disillusion, despair, and general malaise.

I’ll get the catharsis started.  But please:  join me at the bar as we drown our sorrows via the keyboard…


The Offense Still Sucks

In the past 30 days, Jason Heyward has finally started hitting like… well, Freddie Freeman.  Unfortunately, Freddie Freeman is now hitting like … well, what Heyward was hitting like before May.

Other low-lights:

  • Chris Johnson has a walk rate of 2.1%.  That would be bad enough except that he’s now lowered that to 0.9% over the past 30 days.
  • FOX Sports/South continues to circulate these graphics about how much better B.J. Upton has been hitting lately.
    • For the full year:  Upton is hitting .207 with a 30.3% K rate, 5 homers, and a scant 15 RBI.
    • Over the past 30 days:  Ready? It’s .209 with a 30.7% K rate, 3 homers and 8 RBI.
  • Justin Upton is hitting .200 during road games.
  • Jason, Freddie, and Tommy La Stella are the only members of the team hitting above .300 with runners in scoring position (RISP).  Would be nice to give them some more opportunities.
  • Not only are the Braves last in baseball in plate appearances with RISP (502), but they’d have to add 115 more opportunities (an increase of 23%) just to get up to the middle of the pack.
  • At least they aren’t last in getting runners on base at all.  They have 947 plate appearances with at least some runner on base… that ranks 29th.
  • They are also 29th in run scoring.  Makes perfect sense, given the last two stats.


…but Now, the Pitching Sucks, too

You may think I’m harsh in throwing around that “sucks” adjective.  Well, when Craig Kimbrel is using it, then we may as well go with it.  Here’s why:

  • David Carpenter.  March/April ERA:  2.61.  Past 30 days:  6.75 and a blown save.
  • Alex Wood.  March/April ERA:  2.93 (mostly starting, of course).  Past 30 days:  5.02
  • Ervin Santana.  March/April ERA:  1.95.  Past 30 days:  4.86.
  • Gavin Floyd:  only 11 earned runs allowed, but eighteen runs allowed overall (bad damage control).
  • Team ERA Rank (March/April):  1st (2.59).  Past 30 days:  7th (3.38).


…Which Gives Us the Following Results:

  • 17 wins in April.  15 since then.
  • Run differential down to +8
  • Just 3 games above .500
  • Allowing Washington and Miami to hang around while those teams get their own acts together


Ah… this is the stat I was looking for…



So Fredi Wants to Shuffle Things Around?

…and he specifically mentioned the “roster” (see Jeff’s post about that).  That’s an interesting statement.  But what can he/Frank Wren do?

  • Yes, Jordan Walden is coming back any second now… so somebody has to be bumped.
  • Fredi was talking about ‘another pitcher’.  That means one less position player.  But as Jeff broke it down, Fredi admitted there are no practical options to do so.  That means one thingWren still isn’t willing to bite the poisoned ($20 million) Uggla apple yet.
  • Contract extensions are all well and good, but that also reduces your flexibility to move players around.  Every starter except Gattis and La Stella have contracts through at least 2015.

So unless the Braves option Tommy La Stella back to Gwinnett (in which case fans armed with torches and pitchforks would assemble on Capitol Avenue for a march), a pitcher has to be bumped.  Carpenter?  Wood?

So nothing really changes:  Atlanta will still have – effectively – 24 useful players on its 25-man roster.  And yes, I’ll be happy to yield on the definition of that word “useful”.

The Braves are in some trouble.  They’d better figure out how to right their ship.  Soon.


Tags: Atlanta Braves Rant

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