Braves Can’t Give Away More Games

The Braves gift-wrapped a win for the Mets on Wednesday afternoon

The Atlanta Braves lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the National League now stands at a slim two games, with 23 games left in the season.  The Pittsburgh Pirates are 4 games behind the Braves, followed by the St. Louis Cardinals at 5.

Wednesday afternoon the Braves started Kameron Loe on the mound, and had Elliott Johnson at third base, Paul Janish at shortstop and Gerald Laird at catcher.  In other words, the Braves started an aging pitcher in the twilight of his career, and had Andrelton Simmons, Brian McCann and Chris Johnson take the day off.  Not much firepower in that line-up.

If finishing with the best record in the National League is important, then how can you put a team like that on the field?   Sure you want players to have days off between now and the end of the season, but how can you put a line-up like that out on the field if you are serious about winning the game?

Fredi should give one regular a day off each game, occasionally two, but not four.  Giving four regulars, including the starting pitcher the day off, is like running the white flag up the pole before the game even starts.  If you are going to spot start a guy who is in the twilight of his career, to give one of your starters a rest, that is understandable.  But don’t you have to then have all your regulars out there to score as many runs as possible?

Hopefully the Wednesday afternoon game against the Mets is the last time we will see a give-away game, until after the best record in the National League has been clinched.

  • johnnyjunior

    Manager conceded game before All Star game last year. Came back to bite’em. Play each game to win! Period.

    • BravesBeliever

      Totally agree! Great observation!

  • Lee

    Jim, you took the thoughts right out of my head when I saw that line-up. What would possess Fredi to make such a blunder, when clinching the best record is so valuable? The Braves need every advantage possible. Even though you frequently rave about the Braves pitching rotation, a good hitting team will likely not have much trouble with any of them. The Braves do not have a dominant starting pitcher, as some contenders do. The Braves NEED home field advantage, so please play the players who can win every remaining game!

    • Jim Hart

      Lee, amazing how many times we think alike. :)

      In Fredi’s defense, all the injuries this season may be a reason that he is going out of his way to give guys days off.

      • Lee

        Two great minds…what more can be said! :)

  • gmckill

    @Lee, I believe the Braves starting pitching can hold its own. The ace-in-the-hole for Atlanta is the pen. Not many, if any, teams can match the Braves middle and late relievers and nobody can top Kimbrel. Agree that finishing with best record is still important. Maybe Fredi is banking on that cream puff schedule the rest of the way.

    • Jim Hart

      Fredi has done a great job this season and yes, that soft schedule should result in a lot of wins the rest of the way. But those darn Dodgers have been winning at an incredible pace and it looks like it will not only take a lot of wins the rest of the way, it will take a huge amount of wins to hold them off.

      • Lee

        Exactly why every game is extremely important!

    • Lee

      @gmckill, you are absolutely correct about Kimbrel, and the pen. No question that Kimbrel is the best closer in the league. However, if Fredi continues to allow a starter to play until he has given up 7 runs, Kimbrel will likely be a moot point. In the play-offs, particularly, Fredi needs to be creative. He cannot allow a starter who is off his game, to continue pitching the Braves out of the game. He needs to change it up sooner than later.

  • BravesBeliever

    To coin a phrase I frequently heard back when attempting to teach my 3 children the multiplication tables “back in the day”, “I DON’T GET IT!?!”
    I “don’t get” the Gonzales philosophy of having as your goal only winning
    series’. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating as a prelude to my comment
    which follows: I love Fredi Gonzales. He is a great guy, with a great heritage story and is becoming a coach with a great winning record upon which he can build. I will go even further and say that Fredi deserves to be named coach of the year; however, this observation is only valid because there is no “Coaching Staff of the Year” award. If it were not for the assistance of Carlos Tosca, his two marvelous batting coaches and the mastery of Roger McDowell, not to mention the brilliance of GM Frank Wrenn, I do not think the Braves would not have accomplished anything like what they have to date. However, It remains to be seen if he’s a great coach and yesterday’s choices are a prime example. It seems that Gonzales has this felacious and deeply flawed philosophy which I have heard him parrot more than one teeth-grindingly all too often times is “let’s win every series…that’s our goal.” Where does that come from? Who, in coaching, says that? HOW does a great coach say that over and over again. I cringe every time I hear it and, honestly, I do not think I’ve ever heard another coach in any sport publically or even in the closed doors of the locker room actually verbalize this concept of doing anything but winning EVERY GAME. The goal of every
    effective coach who ever excelled with any degree of excellence was to win
    EVERY GAME! Of course, hypothetically, one would take a series win every time;
    however, that is not the philosophical premise or strategic goal which needs to
    be embraced or instilled in the minds of Champions because Champions do not
    think like that. Champions go into every play of every inning of every game of
    every series with the mindset that they will win EVERY play, inning, game and
    series. Once the mindset is established that “two out of three ain’t bad”, one
    has sub-consciously, if not overtly, instilled the idea in the minds of the
    players that they can “take a game off” or, in a critical situation, “take a
    play off because we have already won the series.” This is wholly unacceptable
    and the concept that “our goal is is to win every series” needs to be
    removed from the mind, lexicon, press conferences and the entire philosophy of the Braves entire organization (or any team whose goal is to win championships). It causes players to believe they can take a break or “let up” and is a woefully misguided strategy in all of its forms or expressions….but I digress.
    As to “giving away games” – and that is exactly what we did yesterday- I couldn’t
    agree with your post above more. I do not think that the realization of the importance of this potential season perpetuating or season ending goal has fully dawned on Fredi. And, little wonder, because it wouldn’t dawn on one whose goal is to win two out of three games now, would it?! Perhaps Fredi knows his team needs to win every game and that every game is critical at this point IN HIS MIND; but, I do not believe he either knows it nor is feeling it IN HIS HEART. And, brother and sister Braves fans, it’s time Fredi undergo a twelve inch transplant, for winning EVERY GAME is a concept which must be deeply engrained and imbedded in both his mind and his heart!

    I fault not Fredi on the strategy of giving some players a break yesterday. I
    get that he needed to rest some arms as well as some position players. That is
    a good move. However, some really bone-headed moves were made otherwise and afterwards when it did not appear he had a “plan B” for winning this game and had already conceded that we could lose and still win the series, again, a
    deeply flawed and losing strategy. First of all, what the hell is Freddy Garcia
    doing here? And, once he got here and had that horrific performance in the
    minors where he got emaciated in a dramatic fashion, how did he ever get into
    Turner Field? And once he got there, how did he stay in the game until it got
    totally out of hand? Look, there are probably five arms in the Minors who have never been in a Braves MLB dugout who could have and would have outpitched him yesterday. Moreover, once Garcia did as we all knew he would do, how do you let the game get totally out of hand by not relieving him of his misery and the game ball, keeping the contest in a manageable position and doing all that one can do to WIN not just the series but every game. And then, once Gonzales made that move (or even if he doen’t), you have to bring in the big boys to do what they
    do on offense as soon as possible (as in, like, no more than a 3 run deficit)
    so that they can restore order. At the most, our big bats (who, for the most
    part are, amazingly enough, generally healthy with the exception of Schafer)
    should have been on the “Manziel plan” and only been out half the game, at
    most. After all, they have a full game off today, so that’s still a day and a
    half rest, ample time to get the mental, emotional and physical break they need.

    I could go on relating the many elemental causes of the house of horrors that
    Turner Field was transformed into yesterday; however, my point is that, as you
    so eloquently put it, WE MUST WIN EVERY GAME WE CAN POSSSIBLY WIN FROM HERE ON OUT UNTIL HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE IS SAFELY SECURED. I mean, look at our home field advantage. Examine the home field record. It’s like the most powerful factor of any of the many powerful factors the Braves have in the statistical sphere. It doesn’t take a bat boy, much less a brain surgeon, for that matter to realize that this statistical, emotional, critical advantage has been overwhelming all year long. And it is clearly even more overwhelmingly
    important- more than ever- now. In fact, I will go so far as to say it is indispensable
    to a Series win. And Coach, THAT, my friend is the goal. NOT to win every
    series but to win every possible game of every series of every season and every
    post season, including the World Series. Will you do it? No. No one ever has. But is it a required strategy and philosophy and goal? ABSOLUTELY! No less expectation is acceptable.

    Fortunately, my kids finally “got it.” They got the multiplication tables. One’s now an attorney, one a Physician’s Assistant and the third a Pharmacist- despite my psychologically scarring attempts to teach them math, a subject which I, myself, “didn’t get.” Likewise, it is my sincere hope that Freddy wakes up and “gets it”; for if he does not “get it,” I predict, the Braves will not win home field advantage. And if they do not win home field advantage, the opposition that is shaping up is so talented that, with our performances outside Turner Field as opposed to our play at home is such that I will go so far as to say that the Braves will not go to the Series without home field advantage (a prognostication about which I hope I am proven wrong).

    • Lee

      Okay, this is what I meant to say :) Thanks BravesBeliever for your well written and insightful replies!

  • Jim Hart

    Beau Bock, who is a long-time Atlanta sports personality, used to always say that the Braves organizational goal isn’t to win the World Series. It is to win the division championship and if they happened to somehow win the World Series it is gravy.

    I always used to wonder how he could say that, but when you see a line-up on the field like you saw yesterday, it makes you wonder.

    • Mike Crowe

      Even in the 90s and a couple years into this century the Braves were built to win over the 162 haul and not so much the series. I think I even heard Shurholz make a statement similer to the one Bock made once. Back then you had teams like the 97 Marlins and 01 Snakes winning with one-two aces and plugging in with some of the other positions and vets on the bench. That formula worked for a decade or so, perhaps things are a little back to normal, the way the Cards and Giants have won in recent years. But yeah, I always get put off when I see more than two regulars getting a rest. Like Johnny Jr. said, play to win every game. Or as my dad, an old barnstorming catcher from the 50s used to say, try to win every pitch.

      • Jim Hart

        Four losses in a row now. Hopefully it is a wake-up call, and not a sleeping pill.

  • rogerheld

    I agree with all of you and, when I saw the lineup, my first reaction was “why are you trying so hard to lose”. But the primary question on my mind was “why Kameron Loe”. I think Freddy Garcia would have been a better choice (at least his 2013 ERA is 5.xx not 8.xx). Neither of these guys are here for the “future” – they are just fill-ins trying to hang on. Why not give one of the kids of the future a shot? Maybe not Sean Gilmartin of J.R. Graham, but someone like Gus Schlosser or Yohan Flande. You might get a pleasant surprise and it couldn’t be any worse……. Then you’d have something to build on.

    • Jim Hart

      Roger, was thinking the exact same thing about starting a young guy from the minors who has shown promise. Yesterday was a head scratcher.

  • Al

    At 1:30pm Wednesday I threw dawn my scoresheet in disgust, but I watched until
    the bitter end. Fredi must have bet on the Dodgers.

    • Jim Hart

      LOL Al.

  • BravesBeliever

    The last two series’ are a clear example of Fredi Gonzales’ coaching Achilles heel: he does not have the wherewithal to do what it takes to win a World Series because he plays players he “has faith in.” But Baseball is not a game of faith. It is a game of statistics. Until he understands this and grows the necessary anatomical appendages that it takes to coach to win every play of every inning of every game of every series and to play the players necessary to do so in every pitch of every inning of every game of every series, he will never win a World Series and may never get past the first series of a playoff. This years Braves team MUST win home field advantage, especially as long as the cold bats stay icey as they are now if they are to have a prayer. And, they cannot win home field advantage playing unproductive players betting on the come that they “may begin to develop.” Player loyalty is an indispensable characteristic a coach must have. However, team loyalty trumps it every time. Doing what is best for the team is monumentally more important than doing what is perceived to be best for individual players. It’s SEPTEMBER, for mercy’s sakes! WAKE UP FREDI (and Frank) before it’s too late! Unproductive players cannot continue to start in the Braves lineup in another game from here on out, no matter what your past or present relationship is with them (Unproductive Uggla) or how much you’re paying them (Blown Job Upton). THIS, my fan friends, is nothing more than stubborn madness which will lead to another blown season’s end which will lead to a very abbreviated post season experience if not worse!!

    • Jim Hart

      Sometimes winning the division by a huge margin and coasting into the playoffs is not a good thing. Hopefully that isn’t the case with this year’s Braves team. But the losing streak now stands at four.