Brave New World (Sort of)

May 25, 2012 by


A while back, Matt wrote he loves the over reaction that is part and parcel with the opening of the baseball season.  A week after that, he and I went all in on the new season, with no shortage of overreacting.  Baseball is a funny game.  We can stand around and talk about how it’s “a marathon”, and pennants aren’t “won or lost in April”, but at the same time, start off 0 and 4 and see how long that attitude stands up.  Finish April with a losing record, and tell me you’re still feeling the benefits of a long season.

I live and die with my team most days, but I’m older now, and I have a family that frowns upon breaking things and yelling at the TV (stupid wiener family).  So I’ve grown to mask my pain, with sayings like “it’s just one game, we’ll get ‘em tomorrow”, or “No sense in getting all upset and setting the house on fire, we’ve got plenty of season yet”’ or “FUCKING GOD DAMMIT FREDI” (The wife does have book club once a month).

That’s the emotion of being a fan.  I try to put my stats cap on and look at things without emotion, but sometimes the fan rears its ugly head (You calling my head ugly?).  There’s also the part of me that can’t help but believe I am the root of anything bad that happens to my team.  Point out something they do wrong?  They’ll do it wronger.  Highlight something they are doing well?  They’ll stop that shit and do what they were born to do and fuck it up.  It makes it difficult sometimes to come up with a post about the Braves.

We here at Old 67 have true internet journalist integrity.  And by journalist, I mean like Fox News journalist – so, full of integrity.  I’ve got integrity coming out of my ears (I’m pretty sure they have a pill for that, but I don’t like taking those kinds of drugs).  All of this integrity pushes me to look at the Braves and where they stand this late in May, then compare it to what I thought back in the beginning of the year.  Was I over reacting?  Yeah, I’d say I was pretty damn emotional.  Was I wrong in my overall assessment?  At this point, I’d say I was pretty dead on   – here’s a quick look at my positives/negatives after the first week of the season:

Positives:

  • Tommy Hanson
  • Brandon Beachy
  • Chipper!
  • Heyward
  • Pastornicky

Negatives

  • Livan Hernandez
  • Mike Minor
  • Jurrjens
  • Michael Bourn
  • Fredi Gonzales

I certainly didn’t embarrass myself there.  The one thing I really screwed up on was Michael Bourn.  I believe my exact comment was “Bourn just hasn’t played for the Braves the way he played for Houston and he doesn’t look happy.  I get a bad feeling from the guy.”  Yeah, apparently I should stop trusting my feelings, because along with Prado, he’s been fantastic.  I guess you could also say Pastornicky isn’t exactly a positive at this point, but my expectations for him are low and I still think he’ll end hit better than he is right now.

Bourn’s season turn around began with this…coincidence?  I think not.

I still like Heyward this year.  His swing looks better, his line drive percentage is the highest it’s ever been and his infield fly ball percentage is the lowest it’s ever been.  His K rate, which has always been high, is even higher and while strikeouts aren’t as bad as everyone makes them out to be, that is true only to a point and Heyward is definitely walking that line.  So if there is anything to be leery about with him, that’s it.

I stand by the rest of my lists as well.  Jurrjens is in the minors and Minor has a foot in the grave at this point.  I think Fredi is right to be patient with Minor, but if there’s one thing last year taught us, every loss matters.  If the kid is going to continue to give up bombs at his current pace, Fredi can’t keep throwing him out there every 5 days.  Hopefully the Braves can figure out how to help him with his command and keep the ball in the park.

As far as where we are now…

Breakout CandidateBrian McCann – His peripherals are great.  Lowest K rate of his career, a good steady walk rate, high line drive rate, and ridiculously low BABIP (50 points below the average), those are all signs that he is on the verge of having one of those ridiculous runs of his.  Looking forward to that!

Buyer BewareBrandon Beachy – He was on my positives list, and is still is, however, there are a few issues worth mentioning.  His K rate is lower than it has been his whole career, including the minor leagues.  While his average of 10.47 per nine innings last year was unlikely to continue, his drop to 6.49 can’t continue if he wants to see continued success.  Ok, that’s not necessarily true, but it’s likely true.  I know the team is working hard to get him to pitch to contact so that he can extend his reach into games, and it appears to be working.  He’s gone from averaging less than 6 innings to averaging almost 7 in a game, that’s a big deal, but if those 7 innings suddenly become filled with home runs, he’ll have to rethink that approach.

Why Can’t We Replace Failing Body Parts with Machines?Chipper Jones – Ahhh, well stingy, curmudgeony Bud Selig would probably impose a 50 game suspension on any player with mechanized body parts anyway.  Killjoy.  If there was ever a guy who could benefit from a little cyborg action, it’s Chipper.  When he’s played, he’s been pretty darned good, especially for a guy with one foot in the emergency room.  I like to criticize Fredi (Actually, I don’t.  I’d prefer to praise him, I’d love to send him flowers, to invite him over to dinner and get my wife to work with his nipples a little bit, all the things you like to do for a great manager.  But I can’t, because he’s not, and so I’m forced to speak poorly of him.) But he’s been doing a good job of managing Chipper this year.  He’s only played in 28 of the 44 games so far this year, which works out to about 100 games in a 162 game season, and that sounds about right.  If they keep the kid gloves on with him and not let him play every time he wants to, we might see him play in more than that.  Then again, he’s a magnet for the freak injury nowadays.

Bottle Up and ExplodeThe Pitching Staff – I used an Eliott Smith song for this, but could have just as easily quoted Dickens, it certainly is a tale of two staffs right now.  About half the staff has a decent K rate, while the other is lackluster.  Half the staff is allowing less than a HR per 9 and the other half are over.  Half with a good walk rate, half are clearly out of control (literally!).  It’s a young staff, they’ve showed grit, and resolve and all that good intangibley stuff that people like, but you can only bull dog it for so long, eventually the runs allowed are going to catch up with the peripherals.

Normally I would insert something about Fredi here, but I think what I said in our first post still applies.  As long as the team puts themselves in a position to win, they will.  If it comes down to Fredi having to make an in-game strategic decision, they’ll be in a world of trouble.

It’s Friday, so I’m going to leave it at that.  I think we did a lot here today; we covered poop, cyborgs, nipples, wieners, Fox News, and a little bit of baseball.  However, I will say this, being Friday, there is a good chance I’ll be drinking, and if the Braves lose their 5th in a row, there’s an equally good chance that Mr. Gonzales will be hearing from me.  And it won’t be pretty.

 

 

 

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