Tag: braves

Mets Game 91: Loss to Braves

Braves 7 Mets 1

So much for the split.

Things were looking bad right away, when starting pitcher Fernando Nieve left the game in the second inning with a pulled muscle in his leg trying to beat out an infield grounder — and was replaced by everyone’s favorite “long man” Tim Redding. Redding immediately served up a solo homer to Yunel Escobar to give the Braves a 1-0 lead, foreshadowing more dismal events to come.

Somehow, Redding worked through the rest of the second without allowing a run, and things were looking up for almost 15 minutes, because the Mets fought back to tie the game in the top of the third and Redding shut out the Braves in the bottom of the same. But Escobar beat Redding again in the fourth, this time with a broken-bat single to drive in the go-ahead run. Then in the fifth, the roof caved in as the Tomahawkers trounced Redding and Elmer Dessnes for another five runs to put the game away for good.

Notes

Not much good came from this game. It’s hard to fault Nieve for running hard and trying to beat out a hit — pitcher or no pitcher, I like to see the game played right. And with this team it’s a pleasure to see someone giving 100%. Unfortunately that “stunt” will likely put him on the DL — he was diagnosed with a strained quad and no word yet on how severe is the injury. What makes it worse is it provides an example of why someone (particularly a pitcher) shouldn’t go all out. But I don’t buy that — had he not run hard through the bag, maybe he would’ve turned his ankle hitting the bag, or been wonked on the head by a wild throw. Injuries happen — usually for no reason other than bad timing or dumb luck.

Luis Castillo went 2-for-3, the only Met with more than one hit. The Mets mustered six hits all afternoon, and David Wright drew the team’s lone walk.

Brian Stokes threw a scoreless inning of mopup relief, as did Bobby Parnell — though Parnell walked two batters in his 21-pitch stint. Redding, Dessens, and Pat Misch continue to prove the other 29 teams right for having no interest in their services. Where’s Nelson Figueroa?

In the three hole, Daniel Murphy went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and is now hitting .238 with a .307 OBP. He’s 3 for his last 22 with 6 Ks.

Brian Schneider had one of the Mets’ three hits in his second start in the past week. I believe he and Fernando Tatis are the only Mets to go over the wall this month.

Yunel Escobar went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and a run scored.

The Phillies beat the Fish 5-0 behind the arm of undefeated JA Happ, sending the Mets 9 games back. The Phillies are now 13 games above .500; the Mets are 5 below. But hey, there’s still a lot of season left, and the Mets have the benefit of playing the Nationals over the next three days.

Next Mets Game

The Mets embark to Washington DC to play the Nationals in a three-game series that begins Monday night at 7:05 PM. Livan Hernandez pitches for his job against J.D. Martin (not to be confused with J.C. Martin). Martin is filling in for Scott Olsen, who is being placed on the DL with an elbow injury.

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Mets Game 90: Win Over Braves

Mets 5 Braves 1

It took them 90 games, but the Mets finally learned how to play small ball.

Johan Santana and Kenshin Kawakami engaged in a pitchers’ duel for the first five innings, before the Mets scratched out two runs on a bases-loaded walk and a groundout. Then, in the top of the ninth, the offense turned the clock back to 1910 — singling, tripling, walking, stealing, and suicide squeezing their way to three more insurance runs.

Santana shut out the Braves through seven innings of stellar spinning, allowing just five hits and two walks, striking out five. It took four relievers to get through the bottom of the eighth, and Frankie Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth to not earn a save.

Notes

Angel Pagan went 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, including a triple, an RBI, and a run scored. Alex Cora went 2-for-4 with a run scored hitting in front of the pitcher. Who needs Jose Reyes?

Jeff Francoeur also had two hits, as well as an RBI.

Luis Castillo and Pagan executed a textbook suicide squeeze in the top of the ninth. Personally, I find the squeeze much more exciting than the homerun, and would like to see them more often.

Next Mets Game

The series concludes in Atlanta on Sunday night at 6pm. Fernando Nieve faces Javier Vazquez. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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Mets Game 89: Loss to Braves

Braves 11 Mets 0

So much for Mike Pelfrey building on his previous strong start.

The game was over within a half hour after it began, as the Braves pelted Pelfrey for three runs in the first and another three in the third, finally chasing him from the game in the fifth in the midst of another scoring spree.

I could go on, but why?

Notes

While the Braves banged out 14 hits, you can count the number of Mets hits on one hand. In fact, Three-Finger Brown could have counted them on one hand, and still have had one finger left.

It should be noted that the Braves have been struggling to score runs all season. Looking at their top four starting pitchers, it’s hard to believe they’re only in third place. But Derek Lowe, Javy Vazquez, and Jair Jurrjens in particular have been victimized by remarkably poor run support.

After the fifth inning, I was fantasizing that the umpires would invoke the 10-run rule and mercifully end the game.

Elmer Dessens is an older, more Mexican version of Carlos Muniz.

On a positive note, Jeff Francoeur was roundly cheered by the Atlanta home crowd every time he came to the plate. Or is that a negative?

Prior to the game, a ceremony took place to retire Greg Maddux’s number. How fitting. After the game, there was a fireworks display. Again, how fitting.

Gary Sheffield left the game in the fifth with a hamstring cramp. He suffered it while running after one of the myriad missiles blasted off the bats of Braves during the game. Sheff walked off the field on his own power and all reports indicate that he will not be placed on the DL. Stinks for him — there is no escape from this travesty of a ballclub.

So tell me, how would Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and JJ Putz have made a difference in this game? Even with the “cavalry” intact, these Mets routinely stuck their collective heads up their butts and quit after falling behind by 4-5 runs early in games. Can’t blame this loss on injuries — it’s all on Peflrey.

Pelfrey, by the way, lost his cool early on and never regained it. We mentioned that he got away with losing his composure in some previous outings, but those were against inferior clubs (the Nationals, the Orioles). Pelf has a stunning skillset but does not have the otherworldly talent needed to overcome his own undoings. He needs to learn how to control his emotions if he’s ever to reach his full potential.

Although Pelfrey was charged with 3 of the 4 runs in the fifth, he didn’t get any help from reliever Tim Redding. Redding allowed both of his inherited runners to score, and then another one of his own responsibility. He did strike out two in his 2/3 of an inning of work in his “long man” role. Funny, isn’t it, that the “long man” didn’t even pitch a complete inning?

Hate to nitpick in a game like this, but Omir Santos was the starting catcher. Santos, as you know, is a RH hitter. Lefthanded hitters are pummeling Jair Jurrjens to the tune of a .300 average this year (righties are hitting .190). I am aware that Santos hits righties better than lefties, and that his average is 40 points higher than that of Brian Schneider (though, remarkably, Schneider’s OBP is 30 points better), but against a guy with a sub-3 ERA you have to find and expose any vulnerability you can find. In the end, of course, it would not have made a difference — but I feel like being extra critical this evening.

Next Mets Game

The Mets attempt to avoid a sweep when they play the Braves again at 4pm on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta. Johan Santana faces Kenshin Kawakami. If they can’t win that one it may be time to pack it in. The game will be televised on FOX. Yee ha.

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Mets Game 88: Loss to Braves

Braves 5 Mets 3

Oliver Perez got off to a strong second half start, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to do the same for the Mets.

In a matchup pitting the two top free agent pitchers coveted by the Mets last winter, Perez pitched his most effective game of the year. Of course, when your ERA was nearly in double digits a week ago, that’s not saying much. But still, we have to be happy to see baby steps from the enigmatic lefthander — perhaps by Year Three of his contract, the 36-Million-Dollar Man will begin earning his dough.

Perez walked four, struck out six, and allowed three runs on five hits in six innings. Two of those five hits, however, were solo homers blasted in the second inning that gave the Braves a quick 2-zip lead. The Mets mounted a comeback in the fourth, scoring three runs off a shaky Derek Lowe, but that was all they could muster in the contest. After Dan Murphy’s double scored Gary Sheffield, the Mets offense produced just two singles through the remainder of the game.

Notes

Ironic, isn’t it, that the starting pitchers spun similar performances, yet for Lowe, it was a mediocre outing, but for Perez, it was a good outing?

Garrett Anderson was 3-for-4 with a homerun for the Braves. Ryan Church pinch-ran for him in the 8th and eventually scored the insurance run.

Jeff Francoeur was 0-for-4 with an RBI. The Mets are 2-1 with him in the lineup.

Luis Castillo was the only Met with more than one hit.

Pedro Feliciano was victimized by Bobby Parnell’s inability to strand runners. Parnell faced two batters and allowed two hits, with one of them scoring the go-ahead run, which was charged to Feliciano. In turn, Feliciano was also charged with his third loss of the season.

The Mets are now 42-46 overall, 7.5 games behind the first-place Phillies.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves do it again at 7:30 PM on Friday night in Atlanta. Mike Pelfrey faces Jair Jurrjens.

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Brave Opinions of Jeff Francoeur

Likely you’ve read all you can find from the New York press and blogosphere in regard to the Ryan Church – Jeff Francoeur trade.

Here are a few of the opinion of Francoeur from the Braves’ perspective:

The Francoeur trade: A Sad But Necessary Ending

Excerpt:

“This is how much the Braves wanted rid of Jeff Francoeur: They traded him to a team they’ll play 19 times a year, which means they’d rather put themselves in the repeated position of losing to him than have kept him around here. That’s how far the Golden Child had fallen, and how fast.”

He’s Frenchy, as in Benchy, and he could soon be gone
Excerpt:

“It takes Cox a lot longer to lose faith than it does, say, Lou Piniella. Cox believes until he’s given reason to stop believing, but when he stops … well, that’s about all she wrote. … Francoeur was extended an even longer grace period — we’re now going on a second calendar year of his laboriously documented flailings — but has simply ceased being a competent big-league hitter.”

Excerpt from the Braves blog Talking Chop:

“Church doesn’t represent a real upgrade in the power department, though he certainly uses more of his ability than Francoeur does, but he is an equal defender and is better at getting on base. … On first blush I like this trade. We get a better hitter, even if we did have to give up the once-face of the franchise (but that ship sailed a while ago). The risk here is that Francoeur figures something out and comes back to bite us time and again, but the odds of that happening are pretty slim if you’ve watched Francoeur over the last couple of years.”

From Rowland’s Office:

“He ain’t Roberto Clemente, but Ryan Church is a better player than Pan, period. It would appear the home team got the better end of this one. … I’m surprised we got this much for Pan. … The deal is getting a surprisingly, to me, good reception at Metsblog.com, a high-profile, yeah, Mets blog. Those fellows are choosing to view Pan as a young player with upside. Good luck, gents.”

From David Lee at Braves Buzz:

“Thank the Lord. Hallelujah. I’m standing and cheering. Jeff Francoeur has been traded to the Mets for Ryan Church.

My first reaction: the Mets? Wow. The Mets. Probably the last place Francoeur wanted to go and try to work things out. I already know Mets fans don’t want the guy, just imagine how it’ll be when Jeff grounds into double play after double play. A negative atmosphere is not something he’s used to. I wonder how he’ll handle it.

My second reaction: the Braves absolutely robbed the Mets of Church. For the Braves to get anything at all for Francoeur is shocking in itself, but to get a capable lefty hitter who can be plugged into right field immediately is amazing to me. I mean, it’s not even my place to evaluate Church and his flaws because of the fact that the Braves got him for Francoeur.”

From Chop-N-Change:

“MLBTR says that we may have traded Jeff Francoeur. To the Mets. For Ryan Church. Straight up.

I don’t believe it either, but I couldn’t resist putting a smile on your face for the few minutes till it gets denied…”

No need to panic, Mets fans. Maybe all those people who have watched Jeff Francoeur on a daily basis (as noted by Omar Minaya, he does play every day) are a little off on their assessment of Atlanta’s former golden boy. You know, like Mets fans who unreasonably evaluated the performance of Scott Schoeneweis. Yeah.

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Mets Trade Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur

The Mets have traded Ryan Church to the Atlanta Braves for Jeff Francoeur, according to GM Omar Minaya.

My initial, gut reaction is, I’m going to miss Church, who never really got a true opportunity to play every day under Jerry Manuel, but in Francoeur, the Mets get a younger, more physically talented outfielder, who plays the game the right way — much like Church does. My next gut reaction is, “whoa, why were the Braves so eager to rid themselves of a young, highly talented, local boy like Francoeur? What do they know that they’re not telling us?”

From all accounts, though Francoeur was the golden boy in Atlanta as recently as a year and a half ago, something changed when GM Frank Wren gained full control of the club’s personnel. Some kind of rift between the two occurred that was never healed, and Wren has been looking to move Francoeur for months (most recently he offered him to the Marlins for Cody Ross).

Similarly, something occurred in Jerry Manuel’s head that caused him to hate Ryan Church. We don’t know what, we don’t know why, and the two can deny it until their deathbeds, but the writing was on the wall: Manuel didn’t like Church, and the organization as a whole never saw Church as an everyday player. Going to Atlanta and Bobby Cox will be an outstanding change for Church. I believe very strongly that Church, under Cox and playing “the Braves Way”, can and will blossom into a good, not great, complementary everyday rightfielder.

Meantime, Francoeur’s change in scenery could prove equally fruitious (damn I hope so!). Clearly, he strikes out way too much, and doesn’t take pitches, and that will drive us nuts. But he also has the raw talent to be a star. Whether he realizes that potential is anyone’s guess — and part of his problem is he’s as stubborn as a mule when it comes to changing his approach. If he doesn’t ever “get” the idea of plate discipline, he’ll be the offensive version of Oliver Perez — an eternal, frustrating enigma.

What I do like about Francoeur is he appears to have a strong personality, and maybe he can be the guy who turns the tide in the clubhouse. He plays hard, and if he’s performing well, he could be an influencer / leader. We’ll see.

Interesting to note that Minaya mentioned — about 18 times — that Francoeur is “an everyday player”. I wonder if the front office is sending the message to Jerry Manuel that Francoeur WILL BE penciled into the lineup every single day, and enough with the inane mixing and matching.

Minaya also pointed out that Francoeur is “better suited to Citi Field” because, “…although Ryan Church was a very good fielder, players around the league will tell you that Jeff Francoeur covers a lot of ground …” and, “…he has a very strong arm.” Wait, Omar … didn’t you just describe Ryan Church? Doesn’t Church cover a lot of ground, and have a very strong arm? Meh.

So much for Jeremy Reed’s chance to get some playing time — with Francoeur coming in and Angel Pagan off the DL, Reed goes back to being Gary Sheffield’s late-inning caddy.

Also strange, during the press conference, was Minaya’s comment that “guys who pull the ball are able to take advantage of that left field wall” in Citi Field, and Francoeur fits that definition of pull hitter. Really? Where’s the evidence? Because two or three opponents jerked hanging curveballs into the left field seats? Because Sheffield planted one or two out there? Until the “Soot Monster” is lowered by 30 feet and brought in another 30, righties are going to have a tough time sending one over the fence (or otherwise “using it to their advantage”).

I hope this deal works out well for Francoeur and the Mets; I know it’s going to work out for Church and the Braves. Occasional MetsToday contributor John Fitzgerald suggests that “Frenchy” is the next Mike Marshall (the bigfooted first baseman, not the wacko pitcher). It’s an intriguing comparison.

Thoughts?

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Pirates Trade Nate McLouth to Braves

Now we know why the Braves dumped Tom Glavine — to clear payroll.

In the second surprising move of the day involving Atlanta, the Braves acquired centerfielder Nate McLouth from the Pirates in exchange for Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke.

Morton and Locke were among the Braves’ better pitching prospects, and Hernandez a top outfield prospect. Hernandez compares in skills to former Met Carlos Gomez.

Though McLouth has been mired in a season-long slump, he was showing signs of breaking out recently, and he no doubt will benefit from being surrounded in the lineup by the Braves’ legit MLB hitters. With the Pirates, opposing pitchers had the option to pitch around McLouth and instead deal with the LaRoche brothers — who are nice hitters but hardly middle-of-the-order talents right now.

Have to say I’m stunned by this move, from the Pirates’ perspective. You would think a 27-year-old centerfielder with McLouth’s skillset, and about to enter his prime, is the type of player you use as a building block. Pittsburgh’s pitching staff would seem to be a year or two away from maturing, so why cut bait on McLouth now? Basically what the Bucs are saying is, “we don’t plan to compete this year, next year, nor the year after”. Wow, and I thought it was tough to be a Mets fan!

What makes this deal more mind-boggling is that the Pirates bought out McLouth’s arbitration years only a few months ago, signing him to a 3-year, $15.75M extension in February — which is pretty cheap for an All-Star centerfielder. Apparently the Pirates a) believe last year was a fluke for McLouth and trading him while he still as value; b) are broke; and/or c) are focused on always being a AAA team in the midst of “rebuilding”, and not really interested in fielding an MLB-caliber ballclub.

The Braves, on the other hand, get a solid centerfielder entering his prime and under control for the next four years to replace Jordan Schaefer, who has shown a great glove but has been overmatched at the plate. They dealt from surplus, and likely won’t miss any of the three youngsters they’ve sent to Pittsburgh.

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Tom Glavine Released

Tom Glavine has been released by the Atlanta Braves, just as he was on the brink of returning from shoulder and elbow surgeries.

Glavine had just enjoyed a 6-inning, 64-pitch outing in a final tuneup for Rome, an A-level minor league club. He did not allow any runs and 44 of those tosses were for strikes.
tom-glavine-2

It is assumed that the Braves are not in a position to add Glavine to the 25-man roster, and in fact are in the market for hitting, and decided to dump Glavine for budgetary reasons. Glavine was to earn a $1M bonus if the Braves added him to the active roster, another $1.25 after 30 days of being with the Braves and then $1.25 million more after 90 days.

Without having to pay Glavine the bonus money, the Braves can use those dollars instead in an effort to add a veteran bat.

Are the Mets in the market for a starter, or are they going to continue to send Tim Redding to the mound in hopes he’ll come around? If they ARE in the market, is Glavine a consideration? Would he be cheaper than Pedro Martinez? Healthier than Ben Sheets? Better than Tim Redding?

If so, did the final game of 2008 erase the fans’ memory of the last game of 2007?

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