Craig Calcaterra

Ryan Kelly

The Atlanta Braves: baseball’s crappiest team

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In some ways the Braves self-immolation in the second half has been a blessing. I’ve gotten more reading done lately. Last night I went out for drinks and dinner with my girlfriend. When got home and looked at the box scores I no longer had that “ugh, I wonder how bad they lost tonight” feeling as it has since been replaced by the dead assumption that they lost by a dozen or more thereby allowing me to be pleasantly surprised when they only lose by six or seven or something.

Really: rooting for a godawful team can be incredibly liberating.

But let us not pretend for a second that this weird feeling of zen relief means that the Atlanta Braves are anything other than horrifyingly terrible. Because boy-howdy they are. From Mark Bowman at MLB.com:

The Braves have lost 16 of their past 17 games, and they have now surrendered at least 15 earned runs in three of their past seven games. To put this alarming stat in perspective, they had allowed 15 earned runs in just 10 of the 3,948 games played from the start of the 1991 season through the beginning of this troubling stretch.

Bowman further notes that Braves’ starters have lasted fewer than five innings in seven of their past 14 games, and fewer than three innings in four of their past 11 games. They’re putting known arsonist Mike Foltynewicz back in the rotation next week and . . . that may actually improve things. It’s been quite a stretch.

So here we stand on September 4, and the Braves are only a game ahead of the Phillies for the worst record in baseball. But they’re charging hard:

  • They currently have the worst run differential in baseball at -164;
  • Since the All-Star break they are tied with the Tigers for the most runs allowed out of any team in baseball;
  • For the entire season they have scored fewer runs than any team in baseball (and no one has played more games than they have);
  • They have 83 home runs, which is 16 fewer than the next worst team and 102 fewer than the Blue Jays, who lead MLB in homers;
  • They have the lowest OPS in all of baseball;

Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves. The crappiest team in the land.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

Carlos Gonzalez
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Rockies 11, Giants 3: Carlos Gonzalez hit two homers for the second night in a row. This made me wonder about the longest streak of multi-homer games in baseball history. I found this answering the question — the answer was three, held by Gus Zernial of the A’s in 1951, Frank Thomas of the Mets in 1962, Lee May of the Reds in 1969, and Jeff DaVanon of the Angels in 2003 — but the data seems to have been collected a decade ago and I guess it could’ve happened again. I guess I need to re-up my expired Play Index subscription.

White Sox 6, Twins 4: J.B. Shuck hit a two-run, pinch-hit triple in the seventh inning to put the Sox ahead for good. The Twins are now one and a half games back of Texas for the second wild card and have a road trip ahead which takes them to Houston and Kansas City. So, yeah, if they’re gonna make the playoffs, they’re gonna have to earn it.

Nationals 15, Braves 1: Ryan Zimmerman was 3-for-3 with two doubles and four driven in and Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run over six innings. Each of which would’ve been plenty to beat the stanky-butt Braves, but because the Braves are the Braves and have clearly given up any pretense of being even remotely competitive this year the Nats scored 15 runs off of ’em.

Brewers 5, Pirates 3: That’s six straight wins by the Brewers over the Pirates. There’s going to be a lot of hand-wringing about how unfair it is that the Pirates, perhaps the second or third best team in all of baseball this year, are going to be stuck in a one-and-done wild card game. And I’ll agree that that stinks because one-and-dones are just not a fair test of a baseball team. But, at some point during that game, I’ll probably think “well, maybe if you didn’t roll the hell over for the Brewers this year — and the Reds for that matter, against whom the Pirates are 4-9 — you wouldn’t have been in this mess.”

Royals 15, Tigers 7: Lorenzo Cain hit a three-run homer, Paulo Orlando hit a two-run homer and Kendrys Morales drove in four. Fifteen runs on 20 hits in all for Kansas City who, I assume, can’t wait for October to get here.

Padres 10, Dodgers 7: The non-Greinke/Kershaw portion of the Dodgers’ pitching staff strikes again. Mat Latos allowed four runs in only four innings of work and the bullpen have up six more runs in the next five innings. L.A. held a 7-4 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth but couldn’t hold it. Jedd Gyorko hit a two-run homer and Yangervis Solarte had four hits. Crazy idea: Don Mattingly goes to a two-man rotation in the playoffs with whichever of Greinke or Kershaw isn’t pitching that day working from the pen. Sure, it may destroy both of their arms, but it’ll give him a 23-man offense. Could be cool?

Rival scout says he’s really impressed with what the Phillies have done this year

Ruben Amaro Jr.
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It’s been fun and games mocking the Phillies because, well, it’s always fun and games to mock the Phillies. But get your mocking in while you can, because people who are paid to actually look at the organization from top to bottom rather than just the box scores and the standings think they’ve had a great year.

That’s from Jim Salisbury’s story over at CSNPhilly.com, who spoke with a rival team’s scout who is assigned to scout the Phillies, and he thinks they have a ton of prospects and Reading and talks effusively about the job the organization has done in the rebuild this season.

Which, if that sentiment is shared, makes you wonder what’s gonna happen to Ruben Amaro after the year is over. Everyone assumes he’s dead man walking now that Andy MacPhail has come on board, but none of us outside the organization know what role any of the players played in making the trades and moves that have helped restock the Phillies system. If it was Amaro and things truly are looking up the way that scout says they are, does he not get credit? And, possibly, a reprieve on the firing many assume he’ll get?

As I’ve written before, I wonder if Amaro isn’t just a prime example of the Peter Principle. And if maybe he’d be a credit to the Phillies if his scope was reduced somewhat. Maybe big picture planning and large free agent contracts was not his forte and he’d be good in another role if he sticks around. You don’t see backwards steps from GMs very often, at least not within the same organization, but maybe it makes sense to think about such things.