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Please Fredi, stop using your worst relievers in close games

Apr 10, 2012, 1:47 AM EDT

Fredi Gonzalez probably throws harder than Livan Hernandez AP

Let’s rank the Braves’ relievers in order from best to cannon fodder, shall we:

Craig Kimbrel
Jonny Venters
Eric O’Flaherty
Kris Medlen
Cristhian Martinez
Livan Hernandez
Chad Durbin

There’s nothing controversial there, right. One could argue about the order of the last two, but really, no one can possibly be that bored.

Now let’s look at the innings those seven guys have thrown during the Braves’ 0-4 skid to start the season:

Craig Kimbrel – 0
Jonny Venters – 1
Eric O’Flaherty – 1
Kris Medlen – 3
Cristhian Martinez – 2
Livan Hernandez – 3 2/3
Chad Durbin – 2

Isn’t there something wrong with that picture? Every game the Braves have played has been close at some point. They lost the first 1-0, the second 4-2 with Hernandez giving up a run in the seventh, the third 7-5 after a gallant comeback attempt in the seventh and eighth innings.

It was Monday night’s game that manager Fredi Gonzalez employed a particularly atrocious strategy. The top three relievers are all rested and ready to go, yet down 4-3 to the Astros after five, Gonzalez picked Hernandez, who gave up two runs in two innings. Durbin then came in during the eighth and gave up two more runs to finish any hopes of a late comeback.

And that’s just ridiculous. No, the Braves never did score again tonight, so looked at that way, Gonzalez didn’t cost them anything by going with his worst arms. Still, it’d be nice if he started playing to win one of these days.

  1. bobulated - Apr 10, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    As soon as they plucked Durbin and Hernandez off the scrap heap, I knew Fredi would not be able to resist the urge to use them constantly.

  2. danrizzle - Apr 10, 2012 at 6:21 AM

    There are only thirty manager jobs at this level in the world. The very fact that so many of them, including and perhaps especially Fredi, are so utterly incompetent to do the job just does not make sense given its scarcity.

    • paperlions - Apr 10, 2012 at 7:54 AM

      Too true.

      I think there is an interesting social phenomenon at work in baseball. There are decades of information that any manager can use to devise strategies and to understand which strategies are more likely to have positive outcomes and to contribute to winning or losing ball games. Indeed, nearly all teams employ a team of analytical experts the manager could use to understand the consequences of any strategy he would like to employ.

      Instead of using the available information to actually answer questions, “baseball men” seem to prefer to remain in the dark so that opinion can rule the day. So…instead of using real information, they just ask each other what they think and weight opinion based on the baseballiness of the “opiner” rather than the information on which the opinion is based.

      A lot of decisions in life are made based on this social mechanism, but in cases where actual data exists, falling back on this mechanism is stupid.

  3. vtboo41 - Apr 10, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    Time to tighten the leash on Fredi

    • cltjump - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      So tight it kills him, yeah.

  4. Old Gator - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    This all seems so familiar somehow. Ah well.

  5. frankvzappa - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    He can do things like this because he doesn’t have to worry about being fired since he isn’t white. Imagine the outrage that would ensue.

    • stex52 - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      I don’t think that’s a reasonable assessment. When Cecil Cooper crashed and burned in Houston, they had no trouble firing him and no repercussions from doing so.

    • gerryb323 - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:04 AM

      Looks white to me…

      • paperlions - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:23 AM

        Looks bald to me….not that there is anything wrong with that.

  6. js20011041 - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Bud Selig needs to eliminate the save rule. How much better off would the game be without it? Imagine the freedom to use your relievers whenever you deem appropriate and not just in some arbitrary fashion to placate the financial needs of your best reliever.

  7. hasbeen5 - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    Use Kimbrel if it’s not a save situation? Use Venters or O’Flaherty while losing?

    You must be sniffing Toradol or something.

    • cltjump - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      Martinez and Medlen, my friend. Fat Fredi is just too stupid.

      • hasbeen5 - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM

        Why they haven’t been used instead of Durbin and Livan is baffling. I’ll take it a step further.

        They originally picked Flande (a lefty) for the last bullpen spot, but then signed Durbin. If they wanted another righty, why not stick with Cody Gearrin. He’s cheaper and would likely be more effective. He spent time in the bigs last year and held his own. And he gets ground balls, I doubt he’d have given up 2 bombs in his first 2 innings.

        Veteran leadership can not possibly make up for performance like that.

  8. ogre2010 - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    Safe to say now that Freddi isn’t Bobby!!

  9. TheNaturalMevs - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Please also stop playing Matt Diaz against lefties rather than let Heyward build some experience doing so.

    Fredi is the worst manager in the game.

  10. bravojawja - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    On the plus side, this year O’Ventbrel will be well-rested in September to help deny the Marlins and Mets the Wild Card spots.

    • foreverchipper10 - Apr 10, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      I think this is Fredi’s strategy. He burned them out last year so he doesn’t want to use them now. He wants to save them for the end of the year. That strategy doesn’t look too smart if they can’t win a friggin game though.

  11. clarenceoveur - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Phillies maybe even worse, Papelbon unused in tie game in 9th and 10th on Saturday, unused with 1 run lead in 8th and tie in 9th on Sunday, then used to protect 3 run deficit on Monday.

  12. Walk - Apr 10, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Livan would be ok if he got more movement on his knuckleball, Right now it just looks like an 82mph four seamer.

  13. psl1196 - Apr 10, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    I’m no Fredi fan, but you guys would all be crying about over-use of the top 4 guys in the pen if he’d have done anything else….it is 4 games

  14. Walk - Apr 11, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    Every team carries a mop up pitcher. Guy who comes in when your bullpen needs a day off and takes one for the team or comes in in a blowout either way. Using that guy in a close game signals to the world that the manager believes his team has no chance of winning. To do that at the very start of the season and when playing against a team picked to come in last does not bode well. If the bullpen needs rest now something is very wrong in Atlanta.

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