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Offensive Upgrades & Results.


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I posted this on July 22nd on another messageboard and decided to paste it here just FYI.

Three names should be mentioned when it comes to Braves' improvement on offense: Jordan Schafer, Kelly Johnson, and Jeff Francoeur. Each of of these players has been replaced, and our offense has improved.

Jordan Schafer - .204BA, .313OBP and 63K (OUCH!) in 167AB.

In 2008, we signed Mark Kotsay to fill in for the released Andruw Jones. He was a temporary player to play while Jordan Schafer developed in the minors. Schafer has blazing speed and fellow Braves faithful and myself were following this guy in the minors. The hGh suspension hit, but we still awaited his presence in the majors because Atlanta has lacked base-stealing speed since Rafael Furcal left in 2005. That's it for background on this guy.

Jordan came up and did well for about five days. We were hoping he would be the speedy leadoff hitter we had lacked for years. Then he struggled...mightily. He was clearly not ready for the majors yet. On June 2nd, the Braves sent him back down to the minors. On June 5th, the Braves traded for Nate McLouth from the Pirates. Outcome?

23 - 21(.523%): Record since sending Schafer down to the minors.

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Kelly Johnson - .214BA, .286OBP and 40K in 234AB.

This was supposed to be his breakout year, according to some writers and many Braves fans. This simply was not the case. He was consistently a rally-killer and almost a guaranteed out this year. Accompany that with mediocre defense and you have a major hole in the line-up. On June 30th Cox announced that Martin Prado was "too hot to take out right now" and thus earned the starting 2B job. FYI, Prado is a career over .300 hitter in both the minors and the majors. Prado just earned "NL Player of the Week" honors and is, in my opinion, the biggest catalyst for offensive improvement on this team. Outcome?

12 - 6(667%): Record since replacing Kelly Johnson with Martin Prado.

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Jeff Francoeur - .250BA, .282OBP and 46K in 304AB.

Most people liked this kid because he was local, created a lot of buzz as a rookie, and the ladies found him easy on the eyes. However, the honeymoon was over quickly because in the past year and a half, Jeff's plate discipline declined in a hurry. A notorious first-pitch swinger, he killed many rallies, failed to move the runners, rarely walked, and only had spurts of one or two games in a row where he hit well before reverting back to poor form. Many people believed he had too much time on this team to prove himself and hould have been cut long ago. Also in unison was the opinion that he has one of the best arms in the league so his defense never fails. However, 10 assists doesn't make up for his numbers at the plate.

On July 10th he was traded to the Mets for Ryan Church straight up. The only difference is the Mets are using him as an everyday starter while Ryan Church is in a platoon with Matt Diaz. Jeff and Church might appear equally as bad but Ryan Church is our fourth outfielder. Needless to say, we cut a major hole in our line-up by trading Jeff Francoeur. Outcome?

6-2(.750%): Record since trading Jeff Francoeur to the Mets.

The numbers don't lie, but they can't tell the full story. The truth is at one time we had three everyday guaranteed outs. Spread out from leadoff, batting 6th, and batting 8th, when combined with the pitcher batting 9th, and you have a formula for an inconsistent weak offense. Think about it: our best chance to score a run is the 2-5 spot and they HAVE to hit in succession for us to score. Since we don't hit home runs, that means that is three hits back-to-back-to-back just to score one run. Any other way and we're leaving men on base.

By the way, our offense is 2nd in the NL in runs scored for the month of July (Phillies being first of course). Our starting pitching was 2nd behind the Giants, but in our series versus them we have outscored the Giants 19-4. Before this series started, the SP for the Giants was 3.49 and the Braves was 3.59. If the Braves didn't bump the Giants it has to be very close now.

I don't know if the Braves are going to the playoffs or not, but they sure do have a lot of depth to cover injuries right now and they are improving as the year presses on. I think they have a shot.

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I think ridding ourselves of the Francouer experiment, by any means possible, was going to be a boost for our team. The fact that we got a guy like Ryan Church, who a lot of people liked when he was coming up for the Nationals, is a huge plus.

Martin Prado, some say, should have won the 2B outright, but the job was given to Kelly Johnson instead. Now, years later, it appears that justice has been served. The dude can flat hit, plays good defense, at a number of positions, and Kelly has been a true professional that will find a way to contribute, although probably off the bench.

Nate McLouth has been exactly what he is as a player: nothing special, an above average 5-tool player. He sometimes hits for power, will always hit between .275-.300, and always play above average defense in CF. Is he ever going to compete for a triple crown or legitimately win a Gold Glove? Probably not, he's not that flashy. But he is something of a perfect lead-off CF type for a middle market team like the Braves. He is what Jordan Schafer could have been.

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