I’ve been reading a lot of AJC Braves blogger David O’Brien lately. Today he interviews Braves reliever Will Ohman and he asks him if manager Bobby Cox should be blamed for the Braves struggles this season.
Here is Ohman’s predictable response:
“I think that blame is placed at the feet of the manager far too many times. He’s writing out the lineup card, but we’re the ones playing the game.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten the timely hit, or the timely out, made the pitch — whatever the case may be, you can generally go to one play per game that really turns the tide, and unfortunately we just haven’t been able to put that together.”
It’s not often that players throw their manager under the bus, and few managers are more beloved than Cox. So Ohman’s response isn’t too surprising.
But I think Cox should get some of the blame because, as Ohman points out, he is filling out the lineup cards. And he’s doing a crappy job of it. Consider what O’Brien wrote in the comments section of another recent blog post:
By David O’Brien
Consider this stat: With the bases loaded, the Braves are third in the NL with a .282 average (29-for-103) and fourth in OBP (.307). But Francoeur is 3-for-22, twice as many at-bats with bases loaded as any other Braves player. Without his numbers, the rest of the team’s average with bases loaded is .321.
The NL leader, by the way, is the Dodgers at .308.
The Braves’ individual leaders are Chipper at .750 (3-for-4, one walk), Tex at .500 (5-for-10), Kelly at .500 (2-for-4) and McCann at .455 (5-for-11). Chipper has 17 fewer at-bats with bases loaded than Francoeur does, and that Tex and Mac combined have one fewer bases-loaded at-bat than Francoeur. Yes, continuing to bat him fifth or sixth has been a costly mistake.
Hey Dave, don’t forget that with runners in scoring position, Francoeur is hitting .193. Ugh.
The Braves’ biggest problem this year has been an inability to win close games. This, despite the fact that the Braves pitching staff has been the best in the league. If Cox hadn’t insisted on batting Francoeur fifth or sixth all year, how many more runs would the Braves have scored? And how many victories in one-run games would that have translated into?