Archive for April, 2019

#184: Sorting Through Fact &Fiction

Vox O’Reason

22 April 2019
Northeast, GA  (God’s country)

 

 

As we sit here on this beautiful Monday following Easter, the Braves are only 21 games into their 162 game schedule, yet seemingly the sky has already begun falling all over the city of Atlanta.

[DISCLAIMER: While some may perceive I’m throwing shade at a lot of fans here on the ol’ B&S and elsewhere, I am including myself right in the middle of the criticism.]

Yes, even though the NL East is universally perceived as the toughest in MLB this season, as is evidenced by the fact that as of today only 1.5 games separate the division leader from 4th place, and even though the Braves are currently just 1 game behind the division leader, the prevailing thought is that this team is incomplete and sputtering. And just about every pointing finger is directed at the bullpen.

Yes, the bullpen has been bad at times. It has also been good at times, but let’s face it… the bad always seems to be magnified more than the good. And I believe that’s especially true here in Atlanta where we went onto this past off season knowing we needed to address the bullpen.

Then we entered into the new season with very little change. In fact, we didn’t add anyone from outside the organization at all until we picked up Josh Tomlin from the proverbial scrap heap. We certainly didn’t make any headlines by signing any one of a number of top names available on the Free Agent market. And if we’re really honest, that’s what everyone is most upset about, right? The Braves didn’t spend any money on the bullpen. In fact, that narrative has been sharpened a bit more to say that the Braves promised to spend money, have money to spend, yet didn’t spend a dime on the bullpen. Am I right? I’m guilty. I admit it.

But perhaps it’s not quite that easy. Oh, I know it’s always easy to spend someone else’s money. But is it always the right answer? I’ve done a little digging this morning, and have discovered something fairly interesting. So hang in here with me while I go down the lost of top relievers that were available this past off-season, according to MLBTR. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the relievers in their Top 50 Free Agent list, along with the contracts they signed and the results the teams are getting for their stacks of dollars:

#5  Craig Kimbrel remains unsigned despite the cries of most of Braves Nation, and maybe the other twenty-nine fan-bases, as well, because so far, all thirty teams have passed on his demands.

 

#17 Jeurys Familia signed with the Mets for 3 yrs/$30M. He has appeared in 10 games, has a 5.59 ERA, and a 1.966 WHIP. He’s also become a favorite target of the NY newspapers.

 

 

#18  Zach Britton signed with the Yankees for 3yrs/$39M, has appeared in 10 games, and has a 2.89 ERA with a 1.393 WHIP. This is a signing that seems to be working out OK for the Yankees, who have Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Adam Ottavino taking most of the high leverage innings. I say “OK”. Not great, but OK.

 

 

#19  David Robertson signed with the Phillies for 2ys/$23M. He’s appeared in 7 games, has a 5.40 ERA with a 2.100 WHIP. Not very good. He has also spent ten days on the IL with a sore elbow.

 

 

 

#21  Adam Ottavino signed with the Yankees for 3yrs/$27M. He’s appeared in 10 games, has a 3.27 ERA and a 1.455 WHIP. He gave up 2 home runs yesterday, turning a 5-2 lead into a 6-5 deficit. Another “OK” signing.

 

 

#24  Andrew Miller signed with the Cardinals for 2yrs/$25M. In 11 games he has a 7.04 ERA and a 2.087 WHIP. I’m no professional pitching coach, but I don’t think a 7.04 ERA is very good. To the contrary, one of our favorite whipping boys, Jesse Biddle, actually has a respectable 2.38 ERA.

#25  Joe Kelly signed with the Dodgers for 3yrs/$25M. He’s appeared in 9 games, has a 9.90 ERA, and a 1.900 WHIP. And, he’s already blown three save chances.

 

 

#26  Kelvin Herrera signed with the White Sox for 2yrs/$18M. He’s appeared in ten games, as a 1.86 ERA and a 0.828 WHIP. He has easily been the best of this whole bunch. This one was a good deal.

 

#34  Joakim Soria signed with the A’s for 2 yrs/$15M. He has appeared in twelve games, has a 7.84 ERA, and a 1.839 WHIP. Yowser. Ugly!

 

 

#37  Cody Allen signed with the Angels for 1yr/$8.5M. He’s appeared in nine games, has a 6.14 ERA, with a 1.636 WHIP. This is the guy the writers at MLBTR projected would sign with the Braves. I’m glad he didn’t.

 

#40  Bud Norris signed a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays. He was eventually released and almost signed by the Nats….except he wasn’t. I hear Uber needs drivers.

 

 

#41  Brad Brach signed with the Cubs for 1yr/4.35M. The former Brave has appeared in eight games, has a 4..50 ERA and a 2.125 WHIP. Five current Braves relievers have a better ERA, and a 6th misses by just 0.20.  All eight have a better WHIP.

 

#44  Jesse Chavez signed with the Rangers for 2yrs/$8M. The 35-year-old has appeared in ten games, has a 9.31 ERA with a 1.759 WHIP. That’s pretty close to the same numbers for Chad Sobotka who is still a kid and time to continue developing.

 

 

So, what exactly is the point of this exercise?

The point is that this fan is now quite happy that his GM didn’t go out and throw money at one or more of these relievers hoping to “fix” the bullpen, because only one of these twelve signings appears to actually be earning his contract.

Naturally, I had the benefit of hindsight to make these judgments. GMs don’t have that same luxury. They live or die by making assessments and hoping for the best.

Relievers are the one segment of the team that you simply can never predict, as is evidenced by those relievers above. Perhaps if we give our own group of pitchers more than just 21 games out of 162, we might see some improvement.  At worst, we’ll see a better picture of exactly what we have and what we need.  Then we can look at those needs with a better perspective and address them with more options than just throwing money at them.

 

 



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