Archive for the 'Craig Kimbrel' Category

#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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#182: So What Is The Winning Formula?

Vox O’Reason

Sitting here in God’s country in the foothills of the beautiful North Georgia mountains, it’s awful easy to speculate as to whom I want to see the Braves sign or trade for. After all, I’m spending someone else’s money and prospect capital, right? Who doesn’t want a job where they get to have all the fun with no accountability?

As this year’s Hot Stove season winds down to a just couple of weeks remaining, I can look back at all the players I’ve wished for. From Madison Bumgarner to JT Realmuto to Corey Kluber to Andrew McCutchen to Ryan Haniger to David Peralta to Sonny Gray to Bryce and Manny, etc., there really are a lot of players at a lot of positions. It would look like the Braves had a lot of needs to fill, even though it was really just a brief list…

Needs: catcher, outfielder
Wants: starting pitcher, reliever, bench

Nick Markakis

Brian McCann

In reality, our new buddy Alex Anthopolous has addressed our needs, to arguable degrees. He brought home our old friend Brian McCann. And while I cannot think of a better teacher and mentor for our young pitchers, I also cannot with full sincerity say he and Tyler Flowers together can handle 162 games behind the plate. I just can’t. AA also brought back Nick Markakis, an integral piece of last year’s success story, but not a sexy or well received signing. In fact, it was divisive at best. But the fact remains, he addressed the “needs”. Fancred’s Jon Heyman even said, “After signing Markakis, Braves have very solid team and no obvious flaws.”

That’s the equivalent of being told your blind date is really smart and has a great personality.

But let’s get real here. The goal of every GM should be to put together a team that can contend for and win a World Series. Yes, I know we’ve just emerged from a rebuild where there were a few seasons that we were simply not going to contend.

I still feel the residual sting from those years. But a GM still *wants* the team to succeed. And when a team is in position to contend, that GM wants to put together the winning formula to make it happen.

Ah… and that’s the rub isn’t it? Exactly what is the winning formula? Obviously, if I knew that I wouldn’t be sitting in my office, I’d be in a executive office somewhere. But here’s what I can do. I can look back at several World Series winners and see what they have in common. What is it that binds them all together?

Looking back at the last 10 World Series winners, I found the following…

2018 Red Sox: Starting pitchers Chris Sale and David Price, relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly.

2017 Astros: Starters Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, Jr., who got injured and was replaced by Justin Verlander, relievers Ken Giles and Chris Devenski.

2016 Cubs: Starters Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, relievers Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman.

2015 Royals: Starters Danny Duffy and Edison Volquez, relievers Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera.

2014 Giants: Starters Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum, relievers Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt.

2013 Red Sox: Starters Jon Lester and John Lackey, relievers Koji Uehera and Andrew Miller.

2012 Giants: Starters Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum, relievers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo.

2011 Cardinals: Starters Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia, relievers Fernando Salas and Jason Motte.

2010 Giants: Starters Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner, relievers Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo.

2009 Yankees: CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, relievers Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes.

Are we seeing the pattern here?

Obviously all of those teams had potent hitters in their lineups. And so do the Braves. I don’t need to regurgitate our lineup here. But if we want to put a winning team on the field, one that can not only dance during the regular season, but succeed in October especially, we better have a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation and we better have some shut down capability at the back end of the bullpen. Period. Those qualities are simply not negotiable.

Close your eyes and remember Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Mark Wohlers, Rafael Soriano, etc. Fits the pattern, doesn’t it?

So I say all that to say this, on January 28 as the Braves appear to still be chasing Miami’s catcher. Abandon the hunt. Pull back the dogs and turn that attention toward Cleveland and go get Corey Kluber. The same prospect package that would bring back the All-Star catcher will certainly bring back the All-Star pitcher. Get him. And then go sign Craig Kimbrel. The prospect capital is there and the money is there; just go spend it.

 

 

Then maybe next year I can add to the above list “2019 Braves: Corey Kluber and Mike Foltynewicz, relievers Craig Kimbrel and AJ Minter.”

 

 

 

 

126: Ah, Spring, Renewed Hope

by Gil Elliott

by Gil Elliott

What an odd winter we as fans of the Braves have experienced. It began with the announcement the Braves would be moving into their own house beginning in 2017 to a location 17 miles north of the Ghetto. Away from the site of occupancy they have plied their trade for nearly fifty years now.

I guess when we think about a club making a “big move”, that is not exactly what most fans would let come to mind. Not that I blame the Braves organization for wanting to look at how they can stay relevant. They are saddled with what is considered one of the worse local TV deals in all of professional sports. That’s right, not just baseball but in all pro sports.

Well, if you are handed lemons, it is good to know how to make lemonade and a little lemon zest to get maximum return on your lemons. Maybe even plant a few seeds to grow your own lemon trees, too. Looks like the Braves may have done just that.

Huddy

Huddy

BMcCann

BMac

No big free agent signing occurred this season by the Braves. It was really more of a subtraction than an addition in that respect. Former Braves “Baby Brave” Brian McCann signing long term with Yankees for $85MM and mildly surprising bull dog and former staff ace Tim Hudson bolting to the west coast for a 2 year $23MM deal. I would suspect that is about double what the Braves were willing to risk for a guy who is in decline. I can’t really fault either party for that one. The Braves just did not value Tim that much and BMac’s departure has been long seen by many as a one-trick pony whose future is in a place where he needs to hit only four times a game to be successful.  Big Poppi in Boston has certainly been able to make a living doing just that.

In a real baseball league, everyone has to hit and play the field on a fairly regular basis. So, how do you stay relevant where your competition are getting 2 billion dollar local TV deals? Looks like the Braves have made a good start. They have taken a page out of the government’s play book and put in a bunch of back loaded contracts. Not that I don’t applaud Frank Wren and company for thinking outside the box a bit by locking up the core of their home grown talent that has some pretty significant balloon payments at the end. (Didn’t they outlaw those in the mortgage industry?)  Anyway, if it looks good and gives the Braves some stability in keeping their core players together, all the better.

Jason Heyward

JHey

It looks like a lot of money but the way the contracts are structured, it will be the problem of the next owner and General Manager when 2018 rolls around. The Braves will likely have to pay Heyward if he finally develops into another Freddie Freeman as far as a reliable, everyday player or super star. Other than Robinson Cano, I did not really see player contract escalating this past off season. Heck, in five years, who knows what the dollar will be worth?

So! Where does that leave us? The Braves had a surprisingly good team last year. They really were a .500 hundred team for the most part but they took full advantage of a couple of 14 game winning streaks and the too late surge by a disappointing Nationals team who for all intents and purposes took their pre season press clippings a little too seriously. What was their greatest weakness?  Their bullpen, and all of us have seen that movie before.

So, what to expect this season from the Braves? A lot has to go right for the Braves to repeat as NL East champions:

Evan Gattis

Evan Gattis

– An Evan Gattis who can continue to inspire blue collar guys everywhere by swinging a big bat and tape measure home runs. That and he continues to hold up behind the plate.

Freemanfirstbase

Freeman

– A Fab 5 who continues to be clutch at the plate and keeps saying infield errors with the incredible ability to snare baseballs off the deck and way off the mark at first.

Andrelton

Andrelton Simmons

– A super star shortstop who is beginning to look like the next Ozzie Smith, who shows a bit more maturity at the plate and improves his on base percentage with more walks and line drives and fewer pop ups.

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

– The Braves have to hope that the guy who was considered a “throw-in” for fan favorite Marteen Prado continues to amaze with a a hot bat and an improved glove at third.

For the Braves to stay on top, in addition to the above, two of the most disappointing players in Braves history have to at least be among the league average when it comes to hitting. They say strike outs are no worse than any other out. But, with automatic strike outs every at bat, far too often we see the bases loaded with no outs – yet no one scores.

A young pitching staff full of number twos and threes are going to have to step up and stay focused on keeping their team in the game and hope the good guys can hit a three run homer or two and not feel the need to be perfect every game. It is that feeling of continuous pressure which leads to ulcers and gray hair.

Kimbrel

Kimbrel

The Braves secret weapon still has to be their shut-down bull pen. That is the real reason the Braves finished where they did last season. No team outside the Yankees can bludgeon the opposition into the submission every game – and even they found out what it means to have a weak pitching staff.

The Braves may have lost O’Flararty to the A’s this season but they have been without him for quite a while. They still have the best closer in baseball and don’t ever think that the last 3 outs in a baseball game isn’t the hardest to get. The only people who don’t think so are the teams who don’t have that “go-to” kind of guy . Just like having an Ace at the top of the pitching staff who gives your team confidence they can put up a W whenever he takes the mound, having a shut down guy at the end of the game helps everyone on the team try to turn it into a 6 inning game.

SO LET’S GO BRAVES… LET”S REPEAT!!!

122: To Be or Not To Be BMac

VOR

by VOR

 

I heard a pretty extensive discussion about Mac just yesterday. Good points were made.Brian McCann

First, this is Mac’s last deal. This is the one that sets him and his offspring up for life. There will be more than one AL team willing to offer Mac six years given their ability to have him DH occasionally now and extensively later. The Braves cannot offer that.

Second, the Braves will most certainly offer him a qualifying deal. In fact they’d be ecstatic if he’d take it. But he won’t. And the Braves will pick up a high draft pick. For all those who scream “you can’t just let him walk at the end of the year for nothing”, the Braves do get something, and it is something of worth. How do the Braves keep it going? By building through the farm system. How do you guarantee success through the draft? You can’t… but you do give yourself a lot better chance of hitting on a top prospect if you have more draftees. Draft picks matter.

Evan Gattis

Evan Gattis

Third, the sad fact is that money does matter. The Braves could afford to give Mac the payday he deserves, but at what cost? If you pay Mac, who do you not pay? Gotta extend JHey. Gotta extend Freeman. Gotta start thinking about Minor. And if you give Mac the years and money he’s gonna get from Texas or Boston or New York, then you end up like he Phillies with aging players eating up your payroll and spending more time on the DL. Utely is still bothered by the knee and half the player he was. Lee’s missing his next start because of his neck. Ruiz has had a couple of stints on the DL this season with his knees. Howard… remember Howard? Highest paid and least seen. Halladay? Well, you get the picture.

Look, I love Mac. He is the soul of this team this year. But I want what’s best for the Braves, not the Brave. How blessed is this team to have Gattis already performing, Laird on the bench and Bethancourt as a prospect? Many teams can’t even start a guy as good as the guy we have in AA. The Braves have been built to sustain success by moving young talent in and moving older talent out. It is the recipe for long term success. And Mac will look good in Ranger blue. :-)

~ Voice of Reason Raisins

121: Will The Real Braves Team Please Show Up….

by Gil Elliott 'Gil from Mechanicsville'

by Gil Elliott

So, a little more than a month has passed and we have seen two very different Braves teams. The first was a world beater, rolling off a 12 win/2 loss record before BravesSnowrunning into a buzz saw of a road trip. Perhaps it was the idea of playing in an environment more suited to ice hockey than baseball that was the killer but since that stellar start, the Braves have looked very average. Perhaps we expected too much before the Atlanta team came back to earth in the heady first two weeks of the season.  Routing the Braves_Cold_t300Nationals to open their home stand gave credence to the fact the Braves liked home cooking but suddenly the Nats bounced back and took the last two games of the series to earn a split. Then the Mets piled it on, snatching away an almost certain victory for the Braves by doing something no one else has ever done: hitting home runs off both O’Flarerty and Kimbrel in the same game to tie before scoring the go ahead runs in the tenth.

Perhaps we should all take a step back and realize the old adage of “It ain’t over til it’s over” is more true in baseball than any other sport. Rookie sensation Evan Gattis is perhaps human after all and Justin Upton will not hit 72 home runs this season. At least there appears to be some rays of hope with Dan Uggla heating up and BJ Upton at least playing a great centerfield. Now, if only his bat can speed up to get wood on those fast balls he has been futilely waving at for the first month of the season, that big contract won’t look so bad. Chris Johnson may have cooled a little but Freddi Freeman is showing signs of heating up.Brian McCann

The return of Brian McCann should provide a spiritual lift for the Braves. It is not just that he can hit but it is when he hits that has made him such a valued player in the Braves lineup. Nothing should be taken away from the surprising performance turned in so far by Evan Gattis but BMac is still one of the best catchers in the majors. A perennial All-Star until his balky shoulder diminished his production last season, Brian by all accounts appears to have returned to form. The combination of this being a contract year and the fact he should get a little more rest at the back stop position should translate to a Brian McCann we have not seen since his arrival in the Big A. That being a guy who is able to maintain his bat speed into the months of September.

All that said, the Bravos have a pretty tough road trip ahead. Then again, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. GO BRAVES!!

~ Gil ~

In Memoriam

rickcamp

Rick Camp
1953 – 2013

120: Well, two weeks down, thirty three to go.

by Gil Elliott 'Gil from Mechanicsville'

by Gil Elliott

With the first two weeks of the season behind us the Braves have shone they can play, making use of a lot of tools, while not yet at full strength. The Braves have been resilience being able to plug in their bench. This can work in the short term but the long haul is different, for one thing, it weakens the bench which has happened before. What you do not want to happen is to have to play for extended periods using your number two and three guys. In today’s world, advance scouting is a lot easier with so many games being aired over TV. While nothing can beat eyes-on in-person reports when scouting a team and players, being able to review a pitcher or hitter to determine tendencies is far and away easier when you can repeatedly hit the rewind button.

But back to facts, the Braves have been able to follow the old school baseball philosophy of beating up on the weak teams while playing the good teams at least even. This week, the Braves beat the Marlins, the Houston Astros of the National League, although that is a bit unfair to the Astros, they at least have a plan. Anyway, they have beat the Marlins, the Cubs, have taken on the Nationals and swept them all.

McCann

McCann

Everyone’s favorite bet to play in this year’s World Series is the Nationals but the Braves are in control of their own destiny. Soon, Freddie Freeman will be back and Brian McCann will return with a mission. Maybe the Braves will not be able to afford BMac in the future but there will be a lot of deep pocket American League teams and, perhaps even some in the National League, who will be willing to make sure Brian’s grand children will never want for anything.

Freeman

Freeman

The key, however, is still “good pitching beats good hitting”. Bad pitching is revealed for what it is.

Friday night’s game was a classic for Braves fans. Down early and in danger of being blown out, catcher Gerald Laird walked out to the mound after Teheran gave up the fourth run in just the second inning and calmed the rookie with the words of wisdom to buckle down and keep the team in the game. We had seen this same type of melt down before with Mike Minor when he simply gave up after allowing early runs. The change was dramatic: no more hits, a few quick outs and Teheran showed everyone the promise he holds for the Braves organization.

Teheran

Teheran

While Detwiler mesmerized Atlanta hitters for seven innings, he was relieved be a heretofore reputed strong Washington bullpen. Suddenly the National’s pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone and allowed the Braves to tie the game by the ninth and with the Nats’ newly acquired closer Rafael Soriano unavailable after closing three straight games against the White Sox, Drew Storen gave up a two run homer to the Braves’ latest surprise hero Ramiro Pena in the tenth inning. Craig Kimbrel nailed down the save while facing the heart of the Washington batting order. The net result was a shock to the Washington Nationals and a boost to the mojo of the Braves.

Huddy

Huddy

On Saturday, Atlanta’s newest folk hero crushed a high hard one from Washington’s favorite hurler, Stephen Strasburg, and sent it deep into the left field bleachers. As yet, no one has quite figured out how he caught up with the

Kimbrel

Kimbrel

ball. While it was only a two run homer, Tim Hudson made it stand up and actually out pitched the young phenom. The Braves added an insurance run in the ninth and young Kimbrel slammed the door shut the second straight night.

Maholm

Maholm

It was not until Sunday that the Braves best pitching performance was turned in. Paul Maholm turned a gem, mixing an occasional fastball with an assortment of breaking pitches to keep the Washington hitters off balance. The same could not be said of Gio Gonzalas as the Braves hitters feasted on nearly every mistake he made. It is still early days but the Braves have sent a message they are the real Beast of the East this season.

Beachy

Beachy

There is lots of baseball yet to be played but one wonders how the return of Brando Beachy, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann will affect this club.

I’m thinking it will make a strong club even stronger. Woo hoo.. I can hardly wait.

~Gil~


Blog Birthdays

ChrisKlob: Feb 4

Raisins: Mar 13

Berigan: Mar 15

Gil: Apr 15

Salty: Apr 22

FloridaBravesGirl: Jul 8

Skip Caray: Aug 12

Miss Josie: Aug 18

Carolina Lady: Oct 7

BravesAndStuff: Dec 5, 2007


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