Archive for the 'Peter Moylan' Category

#179: The Season Through Our Eyes

          CL

Thought you might enjoy seeing our own comments through the season….

 

22 Feb 2018, VOR wrote:

“I want the Braves to win this year. I really do. But I want them to win over the next 10      years too. Blowing a big wad in 2018 won’t give our young pitchers the experience they  need, and it won’t guarantee us even a division title this year. But it will slow down the final lap of the long rebuild.

The smart executive will allow Nick Markakis to play out his deal this year and take what you get from     him in RF. He will keep Ronald Acuna in AAA for April before starting his ML clock. He will allow his young pitchers to learn in the fire and take the hits this year. He’ll watch the team struggle again in 2018.

But in 2019, he’ll have young stud pitchers with real ML experience. He’ll have a budding star in the OF to go along with an established gold-glover. And he’ll have an opening, but he’ll also have means to fill out his young and talented roster with a that one complimentary player that will make the difference.”

1 Mar 2018, VOR wrote:

“Bullpen candidate Luke Jackson should be thanking his lucky stars that he at least got 1 out this spring. That’s all he’s gotten, but at least he did get one. His line this spring looks like this: 0.1 IP, 108.00 ERA, 3 H, 5 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 0 K”

7 Mar 2018, CJones was quoted:

“The young pups are announcing their presence with authority. Exciting to see them gaining confidence. Won’t be long Atlanta.”

7 Mar2018, Ber wrote:

“…lets say all the stars align, other good teams stink, and 84-78 gets you into a 1 game playoff, is it worth retarding someone’s chance to prove themselves?
I was of course like everyone else wanting to send Nick M packing, but you know…you need some vets, especially in this day and age to show a team full of millennials how the game should be played, and when to have some guts, which we now know he does, in spades…”

12 Mar 201, Gil wrote:

“I have opined before that the Braves will make their move in the market next season and strangely, their needs may be less than we think at this point. We know Kakes will be gone as well as one or both catchers.”

14 Mar 2018, Gil wrote:

“So, just who is a lock at this point and who is on the bubble?

Position players who are locks barring injuries: Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Kurt Suzuki, Tyler Flowers, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis. Also Johan Camargo (either 3rd base or super utility) Charlie Culberson (utility, Swanson body double)

On the bubble are Preston Tucker, Lane Adams, Danny Santana and new comer Ezequiel Carrera.

Likely to get cut, traded or sent down are Chris Steward, Rio Ruiz, Christian Colon, Dustin Peterson and Schempf.

I did not list Acuna but I just don’t see him making the team until mid April due to financial considerations. Everyone knows he will be in Atlanta sooner than later but money is money and I don’t see the Braves front office throwing away a year of control over two weeks.”

16 Mar 2018, Gil wrote:

“Braves sign Anibel Sanchez to a minor league contract and invites to spring training… Okay.. why not? Not a huge risk and you just never know what tweek will fix a pitcher. That and pretty easy to flip/DFA. Almost like hiring day labor.”

21 Mar 2018, VOR wrote:

“We will open the season with Julio, Folty, McCarthy, Newk and eventually Sanchez/Kazmir/Gohara. But let’s just go ahead and call it Gohara because it’ll be his as soon as he’s healthy.

Then at mid-season, I predict McCarthy is gone and Soroka is promoted. The rotation then looks like Julio, Folty, Newk, Gohara, Soroka.

BUT…Max Fried is close himself, not to mention Kolby Allard. Those are the pitchers that are realistic for 2018. Allard might hold off until 2019, but Fried is close now.”

23 Mar 2018, VOR wrote:

“Maybe this comment is a bit premature, but where will Ronald Acuna fit into this batting order? As a righty, he can fit seemless behind (or in front of) Freddie. But do you want to place him there right away? That’s a pretty heavy pressure spot in the lineup.

Maybe initially he bats behind Markakis at #6. But at some point you have to move him up. And to be honest, I think he plays better at 3 than Freddie. He’s a 5-tooler, and his speed would keep the lineup burning behind Ender and Ozzie.

SO while the above is a fair representation of Opening Day 2017, my lineup in 2018 would start with:
Ozzie, 2B (S)
Ender, CF (L)
Acuna, RF (R)
Freddie, 1B (L)
Austin Riley, 3B (R)

.. with a mystery LF and C slotting into the bottom of the order with Dansby.”

25 Mar 2018, Ber wrote:

The Braves have signed outfielder Peter Bourjos to a major league deal worth $1MM, MLBTR’s Steve Adams reports. 🙄
How exciting….really shrewd move Thoppy. No wonder you won so many division titles in the AL east…
really? A major league deal? really???? well, he hit .223 last year (.241 career BA) with a robust .272 OBP. but Ber, he has speed, he can steal a base or two. No, no really. 16 steals the last 3 seasons, caught 16 times.
so, no power, speed, but can’t steal, can’t hit, can’t walk. Can play some D. Ok….can’t Lane Adams do all of that? Or Santana? makes no sense….”

26 Mar 2018, VOR wrote:

“Here are the certainties:

Rotation: Julio, Folty, McCarthy, Newk

Bullpen: Viz, AJ, JoseRam, Sam Freeman, Peter Moylan, Dan Winkler (2 spots remaining)

Lineup: Ender, Ozzie, Freddie, Kakes, Flow, Tucker, Dansby, Rio

Bench: Zuk, Culberson, Bourjos, Flaherty (1 spot remaining)

I’m guessing Anibal Sanchez will make the team as the #5 starter, but could pitch at AAA until the 5th starter is needed. Rex Brothers seems to be the leader to win the 7th bullpen spot. But who will the long reliever be? Would they go ahead and add Sanchez now as the long reliever, with hopes that Gohara will be ready by late April? No clear answers here yet. Had one of the youngsters – Sims, Wisler, Blair – made a positive impression, he would have seized that long relief role. None did.

And that last bench spot… Lane Adams? Chris Stewart?”

10 April 2018, VOR wrote:

“So as to lineup configuration, I once again have to ask Freddie Freeman to give up his favored 3rd spot and be my cleanup hitter. And I’ve got numbers to back me up.

In 2017, he was clearly the team’s top RBI producer if you extrapolate his numbers out to 162 games. He was just 5 behind team leader Nick Markakis even though he played in only 115 games. He also lead the team in OPS (on base percentage + slugging) by a wide margin ->.989 to .823.

And the stats show that the cleanup hitter comes to bat with runners on base over half the time, more than any other spot in the lineup. That’s where I want Freddie.

So I want my high OBP guys – Ender, Ozzie, Acuna – on base ahead of Freddie, and I want Freddie driving them in. If I can get a guy like Cutch to protect Freddie at #5, or even young Austin Riley when he grows into that role, I’ve really got something going at the top and middle of the order. Follow that with a resurgent Dansby Swanson and a catcher that can at least hold his own and our lineup becomes quite formidable.

There are exciting times to come.”

23 April 2018, VOR wrote:

“This is the “go to” lineup we could see very soon:

Ender, CF (L)
Ozzie, 2B (S)
Freddie, 1B (L)
Bautista, 3B (R)
Kakes, RF (L)
Flowzuki, C (R)
Acuna, LF (R)
Dans, SS (R)”

25 April 2018, Ber wrote:

“Hey it actually maybe be Preston Tucker that either gets traded or released which would be a first the guy leading the team in RBIs but he can’t really play Centerfield can he?”

4 Jun 2018, VOR wrote:

“I am glad we decided to keep “Walk Off Charlie” over Joey Bats…”

26 June 2018, Gil wrote:

“So, the Rays defeat the Nits 1 zip, third straight loss for Schurzer… who would have thunk it? Baseball is weird alright. So, the Nits fall another 1/2 game behind the Braves and the Frillies face the Yankees again tonight prior to the boys from DC coming in to the City of Brotherly Love for a four game set.

The best scenario? Phils lose tonight and then split the series with Washington while the Braves win the next seven in a row… yeah, that’ll do it…”

28 June 2018, VOR wrote:

“Now I’m looking at our rotation and thinking:

#1, Julio Teheran, just came off the DL for shoulder soreness.
#2, Folty, just came off the DL for triceps tightness
#3, Newk, thank God for Newk
#4, Anibal Sanchez, just left a game early with calf cramps; been on the DL already for leg problems
#5, Matt Wisler, cannot even express on a family friendly forum what I want to say about typing his name here”

30 June 2018, Ber wrote:

“I think my views on Anibel have changed….did you all get to catch the early part of the game? He was working on/with Julio T basically every inning. Julio looked terrible in the 1st, walking 2. Fastball was 91-92..and just looked like it was going to be a long night. seemed from the camera on the two of them all the time, Anabel talking to him, showing him how to turn more in his windup, showing where he was finishing up after a pitch….Julio was paying attention….and he did go 6 innings without giving up a run. Not sure why Julio has lost some off his fastball, I am sure he’d like to have 95 MPH every start, but if anyone can show him how to survive without a great fastball, it’s A Sanchez. And no doubt the younger players see Julio , the grizzled vet of 26 listening, they will listen too. so perhaps it would be better to keep him, as long as he pitches well, if he’s helping a bunch of guys not even old enough to drink….”

30 June 2018, Gil wrote:

“After a month long stretch of what could be described as malaise, the Braves pitching staff appears to have found itself and the offense has reawakened.

Fried looked absolutely stellar tonight.

The Braves bats are booming.”

2 July 2018, VOR wrote:

“I think we’ve said it time and time again, Luke Jackson and Matt Wisler are not major league pitchers, Sam Freeman has lost his 2017 mojo, and Pete Moylan is way past his prime. That’s 4 out of the 8 relievers. Half of the bullpen. HALF.

Folks, we cannot make a real concerted push into October with half a major league bullpen.”

2 July 2018, VOR posted from Gabe Burns:

“In St. Louis series:

Starters ERA: 0.00
Bullpen ERA: 9.64″

3 July 2018, Gil wrote:

“Watch the Braves bullpen come in is like Chinese water torture.. Walks, base runners etc. I wonder if Snit buys Malox by the case?”

3 July 2018, VOR wrote:

“Well, our bullpen actually did an amazing job last night. Of course, there was no Matt Wisler, no Pete Moylan, and Luke Jackson did not enter the arena. Sam Freeman did pitch… and of course walked the first couple of batters he faced. But a well turned double play bailed him out.

Credit where credit is due:

Dan Winkler did not have a clean inning, but he also did not panic. And he missed a few bats.

Jesse Biddle has ice water in his veins and some wicked pitches. That 10th inning was something else.

AJ Minter is getting quite comfortable as closer. You can truly see him growing into the role.”

3 July 2018, Gil wrote:

“Yep, at least this team is not a one trick pony. You really don’t know who will be the guy who will deliver the big hit. It is fun trying to guess though.

The key is still the bullpen though.”

31 July 2018, VOR wrote:

“So how impactful was the deal for Adam Duvall, who will now platoon with Ender, playing LF against LH pitchers with RAJ sliding over to CF?

DOB sums it nicely: He’s hit as many homers as Freddie Freeman or Kris Bryant over past three seasons and has 2nd-most Defensive Runs Saved this season among LFs

Of course he strikes out alot too. He is a classic power bat. But he’s just 2 years removed from being an All-Star with a 31 HR season.”

31 July 2018, VOR wrote:

“The O’s Kevin Gaussman would be a decent alternative if the price on Archer is just prohibitive. They are reportedly “closing In” on another deal.”

31 July 2018, VOR wrote:

“Rotation will now be Julio, Folty, Anibal, Newk, and Gausman, whose last start for the O’s was Saturday.”

3 Aug 2018, VOR wrote:

“New dates for possible future consideration for countdowns (courtesy of young Gabe Burns):
*NL Wild Card game will be Tuesday, Oct. 2
*NLDS begins Thursday, Oct. 4.

I believe these dates will be relevant for Braves fans this year. 😀”

3 Aug 2018, Gil wrote:

“I think the team is very focused now, the trades made by Thoppy appear to have allowed the Braves to hit the re-set button. They cannot worry about what the Phillies and the Nats do, they have to only control their own destiny.”

4 Aug 2018, Gil wrote:

“Wasn’t Anibal magnificent last night? The guy is a master.”

6 Aug 2018, VOR posts:

“In a pennant race, a good ‘pen goes a long way.@Braves relievers were insanely good as they earn Bullpen of the Week honors: https://atmlb.com/2vLls1y 

8 Aug 2018, VOR wrote:

“Sean Newcomb is becoming the pitcher we have been looking for. He is emerging as a real 1 or 2… right along with Folty. With maturity, Newk is gaining control of his fastball and using it effectively. It’s a good lesson in patience and not judging a pitcher too quickly (cough Kolby Allard) as Sean is now panning out to be exactly what the scouting reports predicted.”

8 Aug 2018, Gil wrote:

“Upon further review…. The Braves have assembled a pretty nice ball club haven’t they? Not exactly the 2018 Boston Red Sox but they can hang with anyone. It all comes down to timely hitting and stout pitching.”

9 Aug 2018, Ber wrote:

“How about Charlie Culberson? I have to say, I was way wrong about him…I truly couldn’t figure out why he was picked up”

9 Aug 2018, Gil wrote:

“And what of Luke Jackson? Wow, that was a huge strike out last night. Could it be he is finally putting it all together?”

9 Aug 2018, Gil wrote:

“So, the Braves are 10-8 now since the All-star break, not exceptional but not terrible when you think of how poorly the Braves have played in years past to start the second half. The Braves go home to face the resurgent Brewers and the Nits fly to ChiTown to face the always tough Cubbies. Meanwhile, the Fightns’ move on to San Diego.

Just win Braves, you hold your own destiny in your hands…”

10 Aug 2018, Ber wrote:

“What a game pitched by Gausman! One of the best games pitched by a brave all year….he looked…smoother to me than the first start”

13 Aug 2018, Gil wrote:

“Good morning all. Big day ahead for the Braves. The premier of Touki Toussaint this afternoon against the fish and then in the night cap, Foltynewicz toes the rubber. An opportunity to add to their lead over both the Phils and the Nats.”

13 Aug 2018 Gil wrote:

“What a really nice debut for Toussaint. I am much more impressed with his stuff than Allard. Don’t get me wrong, Allard is a nice kid with a bright future but Toussaint has “stuff”… And perhaps his most impressive play was covering the first base bag to complete the DP in the 6th.

Ronald Acuna had a day…. Just rocking it right now. I think he is finally getting comfortable.”

14 Aug 2018, VOR wrote:

“So while the Braves continue with 2 more against the Minnows, the Phillies open a 2-game series with the mighty Red Sox.

I can’t help but grin just a little.”

20 Aug, 2018, Gil wrote:

“Now it’s on to Pittsburg. Amazingly, the Braves are still in first place, even after getting swept 4 games. So there is that.”

21 Aug, 2018, Gil wrote:

“It is still anyone’s pennant to win in the NL East. No one has run away with it but the Nats are a demoralize bunch. The next three days will be a tell as far as the Frillies and Nits go.

And who expected the Mets and the Marlins to help out the Braves so much?”

23 Aug 2018, VOR wrote:

“And that’s probably the best game I’ve ever seen Julio pitch, and I’ve seen him pitch alot over the years. He used his breaking pitch more last night than ever before. One has to wonder if the Gas Man has been in his ear.”

28 Aug 2018, VOR wrote:

“Our boys in blue wake up to a 3.5 game lead today beholding to our broken brothers on the beltway.

Beautiful.”

29 Aug 2018, VOR wrote:

“The Braves wake up today to a 4.5 game lead.”

2 Sept 2018, Gil wrote:

“Pretty impressive turn around for the Bravos this weekend. Julio continues to amaze me. Acuna continues to amaze everyone….”

5 Sep 2018, VOR wrote:

“Last night as I was watching a part of the game, it struck me that Johan Camargo has actually become a pretty important part of this 2018 team. Not only is he an incredible fielder at 3B, he’s 3rd in AVG, 3rd in OBP, and 4th in SLG. Also, believe it or not, he’s 4th in HR and 3rd in RBI.”

9 Sep 2018, Gil wrote:

“Shame on me for doubting this team… 6 runs in the ninth to cover up Luke Jackson’s stink..”

12 Sep 2018, Gil wrote:

“Given the youth of this club, it may well be the Braves will celebrate with ginger ale rather than champagne…”

23 Sep 2018, VOR posted:

Braves Magic Number @BravesMagicNum:  0″

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#177: Thoughts from the cheap seats…

 

Vox O’Reason

 

You all know me… I’m the most positive person around Stuffville.

Well, I’m positive that the bullpen is a major weakness, and I’m positive it will prove to be what takes us down if it’s not addressed.

I’m not even sure Thoppy can continue to measure until closer to the deadline.

Here’s how I react when each of our relievers come into a game, including Viz who should be back in a few days, and excluding Parsons who was already informed he’s heading back to AAA:

Vizcaino
I’m confident

AJ Minter
I’m confident

DanWinkler
I’m confident

Shane Carle
I’m fairly confident

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P Moylan
I’m praying

Luke Jackson
Sorry he’s being called on
again

S Freeman
I’m praying

Jesse Biddle
I’m confident

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We desperately need 3 things to happen, and to happen soon.

#1, we need Luiz Gohara to get his head back on straight and help us out in middle innings. Who would you have rather seen come into yesterday’s 7th inning – Sam Freeman or Luiz Gohara? ‘Nuff said.

#2, we need to give up on Luke Jackson, whom we know is never going to be any better, and swap him out for Max Fried, who actually has real potential. Unless Fried’s being preserved as a starter for trade purposes, go ahead and move him into a role where he can contribute now. His most likely role in ATL is in the pen anyway. He’s not starting over Newk, Folty, Soroka, Allard, Julio, Gohara, etc. See what I mean? He’s be a heckuva lot better in this pen than Jackson, who has already passed cleanly by all 29 other teams through waivers twice this season. That means not only does nobody else want him, apparently we don’t either. Yet here he is.

#3, we need AA to make a deal for a reliever and show both the team and the fans that management is serious about 2018. The longer he waits, the more he shakes the faith of the faithful. Instead of taking 2 of 3 from each respective league’s cellar dweller, we lost both series. We could be sitting today 5 game up on the 2nd place Phils and 5 1/2 game up on the Nats. Instead we’re allowing them to stay close while we go on a 10 game road trip against 3 of the best teams in baseball.

Want to really make a commitment?  Go to Oakland and deal for both closer Blake Treinen and 3B Jed Lowrie.

Blake Treinen

Jed Lowrie

Lowrie is having a really solid year at the plate and is only signed through the end of this season and would not block the incoming Austin Riley. Treinen would either be our closer or a solid lock down 8th inning guy. We need both. Having Winkler/Minter/Treinen/Viz at the back end of the bullpen shortens the game.

 

Keone Kela

Adrian Beltre

Want to really make a splash, go to TEX and deal for their closer Keone Kela and 3B Adrian Beltre. That would put all of baseball on notice that we’re serious about contending for a title. The flamethrowing Kela is 20/20 in save opportunities, is controllable through 2021, and is on the block because TEX is in a position with him in similar fashion to the way the Braves were with Kimbrel a few years ago. What good does it do to have a top closer when you’re a losing team? And they’d do Beltre a real solid favor by letting him go to a contender rather than languish on a loser. Can you imagine him hitting in the cleanup spot in our order?

There are already rumblings that the Braves are interested in Beltre. Alone he won’t even bring back a top 100 guy. But I’d much rather see them go for the ring and snag Kela too. That’d be a major coup.

 

113: Another Sunday, More Thoughts…

The only thing about watching a Sunday baseball game is you usually only get to see all the scrubs play…

Looks like McCann is finally breaking out of his doldrums. Now, if only there was someone Uggla could talk with to get him turned around.

Chipper is getting back to where he was before the misplayed one hopper nearly took his leg off. McCann is making good contact. Bourne and Prado are just outstanding right now. Freddi Freeman is learning to play through the pain, Jayson Heyward is getting back to his rookie form and Simmons is really a nice surprise with the bat. That leaves Uggla on the MIA list.

That and having a reliable guy at the back end of the rotation.

Oh, and someone beside Venters to come in and throw gas on the fireman. After all, they are called fireman because they are supposed to be able to douse the flames, not be arsonist..

If Ben Sheets could return to form, that would be the outstanding story of the year, right next to Jair coming back and maybe Moylan being Moylan and being the ground ball artist he once was.

So, who do the Braves release to make room for another bat? I would say Jack Wilson is the 25th guy on the roster right now, closely followed by Hinske and Diaz. I once thought it would be Francisco but the big third baseman appears to be turning the corner a bit. The kid has so much raw power, he fails to realize the wall scraper count just as much as the 450 foot bombs. The only thing a big long loopy swing produces is a whooshing sound as the bat passes over the ball….

Minor or Delgado? Which has been more effective or maybe more correctly, who has been more consistent? One of them will go when Sheets comes up. Both have options, one is a righty who has better velocity, the other is a lefty. Both seem to hit the wall at some point. I think the prevailing thoughts of the many talking heads in baseball is the Braves need to do something to solidify their pitching staff. Adding another reliable and proven starter to the mix is the most likely answer. None of us know what kind of financial constraints Frank Wren is under but expecting to find the winning lottery ticket under your pillow is not likely to happen and makes for a pretty poor business strategy.

The old adage in racing is speed cost money, how fast do you want to go? Well, the same is true in baseball… Yes, sometimes a team finds the “Golden Ticket” but for the most part, to be a consistently winning franchise, you have to be willing to shell out the big bucks, just ask Ted Turner.

#108: A Handful Of Questions About The Future

By VOR aka Voice of Raisins/Reason/Reality/Ridiculous/Rose-colored glasses

JEFFERSON, GA (God’s country) – There was a good bit of chatter a few days ago on MLBTR’s chat regarding the Braves, their pitchers and Michael Bourn. All very good questions, and questions we all pretty much ask regularly. So here are a handful of questions for 2012 and beyond:

1. Thumb: Will the Braves trade DLowe in the off season?
2. Index Finger: Will the Braves trade JJ in the off season?
3. Bird Finger: What pitcher goes to make room for Julio Teheran next year?
4. Ring Finger: What will Bourn make in arb?
5. Pinky: Will the Braves try to extend Bourn?

The first three fingers are about pitching. Literally. Those are the fingers used to grip the baseball… but I digress. Those first 3 questions can really be combined, and expanded to include Mike Minor, who must be included in the rotation candidates. No one seems to remember that Minor, like Teheran, has very little left to learn at AAA. He’d already be in the rotation of almost every other major league team. So, what to do? You already have 3 young stud pitchers in Hanson, Jurjjens & Beachy. Huddy is likely a Brave until he retires. He’s the veteran rock that all the youngsters lean on. He’s so entrenched in the community that I can’t see the Braves even entertaining any thoughts of parting with him. Huddy is a lock for next season. So is Beachy. He’s got every quality you want in a pitcher. He’s gritty, smart and cool under pressure. And he can pitch… not throw, pitch. He’s Greg Maddux lite. Following that, you have the 2 star youngsters, Jurjjens and Hanson, and you have the overpaid grizzled veteran DLowe. Obviously, one of those 3 pitchers will not be here next season.

First, let’s address JJ and Tommy. Both are under team control for the near future, and both are represented by Ber’s favorite, Scott Boras. Big Red, though, is under team control for a couple of years more than JJ, who is a FA in 2014. Red doesn’t hit the market until 2016. Plus, he’s the big righty power pitcher that every rotation must have. Tommy’s not going anywhere for a while.

So… for those keeping score, in no particular order, Huddy, Beachy and Hanson are locks for next year’s rotation. And I don’t think I’m going out on too flimsy a limb to say that Teheran/Minor will be the #5 next season. That battle will be fierce, with the loser going back to Gwinnett to be the first guy on Frank’s Rolodex.

So that really leaves one spot for DLowe and JJ in 2012. I know… no real earth shattering revelation here. We can all see that handwriting on the clubhouse wall. The conventional wisdom says that DLowe will finally be tradable with just 1 year left on his onerous contract and that he is the obvious one to go. I say, “Hold on there, Baba-louie! I’ll do the thinnin’ around here!” (Vague reference to Quickdraw McGraw…) The decision between the two is not as cut and dried as some would suggest. Yeah, I know that JJ is an All-Star and was clearly the Braves best starter for the first half of 2011. He was pretty much their best starter the first half of 2010. Problem is, they make us play the second half, too. JJ is a very talented pitcher, no doubt. He’d be the #1 on many teams in both leagues. His value is pretty high. That, to me, makes him the clear choice. His value will never be higher, and he’s gonna have to go after 2012 anyway. Too many studs in the pipeline.

And I’ll even offer one other scenario. I can see the Braves trading JJ during the off season, gaining a nice return while opening a spot for Teheran/Minor, and then dangling DLowe at the 2012 deadline. At that point, he’ll be the veteran rental pitcher that a lot of contending teams will covet going toward the playoff push. That’s likely where they’ll get their best return for him.

You say, “VOR! No way the Braves would have two rookies in next year’s rotation!” Reasonable objection… but again I say, “Hold on there, Baba-louie!” First, Minor has had enough major league starts that he isn’t a true rookie in that sense. Plus, he pitched in last year’s playoff push, and pitched quite well, if you’ll recall. Second, Teheran – whom I think wins the #5 spot – will have half a season under his belt before the aforementioned trade deadline. This is the pros, folks. Go big or go home. After 14 or so starts, is he a true rookie? I say no…

So my final assessment says the Braves will start, in no particular order, Huddy, Beachy, Hanson, Teheran & DLowe/Minor. Formidable, and among the best in baseball.

Now… Bourn. (Transition homage to The Scribe…)

4. Ring Finger: What will Bourn make in arb?
A: A lot.

5. Pinky: Will the Braves try to extend Bourn?
A: No. 2 words: Scott Boras. Boras won’t allow an extension; rather he’ll take him all the way to FA. It’s what Boras does. And Boras wants a lot, like DLowe kind of money. The Braves won’t make that commitment to Bourn. I can’t see it.

So that leads to…

6. Antonio Alfonseca’s 6th Finger: Who is the Braves CF in 2013 and beyond, now that Jordan Schafer is gone?
A: The water gets very murky here…

Schafer was not going to be the Braves long term guy anyway. He had his chance, and couldn’t make the step. As far as the farm system goes, they really like Matt Lipka, a SS who they have talked a lot about converting to CF. He’s a tremendous athlete with a ton of speed. He’s very young though (19), and 2013 will be pushing it for him… really pushing it. By the way, I am not sold on Jose Constanza long term, but I suppose you never know. He was hitting .312 with a .361 OBP for the season in AAA before his call-up, so I suppose he could just be a late bloomer. But we’ve had our Charles Thomas moments before.  I need to see more.  Outside the organization, that’s why you trade JJ.

One thing is for certain. I think we have seen what Frank and Fredi’s vision is for this team. In the post PED era, speed is the difference maker.  Pitching has risen to dominance, and good pitching will always beat good hitting, but speed can beat a good pitcher.  Speed can frustrate a good pitcher. There is no defense for it.

Somewhere, Whitey Herzog is smiling…

~VOR~

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93: Spring Has Sprung – or soon will!

by Berigan

Well, with snow blanketing much of the US, clearly – it’s time to talk Braves baseball!

So, what do we make of the Braves version 2010?  Wasn’t it weird to have an offseason where the last thing we as fans were looking for was starting pitching?  Too many starters in fact. When did we last have that problem?! 19 hundred and something, at the latest!  Of course if any of the main guys go down, then we are like every other team in baseball, hoping and praying someone at AAA can go 5 innings and only give up 3-4 runs. But, as of now, I am sure everyone will agree that our starting pitching is in very good shape. As good as it was at the start of last season.

Now, the bullpen.  Ahh, yes, the bullpen.  While Gonzo and Soriano are not perfect, my feelings are they are better than Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner.  At least the former are younger!  😉

Takashi Saito has had an ERA under 3 for his 4 seasons in the big leagues.  Very impressive!  But he is also going to be 40 on Valentine’s Day.  He also was in only 56 games last year.  I sure hope one of the translators will make both facts well known to Bobby! 😉

Wagner is a relative spring chicken compared to him as he will turn 39 in July.  62 Games and 62 innings the past two years.  Can he pitch in 3 straight games?? 2 straight??

We know if the 87 games Peter Moylan pitched in last year don’t cause his arm to fall off this spring,  he will be a steady presence, most likely racking up 80 plus appearances again. Kris Medlen should continue to improve on last years work.

Eric O’Flaherty will get the lefties out once again.  Scott Proctor, if he has regained his health, could be a big boost to the bullpen. Bobby has to find someone else to rely on besides Gonzo, and Sori…oh wait…anyway.  He has to find a way to trust someone besides the 2 middle-aged guys.  Just can’t use them like guys 10-12 years younger.

Will Manny Acosta finally get his act together??? Will Chris Resop and his 100 MPH stuff finally come through??? Those guys clearly have great stuff….

Speaking of question marks:  our offense.  (Some of this is going to be ‘no duh, Berigan,’ please bear with me!)

Starting at 1st. Troy Glaus.  Man, if this was 2009, we would be tickled to get him after another 100 RBI season.  But it’s 2010 and in 2009 he hit .172 in just 29 AB’s. The biggest thing going in his favor is he is still fairly young, won’t turn 34 til August.

2nd Base. Toot toot! (me tooting my own horn) I have long been a fan of Martin Prado. It seemed like he would never get his chance to show what he could do as a full time player. Finally got that chance, and showed to everyone he deserves it. Still, he only has 770 AB’s for his career, and some guys the league does figure out. I don’t think he will be one of those though.

SS: Yunel Escobar. He has finally proven himself, offensively and defensively -well, as long as no one is sliding into him!- but what about between the ears?  Didn’t it seem last year that any day he would do just the right thing to get his talented behind traded???  Will he finally mature this year???

3rd base:  Ol Chipper. There was this 37 year old.  He hit  17 HR’s drove in  62 RBI’s and hit .337.  Then he turned 38 and in 404 AB’s hit 14 HR’s drove in  44 RBIs and hit a lousy .255.  A lot of people thought he was washed up.  His manager even was trying to tell him he wasn’t a regular anymore.   He hit .275 at the age of 39, .288 at the age of 40, and at 41, in 505 AB’s he hit 19 HR’s Drove in 82 RBIs, and had a .330 B.A. Unless I have a cystal ball  (I do, but it only sees 30 seconds in the future)  I am not talking about Chipper, but another guy already in the the Hall of Fame.  Stan Musial!

Funny, when Chipper hit .248 at the age of 32, no one thought he was washed up. He hit .264 last year and even he seems convinced he’s about done.  Like the great Joaquin Andujar said, “There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, You never know!”

Wait, what am I forgetting on the infield?  Catcher. McCann and David Ross.  If healthy, no worries.  Nuff said.

Left field:  Matt Diaz hit .313 last year!  Seems hard to believe, doesn’t it?!  He was very streaky early, .216 in April, .378 in May, .250 in June.  I think if he didn’t take those terrible swings on pitches low and outside he’d be thought of as a regular, IMO.

Anyway, likely a platoon guy with Melky Cabrera, who last year hit .274, 13 HR, 68 RBIs.  He lost the starting job last spring but won it back when Brett Gardner went on the DL.  So, Cabrera was in 154 games last year, the guy to man center for a team that won 103 games.  Of course, they also traded him.  But both he and Diaz arguably should be starting players, though neither has a whole lot of power. Seems we do have plenty of outfielders though, if you toss in Eric Hinske.

Center field:  Nate McClouth. Did you know he hit 26 HR’s and drove in 94 in 2008?  Do you understand why I think it’s bat poop crazy for him to bat leadoff on a team with little power?  *sigh*  Tilting at windmills.

Right Field:  some kid – what’s his name?  The JHey Kid!  Is he the real deal?  Everyone says he is.  Those short clips I’ve seen on the web show one of the smoothest swings out there – but he is 20.  What can we truly expect from him?

Willie Mays failed at first.  Cal Ripkin was bad at the very beginning, as well. ARod, at the age of 20, hit 36 HRs, drove in 123 and had a .358 BA.  But he also played 65 games in the previous two years in the majors. 

Ken Griffey jr came up at 19, and hit 16 Hr’s drove in 61, and hit .264. Are those realistic numbers for Heyward?  Would we win with those numbers?  Or How about what a 23 year old rookie by the name of Mark McGwire did as a rookie?  49 Homers! Not much pressure, but he should shoot for 50 to break his record!  :mrgreen: Still, wish the Braves had brought JHey up for a cup of coffee, especially if they are counting on him right out of the box.

So, long story longer – who knows what will happen this year?  3rd, 2nd or even 1st place all seem to be valid possibilities.  Which is why we watch the games, right?

PLAY BALL!!

~Ber~

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88: Would you believe, we missed it by this much!

Comments and articles herein are the intellectual property and opinions of the writers and may not be copied without permission of the writers.

by Gil of Mechanicsville

Would you believe, we missed it by this much….

Last week in a post race interview with Nascar racing bad boy Kyle Bush, he was asked if he felt let down by just missing stock car racing version of a play-off by 12 points, just edged out by another team in the final race of the regular season. He was reflective and truthful in his reply when he said it was not the most recent race that was his downfall but rather the accumulation of near misses and questionable moves over the 26 race prelude that cause him to come up short.

I think that could also sum up the Braves season quite well. It was not losing two of three to the Phillies at home last week that have all but ended the Atlanta team’s playoff hopes but many instances where the Braves failed to play up to their potential over the course of a 162 game schedule.

However, the Braves faithful should not lose sight of what has been a remarkable turn-around for a club that was woefully bad last year. Going from a team which lost 90 games in 2008 to one that will likely win that many this year. In a world where everything seems to rely on winning the last game played in a season, the following of the Bravo’s should take heart that the future bodes well for their favorites.

There are a lot fewer holes to fill for next season. Frank Wren and company has done a pretty spectacular job of rebuilding the pitching staff and is a much better place than last year when filling the team’s need for a power bat in the line-up. In fact could be made that if the Braves had been able to field the team they currently have during the entire season, the results would be much different right now as far as the playoffs and likely would be holding off the Phillies for the NL East title.

While it is purely speculation on my part, here are some of the names I doubt you will see on an Atlanta uniform next year:

KJohnson

Kelly Johnson, while he may still ply his trade with another major league team next year, I doubt it will be in Atlanta. Kelly still has potential but the Braves have other options that are far cheaper and have greater ability at his position.
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RafaelSoriano
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Rafael Soriano: While he can be a top shelf closer at times and un-hittable, his price tag will be too high for as far as Atlanta is concerned especially with the emergence of Peter Moylan and Eric O’Flaherty.
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Mike Gonzalez: See above. Rocky will make a great Gonzo1closer for a team that does not over use him. Gee, can you imagine what a pitching coach like Dave Duncan could do with a talent like his? Awesome.
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.
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AndersonG4

Garret Anderson: While he has shown flashes of his greatness at time this year, I doubt he will return for an encore performance. With some pretty good talent in the wings for the Atlanta with Heyward and Scheffer, I think the money paid to him this season will be used elsewhere. Probably to re-sign Adam LaRoche to a two year contract.

.
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Standings as of 9/23/09:

88b
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~Gil~

87: The 2009 Braves – or ….

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by Savannah Guy

How We Managed To Lose Games We Should’ve Won.

The most frustrating thing in sports is watching your team lose when you know it is more than capable of winning. Surely all fans feel or think or say that as they seek answers to why their team failed to have a winning season and reach the playoffs. For some, like the Pirates and the Nationals, the answer is simple. For teams like the Braves, the answers are more complex. The Braves have an average payroll, above average rotation and that’ll get you to the post season. Get players that’ll get you some runs and you’re there in October.

The Braves are not going anywhere but home when this season ends. Why did that happen? Is it just “the way the ball bounces”? Is it just “that’s baseball”, or is there something or someone that we can point to and confidently and reasonably say, “that was the one undeniable cause of our losing season”. In sports, that is almost impossible to prove and there are as many opinions as there are fans.

Seeking blame is not a helpful exercise nor is it a fruitful cause, but seeking answers to questions and solutions for problems is worthwhile and helpful, even if the exercise is to satisfy our own curiosity and sense of logic, reason, cause and effect. A few excerpts inspired me from a Mark Bowman, MLB article last night:

Jair Jurgens

Jair Jurrjens

“I don’t even know what to say anymore,” said Jurrjens, who has seen the Braves score two runs or fewer in 14 of his 29 starts. “It’s getting frustrating for us now, especially because of how big these games are for us right now.”

I’m afraid this may be closer to what he wanted to say: I do know what to say after playing with this club… that it’s been frustrating from day one in Atlanta. First chance, I’m out’a here.

“Wells was hard to hit at,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He was wild enough to be effective. He would make some real bad pitches and then make the most Greg Maddux-[like] pitches you could ever imagine.”

Another perspective: Hate to mince words but must differ with the skipper… Wells was actually easy to “hit at”. We hit “at” him all night, trying to impatiently force the situation and pull the ball and wound up swinging at pitches way up and way out of the zone. Wells was “effectively wild” (stunk) but occasionally got one over. We helped him out a great deal by swinging at everything except, uh, the ones across the plate.

This season is a nightmare for the Braves rotation, where one run might lose a game and three runs pretty much assures you of hanging one in the loss column.

I’m not tracking, but it seems like we were on a pretty good roll until Chipper put himself back in. His pinch three run double made him forget all about the slumpfest he’s been in, figured he was invincible, happy days were here again and determined he’d play every game after that. That hasn’t worked out very well for Chipper or the team.

But that’s just one player and I don’t hang this or any season on just one player. Was it untimely injuries to McLouth, Infante, Prado, Church, just as they were playing so well? Was it sticking with French and Kelly so, so incredibly long? Did we overlook Diaz too long? Was it the unwillingness or stubbornness to keep Chipper in, or allow him to camp in the 3 spot so long? Is it having Mac bat cleanup when Rochey would be a better fit? Were we one big bat shy of having a winning team?

Should we have kept Conrad in Atlanta to play second, moving Prado to third to let Chipper have some real time off? Should we be resting Mac more and let Ross contribute?

Was it a bad idea to pitch Gonzo and Soriano with big leads too many times or put them in to pitch too often on consecutive nights when most managers would’ve used others in the pen?

Medlen

Medlen

Did we pitch Moylan way too much, especially with him coming off surgery? Is Lowe done as a starter?  Have we mismanaged Medlen enough yet, jerking him around to the point of throwing him out of synch and robbing him of confidence? Has “loyalty” or “patience” with a struggling Norton hurt the team?  Is Garret done as a position player?

As always, there is not one single reason a team loses and not one single player that causes a team to lose the season. “All of the above”  (and more) would be the only viable and fair answer to so many questions about this 2009 season.

Yet, even with all of the injuries (which all teams have) and slumps (which all teams have), our starting pitching has been excellent. With the exception of Lowe, our rotation is at least as good as any in the game. Cy Young could not have won more games than Jair this year with such pitiful run support.

This season, even with less than stellar offense, with just a little less loyalty and patience and that stubborn old playbook, the Braves could be ahead of the Phillies today. We had a good enough team this year but in my humble opinion they were mismanaged all the way. Bobby didn’t manage bad enough to be tossed out in mid season as some owners do, particularly because of the laurels he rests on, and he didn’t manage so blatantly bad that he lost all benefit of doubt about his current capability.

The Braves were managed just well enough to almost win. Luck had nothing to do with this season like it did last year. Our injuries could have been played through. Rally-killing, automatic-out players that were mired in months long, excruciating slumps could have been lifted. Luck played no role in the 2009 season, unless you consider having a great manager that is (still) on top of his game good luck. A few less injuries to key players would have helped as would the good fortune of landing a big bat, but our bad luck in 2009 was bad managing.

managers1

Maybe we’ll manage to get’em next year.

~SG~


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81: C’mon, kid!

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by Savannah Guy

Watched the first two innings last night. A pretty exciting evening it was, but not because of the listless, hapless Braves. About the time the Braves game was called, a powerful storm rolled into Savannah like a freight train with massive lightning, driving pea-sized hail, rain, water spouts and micro-bursts. Pretty exciting stuff. Not so much the Braves.

It’s gotten to the point that Jeff Francoeur is more productive striking out than making contact. If it were not for killing rallies and hitting into double plays he’d get no action at all. Last night’s double-play with the bases loaded was not even a surprise.

As Gil said, it’s not Francoeur’s fault the Braves lost and it’s not Bobby’s fault that French can’t hit. However, Jeff has become the living, breathing metaphor for the entire team, with the exception of Chipper and Mac and our three starting pitchers ….. who are beginning to show their inevitable frustration for the lack of run support. The team looks listless when they take the field. They are a rudderless team. They looked as though they’d rather be somewhere else. Kelly is lost and confused. I’ve never seen this Atlanta team look so bad… ever.

So, what is the problem? Who should take the blame for French taking the field every day? Who is to be blamed for the 250 “slugger” taking a pouting 2-day, truncated stint in Mississippi? Who should answer for 233 hitting (missing) Kelly Johnson being cemented into second base when Prado or someone else could fill the spot?

Who takes the rap for Schafer struggling way too long before finally, appropriately, mercifully being sent back to the minors where he belongs this year? Who is responsible for using Peter Moylan until his TJ-recovering arm falls off? Who is responsible when the entire team goes into a funk and stays in that funk for two months? Who is ultimately responsible when a professional ball club appears listless, lost, confused and befuddled for so long? Who should be called on the carpet?

Who will call those in responsible management positions onto the carpet? With Liberty and the current regime, there will be no response to this miserable, hapless play, other than the usual spin.

For this Braves team, the GM, Cox and his buddies (otherwise known as coaches), there is no accountability for results outside of the accounting department and the dugout where some derrieres rest way too comfortably on their country club, media guarded, bullet-proof, faded and tattered laurels.

BobbyCox
C’mon kid.

~SG~

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74: How’s it looking?

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So. What’s going on in baseball?

Manny has his $8.5m condo in Boston up for sale. (That’ll show ’em, Manny!) 🙄

Smoltz is happy is Boston. I wish him well. (shrug)

Junior is 0-9. But, according to sports writers, the fans are ‘energized’. 🙂

The Yankees drama continues. (Their behavior and ‘drama’ remind me of a bunch of junior high school girls)

…..yawn….

What about the Braves?

I really like what I see. They are a ‘get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in’ type team – and I desperately hope Bobby will play them that way!

Look at yesterday’s game against the Yankees as one example:
Hitters got on base, Kotchman hits a 2-run double. Braves lead.
Later, Prado hits a double, Escobar hits a sac fly, Prado scores. Braves win.

The pitching is definitely there, IMHO. (Dear Lord, please don’t let them fall apart again this year!)

Kawakami needs a little more acclimation time, I think, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t wind up impressing us all.

hanson1And speaking of impressing: Hanson. Oh, wow! I want to see him in the regular rotation, but I don’t want it to be too early. Is he really ready? Judging by the comments I read from players, I’d have to say ‘yes’.

Then I read this from Cox about another young pitcher, Kris Medlen:
medlenk“”Medlen is impressive,” Cox said. “Everything that you hear about that kid, you like. He doesn’t walk anybody and he’s got three plus pitches, for me. He’s got a plus fastball, plus changeup and a plus breaking ball, with control. A lot of guys have plus-this and plus-that, but they don’t have control like he’s got.”

Continuing from Mark Bowman:
“Labeled by some as a poor man’s Greg Maddux, Medlen, who might actually look younger than Brent Lillibridge, possesses a fastball that rests between 91-93 mph and a changeup that has caught the attention of the Braves and many scouts from around the league.

Medlen’s stock began to soar after he was placed in Double-A Mississippi’s starting rotation midway through the 2008 season. In the 92 1/3 innings he worked as a starter, Medlen recorded 90 strikeouts and issued 21 walks.

Given a chance to make another solid impression during the Arizona Fall League, Medlen worked 25 innings, registered 25 strikeouts, issued just one walk and held opponents to a .203 batting average.”

gonzo1Moylan & Co in the bullpen look good. Gonzo seems ready and eager to go.

I can’t help but feel good about the pitching staff and the youngsters in the pipeline.

I like the infield. Not spectacular, but more than adequate. Steady. And that can take you places instead of always having to wait for a flash in the sun. Combine steadiness with occasional flashes and we might be pleased with the result.

The outfield. Garret Anderson. BIG, BIG plus! I’m very pleased with him as a person and a player. In centerfield, I think the team has a lot of potential with either of several players. In right? Well, I’m hopeful, I’ll leave it at that. (I read that Wrenn said something to the effect that they see improvement, are pleased with his efforts and feel that JF only needs some more time to finish putting it together’.)

andersongI also think that Garret’s very presence in the outfield will have a positive effect on the other 2 outer positions. For once, ‘veteran presence’ actually means something! There are people who can inspire others to perform at a higher level and I get the impression that GA is one of them.

Mac catching, David Ross backup. We’re secure there. (And a few days ago, I didn’t even know who Ross was! 🙄 Give me time; I’ll get there! 😆 )

Niggling things I don’t like:

~Kawakami doesn’t speak English; I read that during games, his interpreter will not be allowed to accompany Bobby/whoever to the mound. Why??

~The comment was made that Mac needs to be in ST instead of at the WBC so ‘he could learn Japanese.’ Ummm, why doesn’t Kawakami bother learn English if he’s going to play here??

~Chino is still bench coach. Eddie Perez should be in that spot and Chino should be in the bullpen.

OK – what do you think?

~CL~

 

BravesAndStuff@hotmail.com

72: Spring is about to be sprung!

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by Berigan

Well, after being revived from a near death experience, (and some nasty frostbite) Spring is about to return…unless we are about to enter a new ice age. (20 for a low Tuesday night here in the ATL!!!) I’d rather enter another gilded age, but, I don’t have a say in the matter.

Speaking of things I have no say about, your Atlanta Braves! Our Bravos are about to get paid for what many have been doing for weeks if not months already, swinging bats, and throwing the ol’ Horsehide. Or is it cowhide??? Synthetic leather like material, PETA approved???

springtraining
Whatever, the guys are getting ready for the long grind ahead of them. And that’s just spring training, never mind the actual baseball season…..and fingers crossed, post season.

One thing just about every team, save the Padres have in abundance is hope for a good season, and with a few breaks, a real playoff race to be involved in.

Remember last spring??? Me neither, but Salty reminded me in a post a few days back that we had something like 10 potential starters last year at the start of spring.
We all could imagine a rotation of Hudson, Smoltz, Glavine, Hampton, and perhaps that kid Jurrjens (If he outdueled Chucky and Jo-Jo for 5th slot) giving the Mutts and Phillies phits, err, fits. Hmm, lets, see now, which of that group was still starting in September for us???

Do I really need to recap that we lose Smoltz and Hampton, but gained Javy Vasquez, Derek Lowe, and that Japanese guy, who’s name better start rolling off my tongue PDQ??? I guess I do, if I don’t want this lead to be only 3 paragraphs long! 😉

Thats 3 guys, that if their health luck/karma doesn’t do a 180 being acox Brave, should each make 30+ starts, and go 200 + innings, which will really rest the old bullpen in May and June, and make Bobby look like he has gained 30 IQ points, and is no longer in Forrest Gump territory! 😀

A real bopper in Left will make him seem smarter than Einstein! That, and not starting McCann 12 games straight.

Anyhoo, I know we will all be writing about our hopes and dreams for the team in the coming weeks, we will get familiar with, and excited about some of the kids we only know based on their names, and what writers have written about them.

Baseball tonight occasionally does a segment where guys on the panel have to make bold predictions. Who might be a surprise MVP, what team will win the most games the 2nd half of season, etc.

heyward1My bold/crazy predictions are that if we don’t get a real left fielder in spring training, Justin Heyward will have a huge spring, sparking talk of him being the left fielder. Also, Tommy Hanson will be so impressive, and Glavine will hurt his hammy in the second to last start of spring and will go north with the club.

What are everyone else’s Batpoop crazy predictions for the Braves in 2009???

~Berigan~

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63: Throwing Caution To The Wind – part IV

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by Gil in Mechanicsville

To conclude my synopsis on the possible Braves bullpen for 2009, I will comment on the best of the rest and perhaps some other possibilities from the Braves system. Again, it is necessary to take all of what I say with a grain of salt because things can change in a hurry. A big trade, a breakthrough spring, an off-season injury can all have a profound affect on how things can shake out.

Let’s start with Manny Acosta. The tall lanky Panamanian can be a showacosta stopper at times and then “bad” Manny will make an appearance and give up five runs before he knows what hit him, or make that who. Acosta, I think, is well suited as a set up man. He still has not developed the killer instinct of a closer but he is just too good to bring in to face one batter. When he is on, he has a 95 mph fastball and devastating slider that brakes sharply away from right-handers. However, like many other young pitchers, he tries to get too cute and aims for the corners. Depending on the umpire’s definition of the strike zone, he is going to either catch guys looking or start walking people. For some reason, he will allow a few bad calls get in his head and the next thing you know, “bad” Manny shows up. Acosta had some injury issues last season which really hampered his development. Hopefully he will be ready coming out of spring training to finally become a fixture for the Braves. He has the potential to be a really valuable and dependable piece of the pitching staff as long as he can realize he really does belong on the major league roster.

bennettjeffJeff Bennett also had a bit of a Jeckle-and-Hyde personality in 2008. He was a shadow of his former self with his new and improved physic last season, he had flashes of brilliance along with just plain awful. Who is the real Jeff Bennett, inquiring minds want to know. I think Jeff was also facing some fatigue issues in 2008. I just could not fathom why Bobby Cox would call on the same guys repeatedly last year. It was like he would forget a guy had pitched 3 innings two nights in a row and then have him come in yet again. Now the last thing a fringe guy like Bennett would do is say he could not go again. No, he is going to suck it up and take the ball and pray the batter will get himself out. It’s my humble opinion the biggest thing missing in the Braves dugout is a guy like Pat Corrales to tell Bobby who is ready and who is not. I’m not sure Chino or Roger really feels comfortable enough in their roles to speak up tell the skipper he is hurting the team’s chance to win. Anyway, Bennett is a ground ball specialist as he has a nasty sinker and is a go to guy when a double play is called for. In addition, he is pretty versatile as he can also be used as a spot starter or long relief guy. He has the tools to be a reliable arm out of the pen; the question is how often should you use him.

Buddy Carlyle, honest folks, you got to love this guy. All those yearsbuddy_carlyle knocking around the minors, getting frequent flyer miles on Greyhound. He persevered and made it back to the bigs in 2007. I told folks when he came up from Richmond, way back when, that they should not expect too much out of the guy. He will never be confused with Tommy Hanson or John Smoltz but he is what he is and he can give you four or five innings of yeoman like baseball and by the time the sixth inning rolls around, you look up at the scoreboard and realize your team is still in the game. If you can just generate a little offense he stands a good chance of getting a win. The thing that puzzled me last year was he would languish for weeks out in the bullpen before Bobby realized he was still on the staff and call him in to pitch. Amazingly, he would get out of a big jam and put up a couple more goose eggs on the scoreboard and just wow the crowd with his resilience. Next thing you know, he is the pet pig and his arm falls off from over use. Now, it may not be fair to accuse Bobby of misusing his pen last year, after all, when your starting five are going three and out, night after night in April and May, it is inevitable that your bullpen is going to implode in August and September. There is a reason bullpen guys are not starters. During the course of their careers some sharp-eyed coach has figured out that some guys just have a marked drop-off in their effectiveness after a certain number of pitches. Some guys can go the distance and some guys are sprinters. It is up to the coaches to put guys in the situations from which they can glean the most success.

ridgeway Jeff Ridgeway, had an up and down year. Used primarily as a short relief, situational guy against lefties, he had some early success but really struggled towards the end of the year. He will be in camp but look for him to be on the bubble in spring training. I would suggest he get an apartment in Gwinnett for 2009 so he can shuttle between AAA and Atlanta without having to leave home.

johnstockman

Phil Stockman, big righty who has battled injuries for the past couple of years. His biggest obstacle will be overcoming the fear of getting hurt yet again. He possesses a good fastball and curve but until he can get himself back in shape, he will be a fixture in Gwinnett.

moylanPhil’s fellow Aussie, Peter Moylan, should be back next year about May. He will start some work in spring training but it will still be too early for him to do any serious work. I look for him to begin the year in Gwinnett if not on the DL until he proves he can once again get major league hitters out. The most telling thing about TJ surgery is not about the inability to throw a fastball but about hurling breaking pitches. It’s when they stop breaking that they end up in the bleachers.

Francisley Bueno and Jorge Julio are likely to be on the team next year unlessfrancisleybueno the Braves sign someone in the off-season. I don’t know who the Braves have in their system that could be called upon next year but the crop of pitchers at Richmond did not look ready for primetime. If the Braves do not trade JoJo, I would expect him to start the year in AAA. The Braves are not going to make him into a reliever. The same goes for Chuck James. Of course lots of things can happen between now and February so keep a sharp eye out for changes.

~Gil~


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48: An Observation from an Interested Spectator

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By Gil

MECHANICSVILLE, VA – As we approach the magic one third mark of the season, most major league teams take stock of their situation to see where they stand as far as personnel and what is needed going forward. Often times this is the time when teams decide if they are buyers or sellers and if they have a chance to be serious contenders or view the likelihood of being an also ran and begin building for the next season.

The 2008 version of the Atlanta Braves had reason to believe they were a team with which to vie for the National League East and even a possible shot at returning to the World Series. Good pitching depth and a strong offensive line up was in evidence. The Braves only apparent weakness was a lack of bench strength. Funny how the wheels began to fall off even before the start of the season.

John Smoltz began the season on the DL with what we now know as likely a career ending injury. Perhaps we should think back to the night he pitched magnificently against the Astros in the Braves last appearance in the NL playoffs and a shirtless Smoltz revealed a tremendous amount of bleeding around his right shoulder. For him to pitch the past two years has been a testament to his grit but the ravages of time have apparently taken their toll and it seems to many that John has made his last pitch as a major leaguer.

Mike Hampton was never really counted on this year like he was in 2007 but all seemed ready for the stoic lefty to finally justify the $13 million due to him this year. Alas, it was not to be, another freak injury claimed him and who knows if he will ever pitch again effectively although the return of even a mildly capable Mike Hampton could yet salvage the season for the Braves.

Chuck James went down early. Never a pitcher with a large repertoire of baffling pitches to keep opposing batters off balance, his inability to keep pitches down combined with a diminished speed deferential between his fastball and his change up, he began giving up homeruns at an alarming rate. This led to his demotion back to AAA Richmond and a mind set that he has to reinvent himself as a pitcher.

The cause of Tom Glavin’s woes have finally surfaced: a sore elbow. Who else besides me sees this as a deal breaker for a 41 year old pitcher who has been know as an innings eater throughout his career? It also explains the loss of movement on his pitches and to me may be the harbinger of a season to forget for the Bravos.

The loss of Peter Moylan and the limited availability of Soriano have also put a tremendous strain on the Braves’ bullpen. There is a correlation between the effectiveness of a team’s bullpen and the number of innings they are forced to pitch. Manny Acosta is just not capable of pitching everyday and I don’t think any other pitcher on the Braves staff is either.

So, what do you have when 4/5th of your projected starting staff and three of your most effective relievers are out with injuries? A club that more closely resembles the Washington Nationals than one that resembles the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves cannot afford to slip much further behind the front runners if they expect to have a chance this year but counting on young pitchers like Charlie Morton to come to the rescue may be placing too much of a burden on a young rookie who is only now finding success. Steve Avery comes to mind when making a comparison of expectations by the Braves Nation and the likelihood he will struggle in his début season.


~Gil~

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