January 18, 2013 at 8:37 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
This is not Braves related, but it is fun and for a good cause and I imagine a large amount of the CAC community are also football fans.
I am running the NYC half marathon for Research Down Syndrome, and in an effort to raise the money I have decided to operate a superbowl box pool. It will cost $20 per box, with half of the money being put toward the charity and half being put into the pool for winnings. The winner, if all of the boxes get filled, will win $500 with the half-time winner getting $250, and the first and third quarter winners getting $125. For most of the participants, PayPal will be the best way to pay, but I am open to meeting in person if that works best.
If you PayPal me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will add you in for a box, or if you e-mail me we can coordinate another payment. Just make sure I have your name when I receive the payment rather than just $20 from an e-mail from email@example.com or something like that. You can buy as many boxes as you would like. Invite whomever you wish.
January 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
I have been one of the major supporters of Mike Minor for about as long as he has been a professional baseball player. On draft day, I was somewhat confused about the team going after what was supposedly a low-ceiling, high floor starter, but seeing his development over the first year of his professional career gave me confidence that the Braves knew what they were doing when they drafted him in the first round.
In the majors, Minor has had a ton of ups as well as a ton of downs. His first stint in the majors was impressive but his arm tired toward the tail end of the season which caused his ERA to balloon to an astronomical level before being shut down for the season. His next year as the team’s sixth starter, he posted numbers that us sabermetricians find appealing. He struck out nearly a batter per inning, kept his walks at a relatively low level, and did not allow the ball to leave the ballpark. Unfortunately, in his 15 starts he was also rather hittable, leaving his ERA at 4.14 while his FIP was at a very respectable 3.39.
In his first full year in the rotation, which it is important to note that last year was the first time that he knew he would be starting against major league hitters every time he took the hill, he continued on his rocky road. Starting 30 games gives us a nice round number to look back and see where things turned, since he started the season off with one of the worst ERAs in the majors. Through his first 10 starts, Minor had a 6.98 ERA and was close to losing his spot in the rotation. Things changed after that, as I am sure most of you are aware. In his final 20 starts of the season, Minor posted a 2.74 ERA, with 94 strikeouts, 35 walks, and 13 home runs allowed in 121.1 innings pitched. While his strikeouts were down compared to the previous season, he was able to walk batters at a much lower rate and keep the ball in the ballpark as well. He allowed 26 home runs over the course of the full year, so 13 of them came in the first third of the year and the next 13 came in twice as many starts. That is progress, and progress that is terrific to see from a first year starter.
As my colleague Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs notes, Minor made an alteration to his fastball’s break and began to see a tremendous amount of success. With the new fastball, his walk rate jumped to elite levels and his home run rate, as previously mentioned, dropped like a ton of bricks. Entering the year, Minor will have a tremendous amount of confidence in how he ended the season and is my bet to throw the most innings on the roster. With his control becoming more and more impressive, he should be able to benefit from a great defense behind him and many quick innings. I am sure he will have his struggles, but as long as his mechanics stay strong and he focuses on pounding the zone, he should put together a season in the 3.0-4.5 win area. That is a wide range, but if he pitches like he did for 34 starts as he did in last season’s final 20, he would be a Cy Young candidate. Of course, I think those numbers are probably on the higher end of the spectrum, but he has shown what he is capable of and should be able to perform at a level not incredibly far off of those numbers.
January 10, 2013 at 10:03 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
Below is the official top prospect list from the group over at CAC. We decided to go a bit deeper and go back to the 40 that Peter used to do a few years ago rather than the 25 we have done recently. Ethan is currently doing writeups on all of the prospects which will be released in parts over the next few weeks, and we are also planning a podcast to discuss the prospects, our rankings, and what we think of the system overall. Enjoy.
1. Julio Teheran
2. Lucas Sims
3. J.R. Graham
4. Sean Gilmartin
5. Christian Bethancourt
6. Alex Wood
7. Mauricio Cabrera
8. Nick Ahmed
9. Jose Peraza
10. Zeke Spruill
11. Edward Salcedo
12. Todd Cunningham
13. Evan Gattis
14. Joey Terdoslavich
15. Tommy La Stella
16. Matt Lipka
17. Bryan De La Rosa
18. Brandon Drury
19. Aaron Northcraft
20. Kyle Kubitza
21. Luis Merejo
22. Luis Avilan
23. David Hale
24. Cody Martin
25. Navery Moore
26. Cory Gearrin
27. Juan Jaime
28. Josh Elander
29. William Beckwith
30. Fernelys Sanchez
31. Daniel Rodriguez
32. Justin Black
33. Carlos Franco
34. Connor Lien
35. Joe Leonard
36. Nathan Hyatt
37. Johan Carmango
38. Chris Jones
39. Blake Brown
40. Ernesto Mejia
December 25, 2012 at 10:09 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
This isn’t usually a Capitol Avenue Club type story, but I came across this and have not seen it reported yet.
At about 3:50am, Andruw Jones was arrested in Gwinnett for battery.
The details of the story have been released and can be found here at ESPN. It was a domestic dispute that apparently involved Andruw dragging his wife down the stairs while intoxicated. Crazy stuff.
December 25, 2012 at 9:00 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
Of all the comparisons we heard about Jason Heyward as an up-and-coming prospect, one I seldom heard was Darryl Strawberry. In an article for RotoGraphs, my colleague Chris Cwik compares the numbers of Heyward to Strawberry (and also Justin Upton). Given Strawberry’s 6″6 frame, left-handedness, and dynamic athleticism, the comparison has a lot of steam.
At the close of their age-22 seasons, Strawberry recorded a wOBA of .359 compared to Heyward’s mark of .350. Add in the fact that Heyward is a much better defender, and you get a player of similar value who got it going in the majors at a very young age. Strawberry too was a high walk, high strikeout batter who hit home runs and stole bases in the 20′s annually. While Heyward’s legs really just got going this year, he could certainly elevate his game to 30/30 levels as Strawberry did in his age-25 season.
Everyone knows the issues Strawberry ran into that derailed his career, but seeing how he developed and progressed gives confidence in Heyward continuing to move forward as a hitter. I am sure most are confident that he will be great, but his sophomore year may force some to project him with caution.
Strawberry ended his career with a 137 wRC+ after posting a rookie mark of 131 at age-21. If Heyward ended up with a similar career rate after starting his career off with a 134 mark as a 20-year-old rookie, he will likely be a Hall-of-Fame quality player. It is of course early to project or expect that, but we have seen a very similarly sized and talented player move forward in an impressive way in the past and I will be surprised if Heyward doesn’t develop in a similar manner.
November 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
With the acquisition of Jordan Walden, the Braves almost certainly have the best bullpen in baseball at this point in time — at least on paper. They have a plethora of power arms that can get both righties and lefties out, and to me it looks like moving the most expensive piece who is at the peak of his value would be a wise decision.
Let’s take a look at what a few relievers brought back to their respective teams in trades in the past 12 months.
Andrew Bailey gets traded from Oakland to Boston, with the A’s acquiring Josh Reddick and two prospects
Mark Melancon was traded from Houston to Boston, with the Astros acquiring Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.
Jordan Walden is traded from Los Angeles to Atlata, with the Angels acquiring Tommy Hanson.
Those are three rather big returns for relievers, especially when you consider Walden was on the DL for a month last year and was worth just half a win. Melancon was coming off a solid year as the closer in Houston, but that was only his first season in the majors. Bailey was coming off of back-to-back seasons with fewer than 50 innings pitched due to injuries. The year in which he pitched a full season he won the Rookie of the Year award, but he was a risky asset at the time he was traded.
While relievers are volatile, O’Flaherty has been rather steady in Atlanta. That does not mean that he is able to avoid the traditional volatility most relievers run into, but just means that he has been able to avoid it so far. Much like Jonny Venters last year, O’Flaherty could run into some struggles that really hurt his season — which will be his last in Atlanta as he enters free agency next year.
While O’Flaherty has been consistent, the last point I made — about him being a free agent next year — is important. The others were cost controlled, so they brought back a very solid return. To me, that just evens out the package though. O’Flaherty has been better and more consistent than all three of those relievers, and if he were to be put on the table a ton of teams would be begging for his services. With a price tag expected to be right around $4m, the Braves can clear some payroll, take a slight hit to the strength of the bullpen — which as noted is likely already the strongest in the league — and acquire prospects or other notable assets in return. This would free the Braves to spend a bit more in left field, which could be important as the outfield chips continue to fall. Signing a guy like Nick Swisher may only be possible if Eric O’Flaherty is traded, and it would be a shame if the Braves cannot make a deal they want to make because of a reliever in his final arbitration year taking up payroll unnecessarily.
Trading O’Flaherty is a wise call for a number of reasons, and the Braves have been quick to act so far this offseason. I do not necessarily expect the team to move him, but I imagine they are more than willing to find out what exactly his market looks like.
November 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
There was a time when Tommy Hanson was one of the most valuable commodities in baseball. The shoulder issue he ran into two seasons ago along with his diminished velocity and weight gain made him an expendable asset, and now he returned only a reliever coming off of a troubled season. Even though that is all the Braves got in return, it is good that they cleared the roughly $4 million they owed Hanson and got a high potential arm along with the additional payroll flexibility.
Walden is essentially a poor man’s Craig Kimbrel, which should play well in the late innings. He has an incredible fastball and I like his mid 80′s slider as well. Having his arm in the back end of the bullpen will almost undoubtedly make the Braves bullpen the best in the league.
I will always be a fan of Tommy’s, and I wish him the best in Los Angeles.