October 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Economic Analysis, Front Office, Links, Minor Leagues, Prospects, Tim Hudson
Updated: 10/16/2009 6:52 PM EST - See first and last bullet points.
Some links and analysis for your viewing pleasure.
- The Braves have parted ways with Reid Gorecki Vladimir Nunez (Baseball America got it wrong and has since corrected it), Jorge Campillo, and Buddy Carlyle (Hat Tip: Chop-n-Change). They were outrighted to AAA to make room on the 40-man roster for various off-season acquisitions and elected free agency over an outright AAA assignment. Vladimir Nunez is rather old and probably doesn’t have any future in the organization. I’m not so sure Campillo and Carlyle wouldn’t have been useful in 2010, though. Campillo, as most of you know, had season-ending shoulder surgery early in the season. He’s a soft-tossing junk pitcher, but he throws strikes and doesn’t walk many hitters (2.2 BB/9 in 2008). However, the Braves seem to have another similar guy at AAA in Todd Redmond, so maybe the free roster space is worth more than having Campillo on it. Carlyle is perhaps the most intriguing one. In 2008, he added a cutter to his repertoire and the results were very good. He was diagnosed with Diabetes in 2009 and spent most of the year rehabbing. Braves scouts know more than I do, but I figured he might be a useful piece in 2010. Oh well, I’ll be pulling for him wherever he goes. Vladimir Nunez Reid Gorecki was also outrighted and accepted his assignment to AAA . While he remains with the organization, he no longer occupies a spot on the 40-man roster.
- As many of you know, now former Braves’ scouting director Roy Clark has accepted a position with the Washington Nationals to become their director of scouting and player development. The Braves wasted no time finding a replacement, naming Tony DeMacio their new scouting director shortly after Clark’s departure. As Jim Callis of Baseball America notes (subscription required), DeMacio doesn’t have an impressive track record from his days in Baltimore, but his drafts were sabotaged by a great deal of ownership interference. Clark was very good at his job and will certainly be missed, but unlike Craig Calcaterra of NBCSports, I don’t consider this to be a significant blow to the organization. My belief is that people generally overstate the impact of scouting directors. Don’t get me wrong, they are important. But I believe the that the organization’s philosophy, the scouts themselves, and the general manager are more important. People considered losing Paul Snyder to be a huge blow but the organization soldiered on, largely un-phased. I suspect people will consider losing DeMacio a huge blow after he comes and goes, but life goes on.
- Tim Hudson has gotten a lot of attention in the past few weeks. There was some initial speculation, but a report by Ken Rosenthal that suggested Tim Hudson would likely void the $12 million club option if the Braves were to exercise it and, instead, elect free agency prompted much of the mental energy spent on the issue. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs gives his take, Matthew Pouliot of NBCSports speculates Hudson could get $50 million over 4 years on the open market, and JC Bradbury of Sabernomics makes his case. The report prompted the two Braves beat writers, Mark Bowman of MLB.com and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to publish articles with quotes from Tim Hudson himself, refuting Rosenthal’s report and suggesting Hudson’s primary desire is to remain in Atlanta. My take: Hudson has never filed for free agency and this season probably represents his last opportunity to land a big contract on the open market. Still, he makes his permanent home in Auburn, Alabama and I believe he is sincere when he states his desire to stay in Atlanta. I believe he probably signs an extension with Atlanta. Perhaps after testing free agency, but I believe he will, in the end, find Atlanta to be the most attractive option.
- Baseball America has released their list of top-20 prospects for each of the 6 leagues in which the minor league affiliates of the Braves participate. I’ll link to them. Gulf Coast League, Appalachian League, South Atlantic League, Carolina League, Southern League, and International League. Several Braves are mentioned. Speaking of prospects, I’ve finished my list and write-ups of the Braves’ top-40 prospects. It was a rather large undertaking, consuming the majority of my baseball endeavors over the past month. Though I’m glad to have finished, it was very fun to do. The new list now appears on the Top Prospects page. You’ll find links to all the goods there.
- Mac Thomason of Braves Journal provides some excellent insight and analysis in his latest post: Where Do We Go From Here? 2009: I. Do the Braves need offense? I generally agree with everything Mac writes. Not only is this article no exception, but it’s particularly insightful. There will undoubtedly be more installments to this series and I’ll most likely continue to link to them.
- Brian McCann underwent a second Lasik Surgery. Fingers crossed is my only comment.
I’ve decided to do an AFL report every Friday in conjunction with my Friday Links segment. I’ll recap the past week’s action. I may add a Monday AFL report segment as the off-season grows and I begin running out of things to talk about.
The Peo Saguaros season kicked off on Tuesday night with Braves 2009 first rounder Mike Minor delivering the first pitch. Minor exited after two innings (he was on a pitch count, standard procedure) having allowed 1 hit, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run. Jason Heyward got the start in right for the season opener and went 2-4 with 2 doubles and a stolen base. Wednesday night, every Braves representitive except Minor got in the game. Heyward again got the start in right and went 1-4 with a double, Freddie Freeman got the start at 1B and went 0-3 with a walk, Brandon Hicks got the start at 3rd and went 0-3. Jeff Lyman was the starting pitcher and allowed 3 hits, a walk, and 1 run in 2 innings. Lee Hyde and Craig Kimbrel each pitched in a scoreless inning in relief, Hyde allowing a hit and a walk, and Kimbrel allowing 2 walks. Hyde recorded a strikeout in the game and Lyman recorded two. Thursday night Heyward got his third consecutive start in right and went 1-4 with a walk. Brandon Hicks got the start at SS this time and went 2-5.
May 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Draft, Monthly Awards (fake), Philadelphia Philthies, Series Preview, Tim Hudson, Transactions
Break out the brooms. Well, not really. We did take both of the games, but sweeping a 2-game series is hardly broom-worthy. Especially against the Marlins’ (who are currently in a 4 for 17 skid) 2 worst starters. In the first game, we scored 8 runs off Florida’s Andrew Miller replacement, Graham Taylor, then failed to get a hit off of their bullpen for the final 6 and 1/3 innings. During that period, we only got 4 runners on the basepaths. Garret Anderson, Omar Infante, and David Ross all drew walks while Chipper was intentionally passed. Complacency is greatness’s biggest enemy, and it is currently the Braves’ biggest enemy. The Braves haven’t put a game away with their bats all season. The inability to put pressure on the opposition after the 3rd inning is giving the opposition lots of hope, something they don’t need to have. Once again, our pitching staff bails us out. Derek Lowe kind of sucked in that first game. He gave up 6 runs, all earned, in 5 innings while allowing 7 hits (3 doubles, 1 HR) and 3 walks with 5 strikeouts. This performance wasn’t on the defense, you can’t allow 4 extra base hits and walk 3 batters and expect to have a good outing. Jorge Cantu was responsible for most of the damage against Lowe, smacking 2 of the doubles, the home run, driving in 5 of the runs, and scoring 2 of them, playing some role in all 6. Anyway, allowing 6 in 5 innings usually results in an automatic loss, but since we scored 8 early runs, Lowe put another one in the W column after Carlyle, Moylan, Soriano, and Gonzalez all pitched scoreless innings (in that order) to finish the game. Gonzalez was especially sharp, striking out 2 in his perfect 9th for a save.
The second game was much closer to what was advertised, 2 run-prevention minded teams playing in a pitchers’ park. Funny how there were 4 HR in this game, though. Kotchman pulled a pitch down the RF line that beamed into the seats on a rope, David Ross Hit a no-doubter to left-center, and Hanley Ramirez hit 2 solo shots off of Jurrjens. Jurrjens was very, very good despite giving up 2 home runs. He only gave up 1 additional hit and walked 2. He struck out 4 and allowed only 2 runs, both earned, in 7 innings. Garret Anderson drew the team’s only walk of the afternoon, but we had 12 hits, 3 for extra bases. 2 of those XBH belonged to Kotchman who finished the game 3/4 and a triple shy of the cycle. Kelly Johnson was 2/4 and stole a base, maybe he’s out of his funk, but I don’t support putting him back in the lead-off spot. I’ve never thought it mattered all that much, but even if Bobby refuses to put Schafer in that spot Kelly Johnson isn’t the next most logical choice. That’d be Yunel Escobar, Omar Infante, or maybe even Casey Kotchman. The bullpen picked up where Jurrjens left off, and Soriano pitched a scoreless 8th, though he got into some trouble and at one point we had Moylan warming up in case Soriano faltered anymore. He successfully got the ball to Gonzalez who finished the game by pitching another perfect 9th. The Braves had scored 4 runs by the 5th before they started their afternoon nap, which proved to be enough.
Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano have been used 3 days in a row while Peter Moylan has been used twice in the past 4 days and warmed up today. I’d say Peter Moylan is the only one of our late innings guys that will be available tomorrow night and if he’s used tomorrow night he probably won’t be available the following day. Bobby needs to slow the eff down with our late innings group. I know they’re great and he feels very comfortable using them in late and close situations, but you’re talking about our best 3 relievers and we can’t afford to lose one. Also keep in mind they’re ALL coming off surgery. I would have rested one of Soriano and Gonzalez and used Moylan, Carlyle, or Bennett in the 8th just to keep one of them fresh for the upcoming series. Then again, this team needed that win and you take it any way you can get it.
Right now seems like a prime time to call up Medlen to piggyback with a starter and give the bullpen a rest. His line so far at Class AAA Gwinnett: 30 and 2/3 innings pitched, 17 hits, 7 walks, 4 runs (all earned), 0.78 WHIP, 1.17 ERA. I’d say he’s handling International League hitters just fine.
But that isn’t likely to happen, so we’ll head to Citizens’ Bank Park for Repeat Tour #1 with a pretty tapped bullpen. This especially doesn’t bode well since we’re using 2 starters that are pretty incapable of going the distance, Jo Jo Reyes and Kenshin Kawakami. Vazquez will pitch the game between the two of those guys, which also doesn’t bode well, because he’s a fly-ball pitcher and that’s one heck of a home run park. They’ll be opposed by Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Brett Myers. Myers, the least crappy of the 3, is sporting a 5.35 ERA, Joe Blanton a 6.84, and Cole Hamels a 7.27. Those should be jet names, not ERA’s. We seem to have Myers and Blanton figured out as we jumped on them pretty well in the first series. Cole Hamels was a few outs away from shutting us out twice last year, but he’s been off to an awful start. He’s had injury troubles all season and can’t seem to put it together. Hopefully he doesn’t put it together for at least 1 more start.
The Phillies have hit 39 home runs entering tonight’s game. They’ve allowed even more though, more than 45 (fuzzy on the exact figure). Any time you play in Citizens’ Bank Park you want to do 3 things: 1) keep Rollins and Victorino off the base-paths at all costs, if they’re running wild you’re going to pay, 2) keep the ball down in the zone and away from hitters when possible, limit those home runs, and 3) pitch to Ryan Howard with the bases empty, because he’ll make you pay if you make a mistake in front of him. We have GOT to take advantage of the mistakes their pitchers make (and they will make them, especially when Hamels isn’t pitching) EVERY TIME, not just in the first 3 innings. Someone named Dusty (and I don’t know who Dusty is) posted this at Braves Journal, it deserves a re-post:
OPS+ by inning:
Complacency. Bad, bad thing.
The good news is McCann is eligible to return to the club tomorrow and he very well may. No official word yet, but he’s 1-3 with a double, a walk, threw out a baserunner, and tagged someone out at the plate today for Gwinnett so far. I’m praying he’ll be back. That’d be the boost we need. And we’re going to need some comfortable leads to win this series considering how cashed our bullpen is.
Lets go get them. Another road series win in Philthy would be a huge confidence boost. There’s no reason we can’t do it, either. Their starters are crap so we’ve got a decent chance to score a bunch of runs. May complacency not rear its’ ugly head.
Edit: P.S. I won’t be discussing Manny Ramirez on this site. Not until I know more, at least.
April 21, 2009 at 7:38 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Billy Beane, Draft, Scouting, Tim Hudson
Tim Hudson is an excellent pitcher. Despite never putting together an extended run of dominance like the one he was starting to assemble before his injury and the one that I know he is capable of assembling, his career numbers are very good. In a 10 year career he has a 3.48 ERA and a 126 ERA+. That’s not easy to do. The 126 ERA+ ranks 6th among pitchers born in 1974 or later that have thrown 900+ innings in MLB. Hudson has won 146 games and lost only 77. I don’t put very much stock in winning percentage, but wow, he has won almost twice as many as he lost. He’s always relied on getting ground balls with a career GB/FB ratio of 1.41 (compared to MLB’s average of 0.78), but he’s still managed to strike out 6.1 batters per 9 innings and walk only 2.8 batters per 9 innings (2.22 career K/BB ratio). Overall, it goes without saying that he’s a player any team would like to have. Whether or not you’re willing to give him “ace” status, that’s up to you. But I’m pretty sure MLB hitters don’t go into a game against Tim Hudson and say, “He’ll be a pushover, he’s no ace”. They probably say something like: “Oh Sh*t! We’ve got to face Tim Hudson”.
Tim Hudson, after having a dominant high school career, was completely ignored by scouts because of his size. To this day Hudson isn’t a big guy, but if you see pictures of him even while he was at Auburn, 4 years later than his senior year in high school, he was tiny. He looks sort of like an under-fed farmer’s kid. Anyway, you get the idea, he was really small. Scouts, for bad and completely off-base reasons, “rationalized” that his numbers didn’t count. They made excuses to dismiss him. Professional scouts weren’t alone, college scouts pretty much completely ignored him as well. They ignored him to the point that he did not receive a single college scholarship and opted to attend the Chattahoochee Valley Community College in his hometown and play baseball there. Now, maybe he couldn’t get into college because of his high school grades and SAT scores, but I have a good feeling that if the school he finally ended up attending, Auburn University, wanted him, he would’ve been able to go.
Hudson again shocked scouts with a great freshmen season at he Chattahoochee Valley Community College. He led the team in several offensive AND pitching categories. After one year at college, someone in the Oakland organization noticed him enough to convince the draft gurus to take him in the 35th round of the 1994 draft. It initially proved to be bad advice as Hudson passed on the offer and opted to return to CVCC for his Sophomore season. Like clockwork all over again (I think Yogi should have said clockwork instead of Déjà vu), he had an excellent season, again posting team-highs in several offensive and pitching categories. I don’t know if the Chattahoochee Valley Community College feeds directly into Auburn, but regardless, after the 1995 season, Tim Hudson finally found himself on a division I team at Auburn. Somehow, and this amazes the HELL out of me, the coaches at Auburn weren’t convinced he was ready to be a starting pitcher his first season there (1996). He made only 4 starts and 21 relief appearances during 1996 for the Tigers despite showing impressive stuff and posting excellent numbers. In 1997, the Auburn staff decided it was time to get him in a starting role. That year he started in 18 games and made only 4 relief appearances. Oh yeah, when he wasn’t starting with the ball in his hand, he was running around the outfield as the team’s every-day center fielder. He led the team in strikeouts (pitching) and home runs (batting). He went 15-2 with a 2.97 ERA and earned the SEC Player Of The Year. That year, as the assistant GM of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane took him in the 6th round of the MLB first-year player draft.
How did Tim Hudson make it to the 6th round? It’s a question for the ages, but I can attempt to answer it. The only players in baseball right now that were taken in the first 6 rounds of the 1997 MLB rule 4 draft arguably better than Tim Hudson are Chase Utley and Lance Berkman, no pitchers. Other pitchers taken above Hudson, in addition to the many, many pitchers that didn’t ever make it to the majors, include Jon Garland, Randy Wolf, Jeremy Affeldt, and Horatio Ramirez. However, Hudson made it to the 185th pick. I’d say at round 6 he’s one heck of a pick. If you went to any club and said that with 100% certainty this player will turn out exactly like Tim Hudson, there isn’t a club that wouldn’t take him with the first overall pick. My theory is he would have dropped a lot farther if Billy Beane hadn’t stepped in and said, “I am not letting the SEC player of the year drop any farther no matter what you say about how short he is”. Again, scouts weren’t willing to take a chance on him because of his frame, completely disregarding the numbers and pretending they know everything there is to know about the game. Scouts ignoring numbers happens all the time, that’s the way scouts are bred, more-so then than now, but nonetheless. In this case, Tim Hudson has Billy Bean to thank for his career because he challenged conventional wisdom, and Billy Beane has Tim Hudson to thank for the excellent years of production and 3 prospects he received from the Braves in the 2004 trade because Hudson refused to give up on his baseball career just because of what scouts thought of his smaller physique (though the 3 prospects didn’t quite pan out).
Taking Hudson in the 6th round exploited a market inefficiency. Beane’s made a fortune and built very successful franchise in Oakland based entirely on exploiting market inefficiencies. Hudson’s selection in 1997 at such a late time makes him the ultimate Billy Beane draft pick. Now, maybe Beane had nothing to do with the selection of Hudson. Maybe he Hudson was selected for some nepotistic reason. Maybe that old scout that saw him in 1994 insisted. Maybe Beane was involved with the selection of Hudson but it was completely unscientific. Any of these things could be true. But I doubt them all.
Though we won’t have the pleasure of watching Tim Hudson for most of the season, it is still nice to write about him. He’s still with the Braves for leadership reasons and he’ll likely be back in August and in 2010 as part of one of the most dominant staffs in baseball.
This post was origionally posted elsewhere.