September 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Pitching, Player Analysis
Did the Braves just pull off their second 7-game win streak in 18 days last night? I think they did. The Braves didn’t have a single 6-game win streak before September, now they have two 7-game win streaks, going on 8 tonight. Pretty incredible. This it the kind of team I hoped the Braves had out of Spring Training. A bunch of on-base machines with a bunch of guys who hit doubles and a few HR’s.
The Matt Daiz
Would you like a list of things that Matt Diaz leads the Braves in as of two days ago? OK, here goes:
Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, OPS, OPS+, and HBP. He’s been tearing it up this season, hitting .322/.391/.485/.876. The question is: is it sustainable?
I don’t know. With a guy like Matt Diaz, who swings at everything and puts the ball in play all the time, you never know. He’s probably capable of hitting .300 every year. I don’t know about .322, though. He doesn’t seem to have much power and goes the other way a lot. Most of his power is batting average driven. Still, a guy hitting .300/.370/.465 will have a place in a line-up somewhere. Considering the Braves outfield has been such a mess for so long, you might as well hope Matt Diaz can repeat his performance.
Josh Johnson Tonight
In order to make it 8 in a row, the Braves will have to overcome a tough obstacle tonight. Josh Johnson, previously scheduled to start Sunday afternoon, was scratched and will, instead, face the Braves tonight. That’s good news for Garret Anderson, who has a 1.333 OPS against Josh Johnson (2-for-6 with a 2B and a HR). Omar Infante also owns a 1.333 OPS against Josh Johnson in 3 career PA’s. Kelly Johnson has a 1.055 OPS against his cousin* and Greg Norton, against all odds, has a 1.000 OPS against him.
*They’re not really cousins.
The Rockies were off yesterday. They’ll face Chris Narveson and the Brewers in the Mile High City tonight. Narveson is a lefty with a 2-0 record and 3.82 ERA in 37 and 2/3 innings this season. He’s got a 3.92 career minor-league ERA and doesn’t seem like much more than a AAAA starter or MLB swingman. But we’ve seen plenty of those pitchers turn in good outings and let’s hope Chris Narveson does so tonight. He’ll face Jason Marquis, who has a 6.49 ERA in his last 6 starts, dating back to August 29. I have a good feeling about this one. (Knock on wood).
Batting Practice Yesterday
I went on the field for that batting practice thing yesterday. Honestly, it was overrated. I enjoyed watching BP at Spring Training more than this. First of all, by the time they let us out there virtually everyone had already hit. I watched Kelly Johnson take 2 rounds. After that, it was all Omar Infante, Ryan Church, Greg Norton, and Reid Gorecki. Not that I didn’t enjoy watching Omar Infante and Ryan Church take some BP, but I really would’ve liked to seen someone like Yunel Escobar, Garret Anderson (I think it’d be fascinating to watch him take BP, even if I’m not a fan of his game), Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, or just someone I enjoy watching hit. Greg Norton sucks.
It was interesting to watch the coaches interact. At one point, I was about 15 feet away from Frank Wren and Chino Cadahia talking to Fredi Gonzalez. It looked like the team was having fun in the outfield, though I couldn’t really see that far with the angle I had. They were doing things like throwing their glove at fly-balls attempting to catch it. Yunel put on a show, of course. By the way, if you’ve never watched Yunel in the on-deck circle, it’s hilarious. Greg Norton sucks.
The Braves were on the field for all of 20 minutes. Then the Marlins took over. You would think that the planners would have worked this out by now–perhaps they do it on purpose–but 20 minutes of Braves and 40 minutes of Marlins isn’t exactly what I wanted to see. Greg Norton sucks.
Stat of the Day
Since Josh Johnson’s best pitch is his fastball (20.7 RAA), today’s stat revolves around how well Braves starters hit the fastball. I imagine the line-up tonight will be:
1. Nate McLouth* – CF
2. Martin Prado – 2B
3. Chipper Jones# – 3B
4. Brian McCann* – C
5. Garret Anderson* – LF
6. Yunel Escobar – SS
7. Adam LaRoche* – 1B
8. Matt Diaz – RF
9. Tim Hudson – RHP
So, we’ll look at how well the first 8 hit the fastball. Here’s what it looks like:
So, if you need to put money on a Braves hitter, put it on Garret Anderson, who has a 1.333 OPS against Johnson, kills the fastball, and has a platoon advantage. If he gets to a 3-1 count, bet your buddy he hits a home run. It works, trust me. He’ll be amazed that you were able to predict that. Anyway, you can see that Adam LaRoche, as he is in so many other things, is at the top of the list. He’s also a good bet to perform well. McLouth, too. And even though Prado doesn’t have the platoon advantage, if he’s on his game tonight, I bet he’ll have a hit or two.
Elias Rankings Update
- LaRoche is still a B.
- Garret Anderson is still a B
- Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez are still A’s.
- Tim Hudson is now a Type B. He’s still on the border, but he’s qualified for Type B status for the first time this year. And he’s got a good shot at finishing the year a Type B now. Which means the Braves could get a 1st supplemental round draft pick if they decline Hudson’s option, offer him arbitration, and Hudson declines and signs elsewhere. Largely irrelevant. But now the decision to let Hudson walk makes a bit more sense. Still not a ton, though.
Here’s what the 3 relief aces usage looks like over the past 3 days:
Soriano has pitched on three consecutive days, even though he only got 1 out on the 26th. Moylan has worked back-to-back games for a total of three innings. If I were Bobby, I’d rely on Kawakami, O’Flaherty, and Gonzalez (Logan, Medlen, and Acosta if needed) to finish the game. Of course, Bobby will probably bring Soriano in to protect a lead and Soriano will make it very interesting.
That’s all I got for now.
September 20, 2009 at 11:14 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Pitching, Player Analysis, Statistical Analysis, Transaction Analysis
Question: Which player acquired by a team this past off-season has been the most valuable? In other words, who has been the most valuable pick-up?
No, it’s not Mark Teixeira, he’s fourth with 4.9 WAR.
No, it’s not Matt Holliday, he’s third with 5.0 WAR (for both the A’s and the Cards).
No, it’s not CC Sabathia, he’s second with 5.9 WAR.
You can probably tell from the title of the post, but it’s Javier Vazquez, with 6.3 WAR. In fact, that 6.3 WAR makes him the 14th most valuable player in all of baseball, sandwiched between Derek Jeter and Ryan Zimmerman tied at 6.4 and Felix Hernandez at 6.2.
I think it’s safe to call this a career year for Vazquez, he’s still got a few more starts and you’re already looking at his best season, though he has had similar seasons. In fact, an argument could also be made for 2003 as his best season. In 2003, he pitched 230 and 2/3 innings with 241 strikeouts, 57 walks, a 3.24 ERA, and a 1.105 WHIP. His ERA+ that year was 139. This year, he’s pitched 204 and 1/3 innings with 222 strikeouts, 43 walks, a 2.91 ERA (143 ERA+), and a 1.042 WHIP. Two other times in his career has he had an ERA at least 25% better than the league’s (125+ ERA+), 2001 and 2007. 2001 was also an excellent season for his rate stats. In 223 and 2/3 innings, he posted 208 strikeouts, 44 walks (4.73 K/BB, second best of his career. Bested only by 2009’s 5.16(!) K/BB ratio), a 3.42 ERA (130 ERA+), and a 1.077 WHIP. He set his career high in wins (16) that season. In 2007, in the AL, he pitched 216 and 2/3 innings with 213 strikeouts, 50 walks (4.26 K/BB, 3rd highest of his career. The 4th would be the 2003 season, which I already discussed), a 3.74 ERA (127 ERA+), and a 1.140 WHIP. The most valuable season he’s had since 2002 has been 2009′s 6.3–making him by far the most valuable player on his team. The only other time he’s posted a WAR of 6.0 or better was 2003, posting 6.0. In 2007 it was 5.2 and they don’t keep WAR data for years prior to 2002, so I can’t tell what that number was.
What kept Vazquez from posting numbers like these in years past (especially with respect to the ERA) was a) bad luck, he’s had rather bad luck throughout his career, and b) bad home run rates. Vazquez ceased having the latter issue in 2006. I tend to believe that the Braves saw his decline in HR rate in 2006-2008 as, “this guy’s figured out how to keep the ball in the park”. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, Vazquez’s HR/outfield fly rate dropped to 9.7%, 11.1% and 9.8%, respectively, after being 18.5% in 2005 and 14.0% in 2004.
This year, Vazquez continues the trend he displayed in 2006-2008, posting 10.8% HR/outfield fly rate. What doesn’t continue is the bad luck. Every year since 2003 his FIP has been lower than his ERA with the exception of 2007, the season in which he posted a 3.92 FIP and a 3.74 ERA (0.18 FIP-ERA). His FIP-ERA was -0.46 in 2005, -0.90(!) in 2006, and -0.86 in 2008. This year’s -0.15 is a result of his 2.91 ERA and his 2.74 FIP (that 2.74 FIP is 3rd in baseball, behind Lincecum (2.25) and Greinke (2.41)). Throw away most of the luck and the Home Run problems and Vazquez is an elite pitcher. 14th-most-valuable-player-in-the-league good.
What concerns me going forward is the fact that Vazquez seems to be getting hit harder this year. His LD% is up to 21%, after allowing batters to hit line drives off of him 16% of the time in 2006 and 18% of the time in 2007 and 2008. His career mark is 20% due to some ridiculously high LD% seasons at the beginning of the decade (all 3 seasons 200-2002 his LD% was more than 24%(!)). Additionally, the percentage of fly balls that don’t make it out of the infield is down to 9%, after being 15% in 2007 and 18% in 2008.
Vazquez has actually been more hittable this year than in years past. He’s finally stranding an appropriate amount of batters (77%–highest since 2003) for his skill level. Though not a repeatable skill, he should be capable of repeating the result, as 77% is nothing out of the ordinary for a pitcher with a 4+ K/BB. So, really, this year’s numbers are more a product of Vazquez finally falling on some decent luck. He’s had bad luck in every sense throughout his career. In 2009, he’s overcome it.
Now that the luck’s removed, Vazquez is showing what he’s truly capable of. If the LD% and IF/FB% are an aberration, perhaps he’s capable of even better.
Regardless, Vazquez has been the most valuable pick-up of the off-season, no question really.
September 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Kelly Johnson Fan Club, Philadelphia Philthies, Pitching, Series Preview
7 games out, 23 games out, or whatever, it still feels good to sweep the Mets. It also feels good to watch Jeff Francoeur try to leap over the wall and catch Brian McCann’s home run to no avail. Yes, I did watch this one. After I turned off the GT Miami game in disgust. Anyway, I’m pretty sick of the Jeff Francoeur crap. The baseball media makes such a fucking huge deal about it when he comes to town. Get the fuck over it. He’s going to be coming to town 9 times next year because the Mets are stupid enough to tender him a contract.
Ryan Church vs. Jeff Francoeur
To those of you who think it was a bad trade:
Jeff Francoeur 2009 Mets WAR – -0.2
Ryan Church 2009 Braves WAR – 0.4
Ryan Church has been the better player–any way you slice it.
Continuing with both because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Again, starting in the East:
The Cubs are pretty much dead.
Phillies Come to Town
If the Braves have any shot at the division, they need to sweep the Phillies. Here’s how the pitching match-ups play out:
Tim Hudson vs. J. A. Happ
Hudson is completely unpredictable, but if he pitches like the Tim Hudson of 2007-2008, the Braves should be in pretty good shape. There’s also extra motivation to beat Happ in order to boost Hanson’s ROY hopes. I don’t know what to expect, I’m just going to close my eyes and hope for the best.
Javier Vazquez vs. Pedro Martinez
Though Pedro has pitched well for the Phillies, he’s thrown 119 and 130 pitches in his past two starts. Even though he gets 5 days rest before the game Saturday, you have to think the Braves have the advantage in this one. Vazquez is 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA vs. the Phillies in 4 starts this season.
Tommy Hanson vs. Cliff Lee
A crucial game for Hanson’s ROY campaign. Beating Cliff Lee is no small task. Lee threw a shutout in his last start, but had a 9.60 ERA in his previous three. Atlanta was in the middle of the first of those games, touching him up for 6 runs in 5 innings to start the streak. Hopefully we’ll see a deja-vu.
The good news is the Braves won’t face Cole Hamels who seems to have their number.
Kelly Johnson Fan Club
Prado and Infante have been swinging hot bats as of late, so I don’t suggest playing Kelly Johnson over one of them this series. To back my point up further, he’s struggled against Martinez (.455 OPS) and he’s 1-for-7 with a homer and no walks against Happ. Still, I think he should play Left Field this series, at least some. He’s a better bet defensively than Garret or Diaz and he’s been swinging the bat well lately, unlike Garret.
Stay Hot, Nate
Nate McLouth has been tearing it the fuck up since he came off the DL. He’s hit .413/.500/.652/1.152 with 3 HR, 2 2B, 8 BB, 6 K, and 9 RBI during that period. I’ll take a .500 OBP and a .239 ISO out of the leadoff spot any day of the week.
I did a Q&A for a buddy at the Phillies’ blog Macho Row. I’ll link to it when he gets it up.
That’s all I got.
September 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Defense, Pitching, Player Analysis, Transactions
Man, look at the life this team is showing. Count it, though, that’s two epic defensive fails resulting in blown K-Rod saves and losses for the Mets. One against the Yankees when a Kelly Johnson dropped pop-up deja-vu allowed Teixeira to score from 2nd. And of course, the one last night. I didn’t watch it, but I read Mac Thomason’s recap over at Braves Journal. He does a good job, as always, but this opening paragraph is particularly funny, so I’ll quote it here:
If I were a Mets blogger — well, I’d kill myself, but assuming that somehow I had friends and family and they managed to restrain me — I’d be pretty upset right about now, 22 games out or not. The Mets had sixteen hits but only scored five runs, leaving fourteen men on base, and their closer blew the save in the ninth before losing the game when a ball hit Daniel Murphy, caromed straight up in the air, and Murphy dropped it, allowing the winning run to score from second on a ball that went sixty feet. That’s the sort of thing you’d expect from the sort of organization that would trade for Jeff Francoeur.
Yep. Pretty much. We all know that Daniel Murphy is a terrible defensive player, so it’s not like we completely didn’t see anything like this happen, but the timing is awful. For the Mets at least. Not to mention K-Rod seems gassed and if I were Minaya I’d shut him down. Oh, and this picture is pretty funny. This is a Braves blog, though. I’ve got a lot to cover today, so I’m doing it rapid fire.
Yep. There goes. The Braves gained ground on San Francisco last night as they lost to Colorado. Colorado’s remaining schedule is tougher than San Francisco, so maybe that’s a good thing. Of course, if Colorado had lost, I’d have said it’s good for the leading team to lose.
Rumors of Bobby Cox’s Impact are Much Exaggerated
So Bobby Cox is thinking about retiring after 2009. My question is, who gives a fuck? If you think the answers to the Braves’ problems come in the form of a new manager, you’re delusional. Manager’s only have so much impact with their on-field decisions. Much less than most people think. Bobby Cox, despite his questionable bullpen usage and loyalties to players who suck, is no different. I guarantee you I can find you 5 worse managerial gaffes than Bobby’s this year. Or even 5 outside of Cincinnati. You can sit here and list all of Bobby’s sub-optimal decisions and I’ll tell you any team has those exact same problems. The real answer to the Braves’ problems was a Matt Holliday or a Manny Ramirez. Not a Fredi Gonzalez or a Ned Yost. Sure, blaming Bobby is easy, but he can’t make people hit home runs.
Vazquez Wants To Stay
Javier Vazquez told Carroll Rogers of the AJC that he wants to stay in Atlanta. The quote:
“Hopefully I’ll be here,” said Vazquez, recently named National League player of the week. “I really want to be here. Hopefully they want me here, too.”
The article also featured a hilarious story about Kenshin Kawakami. MLB Trade Rumors covered the article, and this is what Tim Dierkes had to say about the situation:
Vazquez has been a bona fide ace in his return to the NL, with a 3.01 ERA, 216 strikeouts, and 40 walks in 197.3 innings. He’s signed affordably for next year at $11.5MM. I’ve said it before: signing Hudson and having six starters under control on paper does not equal a surplus. Derek Lowe is 36 and his numbers took an alarming dip this year. And whether Hudson, Kawakami, and Tommy Hanson can each throw 200 innings next year is an open question. The Braves need a first baseman, an outfield bat, and a closer, but trading Vazquez for a hitter might just create a new hole.
I don’t really disagree. I think if the Braves can lock up Vazquez they have to do it. He’s been too good and if he’s willing to take a discount, you jump on that like white on rice. The problem may be the no-trade clause to Western division teams he seeks. I’m not sure the Braves need all three things Tim suggested, but I agree that keeping all 6 SP is optimal.
So far, we’ve seen rumors suggesting the Braves may extend both Vazquez and Hudson. I think doing so is the correct move on both fronts.
Derek Lowe’s Blister
You know, that blister may’ve been a blessing in disguise. Lowe wasn’t pitching well, couldn’t locate anything and his sinker was moving on a horizontal plane more than a vertical one. The key to Lowe’s season last year was his curveball/slider*. That pitch was 29 runs above average last year. This year? It’s 7.1 runs below average. I don’t know what’s going on, but that was the pitch when he dominated the Phillies on opening day. He needs to get that back.
*Fangraphs and most announcers call it a slider and it charts as a slider, but Derek Lowe says it’s a curveball. One time in Spring Training McCann caused a balk because he kept throwing down a slider sign and Derek Lowe said “I don’t throw a slider”. It looks and behaves like a slider, perhaps it’s thrown like a curveball. It has distinct curveball properties. It doesn’t move as much as a traditional curveball, though. It moves like a Brad Lidge slider, almost.
What if the Braves, instead of acquiring a 1B, move Chipper to 1st and sign Jack Wilson. Jack Wilson sucks offensively, but he’s one of the best defensive SS in the game, and will probably be a 2-win player this year just because of defense alone. Move Yunel to 3rd and have the most amazing defensive left side of the infield in baseball. Of course, this doesn’t fix the Braves’ biggest systematic weakness, and perhaps contributes to it. But, if you can sign Wilson for cheap (~$3-5 million or so), you’ve got value there. And then, maybe you can go out and get a Holliday or a Bay. And that fixes the biggest systematic weakness. Something like:
It could work. Not my favorite idea, but something to consider. It should be noted that the Mariners hold a $8.4 million dollar option for Wilson’s 2010 season with a $0.6 million dollar buyout. Smart money’s on the buyout.
The Braves need to get better defensively with the pitching staff they’ve got. They’re 23rd in baseball in defensive efficiency. Getting Garret Anderson out of there in favor of a better defensive LF (preferably Holliday), moving Chipper to 1B, moving Yunel to 3rd, and adding an extremely gifted defensive SS would certainly improve the defense. Crazy idea, I know. I don’t think it’s that good of an idea, but it’s not that bad either.
Man, getting that Lowe contract off the books would really help. Speaking of which, Around the Majors took a look at the Lowe contract on August 19th. It’s worth a read and mostly right. The thing is, when your highest paid starting pitcher is arguably your worst, it’s annoying.
That’s all I got.
New England 31 at NY Jets 30
New Orleans 27 at Philadelphia 41
St. Louis 10 at Washington 24
Cincinnati 13 at Green Bay 29
Minnesota 44 at Detroit 11
Houston 7 at Tennessee 23
Oakland 20 at Kansas City 21
Carolina 20 at Atlanta 24
Arizona 28 at Jacksonville 38
Tampa Bay 10 at Buffalo 38
Seattle 24 at San Francisco 17
Baltimore 12 at San Diego 17
Pittsburgh 11 at Chicago 10
Cleveland 10 at Denver 21
NY Giants 44 at Dallas 28
Indianopolis 24 at Miami 13
September 16, 2009 at 3:11 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Big Red, Daily Post, Defense, Pitching, Player Analysis
I suppose it would be constructive to post both the Wild Card and NL East standings because I don’t know what the hell the Braves are shooting for at this point. Starting in the East, much like the Sun.
And the Wild Card:
On second thought, maybe we’re back to the Wild Card. The Rockies have lost 4 in a row. Remember how I was saying the Rockies’ schedule is really easy in September? Well, the 1st half of their September schedule was significantly easier than the 2nd half. Here’s what they’ve got left: 1 @ SF, 3 @ ARI, 3 vs. SDG, 3 vs. STL, 3 vs. MIL, and 3 @ LAD. It’s not the easiest schedule in the world, as opposed to their 1st half schedule when they were playing the Mets, Reds, Diamondbacks, and Padres.
And the Braves are 4 back in the loss column. Is it time to jump back on the wild-card bandwagon? Well, things went south last time I did, so I’ll keep posting both.
Addendum to Yesterday’s Post
I did the bullpen thing yesterday, but Stu pointed out that I left out two candidates. Jorge Campillo, who had season ending shoulder surgery in late May/early June, is certainly a candidate to make the 2010 bullpen. I think the Braves will start him in AAA and eventually get him some innings in the long relief role. Buddy Carlyle is the second one I left off. Carlyle is out of options next year, so I imagine the Braves will cut him, but don’t rule out the possibility that he wins a job out of Spring Training. I hope he does. He’s been through a lot and I’m pulling for him–I will be wherever he goes.
I was going to dedicate a post to explaining why Braves fans shouldn’t be worried by Chipper’s drop in production because it’s mostly just due to bad luck, but JC Bradbury beat me to the punch. Basically, I think Chipper rebounds and has a very productive 2010. Offensively, at least. What concerns me more is Chipper’s decline in defensive value. Let’s take a look at some of the advanced stats from 2004-present, starting with +/-:
They both pretty much tell the same story. About average in 2004, 2005, and 2007; above-average in 2008, and very bad in 2006 and 2009. The 6-year average for +/- is -2.33 runs and the 6-year average for UZR/150 is -3.48. The three-year UZR/150 average is -2.73 and the 3-year average for +/- is -1.00. So, what is Chipper’s true defensive value? He’s had bad seasons before and rebounded both offensively (2004) and defensively (2006). The 3 and 6 year samples and trends sort of lead me to believe that this year is an anomaly and I shouldn’t be concerned. On the other hand, Chipper is 37 years old and having a miserable year with the glove, so I don’t know what to think. Watching him in the field, he’s clearly not focused or has lost something, but I’m not a scout so don’t take what I have to say about watching him as anything of value.
I don’t know. Does Chipper rebound in 2010 defensively? I’m fairly confident he will offensively, but I just don’t know what to expect from him with the glove in 2010. I have, in the past, suggested that Chipper move to 1B in 2010. After reviewing the defensive stats, I am going to retract that suggestion and just say, if he’s as bad in 2010 as he has been in 2009 at 3B, he should move to 1B. But if he’s more in line with his 3 and 6 year averages, he belongs at 3B.
Prado Another 0-fer
First of all, let me be clear. I like Prado. I think he’s an excellent utility player and a crucial piece of this team given his defensive value at 3B and right-handed stroke. If I were GM and somebody called me offering a quality reliever of similar contractual status for Prado, I would say no. He’s that important to the team. I even sponsor his baseball-reference page. However, he is not an every day player. He was the only Braves player with more than 1 PA last night to go 0-fer except Tommy Hanson (who had 3 sacrifices). Prado went 0-for-5. Now, if the Braves want to play Prado at 3rd when Chipper is out, that is fine with me. Seriously, I think he should have been playing last night. However, do you have to bat him second? We’re approaching the Ron Gardenhire* school of line-ups at this point. Since July 23, Prado has a .609 OPS. That isn’t 2-hole worthy. And this wouldn’t be a daily post if I didn’t sneak my “get KJ more playing time” agenda in there, so I’ll say it again. Kelly Johnson has a .912 OPS since July 23.
*I’d link to something more specific, but basically, Gardenhire always has to have a light-hitting middle infielder bat in the 2-hole. Aaron Gleeman alludes to this throughout his site.
Tommy Hanson Rookie of the Year
I’m campaigning at this point. I don’t push for something unless a) I think the player deserves it or b) I think the player is close to deserving it and he plays for the Braves. Anyway, here goes. Tommy Hanson now leads all NL Qualified rookies in ERA, K/9, K/BB, WHIP, W%, and is tied for the lead in W. Here’s my chart:
Pitch well down the stretch and I think Hanson has a real shot at winning the award. If you’ve watched the three candidates, it’s more than clear that Hanson is far more talented than the other two. At this point, he’s got a 6-8 start disadvantage, though. But, like I said, if he pitches well down the stretch, he’s capable of overcoming the disadvantage.
That’s all I got.
September 15, 2009 at 1:19 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Front Office, Pitching, Transactions
I guess Monday is the most common day to have off. And I guess it enables me to watch Monday Night Football. But the Braves had consecutive Mondays off. And guess what! The Marlins lost! I didn’t know the Marlins did the whole losing thing based on what I saw from them earlier this year. Anyway.
The Nationals are 7 losses away from a 100-loss season, the Mets have to go 7-11 to match the Braves’ 2008 record, and the Braves are 8 out in the loss column. That’s all you need to know.
2010 Bullpen Preview
I promised I’d preview the 2010 Braves bullpen. Here goes:
Candidates: Under Team Control
Kenshin Kawakami ($6,333,333), Peter Moylan (arbitration eligible, 1st time), Manny Acosta (pre-arb), Boone Logan (pre-arb), Eric O’Flaherty (pre-arb), Luis Valdez (pre-arb), Jo Jo Reyes (pre-arb), Craig Kimbrel (prospect), Todd Redmond (prospect), Jonny Venters (prospect), Mariano Gomez (prospect).
Candidates: Outside the Organization
It’s impossible to list all of the possibilities, but Rafael Soriano (type A), Mike Gonzalez (type A), and Vladimir Nunez (minor league deal) are impending Free Agents. The Braves have been linked to Billy Wagner–an impending Type A Free Agent–by John Heyman, as well. I’ve stated that Kerry Wood might be a nice buy-low proposition, suggesting the Braves ship a fringe prospect to Cleveland for Kerry Wood provided they eat some of his salary. For a list of impending Free Agents, click here.
How I’d do it:
I would pick up Hudson’s option, move Kawakami to the bullpen, and let Soriano and Gonzalez walk and collect the draft picks. Between Kawakami, Moylan, Medlen, and (eventually) Kimbrel, I don’t think you have any trouble closing games. Fill out the pen with Logan, O’Flaherty, and Acosta, holding onto the depth of Gomez, Valdez, etc.. My philosophy is that spending money, prospects, and draft picks on the bullpen is usually a mis-allocation of resources. Relievers simply don’t pitch enough innings to be worth a ton of money or talent. On the flip side, a good bullpen helps a team overachieve, so it’s a nice thing to have. Still, I think the Braves have enough quality arms–especially with the emergence of Kimbrel, provided his AFL, Spring Training, and 2 months at AAA go well–to have a good bullpen without allocating any resources towards it in the off-season.
Go with, for most of the season, a bullpen of:
CL – Kenshin Kawakami
CL – Peter Moylan
SU – Kris Medlen
SU – Craig Kimbrel
LH – Eric O’Flaherty
LH – Boone Logan
MR – Manny Acosta
Prediction as to what will actually happen:
The Braves let Soriano and Gonzalez walk and sign Billy Wagner. They use their 1st round pick to do so, but they got 2 back from Soriano and Gonzalez (plus two sandwich round picks), which softens the blow. Go with, basically, this bullpen:
CL – Billy Wagner
SU – Peter Moylan
SU – Craig Kimbrel
SU – Eric O’Flaherty
LH – Boone Logan
LR – Kris Medlen
MR – Manny Acosta
The Mets Come To Town
As I pointed out earlier, the Braves have nothing but NL East opponents left for the rest of the season. They open this 19 game stretch against the New York Mutts. Today it’ll be Hanson vs. Misch. Wednesday it’ll be Lowe vs. Parnell. And Thursday it’ll be Jurrjens vs. Figueroa (maybe the most complicated pitching match-up to spell in the history of this space). Sweep is necessary for two reasons. One, the Braves can’t afford to lose any ground. Two, it’s the fucking Mets, and you have to sweep them, because they’re the Mets.
Braves Discussing Extension With Hudson?
According to Buster Olney, the Braves may discuss extending Tim Hudson. He’s looked good in 3 starts and if there’s a way to keep him in Atlanta for longer at a lower salary, I’d probably be all for it. Mark Bowman reports that Tim Hudson likes the idea as well. I’d like to see Vazquez and Hudson sign extensions this off-season.
That’s all I got for now. Go Braves.
September 13, 2009 at 6:54 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Daily Post, Kelly Johnson Fan Club, Pitching
Thought of the day.
8 back in the loss column, 19 left to play. Not looking good. Throw away the wild card hopes, those are done. But suppose the Phillies lose tonight on Sunday Night Baseball* and the Braves sweep the home series with Philly next weekend. You’re looking at 4 back in the loss column with 16 to play, all other things equal. So, you’re then 4 back in the loss column with 16 to play. Still not looking good, but do-able. The Braves, as I mentioned, have 19 games left. They’re all against NL East opponents. 3 against Philly at home, 6 against New York (3 home, 3 away), 3 against Florida at home, and 7 against Washington (4 home, 3 away). If there was ever a time to rattle off a miraculous streak, it’d be now. Think about it, though. They’re playing 6 games against teams they’re chasing and 13 against teams who are completely out of contention (and bad). Maybe I won’t give up hope, just yet.
*I know it’s nearly unbearable to watch Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips broadcast a game, and I know it’s painful to cheer for the Mets, but please do tonight. The Braves need it.
Kelly Johnson Fan Club
Kelly went 2-for-5 with a double today starting at 2B (with Prado at 3rd and Chipper out). The Braves are now 9-1 in games Kelly Johnson has started since coming off the DL and he has compiled a .912 OPS during that period. I’m officially lobbing for more playing time for Kelly. Kelly hasn’t ever faced Tuesday’s starter, Pat Misch. He’s 0-for-1 against Wednesday’s starter, Bobby Parnell. And he’s 0-for-2 with a walk against Thursday’s starter, Nelson Figueroa.
Javier Vazquez’s Gem, Tim Hudson’s Homer
Javier Vazquez pitched a gem today, going 9 innings allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and no walks while striking out 8. He was cruising through 8, having allowed no runs on 3 hits, but allowed 4 singles to start the 9th before getting a double play and groundout to end the game and secure the Braves’ first CG Win of the year. He was nothing short of masterful through those 8. Man, if the Braves hadn’t squandered so many of his brilliant outings, he’d be squarely in the conversation for the Cy Young. Vazquez now has a ridiculous 216-to-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. He’s bested in K’s only by Tim Lincecum and in K/BB only by Dan Haren–who has struck out 19 fewer and walked 9 fewer.
Meanwhile, Tim Hudson hit a homer. What? First career homer for Huddy, who was a batting champion and team HR leader while he played CF on the days he wasn’t a starting pitcher (he also led the team in K’s, ERA, and W’s) at Auburn. That was cool to see. Hudson’s the man. Twitter nugget from Mark Bowman:
Hudson’s first career HR. Based on what we saw last year, I didn’t think Auburn products displayed offense on Saturdays.
Pretty funny. He was speaking of Football, of course, and speaking of Football:
The NFL has arrived.
The Falcons opened their season with a W over the Dolphins. I won’t cover too much NFL in this space, depending on interest. I’ll do weekly picks, though, starting next week.
Stat of the Day
Braves player xFIP:
Javier Vazquez – 2.87
Rafael Soriano – 2.93
Peter Moylan – 3.37
Tim Hudson – 3.45
Mike Gonzalez – 3.49
Kris Medlen – 3.64
Boone Logan – 3.81
Eric O’Flaherty – 4.09
Derek Lowe – 4.21
Jo-Jo Reyes – 4.30
Tommy Hanson – 4.35
Jair Jurrjens – 4.45
Jeff Bennett – 4.61
James Parr – 4.66
Kenshin Kawakami – 4.73
Manny Acosta – 4.76
Buddy Carlyle – 5.37
Jorge Campillo – 5.82
Luis Valdez – 7.55
Blaine Boyer – 10.22
No analysis. Just a list.
And that’s all I got for now. I’ll try to get that bullpen post up sometime.
Go Braves! PHUCK THA FILLIES!