December 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm by Franklin Rabon under Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, NL East News, Transaction Analysis
A lot of Braves fans have been burning up Twitter with the news of the Marlins apparent signing of Jose Reyes. The main theme is “how is Wren going to respond to this move?! How will we compete?!” My answer is “the same way we were going to in the first place, by making smart, long term sustainable moves.”
First, let’s briefly address the Marlins by making the obvious pun, something is really fishy here. I don’t think the Marlins, in their wildest dreams, believe that things are really going to turn around attendance wise in South Florida. Sure, their will be an initial bump, as curiosity about the new ballpark and weird conglomeration of new faces causes a few people to pack the stadium early on. It’s also hard to make out exactly what will come of the SEC investigation on Loria’s
ripping off south Florida Taxpayers creative public financing for the new stadium.
My belief is that Loria is looking to build some appearance of value based upon the fleecing of the taxpayers for a new stadium and a few big gate seasons and then sell the team before the bottom falls out. That’s just speculation obviously, but a lot is going on here that we’re not privy to, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is taking a look, which is never a good thing.
Even with Reyes, the Marlins have a lot of holes. Nobody is exactly sure of how healthy Josh Johnson is going to be, and even with him, their pitching is shaky at best. The Marlins could field a very dangerous lineup, with their young power talent plus Reyes and Hanley. But that won’t really matter if they get the same pitching they had as last year. Sure, they could contend, but these moves aren’t made at an angle of trying to contend, they’re made at being flashy, generating headlines and publicity.
Another telling sign was the lack of no trade clause. Not because that, in and of itself means much, but because historically the Marlins have handed out no trade clauses. If this had been the Braves, nobody would have thought twice about the lack of a no trade clause, because that is just how the Braves operate. But with the Marlins, it was a deliberate change of strategy. They’re clearly not willing to commit to this ‘spending plan’ for the long haul.
At best, the Marlins and Mets are just switching places right now. Now, if they go out and sign C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, then we’re perhaps talking a different scenario, but I still see that as unlikely. I think because of the trouble the Marlins give the Braves at times, we tend to forget that the Marlins were actually the last place team in the division. They finished 17 games behind the Braves.
Thus, I believe that the notion that the Braves have to “respond” to the Marlins moves is absurd. Will the Marlins be better this year? Absolutely, it’d hard to be a whole lot worse, they lost 90 games last year. However, I don’t really see a world in which they make a quantum leap forward to contention just because they made one splashy and stupid move (Jose Reyes’ contract) and one just plain stupid move (Heath Bell’s contract). The chances are much higher that the Marlins are looking to dump those contracts this season than they are actually contending.
The Atlanta Braves just need to worry about following the long term plan to building and maintaining the club that they’ve been so disciplined with over the past few years. This team needs a couple of nice moves to patch up a few holes, and they’re back in the playoffs, with a shot at winning the world series for several more years. About the only thing that could mess that up is if they tried to “respond to” the signing of Jose Reyes.
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September 23, 2009 at 4:54 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Front Office, NL East News, Transaction Analysis, Transactions
As you all probably know by now, Bobby Cox will return to manage the team in 2010. After that, he’ll fill in an advisory role from 2011-2015. Basically, 2010 is Bobby’s last year managing the Braves. Per David O’Brien:
Just got upstairs after the interview with Frank and Bobby. As you’ve heard, Cox is coming back for one season to manage, then has a five-year contract to be an advisor. They said that with all the misinformation and speculation out there the past couple of days, they went ahead and announced now what they were going to announce after the road trip.
Both again denied that anything close to what reportedly happened in spring training actually happened. Bobby said sure, they’ve had disagreements like any GM and manager, but he laughed at the suggestion that he almost quit because of any of those disagreements.
I think this is a good thing for the organization. Both so it gives the organization another year to find a replacement and ensures Bobby will be around for 6 more years. Having Bobby around is not a bad thing.
There are, generally, only three types of different opinions on Bobby Cox. He’s a polarizing character. He’s been around a long time, and everyone who has been around a long time causes polarization. So, and correct me if I missed one but, there are only three types of opinions on Bobby Cox that I can think of.
1) The “I love him” opinion. This one usually belongs to an older fan or a fan that is more rooted in the traditions of the game. People who don’t really give a shit about statistical analysis at all. And not even pseudo-analysis (RBI, HR, AVG. They simply couldn’t care less about the numbers). Let me stop and say I don’t think this is a bad thing. I learn things from them every day. And if you think they’re bad for the game you probably fit in category two. But anyway, they don’t care that a bunt costs you runs in the long run. They’re intent is to win each game, not to maximize their efficiency. Not that they’re correct in their execution of this strategy, as maximizing efficiency generally leads to more wins, but that’s what they’re about. And I give them an “A” for effort. And even though they could be wrong, you still learn things from “”A” for effort” people in every facet of life. Baseball included.
2) The second type of opinion is the “I hate him” opinion. This one generally belongs to the younger fan. The 15-to-29-year-old fan that thinks they know a lot more about the game than they actually do. They criticize Bobby Cox for playing Francoeur then they criticize Bobby Cox for sitting Francoeur. They criticize Bobby for using Moylan then they criticize him for not using Moylan. They criticize Bobby for using Prado then they criticize him when he sits Prado. These are just a few examples of the copious amounts of complaining these people do. Not that I completely discourage the complaining. I don’t think the entire spectrum of one’s baseball discussion should revolve around Manager’s failings, though. The larger problem is that they fail to see the bigger picture. The fact that a manager makes a sub-optimal decision he has much less impact than you actually think. And people constantly rattle off things like, “Bobby cost us the win tonight”. Like I always say, if there was a manager that was worth 5 wins, teams would pay him $20 million. No such character exists.
3) The “I really don’t care” opinion. This one is shared by those most in-touch with the game today (not necessarily the past), the most statistically savvy that actually know what they’re talking about. The reason they don’t care is because they realize what goes on behind the scenes is much more important than his on-field decisions. The on-field decisions, while they have some negative impact, are far outweighed by his ability to manage the clubhouse and get the most out of his players. So, as long as he’s doing that, he’s doing his job. And Bobby Cox has certainly done his job. Realizing that managers don’t have very much impact, they’re rather indifferent on the issue. Should he actually be costing the teams wins, perhaps they may be more inclined to take an opinion on the issue.
The consensus among good baseball fans is that this is–at worst–a no impact move and at best a good move.
July 11, 2009 at 5:26 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, NL East News, Transactions
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May 19, 2009 at 8:36 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, NL East News, Pitching, Player Analysis, Slow Starts
Just a few tidbits of news.
The Braves have called up Kris Medlen and will place them on their active roster on Thursday to take Jo Jo Reyes’s spot in the rotation. Reyes will transition to the bullpen for now, and the Braves will make a decision regarding the pitching staff before Medlen is made active. Parr and Reyes are candidates to be optioned to AAA while Carlyle and Bennett are candidates to be DFA. I’m sure they would both clear waivers, but I have a feeling Parr will be headed to Gwinnett on Thursday morning. I think keeping Reyes with the big club in the bullpen where he can pitch in low-leverage situations is probably the best thing for his confidence. Glavine made a great point in an interview I heard the other day. He said when him and Smoltz were called up, the team was so bad that the only goal they had for them was to get better. Now, rookies are expected to jump in and immediately contribute towards a winning ballclub. Our patience would’ve worn thin with Glavine and Smoltz had they come up and played like they did when they first came up in 2008. Patience is key with young pitchers. And the organization knows that. Nobody is ready to give up on Reyes. Although it was clear that the rotation is not for him at this time, so replacing him was a good move.
Medlen’s call up will be short-lived. When Glavine is ready, he’ll be back on the roster and I assume Medlen will spend a few more weeks in Gwinnett to avoid Super 2 status down the road, a good decision for the club financially.
Speaking of Glavine, he threw in a simulated game today. Apparently all signs point toward him coming back. The next step will be a rehab start Saturday. He’s aiming for a return to the rotation by late May. I hope he comes back and throws well, but the odds of that are low.
It’s time to bench Francoeur. He’s not producing. He got benched the other day because he sucks, but until he starts being more selective and only swinging at pitches he can do something with, he’s just going to be a free out. No opposing pitcher fears facing Jeff Francoeur, and his lack of presence is dragging the club down. If I were Wren, I’d tell Francoeur he has 2 weeks to start producing, or his @$$ is gone.
That’s all I got. I’ll have more on Francoeur later. I won’t be doing a series thoughts/series preview this time. I’ll pick it up after the Rox series, group the NL West teams into 1 post in the thoughts portion, and do a preview for the Blue Jays series. Interleague play is almost here. Joy.
May 1, 2009 at 7:20 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Injuries, Minor Leagues, NL East News
I previously noted that I’m concerned about McCann’s vision problems. More troubling news surfaced today. To summarize the events that lead to this, since Opening Day, McCann has been battling blurry vision in his left eye which led to an 8 for 41 slump. After sitting for a couple of days and trying a variety of eye drops and contact lenses per the recommendation of various vision specialists, McCann was diagnosed with an “infected eye”. I don’t believe for 1 second that there was actually an infection in his eye, but certain language has to be used in order to place someone on the DL. It’s funny how blurry vision isn’t an acceptable reason to put someone on the DL, but an anxiety disorder is. Anyway, McCann was placed on the 15-day Disabled List. Hoping to work through the problem through finding the correct combination of contact lenses and eye drops, McCann tried a new set of lenses and began a rehab assignment with the Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The results were not encouraging.
McCann has endured a vicious cycle of contacts clearing his vision and feeling encouraged by the results only for them to cease working shortly thereafter. To quote:
“The contacts didn’t work,” McCann said. “They made my eyes too dry. I tried using drops and it would be fine for a while, but then it would be blurred again.”
So, in a last ditch effort to correct his blurry vision before resorting to a second round of Lasik surgery (he had a Lasik procedure done in 2007), McCann will try wearing glasses on the field. He’s ordered a pair of Oakley brand prescription glasses and will have another go-round with the rehab assignment thing to see if it works.
My thoughts, and I’ll preface this by telling you I have never worn contacts, glasses, etc.. I’ve rarely ever even put eye drops in my eye so I’m far from an expert on the subject and I could be 100% off base. I’m really just talking out of my rear, so don’t consider this expert analysis, or even good analysis (don’t automatically assume it’s bad, though (smiley face)):
I don’t hate the idea of trying glasses, but do you need a whole rehab assignment? It is probably a good decision to schedule a minor league rehab assignment, but he’ll probably be able to tell if it isn’t going to work within hours of trying the glasses, on or off the field. If they DO end up working off field, the next test would be a minor league rehab assignment to make sure they work on-field, but he’s probably going to have a pretty good idea right after he puts them on. I’m shaky on the decision to order Oakley glasses. Personally I’d like to see a pair of New Wayfarers as a tribute to Bob Dylan’s latest album. Oakleys? Pretty weak. Then again Oakley is the preferred sunglass of pretty much every baseball player, and they’re probably paying him a ton of money to wear them.
If this doesn’t go well, he’ll apparently have to have a second round of Lasik surgery, a risky procedure that would sideline him for at least 2 weeks and something he’d like to avoid at all costs. I understand the desire to avoid surgery. I would want to explore every other possible option before I assumed that risk if I were McCann. Likewise if I’m the Braves organization. His long term health is the most important thing in the organization right now. Whatever happens, the Braves can not afford to lose Brian McCann forever. In addition to having $24 million committed to him from 2009-2012, you’re talking about losing, for his prime, possibly the best position player that the Braves have developed since Rafael Furcal, and arguably since Chipper Jones. Any Brian McCann is better than no Brian McCann, so taking your time to figure out a solution that doesn’t involve a potentially career-ending surgery is a good organizational move.
The worst part is the wait. Waiting to see McCann in the line-up. If this is the solution we could see him in the line-up in a week. If not, we’re looking at 3 weeks. Fortunately, as I previously noted, we have a more than adequate back-up in David Ross, and if the Twins can survivie without Joe Mauer, the Braves can too. Mainly because there’s a bigger differential between Joe Mauer and the rest of the Twins hitters than there is between Brian McCann and the rest of the Braves hitters and the Braves have a better back-up catcher. Don’t get me wrong, production will suffer, but we still have a chance to win every night.
The bottom line is, while we need McCann to compete for the division title, we can afford to lose him for a few weeks right now. We can’t afford to lose him forever. And if we want to compete for the division this year, we need McCann at 100% when he does play, so taking extra time to work it out is a good move. I previously expressed displeasure with how the organization has handled the situation, but they’ve righted the ship and they’re currently handling it in the most appropriate manner.
We’ll see how it works out. I home this is the solution and he’ll be back on the 8th of May.
Update: David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says McCann has hit with his glasses today and there is reason to be encouraged, but we’ve heard that before, haven’t we? Here’s what he says:
McCann hit with the glasses, said it felt good, that he thinks this will be the solution, at least until offseason. Docs have told him surgery should be last resort in-season, but it is an option if glasses doesn’t work out.
He hit in the regular glasses today, but the Oakley sports glasses should be here in a day or two. Said he doesn’t want to make any “this is the solution” pronouncements, because he’s said twice that he was doing better with contacts, only to have that change quickly.
But he said if he gets used to the glasses and the depth perception thing, this should work. Doesn’t know if he’ll have to wear them under the hockey mask, but if he does it should work because he would just leave the mask on when catching popups, taking throws, etc.
Good news, I think.
Let’s get to Hampton early tonight!
April 30, 2009 at 3:05 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, NL East News, Series Preview, Series Thoughts, St. Louis Cardinals
I predicted 1 out of 3 in that series, but I didn’t expect it to happen in that fashion. We didn’t win when 2 of our best pitchers went, but we won when Jo Jo Reyes pitched. Go figure.
In the first game we made a bunch of stupid mistakes, stranded a bunch of runners, and wasted a brilliant performance by Jurrjens to lose 3-2. I was pretty mad after the game because we played like crap. In the 2nd game, Jo Jo Reyes pitched 7 innings allowing only 1 run. We got lucky when Matt Diaz swung at ball 4 with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th, hit the ball off the end of the bat, Kahlil Greene made a terrible play, and the ball got through the infield on the ground for a 2-run single. Gonzalez pitched a perfect 9th striking out the side against the heart of the order. His fastball was back up to 94 MPH and he looked truly dominant. Much reason to be encouraged there.
In the 3rd game Vazquez pitched 8 innings allowing 5 runs. Four of these runs came in the 5th inning when Vazquez allowed 6 hits (no walks), all singles, and not a one of them was hit hard. There were a few bloops and a few ground-ball singles. Folks, that isn’t Vazquez’s fault. Singles are largely luck and defense. Vazquez allowed 3 other hits in the 7 other innings he pitched and only 1 of them was for extra bases (a double). He walked 1 and struck out 8. Allowing 10 baserunners in 8 innings usually doesn’t result in 5 runs. I’ve got no complaints about how Vazquez pitched, he was just on the bad end of some terrible luck tonight.
On the other hand, Wainwright walked 5 batters and allowed 7 hits (1 for extra bases, a double by Kotchman) in 6 innings while striking out only 2. When you’re getting 2 runners on an inning you’re supposed to score more than 3 runs. Mac at Braves Journal makes a great point about our lineup:
But he [Adam Wainwright] got some good defense and the Braves’ peculiar lineup arrangement kept the most successful hitters (Infante had three hits, leading off; Kotchman had two and a walk in the cleanup spot; Schafer walked three times and stole a base hitting seventh) from interacting properly.
It reminded me of a great quote by Bill James on a similar subject. Bill James is the answerer p.s.:
Q: On the topic of batting orders, does it make sense to space out your best hitters instead of clumping them together. This would seem to give an advantage because the team never has to deal with a weak bottom half. You always have a good hitter up, or on deck. Also this might mess with the pitchers mind cause he wont be able to “rest” pitching to 3 or 4 bad hitters in a row.
A: It would seem to me that this offers speculative advantages and tangible disadvantages. Offense is interactive. If you have three good hitters, probably the worst thing you can do with them is to bat them 3rd, 6th and 9th.
We didn’t bat our 3 best 3-6-9, but 1-4-7 is the same thing. It just wasn’t the Braves’ night. By the way, in the series Yunel Escobar was 2-12 with no walks, grounded into a double play, and made 2 baserunning errors. Pretty weak.
We averaged 12 and 2/3 baserunners per game this series and managed to scratch across 7 total runs (2 and 1/3 runs per game). I’m not concerned with the lack of offense because we’re getting on base. We aren’t going to keep getting unlucky and stranding 10 runners a game. It will come. Don’t panic.
The offense DID receive a boost when Kelly Johnson was lifted from the 2nd game in favor of Omar Infante, who also started the final game of the series. Johnson has been struggling to the tune of a 4 for 39 slump and he needs some time to re-group. Well, I really don’t know what he needs, other than to start hitting.
The pitching staff allowed 10 total runs. The Cardinals were averaging 6 runs a game going into the series and they averaged 3 and 1/3 during our series. We can and will win games with this pitching staff. It is top-notch.
The 2nd win was huge. We’d had baserunners all night, failed to score, finally got a clutch (lucky) hit that put us on top, and Gonzalez delivered big-time. He was downright dominant in that outing and I’m looking forward to having him pitch the 9th for us in the future. Reyes’ outing was very encouraging too. More on this later, but the Braves will push back Kawakami’s start 3 days because he’s experiencing shoulder soreness and Reyes’ strong outing probably makes them feel much more comfortable about doing that.
I don’t have many complaints about the series. We played pretty well this series and most things didn’t break our way. That won’t continue. I was pleased with the result. We’re inching towards being ready to compete in a big-time series. I wonder what type of big-time series we’ve got coming up?
Well, we’re playing the Astros next, which isn’t a big-time series, but the Mets come to town for 2 games following the Astros series. Hopefully we’ll be ready to kick some butt by then.
Speaking of the Astros series, we’ll pitch Lowe, Jurrjens, and Reyes this weekend and they’ll be opposed by Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz, and Roy Oswalt. Look, I hate how Mike Hampton cramped our payroll all those years he spent on the DL, but I like the guy. It isn’t like he WANTED to be injured and didn’t want to pitch, he’s just fragile as glass. I wish him well, just not against the Braves Friday night. He’s been pitching well recently and has a 3.86 ERA. Ortiz is sporting a super-cool 5.30 ERA and 1.74 WHIP and there isn’t an excuse for not scoring off of this guy, even with McCann out of the line-up. If we don’t win this game for Jurrjens I think he should be allowed to line all the position players’ wives/girlfriends up, pick one, and do something sexually filthy (I’ll let you use your imagination to keep the post PG-13) with her in front of everyone in the middle of the clubhouse, because that’s the kind of treatment he’s been getting from them lately. I’ll get to McCann in a second. Oswalt has an 0-2 record despite his fairly decent 3.96 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. I still like our chances at home with Reyes pitching, especially if he pitches anything like he did Tuesday night. This seems to be a very sweepable series and that’s the expectation I have for the club going into it. We’ll see if I’m disappointed or not.
I said I’d get to McCann. McCann went 1-3 while DHing for Myrtle Beach tonight. He’s using a different contact lens in each eye. I’m legitimately concerned. The way this has been handled leads me to believe the organization is hiding something, which is NEVER good. When the organization hides things it is usually because they’d hurt attendance if revealed and they hope it just sort of “corrects itself” before they have to reveal anything. How many times have we heard about a pitcher “diagnosed” with “elbow inflammation” with the organization saying he’ll make his next start only to see him going under the knife for Tommy John surgery 2 weeks later? We’ll see. If he’s activated on May 8, I’ll be beyond thrilled. Unless the organization is really THAT stupid and they’ll run McCann out there with crappy vision just to salvage attendance.
The most recent topics of discussion have centered around the line-up. While I don’t think line-ups matter all that much, here’s how I’d line ‘em up (full health assumed):
Interestingly, Escobar hits RHP better than LHP. I know it is weird, but just one of those things. He hits into ENTIRELY too many double plays to be hitting in the 2-hole. I’m sick of seeing the lead-off man get on only for Yunel to erase him in front of Chipper Jones. In these line-ups, we minimize the double plays batting him 1st (where you always lead off the 1st inning and are more likely to lead off any other inning in the NL because the pitcher makes the last out a lot and they like to walk the number 8 hitter and pitch to the pitcher) and 5th where he can’t take the bat out of Chipper or McCann’s hands. Switching it around that much based on platoons probably isn’t a good idea, though. That’s why I’m only a critic and not an actual manager.
As I previously stated, Kawakami’s start has been pushed back 3 day so he can recover from shoulder soreness that he’s experienced. This goes back to my Kawakami article. You expect things like this to happen when you’re adjusting to a 5-man rotation and a larger baseball. We’ll see how he responds to the extra rest. He’ll be going on 8 days rest so that should be more than adequate and I’m expecting him to respond positively and turn in a strong outing. We’ll know more on Tuesday. I don’t think we’re dealing with an injury here, he’s just not used to doing what the organization is making him do. I think this shuffling of the rotation will mark the end of our 4 and 1/2 man rotation gimmick.
Other news around the NL East:
The Nationals have re-shuffled their bullpen. Again.
Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge will both attempt to avoid the DL on Friday when they throw bullpen sessions. Hamles sprained his ankle in his most recent start and Lidge has been battling knee inflammation.
Have no fear, Marlins (and baseball) fans. Hanley will return Thursday.
The Mets are having bullpen issues again. Putz has been erratic and they’ve blown leads a few times already this season.
Until next time,