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