Sunday, October 28, 2007

A-Z Reviews: R

I'm watching the 4:00 NFL games as I hope for big days from what fantasy players I have left (go Maroney!) so I figured I would pick up with my reviews. Here are the R's. Yes, you can say it like a pirate if you want.

Mark Redman
-Oh jeez, must I start on this guy? "The day started out so good. I had a good night's sleep, I had a good B.M. I don't want to hear any bad news." Mel Brooks movie quotes aside, Redman was horrid. Horrible. Car-wreck bad. I never knew the sight of one person could make me so physically sick and scared at the same time. He appeared in six games with the Braves and the Braves lost the division by five games. Is it that much of a stretch that he killed the season? And then, in true Braves luck, he went to Colorado and didn't absolutely suck.

2008 Outlook: I'm not saying I want him dead, I'm just saying I'll ignore whatever curious circumstances bring that end upon us. I'm merely kidding. I don't want to see him do well, though. My God, there is a chance this guy might get a World Series ring.

Edger Renteria
-It is a shame how good Renty's season may have looked had he not suffered a high ankle sprain in one of the year's oddest games that saw Chipper Jones playing shortstop. Had he played in 155 games at the paces he put up, he would have finished with 205 hits, 109 runs scored, 38 doubles, and 15 homers. I do not even care much for the counting stats like hits and so forth, but damn, that's pretty sweet. He set a new personal high in AVG and finished with his second best season of his career. And...he wasn't an All-Star. Ya know, when people say, "the guy was an All-Star," I'll point to Renty's first half stats of .319/.384/.481 and say, "yeah, this guy wasn't. Screw the All-Star Game."

2008 Outlook: Renteria has one guarenteed year left on his contract and the Braves have Yunel Escobar. Seems like a perfect candidate to trade, right? Renteria to Escobar is in my book a loss of talent and production, at least offensively, but if Renteria nets players who make up for that loss, it is a good deal. Players like Jon Garland have been discussed and Garland would be a decent fourth starter, but if you add a guy like Glavine, you kind of need to either use Renteria in a deal for a bigger starter or in a deal for young talent that is ready and can progress into big time performers for this organization.

Jo-Jo Reyes
-In 2007, Reyes had a lot of ups and a few downs, but clearly showed that the Braves had reason to feel he was their top young pitcher in the upper levels in the minors. Reyes was a high school kid out of California when he was selected as the 43rd overall pick in 2003. He was a decent, but injury-prone, pitcher his first three years before taking off last year with a 1.24 WHIP and 3.51 ERA with Rome and Myrtle Beach. This year, he pitched well at AA, dominated AAA, and earned a promotion. Things stopped there, but Reyes rebounded in his second trip with the Atlanta. After a tough first start against the Reds on August 21st, Reyes pitched five more times (four starts) and posted a decent 1.33 WHIP and a 3.08 ERA. The biggest reason was that he was not walking so many hitters. He lowered his ERA nearly 3 and a half runs over this stretch.

2008 Outlook: Bobby Cox likes him, saying the Braves could be depending on him a lot next year. Whether that is Coxspeak for "hey teams, we like him a lot, you should overvalue him" or not, Reyes is the only real prospect ready to contribute next season as a starter, at least early on. There is some real potential here, though he will probably not be an ace-type guy. If he can be good through six, he would be a lifesavor for this staff.

Royce Ring
-The Braves had been searching for a LOOGY all season. Macay McBride faltered, Steve Colyer sucked, Wilfredo Ledezma sucked harder. Rob Mahay helped, but next season, it might be Royce Ring. He's a former 1st rounder out of San Diego State who the Mets got in the Roberto Alomar to ChiSox deal in 2003. Before last season, he was shipped off to San Diego and he had a McBrideish start with them (14 walks in 15 innings). After splitting time with Portland, the Braves picked him up in the Ledezma/Startup deal at the deadline. He got into 15 games with the R-Braves before his September 1st callup. With the Braves, in 11 games, he faced more than two batters just twice and in his last six games, faced a grand total of six batters. He faired okay, not allowing a run in five innings, but giving up two hits and three walks. Of 14 runs inheritated, only two scored.

2008 Outlook: Ring's pickup gave them a potential second lefty in September, but also a good LOOGY for next year. However, over his major league history, he has not been that dominating in that role (a .357 OBP against). He will need to pick up to be much more than a better Tom Martin.

Week in Review

Hey, another week gone, another week of news that I have missed. Heck, maybe you have even missed it.

...heck? What am I, a farmer?

First off, here is a little praise for the best Bush currently going. Paul, a minor league swingman for the Braves, was inducted into the Georgia Southwestern State University Hall of Fame. Bush probably will never get much of a chance as a major leaguer. However, his stats are pretty decent. He's coming off an injury so maybe he can surprise some people.

The Rocky Mount Telegram called Atlanta the worst sports city. I only mention it because I hate corny pieces of shit and this one fills that sad requirement.

Meanwhile, just sticking with the Atlanta Braves, Mark Bowman talked again. One sentence scares me tremendously.

"The addition of one or two starters this offseason would certainly enhance what already has the makings of a strong rotation."

The context was that adding Glavine and maybe another pitcher merely makes the staff, that was strong before the offseason even officially began, that much better. This scares me because this is the same crap they were saying last year. On one hand, "let's get some starting pitching." On the other, "with Mike Hampton returning, we are already good." No...we weren't going to be and we weren't. Call a spade a spade, bitchnuts. Bowman is the Braves talking piece and anytime he makes statements like this, I start shaking uncontrollably.

The article also goes on to talk about how Brent Lillibridge is a candidate for the CF job. This is big because I don't remember that officially being declared. Lillibridge was going to play CF in the AFL, but an injury has postponed that. It will be interesting to see what he can do. However, the hype over Jordan Schaffer still bugs me. I mean, why point to an absolute rarity like Rafael Furcal? Schuerholz, keep Wren from talking.

The Braves made their first offseason move as they DFA'd Chad Paronto and picked up Chris Resop off waivers. Resop made his debut with the Florida Marlins three years ago and in 41 games in the majors, four last year with the Angels, Resop has a 1.83 WHIP and a 5.48 ERA. Fun! 26 walks to 27 strikeouts. Horray!

However, he will turn 25 on November 4th so he's not completely without some hope. Has only been a professional for five years. Has been used often as a closer and looked absolutely filthy in 2004 when he had 71 K's to 8 walks. He has yet to get that talent back. Last year, he was pretty average in the PCL. A nothing-to-talk about move that was probably spurred on by the fact Paronto was due arbitration this year.

Elsewhere, DOB talks about how the Braves won't deal KJ for Crisp. It's pretty sad when DOB is required to lay down some truthiness.

That's all the news that was fit to print. Whatever the heck that means.

There's that damn word again...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Raw Numbers #33 Posted

Over at chopnation, my latest Chopnation is up for your reading pleasure. It is a fairly in depth look at the center field position for next year and the options I feel are pretty reasonable. Give it a look here and remember to comment on the chopnation forums.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A-Z Reviews: P

Chad Paronto
-The Human Burrito had a great spring, but a groin injury led to ineffective play and a DL trip. After he got back, he received a demotion around the trading deadline and never seemed to earn the trust of the organization back. Really confusing because Paronto was one of the Braves only effective relievers the previous season, but 2007 was different. Paronto's control was a bit of a problem and the Braves bullpen was molding into form as one of the game's elite pens. With Richmond, Paronto was okay, though not great and then, didn't receive a callup in September.

2008 Outlook: The fact he did not receive a promotion in September makes me think the Braves were punishing him for attitude or conditioning. I doubt he will be back. If the Braves give him another chance, he could battle fairly well for a spot in next year's pen, but his chances of playing any sort of significant role for the Braves franchise is very low. (Props to Rowland for the pic.)

Brayan Pena
-Pena was not really challenged for the backup catcher spot in spring training. He had hit .326 and .302 in consecutive seasons with Richmond and .268 in 41 AB with the big league club in 2006, even providing a pinch-hit single in that ridiculous September comeback against the Marlins when after giving up four runs to fall behind 7-2 in the 10th, the Braves scored five runs via some of the worst defense in MLB history. However, Pena's season came to a sudden stop when Greg Dobbs' backswing hit Pena in the head, giving him a concussion. The injury, suffered on May 1st, gave Jarrod Saltalamacchia a chance and Salty took over. Pena went to Richmond once healthy, playing C, 1B, 3B, LF, and RF, before getting a shot back with the Braves in September.

2008 Outlook: The reason for Pena's inability to stick at catcher had nothing to do with the amazing catching duo of Corky Miller and Iker Franco and everything to do with pitchers' dislike of Pena as a catcher. The TBS crew gave credence to that thinking and they rarely speak anything the major league squad doesn't okay. Out of position, Pena's offensive abilities would be suitable for a utility man or a middle infielder. The former is much more likely. Don't know if he has much of a future with the Braves, though.

Martin Prado
-Prado's year can be split in two. From the moment he got called up (5 for 28, no EBH, 2 BB) and demoted to his second callup (12 for 31, 2 2B) and the end of the season. Prado was the guy I sorta liked coming into spring to start the year at second and giving KJ more time to defensively adjust to the position. His overall numbers of .288/.323/.339 in 28 G weren't that bad. Around those callups this year, he hit .316/.374/.420 for the R-Braves. Over his career, he is a .300 minor league hitter. Essentially, he is Brayan Pena with the ability to play up the middle.

2008 Outlook: Prado is a good backup possibility, better than the likes of Peterson Orr or Nicholas Green. It won't even be that big of a fallback when you need to put him in the lineup. All in all, a perfect backup who received time at 2B/SS/3B, but is probably best suited for only 2B and 3B. I still think given time, Prado has a chance to have a Polanco type career for someone.

Week in Review

When I work during the week, I rarely if ever keep track of the Braves, baseball, my cat, or my bathing routine. Perhaps I've said too much. Anywho, here is a recap of the week's events involving the Braves. Some of this may be old news to you, some of it may have been mislooked, but all of it is NEWS! I feel so Dan Ratherish.

The Savannah Morning News mentions that maybe John Schuerholz's decision to move to President was due in at least part to the fact that he didn't want to deal with Glavine or try to replace Bobby Cox. Hear that, John? The SMN calls you a pussy. What now?

Meanwhile, the favorite target of this blog, the AJC, had a Frank Wren piece from Jeff Schultz. It's your basic fluff piece with a little history on Wren that you probably will never be asked about on Jeopardy. This Schuerholz/Wren shake-up is kind of reminding me of the Bill Parcells/Wade Phillips shake-up in Dallas. One guy is the bigger personality - both in the media and the way he is portrayed. However, Wren won't have direct contact.

I'm still not sure this setup will work so well. If Schuerholz feels the itch to do the GM job, it could break down rather quick.

Crooked Pitch had a look at the Braves outfield in 2007. Decent objective piece, though he is dreaming if he feels Brandon Jones can be the starting center fielder in 2008.

Speaking of center field, Torri Hunter has expressed a desire to play in Atlanta next year. Last year, I railed against getting Tom Glavine and this year, I would rather have Glavine than Hunter. If you look at Hunter's career, he has two pretty good years, three pretty shitty years, and four average to slightly better-than average campaigns. Why the hell would I want to pay $13-$15 million for that? Yes, he is coming off a solid year, but he still posted a pedestrian .334 OBP and a hardly notable .505 SLG to go with his 122 OPS+. All told, his year wasn't that much better than any other year.

Put it this way. As I was preparing for my next chopnation column, I came to the conclusion that on a money paid, production received scale, Mike Cameron trumps Hunter and I'm hardly that much of a fan of Cameron.

DOB is hyping up Jordan Schaffer. Hopefully, the kid keeps progressing, but this lovefest is getting a little scary. I believe a lot of people are convinced that Schaffer will be the starting center fielder. You have to learn from the Andy Marte's of the world that just being great in the minors and having solid potential doesn't make a star right away. "Think Grady Sizemore meets Steve Finley?" I hope he is more on the Sizemore side than Finley. The latter was a good guy, nice defender, but an average hitter. Sizemore is a damn force.

Finally, news came out today that Paul Byrd bought $24,850 of HGH between the summer of 2002 and the winter of 2005. 2002 was Byrd's career season with the Royals when he came out of nowhere to suddenly win 17 and post solid numbers. The Braves signed him in 2003 and he spent two years in Atlanta in which he started just 19 games. Maybe the HGH made him more prone to injury.

Now I'm of the camp that really downplays the impact HGH has on a player, especially a pitcher. HGH simply buils immature muscle which would be good for someone who needs girth like an offensive lineman, but not so helpful for a guy like Paul Byrd - who is a finesse pitcher. Nevertheless, this is the kind of stories that you kind of get used to. I tend to like Byrd, but jeez, you were an idiot.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A-Z Reviews: O

Hey, I'm back for a few days and here is a report on the one O for the Braves. Not an orgasm, pervs, but a player.

Pete Orr
-Peter bothers me. First off, I'm never a big fan of people whose name can also mean penis. You can shorten it to Pete or go with Peterson, but the dick is still there, Mr. Canada. Second...ugh. He is a horrible offensive player. Sure, he hit .300 in 2005, but that just means he was that year's Nick Green. After slumping to .253, he was down to .200 this year, a season sandwiched around demotions. In 395 plate appearances over his career, Orr has drawn 14 walks. Come on, man! His SLG this year was .215. One extra base hit. Jeez!

2008 Outlook: On the plus side, Orr's a great guy. Which makes me think he'll be okay that he won't be a Brave next year. The Braves, if Willy Aybar is healthy, have eight infielders next year worthy of a major league spot. They also have the solid Brent Lillibridge, the better-than-Orr Wes Timmons, and coming off a surprisingly-good-year Diory Hernandez. It was a good run, Orr. My bet is that a AAA team will pick him up OR he joins the Can-Am league, an independent league that will allow him the opportunity to play some in Canada.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tangotiger's Defensive Rankings

Tangotiger is one of the most well-respected figures in the stats/sabermetrics scene. In August of 2007, he put the ballots out for fan-scounting reports on defensive players. Here is the result.

My thoughts...the league average in agreement level is .71. Of the 16 players who were looked at, 11 were given a reasonable agreement level. I'm going to look at the handful that weren't.

Ryan Langerhans - .64 aggreement - Langer is an interesting case. Defensively, he looks extremely solid, but his defensive metrics have never been that wonderful. Of criticism seems to be his throws - every step of them. Range-wise, he seems to have it down pat and has great instincts, but while he doesn't have a Juan Pierre noodle arm, he doesn't have a great one either.

Chipper Jones - .59 agreement - For Chipper, it's always been the old debate that we see with our own eyes. He does one thing particularly well, or so it seems. He can charge the bouncer and make an accurate throw. This much appears true. And his instincts, possibly the reason he started at shortstop and stayed there for so long, are solid. He just has slow reaction time. I've heard anywhere between "horrible" to "Gold Glove calibar" defense when describing Chipper this year. I think he's a bit below-average, but he was as good this year as he has been in some time. Still believe he's more of a Vinny Castilla type, though.

Chris Woodward - .53 agreement - Talk about a guy who doesn't really do anything well. They grade Woody at third, but you can essentially grade him the same at any position. I have never seen a former shortstop turned utility man who can't play any position with any sort of talent. Usually, they were playing short for a reason. Not Woody. He was horrid. What was there not to agree with? Maybe some felt he sucked even more.

Julio Franco - .62 agreement - Juliold is the kind of guy who is well valued by his manager and talked up too much. If you ever watch Julio attempt to field, one thought goes through your head. "This is why they invented the DH." When I heard people talk up his defense on his return, I was flatout shocked. Did they actually believe Julio was going to provide much of a defensive lift? Seriously, this is where the disconnect between Bobby and the fans needs to be. I'm not sure whether Cox actually believes Franco is so good defensively or he was dire need of something good to say when asked about the old man, but he sucks.

Scott Thorman - .60 agreement - In truth, I think Thor is as defensively inept as Franco. I think he displays better instincts, though I agree Franco is a better thrower and does the 3-1 throw better. Too many times, Thor was throwing it at the pitcher, not leading the pitcher.

When looking back at 2006's scouting reports, a player who saw a good amount of change was Matt Diaz. In '06, he was graded a 28. This year, a 34. While not a massive improvement, I admit, the one big thing is that his instincts were graded much higher. This allows him to take much better routes. If defense was keeping him out of the lineup, at least he is closing in the gap.

Anyway, I'll be likely working till the end of the week so I'll continue my reviews and such then.

A-Z Reviews: M

Macay McBride
-McBride got off to one shitty start. After five games, he had pitched all of three innings and walked 11 batters. After a demotion that saw him get a lot of work as a starter for Richmond, he was back with the team in May and was generally decent. Over his next 13 games, he posted a 1.17 WHIP and a 3.00 ERA. And then, Schuerholz traded him to the Tigers for Wilfredo Ledezma in a deal that still does not make a lot of sense. He struggled at times with Detroit and appeared in his last game for the Tigers in August before being demoted. Not sure if he got hurt or anything.

2008 Outlook: While I was never that big of a fan of Macay...cause what kind of name is Macay?...McBride should stick around in this league for awhile. He's lefthanded and can throw hard. Still not sure why Schuerholz felt he had to deal McBride, but it was stupid at the time and it is more stupid now. He essentially traded McBride and Will Startup for Royce Ring. Seems like a lot of dumbassity.

Brian McCann
-The Braves catcher that Lauren likes to call "Baby" (shudders) did not have that good of a year last year. Yes, I know he was not going to hit .333 every year, but his IsoOBP (which wasn't that good) went down slightly to 0.50 and his power slumped to .182 IsoSLG. Still great numbers for a catcher, but hardly the numbers the Braves were expecting after his remarkable 2006. McCann has worked at improving his defense and it was better last year, but remains average at best. An average offensive campaign like last year won't help matters.

2008 Outlook: I still like McCann and think he can improve his offensive numbers. What I would like to see is a .065 IsoOBP and a .205 IsoSLG. That means, if he batted .285 next year, his OBP would be .350 and his SLG would be at .490. These are very makable marks and highly valuable at his position. Staying healthy would help, too.

Corky Miller
-The Life Goes On jokes are plentiful. Corky is your classic backup catcher. Can't hit, can play some defense, and oh, he can't hit. However, he was not that bad with the Braves, at least in limited at-bats. 7-for-29 (.259) with a pair of a doubles and a homer. All told, some good numbers. I still remember his first hit for the Braves because it was so effin strange. Called up after the Salty trade, Corky comes up in the 12th, Braves down by two against Brad Lidge. And the Corkster squibs a little swinging bunt toward second and gets an infield single, one of FOUR infield hits in his career. After a Willie strikeout, which he did often in the second half, Diaz hit a two-run bomb to tie the game up. The Legend of Cork lives on.

2008 Outlook: Brayan Pena is not a catching prospect anymore because pitchers can't stand him behind the plate, which might explain why no one has really tried to acquire him. Bringing Miller back just makes sense. He's great defensively and while he is a career .196 hitter, he does what he needs to do. If McCann went down, though, Miller would be a real weakness. Might want to bat the pitcher 8th when he hits.

Peter Moylan
-Last year, I referred to Moylan as a potential sleeper for 2007. He finished up well in 2006 and his deceptive delivery poised problems, especially to righties, and the movement he could get was just sick. But anyone who says they saw his 2007 year coming is a liar or has a time machine. Moylan rubber-armed his way to 80 games and 90 innings in which he allowed just 65 hits. Concerns of overusage were put to bed somewhat as he kept getting outs. With a 1.80 ERA, he became the first Brave to put up a sub-2.00 ERA over a full season since John Smoltz did it in 2003 in his final year as a closer. His metrics aren't too shabby, too, at least in the sense to say, "he was lucky." In general, anyone with that low of an ERA is benefiting from some luck, but Moylan was not abnormally lucky.

2008 Outlook: He probably won't post another sub-2.00 ERA, but he has a good chance to be solid yet again. He gets a lot of grounders, enough strikeouts, and keeps the ball in play. If he was any better, I would go gay for him. Well, maybe not, but his marks are ridiculously good. Relievers often sparkle and fade in equally quick fashions so it's not prudent to get too stuck on him. Nevertheless, the Aussie should be pretty awesome next year.

Wow, Bowman with a body blow

Usually, Mark Bowman avoids all definites. He's either afraid to give them or the organization doesn't want them out in the public domain. However, when answering a question about Leo, he was very adament.

"When I read the first few questions that contained this subject, I was planning to attempt to find a more pertinent topic. My incorrect assumption was that after he exited to take the Orioles job two years ago, enough had been written to clearly indicate his departure created no tears within the Braves organization.

But since so many asked about Mazzone's potential return, I'll make it simple and say it ain't happening. Some of you suggested for sentimental reasons it would be great to bring both Mazzone and Tom Glavine back next year.

I'll just say if the Braves were planning on constructing a reunion team next year, there would be a much greater chance of seeing Charlie Leibrandt back in the rotation than of having Mazzone back on Bobby Cox's coaching staff."

Hopefully, that puts a bit of a wall up to the countless Leo posts I've seen.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Raw Special: A Look as JS's Legacy

My look at what was Schuerholz's 17 years with the Braves.

A-Z Reviews: L

Ryan Langerhans
-There is no bow to put on Langer's season in which he was traded twice and designated for assignment once. I had some high hopes coming in for Langer. After his rookie season of '05 in which he hit .267/.248/.426 was followed by a much worse year in '06, I was hoping he could rebound in '07. What happened...was horrible. After an incredible spring, Langer went 3 for 44 with the Braves before his trade to the A's, who traded him a few days later to the Nationals. Overall, Langer hit .167 last year. I have certain hope in Langer, built by him making an All-Star Game for me in OOTP and the fact that he was getting benched for the likes of Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi in '05. I still miss him a bit.

2008 Outlook: Langer is in a very tough place. One, the Nationals will likely attempt to be players in the free agent market to open their park with a flourish. Two, Langer is arbitration eligible and after a season like he just had, you tend to close the door and move on. But I'm hoping Langer signs somewhere that will let him have a real shot at winning a fourth outfielder job.

Wilfredo Ledezma
-In a strange deal last year, Schuerholz traded Macay McBride for Wilfredo Ledezma. It almost seemed like he said, "ya know, what the hell? I like alfredo sauce and his name rhymes." Friends don't let friends make deals under the influence. Ledezma, who was never that good the Tigers got worse after the trade, posting a 7.71 ERA, before the Braves said bye bye and DFA'd him. A few days later, he was packaged with Will Startup in another "huh?" deal for Royce Ring. The traded netted the Braves a LOOGY...for a potential LOOGY and another guy. Maybe Ledezma is code for really messed up deals.

2008 Outlook: He sucks, who cares? Though, knowing the Braves, how much you want to bet he turns into an average starter that Braves fans look at as an actual improvement over what we start? (see Minor, Zach) I couldn't actually find a picture of Ledezma as a used this nice picture of a black hole because...he might be in there.

Anthony Lerew
-Lerew was masterful in his first start on May 8th against the light-hitting Pads, striking out seven and allowing just two solo homers over six innings. However, that was only good enough for a no-decision as the Braves would win later 3-2. However, he failed to even pitch six innings in his next two starts, sucking against the Pirates (oh, vey) and the Red Sox (understandable) before a sore elbow was reported and Lerew hit the DL. Two months later, after it hadn't got better, he went the Tommy John way. Before his callup, Lerew was *decent* with Richmond.

2008 Outlook: He likely is targeting a September '08 return. His second half is shot and he will have to work his way back into the team, unlike players like Hampton and Gonzo, who if healthy are on the team. If he appears in one major league game, he has had a remarkable year.

The Other Big Three

An era that might never come again

The question of what pitching coach Leo Mazzone actually meant to the Atlanta Braves might never be answered to the complete satisfaction of WHIP-crunching seamheads everywhere. Whether Bobby Cox is a gruff but fair manager of men or a sort of gradually worsening old coot in a uniform sometimes stacks up as one of life's basic imponderables.

"Seamhead?" For those who don't know, seamhead is the newest slam on sabermetrics by people who don't have enough of a brain to understand that the numbers being used are not, as the definition implies, obscure. To even join WHIP and "seamhead" shows how moronic and biased Mark Kreidler is. WHIP is so common that it is usually reported by any media source online, including ESPN. It is a fixture of fantasy sports now. Rather than using a word that Google won't automatically define, maybe you should understand what obscurity actually is, Marky. Hmmmk?

Oh, sure, that was a while ago -- eons, by the modern standard. Since Mazzone took his pitching theories with him to Baltimore after the 2005 season, for example, the Braves have experienced back-to-back third-places finishes in the N.L. East, going a combined 163-161 over two years.

Hyperbole is not your friend, Mark. "Eons" by whose "modern standard?" Dumbass. Yes, the Braves have not been a playoff team in two years since Mazzone left. The implication here is that Mazzone, if not causing it, played a major role.

Of course, in the AL with Leo, the Orioles have seen no improvement and have finished 13th out of 14 AL teams in consecutive years. It ain't easy facing the Yankees and Red Sox offense a disapportionate amount of times, I realize, but for the great pitching mind, Leo has not provided much to his new team.

Moral of the story? Hall of Fame pitchers are good. Without them, it's much, MUCH harder.

What's this? Mark's going to just repeat what I said. Oh, I hope my popcorn is ready.

The easy response to the success of those years is to survey the careers of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux, among others, and essentially credit their bosses with being in the right place at the right time. Smoltz has been particularly insightful on the subject of Mazzone, gently pointing out in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Mazzone's reputation as a pitching-staff wizard was built substantially on his ability to handle pitchers who already knew how to compete at the major-league level.

That's probably fair as far as it goes, and it's no problem accepting such a notion when you consider that Mazzone's two years in Baltimore, where the Orioles have been beset by injury and basic organizational and personnel failures, have produced the 29th-ranked pitching staff in the majors for two seasons running.

But the whole story? Egad, no. The whole story in Atlanta is too complex for that. It goes to something more mysterious and ethereal and, thus, of severely limited value in baseball's statistics-oriented society. It goes to the idea of multiple minds working together in some sort of weird harmony, of organizational leaders being pretty comfortably in sync. You probably can see it more easily than explain it.

I should have said 29th worst pitching staff in the majors, I guess. Sounds more notable. But hey, I thought it would be fun to keep it to the AL. And yes, the Big Three, "among others," played a major role in the mystique and greatness or Leo, Bobby, and JS. First off, both Smoltz and Glavine were young pitchers who had some success before Leo's arrival. Then, Maddux didn't need much help. He was already the best pitcher in the majors when he joined Atlanta. In fact, the young pitching, especially the starters, who failed in Atlanta are a big blackmark on Leo's career.

Look at Odalis Perez and Jason Marquis, two of the better young arms in the game, and neither could reach any sort of potential with Leo. Now, they were probably overranked as prospects, but Leo was supposed to turn them into stars. He nearly wrecked Kevin Millwood with his idea of "I don't care how hard you can throw, do it like Tom Glavine." And who takes the blame for the sad failure of Steve Avery's promising career?

The actual statistical studies that have gone over best manager and best GM, Mark, actually come to the conclusion that stability and a solid working relationship is exceptionally important to a successful atmosphere.

It ended right after Mazzone left, although only a fool would suggest that any one person's absence caused the Braves to drop off to 79-83 in 2006 or to miss the playoffs again this year. Players get older, arms fade, rosters grow brittle, injuries happen -- it's the same story everywhere you go.

You seem to be suggesting just that, Mark.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Baseball America Minor League Notes

BA finished off the top 20 lists and added All-Stars for both the minor league as a whole and each level. Here is a review for our interests.

International League Top 20
7. Brent Lillibridge, ss, Richmond Braves
8. Yunel Escobar, ss, Richmond Braves
14. Brandon Jones, of, Richmond Braves

The IL was very deep last year with the many big prospects that headed through it on their way to the bigs. Lillibridge was ranked lower than expected in the Southern League, but made up for it in Richmond. Had BJ showed more of his power, he would probably be pushing his way into the top ten. Of course, no pitching on this list.

2007 Classification All-Stars
A Advanced: OF Jordan Schafer
Rookie: OF Cody Johnson, SP Cole Rohrbough, SP Jeff Locke

Low showing due in part to the quick promotions some players earned, but this is a sign of how deep the Braves' system is with real impact players. They badly need some luck and/or some good trades to restock this system, especially the upper levels.

Cody Johnson Tidbit

Last year's number one pick, Cody Johnson, was selected as's Short-Season Offensive Player of the Year Award. Not much from me, but check out some of the excerpts from the article.
The 20-year-old outfielder batted .305 while leading the Appalachian League in home runs (17), total bases (153), extra-base hits (40) and slugging percentage (.630). He also ranked second in RBIs (57) and tied for third in doubles (18) and triples (five).

"I told myself that in my first at-bat, I was going to swing at the first good pitch I saw," said Johnson. "When I connected [on the home run], it felt great and it set the tone for the rest of the season."

After hitting just .184 with one homer in 32 games with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Braves last season, Johnson immediately served notice that 2007 would be different. He collected nine multi-hit games and hit safely in 15 of his first 18 contests while driving in 18 runs to help the defending-champion Braves get off to another quick start.


J.C. at Sabernomics as come out with two recent columns speaking of the change in leadership and a possible friend returning. I appreciated the Schuerholz discussion, though. As someone currently putting together a Schuerholz look, I feel like I'm coming to the same conclusion. Good, but not great.

About Mazzone, I also feel that he didn't deserve to be the scapegoat in Baltimore, but his firing/letting go/whatever is certainly understandable. The O's have showed little full season improvement in pitching with Leo rocking in the dugout. Simply, a lot of talent makes a pitching coach look pretty good.

Oh, well, figured I would point these two things out.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A-Z Reviews: J

Big review here with five players, four of which played big parts in the team last season.

Chuck James
-Charles, Chuck, or (as Chip nauseatingly calls him) Chucky had high hopes coming into the year. He had posted solid marks almost across the board in 2006, except for homeruns, and looked like the young pitcher the Braves needed to transition into the next era. However, there were critics. Like me. Who felt a lot of performance was sheer luck. A soft-tossing flyball pitcher who throws two pitches and neither are a breaking ball? Something has to give. Well, what gave was a bad season to follow. His 4.24 ERA again masks how poorly he pitched. His FIP and DERA were worse, his strikeouts were down, homeruns allowed went up. And again, he failed to get grounders. Even worse, in his 30 starts, James went six innings or better 12 times. Now, I wasn't a math major, but my dog tells me that's worse than half. Or less than. Whichever is worse.

2008 Outlook: James could be out of the long-term plans for the Braves for a few reasons. One, Jo-Jo Reyes is well loved by the organization. Two, if you sign Glavine and Hampton comes back, are you seriously going to go with three lefties in the staff (and three lefties who are essentially the same at that)? James probably isn't quite as bad as he pitched last year, but he needs to work on adding a sinker to his game. Or a curve. Or a slider. Or hell, a knuckleball. Right now, he throws two straight pitches. Even if you change speeds as well as Greg Maddux, you need to get some movement.

Kelly Johnson
-KJ. Dr. Sabermetric (I'm warming up to it). Start of the year, I was worried with KJ at second because this team defensively scares me. Keller put my worries to bed with a solid April and though he was not awesomely awesome over like that again, he was solid for the entire year. He finished with a .286 EQA and I believe he can only improve on that. 7.1 WARP1, third best VORP among NL 2B, 4.1 pitches per at-bat, and a lot better defense than I thought we would see. His 107 defensive rate means he was 7% better than average and 9 RAA is not too shabby at all. 14 errors look worrisome to most, however.

2008 Outlook: I expect better things out of KJ. A .300 EQA and a .900 OPS are not lofty goals, but real possibilities. If he can work on the grounder to his non-glove side, always a tough thing to do as my friend BFH pointed out, KJ will be an elite 2B for years to come.

Andruw Jones
-It's over. As I wrote in Raw Numbers #32, the Braves and Andruw Jones are no more and in many ways, I am both sad and excited about it. There is not much left to say about Andruw's year. As for as adjusted OPS goes, it was his worst full season. Taking 1997 out of the mix (a full season, yes, but he was mostly a part-time player), Andruw set career lows in runs scored, hits, doubles, and tied his career low in RBIs. His 236 total bases, a career low. And for Andruw, it just got worse. I was still pretty convinced into June and some of July, Andruw would turn it around to at least put up respectable numbers. I was so wrong.

2008 Outlook: This season, Andruw was absolutely horrible and there are many reasons to believe that Andruw will go down the same road players like Ruben Sierra (after his first seven years, he was never the same) and Darryl Strawberry (once he hit 30, it was all over). Andruw's over 30, though in today's game, that's not exactly a death sentence. Unlike Rusty Greer, he was not defensively reckless in center, but his body has taken a considerable amount of blows. His defense is already in decline. If he can keep it fairly average, he will still be a suitable CF, but once it falls, and I believe it will, he will be like Willie Mays in another way. Playing center field longer than he should.

Brandon Jones
-B.J. began the year with Mississippi and posted a very solid .875 OPS with them, complete with 15 HR and a .214 IsoSLG. He moved on to Richmond and his power slumped, but he still hit the ball well in 191 PA (.292 AVG/.354 OBP). That earned him a shot with the big club. He was only 3 for 19 with 8 K's, but did add a 2B and 4 ribbies. Jones is considered, by many, one of the Braves top five prospects and from what I heard, routinely flirting with a .900 OPS should be pretty easy for the kid.

2008 Outlook: Jones will turn 24 in December so he still has some time. Right now, I just don't see a lot of playing time available unless Bobby wants to platoon Diaz yet again with a new guy, this time the left-hand hitting Jones. Seems kind of dumb considering Diaz's last two seasons. If he is not traded this offseason, and I believe the chance is pretty high, Jones will probably fine-tune his game with Richmond next year, at least early on, giving the Braves a backup plan in case of injury.

Chipper Jones
-No matter how you slice it, Chipper Jones had an amazing 2007 campaign. An MVP calibar one. His .340 EQA ranked second in his career and his adjusted WARP's were the best he has ever had. He even reached 600 PA for the first time since 2003, which was the last year he reached the celebrated 100 R/100 RBI plateaus that he also reached this year. The 42 doubles were a new high and he walked more than he struck out for the eighth time in his career. His second place finish for the batting title got all the press, but for the first time in his career, he had the highest OPS in the league. Had he played just a bit more and the Braves been a bit more competitive, Chipper may have won his second MVP. All this...for $11M. Not too shabby.

2008 Outlook: It all comes down to health for Chipper because he remains one of the best hitters in the game. His career OPS is the tenth best active OPS. Defensively, he had one of his best years (though his range has gotten noticeably worse than it was and it never was that good). If healthy, Chipper is a candidate for any hitting award in the majors. I expect more of the same myself. 140ish games, incredible hitting, weaker defense. We're stuck with his defense so if he can do the Vinny Castilla thing (no range, but play everything you get to pretty well), he won't be too much of a problem.

JS Gives Way

News conference is supposed to occur at 3:30 ET to completely validate the news that John Schuerholz has stepped down and will be named Team President. Dammit, I don't feel like writing another "Era has Ended" column. Andruw was enough.

Schuerholz has resided over the club since after the 1990 season and the results are solid. While I believe people overrate his abilities, the Braves were a competitive club from 1991-2005 under his watch. He took over a team rich in young pitching, due to smart drafting/trading when Bobby Cox was the GM. He has made some really bad trades, some really great trades.

Now, I will be writing a bit on Schuerholz for chopnation so I don't want to repeat myself over and over again. Technically, his new position will keep Schuerholz in town, but I tend to think it's more a "well, as long as you want, you can be the Team President." I wouldn't be very surprised if he's the next Cardinals GM, I guess.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Didn't update as much as I thought I would yesterday. Blame Google and the programs I got from them. You would think Google Earth isn't that fun, but you'd be wrong.

So, here is a hodgepodge of stuff.

DOB is still harping on Dan Haren and Joe Blanton, but at least seems to be resigned to understand how doubtful that is. He throws Noah Lowry out as a possibility. Seriously, can the Braves not get a right-handed pitcher anymore?

Lowry had a pretty solid first two seasons, but has been bad the last two. Biggest reason? He sported a solid 7.0+ K/G in '04 and '05, but that number has slumped into the 4.7-4.9 range the past two seasons. If you can't strikeout batters, you will make things much, much harder on yourself. Seems more like a project than a serious improvement.

Elsewhere, in the DOB column..."The Kansas City Royals and GM Dayton Moore are having their organizational meetings this week in Surprise, Ariz., and a major topic of conversation is their managerial search. Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton’s name has been mentioned prominently, which comes as no surprise. But also mentioned by members of the Kansas City media has been Brian Snitker, the Braves’ third-base coach and a minor league lifer until he was brought up to the bigs to join the Braves’ staff last winter."

I don't mind either leaving. TP has watched over a very productive offense and maybe he has played a starring role, but I just don't feel he has been much more than there for the ride. Snitker has experience as a manager in the system, but don't think he'll be much of a loss either. Still holding out hope for Manny Acta being the Braves manager when Bobby leaves.

Pendleton is also a possible St. Louis target and that makes a lot of sense.

Down in Orlando, the Braves are beginning their organizational meeting. John Schuerholz once again talks up the need to focus on starting pitching and hopefully that doesn't just mean signing Tom Glavine for a fun little year. However, the real news from this column is Schuerholz almost going to the point to say that he has no faith that Hampton will be in the rotation next year. Sure, if he's healthy, probably, but the Braves can't "expect anything." Good to hear, JS. Apparently, you can teach an old dog a new trick.

Finally...Baseball America released their Top 20 Southern League Prospects. Here are the Braves players that made the cut.

5. Brandon Jones, of, Mississippi Braves
13. Brent Lillibridge, ss, Mississippi Braves
16. Jo Jo Reyes, lhp, Mississippi Braves
17. Diory Hernandez, ss, Mississippi Braves

Bit surprised by the Hernandez selection in that he doesn't seem like a true prospect, but a good minor league player and possible bench player in the majors. BJ's got some real upside, doesn't he? Matty, sorry, but BJ sticks around, I would not get too comfortable in a starting role.

A-Z Reviews: H

Willie Harris
-He went by a few names at Chopnation. Willie Mays Hays Harris. "The Truth." But to me, he was the guy who replaced Ryan Langerhans and that did not make me very happy. Langer was one of my personal favorites, not this random addition to the team who was hitting at Richmond. But then, Willie kept hitting. In his first 36 games, he was hitting .412/.477/.546. 8 steals and caught just twice with a solid 12/16 BB/SO clip. I mean, I could hate on his fairly weak defense, but that offense was amazing. Then, on June 13th, the clock struck midnight and whatever pumpkin the fairy turned into a magic bat turned back and Willie was the Willie who hit .204 for the ChiSox in 2003. From June 13th until the end of the year, Harris batted .215. He couldn't even steal anymore and was caught in half of his attempts. He OPS'd .631. And yet, Bobby was iffy on taking him out of a platoon with Matt Diaz. Sometimes, I'm pretty harsh on Bobby, but I was really questioning if he was betting on the Braves _not_ making the playoffs.

2008 Outlook: Willie is arbitration eligible and his overall numbers of .272/.349/.392 might get him in the $1.5M range. If that's possible, Braves need to move on. Willie's not worth that much. Hopefully, JS non-tenders him, signs him to a much smaller deal with incentives, or finds some Southeast Australian team willing to overspend for him.

Tim Hudson
-You are not going to find someone who was more ardent about trading Hudson than me. Through two years in Atlanta, he continued a trend that was becoming disconcerting. Less strikeouts, lots of homers, too many damn walks. Yes, Billy Beane didn't get a lot for him, but then, he wasn't playing that well either. However, he turned it around somewhat in 2007. He posted the fourth best Defensive ERA of his career at 3.60, and while the strikeouts still haven't returned, he struck out enough and walked less.

2008 Outlook: Hudson is exactly what you look for when you start thinking "who can be a good #2 pitcher?" I tend to not care much for the labels #1, #2, etc., but Huddy is that. In many ways, he is better than most team's aces, though he himself is not great. He's just really, really good. If he can continue the success he reached in 2007, he will be a big reason why the Braves are in playoff contention. If he is only the innings-eater of 2006, well...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A-Z Reviews: G

Mike Gonzalez
-Oh, what could have been? After an off-and-on start to his Braves career, Gonzalez was in need of Tommy John surgery and gone after just 18 games. Gonzo was fairly decent, especially when he was feeling it and not afraid to let go. However, that was few and far between. He walked a lot of batters last year, but overall, looking like he was capable of being the guy the Braves wanted when they gave up Adam LaRoche. Gonzo has at least one more year of arbitration if not more and should not get much more for next year than he got this year because he only appeared in 18 games.

2008 Outlook: The first two months of the season are pretty much shot for Gonzo. They say while Tommy John rehab takes about a year, it takes another year to get everything back so I can not expect too much from Gonzo next year. Anything close to what Gonzo would give in a healthy year should be considered an added perk. By the way, love the ass-out hug, guys. Vince Vaughn approves.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A-Z Reviews: F

Julio Franco
-Ugh, the old man should have never come back and he scared the bejesus out of me when he did. 49 years-young, Franco was cast off by the Mets after hitting .200 for them and found a new home with the Braves because any old Brave that the Mets no longer want, the Braves will take back (see Glavine, Tom). Franco hit a bit better for the Braves (.250) but showed his age constantly by never getting around on fastballs. After Teix was acquired, Franco grabbed four games at both Rome and Richmond over the next month until he was reactivated for September. He went 1 for 4 with an RBI after returning.

2008 Outlook: His future with the organization is completely tied in to Scott Thorman. I could see the Braves bringing him back (sadly) if they trade off Thor. If not, Franco might be sitting around. Could play some independent ball to stay active and hope some team has a need for a non-power hitting first baseman who can't hit good fastballs. Hey, I can do that!

Jeff Francoeur
-I do not like being wrong. It bothers me. Francoeur was never going to show much more improvement in OBP, I argued, after he posted a .293 clip in 2004. Then, he did. He batted .293 last year with a .338 OBP. While sabermtrically, his EQA of .268 and WARP1 of 5.6 really isn't that much to write home overall, it was a massive improvement over '06. Defensively, he was as weird as ever. If you watch Francoeur run, he reminds me of a cartoon character trying to run with his legs spinning, but not going anywhere. Francoeur is not slow, but he just does not have much top speed. He takes odd routes to the ball, too. With Andruw gone, he's going to need to do a better job to try to hide some of the defensive loss. Some people talk about his HR going from 29 to 19, but I just don't see him as that much of a power hitter at this point of his career anyway. He's a line drive guy. Some years, the 2B/HR just fluctuate for players.

2008 Outlook: How good can Francoeur get? I do not know. I give up trying to come to a conclusion. In general, I can see him improving on this year, but he's never going to be a superstar on his hitting alone. I expect him to have a long-term deal with the Braves signed before spring training. Next year, I will continue my long-standing rule of never calling him "Frenchy" and cringing each time someone does.

Raw Numbers #32 Up!


Give it a look if you haven't yet. It is my look back at Andruw's career and what his legacy with the Braves actually is. Thought it turned out fairly good myself.

Expect a few player reviews up today as I try to get through it. Also, Baseball America was supposed to release the Top 20 Southern League prospects today, but they just changed the release date to October 9th, or for those scoring at home, tomorrow. Bastards!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Jeff Francoeur can do it!

Another AJC article...

Keep Renteria, find young arms

Yay, Norman Bisher has some fresh ideas. Keep your trading piece and find some young arms. Wonder if they'll be connected to any bodies or if that's not needed for him.

This may test his bulldogged agent, Steve Boras, who doesn’t get nearly enough doors slammed in his face. The price tag on Andruw is $20 million. This time Boras has reached his extreme. John Schuerholz can see far more value in $20 million worth of starting pitching. He can find any number of .220 hitters who can chase down fly balls for far less. Maybe this season was just a blip on Andruw’s radar screen, but at no time during the season did he give any extended promise of breaking out of it.

Jeff Francoeur could handle the job. He has the arm that Jones doesn’t have, and he has the range for it. But, he is so perfect for right field, the powerful arm, plus range to cover some of center field as well. Well, a bit of a stretch, I guess. There’s a kid named Jordan Schafer down at Myrtle Beach who gets high grades — and who is known by some as Grady Sizemore-like — but the last time the Braves found a center fielder capable of making the leap from Class A to the major leagues was Brett Butler in the early 1980s. Rafael Furcal later made the graduation at shortstop, which brings up a matter of another nature.

What Francoeur he been watching? The Francoeur I have seen is, at best, adequate in right field. Yes, he has a great arm, but his range is pretty horrific. I will write about it more in my player review, but Andruw's range has come up huge when it comes to plays in the right-center gap because Francoeur simply is not that quick, nor has great instints, nor takes great routes. By the way, speaking of Andruw, he sort of made a jump from A-ball to the majors. Started 1996 in the Carolina League, ended with Atlanta. I know, technically, you're talking about making the jump in spring like Furcal did, but it is still notable.

There’s nothing uplifting about the thought of Edgar Renteria in some other team’s cloth. He has given the Braves two years of solid joy at shortstop, but here’s the deal: If the Braves are looking for a place to readjust the payroll, they could deal Renteria and go with the younger and more agile Cuban, Yunel Escobar, for a bundle less. A cruel thought, but baseball is a game that breaks hearts.

Two things...amaze me here. One, he previously said keep Renteria. I know he said that because it is that sentiment that attracted me to the column to see what worthwhile argument he would make for keeping Renteria over Mr. Dynamic, Yunel Escobar, or Dr. Sabermetric, Kelly Johnson. Gotta work on KJ's superhero name.

But then, instead of that, Bisher would hurt, but the Braves could just deal Renteria anyway.

So...why the title? And more importantly, if trading Renteria is a "cruel thought," you sir lead a semi-charmed life. And now, I have to listen to Third Eye Blind.

So, instead of working the free-agency market, retreading with aging, leathery arms, is there not the possibility of transferring one of those young, vibrant riflemen from the bullpen to starting? Just asking. Chuck James appears better suited for short-term duty, so swap him for Soriano, Acosta, Ascanio or Devine, who, for the most part, are merely names at this stage. One thing for sure, leave Peter Moylan just as he is, the best thing that happened to Braves pitching this year.

This is not how Bisher immediatelly follows the Renteria discussion, nor is it how he ends the column, but damn, this paragraph amused me. Not the Chuck James part. I'm inclined to agree, though I am not sure how much better James would be in relief. But that Soriano is just merely a name.

The guy who finished the year as the closer...

The guy who has sick stuff...

Merely a name.

God, I'm glad I don't pay money for this incredible writing.

A-Z Reviews: E

Yunel Escobar
-Mark Bowman called him dynamic and we at Chopnation adopted the name Mr. Dynamic in almost spite to the fact that he was taking time away from KJ and hitting singles. But then, he started to hit with some pop and kept hitting in general. He plays reckless, which is foolish and intoxicating to watch at the same time. All told, Esco hit .326 in 319 AB, hardly an easy task (in spite of what Matt Diaz might think). He also posted solid rookie numbers in IsoOBP (.059) and IsoSLG (.125) from a middle infielder. The sabermetrics were fairly kind to him, giving him a .286 EQA, good for fourth on the team among hitters with 300 PA. Defensively, I think he can hold his own at second, but might not be an improvement over Renty's often "ok" defense.

2008 Outlook: Gotta work it out with KJ, Renty, and Esco in some facet. Renty is often cited as the man mostly likely to be traded and it makes sense with one more year on his contract that is guaranteed to him. Esco probably brings back the smallest in terms of return unless a SS strapped team desperately puts up pitching for him. In some way, shape, or form, Esco is probably going to be a starter for the Braves next season. Just have to find out which position.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A-Z Reviews: D

After so little to talk about with the B's and C's, D delivers some interesting figures.

Kyle Davies
-Hiram, as I called him, was exactly what I love in young pitching. Velocity, a solid curve, and the youth on his side. However, what he lacked was...production. In the slightest. It was straight up horrible at times, including last year. Even Lance Cormier would occasionally have a nice week or two. Davies seemed to have a game in which he might turn the corner, only to suck horribly. Such was the case on May 22nd, when he dominated the Mets over eight innings and even hit a homer. The next game, eight runs in 4.1 ING to the Phillies. He then gave up just a run to the Cubs before five runs to the Marlins. Quality starts were isolated. So, the Braves made the choice to listen to deals and they got one in the form of Octavio Dotel from the Royals. Davies continued his inability to stay productive for just consecutive starts in the AL, but then spoke of how the Braves clubhouse was part of the problem for him.

2008 Outlook: Even in Kansas City, Davies is running out of time to make something of himself. He stayed healthy last year and pitched a MLB personal best 136 innings, but that meant he wasn't quite averaging five innings in his 28 starts, hardly anything to write home about. I wish him the best cause I've always liked him, but at a certain point, you need to produce.

Joey Devine
-The Braves simply want Joey Devine to fail. From the 2005 horrible failures to this year as he got jockeyed between Mississippi and Atlanta so many times, he'd be forgiven for wearing the wrong uniform, Devine has had a certain mystique about him. Great movement, closer material, and after 2005 failed, the Braves tried to go slower with him. Injuries nearly took an entire 2006 campaign from him, but in between all the call-ups, one thing was for sure. Devine had a great year. In 57 innings between Mississippi and Richmond, Devine racked up 78 strikeouts and walked 19. Only two people hit a homer off him. Used almost entirely as the closer (43 games finished out of 50 overall games), Devine logged 20 saves between the levels. In the majors, Devine's control was a problem (8 walks in 8.1 ING), but the strikeouts were there.

2008 Outlook: It's now or never for Joey D. He burned his final option this year. But after initially looking like they were trying to screw up the kid, the Braves took a more reasonable approach this year and the results were great. He may still go through some growing pains next year, but at least the star is still lit and there is some hope.

Matt Diaz
-For the longest time, Matt Diaz was a mystery to me. On one side, the guy could hit. On the other, players typically don't go searching for a shot for that long of a time and finally get one as they get closer to 30. So, I've accepted in a sense what Diaz is. This year, he set career highs in nearly every category, including a sweet 16 walks (w00t!). Also new highs was the .320/.368/.497 clip he posted. His defense in left is oddly loved by stats when I have only seen a crazy man. Maybe, in his insanity, his defense comes out. I dunno. I do know the platoon he was in with Willie Harris was an absolute joke over the final two months.

2008 Outlook: There is a growing contingent of Braves fans who want to see Diaz get his shot. In a sense, he's earned it. For two consecutive years, he found a wake to post a BABIP in the very high .300's. In 2006, it was .380. In 2007, it was .392. That certainly puts a damper on the "it was a fluke" charge. The worst thing you can do is underscore what Diaz did do because it was pretty solid. On the other hand, Diaz is hitting arbitration and the Braves have Brandon Jones, a guy with a solid future in this game. It's a tough call, but I think he'll be back, though Bobby still may not give him a starting gig.

Octavio Dotel
-Traded around the deadline for Kyle Davies, Dotel was a solid pickup...for about two weeks before Dotel did as Dotels do and got himself hurt again. In the past three seasons, Dotel has appeared in 62 games and pitched 55.1 ING. While with the Braves, his strikeout arm flourished. He gave up a few runs, but pitched very solidly with a FIP of 2.23. This after saving 11 with the Royals and putting up decent numbers there (though a high WHIP of 1.52 is nothing to write home about).

2008 Outlook: Dotel has an odd player's option for next season. He finished 25 games this year, good for a bonus of $600K on his 2007 salary of $5M. His player's option came with a base salary of $5.5M, plus the $600K, making the salary $6.1M. Oh, but the team can decline the option. Why not call it a mutual option then? I'm sure the Braves would be interested in bringing him back, but not at that salary.

Credit to Rain Delay for the Devine picture.

Joe Simpson = A Dumbass Who Is Also an Ass

From Lauren (aka RainIsBeautiful (aka BravesLove blog))...

Joe Simpson – What comes across as snark on TV/radio comes across as pure rudeness in person. He was taller than I expected (probably 6′2″ or taller), and has extraordinarily long, thin legs. The shorts didn’t help (they were several inches shorter than I’m used to seeing). Braves Love at Chopnation

Astounding. I am coming into a full complete loathing of all things Joe. Ya know, I have gotten to the point where I can stand Chip Carey...more. Ugh, the nightmares of that revelation.

Even FireJoeMorgan has gotten into the act. Almost makes ya want to register FireJoeSimpson, doesn't it?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Baseball America: Carolina League Top 20

Braves development is well recognized with the Carolina League best prospects of 2007.

1. Jordan Schafer, of, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves)

3. Elvis Andrus, ss, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves)
4. Max Ramirez, c, Kinston Indians

8. Tommy Hanson, rhp, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves)

18. Jairo Cuevas, rhp, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves)


Schafer has quietly climbed up the rankings from near-unknown to possible long-term center fielder in the span of, oh, a year. Schafer is a former Top 13 year-old in the country, according to Baseball America, who the Braves selected in the 3rd round of 2005. A former top prep pitcher who had a scholarship to Clemson, Schafer was quickly moved to the outfield by the Braves.

He struggled in the Gulf Coast League in 2005 and didn't show much more talent in 2006, but this year, the player who has been compared to Mark Kotsay, J.D. Drew, and Shawn Green absolutely took off. He reached double digits in 2B-3B-HR, stole 23 bases, and posted a clip of .312/.374/.513. By the way, he played most of the season in the Carolina League (after a month with Rome to get going) and the Carolina is a tough league to hit in, especially his home park in Myrtle Beach.

I didn't even rank Schafer when I did a top 30 prospects last year for chopnation. He is probably a year-and-a-half away (making a stopgap in center field all the more likely as opposed to a long-term contract). Before the season, Brandon Jones was the only major outfield prospect the Braves had. That much has changed.

Of the others ranked, of course Andrus is with the Rangers organization now and Max Ramirez was traded to the Indians for Wickmoo last year. Hanson's the guy I really like. In his first full professional year, he started at Rome and finished with Myrtle Beach. All told, his record of 5-9 is deceptive. Neither team hit for him. Solid ERA, but what grabs my attention is the 154 K's in 133 innings. He gave up a lot of homers, but if you can keep the K/9 rate high, you got a lot of good things going.

Jairo, or J.C., Cuevas is a bit of a surprise. I don't really see him one of the top 20 prospects in the Braves organization...not even sure he's in the top him making the top 20 for the league grabbed my attention. He has a good arm, probably projects to be a reliever though he started this year. Needs to do something about the walks (71 in 132 innings), though.

DOB: The AJC Idea Man

Braves, Glavine to dance again?

Make it happen. Not because Glavine’s an ace at the peak of his career, but because he’s still a very good middle-rotation-quality starter who’ll pitch like a No. 1 or No. 2 many nights, who’ll probably give you 200 innings and 34-45 starts like he has every season, and be a great influence on young pitchers such as lefties Jo-Jo Reyes and Chuck James, assuming they’re still here.

I am going to say this one time, DOB. Glavine wasn't that good last year. Not "that good" because he had a down year, but not "that good" because he simply wasn't. When the season opens, Glavine will be 42 and can't strike out anyone. His ERA isn't even indicative of how poorly he pitched, even with the shitty last three games. His DERA was 4.52. It has climbed the last four years, but this year, it skyrocketed. It was his second worst full season DERA of his career (go back to his first full season for his worst). He's not going to be a "very good middle-rotation-quality starter who’ll pitch like a No. 1 or No. 2 many nights." If he's lucky, he'll outperform Chuck James.

If you can get him for $9 mill, give or take a mill, in this market that’s a bargain. (Dream - No, no, no) And also - this is important - because it’s only a one-year commitment, it should permit the Braves to go hard after a trade for a younger quality starter, a guy like Oakland’s Dan Haren or Joe Blanton, who could be available only because perpetually tight-budgeted Oakland needs to reload with prospects and knows it might have to dump one of its quality young arms to get a few young players in return.

I'm going to snip his Haren/Blanton talk. This isn't like trading for Hudson, who was in the final year of his contract. It's going to take Reyes/B.Jones/KJ to even start talking about Haren. Blanton, you might be able to put Lillibridge in for KJ, but this is going to be a helluva price to pay. Not that the Braves *can't* pay it, but it's going to put them into an odd position. Your young pitching is essentially down to Chuck James and...uh, here hopes Tommy Hansen stays healthy and moves fast.

You would pay Glavine and either one of these guys less combined in 2008 and than you’d pay any of the few good free-agent pitchers on the market, and about $5-7 million or more less than you’d have to pay a Johan Santana in 2008 (not that he’s a Braves option; too rich for this payroll).

Imagine, if you will, a Braves rotation with Smoltz, Hudson, Haren (or Blanton), Glavine, and Hampton (if healthy, he has to be in it because of salary). If Hampton’s not healthy, then you go Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes or Jeff Bennett, or maybe even Manny Acosta (he’s going to work as a starter this winter, see if that role might fit him; Braves already know he can be a real good reliever).

Folks, you win the NL East with that rotation, regardless of who you get to replace Andruw (and we can cover that later, though I think Mike Cameron is a serious candidate, more so by the day. Randy Winn would also be a good option).

Shizzle my nizzle, I agree with DOB on Winn and I think he's been stealing from me. At Chopnation, I started a thread on CF Targets and I really like the idea of going after Winn, especially if the Giants pick up some of the remaining $16M+ salary over the next couple of years.

Oh, and one more obvious reason to bring back Glavine: It would be a great story for the Braves, who’d have Smoltz and Glavine back together for what could be Bobby Cox’s final season.

I know Glavine has detractors for things he said more than a decade ago, for his union leadership, and for going to the Mets as a free agent five years ago.

And I certainly respect those views. I really do.

But consider that there are going to be no better bargains (or ones requiring only one-year commitments) among pitching free agents than Glavine, who was 13-6 with a 3.88 ERA in his first 31 starts this season, before stumbling big-time at 0-2 with a 14.81 ERA in his last three starts.

Err, remember when I said I would mention his season one time. Okay, here is a second time. Truth is...his ERA should have been MUCH MUCH worse even before those three starts. And um, a 41 year-old absolutely sucking down the stretch isn't a sign, is it? Means nothing, right? AJC - Logic is secondary.

John Smoltz and Tim Hudson were 30-16 with a 3.15 ERA this season and combined for 430 innings. But of the eight others who started games for the Braves, only Chuck James (11-10, 161-1/3 innings) and Buddy Carlyle (8-7, 104 innings) had as many as five wins or 90 innings.

Yes, it was a bad year. Yes, Glavine will likely stay healthy. Yes, he'll probably pitch 180 or more innings. No, that doesn't mean he'll be a significant improvement.

Add Glavine and a Haren or Blanton (or a lesser-but-durable pitcher from elsewhere), and without spending a ton in 2008 you’ve transformed a rotation that went just 58-58 this season and pitched only 917 innings, with a 4.45 ERA that ranked 7th in the NL.

So shitty, yet it didn't rank that shitty compared to other teams in team ERA. Hmm...maybe their win-loss record should have been better if they had a better defense or Bob Wickfattyass wasn't closing?'s all on the pitchers for they play every position on the field.

The only NL rotations that produced fewer innings were the injury-riddled units with the Cardinals, Nationals and Marlins, who had the three worst starters’ ERAs in the league.

Fucking assholes. How dare they get dragged down. By the way, if you think Bobby has a quick hook with starters who aren't Cy Young contenders, raise your hand.

Glavine can’t file for free agency until after the World Series, like everyone else. And the Braves aren’t permitted to talk to him or other free agents, at least not officially, before then.

The Braves's CIA is on it, though.

But if the Braves aren’t ready with an offer in early November, as soon as its permitted, or if they low-ball Glavine by asking him to take $6-7 mill, then they have no one to blame but themselves and should expect no sympathy.

I agree, I would show no sympathy for them. On the other hand, I would respect Schuerholz for not being an idiot and handing over a lot of cash to a question mark. Would be a nice change.

If they don’t want him because they believe he doesn’t have enough left, well, then say it. But Bobby Cox has said repeatedly that Glavine has plenty left, and Smoltz has said he’s still as good as ever (I don’t buy that, but Smoltz knows a hell of a lot more about pitching than I do, so I’ll assume Glavine at least is still good).

The article goes on, but this is where I'll stop. When has Bobby Cox ever said, "well, he just doesn't have anything left." The guy was waxing positive on Redman. And Smoltzie sticking up for a best friend? Wowzors, imagine my shock. Later today, I've heard rumors the sun will set in the west, but I don't buy it. We'll see about that one.

Way to use critical analysis.

A-Z Reviews: C

Buddy Carlyle
-I was a big supporter of My Buddy getting his first real shot after 21 games in three seasons spaced over six years accounting for all of his major league experience. He started well. From his Braves debut on May 26th to my birthday on August 7th, Buddy was 7-3 with an ERA of 4.28 and a solid WHIP of 1.22. But as usual, the wheels come off a good story that involves my birthday. In his final eight games, seven of them starts, Buddy posted a 7.47 ERA, would be assuming if his last name was Boing. Batters posted a 1.027 OPS against him. It was ugly. I cried.

2008 Outlook: Buddy is what I like to call...not good. I'm marketing that. In one sense, he got his shot and prevailed by just simply sticking around. But he is not good enough to last. With the Braves not forced to make a decision with him (he has sometime before arbitration), I expect to see him stick around and battle for a spot next year, but likely will be cut.

Steve Colyer
-Colyer was a late favorite of Bobby's last spring training and after being a last minute cut, got his chance in mid-April. In seven games, however, the southpaw was able to record just eleven outs. That's not good even of a LOOGY. He was designated for assignment in early May.

2008 Outlook: A minor league contract or another league is in his future. Colyer is only a semi-known name to people like me because he took off in my OOTP game one time. Became the Mets closer and I routinely blasted him.

Lance Cormier
-When Cormier came out of nowhere to have a great spring and suddenly get a lot of support in the franchise, I was quite concerned because I knew the real Cormier. The real one is a lot of sucktitude. Injuries kept him out until June 3rd and this is how bad his first game was. In his second game, in which he gave up five runs in 3.2 ING, Cormier lowered his ERA to 15.26. He was back out of the picture until the trade of Kyle Davies brought him back in August. After a relief appearence, he sucked again as a starter. However, a decent run followed. In his next four starts, he posted a 3.24 ERA and hitters batted just .234 against them, though they made five of them count in the form of homers. After reverting back to Real Cormier (not Rheal Cormier), Cormier made his last appearance on September 15th.

2008 Outlook: Cormier is arbitration eligible and he's the exact type of pitcher you should never pay more than the minimum for. However, I expect him to receive unearned raise and bug me next year like he did this year.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A-Z Reviews: B

Kevin Barry
-It's nothing personal, Kev. I just hate you. Maybe it's that big bulbous head. Maybe it's your complete lack of stuff. Barry is the latest Brad Woodall, a decent AAA pitcher who occasionally gets shots. He logged two major league innings with the Braves this year and trust me, that was entirely too much. With Richmond, Barry was 5- with 4.14 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. Toward the end of the year, he was desiginated for assignment and as far as I can see, should be a minor league free agent this year.

2008 Outlook: Will be a swingman for a couple of AAA teams, but his time in the Braves organization is probably over and he will likely want to move on anyway.

Jeff Bennett
-The Braves called upon Bennett when in dire need of another Buddy Carlyle and he delievered much like Carlyle did. But unlike the Carlyle Effect, the season ended before the real crap could be shown. So, we are left with some good numbers over three games, two starts. Bennett was 2-1 with 14 K's in 13 innings and a 3.46 ERA. However, with Richmond, Bennett struck out just 45 in 86 innings. Elbow issues cost him 2006 and he signed with the Braves for 2007. All in all, Bennett is a nice story, but likely not a key contributor to anyone's pitching staff.

2008 Outlook: The Braves will likely bring him back and maybe throw him a bone as a fifth starter candidate, but Bennett's best chance at making next year's roster is as a long reliever. However, chances are good he will be in Richmond next year.

Blaine Boyer
-Boyer is two years removed from his solid showing in 2005 when he had some control problems, but also got batters out for what was then a dreadful bullpen. Injuries have sapped him two consecutive full seasons. He spent most of last year with Richmond, getting some starts, and not fairing too well. His ERA wasn't too horrible at 4.30, but his WHIP was extremely high at 1.72.

2008 Outlook: Boyer's chances of making next year's roster are slim right now. His control was off-the-charts terrible last year (50 walks in 73.1 ING). There is no doubt there is some potential in his right arm, but he needs to find the strikezone more frequently to take advantage of it. He seems to be well liked by the organization that drafted him out of Atlanta in the 2000 third round, but at 26, his time with his first professional organization could be coming to close if he doesn't re-establish himself.

A-Z Reviews: A

Time for to start the reviews of the 49 players who logged a game with the Braves this year. Some are already gone, some could be around for years.

Manny Acosta
-Manny was a bit of a surprise callup in mid August even after pacing the R-Braves in wins (nine) and saves (12). In 59.2 ING with Richmond, he walked 35, continuing a problem for him since he debuted in baseball in the Yankees organization in 2000. Nevertheless, Acosta got outs at the major league level. In 23.2 ING, he allowed just six earned runs (2.28 ERA) and struck out 22. Walks were again a problem (14), but he didn't give up many hits, leading to a solid WHIP of 1.14. He was a bit too lucky to get excited about and as long as the walks are high, his success is questionable. However, it was a solid 21 games for someone without a shred of major league experience.

2008 Outlook: He will turn 27 next May 1st so his prospect days are behind him. He will go as far as his control lets him. He seemed to get a lot of grounders and that is key whenever you walk batters because it means that you're missing low instead of leaving pitches high. Those seem to get hammered. Acosta is a long shot to continue to have success next year. He will probably make the roster, but not stick around.

Jose Ascanio
-Along with Joey D., Ascanio was on the shuttle between Mississippi and Atlanta for a good portion of the year. He made his major league debut on July 13th and over the next six days, appeared three times. Then, presumably after a demotion, he appeared in 2 games out of three in late July. Back to the minors, he got recalled in late August. At Mississippi, Ascanio was a force. In 44 games and pitching 78 innings, the 22 year-old struck out 71 and walked just 18. He saved ten and put up a solid 1.08 WHIP. He was finally getting the arm back that had him a hot prospect after 2004 before an injury in 2005 pretty much wiped out the next two seasons of being at his best. Unlike his teammate Acosta, Ascanio struggled some in the majors. He had a memorable loss on July 18th when the Braves failed to beat the Reds in 15 innings and got swept. He also got roughed up on a pair of occasions against the Mets and Marlins.

2008 Outlook: I feel as if Ascanio will be more productive than Acosta. With Devine, I feel Ascanio can be a long-term arm with a lot of success if he can stay healthy. Could start the year with Richmond next year because of a numbers crunch, but I expect him to log 50 or so innings with the big league club. Last year, I felt good about Moylan and that turned out well. Not saying Ascanio will have such a great year, but don't be surprised if he puts up a very solid 2008.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Just when I thought I was done...

The AJC has to pull me back. Here's a fun dumbass bit from Jeff Schultz.

10: Say this for Tom Glavine: When he ends a relationship, he takes a statistical wrecking a ball to that sucker.

9: Tommy G’s final two starts with the Braves came in the 2002 playoffs: He lost both, allowing 13 earned runs on 17 hits and seven walks in 7 2/3 innings (ERA: 15.26). Glavine’s final three starts with the New York Mets: 0-2, 17 earned runs (including four home runs) on 25 hits in 10 1/3 innings (ERA: 14.81). So much for the goal of leaving them wanting more.

8: OK, that said, yes, Glavine would still be an asset to the Braves. Putting aside all of the warm-and-fuzziness of Glavine retiring as a Brave, we’re not about an objective of him being a staff ace. Given what we all saw this season, is there really a belief that he’s not good enough to be a No. 3 or possibly 4 starter in this rotation for one season? He threw 200 1/3 innings this season. His arm was dead at the end. But 200 1/3 innings would’ve ranked third on the Braves’ staff, right behind John Smoltz (205 2/3), and way ahead of Chuck James (161 1/3). What would that have meant for the rotation? And the bullpen? And playoff chances?

Jeff spends two paragraphs ripping Glavine's shitty final starts for the only two teams he has played for, then speaks of him being an asset. Now, I don't like Chuck James that much and Glavine definitely pitched better than James, but Glavine's like 60 years old by now (yay, 5 year contract!) and showed that he had nothing toward mid-September and, of course, the end of September.

Glavine won't come cheap either. It's not like he's on the street with a sign, "will throw six inches off the plate for food." James will be cheap next year. Advantage = southern boy. Tom Glavine has a player's option sitting out there for $13M.

Yeah, good job on that one, Omar Minaya.

He's not a $13M pitcher. Hell, I wouldn't give $6.5M for him. And it's a major suspension of belief to come to the conclusion that he'll accept much less than eight figures. Move on, people. Move the hell on.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Uh oh, it's Terence...

Terence Moore and I have a love-hate relationship.

To specify, I hate himself so much that I love when he comes out with such stupidity. I don't like Dave O'Brien and Mark Bowman annoys me, but they can't help being who they are. I feel Moore can...but chooses to not.

Braves make big mistake letting Andruw go

Oh, goody. Off to a great start. The Braves latest big mistake was letting the .220-hitting, rapidly aging Andruw Jones go. Hmm...maybe he likes the name of my blog, too.

Bad move.

Terrible move.

Actually, this is an atrocious move for the Braves, because manager Bobby Cox had it right for eternity when he said of Andruw Jones, who ranks 1a, 1b or 1c among baseball’s center fielders for the ages, “He has RBIs in his glove.”

Oh, the suspense. Was it bad or terrible? No, it was atrocious! I could have deleted bad and terrible, but I'm going for suspense!

It didn’t matter that Jones often looked ridiculous for long stretches after swinging and missing at pitches in search of reaching the farthest dark hole. Who cared that his batting average spent two seasons going south instead of north? No, he wasn’t much in the clutch this year, and yes, his agent is Scott Boras, the bogeyman for teams wishing to sign one of Boras’ clients below the amount of the national debt.

Who cares? Um, the Braves maybe? Jeez, Terrence, I don't know. By the way, whatever you define clutch by (I call it luck, but whatever), Andruw's career RISP is .254/.360/.444. This year? .231/.360/.439. A big jump in AVG, but a .005 point jump in SLG and OPS. No, he wasn’t much in the clutch this year

And, yes, the Braves can ease some of the post-Jones trauma with the signing of free agent Torii Hunter, the former center fielder and slugger for the Minnesota Twins. He also has a magic glove, and even though he can’t slug with Jones, he is more consistent at the plate with his ability to sustain hitting streaks.

Yes, Terence. The value of a player is not how frequently he gets on base, but whether or not he is "consistent" at "sustaining" streaks in which he gets one hit or more in a game. At value here with all the information on players that readily available is whether or not he can get a single in any amount of consecutive games. Hunter is not even that much more of a AVG hitter. He has batted .271 over his career, a wonderful eight points better than Andruw. Jeez.

That said, with the new folks at Liberty Media claiming they are willing to increase the payroll, the Braves’ Designated Geniuses should have discovered ways to acquire much-needed starting pitching while keeping Jones. In fact, Jones was part of the solution regarding that starting pitching. He is the hidden reason the Braves produced Cy Glavine, Cy Smoltz and Cy Maddux, along with all of those consecutive years of team ERAs that ranked first or second in baseball. He caught everything. He threw out everybody. He made the spectacular routine. He did so through an 11th year with the Braves that will produce a 10th Gold Glove, but management will shove Jones out the door by allowing him to become a free agent while yawning.

Well, mostly yawning. As a lifetime Braves player who contributed heavily to the franchise’s record 14 consecutive division titles, Braves officials will continue to say nice things about Jones as they wave good-bye. Still, the bottom line remains: He’s gone, and he’s only 30, and history comes to mind. Not in a good way, especially if the baseball gods wish to spank the Braves for their short-sightedness.

On one hand, Moore has a point. Andruw's defense was very helpful to the pitching success the Braves reached. Was he the hidden reason? No, but in a sense, again, his defense is underscored.

Andruw's RAA 1998-2007

Since Andruw's obvious lost step between 2003 and 2004, the Braves have only won one ERA title and have not had one Cy Young winner.

Here's Moore's problem. He doesn't account for that lost step. He also doesn't understand a lot about the relationship between defense and pitching. Yes, Andruw helps his pitching. His pitching also helps him out. His greatest numbers came before Glavine and Maddux left town. So, in essence, they were also the hidden reason Andruw looked so great. Their control led to balls he, from CF, could get a better read on because he was positioned correctly and they were hitting their spots.

Again, Andruw made them look better and he will be missed, but at the beginning of this column, Moore quoted Bobby. "He has RBIs in his glove." Yes, and they are measured by RAA. Listen, Andruw can't help the fact he gets little help from his corner outfielders and his pitchers and that does hurt him defensively and yes, he's still an incredible guy out there.

But at no time in Moore's column does he speak of what Andruw does at the plate in a positive manner except to say he outslugs Torii Hunter's career IsoSLG of .192. So, we're essentially talking about Andruw's defense and I'm here to tell's great, but it ain't that great. I spent all season talking about what Andruw leaving will bring. I accept it, though, because this game, while it tends to ignore defense too many times in the modern age, is still a game played with a bat in addition to the glove. And while Andruw is a good hitter if you accept that he simply had a collassal failure of a year, Andruw's still just a guy with an adjusted OPS that is 15% better than the average. He is not, in no way, shape, or form a $15M type player.

Moore continues...though, truly, this next part is just Moore's personal masturbatory material.

Consider 1966. That was the first year Frank Robinson played for the Baltimore Orioles, and it was the first year of David Justice’s life.

Let’s start with Robinson, the undisputed star of the Cincinnati Reds for nearly a decade. He was traded to the Orioles for nothing worth mentioning before that 1966 season, because Reds owner Bill DeWitt said Robinson was “an old 30.” All that a creaky Robinson did in his first season with the Orioles was take the American League’s Triple Crown Award, lead them to their first world championship and grab World Series MVP honors. He eventually pushed the Orioles to three more pennants and another world championship (over the Reds), and then trotted to Cooperstown from there.

As for Justice, the batting hero of the Atlanta Braves’ only world championship in 1995, he suffered a shoulder injury early during that next season, and then he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians before the following year for nothing worth mentioning.

He was …

That’s right, 30.

Justice immediately slugged the Indians to their second World Series in three years. He later joined the New York Yankees, where he became the MVP of the AL championship series before helping to lead the pinstripe bunch to another world championship. When he ended his career with a playoff trip with the Oakland A’s, he had reached the playoffs six times after his trade from the Braves. He also retired as the all-time postseason leader in games played, at bats, extra-base hits, runs, hits, total bases, walks and RBIs.

This isn’t to say Jones will become Robinson or even Justice during his post-Braves career.

This is to say why even take the chance?

Why? Because David Justice allowed the Braves to keep Glavine and Maddux. Moore's love for David Justice is on par with Joe Morgan's dreamy eyes for Gary Sheffield. According to Morgan, the Tigers problems has nothing to do with their pitching not being healthy as an effective as it was in 2006. It was all Sheffield. Well, Moore's little obsession with Justice is an every column add-in.

Justice was an asshole. He wasn't traded because he was, but he was an asshole. He was also expensive and coming off an injury - and beginning to look injury-prone. In his career, he had played in 150 games once. The Braves needed to find money somewhere to keep the pitching together. They were loaded at the time with outfield prospects, too, including Andruw Jones. Yes, Justice had some great time in the AL. The DH was keeping him healthy, too.

The implication that Justice got his teams to the playoffs is laughable. He played on some damn good teams after his trade. But he didn't make his teams that much better.

Jones will make his team better, I believe. His defense will help out. But Andruw is not on his way out cause he's 30. He's on his way out because he doesn't provide nearly enough bang for the Braves buck. He's out because he has more trouble the past two seasons than ever with injuries.

Andruw's gone because it's best for the Braves.

Cry, Terence, cry.

I do like how you closed comments because you were being made a fool of.