Monday, December 31, 2007

More HOF Talk

Not doing anything for New Years except for drinking random things, watching West Wing, and reading baseball stuff. Joe Sheehan from Baseball Prospectus and often appearances on ESPNews released his HOF ballot, if he had one.

He follows my Blyleven and Raines picks and adds, "however, Raines produced value for his teams, so much so that he’s not only a deserving Hall of Famer, but like Blyleven, one who raises the standards for entry." I like that one. I think HOF voters don't look at that enough. The Hall should be tough as hell to get in. We should make it that and our voting is the way to do that.

I don't agree with Gossage or McGwire, moreso McGwire than Gossage. I just can't make myself vote for that roided up freak.

The Murph got a great line, though. "If you can’t stand out among a group of Hall of Fame nominees, it is likely that neither you nor the other guys are Hall of Famers."

Couple links for your New Years Eve

Ran into a few links via google. One old, one newer. First, the old one.

Some blog called Variables Don't; Constants Aren't came out with the top ten pitching prospects in the Braves' system. This was their list.

1. joey devine, RHRP
2. kris medlen, RHRP - august 2008
3. jamie richmond, RHSP - mid 2009
4. tommy hanson, RHSP - late 2009
5. anthony lerew, RHSP
6. jo-jo reyes, LHSP - late 2008
7* cole rohrbough, LHSP - 2010
8* jose ortegano, RHSP - 2012
9* edgar osuna, RHSP - 2012
10.jose ascanio, RHRP

Embarrassing. Kids, if you don't know the minor leagues at all, don't try to judge a system you don't even know follow. Granted, when this person made the list, Jair Jurrjens was not in the system, but where is Jeff Locke? Steve Evarts? Julio Teheran? Oh, and the asterisks are the blogger's way of saying "these guys don't belong on the lists, but I didn't have any better options.

Rohrbourgh and Ortegano are routinely on top ten lists for the entire organization. Sensibly, that means they should be in the top five of a pitchers-only list. My list, which I hope to get started this week (sorry!), has Rohrbourgh (3) and Ortegano (8) in the top ten pitchers mentioned on the list and I only have Ortegano so low because he hasn't got into full season ball just yet.


Seriously, wtf mates?

Elsewhere, the Richmond Times-Dispatch had this random article on Yunel Escobar. Maybe "Welcome to the Jungle" should play when he bats.

Okay, bye.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Slow week, random links

The week between Christmas and New Years is dead time for most of the country, baseball included. Even if you work, you aren't really "there," ya know? I only worked two days last week and I am not afraid to say I should have been paid for maybe a half-day. Maybe.

-Bobby Cox got some love from Jeff Passan's New Years Resolutions article found here.

I resolve to get ejected for all the right reasons, which include balls and strikes, bad calls on the bases, close plays at the plate, umpires breathing wrong, butterflies flapping their wings, Joe Morgan mispronouncing a name, a keyboard being used somewhere in America and photosynthesis occurring.

-I can talk all day about Cox's abilities as a manager in the game, but one thing I respect about him is that he fights for his players moreso than any other manager I have ever seen. He's not behind his players so much as they are holding him back. Also, check out the Tommy Lasorda link. Kinda racey. Don't worry, Tommy. This Tommy enjoys some girl-on-girl porn, too.

-Speaking of odd things, Oscar Villarreal got a two-year deal with an option for 2010 from the 'Stros. $2.85M. I guess it's not a terrible signing, but Villy really isn't good enough to deserve more than a one-year deal and an option. You can always do better than Villy and you never want to be tied down to him. He's like the girl you settle with because you gotta be with someone, ya know.

-Mark Bowman slurped on the Murph for awhile. Cox, John Schuerholz, and Pete Van Weiren all guest-star in this Made-For-Hallmark tale about a good guy who could hit homers and for some reason, that wasn't enough for the Hall. Fact is...the Hall of Fame is for the best of the best of the best. Murphy is not one of those guys.

-Bowman delegated a duty to some random person, who wrote up the Braves Year In Review. Oddly, Peterson Orr didn't even get mentioned.

-The Chop Chick (she's a man, baby!) put together a Farm Report for the AJC. The article is...hard to read. That's an understatement. I have brain leakage after reading about Boyer and Devine.

-Boyer and Devine would have been a great title of an 80's show.

-Finally, I missed this, but on December 17th, the Braves signed Jorge Campillo to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Campillo is 29 and a veteran of eight major league games with one start. When he came out of the Mexico League three years ago, he was one of their best pitchers. Decent, not great, minor league numbers. Horrible, or horrid, major league numbers. Long shot, but I like these type of players. Maybe McDowell can get him going.

Happy New Year, children.

Monday, December 24, 2007

My HOF Ballot

I got to thinking...why bitch about who the BBWAA votes for when I don't even give my vote on the matter? Well, here it is. According to the HOF's rules, "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." You can vote up to ten players, but do not have to vote for more than one.

First Year Options
Brady Anderson
Rod Beck
Shawon Dunston
Chuck Finley
Travis Fryman
David Justice
Chuck Knoblauch
Robb Nen
Tim Raines
Jose Rijo
Todd Stottlemyre

Back Again
Harold Baines
Bert Blyleven
Dave Concepcion
Andre Dawson
Rich Gossage
Tommy John
Don Mattingly
Mark McGwire
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Dave Parker
Jim Rice
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell

Of the newbies, only Tim Raines really stands out. He was one of the best leadoff men in the game when he played, but because he played during Rickey Henderson's time, Raines never quite received the press. His adjusted OPS+ was 123. His most comparable players according to BR include five current HOFers (and one very comparable reference to Lou Brock). On numbers alone, he's in as far as I'm concerned.

But then, he is an admitted cocaine user who used to slide on his stomach because he didn't want to bust the cocaine veils he kept his back pocket. Integrity clause speaks up.

The players who are back again are definitely more interesting. Starting with Harold Baines. Here is where electing undeserving players haunts you. Tony Perez, who was elected in 2000, has a quite similar career to Baines. Perez has the postseason numbers and played a "real" position. Hmmm, first base. Nevertheless, if you are willing to vote for Perez, you are willing to vote for Baines.

Bert Blyleven was a great pitcher and because he pitched in markets that weren't big on baseball, he is still out of the HOF. Get him in.

Davey C sucks, Joe.

Andre Dawson had power and speed and a great arm. Unfortunately, he lacks the career numbers nor was he that great of a player.

Rich Gossage was a good player. However, I am a bit on the fence about getting this guy into the Hall. Compared to his peers, his numbers aren't that incredible. But the Bruce Sutter decision hurts any argument here.

Tommy John and Don Mattingly are neither deserving, nor that interesting to keep around. But the Yankee writers don't agree.

Mark McGwire. Depends on whether or not you penalize on integrity.

I hate Jack Morris because of one game he pitched in 1991. Luckily, his adjusted ERA+ is not good enough to warrant an argument here between my bias and my knowledge.

Dale Murphy. Good player, one of the best of the 80's offensively, but just not a player with enough good baseball qualities and stats to get elected.

Dave Parker is almost in the same department with Baines. If you vote for Perez and Baines, don't you vote for Parker?

Yet again, Jim Rice is back and with a shot. He was incredible over a six year period covering 1975-80. However, after 1980, Rice did have four years where he was 30% or better than the average player. Most comparable player is HOF Orlando Cepada. I think I gotta keep him around.

Lee Smith. I once had a discussion on Smith in which I was called a racist. I don't mind closers going to the HOF, but I want them to be dominating. Smith's WHIP of 1.26 is good, but not dominating.

Alan Trammell has very good numbers for a shortstop, but I think he's a bit under Barry Larkin and I'm still not sure Larkin is a HOFer. HOF list?

1. Blyleven
2. Rice
3. Raines

I am going to give Raines a little credit for one, admitting to his usage, and two, cleaning himself up. I am going to keep Baines and Parker out because one wrong (Perez) does not make a right.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Let's Meet (Again)...Javy Lopez!

OMG! It's Javy! Look at that butt! That's a tight butt.


Anyway, in case you were living under a rock with Jimmy Hoffa (tell the bitch he still owes $20 on the Cowboys/Giants game), Javier Torres Lopez signed with the Braves on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training that was essentially the same kind of deals the Braves have given Julio Franco in the past. Here's an invite but you made the team before you even came to spring training. Shhh, it's a secret.

Javy spent last year sitting on his ass. Well, no, he was working out. Getting slender! Pilates, I bet. Maybe he has an eating disorder. Or maybe the steroids were wearing off. Who knows these things?

Javy had gone to the Rockies spring training, but they saw all they needed of their young one, Chris Ianetta. I think the spelling is right cause I ain't looking it up. They cut Javy, who was not so much in demand. Fancy that. What a fall from grace.

In 2003, Javy's last season with the Braves, he was voted fifth in the MVP running for one of the best offenses the Braves have ever had. He would have ranked in the top five in OPS had he had enough at-bats. He received a start at catcher for the All-Star game and his 43 homers are the best total by a catcher in franchise history.

He parlayed this into a three-year deal with the Orioles and posted a solid 127 OPS+ in his first year with the O's, but slumped the following year to 15 homers with injuries. The Orioles made a move for Ramon Hernandez and Javy spent most of his 2006 time with the Orioles as their DH. After a trade to the Red Sox, he was horrible as he tried to help them replace Jason Varitek, who had been hurt.

There was once a time where Javy was a poor man's Mike Piazza in the NL. But the shelf life of catchers is small and Javy is now in a position where he could backup the current franchise catcher for the Braves, Brian McCann. The chances are good provided he stays healthy because right now his competition is not much to write home about.

Corky Miller did a solid job, but has always and will always be a fringe player. Clint Sammons could use more time and Brayan Pena is a horrible defensive catcher.

Then again, so is Javy. He was never that good of a catcher and knee injuries really took him down. His steroid years saw him gain a little bounce back (kinda expect that), but once he got his contract and MLB testing became more prevalent, we saw his catching detoriate once again. Can't blame the O's for going for a catcher who can actually catch.

Now, where he is now is unknown. He could be a better defensive catcher simply because he is off the roids and has had a year to build up natural strength and agility. However, I don't expect much.

Glavine Lovefest!

Now the AJC just loves themselves some Glavmeat.

Family ties brought Glavine back to Atlanta

What the frick did Alex P. Keaton have to do with Glavine? Well, they answer that in the first paragraph.

During his five years in New York with the Mets, Tom Glavine stayed up late after games, watched Tivo until 3 or 4 a.m. and slept until noon.

So, essentially, Glavine was watching a lot of Family Ties while he was a Met. Something about Keaton's Reagan love brought him back to the conservative Georgia. And Glav, you were once from Massachusetts. The shame.

The one-year, $8 million contract he signed with the Braves last month was $5 million less than the Mets' offer. It was a financial sacrifice Glavine was glad to make.

The Mets didn't make an offer, Carroll Rogers. They were on the hook to pay Glavine $13 million anyway. Glavine DECLINED an option and received a $3M buyout. So, really, Glavine will make $11 million next year, Carebear. Seriously, I hate when they let the nonbaseball people write for the AJC. Though, Terrence ain't much better, I guess.

I am in the Christmas spirit.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let's Meet...Joe Borchard!

Joe Borowski seems to have JoBo to himself, but maybe we can this guy Chard. I like that. Sounds like a speed metal band. Tonight at the Civic Center, CHARD!!!!!

Chard just turned 29 around Thanksgiving this year and has been in professional ball since he was the 12th overall selection of 2000. For funsies, the 15th overall selection was Chase Utley. Adam Wainwright and Scott Thorman were 29th and 30th. The ChiSox gave him $5.3 million in a signing bonus so that Chard would give up football (he was Stanford's QB) and Chard would finish 2000 with 27 games at three different levels and batted .311/.388/.456.

After an .885 OPS the following season at AA, Chard dealt with injuries while playing AAA ball in 2002, but still hit .272/.345/.498 and made his major league debut. Getting into his first game on September 2nd against the Blue Jays, Chard hit a two-run homer in his second at-bat. In 37 trips to the plate, however, he struck out 14 times. This would continue. He slumped to a .695 OPS the following season at AAA and his struggles continued through another cup of coffee at the end of the year.

In 2004, Chard righted the ship and hit .266/.332/.495 before getting his first real shot at the majors. His struggles continued to the tune of .174/.249/.338 over about 200 at-bats. After another season at AAA and a small cup of coffee in 2005, Chard failed to make the ChiSox team out of spring training in '06 and was traded to the Mariners because he was out of options. He lasted about a month in Seattle before the Marlins picked him up off waivers.

And that is where Chard has been for the bulk of the last two seasons. After some promise in 2006 with a .230/.322/.400 year after the Marlins got him, Chard was horrible last year, hitting .196/.287/.313 and getting demoted to AAA.

Ultimately, Chard's biggest problem is contact. His K rate in his three years that he batted the most:

2004: 28%
2006: 29%
2007: 34%

When you are missing so much, you won't last long in the majors. However, this was Chard's biggest problem in the minors too so the upside here is minimal.

Chard could have been compared to Jeff Francoeur at one time. Chard walked more, Francoeur made more contact, but both players were rich in natural talent. Now Chard has an opportunity at the current moment to make the most of his portential. After a minor league deal and a spring training invite, Chard joins a good situation for him. He will have to show he can play center, but the Braves have a huge hole there. If Chard can somehow lesson the K's, made more contact, and play some defense, he may get another chance.

Don't count on it, though.

Another week in...

-The Mitchell Report still garners some attention. The House is planning more hearings and reporters are stealing my shtick. Gene Sapakoff of the The Post and Courier had this to say about the Braves.

Base On Balls: The Atlanta Braves. They received a free pass, with no current organization members named. But think of the Mitchell Report as a highway patrolman. Not every speeder on I-26 gets stopped, just the ones who zoom by active radar guns. Braves fans should be glad baseball's radar gun was pointed at the New York Mets clubhouse and not the one at 755 Hank Aaron Drive.

-As I said in my previous post, the lack of proof on the current Braves may have more to do with their location than anything.

-On the other side, a player not mentioned in the Mitchell Report suddenly got a deal after it. Javy Lopez, who we all suspected, signed a minor league deal with the Braves with an invitation to camp. And man, Marky Bowman skates around the suspected steroid usage, too.

The initial glance at the current Lopez could cause some to feel like they've ventured into the past. Gone is that bulky, muscular frame that he carried during his final years in Atlanta.

It has been replaced by that slender, athletic build that he possessed when he first introduced himself to Braves fans nearly 15 years ago.

-Gee Marky, I wonder why. You mean now that he isn't doing steroids, he suddenly looks more like a man and not like he was chisled out of granite? Wowzors, that's a new one there. How come writers have to do this? "Oh, he looks more slender and athletic than he did." That happens when you depend on more natural ways of playing a game that used to have a 35 years-of-age ceiling.

-A couple of former Braves caught on with new teams. Ron Mahay picked up $8 million over the next two seasons from the Royals. This one did not make a whole lot of sense, I gotta say. A one year deal for a reliever when you benefit more with trading him is sensible, but the Royals aren't going to be a frontrunner this year. Grabbing Mahay at that salary and committment is a bit much, Dayton. Elsewhere, The Supreme Nacho Burrito signed with Houston. Paronto never got a second chance in Atlanta after his demotion, which probably says something about his attitude.

-The Braves also picked up OF Joe Borchard on a minor league deal with an invite. I like this despite Borchard hitting .205/.284/.352 over 301 major league games. Always give a former major prospect under the age of 30 a chance if you are investing so little.

-Mark Teixeira had knee surgery. Nothing to see here.

-Finally,'s Jon Weisman went over the best staffs in the NL and placed the Braves fourth behind the D'Backs, Dodgers, and Brewers.

• Above-average (6 points): John Smoltz, Tim Hudson
• Average to above-average (4): Tom Glavine, Chuck James
• Mystery (1): Mike Hampton
• Up-and-coming (2): Jair Jurrjens, Jo-Jo Reyes
• Below-average (0): Dan Smith, Jeff Bennett

Comment: Two keys to Atlanta's rotation, Smoltz and prodigal son Glavine, are each more than 40 years old, and Hampton hasn't pitched in a regular season game in more than two seasons. Jurrjens and Reyes are up-and-coming but unproven. And yet, as you'll see, this group qualifies as the best group of starters in the NL East.

-I'd say it's a fairly good study. I give him a lot of credit for not overranking Glavine and really lumping him with James, which makes sense. I still think we need a pitcher, but there is some depth here and that is a plus. Weisman ranks the rest of the NL East as such: Mets (8th), Phillies (10th), Marlins (15th), Nats (16th), I think the Mets and Phillies could both be pushed up 2-3 spots.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Busy Week, eh?

-Well, I am back. The Mitchell Report was released to wall-to-wall coverage by ESPN, but it has been less than satisfying. On one end, the sheer randomness of players mentioned (big stars, bench players) is kind of scary, but we expected that, right? What bothers me is that the players do have a legitimate beef to be concerned about the amount of evidence cited. However, this was not a criminal investigation, but a view at the usage of steriods and HGH in baseball. In that, it was probably fairly successful. One player cited, Andy Pettitte, has admitted to usage. For two days.

“If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize.”

If? Um, Andy, IT _SO_ WAS! While I think HGH is way overblown as an effective performance enhancer, your usage is still clearly wrong. For a fun bit, check out Pettitte's talking up God, as reported by Fire Joe Morgan via BeliefNet, here.

-Thankfully, no current Braves (*ahem* Chipper?) made the list, but twelve former Braves did. You have to take this with a grain of salt, however, because the Mitchell Report's star witnessess both worked around the New York players more than any others so if you were a roided up freak not calling New York home, you were a bit more safe. The former Braves to make the report are: P' Paul Byrd, Darren Holmes, Kent Mercker, Denny Neagle, John Rocker, and Mike Stanton; C Todd Pratt, 1B's Ken Caminiti, Matt Franco, and Wally Joyner, and OF's David Justice and Gary Sheffield. Byrd, Holmes, and Sheff were all apparently using or at least purchasing drugs during their time as Braves. No Marcus Giles, Javy Lopez, or Jesse Garcia, but again - they didn't ask the Braves clubhouse guy.

-Justice did add to his dickdom. I should patent that word. When approached about his own steriod usage, Justice named names as if he was about to get killed. He still gets reported and now, his names are reported too. In the 20's, he would be sleeping with the fishies by now.

-The voice of clarity is Jeff Francoeur. He essentially read and thought about the Mitchell Report for a day and then went to play golf because it didn't mention him. Such a needy bastard.

-Other stuff happened this week. I have a weak source to comment on here, but a livejournal post here reports two things of interest. One, the Braves might be seeking Damian Miller, a perfect backup catcher. Good defender and has some pop. Would make for a great backup, but with a few teams still looking for a starter behind the plate, he will be looking for starting time until that is cleared up. Also brought up was the rumor that the Braves might be interested in Steve Finley. God, I just threw up in my mouth.

-Willie Harris and Peterson Orr are Nats Orr is getting closer to Canada and signed with a former Canadian team so you know he's psyched, but Harris was less thrilled of leaving Atlanta. I love how the article implies that Harris "tailed off?" because of less playing time. Dumbass homer Willie articles.

-Finally, DOB is back to report that the Braves are quite interested in former Rockies closer, Brian Fuentes. However, he is due at least $4.5M in arbitration, his final year of arbitration, and the Rockies have no need to trade Fuentes, when makes his package tough to benefit the Braves.

-Um. Merry last week before Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Let's Meet...Will Ohman!


The Ohman!

Willy Oh!

Whatever you want to call him, say hi to Will Ohman. A veteran of 220 major league games, Ohman has been a steady part of the Chicago Cubs pen, especially over the last three seasons. He is a stereotypical LOOGY, which means that if he is used correctly, he could be an asset. If Bobby Cox decides to turn him into a one-inning pitcher who is scheduled to face two lefties and a righty, we could be in for some trouble.

After originally being pushed to the majors early in his career in 2000 and 2001, Ohman disappeared from baseball for two years, likely because of injury, before resurfacing in 2004, where he pitched in 45 games for Iowa. The following season, he established himself as a factor in the Cubbie pen and spent the majority of the last three years in the majors. His best season remains 2005, where he posted a career-best 151 adjusted OPS. Over the last two seasons, he has simply been good enough to not be a weakness.

Most of his troubles have stemmed from Wrigley Field. Over his career, he has a horrid 6.63 ERA at home while posting brilliant numbers (2.53 ERA) at home. He has looked pretty great at Turner Field, if you are curious.

For a base salary of $1.6M this year, Ohman might be a bargain compared to the contracts other LOOGY's like J.C. Romero are getting. He replaces Ron Mahay and with Royce Ring, should provide the Braves enough pitching to get outs consistently. If Mike Gonzalez provides anything resembling his prior injury-self, the lefthand side of the Braves pen could be a beast, a heck of an advantage considering the Phillies lefthand terror of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

(kudos to the Cubs blog, Crawly's Cub Kingdom for the pic. Check the blog out. His description for Infante and Ohman...garbage. Hopefully, he's wrong.)

Let's Meet...Omar Infante

Omar Infante was acquired in a three-player deal that included Jose Ascanio going to the Cubs and Will Ohman coming over to the Braves. Infante is essentially your average utility infielder who the more he sticks around, the more money he makes that he doesn't actually deserve to make.

Infante has been in the bigs since he was 20 and six years later, not much has changed about what Infante brings to the field. His AVG is about a dozen points under the average, walks are nonexistent, and he has a bit of pop but nothing that outstanding. In 2004, he got into most of the Tigers games at second, third, and short. He even posted a league average OPS with the help of 16 jacks. However, in his last three years, he has seen his time decrease and his numbers justify that. His best adjusted OPS over the last three seasons is 90, or 10% below the league average.

After the last six years with the Tigers, Infante was part of the trade that sent Jacque Jones to the Tigers last month from the Cubs. He was supposed to play the same role with the Cubs that he had played with the Tigers in the recent years. The 25th man who can play 2B/SS/3B/OF for you.

Infante made $1.3M last year, which...really makes no sense. He will make probably $1.5M in arbitration, which might force the Braves hand to just non-tender him. While Infante is probably better than Chris Woodward, it just doesn't make much sense to keep him around for that kind of cash.

Winter Meetings and Such

-Well, I would have updated yesterday but I had a date. Yes, it's actually possible.

-Anywho, the Braves had a slightly busy week. They traded a young arm for two players, DFA'd half of their starting LF platoon, released a shitty player, lost another shitty player in the Rule 5 draft, and announced who will be making sure our kids is learning next year. Let's get to it.

-First, the trade. Jose Ascanio, a guy I really liked, was traded to the Cubs for Will Ohman and Omar Infante. The latter was picked up in the Jacque Jones deal last month so his time as a Cubbie was pretty short. I will go more into each player in my meet and greets over the next day or so, but suffice it to say I am indifferent. Ohman can get lefties out, important when facing the Phillies, but you also lose a young power arm.

-To make room for the players acquired, Willie Harris joined Peterson Orr and Lance Cormier on the DFA'd list. Unlike Orr and Cormier, Harris could still possibly stick in the organization, but here is hoping the Braves can find someone willing to pass along a high-reward prospect our way. By the way, Cormier was the shitty player released spoke of earlier. The Braves decided to not even attempt to keep him around.

-The Rule 5 draft passed with the tragic loss of Sergio Valenzuela to the Reds. Why the Reds felt it incumbant on themselves to pick up Valenzuela is beyond me. In four years stateside, Valenzuela had yet to make it out of A-ball, though he was on the Richmond roster (probably to protect him from the AAA and AA portions of the Rule 5 draft). He has not pitched often in four years, but has pretty well sucked either way. Last year, he pitched for both Rome and Myrtle Beach and posted a 7.00 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP. The Reds pissed away $50K they could have given me.

-The Braves have announced their 2008 coaching staffs for the minors. Chris Chambliss returns to the organization as the R-Braves hitting coach. The rest of the R-Braves staff remains the same. Crazy ass Rocket Wheeler is back with Mississippi and the M-Braves and Pelicans staff remain the same. Rome's staff was bolstered with promotions from Danville. Carlos Mendez, a former Braves farmhand, joins the Danville coaching staff as a hitting coach. Danville also includes Derrick Lewis, another former Braves farmhand who was GCL's pitching coach last year. Lewis last played in the Braves organization in 2003.

-A couple of former Braves joined new organizations. The lesser known one, Jose Capellan, was traded by the Tigers to the Rockies for Denny Bautista in your typical "I got a great arm who doesn't get it and you do too. Let's swap~!" It was not that long ago that Cappy was running neck-and-neck with the Andy Marte's of the world as top dog in the Braves organization. But he is already in his third organization since those Brave days.

-The other more noticable former Brave to find a new employer is Andruw Jones. Did you hear he signed with the Dodgers...or, the Braves West. In recent years, they have targetted Jason Schmidt, Rudy Seanez, Rafael Furcal, Wilson Betemit, and even Roberto Boom-Boom Hernandez. Now they add Andruw, though for a nice paycheck of $36M over the next two years, hardly the 5-7 years Scott Boras wanted. Andruw is paired with Furcal and gives the Dodgers some legitimate power for a team that finished near the bottom in the NL in homers and SLG. I actually think this is a good deal for the Dodgers. J.C. believes Andruw was worth $40M for the next two seasons and I have stated that he is clearly better than Torri Hunter, who got the big deal. Win, win.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

2006 Top 30 Prospects Rundown Part 3

Here is the final ten of last year's top 30 prospects. Expect this year's top thirty to begin within a few days over at

10. Jamie Richmond – Right-Hand Pitcher – Age: 21…Here is one of the best, but not well-known stats of the year. In 67 innings, Richmond struck out 52 and (…wait for it…) walked FOUR. Let me emphasize that. For every person Jamie Richmond walked last year, he struck out 10.5 batters. Granted, he was at Danville, but still, how can you not get excited by that?

Richmond was a 31st rounder in 2004 and did not play until the following season, a likely draft-and-follow. He showed solid skills in eight games out of the bullpen for the GCL Braves, but it was this year that Richmond exploded. He also did not allow a homerun, just 51 hits, and ended the year with a 7-1 record, 1.21 ERA, and a 0.82 WHIP. It might be just one year and I might be crazy to rank Richmond this high, but he deserves with such an incredible year.

ETA: Mid 2010

Richmond is one of my favorite hurlers, though he was not as amazing this year as he was in 2006. He was one of Rome's most consistent pitchers, leading them in starts, innings, and K's. His 3.05 ERA was decent, but his 1.20 WHIP was hardly anything to write home about. Obviously, his K/BB ratio couldn't be as good, but 98 K's to just 25 walks is not a bad thing. I think he can rebound to have an even bigger year and my disappointment over what is considered a pretty decent year speaks well of what I expect out of Richmond.

9. Neftali Feliz – Right-Hand Pitcher – Age: 18…Ranked eighth in Baseball America’s Gulf Coast League rankings, Feliz is getting more and more press seemingly every time someone posts a Top Braves prospect list. My rankings will be no different. While the Dominican reportedly has a wild delivery, if he stays healthy, he could be special.

In his first professional season, he tossed 29 homerless innings, striking out 42. The 14 walks and four wild pitches show a hurler needing a little harnessing, but nothing too out of the ordinary. He received equal time as a reliever and a starter so it is unknown where the Braves ultimately see him, but with time, he could be the next Jose Capellan (a phenom) or something even better.

ETA: Early 2011

Feliz remains a big-time arm in need of sculpting, but it will not be done with the Braves. He played very well with Danville until he was included in the Mark Teixeria deal. Texas pushed him to get a taste of A-ball and his numbers were not quite as good.

8. Van Pope – Third Base – Age: 23…Pope has quietly been a solid player for the Braves since they selected him in the 2004 draft in the fifth round. Last year with Myrtle Beach, he showed impressive power despite playing with the Pelicans as he pitched in 31 doubles and 15 homeruns. If that was not enough, he added a .090 IsoOBP.

With Eric Campbell in the system, it is understandable why Pope has received so little press. However, Pope has a pretty good chance of succeeding Chipper Jones in the future. He is also an excellent defender and that will be welcomed after watching Jones’s slow reaction time. Recently, Pope made the Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects forn the Braves organization and provided he performs well at Mississippi, he could be knocking on the door pretty soon. I look for him to get some experience at first base to add some versatility.

ETA: Early 2009

Pope was extremly solid in 2006, but was abysmal last season. He remains one of the best infield defenders in the organization, but his time as a pretty good prospect is dwindling. Last year with Mississippi, Pope failed to secure a .300 OBP and OPS'd .638. While there are few third base prospects close to the majors to push him, his bat, which was always a question mark, will need to be much better next year.

7. Scott Thorman – First Base/Outfield – Age: 25…The only thing Scott Robert Thorman has done since he was drafted with the 30th overall selection in 2000 is hit. While his numbers do not stand up to some of the big-time first base prospects in the game, considering the pitcher-friendly parks he has called home during his ride up the minor league system, I believe we have yet to see the best he can provide.

Thorman got his first shot at major league pitching this year and was immediately thrust into the third spot in the Braves order for a time. The first person he faced? Curt Schilling. Welcome to the big leagues. All in all, Thorman showed explosive power (16 of his 30 hits went for extra bases), but struggled with consistent contact, showing little of his decent plate discipline. Ultimately, I see Thorman settling into a very Adam LaRoche-like offensive profile. His best power seasons have come in the past two years so he still may have some power he has yet to take advantage of.

ETA: Early 2007

Well, we all know how Thor's 2007 went. After essentially being given the lionshare of first base duties, the beast from Canada flopped. He continued to show explosive power, but he rarely hit the ball. Finally, the Braves acquired Teix and Thor spent the final two months as a bat off the bench. He could continue to be that, but his lack of verstility on the bench could be a problem. I believe he will be traded sometime.

6. Joey Devine – Right-Hand Pitcher – Age: 23…Not every college reliever is built the same. The Braves were tempted by bad pitching in their own bullpen, excellent minor league numbers by Devine, and success stories like Huston Street and thrust Devine into a significant role in their bullpen in 2005. It did not go too well, I am afraid. Everyone knows about the two Grand Slams he gave up in his first two games. In addition, he gave up Chris Burke’s 18th inning homerun to end the Braves season. Last year, he looked stellar in spring training, though late struggles had him headed to Richmond, which was the right idea. Injuries prompted a call-up that produced little success and injuries of his own quickly followed. In September, Devine was used as a situational righty (a ROOGY?) to moderate promise.

That is all things we know right now. Where Devine goes from here is still to be decided. The former Wolfpack member from NC State has a great arm. He reminds me of Tim Spooneybarger in the sense that he has great natural movement. Talent wise, Devine could be anything from a great setup reliever to a shutdown closer. Will he get there? Probably not next year, but I think he will eventually get it together as long as Atlanta treads softly.

ETA: Mid 2007

Devine finally started to put it together as he was healthy and effective for the entire 2007 campaign. He finished fourth in the Southern League in saves with 16 in 33 games. He was also on the Ascanio/Devine shuttle between Mississippi and Atlanta where each pitcher would get a game or two in the majors before getting demoted again. He added to his resume with an impressive 17 games with the eventual International League champs, Richmond. His control remained problematic in the majors, but he was much more confident in ten outings. Out of options, Devine's time to shine is now.

5. Brandon Jones – Outfield – Age: 23…In the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, they basically killed off “draft-and-follow” players, or players that are drafted, play a season at a junior college or whatever, and then the team re-evaluates if they want to sign him or if the player wants to re-enter the draft. Jones was one of those players and was a big find for the Braves after he was selected in the 23rd round. In three years since he signed merely days before the 2004 draft, he has handled himself to the tune of a .819 OPS.

Jones has not played a full season in any year (signing late and injuries played their part), but after 58 games with Myrtle Beach this year, he was promoted to Mississippi and actually hit better than he had at the Beach, showing off a .477 SLG power and a .273 batting average. His projections vary, but I see him along the lines of 20-25 HR, solid contact skills, and generally a good hitter. Maybe not an All-Star, but a guy who keeps a position from being a weakness.

ETA: Early 2009

Like many of the players who had Mississippi dominating the first half, Jones earned promotions the rest of the year and even got a chance in the majors in September. In a season that saw the Braves trade many of their top prospects and other top prospects regressed, Jones flourished for the Braves, hitting a combined .295/.367/.490 with 19 homers and 100 RBIs for Mississippi and Richmond. That 100 RBIs was best in the organization. He went 2-for-19 in the majors with a double, but has a good chance of competing for a job in the spring.

4. Eric Campbell – Third Base – Age: 21…In 2005, Campbell, the former second rounder from Indiana, showed why the Braves selected him as high as they did for he took home just about every conceivable honor for his success at advanced rookie level Danville. Last year, he was almost as impressive, hitting .296 with a .517 SLG. Adding to that, he stole 18 bases and mashed 22 homeruns for Rome.

Where Campbell will play is up for debate. Most believe he will be moved to second and become the long-term answer at that position, opening third base for Van Pope. His experience at second in the Hawaii Winter League gives credence to that. Campbell is a hacker like Jeff Francoeur, but seems to make more contact, striking out in just 15% of his at-bats while playing most of 2006 at a younger-than-average age for his level. Keep an eye on Campbell. He could be fast tracked if he handles Myrtle Beach.

ETA: Late 2008/Early 2009

Spoiler alert - none of the top four in this list will be in the 2007 top ten. The top three were all traded, but Campbell's attitude and regression as a player was his biggest fault. He batted .221/.312/.406 in 81 injury-and-suspension hurt games for Myrtle Beach. The walks, 36, were a new personal high and he showed enough power, but simply sucked. He will need a major bounceback year to remain in the Braves plans.

3. Matt Harrison – Left-Hand Pitcher – Age: 21…Matt Harrison has a real shot of making some moves in the organization as soon as this season. Since he was selected with the 97th choice in 2003, all Harrison has done is become more and more impressive. While with Danville in 2004, he gave up nearly ten hits per nine innings, yet considering his age of 18, even keeping the hits per nine innings fewer than ten was impressive. He came onto the map while again playing under the average age of the league the following season, going 12-7 with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Last year, between Myrtle Beach and Mississippi, he again kept performing at a high level.

If Harrison does have any problems it is the fact he gives up a good amount of homeruns considering the parks he has played in. But because he walks under two per nine innings and has a career WHIP of 1.17, he can give up 35 homeruns a year and still be a leader on the staff. Harrison is the one serious pitching prospect the Braves currently have in their system. If labels make you happy, Harrison could become a number two starter in the upcoming years.

ETA: Late 2007/Early 2008

My favorite Braves pitching prospect is no more after he was included in the Teix trade. Harrison dealt with injuries and was not as effective as he was the previous year, posting a 1.30 WHIP. The addition of Beau Jones to the trade was said to be a little backup in case Harrison was not able to stay healthy. He was named one of the Arizona Fall League's top 22 players to finish the year however.

2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Catcher – Age: 21…With Salty, his 2006 season needs to be taken into context. He suffered from a wrist injury and considering the fact he turned 21 last May, he was pretty young to play in the Southern League. Whether or not he repeats the level next year, Salty still remains among the crème of the crop as far as prospects go in the organization and one of the top three catcher prospects in the minor leagues. His power struggled last year, but he showed explosive power with Myrtle Beach in 2005. Posting a .200 IsoSLG while playing half of your games in that pitcher’s paradise is astonishing.

Salty has the potential to be the best power hitter the Braves have developed in a decade. His plate discipline is incredible and he is able to rebound as he should, Salty will once again re-establish himself as one of the best prospects in baseball. However, will he go the Andy Marte way and find himself traded or will he be moved to a position so the Braves can get him into the lineup? Hopefully, the latter.

ETA: Mid-to-Late 2008

What is there that needs to be said about Salty? After absolutely crushing the Southern League for a month, Salty was promoted to the majors and held his own. Over his next 44 games, Salty hit .284/.333/.411 and showed a strong throwing arm. Saldy, the Teix trade gobbled him up, too. He hit for more power with Texas, but his AVG/OBP slumped. I still think he will be a yearly .900 OPS guy within 2-3 years.

1. Elvis Andrus – Shortstop – Age: 18…Elvis may be the most popular Braves prospect right now and when you are already playing A-ball at 18, you should be pretty popular. In fact, he did not turn 18 until late August so he spent most of the season at 17. Still, he hit .265. Andrus is most definitely for real.

It is hard to project Andrus so I will say this. He has the potential to be the best the shortstop in Braves history. Too much? When you take into account his age, his relative success, and the fact that scouts love his possibilities, I have to believe that once he develops a little more, both physically and mentally, he is going to be a consistent force for years to come.

For me to rank him this high took a lot of convincing because he does not have the resumes that Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia easily present. However, there is not a Brave in the system right now that I believe can be Andrus’ equal in the terms of what he can do. Whether or not he actually does…well, that is why they play the games, correct?

ETA: Early 2010

It still amazes me what Teix cost the Braves. My top three prospects from last year, not to mention my #9. Andrus turned 19 in late August and finished strong to go with his birthday as he hit .300/.369/.373 after the trade. He was on his way to losing the number one slot in this organization before the trade as he hit .244/.330/.335 with Myrtle Beach. Just the same, there is a lot to be excited about with Andrus and he too was part of the Top 22 AFL players this year.

Boring Week of Nothing

-Well, there was little to talk about after this week. Let's see, Mike Hampton is hurt. Major surprise, right? Chances are pretty good that his winter league action is over. After one inning. Seriously, I can't wait until his contract is up.

-Speaking of Braves no longer being Braves (terrible movie title), Peterson Orr was released. Can I get a w00t, w00t?

-w00t, w00t

-If that wasn't enough for a w00t, w00t...maybe the fact that Lance Cormier has been DFA'd is enough to get ya excited. At least, two of the medicore players who aren't good enough to stick around won't continue to get shots.

-In other transaction news, the Braves have offered arbitration to Ron Mahay, but declined to offer it to their other free agents, most notably including Andruw Jones. One final nail in the coffin for Andruw's time as a Brave.

-Braves are supposedly quite interested in getting in a few deals at the winter meetings, but no idea who will be their main targets. I still think Coco Crisp might be a focal point. Either way, I doubt we'll see a Lastings Milledge type deal.