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The final rosters do not have to be finalized until Sunday afternoon, but looking at what we know today, here’s how I see it in the NL East:

Pos Mets Marlins Braves Nats Phils
C Barajas Baker McCann Rodriguez Ruiz
1B Jacobs Sanchez Glaus Dunn Howard
2B Castillo Uggla Prado Kennedy Utley
SS Cora Ramirez Escobar Desmond Rollins
3B Wright Cantu Jones Zimmerman Polanco
LF Bay Coughlin Cabrera Willingham Ibanez
CF Pagan Maybin McLouth Morgan Victorino
RF Francoeur Ross Heyward Harris Werth
OF Catalanotto Carroll Diaz Bernadina Fransisco
OF Matthews Jr.
Bonofacio Hinske Morse Gload
IF Carter Helms Infante Gonzalez Dobbs
IF Tatis Lamb Thurston Guzman Castro
C Blanco Paulino Ross Nieves Schneider
SP Santana Johnson Hudson Lannan Halladay
SP Pelfrey Nolasco Lowe Marquis Hamels
SP Maine Sanchez Jurrjens Stammen Happ
SP Perez Volstad Hanson
Hernandez Kendrick
SP Niese Robertson Kawakami Mock Moyer
RP Rodriguez Nunez Wagner Capps Madson
RP Igarashi Sanchez Moylan Olsen Baez
RP Feliciano Meyer Saito Bruney Zagurski
RP Mejia Veres Medlin Clippard Durbin
RP Calero Hensley Reyes Burnett Bastardo
RP Figueroa Pinto Chavez
Bergmann Lopez
25th Adams Barden Conrad Batista Ransom
  • Mets: Beltran, Reyes, Takahashi, Nieve, Tejada, Santos, Escobar, Murphy, Parnell, Green, Dessens, Muniz
  • Braves: Freeman, Hicks, Sammons, Boscan, Schafer, Young, Proctor, Venters, O’Flaherty
  • Marlins: Badenhop, Richar, Davis, Luna, Murphy
  • Nats: English, Martis, James, Walker, Spier, Orr, Coste, Taveras, Maxwell, McDougal, Wang, Detwiller, Duncan, Bruntlett, Flores
  • Phillies: Blanton, Lidge, Romero, Valdez, Guzman, Hoover, Brown, Wise
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I guess given the Marlins hot start this year, the Florida Marlins brain trust has mistakenly bought into that their early season success is more of the trend, than a fluke.  It seems they really are banking on Emilio Bonifacio as an everyday player, rather than as a super sub. In doing so, they have done something that Bobby Cox would never do. As, each year, the Braves decide on a newcomer they will take North with them. They ease them into the lineup, and realize as a young player there will be first year growing pains. They take into account that a young players mental psyche must be nurtured, and that any decision made in regards to that player must take that factor into account.

Even Lou Piniella, who has a track record of not being one of the best at developing young players, knows about this. It would have been so easy after Carl Crawford initially struggled with his bat in his rookie season, to send him down. But, the Rays stuck with him and Crawford became a better hitter long term because of the experience at hitting in the 9 hole. Eventually, his bat came around and he has built on that year ever since.

If you decide that your young player you plan on building the team around for years to come is ready, you expect that he will be inserted into the lineup from the time he takes the field opening day, for the next 10 years.  You do things to take the pressure of the player as he gets used to being a big league player. You expect that in that first year their will be peaks and valleys.  The number one thing you don’t do is give up to him after 6 weeks.

In Cameron Maybin, you know what you are going to get with him. He does not have the plate discipline. He has shown to be a free swinger in his minor league career. He does have power and speed. He can play a decent center field.  Why in the world do you send him down as the season is quite early, and sure you may be in somewhat in a pennant race.But, is Cameron Maybin the reason that the starting pitching has yet to secure a win in weeks?

This move in itself will not do Maybin much harm physically going down and working on his skills. However, I wonder what lasting effects this will have on Maybin. Are you willing to possibly damage Maybin, by calling him out, when Bonofacio is another player who has been struggling as much. This move of sending Cameron Maybin to the minors makes you question the Marlins front office. Unless they plan is to make Emilio’s Bonifacio into a utility player after his early struggles, I don’t understand how this move helps the Marlins franchise.

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After the Phillies unveiled their new Utley-Howard-Ibanez batting order combination (all of which are left handed batters) against the Braves on opening day,  it appears Charlie Manuel has already scrapped that plan after the group went the 0-11.  They have inserted Werth after Howard breaking up all the left handed batters.  It didn’t even take a left handed starter to force the batting order change.

Update: Ken Rosenthal mentioned the Charlie Manuel’s lineup tinkering

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What a difference a year makes.  At this time last year Jordan Schafer was suspended for the “so called”  HGH positive test. Now, lets  fast forward a year and take you to where this remarkable journey begins again. Jordan Schafer earned  a spot in the Braves starting lineup,  with the second consecutive spring where he showed he does in fact have a bat to go with his fine defensive play. He did the unthinkable and homered in his first at bat.  I can’t say I didnt tell you so.  Now, for the guys at ESPN like Jon Miller, his name is Jordan Schafer, not Logan Schafer!

A year later, I’d still take Schafer over Maybin .

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With Mike Hampton having injury after injury since 2005, the fact that he was scheduled for a start this past Thursday had many people thinking how long will he last before he is hurt again. This was after he suffered a minor injury this spring, but managed to get past it and land a spot in the rotation. I was looking forward to seeing how he would do and it would be quite a milestone after Hampton has been sidlined for such a long time. I did not make to a TV until the game had already started, and when I turned on the TV to my surprise I see Jeff Bennett of the Braves pitching. I should have known better? At first, the word was that Hampton was scratched and their were not any specific details. I was hoping that maybe they held him out for the poor weather. But, we should know better about Hampton by now. The diganosis is that he has a strained pectoral muscle. The Braves have listed it as minor injury and that he would be day-to-day. But, they did place him on the 15 day disabled list. In doing a quick scan of the web on what the timeline for coming back from an injury like this would be, I found this:

Aaron Brooks will be sidelined two to four weeks with a strained pectoral muscle, giving the Raiders’ starting quarterback job to second-year player Andrew Walter

Also, it seems LeBron James came down with what was believed to be a strained pectoral in 2005, but:

team physicians initially thought James had a strained pectoral muscle, but tests revealed pleurisy, an inflammation of the thin layers of tissue covering the lungs and chest cavity.

“I know what a plural is,” James joked. “But I’ve never heard of pleurisy.”

Just like Rocco Baldelli, Hampton seems like it will take a stroke of luck to ever get back on the field.

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It was MLBTR with their weighing in on the Barry Bonds situation. Originally, I had Braves #1 on possible landing:

1. Braves: The Braves have career backup Matt Diaz slated to be the starter. Bonds could serve a role here.

7. Rays: He would just have to beat out Gomes at DH. Baldelli eventually would have to get hurt also.

However, as one reader graciously told me :

Perhaps you don’t realize that Hank Aaron is a Vice President with the Braves organization, and one of the most loved figures in Atlanta sports history (along with Dale Murphy and most members of the ‘91 Braves team).

The Braves fans would revolt if Bonds, who most likely used performance enhancing drugs to break Aaron’s record, was even CONSIDERED by Frank Wren and the rest of Atlanta’s management.

In Phil Rogers, I don’t take alot of stock usually in what he says. But, I guess he was grasping at straws like I was in finding a place where Bonds might fit in.

As far as the Bonds in a brand spanking new Rays uniform, I did say that I thought there was a chance that Rays would explore Bonds. I sort of felt a little misquoted here though. I thought public opinion would factor heavily on what Mr. Friedman and Mr. Sternberg decided to do on this issue. The fact that you have not heard the brain trust all out dismiss it, there is still a chance of it happening. We did hear Friedman say he should be fired if he did not look into something that would help this team out.

After spending a lot of time cleansing the clubhouse this off-season, it would be a change as Bonds will come with a lot of baggage wherever he goes. The good thing to come out of this it has been seeing Carl Crawford speaking up about Rays franchise.

Usually when a player speaks up about the Rays, its usually a player throwing a player under the bus. The tirades we saw out of Delmon when he did not get the major league recall a few years ago, and the episode last season where our manager took him out of the game come to mind.

I still find it hard to envision Bonds playing again as in this now public testimony , it seems like Bonds and baseball are so divided.

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In 2007, Jake Peavy was rewarded with his first Cy Young award as a 19 time game winner, while pitching most of his games in pitcher friendly Petco Park. His progression from one of the best best power pitching prospects in baseball, to one of the best pitchers in all of baseball seemed to have started in 2005. But, after the impressive 2005 season, his 2006 season was slightly a disappointment. But, fantasy owners who showed him the faith got to witness a Tom Seaver like season. With the 19 wins, an ERA of 2.54, a WHIP at 1.06, strikeout rate of 9.67 per 9 innings (which amounted to 240 Ks), these pitching numbers were the equivalent of a hitter winning the triple crown.

One thing I thought is interesting about Peavy, is he is a balanced flyball/ ground ball pitcher.

Name GB BABIP TB BB HR SO/9 DIPS ERA WHIP TEAM DER
Peavy 254 .266 253 68 13 9.67 2.76 2.54 1.06 .7125 (6th)

For example, his teammate Chris Young who had a real nice season in 2007 had only 131 ground balls (GB) on the season, where as two other very good pitchers in Brandon Webb and Hudson had over 400 ground balls on the season.

Name GB BABIP TB BB HR SO/9 DIPS ERA WHIP TEAM DER
Hudson 441 .281 298 53 10 5.30 3.40 3.33 1.22 .7188 (7th)
Webb 431 .277 295 72 12 7.39 3.18 3.01 1.19 .7066(10th)
Lowe 398 .278 293 59 20 6.64 3.89 3.88 1.27 .6991 (16th)
Oswalt 361 .300 324 60 14 6.54 3.51 3.18 1.33 .6997(15th)
Maddux 359

.297

326

25

14

4.73

3.55

4.14

1.24

.7125(6th)

The balls that are put in play on the ground are much harder to turn an out with than fly balls are as indicated by higher BABIP.

Name GB BABIP TB BB HR SO/9 DIPS ERA WHIP TEAM DER
James, C 157

.264

295 58 32 6.47 5.19 4.24 1.38 .7188 (7th)
Young, C 131

.235

183 72 10 8.69 3.43 3.12 1.10 .7125 (6th)

With Ground ball pitchers, the success the pitcher exhibits depends highly on the defense. Where as, fly balls are easier to make an out with. If a pitcher that is balanced like Peavy, he gets the benefits of getting the easier outs with the fly balls, and have the infield defense to help you out on the ground balls. A stat that measures this is Defensive Efficiency Ratio (DER ) :

measures the percentage of times balls in play are turned into outs by the team’s fielders, not including homeruns. There are different versions of the formula for DER but one most commonly used is (BFP-H-K-BB-HBP-0.6*E)/(BFP-HR-K-BB-HBP) where BFP = batters faced pitcher, H=hits allowed, K=strikeouts, BB=walks allowed, HBP=hits batsmen and E=errors

Thus, for these ground ball pitchers in 2007, How did their defense help them is worth taking a look at.

Projection GB BABIP TEAM DER
Hudson 441 .281 .7188 (7th)
Webb 431 .277 .7066(10th)
Lowe 398 .278 .6991 (16th)
Oswalt 361 .300 .6997(15th)
Maddux 359

.297

.7125(6th)

So, all these pitchers with the high number of ground balls, are backed with defenses that are good at making outs when the ball gets in play. Take some of these pitchers, and place them with a bad defense, it would be interesting how there numbers would turn out.

One last thing I decided to do was take a look at the Range of the infielders involved in these good ground ball pitchers. I used Dave Pinto’s PMR:

uses play-by-play data to determine the probability of a ball in play being converted to an out based on six parameters: Direction of hit (a vector), The type of hit (Fly, ground, line drive, bunt), How hard the ball was hit (slow, medium, hard), The park, The handedness of the pitcher, The handedness of the batter.

Arizona (99.87 19th)

C 1B 2B SS 3B
96.26 (24th) 99.98 (14th) 104.12 (4th) 100.82 (11th) 94.61 (28th)

Braves (100.66 10th)

C 1B 2B SS 3B
115.67(2nd) 104.28(7th) 97.70 (22nd) 99.22 (17th) 99.90 (15th)

San Diego (100.08 17th)

C 1B 2B SS 3B
95.97 (25th) 105.21 (5th) 96.61 (27th) 98.44(22nd) 98.37 (18th)

Los Angeles (99.87 20th)

C 1B 2B SS 3B
108.91 (5th) 97.07 (19th) 96.99 (25th) 105.60 (3rd) 100.85 (14th)

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