Yada Yada Yada

ESPN.com – Gammons: NL East breakdown

Liz Smith:

Now, for the first time since 1990, the year they drafted Chipper Jones instead of Todd Van Poppel, the Braves are not only seriously challenged, they go into spring training considered the likely runner-up to the Phillies.

Except that last year all the smart money was on the Phillies. (And the dumb money was on the Mets.)

Liz seems to think that Bubba Nelson and Andy Pratt will be on the roster. I keep hearing that Nelson’s got the inside track on the fifth starter spot (when they bow to the inevitable and shut Byrd down again) but that’s a big jump. Pratt’s a more finished product, but they may need him in the pen.

20 thoughts on “Yada Yada Yada”

  1. I honestly believe that this club has the potential to be as good or better than the 2002 variety. The ’04 group of Estrada, DeRosa, LaRoche, and Drew will probably match or exceed the output of the ’02 group of Lopez, Castilla, Franco bros., and Sheffield. Remember, Sheff only played in 135 games that year and Lopez sucked. Remember when he sucked? If our starters can pitch consistently as well as they are capable of, the key will be the bullpen. If the group of guys we assemble this year can even come close to matching the ’02 bullpen, I think we will make the playoffs again this year.

  2. The 2002 bullpen was insanely good. There really is no reason to believe that this year’s pen will be remotely close to 2002. I readily admit that there was not too much reason to believe holmes, hammond, et al. would have the seasons they did in 2002, but I didn’t see that same magic with Roberto Hernandez and Ray King. There, I said it. 2002, exception to the rule.

    Of course, Mazzone’s affect on the bullpen (and pitchers in general) relative to those pitcher’s career numbers would make a grand grand research project. Without that knowledge, isn’t most of this discussion anecdotal?

  3. The offense might be better, but the starting pitching?

    Glavine was 18-11 with a 2.96 ERA (3d in NL);
    Maddux was 16-6 with a 2.62 ERA (2d in NL);
    Millwood was 18-8 with a 3.24 ERA;
    Moss was 12-6 with a 3.42 ERA.

    Now, the fifth starter (mostly Marquis) sucked, but if they got that sort of performance out of this year’s rotation we definitely should reserve Leo a place in Cooperstown.

  4. Agreed mac. We all should really have realistic expectations. In 2002 the Braves went 708 RS and 565 RA (!!!! This is totally remarkable. For reference, in 1995, playing 144 games, the braves allowed 540 runs. This is also the lowest since 1993.). In 2003, they unexpectedly flipped, 907 RS and 740 RA (+199 and +175 runs from the previous year). Now, if the pitchers stay the same and the hitters regress, we’re looking at 850-800 runs scored and 750 runs allowed. I happen to think that the offense will regress more towards 800 than to 850. If that is the case, we’ll be treading water much of the year. 2001 team looks like a much more likely comparison. 85-88 wins is my prediction.

  5. I predict about 840 RC and 710 RA. I think Hampton has a stellar year, Drew avoids injury for once, Ramirez shows some improvement, the bullpen won’t (can’t?) be as bad, and Estrada saves some runs behind the plate. Optimistic? Yeah, baby — that’s what Spring is all about. I’ll save my realism for October.

  6. I think the Astros are going places….wow…what a team!

    They have it going on!!!!

    I’m so jealous of their rotation

    What about their lineup? Do you think our lineup is better than theirs?

    They have Bagwell, Berkman AND Kent

    We have Andruw, Chipper and Giles

    Whose offense is better?

  7. If you could swap our offense for the Astros offense magically with a switch of a button, how many of you guys would do it?

    I’m just curious cos I got an argument with someone over this lately and I said I would and he said NO WAY…the braves have a better offense

    I’m talking about the players, not trading their hitter friendly park

    Let me know whether you all would take the ‘Stros sluggers rather than the braves guys

    I love Andruw and Giles…but it’s a tasty offer cos we’re getting Kent AND bagwell and berkman plus an incredible group of rookies (better than ours anyways)

  8. I do think the Astros have a better offense than the Braves. It’s insanity that they didn’t win the Central last year. Their pythagorean record was 94-68, underperforming by seven games! The Cubs pyth record was 85-77, overperforming by three games. That swing (plus the marlins out performing their pyth) cost the Astros a playoff spot. Are you listening Jimy?

  9. I’m not so sure MS. With Everett and Ausmus the Astros have two absolute zeros in there every night. So the are trying to beat you with a six man lineup. It seems like the Braves have tried that before and it never goes that well. Biggio is slipping away, Kent and Bagwell’s best days are behind them.

    I guess I might have to side with your friend and take the Braves younger, more balanced attack.

  10. Robert,

    What about Berkman? He’s a potential 130+ RBI threat if the guys in front of him get on

    And they have Ensberg….what a rookie…wow

    385 AB, 25 HR, 48 BB, 60 RBI

    The ‘Stros are v. conservative and slow in letting their star rookies develop (e.g. berkman)…I think next year they will give Ensberg more of a chance…in Minute Maid he could easily get 40 HR

    If Cox had a rookie like that, he would be in at 3B everyday

  11. I’ve felt that in recent years the Astros lineup has been unbalanced to the right (like cable news networks such as FOX and MSNBC). Aside from the switch hitting Berkman, all of their starters bat righthanded. Biggio is done done(and not very good in CF), Bagwell isn’t that great anymore, Berkman is coming off a bad year but he’s a stud, Hidalgo is Juan Encarnacion playing in Enron Field and Kent is the man. All in all I think I’d take the braves.

  12. Okay – here’s the next question….

    who has the best rotation in the bigs?

    I think the ‘stros win that one too

    They are better than the red sox and the a’s and the cubbies, in my opinion

    Sorry for talking so much about the ‘stros….I guess I’m just jealous….I envy the ‘stros fans sentiment this off season…

    They are everything that we (the braves) should be…anyways sorry…I want post any more astrotalk…I’ve had my fill…

    But seriously do you think their rotation is the best???

    I donno…I would be shocked if they don’t make it to the WS this year, personally

    I mean they ALMOST made the playoffs with oswalt terrible all year…now they have roger and andy…oswalt should be better…

    hidalgo got shot…but who cares? kent will have a better year…too good a park for him not to take advantage of sooner or later

  13. Well, the Yankees have Mussina and *sob* Vazquez. The Red Sox have Pedro and Schilling. The best rotation in the majors question starts at the top of the AL East. Throw in Brown and I think it’s the Yankees.

  14. Man, if MS threw in a “baby!” once in a while, I’d think he was Dick Vitale. Try the decaf, buddy …

    Seriously, though, Chipper and Berkman more or less cancel each other out (although Berkman plays better defense and makes a lot less money … for now). Hidalgo’s more streaky and unpredictable than even Andruw and Bagwell can’t play forever. Giles is pretty much the poor man’s Kent; he makes a lot less money and he’s 10 years younger.

    The one guy who I would really covet is Ensberg. He seems to be the real deal. But even he’s not worth taking on Ausmus and Everett (who make Vinny and Javy of 2002 vintage look like Ruth and Gehrig).

    Mac dealt with this already, but Gammons even admits that the Braves were counted out last year too, but still insists on saying that this is the first year people have picked someone else to win the East. What the hell?

    If I recall correctly, the Mets were the chic choice in 2002, when they brought in Mo-licious, Alomar and Burnitz. I was actually worried that year.

    And I think this line is hilarious …
    Jimmy Rollins is now 25 and knows he cannot hit the ball in the air too often.

    Who the hell is he, Willie Mays Hayes? This is not 1989. Ichiro! notwithstanding, the days of the Otis Nixon/Brett Butler slap hitter are over. Rollins won’t be a good player (let alone a great player, as many were ready to anoint him three years ago), until he learns to take a walk once in a while.

    Oh, and one more thing … why do people still insist on calling Estrada a “young player?” He’s 28. Ken Griffey Jr. had five 40-home run seasons by that age. Think about that for a moment.

  15. I just re-read the passage you had highlighted, Mac, and that’s one oddly constructed sentence.

    Here it is again so you can avoid back-clicking:

    Now, for the first time since 1990, the year they drafted Chipper Jones instead of Todd Van Poppel, the Braves are not only seriously challenged, they go into spring training considered the likely runner-up to the Phillies.

    First of all, the only thing the Braves were challenging for in 1990 is last place. Damn the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros (who both finished 10 games up on Atlanta) for keeping our heroes out of fifth!

    Second, there have been numerous times they were challenged for first since then ? by the Dodgers in 1991, by the Giants in 1993, by the Expos in 1994, by the Mets a couple of times in the late ’90s and by the Phillies in 2002.

    Thirdly, if you read Gammons’ sentence literally, he’s saying that this is the first time the Braves have been considered the second-best team in the division behind the Phillies before the season. And as we have said numerous times, dozens of analysts picked the Phillies to finish first last year, including Stark, Neyer, Kurkjian, Dibble and … wait for it … Gammons himself.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/spring2003/preview03/predictions.html

    God bless the Internet and people with poor short-term memories…

  16. I think that the Astros are vastly overrated on both sides of the ball. Pettitte is their ace? I live in upstate NY and have to deal with Yankees fans, and yankees radio broadcasts, and sometimes even TV broadcasts. And by god, he is the most overrated pitcher in baseball( his ERA has been above 4 in four of the last six seasons; one of those seasons it was 3.99). He gets tremendous run support, and wins alot of games for the yankees during both the regular and post season. I think he’s in for a shock next season. Of Andy Pettitte is the most overrated pitcher in baseball, then Roger Clemens is a close second. He’s not that good anymore. Both of these guys suffer minor injuries seemlingly every single season. Oswalt is good, but like the veterans he gets hurt alot. Wade Miller has never proven himself. I think there are a handful of rotations better than Houston’s. I’d say the cubs have the best rotation right now, then the Red Sox, Yankees, A’s, Phillies, Marlins and Mariners, roughly in that order.

  17. Clemens is still really good. The Astros seem inclined to use him as basically a sunday pitcher, making maybe 20-25 starts, a lot on long rest. He’s been devastating on long rest in recent years.

    Pettitte… Well, I have him on my APBA team, so maybe it’s wishful thinking. But I think he’ll be a lot better with Adam Everett behind him than Derek Jeter, who has gone from being a poor defender with an oversized rep to a horrific defender people are startying to figure out. Heck, Kent’s probably better than Soriano.

  18. Wow….

    All the 2004 season fantasy baseball previews/magazines are already in!!!! Wow, before Maddog got signed

    Does anyone believe in using these? Any recommendations on which one is the best?

    I think I kinda know my team. I’m gonna go with Marcus Giles and Andruw Jones. I think Andruw’s gonna have a break out year

    I read in one of those that one of the guys think JD Drew is gonna get the most homers in the NL next year with 40….wow

    That’s flattering

    I like Branyan and Drew…both of them have a lot of power….

    If Drew stays healthy, his numbers will be comparable to Andruw’s last year

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