Name names, John!

Baseball Prospectus | Articles | The Week In Quotes: August 8-14

“I never thought it would be this much fun. In the middle part of my career, the rookies who came up — you were just so sick and tired of their attitude, to be blunt about it. They knew everything. These guys are so respectful, so willing to learn.”
–Braves pitcher John Smoltz, on playing with so many rookie teammates (New York Times)

So, who’s he talking about? Furcal? Andruw? Maybe he’s limiting his remarks to pitchers. That would certainly describe certain young pitchers the Braves called up over the years.

43 thoughts on “Name names, John!”

  1. Middle of his career…hmmm. Could mean Chipper, Klesko, Javy, Tarasco, etc. in that time frame? He’s been playing for that long. They all kind of came up as a group and I suspect they were quite confident of themselves.

  2. And Spooneybarger, O. Perez, Schmidt… seems like a ton of pitchers have come up through the Atlanta system, been sent out, and then declared attitude problems to one extent or another.

  3. That would be closer to the true middle of his career, JC. But considering that this is Smoltz, he probably thinks the “middle” of his career was something a bit closer to yesterday :)

  4. Knowing Smoltz and the general Atlanta press speak of saying nothing bad about current teammates, this is probably the pig headed marquis, spooneybarger and chen combination

  5. Does anyone with full access to BP mind telling me who is the player they refer to as “The top-rated player in baseball history” in the 1941-1943 objective hall of fame class? I’m assuming that means a guy who was playing during those years, which means it’s not Ruth, unless they are observing a grace period similar to the one the real HOF uses. If this is a violation of copyright or something then I apologize for asking, I am really curious who it would be though.

  6. It’s Ruth. The author is observing the five-year grace period.

    As for Smoltz’s comment, who knows if he is really talking about anyone in particular, or if he has the dates right…? When we tell each other stories, we tend to edit them to make them more compelling, to fit a certain form, and/or to obscure details that not fit precisely (or would cause offense). I mention this because I was having the same thoughts about the abortive trade story from Joe Garagiola, Jr. discussed here a couple of weeks ago. It’s hard to make the facts fit when the story is likely edited, in memory or in telling.

  7. Thanks, I was starting to think that BP all of a sudden was showing that Ted Williams was a phenomenal defensive left fielder or Stan Musial was way better with the bat due to park adjustments…

  8. Chuck James pitched his longest game of the year tonight 8 innings no runs 1 hit 3 bbs and 4ks. He gets the win 1-0

  9. Why is Keith Jackson not on the Road to Bristol? The worst college football announcer ever!

  10. Keith Jackson has definitely lost a lot and probably should retire for good, but IMHO he was the best college football announcer in my lifetime (I’m 40, so I’m sure there are some as good or better that I don’t know about).

  11. 2. I really like him.

    Me too. I’m on the West Coast here so I get him every week. Can’t imagine anything better than USC kicking tail with Keith Jackson behind the mic. You can keep Musberger and Nessler.

  12. Did anyone read this article on the Braves homepage about Giles and Furcal? The more I think about it, the worse of an idea I think it is to let Furcal leave. I know money doesn’t grow on trees, but shouldn’t we at least make a decent effort to keep him?

  13. Oh, wow. Michael Irvin vs. SAS in the next Egregious Eight round. This is horrible! They are both horrendous and I can only vote for one. I saw Irvin for the first time on NFL Live today and he was not only trying to DEFEND Terrell Owens, who, as far as I’m concerned, is indefensible, but his English was so incomprehensible that I had to focus all my attention on separating his slurred words and translating them into forms that I could understand instead of watching the actual show.

    But it’s Stephen A. Smith. I’m going to need time to think about this one.

  14. Third post in a row, but I have to ask Mac: where’s Tom Jackson in the Road from Bristol? Anybody who makes Bill Belichick the Human Robot angry enough to tell him to go f*** himself in front of an entire Super Bowl postgame party should definitely be in.

  15. The good news is that the yankees, red sox,(mets ?) and rangers don’t need a short stop. The bad news is they can always try to convert him to second base.

  16. The Braves will offer him 3 years @ $21 million. Of course, we will not hear about this offer until after he’s signed with the Cubs for 4 years @ $40 million. The Braves only hope is that he gives them an Andruw Jones hometown discount. Of course, Chipper could rework his contract to free up some money and Hampton should rework his. What do we owe him next year – something like $15 mill.?

  17. I don’t want Furcal back. 2 not-even-close DUIs. Something’s not right. It’s been a good run, but I think it’s a huge gamble to put big bucks for a guy who could have bigger problems down the road.

  18. The MLBPA probably won’t let Hampton rework his contract.

    Keith Jackson took the Hiesman Trophy from Payton Manning. “How can you not give it to this Woodson kid?” Please, Woodson wasn’t even the best player on his team. Jackson is an SEC hater.

  19. We have no one remotely close to being able to give us the speed and production that Fookie has in the leadoff spot. Or his defense, which saves us a bunch of runs (and only occasionally costs us one). If we can’t come up with anyone (and don’t give me Giles), we really, really need to resign him.

  20. I don’t understand the obssession with “leadoff skills”, but maybe that’s why they’re the baseball people and I’m just some idiot with an internet connection.

    But, seriously, Giles’ on-base and extra-base abilities seem like a pretty good replacement for the mediocre on-base abilities and speed of Furcal. But Cox doesn’t like Giles leading off, so that won’t work anyway.

  21. PLAYER RUNS PA SB% OBP
    FURCAL 72 515 83 .334
    GILES 77 470 81 .385

    Let’s see… Marcus has more runs, in fewer plate appearances. His stolen base percentage is all of two points off, so a successful try by him or an unsuccessful one by Furcal would flip them.

    “Leadoff skills”? To me, if there is such a thing as “leadoff skills”, “getting on base” is the central skill. And Furcal’s OBP is three points better than Ryan Langerhans’. It’s lower than Betemit’s, or McCann’s, or Jeff No-Walks’. It’s basically the same as Pete Orr, and Orr is faster than Furcal and is perfect (5-5) in stolen bases even though everyone knows he’s running.

  22. Oh, the yankees need a shortstop alright – they are just in denial about it. The best part is they already have a really good one and refuse to play him there.

  23. Mac, what is Furcal’s OBP for the summer (late june on)? I didn’t realize that his overall for the season was still so low.

  24. I can’t come up with a segment like that and don’t feel like working it out. Month by month:

    June: Furcal .311, Giles .410
    July: Furcal .449 (!), Giles .390
    August: Furcal .348, Giles .456

    Hey, when Furcal is going good, he’s a great leadoff man. But Marcus is a better hitter on average, and has better on-base skills.

  25. Furcal being on base gives guys like Giles more fastballs to hit. No one ever shows that stat, but I bet when Furcal is on base, Giles sees twice as many fastballs to hit than when Furcal is not on base. Giles is a great fastball hitter (who isn’t) and if he rips a double and Fucal scores, this gives Chipper and Andrew a cahnce to hit with a guy on second and no outs. That is what Furcal brings to the table.

  26. thanks mac. if giles can bring the same presence to the leadoff spot and betemit can play as well short as furcal and hit as well as raffy on avg., then i am all for letting him go to save money.

  27. Betemit will never play the shortstop position as well as Furcal, not in his wildest fantasies. Furcal is having, hands down, the best defensive season of any SS in baseball.

    I’m not necessarily advocating keeping him — I understand the economics of the situation. But before we make a decision, we should be clear about what Furcal is — one of the top 3 offensive shortstops in the league, and peerless defensively. Discuss…

  28. Furcal has clearly become an excellent defensive shortstop… or at least he’s have a great year at it. I don’t know enough to argue that anyway, but I certainly see no reason to.

    What level of competition are we comparing him to offensively, though? Reyes, Wilson, Greene, Eckstein, Rollins, Gonzalez? I don’t mean to suggest it doesn’t mean anything. I’m just not sure what it means exactly.

    If this is the designated speed guy’s defensive spot, then we probably can’t fill that without re-signing Furcal. It almost certainly is at the cost of a pitcher (Thomson?) or maybe even Giles. And it all but kills any thoughts of seriously upgrading the outfield – although I think going into next year with KJ and Francoeur is just fine, it’s a good place to keep an eye on for a later upgrade.

  29. one thing i bad at is stats, so i take everybody’s word on hear about what i seen watching the braves every night and what there actual stats are. to me, watching, furcal is exciting and great and makes are team better, and when he struggles we struggle. but if the stats say we can afford to get rid of him, then so be it. i just enjoy having furcal on the team (minus the dui’s) and watching him throw lasor beams to first. and as much as it pains others, i get kick out the little guy trying to hit homers every now and again. But if its a choice between keeping giles and furcal, i’d take giles. whereas furcal is exciting, giles is hustle and heart and is always smiling and thats great and we need that.

  30. You’re right, it’s not a stellar crop of offensive SS’s being fielded in the NL right now. I’m not trying to build a Hall of Fame case for him, though, just trying to provide some context to the question of what happens if we let Furcal go. We talk a lot about his offensive ups and downs (which are surely frustrating), but in the NL right now SS is primarily a defensive position, and Furcal is most likely the most valuable defensive player in baseball.

  31. I just can’t forget about how Furcal was killing us for the first two months of the year. I don’t want to pay $10 mm a year for that. He really doesn’t even steal that many bases. Surely an Orr/Betemit platoon would be better than what the Cards have in Eckstein. Most Cards fans seem to be decently happy with that shortstop solution, even if the defense could be better.

  32. I’m all for keeping furcal and using the savings of letting Thomson go to do it. We have a multitude of mlb ready options to replace thomson with, but can not say the same about ss ready talent.

  33. But those replacement options probably can’t include even Horacio or Sosa. That may mean two spots in the rotation for league-minimum guys. That wouldn’t bother me because I agree with you completely about the quality of those guys. Davies is ready for his shot, and I’m sure another guy can be found internally (James, if his head is on straight). I just wonder how likely it is. I worry about flexibility in general, but this team’s been running with a tight budget (even though it’s plenty big) for a while now.

  34. I think JS could make it work with Davies and James in the 4 and 5 spots, but I have a gut feeling that Furcal will want too many years. I don’t believe we’ll give him a 5 or 6 yr deal w/ some of the young talent we have down in the farm. I would bet we offer him 3 years if anything and he’ll want more. I would also agree with the sentiment that we can’t sign furcal if it means losing giles.

  35. I’m not trying to build a Hall of Fame case for him, though, just trying to provide some context to the question of what happens if we let Furcal go.

    Here’s the context: If we let him walk, we will be losing the most productive shortstop in the National League. When you consider all aspects of the game – defense, baserunning, offense – that’s what Rafael is, and that’s what he’s been for the last few years. Of course, that’s a huge function of the top shortstops being clustered in the AL, but it still gives us a big competitive advantage over our NL rivals. As Bobby said earlier in the year, when Furcal is going good, we win.

    All that said, I do believe either Chicago or Seattle will through crazy money at him and he’s gone unless he wants to give an Andruw discount.

  36. I may let Giles go to sign Furcal. I think the WB can play second. Let’s face it, he can’t play short, but I think we would do well at second. He can hit for power and average. He has a great arm too! We can slide Kelly Johnson in the 2 hole and hit Wilson 7th or 8th. Or maybe we can trade him and up grade the bull pen or get a corner outfielder.
    This would be our line-up

    Furcal
    KJ
    Chipper
    Andrew
    Francoeur
    Marte
    McCann
    WB
    Pitcher

  37. I don’t understand why we just have to face that Betemit can’t play short. I have seen him look pretty miserable there, but at about the same time he was looking fairly miserable at third also. He’s looked anything but miserable at third covering for Larry over the last couple of months. Does none of that translate to shortstop? I’m not arguing so much as I honestly would like to know.

  38. All right, I’ll be the first to admit that Furcal, minus his DUIs, has been one of my favorite players on this team in a long time and that watching him walk away to some loser club like Chicago would be very painful for me. So, now that you know my bias, I can state that we don’t have any better in-house options at SS. He is one of the best players at his position in the NL (he’s in the top 3 in OBP, SLG, and OPS despite his bad start) and I think losing him would hurt the club. I won’t blame him if he goes somewhere else for $10 million, although why would you leave one of the winningest clubs in the majors to go somewhere like Chicago, but if we make no effort to keep him, I will be MAD. Maybe Betemit can play short, but he does much worse when he’s in the lineup every day and he won’t be as good as Furcal for some time, if ever. I think that if we let him go he leaves a huge hole behind that we aren’t going to be able to plug without a lot of leaks.

    As far as trading Marcus to keep Furcal, though, um, let me think about this…NO WAY! We have one of the best 2B in the league both in terms of skills and intangibles and getting rid of him would be a HUGE mistake. Although his power is down, he’s not in a spot in the lineup where he’s supposed to have a lot of power, and he’s still #3 in OPS in the NL thanks to a really high OBP and #1 in BA (although that’s overrated). He’s very good defensively and he’s the heart of the team and a huge fan favorite. Getting rid of him to keep Furcal would be an AWFUL idea, no offense, Smitty. In a perfect world, I’d just keep both, but if I have to choose, I’ll take Marcus.

  39. Betemit is too tall to turn two. He belongs on the left side of the INF. There is no guarantee he won’t be better than Marte next year…

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