Promotions Revisited

I never actually knew anyone who skipped a grade in school . . . other than characters on sitcoms, that is.

Here’s a look at how some of the Braves’ prospects are adjusting since skipping ahead midseason.  For hitters I’m listing AVG/OBP/SLG, and for pitchers Innings Pitched, ERA, SO, and BB.  I’ll put the lower level numbers first, with the new level numbers second.

  • Brandon Jones  .257/.359/.420  —  .280/.336/.515
  • Gregor Blanco .287/.397/.375 — .299/.399/.347
  • Martin Prado .278/.330/.352 — .289/.314/.343
  • Kala Kaaihue .329/.458/.614 — .217/.327/.450
  • Matt Harrison 81.1 IP, 3.10 ERA, 60 SO, 16 BB — 36.1 IP, 4.46 IP, 29 SO, 5 BB
  • Jo-Jo Reyes 75.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 84 SO, 25 BB — 31 IP, 2.61 ERA, 24 SO, 16 BB
  • Will Startup 25 IP, 0.72 ERA, 29 SO, 6 BB — 27 IP, 4.67 ERA, 21 SO, 10 BB

Jones looks like the class of the Braves positional prospects.  I don’t really expect the power surge he’s experienced since leaving Myrtle Beach to last, but you have to be impressed with a guy who raises his slugging 100 points while moving from A to AA.  Blanco and Prado are more modest successes, in that they haven’t been bad since moving up.  Blanco’s .399 OBP and good outfield defense make him look potentially useful.  As for Kaaihue . . . you didn’t expect him to put up a 1.000 OPS in high-A, did you?  But you probably didn’t expect .777 either.  Remember that he’s moving up and that there are growing pains, but I am worried (based on his twin brother’s track record in the Royals’ system) about stagnation as he moves up.

Pitching has been an organizational problem this year, from Atlanta on down.  One bright spot is Jo-Jo.  His ERA is down since moving up, but his strikeout to walk ratio has gotten worse.  Matt Harrison, on the other hand, has kept his strikeout to walk ratio stable while seeing his ERA rise.  He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, and I think he’ll continue to improve with experience at the higher level.  Startup has taken his lumps in AAA, allowing infinitely more homeruns (3 in AAA vs. 0 in AA), but is settling down lately.  I expect a September callup for him.

89 thoughts on “Promotions Revisited”

  1. Why didn’t we try and send Huddy for Crisp and Hansen. If they need a starter and Huddy could have been a good pickup if they could have straightened him out. Maybe we did try it, who knows….

  2. I don’t really know what’s up with Stockman. After 3 rehab innings in Rome he was moved to Richmond, where he pitched well in a few outings. The last time he pitched was a week ago, and he pitched well. Not sure why he isn’t being used.

    I don’t really have any good guesses as to who we’ll see called up in September. The Richmond roster is pretty awful, as it’s been depleted of anything remotely useful (and then some) to help Atlanta. I guess Blanco could come up, and maybe Prado. Startup should get a callup just for the experience.

  3. I say we make big moves this offseason to load up on prospects again. We should make an offer to Andruw and once he declines, send him off. Send Giles to Oakland for a relief pitcher. Send off Huddy to anyone just to get rid of the contract. This opens up a ton of salary room to make the necessary adjustments.

  4. Kyle Davies is scheduled to make a 2-inning rehab start for the Mississippi Braves tonight. Hope all goes well.

  5. I say we make big moves this offseason to load up on prospects again.

    That certainly is the way I would go. The real question is what will happen to Cox and Schuerholz. They are both at the end of the road and it’s unlikely that they will want to end their careers going 65-97 while rebuilding. It’s more likely these guys are just going to want to retool and make another run at it. Unless they both head off into the sunset after the season which seems more and more possible.

  6. “What minor leaguers are we going to see come up in September?”

    Jeff Francouer; Pete Orr; and Brian Jordan come to mind.

  7. I went to Pearl last night and then got home to find out Kyle is pitching tonight… I want to go back up tonight but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to or not. I’m going tomorrow though.

  8. bfan, you forgot Todd Pratt, Jason Shiell, Chuck James, Horacio Ramirez, Tim Hudson, Matt Diaz, McBride, Scott Thorman…

  9. Will Startup isn’t on the 40-man roster. I doubt that the Braves will put him on just for a september call-up. The only guys currently in the minors who I’d expect to see called up next month are Martin Prado, Brayan Pena, Kevin Barry, plus anyone on the disabled list who’s healthy by then.

  10. I think Cox will stick around, to rebuild; I just think the game is in his blood.

    I can see JS leaving for a higher payroll team, if an opportunity comes up. I think he can be really good in that environment. I don’t think he has the acumen or desire to try and win in the mid-range payroll arena; that just doesn’t suit his style. I would expect a Theo type guy to come in, at that point.

  11. “The Ka’aihue brothers” – who do you think will be able to pronounce this name correctly. We could even get Betemit’s name right.

  12. Hudson has had a fine career up to now, right? He’s never had a season remotely resembling this one. What’s up?
    He must be pitching injured, knowing that the team is so horribly short on starters.
    Let him heal in the off-season (or shut him down earlier once the Braves are completely out of the playoff picture). Don’t trade him. If he comes back next season, along with Smoltz and Hampton, the Braves have the making of a fine rotation.

  13. He’s either injured or McDowell has screwed up his mechanics so bad there is no helping him. One or the other….

  14. “I don’t think he has the acumen or desire to try and win in the mid-range payroll arena; that just doesn’t suit his style.”

    Well, JS did pretty well in Kansas City which, as I recall, doesn’t exactly have the Yankees payroll.

    It’s crazy to talk about trading Hudson; just because you want to get rid of someone doesn’t mean someone wants to take him. He is untradeable at this point–do the Red Sox really need a guy with 5+ ERA pitching in a pitching-friendly National League park? If he comes around, then there is no point trading him. This is like Iraq; we are stuck with him for better or worse. (Is that too political? Sorry.)

  15. When JS was at KC, there wasn’t the payroll in large markets that there is now; I would bet, without looking, that KC’s payroll was close to the largest team payrolls around then, whatever they were. You didn’t have every KC good player leave for free agency, or be traded, after 5 years.You certainly did not have the disparities that you have today (ARod makes more than the entire payroll of some teams, and so on).

  16. Prado’s ops looks pretty ugly. Is he very good defensively? If not, I don’t see much of a future for him in Atlanta.

    Why are some people so excited about Stockman? 4 innings, 3 hits, and 4 walks doesn’t exactly shout bullpen savior to me. With the additions of Baeyz and Wickman, the bullpen shouldn’t be a huge issue anymore anyway. I’m more excited about the return of Davies to replace Sosa/Cormier/Schiell.

  17. bfan,

    Good points. But, in fairness to JS, he had the rug pulled out from under him here. He constructed the roster based on a $100 mm payroll, which is what the Braves had had. TW then forced him to slash the payroll. I’m not sure it’s totally fair to say he can’t operate with restricted payrolls because the structure of this payroll (a few players accounting for most of the money) gives him no flexibility. And, at the time, I don’t think anyone would have foreseen the payroll shrinking like it did so those contracts weren’t necessarily bad contracts.

  18. Marc-i agree with you; you are correct.

    And to my question of yesterday; how does the team in the 8th biggest city with a great stadium deal and a good TV deal, and no other MLB team within 600 miles, become a mid-market team?

  19. Strange thing about the Kaaihue brothers . . . they have the same birthdate: March 29th. Kila was born in ’84 and Kala in ’85. I guess I just assumed they were twins. Kila has really struggled this year at Wichita: .193/.297/.277. That’s a bad line.

  20. csg is right. Make an offer to Andruw and when Boras turns us down trade him. I say this even though I’m a huge fan of Andruw’s and particularly his work in centerfield. I’m also aware of the fact that his defense is beginning to slip a bit, although that is mitigated by his improved offense the last two years. So, rather than lose him, the ideal would be to trade him for pitching and salary relief. We don’t need another centerfielder, we already have both Langerhans and Francouer who are both capable replacements. Trades should also be looked at for Giles and LaRoche. In LaRoche’s case, the idea might be to sell high. Besides even with his month long explosion, he’s not that much better than the mighty Thor, but will be a few million dollars more expensive. For Giles and LaRoche, we should seek more arms. One luxury of the callups of Francouer, McCann, Johnson, and even Thorman is that we already have a fairly nice offensive nucleus. The key is taking the excess offense and channeling it to pitching where we need help desperately.

  21. Honestly, not really. Zito’s good to be sure, but I’m wary of anyone that Beane doesn’t want (Hudson). I’m not sure exactly who, but I would think that stockpiling young arms with high ceilings would be better. Sure, we’ll miss on a few, but if we bring along enough arms, we ought to be fine.

  22. What’s the situation with LaRoche’s salary over the next couple years? As it is now, he seems like a bargain, especially as he enters his 27th year. I would like to see him get a shot to hit lefties regularly, just to see what is what. If LaRoche remains cheap, then there’s no reason to rush him out the door… I’m not sure what he would command; he may be most valuable as a Brave.

    If a great deal could be swung for Andruw, then I suppose I would be ok with it (remember the SF-Min deal a couple years ago? I could be down with that), but I am not ready to say Langerhans is a capable replacement in center field – at least offensively. True, many teams don’t get the production the Braves get out of center field, but those teams typically rely on corner outfield and infield positions for their power. The Braves are way below league-average in those departments, at least at three of those spots. Even if LaRoche and Francoeur keep improving, the Braves need Andruw’s bat and don’t have a shot if they can’t replace it.

  23. I don’t know. With Smoltz and Hampton at the top next year (that’s the right assumption I think), it would be good if a top-line pitcher could be had, you get one. Spend the money and Zito, maybe Schmidt; Oswalt is in his last year in 2007, and was rumored to be almost sent to the Mets in a three way with Baltimore. Zito is different from Hudson, Beane doesn’t want to pay him. Young pitchers are nice, but then that means not contending in 07, and the division is weak except for one team. It can be had. Let AJones go to free up cash.

  24. Hudson is going to be fine. Remember at the beginning of the year when he was throwing complete games and pitching into the 8th innings on almost every start.

    Bad streaks happen guys, his career numbers indicate that he will recover. It’s not like you have much of a choice anyways with his contract backloaded in salary. He isn’t going anywhere.

    This kind of crap is exactly why I hate fair weather braves fans! “We should wait until andruw declines, then trade him” and i can’t tell you how many “trade chippers” there were earlier in the year.

    Not to mention a ton of “JS must go”, he only put together a team that won 14 divison titles.

    For all of those people who are saying we should sign schmidt or zito, no way! These guys aren’t going to bring the braves a world series. Schmidt is getting up there in age and Zito is going to command 14 + million a year! Don’t forget that in a couple years McCann and Francoeur are going to get pretty big contracts. IF you sign guys like schmidt and zito now you might not have money for those two in their prime, hmm that would be just sad.

    If the braves are smart they will sign McCann to a 3-4 year deal similar to what pittsburgh did with Jason Bay (4 year, 16 million) after next year. Do you have any idea what a young left handed good hitting catcher would go for in arbitration? Alot!

  25. Bobby, I like the idea of getting some additonal SP’s, but keep in mind we might be looking at another bad bullpen next year if we cant keep Baez or Wickman. There wont be too many closers available at years end. What I hate seeing is JS expecting everyone to give him a HOMETOWN DISCOUNT. That’s what has gotten us into this spot to begin with. If he would just spend the extra money, (like the $7 million we had available), then our situation would look a lot different. We have too many holes to fill and SP’s and RP’s dont come cheap…

  26. J, I think Hudson will be fine too. He will be fine only if he’s our #5 SP and only making $2-3 million per year, but he’s suppose to be our ace for the next three years. For the money he’s owed, I would rather see him pitching good somewhere else.

  27. We have a solid nucleus for next season so a sell off is unimaginable at this point. Despite all of the good feelings about Aybar I’d keep Giles. If thats the case the infield is set. For all of the vitriol spewed on Adam LaRoche he is having a decent league average type of year. Ok Chipper is only good for about 130 games but that is where Aybar comes in. The OF is good for another season if we can get a legit LF. Of the internal candidates I think that KJ has more upside than Thorman, Langerhans or Diaz but we’ll see. Francouer has built up enough of the traditional stats for the Braves to think that he is a rising star. I’m convinced that on base percentage doesn’t mean squat to this organization much less sabernomics. So although Francouer is a wash as far as his positive/negative contribution to the team he is assured of a position unless he gets hurt.

    The pitching……well theres Smoltz. And….. Gee Huddy sucks…. Maybe Davies and Hampton bounce back from the DL? Boyer? Ramirez? James? Chuck and Horacio are probably good enough to be back of the rotation but who will step up to number 1 2 and 3?

    Ok with the above paragraph maybe we try to sell high on Edgar or Andruw or flip Giles I don’t know. Anyway this circular argument brought to you by a frustrated spoiled rotton Braves fan.

  28. Frequently you see Myrtle Beach described as “probably the worst hitter’s park in Minor League baseball.” With Ka’aihue moving TO Myrtle Beach (from Rome) and Jones moving FROM Myrtle Beach (to Mississippi) that explains a part of the change in each performance. Does anybody know any park factors for our minor league parks?

    90% of the posters here want to knock JS. But remember the howl on not resigning Maddox and Glavine? Both were too far beyond their prime to be counted on. Except for WS game 6 1995, neither had ever put the team on his back in the postseason. The year before Maddox left, JS would have kept Millwood and let Maddox walk (which would have really caused howling), but Maddox played the arbitration card (maybe good for him, bad for the team). That one move by Maddox doomed the run.

  29. J,

    Just because people want to trade certain players or voice displeasure with team management, that does not mean they’re “fair weather fans”. A fair-weather fan is one who will leave the team when it starts losing to go root for the new winner. Everyone here is hoping for the Braves to field the best team possible.

  30. Giles is going to be making over 5 million next year, he’s gone! Rather use that money anyway for a starter.

    csg, no one is going to take hudson with his money he’s owed. So you might as well deal with it and accept it and think that he’s going to pull out of this “slump”.

    Smoltz, Hudson, James, Hampton, and Davies is a pretty good rotation. I just wouldn’t like to have Ramirez in that rotation, i don’t like 3 Lefty’s. He is young and talented, would be good trade bait.

  31. Stu,

    You are right, fair weather fans are ones who boo players when they are performing bad and cheer them when they are doing good. Similar to what braves fans do with laroche. Voicing your displeasure over management is different then FIRE JS, HE SUCKS, etc. I’m sure you understand that.

  32. Jay–Nice Write up, but what about Matt Wright? He was great at AA and has begun to show signs of improvment at AAA (after an incredibly bad first game–which guarantees his ERA will be high for the rest of the season at Richmond) and might yet be a September call up.

  33. Most Braves fans are fair weather and don’t know the game or their team very well. (except most of the people on this site.)

  34. Johnny, my thoughts on your ideas. I also think we have a solid core if we can keep/resign Andruw. We cant let him to go FA, without getting something in return. If we cant resign him we ship him off for pitching prospects and then try to find a replacement w/ the money we save.

    We have to get rid of Giles primarily for monetary reasons. $5-6 million is too much for the production that he gives us. Prado, KJ, and Aybar can fight for the position. Use that extra money to resign Wickman and/or Baez. I think KJ’s value will come to us as being a PH or Platoon somewhere, his defense is subject along with how his throwing arm will be after surgery.

    Pitching, well I agree totally. We have one ace and are hopeful others return strong. If they dont it will be a long year. Send Huddy elsewhere and try to get a Schmidt or someone like that. Too many holes, so I wish JS a lot of luck this offseason.

  35. Actually, according to BP, Rome is about as good a pitcher’s park as Myrtle Beach. BP’s three-year park factors are 928 for Rome and 933 for Myrtle Beach. (Neutral is 1000.) Mississippi was also a pitcher’s park in its first year (954). Danville is an even stronger pitcher’s park (3-year average 908, last year 888). Richmond is averaging 987, Atlanta 999.

  36. On a more positive note I just check out the schedule for the rest of the year:

    There are 18 series remaining this year. ONLY 3 OF THOSE SERIES ARE AGIANST TEAMS WITH A .500 OR BETTER RECORD. (One of those teams we are playing this weekend) The combined record of all the teams we play the rest of the year are 891-1001

    That really makes me feel a little better about our chances.

  37. J,

    Most of the teams in the National League are under .500, but that hasn’t stopped the Braves from sucking so far. I’d like to see the Braves win the Wild Card as much as anyone else, but it won’t happen. I plan on enjoying watching some of my favorite players on the Braves (primarily Langerhans, Smoltz, Jones, Jones, LaRoche, McCann, Aybar, and hopefully Davies) for the rest of the year. Anything more is cool, but unlikely.

  38. :), positive thinking guys! The one thing we have that most of those other teams don’t is one talent (I don’t see another team that can match the joneses, smoltz, mccann, rent, francoeur, laroche, etc.), two we have experience in this situation, three we have one of the best managers in the history of the game. Don’t count us out yet, IF we can sweep the pirates and the reds stumple a little bit we can have a HUGE series agianst Cincinnati this weekend! I think we still got a good shot!

  39. J

    We did the whole positive thinking thing in June, it didn’t work. Then we adopted players and that seemed to help. Maybe we need to start supporting our adotped players. Baez, Wickman, Tony P, and Aybar need happy homes…

  40. Smitty,

    It doesn’t matter what we say on this board, it has zero impact on what is going to happen on the field tonight and the rest of the year. Because of that I choose to be happy and positive about it. YOu can do what you like, life is too short in my book to thing negative about a sports team.

  41. Well I have a couple of leads out there, I think something may go down in the next few weeks. I feel better about it now than I did a month ago.

    Still looking though…

  42. That is true csg!

    I could send Bobby my resume. Though in my life of the approx. 15 innings I have pitched, I have only given up one home run (it was a grandslam and it went really far!) That may not be enough home runs for this staff. I bet I could get a hitter or two out with my 70 mph fastball! They couldn’t hit my change up!

  43. I guess so. But my back doesn’t hurt and I wouldn’t make up excuses and fake injuries. I would take my money and go home. Then get on here and tell you guys how cool it was to play in a big league game. Then I would tell you all the locker room gossip.

  44. I think its going to be very interesting to see Sosa pitch for the Cardinals. If they can change him around it will show us how good or bad McDowell really is. I’m not sold on him as a pitching coach just yet…

  45. I think our pitching problems is a result that we have had too many guys getting hurt. I think Boyer and Hampton are big losses. Having Thomson go down sort of hurt. Davies probably would have been better that Sheill and James have been

  46. I wish we could have sent Sosa to the Mets for Wright’s smelly socks. Then we could have hoped that he would blow a couple games in a row and send the team in to a spiral. Wishful thinking!!!

  47. My Reality: I’m not giving up hope on this team playing well the rest of the way. I’m just not sure they’re capable of it. But here’s a scenario that strikes me as possible, yet certainly optimistic.

    In the final 58 games, they go 37-21. That’ll put ’em at 85 wins. That’s about the best I can even imagine. That’s 9 weeks of baseball, averaging a little over 4 wins per week—not easy, but not impossible.

    Of course, the best stretches they’ve had this year are about 20-25 games, then they go in the tank for a while. No matter what happens this season, it won’t be this recent home stand that killed us—it was June.

  48. Josh Q, with the way their staff is over acheiving McDowell could probably win 20 games for them this year. Its unbelievable how good their terrible pitchers have been.

  49. It seems that when the hitting is good the starters are bad. When the Starters are good, the pen falls apart. When the pen is good, we can’t get a hit. I think we are pressing and need to start smoking pot in the club house.

  50. What’s sad is our home record is 22-28! If those numbers were flipped to 28-22 and we would only be 0.5 games behind Cincinnati in the Wild Card race. Good way to fill the seats at home…

  51. Mac,
    I guess I dont know him, but Dave Justice skipped a grade. He must have been more bookish than street smart though, because anyone with a modicum of native intelligence wouldnt have dumped Haley Berry.

  52. I think we all know how frustrating this team has been. We’ve had a year without a breakout player with a big effect on the team. Sure LaRoche is having a career year, but his impact is overshadowed by the decline of people like Hudson and Giles. The latter are stars who are expected to play big roles on our team. LaRoche is supposed to be gravy if we have our usual contributions by the leaders of the team.

  53. Pratt should have been NEVER HIRED and Pena should have started, way not to develop the young JS/BC.

    Reyes needs to be given a shot.

  54. Many of us actually lauded the Pratt signing at the time. At that time, it seemed like a really good idea. The problem is that it became clear that he wasn’t working and JS/Bobby refused to Mondesi him early in the season.

  55. I like that-a new verb, to “mondesi” a player.

    I suppose we can also “jordan” a player (give an unwarranted roster spot to a player well past his prime, and then use the DL to free up a roster spot when the mistake is realized).

  56. bfan,
    You’re right, the verb “to jordan” could actually be used in a positive sense. After all, Bobby likes veteran leadership and will use roster spots for that leadership. The dl is, however, the most appropriate place for that leadership. So, as I’ve been saying for some time, we need to jordan Pratt. He can still work with the young pitchers and McCann, but he doesn’t actually have to suck in games. I’m thinking now, however, that we ought to jordan Hudson as well.

  57. Well, on the theory of selling high and not low, the trick would be to jordan Hudson and then have him make one brief start, against a lousy team, pronounce him healthy and then abreau him.

  58. Reyes may get a shot. However he is in A ball right now and should stay there until he’s ready for AA.

  59. Devine is having a bizarre year; he is striking out a lot of people, and his peripheral stats are not nearly as bad as his ERA. Once he gets his contorl back, he can be very effective.

    I have hopes for him in 2007. Unless, of course, he faces Carlos Beltran in July. Given their histories, you would be pretty much guaranteed a grand-slam in that situation, even with no one on base.

  60. Is he a head case, or is it physical? he is striking out a lot of people (22 people in 13 innings), which makes me think it isn’t physical.

  61. Let’s hope he just gets healthy and works his way back up the system. I don’t want us to rush him from AA to the majors next year. I hope he plays a good amount of time at every level and when he gets to the majors he will be ready.

  62. I agree, and if I were Bobby, i think I would yank him the first time he had to face a batter with the bases loaded…

  63. Ka’aihue is pronounced “kuh – eye – who – e”…just say that fast and that’s it.
    The best was when Skip Caray butchered it during spring training….it was sort of a mosh between his first and last names (Kala and Ka’aihue). It came out something like kalahuee.

    When he was introduced at bat in Rome he was called Isaiah Ka’aihue. I don’t know if that was a first or middle name or what. If he keeps going the way he is, he’ll hopefully be the successor to LaRoche. His defense is very good (maybe not LaRoche-esque yet, but he can go get it), and he can hit a ton. He looks a lot like Andres Galarraga (sp?)…..I think he’s even been called “Little Big Cat”.
    Just thought I’d chime in with that….

  64. One other thing that concerns me about Ka’aihue, and Jay, you may be able to address this. He was great in Rome, and has slumped in MB, as you pointed out. But it’s not his power numbers that are down….his average isn’t so good either. When he was in Rome, he rarely took an 0 for 4 night, and he’s getting lots of them in MB. Can that be attributed to the park, or would you guess he’s still adjusting?

    For what it’s worth, Jo Jo Reyes lasted all of 2/3 of an inning tonight for some reason. I saw 6 walks and 2 hits, so maybe that’s the reason.

    One last note, check out the stats for some of the Danville Braves. Michael Broadway and Jamie Richmond are having great seasons pitching.

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