Two weeks to go game thread: Sept. 16, Phillies at Braves

No, we certainly won’t lie down and let the Phillies win! That would be wrong! Also, we don’t have to, we legitimately can’t beat them! Really, if the Phillies do make the playoffs, they ought to give the Braves a share. KJ at least.

51 thoughts on “Two weeks to go game thread: Sept. 16, Phillies at Braves”

  1. Another Stu Fantasy:

    1) Sign both Burrell and Dunn at $40 million for 3 years;

    2) Play Dunn at first;

    3) Non-tender Diaz;

    4) Ship Kotchman and some other stuff (including Morton or Reyes) for an under-contract, not-old starter making $10 million or less per season;

    5) Offer Smoltz an incentive-laden deal;

    6) Feature the following 25-man roster:

    Lineup
    SS – Yunel
    2B – KJ
    3B – Chipper
    LF – Dunn
    RF – Burrell
    C – McCann
    RF – Francoeur
    CF – Schafer

    Bench
    Infante
    Prado
    B. Jones
    Blanco
    Sammons

    Rotation
    Jurrjens
    Young-ish starter acquired via trade
    Campillo
    Morton/Reyes
    Hanson
    (plus anything Smoltz is able to offer)

    Bullpen (rough estimate)
    Gonzalez
    Moylan
    Soriano
    Bennett
    Acosta
    Boyer
    Ring
    Carlyle
    (plus anything Smoltz is able to offer)

    That would exceed the 2008 budget only to the extent that Smoltz meets any of his incentives, which I would think would be along the lines of what the front office would tolerate, budget-wise.

    The rotation’s really weak unless Smoltz returns. Given how crazy-awesome that lineup looks, maybe you flip KJ in a deal for a not-terribly-expensive innings eater. Any trade involving both Francoeur and Greinke would also be nice.

    Thoughts? I just can’t let go of 2009 yet. Not until it’s conclusively demonstrated that we’re priced out of some of the elite talents.

  2. AAR, I’m not sure you fixed it. We’ll need four outfielders if we’re going to field a softball team….

  3. However, since we’re talking about fantasy and not reality, I’d love to see Brandon Jones in right instead of Francoeur.

    I guess the biggest logical hole I see in this fantasy — other than being able to get Dunn and Burrell to agree to sign for only 3 years, which I would imagaine would be unlikely for Dunn and impossible for Burrell — is the idea that we can get a not-too-expensive #2 starter by trade for Casey Kotchman (who has not exactly improved his trade value in 2008) and a few less-than-bluechip prospects.

    Otherwise, obviously, I love both Dunn and Burrell, 3-year contracts would be perfect for them, and adding them to our lineup suddenly makes our lineup look pretty okay. I’d love to buy Derek Lowe in this offseason, but of course he’s another dependable #3. Durable, which is worth a great deal, but not an ace.

    The trouble is we’re just a starter down no matter how you look at it. Jurrjens looks a whole lot like a wonderful #2 starter, Campillo looks like a solid enough #3/#4, and Morton/Reyes have certainly looked at times like they could hold down a #4 spot. But there’s no headliner there. No Hudson, in other words. And considering how much Sabathia and Sheets will cost, coupled with their likely risk of injury, I don’t see that hole as fixable.

  4. I was just using the number thrown out in the last thread for the contracts, AAR. Seemed like a credible prediction, but maybe not.

    As for the #2, actually, I was assuming we’d acquire a #3 and have to rely on him as a #2, for the reasons you mention. Now that I think about it, though, Kotchman probably does have more value to the Braves than to most other teams. Ugh.

    I agree about Jones, but I think it’s more likely that we make all the moves I sugges (0.01% probability) than it is that Francoeur is on the Braves roster and not starting in RF (0.00% probability). KJ + Francoeur + something else for Greinke?

    You’re right about it being basically an unfixable hole in the rotation, of course. The idea would be to out-slug the competition. That idea hasn’t usually worked well in the past, for the Braves or anyone else.

    I just have trouble giving up when I had been so looking forward to the first offseason in a decade in which we had some money to spend.

  5. Uh, maybe I should just leave this alone, but …

    You haven’t included Hampton in any of the rotations.

  6. New Veterans Committee HOF ballot is out:

    http://tinyurl.com/5b35qv

    Of those on the ballot, I’d vote for Dahlen (on the assumption that this would eventually get Alan Trammell in), Torre (borderline as a player, borderline as a manager, no-brainer when combined), and oh yeah, RON FREAKING SANTO.

  7. From the previous thread (as it is still pertinent and I have a knack for posting right before Mac starts a new one):

    We still have to think of this as a two-year rebuild. It would not be good to desparately enter into a bidding war when the Yanks have so much money coming off the books.

    I would be happy with one SP and a right-handed power bat for LF, leaving some room for youth. If something else falls into our laps and we can become relevant faster, fine.

  8. You do know that we’re (finally) out from under the Hampton contract?

    They know. Some Braves’ fans support resigning Hampton to a cheap contract.

    Personally Smoltz is the only one I want resigned out of Smoltz/Glavine/Hampton.

  9. I don’t like the idea of trading KJ, our 3rd best hitter this year, in a middle infield position. If the idea is that we can plug in prado, I think you need a Prado to fill in for the 30-35 games that Chipper cannnot play, because of injury.

    Kotchman is kind of at a low point in value; I thought he was a really hot prospect at one point, but boy has he shown not much of anything in the show. if you could take some of Frenchie overswinging and put into Casey cute little contact swing, you might have something, for each of them.

  10. Except that even when Francoeur swings hard, he only hits medium fly balls. I am serious when I say that it’s like he’s been playing all year with a trick bat.

  11. New Veterans Committee HOF ballot is out

    I wouldn’t vote for any of those guys. I’d take Trammell and Whitaker over everybody on that list plus the next big mistake Jim Rice.

  12. Mac,

    I have noticed that. And at one point, I think JC’s props had Francoeur underperforming the expected by a wide margin (like he was actually at .220 and PrOPS was .265 or so). I thought when I saw that that I knew what the problem was.

    He is hitting those “fisted loopers to second” and the scorers are calling them “line drives”. But really, they aren’t.

    It is possible (don’t know the likelihood) that the difference between 06 Francoeur and 08 Francoeur is in the bullking up. He has looked more like his 06 self (and a little like 07).

    If that glimmer of hope is real, then he might be better than Anderson and Blanco next year.

    I am VERY down on Brandon Jones from what I have seen. If he can’t hit AAA any better than he has, he is a 750 OPS or so player. AND, he has shown me a TERRIBLE arm. WAY too bad to play right regularly and in the dregs of left.

    We have two Major League outfielders in our system. Schafer and Heyward. Beyond those, it is iffy.

  13. I’d be ok with Santo. He’s not a bad choice.

    I wouldn’t vote for him, but I wouldn’t vote against him either. If that makes sense. It probably doesn’t.

    Similar to my feelings on Blyleven.

  14. Lineup:

    J. Anderson cf
    M. Prado 2b
    C. Jones 3b
    B. McCann c
    O. Infante lf
    C. Kotchman 1b
    J. Francoeur rf
    B. Lillibridge ss
    J. Parr p

  15. If Jim Rice played in Milwaukee…he’d be Cecil Cooper

    Also, sorry to say it…but Jurrjens, though very good, is not really a #2 guy. I think he’s a great #4 for a playoff team, and a good #3. He’s pretty much as good now as he’s ever going to be, and barring injury, he can forge a nice career. At his peak, look for a few John Burkett-esque seasons. At his worst, he’s Cal Eldred. But for the cost controlled foreseeable future, that aint half bad.

  16. He’s pretty much as good now as he’s ever going to be

    Points for assertiveness. Since you seem to like comps, how many other 22-year-old pitchers can you name who 1) post ERA and K totals safely above league average, 2) didn’t get hurt, and 3) didn’t get any better.

  17. I really wish baseball-reference would use real tables and not these practically impossible to read imitation tables.

  18. He didn’t get hurt until ’95…at which point, it was clear he wasn’t the star everyone thought he’d become. He was till pretty good in ’93 and ’94 though…just not a star, and not as good as that rookie season.

    And actually, if you want a suprising (if not extreme) answer to your question, check out Mike Mussina’s first season. Granted, he was pretty awesome his entire career, its pretty clear to me that his first full year was his career year.

    Now this isn’t me saying Jurrjens is that good…but the precedent for having a career season in your first full season is definitely there for pitchers. He’ll have good years, but since he’s around the strike zone so much, he’ll give up his fair share of hits too (more H than IP this year). But he keeps the ball in the park, and gets some ground balls, so he’ll be alright. Just probably not the second coming of Maddux (or Cal Eldred…thankfully)

  19. The only reason one has to believe that JJ won’t get any better is that he is already so good. At least, the results are. It is hard to imagine him not improving, but apart from the stats, he does not look like an ace.

    I do expect great things out of him, but I would not want to rely on him as a #2 in his 2nd full season of Major League ball.

  20. Jurrjens is 15th in the NL in ERA, and there are 16 teams in the NL. How that equates to a #4 starter is beyond me. I wouldn’t want him to be the top man in the rotation right now, because that sounds like a good way to get his arm slagged, but he doesn’t need to get any better to be a #2 starter.

    Eldred’s rookie year was a fluke. There is no way you can maintain that ERA with that K/IP and K/BB data. Mussina has had several years just as good as his rookie year.

  21. Jurrjens is great at keeping the ball in the park. His other rates are just okay, but it takes a lot more singles to beat you than homers. He’s a legit #2 starter right now.

  22. I agree he doesn’t need to be any better than a #2 (and while we’re at it, I hate the designations of “#1” and “#2” to rate pitchers), which is a good thing, because he’s unlikely to better than that.

    He’s a #2 right now, yes. But good god, look at the staff he’s on…Hampton is the ace for godssake

  23. Mac- good point on Eldred. And sure enough, he suffered a regression to the mean the next couple years.

    Now Jurrjens, if you look at his DIPS-related numbers, has been almost exactly as good as one would expect. His balls-in-play average is .298 (league average is .290-.300), and his component ERA (which is based on hits and walks allowed, rather than earned runs) is 3.77…eerily close to his actual ERA of 3.62. What does this mean? He’s not likely to suffer any luck-related regression next year…nor is he due for a luck-related boost in his numbers. He’ll be the same…which is exactly my point.

    Which is not a bad thing, considering the other riffraff we’ve been throwing out there.

  24. And he might get better. Pitchers often have a K jump in their second full year in the league. It’s more likely that he gets hurt, because that’s what pitchers do.

  25. Sure…he might. I also might get a 100k pay increase. Anything is possible.

    All kidding aside, I don’t see it. I think he’s extraordinarily polished for his age. Unless he develops a new a pitch or something, I don’t see his K rate improving that dramatically. And even if it does…he couldn’t possibly sustain the HR rate, can he?? I mean, 11 in 176 innings is fantastic. I think its likely that jumps a little next year as the league adjusts.

  26. @ 42…I’m so thankful I missed hearing that while on my way from the house to the car. I can imagine it though…and with that Gregor strikes out. Nice try fellas but the Mets are in 2nd, so that’s always nice.

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