What’s going on

Normally, I do (in addition to the player analyses) “other possibilities” posts summarizing, well, other players who might make the team. I didn’t do that this year, for reasons both personal and not. At any event, the only position spot that has been open is the starting centerfield job, as even the bench jobs have been secured (barring injury or trade) basically from the get-go.

I wrote up Josh Anderson some weeks ago, feeling that he pretty much had the job in hand. But DOB, among others, now thinks that Jordan Schafer has moved into the lead. There’s still a week to go, and Schafer probably has to stay well ahead of Anderson, but considering Anderson’s lack of secondary offense Schafer’s probably the better player right now.

The bullpen is almost always the most complicated part of the team to assemble, and usually the last that gels. Right now, things are unsettled. The Braves are deciding between two LOOGYs, neither of whom has been at all impressive; Rafael Soriano is hurt again, and the Braves are again acting like it’s a moral failure; Mike Gonzalez is pitching poorly. The options situation is also affecting the team. For example, Manny Acosta could get sent down just because he has options left. Anyway, since the Braves won’t need a fifth starter at the beginning of the season, they’ll probably go with eight relievers to start. I’m guessing:

Gonzalez
Soriano
Moylan
Boyer
Acosta
Carlyle
Campillo
Logan/Flaherty

But that’s just a guess. They might, for example, send Acosta down to keep both LOOGY candidates, or Soriano could start on the DL. It looks like Jeff Bennett will be waived.

91 thoughts on “What’s going on”

  1. The only thing I hate more than the shift are idiots who won’t hit against it… it always seemed to me like with a few hours of bunting practice David Ortiz could just about bat 1.000 with the drastic shifts he sees.

  2. I guess it would only make sense if people are complete pull hitters (and this opinion is made without reading the article).

  3. Seems like the Braves will actually keep both Logan and Flaherty on the 25 players roster to start the season. Therefore, I think Acosta will start the season with Gwinnett. I also thinking Bennett will get the nod over Campillo just because of option reason. Of course, I am guessing Wren will trade one of Anderson/Blanco and one of the bullpen arm together for some mid-range prospect to resolve all issues.

  4. Facing a shift may be tough for an extreme pull hitter.

    But it’s not as tough as trying to get a taxi in South Beach at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning.

  5. I’d like us to be smart about Schafer’s arb clock, but that’s a secondary concern to the product on the field. If he’s ready and he’s the best option, then it’s anti-competitive to keep him down.

  6. I realize Bennett has been bad this spring, however based on the larger sample size ofthe last 2 regular seasons, he certainly seems too good to just waive. Am I wrong?

  7. what sucks about bennett is that he’s not good enough to be a major league starter, yet he’s good enough to be an emergency starter/long relief. with campillo and carlyle as better options, and with the surplus of starting pitching in the system, he has no place.

  8. Is it time now for the cynics and pollyannas to start arguing about how the Braves’ 2009 season will go?

  9. Chief, dude – at least be hopeful in the Spring!

    I fear you’ll open a vein if Lowe gives up four runs and Francouer strikes out on Opening Night.

  10. Btw, congrats to Bama for signing what I think will be a great basketball coach in the SEC.

    Really looking forward to seeing how Anthony Grant performs. Would have liked to have him at UK.

    Why didn’t UGA go after him?

  11. @13

    I believe they spoke, but it’s possible Grant didn’t want the job. There was a possibility there for a moment that the Florida job might come open, which is probably Grant’s dream job.

  12. Bennet should be gone. We have 2 better options that could fill that role easily. Also, the only reason I see to send Schafer down to the minors at this point is if you want him to work on cutting down on the strikeouts. Otherwise, I would fear pissing him off. He did sound like he would be upset if he didn’t make the team with the whole “this is a competition” thing. And he has outperformed the others – by a wide margin.

  13. saw this on yahoo…

    Schafer’s at-home BP has grown dramatically more sophisticated. He used $90,000 of his bonus money, he said, to buy a computer-simulated, video batting practice machine, ProBatter, that is used by several big-league clubs, including the Red Sox.

    Punch in a pitcher’s name and the computer will summon his pitches, which can be called for by type or by programming the machine to throw randomly.

    “That thing is unbelievable,” Schafer said. “I picked [Johan] Santana a bunch, [Mariano] Rivera and his cutter, Barry Zito, [Roger] Clemens.”

    The number of bats he’s broken facing the best?

    “Oh, you have no idea,” he said. “[Teammate Matt] Diaz comes and hits with me sometimes, and we have a trash can full of broken bats. It really helps you a lot, but you have to put it back to Little League speed just before camp as a confidence booster, because you’re breaking all your bats.

    “But I find it gives me a great advantage in spring training because even before I got here I was facing 96, 97 miles an hour and already facing sliders.”

  14. Scary from AP:

    “The team on Sunday also placed left-handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis on the 15-day disabled list with an anxiety disorder(…)”

  15. Why do you hate the shift? I was expecting the link to show evidence why it was a terrible idea or something, but it provided none at all, leaving me wondering what the basis for your hatred is.

    It seems to me like exactly the kind of incorporation of statistics minded strategy that you statheads should be applauding. So why the hate? Do you have any evidence that, for instance, they give up more hits on the side they abandon than they take away on the side they cover? Or is your hatred purely reflexive and emotional?

  16. I think its impact is purely emotional and that the only reason it “works”, if it works, is that hitters are too stubborn to take free hits the other way.

  17. I almost think alot of people on here love the pull-type hitters and don’t want to see that advantage taken away. Just like alot of people complain when they mention Andruw Jones should go back to trying to take pitches the other way – they almost act like the announcers don’t know what they are talking about. Sure I hate hearing them talk about it every 5 minutes, but they are right.

  18. It’s bizarro day vs. Detroit.

    Ganderson worked a walk, and Frenchy sets up to a full count before hitting a two run bomb

    Is it stupid to start feel a glimmer of hope for Frenchy this season?

  19. The shift doesn’t even apply to Andruw (who, once again, always sucked when he stopped trying to pull the ball) because you aren’t going to put three fielders on the third base side and the first baseman thirty feet away from the bag.

  20. Mac,

    Late in Aaron’s career wth the Braves, I can remember a shift on him. It was more like second basment up the middle as far as he go could go on his side of second and still see the batter clearly, shortstop about as far as you will usually see him over toward 3rd and 3rd bsseman deep and almost “guard the line” over to the foul line.

    Part of the reason the shift succeeds is because IF the shiftee changes his approach, he will throw off his timing AND lose his power. Think about it. If David Ortiz gets 10 bunt singles in 10 appearances, that is a 1.000 OPS. But, in his prime he could achieve that with walks and ISO even with the shift in effect. Certainly anybody that could get Bonds to bunt his way on in the early part of this decade would have shouted “hooray”. That would have lowered his OPS by 300 points.

  21. @23 – I obviously wasn’t applying the shift to Andruw’s situation. However, I would disagree and say that Andruw started sucking b/c all he tried to do was pull the ball – not b/c he stopped trying. You can’t honestly tell me he stopped trying to pull the ball when I see him spin like a top and fly open in the batter’s box. The fact of the matter is, if he would have ever tried to hit the outside pitch to right field (since he can’t seem to lay off the darn thing), he would have been much more successful.

  22. I didn’t say that was why he started to suck. I’m saying that on previous occasions when he stopped trying to pull the ball, he was ineffective.

  23. Hope is never stupid, though if there was a situation in which it was, I imagine Francoeur would be prominently involved.

  24. @31: Shoot, lets sign him up! Hector Luna will be the answer to all of our offensive woes…

  25. Hector Luna, 2008:

    2G, 1AB (single), 0R, 0BB, 0SO, 0SB, 1CS

    One at-bat all season, hits a single and throws it away by getting caught stealing.

  26. I hope Francoeur proves his critics wrong, I really do. I won’t be pulling for him, though.

  27. @34, 35

    Very true both. Still, if there was ever a time for hope spring training seems a fit.

    Looking at the team right now, it seems like there are two main concerns. Both should be fairly obvious: The bullpen and the outfield.

    The main question with the bullpen is health. I think that most people would agree if the “big” three in the bullpen are healthy, they’ll be good.

    With the outfield, the question is that of performance. Will Frenchy suck? What’ll happen with center? How will the Ganderson/Diaz platoon shake out?

    Still, in spite of all this…if Moylan, Soriano, and Gonzalez can combine for 175 innings, and the outfield can be league average, I really think the team can be good.

    At least I hope.

  28. @39 I would add another ‘if.’ Chipper can’t miss more than 20-25 games, as we all expect him to do. He’s the bedrock of the offense and without him the outfield is even more exposed. IF all three of those things happen, the Braves can contend for the division. And I hope they do.

  29. it blows my mind when people say that wont be pulling for one of our players, no matter who it is. I may not agree with who Bobby throws out there, but at least pull for them

  30. @41: Thanks for some sanity csg… I understand if there is a legitimate reason for disliking someone. I doubt I’d ever be able to bring myself to root for Bonds or Clemens even if they joined the Braves, and until he’s done some major repenting I’d have a hard time cheering for Mike Vick. There just isn’t any case to be made that would put Jeff anywhere near deserving of that kind of treatment… hell, I cheered Gary Sheffield most of the time he was in ATL, even when he was loafing after fly balls and costing us playoff games.

    I still might have missed some of his comments from last year, but even at the worst they really weren’t exceptional when compared to most players… If you’re going to not root for a guy because you’ve heard a quote or two that paints him as spoiled you’re going to have a hard time watching baseball outside of South Williamsport, PA. (And you might even run into a few problems there.)

  31. Anyone who seriously roots against a Braves player on the field is, IMO, pushing the limits of calling themselves a fan.

    With regard Francouer, I think that what most feel/want is that if he sucks, again…this time Bobby/Wren will do right by the team and take him out of the lineup.

    This is much different than wanting him to fail.

  32. I don’t think there’s any way Moylan, Soriano, and Gonzalez combine for 175 innings this year. I’ll be happy if we can get 120 innings between them. We have enough starting pitching depth to be able to field a highly specialized, fairly talented bullpen, especially if Jo-Jo Reyes and Charlie Morton can get liberated from AAA.

    The real question mark, as always, will be the bullpen, and it’ll depend largely on Schafer’s learning curve, as Gregor Blanco, Garret Anderson, and Josh Anderson don’t have too much room to grow offensively, and it’s impossible to know what we’ll get from Jeff Francoeur and Matt Diaz.

  33. If Charlie Morton ends up not panning out as a starter, he still has the arm to be a solid reliever.

  34. @45

    AAR,

    I don’t think that 120 combined will be enough. If they only average 40 innings apiece, there will have been some serious time missed with injury.

    Gonzo didn’t pitch at all until halfway through June last year and still hit 33 IP for the season. Maybe 175 was a little on the high end, but IMO, there will be issues if it’s less than 150.

    As you know, those 3 guys are proven in high leverage situations, and the main impact if they are not there will not only be their absence, but also the domino effect it will create throughout the rest of the bullpen.

    There is not a legitimate closer for a winning team last year that did not pitch less than 50 innings. And most top setup men pitched much more than that.

    I agree with the sentiment that care needs to be taken with regard to past injuries, but there will be points where the game is on the line, and they will have to pitch if the team is to be successful.

  35. In a nutshell, we need an healthy team, which applies to any given year to any given team.

  36. per ESPN Insider Rumor Central:

    Dodgers have offered Ohman 1 million. Pirates have withdrawn their offer.

    If we think we can contend, don’t we HAVE to throw 1.2 to 1.5 on the table? (and if not, again, this is why the Braves should not have signed Glavine.)

  37. No Joshua, there is a significant minority of the crowd here that has a real problem with the Ross signing. In hindsight, he may have been paid a little more than market. However he is a plus defender (mainly arm) and a plus hitter for a catcher (fair walks and some pop).

    IF McCann and Sammons were both healthy all year, Ross might be an expensive upgrade over Sammons. But catchers are likely to get hurt. Plus, after Sammons (with Flowers traded) there are no credible major league catchers in the organization.

    Therefore, I do not consider Ross a bad signing at all (at least o.k., and it will look like genius if McCann goes down for any length of time). I do think that signing Glavine was bad not because of what the worst could be, but because the best would be so little better other internal options. The “last man standing” from Campillo, Jo Jo, Morton, Bennett, and Carlyle could likely do as well as Glavine. Further, there are only about 6, 5th starter starts before “non arb- eligible magic day” (about June 10) which then brings Hanson plausibly into the discussion. By then, if a hole doesn’t show in Hanson’s game, he could easily surpass Glavine’s best case scenario.

  38. where do you guys think the CF position stands? I think Blanco hitting .118 in his 17 AB’s will be in AAA. He’s once again, not in the starting lineup today. Schaefer has done everything right and you’d have to think there would be some kind of letdown by sending him to AAA. He’s earned the position and I think they’ll give it to him

  39. @45 & 47: If Moylan is healthy enough to be on the Opening Day roster, and can stay healthy through the year, I think we’ll shoot for at least 75 innings out of him. If Soriano stays healthy, (no laughing,) we should at least shoot for somewhere around the 72 innings he gave us in ’07 (that’d work out to ~$100K an IP.) Closers are a little more hard to pin an innings total on, but I’d say if Gonzo doesn’t get into 50-60 games then we’re probably not contending, (or the offense is lighting it up.) Even taking the low end of my projections puts the trio at ~190 IP, factor in arm fatigue, injury, and the deeper bullpen we’ve hopefully got this year, and I’d say 175 is a pretty decent “worst case scenario that we can still compete with” to look for. Though hopefully we’ll have enough extra options that we could even take an injury to one of these guys without missing much of a beat.

    @49: I really do find it hard to believe we couldn’t come up with an extra $1.5 million to offer Ohman. We probably could’ve saved somewhere around $600K by trading him at the deadline last year, but passed, so I find it hard to believe that we wouldn’t think it was worth it. I also found it funny that MLBNetwork’s 30 Clubs segment on Atlanta listed Jorge Julio and Chuck James among the departures, but not Ohman… let’s hope they know something we don’t. I actually like what I’ve seen from Boone, but it would be nice to have a veteran option… plus if we’re going to keep a deeper bullpen to start the season it would be nice to have Boone as the lefty specialist to see what he’s got, and Ohman in a more expanded role.

    @52: If we had it to do over again we probably should’ve waited to sign Ross, and the price would’ve likely come down like it did with every other free agent, not named Manny, that waited to sign. I don’t fault the Braves for trying to fill a pretty important hole with the best option they thought available to them though, even if it did end up costing us an extra couple of bucks. If they had waited they may very well have lost out on him, and we might not have had enough depth to make the Vazquez deal, which I think will be the coup of the offseason.

  40. @52: I was pretty skeptical of the Glavine signing at first, but I was really impressed with the game he pitched the other day. His location was there, and his fastball-changeup split was really working… he had a pretty decent ML lineup baffled at times.

    I really don’t think it is a stretch at all to hope for something along the lines of his 2007 performance (~4.5 ERA, ~1.4 WHIP, 10-15 Wins if he stays in the rotation all season.) IF we can get that kind of production out of him the signing was a steal. If not, he should still be able to eat some innings until June when Hanson might be ready to join the mix.

    I do like some of the other options you mentioned, particularly Campillo, but I can’t yet call Jo-Jo or Charlie reliable, and I think Campillo and Carlyle will serve a much more important role out of the bullpen. Best case scenarios aren’t really easy to express, but I don’t think its safe to assume that Campillo or Carlyle can do much better than ~4.00 ERA, ~1.20 WHIP, and they both have shown the ability to do much worse when stretched out over a whole season (look at Campillo’s 5.93 ERA in last 11 starts in ’08, or Carlyle’s 6.75 ERA in his last 10 games from ’07. Even when Tommy fell apart at the end of ’07 he still managed a 4.60 ERA in his last 11 starts.)

  41. RE: the shift.
    I didn’t read the article, but I imagine if guys just laid down a couple of successful bunt attempts, or even just a weak swing away, the opposition would have to abandon the shift eventually. Then they could go back to their pull-happy ways.

    RE: Ohman. Please let it be true!

  42. @56

    It’s not there. You’re a douchebag

    RE: Today’s Game

    Depending on your views for the CF job, it looks like the entire Opening Day lineup is in there for the first time.

  43. I think I can confirm that there was no such signing. I should probably delete the post.

    Morton on the DL with the always-popular oblique issues.

  44. Ive got Mich St and UNC in the final game, UNC winning it, but not in the Braves journal league

    Jimmy Gobble was just released. He did hold lefties to a .200BAA last year, but he is absolutely horrendous against RH hitters. He had 19BB against RH hitters last year in 14 IP. Solid against lefties though

  45. I really do find it hard to believe we couldn’t come up with an extra $1.5 million to offer Ohman.

    We spent it on Frenchy’s raise, remember? Worth every penny!

  46. We spent it on Frenchy’s raise, remember? Worth every penny!

    Hey, he has had a good spring training. What else does he possibly need to do?

  47. Frenchy did have a good spring and should get some credit, in the form of the right field job.

  48. Re:the Shift
    It was invented to be a test of wills. It was pointless in that context. Ted was going to do things his way, period. Maybe Lou Boudreau figured the yack-yack about it from the Boston sportswriters about it would affect Ted. No indication that it did.
    Mickey had the green light to bunt at any time and did in some dramatic circumstances.
    The list of current players in Dewan’s piece could care less about some dumb shift. I hope they scrap it.

  49. “David O’Brien

    March 30th, 2009
    2:31 pm

    THIS JUST IN: Josh Anderson traded to Tigers for minor league pitcher Rudy Darrow.”

    Guess that means Schafer is the centerfielder this year.

  50. The days of Janderson and Ganderson are over.

    I mean we still have Ganderson, but there is no reason to call him that now.

  51. Wow, so does this mean the Jordan Schafer era has begun? For some reason I’m all giddy.

  52. The #11 prospect for the Tigers may well be the #25 prospect for the Braves.

    Still a decent pickup for a team forced to sell.

  53. That’s a hell of a pickup for what Anderson really is. A late inning defensive specialist/pinch runner.

  54. From Millwood to Estrada to Villarreal to Anderson to Darrow. Another entry in an interesting trade train — each trade was basically forced, but each brought at least a modest return.

    I like Darrow — we can always use a hard-throwing bullpen arm with control, and better that he’s young and cheap than old an expensive.

  55. Wow, I’m psyched… I figured we’d find a trading partner, but I didn’t think we’d get someone with as much upside as Darrow seems to have at first look.

    I really wish Anderson could’ve stuck, because I would really like to see a real SB threat at the top of the order, but he just couldn’t do enough on top of that speed.

    I kind of wish we would season Schafer a little longer at AAA, but I highly doubt they made this move to make room for Blanco in center… I assume Gregor is now the 5th OFer (if we keep a 5th,) but this does increase the possibility that Brandon Jones spends some time in the majors, which is also probably a plus for the organization.

    Good Job Frank!.. and good luck Josh…

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