Enter the Medlennium game thread: May 21, Rockies at Braves

If the kid doesn’t at least throw seven shutout innings, it will be a catastrophe!

It’s not that hard to find an outfielder, II: More expansion teams who had better outfields than the 2009 Braves.

Because they were in Ball Four, the 1969 Seattle Pilots are probably the second-most-famous expansion team (after the 1962 Mets). Some of the guys in the book were actually pretty good, especially Mike Hegan, who when he played (he got into only 95 games) had a .427 OBP. Wayne Comer was pretty good in center; Tommy Davis and Tennis Ball Head Hovley were mediocre, but (say it together) mediocre is a lot better than what the Braves are getting!

The 1969 Royals had an outfield of Lou Piniella, Bob Oliver, and Pat Kelly, all of whom were decent; Piniella won the Rookie of the Year. They also had a good fourth outfielder, Ed Kirkpatrick.

The best player in expansion history surely must be Rusty Staub on the 1969 Expos. Staub was just 25 and freed from the Astrodome (where he’d managed to make two All-Star teams anyway) he had his finest year, one that would have received MVP consideration on a real ballclub. The Expos also had the old M-Brave Mack Jones doing fine work in left, and utility player Ron Fairly was excellent. They didn’t really have a centerfielder until they traded for Adolfo Phillips, and he stunk, though he was still better than Francoeur.

I think that the 1969 Padres must be the least memorable of expansion teams, or at least I can never remember them. (I was negative two at the time, but that’s no excuse.) They had a donut outfield, with strong hitters in the corners in Al Ferrara and Downtown Ollie Brown, but Cito Gaston in center was terrible. He’d have some good years later on. (It is fairly common on expansion teams and the equivalent to have strong play in the corners and poor play at the premium defensive positions, because there are lots of guys who can hit some and lots of gloves, but guys who can hit and field are rare. In other words, you can usually find a bat to stash in left field.)

The 1977 Mariners had an extremely unusual expansion player, almost as unusual as Staub, in Ruppert Jones, a 22-year-old centerfielder with All-Star ability that the Royals for some reason (maybe that they already had Amos Otis, Al Cowens, Hal McRae, and Willie Wilson) left exposed for the expansion draft. Jones did make the All-Star team that year (and once more in his career); he was one of those guys who always seemed disappointing but had some good years. Leroy Stanton in right was a more typical expansion player, a slugger who’d be out of the league in a couple of years, but had a big year. Steve Braun in left was poor, but (all together now!) a lot better than what the Braves are trotting out.

The 1977 Blue Jays were another donut team; they didn’t really have a centerfielder at all; the one Baseball-Reference lists there got into sixty games and hit .216/.246/.264, which was bad even then. They did have a pretty good right fielder in Otto Velez, a mediocre-to-poor (better than Francoeur!) left fielder in Al Woods, and a good utility man in Bob Bailor who played 63 games in the outfield.

128 thoughts on “Enter the Medlennium game thread: May 21, Rockies at Braves”

  1. I generally won’t write up a pitcher before his first start, because I don’t know if he’s going to stick — or much about him, really.

  2. 3–you might be on to something except try it the other way around–Francoeur has bombed in RF so maybe we can make him a pitcher–the one decent tool he has is his arm so why not–he might even be a decent hitting pitcher

  3. #4 – yes he is

    Its games like this that can really take a toll on our bullpen. Throwing Medlen (who might go 7 innings) and then KK vs toronto is a reason why Bobby shouldnt have gone to the pen so early last night. We’re playing 23 straight or something like that

  4. If he hadn’t gone to the pen we would complained that Javy was throwing too many innings. We’ve got like 5 trillion useless long relief pitchers on our roster, I don’t see the harm in using them in a blowout.

  5. Posted at the end of the last thread:

    I think if we had someone pitching tonight who had been here the whole series and was a regular member of our team, Helton would probably get one thrown at him, or at least in his general direction (I remember when Ramirez threw a ball five feet behind Erstad the day after he ran over Johnny Estrada and everyone acted all proud that Horacio had “stood up for his teammate” by throwing a ball closer to the Angels’ on-deck hitter than to Erstad.) But with Medlen pitching tonight, I really don’t think we’re gonna see anything unless we have more people get hit tonight. Medlen isn’t gonna want to get thrown out of his Major League debut and the team isn’t goint to ask that of him.

    I’ve never been really sure how much value we can get for KJ. I’ve generally thought that what we would get for him probably wasn’t worth the chance of him blossoming the year after he left. If we could package him with someone else and get something worthwhile, I’d be OK with that, but we really can’t do that right now with Infante hurt. He should be back before the trade deadline, though. I’m still not sure I trust Prado with the everyday 2B job.

  6. csg – I don’t think Cox did anything wrong in going to the pen early last night. Reyes accounted for one of those innings and he’ll go to the DL (or whatever). The other 3 innings went to Bennett and Carlyle. Carlyle will probably be optioned to Richmond when Campillo gets back, so that leaves us two innings by a reliever who may actually be on the team during the next week. As many innings as Vasquez has worked, a little rest should help him.

  7. @6 – Bobby went to his pen b/c Vasquez was sitting on the bench for about 45 minutes for one inning. The only reason he went 5 was so that he would be credited with the win, count it.

  8. yeah you guys are right, I just normally hate Bobby’s way of using our relievers. I was searching for something

  9. csg – can’t blame you there. Look for Cox to demonstrate his horrible bullpen management skills tonight or tomorrow.

  10. Mack Jones also played at least one and maybe two years in Atlanta. He had Andruw disease–good power but would swing at anything down and away.

    I would be very surprised if Medlen goes more than five even if he pitches well.

  11. Will Medlen be on a pitch count? And who else was surprised that after Carlyle gave up the run that Gonzo wasn’t warming up?

  12. Egad, I just saw the close-up of Medlen on the Braves’ official site. He looks even younger than Lillibridge does!

  13. Dear Frank Wren:

    Please read your “How To Be A Baseball GM For Idiots” book by Jim Bowden and trade some of our pitching away for some quality outfielders.

  14. FWIW, Jose Reyes has tendonitis behind his kneecap. He’s “day-to-day,” no DL for now, but he may not play in Boston this weekend.

    BTW, we gotta do some rooting for the Red Sox & Yanks this weekend.

  15. Its hard to call him trade bait at this point.

    If he comes in and throws with an ERA under 2 how do you send him down? How do you part with him? My concern is that he’s been in a strange schedule since getting the news he was getting called up.

    I hope he does well. I know what Tom Glavine is going to give me when he returns. And other than being sentimental; I don’t really want that.

    The Medlen Era Begins

  16. I hope he goes out and throws 6 shutout innings and makes one more great start then we move him and Frenchy for a right fielder.

    We have a ton of pitching. We need a bat. Someone will over pay for young pitching.

  17. @16 – Yes

    @17

    I’m just reaching the point where the the birth dates of the players on the team are getting younger than me. It is depressing as hell.

  18. I’ve been at the point where the players are younger than me for a decade now. You sort of get used to it.

  19. I’ve only got a handful of guys older than I am left… Chipper, Lowe, Norton, Ganderson, KK. It’s when I start seeing guys on the roster who were born after I left High school that I’ll get really depressed (that gives me at least 5 years I hope… Julio Teheran is the closest I see in our system as he was born in 91, and I escaped HS in 94).

  20. Well, I’m at the point for the first time where the President of the United States is younger than me so . . .

  21. if they plan on keeping Medlen just like they plan on keeping Hanson, why call him up this early. Arent they just starting his clock early? Just like they are trying to avoid with Hanson? Seems like the only reason he’s up here is to showcase him. I hope he’s great for either trade purposes or long term purposes

  22. I remember being amazed when someone my age or younger was playing professional sports, now I am amazed when someone older then me is.

  23. csg, one reason may be that Medlen is a possibility for the pen if he doesn’t pan out as well as a starter? Can’t say for sure, but I’d guess it’s mainly because the division is close enough they don’t want to leave it up to Morton, so they’ve decided to gamble on somebody’s clock and Medlen won the flip (or at least he’s not as highly touted as Tommy so they figure it’s better to start it on the guy who is great, but not “the best”).

  24. “if they plan on keeping Medlen just like they plan on keeping Hanson, why call him up this early. Arent they just starting his clock early?”

    Maybe they figure they can send medlin down again, for a few weeks, based on projected performance, but once hanson is here, he is here to stay.

  25. In ’87 (obviously not in a pennant race) the Braves called up Pete Smith two months before Glavine, though I guess it’s possible that they thought more highly of Smith.

  26. The White Sox just scratched out an unearned run to cut the deficit to 19. This game should make for some good Ozzie quotes.

  27. Based on Jayson Stark’s article it looks like the Indians are the team we need to match up with.

    “You should also remember that this is a team overstuffed with outfield depth, with Ben Francisco, Matt LaPorta, Trevor Crowe, Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo all positioned to battle for playing time on either side of Grady Sizemore within the next year. And there are indications the Indians also would talk about dealing off some of that depth for the right arm, or arms.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&page=rumblings090521

  28. @39

    I was asking b/c I don’t recall him being a douchebag while he was playing with the Sox or the Braves.

  29. Ethan, according to Jayson Stark, even if the Peavy deal goes down, Kenny Williams will listen on Dye.

  30. at 27, csg

    Absent the decision being one driven by irrationality, I think I understand the “Medlen up / Hanson not” logic.

    The channels are saying that Medlen commands his pitches precisely. All 4. He won’t gain velocity. So, the next test for him IS Major League batters.

    I think the FO thinks that either Campillo or Glavine will be able to fill spot 5 (I am not so sure) and that Campillo lets them jettison either Bennett or Carlyle.

    Meanwhile, Hanson’s only problem is command. More repetitions and more scrutiny of his delivery can improve that. And, you don’t want him scared to alter things to work on that command (that he won’t do at AAA, but might do at ML level).

    So, I still think we see Hanson around June 10 (a little depending on Glavine) and Medlen will take out the “winner” of the Carlyle / Bennett race “to AAA or unemployment”.

    The remaining thing is that “Super 2 arb” is a lot less likely for Medlen than for Hanson. And if that is the price they pay for bringing Medlen up, that will be a price that they will be proud and glad to pay. (Cliff’s theorem is that the best money a ML team pays is the difference between ML minimum and “super 2 arb”. The extra production that represents far offsets it.)

  31. But can anybody tell me why they brought up Medlen instead of Morton? THAT is what I can’t figure.

    Maybe the same thing. That there is more left to improve on Charlie than on Medlen.

  32. Shin-Soo Choo has looked good so far, but if the Indians have so much OF depth, they won’t be interested in Francoeur. Do we have to throw in an extra prospect in order to get rid of Francoeur?

  33. I think even with the Royals, Francoeur would be considered nothing other than a “throw in.”

    FO has to send him down and find somebody who might get him to salvage some value. He will be non tendered at the end of the year unless something changes dramatically.

    The pitcher idea may not be so far fetched. He brings it awfully hard and fairly accurately.

  34. I’m having some health issues — nothing serious, just side effects, which hopefully will go away soon — so will probably go to bed early. Meaning: morning recap!

  35. It doesn’t seem like a big mystery to me why Medlen is up. He was pitching great at AAA and gives the Braves the best chance to win games plus he can just move to the bullpen in a few weeks if Glavine actually returns.

  36. Under the things that amuse probably only me file: in relief of Greinke today, the Royals went with HoRam, Juan Cruz, Mahay, AND Farnsworth. That’s a lot of ex-Braves in ‘relief.’

  37. DOB with the lineup:

    Y. Escobar, SS
    C. Kotchman, 1B
    C. Jones, 3B
    B. McCann, C
    G. Anderson, LF
    K. Johnson, 2B
    J. Francoeur, RF
    J. Schafer, CF
    K. Medlen, P

  38. The latest on the Mike Hampton injury, courtesy of Will Carroll:

    “Mike Hampton cut his finger on a soap dispenser and could miss his scheduled Sunday start.”

  39. “Mike Hampton cut his finger on a soap dispenser and could miss his scheduled Sunday start.”

    Oh for heaven’s sake.

    But can anybody tell me why they brought up Medlen instead of Morton? THAT is what I can’t figure.

    Because Charlie Morton would just be Jo-Jo Reyes, part II. We’ve all seen that movie before.

  40. I cannot believe that Peavy deal. Stupid Padres. If the rumors were accurate, we offered at least twice the value that they are now getting from the White Socks.

  41. After the Giles thing last year and now the Peavy thing(s) this year, I’d guess Towers’ no-trade policy will be quite Schuerholz-like in the future, assuming Towers has a GM job in the future.

  42. Feel better, Mac.

    I would love to have Choo, but I couldn’t deal with Chip Caray announcing his games.
    Could we deal for LaPorta? Assuming that Hanson and Heyward are untouchable, would Morton, Medlen and Rohrbough do it? I don’t think Morton and Medlen would be enough…maybe Locke instead of Rohrbough.

  43. Yes, Heyman’s reporting Peavy vetoed it. Surely Towers talked to him before the negotiations with Williams got serious. What a train wreck that whole situation is, and what a chump Peavy seems to be.

  44. why is he a chump? because he doesnt want to leave san diego for the slumping sox? san diego will at least keep his value up (being a pitchers park). moving to the AL and to a team with bascially the same record seems dumb, especially if the sox are saying they will still shop their best outfielder.

  45. This outing was two batters too long… No excuse for leaving him out there after that second wild pitch.

    I can only imagine it went too fast to get anyone warmed up in time. Of course when you’ve got a pen full of long relievers its gonna take a little longer.

  46. according to game day, the pitch to helton could not have been any more in the center of the strikezone or with any less movement

  47. J. Parr relieved J. Parr

    Apparently Parr relieved himself on the field, guess that’s what the pitch to Helton was.

    In other news, I remain convinced that JoJo could have done this.

  48. Frenchy is 2-2, which is the definition of a Pyrrhic victory- each hit makes it less likely that his unproductive ass will be gone in July. Or September. Or ever.

  49. Let’s see…the Braves will come back. I’m sure they have at least 12 more singles left in their bats.

  50. Isn’t there some kind of an award for getting a WP, HBP and a balk in the same start?

  51. @80: That was 2 WP to be exact.

    I didn’t see the balk, was it legit, or one of those Balk-a-day-Bob specials?

  52. #78 Yeah I know what you mean. I never want to root against a Brave but if Frenchy even gets a hit a game at this point the Braves will interpret it as he is ready to break out prolonging the agony.

  53. Francoeur was unbelievably slow and awkward getting to the wall on the Helton GS. If you credit him for two hits tonight, I say he should also get -4 ‘runs produced.’

  54. Easy, guys, Carlyle had his uses. Unfortunately for us they were exclusively as a fifth starter when we couldn’t dream of making the playoffs.

    Seems miscast now doing… what’s his role again?

  55. The balk was legit – but it only happened because Kotchman was playing behind Helton at first. Medlen went to throw over, but Kotchman wasn’t there. It’s hard to know who was at fault, but it wasn’t a stupid balk. Medlen’s pickoff throw does look good: he looks like a shortstop doing it.

    ryan c – Peavy looks like a chump not because of what he did today but because of the way he handled the whole thing. But I think that Towers would have run the idea of going to the White Sox by Peavy before going public. The Padre regime may have seemed like a gaggle of bumbling fools before, but I still find it hard to believe that they would have a deal ready for Peavy without making sure he wasn’t going to wait 6 hours to veto it.

  56. Three triples by the Rockies today. That’s half the Braves’ SEASON total. (Frenchy and Diaz each have two, Kelly and Chipper each have one.)

    Of course, the nine runs don’t cheer me up much either. Or getting shut out by Aaron Fricking Cook.

  57. I like the message our lineup is sending Medlin, though: “Kid, don’t worry about that inning, game was over by the bottom of the first.”

  58. Is it technically Hibernation Mode if the offense didn’t bother to do anything first?

  59. No, Jeremy! Think of all the many, amazingly different, agonizing defeats you’ll miss out on!

  60. @88 We have been doing that a lot in the recent years.

    @87 We have to thank Peavy for not wanting to come to the Braves, and kudos to JS for never giving no-trade clause to players.

  61. I’m willing to bet that right fielders not named Jeff Francoeur catch that ball hit by Helton.

  62. can anyone explain why Jeff played so shallow to Helton with the bases loaded and two outs? Did he think Helton would have a bloop hit or a broken bat single? Like it really mattered, we had only 4 hits and Jeff had two of them

  63. we have 4 OF’rs and guess which one is Diaz

    .243/.270/.355
    .288/.369/.466
    .217/.342/.318
    .254/.291/.324

    Hansons line tonight 6IP 1H 0ER 1BB 9K

  64. Oh, by the way, we’re pretty much 1/4 of the way through with this season and, if the trend continues, our top offensive player would have 16 homers and 88 RBI.

    Yeah…

  65. Yeah, we are pretty much a quarter of the way through and the team has proved that they are a solid .500 ball club.

  66. “Meldlen has gone Ankiel on us.”

    On the bright side, this means that in a few years we’ll finally get an outfielder who can hit.

  67. Yeap, we outscored the Rockies 20-19 in this series…yeah, the split is well deserved for both team.

  68. Just in case you missed it, guess where John Smoltz did his rehab assignment: Red Sox’s Class A GREENVILLE! GREENVILLE! Oh the irony!!

  69. Ah, that really sucks, Rob. That team used to play in my town. Would have been fun to see him pitch against guys less than half his age.

    Frenchy is worthless, but that wasn’t an easy catch, certainly not one most right fielders would make. I wouldn’t expect Jermaine Dye to catch that ball, anyway.

  70. Glad I missed it….Hanson was lights out for Gwinnett County…I still think that the Braves are right to let him develop….

  71. Mac–Good write up–Steve Braun would be perfect for the 2008 and 2009 Braves…

  72. I was about to ask if anyone had thought about the possibility of the Braves trading for Micah Owings, who has been mediocre-bad as a pitcher so far in his career but pretty good as a hitter, and then converting him to the outfield, but I looked up his ’09 stats and his ERA is actually pretty solid so far – 3.95. It’ll probably get worse, though – his career ERA is 4.83. And he’s from Georgia! We do like guys from Georgia.

  73. http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/recap;_ylt=AnqPrX1uOqrL.DZa2f6k224RvLYF?gid=290521115

    At the end…

    “The Braves placed IF Omar Infante(notes) (broken left hand) and LHP Jo-Jo Reyes(notes) (right hamstring) on the 15-day disabled list and called up IF Diory Hernandez with Medlen from Triple-A Gwinnett. Hernandez entered the game in the seventh, marking the first time since Sept. 5, 2001 (Tim Spooneybarger and Cory Aldridge) the Braves had two players make their major league debut in the same game.”

    I obviously remember Spoony…but who on earth was Cory Aldridge?!

  74. Stephen, they should have kept Schafer in minor as well, but it’s good that they may only ruin one but not both, ha…

  75. KC–Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Cory Aldridge was an outfielder that the Braves were high on for awhile. He had some crack in his bat, but I think that injuries derailed a promising career. I think that Aldridge could have been a 4th outfielder….

    When I went back to look up Aldridge, I discovered that he has still not given up his quest:

    http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/A/Cory-Aldridge.shtml

    As you will see, 8 games with the Braves and not even a hit….

  76. Poor choice of words on my part….Cody Johnson continues to show a ‘power bat’–15 HRs…now if we can get the Ks under control…

  77. Chipper is day-to-day after reaggrevating his foot per Peanut.

    What ever happened to Spooneybarger? He dropped off the face of the earth after the 03 season. Did his arm fall off?

  78. Ks rate…that’s the reason I am still low on Cody and Hicks…and that’s probably the only light remaining for Frenchy.

    Whenever a prospect has such serious power, it always comes with a big hole in his swing. Such a hole may not be exploited in the minor. I guess I wouldn’t know if there is such a hole in his swing until the day I can watch him hit. We all thought Delmon Young has some serious power as well…what happens to that guy?!

  79. Per Wikipedia:

    He started 2003 in the majors appearing in 33 games before going on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis. Before beginning a rehabilitation assignment, he was forced to have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2004 season. On July 20, 2005, while rehabilitating, he left the game in obvious pain and later learned he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery for a second time. The Marlins released him after the 2005 season and Spooneybarger would be out of professional baseball for the next two years.

  80. A perfect nigfht at the park. 0-9, and Chipper out with a foot injury. Of course, his substitute is also out with a hand injury.

    Losses and injuries – welcome back, 2008 Atlanta Braves!

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