Other pitching possibilities redux

Okay, the Braves are going to carry seven relievers. (Why? Because, that’s why. But Bobby only really used four relievers last year anyway. Shut up!) Anyway, we know who five of them will be, barring injury: Wagner, Saito, Moylan, O’Flaherty, and Medlen. It sure looks like the secondary, or tertiary if you count Wagner, lefty will be Joseph Albert Reyes. Jo-Jo has looked good in spring training, and more importantly in about 42 innings worth of work against lefties in the majors has allowed them to hit .210 while striking out two and a half for every walk and just about one per inning. I think he has the talent for more, but I also think he can thrive in that role.

That leaves the last spot, which will probably go to a righthander. Last week, DOB mentioned that the Braves were leaning towards keeping Jesse Chavez (who still does not have a show on the Disney Channel) despite his early spring training struggles, because they remembered that they liked him when they scouted him. Naturally, I approved, but then he gave up five runs on six hits to a bunch of Pirates minor leaguers, recording only one out, and you have to figure that the Braves would have to notice that. At any rate, I had to wonder why the Braves liked him in the first place. To my eyes he looks like the New Gryboski, in that while he is supposedly “talented” in that he throws hard, he can’t actually leverage that into striking anyone out, and a righthanded reliever who doesn’t strike anyone out is worse than useless.

Scott Proctor has thrown only two innings of major league work this spring, and you have to figure that if the Braves really wanted him to be on the opening day roster, they would have used him more, as they’re running out of spring training to work him in. At any rate, you should probably expect him to be brought up sooner or later, probably the former. (P.W. Hjort also points out that if Proctor stays down for 22 days, the Braves control him for another year at the arbitration price. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing; it might be better to have the opportunity to maybe get draft picks for Proctor if he leaves as a free agent. I figure if he’s not good enough for someone else to sign, he’s not good enough for the Braves to offer him arbitration.)

Craig Wimbrel Kimbrel has looked impressive at times this spring, and you certainly can see why the Braves are so high on him and why they promoted him so aggressively last year. However, you can also tell that he really has no idea where the ball is going most of the time, and that he needs a lot more polishing before you want him up in games that matter. (One caveat to the “spring training statistics don’t matter” rule: When a guy has as many walks as innings pitched in spring training, mostly pitching at the end of games when everybody just wants to get them over with, he’s wild.)

Manny Acosta has been Manny Acosta this spring, only more so. He certainly doesn’t seem to have learned anything this offseason.

I didn’t mention Jonny Venters in my original post because I had no idea he would get a real shot this spring. However, the 25-year-old lefty, a starter in the minors, has impressed this spring, impressed enough that while more prominent candidates for the bullpen were part of the second round of cuts he was retained. However, he is probably behind Jo-Jo, and the Braves probably don’t want to keep another lefty in this spot. (Why? Shut up!)

Here’s another take on these guys. He’s closer to the situation than I am, certainly, but I have to think they’d want a lefty other than O’Flaherty in middle relief.

54 thoughts on “Other pitching possibilities redux”

  1. @previous thread

    Gordon is really not a good comparison. I keep coming back to Justin Upton. He had a very similar 19-year-old season and the next year he OPS’d .816 in the majors. Heyward has a better handle of the strike zone than Upton did at the time and thus has been thought of as slightly more of a “sure thing.” So while I agree we should be realistic with our expectations, there is definitely reason for optimism.

  2. Watching Jason Heyward work Justin Verlander was one of my greatest pleasures of 2010.

    First at-bat: Strike (swinging), Strike (foul), Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Strike (swinging) — Strikeout

    Second at-bat: Ball, Strike (looking), Ball — line drive single to left-center

    Third at-bat: Ball, Strike (looking), Strike (looking), Foul — flied out to third

    In all, he was 1-2 with a walk, and he saw 17 pitches in those three at-bats. His first at-bat was a 10-pitch battle that seems to have exhausted Verlander, so much that after Verlander struck Heyward out, he immediately balked Brian McCann to second and gave up a first-pitch RBI single to Nate McLouth.

    He did this against Justin Verlander, who just signed an $80 million contract, finished 3rd in the Cy Young race last year, and is probably one of the top 5-6 pitchers in baseball.


  3. one thing about all of these guys (outside of Venters) is that they are all walking a ton of guys in ST, cant trust any of them at this point. Might as well offer Smoltz a reliever job

  4. i’ve thought about this too and i have no clue who’s going to be #6 or 7 in the pen and imo, the pen will be a 4 or 5 man show again this year.

    on a personal note, i am finally going to attend an opening day game. in 26 years of watching the braves, i’ve never been and i’m thoroughly excited. adding to the excitement, i will be sitting 3 rows up, field level, pin high from jason heyward down the right field line. LIFE IS GOOD!

  5. I hate to say it, but I’m pretty much okay with the 5 man bullpen. If they’re going to be set on a 12-man pitching staff (which is ridiculous but whatever), then they might as well use 5 instead of 7. The last two don’t have any business being on a major league roster anyway (I’d rather have a third catcher for crying out loud), and so they might as well not pitch at all. Wagner, Saito, Moylan, O’Flaherty, and Medlen are all good relievers, and you could really shorten a game if Medlen could do a lot of 3 inning outings. I’m not saying he will, but he is definitely capable of being that guy.

    Could you imagine a bullpen where Medlen throws 90-110 innings out of the pen over the course of about 40 appearances, leaving the other 4 to be used only in one inning (or less) situations in close games? That would be a heck of a lot better than throwing Moylan, Saito, and Wagner day-in and day-out until they all commit suicide or amputate their own arms.

    Of course, you could always use a 11 man staff and have more match-up type hitters off the bench. Oh wait, we’re in 2010 and no one does that. Forgot.

  6. Man, the clock deinitely struck midnight on St. Mary’s.

    Rob, I like the idea of Medlen as a fireman the way you describe, similar to Mariano Rivera’s first couple of years. (Of course, he won’t be quite as good as it.)

  7. Venters reminds me of Adam Bernero. He’s impressing early and came out of nowhere to get a chance on the big club. I just get the feeling he may have a few good weeks if/when he’s called up, but after people figure him out it will be embarrassing.

    I’m expecting Chavez to get the last spot, but him and JoJo battling it out to keep from getting sent down when Proctor is called up – 22 days max.

  8. yep, lets just keep Conrad and Thurston…well on second thought, nah, neither one is that good….but wait, they are better than these crap relievers….ah hell, at least we have 23 decent players

  9. If, as according to the Freeman link on mlb.com, he turns out to be “Mark Grace but with more pop,” that would be a very good thing.

  10. At the end of the ESPN article, it says that Jason knows his uniform number, but is not ready to reveal it. Commence the guessing game?

    I’ve got 7.

  11. Well, how ’bout them Vols?

    Was at a Miami event the other night that was attended by Jeremy Shockey & Traci Lords. Guess who got the most attention?

  12. Saw somewhere, can’t recall where, that Heyward is going to wear 22. So I will go with that. Here’s hoping he turns out to be more than half the player Aaron was.

  13. I’m as big a fan as anyone, but I think people are setting their expectations a bit too high for Heyward. As has been stated, spring stats don’t matter, and his minor league stats aren’t guarantees that he will get it done in majors.

    The enthusasism about Heyward has less to do with his minor league stats (there are a hundred ways to put up MiLB numbers that good, mostly not by being a top prospect in all of baseball) and a lot more to do with the fact that every time scouts see him play they drool. It’s not what he’s done I care about, it’s what he’s going to do. And the numbers are only a small if not insignifican’t part of the story.

    It’s not that he hit whatever he hit that gets me excited, it’s the fact that he has the best approach in MiLB and several other 70 tools (hit, power, arm).

  14. When “baseball” people like Hank, Chipper, Bobby, TP, Wren, Leyland, Scouts and many more talk about this kids makeup and compare him to people like Pujols, I dont see why I cant get excited. These guys have been around baseball a very long time and have seen all types of players. Name one person who says that he isnt ready or that pitchers will find holes in his swing or have a long list of things for him to improve on. Look at what Verlander had to say about him after yesterday’s game. Everyone that watches him play says he has all the tools to become great, and sorry, I do get a little excited hearing about our top prospect.

  15. The guy is talented, nothing wrong with being excited. When was the last time the Braves have the number one prospect of all baseball? It was Andruw in 1996. That’s a long time ago!!! How can anyone be not excited?

    @23 Thank goodness.

  16. What is my expectation on Heyward? How about batting .400, 162 homers and 1620 RBI?

    Seriously, I am looking at Chipper’s rookie season stats. I think it would be great if he can achieve that.

  17. rookie years

    Chipper – .265/.353/.450 23hr 86rbi
    Andruw – .231/.329/.416 18HR 70RBI (400AB)
    Braun – .324/.370/.634 34HR 97RBI (451AB)
    Longoria – .272/.343/.531 27HR 85RBI (448AB)

    Why cant we expect something like these numbers from Heyward? Chipper says he’s ahead of where he was at this point. I dont expect the power numbers to be as high as Braun and Longoria, but I could see a mix of all these player stats

    .280/.355/.455 18HR 80RBI?

  18. Pujols was 21…those numbers blow my mind. I was only 13 in his rookie season so I don’t recall any of it.

  19. Not gonna worry about Heyward’s stat projections at the moment. Just really excited we have a homegrown player with this much talent & promise. He’s our RF now & that’s that.

    Go get ’em, kid.

  20. Looks like the last 4 guys for the last 2 bullpen spots are Chavez, Reyes, Kimbrel, and Venters. I predict Chavez and Reyes.

  21. Braves are giving the Nationals a good ole but wippin….Jurjjens looks great, too bad we cant play them 162 times a year!

  22. No Lidge or Romero for the Phils to start the season….what a shame /end sarcasm

  23. Kentucky looks like they are completely uninterested in winning this game.

  24. Every year there’s a team — often Kentucky — that rolls through the first two or three rounds, then falls on their face when they run into the first team that can take a punch.

  25. Kentucky is not really a great halfcourt team; their offense works to set up threes, but they don’t get a lot of other shots except in transition or when Wall breaks (broke?) down the defense one-on-one. Today, they didn’t hit threes and they didn’t force turnovers to set up the fast break, so all they had was Wall. He played well (someone’s going to blame the freshmen, but Wall and Cousins were the only Wildcats who showed up) but not well enough to win by himself.

  26. Man I love going back to Charleston to visit my folks but it sucks that they don’t have internet access. My daughters and I usually go to Panera but you can only milk a smoothie and a scone for so long. No Braves Journal for a week! Glad I read the past three threads though. Funny Funny stuff.

    So Heyward is an Atlanta Brave. Good. The right decision by the team because:

    The team is built to contend and win now.

    The trade,FA alternatives for the outfield over the off season were either too expensive, too old, too injured or just not too good.

    Yes, I get the 10 day thing. But like others have said here I don’t think we get to arbitration. If he is any good at all and given he state of the Braves outfield the last few years, that’s a low bar to hurdle, we will offer him a generous very hard to pass up long term contract.

    If, God forbid, he ends up signing with Scott Boras or something I don’t think we’ll see that last arbitration year. The Braves will trade him for as many prospects that they can get.

    Yeah I know that Barnes and Noble offers free internet too but my girls like scones and smoothies.

  27. Kentucky was a combined 6 of 48 from three at the Carrier Dome. Calipari, much like Pitino, relies HEAVILY on the three and breakouts in transition.

    That said, West Virginia is damn good. They are tough and long and athletic and have a superb coach in Huggins. Anyone that reads Chad Millman’s blog knows that a lot of Vegas sharps were picking West Virginia to win the whole thing at 10/1. They are currently 9/5.

  28. 39,
    The quote from MLBTR is:

    The Braves have told other clubs that David Ross is available, “possibly in a catcher-for-catcher swap for a younger backup-catcher type.”

    So the only thing I can think of is maybe the Braves think Ross is going to land a starting gig on the open market next winter and they’d rather take care of the need now and save some cash in the process. Makes sense to cash in on a career year, even if he is a win now piece and a good second catcher.

    Also, I guess this means the Braves aren’t too high on Clint Sammons. Can’t say I blame them.

  29. I don’t understand why they’d want to trade Ross. Wouldn’t break my heart or anything, but it seems like an odd thing to announce at this point.

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