So last year I got assigned Jose Constanza, Tyler Pastornicky and J.C. Boscan. My editor, AAR, was so pleased with my ability to wrench some manner of amusement out of barely serviceable parts that this year I have been allocated Constanza, Pastornicky, Joey Terdoslavich, Jonny Venters, and Christian Bethancourt. (I think I may have been allocated Pena as well… communication with editors is not my strong suit… but let’s just assume somebody else has him.)
Let’s start with Koko. Just about everybody predicted him as the 25th man on the team last year. Then we got Jupton… that made him the 26th man. Those of you new to this sport may not know that 25 is pretty much the limit. So he got 31 AB in 21 games from which you can learn exactly nothing. I would note, however, that he has a career postseason OPS of 3.000. That doesn’t mean anything either, but when you’re asked what Brave has the highest career postseason OPS in at least 2 plate appearances (and, by the way, in AT MOST two plate appearances) it is none other than Jose. Somewhat more worrisome is the fact that he is now 30, and he managed an OPS of 646, his lowest of his minor career. He is no longer, in my opinion, the Braves 25th player, but he’s definitely in the top 30. That said, when the Braves make the playoffs and are out of players to actually play the game, he’ll probably be pinch hitting in a crucial spot – he’s got Experience.
Now to the Rev. I was considerably higher on the Rev than most of you, but that was before I saw, all too briefly, Ramiro Pena. If Pena is healthy, then I think Pastornicky might be the 26th player. Pastornicky had 30 meaningless at bats in the regular season, and was on the same playoff team as Dan Uggla. He’s still only 23, and put up a respectable 747 OPS in Gwinnett.
Bethancourt ain’t gonna play this year with two OK catchers and another bad catcher on the regular roster. He did hit a bit in Mississippi this year, and he’s still only 22. That makes him about the 27th player, and your starting catcher in Gwinnett. Let’s see if he can hit International League pitching. (Who pitches in the IL? I have no idea.)
Joey. OK… Joey actually turned into the 25th guy last year. His 926 OPS in Gwinnett shows he can hit whoever it is that pitches there, but his 581 OPS in the show marks him as either unlucky, nervous, or a AAAA player. 92 plate appearances is not exactly a large sample, but it isn’t future Playoff Hall of Fame in Two At-Bats Constanza either. He hit 18 homers in 321 at bats at Gwinnett. 0 for 92 in the majors is, mathematically, a lot worse.
Jonny V. I’m not sure why AAR wanted me to write about Venters. Unlike the four guys above who don’t seem too good at MLB (to be fair, some of them very young) Venters is a really good relief pitcher. He also has one of the youngest ulnar ligaments in the business – only last year it was in his thigh or on some cadaver or something. Even competent medical authorities and baseball people have no idea how people will come back, particularly not those who relied on the sort of three-foot-breaking how-the-hell- did-he-do-that stuff of Venters. Since I am neither, I won’t guess. If we get the old Jonny V, then we can move everybody but Kimbrel back a slot as far as I’m concerned, and actually hold Walden under 375 innings. If we get, say, Kameron Loe, then we won’t have him for long. Useful fact: Venters’ real name is Jonathan, but he goes by Jonny so people won’t think he’s as much of a douche as Papelbon – or me.