Not Exactly All-Stars

The Senior Circuit’s bums just dropped the game to the DH league, more or less as usual. The NL won three straight from 2010-2012, but this is the AL’s fourth straight victory, and it’s starting to feel like it did from 1996 to 2009, when the AL went 12-0 with one tie.

But our stiffs managed a grand two runs on ten hits against a team that Ned Yost chiefly assembled from relievers, and after the first five pitchers — Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Cole Hamels, Aaron
Sanchez, and Jose Quintana — the other five were all setup men and closers from across the AL. Give the firemen credit, because they held the line. Julio Teheran pitched a perfect inning, which was nice.

Baseball can’t come back soon enough. Despite the fact that the injury to Tyler Flowers could send this team back to its April depths, the All-Star Break feels like it gets longer every year, and I’ll do anything just to get baseball back.

Other than Julio, our boys aren’t All-Stars. They’re more like dim stars. But they’re ours.

43 thoughts on “Not Exactly All-Stars”

  1. So I guess the Braves definitely won’t have home field advantage in the World Series this year. Bummer.

  2. Two things I don’t understand on our catching situation.
    1. Why Recker instead of Lavarnway? Lavarnway isn’t great but he seemed to be decent and better than Recker.

    2. Flowers seems to be decent defensively, but throwing out 2 of 37 runners indicates otherwise. Is his arm that bad?

  3. Lavarnway isn’t in the Braves organization anymore. Seems like he had an opt out if he didn’t make the major league team by a certain date.

  4. The National League can’t even get home field advantage at the ASG. They were the visiting team in a NL stadium.
    Makes a lot of sense…

  5. If this matters, Recker has hit better at his triple-A stops better than Lavarnway has. There is an amazing amount of inertia in baseball that once someone becomes a major leaguer, one just assumes they are. The familiarity might be influencing the desire to have Lavarnway over Recker. Honestly, if Recker can muster a .700 OPS and call a decent game, I’ll be happy. AJP is no more rested than he was at the beginning of the year, and he really should not be playing frequently.

  6. Back to the value of Julio Teheran – here are the blind resumes for 3 pitchers (2013-16) with similar stat lines:

    A: 710.1 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 7.18 K/9
    B: 726 IP, 3.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 7.86 K/9
    C: 724.1 IP, 3.37 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.75 K/9

    Player A signed a 5 year, $110M deal this offseason. Players B and C have nearly identical contracts (team-controlled through 2020 for $39M and $37M respectively). Player B is two years younger than Player C, and consistently runs a higher Swinging Strike % than Player C.

    I’m not going to leave everyone in suspense – A is Jordan Zimmermann, B is Julio Teheran and C is Peter-Gammons-Approved #1 Starter Jose Quintana. Frankly, I see little reason to think that Quintana will clearly be more successful through 2020 than Julio Teheran, let alone any good reason to consider Quintana to be a #1 starter while JT is a mid-rotation guy. The downsides with JT are 1) he’s a flyball-heavy pitcher and 2) his average fastball velocity has declined down around 90 MPH this year, but on the other hand he’s been consistently excellent his entire career (with the exception of the first 20-ish starts of 2015), fields his position well and generates lots of free outs with his pickoff move.

    One might be tempted to elevate Quintana significantly above JT by giving Quintana credit for pitching in a more difficult home ballpark – but wait! B-R has Turner Field playing as more hitter-friendly, so that position doesn’t hold water. The only thing left, really, would be the AL-NL talent gap, but that would require proof that the AL Central was a tougher place to pitch than the NL East 2013-16… perhaps, but only slightly.

    All in all, my conclusion is that Peter Gammons is full of shit, and also that the excess value of Teheran and Quintana’s remaining contracts (for trade valuation purposes) are somewhere in the $60 – $80MM range.

  7. @8, Guardado pitched yesterday (1 scoreless inning) for the GCL Braves. He also pitched 1 whole inning for them last year. I don’t know why he has gotten so little playing time, but I suspect health concerns.

    @10, thanks for doing that. I was looking at Quintana yesterday and thinking how similar he is to Teheran…in every way except he’s an ace and Teheran’s more of a spot starter.

  8. I’d also like to amend @10 by adding that a perusal of PITCHf/x data shows JT’s fastball was a bit slow to start the season but he’s now throwing it just as hard as he ever has – usually sitting at 91 – 92 MPH, with a max velo of 95 MPH.

  9. You are probably right about Lavarnway. I thought he was better last year than a .227 BA would indicate. He did have a .705 OPS though, so maybe he was, but the sample size was pretty small. It would be a miracle if AJ could get to a .705 OPS this year considering his OPS now stands at .477.

  10. 13—And they weren’t even able to sign Flowers until they took him again in the 2005 draft.

    Speaking of horrors, do NOT look at the 2000 draft.

  11. @17

    Since 1991 we have really only had two first round picks* that have produced anything for the Braves (Heyward and Minor)

    Who has been evaluating talent for us?

    *Wainwright was traded

  12. @17

    But no one gave a crap about the 2000 draft because we had the third highest payroll in baseball behind the Dodgers and Yankees.

    We started to lose ground on player payroll in 2004 and by 2010, we were firmly middle of the pack in payroll, but the player development philosophy didn’t shift. By 2012, we had graduated Freeman and Heyward, and other than Teheran, the pitchers didn’t take the big steps forward. We traded 3 of our top 10 prospects for Justin Upton, and we just simply… ran out of talent. We didn’t graduate an elite talent besides Julio Teheran from 2012 to 2015. But we had been watching excellence for over 20 years, and we didn’t notice.

  13. By the way, if you want to depress yourself, check out the 2014 BA Top Prospects List:

    1. Lucas Sims, rhp
    2. Christian Bethancourt, c
    3. J.R. Graham, rhp
    4. Jason Hursh, rhp
    5. Mauricio Cabrera, rhp
    6. Jose Peraza, ss
    7. David Hale, rhp
    8. Victor Caratini, 3b/c
    9. Tommy La Stella, 2b
    10. Sean Gilmartin, lhp

    Not a single one of them plays for the Atlanta Braves 2 1/2 years later except for Cabrera. The best one on that list is a utility infielder.

  14. Looking back, the top picks of the 2010’s drafts reek of desperation. Just imagine if we struck out on Aaron Harang or Ervin Santana.

  15. Who would have been a better selection than Gilmartin? I see names like Joe Panik, Jackie Bradley and Jace Peterson in the rest of that supplemental round (60 players total). Bradley looks like a star, Panik would be useful to any team. We have Jace. Were those hitters ones that Braves fans were clamoring for the Braves to draft?

    The only pitchers I see are Andrew Chafin and Michael Fullmer. The latter especially looks good this year for Detroit.

    But otherwise I don’t see a lot of talent jumping out at me in the top rounds of that year’s draft. Looks like a lot of mediocrity once you get past the Braves pick at #28. Gilmartin had a pretty decent year last year pitching out of the Mets pen, so at least he has that going for him.

  16. @11 I saw the 1 IP for the last two years. Didn’t know he pitched yesterday. I wonder what happened. Hopefully he is good to go now.

  17. @18 – the guys who promoted themselves when Wren, Singular Arsonist of Farm Systems, was tossed overboard. Those guys were evaluating talent back then.

  18. The worst drafts I came across were 1995, when we only got Kevin McGlinchy’s 1.5 WAR. “Total of -0.3 WAR, or -0.0 per major leaguer.”

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/index.cgi?team_ID=ATL&year_ID=1995&draft_type=junreg&query_type=franch_year

    and the 1997 draft when we came away with HoRam’s 2 WAR. At least we traded HoRam for Soriano:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/index.cgi?team_ID=ATL&year_ID=1997&draft_type=junreg&query_type=franch_year

    It happens to other teams, though. As amazingly as the Red Sox have drafted the last few years, they got skunked in the 2010 draft. “Total of -2.5 WAR, or -0.4 per major leaguer.”

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?query_type=franch_year&team_ID=BOS&year_ID=2010&draft_type=junreg&

  19. On closer examination, there is more talent in that draft than I name checked: Trevor Story taken in the late supplemental round, then Josh Bell with the first pick of the second round. Brad Miller, a decent role-player for the Mariners taken right after Bell.

    Pirates had a really great 2011 draft: Gerrit Cole, 1-1; Josh Bell 2-1; Tyler Glasnow 5-1. They also took Trea Turner in the 20th round but couldn’t sign him, apparently.

  20. “Bell received a $5 million signing bonus, a record for a player outside of the first round, to bypass his college baseball scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin.”

    -wiki

    interesting:
    “Even though Josh Bell was adamant he would not sign a professional contract, well, money talks. The Pirates offered Josh Bell a five million dollar signing bonus, which he accepted, and this in turn changed the Major League Baseball Draft forever. It was due to this, and some whining and complaining by the Red Sox who coveted Bell, that Major League Baseball implemented the new signing pools we see in the draft each year.”

    http://rumbunter.com/2016/07/08/pirates-promote-josh-bell/

  21. It’s really quite the contrast of performance thus far between the first five picks of the 2014 draft and the first five of the 2015 draft. The three pitchers in 2015 (Allard, Soroka, and Minter) are killing it, Austin Riley is holding his own, and Lucas Herbert is struggling. Out of the 2014 picks, only Max Povse and Braxton Davidson (because he’s young for his levels) are performing well. And as you look down the lists, 2015 has two guys who are already big league prospects (Johnson-Mullins and Patrick Weigel). 2014, with an extra year of seasoning, seems to only have Caleb Dirks as a strong candidate to reach the majors.

    @25

    I do think that there’s some crappiness with the elder John’s being able to wipe their hands of Wren’s failures, but the GM controls the draft, and it’s pretty appalling looking at our previous drafts. I do see, as I just mentioned, a clear improvement in the draft process over these last two years. If they really “got the band back together” and assembled the Scouting Dream Team, we are far enough out from those changes to see a clear shift.

  22. @35, Braxton Davidson may be young for his level (20 at High-A Carolina), but he’s yet to post a SLG over .380 at any of his stops along the way, and he’s striking out once every three times at bat over his minor league career (285 K in 822 AB). Not sure that’s performing well, unless I’m not seeing some other stat that shows promise.

  23. When they’re that far from the majors, you want to put at least as much stock in what the scouts are saying as the raw statline. The Braves scouts apparently seem to still see a lot of promise in him, though he clearly needs to translate some of that batting practice power into game power sooner or later.

  24. @36-37

    I was trying to be nice. I’m a fan of what Coppy and the Gang are doing right now, but I wanted to try to stay objective about the 2014 draft.

    By the way, I think Olivera is going to be allowed to return to the team. I think his situation is different from Jose Reyes’, and I think they’ll chalk it up to him struggling to acclimate. I’m not saying it’s right, but I think they’re going to look at it as he’s been punished enough.

  25. From an interview with Mark Bradley today:

    Q: There have been three snafus – the procedural error over Emilio Bonifacio’s recall to the majors; Fredi Gonzalez learning he was about to be fired via an emailed alert from Delta, and the revoked offer to draftee Josh Anthony because the Braves didn’t have as much allotted money as had been offered – that became public knowledge. Do you worry that such missteps erode confidence in a rebuilding project that was always going to be a tough sell?

    A: Those errors all happened, we accept responsibility for them, and ultimately, as the GM, all of it lies with me. That being said, insensitive or not, I’d much rather make those errors than take the wrong player with a high pick, choose the wrong guy in a trade or sign the wrong free agent. The aforementioned administrative errors have nothing to do with the players we have acquired and nothing to do with a rebuild.

  26. Davidson has hit better of late. I was suprized they sent him to Carolina and thought he would stay at Rome to start the year.

  27. 39—Yeah, I found that answer completely unsatisfactory.

    In that same interview, his response to the Olivera question makes me think they’re not going to just write off Olivera’s alleged actions as struggling to acclimate.

    40—He’s not a busted pick just yet.

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