Barves Level: Epic

That was ugly. The worst loss of the year saw several pitchers not be able to get ahold of a struggling Mets lineup. Bartolo Colon didn’t make it through the 5th, and Josh Collmenter, Eric O’Flaherty and Matt Wisler both threw their share of gasoline on the fire.

Eric O’Flaherty is still more 2016 EOF than 2011 EOF. In 9.2 IP across 14 appearances, he’s only struck out 6 batters and has given up 15 baserunners, including 5 walks. He doesn’t have it.

Matt Wisler did so well he got optioned to Gwinnett before he could get his socks off. As of late morning on Thursday, there’s no corresponding roster move.

Dansby Swanson worked 3 walks, and he’s ever-so-slowly coming out of his slump. Tyler Flowers had 2 more hits and boasts a .918 OPS with not a single ball leaving the yard.

Just a real crappy game.

80 thoughts on “Barves Level: Epic”

  1. Wisler always seems so tentative, lacks aggression on the mound. He’s not a swing-and-miss guy, I know, but I’d still like to see him go after hitters, try to exploit their weaknesses. Does he have a plan? Most of the time, he just looks like he’s throwing the ball up there. I hope he doesn’t turn into a head case, though it may be too late for that….

  2. It wouldn’t surprise me if Wisler got traded for a high-90s lefty in low-A, and that should probably tell me something. We got Adam McCreery, who’s not nothing right now in low-A, for Jhoulys Chacin, so we really should get a higher upside player than Wisler at this point. He has good enough stuff, though, that he’s not worth giving up on. It is, however, surprising to see how bad Blair has been in AAA. He’s only had 4 starts in AAA, and 2 were decent, but the other time saw him not get out of the 3rd inning.

    Speaking of McCreery, A- and A+ now have 5 lefties that don’t seem to have any business at that level: Tyler Pike (who is now on his 3rd season in A+), Gohara, Johnson-Mullins, Burrows (who is 22 at A-), and McCreery. If you filled Mississippi’s 12-man pitching staff with players who deserve to be in AA, that could be one of the best pitching staffs a minor league team has ever had. Of course, no one would get enough innings, but it’d be something!

  3. Mackenzie Gore
    we are apparently not going to ignore
    his unbelievable leg kick
    already ranked Number One by Dan Patrick’s sidekick.

  4. There appeared to be a semi organized jeering chorus directed at Wisler last night throughout the 8th. It was prolonged and loud enough to discomfort Chip and Joe, get the organist pumped up in unusual spots and transfix the attention of those in the hi dollar seats directly behind home plate who were perpetually craning off to their right to not miss the show. The volume was significant, and sustained, thus the organist whenever possible. This was not just a few guys.

    Were you there? Did i imagine it? Some other explanation? If not you had to think that was when they called Gwinnett, poor guy, a kindness. His facial expression encourages this – a beard perhaps.

  5. Wisler strikes me as lacking confidence or strategy. He doesn’t have the look of an MLB pitcher.

  6. AA

    Phillip (Pied) Pfeifer
    his pitches apparently hard to decipher
    twenty one K’s in eleven innings
    eleven walks, convoluted beginnings.

  7. Stephen Hawking
    has again been tawking
    we only have a hundred more years
    said Coppy, thanks, that should be long enough to alleviate my fears.

  8. I was thinking Wisler could be a #3 starter at one point, then a #4, but that looks improbable now. The team saying they like him as a 1-3 inning reliever doesn’t sound good to these ears, either. That’s a Cristhian Martinez mop-up guy.

    Trading Wisler for a Gohara-type player would be a coup. This is an extension of the strategy I advocated last year: as pitchers develop and make plain that they’re not going to be core rotation pieces or backend bullpen pieces, we need to trade them for more volatile assets with higher ceilings. It clears an immediate glut of AAAA pitchers and gives you more chances to get the high-ceiling talent you need to contend. Low-ceiling talent is much easier to come by…just look at how easy it was for us to acquire 3 below-average starters for our rotation this year.

  9. @9 It would be awesome if the Braves could get a Gohara-level talent for Wisler but I don’t see it happening at this point… right now, he doesn’t look like a good bet to be a back end innings eater *or* a bullpen asset; he’s just (good) organizational depth.

    @10 Hoo boy, Howard looks like a slow-pitch softball player in that video.

  10. Now would be the definition of selling low on Wisler. He’s not out of options, so let him keep working through it at AAA. We ain’t going anywhere. He can make 15 starts over the next few months, and a lot can change.

    Interested to see what Freddie’s brother can do.

  11. Wisler and with or without Blair need three weeks off in Orlando to decide if they want to be MLB pitchers. They are of value to the Braves only if they go through a attitude rehab program emerging at Mississippi for the remainder of the season. The Braves need to assign a full time mentor-coach to the pair to develop three solid pitches each and the confidence to use them. They both need more movement on their four/two seamers. If their value is restored we can trade them.

  12. I guess this means that the Braves will play two double headers in NYC in September? On second thought, a double header there and a makeup game here on what would have otherwise been a travel day, right?

  13. I just scrolled through the stats of the minor league hitters in our system,
    Yikes,
    Dont do it.

  14. @25 I have my fingers crossed that the Braves trade Jaime Garcia for prospect(s) this summer. I’d also like to see them trade Colon and Dickey, but that really depends on one or both of those guys turning things around. On that note, I have faith that Big Bart is going to hit his stride at some point soon.

    @26 Yep, not a lot of promising offensive performances by the Braves’ prospects so far. Alex Jackson started the season hitting a ton of homers but has cooled off, and his plate discipline numbers (3 walks, 28 strikeouts) are scary bad. Austin Riley’s a similar story – lots of power, questionable plate discipline, shaky on D.

    I’d feel a lot better about the Braves’ chances of pulling off this rebuild if they had more legit position player prospects. Just about the only guys that project as future starters right now are Albies and Acuna (Maitan should fall in this category eventually). It would really help if Rio Ruiz, Jace and Dustin Peterson, and Travis Demeritte could make sufficient strides to be at least bench-level assets.

  15. But they didn’t trade for a lot of position player prospects. And they didn’t draft them. They were never going to develop several player prospects when almost every discretionary decision on an projectable player was a pitcher: Allard, Anderson, Mueller, Wentz, Fried, Wisler, Blair, etc. Of the projectable position players we’ve traded for, we’re 2 out of 3 (Swanson, Inciarte, Olivera), with several more TBD. By EOY, 4 of our 8 position players that are team-controlled were acquired via trade or draft (Kemp, Inciarte, Swanson, Albies), and in theory, DPeterson and Ruiz could factor in.

    They’re just going to have to trade some of the pitching prospects. In 2018 and beyond, you’re just not going to need Teheran, Folty, Wisler, Blair, Sims, Newcomb, Weigel, Fried, Soroka, Allard, Gohara, Touki, Anderson, Mueller, Wentz, Wilson, Harrington AND the half dozen guys that could become a Beachy or a Medlen that came out of nowhere (Mader, Sobotka, Sanchez, Pike, Walker, Lawlor). They’re going to have to make trades if for no other reason than roster crunch. There are 8 pitchers at least that would be in AA rotations in other systems, but we just don’t have a spot for them. You could probably trade 4 legitimate pitching prospects to a pitching-depleted farm for a 3 WAR+ 3B/RF/C and not even blink an eye.

  16. I guess the biggest point is that theeir plan for the rebuild, as of now, is working. They took on a bunch of low-ceiling position player prospects, and they’re nominally working out. The high-ceiling ones are working out, and the same thing on the pitching side (aside from Newk, but that could be changing right now). They just have to decide when and if they will consolidate a bunch of pitchers into one hitter, which is something they said they would do from the beginning. So unless that plan has changed, one would think we could see that happen as early as the deadline this year.

  17. Rob – I understand that the Braves’ prospect list is pitching-heavy *by design*, my point is that it’s going to be a tricky transition to put together an honest-to-god competitive Braves team when you’re relying on trades and FA acquisitions to fill such a large portion of the position player side of things. Sadly, the Dave Stewart Talent Pipeline has now closed.

  18. Keeping the good pitchers and trading the less good ones for good position players has always seemed like a hard-way bet to me.

  19. But if they have a $120M+ payroll, and they can get out for $40M on their entire pitching staff (and that includes Teheran’s escalating salary and some $7M/WAR FA acquisitions), then Inciarte/Swanson/Albies/Much of Bench is very team-friendly, and Freeman is now simply a fair price, then we can easily fill the gaps (even with elite players) through trade and FA. According to Stu’s sheet, we have $89M committed to 2018. That includes Dickey’s option ($7.5M, which in this scenario you don’t pick up), Rodriguez’s $5.75M, and Markakis’ $11M. We’re assuming that based on roster construction, Rodriguez is a super sub (and not a starter at 2B/3B), and Markakis’ salary can be washed (big assumption) and will be to upgrade RF. So remove Markakis and Dickey, and you’re down to $70.5M. After arb raises, let’s call it $78M. So you have $42M ($120M – $78M) + a gaggle of prospects to fill 3B, RF, 2 spots on the bench, 3 spots in the rotation, and probably 2 bullpen spots. Perhaps this is a better way of showing it:

    Position Players Team Controlled
    Flowers (or deduct $5.2M, but he’s also a tradeable asset)
    Suzuki
    Freeman
    Albies
    Swanson
    Rodriguez
    Kemp
    Inciarte
    JPeterson

    (Controlled players missing from current equation: Markakis, Garcia, bench bats)

    NEEDS
    3B
    RF
    Bench

    Pitching Team Controlled
    Teheran
    Folty
    Johnson
    Ramirez
    Vizcaino
    Cabrera
    2 from Smorgasbord of Back-End Filler That Falls From Shaken Trees

    NEEDS
    3 SP
    2 RP
    Depth

    Total commitment: $78M

    Available Assets: $42M + ~30 Tradeable Prospects (3-4 of which are untouchable, but even players outside of top 30 could be helpful in deals)

    Do you think you could fill the remaining needs with the available assets? I do.

  20. If I am the Braves, my first 5 rounds in this year’s draft are college proven hitters, preferably with power.

    They won’t though. They’ll either pick a skinny LHP from Cobb County, or some HS RHP from the northeast.

  21. @34
    They won’t. I bet they reach for a guy at 5 and sign him under slot. Then take flyers on guys.

  22. @26, Lucas Herbert’s numbers don’t look too good on the year, but he just had a hell of a nice week, homering three games in a row and raising his triple slash from .140/.159/.209 to .217/.254/.450, which is ALMOST acceptable for a defense-first catcher. And then there’s Alex Jackson, who’s hitting .286/.324/.533. Having catchers with pop on the farm is never a bad thing.

  23. The “pitching is currency” theory seemed to be working out swimmingly when we could trade a Shelby Miller for a Dansby and Ender. The rest of MLB seemed to be hoarding bats, though, and it remains to be seen whether we can shake loose any more of them without trader Dave’s help.

    The other problem is that teams with young, controllable bats to trade for pitching are looking to trade for already successful MLB pitchers. So that’s Teheran and Folty currently. You might be able to get a bat with just a year of control left for a collection of minor league arms, but then you’ve just got a year.

    Trading Folty makes no sense at this point, so I think we’re going to have to trade Teheran to get another high ceiling bat. It’s probably better to do it soon.

  24. The other problem is that teams with young, controllable bats to trade for pitching are looking to trade for already successful MLB pitchers.

    Like us w/ JUpton and Gattis? Teams are constantly entering rebuild phases. The White Sox just sold off their assets and are looking to continue to do the same to get prospects. Are we going to be able to trade that much quality? I don’t know, but the trade partners are definitely there. The Royals will probably be sellers at the deadline. Rays could be selling regardless of their strong start. Would Mike Moustakas be a big enough upgrade? Could we put a package together for Evan Longoria?

  25. Also, I haven’t seen it talked about much, but Lucas Sims has been surprisingly good so far at AAA after being a tire fire last year.

    5 starts, 28.2 innings, 28 K, 6 BB, .176 BAA, 2.83 ERA

    The real surprise has been the walk rate. We will see if he can sustain this over a larger sample. The kid always had TOTR stuff, but his walk rate has been a killer at every stop.

    @38, Rob, Justin Upton had one year left. I distinguished “controllable” from players with “just a year of control left”. Effective, controllable bats don’t come available very often, but OK, we can use GATTIS as an example…

  26. Adam Eaton, then, would be another good example. Yes, neither player plays a position of need, but Gattis had a .826 OPS last year, and Eaton was a 6 WAR player last year. The issue is not trade partners or availability of players. It’s about whether or not the Braves will actually trade 4-5 prospects to get one elite position player. My fear is that the Braves will keep being the unrealistic buyer, saying the market is over-inflated, and continue to not make trades. It’s funny that when they’re on the selling end, they have no problems with the market. But when it’s time to trade players to contend, they don’t really like the market.

    I know I’m trying to not get my hopes up about Sims. But he’s only 22, and he does seem to be putting it together.

  27. It wouldn’t be completely crazy to just keep all the pitching and cobble together a few more bats via over-spending. Hell, the current team would probably be competitive if you could fast forward to the point where Allard and friends are ready.

  28. @41 By Fangraphs’ calculations, the 2017 Braves are 12th in the MLB in position player WAR, 28th (!) in pitching WAR. Our top pitcher by fWAR is a reliever (Jim Johnson) and once you get past the top two (Johnson and Folty) the remaining pitching staff overall has a negative fWAR. That is impressively bad.

  29. I guess the concern is the offense has over-performed. It certainly seems like FF, Kemp, and Flowers have exceeded expectations. With that said, Swanson and Garcia have been underwhelming. Otherwise, Inciarte (HRs not withstanding), Markakis, and Phillips have been about as expected. Crazy that we’ve been with runs per game with such a bad bench.

    I don’t think there’s much concern over the pitching since there’s so much of it in the high minors. And while I listed 17+ SP prospects, there’s also a good half-dozen relief options as well. Probably just not much to get worked up about there.

  30. Longoria is under contract until 2023. I don’t think we’d be interested and Im sure the price would be too high.

  31. 44 — Answering my own question, Sims is on the 40 man and Newcomb is not, so Sims probably gets called up first.

  32. @41, 42: It’s a good point–offense isn’t what’s keeping us from contending. If we had 4 above average pitchers in our rotation and an average bullpen, I say then we start looking for ways to improve the offense. As it is, Markakis, Flowers, and Garcia are good enough for a team with bottom-5 staff.

    @44: I don’t see how you make call-ups with Dickey-Colon-Garcia all making a lot of money. That was the problem with signing all of them. It’s probably a matter of time, though, until one of them suffers an injury with their ages/histories.

    @38, 45: If we were ready to win this year, I may say go for Longoria, but given we’re still a couple years off with the pitching, I think he doesn’t make sense with his age. We can always play it by ear, as I doubt anyone is beating down the door to trade for him this year.

  33. Considering the four positions Jace primarily plays have two struggling righties and two old righties, he really should be getting more playing time. I think his best days are ahead. If he can steal bases at a higher clip and continue to improve his defense, he can be even more valuable.

  34. I had a very pessimistic general impression of prospect performance over the first month or so of games, but after going through the Fangraphs Top 32 list (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/top-32-prospects-atlanta-braves/ ), there are definitely some bright spots. Can’t find anything on Maitan or Severino. It does seem like most of the guys near the top of the list are doing poorly.

    Disappointing
    Dansby
    Albies
    Fried
    Pache
    Newcomb (2.91 FIP is good, but he’s showing no signs of getting the walks under control, and he’ll never be an MLB-quality player if he can’t do that)
    Didder
    D. Cruz
    Ruiz
    Moore
    Cabrera
    Morales

    Meh
    Acuna
    Ian Anderson (tons of strikeouts, lots of walks, hasn’t given up a single homer which might not be sustainable)
    Soroka
    Toussaint (peripherals suggest he’s been unlucky)
    Riley
    Sanchez

    Encouraging
    Allard (3.13 FIP in his first taste of AA)
    Gohara
    Wentz
    Weigel
    Demeritte
    Muller
    D. Peterson
    Cumberland
    Harrington
    Jackson
    Wilson
    Ventura

  35. Am I the only one who likes Kade Scivicque? He may not be one of our top 30 prospects, but he is one of the 30 most likely to be a big leaguer.

    @53, yeah, but if we’re scrutinizing that list, Cumberland is hitting .190 and “encouraging” but Pache is doing ok as an 18 yo at Rome and “discouraging”. I’m actually encouraged Pache isn’t getting embarrassed against guys 4 years older than he is.

  36. And Soroka listed as “meh” as a 19 year old at Double A who has pitched well.

  37. I’m at Suntrust watching the game. A good but very cold experience. General admission tickets are great for a wet, cold game like this with the overhang. They are extremely proud of blankets and long sleeve shirts at the Clubhouse store.

  38. 53: Yeah, my mistake, I was looking at his 2016 stats.

    54: I was just going by his wRC+, which appears to be driven in large part on his having been plunked 11 times in 78 PA. Seems super flukey! On further consideration, I’d rate him “meh.” Pache I suppose could be “meh” too, although .241 with no power is at least flirting with embarrassment, no?

  39. It wasn’t that long ago that Jedd Gyorko could be had for a song. Lordy, the Padres sell low.

  40. I like to try to focus on the positives in a loss. Well, Flowers did a good job not whining or crying when he got hit by pitches. Other than that, I have nothing.

  41. We just need 2 ace starting pitchers and 2 ace relievers and we’ll be in business. Tall order?

  42. Scivicque might be a backup catcher one day.

    David Hernandez has made 5 scoreless appearances for the Angels.

  43. @69 – Of course when you lose games like last night, it feels like you need a lot more than that. You will have to admit though that our pitchers looked good last night, except for the ones who got into the game.

  44. From Martin Gandy’s top 30 Braves prospects:

    “We are now in the Era of Dansby. Enjoy the show.”

  45. If d’Arnaud were still a Brave, I think he’d be getting some starts at SS. I think Jace should be spelling Dansby against some righties. Really nothing wrong with Dansby only playing 120 games this year in his second full season of professional baseball.

    And sadly, a little more inconsistency from Folty. But that’s baseball: if your starter doesn’t have it, you’re probably not going to win the game.

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