Notes/open thread

Can’t stay long. Briefly:

1. Tim Hudson got rocked a bit in the game yesterday, but was happy with the start anyway as his split-finger pitch was working for the first time since early 2003.

2. Andruw hit another homer, a monster shot.

3. Betemit continues to hit and to play pretty terrible defense at short. Again, I’ll take that combination in a backup.

39 thoughts on “Notes/open thread”

  1. Betemit continues to hit and to play pretty terrible defense at short. Again, I’ll take that combination in a backup.

    I think Betemit is a good candidate for this team, but as noted in prior discussions about Esix Snead, I really don’t like a bench designed around pinch hitting middle infielders. It strikes me as an effort to do OK in all things but excell in none. I’d rather have a few excellent glove men and a few excellent pinch hitters with no overlap between them than a larger number of players who can play iffy defense and have a questionable bat, which is what a team usually ends up with when using middle infielders as pinch hitters.

    If Furcal is in the team’s long term plans, I think Betemit has more value to another club than to the Braves. While I don’t urge the club to give him up for some fungible 33 year old reliever, the difference between his value to the 2005 Braves and value in a neutral setting at makes him an ideal candidate for a trade.

  2. Does anyone know how Marte is doing since he was sent to the minor league camp? I missed the projected arrival date thread so I’ll say we see him in LF by mid June.

    Langerhans hasn’t had a good spring. I guess he is still going to make the team. 4th outfielder or platoon partner getting the most at bats? Anyone care to weigh in?

    I was anti Betemit until reading Mac’s analysis of him. Hard to believe he is so young since I’ve been hearing about his supposed promise forever.

  3. I was at the game yesterday. A few notes.

    1. Hudson did look pretty good despite a few mistakes.

    2. LaRoche hit an absolute bomb off a Venafro (a side-arm lefty). Granted Venafro is terrible, but I am not convinced LaRoche needs to be platooned.

    3. Betemit is a really shaky shortstop. He is also a lot slower on the bases than I thought he would be. He got gunned down at the plate on a play that I didnt think would be close.

    4. Nick Green seems comfortable at the plate, but I dont think he can play a position other than second comfortably.

    5. Estrada looks absolutely lost at the plate. This could be a big problem if he doesnt get straighted out.

    6. It was Easter, so most of the regulars didnt drive down to Vero Beach.

    7. Gabe White couldnt throw a strike.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions about the game.

  4. Wow! What’s up with Andruw this spring. I just checked the score for the Brave’s game today and he hit two more homers (9 & 10). It seems like in years past, Andruw has had some slow starts to the regular season. Does anyone know whether he’s ever had a similar spring? I was wondering whether this awesome spring may lead to a hot start for Andruw.

    Regarding Betemit, it seems like he’s having problems defensively at third also. I saw a game earlier this spring and he had a ball go right between his legs while playing at third, and I thought it was a fairly routine chance.


  6. Estrada does seem lost to me as well. I agree that this could be huge problem for the Braves. Estrada, along with Drew, was one of the motors that made this team run last year. I’m confident that Chipper and Andruw will have great seasons, but having a strong Estrada and LaRoche puts our team into dangerous level of potential. Our team needs a good-hitting Estrada, let’s hope he works it out.

  7. Betemit is a pretty big guy (6-3, I think), so he’s never going to look that smooth at SS. He looked fine out there today (3/28) as he made a couple of nice plays–one on a turn and one short-hopping a line drive. He does look a bit lackadasical, though.

  8. To be fair, the wind seemed to be blowing out heavily at the game today. At least two of the Braves’ homers were wind-aided. Andruw’s first one was gone no matter what, but the second one probably gets caught at the warning track at TF. Same goes for Giles’ homer.

  9. Betemit’s more of a corner infielder or outfielder now than a middle infielder, at 6-3, 190. (Actually, I’ll bet he goes at least 205 now.) He probably has the bat for third, just no opportunity being squeezed between Chipper and Marte. He’s certainly got more power than the Lockharts of the world, and I don’t mind him as a primary pinch-hitter. He probably does have more valuable to a team with a hole at third base or that will use him as a superutility player at three to five positions.

  10. Langerhans: 0 for 5. It seemed like he had a platoon spot all locked up coming into camp, but he’s doing everything he possibly can to throw it away. If the team breaks camp without langerhans, he has no one to blame but himself. Now, to be fair, I haven’t actually seen him hit much and statistics are shaky with such small sample size. Hopefully he’s atleast taking good swings and getting some hard it balls and not looking lost.

  11. I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but through 40 at bats, Andruw is hitting .400/.415/1.175, good for a 1.590 OPS, with 10 home runs and 20 RBI. Too bad it’s not the regular season; but that’s one of the most impressive 40-at bat stretches I’ve ever heard of.

  12. Langerhans looked to be coming out of it, but then that happened. The Braves have to either keep him or dump him; I’d hate to see him go do what Matthews did last year while the Braves fool around with the Esix Sneads of the world.

  13. Mac, I think that Betemit is likely to develop into enough of a bat to be a legitimate MLB 3B, although probably not a star. But for ’05, I don’t project him to be at the level that I generally hope for from a PH — better than replacement level 1B, LF or DH or roughly a 90 OPS+.

    Kyle, I have no idea if Andruw’s numbers are impressive as I don’t really track spring training. It seems to me that every year there are a couple of players with absolutely monster numbers that seem like someone was playing Xbox. So I’m happy, but take ST with a huuuuuge grain of salt.

    But as long as we are talking about hot streaks … I’ve often thought that the best short spurt was Shane Spencer’s first campaign when he hit 10 homers in 67 at bats with a .910 SLG and .411 OBA. Or I’ve often read that Carl Yastrzemski’s Fall of ’67 was the best pressure packed stretch where, in the second coming of the deadball, he batted .391 in September with 24 ribbies and a .739 SLG to win the Triple Crown and lead the Miracle Sox to the Series. Sammy Sosa, in ’98 had a stretch from 5/25 to 6/25 where he hit 23 (!) homers while slugging .972 and driving in 44. The Braves best is probably Hurricane Hazle, who, after a late season call-up in the Milwaukee World Championship season of ’57, batted .406 with a slugging of .649 over about 40 games. But do you really want scary? Andruw, in 40 ABs in Spring Training, has a 1590 OPS. Last year, in 617 Plate Appearances in the real season, Barry Bonds had a 1422 OPS!

  14. Kyle, thanks for the stats, I was wondering what the exact numbers were. I think Andruw’s hitting is changing for the better, Spring Training or not.

    During the playoffs last year, he was the best Braves hitter in the lineup. Considering the hitting by LaRoche and Estrada during the same 5 games, he was really great. His attitude and commitment was unbelievable. I hear a lot of talk about a wider stance as well. I honestly believe Andruw is turning the corner in his career, something I love to keep reminding people I said continuously during the offseason. I also love to bring up the fact that a couple people here resisted this idea. But this is really about Andruw… It seems like coming into league at 18-19 years hurt his attitude in the beginning, but it now the experience seems to be doing the opposite.

  15. Andruw is in an absolute zone.

    I wouldn’t worry about the Snead/Langerhans comparison. Langerhans is the better player, but he is pressing big time. He struck out swinging on two pitches today that he couldn’t have hit if he knew exactly where the pitcher was going to throw it. Also, he had a bad AB where he got ahead in the count 2-0 and basically gave the AB away by swinging at a ball and taking a strike.

    Langerhans appears to be a very good OF. I think that’s one thing that can be judged regardless of sample size. He gets a good jump on the ball and ran down a couple of balls today while battling a stiff breeze.

    Snead actually looks as though he has learned something at this point in his career. For him, slugging percentage is a losing battle, so OBP is what he should concentrate on. He battled in his ABs, but took a called third and was out swinging. He also made a nice catch, but he is extremely limited as a player. He might work on another team, but not on this one.

    Truth be told, we need another OF, because I don’t see Jordan as being a big contributor either. Should be interesting to see who BC cobbles this together. Everyone is talking 850 OPS with a Jordan/Langerhans platoon. I’m thinking we’re lucky if we get 750 out of them.

  16. I thought that the change in Andruw’s stance was to narrow it. Anyone who’s seen them this spring care to comment?

  17. I wouldn’t worry about the outfield too much, especially if Andruw continues to kill the ball. We get more out of our infield than most clubs too, so that should help. The organization has definitely decided to return to a greater emphasis on pitching and our hitting is better than it ever was in early 1990s. Then again, so is the rest of baseball. I really worry about Mondesi doing too well, though I don’t hold my breath, that we lose a bargain player in right. It doesn’t bother me that we have a patchwork/rebuilding outfielded, it’s actually pretty neat and clever considering our organizations options.

  18. I heard about a widening of the stance through a couple media sources, EPSNews and I’m pretty sure, he’s widened the stance a little.

  19. I just can’t get excited by Spring Training stats no matter how good they are. Wider stance, lost weight, no matter what its just Spring Training. Who were those homers hit of off? How many were the opponents back end guys or minor leaguers. Man, I’m hoping for Andruw to be absolutely solar on fire this year but as impressive as it is it doesn’t mean a thing. Raoul Duke, acting precient now is fine but lets see what happens when it all starts to count.

    Unfortunately for a guy like Langerhans it might be the opposite. A bad spring could cost him playing time or even worse cause the Braves to cut him in favor of the Esix Sneads of the world. Such is the dichotomy of being a rookie and an established star. I have faith in Cox and I agreed (without the pure vision of hindsight) that they should have cut Little Sarge but I never understood the reasoning behind keeping DeWayne Wise around for so long. I’m with Mac I sure don’t want 20 or 30 ST at bats to sway the Braves into a bad decision.

  20. I do worry about the outfield. The corners are where you stick your hitters. I have as much faith in Cox/Schuerholz/Braves Scouting as anyone but you can only get lucky so many times. Andruw in the end is going to be Andruw which is very good but not enough to overcome 2 below average corner outfielders. Mondesi is a major gamble that has a decent chance of working out. Jordan almost certainly won’t make it to June. Langerhans can be servicible but I believe that he’ll be pigeon holed into 4th outfielder status and not get the reps needed to show what he can do. The wild card is how Marte does. If he is even just pretty good down in Richmond then the Braves may be forced to bring him up and see if he can catch fly balls. He can’t be any worse than Chipper out there.

  21. I’d like to see the Braves pick up a good lefty reliever.Rays have said that most of their bullpen are available for trades and they are looking for a back-up middle infielder. Hmmm.
    Trevor Miller looks like a good candidate. I wouldn’t miss Betemit, Nick Green, or Pete Orr if they could get a decent lefty in relief.

  22. He has a wider stance, and seems to be laying off the breaking ball away.

    For now at least.

  23. I’m fully behind trading Betemit for bullpen help, as long as it’s someone relatively proven. To me, our bullpen situation is frightening beyond belief — it’s the worst collection of “talent” since the Ghastly Boys. I hold out hope that Betemit will have a career, but he really seems like trade fodder to me at this point.

  24. We’ll see how your pretentious predictions work out, Johnny. It works both ways, you know.

    I have serious reservations about calling Mondesi below average. Regardless, the major question is what else could the Braves have done? It’s not like we have millions of dollars laying around to improve the outfield, JS did a great job looking for veterans to re-tread and allowing prospects to get there shot. It’s a strategy used by Craig Patrick of the Pittsburgh Penguins during their Stanley Cup runs. Creating intense competition at spots in which you can’t afford to spend. (Too bad they can’t even afford any stars right now). It’s not like JS can just trade players around like in a video game and fill the outfield with All-Stars, it’s dangerous and he doesn’t have the options. Also, you can get away with not having hitting in the corners of your outfield if your infield is great. Look at the St. Louis Cardinals last year before they traded for Larry Walker. So Taguchi and John Mabry aren’t exactly superstars and that team killed the ball all the way to the World Series, which was a lot further than the Braves could have gotten with that staff…

  25. Well, it’s not like Patrick is only GM to use that strategy, but it’s an example…

    I should have used more appropriate language there.

  26. Sansho, the only problem with trading Betemit, as someone else pointed out to me, is the hole at SS should Furcal decide to leave Atlanta (or Atlanta decides to not retain him). It’s a scary thought that Betemit might replace Furcal, so I figure something else will be done about SS. However, that might be a big reason he’s staying with the organization.

  27. The article about Andruw’s widened stance (I swear I read something suggesting the opposite, but of course I can’t find it now – I’m crazy) mentions that the last player to hit this many homers in spring training was Sammy Sosa in 1999. His season-end line: .288/.367/.635, with 63 homers and 141 RBI. Of course, he was coming off a 66-homer season, but we can dream, can’t we… :)

  28. If it bothers you to read others comments, you have two options:

    1. Ignore the comments, when you see the guy’s name, don’t read it. I don’t want to hear “It’s annoying” again. Many things are annoying in this world – advertisements, people in general, and the Yankees – but we can’t just make them dissapear. Get over it.

    2. Don’t come to the site.

    It’s really pretty simple. If you don’t understand feel free to leave questions. Criticizing someone for excessive posting only exacerbates the situation.

  29. Like I said on another post, thank goodness the season starts next week. Sorry Mac, but I won’t be visiting this blog quite as much. Too many games to see.

  30. That’s your right…although it would be nearly impossible to fully prevent someone from posting on this open forum.

    Don’t misinterpret what I’ve said as support for annoying posts…I just think that freedom to say what you want is part of what makes a site like this so successful.

  31. Wow, “anonymous” has tough words for people who don’t like nuisances. However, there might be a correlation to the tough words and the amount of intestinal fortitude that person shows by referring to himself as “anonymous”.

    Looking ahead to next offseason and the situation with Furcal, does anyone know of the available SSs in the free agent market that could atleast try to replace him. Honestly, 6’3″ is huge for a shortstop, and although I haven’t personally seen Betemit play this spring, apparently he looks a little clumsy out there. If he doesn’t fit into the Braves’ plans, why not piece him and Langerhans in a deal for a decent OF? Or maybe just Betemit for a reliever?

  32. It’s the internet…we’re all anonymous. “Rob Cope” means as much to me as “anonymous” does to you. That being said, your intestinal fortitude shot (a personal attack, might I add) makes no sense.

    You can, however, make a statement on the intestinal fortidue of those who make personal statements on others behind a veil of anonynimity.

  33. The braves have a couple prospects they are high on to replace furcal, Pena and Hernandez I think?

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