47 thoughts on “He’ll get his chances”

  1. After losing to Switzerland in hockey, our Neighbors to the North may want to focus pretty hard on athletic redemption in the WBC. A prediction: Jason Bay will get his.

  2. The article called Devine “the goat” of Game 4, but I think anyone who watched that game knows the goat was Farnsworth. Devine was just the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am not worried about Joey one bit. He just seems to have a certain intangible. I think by the time the season is over, he is going to be our closer.

  3. I see John Hancock was released by the Reds. He had some success in Cincinnati last year after coming back from injury.

    Don’t know anything about him. Is he a possible signing for Atlanta? Bullpen candidate?

  4. I’m not sweating the Braves bullpen troubles just yet. I think we’ll put together something decent from what we have.

    I do have a favor to ask from people that post here: I’m looking for a website or print resource where I can get various batting statistics for each position (catcher, all four infield, all three outfield, DH) to determine what the league averages for those positions are.

    Anyone know of such a resource? Thank you for your help!

  5. About Josh Hancock, he was released because he was fat!!!

    Perhaps we could sign him and anoint him Tub Of Goo II and get some PR mileage out of it?

  6. Smitty, I might be a couple minutes late to the draft. If I get there at 2:05, will it have started without me? (This is important since I have the second pick.)

  7. Smitty – can’t make the draft as have been hauled out by the wife. However, I have made substantial edits to my pick-list so hopefully it should be fine for the first few rounds.

    I am actually hoping to be back for the later rounds …..

  8. AAR, I have the first pick, so I will take my time for you. I don’t know how long I have, but I will do my best.

  9. From the NYTimes. Anyone think Cox has a better feeling about this…

    Braves Looking for a Closer

    Throughout their unparalleled run of 14 consecutive division championships, the Braves have remarkably been unable to find a consistently effective closer. They had Mark Wohlers, but he did not last long. In desperation, they switched John Smoltz from starting to closing, and he was terrific.

    But last year they uncharacteristically encountered a shortage of starters, traded for Dan Kolb to be their closer and put Smoltz back in the rotation. Kolb failed, requiring them to try Chris Reitsma and Kyle Farnsworth. They would have been happy this year using Farnsworth, who had 10 saves in 10 chances, but he signed with the Yankees as a free agent. Now they begin anew in their search for a closer.

    “Yes,” General Manager John Schuerholz said, “our intention is to have a closer. We’re confident we’ll have someone do that for us. We just don’t know who it will be.”

    Is that person likely to come from the team? “Probably,” Schuerholz said. “To think we could make a deal for a bona fide closer isn’t reasonable.”

    The early prime candidates are Reitsma, who squandered 9 saves in 24 chances last season; Joey Devine, the team’s top draft choice last summer, and Oscar Villarreal, who “before his arm was pitched into mush by overuse in Arizona had an electric arm.”

    Other candidates are Macay McBride, a first-round draft pick in 2001, and Brad Baker, signed as a minor league free agent. Devine and McBride spent some time with the Braves last season. Villarreal pitched in 86 games as a rookie in 2003, but has pitched in only 28 games since because of his elbow, which required surgery.

    Manager Bobby Cox, Schuerholz said, “feels more strongly than I that we’re going to find someone in our uniform who will do the job.”

  10. Mac, Thought you’d find this interesting. Anyone thoughts?

    Also from the NYTimes

    Are They the Tools of Irrelevance?

    By ALAN SCHWARZ

    With apologies to Punxsutawney Phil, whose eye is not what it used to be, winter officially returned to its hole last week with baseball fans’ favorite words: pitchers and catchers report. Pitchers and catchers are as symbiotic as hot dogs and beer. From now through October, they will form their teams’ most vital partnership.

    In a rare partnership of their own, common baseball wisdom and common sense suggest that some catchers are better than others at helping their pitchers — whether by calling better pitch sequences, blocking potential wild pitches or practicing arm-guard psychology.

    Pitchers contend that they feel more comfortable and perform better with certain catchers, the best example being Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver, who joked that their tombstones would someday lie 60 feet 6 inches apart. Japanese teams so respect the pitcher-catcher alliance that they have been known to change batteries in the middle of an inning.

    “You look at production,” Los Angeles Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, a former catcher, said. “Some pitchers execute better with one catcher or another. You see it on the field.”

    Fair enough. But when baseball statistics analysts have measured the tools of ignorance with their own tools, they get an anticlimactic and rather counterintuitive result: Catchers appear to have scant effect on pitchers’ performance, or certainly far less than most surmise.

    Catchers are primarily judged on the flash of their throwing arm, but no conventional statistic assesses their primary charge: to help their pitchers post low earned run averages. But if earned run averages were kept for catchers, too, wouldn’t that help pinpoint some sort of talent? Presumably, a catcher whose team posts lower E.R.A.’s with him behind the plate is, at least comparatively, good at his job. And those with the largest differentials would be the best.

    Over the past three seasons, the Astros have had a 3.67 E.R.A. with Brad Ausmus behind the plate and a 4.44 E.R.A. without him; Ausmus’s 0.77 reduction leads the major leagues among catchers with at least 2,000 innings. Paul Lo Duca, recently acquired by the Mets, has a reputation for offense, but he was second at 0.73. Mike Lieberthal of the Phillies was last; his pitchers posted an E.R.A. 0.62 higher with him.

    Catcher E.R.A. can be misleading, though. Like the catchers themselves, it makes some errant pitches look like strikes.

    First, some star pitchers almost always throw to a backup — as Carlton did with McCarver (over Bob Boone), or as Randy Johnson did with John Flaherty (over Jorge Posada) last season — making the starting catcher look undeservedly bad. Second, some managers, like the Cardinals’ Tony La Russa, call all pitches from the bench.

    Keith Woolner, the director of research for Baseball Prospectus, developed a more sophisticated Catcher E.R.A. several years ago to assuage those and other concerns. But he still found something remarkable: A catcher could indeed appear to have a major effect on his pitchers’ E.R.A., but that effect often reversed itself the next year. Catcher E.R.A.’s bounced around as if at random. Although that doesn’t prove the absence of true catching talent, it suggests that whatever exists does not manifest itself to a detectable degree.

    “Something that’s ability is relatively consistent, like home run power,” Woolner said. “You can be pretty sure that if Adam Dunn hit more home runs than Juan Pierre last year, he will next year, too. But when you look at catchers who prevent runs well one year, they are not more likely to prevent runs well the next year. They’re just as likely to be bad. It’s really not what I expected to see.

    “We’re told that catchers have a real impact on the final score, but it doesn’t show up. This is an exaggeration, but compared to the batters and the pitchers, the catcher is just a guy who makes sure the ball doesn’t go to the backstop.”

    Perhaps some teams are sensing this. Bengie Molina, considered a fine defensive catcher for the Angels, received little attention in the free-agent marketplace and signed for only a year with the Blue Jays. And Mike Piazza, who was thought to be retiring a glove many considered as useful as Michael Jackson’s, was signed by the Padres — to be their starting catcher.

    Piazza has always considered criticism of his defense to be out of proportion with his overall value, at least compared with the praise showered on Gold Glovers like Mike Matheny.

    “When I see someone steal a couple bases off Matheny or a guy like that, I go, ‘You got to change him to first!’ ” Piazza said last year. “I think it’s funny.”

    Although catchers take pride in their importance, some of the best try not to get as worked up about it as outsiders do. The nomadic catcher Damian Miller can claim to have called pitches for a gaggle of All-Stars from 2001 to 2004: Johnson and Curt Schilling with the Diamondbacks; Kerry Wood and Mark Prior with the Cubs; then the vaunted Big Three with the Athletics, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. Yet Miller laughed his influence aside.

    “I like to think it’s the catcher,” Miller said. “But I think I know better.”

  11. So I think I am going to have to sedate my roommate. When ever he plays video games, he throws huge temper tantrums if he is losing. So tonight we were playing NCAA Football and he muffed a punt (that was completely by his own doing, not the PSP) and he started hitting the floor and bitting his leg. After the game he went to his room and cried. He is a spoiled kid and needs to grow up. I think I am going to ground him from the PSP.
    I know you guys don’t care, I am just at a loss for words.

  12. It’s okay, Smitty. My friend is obsessed with Steve Nash and spent the whole evening feeling “embarrassed,” “shocked,” and “humiliated” because he didn’t do well in the All-Star game or the NBA Skills Competition. She was acting like her mother had just been arrested for shoplifting or something. It was a little out of perspective. I know the feeling.

    Thing #1 to be thankful for today: My bio professor is totally cool and understanding when I space out and forget to turn in my homework for the 2nd time in a week.

    Thing #2: The Duke game was not on ESPN. This means I did not have to listen to Dick Vitale gush and croon as J.J. Redick became Duke’s leading scorer. Congratulations to him, but even as a Duke fan, I wish Vitale would just fall in a hole. He is very weird and creepy. Redick may wind up needing a restraining order.

    Sorry for all the off-topic stuff, but this thread is sort of slow anyway :-)

  13. I kind of like Dickie V., although he’s no Barry Melrose, and he’s insane. Still, Dickie’s better than Woody Paige.

    …wait for it…

    Ba-DUM-ching.

  14. We turned on the shower and locked the door and left, just to mess with my roommate. Well i got to class and all of them have been canceled until 10a.m., so I get to watch as he paces the hall!

  15. There’s something I’ve been wondering about the WBC and the Braves. The Braves have 6 starters vying for 5 spots. Two of them are locks, so it basically comes down to Thomson, Ramirez, Sosa, and Davies battling for the three spots.

    If the DR team advances as far in the WBC as everybody’s predicting it will, will that hurt Sosa in his bid for a starting pitcher slot? It seems to me that he and Reitsma will have the most to lose by participating in the WBC, and that Sosa will more than likely be gone for much longer than Reitsma.

    Will having Sosa gone for possibly three weeks give Davies a better opportunity to crack the rotation than he would normally have?

  16. My take is that Sosa is pretty much a dead cert for the 4th spot in the rotation – especially when you read what JS has been saying about him

    The final spot is probably between Davies and Homerun HoRam. I reckon they’ll use Davies in mid-long relief – most probably when Sosa or HR pitch as they are most likely to need it. So sadly that leaves HoRam as the 5th starter.

  17. as the ’06 rotation begins to round itself out, i can’t help but wonder what will happen in ’07 when the braves have Smoltz, Hudson, Hampton, Sosa, Ramirez, Davies, Chuck James and Anthony Lerew all vying for a spot.

    I know these things, as JS puts it, “work themselves out,” but that’s a lot of pitchers. What do you guys think? Are we going to see a trade in the near future involving one or more of these guys?

    Smitty, what does your barber have to say?

  18. You don’t have to be Smitty’s barber to know that HoRam is gone, unless he gives us some ace-caliber pitching this season. In ’07, he won’t come with the somewhat-cheap $2.2 mil price tag he has now either…I hope he pitches well enough for us to get something good in return.

  19. I think there was a whole heard of goats.

    I think that we won’t make any big deals until around July 4th. Then we will go after two of four things, a bat (first or left), a lefthanded starter, a bull pen arm, a bench player

  20. Well, BP’s list of Top 50 prospects is out, and the only Brave on it is Salty, and #23.

    Some of the rankings look a little weird to me.

  21. Not sure about the goats, but there were a troop of monkeys out there ….

    Smitty – I wish the Braves had my fantasy rotation: Pettitte, Hernandez (Felix), Backe, Schilling, Contreras ……

  22. Jenny – perhaps not a huge surprise given than we had to use most of our decent prospects last year …

  23. More Leo stuff from the NYTimes. Not the whole thing but a few choice paragraphs. I hadn’t seen the Bradbury study before:

    “Smoltz said Atlanta’s perennial pitching success increased expectations among inexperienced pitchers and sometimes rattled them. Because the Braves had six Cy Young Award winners and nine 20-game winners under Mazzone’s tutelage, Smoltz said some pitchers tried to become the next Maddux or Glavine to impress Mazzone. That pressure, Smoltz said, could be detrimental.

    Still, a detailed statistical analysis showed that Mazzone’s coaching makes a major difference. J. C. Bradbury, an economics professor at Sewanee: The University of the South, in Sewanee, Tenn., determined that Mazzone helped pitchers decrease their E.R.A.’s by slightly more than half a run per season.

    “That’s a huge number,” Bradbury said.

    In Bradbury’s 2004 study, he researched every pitcher who had pitched at least one season for Mazzone and compared their yearly E.R.A.’s with Mazzone and without him. Bradbury, a Braves fan who was skeptical of Mazzone’s effect on pitchers, was surprised by the results. His research is on the Web site baseballanalysts.com.”

    Also, Smoltz going after Leo again. Any quote that begins “I’m not making a slap toward Leo, BUT…” jeez

    “I found it interesting, and I’m not making a slap toward Leo or anything, but I found it interesting how the credit was given for the starters, but there was no blame for the relievers,” Smoltz said. He added, “How do you lead the league in categories like we proclaimed and not be a whole staff leading?”

    The article goes on to reveal that Leo liked to torture small animals to relax before games.

  24. Intersting. I just had a quick look at http://www.baseballanalysts.com and there is a piece about how to best measure strikeouts (K / pitches thrown in case you were wondering). The article then goes on to list the best and worst.

    …. guess who is top of the worst….

    Yep Horacio …..

  25. Those youung guys might have been scared by Leo throwing rocks at their heads if they couldn’t do things like; throw down and away, sing the Notre Dame fight song, speak English, run a four min. mile, turn water in to wine, simple things like that.

  26. Here’s another passage from the Times article:

    “Mazzone said the Braves would continue to flourish as long as Cox was the manager and John Schuerholz was the general manager. He credited the Braves’ success to them and to what he called the greatest starters over a sustained period in baseball history.”

    ‘I’m not stupid,” Mazzone said. ‘The reason why people get around me a little bit is because I had great pitchers to work with.'”

    So, basically, Leo the Hard-Headed Jackass, has nothing but praise for the Braves. And the Braves can’t seem to muster a single straight-forward compliment toward Leo.

    How charming.

  27. What gets tricky is this. If the Braves say JS and Bobby are the reason for the Braves success and Leo just had great pitchers to work with, they’re insulting Leo. If Leo says JS and Bobby are the reason for the Braves success and he just had great pitchers to work with, he’s praising the Braves.

  28. Jason, JC (Bradbury, as quoted in the article) is a frequent poster on this blog, and he is one of the two main contributers to the Sabernomics blog.

    You can find his study on the “Mazzone effect” here.

  29. ‘Rissa, you’re right. I’d say that at least part of the Braves’ recent tendency to say that JS and Bobby are the reason for the Braves’ pitching success is a desire to reassure fans that the Braves aren’t going to start losing.

    I would like to believe that the Braves, as a team, are being quoted slightly out of context in their constant potshots at Leo. Smoltz has always struck me as a classy guy, and that comment about the bullpen seems a little unnecessary.

    For my part, I drafted Daniel Cabrera onto my fantasy team precisely so that Leo could turn him into a Cy Young candidate. I still believe in Leo even if he ain’t wearing an A on his cap any more. Thanks for the memories, boss, and good luck to ya.

  30. Curt Gowdy is dead. For those of us old enough to remember, he called the games every Saturday for NBC’s Game of the Week. Before that, he was a radio announcer for the Red Sox. Gowdy was 86.

  31. What’s funny is that some of us can read the exact same articles, the exact same quotes, and come away with a completely different interpretation…..this was quoted by HoRam:

    “You could compare him to Bobby Knight,” the Braves left-hander said. “Leo is definitely old school. He gets in your face and doesn’t care what words he uses. There were times he rode me really, really hard. I tried not to let him intimidate me. But I won’t lie. At times he did.”

    I don’t see that as an insult. It sounds like a tough coach who expected results. It seems to me there is a character assassination there if you want one, but just honest discussion if you don’t. I bet the pitchers would have said the same things all along if the media had been interested in asking……

  32. Curt Gowdy was also at the mike for Hank Aaron’s 715th.

    As for Mazzone, it’s just human nature for the Braves pitchers to resent Mazzone’s status to some extent. It’s as if the pitchers had no role in it. Don’t you think some of the New England Patriots resent all the pub that Belichek gets? Plus, Mazzone sounds like he has a hard edge. I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

  33. Alex, Thanks. I didn’t realize that was JC. I love this place, but I visit it so seldom that I wind up feeling like a distant cousin catching up at the reunion.

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