Interview with a beat writer

David O’Brien, beat writer from the AJC, has agreed to answer a few questions. So, submit them, in comments or via email, I’ll pick the best, and shoot them over to DOB.

196 thoughts on “Interview with a beat writer”

  1. Let’s see… how’s this:

    If Andruw Jones signs with another team when he’s a free agent (most likely he will), how likely is it that Gregor Blanco or Brandon Jones is the next starting center fielder for Atlanta?

  2. Which might lead directly to the odds of the Braves signing any of their impending free agents, like Druw, Mahay, or Wickman (not saying I want them all back, just asking)?

  3. This may sound a little crazy, but…

    With Atlanta lacking starting pitching depth and a quality fifth starter, is there any interest in David Wells?

  4. Why is it that anonymous posters on a message board can manage your bullpen better than you? Has the game passed you by, or do you just not watch? Why do you keep wasting our best reliever after 5 pitches, and keep running out guys who you burned in May b/c our starters couldn’t go 6 innings?

  5. Sorry, misread. Thought that was to Bobby Cox. Ask him to ask Cox those questions.

  6. what are the chances of Liberty Media increasing the payroll for 2008 and how does this affect our newly acquired first baseman’s tenure?

  7. What is the opinion of the newspaper beat writers about having bloggers in their midst? Has it evolved over the past couple of years at all? Now that the AJC allows online comments to articles, are the old school columnists encouraged to engage the rabble that post on ajc.com?

  8. 1) How likely is it that Edgar Renteria will be traded this offseason? Is the organization really ready to hand the reins over to Yunel Escobar for good?

    2) How hurt is Andruw Jones? It’s been reported that he’s been hurt since May—do you think this is the primary reason for his down year, offensively? Do you get the sense that his teammates are inspired by his playing-while-hurt effort, or do you think they’d rather he sit and have a healthy hitter play instead?

    3) I know you’re only a beat writer for the team, but have you become a fan? Who are your favorite current Braves—I know you frequently mention LaRoche as a former Brave you liked—to talk to in the locker room? Why?

  9. Mac,

    Thanks for putting this together. This opportunity is awesome.

    Of course, I’m also grateful to DOB for agreeing to participate.

  10. Give his failures in clutch situations this year, would losing Andruw Jones to free agency actually prove to be a positive development for Atlanta?

  11. What do you expect the Braves to do with the logjam of possibilities at SS for next year between Edgar Renteria, Brent Lillibridge, and Yunel Escobar? If any of them are traded, would you most expect the Braves to seek to receive a SP, CF, or something else?

  12. any softball players here? i need to buy one or two new bats that need to be ASA and USSSA approved, any suggestions? need something hot

  13. If Andruw leaves next year, what are the chances of Renteria moving to CF and Escobar starting at short? Renteria’s range has dropped off at short, but his hitting has been fantastic. This way we meet the CF need without making a trade for one of the many mediocre CF’s available. The other possibility may be for Escobar to move to center, but you are still left with a SS with below average range in that scenario.

  14. IMO, the questions regarding Liberty, team salary & future free agents are most pressing.

    A few from me.

    1) Your bullpen conversation with Bobby (regarding Soriano/Moylan) really caught my eye the other day. He seemed a little testy. What’s your relationship with Bobby Cox like?

    2) After the trades, I heard you say on WFAN in NYC that you believed the Braves would win the division. Do you still believe that & why?

    3) If so, what do the Braves have to do better to make the post-season?

    4) Thanks, you do a great job & I love all the musical references.

  15. How about this for DOB:

    Do the Braves have their eyes on acquiring any particular players by the waiver trade deadline? Have any Braves made it through waivers?

  16. I could see Lillibridge moving to CF, but I still think it would be a win-win for us to keep Renteria and have Escobar at short. Lillibridge has done great in AA/AAA, but why not use him as a backup (like Escobar this year) instead of trying to make too many trades?

  17. Any chance the Braves pick up another spare part before the August deadline? Perhaps a starter??

  18. Do you think there is any chance Cox and Schuerholz are both planning to retire after 2008, and are making 1 last run at a championship without enough regard for the future?

  19. 1) JS had some trouble finalizing the Teixeira/Mahay deal. Does JS blame Rangers GM Jon Daniels for holding up the trade so close to the deadline? How and why did the fifth Atlanta minor leaguer come into the equation?

    2) What are the organization’s expectations for Mike Hampton next year?

    3) What players will the Braves aggressively shop and seek out over the off season?

    Thanks for the opportunity to do this, Mac.

  20. I hope we can smack about Cole HAmels the same way we did to Oliver Perez!! Lets go Braves gotta make a run for it

  21. DOB,

    1. Will the organization be willing to pursue free agents in the off season, or will they be looking to improve the roster mostly through trades? Would initial signings that tend to set the market influence this one way or the other?

    2. Smoltz can’t pitch forever and there don’t seem to be any *imminent* number 1 starters on the farm. Is the organization going to be willing to go through a “rebuild” in which young pitching is developed at the big league level (even though it hasn’t seemed to work the last few years — see Davies, Kyle)? Or will they chase big names through trade and FA signings?

    Who would you like to see take the helm once Bobby walks away? Are there any lifetime Braves or organizational favorites out there that are waiting in line?

    Thanks Mac, and DOB.

  22. DOB,

    We all love to speculate about the guys on the farm. Who do you see flying under the radar?

  23. RobBroad4th,

    I know what’s wrong with Kali, he sucks. It’s the real relievers I’m concerned about.

  24. More appropriately, please share any stories you have leading up to the Sloth scamming the HR record.

  25. Do you think Glenn Hubbard will be in the running for the managerial position in the coming years?

  26. What relievers currently in the minors do you think have a shot to make the postseason roster, should the Braves make it?

  27. Have you been able to gauge the players’/coaches’ views on the more advanced statistical metrics and the process of studying the game mathematically at all, and, if so, which players/coaches seem most interested or in favor of the process/various metrics and which seem most averse to this particular form of performance evaluation?

  28. Mac;
    Of course, you’ll have to ask if he likes peanuts. And if Smitty will be a September call-up.

    I’d appreciate any question asked about the current bullpen. How does Mark see things jelling for this stretch drive with tired arms, recent additions, and pitchers performing at unexpected levels?

  29. Which Brave do you most enjoy interviewing? Least? Who is the funniest?

    Who is your favorite non-Braves beat writer?

  30. For Dave O’Brien:

    1) Have you or other AJC reporters done any investigations into steroid use by current or former Braves’ players? Did you find anything solid?

    2) Are you familiar with sabermetrics? If so, do you try to use sabermetrics insights in your reporting?

    3) What’s your take on last season’s failed negotiations with Tom Glavine? Were the Braves really trying to sign him? Was he seriously interested in coming back or just using the team to get more money from the Mets?

    4) From your reporting, do you get the impression that sometimes the Braves trade away players because of personality conflicts with Bobby Cox? I’m thinking of Wilson Betemit and Macay Macbride in particular.

  31. I agree w/ any question about next year’s payroll and I also think we should ask him what he thinks the odds of trading Renteria are this offseason.

    Also,
    1. With the likelihood that Andruw will leave this offseason, will the Braves be attempting to extend Teixeira?

    2. After hearing the good news about Hampton’s progress the other day, where is Mike Gonzalez in his recovery?

    3. What does he think about Lillibridge and B. Jones’ ability to contribute in 2008?

  32. ububba, I actually think I would rather go through another root canal than visit the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles. A 90 minute wait is standard, and I live in friggin Indiana.

  33. Mac,

    So many great questions have already been posted by the users of Braves Journal, I bet it might make DOB a little jealous of some of the bigoted, moronic fools he has posting on his blogs.

    Every question I would have asked has already been posted here :-) Great job, Brave Journal teammates.

  34. 1) Are the Braves looking to replace Cox from within the organization with someone like Eddie Perez or are they looking for a fresh face like they did when McDowell was brought in to replace Mazzone? Who do you think is the front runner?

    2) What is Jason Heyward’s contract status? Were the Braves happy with their draft as a whole?

    3) How have the newly aquired players assimilated into the Braves’ clubhouse? Have they brought a business-like attitude or more laidback approach to the penant race?

  35. Actual quote from a Mets fan:

    thank god for the rule where a wild card team cant play a team in their division first round.

    Mwahahaha! We’re in their heads, baby!

  36. Off topic, but I’d just like to say that I’m very happy for Rick Ankiel. I know he’s unlikely to stick for long as a hitter in the big leagues, but I’m glad he’s gotten to enjoy success up there again. The fact that he’s even in St. Louis again is a testament to his character, IMO. Congrats, Rick.

  37. Any chance that Andruw is rested, and Thorman sees sometime in LF, with Harris moving to CF?

  38. #46, I’m not sure what their complaint is. The D-backs will probably have the best record and play Milwaukee while the Braves will play San Diego. ;)

  39. Metsblog is hilarious. Half the Met fans are ready to go jump out of the Empire State Building. They’re turning on each other.

  40. #49, Yeah I agree. Thor’s swing looks better lately. I’d like to see him get some starts in left vs righties.

  41. Thor’s swing looks better because the only time we see it is when he is pretending to swing a bat from the bench. :)

  42. I can’t understand why we would want to see Thorman getting ABs over Diaz at a time where every game is important.

    Question for DOB

    How does the Atlanta Organization view Matt Diaz? Strictly platoon, or will they ever give him a shot at the full time job in left?

  43. I’m also very happy for Ankiel too. Just imagine having every thing going for you and then what happened to him happening to you. Then, make it right back as a hitter. I don’t know what he’s going to do longterm, but hitting a HR in his first game back is pretty incredible. Fortunately, it overshadows Scott Spezio and him entering rehab for substance abuse. I hope he makes it through alright.

    Thor looks just like a left-handed, country-strong, first baseman that I played with in high school. Girls loved him…

  44. Some great questions have been posted. Mac’s going to have a tough time picking the best. I’ll chime in with my own, rather unimportant one.

    What is the clubhouse atmosphere like with this team? Which player is the most outgoing? Quiet and keeps to his own? Funniest? Biggest trickster?

  45. @52 and @54,

    Yes, for now, Diaz is a better hitter against righthanders than Thorman. He may be a better hitter against righthanders than Willie Harris (Diaz may have found a power stroke to take his ISO back up where it was in the minors) but “Springboard Willie” isn’t going anywhere (unless maybe they start him in center, hunh?).

    However, Josh Q, if Andruw, Frenchy or Willie had come up hurt after Thor’s pinch hit attempt yesterday would you really want to see him have to come in and play outfield because Diaz had already been used?

    However, Thor is one of those that still might really turn into something. Something like a .900 OPS against righthanders and .750 against lefthanders. Yes, there are all sorts of signals that it is a long shot, but he is too valuable of a player to DFA or waive.

  46. The Ankiel thing is a nice story–agreed. It’s just a shame it has to be for a jerk like LaRussa. Oh well, I guess Rick can’t help who his Manager is.

    Re: Playoffs

    My former boss, a Mets & Yankees fan, called me this morning to say congrats on another series win (he was sincerely gracious) and that Harris’ catch was awesome.

    He and I started talking about the NL Playoffs and agreed, in all seriousness, that the Mets & Braves will both make the Playoffs. I just have a sneaking feeling we both get in.

    The Brewers and Cubs have too many issues and are too bad down the stretch to have me take the Central seriously, so whoever backs in from thsoe 2, isn’t likely to see their division rival.

    And right now, unless San Diego starts hitting or L.A. gets out of their funk, I am buying Arizona as the West team now. Yes, Colorado is still alive, but like the Mariners, I am just not buying it.

    Today, if I have to put 4 NL teams in:

    Mets, Braves, Cubs, and Diamondbacks.

  47. I too was glad to hear Ankiel made it back as an outfielder. It’s an amazing story. The home run was icing on the cake, too. I hope he does well, but not against us.

    Since I’m a girl I’ll comment omn Stu’s post about Thorman. He has a sort of handsomness about him with the strong, manly look. Kelly Johnson, though, is the cutest Brave (by far, especially with Salty gone), although McCann without the beard wouldn’t be all that far behind him.

  48. joshq,
    I appreciate your sentiments. While nobody was shoving needles in my mouth yesterday, they were filling my ears with fertilizer. And not so nicely, I might add.

    Um, who’s our closer?

  49. ‘Rissa,

    I respect what the Phillies are doing and I think if they were in the Central, they’d be in. But someone, between the 3 NL East teams, can’t make it and despite our bullpen and Andruw, I want to be overall positive about our Braves and assume we’ll get in. I think we can.

    Plus, the Phillies only have 1 reliable starter (Hamels) and at this point, we still have 3 (Smoltz, Hudson and Carlyle). Plus, Utley still isn’t back–I feel like the Phils have to cool off at some point (and I would prefer that cool down to commence at 7:35 PM EST tonight!).

  50. As for the Mets vs. the Phils, the Mets have the lineup, closer and starting pitcher edge (though I think Cole Hamels is individually better than all the Mets starters) so again, down the stretch, I just don’t see the Phils holding up as well as either our boys or the Mets.

  51. Should be Moylan, probably Dotel or Soriano. Has anybody noticed, that Soriano’s funk came after Wickman came off the DL and went back into the closers role. It might be coincidental, but it could also have affected Soriano’s psyche.

  52. Thor is like an even worse version of Jeff Francoeur from last year. Jeff has learned some things and has become a much better player this year. Thor could do that too, but he isn’t going to do it being a pinch hitter. By not trading him at the deadline, the Braves have shown they are committed to trying to make Thorman work. He’ll more than likely be a platoon outfielder next year with a shot at the everyday first base job in ’09 assuming as is likely the Braves don’t resign Tex.

  53. Alex,

    Your former boss is a Mets & Yankees fan? I didn’t think that was possible or allowed in NY.

  54. Marc,

    I used to chide him for it. I asked him how this was possible and he basically just said he likes all NY sports teams…a true NY guy without the rivalry hang ups.

  55. I don’t see an obvious answer for closer, actually.

    Moylan’s certainly pitching the best right now. My guess is that Bobby still loves to use Moylan in those jam situations where a DP is necessary. Moylan has induced a ton of them already. I guess I’d like to see him in high-impact, late-inning situations—closer or not.

    Dotel can do it, but we also know what else he can do. I’m guessing Bobby goes that way.

    Soriano is a HR machine right now. Perhaps try to relegate him to earlier-inning, lower-risk situations? Not so easy, of course.

    Mahay? As our only lefty, probably not.

    Yates? Next.

    Not that he’d be a closer, but I also wonder how Royce Ring (great name, BTW) is doing in the minors & if he’ll be called before the end of the month. On WFAN the other day, I heard JS say Ring would be called up in September. If Wickman can’t go, does that mean he’ll be called sooner?

    Also, has our position on Farnsworth changed? If he clears waivers, is there a deal worth pursuing? Now that the Yanks have Chamberlain & Vizcaino taking the big setup roles, he’s just a mop-up man.

  56. I don’t think there should be any reason to bring Farnsworth in unless someone else is leaving, and it just doesn’t seem like an upgrade at this point. Atlanta needs at least three fresh arms that can pitch in high leverage situations.

  57. Atlanta needs at least three fresh arms that can pitch in high leverage situations.

    Good luck with that.

  58. ububba,

    As Stu brought up to me yesterday, Miguel Ascancio also did a good job and I think the Braves need to seriously look at giving both Ring and Ascancio a shot NOW.

    First, I would DFA Yates. At some point, a tired arm is an excuse and he just flat out stinks. If we could send him to Richmond without the risk of losing him entirely, OK, but if not, so be it and get some fresh arms up to the Majors.

    After Yates, I would DL Soriano NOW. Let Ascancio and Ring take their two spots. This gives us two, good fresh arms, plus, as you just pointed out, a second lefthander as well.

    As for Moylan, I am torn. He’s far and away our best reliever right now and as much as he deserves the closer role, the truth is, he’s probably most needed in those 1 out, bases loaded, DP roles.

    Which is what makes Wednesdays loss so hard to swallow. We had Mahay and Moylan both warming up and while I think Mahay is solid overall, the bases loaded 1 out situation was so obviously ideal for a guy like Moylan…who’s pitching great and is amr. ground ball. That would have been (and should have been) an obvious DP.

    So of course Bobby picks Mahay. GENIUS.

  59. I also have noticed Thor swing looking a lot better lately too…

    He can be our Russell Branyan off the bench…what a fraud he turned out to be.

  60. Well, as much of a scumbag as he is, Farnsworth did a good job two years ago. The other choices don’t seem that good. I suspect there is some concern that Moylan’s slow curves might not be a good idea in the ninth inning.

    It’s discouraging that with all the moves JS made, our bullpen is basically back to last year.

  61. It is discouraging, Marc. You get Soriano, and he’s struggling so bad right now. You get Gonzalez, and he blows out his elbow. You re-sign Wickman, and he’s not who he was. What can ya do, I guess…

  62. I like Moylan coming into the game when the game is actually on the line rather than with a 3 run lead. Isn’t that when you are supposed to use your best pitcher anyway?

  63. IF JS hasn’t already put Wickman on waivers, now is the time to do it. No body will pick him up until they know the elbow is clear. Then, we are set for a trade of Wickman if we want to make it.

    As bad as Wickman has been on the road, I still think we shouldn’t let a bullpen asset go without an answer.

    The answer is probably Phil Stockman. Since back in Mississippi, he now has 11 innings, 17 striketouts, 3 walks. Uncage this monster. Free Phil Stockman. He is our K-Rod.

    Also, how in the hell does anybody think Julio can get on the roster. My understanding is that players either have to be on the 25 man roster on Aug 31 or on the ML disabled list on that date. We could DL any of several pitchers, but we are desperate for pitchers. Do I not understand the playoff rosters?

  64. Hate, that’s an excellent point and further is a reminder of why Bobby mis-used Moylan on Wednesday.

    Rob Cope…yeah, that is the brakes. On one level, you just throw your hands up in the air and say JS went out and got plenty of supposed studs who have all failed. On the other hand, maybe we should all be looking directly at Roger McDowell even more.

    At what point does McDowell get tossed out as pitching coach?

  65. King,

    In a backwards way Booby is using Moylan in the highest leverage situations most of the time, but its more because he has the DP groundball stigma, more than he’s the only reliever who consistently throws strikes thing.

  66. Alright, I knew McDowell’s name would get thrown into the equation, so here goes:

    Did McDowell blow out Gonzalez’s elbow? No. Did McDowell force Bobby to overuse Soriano tremendously earlier in the season? Probably not. Did McDowell cause Wickman’s injury and control issues? No. Can we just blame pitchers for their problems instead of the pitching coach? On other pitchers (Davies maybe?), you might have a case with the “blame the pitching coach” deal, but these three guys aren’t McDowell’s fault. You can’t change injuries, and a 38 year old closer should be able to fix his own mechanics.

  67. Yes, but Davies just pitched a beauty the other night, something he seemed unable to do under Roger.

    On a personal level, I met Roger many years ago and a really nice guy–so I like the man.

    That aside, it seems overall there’s been more negatives than positives with all the pitchers who’ve been under McDowell’s watch.

  68. Davies threw more than one beauty for the Braves, Alex. Usually against the Mets. If he turns it on and starts reeling several of those off in a row, then I’d be willing to place some Davies-blame on McDowell.

  69. By the way, STockman is already on the 40 man roster to protect him from Rule 5 draft. Also his brief (“small sample size”) stint in Atlanta last year was “light’s out”.

    My guess is that Stockman is a September call up and will help us down the stretch. He could help more now by allowing at least one of Yates or Soriano to DL. Their problems are use related.

    On another note, somebody yesterday jumped on Yates throwing 91. The Shea radar seemed 4 to 5 miles an hour low (as compared to our park and the consensus of road stopss) for almost everybody for the whole series.

    Also, Moylan is not a slow curve guy. His fastball comes 93 to every once in a while 96. His cutter comes in 90 to 92 and it plus improvement in control, have been what have propelled him forward this year. The control improvement should have been probable because he has now only thrown sidearm since about August of 2004. In other words, just now three years of working on mechanics with knowledgable pitching coaches and video, etc.

    The last point on Moylan. Can he pull a Jimmy Morris (“The Rookie”)and start throwing over the top in another year or so? If so, that would further help with lefties and let him do the 3 angle thing on righthanders. He COULD be an awesome weapon.

  70. My whole beef is with the “blame the pitching coach” attitude if a pitcher struggles. At what point are pitchers responsible for their inability to pitch? And at the same time, pitching coaches (except for Leo) don’t get enough praise for the pitchers that are pitching well. If you say that Wickman’s struggles are McDowell’s fault, then I guess Smoltz’s success this year is to McDowell’s credit. It sounds absurd, doesn’t it? What about Moylan, Yates, and the other guys that have come out of nowhere to pitch well this year? This isn’t directed totally at Alex, so don’t take this personal. This is just to the people that wanna fire the pitching coach because pitchers are choking.

  71. Stu,

    Yes, he did, but he hadn’t throw anything close to beautiful this year and even last year, was largley ineffective.

    But as we pointed out when the trade happened, and I stand by this to a certain degree, Davies has absolutely NO pressure now pitching for KC and mental was one of his biggest issues–it’s why KC is an ideal situation for a guy like Kyle. (and I hope he succeeds).

    That said, if Leo Mazzone returns to Atlanta next season, is everyone here really going to be upset?

  72. Rob,

    I tend to agree with you as far as veterans are concerned. I suspect the young and/or relatively inexperienced pitchers need good coaching, though.

  73. Alex,

    Davies had a start against the Mets earlier this season (maybe his first start of the season) where he went something like 7 innings and gave up only 2 runs. He had a couple gems last season.

  74. Rob,

    No, not personal–just a good discourse on how much or how little blame do you (or should we) apply to coaching.

    We’ve all had the same discussions in here about Pendleton.

    But for Mac and I, it goes back to our point a little bit that coaches all have varying personalities and some coaches work better with some players than others.

    It’s why Mac and I both believe that baseball teams should actually have 2-3 pitching coaches and 2-3 hitting coaches.

  75. I thought one of the reasons Leo left was that the younger pitchers didn’t get along with him?

  76. In the MetsBlog podcast, Matt Cerrano said (in reply to my saying that everyone was just happy to see Davies go) that he was glad to see Davies go to, because the only team he pitched well against was the Mets.

  77. Stu,

    yeah, I forgot about the start earlier this season, my bad.

    It’s hard to remember the 1-2 gems from ’06 A) because the Braves weren’t good last year and B) they were surrounded by a lot more bad starts, sadly.

    But on a personal note, I very much hope Kyle and Salty succeed. Not only are they good kids who came up in our system, but it’s not like either is playing for Philly or the Mets.

  78. April 8 (Mets): 6.2 IP, 2 ER
    May 11 (Pirates): 7 IP, 1 ER
    May 22 (Mets): 8 IP, 1 ER
    June 1 (Cubs): 7 IP, 1 ER
    June 23 (Tigers): 6.1 IP, 2 ER
    July 8 (Padres): 6 IP, 1 ER

    Those were all starts Davies made this year with the Braves.

  79. So, Mac, if we had kept Davies, maybe we should only have used him against the Mets? (though he did have that 1 great start against Boston).

    So, just to recap:

    Davies only against the Mets
    Wickman to close only at home
    Dotel to close only on the road

    Man do pitchers need a lot of special attention.

  80. Stu, to be fair, you’re leaving out his bad starts (and there are plenty) not to mention the 1 where he couldn’t even record an out.

  81. Alex, you said this:

    Yes, but Davies just pitched a beauty the other night, something he seemed unable to do under Roger.

    I’m saying that statement is inaccurate. I’m not saying Davies is great.

  82. In a lot of those starts which are deemed “quality” starts, no doubt, there were also a ton of hits and walks mixed in.

    So while he may have escaped several without lots of earned runs, he was in and out of james most innings. That’s at least fair to point out.

    But firmly believe Davies can be better with no pressure. A lot of his issues were mental. Also, Mac is 100% right about 1 thing–Kyle doesn;t have an “out” pitch…hence the excessive amount of deep counts and Kyle’s constant struggle to put hitters away, ala a Smoltz or Hudson.

  83. I’m really looking forward to the DOB interview. He has all the inside sources and none of the pressure to avoid sticky questions that a member of the team might.

  84. I dont want Mazzone back, he’s as good as Smoltz, Maddox, and Glavine are. He had his share of failures in ATL also, Kolb/Reitsma…You cant blame the pitching coaches for the pitchers mistakes in location, such as Soriano throwing an inside fastball to Moises Alou on an 0-2 pitch. You can blame McDowell for pitchers not improving on throwing sliders, breaking balls, and off speed pitches, but most of the blame/success goes to the pitchers…

    There are several pitchers who have improved with McDowell. Paronto (other than his injury month), Villareal, Moylan, Hudson is better this year, James is getting better every year, Carlyle…It goes both ways, however, Mazzone’s staff hasn’t improved much either. They can keep him

  85. csg,

    It goes back to how much credit or blame do you or should you give a coach?

    Do we credit Roger on say Carlyle, or do we credit Buddy or perhaps the coaches in the minors who initially helped him work out his issues.

    I suppose the fair answer is that pitching & hitting coaches are always going to have mixed results.

  86. Alex,

    April 8 WHIP: 1.05
    May 11 WHIP: 1.29
    May 22 WHIP: 1.00
    June 1 WHIP: 1.00
    June 23 WHIP: 0.95
    July 8 WHIP: 1.00

    I know the common refrain is that Davies is terrible and always put lots of guys on base. And when he’s off, yes, he is terrible. And so far, that’s happened more than not.

    But the facts simply do not support your claim that Kyle didn’t pitch any gems with the Braves.

    In 1/3 of his starts for us this year, He pitched very, very well.

  87. Thor: Let me clarify, his swing only looks good when he is not actually at the plate affecting the game.

    Davies: Even if he turn it around, I am fine with that trade. I don’t feel like he would have done the same in ATL. A change of scenery may have been what he needed.

    Tony: Did I just read that he agreed with Stu? Pigs do fly!!!

  88. To reiterate/clarify: This is not about Davies, it’s about McDowell. The point is that Kyle hasn’t done anything for the Royals yet that he didn’t do with the Braves. Again, if he starts showing these sorts of stats on a more consistent basis, I’d be willing to entertain the notion that McDowell was part of Kyle’s developmental problem.

  89. I thought we had come to the conclusion earlier this year that Davies was awesome when he had a longer rest. I would guess that he was working off of five or more days rest on a good number of the starts Stu just posted. When he was working off of short rest he was horrid.

  90. I agree that Kyle needs to be in a different environment. I think following Smoltz, Huddy, and James, he then put too much pressure on himself to perform well. He needs to be in a rotation that isnt very good, where he can get his confidence back and know that he’s good enough. I also agree that at times last year and this year Davies looked unhittable, mainly against the Mets, which confuses me and throws out my notion that he cant handle the pressure. maybe he should try standing on a different side of the pitching rubber just to try and make a change of something. He’s a nut case right now, but with the way Dotel has pitched, im not happy trading him away. That could change

  91. Mac,

    You mentioned the MetsBlog podcast…what are the best Braves-related podcasts out there? I have been asking around, but no response so far. Thanks in advance.

  92. I don’t think that Davies would have done so well in Atlanta either.

    What do you mean, Sam? Do you mean that he wouldn’t have done very well in Atlanta, or that he wouldn’t have done as well as he has with the Royals? The word “so” there can be interpreted in more than one way.

  93. Stu,

    Ah, yes, fun with semantics. I do that too.

    I think Davies was a head case in Atlanta. There was something wrong that caused him to pitch well in one start and just awful in the next. If he has success in Kansas City, I’m not holding that against anyone because a change of scenery is probably what he needed.

    Plus, I think Octavio Dotel is pitching as expected, so the trade won’t be sour to me.

  94. You Andy Marte is a perfect example of why you can’t always go by minor league numbers when trying project a major league career. That’s why I try or am trying to caution all the (clearing my throat) Yunel Escobar detractors.

  95. It’s not really fun with semantics. It’s trying to figure out what you meant when you said that.

    You still didn’t really answer my question. You answered a question, “Do you think the Davies trade was a good one?”, that I didn’t ask and that actually has no bearing on the point I was trying to make with respect to Roger McDowell.

    Which is fine. It’s just not the conversation I was having, and I thought you might have been talking about what I was.

  96. Tony,

    Guys frequently become worse hitters in the major leagues than they were in the minors. They very, very rarely become better hitters in the major leagues than they were in the minors.

    Marte : Escobar :: Apples : Oranges

  97. FWIW, good thing the Braves got out of town when they did. It’s pouring rain here. I have doubts about the Mets/Florida game tonight.

    More good news: Braves on TBS tonight.

  98. “They very, very rarely become better hitters in the major leagues than they were in the minors.”

    So even though it maybe very, very rare it can happen. Example: Brian McCann

  99. McCann’s aggregate minor league stat line:

    .275 .334 .462 .796

    McCann’s 2007 major league stat line:

    .268 .319 .455 .774

    2006 could be the outlier. Maybe not—and I certainly hope not—but this season’s performance is pretty much in line with what he was expected to do at this level.

    With that said, even if he is more the 2006 version than the 2007 version in the long run—that is, even if he is the rare case that improves—that doesn’t mean it’s likely that Yunel will also break the mold.

    Yes, it *can* happen, but acting like it *has* happened after 178 plate appearances with the big club would seem to be jumping the gun.

  100. Marte is a perfect example of why it’s silly to fall in love with “prospects” meaning minor leaguers who either have never played in the major or only had a cup-of-coffee. For another example, here’s Salty’s Rangers stats:

    .147/.171/.206/.377

  101. Also, Escobar is almost a year and a half older than McCann. Development of this sort generally slows down with age.

  102. Marte is a good example of your point, Ron, but Salty’s line is probably a better example of sample size than anything else.

  103. Chipper Jones was once a prospect. Albert Pujols was once a prospect. The right answer is only to fall in love with the “right” prospects. Figuring out the right ones from the wrong ones is where GMs earn their keep. Treating all prospects as disposable is a good way to run your franchise into the ground.

  104. Stu,

    Yunel is 24 y/o. How old was Ryan Howard when he made it to the Phillies? 24….The guy is still a young man. You don’t peak until your late 20’s, early 30’s.

  105. I don’t think that Yunel has to improve too much more. If he consistently hits at this level for his career, I’d be happy. Granted he’ll get a little more refined (which should help the OBP), but that’s probably about it. Power won’t go up much, and I think everyone is impressed with his defense

  106. Stu,

    I think McDowell is more of a scapegoat than anything else. He’s no Leo Mazzone, but then again, no one is. Of course, Paronto and Yates are going to be so-so. That was their previous track record in the majors. I don’t think it’s a reflection on McDowell if they continue to be inconsistent.

  107. I mean, how long is this going to go on? Get another pitching coach, pitchers have problems they previously had, fire the pitching coach.

  108. Howard was 24 when he was called up. He was hitting .297/.386/.647 at AA. So you see he didn’t just magically become good at the Major League level, he just continued doing what he was doing. Which is what most guys will do, even your precious Yunel.

    Yunel is a good guy to have around. He’s a major league caliber player. That’s what his minor league number said he would be and that’s what he is.

  109. Does anyone besides me think Mazzone gets too much credit for the pitching that he had around him. lets face it, how many pitching coaches have had three HOF’s on their staff for as long as he did? Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux could make me look like a great pitching coach. He had his failures also

  110. I’d probably trade Renteria in the offseason, maybe back to St. Louis (although their farm system is pathetic) because Yunel, when accounting for the improved defense and ascent to his prime, gives you every thing Renteria does at 6 mm less.

  111. csg, I agree. After Sam mentioned Mazzone, I looked at some Oriole pitching stat lines, and they are slightly below league average each year. You can only be as good as your organiztion is. Mazzone was deemed a master because JS got us some seriously good pitching.

  112. And KJ has power. Players very rarely go from having no power at 24 to having power.

    I don’t know of any Braves podcasts, though I assume there are some. You might ask around at Talking Chop or Chop-N-Change.

  113. I agree with Robert, too. I just realized that my reply to Ron looks like I agree with his point about prospects in general. I don’t.

    And I like having Escobar on the team, too, though I strongly disagree that he’ll give us everything Renteria would next year. With that said, the $6MM difference in their salaries probably more than makes up for that.

  114. Answer to Smitty’s second question, #131, even though I know he meant it for DOB:

    If I could be any kind of cheese, I would be high and tight, like Sal Maglie used to throw.

  115. He can’t give us everything Rentaria is giving us this year because he simply doesn’t provide that kind of offense.

    That being said, Yunel has done a great job this year, deserves a lot of credit for the role he’s played, and has helped soften the blow of losing Edgar to the DL in a big way.

    But make no mistake–Rentaria is a far superior offensive player.

    However, as I have stated earlier and many agree on Braves Journal, while Rentaria maybe a superior player to Escobar, I would be more than willing in the offseason to see Renty dealt for a starting pitching who’s a true #1 or #2.

    The trade off of adding a Harang ‘type’ and having say an Escobar at SS is completely worth it, vis a vis having Rentaria and Chuck James as your 3rd starter.

  116. I too am fine with trading Renteria in the offseason because of what Escobar has shown. He won’t hit with the same power and he may experience some growing pains, but his defense would be an improvement. Ideally I would keep Renteria, but he may be our best trade piece when the winter meetings arrive. There is also the fact that Lillibridge or Escobar are the future at SS so the timing seems right to trade him.

  117. I’m not jumping back into any Escobar arguments, since they are basically pointless when Tony is involved, but the difference in salary next year will be closer to $11 million.

  118. Oh yeah, I also don’t think Renteria will net us a Harang type pitcher. I would say we could get a #3, maybe potential #2. I’m just not buying that teams with #1’s would be willing to trade them for a 30 something SS.

  119. Justin,

    The Braves are only responsible for $6MM of his salary, so from their end, that’s the difference.

    Alex,

    There’s no way the Braves get anyone close to Harang’s level for Renteria. People don’t trade aces, or even legit #2s, for shortstops older than 30 with one year left on their contract.

    I really think a solid #3 is the best we could hope for and, at the same time, the absolute baseline for which I’d consider trading Edgar.

  120. We were having a nice little discussion…with no smart remarks, until this:

    “I’m not jumping back into any Escobar arguments, since they are basically pointless when Tony is involved, but the difference in salary next year will be closer to $11 million.”

    Grow up man. We were having a discussion not an argument. If you don’t want to discuss it, then don’t.

  121. I agree with JoshQ. You aren’t going to get an ace for someone like Renteria unless you find a team like Oakland that had to unload Hudson. But even then, they wanted a prospect. At this point,I doubt the Braves have enough to get a Harang even if the Reds were willing to trade. Let’s face it, shortstops, no matter how good, are not as important as starting pitching. Frankly, I don’t know what the hell the Braves will do for pitching. Hope that James gets another pitch, that Jo Jo Reyes develops quickly, and that Smoltz can pitch until he’s 45. That’s why they have to sort of go for it now.

  122. If all we can get for Edgar is another No. 3 starter, I am staunchly opposed to trading him. It’s simply not worth it.

    While I do think higher of Escobar now than I did last week, I really don’t think he’s all that close to what Edgar can provide us offensively, seeing as he is a singles hitter with absolutely no power whatsoever, and while his defense is better than Edgar’s, Edgar is still extremely underrated in this regard.

    If I may make an incredibly oversimplified comparison which is probably gonna get me yelled at, it would be like trading Jeff Kent for Luis Castillo.

  123. Renteria could get us a Garland/Blanton type pitcher at best. We need to trade him for anyone that could help out our rotation.

  124. I think Carlyle could be a very good #5 next year, he throws strikes, but he doesnt have a dominant pitch. That scares me a little

  125. I always assumed the Braves would have to add something else of value to net a good starter.

    I would love to have Joe Blanton but enough with the Garland talk. He’s really not very good.

  126. Statements like this:

    “While I do think higher of Escobar now than I did last week, I really don’t think he’s all that close to what Edgar can provide us offensively, seeing as he is a singles hitter with absolutely no power whatsoever”

    The ball he hit in Arizona, showed me the man has some pop in his bat. His approach is so much similar to Edgar, in they both purposely hit from center to right. As with Francouer this year, Yunel is not trying to hit homeruns. I know I’m not the only one seeing this. C’mon now fellas are you just teasing me?

  127. Unlike Francoeur this year (or any year), Yunel shows no signs of being able to hit for power. I define power, BTW, as more than 1 or 2 HRs per season, no matter how “powerful” those isolated blasts look.

  128. Escobar could be a good bat to have in your lineup. Not everyone has to hit with power to be a positive on a teams offense. Renteria for a #3 is a good deal in my book. I don’t like the Garland idea that was floated around though. Renteria has done a good job of improving his value and the facts are that he is not the long term solution for the Braves at SS. If we don’t trade him this offseason, then we’ll probably just keep him and collect draft picks when the time comes.

  129. In this day and age, I would say a middle infielder would have to hit 10 homers in a season to be considered as having any sort of power at all.

    And while Escobar hasn’t been up a full season, his current pace would not equal 10 over a full season.

  130. lets face it, Furcal has a lot more power than Escobar. I want to see how Escobar handles a slump of some sort before I want to hand him the everyday job

  131. Mets fans remind me of my little brother when he was 7. He would talk so much smack, & then I would finally get him back & he’d act like it was the end of the world, & I was the problem all along.

  132. Nick,

    In Renteria’s first three seasons, he never hit more than five homers. I don’t think HR power is a necessity.

    Plus, Escobar is a lot better defensively than Renteria.

    I agree that he’ll probably never hit a ton of homers, but if he had a season’s worth of at bats, he’d be around 40 doubles. Thats not bad.

  133. I’m not worried about Escobar’s power, we have enough of that in our offense. We need a few guys that can play small ball when needed. Laying down a bunt, getting on base for the big hitters, moving runners over, Escobar is Renteria without the leadership (right now), experience, and power, but the kid can play

  134. If I remember right, the Braves have to pay all of Renteria’s salary next year. If that is the case, it seems certain they’ll trade him in the offseason since they have not 1 but 2 highly touted shortstop prospects that can take his place. I’m not sold on Escobar’s offense as an everday shortstop in this era of offensive shortstops especially with the team likely losing a lot of power if Andruw leaves to free agency followed by Teixeira a year later.

  135. Nick,

    This is unbelievable. In this line-up do we need Escobar to hit homeruns? You can’t tell me the guy the same size as Hanley, Edgar, bigger than KJ and makes as much contact as he does…will not have any power. You are fooling yourselves and I’m not going to be the one to say I told you so when it happens…like I haven’t so far. Words like never, absolutely normally comes back and bites you in the ass. Let’s just watch.

    Stu, please remember this post.

  136. Since it’s obvious that our payroll is increasing and we don’t know how much, perhaps we should stop assuming that we can’t re-sign or pay for people until we know the specifics of the payroll.

  137. Yunel vs Edgar – Yunel has way less pop, way better defense. Similar approach, similar BA and neither really famous for taking a walk.

    I’m sorry but I have to say Yunel will be BETTER in a year. I don’t know why you’d say players don’t get better in the major leagues. Edgar Renteria never even hit .290 in the minor leagues. He maxed out at 7 HR in the minors.

    Edgar, however, will not contine to put up numbers like he’s doing now. And even if he does, he will lose another step in the field. And then another. And then another. And that’s only if you resign him. If you don’t resign him, he walks in a year and you get nothing for him.

    Edgar is at his maximum value, and also at his maximum salary. You will get MORE value out of Yunel if you PLAY him.

    BESIDES THAT: Do you want Edgar at short batting second, and Lance Cormier on the mound? Or do you want Yunel at short batting second, and a pitcher on the mound who can give you a 14-9 with a 3.90?

  138. It doesn’t matter to me if he hits a ton of HRs. I think the primary concern for a SS should be defense and in that regard, Yunel is a stud.

    That being said I don’t think .300 .350 .450 with 5-10 HR 30-40 doubles as being unrealistic or unacceptable for a big league shorstop. I’d definietly take it

  139. Tony,

    Have players all of a sudden developed power in the majors? Yes. Is it wise to assume that it’ll happen with a player who has no history of it? Um…no.

  140. WFAN today is a Met whinefest on steroids—very entertaining.

    One Metfan caller: “The difference between us & the Braves right now is that we’re a team full of singles hitters and they are loaded with boppers. Look at the trade deadline—the Braves get a big bat & we get a singles hitter.

    “Willie says he’s willing to sacrifice offense for defense right now, and he puts Marlon Anderson & Shawn Green out there—the worst defensive outfielders on the team!

    People discussing how Maine has never pitched this many innings, Perez is a headcase, Pedro can’t get out single-A hitters. Talk about the sky falling…

  141. Edgar broke into the bigs as a 20 year old, and spent three valuable development years learning at the Major League level. He had breakout years as a 23 and 24 year old where he hit 11 and 16 hr’s respectively. Escobar is already 24 and doesn’t show nearly as much power, but stats don’t really matter at this point.

  142. In fairness, Ububba, some of our conversations are like that too. I did think the argument about whether David Wright was to blame for the loss by hitting a home run was pretty hilarious. At that point, it’s probably time to call for the straightjacket.

    Alex,

    I didn’t realize that Macon had become the People’s Republic of Macon. How did this guy get elected? Does he think he’s in San Francisco?

  143. EDGAR

    17 yo rk .288 .329 .350 .679 0 HR
    18 yo a .203 .268 .232 .500 1 HR
    19 yo a+ .253 .307 .292 .599 0 HR
    20 yo aa .289 .329 .388 .717 7 HR
    21 yo aaa .280 .326 .386 .712 2 HR MINORS
    21 yo MLB .309 .358 .399 .757 5 HR MAJORS
    22 yo MLB .277 .327 .340 .667 4 HR
    23 yo MLB .282 .347 .342 .689 3 HR
    24 yo MLB .275 .334 .400 .734 11 HR
    25 yo MLB .278 .346 .423 .769 16 HR

    YUNEL

    22 yo rk .400 .472 .733 1.205 2 HR
    22 yo a .313 .358 .470 .828 4 HR
    23 yo aa .262 .359 .343 .702 2 HR
    24 yo aaa .333 .379 .456 .835 2 HR
    24 yo MLB .331 .373 .414 .787 1 HR

    Yunel’s numbers were better at every level in the minor leagues. Of course, Yunel was old for every level where as Edgar was young or average for every level.

    The point is, Edgar never showed ANY power until the ages of 24 and 25. Yunel is just getting to that age. Calling Edgar and Yunel drastically different players may be a year or two premature.

  144. Thanks JJ you state a good point Edgar was still growing and developing, while Yunel is prett much what he is going to be, he is already close to his ceiling, which is an inferior player to Edgar and Kelly offensively. Its not a bad thing, it just is what it is.

  145. Well age and experience don’t go hand in hand in this case, is my point.

    Yunel might not BE exactly what he’s going to be. He’s BEEN ALIVE as long as Edgar had been when Edgar broke out, but he’s had 3 fewer years of PRO EXPERIENCE than Edgar had had.

  146. I guess that last post made no real point.

    My point is Yunel IS at least a .290 no-pop big-glove man.

    I’d say after one more year we can see what he WILL be. Either a .310 no-pop big glove, or a .330, 15 HR big glove man… The second being just like Edgar, but with better defense.

  147. Wouldn’t you guess that the Cuban league is at least the equivalent to AAA? If so then Escobar probably had just as much development time in an equivalent league as Edgar.

  148. I don’t think you can make that comparison.

    Yunel was supposedly a superior caliber player in Cuba. He came over, and dominated RK and A ball. AA competition caught up to him. So maybe AA is the level of play in Cuba? Double A was also his first time reaching 400 ABs. So maybe the grind caught up to him, I don’t have game logs available to me.

    So for arguments sake, call all his years in Cuba years in AA. Edgar still had those same 3 years in the MAJORS, not in Cuba.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *