46 thoughts on “What I mean when I say Chuck James wasn’t the problem”

  1. Well yeah when you have to come out in the 5th inning and your team has a good offense, often it will be your relievers that end up picking up the decision.

  2. Looking through James’ 2007 game log, I count four undeserved wins (games in which the offense bailed him out) versus two tough losses (games in which he pitched well enough to win, but we didn’t hit). That’s not counting the 4 ER in 5.1 IP at Coors, a game which we won.

    As the #3 starter, James is neither a problem nor a solution. As a #4, he’d be a solution. As a #2, he’d be a problem. Rinse. Repeat as necessary.

  3. What I mean when I say yes he was:
    Chuck James-Last 10 starts-July 25th to Sept 25th

    50.2 Innings pitched (looks a lot like 5 per game)

    3-3 record 5.68 ERA
    16 HRs- at least one every game, except against the hapless Marlins on Sept. 19th. Four on August 16th and two more on his next start.

    I don’t feel neutral about him. I think he has a helluva lot to prove. Maybe he was hurt. Is he better now? Because at crunch time, he was crap.

  4. I think I was misread on the idea of a 6-man rotation so I thought i should clear that up…The idea was that IF Hampton was healthy enough to start the year (and this is highly unlikely so the entire idea was probably moot anyway) then him and Bennett would SHARE the 5th spot in the rotation, with Bennett maybe giving the older guys a rest ONCE EACH throughout the first half (read: they would only lose ONE start, IF they needed the break). I was by no means suggesting a full-blown six-man rotation where BOTH Bennett and Hampton would get a turn and thus take turns away from Smoltz, Hudson, and Glavine.

    I do stand by my previous point that I would bet good money Bennett is on the 25-man as a swing guy as long he is decent (not god awful, that is) in the spring..Bennett had the arm surgery excuse in his past and pitched decent enough at the end of the year and in winter ball that I seriously doubt a team that gave Davies et al. a million chances is going to just dump a live arm without getting anything back.

  5. I agree that he was crap. His inability to consistently get past the fifth inning wore out the bullpen. Most of his starts — all year long — ended with him heading to the showers before the 6th. He sure seemed like a problem to me.

  6. Chuck James was only a “problem” if you say it’s his fault they relied on him to be a #3 starter in his first full year in the majors. All things considered, he did fine. It was more a problem of being forced to rely on him to be the #3 guy in the rotation. If you have his numbers as a #4 or #5 guy, he’s fine.

    And I’d just like to go ahead and applaud Kevin for cherry-picking 10 starts (during which James was injured) and deciding that, based on that, “he was crap at crunch time”. It’s also convinient that you start counting right after a string of four consecutive outings averaging over 6IP per start and allowing a total of 3ER.

    So yeah, clearly conclusive data there.

    My point: don’t expect a guy in his first full year to be a “stopper” in your rotation unless he’s like Justin Verlander (who, incidentally, also choaked (meaning: got tired because he was pitching tons more ML innings than he ever had in the past) down the stretch in his first full year.

  7. Using the word “crap” is an insult to Chuck James.

    #3, the Braves went 6-4 in those games. Crap?

    #5, which bullpen pitcher exactly was “worn out” because of Chuck James? I can’t think of one. Proof your point, please. The bullpen was solid all year long.

    Most of his starts — all year long — ended with him heading to the showers before the 6th.

    This is flat-out wrong. He “headed to the showers before the 6th” in not even half of his starts, in 14 of 30 to be exact. And he did complete 5 innings in 8 of those 14 starts.

  8. The fact that the 4/5 starters were horrendous doesn’t necessarily mean that James wasn’t a problem–just that he wasn’t THE

  9. I did that to keep everyone in suspense. I meant to say that he wasn’t the main problem. He wasn’t the reason they didn’t make the playoffs. ON the other hand, if he had pitched better, they might have been able to overcome the back end of the rotation. I’m open-minded about Chuck; I hope he improves to more than a league average number 3 starter.

  10. But maybe the fact of how we were only up 4 games for all of Smoltz’ great pitching is also a problem. Nothing I can think of that would cause it other than freaky luck in scoring low when Smoltz pitched. And, I guess, if your offense is going to stink, that is the best time to do it (because you will still have a chance to win).

    Potential problem with the “fixed catcher roatation” suggested by Cox. IF second catcher is say Sammons (good defense, little hitting even at AA) then the pithcer that gets him starts off 60 or so OPS points down for the lineup that day. OUCH.

    I wish Cox would float the second catcher across the entire rotation by going every 5th DAY not game. That way each pitcher works with McCann. I always felt the Maddux / Javy problem caused us a lot of problems in the postseason. With all of the off days, a front line catcher should be able to start every game. And, when you are giving up 300 ops points at one position in the postseason where runs are so precious, that is a problem.

  11. Sure, if James had pitched like Sandy Koufax in 1963, he would have made the difference. Realistically, barring absolutely superb work he couldn’t have been worth five games. The back end of the rotation was so bad that just barely competent work from them would have been worth that.

    McCann caught every inning Smoltz pitched last year.

  12. The fact that the 4/5 starters were horrendous doesn’t necessarily mean that James wasn’t a problem–just that he wasn’t THE

    Why are so many here seemingly so hard on Chuck James and so passive towards Buddy Carlyle? You would think last season’s pitching problems were all James’ fault.

  13. James allowed 4.3 runs a game last season. If the Braves had allowed 4.3 runs a game (by all pitchers) in the 66 games started by pitchers not Smoltz, Hudson, or James, and scored five runs a game (their season average) they would have a projected record in those games of 38-28. That’s eleven games better than their actual record in those starts. Obviously this is extremely hypothetical, but if the Braves had had a couple more James-level pitchers they’d have been on pace to win 95 games.

  14. Carlyle had a certain amount of passable work, and then sucked very hard at the end. The thing is, he would have been alright as a #5 if he had filled that role all year. The trouble is that he was our #4. Our #5 was even worse.

  15. Carlyle was giving the Braves 7 inning quality starts when James was giving 5. But then Carlyle fell apart.

    The bottomline is I don’t trust either starter and if Mike Hampton actually was healthy, I would rather see Jurgjens over James for the 5th spot.

    I think Jurgjens might be better.

  16. You are correct about Carlyle, AAR. And if memory serves me, wasn’t there a brief period when James went down that Carlyle really was the #3? Or am I just having the same brain spasm that caused me to agree that a 6 man rotation might work out (though I must state in my own defense that I only argued for it if Hampton was a part of the rotation. So realistically, was I really arguing for it? He’s not going to make it past Spring Training, after all.)?

  17. The analysis hasn’t changed. If Chuck is your third starter, you’ve got a problem. 11 QS out of 30 is back of the rotation stuff.

    If Glavine and Jurrjens can suck up some innings so we only have to empty the pen on James’ starts, things will go a lot better this year.

  18. If Glavine and Jurrjens

    Glavine and Hampton…..

    (Will Cox have Glavine, Hampton and James going back-to-back-to-back?)

  19. Chuck James was a problem. Anytime a starter can’t give you six innings 80% of the time, he’s a problem.

    That’s not to say James was even a main problem because at least he was occasionally good enough to win games for this team, but let’s not excuse his problems by saying, “yeah, well so-and-so was worse.”

  20. but let’s not excuse his problems by saying, “yeah, well so-and-so was worse.”

    Sure you can. This thread was started to do just that.

    He wasn’t the worse player on the team, so he can’t be assigned any blame. Keep up.

  21. And if James had pitched as well as he had in 2006 as a starter, the Braves would have won the division. Actually, they should have won the division anyway according to expected win-loss.

    Oh well.

  22. I agree with Mac that James isn’t the problem with the rotation, and I don’t think removing him will make us any better. A rotation with a competent 1-3 (as we have), James as 4th starter, and Hampton/Reyes/Jurjjens/Bennett is a pretty darn good rotation. When James is relied upon too heavily, then obviously he becomes a disappointment. Blame management for not bringing in a competent third starter before you blame James for his performance.

  23. James was average, and average has a lot of value, especially for a team that scores the third-most runs in the league. If the Braves had gotten average from the bottom of the rotation they would have won (with the caveat that they “should” have won anyway).

    Dream, James didn’t pitch that much worse than he did in 2006. It’s a one or two game difference. (The Braves went 11-7 in his starts that year.) The difference between James in 2007 and the 4th/5th starters in 2007 was immense. And people are arguing that he should be ejected from the rotation — in favor of Jeff Bennett, and his two good starts, or Jo-Jo Reyes, who was one of the prime culprits in the disaster, or Charlie Morton, whose entire resume basically comes down to one good start in the Arizona Fricking Fall League — not just moved down.

  24. I personally believe that James has all the tools to become a fantastic starter- but he needs one more pitch. The problem with soft throwers is that once you’ve figured them out, they are done, comparably, hard throwers don’t need to fool you- just challenge you. One more pitch, just one more decent pitch, James- that’s all we ask of you…

  25. Oh, I don’t have no problem with James sticking around. Jeff Bennett doesn’t interest me. I do think Reyes can be better than James, but maybe not this year. I definitely wouldn’t go through arbitration with James after this year without considerable improvement in innings pitched, though.

  26. #26

    Possibly the first post ever to belittle each of two directly opposing viewpoints. That’s quite an accomplishment.

  27. You can only blame James for not improving from 2006. However, he did what he supposed to do as a fourth starter. We all judge him using the standard for being a third starter in the rotation because he was indeed the third best starter in the team. I agree with Mac that James was not the problem, the problem was that JS was counting on Hampton to be the third starter.

  28. I’m still waiting on a more official confirmation, but perhaps MLB Trade Rumors actually got something right this time.

    If it’s Jones and Sherrill, and if Bavasi holds onto Morrow, Clement, and Truinfel, then I think it’s a solid deal for Seattle. Adam Jones is a great young prospect, but Bedard may actually make the Mariners competitive to win the AL West. I also kind of like the deal for Baltimore, though I’m confused why they would covet a 30-year old middle reliever, considering that this is basically becoming a firesale.

  29. Mac good points. A lot of folks just have the image of James getting blown up in the 5th inning burned into their synapses.

  30. James’s 2007 FIP was 5.41, which would have been 4th worst in the league if he qualified.

    Simply put, he gives up home runs with the frequency of a cheap ham radio…*and* he puts people on base. The two don’t mix, and he’ll have to eliminate one of them if he’s going to be successful over the long-term. Only a few pitchers have gone on to solid careers with an extreme FB/GB ratio like James’s.

    That said, I’m not throwing in the towel on Chuck, he still has potential if he can learn to keep the ball down. But he hasn’t been a very good pitcher to this point and IMO his decent ERAs mask some serious weaknesses.

  31. I’m a big fan of James, but I agree that the FIP bothers me. I hope that it was only because of the shoulder injury, because he’s never had problems with a lot of baserunners in the past.

  32. FIP is short for ‘Fielding Independent Pitching.’ It focuses on the three statistics a pitcher has the most control over: strikeouts, walks, and HRs. It ignores hits other than HRs because they are (mostly) dependent on luck and defense. FIP approximates what a pitcher’s ERA ‘should’ have been given an average hit rate against.

    It sounds a bit crazy, but FIP is a better predictor of future ERA than ERA. So it’s a good tool to use in predicting a pitcher’s future, though it’s not without fault. You can read more about it at The Hardball Times (under TangoTiger).

    James last year gave up HRs on 14% on the fly balls he allowed. That rate isn’t good, but the main problem is he gives up a TON of fly balls. So HRs become plentiful. I still think he’s going to have to change something. Maybe Glavine can work with him. One thing Tommy was always good at was keeping the ball in the park.

  33. Only a few pitchers have gone on to solid careers with an extreme FB/GB ratio like James’s.

    To be fair, only a few pitchers have had James’ FB/GB ratio in the first place.

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