Rafael Soriano

The Braves started the season with three Closers™ in the bullpen. At the end, there was only one, Soriano, who should start the year as the closer. Since the Braves’ closer role is cursed, something eventually will happen to him, but for now it seems in good hands.

Soriano was great in most of his appearances, but when he gave up runs tended to give them up in bunches. He had four appearances in which he allowed three earned runs each time, for a total of twelve; he had 67 other appearances, and allowed a total of twelve earned runs in all of those combined. (He allowed two unearned runs, one of them in one of the four three-run appearances.) Actually, he also had two appearances in which he gave up two runs, meaning he had 65 in which he allowed a total of eight earned runs. All in all, in came to a 3.00 ERA. It’s a matter of opinion if it’s better to allow all your runs in a few appearances or spread them out. (Well, I’m sure it’s been studied, anyone know the solution?)

Soriano’s biggest problem was home runs, as he allowed twelve, far more than any other reliever on the Braves’ ground-ball-oriented staff. This actually argues in favor of using him as a closer, because other relievers often come in with runners on base. Did his best pitching in the closer role and allowed a line of .099/.172/.209 when pitching the ninth inning. Was also best on short rest, pitching very well the day after pitching or with only one day off, not as well with two or more days off. The difference wasn’t really that great, though. Allowed ten of his runs, including five of his homers, in just 43 PA when the score wasn’t close (more than four runs).

Rafael Soriano Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

174 thoughts on “Rafael Soriano”

  1. Early in the year, Soriano had some games where he came in with big leads and gave up a couple runs. No big deal. Otherwise, he was killing people. Then he had a stretch where he was giving up key home runs and blew a few games. Finally, he straightened out and was solid at the end of the season. I think it’s a bit misleading to talk about the number of runs he gave up because, in a number of cases he was only charged with one run but it a home run that turned the game around. I like him as a closer if he can keep from going through a funk again.

  2. I’ve never seen the quote where Soriano talks about how he hates opposing batters…or something to that effect. Anyone care to paraphrase?

  3. For a reliever, I’d have to think it’s much better to allow all your runs in a few appearances and be dominant the rest of the time.

  4. Love Soriano’s attitude. Very aggressive pitcher with the stuff to back it up. Casual observation shows a lot of movement on a plus fastball. I think last seasons stretch of homers was a combination of bad luck and fatigue. I’m really cool with this dude being the CLOSER (sorry don’t know how to do the tm thingy) but I thought that when Wicky was still the CLOSER Soriano was even more effective as the true fireman. The guy that snuffed rallies out in high leverage situations. But Moylan did a great job and I expect that he;ll be as good at it this year too. Caveat. Relief pitchers are notoriously season to season.

  5. #3

    I agree, especially as a closer. If you’ve gone out and lost the game anyway, might as well make it spectacular.

  6. Let’s not forget how down people were on Soriano when he was giving up those home runs. I remember people talking about how his fastball didn’t have movement and he sucked and, oh no, don’t bring in Soriano, and so on. I like him but I’m not completely sold until he shows he can be effective all year.

  7. Soriano’s good. I don’t really care about the HRs and such. I figure he’ll blow 5 and save like 30-40 this year. Maybe more, since I figure the Braves will win like 90.

  8. Soriano’s biggest problem in 2007 was Bobby Cox.

    There were way too many games where we were either ahead by 4+ runs or behind by a few runs, and we would use Soriano.

    In all the time Bobby has been Braves manager, his use of the bullpen has beenm, by far, my least favorite part of his day to day managing of the Braves. I always think it’s been his biggest achilles heel.

    Soriano’s problems usually happened because he was worn out from overuse. This was a problem in general with the entire pen.

    Now admittedly, Chuck James’ performance as the #3 starter, failing to get past the 5th too often, and basically nothing from the 4 and 5 slots (though there was about 6 solid weeks from Buddy Carlyle) did lead to higher bullpen use, but I then go back to the example of say a Joey Devine – had Bobby tried to use say a Devine or other solid relievers a bit more in semi pressure situations, he wouldn’t have gone to the well every damned time with Soriano and Wickman, rendering both less effective.

  9. I’m one who got down on Soriano, mainly because it seemed (seems) to me that he has a pretty straight fastball and a breaking ball that either won’t break or that he has difficulty throwing.

    That said, it obviously works pretty well for him, and I love the apparent nasty attitude. I think he’ll make a fine closer this year.

  10. Alex,

    I agree, it has always been interesting how Cox handles the different parts of the pitching staff (bullpen and starters). He seems to be very intuned with his starters, and makes sure they get the necessary rest. Cox relies too often on a few members (Sorian, Moylan, etc…) of the bullpen and will put them out there in situations that are not necessary.

  11. In other news, following the injury to MITCHELL REPORT-ACCUSED catcher Paul Lo Duca, the Nationals went and signed Johnny Estrada.

    So that’ll shore up their offense.

  12. Kenny,

    Yeah – it is rather funny to me that Cox has generally done a good job with starting pitching, but can’t get it together when it comes to the ‘pen. I think it’s harder to manage a bullpen because that’s day to day – it doesn’t take a genius to rotate 5 pitchers every fifth day, which is maybe why it’s harder to screw up starters.


    AAR, can we really be surprised at all that the Nats would add another mediocre ex-Brave? I am surprised they haven’t signed Ryan Klesko yet.

    Carroll Rogers of the AJC is apparently a Bravesjournal reader:


    Funny how this is front page for the AJC sports section, about an hour after Mac posts on Soriano.

    I guess this proves that the AJC goes to Mac (and not the other way around) for their Braves information.

  13. Boy, it’s weird to read Carroll Rogers — or any AJC sports columnist, for that matter — use the word “Oy.” Particularly as its own paragraph.

    For some reason s’iz bay mir nit azoy korekt.

  14. Bobby did a hell of a job with the bullpen in previous years, such as 2002, when he took a bunch of nobodies and made it a great bullpen. Granted, perhaps Mazzone deserves a lot of credit for that. In fairness to Cox, it’s easy to say he used the same guys too often with big leads but how often has the Braves bullpen taken a 5 or 6 run lead and ended up making the game close? That wears on a team after a while. My impression is that there were games that he simply didn’t want to take any chances with and he went with the guys he had confidence in. If the starters were able to go deeper into games, it would be less of a problem. And I’m not sure that pitching in a blowout is all that stressful on a pitcher. If Soriano’s problem is that he was pitching too much, how was he able to recover at the end of the year.

  15. Sorry, Marc, but from what I have witnessed with the Braves since 1991, the bullpen has been consistently mis-handled and ineptly used.

    It’s always been the weakest part of Cox’s managing, and sadly the most critical when we used to actually make the post season.

    Just because there were occassional years like ’02 that worked out better for the most part, doesn’t change that for the majority of the last 16 years, the ‘pen has mostly been mishandled.

  16. Every fan base thinks their manager can’t run a bullpen effectively. Comments like Alex’s can be found on a blog for every team somewhere. The stats say the Braves have had good if not great bullpens (save the Kolb/Reitsma years where JS gave him no viable options) while Bobby’s been here and that’s good enough for me.

    That said, any time Bobby wants to stop using the closer to protect a five run lead in the ninth, I’d be cool with that.

    As for Soriano, he’ll likely be fine. Although I found it tough to really trust him since that bout with gopheritis last season.

  17. Good attempt at marginalizing my comments, Robert.

    But I am far from alone at complaining the way Bobby has used the bullpen. Mac and many others have complained consistently, over the years.

  18. Bobby leaves relievers in too long when they are struggling, pitches them too many days back to back, prefers to pitch bad veteran relievers over more talented youngsters, and uses righty-lefty match ups ignoring the actual splits for batters/relievers. No doubt the same could be said for most major league managers and often Shuerholz hasn’t given Bobby the best pen to work with that one would want.

  19. Additionally, Bobby’s questionable use of the bullpen or who is a “good” reliever or a “bad reliever in his mind, is the reason we just gave away Joey Devine.

    Now again, I am more positive towards Kotsay than most on here, but if you want to delve into the reasons Joey Devine was sent packing, look no further than Bobby Cox’s disdain for the young man.

    Yet how many times, game after game after game, did Reitsma or Kolb or to a lesser extent, Villareal, have to go in and screw up the game before said pitcher was yanked or had his role reduced or taken away?

    As much as we want to criticize other Major League managers on their use of the bullpen, what I saw from Bobby Cox in terms of Kolbb and Reitsma, NO other Manager would have allowed that kind of garbage pitching to go on for as long.

    I will defend Cox on many fronts – including being a super nice guy when I met him – but his use of the bullpen has been wretched, far too much.

  20. What bothers me most about Cox is that he seems to slot players into roles based on what inning they pitch rather than what situation they should enter the game into.

  21. Clearly, Bobby used Soriano (and others)in unnecessary situations last year. However,while you might attribute ineffectiveness of some of the pitchers to overuse, I don’t think you can use overwork as an excuse for Soriano’s bad period since he seemed to pitch better with less rest and pitched better at the end of the season. I think he just had a bad stretch where he was having trouble locating the ball; perhaps Stu is correct that he doesn’t have that much movement so that he has less margin for error.

    As for Cox’s handling of the bullpen generally, I acknolwedge that it’s probably a weakness, especially in recent years. On the other hand, JS didn’t exactly invest a lot in the bullpen (perhaps correctly)and Bobby got a lot from relative nobodies or discards, such as McMichael,Chris Hammond, and Darren Holmes. When Bobby has had a solid closer, ie, Wohlers (95-96) or Smoltz, the bullpen hasn’t been that much of a problem. I know everyone is going to say he screwed up in the 1996 World Series, but it doesn’t seem that indefensible to bring in your closer in the 8th inning. It certainly wasn’t the reason they lost the Series.

  22. I’m actually in favor of bringing your closer into the game in the 8th inning if the situation calls for it. I think that if you’re in a one or two run game in the 8th inning and there are multiple runners on base you ought to use your closer. Presumably he’s the most likely pitcher to get someone out without letting someone get on base. Also, in that situation you KNOW that the lead is threatened. What is the point of saving your closer for the 9th inning by which point you may be losing because the runners on base scored on your second best reliever. If the closer blows it in the 8th and you don’t have him for extra innings then that sucks but it was still the right call. If he gets out of the inning, he can probably still pitch at least one batter in the 9th. If your closer can’t close out an inning then you’re screwed anyway.

  23. All said and done, 70 appearances is not a lot for a reliever. Only person I thought Bobby overused last year was Moylan.

    As to how he handles bullpen, what makes Bobby so good to players is what sucks to watch as a fan. He believes that you can do the job, and will keep on handing you to the job till you prove you definitely can’t handle it.
    Was the same case with Willie Harris too. Villareal early in the year, and then he could barely get a game. How many rookies make the postseason roster after giving up 2 GS and nearly a third?
    At this point, you got to man up and accept it. Bobby is not going to change. He is not going panic and yank people after 1 or 2 bad outings. And frankly makes sense in the bigger picture. Its Bobby’s equivalent of the “small sample size” argument.

  24. Just because someone points out some of the faults of Cox’s managerial style does not mean he does not do plenty of other things very well. You would be hard pressed to find a bigger supporter of Bobby than me. When you watched the team last year there were plenty of times where he could have brought in a junk relief pitcher in blowout games, instead he would often pitch Soriano and/or Moylan in a game that had already been decided. He would even do this with both of them having plenty of work over the previous week. If you look back in the entries over the season you will see he did this too often.

    I will say though, I thought he managed a lot looser over the last month or two of the season. Bobby was pulling guys that were not being productive and was switching around the lineups more frequently. I think Bobby is still managing at a high level.

  25. Alex has always been harsher on Cox than I have, but I can’t argue with him that Cox hasn’t been an ideal bullpen manager. Soriano and Tyler Yates both suffered a summer dead-arm that looked to me like a symptom of racking up huge innings in the first half. Yates did the same thing in 2006, of course, and Reitsma’s dead-arm following overuse was legendary.

    His mismanagement of Joey Devine comes down to one game for me, Devine’s ML debut. Devine, 21 years old with 26 innings of minor league experience, came in to pitch the 12th inning of an extra-inning game. He gave up a single but got through the inning. Then Cox decided to stretch him to the 13th, and we all know what happened next. The poor guy lost his control, gave up a single, an IBB, walked another guy, and then… boom.

    There was just no reason to stretch him an extra inning, and I think that giving up a grand slam in his first major league appearance had a seriously negative effect both on Devine’s psyche and on Cox’s willingness to use him.

    Bobby’s a good manager, but he overuses his relievers. In Devine’s case, I think he personally messed up a guy who otherwise would have been good for us long before now.

  26. It’s worth pointing out that Cox pretty much had to overwork the bullpen due to Chuck “5 1/3 innings” James, Mike “0 games started” Hampton, and the black hole that was the 5th starter position.

  27. Ron,

    I agree with you on some level.

    Yes, Chuck and the 4-5 starters really hampered the Braves and forced the ‘pen in, way too often.

    But there were times where we would carry 7-8 relievers, and, as we have all pointed out, there were too many times in April and May when Bobby would stick Soriano in a 7-2 type game.

    Those were the games that really killed many of us.

  28. AAR, about Devine’s debut, take a look at the game logs for August 18-20. Cox had gone to the bullpen 12 times in those three games for a total of 14 IP by relievers. Devine was called up because the pen was ragged, and Cox still waited until the 12th inning (and until three other relievers had pitched) to put him in. Probably said, “OK kid, do your best” or something. I can’t call that mismanagement.

  29. Last year’s bullpen had some extraordinary depth, and there were times that we took advantage of this, and others when we did not. The bullpen was so deep that we were able to lose both our closer and our best reliever (Mike Gonzalez). There were other times when we did not take advantage of that depth (see all the previous comments).

  30. The only reliever I think was overused was Yates (coming tomorrow!) He didn’t have the innings totals of some others, but that’s because he was so bad when he was overworked that he couldn’t get through the inning.

  31. seems to me its a tricky shot in the dark when any manager has to use his pen so much. i mean, he knows these guys and uses his judgement as to the situation they pitch. if they get in a game and screw it up, the manager is an idiot, but if they do their job, nobody says “damn that was a great move bringing that guy in the sixth inning”

  32. Only person I thought Bobby overused last year was Moylan.

    Moylan didn’t slow down. I think he can pitch 90 innings again and be just fine.

    It wasn’t even that long ago that 100+ innings for relief pitchers was normal.

  33. When your mid-to-end-of-rotation starters are getting whipped, the notion of bullpen management always gets discussed.

    I’m not going to go crazy about bullpen management, especially when we were trotting out Chuck James & guys worse than that 60-percent of the time.

    You don’t want to give away games, but you don’t want to burn out your relievers either—it’s a tough tightrope. But I’ll say this: I don’t pretend to know what’s going on with pitchers’ arms at any given moment better than the guys running the team.

    That’s not blind faith. It’s really just an acknowlegement that our 3-4-5 starters need to absorb more innings.

    I like Soriano & I think he’s a fine option to have. I think our relief corps will be OK this year, but (like most fans) I’m always nervous.

  34. IMO, bullpen management is something that is very, very easy to pick apart Monday-morning-quarterback-style. There are a couple reasons for this, and the first (and probably most important one) is that it’s rarely obvious which innings or ABs will be critical before hand. Here’s a for-instance that has definitely happened before: your closer hasn’t pitched in 3 days (no save ops, whatever), so you bring him in to get an inning of work in a blowout. Fine move at the time, he needs to get his reps in or he’ll get rusty (this really did seem to be an issue with Soriano), whatever. Problem is, next 2 games you have a close-and-late situation, so you’ve got to bring in The Closer for a third consecutive night. He get shelled (no doubt “because he’s tired”) and bam, it’s the managers’ fault that you blew the game. Worse still, next game is another save op, and you CLEARLY can’t bring in the closer a 4th night in a row, so you don’t, blow that one, and then it’s ANOTHER game you lose because of the manager. Or maybe you don’t bring him in that 2nd night and the non-closer blows it (again, manager’s fault) and then you don’t have another save op for a week.

    Sure, that doesn’t happen all the time, some times the bone-headed moves work out well and the manager is a genius, etc. Point is, it’s unpredictable going in but looks painfully obvious in retrospect. And either way the ball tumbles, the manager often gets credit. It seems a lot like the economy and Presidents to me. Presidents get WAY too much credit for how the economy performs under their tenure, either up or down, and managers get way too much credit/blame for using/not using the right/wrong guy in a particular situation.

    Another part of this is that there’s a lot of bullpen management that isn’t observable, particularly how many pitches a guy throws in a given outing and how many times a guy gets up in the ‘pen and doesn’t pitch. A guy warming up is just as good as a guy going out and pitching half an inning as far as ware on his arm goes. So you don’t want to waste it. This is why you some times get Soriano warming up (after pitching the previous day) in the top of an inning up by 2 runs only to have the Braves score 8 as he tosses. Do you bring him in with the 10-run lead because he’s already warm? Or do you warm another guy up and sit Soriano down, essentially wasting the “warm-up” cost to his arm? Toughie. And I can remember times last year when Yates (it was usually Yates) would get up in the pen in like 3 or 4 consecutive innings without making an appearance. Stuff like that can really hurt a guy’s arm. (I would think….)

    So anyhow, between all of that, it’s really tough to accurately observe how a guy has been using his pen, and even if you can, it’s a helluva lot easier to know what the “right” decision was in retrospect rather than at the time it was made.

    In the specific case of Cox, there were definitely some times last year when I was mystified as to what his train of thought was. Some times it would work out, some times not. But I really do think the main problem was having to throw like everyone out there over 2 or 3 day span (depending on how well James did) and then maybe one guy pitches each of the next two (Smoltz and Huddy) nights. Then allofasudden everyone’s got to “get some work in”, but you don’t want to get too much work in since you know you’ll need the pen to go like 6 in at least one of the next few games. All that makes for a very weird work schedule for guys in the ‘pen.

    If we can get some solid innings out of the starters, I think the ‘pen will be much better off next year.

  35. I’m with Dix (#27) about bringing in your best reliever in high leverage situations instead of only bringing him in once you’re already ahead in the 9th.

    Indeed, what chaps the hide is seeing your best relievers being used when you’re so far ahead that Chris Woodward could have closed the door. Now that’s some hyperbole.

  36. #40

    And AAR, look, Cox plays “favorites” with the offense as well.

    How else does anyone explain Keith Lockhart’s presence in Atlanta for 5 of the most excruciating years of my life.

    As much as we ALL hate Chris Woodward, it was at least only 1 season. Lockhart’s reign of below average terror lasted far longer.

    Lockhart is the worst Braves in the last 15 years. And that was a total Cox love affair until Lockhart had the audacity to complain about playing time.

    That’s akin to Matt Cassell coming out and questioning why Bill Belichick woulnd’t play Cassell ahead of Tom Brady.

  37. If my memory serves me correctly Soriano’s ineffective period came after Wick had went on the DL and Soriano was the close and was really effective and then when Wick came back, Soriano was demoted back to setup man. Thats when it seemed like he started to have trouble. When he went back to the closer role, he was lights out. I may just be crazy and it may be coincidnetal, but thats the way I remember it.

    I think it was a mental thing and not a physical problem.

  38. #43

    But Justin, had Cox not abused Soriano in April & May, he would have handled the Wickman DL time, far better.


    Stu, you may have erased the long years of Keith Lockhart in Atlanta, but I haven’t. There’s no other way to explain Lockhart being on the Braves for all those year other than that he was a Cox favorite and/or had compromising pictures of Cox he was holding over his head.

  39. There’s no evidence that Soriano was being abused, and he pitched best on short rest. Most of his runs — as I pointed out above — came either when he hadn’t pitched for awhile or when he was pitching with a big lead. Or both; if he hadn’t pitched for awhile Bobby (quite rightly) would use him to pitch the ninth to get him some work.

  40. AAR,
    Favorites in what respect? I’m sure Wickman was no fave.

    On another tip, I’ve seen Joe Torre manage a million games and he would come out and say it over & over, “A pitcher has to earn my trust.”

    That’s why you wouldn’t see a guy like Farnesworth in a high-leverage situation (if it could be helped) and you’d see Torre overuse guys like Ramiro Mendoza or Scott Procter, both of whom gave him some good work, minus the glory.

    That was Torre’s way of playing favorites.

  41. Alex,

    I was saying that some of Soriano’s best work came when Wick was on the DL and Soriano was the temporary closer. His trouble seemed to start when he went back to setupman. Almost like he was offended or pissed off that he wasn’t closing still. Then when they jettisoned Wickman and moved Soriano back to closing he became really effective again.

  42. I don’t think Cox is as extreme a favoritizer as Torre. But, yeah, I think he plays faves. Lockhart’s the obvious example on offense, and Woodward too. Pitching? Kevin Gryboski comes to mind for some reason.

    But least-favorites is probably the better way of putting it. It just always seemed like there were a couple relievers rotting away on the bench while Peter Moylan and Tyler Yates and Rafael Soriano were pitching all the innings. Mahay was a godsend.

    Maybe I’m overthinking it, though. Devine rotted back on the bench because he couldn’t throw strikes when it counted; same for McBride. Lerew couldn’t do much of anything right, nor could Fredo Ledezma. Paronto was no better than Gryboski.

    Look, I’m SURE that Bobby did something wrong and that I should be mad. Am I crazy?

  43. Gryboski was the annointed double-play inducer. I don’t know the numbers offhand, but Moylan seems to better fit that bill.

    Moylan is one of those guys that I just like. As long as he isn’t awful, I can root for him. Australian, looks like an accountant, anything but an ML ballplayer. Definitely someone you’d meet in a pub.

    I root for the goofy.

  44. Moylan is one of those guys that I just like. As long as he isn’t awful, I can root for him. Australian, looks like an accountant, anything but an ML ballplayer. Definitely someone you’d meet in a pub.

    I root for the goofy.

    Fully agree. I love him.

    Mahay was a godsend.

    Jon Daniels is no god.

  45. Well, that stinks.

    I never actually believed Santana could be had for the Poo Poo Platter. Sort of blows the mind.

    Let’s go get Bedard.

  46. Wow, 6 or 7 year deal with the mets. Great…. now we have possibly 6+ years of games vs Santana.

  47. Seems like my Twins got fleeced…. The best pitcher in the game for 4 prospects, and not even their best prospect.

  48. How does that happen? And how did we not get in on that if the Twins were that desperate?

  49. As Dix alluded to yesterday, we had no hope of signing Santana to a big-money extension. We sure could have beaten that package, though.

  50. @55

    I give up Schafer, Reyes, and B. Jones for him in a second and that seems, at least to me, just as good, if not better than what the Mariners are offering. He’s got two years left and by that point Smotlz will probably be retired and resigning him might be a possibility. In any case, that is two years away and can be worried about later.

    I know it’s a snowball’s chance, but just thinking about the rotation we’d have is wicked.

  51. Completely agree, Ethan. Don’t think there’s any chance of the organization trading Schafer, though, and I don’t think Gorkys Hernandez (even with other add-ons) would be as appealing as Jones and the rest of the Mariners’ slop. We could give more good players than the Ms, but without Schafer, we couldn’t come close to matching the top-end of that proposal. Of course, Angelos is crazy, so who knows what he values. We should have been investing more heavily in Greek scouting.

  52. According to reports the Mets gave up:

    Carlos Gomez and pitchers Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey.

    Gomez we saw last year and supposedly has the ceiling of a Carlos Beltran type. He’s by far the best player they gave up. Humber and Mulvey are nothing special, maybe #3 starters, but probably closer to #4 or #5. I don’t know much about Guerra.

  53. Random comment from MetsBlog:

    the narcy four is out from hiding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Santana a met!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    Rejoice, F work, leaving now to get drunk!!!!!

    Lest any of you forget, that’s the caliber of person we’re dealing with here.

  54. I hope this turns into Pierzynski 2.0 for the Twins. The Twins do seem to have an eye for talent, though I think the Red Sox and Yankees offers were much better.

  55. Those 4 prospects would have to turn into HOFers to approach the lop-sidedness of the Pierzynski deal.

    I should say that, actually, I’m with ububba here: Bring Santana on. I’m just shocked that the Twins accepted so little in return for the best pitcher in the game.

  56. Wow, that’s an incredibly mediocre package for the best pitcher in Major League Baseball.

    The Twins would have been better off with either of the Yankees or Red Sox’s packages. There is not one sure-fire star among the Mets prospects. They didn’t even give up their #1 prospect, OF-Fernando Martinez.

    The Mets don’t have much of a minor league system, but they gave up their #2 D. Guerra, #3 C. Gomez, #4 K. Mulvey and #7 P. Humber prospects according to Baseball America.

    This is an incredibly good deal for the Mets. Mulvey and Humber aren’t expected to be much more than back of the rotation fodder. Guerra is all projection and far away from the Majors. Gomez has good tools, but he’ll never reach Carlos Beltran territory. He may become a regular MLB center fielder. Weak.

  57. I welcome the competition. Personally, I’m only happy if we’re the best team in the league, so going up against the best talent is the only way to prove it. (And going up against stronger teams more often probably makes you better anyway – and no, that’s not just my SEC bias talking.)

  58. Also frustrating is that budget constraints once again prevented us from even having a chance to bring in someone we would all be extremely ecstatic to watch play.

  59. This rotation looks much better:

    1. Johan Santana
    2. Pedro Martinez
    3. Oliver Perez
    4. John Maine
    5. Orlando Hernandez


    I can’t believe the Twins and Rays couldn’t have worked a deal. You’d think the Rays would have the cash to pay Santana, plus they are loaded in real prospects. It just seems like a natural fit, especially since the Twins were one of the few teams to actually close a deal with the Rays.

    Maybe Santana wouldn’t have gone to Tampa and signed a long-term contract. The Rays are going to be good very soon though. A Santana-Kazmir-Price, etc. rotation would have taken anything Boston or New York had to throw. Too bad.

  60. After Nietzsche sobered up the next morning, he amended that to:

    “That which doesn’t kill me leaves me scarred for life.”

    I’m not looking forward to the Mets solving their only problem.

  61. This one looks even better:

    1. John Smoltz
    2. Erik Bedard
    3. Tim Hudson
    4. Tom Glavine
    5. Chuck James

  62. At least with the Yankess and Red Sox rumored deals, the Twins would have a reliable starter they could use in Hughes or Lester. Neither Mulvery or Humber will be near the level of Hughes or Lester. Guerra will probably never pitch in the majors and Gomez will turn into Juan Pierre.

    I am surprised the Twins GM did not find a way to include Adrian Peterson in this deal. Actually Kevin McHale probably made this trade.

    Any T-Wolves fan will probably post about Al Jefferson’s greatness in the next 10 minutes. Everyone duck.

  63. My phone buzzes. I see that it’s one of our many office Met fans, one I haven’t heard from too much since the first week of October. I pick up.


    “We got him!”

    “Got who?” [feigning ignorance]

    “Santana! We got him!”

    “For what?”

    “A bunch of prospects, a bag o’ balls, I don’t know…”

    “Two questions: How much is he going to cost?”

    “A lot, but we can afford it….


    “So, what’s the other question?”

    “How are you going to blow it this year?”


  64. Who says that Martinez and Hernandez have arms that won’t fall off? And Perez is a head case, though one that seems to have the Braves’ number (at least last season). So, I’ll stick with the Braves, warts and all, over the f****** mets.

  65. Exactly Ububba! Look its a good deal for the Mets, but it does nothing to adress their aging and declining lineup and they just depleted all their pitching depth. You know Pedro and Duque are going down at some point. O Perez might find Steve Blass disease again. Maine didn’t exactly look that great down the stretch. I’m not scared.

    Meanwhile we have question marks in our rotation, but a lot of depth and variation as well. Our lineup is mostly young and on the uptick. I would rather go into the season with the Braves team than the Mets.

  66. @81

    Yeah, I could go for that. I love Bedard.

    Peter Angelos would have to be..um.. eliminated first so that a deal could actually be completed, but that does seem nice.

  67. Doesn’t surprise me…If anything it will be fun to watch Santana vs. Smoltz.
    As for Bedard, can we try not to get my hopes up even a little? My confidence with Wren is just kind of blah at this point.

  68. Yunel Escobar + Gorkys Hernandez + Chuck James + Jo-Jo Reyes = Erik Bedard?

    There’s no Jones-level prospect there, but honestly, that seems like a better offer than the Ms’ overall. Am I too biased?

  69. Add more players, whats the difference? None of our prospects other than Shaffer are going to be necessary on the big club in the next 3 years…Bedard is necessary now and will be critical in 3 years.

  70. Hateking, as a Wolves fan and someone who follows every game I can say that I don’t need to state his greatness. His 40 points and 19 rebounds the other night, speak for themselves.

  71. Stu, I think you’re biased. That deal doesn’t get done without an A-level prospect. Jones is a very good hitter with great defensive tools. He’s one of those guys about whom stat-heads and scouts agree. They would have to chalk up Schafer, Reyes, and Escobar, I think.

  72. Jones is a very good hitter with great defensive tools.

    Yeah, and he’s also ML-ready. I’m really just trying to find something that would work without Schafer being included (not because I wouldn’t include him, but because I know the Braves won’t), but I guess that can’t be done.

  73. Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey????????? Not even a player to be named later? Surely the Sox and Yanks offered better than that? Sorry I have been out of the hot stove loop this year but what held sox/yanks deals?

  74. Stupid Twins, they were supposed to get either Hughes or Lestor/Ellsbury. Now they are getting the crap prospects from the Mets. Stupid. How can they turn away from Phil Hughes?!

  75. Also frustrating is that budget constraints once again prevented us from even having a chance to bring in someone we would all be extremely ecstatic to watch play.

    I’ve been wondering why – since the Braves always operate as if they are broke – the Mets don’t just lean on their financial advantage and price us out of the division.

    I guess I don’t have to wonder anymore. Now that they are fairly competently run, it’s pretty tough.

  76. Stupid. How can they turn away from Phil Hughes?!

    It’s seems clear that they wanted Johan out of the AL.

  77. Here’s how I’d rate the Braves/Mets starters for 2008 only:

    1. Johan Santana (NYM)
    2. John Smoltz (ATL)
    3. Tim Hudson (ATL)
    4. Oliver Perez (NYM)
    5. Pedro Martinez (NYM)
    6. John Maine (NYM)
    7. Tom Glavine (ATL)
    8. Orlando Hernandez (NYM)
    9. Jair Jurrjens (ATL)
    10. Chuck James (ATL)

    I could put Glavine ahead of Maine, but Perez might outperform Hudson too.

    So I do think this changes the equation in the Mets’ favor.

  78. Anyone notice this nugget? http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3220894

    “Think Johan Santana would be comfortable pitching for the Mets in Shea Stadium? Among active pitchers with a minimum of 15 innings pitched in Shea, Santana has the fourth-best career ERA.”

    Here’s the list:

    1.Brandon Webb ERA 0.31
    2.CHRIS REEKSMA!!! ERA 0.44

    and so on…

    that’s an obscure stat I was unaware of.

  79. I don’t think we’ll see Santana v. Smoltz, at least not early on. If my counting is right, Smoltz gets the Saturday start and Santana throws Sunday in that first Mets series (assuming 5 man rotations, lol).

  80. Smoltz vs Santana – slight edge Mets
    Hudson vs Maine – slight advantage Braves
    Glavine vs Martinez – advantage Braves
    James vs Perez – push
    Hampton/Jurrjens/Reyes vs Hernandez – advantage Braves

    This certainly helps the Mets, but I don’t see it necessarily doing more than bringing them back into the picture for the Eastern division. By no means have they now clinched it despite what ESPN will say for the next 9 months.

  81. I would take Philip Hughes alone straight up over the Mets grab bag o’ who knows prospects.

    I would take Ellsbury and a solid prospect over the Mets deal, as well as Lester and a two or three solid prospects.

    I also would’ve traded Santana to the Rays as a big F-You to the Red Sox and Yankees for being obstinate, but maybe that’s just me. And I’d come away with Desmond Jennings, Jeff Niemann and Jeremy Hellickson too. ;-)

  82. They play the games on the field—who cares what ESPN says?

    Bingo. They don’t wanna see Santana come to the Metrodome in pinstripes.

    Also, the Yanks had gotten to the point where they want to give their young pitchers a chance to perform. They had actually taken their offer off the table.

    I know my hardcore Yankee-fan friends are relieved by this Mets deal. I don’t know any of them who wanted to trade Hughes, etc., for Santana. To them, it represented more of the same ol’ moneybags approach to team-building.

  83. What’s really frustrating is that we could have offered a better package of prospects easily; we just couldn’t pay Santana the extension he would require to waive his no trade. Baseball really, really needs to put a new team in New York, be it the New Jersey Juicers or the Long Island Iced Teas. Something needs to be done about two teams getting all that revenue to themselves.

  84. James vs Perez – push

    That’s just silly. I’ll take the guy who can strike people out, thanks.

    Pedro over Glavine is a pretty easy call unless Pedro is already broken again.

  85. I’m not sure if this has been mentioned, but there still is a slight chance that the Mets and Santana can’t agree upon a contract. That’s what I’m hoping for. At this point, Santana has a crapload of leverage so I’m sure he’ll ask for the moon and I’m hoping the Mets are stupid enough to pay $20+ mill for 7 + years.

  86. Don’t lose any sleep over it. They’ll get a deal done. It’ll be stupid money, but it’ll happen. The Mets know what they’re getting into.

  87. I’m hoping the Mets are stupid enough to pay $20+ mill for 7 + years.

    Well, they can absolutely afford to, so I don’t know why they wouldn’t.

  88. I guess the point I was trying to make was not the AAV, but the length. Certainly if were in the Mets position, I would pay $20-$25 mill for 5 years, but I would have a tough time going 8 or 9 like I’m sure his agent is going to ask for.

  89. Hidden behind that shiney ERA that Oliver Perez put up in 2007 is the fact that he led the NL in “unearned runs”; 20 in all. Six of them I believe were of his own doing, when he fielded a comebacker to the mound and threw it away attempting to get the third out at first. Five or six runs scored that inning, all “unearned” despite Perez himself being the one who made the error.

    If all of Oliver Perez’s NL-leading 20 “unearned” runs were earned, his ERA in 2007 would have been over four-and-a-half.

  90. I’ll take the guy who can strike people out, thanks.

    Chuck James’ 116 strikeouts in 161 innings last season was really not that bad.

  91. ububba, I guess that’s what I’m saying, if the Mets pay him $20-$25 for more than 5 years, that’s putting a long of eggs in the basket of a pitcher, no matter who he is. I would rather go 5/125-130 than 8/160-180 which is rumored, but hey, it’s not my money.

  92. An eight year deal rumored? Where? I’ve only read rumors of six or seven years. Really, after the Hampton deal, who would give any pitcher eight years?

  93. Joey, I can’t remember where exactly I read it, but Zito signed for 7/126 and I had read that his agent was looking for more years and more money.

  94. #110, re: Pedro vs Glavine 3 years ago you would have been right. Pedro has been hurt for most of the last year. I’ll take the future HOFer who never goes on the DL over the future HOFer who missed almost all of the previous year.

  95. @116,

    I don’t understand that logic. The point of earned and unearned runs is to separate the runs that score because of poor pitching from the runs that score because of bad fielding. It has nothing to do with who commits the errors. Converting those unearned runs from his own errors to earned runs would increase his ERA but it wouldn’t change how he pitched. It would be misleading because it would suggest that he pitched worse than he really did. important.

    Santana doesn’t make the Mets unbeatable but it’s fantasy to think it doesn’t significantly help them. It’s depressing that the Braves can’t keep up.

  96. Santana to the Mets? Whatever. They are still a deeply flawed team with a starting lineup that has real problems. The Braves are a better team.

    That being said, Santana, Maine, and Perez are a great threesome. I doubt Pedro and the ancient Cuban will be able to handle #4 and #5 all year. Maine and Perez will be much better in ’08 (How someone could compare Perez with James is a classic case of James mancrush).

    What an idiotic move by the Twinkies.

  97. Here’s a typical MetsFan reaction.. and capitalization:

    HA! you know how i know this was a great deal? braves and nats fans are panicking and going on about how stupid the mets are for making it

    and as long as we’re talking about lefties losing their stuff, good luck in the basement with glavine this year…keep teixeira warm for us…

  98. isnt pedro the mets version of mike hampton? what can they really expect from him? it looks like business as usual to me. i was freaked when they got pedro, then when they got delgado, then when they got beltran, and so it goes. they’re still the mets. their big-money, super session roster is starting to remind me of another new york team that cant seem to win lately.

  99. @116, 126

    I think you have to consider a pitcher’s fielding as an aspect of his pitching prowess. How can you not? And a large number of unearned runs might be a predictor that things aren’t quite as rosy as they appear. A pitcher who is poor at virtually all fundamentals, as Perez is, has to be considered sketchy.

  100. Greatest…




    I’ll say it again: That’s the Pigpen-like cloud of stench that bunch carries with them until they take another WS trophy.

  101. honestly, I wish nothing bad on anyone, but I wouldnt be surprised to see Johan have some injuries over the next few seasons. I could be wrong, but I think I read somewhere where his velocity has dropped the last 3 years and his movement is diminishing. Also, with that said, he’s still dominate and the best pitcher in baseball

  102. To Mets fans: I am not going to let you come in and taunt. I really don’t want a flame war erupting here. There are other Braves sites to harass.

    Marc, unearned runs don’t really score because of bad fielding, and earned runs don’t score entirely because of bad pitching. My guess is that the fielding contribution to your average unearned run is about fifty percent — could be more, could be less. The fielding contribution to your average earned run is about twenty-five percent — could be more, could be less. A lot of unearned runs score like this:

    1. Shortstop bobbles a ground ball, hitter safe at first.
    2. Pitcher walks a guy.
    3. Pitcher allows a three run homer.

    A lot of earned runs score like this:

    1. Grounder through the hole, second baseman slow to get there, single.
    2. Another grounder through the hole, second baseman was cheating for the double play, runner goes to third.
    3. Fly ball, runner scores.

    Which one was more bad fielding, and which was more bad pitching?

    But we’ve been over this before, and we’re not really going to get anywhere with it.

  103. Which one was more bad fielding, and which was more bad pitching?

    But we’ve been over this before, and we’re not really going to get anywhere with it.

    Yeah, I’ll still take the guy who can strike people out.

  104. Wohlers could strike people out. Perez reminds me of Wohlers, except one internalized panic and the other doesn’t.

  105. I wonder how many Twins fans will be after their GM if this deal goes through.

    How about Omar getting Santana for a bunch of crap players and getting our 1st round pick…just great

  106. The Santana move makes the NL East race a pretty interesting one on paper again.

    The Mets were upgraded significantly – it was a move they had to make after watching most of the offseason go by without making much progress. An easy move to make too, given how little they surrendered. The Braves, in my mind, have made most of the moves they needed to make in order to ensure contention again.

    If the Braves still have some financial flexibility, it would be nice to see them make a move later in the year to push them ahead. The Braves have a lot of options at several positions; hopefully they’ll have the resources to fix whatever options don’t pan out.

    Amazing, the calm and circumspection that is possible when you don’t pay attention to ESPN.

  107. Not to take anything from Pedro, but I like Hampton better for this year. Check out the latter on Youtube when he pitched that one game in Mexico.

  108. Things could go well or go poorly for the Mets, depending on how their starters hold up. Frankly, if I’m them, I go out and sign Lohse or Hernandez anyways, just for some extra depth. If one or two of their starters go down for any length of time, they’re pretty boned.

    If they don’t… that’s a pretty darn good rotation.

  109. I’ve been trying to talk myself into thinking that the Santana that had an over 5 ERA in his last 7-8 starts last year is the one the Mets are getting. But it’s not working.

    Yes, they’re still a flawed team, but that’s a heck of a patch.

  110. I read the Bannister stuff this past weekend. Some buddies of mine and I have been reveling in his smarts. One of them – not a Braves fan, mind you – dubbed him the anti-Chuck James. Our guy’s getting a rep.

    Anyway, I’m so disgusted by this Santana trade that I need to take a step back from baseball for a minute. I’m glad some folks here are finding their inner optimism, but I can’t right now. The Mets just became a much better team. And they were pretty good already.

  111. I’m not worried about this in the least after thinking about it. After all, rarely everything goes to plan during the season.

  112. The Texiera package almost certainly would have gotten Santana, even though the Twins already have a catcher. Damn…

  113. ” A lot of unearned runs score like this:

    1. Shortstop bobbles a ground ball, hitter safe at first.
    2. Pitcher walks a guy.
    3. Pitcher allows a three run homer.”


    I believe the first run would be earned in this example. I don’t completely understand the arcane rules for scoring a game but somehow the homerun makes what would have been an unearned run “earned”.
    Give me simple runs allowed any day!

  114. dola,

    If MLB were a fantasy league you’d easily get a majority of voters in favor of blocking the Santana deal. I still don’t know if it’s a greater fleecing than Horacio for Soriano, though.

  115. MSE: The first run would be scored as unearned. The others would be earned, unless there were two out, in which case everything’s unearned.

    Here’s another example of why errors aren’t a sign of good defense. Ball hit to deep short. Rafael Furcal runs over there, gets the ball, turns around, throws with all his might, but it hits the dirt and Adam LaRoche has to come off the bag to field it. Next year, same ball, goes right through the hole as Edgar Renteria watches helplessly.

    The first might be an error, depending on the mood of the official scorer and how close the play “would” have been. The second would never ever be an error. But Renteria obviously did a worse job than Furcal. This happens all the time. A huge number of errors are the result of good play, not poor play.

  116. You’re preaching to the choir about errors.

    I may be a bit confused but I know there are certain instances where a homerun turns what would have otherwise been an unearned run to an earned one. I’ll see if I can dig something up…

  117. Stu,

    I mean for the Mets as a whole. It happens with everyone. Can a team say that everything has gone to plan, even with World Series winners?

  118. see 10.16

    I was confused. An error is only negated by a homerun w/r/t earned runs when the error allows an extra base. The run will always be unearned if the batter reaches base via an error.

    We regret the error.

  119. This Santana thing is especially awful for me.

    Calling my brother tonight to thank him for my birthday present (my birthday was yesterday) and then wishing him a happy birthday (his birthday is tomorrow), I had to snarkily congratulate him on his team STEALING Johann Santana from the Twins, (who’s organization should be shut down for total negligence not getting Reyes).

    I actually FELT like a losing Presidential candidate in a primary calling the winner. That’s how the Mets STEALING JOHANN SANTANA FOR NOTHING feels, when you’re father & brother are METS FANS.

    I am still sick over it.

  120. As usual, I don’t understand the relevance of your point, Sam. I’m not exactly “worried,” but it’s pretty hard to pretend like the Mets’ chances for a successful season didn’t increase fairly substantially today.

  121. If the Mets get the Johan Santana that we saw in ’05, ’06, and most of ’07, they absolutely should be prosecuted for Grand Larceny. If they got the Sept. ’07 Santana, he of the 87 mph no moving fastball, yeah, I used to throw a slider, and how do you like my 6.00 ERA?, then they just got a left-handed version of Pedro Martinez.

    The Mets could be dominant if Santana is healthy. They could be a .500 club if he isn’t. I’ll wait and see.

    OBTW – my prediction…Kotsay is gonna take Johan deeptwice in his first game. Guaranteeing Kotsay a 3 year extension, after which he will hit .216/.307/.344 until 2011.

  122. More excitment from the MLB official official scorer’s rules.

    10.23 c

    “(c) CONSECUTIVE-GAME PLAYING STREAK. A consecutive-game playing streak shall be extended if a player plays one half-inning on defense or if the player completes a time at bat by reaching base or being put out. A pinch-running appearance only shall not extend the streak. If a player is ejected from a game by an umpire before such player can comply with the requirements of this Rule 10.23(c), such player’s streak shall continue.”

    A loophole for walking wounded players to maintain games played streaks??? Has anyone ever tried this?

  123. Alex,
    Happy birthday, my man. I know you’re feeling down, but your enraged rant just brightened my night.

  124. I’m a little pissed about the trade today. I wish we had the cash to beat their deal. Oh well, we’ll keep our prospects for a couple years from now when Pedro and El Duque are gone and the Mets are screwed because they traded all of their pitching prospects. But God bless ’em, they got Johan!

  125. The loophole I was talking about was having your name submitted on the lineup card and then getting yourself ejected before you have to take the field. I guess I should have been more clear. Not everyone has the same devious mind that I do.

  126. I’m pretty sure that’s never happened. For one thing, the streak guys are people like Ripken, Gehrig, and Murphy who were highly respected and even tempered, and almost never get ejected anyway. Second, player are rarely ejected before games begin, and would really have to do something awful most of the time to get run, in which case they’d probably get a suspension. That rule is probably there to limit umpires so the worst doesn’t happen.

  127. Thanks for all the birthday wishes. Spending my first birthday with little Jake R. still made it a great birthday, nonetheless.

    A shame Santana to the Met had to bring it down.

  128. Stu,

    “As usual”? Man, just call me an idiot and be done with it.

    I’m not worried because Santana is just one pitcher, pure and simple. I’m not denying what he’ll do; he’ll be the best pitcher on the staff, and he will be a boost from Glavine, but the games still have to be played. We all know that. Things can still go wrong for anyone and everyone, Mets, Braves and others. That’s the perspective I want to take about it.

  129. Not calling you an idiot, Sam. Chill out. Just saying (trying to, anyway) you and I are frequently on completely different wavelengths.

  130. For all that think Santana is in decline:

    Seriously, the guy is the best pitcher in the game and will continue to be such for the considerable future. If you want to look to his slide for anything, just think of it as he was on a crappy team that had no chance of winning. He has always been at his best in the second half, and I believe that has alot to do with the fact that they were in heated battles for playoff spots. Last year, there was no chance. Not saying he was trying to perform bad, but your mindset is entirely different.

  131. Mac,

    I understand the point about not all earned runs being due to bad pitching and vice versa. ERA is clearly not a perfect stat and there are better stats for separating out pitching and defense. Nevertheless, if you are going to take ERA as a rough approximation of pitching effectiveness, it makes no sense to increase a pitcher’s ERA just because he is the one that makes the errors. It doesn’t add anything to the analysis. As for fielding being a part of the pitcher’s package, that might be true but I think I would be willing to live with poor fielding if he was a good pitcher. Sandy Koufax was not known to be a good fielder but I think I would have been willing to live with that, especially since there aren’t that many fielding plays that a pitcher makes. The point is, adding the runs that scored due to Oliver Perez’s errors doesn’t really affect the analysis of what kind of pitcher he is. It actually makes him look worse than he is. (And I recognize, as I said, the problems with earned and unearned runs, the prime one being a situation where runner gets on base due to an error and the pitcher then gives up six hits in a row or something and all the runs are unearned.)

    Santana to the Mets hurts but you still have to play the games. And I think Pedro Martinez will still be quite an effective pitcher, albeit not the ace he once was. If Perez and Maine become more consistent, this is a very good starting rotation.

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