107 thoughts on “Win irrelevant; Jurrjens looking strong”

  1. DOB said something about James starting in Richmond “to build up arm strength.” He’ll probably be the first person up when someone gets hurt.

  2. I’d take Brayan Pena over Javy Lopez, but it will be Lopez.

    I think the starting rotation to begin the year will almost certainly be Smoltz, Hudson, Glavine, Hampton and Jurrjens….in whatever order.

  3. Davidson “handed us our jocks” by 6 a few weeks ago. It’s not like the Mocs would have had no chance against them in the finals. Historically, we own them. Check the overall series between the 2 teams. If davidson sweeps chattanooga for the next 13 years, we’ll be even.

  4. I agree, the Mocs would have killed Davidson.

    Maybe we can package Pena and Thorman for three tickets to Hannah Montana

  5. I’m probably the sole member of the Thorman Fan Club, but I’d love to see someone spend the time to turn him into the hitter I think I see.

    That kind of power is hard to find (and he ain’t a bad 1st baseman …)

  6. I’d certainly have no problem with Jurrjens at #4 or #5. Even with some growing pains, he can’t possibly be worse overall that the craptastic #4/5 starters the Braves ran out there last year. He’s looked pretty good in what little I’ve seen. You know, Richmond might end up having a pretty decent rotation if James starts there. James/Carlyle/Morton/JoJo/etc.

  7. Again… Thorman is out of options, he is not hitting in spring, he didn’t hit last year, and (to pile on) he’s below-average in left and emergency-grade in right or at third. The Braves essentially can’t keep him.

  8. Thorman is like a nightmare combination of Adam Dunn and Jeff Francoeur. Let some other team try to turn him from a project into a better than league average player.

  9. Okay, here’s a fun activity… List your preferred five-man bench, assuming that (1) Diaz is playing left full time, and (2) Infante isn’t ready to start the season. I have:

    Prado, I guess

    Not great, but flexible and most of them have at least one thing they can do to major league standards. I don’t want Brandon Jones (who can do a lot of things to major league standards) wasting away on the bench.

  10. Seems to me that Lillibridge (thanks to Infante’s injury), Anderson, and Prado have their spots sewn up. Given that I believe we are extremely ulikely to carry 2 catchers, it would also seem as though Thorman has a spot, with the remaining issue being who between Lopez and Pena (with Lopez having the upper hand) will make the squad.

    However, I realize that DOB has said that both Lillibridge and Thorman are far from having locked up their spots. What am I missing? Who takes their places given our other options?

  11. watched most of Jurr’s outing today. I was impressed with his control, but more impressed with the velocity. He touched 97 on the gun in the 1st, but in his interview he said he was nervous and overthrowing. Looks good right now

  12. Thorman swings and misses almost as anyone I’ve ever seen since Rob Deer. He just doesn’t make contact nearly enough.

  13. I’d probably like to see your 5 man bench Mac with the caveat that once Infante is healthy, that Lillibridge go down to get more playing time, for the same reason you want Brandon Jones at AAA. However, unless Pena starts logging some time at first very soon, there’s no way Bobby will keep him over Thorman, which, of course, we already knew.

  14. Even if Thorman plays well, he’s just a terrible type of player for the bench anyway. You need high average guys for the bench, not strikeout-prone power hitters. Thorman’s the type of player who if he isn’t playing at least semi-regularly doesn’t have much value.

  15. i also like the combo of pena and lopez on the bench. it gives options for late in the game: need a homerun, go with lopez; need a base hit/pinch runner, go with pena. if pena isn’t kept, then javy’s off the bench power is wasted. to round it out, i would go with brandon jones, lillibridge, and anderson. brandon needs to see time in the majors before he becomes disgruntled with the organization keeping him in the minors.
    i think prado and thorman get traded for something relatively soon. both could be regular starters if given a chance to succeed for a year, however i dont want them taking up a spot on the bench.

  16. From DOB:
    Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — He drives a big Hummer and walks with a strut. He’s the kid in high school who was the top jock and homecoming king, who might have dated the girl you wanted.

    ok, i dont mind the other stuff, but he drives a hummer? geez. i guess it’s necessary to prove to everyone how much money he’s worth by driving the biggest car possible.

  17. I like the idea of Pena on the bench too, but you know the Braves won’t keep both Lopez and Pena. It’s too smart. They won’t do it just because, and that’s final.

  18. Pena will be a much better pinch hitter than Thorman. I don’t like the idea of keeping Lillibridge on the bench but I guess there is no other alternative before Infante is healthy again.

  19. Thor has to go, one way or another.

    JJ looked pretty dang good today. You could tell he was a touch nervous, but he’ll be just fine once he gets settled into his role. Nice to hear he grew up watching the Braves on TBS. Always a plus. From what I’ve seen so far I really like his delivery, “stuff”, makeup and smarts. His pickoff move ain’t too bad either.

  20. Thorman

    though I predict come June, we will be pulling a Ron Burgundy: “Lopez as our backup catcher was a BAD choice”

  21. You need high average guys for the bench, not strikeout-prone power hitters. Thorman’s the type of player who if he isn’t playing at least semi-regularly doesn’t have much value.

    I don’t know why that first statement would be true. Value is value. Of course the way Thorman plays he doesn’t have much value no matter how deployed.

  22. Well, ideally, a PH guy would be someone who could come through in a pinch. A guy who never ever makes contact, a la Thorman, isn’t much use as a pinch hitter.

  23. Wow, the Braves had three first round picks that year and ended up drafting Wainwright , Thorman, and KJ. I guess that’s a pretty successful draft after all…

  24. But how does Thorman compare to other late first rounders? Its kind of silly to look at just former 30th rounders, since it really isn’t much different from pick 25-35 I’d say.

  25. BP went through the last five years of their team projections, and found that the Braves have outperformed their predictions by more than any other team — 35 total games.

    “The teams that have finished ahead of PECOTA tend to be well-run, cohesive organizations with good scouting departments and organizational cultures; these teams may have more capacity to right the ship as the season advances onward.”

    So, 7 wins per season, and they’ve got us for 85 wins this year. I’d take 92 and run….

  26. Even if Thorman plays well, he’s just a terrible type of player for the bench anyway. You need high average guys for the bench, not strikeout-prone power hitters. Thorman’s the type of player who if he isn’t playing at least semi-regularly doesn’t have much value.

    I agree with the premise that Thorman isn’t particularly valuable, but I don’t get the idea that you would exclusively want players with relatively high BA for the bench. I would think that a proper bench would have many different types of players: pinch runners, defensive replacements, lefties, northpaws, guys who hit for average, guys who hit for power … a whole bunch of specialists rather than subpar generalists. Earl Weaver or Whitey Herzog benches where everyone has a well defined role. If the bench is just a bunch of folks whose skill is hitting for average, but aren’t particularly good at it (if they were they’d be starting here or elsewhere) that seems like a very self-limiting group.

  27. The hype machine is really churning for Jordan Schafer. Almost Francoueresque in intensity. The kid should still start in Pearl no matter what. Do you all recall this much hype from AJC or the Braves themselves for Andy Marte?

    As for the bench
    Lillibridge – I think he gets more at bats as Chipper’s caddie
    B Jones – Lefty masher off the bench
    Prado I guess too.

  28. Do you all recall this much hype from AJC or the Braves themselves for Andy Marte?

    Well, Andy Marte sucks as a major leaguer, so there could be a reason for that.

  29. The reason Schafer has gotten so much hype is because he is at a high profile position of great need (with Andruw’s departure). Kotsay is just a stopgap. I haven’t seen anything about Schafer so far that concerns me – although there is no such thing as a sure thing prospect. Hopefully he’ll live up to the hype – I won’t be shocked.

  30. Mac,

    Given what you said about the meaningless of guys hitting well in spring training, does the same apply to pitchers, ie, is Jurrgens performance a mirage or can we actually consider his strong outings to be significant? I guess hitters aren’t holding back like pitchers so it might be more of a true indicator, especially to the extent that he is pitching against regulars–on the other hand, pitchers are typically ahead of hitters early in the spring, or at least it used to be that way.

    I generally discount anything in spring training but I would love Jurrgens to be good; it’s been so long since the Braves had a young pitcher to get excited about.

    As for Thorman, I tend to agree with Mac. It’s important to have power off the bench but a guy like Thorman, who strikes out so much, isn’t going to be a great pinch-hitter. It’s one thing to strike out a lot when you play the whole game; 1-4 is fine if the one is a homerun but when you only get one shot, the chances of that one coming up aren’t too good.

  31. Cormier had a great spring last year until he got hurt. Jurrjen’s good spring so far is a good start, but it doesn’t prove much.

  32. Lopez
    Thorman (GADS!)

    No, seriously. It’d be nice to have at least some pop coming off the bench, and I really think Pena tends to be overrated here. He’s not that good. He’s mostly a slap hitter, not a lot of power, and his defense isn’t very good at any of the “new positions” he’s supposedly able to play. He’s a guy who can be a back-up C except his defense back there is mediocre and he doesn’t have the Game Calling ability that people seem to like from their backup C’s. Thorman was aweful last year, sure, but give him another season. I mean, hasn’t that always been his MO? Suck the first time through a league then do okay the second year?

    Kid’s got legit power, and he CAN be useful coming off the bench.

  33. Interesting writeup from John Sickels about Former Top Prospect Andy Marte:

    “My guess is that Marte will get one more good chance somewhere, and still has a reasonable shot to develop into a useful, productive slugger. Given his age, it is too early to give up totally and condemn him to Triple-A sluggerdom. But even if he does turn things around, I no longer see him as a potential star player. Age-relative-to-league is important, but it’s just one factor, and some players peak early. I think that’s what happened here. He’s better than he’s looked in the majors, and he can beat what he’s done in Buffalo. But his chance to be a star is gone I think.”

  34. I’m certainly not happy that Marte has struggled but I do sort of enjoy the idea that you can’t simply look at a player’s minor league numbers and predict success or lack thereof. A lot of the stat-oriented analyses seem to me to be overdeterministic about players. These are human beings after all and a lot of variability exists in terms of psychology and adaptability that I suspect plays some role in how well a player does in the major leagues.

  35. You guys want to give up on Thorman too quickly. He’s played all of one full season with the Atlanta Braves.

    Glavine in 1987: 2-4, 5.54 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 50.3 innings.

    Glavine in 1988: 7-17, 4.56 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 195.3 innings.

    Thank God the internet wasn’t around or there would be a bunch of people screaming to “dump” Glavine.

  36. That’s a ridiculous premise. Glavine was 22 in 1988, and Thorman was 25 last year. There’s every difference between a pitcher and a hitter, especially a hitter with no defensive value. You just can’t, with today’s short benches, keep a guy who is basically a backup first baseman unless he’s a really quality pinch-hitter. And Thorman isn’t.

    Thorman might be a good player someday, but if he’s stuck on the bench all year and gets 60 PA that’s not going to happen.

  37. I think Thorman could be a decent player but he’s in the wrong place with the Braves. He obviously isn’t going to play much in Atlanta and his style is such that he needs a lot of at bats to develop (if he is going to). He needs to go somewhere where they can afford to take a shot and put up with the strikeouts for a full season and see if he improves. The Braves can’t do that. If the Braves had been a good team, Glavine would never have gotten a chance to go 7-17.

  38. I’d love to get Juan Rivera as the fourth OF.

    I should add that my comparison to Matt Williams is not yet, quite, off the table. Williams didn’t get established until he was 24. Marte is now 24.

  39. OK, then what do you do if Tex goes down for any length of time? Who plays first? They have to keep Thorman because after him there is absolutely no one in the farm who is ready to step in and play first every day. Unless we make a trade for someone better to be our 1st base insurance policy, you can count on thorman breaking camp with the big league club.

  40. Mac, Rivera’s not a CF, is he? I thought he was more of a corner OF. I guess, if Rivera can play 1B, you just jettison Thorman and carry 5 OFs. Is that what you’re thinking?

  41. The simple fact is that you can’t carry a first base contingency plan on the major league roster. It just doesn’t work. As I wrote the other day, if Teixeira goes down, we’re screwed anyway. And I don’t think Canizares would be appreciably worse than Thorman.

    Oh, and Matt Williams through Age 23, in basically a year’s worth of ML PA:

    .198 .243 .404

  42. Rivera’s played 38 games in center, though he might not be anything more than an emergency player there after breaking his leg. It’s not absolutely vital that the backup OF be able to play center, since Francoeur and (if he makes the team) Lillibridge can play there.

  43. I remember that everyone wanted chipper to move to 1st to make room for Marte. If tex goes down, just move Chip over there and let Lillibridge play 3rd…

    note: sarcasm here

  44. question??? If KJ, Escobar, and Lillibridge all have very solid years in one way or another, which two would you prefer to hang on to at this point?

  45. Johnson and Lillibridge.

    Lillibridge has more speed and plays better defense at shortstop than Escobar.

  46. Juan Rivera would be great… but what do the Braves have to give up for him? Then again, they are doing a great job, hyping mediocre Minor League players in the past to include them into those kind of deals (Charlie Morton, Josh Anderson anyone?).
    The bench:
    Javy Lopez
    Scott Thorman
    B. Jones

  47. My vote for the bench:

    Javy Lopez
    Brent Lillibridge
    Bryan Pena
    Josh Anderson
    Dark Horse Diory Hernandez but in reality I guess Martin Prado

  48. I’m with y’all — Juan Rivera would be great.

    Also, Mac, I agree that Matt Williams isn’t completely off the table yet, but I think Marte may need a little “help” to get there. (Then again, Matt may have needed some as well.)

  49. I meant when Marte was still a prospect.

    Didn’t seem to have the same hype although every prognosticator had him as can’t miss.

    If Javy makes the team, he will add to the collection of has beens that the Braves for some reason pollute their roster with. Mondesi, Jordan, Caminiti, Brogna.

    Brandon Jones isn’t having a good spring but for some reason I think he is a better candidate for the bench than Scott Thorman. I can actually see Thorman clearing waivers and going back to Richmond.

  50. My concern about Rivera is that we would try to get rid of Diaz for him. If Pena can serve as the backup 1B and 2nd/3rd catcher, I still think he’s a better option than Thorman ( I think both are out of options). Can anyone confirm whether or not Pena has a clue at 1B?

  51. I meant when Marte was still a prospect.

    Didn’t seem to have the same hype although every prognosticator had him as can’t miss.

    Right. What I’m saying is that maybe the Braves saw/knew something the prognosticators didn’t. They’ve been awfully good at evaluating their own young talent over the years.

  52. “although there is no such thing as a sure thing prospect”

    two words for you:

    vlad gurrerro

  53. uh, and didn’t matt williams fall into the:

    “they’re not steriods if nobody in MLB calls them that, are they” lot

  54. I do have that card, c. shorter. And Chipper’s then-wife, mentioned in the article, was a regular substitute teacher of mine in 7th grade.

  55. If Tex goes down they could just move Johnson over to first and use Lillibridge at second. Diaz is probably one of the best value for money players on the team, the Braves have shown to be very smart over the course of the last two decades, so I wouldn’t worry about him being traded for Juan “glove thief” Rivera.

  56. we need to get rid of thorman before bobby starts to think hes ryan klesko and puts him in the outfield. ………….. and why did my machine revert to this new, ugly format?

  57. 69 — stu, if you happened to have two of that card then I’d suggest putting one of them up as the trophy for this year’s fantasy league.

    Last year for my league I offered my Derrick Turnbow bobblehead as the trophy. Luckily I eeked out the championship and got to hold onto him.

  58. Nice article on the baseball card collector. It did leave one question in my mind. He has a pretty sweet career, which makes me wonder:

    Is photographing baseball players Forwerck or Foreplay?

  59. Stu,

    You’re right; slip of the mind on my part. Though it gets harder each year to keep all the Riveras, Martinezs, Rodriguezs and Ramirezs straight.

  60. Stu, you’re really stepping up your post count this month!! Its a two man race right now between you and Ububba…

    Kolb, I still cant believe we thought that it was a good idea to trade for him, unbelievable

  61. @76

    Reminds me of Frank Robinson’s great quote:

    “I don’t see why you reporters keep confusing Brooks and me. Can’t you see that we wear different numbers?”

  62. thoughts on this –


    I guess its a rule that for every exhibition game that at least 4 regular players have to be in the lineup. Ned Yost is pretty fired up that all teams dont abide by the rule. I dont see why it matters, I would rather watch the young future players in exhibition games and then attend regular season games to see everyone else

  63. I’m with Mac, you can’t have a first base contingency plan. If Tex gets hurt for longer than two weeks, as he has said ‘we’re screwed anyway.” Its not that hard to give somebody a glove and have them play first for a couple of weeks, it’s not the end of the world. Infante, Prado, Kotsay, etc, could play or they could have guys like Borchard play first in Richmond from time to time, just in case.

    Ken Caminiti played first base for crying out loud.

    I personally think that the Braves are just talking about Juan Rivera to drive the price up for the Mets, but call me crazy.

  64. Oh, and one other note, I thought you guys would find this amusing. Somebody (not a Brave fan by the way) took Yunel Escobar in the fifth(!) round of my 12 team fantasy league. To put that in perspective, he was the second Brave taken behind Tex. I drafted Chipper later in the fifth, McCann in the sixth, and Smoltz in the seventh. I shook my head the entire draft that somebody would actually take Escobar in the fifth, but I told the guy, I hope he has as good a season as you hope he does, it would work out for both of us.

  65. csg,
    Stu might whip well past me today. I’m still glowing from last night’s Springsteen show. Baseball’s not on my mind at the moment.

  66. It’ll last about a day.

    I’ll be back to caring about back-up catchers & the continued roster existence of Joe Borchard tomorrow.

    And I just found out that my Thursday Van Halen show has been postponed. Looks like EVH may be back on the sauce.

  67. I wonder if Joe Borchard could be the power bat off the bench, allowing us to keep Brayan Pena and allow Blanco/Anderson to be solid pinch-runner/back-up outfielders. I know that Borchard has a horrible major league track record, but you never know when someone has made an adjustment and turned a corner. He did have good minor league numbers. I’d hate to just let him waste away in AAA while Scott Thorman could perhaps get us something useful in a trade.

  68. Oh, and I can’t see the Braves picking up Juan Rivera. How is he a better option than what we have in LF and the back-up outfielders?

  69. As Mac has said, Rivera would be a great 4th OF and would easily be better than our other non-prospect options (and I, like Mac, don’t want real prospects sitting on the bench 5 days a week when they could be playing regularly in the minors).

    Rivera has a career OPS of .813 (OPS+ of 110), compared with Borchard’s pathetic .636 OPS (65 OPS+) and Anderson’s minor league OPS of .710. Rivera’s OPS+ by season

    I guess Borchard could turn the corner at age 29, but I’d take the guy of the same age who has already proven to be a solid corner outfielder at this level.

    The real issue is which prospects we’d have to give up—if we know Rivera has value, so do his current employers.

    Hey, Rob: did you get the ESPN fantasy league invitation I sent you yesterday?

  70. @32

    About the same. I looked at picks 28, 29, 31, and 32 just now for the same time period (1980-1999) and came up with about 26 out of 80 that were more accomplished than Thorman is to-date.

    Out of the five spots 28-32, 44 of the 100 picks never even got so much as a single AB or a single IP.

  71. Glavine pitched well tonight. 4 innings, 2 hits, 1 run (unearned), 2 walks, 4 strikeouts.

  72. Lots of unearned runs so far. I hope that the defense gets better, right now it is nondescript in clean language…

  73. Nondescript is far too kind. But that’s the problem with “pitching to contact”; you need a good defense, and the Braves’ defense at its best is ordinary. Oh, and their best defender has been replaced by a guy with a bad back.

  74. Bad news, Mac: Borchard just singled in two runs in the bottom of the 9th against Washington to tie the game. That’s the kind of hit that can stick in people’s memories, even though it doesn’t mean a thing.

  75. Kid was always a great defender, both with the range and with the arm.

    If only he could hit a lick we wouldn’t have had to deal with Harris last year or Kotsay this year….

  76. Sciambi says he was flipping through the Bill James book from last year during the broadcast. I like this guy more each game.

  77. I watched the Braves vs. Nationals preseason game on delay this evening and I’m convinced that our AAA club may have actually moved to DC. If LA is where Braves free agent stars go to get overpaid (Fookie, Drew, Jones), then DC is the new home for castaways. This was the lineup out there tonight.

    Pete Orr, 3b
    Willie Harris, LF
    Ryan Langerhans, CF
    Johnny Estrada, C

    There was even a Boone playing 2b, but it was probably Aaron. I bet Scott Thorman was anxiously looking across the diamond and fretting about the Nick Johnson/ Dimitri Young logjam at first.

  78. i’m just waiting for a full concert review from ububba. the boss is more interesting than spring training…………. from what i heard about van halens show in jacksonville a couple weeks ago, the cancellation in new york is probably a blessing in disguise. ……… its too early in the morning to get nasty enough to say what i think about those guys.

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