Jim Presley vs. Wes Smelms. Also: game thread, Braves at probably Astros

Jim Presley Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com

Seasons with Braves: 1990
Notable stats: .282 OBP, 130 K/29 BB
Notable accomplishments: is the hitting coach for…

Wes Helms Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com

Seasons with Braves: 1998, 2000-2002
Notable stats: .287 OBP, 119 K/30 BB. On reflection, they may be the same player.
Notable accomplishments: Career .304/.386/.545 hitter against the Braves.

58 thoughts on “Jim Presley vs. Wes Smelms. Also: game thread, Braves at probably Astros”

  1. From the previous thread:

    It seems to me that pitch counts are a proxy for a more specific issue of wear and tear on a pitcher’s arm. No doubt, some guys arms are going to be able to absorb more than others; some of this will be affected by the type of pitcher they are. Obviously, Nolan Ryan was able to absorb an incredible amount of pitches. On the other hand, Sandy Koufax pitched a lot of innings and retired with arthritis at 30 in a higher-mound, larger strike zone era.

    It’s hard for me to believe that even Nolan Ryan would argue that there is NO limit to how many pitches a pitcher should throw. The issue is whether you err on the low or the high side.

    Coach argues that there is no evidence that there were more arm injuries during days when pitchers threw more innnings. But that is sort of misleading because lots of pitchers had relatively short careers. For example, Allie Reynolds and Vic Raschi were dominant pitchers for the Yankees in the early fifties but were basically done by the mid-fifties. They may not have had specific arm injuries that you could attribute their loss of effectiveness–I assume it was harder to diagnose arm injuries than it is today–but it’s not unreasonable to think that throwing a lot of innings and pitches had something to do with it. Koufax is another example and, for that matter, Don Drysdale retired in his mid-thirties. I bet you could find lots of examples like that; on the other hand, you had guys like Warren Spahn who pitched 16 innings at age 42.

    I think the point is, with a guy like Hanson, why take a chance if you don’t really know the answer? Maybe pitch counts have been overdone but I don’t think, given the investment you make in these guys, that you can simply say go throw until your arm falls off.

  2. Marc, I’m not defending Coach, ever, but I do see a correlation between young pitchers and Innings Pitched. Alot of those pitchers have never been much above 120 or 130 IP in a season. Hanson had already pitched 66.1 inning at Gwinnett, plus 101.2 in Atlanta. His previous season high was 138, and that was last season. I like the approach that the Red Sox have taken with thier young pitchers. I’m not second guessing anyone, just giving my opinion.

  3. I think you give him a chance to go for the shutout. If his pitch count gets too ridiculous during the inning, you can come get him, but it’s the end of the year and if you have to skip him next time in the rotation because his arm is tired, you can even do that with Kawakami in the bullpen. Now I’m certainly not gonna sit here and say pitch counts don’t matter, but I will say 100 doesn’t matter necessarily. He was still looking good and he didn’t look tired. I don’t know why you wouldn’t give it a shot.

  4. FBF,

    If I understand what you are saying, I think we agree. Coach’s point is the pitch counts are meaningless and that there is no relationship between high pitch counts and arm injuries. He argues that Nolan Ryan and other pitchers from days of yore argue against tracking pitches because there were no more injuries then than there are now. My point is, we don’t really know that because a lot of guys had short careers that might have been affected by throwing lots of innings and lots of pitches. Am I misunerstanding what you are saying?

  5. Replacing a starter who has thrown close to 100 pitches with your closer is pretty much the book for most managers (Bobby replaced Glavine who was throwing a 1 hitter in game 6 of the ’95 World Series after all despite 2 of the first 3 batters in the 9th being lefties), and Bobby isn’t one for going against the book. The real problem was Soriano is looking about done for the year. A different reliever would have been a better choice.

  6. I’m going to issue a rare endorsement. Presley was a far worse player than Helms was for the Braves. He couldn’t play defense at all. The defensive upgrade from him to Pendelton (though actually, Presley mostly played first with Blauser at third late in 1990) might be the greatest of all time.

  7. Incidentally Mac, based on your seeding shouldn’t Presley be going up against Scott Thorman and Helms against Keith Lockhart?

  8. biggest problem is still the offense and Prado, Chipper, and McCann cant do anything right now. Replacing all of them with anyone right now would be an upgrade. Get Diaz and Laroce higher in the order

    then get Gonzo back in the closer role, or better yet, let Moylan see if he can be effective as a closer. See what Valdez can do why your at it

  9. I voted Presley too. He was just a terrible player. Helms is limited but has his uses.

    Obviously, Nolan Ryan was able to absorb an incredible amount of pitches. On the other hand, Sandy Koufax pitched a lot of innings and retired with arthritis at 30 in a higher-mound, larger strike zone era.

    Everyone is going to be different. There are pitchers today that could handle a much heavier workload than they are tasked with. In the past those guys were identified because teams were willing to break 10 pitchers to find the one that could handle the workload. Today the heavy workload guys will never be found because everyone is trying to keep everybody healthy.

  10. Yeah, can’t see why Prado should play EVERY day, we have the world’s deepest 2b roster with Infante, Prado, Johnson and Conrad.

  11. Bill James (who thinks teams are too cautious with pitchers nowadays) said the way teams used to use pitchers was like how in medieval times they used to search for witches. You’d tie up a woman and throw her in a pond, and if she floated, she was a witch. If she didn’t, well, she was dead, but at least you knew she wasn’t a witch. With pitchers, they’d just throw everyone in the pond, and some of them could survive it, but most couldn’t.

  12. @13, 15

    All of this was a product of the reserve clause period when teams could screw over players as they wished and the players had no recourse, such as the Yankees with Reynolds and Raschi. After they were done, they just went out and fleeced other teams to get usable pitchers. They weren’t on the hook for millions of dollars to washed up pitchers and they didn’t have to worry about having to go out into the free agent market to acquire others.

    Personally, I would love it if the era of complete games came back. I like seeing complete games and I hate seeing teams use four or five pitchers a game. I think it’s much more dramatic to see starters out there in the late innings and it implicates a lot more strategy in the NL because you really have a decision to make about pinch hitting for a pitcher in a close game.

  13. I voted for Helms, even though he was probably a better player. Presley replaced Oberkfell, which as lousy as Presley was, I am eternally grateful for. As I recall, Presley was really unliked by his teammates. Anyone remember anything about this?

  14. Mac at 9,

    I don’t remember where I saw it, but somebody was doing Defensive Eficiency and Zone Rating / Plus Minus stuff on older teams and players (pre 2000 or so).

    Anyway, the study took batted balls based on whatever was available (pitcher handedness, pitcher ground ball / fly ball / strikeout info, home runs, actual plays with assists or errors, historical norms) and “projected” what zone the batted balls likely went to. Then they compared to “plays made” that were in a good record.

    Anyway, after all of that one of the startling things to come out of it was how high Pendleton projected. Their data had him at something like 20 plays above average the last year he was in St. Louis, and a little higher than that in 1991. Their conclusion was if the Cox / Schuerholz fieldng scouting system was right, then with all the young lefthanders, Schuerholz made a great get in getting Pendleton IF he had hit 260/300/400. Since he was more like 320/350/550 he PROBABLY DESERVED the MVP over Bonds because the defensive value was so massive.

  15. The issue I have with pitch counts is that they have become so accepted and it doesn’t seem that there is a high correlation between high counts and injury. I’m not at all against looking for ways to preserve pitchers from injury, it just seems that pitch counts are now so entrenched that slavish devotion to them may well hinder the search for actual causal relationships.

    Guess what I am trying to say is, I sure hope that MLB doesn’t just go with pitch counts and stop there- it’s not like baseball teams ever get entrenched in a mode of thinking.

  16. @6 You and I do agree on that point. Its all about growing a pitcher’s endurance and strength. You see starters come in and throw relief innings, but you never see a (short) reliever start a game. Why? His arm would fall off after 50 pitches or so. You have to stretch these guys out, and let them build up to it. Look at Cole Hamels, he ballooned over 230+ IP last year, you cant tell me that is has nothing to do with his pedestrian numbers this year.

  17. The issue is not with how many pitches are thrown: The issue is how many are thrown while the arm is tired

    The difference between the world of Nolan Ryan and today is that most pitchers today throw at max effort 75% of the time. Nolan didn’t have that problem, because every lineup had 2-4 guys that couldn’t hit: That’s not the case anymore.

    Pitch counts are a rough approximation for arm wear. Many pitchers could handle heavier loads, but pitchers are an expensive investment, and it is wise to conservative with such things.

    The takeaway is that the Braves have assembled a remarkable array of starting talent, and should probably be looking to get an extra inning per start next year. That would easily solve all the bullpen woes.

    By the way, Presley was almost certainly the worst player in the majors in his lone season in Atlanta. That’s hard to do.

  18. WTH! I go away for a few minutes to look up a band I saw in Fresno, CA last week and it’s 6-4!

    Has anyone heard of “Moon Alice”? They opened for “The Marshal Tucker Band” (who sucked, by the way) and I was kinda impressed with them. G.E. Smith from Saturday Night Live is in the band.

  19. It’s not the Marshall Tucker Band without Mr. Caldwell.

    Mac, go to bed. I can do the recap right now:

    Braves score 9, but Lowe gives up 8 and our relief pitchers are ineffective and we lose 10 – 9.

    Hankonly shoots self because he still cares and knows that it is the only sane thing to do.

  20. @ 26:

    re: pitches being thrown while the arm is tired are the problem-

    Has that been conclusively proven? I’m not challenging- I didn’t know that was established now and would like to read about it. Also, how do you establish when an arm is tired?

  21. Just tuning in–a few thoughts …

    What’d KJ do to get himself back in the lineup?

    Three more years of Lowe is going to be difficult … he’ll be in the poll before it’s done.

    Simpson is drooling over Erstad’s effort but I think of him as a cheap shot artist for his hit on the catcher. Glad O’Fl. got him out but rather have plunked him.

  22. Ryan C

    I’d be depressed to as the realization hits that my skills are no where close to what they once were

  23. Breaking news … Oswalk under mental health observation after allowing 6 runs in 2 innings to the decaying carcass that is the Braves offense.

  24. ahead 4, in the 7th, and bobby cant trust o’flaherty to get one f’n out. it’s amazing how many pitchers bobby burns per night. if i were a relief pitcher for the braves, i would sign my contract, then immediately go saw my arm off…just to get it over with.

  25. 40 — The combination of the school year starting, football starting, and the Braves in perpetual hibernation mode will do that to you, I guess…

  26. I’m still here KC.

    Nice Braves win even though I was watching the football game, which by the way, was more enjoyable. Can I say that and get away with it, geeeeeesh? :)

    It’s been quit the healthy discussion concerning pitch counts, so let me clarify something.

    I firmly believe in pitch limits… at my level.

    I’m talking pony league, little league and even high school. Kids are getting hurt at an alarming rate these days and I see it all the time. I watched the little league world series finale and cringed. seeing those American kids throwing breaking stuff was agonizing even though they won. Coaches have lost sight of how baseball is really just a kids game, and winning isn’t everything. Competing and having fun is.

    As far as pitch counts in the big leagues go, they will always be here but 100 is just a nice round number. Mature athletes are fully capable of sustaining a few more pitches per start without increasing the risk of arm injury.

    What Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver and a few others did by throwing 150 pitches or more during their era will never happen again, and I’m certainly not advocating it.

    Here is the thing. Common sense is prevailing and the Texas Rangers are ahead of the curve. Nolan Ryan knows the 100 pitch size philosophy is flawed, he also knows that you can’t leave a fatigued pitcher on the mound. Conditioning, proper mechanics and the mental preparedness to go beyond the standard six innings is giving the Rangers an edge.

    So yes, there is a limit to the number of pitches each individual pitcher can throw but it’s not 100.

  27. I still like the Braves, but not enough right now to really care about what is going on. In fact, I had planned on going up to Atlanta next week (got off work, planned everything out), and now I’m not going. Instead, I’m going to the Florida-Tennessee game in Gainesville.

    Which reminds me: does anyone have two tickets to the game? I don’t imagine anyone would, but I thought I’d check. Wanna see Lane Kiffin get his butt kicked in person…

  28. from AJC:

    “Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said he would consider retiring if he has another season in 2010 as frustrating and disappointing as this one has been. (…) “I’m certainly not going to stick around for a big contract if I’m not having fun and not producing,” said Jones, hitting nearly 100 points lower than his .364 in 2008. “I’m not saying I’m retiring at the end of this year or the end of next year, but if I become an average player, I’m not sticking around.

  29. As far as the continuing debate over whether or not Cox screwed up Wednesday night, and pulled Hanson at 98 pitches…..

    Here you go:

    June 12th, 104 pitches and 5.2 innings.

    July 4th, 105 pitches and 7 innings.

    September 3rd, 104 pitches and 5 innings.

    July 20th, 112 pitches and 7 innings. (Back to)

    July 25th, 107 pitches and 7 innings. (Back)

  30. Coach, I agree with you on everything you said, but I don’t see any harm in Bobby pulling Hanson. If there is anything Bobby did wrong, it was him putting in Sori in there. Seeing Sori struggles time after time has no impact at all on Bobby, it’s like seeing Norton getting important at-bats game after game.

    Anyway, I don’t think it was a big deal as the outcome of that game hardly matters.

  31. KC, if it was just one game like Wednesday night, it wouldn’t matter. But it’s not just one game. Cox has made the same mistake all season long and I can prove it.

    Our starting pitchers have 84 quality starts with an ERA of 3.65, they are 54-45 (+9) on the season with 99 decisions. Our Braves have a team record of 72-68.

    In comparison.

    The Texas Rangers starters have 63 quality starts with an ERA of 4.44, they are 61-42(+19) on the season with 103 decisions. The Rangers have a team record of 79-60.

    I drew the comparison because the differential is so small (7-10 wins) and yet our pitching is so much better. Why are the Rangers getting more wins and decisions from their starters?

    It’s not just due to better offense. It’s because their starters are being allowed to consistently pitch into the seventh inning and yes, they do have pitch limits. No Ranger pitcher has topped 125 pitches as of yet. Three of our starters have cracked 120.

    I said all that to say this, Nolan Ryan is squeezing just a few more pitches and one more inning out of his starters, and it’s giving them an edge.

    The Ranger’s starters are averaging 112 pitches per start, we are at 96, the results are obvious.

    We are essentially 8 games back in the wild card race, the Rangers are two back. Six games separate the two teams.

    So, I honestly believe if Cox were thinking seven innings instead of six, we would be winning the wild card race right now. 10-15 more pitches per start is all that separates us from the playoffs. I’m convinced of it.

  32. Since the Rangers score 60 runs more than we do and their ERA is half a run more than our team. I agree with you that Rangers’ better record is not because of the Rangers’ better offense.

    Honestly, I believe Bobby would have sent Hanson out in the ninth if the game matters. I have seen him doing that to Millwood in his rookie season.

    We will see if Ryan’s methodology works. This is his first season in charge. Let’s look at the Rangers’ pitchers performance in next season before we conclude on anything. Remember Ryan is a freak (the good kind) himself. I don’t expect everyone to be as physically gifted as he is.

    The problem with Bobby is that he concentrates his reliever usage in four pitchers when he has a seven-pitchers bullpen, which has been pointed out by somebody already…was it you?

  33. KC, many have pointed Bobby’s penchant for not using his whole bullpen. Yea, the Rangers run differential per game is half a run better (4.95 to 4.47). It’s an impact but not enough carry their pitching.

    But again, our starters have 84 quality starts and 54 wins, while our bullpen has blown 20 games.

    The Rangers bullpen has logged 413 innings to our 408, but their innings are spread out among five or six relievers.

    Soriano, Gonzalez, Moylan and O’Flaherty account for 60 percent of the innings from our bullpen.

  34. Soriano, Gonzalez, Moylan and O’Flaherty account for 60 percent of the innings from our bullpen.

    They are also the only 4 who consistently throw strikes. Who would we (incluging myself) have liked Bobby to go to….. Jeff Bennett, Manny Acosta, Buddy Carlye??? Medlen showed he can’t pitch back to back days.

    If Wren had not jerked Glavine’s chain, the braves could have signed Ohman, Biemel, or a number of decent relievers and spread the wealth more.

    That said, I think BC got burned in the early 90s by the likes fo Reardon, Pena, Berringuera, etc. I think it engrained in him his current mantality of how to use a pen. I think that is why he tends to stick with the same 3 or 4 guys he trusts. (Just an opinion)

    He did use those Gonzo and Soriano too much, and I have never liked the way BC uses his bully, but this year he didn’t have that many options.

  35. 47 — Still excited about the first win, for sure. Everything’s set up nicely for them, but they have to win. Hoping for some excitement in January.

  36. Coach,

    What you say here makes sense. I agree that it’s pointless to have arbitrary pitch limits. But in the old days, there were no pitch limits (other than those set by the pitcher’s performance level) and lots of good pitchers ended up with short careers. You can’t definitely say that it was due to throwing too many pitches per se, but it may have been a factor. Another point is that someone like Seaver and, I guess, Ryan, may have had the type of mechanics that allowed them to throw lots of pitches without hurting their arm, but not all pitchers have those kinds of mechanics and some might not be as effective if they tried to alter their deliveries. Hanson’s delivery seems worrisome to me, although I have read mixed things on what scouts think, but that sort of jerky motion would, I think, be tough on the shoulder.

    And the article about Chipper doesn’t surprise me at all. Some people here seemed to think he was just a greedy bastard out to screw the Braves over because he was having a bad year.

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