Other playing possibilities

If anything happens to Brian McCann or David Ross, it would seem that J. C. Boscan has replaced Clint Sammons (no longer in the organization) as the guy they’ll call up. Nothing better happen to them. Boscan, proof that not every player who comes out of Venezuela is good, can’t hit; his minor league career line is .227/.316/.313 and there are no sample-size issues there; it’s over 14 seasons, mostly in the Braves’ organization. He has a good defensive reputation, which is just another way of saying he can’t hit. He got into a major league game last season, which is nice, and walked and scored.

Down the road, Panamanian Christian Bethancourt is supposed to be the catcher of the future, but I have my doubts. He hit just .251/.276/.331 last year in Rome, but is just 18 so he has time yet. At any rate, he’s a long way away. I’m am guessing that if someone is needed to backup McCann or Ross for a long time, Jesus Sucre is who the Braves are counting on to fill in. Sweet Jesus, another Venezuelan, hit .253/.272/.381 last season split between Myrtle Beach and Mississippi, two notoriously tough places to hit, and did better in AA. With his Francoeuresque walk rates, he has to hit at least .270 to be useful even as a backup. All these guys, plus Wilkin Castillo and Braeden Schlehuber, are NRIs. You have a lot of pitchers in spring training, so you need a lot of catchers, because as Casey said, otherwise you’ll have all passed balls.

Brooks Conrad really doesn’t have a place on the team, as became apparent after the Braves signed Joe Mather and re-signed Eric Hinske. The Tragic Folk Hero simply doesn’t hit as well as Hinske, and since he’s pretty clearly demonstrated that you don’t want him on the field either, he’s supernumerary to the team’s present needs. He’ll probably get a callup sometime whenever someone gets hurt.

Brandon Hicks will be in spring training and may get called up at some point, which only goes to show you how desperate the Braves are for anything resembling a shortstop in the higher levels of the system… Ed Lucas, a minor league lifer out of the Royals organization, has good on-base skills and more power than some, but a shaky glove rep. Basically, he’s Brooks Conrad minus two years, several clutch home runs, and a high-profile defensive meltdown. He’s mostly played third base in the minors, but has 115 games at short to his credit. Another Ed Lucas is described by Wikipedia as a “blind sportswriter” who has covered the Mets. I think we’ll all agree that if you have to cover the Mets, you don’t want to see them…

Speaking of the Mets, Canadian third baseman Shawn Bowman is one of their former minor leaguers, signed after hitting 22 homers in 106 games for the Blue Jays’ AA team last year. Yes, even the Jays’ minor leaguers were hitting homers. Both Lucas and Bowman were brought in by Frank Wren due to the catastrophic state of the Mississippi and Gwinnett ballclubs last season and are basically minor-league depth. And there’s a good chance that one of them is going to wind up starting at third base at some point if Martin Prado has to stay in the outfield when Chipper goes down. Tyler Pastornicky, acquired in the Yunel Escobar deal last year, projects down the road as a future utility infielder, and with an impressive enough showing might be in place to supplant Diory Hernandez by the end of the season.

I mentioned most of the outfield possibilities in my prior post. To give notice to the ones I blew off in a sentence or two… Wilkin Ramirez is still just 25 and had a cup of coffee with the Tigers a couple of years ago. He’s a low-average hitter with some power and some walks, and could be a decent fourth outfield type if he could play center, which he really can’t. The Braves like another ex-Tiger, Brent Clevlen, more, and probably rightly, though he’s trying to overcome a severe knee injury and a bad season in AAA. He has better on-base skills and is a better outfielder than Ramirez, but lacks the same power… Willie Cabrera didn’t get an NRI, I’m not quite sure why. He’ll be 24 this season and was one of the better hitters on Mississippi’s roster last year (.306/.369/.454) though that isn’t saying much.

99 thoughts on “Other playing possibilities”

  1. twitter… Chipper is going to DH today. Generally sore after 1st day at third base but knee is OK

    Also Mac, keep up the great work

  2. When is Chipper NOT SORE?

    This is another area of the team (infield, not catcher) where if we could have shed that Kawakami $$, we could have added another good bat/defender either at 3B/SS or in CF.

    I hate you, Kenshin.

  3. @5

    I know. Alex is already in mid-season form.

    I am waiting on a 130 word post on how AAG and Ugla are the worse double play combo of all time and how it affects Tim Hudson’s life.

  4. AAR,

    # 5 – :)

    Hate is a strong word. But NOT strong enough in the curious cases of Kenshin Kawakami and Nate McLouth. I wish I only just HATED them both. But my feelings towards these two run much deeper, a “Keith Lockhart-ian” level of hatred…like, Al Queda terrorists hatred.

    Sorry, I wanted to clarify.

  5. Smitty, AAR-

    I only hope you are at least somewhat laughing with me and not at me :)

    The sad part is as a mid 30’s something dad now, I am actually so much calmer and more reasonable than ever before.

    But crap is crap…and McLouth and KK…CRAP.

  6. Hinske, Ross, Young, Lucas, and Mather would be my choice.

    It’s too bad Wren couldn’t get a Mike Aviles type.

  7. @12
    That’s what I’d want it to be, but a part of me thinks the Braves will at least start the year with Conrad on the team.

  8. If Cox was still manager I’d be 100% sure that Conrad would start the year with Atlanta. I’m not sure how Gonzalez will work it. Does Mather have any options left?

  9. My hope is that with Cox finally gone, bad, useless players (like Mclouth, Kawakami and Conrad) stop lingering around too long with the Braves. If Fredi does ONE thing different from Bobby, that needs to be it…get rid of useless guy about 6-8 weeks earlier – minimum.

  10. #16

    I know…since we’re Facebook friends, I figured as much. But I rather enjoy what a kick you and AAR still get from my rants…even when my rants are relatively tame!

  11. AAR, Smitty-

    Truth be told, if Fredi got rid of KK, McLouth and Conrad tomorrow, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself…I would be happy about this and have nothing to rant about for the time being.

    Having said that, I’d rather be “bored” by a solid to excellent 25 man roster, than to have to deliver old school “Alex R. rants” to bitch and moan about 3-4 (or more) cancer spots on the team.

  12. Beachy bounced back nicely from his first ST start: 3IP 1h 0bb 4k 0r

    Minor didn’t pitch as well today, but luckily only gave up 1 run: 3IP 5h 2bb 3k 1r

    and I think McLouth is taking Alex R’s rants personally this Spring. He has a double and a single today and has brought his average up to .500.

  13. Wow, Nate’s killing spring training pitching. I think we can eliminate balloting and send him to the All Star game 4 months early. No need to bother with voting :)

  14. @23

    Last year I think I saw him swing and miss at a pitch so late the catcher had already thrown the ball ack to the pitcher when he swung.

  15. @5,


    You want people to laugh “with you not at you.” But then you compare a couple of baseball players to Al Quaeda. I assume (or hope)you are kidding. Otherwise, you seriously need help.

  16. @24-

    Mac, what would we use for a slump buster then? I don’t think Hall and Oates can cut it on their own…

  17. I tried to watch a “Behind the Music” on Hall & Oates the other night & couldn’t get to the end of it.

    Guilty-Pleasure Street Fight: Hall & Oates vs. Phil Collins. Who wins?

  18. I just saw an article where it was suggested that the Yankees call up Jesus Montero to be their backup catcher while Cervelli is out. I know they don’t care about it, but does anyone think that Yankees reporters and fans even know about service time? The front office?

  19. Phil Collins wins the fight…

    …but only because he enlists the help of Mike Tyson by singing “In the Air Tonight.”

  20. I have a friend who’s favorite act of all time is Hall & Oates. He claims to have seen them dozens of times.

    When you dig a little deeper, he’s especially fond of white guys singing R&B, but never the original, y’know, black guys.

    That said, my biggest guilty pleasure is Lionel Richie, a black guy who kinda sings white.

    These are not discussions that are entertained much in YankeeLand. If a guy can contribute now, they have no problem paying for him later.

  21. Tastes aside, I thought that article demonstrated a remarkable amount of self awareness from Collins. That made me like him a pretty good bit, even though I am no fan of the music.

  22. Marc — give up, it ain’t worth it.

    I heard “Sara Smile” today, and shoot me now but it’s sneaky groovy. There’s a worthwhile subtext to some H&O stuff. There is no subtext whatsoever to Phil Collins, despite Bret Easton Ellis’s best efforts….

  23. @38, I think you have to have a little sympathy for the warping influence that people giving you tens of millions of dollars can have. The fact that he recognizes his pop success damaged his cred as a musician to some extent, is pretty rare from those who succeeded at that level. I won’t name the obvious analogue, but it’s a pretty dramatic difference.

  24. I nominate Styx to take over the Phil Collins slump-busting role on the Braves Journal video bench. Worst band ever.

    Speaking of Lionel Richie, this is pretty awesome.

  25. “Sara Smile” & “Rich Girl” were pretty good radio songs.

    Plus, in “Rich Girl,” Daryl Hall sings, “It’s a bitch, girl,” which sounded pretty subversive when I was in the 8th grade.

  26. @39&42- You’ve got to admit though, they had songs (“Your Kiss” and “Maneater” come to mind) that were trainwrecks to the extent that people were scarred for life.

  27. I will be at the Nats/Braves game on Sunday in Viera…..anyone else planning to attend? Beer is on me!

  28. Lucas getting the start at short today. I’m glad their testing this kid. If he can just be a bit below average in the field at numerous positions, he’d be very valuable.

  29. Diory’s not a bad glove, and he hits better than Hicks, but who doesn’t? Rafael Belliard, now, would outhit Hicks. But you have a good glove man in the starting lineup with AAG.

  30. Can’t remember the source, but I subscribe to the axiom that I want my bench full of hitters who can’t field, not fielders who can’t hit.

  31. spike – my first reaction is “Yeah!” but this team must have good, nay, excellent defense to win. It’s just the way we’re built. For proof, I give you Brooks Conrad.

    That’s what pisses me off about the Phillies. They can slop around like beer-league drunks and still out-pitch and out-hit just about anybody not from Boston. May they all test positive for some form of non-life-threatening excess.

  32. @55, well sure, but really, given the number of defensive innings a bench player is likely to see and by extension the actual number of chances he’s going to get in those innings, the impact is minimal. The vast majority of a bench player’s ABs are going to be high leverage, hence Brooksie’s contributions with the bat were way more valuable than his clangy glove cost when in a reserve role. The failure came when it became clear he was going to be a starter and the team didn’t/couldn’t address this.

  33. @53
    mac, in your own words, you disagree with yourself in both your 2009 and 2010 player analyses of diory hernandez. talkingchop and fangraphs have also said that diory is not a good glove man.

  34. All this talk of Hall and Oates puts me in mind of the Yacht Rock web series. Here’s episode 1, in which Daryl and John appear at the beginning and the end as belligerent east-coasters ready to destroy the “smooth” west coast music of the late ’70s.

  35. smitty – may very well be my favorite commercial ever.

    If not, it’s the one where the blond is holding up a Michelob saying “There’s nothing better on a rainy night in Georgia”. Probably the reason I moved here.

  36. 66,
    Take a prep class and study hard. Make sure you’re ready for it when you take it, it isn’t helpful to take it multiple times. Try to get a study group together in the months leading up to the exam.

    Good luck!

  37. Surely to goodness Bama is in after their win today.

    If Clemson’s win over Whining Seth manages to get BOTH VaTech and Clemson in at the expense of Alabama (and/or Georgia) it will be yet another reason to burn down the House of Hypocrisy in Indianapolis.

  38. I LOVE HALL and OATES. She’s Gone, Maneater, Sara Smile, Kiss on my List, You Make My Dreams Come True, all great stuff!

  39. My guess on Bama is the only way they get in the NCAA is to win the SEC tourney. The only thing that matters for the SEC tourney is if you win it. I will bet that Bama loses in the finals of the tourney and they still don’t get to the NCAA.

  40. @66

    If you’re a self-motivator, get a set of review books from Kaplan/Princeton Review/etc. and dedicate a few weeks to review before taking the AAMC practice exams.

    If you’re like me and can’t motivate yourself, you might want to look into a prep course, though they can get pretty expensive.

    Best of luck!

  41. He must have flipped them after that game then. I still think Bama needs to get to the SEC final game. I think if they can get there, win or lose, they’ll grab a 11/12 seed in the NCAA tournament. There’s a great chance there will be another UGA/Bama matchup in the 2nd round of the SEC tournament now.

  42. If Kentucky wins in Knoxville tomorrow, UGA will open with Auburn, then would face Bama in the 2nd round.

    If UT beats UK, Georgia opens with Arkansas, then would face Florida.

    If there’s a 4-way tie for 2nd place in the East (result of a UT win), I’m not sure who would end up in Bama’s bracket.

  43. 66,

    I thought the prep course I took for the MCAT was pretty helpful. I hadn’t ever done a prep course for a test before, but the practice tests and general subject review (particularly for the physics portion) were key in getting me focused on the right material and test strategy.

  44. I like the swing AAG put on the ball to the RCF gap. He had a good rip going the other way vs. Detroit.

    I hope he brings that swing with him to ATL. If he can keep the OBP above .310, we will be in business.

  45. I must have missed the stories about Todd Coffey arriving to spring training in the best shape of his career.

  46. Good to see The Prado making a nice sliding catch out in LF. Melky would’ve been doing good just to catch the same ball in a roll of fat last year.

    God I hated looking at his stupid fat face.

  47. 91 – 92, My thoughts exactly. Vizcaino looks like the real deal to me, I didn’t see any fastballs clocked lower than 92, he looked like he was throwing pretty consistently 94-97. At the very least, he looked

  48. Wilkin Ramirez is having a nice spring. The Braves are loaded with guys who can hit for power and have some patience but can’t field a lick.

  49. Stu or Parish or anyone,

    Heading to Nashville for the first time next week. It’s for work, but I should be able to find some time to go out. Any bar/restaurant/live music recommendations?

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