Paul Maholm

Paul Maholm Statistics and History –

A lefty finesse-type pitcher, Maholm has spent his career with bad teams, mostly the Pirates, which is a tough situation for this kind of pitcher. With a better team, he may improve; he was already having one of his best years (only mediocre) with the Cubs.

The Pirates made Maholm the eighth overall pick in the generally weak 2003 draft; he put up a 3.10 career minor league ERA, but without the peripherals you would expect from a high draft pick. He was called up to the majors, and put up a 2.18 ERA, going 3-1. He hasn’t approached that again, and probably won’t except for short stretches. For his career he is 62-79 with a 4.30 ERA. He’s a better pitcher than that, but not that much better.

As stated above, finesse lefties like Maholm can have particular trouble when playing on a bad team. With a good offense and a good infield defense, they can thrive, and even put up results better than their real ability. The Braves have the offense, but not the defense, except maybe at shortstop. He could have some ugly games; he could also have some really good ones. Most importantly, he gives the Braves a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter to solidify a shaky rotation.

138 thoughts on “Paul Maholm”

  1. FWIW, Keith Law thinks the Braves gave up too much and he thinks Vizcaino is a better prospect than Delgado or at least has a higher ceiling. But the Cubs must not have agreed; otherwise they would have asked for Vizcaino rather than Delgado for Dempster.

  2. I thought for a minute that Uggla was going to bat in two different places in the batting order. Perhaps this would be Fredi’s way of getting him going. :)

  3. Ha, my bad. Check this out. JJ to the DL with a groin strain. Just so happens its perfect timing and opening a spot for Maholm.

  4. Weird lineup, but why not against this team? The Marlins are beyond pitiful, which makes listening to their apathetic and easily distracted announcers painful. Sadly for me, I don’t have a choice since I’m in Miami.

  5. So in Paul Maholm, we basically traded for Charlie Liebrandt? Cool with me. He was one of my favorite players.

  6. It is good to give MB a day off. Bobby was a big fan of getting a new guy in the line up ASAP. I always liked seeing what the new guy could do.

  7. My idea to sign the Hairston brothers last offseason sure would have paid off. They are practically a bench unto themselves.

  8. Bobby Abreu got released. Wouldn’t be a bad guy to pick up as a pinch hitter. Dude can still take a walk, but the power’s gone. Can be had for pro-rated minimum.

  9. I can’t look now but havent all of our regular infielders had above average years defensively according to all major defensive stats? My eyes tell me that our infield and outfield defense has collectively been well above average. I’ve like what I’ve seen from Chipper, all SS aside from Pastornicky, and Uggla. What gives, Mac?

  10. Bobby Abreu would have to take Hinske’s spot. While Hinske has stunk, I don’t think you release a popular clubhouse team rah-rah guy for only a very marginal upgrade.

  11. Braves DL’ed Jurrjens with a “groin strain” in order to make a roster spot for Maholm.

  12. @16 – Not to speak for Mac, but I would say that defensive stats are A.) buggy, and B.) Not very useful in single or even semi-season samples. Don’t they take 3 years to stabilize and be very useful?

  13. re the expansion discussion earlier – two teams in Mexico City one Al one NL, massive TV and ticket revenue stream and scouting advantage for both makes them the bullies of the league in 4 years.

    I kid!

    /not really.

  14. I would usually say that the Braves DLing Jurrjens was just finding an injury so they wouldn’t have to send him down. In this case, if he’s not really hurt, what is the advantage of resting him instead of just sending him to the minors?

  15. @20

    Unless, of course, they work for someone’s argument, in which case they’re the absolute gospel.

  16. Not sure how I should feel about being on the same side of an issue as Keith Law. I don’t necessarily agree that Vizcaino was a better prospect than Delgado at this point, but I agree that the Braves gave up too much. I guess it really comes down to whether you think Vizcaino will be a starter or not. Seems to me the Braves had just reached the conclusion that with his deliver (and one TJ already), the bullpen was his permanent destination. I had held out hope that he could be a starter, but I guess that’s not the case. Either way, you’re talking about a potential shut-down RH out of the bullpen, and given what we’ve seen with Venters’s turn of fortune and O’Flaherty’s predictable regression, it seems like having a guy like that around wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

    Plus I just don’t think Maholm adds much that Medlen and/or Delgado didn’t already bring to the table. For a depth move, an impact arm even out of the bullpen seems like too much, IMO.

  17. Right. Defensive stats are buggy as hell and essentially useless outside of 3+ year samples. We can say “all evidence indicates that Simmons is a fantastic defender” but we shouldn’t argue much to dWAR until at least 2016.

  18. Seems to me the Braves had just reached the conclusion that with his deliver (and one TJ already), the bullpen was his permanent destination. I had held out hope that he could be a starter, but I guess that’s not the case. Either way, you’re talking about a potential shut-down RH out of the bullpen, and given what we’ve seen with Venters’s turn of fortune and O’Flaherty’s predictable regression, it seems like having a guy like that around wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

    What makes you think Vizcaino’s work out of the pen would have been any less prone to the vagaries of relief work than Venters’ or EOF’s?

  19. @27 Simmonds made enough great plays in a short period to know that he is somewhere between better than average to great

  20. @26, but he’s NOT an impact arm out of the bullpen today or we would have kept him or gotten more for him. He’s an injured guy with significant risk going forward. Neither I nor Keith law have any idea what that translates into next season. The Braves had no good RH PH options, aside from Ross and the limitations on his use, and no real backup for CF, to go with a staff full of question marks past Hudson. It’s no Bourn for magic beans, but it’s a reasonable trade that I would defer to the FO’s player evaluation on.

  21. @39, How delayed is it? There was a delay I’m the bottom of the second when the Marlins CFer landed on his elbow funny whole trying to dive for Janish’s hit.

  22. A cheerful iconoclast is rarely a tool. A dour one, on the other hand….but I don’t know the man.

  23. I somehow feel responsible for this.

    Everything is going wrong. We just need Rob to turn everything on this site into italics and we’ll be all set.

  24. Why does Fredi have Bourn and Prado bunt players over while Uggla continues to flail helplessly?

  25. Nearly everything has gone right for the Braves over their winning streak… and today’s just one of those games where everything seems to be going the other way.

  26. Balls have been hit hard with men on base by Janish, Freddie, and Pastornicky. Dan’s right. Sometimes, you just lose.

  27. Two of those strikes called on McCann were several inches off the plate outside. Aaaaand yet another double play, game over. AAAGHH, what a terrible game.

  28. I prefer 2012 Prado to the 2008-09 GIDP, adventurous fielding model we saw tonight.

  29. At some point, it’s going to dawn on me that the Pirates are tied (with Texas) for the fourth best record in all of baseball.

  30. Updated WAR rankings (last update 7/14)
    Updated WAR rankings (last updated after 7/7 game)
    Bourn: 7th (down 2)
    Heyward: 8th (same)
    Prado: 17th (down 10)
    Chipper: 30th (down 4)
    McCan: 32nd (up 28!)
    Uggla: 47th (down 20)
    Freeman: 50th (up 10)
    Simmons: 56th
    R. Johnson: 92nd
    Ross: 99th
    Francisco: 106th

  31. NL WAR pitchig rankings:
    Tim Hudson-26th
    Paul Maholm-42nd
    Brandon Beachy- 44th (scary that he’s still ranks 3rd on our starting pitching staff in terms of WAR)
    Ben Sheets- 59th
    Randall Delgado- 60th
    Tommy Hanson- 72nd
    Julio Teheran- 89th
    Mike Minor- 101st (coming in at a cool 0.0 WAR)

    Relievers (top 30 because the rest is just a hodge podge of average relievers fluxuatining between 0.0 and 0.5 WAR):
    Craig Kimbrel- 2nd
    Kris Medlen- 9th
    The Lisp-21st

    So, what does this tell us? Probably what we knew all along…
    1. We still don’t have an ace of the staff. Sheets has definitely performed like an ace in his first 3 starts (collectively) but I’m sure we’ll start to see a dropoff.
    2. That fangraphs has just as much hate towards Tommy Hanson as many on this blog.
    3. That Kris Medlen is really good.
    4. That the Lisp is still an underrated reliever.
    5. That Mike Minor has to have many more good starts before fangraphs becomes a believer. I stand by that viewpoint, but I’m also super-excited to see Minor, of late, being the starter that many though he was and should be.

    By WAR numbers alone, it looks like we have two #2 starters in Hudson and Sheets, 1 #3 starter in Maholm, and 3 #5 starters in Delgado, Minor, and Hanson. That’s probably pretty accurate for the season. Let’s hope Hudson and Sheets can continue to perform at that level, Maholm will benefit from a new ballpark, Minor and Delgado can continue building on their most recent successes, and that Fredi and the GM see how valuable of a pitcher that Kris Medlen can be.

  32. I’d encourage you to look at both fWAR and rWAR. Generally speaking, fWAR is based on FIP, which is to say, components, while rWAR is based on runs allowed.

    More broadly, rWAR describes how good the pitchers have been, while fWAR is more about how good they’re likely to continue to be. There is a definable relationship between components — like walks and balls in play and such — and runs, but it isn’t a perfect correlation.

    We sometimes refer to that whole gray area as “luck,” but really, it’s really just unexplained variation in the data. For example, why does Ricky Nolasco give up tons of runs despite having a terrific K/BB ratio? In order to get the full picture, it’s best to look at both.

  33. @97,

    Alex, don’t give me this fWAR and rWAR crap. I just want to know if the pitcher knows how to win. Plus, if he is a gritty competitor since we know most major league baseball players are not very competitive.

    Re Law: In general, I think he believes teams should never give up prospects in-season for what he considers marginal upgrades. He thinks a team should never “go for it.”

  34. FWIW, the Braves have lost the first game of each month this season. But they have winning records in 3 of the 4.

  35. I think you may be right. It’s very likely that Law overvalues upside. He certainly values it more highly than many.

    As far as I’m aware, the best way to tell if someone wants to win is if they have facial hair. If you’re concentrating harder on shaving your face than throwing a baseball, then you should get the hell off my team, in my opinion.

  36. 90- Still a good bargain. The money’s already spent, and it’s better that he do nothing than pitch, especially here.

  37. Or, conversely, if they are bald. If you shave all your hair, you don’t need to worry about getting a haircut or combing your hair and can concentrate just on baseball. IMO, if you have a team of bald players, you would never lose. IN other words, either have lots of hair or no hair; that’s what I would look for if I were a scout.

  38. @104, For sure. But not quite as good as paying him to pitch for another team we might eventually compete against :)

  39. @103

    Keith Law is not a big fan of winning anything, the Governor’s Cup included. Everybody should just stockpile as many prospects as possible, according to him. After all, isn’t that what baseball is all about? Why is there even a championship at the end of the season? No one cares about that, right?

  40. @107

    Right, since the playoffs are a crapshoot, you don’t prove anything by winning them. You surely don’t prove the most important thing at all, which is how much smarter you are than your competitors. No, the only way to do that is by winning trades.

  41. Keith Law’s Power Poll:

    Chattanooga Lookouts
    Blue Jays
    Durham Bulls
    Carolina Mudcats
    Springdale HS

  42. It’s worth mentioning that Law was higher on Vizcaino than pretty much any of the other prospect “gurus,” so this isn’t just about trading a prospect for mediocre MLBers, for him — it’s about trading one of the most valuable prospects in the game. He may be wrong — I sure hope he is — but he’s just being consistent with his previous evaluations.

  43. We could discuss how on Earth you can get “Maholm” to rhyme with “Gollum”. Do the TV guys use this pronunciation?

  44. I think it’s spelled “Mahol’m,” but the MLB player database doesn’t support apostrophes.

  45. I heard Keith Law once tried to trade his grandmother for Taijuan Walker and 50 twitter followers.

  46. Keith Law is one of those guys who goes to yard sales and buys random things to put in his closet becasue he thinks they will be worth something one day.

    Turns out, he has bene on Hoarders twice.

  47. At the risk of letting my day job intrude into my baseball existence, there is a simple fact at play here: there are two (and only two) logically consistent ways to evaluate trades. You can evaluate them in the fullness of time after you know everything about all the players and about the success of the teams they went to. We can’t do that for the Maholm-Vizcaino trade — yet.

    The other method is to assess a *set* of results from a *methodology* of player evaluation. When evaluating trading methodologies, anecdotes are just anecdotes and have the small-sample problem we all recognize when looking at, say, somebody’s last 15 at-bats.

    Suppose Smoltz had been run over by a car ten minutes after being traded for Doyle Alexander. Or had never deleloped into anything for any of three hundred reasons. That would certainly make it a bad trade after the fact but would only be of interest in assessing wither to trade veterans for prospects in conjunction with a bunch of similar trades.

    Keith Law has an opinion grounded in a belief that it is generally wrong to trade prospects for short-term advantage. As far as I know he hasn’t actually tested that belief against the data, but anecdotes won’t do it. He can keep yelling “Smoltz” and the other side can keep yelling “Vince Moore, Donnie Elliott and Melvin Nieves” (trivia question).

  48. But I think he also undervalues the value of marginal wins to a franchise. Even if, as he says, Maholm/Johnson only account for another one or two wins, those could be crucial wins. Franchises need to win because fans don’t pay good money to watch prospects. In Law’s world, I think, we would all go watch the Arizona Fall League and go nuts over the players’ swings. But that’s not the real world.

  49. Keith Law once saw a player hit a home run and said that his VOLTRON numbers show that there is no way he could be good enought to it a home run.

  50. @120 Some argue Smoltz trade was good for Tiger because it got them a pennant. They used time value of wins. I think it turned out better for Braves

  51. @123: Yeah, I’m aware of that, but I assume nobody agrees with it. To begin with, the Tigers might have won that pennant anyway, even though Alexander went 9-0, they ended with two wasted games of cushion. And you have to decide how many of Alexander’s games tehy would have won anyway. Second, they won the division, but didn’t get to the WS, much less win it. Finally, the counterfactual world is that they keep Smoltz and win how many more pennants?

    Essentially, if you don’t call that a good trade after the fact, you’re going to be hard pressed to find any, except the cases where one side or the other does nothing… Back to Vince Moore.

  52. @125: There are lots of metrics, but only two methodologies –after the fact, or before the fact. And before the fact trades can only be evaluated in large bundles because of uncertainty.

  53. @124, but (as circular as it sounds to some) outcomes alone are really a terrible way to measure trades. To use an example of trades that worked out, but probably don’t serve as a model – Marte for Renteria. There is just no universe in which it’s a good idea to trade a top 5 positional prospect for a very expensive (18m for the Braves) bat-first shortstop coming off two terrible seasons.

    Drawing to an inside straight on the turn is an awesome play, but that doesn’t make it good strategy. To me, trades are best evaluated by “Did we get the best value for what we gave up”, and “Is our methodology of measuring player value consistently accurate, outside of injury”

  54. I don’t think Smoltz would have resulted in the Tigers winning any more pennants. They were an aging team with not a lot of prospects. Smoltz would obviously have made them better but facing the Blue Jays and later the Yankees, he would not have been nearly enough. Of course, maybe they could have built around him but they didn’t have a whole lot in the 90s.

    And it’s really speculation to say the Tigers would have won in 1987 anyway. Yes, they won by two but as I recall they were behind and won their last seven games. They were tied with Toronto going into the last weekend and clinched on the last day of the season. It’s not as if they were ahead and coasted.

    That’s not to say that, in retrospect at least, it wasn’t a much better trade for the Braves than the Tigers. But those are the chances you take and I don’t know how highly Smoltz was thought of.

  55. #128
    And then, there’s the unmeasurable desperation factor, which seemed to account for our acquisitions of Renteria & Lowe. Some iffy deals work out better than others.

    On a somewhat related topic: I guessing I’m in the minority, but once a player is traded from our system, I don’t really root against him on principle (unless he’s someone I disliked in the first place), because I only really care how the deal works out for the Braves.

    Just because a guy succeeds or fails somewhere else doesn’t always mean he was going to do it in Atlanta.

    If Vizcaino ends up being a great closer, say, in Wrigley Field or elsewhere, good for him. I just hope our 2 new guys help us get into the post-season & succeed there.

  56. @128 I agree with you completely, spike. I’m just saying that if you commit to only evaluating trades after the fact you will be logically consistent. Suppose a GM made 20 Marte for Renteria trades and they all worked out. (I realize that the assumptions you put makes that reasonably impossible, but suppose).

    All I’m saying is that a GM can say: “Judge me by my results no matter how crazy it looks” or “Judge me by the expected results of my methodology.” Either one is going to take a bunch of data points to resolve, but either way it’s really hard to judge a single trade.

    And of course none of this gets at the “Baseball America thinks this one of the top 5 propsects in the country but we don’t” simple committment to a difference of opinion.

    @129: Ah, but what could the Tigers have traded a known commodity Smoltz for in, say 1992? Perhaps the pieces they were missing. And yes, it’s speculation to say the Tigers might have won without Smoltz. But they might’ve. We just need to assess the probability.

  57. How much stock do we put into pitching coaches? Leo was great because he had 3 HOF’rs in his rotations. Its a little concerning the injuries with our young guys and the loss of velocity for almost the whole staff. Should that be put on Roger at all or just bad luck?

  58. I think if you’re talking about evaluating your GM, the only valid time to critique a trade is when it is made, because you can’t give him much credit/blame for gross deviation from a reasonable expected range of outcomes.

    It just seems to me that, in doing so, prospect hawks tend to downplay larger franchise dynamics in favor of an expected $$/win calculation involving only the players involved. Marginal utility of wins and specific franchise strengths and weaknesses being chief among them.

  59. 136 – I agree with this and it is why I still defend the trades that brought us Quilvio Veras and J.D. Drew to this day.

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