Jonny Venters (by Rob Cope)

Every organization has its strengths and weaknesses. One thing the Braves seem to do well: develop young, cheap bullpen arms. While other organizations pay a premium for setup relievers and closers — for the second straight offseason, the Red Sox have depleted their farm system to obtain a second-division closer — the Braves have been able to rotate them through for the past decade with great success.

It’s allowed the Braves to enjoy great seasons from several retreads, and then simply allow them to leave when they reach market level. (One of those retreads is currently on the free agent wire: Chad Durbin is still seeking a two-year major league contract after leading the Braves in appearances in 2012 with a 3.10 ERA.)

This post is about Jonny Venters, but it is also about a philosophy that the Braves have employed over the past several years. Jonny has epitomized the approach the Braves have had for its top relievers: use them as much as possible, for as long as possible, and take your chances with their health.

(Among the relievers whose elbows Bobby Cox nuked are Peter Moylan, Blaine Boyer, Oscar Villarreal, Chris Reitsma — he sucked for us but that’s largely because he was entirely ineffective on back-to-back games — Greg McMichael, Kerry Ligtenberg, and Brad Clontz. Fredi Gonzalez appears to be following his lead.)

The Braves drafted Jonny in the 30th round of the 2003 amateur draft out of Indian River Community College in Florida as a starting pitcher, and he spent six seasons in that role in the minors. His overall minor league numbers are far from impressive: 72 GS, 4.10 ERA. In 2009, the year before his callup, Venters was 24 years old and he made 29 starts in AA and AAA, and he had a 4.42 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP with just 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

He clearly was not a future rotation anchor. So the Braves converted him to relief and called him up in mid-April 2010. He was astonishing: 79 appearances, 83 innings 1.95 ERA, 10.08 K/9, with 24 holds, and he finished 8th in the Rookie of the Year voting. That’s unusual for a middle reliever. He was that good.

But 2011 was more of the same: 85 appearances (most in MLB), 1.84 ERA, and 9.8 K/9. Along with Eric O’Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel, Jonny anchored the fearsome O’Ventbrel trio that ended scores of games early. He could have easily closed for Atlanta — or just about any other team in baseball — if not for the Kraken.

However, when his previous two seasons are added up (including a few games in the minor leagues in April 2010), he appeared in 175 games, pitched 178 2/3 innings, and led the league in back-to-back game appearances. Indeed, O’Flaherty, Kimbrel, and Venters were all in the top 10 in appearances in 2011. Fredi said that the usage of the three would diminish.

It certainly did in 2012, but that was partly because Venters spent a couple of weeks on the disabled list. In Spring Training, he received a cortisone shot in his elbow and noticeably struggled with his control and command. His first half was a tightwire act: a 4.45 ERA through July 3, with six homers allowed through 32 1/3 innings. In July, Atlanta finally placed him on the DL with a sore elbow. He looked better after he got back on July 22, with a 1.71 ERA and no extra-base hits allowed. Venters finished the season with 58 2/3 IP.

So it goes back to Atlanta’s philosophy towards relievers. It’s pretty clear that relievers are fungible assets — even a reliever as surpassingly excellent as Venters is not as valuable to the team as a young starter like Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, or Kris Medlen. As Mac used to say, from a manager’s perspective, as you decide how to distribute the innings among all the pitchers on your staff, you would rather see a reliever get injured than a starter.

As a result, it seems like the Braves have ridden many of their best relievers into the ground, though it may be difficult to blame them for doing so. After all, in 2011, the Braves bullpen was incredibly top-heavy, and the use of O’Ventbrel kept Atlanta in the race despite a shaky offense until the last game of the season.

(The pen was much more balanced in 2010, as O’Flaherty and Venters joined Takashi Saito in backing up Billy Wagner, and Craig Kimbrel came up late in the season to add to the firepower.)

A case in point is Peter Moylan, who logged more than 80 games in 2007, 2009, and 2010, but missed the 2008 season with Tommy John surgery, and missed most of 2011 and 2012 with back surgery and shoulder surgery.

It’s difficult to tell what 2013 will be like for Everyday Jonny. Will he continue being the dominant reliever he was in 2010-2011 and the second half of 2012, or will he continued to be dogged by injury problems? Jonny is helped by his age — he’ll be 28 in March, so he doesn’t have that many cumulative miles on his arm — but pitchers get injured almost as a matter of course.

If Jonny stays healthy, it will be a tremendous boon to the Braves, but the Braves shouldn’t rely on it. He’s already survived Tommy John surgery once, back in 2005, and he’s a lefty who was sent to the DL with elbow soreness in 2012 who elected to keep pitching rather than undergo surgery. Right now, the Braves just have to cross their fingers and hope for the best. When that sinker is darting, it’s hard to think of a more unhittable pitch. Or anything that’s more fun to watch.

156 thoughts on “Jonny Venters (by Rob Cope)”

  1. Thanks, Rob.

    Hope everyone had a joyous Holy season.

    2013 will be the Braves’ best year since 1995. At least I hope so.

  2. Excellent write up Rob.

    I think the organizational philosophy is spot on. All they are doing is asking a pitcher to be good for one inning or two 70 or 80 times a year. The team runs through relievers but they always seem to find the failed minor league starter in our system or the re tread like Chad Durbin to fill the role.

  3. Nice Rob.

    I like to call Venters’ sinker his Bugs Bunny pitch, as it seems cartoonish when it nears the plate and darts in a random direction – much like the BB cartoon I remember from my childhood. I will admit to a spit take or two when drinking a cold beverage and watching that pitch defy the laws of motion when he’s on.

    In fact, it is my belief that if Sir Isaac Newton where alive today and saw Venters’ sinker at the height of its powers, he’d have to be restrained in a mental institution for his own safety, and we would not have Newton’s Laws of Motion.

  4. They certainly struggled in 2007 and 2008, but outside of that, they’ve been very successful picking guys up off the scrap heap, using them as much as possible, then letting them walk. Remember Chris Hammond in 2002 who, if I remember correctly, was completely out of baseball, had a career year with Atlanta, and then leveraged it into a multi-year deal with New York. John Rocker, and all of his warts, was the centerpiece of the deal that brought us Steve Karsay and Steve Reid, who were excellent for us. Mike Remlinger was another failed starter who had an excellent relief career in Atlanta (was he not essentially a throw-in in the Neagle deal?).

    This is a big reason why Atlanta has had fairly consistent success while reducing payroll: they don’t overspend on this area of the roster. It also allows us to have luxuries like David Ross, an excellent back-up catcher and players past their prime like Chipper.

    If only we could develop great position players using the same methods.

  5. So it’s political only if someone disagrees with you, in which case they are being both ridiculous and injecting politics onto the board? Well, I’d better just keep my mouth shut then!

  6. If Andrelton Simmons posts a 289/.351/.416 line over a full season, he will be one of the most valuable properties in baseball, even before you figure in contract status.

  7. @10 182 games started would include wild card game, 5 game first round and 7 games league championship and WS

  8. He’s not predicting playing time. He’s predicting results based on the amount of playing time. For instance, he has our utility infielders getting about 300 at-bats.

    Some of it is a bit too optimistic, in my opinion, and some of it is disappointingly realistic. Do you guys think that Tim Hudson will put up those numbers?

  9. I dont why anyone would have a problem with this.

    Really? You don’t know why anyone would have a problem with an icon that shows a screaming feathered Indian, a classic emblem of the “savage”? In a region where Indians were forcibly removed by state and federal authorities, no less? In a country whose indigenous populations are, for the most part, opposed to the icon? On a team which has zero people of Native American heritage? Really–you can’t come up with a single reason?

  10. @6. That’s awesome and projects a positive image of a brave warrior without negative stereotypes. I plan on getting one as soon as possible.

  11. Who chose to label that image “screaming savage”? When I look at that image, I see neither a person screaming nor a savage. What gives?

  12. I personally can’t imagine how any Braves fan isn’t embarrassed that the organization thinks that’s somehow okay.

  13. 150 years ago President Lincoln had 38 Sioux executed and the rest driven from their lands. No fawning movies.

  14. @10

    It looks like James thinks we win 88 games. That should give us a shot to lose in the play in game again

  15. The logo discussion is over the no-politics line.

    Unfortunately, this discussion was triggered by the team, not anyone here. I won’t bother with it anymore, but sometimes, to be fair, the line between politics and sports is not so easily marked.

  16. I’ll say this and do my best to respect the rules of the board: there are some kids out there whose only brush with Native American culture (if you call it that) is through a team’s mascot. Get rid of them all and you get rid of that. Before you know it, Native Americans will be a mere footnote or something we look up on Wikipedia. I’m not sure what that says, but it can’t be good. Can it?

  17. DG, I understand the point you’re making, but…

    First, I don’t think that sports mascots like Chief Nocahoma, Princess Winalotta, and Chief Wahoo are representative of Native American culture: they’re representative of a pop culture stereotype of that culture. That stereotype — feathers, tomahawk, war paint, teepee — doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the realities of the historic or current culture of the millions of American Indians who live here.

    Second, if a kid can graduate high school without learning anything about Native Americans, then I don’t think they’re going to learn anything by watching a Redskins game.

    That said, it’s possible to argue about just how offensive and just how harmful a stereotyped representation like Chief Wahoo truly is, and many people do. I just think that argument is one that we should avoid having on this site.

  18. I just had a three hour delay in the Atlanta airport. I wish Chief Nocahoma was there to scream at everyone and pillage the village of Gate C.

    I’m sorry.

  19. I am now comfortable with the team as constructed. It can throw and catch and should be able to hit enough. The best part of the off season is that Avilan the Untouchable remained that way, and we all learned about Juan Jaime. Let Operation Running Bare begin. The one nagging thought I have is that Hudson is nearly done.

  20. I think we’re overall a worse team than we were last year, so no, I’m not comfortable at all. We haven’t even come close to replacing the best hitter on the team.

  21. @11

    I’m exceedingly UNcomfortable with the playing time projection for (ugh, I can’t believe he’s still in my life) Jordan Schafer.

  22. This rotation worries me. Counting on Delgado and Teheran to fill the 5th spot seems troublesome, especially considering that we could have both of them in the rotation if someone gets hurt. Hudson is getting to the age where he could hit a steep decline at any moment and Minor and Medlen can’t possibly replicate their second half performances from 2012. I think Wren would be wise to add one more innings eater to this staff.

  23. Points well made, and I certainly don’t want to hae that argument either. As you aptly stated, honest folks can disagree on this. Personally, I would like to see these new hats bring back some of that 1982-style “know how to win” mentality ;).

  24. Anybody have an answer to my question at #19? The writer of the linked article puts the term in quotations, which to me implies that it’s someone else’s descriptive term of the logo, perhaps even the Braves organization. I’m unaware that the Braves have used that term to describe that image, and if they did, I’d certainly accuse them of being insensitive idiots if not racists.

    But I’m thinking it’s the writer propagandizing on behalf of his cause, and in turn ironically projecting his own racist imaginations. Anyone?

  25. That writer didn’t make up the name “Screaming Savage.”

    It’s long been referred to as the “Screaming Savage,” and was later altered to be called the “Screaming Indian.”

  26. That image, which once adorned popcorn containers that could later be converted into megaphones, was always referred to as “the laughing Brave.”

  27. I just did a quick google image search for “screaming savage”, and the only Braves-related imagery that came up was the recently-released graphic of the new BP cap, each of which linked back to one of today’s “OMG the Braves are so racist” articles. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know exactly how these search results are processed, but if it was such a widely used term prior to today’s news, it seems like the results would have produced a few more Braves images. For what it’s worth, my circle of Braves friends and I have always referred to this logo as the “laughing Indian” or simply the “Indian head logo”.

    And it’s awesome.

  28. To me he looks like he is neither screaming nor a savage. All I got out of that piece was insight into the author’s own prejudice.

  29. I don’t see how it matters if the guy has ever met a Native American. And I think it’s pathetic to try to project motives on to the writer that are pretty clearly the antithesis of his stated perspective.

    Just for laughs, I narrowed Google search results, and searched for “screaming savage.” Unfortunately, all those results are contaminated by sidebars that include links to the most recent wave of articles. So as a control I searched “Screaming Indian” + Braves, and narrowed my results to 12/31/2011 to 12/31/1978. On the first few pages I found articles from 07 and 09 that refer to Levi Walker/Chief Noc-A-Homa as the personification of the “screaming indian” logo. I also found an auction result for a Braves jersey with the “screaming savage” patch, aswell as a Braves blog that hasn’t been updated in over a year that is actually titled “Screaming Indian.”

    Not that any of that should matter. I just feel compelled to introduce facts when wishful thinking begins to bleed in to conventional wisdom.

    I don’t see how any of it matters. The issue was kept alive by John’s insistence that no one can find anyone but Kevin Kaduk referring to the logo as the “screaming savage” and his wishful thinking that Kevin made it up.

    I’m not trying to drop a “I’m not talking politics, everyone after me is” bomb, but I only made this post to state those facts. We still have those, believe it or not.

    I really feel that the issue should at this point be dropped.

  30. I remember seeing a poll, a few years ago, in which white people were more offended by Chief Wahoo than actual Native Americans.

  31. I seem to recall seeing that logo many, many years ago. It dates back to the Milwaukee Braves (don’t know about Boston). I never heard the term “Screaming Savage” until today.
    That said, if the logo does indeed offend American Indians, then I think it should be dropped. (I thought it was dropped from the uniform a few years ago). There are plenty of other ways to depict the team name. Racial controversy does nothing to promote the team’s image, or the way it wants to be perceived in the marketplace.

  32. I like it, just as I like Chief Noc-A-Homa, in the sense that it’s an emblem that was introduced to me as a child, when the entire world was made up of things I either liked or disliked, and my world view did not extend beyond the tip of my nose. So I still like it in that childlike way. But, honestly, I can do without it, and it seems like one of those relics that future generations will look at and say “Jesus, how was that ever okay?” Then they’ll laugh and move on, while old codgers like us will continue to pretend there’s a battle still to be fought over it.

  33. I had a post written on the logo, but deleted it. I agree with AAR, the man with the marker. Time to move on, in more ways than one.

    As far as the 2013 roster goes, if you believe the starters take a step back, Freeman has reached his level, and McCann doesn’t produce, it ia a little scary. I’m on the optimistic side leading into Spring training. With the pitching staff and defnese we have, there is plenty of run production to give us another run at it.

  34. The problem is that its a caricature. There are ways to do stuff with the native American heritage of the Braves’ name without it being so… thoughtless.

    FWIW, it would actually make more sense if the particular image in question originated in Boston than Milwaukee or Atlanta. The Mohawk and Iroqouis (who actually wore mohawks) were native to New England, not the southern states or upper-mid-west. (So spake Wikipedia.)

  35. Hank Aaron and the Screaming Savage.

    &imgrefurl=http://collider.com/hank-aaron-movie-barry-levinson/156893/&h=325&w=470&sz=35&tbnid=TQ9JpAq9IzssLM:&tbnh=85&tbnw=123&zoom=1&usg=__hOes-hwSnksIOapugVgBB4IPOFQ=&docid=9mvhr-0MGAzjxM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=m7DdUKyPMcrR0QXGwYD4Ag&sqi=2&ved=0CDgQ9QEwAw&dur=139

  36. #50: I appreciate the explication of my words, but I wasn’t engaged in “wishful thinking”. I was merely positing a theory. I’m certainly willing to discuss things where the facts lie. Speaking of which, in defense of what I wrote, where did I “insist” that nobody but this writer is responsible for the term? I was asking questions to ascertain whether he did or not. Isn’t that, like, a huge difference?

    Now, if you put your reading comprehension cap on, you’ll also note that I said anyone using the term “screaming savage” with any level of seriousness would be idiots, perhaps even racist. You see, I don’t much like the term “savage” applied to anyone not actively engaged in acts of savagery. The image – of a person “shouting” and/or “laughing” – is not of a person “screaming” anyway. So I reject your premise in absolute terms. You are seeing something I and others do not see. I refuse to accept your take on the matter, especially since you seem to have a predisposition to be offended on behalf of others. I don’t truck much with those lines of arguments, thank you very much. “I’m offended because I think some other people will be offended” is a really lame way to shame people into doing what you want them to do.

    Completely understand the desire to keep politics out of this forum, and I’ll respect any further proclamations on behalf of that, but I disagree that this isn’t a topic worthy of discussion here. I love this sports team passionately, and have since Bob Watson hit that pinch hit homer. (You know the one.) And any time some third-rate sportswriter wants to rile up the Racial Grievance Industrial Complex against my team for something I don’t feel they need to apologize for, I would like to speak out against that. I feel like anyone here would like the opportunity to do the same – whether they agree with this particular instance or not. We should be able to put our feelings on record in support of the Braves.

  37. I will say that there’s definitely been interest in having more merch with that logo. Vintage is in now and that mark carries a lot of cache. When I was working on the Eephus magazine I used that mark in a re-creation of an old Braves ticket, and I got the following comment:

    “I want that indian illust. on a shirt and then I want that shirt on me.”

    I don’t want to get into the discussion but I did want to toss in my two cents about the organization’s motivations for bringing it back, which is money.

  38. I was told this by a former teammate of Hank’s (and is now a baseball instructor):

    When Hank first came up, he batted cross-handed. No one had told him to change and, besides, he was killing the ball. I’ve always wondered if that didn’t have some positive effect on that swing and/or those wrists.

  39. “I’m thinking it’s the writer propagandizing on behalf of his cause, and in turn ironically projecting his own racist imaginations.”

    That’s not thinking. That’s hoping. Because if its true you can throw his objections out and be done with it.

    Further, Alex asked that the subject be dropped. Explicitly.And the subject was dropped. Until 6 hours later when you reiterated your question. (“Anybody have an answer to my question @19” followed by your assertion that the writer was propagandizing.) This lead to 4 or 5 more comments asserting similar perspectives, reigniting both sides of the debate.

    My critical thinking cap is in fine working order.

    I sincerely feel the subject should be dropped. Andnot because I feel it isn’t related to the team, as opposed to your feeling that it is)

  40. Sorry. Phone posted before I was done.

    I don’t feel it should be dropped because I feel its unrelated to the team, as opposed to your feeling that it is. I feel it should be dropped because we have only a few boundaries here to keep the conversation cordial, and our host and moderator had explicitly said this topic and conversation is outside of them.

  41. Let’s move on to something we can all agree on – Tim Tebow is a terrible person and worse quarterback, amirite?

  42. “I sincerely feel the subject should be dropped.”

    You keep saying this after loading up your post with lots of wild statements that demand a fair rebuttal. Hmm…

    Regardless of how you feel the argument should go, I am still of the opinion that it’s not “politics” to talk about things that directly relate to the Braves, how they run their organization, or how the world at large sees them. Obama vs. Romney, the Second Amendment sucks/is awesome, the Iraq War was a great idea/war crime…these are all political discussions in my mind and completely out of polite boundaries on a Braves blog.

    But if the PTB want to put the hammer down on my take, I’ll abide with it. This ain’t my blog. But neither is it yours, jjschiller. You do seem to want to shame or intimidate compliance upon those you disagree with, whether it’s a logo you don’t like or a line of conversation others are trying to engage in.

    “Until 6 hours later when you reiterated your question.”

    Yes, because I wanted to get my facts straight. I sincerely didn’t know if this writer was responsible for the term “screaming savage”, or if, as his lazy writing implied, the Braves were. If the Braves are responsible for that term, I consider that an important thing to know, and the question shouldn’t be left dangling out on the internet, especially on a forum dedicated to supporting the Braves.

    And I didn’t make an “assertion”, which is to advance a statement as fact. I made a “suggestion”, which is to say the facts might – but might not – be a certain way. Yeesh. First you’re twisting the meaning of a logo, now you’re twisting my words.

  43. spike: As to the former, I don’t think so (even if I wouldn’t want to hang out with him) and as to the latter, I suspect we’ll never know.

  44. 71: Elway was right about him, despite the miracle he performed for the Broncos down the stretch. He should be a tight end. He’d probably be a pretty good one. He sure is a good athlete.

  45. Tebow a terrible person? True class act. The world could use more people like him.

    Even worse QB? Unconventional sure, I can give you that. 2 SEC and 2 NC championships at Florida, 1 heisman, highest QB efficiency rating in SEC history, 1st round NFL draft pick, 2011 took a 1-4 Bronco team to the playoffs for the 1st time since 2005.

  46. Serious question: I can understand people hating Tebow because he went to UF. Totally rational. But why the nationwide hate? Is it because he gives the appearance of being a Dudley Do Right figure, but he’s been proven to say or so things that show him to be a hypocrite? I’ve not followed the off field drama surrounding him too much so I really don’t know.

  47. @82 It’s my opinion that the Tebow hate doesn’t come from anything he’s done so much as the fact that ESPN actively works to talk about him whenever possible. Everything he does is covered breathlessly. I’ve yet to ever see the guy slip up and that’s very admirable considering the amount of coverage he gets. If he had so much as undertipped at a restaurant we’d have heard about it. People always want to tear down others and Tebow is an easy target because of the “Dudley Do Right” mythos and the pious angle.

  48. I think I’d even put up with disco if I could be that age again.
    —————–

    Until and unless Tebow plays for a coach who specifically tailors the offense for his talents (Chip Kelly to the Jags, anyone?), he’ll suffer a similar fate to what happened to him this year.

    Never could figure out why he chose to play for Coach FootFetish, but it’s becoming ever more clear that the owner pushed Tebow on the coaching staff and they were having none of it.

  49. The fact that he was such a sensation at college is a factor. The fact that he’s very honest and up front about his faith is another; he’s gained a lot of fans because of his work as a missionary and such. There’s also something of a backlash against that. Not because he’s a man of faith or does good things, but because a lot of people are a fan of him because of those things and will defend him even when his performance on the football field doesn’t justify it. And there’s also the people who want to “be right” about him not being a good NFL player, being overhyped, etc.

    And of course ESPN has been all over him since forever, in part because they LOVE SEC football and in part because he was truly excellent for his time at UF, had numerous highlight-reel plays, and is a compelling figure in his own right. (Back to that whole “missionary-work-during-the-offseason” thing.)

    The reason this story in particular has legs is that the people who think Tebow is overrated for whatever reason finally have something to throw back at the folks who defended him on the grounds that he was a good teammate/good guy/good leader. Until now, they could only criticize him with what he did on the football field, which only gets you so far with a lot of people, particularly when what they’re criticizing wasn’t his ability to win football games but rather his arm motion and accuracy.

    Anyhow, I’m a UF fan, hence I adore Tebow. I do think he’s overrated as a pro, but its been really fun to have the haters stymied by his resounding success in Denver. And I do think he’s an essentially honest and good-hearted guy. If he asked out of playing in NY (and I really question how that conversation went/how it happened), I’ll be disappointed, because it’s absolutely the wrong thing to do regardless of how poorly he’s been treated by Rex Ryan and co. since being acquired. Still, I also question how this story got out. It smacks of lockerroom politics, which makes me question just how true it was.

  50. Speaking of former Gators, Lomas Brown is a piece of, er, work, isn’t he?

    This apology tour is embarrassing. Hell, he was proud of it up until the moment he started getting called on his cowardice.

  51. Jets sorry season is not Tebow’s fault. He did well last year when “better” QB did not. I think going to playoffs and beating Steelers made Tebow haters very bitter.

  52. Tebow is just another rohrshach blot in our national culture war. In the words of Yoda there is nothing there but what you bring with you.

  53. I blame Rob Cope for this thread. I blame him for screaming savages, Tim Tebow, marking lines with invisible ink, the University of Florida, and the New York Jets.

    This is my birthday thread, and I expect more.

    I still say Francisco, Gattis, Prado, Constanza & Johnson can produce enough at LF and 3B to get us through. I expect Medlen and Minor to pick up where they left off, Hudson and Maholm to keep games in reach and Delgado/Teheran to be better than anyone else’s #5. The bullpen is sound, the defense is slick and a line-up that includes Upton, Uggla, Heyward and Freeman will score runs.

  54. Venters, O’Flaherty and Avilan. Does anyone, anywhere have that kind of left-handed depth and talent in their bullpen?

    Surely, one will be traded?

  55. What, you’re not happy with that single digit QB rating he’s so fond of putting up? I don’t know how anyone is ever going to be good enough!

  56. Speaking of LF:

    Joy Heyman from CBS Sports said the “possible trade of Upton has become a reality again following the surprise signing of Cody Ross.”

    Ken Rosenthal said that Jason Kubel could be the odd man out, but doesn’t see the D’Backs getting much for him.

  57. I would be inclined to see if O’Flaherty or Venters could return some good high-minors position talent. The Yankees have 3 pretty good outfielders above AA.

  58. No thanks to Kubel or Upton. Really content to start out with Johnson, Constanza and El Oso Blanco (who will make the team as third catcher).

  59. If we were to swing a trade for Justin Upton because the D’Backs acquired Cody “The Shrimp” Ross, that would be just so delightful!

  60. @102 – got to play someone against righties.

    If Upton were a free agent (and we could afford him) sure. But I really don’t want to give up what they’d ask for.

    We simply cannot afford to give up cost-controlled talent because of our self-imposed fiscal cliff (aka, criminal tv deal).

  61. I totally agree with you, Stu, but I’m not sure you could love the Upton brothers any more if they went to Vanderbilt.

    Anyway, I love the Gattis story, but what he’s doing down there is basically like Spring Training: small sample, very uneven competition, really hard to extrapolate what he’ll do once he starts facing low-and-away sliders every day. I’m not comfortable considering him Plan A till he shows me what he can do against big league pitching.

  62. If we can get Kubel for mostly nothing, I think he’d be a fine platoon partner for Gattis for a year. I don’t really think there are any free agent OFs left I’d prefer, and he’s 7.5 mil for a year with an option, so little commitment.

  63. 104—You play Justin Upton against righties.

    105—Oh, sure I could. But they’re both young, good players who were each the top prospect in the game at one point. And OF has been such a consistent weakness that I’d love to not really have to worry about it for several years.

  64. And, of course, I love the idea of having both brothers on one (my) team. Just seems like it’d be really cool.

  65. I tend to agree with you, AAR, but the thing with Gattis is that he’s been raking the whole time when he’s been healthy. When he was playing in A and AA, scouts were generally optimistic about his current performance. Given his age, I don’t see why the Braves would wait around with him. He’ll have every shot to make the team in Spring Training, and from there, it’ll be on how he performs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned into a productive player, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up unable to hit major league pitching consistently. But that along with the 5th spot in the rotation will be fun to watch during Spring Training, as well as the rest of the year. :-)

  66. Gattis has a grand total of 207 PA above High-A ball, all in Double-A, and an .865 OPS in a half season of Double-A at age 25 is not necessarily an indicator that the guy can be a major league regular. I like the guy and I believe he could fit on the 25-man, I’m just unconvinced that he can start.

  67. Ok, Upton lovers (I’m an Upton liker and he’s certainly better than anyone on our 40-man or in our system), what would it take to finish out the Brother Act?

    Delgado or Teheran + Pastornicky? Done.

    But would that do it?

  68. I got JC’d the other day, but I project Gattis as a rich man’s Matt Diaz. Good enough in his prime to play in the Major Leagues. Hopefully more power.

    I don’t see him having a long career, or any spectacular seasons, but he could be useful for 3 or 4 years.

  69. If you are implying Jordan Walden as the reliever to trade for some position strength on the farm – yeah, that would be better.

    But, I was thinking there might be more value in the aforementioned lefties.

  70. I tend to think we’d do much better moving one of the lefties than Walden. There just aren’t a lot of quality RH arms behind Kimbrel in the Braves’ pen right now. It’s like Lisp and Gearrin. The bullpen is strong, and I think they’d be fine rolling with just two LHP on the roster. But I wouldn’t want my primary RH set up man to be Cory Gearrin.

  71. @50 It is not projection that informs my opinion of the writer; it is deduction. Much in the way that a person’s reaction to an inkblot tells you much more about the person than the inkblot, I found the author’s insistence that a plain image of a native American with mouth open is an offensive depiction of a “screaming savage” to be quite telling.

    And the only thing I find “pathetic” in this discussion is your self-serving demands that everyone else but you shut up and stop talking about it.

  72. One final point: I feel that I should defend Kevin Kaduk, because he edited me when I was at Yahoo, and he’s a good guy. He clearly did not originate the phrase “screaming savage”; it’s being used by every writer on the web to describe the logo. As I search the news archives (LexisNexis and Factiva), the phrase that I find more commonly is “screaming Indian,” which is how Furman Bisher referred to the logo in a World Series column in 1991.

    And with that, we’re seriously going to drop this conversation.

  73. While we may disagree on many political points, I think we can come together as one to agree that my posts been the best posts of the off-season.

    On a completely unrelated note, Alex is an excellent editor.

  74. @117 If you asked earlier and I missed it in my scan I apologize, though personally I feel this should be open for discussion. I don’t think anything involving a debate is necessarily political. That said, since you asked I will abide.

    @121 The Atlanta Chokers.

  75. Gotta be Atlanta Crackers. Rednecks are the last public group you can make fun of in public (cause they like it if it’s one of their own, cf. Lewis Grizzard, Foxworthy, Larry The Cable Guy)

  76. The Atlanta Connecting Flights That Are Always Delayed. Or The Atlanta We Will Sell Your Ticket If You Have a Short Connection.

    Yes, I’m bitter.

  77. The Atlanta Homegrown
    The Atlanta Foreclosures
    The Atlanta Bugzappers
    The Atlanta Local Nine
    The Atlanta Salt ‘n’ Butters
    The Atlanta Divorce Attorneys
    The Atlanta Waterseekers
    The Atlanta Landscape Architects
    The Atlanta Bluebloods
    The Atlanta Colonnades

  78. Mejia hit 2 HR tonight and is tied for league lead with Gattis. They might be useless stats, but Mejia and Gattis sure have been fun to follow this winter.

  79. The Atlanta Definitely Not Screaming Definitely Not Savages

    or The Atlanta Tomahawks, and then folks would shorten it to the Atlanta ‘Hawks. But there’s no way that would be confusing.

  80. Oooo. If we call them the Bravos, I can pretend we’re talking about water dancers from A Song of Ice and Fire.

    Naturally, I won’t do this out loud, since people would probably throw their beer at me.

  81. The “use em till they break” philosophy was one of the things about the sainted Bobby Cox that drove me crazy. The list of relievers whose elbows BC sacrificed that Rob pended is far from complete. The fact that he routinely carried an extra bullpen pitcher rather than a useful bench player made it even worse.

    Look, if you don’t trust four guys in your bullpen to pitch for you, then for crying out loud either cut them or find someone you do trust.

    Davey Johnson used his bullpen last season brilliantly. Every guy had a role, every guy got the ball when his role was needed. There were no “insurance” guys who only pitched when we were down six runs or up six runs.

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