GAME THREAD…Craig Kimbrel – who are they/we kidding? A polemic. August 30 Game Thread.

Lysergical acid was dropped
as aging relievers are shopped
confusing the viewer
and certain to skewer
his judgment if ever they’ve flopped.



on the more serious matter of extensions and the like…

the vagaries of priorities in this area…Heyward/Freeman/Simmons…the youthful and talented whose value has been demonstrated and whose long term tenure here must be safeguarded…even Mac comes into the mix in the sense that whatever we do or do not offer affects the whole, his slice of the pie….

Simmons for me, unquestionably the number one priority but that’s a different issue…beyond that there’s much to disagree about…which is kinda fun, or not, depending on your level of passion…what has got to me of late are the attitudes found here to some extent and widely elsewhere regarding Kimbrel in particular and closers in general…they are, apparently, overrated, their importance exaggerated, lots of instances where joe blow has taken over and done a great job etc, there’s no need to give them the years and the big money…yeah, which team are you watching?

let’s just look at what is fresh in the mind, the Cleveland series(played, incidentally, in front of 3 embarrassingly small crowds totaling barely 60,000 -what gives? if El OB had been on the fight card all 3 nights i bet there would have been 80,000- where is he, Fredi?) We were clearly the better team but we could easily have lost the sweep or even the series. Scored a total of 8 runs, won each game by 1 or 2 run margin.  Kimbrel saved 2, won one…our starting pitching certainly did it’s job and we got a few crucial hits but c’mon – what does this guy have to do to be given the same respect, the years, the money as the other elite group?

What has Rivera been worth to the Yankees over God knows how many years? What are they paying him? Do you think management there took the attitude, hey, he’s replaceable, no big deal, save the money…they have more than us, yes, but we have the Uptons to show parsimony does not necessarily rule at the Ted.  Kimbrel’s not Rivera? No he’s not, yet – but he could be close , he’s young, durable and very special.

This Cleveland series was representative of many recently in our great run…you know the feeling when you’re watching a game, we have the lead but it’s not comfortable, it’s too tight…we have a lot like that – think of the Nats recent visit here and ours to them, Harper and all that…ah, we say, but we have Kimbrel..yes, but for how long? and give me the name of the person you’re going to replace him with..  you stat guys, do you know the average winning margin of a Braves victory and how it compares to the rest of Baseball? i don’t but i bet i could guess the general drift.

Extend him, do what it takes, show him we know just how valuable to us he is.


100 thoughts on “GAME THREAD…Craig Kimbrel – who are they/we kidding? A polemic. August 30 Game Thread.”

  1. I’ve thought about this very topic. My question about relievers is how many Riveras are there in recent decades of Closer baseball? Trevor Hoffman is one. I’m sure there are others, but how many? If I knew Kimbrel was Rivera, I’d lock him up, sure.

    Otherwise I think we rely on him so much because many of the offensive guys we have doled out big bucks aren’t outputting the runs necessary to make him less important.

  2. A guy who pitches 65 or 70 innings just isn’t that valuable to me. Avilan and Carpenter have been just as important, and nobody is gonna make the case for locking them up with a huge contract.

  3. I don’t think extending Kimbrel with a lucrative deal (which I’m sure would be necessary) would be a wise use of funds.

  4. @1, Atlanta is second in R/G – that’s why Kimbrel gets save opportunities in the first place.

  5. @4

    so how did those two perform in this last series compared to Kimbrel?

    not in the same league i would argue.

    Durability’s another big plus for Craig – wasn’t it just the other day he became the first(youngest?) reliever to notch 40 saves 3 successive years?

  6. @8

    true but, there has to be a downside to that also…

    too many runs…no save opportunity…

    did you disagree with my original point that our average winning margin per victory has to be low?

  7. Our run differential is at 131 – so by inspection, I’d say “no”. Look, the average baseball game is decided by a difference of >4 runs. QED, if you are winning lots of games, you will be involved in a disproportionate number of games with save opps. I’m not sure what ‘win margin’ tells us, if anything, because it finds a 10-8 win the same as a 3-1 win, and doesn’t factor a 12-10 loss in at all, in terms of measuring offensive output.

  8. @6, What about the name “Braves” is so uniquely, irreplaceably spectacular that you’d risk offending even one person, white or non-white, by adopting it? Just curious.

  9. “with, as usual, more whites than actual native Americans being “offended” by the name.”

    This really has to stop.

  10. @9, it’s one inning out of 9, maybe every third day or so. I’d rather pay money for a hitter.

  11. I’m not diminishing the importance of a good bullpen – my point is that it takes 4 or 5 guys performing well to truly be a good bullpen. The 6/7/8 innings are also quite often high-leverage and no more or less important than the 9th. The Braves has been unbelievably good at finding guys to fill these bullpen roles. Maybe it’s just familiarity bias from watching my team, but it’s hard not to feel like relievers are fungible.

  12. @15, and that is the OTHER reason why it seems like you see Kimbrel all the time, without opining on your larger point one way or the other. Scoring runs, and having a good pen is what creates 9th inning save opps.

  13. Whatever the Braves are doing right to attain bullpen arms, I hope they keep doing it. I hope they keep doing it and even have a replacement for Kimbrel. I believe I would trade his last season of arby to the highest bidder.

    I know, I know… blasphemy… But we’re going to need more youth at the starting positions to fill other needs, and Kimbrel should fetch a very high payment.

  14. @15

    apples and oranges surely…’a bullpen’ and ‘the closer’…they do not operate at the same level, by definition…who remembers the Rivera bullpens? the leverage is certainly there but not at the same intensity level…nothing like it

    thanks for info…still trying to work out if i agree with myself after that!

  15. @6, What about the name “Braves” is so uniquely, irreplaceably spectacular that you’d risk offending even one person, white or non-white, by adopting it?

    I think, at this point, you’d “offend” more people by changing the name than simply keeping it.

    Going back to that Redskins poll, only eleven percent say they should change their name. Now let’s pretend that entire 11% is actually offended by the name (likely not), that is such an extremely paltry figure that it’s hard to believe one couldn’t do a poll on just about anything you can think of, and get within the margin of error of 11% being offended. It’s such a measly sum that it’s simply not worth fretting about. And again, that’s Redskins, not Braves.

  16. @18, I’m glad we have Kimbrel right now, but I think the market for good closers is one of the few remaining inefficient markets in the game. I would trade him in the final pre-arb year if we could get quality in return. That doesn’t mean I don’t like him. It just means that we’re on a budget and that I feel like position players and starters are more important.

  17. Keep Kimbrel.

    It’s nice to have a real closer. The Braves’ closer role was really terrible for a long time there after Smoltz became a starting pitcher again. The Braves finally have a single guy who has been a quality closer for them over multiple years.

  18. I don’t know if this has any statistical basis in fact, but it seems to me if you have a high-scoring offense, you’d be able to our score your opponent consistently enough by 4 or more runs that you’d not have as many “save” situations. Obviously if you scored 10 runs a game, you’d have fewer save opportunities than if you scored only 3.5.

  19. I was looking at the other end of the spectrum to see what it’d be like if we had nobody that could close out a game … the Arizona Diamondbacks have 26 blown saves. Holy crap, cut that in half and they are in the playoffs.

    So I’m not saying that I want to trade Kimbrel and then blow 30 saves the next season. I’m hoping that we could find someone young and cheap to fill the role and that worst case they’d be league average.

  20. @22, that presumes you have a pitching staff capable of keeping your opponents from scoring a lot of runs, doesn’t it? Further, in just the first example I checked, the ’95 Indians had an outrageous offense with a run differential of 230 – Jose Mesa had a league leading 46 saves and league leading 57 games finished.

  21. The save definition is too broad. 3-run lead? Bah. If you have a historically great offense your team will average around 6 runs a game. Even bad offenses will score 3 runs per game, so great vs bad you’ll still get a lot of save situations.

  22. That’s my point exactly. I don’t see any correlation between Kimbrel’s usage and the efficiency of the Atlanta offenses behind him.

  23. 16 runs a game is 972 runs. I can’t seem to find an all-team run leaderboard anywhere, but I’d be real curious to know how many, if any, teams have surpassed that. 03 Red Sox had 961.

  24. @29 Unless you have a payroll along the lines of the Yankees’, I’m not sure you have a choice. Sadly.

    EDIT: @13 It won’t. Sadly.

  25. 1999 Indians scored 1009. I think the 1998 Yankees were close to 6 runs a game. A lot of teams scored over 1000 back in the early days of the game (bad defenses) but I’m not sure that counts for much. Anything in the 900’s is great in the modern era. Even greater now that the game is *cough* cleaner *cough* than it has been.

  26. It seems like Elliot Johnson inherited the Ramiro Pena pixie dust.

    And Freddie doesn’t care much how hard you throw.

  27. I would really love for Regression to win the batting title, or at least strongly challenge Molina until the end of the season. For that to happen I think Fredi needs to move him back to the bottom of the order. He seemed to like it there.

  28. @39 That’s the problem. One of those needs to get going. Basically, what we’ve been saying the whole year.

  29. Did Simmons honestly just swing at the first pitch after the previous two guys had walked? Wow.

  30. I don’t think it’s actually a baseball term, I think it was just a saying amongst the kids I played ball with, but we would have said about Andrelton: “The guy believes in magic.”

  31. First-pitch strike against a guy with this kind of stuff…hack away. If you get behind you are basically already out. But it has to be your pitch. A nasty slider probably wasn’t his pitch. Maybe he was sitting on it though. Sometimes you guess right and you just miss. It’s hard.

  32. I’m acquainted with the Simba Omnibus. I get the frustration, but first-pitch swinging isn’t always cardinal sin. Context matters. I know that he swings at a lot of stuff, but as long as they are strikes and he was looking for it it’s hard to criticize. Impossible to know what he was looking for…I’ll concede that.

  33. The guy is going to be one of the best hitters on the team in a year or two. He almost never swings and misses. Hand-eye is other-wordly. He just needs experience.

  34. In other news, Simmons is leading the Braves in fWAR. If he can hit at even an average level – a 100 wRC+ or so – he’ll be a top 10 player in all of baseball.

  35. @73: same reason he calls every groundout that advances a runner a “productive out”?

    Just listen the next time a Brave or opposing hitter grounds out to second, with a runner on second and no one out. Like clockwork: “and there’s a productive out for [player’s name].”

  36. Man, Elliot Johnson looked like a .180 hitter or something on that one..

    @76 – No, there wasn’t a pitch even particularly close to being a strike there.

  37. If the Marlins are as sick of Stanton as it sounds like their announcers are, I’m sure the Braves would take a trade straight up for BJ. Get it done, Wren!

  38. Yes, but he’s in the AL now. He was a really good QB at Penn as well as a baseball player.

  39. So with E Johnson to play 2B and Janish to play 3B, maybe we should pick up Casey Kotchman so that when we win the World Series, we can have an all-defensive-replacement team at the center of the pile. (Minus Simmons, Heyward and BJ.)

  40. That last out was a little too interesting for my taste. Love watching these guys play at home.

  41. I really, really, REALLY hope we can come out with the best record. Home field advantage for this team is going to be HUGE.

  42. Yeah it’s a tough spot for Varvaro. He’s become the long man, but it’s not like he is specifically suited for it or like he ever really struggled as a situational guy.

    I’d like to see him re-enter the regular relief corps. I mean, the idea is that he’ll be there and be rested if we go 13 or have a starter come out after only 4.. But if he was available for every situation, he’d end up saving enough innings for the other guys, that you’d be able to survive the occasional “all-hands-on-deck” kind of game.

  43. Gattis optioned to AAA. Guess they kept him around for El Oso Blanco night? If so, that stinks. How many ABs could he have had down there by now?

  44. This also makes me think the Braves might have a waiver move up their sleeves before midnight tomorrow.

  45. Yeah, they wouldn’t be sending him down NOW to get AB’s, considering he’s been benched for a full week now, and there’s only 3 games left in Gwinnett.

    I think they’ve got plans for that 25th spot on the roster.

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