Welcome to March — Williams Are Pitching At 1 PM!

We’ve finally entered March, and you know what that means: we’re only two weeks from St. Patrick’s Day, and only four hours from baseball!

Over the last couple of months, I’ve become mildly obsessed with a Scottish folksinger named Dick Gaughan. His band 5 Hand Reel does a brilliant song of a traditional Irish tune called “Maid of Listowel,” sung by his Belfast-born bandmate Tom Hickland.

For today’s game, Williams are on the bump for us against some guy named Mike Wright. He is apparently a former third-round draft pick out of East Carolina who is now a 26-year old with a 6.04 ERA in 44 2/3 innings.

Let’s beat those stinking Orioles straight back to Bawlmer!

64 thoughts on “Welcome to March — Williams Are Pitching At 1 PM!”

  1. I think today’s game is a must win for us. It could give us confidence and set the tone for the entire season – OR NOT.

  2. I wouldn’t call it a must win, but it’s definitely a possible STATEMENT GAME.

    We can only hope Williams STAY WITHIN THEMSELVES–that is the key to victory.

  3. @3, there’s something so incredibly tedious and moralistic about these money conversations in baseball that I’m sure I won’t be able to articulate.

    It seems everyone is trying to figure out who is being the most greedy and cynical, who is the biggest villain.

    The owners are the easiest to hate because they’re the richest. They’re evil for wanting to pay the players as little as possible (imagine that).

    The players are greedy for wanting to be paid as much as possible (imagine that). They’re disloyal to fans for considering playing for a hated rival for far, far more money. Or to expect to collect on a contract they signed (go figure).

    They’re selfish, in the eyes of the MLBPA, to even consider “settling” for a 9-figure contract that might depress contracts for other players, even when forgoing such a deal means assuming a huge amount of personal risk in lost earnings.

    The author says it speaks to Desmond’s character that he caved to the pressure of the MLBPA to hold out for larger deal. Does it? Isn’t it interesting that a player wanting to make as much as possible is recast as altruistic in this particular light?

    I think it’s clear that every group and individual in question is primarily self-interested. This is human nature and it should surprise no one. Let’s stop the moralizing. We’re all greedy. They’re all greedy–including the MLBPA. If they want players to risk great personal fortunes for the benefit of others, they should stop appealing to altruism and provide some sort of insurance against catastrophe, which is exactly what befell Ian Desmond.

  4. Williams Perez
    The birth certificate says
    What through humor we already did certify:
    That being born on May 21 they are naturally both Gemini

  5. @9 — And play him where? He’s a disaster anywhere on the diamond, and his quote-unquote “best” position has someone named Freddie Freeman standing at it. And it’s not like he’s even that great a hitter.

  6. @7, It does speak to Desmond’s character in very specific ways–I don’t think Posnanski attempts to judge what that character is beyond describing it. In a word, he portrays Desmond as a martyr and leaves us to add in our own measures of nobility or foolishness as we see fit. Both are easy connotations here.

  7. @13, it’s sort of beside the point, since Posnanski in particular is just one of thousands of voices making this same type of moralistic argument about money in baseball, but still…you’ve got to be kidding.

    I don’t want to go through all the reasons that it’s obvious what moral position Posnanski is taking because it seems just so obvious. This sentence should suffice:

    “The Nationals’ offer was a cynical one, and Desmond cannot afford to be cynical at this point in his career.”

    Owners cynical. Players altruistic. I guess it just feels better (noble?) to see the world in this way, but I can’t abide it.

  8. You shouldn’t abide it–I just don’t think that’s what Posnanski’s getting at.

  9. 15—It sure would, but I can’t see it happening. I’ve heard an eventual landing with the Brewers is most likely.

  10. Finally, the Royals tear up their 5 for 7 plus club options contract with Salvador Perez. A delicate balance between greed and embarrassment first noted on these pages during the broadcast of the All Star Game when the talking heads in the booth, consulting their notes, couldn’t believe the numbers they had just read out loud and an awkward, lengthy silence ensued. Never before or since, IME.

  11. Greetings from Orlando…

    Went to the game today. Hadn’t been to a Braves spring game since the West Palm Beach days, so it was nice to hop the Disney bus & be there in 15-20 mins from the hotel room.

    Was a really sunny day, so my only request at the box office was: Shade, please. Got lucky with seats behind home plate, Row T under the overhang. In a stadium of 9,500, the place was about half full. Bottom area pretty full, upstairs not so much. Lotta O’s fans, too.

    Williams Perez, as always, wasn’t exactly fooling them. He was topping out at 89 and his hook didn’t have that much tilt. He got nicked up for a run in the 1st. In the 3rd inning, the kid from Long Island, Danny Burawa, got lit up a bit, giving up 2 HRs, including a 400-ft bomb to former South Carolina star Christian Walker.

    It should be noted that, in LF, Olivera misplayed 2 flies off the bats of lefties. First he turned a liner right at him into a double — he ran in on it like a little leaguer… landed behind him. Then, he did the same thing on the first HR off Burawa. He broke in on it, then it landed over the fence, 50 feet over his head.

    The Braves made up the 4-0 deficit on a combination of balls hit into the gaps and balls kicked by the O’s. The scorekeeper was rather generous today, assigning only 2 E’s to both squads — there were easily 4 or 5. Jace Peterson kicked a DP ball that was called a single. The O’s fan next to me saw the scorekeeper’s ruling, pointed upstairs and said, “This guy’s running a charity.”

    Late game, the highlight was a pair of 100-mph pitches from longtime Braves farmhand Mauricio Cabrera, who worked a quick 9th inning with 2 Ks. His minor-league stats are a lotta Ks, a lotta walks and a lotta runs, but he looked good today.

    So it was a tie, like an old NHL game. Whatever. More important was experiencing the moment when the guys took the field, the two managers acknowledged each other, the umps started yucking it up at home plate, they were playing the old John Fogerty song and the fans were just grinning for the opportunity to see it all. The notion that my team was going to suck wasn’t important.

    Probably won’t hang onto that feeling for long, but it felt fine today.

  12. ….’it must be said’

    come in on the ball
    if you don’t you won’t get there at all
    but, Hector, kindly prejudge it
    the die, once cast, you simply cannot fudge it.

    scary stuff…

  13. @25, thank you so much for that! It sounds like we’re basically hoping Olivera can be Ryan Klesko. What do you think, is it going to be possible to teach him to be passable out there? Or is that just a fool’s errand?

  14. Danny Burawa
    brought Hamptons heat, he’s no chihuahua
    but at Westminster, graded
    they said he trotted well until he faded.

  15. @28

    How hard could it be to play left field? Give him a few weeks and he will learn how to be passable.

  16. If he can play 2B he can surely play LF. He’ll be better than Klesko defensively. If he hits above replacement level I’ll be pleasantly surprised…that’s where the Klesko comparison kinda falls over.

  17. As someone who played OF in HS and at a small college, I’m extremely confident that an athlete like Olivera who has played a reasonable 3B will be just fine in LF. Once he gets comfortable in-game with the live ball off the bat, then he’ll be athletic enough to make the plays. In my opinion, once you feel the ball of the bat, you never lose it. If I wasn’t slow as Christmas, I could probably go out right now and cover ground in-game pretty well.

    Like krussell, it’s the bat that’s the problem.

  18. krussell’s bat is replacement *at best*

    Olivera’s, however, should be at least a win better. Replacement level is a pretty pessimistic projection.

    I also think the instinct Rob Cope describes can be developed, but it’s also possible that not everyone can develop it well (as is the case with almost any human skill there is), even when they do other baseball things well. In football, for example, it’s widely believed that the ability to take good angles on a ball carrier is relatively innate–some guys just don’t get it and they suck at safety. That seems similar to taking angles on fly balls and reading their trajectories quickly. Olivera got down the line great for his size, so I’m not that worried about his speed–it’s the reads and routes.

  19. It’s hard to project how my bat will play this year, small sample sizes and all…

    Olivera looked completely overmatched in the few times I saw him hit last year. Long slow swing, will have to be a guess hitter.

    Maybe this year we’ll see the beast our scouts think he is, but I’m gonna assume he sucks until proven wrong. If he doesn’t suck then maybe we can win 70.

  20. Ubub, jealous. Even if we’re looking at a AAAA team. It’s renewal.

    Re the Desmond article, I was stunned that the Nats offered him a QO and I was gobsmacked that he didn’t take it. I wrote a lot about Desmond being a disaster at SS for the Nats. I just said he was the worst starting SS in the NL — this guy says he was the worst position player starting in all of MLB.

    Me last July: “Ian Desmond may very well be the worst starting SS in the NL. He never could field the position; now he can’t hit either. Defense wins games, and he’s now got 21 errors in the books. I’d say hometown scoring has excused another 12-18, easy. (Desmond passed up a sizeable extension offer from the Nats last year — he’ll never see that kind of money offered again). If you are going to construct your team as pitching-first, you have to have guys who can catch the ball. You in particular have to have a shortstop who can catch the ball. Desmond has easily cost the Nats 4-5 wins this year, just in the games I’ve seen, with his fielding. And that may be conservative.”

    He’s a man without a position. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts he doesn’t “turn it around” and he lingers around as a $2-3 million bench player for a couple more years.

    Part of the outlandishness of baseball salaries is that they are effectively payment for past performances. I mean that teams pay players based on stats accumulated over the past three years, likely for another team, than for an honest assessment of what the player is likely to do over the course of his next lengthy contract. That’s why these 8 and 10 year contracts are insane. Declines are inevitable and often precipitous, and you’re stuck paying BJ Upton or ARod or Werth 4-5 times the value of their actual current levels of production. The Nats dodged a huge bullet when Desmond declined the extension. He needs a new agent, but probably too late.

  21. @35

    You’re right. Some will do better than others. Andruw and, say, Cespedes have similar top line speed but instincts make one perhaps the best CF ever and one better suited for LF. I don’t think we need Olivera to be Alex Gordon, but his athleticism will make him more than capable of dealing with any issues with off-the-bat instincts.

    Has there been a Braves player that has been this dissected? Perhaps Melvin. Olivera’s such an interesting case of being an unknown commodity who came with a high price tag right before a loooooong offseason for a team in transition who really needs that player to be good. Add in the age, and you’ve got a true enigma.

  22. Not sure how, but our scouts fell in love with Olivera early on. His glove appears to be an issue and he appears to be a stronger Yunel type at the plate with a longer swing. It might be unfair since he was out of baseball for almost 2 years and made 4-5 stops last season, but Im pessimistic. .280/15 HR’s would be shockingly optimistic.

  23. Has there been a Braves player that has been this dissected?

    Mike Hampton, when you combine literal and figurative dissection?

  24. @37, “Part of the outlandishness of baseball salaries is that they are effectively payment for past performances.”

    Absolutely. It’s seen as “fair” for the player because they are frequently severely underpaid for their first 3-6 years, and that’s true, but it sucks being the stooge that picks up the tab for that and pays for the decline (as we did with BJ).

    I was also shocked that Desmond declined the QO, but I imagine part of his reason for had to be sour grapes. It has to feel lousy to accept so far less from the same team whose large offer you rebuffed.

  25. Mallex with 2 triples already! Jeffy with a walk!

    Hope Ububba is on hand to see the Swanson-Albies-Mallex 8-9-1 combo.

  26. I think we’re gonna like Mallex Smith. 10 total bases today…so far. Have a day, Mallex!

  27. It also looks like Albies homered to straight away CF…but I might be reading a completely fictitious recap.

  28. @44, 46, 47

    12 total bases now. If he’d just stopped at first sensibly on one of those triples he’d have the cycle.

  29. I think August and September are going to be fantastic months to be a Braves fan this year.

  30. Mallex has no singles power. He needs to balance his approach and cut down on extra base hits.

  31. I have to imagine that the Braves see one of the biggest benefits of adding Andruw Jones to the front office/scouting dept is that he could give us a huge edge in signing young free agents out of Curacao.

  32. Among other things, this Braves-O’s series features a couple of the great franchise third basemen in the league: Manny Machado and…Gordon Beckham.

  33. Kenley Jansen is basically the only good player from Curacao who hasn’t played for the Braves.

    Obviously, we’ve had Andruw Jones, Andrelton Simmons, and Jair Jurrjens. We signed Randall Simon in 1992, just a few years after Hensley Meulens debuted, and he’s probably the fifth best player in island history. Other than Jansen, every single hot Curacaoan prospect not employed by the Braves has failed to develop: the Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop, the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar, and the Mariners’ Wladimir Balentien. (Balentien has finally found himself as a Japanese slugger, but he just couldn’t solve the majors.)

  34. @60 – We are not 1-1-0, we are 1-0-1! The impressive thing is that we are averaging 7.5 runs per game. If we continue this for the rest of the year we will surprise a lot of people.

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