“The Benghazi Handicaps” : Braves 11, Nats 10

A see saw affair. Braves lead. Nats lead. Braves lead. Nats lead. Braves climb a little. Braves lead. Braves hold off Nats. Braves win.

One good pitcher that the Braves have frequently owned is Steven Strasburg. So, when you DO have his number (and get 3 runs in the first) you figure you have a good shot. Then, by the end of the second, you are down 4 to 3. Then, in the third, up 6 to 4. Mike Foltyneweicz just didn’t have it. He left trailing 7 to 6 and one more of his scored, obviously. Strasburg came out after 5 and the battle of the bullpens went to the Braves. The capping blow by Tyler Flowers with a 3 run homer in the top of the ninth to turn a one run deficit into a 2 run lead. Jim Johnson gave up a run but got the save.

Benghazi Handicaps is a term a British officer used to apply to the “Battle in the Western Desert.” The “western” part meant “west of Cairo and Alexandria.” Handicaps as in the horse races. When you look at a map of Egypt and Libya you will notice that the coastline gradually moves westward from Alexandria until just past Benghazi when it curves southward, then later westward. Just after the fall of France, Italian forces in Libya moved into Egypt as far as Sidi Barrani. The British were VERY outnumbered. While the Italians waited for supplies to catch up, the British attacked. The Italians retreated along the coastal road and railroad and the British sent a light weight motorized force diagonally across the desert to try to cut the Italians off. This took them to a place called El Agheila. For the next 2 years this was repeated over and over. Axis advances and utilizes the desert route to cut off British. Reverse. Reverse. Each time a side advanced, their supply and air support was strained and they couldn’t hold on defensively, let alone continue the offensive. This continued until The British Advance from El Alamein. That time, “Operation Torch” had taken most of French North Africa leaving Axis supply and support lines strained even more than the previous times.

79 thoughts on ““The Benghazi Handicaps” : Braves 11, Nats 10”

  1. What a game. And cliff: wasn’t it Sidi Barrani who slid home on his gimpy legs to beat the Pirates?

  2. How can anyone enjoy a game like that knowing it might have cost Rome a high school pitcher 12 months from now?

  3. JonathanF at 4 got it. Sidi Barrani is Arabic for “Sid Bream.” Thus, a more complete connection.

  4. @5 Well done.

    But to Stu’s point, a higher position meant more money as well. Oh well. You still suit up to win every night.

    Really like the Kyle Wright pick. Going underslot would have probably meant a lower upside pick, and if you’re going to draft a pitcher in the first round, he needed to have the ceiling to compete with Folty, Teheran, Newcomb, Allard, Soroka, Gohara, and other potential front of the rotation starters. We really didn’t need someone whose ceiling was a 2-3 starter. They went big with the pick and got it.

    Waters is interesting too. He has power, speed, switch-hitting, and he seems to have some shot at staying in center. 6’2″ 190 LB. I wonder if he went underslot and the Braves have some more money down the road.

    In the 3 drafts since the new regime took over, they’ve taken Allard, Soroka, Riley, Herbert, Minter, Anderson, Wentz, Muller, Cumberland, Wright, and Waters in the first two rounds. Relative to the time in the system, only Herbert has been a disappointmnet. By contrast, only Jason Hursh and Matt Marksberry have reached the bigs from the ’13-14 drafts. ’15-16 already have had 3 reach AA. The improvement in pace in which the new regime has developed its draftees is undeniable.

  5. John Sickels has a nice rundown of Waters, who sounds incredibly well-rounded:


    Waters has one of the most complete physical tool sets available this year: 60 running speed, 60 throwing arm, 50 raw power that he can already tap, combined with a reasonably polished hitting approach from both sides of the plate.

    He draws particular praise for his center field defense where he has both the tools and the instincts to thrive. He is already an adept base stealer and runner, giving him cachet as a possible leadoff man.

    Despite the leadoff profile he is not a slap/dash hitter, showing considerable pop. His raw power is essentially average but he knows how to get to it, especially from the left side, and usually shows feel for the strike zone.


    There aren’t many. He’s done well against good competition and is polished for a high school bat. While he doesn’t have a weak tool, he also doesn’t have the massive impact tool of some of the players who will be drafted ahead of him, and as with any young hitter the transition to pro ball might not be automatic. He has a lot more reps than most players his age, which is good in many ways but could also mean that his skills are maxed out.

    An up-the-middle two-way threat who can hit, run, and catch the ball, he sounds like a guy who could be one of our best position prospects pretty much immediately.

  6. Thanks. Loving these WWII recaps.

    What a game yesterday, and two high-ceiling draft picks to boot. Not a draftnik, but I see nothing to dislike in picking Wright or Waters.

  7. I will accept nothing less than Christian Yelich, and I am unflinchingly rigid on that point. And if Kyle Wright is not Zach Greinke by opening day 2018, then I will consider this entire rebuild a colossal failure. And if Dansby doesn’t start playing like the Derek Jeter we were all promised, then I’m out of here. OUT OF HERE!

  8. We drafted Fred Tarnok and Troy Bacon in rounds 3 and 4. Neither are ranked in the top 200. I’ll let you guess their position.

  9. Maybe something’s brewing in the later positions. Two fairly underwhelming picks.

  10. Peanut…

    Tarnok didn’t begin pitching until last year. FB 92-95, has touched 98. A scout described his projection as “through the roof.”

  11. 4 out of 1st 5 picks .. pitchers ..what else ??? wjen they gonna realize we are short on position players with pop .. we need to gamble on a couple big burly guys and swing for the fences …

  12. @19

    I think if I got drafted they would find some spin for me too.

    “The 36 year old, who hasn’t pitched 26 years, has a deceptive fastball. High level scouts believe his arm should have less wear and tear than many of these college arms.”

  13. “Smith, or Smitty as he’s called, pivots his fastball with an eephus pitch, which are sometimes mistaken for each other. Fields his position well so long as nothing is hit back to him and he doesn’t have to cover first. Scouts admire his availability, as he was willing to report to the GCL on a moment’s notice. He’ll provide a veteran presence and silence his critics.”

  14. 8—I would expect so, yes. They’ll probably limit his innings and start him in A-ball this year, but I expect he’ll move quickly and be ready by 2019. If they pushed him, he could contribute next year, but I don’t expect them to do that.

    As I mentioned yesterday, the post-Wright picks are not going to be exciting. (Waters was honestly more than I expected.) They have to make up the savings in those spots to have enough to go over slot to give Wright the money they promised.

  15. Some color on Wright…

    Came to school as an RHP/3B and was not one of the most highly-thought-of kids in his class. Long and lanky, had plenty of projection on the mound and in the batter’s box, but sat mostly 87-89 in high school. I honestly thought he’d be more of a third baseman than a pitcher.

    A coach’s kid with the standard VU “plus makeup,” the thing you heard about Wright coming in — and it proved to be true — was that he “had a baseball mind” to go along with four pitches and command of all of them. “He can move the ball back and forth, really give hitters something different to look at all the time,” is what I remember Corbs telling a group I was in at an event during the fall of Wright’s freshman year. Prophetically: “He’s also added a bit of oomph to his fastball, and we think there may be more there.”

    By Spring, he was hitting mid-90s with his fastball in relief appearances, still showing command. He was getting high-leverage innings down the stretch, including in Omaha. VU fans were hopeful, but the question was whether he could maintain that level as a starter.

    He actually started throwing even harder as a sophomore, sitting regularly in the mid-90s and flashing even more gas, and he was a mainstay in the weekend rotation all last year and this one.

    He’s really, really, really good. Throws hard, throws strikes — and not usually hittable strikes. Also has two good breaking balls and a changeup that flashes plus. Like I said, in my mind, he’s second only to Price in the likelihood-of-MLB-success department among VU pitchers I’ve watched over the past 15 or so years.

    And the Braves were always on him. No matter what you may read elsewhere, I can assure you that Wright was always Plan A. Still can’t believe they pulled it off.

  16. Stu,

    Does Wright throw a straight, overpowering fastball, or does it have a lot of movement?

  17. I mean, I’m no expert, but I think his mechanics are generally regarded as very good. He’s not Carson Fulmer with a bunch of herky-jerky head movement and violent arm action. He’s just a tall kid who added mass and got in a program that’s awesome at maximizing pitching talent. Pitchers get hurt, though, so I have no idea whether he’ll be Mark Prior.

    The fastball isn’t totally straight, but his success is more about velo and location than it is movement.

  18. Kyle Wright was born the month the Braves won their last World Series. Coincidence? I think not. I think he’s the Wright guy to bring a championship back to Atlanta.

    But yes, thanks Stu. The Braves should acquire more Vandy players so that we can get such great analysis.

  19. We say this every year, but it’s incredible just how heavily southern the Braves’ picks are so far:

    1. Kyle Wright (out of Vanderbilt, born in Huntsville, AL)
    2. Drew Waters (Etowah HS in Woodstock, GA)
    3. Freddy Tarnok (Riverview HS, Florida, just south of Tampa)
    4. Troy Bacon (Santa Fe CC, NM, high school in Tampa)
    5. Bruce Zimmerman (U Mt Olive, NC)
    6. Jordan Rogers (U Tennessee, high school in Memphis)
    7. Landon Hughes (Georgia Southern)

    Literally every single draftee went to high school, college, or both, in the South.

  20. Love the Tarnok pick – put a few chips on a big arm with upside. Just the kind of pick you’re in a position to make with a deep system.

  21. @24 – I really think we have to tip our caps to the Braves scouts if they can get him signed. Furcal rule is in effect until he signs on the dotted line. I get the feeling that he knows how to win.

  22. @35, I wonder Alex if that is Atlanta playing to its strengths regionally, or if the organization is too cheap to invest resources in looking for hidden gems in say, Seattle.

  23. Baseball’s a warm weather sport. Every organization invests in scouting the south and southwest because kids who grow up here get the most reps and are the easiest to project. Part of the miracle of Mike Trout is that he’s from New Jersey; it’s not expected that a kid can become god’s gift to baseball when he’s got equal/more opportunity to play football, basketball, hockey, etc. Whereas Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, and Joey Gallo were all practically neighbors.

  24. Thank you, Cliff. I enjoy the history lessons. Sid Bream beat me, never had an inkling. Congratulations on the catch, JonathanF.

    Getting Kyle Wright at even above slot is a good deal. I hope he signs soon. Congrats, Stu and the Braves.

    Thank you, everyone. Catching up on the last three threads has been a blast. Blazon, blaze on. Everybody else as well. What a great website.


  25. @35–it’s probably just a coincidence but isn’t it odd that 4 of the 8 regulars on the current team (markakis, Phillips, Flowers, and of course Swanson) went to high school in metro Atlanta. None of them were drafted by the Braves.

  26. Correction–Flowers was drafted by the Braves. It just took him a long time to play for the big league Braves

  27. 42 — I think that may be the philosophy for the organization going forward. Draft and develop our own pitching, and go out and get position players as needed in free agency.

  28. Yeah, I think Flowers was in the Javy Vazquez deal.

    The Braves are fortunately placed, and there aren’t many other teams in the southeast. They’d be foolish to deviate too far away from the southeast. It’s like living next door to a Ruth’s Chris but going to Outback across town. In a lot of ways, with spring training and several minor leagues in the southeast, Atlanta underperforms as a franchise.

  29. The question of how aggressive the club might be in promoting Wright prompted me to look at the last Vandy pitcher the Braves drafted in the first round. Mike Minor was drafted in June 2009 and made his big league debut 14 months later. He qualified for rookie status in 2011, just his second full season in pro ball. And Wright is considered a much bigger talent than Minor was when he was drafted. Remember the criticism they got for drafting a high floor low ceiling soft tossing lefty?

    Actually, though, that criticism of Minor may have been spot on as to Gilmartin but not so much as to Minor. Mike was really quite good in the second half of 2012 and in 2013. Then his shoulder acted up.

    Anyway, quite excited to see Wright.

  30. @45 Dickey’s first pitch of the game was good, basically every subsequent one has been bad.

  31. Minor actually added some velocity in the minors to make him more than a soft tosser. He’s pitching very well as a reliever now for the Royals.

  32. If Minor keeps pitching like this, he can sign for $7-10 million/year to be a lefty setup man.

  33. @35

    Alex, and to reinforce your point, Troy Bacon goes to Santa Fe CC in Gainesville, FL, not New Mexico. Both the south, but I think it further illustrates that the Braves are specifically looking in the southeast.

  34. Not enough is said about how valuable Ron Washington has been to this team. He has some of the best judgment for a third base coach–he gambles just enough with one out to get a few guys thrown out but get a few runs through we might have stranded. He also has been an asset on coaching infield defense that we have lacked over the years.

  35. Chip just said that Joe Ross has an average of 12 runs of support per game. Is that true?

  36. That double play by Kemp was crap. He tip toed down the line like I’ve seen several players doing. Snitker shouldn’t put up with it.

  37. All the descriptions of Waters I’ve seen point to the type of athletic, “toolsy” players that always make me skeptical. All these guys need is a little plate discipline and contact skills to really put it all together. Good luck with that. Just my opinion, but I’d prefer contact ability over all other tools.

  38. @ 58 – In that same game, Ozzie Albies returned from the disabled list and has a walk, a double, and a triple.

  39. Got to give Chip credit for a good one: “His name is Rio, he just hit one in the stands”

  40. Inevitably, Dickey will be exposed as trash. He is the Press Your Luck pitcher. You take enough spins, you eventually hit the Whammy.

  41. It’s tempting to view the Colon and Dickey signings as total failures. On the other hand, they bought time for the kids while efficiently losing games for us and signalling to the fan base that we were afraid to “go spend some money to compete”

    @63, look up the lyrics to the Duran Duran song “Rio”

  42. Yes, Colon and Dickey bought some of the guys some time, but that needs to end. I’d rather give Wisler, Albers, Weigel, and Sims a few turns over these guys.

  43. @62
    Won his last start, 3 hits, no walks…trash? methinks you doth protest too much. Devalues the currency.

    Too recent for me JohnWDB, so thank you.

  44. Jacob Belinda
    they say he was scouted on Tinder
    don’t believe a word that’s pejorative
    just enjoy and follow his exemplary norrative.

  45. It’s tempting to view the Colon and Dickey signings as total failures. On the other hand, they bought time for the kids while efficiently losing games for us and signalling to the fan base that we were afraid to “go spend some money to compete”

    John, you’re right on all accounts. And yes, it was a gesture to the fanbase, albeit a little empty.

  46. Weigel’s outing tonight: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 R

    If you take out one atrociously bad start 7 starts ago, this is how the other 9 most recent starts have gone: 53.2 IP, 13 ER, 42 H, 42 K, 18 BB, 2.18 ERA

    He could be ready. And his next start lines up perfectly with Dickey’s. DL him with Cantpitchitis and see if Weigel is ready. What do you have to lose?

  47. I would like to acknowledge that I appreciate that Chip Caray tweets me back quite often. I think he’s a good guy. He gets a bad rap.

  48. @73 I have no doubt that he is a good guy. He is just not as good at his job as his father and grandfather. That’s all.

  49. The Colon and Dickey signing have been total failures by any measure. Blair and Wisler would’ve done no worse and at a fraction of the cost. But it’s not like they were gonna pocket the savings and pay the fans dividends or something, so I guess there’s no reason to care about how much the failures cost. The biggest fail here is that we’re gonna have to wait out what will seem like an eternity just to get them off our team.

  50. for cliff

    Our resident Historian
    from Hannibal to guards Praetorian
    on elephant or foot
    he follows armies till the one cries Hold, caput.


    AJ Minter
    has stated he once struck out The Splendid Splinter
    cryogenically adept
    he took every advantage of knowing where the head was kept.

  51. @73

    Most interesting and understandable that you would want it known…it’s always a fun conjecture who if anyone at the Club reads us. Does the interface extend from Twitter to here, anyone know?


    Was trying to put my thoughts re Chip into words, then saw yours. Well said. So, can we agree that this famous heritage plus the great deal of effort and enthusiasm he puts into his work every evening should preclude the idle, flippant put-down?

  52. Chip’s gotten better. The Skip impersonations are better served up by someone other than a doting son trying to fill daddy’s shoes. Trying to follow a local legend father as a chip off his block can’t be easy. From his first day behind the mike, he’s had to battle cries of nepotism.

    It ain’t easy being Chip, but I do wish he’d master when to let the play speak for itself. There’s nothing wrong with awed silence, says the verbose poster.

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