Mailbag: 5th Starter?

Written by Colin on February 13, 2009 – 9:41 am

We’ve been getting quite a few Mailbag submissions and have assigned them to writers. They’ll get published soon. Please continue to offer Suggestions using the tab to your left or filling out the Mailbag form.

Tim wrote the BravesBlast mailbag with the following question:

Hi guys…I’ve just about had it with Mark Bowman over at MLB.com. His latest post about his projected rotation has Jo Jo Reyes penciled in as the 5th starter. What I want to know is this: What is he seeing that I’m missing? Reyes was by far our worst option last year. Why wouldn’t you use Campillo or even Morton in the 5 spot? Thanks and great site!

Thanks for the submission, Tim. First of all, I think the majority of the BravesBlast staff would puke if Reyes was flat-out awarded the fifth rotation spot. Sure, he’s got a chance at winning it, but only if all goes wrong. Obviously Lowe/Jurrjens/Vazquez/Kawakami are the first four pitchers in the 5-man rotation. Let’s take a look at the fifth rotation spot options.

Jorge Campillo is the first and best option that’s on the roster right now. Campillo has been likened to Greg Maddux and doesn’t have super impressive speed – but he has control going for him. Last year, he stepped into the rotation and impressed with an 8-7 record with a 3.91 ERA. And that was WITH that horrible luck the Braves had last year. Campillo is my top pick. If he doesn’t make the rotation, our bullpen is THAT much deeper with Campillo as the long reliever.

Tom Glavine isn’t even an option until he’s on the roster. He’s supposedly the guy that would trump the other candidates for the position – and he’s good – but do we really need to pay $3-5M for a fifth starter? We *could* sign Glavine, but I’m not sure we need to.

Charlie Morton may not be ready for the bigs, but he’ll get a chance to try and prove he’s ready. He’s 25 and young – and didn’t have the best luck in the big leagues last year. That said, I like Morton and as he matures I think he’ll be a decent 4th or 5th starter.

Jo-Jo Reyes is not a good option. He’s just not. I’m sorry, but when I mentioned to Jonathan that I was writing this article, he said the following about Jo-Jo. “Give me Campillo, or anyone but Jo-Jo, please.  I can’t spend another part of a season not watching every 5th game just because I know I’ll get angry.” That about sums Jo-Jo up. He also drives a Toyota Previa. Ok probably not, but it’s a long-standing joke amongst the crew here.

James Parr is a longshot. He went 1-0 in 5 starts with a 4.84 ERA last fall. He could make the rotation if everyone else flounders and he shines in spring training. Otherwise he spends at least the beginning of the year in Richmond.

Tommy Hanson is more likely to make the rotation in the middle of the season. I’d prefer him take his time before he gets to Atlanta – I want him to absolutely stun batters once he’s here. I’m looking forward to seeing him but don’t want to rush him. The sneak preview in Spring Training will be nice.

So there you have it – the main contenders for the 5th rotation slot. Discuss.


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Posted in General, Mailbag, Speculation | 19 Comments »

Why Not Garret Anderson?

Written by Colin on February 9, 2009 – 9:12 am

Thanks to one of our readers for submitting this question via the Skribit tab on the left-hand side of the page. If you want to see us write about a subject, submit a suggestion on the tab. If you have a more in-depth question, use the Mailbag form on the Mailbag page.

So – Why not Garret Anderson?  It’s no secret that the Braves are looking for a little extra pop in the outfield – specifically left field. The Braves are rumored to be considering Bobby Abreu, Nick Swisher, or Xavier Nady. But why not consider Garret Anderson, the Angels outfielder that’s on the market?  Good question – let’s take a look.

Garret Anderson is a lifetime .296 hitter with an average of 92 RBIs and 19.4 home runs. He has had some pop, and he can play great defense in the outfield. He’s played his entire career with the Angels and has been their outfield power bat since the late ’90s. He’s yet unsigned, and even though he made $12.6M last year and has Scott Boras as his agent, he could possibly be signed for significantly less than that this year. So – why aren’t the Braves looking at Anderson?

I’d think that the first thing is the amount of power that Anderson brings to the table. In the last five years, he’s averaged only just above 15 homeruns. Why would the Braves go sign him for a chunk of change when they could just as easily have Matt Diaz platoon with someone? Matt Diaz knocked 12 homers out of the park in 2007, the last time he was healthy for a full season. Augment that with Brandon Jones or Gregor Blanco and we could have a duo that’d exceed what Anderson could do. Anderson is a good bat – he batted .293 last season with 15 HRs and 84 RBIs – but is he better than what we’ve got right now? Will 15 homers cut it when we could probably produce 20-25 with an outfield duo already on roster? I just don’t know.

I’d say Anderson, while a good, quality, consistent player, isn’t a great fit for the Braves right now. And that’s why we’re not pursuing him, if I had to venture a guess.


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Posted in Mailbag, Speculation | 17 Comments »

Mailbag: Francoeur, Glavine, Podcast

Written by Colin on January 21, 2009 – 12:10 am

Chad wrote mailbag yesterday (we respond quickly) with the following question:

Hey guys just wondering what you think about Francoeur’s Statement in the AJC that he is going to be a completely different player, Also Glavine said he had another pain free pitching outing and seems to be leaning toward coming back with the Braves what are your guys thoughts on this. I think you guys need a talk show or something get your voice out on the air.

Thanks for writing, Chad. Francoeur is going to be an interesting guy to watch this year. Last year he bulked up, partially due to getting married and enjoying his wife’s cooking, and partially because he spent a lot of time lifting. This led to Francoeur absolutely smashing balls in batting practice, but messed with his mechanics a little bit (from what I read… I’m not a batting coach).  This year Francoeur has slimmed down.  He took some advice from Mark DeRosa and Mark Teixeira and has changed his stance and swing. He’s been hitting four days a week. He’ll probably be better than he was last year. I’m going to go more in-depth on Francoeur soon in another post, so I’ll save some thoughts on him. I think we’ll see Francoeur as a different player – and I hope he’ll surprise us with how good he is. He’s optimistic about it and so are the other people I’ve seen talk about it.

I addressed Glavine a couple days ago in this article. That said, I’ll add that I wouldn’t mind seeing another arm in the arsenal as long as we don’t pay tons of money for it. The Braves need a lefty, they need a veteran, and though their rotation is more aged than we’re used to, Glavine would add some to it. I just don’t want to see us waste tons of money on him when we wouldn’t sign Smoltzie.

As far as podcasts or talk shows, we’re working on a few options there. While we’re not about to start a podcast ourselves yet (also not saying we won’t do one), we’re partnering with a few people. For one, the good people over at BravesCast have had Rue on twice and Jonathan and I will be making appearances soon. It’s long – an hour – but it’s good.


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Posted in Mailbag | 12 Comments »

Mailbag: Jason Heyward

Written by Colin on May 29, 2008 – 10:18 am

Cameron recently wrote our mailbag with a question about one of our top prospects.

I’ve heard a lot about Jason Heyward, and with comparisons like Ryan Howard on one site, I was wondering how long before he could see time in the Bigs, and what position he would play, in your opinion at least, Ive heard 1st and LF, but I thought I should ask someone with at least some inside knowledge.

Jason Heyward is one of the Braves’ brightest prospects, ranked just behind Jordan Schafer by Baseball America as the Braves’ #2 prospect this year. Jason was the Braves’ top draft pick in 2007 (14th overall) and is playing the 2008 year at Class A Rome – just a little more than an hour north of the city, if you want to go see him play. In his early days with the team, he’s already making an impact and stands out. The man is 6’4″, 220 lbs, but he has extraordinary athleticism for a man his size.

I haven’t heard any comparisons to Ryan Howard (though they do seem to come from the same mold), but Braves’ GM Frank Wren compares him to a young Cliff Floyd – and hopes that Heyward can stay away from the injuries that torpedoed his career. “They look very similar. They’re great athletes who are strong and imposing. They’re very different than most guys.”

Heyward will probably be to the bigs in the next two to three years. He’s in Baseball America’s projected 2011 lineup for the Braves, playing next to Schafer and Francoeur, but if the Braves are unable to resign Mark Teixeira, there is speculation that Heyward may make the transfer to first base.

Heyward is ranked as the best power hitter in the Braves’ farm system, as well as the player with the most strike-zone discipline. He bats left and is working on being even more disciplined at the plate. Heyward will be a pleasure fo Braves fans when he makes it to the bigs. In 203 at-bats so far this year in Rome, he’s batting .340 with 7 home runs and 15 doubles. He’s only walked 14 times and struck out 35 times, so he needs to be a little more patient.

Overall, Heyward will be a very special player and I’m excited to see him develop in the coming years. He’s going to be an important key to the Braves of the future, whether he’s playing outfield or first base.


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Posted in Mailbag | 4 Comments »

Mailbag: Hampton Update

Written by Colin on May 26, 2008 – 7:44 am

Mike wrote our mailbag recently asking:

What is the status of Mike Hampton? I can’t find any updates on his recent injury and/or his rehab status. Anything would help – thanks.

Mike, let me help you with this one. Expecting Mike Hampton to be back at Turner Field anytime soon is probably setting yourself up for disappointment (not saying I’ve done the same thing time and time again).

I was one of the biggest Mike Hampton believers coming into this year, and as much as I’d like to believe that he can come back from this injury and pitch effectively for the Braves from the starting rotation, I have to caution you against buying into it. Until we actually see Hampton on the mound for the Braves, I’m in doubt that it’ll happen. And I sure won’t count on it.

That said, Hampton threw on flat ground Saturday, and there were no issues or re-straining of the pectoral muscle that has been giving him trouble all year. Hampton said “It felt good; I didn’t feel anything.” Hampton has another set of flat ground throwing Monday, where he’ll throw more than he did Saturday. He’s expected to have a few more similar sessions before he throws off a mound – that’ll come in the next week or two.

As far as a timetable for return, nothing has been said. I hate the cynicism that has crept into my thinking on Hampton, but it’s there nonetheless. I think we’ll see him in Atlanta sometime this year, but I can’t tell you when. I would love to see him come back from this and anchor the back half of the rotation for the remainder of the year, but that’s a long shot. Let’s all hope he can make it back and stay healthy. The guy’s worked hard and he deserves it.


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Posted in Injuries, Mailbag | 22 Comments »

Mailbag: Hampton After 2008

Written by Colin on March 11, 2008 – 6:38 pm

Eric wrote our mailbag recently with the following question:

Since this is the last year of Hampton’s contract, what are the Braves going to do about him in the future? Are we going to let him go or re-sign him (whether its at a huge discount for lost time or whatever)?

Well Eric, I think this depends greatly on what happens this year with Hampton. Being that it’s just preseason, it’s really hard to speculate on something that will take into account primarily factors that have yet to occur. Let’s break down the options, though.

If Hampton heals from his early groin strain and is able to go on to a 12 win season, I think the Braves may re-sign him. I don’t think he’ll make anywhere near the $15 million he’s making this year, but that’d be a fine scenario in everyone’s mind. No, he won’t get another 8 year, $100+ million contract, and I don’t think he would say he deserves one. The Braves don’t sign people to those kind of contracts anyways – they just take advantage of other people who do. Maybe a $3-5 million contract if he shows he can stay healthy all season.  The odds for this aren’t good.  ESPN’s Jayson Stark wrote recently that the last pitcher 35 years or older who sat out for more than two years and came back to win more than 10 games was Schoolboy Rowe of the 1946 Phillies.  And Schoolboy was out for two years while fighting with the Navy in WWII.

The other option here is that the Braves decide they have enough young talent ready to go in Jair Jurrjens, Jo-Jo Reyes, and the other young guys to let Hampton go his own way, even if he has a successful year.

Another possibility here is that Hampton’s injuries linger all year – which is a possibility, no matter how much we don’t want to think about it being a reality. If Hampton goes on and off the DL all year long, I don’t think the Braves will have any interest in re-signing him come the off-season.

It’s not rocket science, I don’t think, Eric. If Hampton shows this year that he’s worth keeping around, the Braves may want him. If he can’t stay healthy, the Braves likely won’t re-sign him. From where I’m standing, I want Hampton healthy all season long and I hope he can come back to contribute some solid innings to the Braves.

In other Hampton news, he’ll pitch a simulated game tomorrow. This should put less strain on him than an outing in a real game. We’ll keep you updated on his condition.


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Posted in Mailbag | 2 Comments »

Mailbag: Future Rotation Options?

Written by Colin on February 29, 2008 – 8:49 am

Eric wrote the BravesBlast mailbag and asked a question about the future of the rotation.

Being that we have two old guys (Glavine and Smoltz), Mike Hampton who is heading into the last year of his contract and has serious health risks….What are the chances that our young arms like Jair, Chuck James, Morton, Reyes, etc will be able to carry our rotation of the future? Hoping that Tim Hudson will be around to hold down the 1 slot.

Great question, Eric. Our rotation may be dangerous this year and maybe even some of the guys last into next year, but your question is very valid – John Smoltz even said in November that “You can’t have a whole staff of old farts.”  So what will the rotation of the future look like?

Tim Hudson is signed at least through 2009 with an option for 2010, so we’ve got him here for another year or two, at least.  He likes it here and has been shown in the past to be open to contract extensions during the year, which is good.

Let’s break it down and look at the players and the consensus scouting reports.

Jair Jurrjens – Not only does Jurrjens come into spring training as one of the top prospects for this year’s rotation, he has promise for the future, too.  He throws strikes, keeps the ball low, and I’ve seen projections that he could be a future #2 starter.  He’s the Braves’ top pitching prospect according to multiple sources.

Jo-Jo Reyes – Jo-Jo doesn’t crack any top prospect lists, but that’s probably because he’s already played in the big leagues some last year.  It was a bit rocky, but Frank Wren remains confident in Reyes and his stuff – and scouting estimates are that his raw talent is on the same level as or slightly better than Jurrjens.  He needs a bit more development, but we’ll probably see him a bit in years to come.

Chuck James – James has been dealing with some rotator cuff issues that I think are somewhat related to his unorthodox delivery.  That said, James will likely benefit from another year making a run at the rotation (Cox seems to like him for the fifth rotation spot, if he’s healthy), as well as being around Tom Glavine – who has had very positive effects on young left-handers before.  If James has recurring health issues, there are some concerns, but he has potential to eat up innings in the future.

Julio Teheran – This kid won’t be in the big leagues for a while now, but he’s listed as the second best pitching prospect in the organization.  He has a mid-90s fastball, a high 70s late biting curve, and a nice changeup.  Three solid pitches, signed very recently as the top international pitching prospect, and a future so bright he’s probably wearing sunglasses all the time.  Oh, and he’s only 16. Read more »


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Posted in General, Mailbag | 5 Comments »

Mailbag: On Scott Thorman

Written by Colin on February 27, 2008 – 8:13 am

Lisa wrote the mailbag and asked:

I just read on mlb.com that Scott Thorman has to fight for his roster spot this year. Who could beat him for the position? I realize Teixeira would start but what about the back up?

There are a couple issues at play here, Lisa. First off, Thorman is out of options – this means that the Braves can’t send him straight to the minors. He would have to clear waivers first, where any team could claim him. But that’s only an issue if he can’t make the team straight out of spring training.

He’s certainly the leading candidate for the position, and the only candidate with big league experience. I think it’s a long-shot that he won’t take the backup role, personally, and I’ll explain why by mentioning some of the other alternatives.

Carlos Mendez – AAA Richmond, 33 years old. Played in 82 games in 2007, batted .278 with 6 HRs and 35 RBIs.

Graham Koonce – AAA Richmond, 32 years old. Played in 58 games in 2007, batted .224 with 10 HRs and 42 RBIs.

Barbaro Canizares – AAA Richmond, 27 years old. Played in 49 games in 2007, batting .344 with 3 HRs and 34 RBIs in 163 at-bats.

As you can see, none of these three guys are blowing pitchers away. You’ve also never heard of them, unless you’re from Richmond or in their extended family. That should tell you something – they’re not the biggest prospects in the Braves organization.

As our staff discussed the options today, we can’t see anyone but Thorman backing up Teixeira this year. There aren’t any better alternatives, Thorman has no options left and we doubt he’d clear waivers. Add in the fact that Thorman has some pretty decent big league experience, and we think he’s the man for the job. His qualifications beat out anyone else soundly.

Unless we want to re-sign the ageless Julio Franco.


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Posted in Mailbag | 5 Comments »

Mailbag: Glavine’s Effectiveness

Written by Colin on January 20, 2008 – 8:15 am

Kenny wrote:

Is Tom Glavine going to make a legit difference on the starting staff this year? I love Tommy, don’t get me wrong, but he looked very below average by seasons end with the Mets. I’m hoping he’s got a good year or two left, but whats everyone else’s opinion?

This is somewhat of a speculative answer, as I haven’t talked to Tommy personally and haven’t seen him pitch.  That said, I have heard Frank Wren address this question.  I’ll echo his thoughts and then add some of my own.

Read more »


Posted in Mailbag | 8 Comments »

Mailbag: Too Many Outfielders?

Written by Colin on January 17, 2008 – 8:52 am

Cheyanne wrote the Mailbag yesterday with the following question:

With the Braves acquisition of Mark Kotsay what is the chance that Willie Harris or Brandon Jones is traded to get some more relief pitching?

Well first off, Cheyanne, thanks for asking a question – you get two entries into the Kelly Johnson autographed ball contest, as do all mailbag participants. We don’t think Willie Harris has much of a chance of being traded – he was released by the Braves after the Will Ohman trade (signed by the Nationals, by the way).

However, I think your question bears some teeth here. We have a ton of outfielders. With Francoeur in right and Kotsay in center, we have one open outfield spot to platoon with Diaz in left. Read more »


Posted in Mailbag | 5 Comments »

Mailbag: Another arm in the ‘pen?

Written by Colin on January 4, 2008 – 10:20 am

Cameron wrote:

Why is there so much talk about shoring up the bullpen? To my recollection, the only turd in our pen last year was Wickman. I mean, sure, there were injuries and seemingly occasional lapses in talent, but I thought that the bullpen held up pretty well considering excess work due to the 3, 4, and 5 spots in the rotation.

Cameron, you’re right – the bullpen did pretty good last year all things considered.  That said, we’ve lost Ron Mahay, Dotel, and Ascanio – three of the arms that propelled the ‘pen to a decent finish down the stretch. Read more »


Posted in Mailbag | 3 Comments »

Mailbag: Filling the Hole in Center

Written by Colin on January 2, 2008 – 9:27 am

Katie recently wrote Mailbag and asked:

Do you think that the Braves are going to sign another CF or use one they already have (Anderson, possibly?) Pitching wise, do you think they are going to get another starter, or bullpen help?

Well Katie, this really depends on who you ask.  The AJC reported months ago that the Braves were most likely to (and they quoted Wren) trade for a veteran to fill the gap for a year or two while the prospects matured.  Now, since then we’ve acquired Josh Anderson, and he may be viewed as the answer, at least at first glance. Read more »


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