Everyone who reads my blog knows I hate to over load you guys with stats so I will try to keep them at a minimum for this article. Stats tend to bore people and frankly sometimes I get bored researching them. So what’s on the agenda today? Well with the recent injury of Brandon Beachy I think it would only be suitable that we discuss pitching.
The Braves rotation has been less then stellar this year with the exception of Beachy who is now headed to the D.L with an elbow issue. One would assume that he’ll miss 2-3 starts over the 2 week period. With the Braves “pitching rich” organization this should be no issue right? Lots of young arms available to plug into the rotation, so why then are Braves fans so worried?
The issue in Atlanta is that potential doesn’t always generate results. When dealing with youthful pitchers you must allow for a learning curve and the acceptance that things may not work out the way you wanted them to. This is something that fears me in regards to Frank Wren. I thought last year his move to NOT go after Carlos Beltran turned out to be a great one. Beltran was a half year rental for the Giants who missed the playoffs and lost a great pitching prospect of their own in return. All for what? Nothing really. So I applaud Wren for not pulling the trigger in that situation. By doing that he kept the young Braves arms intact and allowed for another year of development.
However now we need to reevaluate the current situation from a year a go. Brandon Beachy turned into an absolute stud. Even if his ERA went up a full run per 9 innings he’d still have a very solid 3.00era. If he could keep his era down in the 2.00’s even better because that would really establish him as a solid front of the rotation type pitcher. So Beachy was an absolute home run for the Braves assuming that he can stay healthy and on the same track.
Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Teheran still have yet to make a full break through. They’ve all shown some signs of brilliance but still haven’t been able to pitch up to the level of a Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy or Tim Hudson and here’s the thing. It’s FINE, it’s PERFECTLY FINE that they are not top of the rotation studs. Prospects are a very tricky part of sports, sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t.
And to be honest with you I think as Braves fans if we have a rotation that’s made out of 2/5 or 3/5 of our farm system pitching we should be very pleased with that because a lot of teams aren’t even that fortunate. If at the end of the day we ended up with Hanson, Beachy and either Teheran or Delgado or Minor at the back end we should pleased with that. It was not at all a failure in development.
Now if Wren thought that all these guys; Minor, Beachy, Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino would ALL become number one type starters he was living in a fantasy world. I don’t think this is the case at all, however he doesn’t want to hang onto these guys for too long if they aren’t panning out. At the end of the day baseball is like any other business and when you have assets that appear to be valuable you don’t want them to sit there until they’re worthless.
The trade deadline is quickly approaching as time to me feels like it’s going by faster and faster with each passing week. So the end of July will be here before we know it. Now the worst deal a team can make is a half year rental, especially if it involves dealing away major prospects.
The other thing the Braves should keep in mind is that they will have money to spend next season with Chipper and McCann’s contracts coming to a close. So if they were to trade for a starting pitcher that is due to be a free agent at the end of this season they would have some money set a side to lock him up if both sides could come to an agreement.
Tim Lincecum: Yes I’m talking about the 2 time Cy Young award winner and a former World Series Champion. Yes he has a 2-8 record so far this season but as you recall this article is not about stats. Is Lincecum’s problem physical? Is it mental? I’ve seen no evidence of real injury this season so I suspect that some of it could be mechanics or just that maybe he’s growing out of San Fran. It happens. Players sometimes need a change of scenery to get them turned around. Matt Cain is the apparent new ace for the Giants and that’s likely not going to sit well with Lincecum. The Giants love young pitching and the Braves have plenty of it. With the pressure of the fan base to trade Lincecum growing more intense by the day they Giants may feel the heat to try and move their former ace for a reasonable price tag. Yes, Lincecum’s stats are terrible this year but no one can tell me that the 28 year old 2 time Cy Young award winner is out of gas. He still has plenty left and may just need a new coaching staff to bring out the better side of him.
Matt Garza: Another 28 year old starter that could possibly be on the move. The Cubs are almost in total rebuilding mode at this point. Clearly their current roster just isn’t working as they are dead last and on pace to have one of the worst seasons in Cubs history. So what does the new management team of the Cubs do? It’s likely that they start trading away pieces of the current team to try and attract younger talent that can turn this thing around. Matt Garza has shown some flashes of brilliance while in Chicago and could really help the Braves down the stretch.
King Felix: Everyone assumes that King Felix will be shipped to the Yankees because well the Yankees are a team with a lot of money. However we can’t always make that assumption. Does Felix Hernandez even want to pitch in New York? Cliff Lee didn’t. And it doesn’t guarantee a championship the way that it used to. The Yankees have only won 1 World Series in the past 10 years, the Marlins can say the exact same thing. Not to mention the Braves could compile a much better package of Minor League stars then the Yankees could. At the end of the day the Mariners have to get prospects in return to try and rebuild their organization. Why not start the process with guys like Mike Minor or Julio Teheran? I would give up both of those guys for a front of the line starter like Hernandez. Yes, his stats are down slightly this year but a LOT of that has to do with lack of run support in Seattle and the frustration of being on a losing team every single year. A rotation of Felix Hernandez, Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson and Randall Delgado could almost guarantee the Braves a trip to the post season and with those guys they’d be very tough to beat in a 5 or 7 game playoff series.
Final Note: With the new playoff format it could pay off greatly to have added depth in the rotation. If the Braves were to land one of the two Wild Card spots they would be forced to use their #1 starter in a 1 game playoff. This would obviously make him unavailable to start game 1 or 2 of the N.L.D.S. If the Braves were to add a quality starter they could throw Beachy or Hudson in the one game playoff (or the newly acquired starter) and still be able to stack 3 solid starters together for the N.L.D.S. This would be a big advantage over a lot of other teams in the National League.
By: Bob McVinua