Tagged: Braves

Wren’s Difficult Decision

Just 11 days away from the July 31st trade deadline and the Braves are without a doubt trying to make some sort of splash. The debate of whether to get an outfield bat or a starting pitcher is probably swirling around the mind of Frank Wren from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to bed. The issue is there is not a clear cut answer to this debate.

When you look at the stats neither the offense or pitching of the Braves jumps out at you as a major clear cut strength. I’ve broken down what I consider to be 5 of the most important offensive stats and 5 of the most important pitching stats and still could not conclude anything.

Offensive Rankings:

Team Batting Average: 15th best

Runs Scored: 10th best

Total Hits: 16th best

Home Runs: 15th best

On Base Percentage: 12th best

Pitching Rankings:

Team ERA: 14th best

Runs Allowed: 12th best

Batting Average Against: 14th best

Whip: 17th best

Strike Outs: 14th best
So as you can see the stats show a middle of the pack offense and basically a middle of the road pitching staff. So which one would you build upon if you were Frank Wren?

If you want my opinion I’d have to go with pitching. Why? Baseball is a game based upon offensive FAILURE. A good hitter makes an out 700/1000 times. A 30% success rates. And that’s a hitter who is performing at a reasonably high level.

A pitcher on the other hand gets the other side of success. Even facing a good hitter he’s going to be successful in getting him out 700/1000 at bats. For a 70% success rate.

As the weather cools off so do the bats of most major league teams. A lot of play off games played in the cool October air are low scoring affairs that requite good pitching to be successful. The last thing you want to have happen is that you go into a playoff series with a staff that can’t put up enough zero’s. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your offense to score runs, which only causes them to press more then they normally would.

I think the Braves need to add another quality starter and further deepen this rotation. The old saying is “pitching wins championships” and I think Wren should follow that advice.
Who would you guys like to see the Braves make a trade for? Are you in favor of a trade for a pitcher or would you rather see a productive bat come to town and aid the sometimes struggling Braves offense?
By: Bob McVinua

 

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Braves Can Become Instant World Series Contenders With This Move

The Braves have been hanging around in the N.L East all season long. They’ve never been able to run away with a big division lead and they have never fallen so far off the pace that people felt they were out of it. To me this shows that the team is on the brink of some real success.

So with that being said let’s examine the trade dead line that is now less then a month away. Frank Wren needs to make THIS move. He needs to bring Zack Greinke to Atlanta. This move actually has the potential to suit both sides very well and I believe the Braves can pull this off.

Why Zack Greinke?

Well let’s start with the stats. He’s 8-2 with a 2.81 era. This guy can be a legit ace on most staffs in baseball and the Braves are no exception. Bringing in a guy like Zack Greinke can change the entire face of your rotation. Tim Hudson can become the #2, Hanson #3 and Jurrjens #4. When you knock each guy down a peg it only glorifies them and takes pressure of them each time they take the mound.

Hudson would no longer have to be the “soul” ace of this staff and he could settle into a #2 role knowing now that he can go out and pitch without any added pressure. Hanson bumps down to #3 which makes him a very good middle of the rotation pitcher. And Jurrjens can settle into the 4th spot with the 5th once being open to the best available option at the time which is basically true of most #5’s in any rotation.

The Braves certainly do not want to “rent” Zack Greinke and I firmly stand behind them on that. The Giants gave up a top pitching prospect to “rent” and injured Carlos Beltran for the last 2 months of that season. The team didn’t make the playoffs and it proved to be a horrible trade. The Braves should have more then enough money to lock down Greinke for a long term deal. They got Derek Lowe’s contract off the books and Chipper’s sadly will be next. Still it leaves the team with some financial flexibility.

The National League lacks a “dominant” team. In years past the Phillies have jumped out as a clear cut favorite to come out of the National League. Granted they often failed to meet expectations, the perception was still there. This year I don’t see a team in the N.L that we couldn’t beat. However to experience true success in the post season you need an ace and I believe Zack Greinke could be that guy.

Now for the technicalities

How would this deal get done? And how would Greinke feel about being a Brave?

The Brewers have made mention that they would really like to receive a Short Stop in any deal for Greinke. With Simmons just being called up and appearing to be able to fill the Short Stop roll in a full time fashion for years to come, we now can make Tyler Pastornicky available. Tyler struggled in his brief stint in the Majors but at the same time he is big league ready. He’s not a 2 or 3 year minor league project. He could step in and fill a void for a team. He is also capable of playing 2nd base which gives him a little versatility.

To sweeten the deal the Braves could throw in Mike Minor or Randall Delgado. This would give the Brewers a strong pitching prospect that again would be big league ready and a short stop.

The Brewers are at a critical point in their franchise. They owed it to themselves to see how they could perform without Prince Fielder. And unfortunately thus far it hasn’t worked out. They’re sitting in 4th place in the N.L Central barely a head of 2 of the worst teams in baseball, the Cubs and Astros. They’re well below .500 and don’t appear to be a legit contender in that division in any way. Is this an opportunity for them to gather some rebuilding blocks in exchange for their ace pitcher? Again the players they’d be getting from Atlanta would be big league ready and could join Braun and the major league team right away.

Other Notes

Zack Greinke suffers from social anxiety. Playing in a big league market like New York, Boston or even Texas could prove to be too much for him. Where as Atlanta could provide him with a perfect balance. A winning organization without the crazy media circus that surrounds other cities. I think playing for the Braves would fit perfectly for him.

Another point of interest is that Zack Greinke grew up a fan of the Braves. That may score us some bonus points in terms of him wanting to come to Atlanta and sign a long term deal.

 

By: Bob McVinua

Are The Braves Staring At “Would Have” “Could Have” “Should Have” In Their Rotation?

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

 

Where Has The Last Decade Gone?

With the recent struggles of this Atlanta Braves team I have heard all kinds of explanations as to why it’s happening. Some people are saying it’s just a bad week and it’s nothing to worry about. Others are more concerned and saying that there’s something fundamentally wrong with this team. Some blame the pitching others claim we’re not hitting well enough with runners in scoring position and of course the always popular blame Fredi explanation. Which I will touch on in this article because I feel that’s actually not a bad explanation as to what’s happening in Atlanta.

I have many great memories of being a fan of this ball club. 14 straight division titles, one world series championship and getting to see some of the best pitchers of my generation all in a Braves uniform. However one thing that has always haunted Braves fans, especially of this generation is the lack of post season success. In fact it’s been a full decade since this Braves organization has one a playoff series.

As many of you remember the last time we won a playoff series was in 2001 when we swept the Houston Astros in the Divisional Round. We would then go on to lose 4-1 to the eventual World Series Champion D-Backs. Each of the following years of the playoff run, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 all resulted in quick 1st round exits.

So for fun I’ve tried to figure out what the differences were between say last years team or teams of the past few years and that very successful 2001 team. Now you can say that the 2001 Braves were not that great but they were good enough to reach the National League Championship Series which I’m sure we would ALL take right about now.

1) Runs Batted In:

The Atlanta Braves haven’t had a player drive in 100 runs since 2007! Yes the past 4 seasons we’ve been without a 100rbi bat in the middle of our order. So that’s where I will start the comparisons there. Yes, Uggla can hit home runs and he hit 36 of them last year which is very impressive. But he didn’t drive in nearly enough runs for an impact middle of the order hitter. If we are going to put Uggla in there simply for his power which I’m completely 100% fine with, he needs to be surrounded by RBI type players.

2001 Atlanta Braves Top 3 Run Producers-

1) Andruw Jones: 104 RBI   2) Chipper Jones 102 RBI   3) Brian Jordan 97 RBI

2011 Atlanta Braves Top 3 Run Producers-

1) Dan Uggla 82 RBI   2) Freddie Freeman 76 RBI   3) Brian McCann 71 RBI

Now I’m not trying to pick on last years Braves club. That’s not the purpose of this. However that team is obviously the most similar to what we have now so it’s the best pin point I can use for comparison purposes. As you can see that’s a HUGE difference in run production.

That’s 303 runs for the middle of the order driven in during the 2001 season vs just 229 runs driven in for the middle of the order last year.  What’s the argument here? It’s more of a point of interest. Yes the Braves line up is very deep BUT would they be better served to lose 2 players in that line up in exchange for true run producers? Is that type of move what could change the fortunes for this club?

1) Where are the starters in the 7th inning? Forget the 8th or 9th

The 2001 Atlanta Braves got 200+ innings from three different starters. The reason this is important is obviously it deters wear and tear on your bullpen and also shows that you can count on your starters to lead you to victories.

Greg Maddux 233 innings, Tom Glavine 219 innings and John Burkett 219 innings.

Now if you compare that to the top 3 innings eaters of 2011 you’ll see quite a big difference

Tim Hudson 215 innings, Derek Lowe 187 innings and Jair Jurrjens 152 innings.

Yes, there were injuries that really prevented Jurrjens or Hanson from getting any where near that 200 innings. However the facts are still the facts. We only had 1 pitcher get over 200 innings vs the 3 we had in 2001. Even this year there is still some difficulty for these starters to get into the 7th or 8th inning which as a ball club you occasionally need.

3) Over worked bullpen leading to Sept collapse:

Now the previous facts will lead into the next statement. Yes, the bullpen needs regular work to stay sharp. That point I will never argue. But most of us could argue that 40 hours a week is enough at our jobs to “stay sharp”, we really don’t need a 60 hour work week to get our juices going. Do we sometimes need to do it? Of course. However it’s not optimal if it can be avoided.

Braves Bullpen 2001; Top 4 in Appearances-

Mike Remlinger 74 appearances, Jose Cabrera 55 games, Kerry Lightenberg 53 games and Steve Karsay 43 games

Now if you compare that to the innings worked by the 2011 Braves bullpen you’ll notice a startling difference.

Johnny Venters 85 appearances, Craig Kimbrel 79 games, Eric O’Flaherty 78 games and Scott Linebrink 64 games

That’s 306 innings vs 225 innings. Again we’re talking about MAJOR differences here. That’s equal to NINE FULL GAMES worth of extra bullpen innings. Venters, Kimbrel and O’Flaherty were each going out there on an average of EVERY OTHER day due to the amount of close games that we were forced to play due to lack of offense and the starters inability to go deep into games.
Right now the Braves are still 4th in MLB in runs scored and they are still currently 22nd in runs allowed. So as far as stats go the blame needs to go on the pitching staff and not the offense. Could we score more runs? Of course, every team would like to score more runs. But to say we’re out scoring 26 other teams in baseball, we really don’t have a ton of room to complain.

I still think this team needs to focus on key hits in big situations. Moving guys over and getting them in. If this Braves team is going to win the division this year I will have to say that we will need at least one batter to reach the 100 rbi milestone and have at least 2 other batters close to 90. So the middle of our order has their work cut out for them.

By: Bob McVinua

 

 

Could An Old Foe Be The Answer For The Braves?

There’s no question that the Braves have a lot of  talented arms in their organization. And most of those guys have enormous amounts of potential. Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran are all possible top of the rotation guys down the road. However at this very moment the only one who’s getting the job done at the big league level is Brandon Beachy. So although the rest of these guys have lots of potential, it’s not translating into a lot of quality starts right now.

This Braves team is very close to having a championship quality roster. They already have the 4th best offense in baseball so if the pitching staff can just pick it up a little bit then I believe this team can be very dangerous. So what’s the solution to the pitching dilemma? I think it may be Roy Oswalt.

Roy Oswalt is currently a free agent and available to be signed by any Major League team. He’s still a few weeks off from being ready but it’s still something we might want to be thinking about now.

Right now Roy Oswalt is 34 years old. He’ll be 35 in August. But to me his age doesn’t really mean a whole lot if you’re the Atlanta Braves. He’s still in his mid 30’s, he’s not 40 and with Derek Lowe gone the Braves could use another veteran presence in the rotation to compliment Tim Hudson.

Last year Oswalt went 9-10 with a 3.69era. Not great but solid. Although it was limited starts, in 2010 he went 7-1 with a 1.74era. So he is not that far removed from absolute brilliance. Can you imagine if the Braves plugged him into the rotation and he put up those types of numbers?

Oswalt’s career era is 3.21. He has made several post season starts which would be extremely valuable to the Braves as they certainly lack that valuable experience in October. Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Randall Delgado have combined for 1 post season start. So no matter where we turn there is going to be a lack of experience the second that Tim Hudson isn’t on the mound.

You of course have to consider the price. The price certainly needs to be right on a guy who is 34 going on 35 that is coming off an injury. But at the same time the Braves don’t need Oswalt to be a 1, 2 or really even a 3rd starter. Hudson, Beachy and Hanson fill out those roles nicely. We would just need him to comfortably fill the 4th or 5th spot in the rotation and hope that he can give us even more then we bargained for.

The Braves are World Series contender if they can get this pitching situation straightened out. An effective Roy Oswalt combined with a healthy Tim Hudson and young starters Beachy and Hanson could form an extremely dangerous rotation come October. One that mixes experience, youth and talent.

By: Bob McVinua

 

 

Jurrjens Showing Improvement In AAA

When you’re 0-2 and your ERA is over 9.00 you really can’t expect people to think too highly of you. This was exactly the case with Braves starter Jair Jurrjens.

Since being demoted down to AAA he has shown signs of improvement. He’s currently 1-0 with a 1.80era and had a very impressive outing on Sunday where he went 8 strong innings allowing only 2 runs on 95 pitches. You can’t beat that. He went deep into the game, kept his pitch count low and showed excellent control as he only walked one batter.

Are AAA hitters the same quality as Major League hitters? Of course not. If they were then they wouldn’t be in the minors. However we need to take it as a good sign. Some of the guys he faced over the weekend could be a year or two removed from the big leagues and he dominated them.

There’s a few points I’d really like to make on Jair Jurrjens, one’s that will highlight the purpose of this article. The first one being this. Jair Jurrjens is NOT a veteran starter. Maybe in Atlanta he’s considered a veteran because he’s on a staff where everyone else besides Hudson is younger then him but in reality he’s still a fairly young pitcher. In my opinion no pitcher under the age of 30 is considered a veteran and in some cases I think this could stretch up to as high as 31 or 32. Jurrjens is currently 26 years old and if he bounces back quickly from this down turn in his career he could easily have another 8-10 seasons left in him and I’ll explain why.

Velocity. Velocity. Velocity. That’s all we hear about with today’s young pitchers. Strausberg throws 98mph. Chapman can hit 105mph. That’s great. You can dominate hitters with an over powering fastball without question. And that’s why it’s the number one pitch for most pitchers. However when was the last time you saw Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux throwing 98? You never did. They were pitchers who could pitch. They threw the right pitches at the right time and located them perfectly.

Am I comparing Jair Jurrjens to future hall of fame pitchers? No. But I am however going to compare their styles of pitching. Velocity is down this year for Jurrjens. He’s throwing the ball in the low 90’s on a good day. He can’t blow that ball past big league hitters. If he leaves his fast ball up in the zone it’s going to land on top of someone’s car in the parking lot. He also has a change up and a slider that almost appears to be a “slurve” type pitch. Jurrjens relies on movement and location just like the two pitchers mentioned above. So can Jurrjens regain his composure and experience success at the big league level? Absolutely.

Jurrjens needs to get back to the basics. He needs to pitch to contact and not try and strike guys out. Pitching to contact will allow him to keep his pitch count down and go deeper into games which is exactly the kind of starter the Braves need right now. Would you rather have a guy on the mound who goes 5 innings throwing 98 or a guy who throws 90 and can get through 7 or 8 innings on a regular basis?

In tune with the pitching to contact Jurrjens needs to get more ground balls. When he first came up in the Majors he was getting a very high percentage of ground ball outs. However as the years have passed his ground ball to fly ball ratio has flip flopped. Up until getting sent to the Minors Jurrjens was getting about 60% of his outs via the fly ball, which was creating some issues. When the ball is continuously hit in the air there is a constant threat of home runs and extra base hits. When a pitcher keeps the ball on the ground he forces the opposing team to string several hits together just to push across a single run not to mention the ground ball can be a pitchers best friend as it creates the vast majority of double plays.

In 2009 Jurrjens went 14-10 with a 2.60era. In 2011 despite missing time at the end of the season he still managed to post a 13-6 record with a 2.96era. He has shown flashes of brilliance. Yes that’s a small sample size but it still can’t be completely over looked. The other thing to consider is that you need 5 guys to complete your rotation.

Currently Mike Minor is 2-2 with a 5.97era which isn’t exactly stellar and Randall Delgado is 2-2 with a 5.14era which again isn’t exactly top notch. No two starts isn’t enough to prove Jurrjens worthy of returning to the majors but you have to believe he’s well on his way, especially if the two above mentioned starters continue to struggle.

Jurrjens needs to trust his body and his instincts. He needs to locate his fast ball and chose his pitches wisely. He needs to get more ground balls in comparison to fly balls. If he can do these things then I suspect he’ll be a very good starter for the Braves as the summer months loom.

By: Bob McVinua

Braves Having Difficulty Finding Balance

In today’s game so much emphasis is put on offense. Fans want to see their teams putting up crooked numbers on the score board as often as possible. Braves fans experienced a major offensive drought to end the 2011 season which lead to what was one of the worst collapses in Major League Baseball history. Time after time the Braves just couldn’t score runs and it made it nearly impossible to win games.

This year seems to be a much different story. Sure there’s been a few games here and there where the team has struggled to find offense but over all we have very little to complain about. The Braves have been one of the more impressive offensive teams this season as you can see where they rank in the following categories.

RUNS: 142 (1st in MLB)

HITS: 250 (3rd in MLB)

HR: 29 (8th in MLB)

RBI: 137 (1st in MLB)

SB: 21 (6th in MLB)

AVG: .267 (5th in MLB)

OBP: .329 (10th in MLB)

SLG: .418 (9th in MLB)

As you can see the Braves rank in the top 10 in pretty much every offensive category. That’s very impressive if you ask me. To be in the top 10 in both HR and SB. To be in the top 10 in AVG and SLG. They have all bases covered with a very balanced offensive attacked.

However on the other side of the ball, the pitching staff hasn’t been quite as impressive. As you can see where they rank in some of the more important pitching stats.

ERA: 4.33 (23rd in MLB)

HITS: 253 (29th in MLB)

AVG: .275 (27th in MLB)

WHIP: 1.41 (25th in MLB)

RUNS: 124 (24th in MLB)

So as you can the Braves rank in the bottom 3rd of the league in 5 of the most important pitching stats. Is this cause for concern? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s only May 5th so the pitchers have plenty of time to settle down and get into a grove but right now it appears that it’s the offense that’s carrying this team, not the pitching. A much different story from what we experienced last year.

Below are the current stats for each member of the Braves current rotation and also the stats posted by Jair Jurrjens

Beachy: 2-1 with a 1.38era

Delgado: 2-3 with a 5.14era

Jurrjens: 0-2 with a 9.37era

Hanson: 3-2 with a 3.74era

Hudson: 1-0 with a 6.55era

Minor: 2-2 with a 4.68era

Right now you would have to label Beachy the unofficial “ace” of this staff. With Hudson still coming back from a back injury and Hanson still trying to settle in. Minor has shown flashes of brilliance but has yet to put it together for a string of consecutive starts. Jurrjens struggled so badly that he had to be moved down to AAA where he appears to be getting back on track. Delgado is shaky at best with his 5.14era but every start he puts under his belt should lead to him getting a little bit better.

Now this staff could transform into an elite staff very quickly. Don’t get me wrong. However if the numbers continue to stay in this neighborhood for each starter then you would have to think that Frank Wren will consider making a move at the deadline. All off season we wanted to see a move for a bat and I was no exception. But with the offense ranking in the top 10 in all major offensive categories you have to think that they will be alright going forward, especially with the depth that the line up possesses.

Adding another veteran arm to the rotation could be a good idea. Derek Lowe gave us that presence during the 2010 season where he basically carried the pitching staff for the entire month of Sept. Unfortunately Lowe completely fell apart on us last year and we had to part ways with him but would an experienced arm in the rotation benefit our playoff chances?

Here are some guys we could consider going after. Now keep in mind that Frank Wren won’t likely sell the farm for an elite ace and we won’t be able to obtain a pitcher from another team in the thick of a playoff race unless we give them players who will be of immediate benefit which I also see as an unlikely scenario.

Eric Bedard:

A 33 year old starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently pitching to the tune of a 2-4 record but don’t let that deceive you. Bedard has posted an impressive 2.65era thus far and has been the victim of poor run support. His walk to strikeout ratio is also pretty impressive as he’s struck out 37 and has only walked 14. It’s unlikely that the Pirates will be in the playoffs race come July as I expect the Cardinals to pull way out in front by that point. So it’s possible he could be available. He’s also a lefty which would give us a 2nd left hander to compliment Mike Minor.

Ryan Dempster:

I’m staying in the N.L Central as I zoom in on the “ace” of the Chicago Cubs. Dempster is 35 years old so he certainly brings a veteran presence to the mound. He’s 0-1 thus far but like Bedard has been a victim of poor run support. A guy who has posted a 0.95era should have at least one win but that’s just my opinion. This is another guy with an impressive walk/strikeout ratio at 29-9. The Cubs have struggled thus far and I don’t see them having that big of a turn around over the next few months. Would they be willing to trade Dempster for a couple of prospects?

Brandon McCarthy:

Switching over to the A.L now, this is another pitcher that I think could help bolster our rotation down the stretch. McCarthy will turn 29 in July just a few weeks before the trade deadline so he certainly has a better age angle then the other two pitchers I’ve mentioned. McCarthy is 2-3 but still holds an impressive ERA of 2.96. The A’s offense isn’t exactly explosive so he’s isn’t the beneficiary of outstanding run support by any means. Texas appears to be the clear cut favorite to win the A.L West and I doubt the A’s have enough to compete for one of those 2 Wild Card Spots. They have unloaded guys such as Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez for prospects to attempt to rebuild so McCarthy might be the next to go.

Let me know of some other names that you guys think could be of interest to Frank Wren and the Braves. I’d love to hear some feedback.

 

By: Bob McVinua