Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Braves Notes

1. This little nugget escaped me, but if you scroll down the page, you'll see that John Thomson is throwing again. Notice, he's throwing and not pitching, but he seemed to be the starter who would be out the longest because his injury - a torn ligament in a pitching finger - sounds worse than forearm tightness or a strained oblique, so sounds of progress are very encouraging. As I've said before, Thomson is one underrated pitcher. His return would be a major boost for the team.

2. Buster Olney, whose baseball blog is outstanding and worth the $4.95 I pay every month for ESPN Insider (the fact that ESPN the Magazine shows up in my mailbox every two weeks and gives me spare paper for tasks around the condo is another perk,) seems bullish on the Braves' chances of winning the division:

"Some predictions I wouldn't take back:

"1. The Braves winning the NL East. Right now, it looks like the Braves might actually finish out of the top stop in their division. They've been ravaged by injuries, from Mike Hampton to John Thomson to Chipper Jones, and you can't feel bad about giving the benefit of the doubt to Bobby Cox and Co."

Actually, upon reading that again, it looks like he's saying that the Braves aren't going to win the division, but he has a good excuse for picking them to win. Never mind.

3. The more I think about it, the more moving Rafael Furcal out of the lead-off spot makes sense. Right now, he has the most at-bats on the team, but he has the lowest on-base percentage of any player on the roster. Whether his shoulder is killing him or he has just forgotten how to hit, he needs to be moved down so if he continues to struggle, he'll have less of an impact.

4. When I look at the pitchers that the Marlins are throwing in this three-game series against the Braves - A.J. Burnett, Brian Moehler (and his 2.70 ERA,) and Dontrelle Willis - I am completely mystified that this team is behind the Braves in the standings. How is this possible for a team that has Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Delgado in the middle of its lineup? Is it their bullpen, which has only one reliever with over 15 innings pitched and an ERA below four? Is it Al Leiter, eating up 63 innings with a 6.39 ERA? Is it Jack McKeon making the same mistake that Bobby Cox makes with Rafael Furcal and putting the light-hitting Juan Pierre (OBP of .300) in the lead-off role so he has the most at-bats on the team? Is it Mike Lowell, who has fallen off a cliff this year? Inquiring minds want to know.

1 comment:

peacedog said...

1) No question. We need people getting healthy.

2) Probably. though I wonder if he is also saying "don't count them out either".

3) I can't stress this enough. A hitter can do two things generally: get on base (good). make an out (bad). We too often look at the positive. "A .280 average, he's doing fine". A .318 OB% on top of that tells the real story: outs in almost 70% of ABs, which is *not* good (those are hypothetical numbers, btw). It isn't tolerable for a leadoff hitter, in any case.

Drop him in the order until he gets it figured out. No offense raffy.

4. A couple of reasons:

i) the hitters possibly haven't put it together at the same time. Also, Pierre is so overrated. So what if Castillo doesn't have his speed anymore. He has a .430 OB%. How you don't hit him lead off is *criminal*. Good lord. Lowel has been a disappointment. Alex gonzalez is hitting .280 but just under .740 for his OPS. LoDuca is like 30-40 points off a career .760 OPS. Jeff Conine has 84 ABs to the tune of a .720. Castillo hasn't been healthy to boot. Too many unproductive ABs around Delgado/Cabrera (who is slumping of late).

3) Todd Jones is having an excellent season. Matt Perisho has thrown 14 strong innings. Outside of that, the bullpen hasn't been very good. I count 11 bullpen losses right now, versus *0* wins (it looks like some people have pulled double duty, I'm just looking at the guys without statrts).

Looks to me like alot of leads/ties blown, and close games where the Marlins couldn't catchup because of a bullpen falter. Alot of 4+ ERAs with 15-20+ IPs.