Thursday, July 20, 2006

Great, another tubby Midwestern "proven closer"

The Braves have traded single-A catcher Max Ramirez for Bob Wickman. A few thoughts:

1. This is a pretty good trade, mainly because the Braves gave up so little. Reds fans have to be scratching their heads right now how their team gave up two quality position players for bullpen help, while the Braves got bullpen help and only had to give up a single-A catcher in return. The Braves are set at catcher for the foreseeable future with Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, so even if Ramirez turns out to be Jeff Bagwell (a highly unlikely possibility), it's not really a big deal because he would have been blocked from being a major league catcher anyway.

2. That said, Wickman is not going to be a panacea. He has a decent ERA and some saves, but his numbers don't indicate that he's going to be anything close to a lights-out closer. 5.46 K/9 is not great. That said, he's allowed only one homer in 28 innings, which makes him a wee bit better than our current "closer" Jorge Sosa. He's certainly an improvement over what the Braves currently have in the pen and even if he can't close, using him in the 8th inning as a bridge to Ken Ray (or using the two of them interhangeably late in games) ought to make this team a little better. Plus, there ought to be some sort of salutary "management is doing their best for us" morale effect in the clubhouse, although the team doesn't appear to need much encouragement these days.

3. Kudos to David O'Brien for referring to Wickman as the Braves' "first established veteran closer" since John Smoltz returned to the rotation. It's good for DOB's sanity that he's completely blotted the existence of Dan Kolb out of his memory.


peacedog said...

Meh. If we're going to trade a prospect, I want someone with a little more upside than Wickman.

Ramirez was playing at LoA, and having an unremarkable season. This followed his rookie campaign where he knocked the cover off the ball. Due to his youth and shoret career, it's not easy to rate his value. Baseball American thought he was a top 20 prospect (organizationally).

As such, I don't expect to get some great young reliever for him. Honestly, though, while Wickman should be a Sosa upgrade it's sort of a meh to my eyes. Wickman could tap into the Juvination machine, but we don't have Leo any more and I think he was also a little on the voodoo side for a closer anyway.

On a related matter, I'll note that Joey Devine's struggles/injury notwithstanding, the Braves seem to believe that collegiate releivers will be providing lots of help in the future. Fellow draftee Will Startup was rocketing up the system with fantastic numbers, though I believe he was rocked a couple of times after a recent promotion.

They took a couple more this year. The Hyde kid from Tech, and the Gunderson kid from Oregon State. And I think there was one more.

Anonymous said...

Wasnt Wickman 35/40 or 45/50 last year in saves? I think he's bad this year as a reflection of their team as a whole. Seems like closers are very temperamental in that way. Its annoying how every time a closer comes in for a junk inning they give up a run. If they're not on a winning team and closing a game, they just seem to be shit.


Anonymous said...

He sucked in June. He has been outstanding in July.

Looks like he'll fit right in with the Braves.

He is a real closer with an impressive number of saves.

If the braves had won about 18 of the 21 or so games in which they blew save opportunities, they would have the best record in the league.