Assorted Under-The-Radar Observations

Hello again everyone! I have my iPad pointed in exactly the right direction for the WiFi to connect here by the lagoon in Hawaii, so I’m striking while the iron’s hot writing this post.

Kudos to Fred for all the fine work he’s doing while I’m away. His thoroughness does make it a challenge to find avenues to pursue to write about during the brief interludes of web access, though! Having said that, I did run across a couple of interesting things that haven’t been trampled on, such as:

  • Brooks Conrad booted a routine ground ball at second today. Can there be much doubt that this is now a mental issue? If Brooks can’t play the field, are the Braves confident enough in him to carry him as a pinch hitter only? With the bench talent they have, can they afford to?
  • The Braves are dangerously thin at shortstop. Alex Gonzalez is fast approaching the age of major decline for shortstops. He is also due for an off-year, if his past history is any indicator. The only insurance on the roster is Diory Hernandez, who candidly has very little experience and hasn’t looked terribly good when he has played. Can the Braves survive another black hole in the lineup? Should Wren act now or wait until disaster strikes?
  • Looking out into the not-too-distant future, the Braves may have a critical decision coming up at catcher. Christian Bethancourt is thought to be the Braves future at the position, and is reputed to have the skill set to be an impact All-Star. Watch for him to put up big numbers this year. If he does, do the Braves follow their recent pattern and say bye to McCann as a free agent?

    What do you think? Aloha for now!

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    Tags: Alex Gonzalez Atlanta Braves Braves Brian Mccann Brooks Conrad Christian Bethancourt

    • Fred Owens

      Conrad’s boot wasn’t a clanger, he lost the ball making the exchange trying to get a DP. It was highlighted because it was Brooks. Having said that I don;t trust him under pressure.
      I suspect Gonzales will spend some time of the DL with his knee. I hope Wren will try to get Reyes – even as a rental – because the Mets currently can;t afford to resign him even with MLB slipping them 25 million.
      Mccan is ours until he’s thirty. He will vest and unless there’s an injury he will he will continue to perform at a high level. On the open market in 12 he will have many suitors. Bethancourt is at least that far away. Ahead of him is Jesus Sucre. Sucre is a + defender/catch and throw guy who throws out 40% of runners. As a hitter he doesn’t walk and has never been a + hitter. he may get some time this year if there’s an injury and should be at Gwinette most of the year.
      For all the talk of the minor league system being so good we have serious holes in critical positions like short,catcher and the outfield. We need the latter two holes filled now but Wren is off signing worn out pitchers

      • Bob Horton

        Hey Fred,


        I saw the Conrad boot written up in a couple of places as a routine grounder with no other info. Thanks for clarifying. I think the Braves only keep him for a PH.

        I think this is the year that Bethancourt has to put up or shut up. If he does, he is the catcher of the future IMO. I would love for the Braves to keep McCann until he’s at least 33, maybe longer if he stays in shape. If they do so, though, it will require them to pay market value, which they are not prone to do. I guess we’ll see. If they view Bethancourt as the future (since they don’t view any other catching prospect that way), they make think it’s safe to let Brian walk.

        As to Reyes, sign me up, I’m on board. I am getting more and more concerned with SS.


    • Fred Owens

      You’re really expecting a lot from this kid. The scouting report from last September is closer to my three year projection that your put up this year or else. First and most important, he’s 18. The scouting report said:
      “At 18, Bethancourt is likely to repeat the “Sally” in 2011 to continue working on his offense and receiving skills. However, Bethancourt’s arm is big league ready and could quickly become the stuff of legend. . . . .Currently, I suspect immaturity and work ethic are holding him back a bit and he’s relying solely on athletic ability. At 18, Bethancourt is playing full season baseball as a big bonus international free agent when most American baseball players are seniors in high school. I think it’s important to understand Bethancourt is still a teenager and may have some growing pains as he adjusts and matures. . . While Christian Bethancourt is a boom or bust prospect behind the plate, his floor is higher than most “toolsheds” due to the possibility of his being moved to the mound should catching not work out. In 2011, Bethancourt will likely spend at least half the season back in Rome to continue his development. He is years away from Atlanta, but his ceiling is that of an All-Star catcher. However, Bethancourt has, and will continue to draw mixed reviews from scouts and is ending the season as one of the most polarizing prospects in the league.”

      Reyes is my dream signing for the year. He makes up for the lack of range we face at short and third, provides us a leadoff hitter who can actually get on base and give pitchers fits and occasionally hits for power. In front of Prado, Chipper, Uggla, McCann and Heyward, we’d be a run scoring machine and better defensively. All that means Wren will try to trade for Oliver Perez because we never have enough pitching… :-(