Under The Radar — Braves Sightings July 21, 2011

Hello again everyone from that midwestern hotspot, southeast Michigan, we’re the weather is doing its best to keep up with heatwave. It’s only supposed to hit 100 today, with a heat index ten degrees north of that. The last time I remember it being this hot up here Sparky Anderson was still managing the Tigers and Doyle Alexander was about to be a tremendous late season acquistion for them. And it only cost them some unheard of prospect named John Smoltz. Man, that was a long time ago :) .

As you keep yourself out of the heat in your neck of the woods, I thought I’d pass along a few tidbits of info that aren’t being widely hyped during this rumor monger’s delight period leading up to the trade deadline.

  • The Braves are missing Chipper’s defense at third base. I know this is an easy time to pick on Martin Prado after his error last night led to the winning run scoring in the bottom of the ninth, but this is actually something I’d noticed ever since Chipper’s surgery. Prado has missed several attempts to make Chipper’s patented barehand grab charging the ball play. But of more significance to me, he’s also fallen into a habbit of giving ground on hard hit balls or high choppers, playing them off to the side and letting them take an extra bounce. Either of these actions are dangerous; do both and you’re playing with fire, as was the case last night. I know Chipper’s not known for his defense, but I think right now Prado plays better defense either at second base or in left field. I think Chipper’s return will bring dividends both offensively and defensively.

  • I think there is one critical reason why the Braves aren’t likely to trade Derek Lowe mid-season. The reason is pretty simple and pretty old-school: You don’t want to have two rookie starters on a team that’s likely headed to the post-season. THe logic goes that you can’t know what to expect in a pennant race and the post-season that follows until you’ve been there. You also can’t predict how someone will respond to the situation until you’ve seen them respond. Finally, you can “hide” one rookie in the playoffs, but if you have two rookie starting pitchers, you can’t hide them both. When you combine this with Lowe’s playoff reputation, I think that means that it would take an awfully strong offer to pry him loose. I think this will translate to Lowe remaining with the team until the World Series is over.

  • Brandon Beachy does remind me of Tom Glavine. I’m sure you’ve heard lots of people say this. After all, he is a promising youngster and he’s a starting ptcher for the Braves, which has brought out the Glavine comparisons. To me, though, there are a lot of things different about his pitching, foremost being that he throws a lot harder than Glavine did, at least on most days. Having watched him pitched a lot lately, though, I have noticed one thing that makes me think of Glavine. Beachy is the most stoic pitcher I’ve seen anywhere since Glavine. He never seems to react, no matter what happens. It’s impossible to know what’s going on inside his head, but externally he’s unflappable. To me, that’s a mitigating factor in the Braves’ concerns about rookie starting pitching. He doesn’t act like a rookie, even when things are going poorly, like in his last start versus the Rockies.
  • Speaking of Beachy, did you notice his velocity against the Rockies? Beachy’s normal velocity this season has been 93-94 consistently. Against Colorado he struggled to hit 92, sitting at 90-91 most of the time. While I don’t think the loss in velocity directly caused his problems, I do think that it’s a good indicator that he’s having problems with his mechanics. And it wasn’t the radar gun, as the other pitchers in the game had normal to higher than normal velocities. Keep an eye out for this in his next outing. If it doesn’t pick back up, I think this could portend more problems.
  • Alex Gonzalez is lost at the plate. I was actually going to write an article on how bad he’s struggled, but David O’Brien at the AJC.com beat me to it; check out the numbers that David pulled together here. While Fredi Gonzalez has given him a vote of confidence, I wonder how bad his offense will be allowed to get before the Braves have to do something. The problem is that the Braves don’t really have a great option internally, at least not yet. Fred Owens wrote yesterday about Tyler Pastornicky, who appears to be the best internal candidate in the system, but he only put up an OPS in the range of .750 in AA ball, and while speedy, he was only successful about 70% of the time against pitchers and catchers who are not at big league levels. I think he’s still a year away. In my opinion, this team would be a perfect fit for Jose Reyes. He would address so many issues. Imagine having him and a resurgent Jordan Schafer at the top of this lineup after Chipper returns! That’s something I’d trade top-level prospect talent to get.

    Got to run. That’s my take on things; what’s yours?

Topics: Alex Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves, Brandon Beachy, Braves, Chipper Jones, Derek Lowe, Frank Wren, Fredi Gonzalez, Martin Prado

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  • MikeJolly

    I agree on all points.

    I love Prado but miss Chipper at 3rd. He doesnt have the range he used to, but his defense is actually better this year than the past few years. He just knows how to make the important plays.

    I think the best scenario is to trade Lowe in the off season. Hopefully his stock will be up due to late season play and only having one year left will make him much more trade-able. Plus we get to start the season with Minor or Teheran and not throw them in during a playoff chase.

    Love Beachy and definitely see the Glavine resemblance. Such composure.

    AAgon is a complete liability at the plate. He kills rallies and has a poor showing at the plate almost every appearance. Reyes would be cool if we could extend him, but the Mets arent letting him go. I wouldnt mind making a solid offer for him in the off season if we trade Lowe. Though I would be weary of his attitude, performance, and health after he gets his big deal.

    Imagine the off season…

    If Lowe gets traded (and we dont have to eat any) $15 mill

    KKK $8 mill

    Nate $6.5 mill (I think)

    AAgon $2.5 mill (I think)

    I know we will have some increases in salaries and arbitration, but even after that we should have some dough to maybe sign JJ or Hanson long term and pick up someone significant like a SS or a CF or both.

  • BobHorton

    And imagine all that happening as World Series Champions, Mike! Liberty might even let them increase the budget a little :-) .

    Bob

  • MikeJolly

    I agree on all points.

    I love Prado but miss Chipper at 3rd. He doesnt have the range he used to, but his defense is actually better this year than the past few years. He just knows how to make the important plays.

    I think the best scenario is to trade Lowe in the off season. Hopefully his stock will be up due to late season play and only having one year left will make him much more trade-able. Plus we get to start the season with Minor or Teheran and not throw them in during a playoff chase.

    Love Beachy and definitely see the Glavine resemblance. Such composure.

    AAgon is a complete liability at the plate. He kills rallies and has a poor showing at the plate almost every appearance. Reyes would be cool if we could extend him, but the Mets arent letting him go. I wouldnt mind making a solid offer for him in the off season if we trade Lowe. Though I would be weary of his attitude, performance, and health after he gets his big deal.

    Imagine the off season…

    If Lowe gets traded (and we dont have to eat any) $15 mill

    KKK $8 mill

    Nate $6.5 mill (I think)

    AAgon $2.5 mill (I think)

    I know we will have some increases in salaries and arbitration, but even after that we should have some dough to maybe sign JJ or Hanson long term and pick up someone significant like a SS or a CF or both.

  • FredOwens

    Watching Martin play third since he returned is painful. I never thought he would be a great third baseman which was why I suggested we make an off season play for Wright or Headly. This week’s play confirms he needs lots of work. Chipper would have made both the play last night to end the game and the barehanded plays you mentioned. Perhaps winter ball at third base this year for Martin. BTW David O’Brien thinks Chipper plays next year: I don’t.

    When Glavine was young he threw harder. We watched him gradually slow over the years but like Maddux as a rookie he was close to Beachy.

    Pastornicky’s other problem is errors. I didn’t go into it because I to keep it short but he has 12 errors already this year and has always had a problem with the glove. I really wonder if they’re converting the wrong shortstop (Lipka) to a new position. Seems to me Pastornicky would work in CF but I have no data to back that up other than his subpar work at SS.

    Reyes is a non-factor. Like Mike said, he’s going nowhere. I do think there’s a Jason Bartlett or Reed Brignac trade to be had if they want it. Maybe not but I suspect the Padres would trade almost anything not in their long term plans

    I would only trade Lowe if the return was really really good and that’s what i think Wren feels as well. Texas is best for us and them. Money won’t solve this now only wise small moves; not Beltran and I still don’t think Pence moves; price too high.

    As to Gomes who is playing so badly the Reds can’t use him; a Wren like move based on Ankiel and Farnsworth but no thanks.

  • BobHorton

    And imagine all that happening as World Series Champions, Mike! Liberty might even let them increase the budget a little :-) .

    Bob

  • FredOwens

    Watching Martin play third since he returned is painful. I never thought he would be a great third baseman which was why I suggested we make an off season play for Wright or Headly. This week’s play confirms he needs lots of work. Chipper would have made both the play last night to end the game and the barehanded plays you mentioned. Perhaps winter ball at third base this year for Martin. BTW David O’Brien thinks Chipper plays next year: I don’t.

    When Glavine was young he threw harder. We watched him gradually slow over the years but like Maddux as a rookie he was close to Beachy.

    Pastornicky’s other problem is errors. I didn’t go into it because I to keep it short but he has 12 errors already this year and has always had a problem with the glove. I really wonder if they’re converting the wrong shortstop (Lipka) to a new position. Seems to me Pastornicky would work in CF but I have no data to back that up other than his subpar work at SS.

    Reyes is a non-factor. Like Mike said, he’s going nowhere. I do think there’s a Jason Bartlett or Reed Brignac trade to be had if they want it. Maybe not but I suspect the Padres would trade almost anything not in their long term plans

    I would only trade Lowe if the return was really really good and that’s what i think Wren feels as well. Texas is best for us and them. Money won’t solve this now only wise small moves; not Beltran and I still don’t think Pence moves; price too high.

    As to Gomes who is playing so badly the Reds can’t use him; a Wren like move based on Ankiel and Farnsworth but no thanks.

  • MikeJolly

    @BobHorton I wont hold my breath if liberty increasing the payroll. They would probably just pat Wren and co. on the back and say “oh by the way, we are going to be trimming 10 mil from the payroll. The CEO needs another yacht”.

  • MikeJolly

    @BobHorton I wont hold my breath if liberty increasing the payroll. They would probably just pat Wren and co. on the back and say “oh by the way, we are going to be trimming 10 mil from the payroll. The CEO needs another yacht”.

  • BobHorton

    Hey Fred,

    Your comment on Glavine’s velocity is interesting. I have an old VHS from one season in the 1993-95 range (I forget which year exactly). THe announcers are discussing Glavine’s increased velocity that year and specualting 1) Why it increased and 2) If it was actually hurting him. That night the gun had hit at 90-91 consistently, hitting 92 a couple of times. I think that was pretty near the top of the range for Tommy. Much higher than later years, but I don’t remember him ever throwing much harder than that (of course, they say memory is the second thing to go…).

    I agree that Reyes is likely a non-issue. It’s fun to dream, though.

    Bob

  • BobHorton

    @MikeJolly Yeah, holding your breath just makes your face turn blue; not an appealing look :).

    Bob

  • FredOwens

    I remembered him around 91-92 for a couple of seasons which isn’t 94 but is higher than most remember him. Tommy is smaller as well. But yea 91-2 was it

  • BobHorton

    Hey Fred,

    Your comment on Glavine’s velocity is interesting. I have an old VHS from one season in the 1993-95 range (I forget which year exactly). THe announcers are discussing Glavine’s increased velocity that year and specualting 1) Why it increased and 2) If it was actually hurting him. That night the gun had hit at 90-91 consistently, hitting 92 a couple of times. I think that was pretty near the top of the range for Tommy. Much higher than later years, but I don’t remember him ever throwing much harder than that (of course, they say memory is the second thing to go…).

    I agree that Reyes is likely a non-issue. It’s fun to dream, though.

    Bob

  • BobHorton

    @MikeJolly Yeah, holding your breath just makes your face turn blue; not an appealing look :).

    Bob

  • FredOwens

    I remembered him around 91-92 for a couple of seasons which isn’t 94 but is higher than most remember him. Tommy is smaller as well. But yea 91-2 was it

  • ClydeMurphy

    Beachy is right handed bud.

  • tommyshih

    If you look even more closely you’ll see Beachy pitching with his right hand.

  • FredOwens

    Uh yea we know, that doesn’t stop his mound presence and style from being reminscent of Glavine @ClydeMurphy

  • ClydeMurphy

    Beachy is right handed bud.

  • tommyshih

    If you look even more closely you’ll see Beachy pitching with his right hand.

  • FredOwens

    Uh yea we know, that doesn’t stop his mound presence and style from being reminscent of Glavine @ClydeMurphy

  • RobertJosephCerasuolo

    I saw trade Alex Derek andNate to the Yankees for Brett Gardner Brandon Laird and Kevin Russo.

  • RobertJosephCerasuolo

    I saw trade Alex Derek andNate to the Yankees for Brett Gardner Brandon Laird and Kevin Russo.

  • FredOwens

    @RobertJosephCerasuolo A trade has to have value to both teams. From the Braves POV, Russo was designated for assignment in May and could have been anyone’s for nothing, Scouting on Laird says he hit’s lefties ok but righties not so well, has a strong arm but mediocre range at 3rd and can also play first base if necessary and has limited experience in the corner outfield spots. I’m not sure what we do with either of them as we have similar players in the minors now.

    Brett Gardner is now 27, the Yankee leadoff man .290/.370/.416 30 SB 4 homers 19 RBI and a WAR of 3.6 and just hitting his prime. I’d love to have him but, why exactly would the Yankees give him up plus two others no matter how unlikely they are to be useful Yankees in the long term, for Lowe (38) an expensive 5th starter for them (6 million this year, 15 next) Alex who plays only SS (they have this Jeter guy I hear) and Nate (about 3 million left this year) who took two years to get back to mediocrity in Atlanta and would be less than that in the cauldron of New York? They already have Colon and Garcia at the back of their order doing as well as Lowe would for them.

    I don’t see any value in it for New York who will likely be in the post season with or without him.

  • FredOwens

    @RobertJosephCerasuolo A trade has to have value to both teams. From the Braves POV, Russo was designated for assignment in May and could have been anyone’s for nothing, Scouting on Laird says he hit’s lefties ok but righties not so well, has a strong arm but mediocre range at 3rd and can also play first base if necessary and has limited experience in the corner outfield spots. I’m not sure what we do with either of them as we have similar players in the minors now.

    Brett Gardner is now 27, the Yankee leadoff man .290/.370/.416 30 SB 4 homers 19 RBI and a WAR of 3.6 and just hitting his prime. I’d love to have him but, why exactly would the Yankees give him up plus two others no matter how unlikely they are to be useful Yankees in the long term, for Lowe (38) an expensive 5th starter for them (6 million this year, 15 next) Alex who plays only SS (they have this Jeter guy I hear) and Nate (about 3 million left this year) who took two years to get back to mediocrity in Atlanta and would be less than that in the cauldron of New York? They already have Colon and Garcia at the back of their order doing as well as Lowe would for them.

    I don’t see any value in it for New York who will likely be in the post season with or without him.

  • jaybob

    Beachy reminds you of GLAVINE?? Puh-leez. I don’t know what yer smoking, but it’s some good shat. Beachy is a righty, throws waaay harder and strikes out waaaay more batters. Brandon Beachy looks like another John Smolts to me…and if he gets traded, well that would just ruin my day.

  • jaybob

    Beachy reminds you of GLAVINE?? Puh-leez. I don’t know what yer smoking, but it’s some good shat. Beachy is a righty, throws waaay harder and strikes out waaaay more batters. Brandon Beachy looks like another John Smolts to me…and if he gets traded, well that would just ruin my day.

  • FredOwens

    @jaybob Of course he’s right handed, you miss the point. It’s not how hard he throws or the hand he uses, it’s about mound presence and demeanor. Nothing ever got to Glavine, great game-bad game Tommy you couldn’t tell by looking at him; always on an even keel no matter what he felt. Beachy is in that mold. Smoltz was just as determined of course but less stoic. if technicality is what you want, Beachy’s motion is more Kevin Brown than anyone else I can think of and Brown was pretty stoic as well but I never cared for Brown who seemed aloof and all about the money. Beachy OTOH realizes and appreciates how fortunate he’s been to get where he is and savors every moment. Like Glavine and Smoltz and Maddux and more I could name.

  • FredOwens

    @jaybob Of course he’s right handed, you miss the point. It’s not how hard he throws or the hand he uses, it’s about mound presence and demeanor. Nothing ever got to Glavine, great game-bad game Tommy you couldn’t tell by looking at him; always on an even keel no matter what he felt. Beachy is in that mold. Smoltz was just as determined of course but less stoic. if technicality is what you want, Beachy’s motion is more Kevin Brown than anyone else I can think of and Brown was pretty stoic as well but I never cared for Brown who seemed aloof and all about the money. Beachy OTOH realizes and appreciates how fortunate he’s been to get where he is and savors every moment. Like Glavine and Smoltz and Maddux and more I could name.

  • jaybob

    @FredOwens Again, I must disagree…if there is a current Brave with a delivery similar to Kevin Brown it’s Derek Lowe, not Brandon Beachy. Smoltzie just comes to mind whenever I watch Beachy pitch. I think we can agree though that it would be a huge mistake to trade Brandon Beachy. I actually met Brandon last year in a hotel lobby. He was in ATL to receive a minor league award before a game against STL. Nice kid. GO BRAVES!!

  • jaybob

    @FredOwens Again, I must disagree…if there is a current Brave with a delivery similar to Kevin Brown it’s Derek Lowe, not Brandon Beachy. Smoltzie just comes to mind whenever I watch Beachy pitch. I think we can agree though that it would be a huge mistake to trade Brandon Beachy. I actually met Brandon last year in a hotel lobby. He was in ATL to receive a minor league award before a game against STL. Nice kid. GO BRAVES!!