Braves Pitching–The Reality Show

Prime Time Reality For Braves Fans

sheets2uspwBraves pitching’s taken on the aura of a reality TV show over the past two seasons. So when Ben Sheets went on the DL with shoulder inflammation (the equivalent of a spring training dead arm?)  I was more amused than amazed that instead of calling up Randall Delgado – starter for starter – or Cory Gearrin to return the bullpen to something like normal for a five man rotation,  their reaction was to call neither a starter or reliever and just barely a pitcher, Miguel Batista.

A Quick Look Back

This is nothing new. Over the last two years we’ve been treated to folks who are major league pitchers because there were once or still just barely are. It reminded me of Dancing With The Stars where the stars are fringe actors seeking the spotlight once more, retired sports personalities and others who figure what the heck, it costs me nothing.  Last year’s cast on “who’s still good enough to pitch; Braves edition” Scott Proctor, Scott Linebrink , Rodrigo Lopez, Derek Lowe had no winners. So in January the director (GM) began trying to recast for the 2012 season. Fortunately for him and his production team, a real competition presented itself in spring training; – Who Will Be The Staring Rotation?

2012 – The Drama Continues

The storylines from last season carried over and the fans knew the stars.

  • Would Tommy Hanson bounce back to his projected ACE status after shoulder surgery?
  • Would Jair Jurrjens surgically repaired knee return him to prominence and could he repeat or sustain something close to, his results in the first half of 2011.
  • Which of the eager prospects Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran – would stake their claim to the fifth starter spot?
  • Would veteran Tim Hudson with is surgically repaired back return to form and carry the team?
  • Would Mike Minor prove to be as good as he thought he was when he said he’d earned a starting rotation spot?
  • Would young ace designate Brandon Beachy continue to blaze a trail in the footsteps of John Smoltz?

By the end of spring training the answers were: No, No, Neither, We’ll know in May. Looks like it; We sure hope so.

The least poor performing prospect won the number five spot and in spite of stumbles fumbles and losses, the production team stayed with the original cast through the ASG.

A new plot line emerged just after the ASG, the feel good story of a man struggling against adversity to resurrect his career. It was something the fans could get their teeth into and the story opened well. That was followed by the wildy successful “Return of Kris Medlen” and immediately after that the “Can We Buy An Ace” miniseries that eventually played ended with the acquisition of another useful number three starter bringing the clubs total to three number two starters, two third starters and a five.

Just before the conclusion of the miniseries the director, ever on the lookout for an Emmy nomination in the “rehab a washout” category, spotted an opportunity and signed Miguel Batista. Batista was a journeyman failure thrice DFA’d by the Mets in 2012 and the perfect man to earn an Emmy nomination if it worked. He was sent to Gwinnett where even though he could get AAA hitters out, every intelligent fan hoped he would stay. Yesterday’s DL announcement however presented the director and production team with a challenge. Would they:

  • Go for youth and recall Delgado, a now surging and confident starting prospect,
  • Got for outs and nring back the successful sidearm throwing situational righty Gearrin,
  • Go for sentiment and bring back veteran siderarmer Peter Moylan beloved by fans and working through rehab from TJ surgery, or
  • Go for the unexpected drama and controversy of recalling Batista.

Unfortunately drama won out over common sense.

Getting Real

To say Batista is washed up is not an exaggeration. At 41 years old his line of 4.82 ERA, 1.800 WHIP, 31 walks and 34 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings with the Mets this year is next to the worst among relievers with 40 – 50 innings. Batista isn’t the present or the future, he isn’t even the past. He can only be depended upon to fail under pressure and against good hitters. Unless you’re planning on a lot of blowout games requiring mop up work before September first, he’s a waste of roster space when batter arms are available.

That’s A Wrap

The more I watch the maneuverings of the Braves brain trust the more confused I get. It looks more and more like they make their choices and then figure out an explanation for them afterwards. The “we were saving Medlen’s arm after TJ surgery” idea that seemed to appear about the time the Stephen Strasburg quotes started coming out of D.C. is a perfect example of that.  As for an understandable plan, I don’t see one.

  • At the beginning of the year they stocked the bullpen with long relievers because based on 2011 they believed at least initially, that the starters will go 5fiveinnings or less more often than not.
  • When said starter designates stumbled, they persisted with the Medlen is best out of the bullpen farce until they had no choice. When he proved their initial choice silly, we hear they were saving his arm for just such an occasion .
  • They go to a six man rotation for a 20 game stretch  and send a short reliever down so Hanson doesn’t get his feelings hurt again then end up having Hanson on standby in the pen after an extra inning game.
  • Finally when a starter goes on the DL four days before the end of that 20 game stretch and presumably the return to a five man rotation,  they bring up a worn out flop like in Batista. Frankly Buddy Carlyle is a better choice, at least Braves fans like him.

These choices along with Gonzalez odd choice of situational relievers as the Braves struggle to retain their Wildcard spot down the stretch, are unexplained and really difficult to understand.

The stretch run with a streaky lineup and slumping stars is difficult enough without the addition of another member of the “why did we sign him again” club. I sincerely hope  that a situation where Gonzalez thinks it’s best to use Batista never occurs. I also hope that no one told the GM Roger Clemens went three scoreless innings Saturday for the Skeeters.  I really can’t afford a new TV.

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