Feb 16, 2014; Lake Buena Vistas, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Gavin Floyd (32) throws during spring training at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Braves’ rotation up for grabs on Overstock dot com?


David Hale will be the first victim in an overcrowded rotation. Who’s next?

Gettin’ CROWDED in here! Oh, HALE NO!

David Hale has a 2.31 ERA. His FIP comes in at 3.21, so yes, his ERA is deceivingly low, but so are the other pitchers in the Braves starting staff who benefit from the defense behind them.  Thus far, the Braves have a combined 28 defensive runs saved, 13 of which come from Jason Heyward who leads the Majors in that category.  Analyzing those numbers, it’s easy to see why the starting staff’s ERA is lower than their FIP as the defense alone has saved over 1 run per game.  That’s UNREAL! Back to David Hale

Hale has likely seen his last start with the Braves for quite some time as Mike Minor looks to be taking his spot in the rotation the next go around. Hale will either be sent down to AAA to stay stretched out in case one of the pitchers go down, stop producing, or he’ll join the bullpen at the expense of Gus Schlosser.  Truth be told, I think it could go either way.  This is a fantastic problem to have, however it is just that; a problem.  It gets worse…

In a week’s time, Gavin Floyd will be ready to join the pitching staff, the Major League pitching staff, in some role, e.g. starting or

relieving.  This will make 7 starting candidates for 5 starting spots, 1 unlucky starter moved to mop-up man duties, and one unlucky starter being moved to AAA Gwinnett to stay stretched out. In my opinion this is not a wise use of resources.  With the need for starting pitching around the league, there’s reason to believe that the time to sell-high on one of our starters is immediate.

David Hale is a good pitcher that is pitching out of his MIND right now. While his ERA and FIP are both very good, his peripherals tell that his success, above all other starting candidates, is not sustainable.  There are many pitching-hungry teams out there that would drool over a 3.50-4.00 ERA pitcher that is cost-controlled for the next 5 years and would be willing to give up a legit prospect, and maybe a throw-in or 2, to acquire said pitcher.  Right now, a 3.50-4.00 ERA pitcher would be our 5th starter. More likely as not, there are already 2 candidates that can fill that void. So why sell high on David Hale?

Here are my reasons:

1. He’s the only candidate of he, Aaron Harang, and Floyd that could bring back a significant return this early.

2. He’ll likely never be anything more than a 5th starter/mop-up man with the Braves.

3. It would be the first time since Omar Infante that the Braves have sold high.

4. Packaging him with Dan Uggla would be the only chance in Hades that the Braves could get a team to pay any portion of Uggla’s contract (and still that would be stretch).

So, what do the Braves need?

There is next to no impact bats in the Braves organization, and less at 3rd base.  The Braves’ Chris Johnson, like many on the Tomahawk Take staff predicted, has taken a very large step back in his offensive production.  While he’ll likely rebound a bit from his current production, the chance that he’s played his best baseball already is almost certain.  The Braves need a near-Major League ready 3rd baseman that could take the reins from Chris in 2 years, or even earlier as Chris isn’t known for his glove and if he isn’t hitting, he isn’t an asset.

So, who fits the bill?

There are many teams that are seriously struggling  in Starting Pitching.  Let’s evaluate the teams and see if there are any fits for a future 3rd baseman! Click each team’s name for their Top-20 prospects, and scroll to find names.

1. Arizona Diamondbacks-  Worst in the Majors at a 6.32 ERA and just so happens to have a nice 3b prospect, Jake Lamb at AA.

2. Minnesota Twins- Also a +6 ERA team with #2 prospect Miguel Sano currently blocked by Trevor Plouffe.  He underwent Tommy John surgery in March (should be known as the Kelly Johnson surgery when applied to position players) so that, along with his path blocked, could provide reason for the Twins to deal him.   They’d be selling VERY low.  There’s also Jorge Polanco who seems to be in the mold of Placido Polanco with serious on-base skills and less power than your average 3-bagger. One other would be Travis Harrison, a 21 year-old 3b in High-A.  A few interesting options.

3. Chicago White Sox- A few prospects that could be decent, but nothing looks like a potential starter at 3rd base.

4. Baltimore Orioles- The farm is dry at 3rd base for the O’s.  It’s good they have the best 3rd baseman in the game on the big league club!

5. Cleveland Indians- Aside from top prospect Francisco Lindor, the infield prospects of the Indians look like glove-first shortstops that would lose serious value if moved off of shortstop. Lindor, unfortunately, is the heir apparent to Asdrubal Cabrera and seems to be more valued to the Indians than Andrelton was to the Braves.

This is just a few of the teams that were cherry-picked from a list of teams in need of successful starting pitching.  Thoughts? Additions?

Tags: Atlanta Braves David Hale Featured Gavin Floyd Mike Minor Popular

  • Lee Trocinski

    Looking at the real fun peripherals, he has a 4.44 xFIP and 4.80 SIERA, along with a K-BB% of only 4%. I don’t think many teams would give up more than a future reliever for him, so we might as well keep him.

    • Ryan Cothran

      FIP is the hot SABR stat that many agents are using to justify their client’s contracts. If Ricky Nolasco can get 4/49 million on the open market, David Hale can net much more than a future reliever.

      • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

        Not to beat on you for this, but I’m really getting sick of FIP. Show me a Fielding Independent pitcher and I’ll show you a bowler in a weekly league at the local alley. We need a better stat: using one that only considers HR/BB/HBP and strikeouts is not nearly a sufficient measurement for pitching.

        • Ryan Cothran

          Not saying you’re right or wrong, merely pointing to the trend in the league when it comes to agents justifying clients’ contracts.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            Yeah, I’m aware. Agents will use anything.

        • Lee Trocinski

          Unfortunately nothing better will be coming out until speed and angle off bat is made publicly available. SIERA gets pretty granular, using batted ball profiles and multi-variable correlations. However, K%-BB% is not much worse than any of the FIP-type metrics, so you can get fairly good predictions with little effort.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    Sorry, but there’s two reasons why Hale isn’t going anywhere: Gavin Floyd and Ervin Santana. They are leaving at least by end of 2014. We need him for 2015 depth…if not for outright pitching in the rotation then.

    • Ryan Cothran

      Like this year, I think the braves will go outside the org to fill one of the 2 starting spots for next years rotation, leaving one spot for the likes of Graham, Hursh, C. Martin. I don’t see a need for Hale that would warrant not selling high on his unprecedented success.

      • fireboss

        Lee is correct that the return for Hale wouldn’t be near what you suggest or want. While he is hot now he is a fifth starter and an inexperienced one who has exceeded expectations so far. It’s true teams could use him but they have no reason to give up a prospect of any caliber to get him.
        Every team will use at least 7 starters and up to 10 this season. For the Braves the return of Minor and arrival of Floyd make 7. Realistically Harang will come down off his peak like Maholm did last year and Floyd will step in. Floyd however multiple elbow surgeries last year and is no lock to stay healthy. Keeping Hale available as a proven option makes sense; it’s just not good roster management to trade a guy who’s shown he can do the job when the options in the minors are unproven. There are also business reasons to keep him as well.
        Hale as the 5th or even the 4th starter and gives you 200 innings a
        .500 record and keeps you in the game, that is the job description. Every projected FA starter on the 2015 FA market is older and more expensive than Hale. There’s no reason for the Braves to use $4M of limited payroll as they did for Floyd or even $1M for a lightning in the bottle veteran pitching hope to do exactly what Hale does for the league minimum.

        Expecting Hursh, Graham or Martin to be the answer next year is unrealistic. it’s more likely to be the latter two from that three providing the 200+ innings needed. We are likely to see Martin this year if we run into the need for starter number 8 and he’d be favorite to be number 5 to start next year. Martin is seen as Medlen part II by some and we can only hope that’s true. Graham would be up sooner than Martin but he lost that year with shoulder issues and now has to prove health. Hursh is more likely to appear in 2016 than 2015 unless he’s pressed into a relief role.
        If we get a major injury to say CJ that requires a trade package Hale might be part of that but on his own he won’t bring much in return.

        • Ryan Cothran

          I disagree, Fred…

          Aside from Miguel Sano, none of the guys I discussed are elite prospects. The return isn’t that substantial.

          Expecting Hursh, Graham, and Martin to the be answer is unrealistic. Expecting one of the 3 to emerge as a 5th starter is very realistic. If the Braves think that a player is ready, their “time” in the minors, especially for a college pitcher, seems a non-factor (Wood, Minor). Hursh is already at AA and seems to be on the fast track just like Wood and Minor were, both of which were college pitchers, and both were in the Minors less than 2 calendar years.

          • fireboss

            As Lee pointed out Gallo is a elite power prospect, 18 homers in just 43 games in the Arizona fall league. He’s not a good 3B yet and he strikes out a lot but the Rangers paid 2 .25M to sign him; he may end up in the outfield but he’s not moving until he fails. Harrison is going to end up in the outfield too probably left. He isn’t fast
            and not quick enough for third in the majors his conversion to left has
            been less than smooth. He’s an interesting player but may end up like
            Mejia. Jorge Polanco is another second baseman at Hi A who may eventually be a leadoff man but is two – three years away. He’d be nice but why do we want him? What void do we fill? If you’re trading major league proven anything you want someone close that fills a need. It’s getting really hard to pry young players away if they’re any kind of prospect. I’d trade Hale , heck I’d trade anyone for the right return. But I don’t see anyone offering anything substantial for him

          • Ryan Cothran

            I respectfully disagree that Gallo is an elite prospect. He’s ranked 8th in his own organization.

  • Ryan Cothran

    Texas Rangers have a merry-go-round 5th starter and have Joey Gallo, a serious power threat, in the minors. With Profar, Andrus, and Odor, they have no spot for him. Would be worth a look.

    • fireboss

      BA’s scouting says Taylor projects more as a second baseman. His arm is marginal at third and he doesn’t have the power normally associated with that position. He’s essentially LaStella with theoretically anyway a better glove

      IN 2016 Adrian Beltre will be a 37 year old free agent and Joey Gallo (currently at high A will be ready to step into his shoes. There’s no reason for the Rangers to give up their number 3 prospect for a number 5 starter

      • Ryan Cothran

        They have odor, andrus, and Profar. Unless he’s DH or transitioning to OF, he won’t be in their plans.

        • fireboss

          Odor is a 2B with power to match (15 or so a year) Gallo is a 3B with power to match (25 or so a year) Odor is a trade candidate but as the #1 in the Rangers system worth more than Hale. He’s probably better than LaStella but he isn’t a replacement for CJ and they would certainly want Hursh or Sims + plus him

          • Ryan Cothran

            The Rangers would put Profar at 3b in the above scenario. I don’t think they can find someone to take Andrus’ contract.

          • Lee Trocinski

            Encompassing all the Rangers talk, Gallo may trail only Giancarlo in raw power in professional baseball. He has hit a homer every 6 batted balls in his minor league career. He has a .383 ISO. If he can keep his K% under 30%, he is a top 10 hitter in the majors, a 40-50 HR guy per year. It would take the midpoint between Wood and Teheran to pry him from Texas.

            Second, Andrus has been a consistent 3-4 win player in his career, so it wouldn’t be that hard to find someone that would pay $15M a year for that. He may age a bit faster as a defensive-dependent guy, but he’s big enough to add some pop as he ages.

          • Ryan Cothran

            Link on Gallo. I’m glad Sickels has already done it, as I was going to compare Joey’s floor to Cody Johnson, former Braves minor leaguer. There’s a reason that someone with that power is only ranked 8th in their own organization. He’s a B- prospect, the same as Hale last year. You can argue the upside, I get it. You can also argue that the K-rate will never transfer to a successful major leaguer. There’s no doubt there’s light tower power there.

            (replace “dot” with .)

            http://www.minorleagueball dot com/2013/9/29/4777776/texas-rangers-prospect-joey-gallo-strikeouts-power-home-runs

            Saying Elvis Andrus is getting paid 15 million a year without citing that the contract runs through 2022 at 118 million is a bit short-sighted, no? Elvis Andrus’ WAR is based highly on defense and speed, both will be in serious decline by 2022, and looks to be on the decline already.

          • fireboss

            I know he strikes out and doesn’t walk. I know he isn’t a good third baseman and may never be so may end up in left field. With all of that and the probability that he may end up like Mejia, why do you want to give away a major league ready pitcher?

          • Ryan Cothran

            Ahhh…the old bait and hook. Not biting.

          • Lee Trocinski

            The Johnson comp is too extreme. Gallo is a better athlete and has drawn 13.6% unintentional walks, much higher than Cody. Marc Hulet rated him 6th in his FanGraphs Rangers Top 10 list, calling him a more athletic Russell Branyan, a comp I like. He’s also off to a great start this year, lowering the K% while moving up half a level to High-A. AA is the biggest minor league jump for a hitter, but as long as he doesn’t fall off the planet there, he will be in the majors soon. A .225/.325/.475 line is plenty good to start in the majors.

            The Andrus contract does run a little longer than I thought, but it’s still only through age 33. I noted your concerns, but also provided a case for some offsetting of that decline. He has a very close comp in Edgar Renteria, nearly identical OPS+ through age 24. Renteria was well into decline by age 33, but put up some great seasons in the meantime. This is probably the best-case scenario for Andrus, but I don’t see him becoming bad at the position, plus with the way salaries are going, $15M probably won’t buy you a great player by that time.

          • fireboss

            Profar has never hit 15 home runs in a season. He’s no more a third baseman than Odor or Andrus. Not happening

          • Ryan Cothran

            I agree that he’s not a typical 3rd baseman, however I disagree that he won’t be used as such. Only time will tell.

          • Lee Trocinski

            You know how much I hate position typecasting. Good thing you weren’t the Red Sox GM in ’82… Boggs had to repeat both AA and AAA, despite putting up .400 OBPs each year. If you get on base enough or play elite defense at the position, it doesn’t matter if you hit 5 HR a year.

          • fireboss

            The proposition was Odor at second, Andrus at ss and Profar at third. Even with Fielder at his best playing first there’s a significant drop in run production that has to be made up somewhere. Teams do win like that occasionally, 86 Cards come to mind and their are others I’m sure, but The Rangers never have been and they aren’t likely to become speed based. Profar isn’t Boggs but even if he becomes Boggs-esque teams require a balance of power and OBP to win. The Braves have the reverse issue now and it makes them vulnerable to the best pitching. It isn’t positional as such but a team needs power threats the balance has to come from somewhere. If you put a healthy A-Rod / Tulo type at SS or a Jeff Kent type of 2B as the Braves thought they were doing with Uggla at 2B the 3B can be a Prado or Profar. There’s a higher probability of finding power at the corners than in the middle where speed an agility are sought after so the stereotypical corners = power formula remains

  • Sealift67

    I’ve also seen FO live to regret trading off a young pitcher who is major league ready,
    relievers as well eg Neftali, Wainwright etc. We’ve seen the value of a deep well to
    dip into given the exigiencies of pitchers’ health.
    Way too soon in my opinion to draw conclusions about CJ. He has a good stroke and
    was mistakenly batted 4th for quite a while. Subliminal message was to go back to
    Astro days of swinging for power versus contact.

  • Ryan Cothran

    I expected to have a lot of disagreements. I’ll try to justify myself better when I get a moment.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    I almost wrote something on this topic a couple of days ago, but pulled off when I learned that my idea of a trade target – Trevor Plouffe (there would be others involved) – would not be available thanks to an injury to the Twins’ top 3rd base prospect.

    However, I was going to shop Gavin Floyd around… and I still think he’s a better candidate. He fits the usual profile: veteran without a long-term commitment available near the All-Star break (would have to be after June 15th). But the other part of it is that the Braves could definitely shop Floyd for a decent prospect – the definition of ‘decent’ depending on how much of Floyd’s deal goes in the trade.

    But I do seriously doubt that there is sentiment toward moving a young, controllable starting pitcher who has shown considerable poise and promise…even if in the 4/5 slots of the rotation. The need for arms is real. But IF that were to change, I would place his trade value somewhere between your idea (Ryan) and Lee’s/Fred’s. These guys don’t grow on trees.

    • Ryan Cothran

      Take out Miguel Sano (of which I did mention was a sell-low), and I’d like for the group here to re-evaluate the trade candidates I’m discussing. None are elite, not nearly. Also, might I remind you all that David Hale was a B- prospect prior to this season and, unlike the others I mention, has shown success at the Major league level.

      Many of the guys I mention are B prospects…without Major League success. It’s really not a stretch.

      • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

        I don’t think the Twins will move Sano anyway… he’s a big-time guy, and should still be once he returns. Thus I hoped that Plouffe would be the expendable one… but alas.

        Yeah, I don’t think you’re far off – my main thing is that I don’t believe Hale is going anywhere.

        • Ryan Cothran

          I agree, but I don’t think it’d be a bad idea to shop him.

  • Ryan Cothran

    2014 Braves’ prospects, #7 David Hale (B-): Older arm at age 26 but I think he’s made enough progress to rate well. Does he start or relieve? His component ratios aren’t great but I think there is enough stuff here particularly if used in pen.

    What prospect, aside from Miguel Sano (of which I stated is a sell-low due to TJ surgery) is a stretch for trade bait? Not a single one of them are in MLB’s top-100.

    • Lee Trocinski

      The biggest problem is finding a team willing to give up young players. The D-Backs are almost eliminated already, so they’re not going to give up a possible future starting position player. The Twins are doing okay, but they know they are not going to stay competitive the whole year, so why would they give up a 20-year-old middle infielder who can hit?

      Teams like the Indians are the plausible options, but all they’d be willing to give up is someone like Joe Wendle. Hale is not a difference maker, so teams are not going to give up a kid who could be a primary piece in the future.

  • Ryan Cothran

    Lets keep disagreeing! It’ll keep our mind off of this wretched game.