There’s some good things going on in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse!
The Braves are playing some pretty good baseball right now, albeit against poor opponents, but good nonetheless. With the trade deadline looming, I’ve been banging the same drum for quite awhile now, and that is to let some guys in the Minors fill the Jupiter-sized holes on the Braves 25-man. With the Braves’ farm system thin and lack of many expendable trade chips to make a big splash, letting the farmhands have a go seems logical. This seems to be happening. Let’s take a look at what’s already happened, and I’ll open the floor for a few more in-house solutions for the Braves to attempt before the trade deadline. Let’s dive in, shall we?
1. The departure of former Atlanta Braves 2b Dan Uggla and the eventual arrival of Philip Gosselin
Dan Uggla was well-liked in the clubhouse by his teammates. Combine that with: 1.The fact they were trying to find someone to pay some portion of his salary,and…2. The other elephant in the room, the 19 or so million dollars the Braves owed him through next season and yes… there were 19 million and 2 reasons they held on to him for so long. Now that he’s gone, Tyler Pastornicky has been called up to take his place. It sounds like Pastornicky’s place at the table is only to keep a seat warm for Phil Gosselin who, due to a roster technicality, couldn’t be called back up for 10 more days unless taking the place of a player going to the DL. Gosselin will be up again very soon, and for very good reason. He’s carrying a slash line of .345/.382/.492, a significant increase in all of his career Minor League numbers. There are 2 things that are aiding Gosselin’s 2014 breakout campaign. First, he’s carrying a BABIP of .399, a statistical anomaly that can’t expected to be sustainable. Secondly, there’s been a HUGE spike in Gosselin’s SLG%, .492, an increase of .118 points compared to his career numbers. Factoring in the BABIP spike, we as Braves fans should not expect those numbers at the Major League level, but there is some truth to the increased power. Gosselin reportedly centered his offseason workouts around adding some muscle and it obviously worked. Gosselin, in the mold of Martin Prado, has seen action almost all over the diamond. If Braves’ fans recall, Prado’s power also showed up quite late in the game as his highest in any Minor League season was 5. If only the Braves can be so lucky as to have Prado 2.0 out of Phil Gosselin. It’s a longshot, but it’s worth giving him that shot.
2. The fixing of Atlanta Braves LOOGY Luis Avilan and the promotion of Chasen Shreve
Avilan just hasn’t had the success in 2014 that is needed to be a left-handed specialist in the Majors. In over 100 innings between ’12 and ’13, Avilan had a 1.69 ERA carried much by an uncanny ability to keep the ball in the park and a very low BABIP against. Now that both of those have leveled out, Avilan’s good fortune in his first 2 years has turn to bad fortune this year, yet his velocity, break on pitches, and arsenal is almost identical to what’s made him successful in the past. Without question, Avilan has what it takes to be a competent LHP, but expecting him to be a sub-2 ERA pitcher just isn’t realistic according to all advanced metrics. He’ll be back…but until then, CHASEN SHREVE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! In an article written by Martin Gandy less than a week ago, he discusses what’s led to a career resurgence for the young lefty. Influenced by Tom Glavine early on in his career, Shreve decided to “spot up”, holding back his velocity, and it seemed to aid in his success at both A and A- ball, only it wasn’t long-lasting. When promoted to AA in 2013, Shreve’s numbers got ugly, showing career worsts in ERA, h/9, and k/9. It was in 2014 when Shreve revealed he could throw harder and ramped up his MPH to 93-94, up from the 86-90 that he’d been showing years prior. And boy, did that make a difference: 2.48 ERA aided by 12.6 K/9 and an INSANE 76:9 K to BB ratio. I’m sure the idea is that Shreve finds success on the big league club, Avilan rediscovers the fountain of luck at AAA, and the Braves have 2 very effective left-handed relievers without having to make a move to acquire one. Only time will tell, but if I were betting on one of the 2, it’d be on Shreve.
3. Promotion of Christian Bethancourt
This one was obviously not planned as it took an injured Evan Gattis to make happen, but there were many routes the Braves could have taken to replace Gattis, yet they chose to bring up Bethancourt. While Bethancourt was Gattified back to Gwinnett earlier today, the Braves chose to go young to see what Bethancourt could provide in the big leagues. Overall, it’s not been a huge success for Bethancourt but the Braves used internal options that had potential to provide value. I like it. He most definitely provided glimpses of what make him intriguing and will continue to do so in the Minors.
4. Promotion of Shae Simmons
Since the promotion of Shae Simmons, the Braves bullpen have once again solidified the 6-9 inning dominance that has been accustomed back to the days of O’Ventbrel. With David Carpenter providing little to no value, Simmons’ role as a high-leverage reliever probably came sooner than expected.
5. Promotion of Tommy La Stella
Like many of the scenarios above, the Braves exhausted all the resources on the 25-man roster; Dan Uggla, Tyler Pastornicky, Ramiro Pena, before calling up La Stella. La Stella has been the balance the Braves needed in a power heavy, strikeout heavy lineup.
So…what/who could be next for the Atlanta Braves?
Everyone that’s been reading knows I favor a promotion of Kyle Kubitza as bench extraordinaire, but this isn’t about me. What in-house options do you guys envision helping this club, and how would they get here? Let’s hear from the audience! An easy starting target would be to DFA Ryan Doumit, but who comes up? Let the speculation begin!