Archive for June, 2010

from sbnation.com

I know, I know.

The Braves are a first place team with good vibrations all around.

They’ve been one of the best teams in the game since the beginning of May and really lack any substantial holes in their line-up.

But…I like to think ahead.

And, right now, I’m thinking about how Frank Wren and Company can improve the National League’s top run-scoring offense.

There are a couple of different routes the Braves could pursue to achieve this.

They could go with a speed guy (a dimension lacking in the line-up), but there really isn’t anyone readily available that fills that description (unless you’re thinking of Juan Pierre and his .248/.318/.278 line or Co-Co Crisp and his and injury-prone nature)–and Martin Prado has been on an absolute tear since taking over the lead-off spot and has, pretty much, eliminated the need for a “stereotypical” lead-off hitter.

An extra power bat, specifically from the right side, could also be of benefit to the Braves.

But, there aren’t a lot of options that the Braves could pursue for this venture since teams aren’t going to just trade away a legitimate power threat if they’re even remotely close to being in a playoff race

The other thing the Braves could look at could just be an everyday center field option that just, if only barely, out-performs the guys that they’ve been throwing out (Melky Cabrera and Nate McLouth and their combined sub-.550 OPS) at the plate while playing at least average defense in the field.

And, of course, versatility anywhere would be a plus.

And with the infield set-up with Jones-Escobar-Prado-Glaus from left to right…the outfield seems to be the most viable option for an upgrade.

So, all things considered, here are two guys the Braves should be pursuing at the trade deadline.
Luke Scott

The Baltimore Orioles outfielder, who still has two more years of team control remaining on his contract, has posted a .276/.347/.505 through 219 plate appearances from the left side of the plate (although that is acceptable considering his .852 OPS) thus far in 2010.

Now, his splits aren’t pretty (.905 OPS vs. RHP to .696 vs. LHP), and his 13 games in the outfield might make him a liability from a defensive standpoint.

And (this is why he’s No. 3–there are a few downsides with Scott) his line looks a little poor compared to current left-handed “platooning” outfielder Eric Hinske‘s .311/.377/.548 slash (his splits are a little more drastic with .946 to .633 OPSs versus right- and left-handers, respectively).

But, I think it’s reasonable to expect, even once Matt Diaz returns and Hinske continues in his platoon purgatory, Hinske’s numbers to move more and more towards his career marks of .256/.338/.442.

And that’s why I like Scott–his career line is .265/.349/.496 which is much closer to the numbers he has posted en route to his ten homers and 24 RBIs in what has proven to be a rather anemic Orioles offense (in other words, even if in only a platoon, he’s more likely to sustain his production).

Considering their 19-51 record and recent firing of their manager, you have to figure that Baltimore will be “blowing it up” and building for thee future–so MLB-ready talent probably won’t be a “must” in a deal.

But, close-to-primo prospects will be.

And with a lack of top-flight depth in the outfield down on the farm and the old mantra of “you can’t have too much pitching” likely coming in the negotiation process, this would be my package if I’m the Braves…

Potential Deal: Cody Johnson (OF), Randall Delgado (RHP), and Scott Diamond(LHP) for Luke Scott (OF) and Pedro Viola (LHP)/Jim Johnson (RHP).
David DeJesus

Remember the “barely-better-than-the-current-options” guy?

Here he kinda is (I say “kinda” because he’s actually significantly better than the other options without being a total top-flight offensive threat).

But, for the sake of comparison, pick one of these lines blindly (with career lines)…

.260/.319/.337 (.269/.330/.380)
.323/.395/.485 (.289/.361/.429)
.176/.295/.282 (.253/.339/.439)

Obviously, you pick the dude in the middle who is, not surprisingly, David DeJesus.

He’s one of the top players on the Kansas City Royals and has, as evidenced by his career line above, always been the sort of player he has been this year–one that gets on base while hitting with a little pop (i.e. an ideal No. 1 or No. 2 hitter).

His five homers and three steals don’t expire much in the “flashy” categories, but he’s been getting the job done to the tune of 22 doubles (tied for third most with many others in the AL) three triples from the top of KC’s line-up.

You plug that sort of production, even if he is left-handed, into the top of Atlanta’s line-up between Martin Prado and Chipper Jones and you’ve got a pretty good set-up (especially of Heyward gets to move down to a run-producing spot where he was more comfortable at the beginning of the year).

Now, to the deal.

Kansas City has some holes at various spots around its minor league system and DeJesus has an option on his contract (the Braves would be trading for a year-and-a-half of the center fielder)–so a deal with a “eclectic” feel would likely work.

Potential Deal(s): Kris Medlen (RHP), Melky Cabrera (OF), Zeke Spruill (RHP) ORArodys Vizcaino (RHP), Adam Milligan (OF), Cole Rohrbough (LHP) for David DeJesus (OF)–preferably the latter package.

Oh, and I will admit to being generous in my deals with talent being given up from the Braves’ perspective–I sometimes think too much though into the “talent-for-talent” theory and surrender too much in certain packages.
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(from blueworkhorse.com)

It sounds funny, doesn’t it?

Chase Utley being challenged for the starting job at second base for the National League All Star team?

Up until this year, that was a preposterous thought…but, seemingly out of the woodwork, there has emerged a legitimate contender from the Atlanta Braves in the form of lead-off hitter Martin Prado–who is currently standing in second (though he is far from “nipping at the heels” of the leader) place in voting behind the venerable Utley.

Since Utley (for future reference, the No. 3 batter in the Phillies’ line-up) is, by far, the sexier name here, we’ll use a sort of “blind” system by which to judge the two (though, the stats will make it pretty obvious who is who).

Player A has a slash line of .333/.375/.464 (with that .333 being good enough for second in the National League behind the barely-qualified-for-consideration AndreEthier) with six home runs, 29 RBIs, 47 runs scored, and 31 multi-hit games (13 of three hits or more).

Player A has also collected 18 doubles and a single swipe (to three caught stealings) while putting up a 9.0 UZR/150 in 65 games at second base.

Player B’s slash line looks like this: .260/.376/.461.

B has also collected the third most home runs by a full-time second basemen with 10, 26 RBIs, 41 runs scored, two steals (to one caught stealing), and 12 doubles.

On the defensive side of the ball, UZR/150 gives this player a rating of 16.3 through the 61 games he has played at second base.

By throwing out on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and stolen bases, we can see how these players separate themselves from one another a bit (even though RBI and RS are close, I think they are each still relevant considering where each of these guys bat in their respective line-ups) …

Player A: .333 AVG/6 HR/29 RBI/47 RS/9.0 UZR/150
Player B: .260 AVG/10 HR/26 RBI/41 RS/16.3 UZR/150

Now…make your pick (preferably, in the poll for the sake of comparison).

Now, the unveiling (though I’m sure Braves and Phillies fans have already figured out who is who).

Player A is Martin Prado.

Player B is leading vote-getter Chase Utley.

Now, my opinion lies a bit on the subjective side since I get to watch Prado play (and collect his 95 current hits) everyday…but I don’t see how Chase Utley can get the nod when name recognition (which is, almost a bit regrettably, a pretty big factor in All Star voting) is thrown out the window.

The way Prado has energized what was an anemic Braves offense before he took over the lead-off spot also throws out the “value to a team’s success” factor that cones into play in some ballots cast.

I’ll grant Utley the fact that he’s been playing hurt…but voting should be based on results (oh, and to potential results…Prado’s BABIP is .366 to Utley’s .264, so Prado has had quite a bit more luck when it comes to “hitting ’em where they ain’t”) on the field.

And, to me (and I feel the stats back me up a bit), Prado has had more of those.

So…what do you think (ignoring the fact that Utley’s more than likely getting the starting nod from the fans)?

Should Utley get the nod for his longevity as one of the premier second basemen in the game?

Or should Prado be the man for the impressive numbers he’s posted thus far in 2010.

(from thesportsidiot.com)

While nothing is written is stone just yet, there is a pretty good chance that the Atlanta Braves will find themselves sans-Chipper Jones when the team reports to Spring Training in 2011.

(Oh, and, yeah, I know that the Braves are a first place team with a lot going right for them.)

Well, that is provided that Chipper maintains his blisteringly cold .228/.375/.341 line that he carried into Tuesday night over the remainder of the season (the OBP is good, I’ll give him that, but his job, as the No. 3 hitter, is more about driving in runs than getting on–and with only 22 RBIs (batting .267 with runners on) with Jason Heyward and Martin Prado in front of him, there is simply too much pressure being put on Glaus/McCann to pick up what Jones is leaving behind).

As it stands today, the former perennial threat for 30 or more homers and a .300 or better batting average is a defensive liability at the hot corner, is 8-for-his last 35 ABs, and can’t keep a clean bill of health to save his life (from fingers, to obliques, to his back).

What’s more, the now-38-year-old Jones is being outplayed by all of his potential replacements on the bench.

Brooks Conrad is only six extra-base hits behind the sure-fire Hall of Famer in about a third of the plate appearances.

Omar Infante (who has only 30 fewer ABs than Hoss) holds a .314/.351/.387 line.

And Eric Hinske, who has appeared in one more game than Chipper (although with 50 fewer ABs), and his .316/.386/.556 line makes one wonder why Chipper is even getting chances at all (well, I say that…but I do know the reason–too much loyalty (if you get my drift) on the part of the manager and a $14 MM paycheck this season will do that).

In my humble opinion, the best interests of all parties involved would be for ol’ Larry to ride quietly off into the sunset in a Ken Griffey Jr.-esq fashion–he just doesn’t seem to have “it” anymore (and I’d love to be proven wrong).

But, we all know that’s not going to happen.

The fact of the matter is this: Chipper is fading…and has been fading rapidly since winning his lone batting title back in 2008.

His nostalgic presence in the Braves locker room is doing more than linking this club to pitching-dominant ways of the Braves teams headed by Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine…and that’s not helping the team win games.

It’s been tough to let go of the image of Chipper as a MVP candidate…but seeing what is as close as futility as you’ll see on a Major League diamond night-in and night-out has really let that image escape my mind.

It’ll be tough to replace the name-value that came along with Chipper over at third (although “Brooks” is a pretty cool name…just saying is all)–but if that three year, $42 MM extension (that’s Carl Crawford money, right there…wink wink, nudge nudge) does indeed fall off of the table…that’ll be a pretty easy pill to swallow.

The Hey Train

Posted: June 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Welcome to The Hey Train.

Since I know that no one is going to read this post (haha), I am going to keep this brief.

I am a 17-year-old Junior at North Davidson High School in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

I follow my beloved Atlanta Braves year-round (Jason Heyward is for whom this site is named) and my school’s football team during (obviously) football season.

As is such, those will be the topics of discussion on this blog.

I am also featured on Bleacher Report as an Atlanta Braves Featured Columnist and on Fantasy Football Maniaxs as a general baseball columnist (Power Rankings, Prospect Profiles et al).

I strive to please all of my readers so any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.