Good Problems Coming for Braves Roster

Good Problems Coming for Braves Roster

Our beloved Braves roster is about to get to the point that most wanted out the gate and that is a solid 25-man, 1-25. If you looked at the first 20 games of this season and had positive thoughts on how those 20 could go, I truly admire you. Many stated prior to the season that this first month of baseball would make or break the Braves and at 12 wins 8 losses, this team is far from broken. From a statistical perspective, it’s going to be really hard to top the offensive output from many of the starting 8. However, from a personnel perspective, this Braves team is about to get a serious makeover and one that could catapult them into unexpected contention this year.

Braves Roster Quibbles

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that one of my pet peeves in regards to the 25-man roster is that the Braves have essentially punted on the last 2-3 spots over the last 4 years and have been prone to carry some awful bench players and relievers. It was no different this year as the Opening Day bench consisted of 1 guy on the bench that anyone following baseball would’ve trusted in a pinch-hitting role. And while there were less question marks out of the bullpen this year, there were many fans perplexed by Anthopoulos’s choice of carrying Rex Brothers after having an awful 2017 and an even worse 2018 spring. However, the malfeasance that was bestowed upon us as Braves fans has been washed away and there’s joy in the air. And while things have been great from a statistical and win/loss perspective, the 25 players donning the Braves uniform nightly is about to get even better. Wanna see? Let’s do it!

Braves Reinforcements

 

  1. Tyler Flowers for Carlos Perez Yes, in what will likely be about 10 days, the Braves are going to get back the Flow to the Zuki and one of the best catching tandems in the entire MLB. Yes, I want to keep them around and even suggested 2 year/12 million dollar extensions for both of them.
  2. Jose Bautista for Charlie Culberson With Camargo now on the MLB roster, Culberson is hardly ever going to see the field and his bat is one of the absolute worst in the game. There’s no need for him even now, but there will most definitely be no need for him when Bautista is ready.
  3. Luiz Gohara for Anibal Sanchez– If he can stay healthy, Gohara has one of, if not the highest ceiling of any of the Braves starting pitchers. And while Anibal has done the Braves right in his stint, he’s not going to block Gohara when Gohara’s ready.
  4. Ronald Acuna for Peter Bourjos It’s a shame Anthopoulos saw more value out of Peter Bourjos than he did Lane Adams (alternative argument is that Lane would likely pass through waivers, creating instant depth) but here we sit. When the Acuna promotion happens, the entire team gets an upgrade as that likely puts Preston Tucker on the bench and he can flat out rake against right-handed pitching.
  5. Mike Soroka for Brandon McCarthy I don’t think this happens until August and might not happen at all should Braves not be contending by then, but Soroka (and Austin Riley) are the talks of Gwinnett and Pearl and rightfully so. Soroka’s stock continues to soar as his new offseason workout added a few MPHs to his already above average fastball.

The Good Problems

1. Bautista, Flaherty, Camargo, oh my!

It’s early in this Bautista talk, but it sounds like the Braves have all intentions of playing him…a lot…and at 3rd base. Not only has Ryan Flaherty been a top-5 3rd baseman in the game, he’s now having to split time with Johan Camargo, who was penciled in as the starting 3rd baseman before an injured oblique cut is spring training short. Now add Bautista and there’s a delicious problem on the Braves hands. How will it be possible to get playing time for these guys? My opinion:

2. Ride Flaherty for now

He’s still hitting and playing good defense. He’ll likely slow down, but let it happen naturally.

3. Let Camargo roam

He’s a gifted athlete that should be used as such. One of Snitker’s biggest strengths is also one of his biggest weaknesses and that is his loyalty to players. Snit needs to take a page out of Bobby’s book and realize that he’s going to get the most out of his players when they get a little rest. A start at 2nd, SS, 3rd, heck even the outfield would be good for Camargo and the Braves.

4. A bat flippin’ good time

When Flaherty’s done ridin’ high, hopefully Joey Bats is ready to come in and hit some dingers. I’d also like to see Bautista in a bit of a platoon with Markakis and get a few starts a week in the outfield.

5. All Tuckered out

Preston Tucker has been one of the best surprises of the 2018 season as he’s come up clutch in about every big RBI situation he’s been in this year. And while his defense isn’t great, it’s better than expected and it seems rather silly for him to be removed nearly every game for Peter Bourjos. If he continues to produce, I see Tucker still working his way into the lineup once or twice a week, but what a great weapon to have on the bench.

6. 6 for 5

Whether it be Wisler or Anibal Sanchez, when Gohara is ready, one or both will have to go. If Anibal has continued his successful run, the Braves could take a flier on him in the bullpen as the long reliever or sell him off for a middling prospect, or acquire a reliever in return. If Wisler’s still throwing well, the Braves might re-evaluate his or Gohara’s role.

Bullpen Reinforcements, Where y’at?

While the Braves bullpen has been the blemish in the otherwise diamond in the rough season thus far, I don’t expect for the walks to continue in mass quantities.

Shane Carle | Eddie Michaels, www.rocketsports-ent.com

In fact, I look at the bullpen and see 3 good relievers in Shane Carle, Sam Freeman, and Dan Winkler, and 2 great relievers in Arodys Vizcaino and A.J. Minter. Both Jesse Biddle and Peter Moylan have potential to be grouped into the “good group”, but I don’t see much else outside of that, minors or majors. While Matt Wisler looked rejuvenated the other night and could be a dynamite reliever with that slider, I’m not willing to let 1 game override 3 years of poor overall pitching. I think it’s more likely the Braves carry the above 7 guys on their roster for a while (unless injured) and continue rotating the 8th man until they find something that sticks. Chase Whitley could be the next guy in line for the trial (and error). But for now, there are only problems, not good problems for the bullpen. It goes without saying that it’d be a good use of resources to trade Anibal or McCarthy for a good bullpen piece, although I wouldn’t expect it.

Better Record Prediction?

I’d be a blind fool to bet that the Braves will have a better record after these reinforcements are called compared to today’s record. Ryan Flaherty is playing the best baseball of his life. So is Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Kurt Suzuki, and the entire starting pitching staff has been remarkable with a 3.04 ERA. And yes, for the most part, the bullpen has dodged walk after walk to secure wins. In short, while the players might get better, the production we’ve seen from nearly 1/2 of the roster that’s carried the team to 12 victories isn’t likely sustainable. But I’ll say this…I’ve been optimistic about this team from start and threw predictions out the door with so many unknown variables and I do think it’s possible for this team to push for 85-90 wins.

 

 

 

 

34 Comments

Thanks for this.

Is it possible that the braves keep Gohara down in AAA for a few (8) starts to get an additional year of control? It seems with the huge risk of starters the braves will probably just send him up as soon as he is ready—but if the braves starters are doing okay like now….maybe? Thanks for the what you wrote. I really enjoyed it.

Thanks for this.

Is it possible that the braves keep Gohara down in AAA for a few (8) starts to get an additional year of control? It seems with the huge risk of starters the braves will probably just send him up as soon as he is ready—but if the braves starters are doing okay like now….maybe? Thanks for the what you wrote. I really enjoyed it. I think 85 wins is possible—the actual physical schedule (flying to west coast then ny then Arizona) is really easier this year. The 3 city road trips are 2 in the 2st month and 1 right before asb where all the players are sprinting towards the break—most of the two city trips are pretty close to one another—goto fla play the rays and fish—goto Arizona and San Fran—Boston and phillly. They are grouped well which help in the long season. 85 wins at least!!…..a more fun team to watch day in and out at least.

Thanks for reading, Andy. Braves could most definitely manipulate Gohara’s time to gain an extra year of control but I wouldn’t bet on it. The hardest stretch of the year is already behind the Braves so I’m as optimistic as you are!

Gohara is currently on the MLB disabled list and is accruing major league service time. To get an extra year the Braves would need to activate him, option him to the minors, and leave him there approximately 7 weeks. Meanwhile, his salary drops from around $90k per month to $2k and you have an extremely unhappy ballplayer. All for an extra year of control that, as a pitcher, is a crapshoot as to value.

The lesson? Quit playing games and play the 25 best guys in the organization. If they are as good as we hope the financials will work out in the end.

Snowshine…like it or not, finances play A PART in MLB! AA would be HELLA FOOLISH if he didnt take finances into consideration when constructing a roster.

At the beginning of the year, I was in favor of calling up Acuna AS SOON as April 14th passed (when we’d gain a 7th year of control over Acuna). However Acuna’s struggles to start the year in Triple A..along with Tucker and Markakis seemingly doing a decent job of knocking in runs to start the year…makes IGNORING the financial implications of NOT WAITING until June 4th to call up Acuna…HELLA FOOLISH.

If The Braves wait until June 4th to call up Acuna…the Braves would, in effect, only owe Acuna a pre-arbitration salary for the rest of 2018 (102 games left from June 4th until the end of the season)..as well as three FULL seasons from 2019, 2020 and 2021!

However, if we call up Acuna anytime before June 4th…The Braves could very well be faced with potentially paying Acuna $10 mil plus in 2021 IF Acuna is a good as we expect him to be in the next 2 PLUS seasons (Kris Bryant..as a Super 2..settled for a $10.85 mil salary INSTEAD of The Cubs owing him around $600k in 2018). If Mike Olt had not broken his hand early in The 2015 Season (he was playing 3rd at the beginning of The 2015 Season for Chicago)..it is likely The Cubs would have kept Bryant down until his Super 2 passed.

Look, I’m not against paying players. In fact, I’m totally pushing for AA to go out and PAY BIG TIME to acquire the likes of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and Craig Kimbrel during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason. However the only way that it makes economic sense to get those three players…is to have PAYROLL FLEXIBILITY as a result of having pre-arbitration players making SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS during the next 2-3 years (in addition to having guys currently in Class A who are slated to come up 2020 or 2021..players like Joey Wentz, Ian Anderson, Bryce Wilson and Christian Pache who will have their own 3 year clocks of pre-arbitration control starting when they join The Braves).

If The Braves can avoid having to pay Acuna $10 mi plus in 2021….that would give AA additional payroll flexibility to fill any needs. Also, having that extra year of pre-arbitration control over Acuna..would give AA some leverage on getting Acuna to accept a potential long term contract with The Braves.

Let me put it to you this way: If The Braves were to call up Acuna tomorrow (there are 39 games Braves games between tomorrow and June 3rd)…The Braves would, in effect, potentially be paying $10 mil plus in 2021..for having Acuna on the roster for those 39 games in 2018! I’d rather see The Braves wait until June 4th. By then, he should be more than out of his season opening slump!

However, when it comes to someone like Gohara, whose already occurred service time last year..and who, when healthy, is a horse that our rotation needs….it makes little sense to ‘play pre-arbitration games’ with him. Whereas with Soroka….The Braves need him to get more innings/pitch deeper into games (in addition to having his Super 2 pass come June 4th).

I think Socolovich will go out before Sanchez or Wisler. And Wisler goes out before Sanchez (don’t the Braves need a Teheran whisperer?). But Sanchez does not have options so it’s either trade or keep. Are we not sure that both Wisler and Sanchez may be better than Moylan? The Braves should not trade McCarthy this year – he is the glue keeping the rotation together right now. Last year, granted the team was shakier, trading Garcia made the whole thing fall apart.

By the end of July, chances are that both Flaherty and Bautista will be replaceable. However, I think both Soroka and Riley will be September callups, if most of the team is continuing to perform. I don’t think we see either Allard or Wright this year. I do think Wright will be at AAA, though.

I don’t have a feel for what bullpen reinforcements might be available, but I bet Zach Britton could be had for second tier prospects. I also think much of the roster jam will need to be cleared by trading. You’ve already seen my recommendation on Markakis and others for Moustakas. Sanchez could net a reliever maybe but not a great one. Some combination of Markakis, Wisler, Sims, Weigel, Bautista, Sanchez, Flaherty, others on the 40-man (Ravin, Whitley, Hursch, R. Sanchez, McCreery), and other expendable prospects should be able to corral something decent either at 3B or reliever. Looking back at prior deadline rental deals, most of them are like this – maybe one good player and few marginal prospects for the main addition (unless you’re the Braves trying to acquire Mark Texeira or the Astros trying to acquire Randy Johnson).

Your analysis, except for not mentioning dropping Socolovich, is spot on. Thanks.

Roger……The Royals WILL NOT be taking back Nick Markakis in any potential Moustakas trade they may be willing to make this summer!

Markakis is making $10.5 mil..while Moustakas is only making $5.5 mil plus a few million in incentives in 2018. The Royals want PROSPECTS (potentially high ceiling prospects)…NOT an aging outfielder who is a Free Agent at the end of the season who is more expensive than Moustakas, lol! AA is not going to trade any of our best prospects for Moustakas (who is also a Free Agent after the year).

Unless KC is willing to come down on the price for Moustakas (I dont see that happening..especially with The Yankees woes/injuries at 3rd). Dude, it isnt like I ‘want’ to be right (I’d LOVE to be wrong on this)…however I just dont see The Braves being in the market for Moustakis..OR any trade piece that would require us giving up any of our best prospects.

Any improvements…will come from within…as well as AA getting ‘steal of a deal’ type acquisitions to fill the bullpen should injuries/ineffectiveness start to plague The Braves.

Ryan…one of the things that PLAGUES our bullpen (other than giving the LEADOFF WALK in virtually every 1st at-bat by whoever comes in)…is not having anyone other than Shane Carle who can pitch effectively for more than 1 inning. With Carle increasingly being given high leverage 8th inning work (meaning that you dont want to blow him from being able to pitch in back-to-back games by having him pitch more than one inning)…..it is ESSENTIAL that The Braves find someone who can pitch EFFECTIVELY in 2 or 3 inning stints (especially when a game goes into extra innings…OR when one of our starters ‘doesnt have it’ that night and we need someone who can possibly go 4 or 5 innings to SAVE our bullpen.

That is why a Annibal Sanchez or even Matt Wisler (IF he shows that his start against The Mets WASNT a fluke) could prove to be VITAL (especially come the dog days of summer)! Sure, AA will do the ‘Gwinnett Shuffle’…however it would be nice to have established bullpen guys that we can depend on who can get into a comfortable/established role routine!

1. Vizcaino
2. Minter
3. Winkler
4. Carle
5. Freeman
6. Moylan
7. Sanchez
8. Wisler/Biddle (having a 3 lefty in the pen who can go multiple innings, remember, Biddle was a starter before his arm injuries, could prove to be beneficial IF Biddle can establish himself. Meanwhile, Wisler may end up getting sent down to Triple A in order to keep him starting every 5 days…in case an injury/trade happens BEFORE it’s time to call up the likes of Soroka, Allard and/or Wright).

That’s why it’s so important that our starting pitching STEPS UP and quit wasting pitches when they get ahead of hitters 0-2…so they can go AT LEAST 7 innings in a good portion of their starts! That would go a long ways towards saving our bullpen!

By the way, when Gohara is activated and inserted in the starting rotation (I dont care how good Sanchez or Wisler has pitched..Gohara is OUR FUTURE…a WORKHORSE lefty type who has the ability to pitch DEEP into games consistently. Lefties like that DO NOT ‘grow on trees’). Miguel Socolovich will be IMMEDIATELY DEMOTED upon Gohara’s callup (which should happen by early May).

Ryan…this is an important 4 game series for The Braves. Not only should we SWEEP Cincy (3 out of 4 is the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM that we should win)…but these need to be ‘easy wins’ (meaning that our starters go 7 innings…while the bullpen only burns through 2 pitchers or so a game).

This Reds team is AWFUL! No let downs Braves! The Mets and Phillies both racked up wins against TERRIBLE teams like The Reds, Marlins and Tampa….now it’s our turn!

Hopefully the offense will pick up and score some runs…taking some pressure off our starters/the bullpen!

Ryan….The Braves Telecast just showed a view of how many people are at The Reds game tonight…it looked like The Opening Day Home Crowd from the movie “Major League”!

Bad loss by The Braves tonight. Come right out of the gate and lose 10-4. They made The Reds starting pitching look like Cy Young.

Of course Folty reverts back to his ‘needing 100 pitches to not even make it out of the 5th inning..AS WELL as getting pouty and throwing up A MEATBALL PITCH when a call goes against him’ self! How many times are Folty and company going to get 2 strikes on a hitter (whether it is 0-2 or 1-2) and end up walking the guy. So many of the ‘waste/trying to get the hitter chase a pitch’ pitches were WAY OUTSIDE (no way does the hitter chase it, that’s how bad the pitch was).

Then of course, the bullpen just BLOWS UP and walks everyone (whether it was Freeman walking the 1st hitter he faced in the bottom of the 6th..or Biddle throwing 4 straight balls to Votto that WERE NOT even close to being a strike). At least Vizcaino, Minter and Winkler all get ‘another day of rest’ (which will probably be an excuse for them coming out tomorrow and walking the 1st hitter they face tomorrow).

Miguel Socolovich…SHOULD NEVER pitch another pitch for The Braves again! DUDE FREAKING SUCKS! Ugly throwing motion…cant throw strikes…then gets LIT UP when he has to come in and throw A MEATBALL PITCH!. He could have at least given The Braves a chance to come back (a 3 run lead is not insurmountable in Cincy).

However, the punch and judy offense weakly goes down in the top of the 9th.

Folty set the tone for tonight with his HORRIFIC/I NEED 30 pitches to get out of the top of the 1st inning performance (so what if he didnt give up any runs….it was inevitable that tonight was going to be a short night for him/that The Reds would eventually get to him AND the bullpen).

Sanchez needs to get healthy soon….hopefully Gohara’s next two starts go well and he can be activated in early May. Socolovich and Biddle should not be pitching in meaningful games.

As I’ve been saying all along….the determining factor to whether The Braves stay contenders in 2018…will be 1. How deep in games The Starting Pitchers can go..2. Whether our best relievers get BURNED OUT.

Our offense, which doesnt have very much power in it (Freddie Freeman only has 2 homers/Markakis hit his 3rd homer tonight/Suzuki has 3 homers/Tucker has 3 homers). Our 3-4-5-6 hitters have COMBINED to hit 11 homers this year! That’s not going to CUT IT! Sure, we’re near the top of The NL in runs scored…however certain players ARE NOT going to continue hitting well over .300 for the rest of 2018. When those averages come down (Swanson and Flaherty went a combined 0-7 against The Reds tonight)….runs will be harder to come by.

Without sufficient power…our pitching is going to have to keep us in games…or we’re going to struggle to stay over .500 (while I dont think that we’ll fall to the 77-78 wins range that many predicted The Braves to have….it’ll be tough to put together significant winning streaks IF our pitching doesnt give us a lot of chances to win 3-2/4-3 type games).

The bench has to improve…that back end of the bullpen has to improve (again, without sufficient power..we HAVE to squeeze out contributions from ALL of The 25 man roster…or we’re going to struggle come summer). That’s why we need to get the likes of Flowers, Sanchez, Gohara and even Bautista to get on the roster ASAP and DUMP the dead weight that go by the names of Charlie Culberson, Peter Burjouis, Miguel Socolovich AND Jesse Biddle. I really feel that those additions will make The Braves HELLA STRONGER 1-25 on the roster!

If Freeman and Moylan continue to struggle…they may have to be replaced as well (whether from within OR via trades by AA. However every contending team in MLB will be looking for good middle relievers..which will only drive up the price for them).

Still…12-9 to start the year (with Acuna and the other injured players I mentioned) not on the roster….is BEYOND what I expected. While being critical….I’m also HOPEFUL (because I see POTENTIAL in this team…in addition to being OPTIMISTIC about the possible summer contributions of the likes of Soroka, Allard and Wright. If our current starting 5 comes around to show some consistency by The Summer….perhaps Soroka and Wright can be multi-inning/high leverage relievers. Maybe Max Fried shows he’s ready to be an Andrew Miller-type late inning reliever. Or, if we have to replace a current starter by The Summer, Soroka will be a shot in the arm for our rotation. He pitched a 7 inning, complete game shutout tonight against Rochester).

Hypothetical braves starting lineup/bench/rotation/bullpen IF we can get everyone back healthy (as well as Acuna) by early May:

Starting rotation:

1. Teheran
2. Folty
3. McCarthy
4. Newcomb
5. Gohara

Bullpen:

1. Vizcaino
2. Minter
3. Winkler
4. Carle
5. Freeman
6. Moylan
7. Sanchez
8. Fried (or Wisler IF Wisler shows in his next 2 starts that what he did against The Mets was not a fluke). However I’d like Fried given a chance (perhaps TOMORROW after Socolovich is DEMOTED) to be the late inning/multi inning/high leverage lefty who can develop into an Andrew Miller-like role!

Starting 8:

1. Albies….2nd
2. Swanson…SS
3. Freddie….1st
4. Acuna….LF (at home) RF (on the road)
5. Markakis…RF (at home) LF (on the road)
6. Flowers/Suzuki…Catcher
7. Inciarte…centerfield
8. Flaherty/Bautista (Flaherty against righties/Bautista against lefties)

That lineup provides great lefty-right balance. Inciarte hitting leadoff…dude’s basically a singles hitter. We need OUR BEST HITTERS getting the bulk of the at-bats when the lineup gets turned over!

Bench:

1. Tucker…(lefty power)
2. Flowers/Suzuki..(righty power)
3. Carmago…(super utility infielder/pinch hitter)
4. Flaherty/Bautista (Bautista righty power/Flaherty lefty ability to grind out a pinch hitting appearance to get on base via bloop hit or draw a walk).

That 25 man roster….would give Snitker PLENTY of options (whether pinch hitting OR who to bring in from the bullpen).

Then come post All Star Break….Soroka, Allard and Wright all could be brought up to fill a need (either in the rotation OR bullpen).

Of course…all that is predicated on our guys STAYING HEALTHY!

Regardless, when this season is over…our lack of power will be ANSWERED..when AA goes FREE AGENT SHOPPING! Just wait and see how our lineup is constructed in 2019 (with hopefully A NEW MANAGER)!

Fans and media are always so quick to make these grand ideas of a bench full of 2 WAR players. It doesn’t work that way. A player, like Peter Bourjos, is a perfect 25th man player. He can provide speed off the bench, above average defense, and will get an occasional hit, even though he only gets about 4-5 at bats a week, and usually against the opponents best relief pitchers. He’s cheap and when used properly, can be effective. He already won a game for them with a bases loaded, 2 rbi single, late in a game that gave the Braves a 5-3 lead. Bautista is done. To give him major at bats over younger guys is just plain dumb. He’s older and it’s been showing now for 2 years. I have no idea why the rush to bring up Acuna? The team is winning now. Don’t mess with it until it is needed. Odds are Acuna will struggle at this level at such a young age. It’s very rare to see a kid that age succeed. He needs more at bats in AAA.

I agree with the basic premise of your statement, Nick- no club gets to have a bench full of 2 WAR players.

I couldn’t disagree with you more on Bourjos, though. He wouldn’t be the 26th man on a 25 man roster, if I were GM. He’s just a terrible, terrible hitter. Lane Adams offered so much more off the bench, as would a number of other guys. I don’t get the appeal he has.

King, there’s more to a player than just hitting. He’s not the best hitter, but he is not a crap hitter either. He’s off to a poor start, mostly because of his lack of opportunity. Just 2 years ago, in only 355 at bats, he got 32 xbh. He brings solid defense and late inning pinch running in a tight game. I can find at least 20 other players on MLB rosters that he’s better than. As soon as the Braves release him, someone will pick him up. With all that said, I understand your side of the argument. I really do. I’ve just followed his career since day 1, and injuries to his wrist twice, hamstring and hip have hampered his production and playing time.

Nick, you have a fair point- there is more to a player than just his bat. And I’ll admit, if a guy isn’t a butcher with the glove, I’ll always be biased toward the better hitter. I feel like Bourjos’ bat is so poor now though that it negates whatever else he might bring to the club in terms of contributions.

I haven’t followed him closely, but be it injuries, or something else- he hasn’t had an OBP above .300 since 2013. If the Braves were an AL club, you could maybe say we don’t need him to hit, as long as he can run and catch. The Braves as constructed are already at a disadvantage though a lot of nights in terms of bench depth. You almost have to have two guys on there who can hit for PH duty, a versatile UT type, and a back-up catcher. The only way you can keep a guy like Bourjos is to go with a 7 man pen. And the way the Braves have pitched out of the pen to start the year, they probably will need 9 guys out there.

King, can’t disagree with most of what you said. Bourjos, in his defense this year, isn’t even seeing the field more than 3 times a week and 4 at bats. In 2011, before his injuries, he was 5.0 WAR player. They even played Trout in LF and kept Bourjos in C.F. He was a GG finalist that year. Then the injuries piled up and he got into some bad habits at the plate. He’s never adapted and it seems nobody seems to work with him on his hitting. Or maybe he’s just not listening to advice? Either way, his time in Atlanta is short, and his career may be in jeopardy as well. If he can hit .260-270, he could play somewhere, but sub .200 won’t fly.

In my opinion, a player like Peter Bourjos becomes obsolete when Ronald Acuna is promoted. There will no longer be a need for a defensive substitution and no matter the speed, a better bat off the bench is needed much more than a 1-dimensional pinch runner that hits like a pitcher.

Ryan, I don’t think anyone is stating Bourjos brings more upside than Acuna. I would never let a 31 year old back up hold back a 20 year old prospect. However, Acuna is not ready. He needs about 300 more at bats in AAA to get a good read on whether he is MLB ready. I’ve seen too many players get called up too early, then struggle for a few years trying to gain confidence. I just don’t want the Braves to rush Acuna when he’s not needed now. If and when the team starts to fade, and they look like the playoffs are out of reach, then promote him when the pressure isn’t so high.

Nick, not sure how Acuna is not “needed now”. Acuna at his best is needed any time, especially now. I can hear the argument that we should wait until his OPS is over .600 or .700, but he is needed as soon as he is ready. It sure didn’t hurt Machado when the O’s brought him up mid-season in 2012 to help get into the playoffs. If Acuna really is a generational talent then he needs to be up here in situations that can lead to winning pennants. Besides, bringing him up this year early enough to get over the jitters will lead to a better year next year when we will be counting on him more. Trout’s first year was pretty mediocre but he came out the gates like Secretariat the next year. Acuna blasted the minors last year, blew through both the AFL and Spring Training and THEN got told he’s not ready. That had to be pretty discouraging nad he has to be pressing now. Personally, I think he’ll relax after he gets to the majors where he wants to be.

Roger, Acuna wouldn’t be taking Bourjos’ place. Yes, Bourjos would be released, but Tucker is the guy Acuna would take at bats away from. Tucker has been arguably the 2nd best producer behind Albies this year. They can dump Bourjos, but they better hope to God Acuna is ready.

Nick, Tucker is coming back to Earth along with Markakis (and soon Flaherty will, too). Look at Tucker’s splits. Already he is a great platoon bat and needs a RH partner.

Ideally, I’d see Acuna in left, Markakis traded, and Tucker and Bautista split RF. That is, until we can buy someone like Bryce Harper. 🙂 Barring that, Tucker is a much better bench piece than Bourjos. Both Flaherty and Camargo play passable OF (and better 3B than Bautista).

Roger, I for one don’t think the answer is an unproven 20 year old in LF, full time, and a 37 year old washed up veteran in RF. I think it’s way too soon to give up on Tucker and Flaherty as full time players.

Granted that Socolovich needs to go out, but the reason he’s up in the first place is that there’s no one else to try. Next man up is Whitley but not sure he’s ready yet. Also, Biddle is not part of the chaff; he’s part of the expected core.He has not pitched all that bad. Granted that he didn’t help in the 6th last night but he pitched a clean 7th and he’s been a GB machine.

There’s another thing that it’s time to consider, too. What’s the common thread of all the walks? It’s not just the relievers but the starters too. The common thread is no Flowers. Flowers seems to be able to add a mirror and a little smoke to the pitching staff. If Flowers had been catching and turned 2-5% of the balls into strikes with his framing then some of these awful collapses would suddenly turn into miraculous escapes. If a 4-0 count can be turned into a 3-1 count, even if a batter has a .700 OBA on 3-1 pitches, you have 30% better chance of getting an out vs a walk. That’s a 30% chance of getting out of an inning instead of walking in a run. That would extend the starters and make all the relievers more effective.

When Gohara comes back, it will be time to see if Moylan must go or not (if Whitley sticks). I think Wisler is better than Moylan regardless. Once Biddle is better established, Freeman will become expendable if he can’t turn his ball/strike ratio around. When Gohara returns, expect a bullpen of Viz, Minter, Winkler, Carle, Biddle, Wisler, Sanchez and one of Whitley/Moylan/Freeman barring trades for a better reliever. Whitley was supposed to be the original long man and may yet be if Wisler and/or Sanchez are traded.

I believe there’s something to the absence of Tyler Flowers, too.

I watched the game last night on a Reds station, and there was a guy calling the game that used to be a pitcher… I can’t recall his name. Anyway, after Folty didn’t get that call he wanted in the 5th, and served up the dinger… they were talking about the pitch calling sequence. The guy brought up how, after working down in the zone most of the night, it can be hard on a pitcher to be asked to change his plain and go up like that. And with Folty having a bit of a fragile psyche, maybe that’s something a guy like Flowers wouldn’t have done.

Flowers’ pitch framing ability is also sorely missed on that team. Some of those calls looked close. I’d imagine as bad as the Braves have been with issuing walks, they’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt on many of those calls though.

I’m not saying Suzuki is a bad catcher. Flowers is just so good at what he does.

If/when they make any changes in the pen, Freeman needs to be the first to go though. He’s just awful. He’s a thrower, not a pitcher. I’d ride with Moylan for awhile, however.

Roger makes a brilliant point about flowers. not only is it the pitch framing he offers but the confidence of the pitchers gain a boost when they believe they are throwing to someone that can and will steal them a few strikes a game. i firmly believe that our bullpen is getting exhausted and rightly so. we have got to bring more consistency to the table. we have players that have potential and are ready to show it. but for some odd reason we keep inserting barely replacement level players into games. (socolovich, ravin, bourjos, culberson) they can and have played major league ball. what they lack is potential. let some guys get a few spot starts. a few innings and rotate that potential in and out. let them build their confidence. help them realize they made it and prove they belong.

Brandon, you are absolutely correct, but that’s the difference between a team “coming out of a rebuild” and a team that’s “ready to win”. That’s why this year has been frustrating and will continue to be so all year. This team looks like a potential winner but there is not enough depth, some prospects are not quite ready, and the payroll is a mess with a lot of dead money. The real genius that AA could bring is continuing to tinker like he has but with a little more real potential. Make a deal for a couple of quality rentals for 3B and relief (i.e. not just the Bautistas and Moylans of the world) with some of the excess prospects and 40-man players and even the expendables from the active roster. Doing that this year could turn us into a legitimate playoff possible team leaving a lot of resources to go for broke next year and build us into a WS winner. This is how AA could prove to me he’s really competent at his job.

prime example of what i was talking about coming to fruition. fried getting called up for some relief appearances. even if he has a bad outing or two. i feel he would benefit more from the experience than socolovich or ravin or even ramirez coming out and having a bad outing bc its almost expected of them

True and Fried has been up before. Fried is an exception to “the prospects aren’t ready yet” and he’s caught in the middle. I would have rather seen Fried get Sanchez’s starts than Wisler but Wisler is making the decision look good. AA has talked about using prospects in relief but he is being torn about giving them more innings in AAA. There seems to be a lot of gray area in many of these decisions and this whole year is going to be one frustration after another for fans.

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