Friday, August 3, 2012

Howdy Paul and Reed!

So, shortly after my last post, which was about a random prospect last Sunday, our wireless internet router from Verizon met our daughter and our daughter won.  She ripped the cord out, tearing out the little metal thing that the charger plugs up to.  After the battery in the router was exhausted, our internet was out.  By the way, the MLB trading deadline is an awful time for your internet to go out.

Last Monday, Atlanta made a deal with the Chicago Cubs that was not nixed by one of the players acquired as they picked up Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson.  In exchange, Atlanta said good-bye to a pair of pitchers in Aroyds Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman

Maholm has been a solid pick-up for the Cubs this year after leaving Pittsburgh as a free agent.  The left-hander inked a 1 year, $4.25M deal with a club option for $6.5M next season and has posted a 4.13 FIP and a 4.16 SIERA so far this year.  One thing Chicago has continued from last year's season with the Pirates is that Maholm is throwing is slider a lot.  The result has been a few less groundballs as people are getting under the pitch and when it's not moving, it can and will leave the park.  However, his control has become a true asset and his K/BB rate is the best of his career.

Overall, the opinion on Maholm is valid.  You can plug him into the fourth/fifth spot in the rotation, get a durable arm (26 or more starts in six consecutive years entering this one), and your defense will have to perform.  Maholm is not going to make the top of your rotation formidable, but he rarely have the Mike Minor/Randall Delgado type of game where he gets beat up early and gets removed, burning your pen.

Johnson made my Mining for Gold list and has already appeared in a pair of games for the Braves.  For fans that love the cliche term "gamer," Johnson is your guy.  There is nothing notably impressive about Johnson, but he does a lot of things well enough.  He hits lefties, a quality many on this team struggle with.  He won't walk much, but he will get hit-by-a-pitch.  He's not overly fast, but will swipe a base and play decent defense in the outfield, especially in the corners.  Overall, you get a good talent with Johnson and he was the kind of player the Braves needed.

The package it took could be considerable or forgettable.  Chapman has been in the system since 2006 and has been almost exclusively used as a reliever.  If Chapman was a lefty, he would have made it to the bigs already.  As a righty, he gives you K's at a great rate while also struggling with his control.  If he gives up less free passes, he will be a pretty solid arm out of any pen.  Still just 25.

Of course, the jewel of this deal was Vizcaino, the hard-throwing righty who is missing this season with Tommy John.  For Braves fans who look at the package the Braves received, the fact that they gave up one of the four big arms to do so seemed like a massive overpay.  However, maybe we as fans blew the idea that teams won't give up big talent in deadline deals anymore out of proportion.  Sure, you might not be able to get a draft choice in compensation, but you still want to win and prospects aren't helping you win today, especially injured ones.  Giving the choice between not upgrading his team and keeping all of his prospects and the opposite, Frank Wren made the right choice and gave up the right prospect.

Last year, Vizcaino was untouchable, but many scouts seem to believe that his future is in the bullpen.  Those guys are very valuable, but as much as we were disappointed to trade off Tim Spooneybarger and Joey Devine, did it really matter?  The value of a league average starter and a young, high-ceiling prospect who might be best used out of the pen will never work in the favor of the prospect.  Maybe Vizcaino becomes a starter and if so, this deal starts to look worse.  However, remember that the value of Chapman is really not large and the Braves essentially acquired two useful major leaguers for an injured prospect.  Also, that prospect threw a career-high 114.1 innings last year, hardly the typical huge amount of innings that we expect to possibly land a youngster in injury hell the next season.  In addition, Vizcaino missed over two months two years ago.  I think the Braves had enough to be concerned about. 

Overall, my first thoughts were not warm on this deal and if I had internet at the time, maybe I would have blasted it.  A few days later, I like this deal.  It was the one the Braves had to make. 

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