Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wren E-Mails Rizzo

Here at Walk-Off Walk, we have obtained these e-mail records from about 2:30 this afternoon as the Nationals were in the midst of falling behind 10-1 to the Tigers.

From: Frank Wren
Subject: Got a question about a player's availability

Listen, I know this season hasn't gone the way you guys wanted.  I really admire how much you have tried, but it's time to accept facts. With that mind, we could use a starter in the wake of Tim Hudson's injury.  How about this guy you have... Jordan Zimmermann?  Seems like a nice righty arm.  I'll take him off your hands so you can give Stephen Strasburg a mega-extension.  How about Kameron Loe?  I just designated him for assignment, but only because of a number crunch on the team.  Badly wanted to keep him.  Also, I'll add Tyler Pastornicky.  Plucky, gritty guy with the will to win.  And you know what...I shouldn't, but I'll let you rip me off.  Matt Kimbrel.  Yes, that Matt Kimbrel.  Let's get this done before the deadline.

From: Mike Rizzo
Subject: Re: Got a question about a player's availability

Fuck you.

Twitter Feed: July 31

Last day before the non-waiver deadline.  Even if Atlanta doesn't make a move today, I would be pretty surprised if a deal isn't made in August, even if it comes on the 31st.

-Forgot to mention that Reed Johnson hit the DL yesterday.  The Braves announced the promotion of Todd Cunningham.  Before the callup, Cunningham was slashing his way to a .279/.357/.352 clip with a 101 RC+.  He did produce slightly better the previous season with the Mississippi Braves, OPSing .767 and a 116 RC+.  He's a little cold right now, OPSing .535 over his last nine games.  Cunningham's essentially the same guy he replaced on the roster, except he's a switch-hitter.  He's fairing better against lefties this year, much like Johnson.  However, since 2011, he's hit righties better.

-From David O'Brien, B.J. Upton will begin his rehab assignment with Gwinnett today for at least three games.  Jordan Schafer hits the farm this weekend.  Hopefully, Upton stays at Gwinnett until he starts hitting or reaches his rehab limit (whichever comes soonest).

-Mark Bowman has this to add to the twittersphere: "Gerald Laird is here today, but it's highly doubtful he'll be available. He's spent the past 4 days in pain, trying to pass a kidney stone."  Well, that sucks.  Last year, I had a kidney stone and I acted like a kid dealing with pain that day.

-Adam Rubin of ESPN reported that the Braves affiliation this fall in the Arizona Fall League will be the Scottsdale Scorpions.

-Fun link from Stephen Shaw.  He has a picture from the last walk-off triple by the Braves.  Note who was the winner for the Braves.

-If you haven't seen it, please, please - PLEASE - see this!!!!!  h/t to @keithlaw.  And major props for Chad Qualls for giving us this wonderful video.

Did the Braves Miss Out on Peavy?

To start off, I will immediately point out that it is impossible to know what teams were interested in Jake Peavy.  While the Braves may have been one and other teams like the A's, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks have been suggested as suitors for the right-hander, you must take rumors with a massive grain of salt this time of year.  How much interest any of the aforementioned teams or any other teams for that matter had in Peavy is speculative.  Frank Wren may have never called the White Sox about the availability of Peavy, despite a wealth of reports that suggested otherwise.

However, if I may rosterbate all over you for a second, if the Atlanta Braves were interested in Peavy, watching the parade of quantity over quality that it took to acquire Peavy must have been disheartening.  Boston did give up Jose Iglesias, the second best player in the deal, but he didn't even go to the White Sox.  Instead, he was included to get the Tigers involved as they sought out a replacement for the likely suspended Jhonny Peralta.  In doing so, the Red Sox secured the outfield prospect Avisail Garcia from the Tigers (along with a minor league reliever that Boston kept) and sent Garcia with three prospects to the White Sox to get Peavy.

The problem, at least from the standpoint of this Braves fan, is the three prospects were not that good.  That's a relative term, but Cleuluis Rondon is a glove-first middle infielder with a 138 at-bats at A-ball.  Not even high-A ball, just A-ball.  That means he's young and the scouts probably believe he has potential to be a starter in the majors, but that's at least three years away and to this point, he hasn't hit that well (though his .277 AVG this season and .681 OPS are the best of his career).

Grabbing a guy from the lower minors who might be a high-reward guy would be fine when getting prospects you can count on a little more.  But the White Sox failed to get that.  20 year-old right-hander Francellis Montas is also in A-ball (the BoSox have three A clubs) and has gotten whipped around pretty good this season.  He's getting strikeouts, but also giving up a lot of hits.  Jeffrey Wendelken doesn't turn this turd of a deal into a coup for the White Sox either.  A minor league reliever with nice numbers is what you add to a great deal for a cherry-on-the-top.  The White Sox's best prospect in this deal came from the Tigers.

Abysmal take for the White Sox, but this isn't a White Sox blog.  Last Friday, in the aftermath of the Tim Hudson injury, I wrote about how Peavy could (and should) be a target for the Braves.  I was willing to offer Christian Bethancourt, Joey Terdoslavich, Tommy La Stella, and a player to be named later.  If the Braves entered into a bidding war with other teams vying for Peavy, maybe Kris Medlen comes onto the table with the White Sox kicking in $5M next year.

Boy, would I have gotten ripped off.

Again, who knows if Wren had much interest in Peavy and Garcia was ranked as the #74 overall prospect entering 2013 by Baseball America and John Sickels ranks him as a B prospect with poor strikezone judgement.  None of the other prospects were ranked.  But you would have thought the Braves could have come calling with a better starting package than the ones the Red Sox ultimately gave up.  Only a few days ago, there were reports that the Braves were balking at the demands for Peavy.  If this offer that the White Sox ultimately accepted was the best offered, the Braves seriously missed the boat.

I believe you never regret the deal you don't make.  Atlanta kept all of their players and whether or not Peavy would have been a big player down the stretch for them is debatable.  Some feel he is on his last legs, some (like me) believe he can still be a guy capable of solidifying the top of a team's rotation.  The Braves, unless something considerable happens before the deadline, seem content to stay pat and I felt that was reasonable.  However, if that package is the going-rate for a good starter...maybe the Braves need to kick the tires on every possibly available starter.

For that matter, hey Rick Hahn, that Peavy offer I suggested is also on the table for Chris Sale.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Finally Comfortable

Andrelton Simmons is a young pup.  Just over three years ago, the Curacao native was playing (and pitching) for Western Oklahoma Junior College.  Almost 14 months ago, he arrived on the scene, straight from Mississippi.  On September 4th, he celebrates just his 24th birthday.  I'm trying to say he's young and his career is just beginning.

Miscast as a leadoff hitter, Simmons seemed to put too much pressure on himself to perform on par with other leadoff hitters.  Considering that Fredi Gonzalez seems to think the only two leadoff hitters in history are Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman, I guess Simmons was reasonably putting a good deal of pressure on himself to succeed.  However, Simmons' profile was not the kind of profile you would expect out of a leadoff hitter.  He's hyper aggressive at the plate leading to one of the smallest K% in the game at 7.6%, third lowest in the NL.  To put that in another way, 1 in every 5 at-bats by an NL team ends in strikeout.  On the flipside, his aggressiveness has led him to just 5.1% rate, 12th lowest.  For people who complain about strikeouts and needing to put the ball in play, Simmons is your guy.  He leads the National League by putting the ball in play 84% of the time he steps up to the plate.

His numbers as a leadoff hitter were awful with a slashline of .223/.261/.338 in 61 starts out of the first-slot in the order.  Only twice did he leadoff a game with a walk.  To put that in another way, he had more leadoff homers (three) than leadoff walks.  Simmons current skill set just didn't perform well in the leadoff slot.

Simba's struggles, along with the struggles of Jason Heyward, led to a lot of quick two outs in the first.  A good offense will struggle to score runs without baserunners.  Having a .261 OBP out of leadoff slot from the guy you most use as your number one hitter is a destroyer of offenses.  Now, for most teams, they could not withstand that horrific work from the top of the lineup, but because of Atlanta's power, I believe they were still able to score a good deal of runs.  Regardless, you don't need to make things harder on yourself.

In defense of Gonzalez, his decision-making wasn't exactly all on him.  Most managers would have looked at the players available and batted Simmons leadoff believing it made the most sense.  And when Gonzalez started Jordan Schafer, he would push Simmons lower (either second if Schafer started in right or at the bottom of the lineup).

But without Schafer, Simmons was the everyday leadoff hitter.  That was until Saturday, the second game of the Cardinals series when Gonzalez dropped Simmons to 8th in the order and let Heyward leadoff.  He said shortly after that he had "succumb" to...well, he didn't exactly specify.  However, the twitterverse went crazy in favor of the move.

Now, Atlanta hasn't won the last three games BECAUSE of the move.  I can't say that.  But Heyward has looked comfortable in the role and Simmons has looked ultra-comfortable.  He delivered a big two-run double to beat the Cardinals 2-0 on Saturday as part of a two-hit game.  He added two more hits the following day and on Monday, picked up his third hit in the ninth inning, a walk-off triple (maybe that should be the new name of the blog...).

Overall, as bad as Simmons has been this season in the leadoff slot, he has been more-than-adequate elsewhere.  If you take out his at-bats from leadoff, he's a .295/.329/.436 hitter.  With that glove, that's a massively valuable player.

I'm a stats guy.  If I can't quantify it, I tend to leave it alone.  However, I think it's pretty clear that Simmons is much better suited to bat lower in the order where he can be the hitter he currently is.  An aggressive hitter with pop.  That's not a leadoff hitter, but it's definitely a good bat lower in the order where he can stop worrying about taking pitches, which right now isn't in his character.  That's not to say he won't become a better hitter.  He's a pup, remember?  But for now?  Let him be who he is.  The Braves offense will thank you for it.

Twitter Feed: July 30

Getting closer and closer to the deadline.  Everything you read on twitter about trade rumors should be taken with a MASSIVE grain of salt over the next few days.

-Ken Rosenthal tweeted something that sounded absurd.  For a second, I thought he was trolling us or his account had been hacked.  The Rangers apparently did their due diligence and came calling about Brian McCann.  Really?  Needless to say, the Braves didn't seem all that interested.  For more, you can scroll down on his notes column.

-In a move that was pretty expected, the Braves DFA'd Kameron Loe according to Mark Bowman.  Loe only appeared in two games.  In the first one, his sinker wasn't awful. In the second one, it was awful.  That's all you need to know right now.

-One of the strangest parts of Brandon Beachy's return was that Paul Maholm was placed on the 15-day DL.  Maholm had been, I guess, twiddling his thumbs since July 20th, when he left the White Sox game with a wrist injury.  Since then, the Braves played short for...some reason.  Well, partly, it was because the Braves were going to place Maholm on the DL when Alex Wood was brought back to replace him in the staff.  However, Tim Hudson's injury forced Huddy to the DL first for Wood.  Crazy that Maholm wasn't DL'd at some point, though.

-Rowland's Office, a superb blog, tweeted about their newest column.  It is a wonderful look at the $160M contract that the Braves ultimately didn't pay for everyone's favorite ballplayer - Alex Gonzalez.  Remember to follow @RowlandsOffice.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Howdy Scott! See ya Cory!

In the offseason, the Braves plucked Jordan Walden from the bullpen of the Los Angeles Angels in the Outfield from Anaheim Mighty Ducks.  Being that Walden has worked out so well, the Braves tried their luck again and today acquired Scott Downs from the Angels for minor league pitcher Cory Rasmus.  When a player is acquired, I do a Howdy column.  When a player leaves, I do a See ya column.  When it happens at the same time, it's CROSSOVER TIME!

I wrote about Downs back on July 23.  I didn't go too far into him because that allows me the opportunity to write more today.  Since joining the Angels before 2011 on a 3-year, $15M contract, the left-hander from Kentucky has continued his run as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game.  Over a career that began in 2000, Downs has limited lefties to a slash line of .207/.273/.295.  However, that line is actually warped by early-career struggles.  He has been even more dominant since 2010.

Here's something funny.  You have to go back to August 11th, 2011 for the last time a left-handed hitter homered off Downs.  Of course, giving up a homer, even a Grand Slam, to Robinson Cano is nothing to be ashamed about.

The domination by Downs against lefties can not be exaggerated.  Only three players have limited lefties to a lower batting average since 2010.  Getting Downs is a huge lift for the Braves.  It allows them to not count on Alex Wood to be an important part of their bullpen and it helps limit the role Luis Avilan has to play for the Braves down the stretch.  Downs is not a guy having a nice run.  As far as relievers on the market go, very few are better at what they do than Downs.

On the other hand, the loss of Rasmus was a minimal cost for Atlanta.  The 38th overall pick of the 2006 draft struggled with his health early in his career, missing all of 2007 and most of 2008.  He only appeared in 51.2 innings during 2009 with Danville before finally enjoying some sustained health the following season, pitching a career high 124.1 innings. I saw him on opening day in 2011 for the Lychburg Hillcats and remarked to my wife that he might be a good reliever down the line.  He again missed a good portion of the season with injuries.

Having enough of Rasmus as a starter, the Braves sent him to the bullpen to open 2012 with Mississippi.  He struck out 62 in 58.1 innings, though he did have some wildness with 32 walks.  The Braves saw him as vulnerable in the Rule 5 draft and added him to the 40-man roster in the offseason.  In 2013, he took over the closer role in Gwinnett and saved 14 games with them.  He also made his major league debut, though he found out hitters at this level can destroy fastballs (4 HR in 6.2 ING).

Rasmus has potential, but you can say that about anyone.  There has been little in his numbers to get excited about at this point.  He can make hitters miss, but has yet to display the control that makes that ability a tremendous skill.  With that said, he's still young at 25 and can have a good career in the majors.

Regardless of what Rasmus does, this is a win for the Braves.  Getting Downs for a minor league reliever who won't make any top prospect lists is a great pick-up for Wren and the Braves.

Twitter Feed: July 29

-Yesterday was fun even before the game began.  There were reports that Jake Peavy had packed up things and a trade was imminent.  Soon after that, the Braves and A's were the teams most likely to bring Peavy on board.  That was followed by tweets ESPN's Jim Bowden and FOX's Ken Rosenthal that the Braves weren't in on anything.  According to what people think the White Sox are offering for Peavy, a package equal to or greater than the package the Rangers gave up for Matt Garza, I am less keen on making a trade than I was a few days ago when I wrote about Peavy.

-Speaking of Rosenthal, this morning he tweeted about his new column that includes a few lines about the Braves.  He wrote about how the Braves are getting "terrific work" from Jordan Walden, Luis Avilan, and Anthony Varvaro.  One of these is not like the other.  While Varvaro's 3.61 FIP is good enough, I worry about him.  Hix xFIP is about 80 points higher than his FIP and a 1.5 K/BB doesn't inspire much confidence.  While people talk up the bullpen's ERA ranking, which is first, I look at the bullpen and wonder if beyond the top three relievers, the Braves have guys to count on in high leverage situations.

-In Gondeee's latest update, he also mentioned the heavy workload on Walden, Avilan, and closer Craig Kimbrel.  It's enough to give a guy fits when you remember the breaking down of the pen late in the season two years ago from Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, and Kimbrel.  O'Ventbrel was dominant until September, which magically coincided with the epic 2011 collapse.  Follow gondeee at @gondeee.

-Back to Rosenthal's column, he mentioned Chris Johnson's BABIP, something I mentioned here earlier this month.  While Johnson's .421 BABIP is extremely high, only Joey Votto has a higher BABIP since the beginning of 2010 (.370 to .366).  Not that Johnson is highly comparable to Votto (23 WAR to 3 WAR should make that clear), but Johnson's style of hitting seems to result in a high BABIP.  Not that he will maintain a .421 BABIP, but this far into the season, it's less a fluke and more a sign of a player who doesn't live by the same rules most players do.  He also is a Joe Simpson favorite - 34 hits to left, 42 hits to center, 28 hits to right.  Seriously, Simpson wouldn't need Viagra looking at that.

-Elsewhere, this tweet mentions that Kimbrel and John Smoltz are the only closers in franchise history to have three 30-save seasons.  Kimbrel, who has 120 saves, passed Mark Wohlers for third all-time and needs 21 more to tie Gene Garber for the second most saves in franchise history.  Smoltz holds the record with 154 saves.

-One of my trade targets isn't coming to Atlanta, per Ken Rosenthal.  According to him, the Tigers have acquired Jose Veras, who I wrote about a few weeks ago.

-Mark Bowman tweets this goody.  The Braves "hit .224 w/ RISP in their first 80 games.  They have hit .325 w/ RISP in the 25 games that have followed."  It's a long season.  Don't focus on splits that normalize over time.

Homegrown

Tonight, Brandon Beachy makes his first start for the Atlanta Braves this season.  His arrival is significant for a few reasons.  Notably, the Braves could use a shot in the arm to add to the duo of Mike Minor and Julio Teheran, who have pitched like the class of the Braves.  The Braves could be in for a major lift if Beachy's next two month resemble his first two months last season (13 starts, 2.00 ERA, 3.49 FIP).  If Beachy looks good, the Braves might not even consider going for a starter before the deadline.

But, for the people who spend their time attempting to develop as clear of a scouting report on a player as possible, the arrival of Beachy is a true testament of scouting, player analysis, and player development.  With Beachy in the fold, the Atlanta Braves rotation will include five players who began their professional career with the Braves.

Unlike high draft choices like Minor and Alex Wood or a noteworthy international signing like Teheran, Beachy is the reason why scouts are still around and why player development receives a large budget by the best teams.  In 2008, major league teams drafted 1,504 players in that year's June draft.  Beachy wasn't one of them.  However, after the draft, Beachy received a $20,000 bonus to sign with the Braves, much more than even a 20th rounder.  Clearly, the Braves saw something from the get-go with Beachy, who was rarely used as a pitcher at Indiana Wesleyan University.  Still, the chances that an American undrafted free agent would reach the majors is very low.  And to beat out the seventh overall selection of the 2009 draft (Minor) during spring training in 2011?  No one could have seen that coming.

Beachy is just another shining example of what the Braves system has done in the past few seasons.  While many complain now about the lack of impact potential in the minor league system, when they do, they ignore all of the graduates the minor league system has given the Braves since the beginning of 2010.

2010 - P's Kris Medlen and Jonny Venters; OF Jason Heyward
2011 - P's Beachy, Craig Kimbrel, and Minor; 1B Freddie Freeman
2012 - P's Luis Avilan and Randall Delgado; SS Andrelton Simmons
2013 - P's Teheran and Wood; C Evan Gattis

That doesn't include the pieces the system has developed that have been used in trades.  Any system that graduates 3-4 players a year to the major league squad is due to go through a down period.  But the early returns on the last two draft classes are good with several of those players improving upon their preseason scouting reports.

Paul Maholm is on his way back, but until he does or a trade shakes things up, the rotation is entirely home-grown.  That is a true accomplishment.  If you are down about where the system ranks in minor league rankings, try to understand that the same system has done some amazing things in recent years and if early returns mean anything, the system will bounce back quickly.  In the mean time, the recent graduates will help bridge the gap.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

#killthewin

MLB Network's Brian Kenny has been pushing a new movement through his access to both MLB Now and MLB Tonight to kill the win statistic for pitchers.  The idea is not new, though a mainstream media source has often ignored it, showing win-loss records because it's easy.  How much the network really values what Kenny says is debatable.  What's not is that more and more people are getting it.  Even Chipper Jones recently tweeted to Kenny how he was converting to the idea that there was little value in a pitcher's win-loss record.

It's clear that if you are attempting to gauge how a pitcher has performed, an individual win-loss record won't tell you much.  However, is there is a way to look at an individual game and categorically say he "won" or "lost" based more on how he pitched over run support.  There is and we can thank Bill James once again.  Game Score is a crude, but efficient way to try to find out how well the pitcher performed.  It is not without its issues and James downplayed Game Score's usefulness because of them.  In its purest form, Game Score doesn't take into account park or league effects, nor the defense behind the pitcher, or even if a run was charged to the pitcher after he left the game.  It's not that Game Score is a perfect number and some have attempted to increase its usefulness, including attempting to negate the issues previously discussed or, in this case, present a GSWL record (pronounced "Gaz-Wall").  I am going to get back to GSWL later.

How is Game Score calculated?  Using an example from the page I linked to a few lines ago, I am going to use a completely average start to go over how this number is calculated.

June 22nd at Milwaukee
Tim Hudson: 6 ING, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO

Every game starts with 50 points.  From there we add +1 point for every out recorded (or easily 3 pts for each completed inning).  Six innings x 3 = +18 points.  We also add +2 points for each full inning commpleted after the fourth.  Hudson completed 2 innings after the fourth in this example so 2 x 2 = +4 points.  Next, we subtract -2 points for each hit surrendered.  7 hits x -2 = -14 points.  Also, let's subtract -4 points for each earned run and -2 points for any unearned run.  2 ER x -4 = -8 points.  Finally, take the sum of strikeouts minus walks.  Hudson walked as many as he struck out in this game, ending with 0.  To sum up:

+50...baseline starting point
+18...for innings
+4...for each inning after the fourth
-14..for hits allowed
-8...for earned runs allowed
0 for K - BB
50 Game Score

There are two ways to take a 50 GS. On one hand, since your score is the same when you started, you can call it average.  On the other hand, the average is actually slightly higher this season at 52.  But for all intents and purposes, let's refer to 50 as an average start.  Hudson took a 2-0 loss that game.

For this season, the worst individual start came from Paul Maholm, who received an abysmal 9 GS in a 10-0 loss against the Tigers on April 26th, also known as the Anibal Sanchez game.  The best game score was Julio Teheran's near no-hitter against the Pirates on June 5th when he finished with a 89 GS.

Game Score was been expanded to include "tough loses" and "cheap wins."  A tough loss occurrs when the pitcher had a 50 GS or better, but suffers a loss.  In this case, Hudson's June 22nd start was a tough loss.  On the other hand, a cheap win is a GS under 50 but a victory is credited to the starter.  Maholm's May 1st start against the Nationals and Hudson's June 6th start against the Dodgers both ended with a GS of 70, but the starter took the loss.  The cheapest win came from Maholm on June 22nd.  He received a 37 GS, but took the win in a 7-4 game.

Jeff Angus in the SABR column I previously linked to also suggested GSWL.  The idea was to take the simplistic Game Score and see how that related to a pitcher.  When a starter had a game score of 55 or better, the team won 73% of the time in 2007.  When the starter posted a game score of 43 or lower, the winning percentage for the team was an abysmal .244.  That left what Angus called the Game Score Tweeners.  Overall, the team won 53% of the time when the game score was between 54 and 44.  He split the remaining games right down the middle, giving half to the win column and half to the loss column.  In the event of an odd number of GS tweeners, the extra game was counted as a win to reflect the win percentage of .528 in the tweener range.  Throwing out the GS tweeners would seem like an idea, but there are problems with that.  Angus goes over why better than I can.

So, where does that leave the Braves, the focus of this blog?  In the following table, I will give the GSWL, number of GS tweeners, average GS, tough loses, cheap wins, and actual starting win-loss record for reference.


Player GSWL # Tweeners Avg GS Tough L's Cheap W's Act W-L
Mike Minor 17-4 5 59.3 3 0 10-5
Julio Teheran 13-7 6 56.1 3 0 7-5
Tim Hudson 13-8 5 53.1 3 1 8-7
Kris Medlen 11-9 3 50.6 2 1 6-10
Paul Maholm 11-9 3 48.5 3 2 9-9
Alex Wood 1-1 1 43.5 1 0 0-1

How impressed are you with Minor now?  Ace enough for you?  Here are some well-known pitchers and their GSWL.  Adam Wainwright = 17-5 with 5 tweeners.  Jordan Zimmerman = 16-5 with 3 tweeners.  Bartolo Colon = 16-5 with 7 tweeners.  Max Scherzer = 19-2 with 3 tweeners.  Cliff Lee = 15-5 with 4 tweeners.  One of the most interesting cases is Lee's teammate, Cole Hamels, who is 15-7 with 3 tweeners and an amazing 7 tough loses.  

Game Score, and by extension GSWL, will not replace other informative numbers, nor become a be-all that we should use as the most important number to look at.  There are just too many variables that the pitcher doesn't have much control of (defense and park to name a few).  However, instead of #killthewin, maybe we can keep a win-loss record that better reflects how the pitcher performed.  Not the worst compromise.  

Random Prospect of the Day: William Beckwith

Busy week for the major league squad, but it's time once again to get to know a random prospect from the system.  Today, we have a first baseman with power, but considerable questions if he is mature enough to take advantage of his opportunities.

He's that guy on the left.  The guy on the right, he might be a good prospect, too.  Just still wondering if they should have taken Todd Van Poppel instead.

Born in Crawford, Mississippi on August 19, 1990, William Beckwith was unfortunately saddled with a pretentious name that makes it already quite difficult to like the guy.  Beckwith's profile from West Lowndes High School made him a draftable prospect and the Royals spent a 46th-rounder on Beckwith in 2008.  The youngster chose not to sign and went to Meridan Community College and then Wallace Community College in Dothan, Alabama.  While with Wallace-Dothan in 2010, Beckwith showed his power with 14 homers and accepted a scholarship to join the University of West Florida, but before he could, the Braves came calling in the 2010 draft with a 21st round selection.

Choosing to sign with the franchise that, at the time, also included his uncle, minor league pitching instructor Kent Willis, Beckwith joined the Gulf Coast League Braves to open his professional career.  In 21 games, there wasn't too much to get excited with.  His time would come the following season with Danville as he slashed .282/.395/.534, finishing in a tie for fourth in the league with a 11 big flies.  His shining moment came on July 14th when he became the first player in the Appalachian League history to hit three homeruns in one game. Even more notable was that the game was shorten to seven innings because of rain.  While Beckwith was a long away from being a prospect, he began to get some press for his season at Danville.

Joining Rome for the 2012 season, Beckwith posted a .838 OPS in 106 games, showing surprising speed for a big guy (6'2", 220 lbs).  On the season, he stole 17 bases to go with 26 doubles and 15 homers, finishing one homer short of team-leader Will Skinner, who was tied for 8th most in the SALLY league.  Beckwith was hardly a top prospect, especially as he was limited to 1B/DH, but was starting to climb into the Top 30 Braves prospects for different reviewers.  With a big 2013, Beckwith could rise up the charts.

He got off to a good start this season with the Hillcats, hitting .262 with a .915 OPS and 5 homers in his first 17 games, but he would hit only .213 and slug .354 over his next 36 games.  Those 36 games include a demotion to Danville that came without explanation on May 21st.  My local ABC affiliate, WSET, helped to explain why.  Beckwith was charged with a DUI on May 16th and failure to obey a traffic light.  Considering where he was cited, Wards Road, he probably drank too much at one of the 58 different restaurants on Wards Road (maybe exaggerating a little).

Beckwith returned on June 1st and played until June 15th until being suspended.  Not sure why the Braves demoted him after the DUI and decided to simply suspend him almost a month later after letting him return.  Either way, Beckwith's season has been quiet since.

Before the season, Beckwith was a borderline C-prospect who had a lot to prove to rise up the charts.  So far, it's doubtful he may make it into next year.  He has shown good power and solid on-base ability, but to be a first base prospect, you have to be extremely gifted offensively and to this point, Beckwith hasn't been.  Add in his off-the-field troubles and Beckwith seems like the deepest of deep sleepers.  He might get an opportunity in the majors, possibly as a Quad-A guy who had a good run at the right time to replace a first-baseman who got DL'd.  It seems doubtful that Beckwith's ceiling is much higher.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mike Minor: Ace?

Lost in all of the talk about trading for a front-of-the-rotation type...lost in all of the talk about last year's infield fly rule call that was truly embarrassing...lost in all of the ridiculous talk about the new Waffle House at Turner Field...

Mike Minor out-pitched Adam Wainwright and shut down the most talked about offense in the game.  Let's be honest, how sick were you to keep hearing about the Cardinals' average with runners in scoring position? A lefty that most Braves fans were depressed to get when he was drafted in 2009 showed that he has the skills to face the best pitchers in this game. Against my better judgement, I, too, have parroted the line that the Braves don't have the arm to match up with this game's best in a Game One environment.  At least in last night's game, Minor more than proved he had the skills.

In 103 pitches, Minor toyed with the Cardinals lineup.  When the Cardinals got runners into scoring position, they couldn't do much to get them around.  Outside of a badly located ball that Yadier Molina took out to center field, Minor was almost without error.  He allowed four hits, struck out five, and gave up that one solo homerun.  It was the seventh start this season that Minor didn't walk a batter.

Overall, he lowered his team-leading ERA to 2.89 while pairing that with a 3.29 FIP, 8.4 K/9, and a ridiculously low 1.8 BB/9.  He entered the day 22nd in fWAR.  Not sure what yesterday's outing will do to that, but he will likely be in the Top 20.

There are a lot of different ideas as to what an "ace" actually is.  However, if the Braves do head into the last two months and hopefully a long playoff run with Minor at the head of their rotation, outings like Friday night will continue to provide confidence for the Braves faithful who desperately want another shot at the World Series.  If the Braves win the Series this year, the name of Mike Minor seems likely to be a household one.

Better get that extension offer for the Super 2 arbitration-eligible Minor, Frank Wren.

Twitter Feed: July 27

Happy Saturday all.

-Jim Bowden mentions that Kyle Lohse has been hot of late and should he be a trade target for the Braves?  The Brewers right-hander notably struggled to find a deal in the offseason after the Cardinals gave him qualifying offer.  He received 3 years, $33M right before the season from Milwaukee and they would need his permission to deal him this soon after signing a contract.  Doubt the Braves are interested in that contract, even if Lohse has been his usual decent self.

-In addition to the names of Lohse and Jake Peavy, Royals right-hander Ervin Santana was thrown around as a possible trade target, tweets Mark Bowman.  Ken Rosenthal says the Royals are interested in major-league ready talent.  Santana would be a rental and the Braves are unlikely to pay a premium for him and the Royals would need talent in return for Santana considering they can simply place a qualifying offer on him after the season.  Just don't see a match here.  Braves won't offer one of their ready starters for a guy they are unlikely to retain after this season.

-Too many have brought up Bud Norris as a possibility.  Yesterday,  spoke of how the Braves need a guy to put at the head of the rotation.  Norris screams average, okay, meh, not awful.  He is in badly need of a third pitch.  The slider is solid and something off-speed would do a lot for his 92-93 mph velocity, but his changeup is rarely used and often pulverized when it is.  If you are going to make a trade, shouldn't you make one for someone clearly better than Paul Maholm?

-Elsewhere, Jayson Stark's sources make it clear the Braves are unlikely to acquire a starter because Frank Wren is not willing to pay the price.  Bowman says he is.  Rosenthal says the Braves likely won't.  WHO IS RIGHT?

-From DOB, both B.J. Upton and Jordan Schafer did their running before the game Friday.  For Upton, it was more of the same.  However, for Schafer it was a first.

-Finally, an Hudson update from Rosenthal.  The surgery Hudson went under was to repair fractured fibula and deltoid ligament in right ankle.  Takes about four months to rehab so he could be ready by December.  If he returns, he should have a good portion of the offseason at full health as he tries to secure employment for 2014.

2009 Braves : 2013 Nationals

The Nationals lost in the first game of a double-header against the Mets 11-0 on Friday.  The loss dropped them to 49-54.  Still, media types are curious when this Nationals ballclub will start making good on the promise that prompted many to slot them as the preseason favorite to win the NL East.  Recently, the Nationals tried to jump-start the team by firing their hitting coach, but it hasn't helped.

Very few current Braves can sympathize, but those members of the 2009 Braves seem to know what it's like to increase expectations and fail so spectacularly.  While the Nationals increased what everyone thought they were capable of with their 2012 division-winning campaign, in 2009, the Braves raised the expectations of fans and the media with an active winter that included the signings of Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and the trade of Javier Vazquez to surround the young Jair Jurrjens.  They also added veteran Garret Anderson before spring training.  The Braves were considered challengers to the Phillies, who sought to defend their first World Series championship since 1993.

But things quickly derailed for the Braves.  The team lacked power, relying heavily on base hits and walks to overcome that power outage.  Brian McCann led the team with 21 homers, a total that doesn't seem likely to be in the top three on the current Braves.  Jeff Francoeur fell on his face and was replaced with the forgetful Ryan Church.  Kelly Johnson struggled and was replaced with Martin Prado.  Jordan Schafer excelled.  For a game before being replaced eventually by Nate McLouth.  Tom Glavine was supposed to be the fifth starter, but never got healthy and Tommy Hanson replaced him causing Glavine to be was released without making a start.

Atlanta fell to four games back on July 5th after a loss to the Nationals and just kinda floated between four games back and 8.5 games back, briefly falling to nine games back for one day.  They never threatened, never seemed to be awful.  After their 103rd game, comparable to the Nationals this season, Atlanta was 52-51, three games better than the Nats.  They would actually finish strong, 34-25, behind strong runs from Adam LaRoche and Lowe.  However, that helped them gain all of a game on the division-winning Phillies.

The Nationals have been four games back or worse since May 21st and coming into the Friday night game, they trailed Atlanta by 8.5 games.  A lot has made on twitter about what the Nationals would have to do to catch the Braves.  For instance, if the Braves played their final 60 games with a 30-30 record, to catch the Braves, the Nationals would have to go 38-21.  If the Braves go 35-25, the Nationals would have to go 43-16.  And so on and so on.

But to me, the Nationals are the 2009 Braves.  They're good.  That Braves team went on to win 86 games.  However, Washington is not a great team and have shown zero signs of turning it around and why should they?  It was unlikely Ross Detweiler was going to have another career year.  Seemed doubtful that LaRoche would go all super-LaRoche in a walk year again.  And why should anyone expect Denard Span to be tremendous when looking at his recent history?  And was grabbing Rafael Soriano, also a member of that '09 Braves team, supposed to be the finishing piece?

The Nationals can't hit.  They have been comically bad, scoring 379 runs in their first 103 games, an average of 3.68 R/G.  Their pitching has been good, but like the team overall, not great.  In fact, after the first game Friday, their run differential is -40.  The '09 Braves were actually a better team when compared to that.  But the '09 Phillies played better than the Braves so that evens out.

Over a full season, the Nationals will be in the running.  I imagine they will finish at .500 or better.  They might even have a couple of good weeks here and there.  But they no longer deserve the scoreboard watching Braves fans give them.  They weren't the team the media made them to be.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Trade Target: Jake Peavy

The gruesome injury to Tim Hudson changed the game for the Atlanta Braves.  Entering mid-July, the Braves had potentially seven starters that were ready for a role in a major league rotation.  Beyond the normal five that had accounted for all but one start coming into July, there was the young lefty Alex Wood, whose stock continued to skyrocket after iffy mechanics and size questions dropped him to the second round last year.  Within a year of being a professional, Wood had made his debut for the Braves, coming out of the bullpen and provided a second left-hander to pair with Luis Avilan in the wake of season-ending surgeries for Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters.

Wood was not the only possible in-house addition for the Braves.  Last season's early-year ace Brandon Beachy was working his way back from last year's surgery.  A setback in June kept him from getting into the fray quicker, but while Hudson's season ended in New York, Beachy was making what seemed like his final rehab start for Gwinnett.

But the injuries started to mount.  First, Paul Maholm left his start last week with a sprained wrist.  That prompted the Braves to go to Wood, at least for a start.  It also all but eliminated any opportunity for Maholm to be in the mix for a rare contender-to-contender exchange at the deadline.  A day before Wood's return to the rotation, Hudson's injury forced the Braves to formally end Beachy's rehab stint.

Five starters with Maholm likely a week or so from returning to make it six.  On one hand, it seemed like having that depth proved fortunate as the Braves could sustain the injuries and still move forward.  However, there were question marks for everyone.  Mike Minor, the de facto ace, has proved himself after his first 39 starts in the majors were not exactly awesome.  However, is he ready to match up with Adam Wainwright or Clayton Kershaw?  Doubtful.  Julio Teheran is 19 starts into his first major league campaign and, at this time, has to be the clubhouse leader for a Game Two start in a division series provided Atlanta gets there.  Kris Medlen was on his way to the bullpen only a week ago and that knowledge was quite public.  I can't remember who pointed this out or I would give credit, but in his last 16 starts, Maholm has a 1.54 WHIP and 5.38 ERA.  Wood, for all the hype, is a pup and nobody has much of an idea of what Beachy is capable of producing this soon after surgery.

Some believe Atlanta was interested in the starting pitching market before the injuries and if they were dipping their toes into the market, they are diving in at this point.  My friend Bryce mentioned some of the names that have been brought up.  Not many people were happy with his idea, but I'll throw my hat into the ring as well.  If the Braves are going to make a move, they need a trade for someone better than the average guy who takes the ball every fifth day.  They have plenty of those guys.  Instead, they need an arm that will answer the call in a Game One assignment.  They need someone better than Hudson.  They need their first true ace since John Smoltz.

Could Jake Peavy by that guy?  As I mentioned earlier today, Peavy has his easy-to-see problems.  After an amazing 2007 season that brought him a Cy Young award and a career-best 5.9 WAR, Peavy has struggled to stay healthy.  He only missed a few starts the next season, but from 2009-11, he threw between 101.2 and 111.2 innings in all three seasons.  The White Sox had to feel snake-bitten after trading for Peavy at the 2009 deadline.  Entering a walk-year, Peavy was able to stay healthy and responded with his third season with a 4.0 WAR or better.  The White Sox responded by locking up Peavy before he hit free agency with a two-year extension that will pay him $14.5M both this year and next.  The White Sox also gave Peavy a player option for 2015 that was conditional on his health.  He needed to reach 400 innings during the life of the contract, which is unlikely since he is only on pace for about 130 innings this year.

He has appeared in so few innings because - surprise, surprise - Peavy was hurt earlier this season with a broken rib that kept him out of action for over a month until his return last week against the Braves.  Still, could Peavy be the answer for Atanta?  At his best, Peavy has an electric right arm, capable of throwing five pitches with confidence, including a slider that has been devastating during his career.  However, he's throwing it less this season, though I can't say if that is by design.  Instead, he has thrown his cutter more but still has a curve and a nice changeup that offsets his 90 mph fastball.

Peavy's full-season numbers are warped by three bad games.  An early start where Peavy was charged with six runs and back-to-back starts before he hit the DL that resulted in a half-dozen runs each.  It helps explain why his FIP and xFIP are not close to one another (4.10 to 3.69).  His K% of 23.5% is a little higher than last year and matches his career number.  Over the last three seasons, his BB% has hovered just over 5%.  His 1.14 WHIP is close to his number last year as well.  So don't pay much of a mind to his 4.28 ERA.  He has pitched better than that.  I think Peavy can definitely pitch better down the stretch now that he's healthy.

But how much longer will Peavy be healthy?  A month, three months, a year?  Bringing him aboard means Atlanta will be paying him in 2014.  Unless the White Sox helps out with some money, which seems unlikely, the Braves would be adding Peavy to their current commitments which means $57.858 million for next year would be on the books with arbitration cases for an additional 13 players, including three starting pitchers, two set-up men, Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, Jason Heyward, and a few other key players.  That's not including Reed Johnson's 2014 option.

The problem seems to be that Atlanta doesn't match up well with the White Sox, especially if other teams with better farm systems come calling.  If the Boston Red Sox's interest in Peavy is high and they are willing to use their tremendous high-ceiling prospects, can Atlanta even get into the discussion with a package starting with Medlen?  Again, seems unlikely.  But let's give a shot.

The Braves are desperately low on on position prospects, but also don't have to replace a starting positional player before 2015 outside of Brian McCann.  That helps formulate our package. On the prospect side, I am including Christian Bethancourt.  The White Sox have tried to make due with another former Braves farmhand, Tyler Flowers, behind the plate and it's not gone so well.  Bethancourt is already major-league ready on defense and is in the midst of a nine game hit streak that has included four homers.  In fact, over the last two months, Bethancourt has homered seven times, impressive because he entered June with one homer this season and 15 during his career.  He's even been in a walk binge, especially for him.  I'm selling high because I'm still low on his bat.

To add to Bethancourt, I'm including Tommy La Stella.  He's going to hit, I am comfortable saying that.  His defense isn't loved, though some like it more than others.  He's also struggled to stay healthy.  Adding to the mix, Joey Terdoslavich.  I would love to keep him for the bench in 2014, but if it comes down to keeping bench player or getting a starting pitcher capable of leading a staff, I am going with the starter.  In addition to those three, the classic player to be named later.  The White Sox will have to decide after the season ends for the Braves, hopefully following a World Series victory, who gets added to the trade.  A list of about five players will be included.  Cody Martin, Todd Cunningham, Tyler Pastornicky, David Carpenter, and Juan Jaime to name a few possibilities.

Now comes where the fun really begins.  If there is a market for Peavy, the Braves have to include Medlen to get into the discussion.  If there's not a strong market, the Braves might be able to keep Medlen.  In the situation that the White Sox balk at giving up Peavy for the package previously discussed, Atlanta could include Medlen with the condition that the White Sox pays $5M toward Peavy's salary in 2014.

There are worries with Peavy, but if the package is right, Atlanta would be hard-pressed to find a better pitcher.

Twitter Feed: July 26

Ouchie...the guys from the Atlanta Braves forum at mlb.com ripped Bryce and me a new one yesterday.  Damn you, Bryce!

-Braves had a scout at the White Sox game yesterday, started by Jake Peavy.  This is according to Jayson Stark.  Whether or not the Braves' interest was in Peavy or one of the White Sox relievers or both is unknown.  Kameron Loe didn't help his chances of sticking around in the bullpen after his awful Thursday outing and the Braves' interest in the starting pitching market is higher since the injury to Tim Hudson.  For his part, Peavy was charged with four hits and four runs in seven innings.  Detroit's damage came in large part from three homers off Peavy in Whatever-They-Call-Comiskey-Park-II.  He walked a pair and struck out seven.  It was his second start since returning from the DL, his first coming against our Braves.  Of course, Peavy has suffered greatly from injuries during his career.  Since 2007's 5.9 WAR season that led him to an Cy Young award, Peavy has failed to reach 200 innings or 30 starts in all but one season.  I'm going to do to a Trade Targets on Peavy for later today because there is much that can be written.

-Ken Rosenthal tweeted about a new column that begins with the Braves, but the most interesting tidbit was not about a possible trade for Atlanta, but this: "They struck out once every 3.99 plate appearances in April, followed by once every 4.30 PAs in May, once every 4.62 in June and now once every 5.14 in July."  So, Atlanta has that going for them.  To read Rosenthal's complete column, click here.

-Deadspin reports on the admission by former Brave Robert Fick that he used steroids twice as he returned from shoulder injuries. Fick, an All-Star with the Tigers in 2002 (mainly cause someone had to be), joined the Braves for 2003 and started 111 games at first.  You might remember when he swiped at Eric Karros' glove during the '03 NLDS against the Cubs.  Overall, Fick played parts of ten seasons with the Tigers, Braves, Rays, Padres, and Nationals and is now an agent.  Hat tip to Keith Olbermann.

-Today is the two-year anniversary of the 19-inning game that is often credited to killing the Pirates season in 2011.  To Braves fans, it's known as the Jerry Meals Game.  To me, I always think of Scott Proctor falling out of the box after making contact.  I believe I worked that night so I only tuned in during the eighth inning or so.  Little did I know how much more baseball was to be played. Julio Lugo's only claim to fame for the Braves was being called "safe."  Thanks Jerry!  Hat-tip to Rob Biertempfel.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Twitter Feed: July 25

I don't like the way the first two editions of this column have looked so let's try a different way.  As always, follow me @WalkOffWalk1.

-Courtesy of Bill Shaikin, Harris Poll recently conducted their yearly poll on Most Popular MLB franchises.  Atlanta held their customary third spot for the fourth consecutive season, finishing behind the Yankees and Red Sox (who have also been consistently #1 and #2).  The Mets and Phillies are also in the top ten among division rivals.  I have actually been a bit surprised with the road support the Braves have received this year, though according to this poll, I shouldn't have been.  I wonder, however, if the lack of Braves on TBS will eventually put the Braves into a slide down the poll.  For the complete poll, here's a link.

-Brandon Beachy made, what might be, his last rehab start according to DOB.  He went six innings for Gwinnett, giving up two hits and walking four compared to three strikeouts.  86 pitches, 51 strikes.  Not a wonderful outing, but good enough.  As I said yesterday, I am getting more interested in seeing Beachy this season if only to see what the Braves have with him.

-DOB also says that Fredi Gonzalez isn't considering moving Paul Maholm to the bullpen.  For what it's worth, lefties are hitting .203/.254/.271, an OPS that is .371 points lower than his split vs. right-handed hitters.  This isn't new.  Lefties have an OPS against Maholm of .603 throughout his career, .195 points lower the OPS righties have against Maholm.  Of course, due to the injury to Tim Hudson, that might be a moot point.

-Elsewhere, the Tigers signed Jair Jurrjens.  Yeah, that happened.  On the plus side, I can use my Jair tag!

-Jon Heyman points followers to a column by CBS's Danny Knobler.  In the article, Knobler contends that Atlanta was already keeping their toes warm in the starting pitching pool, but now might up their search.  There doesn't seem to be more than guessing here, which is astonishing because that's the work of a blogger.  He mentions Jake Peavy, which a lot of people have also mentioned.  I don't see Peavy as much of a fit, but I have been surprised before.

-The injury to Hudson was horrific.  Huddy has always been an easy guy to love.  You hate to see a guy potentially not have the opportunity to go out on his own terms.  Hopefully, he is able to get back out there and get a chance to get back on the mound.  It might not be with Atlanta, but if he pitches again, I don't care who he faces (Braves included)...I hope he has the best game of his career.  If he's not able to get back...superb career from one of baseball's true class acts.

Post-Hudson Deadline Plans: Guest

My friend Bryce is back with a column on what the Braves could do after the injury to Tim Hudson.  He contends that Atlanta should go all-in.  However, I worry because the last time he talked about trading a Brave, that guy got hurt.

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The Braves will likely claim they are comfortable with their current starting pitching options. They will have Brandon Beachy returning to take Hudson’s slot in the rotation and will likely hope to have Paul Maholm return after a stint on the DL for a sprained wrist. While they still boast impressive starting pitching depth, it leaves me worried about who will fill out the postseason rotation.

My buddy, Thomas, covered how Kris Medlen had pitched his way into a position to lose his starting role upon Beachy’s return prior to the Hudson injury. Despite the sudden strangle hold Kris has gained to his starting role since yesterday, it doesn’t change the fact that he has been an average pitcher in 2013—which in my eyes should not change his status of being in jeopardy of losing his starting role. Combine that with the general distrust Maholm gives me as a not bad, but definitely not good pitcher, the uncertainty surrounding Beachy’s health and production ceiling coming back from Tommy John, and Alex Wood’s obvious lack of experience and it’s easy to understand why I feel the Atlanta Braves will be playing with fire if/when they say they are comfortable with their current starters.

That said, what should the Braves do about it? Pay up for an injury-prone Jake Peavy? Go after an unimpressive Bud Norris? Roll the dice on a flat out awful Josh Johnson? Ugh. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit thinking about those options. Luckily for you, I have a better idea. One that I’m fairly certain would be unpopular on face value, but I feel would increase the chances of a championship and create interesting possibilities for the winter. Are you ready? Wait for it. Very good. I commend your patience.

James Shields. Seriously. 

The Royals have made Ervin Santana available recently and are practically guaranteeing themselves a sub-.500 finish to the season. I don’t see why they would not move Shields for the right offer considering that Dayton Moore might lose his job this winter after the flop the Royals were this season. Moore could look to save his job by picking up some buy-low opportunities and prospects from liquidating Shields now while he has a season and a half worth of retention.

So that brings us to the price tag. In prospects, I doubt the Braves would have enough to tempt the Royals. However, that is not what I feel the Royals should be looking at. Moore, in order to gain some job security, needs to get some players who can impact his major league roster immediately or within the next year and luckily for the Braves that is where the majority of their young talent is.

Start things off with Medlen to replace James Shields in the Royals' rotation. While he is certainly no ace, Medlen will give them a cheap and retainable young starting pitcher who will help them stabilize the rotation in 2014. Next, include Jason Heyward. He can slot into right field for the Royals and see if he can gain consistency in another city where he may not be expected to be the face of the organization like he was tabbed to be in Atlanta. Finally, top off the package with the exciting Alex Wood. While some may be tempted to keep Wood with all the comparisons to Chris Sale that he’s garnered with his unorthodox mechanics, his future may very well be in the bullpen. What better time to capitalize on his trade value than now when he has yet to prove if he can stick in the rotation?

With the inclusion of so much talent, we can likely kill two birds with one stone (as Thomas pointed out that Wren likes to do) and get Moore to throw in Luke Hochevar.

The Braves can still prioritize adding a left-handed reliever with Joey Terdoslavich as the main piece of bait in those negotiations and they could go as far as to search for a left-handed bench bat that can handle the infield. For funsies, let’s say we grab Oliver Perez for Terdoslavich and Luis Valbuena from the Cubs for Todd Cunningham.

Rotation - James Shields, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy, Paul Maholm

Bullpen - LR David Carpenter, Anthony Varvaro, Oliver Perez, Luke Hochevar, Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden, Craig Kimbrel

Starters - CA Brian McCann, 1B Freddie Freeman, 2B Dan Uggla, 3B Chris Johnson, SS Andrelton Simmons, LF Evan Gattis, CF BJ Upton, RF Justin Upon

Bench - CA Gerald Laird, OF Reed Johnson, OF Jordan Schafer, IF Luis Valbuena, UT Paul Janish/Tyler Pastornicky

I smell a World Series contender. You’re welcome.