Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Once a Brave, Always a Brave - AL East

Today, I dust off a return of a weekly column that will look into how former Braves are performing around the majors. Let's start in the AL East where one of Atlanta's big free agents last offseason landed.

P Luis Ayala (AA) - Acquired last season, Ayala dealt with a bout of depression or anxiety or a stomach virus (different stories exist) that sent him to the Disabled List before finally working his way back through the minors for a 37 game run in Atlanta where he gave up a lot of baserunners (1.52 WHIP), but only ten runs and a 2.90 ERA. Unable to secure major league employment, Ayala went back to Orioles and pitched in five games for their AA Bowie team to little success. On Sunday, he opted out of his minor league deal and will head to Mexico to pitch.

P Chris Jones (AAA) - Traded for Ayala last season, Jones has worked in long relief for Baltimore's AAA team, Norfolk. Nothing notable about his numbers. He was originally in the Braves organization for just over a season after the Braves got him from Cleveland in the Derek Lowe deal. In his 8th year in the minors, the left-hander doesn't appear to be a guy who will be a major league fixture.

P Chris Resop (AAA) - Continuing to just stick around, Resop, now 31, has struck out about a batter an inning, even though his numbers outside of that are mediocre. Resop originally played with the Braves in 2008 and after a trip to Japan, pitched in one game in 2010 where he allowed five runs in two innings. Originally a fourth-rounder by the Marlins who played outfield for the first three seasons of his career before being switched to the mound.

C David Ross - In his second go-around with the Sox, Ross has struggled to match his production from his time in Atlanta and while a team leader, as evident by recent bench clearing incidents with the Rays, Ross doesn't seem likely to continue to get paid $3.1M as he has been since leaving the Braves. In four seasons as a backup to the new starting catcher in the Bronx, Ross hit .269/.353/.463. Wonder if a return to Atlanta after this season is in the cards?

New York Yankees
C Brian McCann - After an eight-and-a-half year run in Atlanta that included 176 homeruns, McCann left Atlanta last December for the bottomless pit known as the Yankees' wallet. The Braves had already replaced him with Evan Gattis. McCann has struggled in his new city, OPSing under .700. He's also began to get used to the idea of playing first base, receiving four games there with one start. McCann is currently a .730 OPS guy since the beginning of 2012. The Yankees may go on to regret this deal.

1B Mark Teixeira - They almost certainly haven't felt like they have received the proper production from Teix's deal. Now in his sixth season with the Yankees, he has spent pieces of the last three years on the DL, including playing just 15 games in 2013. While his first season was an elite campaign, follow-up years have seen him incapable of posting a SLG that touches .500. Still owed $45M over the next two seasons, Teix has been productive of late and might turn in a very good season after all. In his 157 games in Atlanta between trades, Teix hit .295 with a .943 OPS and 37 HR. At least he hit while he was here, I guess.

IF Kelly Johnson - Still only 32, KJ is a long ways away from his 2007-2009 run as the Braves starting second basemen. His .831 OPS in 2007 made me a fan, though follow-up efforts were not as successful. Since leaving Atlanta, outside of one year in Arizona, KJ has been disappointing and over the last two seasons, he has turned into a utility player. His career .760 OPS only looks that good because of a .795 OPS while in Atlanta.

OF Antoan Richardson (AAA) - Drafted four times before he finally signed a contract, Richardson joined the Braves after the Giants cut him during 2009. He spent 2010 and 2011 with the Braves, mostly in the minors with Mississippi. He did make it to the majors for his speed during September of 2011, appearing in nine games and getting four trips to the plate. He is currently 2-for-4 in his career with a stolen base. He is posting career-norms for Scranton/Wilkes Barre this season which means a high OBP and stolen bases and not a lot else.

Tampa Bay
SS Yunel Escobar - Kelly Johnson's former double-play partner in both Atlanta and Tampa Bay, Escobar has found a home in Tampa Bay to go along with a four-year contract. He spent parts of four seasons in Atlanta, impressing the Braves with his offensive skills and defense while frustrating them with his attitude. After an .801 OPS in his first three seasons, Esco has only once posted an OPS over .700. Still valuable because of plus-plus defense, Esco remains frustrating for his team and a pest for opposing teams.

3B Wilson Betemit (AAA) - Once one of the game's top prospects, Betemit is back in the minors this season for Durham. While he's among the league leaders in homers, Betemit's other numbers are meh at best. If he gets to the majors with the Rays, it will be his eighth different major league team. While he has been productive at times in the majors, it's a far cry from the expectations Betemit had when he originally reached the majors as a 19 year-old in 2001.

P Todd Redmond - After spending over four years in the Braves organization following a trade from the Pirates, Redmond was traded to the Reds for Paul Janish in the summer of 2012 and finally pitched in the majors with the Reds. He has spent the last two seasons with the Blue Jays, posting average numbers both as a starter and reliever.

OF Melky Cabrera - Even though he spent just one season in Atlanta, Melky reached Keith Lockhart-like disdain while posting a miserable .671 OPS. He would produce well in KC the following year and had an All-Star campaign working in 2012 with the Giants before being busted for steroids. After an ugly 2013 in Toronto, Cabrera has rebounded well. Still a douchebag.

3B Juan Francisco - Old Fat Juan belted 14 homers in 128 games with the Braves, often in part-time action, before being unleashed on the Brewers. His power played well there, but he quickly wore out his welcome. Amazingly, he has been explosive with the Jays, OPSing over .900 with nine homers in around 120 PA and hasn't shown signs of slowing while taking over the everyday job at third.

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