Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Once a Brave, Always a Brave - NL West (Part 1 of 2)

Because there are a lot of ex-Braves in the NL West, I'm going to go ahead and split this division into two posts. To be honest, I was half-tempted to cut the division into four different posts, but that seems like a bit too much.

Arizona Diamondbacks
P Randall Delgado - On the plus side for the D'Backs, only one of the five they acquired in the Justin Upton trade haven't played in the majors for them. On the not-so-plus side, many have pitched or played like Delgado. His ERA is near 5.00 in just over 40 games with the D'Backs with a FIP that is nearly matching. His tendency to give up long balls was only mildly annoying while playing in Atlanta, a park that doesn't tend to help hitters' power. In Arizona, it has nearly impossible to overcome. Mostly a reliever who is out of options now, Delgado will probably get another shot soon to start, but his time with the Diamondbacks looks like it might have a rapidly approaching expiration date.

P Zeke Spruill - At the time Spruill was coming up the system, he was often overshadowed by guys like Delgado. With good reason. Since coming to the Diamondbacks, he has been pretty average in the minors and fairly miserable in the majors in just 20.2 ING over eight games and three starts. Put it this way, 39% of the batters he's faced have reached base by either a hit, walk, or HBP. That's a lot of baserunners.

SS Nick Ahmed - A fast riser since the Braves took him in the 2nd round out of UConn, Ahmed is known for a slick glove and a developing bat. Well, after exploding for a .324/.390/.431 start in AAA, Ahmed got the call after an injury to one of the Diamondbacks infielder and went 1-for-3 in his debut. I doubt he suddenly became a great hitter and the Pacific Coast League often makes hitters look better than they really are, but Ahmed is a superb athlete who will play great defense and swipe 15-20 bases. He probably won't hit that much, not will his defense be as good as the Braves' current shortstop. Still, he might be the best young player out of this trade for Arizona...

3B Brandon Drury (A+) - ...That is, if Drury doesn't continue to put up extra nice numbers. Out of all the players traded in this deal, the one I felt the more apprehensive after the early shock of losing #14 was Drury. A 13th rounder out of a high school in Oregon, Drury had opened up some eyes with a .891 OPS with Danville in 2011 with 8 HR. While he would slump offensively the next year, there was still a lot to like. After the trade, Drury went back to A-ball and posted a .862 OPS with 15 HR. He's still in A-ball this season, though it's "advanced-A," and the results are just as solid with an .870 OPS. His glove isn't great, but neither is the current third baseman for the Braves. The solace of this is that Kyle Kubitza appears to be just as good of a prospect and a better athlete and defender, though Drury is a better power threat.

3B Martin Prado - What more can you say about Prado? When the announcement of the trade inititally hit facebook, his name wasn't mentioned. We all got excited about the prospect of one more year of Prado leading off and Justin Upton fitting somewhere in the lineup after him. That wasn't to be, however. After refusing Prado's demands for a long term deal, the Braves traded Prado as the center piece of the deal and Diamondbacks, who love grit if you haven't heard, inked him to a $40M deal over four years. And while Upton might frustrate Braves fans with his streakiness, Prado's falling numbers probably frustrate D'Backs fans more. After averaging .296/.346/.438 in the five seasons before the trade, Prado has hit just .277/.327/.399. While his defense is good, it's hardly great and the D'Backs were probably hoping of more of the 5.6 fWAR guy from 2012, not the 2.3 fWAR guy they got last season. Still impossible not to like, Prado is well received anytime the Arizona comes to town.

3B Andy Marte (AAA) Marte continues to rake at AAA, but that's nothing new. Marte has logged nearly 600 years at AAA during his career and has 94 homers to go with it. While hardly Mike Hessman territory, Marte is a solid player for teams at the second-highest rung. With the Diamondbacks likely selling at the deadline, maybe there will be room for Marte to get back to the bigs for the first time since the end of the 2010 season.

Colorado Rockies
P Matt Belisle - It was forever and a day ago that the Braves took Belisle in the 2nd round out of McCallum High School in Austin, Texas. The 2nd rounder was a starting prospect, but the Braves would give up on him for a mid-August waiver deal for Kent Mercker in 2002. He never had much success with the Reds and was miserable as a starter, but he found himself in his second season with the Rockies in 2010. Since then, the rubber-armed Belisle has pitched 337 times with a 3.62 ERA, 2.99 FIP, and 1.24 WHIP.

P Yohan Flande - In 2012, it looked like Flande was going to break camp with the Braves. After a good spring, the former Phillies farmhand who had just completed his first year at AAA was looking at a job as the long-man, but the lefty was demoted when the Braves signed Livan Hernandez. Flande would spent 2012 and most of 2013 with Gwinnett with an maddeningly average performance before leaving the organization after 2013. He landed in Colorado and despite continued average numbers, an injury got him to the majors and Flande made his major debut in June 25th. He gave up four runs to the Cards in a no-decision before losing last night against the Nationals. Thanks for that, Flande.

P Boone Logan - My favorite little tidbit about Logan is that he came over to the Braves in the Javier Vazquez deal and a year later, he was traded with Vazquez to the Yankees. Hopefully, they were roomies. Logan finally found success as a situational lefty with the Yankees over the last four years before getting $16.5M to come to Denver. The results have been miserable and he's missed nearly a month with left elbow inflammation. A LOOGY might need his left elbow. He's supposed to be returning very soon.

SS Paul Janish (AAA) - Remember how Janish hit .183 with the Braves with a pitcher-like .491 OPS? Yeah, he still can't hit, even in the thin air of Colorado Springs, where Janish has been playing for the Rockies' top minor league squad. A great defender whose claim to fame last season was 52 games to just 45 PA, Janish is a great guy to have around for your minor league team if only to give your pitcher a solid glove behind him.

That's it for this week. Next week, I'll take a look at the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants. The middle team of the three is especially interesting. Thanks for reading!

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