Thursday, January 8, 2015

Braves Get a LOOGY!

On Wednesday afternoon, the Atlanta Braves announced that they had signed left-hander Josh Outman to a one-year deal. In addition to replacing Chasen Shreve, who they dealt to the Yankees, and provide cover for the impending trade and/or suckage of Luis Avilan, the Braves acquire a guy with a very suitable name for his job. Provided he does it. Oh, and Fredi Gonzalez uses him properly.

Outman was originally drafted by the Phillies in 2005, but arrived in the majors with the A's after being part of the deal that sent Joe Blanton to Philly. His rookie year of 2009 was cut short by...come on, just guess...he's a Brave and he's a pitcher. What procedure do you think he's had?

After getting back to the majors following his 2009 Tommy John surgery, Outman struggled to reclaim his brief success as a starter for the A's. They sent him packing before the 2012 season to get Seth Smith and almost a year later, the Rockies gave him up for Drew Stubbs. His ERA was solid with Cleveland, but his FIP told another story (2.86 vs. 4.83). The biggest reason for that came down to control. Outman walks opposing hitters at about a 9-and-a-half percent clip, but that mark was north of 13% last season. After demoting him to the minors for two months, the Indians traded him to the Yankees before rosters expanded where he appeared in nine games and faced just 12 batters.

He's a one trick pony, but it's a good trick. Here is his last three years and career marks against lefties.
2014 .167 .269 .339 .277
2013 .195 .278 .261 .249
2012 .194 .246 .377 .271
Career .183 .254 .283 .243
For Outman to be successful, he has to be used in the one role he's capable of flourishing in. That will fall on Fredi Gonzalez. If Outman does bounce back for a solid 2015 campaign, he might even net a useful prospect.

In a corresponding move, the Braves pushed Tyler Pastornicky out the door. It was only a matter of time, though getting rid of Jose Constanza would appear just as obvious and oh, look, he's still there. Originally acquired during the 2010 season in the Yunel Escobar/Alex Gonzalez deal, "Rev" took over as the placeholder starting shortstop in 2012 out of default as the Braves waited for Andrelton Simmons to be ready. He proved overmatched both in the field and with the bat and was banished to AAA for most of the second half of the season. Over the last two seasons, he has logged less than 50 games in the majors and was going to be out of options provided he failed to secure a spot on the bench this spring. Pastornicky has a career .608 OPS in a little more than 250 PA so it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could become a decent major leaguer. He's going to have to improve his positional flexibility as outside of a few cameos in center field, he has only played the middle of the infield.

Outman for Pastornicky is a win for the 2015 team even if Outman seemed like an unnecessary luxury for a bullpen bursting with potential arms. He'll join Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli as the revamped group that is setting up Craig Kimbrel. James Russell will probably be back as well, though the super active Braves probably are not done. That leaves a group including Michael Kohn, Shae Simmons, Juan Jaime, David Hale, the aforementioned Avilan, and other guys looking to break through such as Brandon Cunniff and Aaron Kurcz.


  1. "Ref?" I thought it was "Rev." as in "Reverend" which is a play on the "Pastor" in his name.

    1. Doh. You're right. I'm going to edit it and it'll be like it never happened. Except for this comment. And yours. Keep things hush-hush.

  2. Like what never happened?