Braves are confident with Kimbrel and revamped bullpen

The Braves will probably have a rookie replace retired closer Billy Wagner, and must also offset the free-agent departure of strikeout machine Takashi Saito.

Still, ask team officials and returning Braves relievers and they’ll tell you their revamped bullpen could be as good as last year’s. The incumbents are excited.

“Absolutely,” said left-hander Jonny Venters, who posted a 1.95 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 83 innings during a superb rookie season in 2010. “I think our bullpen’s going to be solid.

“To lose [Wagner and Saito] is tough. But I think with the guys we picked up this offseason, and having Craig [Kimbrel], it’s going to be good.”

Much of the bullpen’s success could ride with the performance of Kimbrel, 22. The Hunstville, Ala., native will likely be the closer, though Venters and others could help some with those duties.

“I’m ready to get things rolling,” Kimbrel said Tuesday, during Braves pitching camp at Turner Field. “It’s going to be a fun year.”

In 21 major league appearances, he had a 0.44 ERA and whopping 40 strikeouts in 20-2/3 innings, allowing nine hits, one earned run and 16 walks. Kimbrel also pitched in all four postseason games, totaling seven strikeouts with one hit and one walk in 4-1/3 innings.

He was asked this week if he could see himself as the team’s closer.

“I hope so,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys working for that job. No job is set in stone. We’ve got all of spring training. I’m just going to come in, get ready to pitch on the mound. Whatever role it’s in, I’ll be ready for it.”

While some fans may worry about replacing Wagner and Saito, other Braves pitchers don’t share that concern.

“I don’t think we’re worried about it at all,” left-hander Eric O’Flaherty said. “I mean, we all know what Kimbrel can do. If he stays consistent with throwing strikes, no one’s going to hit him.

“I think our bullpen sets up pretty nicely the way it is.”

Kimbrel and Venters could provide a formidable back-of-the-bullpen 1-2 punch for years.

“We’ve got two [young] guys with great heads on their shoulders, to go with great stuff,” Wren said. “They were pretty well tested right down to the pennant race last year and passed it with flying colors.”

Venters was brought from Triple-A in mid-April and established himself as one of baseball’s top relievers. He tied for sixth-most appearances in the National League, had the sixth-lowest ERA among NL relievers, and had a .169 average with runners on base — second-lowest among all NL pitchers, starters or relievers.

Late in the season, he worked some in a setup role, helping pick up the slack when Saito was limited due to injuries.

Venters gives a lot of credit to Wagner, whose contributions on the field – 37 saves, 1.43 ERA, 104 strikeouts in 69-1/3 innings – were nearly matched by his influence.

“There’s so many things I took from it, me and Craig both,” Venters said. “Whether it’s in terms of how we carry ourselves and go about our routines, to the way we attack hitters. Billy was always telling us to attack guys and go right at ‘em. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Kimbrel has a similar appreciation for Wagner and Saito.

“You can’t explain how much they help,” he said. “You just try to soak in everything they can teach you. We really didn’t know what we have until we see what other guys have gone through, and they say, ‘Hey, I didn’t have that when I was coming up.’

“I’m grateful and thankful for that.”

Venters was a workhorse whose performance rarely faltered. In an 86-game stretch from May 7 to Aug. 11, he made 47 appearances with a 0.92 ERA, allowing 27 hits and 18 walks with 56 strikeouts in 49 innings.

The Braves were 36-11 when he pitched in that stretch, and 18-22 when he didn’t. Wagner said he’d never seen any left-hander with stuff like Venters, who wore out hitters with 95-96 mph sinkers and hard sliders.

Kimbrel spent much of the season at Triple-A, but pitched enough in the majors to leave jaws dropped. He had command problems in the minors, and also during his first stint with the Braves.

After issuing eight walks in his first six games, Kimbrel reduced his walks to nine over his final 19 appearances, including postseason. He had 37 strikeouts and six hits allowed in 19-2/3 innings of that span.

“The second time he came back he was a lot of more comfortable,” O’Flaherty said, “just staying within himself and doing his thing… I don’t know how many he struck out, like 40 in 20 innings or something. You don’t do that [as a rookie]. But he did. He’s got the stuff to keep doing it, too.”

Atlanta’s 3.07 bullpen ERA ranked third in the majors, and its .221 opponents’ average and .628 OPS trailed only San Diego’s .220/.620.

The Braves signed veteran relievers Scott Linebrink and lefty George Sherrill, who join returning sidearmer Peter Moylan, O’Flaherty and Scott Proctor, who says he’s healthy after missing almost two full seasons for elbow problems.

They also claimed righty Anthony Varvaro off waivers from Seattle.

It’s a deep pitching staff, with a starting rotation feauring Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens.

“As we speak right now you feel good about it,” first-year Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “But you know how that is.”

He was alluding to injuries, which can change an outlook quickly. Health could be a factor for a staff with several pitchers who’ve pitched a lot of innings and/or had arm surgery in recent years.

Asked about bullpen depth, Gonzalez began again with that qualifier.

“If everybody’s healthy,” he said. “You’ve got a pretty good mixture of some veteran guys, and a good mixture of some younger players that experienced the pennant race last year.

“If everything works well, it’s a pretty good [bullpen].”

152 comments Add your comment

Formato 21

February 3rd, 2011
5:47 pm

Como formato 21, el número 1

bravos fan

February 3rd, 2011
5:59 pm

let’s go braves! i’m so excited for spring training to start!!!

The Grinch

February 3rd, 2011
6:04 pm

I LOVE how low under the radar this team is flying. If the core stays healthy and the new guys produce even close to what they ought to, I can see this team winning 92-95 and the NL East this year. I’m not as impressed with Philly as many seem to be.

Wat Wat Wat

February 3rd, 2011
6:12 pm

11 more days until we get rolling

can’t come soon enough! go braves!

hopefully kimbrel will be as good as he was in game 2 at san fransisco. that was outstanding stuff.

Wes

February 3rd, 2011
6:12 pm

Just remember, the odds are pretty high that one or two of these young guys will blow out their arm. I don’t have any stats to back that up, just years of watching baseball, that seems to be what happens these days.

rugburn

February 3rd, 2011
6:15 pm

i like the bullpen and the new manager handling it. i’m afraid everyone is putting too much faith in chipper’s comeback. i hope he can pull it off but i’m afraid he can’t. i don’t think there is a good back up plan in place for when he goes down. i don’t like that he is telling everyone that he will be at 3rd and batting 3rd, i thought that was why you have a manager.

JC Boscan III

February 3rd, 2011
6:15 pm

We SHOULD have enough bullpen depth this year to avoid burning out Venters and Moylan again, which would help us down the stretch and in the playoffs!

The Grinch

February 3rd, 2011
6:28 pm

If Schaffer re-emerges in spring training (and I think he will), McLouth will wind up being the back up plan in left for when Prado has to sub at 3rd. That’s my gut feeling, anyway. Hopefully the new hitting coach can get them both going. I’ve got more confidence in Jordan than Nate though.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ian besson, Demetrius, Kyle Manning, Sean Womble, Eno Sarris and others. Eno Sarris said: RT @ajcbraves: #Braves are confident with rookie closer Kimbrel and revamped bullpen http://bit.ly/gL5uTk [...]

alanfalcon

February 3rd, 2011
6:36 pm

Com’on Spring Training, can’t wait.

Sam

February 3rd, 2011
6:43 pm

I know they are both senior citizens, but the Braves should shore up their bench with free agents Mike Lowell and RP Chad Durbin. Lowell can back up Chipper and Freeman. Durbin pitched a lot for the Phils and would be a steal. Any ideas on possible future moves for this team?

dcp

February 3rd, 2011
6:50 pm

Grinch – what part in particular about the Phillies are you not impressed with? I see some degree of weakness vs lefties given their formidable hitters are left handed (Utley, Howard, Ibanez), but unlike most teams, if their 4 specific pitchers stay healthy they will never hit a real losing streak. Those guys all pitch deep into games and keep the other team off the board.

rugburn

February 3rd, 2011
6:50 pm

i like mike lowell, maybe he could be this year’s glaus.

The Grinch

February 3rd, 2011
6:57 pm

dcp, don’t get me wrong. I think the Phillies will be a good team. But aside from their starting rotation (and both Oswalt and Hamels have proven fragile in the past physically) I see a lot of question marks.

J-Roll can’t stay healthy and his obp is terrible. Utley’s production has steadily declined three years straight now. Polanco is coming off a major wrist injury. Ibanez is old. Werth is gone. Victorino’s good, but notall that. So forth and so on.

Yes, I know we all have question marks and who knows what’s going to happen ’till the games start, but I’m just not as convinced as some that the Phillies should be handed the trophy before the season starts.

Billy Jack's Barbecue & Shrimp Co.

February 3rd, 2011
6:58 pm

I am with Wes. Hope we have a good supply of cortisone available.

RomeDawg

February 3rd, 2011
7:15 pm

Anyone know how Fredi uses a bullpen compared to Bobby? Cox seem to go to the same well one too many times, although last years numbers don’t say as much. It seems every year one of our relievers was at the top of the “most appearances” list.

mikey d

February 3rd, 2011
7:17 pm

Man our bullpen is loaded. If we gvet Medlen back in Aug/Sept he coluld slide right back into that middle inning role he was so effective at in 09. This team is looks much stronger going into 2010 vs last spring. Go Braves!

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 3rd, 2011
7:18 pm

Craig will be a “plaige” on the NL.

So it is written.

MikeinLA

February 3rd, 2011
7:22 pm

Agree with you 100 percent Grinch. Yes the phillies will be good but definitley overrated because of the big names they have. On paper they were way better than the Braves last year and the Braves led the division all summer until being decimated by injuries. And guess what? The Braves added the best right-handed power bat in the national league (besides Albert Pujuls) to the middle of their lineup.

[...] Kimbrel, 22, will battle fellow youngster Jonny Venters for the role this spring. “I’m ready to get things rolling,” Kimbrel said Tuesday, during Braves pitching camp at Turner Field. “It’s going to be a fun year.” The right-hander struck out 40 batters in just 20 2/3 innings last season while posting an ERA of 0.44 and a 1.21 WHIP. Venters, a lefty, also posted tremendous numbers. The Braves are likely to choose between the two by mid-March. (link) [...]

BosnianBaller

February 3rd, 2011
7:47 pm

I love our bullpen but there is no way proctor will be on this team when June roles around.I think he is holding a spot until someone gets healthy

GT Alum

February 3rd, 2011
7:56 pm

RE: bullpen depth

The front-runners to make the ‘pen would appear to be

Kimbrel
Moylan
Linebrink
Proctor
Venters
EOF
Sherrill

However, if any of these guys are ineffective or get hurt, we’ve got Stephen Marek (a very promising prospect), Christian Martinez, Jairo Asencio (aka Luis Valdez), Cory Gearrin, Erik Cordier, Juan Abreu, Lee Hyde, Jose Ortegano and Anthony Varvaro in the minors.

We should be able to have a solid ‘pen for most of the season from those guys.

raymond

February 3rd, 2011
8:03 pm

Kimbrel will soon learn that you have to get ahead of the hitters in the bigs, so he better learn to throw strikes.

rainman34

February 3rd, 2011
8:38 pm

Great post GT. Abreu, Marek and hyde all throw in the mid 90s. We have all the pitching we could ever ask for.

[...] O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke this week with 22-year-old Craig Kimbrel, who is expected to battle 25-year-old Jonny Venters [...]

whensidslid92

February 3rd, 2011
9:03 pm

DOB–Any word of Wagner continuing to work or keep in touch with any of our young guys? Obviously, his 9th inning presence was a big reason for much of our success last season, but I think his mentoring is irreplaceable. I know he’s looking forward to the time with his family but would love to see him stay close to Kimbrel, Venters, etc. I like their talent but think they could still use a solid head such as Wags to pass on wisdom.

MObravesfan

February 3rd, 2011
9:05 pm

Totally agree with Grinch about Schaffer and McClouth being a good backup plan. I do think Chipper is going to be ready to go. The problem is he is older and gets hurt more now. So there will be occasions this year when he will be down with the injury bug. I have been a big fan of Chippers for his whole career and I keep believing he will be back to his old self soon. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Bobbly Flops

February 3rd, 2011
9:22 pm

The Phillies have Halliday & Lee. Braves have some no-name kid as the CLOSER! Plus, they count on 137-old has-been to make a comeback. Face facts; Braves are going to be BURIED this year. And “Larry” might as well hop into the grave with them. Hope old Bobbie Flops stays away from the booze whilst he watches his old team die.

Freddy D

February 3rd, 2011
10:08 pm

Hope Nate rebounds and Young back him up and Schafer returns to AAA.

naf sevarb

February 3rd, 2011
10:29 pm

The Phillies will get real old real fast this year. MARK MY WORDS.

naf sevarb

February 3rd, 2011
10:31 pm

Howard, Utley & Rollins are all on the downside of their careers. You better hope not one of those arms goes bad this year because you got nothing in the coffers to back them up. Just getting old.

nocahoma, a real chief

February 3rd, 2011
11:16 pm

Maybe Rowland Office can patrol center if McWhiff and Swing and a miss Schafer don’t make it.
Chipper, we could really use that 14 mil, dude. I’m hoping you make it back…to 2007 form. I really do, I’ve loved watching you play over the years. Time catches us all, however. And, we could REALLY use that 14 mil.

Ralph

February 3rd, 2011
11:52 pm

I have no worries about any part of our pitching but I am extremely worried about center field and 3rd base, those two positions will be our downfall.

bravo-n-knoxville

February 3rd, 2011
11:58 pm

have to disagree with your assessment nocahoma regarding schafer…he is beyond question the best outfielder our organization has had other than andruw jones (defensively speaking)…ever. you can slam him all you want regarding his short stay in the majors back in ‘09…but if you broke your wrist ,you would rack up the whiffs too playing MLB. gotta give him credit for being tough, not smart…but, in this day and age his intestinal fortitude spoke volumes by gutting it out.

also, i do agree with you that the 14 million would be nice to have right now…but we are paying for the couple of times when we needed help monetarily to add player(s) and cj said defer my money by spending it now in order to help the club. glavine,justice,and maddux never did it…thus, we pay him now.

Mitchell

February 3rd, 2011
11:59 pm

Did I miss something? Did MLB Network just do the Top Ten second baseman in baseball and not have Martin Prado in their top five?

He wasn’t even on the list. He wasn’t even an honorable mention.

What the F is that about?

Oregon Brave

February 4th, 2011
12:08 am

First. Oops! Sorry Braves fan. But it is fun to say. Wasn’t Bobby’s final season a fun and thrilling summer to remember? Hopefully the upcoming season will be even better. For sure we will be representing in Seattle this summer and not the dreaded trek to San Fransicko. Go Braves.

reckingball

February 4th, 2011
12:09 am

Can Fredi match the booger production of Bobby, in the dugout?

Mitchell

February 4th, 2011
12:13 am

Bobbly Flops

February 3rd, 2011
9:22 pm

The Phillies have Halliday & Lee.

Excellent point, Bobby. I was previously unaware of that. No really, great insight there. You (I take it you’re a Philly fan) have Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

The question is, is that enough? The answer?

No.

Why?

Because we have Martin Prado, Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla, Brian McCann, Eric Hinske, Freddie Freeman, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Minor, Beachy, Teheran, Kimbrel, Moylan, Venters etc.

No contest. The Braves will win 97 games and the division… and hopefully at least one playoff series.

Sound familiar?

reckingball

February 4th, 2011
12:16 am

“Billy was always telling us to attack guys and go right at ‘em.”
I hope that Venters, Kimbrel, and the rest of the bullpen can keep the catcher on board with that philosophy.

Bravesfan54

February 4th, 2011
12:50 am

Nothing not to like. A few concerns, namely, Chipper. He could have a quite respectible year (in several, but not all, categories by any means). I saw him seriously loligag in the field (no calisthenits, no stretching) in the three games last ST (Viera, Kissimmee, and Dark Star) which troubled me then. (I don’t claim for a minute that this was related to his season’s end). But now I hear that he has historically had the “veterans disease”, as far as his spring training regimen is concerned. I have followed this team (obviously, for many, many, years as a non-sabermetrician)since 1954. I am not psychic, and have no idea whether C Jones will have a sunset year or will rise to the “Call of the Hall”, but his credentials are not quite the lock many would ascribe to him. So one wonders about “the bridge too far” – sentimental favorite, absolutely, but. statistically, is he closer to Fred McGriff – a victim of the steriod era. Anyhow, the Chipper issue is fairly large. The Braves, while deep, are counting on him, and the potential hole he could create is substantial. This is not a powerful club – balanced, deep, versatile, veteran – yes indeed, but, there do exist weaknesses. Speed can be overrated, especially, if you are limited in this area; and 2011 Braves, while improved, are, at best, average. Jason Heyward has promise that he will equal Hank Aaron’s second year in the bigs: 153 games played, 189 hits, 37 doubles, 9 triples, 27 Hr’s and all the OBP/SLG/OPS that are boringly associated with those numbers.

If Heywood goes Francoer, rather than Aaron, and CJ earns but a slice of his 14 million dollars, Braves make the post-season with their pitching, versatility, and intangibles. Let’s talk then.

Bravesfan54

February 4th, 2011
12:55 am

Enter your comments here

summer of 91

February 4th, 2011
2:15 am

chipper is a lock for the hall because he’s a switch hitter, no disrespect to Chip, but he wouldn’t be as much of a lock if he wasn’t a switch hitter. I think only Mantle and Eddie Murray have better offensive numbers, I might be wrong but that comes out of my head for some reason, I didn’t google it. But the Bravos year depends on him and I would say we need a similar year from Martin prado, I wouldn’t mind about 5 more bombs….but the most important person this year is Nate, if Nate can be what were paying him to be then we’ll win the card. the baseball gods will not be kind to the Phillies this year, I just have a feeling about that.

Reid Adair

February 4th, 2011
2:26 am

Can we please stop getting quotes from Frank Wren? His nonsense and lies have long since become a waste of time. Let’s limit quotes to Fredi Gonzalez and the players.

acbwcmm

February 4th, 2011
3:03 am

I agree 100% with The Grinch. The Phillie’s are overrated and old. They will have a tough rotation (if they all stay healthy), but that doesn’t mean their offense will produce. Last year they would go in absurdly long funks and not score any runs. I’m not sold on them at all.

acbwcmm

February 4th, 2011
3:04 am

Mitchell, maybe they didn’t include Prado due to him being slotted for LF this year? I hope that is the reason. He is definitely in the top 10 of 2nd basemen in baseball right now!

David O'Brien

February 4th, 2011
7:29 am

Reid Adair, did Wren take your lunch money once in grade school?

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
7:30 am

First the good. I am very excited about the depth of this pen. Kimbrel, Venters, Moylan and EOF are formidable, despite persistent posters who try to make way too much about rookie status and strike zone concerns. If Proctor, Sherrill, and Linebrink give the team anything, it’s a great positive, and the odds are that at least one if not two of them will definitely contribute. Plus, there are others just chomping at the bit to get their shot. Add in the rotation, and the Braves pitching is solid. Period.

Now the bad. As is usual, it only took 6 posts before someone began with the Eeyore comments – “Oh, bother. Chipper can’t play, he will forever be hurt, blah blah blah.”

Note to those non-fans whose lives depend on them posting anti-Braves comments – we don’t care that you hate Chipper. We don’t care that you want attention so badly that you will call Bobby Cox the worst manager of all time. We certainly don’t care that you will make up ridiculous things to try and make your points. We get that you don’t like the Braves. DLTDHYOTWO and good riddance.

Finishing up with more good. This has the makings of a very solid team. No, odds are that not everyone will have a career year, but odds are against total collapses by several players as well. With Uggla added to the lineup, those who have cried about lack of power have been silenced, or at least forced to restrict their whining to backup SS’s.

Go Braves

Let's Go

February 4th, 2011
7:37 am

I don’t think losing Billy Wagner is going to be that big of a deal. He was good but far from the dominant closer he was in his prime. He had 7 blown saves and his hits & walk totals were not top closer quality. Luckly he still had the strikeouts because he made a lot of games closer than we would have liked.

I like Kimbrel and after watching the way he changed during his second call up last year I believe he has the tools to be the man for many years.

Saito was different because you knew if he was pitching on 2 days rest it was going to be lights out but because of his age you were limited on how many times you could use him in a week.

I would like to see Venters get the shot at being the 8th inning set up guy and see if he can handle the work load. It was obvious he was tired in September but you had to expect that since last year was the most he had ever pitched.

I think another factor will be if Fredi uses or overuses the bullpin as much as Bobby did.

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
7:38 am

Bravesfan54 – just where did you hear about Chipper having this supposed history of ST “Veterans Disease”? I would love to see a link provided.

I won’t get into your dismissal of his HOF chances, as you do state that is your opinion, and that it’s contrary to the opinions of many others.

Bonè

February 4th, 2011
8:06 am

In JJ his language we say: Ban tende Braves. Kampion nos ta.

Peter

February 4th, 2011
8:49 am

This is going to be a great season. We are definately a lot closer to the Phillies than a lot of people think, although they should definately be considered the favorites. Our pen is much stronger than theres and i believe that assuming everybody stays healthy we might even have the better offense. The only thing that concerns me is the thing that plagued us at the end of last year: defense. We are definately upgraded from the playoffs last year with conrad, but we still have a lot of question marks. I do think that we have the more “well rounded” team than the Phillies do.

Bravesfan

February 4th, 2011
8:50 am

When is Wagner coming off the 40 man roster?

Phillies choke harder than a pornstar.

February 4th, 2011
9:38 am

Hey Bobby Flops, you should make a point to be at the Ted for the first game between the Braves and Phillies this year. See how much you like to talk trash after I curb stomp your a55.

jim

February 4th, 2011
9:47 am

To the poster that asked why Prado is not one of the top 10 second basemen on the ESPN list –

Maybe it’s because he’s now a left fielder.

Buzz Meat

February 4th, 2011
9:50 am

At this rate, would not surprise me if Billy does actually come back. Not saying that he will however.

jim

February 4th, 2011
9:51 am

DOB
How were the Braves able to remove KK from the 40-man without passing him through waivers? Wouldn’t one of those mythical teams willing to pick him up for 2 million be able to get him for next to nothing off the waiver wire, and if no team did that, why would anybody pay 2-3 million later on?

Buzz Meat

February 4th, 2011
9:59 am

I might be wrong, but I think he was on waivers last august.

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
10:06 am

I don’t think they put him on waivers, I think they optioned him. Besides, if he was picked up on waivers, they would be responsible for the entire contract.

Buzz Meat

February 4th, 2011
10:07 am

jim

February 4th, 2011
10:08 am

If nobody picks him up off waivers then, why would they pay 2 million for him now?

Buzz Meat

February 4th, 2011
10:08 am

“Your on the Internet, Look it up!!!!!!”

-John Schiambi

Bobby Cox

February 4th, 2011
10:11 am

Chris Reitsma and Dan Kolb are available. I hear they are pitching “lights out” in the simulated games, the sames ones where McLouth & Schafer are hitting .400

Angie

February 4th, 2011
10:14 am

DOB, So it’s going to be Venters as the set up man & Kimbrel as the closer (like last year with Venters & Wags)? Either way – I like it.

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
10:16 am

My bad. I found the article where they said KK passed through waivers. The article said no teams were willing to pick up his entire salary which is why he passed through.

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
10:16 am

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
10:19 am

Wow, it’s nice when the page updates and I can see that someone already posted the link. sheesh.

Okay, to answer Jim – if they picked up KK on waivers, they would be responsible for his entire salary of almost $7 Million.

jim

February 4th, 2011
10:28 am

My bad. I didn’t realize the claiming team was responsible for the whole contract.

jim

February 4th, 2011
10:46 am

It seems to me that if there is a team willing to take KK for 2 million, then Wren is gambling that 2 million to make 1 additional million. If KK pitches well this spring, there may be a team willing to go 3 million for his services (the Yankees?), but if he sucks, it is unlikely he could be unloaded for the 2 million. I can’t see a non-contending team picking him up when they would be better off giving the rotation spot to a cheaper prospect from their system. Of the contending teams, which one would he help? Scratch the Phils, Red Sox, Giants, and Cards from the list immediately. If the Brewers think they are a contender, they might need a 5th starter and the Yankees might need an upgrade from Colon, Garcia, or Millwood, if KK is considered an upgrade. Even the Mets rotation of Pelfry, Maine, Niese, Santana, and Dickey doesn’t have room for KK. Even though Bernie Madoff and some other swindler could sell the Wilpongs the Brooklyn Bridge, it is doubtful that Frank Wren could get them to buy KK.

The Living Legend

February 4th, 2011
10:48 am

I like the bullpen. I think we have one of the best pens we have ever had in the last couple of years. We have strong starting pitching, and we will not lose a beat when we bring in the pen. Our pitching is not something to take for granted, the Yankees cannot even buy pitching right now and if they can get to the pen, I am not sure they have enough to get to the 8th and 9th innings of Soriano and Riveria. Outside of maybe (and it is a maybe) the Giants, I am not sure anyone in the league can match this pen. I just hope there will be enough games where the Braves have a 4-5 run lead so Venters and Kimbrel are not over-used. I kept thinking Venters’ arm would fall off last year, I thought he was used too much, but it did not seem to bother him in the playoffs, so apparently he can handle the load.

Coach13

February 4th, 2011
10:51 am

Just pick a friggin’ closer!! Don’t give me this crap that “venters and others might help out in this role”!!!! Either Kimbrell is your closer or he isn’t!! You can’t have him out there wondering if he’s the man that night! I don’t care if there are 3 lefties coming to bat or not!! He either is or he isn’t!!

SoCalBrave

February 4th, 2011
10:55 am

@Mitchell: Prado was on MLB Network’s Top Ten left fielders right now show (I think he was #7). Mitch Williams said that Prado should be playing second base and Uggla left field on last night’s show.

jim

February 4th, 2011
10:59 am

Coach,
If Utley, Howard, and Ibanez were coming to bat in the 9th inning and both men were available, I think I would go with Venters in that situation.

C'Mon Man

February 4th, 2011
11:02 am

Living Legend, last year was probably the best Braves bullpen I have seen since 2002. That year was crazy sick though. The expectations were to win the World Series that year , but we know how that goes. Of the guys with 50 or more appearances:

Tim Spooneybarger 2.63 ERA
Kerry Ligtenberg 2.97 ERA
Kevin Gryboski 3.48 ERA
Darren Holmes 1.81 ERA
Mike Remlinger 1.99 ERA
Chris Hammond 0.95 ERA
John Smoltz 3.25 ERA 55 SV

Now i’m still a young man, but I would have to say that is at least one of the best bullpens in my lifetime from a statistical standpoint to say the least.

C'Mon Man

February 4th, 2011
11:04 am

By the way is it not odd that the Giants knocked us out that year as well, and also went to the world series? lol

The Living Legend

February 4th, 2011
11:11 am

Whatever happened to Spooney and Ligtenberg? They were pimp!!!!!!!! And Bong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

O'flarity's water bottle

February 4th, 2011
11:12 am

DOB, someone on one of the blogs made an astute observation. Chipper Jones has a bad workout program on getting in shape, thus having being injuried alot. Was is your opion about that?

C'Mon Man

February 4th, 2011
11:14 am

Spooney plays in a band with AJ Burnett called “Mad Ink”… Last time i heard Ligtenberg was trying to make a comeback through a semi-pro league… Bong was in the Classic 2 years ago but now who knows..

bobbymahlon

February 4th, 2011
11:57 am

Mitchell:
I think because our second baseman is Uggla that is the reason Prado is not listed. He is our left fielder and backup third baseman. But you are right if he was slated for second I would have him right up in the top two or three. And a year like last I would not trade him for any other second baseman in the game.

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
12:00 pm

coach13 @ 10:51 – you really think they should annoint a closer during the first week of February?

socalbrave @ 10:55 – While I’m not saying he’s right or wrong in this one case, I’m not sure I would listen to much of anything Mitch Williams says.

o’flarity’s water bottle @ 11:12 – I have asked several posters for a link to back up this rumor about Chipper’s workout routines. No one has posted anything. The only time I have ever seen anything on it has been a poster said it and then another poster picked up on it and repeated it and now you have done the same. I don’t call that an “astute observation”. It’s a rumor that was started by one single blog poster, until proven by a link from an actual source.

What I have seen in print is that Chipper has a very good workout routine. DOB’s own blog mentioned it within the last week. He said Chipper was in there 4-5 times per week and when he was not working on the legs, he was building up his upper body strength which according to DOB is in pretty good shape right, especially for January.

This is from DOB’s blog from two days ago

“Only 5-1/2 months after major surgery on his left knee, the soon-to-be 39-year-old has worked himself back into what appears to be pretty good shape.

“He’s admittedly got some flab – not much, but some — around the midsection to work off, which he expects to happen once he begins more rigorous running and agility drills by the end of this week.

“But he really looks strong, with considerably more muscle in his arms and chest than at the end of last season. He didn’t do much exercise for two months while recovering from Aug. 14 knee surgery and staying with the team to support his ‘mates through the end of the season and the division-series loss to the Giants.

“This winter, however, if Jones wasn’t on a hunting trip he could often be found in the basement gym of his suburban Atlanta home. He said he worked out four or five times a week, and was in his weight room every day “doing something.”

“I was down there having to do leg stuff, because the leg just doesn’t feel good unless I’m working out,” he said. He smiled and said, “I did some other stuff while I was down there.”

“The other stuff was upper-body work. The old man’s still got some guns, with those triceps and shoulders looking more fit than in years. Jones is 6 feet 4 and weighs 227 pounds, which is about the same as his playing weight before the injury.”

That hardly sounds to me as if Chipper has a “bad workout routine” but as I said, please provide a link if you have different information.

hesalive

February 4th, 2011
12:03 pm

A collection of high priced players – like the one in Philadelphia – does not a great team make.If the chips fall in the right places Atlanta can compete for the East title; faith the size of a mustard seed can move any mountain. Read Hebrews 11.

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
12:11 pm

I assume this is the “astute observation” quote that o’flarity’s water bottle was referring to

“It’s disappointing to see Chipper focus solely on his upper body strength (”guns”) neglecting his core muscle training issues. The majority of his injuries have come from oblique, groin, hip, hamstring, and quadriceps injuries.”

This post was from the same blog that I posted from above. Notice if this person had actually read the blog, they would have seen that Chipper was expressly not “neglecting his core muscle training issues.”

Cherry picking certain phrases out of a long article and then attempting to make that into a story does not work. If you hate Chipper, fine, but don’t bother making stuff up in order to validate the hate.

Coach13

February 4th, 2011
12:30 pm

Jim and Ramblingman- Eckersley, Hoffman, Wagner, Rivera, all were the annointed closers. There was and is no “well let’s look at the lineup and see how it stacks up”.

I’ll say this; I was a closer in college and I knew that in a close game that I was going to be called upon. I never had to think to myself well it could be Jonny depending on how the lineup was set up. Closing is a mindset and it’s hard to get in that mindset if there is another option.

RICHARD

February 4th, 2011
12:48 pm

braves fans talking about the age of the phillies.as usual you dont know what your talking about.the braves avg.age for position players 31.6 phillies 31.6. as usual you finish behind the phillies again.

RICHARD

February 4th, 2011
12:58 pm

Enter your comments here

C'Mon Man

February 4th, 2011
1:14 pm

Richard (Dick), That’s Ironic… I think i heard the reverse of that for like 14 years haha

C'Mon Man

February 4th, 2011
1:28 pm

Oh and (Dick), the average age for the Braves position players for opening day will be 28.5, and that is with a 38 year old Chipper Jones making that number so high…. Just Saying…

RICHARD

February 4th, 2011
1:32 pm

braves fans ever heard the saying go falcons take 2nd place braves with ya……ha ha ha ha

Smiling Jack

February 4th, 2011
1:33 pm

“While some fans may worry…..other pitchers don’t see it that way..” Well,, that’s the fans job; to worry, to fear, to criticize, to nay say, to put down, to find fault. The fans don’t have to play, put out any effort on the field, no blood sweat nor tears from fans. It is the players job to play, the put out the blood, sweat and tears, they have to have confidence. Listening to fans tear them down constantly certainly will never build their confidence. So I say, let the fans worry and hope the players never read the AJC blogs. What a bunch of dummies.

Smiling Jack

February 4th, 2011
1:34 pm

GO BRAVES…Spring training is just around the corner and most of us can hardly wait for the new season! Go Braves!

C'Mon Man

February 4th, 2011
1:38 pm

Nope Richard must be a Philadelphia thing HAHA

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
1:38 pm

coach13 @ 12:30

“Jim and Ramblingman- Eckersley, Hoffman, Wagner, Rivera, all were the annointed closers. There was and is no “well let’s look at the lineup and see how it stacks up”. ”

I may be misunderstanding you, but it appears you are advocating that a closer have a defined job during the season, which helps them prepare mentally for the job at hand. Yet it also appears you are demanding they name the closer today…right now…in order to alleviate any confusion.

How about a compromise and we allow the team to play some spring training games before they start nailing down positions. All of the players you mentioned, as well as every other closer in history, had their beginning, their first year. How many of them were told “congrats, you are the closer” before their first spring training or first full year?

Now, if you are actually saying they should not have what is typically referred to as a “closer by committee” system, it’s been used and has worked before. Regardless, using a leftie in a situation where it’s called for and giving the regular closer a rest is not exactly a bad thing.

RICHARD

February 4th, 2011
1:41 pm

I’m only a Phillies fan cause i think Chase Utley’s Butt is cute….

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
1:43 pm

Richard, your post at 12:58 may be the smartest thing you’ve posted on here in quite awhile

Lemke's Knuckler

February 4th, 2011
1:47 pm

That 2002 bullpen ended up being the great, but I bet you no one thought that entering the season. Smoltz was still an unknown coming off surgery and if you remember he struggled mightily the beginning of the season (otherwise he would’ve had an ERA under 2.00). Hammond and Holmes were scraps picked up from other teams (neither had pitched in the majors the season before, Hammond not since 1998). Grybowski had never thrown an inning in the majors. Spooney was a projectable but unproven rookie. Remlinger and Lightenburg were the only guys anyone would have expected decent seasons from.

My point, I’ll take the current 7 guys as of February 4, 2011 over those 7 guys circa February 4, 2002.

C'Mon Man

February 4th, 2011
1:50 pm

I’ll agree with you there Lemmer… but that was one heck of a year out of the pen… Looking forward to this season for sure though…

Edge

February 4th, 2011
2:16 pm

If you’re an Atlanta/Georgia Sports fan and want to talk with other fans, check out our NEW message board.

http://www.atlsportsnation.com/forum

We have team forums for the Falcons, Bulldogs, Hawks, Braves, Yellow Jackets, Thrashers, etc. Please register and post! Be apart of a huge site in the early days of existence. See ya there!

Captain Obvious

February 4th, 2011
2:43 pm

ramblingman is my HERO!!! I REALLY like how he sometimes answers questions by saying “we ….” as if he is speaking for all of us. (7:30 am). Don’t EVER say anything even mildly critical of the Braves or the Jocksniffer will say…SEND ME A LINK, as if your opinion doesn’t count. I’m not sure who the bigger tool is on the ajc blogs: WrexNEffex on the GT blogs, or ramblinman here.

collegeballfan

February 4th, 2011
2:44 pm

I just checked the Braves website & Billy Wagner is still on the 40 man roster.

I know! I know! “Just paperwork and we are not worried.”

Bottom line is Wagner is still on the roster.

Brave New World

February 4th, 2011
3:08 pm

In 2011 The Braves will have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. They have very good starting pitching and a potentially great bullpen. Adding Uggla helps the lineup tremendously. If Chipper comes back even for 135 games it will be a plus. The Braves also do not have the pressure of over-inflated expectations that the Phillies have. Adding Cliff Lee will not have the impact on the Phillies that adding Uggla will have for the Braves. The Phillies should have outstanding starting pitching, a fair to good bullpen, and a very good lineup. Can’t wait for 2011 – it’s going to be fun. GO BRAVES!

ramblingman

February 4th, 2011
3:13 pm

captain oblivious, when I typed that comment at 7:30, I was speaking for Braves fans who have said multiple times that they are tired of the flamers, whiners, and trolls who constantly bash Braves players and management. If you are not one of those fans, then obviously I was not speaking for you.

As to the links, I asked for a link twice in this thread…once by saying “I would love to see a link” and once by asking “please provide a link” because the post made reference to something that I have seen nowhere else. It’s a fairly common request in blogdom. Sorry if it upsets you that people be held accountable for what they claim. BTW, they are not claiming it is their opinion, they are claiming it’s a fact, so your retort is moot.

I know it’s been awhile since you crawled out and attacked me, but you have not lost your ability to get personal without refuting anything. Sorry to burst your bubble yet again.

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