Braves avoid arbitration with the “O” in bullpen trio

O'Flaherty led the majors with a 0.98 ERA, the first pitcher in history with a sub-1.00 ERA in 70 or more relief appearances.

O'Flaherty led the majors with a 0.98 ERA, the first pitcher in history with a sub-1.00 ERA in 70 or more relief appearances.

He led major league relievers with an 0.98 ERA, yet drew only the third-most notoriety in a Braves bullpen that was represented by Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters on the National League All-Star team.

Eric O’Flaherty wasn’t an All-Star, but the veteran lefty was arguably the team’s most consistent reliever from start to finish, and Monday the O in “O’Ventbrel” got paid.

O’Flaherty and the Braves agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.49 million contract, a 178-percent raise for the Washington state native who was eligible for arbitration for the second time.

He closed the season with 20 consecutive scoreless appearances and became the first reliever in major league history to post a sub-1.00 ERA in 70 or more appearances. O’Flaherty had 78 appearances, tied for fifth-most in the majors.

He signed three days after left fielder Martin Prado agreed to a one-year, $4.75 million deal with the Braves, leaving the team with two remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible players — pitcher Jair Jurrjens and center fielder Michael Bourn.

Jurrjens and Bourn both are clients of powerful agent Scott Boras. Any remaining arb-eligible players unsigned on Tuesday will swap salary figures with teams and arbitration hearings will be scheduled for the first two weeks of February.

Jurrjens, in his second year of arbitration, will likely get a raise to around $5 million or more after making $3.25 million in 2011, a season that began splendidly for the right-hander but was cut short (again) by a knee injury.

He went 13-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 23 starts, none after August. The Braves made Jurrjens available on the trade market this offseason, but haven’t drawn suitable offers – and probably won’t until he allays other teams’ concerns about his right knee.

Bourn, 29, in his final year of arb eligibility before free agency, could possibly command a salary of $7 million after making $4.4 million with Houston and Atlanta in 2011. He hit .294 with a .349 on-base percentage and majors-leading 61 stolen bases, and can become a free agent after the 2011 season.

If arb-eligible players and teams don’t come to terms before swapping salary figures Tuesday, the sides can continue to negotiate right up until a scheduled hearing next month. Both sides generally try to settle a midpoint between swapped figures to avoid a potentially acrimonious arbitration hearing.

However, Boras has taken plenty of clients to arbitration hearings over the years.

If a case goes to hearing, an arbitration panel chooses either the salary request by the player or the salary offered by the team – but nothing between those two amounts.

The Braves have gone to arbitration hearings with players 24 times since the current system began in 1974. But they’ve managed to avoid hearings for several years, with Jeff Francoeur in 2009 the closest they’ve come recently.

Francoeur was just hours from getting on a plane to fly to Phoenix for his hearing during spring training in February ’09 when he agreed just before midnight on a one-year, $3.375 million contract. When the sides swapped salary-arbitration figures, he had asked for $3.95 million and the team offered $2.8 million.

Bourn, who has a Gold Glove and three consecutive NL stolen-base titles, could command up to $7 million in arbitration. He and Jair Jurrjens are the Braves' only unsigned arb-eligibles entering Tuesday, and both are clients of Scott Boras.

Bourn, who has a Gold Glove and three consecutive NL stolen-base titles, could command up to $7 million in arbitration. He and Jair Jurrjens are the Braves' only unsigned arb-eligibles entering Tuesday, and both are clients of Scott Boras.

♣ More on “O”: Other than the storm headed his way that’s expected to drop another foot of snow on Seattle, things were going well Monday night for O’Flaherty, who for the first time has moved into the seven-digit salary club.

O’Flaherty made $895,000 in 2011 and led big-league relievers in ERA while working in 78 games, one fewer than Kimbrel and seven behind major-league appearance leader Venters.

O’Flaherty had a 0.75 ERA in 38 road appearances, and a 0.70 ERA in 56 night games (1.61 in 22 day games).

In 49 appearances after June 6, he posted a miniscule 0.58 ERA and 41 strikeouts with 13 walks in 46-1/3 innings, and the Braves went 35-14 in those games.

One of the few Braves not to struggle down the stretch, O’Flaherty worked 19-2/3 scoreless innings in 20 appearances after Aug. 15, with one walk and 16 strikeouts.

He was a model of consistency, despite a couple of midseason episodes of back stiffness. (Considering how Venters and Kimbrel seemed to tire in September from the season-long heavy workload, perhaps the stiff back that forced O’Flaherty to be shelved for a few days a couple of times wasn’t a bad thing….)

O’Flaherty had two full months with no earned runs allowed – July (14 appearances, 12 innings) and September (14 appearances, 14 innings). Three other months, he allowed two earned runs or fewer in 12 or more appearances.

Opponents hit .221 with a .283 on-base percentage against him, and O’Flaherty limited lefties to a .195 average (17-for-87) with only four extra-base hits, two walks, 25 strikeouts and a .237 OBP and .513 OPS.

With runners in scoring position, hitters were 12-for-66 (.182) with a .212 slugging percentage. With bases loaded, O’Flaherty held folks hitless (0-for-8) with no walks, five strikeouts and one RBI.

In two-strike counts, he had a .175 opponents’ average (25-for-143) with five walks and 67 strikeouts.

By the way, Phillies hitters were 5-for-29 (.172) against O’Flaherty in 2011 with one double, one walk and 10 strikeouts. For their careers, Philly stars Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are a combined 4-for-33 against the lefty, with one RBI, two walks and seven strikeouts.

♣ And something on “Z”: For those who missed it in the comments section after Carlos Zambrano was dumped – er, traded to Florida from the Chicago Cubs recently, here’s a stat to consider: He is 2-5 with a 6.08 ERA in 13 starts vs. Braves, his worst record and ERA against any team he’s faced more than once.

The Braves could have several more chances to face Carlos Zambrano, who was recently traded to the Miami Marlins.

The Braves could have several more chances to face Carlos Zambrano, who was recently traded to the Miami Marlins.

“Big Z” is 0-5 in his past 11 starts against the Braves including 0-3 with a 13.89 ERA in three starts over the past three seasons.

Brian McCann is 9-for-14 with a homer and five RBI against him, while Chipper Jones is 9-for-27 with two homers, six RBIs, four walks and one strikeout.

Chipper the last batter Zambrano faced before his famous meltdown last summer. He twice threw at Chipper (and missed) to earn an ejection in a game that completely spiraled on the Cubs and Zambrano. Then he glared and smiled at Chipper, fans and assorted others as he walked off the field, stopping before going to the clubhouse, where he cleared out his locker, told some people he was retiring, and left.

Could be interesting if he faces the Braves 3-5 times this coming season.

♣Leftover Murph notes, quotes, anecdotes: Only three players eligible for the Hall of Fame have won multiple MVPs and not been enshrined at Cooperstown: Roger Maris, Dale Murphy and Juan Gonzalez.

Juan is no longer eligible for the writers’ ballot, having gone two-and-gonzo after receiving just 23 Hall of Fame votes (4 percent of ballots cast) this year in his second year up for vote. He fell short of the 5 percent required to remain on the ballot. (75 percent is required for election.)

Just two years and Juan Gone is. Gone, that is. His link to steroids and and mention in the Mitchell Report disqualify him in the eyes of the vast majority of BBWAA voters — and likely in the view of Veterans Committee members, most of whom have stronger feelings about “steroid cheats” than do most writers.

The next multi-MVP player who’ll be eligible and put the steroid-suspicion voting mess to an exponentially more severe and controversial test is Barry Lamar Bonds, who’ll debut on the Hall of Fame ballot next winter, with his seven MVP awards, 762 homers, 2,558 walks, 415 steals, .444 OBP and 1.051 OPS. Oh, and eight Gold Gloves.

What on earth is going to happen when the votes are counted?

Is anyone really confident enough to set an over-under on the percentage of votes that the BALCO poster boy of swollen head sizes and cartoonishly superior stats – 73 homers at age 36? .609 OBP and 1.422 OPS at AGE 39?! – will receive from BBWAA voters, many of whom believe, like me, that Bonds was a Hall of Famer even before he, uh, beefed up and started his pursuit of the real home run king, Hank Aaron? Other writers say they’ll never vote for him or anyone else they believe did steroids. Still others say they’ve either decided or are leaning toward deciding to throw their hands in the air and vote like they just don’t care – about ‘roid suspicions, that is. (Let’s hope that voting bloc remains a minority.)

We’ll have plenty of time to debate here and elsewhere about Bonds and other suspected steroid users as some of the best players in generations hit the Hall of Fame ballot, including Roger Clemens. But to give you some idea of the quandary that many voters feel like they’re in, I’m going to share a few more quotes from writers I talked to a couple of weeks ago when I did a Hall of Fame preview story.

I asked a few guys about Buster Olney’s theory that some worthy Hall candidates including former Braves ace John Smoltz, who’s eligible three years from now, might have to wait a year or a few years to get enough votes because of all the votes that could be siphoned by steroid-era players who’ll get more than enough support to remain on the ballot but not enough votes to get in for a long time, if ever.

Voting writers have a 10-player limit on their ballots each year, and Buster thinks that a lot of votes are going to go year after year to players stalled by steroid suspicions.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com had this to say when I asked him about that situation:

Some think Smoltz might have to wait a few years to get in the Hall of Fame, while Maddux (middle) and Glavine (right) are 300-game winners and first-ballot locks.

Some think Smoltz might have to wait a few years to get in the Hall of Fame, while Maddux (middle) and Glavine (right) are 300-game winners and first-ballot locks.

“I’ve heard more writers than ever talk about the 10-player limit being a problem, and there’s some validity to that observation. I don’t expect Bonds, Clemens, Sheffield, Sosa and the other ‘steroid guys’ to make the Hall for a while — if ever. But based on the vote totals for McGwire and Palmeiro, they’re likely to clutter up the ballot for years while attracting anywhere from 10 to 40-50 percent of the vote.

“That said, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly will be dropping off the ballot soon, so that will create some room,” Crasnick said. “And I’m not sure how adversely a crowded ballot will affect Smoltz. It could have just as big an impact on guys like Larry Walker or Fred McGriff, whose support is pretty marginal. Voters might ultimately find themselves having to choose between Smoltz and Curt Schilling or Walker and the Crime Dog.

“I think guys like Smoltz and Schilling (and Mike Mussina, for that matter) might have to wait a couple of years to build the requisite support, anyway. The 10-player limit could hurt Smoltz at the outset, but I think he has a pretty good shot to make it. He just might have to wait a little longer than Maddux and Glavine.”

Braves icons Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, each with 300-plus wins, are considered locks for first-ballot election two years from now.”

Chicago Tribune writer Phil Rogers also opined on the 10-player limit and how Smoltz and others could be penalized by suspected steroid users who linger on the ballot for years.

“There’s no question that it’s going to be a long ballot in future seasons, with a lot of otherwise strong candidates hanging around because of their ties to PEDs, but I would hope that wouldn’t affect others, including Smoltz,” Rogers said. “If a guy’s worthy, I vote for him. And if some voters do find they have more than 10 guys they want to vote for — because of the PED guys — then I’d hope they would give the benefit of the doubt to a fresh candidate not caught in the gridlock.”

Rogers added, “What I’d like to see is the Hall’s board of directors provide BBWAA voters with some guidelines on how they want to see this handled. I think the current system guarantees that dubious guys will not get in because of the voting instructions that raise the question of integrity.

Since Gonzalez is out because of the steroid cloud over his head, and Maris was dropped from the ballot after getting a personal-best 43.1 percent of the vote in 1988 in his 15th and final year of eligibility on the writers’ ballot, the only multi-MVP player currently eligible to be voted in by the BBWAA is Murphy.

He’s only got one more year on the ballot after getting just 14.5 percent of the votes this year in his 14th time put to a vote. Murphy’s best vote total was 23.2 percent back in 2000, his second year on the ballot.

Maris got a lot more HOF votes than Murphy despite having a far less impressive overall body of work. Of course, one of Maris' three 30-homer seasons was a momentous 61-HR record job.

Maris got a lot more HOF votes than Murphy despite having a far less impressive overall body of work. Of course, one of Maris' three 30-homer seasons was a momentous 61-HR record job.

Maris, who hit .260 with a .345 OBP and .822 OPS, and had 275 homers and 850 RBIs, exceeded 40 percent in each his last three years on the ballot. Murphy, who hit .265 with a .346 OBP and .815 OPS, had 398 homers and 1,266 RBIs, has been below 15 percent for the past 11 years.

Murphy was a seven-time All-Star who won five Gold Gloves and had six 30-homer seasons. Maris was a four-time All-Star with one Gold Glove and three 30-homer seasons. Of course he played for the Yankees, and one of those 30-plus home run seasons was his record-smashing 61-homer run for the ages in 1961.

“Guys like Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly are perfect candidates for the Veterans Committee,” Rogers said. “Alan Trammell too. Personally, I haven’t voted for Murphy but I’ve always had a little nagging feeling that I should. There’s no question that career numbers are the biggest — easiest — benchmark and there are times you lean on them.

“I wonder how Murphy’s case would look if he had played for the Braves a decade later than he did.”

♣ Let’s close with a great tune by one of Dale Murphy’s favorite bands, Wilco. You can hear (and see) a live version of it by clicking here.

15511_wilco2

“MISUNDERSTOOD” by Wilco (J. Tweedy)

When you’re back in your old neighborhood
The cigarettes taste so good
But you’re so misunderstood
You’re so misunderstood

There’s something there that you can’t find
You look honest when you’re telling a lie
You hurt her but you don’t know why
You love her but you don’t know why

Short on long term goals
There’s a party there that we ought to go to
If you still love rock and roll
You still love rock and roll?

It’s only a quarter to three
Reflecting off of your CD
You’re looking at a picture of me
You’re staring at a picture of me

Take the guitar player for a ride
‘Cause he ain’t never been satisfied
He thinks he owes some kind of debt
It’ll be years before he gets over it

There’s a fortune inside your head
When all you touch turns to lead
You think you might just crawl back in bed
With the fortune inside your head

I know you’re just a mama’s boy
You’re positively unemployed
So misunderstood
So misunderstood

I know you’ve got a god-shaped hole
You’re bleeding out your heart full of soul
You’re so misunderstood
You’re so misunderstood
You’re so misunderstood
You’re so misunderstood

I’d like to thank you all for nothing
I’d like to thank you all for nothing at all
I’d like to thank you all for nothing
Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all
Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all

by David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

3,784 comments Add your comment

Jeff R

January 17th, 2012
6:14 am

Did I actually make it on first?

Derek

January 17th, 2012
6:18 am

Braves fear Big Z? We sent him into retirement 1 time…we’ll do it again. Maybe we can make him spontaneously combust in the clubhouse.

nolie

January 17th, 2012
6:21 am

VJ, new tv show called SMASH on NBC about the making of a Broadway musical

chipl1960

January 17th, 2012
6:27 am

damn. almost. Oh well. Thanks DOB. Listening to MLB on XM last night on drive home and Cliff Floyd had many interesting things to say about our Braves. In summary, he said if players rebound to norms and there are no health issues Braves will be right there. Chipper, JJ, Hanson are key he said. All the hand-wringing this off season and references to “the collapse” will fade away soon enough if we play to the norms expected. No need to panic in the ATL.

MikeY

January 17th, 2012
7:04 am

I think it is Big Z that has to fear the Braves. Zambrano still has to hit, you know. I hope he has a batting helmet that provides superb protection for that magnificent brain of his.

I still remember Chipper’s comment on the post-game show after the Zambrano meltdown, when asked if the Braves would retaliate: “I think we’ll just let dead dogs lie.”

I thought that was a classic.

ChopAttack

January 17th, 2012
7:05 am

No more O’Ventbrel… the nickname is the Untouchables.

Chopdawg

January 17th, 2012
7:06 am

Tell O’Flaherty to send some of that snow down here! I need another day off.

Russell Bell

January 17th, 2012
7:17 am

Boras playing hard ball with JJ and Bourne’s contracts… not surprised. He’s had a fairly poor offseason, client-wise (at least, to this point). Someone has to pay up for his boys – be it on the open market or in arbitration.

MWC

January 17th, 2012
7:19 am

thanks for the new info Dave…

Jeff R

January 17th, 2012
7:28 am

O’Flaherty deserves the dough. No question.

GOP Cannon

January 17th, 2012
7:41 am

So the Braves have still done nothing?

bulldogbubba

January 17th, 2012
8:02 am

Quit goofing.Sign them and lets play ball.Have they started working out at Turner Field yet?

MikeY

January 17th, 2012
8:02 am

GOP Cannon, basically, you are right. We’ve dumped Lowe, McLouth, Kawakami, Linebrink, A Gonzalez, and Sherrill. Re-signed Jack Wilson. And we have Bourn and Diaz for the whole year. Not what I would call earth-shaking moves.

From my view, we have 14 pitchers that belong on SOMEONE’s major-league roster at the start of 2012: Hudson, Hanson, JJ, Beachy, Minor, Medlin, Teheran, Vizcaino, Delgado, Kimbrell, Venters, O’Flaherty, Varvaro, and Martinez. And Fish that we took in the Rule 5 draft, that we have to give back if he is not on our 25-man roster. Sure seems like we should trade one of these guys (JJ, once he proves himself healthy) for a good bat.

Until then the Braves seem content (or financially constrained) to live with their 8 position player starters w/ backups of Ross, Diaz, Jack Wilson, and Hinske. It sure seems to me that we looked awfully bad against good left-handed pitching last year. Looked at the team stats for 2011, and vs LHP we were DEAD LAST in the majors, hitting .228. Ouch. We really need another option in right field to let Heyward sit vs. tough lefties. One option might be Jonny Gomes, he has a.281/.375/.501 career batting line against southpaws, and might come cheap. He does suck vs. RH pitching.

So, we seem to have a weath of pitching and a few holes in our batting order. Looks like we will see a lot more close games, extra inning games, and overuse of our bullpen aces. Medlin could be a big help there.

Rufus

January 17th, 2012
8:09 am

How is it that these writers can justify voting for roided-up cheaters like McGuire, Sosa, etc. and not vote for the poster-boy achievements of Murphy? My goodness, he was the Braves during the time he played, was incredibly successful, and did it without cheating. What else is required to make the Hall?

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

January 17th, 2012
8:11 am

Oh, Gawd, They are Playing “Piano Man” by Billy Joel on 97.1 The River, Bleh!

That song is Gawd-Awful….

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

January 17th, 2012
8:13 am

Rufus

“How is it that these writers can justify voting for roided-up cheaters like McGuire, Sosa, etc. and not vote for the poster-boy achievements of Murphy? My goodness, he was the Braves during the time he played, was incredibly successful, and did it without cheating. What else is required to make the Hall?”

Co-Sign! I watched 1993 Video last night of Fred McGriff and Man was He Bad from 1993-94!

He will hold the Record for number of Stadiums/Parks that he has hit a homer in and that will never be Broken

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

January 17th, 2012
8:14 am

How that 1993 Team Got upset when Gant McGriff and Justice all combined for over 100 homers, absolutely befuddles me!

Ty Cobb

January 17th, 2012
8:16 am

Baseball is so beyond repairable..the HOF is a joke. Murph didn’t cheat and that should be an honor itself these days.

Patio Daddio

January 17th, 2012
8:25 am

Fish was taken in the rule 5 draft and because this was the second time he was taken he can become a free agent if he does not make the Braves roster

74bravesjersey

January 17th, 2012
8:39 am

Cool! When they have medlen going,another middle reliever ace/starter they could call the big four Meds O’Ventbrel or if needed for the xtra inn.’s, O’ventbrelmeds,funny Har,Har. But seriously, if his stuff moves as good as it did when he came back they should seriously consider him starting if it’s consistent enough for 5-6 innings.

Dadgum.....

January 17th, 2012
8:43 am

The Braves may well be a playoff contender this year but they have too many issues right now for me to project them into the playoffs. Frankly, without being homeristic, they sit at best 3rd in the division behind the Marlins and Phils. Probably on par with the Nats.

It is somewhat of a mystery that we have gone weaker at SS and given an aging Chipper weaker at 3rd. I might like our infield in June. I don’t like it now save for Freeman. So forget about the outfield bat acquisition we need. Here are more pressing needs:
Major turnaround for Heyward (a must)
Return to .300 hitter in Prado
Have Uggla actually start playing prior to the all-star break
Super-frosh year from Pastornicky (a must)
A consistent McCann offensively
Hudson, Hanson, Beachy must stay healthy and be the anchors (a must)
Freeman avoids a soph slump

These are all big issues and trading for a bat won’t alleviate them. The NL East is a beast. The Braves are right there in the conversation but their problems won’t be solved until the season begins and players produce as hoped. For certain the Braves aren’t buying their way to the top which is fine by me. We have good young players and vets. A good mix. Time for the young guys to step in and make an impact like Posey did for San Fran and the vets to have bounce back years. If not they will finish 3rd in the division and we will have these same conversations again next year about this time.

bravesfansince1982

January 17th, 2012
8:50 am

That’s gonna stink for Smoltz if he has to wait because undeserving cheaters are taking his votes. Of course, not sure why he waited as long as he did to retire. He should be going in the same time as Maddux and Glavine.

Speaking of Smoltz, any talk of when his number will be retired at Turner? I went to both Maddux’s and Glavine’s ceremonies and need to make it 3 for 3 and see my favorite Brave honored at the Ted.

Dadgum.....

January 17th, 2012
8:58 am

Personally I could care less about when Smoltz gets in the HOF. Makes no difference. He is not a 1st ballot guy. Maddox and Glavine are and will be. Smoltz will get there in a few years. Still hard to believe Maris isn’t in. And to think everyone is clamoring for Murphy to get in. Really? Really? That is a hard sell.

bravesfansince1982

January 17th, 2012
9:00 am

Dadgum, health is certainly the biggest key for the Braves. I truly believe that if Prado, Heyward and Chipper are all healthy, then the offense will be fine. Pastornicky needs to play solid defense, but if he’s batting 8th, he doesn’t need to hit .290-.300 to be a solid contributor.

The real key, however, will be the health and effectiveness of the rotation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Braves starters have to learn to manage their pitch counts and take some innings away from the bullpen.

MikeY

January 17th, 2012
9:08 am

I still think we need another platoon RH bat for the outfield. Our hitting is too left-handed, and we get killed by LH pitching.

But I agree that the turn-arounds and good years from the existing position players are a must if we are to contend.

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
9:08 am

the Braves starters have to learn to manage their pitch counts and take some innings away from the bullpe

It won’t matter how they manage pitch counts, if they have to be lifted for a pinch hitter in the 6th or 7th. The offense needs to take innings away from the back of the bullpen, before the starters’ IP means anything.

Heisenberg

January 17th, 2012
9:10 am

It says up ther Bourn is a free agent after 2011 season. Believe that should be 2012,

Dadgum.....

January 17th, 2012
9:12 am

Braves fan….I said it all year last year too. I opined that we were not getting deep enough into games with our starters. Be it pitch counts or Fredi just yanking them too early. Stats revealed we were near the bottom of the NL in innings pitched by starters which probably explains in part why our bullpen blew a tire. With Medlen now back as our middle relief / emergency starter we might actually be able to effectively get a starter through 6 and pull him or whatever inning. Gonna be nice to have Medlen and OFlaherty anchoring the middle setting up the two-headed monster.

bravesfansince1982

January 17th, 2012
9:13 am

“It won’t matter how they manage pitch counts, if they have to be lifted for a pinch hitter in the 6th or 7th.”

I would love it for the Braves starters to make it to the 6th or 7th. The problem is that more times than not in 2011, they had 100 pitches by the fifth inning and then, Fredi had to start burning arms.

If they get the game into the later innings, then Fredi can split the load more evenly and not burn every pitcher every other night.

reason

January 17th, 2012
9:14 am

Where is the best site I can go to study Sabermatics and it’s formulas???

Dadgum.....

January 17th, 2012
9:14 am

Scoots…..yep. Just score 4 or more.

Rock on……The Rule of 64.

Dadgum.....

January 17th, 2012
9:16 am

Formulas? I prefer the eye test method.

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
9:18 am

But I agree that the turn-arounds and good years from the existing position players are a must if we are to contend.

It’s much easier to believe that players who had bad years will return to being the player they were before that year, than it is to believe that players with a history of good years will have a bad year. Yet, at least half the offense had down years all at the same time, the odds against which are extremely high.So, why is it seemingly so hard for some here to believe that the same players will return to their norms, which is an exceedingly more likely possibility than last year’s fiasco?

Nope

January 17th, 2012
9:18 am

Sorry, DOB, but O’Ventebrel is the stupidest name I’ve ever heard. It’s never worked or been clever and you continue to go with it. Sad.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

January 17th, 2012
9:20 am

Good for Eric O’Flaherty, he’s deserving of the raise given via the contract.

But interesting stuff concerning the impending Hall of Fame voting. I guess most fans never would have thought about the PED’s era having such as impact on potential candidates, especially guys like John Smoltz who deserve to be enshrined.

Mako

January 17th, 2012
9:20 am

Good news on the bullpen, but it’s not going to matter 1 bit if the lineup is as awful as it was last season or even 2 yrs ago. Th Braves need to find some hitters and please, sit Chipper every 3rd day, heck, maybe he’ll be semi-healthy in August & September if they do. The biggest thing Birdbrain Wren and Gonzo Fredi need to do is decide what kind of offense do they want & have….either you’re a big bat team or singles running team….but you can’t halfway it,: it’s one or the other. And last but certainly not least….Gonzo Fredi has got to learn to let his starters pitch into the 7th & 8th innings as the season progresses!!!!!!!!!!!

Heisenberg

January 17th, 2012
9:21 am

I vote thumbs up for the O’Ventebrel nickname

Arkansas Transplant

January 17th, 2012
9:23 am

slow news day.

Ray

January 17th, 2012
9:23 am

Scoots, We all need to get used to not only the Braves rotation only going around 6 innings, pretty much every rotation in baseball is doing that. The days of guys going 7,8 &9 innings are more rare. The avg start is right at 6 innings. That is the value of middle relief. One of the advantages the Braves have over other teams.

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
9:25 am

The problem is that more times than not in 2011, they had 100 pitches by the fifth inning and then, Fredi had to start burning arms.

In the first half, pre-injuries, Hudson, Jurrjens, and Hanson were all averaging right at 7 IP or better. The rooks, not so much. Now, if one expects inexperienced pitchers to average 7+ IP per start, I’d say that’s a little optimistic.

You plan for worst case scenarios, which is starters going short. Otherwise, why have 12-man staffs? :-) It’s not so much a matter of using the bullpen arms, as it is which arms you have to use on any given night.

raleighbravefan

January 17th, 2012
9:28 am

scoots @9:18 – There you go again with the logic, instead of alarmism. Personal foul and 15 yards for being too optimistic.

vesaversa

January 17th, 2012
9:28 am

John Smoltz, have never been accused of using Enchantments drugs .He should be a lock in the NOF too.

Dadgum.....

January 17th, 2012
9:31 am

Smoltz is a lock for the HOF. Just gonna take a few ballots given the era.

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
9:31 am

Personal foul and 15 yards for being too optimistic.

I had a vision yesterday, out of the blue. It was, that the wheel karma turns 180 for the Braves this year. All that went wrong last year, goes right this year. Bleep evens out.

Supes

January 17th, 2012
9:33 am

I’m glad that the Braves are keeping EOF and giving him that “raise”, he’s earned every bit of that money by his performance for the team, esp. when called upon against those tough left handed hitters in the NL East.

Jair…my gut feeling is that they avoid arbitration with him, he has another darn good first half in 2012 and this time, Wren capitalizes and trades him for that much needed OF help.

The Hall of Fame…I am positive Smoltz will get in, probably will take a while. It’ll be great to see Maddux and Glavine go in together, and too bad Bobby Cox gotta wait…I think with some of the “older folks”, maybe they should omit the 5 year period…what if something happens and he isn’t around to enjoy the moment? Just saying folks…cold but reality.

Bonds…he was a HOF before he decided that his EGO needed the PED’s so he can turn into a HR machine ( I guess 40HR per year WITHOUT wasn’t enough…what a jacka&&) but I hope they make his a&& wait a while before they put him in. McGuire isn’t going in ever…he was a one trick pony and that one trick was much reliant on PED’s. At least Bonds was a five tool player BEFORE the PED’s.

Tommy Dew

January 17th, 2012
9:36 am

Dave – Can you please change the abbreviation of O’Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel to something other than O’Ventbrel? It has no ring. How about Oven-K or Simply O-V-K?

Dadgum.....

January 17th, 2012
9:40 am

Yep, I’m feelin the Braves will bounce back and get a wild card spot. Advance and win the World Series. I also believe in ghosts, aliens, Roswell, Area 51. According to the Mayans this is the Braves last chance. Believe while you can. :)

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

January 17th, 2012
9:41 am

Reality check please………………….

Our pitching alone guarantee’s that we will win more games than we lose. That said, our potentially porous infield won’t help in the defensive department. Those Marlins and Nationals are greatly improved while we are essentially the same. While the offense is an unknown simply because our new hitting coach is too. So the span from 82 wins on to 90 is going to be interesting, and wild card race is going to be much tougher.

So win, yes. Competitive, yes. Playoffs? don’t hold your breath.

raleighbravefan

January 17th, 2012
9:42 am

scoots – I agree with you 100%, by the way.

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
9:42 am

Jair…my gut feeling is that they avoid arbitration with him, he has another darn good first half in 2012 and this time, Wren capitalizes and trades him for that much needed OF help.

If Wren trades a 12-3/1.87 ERA pitcher at the All-Star break, in the middle of a pennant race of an improved division, he’d either have the biggest stones in MLB or the biggest lack of brain cells.

jeffrey doo doo

January 17th, 2012
9:44 am

Thanks for the new blog, DOB

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
9:46 am

Believe while you can.

It’s not a matter of faith. Simply put, I’m better at evaluating the actual talent of the team and its opposition than some others here.

raleighbravefan

January 17th, 2012
9:49 am

Coach – I believe most guys will return to their norms. The rotation is better with no Lowe, and bullpen is best in MLB. If all of that holds true, we will not be “essentially the same”, but will be, in fact, improved ourselves. Add to that the distinct possibilty of at least one of JJ and Hanson being healthy, and probably more production at SS, and I’m not ready to conceed the divsion to the Phillies.

Chuck

January 17th, 2012
9:49 am

Murph played for a team that was a laughing stock, and a good bit of that was laughing at Ted breaking all the rules and trying new things (which ended up working!) The fact that his team stunk every year but one or two means that his stats were discounted as unimportant because they didn’t occur with a competitive team or a team that wasn’t in the south. Writers hated the south because it was a new market that they weren’t in. Him being such a nice guy didn’t help him either. Characters with more flair seem to do better – it is entertainment, after all, and many rank negative entertainment just as high as the positive, as is evidenced by all the reality shows. Murph is fine and deserves to be in – I just wish the voters were better.

Brave New World

January 17th, 2012
9:51 am

ChopAttack January 17th, 2012 7:05 am
No more O’Ventbrel… the nickname is the Untouchables.

ChopAttack: I second that!

Dadgum.....

January 17th, 2012
9:51 am

Scoots…..I dunno. Chipper could go down and Prado playing 3rd full time. We would have a big need for a OF bat then. That may not happen but the fact we aren’t signing JJ anyway next year we may as well jettison him while we can get something in return. Especially with our plethora of pitching talent. Nobody will be shocked if he is traded by the deadline and the better he pitches the more likely that happens.

Bob the Blogger

January 17th, 2012
9:54 am

The case that could be made for Maris going into the hall of fame is his fame. He may not have had great career numbers, but everyone knows who he is. Out of curiosity a few years ago, I asked my 85 year old aunt, who knows or cares nothing about baseball, if she knew who Rodger Maris was. She said “wasn’t he the man who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record?” People that never heard of Cal Ripkin or Barry Bonds know the name Maris. He’s part of baseball lore, and that should count for something.

raleighbravefan

January 17th, 2012
9:54 am

Dadgum – Many of us can believe, because we have good reason to do so. Others seem to be happy only if they can imagine the worst. I feel sorry for someone like that.

Mitchie-sand

January 17th, 2012
9:56 am

Slow news offseason.

McFann O O o

January 17th, 2012
9:57 am

jeffrey d Neil Patrick Harris! The only other person to be named “Barney” in a sitcom

Oh!……I…don’t know him… :P

Arkansas Transplant

January 17th, 2012
9:57 am

Who’s going to serve as our 4th outfielder this season?

Mitchie-sand

January 17th, 2012
10:00 am

Thanks for the new blog, DOB. Interesting stuff in the HOF. I personally think Murph will get in by the veterans committee.

raleighbravefan

January 17th, 2012
10:00 am

Bob – I believe Maris should be in the HOF, even IF all he did was break the HR record. In addition, he was an excellent outfielder, who won the AL MVP twice.
Problem is, he is hated by some for breaking the Ruth record, discounted by some because it took him 162 games to do it, and not as well liked as Mickey Mantle, who was also in the race that year to break the record, much like McGuire and Sosa.

kwajbraves

January 17th, 2012
10:01 am

Smith traded to the A’s and Ludwick signed by the Reds. Maggs signing is near then I glad that we have Bourn because Matt, Hinske and Ordonez have the range of statue.

raleighbravefan

January 17th, 2012
10:02 am

Doogie to Barney…totally different characters. 2 Barneys totally different as well. Barney Fife was one of the truly great characters in the history of TV.

BravesFanSince80's

January 17th, 2012
10:03 am

it’s important to note that not only did the Braves have a horrible offensive season but also that batting averages across the board were at a low-point in decades last year. Chipper made several comments about the development of a certain pitch (forget which one, I’m not a pitching guy) that has become THE dominant pitch and that alone has made hitting a lot harder all of a sudden (not to mention certain artificial hitting aids are now much harder to get away with-see Braun, Ryan) so that we may not see a drastic change in hitting production and we may have to be ok with that. hopefully the new coaches will help out with a better in-game strategy (clearly one of Fredi G’s biggest weaknesses) so that we can capitalize more on the opportunites we DO get, so that the offense won’t be quite so anemic. We could still make good use of a big bat in LF, just sayin’. Trade a pitching prospect or two and help a struggling lineup Mr. Wren, standing pat is probably going to be a mistake given that giving up somebody who you may not have room for on the roster any time soon can’t hurt you as much as you obviously think it could…

DAP

January 17th, 2012
10:03 am

Dadgum…Frankly, without being homeristic, they sit at best 3rd in the division behind the Marlins and Phils. Probably on par with the Nats.

oh please, gimme a break. marlins are still 4th best in this division, man. if anyone challenges the braves for 2nd, its the nats.

Still hard to believe Maris isn’t in. And to think everyone is clamoring for Murphy to get in. Really? Really? That is a hard sell.

maris should be in but murphy shouldnt? geez, try and figure that one out….

McFann O O o

January 17th, 2012
10:04 am

raleighbravefan Barney Fife was one of the truly great characters in the history of TV.

He was. Him and the Mertzes—never be anymore like them…

bravesfansince1982

January 17th, 2012
10:04 am

I know everyone on here would love to have a murderer’d row offense and that the sting of last September is clouding a lot of people’s vision for 2012, but this offense has a lot of potential.

Bourn has the potential to hit .300 and steal 50 bases at the top of the order
Prado has the potential to hit .300 and be a doubles machine as well as a great situational hitter behind Bourn
Chipper, a future HOFer, has the potential to duplicate the numbers he put up late last year
Uggla has 30 HR, 100 RBI potential
McCann has 25 HR, 90 RBI potential
Freeman has the potential to duplicate if not improve on last year’s rookie season
Heyward has the potential to hit 20-25 HR, and drive in 70-80 runs

the only one who we have no clue about is Pastornicky, but as long as he plays good D and hits enough in the 8th spot, he should be fine

There are no guarantees in sports, but to think that this group cannot score enough to compliament a darn good pitching staff is pointless and ridiculous

Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I think this team is going to quiet a lot of critics when it comes to their offensive production in 2012

You dance with the one who brung ya, and while our partner may not be Cinderella, she certainly is not one of the ugly stepsisters

Mitchie-sand

January 17th, 2012
10:04 am

I can’t stand sit-coms these days. It’s the fake laugh track they use. I can’t stand hearing laughter at every single half assed joke that is muttered. If a joke if funny, I will laugh. Certainly not because I hear laughter. Incredibly annoying. More reason why Modern Family is so great. It’s hilarious and It doesn’t need fake laughter to make it SEEM funny.

DAP

January 17th, 2012
10:06 am

mako either you’re a big bat team or singles running team….but you can’t halfway it,: it’s one or the other.

you dont like a balanced offense?

i think the braves right now have a pretty good mix of offensive talent. speed guys like bourn and pasornicky, contact guys like like prado and chipper, power guys like uggla, freeman, mccann, and one guy who might be all of that, in heyward. im hoping for an MVP award this year for him.

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
10:08 am

we may as well jettison [Jurrjens] while we can get something in return.

Short-sighted. Unless the “something” is a lot more than has obviously been offered for him, and that becomes more unlikely as the amount of club-control dwindles.

I’m not against trading pitching, if there’s a real need at the ML level. But, in the scenarios bruited about here, only a contender would want a pitcher such as Jurrjens at the deadline, and what contender is going to give up a significant major league piece for him? None.

On the other hand, keeping a performing Jurrjens for the entire year is more likely to advance the team’s efforts than adding another young pitcher to the rotation for the second half.

DAP

January 17th, 2012
10:13 am

bravesfansince80s Chipper made several comments about the development of a certain pitch (forget which one, I’m not a pitching guy)

the cutter. bane of chipper’s existence.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

January 17th, 2012
10:13 am

One other thing that will happen between now and spring training. Wren will sign another veteran outfielder to back up Bourn in CF. No way will Constanza make the 25 man roster. Dude was exposed as the quad A player he is. Jose hit .375 in his first 21 games then proceeded to get roasted while hitting .164 down the stretch.

Efrim

January 17th, 2012
10:15 am

Future Shock
Cincinnati Reds Top 11 Prospects
by Kevin Goldstein

Five-Star Prospects
1. Billy Hamilton, SS
2. Devin Mesoraco, C
Three-Star Prospects
3. Zack Cozart, SS
4. Robert Stephenson, RHP
5. Daniel Corcino, RHP
6. J.C. Sulbaran, RHP
7. Didi Gregorius, SS
8. Todd Frazier, UT
9. Neftali Soto, 1B
10. Henry Rodriguez, 2B
Two-Star Prospects
11. Yorman Rodriguez, OF

Really wish Robert Stephenson fell to us at #28 last year. Here’s Goldstein’s profile on him:


Year in Review: Among the best high school pitchers in the draft, signability dropped him towards the end of the first round, where he signed for a $2 million bonus.
The Good: Stephenson has what scouts look for in a future starting pitcher. He makes his velocity look easy with simple mechanics and clean arm action, which allows him to not only throw his fastball at 92-96 mph but to throw it with the command and control rarely seen in teenagers. He’ll flash a plus curveball and earns high marks for his makeup.
The Bad: Like many young pitchers, Stephenson can be too dependent on his fastball. He can be guilty of over-relying on his fastball and over-throwing his curveball, forcing it to flatten out. His changeup is very much a work in progress. More than anything, he just needs innings and repetition.
Ephemera: While none of the eight players drafted out of Alhambra High School have reached the big leagues, the school does have a Hall of Fame alum from before the draft era in outfielder Ralph Kiner.
Perfect World Projection: Star-level starting pitcher, but he’s far from it.
Fantasy Impact: For now, he’s a risky pick, but a good player to store away in deep leagues.
Path to the Big Leagues: Stephenson will likely make his pro debut at Low-A Dayton in 2012.
ETA: 2015

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
10:16 am

Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I think this team is going to quiet a lot of critics when it comes to their offensive production in 2012

Last year, there were many who thought the team could be one of the top three offenses in the league, and that was with Freeman as a rookie, without Bourn, and with Alex Gonzalez. This year, pretty much the same core of offensive players, except with Bourn and without Gonzalez (The Rev is bound to be a better offensive player, unless he’s a total bust, in which case, he won’t be playing in the first place).

Unless you consider last year as more indicative of players’ offensive potential than the rest of their careers, then it’s reasonable to assume that the team is much more likely to be a juggernaut than a dinghy.

McFann O O o

January 17th, 2012
10:16 am

Mitchie-Sand

And a lot of times, the jokes are too forced—they go out of their way to build up to a “funny” line so it makes no sense and isn’t natural…course, I don’t watch any shows that were invented in the last 14 years or so, so I really can’t say a whole lot… :P

Old shows are the best.

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

January 17th, 2012
10:16 am

BravesFanSince80’s

“it’s important to note that not only did the Braves have a horrible offensive season but also that batting averages across the board were at a low-point in decades last year. Chipper made several comments about the development of a certain pitch (forget which one, I’m not a pitching guy) that has become THE dominant pitch and that alone has made hitting a lot harder all of a sudden”

I’m guessing its the advent of the cutter and a lot of it has to do with Players not taking HGH/Roids to help recover from the daily Grind

Baseball is losing more and more of popularity to the NFL each pasing year as offense keeps declining….

Yawn

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

January 17th, 2012
10:17 am

Coach (2012 Fredi’s beisbol fandango)

One other thing that will happen between now and spring training. Wren will sign another veteran outfielder to back up Bourn in CF”

Are you willing to Take that to the Bank…?

Bring Back Loaf or Sign Ibanez to a Cheap deal….

Efrim

January 17th, 2012
10:18 am

I’m not against trading pitching, if there’s a real need at the ML level. But, in the scenarios bruited about here, only a contender would want a pitcher such as Jurrjens at the deadline, and what contender is going to give up a significant major league piece for him? None.

Exactly. I don’t really think they’d be willing to give up significant minor league pieces for him. And, what is the benefit of trading him mid-season for prospects?

Couch Tater

January 17th, 2012
10:18 am

I can’t stand sit-coms these days. It’s the fake laugh track they use.

HAHAHAHA. Yep, and loud.

ChopAttack

January 17th, 2012
10:22 am

The Untouchable is easier to remember, spell, and also includes the other arms (like Medlen). The O’howeveritsspelled is lame.

David O'Brien

January 17th, 2012
10:22 am

I can’t stand sit-coms these days. It’s the fake laugh track they use. I can’t stand hearing laughter at every single half assed joke that is muttered. If a joke if funny, I will laugh. Certainly not because I hear laughter. Incredibly annoying. More reason why Modern Family is so great. It’s hilarious and It doesn’t need fake laughter to make it SEEM funny. — Mitchie-sand

Agree entirely — on laugh tracks (awful) and Modern Family (great).

Murph

January 17th, 2012
10:22 am

No way will Constanza make the 25 man roster. Dude was exposed as the quad A player he is. Jose hit .375 in his first 21 games then proceeded to get roasted while hitting .164 down the stretch.

To be fair, Constanza hit .324/.361/.412/.773 as a starter from July 29th to September 6th including 10 multihit games and 7 SB. It wasn’t until he got put into a PH role that he really struggled, going hitless in his last 10 games.

I don’t really want Constanza on the roster either, especially given the fact that his primary role would be as a PH/late inning fill in.

DAP

January 17th, 2012
10:23 am

tomahawkin Baseball is losing more and more of popularity to the NFL each pasing year

you sure about that? i think baseball has been growing.

McFann O O o

January 17th, 2012
10:23 am

Some of the old shows use fake laughter, but sometimes it’s not even noticeable…And I like listening to the audience in the live shows ’cause sometimes they have hilarious reactions… :P

David O'Brien

January 17th, 2012
10:25 am

Sorry, DOB, but O’Ventebrel is the stupidest name I’ve ever heard. It’s never worked or been clever and you continue to go with it. SadNope

That’s because you misspell it. It’s O’Ventbrel, two e’s not three. There, now isn’t that better?

Moving along….

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

January 17th, 2012
10:25 am

ncscoots

[Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I think this team is going to quiet a lot of critics when it comes to their offensive production in 2012]

“Last year, there were many who thought the team could be one of the top three offenses in the league”

I was One of them…I was on here Feelin Good/Pretty Boy Flexing A Year ago when I thought the 2011 Squad could match up to the 2003 Squad…Boy was I wrong…

The 2011 offense was the most Inconsistant offense I have seen in my 22 years of watching the team…Parrish Should’ve been “Ol Yellered” at the trade deadline…

Largo

January 17th, 2012
10:25 am

Wren, Fredi and Chipper are “confident” Prado, JJ, Hanson, Heyward and McCann will be better than last year and are satisfied to field the same team again this year. Actually, it isn’t confidence they are feeling, it is “hope.”

TennesseePaul

January 17th, 2012
10:25 am

Thanks for the work DOB.

Supes

January 17th, 2012
10:27 am

Why do I say Jair will be traded…it’s simple is it better to “let him walk” via FA (b/c I can’t see Jair signing here due to the Boras factor, and or the supply and depth of Braves young arms coming up the pipeline from the minor).

I believe Wren would rather TRADE Jair (yes even for stinking prospects) than let him walk after the season, feel free to disagree but Wren being an aggressive GM, will most likely explore the trade scenario.

jeffrey doo doo

January 17th, 2012
10:27 am

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

January 17th, 2012
10:27 am

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

January 17th, 2012
10:17 am

Coach (2012 Fredi’s beisbol fandango)

One other thing that will happen between now and spring training. Wren will sign another veteran outfielder to back up Bourn in CF”

Are you willing to Take that to the Bank…?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

Absolutely YES. For certain and for more than one reason. We know the Braves tried to pry one of the Rockies CF’ers away when attempting to unload Jurrjens. Nor will Constanza hold up against big league pitching. While although unlikely, Bourn could get traded before the all-star break.

TennesseePaul

January 17th, 2012
10:27 am

receive from BBWAA voters, many of whom believe, like me, that Bonds was a Hall of Famer even before he, uh, beefed up and started his pursuit of the real home run king, Hank Aaron?

Where did I read it? It went something like this: “He dominated the front nine and then cheated in the back nine. He’s still disqualified for cheating.”

raleighbravefan

January 17th, 2012
10:28 am

McFann – Ah yes, the Mertzes…What a incredible duo….I loved Fred Mertz…the perfect curmudgeon.

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

January 17th, 2012
10:29 am

DAP

January 17th, 2012
10:23 am
“tomahawkin—Baseball is losing more and more of popularity to the NFL each pasing year

you sure about that? i think baseball has been growing.”

Come On my man…? Compare The NFL Saints/9ers playoff Game to the Rangers/Cards World Series…That NFL Playoff Game set 23 year high record ratings and In a lot of peoples minds was Better than a lot of recent Super Bowls…When was the Last time a World Series had record high ratings…? I’m guessing 2001? When Jeter becamse Mr November

ncscoots

January 17th, 2012
10:30 am

To be fair, Constanza hit .324/.361/.412/.773 as a starter from July 29th to September 6th including 10 multihit games and 7 SB

From 08/16 to 09/06, they guy appeared in 16 games and started 12 of them. He hit .205, fercrissake, with an OBP of .239. But, you’re right, he hit even worse coming off the bench.

raleighbravefan

January 17th, 2012
10:31 am

DOB – Agree completely. Modern Family is easily the best comedy on TV…the only “must see” currently amoung comedies.

jeffrey doo doo

January 17th, 2012
10:31 am

The NFL’s got one game per playoff round. MLB has seven after the first round.

TennesseePaul

January 17th, 2012
10:32 am

I don’t really think they’d be willing to give up significant minor league pieces for him. And, what is the benefit of trading him mid-season for prospects?

Ef, you’ve pretty much pigeonholed Jurrjens into the not-worth-it category. Even if he does well, he’s not trade-able. But honestly Ef, “what’s the benefit of trading him mid-season for prospects?” A team can never have too many polished college lefties. Suppose the draft comes and goes and all those toolsy infielders and polished lefties are missing come time for them to pick, trading Jurrjens mid-season is the best way to recoup. It’s the only way.

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