2:43 pm January 2, 2013, by David O'Brien
January 5th, 201312:58 am
January 5th, 20131:00 am
richbrave, I meant it, but didn’t know you were, uh, lurking. Go Redskins!
how are you and your wife doing, Brian? Hope y’all are some better.
January 5th, 20131:04 am
I would suggest you all tune in Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on the local FOX channell. These are two of the most evenly matched teams on paper and stastically that I’ve seen in a long time. Strength vs. strength; weakness vs. weakness. Should be a barn-burner. Of course, I’ll have my REDSKINS paraphenalia on.
I see tonight’s report never made it. I got tired of sitting and spinning, so I dumped it, and moved on. Sometimes it still sends, but I guess it didn’t tonight.
1B ERNESTO MEJIA [.143 BA] was 1-4.
LHRP LUIS AVILAN [0.00 ERA] 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 1 BB, 2 SO.
“OPS” will be inadequate to define the performance of Evan Gattis.
January 5th, 20131:07 am
richbrave, I haven’t spent much time on here lately, but I’ve lost at least 3, maybe 4, posts tonight.
Has this thing been as bad as tonight on a regular basis, lately?
January 5th, 20131:08 am
Justin Upton was the 15th best (fWAR) rightfielder in baseball in 2012. 42nd best outfielder.
For perspective, Jason Heyward was the best RF, and 4th best OF.
January 5th, 20131:09 am
Gotta’ say RGIII reminds of SAMMY BAUGH who I saw on t.v. and in person when I was very young. Flexible, moves, fast, great arm. Of course, RGIII doesn’t punt or play corner or safety, but he’ll do. And I’m sayin’ if he isn’t dismembered, he’ll surpass BAUGH, JURGENSEN and THEISMANN as the best I’ve ever seen in burgandy and gold.
January 5th, 20131:11 am
richbrave, my brother lives in N. VA, and has me on the ’skins. Fun to watch; and I’m pullin’ for ‘em until and unless they play ATL.
I don’t post up nearly as much because of it. Internet Server Error is not something you want to see after waiting three minutes to post.
What about 2011? He is also 25 years old.
January 5th, 20131:13 am
Well if they win Sunday, FALCONS are who they get next.
January 5th, 20131:14 am
richbrave, I hear a lot about RGIII & Andrew Luck, but there’s another great rookie QB that you don’t hear too much about.
You’ll be seeing him (Russell Wilson) on Sunday afternoon. He ain’t too bad, either.
It’s hard to believe that 3 rookie QB’s are in the playoffs.
two power running games. Lynch vs. Alfred Morris.
difference is the Hags defense is pretty awesome.
January 5th, 20131:15 am
Wilson had a great year!
January 5th, 20131:17 am
We’re doing okay, nolie. Thanks for asking. She’s hopefully getting a pretty big promotion at work, and me, well, been through not so fun stuff. Get this – same clinic gave me two separate antibiotics for ear infection which together was 15 days worth and after I finished that I was scheduled to the ENT guy who checked me for vertigo but came away negative for that. He then starts me on another 10 days of antibiotics because my tonsils look red. Safe to say my thyroid levels after all this are way off. I’ve lost 15 or 20 pounds during this time.
Sorry, I’m rambling on here. How are you?
January 5th, 20131:18 am
Good question. 2011, 2nd best RF, and 7th best OF. The home/away splits were even more extreme, though. A massive 1.033 OPS at Chase, vs .767 in all other parks.
For the record, I don’t hate the guy, and if we get him, I’ll cheer him on. But I think it’s a big bite and a pretty big risk for a mid-market team with precious few resources (dollars and prospects) to deal from.
Found a neat log cabin down in Charlotte county with a dozen acres. I’m gonna’ offer a ridiculous low-ball offer on it and see what happens. Been on the market almost a year. Good place to hole up on a Sunday and watch football.
Glad I got through finally tonight. Beddie-bye time however. NYTOL.
January 5th, 20131:19 am
Jason, you’re not kidding he did. Wilson convinced them in preseason, too. Remember the money Seattle shelled out for Flynn?
That didn’t matter when they saw what this kid could do. Tough to make that decision, but it turned out to be a good one, it seems.
January 5th, 20131:21 am
Wilson had as many as 90+ total QBR games as Brady. Overall, he had a better year than Luck.
January 5th, 20131:26 am
qb driven league.
wilson, heisman, and luck. Ponder one year removed just because he is married to the hottest woman on ESPN.
put kaepernick in there and well Matt frickin Ryan better not go frickin 0-4 in the playoffs.
oh, for all you Matt Ice Lovers he turned the ball over personally six times in the first two playoff games and in the third he Managed to score 0 points.
a frickin safety was all we got against the giants.
January 5th, 20131:27 am
The game I’m least interested in, is the first one. So, for me, that’s a perfect place to put it.
I love the match-ups for the rest of the weekend.
Found a neat log cabin down in Charlotte county with a dozen acres.
We’d be neighbors! My brothers and I have a place at Smith Mt. Lake, probably 30 miles or so from you. We used to rent it out as a weekly vacation property, but were finally able to cut that last year (thank God, what a pain that was). So now it sits about half the time, but among us we get up (or down) there quite a bit.
January 5th, 20131:43 am
Cubs sign Dontrelle Willis. Could a pennant be far behind?
January 5th, 20131:48 am
DS1, sure, the Cubs sign him, but where was OUR GM when all this was going down? Probably sipping mai tais on a beach at the time.
January 5th, 20131:58 am
The Braves have enough pitching to pull off a Justin trade.
Unless the payroll is going to explode retaining FF, Heyward, Prado, Kimbrel heck even Beachy/Medlen will be tough. Why not go all in now with that collection of players (over the next three years or so) and finally put a real OF in the LF.
The minor leagues have more pitching but are devoid of premium OF talent.
So if you were a GM who had a chance to go for it and create huge buzz for your club you consider the move.
The hydra+ of Gattis, Francisco, Prado, Reed could work or if could be too many moving parts and flop.
Justin could flop as well but his career has some compelling stretches and he is too young to be done.
You get 2011 Justin and pair him with his brother. It could be a surprisingly good cocktail or it will make you puke. Jury is out.
January 5th, 20132:08 am
gotta believe that gattis will absolutely make Klesko look like a gold glover in left field.
on top of that why are we the only franchise in baseball that does not have outfield lights?
zero lights behind left or right.
January 5th, 20132:11 am
Gattis is a risk in the OF if for no other reason lack of playing time. It is hard enough to hit ML pitching but to patrol the OF in all of those different parks with such limited experience it could be tough.
He is also big guy so we cannot expect him to tear after bullets in the OF or get amazing jumps on the ball.
He would be a work in progress you tolerate if he can hit a ton. If he hits just OK then it would be tough to see him as more than a bench guy/PH.
January 5th, 20132:16 am
diaz blew defensively in left. gattis will take it to another level.
the big white bear better hit, because he will make every fly ball out there a total adventure.
January 5th, 20132:17 am
gotta believe that gattis will absolutely make Klesko look like a gold glover in left field. — uga-brave
That, you won’t know until you see him out there. Don’t forget, Klesko was a pitcher, then a first baseman and, finally, a left fielder.
That’s a great question. One I’ve wondered about since the Braves started playing there.
January 5th, 20132:21 am
on top of that he will not have bourn covering him in left center.
it will be like as chip will say over n over again. “BJ & the Bear.”
note to a series many of you young ones will not remember.
January 5th, 20134:10 am
Hello everyone! I like Gattis a lot, but if Braves, can swing Justin Upton, with out giving up Simmons now, I say go all in. You gotta know when to hold them, and know when to fold them. I say hold your cards until the deal is right! I think it can be done, but again, I’ll be patient, and wait to see what happens? Just the other night I wanted Delmon Young, but now will drop the subject! Go The Distance, and get Justin Upton.
January 5th, 20134:13 am
uga – I remember the T.V. Series with “B.J., and The bear”. It was a good T.V series, when I was a kid.
January 5th, 20134:17 am
All, no matter what happens , Braves are improved, and just adding Justin Upton would be icing on a cake! Will it happen? Let’s not get our hopes up too much, but it sure is interesting all this. Peace my friends, and “Go!!!!!Braves!!!!!”, and “Go!!!!!Notre Dame” talk tomorrow…..
January 5th, 20136:06 am
How ’bout Trumbo and his WARs and WHIPs?
January 5th, 20136:07 am
Okay dude, do a search on facebook for Jerry Holcombe. My profile pic is my Fire Department ID. Btw, glad you have relatives that are in the brotherhood. I sincerely hope they don’t act like a douchebag like you do.
January 5th, 20136:16 am
“I doubt VJ is all that upset about what DOB said, he has called out a lot of folks over the years, sometimes erroneously”
Perhaps I missed something. Why should we care?
January 5th, 20136:18 am
I left last evening while many of you were arguing like old men in a nursing home. Looks like it’s extended to this AM. Funny stuff.
January 5th, 20136:23 am
Mr Maggot, I’m not arguing at all. I was requested to do something and I am merely complying.
January 5th, 20137:56 am
RUSSELL WILSON is from RICHMOND for those from last night who don’t know it. So I know who he is. Says he’s not a REDSKINS fan and never was. Says may the best team win and see ya’ on the field.
January 5th, 20138:05 am
Gattis needs more seasoning in the minor leagues. It’s sad that our minor league cubbard is so bare. Outside Gattis, what hitter can you look at and say he’s got the potential to be an impact every regular at the major league level?
Unfortunately, we have a draft director, Tony Demacio, who is beyond washed-up. I encourage you to review his 5 years of drafting for Baltimore. He was fired and rightfully so. Just like Wren was fired for good reason. Demacio had many top ten selections drafting for Baltimore and he came away with 2 or 3 fairly good players in 5 years?
Frank Wren was fired in Baltimore for doing the same thing that he’s doing here. Blowing big money unwisely. Not only is he a very poor spender, he doesnt value OBP! We’ve got to clean house ASAP!
January 5th, 20138:12 am
Where was Wren when Dontrelle was signed? Probably in church thanking God his team was nowhere near that desperate for pitching to sink that low.
January 5th, 20138:19 am
Gattis needs more seasoning in the minor leagues.
After that, Gattis will be nicknamed Salty or Pepper. It is written.
January 5th, 20138:21 am
January 5th, 20138:57 am
I am not really concerned about Gattis’ ability to play LF…. he is a good athlete, and in his limited time there has done okay…
Also, going back to a convo a while back about possibly calling up Ahmed if Juan/Gattis or Uggla struggle to give him a chance to start at those positions, where I was told that it would be dumb to move him to a new position at the MLB level, look at Chipper Jones and Manny Machado… 6′3 tall players, exclusively SS in the minors for Chipper, 2 games at 3B for Machado. Both got called up to play 3B.
Nick Ahmed is 6″3′
January 5th, 20138:59 am
I saw Johnny Football play a full game for the first time last night.
January 5th, 20139:00 am
diaz blew defensively in left. gattis will take it to another level.
But Gattis can hit RHP…. Diaz never could.
January 5th, 20139:04 am
TOBF – You could be right on that one. I could see them moving Ahmed to third – depends on whether or not they extend Prado – which they damned well should. Of course, Prado could also be moved to second when Uggla’s contract expires in a ouple of years.
January 5th, 20139:11 am
or even move Ahmed to 2nd… I don’t really see why some have the idea that ball players can’t switch positions from the minors, esp. CF and SS…. the way I see it, if you can play CF, you can play LF, and if you have a good arm, RF as well. If you can play SS, you can play 2B… and if you have height and a really good arm, 3B as well.
I think Ahmed goes to 3B if Prado isn’t retained, but 2B is also possible if they are able to move Uggla… there was talk of him being moved to LF, but I can’t see that.
January 5th, 20139:16 am
but if it will make some feel better, I hope the Braves move him to 3B…, oh, but then I forget, he’d be unable to play 2B. If he makes the majors in Atlanta, he will have to be either a 3B or a 2B. Rooting for him to have a big year.
Only trade him if we’re getting a stud LF… try to move Peraza in front of him, excited to see what he’s got.
Btw, Ahmed won’t be playing 3B at AA…. Salcedo will, and LaStella will likely be the 2B for Mississippi… guess Nick is “stuck” at SS.
January 5th, 20139:22 am
But they’re not going to move Uggla. Even on a bad year, he’s one of the best power hitting 2B in the league.
January 5th, 20139:26 am
I understand that Lew, love the guy, he’s one of my faves, but you don’t think that the Braves would consider moving him after next season at all? He’d have to do okay obviously, but seeing how he hasn’t really performed the way that they would like, you don’t think that Frank would shop him after the season to see if he can get a little more flexibility on the payroll?
January 5th, 20139:28 am
From the day he was signed, I always thought this would be a 3 or 4 year thing with Uggla… that he’d probably be traded before finishing the contract.
If he goes .250/.330/.450 next season, at age 33, I could definitely see the Braves trying to move him. If he struggles, well, we’re probably stuck unless the Yankees of LA want him.
January 5th, 20139:38 am
I was reading Buster comments on Kimbrel impressive numbers this morning, and wondered, how much will he cost when he gets to arbitration, being the best closer in baseball (stuff wise), and how far will the Braves go before they say “too expensive”? Because it won’t be long before he asks for a Mariano Rivera type of contract over $10 million per year.
January 5th, 20139:40 am
Birdhair, accusing Frank Wren of “blowing big money unwisely” is a bit hilarious. Most Braves fans opine the team spending more money. I would venture to say that you’re speaking of signing BJ Upton to the 5 year $75 million contract. Most MLB analysts have spoken of the value in that deal because the Braves were ahead of most signings meanings they saved money. Had Frank Wren not signed BJ Upton, you and the rest of the bloggers would have been criticizing Wren for sitting on his hands.
As far as trading for Justin Upton, I still don’t see that happening. It would take a good bit to get him. You have teams involved that have shown that they will get who they want like the Texas Rangers. I am venturing to guess that Atlanta would have to offer one of its “big two” pitchers plus a second tier pitching prospect plus a couple prospects like Nick Ahmed and Stevan Gattis. I just know that Kevin Towers takes teams to the woodshed when he has something that other teams want.
January 5th, 20139:48 am
Believe Efrim said 2 more seasons of Kimbrel…. he’d be making near or over 10mil 3 seasons from now (2015 season), so I guess we’d move him after the 2014 if we don’t get new ownership. 10mil for 60 IP… not too wise
January 5th, 20139:51 am
I just know that Kevin Towers takes teams to the woodshed when he has something that other teams want.
Just as he did with Bauer, Chris Young, Stephen Drew…. the DBacks crap on their players, and then move em. Supposedly it’s the Mariners, Braves, and Rangers interested, Justin has the Mariners on his no-trade list, and the Rangers are pretty RH right now. Maybe the Braves end up being the only team left. And KT almost certainly has to be moving Upton. Only one that it makes sense to do so.
January 5th, 20139:54 am
TOBRF, agree. No way our current payroll can handle that. But this might be one of those rare cases where we are the ones who can get a bounty in return, instead of being the providers of young talent. Imagine how much the Yanks might be able to give, or LA now, for this kind of closer. Wow…
January 5th, 2013
I don’t know why you all are so quick to rush to the defense of Venice Jim. He has bashed all of you too.
don’t include me in the group defending VJ.
But I am curious….why are you so hell bent on making sure he knows about the smackdown? The man is apparently in his 50s and surely won’t care, not that he should or shouldn’t.
Besides, DOB seems to pop most everyone from what I can tell. It’s his blog.
January 5th, 201310:00 am
Uggla’s best years likely are behind him. He’s been awful for us, to the most part, and I’m not about to expect much from him this year.
Maybe he reaches 25 homers and knocks in 80 or so, but more than likely, he won’t. And if others have great yrs around him, maybe it just doesn’t matter.
That’s my best guess based on what I’ve witnessed, painful time after time, over 364 games or so
As it is, aren’t we looking at a lineup that’s likely poised to strike out at a rate seldom seen in the annals of this sport? I hope not, but the potential is really there for it.
If you are the DBACKS, I don’t know why a package of Delgado. Ahmed and Francisco won’t be appealing. Upton only hit 17 HR last year, you know how many Francisco will hit playing so many games in that park and several more in Colorado? if he hit 9 with us, he can easily hit the same as Upton. And on top of that get rid of $9 millions in payroll?? Which is the same reason I am not sure I will do this deal as a Brave.
January 5th, 201310:04 am
Phil, if I were the Braves, I will start practicing stealing home soon. Because if we got upset last year with the amount of times our guys struck out with runners at third and 1 out last year, imagine in 2013!!!
January 5th, 201310:07 am
Orioles, Rays, Nats, Pirates, Astros, Athletics all struck out more than us last year… sure we may go up a little bit, but those teams aren’t likely dropping. Doubt we’ll be the highest!
January 5th, 201310:10 am
and we were 2nd in walks drawn, 4 behind the Rays… (thanks Uggla!)
below league avg. in HR and doubles, right at avg. in runs scored, below avg. RBIs
let’s improve on those stats
January 5th, 201310:11 am
phil – Sorry, but you’re talking out of your butt on this one. Even on his career worst year, Uggla still stacks up in the top third at his postion league wide offensively and his defense is nowhere near as bad as made out to be.
Among NL 2B in 2012 Uggla was 1st in BB, 2nd in HR, 2nd in RBI, 2nd in OBP, 6th in 2B and 4th in WAR of 16 starters at 2B in the NL. IN his WORST year.
January 5th, 201310:14 am
We won’t be below league average in 2B and HR this year – count on that much along with leading the world in K’s
January 5th, 201310:26 am
Phil, I just found it amusing that Cab said he didn’t know anything about what the Chief said about him. They both spend a lot of time on this blog and there is no way he doesn’t know.
You are right a sixty year old man may not care what the Chief has to say but he does the same thing to so many………..
January 5th, 201310:44 am
No one here is immune to a DOB slapdown if it’s deemed necessary. It’s an equal opportunity blog – same goes for the praise end of the equation.
.253 31/93 161 SO. This is Uggla’s averages as a pro. Who can we put at 2nd base to come any where near that production. Waiting for your answer……………… oh and by the way the player you name has to earn the same or less $$ than Uggla. Thats what I thought. The answer is ZERO.
January 5th, 201310:49 am
Also need to consider that Uggla will be 34 for the 2014 season…. will he still be capable of putting up those numbers? I’m not so sure
.227/.329/.421/.750 w/ 28HR, 80 RBI since coming to Atlanta… had a massive drop off in power last season though. If he struggles, I guess we’re “stuck” with him, but if he does okay next season, considering his age, and the struggles he’s had, + the fact that Mac/Prado/Huddy are all up for FA next year, Heyward and Freeman about to get paid, Kimbrel as well, I’m just wondering if the FO would shop him next winter. Not saying they have to or should
January 5th, 201310:52 am
The closest comparable 2nd baseman is Robinson Cano who is signed thru 2013 at 6/57 and is 29 yrs old. His line is .308 24/95 81 SO. What kind of contract you think Boras gets him next year or what the Yanks will have to spend to extend him? Sometimes you don’t realize what you have. Uggla ain’t so bad folks (phil). And Frank got him for Mike Dunn and Omar Infante. I think its a bargain and neither of what we gave up makes us a title threat. Just my take. I get tired of people talking about Uggla’s strikeouts. He is a power hitter, not a contact hitter.
January 5th, 201310:53 am
It’s not Fantasy baseball TOBF. YOu don’t just start trading players off as soon as they have a down year (and that down year still better than 2/3 of starters at their position. THey won’t be hurting for money to do what needs to be done next winter, either with Hudson and Maholm off the books and the young pitching they have lined up down the road in Gwinnett.
Add to that the fact that it’s unlikely they’ll get JUpton and that Gattis will almost have to have a shot by then…….
But that’s not going to stop the crowd that feel we need a stud at every single position or that we should eat salary just to see someone they don’t like gone.
January 5th, 201310:54 am
YOu don’t just start trading players off as soon as they have a down year
not trading him this winter
January 5th, 201311:06 am
They won’t next year, either. You do realize that many players play out their entire contracts?
January 5th, 201311:08 am
It’s about time that the idiot IT people fix this ^%$$##%^(ING mess they’ve created here.
TOBF – They won’t trade him next year, either. You do realize that there are many players who actually (novel concept) play out their entire contracts?
January 5th, 201311:09 am
The IT people need to be traded. Might have to eat some of their contracts to do it, though.
January 5th, 201311:13 am
yes, and there are those who don’t either… maybe Uggla falls into that 2nd group. If we keep Prado, and Ahmed is ready (cheaply) and Uggla isn’t the 30HR guy he used to be, and isn’t likely to reach that again (he will be 34 for the 2014 season), maybe you explore a trade.
January 5th, 201311:38 am
Bengals, Packers, Ravens (barely), Redskins
January 5th, 201311:42 am
In case you haven’t seen it, Buster Olney ranked the Braves bullpen No. 1 in the majors in his ESPN.com column today. Here is what Buster wrote:
In rounding out our series of winter top 10 rankings, here are the top 10 bullpens in Major League Baseball (and I’m hedging a little in this category because of the uncertainty about what role one big-time pitcher will have.)
1. Atlanta Braves
In order to have a shutdown bullpen, you have to have a dominant closer, and the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel is coming off one of the greatest seasons ever for a reliever: Opposing hitters had 231 plate appearances against him, and he struck out 116 — almost exactly half — in 62 2/3 innings, with just 14 walks and 27 hits. When he threw strike 1 on the first pitch of the at-bat (147 of those 231 plate appearances), hitters went 16-for-143, with 97 strikeouts and one extra-base hit. Here’s one more: After hitters got ahead in the count, they went 5-for-32, with 10 strikeouts. Just one more: With two outs and runners in scoring position, opposing hitters were 1-for-18 with 10 strikeouts.
In other words, Kimbrel’s the best closer in the game, and at the outset of his career, he has established an unprecedented trajectory: Nobody has been this good so soon.
The Braves have outstanding relievers stacked all around Kimbrel, from the underrated Eric O’Flaherty (1.73 ERA in 64 appearances last season) to Jonny Venters (who seemed to bounce back in a big way after a rough first half) to Cristhian Martinez (65 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings) to Luis Avilan. And, oh by the way, the Braves swapped for hard-throwing Jordan Walden (average fastball velocity last year: 96.3 mph) during the offseason, with some confidence they can help his command, and if that happens, Atlanta could essentially end games after the fifth and sixth innings.
This is an extraordinary bullpen, and the Braves’ staff and front office deserve credit for changing the way the Atlanta relievers were rested in 2012, after the relievers were worn out in 2011. Some teams don’t change; the Braves did.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
The names change almost every year, and the performance remains the same. Tampa Bay led the American League in bullpen ERA, after Fernando Rodney became the Rays’ latest reclamation project (watching the Tampa Bay bullpen every year is like watching an episode of American Restoration, on which junk is turned into gleaming excellence), and he merely became a Cy Young candidate, with just 43 hits and two homers allowed in 74 2/3 innings. He is surrounded by Jake McGee and Joel Peralta and perhaps Roberto Hernandez — the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona — who has always had great stuff but an inconsistent delivery. It would surprise no one in the sport if we checked back in August and find that Hernandez has become a dominant set-up man. Such is the reputation of the Rays for identifying bullpen talent, and the reputation of pitching Jim Hickey for refining that talent.
3. Kansas City Royals
In a September conversation, some of the White Sox hitters and staff talked about the Royals’ bullpen with complete awe and respect. No team, Adam Dunn said, had a collection of power arms like the Royals. “It’s like every guy comes out of the bullpen throwing 97 [mph]” Dunn said.
The bullpen might be the best piece of hope for Royals’ fans to hang onto, because if the Kansas City rotation can be at least mediocre — just average — the Royals’ bullpen would win a lot of games in the late innings. Aaron Crow had 65 punchouts in 64 2/3 innings; Tim Collins whiffed 93 in 69 2/3 innings; closer Greg Holland had 91 strikeouts in 67 innings. The Royals’ bullpen racked up 535 strikeouts in 561 1/3 innings, and finished sixth in the majors’ in ERA, at 3.17.
4. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles had a makeshift rotation all season, because of injuries and performance, and yet the Baltimore bullpen held up despite an extraordinary workload. No team that made the playoffs needed more bullpen innings than the Orioles, and yet the Baltimore relievers finished fifth in ERA at 3.00, a tribute to the way Buck Showalter and his coaches use all parts of their pitching staff. Closer Jim Johnson had a major-league best 51 saves, with just 15 walks in 68 2/3 innings, and got a whole lot of help from Pedro Strop, Darren O’Day and Luis Ayala.
One of the interesting decisions the Orioles will face in spring training will be what to do with left-hander Brian Matusz, who has generally struggled as a starter — but had moments to total dominance out of the bullpen down the stretch. It may be that Matusz is a modern version of Arthur Rhodes, and is just more comfortable pitching out of the bullpen; he told me during the playoffs he really loved throwing in relief.
5. San Francisco Giants
Arizona GM Kevin Towers is known for being one of the best at piecing together a bullpen, so it should be no surprise that his former manager in San Diego, Bruce Bochy, is known for being among the best handlers of a relief corps. Over the last four seasons, this is how the San Francisco bullpen has ranked in the majors in ERA:
2009 2nd (3.49)
2010 2nd (2.99)
2011 2nd (3.04)
2012 15th (3.56)
Sergio Romo took over from Brian Wilson as closer last season, seamlessly — especially in the postseason. In the playoffs and World Series, the Giants’ bullpen, bolstered by a temporary relief assignment for Tim Lincecum, was difference-making. Jeremy Affeldt didn’t allow a run in 10 1/3 innings, and struck out 10. The Giants’ bullpen has nice righty/lefty balance, swing-and-miss capability, and experience. What’s not to like?
6. Oakland Athletics
The Athletics finished fourth in bullpen ERA last season, at 2.94, and they basically return the entire group: All-Star Ryan Cook, Grant Balfour, Jerry Blevins, Pat Neshek, Evan Scribner and others. Cook, who was traded to the Athletics in the Trevor Cahill deal, held opposing hitters to a .166 batting average last season.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
J.P. Howell agreed to terms with the Dodgers Friday, another good piece to an already deep bullpen; the left-hander saw his velocity increase markedly during the 2012 season, in his first full year back from shoulder surgery, to the point that his highest radar gun reading came in his last appearance of the season. Don Mattingly’s weapons include Brandon League (who posted a 2.30 ERA for the Dodgers after being acquired from Seattle), Kenley Jansen (99 strikeouts in 65 innings, despite some heart issues) and Ronald Belisario.
8. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds will give Aroldis Chapman a chance to be a part of their rotation in spring training, and if he transitions into a starting pitcher, Cincinnati will still have a very good bullpen, with Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek and Sam LeCure. But taking Chapman out of their bullpen would be like removing Miguel Cabrera from the Detroit lineup: Chapman was a relief monster last season, whiffing 122 batters and allowing just 35 hits in 71 2/3 innings. Cincinnati was No. 1 in bullpen ERA last season, at 2.65, and Chapman was the biggest reason for that.
9. San Diego Padres
To say that the Padres have a good bullpen is like saying that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening: We’ve come to expect it. San Diego finished ninth in bullpen ERA last year at 3.24, getting good closer work out of Huston Street when he was healthy. The Padres benefitted from a lot of help from a lot of different relievers, but incredibly, 10 different San Diego relievers who had 11 or more appearances averaged more than a strikeout per inning, in a season in which the rotation was ravaged by injury. It will be interesting to see how the historically strong performance of the Padres’ pitchers — and those of the Mariners, for that matter — will be affected by the decisions to reduce the dimensions in the ballparks in San Diego and Seattle.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals had a lot of bullpen adventures in the first half of last year, but by the time the postseason began, St. Louis had developed something pretty special in the quartet of closer Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica and, most notably, in the 22-year-old Trevor Rosenthal. In the playoffs, Rosenthal allowed two hits and no runs in 8 2/3 innings, while racking up 15 strikeouts with an overpowering fastball — more strikeouts than any St. Louis pitcher in the postseason other than Adam Wainwright.
Look, relievers are notoriously inconsistent, and history shows that today’s bullpen hero can quickly disappear tomorrow. But if Rosenthal follows up on that thread of late-season success, St. Louis could have a pretty dynamic group. The Cardinals could really use a bounce-back season from Mark Rzepczynski, to provide some left-handed balance.
10a. Arizona Diamondbacks
Set-up man David Hernandez is the biggest reason why the Diamondbacks could have one of the best bullpens in the majors — he had 98 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings, after all. But Arizona needs J.J. Putz to remain healthy, to keep Hernandez in the set-up role, and they need a return on their two-year investment in Heath Bell; Towers, who traded for Bell when he was GM of the Padres, traded for him again after noting that his velocity never dipped during his struggles in Miami last year. Brad Ziegler appeared in 77 games and held right-handed hitters to a .201 average, with just one homer in 166 at-bats.
Best of the rest: The Red Sox and Yankees could have top 10 bullpens — if. That’s the key word for them: If. If Daniel Bard and Andrew Bailey bounce back to be what they were in 2011, Boston could have an excellent and deep bullpen.
If the 43-year-old Mariano Rivera comes back from a knee reconstruction and pitches the way he did in his last full season — in 2011, he posted a 2.16 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP — then the Yankees’ bullpen will be outstanding. Time and again over the last decade, last rites have been performed over Rivera’s career at the first sign of a slump — some of them in this column — and time and again, Rivera has bounced back from blips to resume his preeminence. At some point, age could overtake the greatest closer of all-time. Will it be in 2012? We’ll see.
The Philadelphia Phillies have a chance to have a top-10 bullpen, depending on how Mike Adams recovers from his late-season collapse and how some of the power arms around Jonathan Papelbon develop, like Phillippe Aumont.
Texas has a lot of intriguing parts among its possible set-up group, like Joakim Soria, but some uncertainty over who will be able to fill which role.
January 5th, 201311:55 am
They are the best and he didn’t include all the relievers the Braves have.
January 5th, 201311:56 am
Now I’m seeing our bullpen in super focus
January 5th, 201311:57 am
Thanks Chief. No doubt the braves bullpen is number one and Fredi used them much better last season.
January 5th, 201312:03 pm
far and away the best…. which is why Duronio said that the Braves should attempt to move EOF. We’d still be very good without him,maybe still #1, but definitely top3-5.
Enjoy EOF this season folks. He’s a goner after the season.
January 5th, 201312:09 pm
“Buster Olney ranked the Braves bullpen No. 1 in the majors”
Not really that excited about that, if we can’t score runs we certainly won’t be able to use two or 3 of the guys at the end of the bullpen anyways.
This lineup is still in a lot of trouble. Lost our two best hitters from last year and replaced them with a sub .300 on base, poor defender in CF. Get excited.
TOBF – You need to get off this Shaunian “everyone over 30 is falling apart” kick. 34 ain’t all that old and Uggla is definitely in good shape. He had an off year and that’s something everyone has – but not all that do are still, in the top third at their position.
January 5th, 201312:10 pm
Especially whenwhat youre talking about is finishing the final year of his contract and NOT extending him until he’s 38.
January 5th, 201312:11 pm
or if the rotation doesn’t prevent enough runs…. mid rotation soft tossers
January 5th, 201312:14 pm
Shoulda signed Greinke for $12-$15 million a year.
January 5th, 201312:17 pm
I spoke with a trainer who said that guys who are that muscular and athletic in their youth fall apart much faster, around 32-33… expect this to happen to Trout. He said that that’s possibly what happened to Uggla, but he’s not positive since he was never the type of athlete that Trout is. But the repeated weight lifting and trying to build more and more muscle mass hurts the player as the get older.
I’m just worried about guys falling apart in the mid 30s, Lew… 34-35. Players seem to fall from their prime much faster than the reach it.
Time to go. Can;’t stand to watch the Grienke Love orgy about to happen here.
Hugo Z Hackenbush
January 5th, 201312:19 pm
I’m thinking the Braves will package O’Flaherty and Uggla to get Hunter Pence…
January 5th, 201312:20 pm
I really do wonder what is going to happen with Michael Bourn. He still is exactly what the Braves needed going into this offseason. Speedy CF who can get on base, hit for average, steal bases, play great defense in CF and bat leadoff. And low and behold we still need that. BJ Upton isn’t really a CF to begin with. I’d still take a shot at Bourn for CF and moving BJ to LF. I don’t know why they wouldn’t at least think about it.
January 5th, 201312:22 pm
Everyone over 33 is possibly falling apart…. be careful handing out big $$ to those guys
That’s the spirit MFin! 3 years til he can opt out…. maybe then. And that’s all I’ll say about the guy.
Doubt that could even happen, and the Giants already have a 2B. Blockbuster Marco Scutaro. But, if we could extend Hunter…. that’d be a nice deal.
January 5th, 201312:23 pm
I’d rather have that guy from Anaheim over Bourn…
Just joking, TOBF…I was targeting your particular interests…
January 5th, 201312:26 pm
“Id rather have that guy from Anaheim over Bourn”
Umm… Me too. Trout, Pujols, or Hamilton. Ah screw it, I’ll take any of the 3.
Not really that excited about that, if we can’t score runs we certainly won’t be able to use two or 3 of the guys at the end of the bullpen anyways. — MFin04
Ah, some things never change on the old blog, where for many it’s not a matter of glass half-full or half-empty, but more like, “I’m tired of my glass not being full! I don’t care if we’re not rich, I want a full glass! Where’s Ted Turner to fill it promptly?!”
January 5th, 201312:33 pm
ah, okay Hugo.
Yes, no, and no MFin… but you did forget one, speedster like Bourn, RH, low trade value, very good buy low candidate. Believe the name is Peter.
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