Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Buster doesn’t love Braves’ rotation

This, you should note, is not a recent picture. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This, as you doubtless know, is not a recent picture. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We keep hearing that the Braves’ rotation will be just as good without the man who finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting  in 2009. The (thin) reasoning: That Javier Vazquez was unlikely to have such a season again, but that Tim Hudson — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and who has won two games since — will absolutely return to top-of-the-rotation form. This, I say again, assumes a lot.

I haven’t quite bought it, and I note for your edification that the estimable Buster Olney of ESPN.com hasn’t yet, either. Writing for ESPN’s Insiders, Buster O. lists his top five rotations — top six, actually — and somehow doesn’t include the Braves’. (Link requires registration.) His rankings:

  • 1. Red Sox: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, Tim Wakefield.
  • 2. Yankees: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, Phil Hughes.
  • 3.  White Sox: Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Freddy Garcia.
  • 4. Angels: Jered Weaver, Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro.
  • 5. Cardinals: Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Brad Penny and “somebody else.”
  • 5a. Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, Jamie Moyer.

Of the latter, Olney writes: “The Phillies would have been No. 1 if they had Halladay, [Cliff] Lee and Hamels 1-2-3.” And what of the Braves? Here goes:

“I probably would have placed [them] at No. 3 if not for the trade of Javier Vazquez.”

So I guess that makes two among us who haven’t quite grasped the offseason Zen of Wren — Buster O. and yours truly. But you are, as ever, free to tell me how obstinately obtuse I am.

341 comments Add your comment

aswingruber

February 9th, 2010
11:37 am

aswingruber

February 9th, 2010
11:38 am

I’ve waited so long for that honor. Life is now complete… I agree, too many question marks with the rotation and lineup going into the season.

Brandon from Warner Robins

February 9th, 2010
11:39 am

Good Morning, Mark.

Still a solid rotation. If D-Lowe and Huddy can rebound, JJ and Tommy continue improving this rotation has the potential to be really good.

Mark Bradley

February 9th, 2010
11:39 am

Kudos to aswingruber. Your wait is at an end.

Clint

February 9th, 2010
11:40 am

yeah, it’s not like Hudson was lights out before the surgery. He has pretty much been a disappointment in Atlanta. And trading a guy because he might have a worse year than the year he just , is the most retarded logic I’ve heard to try to justify that trade.

Reid Adair

February 9th, 2010
11:41 am

Come on, Mark. You’re not really surprised by this, are you? You’ve been saying this – and many of your readers have as well.

Everyone wanted to praise Frank Wren for the 2009 rotation he put together. What they didn’t realize – at least not at first – was that it would not be possible for that rotation to remain intact for 2010. Now, Javier Vazquez is gone. Wren traded away an Opening Day starter and failed to get as much as an everyday position player in return.

dap01

February 9th, 2010
11:42 am

I love Hudson but I am still waiting to the Hudson that we heard about while he was in Oakland.

Mark Bradley

February 9th, 2010
11:43 am

I’m not surprised, Reid. But I’m still not sure why that rotation couldn’t hold together for one more year. Was $11.5 million really the tipping point?

MtnDawg

February 9th, 2010
11:43 am

Getting ride of Vasquez was a bone-head move.

Mark Bradley

February 9th, 2010
11:44 am

Clint and dap01, I’m with you. I think — actually, I know — I wrote last week that sometimes the Hudson we saw here was so ordinary that I wondered if something was wrong with his arm. He kept saying there wasn’t, but now it seems there was.

Reality Check

February 9th, 2010
11:45 am

Mark, I said it yesterday and you are right. We traded a reliable starter who is durable and was one of the top three pitchers in NL or right up there for an aging pitcher coming off major surgery. Hudson may come back to form but what happens after ten to fifteen starts. This is a big gamble that even if it works the Braves will be no better off. There was no reason to gamble if we were not going to use the money to sign real proven everyday outfielder or first baseman.

CTrim

February 9th, 2010
11:45 am

Enter your comments here

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 9th, 2010
11:51 am

Olney is correct, but the rotation only has to be so good. The Braves aren’t in the AL as 4 of these teams are and really does the White Sox or Angels rotation scare you? Peavy has questions as well coming off an injury plagued season. A rotation of JJ,Hanson, Hudson, Lowe and KK in the National League is pretty impressive.

TXDawg

February 9th, 2010
11:52 am

Guess we’ll pull another rabbit out the hat, or should I say another Tommy Hanson out of the minors this year. Ratings are sometimes overrated.

shmoe

February 9th, 2010
11:54 am

Once again, Buster Busted Picks Olney will eat crow. I don’t see how he could place the Angels rotation above the Braves. Either put the Braves on that list, or take the Angels off as well. Joe Saunders and Joel Pineiro? Really? And Kazmir is great, except his arm is always falling off. I agree with the other staffs on the list, they are all very good, to great, may even be phenomenal. Next year, they will be putting Braves on that list. Hanson and JJ is as nasty a 1-2 as there is in the game. Hudson, Lowe and KK will round it out very nicely. It would be nice to have Vazquez still and Lowe as 5th starter, but then that would make the Braves top 3 on that list for sure.

Actually, I disagree with the White Sox ranking. It is pure rubbish. Peavy is a disaster waiting to happen, and Freddy Garcia has been pure rubbish for quite some time now.

Bravedawg

February 9th, 2010
11:54 am

Who cares! Let’s see them pitch and then decide. You reporters must be bored out of your mind right now to come up with this garbage. Go BRAVES!!!!!!

Sonny Clusters

February 9th, 2010
11:54 am

When a baseball player’s arm gets stringy and limp and won’t lift up right when he is winding up and won’t snap back after the throw, that player’s arm is suffering from bobbycoxia of the arm. We was always wondering how many pitchers was ruined by this bobbycoxia virus. We can think of quite a few.

glorydays

February 9th, 2010
11:56 am

I would like to hear from those who were so PO’ed that Vazquez was brought in for Flowers etc last year. If the young arms brought in work out down the road then it was a good trade. If Vazquez crashes and burns this year (he’s done it before) then it was a good trade. Who really knows?

shmoe

February 9th, 2010
11:57 am

Phillies rotation may deserve to be #3 on that list. And Braves #4 or #5. No way the White sox or Angels rotations are definitively better than Atlanta, even without Javy.

PMC

February 9th, 2010
11:59 am

You are correct. It is a huge gamble. But…. blame it on ownership and Lowe. Derrick Lowe and poor worth relative to his contract are the reason they couldn’t trade him. Same with Kawikami.

A caring ownership would have retained Vasquez contract and found a Left Fielder and First Baseman.

The move was made primarily as a cost saver for the bottom line, you know it. I know it. Frank Wren knows it. They had to move someone and Vasquez was the only one with real value so they got what they could and publically they will pretend much like that they did not weaken the product.

really?

February 9th, 2010
12:00 pm

“The Phillies would have been No. 1 if they had Halladay, [Cliff] Lee and Hamels 1-2-3.”

ya think???

shmoe

February 9th, 2010
12:00 pm

Sonny Clusters,

You must have bobbycoxia below the belt or in the brain then. Bobbo’s pitchers are certainly not the only ones to suffer arm problems. But I’d venture to guess this comment falls on deaf ears.

KnightInATL

February 9th, 2010
12:01 pm

It would have made no sense to keep Vazquez. He would be in a contract year this year, and as any knowledgeable fan knows, we would not have been able to keep him around with an extension. Our choices would have been to trade him before the season (and get the max we could for him…though I’m not sure that Melky Cabrera was the answer) or keep him around and trade him at the deadline (and get less). Long term, it makes more sense to extend Hudson and get what you can for Vazquez. And let’s not forget, Vazquez had essentially a career year last season that he is highly unlikely to duplicate.

Jeff Walker

February 9th, 2010
12:02 pm

So, Roy Hallady makes up for an absolutely awful Jamie Moyer and a slumping cole hamels? Not to mention that the guy they claim to be so consistent (Blanton) had a worse ERA than Kawakami. Hanson and Jurrjens are a 1-2 that is equal to the Angels, Chi Sox and Boston. Besides, didn’t the Braves #5 starter, Kawakami, go toe-to-toe w/ the great Roy Halladay last year and win? I think so. I wasn’t aware that there were 6 other teams that could slide a sub-4.00 ERA into the #5 spot. Buster is wrong and so is Mark (no shocker there)

Mark Bradley

February 9th, 2010
12:02 pm

Ratings are sometimes overrated, TXDawg. And I’ll steal that line before long.

PMC

February 9th, 2010
12:02 pm

He’s smoking serious crack with the 5A selection though. That’s freaking ridiculous. Cole Hamels should be awesome, but we don’t know where he is mentally. Blanton and Happ are average. Jamie Moyer is 400 years old.

aswingruber

February 9th, 2010
12:04 pm

I wasn’t crazy about the trade either. With that said, it seems that people seem to forget that we got the Yankees best pitching prospect, Arodys Vizcaino, in the deal who every scout claims has a high ceiling. It’s likely that this guy could turn into another top of the rotation starter like Jair down the line while Vasquez is almost guaranteed to decline from last season’s form as he shifts to the AL and gets older. Then how does this trade look? It’s easy to lose sight of the long term and get caught up in the instant gratification of these deals but it takes time to get a true read of which side got the better deal. Refer to the Texeira trade.

extremus

February 9th, 2010
12:06 pm

While Hudson has been a consistently good pitcher throughout his career, he can be injury prone and, while he may still yet have another really good season or two left in his arm, I don’t think he can be depended on as a top-of-the-rotation starter. I definitely hold out hope that he will pitch lights-out this year and be one of the league’s feel-good stories, but truthfully if that happens it’s because the Braves were very fortunate, not because of sound decision-making of the part of Frank Wren. The cost cutting and personnel moves have been annual gambles by him and Liberty Media that things will hold together just enough to remain competitive and profitable; the atmosphere of winning it all being the standard goal has evaporated.

A lie that we and other smaller markets have come to be deceived by is that we can build a perennial contender out of our farm system. “Let this or that established player go in exchange for a promising young prospect”; sound familiar? Fifteen or twenty years ago, that was absolutely true and the Braves were the model example of it by such acquisitions as John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander and bringing up a slew of great talent, many now headed for Cooperstown. But the current nature of the game and the runaway costs of free agency have turned the tables to where now, the smaller markets themselves (in fact, let’s face it, all but about three or four markets in the league) have become the farm systems for richer teams like the Yankees to come in at will during free agency and reap the benefits that the other teams have taken years to develop and mature. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if say, seven or eight years from now we see Vizcaino, the prospect we got in exchange for Vazquez, donning a Yankees uniform, along with other current Braves prospects.

We need to get past the “that’s the way it is” mentality throughout baseball and do whatever it takes to restore competitive balance in free agency (even if it means restricting PLAYER SALARIES; don’t dare call that communist or oppressive when those guys say they feel entitled to seven figures or more per year and a tenth of our country are currently out of work and most of the rest struggle just to make ends meet…don’t, because if this economy hasn’t hit you yet it very likely will soon). If things don’t change, while it won’t happen overnight, eventually it will mean the extinction of many smaller market franchises and possibly even MLB itself. NOTHING, including sports and entertainment, are recession-proof, folks.

Chuck

February 9th, 2010
12:06 pm

Bradley quit your whining…we made a shrewd decision to extend a pitcher who has better career #s at a cheaper price than take our chances with 1) a dropoff in production from Vazquez (highly probable) and 1a) JV’s contract for next year.

We got fantastic value and did even more to secure cost certainty for 2012-2013 when all these young arms hit the big leagues.

What are you gonna complain about in 2013 when JJ and Hanson are making the big $$ and we have several major league minimum studs to choose from?

How many times do you have to be told that we don’t have $150MM to spend? Why don’t you re-focus your efforts in trying to get fans to actually go to the effing park? That would get us the extra $11.5MM that we could just p!$$ away…

This rotation (and pen) will be the finest in all baseball this year, barring substantial injury.

Herschel Talker

February 9th, 2010
12:08 pm

MB:

When it comes to slamming the imbecile that is Frank Wreck, all I can say is that you are the man! He is a boob of the highest order. He tries to sell us on Melky Cabrera. Does he think we’re all idiots? What a jerk.

HT

Herschel Talker

February 9th, 2010
12:08 pm

Chuck – STFU

Chuck

February 9th, 2010
12:10 pm

Intelligent response Herschel…do you buy tix to games? Or just troll the internet spewing hate?

Mark Bradley

February 9th, 2010
12:11 pm

Let me be clear about this, Herschel: I had no problem with what Wren did last offseason. It was this one that stumped me.

Jim A

February 9th, 2010
12:11 pm

Yeah, Herschel, way to add to the conversation.

shmoe

February 9th, 2010
12:11 pm

We’re not depending on Hudson to be a #1 anymore. Hanson established himself as the future ace last year, and this year will go along way to further solidify that. Everyone should know this. And if JJ is not a #1, he is a very good #2. Hudson, #3 if healthy is no slouch. #4 and 5 to Lowe and KK in any order really, doesn’t matter much to me. I think this is still VERY strong, especially for the NL.

siskel_god

February 9th, 2010
12:12 pm

MB, the rotation is the least of my concerns. Does it really surprise you that somebody from espn has the Red Sox and Yankees 1-2? There are so many questions about the Braves rotation but I guess those questions don’t apply to Boston and New York. The Sox got Lackey and Daisuke coming off of injury years and the Yanks got A.J. (who is the ultimate enigma), Joba, and Pettite. How does that rotation have less questions then the Braves? Go up and down the list and tell me who you would rather have, 1) Hudson, CC, or Beckett? CC hands down. 2) Lester, Burnett, or JJ? JJ very close over Lester. 3) Hanson, Pettite, or Lackey? Hanson and it’s not even close IMO. 4) Lowe, Javy, or Daisuke? Javy, but his numbers are really not that impressive for his career, he has certainly had worse years than D-Lowe had last year 5) Joba, Buccholz, or KK? Prolly Buccholz for the same reasons I like Hanson. Now, by my logic the Braves are better than the Yanks and maybe just a step below the Sox because I like Wakefield and the minor league depth a little better. But top to bottom, I’ll take the Braves over any other staff. KK is clearly better than the “someone else” the Cards will trot out and the fact that Freddy Garcia, Brad Penny and Jamie Moyer are on the lists of the top five staffs is a joke. What about San Fran and the Rays?

DawgInDC

February 9th, 2010
12:12 pm

I’ll be waiting to hear wren’s excuses come sept on why we are 3rd in the east again

Opinion

February 9th, 2010
12:12 pm

I wouldn’t trade our rotation for anybody’s in the MLB, saying that I must point out that Frank Wren is still an idiot trading Vasquez for a couple of bottle waters

chuck

February 9th, 2010
12:13 pm

Hudson is a better pitcher historically. He was cheaper. Everybody loved Javier…but….

Sometimes tough decisions need to be made on a budget (see every household in the US)

Mark Bradley

February 9th, 2010
12:14 pm

Buster Olney mentions San Francisco and Tampa Bay in the same paragraph as the Braves.

chuck

February 9th, 2010
12:15 pm

Anyone who is negative on the work Wren has done is foolish…we are trying to move into a new era.

I am sick of reading complaints on here from fans who can’t be bothered to get us up into the $3MM range it’ll take to expand the payroll or potentially get a deep pocket owner interested in us.

Wren has us positioned very well for the future, with a very good chance to earn a playoff spot this year. On $90MM (or slightly less); you really can’t ask for much more.

jmarable

February 9th, 2010
12:16 pm

does not matter what the rotation looks like,check out that weak outfield,worst in baseball.everyone uses a lot of if’s when talking about the infield,if the 1stbaseman stays health,if chipper stays health,what if prado has a good yr.to many if’s.what if hudson stays healthy,after jj and hanson,u basically got an average pitching staff to go along with no run support=LAST PLACE.Hello basement here we come.believe it.liberty group has got 2 turn this team over to someone who wants to win.not save money and charge 12 bucks a beer.and 6 bucks a hot dog.Come on man.at those prices we should b able to afford one bopper in the outfield.

Opinion

February 9th, 2010
12:16 pm

Bobby Cox we will miss you, please take over for Frank Wren

chuck

February 9th, 2010
12:16 pm

Buster doesn’t get out of the NE, and he is no Gammons….don’t know where he moved in and took over as baseball’s pre-eminent source for info.

If I need Sox/Yanks insight, he’ll be the first I look to…otherwise…

chuck

February 9th, 2010
12:17 pm

Typo on that $3MM…i meant 3 million fans…

C. Tampa Ironworse

February 9th, 2010
12:17 pm

Wow..Yankees and Sox at the top(suprise). It’s not like ESPN gets on its knees to sell to those two markets…oh, wait a minute. Give me a break. Can you really rely someone name Buster? It’s all about getting people to register and those two markets DRIVE baseball. Beat it, Buster…

chuck

February 9th, 2010
12:18 pm

Melky will most likely be traded, Herschel…please follow the team a little…

Either Damon or Heyward will make him expendable by mid-year. If not prior.

Opinion

February 9th, 2010
12:19 pm

we need our Swagger back, give me a break, stop putting the Phillies on a pedestal, I don’t care how good you think they are, to me they will always be the bottom dwelling Phillies from Veteran’s stadium. If you treat them like crap you will have some confidence to win.

I repeat The Phillies are garbage, regardless of going to two straight world series

one more thing….please stop pitching Ryan Howard outside where he can get his hands extended.

I can count on 2 hands how many times Ryan Howard has single handily won the game with an outside pitch.

Mark Bradley

February 9th, 2010
12:19 pm

Buster Olney went to Vanderbilt. Just so you know.

SC Ace

February 9th, 2010
12:20 pm

I wish we’d been able to trade DLowe instead of Vazquez, but it is what it is. Lowe will be serviceable and we still have JJ, Hanson, and Hudson. Kawakami is more than adequate in the 5 slot. I’ll take it. Let’s just hope nobody gets hurt!

But boy doesn’t out-of-state corporate ownership suck?