The Braves prove the old saw: Can’t have too much pitching

"I won't talk about my shoulder. So don't ask." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"I won't talk about my shoulder. So don't even ask, OK?" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Bobby Cox, who had some idea of how to handle pitchers, used to say of pitching: “When you think you’ve got enough, go get some more.”

If any team looked to have too much pitching, the Braves were it. Their rotation should have produced two All-Stars — still can’t get over Tommy Hanson not making it — and most teams would kill to have Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Brandon Beachy as their Nos. 3, 4 and 5 starters. And this isn’t to mention Kris Medlen, who’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, or the bountiful farm system that counts Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado as gold-plated prospects.

So deep was the Braves’ well of arms that even someone who hates the idea of trading young pitching – i.e., me — was ready to part with Minor for a deadline bat. But Frank Wren held the line and wound up getting Michael Bourn anyway, and now we see the wisdom in the GM’s no-arms-for-rentals stance.

Jair Jurrjens is on the disabled list with a sore knee. Hanson could skip a turn. (Hanson won’t say if his shoulder is hurting, which you’d have to think is an indication it is.) Before he beat the Marlins last night, Lowe had gone a calendar month without authoring a quality start. And the ERA of the Braves’ starters, which was second in the majors to Philadelphia’s not long ago, is now only eighth-best in baseball, fourth-best in the National League.

We say again: Pitchers are fragile creatures. They hurt their arms, and sometimes their knees. They get tired. Their “mechanics” get messed up. The reason baseball men say you can never have too much pitching is that, pitching being 75 or 90 percent (estimates vary) of the game, you really can’t.

Having gone temporarily insane, I was ready to trade Minor, but he was needed for an essential start in Jurrjens’ stead Sunday. Minor didn’t win, but he worked into the sixth inning — and his team won, which is the main thing. And now, should Hanson require time off, Teheran will be needed, too.

Two weeks ago, we were all ripping Wren for not making a bigger move sooner — in the case of Carlos Beltran, I was guilty, too — but Wren has been around a while. He knows what every one of us should know but, being human, we sometimes forget. Pitching is the most precious commodity in any team sport. If you have it, you’re blessed. If you have it, you keep it.

By Mark Bradley

144 comments Add your comment

steve

August 9th, 2011
10:53 am

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2011
10:55 am

Kudos again, Mr. steve.

steve

August 9th, 2011
10:56 am

2 in a row, MB…game on!

As sports fans, we live in the here and now. Rarely (if ever) do fans think long term, and certainly they don’t when their team has a chance to win it all. Such are the Braves right now, and before the deadline we, as fans, were at least willing to say we would trade one of the big 4…whether in reality as a GM we would do it or not. Wren looked great dealing for Bourn without giving up a huge prospect. With each injury to the starting rotation, he looks even better.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2011
11:00 am

That’s well said, steve. You should be a writer.

GoldJacket

August 9th, 2011
11:03 am

So much for bringing them up to help out in the bullpen

Larry

August 9th, 2011
11:04 am

“Bobby Cox, who had some idea of how to handle pitchers,…”

Mark,

Please tell me you’re kidding? Cox was blessed to have great pitching handed to him by his GM and Braves scouting and development team, but no one, I mean NO ONE, has every handled pitching more poorly, especially in the postseason as the one Mr. Bobby Cox, holder of a 1-15 record in the last game and series of the postseason.

And remember, it took a one hitter by Mr. Glavine and pitching the best game of his life against Cleveland in the 1995 World Series that kept this bozo from having to make yet another stupid postseason pitching decision and making him a perfect 0-16!

Come on Mark! Really?

gadawgs

August 9th, 2011
11:06 am

Agreed Mark. In all honesty I was with you with the Minor deal and I was wrong. I love the new look Braves with Bourn and Constanza (sorry Jason but it is what it is). Love to watch those two on the bases. When we get Mac back and our pitching comes back around which it will (they are too good not to) we will be DANGEROUS in October. j

Marteen is a Ballplayer

August 9th, 2011
11:07 am

When you’re right, you’re right. I was screaming as loud as anyone when we didn’t trade Minor for Hunter Pence. I hate the fact he went to Philly and is turning out to be all the Phillies could hope for, but Bourn is a better fit for out team. No one could have predicted that Constanza would have worked as a de facto lead-off man after seven-years in the minors, and that would mean Pence is a better fit for the past couple of weeks. Still, seven years in the minors is seven years in the minors. I would still take Bourn right now in the event Constanza reverts back to a minor leaguer. If he continues to perform, well, you can never have too much speed either and I love how we are starting to manufacture runs more often than not when either Constanza or Bourn get on base.

Larry

August 9th, 2011
11:07 am

“Bobby Cox, who had some idea of how to handle pitchers,…”

Thanks, Mark!

You’ve started my day with a great belly laugh! Great joke! Thanks!

Larry

August 9th, 2011
11:09 am

Great…my two posts have been arrested by Mark’s censor police!

How much is their bail, Mark?

Bill

August 9th, 2011
11:10 am

Happy B-Day Freeman..a old 22…lol

Seen (The Overrated American League) This (Lose the All-Star Game) B4

August 9th, 2011
11:11 am

I think Wren’s patience has paid off, as you said MB. I’m glad we didn’t go after either Beltran or Pence–we addressed the right-handed power issue w/ Uggla during the offseason and he is finally delivering. Still worried about the bullpen getting overworked, though. Am anxious to see how a Braves team with a healthy Prado, Chipper, and Jair matches up in this post-season (vs. the walking wounded who made it to the finish line in 2010).

Fish Bisch

August 9th, 2011
11:11 am

The pitching will be our demise this year. It is falling like a lead ballon.

JerseyChoppin

August 9th, 2011
11:11 am

I wasn’t one that wanted Beltran. I never liked him, and he even stated his aversion to playing CF. So not only would he have not been a good fit (we needed a CF), but I am not really that impressed with him anyway.

If anyone, I would have given up Minor for Pence, NOT Beltran. But as we have seen, again, Pence would have not been a good fit given him being a RF, not a CF.

loser

August 9th, 2011
11:19 am

so John Smoltz is foreclosing on 1.6 million dollar property in Wyoming..is he broke or just decided to quit paying his bills? The latter I’m guessing.

Bryan

August 9th, 2011
11:22 am

Expanding the roster sept 1 is huge for this team and the minor league depth has and will be display down the stretch. Don’t forget about waiver wire moves as well

DCBrave33

August 9th, 2011
11:22 am

Larry…you say Cox was handed great pitching by his GM? Well…actually, Bobby Cox WAS the GM who brought Glavine along (and didnt trade him when he struggled for 3 years) and Cox WAS the GM who traded for some guy named Smoltz in ‘87. So yes, he was handed great pitching by a GM, who turned out to be HIMSELF. Now, you can give full credit to Mr. Schuerholtz for acquiring Maddux, but how difficult of a decision is it to go after the reigning NL Cy Young in the winter of ‘92?

Ken Stallings

August 9th, 2011
11:23 am

Well, it takes an honorable man to admit publicly he was wrong.

Dr. Phil

August 9th, 2011
11:25 am

The addition of Bourn supports the adage about blind squirrels.

Dr. Sigmund Football

August 9th, 2011
11:26 am

So, reading (probably incorrectly) between the lines, is Steve Mr. Hummer?

Herschel Talker

August 9th, 2011
11:27 am

Larry:

You’re dead on, but no chance MB admits it. Cox was the biggest bonehead around when it came to handling pitching. I mean, what a stupid fool that man was. Fredi looks to be just as bad. Another moron.

HT

Dr. Sigmund Football

August 9th, 2011
11:27 am

Starting to look like a hospital around here.

J-man

August 9th, 2011
11:27 am

Time for proctor to go

Dr. Sigmund Football

August 9th, 2011
11:28 am

“NO ONE, has every handled pitching more poorly, especially in the postseason as the one Mr. Bobby Cox”

Pardon me if I take the word of three Hall of Famers over yours, Larry.

Herschel Talker

August 9th, 2011
11:29 am

DCBrave33:

You’re right. Cox was indeed a stellar GM. No doubt. Brilliant talent evaluator. But as a manager, he was a nose-picking, bumbling idiot.

HT

Ernest T. Bass

August 9th, 2011
11:29 am

Agree 100 percent with the article

If we are ever going to catch the Phillie’s ( not this year ) and take our rightful spot back atop the NL it will be done as it was before. Young Arms.

While Halladay (34) and Lee (33 this month) age the Braves rotation looks to actually et younger and stronger in the coming years.

Either way happy headaches.

steve

August 9th, 2011
11:41 am

@ Dr. Sigmund, nope.

truth

August 9th, 2011
11:42 am

If we can afford them

We will not be able to pay Hanson and JJ.

Peter

August 9th, 2011
11:43 am

“You can never have too much pitching”

Is that why Proctor is still on the team?

Ernest T. Bass

August 9th, 2011
11:46 am

We will not be able to pay Hanson and JJ.

Why not ??

By the time they are eligible to make the big bucks Lowe, Chipper, and KK contracts will be gone.

Thats about 35 million right there.

The Blue Indian

August 9th, 2011
11:48 am

Mark, you are the most reactionary sports writer I’ve ever seen.

darren

August 9th, 2011
11:50 am

Mark, I just woke up here in Laguna and liked your article. It is dead on ! If our starters can get back in a groove we will be tough down the strech. Proctor has to go!

steve

August 9th, 2011
11:52 am

MB – thanks for the compliment. I re-read my post and it got me to thinking…

Part of being a successful GM or a successful hands-on owner has to be the ability to objectively gauge your product and be enough of a forward thinker to determine how your moves today will impact your team and your moves into the future, presumably well into the future (at least 3 years I would imagine). Wren seems to have that ability, as does Dimitroff. Not that the ASG or Sund need any other rump kicking, but do (did) they lack that ability? It seems to me that Sund is stuck somewhere in the trees, without viewing the forest. Certainly he wasn’t thinking about the long-term future when he resigned Joe. Or, at the very least, he thought it was worth it to mortgage the future for Joe. He certainly wasn’t thinking about the future when he traded the assets for Hinrich (including the first round pick). While the Hawks may have an image problem, they also have an identity problem. Meruelo needs to pick a decisive GM if he chooses to replace Sund – one that can say, “Hey, we’re not going to win now, let’s develop a plan”, or “Hey, this is our chance, let’s go for it.” If he chooses the latter, he is extremely short sighted.*

*Didn’t mean to turn this into a Hawks post, but it just kind of happened.

truth

August 9th, 2011
11:55 am

Bass:

Freddie Freeman
Prado
Heyward (if he becomes good)
McCann
etc

Oh Scott Boras represents both

truth

August 9th, 2011
11:56 am

As much as I like Hanson with his delivery, I dont think I would give him a huge contract. JJ will go to the Yanks

Ramblinwreck83

August 9th, 2011
11:58 am

The Braves got the best trade out there. Thank goodness for all the Braves pitchers or they would be in alot of trouble.

P-Man

August 9th, 2011
12:02 pm

Sure Cox was 1-15 in the last games of postseason. He won one World Series. That means the other 15 times, he lost the last game of a series. How many other managers even HAVE 16 postseason appearances?

And you’re right, he was horrible managing pitchers. How else could he have made the postseason 16 times? Only bad managers do that. I guess all the former players and managers and sportswriters who laud Bobby Cox or all wrong. How else to explain something that only YOU (and a few vocal others) see?

Must be tough to have ALL the answers, and nobody listens to you…

jon

August 9th, 2011
12:05 pm

Something about this team when healthy…. Look out rest of the national league!

Heisenberg

August 9th, 2011
12:13 pm

@loser

August 9th, 2011
11:19 am
so John Smoltz is foreclosing on 1.6 million dollar property in Wyoming..is he broke or just decided to quit paying his bills? The latter I’m guessing.

The full details are yet to come out, but Smoltz is not the only wealthy celebrity being foreclosed on in the same Wyoming neighborhood. I suspect stop paying the bills and allow foreclosure is a legal strategy in a bigger fight. Stay tuned.

pitch this

August 9th, 2011
12:15 pm

Yes you must have good pitching. But you must also be able to score runs. Let’s have a little balance in the approach and maybe some playoff wins will follow.

Eli

August 9th, 2011
12:20 pm

No dominant closer in the bull pen played a huge role in the Braves not winning more in the playoffs or World Series. Always great starting pitching but a revolving door several yrs. when it came to our closer. Yankees have a closer that when you got to the 8 or 9th inning it was ball game over.

Larry

August 9th, 2011
12:21 pm

P-Man,

Not to belittle the accomplishment, but let’s put it perspective. TO win the division to qualify for the post season the Braves had to beat out the Mets, Marlins, Phillies and the Expos/Nationals. Not a very hard thing to do until just 3-4 years ago!

Yes, Bobby could manage to beat out those four teams and wind the majority of 162 games during the regular season with the talent he was afforded season after season, and running out Smoltz, Glavine, Avery, Maddux, Leibrandt, Neagle, Pete Smith, Hudson, Ortiz, etc.

But, in the postseason, and by the time you make the NLCS or World Series, you are facing teams with comparable pitching, this is when Cox was at his very worst…and this is when he was always screwing around with pitchers and getting so out-managed it is embarrassing to our city!

The “team of the 90’s” became baseball’s “Buffaloo Bills” because of the goober picker!

Heisenberg

August 9th, 2011
12:22 pm

@loser
August 9th, 2011
11:19 am

Smoltz is not the only weathly celebrity getting foreclosed in the same Wyoming neiborhood. I suspect a legal strategy could be in play. Stop paying and allow the foreclosure suit to be filed. Which would then result in a counter claim against developer. Stay tuned. There has to be more to it than just a foreclosure.

George Stein

August 9th, 2011
12:26 pm

No way pitching accounts for 75-90% of the game. It’s probably no more than 40%, which is why the W-L metric for pitchers is so completely stupid.

Ernest T. Bass

August 9th, 2011
12:34 pm

Bass:

Freddie Freeman
Prado
Heyward (if he becomes good)
McCann
etc

Oh Scott Boras represents both

McCann is locked up for awhile.

Freeman and Heyward wont be eligible for big bucks for a long time.

You pretty much made my point thanks

And you pretty much make the point of having alot of pitching.

If JJ and Hanson leave fine.

We still have Teheran, Minor, Medlen, Delgado, Vizcaino, Beachy

BravesFan

August 9th, 2011
12:36 pm

That’s why they say ” He’s the GM or He’s the Coach and you’re not.” Stick to reporting and not to what you think someone else should do.

Klaus

August 9th, 2011
12:41 pm

Let’s not give Wren the Sage hat too soon. He must know the health status if his players and JJ has had a rotten ERA since the AS break. 1+1 = 2.

In any case Minor has a LHP replacement in the minors :) who could be ready by next June – they could have survived without him.

If Minor gets you Pence or even Rasmus you do it b/c the OF has been a sink hole for performance for years.

Usually one guy is ok to sometimes good but the other two stink.

Also why do you think the pitching is failing apart Bill? Well one theory is that the crappy OF offense and spotty offense in general require the starters to pitch til their arms fell off to keep the Braves in the mix.

Basically the starters, McCann and FF are the only reason the Braves were in it at the trade deadline.

Now the wear n tear of trying to be too perfect is catching up with the rotation. That is on Wren & Liberty.

The idea that you can fix the OF at the deadline (or any other glaring hole) is folly. Yes you may get a guy on the cheap or pull off a lopsided trade but your pitchers will be dog food by then.

Until Liberty cuts a check and Wren learns you cannot leave pitchers out to drive with spotty offenses for 1/2 the season we will be on wash rinse and repeat mode with this club.

So don’t crow about the genius in the FO. Their penny pinching and we will fix it later approach is not really work.

reckingball

August 9th, 2011
12:49 pm

I thought that McCann’s contract runs through 2012.

LawDawg

August 9th, 2011
12:57 pm

“now we see the wisdom in the GM’s no-arms-for-rentals stance.”

No, Mark, now YOU see the wisdom in this. Most of us have long enough memories to recall Drew for Wainwright. Obviously, Minor is considered the most major-league-ready arm, which is why he was not traded and none of the other three should even have been considered because they all have too much upside.

O'Brien

August 9th, 2011
1:04 pm

MB,

most teams would kill to have Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Brandon Beachy as their Nos. 3, 4 and 5 starters..

Nobody wants Derek Lowe for 2 reasons. 1) He makes $15 mil and 2) His ERA is not good, and he is no longer an innings eater.