Open thread, 7/6, #Braves reality check

Hopefully Tyrell Jenkins will make me look foolish (see below) as he takes the mound for his MLB debut as a starter.

The line-up, followed by some basic truths routinely ignored and/or denied by the franchise’s many mouthpieces and the horde of Coppy apologists on Twitter:

Peterson 4, Inciarte 8, Freeman 3, Markakis 9, Francoeur 7, Garcia 5, Pierzynski 2, Aybar 6, Jenkins 1

It’s a golden era for third sackers (Machado, Bryant, Donaldson, etc.) but Braves fans wouldn’t know it. Adonis Garcia, with his .595 OPS, does not belong on a major league roster. Rio Ruiz, whose Triple-A numbers are slightly better than Nick Markakis’, is not yet ready. Austin Riley may be in three years (he is starting to hit for more power at Rome and has cut down on his strikeouts but still has just 6 homers compared to 94 Ks).

The rotation is what it is … for the rest of this year and next. That includes slow-learning (or hard-headed) Folty, the Braves’ #3 starter. Who fills out the starting five? John Gant?? Williams Perez???  This is why you can’t trade Juley — unless you’re okay with flirting with 100 losses again. In fact, instead of trading pitching for hitting, as was the grand plan, the Braves may find themelves trying to swap underachieving potential for major league ready arms. And that’s assuming there’s a market for:

*Aaron Blair, who has taken his struggles to Gwinnett; *Lucas Sims, who has taken his struggles to Mississippi; *Tyrell Jenkins, who has shown no evidence of being an adequate big league starter — and that includes his stint at Gwinnett, when he missed few bats and allowed more hits than innings pitched; and *Chris Ellis, who pitched well at Mississippi but has been owned by Triple-A batters. *Sean Newcomb retains the most value, but not as much as when he was an Angel. His strikeouts per 9 have dropped from 11.1 to 8.8 while his BB/9 has remained stagnant, from 5.0 to 4.8. Command, or lack of, is the common thread. Most of these guys just can’t throw strikes consistently and minor league hitters are making them pay.

Rome pitching coach Dan Meyer, the centerpiece of the Tim Hudson trade with the A’s, deserves a promotion. Touki Toussaint and Max Fried have shown steady improvement while Mike Soroka and Patrick Weigel have been the mound standouts from last year’s draft. However, all — with the exception of Soroka and, to a lesser degree, Weigel — have command issues.

Dansby and Ozzie will be manning the middle infield for the Braves on Opening Day. That’s near-certain. They may be ready, but the Braves will not be erring on the side of caution.

To repeat: Why did Coppy rush to trade Bud Norris? Had his first start with the Dodgers been for the Braves he could’ve received a better return. And what if Norris continues his hot streak? At the trading deadline, small sample sizes are easily disregarded and this year, the market for starters is limited. Coppy was also too quick to deal Jason Grilli — for a pitcher they’ve since released. Grilli has a 2.31 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 11-2/3 with the Jays. Not saying he could’ve gotten a lot but he could’ve gotten more.

If Dave Stewart wasn’t a GM how would Coppy’s trades rank? Swanson and Toussaint wouldn’t be Braves. But Hector Olivera still would be. I’d give Coppy a “C”.

Olivera will probably be the in the hunt to start in LF next year, which is offensive to me as a person and as someone who appreciates major league talent. On a similar note, it was really disheartening to see Mets fans give Jose Reyes a standing ovation. Those cheers turned to boos only as Reyes proceeded to go 0-for his New York rebut. Not hitting a baseball: Boos. Hitting a woman: Cheers.

Speaking of regrettable trades, Andrelton’s offensive numbers are about where they were as a Brave. But he’s batting .426 in his last 12 games and tonight fell a homer short of a cycle. He was, and is, worth more than Newcomb and Ellis.

Fredi’s on Baseball Tonight as analyst. True to form, he began a thought with, “You know what …” and ended it with something stupid. In this case, Fredi called signing Reyes “a no-brainer,” apparently seeing no dilemma in employing a guy who beats up women. Fredi did, however, get off a decent line at the expense of the show’s stats guy: “I had one of those guys in my office every day. That’s why I got fired after 40 games.” That, and a 9-28 record.

Fredi’s successor has now lost as many games as manager of the Braves, with 10 more wins. So Snitker is ahead of Fredi’s pace, but the Braves, with twice as many losses as wins, are two games behind the ’88 team’s pace after 84 games.

Can’t wait to see the valentine to a known cheater that’s sure to mark this year’s All-Star Game, otherwise known as the Cubs vs. Red Sox, starring Big Phony. This time I’ll watch something else.

Which is what Braves fans have been doing in 2016. The team is next-to-last in the NL in attendance, averaging 22,724 tickets sold. That’s down 3,266 per game from 2015, although the naked eye tells you the drop is even greater.

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One Comment

  1. Although a lot of stat-happy fans’ hearts go a-flutter over baseball prospects, the fact is, they’re prospects. They COULD become great players, but the odds are long that they ever will. And it’s even less likely with pitching prospects. But, as things stand now, it would seem that the Braves stripped the franchise of it most valuable assets for a bunch of guys who aren’t going to do much in the majors.

    How could they miss so egregiously on all these young arms? The scouting department has to take the blame. As I recall, the layoffs began during the Time-Warner years, and the scouting operation has never really recovered. (I mean how else can one explain taking a college pitcher in the first round in 2013, supposedly because he’d get to the majors quickly, and three years later, he’s scuffling around Double-A ball as a setup man?) To the organization’s credit, it has revamped its scouting department, so let’s hope that whatever Latin American scouts who thought Hector Oliveira and Dian Toscano were worth huge deals weren’t the same ones who pinned the franchise’s hopes on Kevin Maitan.

    Unfortunately, Coppy strikes me as a guy who keeps making deals to try to prove his genius and keeps failing to do so. Bud Norris was traded because the Dodgers had just put Clayton Kershaw on the DL and were desperate for a fill-in starting pitcher, and Coppy figured whatever they offered would be the most Norris could bring back. And maybe he was right, maybe if Norris made a start or two like those he authored in April, his minimal trade value would plummet to the level of the “skunk farm” square in the Game of Life. But the difference between not much and nothing at all is so thin, that he should have waited. Perhaps the Dodgers could have found pitching elsewhere, but their problems are so severe that come the All-Star break, they will still need starting pitching. Coppy basically sold the old car that doesn’t run that’s been out in the barn for several decades to the first guy to stop by and make an offer, without bothering to check to see whether he had a rust-bucket mid-1970s AMC product or Tucker 48 #1042.

    And although I don’t totally agree with you guys as to whether the Braves should trade Julio Teherán, because I don’t think Coppy has the discipline to get requisite value in return, I think the Braves should hold onto him. If a team were to offer an MLB-ready third baseman/catcher/corner outfielder with power, an MLB-ready starting pitcher, plus a highly third baseman/catcher/outfield prospect in the low minors, plus a highly rated pitching prospect in the low minors, then the Braves should at least listen. Teherán is young, is already among the top starting pitchers in baseball, and has a contract that will pay him, on average, a mere $10 million a year through 2020, and what I just listed is what I think is value commiserate with his value. Unfortunately, I fear Coppy will ship him off for $24 in beads.

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