Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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19 Jan

R-Braves sign two pitchers

Jason the RBravesman reports that two minor league pitchers have been signed by the Braves. Both have some major league experience. Bobby M. Jones, a lefty, has pitched poorly for several teams in the major leagues since 1997. Jamie Arnold, a former Braves first round pick, came up with the Dodgers in 1999 and was last seen in 2000 with the Cubs. Neither is at all likely to make the major league team, and even Richmond is a stretch for Arnold.

19 Responses to “R-Braves sign two pitchers”

  1. 1
    bamadan Says:

    I’m trying to think of a good reason for all these piddly little signings. The best I can come up with is a shortage of guys who can throw batting practice. But now, the Braves are sure to have that covered. Its never too early to worry about the details like that.

  2. 2
    Colin Says:

    I figue it’s the continuation of the pattern that yielded Hammond and Holmes last year. Given the success of that, it’s hard for me to argue with, even if a niggling part of me keeps whispering that some year they’ll sign a whole boatload of Chris Seelbach types

  3. 3
    bamadan Says:

    Just because somebody won $100m playing the lottery doesn’t mean that it is a good source for retirement funding.

    Holmes / Hammond are like hitting the jackpot. More often, the Braves have netted such luminaries like Joe Slusarski, Matt Whiteside, Don Wengert, Stan Belinda, and John Hudek from this scrap heap.

    The success of Holmes & Hammond may prove to be as disasterous as the Schuerholz success in KC with Buddy Biancalana — it seemingly proves that you can win with an absolute zero on the team and has resulted in years of Rafeal Belliard, Ozzie Guillen and Keith Lockhart.

  4. 4
    snellvillejones Says:

    unrealted: I just saw an ad for Braves season tickets on tv. The regular names fly across the screen behind some baseball action and dramatic music.
    The last name to appear on the screen: Johnny Estrada.

    Let the healing process begin..

  5. 5
    Ulysses S. Grant Says:

    Yeah, Hammond and Holmes shouldn’t have had good seasons. Didn’t they know that by doing so, they messed up the Braves’ future? And what about the coaches? Were they really thinking ahead to the future, when they might have to rely on other unproven arms when they worked with Hammond & Holmes and tried to help them succeed?

    Lesson to the Braves: don’t try to get cheap relievers and make them effective pitchers. It will only hurt you in the long run. Look at the D-rays. No success = no expectations. At least some Braves fans see what a blessing in disguise that is.

  6. 6
    Colin Says:

    bamadan –
    While I can appreciate your sentiment, I think you overlook the extent to which they have had success with this approach before. Hammond and Holmes are of course the most extreme examples. However, let’s also consider:
    –Remlinger – remember how he’d never had a sub-4 ERA before Atlanta?
    –Ligtenberg – acquired for bats and balls
    –Greg McMichael – what had he done pre-Braves?
    –Jose Cabrera – had had some ML success, but was coming off ML failure
    –Russ Springer – check out pre-Atlanta numbers
    –Mike Bielecki – check out the numbers in the years immediately prior to ech of his Braves stints
    –Bedrosian (second stint with Atlanta) – was medicore or gone prior to coming back with Atlanta

    Now, do all mediocrities signed pan out? Not hardly. The Milt Hills, Paul Byrds, Chris Seelbachs and Joe Slusarskis certainly outnumber these guys. But here’s the thing – those guys don’t get much playing time. The team has a strategy – they sign a whole bunch of these, and cycle through them until one or two pan out. And one or two pan out each year, and the rest go back to Richmond or get released. It means April can be a continuation of spring training auditions, but for the other 5 months they tend to do okay.

    Like you, I know that at some point everyone they sign will suck. But Hammond and Holmes were exceptions only in the sheer dominance of their performances. In terms of signing good, effective relievers (the guys above all had ERAs under 3.5 in the post-Colorado era, and most under 3), the team’s approach has been considerably more successful than any lottery.

  7. 7
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Hammond and Holmes, at least, had shown that they could pitch in the past. (And Holmes had mostly been good. It was his health that was a concern.) Jones and Glynn have been two of the worst pitchers in the majors, and Arnold isn’t even that good. This isn’t a case of trying to see if you can improve a mediocrity, it’s guys for whom mediocrity is a giant step up.

  8. 8
    Colin Says:

    Hammond hadn’t had an above average ERA+ since 1995; his best since then before 2002 was 79. But your point is well taken.

  9. 9
    bamadan Says:

    Colin,

    I don’t disagree with what you are saying. The Braves have shown that a team need not sign the Antonio Alfonseca’s, Steve Karsay’s, or Roberto Hernandez’s to have an effective or even very effective bullpen.

    I’d pick nits with a few of those examples ~ Ligtenberg and McMichael, were in their early to mid 20s when acquired, and Remlinger, IIRC, had done well as a reliever with the Reds but couldn’t start to save his life and / or career. Thats not at all like the additions of Jones, Arnold, or Venafro of the last week or two. But generally, I will accept the global point that unknown relievers can become the backbone of a bullpen cheaply and quickly.

    But this year, it appears that the Braves pen will have Smoltz, Holmes, King and three or four folks off the scrap heap. And Smoltz and Holmes have serious injury history issues. Add to that the near total remaking of the starting pitching staff with only a slowly declining Maddux returing having started even 10 games for the club.

    I don’t believe in overpaying for relievers. I do believe in a steady turnover of players to avoid aging. But I don’t like massive influxes of personnel, particularly on a team that ~ all the bitching about Lockhart aside ~ has been quite good.

    More alarming to me is that the Braves Brass has decided to remake the entire pitching staff while leaving the position players largely alone. What, did JS not notice that the Braves were first in the league in runs allowed but 10th in runs scored? It is, to me, a mark of a bad organization to fixate on what its good players don’t do rather than fix what its bad ones can’t.

  10. 10
    Colin Says:

    bamadan-
    I think we agree on most points, really. Frankly, i think the team could have done a lot better on the bullpen this offseason. Of course, I’d have not made the Hampton trade and would have kept Kerry around, then used Smoltz as a starter and one of those two as closer. I won’t say I’m optimistic about any of the relif options acquired, but I’m not as ready to dismiss them as I was Holmes and Hammond this time last year.

    I completely agree on the issue of not touching hte offense, though. Considering that Cliff Floyd could have been had for $6.5m a year, Edgardo Alfonzo for an average of $6m a year (and only $4m next year, increasing after that, when the Braves would have had more freed-up salary), Jeff Kent for $18m (but only 46m next year, thanks to deferrals) and, most amazing, Jose Hernandez for a paltry $800k (3B anybody? Bueller?), there are any number of improvements this team could have made this season. Alfonzo and Hernandez could have been had in 2003 for just a little more than the combined cost of Paul Byrd and Henry freaking Blano, for crying out loud.

  11. 11
    bamadan Says:

    I think we are largely in agreement.

    Still quibbling over details …

    You wrote you “would have kept Kerry around, then used Smoltz as a starter and one of those two as closer.” The later part of that phrase is indeterminative. Do you mean used Ligtenberg or Spooneybarger as closer? Or Ligtenberg or whom? Or is Kerry not part of your hypothetical closer choice and I’m missing player 1 and player 2?

    The first part of that phrase depends on team motivation. If the Braves are using Smoltz as a closer because of his saves totals or a perception regarding the importance of a “name” closer, than I agree with you 100%. Or if it is over some misplaced concern over the $300k / start bonus, again, I would move him to the rotation. If, however, he is being kept in the pen out of a concern for the ability of his surgically rebuilt arm to withstand 200 innings, then I’ll defer to the greater knowledge of the team.

    And wouldn’t it be nice to see a lineup that goes more than 2-3 hitters deep? I never expected Thome or even Floyd, but upper but not top-tier guys like Alfonzo would have been nice. I’m not sold on Hernandez ~ he’s 33 and is coming off a career best season where he batted a phenominal .423 (about 80 points above his career norm) when he made contact. But the best hitting SS in the NL signing for less that $1m? That’s a steal.

  12. 12
    Colin Says:

    You wrote you “would have kept Kerry around, then used Smoltz as a starter and one of those two as closer.” The later part of that phrase is indeterminative. Do you mean used Ligtenberg or Spooneybarger as closer? Or Ligtenberg or whom? Or is Kerry not part of your hypothetical closer choice and I’m missing player 1 and player 2?

    Sorry for the lack of clarity. In not dealing for Hampton, I’d have had both Spooney and Ligtenberg competing for the closer duties.

    As for Smoltz, I’d have moved him into the rotation by now because I think that he’s far enough removed from surgery to handle it (he handled pitching back to back to back outings just fine, which has to be a good sign). The Braves have two years left on his current contract, so while it’s something of a risk, it’s not a huge one. And he’s said repeatedly that he’d like to go back to starting.

    If not doing that, then I’d make him more of a 2-inning guy out of the pen, a 100-120 inning reliever.

    I think they are fearful of his injury status, but unfortunately I don’t know what they know from the doctors. Still, I’d maybe like to get him some spot starting work this year at least, in anticipation of the team not retaining Maddux in 2004.

  13. 13
    bamadan Says:

    Continuing the news of bad pitcher signings, the Braves have signed Roberto Hernandez, late of the Royals, to a one year deal worth between $600k and $1m depending on performance. The Mystique of the Proven Closer strikes again!

  14. 14
    Colin Says:

    Not a bad deal, IMO. He’s not great, but that price isn’t horrible either. His K/BB numbers were respectable last season, at least. At best he replaces Kerry in the pen, at worst he’s likely going to be merely average. If good, he potentially frees up Smoltz to return to the rotation when Byrd crashes and burns in a grizzly flameout.

  15. 15
    bamadan Says:

    Colin,

    His walks last year were great, but his K/9IP is falling off a cliff while his H/9IP are climbing equally fast. At 38, he looks like toast to me.

    Apparently, his contract will pay him roughly the same as the new Ligtenberg deal. Blech.

    What happened to that vaunted minor league system with a plethora of arms? The Braves are acting like its sacriligious to use any of them in middle / long relief. Personally, I think that is the best way to break them into the majors. And if resources are truly as limited as Schuerholz and Kasten say, then save a few bucks there and find a major league hitter. Hey, this money would have signed Jose Hernandez who would have played a credible 3B or could have been a solid multi-position player.

  16. 16
    Colin Says:

    His K rate was actually up last year, from about 6 to about 6.75 per 9 innings. It’s not what he posted at his peak, but that seems still respectable to me.

    As to the minor league arms, I don’t know. There’s talk of trey hodges competing with Marquis for his spot in the rotation, but nothing on him relieving. When was the last time they broke in someone in relief before shifting him to the rotation? Mercker? Wow, that’s a long time ago.

  17. 17
    david chandler Says:

    I’m surprised Colin, you’re usually so astute. The last time they broke in someone relieving before moving him to the rotation…ummmm…Jason Marquis. This is actually Bobby and Leo’s SOP with young pitchers. Many things to complain about re: Braves management, but IMHO this isn’t one of them.

  18. 18
    Colin Says:

    That’s what I get for relying on memory. I considered Marquis in my mind, but then thought he hadn’t gotten that many relief outings. But you’re right, he got into 15 games in relief in 2000, got 22 relief outings v. 16 starts in 2001, and was all starts last year.

    Colin

  19. 19
    Belly-Pregnant Says:

    Pregnant Belly

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