Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

I don’t want them forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me. -Hank Aaron

25 Feb

Jason Marquis

I’m working on the assumption that Jason will be the fifth starter, but he might be in the pen or sent to Richmond. That would probably be the best thing for him. The fifth starter’s role for the Braves is simply an impossible place for a young pitcher to thrive. The Braves have been much more successful with veterans like Mike Bielecki or John Burkett in that role. Young pitchers need regular work (but not too much) to develop, and being skipped half the time isn’t good for them.

Objectively, Jason was too hittable last year, allowing a .283 batting average against. The year before, when he looked like a budding star, he allowed only a .234 BA. Some of that’s just luck, some of it because he was around the plate more (his walks were down a little bit). The really worrisome points are that he gave up more homers and his strikeouts were slightly down; both of those should improve in a pitcher’s second year.

But look at it this way… Jason has essentially a year’s worth, or a little more than a year’s worth, of major league work spread over the last three seasons. And he’s been league-average, 14-15, 4.28 ERA. How many pitchers are league-average in their first season’s worth of work? Not that many.

What I would like is for the Braves to give him 30-plus starts and leave him alone, let him find his bearings. That seems unlikely, especially with the NL East (to put it mildly) not a sure thing. The Braves are holding open tryouts for the fifth starter’s spot with Horacio Ramirez and Trey Hodges, and probably others, getting shots, and Adam Wainwright on the horizon… It’s possible that Marquis has some injuries. He complained of shoulder soreness in November and early in camp, though he says that’s cleared up. Irregular work, it seems to me, is likely to lead to injuries as well as arrested development. The Braves would be wise to use whoever wins the job as the fourth starter and Byrd as a swingman making 25 starts and working out of the pen, but that’s not going to happen; Byrd makes $3 million this season and the kids make the minimum.

Jason Marquis Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

13 Responses to “Jason Marquis”

  1. 1
    Creg Says:

    Marquis obviously has ability, but Cox and Mazzone don’t seem to be too thrilled with his “toughness” (I put that in quotation marks because I’m not sure what it means). He’d better snap out of it, or he could be headed for the Pete Smith/Bruce Chen junkpile.

    Of course, the Braves could dangle Marquis for a hitter and go with Ramirez, Hodges or Wainwright …

  2. 2
    John Says:

    how is Marquis to get better if he keeps getting moved from the rotation to the pen to Richmond? I know I wouldnt be able to do well then either, never knowing if this start would be my head. He cant be as bad as he was last year, thats the only belief I have.

  3. 3
    Creg Says:

    John, you’re right, Marquis needs to work regularly to become a better pitcher. The problem is that he’s currently the fifth-best starter on the team. With the way the Braves use their rotation (especially early in the season), the fifth guy is often skipped.

    So either Marquis goes to Richmond where he’s guaranteed 25-30 starts or he stays in Atlanta, where he gets 18-24 starts and maybe works out of the pen once or twice a week. Personally, I think he’s better off at AAA (even though the pay’s not so great) where he’ll always know when he’s going to pitch. Whether the Braves can convince Marquis of this is another matter entirely.

  4. 4
    Matt Davis Says:

    Remember that Odalis Perez was relatively ineffective when used as the Braves’ 5th starter, to the point where they basically gave up on him.
    Now he would be a lock for a top 4 job on most teams…

  5. 5
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Matt’s too stingy with his praise there. Odalis would be the best starting pitcher on half the teams in baseball — possibly including the Braves.

    If Bobby would use his fifth starter in relief, that would be great. 150 innings divided between 20 starts and 20-30 relief appearances would almost be ideal for a young pitcher. But he doesn’t do that. And with seven relievers, even if he did, the fifth starter might not pitch at all in any given week in the bullpen.

  6. 6
    Robert Says:

    Blame Bobby all you want, but the fact is Marquis had a chance to grab the 4th spot in the rotation last season and missed it. Damien Moss just flat outpitched him and so Marquis lost his spot. That’s the way good teams work. If Marquis gets people out this year, Bobby will get him out there regularly. If he’s flakey like last year, look for Hodges, like Moss last year, to zoom right past him.

  7. 7
    Matt Davis Says:

    My point was that yooung pitchers require some patience. Look at Glavine’s early numbers. You can’t throw a guy out there for 15 starts and judge him immediately on that. Organizationally, it makes sense to rely on your coaches and scouts and either (a) go ahead and commit to a pitcher and try in earnest to develop him or (b) trade him for something you can and will use.

  8. 8
    mannie fresh Says:

    Three things: 1 – I agree with Mac that Bobby could have gotten Marquis some work last year whether he was the 4th or 5th starter. 2 – The Braves should be happy having a young league-average pitcher with upside as their 5th starter. Few teams are that lucky. 3 – By no objective measure has Hampton been a better pitcher than Marquis; I think it’s ridiculous that Hampton has more job security than Marquis.

  9. 9
    Louis Says:

    How is it ridiculous? Before going to COL, Hampton had a pretty long track record of being a good to very good pitcher. If you read the espn article up on hampton, John S. essentially says they ignored all colorado data when looking at Hampton. Marquis has one full season in the bigs and Mazzone and Co. aren’t exactly enamoured with him.

    If the Braves were smart, they’d move Chipper back to 3rd and swap Marquis in a package for another good hitting OF. The Millar thing still pisses me off that we could have had him for nothing, but when you’ve been banging your head against a wall even after your skull cracks, there’s no reason to expect it to stop.

  10. 10
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Louis, there’s nearly as much Colorado data (saying Hampton is hopeless) as there is data saying Hampton is a great pitcher. For the bulk of his career, he’s been average or slightly above. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it seems to me that the pre-1999 Hampton is as likely to appear as the one from 1999-2000. So what you have here is two starters who both look to be average, and Marquis is younger and has been with the organization.

  11. 11
    Creg Says:

    Three things in Hampton’s favor that cannot be ignored: 1. He’s left-handed. 2. He makes a hell of a lot more money than Marquis. 3. The Braves rebuilt their entire rotation after getting him.

    In essence, if Hampton fails, it will make the whole front office and coaching staff look stupid. If Marquis fails, well, them’s the breaks with young pitchers. I’m not saying it’s rational, but you know that’s what the Braves “braintrust” is thinking.

  12. 12
    Louis Says:

    No. I mean I agree with you guys. Give Marquis his 30 starts and leave him alone. But after reading this: (http://espn.go.com/mlb/columns/stark_jayson/1514066.html) I’m sure Marquis and Hampton are being viewed COMPLETELY differently.

  13. 13
    john Says:

    honestly cant say i care cause that still doestn affect Marquis getting 25-30 starts which was my inital bitching to start with. but now the Braves are talking about other options at 5th spot, meaning you got it Marquis wont be in the rotation.

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