Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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

04 Mar

Mike Venafro

By rule, all Major League teams must have at least two lefthanded relievers. If they can’t find two lefthanded relievers, too bad, they have to find someone who throws lefthanded anyway. Okay, that’s not actually true, but it seems that way. That explains, for example, the Braves giving a major league contract to a guy who had a 4.62 ERA last year. Or why the Oakland A’s, who had a tremendous pitching staff, kept running out Venafro and various other lefties who were even worse.

The number of pitchers who really are worth keeping around just to get lefthanded hitters out is pretty low. Ray King might be one, but he might be able to do more. There are a few others. But generally, keeping a pitcher around to throw to two or three hitters is a waste of time and a roster spot.

Venafro? Well, he stunk it up last year to the tune of hitters teeing off for .308/.363/.473 against him. He managed to be almost decent against lefties (.270/.356/.381) but your average righthanded hitter destroyed him (.337/.368/.542). Even if you buy into the LOOGY myth, a guy whose entire reason for being is getting lefthanded hitters out and they still hit .270 with a .356 OBP off of him… Why would you want this?

Other reasons to question Scheurholz’s (or Wren’s, if it’s his doing) sanity… Venafro pitched 37 innings last year and only had 16 strikeouts. His ERA is deceptive — deceptively low because he allowed three unearned runs, as well as being bailed out by his bullpen mates. Add in the unearned runs and his “run average” is 5.35. And since he’s a bad defensive player (King and Hernandez are, too, odd for a team whose pitchers pride themselves on defense) there’s a good chance those unearned runs are wholly his fault. So you have a guy who pitched badly, doesn’t strike anyone out, has shaky control (14 walks) and you don’t normally use him for more than two or three batters. That’s a fine use of a roster spot… I’m not saying that you don’t bring Venafro in, but if he wouldn’t sign a minor league deal and try to work his way onto the roster, I don’t think he’s worth it.

Mike Venafro Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

10 Responses to “Mike Venafro”

  1. 1
    Chris G Says:

    To be fair, Venafro’s most comparable pitcher at age 26 was Pedro Martinez. See: http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/martipe03.shtml

  2. 2
    John Says:

    thats comparing Apples and Oranges.
    but i’ve always liked him and honestly if Chris Hammond can have a good year, why cant Venafro? I think he may be our best pickup this offseason. I think Venafro could be a key piece to the pen.

  3. 3
    Matt Davis Says:

    I think Bobby Dews will be the key piece to the bullpen. His most comparable player at age 26 was probably Cy Young.

  4. 4
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Yeah, but Hammond (and Holmes) had to pitch his way onto the team. Venafro got a major league contract, meaning that unless he’s the second coming of Matt Whiteside he’s on the team.

  5. 5
    Darren Says:

    Hey now, a career 5.10 ERA isn’t *THAT* bad. He *DID* strike out 254 men!!….

    in 9 years.

  6. 6
    Creg Says:

    Unlike Hammond and Holmes, Venafro’s not coming off a major injury. Giving major-league deals to guys who were major-league regulars the previous season is pretty much standard operating procedure. I don’t think Venafro will be the next Hammond or Mike Stanton, but he’ll probably improve slightly over last year. As such, he’s capable enough.

  7. 7
    Creg Says:

    In reference to the first post on this thread, Venafro’s Age 26 comp was Pedro Aquino Martinez, the run-of-the-mill lefty with the Padres in the mid 1990s, not The Pedro of Beantown fame (Pedro Jaime Martinez). Irony doesn’t usually come off well in cyberspace, Chris G.

  8. 8
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I don’t see that Venafro is any more deserving of a major league deal than Chris Haney, or 30 other guys you can pick up cheap.

  9. 9
    Matt Davis Says:

    And I still want to see what kind of fastball Dews has.

  10. 10
    john Says:

    what are the odds that Pedro A. Martinez joins the Braves bull pen by the end of the season? 7-1? I’ll take them odds.

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