Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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

27 Jul

Destroy all middle relievers

Baseball America – Richmond Braves Stats

It’s really not that hard to find people who can put up a sub-4 ERA pitching out of a major league bullpen. Unless you’re the 2003 Braves, that is. I’ve never seen anything this pathetic.

Look, there are a number of pitchers having decent years in Richmond. Why not give another shot to Joey Dawley, who has a 3.30 ERA and 17 saves, and has struck out 55 men in 43 2/3 innings? Or Jamie Emiliano, who has a 2.85 ERA? Or — heck — call up Jason Marquis again. He’s pitched well enough in Richmond. Buddy Hernandez, Andy Pratt… None of them’s having a great year, but they can’t be worse than Boom-Boom and the Rally Twins.

I understand that you don’t want to give up good prospects for the Dave Weatherses of the world, but you have internal options.

18 Responses to “Destroy all middle relievers”

  1. 1
    D Says:

    As an aside, does Yahoo have it wrong or is Blanco seriously leading off the top of the 9th? How can you NOT pinch-hit for him there?

  2. 2
    Matt Davis Says:

    Nope – Matt Franco.

  3. 3
    Matt Davis Says:

    I agree with you Mac. Been waiting for somebody to point out how many of the pitchers are replacement level or worse.

    Another thing – Johnny Estrada clearly does not belong in AAA. He’s not going to be an MLB All Star, but what else does a 27 year old catcher have to do to crack into the Show, at least as a backup on a team with Henry Blanco?

  4. 4
    snellville jones Says:

    I’ve seen the future and it includes several out-right releases.

  5. 5
    Matt Davis Says:

    Jesus. All 4 relievers who pitched today have lower ERAs than Maddux.

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. 6
    snellville jones Says:

    I miss Albie Lopez… He was better than the three-headed beast that lives in the bullpen now. At least with Albie we could stick him in a hole until we were losing by ten.

  7. 7
    D Says:

    I was looking at the Braves’ bullpen statistics on BP and it is ugly. Smoltz and Gryboski are the only relievers with positive ARP, and, surprisingly to me, going into today’s game (I think) Smoltz easily led Braves relievers in IP. That seems odd for a closer, but as crappy as the Braves’ pen is, it’s definitely a good thing.

  8. 8
    Colin Says:

    Seems like there was a time a few years ago when the Braves just overhauled their pen midseason, bringing up a few minor leaguers. I’d like to see something like that tried again (though Dawley was really hammered in his stints with Atlanta). I’m not sure whose mother Buddy Hernandez mugged. And I don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish these days with marquis, though he seems to be included in most trade rumors.

    Still, let’s not let Maddux off the hook on this one. He was staked to a couple of nice leads, and couldn’t just settle in at all.

    Colin

  9. 9
    Steffen Says:

    Argh. These guys piss me off so bad I can’t even put it in words. But again, some of the blame has to go to Bobby. What the f… is Hernandez doing out there in the 8th?Why in the world does he not only continue to let Gryboski pitch, but let him pitch with men on? I know his bullshit reasoning…groundball specialist, hopeful of turning two…but that doesn’t help if all of his groundballs are screamers up the middle. And as for Boom-Boom…I really don’t find the right words to describe my feelings for him. What’s the all-time high for HR allowed/IP? I bet he’s in great shape to shatter that record.
    And King…wasn’t he the guy that was supposed to be a great asset? The guy we gave up Wes Helms and a minor leaguer for? He needs a trip to the minors to work on the very basic things of pitching…like throwing strikes without having to throw it right down the middle.

  10. 10
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Yeah, in 1997 the Braves got rid of half of their then six-man pen, calling up three pitchers with no major league experience. Mike Cather was one, and pitched a lot down the stretch. Kerry Ligtenberg was another, and I think Chad Fox the third. (I didn’t start the Journal until the next year, so I’m not certain.)

    Here’s the Atlanta stats from that season. Notice that the Braves got rid of Joe Borowski — I’m not certain that he was one of the massacre victims, but he may have been — even though he had a 3.75 ERA. Better than any of the middle relievers on this team. What does that tell you?

    They weren’t nearly as bad as the current crop. How bad is it? I was thinking that if the Braves do make a move for a starter, it wouldn’t be so bad to move Reynolds into the pen, because at least he has occasional stretches of effectiveness.

  11. 11
    Colin Says:

    Steffen – in answer to all of your questions of “Why’d he pitch this guy”…Cox has to pitch the guys he has. And what he has right now is utter crap.

    Now, that said, Cox has to have some influence for getting new players in. Of course, he’s likely squandering some of that influence on making sure Jason marquis never pitches again for Atlanta, but that’s just my hunch.

    This weekend was brutal, and yet the Braves _gained_ a game on the Phillies. The upside is this – a bad bullpen weekend like this has to draw Schuerholz’s attention, which will increase the likelihood he makes a move. HOWEVER, it also increases the chance he’ll give up too much for too little. At this point I’ll take that. What the hell.

    If it’s any consolation, Mike Williams has already lost two games for the Phillies…

    And Mac – Borowski’s peripherals were pretty scary despite that 3.75 ERA – 27 hits and 16 walks in 24 innings, against only 6 K’s. But man, I wish we’d kept Ligtenberg. He wouldn’t have cost much more than Hernandez, and was a known, effective player.

  12. 12
    Steffen Says:

    Problem is, we’ve been saying this ‘this has to draw Schuerholz’s attention’ for quite some time now. And I’m pretty sure it has drawn his attention (how can it not). But I really don’t hear any interesting guys mentioned in trade talks.
    While you are right that most of the guys we have are pretty bad, another problem I see is that they aren’t used wisely. Because the worst relievers continue to get the biggest workload. Smoltz is obviously our best reliever. So what they should do is maximize his workload. He’s been a starter for the most part of his carrer, and I think that he can handle a higher workload than an average relief pitcher. He should be used in more pressure situations in the 8th inning, and not so much with 3-run leads in the 9th. Besides him, the guy I have most faith in right now is Holmes. And yet he doesn’t get nearly as much playing time as Gryboski. That has to change.
    Bobby starting to realize this problem, along with some new arms from the minors, could turn this into at least a decent pen, IMO.

  13. 13
    Colin Says:

    I agree that the workloads are sometimes baffling. Cox is using Smoltz a little more this year, and recently we saw him pitch in three consecutive games, one of those outings for 2 innings. But I think they could stand to use him more. Hell, I’d have thrown him out there for three innings today ;-)

    Still, it’s been hard to juggle the work for the others. The league has shown signs of catching up to Bong and Hodges lately> And when you combine starters throwing too few innings with certain relievers imploding, what you get is a complete lack of opportunity for Bobby to really control who pitches when. They’re all getting into too many games, and none in any defined role.

    Which is why today’s biggest problem was, IMO, Maddux. A staff ace should be a guy you can count on to pick up a few more innings in a game like today’s. I shouldn’t fault him too much for finally having a bad game after a good stretch of effectiveness, but given a few good leads, he should have been expected to hold the Expos better, instead of giving up 6 runs and leaving a third of the game to an overworked and crappy bullpen.

  14. 14
    Steffenq Says:

    Still, I feel more comfortable with Bong/Hodges than King/Gryboski. That’s why I didn’t understand why Bobby pulled Bong after just one batter faced. Having to use 4 pitchers in an inning is not an ideal situation.
    I agree with you on that the starters have not given them enough innings. Personally, I thought Maddux could have gone at least one more inning. He gave up that 2-run homer in the 6th, but before that had a pretty good stretch going. I would have let him pitch the 7th and turned it directly over to Smoltz.

  15. 15
    Robert Says:

    A staff ace should be a guy you can count on to pick up a few more innings in a game like today’s.

    Right. And if Russ Ortiz had been pitching today this would have been a win.

    Smoltz is obviously our best reliever. So what they should do is maximize his workload. He’s been a starter for the most part of his carrer, and I think that he can handle a higher workload than an average relief pitcher.

    This team has a 10 game lead and will be going to the playoffs. There is no reason to risk something happening to Smoltz by jacking up his workload to win some meaningless games in Montreal in July. Bobby has had it just about right this year. Against teams he considers threats like Philly and Florida, Bobby works Smoltz hard. Againts the Montreals and Pittsburghs of the world he gives the other guys a chance. Unfortunately the others guys generally suck.

  16. 16
    Steffen Says:

    ‘There is no reason to risk something happening to Smoltz by jacking up his workload to win some meaningless games in Montreal in July’

    But if they win those kind of games now they lock up the division earlier and then they’ll be able to rest Smoltz (and everyone else) in September when they might need it more badly and have them back stronger for the playoffs.

  17. 17
    Andrew Says:

    “I’ve never seen anything this pathetic.”

    Then you haven’t been looking hard enough. This is a bad bullpen, for sure, but I’ve seen worse.

    I live in Kansas City, and that 99-00 Royals bullpen was awful, it was just friggin awful. They were the first teams to ever blow more saves than they converted.

    Remember that 2001 offseason deal where they traded Johnny Damon for Robo, AJ Hinch, and Angel Berroa? Remember how everyone laughed? Well, they were ecstatic in Kansas City at the idea of picking up ROBERTO HERNANDEZ. Those bullpens were so bad that our own Boom-Boom was considered a massive upgrade.

  18. 18
    Creg Says:

    Don’t forget the 1997 Seattle Mariners, who traded Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb AND dealt Jose Cruz for Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric. At least the Braves have Smoltz, so something like that’s not likely to happen.

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