Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

03 Feb

Mike Gonzalez

Mike Gonzalez Statistics –

The Closer™. If healthy, Gonzalez is, as I’ve said before, the best reliever in the National League, as he is basically unhittable. He has never been totally healthy, and last year returned from Tommy John surgery with control issues, leading less to walks (which weren’t any higher than they normally are) than to the dreaded “wild in the strike zone” syndrome. Gonzalez had allowed only nine homers entering play in 2008; in just 33 2/3 innings, he allowed six. It usually takes until the second season back to find your control after ligament replacement surgery. He was still awfully tough to hit, and at times looked dominant. But his ERA was above the league, and he was lucky it was as low as 4.28 — he allowed 21 runs, but five were scored “unearned”.

Normally, Gonzalez is death on lefthanders, but last year they slugged .815 against him and hit four of the six homers. One was to Carlos Delgado (the only player with two career homers off him) and one to Ryan Howard. Hey, that happens. But another was to Ryan Langerhans. I mean, come on.

Middle name is “Vela”, which is Spanish for “sailing”. This may be ominous for his slider, but at any rate I think he really needs a rooting section of people in sailor outfits… Gonzalez was slightly more likely to throw that slider last year than previous seasons, which may indicate that he wasn’t confident in his fastball’s velocity being all the way back. Or maybe it’s just chance. That happens.

ADDENDUM: Fantasy Baseball Blog at| 2009 Braves Fantasy Baseball Preview

152 Responses to “Mike Gonzalez”

  1. 1
    hankonly Says:

    If confidence is the key, he and we should be in good shape.

    Can we steal the bell from “Hell’s Belles” from Hoffman when Gonzo enters?

  2. 2
    kc Says:

    Gonzo is awesome. If I am Wren, I will give Gonzo the same two-year deal he handed to Sori last year.

  3. 3
    Smitty Says:

    A left handed guy with a crazy delivery and nasty stuff. Guy like him don’t come around everyday.

  4. 4
    Dix Says:

    Maybe I’m just overly skeptical about the Braves but I have a strong belief that we won’t be locking up Gonzo.

  5. 5
    Craig Says:

    Looking forward to watching a healthy Gonzalez this season.

  6. 6
    Jay Says:

    Here’s hoping that Gonzo has plenty of leads to lock down this summer.

  7. 7
    rehabreject Says:

    not sailing.

    vela has several meanings..

    1. (noun) sail, as in “the sail on a sailboat”
    2. (noun) candle
    3. (noun) wake. example: Nosotros fuimos a la vela = We went to the wake
    4. (verb) watches. example: El vela la gente = He watches the people

    and now for some more insignificant spanish tidbits:

    – Yunel is not a real name. Well it is but c’mon, it’s like Shaquanda or Shakeesha.
    – I cringe everytime Matt DYE-az comes to bat
    – Francoeur sucks in any language. I’m still waiting on Dayton Moore to offer a box of baseballs for him

  8. 8
    Mac Thomason Says:

    If the Braves aren’t in it down the stretch, they’ll surely trade him to a contender.

  9. 9
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I will take your word for it — I was notoriously bad at Spanish. Babelfish suggests “to guard” for “velar”, Google Translate “to ensure”. So “vela” (velo, velas, vela, right?) could mean “[he] ensures”, which is a good thing for a closer.

  10. 10
    Dix Says:

    “Sha” is a Cajun term of endearment like honey or dear. I think it’s slang.

    That’s why you see a lot of Sha-names

  11. 11
    Ethan Says:

    Would it be completely dumb to offer him 2 MM and put him in left?

  12. 12
    Dutch Says:

    Griffey seems completely done.

  13. 13
    Smitty Says:

    According to the White Sox have offered Abreu 1/$8 mill. and that if he signs, either Dye or Thome would be probably be delt. This could work out for us if we could get Dye.

  14. 14
    Stu Says:

    Abreu at $9 million would be better for us than Dye at $11.5 million + losing prospects.

  15. 15
    Smitty Says:

    He would give us a right handed bat. I guess it depends on the prospects we would lose.

  16. 16
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I’m on record as being against reacquisitions, and Abreu has been the better player, and might still be… but given the Braves’ driving need for righthanded power, Dye is a better fit. It would depend on the prospects and on how much of Dye’s salary the Chisox pick up.

  17. 17
    csg Says:

    we dont have $11 mil to spend. The White Sox wont be eating any of his salary unless we really overpay with prospects. Swisher or Nady are becoming more and more realistic. Id rather just get Dunn or Abreu and not trade anyone, but I think Swisher is our top target at the moment

  18. 18
    Dix Says:

    Jermaine Dye seems like less of a reacquisition in this case because he does actually fit the criteria that we need. Right handed power-hitting outfielder with a decent, short contract. I’m loathe to give up any prospects that are even potentially remotely useful though. Unless or until there is no possible way to fill the hole via free agency. If we can absorb most of Dye’s salary, couldn’t we offer Abreu a $14mil for 2 year deal?

  19. 19
    csg Says:

    I thought we had $7-9 mil left and are wanting Glavine, Ohman, and an OF’r. Things arent adding up

  20. 20
    spike (back in the ATL) Says:

    “Sha” is a Cajun term of endearment like honey or dear. I think it’s slang.

    That’s why you see a lot of Sha-names

    Most of the kids at my daughters school who have a Sha-names don’t appear to be Cajun, Dix.

    Just sayin’

  21. 21
    spike (back in the ATL) Says:

    Gonzales should totally use Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” showdown music, gunshots and all.

  22. 22
    Smitty Says:

    I think if we get Dye we have a better chance to be a contender than we do if we get Swisher. Maybe the Sox will give him up cheap.

  23. 23
    Smitty Says:

    I also think when Manny signs, all the pieces will fall for everyone.

  24. 24
    CharlesP Says:

    I’m with Spike, I’d like the GB&U song for Gonzo. Gonzo is one of the guys I enjoy watching… I love that rocking thing and how he generally just looks pissed off at the batter.

  25. 25
    jjschiller Says:

    I prefer Abreu because hes an FA. Then I prefer Dye as far as his ability. But considering cost (in cash and prospects) I want a deal worked out for Swisher.

    It is worth noting, that if the Chisox swipe Abreu, and put Dye on the market, this would likely have an effect on how much Swisher or even Nady would COST us…

  26. 26
    Tennessee Brave Says:

    Spike @ 20…

    Funny stuff, man.

  27. 27
    Dix Says:

    What do they appear to be then? Just because the families aren’t Cajun doesn’t mean the name is made up. I was just saying that there is a cultural foundation for those Sha names.

    @26, if there was a joke in 20 I failed to see it.

  28. 28
    mraver Says:

    Dye is almost definitely the better player at this point, both offensively and defensively. He costs more, but I imagine if he were to be traded, the cost in prospects wouldn’t be that high. We might could throw in a starter (JoJo?) and a low-minors arm and see if the ChiSox would eat a bit of his salary (maybe half of the $5M they’d save by going from Dye’s deal to Abreu’s).

    Could work. And the offense would look a helluva lot better with Dye locked into a corner, leaving Diaz as Frenchy insurance.

  29. 29
    Cliff Says:


    You do realize that comes from great grandpa coming from Spain to Central Florida 100 or years ago and no other Spanish language influence, don’t you?

    Basically rural southern areas don’t do well with non -English pronunciations (nor English and Gaelic, actually). And, I can say that cause I am from there.

  30. 30
    hankonly Says:

    I prefer to think of Frenchy as Diaz insurance.

    Which brings up a good point: we simply can’t go into the season hoping Francouer turns it around. We’ve got to have an answer if he continues like last year.

    And we’ve got to fix it quick or we’ll be ten games behind two very good teams.

  31. 31
    CharlesP Says:

    What, are the Rays joining our division now hankonly?

    (sorry, couldn’t resist a dig at the Mets).

  32. 32
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Speaking of the Mets… Hee. Hee. Hee.

  33. 33
    smitty Says:

    Silly Mets.

  34. 34
    Adam M Says:

    On the AL-NL thing, the best way to decide which league is better is to look at interleague play records, not WS or AS game records. Does anybody have those for the past five years?

    On Manny: the Dodgers might sign Dunn, and if they do, I have no idea where he will end up. Giants? Red Sox?

  35. 35
    Adam M Says:

    Here’s something else. In the espn article on Manny, Buster Olney ends with this line:

    “If the Dodgers sign Hudson and Dunn, there would be no such questions about effort.”

    How much does Olney hate Manny Ramirez? Seriously. His bad writing and transparent bias have annoyed me for years, but this one takes the cake. Around the league execs and writers–many of whom think like Olney, incidentally-deride Dunn for showing little or no effort. Personally, I suspect it’s all bogus, but it’s funny to see someone like Olney prop up Dunn if only to hammer Ramirez.

  36. 36
    Dix Says:


  37. 37
    smitty Says:

    Let’s write Liberty Media and beg them to take Manny.

  38. 38
    hankonly Says:

    Manny to Baltimore? They seemed to be willing to throw some money around …

    Noticed Dye hit .296 and something like 34 HRs. Yes, please.

  39. 39
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Wigginton to the O’s for 2 years, $6 million. That’s a good price for him.

  40. 40
    Jason Says:

    This is when it really sux not having Ted writing the checks anymore. He’d probably cut Manny a check out of his personal account.

    Boy, would Manny look good batting cleanup for us.

  41. 41
    jjschiller Says:

    As far as inter-league play is concerned:

    I don’t feel those match-up records are even a fair comparison. When NL teams play in AL parks, the AL uses their regular DH. The NL team throws a fourth-outfielder out there, or a backup first baseman.

    Conversely, when an AL team plays in an NL park, they lose that DH… but they still, conceivably, have power hitters playing all of the power positions, just like the NL team they are playing against.

    So I feel AL teams have an advantage in HALF of inter-league games. I feel the field is only even when the game is played in an NL park.

    The Braves play in Fenway, we add Greg friggin Norton, they get to use David Ortiz. The Red Sox play at Turner Field, they lose Ortiz, but Lowell and Youkilis are still in the lineup.

    If the Red Sox choose to play both of those guys and leave Ortiz on the bench, then we can presume that that is the way they would construct their roster if there were no DH. They would choose Youk as a 1b instead of Ortiz.

    Maybe, maybe not. But any argument is purely conjecture.

  42. 42
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    Mac–I am generally against reacquisitions as well, but Dye did not spend much time in Atlants (unfortunately) and he played for the Braves many years ago. I don’t think that it is the same thing as bringing back Brian Jordan or Glavine or, for that matter, Andruw.

    At this point, I would be happy to learn that either Dye or Abreau were headed our way….

  43. 43
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I have a Braves preview up at Razzball.

  44. 44
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Great answers, Mac — though there were a few, er, questionable questions.

    Do you think Gonzalez is still the best reliever in the league, with the additions of K-Rod and Putz to the Mets bullpen?

  45. 45
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Yes. Rodriguez is good, but he’s not as unhittable as Gonzalez is at his best.

  46. 46
    CharlesP Says:

    Glass Chipper… ouch.

  47. 47
    CharlesP Says:

    and Soriano was pretty bad-ass for a while too. If he and gonzo are healthy and in their right heads… it’s almost a 7 inning game. And if Moylan can repeat his 07 we’re down to 6 innings.

    Somebody slap me quick, I’m almost feeling optimistic!

  48. 48
    ububba Says:

    All too true about Francoeur there, Mac.

    Re: Manny’s Effort
    It can suck & it’s unpredictable. Those are facts, and I’m fine with a writer pointing ’em out.

    Rickey Henderson used to make people crazy with his selective effort; writers & announcers mentioned it out all the time. But the reason those guys get away with dogging it sometimes is because they’re so great.

    Doesn’t mean you have to like them or root for them. Fans hate that kind of behavior & they’re not wrong for getting upset about it.

    Players are not APBA cards. You watch them & grow attached or detached, depending on their play, their manner, their efforts, their level of entitlement or selflessness.

    The biggest knock on Dunn, for example, has been his interest in the sport, not how much or how often he shows up for work. You can’t really compare him to Manny there because Manny’s in another universe in that department.

    As far as I know, he’s never begged out of a series with the Yankees because of a mystery ailment or deliberately taken 3 strikes down the middle from Mariano Rivera in a big game (I saw it & he did that) just to show how angry he was with management.

    (Then there’s the matter of assaulting an AARP member, but that’s another topic.)

    The criticisms of Manny are legit. As it was with the Red Sox, it’s a matter of “how much will your team put up with?”

    Now matter how great a hitter he is—and he’s one of the greatest in modern baseball history—you cannot apologize for many of Manny’s actions. They suck. They are disgraceful. And teams should always keep them in mind, even if they’re willing to pay for them.

  49. 49
    Jason Says:

    $25 million. To play baseball for the next 7-8 months. That’s over $3 million a month. And he turned it down.

    I support Manny and his desire to maximize his extremely rare talents, but good lord, I wish I had that kind of financial flexibility.

  50. 50
    Cliff Says:

    This ask BA with Jim Callis describes our next wave of catching talent (3 guys toward the end of the article).

  51. 51
    Jay Says:

    It’s also hard to believe that another team will step in and up that offer. Maybe someone offers more years, but if you’re a free agent now don’t you want to get back on the market when times are better? It’ll continue to be interesting to watch this shake out.

  52. 52
    Cliff Says:

    What are the “permitted incentives” under the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement? I know most performance items are out and that games and innings and Plate Apearances are o.k.

    Just wondering how that could play with a Manny.

  53. 53
    Dix Says:

    I hope for my wife’s sake that Manny gets drunk and kills me with his car.

  54. 54
    Jason Says:

    Dix, I hope for your wife’s sake that Manny really has the financial flexibility to walk away from $25 million.

  55. 55
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I’m just guessing Stu liked the Callis column because of the following line:

    Bumgarner has the potential to be a No. 1 starter. Price’s career still has to unfold, but reaching the Hall of Fame seems like a reasonable goal.

  56. 56
    Dix Says:

    Its a bit early to be predicting the quality of David Price’s broadcast career no?

  57. 57
    smitty Says:

    LOL Dix!

    HOF a REASONABLE goal? Wow!

  58. 58
    CharlesP Says:

    On the one hand I want to say I understand a guy being impressed with somebody… on the other hand I want to hit him with a hammer for such a ridiculous statement.

  59. 59
    Adam M Says:

    @48 I’m not following: are you suggesting I apologized for Manny Ramirez? Because I didn’t, and I wouldn’t. I am not a big fan. You’re looking for an argument, I guess, because you’ll find none here. Rather, I found it interesting that Olney is so critical of Ramirez that he’s willing to compare Dunn favorably to him, which is somewhat heretical amongst the lazy writers he calls peers. It was an amusing line; that’s it.

    As for Wigginton, hell yeah that’s a good price. In fact that’s a great signing, and I’d say McPhail is doing a solid job in Baltimore so far. Remind me what the Braves paid for their backup catcher?

  60. 60
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I’m pretty sure Callis was being, you know, at least slightly tongue in cheek.

  61. 61
    ububba Says:

    Then you & I are reading the same short Olney piece rather differently.

    I’m sticking up for Olney, a writer you called biased. I assure you that he’s not.

  62. 62
    smitty Says:

    I think Olney is fair, at least what I have read from him.

  63. 63
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Apparently the Minnesota Twins are considering trading Delmon Young for Jarrod Washburn (and Jeff Clement).

    Anyone here want to take a stab at explaining that one? I know I have a lot of intellectual shortcomings, but gee whiz, trading Delmon Young for the privilege to pay $10 million to the shriveled husk of Jarrod Washburn just seems like a bad idea.

  64. 64
    Mac Thomason Says:

    There is a certain element of every fanbase that thinks that everyone who isn’t slavishly devoted to their team hates them.

    As for Young, he has a positive gift for alienating people. He makes Milton Bradley look like Oprah.

  65. 65
    csg Says:

    trading anyone (insert Frenchy comment) for Washburn @ $10m is a bad idea

  66. 66
    csg Says:

    “As for Young, he has a positive gift for alienating people. He makes Milton Bradley look like Oprah.”


  67. 67
    PWHjort Says:

    Am I the only person that thinks Mike Gonzalez isn’t very good? He throws 2 pitches, a fastball and a slurve (some people call it a slider, it’s a slurve). His fastball is flat and he has control issues with it. His slurve either sits high in the zone on a tee for hitters to hit out of the park or dives out of the zone for a ball and often a wild pitch. He doesn’t have an idea of how to pitch, he’s a thrower, not a pitcher. A flat fastball and a slurve are not enough to get you through the majors if you can’t locate them, no matter how hard you throw. He has neither the stuff, command, or wits to be a successful closer in the bigs. Prediction: Gonzalez spends the first month in the closer role, gets demoted to becoming a LOOGY, Soriano spends a month in the closer role then his elbow falls off, then Jeff Bennett becomes the team’s closer and pitches lights out for the rest of the season as one of the NL’s top closers. He’ll eventually transition to a starting role where he’ll also be met with success.

  68. 68
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I should point out that Young’s brother was traded, at the age of 23 (after being the fourth pick in the draft) for 33-year-old Jeff Brantley, who was being paid $2.8 million (a lot of money for a reliever at the time) and had been limited to 13 appearances the previous season. Let’s face it, the Youngs are not easy to get along with.

  69. 69
    braves14 Says:

    lol Jeff Brantley

  70. 70
    Dave Says:

    Jeff Clement may end up being a better hitter than Delmon Young, at a tougher position. Not a bad move if the Twins can do it, even if it means swallowing Washburn’s $$. Mauer can DH and Clement takes over at C…

  71. 71
    kc Says:

    My goodness…$17M for Bud doing nothing?! There has to be a better way to spend $17M…

  72. 72
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    The Youngs aren’t easy to get along with, but even if Delmon hits like Meathook, he’ll be worth more than Washburn, and Clement’s a 25 year old catcher who looks like a good prospect but who utterly stank last year. (.227/.295/.360 in 203 AB; at least they had the good sense not to hand him 500 more plate appearances, as they might have done if he were playing right field for the Braves.)

    I mean, I’m sure Delmon’s not a great guy — he threw a bat at an umpire, for God’s sake — but if the Twins had to give up Garza to get him, couldn’t they do a little better in selling him off?

    Hell, if all he costs is a crappy overpaid pitcher and a grade B prospect, we should go grab him.

  73. 73
    kc Says:

    Well, I thought we should have grabbed Rich Hill. So who knows what’s our GM thinking…

  74. 74
    mraver Says:

    Anyone else watch the UF/South Carolina basketball game? Friggin awesome. Up and down the court the whole time, both teams pressing, TONS of scoring…. If the officials hadn’t been awful (they blew 4(!) goal tends, three on should-have-beens and one that shouldn’t have been, and I won’t even get into the fouls), it would’ve been perfect. As-is, it damn near was. The Gators and Cocks traded runs of 4-5 points with the lead switching constantly for about the first 30 minutes before the Gators built a 10-ish point lead with 2 to go.

    Then comes Devin Downey. With the Gators comfortably ahead inside 2 minutes, this kid single-handedly makes a game out of it. You remember that Tracy McGrady thing where he scored 14 points in like 20 seconds of game clock? Well, it was sorta like that. UF would inbound, get fouled, shoot free throws, and when the ball came off the rim or got inbounded, Downey would fly down the court and drop in an uncontested layup or, if he cared to, put up a three from a yard behind the line and a hand in his face and just NAIL it. They had the lead down to 2 points on one juncture, but UF hit their final 4 free throws, which sealed it after Downey finally missed one.

    What a game. Downey’s play was epic. Catch the highlights on Sports Center if you can.

  75. 75
    Tennessee Brave Says:


    If you don’t see what was funny about #20, then there is no amount of explaining that would make it funny to you. I guess you’ll just have to keep wondering. Sorry.

  76. 76
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    Cliff–Thanks for the post on catching prospects. Its nice that we have 3 well-regarded prospects–especially given that Daniel Elorriaga-Matra was not even mentioned….

  77. 77
    Weldon Says:

    mraver – I bet that game was great if you were anybody but a Carolina fan. We were something like 8-20 from the charity stripe. You can’t beat good teams like Florida when that’s all the hell you can do.

    There’s lots to be happy about. It’s great that we were even in the game and it was an exciting game…but I just hate to give away important games like this one.

  78. 78
    sansho1 Says:

    Dix, I think you may have meant Creole, which in Louisiana encompasses more racial categories than Cajun generally has.

  79. 79
    Perimeter Perez Says:

    Forgive me if I’m reading too much into the above comments, but I think we do actually need an explicit explanation of the jokes Tennessee Brave and Spike are sharing.

    It seems to me that a poster, rehabreject, made a somewhat myopic comment about certain names being “made up”. He didn’t take into account that most names (John, Gary, Rick, Wanda, etc.) have no meaning, per se, and are just monikers to make discussing people easier. There may be initial reasons the people who first used them chose them, but they’ve been lost over time (Don’t cite following the Bible. I mean the true originator of a name). We’ve grown accustomed to certain names and, therefore, more accepting of hearing them. A new name (which is really just a collection of letters unless it’s taken from something else) falls outside this framework; it can sound “made up” to someone.

    Dix tried to explain, through a cultural lens, why a series of people might choose a name for a child that begins with “sha”. He didn’t say that everyone who names their child Shaqwanda or Shadoora is Creole, Cajun, or whatever arbitrary classification you want to put on an ethnic group. He gave a possible explanation for “sha” entering our culture as a term of endearment and finding its way to objects of endearment, children included.

    What I don’t understand, though, is why someone’s race has anything to do with their access to other cultures and traditions. Spike seems to me to be implying that because the majority of people with “sha” names are black, Dix’s explanation could not be correct. This implies that he sees black and Cajun culture as completely separate entities that have no contact or influence on the other. I hope that everyone realizes how ludicrous a statement that is, and what a small, racist worldview it represents. The refusal of Tennessee Brave to articulate what he finds amusing about it also seems to imply that his joke was racist, as articulating racist views is not something one often does in polite society.

    So please, explain what you actually meant, because you both are damning yourselves by refusing to do otherwise. Frankly, I’m disgusted.

  80. 80
    ububba Says:

    There was nothing mean-spirited in Spike’s comments or anyone else’s.

  81. 81
    urlhix Says:

    I’ll give it 2/10 considering your handle.

  82. 82
    spike (back in the ATL) Says:

    Let’s just put this whole sad episode behind us shall we? For the kids’ sake?

  83. 83
    CJ Says:

    It’s National Signing Day, and my birthday.

  84. 84
    JoeyT Says:

    If Abreu goes for 1/8, and the Braves didn’t offer more, I’ll cry.

    I can’t imagine the club loses money off of him even at 3/25.

    This offseason is crazy. Teams must be expecting a severe drop in revenue over the next five years to not be offering longer contracts for more money.

  85. 85
    Jason J Says:


    Once factoring both offense and defense, Abreu was worth 1.3 wins in 2008. Gregor Blanco was also worth 1.3 wins. Abreu’s defense was rated at a staggering -25 runs. Admittedly, Blanco did primarily play a more difficult position, so in the end, Abreu was probably worth about half a win more … but signing Abreu for anything more than 1/5MM is asking for trouble.

  86. 86
    spike (back in the ATL) Says:

    Nobody is -25. The guy who invented UZR will tell you that. It’s very important to remember defensive stats, although useful, are not completely mature yet.

  87. 87
    sansho1 Says:

    I’m becoming convinced that the stat wonks are still careening between not taking defense sufficiently into account and overstating its importance. They’ve found some metrics they like, and are overly enamored for the time being. And it’s the bad fortune of Abreu and Dunn that most MLB front offices have incorporated advanced analysis at the precise moment when the perceived value of poor-fielding corner OFs is at its lowest. For instance, I’m not sure anybody could convince me that Abreu and Blanco were remotely equivalent ballplayers last year.

  88. 88
    mraver Says:


    I’ll agree with that. SC couldn’t hit a free throw the entire game, and that was a big reason UF won. But Downey’s play at the end was amazing to watch. Those two threes he hit…. Ridiculous. The kid was fearless the whole time.

    Anyhow, UF lost at SC for want of a couple freethrows, and something close to that happened in Gainesville. I’m thinking South Carolina goes to the tournament and shocks someone based on Downey’s play alone.

  89. 89
    mraver Says:

    Well, it’s not just the defensive stuff. Dunn would be a great addition to any team in need of a DH (and if you read some of the recent stuff on BP, there are a TON of AL teams in that category). Dunn and Abreu also entered a market that’s somewhat depressed because of the economy and REALLY depressed because there were like 6 players on the market that all had the same basic (and very limited) skill set. There just aren’t all that many teams that need a plodding LF, but there sure were a lot of plodding LFs to be had.

  90. 90
    Tennessee Brave Says:

    Perez, per your request, you are forgiven for reading too much into the above comments.

  91. 91
    Dix Says:

    …and after stirring for 2 minutes place the pot in the refrigerator and let chill…

  92. 92
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Happy Birthday, C.J.!
    Hope your teams signs all the right players!

  93. 93
    Stu Says:

    I thought going into the season that Downey would be the best player in the conference, and I think he is.

  94. 94
    Adam M Says:

    “Teams must be expecting a severe drop in revenue over the next five years to not be offering longer contracts for more money.”

    Except for one big-market, northeastern team who shall remain nameless.

  95. 95
    Parish Says:

    This has probably been posted, but from the B-Pro chat yesterday:

    Q): Kelly Johnson — much upside in 09?

    Joe Sheehan: Yeah, had I included another name on the breakout list (of 3 players), it would have been his. Nice little player who could add some power and be a midballot MVP guy.

    The Braves are better than anyone realizes.

  96. 96
    JC Says:

    I’m becoming convinced that the stat wonks are still careening between not taking defense sufficiently into account and overstating its importance. They’ve found some metrics they like, and are overly enamored for the time being.

    I agree.

  97. 97
    sansho1 Says:

    Ah, sweet validation!

  98. 98
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Great slides from your Penn State talk on your site.
    I’d like to know where you got the number of a player’s peak age at about 29 years. Bill James wrote an essay in the 80’s disputing this, spotting it at 27. Has the number gone up in the 20 years since Bill’s essay?
    Also, I learned from one of your essays how valuable an asset MLB players are. See JC’s article on why Jeffy is worth $4 million to the Braves, if you can keep your lunch down.

  99. 99
    Mac Thomason Says:

    James said recently that he thinks that the peak has moved older in the last few years — maybe 28.

  100. 100
    Smitty Says:

    Good class for my Vols so far.

  101. 101
    JC Says:

    My aging study will be published in Journal of Sports Sciences some time in the future. I’m not sure what the publishing lag is. You can see an older version here. The differences in age don’t have to do with a change in aging over time. In fact, one of the interesting things I find is that peak age hasn’t changed much at all over the century in baseball, which is consistent with studies of other sports. It seems that we’re all getting wealthier and healthier together.

    Also, exactly when a peak occurs isn’t all that important. Player aging curves look more like Stone Mountain than the Matterhorn. I tend to think of peaks occurring in the late-20s/early-30s range, and expect low-20s to get better and mid-30s to get worse.

  102. 102
    Jason Says:

    As a member of the mid-30s cohort, I can attest that decline does indeed occur here. And I’m not just talkin’ baseball.

    /time for my nap

  103. 103
    Cliff Says:

    Kevin Lee at 97,

    Somewhere I read that the players who played in the 1930’s showed a lower peak age than the decades before or since. When James did his first serious stuff on this basicaly he had the 20’s (before then can only be compared to itself) 30’s 40’s and 50’s. IF you took out the 30’s like they didn’t happen, then the stuff fit closer to 28/ 29.

    Also, touting JC, he did some great work on his blog about 3 years ago on aging curves. One thing was that if you grouped players by performance (at least hitters were this way) then the worst players peaked around 25, the pretty good peaked around 28 and the superstars peaked aorund 29 or 30.

    The first group is like Ryan Langerhans. Once the league catches up to them, their minimal value is gone. The last group is composed of the Chippers and the Ripkens and Aarons.

  104. 104
    Cliff Says:


    Also based on your studies, I think you (I don’t know the statistics well enough to do this) could take a players stats at an age and give a confidence projected next season. Like a “27 year old’s OPS + will increase by 2% or more 70% of the time, a 33 year old’s OPS + will decline by 2% or more 70% of the time.”

    then, that kind of number would put a lot better quantifier on how likely a free agent can repeat or exceed recent stats.

  105. 105
    Jason J Says:


    I’ll admit that Abreu’s defense is probably not THAT bad, nor is Dunn’s worth -22. My conservative guess would place Abreu at -15 runs, bringing him to +2.3 runs. Which would have valued his 2008 at roughly $10MM.

    However, when you entertain the possibility that his defense IS that bad, plus the inevitable decline likely to be sustained by a 35-year-old corner outfielder, giving him a multi-year deal would be a very bad idea. To be fair, if we have Blanco or Anderson in center, Abreu’s defensive shortcomings would be somewhat masked, so a one-year deal at $7mm probably wouldn’t be a terrible idea — just not a very good one.

  106. 106
    JC Says:


    Thanks, but I don’t know if I buy the notion that good and bad player age differently. I think differences have more to do with bias that results from injury, playing time, and players just leaving the game when they realize they aren’t that good. We really only get to see the best players age, because they’re the only ones that get to stay around and play regularly. And I think that humans age similarly with time.

    As for the confidence interval approach, I could do that. But, that’s a lot of work for something that has a high variance. I just say, look at what the guy did last year and go with that. If he’s younger than 27 he’ll probably get a bit better, if he’s older than 32 he’ll probably do a bit worse. If his previous year is out of line with previous performance, than you can bump your prediction a bit in the appropriate direction.

    Projection systems are actually more of a trick than anything. No matter how much you put into them, you can normally eyeball an expectation that will take far less effort and be pretty darn close.

  107. 107
    ububba Says:

    The story on Abreu’s RF adventures is very simple:

    If there’s a ball hit over his head and in play (or a ball that he thinks is hit well over his head & in play), he craps his pants, loses all sense of direction and avoids the wall like it’s a nuclear fallout zone.

    The ball will land (for a double or a triple) in a manner that has every fan in the stadium or watching on TV convinced that any major leaguer should’ve caught it. Or at least offered a professional effort in attempting to catch it. A collective groan is heard throughout the stadium, peppered with expletives.

    If the episode costs his team any significant runs, after the game the manager makes all kinds of excuses (“that play was a lot tougher than it looked”) & explains how Abreu is working on it and he’s really getting better. Radio talk show hosts will spend half a day discussing it.

    Abreu will refuse to discuss or admit he has an extreme & troublesome aversion to the wall.

    Expect the episode to repeat every 10 days or so.

  108. 108
    Kevin Lee Says:

    JC,Cliff, and Mac
    I’ve enjoyed this brief discussion of age of a ballplayer. I think the abstract of JC’s paper says most of what I thought I knew.
    I wonder what it’s like for a pitcher to hit age 26-27 with a spotty major league record, but long minor league experience. Although age may not be a paticularly important number for a GM evaluating that pitcher, I think the GM that can mine that age cohort for gold will die rich and famous.

  109. 109
    spike (back in the ATL) Says:

    well, that’s only 16 – 18 times a year. Unpleasant but livable (barely) if he hits 300/370/470 120OPS+

  110. 110
    JC Says:

    I think the GM that can mine that age cohort for gold will die rich and famous

    I agree. Just look at Matt Diaz. The Royals gave up on him just when he became useful. Dan Uggla is another example.

  111. 111
    spike (back in the ATL) Says:

    Maybe Andy Marte?

  112. 112
    Cliff Says:

    JC, at 105,

    Did I remember correctly that you did see something about differences in “player tiers”.

    I didn’t mean to say they aged differently. In fact, it partly proves itself. Players that don’t get better, don’t stick around. I guess maybe Johnny Bench, Eddie Matthews, and Stan Musial are a very few who were great, but had their best years before 25 (maybe Al Kaline).

    Players that aren’t good enough to stand the test are going to be weeded out. That would easily explain the lower tier.

    Exceptional players are judged exceptional with hindsight. Therefore, at least part of what made them excellent would show up this way (less injury / health toll, continuing to refine and add skills).

    Even to the extent there are tiers in the aging stats related to “player quality” I don’t see how that can be used in a projection system.

  113. 113
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Rather, since players start to decline after they reach their peak (27, 28, 29, whenever), the worse a player is the more quickly they reach replacement level. A great player will be useful until he’s 40, but an ordinary player will wash out sooner. A borderline player will be out as soon as his skills decline at all.

    There are variations, of course. A specialist who is good at one thing may last until that one skill falls down to an average level, even if he’s useless at everything else. A better player with broad-based skills might see all of those fall below replacement at the same time.

  114. 114
    Ethan Says:

    What about this guy?

    Can anyone be this good?

    Everybody loves a comeback story

  115. 115
    hankonly Says:

    The utility of this age discussion is, of course, in helping FO decide whether (and how much) to offer or trade for older players.

    But because the sample size is in reality so small (i.e., one) the seasoned eyeball approach makes the most sense to me.

    I mean, I can look at Abreu last year and know I don’t want him in my outfield next year.

    With Francouer, there’s at least hope.

    Which brings up a question: why would the White Sox even be tempted to replace Jermaine Dye with Bobby Abreu?

  116. 116
    Stu Says:

    Because he’s cheaper and they can theoretically get some other valuable pieces/prospects for Dye.

  117. 117
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Alabama commitment apparently signs Braves contract by accident. I mean, look at the hat.

  118. 118
    Cliff Says:

    hankonly @ 114,

    My guess is that the Sox are extremely scared that Dye will go down with another injury. Abreu has been healthy.

    They also may be looking to add lefthanded punch.

    They also like base stealing and although Abreu is not great, he is far better at that right now than Dye.

    What I can’t understand is why the Sox would think anybody would give talent and take a 12.5 million commitment to Dye instead of just paying Abreu (or someone) 8?

    We really should have pushed harder on the Sox in the Vazquez deal to get Dye. He really is the best fit (for the Braves) player left (for this year), but I would rather have Swisher unless the Sox take nothing in return and pay some salary.

  119. 119
    sansho1 Says:


    Fun with quotes out of context!

    His wife, one of the first to notice his diminishing interest in his job last year, now sees “a little bit of that swagger back in my step,” he says.

    Aside from the obvious double entendre, this is a truly odd quote. His wife is not given a name anywhere in the article, nor is she allowed to provide the quote herself. In keeping with the “overcoming impotence” theme, perhaps she was just too exhausted….

  120. 120
    CharlesP Says:

    promising quote:
    “He readily admits that he did not know the strike zone in his first couple seasons and instead got by “on raw talent.” He shortened his stance and his stride while focusing on bringing his hands all the way back in an effort to improve his balance.”

    At least he ADMITS he didn’t know the strike zone… let’s hope he learned it this off season.

  121. 121
    Parish Says:

    119- Half of solving the problem is admitting there is a problem.

  122. 122
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Plenty of players try to get by on raw talent. This is what Corky Miller did last year. The problem is when those players are handed contracts for actual money.

  123. 123
    kc Says:

    That’s funny AAR. Corky and raw talent!!!

  124. 124
    Mac Thomason Says:

    More unripened talent.

  125. 125
    kc Says:

    Huddy’s prospect retro by Sickels:

  126. 126
    Ethan Says:

    My tigers on the road at Texas tonight on ESPN2. Shot to show something. We suck on the road though, and Mizzou fans have had the hope beaten out of them too many times.

    We’ll see.

  127. 127
    Dan Says:

    “I always have so much fun when I play and last year that got robbed from me,” Francoeur says. “The last 30, 40 games I had the attitude like, ‘Screw it, I want this to be over.’ The only way to really do that was to have the season end and just be done with it.”

  128. 128
    kc Says:

    Dan, after I read that, I was thinking, “Screw you Frenchy.”

  129. 129
    Dan Says:

    If the Braves aren’t in it down the stretch, they’ll surely trade him to a contender.

    People said that about Ohman too. Maybe the Braves would rather have the type-A pick. Sometimes no one offers anything good.

    Or maybe they’ll even extend him. Who knows at this point?

  130. 130
    kc Says:

    Wouldn’t Gonzo be more trade valauble in trade if he has a contract beyond 2009? At least that’s what logic tells me…

  131. 131
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Matt Murton traded for a minor leaguer of little consequence. He’s still better than what we have in the outfield corner.

  132. 132
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    Dan–Thanks for the link to the Frenchy story. It didn’t bother me as much when Frenchy acted like a baby when he was sent down last summer–but this ‘screw it’ remark really does piss me off. So, Frenchy did not like playing for a losing team and dealt with it by eating a ton….words do not describe….

  133. 133
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    From the SI story–this hardly inspires confidence:

    “Braves general manager Frank Wren called it the toughest decision he’d made in 23 years in the majors and manager Bobby Cox said, “He could be any one of our sons. We love him that much.”

    I think we’re gonna need career years from everybody….

  134. 134
    Hiawatha Terrell Wade Says:

    Didn’t someone suggest Francoeur cried because he was so frustrated at trying his hardest and not getting results?

    He admits he essentially gave up after 120 games. He’s a bum.

  135. 135
    urlhix Says:

    Yeah, if he says “30 or 40” games you know he gave up long before then. I’m guessing he gave up at the demotion. Not a good sign.

    Edit: And people get pissed at Manny. Hmmm…

  136. 136
    Weldon Says:

    It seemed like he gave up about a week after that two-homer game he had in Washington.

    “It is weird, but for me to go to the next level and be the player I want to be I had to make some adjustments.”
    I don’t want to pile on the guy, but either I’m misreading this or he’s dumber than any of us think.

  137. 137
    urlhix Says:

    I don’t think you are misreading at all.

    Unfortunately, we need Jeff to have, as pointed out earlier, a career year. Good luck with that. “Hey. I really never knew the strike zone , but I’ve learned it now.”

    Pretty slim chance, if you ask me. Sure, he might make an adjustment, but what happens when the rest of the league catches up with his changes? I mean, can he really learn to lay off both the high heat AND the low and away?


  138. 138
    kc Says:

    I mean, I will still cheer for Frenchy just because he is a Brave. He may still become another Murphy as a baseball player, but he will never be another Murphy in terms of class, character….and intelligence…

  139. 139
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    KC–You are sounding pretty optimistic about Frenchy….No, he won’t be another Murphy…

  140. 140
    kc Says:

    Stephen, we NEED the kid to be productive to have any chance…we don’t have a choice.

  141. 141
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    Yes: I don’t think we have a choice–I would love to see Frenchy have a great year–but reading the SI article is frustrating….

  142. 142
    kc Says:

    All these makeup things the Braves are so proud of in their prospects, I am seeing none of those in Frenchy.

  143. 143
    kc Says:

    They are showing some genuine creativity over there:

  144. 144
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    The Braves do indeed value ‘makeup’; I believe that Frenchy’s preformance on and off the field is partly explained by the way the organization handled him. Frenchy was never just a Braves’ prospect, but he was ‘the Natural’. Believing their own propaganda, the Braves pushed him too rapidly and then refused to see the reality of Francoeur’s weaknesses in 2008. Instead, they kept sending him out to play RF, until his three game sojurn at AA–somehow believing that the problem was solved. So, if by this point he still has an inflated view of his abilities, he is not entirely to blame….

  145. 145
    Stephen in the UAE Says:

    #142–I guess that means that over here at Braves Journal we would have to plead guilty simply being sarcastic and understated….

  146. 146
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Professor, they just don’t measure up to our literary standards there.
    Witness our haikus:

    Defiant Jeffy
    In right, his bitter tears sting
    Runners left on base

    Maybe “screw him” might say it better, though.

  147. 147
    Tennessee Brave Says:

    I really think we should probably give Jeff more credit for actually admitting that he had a “give up” attitude. It’s not exactly what you want to be known for, but it’s a heck of a lot better (in my opinion, anyway) to be honest and admit that you handled something in an immature way than to lie about it. I personally view this as a sign of maturation. I mean, he was 24 last year. Is everyone 100% proud of the way they handled themselves at 24? Probably not, and it’s highly unlikely that any of us were dealing with the type of pressure he was dealing with.

  148. 148
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    TN Brave, I’m sympathetic to what you say, and I appreciate an athlete who’s willing to be honest about how they actually feel rather than just giving a canned response. It’s refreshing.

    But not a lot of people were cutting Randy Moss a lot of slack when he admitted that he didn’t play hard all the time. It’s not like they were surprised, exactly; he was pretty well known before then as a guy who played hard when he felt like it. But to hear him admit it made it seem even worse, as though he didn’t think there was anything wrong with taking a few games off of a 16-game season.

    I completely understand why, mired in the worst slump of his professional career, Frenchy would want the daily slog to go away. But you don’t have that luxury when you have a starting job. Especially not when you’ve raised a public snit about being deprived of your starting position.

    If Frenchy wanted the season to be over so badly, he should have gone to Bobby and said, “Coach, I’m not good enough to play every day. I need some time to figure out why I’m playing so badly.” But he’s trying to have it both ways: he’s pissed at the Braves for trying to take him away from the lineup, and he’s moaning about how hard the game is.

    His honesty’s nice, but what it reveals doesn’t speak well of him.

  149. 149
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Ububba, looks like the Lower East Side’s freak flag’s at half-mast again. RIP Lux Interior.

    I’m working on a mini-obit for him. Got any good stories?

  150. 150
    CharlesP Says:

    Talking Chop points out that today is Hank’s 75th birthday:

    Happy Birthday to Hank!

  151. 151
    Mac Thomason Says:

    New post.

  152. 152
    hankonly Says:

    So with Bonds headed to jail, can Hank have his title back?

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