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18 Feb

J.R. Graham: I’m Trying Not to Sound Like Eeyore

J.R. Graham is certainly the Braves’ hottest prospect, and some analysts are even beginning to suggest that he might be the best. It’s been a stunning one-year ascent for the 23-year old right-hander, who was drafted in the 4th round in 2011, pitched well in rookie ball that year, and in 2012 moved from High-A to Double-A without breaking a sweat. It’s not quite Andruw Jones moving from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A to the majors to the World Series in 1996, but it’s been a remarkable, unbroken rise to the top.

Graham was born in Sacramento, went to Livermore High School, and was a prominent athlete in the Bay Area, winning and he idolized Tim Hudson when he was growing up. His senior year of high school, he was named “East Bay Athlete of the Year,” so naturally, the Oakland A’s selected him in the 2008 draft. But they waited until the 46th round, and he opted to go to college, attending Santa Clara University.

Santa Clara has a baseball program, but it is not first-tier. When the Braves took Graham in the fourth round in 2008, it was the earliest in the draft that a Santa Clara Bronco had been taken since the Giants took Randy Winn in the third round in 1995. (It was the first time that the Braves had drafted a Bronco since they took Ed Giovanola in the second round in 1990.) In all, just four Broncos have made the majors since the year 2000: C Adam Melhuse, RHP Mike Crudale, OF Daniel Nava, and RHP Michael Stutes.

Graham started his college career playing the field and pitching, but he had a 7.15 ERA his freshman year — largely thanks to “allowing 17 earned runs in three outings which totaled 2 1/3 innings” — and shortly thereafter he focused on pitching. In his sophomore and junior years, he mostly relieved and closed, making just five starts as a junior before being drafted. In the back of the pen, he gained notice for occasionally hitting 100 mph on the gun.

Why was he just a fourth rounder? His college career was slightly uneven, marked by that unsightly freshman ERA, and his college program isn’t one of the biggest in the country. And, perhaps just as importantly, he’s a relatively small guy. He’s listed at 6’0″, 185, which is not bad at all considering that he was a preemie, but is still relatively slender for a man who throws 100. (In other words, Frank Wren told DOB, “He’s probably Huddy’s size.”) Many teams may have worried that he wouldn’t be able to hold up under a starter’s workload, and tabbed him as a future reliever — which, after all, is what he did in college.

But the Braves saw him as a starter, and they converted him almost immediately. He started eight of his 11 games in short-season rookie ball in 2011 and did not come out of the bullpen once in 2012. “It’s been pretty easy for me,” he told Baseball America last June:

At first, I remember going into college starting and I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to be a starter. I’ve got to reserve myself.’ And it didn’t really work out for me that well. But then my coach gave me some real good advice. He said to go out there with a closer mentality and pretend like it’s nine one-inning saves. I’ve done that ever since and I keep that closer mentality while I’m starting.

He has had good control in the minor leagues, and the Braves have noticed. “I take pride in not walking people,” Graham said after being drafted. The Braves have been talking that up, too. “He throws strikes,” Fredi Gonzalez told MLB.com after watching him throw batting practice. “He throws it over the plate with all of his pitches.”

That’s going to be important, because control is one of the most difficult aspects of the transition to the majors, when young pitchers discover that you can’t get away with mistakes with major league hitters, and you can’t just rely on pure stuff. Graham’s walk rate more than doubled when he got to Double-A last year, though it was a small sample size: after walking 17 men in 102 2/3 innings at High-A, he walked 17 men in just 45 1/3. That’s not catastrophic, and he still two and a half times as many strikeouts as walks, but it’s a cautionary note.

Up to now, the story of J.R. Graham has been an unmitigated success. He’s an undersized college reliever who in a year and a half has become one of the most ballyhooed starting pitching prospects in baseball. So I’m going to have to be a jerk and throw water on this and write that prospects rarely succeed in a straight line. That’s certainly true for the Braves’ last four huge pitching prospects, Teheran, Delgado, Vizcaino, and Minor: Teheran and Delgado struggled with their control in 2011 and 2012, Vizcaino got Tommy John surgery, and Minor struggled with his control from 2010 until the second half of 2012. Graham may well succeed, but it’s unlikely to happen without a few hiccups.

Here’s one reason why. I’ve taken a look at Baseball America’s Top Ten Prospects lists for the Braves since 2004 (I couldn’t see prior lists, but would be glad if anyone with a BA subscription could help out). I am now going to list, without further comment, every pitcher who appeared on those lists, along with their rank out of ten. I have underlined the ones who have succeeded at the major league level:

2004 2005 2006
4. Kyle Davies 5. Anthony Lerew 3. Matt Harrison
5. Anthony Lerew 6. Joey Devine 8. Jo-Jo Reyes
10. Blaine Boyer 7. Chuck James 9. Joey Devine
  10. Beau Jones  
2007 2008 2009
3. Jair Jurrjens 1. Tommy Hanson 3. Julio Teheran
7. Cole Rohrbough 6. Cole Rohrbough 4. Mike Minor
8. Jeff Locke 7. Jeff Locke 5. Craig Kimbrel
9. Tommy Hanson 8. Julio Teheran 7. Randall Delgado
10. Julio Teheran 9. Kris Medlen 8. Zeke Spruill
  10. Craig Kimbrel  
2010 2011 2012
1. Julio Teheran 1. Julio Teheran 1. Julio Teheran
3. Randall Delgado 2. Arodys Vizcaino 2. J.R. Graham
4. Mike Minor 3. Randall Delgado 4. Sean Gilmartin
5. Craig Kimbrel 5. Sean Gilmartin 5. Lucas Sims
7. Arodys Vizcaino 8. Zeke Spruill 6. Mauricio Cabrera
8. Brandon Beachy   7. Alex Wood
9. Brett Oberholtzer   9. Zeke Spruill
10. J.J. Hoover    

The lesson: TINSTAAPP, etc. Pitching prospects are volatile. You never know. The Braves have done very well overall in pitching, and they’ve also traded a lot of these guys when they had value — including Davies, Devine, Jones, Harrison, Delgado, Spruill, Vizcaino, Oberholtzer, and Hoover. (They traded Hanson after nearly all his value was gone.) The jury is out with Delgado and Vizcaino, but Hoover and Harrison are the only two who have already experienced major league success after being traded away from the Braves. (Devine had a terrific part season in 2008, but then his arm blew up, and he had two Tommy John surgeries in three years.)

Anyway, Graham looks awesome right now. But Teheran sat atop the Braves’ prospect list for the last three years. Anyway, I think there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic. Just remember to be cautiously optimistic.

114 Responses to “J.R. Graham: I’m Trying Not to Sound Like Eeyore”

  1. 1
    Grst Says:

    We’ve had some pretty good home-grown pitching success the last few years, between the best closer in baseball, two guys that have demonstrated ace ability and another middle rotation stuff.

  2. 2
    Adam R Says:

    When you think about it, the amount of success this franchise has had, just stemming from focusing on developing pitching, is maybe a little unfair.

  3. 3
    justhank Says:

    Thanks, Alex.

    Question: why does height have anything to do with pitching?

    Looking good when you get off the bus is fine, I guess, but it doesn’t keep the hitters off balance.

    Maddux, Hudson, Medlen (and Kimbrel, for crying out loud) are all 6 feet or under. I’ll take any of them over Tommie Hansen any day of the week.

    I can see where height would help at first base and power forward, but what the hell does it have to do with pitching?

  4. 4
    PaulV Says:

    @3 Height gives additional leverage but there are many more 6 footers than guys taller than 6′ 4″.

  5. 5
    spike Says:

    Mike Minor is in the best shape of his silencing critics career –

    http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130217&content_id=41739226&vkey=news_atl&c_id=atl

  6. 6
    JonathanF Says:

    You’re asking a guy who’s planning on a 162-0 season to be cautiously optimistic?

  7. 7
    c. shorter Says:

    5 — Love the obligatory comparison to Glavine.
    (I get why everyone does it, but it seems redundant at this point.)

  8. 8
    Rusty S. Says:

    @3 – In theory, one thing is that a taller pitcher can throw the ball at a more downward angle through the strike zone, while a shorter pitcher would have to throw on a flatter plane.

  9. 9
    braves14 Says:

    Also, a bigger and stronger body should be able to withstand more wear and tear of throwing high 90′s fastballs.

  10. 10
    sansho1 Says:

    “The way I think about is that I did have a good second half, but nobody cares,”

    Mike Minor is beginning to remind me of Migraine Boy.

  11. 11
    sansho1 Says:

    Huh. I embedded a link in the last post that only shows up if you mouse over Migraine Boy.

  12. 12
    justhank Says:

    @8 – yes, and that’s probably why they lowered the mound in the late ’60s (although I think the real reason is that everyone was scared to death of that mean black man the Cardinals had).

    But that would only obtain when throwing a straight, four-seam fastball.

    I guess a longer frame would allow a pitcher to release closer to the plate (although early Lincecum released as close as anyone), but, again, that mainly applies to fastballs.

    It’s probably true that if you could have Greg Maddux at 6’4″ rather than 6′ even, you’d choose the former. But that’s so far up the track (Kentucky saying for “less important”) than command of the zone, keeping the hitters off balance, pitching ahead in the count, movement, deception, mental toughness, etc. but so many scouts, coaches, etc. base their decisions on height that I must be missing something.

    Just don’t get it.

  13. 13
    desert Says:

    11, Just look at Russell Wilson. And if anything, it’s much more important to have a tall quarterback in football than a tall pitcher in baseball. Had he been 6’4″, he definitely would have gone top-10 in the first round instead of the third.

  14. 14
    Mr. Swings@Everything Says:

    @11

    Just because a factor isn’t 100% determinative doesn’t mean it isn’t predictive.

  15. 15
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Yeah, the idea is that short slender people who throw incredibly hard may be subject to more strain related to the torque than tall thick people, and therefore are likely to be more injury prone or better suited to the pen due to lower stamina. I don’t know if a study has been done to investigate that claim. I’d love to read it if there has.

  16. 16
    Stu Says:

    10—Eh, I think you’re reading it too harshly. I think all he’s trying to say is that he can’t hang his hat on a few good months in 2012; he’s got to produce in 2013. Which is true without being whiny or whatever.

    Admittedly, I’m biased, but I really don’t think he’s saying what you seem to think he’s saying.

  17. 17
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Stu, fwiw, that’s the way I read it too.

  18. 18
    Grst Says:

    @15 & 16 Ditto. Found it rather encouraging, personally.

  19. 19
    sansho1 Says:

    I won’t belabor defending a joke too much, and you never know what quote is going to get plucked from an interview, but Minor has often seemed somewhat prickly to me. If that’s true, and if he draws motivation from perceived slights, that’s okay with me. Hell, I’m like that. I would hope that if he continues to be successful, he’ll be able to enjoy it.

  20. 20
    Stu Says:

    Oh, he’s definitely prickly. Just don’t think it was some sort of complaint, as if he thought people should be givig him credit for the second half of 2012, no matter what happens in 2013. Apologies if I misread your implication!

  21. 21
    spike Says:

    According to our beat writer, “The purported offseason conditioning strides made by Juan Francisco were not quite what we’d been led to believe.”

  22. 22
    justhank Says:

    It’s P90X for you, Juan.

  23. 23
    sansho1 Says:

    Francisco Awakens His Critics

  24. 24
    Bethany Says:

    Bahahaha… I don’t like Juan, at all. I’m disappointed that the Braves don’t seem interested in trying Gattis at third.

  25. 25
    desert Says:

    Jayson Stark decides to write an article on how the Braves are going to strike out too much for their own good. Jayson Stark gets a response from Frank Wren concerning strikeouts:


    “We know we’re going to strike out,” said GM Frank Wren on Monday. “That’s just a given with guys who have power. And we have a lot of guys who can hit the ball out of the park. And that kind of goes hand in hand. But you look at some of the studies — and our guys have looked at them — and there’s not a direct correlation with strikeouts and offense.

    “It doesn’t inhibit your offense if you have guys who get on base. We’ve got to put up quality at-bats. And I think Greg Walker is a really good hitting coach for a team like this, because he understands swings really well and he understands situational hitting. And I just think he preaches the right things.”

    For some reason, instead of trying to build an argument around this (true… I think Ks and Run Scoring run a .17 R^2 correlation value) statement, Stark continues to write his article, including such gems as the fact that the Nats struck out 1,325 times last season (more than the Braves) but were still considered the best team in baseball.

  26. 26
    Stu Says:

    I love the idea of Juan, but…

  27. 27
    desert Says:

    @23,

    Apparently Kimbrel threw ‘live batting practice’ against Juan Cheeseburgero, Ramiro Pena, and Oso Blanco today. The bat only made contact twice in ten minutes, both by Gattis (including a liner into right field).

  28. 28
    spike Says:

    That Frank Wren said “But you look at some of the studies — and our guys have looked at them — and there’s not a direct correlation with strikeouts and offense.” is one of the most heartening things I have heard in some time.

  29. 29
    Bethany Says:

    @27 Amen!

  30. 30
    Rusty S. Says:

    @26 – I am now more impressed with Gattis than ever.

  31. 31
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Frank Wren is a really good GM.

  32. 32
    Stu Says:

    30—One of the ~five best in the game, IMO. And better than Schuerholz.

  33. 33
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I agree with the first part. I’d say the jury’s out on him being better than Schuerholz — not because I think you’re overrating Frank, but because I think you’re underrating John. It’s easy to ding Schuerholz for the bad deals he tried to make and didn’t, or for his awful drafting record during the second half of the ’90s, or for getting preposterously lucky with Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz’s health. But he had an astonishingly good trade record, in terms of value out against value in. He may have had something to do with the training staff that kept them healthy. He gets some credit for drafting well in the early ’90s and the early 2000s.

    And, well, there’s all those pennants. It may not be very saber to say so, but I’d like to see Frank finish first at least once before I’m willing to say he’s definitely better than Trader John.

  34. 34
    kc Says:

    @30 and 31 In Frank I trust. And yes, I agree with Stu, I trust Frank more than I ever did with JS. I like the fact that Frank cares about bench and bullpen more than JS ever did.

  35. 35
    jjschiller Says:

    John Schuerholz achieved more in Kansas City, before he even began the defining era of his career, than Wren has achieved in his career as a whole.

  36. 36
    mravery Says:

    I completely agree with AAR. Schurholtz built some really, really good teams in the ’90s and for the most part, made very good trades. The Teix trade left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, but that shouldn’t take anything away from his unmatched streak of division titles, which extended beyond the time Maddux and Glavine were in Atlanta. Wren’s been great for the past ~5 years. Schurholtz was great for much longer.

  37. 37
    kc Says:

    But we have to consider JS had relatively more resources to work with in the 90s compared the league versus what Wren has now. I was actually quite impressed with JS’s later years of work when he had to cut payroll while keeping the team being competitive.

  38. 38
    justhank Says:

    Derek Lowe.

  39. 39
    desert Says:

    @37, I don’t know; Uggla might be Wren’s Lowe (pun intended).

  40. 40
    braves14 Says:

    Wren signed Lowe, too. (and Kawakami)

  41. 41
    ryan c Says:

    Thus far, Uggla has been worth his contract according to fangraphs.

  42. 42
    desert Says:

    Wow, can’t believe Wren’s been the GM that long.
    @40, given who’s been playing at 2nd today, Uggla’s probably a top-10 player at his position. I’d certainly rather have Pedroia, Phillips, Hill, Cano, Zobrist, Espinosa, and Kinsler; but, apart from them, Uggla may be the best option.

  43. 43
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I think that Dan Uggla should be considered two separate transactions: a very good trade, and an overpriced extension. The extension may have been important to get Dan Uggla’s blessing for the trade, but it was viewed as risky at the time because of his age. Then he started breaking down about a year and a half earlier than anyone thought.

    The thing about his Fangraphs WAR last year is that it’s boosted by a one-year anomaly in his UZR. Most years it’s in the -5 to -10 range. Last year it’s listed as +2, which adds about a win to his win total. If you subtract a win from his WAR, then he’s still underperforming his contract.

  44. 44
    Stu Says:

    36—Yeah, that’s the main reason I prefer Frank. He has done a lot of good, and with a lot fewer resources than Schuerholz ever had. I also think he’s doing it in a league environment with a lot more very, very good GMs than Schuerholz ever had to compete against.

    It’s probably true that I’m undervaluing Schuerholz, though. We’ve been in good hands for a long time.

  45. 45
    JonathanF Says:

    @42: But that +2 is performance. it may not be repeatable performance, but it’s performance which ought to count into how his performance has matched his pay. I continue to believe that what troubles Braves fans about Uggla is not his performance, or his pay, but the components of his performance. The things he is very good at (like walks) are exactly the things that fans purport to value, but don’t. At the same time the thing fans hate (strikeouts, particularly bad looking strikeouts) are exactly the things that we were agreeing a little higher in this thread don’t matter as mucha s fans think. Uggla has had fewer homers than people expected… granted. But his defense is better and his OBA is up. Those are just things people don’t like as much as they say. By the way, if I’m right about this, the “strikeouts don’t matter much” school is going to be tested at some point when the Braves have a three game losing streak in which they strand a bunch of guys on third with less than two outs.

  46. 46
    JonathanF Says:

    … which I hasten to add is impossible if they go 162-0.

  47. 47
    mravery Says:

    Well, it sure felt like Uggla was underperforming his contract last year. >_<

    Either way, I think there was generally support for both the Uggla and Lowe contracts when they were first signed. Or maybe that was just from me?

  48. 48
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Actually, I think that one of Uggla’s greatest unsung qualities is his health. He’s always on the field. I don’t mind his strikeouts and I love his power and walks. The pop-ups are very worrisome, though, and I’m concerned about the declining quality of his contact.

    But I’m not sure that his +2 UZR actually was his performance. I think that there may be a reasonable amount of measurement error in a single-season UZR that says that Dan Uggla saved us two runs on defense last year. I’ve watched him play a lot of defense. I don’t think he kills you, but I don’t think he’s above-average, and I think that last year’s +2 UZR was more likely an artifact in the data rather than a true measurement of the number of runs he actually saved the team.

  49. 49
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    At the time, I was a major supporter of the Lowe contract, including the number of years and dollars. I loved the Uggla trade, and I believed that the Uggla contract was an overpay but not a catastrophic overpay.

  50. 50
    sansho1 Says:

    I thought Uggla played better defense last year than in 2011.

  51. 51
    ryan c Says:

    Reminder to all managers from last year’s fantasy league that Friday is the deadline to secure your spot in our league. Email me at cothrjr at hotmail dot com

  52. 52
    kc Says:

    Now that Chipper’s number will be retired this season, we may have to wait for another decade before we see another number being retired by the Braves.

  53. 53
    mravery Says:

    I think that’s fine. If you’re retiring jerseys every year, your standards are probably too low.

    I don’t imagine Hudson’s jersey will be retired, so that means… I dunno, McCann? is the “next closest”? Which is another way of saying it’s a complete tossup. Prado would’ve had potential for jersey retirement if the Braves had kept him and he’d continued being good for another 8 years or so. Although even with that, I’m not sure how he’d stack up against the other guys in that class.

  54. 54
    desert Says:

    I’m not so sure on McCann; the only numbers they’ve retired belong to hall of famers and Dale Murphy. In my mind, Heyward, J Upton, and Kimbrel probably have the best chance of players currently on the team.

  55. 55
    Stu Says:

    And Jordan Schafer.

  56. 56
    desert Says:

    Well, I mean success is an obvious given for Cooperstown, much like Luis Avilan and Luis Durango. I just thought we were talking about fringe players, right?

  57. 57
    Adam R Says:

    Aren’t we forgetting #43? HE WILL PLAY FOR US FOREVER.

  58. 58
    Kevin Lee Says:

    @AAR

    This post is a terrific read!
    Can’t wait to see him.

    And your comment @48 shows why it’s important to have a like you overseeing the site.

    What’s that definition of fan again?

  59. 59
    Parish Says:

    I sure remember some great defensive plays by Uggla this year.

    Also, Gattis’ contact against Kimbrel doesn’t count because he is too old.

  60. 60
    Stu Says:

    44. Teheran
    93. Graham

    The Braves prospects on BA’s Top 100 list.

  61. 61
    ktbass Says:

    When I heard they were retiring a number I just assumed it was Luis Avilan’s #43.
    I was a little bummed to hear it was Chipper’s #10. Deep down I was hoping for a mid-season come out of retirement and push us over the top scenario.

  62. 62
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    J.J. Hoover has had 30 innings of reasonably successful relief work in the bigs. At this point, he’s less of a ML success story than Joey Devine.

  63. 63
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The thing about his Fangraphs WAR last year is that it’s boosted by a one-year anomaly in his UZR. Most years it’s in the -5 to -10 range. Last year it’s listed as +2, which adds about a win to his win total. If you subtract a win from his WAR, then he’s still underperforming his contract.

    But those things actually happened. WAR is not a predictive stat. It’s a story of what actually occurred. Yes, if you remove the value he had he’s less valuable.

    Uggla’s last few years are expensive and he’s one dimensional, but to date, he’s been worth his contract.

  64. 64
    desert Says:

    @59, I wonder how many Braves would be on a list of “Top-100 25 and under” in all of baseball. Heyward, Upton, Simmons, Kimbrel, Freeman (maybe?)… anyone else?

  65. 65
    justhank Says:

    @59 – well, that’s less than encouraging.

  66. 66
    jjschiller Says:

    @62 – I think Alex spoke for himself up above, but I’m kind of with him, here. Uggla has a history of below-average defense. Defense is the wonkiest part of WAR. If Uggla had a season that was bolstered by his only above average defensive season, it might not have actually happened.

    AT THE SAME TIME, these are the same numbers and methods being used to compare to every other player in the game to eachother, so, you kinda gotta go with it. You can’t just throw out the one’s you don’t like but keep the rest.

  67. 67
    Stu Says:

    64—Well, it’d be better if the Braves had more guys on the list, but it’s not exactly terrifying, given how few holes or near-future holes there appear to be on the current roster. Young, deep teams don’t need a ton of help from the minors.

  68. 68
    Dan Says:

    “But you look at some of the studies — and our guys have looked at them — and there’s not a direct correlation with strikeouts and offense.” -Frank Wren

    Can someone get this memo over to the posters on DOB’s blog? Also, the two main Braves’ television announcers could use it too.

  69. 69
    Dusty Says:

    While I’m still skeptical of the quantitative value of defensive statistics, I don’t dismiss what they said about Uggla last year. Just as players can have up and down years offensively, I see no reason that they can’t do the same defensively. As Sam said WAR is not predictive is about what actually happened and I have no reason to doubt that Uggla had a stronger defensive season in 2012 than he did in 2010-1.

  70. 70
    ububba Says:

    Poor, poor Mets…

    http://tinyurl.com/bcua9e5

  71. 71
    sansho1 Says:

    Uggla likely benefited from playing with Janish, Simmons, and Prado at SS (their combined playing time more than making up for the Pastor experience). All showed great range, which probably allowed for more plays at the second base bag that Uggla received partial credit for as well. He took part in 103 DPs in 1348 innings in 2012, as compared to 86 in 1431 innings in 2011. Obviously, that’s not all him, or even mostly him. But it also seemed to me that he Pradoed fewer balls, and his error rate was slightly down.

  72. 72
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    RE: @59 and the lack of “prospects” on the BA list, that will happen when you graduate 19 and 20 year olds to the bigs every year, four years running. As noted by others, if you don’t arbitrarily limit the list to “prospects” in the minors and talk about teams with young, cost controlled talent, the Braves skyrocket on the list.

    Think of it this way; would you rather have Wil Myers (22 years old, #4 on the BA list as a OF/3B) or Jason Heyward (23 years old?) Would you rather have Oscar Taveras (22 years old, never played above AA) or Justin Upton (25 years old?)

  73. 73
    mravery Says:

    @66-

    That’s an excellent point. The Braves have starters under team control for the next 3 years at every position except 3B and C. You can argue that Uggla sucks and will need to be replaced, but barring a total collapse (Unlikely, IMO. I actually like him to bounce back this year.) he’ll be around. And these are guys that have either established levels of skill or are top-teir prospects with upside. Pitching could be an issue down the road, but you’ve got to like a top three of Medlen, Beachy, and Minor, all cost-controlled to one extent or another, going forward.

    And recall that one reason the farm system is so barren is a good part of it just got traded to Arizona. Not that it was great shakes before the trade, mind you, but there was solid depth.

    Give ‘em a few years. They’ll start churning out dudes again soon.

  74. 74
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I wonder if Wren will find a way to trade Jordan Schafer to the Mets. He could probably start for that team.

  75. 75
    mravery Says:

    Wow, what a horrible thing to do to… well, both of them, really.

  76. 76
    Jonathan Says:

    We already knew Kimbrel was (is) awesome. This just seems unfair:
    http://espn.go.com/mlb/spring2013/story/_/id/8963155/atlanta-braves-craig-kimbrel-knocks-hole-one

  77. 77
    JonathanF Says:

    It’s still funny that the Mets second highest paid outfielder (after Jason Bay) is Bobby Bonilla. The gift that keeps on giving….

  78. 78
    sansho1 Says:

    JonathanF, I’d be happier about that if we weren’t still paying Al Hrabosky and Bruce Sutter….

    http://www.macon.com/2012/06/16/2063220/braves-paying-players-to-play.html

  79. 79
    desert Says:

    I’ve got a question on this fine Tuesday evening. Would there be (or has there been somebody that has) a method to quantify the reduction in talent level in the MLB before integration?

    A friend of mine were having a conversation about cricket today (you guys can definitely skip this part), and we were debating whether Sachin Tendulkar or Donald Bradman was the best batsman of all time. The point came up that only five countries were involved in cricket when Bradman was playing (England, India, South Africa, West Indies, and Australia); and, even then, India, West Indies, and South Africa did not have organized structures in place for promoting talent to the national squad. Australia and England were clearly the big fish in a very small pond.

    We got to wondering how depressed the talent was in the pre-integration environment. It’s entirely feasible for any league (high school, Sally, double-A) to have the same exact leaguewide stats as the MLB (for example, a 4.00 ERA, .270 BA, etc); however, the players with a little more talent put everyone else to shame in those leagues- that is, the gap between the worst and the best (or the 25th and 75th percentiles) is a lot more in leagues with less talent than the majors. How much of Babe Ruth’s (or Ty Cobb’s) numbers came from batting against pitchers that wouldn’t sniff AAA nowadays? How would these players face the competition today? 40% of the Majors in 2011 were composed of non-white players, as were quite a few of the best players. Is there perhaps a way to quantify this? It would be really interesting.

  80. 80
    JonathanF Says:

    desert: see, for example, this http://danagonistes.blogspot.com/2004/08/where-have-400-hitters-gone.html
    but there are lots of other references that I can try and look up later tonight…

  81. 81
    desert Says:

    @79, Thanks! Really interesting stuff.

  82. 82
    sdp Says:

    When the hell did we sign Blake DeWitt?

  83. 83
    Adam M Says:

    The Mets are still paying Bobby Bonilla?

  84. 84
    jjschiller Says:

    @77 – No one on this green earth can use as many words to say as little as Bill Shanks. Criminy.

  85. 85
    sansho1 Says:

    Adam, they just STARTED paying Bonilla. The deferred money runs from 2011-2035. He’s one smart dude.

  86. 86
    Grst Says:

    Bonilla took them to the woodshed. I’d feel sorry for them, but IWOTM.

  87. 87
    ububba Says:

    The deferred part of Bonilla’s contract was directly related to unreal returns that the Wilpons were getting from their “Madoff investments.”

    http://tinyurl.com/7wnttoc

  88. 88
    justhank Says:

    ububba – won’t the fact that the Mets reside in such a large market mean that ultimately their local tv contract will save their sorry ass?

    You know, UNLIKE HERE?

  89. 89
    JonathanF Says:

    The Mets will have money — pretty soon actually. Whether they will spend on it on Mo Vaughn, Bobby Bonilla, Jason Bay, and Carlos Delgado is the real question. (Actually, I think they were unlucky with Bay.) Though I do have the sneaking suspicion that Sandy Alderson knows what he’s doing… witness not paying money to bring Michael Bourn in to a team that isn’t ready to compete and probably won’t be ready until the outyears of a Bourn contract.

    They have a really nice stadium now, though.

  90. 90
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Yeah, the Bay contract just basically went up in smoke. But as much as anything, that contract is a testament to the unbelievably poor performance of the Mets’ medical staff. See also: Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, Ryan Church, et al.

  91. 91
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Also, Peanut and the Braves want us to know that Jordan Schafer is mature now.

    “Physically the stuff has been there,” Schafer said. “Mentally, I’ve been all over the place. I need to grow up and mature a little bit. I’ve [been dumb] in the past. But I think mentally, I’m in a good place right now.”

    I’d say that’s a relief.

  92. 92
    ryan c Says:

    So now F’ing success is mature enough to accept F’ing failure. Good to know…

  93. 93
    ryan c Says:

    Reminder to joey, smitty, jake, desert, rob, wessley, and all other last year’s managers that Friday will be the last day to secure a spot for our Braves Journal league. Email me at cothrjr at hotmail dot com if you didn’t receive your invite.

  94. 94
    Rob Cope Says:

    Schafer is like that piece of cheese from that commercial.

  95. 95
    JonathanF Says:

    None of us mature until we get a dose of HGH. Unfortunately, Schafer’s dose came well after puberty.

  96. 96
    AtlCrackersFan Says:

    Back to Santa Clara Univ. and J. Graham. Actually Santa Clara has sent 50 guys to the Majors, although the first, Hal Chase, may be the most (in)famous of the bunch. The only recognizable name from the past 50 years is Nelson Briles — if you’re old enough to remember the Pirates of the early ’70s.

  97. 97
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Santa Clara definitely has a healthy program. But the guys it has produced are generally middle-rounders. Among all Santa Clara alums, Nelson Briles, Hal Chase, and Randy Winn are easily the best major leaguers. And they didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

    Not to get ahead of ourselves, but if Graham winds up having a ten-year career as a number 2 or number 3 major league starter, he could be the greatest player in the history of the program. He’s already one of the highest-profile prospects that the school has ever produced.

  98. 98
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    One would be remiss to not mention here on Braves Journal that the Atlanta Braves take on the Detroit Tigers at Champion Stadium today @ 1:00 PM EST.

  99. 99
    sansho1 Says:

    That game is on Friday, I believe. Which still strikes me as an early date to start playing games. Seems like March 1 used to be the traditional start for spring training games.

  100. 100
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Oh. Booo!!!

  101. 101
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Early this year because of the World Baseball Classic I believe.

  102. 102
    sansho1 Says:

    Ah, that makes sense.

  103. 103
    jjschiller Says:

    So this is apropo of absolutely nothing.. but.. I know we have at least two Eames fans here.

    Today I acquired an Eames EC428 Operational Stool. I know nothing about it, except that it is perhaps the rarest Eames design around.

    http://eamesdesigns.com/catalog-entry/ec428-operational-stool/

  104. 104
    Bethany Says:

    @101

    Oooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    Where’d you find it? That’s very cool and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that particular design. Congrats!

  105. 105
    jjschiller Says:

    I actually bought it for just $110, from a pretty serious collector. (Not a collector of Eames, specifically, but the owner of the most impressive design collection I’ve laid my eyes on.)

    He was aware it was Herman Miller, bought the design is so rare, I don’t blame him for missing it as an Eames.

  106. 106
    Bethany Says:

    That’s awesome! You can see the Eames in it, it’s very cool.

  107. 107
    jjschiller Says:

    Yeah, you can. I’d never seen this one before, either. But it’s got the “universal base” from the Time Life chair, so it’s a bit surprising it got this fellow. But, hey, win some, lose some. I win!

  108. 108
    mravery Says:

    Well, as long as we’re bragging about our new stools, I just put together my these today:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001E95R3G/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I’ve got an island in my kitchen, and these are the perfect height to sit right behind it. Yay for more seating!

  109. 109
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Well, as long as we’re bragging about our new stools

    That sentence just sounds wrong.

  110. 110
    Adam M Says:

    @JoseCanseco. That is all.

  111. 111
    spike Says:

    @101, Really, a fine piece.

    @108, it was just what the internet was made for.

  112. 112
    sansho1 Says:

    @101

    Very nice. I finally quit screwing around (with my back, primarily) and ordered an Aeron chair last year. It pleases me.

  113. 113
    jjschiller Says:

    @110 – I’ve never owned an aeron, but have owned a succession of “aluminum group task chairs” and briefly a Time-Life chair, but it was a luxury unfit for my tax bracket. (Meaning I bought it at a yard sale for $15 and flipped it three weeks later for $1150.)

  114. 114
    Bethany Says:

    This is my favorite bravesjournal divergence of all time.

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