Did you really want Peavy?

Instead of bashing Jake Peavy when he comes to Turner Field this year, Braves fans might want to thank him for the fact that he had no desire to pitch in Atlanta. 

While watching Puerto Rico’s 11-1 win over the U.S. Dolphin Stadium last night, I started to draw comparisons between Peavy and Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington.  But I eventually concluded that  Pennington hadn’t got hit nearly as hard by Ray Lewis and the rest of the Ravens defense during this year’s playoffs. 

Had the Braves acquired Peavy via trade, they would have paid him at least $63 million over the next four seasons.   When you’re dishing out that kind of coin, you’d at least like to have some confidence that he’ll be answer the bell when you need him in big games.

While the sample size is small it’s still somewhat alarming to know that Peavy is 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA (22 2/3 innings, 24 earned runs)  in the six combined career starts he’s made during the postseason and the World Baseball Classic.

Instead of Peavy, the Braves ended up with Derek Lowe, who is 6-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 21 career postseason appearances (10 starts).   Over the course of eight days in 2004, Lowe won a Game 7 start at Yankee Stadium and tossed seven scorless innings to allow the Red Sox to clinch their first World Series in 86 years. 

When Lowe takes the mound at Disney this afternoon, he’s not going to be feeding off his “big-game” adrenaline.  But the Astros, who are 1-13-1, might look at this afternoon’s game a little different.  Frustrated by his team’s struggles, manager Cecil Cooper required every position player make the short trip across Osceola Parkway. 

After Lowe exits today’s game, Peter Moylan will continue his Sunday afternoon tradition of making a Grapefruit League appearance.   His only two previous appearances this year have occurred on Sundays. 

Before this development, the only thing linking the tatooed Australian to the NFL was the fact that his arms are as decorative as Kyle Turley’s.  

You probably best remember Turley as the Saints offensive lineup who imitated Moylan’s sidearm delivery while tossing a Jets helmet across the field during a nationally-televised game.

While pitching against the Phillies last week, Moylan looked tremendous and gave more reason to believe he might indeed be ready by Opening Day.  But the Braves will remain cautious with the right-handed reliever, who is just a little more than 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery. 

Rafael Soriano is also scheduled to make his second Grapefruit League appearance this afternoon. 

Other than finding out where Dayton will be bracketed in the NCAA tournament, I’d have to say the appearances made by Moylan and Soriano will be the most important developments of the day.

The Braves are expected to announce their next round of cuts later today or on Monday.  James Parr, who impressed with four strikeouts in 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Marlins on Friday, has already been informed that he’s heading to Minor League camp.

“I did everything that I could do,” said a distraught Parr, who allowed one run in 7 1/3 Grapefruit League innings. 

With a little more than two weeks left before the start of the regular season, the Braves may attempt to take advantage of their pitching depth via trade.  While he might not net a return greater than a mid-level Minor League prospect, Buddy Carlyle has been receiving some attention from clubs looking to improve their bullpen. 

Anderson update:  Garret Anderson hasn’t started running yet.  But the veteran outfielder, who has been sidelined since March 6, continues to be encouraged about the improvement of his strained right calf.   It’s starting to look like he could be available for the final two weeks of the exhibition season.

Today’s lineup:
Jordan Schafer CF
Yunel Escobar SS
Kelly Johnson 2B
Matt Diaz LF
Jeff Francoeur RF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Martin Pradro 3B
David Ross C
Derek Lowe P   

46 Comments

Lowe began the game with consecutive strikeouts and ended the inning on a Lance Berkman grounder that a diving Freddie Freeman grabbed before making a pinpoint toss to first base…Including last Tuesday’s outing, that’s five perfect innings for Lowe against the Astros.

Without a jinx factor in place, Francoeur’s streak came to a close with a second-inning strikeout against Jose Capellan…Francoeur hadn’t struck out in the 34 previous plate appearances he’d registered during the exhibition season.

Soriano’s fastball is hitting 94 mph and he doesn’t appear to be hesitant with his delivery…He certainly looks like he’ll be ready by Opening Day.

Hey Mark,
Do you think Diaz has a shot at making the opening day roster? He has returned to form and has hitting outstanding lately. Frency in Right, Schafer in Center, Diaz in left?

Hey Mark, are you at all concerned about Atlanta becoming overloaded with right-handed pitching and left-handed hitting? Atlanta already has 4 right-handed starters as well as Hanson and Medlen both being right-handed. As for the lineup it already has several lefties with Heyward, Freeman, and Schafer all being left handed hitters of the future. Any concern?
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Christian: barring injury, Diaz will definitely be on the Opening Day roster. While the Braves have indicated Garret Anderson will be their primary left fielder, I expect Diaz will start at least 50 games at that position.

Thanks
And have you heard anything about Escobar? He hasn’t been hitting well lately. He started Spring off really hot but now he has done nothing.

Also: Although Freeman and Heyward are young, they keep proving they can play at the major league level. Do you think they will get called up for sure this season?

So who do you anticipate will be getting sent down, Mark? I know we’ve got to get down to 25 eventually, but there are so many young guys obviously making a good name for themselves.

asphalt: None of the big names (Heyward or Freeman) will be going down tomorrow…Based on what I saw today, Todd Redmond, Phil Britton and Parr will definitely be among the eight sent to Minor League camp tomorrow…I think Luis Valdez might be the only other member of the 40-man roster who is affected…Mariano Gomez, Alvin Colina, Matt Kennelly and Brooks Conrad would be my best guess for the other four.

I agree with you about Peavy, Mark. The Braves should be thankful they did not get him for the price that the Padres were asking. Peavy is an elite pitcher, but only for 6 innings a game. The one stat that is shocking to me, that the broadcasters talked about in the USA-PR game was that during his CY Young year, Peavy never pitched more than 7 innings in a game. If I am building a team around an elite pitcher, I want that pitcher to be able to dominate a game for 9 innings. CC Sabathia, Roy Hallady, James Shields, and Brandon Webb are players that can do that, and players I would build my team around before Jake Peavy.

With all the pitching depth we have, what do you think are teams needs? I mean are weakness… Man we really look good this year….Go Braves

Hey Mark,
Do you have any idea what the Associated Press’ problem is (as well as ESPN’s) with the Braves? They said Kawakami “struggled for the Braves” by surrendering 2 runs and fanning one batter over 4 2/3 innings (they made an emphasis on 7 hits). God forbid those waterheads mention that our pitching hasn’t been taken deep yet. Or that the AP talks about how good our farm system is. Is this not bullcrap to anyone else? Given the national media’s treatment of the Braves (I don’t get to watch MLB Network often, so they’re not implied), I hope our guys as well as other teams that people think are gonna flop, and prove EVERYONE wrong. Sorry for the rant.

What news is there from yesterday’s game that you have to share? I don’t know that you’ve put anything up yet. Thanks again for what you do Mark.

Isaac, it’s tough to pinpoint this club’s needs. If you really want to be picky, you might say that they could use a more experienced left-handed reliever at the Major League level…From an organizational standpoint, they could certainly use some help at third base. But obviously there’s a chance that Chipper Jones is going to be manning that position for at least three more years…They also might be a little thin at the catcher’s position. But once again, you have McCann ready to handle that position for a long time…There’s always ways to improve your club. But right now, it’s tough to pinpoint how the Braves could best utilize their pitching depth on the trade market.

bluesman: I didn’t make the trip to Jupiter, but I have talked to some of the guys about Kawakami and from what I’ve gathered he was actually fortunate to only allow two runs in 4 2/3 innings…This morning, he admitted that his fastball was straight and up in the zone. Others have told me that his curveball was sharp when he was able to locate it…Kawakami is like many other veteran pitchers…what we see from him in his final three exhibition starts will be more indicative of what we’ll see once the regular season begins. Right now, I still feel like he’s working on a number of things. By the time the regular season begins, you can only hope that his cutter is sharper and the location of his curveball proves to be more consistent.

With all due respect to Pat White, I am temporarily suspending my allegiance to WVU athletics. I’ve always said I’d pull for Dayton when those two teams match up. Thus when they play on Thursday night, I’m just going to pretend that Bob Huggins is that Rodriguez dude that used to coach in Morgantown. Hey it worked for The Fonz in The Waterboy.

Mark, I’m an Ohio State fan and I’d say we did a pretty good job of working him over for you, and I’m sure we’ll do it again for at least a couple years to come what with the worst team record in the history of the school at Michigan this year.

asphalt: I want to thank you in advance for what your Buckeyes will continue to do to Michigan as long as that guy is employed in Ann Arbor.

The biggest disappointment during the U.S. victory last night was the fact that McCann didn’t have the opportunity to make a play when he was inserted in left field during the ninth inning.

Chipper hasn’t arrived at the stadium yet. I’m expecting he’ll tell us that he expects to start playing again in about a week. I haven’t gotten the sense that anybody is too concerned. But it obviously made sense for him to leave the Classic and come back to camp.

So, it was 8-1 going into the eighth inning last night, when I turned off the TV and went to bed. If I would have known that McCann was going to spend an inning out in left field, I would have stayed up to watch that. Davey Johnson seems to be contradicting himself or at least what he says to the media. Earlier, in last nights game, they were talking about the fact that he split the catcher’s playing time during the second game against Venezuela and when asked what he would have done if one of them had gotten hurt and he didn’t have another catcher to put in the game. Supposedly he said that the US would have forfeited the game, because he wouldn’t have taken a chance in putting anyone else behind the plate and getting hurt. So, I have to wonder, why would he have taken a chance in putting McCann in the outfield? The last thing we need is him pulling a hammy just to have a little fun.

I’m guessing Davey Johnson had a different attitude for the Venezuela game because the USA was already through to the next round.

It is fun to listen to Sutcliffe make excuses for Peavy though. If nobody picks up Blyleven as their pitching coach I’d be shocked. What do you bet he gets picked up, does a great job, and THEN gets his HoF selection.

Chipper hasn’t arrived at the stadium and Bobby Cox didn’t seem to expect to see him today. This just provides more reason to believe the oblique strain isn’t too serious.

Jo-Jo Reyes worked a scoreless first inning in today’s intrasquad game. Glavine is on the mound now and it looks like he’ll primarily be facing Minor Leaguers. Cody Johnson is coming to the plate now.

Glavine still appears to be throwing with about 70 percent effort. The only evaluation while watching him right now is that you hope he’s going to gain a lot more arm strength between now and April 18. Looking for the positives, his control was much more impressive than his velocity. The only run he allowed during the first inning came via a Cody Johnson sac fly.

Reyes’ second inning wasn’t nearly as pretty. Brandon Hicks doubled off him and Brooks Conrad followed with a deep two-run shot to left. After a Matt Kennelly single, Josh Anderson lined into an inning-ending double play.

Glad to see Stockman moved out. Nothing personal, I hope he can get his injuries behind him, but dude never answers the bell. Didn’t when he was in the D-Back org, nor here.

Now all the bloggers can stop the incessant calling for him to be summoned from AAA.

I hope some other team inqires about Bennett. I prefer Campillo and Carlyle both over Bennett. The former tow are strike throwers as Bobby says the latter spotty command without the stuff to pitch from behind.

Very salient point on Peavy, Bowman concur wholeheartedly.

Glavine’s velocity slightly improved during the second inning. He struck out Kala Ka’ahihue with an inside fastball during a scoreless second inning…Really the only thing I can take from this two-inning outing is that it’s a good thing he has more than a month to prepare for his regular season debut.

Glavine seems to be way behind. Standing out there lobbing the ball to minor leaguers is a far cry from bearing down on the major leagues next month. Unless he is about to become the lefthanded Tim Wakefield, he is going to have to start cutting it loose. This is the first time he has ever been injured, and he will surely have to work through the mental block that keeps pitchers from cutting it loose. If Tommy is like this for another couple turns, he is not going to be the best option in Atlanta. Sooner or later he has to face live fire before he wastes any innings in Atlanta. This team is just fine without him. We’ll see what he thinks of the outing after Mark talks to him. On a team about 9 deep with serviceable starters, he is going to have to step it up.

Having watched Javier Vazquez against the USA, I really have to wonder what Ozzie Guillen’s idea of a “big game” pitcher is exactly.

Chipper is in good spirits and he says he thinks he’ll be able to play by the end of this week. He basically left the Classic because they were going to hold him out for five days and he felt his time would be better served here in camp.

Cox was happy with what he saw from Glavine, who admitted he started to use a little more effort during the second inning. It will be interesting to see how he performs if he becomes less hesitant during his next few outings. He’s slated to face the Mets on Saturday.

The Braves just announced today’s cuts: Francisley Bueno, James Parr, Todd Redmond, Luis Valdez, Steve Marek, Mariano Gomez, Phillip Britton and Matt Kennelly.

No surprises except for Marek. Maybe he will get called up later in the year though. I think he probably should have stayed at camp in my opinion.
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MAREK? HE HAS DONE NOTHING BUT PITCH GREAT. Do you know the reason why he got cut over Jeff Bennett?

I guess this means Logand & O’Flaherty will be our lefty’s out of the bullpen. Happy to see Medlen made the cut.

I heard the White Sox announcers talking on their telecast the other day about how Boone Logan got to the big leagues. It seems he was one of those minor league guys that was just too good to not keep, and they literally pulled him from the minor league clubhouse to the major league one one day in Spring Training. I think he was a single A guy at the time. Some arms just can’t be ignored. He may turn out to be a really good one now that he has matured. They have that guy Thornton on team USA that is throwing 98 mph all the time, so Logan was expendable. Flowers would have to end up as the second coming of Mark McGwire for that deal not to end up good for the Braves. I think Ozzie Guillen considers pitchers to be “that big guy in the middle of the field that the shortstop (the center of the universe) has to look around to see the signs.” Either way we’ll take him and Vazquez.

Marek had a really, really nasty outing last week. He’s also a lot younger than Bennett and could use more minor league action.

Medlen is the guy that Bobby is raving about, I get them mixed up as well having never seen them in person yet. Marek came with Kotchman in the Teixeira deal. Redmond from Pittsburgh in the Adam LaRoche deal.

Mark, when do you think Brandon Jones is going to start getting some respect. He’s putting together a good spring – enough for me to question the Anderson signing…

Are you from West Virginia? My dad’s family is from the Elkins area.

Here are the Grapefruit stats for Marek. 4.0 innings pitched, 2 hits allowed, 3 runs allowed, 0 earned, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. He didn’t really get much of a chance to prove himself.

They have so many pitchers in the mix Marek could have been Cy Young and he would have been told to “take a number”. He has options so he wasn’t a critical part of the evaluation priority. Medlen looks to be a serious upgrade from the Carlyle/Bennett options of last season. Buddy is a great guy and I hope we can trade him to a team that needs him, like Detroit maybe. Bennett just doesn’t have the command that the other options have. All of a sudden making the 2009 Braves staff means for the most part that you are a stud pitcher with great command of your stuff. Funny, 6 months ago they had to settle for Taveras, Dessens, Bennett, Reyes, Parr, Morton, Ring, Julio, Nunez, et al. What a huge upgrade this season. This team is going to be in almost every game with the pitching staff getting assembled right now. Heck, the staff in Gwinnett may be every bit as good as the staff in Atlanta was at the end of last season.

Rother, you hit the nail on the head. Before camp began one of the front office execs said that he didn’t know whether a healthy Chuck James would even have a spot in this year’s rotation at Gwinnett. As this camp has progressed, it’s obvious why that statement was made. Once Charlie Morton returns to health, the Gwinnett rotation could consist of Hanson, Reyes, Morton, Parr and Todd Redmond. Medlen or Bueno could also factor into this mix…Hanson, Reyes and Medlen could all prove to be valuable pieces in Atlanta this year. Last year taught us that you can never have enough pitching. This year we might be able to better understand the true value of having this kind of enviable depth in the pitching department.

I agree that we will be in every game. Our depth at pitching will see to that. I also believe we have enough talent in our lineup to keep us in some games. The big question right now for me is – Do we have the run producers at the plate to keep the other teams out of it? Do we have the offensive capability to match the Mets and Phillies? Honestly… my gut us telling me “No”. Especially with Chipper’s nagging oblique. Even though there’s not a cause for concern within the organization… personally I will be pleasantly shocked if #10 plays more than 110 games with us this season. I know that’s pessimistic, but I can’t help it. I hope I’m wrong. Without him in our lineup… it goes from average to below average. There will be A LOT of close games this year!

eware, yeah, I’m from Wheeling, about 2 hours north of Elkins. The only thing I remember about Elkins is that tempting warehouse that stood just beyond the left field fence.

You’re right Brandon Jones does deserve some respect. Like Reyes, I think he’s arrived in camp with a sense of confidence that wasn’t present last year. If Garret Anderson’s early calf injury is a sign of things to come, Jones could definitely get another shot to prove himself in Atlanta this year.

Well if Chipper goes down, Prado should step in and be a factor. It should be significantly better than last year. It seemed like Lillibridge, Infante, Norton, and one of the backup catchers in the starting lineup everyday. Prado will hopefully get get better, our pitching will surely help us out with little-to-no injuries and a better, more prepared Jurrjens, Kotchman will be better, and Frenchy will be better. It will be a totally different look and we can’t really predict where in the standings we will be. I think we can win 14-20 more games than we did last year because of all the changes.

Yeah – If Frenchy, Kelly, Kotch, and Yunel can have breakout – type years, that will certainly help pick up any slack if Chipper is on again / off again with various injuries. Let’s hope everyone stays healthy and we drive in some runs!

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Mark, that warehouse wasn’t called Friar Tucks, was it? My grandmother used to get a little heated when talking about some “business” in town…
Diaz is putting up some good numbers this spring. But, I haven’t seen his splits of righties vs. lefties. Would you have that stat available. I know it’s a small sample size, but it would be fun to see.

Some odds and ends that will be in the next blog entry: Dale Murphy arrived this morning and will be in camp for the next week…Garret Anderson plans to resume running exercises on Friday. His strained right calf has provided no discomfort while taking batting practice over the past couple of days…Jair Jurrjens and Mike Gonzalez will be pitching today against the WBC-depleted Mets.

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