What to do with Hanson and Schafer?

In a little more than a week, the Braves will announce where Jordan Schafer and Tommy Hanson will begin the season.  Despite the fact that he has the potential to end the season as the most talented member of their starting rotation, Hanson will likely begin the season with Triple-A Gwinnett. 

Hesitance to start Hanson’s arbitration clock serves as only one the reasons the Braves will likely send him to the Minors to begin the year.  The 22-year-old right-hander stands as one the key factors to the organization’s bright future, which extends far beyond the first two months of this season. 

If Hanson were to begin the season as Atlanta’s fifth starter, he would be scheduled to make two starts in April and four more in May.  While with Gwinnett, he’d have the opportunity to make five April starts and then further his maturation process with six May starts.

By the time June arrives, the temptation to bring him to Atlanta will be too great and his days in the Minors will come to a close. 

While providing this regular schedule, the Braves would also be able to limit Hanson’s innings without worrying about how early exits might affect the team’s record.  Hanson has never thrown more than 138 innings during a professional season and just 18 of his starts have occurred above the Class A level.

With five starters in place in Atlanta and Jo-Jo Reyes seemingly capable to provide assistance in Atlanta if needed during the season’s first two months, it makes sense to protect Hanson during the early months and hope that this decision provides dividends when he could make his greatest contributions during the final months and weeks of this season. 

This appears to be the approach the Rays are taking with David Price, who is the only pitcher rated as a greater prospect by Baseball America.  The Rays had enough faith in Price to use him in clutch situations during last year’s American League Championship Series and World Series. 

But they also recognize the value of allowing him to encounter a natural maturation process and thus it looks like the prized left-hander will also begin this season in the International League.  

With Schafer, the Braves have reason to possess a different mindset. The 22-year-old outfielder has provided every indication that he’s the best option to begin this season as the every day center fielder.

In addition, he’s given reason to believe that he’s the best option to use as a leadoff hitter.  In comparison to Josh Anderson, he will provide a greater on-base percentage, much beter pop and comparable baserunning skills. 

From both an offensive and defensive standpoint, Schafer appears to be much more valuable than Anderson or Gregor Blanco. And the fact that he could provide daily contributions provides the reason why the Braves should be much less reluctant to start his arbitration clock ahead of schedule. 

While Hanson might only make 10 starts during the season’s first two months, Schafer could impact games on a much more frequent basis.  The five-tool outfielder has the ability to be a difference maker and the decision to  keep him in the Minors for the season’s first two months could prove to be the difference if the Braves were to come up just a few games short in a postseason race. 

With this being said, I won’t be surprised if the Braves start the season with Anderson in center.  He’s out of options and there are some in the organization who believe Schafer could benefit from a few more months of Minor League seasoning. 

The Braves could ultimately decide to begin the season with Anderson and Matt Diaz serving as their backup outfielders.  But to do this, they’d likely have to send Martin Prado to the Minors and I don’t think they’re in a position where it would make sense to start the year with Omar Infante as the only backup infielder.

Nor do I think they should even contemplate parting ways with Greg Norton.  Over the course of an entire season, his pinch-hitting skills would prove more valuable than whatever Josh Anderson might provide until Schafer is deemed ready. 

If Garret Anderson isn’t ready to begin the season, the Braves could begin the year with Josh Anderson, Matt Diaz, Schafer and Jeff Francoeur as their outfielders.

Or they could prevent having to send Josh Anderson through waivers by opting to begin the season with a roster that includes an 11-man pitching staff and five outfielders (G. Anderson, J. Anderson, Schafer, Francoeur and Diaz)  That would likely mean that Tom Glavine (who isn’t scheduled to start until April 18) and Peter Moylan would begin the season on the disabled list.

There are a number of options to evaulate.  But to me the most logical ones put Hanson in Gwinnett and Schafer in Atlanta to begin the year.  Whatever the case, by the end of the season they’ll likely be together in Atlanta.  

36 Comments

I would like to ask a question to you Mr. Bowman, please answer it because it has not been addressed at all. Whenever Tommy Hanson does indeed become one of our starting pitchers, whether it be now or in a couple months, what does that mean for Tom Glavine, if Hanson is pitching and our other 4 starters are solidified. I understand it is probably a good problem to have, too many quality pitchers, but still won’t that be a tough decision in regard ole Tommy Glavine?

In your analysis you left out B. Jones. Do he and Blanco have options to start in AAA? Are they both “trade bait”? Which one would you say has more value? I hope they keep Jones around, maybe teach him to play third or first while at AAA.

Blanco and B. Jones both have options.

Let’s remember that next in line doesn’t mean much in baseball. Brandon Jones will probably be a solid LF or 4th outfielder, and knock around in the Majors for 10 years. Probably the same for Blanco. However, good teams don’t tie themselves to players who have the potential to be average. Especially when true impact stars are right behind them in the Minors. Schafer and Heyward are going to be stars. That is who room is made for, and moving “nice” pieces to make that happen is just the way it works on successful teams.
As far as Hanson goes, Glavine is going to get his chance unless HE himself pulls the plug. The 138 innings for Hanson is not as big an issue as it looks when you factor in the additional 30-40 innings in the AFL and the All Star games. That puts him in at around 175 for one season plus, and those numbers are a reasonable jumping off point for this season. It just doesn’t make any sense at all to have Hanson in Atlanta if he isn’t pitching every fifth day until June. The Braves will know all they need to about Glavine by then.

With an all right handed starting rotation, maybe Glavine comes in as the long man once a week to flip an all lefty batting order for the Braves if he shows that he can’t get past 5 innings consistently. Maybe he and Jo Jo become the long guys. That would really mess with opposing teams batting orders.

There is really no way the Braves will allow Glavine to throw 4 to 5 innings per start all summer long, it would just kill the bullpen. Tommy knows that as well. The Braves won’t have to play the heavy this time. Tommy has as much class as any person ever to where the “A” on his hat, and he will not ever hurt the team for personal gain. If he is getting it done, everyone benefits, if not, it was a great run and certainly worth the try.

Agreed with your above take rother.

My 2 cents on the CF competition.
I would move J. Anderson ASAP. He’s out of options, that hamstrings the Braves to a certain degree.

Package him with Bennett or one of the other spare arms.

Then we can spend the last two weeks deciding whether we want to go with Schafer out of the chute. If the answer is yes, then great Blanco can play daily in Gwinnett. If the answer by TPTB turns out to be that Schafer needs 4-6 weeks seasoning in AAA, then Blanco can keep the seat warm until then.

We will get more for Anderson right now packaged with a arm that later when Schafer takes over and Braves are trying to move him in a standalone deal to open a spot for Schafer.
Blanco having options prevents that type of logjam situation that forces your hand prematurely.

Blanco is March has been a compelling argument for two years running; Blanco from Apr to Sept, not so much. I hope the Braves remember the 600 plate appearances and don’t go all ga ga over the 15 ABs in the WBC. He is what he showed over the full season, and he is not a legit option for a winning baseball team. If Schafer is the man, move Anderson now and let him take his lumps in Atlanta. His defense alone is good enough to keep him there, and he is better than Blanco at 75% efficiency.

Go ahead and pull the trigger on a minor league 3B or C. It is the right thing to do.

When Soriano reported to the stadium this afternoon, he complained about a strained muscle in his left side. The Braves are awaiting results from further evaluation. But currently they don’t seem too concerned about this being an ailment that would prevent him beginning the season on the big league roster.
This will be a good night to evaluate pitchers…Kawakami will start. Peter Moylan and closer Mike Gonzalez are also scheduled to pitch. Tonight’s surprise appearance will be made by Charlie Morton, who has made just two side sessions since straining his oblique muscle in late Februrary.
The Braves have traditionally brought their injured pitchers back in a slower fashion. In other words, I think there have been some teams that have expressed some interest in Morton and they’ve sent scouts to watch tonight’s appearance.

Does anyone know how long Hanson and Schafer would have to stay in the minors to avoid the super two status? I was hoping J. Anderson would win the starting spot in center to give Schafer some more time at AAA and up J. Andersons trade value. The White Sox are in the market for a center fielder and possibly some pitching. Do they have any prospects of interest?

6 weeks would probably do it, Wisbrave.

Chipper’s oblique is fine and his swing is back…He just drilled and i mean drilled a two-run homer that easily cleared the right field wall.. His two-run homer gave the Braves a 2-0 lead…Kawakami has two strikeouts through three perfect innings.

This comes straight from the MLBPA website: a player can be classified as a “Super Two” and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season….

Six weeks might do it, but I’d say the first or second week of June would definitely prevent them from being arb-eligible after the 2011 season.

Thanks PWHjort and udflyer96, much appreciated.

Thanks brav3, I’ve got to bury that tag like the Jayhawks buried us on Sunday…Josh Anderson is having another rough night. He’s hitless in three at-bats and just grounded into an inning-ending double play….I’d have to say the clock makers, or whatever those people are called, are at least winding Schafer’s arbitration clock.

Man Chipper had a monster hit. He just absolutely crushed it.
I thought McCann and Francoeur would have a homer their selves but they just fell short. That run shouldn’t have happened.
I think that we should try to put someone like Jones or even Blanco in AAA or AA and let them try other positions, like in the infield. Just my opinion. If not, trade one.

Oh and Royce Ring got released by the Cards. lol
Maybe he will find a job somewhere else. Even if you are horrible, if you’re lefty, you will probably find a job.

Chipper showed his outstanding bat control when he directed an outside fastball to left field and raced into second with a double…It’s fun to watch him handle the bat when he’s on and courtesy of these past two at-bats I think we can say he’s certainly escaped his WBC slump.

I was just looking at the Royals roster and look at the former Braves players I found on their Major League Roster.
Ron Mahay
Brayan Pena
Tony Pena
Kyle Davies
Horacio Ramirez
Kyle Farnsworth
They probably have a lot more on their minor league roster.
Oh and on their non-roster invites
Anthony Lerew
Oscar Villarreal
Luis Hernandez
Roman Colon
Amazing right?
They are our AAAA team. We send our players that don’t really have a future there.

This hasn’t been a pretty inning for Gonzalez. His fastball has been clocked at 92 mph. But he’s not missing too many bats. He’s allowed hits to five of the first six hitters that he faced. If Escobar was still in the game, two of those hits might have been outs.

Liked the way Moylan looked tonight, but Gonzalez did not look good, and Morton’s looked worse. Mark, what’s your opinion on Anderson’s AB’s tonight? He’s seemed to be a little anxious to put the ball in play and has ended up getting under a few balls or rolling over the ball to the 2B side.

jmooney, I think that has been Anderson’s problem during the past two Spring Trainings. This year, he said he wasn’t going to put too much pressure on himself. But I definitely think he has and the results have left the door wide open for Schafer to win the starting job.

brave3: Kelly and Escobar were fine. Some of these guys who didn’t play in the WBC have gotten a lot of playing time this year. It was good for them to come over here and at least get a few at-bats under the lights.

jmooney, I think that has been Anderson’s problem during the past two Spring Trainings. This year, he said he wasn’t going to put too much pressure on himself. But I definitely think he has and the results have left the door wide open for Schafer to win the starting job.

brave3: Kelly and Escobar were fine. Some of these guys who didn’t play in the WBC have gotten a lot of playing time this year. It was good for them to come over here and at least get a few at-bats under the lights.

jmooney, I think that has been Anderson’s problem during the past two Spring Trainings. This year, he said he wasn’t going to put too much pressure on himself. But I definitely think he has and the results have left the door wide open for Schafer to win the starting job.

brave3: Kelly and Escobar were fine. Some of these guys who didn’t play in the WBC have gotten a lot of playing time this year. It was good for them to come over here and at least get a few at-bats under the lights.

brave3: Kelly and Escobar were fine. Some of these guys who didn’t play in the WBC have gotten a lot of playing time this year. It was good for them to come over here and at least get a few at-bats under the lights.

brave3: Kelly and Escobar were fine. Some of these guys who didn’t play in the WBC have gotten a lot of playing time this year. It was good for them to come over here and at least get a few at-bats under the lights.

Gonzalez and Cox were both happy about the fact that he was able to consistently amp his fastball to 92 mph…He definitely attempted to overthrow his curveball on multiple occasions and as I said earlier two of his five hits would have likely been outs with Escobar playing short.

I can live with the “I don’t get going until the regular season starts” stuff…but before the exhibition season, I think the Braves would like to see him produce an outing that makes them say, “Wow.”

Mark, that outing made me say “Wow”. Unfortunately, it was followed by a “that sucked”.

PW, that was funny. I literally spit my cereal back in the bowl when I read that.

Hanson, Heyward and Freeman were told this morning that they’re being sent to Minor League camp. Jo-Jo Reyes and Clint Sammons were also affected by this latest round of cuts…There might be some more players to report when the Braves make an official announcement later.

Eh not too surprised. Good job getting the report.
All of those players had great springs. Sammons and Hayward will be on next years roster, Reyes and Hanson will get playing time this year (Sammons could as well if Ross or McCann go down for an extended period of time), and Freeman is set for 2011.

Mark, have you started believing in Kawakami yet? The “moxy over stuff” take a little getting used to, but he really does stay out of trouble pretty well.
Diory is going to really have to work on his defense if he ever wants a sniff in Atlanta. He makes Alfonso Soriano and Manny Ramirez look like skilled fielders. Add his name to the growing list of guys that may be reshuffled in the next couple weeks.
Was Morton’s location just off? I didn’t get to see the 9th as the kids commandeered the television at 9:00 for American Idol. Oh well.

Darion, Heyward and Freeman are the exact same developmentally. They’re both 19 and they pretty much have played on the same teams their entire minor league careers.

Rother, Morton couldn’t keep any of his pitches down in the zone. It’s his first time facing live batters in awhile, though, so I’ll cut him some slack. He was throwing well before the Oblique strain, Bobby says.

That’s kind of what I figured from a first day back. He’ll be fine. I hope he builds on what he learned at the end of last season with the foot planting issue. It would be nice to see him tearing it up at Gwinnett as well. He has some tight breaking stuff.

PW
I don’t really seeing Freeman in Atlanta next year because of Kotchman. Also, Heyward will be, in my opinion, ready for next year. Freeman might need a little more time unless Kotchman is horrible this year or gets hurt. There is nobody holding Jason back and with Garret Anderson gone next year (most likely) he should be able to slide in. Norton will probably be gone as well so you have Matt Diaz there to fill in when needed.

Heyward probably doesn’t make the 2010 opening day roster. To put it as baseball prospectus did, “there’s an outside chance he makes it to the big club before his 21st birthday”. (his 21st birthday occurs after the 2010 season).

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