Braves in town to play Rockies and scout relievers

Instead of beginning this entry with talk about Derek Lowe, it seems more fitting to begin talking about some of the activity the Braves will create before this year’s Trade Deadline expires at the end of this month.

The Braves will be at Coors Field tonight to begin a four-game series against the Rockies and one of their top scouts Jim Fregosi will also be in attendance.  Advance scout Bob Johnson was in Denver this past weekend to touch up some reports about this Rockies bunch that the Braves swept earlier this month in Atlanta.

Fregosi also arrived this weekend and plans to stick around for at least tonight’s game, presumably to look at any of the three right-handed relievers  –  Matt Belisle, Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street —   the Rockies could be willing to deal.

With Street guaranteed  $7.5 million next year and possessing an option for 2013, he likely doesn’t fit in the Braves’ plans. But Belisle, who was once a highly-regarded prospect in the Braves’ organization, and Betancourt could serve as the right-handed setup man who could limit the innings required from Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty down the stretch.

Belisle would be owed approximately $4.5 million through the end of 2012 and Betancourt approximately $5.25 million during this same period.  It might seem like a lot, but don’t forget the Braves will likely once again paying Venters and Craig Kimbrel somewhere around $500,000 next year.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Belisle was one of those top young Braves prospects who annually had a chance to make the start in the exhibition season opener against Georgia or Georgia Tech.  Now 31, he has become a pretty reliable right-handed reliever in the Rockies bullpen.  He posted a 2.93 ERA in 76 appearances last year and has posted a 3.46 ERA in 44 appearances this year.

As can happen with relievers, Belisle’s statistics were severely damaged by one bad outing, when he allowed six earned runs and seven hits in just two-thirds of an inning against the Royals on July 3 at Coors Field.    He has combined to allow one run and three hits in the four appearances that have followed.

When dealing with a Rockies pitcher, it’s always best to look what they have done away from the spacious Coors Field.  In the 54 road appearances he has made dating back to the beginning of 2010, Belisle has posted a 2.55 ERA and allowed opponents a .230 batting average.

Betancourt seemed to be running out of gas as he posted a 9.28 ERA and allowed opponents a .375 batting average in his final appearances before the All-Star break.   This should definitely be viewed as a concern, especially for a 36-year-old reliever.

So while Betancourt and Street, who has converted 26 of his 28 save opportunities, might fit the description of the kind of pitcher the Braves want to add to their bullpen.   Belisle currently seems to be the most likely Rockies reliever to end up in Atlanta.

The Braves have shown some interest in the Rockies’ Ryan Spilborghs in the past and he fits the description of the versatile right-handed hitting outfielder the Braves are seeking.  But  Spilborghs has been inconsistent at the plate this year and it doesn’t seem like the Rockies are interested in moving him.

It also seems like the Braves and a number of other interested teams can cross Michael Cuddyer’s name off their wish list.  The Twins are back in the thick of the American League Central race and it doesn’t appear they’re interested in moving Cuddyer.

So this brings us back to Lowe, who will start tonight’s series opener for the Braves.  But instead of focusing on the fact he’s 3-5 with a 5.53 ERA in 10 career starts at Coors Field, it seems time to once again look at the possibility that the Braves could move Lowe before this month concludes.

(This was the entry I posted earlier today to the MLB.com Trade Deadline Blog.  Check the blog for updates from our reporters.)

A recent FoxSports.com report indicated the Tigers have shown some interest in Detroit native Derek Lowe.  This has obviously led some to debate whether the Braves would be able to trade Lowe before this year’s Trade Deadline.

If they could find a suitor willing to pay all or at least a significant portion of the $20 million owed to Lowe through the end of the 2012 season, the Braves would certainly be willing to move him and use the money saved to attempt to significantly upgrade their offense with a right-handed bat.

In other words, they’re taking the same approach they have most of the past two years with the veteran hurler.

After Lowe struggled through the 2009 season, the Braves diligently tried to trade him before determining they needed to instead trade Javier Vazquez.   Lowe’s name wasn’t  bounced around much before last year’s Trade Deadline.  But that might have had something to do with the fact it’s hard to move a pitcher who carries a 4.53 ERA into July and is still owed $35 million over the final 2 1/2 seasons of his contract.

After Lowe went 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in five September starts and pitched well in last year’s postseason, the Braves were once again willing to listen to potential suitors this past winter.  Now they find themselves in the same position.

There is always a chance a pitching-hungry team with financial flexibility would take a chance on Lowe with the understanding he has often pitched well down the stretch.

But the Braves have not yet had any serious talks with teams about Lowe and right now it doesn’t appear there is much reason to believe he will be traded before the end of this month.

80 Comments

Any word on Braves trying to pick up Beltran from the Mets?

Lets hope not.

We’ll give em Nate, KK and Lowe. I’d love to have Beltran on the Bench or starting in Left.

I remember last year Mark was scouting around for some nicknames for Heyward. Well I have a few:

Jason Hurtward
The man of glass

Julio is No. 3 Prospect in the new listing by Baseball Prospectus.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14534

I’ll hang out here tonight. DOB’s blog isn’t looking like a hospitable place.

Oh Jesus, Fredi has put Nate in right. Can he even get it back to the infield from there? What’s wrong with DOB’s blog? Is it thick and thicker as usual?

Worse, Bill. Like Zidane here, they’re currently blaming Heyward and calling him a complete bust (at age 21, no less) for being out of the lineup. Like being hit in the foot by a 99-mph fastball is something you can shake off and get back out there and patrol the expanses of Coors Field.
I’d rather listen to my 3-week-old daughter scream throughout the game than read the comments over there when they get like that.

Vs 4 RH pitchers this series, we should really win the series as long as our players dont swing for the fences every at bat. I dont really understand Hinske playing left and nate right, seen as hinske is primarily a right fielder. Any ideas why fredi did this?

You know Schafer makes it look easy in CF. When he settles in he is gonna make some amazing plays.

Schafer is fast but he is so far below Victorino in centre. He is above average CF but definatly not someone who is going to win gold glove.

Zip, all the baseball guys agree with me. Go read Marks new article(on MLB.com) explains what I have been saying quite eloquently. And Blondie raises his OBP because he is hitting in the 8 hole.

Actually the 8 hole is a place in the line up which usually has a low OBP. Check your stats.

Actually, 8th-place batters have the second highest OBP in Atlanta’s lineups this year, at .350. Check YOUR stats.

You are an idiot Zippy. Pitchers pitch around the 8 hole hitter because the pitcher is 9th. Just because some lousy hitters hit there doesn’t that is why their OBP is low. Actually a good 8 hole hitter SHOULD have a lower OBP and try to drive in more runs.The last thing you want to do is draw a walk, when the pitcher is due up. Nate doesn’t seem to have gotten that point yet. You really need to learn some things about the game Zippy before you spout off.

So what your basically saying is that the 8th hole is the hardest spot to hit in the line up? Interesting.

No that isn’t what I said. Don’t put words in my mouth. Especially not with that keen intellect of yours.

Lag – check the NL. If you just check the braves then all you see is that nate has a high OBP.

I checked the 8th place in the order, not just Nate. Doing the same for the NL:
ARI – .338
ATL – .350
CHC – .324
CIN – .329
COL – .332
FLA – .310
HOU – .267
LAD – .293
MIL – .319
NYM – .325
PHI – .318
PIT – .306
SDP – .268
SFG – .314
STL – .316
WSN – .277
So Atlanta gets on base more from the 8-hole than any other team in the NL… by a considerable margin. I, and anyone else here, can live with that stat.

Not Bill. Remember, he runs when Nate does well.

I’m used to Bill, Brandon. lol

If OBP won games this would all be well and good. But please note, Houston(best example I could find) has more runs and more RBI’s than we do out of the 8 hole. Unfortunately you have to do more than just draw a walk in front of the pitcher. YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY SCORE RUNS TO WIN!!!!!

Freddie loves him some Rockies.

And the Cubs are beating the Frillies 3-1.

I wish this Nate vs Schafer crap would end. We get it Bill, believe me, you’re not a fan of blonds. Zidane, you hate HGH alleged users, we know. Let’s quit crying about it. Nate is helping the team, Schafer is helping the team, but neither are doing it very well.

I think it was you that started it Brandie, turn that laser focus on yourself. McLouth doesn’t help this team. Watch the pay cut he takes in the offseason.

Lest Bill forget Nate helped win a game just yesterday. Grab a tissue and watch the game.

Ok I agree Brandon. Case closed. Lets support all the players. There is still room to debate who should start in centre but that decision wont need to be made till after this road trip. I hope schafer produces big and so does nate and then we have some good outfield depth :)

“Jason Hurtward”? Hi-larious. I would keep my day job if I were you, if you even have one.

More personal abuse. Cool.

Zippy’s day consists of.
Mom wakes him up
Goes to Junior High and gets mediocre grades
Comes homes plays video baseball\
Harrasses us for the rest of the evening
Falls asleep with his Zippy Monkey.

Or Zippy attended one of the best universities in the world, and within 2 years is self employed and making net profit after tax of $200k p/a.

With a keen intellect like yours Zippy, I am sure you will earn what you deserve.

I love it, even he calls himself Zippy now, ROTFL

Freddies OPS for the last month- .951

Nice catch Nate.

yeah, bare handed too!

Wow Pherris, Doc Halladay only went 4 innings tonight. The Phils bull pen is in deep doo doo.

I wish Pherris could see all these Braves shirts We’re seeing at Coors Field. Braves country is nation wide.

It was Free Dentures Night.

According to the Phillies’ website, Halladay left the game because of heat issues. I’ve never seen a Braves pitcher get too hot to pitch… or at best, I can’t recall one.

It’s 6-1 now, Go cubbies.

Thanks for those stats LAG. Would be interested to see a break down of slugging too.

Ask and ye shall receive.
Per Baseball-Reference.com:
ARI – .432
ATL – .377
CHC – .401
CIN – .363
COL – .332
FLA – .356
HOU – .329
LAD – .303
MIL – .422
NYM – .311
PHI – .348
PIT – .327
SDP – .297
SFG – .367
STL – .342
WSN – .307
So from the 8-hole, the Braves are 4th in SLG.

Thanks LAG. This shows, I think, that the braves arent failing be aggresive in the 8 hole.

Gonzo- the human popup.

Nate looks lost at the plate right now. I would give him tomorrow off and give hinske another start.

Nice to see Nate get that walk so he could score ahead of the RBI machine, Derek Lowe.

You really think the rockies were pticher around an 8th hitter with 4 HR all year in a 6 run game with two outs and nobody on to let the braves clear the pitcher and turn over their order for the next inning? Seriously, give the guy some credit. That walk helped the team.

You don’t want to clear the pitcher late in the game. If he was scheduled to lead off the next inning , he would get pinch hit for anyway. Do i really need to teach you ALL the fundamentals, Zip?

yeah, that goes to the earlier discussion of the 8 hitter’s OBP

Like I said in the previous post. OBP is a shit stat for a number 8 hitter. Houston who has the lowest OBP from the 8 hole has scored more runs and driven in more runs that Atlanta that has the best OBP. Whoops. we don’t really care about that scoring stuff though do we?

Good timing for a Lowe low scoring game given our trade efforts

Would be nice if he could get a complete game too. Save the pen. We havent got an off day for a while.

Any way we could get Matt Diaz back from Pittsburg?

+1 on that Barry.

Agreed. Hey u guys know that his brother is a singer. Christian music.

Bleeders. Nice game D Lowe.

“Like I said in the previous post. OBP is a shit stat for a number 8 hitter. Houston who has the lowest OBP from the 8 hole has scored more runs and driven in more runs that Atlanta that has the best OBP. Whoops. we don’t really care about that scoring stuff though do we?”

The reason for that, Bill, is probably because the 8th hitter would get on. Then get bunted over for our two worst hitters (OPS) schafer and gonzo (who were in the 1 and 2 spots) to not drive the 8th hitter in.

Bunted over? There were two outs moron.

There arent always 2 outs though. Not everytime a braves hitter has got on base in the 8th spot has there been 2 outs.

Having said start Hinske, its important to have outfield range in this park.

Schafer has a real problem with striking out on high heat

Hey is Rafael Betancourt related to Christian(our minor leaguer)? I know we are after Rafael as a RH relief option. He looked good tonite.

Guess not. It seems they spell it differently.

If we are looking for a 4th OF as a right handed bat, do we dare look at Frenchy again? He can’t be making that much money and we know of his cannon with occassional power….just a thought. I wouldn’t give up too much for him though.

Supposedly the frillies are looking at him.

If no one has noticed, he does have 15 steals already this season. Maybe he’s trying hard to work some speed into his game, give him another dimension to attract potential suitors.

For anyone that wants to see some of my most recent poetry please see the Zo Zone(Frilly blog).

http://zozone.mlblogs.com/2011/07/19/halladay-absolutely-will-make-next-start/#comment-15876

Adam Rubin, beat writer for the Mets just made these tweets consecutively – “Mets 12 out in division behind Phillies, 9 1/2 behind Braves in wild card. And I believe #Braves sincerely are interested in Carlos Beltran. Seriously, does it matter if the Mets traded Beltran to the Braves over the Giants? Does it sting more if Atlanta wins pennant? It’s not like they’re trading David Wright to Braves, where they’d have to face him in future seasons in that uniform when it matters.”

ESPN was scrolling that the Met’s are willing to pay Beltran’s salary this season if he is traded. In order to do that, I am sure they are going to want more than what we should rightfully give up. Then we are the ones having to face them in future seasons in that uniform when it matters.

I’m not saying Beltran couldn’t help us out. Just that we should be very careful in dealing with the Mets.

Well absolutly dont need beltran because its questionable whether his body can hold up playing centre and we dont need a corner outfielder.

Agree Katjam. Would hate to give away prospects to a division rival we would see several times a season for a rental player. ONly way it would work is if we signed Beltran.. and even then, with his injuries…. I can’t see it being worth it.

Wow, Awfully quiet in here with no PenisPain. I guess he won’t come see us after the Majic Halladay keels over and the Frillies get spanked. I think we have found the solution to some of our problems, now if we could just find something that will make Zippy go away.

Well we all know what would make you go away. A big day for nate mclouth. Although your new solution is when he does anything good you just say everyone gets lucky sometimes.

Honestly, I would rather have Frenchy than Beltran or McLouth….. But Pence would trump all of those options, but that is a pipe dream.

Pence, Pence, Pence………..

Nice!

I have no confidence in our organization to get Pence. However I think Frenchy is at least a possibility due to the working relationship with the Royals organization. I guess the choice in this deal would be do we have McLouth or Frenchy as our 4th OF. my vote would be Frenchy.

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