Tag Archives: Jonny Venters

Season Preview: NL East


Onto the National League, starting with the East division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central and AL West.

Last Year’s Records
Philadelphia – 97-65
Atlanta – 91-71
Florida – 80-82
New York – 79-83
Washington – 69-93

Notable Additions

Atlanta – Dan Uggla

Florida – Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Javier Vazquez, John Buck

New York – Brad Emaus, Ronny Paulino

Philadelphia – Cliff Lee

Washington – Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Tom Gorzelanny

Notable Losses

Atlanta – Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Derrek Lee, Melky Cabrera, Takashi Saito

Florida – Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, Ronny Paulino

New York – John Maine, Hisanori Takahashi, Pedro Feliciano

Philadelphia – Jayson Werth

Washington – Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn

My Thoughts

Atlanta – This is a playoff team from last year that has upgraded itself at 2B (Uggla), and will look for growth from Jason Heyward in his second season. The team will plug in Freddie Freeman to start at 1B, and hope that he can have even a partially similar season to Heyward’s rookie year. The pitching remains solid, behind Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, and Jair Jurrjens. The biggest role that seems to be up in the air coming into Spring Training is the closer, with Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters competing for the job.

Florida – As they prepare to move into their new stadium in 2012, this is a young team who should continue to be exciting for the next few seasons. It appears that 3B Matt Dominguez is likely to be the starter this year, despite not playing a single day in the Majors yet. However, the loss of Dan Uggla‘s bat in their lineup could cause a major hole in terms of power and run production. They’re also hoping that Javier Vazquez will rebound with a return to the NL East, and also provide some more veteran leadership with Josh Johnson in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that they stand a great chance of winning the division, but they could surprise some people in a tough division.

New York – With new GM Sandy Alderson on board, 2011 is going to be a partial rebuilding season. They did not make any substantial changes to their roster, and will look to get bounceback seasons from players like Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes instead. Ace Johan Santana is expected to be out until midseason, and the team is going to be looking for nice performances from Chris Young and Chris Capuano.

Philadelphia – The Phillies went out and made what was probably the biggest surprise move of the offseason, inking Cliff Lee to a 5 year, $120 million contract. With their four aces in the starting rotation, they definitely look like the team to beat in the NL East. However, the injuries are already starting to pile up, as Chase Utley has yet to play in Spring Training, and potential right fielder Domonic Brown will miss 3-6 weeks after having hand surgery. If this team can stay healthy, I don’t think there’s a team in the NL that can compete with them. But that is a gigantic if.

Washington – The Nationals made one of the biggest splashes in the free agent market, and it was completely unexpected. Jayson Werth signed a 7 year contract with the team, and will play right field for the first few years of the contract. The team is still not ready to compete, but they will look for continued growth from Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. Jordan Zimmermann will also look to have an injury free campaign, and while they will miss Stephen Strasburg this season, he should be back in 2012 from his injuries.

Overall Thoughts

The NL East really comes down to the two teams at the top of the pile. The Braves and Phillies really seem like they will be the only teams that are likely to win the division or the Wild Card. The Mets and Nationals just simply aren’t ready, and I don’t believe that the Marlins are ready to compete quite yet either.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Philadelphia
2. Atlanta
3. Florida
4. Washington
5. New York

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The Season’s Top Stories: The Rookie Class of 2010


Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing some of the top stories that were in the newly completed regular season. One of the biggest stories of the 2010 regular season has to be the rookie class that emerged throughout the season. This group of rookies could very well be a once in a generation group of players.

Starting Pitchers

The most hyped player to come into the Majors in a long time clearly was Stephen Strasburg, the top pick from the 2009 draft. The hype continued to build as the season progressed and it became clear that he would make his debut during the season. June 8th was the night, against the Pirates: 14 strikeouts, 0 earned runs. Strasburg nearly lived up to the hype, going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in just 68 innings pitched. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely due to an elbow injury, and ended up needing Tommy John surgery. Strasburg will miss the 2011 season as well.

Other Top Performers:

  • Jaime Garcia will most likely finish near the top of the Rookie of the Year voting after posting a 13-8 record with a 2.70 ERA in 28 starts for the Cardinals.
  • Mike Leake of the Reds came up and made an instant impact despite never pitching in the minor leagues. He started off hot, but trailed off a bit at the end and finished with an 8-4 record with a 4.23 ERA in 24 appearances (22 starts).
  • His teammate Travis Wood came up on July 1st, and pitched well down the stretch for the Reds. He finished with a 5-4 record with a 3.51 ERA in just over 100 innings on the season.
  • Madison Bumgarner was called upon about halfway through the season to take the #5 spot in the Giants’ rotation, and ran with it from there. He went 7-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 18 starts for the NL West champs.
  • Wade Davis of the Rays threw 168 innings of effective ball, posting a 12-10 record with a 4.07 ERA and 113 strikeouts.
  • Brian Matusz of the Orioles had been my preseason choice for the AL Rookie of the Year award, but unfortunately didn’t really pitch well enough to earn that award. Part of that was his team, as he went 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 175 plus innings. His numbers should improve next season as the team matures under its new manager.

Relief Pitchers

Neftali Feliz didn’t make the starting rotation out of spring training for the Rangers, and it really looks like that could have been the best thing for both him and the team. Feliz was given the closer’s job on April 12th after Frank Francisco struggled in the first week, and never gave the job back. He finished the season with a 2.73 ERA and 40 saves along with a strikeout per inning of work.

Other Top Performers:

  • Jonny Venters helped to bring some stability to the back end of the Braves’ bullpen, appearing in 79 games and striking out 93 in just 83 innings. He looks like he could be a future closer in waiting for the Braves.
  • John Axford was called upon to fill in for a struggling future Hall of Famer in Trevor Hoffman, and never really gave the job back. He went 8-2 with 24 saves and a 2.48 ERA and 76 strikeouts in just 58 innings pitched for the Brewers.

Catchers

There was concern whether or not it might cost the Giants a chance at the playoffs by their decision to not call up Buster Posey until late May.  The top prospect played well enough to really make that decision look questionable, hitting .305/.357/.505 with 18 homeruns and 67 runs batted in. The team made the playoffs, and even traded their Opening Day catcher to make sure he played every day.

Other Top Performers:

  • Carlos Santana came up on June 11th, and proceeded to show why he was considered a top prospect overall. In just 46 games this season, he hit .260/.401/.467 with 6 homeruns and 22 runs batted in. His season ended on August 2nd when he broke his leg blocking the plate, but should return next season and become one of the top catchers in the league.
  • John Jaso remains one of the more unusual catchers in the league, as the Rays consistently hit him leadoff. His .372 OBP probably helped that a lot, and he split time with Kelly Shoppach during the season.

Corner Infielders

It was originally thought at the beginning of the season that 1B Justin Smoak of the Rangers would establish himself as the next great hitter to start in Arlington. He struggled mightily during the season, earning himself a demotion back to AAA and eventually his inclusion in the trade to the Mariners for Cliff Lee. Smoak ended up finishing the season with just a .218 batting average but 13 home runs. He should do better next season as well, and will likely be the given the starting 1B job by the Mariners.

Other Top Performers:

  • Ike Davis was surprisingly called up in mid April, and continued to hold the 1B job throughout the season for the Mets. He finished the year with a .264/.351/.440 line with 19 homeruns and 71 runs batted in.
  • Chris Johnson of the Astros was given the starting 3B job after Pedro Feliz struggled, and finished the year with a .308 batting average and 11 homeruns. He should go into 2011 as the prohibitive starter at the position.
  • Danny Valencia was called up at the start of June to play 3B, and never gave the job back. He hit .311 with 7 homeruns, and has provided solid defense for the Twins as well.
  • Pedro Alvarez was called up in mid June to replace the struggling Andy LaRoche, and gave glimpses into what his future holds. He hit .256, but did hit 16 home runs and drove in 64 in just 95 games.

Middle Infielders

Starlin Castro may well have been one of the biggest surprises of the season. He started the season with the Cubs’ AA affiliate, hitting very well and was called up by the Major League team on May 7th to try and inject some more energy and offense into the lineup. Despite being just 20 years old, he hit .300 with 10 stolen bases on the season, and should continue to improve next season.

Other Top Performers:

  • Neil Walker was widely viewed as a bit of a lost prospect, stuck behind current starter Andy LaRoche and future starter Pedro Alvarez at 3B. The team instead asked him to try playing 2B, and his bat took off. He hit .296/.349/.462 with 12 homeruns and 66 runs batted in for the Pirates in just 110 games.
  • Ian Desmond was given the starting shortstop job for the Nationals out of Spring Training, and while he had his struggles with the glove (34 errors), his bat was solid with a .269 batting average, 10 homeruns, and 17 stolen bases.

Outfielders

The top prospect in the game coming into the season was widely viewed as Braves’ OF Jason Heyward, and he did not disappoint. He made the team out of Spring Training, which was unexpected, and proceeded to hit well across the season. He finished the year with a .277/.393/.456 line with 18 home runs, 72 runs batted in, and 11 stolen bases. The Braves are going to be extremely happy with Heyward’s production for years to come.

Other Top Performers:

  • Austin Jackson is likely going to win the AL Rookie of the Year award after hitting .293 with 27 stolen bases and playing good defense in centerfield for the Tigers all season long. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next year, as his full season numbers were propped up a bit by a huge start of the season this year.
  • Jose Tabata was a prospect that the Pirates received as a part of the Xavier Nady trade, and showed why he was so highly thought of. He played in 102 games, hitting .299 with 19 stolen bases and 61 runs scored.

In many seasons, nearly all of these rookies would have been Rookie of the Year awards recipients, but with so many top players this year some may not even get votes in the awards proceedings. I’ll be posting my votes for the AL and NL Willie Mays awards (Rookie’s of the Year) in the next few days as well.

Original Draft Series: #1 – Atlanta Braves


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #1: Atlanta Braves

General Managers(since 1994)

John Schuerholz (1994-2007): 1298-902
Frank Wren (2008-Current): 158-166

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
1 3 11 11 1 3 1 0

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Brian McCann 2002 – 2nd Rd 8 5 All Star Appearances, 3 Silver Sluggers
741 gm, .290/.360/.491, 111 HR, 463 RBI
Currently with Org.
1B Adam LaRoche 2000 – 29th Rd 6+1 457 gm, .281/.346/.512, 77 HR, 253 RBI Traded to PIT – 1/19/07
2B Martin Prado
Int’l FA – 2001 9 1 All Star Appearance
389 gm, .309/.357/.459, 29 HR, 159 RBI, 9 SB
Currently with Org.
3B Chipper Jones 1990 – 1st Rd (1) 20 1999 NL MVP, 2 Silver Sluggers, 6 All Star Appearances
2261 gm, .306/.405/.536, 436 HR, 1491 RBI, 147 SB
Currently with Org.
SS Rafael Furcal
Int’l FA – 1996 9 2000 NL ROY, 1 All Star Appearance
817 gm, .284/.348/.409, 57 HR, 292 RBI, 189 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/31/05
LF Jeff Francoeur 2002 – 1st Rd (23) 7 1 Gold Glove
631 gm, .266/.308/.424, 78 HR, 359 RBI, 14 SB
Traded to NYM – 7/10/09
CF Andruw Jones Int’l FA – 1993 14 5 All Star Appearances, 1 Silver Slugger, 10 Gold Gloves
1761 gm, .263/.342/.497, 368 HR, 1117 RBI, 138 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/31/07
RF Jason Heyward
2007 – 1st Rd (14) 3 1 All Star Appearance
128 gm, .288/.403/.483, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 9 SB
Currently with Org.
DH Mark DeRosa 1996 – 7th Rd 8 393 gm, .266/.318/.371, 17 HR, 99 RBI, 6 SB Non-Tendered – 12/21/04
SP Adam Wainwright 2000 – 1st Rd (29) 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to STL – 12/13/03
SP Kevin Millwood
1993 – 11th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance
75-46, 3.73 ERA, 1004.1 IP, 840 K, 303 BB
Traded to PHI – 12/20/02
SP Tommy Hanson 2005 – 22nd Rd 5 21-15, 3.32 ERA, 311.2 IP, 276 K, 97 BB Currently with Org.
SP Kyle Davies
2001 – 4th Rd 6 14-21, 6.15 ERA, 237 IP, 172 K, 126 BB Traded to KC – 7/31/07
SP Kris Medlen
2006 – 10th Rd 4 9-7, 3.90 ERA, 175.1 IP, 155 K, 51 BB Currently with Org.
RP Matt Harrison
2003 – 3rd Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 7/31/07
RP Charlie Morton
2002 – 3rd Rd 6 4-8, 6.15 ERA, 74.2 IP, 48 K, 41 BB Traded to PIT – 6/3/09
RP Blaine Boyer
2000 – 3rd Rd 9 6-9, 5.46 ERA, 117 IP, 105 K, 47 BB Traded to STL – 4/20/09
RP Jonny Venters
2003 7 4-2, 1.81 ERA, 74.2 IP, 83 K, 34 BB Currently with Org.
RP Kenshin Kawakami
Int’l FA – 2009 2 8-22, 4.32 ERA, 243.2 IP, 164 K, 89 BB Currently with Org.
CL Neftali Feliz
Int’l FA – 2005 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 7/31/07
BN Yunel Escobar
2005 – 2nd Rd 5 446 gm, .291/.368/.403, 29 HR, 183 RBI, 17 SB Traded to TOR – 7/14/10
BN Elvis Andrus
Int’l FA – 2005 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 7/31/07
BN Kelly Johnson
2000 – 1st Rd (38) 9 490 gm, .264/.346/.430, 45 HR, 206 RBI, 29 SB Non-Tendered – 12/12/09
BN Garrett Jones
1999 – 14th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Released – 5/21/02
BN Jarrod Saltalamacchia
2003 – 1st Rd (36) 4 47 gm, .284/.333/.411, 4 HR, 12 RBI Traded to TEX – 7/31/07

June Amateur Draft

The Braves have done extremely well in identifying talent in the amateur draft, with Chipper Jones represent the glory days of the past and Jason Heyward the unfulfilled future that is to come. And in between they have had a lot of solid Major Leaguers in Brian McCann, Adam Wainwright, Kevin Millwood, Yunel Escbar, and Adam LaRoche. The key to them being my top team however is the fact that with few exceptions, they have gotten this value for the Braves themselves, and only Adam Wainwright has had extreme success with another organization.

International Free Agency

The Braves have had their fair share of international free agent signees, with Andruw Jones clearly providing the most value to the Braves themselves. Unfortunately, the trade to acquire Mark Teixeira didn’t quite work out as planned, as they gave up a starting shortstop (Andrus) and an All-Star closer (Feliz) in the trade, along with 3 other valuable players. They don’t always make the big splash it appears, but they do end up with quite a few solid players as a result of their efforts.

Overall Grade

A+. To me, the Braves are in a class by themselves for this project. There was no difficulty in filling out the roster for this organization, and many of the bench players would have been considered starters for a lot of the other teams. The on-the-field success has shown that they have known what they are doing for quite a while, and their ability to make trades (although they didn’t always work out), and retain their talent has been crucial to their success.