A Brave Path for 2012

The Atlanta Braves 2011 should be remembered as the greatest meltdown since the WWF career of Adam Bomb, but instead its overshadowed by the joyus Beer and Chickenfest in Beantown, well that and the Atlanta sports media is so enamored with Matt, Mike, and Mark that they couldn’t truly examine what happened in September,  but what is more depressing is that is just the beginning of a long 2012 in the city of Medicore, Mundane, and Morons.
I am a Braves Die Hard I live, eat, and sleep baseball its my 2nd most obnoxious passion to only Pro Wrestling (which is dead) so for me to watch what transpired this past season I saw the writing on the wall back in July.  The Braves offense wasn’t a joke but it wasn’t very good.  Its pitching was splendid and honestly a little too splendid.  Jair was a  Cy Young candidate despite his FIP (suck that smart marks) and Tommy Hanson was looking like a breakout in his 3rd pro season.  Tim Hudson bounced back, D-Lowe was consistent and inconsistent all at the same time and Freddi kept picking up the AT&T Call to the Bullpen.  It was July that I said this bullpen is good but man is he using them a little too often.  Honestly it was like this “a guy consistently uses the I forgot my wallet can you cover dinner the girl says of course well eventually the girl he is with also has no money and then well its time to skip on the tab and don’t worry you weren’t getting laid either way.  Freddi was using his bullpen so much Bobby Cox was getting tired of watching Eric O and Johnny V.  Plus the slump of Jason Heyward was downright frighting.  So this was the good the bad and the ugly.  Now is the Reality

2012 the Atlanta Braves will finish 4th if the Mets are as bad as they look on paper.

I know many Atlanta fans can’t believe a Braves fan thinks this team will be worse than Washington or Florida er I mean MIAMI, but yes I am serious.  The team hasn’t upgraded a single position and there is still a giant blister on the hot corner that just keeps popping up year after year.  If only Chipper and Huddy could get caught with some cheap Southern Whiskey and some fried catfish so Buster Olney might scream about the melt down.  This team is expecting too many bouncebacks from too many hitters that are at the age of not much left.  Dan Uggla is a 240 hitter with 30-32 Hrs that is what he did last year.  Brian McCann is an over worked catcher who had lasik surgery and sadly his decline is coming around the mountain.  Martin Prado is a 290-300 hitter he will improve over last year.  Michael Bourne gets a full year and guess what Freddi doesn’t call steals or hit and runs so don’t expect more than 35 swipes.  Pastornicky could be the greatest slap hitting rookie shortstop since Pat Listach or he could be Rafi Belliard either way don’t expect too much.  Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward are the 2 that will carry but sadly the man that buries the team is the 40 year old DEER HUNTER.  Chipper is a liability, and until someone says its time to go he will keep Favre’ing it just to show us he still got it.

The Braves are rebuilding the fans don’t realize it because Atlanta doesn’t care.  This won’t be a 100 loss team but it will struggle to 500 ball as the Phils, the Fish, and the Nats have upgraded in every way possible while the Braves stayed the course and that is a path of least resistance, and not exactly a positive from a team that blew the Wild Card lead of 8 games in 30 days.  Damn’t it someone get Freddi a bottle Evan Williams in the Clubhouse.  Sorry Atlanta but Kenny Powers said it best


Fantasy GMs The Art of Sounding Stupid

It all started in the winter of 2009, a comment on a Fangraphs page that was so insanely stupid I realized Smart baseball fans were only smart in their knowledge of Sabrmetrics.

“The Atlanta Braves should trade Jair Jurrjens to LA Dodgers for James Loney, because Braves needed a First Baseman and then the Braves should sign Ben Sheets.”

Should I even quantify the following 2010 numbers to back up the absurdity of this idea or should I just let it marinate on your brain.  Jair Jurrjens is the quiet unassuming 3 to 3.90 ERA but yet JAIR strikes no one out and in the world of a Fantasy GM JAIR is just a 4th starter, but then something amazing happens every season the kid defies STAT logic and he pitches like a #2 and at times better than that.  The past 2 years Jair has had some lower body issues but still manages to start 20 games and still manages to post ERA’s that baffle the stat minded FANTASY GM.  He has to regress they say but time and again he does not.  His Fastball is losing Velocity they shout, but somehow it sinks more and his ground balls find gloves.  Which in itself is baffling considering the BRAVES porous defense with Chipper and Uggla managing the Hot Corner and the Keystone, and lets be honest Alex Gonzales isn’t something to write home about, and now in 2011 as the Winter Meetings approach Jair is having his name tossed again by FANTASY GMs.

I could go on and on about Jair, but this isn’t to condemn stat geeks for not liking Jair when its obvious they throw out numbers, and scouting terms like a wrestling smart mark likes to say KAYFABE, but its to show that FANTASY GMs are just that FANS.  They watch the game just like you and I.  They play Fantasy Baseball just like you and I.  They keep up with Stats just like you and I, but some how they deem themselves the smartest guys in the room.  They check up MLBTradeRumors.com they discuss the day to day operations, and they comment about how they know why someone is good and why someone isn’t and they can back it up with their WAR stat.  Everything that is usually uttered from the mouths of a FANTASY GM is nothing but hyperbole and hope.  A wing and a prayer and usually makes no sense.  A Fantasy GM takes into no account the market value of a player, they do not understand payroll, and they speak as if they only understand baseball as if the real game itself was played with ROTO RULES.

Last night it became apparent to me that Fantasy GMs the Baseball smart marks were becoming nothing more than NERDS when I was directed to a comment thatit would take 2 of the Braves top 4 pitching prospects, Johnny Venters, and Martin Prado to land MIKE TROUT Angels CF Prospect.  On Paper that trade is almost as lopsided as the trade that gave the Braves Mark Teixara and sadly TEX was a proven commodity where Mike Trout could be Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Mickey Mantle, Dale Murphy, or JEREMY REED.  Jeremy Reed is in caps to prove a point.  Many baseball smart marks remember him as the can’t miss OF prospect of the Chicago White Sox.  He was the 4th rated Prospect in 2004 right behind Joe Mauer, BJ Upton, and Rickie Weeks.  That midseason Reed was the main haul in a Freddy Garcia trade with 2 other prospects Miguel Olivo and Mike Morse, sadly Jeremy Reed missed and so to could Mike Trout, and thats what prospects are.  Prospects are fun to watch, and to think man this kid could be great, but sadly its like raising chickens, out of an incubator.

Fantasy GMs don’t see it like that they attach to a guy they love that guy that keep him on their fantasy roster until the next young prospect comes along and they toss him aside.  I remember 4 years ago when Jair was the Braves ACE you were not getting James Loney for him, and now these fantasy GMs don’t even think the kid is worth James Loney.  So keep it at Fantasy GMs you keep me laughing when nothing else does perhaps the Braves should trade Prado and Venters for Danny Hultzen right.



OMAR coming (better run)

As I sit here using free wifi at McDonalds after purchasing a double cheeseburger and a small soda with some penny rolls.  I log onto Craigslist to continue in vain a job hunt that is leaving me one step closer to the bottle, and one self inflicted gun shot wound from meeting Chris Benoit.  Unemployment will cause a crazy man to go absolutely insane and that is what is happening to me, but then again being a GM will also make you go Insane except for the case of Omar Minaya who might have already been insane before the Montreal Expos ever gave this man his first GM job.

I am in no means trying to make Omar look like a bad guy but his eye for talent is about as good as Brittney Spears ear for music, its very questionable.  And just like Ms Spears she keeps receiving opportunity after opportunity.  Recently Omar has been rumored to be heading North of the Border to Toronto to work with the Scouting department.  This rumor seems like an oxymoron to me the guy who gave Oliver Perez 12 million dollars to remain a New York Met is being asked to evaluate talent.  This has to be an April’s Fools joke, whats next Lackey, Lester, and Beckett check into Alcoholics Anonymous and are sponsored by Jake the Snake Roberts.  Omar Minaya ironically enough is similar to the OMAR character in the Wire (yes another Wire Reference) Omar doesn’t rob from those not in the Game of baseball nope he walks right up to an owner or Gm with his sawed off shotgun and demands a job, then he goes out and blows money on Above Average talent as if they are superstars.  I mean the list is endless Bartolo, Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Carlos Delgado, Jason Bay, Luis Castillo, Johan Santana, an aging overpaid Pedro Martinez, and I think he signed Paul LoDuca twice and now he his possibly about to get another job in baseball.

In the real work force an employee as incompetent as Omar is left out to dry, possibly having to endure career changes like maybe mismanaging a McDonald’s franchise, but in Baseball its nothing for owners and other GMs to look out for their own make sure their buddies keep comfy jobs while actual potential entry level applicants such as myself are left to surf the web and take personality quizzes in an effort to gain midlevel 20thousand dollar a year jobs.  Omar congrats you have made a career off ruining franchises, depleting farm systems, and overpaying marginal talent.  I only wish instead of playing fantasy baseball, and typing a blog I could have the chance to do the same thing that you seem to do oh so well leach off Major League Baseball like you actually know what you are doing, perhaps Britney Spears said it best in her smash hit Toxic

Baby, can’t you see
I’m calling
A guy like you
Should wear a warning
It’s dangerous
I’m fallin’

There’s no escape
I can’t wait
I need a hit
Baby, give me it
You’re dangerous
I’m lovin’ it

Wilson Ramos and the Case for American Journalism

I am unsure if I am just becoming more ornery and cynical in my old life or if I have found that American Journalism is in fact dead.  Wilson Ramos as most of baseball people know is a bright young backstop in the Nats system, and by now we all know of his kidnapping in Venezuela.  After that complex sentence our facts concerning this situation is null and void.  America cable systems have multiple all sports, all news, and all entertainment outlets that have some how decided that a man’s life isn’t that important to follow this situation more closely.  What is more disturbing is how this is an apparent problem in Venezuela and among athletes and their families, but again American media as somehow ignored this.  Yesterday they could no longer ignore but they have still found no reason to find out more, and this is where its time to speak out about our lack of journalism.

Joe Paterno and the entire Sandusky Penn St situation is a horrific example of the wrong person being in the news.  Is it news that Paterno is being forced out of course it is, but how many truly understand what is going on at Penn St?  How many American’s don’t understand why Paterno is being forced out.  Even more disgusting is how many think it was Joe Pa that was molesting the little boys, but this is what JOURNALISM has become.  It’s no longer about facts its about selling a story and giving as many editorials as you can force in a 30 minute news magazine or sports magazine show.  The success of blogging and talk radio has made it obsolete for someone to report the facts and now its about viewership numbers, and scandals.  Joe Paterno is a scandal that revolves around a huge sports icon; Wilson Ramos is a 24 year old catcher for the Washington Nationals.  Imagine Tom Brady or Alex Rodriguez being kidnapped from their home by 4 armed goons.  ESPN, Fox News, and CNN would not be hesitating with reporting that fact.

In season 5 of The Wire this loss of journalism was approached and the one quote that registers today more than ever is when “Wrong Zip Code”.  Wilson Ramos plays baseball, Wilson Ramos, was kidnapped in a foreign land, and Wilson Ramos is not a celebrity.  Hopefully the only death to report tomorrow morning is the death of Journalism, and not the death of a promising young baseball player, whose kidnapping was not important enough to report on.

follow me on twitter @FtheWheeler



The Batting King, a Prince and a Pujols

Ah yes the logs are being placed on the fire and the hot stove is almost at a rustic rural feel, and folks we got some baseball to talk about.  Every team is vying for one of the big 3 Free Agents and I couldn’t be happier except where I feel these 3 guys will wind up.  Now do not get me wrong there are other quality free agents available and from what I have heard from my sources Boston, and Philly have already signed them.  Of course my source is as reliable as sources ESPN use but nonetheless here are my predictions for Reyes, Prince, and Pujols

Jose Reyes coming of such an exciting polarizing season has to be seen as either the spark plug that makes a line up or the club house cancer that destroys every cells nucleus.  I for one would love for the BATTING KING to bunt his way on first with either Boston, or Philly just so he could get a few singles before tipping his hat and taking the rest of the day off, but that will not happen.  Nope Mr 334 will be plying his trade in the cold dead city of Detroit.  I know that may shock a few people, but Jim Leyland has never met a speedy, over paid, injury prone, player that he hasn’t fell in love with.  Yep Jimmy salivates for Jose like a former Penn State athletic director at a 13 year old boys football game, (OOps too soon) and Leyland knows he has the perfect GM to overpay for a guy at a premium position.  Sadly this makes the most sense of any team in the running for Mr 334 because he offers something the Tigers do not have a lead off hitter that makes contact. (I’m joking Austin)  Jose Reyes welcome to Detroit a blue collar city that will toss Molotov cocktails at you win or lose, just don’t pull yourself after bunting to first then they might go crazy on you.

Prince Fielder like Father like Son, a hefty first baseman with lots of power and not much glove.  Princeyboy has 2 things his dad never had contact skills and a smile, but other than that I can’t tell the difference between the two, and neither can the Toronto Blue Jays.  Alex Anthopoulos, is to us Fantasy GMs that Mark Hamill is to Star Wars Fan Boys.  A new hope but even the young sabermetric savy Ant will need some protection for Joey Bats, and how do you build a winner with BATS AND FIELDERS.  Plus this is AA’s chance to fix history had the Blue Jays not allowed Prince’s dad to walk say some 20+ years ago perhaps Carter, Cecil, Alomar and company would have dominated the 90s and we wouldn’t be choking on Yankees vs Red Sox every other week.  The Blue Jays have some cap space Adam Lind is just good enough at first that a platoon with E5 could allow Prince the full time DH well the rest is just Academic from there.

300 million dollars is not out of the question and this point neither is 10 years but the real question is which team will disgust Albert first.  I say Theo and the Cubbies and the New Regime in Boston get quite unnerving which forces Pujols to take his talents to South Beach or back to St. Louis, and that is where everything falls apart.  If Pujols stays put he probably gives a small discount and he probably keeps St Louis from really rebuilding thus negating the Cards having any chance of another title in the rest of this decade.  If Pujols pulls a Lebron well Baseball becomes King in Miami at least during the Lockout and Pujols becomes the Face of a Franchise over night.  Bud Selig prays Pujols turns into a capitalist real soon because Major League Baseball needs Miami a whole lot more than it needs St. Louis.  Plus think of Albert and Hanley on the same team thats like Tom Brady and Giselle getting a reality show and selling ESPN the rights to it.

Well I poked the hot stove a little today will be back some time soon to do it again and don’t worry CJ Wilson No Animals were harmed in the writing of this except the McDouble i just ate but I doubt that was real meat.

Follow me on Twitter @FtheWHEELER and remember BRAVES DON”T TRADE PRADO you might need him come JULY.

The 6 Million Dollar Mistake

As I return to writing a bit about baseball I hate to start on such a negative topic, but ever since Dayton Moore took out his checkbook and gave Jeff Francouer a 2 year extension I had to shake my head in disdain.
Being a Braves fan I know first hand about the Jeff Francouer illusion, much like a Criss Angel Mind Freak Jeffrey finds a way to make you believe he can be a young JD Drew or but in Reality Jeffrey is Ross Gload with a full time gig. That’s not a slight to Ross Gload either I love Ross Gload because Gload is a GAMER the exact opposite of Frenchy. Nope Frenchy is a cheap watered down store brand French Mustard that someones grandma tries to pass off as Grey Poupon. The mustard gets served on a certain dish and then every family member wants the recipe only to find out the mustard was disgusting it was the partnership of the main course.
Jeff swings at every pitch he has less patience than an ADHD 3 year old, and when told to fix his issues he balks at the notion that he is the issue at hand. Jeff is a picture perfect example of the GENERATION ME. He is entitled; he was a high school super jock in a Georgia High School where nothing is your fault. And now here is Jeff Francouer convincing Dayton Moore that he is finally hitting his prime. He is saying look Royals Fans the past 3 years were anomalies I can really play this game, but the numbers say other wise and by examining his BB/K ratio its evident Jeff Francouer has yet to see a pitch in the dirt he doesn’t like.
Deep down I hope I am wrong I would like to see the hometown kid do a little good with his baseball career but much like another GA product that has hit his ceiling Nick Markakis Jeffrey is nothing more than some by product clogging up Royals Outfield from the more promising Will Myers or Lorenzo Cain. Dayton Moore is notorious for giving money and then wishing he hadn’t and sadly this Investment is as shaky as the Foundation at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Nope Jeff Francouer is not Steve Austin the sci fi hero or the wrestler, but pretty soon his bat is sure to go STONE COLD.

The Joba Rules Part 1

I have not had the chance to really write much lately as I have been consumed with getting my tcareer on track.  I have promised to look at the Joba Phenom or more importantly how to micro manage a superior talent into being a mediocre player.  I have been highly critical of pitch counts since I first heard the word uttered sometime in 2004, but what is being done with Joba Chamberlin that defies all logic period. 
Limiting a pitcher to 100 pitches is somewhat understandable although I feel doing so at the major league level keeps a pitcher from truly learning how to pitch properly.  The Yankees don’t just limit Joba to 100 pitches they limit him to 85 in some games.  Joba Chamberlin was one of the hottest pitchers in 2009 until the MANAGEMENT started micro managing.  A 24 year old starter who is holding teams to 4 or less ER’s in almost every start is pretty impressive yet somehow that isn’t good enough for the Yankees.  Comparing Joba’s numbers to AJ Burnett’s numbers from April to July
Joba had 16 less IP, 6 less Earned Runs, and 16 less Strikeouts.  Which means someone who makes 16 million dollars less was probably just as effective if not more so before the JOBA RULES came into play.
No one is for sure what the Joba rules really are but its hinted that Cashman and perhaps even the Steinbrenners do not want Joba exceeding 175 innings.  Once August hit the Joba rules started.  From April to July, Joba had a 3.59 ERA, the rest of the year Joba had a 7.59 ERA.
This is sad and obviously has affected his confidence. He went from averaging almost 6 innings a start to a little over 4 innings.  In 5 second half games he started Joba went less than 4 innings What the Hell is this little leagues.  Well apparently it is the little leagues. Joba was on the verge of being a legit number 2 or number 3 pitcher but his career was stalled not because he wasn’t pitching well but because SUITS AND TIES said he was pitching too much. Joba was named NEXT in 2007 but its now 2010 and he still has yet to crack 175 IP while other pitchers his age are winning not one but 2 Cy Youngs Joba is being forced to start a game and pitch 3 innings.  The young man is being asked to throw 85 pitches or less.  Could you imagine going on a date and being told your curfew is 9:30 but the guy or girl you are going out with doesn’t get off work until 9 well you got 30 minutes to show us what you got kid.  This is not how to manage a player and the sad thing is its a growing trend not just in baseball but in AMERICA and that will be examined in Joba Rules Part 2.