Posted: 2:33 pm Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Braves searching for lefty reliever; Miller would do nicely 

By David O'Brien

  NEW YORK – Monday night’s loss to the Mets provided another reminder of why the Braves have made bolstering their bullpen a priority before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and specifically why they’re looking for a lockdown-type left-hander who could help restore their ‘pen to something close to its elite level of recent seasons.

Someone like Andrew Miller of the Red Sox, for instance. More on that in a moment.

The Braves hope to add a lefty reliever before the trade deadline, and 6-foot-7 Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller is among those they've scouted. (AP photo)

The Braves hope to add a lefty reliever before the trade deadline, and 6-foot-7 Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller is the best potentially available and among those they’ve scouted. (AP photo)

After the Braves scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning Monday, lefty Luis Avilan gave up the lead on a Curtis Granderson homer in the bottom of the inning, a blown save and a big blow on a night when the Braves were poised to win for just the third time – but second time against the Mets in eight days — when trailing after the seventh inning.

Instead, they lost and had to go an extra couple of innings before the Mets walked off with an 11th-inning victory.

Avilan is tied with two others for the major league lead with 46 relief appearances, and he has a 4.22 ERA and .286 opponents’ average in his past 17 appearances, allowing 12 hits and five runs in 10 2/3 innings with three walks and only three strikeouts in that span.

He gave up at least one hit in nine of those 17 games. “Avi” just doesn’t dominate hitters, including lefties, like he did as a rookie. His sinker was all but unhittable then, and isn’t now.

His .287 opponents’ average – second-highest among NL relievers  — and .357 opponents’ OBP includes .266/.324 by lefty batters, who have 17 hits including two homers against him in 64 at-bats, and six walks with a modest 13 strikeouts. His 14.0 runners allowed per nine innings is the fourth-highest among NL relievers.

With runners in scoring position, hitters are 11-for-39 (.282) against Avilan with 10 walks, four strikeouts and a .420 OBP.

And in the last innings of close games, where Avilan once shone, hitters are 17-for-57 (.298) against him with five extra-base hits including two homers, 14 RBIs, seven walks, seven strikeouts and a .375 OBP and .474 slugging percentage. Alarming numbers, especially this deep into the season.

If you don’t have a consistent and high-scoring offense or two or three dominant starters who go 7-8 innings every time out, then having a shutdown group to handle the seventh through ninth innings is especially crucial. The Braves have had that for most of the past several years. But not this season, at least not on a regular basis.

However, they could still have it for the stretchd drive and playoffs they’re able to make a big move or two before the break.

The Braves had one of their top scouts following the Red Sox in recent days, and Miller is far and away the best lefty they have, and the best available before the deadline. But he surely won’t come cheap, and he’ll be a free agent after the season.

Unless the cost is entirely prohibitive, the Braves need to make this move. Get Miller.

The 6-foot-7 lefty has a .180 opponents’ average (22-for-122) with one homer, 10 walks, 55 strikeouts and a .255 OBP and .238 slugging percentage in 33 2/3 innings, including .167/.231/.250 by lefty batters, who are 8-for-48 against him with four walks and 25 strikeouts.

Miller’s 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched is third-best in the majors, trailing only the Yankees’ David Robertson (16.43) and  Craig Kimbrel (15.28).

In his past 15 appearances, Miller has a .139 opponents’ average with 20 strikeouts and three walks in 10 2/3 innings, beginning with two strikeouts in two-thirds of an inning against the Braves on May 27 in Atlanta.

With runners in scoring position, he’s allowed just a .133 average (4-for-30) this season with four walks and 14 strikeouts.

In close-late-situations, hitters are 14-for-80 (.175) against him with two walks and 37 strikeouts, for a puny .212 OBP and .263 slugging percentage. Folks, that’s dominance.

If the Braves could pull off a trade for him, add him to the mix with Kimbrel, Jordan Walden, Shae Simmons and Co., it’d be a formidable ‘pen, indeed.

• Freeman vs.  Mets: With three hits including a double in Monday’s series opener, Mets killer Freddie Freeman has hit safely in 15 of his past 16 games against the Mets and batted .429 (27-for-63) in that span with seven doubles, four homers, 18 RBIs, .486 OBP, .730 slugging percentage.

He has a .325 career average in 63 games against the Mets with career-highs of 21 doubles, 13 homers and 53 RBIs, with a .398 OBP and robust .581 slugging percentage.

In four games at Citi Field this season, Freeman is 9-for-18 with four doubles, a homer and four  RBIs. He’s doubled in every game the Braves have played at the ballpark this season.

• Tonight’s matchup: It’s newly minted Braves All-Star Julio Teheran (8-5, 2.29 ERA) against Jacob deGrom (1-5, 3.77) in the second game of the four-game series.

Teheran is 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in his past four starts, with 30 strikeouts, five walks and one homer allowed in 29 innings. The Braves scored no runs while he was in the games in his no-decision and his loss during that period.

The Braves ace is 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Mets, including 1-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three since the beginning of the 2013 season. He gave up seven hits and one run in seven innings of a win against them Wednesday in Atlanta.

Against Teheran, Eric Young is 4-for-9, Lucas Duda is 3-for-10 with a homer, David Wright is 1-for-8 with a homer, and Ruben Tejada is 0-for-10

DeGrom is 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA in his past three starts, including seven scoreless innings of five-hit ballin a win at Miami. The loss was against the Braves in his last start Wednesday against Teheran in Atlanta, where deGrom allowed six hits and three runs in five innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts. It was his first appearance against the Braves.

Chris Johnson went 2-for-2 with three RBIs against deGrom in that game, while Justin Upton went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

DeGrom is 0-3 in four home starts despite a 2.49 ERA and .237 opponents’ average at Citi Field.

• Chat link: We’re keeping it a bit short today after getting back to hotel at 2 a.m. last night following late game, then doing an online chat earlier and not having quite as much time to put together the blog. Here’s a link to that chat in case you missed it. We’re doing them each Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. during the season.

• I’ll close with one of the all-time great soul songs. Both versions here are terrific: this one by First Choice,  and Al Green’s original here.

“LOVE AND HAPPINESS” by A. Green, W. Mitchell, A. Jackson

Love and happiness, yeah

Al Green

Al Green

Something that can make you do wrong make you do right, hey
Love

Love and happiness
Wait a minute
Something’s going wrong
Someone’s on the phone
Three o’clock in the morning, yeah
Talkin’ about
How she can make it right
Yeah
Well,
Happiness is when you really feel good about somebody
There’s nothing wrong with being in love with someone
Happiness is when you really feel good about somebody
Nothing wrong with being in love with someone, yeah
Oh, baby, love and happiness (love and happiness)
Love and happiness (love and happiness)

Love and happiness (love and happiness)
Love and happiness (love and happiness)
You be good to me
And I’ll be good to you
And we’ll be together
We’ll see each other
Walk away with victory, hey
Oh baby,
Love and happiness (love and happiness)
Love and happiness (love and happiness)
Hey, hey, hey

Make you do right…
Love’ll make you do wrong…
Make you come home early…
Make you stay out all night long…
The power of love…

Wait a minute,
Let me tell you
‘Bout the power
The power of love
Power, power
Make you do right… love’ll make you do wrong…
[x3:] (Love and happiness)
Make you want to dance…
Love and happiness…

Love is… wait a minute… love is…
Walkin’ together…
Talkin’ together…
Say it again…
Say it together…
Mmmm…  

 

 

823 comments
JohnnyVaught
JohnnyVaught

Are you kidding me?  This is the Atlanta Braves we are talking about - the team that goes on the cheap unless it's for Uggla or his Sammy Davis, Jr. look-alike.  The Braves buy recaps ... if you are not familiar with that term, look it up, has to do with tires.  They'll bring in some old worn out has been or never was and pass him off as a savior.  I like the Braves, but they are flat out second rate, cut rate organization.  And that is what none of you writers or columnists have the fortitude to write -- it's the reason they had been no where before last season in several years, didn't go far last year, and have only one World Series title ... go fish.

Jlahat1
Jlahat1

O'flattery was a nice option that we let getaway for nothing

BravoDawg
BravoDawg

Lets keep it real, if & when the Bravos make the playoffs, they will be bounced out for the same reason as always, they cant score when they run up against good pitching, so getting all the pitching on the planet will not do anything, if you cant score, you cant win!

ncscoots
ncscoots

Luckily for us, we shouldn't have to discuss David Carpenter much longer. TalkingChop also has an article up saying the same thing about Mike Minor, so we'll get to discuss HIM, now, for umpty-teen posts. :-)

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Hope things don't even-out for us too fast.

We just won 9 in a row. Hate to give em back 9 in a row...

DCBraves
DCBraves

Show JUp luv...text N5 to 89269 or vote @ mlb.com. Text bomb for multiple votes!!!! Free apps on phones and online

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Y'all hold-on now, gotta jump on the pedals of my 100-terabyte hard-drive. 

EMWTK
EMWTK

It seems to me the essence of all Shaun's arguments can be summarized thus:

There exists in every player a definite level of talent; ability if you will. It is important to ascertain the player's real "ability" because eventually it will influence the outcome of games. In the long run, players of high ability will win more than player's of lower ability, so you obviously want to have those on your team. It is therefore necessary to develop methods which isolate a player's ability from the myriad externalities which mask it. We are often, as Nassim Taleb puts it, fooled by randomness.

This is the SABR holy grail: a way to capture the ability of a player that is not dependent on the abilities of his team mates, his opponents, or even the vagaries of the environment.

This is important if you accept the premise that the best predictor of future results is past performance. And sometimes it is. But every stock broker in the world will warn you that past performance is no guarantee, because things change.

This is where your arguments break down, Shaun. Every metric you use, even if they are correct in their assumptions, is a measurement of something in the past. It does not take into account that things change. Players get better, players get worse, players get hurt. Everything works the way it always has, until it doesn't anymore.

So if your goal is to have some argument over who was the "best" player over some specific time frame, well have at it. But if your goal is to predict future results, you're going to have a little more imagination.

They've got to play the games. Enjoy it.

BravesFan1966
BravesFan1966

Crawler at bottom of ESPN page said Braves looking at JAY PEAVY????  Really!!!!  Peavy is like 1-6 and ERA over 5.00.  What the heck do they need with another broken down, over the hill starter.  They have plenty of those now.  Package Minor and someone for a BAT and relief hitting.  NOT stinking Peavy.

ncscoots
ncscoots

It's pretty basic stuff, so I doubt anyone who disagrees is all that reputable when it comes to baseball analysis.

The semi-famous Circular Reasoning logical fallacy, LOL.

(although we might also categorize it as the fallacy of affirming the consequent, but that might be stretching the definition a little)

_Hillbilly_
_Hillbilly_

It took me a while to type all of this out, so I missed alot of the conversation. I will go catch up now, but here is my response to Rick.

@Rick_C I've been through this argument with Shaun before so let me give you a heads up on what to expect. He will argue that his season xFIP and K/9 is close to the same and he will be correct. What he will ignore is that it isn't his full season that is concerning. It is the past 17 games that Carpenter has seen different results. He will ignore these numbers:

-K/9 went from 11.81 in his first 18 games to 9.88 in his last 17.

-K% was 30.4 in his first 18 games and 20.6 in his last 17.

-K/BB went from 5.25 in his first 18 to 3.75 in his last 17.

-Line drive was 30.2 in his first 18 and 32.7 in his last 17.

-xFIP was 2.68 in his first 18 and 3.95 in his last 17.

_Murph_
_Murph_

@ncscoots Mike Minor stinks.  Not really open for debate given the fact that he can't keep the ball in the ballpark.  Don't think Shaun can argue that is his defense's fault.

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@Rick_C

Coulda advertised for the Gold Club Showbar (strip-joint) when he wuz here, he wuzza frequent customer..

_Murph_
_Murph_

@EMWTK Was it that their pitching was bad or that their defense was bad... or some combination of both?

Either way, I don't think all of those runs are the fault of the pitchers.

MFin04
MFin04

Should we vote for him even if we don't believe he is the best option or deserving?

MFin04
MFin04

Vote for Justin while pedaling!

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@EMWTK I'm with you on all that.  Yes, past performance can give us insight into future performance or present true talent and I also agree that players change.  The problem is it's a leap to assume Carpenter has changed significantly; there's very little evidence that he has.  


But I think you have it basically right, that the idea is to get at a player's true talent, and the stats that don't get at a player's true talent are meaningless; at least when it comes to evaluating and assessing the performance or the true talent of individual players.  

ncscoots
ncscoots

@EMWTK

We are often, as Nassim Taleb puts it, fooled by randomness.

You cannot be fooled by the randomness of baseball, though, once you accept that the very nature of the game is itself randomized to a nearly infinite degree. There is, in fact, no "normal" in baseball, especially for player performance. There is only a dancing line above or below some mean, that mean to be determined over some period of time and entirely dependent on how much the line danced, in the first place. That desire to form normalcy out of chaos, a very human desire, is really what has led to continuing efforts to quantify the game. The chaos itself, however, pretty much dooms those efforts to a degree of failure, regardless of studies and smart people and however much we might like to gaze at the game through the microscope of metrics and actually see what is behind all that randomness.

Humans are not destined to have all the answers they might desire, and that's just a fact, jack.

Tumbledown
Tumbledown

I believe DOB struck down that rumor in a post somewhere below.

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

People who disagree are not reputable, therefore there are no reputable sources which disagree.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@_Hillbilly_ @Rick_C So you are judging him on 17 appearances, which is probably less than 17 innings?  Obviously there are problems with judging a pitcher on 17 inning pitched.  

_Hillbilly_
_Hillbilly_

@Rick_C  continued...

These things will be ignored, and you will get plenty of responses comparing his season stats from last year to his full season stats from this year including the first 18 where he was indeed dominant. So just be ready for that. I will not address him on the matter any further, because every time I provide him with stats (like he begs and pleads others to do...others that he knows will not go through the trouble) disproving his narratives, he ignores them and moves on to other lower hanging fruit to pick on.

ncscoots
ncscoots

@MFin04

Should we vote for him even if we don't believe he is the best option or deserving?

HATER!

DCBraves
DCBraves

Yes. Braves Country (and it cant but help boost his confidence knowing fans behind him, right?)

...have put in 16k+ already today...

26 hours to go

EMWTK
EMWTK

@ShaunATL @EMWTK I think my real objection is more philosophical than technical. The player of highest ability "should" win. Yet many times they do not. As Will Munny says, "Deserves got nottin to do with it."

You can't isolate a player in real life; only in the abstract. In real life, the variables, the externalities, are just as important as the abilities. Relax a little.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@ncscoots @EMWTK It's not about normal.  It's about what type of player is this player or that player.  And no one thinks we can ever perfectly know a player's true talent with absolute certainty.  


Some people are making a guess that Carpenter is bad and/or has been bad and some are making a guess that he hasn't been all that bad.  It's a matter of which guess is more likely to be accurate.  Some guesses are more educated than others.  In this case, based on the things Carpenter's skills influence, he hasn't pitched all that poorly.  So that's a better, more educated guess than the guess that he has pitched poorly.  Because the guess that he has pitched poorly is based on stats and indicators that don't really get at how a pitcher himself has actually performed.  

MFin04
MFin04

Maybe with Miller too...for Uggla...;)

ncscoots
ncscoots

@TennesseePaul

Exactamundo. Tidy-whitey and all wrapped up in a neat little bow, LOL.

And, of course, blindingly wrong, which is why they call them "fallacies". :-)

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

"Obviously there are problems with judging a pitcher on 17 inning pitched."

This is correct if you are attempting to find an "over-all value". But a single appearance could be enough to identify a mechanical flaw, or unacknowledged physical injury. I don't know if that is what is going on with Carpenter in particular, but sometimes people are not evaluating a player for a trade, acquisition, or investment. Sometimes they are merely looking to see if they are remaining consistent in their delivery, approach or whatever. No player waits until his season (or career) is over before making an adjustment.

_Hillbilly_
_Hillbilly_

@ShaunATL @_Hillbilly_ @Rick_C  The whole point...the whole premise of this argument is that he has been bad lately.  That is what this conversation is about.  He went from great to bad in the blink of an eye.  That is what the concern is all about, so yes.  Hell, yes, that is what I am judging along with everybody else who doesn't follow your narrative.

_Murph_
_Murph_

@ShaunATL @_Hillbilly_ @Rick_C You're judging him on numbers that are padded from the start of the season, are you not?  If Carpenter hadn't pitched so well until mid May this would be a much different conversation.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@EMWTK Of course ability doesn't guarantee winning.  No one claims that it does.  But what are you going to do?  What else do we have?  A team is not going to avoid being concerned about players' abilities because it doesn't guarantee wins.  Players' abilities obviously have influence so teams should try to get players with abilities and should try to reward players with the best abilities. 


If we are assessing a player, we should isolate his abilities and his true talent as best we can, from other variables and external factors, even though those other variables and external factors are obviously going to influence winning.  


If a player is performing decently but the results aren't so favorable, we should call it like it is and say he's performed decently.  It's got nothing to do with what he deserves or what should happen.


In the case of Carpenter, I'm not making statements about what he or his team deserves or what should happen.  I'm simply saying he's pitched quite well and that the results he's getting, in terms of ERA, etc. aren't entirely a result of how well or poorly he's pitching.    

MFin04
MFin04

I guessed he would be bad last night and give up runs...I guess I'm blessed with a gift...

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@_Murph_ @ShaunATL @_Hillbilly_ @Rick_C I'm actually judging him on how's he's performed in his career, his age, etc.  I think he's a pretty typical, pretty decent major league reliever, not a great one but not a bad one.  

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@ncscoots @ShaunATL @EMWTK No, he's just an example, based on previous discussions.


But yes, I'm with you, we are all just guessing.  But some guesses are more educated than others, is my point.  Some guesses are superior.  Not all guesses are equal just because they are guesses.  Some people take into account better, more appropriate and more telling info when making their guesses than others.  

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

Working on your reading comprehension would help, Payne. I know, you admitted as much earlier, you do not find those who disagree with you to be reputable. However, it would behoove you to make an effort at listening to them (or reading, in this case). So, with that in mind I will quote what I said: 

"I don't know if that is what is going on with Carpenter in particular, but sometimes people are not evaluating a player for a trade, acquisition, or investment."


TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

So you are admitting you are discussing something entirely different than what everyone else is discussing. You know, that's perfectly fine. This is an open format. But, if you want to join in on a conversation, it's best to discuss the conversation you are joining.

_Murph_
_Murph_

@ShaunATL @_Murph_ @_Hillbilly_ @Rick_C Why would you do that?  His career numbers are not relevant to the discussion at hand, which is he RECENT performance.

If you think his RECENT (mid-May until now) performance is good, then there's not much left to talk about here.

MFin04
MFin04

Who decides what is the best information that leads to best guesses? Who decides the sample size? Time? Length? Affect of injuries? Etc?

ncscoots
ncscoots

@ShaunATL @ncscoots @EMWTK

Heck, I'd agree with that, even. Most of the time, my disagreements with you hinge on the definition of "appropriate and more telling" and the degree thereof, that's all.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@TennesseePaul The assertion by some (someone this morning suggested the Braves release Carpenter) is that he's definitely pitched poorly.  My assertion is that he hasn't pitched as poorly as many think based on his ERA, and my assertion is based on the indicators of how he has actually pitched.  Yes, I think Carpenter should be trying to improve, as I think all players should be trying to constantly improve, especially those who are decent but not great, like David Carpenter.  I think the mistake people are making is that he's pitched bad, he's a bad pitcher and that it's only a matter of time before the Braves release him or that they should release him.  

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@MFin04 It's based on the relationship of certain indicators to performance.  So if based on all the historical data we have, OBP correlates to runs scored to a high degree, then that's what decides these sorts of things.  It's the same sort of concept that decides that it's a safe guess that smoking causes cancer or that eating fruits and vegetables causes a good quality of life.  Sure, I guess it's possible that the past data on this stuff doesn't indicate that it will be the case in the future.  Maybe all of the sudden smoking will be good for you or eating fruits and vegetables will be bad.  

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

Payne, Forntunately for the world, this entire conversation is here to review. In this conversation you a) admitted to discussing something different than what everyone else is discussing, b) stated you find this blog inherently unreputable, and c) that your analysis is over his entire career.

So when you say "how he has actually pitched" you are, by your own admission, looking at a different data set than those with whom you are conversing.

MFin04
MFin04

Fruits and vegetables are bad though...tons of pesticides and genetically modified...

Gotta go organic or grow your own.

And you are applying long term historical data to short term analysis. That's flawed.

But you ignore short term stats on Carpenter and his injury. Can't win either way.

Lets use career averages for Uggla, Heyward, BJ...those should work this year...but they don't.

So we use shorter term...but we have to ignore those...because they are too short...but eventually they become long term...and all the sudden we realize two of them suck offensively...and one is average at best.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@TennesseePaul I'm looking at more and better information than many of you. Many of you are looking at things like ERA and hits allowed over Carpenter's last 17 games.  I'm looking at things like SO/9, BB/9, HR/9, FIP, BABIP, xFIP, both recently and over his career, his age, etc.  Face it, I'm doing a better job of taking in better information, weighing it more appropriately than those of you looking at 17 recent appearances and looking at ERA and hits allowed in those 17 appearances.  Clearly this is the wrong way to go about evaluating a player.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@MFin04 You asked who decides what info leads to the best guesses, who decides sample size, etc.  I'm saying historical data on the relationships of certain things to others is what decides what info leads to the best guesses.  


I agree, you can't ignore short-term stats on Carpenter, his injury, etc.  You also can't ignore longer-term, his age, and all sorts of other info.  You have to take in all the info, and the best info that leads to the best guesses, in making an assessment.  

To jump to another example, look at the Giants of about a month or so ago.  Many thought they were a shoe-in for the NL West crown, that they were running away, etc.  They are a perfect example of why we take in all the info, not just the most recent data.  No, you shouldn't ignore recent data and you should weigh it more heavily but you can't ignore the bigger picture and all the other info that leads to the best guess on what might happen in the NL West race.

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

"I'm actually judging him on how's he's performed in his career, his age"

That's what you said, so now you are looking at his recent FIP? Cool. You are at least getting closer to the topic of the conversation you joined.

MFin04
MFin04

Sooo...yes?....Carpenter currently sucks...?

ncscoots
ncscoots

@TennesseePaul

You are at least getting closer to the topic of the conversation you joined.

And what time did this particular thread start? One hour since Hillbilly's post, and obviously quite some time before that, LOL

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@TennesseePaul I'm looking at all the relevant info that helps us know whether we should freak out about Carpenter.  Obviously many here are not.

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

HA! So, only a couple of weeks to inch a bit closer to the actual subject of the conversation. I haven't updated the metrics in a while, but that might be his best record yet.