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Thread: Braves News

  1. #1
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    Braves News

    Braves find fortune with Harang's improbable start
    Veteran right-hander first considered rotation fill-in, now boasts Majors' best ERA

    By Mark Bowman / MLB.com | 4/28/2014 3:07 P.M. ET

    ATLANTA -- Like any other sane member of the baseball world, Aaron Harang went through this most recent offseason without once thinking he would enter the final days of April with possession of Major League Baseball's best ERA.

    "I was more worried about where I was going to be," Harang said. "I wasn't thinking about what my numbers might be. I was worried about having a job."

    Less than two months after finally landing an audition with the first of the two organizations that he has been a part of this year, Harang finds himself in the midst of a stretch that seemed highly improbable as he spent time with four different clubs during a disappointing 2013 season. Through his first five starts with the Braves, the rejuvenated 35-year-old right-hander has posted a Major League-best 0.85 ERA.

    "Did we expect what we have gotten? No, but we did expect him to be [effective]," Braves general manager Frank Wren said.

    Harang was not anticipating this level of early season success back on Feb. 15, when he landed a Minor League deal with the Indians, partly because of a relationship he had developed more than a decade ago with Cleveland manager Terry Francona. Francona said Harang provided nothing more than Spring Training depth and then proved this on March 23, when he told the veteran pitcher he would not be on Cleveland's Opening Day roster.

    Wren took some heat on March 24, when he made the unpopular decision to get rid of Freddy Garcia to make room for Harang, who had been released by the Indians just a few hours earlier. Garcia had not necessarily created much reason for confidence as he went through Spring Training attempting to get by with an 85-mph fastball and an array of junk pitches.

    But Garcia was the guy who had gone toe-to-toe with Clayton Kershaw in Game 4 of last year's National League Division Series against the Dodgers. And Harang was the guy whose ability to throw harder than Garcia had not prevented him from posting a 5.40 ERA in the 26 starts he combined to make for the Mariners and Mets after being traded for cash by both the Dodgers and Rockies last year.

    Fortunately for the Braves, Wren and his scouts possessed a different opinion after watching both pitchers during Spring Training. They viewed Garcia as a guy who they could only hope would last five innings in a start. Harang was considered the more dependable option to eat innings and stabilize an injury-depleted starting rotation for at least a few weeks.

    While Harang has spent this past month exceeding any and all expectations, Garcia is now trying to keep his career alive while pitching for Taiwan's EDA Rhinos.

    "[Harang] won 16 games twice and was a pretty dominant pitcher [in Cincinnati] for several years," Wren said. "Once they have a track record like that, when you start to see signs of that old guy, whether it's velocity, arm angle or results, then you feel pretty good. That was what encouraged some of our scouts. They were seeing some of those old signs."

    When the Braves lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries that were suffered less than 24 hours apart during March's second week, they took care of the front end of their rotation by signing Ervin Santana. But given that Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd were also going to start the season on the disabled list, Wren instructed his scouts to attempt to strengthen the back end of the rotation by evaluating veteran starting pitchers who were in danger of not gaining a roster spot out of Spring Training.

    Harang landed on the Braves' radar as he posted 3.52 ERA in the four September starts he made for the Mets after he was released by the Mariners last year. Atlanta's veteran scout, Rick Williams, submitted some positive feedback, but Wren and his staff were not necessarily sold until Brad Sloan, another of the club's top scouts, offered some of the same positive opinions after seeing Harang pitch for the Indians in March.

    "[Williams] thought his arm angle and stuff was similar to what he had seen a few years back," Wren said. "That was similar to what Brad Sloan reported as well."

    Harang might no longer be as durable as he was when he logged 677 2/3 innings for the Reds during a three-year span (2005-07). But through the early stages of his 14th Major League season, his arm strength has been on par with what he has shown throughout most of his career.

    According to Fangraphs, the average velocity of his four-seam fastball this year (89.5 mph) is identical to what he produced in 2008, which stands as the only other season during which he posted a sub-3.00 ERA in April.

    While Harang's velocity has remained consistent throughout his career, he believes he is now benefitting from what he experienced last year when he was cast off by the Dodgers and Rockies before finally getting a chance to make his regular season debut for the Mariners on April 16. His only previous experience in the American League had come courtesy of the 21 starts he totaled for the A's during the 2002 and '03 seasons.

    After spending four months attempting to navigate his way through the AL's potent lineups, Harang regained some of his confidence via the four starts he made for the Mets during last year's final month. His success in New York reminded him that he was not too far removed from posting a 3.62 ERA in the 59 starts he combined to make for the Padres and Dodgers during the 2011 and '12 seasons.

    "It was good for me mentally to go out and pitch well because the confidence gets a little depleted," Harang said. "I struggled with Seattle. So your confidence level gets changed. You can have a false perception of yourself as a pitcher. I think it was really good for me to go experience that and pitch well when I got over there."

    Harang's confidence has been further strengthened as his career has been resurrected over the past month. He has carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning twice this year and surrendered one run or fewer in each of his first five starts.

    It is unrealistic to believe Harang will extend this dominance over the remainder of the season. But it also might be unwise to continue assuming that he will prove to be nothing more than a temporary band aid for the once suspect Atlanta rotation that has flourished with his presence.

    "What he has been doing this year has just been spectacular," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "Frank and his guys knew what they were doing when they got him."
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/...&vkey=news_mlb
    ___________________________________


    Simmons over Harper!!!

    WAR Stats:

    2014 - Simmons 2.3 vs Harper 1.3
    2013 - Simmons 4.7 vs Harper 3.8
    Career - Simmons 9.9 vs Harper 9.4
    162 game average - Simmons 4.6 vs Harper 4.3

    updated 11/25/14

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    Keith Law ranks four Braves in top-15 of under-25 list
    By Scott Coleman  @scottcoleman55 on Apr 28 2014, 12:03p 117


    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
    No other team in baseball has more than two.

    Thanks to some terrific scouting, drafting and signing, the Braves are going to be a very good team for the considerable future.

    So when Keith Law ranked four Braves in his top-25 under 25 list, it was no shock to see four guys who play in Atlanta included in the top-15. No other team in baseball has more than two players listed in the top-15.

    Law ranked Simmons fourth, placing him behind only Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Jose Fernandez. Here's what Law had to say about Andrelton's future outlook.

    Simmons' career to date at the plate looks a lot like some other well-regarded shortstops, including Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin and Omar Vizquel, none of whom was much to write home about with the stick early in his career, but all of whom posted high contact rates from their rookie years. Simmons is a better defender than Vizquel and has more pop than Omar or Ozzie, but he does have to develop the patience Ozzie and Larkin found by their mid-20s. The downside here is a better-fielding Shawon Dunston, but the upside is a Hall of Fame-caliber shortstop who sparks debates over whether he or the Wizard is the best defensive shortstop of all time.
    Next on Law's list was Freddie Freeman at No. 8. Law never really seems to give Freeman the credit he deserves for being one of the 10 or 15 best hitters in baseball when projecting his future, but it's whatever at this point.

    Jason Heyward checks in at No. 11, and Law hits the nail right on the head with him:

    Heyward can be maddening, as he has all-world talent but hasn't put everything together for a full season ... although he's also still 24 years old and has been on every iteration of this list that I've done. Heyward is a plus-plus defender in right with outstanding patience at the plate, and he shows plus power when his swing is right (not often) and his shoulder isn't barking. The reference point of his rookie season has colored everyone's impressions of Heyward's performance since then, but FanGraphs had him at 3.4 WAR last year in just 104 games, when only 10 players in the entire National League reached 5.0 WAR for the whole season.
    Last but not least is Julio Teheran at 15. Law really liked the strides he made last season towards cementing himself as a No. 1 starter, and he points to the development of his breaking pitches to determine whether he's a bonafide ace or just a solid No. 2 guy moving forward.

    The whole article is worth checking out. For reference, the Marlins have three on the list (Fernandez 3, Stanton 6, Yelich, 16), the Nationals have one (Harper, 2), the Mets have one (Wheeler, 18), and the Phillies have none.

    Kinda scary to think that the Braves not only have four of the top-15, but also have Mike Minor, 26, Craig Kimbrel, the world's best closer, who is 25 now, and guys like Alex Wood and Lucas Sims as candidates to make future lists.
    http://www.talkingchop.com/2014/4/28...=articlebottom
    ___________________________________


    Simmons over Harper!!!

    WAR Stats:

    2014 - Simmons 2.3 vs Harper 1.3
    2013 - Simmons 4.7 vs Harper 3.8
    Career - Simmons 9.9 vs Harper 9.4
    162 game average - Simmons 4.6 vs Harper 4.3

    updated 11/25/14

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    Freeman at 8?? And Harper is start in to look like a younger Heyward. Oft-injured, produces sometimes and is packed with potential. At some point, potential has to show it's beautiful face.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coach100 View Post
    Freeman at 8?? And Harper is start in to look like a younger Heyward. Oft-injured, produces sometimes and is packed with potential. At some point, potential has to show it's beautiful face.
    Eh I would say Harper will be better than heyward tbh

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    I agree. Better than Freeman? Better than Simmons?

    Maybe....if he stays healthy.

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    No, to Simmons and maybe to Freeman if he stays healthy because I think he can put up and average within 15 points with 10-15 more HRs and sadly due to his position he will grade out better at D. When it comes to simmons on his D alone I think he is a better player than heyward, freeman, and harper. Then add in the fact that simmons bat is improving more and more each day?

    Lol he will be a top 10 player in baseball by the end of next year imho. He has pop that puts him in the top 5 for HRs at his position. His Avg. was nothing to write home about, but if he can start to be more patient and improve his walks I feel like that will open up for more quality pitches to his. This will not only increase his Avg. but also his HR total more than likely, Runs, RBIs, and his OBP obviously. By the end of next year I expect him to have improved his bat more and pairing that with being the best defensive player in baseball.... lol whats not to love?

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    Our prayers have been heard, Tommy La Stella has been called up to the bigs.

    Mark Bowman ‏@mlbbowman 13 min
    The #Braves have promoted Tommy La Stella to the Majors. A corresponding move has not been announced.
    I was wishing for a designation for assignment to Uggla, but that's not the case.

    Have not yet confirmed the corresponding move, but Uggla will stick w/ the club. La Stella is expected to be in Boston tonight.
    I hope neither Gattis or Simmons to DL.

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    Pastornicky optioned to AAA, This is tough for him, it was his chance to prove something, Uggla was not a threat anymore but he couldn't make it. He is just a below average defender and a poor hitter.

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    Zolio Almonte has elected free agency and no longer a brave

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/transactions/...th=4&year=2015
    ___________________________________


    Simmons over Harper!!!

    WAR Stats:

    2014 - Simmons 2.3 vs Harper 1.3
    2013 - Simmons 4.7 vs Harper 3.8
    Career - Simmons 9.9 vs Harper 9.4
    162 game average - Simmons 4.6 vs Harper 4.3

    updated 11/25/14

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    The Braves 'Magic Number' is 159! We got this!

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    Markakis and Gomes are putting up solid numbers so far, but our 3-5 OF spots are hitting below the Mendoza line. Peterson's numbers are bad too. Calyspo is hitting well. Leave him @2nd and bat him 2nd. Our lead off guy has got to do better. How long can we let this roll? Hopefully the front office is watching this. Eury Perez and Mallex Smith are doing well in the minors. At some point we have to try them out, don't we?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck.mcmillan View Post
    Markakis and Gomes are putting up solid numbers so far, but our 3-5 OF spots are hitting below the Mendoza line. Peterson's numbers are bad too. Calyspo is hitting well. Leave him @2nd and bat him 2nd. Our lead off guy has got to do better. How long can we let this roll? Hopefully the front office is watching this. Eury Perez and Mallex Smith are doing well in the minors. At some point we have to try them out, don't we?
    Don't give Fredo any ideas. Callaspo is a one trick pony. His ability to make contact is his only remaining tool. He has no power, no speed, he's slipped defensively and has zero range. His BABIP is .345 right now but it's .282 for his career if you want to go more with what you see with your own two eyes he's having a lot of balls find grass right now that aren't hit particularly hard. Plain and simple he's off to a lucky start.

    Smith is in no way, shape, or form ready for MLB action. Yeah he is off to a hot start in Double-A but he is still very raw and he may be ready in a year but I can't stress may be ready enough. Perez probably has a chance to get called up but I don't know how much of one because we are winning after all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck.mcmillan View Post
    Markakis and Gomes are putting up solid numbers so far, but our 3-5 OF spots are hitting below the Mendoza line. Peterson's numbers are bad too. Calyspo is hitting well. Leave him @2nd and bat him 2nd. Our lead off guy has got to do better. How long can we let this roll? Hopefully the front office is watching this. Eury Perez and Mallex Smith are doing well in the minors. At some point we have to try them out, don't we?
    It's been two weeks. Peterson is coming around and Maybin one of those outfielders has had absolutely zero luck so far despite swinging it well. Mallex is in his first two weeks of AA, don't rush it. Plus, starting Callaspo over Peterson every day would stunt Petersons growth, bad idea. Baseball is a very long season, you can't rush decisions on young players.

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    Bullpen woes continue, Andrew McKirahen just got popped 80 games for steroids.

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    Braves News

    Nice! Maybe that's why he finally made a roster.
    Smart Person List: BRAVE KID, Beldugo, flea, Jeffy25

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