Thursday, December 29, 2011

When a Surplus is Actually a Dilemma: The Atlanta Rotation

We've been hearing all offseason long about how the Braves are looking to deal from their surplus of starting pitching to fill some of their needs (outfield, middle infield, etc.) They have already unloaded Derek Lowe, which was a great move. They have since been linked to a number of potential deals involving Jair Jurrjens. Looking at their roster, I do not envy their position. They do not have a surplus. What they have is a guessing game, which will probably result in one of two things: They can play it safe and hang on to all of their pitching depth to see who pans out, meanwhile costing some value since valuable players will spend extra time in the minor leagues. Contrarily, they could look to move Jair Jurrjens or another starter in a trade and rely heavily on unknown goods to produce on a potentially winning ball club. Here's the issue: They have just one starter that threw more than 152 innings last year, and he happens to be Tim Hudson, who will turn 37 years old in July. Beyond that, they have a cast of young pitchers which offer huge upside but have absolutely no big league track record. To reiterate: this is NOT a surplus...this is a scary proposal for any pitching coach.

  • Tim Hudson - 215 innings pitched...well above average in 2011
  • Tommy Hanson - 130 innings pitched in 2011....almost exactly league average according to park neutral statistics on Hanson has the potential to be much better in 2012 if healthy.
  • Jair Jurrjens - 152 innings bait and a regression candidate. Even though he posted a sexy 2.96 ERA, statcorner has him listed as slightly below average based on his peripherals.
  • Brandon Beachy - 142 innings pitched....and statistically the most successful Braves pitcher. He's pitched only 156 innings in his major league career.
  • Mike Minor - 82 innings pitched in 2011, and only 120 in his big league career.... He's had below average results thus far, but Atlanta expects big things in the future.
  • Randall Delgado - 35 innings pitched in 2011 and his entire big league career. Only decent results thus far, and a severe regression candidate based on normalized statistics. Honestly, there's no telling what Delgado can be based on the evidence thus far.
  • Julio Teheran - 19 innings pitched in 2011 and his entire big league career. He is no doubt an incredibly talented super-prospect, but no one knows how long it will take him to find success in the big leagues. He looks to be ready from day one, but it's tough to count on a rookie.

Seven names, and only one solid track record. It will be fascinating to watch how the Braves handle this situation, and do not be shocked to see the Braves play if safe this offseason in order to gather more evidence. As the saying goes, the cream usually rises to the top. The Braves look to have a great rotation as long as they don't unload the wrong guys.

1 comment:

  1. I think the crucial piece to this issue is that the Braves are expecting to compete for a title in 2012. If they were in some level of "rebuilding mode," then its not a big deal to let your young guys roll. But they are not.