Tag: Matt Diaz

Atlanta Braves: Matt Diaz Deserves More Starts in Left Field

Injuries have been a cause for concern among the Atlanta Braves.

With injuries to Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman as of late, the Braves have had a patchwork lineup that has given every player on the Braves bench an opportunity to start.

After going through the numbers, I believe outfielder Matt Diaz deserves to be the everyday starter in left field, at least until Jones comes back from the disabled list.

By putting Diaz in left, you move Martin Prado to third, putting a guy in the lineup who you can confidently put in the No. 5 spot in the lineup.

Currently, Diaz is hitting .298 with two home runs and nine RBI, including three of Atlanta’s four RBI in Friday night’s loss to Washington.

In the 11 games he’s started, Diaz is 11-for-34 with two home runs and eight RBI.

Although, he’s mainly used as a starter against left-handed pitching, I believe it’s time to give him a chance to be the starter and move Prado to third base.

Frankly, Juan Francisco isn’t getting the job done in his starts at third base, and it’s time for a change.

Francisco is hitting .200 with five home runs and 13 RBI, and doing it in the No. 7 spot in the order.

Yeah, he has five home runs, but he’s really been hit or miss. And, his defense isn’t better than Prado’s at third base. So, why is he in there again?

He currently has four errors at the hot corner, while Prado has two total errors and Diaz has none.

So, we have a player who is not only superior at the plate, but also in the field, although the same position is not played.

While Diaz has been considered the left specialist in the outfield, I think it’s time to move him to a full-time starter.

It’s hard to think he’d do worse than Francisco.

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MLB: Gotta Love ‘Em: The 10 Best Bench Players Any Manager Would Love to Have

Managers always preach that the intangibles are what win games.  Simple things like running out a ground ball, hustling on a weak pop up, fielding a ground ball and stealing a base in a big spot are all things that a manager wishes everyone at his club could do.  Unfortunately, everybody can’t.  That’s why these players are so valuable.

I would first like to start with three players who, I feel, deserve some sort of recognition.  They failed to crack my Top 10, yet they are deserving of something. 

David Murphy (Rangers), Trevor Crowe (Indians) and Jamey Carroll (Dodgers).  Their respective managers can count on them to do whatever they ask.

Although a regular starter on the American League Champion Rangers last season, David Murphy figures to be relegated to a bench role this season.  The signing of Adrian Beltre has since shifted Michael Young to the full time DH position which leaves Murphy as the odd man out.  No big deal, though.  Manager Ron Washington will find ways to get Murphy into the game, whether it be for late game defense, a pinch hit, or even a pinch run.  Murphy is still a vital piece to the Texas Rangers.

Yeah, I know what you’re all thinking. Somebody on the Indians is useful?  Trevor Crowe is a player that almost any team would love to have.  Crowe can play any position in the outfield, and he can cover a lot of ground.  Not only is he fast, he is a go-getter.  Crowe runs out every ball he hits, and he never takes a break on defense. 

He was somewhat of a regular last season due to the injury to Grady Sizemore, and he performed pretty well in the full time role.  He hit a respectable .251 with 2 homers, 36 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases.  That kind of speed coming off of the bench this season will be a huge asset for the Indians in what looks to be another disappointing season.

Finally, Jamey Carroll.  Carroll played all over the field last season, appearing in 133 games for the Dodgers.  He played second base mostly, with appearances at shortstop, third base and even left field.  He put up a very respectable .291 average, with 23 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in just 351 at bats.  He may not have blinding speed, but he hustles and is as steady as a defender as they come.

And now, to the Top 10.  

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Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz

I am writing this post as I am watching She’s Out of My League. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much, but I find it surprisingly funny. There are definitely some good parts in there that have made me laugh.

Now on to another laughing matter. That’s the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

The Pirates have been the joke of the sports world for the past 18 years and it has been very rare that we have commented on anything they have done over that time period. Let’s give them some love today.

Over the last couple of days, the Pirates have dipped their hands in the free-agent waters by signing 1B Lyle Overbay and OF Matt Diaz. They signed Overbay to a one-year, $5 million contract and Diaz to a two-year, $4.25 million contract.

I like both of these signings by the Pirates.

In my “Free Agent Primer,” I had Overbay pegged as this year’s Aubrey Huff. Now, will Overbay lead the Pirates to a World Series title like Huff did with the San Francisco Giants? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean that Overbay can’t help the Pirates in 2011.

At this point in his career, the Pirates know what they are going to get with Overbay. He is going to hit around 15-20 HRs, have an OBP about 80 points higher than his average, which is usually around .260, and produce an OPS around .800.

I like to call him a “Poor man’s Mark Grace.”

Overbay is also an upgrade over Garrett Jones at first and should help Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker in the infield. Overbay isn’t as good defensively as he used to be, but he is certainly better than what the Pirates were rolling out there in 2010.

The Pirates didn’t bring in Overbay to help them win the NL Central. The Pirates will continue to bring guys like Overbay to help them be a little bit better on the field, but also to be a stopgap until they amass enough young players to really compete.

At $5 million, Overbay will outperform his contract and help the Pirates be a little better on the field.

Diaz is an interesting signing as well. I always had something personal against Diaz because he pronounces his name “Die-az” instead of the traditional “Dee-az.” I always found that annoying.

But anyway, I digress.

Diaz spent five years in Atlanta and hit .305/.353/.461 with 41 HRs in 511 games. Not too shabby.

Diaz spent the majority of his time in Atlanta as fourth outfielder and that is what he will be doing in Pittsburgh. The right-handed Diaz will platoon right with Jones.

That’s a good thing because Diaz crushes left-handed pitching. For his career, Diaz has hit .335 against lefties in 797 plate appearances. Players thrive when they are put in the right role and this should be the right role for Diaz.

Both Overbay and Diaz won’t help the Pirates win the NL Central or even compete for the Wild Card in 2011. They are still years away for that to happen. But, the Pirates did get better this week with those signings.


You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Pittsburgh Pirates Add Kevin Correia and Matt Diaz At Winter Meetings

My time in Orlando covering the Winter Meetings is about to end, but it was a very productive trip. I got a bit of everything. From shaking hands with some stars, to meeting some of my peers and some of those I strive to be like—the trip had it all.

The Pirates were a bit active as well.  I mentioned the Scott Olsen deal in my prior column.  Since then, the Pirates inked another starting pitcher in Kevin Correia and also signed outfielder Matt Diaz.

Both were solid baseball moves.

Correia struggled the second half of last season, ending up at 10-10 with a 5.40 ERA.  The season before, he went 12-11 with a 3.90 ERA.  That’s what the Pirates are hoping they get in the right hander.  Either way, Correia should be a slight upgrade.

I’ve been asked by many if Correia and Olsen are the best the Pirates could do? Well, the answer is yes.  It’s a thin pitching market at the moment and it doesn’t make much sense for the Pirates to overpay for arms at the moment.

Sticking to the plan and nurturing some of the talented arms throughout the system makes much more sense right now. The end goal is to try and compete for years, not just to take a run at .500 next season.

In the end, they get two arms in Correia and Olsen for less then they would likely have had to pay Zach Duke—had they tendered him.

That’s such an unreasonable goal anyways.  The Pirates are on the right path, but they would have to make a near 50 game improvement just to approach the .500 mark.  You would have a better chance at winning the Powerball.

Instead, keep letting the young guys develop and try and cut that number in half.  Taking a run at .500 in 2012 is a more realistic goal.  After that, the goal has to be to win.

Right now, the Pirates rotation would look like this: James McDonald, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Correia and the fifth starter will come from the likes of Brad Lincoln, Olsen or a Brian Burres type guy.

The Pirates aren’t done looking for pitching though.  I’ve heard them linked to names like Justin Duchscherer, Aaaron Heilman, Kevin Gregg, Jeremy Accardo, Kenshin Kawakami and others.  The pair guys I’d like them to sign are Duchscherer and Accardo.  It would be taking a chance on an injury prone guy, but if healthy both are very talented.

As far as Diaz, it’s a smart move.  The guy handles lefties very well and the Pirates left hand hitters don’t.  Look for him to play right field against southpaws and give Garret Jones some time off as well. 

Good teams need good benches as well.  The Diaz signing makes sense.  If things go right, Andrew Lambo could be the right fielder late in the season anyways.

That’s the main key.  The Pirates are committed to young players.  There is no need to go out and try and sign a big name right now that will block one of their prospects.

The Diaz signing likely spells the end of Ryan Doumit’s Pirates career.  The writing is on the wall and he will be dealt before the season begins.  General Manager Neal Huntington has actively been trying to unload him and I expect it to get done before spring training opens.

In other Pirates news, they are looking for a utility type guy.  I know they made an offer to Bill Hall and also have interest in Brenden Ryan.

The one area they haven’t yet upgraded is shortstop.  They were linked to Jason Bartlett but he was dealt to San Diego.  A J.J. hardy deal has also been talked about, but he is likely headed to Baltimore.

As the market begins to die, one option could be Orlando Cabrera.

That’s likely all the Pirates will do as the Winter Meetings end tomorrow morning.  While the signings haven’t been flashy, they have done a good job at least being active.

Remember, the goal is to win on the field consistently in the future, not win the 2010 Winter Meetings.

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Atlanta Braves Acquire Veteran Scott Linebrink From Chicago White Sox

The Atlanta Braves acquired veteran right hander Scott Linebrink today from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Kyle Cofield.

The move solidified the Braves’ need to add a veteran presence in the bullpen. He will help out with the impressive, young core of arms the Braves already possess.

Kyle Cofield, a towering 6’5″, 230 lbs. right hander, was mostly a starter before he was moved to the bullpen this season. Cofield compiled a 25-26 record and 4.12 ERA through 485 minor league innings pitched, though the 23-year old has yet to advance past Double-A. He has had issues with his command as well, issuing 4.9 BB/9 (walks per nine innings).

Scott Linebrink, 33-year old journeyman, struggled in his time with the White Sox, but that can almost surely be attributed to the hitter’s environment of U.S. Cellular Field.

Linebrink allowed 16 homeruns (eight in 2010) and amassed a 4.65 ERA in 85 innings pitched at U.S. Cellular. Away from the unfriendly confines of his home stadium, Linebrink produced a much more respectable 3.88 ERA—though he allowed 12 homeruns.

Though he isn’t getting any younger, Linebrink should enjoy being back in the National League and have a respectable 2011 campaign with the Atlanta Braves, barring any injuries.


Other Transactions

Matt Diaz has likely played his last game for the Atlanta Braves. The club non-tendered the clubhouse and fan favorite yesterday.

Diaz’ sense of humor, terrorizing of lefties and hard nosed playing style will certainly be missed by Braves players and fans.

Diaz was told he would never be a major league ballplayer, yet the Braves and Bobby Cox took a chance on the relatively unknown 27-year old (at the time). Diaz didn’t disappoint in his five seasons with Atlanta, pounding Johan Santana and other left handed pitchers.

Diaz hit .305 with 41 homeruns, 128 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 1,385 at bats with the Braves.

While Diaz will not be returning to the ballclub in all likelihood, the move ensured that 1B/OF Eric Hinske would be staying in Atlanta. The Braves locked Hinske up with a one year, $1.45 million deal yesterday as well.

The former Rookie of the Year provided many clutch at bats off the bench and as a starter in 2010. He provides some positional flexibility as well as late inning power off the bench.

We’re just a week away from the Winter Meetings and Frank Wren will go in with a relatively clear conscience. He’s fulfilled the Braves’ most pressing needs thus far and seems to be content. You can’t rule out Wren making a surprise deal, but the Braves’ acquisitions seem to be all but wrapped up unless the Braves get an offer they can’t refuse.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below. You can e-mail me suggestions or questions at jtmcadams@aol.com. Follow me on Twitter @JoeSportswriter.

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MLB Rumors: 5 Possible Replacements for Philadelphia Phillies Jayson Werth

The Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth becomes a free agent at 12:01 AM ET this Sunday.   

While there is still a chance that Werth may remain in Philadelphia, many doubt that the Phillies will give him the contract that him and his agent Scott Boras are looking for.

Philadelphia’s talented outfielders currently include Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and the young Dominic Brown.  

The problem is that Werth provided a right-handed bat to a lineup that is lefty heavy.  Brown, his likely replacement, bats left-handed as well. 

Ibanez is not getting any younger and it is hard to predict his production next year.   

If the Phillies lose Werth, they need to sign or trade for another right-handed outfielder because Ben Francisco is not the answer.

Here are the best five possible fits for the Philadelphia Phillies if Jayson Werth signs with another team.  

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Braves’ Bats Not Booming, But Rather Lackluster and Lightweight

That Braves offense that led the charge to the top of the standings during a 20-win month of May has seemingly been relieved of command.

Going back to the All-Star break, the Braves are 7-9 since Brian McCann roped a bases-clearing double in the NL’s 3-1 win in the Mid-summer Classic.

News flash—the Braves only have won one series since then.

These are not the Braves that many Atlanta fans came to recognize during a two-month span that took them from last place to a 7.0 game lead in the NL East.

The offense was at one time atop the NL in runs scored. Now, the Braves sit seventh out of 16 teams. While holding the best team on-base percentage, they’re still only seventh in on-base plus slugging.

What this means: They’re still getting on base, but not with quality or timely at-bats.

Let’s just look at this most recent road trip.

The Braves’ three wins came one in each series. Jason Heyward had a big part in two of those wins, as he stole home against the Nationals, and doubled in the winning runs against the Reds on Friday.

Brooks Conrad delivered the big blow with a pinch-hit grand slam against the Marlins a week ago.

Brian McCann had two big games on the trip, and has generally been pretty consistent since the break. Matt Diaz’s bat has been somewhat inexplicably relegated to part-time duty.

Oh, Melky, Alex, Chipper, Troy, Eric. Care to give these guys a hand now that Prado’s out for a week or two???

Let’s go player by player and analyze (OBP/SLG/OPS) the peaks (and valleys) of the recent past.


Brian McCann

The All-Star has looked the part, as July was his best month of the season. He hit .321 for the month with five HRs and 20 RBI for a line that reads .409/.543/.952. His passed ball might have cost the Braves a win, but he was the only one to drive in runs that game for the Braves it seemed, so it’s hard to complain too much.


Troy Glaus

When Glaus hit a walk-off HR against Kansas City on June 19, he was hitting .280 with a .372/.496/.868 line, with 14 HR and 55 RBI. As of today, his averaged has dropped to .244 with a line that now reads .354/.410/.764 and upped his RBI total to 61.

Six weeks has produced six RBI. Yes, you read that right.

The month of July was “highlighted” with one multi-hit game, and an average of .182. His OPS line reads something that Tim Hudson would be embarrassed with:  .310/.234/.546.

He’s done nothing for six weeks, and somehow Bobby Cox still puts him in the four or five slot. It’s likely time to bench him, and call up Freddie Freeman.


Eric Hinske

Hinske’s July swoon hasn’t been as sharp as that of Troy Glaus. Three HRs and nine RBI in 52 at-bats doesn’t seem too bad, but he’s been inconsistent. After hitting above .300 in both April and July, Hinske’s average dipped to .260 in June and .212 in July. His .300/.442/.742 line for July means that he’s been clutch at times, cold at others.


Martin Prado

Fans all over Braves country cringed when they saw Prado slide home on Friday and immediately scream in pain as his right wrist got caught underneath him.

He’s come down after being well above .330 for most of the season. He powered six HRs during July, but for the month, only hit .257. When men were on base, he couldn’t come through for the big hit—if they were on base for him. Of his nine RBI in July, six of those times he drove in himself. Leadoff homeruns are great, but he can produce more RBI with some baserunners in front of him. His 22 RBI in May demonstrated that.


Omar Infante

Prado’s likely fill-in until the pinky is healed, Infante hit .429 during the month of July in 63 at-bats. His one HR and eight RBI during that span doesn’t jump out, but the .455/.492/.947 numbers probably should. The Braves need him to minimize the loss of Prado for a while, and maintain a hot bat in the middle infield to get the Braves on track.


Alex Gonzalez

Gonzo has been feeling under the weather the past few days, and that followed a five-game stretch where he didn’t get a hit. He hasn’t really been the run producer the Braves had hoped since coming over from Toronto. Perhaps that’s because no one’s on base for him to drive in. Nevertheless, the first 10 games after coming over—hitting .360 is something the Braves would love. Even .280 with some more clutch RBI the Atlanta fans and players would be thrilled with.


Chipper Jones

Chipper’s been consistent most of the season. Consistently not producing enough for a No. 3 hitter. His high RBI month is 15 (May), and he’s yet to hit more than two HRs in any month this season, or more than .270. Sorry, but a .329/.378/.708 line for the month of July for your “best” hitter is not going to cut it.

This is the one position the Braves don’t have an answer for. Based on his numbers, Jones should be hitting seventh in the lineup. Perhaps whatever retirement talk was going on earlier this season wasn’t exactly premature. I’m sure Jones, who’s as intelligent and studious a hitter as there ever will be, is not satisfied with what he’s been doing at the plate. I know Braves fans—like him or not—aren’t happy with the performance either.


Melky Cabrera

A lot of people stated the Braves didn’t get much for Javier Vazquez. Pretty sad when you consider the best part of the trade is a minor leaguer who might be dominant in the majors in a few years (Arodys Vizcaino).

July was Melky’s best month of the season. You might be laughing, but it was. Sort of.

Hitting .289 with a line of .353/.461/.813 is pretty respectable from a lower in the order guy. It was the first month this year the Melk Man had an OPS over .750

One HR and three RBI and looking slow in the outfield is not.


Matt Diaz

I have one request for Bobby Cox. Please put this man in the lineup just about every day?

Since Diaz came off the DL in late June, he’s arguably been the best run-producer for the Braves. In only 53 AB in July, Diaz smacked five HRs and knocked in 14 runs, while hitting .340.

Bobby, he’s healthy, and he can hit. Please let him do that. If you need any more information please look at the next line.


Guys with a month-long OPS of over 1.000 should not be playing half the time.

Yes, he’s a lefty-killer, hitting .369 over the previous three seasons against lefties. But .265 with 10 HR and 59 RBI over the same period against righties isn’t that bad. If he played against all lefties and a good number of righties, he’d project to be a .300+ hitter and smack 15-20 HR.

OK. Enough said.


Jason Heyward

Heyward’s not in the right spot in the lineup. Since his return from the DL, he’s hit .356 with a line that reads .457/.458/.915. But he hasn’t homered since I saw him blast one off James Shields in mid-June and only has six RBI.

The first six weeks of the season, when Heyward was healthy, he was driving the ball all over the place and driving in runs. He and McCann are the most dangerous hitters in the Braves lineup right now. Diaz has been more productive, but still isn’t quite in the category of Heyward and McCann.

So with the recent addition of Rick Ankiel (who could be good, and could be so-so), here’s how I would make out the Braves lineup (once Prado returns)


Against Lefties

  • 2B – Prado
  • 3B – Jones
  • RF – Heyward
  • LF – Diaz
  • C – McCann
  • SS – Gonzalez
  • 1B – Glaus
  • CF – Cabrera/Infante


Against Righties

  • 2B – Prado
  • 3B – Jones
  • RF – Heyward
  • C – McCann
  • LF – Diaz
  • CF – Ankiel
  • SS – Gonzalez
  • 1B – Glaus (or Freeman?)


Looking ahead a bit. There are two potential moves the Braves should make later this season or in the offseason to balance their lineup.

If Troy Glaus’ slump continues, perhaps calling up Freddie Freeman, or trading (again) for Adam LaRoche if the Diamondbacks wouldn’t want too much in return, might be necessary. Glaus has become a major hole in that lineup.

Right now, the Braves’ lineup is a bit left-heavy. They’re looking for a power bat, a right-handed one who would play the outfield, center if possible.

The free-agent market this year expects to include Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth. I can completely understand why the Braves couldn’t or wouldn’t get him in a trade (the Phillies aren’t going to trade a bat like that against their main competitor in the same division). However, next year, the Phillies seem to think that Domonic Brown will be manning right field, with Ibanez again in left and Victorino in center.

The Braves would be wise to give serious consideration to bringing in Werth to play between Diaz and Heyward and hit right before or after Brian McCann in the lineup.

Unless the Braves snap out of their offensive funk, the 2010 season may be over sooner than expected.

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Matt Diaz Deserves More Love from the Atlanta Braves

Matt Diaz deserves to be the every day starting left fielder for the Atlanta Braves.  His batting skills have earned it for him.  If he plays everyday in left, the Braves have a better chance to win the NL East. 

The Braves haven’t had a regular left fielder since the days of Ryan Klesko.  That’s so long ago Jason Heyward was in the second grade. Being a left fielder in Atlanta is about as safe as being the defense against the dark arts teacher at Hogwarts. No player has held down the starting position in left for 13 seasons. 

The one-and-done fill-ins have included the immortal likes of Garrett Anderson, Gregor Blanco, Ryan Langerhans, Kelly Johnson, Charles Thomas, B.J. Surhoff, Reggie Sanders, and Gerald Williams.  The only pseudo-stability occurred when they put a third baseman, Chipper Jones, in left from 2002-2003.  This was a complete disater, not only because of Chipper’s fielding but because Vinny Castilla provided nothing in his stead at third base.

Matt Diaz had the job for a spell in 2007, but injury prevented him form securing it again in 2008.  He deserves a second chance. 

The Braves acquired Diaz from the Royals in December 2005. Up to that point, Diaz had only played in 58 career games.  No one really knew what he could do.  Bobby Cox gave him a chance as a platoon player in the outfield.  Since then Diaz has done nothing but hit. 

In 470 games as a Brave, Diaz has produced a .314/.361/.466 batting line.  This includes two seasons in which he was injured and his production severely decreased.

In his three full seasons, Diaz produced an OPS+ of 114, 123 and 133 (OPS+ is a measure of how far above the league average OPS—set at 100—a player is). 

Diaz is clearly an improving, above average hitter.  He is certainly better than the Braves’ other left field prospects at this time, Melky Cabrera (.259/.319/.355) and Nate McLouth (.169/.282/.268).  Putting these two players in the lineup is not much better than having another pitcher hitting in the eighth spot. 

Since returning form the disabled listed on June 29th, Diaz has hit .378 with an OPS of 1.182.  He hit home runs in three straight games and has a hit in every game he’s started since returning. 

One knock against Diaz has been his fielding.  But Diaz has actually shown improvement in his fielding for four straight years. 

Baseball-Reference uses a formula to calculate the number of runs a player is better or worse than an average fielder.  Diaz’s last four years (staring in 2007) are -5, -2, 0 and 2.  The evidence suggests Diaz has worked diligently to improve his defense.

Bobby Cox uses Diaz in a platoon split, only allowing him to start against left-handed pitchers.  But in 2007, when Diaz got to play more in left because of injuries, he hit .318 against righties.  Diaz simply hasn’t had enough of a chance to establish himself against right-handers.  If given a chance to face them and adapt, he may well increase his batting prowess against right-handed pitching.

The same thing happened to Ryan Klesko in Atlanta.  He platooned and never started against lefties.  Then he was traded to San Diego, started everyday, hit just fine against lefties, and became an All-Star.

Allowing Matt Diaz to start everyday in left field gives the Braves the best chance to win.  He is much better than the current versions of Cabrera and McLouth.  Over his five seasons in Atlanta he has proven himself to be an accomplished hitter and an improving fielder.  He has earned the opportunity to provide Atlanta with some stability in left field.

I appreciate all feeback in the comments section or on “The Twitter” at twitter.com/ryanvooris.

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10 Things The Atlanta Braves Learned This Weekend

The Braves, who settled for a series split against the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, learned much about thier team in the process.

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Notes on Atlanta Braves: Heyward, Diaz, Kawakami, Medlen, and Jurrjens

Originally posted at The Bravesologist.


Jason Heyward:

After being tested by a hand specialist yesterday, Jason Heyward has been placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to Sunday, when he pinch-ran for Eric Hinske.

Heyward has had the injured hand since May and his play obviously diminished due to the injury (.181/.287/.245). The DL is probably the right move to make. If he is going to have to play with it for the full season, it makes sense to give him time to rest and get it at least close to healthy.

Having Heyward out of the lineup hurts offensively and defensively. The top of the lineup had no easy outs with Prado, Heyward, Jones, McCann, and Glaus at the top. All have very high on base percentages and have been the key cogs in the lineup all season. With Heyward out, Melky Cabrera becomes the regular right fielder and, unless Cox alters the lineup, will also man the two spot.

Matt Diaz:

Matt Diaz is being called up to replace Heyward, so at least the Braves should get a bit better against left-handed pitching. The outfield now has numerous options against both righties and lefties. Against righties, a combination of Eric Hinske, Gregor Blanco, and Melky Cabrera is likely best. Against lefties, Omar Infante, Melky Cabrera, and Matt Diaz is probably the most efficient group. I don’t expect Bobby to handle it this way, though. Most likely, Blanco will stick in centerfield almost full-time with Cabrera staying in right. Hinske and Diaz will probably platoon and Infante will get spot starts in the outfield and infield as usual.

If Diaz can produce like we have seen from him in the past and Blanco can continue to get on base, this outfield alignment may be a bit more productive than they have been as of late.

Kenshin Kawakami:

In a move that must have been a very difficult decision, Kenshin Kawakami has been demoted to the bullpen to make room for Kris Medlen. As i mentioned in past articles, either decision had merit. If Medlen were moved to the bullpen, his innings would be limited and the bullpen would be strengthened. If Kawakami were moved to the bullpen, we would have the better pitcher throwing more innings in Medlen.

Jair rejoining the rotation alongside Medlen means that we are replacing one of our worst starters with one of our best starters from the previous year. If Kris were the one to be removed, we would be replacing one of our best starters this year, this was the right decision.

Kris Medlen:

I was vying to keep Medlen in the rotation pretty heavily as the deciding day day neared. I just believe Medlen is significantly better than Kawakami and his 3.70 K/BB ratio as a starter justifies that notion. Kris’ change up is far-and-away the best on the team and his fastball sets it up nicely. Medlen’s numbers may eventually dip a bit, but overall I think he should continue to act as one of the top three starters on this team. Medlen’s 0.90 WHIP in June lead all starters by a significant margin, with Tim Hudson finishing second at 1.21.

Jair Jurrjens:

Jair Jurrjens replacing Kawakami should mean an even more sturdy rotation, but there is a chance that Jurrjens is not quite ready yet. He has pitched rather poorly at Gwinnett in his rehab starts (6.38 ERA and a 1.36 K/BB ratio in 24 innings).

Jurrjens will face the Nationals on Wednesday and the Phillies in Philadelphia on Tuesday if all goes accordingly. Unless the Braves alter the rotation, he would just miss pitching again before the All-Star break and likely pick it back up at home against the Brewers at the start of the second half.


Overall, there was some good news and bad news in the past day. The Braves were able to beat Stephen Strasburg thanks to a tremendous pitching performance by Tim Hudson and they took advantage of the National’s spotty defense. Jair Jurrjens will return on Wednesday and Kris Medlen gets to stay in the rotation. Matt Diaz will return to the team and hopefully better the offense against left-handed pitching. Unfortunately, the likely All-Star, Jason Heyward will miss 14 more days including the All-Star game.


You can find more from Ben at The Bravesologist  , Talking Chop  , or on his twitter@Ben_Duronio

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