Tag: Rick Ankiel

Washington Nationals: Mike Cameron or Rick Ankiel on Opening Day Roster?

This past week the Washington Nationals announced the signing of Rick Ankiel to a minor-league deal.  Along with Mike Cameron, Ankiel gives the Nationals some depth (albeit aged depth) in the outfield heading into spring training.

While neither name will shake the Capitol building, both stand a chance of making the opening-day roster.

While general manager Mike Rizzo has not found his long-term option for center field, this spring could provide for a pretty interesting competition for that spot.

Ankiel’s deal involves an invitation to spring training, and one can assume that Rizzo would like to at least retain Ankiel’s services in the minor leagues, where he would be ready for major league call-up.  Ankiel, after all, possesses the strongest arm of all the Nationals outfield options.

Camerson also has signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.  Cameron’s deal includes a $1 million bonus if he makes the Opening Day roster, and he can earn $750,000 in incentives as well.

Obviously, both players want to fill that center field role for the Nats, currently held by Roger Bernadina, according to the team’s depth chart.

It would appear that this is a three-dog race.

Cameron, who is 39 years old, actually has  the best overall offensive numbers going back to 2008.  Rick Ankiel has the second-best, followed by Bernadina.  The irony being  that their offensive finish came in accordance to their age from oldest to youngest.  

Here is a look at their basic batting lines:

Cameron .241 .327 .438 .765
Ankiel .243 .309 .416 .725
Bernadino .242 .304 .364 .668

At the plate, it is obvious that no one hits for average much better than the other.  The difference is minute.  However, Cameron shows the ability to get on base more often, and when he does get a hit, it usually it results in multiple bases.

Ankiel is your median player pretty much across the board.  He will be  32 years old to start the season (and will turn 33 in mid-season) and is pretty even-keeled across the board.  There is nothing that will blow your mind.  The same can be said for Bernadino.

Looking a bit more closely at the figures, Ankiel has played in 438 games since 2008.  That is 43 more than Cameron and 184 more than Bernadino.  However, Cameron has managed to eclipse Ankiel in plate appearnces by 63 (1,585 to 1,522) while Bernadino is not even in that conversation.  

Actually, the only conversation in which Bernadino belongs is age and batting line.  His offensive numbers will fall short unless prorated due to his lack of games played.  To be fair, I will do just that: prorate his numbers, which will be indicated with an asterisk from here out.

While Ankiel leads the charge with hits, Cameron is just one hit behind him:  335 to 334. Bernadino would fall short at 291*.

For power numbers, Cameron leads in home runs, hitting 62. Ankiel has managed 51 and Bernadino 27*.

In runs scored and RBI, not surprisingly, Cameron finished first as well: 198 runs, 182 RBI. Ankiel had 192 runs and 170 RBI, and Bernadino 155* runs and 114* RBI.

On the other side of the ball, age could  prove to be a negative for Cameron and Ankiel.  They have many more miles on their legs than Bernadino.  Though Ankiel has the strongest arm, he is also, as I mentioned, almost 33 years old.  Bernadino is just about four years his junior.

The three-dog race during spring training should prove to be a very interesting one.  While Cameron appears to be the top choice on paper (including an impressive resume consisting of three Gold Glove Awards), his age makes him susceptible to injury.

I find it highly improbable to not see Bernadino on the major league roster, either as the starting center fielder or fourth outfielder.  The true race comes down to Cameron and Ankiel.

Without knowing the exact parameters of Ankiel’s deal, it is hard to gauge whether the final decision will be a financial one.  While Cameron historically has been the better player, the team could opt for Ankiel if  that saves money without seeing a drastic drop in offensive numbers.

Then again, who knows? Maybe Bryce Harper comes in and  takes the job away from all three of these guys.

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Statistically Speaking Nyjer Morgan Should Start Center for Washington Nationals

Opening Day 2011 is less than a week away, and the Washington Nationals have yet to officially name their starting center fielder. Unofficially, the Washington Post is reporting that Rick Ankeil will get the nod, essentially banishing Nyjer Morgan to Syracuse to start the season.

Apparently the Nationals have chosen power over speed, which does not exactly jive with what they have been doing in the offseason. If this was the plan from the beginning, couldn’t they have kept Josh Willingham and played either Jayson Werth or Mike Morse in center?

I know Morgan had a terrible season in 2010, but Rick Ankeil actually played worse.

(And for those of you who aren’t statistically inclined, bare with me.)

Morgan sported a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of .9; Ankeil’s WAR was at .7, which basically means that Morgan contributed .9 more wins to his team compared to a “average replacement player” (think Willie Harris) and Ankiel contributed .7.

Defensively, Morgan is a far better player than Ankeil. In 2010, Ankiel posted a UZR of -.5 compared to Morgan’s 3.0. For those of you not familiar with the UZR stat, that means Ankiel is a slightly below average defender, and Morgan is an above average defender. In 2009, Morgan posted a UZR of 27.6, which is the equivalent to the Plastic Man with a glove.

Center field is one of the most important defensive positions, and the Nats have chosen to put a liability there. And for what? A marginal offensive player. For a player who has hit 17 home runs combined in the last two seasons.

Offensively, Rick Ankiel is the better player, but only slightly. In 2010, he posted a better OBP than Morgan, but just slightly–.321 to .319. But a lot of that can be attributed to luck, or lack thereof.

Morgan’s putrid seasons was made even worse by his unluckiness. Morgan’s batting average on balls put in play (BABIP) was .304, which is around the league average, but way below the average of players with the type of speed Morgan possesses. In 2008 and 2009, Morgan’s BABIP was .364 and .355, respectively.

BABIP is not a skill-based statistic. The average is around .300, for both good and bad players alike. The key is putting balls in play, and in 2010, Morgan’s contact percentage was just as high as it has been in his career: around 85 percent.

So it can be argued that Morgan’s disastrous season at the dish in 2010 may have had more to do with bad luck than bad play.

Ankiel actually posted a BABIP of .319, well above the league and his career average, and despite his luck, he hit only .253. This can be attributed to his low contact percentage (74 percent). His low contact percentage can be attributed to his poor discipline at the plate. Ankiel swings at pitches out of the zone 33.2 percent of the time. Morgan is a little more disciplined swinging at balls only 31.2 percent of the time.

In all, Morgan contributes more to the team overall, is a better defender, and a more disciplined hitter whose 2010 season may have been an unlucky aberration—at least the stats say so.

And after processing all those stats, if you are confused, it’s okay; now you know how I felt when I heard Ankiel was starting.

(Stats courtesy of fangraphs.com)

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Atlanta Braves: The Top 5 Moments of 2010

This past year presented Atlanta Braves fans with plenty of moments to relish.

This was the first time the Braves had reached the playoffs since 2005 and was the final season for venerable manager Bobby Cox.

But, I’m staying away from those topics for this slideshow.

Instead, I’m focusing on singular moments over the course of the calendar year that Braves fans will be talking about for years to come rather than events that involved a culmination of years/months of dedicated work to draw their fanfare.

So, without further adieu, my top-five moments for the Atlanta Braves for 2010.

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One More Season: Rick Ankiel Signs With The Washington Nationals in 2011

The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with former Cardinals Starting Pitcher and OF Rick Ankiel, reports Sports Illustrated’s John Heyman.  The deal is worth $1.25 million dollars for one year.  He can earn another $1.25MM in performance bonuses.

Ankiel has a great baseball story to him. Rick attended Port St. Lucie High School in Florida, where he went 11–1 with a 0.47 ERA during his senior season, striking out 162 batters in 74.0 innings pitched, and was named the High School Player of the Year by USA Today in 1997. He was also a first-team high-school All-American pitcher.  He was so good he didn’t even need to be drafted.  

Ankiel signed with the Cardinals out of high school for a $2.5 million signing bonus, the fifth-highest ever given to an amateur player. In 1998, he was voted the best pitching prospect in both the Carolina and Midwest leagues, and was the Carolina League’s All-Star starting pitcher, Baseball America’s first-team Minor League All-Star starting pitcher, and the Cardinals’ Minor League Player of the Year. That year he led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts, with 222.  Ankiel had so much promise he was even compared to the likes of former Cardinals lefty Steve Carlton.

In 1999, he was named the Minor League Player of the Year by both Baseball America and USA Today. He was also Texas Leaguer All-Star pitcher, Double-A All-Star starting pitcher, Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year, and Baseball America 1st team Minor League All-Star starting pitcher.

 He pitched his first full season in 2000 at the age of 20 (second youngest in the league), posting an 11–7 record, a 3.50 ERA(tenth in the league), and 194 strikeouts (seventh in the league) in 30 games started. . He struck out batters at a rate of 9.98 strikeouts per nine innings (second in the NL only to Randy Johnson), and allowed only 7.05 hits per nine innings (second only to Chan Ho Park). He came in second (to Raphael Furcal) in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He received The Sporting News Rookie Pitcher of the Year Award.

Then, disaster struck in the 2000 in the NL Division Series vs the Atlanta Braves. It wa clear Ankiel was having a bad game in the first two innings, but in the third inning, his stat line grew to this: 8 batters faced, 35 pitches, 4 earned runs, 2 hits, 4 walks, 5 wild pitches. 

Quickly the event was brushed off like a bad day as most pitchers experience, but something wasn’t quite right.  However, his next start in Game 2 of the NLCS vs the New York Mets, Ankiel threw everywhere but the catchers glove in the first inning.  Ankiel appeared again in the seventh inning of Game 5 facing four hitters, walking two, and throwing two more wild pitches. The Cardinals lost the series four games to one to the Mets.

The 2001 season had Ankiel reeling.  The loss of control was unknown to anyone, even himself.  He started the season so bad, he was sent all the way down to the Johnson City Cardinals, where he regained control and learned to be a part time Designated-Hitter.  A video can be seen herehttp://best.complex.com/2000s/Top-100-Sports-Moments/rick-ankiels-nlcs-pitching-meltdown  where Ankiel had another meltdown in AAA-Memphis where the crowd didn’t even give him the sympathy and heckled his control issues.

Thankfully, the story gets better.

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LA Dodgers’ Dark Horse Winter: 5 Potential Unexpected Additions for Next Year

This offseason marks a turbulent time for Major League Baseball, as several key names around the league are free agents, and many of them have already begun the steps towards a new team and a new beginning. 

By now, experts and analysts everywhere are already buzzing about the possibilities of blockbuster trades and big-name free agent signings.

Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti has leaked to the media his plan to add starting and relief pitching, and maybe acquire a power bat if the price is right.

With this in mind, let’s explore the possibilities no one is talking about.

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MLB Playoffs 2010: Braves Bullpen, Rick Ankiel Topple Giants In Game 2

In my Atlanta Braves-San Francisco Giants NLDS preview, I thought the Giants bullpen would be the difference in this series. For the Giants, their bullpen was the difference in Game 2 of this series, but not in a good way.

The Giants bullpen blew a three-run lead as the Braves came back to beat San Francisco 5-4 in 11 innings. Their best-of-five series is now tied at one game apiece.


Ankiel’s HR in the 11th tied the series at 1-all

After Braves starter Tommy Hanson was relatively ineffective for four innings (five hits and four runs), the Braves turned to their bullpen to try to keep them in the game. Not only did their bullpen keep them in the game, but they really won the game for the Braves.

Mike Dunn, Peter Moylan, Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel, Billy Wagner, and Kyle Farnsworth held the Giants down for seven innings. The six pitchers combined to allow just five hits, no runs, one walk, and they struck out eight in those seven innings of work.

You know things are going well when Farnsworth is shutting things down.

As the Braves  bullpen was doing their part, the Giants bullpen was doing the opposite.

Entering the eighth inning with a three-run lead, Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson couldn’t hold down the fort. Derrek Lee singled to left and Brian McCann roped a single to right off Romo. And just like that, Romo was out of the game.

Bruce Bochy then went to Wilson to try to get six outs. It was the right move to bring Wilson into the game, but I really didn’t think Wilson was warmed up.

He looked stiff and his fastball was flat coming out of the gate. That flat fastball hurt Wilson and the Giants because Alex Gonzalez ripped a double to left-center and tied the game at four.

The game stayed tied at four until the top of the 11th when Rick Ankiel absolutely destroyed a pitch from Ramon Ramirez into McCovey Cove.

Here are some other observations from last night’s game…

With Billy Wagner retiring at the end of the year, the Braves might have an internal option to replace him. I think that option should be Kimbrel. He is legit.

Speaking of Wagner, the Braves win might have come at a major cost. Wagner left the game in the 10th due to an oblique injury. It didn’t look good, and I would be surprised if Wagner pitched again in this series.

The collision between Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey was legendary. That was the definition of the “immovable object versus the irresistible force.”

The Gonzalez play at first in the second inning was a close call, but wasn’t worth Bobby Cox getting ejected for it.

Anyone else notice Matt Cain went to the stretch in the seventh inning with nobody on base? I wonder why he did that?

Jason Heyward is really struggling right now. He is 0-for-8 in two games and is five for his last 31 at the plate.

Game 3 will be Sunday afternoon and will pit Jonathan Sanchez against Tim Hudson.

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Rick Ankiel’s “Pinnacle of Career” Helps Braves Tie NLDS With Giants

When Atlanta Braves reliever Billy Wagner stiffly lunged off the mound to field a groundball hit by Andres Torres and immediately grabbed his side upon throwing to first base, I had a terrible feeling this would be the last time one of the greatest closers in history would grace a major league mound. The 39-year old, who was crouched on the ground in agony, was joined by the medical staff and catcher Brian McCann, and then was gingerly ushered into the dugout and towards the clubhouse.

The injury, which I estimate to be a strained oblique, did not appear to be something Wagner can shrug off. Given his desire to retire at season’s end, this was most likely the end to his Hall of Fame-worthy career, and, considering the enviable situation the San Francisco Giants found themselves in, it appeared the Braves would be sent to elimination’s brink.

Edgar Renteria was on second base, having reached on a bunt to begin the tenth inning–a bunt Wagner appeared to originally hurt himself going after. The Giants were in prime position to take a 2-0 series lead heading back to Atlanta, needing just a single to do so, but how extra innings were forced makes what transpired quite remarkable and fitting.

The Giants grabbed an early lead backed by Pat “The Bat” Burrell, who lived up to his one-dimensional nickname by slugging a first inning three-run blast off Tommy Hanson and over the left-field wall. Then they added to the advantage, scoring a run in the second on an rbi-single by pitcher Matt Cain.

That lead held for five innings, as Cain didn’t let the Braves take full advantage of a collection of hits by their many veteran hitters. But, eventually, the 26-year old right-hander couldn’t halt every attempted rally. Braves first baseman Derek Lee singled to begin the sixth and reached second as Burrell bobbled the ball in left. Lee’s wherewithal to take the extra base paid immediate dividends. McCann delivered as he has done all year, lining a single into center to plate Lee and cut the margin to three.

Reliever Mike Dunn, one of the Braves many impressive and aggressive bullpen arms with a closer’s mentality, came out for the sixth after pitching a scoreless fifth, retired the dangerous Aubrey Huff, and then gave way to Peter Moylan. Moylan, their team leader in appearances, worked around a double by Burrell to escape the threat.

No noise was made by either team in the seventh, but some was in the eighth. The Giants were the victim of this noise, as the Braves battled back against their usually dominant closer Brian Wilson, a bearded, quirky, and mohawk-boasting character. He entered after Sergio Romo, who was sporting a similarly scruffy black beard, allowed singles to Lee and McCann, and his job now was to collect just his second six-out save of the season.

Atlanta, down three, needed a big inning, and their call was answered. The pudgy Melky Cabrera hit a grounder to an equally out of shape Pablo Sandoval and reached as Sandoval’s throw took Huff off the bag at first, loading the bases with none out. Brooks Conrad and Alex Gonzalez made sure this opportunity wouldn’t go to waste, as Conrad’s groundout helped the Braves inch closer while Gonzalez’s ensuing drive into the left-center gap sent the basepath’s final two runners to the plate, knotting the affair at four.

It was still tied after nine, sending the game to an ever-exciting tenth. The Giants were in a prime position to score in the bottom of the frame, with the bases juiced and one out. Catcher Buster Posey, the hitter San Francisco wanted up in this situation, is usually very clutch but he couldn’t convert. A flyball lifted into the outfield would have a great chance at scoring the winning run, yet he only managed to weakly hit a slider from Kyle Farnsworth down the third-base line. Troy Glaus, who had assumed the position to begin the inning, handled his first attempt as well as possible. Instead of going home, he immediately made up his mind to try for the traditional double-play. Gonzalez fielded his throw at second base then spun and fired to first. Lee snagged the throw before Posey’s arrival and pumped his fist. Double-play: just what the Braves needed to stay alive.

A wasted chance turned into, well, what Rick Ankiel proceeded to do. Ankiel, who pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals a decade ago, lost all sense of command, and transformed into an outfielder, strode to the plate with one out against Ramon Ramirez. Acquired from the Kansas City Royals mid-season along with Farnsworth, he has struggled in Atlanta, hitting for a low batting average and little power. But, he managed to make Braves fans everywhere forget about his woes with one swing.

And my oh my what a swing it was. As powerful as he could produce, creating the sound every hitter dreams of hearing. Ramirez’s fifth pitch on a 2-2 count was thrown right down the pipe, in Ankiel’s wheelhouse. And Ankiel, who has been through so much during his tumultuous major league career, certainly didn’t miss it, crushing the offering deep into the night. After contact he thrust his right arm in the air. Seconds later the ball splashed into McCovey Cove. The ballpark fell silent. All that could be heard during the next few minutes was the announcers covering the blast on TBS, the cheers from the select few Braves fans amongst the record crowd of 44,046, and the jubilation inside the Braves dugout prior and especially during Ankiel’s arrival. Ankiel, like his teammates and those fans who made the long journey from Georgia, was all smiles. In the moments after being ambushed, he motioned to a coach that his heart was beating rapidly. He couldn’t believe what had just happened. Neither could the Giants.

San Francisco went quietly in the bottom of the inning, giving the Braves the victory heading home, where they were a major-league best 56-25 during the season. This may have been Wagner’s last game, but his Braves are far from done. The credit for that is due to Farnsworth and Ankiel; Farnsworth, who posted a 5.40 ERA in 23 regular season appearances, and Ankiel, who hit just .210 in 47 games with Atlanta. Ankiel, the 31 year old who, ten years ago, allowed seven runs in four playoff appearances with the Cardinals on five hits and a nightmarish and career-changing 11 walks, spanning the NLDS and NLCS. Ankiel, whose homer that sunk San Francisco “was the biggest home-run of my career … the pinnacle of my career,” washing away memories of his painful past.

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Atlanta Braves Edge San Francisco Giants in Game 2: Jonathan Sanchez Must Save Season

The Atlanta Braves couldn’t get anything started against the San Francisco Giants‘ vaunted pitching staff, so the home-standing Gents took an admittedly unorthodox approach.

They decided to start the Bravos’ offense themselves—not the wisest thing to do for your World Series aspirations, but it sure makes for an exciting night of baseball.

And another significant challenge for emerging southpaw Jonathan Sanchez.

A Pat Burrell bobble in left field helped give Atlanta its first run in 14 divisional-series innings, though Bobby Cox’ squad would have to wait a little longer for its first earned run. That rally two innings later was also aided by an error as a wayward throw from Pablo Sandoval allowed Melky Cabrera to reach and eventually cross the plate as the tying run.

Extra innings were needed to settle the affair, a feat accomplished in the 11th inning when Rick Ankiel exorcised his personal playoff demons with a Bondsian blast into McCovey Cove off of Ramon Ramirez. The former St. Louis Cardinal pitcher, who infamously disintegrated in Game 1 of the 2000 National League Division Series with five wild pitches, obliterated a solo home run that only needed to be heard.

The sound alone told you it wasn’t staying dry.

And that the series was going back to Hotlanta tied at one game apiece.

Somewhat lost in all the shuffle was a blinder from Matt Cain in his postseason debut.

He picked up right where Tim Lincecum left off; though Cainer didn’t match the Freak, he twirled a fantastic ballgame. The 26-year-old tossed six-and-two-thirds innings while tolerating seven hits, two walks, an unearned run, and whiffing six.

Alas, the big right-hander’s defense and bullpen let him down as two regular-season strengths turned into playoff albatrosses in front of the appalled AT&T Park crowd.

Brian Wilson was up from the start of his appearance and that never bodes well for any pitcher, even one of the best door-slammers in the game. The colorful closer got bruised a bit when Alex Gonzalez scalded a ball to the left-center gap, but the only run that crossed home plate belonging to Wilson was unearned thanks to Sandoval’s E-5.

The two earnies belonged to the real bullpen goat, Sergio Romo.

The normally reliable eight-inning man faced two batters (Derrek Lee and Brian McCann), allowed them both to reach on singles, and each would come around to score when Romo’s bearded compadre took a few batters to find his postseason legs.

Meanwhile, the Braves late-inning crew was pressed into early duty by a mediocre playoff debut from Tommy Hanson.

The youngster had a rough first frame that saw Burrell’s three-run jimmy-jack create an early deficit and wouldn’t make the fifth, but a parade of Atlanta relievers stifled the Giants‘ lumber. Southpaw Mike Dunn, righty Peter Moylan, lefty Jonny Venters, and right-hander Craig Kimbrel torched San Francisco‘s lineup with five scoreless innings that saw only three baserunners and eight strikeouts.

Then Kyle Farnsworth did his best to deliver Game 2 on a silver platter after Braves’ closer Billy Wagner left with what looked like a serious injury to his side. Of course, los Gigantes’ season-long nemesis—the dreaded double-play grounder—knifed them in the back again.

Buster Posey was the culprit this time, grounding into a 5-4-3 twin-killing in the bottom of the tenth with the bases loaded.

Ankiel would hit his moon ball two Brave batters later and Farnsworth would put the finishing touches on his win.

Now, Jonathan Sanchez must continue his recent spate of effectively wild outings in order to save the Giants’ tortuous 2010 season. A loss in Game 3 would either require a start from Lincecum on short rest or a horrifically unfavorable predicament for 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner’s first taste of playoff baseball.

All is not lost, however.

True, the lefty did issue 19 free passes in September and October. But he suffered a mere18 hits and half of those were singles i.e. you better hope he walks you because the league “hit” Jonathan to the tune of a .151 batting average and a .261 slugging percentage in 35.2 frames spanning those two months.

The faithful will also recall that he started and won the NL West clincher against the San Diego Padres on Sunday. He set a suffocating tone with the pennant hanging in the balance, a pressure-packed turn on the bump if there ever was one as 161 games culminated in a single contest.

The San Francisco Giants and their fans must hope Jonathan Sanchez is up to the challenge once again.

Because, this time, 164 games depend on it.


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Atlanta Braves New Acquisitions Must Step Up in Playoff Push

Although the Atlanta Braves have been leading the NL East for some time now, they made a number of trades to try and strengthen their team for the stretch run.

With the Phillies getting key players back in their lineup seemingly every day, the Braves were looking for guys like Rick Ankiel, Derek Lee, and Kyle Farnsworth to fill in some holes that the team had.

The Braves did well by not giving up any major prospects (although Tim Collins could be great, his value is limited by the fact that he is a reliever; the best prospect they gave up was Robinson Lopez, who has a high ceiling but is unpolished as of right now) and seemingly improved their ballclub.

However, if the Braves are going to be playing throughout October, the new arrivals will need to step up their play since they haven’t exactly set the world on fire since joining the Braves.

Thus far, Alex Gonzalez has been the only new arrival to play reasonably close to his expectations. Gonzalez has a better batting average (.267 to .259) in Atlanta but a lower slugging percentage and OPS. While Yunel Escobar has actually played better, the Braves have to be happy that unlike Escobar, Gonzalez isn’t a distraction who seems to have his head elsewhere during a pennant race.

Unlike Gonzalez, Lee, Ankiel, and Farnsworth haven’t given the Braves much of anything since coming to Atlanta.

In 20 games, Ankiel was hitting just .212 and slugging just .318. Gregor Blanco, a centerfielder the Braves sent to the Royals (who in my opinion, should have been given more of a chance after hitting .310 with the team earlier this year) has a .275 batting average and eight stolen bases (as well as .362 slugging percentage, which is bad but higher than Ankiel’s) in 18 games with the Royals.

Although The Farns had done well earlier this year with Kansas City, he has been terrible with the Braves, posting a 9.45 ERA in his first 6.2 innings pitched. Although he is striking out a ton of batters, walks (he has already allowed five) have been a problem.

Finally, we get to the Braves most recent acquisition, first baseman Derrek Lee.

Brought in after Chipper Jones was injured to give the Braves more pop in their lineup, Lee has sucked the life out of the cleanup spot. In his first five games with the club, Lee has just two hits (and eight strikeouts) in 19 at-bats.

To be fair to all the players acquired (especially Lee), it is important to note that they have only a small amount of at-bats in Atlanta. If any of the Braves new acquisitions were to go on a month long tear through the end of the season, they would end up with terrific numbers in a Braves uniform despite their slow starts.

With Utley, Howard, and Victorino all back in the Phillies lineup, the Braves will likely need some added offense to hold off Philadelphia over the remainder of the year. If Ankiel and Lee can start hitting like they have in the past, the Braves should finish strong and be playing into October. 

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MLB Trade Deadline: Braves Trade for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth

For Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, and Tim Collins, the Braves acquired the now infamous converted-pitcher Rick Ankiel and an old friend (save the 2005 NLDS) in Kyle Farnsworth (as well as come cash from the Royals).

That’s a right-handed reliever with a straight fastball, a AAAA outfielder (as much as we loved him in Atlanta), and a 5’7″ lefty with a huge ceiling and awesome stuff (308 Ks in 202.2 career MiLB innings) for two more-than-serviceable Major Leaguers.

Braves fans may be screaming the curses of Frank Wren for not acquiring a Josh Willingham or Cody Ross at this year’s deadline…but by acquiring a more-than-solid right-handed reliever and decent center fielder, Atlanta’s GM did the team a great service.

Regardless of what expectations might have been, this isn’t an awful trade by any stretch of the imagination.

Farnsworth gives the Braves a fresh-ish (44.2 innings in 2010) arm that has been very solid for an awful Royals team—posting a 2.42 ERA with a 3:1 K:BB ratio and near-career-best WHIP of 1.16.

In Ankiel, the Braves get a hot-hitting (he’s gotten a hit in six of eight games since returning from the DL with one homer and three doubles en route to 11 hits total), solid-defensing center fielder with the potential to slug a few homers down the stretch at full health.


Jesse Chavez—who provided more scares out of the bullpen than production.

Gregor Blanco—a no-power, slap-hitting outfielder whose speed off the bench could be easily replaced by AAA outfielder Willy Taveras.

And Tim Collins—a lefty reliever with a bright future.

So…that amounts to one high-quality piece and two “meh” guys for the Royals tandem headed to Atlanta.

Oh, and Medlen, Minor, Delgado, Teheran, Vizcaino, and others are still on the farm (all were tradeable…but they are nice pieces to still have in your back pocket).

No, this isn’t like acquiring Jose Bautista or Roy Oswalt…but it isn’t bad at all.

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