Monthly Archives: August 2009

Know Your Potential September 1st Callups

On September 1st, two important things happen involving major league rosters:

  1. Players who are not on the 40-man roster at this time cannot be on the postseason roster.
  2. Ballclubs are allowed to use anyone on the 40-man roster, effectively expanding gameday rosters by 15 players.

So, if you’re like me, who are you likely to see suddenly appear on the bench or in the bullpen next week? Let’s start with the pitchers.

  • Tim Hudson (currently on 60-day disabled list) should be activated by the end of the month after a successful rehab start Sunday at AAA Gwinnett (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K). Since he is not currently on the 40-man roster (due to being on the 60-day DL) someone will have to be designated for assignment to make room for him, and I’m not sure who’s a candidate for that. So it’s possible someone below may not make it up next Tuesday.
  • Buddy Carlyle has been pitching in relief at Gwinnett, where he’s allowed only two earned runs in 13.2 IP and a 21:1 K:BB ratio. While that is inline with his past minor league numbers his major league ratio (189:93) is less encouraging. He was DL’ed in May after being diagnosed with Type I diabetes and started a rehab stint earlier this month, so his return was probably a given anyway, but I can’t say I’ve particularly missed him.
  • Stephen Marek was brought up to AAA for about a month this summer before being sent back down to AA Mississippi, probably because he only pitched 5.2 innings, walked 7 guys (while only striking out 4) and gave up 5 earned runs. He was acquired in the trade for Casey Kotchman and projected to appear in the pen after a promising Arizona Fall stint last year, but even in AA he has struggled with his control (25:28 K:BB in 35 IP). In his last 10 appearance, he has walked and struck out 8 while giving up 11 hits while getting plenty of playing time over the past week or so, which suggests to me that the Braves may be trying to see if he’s got anything or if he will be the casualty when Hudson is reactivated.
  • James Parr has battled injuries all year (apparently, I can’t find any detailed information) and is currently on the minor league disabled list. When he hasn’t been on the DL, he’s been okay, but there’s not really enough data about him to make a definitive judgment.
  • Todd Redmond has been starting for Gwinnett all year, going 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA and decent ratios except for a team-leading 19 HRs, though he also leads the team by far in IP.
  • Jo-Jo Reyes has been doing his usual sort of Jo-Jo Reyes things at AAA Gwinnett, moving back into starting in early August. He’s been decent but not great, basically.
  • Luis Valdez has been Gwinnett’s closer and except for one hiccup back on the 13th, he’s been doing reasonably well, with 66 strikeouts in 65.2 IP and not a lot of walks. Provided he can get major league hitters out with similar frequency, he would let off some pressure on the very overworked back of the bullpen.

Now, the position players:

  • Clint Sammons (C) has been doing his Clint Sammons thing at Gwinnett: catching baseballs, throwing base stealers out about a third of the time, and not hitting at all (.221 BA, 636 OPS). His callup to Atlanta will be useful, though, as it will let the Braves use David Ross more off the bench as pinch hitter in the place of Greg Norton.
  • Barbaro Canizares (1B) saw some action earlier this year when he got to start 5 games at first but didn’t really make the most of it. He’s always been around a .300 hitter in the minors but has seen his power drop off at all leaves above A-ball.
  • Brooks Conrad (2B) is an excellent name for a baseball player and he really made a splash when he was called up last month while the entire infield was on the DL. That’s really about it, though, as his AAA numbers are much more mundane: .269 average, 791 OPS and 12 HRs.
  • Diory Hernandez (SS) was with the big league club throughout most of the summer as a replacement for Omar Infante, where he didn’t hit a whole lot, in stark contrast to his performance at Gwinnett where he sports a 439 OBP and a .364 average. Considering he got 93 plate appearances in the big leagues and only hit .141, we can assume that he’s getting lucky at AAA or really unlucky in the majors.
  • Brian Barton (OF) hasn’t really been doing much of anything at AAA and at 27 years old, may be running out of time. He served as a pinch hitter/4th outfielder extraordinaire for the Cardinals last year and was traded for Blaine Boyer and hasn’t been heard from since.
  • Gregor Blanco (OF) has been playing everyday for Gwinnett but was sent down earlier this year after a disappointing stint in the majors to make room for Greg Norton. Perhaps it was telling that a relative unknown (Reid Gorecki) was called up when Nate McLouth was DL’ed instead of Blanco.
  • Brandon Jones (OF) is still searching for the power production he lost somewhere on the trip from Mississippi to Richmond. Once projected to crack the starting outfield in the majors, he future is in doubt. He had a cup of coffee back in late April/early May and got a handful of hits and not much else.
  • Nate McLouth (CF, 15-day DL) is currently on the disabled list due to an unhappy hamstring. As seemingly the only person on the team who can steal a base, the Braves anxiously await his return.
  • Jordan Schafer (OF) recently had the cast on his left arm removed and plans to resume swinging a bat soon. The Braves hope the guy they originally wanted to start in CF for them will be back at some point. I like to think the long-term plan for the OF involves Schafer in center, with McLouth in right and a platoon in left next year with that spot eventually occupied by Jason Heyward.

Speaking of Mr. Heyward, he was recently invited to the Arizona Fall League along with fellow Braves mega-prospect Freddie Freeman. If the Braves really want to, they could add these guys to the 40-man roster in time for September and let them get a cup of coffee, though they may not for arbitration reasons. Nonetheless, since his promotion to AA, all Heyward has done is hit, with a 1046 OPS in 151 at-bats (though this may be enhanced somewhat by 4 triples). Freeman has been much worse since his promotion to AA in late June, as his average has fallen off 40 points (and his slugging is worse). At their current rates, Heyward is probably a lot closer to the majors than Freeman is.

Update: Jordan Schafer will have surgery on his injured wrist, which I would guess means a trip to the 60-day DL. They may use this as a chance to do a simple swap for Hudson, but it could get more interesting than that. Stay tuned.

Rating the 2009 Non-Conference Slate: Epilogue

Before we can properly dive back in to college football, let’s examine our treatment of the best, and worst, of college football scheduling this year. Unlike the previous editions, this has a bit of subjectiveness to it, after all, no one really cares what kind of schedule Duke plays – the point here is to reward or shame programs that should, well, know better.

First, the shaming.
11. Rutgers (0.1 legit average, 2 DI-AA): Howard, FIU, @Maryland, @Army, Texas Southern. My arbitrary cut-off for consideration was a 0.1 “legit average”, which is simply the number of legit points divided by the number of OOC games a team plays. This completely uninspiring slate sees two DI-AA teams stop in and only one BCS opponent. But it gets worse. It gets much worse.
10. Arizona (0.833, 1): Central Michigan, Northern Arizona, @Iowa. Iowa doesn’t rate very highly on the “legit” scale, which is perhaps unfair, but this is still a pretty bad schedule. It’s an improvement over last year’s effort, though. Perhaps it’s a sign of change for a gradually rising program?
9. Louisiana State (0.0625, 0): @Washington, UL-Lafayette, Tulane, Louisiana Tech. Yeah, yeah, it sucks that Washington is terrible now, but completing the rest of the Louisiana Circuit (minus the other half of the UL-UM pick ’em) doesn’t make for an inspiration schedule. However, the get the nod over the following teams, because at least they aren’t playing any true DI-AA teams. The tie was broken in a completely arbitrary and subjective fashion.
T-8. Northwestern (0.0625, 1): Towson, Eastern Michigan, @Syracuse, Miami (Ohio). I considered leaving NU off the list entirely, but hey, you win 9 games and want to be among the big boys of the Big Ten, then you need to schedule better.
T-8. Virginia (0.0625, 1): William & Mary, Texas Christian, @Southern Mississippi, Indiana. As for this, well, I said earlier they might lose a game (or three) against this schedule. The continued employment of Al Groh confuses me. That said, UVA should be better and schedule better, so I guess that’s why they’re on the list.
T-6. Kansas (0.0625, 1): Northern Colorado, @Texas-El Paso, Duke, Southern Mississippi. Though I expect their counterparts in Manhattan to catch up (or is it down?) next year with the return of Bill Synder, for now this sad excuse for a schedule will have to do for one of the Big 12 North’s main contenders.
T-6. Wisconsin (0.0625, 1): Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Wofford, @Hawaii. Really? Of course, they needed overtime to beat Cal Poly last year, so…. and hey, it’s not as bad as Penn State’s.
4. Pennsylvania State (0.0625, 1): Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Eastern Illinois. Seriously. I mean, they will go 4-0 but there is just absolutely no room for error in a schedule like this. Penn State really has to hope everyone else in the conference does their part to help out, including Ohio State beating USC and subsequently losing to them, because without that the Big Ten’s overall strength of schedule will be shot.
3. Texas (0, 0): Louisiana-Monroe, @Wyoming, Texas-El Paso, Central Florida. This. I just. Wow. I will laugh if Texas pulls an Auburn (circa 2004) and winds up undefeated and 3rd in the BCS behind, say, USC and Florida because of this schedule. And how did they end up in Wyoming? Is that a 10-for-1?
2. Texas Tech (0, 1): North Dakota, Rice, @Houston, New Mexico. Of course, this schedule is worse. I’d say TTU needs to put up 230 points combined on these four in order to keep up.
1. Mississippi (0, 2): @Memphis, Southeast Louisiana, Alabama-Birmingham, Northern Arizona. Yeah, maybe Ole Miss scheduled bad in the recent past due to being terrible themselves, but still. There’s no reason to import a DI-AA team from Arizona to fill out your already terrible schedule .

With that over with, let’s take a look at teams who decided to entertain all of us and perhaps helps themselves a little in the process. This is a little more stringent than the above, as I wanted to focus on teams that played more than 1 BCS school and interesting inter-regional matchups.
6. Illinois (0.5, 1): N-Missouri, Illinois State, Fresno State, @Cincinnati. Just barely making the cut, the Illini’s neutral site game with Mizzou and games against the likes of Cincy and Fresno are definitely gambles in the OOC scheduling world. Kudos to them.
5. UCLA (0.5, 0): San Diego State, @Tennessee, Kansas State. I’ve always liked Tennessee’s willingness to travel, though in this case the beneficiary is UCLA. Tacking on Kansas State was also a good move on UCLA’s part, though you can bet K-State won’t be scheduling games like that again anytime soon.
4. Oregon (0.6667, 0): @Boise State, Purdue, Utah. Oregon is considered, generally, to be the second best team in the Pac-10. For them to go out and play at Boise is a pretty big deal. Honestly, the weakest team on this schedule might be Purdue, but we’ll see if Utah can re-live the magic from last year. About as challenging as a slate featuring Purdue as the only BCS representative can get, at any rate.
3. Southern Cal (0.6667, 0): San Jose State, @Ohio State, @Notre Dame. Southern Cal-Ohio State is pretty much the game of the year already, though I’ve already elaborated on why OSU needs it more. If Notre Dame were better, that would be enough to vault this schedule to the top, but as-is it’s just not good enough.
2. Virginia Tech (0.4375, 0): N-Alabama, Marshall, Nebraska, @East Carolina. A “neutral” site game with a major SEC and national power? Check. A home game with a historically good Big 12 team on the rise? Check. A road game at a non-BCS opponent that beat you last year? Check. Though our average doesn’t like them, this is a pretty darn good schedule. I honestly think VPI has a shot in all of these games, too. Honestly, this should challenge for #1.
1. Georgia (0.625, 1): @Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Tennessee Tech, @Georgia Tech. It hurts for me to say this, but this is a darn good schedule. I don’t think anyone expects Oklahoma State to be as good as it was last year, but I applaud at least the decision to go out there. Arizona State makes its return trip and should still be decent, and I would like to think my own alma mater isn’t exactly chopped liver. I could go either way with this or VPI’s schedule, as this 3 good to very good teams, as opposed to VPI’s great team and very good team. Nonetheless, for me to conceded anything to UGA should tell you that this is darn good.

Well folks, that’s a wrap. We’ll begin regular programming soon. I even already have the Week 1 TV Guide setup, that’s how much I’m looking forward to it! See you then.

Bronson Arroyo and the Very Bad Analogy

I’ve been wanting to write some college football articles and whatnot to get back into the swing of things, but this struck me as so unabashedly unintelligent I had to say something.

USA Today has an article about how Bronson Arroyo takes supplements that aren’t on baseball’s approved list. My opinion? He has hasn’t tested positive yet, so he’s probably fine as long as he’s not taking actual PEDs. However, his particularly poor choice of an analogy at the end of the article, well:

“[Taking the supplements] might be dangerous,” he says, “but so is drinking and driving. And how many of us do it at least once a year? Pretty much everybody.”

Look, I don’t particularly care what you do to yourself. But I would guess”drinking and driving isn’t as common as he thinks, and to say something like that raises some interesting questions about his own driving behavior. At any rate, it’s an unbelievably stupid thing to say, even if there weren’t a slate of high-profile athletes involved in DUI incidents every year.