Alex Wood threw a grand total of two pitches on Thursday night in Denver against the Rockies. That's when the rain rolled in and delayed the game for just over two hours. Once the game properly got started, Wood was gone and this meant that all nine innings of baseball would be in the hands of the Braves bullpen. Predictably, this didn't go well for the Braves, and they've started this four-game series 0-1.
After there were a few rumblings that Braves first round draft pick Kolby Allard would go ahead and go to UCLA, yesterday Allard himself announced on his twitter account that he'd made his decision: He's going to join the Braves organization. Keith Law reported that the Braves signed him to a bonus of $3.042 MM, which is $200k above the slot.
Remember the days of Walt Weiss as shortstop for the Braves? The current manager of the Rockies ended his career with the Braves, so if there's anybody who can use the Braves as a model for future building, it's someone who was actually a part of the team back then.
"That's the organization that set the standard throughout the '90's and into the early 2000s — 14 straight titles. I don't believe we'll see that again in our lifetimes," Weiss said.
"They've done a great job, and they've been able to sustain it — even with personnel changes. They're still in the mix, even after big changes this winter. They're still in striking distance of .500."
Earlier this week, we talked about how A.J. Pierzynski has been doing a good job in a role that he wasn't expected to be in. With Christian Bethancourt's first prolonged stint as a starting catcher turning out to be a bit of a mess, Pierzynski has stepped in and done a decent job, and he's done so without bringing some of the antics that may have stained his reputation among baseball.
"A.J.’s been great, in every sense of the word," Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella said. "He’s been great offensively, great defensively, he’s helped our young pitchers, he made a lot of efforts to help out Christian Bethancourt…. I can’t say enough about what he’s done for the Braves this year."
Bethancourt didn’t do much in the spring or in April to persuade the coaching staff that he deserved to play more, and eventually he would make enough defensive mistakes that the Braves decided to demote him to Triple-A, and they would try out a couple of different backups for Pierzynski before settling on Ryan Lavarnway.
Meanwhile, Pierzynski has settled into the familiar role of primary catcher, something that he didn’t think he’d be doing this year, but something he’s done quite well. He’s below average throwing out runners, but Braves coaches and pitchers say Pierzynski more than makes up for that deficiency with his game-calling ability, especially handling a pitching staff that’s even younger than the Braves anticipated it would be this season.
Meanwhile, Christian Bethancourt is currently toiling in Gwinnett in an effort to get things together. The onus is squarely on his shoulders because he's already been demoted and then there's the fact that the Braves are reportedly looking for young catching. That's not comforting news for a guy who is a young catcher, himself. Our friends at Minor League Ball are now trying to figure out if there's hope for the guy who was once considered the answer to the Braves' catching situation.
The Phillies are a dumpster fire that's finally starting to cool down a bit, as the organization has finally stopped kidding itself and is actively trying to rebuild. As such, Cole Hamels is currently on the trade market. The Phillies are obviously trying to find the perfect suitor for a potential deal, and our friends over at The Good Phight have someone in mind:
Right now, the Phillies are salesmen. They are trying to sell Cole Hamels, among other veterans, to a team in need of an ace pitcher, who is under team control for the next 3-4 years (depending on the vesting option) and at a reasonable financial price for a No. 1 starter.
Whoever is running the Phils right now (Amaro? Gillick? MacPhail? Santa?) is looking for a team that has a lot of money, is rich in prospects, and is so desperate to win a World Series that they would do almost anything to get it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In other NL East Trade Rumor News, the Mets might very well be in a position to be buyers at the deadline,. With the way this division is currently shaking out, if any of the teams in the top three gets on a hot streak, they might be in position to make a push for the Postseason as we approach the later stages of the season. As such, the Mets will probably need more offense in order to do so, and they may be able to get it in the form of potential rental and former Brave (thanks for the prospects!) Justin Upton:
Should the Padres end up shopping Upton, the Mets should consider making a reserved push for him. While trading one of their "Big Five" pitching prospects or Michael Conforto for a rental would be unwise, Upton is exactly the type of player that the Mets need, as he is a potent combination of power and speed. The Mets have scored the fewest runs in the National League and have no player with more than five stolen bases. Even if Upton doesn't play like a superstar, he would still be a major upgrade over Michael Cuddyer, and batting him in the middle of the order would provide support to an ailing lineup.
In such a deal, the Mets would only be on the hook for a portion of Upton's $14.25 million this season, after which he would become a free agent. Because the Mets have been unable to spend much on their team over the past few seasons, renting Upton for the season's final two months may be the only way for them to add a star player without taking on a high salary.