Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Braves Minor League Update: July 26-Aug. 1

Lines of the Week
8/1: (A) Willie Kempf: 7 IP, 2 H, R, 4 K (8 GB, 7 FB)
8/1: (AAA) Matt Young: 2-4, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB
8/1: (AAA) Wilkin Ramirez: 5-5, 3 RBI
7/31: (AA) Randall Delgado: 7 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 7 K (6 GB, 2 FB)
7/31: (A+) Joe Leonard: 3-3, HR, 4 RBI
7/30: (A+) David Hale: 7 IP, 3 H, BB, 8 K (7 GB, 4 FB)
7/30: (AAA) Stefan Gartrell: 2-4, HR, 4 RBI (Grand slam)
7/29: (A+) Joseph Terdoslavich: 2-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
7/28: (Rk) Brandon Drury: 2-2, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Triple-A Gwinnett

Julio Teheran: 12 IP, 14 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 10 K (13 GB, 9 FB) (2 starts)
Arodys Vizcaino: 4 IP, 3 H, R, 6 K (Solo HR in Triple-A debut)
Mike Minor: 13 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 15 K (15 GB, 7 FB)
Todd Redmond: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 K (3 GB, 5 FB)
Yohan Flande: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K (8 GB, 1 FB)
Tyler Pastornicky: 13-30, 2B, RBI, 2 BB (22-57 at Triple-A)

8/1: RHP Steven Shell activated from 7-day DL
7/31: LHP Ben Swaggerty assigned to AAA
7/29: OF Jose Constanza recalled to MLB
7/29: SS Diory Hernandez DFA'd
7/28: C Wil Nieves assigned to AAA
7/28: OF Wilkin Ramirez assigned to AAA
7/28: RHP Anthony Varvaro recalled to MLB
7/27: C Shawn McGill assigned to AAA
7/27: C J.C. Boscan recalled to MLB
7/27: OF Wilkin Ramirez recalled to MLB
7/26: RHP Arodys Vizcaino assigned to AAA; Steven Shell on 7-day DL

Double-A Mississippi
Randall Delgado: 9.2 IP, 11 H, 11 R, 5 BB, 9 K (9 GB, 5 FB) (2 starts)
Zeke Spruill: 6 IP, 10 H, 4 R, BB, 2 K (10 GB, 3 FB)
J.J. Hoover: 3 IP, H, R, 2 BB, 5 K

8/1: RHP Zeke Spruill assigned to AA
7/26: RHP Brett Butts assigned to AA

Class-A Adv. Lynchburg
Zeke Spruill: 6 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, K (10 GB, 4 FB)
David Hale: 7 IP, 3 H, BB, 8 K (7 GB, 4 FB)
Joseph Terdoslavich: 10-15, 3 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB (4 games)
7/31: Andrelton Simmons: 3-3, 2B, 2 RBI

Class-A Rome
Carlos Perez: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 4 K (8 GB, 5 FB) (2 starts)
Caleb Brewer: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 9 K (4 GB, 5 FB)
Edward Salcedo: 7-27, 3B, HR, 4 RBI

7/30: RHP Fernando De Los Santos assigned to A

Rookie League Danville
Lucas La Point: 11 IP, 8 H, 3 R, BB, 5 K (14 GB, 10 FB)
Gregory Ross: 6 IP, 6 H, R, 7 K (4 GB, 1 FB)
David Filak: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, BB, 5 K (8 GB, 3 FB)
J.R. Graham: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 7 K (6 GB, 1 FB)
8/1: John Cornely: 3 IP, BB, 6 K
Nick Ahmed: 4-24
Chase Larsson: 9-22, 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 0 K

8/1: RHP Luis De Luna assigned to Rk
7/30: SS Kirk Walker assigned to Rk
7/28: RHP Henry Mendez assigned to Rk

GCL Braves
Jean Carlos Gil: 11 IP, 14 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 11 K (13 GB, 5 FB) (2 starts)
Matt Talley: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, BB, 3 K (7 GB, 0 FB)
Cole Rohrbough: 1 IP, H, 2 K
Todd Cunningham: 2-11, 3B, 4 RBI, BB, 2 K

8/1: RHP Evan Danieli assigned to GCL
7/30: LHP Sean Gilmartin activated from temporarily inactive list
7/28: RHP Williams Perez assigned to GCL
7/27: OF Todd Cunningham assigned to GCL
7/27: LHP Cole Rohrbough assigned to GCL
7/27: LHP Andy Otero placed on 7-day DL
7/27: RHP Alejandro Sanchez assigned to GCL

Monday, August 1, 2011

Michael Bourn's Value In A Nutshell (And Yes, Hunter Pence)

Let the games begin.

Hunter Pence was traded to the Phillies for two top 40 prospects. The same Pence that is hitting .306/.355/.468 with a .363 wOBA and 2.6 fWAR, has accumulated 17.3 fWAR and a career .353 wOBA in 682 games as a corner outfielder.

Michael Bourn was traded to the Braves for two mid-rotation ceilings, a fourth outfielder and a relief prospect. The same Bourn that is hitting .303/.363/.403 with a .353 wOBA and 3.6 fWAR, has accumulated 14.6 fWAR and .324 wOBA in 663 games as a center fielder.

Bourn is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. He will have 40+ steals four years in a row. The best center fielder in the game since 2009 according to fWAR? Not Andrew McCutchen, not Shane Victorino, not Curtis Granderson, not even Matt Kemp. It's Michael Bourn.

Traditional stats still control decisions for many teams. Unfortunately for Houston, it ruined their chances of a nice haul for Bourn. Pence wins the home runs and RBIs, and he had the big name everyone was talking about at the deadline. Everyone likes the shiny corner outfielder with power, right? Thankfully, the Braves know which is the more valuable and better player.

I've read what I believe is a pretty large amount of analysis on the Bourn trade across the Internet. My favorite line comes from Satchel Price at Beyond the Box Score:"The Astros didn't think that they were trading a star even though they were..."

The Astros had no idea what they had in Bourn.

Other solid analysis from the day after is below.

Sweetspot Blog (Schoenfield):
"Look, this doesn't mean Bourn is a better hitter than Pence. It means he's similar to others for his position. If you factor in just hitting and baserunning, B-R says Bourn has been about 82 runs better than a replacement-level center fielder over the past three seasons; Pence about 73 runs better than a replacement-level right fielder. Factor in Bourn's defense and he's the more valuable player."

Rob Neyer:
"The simple truth is that if you do consider defense and baserunning with any sort of rigor, you're going to conclude that Michael Bourn is, in fact, better than Hunter Pence. In fact, if you believe fWAR, Bourn has actually been the second-best outfielder in the National League since 2009."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reactions Around The Web: Michael Bourn Trade

Michael Bourn will make $1.4 million for the rest of this season. The Astros sent some cash that will cause the Braves to pay somewhere around $600,000-$1 million for the final two months. He has one year of arbitration remaining before hitting free agency, which should hit somewhere around $7-8 million, I would guess. Bourn is a Scott Boras client, for what it's worth.

Capitol Avenue Club:
"Not only is Bourn a perfect fit for Atlanta, he came at a very reasonable price and one that allowed the Braves to keep their top 8 or so prospects. This is an extremely good deal for Atlanta. Be happy, be ecstatic. The Braves just got a whole lot better."

Bourn compared to MLB center fielders

"Outside of shortstop, where the Braves seem comfortable with the ineptitude of Alex Gonzalez, center field was hurting the Braves the most. Michael Bourn represents the best possible fit for that position, and in netting the next six-eight wins of his career without giving up blue chippers to do so, the Braves certainly win this deal in the short term, and possibly the long term as well."

SB Nation Atlanta:
"Basically, the Braves just acquired a player who has been worth $57.5 million dollars since 2009. That's more than Curtis Granderson. That's more than Shane Victorino. That's more than Josh Hamilton. To put it simply, Michael Bourn is a superstar and one of the best outfielders in baseball. And we got him for spare parts at the trade deadline."

Talking Chop:
"Bourn is under team control through next season, so this is not a rental, the Braves have acquired a leadoff man for this year and next. A true leadoff man is something the Braves have been lacking for a while, and they got one of the best in the game in Bourn."

Keith Law:
"The return for Houston however is shockingly poor -- quantity over quality, to say the least -- and can't do Ed Wade any good in extending his status as GM beyond "lame duck." It makes me wonder if Houston had a ranking of Atlanta's top 25 prospects but looked at it upside-down."

Baseball Analytics:
"Michael Bourn, recently acquired by the Atlanta Braves, is posting the best numbers of his career in 2011. His BA, OBP and slugging percentage all stand as best single season marks for the outfielder. Bourn's improved strike zone judgement stands as one reason for his progress."

Big League Stew:
"The Atlanta Braves have found their new leadoff hitter, center fielder, and base-stealing threat and — lucky for general manager Frank Wren — they're all the same guy."

"So overall, the Braves received a center fielder that they needed in playoff time, and they traded him for what is probably the lower end of the value of the guy coming in, which again does not include added playoff value. I think the trade was a fair one, but the Braves win out on the probability of this working out for them."

Frank Wren quotes:
"They’re really hard to find. I talked to scouts this spring, and getting a prototypical leadoff hitter who plays a premium position and plays it well – Michael is a two-time Gold Glover – and can lead off, get on base, steal bases at a high rate … they’re hard to find. There’s very few of those guys in the major leagues. We’re thrilled to get the guy who has the most stolen bases the last three years and is a Gold Glover in center field and is really growing as a leadoff hitter."

"We inquired on Pence. We inquired on everyone. And that was part of our strategy, was to inquire on everybody. We did not go to the mat to get Pence. If we had gone to the mat to get Pence, we would have got Pence. And that’s the same with all these other deals. We knew there were certain players that fit us better than others, and we’ve kind of held out to get what we thought was the right deal for our team."

Jeff Schultz

Tomahawk Take

Michael Bourn To The Braves

Braves receive: Michael Bourn
Astros receive: Jordan Schafer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, Juan Abreu

Bourn appears to have been the target for the Braves all along. Frank Wren inquired on everyone, but he made it known Bourn was the man for Atlanta's center field, probably in an attempt to drive up the prices of the other bats. If this was his intention, it worked, as the Braves easily made a much, much better trade than the Phillies.

Bourn is hitting .303/.363/.403 with 26 doubles and one home run. He has a BB% of 8% and K% of 19%, recording a .353 wOBA and 3.6 fWAR. These numbers for his career: .271/.338/.359, 8.7 BB%, 19.6 K%, .324 wOBA and 14.6 fWAR.

Oh yeah, four straight seasons with 40+ steals as soon as he swipes his first bag with the Braves, and very solid defensive ratings.

Bourn has an increasing outside swing percentage over the past three seasons, reaching 26% currently, which is pretty high for the type of hitter he is. His 41.1 Swing% is in line with the normal rate, and his zone contact rate at 89% is solid. His overall contact may not be stellar, resulting in a fairly high amount of strikeouts, but he makes up for it with a good walk rate for a speedy leadoff type.

Bourn is in his prime and that's evident by his career-high numbers across the board this season. He's showing more pop and creating more runs than ever before, and the Braves are catching him at a pretty good time, as he has had his best two months in June and July, hitting .324/.388/.467 in June and .349/.388/.413 in July.

Always keep in mind the position. Center field is a premium spot and does not come cheap. To get someone that impacts an offense as much as Bourn in a premium position is always a major move. It usually costs a ton. The Braves made the move without giving up any big impact prospects in a seller's market, and that in itself is a victory.

My offseason reports of the two ranked prospects traded to the Astros:
#15 - Brett Oberholtzer
#24 - Juan Abreu

Paul Clemens emerged as a mid-level pitching prospect over the last two seasons, posting a 3.69 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 75.2 innings at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach in 2010 and currently a 3.73 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 44 walks in 108.2 innings at Double-A Mississippi. He wasn't on many radars prior to last year, and his ceiling is mid-rotation, so his stance in the Atlanta system wasn't very solid. He would have been ranked between 15-20 on my list this offseason, more than likely.

Jordan Schafer is a fourth outfielder. He should only start by necessity, and hopefully the Astros are smart enough to realize this. But judging by this trade, you never know.

To wrap this trade up, the Braves got the bat and center fielder they need without giving up any of the big four prospects. To top it off, the only worthwhile player sent to Houston is Oberholtzer, a left-hander with mid-rotation potential. It could be perhaps the best buyer's deal of the deadline.