— Now that was an interesting transaction….Yesterday, the Braves predictably sent reserve OF Damon Hollins back to Richmond and activated Chipper Jones. But at the same time the Braves also sent down utility IF/OF Mike Hessman and called up IF Wilson Betemit, who hit leadoff and started at SS Saturday night. Why is this strange? Though Betemit was once considered the SS of the future he has done most of his work at third base in the minors this year. He has 21 games at 3B and two at SS. Additionally, most guys who improve their BA by going 1-4 on the day get a bus ticket down instead of a plane ticket up. This year his line reads 224/.286/.368 with 27Ks and 6 BBs, which would be good if he were a pitching prospect. Also, keep in mind these numbers were compiled against competition that made Hessman look like Vlad Guerrero (1.5 OPS), and Hessman posted a .129/.182/.226 line in the majors this year. From this I draw two conclusions. First, Hessman has played his last game in the majors for Atlanta. This was a “we give up” move. He has shown he is an average defender and hitting below replacement level. There is nothing for Hessman to work on or prove in Richmond. Second, I think this is a move to showcase Betemit for a trade. If you are going to stink it up, you might as well stink it up in the big leagues. If they thought he would be their best option as a back-up middle infielder then why has he been at 3B all year.? Something has changed in the way the Braves view Betemit’s place in the organization. I’m not sure if it is trade or what, but when your ML third-basemen has been stinking it up and you get moved to short, then something is up. I also wonder if the good play of Pete Orr, who has played 2B and 3B, factors into this.
— I would like to address the recent surge of buzz regarding the “luck” of Haracio Ramirez. Whenever Ramirez pitches the announcers always point out his W-L record of 0-3 is largely the result of poor run support when he has pitched. It may be true that his run support is low, but unless you are Joe Morgan most baseball fans judge pitchers by their ERA, not W-L totals. Ramirez actually has the best ERA (2.75) among the starters. But here is the bad news. Ramirez’s ERA is the product of some extremely good luck. His defense on balls in play, as measured by his DER, is the best on the team. Ramirez is luckily having more of his balls land near fielders or he is getting greater defensive effort from his teammates than the other starters. He is the only starter with more walks than strike-outs, and only Hampton has worse Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). So, Haracio’s luck has not been all bad. While his team may be shorting him on run support, they have been giving him more help on defense. You can find the stats on The Hardball Times and ESPN.