Baseball Analysts: NL East Preview

Baseball Analysts posts their Two on Two NL East preview featuring Mac Thomason. It seems that it all comes down to pitching for the Braves. Here are a few thoughts on Horacio Ramirez.

Mac: You really need another lefty, you want Horacio Ramirez?

Rich: Hey, Mac…you mean the guy you like to call HomeRam?

And later in the chat:

Mac: What really worries me is that we’re in a division with Delgado, Floyd, Howard, Utley, and Abreu and we have one southpaw starter, who isn’t very good and gives up lots of homers.

Jeremy: I really wouldn’t be shocked to see Ramirez displaced at some point this season. I just don’t see him pitching well at all this year. But, as you note Bryan, the Braves have young starters ready to step in.

Mac: I like Davies a lot, as does Cox, and the Braves are going to do something (a trade, or a move of Sosa or Thomson to the pen) to get him in the rotation.

HoRam reminds me of another young left-handed pitcher who came through the Braves system—no, not Tom Glavine. He reminds me of Jason Marquis. I know he’s a lefty batter, right-handed thrower, but his situation was quite similar. He was a young starter whom the Braves gave every chance to succeed. Eventually, the Braves lost their patience with him, moved him to the bullpen, and then traded him. Marquis had a decent season two years ago with the Cardinals, but reverted back to form in 2005. Like HoRam, Marquis has trouble keeping the ball in the park, he’s no strikeout wizard, and his best ERA seasons have been out of line with his peripheral stats.

Those who think HoRam is going to succeed because Leo Mazzone is gone need to have something more to hold onto than that. I’ve been doing a lot further analysis of Mazzone’s work and I’ve found that he works his magic in the areas where Ramirez needs the most help: strikeouts and home runs. Mazzone’s pitchers have consistently better strikeout and home run rates when they pitch for him. Bobby Cox may handle pitchers well, but he doesn’t show them how to pitch. I think it’s going to be an extremely tough year.

4 Responses “Baseball Analysts: NL East Preview”

  1. Mac Thomason says:

    I wish I’d gotten to talk about Chuck James, who is a fascinating player but one I’m not sure what to expect from. But if the Braves are going to have a good lefty starter this year it pretty much has to be him.

    What happened to Marquis’ strikeouts anyway? His K rate wasn’t bad at all when he came to the majors — not great but certainly something to build on. Last year I believe he was the second-worst strikeout pitcher in the league to You Know Who.

  2. Chuck Oliveros says:

    If a pitcher strikes out few and gives up a lot of homers, the first thing one has to ask is, does he have the stuff to pitch in the majors? At this point, I don’t think HoRam does. I think that he is a smart, tough-minded pitcher who has gotten the most out of what talent he has, which has gotten him as far as he’s come. I also think that injuries have had their effect and that HoRam has even less stuff than he had a few years ago. I don’t think there are any adjustments that he can make that would make him an effective pitcher.

    I’m afraid that this is going to be the year that the Braves’ string runs out, and if it comes down to pitching I’m worried. In my opinion, the starting rotation is not all that strong. Experience suggests that Sosa will suffer this time around if he continues to put so many runners on base. Smoltz has aged well, but can he put up 200 innings again? I like Kyle Davies but he is still young and I expect him to suffer growing pains. I really do believe that the Braves will miss Mazzone. Perhaps he was a difficult individual, but those who get the best results often are. It could be that the pitchers like McDowell better because he makes no demands on them. That may not be a good thing.

  3. Jeff says:

    J.C.,
    When you say this is going to be an extremely tough season, I hope (I really do) that you are referring merely to HoRam’s case, right? I’ve been reading your blog (and Mac’s for some time now) and I know of your affinity for Leo’s work. Though I’m no expert, I certainly agree that Leo has been effective (understated). But I’m, like many Braves fans, hopeful that enough of his system will remain for many of the Braves pitchers to remain successful. So, naturally, I worry with statements like your ending. This is not, however, a defense of HoRam. I agree that his performance is not likely to improve.

  4. Marc says:

    I agree with Chuck. I think this staff is real shaky even forgetting about the bullpen. In recent years, the strikeout totals have been going down and the walks up. None of the pitchers that have come through recently (other than James I guess) seem to have very impressive strikeout totals. It’s like the whole organization is fixated on finding Glavine/Maddux type finesse pitchers (ignoring the fact that they both had significant strikeout totals)and ignoring power pitching.

    I’m not convinced that Hudson is really a number 1 starter any more (and maybe not even a number 2) based on what I have seen so far. Sosa was lucky last year, HoRam was awful, and Davies is unproven.

    Of course, we were spoiled by the pitching in the 90s, something that’s not likely to be repeated.