Back in March, I made a few Braves-related predictions about the 2006 season. How did I do?
— Oscar Villarreal will pitch less than 30 innings.
Well, I missed this one badly. He threw 92.33 innings after the Braves said the D-backs had killed his arm with 98 IP in 2003. OK, some of his Braves innings were as a starter. I figured that Arizona was willing to part with him because he would never regain his rookie form due to injury. The Vulture had quite a bizarre year, throwing atrociously in the first half—if Reitsma hadn’t been so bad I think more people would have noticed—but looking decent in the second half as a long-reliever/spot-starter. I don’t know what to expect in 2007. As long as he’s cheap he’s worth keeping around, but I don’t think he’s anything special.
— Horacio Ramirez is going to have his worst season yet.
No, just more of the same, but not quite. After giving up 1.3 HR per 9 IP during the previous two seasons, HoRam cut his long ball propensity to 0.7 HR per 9IP. Will this trend continue? I doubt it. HoRam is the kind of guy you can live with if you have a decent pitching staff. He’s not great but he can eat some innings. Right now, the Braves need more than that, and the team is seeking to trade him.
— Lance Cormier will be the most-reliable middle-reliever in the pen.
Not even close. At one point he was so bad they sent him to Richmond. I really thought the Braves saw something in him, and I believed he was really the guy they were after in the Estrada deal. I went to see two games this year, and Lance started both of them. In one he struck out ten, in the other he sucked. I think the latter game was a better indicator of the type of pitcher he can be. I hope the Braves are smart enough to keep him out of the rotation in 2007.
— Chris Reitsma will be a solid set-up man or closer.
I still like Chris, and I hope his injury was the cause of his awful pitching. He has been the victim of some bad luck over his career, and I think he’s been treated very poorly by Atlanta fans. But there is no arguing that he had a season that was beyond bad. I expect the Braves will not offer arbitration and he’ll sign with another team for less. I also think he’ll be no worse than the league average reliever. Look for Chris to sign with Cincinnati or Baltimore, where he might find a comfort zone.
— Andruw Jones will make 2005 look mediocre.
Nope, he just repeated 2005, which was pretty good. PrOPS thinks AJ is getting some bum luck. I still think he is capable of having one of those awesome seasons.
— Chipper Jones will continue his excellent play. If he stays healthy, he is an MVP candidate.
I got this one right. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay healthy. Chipper is really overlooked by the baseball establishment, but he’s on the path to the Hall of Fame. I think if he can stay healthy for an entire season he can nail it down.
— Marcus Giles will have an OPS of less than .800.
Nailed it! But, let’s not forget he started the year dealing with some family issues. Marcus is still an above average second baseman. The Braves are going to trade him, and he’ll be happier elsewhere. I’ll miss him when Prado is booting double plays and sporting a shinny .650 OPS.
— Adam LaRoche will have an OPS greater than .800 (does not apply if he isn’t platooned).
Well, he wasn’t even platooned, and had a pretty nice year that PrOPS says wasn’t a fluke. PrOPS also says his poor 2005 was a fluke. I’m still not opposed to trading Adam to get Chipper to first, but if he’s going to be this productive I guess I can live with him. He really deserves a pat on the back for a great year. He’s one of the few people who had been known for his good glove and bad bat, despite having a bad glove and good bat.
— Kelly Johnson will out-hit Jeff Francoeur (assuming KJ stays healthy and isn’t sent to AAA).
NA, because KJ had Tommy John.
— Andy Marte will out-hit Jeff Francoeur (the Indians will find room for him).
Wrong, but this was actually close up until the last week of the season. Marte didn’t adjust well to AAA-Buffalo, which is why he spent much of his season there. But after Aaron Boone sucked his way out of a job, the Indians didn’t have any choice but to call him up. Marte just couldn’t get anything going. I think it was just one bad season. His numbers up until this year lead me to believe he’s still a better prospect than Francoeur.
— Brian McCann will out-hit Jeff Francoeur.
Well, duh. That was an easy one. Sir swings-a-lot did seem to gain some patience towards the end of the year. I’ve given up trying to predict Francoeur. He’ll be Juan Encarnacion or something special, I don’t know. Let’s talk about something else. But it’s time for the Braves to adjust their marketing campaign to focus on McCann, who is a far superior player.
— Johnny Estrada will have an OPS greater than .750.
Johnny finished the season at .773, and PrOPS has him at .763. I think Josh Byrnes has to be happy with the way the trade turned out, but it looks like Johnny will be moving on again.
I thought Estrada’s trade value would have been higher, as PrOPS had him as very unlucky, not to mention that he played most of the season injured.
— The O’s ERA will drop and the Braves ERA will rise. Their ERAs will be within 0.25 runs.
Didn’t happen. For both teams’ sake, I hope that there is an adjustment year for coaches. Mazzone had a tough year, but it doesn’t erase what he accomplished in the past. And we now know that he wasn’t part of Atlanta’s problem. I think Tim Hudson could use a few more egg shells to walk on. You can’t pin the poor pitching on Roger McDowell either. I have no idea how good or bad he is, but it was just one year. The Braves minor league system isn’t producing pitchers, and that’s the real problem. Roger has inherited the same crap Leo had, and I suspect it caused him to be more open to looking elsewhere.
So, there you have it. I’m about as informative as the nickel in your pocket.