Olney’s Latest: Lowe, Cruz, Atkins, Rangers

Buster Olney's latest blog entry at ESPN.com focuses on Ryan Braun, who Olney thinks could eventually take over Albert Pujols' title of the National League's best hitter. The article also includes a few hot-stove notes….

  • Olney hears from talent evaluators that the trade market for starting pitching probably won't really develop for at least another month or two. Unless they can dump salary, teams likely won't be looking to move any starters quite yet. Derek Lowe and his $15MM price tag are mentioned as a potential salary dump.
  • The Royals haven't put Juan Cruz on waivers yet, meaning he'll probably be placed there Monday and clear on Wednesday. Olney speculates that the Cubs, in need of a setup man, could kick the tires on Cruz.
  • As the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly suggested last night, Garrett Atkins' job could already be in jeopardy after Rhyne Hughes' promotion. When MLBTR talked to baseball execs in March about offseason moves, the Orioles' signing of Atkins was nominated as one of the worst.
  • Olney says the perception around the league is that owner Tom Hicks is creating roadblocks for the sale of the Rangers in the hopes of securing more cash. Because of complications with the sale, baseball's other owners will likely have to throw in more money.


26 Responses to Olney’s Latest: Lowe, Cruz, Atkins, Rangers Leave a Reply

  1. Just_MLB 5 years ago

    the only thing that needs to be passed is the dutchie that Buster is smoking..preferebly on the left hand side..take away Prince Fielder and see how many more breaking balls he says..as it is, almost 70% of the balls thrown at Braun are fastballs…Pujols only sees barely 50%….and thats with Holliday in back of him…Not saying Braun is a scrub…but please lets hold off the passing the torch talk til he gets his first MVP

  2. Ferrariman 5 years ago

    i definitely think braun could put up similar numbers as pujols, but he won’t ever have the same plate discipline.

  3. icedrake523 5 years ago

    Lowe’s contract became an albatross rather quickly.

  4. baseball1 5 years ago

    The O’s have been horrible hitting with RISP. Atkins has been horrible. And guess what, Hughes comes up and gets an RBI single in his first major league at bat. Cya Atkins, dont let the door hit ya on the way out.

    • bomberj11 5 years ago

      I don’t understand why the Orioles didn’t call up Bell… is he not ready?

      • baseball1 5 years ago

        He is not ready. They wanted him to get another year under his belt in AAA, as he did not show any power against lefties, and was rather average at best against them. He started slow as well this season, but is starting to turn it on.

        • ugen64 5 years ago

          also I think the O’s want him to play 3B, and Tejada is actually one of our better hitters right now. he certainly cannot play a middle infield position; if he were, say, a 2B prospect, he might have been called up already. Hughes has been hitting so well, he deserves the call-up ahead of Bell as a 1B at this point, not to mention he’s already 26 with a full year at AAA behind him.

    • ugen64 5 years ago

      they’ve been horrible in all situations (3rd worst wOBA in the AL, ahead of only SEA and CLE), so naturally they’d be pretty bad with RISP too. looking at WPA/LI (a measure of how much value a player provides based on the outcome of each plate appearance / batter faced, adjusted for the importance of the situation), Atkins has contributed negative value to the team, but he’s not quite the worst offender:

      1) Brad Bergesen (-0.92)
      2) Julio Lugo (-0.52)
      3) Adam Jones (-0.52)
      4) Garrett Atkins (-0.50)
      5) Cesar Izturis (-0.48)

      In any case, the performances of guys like Jones and Atkins, if not the other players, should regress towards the mean – Atkins is probably not a great hitter any more but I doubt he’s truly a sub-.550 OPS hitter, either. I think the player who really needs to go is Julio Lugo, since his only theoretical skill at this point is OBP and that’s not happening; the problem is, we don’t have an infielder hitting well enough in the minors to take his place. Andino’s showing some power but he only has a .281 OBP in AAA; nobody else has above a .700 OPS down there.

  5. Yankees10 5 years ago

    Braun will eventually take over Pujols as the best hitter in the NL? And when will this happen. Pujols is only 30 years old and hasnt shown any signs of slowing down.

  6. garmac 5 years ago

    Hicks needs to cut his loses and go! He has caused enough damage to The Rangers!

  7. wwy 5 years ago

    I usually like Olney’s writing well enough, but this is a misstep.

    Here is one way to look at it: Pujols’ lowest season-long OPS (.955) is higher than Braun’s career OPS (.943, as of 4/25/10). Braun’s highest season-long OPS (1.004) is lower than Pujols’ career OPS (1.053, again as of 4/25/10).

    Another stat: Pujols has only had more strikeouts than walks once, in his rookie year (93 K’s, 69 BB’s). His career ratio is 821 BB’s to 584 K’s. Braun has yet to walk even half as many times as he’s struck out in a season, although he has improved the ratio every year. Still, for his career, he has walked 136 times versus 372 K’s. His best season to date (57 BB’s, 121 K’s) is still not even close to Pujols’ worst.

    While Braun should continue to improve, I don’t see why he should be expected to become a categorically different type of hitter. Braun is obviously a great hitter, but he is closer to Matt Holliday than Pujols.

  8. wwy 5 years ago

    I usually like Olney’s writing well enough, but this is a misstep.

    Here is one way to look at it: Pujols’ lowest season-long OPS (.955) is higher than Braun’s career OPS (.943, as of 4/25/10). Braun’s highest season-long OPS (1.004) is lower than Pujols’ career OPS (1.053, again as of 4/25/10).

    Another stat: Pujols has only had more strikeouts than walks once, in his rookie year (93 K’s, 69 BB’s). His career ratio is 821 BB’s to 584 K’s. Braun has yet to walk even half as many times as he’s struck out in a season, although he has improved the ratio every year. Still, for his career, he has walked 136 times versus 372 K’s. His best season to date (57 BB’s, 121 K’s) is still not even close to Pujols’ worst.

    While Braun should continue to improve, I don’t see why he should be expected to become a categorically different type of hitter. Braun is obviously a great hitter, but he is closer to Matt Holliday than Pujols.

    • Suzysman 5 years ago

      When you start talking about OPS and Walk totals, its probably a good idea to take into consideration the IBB totals of the players you are talking about. Remove the extreme IBB from Pujols and he instantly drops 30-40 points in OBP & OPS, and ends up with BB/K rates very similar to Braun (as you can see from my post above)

      Oh, its also not generally a good idea to compare OPS type stats for a guy with a 10 year career to a guy with 2.13 years worth of service time.

      • wwy 5 years ago

        As I showed, it doesn’t really matter which years you look at, considering that Pujols has been at a higher level than Braun from the beginning, while Braun’s rookie year was his best to date in terms of OPS.

        As far as the IBBs go, they obviously help Pujols’ OBP, but may actually hurt his OPS. After all, what would be the OPS of someone who walked in every plate appearance? 1.000, which is lower than Pujols’ career OPS. (As a matter of fact, Pujols’ career **BATTING AVERAGE plus slugging percentage** is slightly higher than Braun’s career OPS.) In terms of K/BB ratios, removing IBBs would surely narrow the gap slightly in these two categories, but not drastically.

        Finally, Pujols’ career has been longer, obviously (basically 9 years versus 3 years, or 2 2/3 years to split hairs), yet he is only three years older. So he started three years earlier, yet he immediately produced at a rate that is still better than Braun’s best season to date.

        Again, I’m not slighting Braun, but they’re in different categories. One is among the best in his generation, while the other is among the best of all time.

    • Suzysman 5 years ago

      When you start talking about OPS and Walk totals, its probably a good idea to take into consideration the IBB totals of the players you are talking about. Remove the extreme IBB from Pujols and he instantly drops 30-40 points in OBP & OPS, and ends up with BB/K rates very similar to Braun (as you can see from my post above)

      Oh, its also not generally a good idea to compare OPS type stats for a guy with a 10 year career to a guy with 2.13 years worth of service time.

  9. Guest 5 years ago

    “Derek Lowe and his $15MM price tag are mentioned as a potential salary dump.” Sounds like another way of saying “no pitchers are going to be traded soon”.

  10. Guest 5 years ago

    “Derek Lowe and his $15MM price tag are mentioned as a potential salary dump.” Sounds like another way of saying “no pitchers are going to be traded soon”.

  11. Suzysman 5 years ago

    I dont know, Williams was passing the torch to Mantle and Mays and Aaron when he was in his 30s. So why is it so difficult to think Pujols could do the same?

    I hate to think another NL-Central foe will produce the guy that may take the reigns from Pujols, but watching Braun as he matures… Well I agree with Onley, its (sadly) possible

  12. ykw 5 years ago

    Thing is, as I mention in a comment on the original article, Pujols and Braun are only a few years apart; there was a decade-plus gap between Williams and the contenders to his throne. Pujols won’t likely fade in time for Braun to surpass him — Ryan’s decline is almost certain to closely follow Pujols’ — before someone much younger (like a Justin Upton, to throw out a name) passes them both by.

  13. Suzysman 5 years ago

    There are 4 years between them, its a fair amount of time. And its not like two such talents cant be duking it out while running simultaneously or within a similar age range anyway. After all, Mays, Mantle and Aaron did. Plus, Williams had similarly aged Musial often giving him a run for the money.

    Shoot, we cant forget Pujols took it from ARod; and Rodriguez is only 4 years older himself.

  14. ykw 5 years ago

    If by “4 years” you mean “38 months” (3 years and 2 months), yeah. But that’s not much difference compared to guys seven, eight, nine years behind Albert.

    Also, Pujols took it from Bonds. A-Rod was never in the conversation.

  15. Suzysman 5 years ago

    No one is denying the greatness of Pujols in any way. But, if he follows the trend of the others, he will probably see a slight downward turn in ages 30-35 – not extreme in any way, and in no way a significant dropoff, but numbers more reminiscent of his pre-peak seasons. Now if Pujols produces around a .420-.430 range wOBA from 31-35 he will still be absolutely sickly amazing – but Braun will be in his age 27-31 season over that time; and peaking himself.

    And if Ryan peaks while Pujols settles back into that range, Braun could very well be out producing Albert. Braun has, sadly, shown a fantastic development trend that indicates huge things should be on the horizon.

  16. Suzysman 5 years ago

    You read the article? He barley mentions Pujols, and isnt putting Albert down at all. He is instead praising Braun, a person who deserves a whole lot of attention based off the development shown over his three years.

    Braun of course will never have the overall career of Pujols, but in the coming years he looks like he will be an absolute force at the plate.

  17. Mickeyblue 5 years ago

    I think the point is that he should have compared him to another hitter and not Pujols. You do realize we are talking about a decade Triple crown winner. Putting Braun in that category is ridiculous. He is a great player and might win an MVP or two but he will never come close to Pujols. And he wouldn’t do anything close to what he’s currently doing w/o Fielder, when Pujols raked last year first half with absolutely no protection whatsoever and no one was even close to his numbers shows just how he good he is and putting Braun in that category is flat out disrespectful. He could have compared him to plenty of other players that would have been more reasonable. The funny thing is that I think Buster was the one that said the Cards were trading Pujols for Howard

  18. Suzysman 5 years ago

    Its important to remember that Braun has been in professional baseball for less then 5 seasons. He has less then two years worth or minor league experience, and is still developing. With that in mind

    Braun over his career (3 year average of Pujols)

    Outside Zone Swing
    30.6% to 34.3% to 29.1% to 23.8% (21.0%)

    Inside Zone Swing
    67.6% to 67.6% to 63.6% to 62.8% (62.9%)

    Swing Percentage
    52.0% to 51.2% to 46.3% to 42.0% (40.8%)

    Inside Zone Contact
    84.3% to 88.6% to 90.6% to 91.4% (94.7%)

    Contact
    76.3% to 79.2% to 80.7% to 87.9% (88.4%)

    Swing Strike
    12.1% to 10.5% to 08.7% to 05.2% (04.4%)

    Strikeout Percentage
    24.8% to 21.1% to 19.1% to 14.7% (10.6%)

    ui-Walk Percentage
    05.7% to 05.7% to 07.9% to 10.4% (10.8%)

    HR/FB%
    22.1% to 17.5% to 18.2% to 22.7% (18.9%)

    Line Drive Percentage
    16.3% to 17.3% to 19.4% to 19.0% (18.8%)

    He is very quickly becoming Pujols at the plate – with much more speed. And while he will never have the pure ability Pujols was gifted with, he is going to be sick over the next couple years, especially as he peaks in a couple seasons.

  19. Suzysman 5 years ago

    Its important to remember that Braun has been in professional baseball for less then 5 seasons. He has less then two years worth or minor league experience, and is still developing. With that in mind

    Braun over his career (3 year average of Pujols)

    Outside Zone Swing
    30.6% to 34.3% to 29.1% to 23.8% (21.0%)

    Inside Zone Swing
    67.6% to 67.6% to 63.6% to 62.8% (62.9%)

    Swing Percentage
    52.0% to 51.2% to 46.3% to 42.0% (40.8%)

    Inside Zone Contact
    84.3% to 88.6% to 90.6% to 91.4% (94.7%)

    Contact
    76.3% to 79.2% to 80.7% to 87.9% (88.4%)

    Swing Strike
    12.1% to 10.5% to 08.7% to 05.2% (04.4%)

    Strikeout Percentage
    24.8% to 21.1% to 19.1% to 14.7% (10.6%)

    ui-Walk Percentage
    05.7% to 05.7% to 07.9% to 10.4% (10.8%)

    HR/FB%
    22.1% to 17.5% to 18.2% to 22.7% (18.9%)

    Line Drive Percentage
    16.3% to 17.3% to 19.4% to 19.0% (18.8%)

    He is very quickly becoming Pujols at the plate – with much more speed. And while he will never have the pure ability Pujols was gifted with, he is going to be sick over the next couple years, especially as he peaks in a couple seasons.

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