East Notes: Orioles, Yankees, Braves

The Braves top a ranking of baseball's best bullpens over at MLB.com's Outside Pitch blog. Craig Kimbrel is a big part of that choice, but the presence of Luis AvilanJordan Walden and David Carpenter also make the Atlanta relief corps one of MLB's deepest, according to Outside Pitch's Shawn Ferris. Completing the list are the Red Sox, Cardinals, Pirates and Reds. Here's more from around baseball's Eastern divisions:

  • Braves second base prospect Tommy La Stella has been turning heads early in camp, Carroll Rogers of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, though the club still plans on starting the season with veteran Dan Uggla at the keystone.
  • Nelson Cruz had a successful debut for the Orioles in a matchup with the Blue Jays, walking twice and scoring from first on a Chris Davis double (via Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com). "It doesn’t feel like butterflies or anything," Cruz said. "I feel normal, I guess, as soon as I come out to the field."
  • Yankees hurler CC Sabathia wasn't concerned after his fastball topped out at 88 MPH in his first Spring Training outing, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports. “My fastball is what it is. If it gets better, it will. If it’s not, it won’t,” Sabathia commented. McCarron writes that the concerns are likely to persist if the lefty's heater doesn't tick up, noting that Sabathia lost a significant amount of weight this offseason.


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59 Comments on "East Notes: Orioles, Yankees, Braves"


erm016
1 year 5 months ago

They should be open to starting La Stella, can’t be any worse than Uggla. :/

NL_East_Rivalry
1 year 5 months ago

Want to let the guy grow and learn more. If Uggla struggles and La Stella is decent at AAA look to see him up

erm016
1 year 5 months ago

Of course, but some people can make the jump. Who knows, we’ll see.

Jeff
1 year 5 months ago

Uggla should get one more shot, but if he struggles, release him.

Gary Graf
1 year 5 months ago

Could be. It’s a new year.

stl_cards16
1 year 5 months ago

Just because he can’t be any worse than Uggla isn’t a reason to change his development. He hasn’t taken an at bat at AAA yet. If he performs in AAA and Uggla is still being Uggla, I could definitely see the Braves bringing him up in June or July.

bravesnjays
1 year 5 months ago

Exactly. Also important is having the patience to wait until June/July to prevent him from being a super 2 down the road. No reason for us to make more financial mistakes because of Uggla.

Keith Lockhart's glove
1 year 5 months ago

If the Braves are neck and neck with the Nationals and Uggla’s showing no improvement over last season, then it’s my opinion that we might see Tommy La Stella up with Atlanta sooner than the predicted June/July. I’m thinking that maybe Atlanta will roll the dice on taking the hit on whatever the Super 2 status may or may not be. I’d love to see Dozier also have a great season and then Braves talk with the Twins about a swap that unloads Uggla and La Stella (and whoever else) for Dozier. So maybe I’m a bit too much of a homer for Dozier here … but whatever. I’m mostly wishing that Uggla figures something out.

erm016
1 year 5 months ago

Meh, throw him into the fire, don’t wait. lol

Koby2
1 year 5 months ago

Not to be a homer, but the Royals bullpen not even an honorable mention? Did that guy do any research?

johnsilver
1 year 5 months ago

Workman won’t break camp as a member of the 25 man roster either, unless an injury to one of the Sox SP or multiple RP injuries. Capuano sign took his spot.

MLB,com stories and rankings are almost always all over the place and should be taken with a pound of salt.

Seamaholic
1 year 5 months ago

Royals are a small market team with a (relatively) small fan base. Writing about them doesn’t generate a lot of clicks. That’s the whole ball game. As a fan of another small market team, I long ago gave up on any of the national websites ever writing anything intelligent about my team.

Red_Line_9
1 year 5 months ago

Amen. I read that KC actually had the best bullpen last season of any team since the 1980’s statistically

TimotheusATL
1 year 5 months ago

scrolled down all the way to the bottom and he cited the ERAs of Herrera/Collins/Crow as his reason for leaving them off the list completely…so (I guess) there’s your “answer”

NOLASoxFan
1 year 5 months ago

Don’t worry about CC’s fastball. There’s only like $96M left on that contract. No big thing.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

CC’s Sabathia’s fastball stats the past 3 season (2011-2013)

wRC Against His Fastball – 128, 125, 126
BA against his fastball – .285, .289, .293
OPS against his fastball – .815/.805/.804

Now let’s check his changeup stats the past 3 seasons in the same categories

wRC against his Changeup – 82, 35, 144
BA against his changeup – .273, .181, .314
OPS against his changeup – .655, .483, .872

Gotta do more research next time. There are other pitches besides fastballs. Ask Greg Maddux (not that I’m comparing them though). Ask Cliff Lee (who’s FB velocity dropped more than CC’s from the year before and who’s average fastball speed was just above 90). Or ask King Felix who’s fastball speed was exactly the same as CC’s last year (91.3).

The problem was not his fastball, the problem was his changeup (Slider stats were still good last year though a Tad worse than what they were the previous year. I didn’t bother posting them)

pft2
1 year 5 months ago

The change up loses its effectiveness as FB velocity declines

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Not saying you are incorrect or I disagree with you, but you have any evidence to that and have examples of pitchers (I’m sure there’s a lot, but I”m also sure there’s a lot of pitchers I can find who’s velocity dipped and still were successful).

And I have to assume you mean the changeup’s speed and not the movement of it (and CC’s changeup did in fact saw a drop in speed, though movement too)

cardsfan67
1 year 5 months ago

The problem is his fastball. His average changeup velocity:

2011: 86.6
2012: 86.0
2013: 84.8

So he has lost a tick off his change, but it is essentially the same, the lower the fastball gets the more he is going to get hammered.

Even with that he can still be really successful, I remember when Tom Seaver lost some velocity, he was still able to pitch successfully, CC strikes me as a smart pitcher, he will be able to figure out how to win without his best fastball.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Not if he spots it at the right location (easier said than done of course)

It’s actually more about location than speed.

A 1 MPH drop in velocity is not going to have hitters go from a .483 OPS to a .872 OPS against you

I”m looking at the spray charts now and it shows CC threw many more changeups in the middle of the plate to RHH last year than the year before. When you throw a not so fast pitch down the middle of the plate…obviously it’s going to get bombed, and it surely did.

TimotheusATL
1 year 5 months ago

am I reading it correctly that, even though CC’s fastball and changeup both lost velocity, the speed differential actually narrowed a bit? that’s a pretty big deal with a diminishing fastball as well.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Speed differential between FB and Changeup
2012 – 6.4 mph
2013- 6.5 mph

So no it’s not a big difference. The velocity drop is concerning as I said, but not for his FB. Because his stats for FB have all been similar the past 3 years whereas his changeup was crushed last year in large part as I said, due to the lack of location. All in the numbers and spray charts.

TimotheusATL
1 year 5 months ago

makes sense. I was just getting twisted in some numbers trying to read them in my phone at work…long day. :)

cardsfan67
1 year 5 months ago

I agree with you on location, if it was all about speed Kyle Farnsworth would be going to the HOF. I think this is being overblown, it is his first start, he will probably be around 90-91, by the time the season starts. In 2 innings he threw 24 pitches, 16 for strikes, let up 2 hits, 0 runs, and had a SO. He will be fine.

rich
1 year 5 months ago

Indeed, the separation is gone, he needs that FB in the low 90’s to succeed. I think he’s shot. He’s thrown an absurd amount of innings in the last few years. Especially when you consider post season innings (the most stressful). He’s just a back end fourth starter now.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Because of 1 bad season he’s suddnely a 4th starter now? Man good thing Red Sox fans didn’t give up on Jon Lester who’s 2012 was probably as bad if not worse than CC in 2013.

rich
1 year 5 months ago

I have a lot of respect for Sabathia, he’s been a great pitcher. Great mechanics and an absolute horse, but these guys only have so many bullets in them. They’re not all Mariano and Pettitte. Those guys are the exception. Lester was 28 when he had a bad season. CC was 33, he’s going to be 34 this summer, and over the last 7 years he’s averaged 244 IP (including post season) per year which is going to take it’s toll on a 34 year old arm closing in on 3,000 IP. He could bounce back, but I wouldn’t bank on it..

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

I’m not banking on him bouncing back to be the CC of previous years, but I can’t expect him to be as bad as last year. I think Zips and Oliver have him where he’ll be at and I’d be perfectly fine with that.

Hugh Langin
1 year 5 months ago

Zips assumes he will still regress if you weigh his last several years together. Should he bounce back? it is fair to assume he can, but generally speaking he still trending downwards as most pitchers in their 30’s do. He will be 34 this year so he ain’t getting any better. If I was NY, I would worried. You can slice it any way you want and try to convince yourself that he will be an ACE this year. But history and the writing on the wall tell us that is most likely not the case…..the next few years could get pretty ugly with that contract.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Where did I say he’ll be an ACE this year? I didn’t say that anywhere.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

I’m not banking on him bouncing back to be the CC of previous years, but I can’t expect him to be as bad as last year. I think Zips and Oliver have him where he’ll be at and I’d be perfectly fine with that.

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

His luck was partly flukey. His FIP/xFIP correlation based off his career suggested he should have had high 3’s era, not high 4’s.

JacobyWanKenobi
1 year 5 months ago

Also, judging velocity in the FIRST SPRING START is foolish. He topped at 90 in his first start last spring and was hitting 93 consistently by the end of spring training. He’s still building up strength and getting a feel for his pitches.

Hugh Langin
1 year 5 months ago

while this is true, it’s not as if he is going to gain 4-5 ticks in velocity going forward. expecting 2-3 is more likely, which could still put his fastball velocity on the continued downward track this year. It is obviously to early as you said to make any definitive judgments, but I would be worried if I was a Yankee fan.

BG921
1 year 5 months ago

Without reading the whole article, this is also a bullpen that should get Jonny Venters back as well. The bullpen depth is what separates the Braves from the other teams in the NL East in my book.

scs
1 year 5 months ago

Both the Royals and the Rangers have top-five bullpens in baseball. Amazing the lack of recognition they get.

liberalconservative
1 year 5 months ago

Oakland is better than those 2 and was not ranked. The blogger that did that report is a NL fan only.

Red_Line_9
1 year 5 months ago

I love some A’s….but KC’s bullpen was the best in baseball last season since I believe the late 80’s Oakland pens. That’s what I read anyway.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

In what stat?

2nd in ERA to the Braves, 2nd in WAR in the Rangers.

Red_Line_9
1 year 5 months ago

The article I read might have been during the course of the season, and also might have spoken about total staff run prevention. That they are left out of a top 5 ranking would certainly be ridiculous.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Definitely agree with the latter part

liberalconservative
1 year 5 months ago

The other problem is are we talking about this year or last year. Texas lost Nathan who had a great year so its hard to assume Feliz can be as good. Oakland lost balfour and blevins but picked up johnson, gregerson, and O’Flarety . KC could be better since Crow should bounce back after a sub par year. The Yanks lost Riveria so they are not as strong.

Red_Line_9
1 year 5 months ago

I love some A’s….but KC’s bullpen was the best in baseball last season since I believe the late 80’s Oakland pens. That’s what I read anyway.

scs
1 year 5 months ago

Debatable but I agree Oakland is right there and probably in the top five as well.

alphabet_soup5
1 year 5 months ago

I hope Sabathia doesn’t become the leader after Jeter leaves with that attitude. I think his days as a #1 starter are soon to be over, if not already.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 5 months ago

How much of Uggla’s contract would the Braves eat and what kind of player would they want in return? Does Uggla and $20MM for Zoilo Almonte and Vidal Nuno make sense? Can Uggla play 1B and 3B?

JacobyWanKenobi
1 year 5 months ago

I’d rather have Almonte and Nuno.

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

don’t think you even have give up that much if Braves are still getting off the hook of $6M. Kelly Johnson basically that price, and is about the same player.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 5 months ago

I agree, but I don’t know how many games the Yankees are going to be able to count on Brian Roberts to play, so between him, Johnson, and Uggla, I think the Yankees would be set at 2B and 3B. Uggla or Johnson might be needed to back up Mark Texeira at 1B. I would rather have Uggla than Eduardo Nunez. So if I am willing to pay Uggla $3M per year for the next two years, could I get away with just giving up Almonte and keep Nuno?

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

They could try that, depending on how they view Zoilo. Braves might want to keep him and see if he can bounce back, but I wouldn’t really go much higher than that because as it is Uggla really isn’t any better than sizemore/Anna/Nunez. Sure Roberts could get injured very easily, but they do have players that can replace him, maybe not great hitters, but players you can have starting. Also have to consider roster spots. Sizemore can opt out on may 1st if he isn’t in the majors. And he is someone I would watch in the spring, if he is recovered he might be a solid piece. I’d rather them see what they have first, Uggla has been so bad that he really isn’t a solution to their problem. He has fallen off a cliff.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 5 months ago

True, but unlike Nunez, Sizemore, et al, Uggla has performed at a high level in the past and could benefit from a change in scenery.

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

We said the same thing about vernon wells. He’s going to be 34 now, and 2b get beat up a lot. It’s not hard to imagine that this is nearing the end for his career.

Why make a move when, he is about on par as your 5 other options, and he costs money or prospect.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 5 months ago

True, and for two months, Vernon Wells played at a very high level last season. I think that we could get more out of Uggla over the next two years.

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

And in the next 4 months vernon wells managed to drop to a level below his previous production.

Bertin Lefkovic
1 year 5 months ago

This is also true. I think that it is a risk worth taking. I could be wrong, but the only way that we would know would be to try. Even if Uggla has another terrible year with the Braves, it doesn’t necessarily prove that he would be as bad with the Yankees or bad at all for that matter.

pft2
1 year 5 months ago

No worries for CC, his money is guaranteed. His health is more important than his performance, although CC Lite might want to refund some of his salary if he pitches like last year.

Rabbitov
1 year 5 months ago

CC has enough money to go half robot at this point.

InvalidUserID
1 year 5 months ago

Mussina was able to adjust with dimished stuff, we’ll see if CC can do the same. There’s not much he can do about a loss in velocity except make up for it with his other pitches. Of course, I’d love for him to be able to throw 92-93 as he used to but he’s got a lot of mileage on him. As long as it’s not a repeat year from CC, I think having Tanaka, another year of Kuroda and hopefully a whole year of Nova, will offset whatever CC gives.

Macfan01
1 year 5 months ago

Sheesh can the media at least wait till the end of Spring before running wild about Sabathia’s velocity. Even when the guy was throwing in the mid 90’s he would start off slow in spring, now that his velocity is down do they think he will be throwing 93-94 in his first Spring game. I don’t blame him for saying what he said, he won’t play the fast ball velocity game with the media hordes that are desperate for something to write.