We all know Andruw Jones will be in centerfield and it looks like Jeff Francoeur will be in right. The question is, who will be the Braves starting left fielder in 2007.
This MLB.com column seems to think nobody. At least not one guy. There’s speculation that the Braves will once again go with a platoon between Matt Diaz and Ryan Langerhans will split time in left field but newcomer Craig Wilson could also figure in the mix and he could ultimately supplant Diaz. We’ll be finding out soon because spring training starts in a few weeks.
John Sickels is soliciting entries for a community projection for Braves first base prospect Scott Thorman. It looks like most people see Thorman like I do, and that’s as a solid hitting platoon alternative along with Craig Wilson. Only a few have him hitting 20 homeruns and in my opinion, if he exceeds that mark, I think having in the lineup would be a success.
The Braves signed first baseman Craig Wilson to a one year, $2 million deal. Wilson will most likely split time at first base with rookie Scott Thorman and he’ll probably also see some time out in the outfield. Wilson had a solid season in 2006 after becoming more of a part time player for the Pirates. He broke out in 2004 when he hit 29 homeruns but outside of that season, he’s never played in more 131 games. He has a career .834 OPS though and that’s pretty solid. And at $2 million, I consider him a bargain.
Here’s a writeup from John Sickels book on the newly acquired Brent Lillibridge. A “B” rated prospect is nothing to scoff at so maybe this deal might not turn out as bad after all.
This is like the trade that’s been talking about for a couple of months and it finally went down and for the life of me, I still don’t understand why you’d want to give up a legitimate young power hitter for a relief pitcher who walks a ton of guys. Mike Gonzalez was very good in his rookie season, but since then he’s just good. So we’re going to get about two innings pitched out of Gonzalez for around every homerun LaRoche hits. I’d hardly call that an even trade.
The Braves also got minor league shortstop Brent Lillibridge while the Pirates get minor league outfielder Jamie Romak. Lillibridge had a decent season year playing A Ball last year so he might be a nice pick up. We just won’t know for a couple of years.
The old left hander. Warren Spahn is one of the greatest left handed pitchers to every throw a baseball and his 363 wins are the most ever by a left hander. It’s not even close. Steve Carlton comes in second and he’s a full 34 wins behind Spahn. And while 1957 isn’t Spahn’s best season, it’s the only one in which he won a Cy Young.
Spahn was definitely a workhorse. From 1947 through 1963, the lowest number of innings that Spahn threw was 245 2/3. He topped out at 310 2/3 in 1951 and the 271 innings he threw in 1957 came in second in the senior circuit. Only Pirates starter Bob Friend logged more and he beat Spahn by only six innings.
Spahn led the league in wins (21) and complete games (18). In addition, he was third with a 2.69 ERA, fifth with a 1.177 WHIP and second in shutouts (4). More simply put, Spahn was the best pitcher on one of the best pitching staffs in the National League.
The Cy Young wasn’t even close. Spahn captured 15 of the sixteen votes, and the only nay sayer went to Dick Donavon (an American Leaguer no less, back then the Cy Young wasn’t split by league). Spahn also finished fifth in the MVP voting and he even mustered a first place vote.
Spahn was lights out in August of 1957. He went 7-0 with a 1.82 ERA in 54 1/3 innings. And as expected, Spahn was death on left handed hitters. Lefties hit only .217/.289/331 against him. Not that righties did much better (.244/.292/.353). Oddly, Spahn was 14-3 on the road and he was only 7-8 at home which is especially odd because County Stadium was a pitchers park that year.
Here’s a look at Spahn’s 1957 numbers:
Games Started 35
Complete Games 18
Innings Pitched 271
Earned Runs 81
Runs Saved Above Average 22
Neutral Wins 20
Neutral Losses 12
Bryan Smith recently penned an excellent article on eight prospects to watch in 2007. At the top of his list of potentially underrated prospects is Braves infielder Eric Campbell who had a very nice season at Low A last year. He points to his excellent Isolated Power and talks about how his back injury might have subdued his numbers even more. Campbell is a guy who was normally a third baseman that they’re trying to push over to second base, so that should be interestering as well. He’s a definitely a guy worth watching as he progresses up to the High A level.
Baseball America recently unveiled their top ten Braves prospects and there’s some significant differences between that and Kevin Goldstein’s. The top is identical in that both lists have Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the top but Baseball America has shortstop Elvis Andrus listed second. Andrus had a modest season playing in Rome for the Braves Low A affiliate. He hit .265/.324/.362 but keep in mind the kid turned 18 in August so while he’s still a ways away, he’s also playing above his head.
Rounding out the top five are Matt Harrison (lhp), Brandon Jones (of) and Van Pope (3b). Baseball America does a nice job with their prospect coverage and if you have their online subscription, they have complete scouting reports for each of the prospects and its a solid read.
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