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Baseball Fever Policy

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Dave O'Brien Blog

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  • Dave O'Brien Blog

    Originally posted by Dave O'Brien
    Cox, Wren on hand to see Braves in Arizona

    By David O'Brien | Monday, November 12, 2007, 08:56 PM

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    I came out to see Jordan Schafer play another game for the Peoria Javelinas tonight here in Surprise, Ariz., and it turns out — surprise, indeed — I’ll also get to see a few other Braves prospects including a hard-throwing Braves pitcher making his fifth Arizona Fall League start, a big kid who might not be unknown to Braves fan for much longer.

    Charlie Morton is a 6-foot-5 right-hander who isn’t ranked among the Braves’ Top 10 prospects (Schafer is No. 1 in that just-released Baseball America list), but is a rising talent who’s about to be added to the 40-man roster, GM Frank Wren told me today. (Frank also told me he was told that all the Braves guys on the Javelinas were going to play tonight, including catcher Clint Sammons, SS Brandon Hicks, and 2B J.C. Holt. Yes, Braves at five of nine lineup slots).

    Morton’s numbers last year at Double-A Mis’sip didn’t exactly jump off the page — he was 4-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 41 games, including six starts. He had 67 strikeouts in 79-2/3 innings, with 37 walks and 80 hits allowed.

    But look inside the about-to-turn 24-year-old’s splits and you see why folks took notice late in the season. His WHIP came down steadily, from 1.92 in April to 1.56 in July and 1.31 in August. He went from recording 20 strikeouts with 17 walks in 24-2/3 innings during April-May to 27 strikeouts with 10 walks in 29 innings during July-August.

    In the AFL, before tonight he’s 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in five games (four starts), with 14 strikeouts and six walks in 16 innings.

    Morton has a fastball that reaches 96-97 mph, along with three other pitches that are said to be average to above-average: curveball, slider and change.

    He’s a former third-round pick (2002) who had fallen off the radar while going 12-18 over his first two minor league seasons in A-Ball, and posting ERAs of 4.82, 5.20 and 5.40 in his first three seasons. This (2007) was his fourth.

    Hey, some prospects take a while. Sometimes things just start to click for guys when no one’s expecting it. Sounds like that’s the case with this kid.

    A pitcher might find a comfortable arm slot, develop confidence, or just “figure it out,” for lack of a better explanation. According to Wren, this kid’s been soaring since midseason, and carried it into the Double-A postseason.

    I’m eager to see for myself tonight, almost as eager as I am to see Schafer in center field (when I went to the Javelinas’ game Saturday, he DH’d and went 2-for-5 with three strikeouts, a single and a triple).

    Despite going through a recent hitting funk for several games, Schafer is still batting .345 (30-for-87) with a .420 OBP in 22 games, with six doubles, a triple a home run and 13 RBIs. He also has nine stolen bases in 11 attempts, including one in Saturday’s game (I can attest, the kid’s got very good speed).

    Don’t know what you’ve seen him listed at, but Schafer said he’s 202 pounds right now, hopes to be up to 205-210 for spring training - and hopes to be in big league camp. I think there’s a very good chance that he will be invited, though he’s not on the 40-man roster and doesn’t have to be added.

    Morton does have to be added or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft, where he’d be snatched in a heartbeat, with that kind of stuff he’s got. But it doesn’t sound like he’ll be a candidate for the rotation in the spring (Braves already have prospects Jair Jurrjens and Jo-Jo Reyes to compete along with returners Chuck James and several others for perhaps only one spot, if they sign Tom Glavine as expected and if Mike Hampton — I know, big “if” — can stay healthy through spring).

    But it’s worth making a note about Morton now, keep him in mind. He could certainly be ready at some point this season if his recent progress continue, either in the rotation or the bullpen. He’s also another reason the Braves could use one of their younger pitchers in a possible trade this winter or spring.

    Who is Sung Ki Jung? Glad you asked. He’s a Braves pitching prospect who spent three years in mandatory service with the South Korean Army before pitching for high-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Miss this past season.

    In 40 appearances, all he did was post a 1.30 ERA with 23 saves, 57 strikeouts, 13 walks and 31 hits (two homers) allowed in 48-1/3 innings. Yowza.

    Something tells me the South Korean Army let him throw a little on the side over the past three seasons.

    Might be a bullpen candidate, if not this spring then during the season. Also looking forward to him possibly getting into the game tonight, since Wren described his delivery as “funky” but left it at that. Anyone out there see him pitch this season? If so, what’s the funk?

    Glavine open for business today: Today is the first day teams other than the Mets can make offers for Tom Glavine, but it’s hard to find anyone in baseball who believes the old lefty ace will be signing with anyone other than the Braves.

    That said, I’m hearing it might not get done for a couple of weeks. Which I can believe, since Glavine might want to at least see what the market is, what teams like Washington might offer him, before deciding how much of a “discount”

    Mahay drawing plenty of interest: The Braves hope to re-sign free agent lefty Ron Mahay, but the reliever is getting plenty of interest from other teams, as could be expected given his status as one of the top two available lefties (along with Jeremy Affeldt) after J.C. Romero re-signed with Philly (for three years and a whopping $12 mill).

    Agent Lonnie Cooper - he also represents John Smoltz and power-hitting prospect Jason Heyward, who’s No. 2 on the Braves BA list behind Schafer — told me he’s talked preliminarily with Wren and a lot of other teams.

    The Braves knew there was no reason to make a low offer to Mahay during their exclusive 15-day negotiating period before other teams could make him offers starting today, and at the same time I’d guess the Braves probably don’t want to pay anywhere near what Romero got from the Phillies.

    When I asked Lonnie if the Romero contract “set the market” for lefty relievers, he said, “If you look at comparision of stats, you’ll see there’s a big comparison between the two. [That contract] was a good, comparable statement.”

    To which the Braves might be thinking, “Uh-oh.”

    I don’t know if Braves will be willing to pay Mahay enough, but I wouldn’t assume that Mahay will get the kind of contract Romero did. In many ways, Romero is a special case, for the Phillies in particular but also for most any team in general (well, except maybe the Red Sox, who released him in June).

    It’s important to note that Romero has a tremendous 435 appearances in six seasons as a major league reliever, with 65 or more appearances every year and highs of 81 and 74 appearances (twice, including this season).

    Mahay, 36, didn’t in as many as 30 appearances in any of his first six seasons, and didn’t have more than 35 until appearing in 60 games in his 2004, when he had a 2.55 ERA and 1.328 WHIP for Texas.

    After getting knocked around for a 6.81 ERA and 1.766 WHIP in 2005, Mahay made 58 and 62 apperances the past two seasons while posting ERAs of 3.95 in 2006 and 2.55 in 2007, including a 2.25 ERA and 1.250 WHIP in 19 appearance after he was traded from Texas to Atlanta on July 31.

    Romero had a 1.24 ERA and 1.101 WHIP in 51 appearances this season for Philly, which plays in a home park that causes nightmares for most pitchers. Not for Romero, who has a 1.83 ERA in 26 career appearances at cozy Citizens Bank Park, with only one homer and nine hits allowed in 19-2/3 innings.

    Lefties hit .208 and righties hit .198 against him this season, and the Braves went 2-for-21 (.095) against Romero, while the Mets were 2-for-19. That’s 4-for-40 by the Phillies’ chief rivals, with two doubles, no RBIs and 14 strikeouts.

    Romero is 31 and rubber-armed, and given his durability and steady performance, that $12 million investment doesn’t seem quite as risky or extravagant as it would for a lefty specialist most teams other than the Yankees.

    But personally, I’m guessing the price won’t go as high for Mahay. But still might go higher than the Braves are looking to pay.

    By the way, Cooper said Smoltz is excited about next season and has been crowing about his recent hole-in-one on a 320-yard par 4.

    “He’s very positive about next year,” Cooper said. “He feels great, and he’s got his routine and regimen in place for next year.”
    Well from the look of this article the Braves may have another young starter that might compete soon for a job in the rotation. Also here is Morton's stats from the game Dave O'Brien was at.

    5 IP 0 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K

    From the way Dave was commenting on his blog it seems Morton hit 97 mph 3 or 4 times and was mainly around 95.
    Last edited by PureBaseballFan; 11-12-2007, 08:52 PM.
    Extend Prado!!!

  • #2
    thanks for the update. yea, it's good to see that the farm system is still popping out prospects. since we could lose glavine, smoltz and hampton(although he hasn't really been part of the rotation) after the 08 season.

    you guys think 08 is the final season for smoltz? does how long glavine and/or cox stay impact that? i assume it would be for glavine.


    • #3
      Originally posted by chip&smoltz95 View Post
      thanks for the update. yea, it's good to see that the farm system is still popping out prospects. since we could lose glavine, smoltz and hampton(although he hasn't really been part of the rotation) after the 08 season.

      you guys think 08 is the final season for smoltz? does how long glavine and/or cox stay impact that? i assume it would be for glavine.
      Also forgot to add that both Bobby Cox, Roger McDowell, and Frank Wren were all there to see all the Braves prospects there. From what O'Brien talked about in his comments on his blog Bobby seemed pretty impressed by Schafer and his speed.

      As far as Smoltz goes I think it really has to do with his health if he stays healthy then I can see him wanting to pitch one more year in a 2nd or 3rd starter role. The only way I see him retiring and being healthy is if the Braves win the World Series.

      I think Glavine is done after this year no matter what happens. Bobby I thought this would be his last year but I have read some recent comments from him like how all the young guys have really given him extra energy and more love for the game, things like that make me think he may continue coaching for an extra year or two. So right now I think Cox will be around in 09 and maybe 2010.
      Last edited by PureBaseballFan; 11-13-2007, 11:49 AM.
      Extend Prado!!!