C-n-C Mailbag: What will Happen with First and Left?
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How and when will the Braves address the non productive platoons at 1B and LF. We are getting almost no production at first, and Langy is so down I donít know if he can be brought back. Could we possibly go after a Jacque Jones type player for LF and move Diaz to 1st?
Both players in both platoons are hitting under .235 this season with Scott Thorman and Matt Diaz the only two over the Mendoza line. Craig Wilson's shoulder is what is keeping him from the outfield and keeping Thorman from starting everyday like Bobby was committed to throughout the offseason. Thorman was almost as good against lefties as he was against righties and I think he needs to get regular at bats to work himself out of this slump. I am not high on Diaz really. I think the scouting report on how to pitch him has really gotten around. People aren't throwing him strikes most of the time and he has awful plate discipline so he is swinging. I just don't see him coming even close to last year's production, sort of like Francoeur's drop in average between '05 and '06, but without the power of Frenchy, it renders him pretty much useless in a starting role.
As for left field, there are a couple options. Gregor Blanco is a good defender with speed who has been tearing up the International League. Even though he has little power and is basically a slap hitter, I think he could be a good 8th hitter who could get on and advance himself for the top of the order. Brandon Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are two more options from within the organization although I doubt Salty would even get consideration until around the All-Star break.
A trade is another possibility, and with Schuerholz at the helm, I would be surprised if he doesn't make at least one deal mid-season to strengthen the club. I don't really think Jones is a good fit here with his poor plate discipline, and until last season his batting had been in a downward spiral. A name that I do think will pop up in some trade rumors is Ryan Church. The Nationals need pitching and Church is taking playing time away from Chris Snelling, plus Church has already been benched this season for not hustling. I think the Braves could give up something like Anthony Lerew and a lower-level pitching prospect to re-stock a farm system with a lack of any pitching talent.
Derek G. Writes
I live in Rocky Mount, NC. A pitcher came out of North Carolina Wesleyan
College named Buddy Hernadez. He's in the Braves Organization. I was just wondering
if you ever see him making the club. I know he's made his rounds in the
minors since leaving Wesleyan.
For those of you who don't know, Hernandez is a 28-year old righty reliever, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2000. He has spent his last three seasons in Richmond, posting very nice stats in almost every stop he has made in the minors and sports a career 2.35 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in his 6 minor league seasons.
I can't find anything about it, but he missed almost all of '05 and the entire '06 season, which leads me to believe that he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery. His stats and minor league track record definitely works in his favor. Certainly there are also people out there who believe he has major league caliber stuff as he was taken third overall by the Padres and traded to the Athletics in the 2002 Rule V Draft. He didn't make the opening day roster and was returned to the Braves.
There are also a couple things working against him. Number one is that he has zero major league experience at his age. He has been on the fringe of breaking through a couple of times but just never has and he is past the prospect age. The second big problem, and one which I think is blown drastically out of proportion is his height. He only stands 5'9", which is tiny for a pitcher. Tim Lincecum, a top three talent in the draft this year, dropped all the way to the Giants at ten because he is measures in at under 6'. Unfortunately for Hernandez, the corps of talented relievers is getting to the point where they are starting to break through to the major league level, so if he ever wants more than just a cup of coffee here and there, I would assume he would have to find his chance with another organization.