Monday, May 31, 2010

What’s Chipper going to do?

There was a little bit of Chipper Jones retirement talk this off-season, and his batting average and power numbers have probably not done enough to silence it. Chip is doing a lot of the talking himself, saying he may give it up if he didn’t see some improvement from the end of 2009. He told a radio station in Miami this week that he has 4 kids and a wife, and things like retirement were certainly on his mind.

While he is still a threat in the 3-hole and draws many walks due to pitchers pitching around him, I think the lack of run production is bothering him. I don’t think he feels like he is contributing what he should be and the OBP may not be enough. How low has Chip sunk since the end of last year?

Here are his 2010 numbers heading into the weekend:

.227 AVG – 2 HR – 15 RBI - .387 OBP - .348 SLG

The real drop off from the Chipper we know is the AVG and SLG due to the lack of power. Will he ever get it back? Well, we know now that he has several nagging injuries that aren’t likely to ever go away during his playing days.

If you go back to August 16th of last year, his final 138 at bats of the 2009 season produced the following numbers:

.173 AVG - 3 HR - 18 RBI

That’s an even .200 AVG with 5 HR and 33 RBI in his last 270 at bats, or about half a season. The walks are still there, even last August/September, but the lack of power and run production is astounding. The .348 slugging this season ranks Chipper 146th in all MLB, only 34 spots ahead of the last-place guy, Gordon Beckham (.239). He is also just behind homer-less Nyjer Morgan of the Nationals (.358).

I’m not saying the Braves don’t need him in the lineup anymore. I’m not saying he needs to be moved from the 3-hole. It just looks like from what Chip has been saying since he started to decline at the end of last summer (he was hitting .304-15-54 on August 15th), that this may be it for the 1990 #1 overall pick out of The Bolles School.

However, a big second half and a playoff birth may inspire him to come back in 2011 for a going-away tour. The $13 million he is owed would help make that decision a little easier…

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hawks look-back...

Today, we are going to take an in-depth look at how the Hawks screwed up their re-building process. Rather than simply say, “How can you pass on Chris Paul?” we are going to look at the rosters and examine how absurd some of Billy Knight’s decisions were.

My 1st season having season tickets was 2004-2005, and we are going to start there. The organization realized going into this season that the Shareef-Terry-Crawford-Jackson-Henderson-Sura-Dickau nucleus was not headed in the right direction. So, they blew it up and brought in guys that are “Billy Knight” guys (the ideal height, 6’8).

The 2004-2005 team has a new feel to it. The team is led in scoring by 6’9 Al Harrington and 6’8 Antoine Walker. Both are solid NBA scorers at this point in their careers and can play both forward spots. The team also has 2 1st round picks that season that are in the rotation, Josh Smith (6’9) and Josh Childress (6’8). They also have a young forward in Boris Diaw (6’8), who has shown flashes but still is a little raw. This team has 2 clear weaknesses, no point guard and no center.

Here are the “point guards” that played on the 2004-2005 team at some point:

Tyronn Lue
Tony Delk
Royal Ivey
Kenny Anderson

And, here are the centers:

Obinna Ekezie
Predrag Drobnjak
Jason Collier (RIP)
Jelani McCoy
Michael Stewart

Clearly, there is a drastic need to upgrade these two positions ASAP. Knight gets the idea during the season that he should trade Walker. Excellent choice! Harrington is younger and has more upside and you have 3 other young players that are forwards that need playing time. In fact, Knight does pretty well with this trade getting expiring contracts (Gugliotta, Payton, Stewart) and a 2006 1st Round pick.

So, heading into the off-season after a 13-69 record, Knight has a young core of forwards that have a lot of upside, cap space, and the #2 pick in the draft.

The draft came first in June of 2005 and with the #2 pick Knight selected 6’8 Marvin Williams. With a core of Harrington, Diaw, Smith, and Childress, he took another 6’8 guy? There was certainly not a way to fix the issues at center unless Milwaukee passed on Andrew Bogut. Andrew Bynum and Channing Frye were also lottery picks that year, but not worthy of a #2 pick. But why not fix the point guard issue? I wanted Deron Williams with the pick and most fans cry about not getting Chris Paul, but even Ray Felton would have been more forgivable than another forward.

Strike 1.

Billy then surveys the free-agent market and not surprisingly focuses on a guy that is 6’8 in Joe Johnson. Since Joe is restricted, Billy works out a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix where the Suns get the 2006 1st round pick he acquired for Walker, a 2008 1st Round pick, and Diaw. A lot to give up, but in the state of the Hawks franchise, they weren’t in a position to swing-and-miss on a free agent. Essentially, they didn’t have enough chips to call the Suns bluff.

Well, there goes the cap space. I liked the transaction because it was the only way to get someone who had the potential to be a top 25 player in the league via free agency.

Knight uses some more of his available cap space to sign ZaZa Pachulia to a 4 year deal that worked out quite well also.

Now it is the 2005-2006 season and the depth chart looks a little better (considering there is still no PG or C)


This team goes 26-56 and shows a little bit of life at times. Joe starts every game and averages 20+ points and 6.5 assists per game. Smith averages 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and almost 3 blocks per game. Even 19 year old Marvin averaged 8.5 points and 5 rebounds a game.

However, the 2006 off-season is even more of a disaster than 2005. With the #5 pick, the Hawks took 6’9 Sheldon Williams. What made this worse is that EVERYONE knew that was the pick and EVERYONE hated it. Knight figured that he could upgrade his point guard and center situation in free agency and couldn’t pass on a 6’9 forward.

Point Guard FA acquisition: Speedy Claxton
Center FA acquisition: Lorenzen Wright

Strike 2.

Maybe the worst free agent signings in history. Four years and $25 million were paid to Speedy for his 44 games of service as a Hawk.

Sheldon became the 2nd best player in his marriage and has become a career backup worth 5-8 so-so minutes per game. Meanwhile, 2007 ROY and 3-time all-star Brandon Roy went with the next pick.

Strike 3.

And to rub things in even more with the point guard debacle, the pick Knight acquired in the Walker trade that was sent to Phoenix was used to draft Rajon Rondo in that same draft.

Most know the story of the last 3 seasons from this point. Horford and Law are drafted in 2007 and the team later acquired Mike Bibby and made the playoffs that year. Then, after consecutive winning seasons and quick 2nd round playoff exits, the team is now at another crossroads.

However, this isn’t the time to rebuild again. The way the salary cap is set up, you can’t let Joe leave and sign anything close in return. Now is the time to become creative and give yourself a chance to compete again in 2010-2011. There is no cap space to lure free agents and no top 5 pick to acquire Evan Turner, John Wall, or Derrick Favors.

The league is set up for teams to re-sign and keep its good players. Either sign-and-trade Joe or pay the money to keep him. Smith and Williams are extended and Al’s is on the way. There is unlikely to be an impact rookie at #24 in the draft, but go find some depth.

Let’s see what Rick Sund does. If the 2010 off-season ends with his “Strike 1,” we may be in for another run of futility. And I don’t want to be rooting for ping-pong balls any time soon…

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Depressing Hawks stuff...

It is a well known fact amongst hard-core Atlanta Hawks fans. Since moving to Atlanta, the team has never reached the Conference Finals. The last 2 seasons have placed an exclamation mark on that stat because it is clear the team isn’t close to reaching that elusive playoff round.

However, it is even more disturbing to look back at the history of the franchise in this Conference semi-finals round. It isn’t just 4-5 times they have gone to the Conference Semi’s and lost – or even 9 or 10 – but 14 times. That’s right, 0-14 in the Conference Semi-final round since moving to Atlanta . Here’s a quick recap:

2010 – Swept in 4 games by Orlando

2009 – Swept in 4 games by Cleveland

1999 – Swept in 4 games by New York

1997 – Lost in 5 games to Chicago

1996 – Lost in 5 games to Orlando

1994 – Lost in 6 games to Indiana

1988 – Lost in 7 games to Boston

1987 – Lost in 5 games to Detroit

1986 – Lost in 5 games to Boston

1980 – Lost in 5 games to Philadelphia

1979 – Lost in 7 games to Washington

1973 – Lost in 6 games to Boston

1972 – Lost in 6 games to Boston

1971 – Lost in 5 games to New York

That’s 0 for their last 12, 2 for their last 22, and an overall record of 18-56 in this cursed round.

Clearly, the best shot for this team to advance to the Conference Finals was 1988, where the team had a 3-2 series lead versus Boston and had Game 6 at the Omni. They lose by 2 at home in Game 6, and then by 2 again in Game 7 at Boston Garden.

The 1979 team also forced a Game 7 by blowing out Washington in Game 6 at home, but were beaten by 6 in the decisive Game 7.

Of teams that have been around as long as the Hawks, only the Clippers have not at least made the Conference Finals. In fact, every team that has been around since 1970 has made at least the NBA Finals except Atlanta, LAC, Sacramento, and Denver.

Now that the Falcons back-to-back winning seasons curse is gone, is this the new curse for Atlanta? There are certainly other options, but this run is pretty bad and has covered 40 years now. And the team has fittingly thrown in the last 2 seasons results to make things a little more painful...

Top High School players I've seen...

15. James Florence – Point guard that has gone on to dominate the Atlantic Sun while at Mercer. He was clearly a scorer and leader while at Wheeler but major schools backed off him due to his height. Always seemed to hit the big shot in big games and the team seemed in control when he was handling the rock.

14. Jodie Meeks – Jodie was a very talented player when I first saw him at Roswell HS as a freshman. He turned into a lights-out shooter later during his time at Norcross HS. He was the leading scorer on Norcross’s 1st of 3 state titles from 2006-2008.

13. Javaris Crittenton
– Javaris won a state title as a sophomore in 2004, teaming up with Dwight Howard at SACA. He later won another on his own in 2006 by carving up a talented Whitefield Academy squad. Explosive guard that was Mr. Georgia in 2006.

12. Ezra Williams – I first saw Ezra when he was in 10th grade and had never heard of him. I thought my Campbell Spartans were finally going to get some revenge on Marietta after Dion Glover, Travis Zachary, and LaBrone Mitchell had left. Not so much – Ezra went for 46 in Campbell ’s gym as a sophomore and capped his career with a state championship in 1999.

11. Toney Douglas
– Toney played on back-to-back final four teams at Jonesboro High School. He teamed with 2 future NFL players, his brother Harry, and Darrell Robertson to make those state playoff runs. Great scorer and defender that was just as good at Florida State.

10. Morris Almond – Morris teamed with Josh Smith to form a very good team at McEachern in 2002-2003. He led Cobb County in scoring and rebounding as a junior and was a top scorer in Division I while at Rice before becoming a 1st round pick in the NBA.

9. JJ Hickson – Hickson was a guy that had NBA post moves while in high school. Seeing him go up against Gani Lawal was quite a treat. While Hickson didn’t totally outplay Lawal, you could see how much more advanced his game was.

8. DA Layne – I had the privilege to see DA play at the highest level at Wheeler, as well as play with DA in middle school. Excellent high school player that went on to shine at UGA and to this day still plays in South America.

7. Josh Smith – Josh was the most freakish high school athlete I have seen, and it has translated to the NBA. He improved dramatically his junior year at McEachern, going from a dreadful game in November vs Wheeler to a highlight filled performance (40+ points, 10+ blocks) against Campbell in January.

6. Vincent Banks – Another Mr. Georgia in 2003, Vincent had some academic issues that kept him from shining in college. He sat out a few years and recently decided to give hoops another try and averaged 15 ppg this past season at Garden City Community College in Kansas, where Darrin Hancock has several school records.

5. Dwight Howard – I first saw Dwight as a 6’5 sophomore shooting guard. By his junior year, he was 6’8 and you could see he was becoming a huge inside force. By the time he was facing off against Randolph Morris at Georgia Tech on ESPN, he was the consensus top HS player in the country. Dwight was Mr. Georgia the same year he was the #1 overall pick, 2004.

4. Darrin Hancock – I was pretty young when I saw Darrin, but man was he athletic. Darrin was 1988 Mr. Georgia from Griffin HS and could literally grab a rebound, take 4 steps and dunk on the other end. He never developed into an NBA player, but was a starter on the 1993 Kansas Final Four team for Roy Williams after a stint in Juco.

3. Shareef Abdur-Rahim – Shareef did it all at Wheeler. He was the 1st guy I saw that was that tall and could play facing the basket so well. The 2-time Mr. Georgia was certainly deserving.

2. Louis Williams – I saw Louis about 10 times in high school from his 9th-12th grade years. The most impressive game I saw was against North Gwinnett where he went for 25+ in the 2nd half to lead South Gwinnett to a comeback win. Louis was the 2005 Mr. Georgia winner.

1. Kwame Brown – Kwame was unreal when I saw him in Macon against Berkmar, the eventual AAAAA state champion. In the 4th quarter, he was running point guard against a team with 5+ future college players. He finished the game with 40 points, 20 rebounds, and 8 blocks. Very impressive and winner of Mr. Georgia in 2001 right before he became the 1st prep player to be selected #1 overall in the NBA Draft.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Heyward vs Francoeur

It was well chronicled on here (link, link, and link) how impressive Jason Heyward was during the 2009 season as he went from “great prospect” to “#1 prospect in all of baseball.” I’ve heard some people say they are still not sure about Heyward as a long-term star because just 5 years ago, Jeff Francoeur burst on to the scene in just as big a fashion as Heyward. Now, I know both guys are right fielders, went to high school in Georgia , and were 1st round picks, but the similarities end there.

Through 40 major league games, Jason Heyward has the following numbers:

.290 AVG – 9 HR – 33 RBI – 25 BB - .409 OBP - .989 OPS

I don’t have the exact numbers, but Francoeur’s 1st 40 games were close to this:

.340 AVG – 11 HR – 34 RBI – 3 BB - .352 OBP - .929 OPS

The most glaring numbers are that Francoeur’s average was 50 points higher, even though he finished the year at an even .300. And, the 25 walks for Heyward make is the other major difference. In fact, only in 2007 (42) and 2008 (39) did Francoeur even get to the 25 walk mark for an entire season.

That’s the difference. One guy is a free-swinger whose power went away. The other is a disciplined hitter that even with 15 HR’s in a year would still be a great player because he can get on base.

Will Heyward keep his current pace up? Not likely. According to ESPN, if he did continue at his current pace he would finish with 36 HR’s, 130 RBI, and 122 BB’s.

Francoeur walked 127 times in 2500+ plate appearances as a Brave. If Heyward kept up his current pace for his career, he would rank 10th all-time in OPS behind only guys named Ruth, Williams, Bonds, Gehrig, Ramirez, Greenberg, Foxx, Hornsby, and Pujols.

Again, not likely, but Heyward becoming a star and HOF caliber player for his career is becoming very likely...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Draft stuff...

With the baseball draft just a few weeks away, I am going to try something new this year. Rather than doing a mock draft and trying to project which teams will pick which players (which is almost impossible with players dropping due to agents/sign-ability issues), I am going to rank the players available in this years draft based on how good a major league career I think they will have. Rick Porcello was a top 10 prospect a few years ago but drpped to #27 due to him wanting $5 million plus. It seems this is a more appropriate way to project big-league success.

I will certainly leave players off this list like Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie because they are high school projects that need a lot of tweaking. Neither has been overly dominant or showed they are even close to being big-league ready.

1) Bryce Harper – Clear cut #1 that has exploded in Juco while hitting with a wooden bat. .415-23-68 is pretty impressive and he has shown the ability to play catcher or outfield.

2) Drew Pomeranz – Lefty from Ole Miss with nasty stuff could be a fast riser to the majors by 2011.

3) Zack Cox – Pure hitter from Arkansas that has feasted on the top pitching in the SEC. Third baseman that needs to add some power, but once he figures it out he will be an everyday guy.

4) Anthony Ranaudo – 6’7 righty that could be a #3 or #4 starter in the big leagues by 2012. He projects as a front line starter in his prime.

5) Yasmani Grandal – Will probably go the Buster Posey/Matt Wieters route and spend 2 years or so in the minors before becoming an everyday catcher in the majors. Heading into the weekend, he is .425-13-54 while playing in the ACC.

6) Chris Sale – Left handed starting pitcher that has shown tremendous upside while dominating the Juco level. He is 6’6 and 10-0 (1.97) with 135 K’s in 96 innings so far in 2010.

7) Deck McGuire – Georgia Tech ace has 4 quality pitches and has above average command.

8) Christian Colon – Slick fielding shortstop from Cal-State Fullerton is hitting .349-14-52 while leading the Titans to another solid season. He may be a second baseman at the big-league level, but is solid at shortstop as well.

9) Josh Sale – Big time high school hitting prospect out of Washington (Gonzaga commitment) that is very polished at the plate. He drives the ball to all fields and is very advanced with his plate discipline.

10) Micah Gibbs – Possibly the SEC player of the year from LSU, the catcher is hitting .415-8-52

Future Braves…

While the annual RSM Braves prospects rankings will be up next month, it is intriguing to see the future starting rotation possibilities that the organization has. The guy that has been throwing the best lately has been 2009 1st round pick Mike Minor. Minor is 1-3 with a 3.43 ERA through 8 starts this year. However, his last 2 starts (1-0), he has gone 14 innings, allowed 0 runs with 19 K’s. He is likely moving up to AAA by mid-summer and could see some innings out of the Braves bullpen in September. Don’t rule out Minor being in the starting rotation next season.

However, don’t pencil Minor in as the Braves #3 or #4 guy behind Hanson and Jurrjens for the next few years yet. The most exciting starting pitching prospect the Braves have is Julio Teheran. Julio projects as a future ace of the staff, maybe even ahead of Hanson. In Rome this season, he has made 7 starts with his mid-90’s fastball:

39 IP – 5 ER – 1.14 ERA with 45 K’s to only 10 walks

Teheran is joined in the Rome staff by Arodys Vizcaino, the prospect acquired in the Vazquez trade in December. Vizcaino has 5 wins in his 8 starts with a 3.71 ERA.

Randall Delgado appears even closer to the major leagues than either Vizcaino or Teheran and could be in the rotation by 2012. Delgado currently has a 2.98 ERA through 8 starts in Myrtle Beach and has struck out 51 in 45 innings.

Now, we just need to find some bats to put in the lineup around Heyward and another run of division titles could be in the near future...

Monday, May 17, 2010

The fall of Jeff Francoeur…


Those are your April 17-May 17 stats for Mr. Francoeur. That hot start is way behind him now and his season average is down to .217 with an OBP of .277. Throw in the 3 walks from the April 17-May 17 stretch and his OBP for a full month (99 plate appearances) is .151.

So much for the whole change-of-scenery-will-fix-his-problems theory. He is still the same old Frenchy. How long can he last in New York with these numbers? Not too long ago, he was in the top 5 all of the MLB in OPS. Now, he is right back where he has been the past few years - In the bottom 20, right between Drew Stubbs and Casey Kotchman.

Only 16 players with over 100 at bats this season have a lower OBP than Francoeur. One thing Jeff can take from this list is there are many former All-Stars that are having much worse seasons.

How about Aramis Ramirez? He has hit at right at a .300 clip over the last 5 years. In 2010, he is .167 through 138 at bats with only 3 home runs.

Jose Reyes? Did placing him in the 3-hole in April get in his head? He is hitting .221 with 0 home runs and only 8 walks in 145 at bats.

Carlos Lee is hitting a steady .199 with 3 home runs and only 8 walks in 136 at bats.

See Jeff, things could be worse. However, in New York , it can get worse in a hurry…

Friday, May 14, 2010

Here’s an interesting thought…

We are almost to Memorial Day, which is when you can really start looking at the MLB standings. Interesting to note that perennial sub .500 teams Cincinnati , Washington , and San Diego are all sitting with pretty impressive records. While the Phillies and Cardinals seem to have the best NL overall teams, the last 2 playoff spots will likely be determined late in September. Can any of these teams keep up the pace? San Diego ’s pitching has been tremendous and they have a lot of good young hitters. The Reds have used the hot-start by never-pitched-in-the-minors Mike Leake (who I wrote here would be a great pick for the Braves in last years draft). However, the Nationals are the team that I think has the most staying power.

Think about this scenario…It is late July, and teams are making their pitch for the big-time available starters that are likely to be available. Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and company are possibly going to be on the trading block at that time. If Steven Strasburg comes up and is close to what he has been in the minors, how good could Washington be if they acquired one of these starters?

The lineup is pretty strong with Zimmerman-Dunn-Willingham in the middle as run producers. Pudge has been a great pick-up and Nyjer Moran has been getting on base from the lead-off spot. If they are still close in July, think about a Lee-Strasburg-Marquis-Hernandez-Olsen rotation with a bullpen that has been better than average so far.

This team may run into issues because the franchise has never won, but there may be enough pieces that they could turn into a playoff team.

Just a thought...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Braves thoughts..

Interesting to see that heading into Wednesday’s Braves game, the offensively-challenged Braves have 3 players in the top 25 in all of MLB in OBP. Obviously, Heyward is one as he is in the top 10 at .423. But, how about the other 2 - none other than Brian McCann and Chipper Jones. Even though both are hitting under .250, they still are getting on base at a very solid rate. Chipper is just .004 off his career OBP, and McCann is almost 50 points higher than his career rate.

What does this mean? Well, first off, these numbers are possibly due to the poor hitting of the bottom of the order. Why let Chipper and McCann beat you when the outfield is a combined ~.200 with no power? Also, it means that the outfield woes are the sole problem in the lineup. Glaus has been about as productive as you could hope for, Heyward better than expected, and Chip/B-Mac have been OK. The Chip/B-Mac could be producing more runs, but that is part of the overall problem.

The Diaz-McLouth-Melky combo is absolutely killing this team. There is no apparent solution besides hoping one gets hot and maybe playing Hinske a little more. Someone needs to step up and jump-start the offense. The likely candidate is McLouth, having been an All-Star in the past and having the speed/defense combination. He simply has to get it going.

We are also closing in on the first full 162 game stretch with Tommy Hanson in the rotation. Once he hits the 36 start mark, look for an update on how dominant he has been...

Friday, May 7, 2010

MLB Draft Stuff...

As most RSM loyal readers know, the MLB Draft is likely to be a hot topic on this blog for the next couple of months. The wide-range of available players, sign-ability questions, agents, high school vs college, and strong local flavor make this something I look forward to every year.

This year, like 2009, has a consensus #1 pick in Bryce Harper. Bryce is currently hitting .417-21-64 for Southern Nevada CC and is likely the top pick for 2010. There are also several Georgia high school-ers that are possible high picks. DeAndre Smelter from Macon is a sure-fire 1st round pick as a pitcher with a mid-90’s fastball and good command. Kaleb Cowart is a shortstop from Cook County that appears to be a 1st round pick as well. Chevez Clark (Marietta HS) and Cam Bedrosian (East Coweta) are late 1st rounders to sandwich picks.

Deck McGuire of Georgia Tech should go in the 1st round as there are several college pitchers that seem like lock top 10 picks. I think Drew Pomeranz from Ole Miss will the best of the bunch, but Anthony Ranaudo from LSU has a 6’7 frame and tons of upside.

Jamison Tallion is the consensus top high school arm which always draws a crowd. He will likely head to Pittsburgh with the #2 pick. I’ve had the chance to see a couple more potential 1st rounders in person this year. Stetson Allie from Ohio has a fastball that is usually 97-101, but doesn’t quite know where it’s going all the time. I saw him pitch against Drew Cisco, a UGA signee that is one of the most polished high school pitchers this year. Cisco went through his regular season at Wando HS with over 75 K’s and only 5 walks in 40+ innings.

The Braves don’t pick until 35, but there is always the “root for a guy to fall” factor. I think Cowart from Cook County would be a solid choice. He is 6’3 and is a tremendous shortstop prospect. The flame-throwing Asher Wojciechowski from The Citadel is also intriguing. He has dominated the Southern Conference this year and is in the top 5 nationally in K’s. I also think the Braves may go after power hitting 1st baseman Hunter Morris from Auburn or switch-hitting catcher Micah Gibbs from LSU.


It's always cool to see walk-off grand slams. Andre Ethier had one last night, and even though the game was tied, they are still pretty sweet to see. There are a few in Braves recent history I remember, and some others that stick out.

Remember back in 2001, when the Braves were a lock to make the postseason and owned the Mets? I barely do either. But, that year, the Braves hit 2 walk-off grand slams to beat the Mets in one summer. Javy Lopez had one off of Armando Benitez and Brian Jordan had one off John Franco. Those were the days...

The most recent walk-off grand slam was Jeff Francoeur off Chad Cordero in 2006. One of the most memorable was David Eckstein off Chris Reitsma the year before that. In fact, that was the only walk-off grand slam in 2005. That was right in the heart of the Chris Reitsma-is-terrible-and-can't-get-hitters-out-anymore-era.

Of the 45 walk-off grand slams since 2001, there is a disturbing number of Ex and current Braves on the list of pitchers to serve them up.

Esteban Yan
Billy Wagner
Pedro Borbon
Danys Baez
Joe Borowski x 2
Chris Reitsma
Julian Tavarez
Bob Wickman
Jorge Julio
Jesse Chavez

Shows how many bootleg relievers have come through Atlanta the last 10-15 years. Thanks to for the cool stats.


The Hawks have to do something in the off-season to address their small-forward position. I am about fed up with Marvin Williams and his lack of play-making. Small-forward is a spot where you need a guy that can create, shoot, rebound, and make plays in general. While Marvin has shown the ability to do most of these things well at times, he has yet to come close to any form of consistency in his 5 years in the league.

Some Hawk fans may be intrigued with what Marvin may be able to do as a 2nd or 3rd option. Not me. That scenario scares me to death. The starting small-forwards in the league are mostly guys that are big-time scorers or at least 3 point or defensive specialists. Marvin seems to be right at below-average to average in all attributes desired by an elite small-forward.

Marvin this season played an average of 30 minutes per game. He scored 10 ppg, 5 rpg, and 1 apg in his 30 minutes. There has to be more production from that spot in those 30 minutes. The average starting small forward in the league plays 30 mpg as well. However, the averages are higher in ppg, rpg, and apg.

Marvin - Mpg - 30 / Ppg - 10.1 / Rpg - 5.1 / Apg - 1.1
Average - MpG - 30 / Ppg - 14.2 / Rpg - 5.1 / Apg - 2.3

Looking at these numbers further, it appears there are 3 guys who would fit the mold of "average NBA starting small forward."

Trevor Ariza
Tayshaun Prince
Danilo Gallinari

Marvin is no-where near any of these 3 guys as far as being a starting NBA small-forward. You have a couple of defensive specialists, 1 lights-out shooter, and 2 good shooters.

It's getting to the point where Marvin isn't just a bust because the team passed on Paul/Deron/Felton, but because he just isn't good enough to warrant a #2 pick. He is still 23, but 5 years in the league should be enough to show what kind of player you can be.

Maybe he still has upside? Maybe there is a team out there who likes him? Maybe the Hawks can package Josh/Marvin for a center or point guard?

I had a little fun with the ESPN trade machine with this. Here is the accepted deal I came up with.

ATL outgoing - Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, 2010 1st Round Pick
ATL incoming - Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, James Johnson

Would Chicago do this? Maybe, if they miss out on LeBron/Wade and sign Chris Bosh. They could build around Rose/Smoove/Bosh and still have Marvin/Thomas/Miller/Pargo and 2 1st rounders + Cap space.

Atlanta could resign Joe, bring back J-Chillz and start

Hinrich/Joe/Childress/Horford/Noah with Crawford/Evans/ZaZa/Gibson/Johnson/Teague off the bench.

If you can't tell, I've lost all hope for this series. I'll still root like hell in Game 3, though...

For those interested, here are the forwards used to compile the averages used.


M. Williams (ATL) 30.5 10.1 5.1 1.1
Pierce (BOS) 34 18.3 4.4 3.4
Wallace (CHA) 41 18.2 10 2.2
Deng (CHI) 38 17.7 7.3 2
James (CLE) 39 29.7 7.3 8.6
Marion (DAL) 31.8 12 6.4 1.4
Anthony (DEN) 38.2 28.2 6.6 3.2
Prince (DET) 34 13.5 5.1 3.3
Maggette (GSW) 29.7 19.8 5.3 2.8
Ariza (HOU) 36.5 14.9 5.6 3.8
Granger (IND) 36.7 24.1 5.5 2.8
Butler (LAC) 33 11.9 2.9 1.4
Artest (LAL) 33.8 11.1 4.3 3
Gay (MEM) 39.7 19.6 5.9 1.9
Richardson (MIA) 27.4 8.9 4.9 1.2
Delfino (MIL) 30.4 11 5.3 2.7
Gomes (MIN) 29.1 10.9 4.6 1.6
Williams (NJN) 22.6 8.4 4.5 2.9
Peterson (TOR) 21.2 7.1 2.7 0.9
Gallinari (NYK) 33.9 15.1 4.9 1.7
Durant (OKC) 39.5 30.1 7.6 2.8
Barnes (ORL) 25.9 8.8 5.9 1.7
Kapono (PHI) 17.1 5.7 1.2 0.7
Hill (PHO) 30 11.3 5.5 2.4
Batum (POR) 24.8 10.1 3.8 1.2
Nocioni (SAC) 19.7 8.5 3 1
Jefferson (SAS) 31.1 12.3 4.4 2
Wright (TOR) 20.8 6.5 2.8 1.1
Miles (UTA) 23.8 9.9 2.7 1.7
Miller (WAS) 33.4 10.9 6.2 3.9


Averages 30.9 14.2 5.1 2.3

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another Hawks Meltdown...

That makes it 6 straight losses in the conference semi-finals the last 2 years. That is 6 games being outscored 611-482. That works out to 101.8 to 80.3.

Clearly, this team does not have the ingredients required to make a serious run to an NBA Championship. In the inferior conference, they can't even compete in the conference semi-finals, let alone win an NBA Finals series.

The sad part is that you could see this final result tonight coming the whole game, no matter how close the game was. Those that have watched this team during the 2009-2010 season day in and day out have seen it. This team lacks the ability to put together a strong 4th quarter performance and win a game. In fact, they often blow leads and turn tight games into blow outs in the 4th quarter.

That panic-filled, composure-less squad that shows up in the 4th quarter so much was very evident in Game 2. Forcing shots and resorting to one-on-one offensive sets instead of doing what had worked in quarters 1-3. They look tired and uninspired on defense in the 4th quarter and never seem to have any intensity.

Just to depress everyone a bit more, lets take a look at some examples from this season where the Hawks had some of their 4th quarter meltdowns.

Game - 4th quarter score/ Final result

At home November 26 vs Orlando - 26-11 / 16 point loss
At home December 4 vs New York - 31-23 / 7 point loss
At Denver December 23rd - 32-22 / 20 point loss
At home December 29th vs Cleveland - 20-10 / 11 point loss
At Cleveland on December 30th - 29-16 / 5 point loss
At home vs Miami on February 10th - 27-12 / 18 point loss
At Golden State on February 21st - 35-14 / 4 point loss
At home vs Dallas on February 26th - 46-27 (w/ OT) / 8 point loss
At Miami on March 6th - 24-17 / 6 point loss
At Toronto on March 17th - 31-19 / 1 point loss
At Milwaukee on March 22nd - 31-21 / 3 point loss
At Detroit on April 7th - 25-16 / 2 point loss
Game 5 in Round 1 vs Milwaukee - 30-18 / 4 point loss
Game 2 in Round 2 vs Orlando - 28-15 / 14 point loss

Barring a complete change in this team the next week, it appears the franchise is about to go into blow-it-all-up-and-try-something-else mode.

At least the Braves didn't get no-hit...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Random Fact of the day...

I get these all the time and am starting a new blog topic. I ran across this today while sporcling/searching the net...

Who are the players in NBA history with at least 3 seasons of 18+ ppg, 7+ rpg, and 7+ apg?

The answer is...

Oscar Robertson (6 times)
Magic Johnson (5 times)
Larry Bird (3 times)
LeBron James (4 times)

and of course, Lafayette "Fat" Lever

Take a look at his basketball-reference page if you get a chance. Lever had quite a run from 1985-1989. It is a shame he only played 9+ years before retiring with bad knees. Lever is also one of three players (Wilt and Kidd being the others) to have a playoff game with 15-15-15.

Certainly a guy that has been lost in the shuffle over the years with all the great players from the 80's and early 90's.