Big News for the Tomahawk Talkin’ Team!

Bobby thinks this is a good idea.

Bobby thinks this is a good idea.

Hey all you Braves fans that have been with us from the beginning(a whole 2 months ago!). This site has been a fun, although short ride so far.  I am pleased to announce that the Tomahawk Talkin’ Team will be moving on to bigger and better things by joining the team over at ATL All Day, a great site that covers ALL Atlanta sports and is part of the Sports Illustrated Fansided Network of sites.  We will be taking over the Braves portion of this site and will continue with our normal posting ways plus adding a few new guys OR GIRLS to the mix.

The whole team is coming along for the ride and we will still be putting out the same great content, just at a different address.  All of our twitter accounts will remain the same and will still be linking to all our content.  All you have to change is the site bookmark.

Come join us over at ATL All Day in the Braves section and if you are a fan of other Atlanta sports stick around for the rest too.

If anyone is interested in joining the team please let me know.  You can find me on twitter at TomahawkTalk.  Just hit me up on twitter and we can discuss or you can shoot me an email at Murph2TheHall@gmail.com

So from myself, Brad, Harris, Mark and the Braves Meme Guy, thanks again for your support and we hope to see you all over at the new site!

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Chipper Jones Meme of the Day

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Chipper Jones the BEST!

chipperweekend

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Braves Pursuing Kevin Gregg

According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, the Braves are pursuing reliever Kevin Gregg of the Chicago Cubs.

The Braves are among the many teams expected to show interest in Cubs closer Kevin Gregg, who owns a 1.11 ERA in 25 appearances. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez utilized Gregg as his closer while they were together with the Marlins in 2007 and ’08. -Bowman

This is something that Braves need. With the loss of Venters and O’Flaherty, the Braves are in need of a solid bullpen guy–although Gregg isn’t left handed.

I would like to think the Braves pursue him a little harder than some other guys, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they went out and got another lefty just for insurance.

Plus he wears sports goggles.

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Ramiro Pena To Have Season-Ending Surgery

As if losing in walk off fashion didn’t sting enough the Braves announced last night that utility man Ramiro Pena will undergo season-ending surgery on a torn labrum in his arm.

There isn’t a timetable on when Pena will have the surgery done or who the surgeon will be  or where it will even take place.

It’s a big blow to the Braves. So far this season they have been able to weather the storm that injury bug has thrown at them, but Braves’ fans may soon fear that it could catch up to them down the road.

Lefty relievers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty are done for the season, starter Brandon Beachy has yet to appear in a game as he battles back from Tommy John surgery and Evan Gattis remains on the disabled list with a right oblique strain.

If I were a betting man, my money is on Dr. James Andrews to perform the surgery on Pena. If that’s the case, look out.

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Counterpoint: Don’t Stop Hating on Chris Johnson

Chrisjohnsondefense

Chris Johnson is batting .320, the highest batting average on the team, and this means almost nothing because he is trash and the Braves desperately need a real third baseman. That is a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit. Certainly Johnson has far exceeded the Braves wildest dreams so far and has been an excellent throw in to the Justin Upton trade. The problem is there is no reason to expect anything but massive regression going forward. I think Frank Wren is a generally excellent GM so I assume his thinking has not been adjusted significantly by Johnson’s start. The average baseball fan though loves a guy with a high batting average and tends to believe things like that can last forever. Certainly most Braves fans have only ever seen Johnson hit for a high average and therefore fully expects him to continue to hit over .300. After all, if a person has never seen a player struggle before they have no reason to think he will ever struggle. Therefore I am here to help explain why my thinking is far more pessimistic towards Johnson than my colleague who posted earlier about how people like me need to be nicer to Johnson.

First off Johnson is terrible at defense. Everyone seems to acknowledge this but Johnson defenders brush this off as if it is just a tiny thing, like it isn’t a bigger deal than playing music too loud in the clubhouse or something. Being bad at defense is just a nuisance but not something truly meaningful such people seem to think. Well no Johnson isn’t just bad at defense he is the worst defensive third baseman in baseball and that is not a little thing. Johnson so far this year is at -6 defensive runs saved and since 2010 has been worth -45 defensive runs saved. This is beyond atrocious. According to UZR Johnson has been worth -7.8 runs below average this year and projection systems have him on pace to cost the Braves between 11 and 14 runs this year. All of this is with Johnson playing the easiest third base assignment ever. With Andrelton Simmons playing shortstop the Braves have Johnson playing no doubles defense right on the line almost exclusively. Johnson still manages to be a disaster at even this relatively simple task as evidenced by the play last week when a ball hit right at him went straight through his legs and was ruled a double. Johnson isn’t just a bad defensive player he is an absolute disaster who plays defense as if he were a deaf, dumb, and blind pinball wizard.

Now if Johnson’s .359 wOBA was sustainable and representative of his true talent level at the plate than his horrific defense would be almost tolerable. Unfortunately, his .359 wOBA is nowhere near sustainable and to act as if it was would be as colossal a mistake as the Braves front office could make. Not all success is created equal and Johnson has a .401 BABIP which no player is capable of sustaining over a full season. While not all high BABIP’s are a mirage everything about Johnson’s profile as a hitter suggests his hot start is mostly smoke and mirrors. Johnson walks in 5.5% of his plate appearances and strikes out in 23% of them. A high strikeout rate is tolerable in a player who strikes out because he is working the count and taking borderline pitches while hitting for a lot of power. Johnson does none of those things. Johnson doesn’t walk and isn’t really a power hitter having hit only 38 homers in his 3 and a half year career. A low walk rate, high strikeout rate, high BABIP, and lack of power all scream about a player heading for an unfortunate encounter with the regression monster. Projection systems ZIPS & Steamer both predict Johnson to either lose value or add no further value the rest of the year and this is a prognosis I agree with.

Certainly as a Braves fan I love when Johnson manages to squeeze another bleeder through the infield. I would love it if he continued to bat .320 for the rest of the season and maintained his .359 wOBA. But I do not think such an optimistic prediction can really be made based on any rational thought process. Thank you Chris Johnson for all you have given the Braves so far and certainly he has been an excellent addition to the Justin Upton heist. That being said a smart GM will still be looking to add a third baseman at the trade deadline. Fortunately, Frank Wren is a very smart GM.

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Trade Deadline Approaching, Do The Braves Make a Move?

Frank Wren

The trade deadline inches closer and closer with each passing day, and the Braves could quite possibly be in the market for some help.

So who or what do they possibly need? When you look through the infield and outfield, you can see there is not a lot of work that needs to be done. Maybe a few role players here or there, maybe not.

But I think what the Braves need the most is bullpen help. The bullpen has pitched absolutely unbelievable this year given the fact that everyone is pitching out of order down there. You also have to throw in the possibility of a starter going into the bullpen when Brandon Beachy returns to full strength.

So if the Braves were in fact to make a deal, who are some of the guys they could go after assuming they wanted to go after anyone at all, and it be a guy from the bullpen.

The first guy that comes to my mind is Jesse Crain of the White Sox. Crain has been spectacular this year for the Sox in their bullpen. He’s 2-2 with a 0.52 ERA while pitching 34.2 innings, allowing 26 hits, five runs (only two have been earned) and has struck out 46 while walking 11. He’s going to be a hot topic for anyone who is in need of an extra arm in the ‘pen. If the Braves some how land him, he can be someone who could be used a seventh or eighth inning guy.

PLEASE NO MARMOL PLEASE NO MARMOL PLEASE NO MARMOL PLEASE NO MARMOL. 

An interesting one to think about is Cubs’ pitcher Carlos Marmol James Russell. Straight from AJC’s Dave O’Brien, “Russell has a 2.22 ERA in 35 appearances this season, with 26 strikeouts, eight walks and 22 hits (one homer) allowed in 28-1/3 innings. And a big plus: He’d be under contractual control for two more years, important since lefty Eric O’Flaherty will be eligible for free agency (and coming off TJ surgery) and Jonny Venters will be coming off TJ surgery and entering second year of arbitration.”

These are merely just two guys who came to mind when thinking of bullpen help. It could be anyone AND BY ANYONE I MEAN THE EXCEPTION OF CARLOS MARMOL BECAUSE…NO. 

Follow Brad Stiene on Twitter @bs_kysco1 or like Tomahawk Talkin’ on Facebook. 

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