Braves’ deal for Trevor Cahill illustrates concerns about rotation

Trevor Cahill gives Braves a right-handed starter but he struggled with Arizona. (AP photo)

Trevor Cahill gives Braves a right-handed starter but he struggled with Arizona. (AP photo)

Trevor Cahill gives Braves a right-handed starter but he struggled with Arizona. (AP photo)

The narrative for the Braves going into this season is that their pitching will be fine and their offense will be challenged — and there’s no reason to believe that won’t be the case.

But it says something that the Braves just made a trade for a starting pitcher who went 3-13 with a 5.61 ERA last season and the team views it as a gain. President of baseball operations John Hart acquired the struggling Trevor Cahill from Arizona for minor league outfielder Josh Elander.

The Diamondbacks were so eager to get rid of Cahill that they will pay $6.5 million of Cahill’s $12 million salary.

The Braves were so eager to add Cahill that they were willing to pay $5.5 million for a pitcher who has a career ERA of 4.07, struggled with a hip injury last season and didn’t make it through five innings in seven of his 17 starts.

But assistant general manager John Coppolella told our David O’Brien, “

Bottom line: They needed help, especially with Mike Minor starting the season on the disabled list with inflammation in his shoulder (again). They also needed a right-hander. For as much as pitching is this team’s strength, things fall apart pretty quickly in the starting rotation after the top three. That assumes No. 3 Shelby Miller will have a solid year after some control issues last year in St. Louis.

Here’s the likely rotation:

No. 1: Julio Teheran (24 years old, RH): He eased any concerns that may have existed before last season that he was ready to make the leap to staff ace, with a career-low 2.89 ERA and a 186 strikeouts (51 walks) in 221 1/3 innings, and an All-Star Game appearance.

No. 2: Alex Wood (24, LH): He exceeded expectations in his first full season, with a 2.78 ERA and 170 strikeouts (45 walks) in 171 2/3 innings. There’s no reason to think he’ll take a step back but he wouldn’t be the first young pitcher to go through some early struggles.

No. 3: Shelby Miller (24, RH): He came to the Braves in the Jason Heyward trade and could be a solid third man. But he struggled with his control last season, particularly in the first three months.

No. 4 or 5: Wandy Rodriguez (36, LH) or Eric Stults (35, LH): Both were non-roster invitees. The bar is low.

UPDATE: Rodriguez has been released by the Braves, presumably leaving a spot in the rotation for Stults.

No. 4 or 5: Cahill (27, RH): He consumed a lot of innings in his last two years in Oakland (196 2/3, 207 2/3) and his first in Arizona (200). But that hasn’t been the case the last two seasons (146 2/3, 110 2/3).

The starting pitching needs to be there because there’s a good chance the run-scoring won’t be.


Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Real news would be Tiger Woods making shots
— AJC: Tiger Woods’ plane in Augusta but status for Masters still uncertain
— AJC: Are Braves really second-worst team in majors (thank you, Philly)?
— AJC: Falcons will pay appropriate penalties for dumb decision
— MyAJC: Paul Millsap: The 6-8 kid who couldn’t dunk now leading Hawks
— AJC: Hawks clinch East, act like it’s no big deal (which is probably good)
— MyAJC: NBA needs to curtail resting of players
— AJC: Will Falcons, others avoid losing draft picks this year?
— MyAJC: Basketball is where Georgia State’s focus should be
— AJC: New reality at Georgia State: What Ron Hunter wants, he gets
— MyAJC: Hawks get drilled, and concerns may be growing
— MyAJC: Georgia better but still not where it needs to be
— AJC: Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament
— MyAJC: Gregory knows he needs to make most of his extended lifeline
— AJC: Gregory says he gave Izzo ‘everything’ he has on Georgia
— AJC: Timing is everything, as Tech keeps Gregory
— AJC: Tech expected to keep Gregory, but former coach (Hewitt) fired again
— MyAJC: Column on Quinn, Dimitroff defending moves, philosophy
— AJC: Exclusive: Q&A with Quinn, Dimitroff on Falcons’ moves
— MyAJC: Tech’s candidate pool may be thin if Gregory fired
— AJC: Tech’s decision on Brian Gregory tougher than you might think
— MyAJC: Georgia erratic but ceiling high in tournament
— AJC: NCAA tourney: Dogs should be in, Panthers must do a little more
— MyAJC: Georgia State at center of state’s hoops’ rebirth

Reader Comments 0

58 comments
58Supersports
58Supersports

4th and 5th in rotation is a Big Joke!  They took pray out of schools but they better put it Braves ball park as they will need it.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Freddie Freeman will lead the league in IBBs.  Chris Johnson will lead the league in GDP.  Melvin Upton, Jr. will lead the league in strike outs. Four pitchers will lose 20 games (1 reliever).  Fredi Gonzalez will be fired twice, but rehired each time because no human being would ever take the position as manager for this sub-MLB team.  


6-156


BUT ... the team will make more profits this year than ever before!!!  Go 2016!!!  Same song, second verse!

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

Lets get the obvious out of the way, They're not going to the playoffs and everybody knows this to be true. However, what most fans are missing is the fact that there a six All Star caliber players on this roster.


Teheran, Kimbrel, Freeman, Simmons, Jim Johnson and Grilli. Also, Markakis, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller are all quality big leaguer's. 


Basically, this team has a really solid core of ballplayers and all you fans throwing in the towel....don't listen to the pundits, they are underselling this team.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

It's the total lack of hitting that scares me! We're not good enough to win a lot of 1-0 ball Games!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I smell a stink on this team unlike any I have smelled since using the porta john after the Peachtree Road race!

ComaToes
ComaToes

Yessiree,  this guy Cahill fits right in with the Braves and where they are headed the next few years.  As Schultz mentioned his record was atrocious last year, and he has had 2 winning seasons(just barely) in the last 6 yrs.  His record so far in the NL is an abysmal 24-34.  Makes you want to run right out and buy some Braves tickets huh?  Now that I think about it, every seatback should have  the following  stenciled on them :  "HERE SITS A FOOL" !

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

Frank Wren would've re-signed Ervin Santana.  He just got popped for 80 games

DrTruth
DrTruth

@PalmBeachFalcon Pretty sure nobody around here would ever claim Frank Wren was some kind of GM genius...

Bogey
Bogey

@BigHittas  You do, or you wouldn't have read the article and got on the blog....


You give me the choice of last year's roster with thousands of strike-outs, a losing record, and no rebuilt team or farm system....vs what Hart has done and this roster.....I'll take the latter.  They'll be more interesting to watch and there IS a future coming.  next year will be better, and '17 should be fun.


last year's team had to be the most boring, listless, uninspired, unmotivated, flat-lined team EVER. 

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Bogey Doesn't take much for you to drink all the Kool-Aid....Should have left some for others.

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

@BigHittas I do. Why? Because the organization as a whole is finally headed in the right direction. Yes, they're gonna look ugly at times this season. However the talent is undeniable as there are half a dozen All star caliber players on this roster.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Will take 2 years to recover from the damage Wren did.  Looking for 70-75 wins and 4th place finish.

dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

They are going to be terrible regardless. They will come in 3rd or 4th in a weak division. If they are going to stink at least stink enough to get some good young players out of the draft.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Well, I agree they needed to add depth. From what little I've seen of Spring Training the acquired prospects aren't ready and history holds you need at least six reasonably reliable starters to make it through a season. The young pitchers could blow up physically at any time, as we've seen repeatedly, Minor is questionable, and Rodriguez and Stults cannot really be counted on to log quality starts.


The jury is out on the Braves pitching. The back-end of the bullpen is reconstructed and starters 4-5 are a hope and prayer and not a reliable strong suit. The offense doesn't figure to be in the upper half in runs scored, which will add a lot of stress on the pitching staff.


Upside: If Cahill does pitch around 150 innings or more effectively the starting pitching could be real good, even without Minor. 

DrTruth
DrTruth

Here's why Hart & Coppollella's version of Moneyball will be the worst failure in the history of this franchise:


We saw his last outing, where he showed a real good fastball to 94 (mph) with real good sink.”  [quote should continue here using Schultz's stats]...So we were willing to pay $5.5 million for a pitcher who has a career ERA of 4.07, struggled with a hip injury last season and didn’t make it through five innings in seven of his 17 starts.


Soon people will be asking, "How is it possible for the Braves to trade away a huge chunk of last year's offense (primarily for pitching) and still field a team that is worse than last year in both offensive production and pitching ERA."


Answer:  Because John Hart repeatedly said he didn't want the job.  John Schuerholz, as legendary as his past with the Atlanta Braves may be, is about to be taught a very basic corporate managerial lesson:  "You don't hire someone to run an MLB organization who repeatedly says he doesn't want the job...But you "force" him to take it and in the process give him complete reign over all baseball operations."


When this ends very badly, Schuerholz will be remembered more for putting a non-competitive team in a brand new stadium than for masterminding 14 consecutive division titles.  Unfortunate for him (and current Braves fans who are about to suffer)...

Bogey
Bogey

@DrTruth  You obviously haven't really been paying attention this off-season, or you're just very short-sighted.


The Braves haven't rebuilt since the '80s, and it was long overdue.  They haven't won a playoff series since 2001, and have been in decline ever since. 


I happen to think Hart has had a very good off-season:  he identified the Braves biggest weaknesses:  high KO's, no OBP, absolutely no speed, zero veteran leadership, a farm system ranked next to last, wafer thin starting pitcher depth...and in about 4 months time he made moves to correct ALL of those areas.


And by the way, the reason Hart delayed his decision to accept the job had nothing to do with whether he wanted to do it or not, it took that long for Schuerholz to finally agree that a rebuild was necessary.  Under JS and Wren, they've been using band-aids, glue, duct tape and baling wire to fill all the leaks, cracks and holes in our line-up year after year.  And the reason, Schuerholz was hesitant to agree to doing what was obviously needed was fans like you, who can only think of 2015. 


Yeah, they're gonna stink, but no worse than last year.  And I know this for certain...IF they had held on to JUp and JHey in '15 they would've still lost (certainly not won a WS) and then watched them both go away in FA and get back nothing more than a sandwich pick.  And Gattis, as much as we like him, had no position to play here.  Please note that not a single NL team approached the Braves about Gattis - he's a DH!


The return Hart got for those 3 guys was tremendous....not for '15 necessarily but for '16 and beyond.


Show a little patience, and enjoy watching these Braves (and the minors as well) for things other than just W's.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Bogey You're hilarious!  Fans like me who can only think of 2015?!?  Dude, I was sitting behind home plate in the early 80s after walking up 5min before game time and buying tix...Now you'll get to do the same for next year, the next year, maybe even a couple of years after that.  Hard to tell how long cause all bets are off after Schuerholz is unceremoniously fired for being the "brains" behind this fire sale.


Yeah, there'll be some fans like you in the stands who have nothing better to do than go watch nameless baseball players fight their way to the bottom...Me?  Not so much.  And this is the funniest thing I've heard in weeks:


"... in about 4 months time he made moves to correct ALL of those areas."  What are you...His son?  YAY!  Let's celebrate!  Hart has already corrected everything and we're going to the WS!


"John Schuerholz completed what he called "the best negotiation of my entire career" by convincing his longtime friend John Hart to accept the role of president of baseball operations."


Like I said...Dude didn't want the job.  He'd rather be playing the back nine.  Just give it a few months and you'll be wishing he was playing the back nine too instead of gutting this team.

Wilbo
Wilbo

GT71, have the Bravos lost a hundred? You bet your sweet bippy!


They had 2 lovely losing streaks:


94    in 1975

92    in 1976

101  in 1977

93    in 1978

94    in 1979


96    in 1985

92    in 1987

106  in 1988  Ding, ding, ding, there's your Atlanta Braves loser's record

97    in 1989 & 90

MrPotatoHead
MrPotatoHead

ERA 5.61   That's horrible, very surprised they traded for this guy, I thought you had to have a sore arm or recovering from TJ surgery to be picked up by the Braves.

PantherDawg
PantherDawg

They had to do something cause they lost Viscaino. I'm OK with it. Hope he pans out.

monty1
monty1

When you blow a team up, sometimes all that's left is a bunch of fallout.

monty1
monty1

You just had to have either Harang or Hale. Can't let them both go, but they did. Now look. Some people just never learn.

SomewherenSGa
SomewherenSGa

Naturally concerned about the line-up, they have to build one.

reckingball
reckingball

Can someone tell me why they traded David Hale again? And I still don't understand the reason for getting rid of Gattis in such a hurry either.

Bogey
Bogey

@reckingball  There are actually 3 reasons they traded Gattis:  Thurman (will be a contributor by '17), Ruiz (likely our starting 3B by next year, with power by the way), and most notably Folty (he'll be in our rotation certainly by '16, and likely later this season).


Gattis did have some value for the Braves (backup catcher, mediocre LF with great power), but Hart maximized his value by getting back 2, maybe 3 future starters.

kirkinga
kirkinga

@reckingball The sabermetric people said he was not as good as the results he produced in the few starts he had. They said he wasn't really good enough to be even a 5th Starter and that he Braves could find similar below average guys just about anywhere.

GT71
GT71

Estimates for Braves wins just went from around 70 to around 60.

Has there ever been a Braves team in Atlanta to lose 100 games?  Even in the dark days of the 1980's?

TomGaff
TomGaff

Mark my words, "the Braves will be terrible this year"!!Lucky to win 70 games! I'm still pis-ed about them trading Evan Gattis(very affordable) to Houston for three minor leaguers who will not see MLB this year, except on TV!! By the way Gattis(aka White Bear) is hitting around .400 this preseason while playing a decent OF! Bad bad decision!!!

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@TomGaff  As much as I liked Gattis on our team, he will be an injury risk and will butcher his share of balls in the OF.  Would you like to bet that Folty won't be in the majors at some point this year?

TomGaff
TomGaff

@stripesofzebra @TomGaff Just to be sure, I double-checked the stats at the Astros web site! He has the following preseason stats: 11 games, 32 AB's, 13 hits, 4 doubles, 1 HR, 7 RBI's, 3 BB, 5 SO's, 0 errors, and a .406 BA! I was correct the first time!

TomGaff
TomGaff

@PalmBeachFalcon @TomGaff I probably would take that wager. Just because he throws in the upper 90's does not make him an ML pitcher. He has been awful this preseason, does not know how to pitch except throw hard. Maybe he finds himself at some point, maybe not? Career minor league guy is a possibility until he throws hisa arm out? I did not like the trade with Houston and still do not! Give Gattis a full season in OF and let's see what we got? His bat should be a lot stronger not having the rigors of C, he will be more healthy for sure!

Bogey
Bogey

@TomGaff @stripesofzebra  First of all, it's spring training....second of all, he's a lousy LF and hurt too much.  And I always keep forgetting which trophy they award for spring training greatness....


Remember ST of 2013, BJ Upton looked great, while JUp was horrible.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@Bogey @TomGaff @stripesofzebra Yes, I realize it is spring training! But Gattis is hitting at the .400 range against some ML pitching and some guys that will be sent down or released! The 3 Astros are not doing well against ML or prospect hitting and pitching players. I was only saying that  both are being compared against spring training type players. If those 3 Astros guys can not do it in spring training, I think they would have no chance against ML players once season is under way. You say Gattis is a bad OF guy, it has to be proven to me during a long season? He really is not much different than J Upton on D, in my opinion! We lost a BIG TIME bat without getting any thing in return! Follow this season stats and perhaps at the end, one of us may eat some crow? Probably not me!

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@TomGaff @PalmBeachFalcon  OK, you say you'd take the wager.  When Folty takes the mound at Turner this year, I expect you to show up, admit you're wrong and that you're just upset that your mancrush got traded.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@PalmBeachFalcon @TomGaff Perhaps you should return to table tennis, since you seem to know very little about professional baseball! Only way that kid takes the mound is in Sept(when everyone is called up), 3 or 4 injuries occur or we are behind in a game by about 6 or 7 runs! He has to learn how to pitch and that is not done in the Bigs!

TomGaff
TomGaff

@PalmBeachFalcon @TomGaff No mancrush here, just common sense, which Braves management is lacking of! I'll be pulling for Astros(Gattis) and Twins(Jordan Schafer) who Braves let go for absolutely nothing! Bunch of Dumb As-es as far as I'm concerned!!