After Grilli, is it time for Arodys Vizcaino as Braves closer?

Arodys_Vizcaino

Will this long-heralded hurler seize the moment? (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Given that the Atlanta Braves were apparently open to trading Jason Grilli before he tore his Achilles, there seems no way they’ll make a major or even a minor move to replace him. They might try Jim Johnson as closer: He has done it before, though not very well lately. But my guess — and it’s just a guess — is that we’re finally get to see what the fuss about Arodys Vizacaino has been all about.

If it seems Vizcaino has been around forever, it’s because he kind of has. The Braves acquired him from the Yankees on Dec. 22, 2009, in the much-discussed salary dump of Javier Vazquez, who’d finished fourth in the 2009 National League Cy Young voting. The Braves also landed Melky Cabrera in the deal —  he lasted a forgettable season and was gone — and also Mike Dunn, who in November 2010 was sent to the Marlins, along with Omar Infante, for Dan Uggla.

To their credit, the Braves sold high: Vazquez failed as a Yankee and hasn’t worked in the majors since 2011. The hidden gem in that transaction was supposed to be Vizcaino, who was 19 and rated the second-best pitcher in the Yankees’ farm system. Soon Vizcaino would become one of the Braves’ four best pitching prospects, alongside Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado.

Vizcaino hurt his arm in March 2012 and required — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — Tommy John surgery. On July 30, the Braves traded him (even as he was rehabbing) to the Cubs in the Paul Maholm/Reed Johnson deadline deal. He had another procedure in 2013 to remove bone chips from his elbow and didn’t work a professional inning for two seasons.

Vizcaino returned to the majors — he’d had a minor role in the Braves’ Epic Collapse of September 2011 — with the Cubs last September, working five games. In November he returned to the Braves in the Tommy La Stella trade. He wasn’t effective in spring training and was optioned to Gwinnett. Then he was suspended 80 games after testing positive for PEDs.

Upon reinstatement, Vizcaino made eight minor-league appearances: In nine innings, he yielded 10 hits and compiled an ERA of 5.00; he also struck out 14. He was summoned to the majors last week and has made four appearances. He hasn’t been touched for a run.

It’s not as if there are a slew of closer candidates post-Grilli. Johnson is 32 and is working for his fourth team since 2012. The rookie Mike Foltynewicz was recalled from Gwinnett with the idea of giving him relief work. There’s a chance his future could be as a closer, but the Braves haven’t been grooming him that way. All his Class AAA appearances this season were starts.

That leaves Vizcaino, who has been seen as a reliever for years. (His last start at any level came in 2011 for the Mississippi Braves.) This losing streak has dropped the Braves four games below .500 and six games behind the Nationals, so the notion of an improbable pennant race has again cooled. This would seem a prime moment for experimentation, and such opportunities can wind up crowning new closers. And Arodys Vizcaino, for all his travels, is only 24.

Reader Comments 1

83 comments
SeanLB
SeanLB

While I haven't been nearly as high on Teheran as most fans have been (then again, our fans are high on EVERY prospect), you don't trade him.  Here's why - 


It's all about performance vs. pay.  Julio signed a VERY team friendly deal, so honestly, he only needs to pitch like a MLB #5 starter and he's playing to his pay grade.  Anything above that (which he should be able to do, such as pitching like a #3) means that he is UNDERPAID and OVERPERFORMING.


Trade who you like, but Julio, despite not being a #1 or 2, is a commodity that we should hang onto for the duration of his contract.  

satan
satan

@SeanLB


Tehran is a mental head case...no other explanation for the home/away splits. He is either too immature or not smart enough. That being said, that seems like a fixable problem. Get him a "mentor" or figure out the root of the problem and help him work through it. He is one of the few pitchers that physically is fine.

 Alex Wood will never be a top of the rotation starter, but he is servicable. Sell high now when teams think he still has potential..instead of when he is 31 and 9-12 with a 4.50 ERA for his 5th team..

JeffCriswell
JeffCriswell

Wood, Miller, Perez, Wisler, Banuelos are formidable. Throw in Max Fried. Folty won't crack this rotation. Try him as a closer. 

The Braves have plenty of bullets to continue to shoot.


Teheran and Wood should be at the top of the list for a contender looking for starters.


You'll never be able to get more for them, you have replacements who need the tires kicked on them and they are as good as they ever will be.


We do not need 4 number 4 or 5 starters. We need 4 number 1 or 2 starters and both of them will never be that.


Teheran began to go down the drain the moment he got his money and there is no doubt that the Braves could pick up some special players for both or either.


As far as who closes? That is funny, the way they are going it is not going to matter is it. 

AtlantaSportsVictory
AtlantaSportsVictory

Give Foltynewicz a shot at closer. He's got the stuff to dominate an inning. 

Bogey
Bogey

@AtlantaSportsVictory  My concern is that when things didn't go his way, he showed real frustration and his lost his focus temporarily.  And he's not THAT young, so you wonder if he's got the mental strength for the closer role...

ElvisFreshly
ElvisFreshly

Would love to see the Braves make a statement that play like in Colorado won't be accepted. Fire Fredi G now so the players step it up and the fans know this organization still means business. Just do it!

Decaturian
Decaturian

We held on to Grilli for to long, should have traded him last week, we need more minor league arms.  

Decaturian
Decaturian

@SaveAmericaFromItself it's sarcasm......we also don't need anymore minor league pitchers since we already have the greatest collection of minor league pitchers ever assembled, in fact the braves may field a team in 2017 with nothing but phenom pitchers from top to bottom nullifying the need to play offense.

Bogey
Bogey

@Decaturian @SaveAmericaFromItself  Won't be surprised to see our opening day '17 starting 5 pitchers comprised of nothing but guys who WEREN'T on the roster at the end of '14. Yup, that means Teheran and Wood gone - you wanna get an impact LF bat, this is how you do it.

Bogey
Bogey

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Bogey @Decaturian  Minor will be selling insurance for State Farm somewhere.


Folty is likely destined for the pen - if he can get some control he has closer stuff, but based on his demeanor I don't think he has the mentality.  Shae Simmons looks like the guy there if he returns strong.

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Bogey @Decaturian .......agree, trade Teheran now before he becomes a Major Disappointment like Minor has become.It looks like Teheran is taking the same road that Hanson and Jurrjens turned down and the same one Minor has taken too.

reckingball
reckingball

I hope that Gonzalez and his staff will get the young hitters re-focused on hitting the ball to all fields, being patient at the plate, trying to bat for the situation, and get them to stop trying to pull a HR every AB.

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@reckingball @SaveAmericaFromItself .........Gonzalez is starting to mess with Peterson like he did with Tommy LaStella last year.LaStella was led to the "Dump by Gonzalez last year and hopefully Peterson will jump off that wagon before the wrecking ball starts swinging!

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

You guys should get over the Fredi hate. He is going to be here next year and I bet he opens the new stadium. This team has frankly over achieved based on the talent and he has kept them focused. People are quick to point out his perceived mistakes, but when his decisions work no one things anything of it. My impression is that Hart and Gonzales get along fine and frankly see eye to eye on building a solid foundation for the future.

RickinWarnerRobins
RickinWarnerRobins

@ChessMaster What few games this team has won has been in spite of Fredi...it's certainly not because of his management skills.  He's a clown...does not have a clue when it comes to good game or pitching management.  It's way past time this pretender of a manager be let go.

woodstock30189
woodstock30189

" a prime moment for experimentation,"

If that is the case, and I am not saying it isn't, do you really want Fredi to be the "scientist"? I think we've seen enough of that experiment. I don't think that the Braves issues are all his fault, but he definitely has a part in it. I can't believe that he is the long term answer at manager, so if you are building toward the future, why do it with someone who won't be a part of it?

Bogey
Bogey

@SaveAmericaFromItself @woodstock30189  With Hart in charge, I think the last measurable clout Bobby displayed was keeping Fredi for '15.  The team was going to lose anyway, and what TOP manager would come in here knowing '15 was a rebuilding year. 


Plan on seeing Fredi being let go at season's end.  Good guy, but his incredibly poor interview skills paint him as a buffoon.  Don't know how talented he really is as a manager, but I do know he has taken tons more chances than Bobby would've ever taken with much less talent.

Bogey
Bogey

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Bogey @woodstock30189  I keep thinking we'll hear Bud Black's name come up.  But I like your idea of a young coach from a winning organization.  Just don't know his name yet, and that won't be good enough for lots of the ignorant fans who blog here.

Shally1920
Shally1920

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Jmonty
Jmonty

Do is really matter?  I saw the writing on the wall 2 years ago.  Issue is we are still paying for Uggla and the Uptons.  It will be 2 more years before the Braves have enough money not to rely on the AAA talent pool.  If I wanted to see AA or AAA talent, I'd pay money to see Rome or Gwinnett.  Why pay a big league price to see little league talent?  Unless you are there to see the other team play.  

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Jmonty ................the Braves are paying for BJ..............believe me....the cost was high!.............Losing Kimbrel is a high cost although not dollar wise or is it??(lost fans and lost wins cost money when it is all said and done)!

BravesFanForever
BravesFanForever

@Jmonty According to Baseball Reference, next year's total salaries will only be around $60 million. That is if they let a few guys go like Bronson Arroyo (obviously), Johnny Gomes (doesn't serve much of a role except as cheerleader), and releasing and/or trading Mike Minor (obviously getting his arm back first). The Uptons are off the books and Uggla will be off the books after this season. So next year they will have a lot of money to spend. If you bet on the team getting ready for the stadium opening in 2017 you can bet they WILL SPEND MONEY. I bet they may even exceed their usual payroll midseason if they are playing well to get the players needed to go all the way. What better opening in 2017 by being a World Series contender. And come on... Let's get a better manager...

DrTruth
DrTruth

Thank you again John Hart for saving us a small fortune in Braves tickets this season!  


Let's see....42-47 & riding a 5-game losing streak into the All-Star break & no closer since the 39-yr old's body fell apart.  Yep, that's just about right.....


Anyone applauding this mess (and there are obviously a few of you) needs a check-up from the neck up.

Bogey
Bogey

@DrTruth  So you would prefer what we saw last year??  Record-level KO's with few HR's, and keeping underachieving/soon to be gone overpriced players with nothing coming back in return?


Hart IS doing the right thing - by the way the reason it took over 2 weeks for Hart to accept the job last fall had nothing to do with Hart and whether he wanted to get back into the game.  The delay was caused by waiting for Schuerholz to finally realize that his grand scheme he'd utilized for about a dozen unsuccessful years was a failure.  Shopping at the bargain aisle, using duct tape and baling wire, and plugging leaks was putting this club on a slow and steady decline into mediocrity.  Look at the end of '14:  a flat, listless, boring collapse; the second worst minor league system in BB; 2, count 'em, 2 MLB starting pitchers in the ENTIRE organization (Teheran and Wood).


This "mess" as you call it is a short-term price we're paying to get this team back in contention and, dare we say it....an actual WS caliber team!!  Can't wait to read your insightful comments in a couple years when they're good again.



BravesFanForever
BravesFanForever

@Bogey @DrTruth Nahhh they will be good next year. They have the light payroll and the up and coming players to do it. They will be great in 2017.

BravesFanForever
BravesFanForever

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Bogey @DrTruth Exactly. Clearly these are bandwagon fans who don't see the bigger picture. I think Hart has done a remarkable job. The latest was the highway robbery of Touki Toussaint. What other general manager do you know of who would have pulled that off? ;-)


Mutley
Mutley

The ATL. curse once again bites down hard. Time to hang it up and see what next season brings.

Bob_the_Blogger
Bob_the_Blogger

These young players won't get major league experience playing in Gwinnett.  The only way to get ready for 2017 is to play them now.  We fans just have to take the lumps along with them.

Bogey
Bogey

@Bob_the_Blogger  Yeah, based on the blog entries over the past few months, I see tons of patient and understanding fans. 

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Haaahaa...as the Boobtrain heads downhill with no brakes, expect much "experimentation". Mostly of the lowcost variety as the express bus from Gwinnett will be working overtime. Funny you should mention that salary dump....there will be a big one in a couple of weeks as cheapskate Liberty realizes theyve bilked every dime they can from the poor sap fans and pulls the plug to pump up their Christmas bonuses.

Glory Between The Hedges
Glory Between The Hedges

Nobody cares at this point. Just bring on football season. The Braves can always hide behind that.

joedavis
joedavis

I find it interesting that Markakis gets none of the blame this year.  Yes, he's hitting around .295, and has a few walks.  But he is a low-impact player who is killing the top half of the order.  377 plate appearances, Zero home runs and only 28 RBI?  Damn.  Corner outfielders are supposed to provide some power and a few RBIs.  He does neither.  He hits like a 150 pound shortstop.


At Coors this weekend, 3 for 13, all singles.  The announcers speculated he might finally get a HR in either Milwaukee or Colorado.  Didn't come close.  He's a ground ball hitter, and about 3 out of 10 squirt through the infield.  Braves paid $44 million for 4 years of damaged goods.  From 2007-09, he hit 61 HR, and had 300 RBI.


You can blame it on the neck injury all you want.  He's played 86 games this year, and hasn't gained an ounce of strength.  Now he's just getting older.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@joedavis 

Yeah, Nick is the problem. The sorry bullpen is his fault,. You were probably happy with the tens of millions wasted on Lowe, McLouth, Kawakami, BJ, Uggs, etc.

Bogey
Bogey

@joedavis  Joe, you don't like .295+ and around .450 OBP?  Who else on this team is giving you that?


You're right in that he's given us 0 HR's.  Maybe the lack of power hitters on this roster forces Fredi to hit him at the 3 position.  Nick is a very solid veteran who probably should be hitting 6th or 7th, and I would predict by '17 that is where you'll see him.


One last thing:  the Braves are obviously (and smartly I would add) changing from a power/high KO team to one with high OBP and RISP.  Lots more fun to watch, and Nick fits the bill very well.


Just have to show some patience.

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  1. […] out of the bullpen.  24!!!! Mark Bradley has a good look at Arodys Vizcaino and posits that it may be his time to get a shot at closing. He’s on the grid behind Johnson for now and David Aardsma slots back in to the third spot. Mike […]