Could Marquis be Another Schmidt?

As the trading talks heat up, the Braves appear to be in the same position they have been in before, looking to deal some youth for a more proven commodity at their most favored position, starting pitcher. BravesCenter asks the question, could the Braves be dealing a future All-Star, and is it worth it?

Two occurrences in the last week or so have got this writer's mind going.

One was the performance in the All-Star game of Jason Schmidt, well known former Braves farmhand and sometimes major leaguer, who looks as if, at age 29, he has finally put together his wonderful talent, leading a ton of NL pitching categories while earning that All-Star start.

The other is the performance in a Richmond/Scranton-WilkesBarre game of Jason Marquis, who at 24 still looks like he has some learning to do, despite his obvious talent.

The two instances, combined with the usual incessant July trade rumors, have stirred comparisons of one to the other. Their circumstances are similar, in that the Braves seem to have no room for Marquis, as they didn't have for Schmidt in 1996.

Schmidt pitched almost two seasons, off and on, for the Braves in 1995 and 1996, during which he threw for almost 100 innings. Those innings showed a young man with a great arm, but a problem with his control (67 K's, 50 walks), and a high ERA (6.45 for the Braves).

Marquis has done better during his three season run with Atlanta, having thrown for almost 300 innings in a Braves uniform, but is also a great arm with some control issues (208 K's, 132 walks).

Coming up through the system, both Schmidt and Marquis were well thought of by scouts, both finishing in the Top 100 in numerous preseason scouting rags.

Schmidt was dealt as August closed in the 1996 season, with the Braves needing a veteran, dependable arm down the stretch. The deal was made with the Pirates, with former 1B prospect Ron Wright joining Schmidt in a deal for LHP Denny Neagle.

Marquis may likely be dealt in a similar manner, with the Braves needing a more experience and dependable arm to take over for Shane Reynolds, who despite the occasional solid start, no doubt has been the source of these concerns.

The irony is the names that have been mentioned publicly as being interests of the Braves, names such as Sidney Ponson and Kris Benson, would be considered kin to that of Schmidt.

When Andruw Jones saw Schmidt last year he said that, when he (Schmidt) was in Atlanta (in 1996), he had the great fastball, but his off-speed stuff had really improved and that he had developed a changeup.

Back then, Schmidt was said to have "John Smoltz-like" stuff, and the resemblance went beyond common initials. Schmidt had the fastball, sinker/splitter and the bulldog demeanor, but was said to be "too wimpy to be in the Braves rotation."

It sounds like some of the complaints heard this season about Marquis. And that, combined with the rumored desire to bring in another starter, as in 1996, could have Marquis packing his bags.

Richmond Braves Pitching Coach Guy Hansen has been working with Marquis and Jason believes it has helped.

"Better control, better angle on my pitches, and less stress on my arm," said Marquis told the Macon Telegraph, listing the results of a slight alteration in his delivery. "Now, I'm using all four of my pitches at any time in any count. The change in my mechanics and getting on top of the ball allows me to do that."

But it may be too late for Marquis in Atlanta, as his value to another team could net the Braves the pitcher they feel can help them this year.

Denny Neagle is long gone from Atlanta, and now the Braves need a pitcher like the one the traded for Neagle.

Will it be the same six years from now if the Braves deal Marquis?


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