Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

24 Jan

Justin Upton

Okay, I guess I’d better eat some crow. I didn’t think we’d get Upton, at least not during the offseason, because we didn’t have the prospects to match the rejected Mariners trade. And, of course, we didn’t have the prospects to match it. But boy, am I happy to be wrong.

The Braves acquired a player they’ve been sweet on for a while, and cemented their outfield for the next three years. First they drafted Jason Heyward. Then they got a power-hitting center fielder, B.J. Upton. Then they got Justin Upton, who pretty much was Jason Heyward two years before Jason Heyward was, except that Justin Upton was taken first overall in the draft and Jason was taken 14th.

But when they were in the minors, they were basically the same player: raw at age 18, an unholy destroyer at age 19, and in the majors for good by age 20. Jason was better as a 20-year old, Justin was better as a 21-year old, and Jason’s poor, injury-riddled 2011 season is a good match for Justin’s poor, injury-riddled 2010 and 2012 seasons.

2006 18 A 113 501 12 66 15 7 52 96 .263 .343 .413 .757
2007 19 AA-A+ 103 456 18 70 19 11 56 79 .319 .410 .551 .961
2007 19 Majors 43 152 2 11 2 11 37 .221 .283 .364 .647
2008 20 Majors 108 417 15 42 1 4 54 121 .250 .353 .463 .816
2009 21 Majors 138 588 26 86 20 5 55 137 .300 .366 .532 .899
2007 17 Rk 12 48 1 6 1 1 3 9 .302 .354 .488 .843
2008 18 A-A+ 127 533 11 56 15 3 51 78 .316 .381 .473 .854
2009 19 A+-AA-AAA 99 422 17 63 10 1 51 51 .323 .408 .555 .963
2010 20 Majors 142 623 18 72 11 6 91 128 .277 .393 .456 .849
2011 21 Majors 128 456 14 42 9 2 51 93 .227 .319 .389 .708

They’re both powerful hitters who control the strike zone, play good defense, and run the bases well. Especially now that Heyward appears to have sacrificed some of his 2010 plate discipline for his 2012 power, they are two of the more similar players in major league baseball. And they will man the outfield corners in Atlanta until 2015.

Justin Upton and Jason Heyward have the same strengths. They also have the same weaknesses: they’re a little injury-prone, and you’d like to see them walk a bit more. And while they’ve both demonstrated that they’re on the cusp of greatness — Upton in 2009 and 2011, Heyward in 2010 and 2012 — they haven’t quite pulled it all together for an MVP-contending campaign.

Atlanta seems like an excellent place for both of them to do it. They’re both Southerners and they both have family nearby: Heyward’s from McDonough, where his parents and brother still live; Upton’s from Virginia, and his closest family will be in the same dugout. Atlanta will provide an oasis for both Uptons, who were dogged by disappointment in both of their original cities when they didn’t immediately become superstars.

Atlanta is a lot of things, but it is not a harsh media market. Both Uptons will be given ample chances to succeed — especially since it will be almost impossible for them to disappoint as badly as Dan Uggla or Derek Lowe.

One thing that needs to be mentioned: the home/road splits. In addition to his up-and-down career, Upton has a .937 career OPS in Phoenix and a .731 career OPS on the road. But this actually isn’t as big a deal as it seems. First: Arizona is one hell of a hitters’ park, so hitters there are going to have more of a skew than other guys. As Keith Law writes: “Talented players in extreme parks often produce extreme splits where neither half measures their true talent, with Matt Holliday a solid recent example.”

Moreover, as Dave Cameron writes, “Pretty much any west coast hitter is going to be at a disadvantage in road stats compared to an east coast hitter, due to the unbalanced schedule and the summer climate of the two sides of the U.S.”

Upton is leaving a really good hitters’ park, but there are two important things that he’s leaving behind. First, as Law points out, “Upton had a thumb issue all year, and some timing issues at the plate, and if those go away, he’ll pick up more than enough offense in 2013 to cover any possible (superficial) loss from leaving a good hitter’s park.”

Second, he finally won’t have to worry about being traded. For the first time in years, he can relax and feel certain that he’s going to stay in one place. An ESPN story in September made it clear that the trade worries never really went away, even after the trade deadline passed:

You know, I got tired of the questions… All the time, people coming up to me and asking if I thought I was going to be traded. I got tired of going to the clubhouse and not being able to play Angry Birds because I had to answer questions. Sometimes I want to play solitaire and be left alone… I’m definitely relieved, though. There isn’t going to be any more talk about me being traded this year.

The Braves have a happy outfield. And a powerful one. All three of them are genuinely excited.

I’m excited, too.

197 Responses to “Justin Upton”

  1. 1
    Grst Says:

    Everything about this team is exciting. The outfield certainly so now with so much young talent. But the lineup is exciting as well. The young pitching staff is exciting. The bullpen with the best closer in baseball is exciting.

    Spring training can’t get here fast enough.

  2. 2
    ktbass Says:

    @1 I agree, very exciting times in Braves country

  3. 3
    Seat Painter Says:


    Here’s hoping to see duelling .300/35/120 seasons from our outfield corners.

  4. 4
    Smitty Says:

    When do tickets go on sale?

  5. 5
    Johnny Says:

    Alex, count me as one of those that didn’t think we had a prayer of getting jupton. Making Prado the center piece was as stroke of genius.

    Wren rules. As much as I’ll miss Martin Prado, this is the correct move for all the reasons outlined in other posts.

    I can’t understand the DBacks. I get it that jupton was a disappointment there. But the overt public way they went about expressing it certainly hurt their bargaining position. They essentially HAD to trade the guy.

  6. 6
    justhank Says:

    OK, so what do we do with Gattis?

    A bunch of starts at catcher in Gwinnett?

    A bunch of starts at 3B in Gwinnett?

  7. 7
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Gattis try 3B. What’s the worst that could happen? Joey Terds?

  8. 8
    NickH Says:

    Now if we could only leverage the good vibes resulting from the Upton signings to convince JHey to sign a long term deal… that would be amazing.

  9. 9
    Dan Says:

    Meanwhile, the Mets would be lucky to get Kate Upton for their outfield.

  10. 10
    Smitty Says:

    Gattis needs to be getting a lot of ABs in AAA, no matter what possition

  11. 11
    Jonathan Says:

    Put Gattis at C, 3b, 1b & OF (in that order) in AAA. I include 1b, not because I am down on Freddie, but more as injury insurance, and he has been playing a lot of OF already (meaning he would have less to need to do to contribute there, and it does not look like he is likely to play OF in ATL, at all, anytime soon).

    I still would love to see him get a chance to contribute (and, of course, take advantage of that chance)…

  12. 12
    Adam R Says:

    Gattis who?

    JUSTIN UPTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. 13
    Smitty Says:

    Third base is pretty hard, but I have always thought it was a reaction possition. You have to have quick hands and feet and have confidence.

    I would imagine that shifting from catcher/OF to 3B would be pretty hard. A lot harder than moving from second or short.

    I think we should move Uggla there and look for a second baseman

  14. 14
    Nick Says:

    Dan Uggla at third base? Really? I’m not sure how that wouldn’t be a disaster defensively. Why not just look for another third baseman if we’re still looking?

  15. 15
    RobBroad4th Says:

    Great write-up as always, Alex. I’m sad to lose a gritty player like Prado but it’s a smart business decision and it makes our line-up unbelievably deep.

    I just bought a ticket for a Braves-Cardinals spring training game in Jupiter, FL behind home plate. I’m beyond stoked.

  16. 16
    Smitty Says:

    I think Uggla would do better at third. Jose Altuve may be able to play some third. He woudl be a nice pick up.

  17. 17
    RobBroad4th Says:

    Have a lot of catchers made the transition to third base? There are plenty of examples of catchers moving to first.

  18. 18
    DougM66 Says:

    What does this do for the Braves’ outfield defense compared to last season? Turner Field has a big outfield to cover.

  19. 19
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Uggla doesn’t have the arm to make the throw across the diamond.

  20. 20
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    And the Braves already have two ML ready 3B options: Johnson and Francisco. Defensively weak, but mashers at the plate.

  21. 21
    Stu Says:

    Russell Martin, a little. Todd Zeile. Uh…I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

  22. 22
    RobBroad4th Says:

    How long until Chip Caray describes a female Upton fan as “an Upton girl living in an Upton world?”

  23. 23
    Stu Says:

    A friend has dubbed the new 3B platoon, “Juan-son and Johnson.”


    I’d prefer to jettison Johnson, teach Gattis third, and roll with a Bear-Runner platoon, but that’s just me.

  24. 24
    RobBroad4th Says:

    @21, Forgot about Martin, good call.

    @19, He doesn’t even have the arm to throw from second. Freeman bailed him out all season.

  25. 25
    jdpeace Says:

    So what’s everyones guess on lineup. Simmons leading off?

  26. 26
    beege Says:

    There was a piece at Fangraphs a while ago showing how similar Heyward and Upton both were to a young Darryl Strawberry. I would link to it if I wasn’t too lazy to learn how. Two Darryl Strawberries without the cocaine? Hell yeah!

  27. 27
    Stu Says:


  28. 28
    Stu Says:

    Two Darryl Strawberries without the cocaine

    New ATL marketing slogan, IMO.

  29. 29
    Bethany Says:

    Some crazy folks out in Arizona.

  30. 30
    John R. Says:

    #22: I hope he doesn’t because then I’ll be forced to kill him.

  31. 31
    John Gaines Says:

    Didn’t Pablo Sandoval start out as a Catcher?

    If so, it would be safe to assume that players with Bear related nicknames are probably suited for such a transition.

  32. 32
    JonathanF Says:

    Joe Torre went from catcher to third (and first). He ended up playing 903 games at catcher, 515 at third and 787 at first.

  33. 33
    sansho1 Says:

    Johnny Bench. Deacon White.

  34. 34
    Nick Says:


    That’s pretty hilarious. I’m pretty sure a team entirely consisting of “grit” guys with no “supreme talent” guys in the mix would suck. I guess we’re about to find out with Arizona. Also, as the article you linked to pointed out, it’s pretty amusing that Gibson wants people who scramble their brains against outfield walls three times a year like he did when his career was far less than it could have been because he was always injured because he was busy scrambling his brains against outfield walls three times a year.

  35. 35
    PaulV Says:

    I think Brian McCann collided with too many things

  36. 36
    Stu Says:

    You know…

    If we could miraculously unload a decent amount of Uggla’s salary, McCann could become a possibility again…

  37. 37
    Marspr Says:

    B. J. Surhoff

  38. 38
    mravery Says:

    So, anyone else super excited for the season now? :-D

  39. 39
    justhank Says:

    I like the Gattis to 1B idea as a right-handed backup to Freddie.

  40. 40
    PaulV Says:


  41. 41
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    One of the most prominent recent catcher-to-third base conversions was Brandon Inge. Another was Tyler Houston, whom (lest we forget) the Braves drafted ahead of Frank Thomas.

  42. 42
    The Flying Bernard Says:

    It’s somewhat fitting to have another former #1 overall draft pick come on board immediately after 18 years of Chipper.

  43. 43
    Adam M Says:

    I’m pretty sure Gattis isn’t going to play 3B.

  44. 44
    Hotspur Says:

    @41 — Ouch. Didn’t need to bring that up.

  45. 45
    Adam M Says:

    By the way, over the past three years, no 3B has scored a worse UZR than Chris Johnson except for Mark Reynolds (is he still a 3B? I can’t remember). I already expect him to be the Whipping Boy.

  46. 46
    spike Says:

    If Johnson can stick another .286/.321/.503 on the board, I don’t care what his UZR is.

  47. 47
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Nope, Reynolds is mostly a 1B now.

    As to the whipping boy, don’t sleep on Gerald Laird.

  48. 48
    Grst Says:


  49. 49
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Somehow, Frank Thomas lasted to the 7th pick of the 1989 draft. The first six picks were Ben McDonald, Tyler Houston, Roger Salkeld, Jeff Jackson, Donald Harris, and Paul Coleman.

    Now I’m going through that draft. It turns out that Jeff Bagwell was picked in the fourth round, after 109 players had already been picked, and he was the most valuable player in the draft, by UZR. Jim Thome was picked in the 13th round, the 333rd player selected overall. Brian Giles was taken in the 17th round, 437th overall. Jeff Kent was in the 20th, 523rd overall.

    Boy, there sure were a lot of guys who exceeded expectations.

  50. 50
    Adam R Says:

    That is amazing.

  51. 51
    fm Says:

    For what it’s worth, Justin’s career numbers at Turner Field include a .293 batting average and .871 OPS over 67 plate appearances.

  52. 52
    Rob Cope Says:

    What a great day. I’m really glad to have Upton, but it is sad to see Prado go.

    With that said, letting Prado go let us keep Teheran. If the Braves are convinced enough about Teheran to let Prado be traded to keep him in the organization, then I have some pretty high expectations for him. Getting Johnson is interested, and tells me that they’re not done dealing. Johnson is not the ideal player for what the Braves need right now (seems Francisco and him are similar enough players), so perhaps Wren wants a third baseman in hand if necessary, but he’ll try to deal him before the season starts.

    All in all, we dealt a bunch of parts we didn’t need for one big part we really did need. Great day.

  53. 53
    Mailman Says:

    DOB says the Braves have $10 million to spend. Chipper has a $9 million option.
    3rd base would be solved! Chipper just needs to play 1 more year!

  54. 54
    csg Says:

    I think we have enough cash for Chase Headley. Im starting my next dream. Dont know how that lineup would look, but it would be stacked

  55. 55
    c. shorter Says:

    41 — Inge was originally a SS. I think that they moved him to C in the minors, IIRC.

  56. 56
    ryan c Says:

    Bonifacio would be nice.

  57. 57
    Bethany Says:

    @54 It wouldn’t even be fair.

  58. 58
    W.C.G. Says:

    Why would the Padres trade Headley this year? They’ve got him under team control for 3 more years and they have one of those sweet new TV deals that give them a bazillion more dollars per year to spend. Headley’s one of their few assets worth actually spending that on.

    But, I mean, if they want to… Teheran + Venters + Johnson + lottery ticket? Does that get it done if they put him on the block? I’d even be willing to entertain the possibility of not being in the Stupid Wild-Card Game if we pulled something like that off.

    I’ve successfully processed my Prado grief and I’m really happy about today’s trade now. Liked this:

  59. 59
    drew Says:

    Best proposal I’ve seen so far is for the stands in the left-center power alley to be christened “Upton Abbey”

  60. 60
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    The time to trade for Headley was a year before his incredible offensive explosion, not a year after. From 2007-2011, Headley played 529 games in the majors and had 2114 plate appearances, and the formerly ballyhooed prospect was hitting .269/.343/.392 and smelling a lot like a disappointment.

    Then he hit 31 homers last year and wiped out all of that. Now is not the time to get a Chase Headley bargain.

  61. 61
    sansho1 Says:


    You’d have to be a complete idiot to not be on board with that.

  62. 62
    W.C.G. Says:

    @60, good point. Also, upon further review he just has 2 years of team control remaining, not 3. Not worth a Teheran trade.

  63. 63
    Stu Says:

    I think the time to trade for Chase Headley might just be when he’s come into his own and you’re looking at a Francisco/Johnson platoon.

  64. 64
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    If you say so, man. I’m not sure what it would take to get him, but I’m guessing that the price for a third baseman who can hit 30 home runs in Petco would be astronomical, and I’m not convinced he’s worth it, considering it’s a two-year rental of a guy who looked sort of eh until a year ago. I think he’s bound for a slight step back.

    Obviously, a Francisco/Johnson platoon would be awful, and I guess Gattis probably can’t play third base, but why not trade for someone who will probably cost less? Like, say, Pedro Alvarez, or Alberto Callaspo?

  65. 65
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Anyway, the question is ultimately whether he’s “come into his own” or is a good player who had a career year when he was 28. Not saying you’re wrong. I could be wrong, like on this very thread. But I’m just hesitant, because he’ll be really expensive.

  66. 66
    sansho1 Says:

    There’s no way Chase Headley would be on the block for anything other than something that would hurt us immediately in some other area. I don’t see the point in even thinking about it.

  67. 67
    Stu Says:

    (I’m not really thinking about it.)

  68. 68
    Trace Says:

    OT but there were some truly touching moments during the Katie Couric-Manti Te’o interview.,31020/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=standard-post:headline:default

  69. 69
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Hah. It’s so weird to me that the voice on those Kekua voicemails belonged to a man.

  70. 70
    ryan c Says:

    Jurrjens signs with the Os.

  71. 71
    ryan c Says:

    There’s still money left for Chipper!

  72. 72
    kc Says:

    In Wren I trust. Has the guy proved enough that we can finally trust him? I honestly trust Frank more than I ever did with JS.

  73. 73
    csg Says:

    Oh my, have you seen the 2014 3b FA group? Prado would be very smart to test the FA market. Its awful

  74. 74
    spike Says:

    Johnson may not be Chipper, but in 2.5 ml seasons of regular play, he’s put up an OPS+ or 104, and 108 for last year. I think you’d be ok with that – it’s a far cry from “awful” in any event. I know WAR hates him, and his D ain’t all that, but if that’s the weak spot in the lineup, things are looking pretty good.

  75. 75
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Chris Johnson has exactly one major league-useful skill as an infielder. He strikes out too much, he can’t get on base, he can’t field, and he can’t run the bases, but he has some power. In other words, he’s a one-dimensional slugger with a career slugging percentage of .430.

    I’m not making fun of you. Chris Johnson is a legitimate major leaguer, and if he and Francisco can just stand upright, Andrelton Simmons can probably bail them out on defense, so that all they really have to do is combine for 20 homers and 2 WAR at the bottom of the lineup. That’s within reach.

    On the other hand… Johnson’s career BABIP is .347, which means that if he regresses at all as an offensive player, he will basically turn into Yuniesky Betancourt and be a contender for the worst player in baseball. Fortunately, he has never been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, so there will be no difficulty in the Braves cutting him loose as soon as he begins to suck. But he will not, and should not, be given much rope.

  76. 76
    PaulV Says:

    Johnson could help as PH. How weak were we there last year?

  77. 77
    mravery Says:

    A .350 BABIP is not a red flag or a sign of likely regression in a hitter. It’s just not. 3B is a hard position to fill. This is why Arizona was willing to make that deal. I for one think Johnson/Francisco will be perfectly serviceable as a platoon. They’ll hit 7th or 8th depending on what Andrelton’s doing and whether Gerald Laird is in the lineup. It’s fine.

    I’m still excited we got to keep Teheran. This rotation could be something special. And that bullpen…. Wow. Bring it on, Nats.

  78. 78
    kc Says:

    Our bullpen is special until Kimbrel and Venters start hitting arbitration. We better have a special team in this three-year window.

  79. 79
    kc Says:

    The lineup is out…officially from our own Fredi…

  80. 80
    Grst Says:

    @79 Why in God’s name would he have McCann 4th and Freeman 6th or 7th?

    Fredi gonna Fredi.

  81. 81
    sansho1 Says:

    A .350 BABIP is not a red flag or a sign of likely regression in a hitter. It’s just not.

    I would call it the very definition of a red flag, I think. Johnson has the 11th highest BABIP in the NL from 2009-2012 (min. 1000 PAs). For someone not known as a speedster, or else as one of the best pure hitters in the league, that number seems far more likely to go down than up.

  82. 82
    sansho1 Says:

    Correction, he’s 11th in NL BABIP among active players (min. 1000 PAs). Here’s the list:

    1. David Freese, .359 (1234 NL PAs)
    2. Joey Votto, .359 (3064)
    3. Miguel Cabrera, .354 (3072)
    4. Dexter Fowler, .353 (2143)
    5. Reed Johnson, .353 (1329)
    6. Carlos Gonzalez, .352 (2074)
    7. Matt Kemp, .352 (3607)
    8. Bobby Abreu, .349 (6349)
    9. Matt Holliday, .348 (5117)
    10. Jon Jay, .348 (1328)
    11. Chris Johnson, .347 (1318)
    12. Matt Diaz, .344 (1902)
    13. Michael Bourn, .343 (3366)
    14. Fred Lewis, .341 (1283)
    15. David Wright, .341 (5453)
    16. Ryan Braun, .340 (3854)

    If I could divide this list into three types, they would be (1) Line Drive Machines (Votto, Cabrera, Gonzalez, Kemp, Abreu, Holliday, Wright, Braun), (2) Speedsters (Fowler, Bourn), and (3) Guys With Fewer PAs Who Might Have A Particular BABIP Talent, Or Else Regression Hasn’t Snagged Them Yet (Freese, R. Johnson, C. Johnson, Jay, Lewis). And then there’s (4) Professional Outliers (Diaz).

  83. 83
    Adam M Says:

    Where can we find expected BABIP based on batted ball profiles?

  84. 84
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Here’s an xBABIP spreadsheet from a couple of months ago:

    For what it’s worth, Johnson’s xBABIP is .325, 22 points lower than his career mark and 29 points lower than his 2012 BABIP of .354.

  85. 85
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @82, Lewis might fall into the speedster list, too. Reed Johnson has only spent half his career in the NL, of course; his career BABIP in the AL was .326. It seems very likely that his BABIP improved once he became a part-time player. Diaz is very likely a similar story.

  86. 86
    Adam M Says:

    Jon Jay is fast too.

    I do hope Freddie Freeman keeps the patience he showed in the second half while lifting his BABIP up to its expected levels.

  87. 87
    Hap Says:

    Everyone seems to be forgetting…. Francisco is in the best shape of his career!

  88. 88
    Smitty Says:


    That is the story I am wating on. The “We felt like Juan could do it every day. He lost most of his weight by dvining for ground balls. He may win a gold glove and hit 65 home runs” story.

  89. 89
    CoronitaKing Says:

    After further reflection and reading Jonah Keri’s take, I’m now on board with everyone else

  90. 90
    ktbass Says:

    I was searching the Google to see if Chris Johnson had a nickname and noticed that at one time Chris Johnson (the football player) was one half of the nickname “Smash and Dash”. Sounds like a decent name for the Juan-Chris platoon at 3B. Chris being Smash and Juan being Dash (obviously).

    Also, what is a Ramiro Peña? I noticed he was listed as the backup 2B on the yahoo depth chart. I guess I missed that signing…

  91. 91
    Bethany Says:

    @69 No way those are legit. He faked those to cover his tracks once the story broke. The “revelation” that there wasn’t a woman involved has only come out because there WAS no woman because all of this was a hoax, and they don’t want to drag an innocent person into this by saying “this is the girl who pretended to be his girlfriend.” The ND people have done a great job remolding this story to make him look like a victim, but I’m sorry, I don’t buy it for a second.

  92. 92
    Dix Says:

    I love a good ND shaming as much as the next guy, after all, it is the school that purposely killed a student so they could get a few more seconds of practice video, but I don’t see this Teo stuff as definitively a hoax and ND cover up. I see it as potentially awesome but trending toward sad.

  93. 93
    Smitty Says:

    I think Te’o is using this as a cover. I have wondered if perhaps he is gay, not that there is anything wrong with that. But it could have hurt his draft stock, as the industry he is in may not be the most open for that lifestyle.

    Just a though. I could be wrong (like I was about catchers converting to third base) and I hope no one take offense to that or the Seinfeld reference.

  94. 94
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    if you ask me, I think it’s likely that Te’o is an incredibly naive kid who got taken. And when confronted with the reality, bailed on the truth to spare himself the embarrassment. Whatever, non story (but really…who pulls this kind of stunt in the first place? and why?)

    And I will sign the ‘chipper come back’ petition though it ain’t gonna happen either.

  95. 95
    justhank Says:

    Chipper’s probably so loaded up on testosterone enhancers to keep up with the new girlfriend that he couldn’t pass a drug test anyway.

    Grst makes a great point @80. The pressure is suddenly on Fredi to make this work. With guys like Olney saying the Braves have “the best lineup in the National League”, there’s no more excuses.

    Earl Weaver would love this club. Btw, in SI’s obit of Weaver it was noted that he hated making outs on the bases so much that he didn’t even have a hit-and-run sign.

    Through all the celebration, there’s this nagging voice in my head that says the Giants have won two of the last three with maybe one (two max) All-Star level player (and Gregor Blanco as a starting outfielder).

    We’ll see.

  96. 96
    Stu Says:

    That nagging voice should tell you that the playoffs are a crapshoot.

  97. 97
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @88 – That is the story I am wating on. The “We felt like Juan could do it every day. He lost most of his weight by dvining for ground balls. He may win a gold glove and hit 65 home runs” story

    You snark, but let me suggest that this player as a 22-25 year old:

    258/303/440, OPS+ 97

    Is not terribly dissimilar to this player as a 22-25 year old:

    268/316/458, OPS+ 97

    Both players were notably bad defenders.

    The first is, of course, Juan Francisco. The second set of numbers are the 22-25 year old seasons of Aramis Ramirez.

  98. 98
    mravery Says:

    I am always offended by Seinfeld references.

  99. 99
    justhank Says:

    Yeah, I know, but could the dice please fall our way for a change? (Whine)

  100. 100
    spike Says:

    @97, I really hope Francisco breaks through like Ramirez – but the 80 point OBP difference at AAA (.411 – .337) makes me a little less than sanguine.

  101. 101
    Smitty Says:

    Aramis Ramirez is a great defender

  102. 102
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I don’t think Roadrunner is a lock by any means. Ramirez was in the bigs as a 20 year old and was a full time player those years, where Francisco was platooning. But there’s some similarity there. Juan Francisco is a valuable thing to have on a roster.

  103. 103
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Aramis Ramirez became a good defender. As a 25 year old he was shit.

  104. 104
    John R. Says:

    #94: I’m coming around to your position on the matter, too.

    #103: My memory of Ramirez is vague, but wasn’t he pretty athletic when he arrived to the majors? As opposed to resembling something like a toad?

  105. 105
    Nick Says:


    Is that really that bad of a lineup outline? I would switch Freeman and McCann, like you’re saying, but it’s not exactly a slam dunk, and McCann’s been hitting cleanup for awhile. It’s debatable, but it’s not stupid. I would also plant McCann at 6th and Uggla at 7th, at least initially, rather than switching that back and forth, but again, not exactly idiotic.

    Also, I don’t know what to think of Te’o at this point, but there’s too many inconsistencies in this story for me to fully buy it. I was pretty convinced of the theory that he’s gay for awhile, but now I’m less so, because if he is, by far his best play from a media standpoint would’ve been to come out and admit that. He would’ve been a hero in some circles, and at least sympathetic to the vast majority of the public. It more or less would’ve been the only mostly clean way out of this ridiculous situation. I don’t doubt it might have dropped his draft stock slightly, because NFL teams are frequently complete idiots when it comes to the draft and things that have nothing to do with football like that, but what he’s doing now is gonna drop his stock just as much, I would say. And there’s still no good reason for him to completly make this story up for nothing but publicity. He was getting plenty of publicity, anyway. So I’m pretty much as confused now as I was a week ago when this story first came out.

  106. 106
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @104 – my recollection of Ramirez’s debut was that he was always considered of questionable shape and “work ethic” – which is why Pittsburgh traded him to Chicago in his age-25 season. (That, and money.)

  107. 107
    spike Says:

    The Te’o business will not go away (for him anyway) until what the point behind it all was is made clear.

  108. 108
    Bethany Says:

    It’s not real new or important news, by my goodness, it’s odd stuff, regardless of how you want to interpret it.

  109. 109
    John R. Says:

    FWIW, there might be cultural issues at play that none of us who didn’t grow up Samoan would be alert to:

  110. 110
    spike Says:

    Interesting article, and I am certainly willing to buy into the idea that there are cultural issues here – but I still don’t understand what the motivation of the perpetrators is.

  111. 111
    Stu Says:

    After reading the Stark piece and thinking some more about it, it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of clubhouse dynamic the Braves have, going forward. Chipper, Prado, Moylan, Ross, Hinske, even Diaz — all reputed “clubhouse guys” who are suddenly gone. McCann and Hudson are very possibly in their last season with the Braves.

    I know Struggla’s well-liked and has the Veteran Presents, but, well, Struggla. Think Heyward and Freeman have it in them? Are they ready at age 23? Can BJ Upton become The Guy in his first year? Can a pitcher (Medlen?) be The Guy? I have no idea.

  112. 112
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    @108, @109 that is a very thought provoking article and only the idea of feeding their quest for promotion would make me turn away from an interview from the perpetrators to get their side of the story. Think of how much time they wasted on this shammockery. why?

    @111 there must be some genetic issue that causes me as a braves fan to immediately look for the dark lining to any silver cloud. Please do not feed that. thanks.

  113. 113
    John R. Says:

    #110: Agreed about motive. All that is still spectacularly unclear, both in the story about T’eo and the article I linked to.

    My hypothesis: It could be that in Samoan culture there’s a very eccentric strain of this particular kind of grifting that goes on. Samoa is a collection of islands where small groups of people are separated by large distances of water. I don’t know if they have arranged marriages there or not, but in the (formerly) low-tech world of the South Pacific, I can see shenanigans being played on gullible people, either simple pranks or outright fraud to rip people off.

    The Atlantic piece didn’t do too good of a job for providing context for why Samoans would be susceptible to this kind of thing, but that’s my guess.

  114. 114
    Stu Says:

    To clarify, I don’t think this trade did much of anything to create this problem. Unlike the one exec in the Stark article, I don’t really think Prado was going to be The Guy this year, anyway. Even if he were, he’d have been just like Huddy and McCann, on his way out after 2013.

    But that chatter got me thinking about the entire roster’s turnover, and it’s a little unsettling that all the guys who seem to be leaving now or in a year are the leaders. Some (most?) of that is just the nature of aging and free agency — the older players are leaders and are more likely to leave — but it still seems like quite a lot of turnover to absorb all or mostly at once.

  115. 115
    gaz Says:

    @111 If the team wins then everything takes care of itself. Worrying about the clubhouse dynamic in baseball is pretty useless.

  116. 116
    justhank Says:

    I think we’re going to really miss David Ross.

  117. 117
    Smitty Says:

    I don’t see why McCann, Hudson and Uggla wouldn’t be the leaders. TP will still be around too.

    The Braves don’t bring guys in they feel will be a problem in the clubhouse.

    It is a lot of turnover, but I trust the front office on this one.

  118. 118
    spike Says:

    @117, the Angels are subtly (and not so subtly) implying Upton was not a 110% effort guy, hence the trade. Who’s got it wrong here?

  119. 119
    Stu Says:

    115—I don’t think I said or implied anything about worry. (Maybe you meant to type 112?) I just think it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens with the new wave.

  120. 120
    Sam Hutcheson Says:


    I think what you’re seeing is a refactoring of “team leadership” away from the Chipper Jones guard towards the Jason Heyward guard. On the pitching side of things, I suspect Hudson will be the leader, and that McCann will be part of that group more or less. I also suspect Brandon Beachy will pick up that role as the rotation/pitchers leader more than Kris Medlen ever will.

    On the every day player side of things, I honestly think you’ll see BJ Upton pick up the leadership mantle, as a league vet and the natural “big brother” to his actual little brother and obliquely, Heyward.

    It’s probably incorrect to think of clubhouse leadership as a singular thing.

  121. 121
    Stu Says:

    Yeah, that’s basically what I think, apart from the Medlen thing. And I didn’t mean to imply that it was singular (see: Heyward and Freeman, listing several possible examples), despite my use of “The Guy.”

  122. 122
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    The Diamondbacks, you mean? From the coverage I’ve read, it sounds like Upton just wasn’t a rah-rah guy, and those Diamondbacks wanted old-school blah blah crash into the wall guys. I definitely recommend that ESPN story:

    Both BJ and Justin were very precocious and had some growing pains, considering that they made the majors as teenagers. I think that they both tend towards introspectiveness. And they seem to make some stupid errors. I think that they care a great deal. They’re just not necessarily vocal.

  123. 123
    Hap Says:

    @103 so what you’re saying is we have a chance with Francisco? ;-)

  124. 124
    desert Says:

    I don’t think Manti is gay. After 4 years at BYU and quite a few extremely close Samoan friends, I gotten to see that a lot of LDS Samoans are extremely trusting, nice, and outgoing people. I think that the truth is that he was just a really trusting and outgoing (if somewhat naive) guy that got taken for a ride. I mean, he was 20 when a lot of this happened.

    I think that Notre Dame is trying to prevent him from looking even more like an idiot, and still attempting to falsify his story. If you want to read more on how Notre Dame seems to treat it’s football program, take a look at the story of Lizzy Seeberg:

    The guy who (allegedly?) sexually assaulted her played in this year’s National Championship game, and the head priest (or whatever he’s called) refused to talk to the Seeberg family after the events, even though something like 9 members of Seeberg’s family had attended Notre Dame and she herself was Catholic.

  125. 125
    Nick Says:


    That’s the impression I got from the Rosenthal thing yesterday, and nothing I’ve seen today has caused me to change my mind on that. It’s not even that he didn’t give effort or that he was disliked in the clubhouse, it’s more or less that he wouldn’t run head-first into a cement wall at Kirk Gibson’s instruction without asking Gibson why he should be doing something so pointless and stupid.

  126. 126
    c. shorter Says:

    When I’m optimistic, I find myself subscribing to the theory that both Bupton and Jupton had a chance to break in and figure things out with their organizations. Now, with the Braves, they’ll put it all together.

    I’ve been thinking about the roster/leadership turnover recently too (even before the trade). There may be as many trust falls as wind sprints this spring.

  127. 127
    justhank Says:

    The piece Alex linked @122 is fascinating and right on the money for those of us wondering how in the hell any team would want to trade a player with his talent.

    The most fascinating part (to me, anyway) was the quote from Kevin Towers wherein he says “there are guys who have a fear of failure and guys who have a fear of success. I think Justin’s fear is of success.”

    Well worth the read.

  128. 128
    spike Says:

    I find the Angels’ usage of the term “grinder” changing from a patient type of hitter who will make a pitcher work and have discipline not to swing at bad pitches to a scrappy aggressive dirty uni guy to be both Orwellian and hilarious.

  129. 129
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I think that quote is insightful in light of the Diamondbacks’ desire to get rid of him, but I think it gives more insight into the mind of Kevin Towers than the mind of Justin Upton.

  130. 130
    spike Says:

    edit – Diamondacks. 20 bucks for an edit utton!

  131. 131
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Melinda Henneberger’s work on Lizzy Seeberg is pretty definitive. And the university’s role has been despicable.

  132. 132
    spike Says:

    and a B key

  133. 133
    Michael Says:

    @125 – I would be highly interested in watching a RoadRunner trust fall.

  134. 134
    Smitty Says:


    Well, what is he going to do when Fredi asks him to bunt?

  135. 135
    PaulV Says:

    Fredi is a players coach. Being on a team with other good young players like JH, FF, AS and BM there will be less pressure to carry team. Less pressure on Uggla will help.

  136. 136
    justhank Says:

    @129 – I think you’re probably right, Alex.

    Also get the feeling that playing with BJ will be good for both of them and will likely contribute to BJ’s emergence as a team leader.

    This also may be where TP earns his money.

  137. 137
    PaulV Says:

    Losing 20+ pounds will help the Road Runner. Hard to swing when gut gets in the way. Or bend over.

  138. 138
    PaulV Says:

    JUPTON can amuse team by telling Gibson stories

  139. 139
    Nick Says:

    I think that being on a team that’s not the one who drafted you No. 1 overall will help, too. B.J., of the largest contract in club history, is actually under more pressure than Justin is. Justin just got traded away from the team that was telling him for years he was gonna be the next big thing to a team that made the playoffs last year and has his brother on it, and he’s two years removed from his contract year with a perfectly reasonable contract that isn’t going to cause any undue pressure, either.

  140. 140
    RobBroad4th Says:

    Yeah Alex, is there any way we can get an edit button back?

  141. 141
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    No, unfortunately. The edit button is now part of a WordPress plugin suite that costs literally hundreds of dollars per year.

  142. 142
    Grst Says:

    @105 My phrasing probably exaggerated my feelings on the matter. It struck me as odd, however, especially when we have no idea what we’re getting with McCann or when he’ll even be healthy. But maybe this is just the manager showing faith in a veteran who has earned the spot, all the while knowing he can change it during ST based on performance.

  143. 143
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The only problem I have with the SI lineup is the assumption that Andrelton Simmons will get on base enough to hit leadoff.

  144. 144
    Bethany Says:


    “Tom Seeberg said that a number of friends have reported that even at his daughter’s funeral, and ever since, “they had been approached by friends and family members of a long-serving [Notre Dame] trustee” with stories writing Lizzy off as “a troubled girl” who had “done this before” and who had concocted a tale the university was simply too decent to publicly refute.”

    Oh my god.

  145. 145
    sansho1 Says:


    I agree. Also, I have no idea whether the “pressure” of hitting leadoff means anything to Andrelton, but I harken back to 2009 when Schafer was installed on Opening Day as our starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, and it just seemed right away like an awfully central role for such a young, unproven player to fill. I’d hate to see any early hitting struggles take on a life of their own, to the point where switching Andrelton to the eight hole would come off as a demotion. He should start there.

  146. 146
    c. shorter Says:

    I was discussing the trade with a friend yesterday and commented that I hope Fredi doesn’t hit Simmons leadoff. I don’t want Simmons to feel like he has to be the “leadoff” hitter. I just want him to be comfortable and hit. I believe that the math says that the order doesn’t matter all that much (other than getting your best hitters at the top); I just don’t want him to press.

  147. 147
    Nick Says:


    Well, your choices are pretty much that or hitting B.J. leadoff, which presents problems of its own. Also, at least Simmons has played for a couple months or whatever it was. They’ll have spring training to figure it out. I’m not too concerned. Leadoff hitters are somewhat overrated, anyway.

  148. 148
    JonathanF Says:

    Why don’t we just hit no one leadoff? We’ll call the guy who comes to the plate first “the guy who hits after the pitcher.” That ought to take the pressure off.

  149. 149
    spike Says:

    Simmons seems like he would be much more relaxed in the 10 hole.

  150. 150
    Adam R Says:

    If his play-in game performance gives any indication of what he’ll play like under pressure, I’d much prefer to start Simmons lower in the order.

  151. 151
    John R. Says:

    If we lead off with the pitcher, we take all the stress away from our real hitters about being “the lead off guy”. Plus bonus: Fredi can always have a real hitter in the nine-hole.

  152. 152
    c. shorter Says:

    10 hole sounds great.

  153. 153
    JonathanF Says:

    Even better: lead off with Tim Hudson every game (except the ones where he’s pitching — then use Medlen). Then replace him in the field with somebody else. Voila. No leadoff hitter.

  154. 154
    c. shorter Says:

    but, but, but… what if it goes 25 innings and you need another SP?

  155. 155
    c. shorter Says:

    or a fifth catcher?

  156. 156
    JonathanF Says:

    Oh… everyone will have forgotten by then.

  157. 157
    Grst Says:

    Medlen withdraws from World Baseball Classic

    I’m actually rather sad. Not only did I want to see him pitch in the classic, but any time spent with Maddux has to be good.

  158. 158
    Nick Says:


    I know you’re joking, but if I were a manager and I were getting complaints from the players, fans or media about who was batting leadoff, I would probably do that in some random road game (particularly one with the DH in effect)to make a point that the whole thing was stupid. That’s a pretty brilliant idea.

  159. 159
    sansho1 Says:


    I agree that the concept of leadoff hitter is overrated — but if undue pressure can be derived from the perceived importance of the role, and there’s not much run-scoring difference anyway, why do it?

  160. 160
    PaulV Says:

    Which every day player has no conscious? Road Runner?

  161. 161
    justhank Says:

    I still like (spike’s?) idea of Uggla at leadoff.

    Absent a true leadoff guy, reshaping Dan’s hitting mindset would be worth it.

  162. 162
    JonathanF Says:

    The other thing that you can actually do is that stupid LaRussa thing where the pitcher hits eighth and the speedy leadoff guy hits ninth. But since it’s a stupid LaRussa thing, I cannot in good conscience recommend it.

    Does anyone remember LaRussa when he played for the Braves? Admittedly, it was only 4 at bats in August of 1971 (plus a full game played on September 30). Why couldn’t he just have retired for good then and taken up some useful activity?

  163. 163
    c. shorter Says:

    159 — That’s the way that I feel too, sansho.

  164. 164
    jjschiller Says:

    @153 – Didn’t Earl Weaver do something like that with DH’s? Put a bench player in the starting lineup and then pinch hit for him his first AB, depending on what situation that AB came up in?

    I think they had to make a rule against it.

  165. 165
    Grst Says:

    @164 Yes, the DH must now bat at least once (unless the opposing pitcher is changed first).

  166. 166
    sansho1 Says:


    This might be a different thing, but Weaver would sometimes lead off away games with a bench player listed as the starting shortstop, then replace him with Mark Belanger in the field in the bottom of the first. Belanger hated him for it, according to Bill James.

  167. 167
    Rusty S. Says:

    @164,165 Yeah, I think his other thing was to list a pitcher, maybe yesterday’s starter, as the DH.

    Then, if they knocked out the starting pitcher before the DH came up, and that reliever was differently handed, he could send up his right handed or his left handed DH without having to burn a real hitter.

  168. 168
    jjschiller Says:

    @165, 166, 167 – I absolutely love that. What a red-ass.

  169. 169
    jjschiller Says:

    And just BTW, is someone working a writeup of Chris Johnson?

  170. 170
    spike Says:

    @82, upon checking fangraphs, he’s been a 24% LD hitter – better than any of the Line Drive hitter list above, and goes a long way towards reconciling that BaBIP. It may well be unsustainable,but it’s there.

  171. 171
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Here’s what I’d do:

    J. Upton
    J. Heyward
    M. Upton
    F. Freeman
    D. Uggla
    B. McCann
    J. Francisco/C. Johnson
    A. Simmons

    I have no care for traditional lineup construction. Get the gut players at bats.

  172. 172
    jjschiller Says:

    @122 – Reading that ESPN article, I’m left with two thoughts:

    1) Jesus, that sounds like Heyward with the hand injury/struggles. That bodes well for Upton coming back strong.

    2.) Jesus, that sounds like Fredi with the implications that he must not “want it enough,” or something… How close did we come to initiating the same string of mistakes?

  173. 173
    beege Says:

    I’m fine with Fredi’s line-up. For the simple reason that I can and will refer to our 3-4-5 hitters as Jupton McBupton.

  174. 174
    AA Says:

    If BJ wants to walk 80 times again then he should hit leadoff. Otherwise, why not Heyward? I’d rather have him coming up 600 times than Uggla. Knock Uggla down a few pegs unless he’s hitting like he did in Miami.

  175. 175
    JoeCraigMcMurtry Says:

    Arizona sounds like a clown show. Except I suspect they are right about the long toss stuff that came up after the Bauer trade. The long toss gurus mainly talk obvious nonsense (although the Braves seem to buy it).

  176. 176
    RobBroad4th Says:

    @173, I was having a really bad day and “Jupton McBupton” made me laugh really hard. So thanks.

  177. 177
    Dan Says:

    Glad Wren acquired B.J. and Johnson.

  178. 178
    jjschiller Says:

    Just realized, reading that bbref page, that Johnson is from my neck of the woods. Graduated the year I did and played for a high school in my district. I probably watched him and had no idea until now.

  179. 179
    Tomas Says:

    175 — I think it might have been more about him doing it so intensely as a warm-up when he is pitching than long-tossing in general.

  180. 180
    beege Says:

    Not a prob, Rob! Hope your tomorrow is better. Funny thing is, that moniker was bouncing around my head since folks around here first started saying Bupton and Jupton, without a thought of McCann. So props to Fredi to actualizing the weird shit that goes on in my mind.

  181. 181
    JonathanF Says:

    @178: Even more importantly, Johnson’s father (who played in 22 games) is exactly two days older than me. So I now think of Johnson as my son. So I will not hear anything negative anymore about my son’s fielding. I taught him as best I could.

  182. 182
    JonathanF Says:

    And in other news, IWOTM is sniffing around Bourn, but making sure to whine loudly to ensure that, contrary to the rules, they don’t have to give the Braves a first-round draft pick.
    At the moment, MLB is telling them to pound sand.

  183. 183
    Adam M Says:

    As I understand it, the Braves get a supplemental pick either way – they would not be getting the Mets pick. I don’t think this affects them.

  184. 184
    justhank Says:

    Bill James has Prado listed as the 5th best left-fielder in the game.

    Said he “hits behind the runner better than anyone in the game”. Always appreciated that about Marteen.

  185. 185
    Remy Says:


    James also ranked Heyward as the best right-fielder.

  186. 186
    PaulV Says:

    @ 183 Mets would lose their #11 pick and Braves get supplemental pick

  187. 187
    JonathanF Says:

    Ah. But if the Mets lose their pick, that supplemental pick will be one higher. Plus… I really don’t care if the Braves profit… only that the Mets lose, and whine while doing it.

  188. 188
    Mark Grogan Says:

    Prado may be the 5th best left-fielder the game. He’s playing third for the D-backs.

  189. 189
    PaulV Says:

    Why would Bourne sign with bottom dweller? Did he enjoy losing in Houston?

  190. 190
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    If the Mets couldn’t pay Dickey $25 million, they can’t pay Bourn, unless they can get him on a ridiculously cheap deal. But, hell, Rafael Soriano got $28 million. How would Bourn sign for less?

  191. 191
    JonathanF Says:

    They’re apparently looking at a significantly back-loaded deal, waiting for the new TV contract to kick in. The prolem with this is that it neatly reverses the well-thought out front-loaded deal for Wright. I agree it’s a longshot, but Boras is running out of desperate takers. Seattle maybe?

  192. 192
    PaulV Says:

    Seattle needs hitting

  193. 193
    Parish Says:

    I suppose Philly is out of it?

    I mean, they have Delmon Young.

  194. 194
    JoeyT Says:

    I kind of assumed he’d land in Texas or Seattle.

  195. 195
    JoeyT Says:

    Thinking about it a little bit, the Cubs would be a good fit, too.

  196. 196
    Nevin Says:

    @174: To me, Bossman Junior is the right candidate for leadoff. He’s historically got a walk rate north of 11%, but last year played at a career low 7.1%. With his normal walk rate, contact rate and a league average BABIP, BJ Upton would have an OBP in the low .330’s. Simmons, on the other hand, had 6.6% BB rate in the majors, higher than the sub-6 rate he posted through most of the minors. He would seem to have a higher contact rate than Upton, but also a much higher likelihood of slipping there as the league figures him out. Plus Upton is faster and has more experience, both leading off and as a baserunner and thief. If Upton returns to his normal walk rate and either upticks his contact rate, his BABIP (which he’s overperformed with before) or both, then we’re looking at a .380+ OBP guy with speed and power. I’d bat him leadoff.


    re: 3rd base: I’m expecting a straight platoon. Francisco’s done a lot of work this off season and I expect the Braves to give him the chance to be at least the big half of a platoon there. Similar avgs vs. RHP as Johnson, less BABIP driven, more power. Johnson’s not great against LHP either, weaker than v RH, but Francisco is unplayable against lefties.

    re: Evan Gattis: Start him in Mississippi for a few weeks, then Gwinnett and see what they have. LF and C, little DH. And figure out if he could play some catcher downtown next year with McCann likely moving on. If he can’t but still hits, trade him to an AL team with a DH need and a 3B available (Mike Olt?) to plug that hole longer term.

    And while I’m here: Rome could have a kinda nasty rotation this year.

  197. 197
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    New thread.

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