Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

01 Mar

WHY YOUR TEAM SUCKS – ATLANTA BRAVES (by MikeM)

Disclaimer to this post. Everything below is a blatant ripoff of Drew Magary’s fine work at Deadspin in his annual Why Your Team Sucks NFL preview. He invented this format that I am stealing, in which he insults the team as much as possible before conceding that they might be okay this year. He is a professional writer and very funny. I am neither.

Your Team:
Atlanta Braves

Your 2016 Record:
68-93. And that was an improvement from the previous year. They had the fifth-worst record in MLB, but the real story here is that they had a real shot at the worst record until the season’s final weeks and looked assured to have the 2nd worst record until the season’s final days. Turns out your team couldn’t even suck effectively, so they won some otherwise meaningless games to fall to the 5th pick in the draft. You may argue that baseball doesn’t have the ‘sure thing’ top picks like basketball or football (the ‘Merican kind, you ninny), but: you are wrong shut up.

As a successful fantasy baseball manager, I can tell you that higher draft picks are better. That’s just GM 101. Ask Dayton Moore, who, you may remember, has won 100% more titles than you in the last two decades. (Or is that infinitely more? I’m not great at math.)

Your Manager:
Brian Snitker.

The one talent Snitker has proven to have thus far is not being Fredi Gonzalez. Granted, that checks off item #1 on every team’s managerial interview process, but it still really only means a person can be trusted alone in a room with a spoon and gallon of paint.

For years the sabermetrically inclined internet folks (NEEEEERRRRDDDDSSSS!!!!!) had preached to us that managers and their in-game decisions really don’t have much effect on game outcomes or team records. Then Fredi slapped that theory upside the head with a 2×4. Go back and watch his befuddled stupor during the 2012 Wild Card Game. Remember in horror all the pointless bunts or failures to properly strategize a double-switch.

And remember the second-biggest story of the 2016 postseason? The way the top managers bucked 100 years of stupid tradition and quit being idiots about bringing their Proven Closers in before the 9th. In one month, Terry Francona and Joe Madden rode with their best arms in the highest leverage at-bats. Somewhere, Fredi was watching the television with that baffled look on his face, the one he got every time he refused to argue a blown call, holding his iPhone upside down while asking Siri if the rules actually allowed you to bring in their closer that early.

Your Offense:
Good googly moogly, look at that outfield. If you could somehow combine their best parts — Matt Kemp‘s remaining power with Nick Markakis‘ contact skills and Inciarte’s defense — you’d have Marcell Ozuna! And you’d only need two more outfielders who didn’t suck.

Speaking of Kemp, how has he silenced any of his critics at all? Why are there people who still believe in him? Is it the dingers? Were you in line for the Turner Field Waffle House during every defensive inning the Braves played in 2016?  Look: don’t buy into that baloney about him showing up to camp in much better shape. Shedding the extra lard won’t bring his bat speed back or teach him how to catch a fly ball more than five feet away from him, no matter how sharp he looks in his uniform.

Markakis is so boring and useless I can’t even fill a paragraph

The optimism about this season’s outfield corners rivals the hilarity of spring 2005, when they trotted out Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi.

It might not have been so bad if the washed-up list stopped there, but the Braves decided to go Full Bowden and acquire Brandon Phillips. I would be more excited to watch 2/3 of Wilson Phillips play 2nd base all summer. Hold On was the jam, y’all!

Your Pitching:
The second-greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world the Braves excel at developing pitching. Since the start of the millennium, pitchers developed in the Braves’ farm system have given them a grand total of ten seasons with a WAR of 3.0 or better. Two of them belong to Kimbrel. So that’s basically eight whole seasons of second starter material in 17 years, and one of them was by Tom Glavine, the pride of the 1984 draft class. In that same time period, Adam Wainwright and Jason Schmidt combined for 12 such seasons. CC Sabathia had ten of them all by himself. The myth of the Braves’ superior pitching development is built on Maddux (a free agent acquisition), Smoltz (who spent 16 whole innings in the Braves farm system), Glavine (who was drafted 33 years ago), Leo Mazzone’s reputation, and Bill Shanks’ screeching homerism.

Better get used to it, though, since the new brain trust is doubling down, spending most of their precious draft picks and tradable assets to acquire the single most risky and uncertain commodity in professional sports — pitching prospects. TÏNSTAAPP isn’t an end table from IKEA. It’s an adage that successful teams like the Cubs and Red Sox have taken to heart, choosing instead to build enduring success by stocking the farm with hitters and adding proven pitching when they need it through trade and free agency. Meanwhile, the Braves are picking up scratch-off lotto tickets like a gambler who thinks he’s got a system, and besides, man, he’s due. You’d think after the 9,834 (approximately) torn UCLs Braves’ pitchers have suffered they might think: hey, maybe we aren’t actually better than the other 29 clubs at this?

What’s New That Sucks:
The ballpark! Good Lord, that ballpark. They haven’t played a single game there yet and I already hate it more than Bryce Harper. Do I really need to itemize the problems there? Despite the widely-growing realization that taxpayer-funded stadiums are a rip-off, the powers that be still pulled this one off. Everything about the site, design and surrounding infrastructure of the ballpark complex looks like I gave my two-year-old a fifth of Elijah Craig and a Dell 486 with a bootleg copy of SimCity. Atlanta has reached full Atlanta at this point, combining a crappy shopping mall loosely disguised as a ballpark, the famous worst-in-America freeway traffic, a tortuous parking situation that would make Ramsey Bolton blush, and, of course, the utterly infuriating decision not to extend public transport to the stadium. But hey, other than that, it’s just a three-hour rush hour drive to see a game, and as long as you know you won’t be able to get home before midnight, why not enjoy your surroundings in beautiful Cobb County?

What Has Always Sucked:
I’m just going to bullet-point this one because Lord help me I just don’t have the strength.

  • Chip Caray
  • The TV deal
  • Liberty Media
  • Jeff Francoeur
  • Waffle House
  • That stinking TV deal
  • The tomahawk chop
  • The infield fly rule
  • Andruw, a slider low and away, rinse and repeat
  • Kyle Farnsworth
  • The call for a slider to Leyritz
  • Braves in Game 1 of a playoff series. Did you realize they are 0-7 in Game 1 of the playoffs since the 2002 NLDS? That is horrendous. But hey, it could have something to do with half of those games being started by Russ Ortiz, Derek Lowe, and Jaret Wright. I thought Atlanta success was built on pitching?
  • Kim Jong-Il
  • The playoff exploits of all other Atlanta sports teams, including Georgia football

What Might Not Suck:
The team blew chunks the last two years. And those came on the heels of almost a decade of the team kind of faking success — teams with obvious flaws occasionally making the playoffs only to be steamrolled by real contenders. What this means is that the fanbase has hit the bottom hard enough that the slow climb back up the Bane-hole might be entertaining. The rebuilding of the farm system is universally applauded. The first wave of new talent will be on display this year with Lt. Dans penciled in on opening day and his hopeful partner in crime up the middle expected to debut in Waffle House Park sometime in late summer.

Eventually one of these pitching prospects has to be worth a crap in the majors, which will be fun. At the very least the front office seems to have finally caught up with us more cynical fans in our weaning patience with the likes of Foltynewitzhsdjy, Aaron Blair and Matt Wisler. If those guys don’t start getting batters out soon, they could see themselves out the door. Then they probably get picked up off waivers by the Cardinals and turned into 200-game winners.

After two years of not paying for the MLB.tv package I am finally temped to renew my subscription just to watch at least three months of Dickey knuckleballs and Bartolo at-bats two days a week. That could be fun. Or those two show their age and end up on the DL by the Derby.

Hope delanda est.

Let’s Remember Some Braves:

Let’s hear it from Braves Fans:
In the comments.

104 Responses to “WHY YOUR TEAM SUCKS – ATLANTA BRAVES (by MikeM)”

  1. 1
    coop Says:

    Thank you, MikeM, for the well-written, funny and content-packed post. Why would you claim not to be a writer, funny and knowledgeable when you are obviously all three? Bravo Zulu.

  2. 2
    James Love Says:

    You paint a gloomy picture of this team/organization. You complain about drafting, the front office decisions, the new stadium, etc. Gee, maybe the Braves should refer all the difficult questions to you as you seem to have all the answers.

    What a piece of work you are. Hatchet men like you are a dime a dozen. Jerk!

  3. 3
    Rob Cope Says:

    Yep, this was a highlight of the offseason. Very well done.

    I like Folty, though. And I was looking to see if Folty had some stretches where he was either bad or brilliant, and he was consistently mediocre the entire season. Every month, every half, every 8-10 start stretch was essentially a 4.30 ERA with the same periphs. From start-to-start, however, he was very volatile, but he never really packaged the same type of outing into a particular period of time. He probably not suck after having a healthy offseason free of life-threatening illnesses.

    How about that Jorge Campillo? He threw some darts for about 20 minutes… and then never again.

  4. 4
    blazon Says:

    Mikey’s spikey
    but well intentioned
    the really bad things
    he hasn’t mentioned.

    to not repeat them
    we try to delete them
    in open forum
    and highly selective quorum.

  5. 5
    Dusty Says:

    I love reading Magary’s stuff, so this was a welcome sight. Excellent job Mike.

  6. 6
    Game, Blauser Says:

    Mike – great writing, and this coming from a guy who’s grown tired of Drew Magary’s shtick.

    @2 I have pretty high hopes for Folty as well. He’s athletic, he throws hard and his control is improving. I like his chances of taking a step forward to legit mid-rotation status (mid to high-3s ERA) next season.

  7. 7
    Stu Says:

    Mike – great writing, and this coming from a guy who’s grown tired of Drew Magary’s shtick.

    Same.

  8. 8
    Rob Cope Says:

    If you take out the period of time where Samardzija was a flame-throwing reliever (something Folty’s 96 MPH fastball and offspeed stuff could certainly handle), perhaps Folty’s career trajectory could be that of Shark’s:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/samarje01.shtml

    We’d be so lucky.

    It’s interesting to think that the Cubs were sellers at the deadline as recently as 2014. Hammel and Samardzija were both FAs at the end of that year, the Cubs sold, they won 73 games, and the next year they won 97 games, “over-performing” on their pythag by 7 games. We enjoy a funny game.

  9. 9
    Tanto Says:

    The 2014 Cubs will forever be the team I think of when someone tells me that a team with a stocked farm system and a bunch of interesting pieces is “at least two or three years away.” I’m not saying we’ll be toasting a World Series in 2019, but these kinds of teams can come on faster than you think.

    It’s also why I think even rebuilding teams should be willing to invest in high-priced free agent talent if it’s a good fit. You think the Cubs would have found a Jon Lester type pitcher just lying around if they decided that they were too far away from contention after 2014?

  10. 10
    spike Says:

    A target rich environment to be sure, but some real inspired one liners in there. Kudos.

  11. 11
    Ethan Says:

    Peterson actually looks passable at short so far tonight. Chase Headley hit one deep in the hole, and granted Headley is slow, but Peterson gunned it cleanly with some velocity to first.

  12. 12
    Ethan Says:

    It makes sense as he was originally a 2B, but Micah Johnson’s arm is embarrassingly bad in the OF.

    He was hurt by a little babip unluckiness, but Matt Wisler is still throwing straight low 90’s fastballs down the middle. The change up looks better, but his release point is a bit wider outside compared to his fastball to the extent I wouldn’t be shocked if hitters could tell.

  13. 13
    Rob Cope Says:

    Yeah, Inciarte has a better arm than Micah Johnson, and that’s saying something. He also just horribly misread a catchable fly ball here in the 6th.

    I’m not sure if I can chalk up Wisler’s performance at all to unlucky BABIP. While he did get up to 93, he was up in the zone the whole time and was lucky to not have done worse. There was a point where 7 straight pitches weren’t even on the same half of the plate as his target. Very unimpressive.

    It’s nice to see Newcomb in live action, but the control issues obviously have followed him to Tampa. I can see why he’s a top prospect, though. Towering, strong, plus fastball, plus curve ball, but geez, find the strike zone, dude. More concerning, however, is the fact that he didn’t cover first on a groundball, dropped the throw, and then nonchalantly chased the ball as another run scored. I’d imagine a lot of that is Spring Training, but also not very impressive.

  14. 14
    Ethan Says:

    I know it’s been written elsewhere, and I don’t know if he’s worth Simba, but goodness, Newcomb is easy to fall for. Sitting 92-94, gorgeous breaking ball, and I’ve never seen such easy velocity before. Out of the zone a lot, but not by a ton. Seemed he’d rather groove a fastball down the middle than walk a guy and the Yankees didn’t miss, but overall, I was encouraged by him tonight.

    Edit: You’re right Rob, mentally he seemed off/not ready, but from a capability standpoint, the guy checks every box.

  15. 15
    Ethan Says:

    With Wisler, the lead off single to Gardner was pretty weak contact, and it took him from the windup to the stretch immediately. He definitely earned what he got overall though.

  16. 16
    Rob Cope Says:

    Newcomb does look like a major league pitcher. He’s by far the best balance of proximity to the big leagues and projectable skillset.

    RE: Cubs

    They improved their win total by 24 in one season. It’s not like they added 24 WAR in players, which if it was six 4 WAR players, that’d be like adding 6 of the top 70 players in baseball while replacing 6 replacement level players. That’s the short-coming of WAR and why a well-constructed roster can be just as important as adding “stars”. As for the changes they did make, they removed Luis Valbueno, Dan Straily, Justin Ruggiano, and Arodys Vizcaino, and they added Tommy La Stella, Jon Lester, Dan Haren, Dexter Fowler, and David Ross. Most of the improvements were from existing players developing. Really… why not us?

  17. 17
    Ethan Says:

    Most of the veterans are already tapped out ceiling-wise, and I think we’re already expecting good-to-great from Dansby. The best breakout bet in my opinion is Folty, but past that, I don’t see a ton of upside until Albies is called up or a pitcher in the minors breaks through. I think they can be substantially better, but any of the old guys could fall off a cliff and there isn’t a lot of proven depth from a position player standpoint if someone gets hurt…i.e.: if Ender misses 6 weeks again w/a hamstring what do you do?

    https://mobile.twitter.com/mlbbowman/status/837079275941539840

    $20 says they’re angling to stash him on the DL

  18. 18
    Kevin Lee Says:

    AAR;

    Somewhere, Mac is smiling.

    Well done MikeM!

  19. 19
    Stu Says:

    Dan Szymborski says Ender is on the second-best contract in baseball (from the team perspective), one that offers 14.2 wins of surplus value:

    Inciarte isn’t likely to hit 20 home runs or anything, but he gets on base at a decent clip, hits his share of triples and, most importantly, plays legit Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field. ZiPS projects Inciarte to be worth 18 WAR over the next six seasons; paying $30.525 million for 18 WAR is a better deal than you get offered by fake Nigerian princes in your email.

    Somewhat-surprisingly (to me), he ranks Freeman’s contract 11th-best (6.7 surplus wins).

  20. 20
    csg Says:

    Where is Teheran on that list?

  21. 21
    timo Says:

    David Price has a Dr. Andrews visit scheduled.

  22. 22
    Stu Says:

    19—Looks like he was ineligible, since I believe he was in his last pre-arb year when he signed the deal:

    We’re doing one thing slightly different this year. This time around, we’re limiting the contracts to those signed when the player has some leverage, covering players who sign their deals while arbitration-eligible and those that extend into at least one free agent season. That way, we can see who scored the best contracts when they had a little more juice at the bargaining table.

    So, it’s not really a complete best-contracts ranking, I guess.

    EDIT: By my (quick and possibly wrong) math, he would need to be worth only 7.125 wins over the remaining four years of his deal to equal Cole Hamels’ surplus value projection, 25th on Szymborski’s list.

  23. 23
    csg Says:

    Ah, got it. I figured he would have to be in or around the top 20

  24. 24
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @20, oof.

    We’re not the Cubs, because none of our prospects is Kris Bryant — really, not even Swanson. Bryant was seen as a potential MVP; Swanson was seen as a potential all-star. And the Cubs had Russell, Schwarber, and Baez, all close to the majors and all projecting as likely above-average positional regulars. The Braves have a lot more breadth, but they’re not as top-heavy, UNLESS Swanson and Albies totally max out and we get the best double-play combination in baseball or something.

  25. 25
    csg Says:

    #20 – Not good. Pretty sure that’s why we are trying not to spend big $$ on FA pitching.

  26. 26
    Rob Cope Says:

    @23

    We don’t have that 8 WAR player in Bryant, but between Swanson/Albies/Pitching Prospects, we should be able to match the WAR that Bryant, Russell, Schwarber, and Baez put up to mirror their young talent. The key difference I see is that we don’t have the resources to invest $20M+ per in right field defense or $16.5M per on a 6-hole guy like Zobrist. They’ve got $73M per tied up in 3 SPs, a closer and setup man. We clearly don’t want to do that, but I don’t think we can even if we did.

  27. 27
    Stu Says:

    That Szymborski article got me to thinking — which resulted in my adding a new projected-surplus-value (2017 only) column to my spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1auJaHME_enCTHWnMHj7g-dJKCkR-OVmqFSgtUBbTP6E/edit#gid=0

    Uses the FanGraphs Depth Charts projected WAR for each player on the 40-man roster or 60-day DL and uses $8 million as the value of a win (as Symborski does). Total surplus calc is down at the bottom — the Braves, as of today, are projected to spend ~$133 million on a group that will be worth ~$196 million. No idea how that stacks up across MLB, but it seems pretty good.

    (Avert your eyes from the corner outfielders.)

  28. 28
    Edward Says:

    @25, Yeah, we invested our $20M+ per in left field defense.

  29. 29
    Rob Cope Says:

    @26

    Great googly moogly. $17.2M in negative value for Kemp (thanks Hector!). But WAR hates him, anyway. It’s hard for me to see how you can have a .800 OPS, lead NL OFs in HRs, and be so bad defensively you end up with a 0.7 WAR. Very volatile numbers, though, as his contract vs. WAR could create all new numbers if his slimmer waistline means he gets to one more ball every few days and legs out a double once a week.

    For his career, he has a .340 BABIP, and he finished with a near career low .297 last year, so he should be due for some better “luck” next year unless his second highest career HR total suggests a more “all or nothing” approach.

  30. 30
    Rob Cope Says:

    @27

    I’ll be very interested to see who produces more oWAR next year between J-Hey and Kemp. I won’t be quite as interested in their dWAR calculations, but to be fair, could there be two more misunderstood outfielders from those calculations?

  31. 31
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @28, he’s basically the new Dante Bichette!

  32. 32
    Game, Blauser Says:

    Kemp’s 2010 stat line is quite entertaining: 82 R / 28 HR / 89 RBI / 19 SB / .760 OPS (106 wRC+) combined with a godawful defensive rating = 0.0 fWAR.

    Over the last three season, Kemp has been docked between 2 – 2.5 WAR each year for his defensive ‘contributions’ going by Fangraphs’ measurements (B-Ref is likely similar). If he can return to being even just garden-variety bad defensively (a 1 WAR/season defensive penalty, say) then he would become a 2-3 WAR/season guy.

  33. 33
    Edward Says:

    @29, When it comes to being misunderstood, never count out Slim Schaefer.

    But in seriousness I don’t have much faith that either of them is going to be a very good hitter this year. One’s a head case, the other’s a setting star. Until either of them proves otherwise, anyway.

    I mostly thought you had a good pot-kettle-black comment about the Cubs spending wildly on outfielders.

  34. 34
    spike Says:

    Just for the record, in case you missed it David Ross is going to be on this season’s dancing with the stars.

  35. 35
    Jay Says:

    @33 last night my wife informed me that “the very old guy from the Cubs” would be on dancing with the stars this year.

  36. 36
    beege Says:

    @7
    I reckon Foltynewicz and Samardzija are already similarly valuable, as long as the game is Scrabble.

  37. 37
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Yep, but both of them are way behind Marc Rzepczynski.

  38. 38
    coop Says:

    This a wonderful thread. Thank you.

  39. 39
    beege Says:

    Actually Foltynewicz clocks in at 31, Samardzija at 29, and Rzepczynski at 40- BUT there is only one ‘Z’ tile in Scrabble so the one of his z’s would have to be in the form of a valueless blank tile, dropping his total to 30.

  40. 40
    Rob Cope Says:

    Of all the position players to worry about, I think Kemp is down towards the bottom. I’m significantly more concerned about Garcia, Swanson, and Markakis than I am Kemp. Plus, Suzuki hasn’t had a league average OPS in 2 years, and Flowers is coming off, by far, his career high. Kemp is only 32, “best shape of his life”, playing the second-least important position on the diamond, and seems to have “something to prove”.

    With that said, one would assume Heyward is going to bounce back to his career norms, and while he may not ever be worth his contract to anyone without a significant sabermetric lean, he still should be a very valuable player. As if the Cubs needed any more. As long as he’s been around, he’s finally approaching his age-27 season, and a Jason Heyward in his physical prime could be quite the force to be reckoned with. Hope he gets it going.

  41. 41
    Rob Cope Says:

    SSS Alert: Ronald Acuna has a 1.714 OPS in 7 ABs as a professional Spring Trainer. He’s 5-7 with a double.

    Jordan Schafer struck out the side against us today. So, ya know, we have that going for us. He could be a really exciting player if they let him play some OF when he’s not pitching, and I think that’d be a really cool nuance for the marketing of baseball. It’s like a TE lining up at OLB or a WR getting some work at safety.

  42. 42
    spike Says:

    @38, Highest scoring scrabble baseball name of all time would be a wonderful bit of trivia to know if you’re up for it.

  43. 43
    Tanto Says:

    I wonder why Braves prospect busts have been gravitating to the dual reliever/bench player role recently.

  44. 44
    Edward Says:

    Doug Mientkiewicz is 32.

  45. 45
    beege Says:

    I have no idea how to do a comprehensive analysis, but eliminating double z’s and hyphens I’d bet on Jim Czajkowski at 39. Props to Joe Zdeb for an extremely efficient 16.

  46. 46
    Stu Says:

    You have to account for triple-letter, etc. scores.

  47. 47
    beege Says:

    Maybe you could whip up a spreadsheet?

  48. 48
    Stu Says:

    Please don’t tempt me.

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

    Diane Firstman has done a LOT of Scrabble posts over at Value Over Replacement Grit: http://valueoverreplacementgrit.com/tag/scrabble/

  50. 50
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    Javier Vazquez is the highest player @ 53 (but includes 2 Z’s)
    Felix Mackiewicz wins the legal name score with 47
    note: Jim Czajkowski has 2 J’s

    and I can’t believe i did that

  51. 51
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    Oh, and Ed Ott and Al Tate tie for least with 6

  52. 52
    Dusty Says:

    MLB.com is counting down the top farm systems and all they have left to reveal is #1 & #2 between NYY and Atlanta, supposed to post sometime today with their updated top 30 for us.

  53. 53
    Stu Says:

    Virtually certain they’ll have the Yankees at the top.

    EDIT: Glad to be wrong!

  54. 54
    braves14 Says:

    Something called a “Sam Freeman” faced 7 batters and retired none of them.

  55. 55
    csg Says:

    D Pete out 8 weeks. Had surgery on his left hand.

  56. 56
    Rusty S. Says:

    @53 – Are we sure that wasn’t Freddie tuning up for the WBC?

  57. 57
    Ethan Says:

    @54 That sucks; I was excited to see how he built off last season.

  58. 58
    spike Says:

    Thanks for all the Scrabble posts everyone, most entertaining.

  59. 59
    beege Says:

    @48
    Thanks for the link! I can’t believe I’ve never come across the VORG blog. I like how the vastness of the internet shrinks the world, somehow.

    @49,50
    I was doing surnames only- the givens are fraught with nicknames and such (for instance, I reckon Ott and Tate are missing some -wards or -munds or -fords or -berts). But as long as we’re recognizing Javier Vazquez’s 53, Ezequiel Zarzuela’s 52 is worth a mention. His name sounds like a sentence a sentient bee might say! Also, though his Scrabble score was middling, I was happy to learn that there was ever such an outstandingly named person as Squiz Pillion.

  60. 60
    ryan c Says:

    David Hale is listed as an extra in one of the games today so apparently he’s back with the Braves on a Minors deal.

  61. 61
    Rob Cope Says:

    Grabbed a couple pictures with Ender and Demeritte in Clearwater today. A selfie with Ender makes for a good day.

    https://twitter.com/robcopenhaver/status/838095596569432064

    https://twitter.com/robcopenhaver/status/838096229246586880

  62. 62
    Bert Says:

    Heyward 0 for 15 this spring. Might need to refine his swing a little more.

  63. 63
    Td Says:

    I still know spring training stats are meaningless, but it is weird that most of our starters and relievers that will make the team are looking decent and pitch in the early innings. Our non prospects are getting shelled. We seem to be doing better early and playing dead when we hit against non prospects.

  64. 64
    Seat Painter Says:

    I wonder how much of that is related to the WBC starting on Monday.

  65. 65
    timo Says:

    @60 great selfies, Rob.

  66. 66
    Rob Cope Says:

    Ender was a really nice guy (and he liked that tweet, by the way). He was signing autographs for people and was patient, made sure he got their name right, where they wanted it signed, etc. I was concerned he was a flash in the pan when he struggled in the first half last year, but with his strong second half offensively, Game Ender, the dekes, the extension, and what appears to be his overall demeanor, he’s getting up there with the favorite Braves.

    Travis Demeritte had some really strong plays yesterday. He turned one of the fastest DPs I’ve seen in a long time, especially for a guy who has played a lot innings all over the infield. I think he sticks at 2B for some team. Poor ole Johan Carmago lost two straight fly balls in the sun, but they recovered to turn a really difficult DP the same inning. Christian Walker hit what, I think, was his 3rd HR in 4 games, but he clearly seems like a Dave Kingman-type that may not be very helpful on our big league roster.

    Micah Johnson is not adapting well to the outfield at all, it seems. Between the misplay on Wednesday against NYY when Newcomb was pitching, and the two that I saw him misplay on Saturday, the guy seems to be really struggling to transition to the outfield. If they’re trying to see if he’s worth carrying over KJ, they should have their decision before too long. He needs a lot of OF work in AAA.

    Jesse Biddle, however, seems to be the real deal as a potential third lefty (assuming Paco and Krol make the roster). This was his first game back, and after walking the first guy, he got the next guy (a lefty) on strikes, and then induced two weak grounders. His control was ok, he was hitting 93-94, and he seems to have some sort of offspeed pitch that is really difficult on lefties. He could end up being the best Rule-5 guy we’ve taken in the rebuild, especially if Rivero and Winkler continue to struggle with health.

    Rio Ruiz hit an opposite field home run that was up in the zone, and he made some nice plays defensively. Seeing him in person, it’s surprising to see that Hart challenged him on his weight. And he’s still only 22.

    Future’s bright.

  67. 67
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Apparently we have Blaine Boyer back, too?

  68. 68
    Stu Says:

    65—For what it’s worth, Biddle was a straight waiver claim, not a Rule-5 guy, and he has at least one more option year left. So, I wouldn’t expect him in the MLB bullpen, at least not right away.

    66—Yep, DOB and Bowman made a big deal out of that when it happened. At least one wrote a feature on it, and I think both expressed (at that time) an expectation that he’d actually make the team.

  69. 69
    Rob Cope Says:

    I stand corrected. So Rivero and Winkler are the only Rule-5’s, right?

    Weigel’s in the game, and it’s on MLB.tv, for those interested.

  70. 70
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Patrick Weigel is getting demolished right now. He’s missing by a little, missing by a lot, or just grooving the ball.

  71. 71
    sigmundc Says:

    Yeah, I watched the inning–where he & Sims gave up a large quantity of runs–with great interest. Too many pitches that were “nowhere near”… Classic spring training rite-of-passage stuff. I will say the infield defenders, guys with jersey numbers in the 90s, didn’t help matters.

    And Sims got some helpless looking swings and misses with his breaking ball, then K’d the last man with a high, hard (if rather straight looking) heater.

  72. 72
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Yes, Sims looked kinda decent out there. And you’re absolutely right about the infield defense. But Weigel basically had a fastball and a slider, and didn’t seem to have any idea of what to do when things weren’t going his way. It made me realize he’s probably a 5th starter / middle reliever.

  73. 73
    Rob Cope Says:

    With Weigel’s size and supposed velo, I was expecting a little more from him. Perhaps it was a reduced repertoire and some jitters, but I thought he’d be a bit more imposing on the mound. Hopefully he gets in some better work as ST goes along.

    Would have liked to have seen Sims, but it looks like I didn’t miss much.

    The Red Sox announcers, who were pretty good, said that Folty was 4th in the NL last year in percentage of pitches thrown while ahead in the count. May not sound like much, but the three ahead were Scherzer, Kershaw, and some other elite pitcher. In the same breath, they mentioned his 18 gopher balls and 13 wild pitches. It matches the fact that, statistically, he was the same “one or two mistakes” pitcher a game for almost any stretch last year. But if he can avoid the fatal error once or twice an outing, the fact that such an important thing like getting ahead has already been commanded is impressive. Of course, we’ve been saying the same thing about guys like James Shields for years. “Well, if he could keep the ball in the park, he’d be elite.” Yeah, and he hasn’t, won’t, and therefore isn’t. Folty’s age, however, suggests that trading him at this juncture of his career would be insane. Like Newcomb and Teheran, this will be a very telling year for Folty.

  74. 74
    sigmundc Says:

    Weigel does allegedly have a curve and a change, as well… though, according to the scouting report I saw, they are rated a little lower than his slider and fastball. All in all, would be happy to see him become either a 5th starter or reliever.

    I’m sure there’s promise in him, though he did a fine job of hiding it!

  75. 75
    ryan c Says:

    Weigel drew rave reviews by many that saw him on a daily basis. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on this outing. With that being said, his FB and slider are his calling card and up until last year he had no idea where any of his pitches were going. Duplicating the control he found last year at upper levels is going to be key for him this year.

  76. 76
    Tanto Says:

    Rob Refsnyder looks to be the victim of a roster crunch in New York, and word is the Yankees are making him available. He hasn’t really hit in the majors, but he has in the minors, and he can play first, second, third, and outfield. He could be a nice pickup for the bench if Brian “Inciarte and Foltynewicz for the corpse of Brian McCann” Cashman isn’t asking too much for him. I’d like to see the Braves dig up the next Kelly Johnson instead of continuously signing the old one.

  77. 77
    Rob Cope Says:

    “Inciarte and Foltynewicz for the corpse of Brian McCann”

    Now that’s a nickname.

    Agreed on KJ. He meets the needs of the day, but I’d rather see if Camargo, Johnson, Walker X2, or a roster crunch can be a more long-term solution. It’s funny and all that we keep trading KJ, but the odds are against Whalen, Gant, or Morris from having actual impact (even .5 WAR or something) at the major league level. Finding the next Charles Thomas (1.2 WAR in ’04 before being a key part of a deal) or Brooks Conrad (.4 WAR two straight seasons with positional flexibility) is probably more valuable to us at this stage of the rebuild than what KJ will be traded for. Of course, if we sign KJ, that won’t bother me much either. It’s the 25th spot, after all.

    If Weigel, a 7th round pick with minimal college pedigree, becomes a 5th starter, I’m totally on board with that.

  78. 78
    coop Says:

    KJ before Frenchy, but neither would be even better.

  79. 79
    Rob Cope Says:

    After not hearing about Frenchy for several weeks, I don’ think he’s in their plans. Thank goodness. I’d rather ride with Micah Johnson than pay for his Veteran Presents.

  80. 80
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Of course, we’ve been saying the same thing about guys like James Shields for years

    Rob @72, Shields may not have quite been “elite,” but from 2007 to 2014 he averaged nearly 4 WAR a year (and 223 IP per year). That’s awful danged good.

  81. 81
    ryan c Says:

    Christian Walker has been claimed by the Reds and I didn’t cry. Refsnyder could be a decent pickup, but I think there’s a need for a LH bench bat.

  82. 82
    cliff Says:

    Today is a hot day for news.

  83. 83
    krussell Says:

    I listened to yesterday’s game while driving back from Florida and I’d honestly never even heard of half the guys that got into the game.

  84. 84
    Rob Cope Says:

    That’s your punishment for driving from Florida.

  85. 85
    krussell Says:

    On the plus side I got to listen to a couple of Balbino Fuenmayor at bats, so I got that going for me…

  86. 86
    Rob Cope Says:

    http://m.braves.mlb.com/news/article/218174066/mark-bowman-answers-fans-inbox-questions/

    According to Peanut, the Braves may try to trade from the current surplus of out-of-options relievers to get a bench bat. If they carry the 8-man pen, they still only have one spot remaining for three guys: Roe, Boyer, and Luke Jackson. I don’t really see Boyer or Roe bringing back much, but a cost-controlled bench player would be an interesting continuation of the Tyrell Jenkins-for-Luke Jackson trade. They could continue to have interesting problems if Minter, Biddle, and/or Rivero become healthy and ready.

    I do wonder if the best role of the 25th spot on the roster is a bench player or reliever. Are 8 relievers going to get enough work to stay healthy with our rotation?

  87. 87
    Smitty Says:

    Eight relievers is dumb. Especially with three off days in the first two weeks.

    It will be like 13 games in before we need a fifth starter. I’d argue to keep a 11 man staff until you need a fifth starter and then call up Folty so he can get a few starts in across town.

  88. 88
    Td Says:

    Good point on the off days and the lack of need for 8 relievers. My bet is that the only way they carry 8 for the first 2 weeks is if they are trying to work a trade and don’t want to DFA anyone.

  89. 89
    TheFlyingBernard Says:

    I’m watching the Clemson-Duke game on TV right now, and the announcer just accidentally referred to Harry Giles as “Marcus Giles”.

  90. 90
    Hate King Says:

    Tried out a new barber in town today and started talking baseball. He informed me he cuts Dansby Swanson’s hair. I immediately asked him to stop what he’s doing and give me the Dansby special. The fiance is very critical of haircuts. I’m not sure if she’s going to appreciate me explaining the new barber must be good because Dansby trusts him with his locks.

  91. 91
    Rob Cope Says:

    Guy’s got golden scissors.

    Newk got reassigned to minor league camp. Yesterday’s outing: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 K, 0 BB

  92. 92
    coop Says:

    Having grown up with the Bums in the ’50s, I love having a Newk on our team.

  93. 93
    ryan c Says:

    Some thoughts in looking ahead to the FA market in 2018:

    Moneyball was/is about exploiting market inefficiencies, & 1 that might be developing is the short-term aging veteran deals. Big $ is being thrown out to guys entering their prime, but for most part the big $ continues well past their prime. Vets, especially past 35, are lucky to get a 2 year deal for 1/2-3/4 of the AAV of the late-20s free agents. Hope Braves see this trend and look into someone like Todd Frazier next offseason.

  94. 94
    Rob Cope Says:

    Makes for a very long offseason when you keep hearing that the aging players signed are going to implode. Dickey had a bad year! Colon is old too! Garcia can’t stay healthy! Yeah, well, they’re all in varying stages of decline. So what? How did BJ Upton, Chris Johnson, and Dan Uggla’s primes work out? To be fair, Uggla’s extension was signed when he was 31, which was kinda easy to see that would be a bad deal.

  95. 95
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I think the degree to which Dickey had a bad year is a little overblown. He’d have been one of our best starters. I mean… last year, we relied on Josh Collmenter.

  96. 96
    Rob Cope Says:

    I mean… last year, we relied on Josh Collmenter.
    I mean… last year, we relied on Joel De La Cruz.
    I mean… last year, we relied on Tyrell Jenkins.
    I mean… last year, we relied on Aaron Blair.
    I mean… last year, we relied on Lucas Harrell.
    I mean… last year, we relied on Rob Whalen.

    All in the second half. When we played .500+ ball for over half the year. It’s remarkable to look at the pitching stats for the ’16 Braves. And I will say, it does make you wonder how good our scouts are when Coppy says they expected, not hoped, or wished, or would have really preferred the pitching to be better. It’s crazy how many players from our roster last year will not appear on a major league roster next year.

    Speaking of which, EOF has retired 11 of the last 12 batters he’s faced in ST. That’s case in point of how little most ST stats matter. Unless it’s Newcomb or Fried. That’s pretty cool.

  97. 97
    coop Says:

    Glass tip, gentlemen. Keep up the good work.

  98. 98
    Td Says:

    Today’s game was a good indicator of the meaninglessness of spring stats. We scored 7 runs and batted 16 players. Of those 16, 2 of them will most likely start more than 100 games this year. I would bet 8 to 10 of those get a late season call up by the Braves or another team at the very best over their entire career.

  99. 99
    Td Says:

    OTOH, Blaine Boyer and his 20.25 ERA is not helping his case for a roster spot.

  100. 100
    Dan Says:

    I like Waffle House and the tomahawk chop.

    why not enjoy your surroundings in beautiful Cobb County?

    Beats the ghetto in which Turner Field was situated.

  101. 101
    Smitty Says:

    I got my tickets to Sunshine Field for the first Sunday game

  102. 102
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @100, at least it was ITP.

  103. 103
    blazon Says:

    @90

    Dansby’s barber?
    rather odd
    a new approach
    by Sweeney Todd?

  104. 104
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    New post is up!

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