Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

10 Mar

On Not Tanking

[Note: I’m optimistic about the team going forward, and now that Spring games have started, it’s a time for joy and excitement. This is a curmudgeonly take that doesn’t really fit well, timing-wise — it’s something I should have produced two months ago. Nevertheless, I only just now ran the numbers, and here they are.]

The Braves will pick fifth in this year’s Rule 4 draft. They finished a half-game ahead of the Rays, Reds, and Padres in the standings in 2016; so, had they won just one fewer game, they’d be picking second. I was one who lamented this — trying to win every possible game down the stretch — at the time it was happening. Many others, including [redacted]s like David O’Brien at the AJC, were very adamant about the relative un-importance of three places in the draft order as compared to the pursuit/creation/maintenance of a “winning culture.” (Those are not intended as scare quotes.)

Anyway, I wanted to take a more detailed look at exactly what the Braves lost by winning. Here are the slot bonuses for the second and fifth pick in each (non-supplemental, non-compensatory) round of this year’s draft:

1.2: $6,850,000
1.5: $5,435,000

2.2: $1,716,800
2.5: $1,594,700

3.2: $708,400
3.5: $675,200

4.2: $478,000
4.5: $464,100

5.2: $357,000
5.5: $346,700

6.2: $267,500
6.5: $260,600

7.2: $208,400
7.5: $203,200

8.2: $165,000
8.5: $161,500

9.2: $140,400
9.5: $139,000

10.2: $130,400
10.5: $129,600

All told, that’s $1,612,300 in lost slot money to spend on this year’s draft, or roughly the equivalent of the slot value of the 41st pick.

For reference, here were last year’s 40th-46th picks:

40. Joey Wentz (Braves’ #14 prospect [MLB.com])
41. Nick Lodolo (highest drafted player not to sign — has the fourth-most IP on TCU, the #1 college team in the country)
42. Kevin Gowdy (Phillies’ #8 prospect)
43. Chris Okey (Reds’ #13 prospect)
44. Kyle Muller (Braves’ #17 prospect)
45. Ben Bowden (Rockies’ #14 prospect)
46. Lucas Erceg (Brewers’ #7 prospect)

Which do you prefer: 68-93, the current vibe, and the current farm system, or 67-94, whatever lesser vibe that would have produced, and the current farm system plus additional talent equivalent to that of one of those guys?

I realize the calculus isn’t truly that clean — there are non-tangible benefits to winning, it’s not like they realistically could have specifically designed to lose exactly one more game, those prospects are just high-risk prospects, etc. — but the choice remains clear to me. Wish the Braves had made a different one.

119 Responses to “On Not Tanking”

  1. 1
    Jay Says:

    Eh, I think it’s fine to lament the fact that we didn’t end up with a higher pick, but quite another for a team to actively try to lose games down the stretch. Maybe I’m the old-fashioned curmudgeon here, but that just feels wrong to me.

  2. 2
    Td Says:

    I agree on not tanking. I know this is an overused expression, but it affects the integrity of the game. If there is incentive for a team to tank, the MLB should take away that incentive. Maybe a random number generator that isn’t revealed until the end of the year. The rankings for draft could happen anywhere between game 142 to 162.

  3. 3
    Rob Cope Says:

    it’s not like they realistically could have specifically designed to lose exactly one more game

    I think that’s your big point there. In a vacuum, absolutely, just lose one more game, and gain so much more in the long run. But really, how would it have been done? How are you going to make some sort of tangible move to slide right where you want to be?

  4. 4
    Stu Says:

    Well, they won the last game of the season 1-0 against Justin Verlander in a game started by Julio Teheran. I can think of at least one thing they could have done differently to drastically reduce their odds in that one…

    EDIT: Note that the Tigers were already eliminated from playoff contention, so from that standpoint, there were no integrity-of-the-game concerns.

  5. 5
    Rob Cope Says:

    Wouldn’t that have looked a little wompy?

  6. 6
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Agree with the above. It would have been really hard — not to mention potentially catastrophic to team morale and, for what it’s worth, horrendously unethical — for the team to basically institute a policy of attempting to lose games for higher draft position. But it is fascinating to see how one single fewer victory would give us the equivalent of an additional supplemental first-round pick. (Just to pick another name out of a hat, we took Austin Riley with the 41st overall pick in 2015, and the system could sure use a few more Austin Rileys.)

    In this current draft system, the money associated with a slot is more important than the slot itself, as the Braves’ strategy of taking Ian Anderson was validated almost immediately. And the Braves have a lot fewer picks this year than last year, and are likely to win well over 70 games, so we’re probably not going to have a very high pick next year. So making the best of our money becomes more important than ever, especially since — if the plan goes according to plan — 2017 is the last time we’ll pick in the top 10 for quite a while.

  7. 7
    Stu Says:

    “Horrendously unethical” is quite a stretch. You’d have to do something about the folks who paid for tickets to a game in which the team wan’t trying its best to win, of course. The optics would be bad…unless you’re clued-in enough to see the addition of $1.6 million worth of draft value is also part of the optics.

    The real problem with implementing such a strategy is how uneducated the average fan is about pretty much everything related to the minor leagues. People don’t get that the difference in one outcome for an already terrible team is worth millions of dollars, which is really all I’m trying to show.

  8. 8
    Rob Cope Says:

    It is interesting that Coppy is willing to implement the policy of tanking, but didn’t choose to finish the job by losing that one last game here because, ya know, optics. I’m not saying I would’ve done different, but it is an interesting dichotomy.

  9. 9
    Jay Says:

    With this much on the line, the amazing thing to me is that they don’t make up missed games. The Braves played 161 last year, so if they had played and lost one more they would have jumped two spots (if my figuring is correct).

    Also, you can tell the system sucks because it has us wishing away a Teheran/Verlander 1-0 game.

  10. 10
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @7, I actually wasn’t referring so much to the fans as to the other 29 teams… it really isn’t fair to the other teams when a particular team decides that it intentionally wants to lose. It violates the spirit of sportsmanship, and while there may be sound business reasons for doing so, it does betray the ethics of the game.

  11. 11
    Stu Says:

    See, I think that’s a non-existent concern when it’s game 162 against another team that’s already missed the playoffs. Teams sit/rest players all the time in the last month of the season, and I doubt anyone would bat an eye — and if they did, it would be a completely unjustified batting — at not throwing your ace who’s already pitched over 180 innings on the last day of the season in a meaningless game.

  12. 12
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    In game 162, I kindasorta agree, even though it still minorly sucks. But when you talk about “tanking,” you’re generally not talking about game 162, because (at least in principle) in order to be assured of draft position you have to make your decision about whether to tank a whole lot earlier.

    Going into the offseason on a 1-game winning streak isn’t that important for morale, and letting your starters end their year and soak their muscles a day early isn’t that big a deal. But it still does betray the spirit of sportsmanship, even if only slightly.

  13. 13
    krussell Says:

    We ran out some trash pitching that last month…I’d say we were kinda sorta trying to tank it, but the hitters didn’t cooperate.

  14. 14
    Rob Cope Says:

    Well, but they chose the position players too. As someone mentioned, we should see some regression from the position players from the second half, but I don’t think it’ll be much. They tried to win.

  15. 15
    Nick Says:

    @11

    If it’s so important to go up a few spots in the draft, then how is it ethical to get there by intentionally losing?

    I hate tanking in all it’s forms, and am probably the one guy who still thinks that we should’ve tried to rebuild while fielding a palatable baseball team rather than blowing it up (which we still don’t know is going to work, by the way), so you know what I think.

    But that aside, you can’t have it both ways. If it matters, then it’s unethical to intentionally lose to get it. If not, then it’s not…but then it doesn’t matter and this conversation is pointless.

  16. 16
    Smitty Says:

    The Tigers weren’t eliminated when the last game started

    https://www.google.com/amp/www.mlive.com/articles/19398169/tigers_braves_justin_verlander.amp

  17. 17
    Stu Says:

    16—Ah, my mistake. That does change things.

    I grant that there was, realistically, no way to actively pursue losing games. Nevertheless, the value of what we lost by not losing was significant.

  18. 18
    Rob Cope Says:

    @17

    They could have given players more days off down the stretch. Could have turned a game in another direction.

    Peterson Thomas Gordon Orr faced Julio Teheran. You can predict how it went.

  19. 19
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    It’s a little strange to watch John Gant mow our guys down. Good luck to the guy, but based on what we saw last year, I wouldn’t have counted him as a great loss.

  20. 20
    td Says:

    Caleb Dirks is now pitching for us. I’ve never heard of him, but his minor league numbers are fairly impressive. 1.32 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 143 minor league innings. He had a .91 ERA and a .98 WHIP over 29 innings last year at AA Mississippi. It looks like we got him in the Bud Norris deal, but he is nowhere to be found in our top 40 prospects. He looks decent to me.

  21. 21
    blazon Says:

    @20

    Caleb Dirks
    what now really irks
    in the Book of Deuteronomy
    he is listed as a first round nominee.

  22. 22
    kc Says:

    #2 pick reminds me of Mike Kelly.

  23. 23
    Rob Cope Says:

    Dirks was considered near major league ready when he came over for Norris. He didn’t look particularly dominant yesterday, but all he’s done is pitch really well in the minors. He’s struck out more than a batter an inning in his 143 career ML IP, and he’s kept baserunners down nicely (1.14 WHIP). Maybe he can have a few decent middle relief innings for us.

    Folty is looking like he’s taking the next step. ST SSS and all, but he’s pitched really well in all three outings, and he looks more polished than he did last year. And he’s doing this with a much lower than normal K rate. Once again, it’s early, but I’ma lookin’ and I’ma likin’.

  24. 24
    braves14 Says:

    Matt Wisler sucks.

  25. 25
    Smitty Says:

    @23

    I think being around Colon will help both Julio and Folty.

    @24

    I agree. I think he and Aaron Blair (and his dad) have been cry babies and just can’t make the adjustment.

  26. 26
    Hambone Says:

    Game 162 being the last game ever at the Ted also made it a game that the organization really wanted to win.

  27. 27
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    You can’t run a “teach the kids to play the game at the ML level” program and a “tank for draft pick” program at the same time. The latter (not playing to win) directly undermines the purpose of the former (teaching young talent how to play to win at the ML level.)

    Also, the general theory of “tank you way to success,” as best epitomized by the 76’ers in the NBA, is not particularly effective. As best epitomized by the 76’ers (and the Browns in the NFL.)

  28. 28
    Tanto Says:

    @25 — It’s tough to make an adjustment when they send you down to work on things but then call you up as an injury replacement before you make a start, and then decide to see how you’d work as a long man. Blair might end up being useless, but I think it’s tough to argue that the Braves put him in any kind of good position to succeed or improve himself. They were in no way patient with him, and they didn’t give him a defined role after he stumbled out of the gate as a starter. If he’s their model for how to develop young pitching, this whole “Build around good young pitching” strategy isn’t going to work.

  29. 29
    Rob Cope Says:

    In the big picture, it would have been much better to finish 67-95 vs. 68-94. And if there was a button to press to make it happen that way, I’m sure they would have pressed it.

    There’s a fine line that they’re running between being competitive and consolidating resources into young talent which creates inevitable short-term losing. I know it’s nice to be able to simplify an organizational philosophy into one word (“tanking”), but to Sam’s point, they’re clearly not doing that. They could have won 40 games these past couple years, and funneled every free dollar into draft picks, international bonus pool, and bought prospects a la Touki. But by doing that, their revenue would have slashed to the point where it would not have made sense. And they’re trying to make sure people still tune in and go to the games, so if they did anything to suggest they were trying to lose a specific game, I think that would be hazardous to their integrity. “Consolidating resources into young talent which creates inevitable short-term losing” sounds a whole lot better than “tanking for picks” when the big league club is still putting a decent product on the field nightly.

    You could make an argument that they’ve balanced this pretty well. They’ve had two seasons where they’ve won in the 60’s, and they’re probably back to being right where they were two years ago before this started. Two seasons is a long time, but they’ve remained relevant and while they missed out on a higher pick in the ’17 draft, they have stockpiled a ton of talent in the meantime.

  30. 30
    JonathanF Says:

    In addition, the manager was still an interim manager. Losing games kinda sorta on purpose doesn’t reflect well on him either.

    More to the point, higher draft picks go to worse teams. (And I realize that record is a highly imperfect index of who’s worse, but it’s what we have.) Lying about how good you are is still, y’know, lying. I don’t like players pretending they tagged someone they didn’t tag, pretending they caught balls they didn’t catch, pretending they were hit by balls that didn’t hit them, etc. Essentially, I want every game to be golf, ethically speaking.

  31. 31
    Stu Says:

    Last year’s pythagW/L suggests the quest for a true reflection of bad-ness should have led the Braves to punt that last game.

  32. 32
    Stu Says:

    29—I think that’s right on the money. Really, I just wish we were picking second instead of fifth, and I wanted to quantify the value doing so would have added.

  33. 33
    TheFlyingBernard Says:

    The last game the Braves played last year was a victory over an AL opponent. That’s only happened 4 times in franchise history! It’s almost like we won the World Series ;)

  34. 34
    Rob Cope Says:

    http://www.tmz.com/2017/03/12/braves-pitcher-mike-foltynewicz-chick-fil-a-cash-me-ousside/

    I mean, it’s TMZ, which is common street trash, but I’d prefer Mike not get himself in stuff like this. I wouldn’t think much of it if it was any other pitcher, but Folty seems to be a little bit of a hot head, so this isn’t surprising at all. I hope he doesn’t derail his career by not being able to control his emotions.

  35. 35
    Td Says:

    @33 – No. No it wasn’t. The only thing that made it feel remotely like a world series game was the excitement of concluding one of the most excruciating season of Braves baseball I’ve ever seen.

  36. 36
    Dusty Says:

    I too was really bummed at 1 game meaning a drop from 2nd to 5th in the draft order, but I make myself feel better by saying we were the Inciarte catch away from the #2 pick. Highlight of the season (against the Mets no less), so as much as I love the draft and prospects, I’m not sure I would trade that moment for better draft position.

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

    Somehow I missed that Joey Terds is a Buc now. But the Braves just hung a four-spot on him and his new mates thanks to a walk from Brandon Phillips and four consecutive singles by Nick Markakis, Matt Kemp, Jace Peterson, and Tyler Flowers, and if those five guys can be something other than offensive black holes this year, I feel pretty good about our chances to win 75+ games.

  38. 38
    Rob Cope Says:

    2016 wasn’t that excruciating for me. We sucked, sure, but we got to watch some young pitchers try to find themselves, and watching Folty’s inconsistency was both maddening and enjoyable when he was on. Firing Fredi was a fine conclusion to a largely bad tenure and horrid start to the season, and while their poor performance lingered a little after he was gone, you could see a marked improvement in the team after the roster was improved and Snitker’s influence began to stick. Considering how low expectations were for the season and how bad the first half was, their play in the second half was really enjoyable. Jace’s big game, Freddie’s season, Kemp’s contributions, Dansby’s promotion, Cabrera’s promotion and fastball, and Ender’s game ender were more highlights than I had remembered in some year’s past. Dansby’s excitement after the double play turn against Detroit during the last week of the season fooled me into thinking he was playing for a winner, and the reality is, he always has and he always will.

    Really where I felt like this new team was going to be fun to watch was Jace’s big game. I was inside watching the game and seeing his crash into the CF wall. Then I went outside to knock out some yard work, and the announcer’s call on his walk-off made me genuinely excited for watching some of these young players turn into major leaguers. It’s one thing to be 79-83 in 2014 with no hope, and it’s another thing altogether to watch a .500 team in the second half with a nucleus somewhat in place.

  39. 39
    blazon Says:

    Dovydas Neverauskas
    we were not going to until you tried to get this one past us
    so we do ask, were you today’s loser?
    yes, so easy for us, a Lithuanian schmoozer.

  40. 40
    blazon Says:

    Gift Ngoepe

    someone, please.This guy was in the game today.

  41. 41
    Rusty S. Says:

    Gift Ngoepe
    has Blazon feeling peppy.
    We saw him on SportSouth,
    can we look him in the mouth?

  42. 42
    John R. Says:

    Gift Ngoepe is from South Africa. How many MLB players were ever from South Africa?

    *goes to Baseball Reference*

    Zero MLB players were ever from South Africa. That’s how many. If he makes it to the bigs, what a…gift that would be!

  43. 43
    blazon Says:

    Gift ‘n’ Go leap!
    Triple A to the Majors is steep
    be the first from South Africa
    something a little above .232 might be more emphatica.

    thanks to both above…more?? the bar is still low!

  44. 44
    coop Says:

    Heard on mlb radio that the Cubs could be willing to shop Javier Baez for a controllable young starter. Kid plays a mean third base.

  45. 45
    Td Says:

    Braves lineup today is interesting. 3, 4 and 5 hitters of Peterson, Recker and Bonifacio is not exactly Murderer’s Row.

    On Javier Baez, he is an interesting possibility. I’m not sure if he would be a huge upgrade over Garcia this year, but he could be good long term. We probably have prospects who could be better than him by 2019. Reluctantly, I would say no thanks.

  46. 46
    Rob Cope Says:

    Javier Baez was a 3.4 WAR player last year, which would make him the third-most valuable position player we have. He would also add right-handed power to a lineup that features Markakis, Freeman, Inciarte, and switch-hitting Albies. He would probably cost a lot less in prospects (and a lot less in dollars) than Longoria as well. It would certainly fit the narrative of Hart’s that pitching is this universal currency.

    I just don’t know who the cost-controlled starter the Braves would/could give up to get him. I don’t think the Cubs want our middling prospects, and I don’t think we’re in a position to give up Folty, and Teheran is too valuable. Of course, they could package more players together, but I’m pretty sure this is not going to be a Wisler/Blair-for-Baez or even Newcomb-for-Baez trade.

  47. 47
    csg Says:

    Id take Baez over Adonis or Ruiz. It would cost us Folty + prospects

  48. 48
    Smitty Says:

    Baez would cost us Teheran and Swanson. The Cubs aren’t dumb. They want Chris Archer.

  49. 49
    Rob Cope Says:

    I don’t think he would cost Teheran and Swanson, but yes, I do see Folty and prospects. I doubt Coppy trades Folty at this juncture though. Folty could be more valuable than Baez as soon as this year. If Folty simply stays healthy, makes 30 starts, and makes even a slight improvement, he’ll be about a 2.5 WAR player. If he makes another incremental step forward the way he has these past two years, he could quite possibly be more valuable than Baez this season. Plus, Ruiz is developing, and you still don’t quite know what you have there. Why give up now? If we dealt a major league player and prospects, we’d be better off acquiring a catcher.

  50. 50
    csg Says:

    Pretty crappy day from our pitching staff

    8IP 11H 8ER 7BB 6K’s

  51. 51
    Td Says:

    When I said Baez may not be a huge upgrade over Garcia this year, I meant from an offensive standpoint. Garcia’s career line of 274/307/430 with a .737 ops doesn’t look a lot different than Baez at 273/314/423 with a 737 ops last year. Obviously the odds are that he’ll get a lot better since he’s only 24 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some regression this year.

  52. 52
    Stu Says:

    Baez would absolutely not cost Teheran and Swanson. I do think it would cost Teheran and possibly more, though.

  53. 53
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I’ve been terrified of Javy Baez for a long time because of how much he strikes out and how little he walks. I seriously worry that he’d just disappear for seasons on end.

    In other sad news, Success needs elbow surgery, and it’s going to end his season and possibly his pitching career.

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/03/jordan-schafer-to-undergo-elbow-surgery.html

  54. 54
    Rob Cope Says:

    I can’t imagine it’s particular good on the ole noodle to have the limited throwing a position player has and then be thrust into the riggers of major league pitching. That sucks for Success. That was a really neat idea, and something I’d love to see more players be able to do.

    Baez walked 15 times in 450 PAs. That’s almost Frenchy territory (and worse than some points of Frenchy’s career). Baez is most valuable as a shortstop, and we have two. I doubt he ends up in Atlanta as a 3B since some team will pay more for him as a shortstop.

    I’ll be shocked — shocked!– if the Braves don’t add their much-needed 3B/C/RF elite position player through mostly a financial means vs. prospects. I’m not saying they’ll grab a FA, but you can’t put this many resources into the pitching side of the ball and expect to not have to carry some high position player contracts.

  55. 55
    AA Says:

    Derek Norris anyone? He was awful last season but prior to that was more than competent. I’d be willing to take a flyer on him.

  56. 56
    Edward Says:

    I’ve got to get onto the “let’s all pretend that nothing about 2014 was exciting, ever” bandwagon.

    First I have to find the step up to the “Jace Peterson and Matt Kemp are part of the nucleus of the new great Braves” bandwagon, though.

  57. 57
    Jay Says:

    Careful, Edward, that much straw in one place is prone to spontaneous combustion.

  58. 58
    csg Says:

    Peanut projects his opening day roster

    Bullpen: JJ, Arodys, Cabrera, Ramirez, Krol, EOF, Collmenter, and Paco
    Bench: Jace, D’Arnaud, Bonifacio, and Suzuki
    Lineup: Inciarte, Swanson, Freeman, Kemp, Markakis, Phillips, Garcia, and Flowers
    Rotation: Teheran, Colon, Garcia, Dickey, and Folty

    That bench is laughable. Why haven’t we offered more to Pagan and KJ?

  59. 59
    oldtimer? Says:

    Bonifacio and D’artaud are useless.
    and an 8 man bullpen is moronic.

  60. 60
    csg Says:

    #59 – Yep

  61. 61
    Tanto Says:

    @56 — In all honesty, I had a much harder time with the 2014 team’s mediocrity than I had with the 2015-16 teams’ outright badness. At least those teams could blame their struggles on a lack of talent; in 2014 they had good players and were supposed to compete but spent half the season going through the motions and looking like they couldn’t give less of a shit. The last two years awful ball just kind of comes with the territory, so I could let it wash over me, but in 2014 I was still really invested in each game, crossing my fingers that they’d turn it around, and with every lifeless loss I got more and more annoyed.

    As for the 2017 team, I’m much more vexed by the four-man bench than I am about any of the players on it. It only really made sense (as much as it ever did) when Sean Rodriguez was the Plan B at every position. I really don’t see how giving KJ or Angel Pagan a working retirement moves the needle that much, and as they are both still unsigned it seems I’m not the only one.

  62. 62
    Stu Says:

    That bench really is hilariously bad.

  63. 63
    Rob Cope Says:

    By having this bench, Jace becomes the first bat off the bench, thus removing his versatility unless you double-switch him into the game.

    There’s no way they can say they’re contenders with that bench. If anything, trade EOF or Ramirez for a 5th person on the bench. If they do go with a 4-man bench, you’d have to assume a trade is coming.

  64. 64
    blazon Says:

    Wayne Adams
    Tussaud Madams
    he seeks immortality in wax
    his star has waned, beware the lacquered axe.

  65. 65
    Rob Cope Says:

    Really kinda hoped Micah Johnson could have worked out more quickly. He couldn’t find a baseball in the outfield with a flashlight and a sherpa. I’d imagine he’ll get a lot of work in the OF at AAA.

  66. 66
    Smitty Says:

    Why have an eight man pen? I can’t think of a real reason.

  67. 67
    coop Says:

    Four starters? That’s the only rationale I can find, but Peanut says we’ll use five.

  68. 68
    Smitty Says:

    I look forward to Braves State Media claiming an eight man pen is the best idea in baseball history. They will then bash everyone who questions it.

    Then at the end of the year they will hint how it is a bad idea and they were never for it.

  69. 69
    Rob Cope Says:

    It seems to be gaining traction across baseball. They clearly think they can win by shortening games in a way that won’t kill arms the way it worked in the O’Ventbrel days (RIP O’Vent). They feel confident that they’ll get 6 consistent innings from each member of the rotation, and they can hand a lot of 3-2 ballgames to a deep pen that won’t get burned out. If we have a 1-2 run lead, we can go to 7 total guys while keeping the long guy fresh, which means that, in theory, a guy could go 2-3 days between outings if necessary.

    It does seem like the highest and best use of the 25th spot is on a position player, but whatever. How often are you going to to go the 7th non-long reliever guy in your pen vs. how often you’ll need a PH off the bench or defensive replacement? It’s picking nits, but still.

  70. 70
    Smitty Says:

    “Julio and Dickey have shown to be great hitters. We feel they will be the much needed bat off the bench, when not pitching.”

  71. 71
    Rob Cope Says:

    Speaking of Javy Baez:

    https://twitter.com/Cubs/status/842031408264630273

    I don’t even think he knows he was doing it. I’ve really enjoyed the WBC for exciting, raw emotion that you’re not allowed to have in MLB. Baseball would be a much better game if some, if not most, of the celebrating that is going on in the WBC would be allowed in MLB.

  72. 72
    Nick Says:

    @71

    Anybody carrying that much emotion through 162 games would have a heart attack (or be Carlos Perez, I guess).

    I have enjoyed the World Baseball Classic, too, though.

  73. 73
    Edward Says:

    @57, No strawmen. Very direct response to Rob Cope @38. Silliness on par with the 4-man bench.

  74. 74
    braves14 Says:

    Re: bullpen

    Not to mention we won’t even need a 5th starter at the beginning of the season due to off days. I wonder if they will have Folty make a start at Gwinnett at the beginning of the season or if they will put him in the ‘pen for a 9 man bullpen.

  75. 75
    csg Says:

    Prado either pulled a hammy or twisted a knee just now

  76. 76
    Rob Cope Says:

    Could be an options thing with the bench/bullpen. Some guys you’d like to maybe see on the bench (an limited errors Carmargo and Ruiz) have options, but there are several relievers they’d like to keep (Roe, Ramirez, now EOF, maybe even Boyer) that are out of options. They may also be positioning themselves for a trade if you don’t believe the free market economic principles of baseball assets, as discussed here at times (teams can get distressed if other teams think they are “forced” to trade players).

  77. 77
    Stu Says:

    Another round of cuts today — Blair, Morris, Sims, Fried, Minter, Camargo, and Demeritte. No real surprises, although Camargo’s going home a little sooner than one might have expected at the start of camp. All those errors, though…

    Interestingly (and excitingly), Fried was optioned to Mississippi, meaning they’re skipping him right over High-A to start the season.

  78. 78
    Rob Cope Says:

    ’tis very exciting that Fried is so far along after just turning 23 and losing almost 2 years. Boss.

  79. 79
    Smitty Says:

    Fried may be the best pitcher of the young guys.

  80. 80
    Nick Says:

    @71

    Something else I didn’t notice until seeing the Javy Baez thing again just now, but perhaps if he’d been paying attention to what he was doing, he’d have actually tagged the guy before he touched the base. Baez completely misses the tag and doesn’t touch the baserunner until his upper body comes through (you know, because he’s pointing at Molina and not actually looking and where his glove or the baserunner are), and by that time, I’m pretty sure a super slomo replay would’ve shown the runner to be safe. Thankfully for Baez, there is no video review other than on boundary calls at this point of the WBC. But there is in MLB, so I’d file this in the “don’t want to see it in MLB” category.

    For the record, I don’t disagree that MLB could certainly afford to be a bit less stuffy and ridiculous in general, though. A bat flip or a slow home run trot never really hurt anybody, and certainly isn’t grounds for a weekend-long beanball war, in my opinion.

  81. 81
    Nick Says:

    Oof…even I (a heartless, cackling Tennessee fan) have sympathy for you on that one, Stu. Absolutely brutal.

  82. 82
    Smitty Says:

    Yeah. That was tough

  83. 83
    krussell Says:

    The 8 man pen is for when 3/5 of the rotation doesn’t make it past the 4th inning.

  84. 84
    Rusty S. Says:

    @83 But bat for themselves before coming out because we’ve got a 3 man bench and it’s the 4th inning.

  85. 85
    Smitty Says:

    I thought we brought in three pitchers just to eat innings.

  86. 86
    Stu Says:

    81 & 82—Tough one, sure, but fortunately, the feeling that we were playing with house money (Drew turned a very thin, very meh team into a really good one over the course of one season) has gotten me through it better than I get through most heartbreaking VU defeats.

    I’ve convinced myself that McIntosh would’ve just come down and hit a jumper at the buzzer, anyway. Our D without Luke was awful all year, and we weren’t able to stop McIntosh at all yesterday even with Luke in there.

  87. 87
    Rusty S. Says:

    @85 – We did. There are reasons for each of them that that may not actually happen, but you are right that it’s the time of year to be optimistic.

  88. 88
    Rob Cope Says:

    Really loving the WBC. It’s almost like having an All-Star game every night. So much talent, very entertaining, games are higher urgency. This is how MLB should be.

    To Nick’s point, yes, the emotion can’t effect the actual quality of play, but I think the national pride, specifically with the Latin American countries, have made this great television. Great stuff.

  89. 89
    DG Says:

    Maybe John Rocker should try something other than LA Fitness (another article has him stating that this is the fourth time it’s happened at one of their locations): http://www.ajc.com/news/crime–law/brave-rocker-punk-kids-stole-loaded-gun-from-truck/iIvBqtJdhi1iekUICa9g6H/

  90. 90
    Johnny Says:

    @86 – Good win for Northwestern. I was sure that the last 3 point attempt would seal the deal for Vanderbilt. They must have shot 90% from the three in the second half.
    I’ll admit that I am very late on the NU basketball bandwagon. They appear to have found a coach. Big monkey off their back by finally making the tournament.

  91. 91
    Rob Cope Says:

    According to Talking Chop, Ruiz had been ranked as high as #43 on the 2015 Fan Graphs prospect list (1 ahead of Jose Peraza), and the person who did the rankings is now in the Braves organization. He’s now so far down on the prospect lists, but he’s still only 22, and he could very well be a helpful piece. And since he’s playing well in Spring Training (.830 OPS), the argument is being made that he should get the majority of PAs against RHPs. Adonis’ OPS against RHP last year, in 411 PAs, was .700. And before you think he crushes lefties, his OPS in 152 PAs against LHP last year was .765. If you bring Ruiz up to hit RHP, you really ought to let him get some PAs against LHP as well, but if you do that, you’d have about 100 PAs to give to Adonis, maybe, and nothing else to do with him when he’s not playing. Hopefully Ruiz hits well in AAA and they trade Garcia for an A-ball prospect in June. And based on all of this, I’m surprised to hear that they aren’t working with him at first base to hit lefties when Freeman needs a rest.

  92. 92
    Smitty Says:

    I think we should start the season with Ruiz and see what he can do. But I’m sure they won’t do that.

  93. 93
    coop Says:

    I love Garcia’s name, but Rio’s not bad either.

  94. 94
    Game, Blauser Says:

    @92 It seems like Adonis will start the 2017 season as the Braves’ everyday third baseman for a few important reasons – 1) the Braves’ bench is really short given their decision to carry eight relievers, so they can’t afford to roster Ruiz when that would create a platoon at 3B but doesn’t cover any other defensive position; 2) Adonis is a “proven quantity” and Ruiz doesn’t project as clearly superior to Adonis as an everyday 3B option as of right now; 3) Ruiz can go down to AAA and play every day, including against lefties, to work on continued improvements; 4) if Adonis gets hurt, get traded or is so bad the Braves DFA him, then Ruiz will have spent the intervening time preparing to take over as the full time 3B.

    It seems likely that, one way or another, Ruiz will get 100+ ABs with Atlanta this year – though the circumstances of those ABs may range from “emerging starting 3B Rio Ruiz” to “former top prospect hoping to take advantage of opportunity afforded by September roster expansion”.

    I’m rooting for Ruiz to figure things out in AAA (average or better defense, .800+ OPS) and force his way into the everyday lineup at some point this season. If the Braves are going to make themselves into a contender in the coming years, they’ll need to hit on some of the depth/lower ceiling prospects like Ruiz in addition to the high ceiling guys like Albies / Newcomb / Fried.

  95. 95
    Rob Cope Says:

    Let this sink in: Freeman, Kemp, Colon, Garcia, and Dickey account for, it seems, 62.75% of our overall payroll.

    By comparison, Teheran, Folty, Vizcaino, Cabrera, Krol, Paco, Albies, Swanson, Garcia, Phillips, and Flowers account for 18.2%.

    What do you want to bet we don’t finish the season with the old SP on the payroll? The Braves could also do some serious damage in signing young players to extensions if they cleared Kemp’s salary at the deadline too. There could be a windfall of payroll space opening up by the end of the year, and it could nearly guarantee 5-10 years of sustained success if not pumped back into FA. Incredible.

  96. 96
    JohnWDB Says:

    I’m late to this party, but you guys are thinking about it all wrong. I’ve been flamed before for suggesting that we tank, but I never meant to lose intentionally. That’s awful. Tanking happens at the management level, not on the field. You “let the young kids play” and such. Let em try like heck to win, knowing they can’t help but mostly lose. What you don’t do is trade for Kemp or keep JJ down the stretch for meaningless innings.

    Now, if we turn in a storybook season and make the WC and Kemp is the comeback player of the year, I’ll eat my words. But barring that, it was a couple of obvious moves kept us out of the #1-2 pick, not the fact that our players tried too hard.

  97. 97
    Td Says:

    Don’t look now but we have the worst spring training record in the Grapefruit and Cactus League. I know ST stats are useless and I guess it takes older pitchers like Colon and Dickey longer to work out the kinks, but I haven’t seen too many good signs except for O’Flaherty from the pitching side.

  98. 98
    Rob Cope Says:

    Agreed about trading JJ. Trading JJ would have undoubtedly got us that extra loss and the better pick. It also wouldn’t have looked wompy and was in line with management’s strategy. That’s actually a good example of how exactly they would have been able to do that.

  99. 99
    blazon Says:

    Rio Ruiz
    for sounds such as these
    we thank his decedents
    who allowed no impedance.

    @93 if it’s a scoop it must be coop.

  100. 100
    csg Says:

    Ruiz will start in Gwinnett. We won’t carry two 3B only players.

  101. 101
    braves14 Says:

    The reason the Braves traded for Kemp was to get out of Woman Beater’s sunk contract. (and if we’re going to have a sunk contract, at least let it be a guy who has power in a mostly powerless lineup)

    Apparently nobody wanted JJ, after he had blown up the last 2
    times he was traded at the deadline.

  102. 102
    braves14 Says:

    John Danks was released, so we won’t have to worry about him Mark Redmaning for a month.

  103. 103
    braves14 Says:

    Speaking of Mark Redman — Bartolo Colon and RA Dickey have both been awful this spring. Might be meaningless, or it might be 43 year olds showing their age.

  104. 104
    braves14 Says:

    94 — Hopefully Ruiz will outplay Garcia and earn the job at some point this season. Garcia is not
    a bad stopgap but he’s not a championship level everyday player. Actually, I think he’d be more suited as the pinch hitter our team is missing.

  105. 105
    John R. Says:

    Anybody know where Woman Beater currently is swinging a bat? Has he latched on with anyone in Spring Training?

  106. 106
    Rob Cope Says:

    I think Woman Beater is completely out of and done with baseball.

    The only benefit of the current proposed non-catcher bench is that it’s Chase, Jace, and Boner Face. ::rimshot::

  107. 107
    John R. Says:

    @106, If he invested his money wisely he can live the rest of his life in comfort. Of course, he might have invested all his money in a fleet of F***mobiles to cruise around Hollywood. I guess those are comfortable!

  108. 108
    Edward Says:

    Let’s bring back Garret Anderson.

  109. 109
    Rob Cope Says:

    We’d have our Clean Up Hitter, Extraordinaire.

  110. 110
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I’d be willing to believe that it takes a 43-year-old a bit longer to get limber than it does a younger man.

    Knucksie finished 5th in the Cy Young vote when he was 43.

  111. 111
    DG Says:

    Garret Anderson. That brings back memories. I didn’t realize the guy had some fairly impressive career stats.

  112. 112
    blazon Says:

    Ronald Acuna…3 HR’s first 3 at bats today – MiLB

    Jair Jurrgens, ex Chinese Baseball League if i heard right…pitched three decent innings for Nederlands mid-game in the first WBC semi final last night…PR won in 11 via mickey mouse 2 on, no out rule.

  113. 113
    Tanto Says:

    Garrett Anderson was a good player — they signed him for a reason, after all — it’s just that the Braves paid for his retirement tour.

  114. 114
    John R. Says:

    @110, There’s still time for Dickey to develop into the next Phil Niekro, you think?

  115. 115
    coop Says:

    Hail, Szczur. Wherefore art thou, Quintana?

  116. 116
    Td Says:

    Is Szczur looking like he could be in Atlanta? Meh. The real head scratcher on Bowman’s list of trade candidates is Daniel Nava. He is 33 and had one good year in 2013. He hit under 200 in 2015 was barely above that in 2016. At 33 I don’t think his outfield defense is very good either.

  117. 117
    Smitty Says:

    @116

    I think the Cubs may keep him.

    Guys, we have one more week without baseball.

  118. 118
    Rob Cope Says:

    They didn’t start making their minor moves like releasing Bourn, Swisher, Bonifacio, and fungible relievers and signing guys like Stubbs and EOF until the end of March. I think we’ll probably see some trimming moves next week. If not, this bench brings a scourge to Coppy’s folklore of wheelin’ and dealin’.

  119. 119
    Nick Says:

    I’m finding myself really happy about the USA winning the World Baseball Classic. I had a blast watching them over the last two weeks, and the second round game against the Dominican Republic for a spot in the semifinals was a truly exciting game worthy of any playoff Game 7, had a little bit of everything. Yeah, the tournament has some problems which it’s always gonna have if it continues to be played in March (the pitch limits and the insistence on making it as much like a spring training game as possible while still being competitive, etc.), and yeah the championship round (final four teams) should probably be double elimination to keep a theretofore undefeated team from getting eliminated by a team who’s already lost two or three or (less likely, though still possible) four times, but all in all, this tournament is an increasingly positive addition to the baseball calendar. As someone who hates preaseason sports in all its forms and can’t watch spring training games or deal with people reading anything into them whatsoever (There is little as annoying to me as the standard, “I know spring training games don’t mean anything, but…” refrain we constantly hear at this point in the preseason. But nothing, it doesn’t mean anything! Yes, even that one thing you think means something…I promise, it doesn’t.), this tournament is a big positive for this time of year.

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