Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

03 Nov

Where Do We Go From Here? Shortstop

The Incumbent

Dansby Swanson played 142 games at shortstop for the Braves in 2017, interrupted by a July demotion to AAA Gwinnett, at which point he was hitting .213.  Swanson only got 11 games at AAA (batting .237) before a Johan Camargo knee injury prompted his recall.  He finished 2017 with a batting average of .232, which is pretty much in line with what one would expect from a .261 AA hitter (333 at bats in 2016,) and added a .312 on base percentage and a .324 slugging percentage.

Although Swanson tied with Orlando Arcia of Milwaukee for the National League lead in errors with 20, his career Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (UZR/150) is calculated as -0.6, which is essentially league average.  His career 0.9 WAR calculation rates somewhere between replacement level and a starter.

His most similar batter through age 23 is – wait for it – Andres Thomas.  (In fairness, Jay Bell is 2nd.)

Still, Swanson showed offensive promise in limited MLB at bats in 2016, and he now has 696 career Major League plate appearances with a .246/.322/.348 career line.  Like any 24 year old, Swanson should continue to develop offensively, and I feel pretty good these career numbers represent his floor.

Others

Johan Camargo was previously discussed in the 3rd base segment of “Where Do We Go From Here.”  He started 23 games at shortstop as well, essentially taking the job when Swanson was sent to AAA.  Camargo’s career hitting numbers mimic Swanson’s, albeit a year behind.  Both posted unremarkable minor league numbers, followed by an initial major league season that sparked optimism (.299/.331/.452 for Camargo, .302/.361/.442  for Swanson.)  In fairness to Camargo, he had just over double the MLB plate appearances in 2017 that Swanson had in 2016, and he also hit well in AAA in 2017.

Second baseman Ozzie Albies is capable of moving back to shortstop if Swanson and Carmargo both implode.

Prospects

The Braves top shortstop prospects are Kevin Maitan, at age 18, the Braves number 5 prospect and 8th rated MLB shortstop prospect according to MLB.com, and Derian Cruz, age 19, the Braves 20th rated prospect.  Hopefully, they are also the Braves top shortstop prospects in 2019.

Free Agents / Trades

The leading free agents are Zack Cozart and Eduardo Nunez.  http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/free-agents/shortstop/

It is unlikely that the Braves will be in the market for a shortstop, either by free agency or by trade.  As a former #1 pick by the Diamondbacks in the amateur draft in 2015, Swanson will undoubtedly be given a long leash, although it will be interesting to see how long that leash is under the new regime, who will not be personally invested in him.  If the Braves do not go with Camargo at 3rd base, there should be a competition in the Spring for the shortstop job.  It is possible that Swanson would benefit from some more time at AAA; I think he would benefit more from seeing more Major League pitching.  Regardless, if Swanson does go back to AAA, if he is any good, he will be back.  It will be a relief in 2018 if we can see from Swanson some empirical evidence to justify the offensive scouting reports.

130 Responses to “Where Do We Go From Here? Shortstop”

  1. 1
    coop Says:

    I think this is pretty much what Spike said, but Spike said it first.

    https://tomahawktake.com/2017/11/03/atlanta-braves-enter-the-silly-season-on-the-sidelines/

  2. 2
    Rob Cope Says:

    These are really good. Thank you.

    Dansby hit .268/.360/.348 with a 91 wRC+ since his re-call. With that said, he hit .240/.311/.292 in September. He really just had a 3 week period in August where he produced like the RoY candidate many (not just Braves fans) expected him to be. What a plunge in just one short year.

    @137 The only reason I bring up “rebuild or not rebuild” is that we’re just finally far enough away that you can take a side by side of what could have been. I find it interesting that from the end of 2014, we would only have remaining commitments to Freeman, Andrelton, and Kimbrel. As said, Mudge and CJ’s contracts would have ended by now. So we’d be in a world where we wouldn’t have Mudge, CJ, Markakis, or Kemp. What a world that would be. Obviously that’s a big assumption that we wouldn’t have signed a bad contract between then and now.

  3. 3
    Edward Says:

    Rob has gone bizarro. Welcome, Rob Cope, welcome.

  4. 4
    blazon Says:

    Ji-huan Bae, 300K
    we cannot find in your thorough assay
    Coppy left the next day
    perhaps he asked you help him slink away.

    The KBO
    has realized how little they know
    sign AFTER you’re drafted
    soon Dansby will feel he’s the one who got shafted.

  5. 5
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    @4 has there been news on him?

  6. 6
    blazon Says:

    @5

    Yes, a fair bit in Walk-Off Walk. You always get the latest news here though, in verse. Incessantly.

  7. 7
    Rob Cope Says:

    Thanks Edward. It’s good to be here with you.

    More Bizzaro World:

    If you assume that we kept our draft position and philosophy, but don’t have players drafted with traded-for picks or prospects traded for, then the farm is really thin. We wouldn’t have Gohara, Fried, Jackson, Morris, Touki, DPeterson, Demeritte, Ynoa, Burrows, Seymour, and Sanchez, but I think you’d still have Muller and Riley since we would have gotten two competitive balance picks because we would have undoubtedly offered Heyward and JUpton qualifying offers. But that’s 11 of the current 30 MLB.com prospects, so I think you’d really be in a tough spot. You’d also have to wonder if they spend as much on IFAs if they’re competing and wanting to put more payroll towards major leaguers, so that puts Maitan, Gutierrez, Cruz, and Pache in question. And you’d assume we’d have been buyers at the last two deadlines, so we probably have traded a few prospects to fill needs. Things would look really different.

  8. 8
    Rob Cope Says:

    I would totally hold Acuna back for Super 2.

    AFL All Star Game is on right now. Riley, Acuna, and Touki are in it. Touki, if you haven’t heard, has worked almost exclusively from the stretch. I wonder if we’d see him in the pen in ‘18.

  9. 9
    ryan c Says:

    Wait…Spike is Alan?

  10. 10
    ryan c Says:

    I’d love for the Braves to make a 2-3 year run at Zack Cosart, but at 3B rather than SS. However, I just don’t think Cosart leaves SS as he’s still playing great defense there.

  11. 11
    Rusty S. Says:

    @2 – Thanks Rob.

  12. 12
    Rob Cope Says:

    @10 Cosart kinda scares me with a career year fueled almost exclusively by power at age 32. With that said, he could lose a lot of that power and still be the most productive 3B per WAR since 2008 Chipper.

    Austin Riley had a walk and a strikeout in the AFL Fall Star Game, so it was hard to see that bat speed that has been criticized. But man, he absolutely physically fits the role.

    Touki pitched an inning in relief, exclusively from the stretch. The more I watch him, the more I get excited, but more as a reliever than anything. It’d be cool for him to spend a 1/4 of the year at AA, 1/2 the year at AAA, and get some action in Atlanta late season.

    Acuna went 1/4 with a single. And he was caught stealing on a really good throw. He was right up there with Robles in accolades from the announcers and scouts. Even if he just takes most of the 479 PAs that were given to d’Arnaud, Bonifacio, Santana, MAdams, SRod and Peterson, he will be such a huge improvement. That’s a cluster of PAs that produced -1.1 WAR that could easily swing to a 2 WAR+ production.

  13. 13
    krussell Says:

    This is going to be a long offseason. Waiting until mid-June for Acuna is going to make it seem that much longer.

  14. 14
    John R. Says:

    Mike Minor has turned down his player option and is hitting the market as a free agent.

  15. 15
    Rob Cope Says:

    His option was $10M. We’ve now gone from “Wren just drafted soft tossing college lefties like Mike Minor” to “Minor is declining a $10M option so he can hit the free agency market as a closer”. Just weird, man.

    Give to Coppy, though. There is considerable diversity in his drafts. High school hitters, college hitters. High school pitchers, college pitchers. Up-the-middle emphasis, corner spots. West coast, east coast. South, north. United States, Canada. They’ve got everybody in there.

  16. 16
    Adam R Says:

    Probably right now, Blakeley is exacting revenge by spilling all the beans to MLB.

  17. 17
    Dusty Says:

    We were at the Bellagio this weekend, so of course I went ahead and doomed our 2018 season by putting down a bet on ATL to the win the WS at 100:1.

  18. 18
    Rob Cope Says:

    So ZIPS has us at a 80-win season next year. Nationals winning 89 games. Marlins 80. Phils 79. Mets 76. I don’t know the other East teams finances as well, but it’s early in the offseason and we have a lot of money coming off the books. Nationals have shed Werth’s $20M. The Marlins will shed everyone making more than the minimum it seems. Phils, though, seem to be as deleveraged as just about any team in baseball. No one’s making any money there, so they could be in for a big splash this offseason. The Mets don’t seem to be clearing any payroll space of note.

    Apparently ZIPS had us at 68 wins last year, so they weren’t too far off.

  19. 19
    Rob Cope Says:

    (By the way, if we exceeded ZIPS’ win total by 4 last year, and ZIPS has us at 80 for next year, then that would definitely suggest we’ll win in the 80’s next year. Don’t tell gaz. Shhh.)

  20. 20
    krussell Says:

    I think the projections will be a lot better when we know who’s on the team.

  21. 21
    Td Says:

    So the mlb site says we may be interested in Todd Frazier at 3rd base. Why would anyone want a 3rd baseman with a career average / ops of .245 / .779?

    The guy hit .225 in 2016 and despite 40 hrs, managed a .767 ops. 2017 saw him hit 27 hrs with a .213 / .772. I think Adonis can do better and I can’t stand Adonis.

  22. 22
    Rob Cope Says:

    Yeah, and MLBTR says we’re going after Moustakas. Honestly, I think it’s national writers knowing 1) we have money to spend 2) we have most positions already filled (in theory) 3) we’re rebuilding through pitching and 4) we don’t have a 3B. So they’re just connecting us to 3B. But I hope we don’t commit long-term to Moustakas or Frazier.

  23. 23
    Dusty Says:

    Wouldn’t mind Frazier on a 1 or 2 year deal actually. Good stopgap to Riley.

  24. 24
    blazon Says:

    @20 thru 23

    Frazier was instrumental in the Yankees getting as close as they did to the American League pennant. Watching any of those post season games it was clear he ruled their roost and they wanted him to. Some big clutch hits and decent defense didn’t hurt. Over 162 maybe that effect dilutes somewhat.

    .245 is hardly the point. There is no metric for inspiration nor will there ever be. Thank god. You only had to use your eyes.

  25. 25
    blazon Says:

    Billy Beane
    is now widely quoted on the Euro soccer scene
    as representative of a sort-
    teams strangely constructed to be always one or two short.

  26. 26
    blazon Says:

    After the Panama Papers we now have the Paradise Papers.

    Giancarlo Stanton
    en route to Canton
    banks in Paradiso
    ensuring no one can see so.

  27. 27
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Where’s the “no politics” crying birds?

  28. 28
    Rob Cope Says:

    He’s paid us all off.

  29. 29
    gaz Says:

    When they win 72 again I’ll be the guy sitting here saying I told you so.

  30. 30
    krussell Says:

    I’ll wait until I know who’s on the 25-man before predicting anything. 72 might be a tad high if they don’t do anything substantial – which is a very real possibility. The FA market is better next offseason.

  31. 31
    Rob Cope Says:

    Yeah, I’m sure the 5th or 6th youngest team in MLB graduating the #1 farm in baseball won’t get any better. Those 19-20 guys aged 28 or younger will probably regress on the aggregate. I’ll call Vegas.

  32. 32
    Rob Cope Says:

    Ya know what. Ya know what. When there’s the pancake brunch for the greatest fans of the 2020 World Series-winning Atlanta Braves, YOU. WON’T. BE. INVITED!

    Yeah. Drink it down.

  33. 33
    Edward Says:

    @27, I think I see one @27

  34. 34
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    We know your type can’t think.

  35. 35
    blazon Says:

    No one caught Canton – anything for a rhyme.

  36. 36
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    @30 and @31 Realistically, I think there is just as much chance of the team being worse this coming season than better. Dickey was at least around replacement level. Fried might turn into a pumpkin, Gohara could have a sophomore slump, inability to move Kemp or Markakis, Swanson continues to suck, the catchers come back to earth, etc. etc.

    I’ll go with 75 wins depending on who if anyone they sign in FA. Which I’m expecting a couple LOOGYs/ROOGYs and a 4th OF type.

  37. 37
    gaz Says:

    @32

    I’m sure you’ll be first in line but when they don’t contend you can just keep moving the goal posts on and on and on forever!

    @36

    The 2017 team was a 68 win team that won 72 because they played in an awful division. I’m giving them incremental improvement assuming things like Acuna makes the team as a 20 year old and is reasonably productive and Swanson somewhat figures his shit out and maybe they sign someone competent to play 3B but the team isn’t winning close to 80 unless they get consistent starting pitching and that doesn’t seem likely.

  38. 38
    J Leeds (oi!) Says:

    When I look at the roster from the end of 2017, and what the most likely changes are for 2018, I see a very high variance. Swanson, Camargo, and Albies could all be extremely valuable players, or they could all look like Swanson did outside of the 3 weeks in August. Acuna is in a similar situation. And the concern is that there aren’t any other choices if they suck; we’ll be watching those guys one way or the other.

    Most of the starting rotation candidates are similarly unproven, but at least we have something like a million candidates. I’d say 80 wins makes sense as a median, but I could see them winning 60-65, or 90+, depending on how it shakes out.

  39. 39
    Rob Cope Says:

    And the concern is that there aren’t any other choices if they suck; we’ll be watching those guys one way or the other.

    That’s what really makes this difficult. And with no GM, I think it drives people crazy. You’re going to spend $20-30M this offseason somewhere. Unless it’s used to eat Kakes/Kemp salaries (not a bad thing), some of those risks are hedged. I don’t think any reasonable person would say that all of our young players will soar, but it’s also unreasonable to say all of the bad things will happen.

  40. 40
    J Leeds (oi!) Says:

    I expect Camargo to return to his pre-2017 form, and for Swanson to continue to not be even replacement level. I expect Albies to continue to perform well, and for Acuna to be at least an average contributor at the MLB level for most of 2017. (I don’t know that Acuna is on the opening day roster for control purposes.) I don’t expect the catchers to replicate 2017, but I also don’t expect them to fall off a cliff. I have my doubts that there’s an ace starter anywhere in the pile of pitching prospects, but that’s mostly because I work from the assumption that young pitchers are fragile and never work out.

    I’m expecting a win total in the 70s. Which, considering that the team was supposed to be at contention level in 2017, is not a good thing. I said before 2017 that the definition of success for the season was going to be for a number of the prospects to prove that they would be MLB regulars moving forward, especially the pitchers. Swanson did not prove anything, and overall the pitching prospects didn’t either. (I wanted to see someone forcing their way onto the roster in midsummer, not getting called up despite pedestrian numbers in the minors like Newcomb.) So, now we’re getting ready for 2018, and I think we have the exact same definition of success for the season. We need to see whether the infielders are for real. We need to see whether Acuna is for real. And we need to see young pitchers forcing their way into the rotation.

    There’s certainly time for the corner to be turned, but at some point these guys need to make that leap forward. (Prospects have to turn into players, one way or another. One of the underrated abilities the 1990s front office had was the ability to evaluate their prospects really well. A lot of hot prospects were traded for players, and very few of them amounted to anything.) And a couple of players need to turn into stars. Albies and Acuna seem like the best candidates for that….

  41. 41
    Rob Cope Says:

    Steamer agrees with your assessments on Camargo and the catching duo. Sadly, they have every single position player regressing to some extent, including several falling off cliffs. So we have that going for us…

  42. 42
    Adam R Says:

    Swanson did not prove anything, and overall the pitching prospects didn’t either. (I wanted to see someone forcing their way onto the roster in midsummer, not getting called up despite pedestrian numbers in the minors like Newcomb.)

    Gohara?

  43. 43
    Rob Cope Says:

    Even Fried. His ERA was poor at AA, but his FIP was decent (4.08), and the Braves clearly chalked a lot of it up to his blisters and back problem. They could have just thrown Sims more if they wanted someone to eat innings, but Fried seemed to earn the promotion in their eyes. Steamer also really likes Gohara and Newcomb next year.

  44. 44
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    I will bet Flowers and Suzuki register 1/3 the WAR they did this season…

  45. 45
    Rob Cope Says:

    @44

    What was their WAR last year Chief?

  46. 46
    allstarmatches Says:

    Mid-70’s seems about right. I agree a lot will turn on starting pitching. If we go through another year of none of the kids distinguishing themselves it could get ugly.

    And if we’re sitting here this time next year having won 68 games, with still no SP prospects looking like top-half of the rotation guys, it’ll be time to activate panic mode on the rebuild. Next year is important.

  47. 47
    Dusty Says:

    Now it’s is being said that we won’t know penalties for ATL until after the GM meetings next week. Ugh.

  48. 48
    braves14 Says:

    Roy Halliday’s plane was crashed and there is an unidentified body.

  49. 49
    Rob Cope Says:

    He’s been reported dead by Pasco Sheriff. Very sad.

  50. 50
    spike Says:

    https://deadspin.com/roy-halladay-killed-in-plane-crash-1820229860

  51. 51
    braves14 Says:

    He was one of the greatest pitchers of his generation, and from all accounts was a very classy guy. Awful.

  52. 52
    Rob Cope Says:

    He coached at the school I used to coach at. He was very well-liked.

  53. 53
    sdp Says:

    Jesus Christ.

  54. 54
    Donny Says:

    I’ll just leave this here as we all take a moment to reflect on Halladay’s unexpected death.

    “Life is all about perspective and how you choose to see things and your attitude toward them! Broke down on the Hwy or a day at the beach?” – Roy Halladay the day his car broke down

    Killed in a plane crash or spent his last moments doing the thing he absolutely loved to do above everything else?

  55. 55
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    @45 2.2 and 2.8 for a total of 5.0.

    I’ll predict one of them will be around 1 (Flowers) and the other (Suzuki) maybe 1.5-1.9.

  56. 56
    Td Says:

    Very sad about Halliday.

    I think we can have a good team if we could find a really good 3rd baseman and replace one of our pitchers (likely Teheran) with a huge upgrade. All indications so far say that probably won’t happen, but for once maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  57. 57
    Rob Cope Says:

    Interested to see what happens with Arrieta. He’s a long ways away from his 2015 production. You’d have thought he’d be a $30M per pitcher, but his rate and term now is interesting.

    Can we have a freaking GM already?!

  58. 58
    Rob Cope Says:

    Ender won his second Gold Glove!

  59. 59
    John R. Says:

    With a W-L record of 203-105, Roy Halladay was #19 in the all-time rankings of winning percentage with 65.9%, a smidge above Roger Clemens at #20. Truly, he was a guy who “knew how to win.”

  60. 60
    Mikemc Says:

    @ 47 Do teams without GMs attend the GM meeting?

  61. 61
    blazon Says:

    @60
    question of the month

    GM
    appoint me before that diem
    else how will we find
    what others we must now leave behind.

  62. 62
    ryan c Says:

    Is it possible to trade Matt Kemp? I’m glad you asked because here are some scenarios (personally, I think my own is the most realistic):
    https://walkoffwalk.net/2017/11/08/matt-kemp-trade-proposals/

  63. 63
    csg Says:

    Replacement level player with an awful contract. Trade him to be a DH, eat a lot of cash, and you may get back a C+ prospect. Outside of that, I’m not optimistic.

  64. 64
    J Leeds (oi!) Says:

    @62, I have to agree with Brandon’s statement. Just cut Kemp.

  65. 65
    spike Says:

    Not the Liberty Braves Way. Must be packaged with a good player to avoid any financial hit.

  66. 66
    J Leeds (oi!) Says:

    I’m sure that you’re right, spike. And that’s why I don’t have much faith in this rebuild. The Braves have traded away too many valuable players just to make bad contracts go away. Kimbrel, JUpton, etc could have brought back more value if the Braves had just eaten the bad contracts.

  67. 67
    Rob Cope Says:

    Even for a crrraaazy guy like me that thinks this team will eclipse the lofty round number of 80, I still don’t see the incentive for dumping Kemp right now. We’re not going anywhere, we’re not contending, and we don’t have anyone legitimately better ready to play LF. For about 2/3 of the PAs Kemp’s had in a Braves uniform, he’s been a .850 OPS+, middle-of-the-order hitter that we really need. If you cut him, you gain nothing. He should be playing every inning until we have someone ready to take his place.

  68. 68
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    @67, to be honest what Kemp really needs is to get his arse in shape. He’s fat, not conditioned and perhaps his injuries didn’t allow him to not be.

    The Braves should INSIST though, that he do so. It’s kind of a joke, to be honest. Hire a damn personal chef/trainer and get your butt in shape. Be professional.

    If he is in shape, he is somewhat worth keeping. If not, nope.

  69. 69
    Rob Cope Says:

    @68

    I couldn’t agree more. Implore him to get him in shape, don’t start him in cold weather if you now know he’s susceptible to injury, and give him a good caddy like Nick Markakis or Lane Adams or anyone not named Jace Peterson, Danny Santana, Emilio Bonifacio, or Chase d’Arnaud. My ideal world continues to be 1/3 of the cumulatives PAs in LF and RF given almost equally to Kemp/Kakes/Acuna.

    Fun fact: Atlanta OF were the 4th least powerful OF in baseball last year and third in singles, according to Chopcast. A healthy Kemp, an emerging Acuna, and Markakis as the best 4th OF in baseball could make a huge dent in the power numbers.

  70. 70
    Td Says:

    68/69 – I’m in violent agreement with both of you. It really concerns me actually. An in shape Kemp to go along with Acuna and Inciarte should be a pretty good hitting and fielding outfield. Of course the fielding part would be the other 2 making up for Kemp’s deficiencies. A 25 HR 3rd baseman to go along with Acuna hitting 20 hrs improves our team tremendously.

  71. 71
    snowshine Says:

    @65-66 We bundled Kimbrel with Mudge to get him gone: we have not made any other such move nor will we. The financial constraints of 2014-15 are no longer a thing. Since then we have repeatedly taken bad contracts to extract extra value from trades.

  72. 72
    Donny Says:

    @68/69 I don’t see what more the Braves could do that would get Kemp to stay in shape. It seems like every offseason, the team mouthpiece publishes a piece calling Kemp fat/out of shape with a request for him to take things seriously. And at the start of the season, the guy looks like he might be in better shape, but nah…

    The only motivators I can think of that would prove effective are not legal… :)

  73. 73
    blazon Says:

    Excellent rehabilitation of the Kemp mystique. Complete agreement. Remember that frigid dive in Pittsburgh, total commitment. The game where the other guys played an illegal. We don’t do things like that.

  74. 74
    blazon Says:

    Oh Tani Boy
    the hypes, the hypes are calling
    NY/LA? there is another side.
    The summer’s gone
    and all the peeves are falling
    to hit? to pitch? they’ll not let you decide.

    So come you here, Tanaka in his Boeing
    demand the earth and watch the fearful hide
    when all seems lost get to Atlanta going
    Oh Tani Boy, Oh Tani Boy, Oh what a ride.

  75. 75
    blazon Says:

    seventeen four
    well, it’s higher than before
    and still you decline?
    you’re clearly no friend of mine.

  76. 76
    coop Says:

    Clever, blazon. One of your better.

    I agree re Kemp. However, I wish we’d find him a no kill shelter in the American League and pay half his freight just to get him out of Atlanta.

  77. 77
    blazon Says:

    @76

    ‘better’ coop? i feel i’m back at school. You yourself have been flourishing here of late i note – when can we expect to see you in verse? See my @75 – hardly brain surgery, eh? Let’s have you. It’s hiding under a bushel, i’m sure of that. Cheers.

  78. 78
    ryan c Says:

    A person that suffers from arthritis in numerous body parts cannot stay in good shape when playing daily. If Kemp’s going to keep his weight down, he’s going to need regular rest and a platoon partner that takes at least 50% of the playing time.

    It’s easy to jump on the “get healthy for the love of GOD, Kemp!” bandwagon but it’s just not that easy for him with his injury history.

    And a reminder…he lost 25 pounds in the offseason. Playing everyday in the field is not an option that works for him.

  79. 79
    Dusty Says:

    Crasnik says we won’t know penalties until December now…

  80. 80
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    It’s easy to jump on the “get healthy for the love of GOD, Kemp!” bandwagon but it’s just not that easy for him with his injury history.

    I’m reminded of the stories that came out about how bad David Ortiz feet were in his final season. The entire year people were aghast that he wasn’t playing more often and that he was going to retire after hitting more or less like David Ortiz always did. Turns out his feet were sort of rotting off and simply walking was a medical miracle every night.

    Kemp breaks down over the course of the season. One of the things that you lose when your body starts cycling through a chained breakdown, especially one that focuses on leg problems, is…cardio. All of this “KEMP IS A FAT FUCK HE MUST COMMIT TO HONORABLE SERVICE OR DIE!!!” bullshit is just keyboard warriors who couldn’t catch up to a 55 mph Little League heater, much less chase down gappers in the OF, circle jerking into their Krispy Kreme wrappers.

  81. 81
    Game, Blauser Says:

    @80 Sam – Most players have trouble maintaining weight through the season due to the physical demands of playing baseball (which, after all, involves bodily activity for hours each day), but Kemp appeared to have gained at least 20 pounds during the course of the 2017 season. Kemp’s pattern of in-season weight gain is a drastic outlier, which requires one to ask why it is that essentially every other player – including those with hamstring issues and other injuries – can manage something that Kemp cannot.

    I have no inside knowledge of the causes behind Kemp’s expansion/contraction processes, but neither do you. However, it is perfectly fair to expect that a baseball player (especially one making $20M a year) make every effort to stay in game shape. Braves fans suspect, for good reason, that Kemp’s weight issues stem from lack of effort.

    All of that said, it’s perfectly possible that Kemp’s weight gain this season had little or no bearing upon his 2nd half fade – hitting is hard to do without functional legs. It’s pretty clear that his body just can’t hold up for 140-150 games in the field anymore, and that he’d benefit from getting at least a few days off a week (or DH’ing ideally).

  82. 82
    Edward Says:

    From sympathy for athletes in pain to an imaginary ritual soiling of donut bags in a single post. The peaks and troughs of Sam Hutcheson, everyone.

  83. 83
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    @80 I’m 42 now but played OF at a high level good enough to get a small school scholarship offer who also happened to play in a storied AL program with 8 all time state championships, but continue on with that narrative.

    I’m pretty sure that I could outrun Matt Kemp now. And that if I had 7 possibly 8 figures in my checking account that I could hire a chef and trainer and would have enough personal pride to not be fat wearing a MLB uniform.

  84. 84
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    You should try out, then.

  85. 85
    Donny Says:

    @83 I got no excuses. I put on another 25 lbs over the course of last season too. Watching Kemp hit in the second half requires a lot of beer.

  86. 86
    Td Says:

    What do you guys think about us going after Neil Walker as a free agent 3rd baseman? From what I see he’s a lock to hit between 260 and 280 and hit 20 to 25 home runs with an OPS around 800. Not a superstar, but better than anyone we have now. Only problem is I don’t know if he can handle 3rd. Most of his starts have been at 2nd.

  87. 87
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Neil Walker would be this year’s Sean Rodriguez.

  88. 88
    braves14 Says:

    Another option is to platoon Markakis and Kemp in LF while giving Acuna the everyday job in RF. I don’t see the Braves doing that, though. The organization hasn’t done platoons at all since Bobby Cox retired.

  89. 89
    Rob Cope Says:

    There has got to be a way to keep Kemp healthy enough to get 400 PAs at his best production. Play in good weather, defensive replacement, days off, DH’ing against AL teams. Figure it out.

  90. 90
    ryan c Says:

    @88
    This would be a pretty logical choice should they not be able to rid themselves of either, but Snitker is all about everyday guys…however, one should show him Kemp’s numbers pre and post June 2nd. He needs regular rest.

  91. 91
    Rob Cope Says:

    @87

    I look forward to having an irrational love affair with Neil Walker.

  92. 92
    Td Says:

    @87 – Do you say that because of injuries? When he’s been healthy his numbers have been extremely consistent over most of the last 4 to 5 years.

  93. 93
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Markakis didn’t have any real platoon split last year. He was slightly more effective vs RHP.

    Kemp had a reverse split, being far more effective against RHP. He was horrible vs LHP.

  94. 94
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I say that (about Walker) because he’s a moderate upgrade who can play multiple infield positions, at best. He’s a useful player, but he’s not a guy that fixes a team like the current Braves, IMHO.

    Kemp got 467 at bats last year.

  95. 95
    Td Says:

    Agreed about Walker. It just seems that if we’re looking at Riley or someone else as the long term solution he could be a significant upgrade to what we have and we could trade him when someone develops, as long as we don’t sign him to a crazy contract.

  96. 96
    Rob Cope Says:

    @94

    Productive and healthy PAs.

  97. 97
    braves14 Says:

    93 — It’s not necessarily to get them PAs only against opposite handed pitchers, but a way to give them each more rest so that they could be more effective.

  98. 98
    braves14 Says:

    For some reason the beat writers are acting like the bullpen is our biggest problem. I guess LOOGYs are more important than the gaping hole at 3b.

  99. 99
    ryan c Says:

    Although both show pretty significant splits across their careers (which, to avoid SSS, that’s what I’d use or at least the last 3 years), the purpose of the platoon wouldn’t be to be strict with the handedness, rather keeping Kemp healthy. I broke this down before, but here’s what I could see if the roster was used well and all were healthy:
    Ender Inciarte: 150 games started
    Ronald Acuna: 140 games started (12 in CF, 128 in RF)
    Matt Kemp: 95 games started (85 in LF, 10 at DH)
    Nick Markakis: 95 games started (72 in LF, 23 in RF)
    Lane Adams: 20ish games started around the diamond

  100. 100
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I have no problem using Markakis as a 4th OF, mostly to spell a gimpy Kemp or to get the rookie Acuna some rest. I just don’t think that’s what the world “platoon” means.

  101. 101
    csg Says:

    I tend to agree with the beat writers that our bullpen is potentially our biggest problem

  102. 102
    Rob Cope Says:

    Plus, relievers are short term commitments.

  103. 103
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    @101 Relievers are fungible. Corner OFs and 3B are NOT.

    IOW, no way.

  104. 104
    Rob Cope Says:

    @103 I’m really inclined to believe that until we kept throwing hard throwers in the pen for 3 straight seasons and we continue to have one of the league’s worst pens. A dominant pen through signing veterans (MLB.com had another article linking us to Addison Reed and Anthony Swarzak) would be a really good way to bridge the gap towards contention without blocking the real “core” of the team (SP prospects, Acuna, Albies, Swanson, etc.). And weighed against other options like signing a solid 3B long-term or signing a SP and blocking Max Fried, throwing money for a year at the pen is not a bad idea. If Teheran, Folty, and Newcomb continue to be consistently unable to pitch deep into games (the trio averaged 5 1/3 innings per start), then you’re just going to have to have 7 horses in the pen or you don’t have a baseball squad.

  105. 105
    Rob Cope Says:

    And let’s honest; is anyone really married to the back end of the pen FIPsters? Pretty compelling argument that there’s a lot of frauds with shiny ERAs.

  106. 106
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    *MLB continues to become a power reliever driven league*

    *people who complain about Braves losses complain that they want better relievers…*

  107. 107
    ryan c Says:

    2017 and 2018 bullpens should be drastically different. There are real bullpen arms that are about to come through the system, not retreads. Corbin Clouse, Devan Watts, Jacob Lindgren… these guys are legit, IMO.

  108. 108
    Rob Cope Says:

    I really don’t think Clouse or Watts pitch a significant amount of innings in 2018. Clouse has 22 IP in AA, and Watts 32 IP. They look great, and they’re quick risers, but with the money we have to spend, I don’t think we should have a $9M bullpen with JJ occupying so much of it.

  109. 109
    krussell Says:

    Where do you spend the money this season? Riley is probably a September call-up. That leaves pitching and LF.

  110. 110
    ryan c Says:

    Otani’s Japan team (Nippon Ham Fighters) have given him permission to sign with an MLB team. JJ Cooper thinks $ isn’t going to be a deciding factor. If you are the Braves, what’s your pitch?

  111. 111
    Adam R Says:

    “Kawakami? Who dat?”

  112. 112
    cph Says:

    @110 – I would happily rename the team the Atlanta Ham Fighters in his honor.

  113. 113
    Edward Says:

    “Hate those pesky general managers always bothering you about money when you’re trying to relax? Atlanta is committed to a completely GM-free experience.”

  114. 114
    csg Says:

    #103 – I agree with your statement. However, I don’t think that’s what the mouthpieces are saying. Upgrading the bullpen group will add more overall value next year than a 2yr stop gap for Riley. Camargo/Ruiz may offer a decent platoon.

    I also agree with Ryan that a lot of the bullpen upgrades will be in house options.

  115. 115
    spike Says:

    Maw! The ranch is saved!

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/11/braves-hire-walt-weiss-bench-coach.html

  116. 116
    Dusty Says:

    Dob drops this bombshell:

    “While a report in late October quoted anonymous sources saying Hart had been essentially cleared by MLB, subsequent developments called that premise into question. A person close to the situation said at least one Braves employee who was with the team during the time of the alleged infractions informed MLB that Hart knew what Coppolella was doing on the international free-agent market and didn’t just ignore it, but approved of it.”

  117. 117
    csg Says:

    #116 – In which we can now ask the question, why is Hart still on the payroll?

  118. 118
    csg Says:

    Probably another reason why Coppy has hired a group of lawyers.

  119. 119
    Rob Cope Says:

    So freaking done with this. Are we cheering for a baseball team or watching Law and Order? It’s crazy that the Braves don’t seem to understand how bad this all looks. Why isn’t JS at least giving some empty reassurances to fans?

  120. 120
    c. shorter Says:

    “Oh, Johnny, I forgot you were there. You may go now.”

  121. 121
    Adam R Says:

    Dob drops this bombshell:

    Blakeley obviously went back and snitched.

    In which we can now ask the question, why is Hart still on the payroll?

    The team isn’t announcing anything because they’re probably stealthily scrambling to get the next guy lined up before the news became public and they’d be forced to fire Hart with no one really ready to step in.

    It’s crazy that the Braves don’t seem to understand how bad this all looks.

    I guess you can’t begrudge Hart hoping to save his own ass? I hope the extra couple paychecks were worth it to him.

  122. 122
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    When they put a winning team on the field again absolutely no one will care about this saga.

  123. 123
    John R. Says:

    Walt Weiss is bench coach, but also Eric Young, Sr is in as 1B coach and Sal Fasano catching coach. TP and Eddie Perez have been offered “other jobs within the organization.” Hmm…

    Seitzer, Washington and Hernandez will all be back in their respective roles. I assumed Ron Washington would move on if Snitker kept the job but I was wrong about that.

  124. 124
    Askia Says:

    @122: Presumably putting a winning team on the field again requires someone in the front office who knows what they are doing.

  125. 125
    Kirk H. Says:

    Doesn’t matter whether Hart knew (was complicit) or didn’t know (wasn’t engaged). Either way, he has to go.

  126. 126
    John R. Says:

    Again I ask, didn’t Hart come on board after Wren was canned under the premise that he’d only be around 3 or so years? If I’m remembering that correctly, did that change?

  127. 127
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Hart was hired before Wren was canned. He extended Freddie, Julio, etc.

  128. 128
    oldtimer? Says:

    I want Stanton.
    Stanton, Acuna, Ender is a crazy OF.
    Send Riley and a few pitchers over.

  129. 129
    Rusty S. Says:

    New thread.

  130. 130
    snowshine Says:

    We want Stanton if,and only if, he promises to opt out after 3 years. I dont even want to think about year 11 of that time bomb of a contract.

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