Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

23 Mar

Pre Season Predictions (by Smitty)

We only have one more week until November without meaningful baseball. So let’s have some fun as we run out the clock. I went to see my barber and he gave me a rundown of how all this will fold out, along with a straight shave.

Let’s have your prediction on the following (my predictions in italics):

Braves Record: 75-87

Date we see Ozzie Albies: July 31

Braves Team Leaders in:

Division winners:

  • NL East:    Mets 
  • NL Central:   Cubs 
  • NL West:   Dodgers 
  • AL East: Red Sox
  • AL Central: Indians
  • AL West:  Rangers
  • NL WCs:   Nats, Giants
  • AL Wild Cards:  Yankees, Astros

NL MVP:  Anthony Rizzo 
AL MVP: Gary Sanchez

NL Cy Young:   Jon Lester
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber

NL ROY: Dansby Swanson
AL ROY: Andrew Benintendi

NLCS- Cubs over Mets
ALCS- Astros over Indians

World Series- Cubs over Astros in 6 games

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 [])
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.

01 Mar


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 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.

24 Feb

One Day from the First Meaningless Game of the Spring!

Well — it’s been WAY too long since I posted a new thread. Sorry about that. But spring training has started, and that’s wonderful, because it means that we’re almost about to have more BASEBALL!


Mac’s traditional caveats apply: spring training doesn’t matter, blah blah blah. (Or, some of it matters sometimes, but most of it doesn’t matter, and generally speaking, most individual stats compiled during spring training give very little indication as to how a player will perform during the year.)

But tomorrow the Braves take on the Blue Jays, and we’ll get to see (or at least hear) Bartolo Colon‘s first start in an Atlanta uniform, and see whether Big Sexy is actually even better-looking than either of our Big Handsomes, Aaron Harang and Aaron Blair.


06 Feb

The Little Deals (Part 2)

Ed. note: this is continued from Part 1.

11. Cameron Maybin for Gabe Speier and Ian Krol

Essentially Maybin, a league average centerfielder, for Krol, a lefty specialist. Speier was a balancer in the Shelby/Dansby trade.

12. Ryne Harper for Jose Ramirez

Ramirez was not thought of much at the time, not even after his first stint with Atlanta, but he finished the second half of 2016 strong and figures to play a role in the 2017 bullpen. He has an above-average fastball, and he was essentially acquired for nothing.

13. Christian Bethancourt for Ricardo Rodriguez and Casey Kelly

The Braves gave up on a former top prospect, Bethancourt, to receive a semi-live arm in the form of former top prospect Casey Kelly. Kelly did nothing for Atlanta, and was subsequently released.

14. Nate Freiman for Tyler Moore

Journeyman filler for journeyman filler. Nothing much to report.

15. Jhoulys Chacin for Adam McCreery

Chacin’s 5 decent starts for Atlanta allowed them to receive a live arm in return. The live arm has been more dead than alive, as he’s now a 24-year old who is struggling in low-A.

16. Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek for Brian Matusz and 2016 Competitive Balance Round B Pick

Barker had a strong 8 start stretch in the early part of 2016, and the Braves capitalized on that by packaging him up with Brian Matusz’s contract to land a competitive balance B pick that would later turn into Brett Cumberland, a college catcher who is currently the Braves’ 29th-best prospect on Pipeline.

17. Jason Grilli for Sean Ratcliffe

Grilli’s slow start in 2016 led the Braves to dump his salary and pick up a live arm. They released Ratcliffe later.

18. Kelly Johnson for Akeel Morris

After Kelly’s third stint with the Braves, they traded him to the Mets for a second time for Morris, who is a solid relief prospect for Atlanta. He’s currently the 25th-best prospect according to Pipeline, and could have a spot in Atlanta’s bullpen as early as 2017.

19. Alec Grosser, Dian Toscano, Bud Norris and cash for Caleb Dirks and Phil Pfeifer

Norris, after a terrible start in the rotation, had a strong rebound as a swingman, and the Braves got two relief prospects along with dumping Toscano’s salary. This was the second Dirks transaction, as the Braves traded him the year previous for international pool money.

20. Dario Alvarez and Lucas Harrell for Travis Demeritte

Alvarez and Harrell were two classic flashes in the pan, the second of whom had been without a team two months before, and in return, the Braves received a legitimate second-base prospect with a plus tool (power). Demeritte is now the 9th-best prospect on Pipeline. He currently strikes out too much, but if his K rate improves, he could become a major piece of Atlanta’s future.

21. Hunter Cervenka for Michael Mader and Anfernee Seymour

Cervenka, a below the radar signee out of a Texas independent league, had a strong 2/3 of the season as a mostly lefty specialist. Anfernee Seymour has a plus tool (speed) and is the 20th-best prospect in the system. Mader is an interesting lefty starter who pitched well in brief duty at AA. If the Braves didn’t have several strong lefty starting pitching prospects, Mader would be getting more attention. He’s a sleeper in Atlanta’s deep system.

22. Erick Aybar for Kade Scivicque and Mike Aviles

The forgettable Aybar experiment ended with the Braves getting a catching prospect and salary dump in return. Scivicque has a good reputation as a defensive catcher who is still getting his bat going. Scivicque could have a career as a backup catcher.

23. Jeff Francoeur for Dylan Moore and Matt Foley

Frenchy, in his second stint with the Braves, was exchanged for an interesting first baseman/outfielder having a strong season at 23 at high-A, and Foley, a catcher with some upside.

24. PTBNL for Joe Weiland

After pain-stakingly enduring 21 days in between trades, Coppy couldn’t contain himself any further and traded for Weiland, who was released less than a month later.

25. Gordon Beckham for Richard Rodriguez

Gordon Beckham, who is not good, returned a player who needs no introduction, because he doesn’t have one.

26. Max Povse and Rob Whalen for Alex Jackson and Tyler Pike

The Braves would have gone into 2017 with several question marks in the rotation. To mitigate that risk, they acquired three veteran starting pitchers. But left with several high-minors pitching prospects with low ceilings and not enough opportunity, they decided to consolidate by getting former first round pick and top prospect Alex Jackson. His bat and career stalled as he was moved to the outfield, and the Braves hope that a change of scenery and a move back to catcher, his original position, will both revive his career and the Braves’ minor league catching situation. Povse and Whalen largely didn’t have a future in Atlanta, but Jackson does if he can prove he can handle it.

27. Luke Dykstra, Chris Ellis, and John Gant for Jaime Garcia

More pitching consolidation as the Braves packaged more low-ceiling pitching talent to help the major league roster and better use the glut of pitching they acquired. Dykstra is the interesting, forgotten player in this deal, and he could be a utility player one day. Garcia solves the need for consistency (and a lefty starter) for the Braves’ 2017 team.

28. Brady Feigl and Tyrell Jenkins for Luke Jackson

Jenkins was another pitcher who had lost his spot in Atlanta, and with the Braves wanting more high-upside prospects, they took back Luke Jackson, who possesses an above-average heater and the potential to stick in Atlanta’s bullpen.

29. Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith for Thomas Burrows and Luiz Gohara

Mallex Smith, a fan favorite and believed by lunatics to have the ceiling of Rock Raines, was largely void of a regular spot on Atlanta’s roster, so the Braves continued to collect high-ceiling pitching prospects by getting one of Seattle’s top prospects in Gohara. Keith Law declared Gohara one of his top 100 prospects, and Burrows appears to be an interesting lefty bullpen prospect who could rise quickly. Simmons, who was once considered a top prospect, could never stay healthy enough to earn the confidence of Atlanta. Mallex was later traded again to Tampa Bay.

30. PTBNL for Micah Johnson

In an effort to replace Mallex Smith, who had appeared to be on track to be the 4th outfielder in 2017, they received Micah Johnson, a speedy left-hander who can hit righties and play second base and centerfield. With a proposed 4-man bench, Johnson’s versatility could make an ideal backup for Inciarte while providing more flexibility than Mallex could have.

02 Feb

The Little Deals of the Rebuild (Part 1)

It can be hard to remember all of the little deals that Coppy has made, especially when he’s made so many, and so many have included more significant players. But the small deals have been where Coppy has been able to increase the breadth and depth of the farm system, and if not for these deals, we wouldn’t have some pieces in place that could play a role in the next great Braves team. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of every exchange of talent the team has made since the rebuild began, but it will still include most deals that don’t involve an important major league player.

1. Tommy La Stella for Arodys Vizcaino

As time would tell, Coppy was intent on trading low-ceiling players for high-ceiling prospects and other young players. Vizcaino was previously acquired in the Melky Cabrera/Javier Vazquez deal, and was then traded for Paul Maholm. When healthy, Vizcaino is a top reliever in the game, but is struggling to consistently stay healthy. La Stella played an important role in the Cubs’ World Series team, but the Braves should be happy with the trade.

2. Anthony Varvaro for Aaron Kurcz and Cash

Varvaro was a decent middle reliever, whom the Red Sox needed, and Kurcz was ultimately traded a few months later for bonus pool money. Fun fact: Varvaro is now a police officer.

3. David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve for Manny Banuelos

Two low-ceiling relievers for a former top prospect. Banuelos never gained consistent health and effectiveness, and the Braves released him in 2016. Carpenter and Shreve have been inconsistent relievers for the past two years. The Braves even brought Carpenter to spring training in 2016.

4. Kyle Kubitza for Nate Hyatt and Ricardo Sanchez

Low-ceiling prospect for a high-ceiling lottery ticket, Sanchez. Sanchez is still very young (19), and has a mid-90s fastball, but continues to be overshadowed by the bountiful harvest of pitching prospects. He could settle in as a nice lefty reliever within the next couple years.

5. David Hale and Gus “Pickles” Schlosser for Jose Briceno and Chris O’Dowd

The Braves increased their minor league catching depth by trading two AAAA relievers. Hale had done some nice work as a swing man for Atlanta, but neither have done anything since. Briceno ended up in the Andrelton Simmons trade, and O’Dowd has done nothing. He’s in the White Sox organization now.

6. Alberto Callaspo, Juan Jaime, Eric Stults, and Ian Thomas for Juan Uribe and Chris Withrow

Weird trade. Callaspo was a bust for Atlanta, Stults has never really been good, and Jaime and Thomas are both reliever filler, and the Braves were able to add it all up for Juan Uribe, who had a strong 167 PAs of .285/.353/.464 production before being traded, and Chris Withrow, who pitched some strong middle relief innings in 2016 before being DFA’ed due to roster crunches.

7. Phil Gosselin for Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo

The Braves essentially bought Touki for $13M. Touki was a former 1st round pick, with exceptional stuff and youth, and the Braves got him by being willing to take Arroyo’s contract. Touki is consistently in the top 15 of a very deep farm system (formerly a top-5 prospect for Arizona), and after a dominant second half in low-A, he is primed for a breakout year. The D-Backs inexplicably traded a first round pick for short-term salary flexibility.

8. In separate deals, Cody Martin, Caleb Dirks, Jordan Paroubeck, Garret Fulencheck, and Aaron Kurcz for International Bonus Pool Money

The Braves sold several low-minors and low-ceiling prospects to different teams to get enough international bonus pool money to land Derian Cruz and Christian Pache. While these two have garnered less attention than superstar signee Kevin Maitan, they both rank in Atlanta’s top 30 prospects. John Hart has specifically commented on Pache multiple times, and both could be getting underrated in this deep farm. These trades (and the subsequent signings) and the Touki trade stand as two creative sets of moves by Coppy to utilize finite 2015 assets to deepen the farm.

9. Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe for John Gant and Rob Whalen

During a rebuilding year, the Braves parlayed two strong platoon players into two starting pitching prospects. Gant and Whalen both filled major league innings in 2016 before being flipped, Gant in the Jaime Garcia trade and Whalen in the Alex Jackson deal.

10. Chris Johnson for Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, and Cash

In effort to consolidate the monies owed to Chris Johnson into the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the Braves took the remainder of money owed to Swisher and Bourn so that they would be free of money owed to Johnson in 2017.

To be continued…

30 Jan

The Olivera Tragedy

This trade was a mess from the beginning. And after almost a year and a half since, time has not been kind to the evaluation. There’s the potential the trade could end up looking a little better, but that would be damning it with faint praise. It was a complicated trade that required a third team to get involved, and it included prospects, established players, draft picks, and salary dumps. It was really a trade that should have never been made, and Coppy is on record saying he regrets the trade. The premise of the trade was that Atlanta sent money (Bronson Arroyo’s contract), two good relievers (Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan), a talented prospect (Jose Peraza), and an established lefty starting pitcher (Alex Wood) for a 30-year old Cuban prospect (Hector Olivera), young lefty prospect (Paco Rodriguez), a 2016 first round pick, and a filler prospect (Zach Bird). Including the Marlins’ role in the trade is largely irrelevant to our discussion, so we’ll skip it.

The centerpiece of the deal was Hector Olivera, a heralded Cuban defector whom the Dodgers acquired for $62.5M. He was considered to have slightly above average power and speed, and appeared steady at second and had the arm for third. The Braves and Padres were also interested in Olivera, and it was believed he’d be quick to the major leagues and ready to be an above-average contributor. With that said, he had previously struggled with a blood disorder, minor UCL tear, and was never really projected to be an elite player. The interest in him was confusing, and with the Braves having even more time than the Dodgers to scout him, it’s further puzzling why the Braves were so interested in him.

Olivera’s time in Atlanta was a disaster. He had a respectable .253/.310/.405 line in his first major league action, but the Braves determined he couldn’t handle third base (further diluting his value), and decided to start him in left field to begin 2016. But to further guarantee that he would be considered a huge bust, he was suspended 6 games into the season after assaulting a woman. The Braves were able to basically hide his sunk cost by “trading” him to San Diego for Matt Kemp, but the Braves ultimately ate every ill-advised penny they gave to Olivera. You either have to say that they ate Olivera’s salary, and got Kemp at a “discounted” rate, or they paid Kemp’s full salary, but they can’t have it both ways by saying San Diego “took” Olivera’s salary and got Kemp at a “discount” which is sadly what we’re being told. Considering the failure of Dian Toscano as well, the Braves had a blind spot with Cuban players. The Braves, it appears, relied heavily on the character assessment of Fredi Gonzalez, and perhaps this further contributed to Fredi falling out of favor with the club.

As mentioned, we didn’t just receive Olivera, but the lefty prospect (Rodriguez) still has not pitched for Atlanta after having Tommy John surgery. The pick, however, did yield our current #11 prospect according to John Sickels, Austin Riley. If Paco Rodriguez can have success in Atlanta, and Riley continues to develop, then it softens the blow of Olivera’s failure, but what we gave up may cause this trade to only appear one-sided.

Alex Wood was a big part of what we gave up. A lefty out of the University of Georgia, Wood started his career as a successful swing man, but had been a full-time starter for over a year with success. He was also only 24, but to be fair, his low strike out totals and herky-jerky delivery made some concern that he would not continue his success. He was injured in 2016, so he’s only made 22 starts for the Dodgers since the trade.

Peraza was once our #1 prospect, but the Braves appear to have been comfortable trading him with the emergence of Ozzie Albies (Dansby Swanson had not yet been acquired). There were concerns over Peraza’s hit tool and plate discipline, but if he could stick at shortstop, there was no concern that he’d be an above average regular. After an underwhelming but short stint with LA (.182/.250/.318 in 25 PAs), he was packaged in another three-team trade that sent him to Cincinnati. Splitting time across CF, SS, 2B, and LF, Peraza put up a strong .324/.352/.411 line in 256 PAs as a 22-year old. He seems to be the prospect we thought we were giving up: a good one.

The two relievers struggled with LA, inexplicably, but Johnson returned to Atlanta to have a strong season, and when healthy, Avilan recovered in 2016.

At the end of the day, Coppy took a huge risk in acquiring Olivera and it backfired very, very badly. Coppy’s legacy doesn’t completely hang on this trade because of his other successes in almost all facets of player acquisitions, but this trade was so, so bad. What did they ever see in Olivera in the first place?

26 Jan

This is just to say

I have watched
play baseball

and his smile
you were probably
to market

Forgive me
he is bad
so terrible
and bad

17 Jan

Where Do We Go From Here? — In Summary (by Rusty S.)

As an overview of the position players, here’s a brief summary of my findings and opinions from the “Where Do We Go From Here” series.

The hard truth is that the Braves had only 2 position players (Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte) register above 2.0 WAR in 2016. Worse, there are 4 incumbent position players who were essentially replacement level (Matt Kemp, Tyler Flowers, Adonis Garcia, Jace Peterson all < 0.5 rWAR) and compounding that problem is that there are 4 positions where the incumbents will be 31 or older in 2017 (Kemp, Flowers, Garcia, Nick Markakis). The Braves again appear set to limp through 2017 with these guys, but these borderline vets are going to have to be addressed before the rebuild is over in 2018 or beyond.

The good news is that the Braves know where they are going at 1B and SS, with Freeman and Dansby Swanson, respectively. Swanson is a good bet to join Freeman and Inciarte in the > 2.0 WAR club in 2017, and Freeman is the oldest of the bunch at only 27. Jace Peterson is approaching what should be his peak years; there is a reasonable chance he will continue to improve for a couple of years. This improvement will have to happen for Jace to be a useful starter, but a healthy Ozzie Albies may at age 20 already be as good as Jace, and eventually well past him. Worst case, Jace’s versatility makes him an attractive bench player. There is a reasonable chance that Dustin Peterson could be a replacement for Markakis or Kemp by 2018.

I am skeptical about both Sean Rodriguez and Rio Ruiz, but platoons at 2nd and 3rd could increase the production there marginally. The Flowers / Recker / Gosewisch combo at catcher is primed for disappointment.

There are some intriguing prospects who spent 2016 in A-ball or lower, including Kevin Maitan, Travis Demeritte, Ronald Acuna, Austin Riley, and Alex Jackson. I reserve judgment until we see them in Double-A.

The rebuild continues apace. It looks like we’re not going to get there in 2017, but I’m optimistic the Braves will be better than 2016. The winter is long enough without giving away the spring and the summer too.

Where do we go from here? Hopefully, by 2018 moves will be made so that we’re carrying only one replacement-level position player, max. Finally, it’s only January – still time for some of those moves to be made before April!

09 Jan

The Best Players in Baseball, 2016 (by Edward)

Here we are at the beginning of the year arguing about Mark Kotsay, as usual. But did you know that according to my rankings method—see last year’s inaugural post—Mark Kotsay isn’t actually one of the best players in baseball anymore? Here are the 30 players who beat him out. (Rankings accomplished by my patented Math + Massage technique. The working document is here. Per last year’s post, “3-yr W. TR Avg.” is a weighted average of the player’s last three years on Bill James’s Total Runs leaderboard.)

Rk Player 3-yr W.
TR Avg.
1 Mike Trout 163.6 LAA 25 1
2 Josh Donaldson 152.6 TOR 31 3
3 Nolan Arenado 144 COL 26 12
4 Manny Machado 149.5 BAL 24 9
5 Mookie Betts 161.5 BOS 24 NR
6 Kris Bryant 143 CHC 25 NR
7 Paul Goldschmidt 140.8 ARI 29 2
8 Ian Kinsler 142 DET 35 19
9 Jose Altuve 140.2 HOU 27 ~13
10 Buster Posey 135.6 SF 30 8
11 Francisco Lindor 144 CLE 23 NR
12 Anthony Rizzo 133.2 CHC 27 13
13 Adrian Beltre 132 TEX 38 11
14 Anthony Rendon 128.2 WAS 27 NR
15 Robinson Cano 129.5 SEA 34 17
16 Brian Dozier 129 MIN 30 22
17 Joey Votto 134.5 CIN 33 4
18 Dustin Pedroia 133.6 BOS 33 21
19 Carlos Correa 127 HOU 22 NR
20 Charlie Blackmon 125.2 COL 30 NR
21 Kyle Seager 124.4 SEA 28 29
22 Brandon Crawford 123.8 SF 30 NR
23 Adam Eaton 122.4 CHW 28 NR
24 Carlos Gonzalez 120 COL 31 NR
25 Bryce Harper 119 WAS 24 6
26 Yoenis Cespedis 116.6 NYM 31 26
27 Jean Segura 121.2 ARI 27 NR
28 Dee Gordon 126.8 MIA 29 23
29 DJ LeMahieu 118.8 COL 28 NR
30 Xander Bogaerts 115.4 BOS 24 NR

Notes about the list:

  • Next 10 mathematically were Marte, Heyward, Kipnis, Freeman, Cruz, Herrera, Belt, Yelich, Frazier, and Miguel Cabrera. I would have re-ordered them significantly, I’m sure.
  • I would like to exclude Dee Gordon from the list, but the system won’t let me. Damn the man! Save the Empire!
  • Players who made the top-30 mathematically but I cut because of a lack of playing time include Corey Seager, AJ Pollock, Jackie Bradley Jr. and a bunch of other schmoes
  • I had never heard of Adam Duvall before undertaking the list this year. I’m still not sure I’ve heard of Adam Duvall.
  • Hell of an era for third base.
  • Hell of an era for…Ian Kinsler?!
  • Rough year for Harper, McCutchen, Heyward, and Stanton. I don’t know if anybody thought they’d all disappoint.
  • Everybody look out if the Rockies figure out how to pitch.
  • Who’s the best player over the next five years out of Betts, Bryant, Lindor, Correa, and Machado? Answer: Probably Dansby Swanson.

Happy New Year, everybody! May the Braves actually land a player on this list next off-season.

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