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18 Oct

Rosterbation, Part 1

Okay, I think we’ve all had enough time to soak in the misery and read tea leaves about coaching staff decisions. Let’s get to the meat of the off-season, already.

The Atlanta Braves total payroll for 2013, without prorating guys like Scott Downs or Elliot Johnson for their time with other teams, was $96.7 million. I know it didn’t feel like a new $100 mil roster there at the end, but that was all BJ Upton and Dan Uggla’s fault when you really look at the numbers.

For 2014, the Braves have eight players who are going to be free agents outright.

Player 2013 Contract Cost
Brian McCann $12.00 mil
Tim Hudson $9.00 mil
Paul Maholm $6.5 mil
Scott Downs* $5.00 mil
Eric O’Flaherty $4.32 mil
Reed Johnson $1.60 mil
Kameron Loe* $1.05 mil
Luis Ayala $1.0 mil

Since we’re using the total contract cost of the players acquired mid-season for the $96.7 mil number, we’ll use the total contract cost of their 2013 deals for “free agent savings” too. That means that going into November, the Braves are trimming $40.47 million from their 2014 roster. You can probably toss the $1.67 mil they paid Jonny Venters into that pool as well and call it a solid $42 mil to spend.

Now, some of that is obviously going to go toward arbitration and pre-arbitration players. Your Jason Heywards and Freddie Freemans and Julio Teherans and such. Baseball-Reference projects the total increases in arb and pre-arb cases to be roughly $29 mil. Let’s assume that’s the case, so we don’t have to crank out individual guesses as to how much any given player is going to get. That reduces the available spend to a mere $13 million. So, barring major movement of existing contracts or extensions that buy out arb years and assuming they have the same budget next year as this, the 2014 Braves have $13 million to spend on talent.

The question is, obviously, where to spend it. The first obvious answer is “not in the outfield.”

Player 2014 Contract Cost
Justin Upton $14.25 mil
B.J. Upton $13.45 mil
Jason Heyward Arb-2
Success! Arb-1

And in the wings you have your Jose Constanzas, your Joey Terdoslaviches, your Todd Cunninghams. They can fight it out for the league minimum and fifth OF spot. So you don’t spend anything on the OF. You fix B.J. Upton and move on.

The infield is relatively set as well:

Player 2014 Contract Cost
Freddie Freeman Arb-1
Dan Uggla $13.00 mil
Andrelton Simmons Pre-Arb-2
Regression Arb-2
Gerald Laird $1.5 mil
Evan Gattis Pre-Arb-2

Leaving be the question of his Ugglaness for the moment, the starting rotation as of today:

Player 2014 Contract Cost
Kris Medlen Arb-2
Mike Minor Pre-Arb-3
Julio Teheran Pre-Arb-2
Brandon Beachy Arb-1
Alex Wood Pre-Arb-1
David Hale Pre-Arb-1

The pen is equally cheap. The most expensive player there will be either 1) Craig Kimbrel* or 2) a free agent veteran signing (be it Jonny Venters, EOF or someone else.) I’ll save the table breakout for the time being.

* I assume Kimbrel will make more money in his first year of arbitration eligibility than Christian Martinez will in his second year.

All of which is a long winded way of saying what everyone already knew, I guess. You have two major holes in the lineup: CF and 2B. You don’t have the flexibility to fix both of them, so you have to swallow hard and run with B.J. Upton in CF. You have a really young starting rotation, that is also really cheap. You have $13m or so to upgrade your team. The question at hand is how do you do that.

When the Braves say they want an “ace” what they mean is that they think they’re be better served spending the brunt of that $13 mil to improve the rotation, getting a top of the line starter and pushing everyone else down a slot (and Wood or Hale out of the rotation entirely) while dealing with either Uggla or a league minimum guy like Pena or Johnson at 2B. Or La Stella if he demands the promotion with his play. That makes sense to me, personally. The team is good enough to get into the playoffs again next year, even with an offensive sinkhole at 2B. It needs a front line starter to get past the first rounds. If they can pull a Derek Lowe with Dan Uggla their budget for a top line starter moves into the $18 mil range…

171 Responses to “Rosterbation, Part 1”

  1. 1
    blazon Says:

    Masefield/Uggla

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    he must advance to the plate again, to his site of triumphs old
    his eyes rebuilt, a sneering lilt as the pitcher’s winds unfold
    and the bat’s crack and the ball’s jump and the shortstop shaking
    his numbers grow? they don’t you know and the GM’s quaking.

  2. 2
    Adam R Says:

    I can’t figure out what the White Sox are doing, exactly, but their signing of Jose Abreu probably means Sale is not for sale. Right?

  3. 3
    csg Says:

    I don’t know why they’d move Sale.

    Pena has value as a super utility player, I’d also take EJ on the roster over Janish. Neither should be starters. Braves either art Uggla or LaStella at 2nd next year.

  4. 4
    Johnny Says:

    Doesn’t Tyler Pastornicky figure in the mix at 2b? .292/.354/.392 in 320 PAS at Gwinnett.

  5. 5
    krussell Says:

    They are going to have to increase the budget if they want a top-line starter.

  6. 6
    JoeCraigMcMurtry Says:

    I assume bRef numbers include arbitration raises for Martinez and Venters. The Braves should offer neither arbitration, and that likely saves at least another million. But really the bRef estimates make clear that we actually cannot afford to trade for David Price unless Liberty is willing to open the checkbook. Next year all of our projected salary room will be eaten up by an additional 13 million dollars of arbitration raises and that is IMO conservative. The continued development of J-Hey, Freeman and Minor could easily raise that to the 15 or 16 million level. Price is going to get close to 20 million in his last year of arbitration.

    Unless the Tigers are willing to deal Scherzer for Kimbrel, or there is a ton of cash sloshing around that we don’t know about, Wren is better off signing Hudson to a one-year deal and using the extra millions to sign Andrelton to a massive, frontloaded extension.

  7. 7
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The Braves should be looking at Detroit rather than Tampa Bay. Detroit is losing both Jhonny Peralta and Omar Infante as free agents. Detroit has no bullpen. Detroit has deep pockets.

    Send to Detroit Craig Kimbrel + Dan Uggla.

    Receive from Detroit Max Scherzer.

  8. 8
    Adam R Says:

    @3, The reason to trade Sale is that their team sucks and isn’t likely to get better anytime soon, so get value for your best asset in order to help yourself rebuild.

  9. 9
    Nathan Smith Says:

    @7:
    oh God. as much as I enjoy watching the Kraken pitch…I might have to do that.

  10. 10
    PeteOrr Says:

    Off topic, but I just got to the part of Infinite Jest where Ted Turner and Liberty Media CEO John Malone brought down the broadcast networks through a series of increasingly graphic ads for hygiene products. Kind of feel like the Braves’ playoff performances in the last two decades may have had a similar repulsive effect on postseason TV audiences. I know I stabbed for the remote through a curtain of dense self loathing multiple times during game 4.

  11. 11
    John R. Says:

    @7, That trade would be a no-brainer.

  12. 12
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @11 – yeah, you might have to throw in Alex Wood or David Hale or something.

  13. 13
    Edward Says:

    Frontline starter for a guy who was only good enough to pitch 1.1 innings in the entire postseason this year?

  14. 14
    krussell Says:

    I think Detroit would want to keep their two good/cheap starters (Scherzer and Fister). 1/3 of their payroll will be going to Verlander and Prince Fielder for the next 6 years!.

    Still, that’s an interesting trade idea because I’m sure they think they need a better closer. Scherzer is way more valuable than Kimbrel though. Throwing in Uggla reduces the value coming from our side, so I bet we’d have to give up another really good player/prospect to make it work.

  15. 15
    CB Says:

    No way they send an affordable closer who is the best in the game for any pitcher that’s 1 year out of free agency and is a Scott Boras client. Never would they do that.

  16. 16
    Anon21 Says:

    13: Never underestimate the depth of baseball people’s delusions about the value of Proven Closers.

    And yeah, I like that deal okay. I don’t love rentals, but the suggested price for that quality is a steal. If you throw in Alex Wood, I think I would say no—not that he’ll be as good as Scherzer, but we’ve got him for five more years, and he has shown flashes of being an above-average major-league starting pitcher.

  17. 17
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    It depends on how you value Kimbrel. What you’re trading:

    3 years of Craig Kimbrel at arb pricing
    2 years of Dan Uggla at 13 mil per

    FOR

    1 year of Max Scherzer at arb pricing
    + the ability to negotiate extensions with Scherzer

    I’d do that. I think it’s fair on both sides, but I think Atlanta comes out ahead because they lose the payroll anchor of Uggla and flip 3 years of 60 innings per for a year of a top line starter.

    I think the smart move is to make Kimbrel the candy by which you entice other teams to trade you one of their top starters.

  18. 18
    Johnny Says:

    @17 – Using Kimbrell or Medlen as a sweetner for a top flight starter or for someone to take some of Uggla’s contract is a good idea. Not sure if you could do both in one trade. I am also thinking that no one takes all of Uggla’s contract.

  19. 19
    krussell Says:

    Kimbrel is our best chance of playing moneyball-esque market inefficiencies to our advantage (assuming the overrated-ness of closers continues to be a thing).

  20. 20
    CB Says:

    They would only get Scherzer for 1 year bc he is a Boras client and ATL has always shyed away from Boras clients (I.e. Bourn) and rightfully so bc Boras tries to suck a team dry for 1 player. Kimbrel is the best in the game and if you think that’s not valuable I refer you to ALCS game 2. Kimbrel, Freeman, Heyward, Simmons, and Teheran are considered untouchable by the braves FO. As they stand right now anyway.

    Scherzer will not be a brave in 2014.

  21. 21
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Relievers aren’t that valuable. I refer you to the LDS game 4.

  22. 22
    Dusty Says:

    Every remaining team is using a closer that was not their opening day closer if that tells you anything.

    I say that knowing how much I’d hate to see Kimbrel go and how much I love having him, but also knowing he’s the smartest piece to move. No way the Braves do it though.

  23. 23
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Craig Kimbrel is not anything close to the best player in the game. Mike Trout maybe. Miggy maybe. A reliever simply doesn’t pitch often enough to be the best player in the game. You’re relying on Detroit thinking that way, though. Also on them being burned by crap relievers this year enough to overpay for Kimbrel.

  24. 24
    csg Says:

    I would trade Kimbrel for the right price. He’ll be priced out of Atlanta before his arb years are over and that’s best case. Worst case is TJ or some other injury. He’s the best closer in baseball and if we can get a top “ace” pitcher we should jump at the chance.

  25. 25
    CB Says:

    I said he’s the best closer never said he’s the best player. I’m not sold that Scherzer is the answer and Dave Dombrowski is no fool he knows full well how much Scherzer and Kimbrel are worth. Wren has worked under Dombrowski in the past so they have a good relationship. That being said……

    It’s funny braves fans just tore Fredi Gonzalez apart bc he didn’t bring in Kimbrel in the 8th inning of game 4 now we wanna trade the human victory cigar that is Kimbrel for 1 year of a good pitcher that has had the luxury of an outstanding lineup and very good pitchers to learn from and look up to (Verlander). He could come to ATL and win a Cy Young and I would gladly eat crow but I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward.

  26. 26
    John R. Says:

    I love Kimbrel a lot. Him coming into a game at Turner Field sends chills up my spine. But the only way I’d consider him a long-term piece is if I could look in a crystal ball and see he’s the next Rivera. Otherwise, you enjoy him as long as he’s around and keep an eye on ways to move him to get an ace starter or game-changing everyday player.

  27. 27
    Anon21 Says:

    Even the best closer is only a closer.

  28. 28
    W.C.G. Says:

    Don’t forget the $25MM extra national TV money that each team begins getting next year. I would hope that Wren could make the case to corporate to devote most of that to increased player payroll during this championship window.

    I have a hard time believing Detroit would move Scherzer, even knowing they could lose him to free agency later, when they’re championship contenders in 2014 too.

  29. 29
    csg Says:

    Brandon Phillips is available

  30. 30
    Smitty Says:

    @29
    And I would love to get him. Our middle infield would be the best in baseball

  31. 31
    A.West Says:

    In the “Moneyball” book Beane admitted that he used a “sell your closer” strategy repeatedly to raise money for less replaceable players.
    Sadly, the Braves are a revenue constrained team.

  32. 32
    Scott H. Says:

    First, I want to say thanks for running this site…my discovery of it has helped me shake off my post-elimination depression.

    I think Kimbrel could well be the next Rivera…he thinks so and that is why we all wanted him in the 8th inning of game 4. And remember, it’s not just about talent–we love this team because of its overall personality, and Kimbrel is part of that.

    Just as a drool-inducing fantasy, wouldn’t it be amazing if Liberty told Wren to go get Price AND B. Phillips? Team fixed, World Series won.

  33. 33
    ryan c Says:

    @initial poster

    I think those numbers are way off and there’s more like 25 million to spend (don’t have the time now to type up my projections, nor is it necessary). There’s no way the Braves are offering Venters, Dewitt, Janish, EJohnson, or Martinez arbitration salaries. Those salaries alone add up to 7-8 million. My numbers are at 75 million for 21 players.

  34. 34
    kc Says:

    @30. I like that idea too until I see the 50m/4yr contract he brings with him.

    When you talk about trading Kimbrel, you also have to consider the cost of replacing him. I don’t care what you think about the role of a closer, but there is a market cost for one. I would keep Kimbrel for one more year because he is still very cheap considering his role.

    Thanks Sam for the analysis. Precisely because we don’t have that much money to spend, I don’t understand why we would take a risky route to give josh Johnson a 10m contract. Don’t we have enough dead meat to worry about?

  35. 35
    ryan c Says:

    Sam,
    I don’t understand where you got your numbers. At max, B-ref has us at 76.8 million for next year and that’s assuming arb-eligibles, guaranteed contracts, options, and pre-arb players. Take away the above listed and Reed Johnson’s option and the number decreases to 68 million. Using 96 million as an endpoint, there’s 28 million to spend.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/ATL/2013-payroll-salaries.shtml

    I’d advise no one to look at 2015. Yikes!

  36. 36
    kc Says:

    @34. I don’t think you want to use the baseball reference figures if you look into how they estimate the arbitration salary. It is very inaccurate.

    Nevertheless, I think this may be the year that we will trade Medlen if we consider he is not an ace material. We have too many #2/3 that we can afford to trade him away for more salary saving.

  37. 37
    ryan c Says:

    And that 68 million would be assuming the following 20 players are with the Braves in 2014 (or at least their salaries):
    Gattis, Laird, Freeman, Uggla, Simmons, Pena, CJ, Heyward, Bupton, Jupton, Schafer, Minor, Medlen, Teheran, Beachy, Wood, Kimbrel, Avilan, Carpenter, Walden.

    Other players that could come at little to no cost to fill the bench, bullpen, and/or starting roles.

    Pastornicky, La Stella, Terdo, Bethancourt, Hale, Varvaro

    @34
    I normally don’t use their system, but I was just referencing what Sam used. After a few years of practice, I have a decent system. I still have miscalculations but it’s most definitely not by 10 million dollars.

  38. 38
    ryan c Says:

    Kris Medlen has been worth 29 million dollars over the past 2 years and has made about 10% of that and you suggest trading him? Oh boy…

  39. 39
    kc Says:

    @37. Nobody wants anything that doesn’t have value, right? If we are not prepared to pay him arb 3 and 4 salary, we may as well trade him to get something good in return…like a third base prospect to prepare for Chris Johnson getting too expensive or to unload Uggla. Then we can easily sign Huddy back to take Medlen’s spot in the rotation plus trading for an ace.

  40. 40
    Edward Says:

    16: I was just looking for an excuse to be bitter about game 4.

    How good is Scherzer next year? Another top-10 pitcher in baseball season? Because if we don’t think he will be, let somebody else pay for the Cy Young.

  41. 41
    ububba Says:

    Greetings from Amsterdam…

    To hell with the Cardinals. That is all.

  42. 42
    Anon21 Says:

    40: I mean, at least the Dodgers’ “Let’s buy a team” kick isn’t going to be rewarded with a pennant just yet. But yeah, all LCSs this year were root-for-the-meteor affairs.

  43. 43
    ububba Says:

    I know a whole lot less about St. Louis anymore than the other 3 towns — haven’t been to St. Lou since I was 9 — but I’d still love to see Detroit pull it out.

    The Tigers spend, yes, but as cities go, you’ll never root for a bigger underdog.

  44. 44
    Adam R Says:

    @37, Why should what Medlen’s made in the past matter? This is about going forward. He’s going to get older and more expensive, and we have good reason to think we’ve seen his peak already.

    We know, and I’m sure the team knows, that Medlen isn’t really an ace. There’s certainly no shame in being as good as he is, because he still is quite good overall. But his fastball velocity is only going to go down from here, and he doesn’t have the command to be consistently dominant, given his fastball.

    Unless Medlen starts throwing 230+ IP per season, there’s more reason to hope for Minor and Teheran — and to look to acquire a pitcher who’s worth $29 million over one season, rather than two.

  45. 45
    Dan Says:

    So if Kershaw was A-Rod, it would go: “another great regular season, probably some hardware (MVP/Cy Young), but when it mattered most, he came up small.”

  46. 46
    krussell Says:

    Michael Wacha is really good.

  47. 47
    Rusty S. Says:

    The Dodgers are not built for the post season until they get an ace pitcher. Or maybe that premise is wrong?

  48. 48
    Dan Says:

    Cardinals beat Kershaw twice too.

    Remember how everyone on this blog was putting the Braves down 0-2 in the series against the Dodgers, because of Kershaw? While that was ultimately correct, the Cardinals showed it can be done.

  49. 49
    ryan c Says:

    Medlen is a cheap SP that will probably be worth 3 wins per year the next 2 years. He started 31 games, racked up 197 innings and will roughly cost 5 million. Why would the Braves trade that when they’re a cash strapped team? Doesn’t make sense. It seems some people are still overly bitter about our SP from the 5 game sample size of playoff baseball. If ’12 was his peak and ’13 is what to expect from him here on out, I’m completely fine with 200 innings pitched at a 3 run per 9 clip from a 5 million dollar player. Why wouldn’t the Braves be prepared to pay him?

    Kris Medlen is 28 and will be 29 the last year of team control. His age is a non-issue and doesn’t support any argument. Also, when has Medlen’s command ever been an issue? And why just assume that Medlen’s going to lose velocity over the next 2 years? Asking Kris Medlen to be an ace is unfair, but asking him to be a good #2 or great #3 isn’t. Trading Medlen, our best starter over the last 2 years who is also cost-controlled would be unwise….unless the Braves are blown away by an offer.

    This ace pitcher crap is absurd and is coming from bitter hearts. We had 3 ace pitchers in Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux and still walked away with only one World Series. Clayton Kershaw is THE ace pitcher in baseball and just got beat twice in one series. Playoffs are a crapshoot and the Braves have sucked at craps for 2 decades.

  50. 50
    Guest Says:

    Is it completely not possible that Craig Kimbrel could be stretched and turned into a starter?

  51. 51
    ryan c Says:

    I don’t know who the Braves could get to man 3rd base but Chris Johnson, Jordan Schafer, David Carpenter, and David Hale’s values will probably never be higher again!

  52. 52
    kc Says:

    Nobody here hates Medlen. We all love him, but he has trade value and of course we don’t trade him unless there is roster upgrade. Nobody wants to dump Medlen for nothing. We are simply trading from the organization strength.

  53. 53
    daniel b Says:

    I think that Chris Johnson and Kimbrel are two useful trade pieces that could be overvalued by other teams. Yes, Kimbrel is a lights out closer for us, and I am hesitant to shop him. But when you think about what he could bring back in a market that consistently overvalues closers, it makes you wonder.

    As for Chris Johnson, he’s coming off of a career year offensively, thanks largely to an absurdly high BABIP. But otherwise, he’s bad defensively, and doesn’t carry many other tools besides hitting for average, and he’s only really done that for one season. I say trade him, because he could be falsely overvalued by other teams.

  54. 54
    Grst Says:

    Hearing #Braves would have interest in #Reds 2B Phillips if Cincy takes Uggla in deal. ATL probably have to include a top prospect.— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) October 19, 2013

  55. 55
    Adam R Says:

    Why would the Braves trade [Medlen] when they’re a cash strapped team?

    Because the goal is to win the World Series next year, and they’re not cash strapped this offseason, as you point out.

    Even a marginal improvement over Medlen matters A LOT to a team like the Braves because we have a good chance of making the playoffs. We should be in the business of using ANY of our available resources to stack the deck. A pitcher that stands a better chance than Medlen of completely dominating a given game is worth trading Medlen for, even if that pitcher carries additional costs. It’s not your money. Why do you care so much about how much the team is saving?

    The point isn’t that Medlen will necessarily lose velocity in the next two years. It’s that we sure as hell know that he won’t gain it — he can only lose it. And right now, since he’s our #1 starter in a playoff series, that’s a problem. Wren and Fredi are simply admitting the obvious.

    Every season, Medlen is going to roll into the playoffs like he’s pitching lights-out because he’s going to get to sharpen his command against the Marlins/Mets/Phillies in September. And every October, better hitting teams will take advantage of him. If I can’t convince you that Medlen’s success depends on whether he can spot his fastball, since his fastball isn’t worth too much unless he is painting the corners with it, then I’m not sure what the point of discussing this is at all.

    Remember how everyone on this blog was putting the Braves down 0-2 in the series against the Dodgers, because of Kershaw? While that was ultimately correct, the Cardinals showed it can be done.

    They showed it can be done with their own pitcher who threw 96 mph. And with half the Dodgers’ offensive stars out of the lineup too.

    The Dodgers are not built for the post season until they get an ace pitcher. Or maybe that premise is wrong?

    We had 3 ace pitchers in Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux and still walked away with only one World Series.

    You know what, maybe you’re right. Upgrading our rotation doesn’t guarantee a World Series championship, so we should just do nothing and hope for different results.

    Braves fans really do have Stockholm Syndrome.

  56. 56
    Grst Says:

    @52 You know what, maybe you’re right. Upgrading our rotation doesn’t guarantee a World Series championship, so we should just do nothing and hope for different results.

    Because those are our only two options? How about we upgrade something that actually needs upgrading?

  57. 57
    Grst Says:

    @52 You know what, maybe you’re right. Upgrading our rotation doesn’t guarantee a World Series championship, so we should just do nothing and hope for different results.

    Because those are our only two options? How about we upgrade something that actually needs upgrading?

  58. 58
    kc Says:

    Power pitching rules in the playoff. It can’t be more obvious.

  59. 59
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Barring the top line prospect being Julio Teheran I like the Phillips/Uggla swap.

  60. 60
    Adam R Says:

    @52, Sure, if we can upgrade 2B of CF, that would be great. I’m not picky. I just don’t want to spend an offseason pretending that Tommy La Stella is going to solve all our problems.

    I don’t understand why people aren’t willing to take from future seasons in order to add to the certainty of success next year, given that we know we’re good enough to get to the playoffs. As long as Wren gets it, I suppose.

  61. 61
    ryan c Says:

    @50
    Not suggesting such. There have been 2 posts that suggest he’s getting “expensive”, yet if this year is any indication of his performance over the next 2 years, Kris will get paid only 40% of what he’ll be worth.

    Furthermore, Medlen is undervalued by his own organization and by the fans. Why would any other teams see him differently?

  62. 62
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @60 – fans fall in love with their guys. People here overvalue Kris Medlen because he was an undervalued resource coming up a few years ago.

  63. 63
    kc Says:

    @59. Sam, you are ok with the contract?

  64. 64
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @50 – there is no chance at all that Kimbrel could start. He’d break. He is what he is. A shutdown reliever.

  65. 65
    ryan c Says:

    @Adam R
    You’re right. We aren’t going to agree.

    @Sam
    Not sure who actually overvalues Medlen here. In fact, I don’t know a single Braves fan that overvalues Medlen. Now, Tim Hudson, who most people here would like to see in the rotation again in ’14 for much more money than Medlen with less production? Yes. He’s overvalued. I still like him.

  66. 66
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @63 – depends on what you mean by “okay with” it.

    Phillips looks a lot, right now, like Dan Uggla did in 2011. Here’s the OPS+ comparison, by year, with age. The first set of numbers is Phillips, the second set is Uggla at the same age:

    30 year old season: (2011) 118 :: 131 (2010)
    31 year old season: (2012) 99 :: 107 (2011)
    32 year old season: (2013) 92 :: 98 (2012)

    That’s not a good comparison for Phillips, obviously. His batting average has dropped by 20 points each of the last two seasons, and his OBP and SLG has followed his contact rate downward. From a straight up offensive comparison, it’s not a good trade to move 2 years of Uggla ($13m/$13m) for four years of a one year young version of Uggla ($11m/$12m/$13m/$14m.)

    But there are a few caveats that make Phillips a notably better player than Uggla, despite the similarity in their batting lines.

    To start, he’s a gold glove caliber defender. The metrics say he slipped a bit this year, but even Phillips minus a half step is light years better than Uggla. Second, while there’s at least room to project that Phillips might rebound a bit or at least hold steady with his production, every single sign points to Dan Uggla being done. Completely toasted. I mean, the guy can’t friggin’ SEE. I think there’s a much better chance of Phillips hanging around the mid-90s OPS+ with above average defense, into his 35-36 year old season, than there is that Dan Uggla will ever crack an OPS+ above 80-85 again. (With terrible defense.)

    In addition, you have to factor in the clear and obvious antipathy between the manager and Uggla at this point. Dan Uggla isn’t going to play for Atlanta next year, so you have to get what you can for him.

    Finally, I think you have to account for Phillips’ contract in much the same way we’ve been arguing for getting an “ace” at the top of the order. Your window is NOW. Is Brandon Phillips 35 and 36 year old season at $14/15 mil scary? Yes. But would I take on that long term albatross in order to dump the completely useless CURRENT albatross that is Uggla? Yeah, I think I would. Because I’d rather have a moderately useful Brandon Phillips in this lineup now, in 2014-15, while Heyward and the Uptons and Freeman are all around, and deal with the long term drag in 2016-17, than go into your prime WS competition years with Dan Uggla, Elliot Johnson or Tommy La Stella two years too early at 2B and in the middle of the order.

    I wouldn’t include Lucas Sims or Alex Wood, but I’d strongly consider Gilmartin or David Hale and such.

  67. 67
    Adam R Says:

    If all we care about is how much we’re underpaying our players, why don’t we all become Marlins fans?

  68. 68
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Ryan @65: if the Braves could get a top line starter; David Price or Max Scherzer or the like, while keeping all of their current top four, that would be better than trading one of their top four and resigning Hudson. We agree on that. But to get a top line starter, you have to give up value to get value. And the guy that lines up to flip value for value, other than Kimbrel, is Medlen.

    I’d rather go into 2014 with this rotation:

    Price / Medlen / Minor / Teheran / Beachy

    As opposed to this rotation:

    Price / Hudson / Minor / Teheran / Beachy

    But to get a Price, you are going to have to give up something. And I’d rather have the second rotation listed than this one:

    Medlen / Minor / Teheran / Hudson / Beachy

  69. 69
    fm Says:

    I seem to recall that a Braves team from 1995 won a World Series in which their power pitcher struggled and their soft-tossers dominated a freakishly good Indians lineup.

  70. 70
    Adam R Says:

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves
    Hearing #Braves would have interest in #Reds 2B Phillips if Cincy takes Uggla in deal. ATL probably have to include a top prospect.

  71. 71
    ryan c Says:

    @68
    I agree with that.

  72. 72
    Guest Says:

    @64, could I dig a little on that? For the record I’m not knowledgeable enough on Kimbrel to argue it, but curious why specifically you think he’d break. Velocity?

  73. 73
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @72 – Kimbrel is a tiny little guy that throws 98-100 mph. He can do that for three or four batters in a row. If you asked that frame to do that task for 27+ batters? He’d break, or be highly ineffective after one or two innings.

  74. 74
    Adam R Says:

    @69, Let’s do this rotation next year: Colon, Hudson, Medlen, Maholm, Gilmartin.

    I’m sure it will be 1995 all over again!!!!!!!

  75. 75
    Guest Says:

    Fair. There’s a small piece of me that would love to see him try, but I can’t claim a logical basis.

  76. 76
    ryan c Says:

    Leaving this thread for now as it looks like Tony Snark has popped in.

  77. 77
    fm Says:

    @74

    Well, obviously I wouldn’t go that far. I was just pointing out that although it would be nice to have a truly dominant ace, we have a historical example that shows that it isn’t absolutely necessary to have one in order to win a championship. I mean, Medlen’s shut down championship-caliber teams in the regular season. So have Beachy and Minor. I don’t see why they couldn’t do that in the postseason as well.

    Besides, is it not possible that Julio could become a dominant ace type of pitcher when he hits his prime in a few years? You wouldn’t have to give up top prospects to acquire an ace when one of your own prospects already has that potential in him.

  78. 78
    krussell Says:

    I would honestly rather spend money on offense…the problem is that our hands our completely tied there. If we got 2 or 3 WAR from CF we might still be playing. But what can we do?

  79. 79
    Adam R Says:

    @77, The Red Sox showed that it’s possible to win a World Series with a pitcher who had 55 stitches holding his ankle together on the mound in decisive games. That doesn’t make it advisable.

    When we know we’re a playoff-level team that has money and players to spare for upgrades next year, why would we not upgrade?

  80. 80
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @77: I was just pointing out that although it would be nice to have a truly dominant ace, we have a historical example that shows that it isn’t absolutely necessary to have one in order to win a championship.

    Look, here’s the brutal truth. There is no strategy that guarantees a championship. Contrary to what Cardinals fans will crow about these days, or what Yankees fans crowed about in the late 90s and early 2000s, there is no “way to built a championship winner.” You build as good a team as you can and then roll the post-season dice. The players ARE RANDOM.

    That said, you’d rather have David Price going in game 1 of any series than Kris Medlen. He’s a better pitcher. And honestly, you’d rather have Brandon Phillips at 2B and in the 5-6 slot than Dan Uggla.

  81. 81
    nongnong Says:

    This is a young and inexperienced rotation with plenty of room for improvement. Sure, the Dodgers teed off on JT and Medlen, but atrocious outfield defense seemed to ensure that anything falling in the OF would go for extra bases. The defense was pretty sloppy all around and the bullpen cost us game 4. We shut them down in the 8th inning of game four and we’ve got either Medlen or Minor going against Greinke in Atlanta in game 5. Minor was close to Ace-hood last year and he still has some room for improvement. Teheran could emerge as a guy you want at the front of a post season rotation. Will we have a healthy Beachy? Because that guy has 9.3 K/9 and a 1.13 WHIP in 267 big league innings. Wouldn’t a combination of Minor or Teheran taking another step forward and Beachy being healthy push Medlen back a couple spots in the rotation?

  82. 82
    krussell Says:

    Dodgers offered $300M to Kershaw. Not sure what’s crazier…the offer, or the fact that he’s having to think about it.

  83. 83
    kc Says:

    We need more power pitching. We kept getting beat in the playoff by power pitching and this year’s playoff is proving that again. Look at how many power pitchers the remaining playoff teams have.

    Sam, i understand everything you said, and let me say I have also proposed a Uggla/Philips swap earlier. As you said, it is indeed the last two years of the contract that concerns me. But I guess we have to take on something to dump Dan.

  84. 84
    kc Says:

    And Philips hits much better on th road in 2013, which is surprising…

  85. 85
    fm Says:

    Never has the moniker “Burn-in-hell” been more fitting.

  86. 86
    JonathanF Says:

    Victorino? Really?

  87. 87
    kc Says:

    Playoff is always the time when a weakness is exponentially exposed. There is no way to hide it.

  88. 88
    Parish Says:

    Go ‘Dores!

  89. 89
    Dan Says:

    While the Cardinals-Red Sox is a pretty hateable match-up, at least the 2013 World Series won’t feature announcers endlessly gushing over Puig.

    Seriously, thank God the Dodgers got bounced.

  90. 90
    Rusty S. Says:

    LaRussa’s gone, so there’s that. I got nothing.

  91. 91
    csg Says:

    Ole Miss
    Missouri
    Auburn
    Vandy
    Tennessee

    What a crazy SEC Saturday.

    Could you imagine seeing Bama, Oregon, FSU, and Ohio State all being undefeated at the end of the season. There would be riots in two states.

  92. 92
    krussell Says:

    The SEC is terrible this year. Just terrible. Bama’s claim (assuming they manage to go undefeated, which I still think won’t happen) is going to be the weakest of the bunch.

    RE: the BP/Uggla trade idea…I’m gonna have to say that if we do that then Wren should be fired. It’s trading 2 years of albatross contract for 4. BP is showing the same steep offensive decline that Uggla had shown. No thanks.

    The fact that we’re even considering this means that the front office doesn’t think as much of LaStella as internet fans do. LaStella’s defense must not be good enough.

  93. 93
    Mikemc Says:

    At some point R Amaro has to realize the window has closed in Philly. At that point Cliff Lee will be available. He won’t want to trade him to ATL, but there’s always the potential the Braves can make the best offer. That’s the guy to get.

  94. 94
    Adam R Says:

    If Brandon Phillips is the best that Wren can do for a 2B upgrade (We don’t know the answer to that) and if Brandon Phillips will be better than Uggla next year (I think we all know the answer to that), then if the deal gets done, I won’t celebrate it, but I’ll understand and appreciate it.

    We don’t care about years 3 and 4 of Brandon Phillips’ contract. It doesn’t matter. Forget about the future. We want the biggest upgrade we can get for next year.

  95. 95
    csg Says:

    Not sure that the Braves would want to block LaStella unless maybe they could shift him to third. My opinion, the Braves should treat Uggla as a lost cause, but they shouldn’t bring in another bad contract to replace Uggla’s. Let someone pick up a portion of it and trade him. I don’t like the Phillips idea and I really wouldn’t want the braves giving up a top prospect either.

  96. 96
    csg Says:

    Peanut….

    If Beachy or Hudson had remained healthy, there is a good chance the Braves would have never made the surprising decision to allow Kameron Loe to start their Sept. 4 loss to the Mets. The result of this game also could have been different if the Braves had handed the ball to David Hale, who earned a spot on the NLDS roster despite being a late addition to the expanded September roster.

    As the Braves look toward the 2014 season, they will attempt to acquire David Price or another front-line starting pitcher who might become available on the trade market. At the same time, Wren has already said he would like to re-sign Hudson, who will enter the free-agent market after the World Series concludes.

  97. 97
    Remy Says:

    What about Ian Kennedy? Does he have what the Braves are looking for?

  98. 98
    Adam R Says:

    I’m just going to ignore DOB’s tweet that we won’t trade Lucas Sims.

    We could just go the cheap route: dump Uggla somewhere and then trade for Brian Dozier. I’m surprised to see how valuable he was in 2013.

  99. 99
    Rusty S. Says:

    @91 – Rick Reilly will write an article about it, and three of them will lose, just like he does every year.

  100. 100
    Nick Says:

    @92

    I’m actually inclined to agree, but they’re the one team who has no chance of getting bumped if they’re undefeated.

  101. 101
    Johnny Says:

    @92 weaker than Ohio States?

    I have to wonder what the scouts dont see in La Stella for the team to even consider a bad contract swap for BP. I’d be ok with the trade as long the prospect isnt in the organizations top 15. Phillips had a bad season, but it wasnt Dan Uggla bad.

  102. 102
    nongnong Says:

    @97
    Ian Kennedy is about as Ace like as everyone else in the rotation currently.

  103. 103
    Adam R Says:

    Ian Kennedy is an ace at allowing home runs and hitting batters. He’d be the worst pitcher in our current rotation, unless Beachy’s done for.

  104. 104
    blazon Says:

    Baseball Cathedrals

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/10/18/sports/baseball/aerials.html#

  105. 105
    ryan c Says:

    Let’s see…if the Reds took all of Uggla’s contract in the Reds trade, the Braves would be paying Phillips 4/24 million? That doesn’t sound THAT bad. Even in a down year, he was worth 2.6 WAR (and had a slightly below average BABIP.

    Given the choice of eating 18 million of Uggla’s salary and shipping him off elsewhere, giving La Stella the 2b job, or eating none of his salary and sending him off to Cincy while taking Phillip’s salary, I’m leaning toward the 1st option. I think I’d be OK with either.

  106. 106
    csg Says:

    Leyland is stepping down

  107. 107
    Nathan Smith Says:

    @105:
    I think if the Reds took all of Uggla’s contract, and we took all of Phillips’ contract, we’d be paying Phillips $50 million over four years, which is much worse than $24 million over four years.

  108. 108
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Wren is not going to go “all in” for 2014 as many of the commenters want. No team with a limited payroll can do that unless they are willing to accept losing in future years. The Braves focus on maintaining a “competitive” albeit not necessarily dominant team with a limited payroll. They do that by protecting their prospects and making deals only when they can get guys-like Justin Upton-that are undervalued by their current team. Wren isn’t going to trade Kimbrel for one year of Scherzer, especially since it’s not clear Scherzer is that good. He would only trade him if he can get someone the team controls for several years. (I don’t know who that would be.)

  109. 109
    csg Says:

    #105 – That’s incorrect. If the Reds are picking up all of Uggla’s contract, we are still paying all of Phillips deal at 4/$50. We are essentially adding the back end of the deal to our budget, his last two years will be 2/$24. Oh yeah, also giving them a top prospect. I’m not a fan.

  110. 110
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Combined WAR:

    YEAR // Uggla // Phillips
    ————————-
    2010 // 4.2 // 4.1
    2011 // 2.0 // 4.9
    2012 // 2.9 // 3.8
    2013 // -1.3 // 1.6

    You’d be paying 50 mil for four years of a vaguely useful player, rather than 30 mil over two years for a player who has no skills whatsoever.

  111. 111
    csg Says:

    Id rather give Uggla the first shot next year of bouncing back with LaStella the backup plan, than bringing Philips in with that contract.

    There is still some value for a 20HR MI who will take a walk.

  112. 112
    sdp Says:

    How did these hats make it out of the factory?

  113. 113
    mavery Says:

    I’m… pretty sure Uggla’s done. It would not be a surprising age curve for him to have cratered and 2012 been his last “good” year, buffeted quite a bit by an extremely good walk rate.

    I just don’t think he’s got the bat speed left to hit even .200.

  114. 114
    Seat Painter Says:

    I was hoping Uggla’s contract would run: Good Year, Decent Year, OK/Bad Year (this year), Poor Year, Fork in the Back Year.

    What we got was: Good Year, Bad Year, Fork in the Back Year.

    If you can get anything at all for Uggla (including partial salary relief), I think you have to take it. Maybe a rich team (like the Jays or Yankees) might be willing to take a $3 million dollar flyer on Uggla rebounding.

  115. 115
    ryan c Says:

    @107&109

    If the Braves are looking at Uggla and his 26 million as sunk cost, I was using simple subtraction…Phillip’s contract (50 million) minus Uggla’s contract (26 million)= 24 million for Brandon Phillips for 4 years. Some people here think the Braves will have to release Uggla and some think that they could find a team to pay 8 million of Uggla’s contract. Either way, picking up Phillips contract and getting rid of Uggla would be like paying Phillips 24-32 million for 4 years. This is the Braves way of looking at it I’m sure.

    Brandon Phillips was valued at 13 million last year. Uggla…2.4.

  116. 116
    krussell Says:

    Phillips is just one year younger than Uggla. We’d be turning our current 2-year problem into a 4-year problem. Plus we’d have to give up a prospect. I think doing nothing is probably better than making things worse.

  117. 117
    Adam R Says:

    @108, The problem is, other franchises have decided to accept future losses in exchange for winning now. One of those franchises just handed our ass to us. I’m sure that’ll be the case every year from here on out, with one team or another, unless something changes.

    I think that, if we really want to win, we have to play tit-for-tat — especially because our strategy of treading water at the wildcard level isn’t going to work in the longer term, when our mid-market payroll gradually becomes a small-market payroll.

    Now really is the time. If Wren doesn’t jump through the window while it’s open, before the TV deal misery begins in earnest, I’ll just show myself out the door.

  118. 118
    W.C.G. Says:

    I don’t really like the specific idea of trading for Phillips, but I like the general idea of cashing out prospects to upgrade this roster. I would redefine the concept @108 – it’s not going all in for 2014, it’s going all in for 2014-2016. That’s the window.

    What that means in practice is that you trade all your Lucas Sims types for MLB upgrades who can help during that window. They draft a new Sims every year anyway.

    But the concept that we shouldn’t make go-for-it moves because we run the risk of being a 70-win team in 2018 is what’s bothersome. By that point you might have won a title, and you go build the farm system back up like they did 2007-10 in preparation for the next big run. Consistent slightly-above-mediocrity isn’t the goal. A peaks-and-valleys strategy will have higher long-run odds of bringing a WS title to Atlanta.

    And yeah the end of that TV deal is going to be rough regardless. Might as well get our kicks in now.

  119. 119
    Zig Says:

    I disagree w/ 117 & 118 and hope the Braves don’t take that approach toward 2014-2016. Better to focus on developing a greater quantity of Lucas Sims and Freddie Freeman types. I think that’s the Cardinal’s approach, more or less–and I like it more than the Dodger’s.

  120. 120
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The Cardinals are in the World Series because they can afford to pay Adam Wainwright $12m (goes to 19.5 next year), Matt Holliday 17m, Yadier Molina 14m, Carlos Beltran 13m, all while eating Jake Wesbrook’s 8.75m and Chris Carpenter’s 10.5m. The Cards aren’t steady in and out of World Series because they keep drafting Lucas Sims and Freddie Freeman types. They’re in and out of WS because they keep drafting those types WHILE SPENDING MILLIONS ON FREE AGENTS. They outspent the Braves by $20 million in 2013.

  121. 121
    Zig Says:

    @120 Okay, fair enough. Cardinals have a bigger budget and can keep their stars longer–though not to the extent, obviously, of keeping Pujols.

    Now, I wish we would spend the $$ to keep players like McCann AND have the best great player development system on the planet.

    Since we can’t / won’t “do it all”, then I’d prefer to be “Tampa with a bigger budget”, or “St. Louis on a discount”; and not think in terms of a short term window when making trades.

  122. 122
    JonathanF Says:

    @117: “One of those franchises just handed our ass to us. I’m sure that’ll be the case every year from here on out, with one team or another, unless something changes.”

    The most succinct statement I’ve ever seen of the general (and false) proposition that the best team wins. Throw a fastball to Uribe and we might even have our ass back and be getting ready to face the Red Sox. (Maybe so, maybe not.) If we got into the playoffs every year as the, say, fifth best team on paper, we’d win a World Series every 7 years or so. Is that not good enough for you?

    Marc Schneider is right. Going “all in” at best makes you the Marlins. Sure, they’ve won two WS. (In neither of which were they best team in basball, IMO )They also have 11 sub .500 seasons out of the 17 that include those 2 WS wins. over the same 17 season the braves have 2 sub-.500 seasons and 12 playoff appearances to the Marlins 2.

  123. 123
    Adam R Says:

    @122, I don’t have a problem with what you’re saying in general. But the thing is, I don’t see any indication that we’ll actually be able to get in the playoffs every year, at least past 2016.

    Lucas Sims and the rest of our farm system doesn’t look like it’s going to save us. Sure, all this money’s also going to come off the books at that time, but who says any impact FAs — to replace Heyward — will be available? More teams than can do so now will probably be in position to extend their best players, and we’ll be heading slowly in the other direction, in that regard.

    If our mid-to-long-term future didn’t look so bleak, I might be singing a different tune. But let’s face it, it’s not going to be too long before we really are the Marlins, so let’s temporarily be the Marlins, with less meddlesome/crooked ownership.

  124. 124
    Marc Schneider Says:

    I wasn’t really advocating the approach I outlined so much as saying I think this is the Braves’ approach. The Braves don’t have a rabid fan base filling the stadium, a lucrative TV deal, or an owner striving to win a title before he dies. I think Liberty Media is probably quite happy with a team that is competitive within budgetary limits but is not necessarily a dominant team. So, I just don’t see Wren making the kinds of moves (ie, Kimbrel for Scherzer) that a lot of people here are advocating. And his record with “big” deals isn’t that good-Derek Lowe, Dan Uggla, and, at least for now, BJ Upton.

    Personally, I’m tired of seeing the Braves go into the playoffs with flawed teams that everyone knows has to get lucky to win. (Which is, of course, true in general of the playoffs but some teams are clearly better than others.) More importantly, for whatever reason, the Braves never rise to the occasion. But I just don’t see ownership ever trying to be the “best” team; they are going to rely on being a pretty good team that might get hot. That approach hasn’t worked but it might some day; it worked twice for the Giants. I think this is how the Braves look at it; it’s not necessarily what I would prefer.

  125. 125
    slugworth Says:

    @124

    If your team can never “rise to the occasion” then you find a manager who can make it happen. Fredi G. is not that manager.

  126. 126
    Seat Painter Says:

    @125 I hear Jim Leyland is available.

    Of course, he may not be that manager either. ;)

  127. 127
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    God. This again? Are we now going to run through how we need “heart” and “grit” and the “will to win” that Mike Matheny magically brings to his clubhouse by means of chicken bones and entrails?

  128. 128
    Smitty Says:

    Jim Leyland sneaking off to chain smoke would be fun to watch

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

    I’m very on board with trading Uggla for Brandon Phillips, and I’d gladly trade them a prospect for the privilege.

    Phillips is in serious decline, but he’s a better player than Uggla, a superior fielder and baserunner who isn’t that much worse of a hitter, plus he’s 15 months younger. And because he’s a better athlete than Dan Uggla, he’s likely to age more gracefully as well — i.e., he won’t necessarily forget how to hit and be worth negative WAR in 2014.

    I hope.

  130. 130
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Does Brandon Phillips have working eyes? Get him!

  131. 131
    krussell Says:

    $50 million for a 2B that kinda maybe doesn’t totally suck right now, but probably will in a year or two? Gawd. We’re never going to be able to sign our actual good players to any deals, because we spend it all on older bad players. The negotiations for Hewyard/Freeman/Simmons will all start with “well, you gave BJ Upton 5 yrs / 75 M … I’m three times the player he is … so let’s go with 7 yrs / 200 M … “

  132. 132
    Johnny Says:

    I’d rather simply cut Uggla but if we must trade him then it should be for a nobody and we eat some salary. If we must incentivise the deal then we should throw in a prospect not named Sims or Graham. The team was about to give Pastornicky a good chance to win 2b so I think its within reason that he, La Stella, EJ and Pena be given a chance to win the position in camp.

    edit: Given all of that I would be on board with a Uggla for Phillips trade. The Braves obviously know more about how prepared La Stella and other candidates are for the show. The money isn’t the thing that makes me squeamish about this its the the prospect the Reds will demand.

  133. 133
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @131: if Jason Heyward turns into the player you hope he will, he’s going to cost $25 mil per year. Get used to the fact that he’ll walk, as surely as Brian McCann before him.

  134. 134
    nongnong Says:

    One thing we have going for us is that we have several players who we can expect improvement from next season. The three starters we had left going down the stretch all had good years, Minor only has 85 big league starts under his belt, Medlen 61, Teheran 35 and Beachy has 46. I think it’s fair to expect some improvement from most or all of these guys given how early in their careers they are. Surely having a stable of young number 2 starters is an enviable position, hopefully one or two of them takes that next step towards Ace hood. of any upgrades Wren makes to second base or the bullpen, I believe that the two key players are Beachy and BJ. Of all of the starters on this club, I think Beachy has looked the most like a game 1 starter throughout his career; good control, throws hard, high K rate. If he’s healthy, and I’m managing, he’s my “ace”. Also, if BEEJ had been serviceable at the plate, he’d have been playing CF and we’d have had a plus defensive outfield, rather than a terrible one that turned any hit into the OF into extra bases.

  135. 135
    A.West Says:

    Re BP, I thought the Braves used to avoid signing clubhouse cancers, especially to long deals.
    I’d rather flip the coin on Uggla regressing toward his mean, considering that Pastornicky should be available if Uggla cannot hit reset, and LaStella is in development. At least Uggla is over in 2 years. Trying with BP is like doubling down on a longshot.

  136. 136
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @133, I’m not willing to get used to that fact. McCann didn’t fit this team because catchers age uniquely poorly relative to the contract that he’s likely to get. When Heyward becomes eligible for free agency, he’ll be an outfielder with a number of effective years remaining. There’s no question that his price will be over $100 million, and he’ll be worth it — and I don’t think that the team would necessarily balk at that, considering the $75 million for Upton.

    So the open question is: how much higher than $100 million? $120? $150? $170?

    At some point, you can’t just let your good players walk. You have to pay a few of them to build around. Even Oakland ponied up and paid Eric Chavez. I’m sure that the team has talked to Heyward and Freeman’s agents, but the negotiations have probably broken down because it’s in the players’ interest to wait — their value is generally going to rise the closer they are to free agency, unless they either have a catastrophic injury or a catastrophic slump. So the team’s leverage is relatively low.

  137. 137
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Clubhouse cancer? I hadn’t been aware of that. Can you be more specific?

  138. 138
    Mikemc Says:

    If Philips is unhappy in Cincy, why will he be happy in ATL? I’d stay away from him. I don’t think there is much hope that someone will take Uggla off our hands. Personally I think his biggest problem is his approach at the plate. He tries to pull every pitch over the LF fence. No pitcher in his right mind will give him anything to hit. That’s why his best hope is a walk. He’ll connect with a hanging curve once a month, but who cares?

  139. 139
    Adam R Says:

    I think Phillips believes he got shortchanged on his extension once the Reds handed out the Votto megadeal.

  140. 140
    krussell Says:

    @133, I’m fully aware that we won’t be able to keep all of our guys if they develop they way we hope they will (and if they don’t then we don’t want to sign them long-term anyways). I’m on-board with the “we have a two year window” thought process.

  141. 141
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @136: when was the last time the Atlanta Braves spent top dollar for a “Type A” free agent? Chipper Jones? Greg Maddux? They used to play in the “top of the class” free agent market. They don’t any more. They bargain shop in the middle tiers where they hope they get good years out of the Dan Ugglas, BJ Uptons and Ageing Tim Hudson’s of the world. They don’t have the resources to pursue the Sabbathias, or the Pujols, or the Kershaws, etc. There is no reason to think, barring some major change in how Liberty allocates money to the Braves’ payroll, that they will be in the market to keep Superstar Jason Heyward either.

  142. 142
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    It’s very possible that Phillips needs a change of scenery. I don’t think that means that he’ll necessarily be unhappy in Atlanta. Besides, he’s from Atlanta. He went to Redan, so he may well have family and friends here. That might be nice for him, too.

  143. 143
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @141, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and Greg Maddux all signed team-friendly extensions with the Braves; so did Brian McCann and Tim Hudson. John Schuerholz famously used to demand a Braves discount, and that was back in the days when we were flush.

    We can’t bid at the top of the market. But we basically never did.

  144. 144
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I don’t care if Phillips is besties with Chris Johnson. I care if he brings offensive and defensive production to the black hole that was 2B in Atlanta once Pena went down.

  145. 145
    JonathanF Says:

    @143: Except for Bruce Sutter…. and don’t forget Andy “Channel” Messersmith.

  146. 146
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @143 – that’s my point. If Jason Heyward becomes the megastar we all hope Jason Heyward turns out to be in 2014-16, barring a major rebudgeting process, he will be too expensive for Atlanta.

  147. 147
    krussell Says:

    We obviously can’t pay everyone $20M per year … but I still feel like that level should be reserved for the best one or two players in the game at that position. I would argue we don’t have anyone that’s even close to that level right except for Kimbrel (who I’m ok with letting walk) and maybe Simmons if he can hit a little better. This generation’s baby-Braves are very unlikely to all command max-out contracts when they hit the FA market.

    Let’s say we get “unlucky” and all of these guys do put up numbers in the next two seasons that put them at the top of the game for their positions … let’s try to make sure that we have the supporting cast around them to make a deep playoff run. It’s kinda of in the “nice problems to have” category. Liberty Media: why can’t we spend $10-20M or so extra right now to put this team in better position to win in 2014/2015? It will all get so much more expensive after that anyways…

  148. 148
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @145, these are important points, and ones that I intend to forget in approximately 15 minutes.

  149. 149
    JonathanF Says:

    @148: Like most of my comments, that’s about 14 minutes too long. But seriously, folks: the Braves have experimented with pure free agent signings from time to time. Of top drawer free agents, I count Maddux as working out. I may be missing someone else, but if they worked out, I will probably disagree that they were top drawer in the FA process.

    Economists would say that this is a near-perfect example of the Winner’s Curse. Whatever you think a player is worth, you ought to discount that value fairly heavily once you recognize that the guy willing to pay him the most is simply the guy who has most overestimated his value. Like War Games, the usual answer is not to play, as long as there are guys with much deeper pockets (Red Sox, Yankees) and others who don’t understand the Winner’s Curse (Amaro, Minaya).

  150. 150
    cthenrys Says:

    To quote a friend of mine when asked what he thought about a BP / Uggla swap – “Mackenzie Phillips, Wilson Phillips, who cares – I’d swap em for Uggla”

    I’m in the pro-Brandon Phillips crowd. He was a legit cleanup hitter for a playoff team, is a legitimate perennial All Star and if you swap out his 2013 numbers with Uggla’s, I think you have at least a couple more games in the regular season and there is no doubt you are better off in the postseason this year. Is there risk in the back half of the contract, yes, but getting anything for Uggla, much less a legit major leaguer would be a good deal in my book.

  151. 151
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Of course, famously, the Braves did not put in the high bid on Maddux — the Yankees did, which goes to my point. Schuerholz was known for demanding his discounts, and if a free agent didn’t care to give him one then Schuerholz wasn’t going to weep about losing out on him.

    As much as anything, Schuerholz’s genius was sticking to his guns no matter what. He rarely made a panic move (drafting Joey Devine and trading for Mark Teixeira are the rare exceptions); instead he patiently, ploddingly, did what he always did.

  152. 152
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The problem being that the Braves of the 1990s could do that. They were the premiere franchise in the National League and arguably in all of baseball. They could demand free agents take a “yeah, but you get to play for the Braves” discount to the final dollar figure. Today’s Braves don’t have that luxury. We don’t sit in the top five in payroll any more. We don’t command that level of respect just by being the best franchise around any more. Clayton Kershaw isn’t sitting around thinking “how much would it be worth to me to just get to pitch in Atlanta?”

    Unless something changes with ownership, we are a mid-market team who seems to be trending toward small market, not toward “let’s increase the payroll to $110 mil just for fun, Liberty!” We are no longer owned by an eccentric billionaire intent on winning baseball games at any cost. We’re owned by bean counters from Denver.

  153. 153
    kc Says:

    They used to say Sheffield and Justin were clubhouse cancer too.

  154. 154
    A.West Says:

    Only bunting enthusiasts would take a pay cut to play for Freddi. Especially after the Uggla and BJ Upton postseason incidents.

  155. 155
    kc Says:

    @143. We can’t purely just emphasize JS’s ability in getting discount from players without highlighting that players WANT to play for Bobby. I don’t think Fredi has reached that status yet.

  156. 156
    slugworth Says:

    Yet? I’ll go with “never will”.

  157. 157
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    And Mike Matheny or John Farrell have? Free agents are fighting for the honor of playing for Joe Maddon and 12 fans in Tampa every night?

    Free agents go where the money and the playing time are.

  158. 158
    krussell Says:

    I think one of the reasons the Cardinals are so frustrating to me is that they really don’t outspend us by all that much. 20M is not chump change, but it’s not an egregious payroll difference like Boston or LA or a few others. A big percentage of their roster is home grown and cost-controlled. Right now a guy that was 21 and in the minors to start the season looks like he’s on track to be their postseason MVP.

    The Cards are just a better version of the Braves’ mid-market success recipe. Their corner OF’ers are older and better hitters than ours right now, but I like ours over the next couple of years more than theirs. Our infields stack up relatively evenly if we can shore up 2B with someone at least league average. They have the best catcher in the game. We’ll be somewhat shaky with Gattis but near the top of the league at the position offensively (hopefully). The starting rotations are where they really have the edge at the moment and for the foreseeable future. They have one solid ace and a couple other aces-in-training – all power pitchers. We have a handful of guys that are close, but they have a clear edge there I think. Their pen is all young guys you’ve never heard of that throw mid-90’s – ours seems to be that way every year. Pretty even there. Their bench is deep. Ours used to be deep until everything in 2013 happened.

    We’re pretty close to them I think. Close enough to where an extra 20M in 2014/15 might put us over the top if our young guys can put together a few career seasons. The timing seems right to go for it. The question is really whether there’s anyone out there in the market that’s worth going for.

  159. 159
    kc Says:

    @158. The difference between 200m and 220m may not be big, but the difference between 90m and 110m is quite significant. Imagine if we have one more $20m bat or pitcher.

    @157. I am agreeing with you. Nobody takes discount anymore unless we are talking about very specific player at a very specific location: like Hudson in Atlanta. Otherwise, players go where the money is. They may not all take the highest bid, but no free agent will accept any significant discount.

  160. 160
    ryan c Says:

    La Stella 1/3 RBI BB last night. He still hasn’t struck out. His minors numbers suggest that the strikeout thing isn’t a fluke as he’s only struck out 88 times in 998 plate appearances, with 111 walks to go with that. That sure would bring some added long ABs to the top of the order to go with Heyward. I say give him a chance.

  161. 161
    kc Says:

    @160. For some reason, I can feel a lot of Dustin Ackley in La Stella.

  162. 162
    Dusty Says:

    161 – I wanted to disagree with you but they are sort of similar. Here are the Minor League numbers for each

    Ackley .290/.397/.443 12.5K%
    La Stella .327/.412/.496 8.8K%

    Of course Ackley was more highly regarded as a prospect and played all his minor league ball in AA/AAA whereas La Stella has yet to play any at AAA. Ackley had a decent rookie season (finished 6th in ROY voting) but has since really struggled with Ks (20.8 of his ML ABs). Don’t foresee La Stella having the same contact problems.

  163. 163
    kc Says:

    @162. I hope i am wrong, but I tend to be worried when I see such low power stats for a contact hitter. Of course, we have a perfect example to counter this argument in Martin Prado.

  164. 164
    csg Says:

    Does LaStella have the potential arm to play third? If not, I really don’t understand our interest in Brandon Phillips.

  165. 165
    Adam R Says:

    If he’s fringy at 2B, it’s doubtful he’d play a good 3B.

    Most importantly: Brandon Phillips lets us package up La Stella in a deal for a legit ace. I can see it now: La Stella at 2B for the White Sox, and Chris Sale in our rotation.

  166. 166
    ryan c Says:

    Scenario 1: Braves trade Uggla, paying everything but 8 million, then sign Infante for 3/30m. Total cost: 48 million

    Scenario 2: Braves trade Uggla for Brandon Phillips. Total cost: 24 million

    Scenario 3: Braves trade Uggla, paying everything but 8 million, then commence battle between Pastornicky, La Stella, and Pena. Total cost: 19 million.

    What does the group here want?

  167. 167
    Rob Cope Says:

    I want Dustin Pedroia.

  168. 168
    Nick Says:

    Unless it’s as a means to get an ace (as Adam R pointed out above), I really don’t understand the Brandon Phillips thing. Will he be better than Uggla for the remaining two years of Uggla’s contract? Almost certainly. The problem comes with the fact that there’s two additional years after that on the Phillips deal, and he’s very likely to be completely useless by the third and fourth year. Hell, he’s already on the downturn now. Why do we wanna rid ourselves (and not really rid ourselves, just potentially get a small amount of compensation for) an albatross contract only to take on another one? And all of this distracts from the real issue, in my mind, which is that we need to acquire an ace. So unless it’s some sort of gambit where we then package La Stella and Pastornicky for an ace, I’m not a huge fan of this deal.

    Besides, we know how bad Uggla’s been. Shouldn’t it be telling you something that Cincinnati would rather have Uggla as their second baseman for two years than Brandon Phillips for four?

    I’m on-board with dumping Uggla, but if we have to take an even worse contract on just to do it, I think I’d rather just release him, eat the full contract, and go into the year with Pastornicky and La Stella competing for the second base job. Having a platoon of those two at second base going into next year will probably actually be an improvement of the production we got at the position this year, anyway.

    The main goal of the offseason should be acquiring an ace by almost any means necessary IMO.

    EDIT: @166 – So obviously, I vote for Scenario 3.

  169. 169
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Same topic, new thread. With more tables!

  170. 170
    csg Says:

    Yes 3 is the one that obviously makes the most sense. Option 1 shouldn’t really be discussed. It basically means we’d be paying our 2nd base position $19 mil per year for the next two years.

    $10 for Infante, $9 for Uggla

  171. 171
    td Says:

    What about the option of keeping Uggla at the start of the year and seeing if he’s improved. If not, we cut ties with him before mid season and give it to the best performer of La Stella and Pena. Not that I’m in favor of this option, but do you guys see it as a possibility?

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