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20 Nov

Where Do We Go From Here, 2013.1: BJ and Dan — Rebuild or Replace?

For all of the great work Frank Wren and company have done to build the roster over the last few years; there have been some moves that looked good on paper, but have turned out to be disasters. In this post we will review two of those moves and the next steps the organization may take.

Dan Uggla

In 2010 Dan Uggla put up the best numbers of his career and won the Silver Slugger award for National League second basemen. He went to the Marlins and stated he wanted a multi-year deal and to be paid like one of the best second basemen in the game. The Marlins being the Marlins laughed and said, “Uh…no.”

The Braves were coming off a season where they had no real right handed power and  were being forced to face a bunch of lefties, which they couldn’t hit. Wren saw an opportunity and made a move for Uggla and signed him through 2015.

If you remember, Uggla’s 2011 season started off terribly. Then on July 06, 2011 he started a 33 game hitting streak and raised his average 60 points. He finished the year with 36 home runs (a career high) and played pretty well the second half of the season.  It appeared the weight of the new contract may have been to blame for his slow start.

The 2012 season started off better for Uggla. He played well enough to be elected to start the All Star Game.  He did fall off during the second half, but was still able to lead the league in walks.  To this point, Uggla had been decent overall.

There were some rumblings in the early part of the 2013 season that Uggla was having vision issues and needed contact lenses. There was a sense of hope that once Uggla’s vision was corrected he would be back to the 2010 form. As they year went on and Uggla’s average went down, it was decided that corrective eye surgery was the way to go.

By late August, when it was apparent the surgery hadn’t fixed Uggla, the team picked up Elliot Johnson who was released by the Kansas City Royals.  While Johnson wasn’t great, he played well enough to earn the starting job in the playoffs. When Uggla was informed he wasn’t going to be on the playoff roster, it appeared evident he probably wouldn’t be in Atlanta in 2014.

BJ Upton

Prior to the 2013 season, the big debate amongst Braves fans was “Do we give Michael Bourn all the money? If so, we will probably lose Brian McCann.” Bourn’s 2012 pitiful second half probably convinced the Braves he was not worth a long term deal. Since there was no one in the organization to play center field, the Braves made a run at super talented free agent BJ Upton.

Tampa Bay drafted Upton with the second overall pick in 2002 and he made his big league debut almost two years after signing. While he had never lived up to his second overall pick status, it was obvious he was a very good player who was about to hit his prime. The Braves locked him into a five year $75.25 million dollar deal, the largest free agent deal in team history.  Then made a trade for his brother, Justin. The size of the  contract pretty much guaranteed McCann would be playing somewhere else in 2014. 

Upton’s 2013 got off to a terrible start. While his brother was giving fans in the outfield plenty of souvenirs, BJ was looking totally over matched at the plate. This probably didn’t help his confidence very much and he never got things turned around.

Much like Uggla, Upton eventually lost his starting spot and was relegated to pinch runner duties in the playoffs.  He finished the season with  almost 20 fewer home runs (28 to 9) and an OBP of .268.

Where Do We Go From Here:

The value of both players right now is very very low. Both players appear to be popular with their teammates. It also doesn’t appear that the terrible seasons are related to poor effort. Any media reports on their situations usually contained, “has watched lots of film” and “put in hours of extra work in the cage.”

If it were up to me, I would look very seriously at moving both. However, I believe the Braves are only actively looking to move Uggla for a deal that has them pick up the least amount of the bill. There are also more internal options to replace Uggla.

Upton is a little more difficult. He is younger and has a better chance to rebound. Plus at this point in his career, he has a much high upside than Uggla. There are relatively no internal candidates to replace him, unless the organization wants to play Jason Heyward there every day. There is also a risk of ticking off his brother and have a clubhouse fallout. That being said, I would still keep my options open.  

Perhaps there is another team out there with a bad contract we can work out a “change of scenery swap.” At one point this fall I read interesting ideas of flipping BJ for Matt Kemp or Uggla for Brandon Phillips.

Based on various media reports, the Braves are only actively looking to move Uggla. They will probably wait until after the Arizona Fall league is complete to see how Tommy La Stella finishes.

I expect Uggla will be moved (probably to an American League team to DH) and Upton to be the starting center fielder for the Atlanta Braves in 2014.

108 Responses to “Where Do We Go From Here, 2013.1: BJ and Dan — Rebuild or Replace?”

  1. 1
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Upton: fish
    Uggla: cut bait

  2. 2
    Johnny Says:

    I think we have to trade Uggla at this point. The only question is who do you include as sweetner for someone to take some/any of his salary?

    Question to Braves Journal: failing a trade do we just release him and eat 26 extra large?

    I think we have to give Upton the benefit of the doubt. So my question is do we try to acquire a good glove/no hit CF just in case he is going early Andruw on us or do we trust in Success! or Contstanza?

  3. 3
    Mikemc Says:

    Why would you want somebody who can’t hit to be DH?

  4. 4
    Smitty Says:

    @3

    Well, he really can’t field either. Maybe a platoon at DH. He still has some pop

  5. 5
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Milwaukee.

    Prior to trading for one Juan Francisco, the Brewers played YUNIESKY BETANCOURT at 1B. They have Francisco now, but as we all know, Francisco is a LH slugger who couldn’t hit a LHP if his life depended on it. They could easily get at useful reps out of Uggla at 1B and by splitting time with Rickie Weeks at 2B. (If they flipped Weeks and his 11 mil salary to the Braves Atlanta would save 4 mil in 2014 and the entirety of 2015, barring other financial parts to a deal.)

  6. 6
    Smitty Says:

    @5

    I could see that. I also think Minnesota, Houston, Seattle and Kansas City.

  7. 7
    Rob Cope Says:

    I don’t really see the point in trading Uggla. He’s got such little value that no one will give us anything for him, and we’re going to eat a lot of his salary in the process. Releasing him guarantees we’ll eat almost all of his salary, and there’s no chance it gets any better. If you keep him within the organization, why not send him through waivers and see if he can fix things in AAA? If he can mentally handle that, that’s a way of keeping a spot free on the 25 man for a useful player, and we still have the option of retaining value with him.

    The only way I would think differently is if someone actually took on a decent amount of his salary ($8-10M). Then you let him go and get someone who can play. But, no one is going to do that since they themselves could just go get someone who can play. Either way, we made our bed on his contract and we’re going to have to live with it.

  8. 8
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I doubt the Braves will trade Uggla for nothing, but if they can get a modicum of salary relief a la Lowe to Cleveland, or anything of nominal value in return, they will trade him. His value is obviously as low as it has ever been (which should not be confused with as low as it can get, because it could be lower this time next year) but Dan Uggla, by all appearances, has completely worn out his welcome in the Braves’ clubhouse. And the Braves rarely hold onto a guy who does not fit “the Braves way” in the clubhouse any longer.

    See also Lofton, Kenny.

  9. 9
    Rob Cope Says:

    What appearances are you referring to that conclude that he’s “worn out his welcome”? The fact that he was angry he was left off the postseason roster? A competitive guy is going to come off well to fellow competitive guys.

    Maybe the clubhouse doesn’t like Bibi Jones…

  10. 10
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I am referring to the tension between the manager and Uggla over the second half of the season.

  11. 11
    cliff Says:

    Rob, at 9,

    There haven’t been any direct reports on this, but when Uggla said in June or July that he really hadn’t been seeing right since when he started spring training, I think that caught the Braves by surprise. Like why in the F _ _ _ didn’t you tell us? I think particularly with Fredi having been his manager, I am SURE Fredi had said, “Dan, is there anything wrong?”, bunches of times. So, I have inferred (and I know this could be wrong) that Uggla really went on Fredi’s “shit list” then. And then, a hissy fit over not being on the roster when he had been even worse after the surgery. By then Fredi had had it with Uggla.

    There is a chance that the vision is the primary problem and that adjustments to the AK etc. will get him seeing better and a 240 / 340 / 440 line. I say less than 10%, but non zero. If so, he is tradeable almost even up for nothing. Without that improvement, I say anything over Major League minimum is hard to see (except that Schumacher and some other useless veteran middle infielder both got around 5 over 2 years in the past week).

    Can somebody comment to whether Uggla can be sent to the minors without his approval? I don’t think so. I think he could accept his release but the Braves would still owe the money.

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

    I don’t think that the Braves should cut Uggla if they can’t get any salary relief on him. But I don’t think they’ll have to. Uggla hit 22 homers last year. There is someone who will be willing to take a flier on him. The question is, how big a flier? If the Braves can get $5 million in relief it’ll be good enough for me.

  13. 13
    Johnny Says:

    So, none of you think that the Braves are going to have to include a prospect for someone to take Uggla?

  14. 14
    ryan c Says:

    Interesting that Terdoslavich went to the D.R. yesterday and today Peanut posts a piece on Terdo potentially being part of a package to get Lohse.

  15. 15
    Smitty Says:

    @13

    There will probably have to be.

    I wonder if Terdo, Uggla and a porspect would go to the Brewers for Lohse.

  16. 16
    Michael Says:

    I for one think the Braves should invoke the “conduct detrimental to the team” clause of Uggla’s contract….as in “Dan, your conduct at the plate has been detrimental to the team. You’re fired.”

  17. 17
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @13 – no. If the Braves were willing to trade Dan Uggla for $500K of salary relief, someone would trade for that. If the Braves want someone to take on a major portion of his salary, they may have to add a sweetener. There are as many scenarios for how that deal gets done as there are teams who could use a 2B who hit 20+ HRs in the worst season of his professional career.

    I won’t be shocked if Uggla + moderate prospect type is moved for someone taking on $10m of his annual contract for the next two years. The Braves value getting out of that contract more than they value a moderately useful prospect type, I’m sure.

  18. 18
    A.West Says:

    If the Braves care about money, they may have a strong temptation to hold on to Uggla through spring training. His perceived value cannot sink much lower than it already has, and if Uggla gets lucky in spring training, the Braves can plant stories about how it took a few months for Uggla to adjust to his eyes, and now he’s good again. Then they might at least get a little value in return for him. Selling over the winter will probably be equivalent to giving Uggla away for nearly nothing. The Braves finance department will probably do some probability and scenario analysis on Uggla and try a better risk/return strategy.

  19. 19
    Rob Cope Says:

    I think we’re wanting to read how we feel about Uggla into what the FO feels. I have not read anything of significance that infers (let alone deliberately says) that the FO has been any more unhappy with Uggla than they would with any player with poor value. “Sh*t list”, “hissy fits”, those are just emotion phrases that I don’t think bear any resemblance to what’s actually happened.

  20. 20
    Johnny Says:

    @17 – If the Braves only desire 500k of salary relief then why wouldn’t they simply release him. Someone will pick him up for the MLB minimum. They should try as hard as they can to trade him but if there are no takers then what?

    I think that the quality of the prospect involved in a trade will be proportional to the amount the receiving team is willing to take on.

    @18 – The Braves care about money but I can’t see a scenario where he is a Brave during Spring Training. If DOB and Peanut are already out on the net announcing that Wren is looking to trade Uggla, it sounds like a done deal.

  21. 21
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Joey Terdoslavich + Dan Uggla + “a prospect”

    for

    Kyle Lohse + Rickie Weeks

  22. 22
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Uggla is a sunk cost. If the Braves think he has no value to the team, they should not hold onto him simply because they have invested money. That money is already gone. Make the decision whether to keep him based on what is optimal for the team. Obviously, if they can dump him somewhere and get some salary relief that would be preferable, but if they think he has no value to the team, release him and eat the money. There is a possibility-at least theoretically-that he could improve and provide some value, so you probably would not simply release him before spring training but IF he appears to be as bad as he was last year, he should be gone. For all intents and purposes, if he sucks like last year and you keep him on the team, you are eating his salary anyway because he won’t play much.

  23. 23
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Uggla + Terdo + David Hale for Lohse + Weeks

    2014: Milwaukee trades 22m (Lohse @ 11, Weeks @11) for 15m (Uggla)
    2015: Milwaukee trades 11m (Lohse) for 15m (Uggla)

    Weeks is a FA after next season.

  24. 24
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Obviously, I meant to say they should cut Uggla if they are unable to trade him.

  25. 25
    Remy Says:

    It always bothered me that the Braves cut Marcus Giles and got nothing in return for him.

  26. 26
    W.C.G. Says:

    My guess is it’s probably Derek Lowe II, where the team takes back nothing in particular and eats all but $5MM/season. If that’s the plan Wren would probably want to do it sooner than later so as to be able to buy someone with the salary relief. That might be why they’re already putting out the bat-signal in the papers.

    A challenge trade for Rickie Weeks would be interesting though. If Weeks sucks they’re in no worse position (La Stella, Pena, Pastornicky can fight it out still) but the contract is over a year earlier.

    I still have a grudge against Kyle Lohse. Don’t bring me Kyle Lohse, Wren.

  27. 27
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I still have a grudge against Kyle Lohse. Don’t bring me Kyle Lohse, Wren.

    We root for the laundry, man. He’s a younger version of split-the-difference-between-Hudson-and-Maholm.

  28. 28
    Remy Says:

    Would Bronson Arroyo be a good fit for the Braves? He’s old but durable.

  29. 29
    D.N. Nation Says:

    http://www.ajc.com/news/business/atlanta-braves-plan-400-million-entertainment-dist/nbyxr/

    Stadium/neighborhood renderings.

  30. 30
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Arroyo would be a fall back option, but as a FA he’s going to come at a cost. The Braves are more likely to make a trade I suspect.

  31. 31
    W.C.G. Says:

    @27, I made an exception for Livan Hernandez’ laundry. I reserve the right. Irrational sports-hatred of anyone associated with the 2011-current Cardinals is, I believe, our sworn duty.

  32. 32
    Dusty Says:

    Braves added LHP Carlos Perez, RHP Luis Vasquez and INF Elmer Reyes to the 40-man. I guess these are guys they want to protect from the Rule V draft.

    Seems Braves view Vasquez as a viable bullpen candidate this year.

  33. 33
    gaz Says:

    “Cobb County is a very progressive county,” said Plant. “Stay tuned for more good things on transit, traffic and parking.”

    D.N. Nation – Your thoughts? Address this point!

  34. 34
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    It’s not 1960 any more. Cobb County has some bad elements left out there, but then again, so does Fulton County.

  35. 35
    Marc Schneider Says:

    “We root for the laundry, man.”

    Amen.

  36. 36
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @31, agreed. They better not sign Jason Lane Chris Burke as a free agent, either. (edited because I forgot which member of the 2005 Astros I was attempting to make a hateful reference to.)

  37. 37
    Mike N. Says:

    Ah, but they’ve already had Chris Burke! He played at Gwinnett for half a season a couple years ago.

  38. 38
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    No one tells me these things! I’m furious in retrospect.

  39. 39
    Zac Says:

    BJ will be fine. Uggla has three years of decline that is hard to wish away. This team is gonna win some games next year.

  40. 40
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I loathe Carlos Beltran. Until the day he dons the gear.

  41. 41
    csg Says:

    DOB already mentioned that Arroyo is not in the plans. I think we could make something happen with Milwaukee for Lohse.

  42. 42
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I can deal with the fact that Arroyo has basically had the same semi-decent year for each season in the past decade. I just can’t deal with the dreadlocks.

  43. 43
    urlhix Says:

    He’s solid, but his leg kick is what really hurts my eyes.

  44. 44
    csg Says:

    DOB has recently mentioned Lohse and Lackey. Id much rather have Lohse.

  45. 45
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Detroit sending Prince Fielder to Texas for Ian Kinsler.

  46. 46
    ryan c Says:

    My fantasy trade for Profar is kaput. 👎

  47. 47
    c. shorter Says:

    46 — I was thinking the same thing.

  48. 48
    Adam R Says:

    Infante’s still out there for us.

  49. 49
    ryan c Says:

    Not that this is of any particular significance but Dan Uggla’s house in Franklin, TN is up for sale and there’s some random site that’s talking about “writing on the wall that he’s headed to Cincinnati”. If someone’s writing on his walls, that’ll bring down the value of the property.

  50. 50
    Smitty Says:

    Why would he sell his house if he was goign to the Reds. Cincinnati isn’t that much further from Franklin that Atlanta.

  51. 51
    ryan c Says:

    @50
    I didn’t write it and no, I don’t understand the logic either.

  52. 52
    DG Says:

    Dan is selling his house because he thinks that it costs entirely too much money to make it blind/low vision friendly. He’s moving into one that’s already blind-capable.

  53. 53
    Nick Says:

    By the way, are you pro A-Rod people amused yet? He storms out of the hearing that’s almost guaranteed to at least reduce his suspension because Bud Selig isn’t there in person? Really? Now A-Rod thinks he can dictate how MLB presents its case? Hilarious! I have to remember that’s it’s all in the name of crusading for the horrifyingly crapped-upon players, though. Oh wait…all of them want him to go away, too.

  54. 54
    ryan c Says:

    There’s pro-Arod people here?

  55. 55
    Nick Says:

    They might say they’re really more anti-MLB people who were taking A-Rod’s side, but yes, there were.

  56. 56
    cliff Says:

    ryan c. at 54,

    I think the number of pro A-Rod people has dropped below the range of “pro Congress” and “Pro used car salesman” and is approaching “pro Hitler.”

  57. 57
    csg Says:

    #54 – Ha, exactly what I was thinking. I don’t even know any Yankee fans that are pro-Arod.

  58. 58
    JonathanF Says:

    OK… I’ll take the bait. I’m PRO-AROD. At least until the least bit of non-coerced evidence (so nothing from Bosch) shows that he (a) attempted to get banned substances from Bosch AND (b) Bosch didn’t cheat him by injecting him with saline. There may (eventually) be some evidence on (a) but I bet we never get any on (b).

  59. 59
    Adam R Says:

    I’m pro-A-Rod. It’s a shame that more people didn’t curse out MLB and leave the hearing in protest.

  60. 60
    W.C.G. Says:

    I’m a public defender, so my interest is in making sure that even the easiest people to hate get the same procedure as everyone else, so the system stays one of laws and not one of whims.

    My view is that A-Rod is being put through a show trial and he’s right to call out how ad hoc these proceedings are. An unpopular defendant doesn’t give the prosecution the right to make up the rules as they go. I don’t have to be “pro” him to be concerned for the integrity of the process.

    I realize MLB is not the criminal justice system but my approval of any system of rewards and punishments depends on my perceiving that it’s rules-based and neutrally applied.

  61. 61
    JonathanF Says:

    Incidentally, no one here in NY gets too exercised when you out yourself as pro-AROD. The difficult thing to survive is telling people you’re anti-Jeter.

  62. 62
    Johnny Says:

    @60 – I think you have hit the nail on the head. Most folks around here were not pro Arod but anti how arbitrary the process is.

    Uggla is selling his house in Franklin Tenn because he may be playing in Japan next year. Should the Braves dare ask for a posting fee?

  63. 63
    D.N. Nation Says:

    I’m pro A-Rod in that the way he told the MLB to stick it for this show trial works for me.

  64. 64
    Nick Says:

    A show trial? This was an MLB appeal hearing, exactly the same as any other MLB appeal hearing. MLB was presenting their case and A-Rod didn’t like who MLB put up there to present their case (and it’s MLB’s choice who does go up there), so he stormed out, again, of a hearing that was very likely to result in at least a substantially reduced suspension, given previous precedent and the large, arbitrary length of the suspension. And if there was limited or no evidence, that would factor into the findings of the arbitrator at the appeal hearing and result in even further reduction of the suspension (or perhaps even nullification, though I’m thinking he at least gets the standard 50 games no matter what).

    It’s generally not a good idea to storm out of proceedings that are likely to go your way just so you can grandstand some more. Unless his goal isn’t to improve his situation, but simply to make everybody involved, including himself, look like a complete idiot. If that’s the goal, then he should definitely continue doing what he’s doing, but I don’t think that road leads any place he’d particularly want to go. If MLB doesn’t have any evidence, A-Rod certainly doesn’t have enough evidence to destroy MLB or whatever it is he’s trying to do, either. And he’s rapidly ostracizing the MLBPA in the process, which happened to be the only organization who was sympathetic to his cause.

  65. 65
    ububba Says:

    As it is when he plays, A-Rod’s behavior remains entertaining, albeit in a cringe-inducing, narcissistic-personality-disorder-on-display kinda way.

    At this point, I just find it more fascinating that he has enough money to waste in making a trainwreck/reality show of this thing.

    In my heart, do I believe he’s lying like a rug, creating pointless distractions & making a jerk out of everyone? Of course, but that in itself isn’t as interesting to me anymore. What’s interesting is the lengths that he’ll go to 1) save what’s left of his contract and 2) “protect a legacy” that’s already in tatters.

    He’s a disaster that we’ve never seen before. Get the popcorn.

    Also, for the attorneys here: This arbitration process was collectively bargained, right? And the arbitrator was agreed to by both parties, right?

  66. 66
    W.C.G. Says:

    @65 – sort of. Horowitz is MLB’s in-house arbitrator because MLB fired Shyam Das after Das overturned Ryan Braun’s suspension.

    The imperatives of the job seem clear at this point.

  67. 67
    JonathanF Says:

    Correct W.C.G. and that just exacerbates the “show trial” aspect of the whole thing. And I just want everyone to think a sec: suppose you’re right ububba — he’s lying like a rug. But he can’t possibly know whether he got banned substances or not, right? He can only know whether or not he got an injection. So he can’t lie about that even if he wanted to.

    That’s the whole reason to base suspensions on failed tests, not on intentions. Any charlatan can claim to give you HGH, particularly, if as JC has pointed out, the best evidence is that the effect of HGH is entirely a placebo effect in a normal human being. (It has clear effects in short adolescents, but it’s unclear whether it has any effects in post-adolescents.) Since HGH is really expensive, why not take the money and inject a guy with saline? Everybody wins, except the HGH manufacturer.

  68. 68
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Add me to “pro arod” group. Dude may be a centaur but he is being railroaded for being famous and a good public witch to burn.

    See also Bonds, Barry. Notably I am not “pro Bonds.” I am pro Barry Bonds. No scare quotes needed.

  69. 69
    Nick Says:

    Well, A-Rod sure isn’t actively trying to defend himself in any way that’s going to get him anywhere, so if you’re for him making an ass out of everybody, that’s fine, but someone’s gonna have to enlighten me on what the endgame is here. He just wasted his best chance to get reinstated into baseball in a timely fashion, and I can’t imagine many judges are going to go over the top of MLB and reinstate him when he didn’t feel like going through the collectively-bargained appeals process that was laid out before him. And if the goal isn’t to get reinstated, what exactly is it? His “legacy” was non-existent long before this whole debacle, so it’s not that, either. Or maybe it is and he’s just delusional about his legacy.

  70. 70
    Nick Says:

    As an aside, I will say that MLB is ridiculous for not having given control of their drug testing program to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to begin with. Them having control of the process was always going to lead to something like this eventually, and this very well might result in MLB giving up control of the program, which would be positive. I just can’t see how any of that stands to help A-Rod very much, especially if he refuses to even participate in his own appeal process.

  71. 71
    krussell Says:

    Everyone involved looks bad to me. Either look the other way on PEDs, or institute strict testing and consistent banning of violators (I’m fine with either actually – as long as the playing field is level). The middle ground taken by baseball, where some guys get the witch-hunt treatment while others are still playing as if nothing ever happened, that part is the part that bothers me.

  72. 72
    W.C.G. Says:

    @70, seconded as to the USADA. Too many inherent conflicts of interest for MLB to keep wearing this hat.

  73. 73
    spike Says:

    @29 – “artists renderings” are the Penthouse Forum letters of urban planning

  74. 74
    JonathanF Says:

    @69: On legacies – baseball still counts, among personae non grata, the guy with the most hits, the guy with the most homers and the guy with the third highest career batting average. And A-Rod is now 6 home runs from Willie Mays in 4th place on the HR list. Are you going to say, Nick, that A-Rod wasn’t/isn’t a great ballplayer? Whom baseball chooses to like means exactly nothing to me, nor should it to anyone. His legacy is right there on Baseball Reference, just as Ty Cobb’s is and Moonlight Graham’s is.

  75. 75
    Smitty Says:

    Oh, there is no doubt this is a sho trial for ARod. I don’t like the guy, but this is crazy.

  76. 76
    Grst Says:

    Not the biggest fan of USADA, but there may be something to be said for outsourcing enforcement in this case.

    @71 The middle ground taken by baseball, where some guys get the witch-hunt treatment while others are still playing as if nothing ever happened, that part is the part that bothers me.

    Did I miss something? Who that was proven to have used under the current enforcement regime received no punishment?’

    As for this being a show trial, I’m not sure that’s applicable. This isn’t a trial at all, it’s an appeals process. There’s a significant difference. MLB doesn’t need a trial to punish someone, and I’m glad they haven’t yet pretended that they do.

  77. 77
    Nick Says:

    @74

    Objectively, you’re right. Subjectively, while I would definitely consider him a “great ballplayer” and worthy of induction to the Hall of Fame (since I don’t think steroid suspicion should be a litmus test for that), I do not consider him up there with the all-time greats for multiple reasons, up to and including his constant choking in the postseason and shrinking when the going got tough. And no, this charade isn’t helping my subjective opinion of his place in baseball history, either. And it doesn’t have anything to do with who “baseball chooses to like” so much as my own observations of his career, having watched all of it.

    I’m not sure the career of “Shoeless Joe” Jackson (the third guy you mentioned) was long enough to formulate a completely apt comparison, but if I were forced to choose, I’d probably take A-Rod in that one. But in my opinion, A-Rod’s career doesn’t hold a candle to those of the first two guys you mentioned.

  78. 78
    mavery Says:

    I’m more “pro ARod” than I am “pro MLB” or “pro Bud Selig”. He’s being treated unfairly in an effort to 1) pretend like MLB is “tough on cheaters” and save the most important MLB franchise a boatload of money.

    It’s bullshit, and good on him for fighting the good(ish?) fight.

  79. 79
    W.C.G. Says:

    Willie Mays, career postseason: .247/.323/.337
    Ty Cobb, career postseason: .262/.314/.354
    Capt. Clutch, career postseason: .308/.374/.465
    A-Rod, career postseason: .263/.369/.464

    He’s just an easy target because he’s a totally weird person and this fact shades the perceptions of the writers, whose writing informs the fans’ opinions…

  80. 80
    krussell Says:

    @76, my position is that pretty much everyone was doing it – few got caught, and those that did get caught were punished inconsistently. I have no proof except for my eyes so I can’t argue exactly who/what/when, but it bugs me that Bonds was run out of the game while David Ortiz wins WS MVPs.

  81. 81
    ububba Says:

    #79
    The criticism of A-Rod’s post-season performance comes mostly from Yankee fans, actually.

    He certainly helped carry the Yanks to the ’09 title, but overall he hasn’t been a great post-season performer for the Yankees—244/372/393 in 266 PA, about 180 points off his career OPS. (Oddly, it’s kinda like Bonds, when you look at his 2002 performance vs. his other post-seasons.)

    Most of those post-season numbers mentioned above benefit from his Seattle days (340/375/566 in 56 PA), which is not what the Yankee fans care about, but it was what Yankee ownership was paying for.

    While I do believe too many Yankee fans still have an inner-Steinbrenner that creates wildly unreasonable expectations (especially in terms of WS titles), I don’t believe it’s unreasonable for top-dollar-paying fans to expect the game’s highest-paid player to actually play well in the season’s biggest games.

    That’s why his 2009 post-season seemed so big. For awhile, it tempered much of the fan criticism. (“Wow, our best player finally played well & we won a title—imagine that!”) Of course, it hasn’t helped that he’s gone 160/267/187 (in 86 PA) in the 5 series since that ’09 WS. What have you done for me lately, right?

  82. 82
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Alex Rodriguez is incredibly good at making things worse for himself. His biggest problem is that he wants to be liked, but everything that he does comes off as cold and calculated, preening and self-obsessed, or just plain bizarre. He is a reality show trainwreck trapped in the body of the greatest shortstop since Honus Wagner.

    If he weren’t one of the wealthiest men in America, it would be a tragedy. Instead, it’s a comedy. He can afford to be ridiculed. He just can’t seem to stop making things worse for himself.

    If he would quit protesting so much and loudly complaining that MLB has it in for him and claiming HE HAS NEVER USED PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS other than that one time that he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, he might have had a chance to take a Ryan Braun-type deal. It’s very possible that MLB does have it in for him. But he hasn’t done himself any favors, either in their eyes or in the public eye.

    He has also burned bridges with the Yankees, and I can’t figure out why. Of course they regret all the money they owe him, because he’s old and broken-down and a shadow of his former self. But he has behaved toward them in the same way that he’s behaved toward MLB: loudly proclaimed they have it in for him, hid behind his lawyers, and seemingly gone out of his way to antagonize them.

    Why has he done all of this? You’d have to ask him to be sure. But my guess is that he fundamentally wants to be liked. He wants people to sympathize with him. He wants people to believe that he is in the right. But every time he opens his mouth, he makes that harder.

  83. 83
    spike Says:

    the writers, whose writing informs the fans’ opinions…

    “He wants to blow up the world. You know, he’s like the marathon bombers. ” – Peter Gammons

  84. 84
    Nick Says:

    @82

    That about sums up my opinion. The whole “MLB is overstepping its bounds” thing may be 100 percent accurate. The problem is that you guys have chosen a pretty crappy poster boy for that cause.

  85. 85
    ububba Says:

    #83
    FWIW, Gammons backed off that & apologized pretty quickly.

  86. 86
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    He did, as he had to. It was an unfathomably stupid thing to say, but I’m really happy just to let it go.

    I was in the Boston area when the Marathon was bombed, and I stayed in my apartment all day when the police told everyone to stay inside during the manhunt. It was a hell of a weird week.

  87. 87
    John R. Says:

    The way I read it, Gammons was quoting what a Yankees official had told him?

  88. 88
    W.C.G. Says:

    I’m not here to argue for the decency of Alex Rodriguez the person. I’ll put my firejoemorgan.com shoes on for Alex Rodriguez the ballplayer, but I don’t fundamentally dispute what our Alex wrote @82.

    But I can believe that and still believe that MLB is running him through a kangaroo court that would set an ugly, authoritarian precedent if everyone just throws up their hands and says “screw that weirdo.”

    @84, “hard cases make bad law.”

  89. 89
    ububba Says:

    The 14 other guys in this matter didn’t appeal their suspensions, so A-Rod’s case is a “perfect storm” in an odd way.

    Only A-Rod had 1) such an enormous amount of money being held up with a lengthy suspension, 2) enough cash on hand to appeal & pay attorneys, apparently for quite a while, and 3) a career that’s clearly nearing its end.

    Relative to the other guys, every circumstance is unique. Obviously, A-Rod’s trying to hang onto as much money as he can, and I’m guessing that he has a number (in terms of legal fees vs. remaining contract money) that he’s not willing to cross. (But who the hell knows what that is?)

    This thing could make a helluva book or one really bad TV movie.

  90. 90
    JonathanF Says:

    @84, 88

    Bad behavior by MLB doesn’t need a poster child on the other side to be bad behavior. Miranda was a violent criminal, but he still needed to be informed of his rights by the police.

  91. 91
    Scump Says:

    Not to derail the Arod discussion- which I find fascinating, lots of informed and thought-provoking commentary- but was anyone surprised that Ryan got straight up smacked in the head, a far more egregious foul than the SF player’s hit on Brees last week, and there was no call? I know I wasn’t. Man I hate the Saints and while I am all for safety I am beyond frustrated with rules that seem arbitrarily enforced and leave too much of the game in the hands of apparently confused refs. Rant over, sorry for the interruption.

  92. 92
    Jeff M. Says:

    @91 The rules on QB hits are definitely enforced arbitrarily. And it makes it difficult to watch games because one QB is protected to the nth degree and the other is basically left to fend for himself, both of which do effect the outcome of games.

  93. 93
    Nick Says:

    Have I mentioned that I hate the Saints? With the fire of a thousand suns? I’m pretty sure that of the last 10 truly awful thoughts I’ve had where I had to tell myself, “Wow, you really need to chill a bit here,” the Saints were involved in nine of them.

  94. 94
    Smitty Says:

    @90

    Great point.

  95. 95
    cliff Says:

    On sympathy for / against A Rod and desire for a just process.

    To me, A-Rod is (IN THE CONTEXT OF BASEBALL, not that evil of a person) like a Mob boss. There is ample evidence that he is in fact involved in what he is accused of. You have difficulty proving exactly which incident and when, but there is too much smoke for there not to be a fire.

    And, when there is evidence that the Mob boss tried to destroy evidence or influence witnesses or jurors, then my respect for the due process rights of the mob boss go out the window.

    People with vast money and power force the system to give them unequal justice in their favor. So when the Bobby Kennedy’s load the Carlos Marcello’s into a DC 3 and drop them in Guatemala, it may be wrong, but it doesn’t make me want to like Marcello or support his due process rights. (and that reference is your entrée to the fact that it has been 50 years today since, apparently, Marcello got his revenge).

  96. 96
    Stewart Says:

    I’m with you guys on the Saints. Their generous treatment from the refs hasn’t slowed down since 2005. For the Falcons, the story of the season aside from injuries (for me) is “Matt Ryan: The Hunted.” We’ll see what happens in the offseason for them.

    RE: A-Rod. In my opinion, the whole show boils down to money, and A-Rod has tens of millions of reasons to try to make a stink. If jail time or a serious curtailing of rights were at stake, I would have more sympathy for his cause. For MLB and for A-Rod, the suspension and the circus have been business decisions, respectively.

  97. 97
    ryan c Says:

    Chris Young was worth 0.5 WAR last year and just received 7.25 million. I’m now thoroughly convinced that we can trade Dan Uggla and not have to eat as much salary as what we originally thought.

  98. 98
    ryan c Says:

    Being a Saints fan and knowing many of the guys personally, I’ll keep comments to myself. I will say that the Brees family, Sean Payton, and many of the offensive line have done wonderful things for that city, its moral, and its people. I realize this has nothing to do with most of the comments, unless the hatred is personal, of which would be absurd.

    Now back to baseball.

  99. 99
    krussell Says:

    I know I’m in the minority of Falcons fans, but I think Matt Ryan isn’t the answer. The new “moneyball” in the NFL is going to be to build a team exactly the opposite of how the Falcons are constructed. I want to give the money to the guys in the trenches and for depth, and use cost-controlled young guys at the skill positions. I don’t think they’ll be able to turn this thing around before a regime-change happens.

  100. 100
    Marc Schneider Says:

    For what it’s worth, comparing Willie Mays and Ty Cobb’s post-season numbers to A-Rod and Jeter seems unfair. Mays played in the post-season four times. Three were in the days when there was only the World Series and the fourth when he was basically washed up. Same with Cobb, who played in three World Series. If the point is that Cobb and Mays numbers were no better than A-Rod’s, those seem to be the epitome of small sample size.

  101. 101
    Smitty Says:

    @100

    That is true. Ted Williams played in one post season and was terrible. He is still the best hitter that ever lived and I would take him over ARod.

  102. 102
    D.N. Nation Says:

    I’m a Georgia fan. I’d love to talk about hits to QBs, but this is a family show.

  103. 103
    W.C.G. Says:

    @100, 101 – there’s this whole narrative built around the idea that A-Rod is a “choker” and “shrinks when the going gets tough” (see @77 in this thread for an example.)

    But A-Rod has a career .833 postseason OPS. So to get to that narrative, you have to cherry pick a small sample-within-a-sample and invent ridiculous reasons to do that (early years were in Seattle and didn’t count; ’09 didn’t count; the ’04 postseason started in Game 4 of the ALCS)

    So if you’re going to do that, you might as well look at Willie Mays’ 99-PA postseason sample and call him a “choker” too.

    Just another way people’s personal dislike of A-Rod makes their arguments about him illogical.

  104. 104
    JonathanF Says:

    My favorite small sample size in the playoffs: 1969
    Hank Aaron 1500 OPS
    Rico Carty 962
    Orlando Cepeda 1448
    Tony Gonzalez 1043
    Mike Lum 2500 !
    Felix Millan 883
    Team OPS 809

    Braves Lose Series 3-0

    To be fair the Mets team OPS was 957.
    My first Braves playoff experience, and at the tender age of 13 I learned you had to have some pitching in the playoffs.

  105. 105
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Drew Brees can die in a fire. That is all.

  106. 106
    Remy Says:

    #104

    Thanks for posting this. I remember being crushed when the Braves got swept. How did Felipe Alou do?

  107. 107
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    New thread.

  108. 108
    Zac Says:

    @105 He would get an endorsement deal with Mederma

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