Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Thanks to Mac's family, bravesjournal.com is back.

15 Feb

Mike Minor

You just can’t oversell Mike Minor. In addition to being an outstanding product of that fine private university up Nashville way; in addition to providing the Braves with a “true #1″ anchor to their rotation; in addition to making all the young girls swoon; Minor also provides endless hours of Keith Law punching.

“Roy Clark is tied up in a closet in Atlanta’s offices.” (Draft Day, 2009)

It’s just so easy…

“Jeff (Detroit)
I’ve read the Braves are dangling Mike Minor as a potential trade chip in a deadline deal. What is his ceiling? Thanks.
Klaw (1:14 PM)

I certainly would — he’s outperforming expectations and showing unusually high velocity. Even if you liked Minor coming into the year, in the back of your mind there must be a small “sell high” sentiment. He’s not as good as their top 3 guys (including Vizcaino, if healthy) anyway, so it wouldn’t make a terrible dent in their pitching inventory.”

Of course Law was hardly the only person crapping on the Minor pick.

Kevin Goldstein (3:01:50 PM PT): Jonathan (Orlando): As a Braves I am freaked out that we are actually talked about Minor. Why?? Even if we have to stick to slot, wouldn’t Borchering or Chad James be better?

KG: Yes, and yes. It’s a horrible pick FOR ME, but I think early picks should be all about upside. Minor has a better shot of reaching that big leagues than anyone other than Strasburg in this thing, but his ceiling is a four starter.

Even Baseball America was getting in on the act.

Minor could be the third lefthander drafted in the first round out of Vanderbilt in the last six years, and he’s more Jeremy Sowers than David Price.

To be honest, there was quite a bit of gnashing of teeth and caterwauling in these very corridors when the Braves picked Minor #7 overall in 2009. So while it’s so very, very easy to reduce Minor’s preseason write up internet-stat-scouty-knowitall bashing snark, that wouldn’t be fair. First, it wouldn’t be fair to the prototype of such things, dear old KLaw. Contrary to his apparent nature, he actually admitted he was wrong earlier this year.

“He’s really, really good. Top 15 in NL. RT @willash22: @keithlaw Thoughts on Mike Minor?”

But more importantly, reducing Mike Minor’s progress as a pitcher to mere snark against his detractors would be a disservice to Mike Minor, as well as the organization that drafted and developed him. And that would be wrong.

Mike Minor is good. He is very good. He sometimes gets lost in the weeds of all of the young talent the Braves have shipped into the majors this decade. He doesn’t have the splatter-pattern wow-factor of Craig Kimbrel. He doesn’t have the near unlimited everyday upside of Jason Heyward. He’s not an unknowable alien force rewriting the very concept of defense at short. He didn’t hug himself right into a giant contract extension. Hell, he often gets overshadowed in his own rotation — and make no mistake, post Huddy, this rotation belongs to Mike Minor — by the guy with the higher “upside” on his fastball and the propensity to plunk Bryce Harper in the ass. And that sucks. Because Mike Minor. He is good. Very, very good.

While you don’t want to saddle a guy with undue and unreasonable expectations, when I watch the guy pitch, always with the internet-scout freakout over his drafting in the back of my head, I always go back to Tom Glavine and Baseball Prospectus.

Remains the Atlanta starter most likely to “go Mulholland.” Fair or not, much of Glavine’s success has come from exploiting umpires who call pitches six inches outside “strikes.” The day that pitch becomes a ball again, Glavine loses a big chunk of his value. Not only will he then have to get hitters out in a conventional fashion, but he’ll have to unlearn on the fly a way of pitching he’s grown accustomed to

That’s Joe Sheehan writing in the 1998 Prospectus. Again, to his credit, he wrote a mea culpa about that comment, though it took him until 2007 to do it. Mike Minor is a crafty lefty with limited “stuff,” a head full of know-how, guts and determination, and the much poo-pooed “pitchability” of a star. Is he going to win 300+ games and go to Cooperstown? Probably not. But yeah, when I think “Mike Minor,” I think “Tom Glavine.”

Mike Minor is the Braves #1 starter going into 2014. Kris Medlen has more experience, but then the same could have been said for Pete Smith. Julio Teheran has a bigger fastball and more upside. Kind of like John Smoltz. Alex Wood is lefty with a funny motion that begs the question of durability, and can barely drink legally. Sort of Steve Avery-esque. Mike Minor? Mike Minor is the workhorse ace of this staff. Like Tom Glavine. And barring the acquisition of some Greg Maddux metaphor, he’s going to be the staff leader for a long time.

In his 25 year old season Tom Glavine made the leap from league average guy with potential to winning the Cy Young. His ERA+ trend for his 23-25 year old seasons was 98, 94, 158. In his 25 year old season Mike Minor made the leap from a league average guy with potential to, as Law says above, one of the 15 best pitchers in the league. His ERA+ trend for his 23-25 year old season: 93, 97, 120. It would be silly to predict a 150 ERA+ and a CYA for Minor this year. (Hell, at the heart of the matter, it’s silly to predict *anything* about pitching.) And to be clear, Mike Minor doesn’t have the pedigree of Glavine, who debuted as a 21 year old and was a top prospect in both baseball and hockey. But it’s close enough to mark the similarity.

Barring injury, here’s my prediction: Mike Minor is about to become a name brand product across MLB. He’s about to break out of being a star for Braves fans and become a name for pretty much everyone. Look for him to maintain his increased K/BB ratio, pair it with another year of experience, and take ownership of the Braves’ rotation. Given health and standard path development, look for an ERA+ of 130 to 135.

Give him a few bounces and some good fortune, and that 158 Glavine posted in 1991 isn’t out of the question. And if you paired that with a little offensive support and outsized win totals? Sure, he could compete for a Cy. That latter bit is mostly fanboy wishcasting, I admit, but I see no reason whatsoever Minor will not hit 130 or so, and backed up with the recently extended Teheran, Medlen and Beachy, a young, powerful offense, and an Andrelton-led defense, that should get the Braves back to the playoffs. And that’s all you can ask.

(Can the Braves win in the playoffs with Minor as their ace? Of course they can. The only game they won last year was the one Minor started. Ignoring the silliness of “pitcher wins” for the moment, the Braves will be as fine with Minor as their #1 in the playoffs as they were with Glavine as their #1 in 1991-92. Which is to say, fantastic, if the offense shows up and the rest of the rotation manages to get better than they were last year. Tom Glavine, barring an outlier game here or there in his dotage, was fantastic in the playoffs.)

So yeah. Mike Minor was a bad draft. He was taken too early. He was taken due to “signability.” He doesn’t have a big arm. He won’t be anything more than a #3 or #4 in the bigs. It’s the Mike Minors of the world — their ability to identify them, draft them, sign them and develop them — that makes the Braves better than 95% of the management offices in baseball. Raise a glass to Mike Minor. He’s worth it. He’s the reason you don’t need to trade for David Price. He’s the one you keep.

185 Responses to “Mike Minor”

  1. 1
    coop Says:

    I would have sworn Stu wrote this on-point post. Nice job, Sam; but I didn’t see a single porn star reference.

  2. 2
    Edward Says:

    So I’m high on 4 starters, and while I’m cautious about Wood, I don’t think those who expect a break-out year from him are out of line. (Well, I doubt the Braves let him start all year long, but even so.)

    They’re all pretty close, though, and all of them have the talent to put up an ERA+ in the 120 range.

    (Medlen and Beachy have career ERA+ so far of 134 and 121, respectively. Teheran posted a 121 ERA+ last year in his rookie year and Minor was at 120 in twenty more innings of work than Julio.)

    So who ya got, Bravesjournal? Here’s how I think they shake out over the season.

    1. Medlen (~215 innings)
    2. Beachy (~170 innings)
    3. Teheran (~185 innings)
    4. Minor (~220 innings)
    5….not Alex Wood. He’s traded or in the bull-pen. Bullpen’s where he belongs, I think.

    And I think everyone but the #5 guy is at least 20% better than league average. I think Teheran and Minor are close as can be. I think Medlen’s a silly stud. I think Beachy’s a good-looking, square-chinned stud.

  3. 3
    beege Says:

    I would be ok with the acquisition of some Greg Maddux metaphor.

  4. 4
    Seat Painter Says:

    I think the ANLBC will get 200+ innings from MedDog and Minor, will try to keep Teheran’s and Beachy’s innings down a bit – maybe the 175 range, and split up 200 starter innings between Wood and Floyd. Give a spot start or three to Freddie Garcia, and that’s close to 1000 innings from your starters.

  5. 5
    Derek Says:

    Great write-up. I hope he’s next in line for a long-term extension.

  6. 6
    coop Says:

    After Simmons, me too, Derek.

  7. 7
    Johnny Says:

    Awesome write up. Lock up the lefty Wren.

  8. 8
    ryan c Says:

    ATTENTION BRAVES JOURNAL FANTASY LEAGUE MANAGERS/WANNABE MANAGERS:

    Just sent the renewal out for the Braves Journal fantasy league. Managers, let me know fairly quickly if you plan on leaving so I can open it up to other people.

    If any others are interested in playing this year, let me know via email (cothrjr at Hotmail dot com) and I will accept, first come first serve, pending the departure of old managers.

    We have 6 spots filled since 11 last night and 1 manager in the cue. Get back to me quickly if you want to participate!

  9. 9
    Rusty S. Says:

    It wasn’t too long ago that Medlen was the Maddux metaphor.

  10. 10
    MikeM Says:

    You’re a bit more bullish on Minor than I am, but he should be very serviceable this year. He needs to increase his strikeouts to move into true top starter territory.

  11. 11
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    He needs to increase his strikeouts to move into true top starter territory.

    I respectfully disagree.

    Mike Minor was 24th in all of MLB in K% last year. He struck out 22.1% of the batters he faced. For comparison, Cole Hamels came in at 23 with 22.3%. Adam Wainwright was at 22 at 22.9%. (For the record, Julio Teheran rounded out the top 25 with an even 22%.)

    If you mean Minor has a ways to go before he jumps into the skyhigh elite of MLB, break the top five, yeah, he does. Yu Darvish led everyone with a 32.9% K rate. That’s obscene. Max Scherzer came in second at 28.7%. Matt Harvey and Jose Hernandez led the NL with 27.7% and 27.5% respectively. So yeah, Minor needs to bump up the K’s a wee bit to break into the top of the top in the league in K’s. But!

    Minor also lists in the top performers for BB%. He clocks in at 20th on that list, with a walk rate of 5.6%. He’s tied with Felix Hernandez, Dillon Gee and Ricky Nolasco in that metric. Just above them all, at 16 is Cole Hamels. (Interestingly enough, right there at #25 again, is Julio Teheran with a 5.8%.)

    Again, he doesn’t crack the top of the top in BB% either. That’s Cliff Lee, David Price and Adam Wainwright, all tied at 3.7%. (If you want to know why Bartolo Colon was so good last year, he is fourth at 3.8%.) Compare those numbers to a guy with a lot of fans around the league, Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has a better K%, at 26.1%. But he gave a lot of that advantage back by walking 7.7% of the batters he faced.

    Minor does all three of the things you want a #1 pitcher to do, very well. He Ks batters (though, again, not top 10; only top 25.) He doesn’t walk batters. (Top 20.) He doesn’t give up HRs. Basically, he’s Cole Hamels. So I guess my question back to you is, “is Cole Hamels a top starter?” Minor isn’t Darvish, or David Price, or Adam Wainwright (yet.) But that’s a really small club to fit into. If you think Matt Harvey, or Strasburg, or Hamels, or Felix Hernandez is a “top starter” then you really need to take a closer look at what Minor is doing. Because he’s right there with those guys.

    Mike Minor is good. He is very, very good.

  12. 12
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Notably, the K rate and the low BB rate, combined with his tendency to be a fly ball pitcher, actually breaks the “Tom Glavine” analogy of the write up a bit.

  13. 13
    braves14 Says:

    Extend Minor now. Get it done, Wren.

  14. 14
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Sam,

    You said it all in your last line.
    “He’s the one you keep.”

    I can’t think of higher praise.

    Go Braves!

  15. 15
    AA Says:

    Really what Minor needs to be recognized is a season in which the Braves consitently hit on days he starts allowing him to put up 18-20 wins. Then the old timers will catch on that he’s actually pretty damn good and worthy of being the best pitcher on a staff. I’m not saying he’s elite but as Sam wrote he is very very good.

    If that luck ever happens for him, let’s just hope he’s under a long term deal and not heading towards FA. Or we’ll never get him back.

  16. 16
    kc Says:

    Sam, I am sure you have better thing to say about Medlen than the Pete Smith comparison!!!

    But great writeup. Minor is great and under appreciated. If Beachy returns to become the Beachy we know, we will be more than fine.

  17. 17
    Dan Says:

    Get it done, Wren.

    Speaking of “get it done, Wren”, that phrase was so often used to mock fans who make ridiculous trade proposals, which always grossly favor their team. Here it usually involved Pujols, such as: “Chad Paronto for Albert Pujols, get it done, Wren.”

    Now-a-days, the Angels would probably accept that offer, if anyone still wants Wren to get it done.

  18. 18
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Minor does give up homers. Not enough to kill you, but he gives up more than 1 per 9 innings.

  19. 19
    ryan c Says:

    Early shots of Uggla this spring look like he laid off of the protein powder this offseason and started sucking helium.

  20. 20
    ryan c Says:

    Fantasy League Update:
    8 of the 14 managers have already re-upped their teams for this season. I’m still waiting on 6 and will wait for another week until I start accepting new managers.

  21. 21
    ryan c Says:

    Sounds like the Braves are about to lock down the Kraken!

  22. 22
    ryan c Says:

    4 more years of the Kraken!

  23. 23
    oldtimer? Says:

    Hot damn!

  24. 24
    ryan c Says:

    And an option year for 2018!

  25. 25
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I’ll need to see the numbers on this one. Hopefully this doesn’t get in the way of Simmons and Minor locking in.

  26. 26
    ryan c Says:

    4/42 million with option for 13 million for 5th year. Would have earned north of 30 million through 3 arb-years. A very tradable contract should the Braves find a replacement. Good job, Wren!

  27. 27
    John R. Says:

    Kimbrel is down the list on long-term contracts for me, behind the already signed Freeman and Teheran, plus Andrelton, Minor, Medlen and Heyward. (In that order.)

    I’m still happy, though.

  28. 28
    Remy Says:

    Bringing John Hart onboard was one of Schuerholz’s better moves. Hart has long been a proponent of locking up young, proven talent early.

  29. 29
    coop Says:

    Yep, happy. Ecstasy awaits Andrelton’s signing. Minor would be nice also,

    Who are these front office people, and what happened to my tight-fisted Braves?

  30. 30
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The Braves have no intention of going into their brand new stadium complex in Marietta having watched all of their young star talent exit in drips and drops. The day they announced the stadium move was the day you could begin predicting a more open-purse strategy. (Not that they’re really opening the flood gates for spending here. They’re simply locking into deals rather than negotiating year to year arb deals. Right now they’ve bought out two years of Freeman’s free agency, one year of Teheran’s free agency (with an option for the second) and two years of Kimbrel’s free agency, with an option on a third.

  31. 31
    ryan c Says:

    I know WAR isn’t the best measurement for a closer as it normally undervalues their performance, but if Kimbrel keeps up his WAR average that he’s accumulated thus far (2.8 WAR/year), he’ll be worth 84 million over the course of the 5 years. Considering he was probably going to receive 9 million this year and probably be worth 15 his final arb-year, the Braves nailed down a 4th year for 6 million more than what they’d have paid him for 3 years.

  32. 32
    ryan c Says:

    To me, it sounds like the Braves have an open-door policy to discuss multi-year options with their young players.

  33. 33
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Craig Calcaterra, November 22, 2013, on the Braves’ signing of John Hart as special advisor…

    And heck, given that his most noted accomplishment in Cleveland was locking up young players to long below market deals, combined with the Braves multiple young players who could be looking at such extensions soon, perhaps Atlanta just wants to have the master on the payroll.

  34. 34
    Adam R Says:

    I can’t say I’m not nervous about this particular deal, but for right now, I’m happy. I’m happy about what this signifies. Wren and co. are working to keep the success of this team going.

    If this deal means that Andrelton passed on an extension, and to some degree Minor or Medlen too, it’s a little bit of a different story.

    Also, all the penciling in of innings, etc, in this post is just begging the baseball gods to smite us all.

  35. 35
    ryan c Says:

    Wren on MLB Network Radio regarding Heyward…

    “[Heyward's deal] allows us to not worry about arbitration and continue to work something out. We’re hopeful Jason will be a long-term piece.”

  36. 36
    mavery Says:

    My guess is one thing (Kimbrel’s extension) has little to nothing to do with the others (extensions for Simmons, etc.).

    The Braves FO has clearly made a decision that it’s time to sign some of the great players they’ve developed long-term. I’d guess they’re willing to work with whichever ones want to get a deal done and are probably working with multiple guys simultaneously.

    I’m pumped with this news. He got $8M for this year (between the two figures offered, yes?) and he gets below-market for the three after plus a team option at a reasonable price. If he doesn’t blow up, he’s immediately tradable as well as potentially affordable.

    Now, MOAR!

  37. 37
    Rusty S. Says:

    My reflexive response to extending closers:

    NL Saves leaders in 2010:
    1. Wilson SF
    2. Bell SD
    3. Cordero CIN
    4. Marmol CHC
    5. Wagner ATL
    6. Ovideo FLA
    7. Franklin STL
    Lidge PHI
    9. Capps WAS
    10. Rodriguez NYM

  38. 38
    ryan c Says:

    The deal is 8mm (signing bonus included),9mm, 11mm, 13mm, with option at 13mm and buyout of 1mm, so the contract at its base is worth either 4/42 or 5/54.

  39. 39
    Stewart Says:

    This is from an emotional more than a analytic perspective, but I am stoked about this Kimbrel signing. I know he’s *just a closer*, but for me he’s one of the guys on the team who is most fun to watch and enjoy. I just can’t get enough of his overwhelming dominance.

    From the analytical perspective, the list at #37 is pretty telling. The Braves’ response would probably be, “If you had a young Billy Wagner, would you lock him up?” This contract tells you what they think. All told, it’s not a bank-breaking deal, and I think it’s pretty reasonable given that he is arguably, pitch for pitch, the best pitcher in baseball.

  40. 40
    Rob Cope Says:

    Big statement of a deal. Not sure if I love extending Kimbrel, but 4 years is hardly a significant commitment for a 25 year old. Considering what he’ll be paid, we got great value.

    I love more what this is communicating to everyone. I hope they can get Minor and Simmons extended, and let Heyward bring some reality to his potential before he gets a Freeman-size deal.

    Man, this is fun!

  41. 41
    ububba Says:

    The “window” remains open.

  42. 42
    Adam R Says:

    We’re getting closer. Let’s keep some more position players around, then we’ll see.

  43. 43
    'Rissa Says:

    I would never have guessed we would avoid arbitration hearings altogether when we initially had three of them pending. I love the idea of Kimbrel around for another 4-5 years until he hits his 30s, but I wonder if someone else would have been extended before him had he not been heading to an arbitration hearing. I don’t think this will affect any other potential deals (love what you’ve done, Wren, now please continue with Simmons and Minor), but I do think the timing was more indicative of the current status of these guys than of priorities of who the Braves want to extend first.

    All of these deals over the past two weeks have gotten me downright giddy for the next several years of Braves baseball. I can’t wait for this season to start!

  44. 44
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    It won’t be popular here but they should target Minor next. You can go to arb with a defensive SS who hit .260.

  45. 45
    coop Says:

    Not popular here, Sam, but I respect your right to be wrong.

    I’d like to see both signed long term soon, but I want Simmons signed yesterday.

  46. 46
    jj3bagger Says:

    Wait, Stu didn’t write this? Shocking developments. I don’t love this Kimbrel contract length, but Joaquin Benoit gets 2/15 and Jim Johnson gets $10 mill this offseason, so it seems reasonable. I’d still look to move him after ’15, but I thought he’d be gone sooner than that. Does this contract have any clauses about pitching the 8th inning in playoff games?

  47. 47
    Adam R Says:

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves
    Safe to say Simmons will be, now or next year. RT @TikeGooden: @ajcbraves Simmons locked up next? No question IMO.

  48. 48
    coop Says:

    Now, please.

  49. 49
    iceberg584 Says:

    “At that point, someone else will close in Atlanta and Craig Kimbrel will get paid a whole lot of cash to close in New York, Detroit or LA. That will be something akin to having to go back to Cinemax After Dark after spending four or five years soaking up the offerings of YouPorn. It will not be…satisfying. But it will happen, and you might as well get used to it.”

    That was from 11 days ago. Ah, the danger of absolute predictions of the future.

  50. 50
    Dan Says:

    I am so pleased the Braves signed Kimbrel instead of trading him.

  51. 51
    Edward Says:

    @ 40

    “and let Heyward bring some reality to his potential before he gets a Freeman-size deal.”

    Jason Heyward has averaged a 4.6 WAR season over his four-year career, period. He is a better player than most players in the league, including Freddie Freeman and every other Atlanta Brave. (Simmons has an argument, but I think he’s 1-b to Heyward’s 1-a)

  52. 52
    Marc Schneider Says:

    I think the Braves would be willing to do a Freeman-style deal with Heyward but I doubt Heyward would. Given where the market is going, Freeman’s deal is pretty reasonable but, if Heyward is the player everyone thinks he is or can be (take your pick), it might be an underpay for him. I suspect Heyward thinks he is or will be the better player and would want significantly more to extend. If Heyward stays where he is, he can probably still sign a nice deal with the Braves or someone else. If he explodes, which people seem to expect,he would be able to get a lot more.

  53. 53
    Edward Says:

    That’s exactly right, Marc.

  54. 54
    Stewart Says:

    Interestingly, it may have been that the Braves and Heyward signed the current deal just to get out of having to deal with arbitration. They may still be working on something long-term, if the following quote from Wren (on radio today) is truthful:

    “[Heyward's deal] allows us to not worry about arbitration and continue to work something out. We’re hopeful Jason will be a long-term piece.”

    This has been referenced in a couple of news sources today, but here’s a link: http://fansided.com/2014/02/16/extension-still-possible-jason-heyward-braves/

  55. 55
    Donny Says:

    @51 Yes, because WAR is the beginning and end of every player comparison argument. You would have to buy into current defensive metrics really heavily to believe that Jason Heyward is the best player on the team right now.

    Two thoughts to consider. One is that current defensive metrics, particularly dWAR, don’t give a guy like Freeman favorable consideration. His glove at 1B is great, but it somehow gets overlooked even at a position where defense isn’t given much, if any, thought. The other thought is simply this: Freddie Freeman’s bat is in a whole other league from Jason Heyward. Think Chipper Jones and spend some time comparing Freeman and Chipper’s hitting approaches. Freddie Freeman is a special hitter.

    While I believe Jason Heyward has some rare potential, he has yet to go ape at the plate and show us that… 4+ WAR value that some want us to believe his glove is producing. I think it’s great that Heyward’s defense is that good, but I don’t know if I’ve seen enough to conclude his defense is giving us that many more wins, especially with his struggles at the plate. 3.5 WAR last year? REALLY??

  56. 56
    kc Says:

    I can’t believe this is happening. Never thought we would be able to finally secure long-term deals the way we have been doing in the past month. This is turning to become a transformation offseason of the Braves.

    As for Heyward, he is valuable. There is no doubt about it. I am sure Jason believes he is capable to deliver more, which is why there is no way Jason would want to lock into a long-term contract now. That’s why this two-year window gives Jason a chance to prove himself without worrying the arbitration process next year and it gives both parties more information for the next deal.

    If Jason proves that he can be as good as he thinks, then I am sure the Braves would be more than happy to give him a long-term deal like the one we gave Freeman. If not, then we can lock up Justin.

  57. 57
    krussell Says:

    Yeah I’m not willing to say Heyward is the best player on the team. He certainly is the player with the most tools and potential though. Most of Heyward’s WAR is on defense, and I’m sorry but RF defense is way down on the list of “what’s important”. Move him to CF and we’ve got something, but unfortunately that’s rather complicated on this team.

    Simmons is the best player on the team in my opinion. Deal with him first.

  58. 58
    coop Says:

    Amen.

  59. 59
    csg Says:

    Wouldn’t say Simmons is the “best” player, but he’s the most important for long term success.

  60. 60
    Adam R Says:

    Thankfully, this doesn’t have the look of an either-or situation.

  61. 61
    Rusty S. Says:

    I think we understand how important Simmons is, and that the Braves understand how important Simmons is. But I think Sam’s point is (and if it’s not I’ll make it mine) is that on the open market there are fewer teams that understand what Andrelton Simmons does than there are teams that understand what Jason Heyward does. And therefore Simmons will be cheaper.

    Now, how many years it takes more teams to get smart is the important question. Then the equation changes.

  62. 62
    Edward Says:

    @55

    -You’re right, Wins Above Replacement is not the end-all be-all of player comparisons.

    -I don’t see the comparison between Freddie and Chipper. Visually, they’re as different as can be: Freddie’s max-effort upper-cuts, top-spin scorchers into the gaps, with some towering home runs when he hits it just right; Chipper’s much smoother swing and devotion to creating back-spin. So far the walk/strike-out rates are very different. Freeman’s got great hands up there, and he’ll foul off balls all day long, and he’ll win the battle often enough, but Chipper’s plate approach is far, far beyond anything we’ve seen out of #5 (or 99% of anyone else in baseball these days). And no, I don’t think Heyward’s a good comp for Chipper either, although he hits with back-spin, which I think he started to focus on because of Chipper.

    -It’s 100% true that a run saved is as valuable as a run created. Defense is as important as offense everywhere on the diamond. I don’t know if all the best “run saved” metrics are as accurate as the “run created” ones. Still, Heyward is a wonderful defensive player. In the National League: Gomez, Parra, Heyward can really go get it. Freeman’s a great receiver over at first. Heyward’s world-class in the outfield.

    -But you want to talk about offense, right? No question about it, Freeman’s 2013 was wonderful wire-to-wire, and Heyward struggled for a long stretch before he got it together. And still, Heyward’s 1.8 offensive WAR last year in 104 games matched Freddie’s full, healthy season totals from 2011 and 2012.

    -In Heyward’s best season to date (2012), he hit 27 home runs, 30 doubles, 6 triples, stole 21 bases, grounded into 4 double plays, and saved 20 runs in right field.

    In Freeman’s best season to date (2013), he hit 23 home runs, 27 doubles, 2 triples, stole 1 base, grounded into 10 double plays, and saved 7 runs at first base.

    Heyward’s best season so far is demonstrably better than Freeman’s best season so far–actually, Heyward’s second best season so far is (marginally) better than Freeman’s best season so far.

    So when we talk about what Heyward has to prove, it isn’t that he can play better baseball than Freddie Freeman. It’s whether he can be the best position player in the league or not.

  63. 63
    braves14 Says:

    Damn, it would be nice to see Heyward take a leap forward this year.

  64. 64
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I’m not unhappy to have been wrong about the prediction from the Kimbrel write-up. I’m not sure anyone saw this flood of extensions coming. If we can say one thing for certainty about the Braves’ front office, it’s that they run a tight-lipped organization since Furcal and Griffey-gate.

    I think Simmons will be extended, but if it’s a question of getting him or Minor this year, and waiting on the other one, I lock up Minor this year. Simmons is in what, pre-arb 2? And regardless of what people think his offensive upside may be, all glove SS who hit 260 with moderate power don’t win a lot of money in arb processes.

    I don’t think we’ll get there with either, though. It’s fun to have an organization with a bit of a checkbook again.

  65. 65
    Donny Says:

    @62 You’re having to resort to defense to maintain your claim. Defensive counting stats are still mostly subjective. In the end, we all agree that Heyward is a really good fielder, and his value from his defensive role will always be greater than any first baseman’s value on defense. What we don’t agree on is comparing defensive value between positions and with offensive value.

    Freddie Freeman is a better hitter. I still believe in Heyward’s potential to be a big time slugger, but right now Freeman is the favorite by a good margin.

    We’re not going to see totally eye to eye on defensive value. I believe in investing in defense, but I think it’s an error to value defense over offense.

  66. 66
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Back during the Vietnam era, a great legend arose about a “two-step” snake, either a krait or a pit viper, whose venom would kill a man before he could take two steps.

    If a batter hits a ball to Andrelton, he’s got about that before he’s out.

  67. 67
    blazon Says:

    CK
    ” But it will happen, and you might as well get used to it.”

    Sumer is icumen in
    LOUDE SING CUCKOO.

  68. 68
    coop Says:

    @66: apt post.

  69. 69
    Johnny Says:

    Personally I’d like to see the Braves start to lock up more of the starting pitching. Minor first. If Mike, wants to hold out for greater riches and who would blame him, move on to Medlen. I would certainly put those as a priority over Simmons, unless he is hinting that he’ll take a very team friendly deal.

    Beachy would seem like a good candidate for a team friendly deal. Dangle income certainty in front of him and take your chances that he is a good to very good pitcher.

  70. 70
    Adam R Says:

    DOB now saying it’ll be tough to extend Heyward into FA because we’d have to pay him more than we paid Freddie.

  71. 71
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I know it will be unpopular, but Medlen is the guy you let walk if needs be. You lock up Teheran and Minor and let Medlen and Beachy play out the arb string.

  72. 72
    krussell Says:

    We can’t extend them all, and we won’t be keeping all of them into the FA years. The checkbook isn’t that big. I think giving Freeman big money is sort of odd, but perhaps less risky than some of the alternatives. Locking up pitchers long term is always risky.

  73. 73
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The Braves will have 35 mil per year coming off the books in 2016 (Uggla, JUpton, Heyward.) If Jason can find it in himself to take less than 30 mil per he’s extendable.

  74. 74
    krussell Says:

    There’s room for Jason. But is there room for Jason and Minor and Medlen and Simmons? Maybe. I guess it depends somewhat on the team’s performance over the next few years and the revenue projections for WhiteFlightField.

  75. 75
    se1915 Says:

    Hey guys,
    I just read something pretty great on Fangraphs’ latest article about Kimbrel.
    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/craig-kimbrel-at-his-most-unfair/

    “There’s not a whole lot to report, really, on how the streak played out. Chip Caray did have this to say shortly after Cozart’s strikeout:

    We talked earlier about the Braves’ bats and this ballpark being Swing-town today, with Kimbrel it’s been Swing-and-a-miss-town.

    When Caray said that, Kimbrel had yet to register a single swing-and-miss.”

  76. 76
    Edward Says:

    @65

    -A run saved equals a run created. Offense is still the largest portion of a regular position player’s value because there are many more opportunities to create runs throughout the season, but defense is significant, and to dismiss it would be like (someone help me with the math) arbitrarily taking out 100 plate appearances. In Heyward’s case, it would be like removing the best 100 plate appearances. I don’t see how taking out the best part of a player’s game before you start the comparison is worthwhile. Would you take out Freddie’s plate appearances with runners in scoring position?

    -“Mostly subjective” is not an accurate description of Defensive Runs Saved. Somewhere between 5% and 20% subjective would be more on target. The Fangraphs page for the stat has a great quote right near the top from Joe Posnanski that explains how it works it layman’s terms: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/defense/drs/

    The Fielding Bible (who invented the statistic) has a more in-depth FAQ about the method here: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/defense/drs/

    -So far, I can see no indication that DRS even attempts to rate a first baseman’s ability to receive the ball from other infielders. I’ll ask around about this. It’s possible that Freeman is much more valuable than has been shown so far. It’s possible that he isn’t. I’ll look for it. I think it’s more than odd if the thing a first baseman does more than anything else isn’t a factor.

    -“[Heyward's] value from his defensive role will always be greater than any first baseman’s value on defense.” Actually, this isn’t true.

    Jason Heyward has saved at least 15 runs in each of his four seasons, including last year when he only played 104 games (in short, excellent defense, among the best outfielders in either league every season).

    Since 2003, when the statistic was first devised, 14 individual seasons at first base have reached or surpassed that total, led by Albert Pujols’ saving 31 runs in 2007. (Pujols and Mark Teixeira have multiple elite defensive seasons on the list.)

    -On offense alone, Heyward has hit more home runs in a season, hit more doubles+triples in a season, stolen many more bases in a season, grounded into many fewer double plays (4 in 158 games!), and put up more total bases in a season than Freddie Freeman (and those total bases despite a 50 point difference in batting average between the two seasons.) Freddie Freeman’s best OBP was the .396 he put up last season; Heyward’s best was the .393 in 2010–very slight edge to Freeman there.

    -Fangraphs WAR, Baseball Reference WAR, and Fielding Bible Total Runs are all attempts to compare players total contributions on the field across positions, leagues, and eras.

    In all of them Heyward’s 2012 is significantly better than Freeman’s 2013. In one of them Heyward’s 2010 is significantly better than Freeman’s 2013. In another, Heyward’s 2010 rates the exact same as Freeman’s 2013, and in the last (Fangraphs) Heyward’s 2010 is .1 wins less valuable than Freeman’s 2013, a marginal difference.

    In Fangraphs and B-Ref terms, Heyward’s 104 ‘disappointing’ games in 2013 (Heyward’s third-best season) are significantly better than either of Freeman’s 2011 and 2012 seasons. Total Runs likes Freeman’s 2012 significantly more than Heyward’s 2013, and Freeman’s 2011 slightly better than Heyward’s 2013. (Although in Total Runs Heyward’s 2013 was much more valuable than Freeman’s 2011 or 2012 on a per-game basis.)

    -Heyward’s best offense has been as good as Freeman’s best offense. Heyward’s total value as a player has been and will continue to be greater.

  77. 77
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    There’s room for Jason. But is there room for Jason and Minor and Medlen and Simmons?

    Probably. Again, it depends on if Heyward thinks he’s a 30 mil per year player or not. (He’s not, at least not yet.) Of course, I’m on record as letting Medlen play through the arb process. I think you lock in Heyward, Minor and Simmons and sort the rest of the roster as the farm and free agent markets dictate.

  78. 78
    Donny Says:

    @76 I’ve got to keep this short, but I have to make my snide remark. For one, whenever comparing offense you rely heavily on total bases as a measurement. I prefer guys who get on base a lot as well as demonstrate good ISO. Heyward’s ISO has so far been better, but that’s when he can actually hit. Furthermore, referring to anything he did in his rookie season seems unfair, because since “the book” came out on him he has seemingly had to rebuild his swing. Thus, this Heyward is hardly like the one in 2010. He frequently seems inept with a bat, so how do you (Edward) explain that? And yes, I know his OPS+ was 111, but we both know that he struggled for most of last year before settling into the leadoff spot.

    Additionally (snide remark ahead!), it doesn’t help that the guy misses 40-60 games every other season.

    I’ll take Freeman 2013 over Heyward 2013.

  79. 79
    Landogarner Says:

    @78

    So would I.

  80. 80
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Snide remarks notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure that Heyward will not have to have *another* emergency appendectomy this year, and we all sort of hope he won’t get drilled in the face with a fastball again too.

    He missed time a couple years ago with a bum thumb. That’s really the only projectable sort of injury history he has. A burst appendix and a broken jaw from a fastball to the face isn’t something you project forward.

  81. 81
    Adam R Says:

    People mistake consistency for superior productivity. It seemed to me like something clicked for Heyward before he got hit in the face. Even if Heyward ends up streaky, if he can pull that off again for such a stretch, then Freddie will need to maintain his BABIP to keep up with Heyward — and maybe Freddie can hold onto some of his own gains. We shall see.

  82. 82
    Edward Says:

    @78

    I’ll also take Freeman 2013 over Heyward 2013. But I’ll take Heyward 2014 over Freeman 2014. (Actually, I’ll take both of them. They’re great. Go Braves.) So will other Braves fans who have filled out the Fangraphs fan projection aggregrate thingy, which is super fun for baseball nerds to do if any of you haven’t done it. You estimate how many of each thing (HR, avg, stolen base, run saved) a player will tally.

    The crowd-sourced Braves projections to date are here: http://www.fangraphs.com/projections.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&type=fan&team=16&players=0&sort=23,d

    -Heyward posted a .349 on-base percentage in 2013. While this was nowhere near Freeman’s .396 mark in 2013, it was better than Freeman’s 2012 and 2011 averages of .340 and .346

    -There is no getting around Heyward’s 2011 season, which was not very good outside of his defense. But we know he was playing hurt for a while with the wrist injury, which seems to have affected his swing. If we treat that season as something of an anomaly, Heyward’s best on-base seasons (.393, .349, and .335) are neck-and-neck with Freeman’s (.396, .346, and .340).

    -Yes, Heyward has had to make adjustments since his rookie year as pitchers have adjusted to him. I’m not sure if he’ll be up near .400 again. I think he’s a good bet for around .370 though, considering his bad luck on balls in play last season and his propensity to walk. I think Freeman’s right there at a good bet for .370 too.

    -I think “inept” describes BJ Upton and Dan Uggla and is too strong a word for Heyward, although he struggled last year, no doubt. Freeman was a rock. I think Heyward will not struggle the same way this year. That is nothing more than an opinion.

    -You know I try to attend/watch/listen to as many games as I can every year, but you’re right, I always max out at 100 or 120, which doesn’t help.

  83. 83
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Obviously Heyward was going through a hot streak and comfortable at the plate and leading off before getting hit with the pitch in NY. I wouldn’t read too much into a hot streak, any more than I’d read a slump to be universal (BJ Upton nothwithstanding.)

  84. 84
    W.C.G. Says:

    Since it’s established wisdom by now that broke-ass teams who want to stay competitive don’t pay for closers, I’m really wanting to read into the Kimbrel contract that the Braves have decided they don’t want to keep slowly drifting into broke-ass-teamville. If a luxury item like a closer is on the shopping list, that’s a good sign for how long the list is. This offseason finally got better the last couple weeks.

  85. 85
    Donny Says:

    @82 LOL!

    I’m willing to let that pass seeing as I don’t think I get to see even half of them living in the northwest.

    You raise another good point that I feel is strongly in Heyward’s favor. His BABIP should be higher next season. Maybe even higher than in 2012.

    As I’ve said in previous posts, I like Heyward’s defense a lot. I like Simmons a bunch too and wouldn’t blink at a contract that would pay him up to Chipper-type money towards his prime. I think some out there are prepared to offer him closer to $20 million a year, though, just like I think some are prepared for Heyward to make $25 million a year based solely on what he’s doing right now, which I feel is a slight overvaluation of his current contributions.

    I could be misunderstanding some people, though.

  86. 86
    gaz Says:

    @84 I think they just started reading everyone on the internet whining about them and realized we were all right

  87. 87
    krussell Says:

    @86, If they were listening to us then they surely would’ve traded Kimbrel for a dozen top prospects.

  88. 88
    gaz Says:

    No because I want the owners to spend money like they don’t care about it because they shouldn’t. So locking up the best closer in the game is a good move because I don’t care about the money, I just care that they don’t make it a case where they blew the money on Kimbrel so won’t use it on other guys now. From the indications they want to lock in the core young guys so that means Simmons, Minor, Heyward and if he gets more consistent that should mean JUpton. If signing Kimbrel though means that they get stingy on someone else then they made the wrong choice because Kimbrel is a luxury they don’t even use correctly and the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

  89. 89
    krussell Says:

    Yeah we won’t know the impact of the Kimbrel contract until we get a few years down the road. Who knows, we may feel a lot differently two years from now about some of the guys we’re hoping to lock up long-term.

    Still, that kind of money for a guy that throws like 60-70 innings seems a bit sub-optimal to me. We don’t have an unlimited payroll, but I think we’re all pleasantly surprised that the purse strings seem to be loosening. I personally thought we’d be trapped in the $100 million per year range for at least a few more years. Maybe they are gonna borrow against future revenue from NewCrackerStadiumAtWhiteFlightField so that we can ensure we stay competitive in these transition years.

  90. 90
    gaz Says:

    That’s acting like the owners are strapped for cash which they’re obviously not they just haven’t invested any of it in the team until the last 2 weeks.

  91. 91
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The Braves haven’t actually increased their payroll with their contracts this month. It’s false to say ownership is spending “more.”

  92. 92
    gaz Says:

    There’s future commitments now at least which is more than there was a month ago.

  93. 93
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    There was always going to be future commitments. It’s not like the Braves were going to drop from 93m per year to 35m or something. Craig Kimbrel got Tim Hudson’s salary. Freddie Freeman got Dan Uggla’s (starting in 2016 when Uggla disappears.) Julio Teheran gets Brian McCann’s.

    It’s nice to have them lock up players we all enjoy. They have not, as of yet, expanded payroll beyond their standard 95m base.

  94. 94
    W.C.G. Says:

    @93, our hopes and dreams rest on the idea I touched on @84, where if you’re shopping in the closer aisle I assume you’ve budgeted for the more important positions too.

    I’m with you in that my pessimistic side wouldn’t put it past ownership to run back 2004’s payroll for the 12th straight season come 2015, but I have to think the actual baseball guys are smart enough to know how deep down the priority list they’re allowed to go in working out extensions. And if Kimbrel’s on the list, I want to believe the higher-leverage players (Minor, Heyward, Simmons, Medlen, JUpton) are too.

    I expect expensive tickets, a parking monopoly, and a bajillion team-controlled eateries in and around the Cumberlandopolis, and I think they have to know a lot of us aren’t going to bother shelling out more for a gameday experience if they’re just going to keep spending like it’s 2004 and banking the rest. I wouldn’t if that were the case. So at some point it’s much sounder business logic to make the investments. I hope that’s what the Kimbrel contract means.

  95. 95
    krussell Says:

    Does extending Kimbrel make him more “tradeable” now? Not saying we should or shoudn’t, but does this at least make it easier to get done?

  96. 96
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @94 – the primary point of these extensions is to lock in a popular, name-brand, competitive team from 2014-2016, so that they OPEN THE NEW STADIUM with a winner. I don’t expect them to expand the payroll BEFORE 2017, because that’s when the new stadium revenue (assumed) will kick in.

  97. 97
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @95 – yes, the contract extension makes Kimbrel more tradeable. You have more reasonably priced years of a shut down closer to trade if you want to.

  98. 98
    W.C.G. Says:

    @96 – but there’s kind of an either-or between your point @93 and your point @96 then, right? They can either keep running back $95MM payrolls with some guys fitting into existing salary slots and others getting shipped off for prospects, or they can sign the name-brand core in full or close to it to open 2017 with. But that would require a 2016 payroll, and probably also a 2015 payroll, well north of $95MM.

    Which are you saying they’ll do? I could see it going either way, I’m just hoping that paying a closer who everyone assumed would be flipped two weeks ago means it’s the latter scenario.

  99. 99
    Grst Says:

    I don’t think locking up the core is all or nothing. They can lock up the big pieces but also lose a few and still be seen as maintaining the brand.

  100. 100
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    They’re locked into $68.2M for 2015, committed to seven players. That leaves 26 mil for 18 players. That’s a tough sell. 1.44 mil per player for the remaining spots. That’s not going to happen.

    They can probably swing a little closer to 95 mil in 2016 where they only have $41.8M committed, but only to 4 players.

  101. 101
    cliff Says:

    @76, @65,

    ACTUALLY

  102. 102
    cliff Says:

    edit

    ACTUALLY, a run saved is MORE VALUABLE than a run scored. That is just math.

    WHY? Because as the number of runs goes down, each one becomes more valuable. 1 run in a 10 – 9 game is worth less than 1 run in a 1 – 0 game. In individual games, additional runs are worth less and less the more you score. Additional runs you save are worth more and more until you hit zero. At zero, you CANNOT LOSE. At 10, you can lose.

    Do the measures perfectly measure defense? No. But is there anybody in their right mind that thinks the defensive value of a league average fielding right fielder is no greater than a league average fielding first baseman? No chance. Old right fielders end up playing first some at the end of their career (Hank Aaron). If old first basemen change positions late in career it is to be a DH.

    There IS a metric (“scoops” not sure whose it is) that measures the relative catching of balls thrown by fielders by 1B’s. One of the fielding systems incorporates that. The difference between the best and the worst that have been measured, is not nearly so great as the fielding range affects 1B defense. And any of you that aren’t paying attention on this, Freeman is very slow to get balls left or right if the ball stays low. He has quick hands, but not quick feet or a quick body.

  103. 103
    krussell Says:

    Freeman has a giant wingspan and does that really long stretch/split thing. I don’t think “scoops” is a good metric. You really need a metric would measure all the bad throws that he catches and converts to outs that the average first baseman wouldn’t. That’s gonna always be subjective unless we start tracking infield throw-ball trajectories digitally.

  104. 104
    Stewart Says:

    The (optimistic) way that I view these recent signings is thus:

    The team has realized that free agent salaries are quickly making it very difficult to acquire additional talent through free agency, so much so that even expanding the payroll by an extra $20 million might not make much difference. However, that sort of payroll expansion would be worthwhile when spent on in-house talent to ensure future stability and competitiveness. That approach also benefits the players on the team, as they are guaranteed financial stability for the rest of their lives and don’t have to worry about injuries during their pre-arb and arb years destroying earning potential.

    Put a different way, I don’t necessarily expect the Braves to keep the same exact payroll this year (or over the next few years) as they have during the recent past. One way to look at this is that they have finally found something worth spending the money on.

  105. 105
    Edward Says:

    Bill James answered my question about 1B defense earlier. Sort of. But you know he only sort of answers most questions.

    “Hey Bill,

    Been talking about Freddie Freeman’s defense over on a Braves message board. All of us think the best thing he does is receive throws from the other infielders. (It’s very exciting and a little alarming to watch a man that big do a full split.) He’s the best at it in Atlanta in my memory–but you know my memory does all sorts of things wrong. Reading over the Fielding Bible Frequently Asked Questions, it seems like they don’t include this aspect of the game when considering a first baseman’s defense. This seems like a big omission to me because it’s the thing a first baseman does most often during a game, unless you track individual swings of the bat. Freeman, for instance, has more than twice as many put-outs in his career than plate appearances (3876 to 1908). Some of those are pop flies and liners, but I doubt that makes much of a dent in the overall number. Is anyone studying this aspect of the game? Surely some first basemen are better than others at it.
    Asked by: Edward

    Answered: 2/17/2014
    I’m 99% sure that the Fielding Bible DOES track a first baseman’s ability to deal with a difficult throw. I work with those guys, and we’ve been having a discussion about how we could BETTER track throws to first. ..get more specific data. The discussion was focused on the “throw” part, but I’m 99% sure the group also tracks the “receiver” part. Which is not to say that it couldn’t be done better.”

    I translate that as: “do more research, Edward.”

  106. 106
    Dan Says:

    If they were listening to us then they surely would’ve traded Kimbrel for a dozen top prospects.

    Who’s “us”? Keep Kimbrel!

  107. 107
    Rusty S. Says:

    In fairness to me, I was asking for 20 prospects.

  108. 108
    ryan c Says:

    I advocated trading Kimbrel because I didn’t like the idea of paying him 36 million over the course of 3 years. However, I’m completely fine with paying him 4/42 or 5/54. And if The Braves have a closer emerge from the Minors over the course of his contract, he’ll be more attractive now that the enquiring team gets more years without the headache of arbitration.

  109. 109
    ububba Says:

    I actually like the idea of Kimbrel in a Braves uniform making opponents eat flaming death for the next few years. But that’s just me.

  110. 110
    Donny Says:

    @105 Certainly appears that way. I believe the consensus on a guy like Freddie Freeman is that he just doesn’t do much beyond what an ordinary first baseman is asked to do. So while he is saving runs with some spectacular glove work on Andrelton’s throws, he’s not displaying the range of an Albert Pujols. He doesn’t have to, though, since Jason Heyward covers a lot of ground.

  111. 111
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Playoff Odds as Distance from Rome circa 200 AD

    The Braves are the French Riveria.

  112. 112
    Adam R Says:

    More driving of traffic to the fangraphs website (the best website on the internet, IMO)…

    Braves top prospects list, out today: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2014-top-10-prospects-atlanta-braves/
    Interview with La Stella, also out today: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/qa-tommy-la-stella-atlanta-braves-infield-prospect/

    I loved seeing the Braves dominate Dave Cameron’s weekly podcast as well.

  113. 113
    Edward Says:

    The Rockies GM did a phenomenal job securing the Danube.

  114. 114
    Nick Says:

    This is the best combination of simultaneous pointlessness and awesome that I’ve seen in a while. Look at the Phillies…they’re all the way in modern-day Israel, a three-week trip from Rome. Sucks to be them! Also, I’ve just learned that, in 200 AD, it took a relatively equal amount of time to get from modern-day Marseille to Rome (us) as it did to get from Southern Italy to Rome (the Nats). I’m not sure what to do with that information, but at least I now have it in my back pocket.

  115. 115
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Boats; the high speed bullet trains of the Roman era. Travelling over mountains sucked.

  116. 116
    Stu Says:

    111—Mets, LOL.

  117. 117
    sdp Says:

    Per Bowman, Braves cut Gamel loose. He hurt his knee again.

  118. 118
    Smitty Says:

    @117

    That sucks.

  119. 119
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    That does suck. Joey Terdoslavich’s path to the bigs just got easier.

  120. 120
    Adam R Says:

    It sucks for Gamel, but our chances this year just changed by something like 0%.

  121. 121
    Dan Says:

    Official site:

    Uggla intent on proving naysayers wrong in ’14

    Critics to be silenced?

  122. 122
    Marc Schneider Says:

    @121,

    I hate this kind of crap. I understand that Uggla wants to show he can still play, but to say he has “a chip on his shoulder” implies that the critics were to blame for him sucking. A more intelligent statement would be something like “I understand why the critics are doubting my ability to improve because I have done nothing to prove them wrong. I hope to do this in 2014.”

    Uggla’s statement is like me crashing into the back of the car ahead of me and then getting mad at the driver of the other car, “I’ll show you that I CAN drive.”

  123. 123
    Dan Says:

    Playoff Odds as Distance from Rome circa 200 AD

    So, according to this, the NL East will go:

    1. Braves
    2. Nationals
    3. Mets
    4. Marlins
    5. Phillies

    Sounds about right, actually. Though I could see #4 and #5 switched.

  124. 124
    sdp Says:

    @122: It’s a dumb article but it’s boilerplate stuff this time of year. Dozens of such articles to be written this spring.

  125. 125
    kc Says:

    @124 That’s just Uggla being Uggla. Two more years!!!

  126. 126
    ryan c Says:

    Sucks about Gamel. I was really looking forward to seeing him get a shot.

  127. 127
    Donny Says:

    @122 – I LOL’d at this.

    I wish Dan Uggla all the success miracles can provide.

  128. 128
    kc Says:

    @126 This suddenly comes to my mind: Now that Gamel is not employed by any team, who would pay for his surgery if needed? To be covered by his own insurance?

  129. 129
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    If playing “with a chip on his shoulder” turns Dan Uggla into a vaguely useful player again, by all means, chip that shit up buddy. As SDP says, this is just standard spring training column inch boilerplate. I’m sure we’re soon to hear about how BJ Upton is out to prove his doubters wrong, and how Ryan Doumit is in the best shape of his life.

  130. 130
    Nick Says:

    By the way, not to rain on the parade or anything, and I’m as happy that we’re locking guys up as anyone, but we still haven’t done anything to improve this year’s team. It’s still not better than last year’s.

  131. 131
    kc Says:

    @130 You haven’t heard? we are expecting big things from BJ and Uggla!

  132. 132
    Edward Says:

    It’s not a guarantee, but…

    Giving McCann’s at bat’s to Gattis while taking Gattis out of left field has improved the team in two ways over last year’s.

  133. 133
    Dan Says:

    McCann is a better hitter than Gattis, but getting Gattis out of the outfield will be a big improvement defensively.

  134. 134
    c. shorter Says:

    I successfully made the Delta sprint tonight in ATL. Well, I use the term “sprint” loosely. Although I’m not anywhere near his size, I was huffing and puffing like Prince Fielder on an inside-the-park HR.

  135. 135
    Edward Says:

    @133

    I dunno, I keep thinking back to September and October, when it was the opposite between the two of them. I really like the way Gattis handled himself. That’s the hunch-y hopeful in me talking, though, at least when it comes to predicting what he’ll do in 2014. (He was very good against the Doggers, though.)

  136. 136
    Rob Cope Says:

    @134

    The Hartsfield-Jackson sprint is the only good way to get cardio in on a travel day. I’ve lost 5 lbs connecting in Atlanta!

  137. 137
    ububba Says:

    #123
    I think the Mets’ll be a tiny bit improved (but no better than .500 IMO). Still, it’s hard to imagine anybody but ATL & WAS really being any good in the division this year.

    #134/136
    I get to do it at O’Hare tomorrow. Yippee.

  138. 138
    Smitty Says:

    Maybe the chip on Uggla’s shoulder is slowing his bat speed down.

  139. 139
    ryan c Says:

    @Nick
    Through trades and signings, we haven’t really gotten any better, but I’ll ask this: Of the starting offensive players, who do you think will underperform their last year’s numbers? My guess is 1-3 players: Chris Johnson, Evan Gattis and maybe Freddie Freeman. I could easily see both Uptons, Simmons, Heyward, Gattis, and Uggla (or La Stella/Pastornicky) outperform last year. Here’s a breakdown by player:

    Gattis: 0.9 WAR
    Freeman: 4.8 WAR
    Uggla: 0.5 WAR
    Simmons: 4.7 WAR
    Johnson: 2.8 WAR
    Jupton: 3.2 WAR
    Bupton: -0.6 WAR
    Heyward: 3.4 WAR

    I think there’s a considerable chance for improvement from Gattis, whoever mans 2nd base, Simmons (if gets it going offensively, could be a 7 WAR player), Jupton, Bupton, and Heyward. Even if you subtracted 1 WAR from Chris Johnson, this offense could easily add 5-6 WAR across the spectrum and, if healthy and clicking, 10-12 WAR.

    Of starting pitchers, who do you think will underperform last year’s numbers? I’m skeptical about these predictions as I think each individual has a chance to be a 1/4 run better, or 1/2 run worse. In terms of SP, I think WAR will break pretty evenly. The Starters produced 13 WAR last year and FIP and ERA were almost identical. Factor in a healthy Beachy and the starters could hit 15-17 WAR, but I’d expect more of the same from them collectively.

    Of the bullpen, who do you think will underperform last year’s numbers? I think here is the drop that we might see the most as there are numerous candidates to question their ’13 performances based on advanced metrics. Relievers combined for 4.8 WAR last year and their FIP suggests that they’re due some regression. I could see this group collecting 3-4 WAR this upcoming season.

    The bench was superb last year with Gattis leading the PH punch. This crew will no doubtedly see some dropoff in production.

    I think this team will be better than last year’s team, but will have a slightly worse record due to the other teams in the division improving. 93-69, clinching the division in game 161 at Philly in dramatic fashion.

  140. 140
    John Gaines Says:

    I’d be much happier if the Braves could find a way to remove the Chip from Joe Simpson’s shoulder.

  141. 141
    csg Says:

    @ajcbraves: Schuerholz about to make an announcement. Perhaps a #Braves front-office extension?

  142. 142
    ryan c Says:

    I make many predictions based on numbers and essentially spur of the moment gut-feelings. The latter predictions are almost always wrong, but I made this last year after studying up on our roster:

    “While ST stats and W/L records are essentially meaningless, I will say that if the Braves win today, they’ll be 16-11 after 27 games, which is exactly 1/6 of a regular season. Multiply the W/L by 6 and you get 96-66, which is about what I expect from this team, if healthy.”

    We did go 96-66, and we weren’t very healthy. However, neither were other teams in our division. 93-69 with some drama, GO BARVES!

    Edit: Fredi and Wren extended. No terms yet.

  143. 143
    coop Says:

    John Gaines wins.

  144. 144
    csg Says:

    @mlbbowman: Frank Wren and Freddie Gonzalez have received contract extensions. John Schuerholz did not reveal the length of the extensions

  145. 145
    csg Says:

    How unrealistic would it be to have 7 everyday hitters with 20+ HR’s this year? Freeman, Heyward, Upton, Upton, Simmons, Gattis, and Uggla.

  146. 146
    Adam R Says:

    Flawless victory, @140.

  147. 147
    cliff Says:

    csg @ 145,

    To me, Uggla is the least likely, followed by Simmons, then BJ Upton. Uggla looked like he couldn’t see well enough to hit Major League pitching late last year. If he isn’t significantly better, he may not start the year at all.

  148. 148
    csg Says:

    I agree with those three. However, I think BJ might be the least likely. Simmons hit 17 last year and should mature as a hitter and get stronger. The thing about Uggla is that he’s never had a season below 19HRs. He still hits them and draws walks, but you are right. A bad spring training and he might not see the field. His leash is short

  149. 149
    td Says:

    I’ve got to admit that my opinion of Fredi is schizophrenic. I thought he was the worst in-game manager in baseball his first year and wanted to see him go in a hurry. I think he made major improvements in his second year and I thought he would be okay. Even though the team did better last year, I felt like he didn’t have good control of it and should be fired.

    I’m sure my opinion will change, but right now I would like to see someone else.

  150. 150
    Johnny Says:

    I think Uggla gets at least through April to prove himself.

    I would like for Simmons NOT to try to hit 20. I’d rather he take some pitches and get on base more. 17 HR and a damn million infield pop ups do not make for a good offensive player.

  151. 151
    cliff Says:

    csg @ 148,

    Uggla did still walk some (a significant good percentage) after the surgery, but he didn’t hit anything. Something like .113 BA and one double for something like .050 ISO. It WAS very small sample size, but I can’t believe that before Fredi essentially benched him that Fredi didn’t ask even guys like Cox and Fregosi what they thought (because IF Uggla looked like he had a chance to turn it around, why would ANY FOOL in the FO not say “what the hell Fredi? Eliot Johnson? Pastornicky was worth a shot, but Eliot Johnson?)

    I do think even more than the benching, Fredi leaving Uggla off the 25 man playoff roster said Uggla was unlikely to show anything. At that point you know Wren, Fregosi, Cox, Schuerholz and everybody would have at least said “whoa there Fredi.”

    I do think Fredi had a “manager / player” beef over why Uggla hadn’t told him he was having vision problems. That put Fredi over the edge. Like “I covered for you and kept sending you out there and we are trying to win a division and you don’t tell me you are having trouble seeing the damn ball!”

  152. 152
    W.C.G. Says:

    Fredi is the second-worst* in-game manager in baseball, but the organization likes him as a people manager and a projection of organizational stability.

    I’ve come to believe this is well and good and Fredi would be a fine figurehead in the dugout if they could hire a bench coach who would be responsible for in-game decisions and said bench coach isn’t a booger-eating Old Baseball Man. I think such a move would be about +2 WAR, although I have no data but my own yelling at the TV every summer to confirm that prejudice. Someone with math skills get on this!

    *I had to grudgingly downgrade him and promote Mattingly after the great tic-tac-toe match of 2013. Damn, Mattingly.

  153. 153
    Marc Schneider Says:

    “Fredi would be a fine figurehead in the dugout if they could hire a bench coach who would be responsible for in-game decisions and said bench coach isn’t a booger-eating Old Baseball Man.”

    Just who, exactly, would that be? Joe Maddon is currently occupied.

    I continue to believe that in-game strategy is insignificant for the most part in baseball and, easily, the least important role of a manager.

  154. 154
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    k%
    bb%
    avg
    whip
    babip
    lob%
    fip

    Player 1
    23.4 %
    6.4 %
    .230
    1.12
    .284
    73.7 %
    3.31

    Player 1
    22.1 %
    5.6 %
    .229
    1.09
    .272
    75.1 %
    3.37

    My table building skills apparently suck today.

    Player 1 is Homer Bailey. He just got a 6 year, 105m contract extension from the Reds.

    Player 2 is Mike Minor.

  155. 155
    Dusty Says:

    Look I don’t think Fredi’s tremendous or anything, but he’s far from the 2nd worst in-game manager. Probably middle 3rd of all managers for me. Of course it’s a nearly impossible thing to quantify, but I suspect if you watch any manager save maybe 3 or 4 every game and nitpick their every decision, you will think that manager is the worst in-game manager.

    Honestly glad we offered extensions to Fredi and Wren did they ever announce the terms?

  156. 156
    Edward Says:

    I would have paid that much for Homer Bailey, too. In my millionaire dreams. How much further into the Arb process is he than Minor?

  157. 157
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Bailey is entering his 28 year old season in 2014. Prior to the extension he was scheduled to go to hearing with the Reds for his Arb 3 year. He would have been a free agent next season. This contract buys out one year of arb, five years of free agency, and supposedly has an option for a sixth year of free agency.

    Mike Minor accepted 3.85 mil for his first year of arb eligibility in 2014, but because he was a “Super Two” he has three more years of arbitration left before he goes free agent in 2018.

  158. 158
    csg Says:

    People, teach your kids to throw a baseball. This is just stupid money at this point. $100mil gets you Homer Bailey for 6 years? No thanks. Minor isn’t worth that either.

  159. 159
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Wait — HOMER BAILEY??????

  160. 160
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Mike Minor is making 3.85 mil as Arb 1 in 2014. If he gets no better than he is right now, he will make something akin to:

    2014: 3.85
    2015: 6.00
    2016: 9.00
    2018: 13.00

    That’s before he hits free agency, of course.

  161. 161
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Ubaldo Jimenez just signed for four years, $50 million dollars. Cincinnati handed Homer Bailey twice as much money as that. Jimenez is two years older and, though he was horrible in 2011-2012, he has generally been much better over the course of his career.

    Yeah, the Orioles lose a supplemental draft pick, but supplemental draft picks ain’t worth $50 million.

  162. 162
    W.C.G. Says:

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/google-eyes-atlanta-super-fast-internet/ndTPZ/

    Get it done, Wren!

  163. 163
    braves14 Says:

    It’s a bit tainted by his age 21 and 22 seasons when he was hit hard in his first exposure to the majors, but Homer Bailey’s career ERA+ is 96. He just strikes me as a middle of the rotation guy. Stupid Reds.

  164. 164
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    “Gonzalez said he is still adjusting to the new rules regarding replay. The Braves will be allowed the use of replay three times during spring training. He said he is still trying to figure out the rules. He said he will likely have a part-time coach in the replay booth to send down signals on the calls.”

    Well, that would be good.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10484483/atlanta-braves-fredi-gonzalez-frank-wren-get-extensions

  165. 165
    Dan Says:

    All the repetitive, boring television and radio commentary on replay is going to be tedious over the course of this full season.

    “This is extra innings, so the replay rules…”
    “Do they challenge here? The Braves only have one challenge left, do you save it or use it now?”
    “Remember, balls and strikes cannot be reviewed.”
    “An extra dynamic to being a manager…”

  166. 166
    braves14 Says:

    Fredi hasn’t learned the rules yet? Dear God.

  167. 167
    Marc Schneider Says:

    I think they should review everything. They are essentially saying that umpires can screw up all they want except for those times the manager decides it’s worth challenging. Of course, this runs counter to my notion that games are too long.

  168. 168
    Rob Cope Says:

    @166

    “What would ya say… ya do here?”

  169. 169
    ryan c Says:

    Attention Braves Journal fantasy league Managers from ’13:

    11 of the 14 have re-upped their teams. If I don’t get a response from the other 3 by Saturday, I will open the league up to the braves journal blog.

    If any are interested in playing in the league this year, send me an email at cothrjr at hotmail dot com. We potentially have 2 spots available so be swift!

  170. 170
    kc Says:

    That Homer Bailey contract is insane. We better lock up Minor soon.

  171. 171
    c. shorter Says:

    166 — Exactly my first thought.

  172. 172
    JonathanF Says:

    There’s no way that Fredi is worse than Dusty. I grant that Dusty game-managed himself out of a job, but he is in a completely separate class as far as I’m concerned. Until I hear otherwise, I’ll assume Bryan Price learned everything from Dusty.

  173. 173
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The primary problem with Fredi is that you guys watch him every day, and fret over every detail of every decision and go ballistic when results go poorly. If you had to watch another manager you’d do the same thing to them.

  174. 174
    JonathanF Says:

    Not quite, Sam. You and I agree on Fredi for the most part, but I’m fairly careful not to judge results, only prospective decisions. I actually don’t think Fredi is that bad… somewhere in the middle in a role that doesn’t generate a lot of differences anyway. But I only watched Dusty a handful of times a year, and he was truly bad at that part of the game.

  175. 175
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I snark because I love. But honestly, Fredi put Jason Heyward in the leadoff spot. He learned from 2011 and stopped riding his killer relievers so hard. The rest is gravy, IMHO. A manager as bad as Fredi’s reputation with Braves fans would have left Andrelton Simmons or Jordan Schafer at the top of the order because “fast guys or middle infielders hit leadoff.”

    I have no problem with Fredi at all.

  176. 176
    mavery Says:

    lol Auburn

  177. 177
    krussell Says:

    Fredi drives me insane but I guess I’m going to have to learn to come to some level of acceptance with him. I still don’t think leaving Uggla off the roster was a good decision, especially given the “he might not be the best tactically but he’s great in the clubhouse” meme that Fredi seems to get from a lot of pundits.

    But…I still reserve the right to yell at my TV when he lets a middle reliever bat and then switches pitchers at the beginning of the next inning. Please let us haters at least hold on to that.

  178. 178
    Dan Says:

    Is there a bigger no-win situation for an MLB manager than a game in which their team is leading 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth, with the starter pitching great? No matter what they do, if the team loses, they screwed up. It is either: “why did he bring in the closer, the guy was pitching brilliantly and only had thrown X number of pitches” or “why didn’t he bring in a fresh arm; it’s not the 1950s any longer, complete games are irrelevant!”

  179. 179
    Rob Cope Says:

    I’m right there with Marc on Fredi’s leadership. I wouldn’t dare pretend to understand what a major league manager does on a daily basis other than my knowledge of the game of baseball and coaching it. I think they’re called managers and not coaches for a reason; their role is largely based on developing players and getting the most out of some gifted but dumb athletes. The tactical, in-game stuff is murky at best, often times there is clearly no right answer to many decisions, and they get taken to the woodshed every time the decision doesn’t produce the positive result.

  180. 180
    ryan c Says:

    I thought Fredi did a really good job in 2014 while being put in a position that no other manager was in with Uggla and BJ. It’s a testament to the whole club to win 96 games with that much adversity. Whether it’s just the winning or not, I felt like he grew as a manager and decision maker.

  181. 181
    Marc Schneider Says:

    As for Fredi not knowing the rules on replay, chill out. They are all still learning them, not so much the rules themselves but trying to figure out the strategy. The new Nats Manager, Matt Williams, seems to be a fanatic for preparation, but he says he is still learning how the rules will operate. I don’t think it’s as settled as people seem to think.

  182. 182
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    New thread.

  183. 183
    ryan c Says:

    HELL YEAH, ANDRELTON!

  184. 184
    That one south paw Says:

    What do you guys think about giving, in order, the next extensions to minor, medlen, heyward and possibly Jup.
    Minor 6-8 years at an average of 10mil a year( minor is my idol), heyward 5-8 years at 15mil a year average, and medlen 3-5 years at 10mil a year, do braves have room for this with the payroll? I would at least like to see minor and heyward!
    GET IT DONE WREN

  185. 185
    That one south paw Says:

    Oh and nothing pisses me off more then when people say we don’t have an ace. We had 3 guys last season that all threw 180-200 innings and post an ERA of around 3.20. To me that’s a solid 2 and maybe light 1. Add in a full year of Brandon beachy and wood in the rotation, you’ve got 3 guys with the potential of being no.1 starters next season, a solid two in medlen and a solid 3 in wood, who TF needs an ace when you got a staff like that?!

Leave a Reply

© 2014 Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built | Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

GPS Reviews and news from GPS Gazettewordpress logo