He didn’t have a chance

Marte among cuts | Sports | Braves | ajc.com

Andy Marte was possibly the Braves’ best hitter this spring, and clearly ready for the majors. There’s no spot for him. (Cue BP saying that Chipper needs to be moved to the outfield.) Bobby says that Marte “may” see some time in the outfield in the minors.

Among the six others were four players who had reasonable chances to make the roster: Billy McCarthy, Kelly Johnson, Jorge Vasquez, and Anthony Lerew. Vasquez and Lerew, I’m guessing, will be up at some time this season, but the Braves have a lot of righthanded relief in camp and Hernandez and Bernero have looked better. Johnson and McCarthy, similarly, were caught in a numbers situation in the outfield — especially since the Braves are stupidly going to carry only four outfielders — and McCarthy didn’t hit. Tony Pena Jr., speaking of not hitting, and Scott Thorman were also cut. 12 cuts to go.

16 thoughts on “He didn’t have a chance”

  1. I am happy to hear that Marte may see some time in the OF. If he keeps this up, he won’t stay down for long. And this has to be putting a ton of pressure on LaRoche.

  2. JC, Pressure on LaRoche because they’ll move Chipper to first to get Marte’s bat? Or Marte to first?

  3. When I wrote it I meant moving Chipper, but now that I think about it, the latter option may be more likely. Either way, Rochy is on the hot seat right now.

  4. Wouldn’t you say that Jordan or Langerhans are equally under pressure since a hot start by Marte makes it almost impossible to keep him in Richmond?

  5. I think Davies is not long for the big league team. He got shelled again tonight, poor kid.

  6. I don’t agree that LaRoche is in trouble. He’s a promising young player who has a starting job on the big club, and hit like gangbusters in the second half of last year. Not the kind of player a smart organization will jerk around. He still has to perform, of course, but the Braves have groomed him for this exact job. Less patience should be shown our corner outfielders — if Marte can show passable outfield skills, I’m all for plugging him in LF, until he takes the 3B job from Chipper. Which might not take as long as some folks think.

  7. Fact 1: The Braves want Marte to stay in the infield.

    Fact 2: The Braves think LaRoche is good, but not an everyday player.

    Fact3: Chipper is not going back to the outfield; only to third or first.

    Potential Situation: LaRoche starts off 2005 like 2004. Marte starts 2005 like he’s playing right now.

    All I’m saying is that LaRoche is the odd-man out in the infield, which is where they want Marte to play. If LaRoche starts 2005 like he ended 2004, then he has nothing to worry about. That’s where Marte would go in this case. The corner outfielders are all in hot-seat postions regardless of Marte. Between McCarthy, Johnson, and potential trades none of these guys has anything guaranteed going into the season.

    Why would the Braves not “jerk around” LaRoche, but would freely do so with Chipper? That’s the way the game is played. If you stink it up, you hit the bench. LaRoche understands this, which is why he hushed up an injury last year to keep his spot in the line-up. Unless Chipper is really done, I don’t see any hot-shot minor league player taking away Chipper’s job. Chipper is still a very good baseball player who projects better numbers than LaRoche.

  8. Fact 1: The Braves want Marte to stay in the infield.

    I don’t know whether this is true, but I hope it is. Marte has more value at 3B than at any other position. But you refute this in your above post, saying you’ve heard he may play some OF. In the short term, I see OF as his quickest path to the majors.

    Fact 2: The Braves think LaRoche is good, but not an everyday player.

    This is an assertion, not a fact — I haven’t heard anyone in the organization say LaRoche isn’t seen as a potential everyday player. That said, for now he’s the left-handed part of an effective platoon, meaning he’ll get 75% of the starts, and he’s playing his natural position. He’s young, he’s cheap, he’s got a track record of good results in the minors and steady improvement when healthy in the majors. Forget baseball — any effective manager of people should know that this is the type of employee who should be encouraged, and even allowed to struggle a bit, rather than threatened by incipient replacement. That’s what you do to the short-timers (read: Jordan, Mondesi).

    Fact3: Chipper is not going back to the outfield; only to third or first.

    I hope you’re right! But it doesn’t sound to me like Chipper would consider any position move at this point. He’s been very vocal about his preference to stay at third, and indeed moving him to first to accomodate a rookie would constitute jerking him around. It’s a particular type of jerking around that’s almost never been welcomed by a proud veteran (Nevin/Burroughs the most recent example), and nothing in Cox’s history leads me to believe he’ll try to convince Chipper otherwise. Remember, Chipper’s approval was solicited before we signed Vinny, who was established and a good fielder.

    Like I said, if Marte can get up to speed in the outfield, I’d love to see him get a shot later this season. As for my contention that he may take the 3B job from Chipper fairly soon, I didn’t mean to imply that the Braves would have an open competition between the two, because I don’t think that will happen. Instead, I believe the Braves will trade Chipper in the next 12 months, as he is still a good player, and can bring value in return.

  9. But you refute this in your above post, saying you’ve heard he may play some OF.

    No, I didn’t refute myself. Yes, I think he might play in the outfield. OF is one of the places he might end up. That is an option no matter what happens with the players in the OF. LaRoche doing poorly opens up another possible place for him to play.

    This is an assertion, not a fact

    So there’s a chance that Julio won’t be in a platoon with LaRoche this year? That’s the first I’ve heard of that.

    Instead, I believe the Braves will trade Chipper in the next 12 months

    Won’t happen. Chipper has a no-trade clause, and his hefty contract makes moving him very difficult. This is why LaRoche is more likely to be moved.

  10. When you say the Braves don’t view LaRoche as an everyday player, I read that to mean they don’t think he has it in him to be an everyday player, this season or beyond. If you were referring solely to this season, okay. I know he’s in a platoon with Julio. My point is that LaRoche’s career is on the upswing (as oppoosed to his platoon partner, the oldest semi-regular position player in major league history), and he’s likely to receive more playing time in the future, not less. I think he’s unlikely to be benched due to short-term struggles. They didn’t bench him last year, why wouldn’t they stick with him this year? They see something they like, and LaRoche is just beginning to justify that opinion.

    Regarding Chipper, the existence of a no-trade clause doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a trade, and neither does his big contract. I’m pretty sure that every player in recent history of Chipper’s accomplishments and team tenure has had a no-trade clause, but trades happen anyway. Players waive clauses, teams assume salary to facilitate trades, it happens. I think he’s on the downside of his career, and the Braves well know that good young 3Bs don’t grow on trees the same way outfielders do. If Chipper doesn’t have a big comeback year, and if it’s clear to him that the Braves have other plans, I don’t think he would stand in the way. Dale Murphy blocked David Justice’s outfield spot, so Schuerholz traded Murphy. He’s not afraid to do that kind of thing.

  11. Fact 2: The Braves think LaRoche is good, but not an everyday player

    The difference between a fact and a personal opinion passed on as fact is more than mere semantics, it is fraudulent.

    Nobody has ever said, within the organization, that LaRoche is not going to be an everyday firstbaseman in the Majors. Just about every young players the Braves have called up has been platooned there first few years. LaRoched is no different.

    Dont underestimate the necessity on this team to have a firstbaseman that can field the position with the likes of Chipper and Furcal ond the left-side of the diamond.

    There is no reason, other than fantasy value or BP perspective that Marte is not as valuabele to the Braves as a LF as he would be manning the hot corner.

  12. There is no reason, other than fantasy value or BP perspective that Marte is not as valuabele to the Braves as a LF as he would be manning the hot corner.

    I agree with this in regards to the 2005 season, because the player Marte would be replacing in LF (Jordan) is not as good as the player he would replace at 3B (Chipper, not that this would happen this year), so he’s a more significant upgrade in LF.

    But, speaking more generally, I disagree. “Replacement value” is a stathead term, but I think the concept it describes is pretty conventional wisdom — a good hitter at a difficult defensive position is more valuable than the same hitter at an easier position, because there’s more equivalent talent at the easier position. Need evidence?

    Average OPS for each position (min. 502 PA)

    LF 3B
    2001 927 835
    2002 941 770
    2003 882 793
    2004 926 854

    Even if you minimize Barry Bonds by reducing his OPS to that of the second highest LF, in 2004 the gap is still 888-854, which is by far the closest of the four. There are more good-hitting LFs than there are 3Bs, and I’m willing to bet this has never not been the case. So, long term, the Braves will be better served by putting Marte at 3B and going looking for a LF than the other way around.

  13. sansho, I thought it was Cox who traded away Murphy in 1990, but Schuerholz…corret me if I am wrong. Regardless, I highly doubt the Braves will trade away Chipper simply because nobody will take on his contract!

  14. I think you’re right, kc. 1990, the year of the trade, was the year Cox fired Russ Nixon and went back to the dugout, then Schuerholz came aboard during the off-season — I stand corrected.

    The notion of trading Chipper got me to thinking — has there ever been someone you would consider an iconic Brave who actually finished his career with the team? I can’t think of one. Starting with Warren Spahn, then Mathews, Aaron, Niekro (I don’t count his final cameo), Murph, Justice, Glavine, Maddux, and Javy all either left, were traded, or just shown the door. Am I missing someone? Best you can say about Smoltz, Chipper, and Andruw is that it hasn’t happened yet. My point is never say never — you’d be closer to the truth by always saying always….

  15. Sansho1: 1978 All-Star Biff Pocoroba
    1981 and 1983 All-Star Bruce Benedict
    So, I think you’re right, except for iconic Braves catchers

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