Where Do We Go From Here? 2005: Part 10, the post-Furcal era

Okay, the rumor is Julio Lugo. Lugo is not a bad player, really. Actually, his career statistics are pretty close to Furcal’s and to Jimmy Rollins. (The two most similar players to Lugo using Similarity Scores are Furcal and Rollins. The two most similar to Furcal are Rollins and Lugo. The two most similar to Rollins are Furcal and Lugo.) The difference is that Lugo will be 30 next season, Furcal 28, and Rollins 27. Still, for one year, that’s not a big concern. His defensive statistics are pretty good. But giving up an elite prospect such as Andy Marte for a year of Lugo seems stupid.

So the Braves also have Wilson Betemit, and I don’t see why they can’t commit to him, or at the very least give him a shot while bringing in a veteran neifi (the actual Neifi is wrapped up) as a backup. Here you’ve got a 23-year-old kid who hit .305/.359/.435 in significant part-time duty last year. He played a steady if unspectacular shortstop (fielding percentage of .985, better than the league) last year.

Betemit’s really the only internal solution. Pete Orr can’t throw, Tony Pena Jr. can’t hit, and Kelly Johnson can’t field. (Put them all together and you have Andres Thomas.) The Braves have two top prospects in Elvis Andrus and Yunel Escobar, but neither has even tackled Myrtle Beach yet. If the Braves were to bring in a one-year solution, maybe one of them could be ready for the Furcal fast track to the majors in 2007, but I doubt it. And Lugo seems to be about it available on the shortstop front — though Scheurholz could surprise.

181 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? 2005: Part 10, the post-Furcal era”

  1. http://www.talkingchop.com/story/2005/12/4/215940/326

    In this interview JS has said he thinks Betemit is ready to be the everyday shortstop and he’ll have the chance to play for the job during the dominican winter league and spring training. Of course this could just be a bargaining tactic aimed at the D-Rays — saying that they’ve got Betemit so they wont overpay for Lugo.

  2. I think that’s a valid gripe, Mac. Have you tried hard to get interviews before? I assume this guy used the cachet of the SportsBlogs brand, perhaps some connection from Tyler of the A’s blog or something.

    Does anyone else read “Talking Chop?” I only found that link from Primer.

    Also, it sounds like Andy is a goner. Too many references to “our team or someone else’s” for my taste.

  3. Jayson Stark seems to think that Dunn is staying but the Reds will trade either Pena or Kearns. I’d take Kearns. But the Reds have no need for Marte, not with Encarnacion (though Marte is better).

    Maybe I need to hustle more, I dunno.

  4. You know, Mac, they give press credentials to bloggers, I believe. I know this to be so because an OriolesHangout guy got stripped of his for no good reason and it set off a mass protest. So maybe you should try that. Except you don’t live in Atlanta, so maybe someone can get you some by proxy.

    Did anyone see Sean Dockery’s buzzer-beater 3-point shot for Duke last night? My jaw is still hanging.

  5. jenny, I didn’t see it live, but I saw it thirty thousand times after I was too lazy to change the channel following Sunday Night Football.

  6. Indians need a third baseman. Unfortunately, pretty much 100% of their good young talent is worth more than Marte. I don’t think Marte + Estrada could get any of Hafner, Sizemore, or Peralta.

    They just signed Byrd, btw.

  7. To me, Anna’s craziness only makes her more sexy. Of course, it also makes me glad I have nothing to do with her.

  8. Hey, how about Marte for Shealy? That seems fair, and for both franchises, it moves a MLB ready prospect from a blocked position to an open one.

  9. Ryan Shealy, Colorado 1b prospect. He’s a big boy, so I’ve heard, maybe too big to stick at 1B. Guy can hit though.

  10. Ana Benson could have Bobby Dews likeness tattooed on her forehead and still be hot. I agree that her craziness makes her more sexy.

    I always get antsy this time of year. I’m always fascinated by the process of building a team. There are just so many different directions JS could go…..

  11. It would take a lot to get me off Braves baseball but losing Furcal followed up by Lugo for Marte would probably do it. Or Marte for anybody really.

    Thinking of all the free time I would suddenly have…

  12. I think that I should probably bring up the question nobody’s asking…
    WHO CAN WE TRADE FOR PRESTON WILSON?

  13. So what’s Rafael Belliard up to these days? BRING HIM BACK!!!!

    Just kidding. Even though I do miss his career 529 OPS.

  14. At what point do we call Jeff Bluaser up to the show to play short this year? I think he is our third option!

  15. I have a strange question that just randomly occurred to me:

    Can transsexuals play Major League Baseball? And where would I go to research this?

  16. Why should we go after Preston Wilson?

    Also, if we lose any of the future for Lujo we are nuts. I live in Houston and was glad to see him depart. He is not the solution. Let Betemit play and acquire an outfielder who can lead off. Carl Crawford preferrably of Juan Pierre? Pierre would cost more, but Crawford is a stud! Just inked longterm but JS might be able to pull it off.

  17. jenny, I would imagine that trans individuals can play MLB, just as I would imagine females could play MLB. I believe there have been female pitchers in the minors. I don’t think MLB has any gender rules.

  18. ESPN has a funny poll up about the Braves (http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/polling?event_id=1899). Two things: I wish I had been given the option to play Marte at 3B and Chipper at 1B, or just keep Marte in the minors next season. Also, Hampton is not even going to be available to pitch next year, so the pollster and the poll takers (At least 50% of them) have a very slippery grasp on the Atlanta outlook.

  19. I feel fortunate to have been in the stands for Rafael Belliard’s homer off Brian Bohanon. Shea was electric.

  20. I was, and I believe I was the only one in the stands who realized the significance of the event. I was jumping up and down and going crazy like Grissom just caught the last ball in ’95. People thought I was nuts. A drunkard Met fan behind me thought I was playing the “root for the guy who sucks” game, so he countered with a 3 inning campaign to get Scott Pose inserted into the game. Good times!

  21. I believe why Marte is in the mix is because they hope to get both Lugo and Baez in the trade.

  22. I don’t see what is so hot about Anna Benson, ok maybe if she lost like 30 pounds and she didn’t have such a big head, things might be different, but as is, she is just another has been.

    I have heard or actually read that Angel Berroa of KC might be available, and the only way I could see Marte end up as a DRay is if there was a multiplayer deal, like a Crawford/Lugo for HoRam/Marte/PTBNL, but thats why I am not a GM so we will just have to wait and see.

  23. Noteworthy:

    The Braves’ search for a closer could lead them to pursue deals with the Twins, Astros and other teams with deep bullpens. Potential targets would include Astros right-hander Chad Qualls and Twins right-hander Jesse Crain, both of whom could be converted into closers.

    I would actually rather have Qualls than Lidge, because the price would be lower, and there’s less damage to the arm. And the Astros definitely would want Estrada as part of any deal, so that’s one very useful piece in place.

  24. By the way, if anyone’s watching the special “Winter Meetings” edition of Baseball Tonight, is anyone else appalled at how much they’re kissing the Mets’ ass? Team to beat when the perennial division winner hasn’t done anything yet? C’mon now guys. They talk as if Wilson Betemit is Christian Guzman and like losing Farnsworth was the equivalent of losing Smoltz as the closer.

    Whatever happened to “To be the man, you have to beat the man”? I guess all you have to do nowadays is flash enough cash out there, and then everyone is impressed.

  25. In JS I trust, but I’d feel better if we could get Qualls and/or Lidge for Estrada and one of the non-Georgia kids. I also believe in Santa Claus.

  26. I kept meaning to mention Qualls, who has been rumored on the block. To be honest, I figured the Stros would do their normal trick of flipping Lidge like they did Wagner and Dotel. But if they’ll give up Qualls, great. Qualls for Estrada and a prospect? Ausmus is a free agent and old.

  27. just as a side note… if you follow the free agent tracker top 50 list on ESPN.com, with the lone exception of Johjima, Steve Phillips has gotten every single signing wrong.

  28. jenny, Dockery’s buzzer-beater was nothing compared to Mario Moore’s against Oregon on Wednesday. Go ‘Dores.

  29. I dunno about Qualls. I keep thinking of LaRoche’s 3-run homer off him in the playoffs last year, and I get nervous. I’d still prefer Lidge, even if he costs more.

  30. either Qualls or Lidge would be great, so long as Estrada is the main component of the deal.

  31. Estrada is simply not enough to be the main component in any relief deal, it would also require a good pitching prospect, probably a starter (i.e., Clemens insurance) from the Sosa/Davies/Lerew trio and maybe an additional prospect. Estrada-Sosa-PTBN would be ideal, but still a bit light given Qualls’ potential and his budget contract.

    After the collision last year and Estrada’s tentative defense afterwards, we’re lucky that he has any trade value left.

  32. Where does Ken Rosenthal get all of his Braves info? It seems like every “news and notes” feature that he does has at least one Bravos mention in it, while other “experts” hardly give us any mention at all.

  33. Crain is known to touch 100 MPH, but his fastball varied from 92-98 MPH when he shortened his stride late in the season to improve his command. Still, he had the stuff to get big league hitters out. Crain throws a big curve and a good slider, pitches the Twins believe will improve as he learns to relax on the mound. While he has a tendency to overthrow, he is nearly unhittable when his command is on. He is a decent fielder who needs to improve at holding baserunners, but he isn’t likely to allow many as he matures

    Scouting report on Jesse Crain, ( rumored candidate for closer )

  34. Ken Rosenthal gets his Braves info where he gets all of his other insider information:

    From his ass.

    This is the same guy who said that Furcal was gonna sign with the Yankees to play center field.

    What an idiot.

  35. I think we remember the Estrada play more than those who don’t follow the Braves. If there are concerns, we can point to a couple of plays late in the season when Estrada blocked the plate very nicely. He was hurt for much of the season, and is only one year removed from being a hero around here (although that was overstated, too). If we find a team with a need for a catcher, a “convertible” reliever in return seems like a good deal for all involved.

  36. Relying on the likes of Peter Gammons and Ken Rosenthal for my info on the Winter Meetings is driving me absolutely crazy. I want some real news, now! As far as I can tell, they just get hypotheticals from lower-level management guys who really don’t know what they’re talking about and make it into news. Gammons is a tad more credible but they are both awful.

    Does the AJC have a guy in Dallas? I know the Boston Globe has sent two of their top reporters and is keeping a very informative blog that is updated about every 6 hours.

  37. Um, as previously mentioned, Pujols hits them off everyone. And as also previously mentioned, no one in their right might could expect Podsednik to homer, even on a fastball down the middle. Do you read the comments on your own site, Mac?

    I stand by my “At least Lidge hasn’t given up a crippling homerun to Adam LaRoche” rule of thumb. Also, Qualls doesn’t bring the cheese the way Lidge does. If you want to have an argument, the only basis for Qualls over Lidge is cost. In terms of closing ability, you just look silly if you think Qualls is Lidge’s equal or superior.

  38. He sounds miserable there. Hey, David, if you don’t want to stay in a nice plushy hotel for 4 days and talk to some of the greatest baseball minds in the business and meet famous people while getting inside scoops on an expense account, I will be happy to take your job.

  39. Hey, could someone clear this up for me: why does anyone think that Jorge Sosa would be a good setup man? Doesn’t he give up way too many baserunners? Wouldn’t it be better to sell high right now, especially now that Leo’s gone?

  40. I didn’t say it counts in his favor. But, in my opinion, it counts less against him than does giving up a homer to LaRoche, who IS known to have power.

    Okay, say there’s someone who hasn’t hit a homer all season long. We’ll call him Scott. You’ve studied film and seen how, time and time again, pitchers go right after this guy with fastballs since, regardless of location, he hasn’t shown that he can do any damage with them. So you reach back and throw. But Scott’s on an unusually high dosage of Greenies today, and he happens to catch one. You didn’t do anything wrong really, other than be in the wrong place at the wrong time. With way too many innings logged on your arm for one season.

    Now say there’s someone who has hit some homeruns this season, particularly in the second half, where his steadily increasing OPS has people like Peter Gammons predicting he’ll have a big sleeper year the following season. We’ll call this gentleman Adam. You’ve noticed in your study of film that you can pitch Adam up or you can pitch him in the dirt. Either way, you’re safe, and these are the locations you go for. The only place you don’t pitch Adam–at least not without a plus fastball–is knee-high, right over the plate, the only location for which his Attention Deficit Disorder will allow him to focus long enough to make solid contact. But you decide to pitch him there anyway, because, well, maybe you too have ADD. And Adam hits a very long homerun.

    Which pitcher would you rather be/have? Which homerun is more understandably surrendered? I’d have to say its the Podsednik homerun, but if you guys want to continue misreading me and continue ignoring facts, well, go right ahead.

  41. So allowing a home run to a guy who hasn’t hit one all year to lose a World Series game is perfectly understandable! I don’t see why you guys can’t get that!

    Adam Laroche’s slugging percentage, before the break: .478.
    After the break: .426.

    Honestly, Stu, is this a joke? Because it’s a particularly sophisticated one.

  42. Actually, Mac, the homer occurred in the 2004 playoffs. Seriously, let’s do a little bit better research before quoting statistics, m’kay?

    And, I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to say this, but here goes again: It’s not understandable or okay or desirable (or whatever you want to set up the straw man argument label to be) that Lidge allowed a homer to Podsednik. But, given the circumstances, it’s less terrible than giving up a homer to LaRoche. Do you see my point yet? Or am I going to have to repeat this again? Just let me know. Maybe I can figure out another way to rephrase this, one which even Alabama-affiliated folks can understand. Sheesh.

    Get Lidge, if possible, instead of Qualls.

  43. I think I get what Stu is saying….somebody mentioned 2001 WS and Rivera earlier, which compares somewhat. Great pitch, fortunate bloop single.

    Basically, the sun shone on Scott Podsednik’s rear end in Game 2 (or whichever it was).

  44. If the Astros are dealing Lidge, it’s because they think he will break down soon. Cf. Dotel, Octavio.

  45. Stu, I see what you’re saying. But the reverse side of it is, LaRoche has a higher probability of hitting a home run when he comes up than Scott Podsednik does. Therefore, giving up said home run is not so awful because the odds were fairly high that it would eventually happen. You said yourself, “Pujols homers off everybody;” well, LaRoche hits a fair number of homers himself. We beat on him a lot, but he does have power. Conversely, throwing a pitch that is so bad that Scott Podsednik can hit it out, and to one of the deeper parts of the park, is pretty awful.

  46. one which even Alabama-affiliated folks can understand
    Can we stop the ad hominem attacks here? Please?

  47. Well, that part was intended as a joke, AAR, but my jokes have been misinterpreted (or, more probably, poorly delivered) on here before, so I apologize for that one. Seriously, though, Mac continues to paraphrase what I’m saying completely incorrectly, and if there’s going to be a serious argument, that–along with my poorly composed jokes–needs to stop.

    jenny, Pujols homers off everybody, regardless of pitch or location. LaRoche only homers on pitches located in a very limited part of the strike zone, so throwing one in that location is what’s beyond stupid. (You could argue that pitching to Pujols at all is a bad idea in that situation, and I’d agree, but that isn’t totally the pitcher’s call, and once the decision to pitch to him has been made, the odds are already against you.) As to the “pitch that is so bad that Scott Podsednik can hit it out” part of your point, I believe I’ve already addressed that point, and I’m tired of repeating myself.

    I’m done with this subject now. Everybody feel free to believe what you want. I vote for acquiring Lidge.

  48. It’s not understandable or okay or desirable (or whatever you want to set up the straw man argument label to be) that Lidge allowed a homer to Podsednik. But, given the circumstances, it’s less terrible than giving up a homer to LaRoche. Do you see my point yet?

    I find this to be a fascinating line of thinking. Where does the homer to Ausmus rate? How about that game losing grand slam to Eckstein that Reitsma gave up, where does that fall on the scale? I’m very excited to learn that there are degrees of awfulness involved in giving up game losing home runs.

    Seriously, Qualls is the easy choice here. Less millage on the arm, less salary, should come cheaper, pretty equal talent. No brainer. Estrada + prospect would be dynamite – for us anyway.

  49. I’m gonna go against everyone and agree with Stu here. Lidge made a good pitch but Podsednik got around on it. Qualls didnt and Laroche capitalized.

  50. I would probably be more for acquiring Lidge than Qualls.

    But truth be told, if you were watching that on the fateful night of Game 4, LaRoche’s grand slam was on an outside fastball that wasn’t outside, but rode right over the heart of the plate. So it wasn’t intentional. But Stu, I agree with you. KILL this topic. This happens in way too many threads here.

  51. Thanks for noticing my comment, Stu…I watched Lidge talk about the Podsednik homer after the game. He threw the pitch he wanted to throw: a fastball down the middle. He never expected Podsednik to hit it out; as Stu said, no one in their right mind would have. It wasn’t a mistake on Lidge’s part. Podsednik simply outsmarted him on a big stage. Even if Lidge had too many innings by that point, it’s not like that’s something we can’t manage better than the Astros did last season…and it’s not like the Astros will actually make him available anyway…I’d happily take Qualls.

  52. It has been my experience that throwing a fastball down the middle of the plate is usually not a good idea, no matter WHO the hitter is. I don’t care if it’s Scott Podsednik or that little 90-year-old rugby player they keep putting on the Top Plays. The fact that Lidge thought throwing a meatball to Podsednik was good strategy is mind-boggling to me. Even if he doesn’t hit a HR, he will hit something on that pitch. Fastball down the middle? Come on.

    However, Stu, after assaulting you ;-) I will say that I’d be happy with either guy. The argument, as you’ve said, is kind of pointless.

  53. Also, Gammons has been going around saying that Burnett is going to sign a 5/55 deal with Toronto within the hour. So the Cardinals should be holding the press conference any minute now…

  54. The Jays are hilarious.

    Why is Andruw representing the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic? What’s the connection there?

  55. You’re both idiots for thinking that one pitch makes a pitcher good or not. That it was in the playoffs doesn’t make a damn difference. EVERYONE gives up homeruns, therefore one home run proves nothing. Period. So stop it, both of you. Hey, John Smoltz gave up like 6 runs to the mets one time in the 9th inning, what a terrible closer he was.

  56. A little snippet from another site:

    Marte’s BABIP per level
    ML:.182
    AAA:.304
    AA:.313
    A:.336
    R:.330

    Give the kid a chance

  57. Andruw is from Curacuo, which is part of the Netherlands Antilles.

    Got it. Thanks for the tip. Doesn’t look like he’ll have much protection in the lineup since he’s the only MLBer on the Netherlands roster.

    Give the kid a chance

    Absolutely. I’ve lowered my expectaions so much that I would consider this a good offseason if Marte is still in a Braves uniform on opening day.

  58. I’d love to give Marte a chance, but I’m not sure when or at what position we’d be able to do that…I think the reality is that we’re trading him, either this offseason or sometime soon after that. And I’m excited to think of what we could get in terms of positions we could reasonably expect to improve upon…a great LF prospect, a great 1B prospect, even a nearly MLB-ready starting pitcher…unless I’m missing something about Marte that makes him completely unique and irreplacable, shouldn’t we all be excited? Schuerholz won’t let us down. We’ll get something good for him.

  59. This was reported on MLB Trade Rumors.com- Take it for what it’s worth.

    The Twins have offered Jesse Crain, Kyle Lohse, and an unnamed prospect for Andy Marte.

    My family is from MN so I keep up with the Twins.

    Crain is a good, young setup man, possible closer. He was phenomanal the 2nd half of last year(his debut) and the 1st half of this year. I thought he deserved all-star consideration. Then he struggled in the 2nd half. His strikeout rate fell off big time. Not enough of a sample size to project him. His 1st year of great stuff could have been a fluke or the 2nd half of this year could have been a slump. I’d bet on the latter.

    Lohse would have been a prime Mazzone candidate. He’s got good stuff, but control is a problem. He seems to cruise through the first 3 and then get frustrated after he gives up a couple hits. At that point he can’t get back on track.

    He’s probably a career 4th starter, but I think the Braves need another starter this year. He’ll probably get about $4.5 in arbitration, which is why the Twins are shopping him.

    Any thoughts? (if this deal were to actually happen)

  60. Matt, the Braves do not need another #4 starters. As of now, the Braves already has three #4 starters in Thomson, Sosa, and Ramirez. Lohse will make the same money as Thomson (and twice as well as Sosa and Ramirez will be making) but no where near close to Thomson’s effectiveness. Crain ended up walking more batters than strikeouts last season, which means Crain will possibly be another Dan Kolb.

    I would only consider trading Marte to the Twins if the deal involves Juan Rincůn or Francisco Liriano , which is unlikely.

    You know guys, MLB Trade Rumors are suggesting moving Chipper back to leftfield to make room for Marte…these people are hopeless…

  61. Well we really must be shopping Marte if there are rummors popping up. I think we need to move CHipper to first.

  62. Ken ” I know it all ” Rosenthal ‘reported’ that the Twins werent going to trade any more right handed relievers, but would part with JC Romero. He also ‘reported’ that the Braves inquired about Orlando Hudson, that they thought he could be moved to short, but that the Jays werent interested in Estrada.

  63. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

    Says Caral Crawford is on the block. Marte and Estrada for Crawford, Lugo, and their closer (we need another Danny to shut things down)

    Wouldn’t it be great to hear Bobby when Julio Lugo is up ot bat. “Come on Lugy, get a hit!”

  64. You’re right about the Braves not NEEDING Lohse. Although I would rather get another starter and put Sosa back in the pen. There’s also a chance that Ramirez could be dealt. So getting another viable #4 starter is not a bad thing. Whether or not it’s needed could be debated.

    As for the other prospect, that could be what makes or breaks the deal. I’d be willing to bet my kidney though that it’s not Baker or Kubel.

    I’m not so sure that suggesting Chipper move to left in order to bring up Andy qualifies someone as “hopeless”. That’s a whole different thread though.

  65. In addition to Smoltz being a closer again, we should get over with the idea about moving Chipper back to leftfield (which is the same as sending $11M to the DL).

  66. Hey, speaking of off-topic, does anybody think Narnia will be good? I really want it to be good, but it’s definitely trying to be the next Lord of the Rings, which is just setting it up for disappointment.

  67. Neither Crain nor Lohse are very good pitchers. That would be a horrible deal.

    Crain last year, as per THT:
    k/9: 2.9
    bb/9: 3.4
    hr/9: 0.70

    Why would we even consider acquiring a guy like that? That’s Kolb II just waiting to happen.

  68. I’ve heard that Narnia is supposed to be very on point with the book and, in addition, it is said to very consciously put forth the Christian allegory, as the book did. For me, that’s great news, but I don’t know what you’d consider “good,” AAR. I’m really looking forward to the movie.

    I’d also like to echo two sentiments expressed here:

    1) We do not need Kyle Lohse.

    2) My expectations have also been lowered to the point that keeping Marte a Brave is about the best thing within the realm of possibility that could happen for us this offseason.

  69. Peter Gammons was just on XM Radio saying that Josh Beckett’s MRI was “so bad the Red Sox think he may make only 20 starts.” Funny he says that, because Dr. James Andrews told Beckett the MRI was okay and he could continue his normal offseason program.

    Does Gammons make this stuff up to amuse himself? Did he already go through the minibar in his room? The Burnett thing has also apparently been shelved until Tuesday. Who is he sourcing? Himself? Steve Phillips? The concierge?

  70. Just passing this along.

    Carl Crawford had the second luckiest season in the majors last year according to PrOPS.

    Stat: AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS
    Actual: .301/.331/.469/.800
    Predicted: .270/.302/.406/.708

    Plug (not without some shame): Read more about it in The Hardball Times Annual 2006.

    I don’t think Crawford will be a D-Ray too much longer, but I hope he doesn’t land with the Braves.

  71. Since we already have a second baseman, I think a good rule to follow is:

    Unless the last name starts with ‘K’ and ends with ‘azmir’, DO NOT ACQUIRE DEVIL RAYS.

  72. Furcal:
    Trying to sign since last spring, Agent never gave a number
    During development meetings it was a high priority but they didn’t think it would take 13mil (mentions him making more than raffy) Definately believes he’s not worth it.
    Replacements Mentioned in order: Bettimet (says deserves a chance), Pena, Trades

    Talk about Francoer and the kids.
    Says everyone wants McCann in response to a ‘You could never trade him right?”. Never directly answers that.

    Talks about Franco as if he will definately be back in spring training this year.

    Devine will be in spring training, if he does well he will make the team.

  73. Whoops.. here as the parts of my post I mis copied from after I logged in.

    bobby was on the MLB Home Plate channel on XM earlier today. I missed the braodacast but they replayed it about an hour ago… a few things he talked about (dunno how much this is covered)

    [INsert my above post]

    there was more but it was the typical fluff stuff about the organization and the kids.

  74. Stu, in answer to your question, I liked the books, and so, although I’m not a Christian I don’t think it would be right to remove the Christian allegory from them.

    Nonetheless, my main concern is just whether it will actually be a good flick–entertaining, fun for everyone, etc., etc. I’m just worried that they’ll splurge on the special effects and skimp on the acting, which seems to be the tendency with most big-budget movies.

    And let me second the motion: we should keep Marte. Monstrously talented cheap corner infield talent is not something to be tossed away lightly. Horacio Ramirez and Johnny Estrada are, however. The good thing is that John Schuerholz tends to trade away pitching prospects a lot more readily than position prospects. Hopefully, he’ll stick to that trend.

  75. JC, I’m not familiar with PrOPS, but is it a bad thing that Carl Crawford exeded his expectations? Is that what you mean by “lucky”, or is luck actually calculated some way? Is it possible that last year is about his level of actual talent? He was third in the AL for VORP among left fielders, and I doubt that luck did all of that.

  76. Thanks, JoeyT.

    I can’t say that I understand the methodology exactly, but it seems like fast players would generally rate as luckier because they can turn batted balls that for the rest of the league would have been outs into hits. I know that’s only a fraction of the “luck” factor, but if it’s true (though I could be totally wrong) then Crawford makes some of his own luck.

    So JC, is speed a factor? Do speedy guys like Crawford, Ichiro, and Furcal generally rate lucky? And are slow guys like Estrada unlucky? BTW, Great work on an interesting topic, and it’s great to see your work at Hardball Times.

  77. Cheap…I’d give my right arm for half that contract. Let’s face it the wheels came off this time, and the run’s over. We will not win eighty games this year. Count on it.
    The Braves have slowly but surely turned me into a miserable human being. I think I’ll start watching soccer or killer spin ping-pong.

  78. FWIW, BPro is calling the Furcal signing a great one for the Dodgers because it’s for 3 years. Their basic point was that it was extremely smart to pay a lot for a shorter contract and lock up his prime years instead of paying for a drawn-out contract. I guess I see their reasoning, but I still think they overpaid. I actually think Dayn Perry is pretty good, but every writer has their clunkers.

  79. OK, 3 posts in a row, but the Natspos made a late offer to Burnett:

    ” And a late entry by Washington with an offer believed to be similar to that of St. Louis seemed to only complicate the picture. Burnett’s wife is from Bowie, Md., and the draw of the Nationals might turn into something that Burnett cannot avoid.”

    -CBS Sportsline

  80. Also, if I’m Burnett, Washington would be a GREAT place to play for two or three years. It’s a total stat-padder ballpark. He leaves, still young, with an ERA below three for his time there, and some club that undervalues park effects will sign him to an even larger monster deal.

  81. Yes, offering three years to Furcal is smart because the entire period is covered by insurance. However, this does not cover up the fact that they over-paid their competition by 30%, which is completely stupid.

  82. The other thing about long-term deals is that they generally become “better” over time due to regular salary inflation. So a deal for 5/50 means that they’ll be paying just $10M for him for those two years when chances are salaries for a player of his calibur will be well beyond that range.

    But it’s a mixed bag. Longer contracts are risky for both parties in one way and “safer” in another.

  83. Hey what do you guys think about Joey Gathright! he could be a good leadoff hitter. If he plays at least a 120 games he on pace to steal at least 35-40 bases and had some pretty good numbers for a youngster. You won;t get any power from him but he could be a good fill for Furcal. Ill just wait and see what JS does at the winter meetingd hope he brings out some surprises

  84. Maverick, Joey Gathright doesn’t draw enough walks to be a good leadoff hitter, and he does not have any power to compensate for his lack of strikezone judgement. So, I think he has a great potential to be another Esix Snead.

  85. What do you guys think about Angel Berroa? I think he is either a former roids guy or a player who needs to be out of KC. His rookie year was great and the Royal were in the hunt until late in the season.

  86. From a Newark Star Ledger article:

    http://www.nj.com/sports/ledger/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/1133849263159860.xml&coll=1

    The Braves, Diamondbacks and Devil Rays were discussing a three-way trade that would send catcher Johnny Estrada from Atlanta to Arizona, second baseman Julio Lugo from Tampa Bay to Atlanta and young pitching from Arizona to Tampa Bay. The Braves deem Estrada expendable because of the emergence of young catcher Brian McCann, and they need Lugo to help them replace shortstop Rafael Furcal, who left for the Dodgers via free agency.

  87. I would rather try Betemit than go with Angel Berroa. I believe Betemit will be able to put up better numbers than Berroa, he could be a 20+ HR guy with a BA. of about .270 wouldn’t you want to experiment with Wilson just to see what he is capable of doing in the defensive end. Also can someone plz name some of the big sluggers that are “said” to be on the market such as Dunn etc.??

    N.B- wow World Baseball Classic looks like it’s going to be great can’t wait

  88. Cool page on Rafael Belliard, Mac. I think he’s one of the most intriguing players in Braves history. Not because he was good, but because he got so many at-bats. He actually hit .375 in the 1991 World Series against the Twinkies and slugged a Ruthian .438!!

    I wonder if anybody has a video of his famed homerun. Or the other one. Anyone?

  89. Aram, that trade sounds like a really good idea for all three teams. Something like that would hinge on the prospects. If Tampa doesn’t ask for too much, which they used to do under the old regime, I’m willing to bet that three-way happens.

  90. I agree with you JoeyT, the trade just makes too much sense for everyone involved. I think they’ll find a way to make it work.

  91. If I were to hypothetically root for Cuba in the WBC just to be contrarian and on the hopes that it would show you don’t need to have a bunch of overpaid whiny superstars on your team to play good baseball, would that make me a terrible person?

  92. Actually, now that I think about it, it doesn’t make that much sense. Why wouldn’t the Braves just trade Estrada for the prospects straight? You can never have too many pitching prospects, and I have yet to be convinced Lugo would be a significantly better option than Betemit next year.

    And, Jenny, rooting for Cuba makes you a communist. A dirty, dirty communist.

  93. u mean “contreras-ian”? :)

    If people stopped rooting for countries just because their government is a bully and the premier is a douchebag, america would have no support in the world..oh wait..

    oops no politics here!

  94. Kudos to JS if the Braves can get Lugo just by giving up Estrada. However, I still prefer the Braves to use Betemit as shortstop and use that $5M which Lugo will be earning on improving the other areas.

  95. I agree, kc. Bullpen and first base are much bigger concerns. Heck, I’d even put lefty starter above shortstop on the “need to address” list.

  96. The three-way trade may yet work, but no way the Braves only give up Estrada; they’d be sending a prospect to Tampa Bay too. Not Marte, though, that’s for sure.

  97. It will be a bad deal if the Braves are sending anyone to TB for Lugo. What is so good about Lugo? He just had one good season, which is pretty much what Estrada is. Besides, Estrada comes cheap and he was an all-star catcher. Don’t undervalue our own players while over-valuing other teams’ players.

    Joey, the sad thing is that the Braves see LaRoche as a “solution” at first base, which drives me crazy. Heck, I would like a better starting lefty option than Ramirez as well. The Braves will definitely not be bidding for Washburn, and the only other alternative seems to be Zito. While I would like to see Zito to be a Brave, the bad thing is that I don’t see him signing a long term deal like Hudson did last year. So, this means trading for Zito will probably be only an one year deal…and I don’t like that.

  98. Thank you Kyle S. and Jay for the link with the JS interview.

    KC I agree: Betemit should be given a chance before we trade for Lugo. However, it appears that the Braves simply do not believe that Betemit is the man.

    More important, if the recent interview is more than disinformation, it appears that the Braves are not seriously intersted in bolstering their starting pitching. In my opinion this is a mistake because there is no guarantee that HoRam, or Sosa will get it done next year and Smoltz’s ability to pitch 200 plus innings can not be assumed. At best, it may mean that James is not Meyer and they believe that he will succeed at the major league level.

    I think that they would only trade for Zito if they believe that there is strong chance of signing him. The took the risk with Drew (seemingly forgetting who his agent was)hoping that he would give them a hometown discount. It would be sad indeed if all the Braves get is the ability to rent someone like Zito.

    Finally, the interview with JS reveals the extent to which the Kolb trade affected the entire season. The Braves drafted Devine out of need (they have almost never drafted a reliever in the first 5 rounds), rushed him to the majors (his AA numbers were not even strong) and threw him into some tough situations before he was ready. The good news is that they do not believe that he is anywhere near to being a closer in 2006. I really hope that they let him spend enough time at Mississppi or Richmond to develop.

  99. Estrada for Lugo would be perfect. Lugo is not a great player, but he is a functional starting shortstop. I’m in the camp who doubts that Betemit can handle the starting SS position, but I’d like to see him get more playing time, and I have no doubt that he will. Still, we have no other in-house option at the position, so we’ve got to do something, and this fills a need without crippling us in another area.

  100. JC – have you tried looking for serial correlation of PrOPS errors compared with, say, stolen bases or even better, the “speed” rating for Tangotiger’s Fan Scouting Reports? I assume yes, but I’m not sure. If I remember right, Ichiro was another guy you thought wsa incredibly lucky. He did end up bouncing back a lot, though.

  101. In this article, he mentions he “refined the metric a bit to control for speed,” so I guess he’s looked at it.

  102. On PrOPS: In the first round that I did during the season I did eventually make a correction for speed using speed scores. However, when I made this round I based it off four seasons of numbers (instead of just one) and that seemed to take care of the speed problems all by itself. I could not find players who were consistently over/under preforming their OPS each year.

    On Estrada: Who’s going to play catcher when McCann gets hurt or struggles mightily? Any free agent who costs less money is also going to be much worse than Johnny. Arbitration salaries are more expensive than reserved salaries, but players still make much less than what they are worth. I want McCann and Salty to be a year further along before they deal Brian. I think the Braves would be wise to hold onto him.

  103. Brayan Pena backs up McCann. Seems reasonable to me. Estrada wouldn’t graciously accept a backup role anyway — I’m sure he views himself as starter material. His window is closing, he needs to play somewhere. A trade would be good for all concerned IMO. And I just don’t think the Braves are willing to put all their SS eggs in Betemit’s basket.

  104. If Bryan Pena has to start a significant amount of games, opposing teams will steal about 13 bases per game.

  105. I see what you mean JC. Estrada would still be a good backup for next season, but trade him now while he’s value is higher than say next season. I guess sometimes you just have to use who you have next on the depth chart.

  106. Stu, I understand your argument and I don’t think it’s that far off-base.

    Lidge wants to get ahead of Podsednik in the count so he wants to throw him a first pitch strike, thinking that even if Podsednik swings at the first pitch, he won’t hit it out.

    The problem was with the execution and poor scouting. Podsednik had double figure HRs for the Brew Crew in 2004 and someone should have told Lidge that Podsednik could hit the right pitch out.

  107. I think the fact that Estrada’s value is high also works in favor of keeping him. The Braves should highly value what he brings to the table. He’s a relatively capable catcher with a decent to good bat. At worst, he’s a good backup who will be cheaper than anything comparable on the market. At best, he outplays McCann and starts with McCann getting PH abs and catching every 4-5 days. Also, he’ll be working with major league pitchers. Imagine a scenario with McCann as the starter and Pena catching every fifth day. McCann blows out his ACL, and JS has to play Pena or go out and get a catcher. There is no way Pena can start every day. The problem is, the guy the Braves would want in that situation is Johnny Estrada, and a guy like that will be quite expensive at that time. Henry Blanco is going to make $1.5 mil this year, and he’s worse with the bat than most pitchers. If we had another capable backup on the roster, I wouldn’t mind. Starting pitching is where our strength lies in trading. We’ve got a ton of guys who can be moved.

  108. What about Marcus leading off? His career OBP is .366. He runs the bases well. Is it just because he doesn’t switch hit or is he too valuable wasting an at bat to bunt over the leadoff guy?

  109. JC I see your point and I agree that we should keep Johnny Estrada but apparently from what I’ve been reading (if you can believe all of the speculation that counts as ‘reporting’) the Braves are ready to put their faith in a 21 year old catcher with all of 59 games under his belt. I personally think that eventually McCann is going to be the best of the Baby Braves, Jeff Francouer not withstanding but wow what a leap of faith.

    I also don’t know if anyone read the Schuerholz interview that Talking Chop had. It seems like we are getting a dual message. We like Wilson Betemit alot he can start but we are looking to acquire Julio Lugo. We like Andy Marte and think he is going to be a cornerstone player but we have no plans to switch his position. Huh? Kind of like Kremlin watching isn’t it. Shoot the Kremlin has nothing over the Braves when it comes to keeping secrets.

    Last thing. If anyone read the article over at Fox by Dayne Perry grading the off season so far. He said that Furcal went for below market. Double HUH? WTF over???? 13 million freaking dollar per season is below market?????

  110. All this talk about keeping Estrada to protect our depth makes sense to me. The Braves have never been a team to throw kids out there unless they have to.

    On the same point, I don’t think Marte is already gone just because Chipper is blocking him. Chipper’s been pretty fragile the last few years, and if he has an unfortunate injury early in the season it’ll be great to bring up Marte. It’s not like he’s going to suffer for a little more time in AAA.

  111. It’s good of Dayn Rand to drop that bomb and run. Wouldn’t you want to justify that remark? You can’t just say that. And didn’t Perry write an article this year claiming a whole bunch of guys were overvalued? If the Dodgers got him cheap, why did 29 other teams choose to offer less? For a guy who occasionally writes for Reason (a libertarian magazine) he doesn’t seem to have much faith in markets.

    I’m a bit surprise Furcal got that much, but not because if his play on the field. His alcohol problems make him a huge risk. Next time, he’s going to spend more than a week in the county whites, and it won’t be during the offseason.

  112. JC, I understand exactly what you are saying. However, your worst case scenario can not possibly happen because Estrada believes he IS the starting catcher. Remember last season when Estrada refused to rest despite he was hurt? The guy will not possibly be happy to be a backup catcher.

    At the same time, I think the Braves have made the decision that McCann is ready now and they don’t want him spending time being Estrada’s backup. You are definitely correct that Estrada will probably earn the same amount of money as a backup catcher will likely cost, but Estrada will not be happy being a backup catcher. So, the solution is trading him away while he has good value as a trading chip to improve other areas of the club.

    If the Braves force Estrada to share time with McCann, I don’t think Estrada will be happy, and he will request being traded. If the end result will be the same, why not take action now to solve a potential problem?

    Also, JS and Bobby are not blind, they can not possibly be happy with Estrada last season. Ever since he got hurt, he has not been the same both offensively and defensively. The way Estrada was “blocking” the plate in the second half of last season, I believe his injury has so much mental impact that can become a long term problem.

  113. I disagree that we need to keep Estrada. As we’ve learned the past few years, when you’re trying to keep your team to a 80 million dollar payroll, hard choices have to be made. Catcher isn’t a position where keeping a valued trading chip just to have him as a backup catcher when you already have a solid option to start and a slightly below average option to backup doesn’t seem to make sense. I guess we could keep all three catchers and just have no SS.

  114. The way the Braves are handling Marte and Betemit can only mean that JS and Bobby are not completely sold on either one of them being completely ready. If Betemit has options left, I bet they would love to send Betemit down to Richmond again.

    I am sure the Braves also don’t want to over-rely themselves on first and second year players. As Francouer and McCann will sure be getting significant time next season, the only way Betemit will be starting is if the Braves get a Brian Giles / Dunn type of player at leftfield or first base so that the Braves do will need to rely on KJ/Lamgerhans/LaRoche at those positions.

    In addition, keeping Betemit as backup will prevent Marte from being yo-yo’ed between Richmond and Atlanta anytime Chipper gets hurt. Marte is only 22 years old, it’s not like he is another Ryan Howard who is 26 and can not possibly spend another pointless season in the minor.

  115. Estrada’s value will never be higher. Packaging him with Marte to get Chad Qualls or Brad Lidge seems more logical than keeping him and increasing clubhouse tension. Whatever JS decides to do, however, will likely be right. He seems to better informed than a few of us Braves zealots.

  116. But we DO have a short stop. Wilson Betemit cannot be that much of a drop off from Julio Lugo career line : .276 .340 .400

    We only have 2 catchers. I don’t count Pena. McCann is repeat 21 years old with count em 59 major league games under his belt.

    All of the psychoanalysis of Estrada is laughable. The guy is under the Braves control, he’ll play wherever he gets paid. The guy is a professional. All that being said if the Braves are made the old offer they can’t refuse then sure trade him. But straight up for one year of Julio Lugo aint an offer they can’t refuse.

    Alchohol problems aside. If I’m the Braves I certainly don’t pay Furcal as much as I’m paying Andruw or for that matter MORE than what I’m paying Chipper and John Smoltz for cripes sake. Dayn Perry is weird. Sometimes when I read him he sounds reasonable. But in the Fox article he pretty harshly criticizes the Braves for not offering enough money to Furcal. Gee Dayne dumbass do you really think that Rafael Furcal is worth more per year than Miguel Tejada?

  117. I don’t quite understand the fascination of Qualls…I know he is good, but he is not great like Lidge. I firmly believe Boyer will just be as good as Qualls next season.

    And why would the Astros want Marte when they have Morgan Ensberg at third base already?

  118. Ken Rosenthal “reports” that we are now talking to Bob Wickman…..why not just get Sutter resigned?

  119. Well, maybe the Astros would have the cojones to tell Marte that he’s moving to 1B. Just a theory.

    Qualls is a set-up guy. I don’t see him as a closer, but there have been a lot of slightly above average pitchers who have notched 30 saves in a season. Ligtenberg, anyone?

    Qualls does look steady and what he lacks in “blow them away”-ness, he seems to make up for in consistency.

    As for Betemit, when he was in the minors, I was one of the guys urging patience on Betemit when others were just trashing the guy. I don’t know if he’d be that much below Lugo. Last season’s performance would indicate that he wouldn’t.

    But some of you stat-intensive guys are now pushing him big-time. Rather than look at last year, shouldn’t we be looking at his MLEs for 2002, 2003, and 2004? I don’t know what they were, but my guess is he could be well below Lugo in 2006. It may be an aberration from his true value, but given what the Mets are doing, I don’t think we should be making decisions as to what looks good at the margins.

    I do think one of the Braves’ PD blunders (and there haven’t been many) was not leaving Wilson at SS until he absolutely, positively played himself off the position. He was more as blocked at 3B as he was at SS.

    I’m not panicking and I like Wilson, but I trust JS and BC more than either of those sentiments.

  120. 50lb, I agree that Betemit’s MLEs for 02-04 were not that great. OTOH, Lugo had the best season of his career last year too. I think JS will make the right decision, but I want to see Marte succeed on our team just because I’ve been following him so long so I don’t want him to be traded.

  121. Johnny Estrada is a good catcher, but you have to deal from a position of strength. We can’t hold onto everyone valuable and trade only scrubs. We cannot fill all of the holes with only Andy Marte and B prospects. You have to give up something good to get something. Catcher is a position of strenght and depth for the Braves. Estrada has to go.

    I like Buster Olney’s point about the “Oh Sh(oo)t” factor for a closer. As in, “Oh Sh(oo)t, Rivera is coming into the game, we’re screwed.” I think it’s legitimate. There are very few closers that have the “Oh Sh(oo)t” factor. I don’t see it in Chad Qualls.

  122. I should have made it clear, I am not in favor of “hocking a Loogy” from the D-Rays. He may be better than Betemit in 2006, but that would have more to do with Wilson not playing well than Lugo playing well. I don’t view Lugo as the answer to the question.

    Get a big bat for LF and bring up Luis Hernandez. (I’m only half kidding.)

  123. Kyle, the other thing is that they should quit pussy-footing around with Marte. Throw the guy the claw and have him start playing 1B.

  124. What’s wrong with keeping Estrada around until the trading deadline next season just to make sure that McCann is ready. We know what we’ll get from Estrada, he’s generally a quick starter who tends to fade over the season (at least seems to, I haven’t looked at the stats plus that’s just catchers in general). I doubt his value will drop that much before the beginning of July. I say we start Betimit at short, platoon Estrada and Mcann and spend some money on a big bat or good closer. We can fix any pressing needs at the trade deadline. It makes sense to me, but maybe I’m not enough of a risk-taker.

  125. Trading Estrada to the Angels seems like poetic justice, since Erstad’s the one who broke Johnny in the first place. That will be one awkward scenario if it comes true…

  126. I think I would be more comfortable trying an internal solution rather than trying Qualls. To this point he has done nothing spectacular. To me, he’s not worth Marte, or Estrada. If were are going to trade either of them, I would rather it be for an impact player of some sort. Someone who we know can close (i.e. Baeyz) and a shortstop or leadoff hitter(i.e. Lugo, Crawford or Gaithright.)

    I agree we shouldnt panic and make a deal we will regret, BUT, thats never been JS’s style. Marte is blocked and Estrada is serviceable. To me, that doesnt make either untouchable, or someone we should hold on to

  127. 50PoundHead, you’re right. If Marete figures in the Braves immediate future, he has to play somewhere other than third. Knowing nothing whatsoever about physical coordination, I see the transition to first as easier than to left field. Play him or trade him, I’m willing to let JS choose.

  128. What’s wrong with keeping Estrada around until the trading deadline next season

    Why would you want to keep him around while his value is high? Sure, he could pull out monster numbers as the platoon starter/backup, but he might also go Raffy from last year on us and just stink up the place.

    Why take the risk? You have tons of young catchers in the system and you forget people: We’re talking about the BACKUP position, not the starter. Who was our backup going into last season? The now defunct, Eddie Perez. So I don’t want to hear anymore about this.

    Estrada = gone

    He had a great year for us, and hopefully we can get some great talent for him on his way out. McCann is going to be fine.

  129. Knowing nothing whatsoever about physical coordination, I see the transition to first as easier than to left field.

    First off, it has nothing to do with coordination. If these people weren’t coordinated, they wouldn’t be playing baseball, which is focused greatly on coordination. Secondly, there’s no such thing as an easy transition, it depends completely on the player. First base isn’t where you just put someone who can’t field grounders like you do in Little League: You need someone who can field the position (i.e. the proposed and failed transition of Mike Piazza from catcher to 1st base).

    That being said, he needs to switch positions, and no better time to learn than fall league or winter league. Tell Marte to wear in that first baseman’s mitt.

  130. Why take the risk? You have tons of young catchers in the system and you forget people: We’re talking about the BACKUP position, not the starter. Who was our backup going into last season? The now defunct, Eddie Perez. So I don’t want to hear anymore about this.

    Our backup last year worked out real well didn’t he. He couldn’t even win the sausage race yet the Braves had to pay him $700K.

    Let’s cut the patronizing tone there, chief. It’s not necessary.

  131. I think Estrada is the more valueble of the two catchers. When healthy, he is one of the best in the NL. Why are we so gung-go on hitching our wagon to a kid who was hot for half of a season? He hasn’t prooven anything.

  132. Estrada has very limited power, even from his stronger LH hitting side, he doesn’t even possess gap power, and he’s got to be pushing that Molina cat for slowest baserunner in the bigs. He is below average defensively, and his one redeeming quality, two strike hitting, left him last year. Plus he has that strange facial hair thing, and if you add all that up, there is not much to like about him. Trade him and sign some other no hit catcher.

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