Other outfield possibilities

Two other outfielders are on the 40-man, these being Gregor Blanco and Jordan Schafer, both of whom had 2009 seasons they would rather forget. Blanco, who spent all of 2008 with the Braves, wound up spending most of 2009 in the suburbs, and did not hit either there or in his major league action. You’re all familiar with Blanco, a player who has identifiable strengths, mostly his walk rate and ability to work pitchers, plus some speed, but whose complete lack of power and high strikeout rates keep him from being a really valuable player.

Schafer, meanwhile, started off the season with a homer, but after that did not play well, and it turned out he was hiding a wrist injury. He is expected to be full strength, but in the interim the Braves traded for Nate McLouth to fill his spot. It is not clear to me that the best alignment for the team would not be Schafer in center and McLouth in a corner, but from all I can tell Schafer is expected to play in AAA. All indications remain that he will be a quality major leaguer in time, and he is still only 23.

Two outfielders have received non-roster invites to spring training. The more interesting is Mitch Jones, who had been putting up gaudy numbers in the PCL for the last several years when he got a callup to the Dodgers last year, where he hit .308 with a .400 OBP. Those PCL numbers have a lot of helium in them, but it’s worth giving him a shot. Brent Clevlen comes from the Tigers organization, where he’s spent parts of the last three seasons not hitting in the majors but being okay in AAA. He looks like pure fodder to me.

The Crab Man, Brian Barton, spent a brief period on the Braves’ roster but all he did was get into one game as a pinch runner, in which he was caught stealing. He put up fifth outfielder type numbers in Gwinnett, but the Braves only carry four outfielders. He’s fun to have around, but there’s no future there. Also on the Gwinnett roster is Matt Young, the Pocket Schafer, a 5-8 centerfielder who has hit .286 with a .392 OBP in his minor league career, albeit without much power. Last year he hit .284/.414/.403 in AA and AAA, and he probably deserves a shot.

Realistically, the Braves’ other outfielders are Hinske and Infante. It’s probably not a good sign if either or both play a lot, but it’s possible that they’re actually the best corner options.

Gregor Blanco Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Jordan Schafer Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Mitch Jones Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Brent Clevlen Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Brian Barton Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com.

Matt Young Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com.

172 thoughts on “Other outfield possibilities”

  1. ‘Matt Young, the Pocket Schafer’ funny.
    Should his nickname be Graf Spee?
    As a 5-7 Asian guy, I’m pulling for Matt to make it. But he won’t.

    I am betting I am the only one that does not want the team to sign Johnny Damon. Damon can’t play right field.

  2. if i were matt young, it’d be hard not to be disgruntled if the braves didnt give me a shot at making the team this year. did he even get an invite to spring?

    if we end up signing damon (which is probably not going to happen, but one can dream), the gwinnett outfield could be ridiculous with schafer, heyward, and mitch jones/clevelen. either way, there’s going to be a major traffic jam in the gwinnett outfield. where do you put everyone?

  3. Just as an exercise, where do we play Damon if he is signed?

    Can’t say I blame the Braves too much on how they have handled Young. Promoted, regressed, promoted, regressed. Plus lets face it the Braves value athleticism a lot. I think more than they do minor league stats.

  4. Damon would play LF and RF would be a Diaz/Melky platoon. Wouldn’t be a very good defensive group, but it would probably produce pretty well with the bat.

  5. I’d think I’d be quite happy with an outfield of LF – Damon, CF – McLouth, RF – Diaz/Melky.

  6. I hope the Braves give Jones a shot. Yeah, he might just be a PCL Phantom, but the upside is intriguing. And if he’s used as a 4th OFer, the eventual .236/.310/.350 line won’t kill us before we can dump him back to Gwinnett.

    I think the Braves will open the season with Heyward, McLouth, Diaz, and Melky however. With Hinske and Infante available as emergency 5th OFers/super-utility guys.

  7. I’ve long thought that Schafer in center and McLouth in a corner is the way to go, especially with McLouth’s oft-discussed overrated defense. That could also enable them not to start Heyward’s clock too early.

  8. Assuming 13 position players, what is your guess as to the Opening Day roster?

    I’d say:

    IF – Jones, Glaus, Prado, Yunel
    OF – Heyward, McLouth, Diaz, Melky
    C – McCann, Ross
    PH/Util – Thurston, Infante, Hinske

    That just looks like a Bobby Cox roster to me.

  9. elaborating my #2 post:

    regular outfielders who have played AAA that are in the braves system:
    Gregor Blanco
    Jordan Schafer
    Matt Young
    Mitch Jones
    Brent Clevelen
    Jason Heyward

    Other AAA possibilities:
    Cody Johnson
    Willie Cabrera

    Mitch Jones might be seeing more time at first, however that also creates a logjam with Canizares serving as the regular 1st baseman and Wes Timmons as the utility infielder. Even if one of the above 6 make the opening day roster, there is not enough playing time for all these potential major leaguers. it will be interesting nonetheless. it seems like a trade/release has to be coming soon. centerfield, alone, has 3 guys that should be getting regular playing time.

  10. anon – our best OF would really be McLouth-LF, Schafer-CF, Heyward-RF, but there is no way that happens at least until Sept when the rosters expand. Schafer has to prove he’s healthy and producing again

  11. Timo – you really think we’ll carry a 5th OF instead of Infante?

    //not snarky, just curious

  12. I’m curious if every team (or at least most of them) have a Rodney Dangerfield like Matt Diaz that gets ‘no respect.’ I think people around here have come around to Matt a bit, but he’s still seems to be considered a 3.5th outfielder by many… and his OPS+ in ’09 of 133 is in the neighborhood of Hideki Matsui & Jason Bay, or above Jason Werth, Josh Willingham, Aramis Ramirez, Raul Ibanez. Are there guys on other teams who still get a fair bit of platoon assumption though they’ve been better than that?

  13. It’s especially tough when we’re the better team. I was a little worried when Jenkins was announced as a scratch, but it became clear pretty quickly that we were going to take care of business.

    Gotta avoid the LSU trap and get ready for a tough, big week.

  14. I would be upset if we traded Diaz to make room for Damon. It seems Melky has more appeal to other teams anyway, so maybe they turn around and deal him.

  15. Bowman tweets that sources say we offered Damon 1 year with deferred funds… for what that’s worth.

  16. I’m with you Rob, I’ll be cheesed off if Matty D gets the heave-ho in favor of 1yr of Damon (though I would be quite happy with Damon replacing Melky as I don’t see him fitting us long term).

  17. If you add Damon and you don’t make a trade immediately, you’d have to when you’re ready to call up Heyward, right? I mean, unless someone is on the DL or they’re willing to carry one less pitcher.

  18. If Damon then
    Damon McLouth Diaz Cabrera 4th of, Heyward starts in Gwinnett. Its a mistake if we do that.

  19. Heyward will only be on the Major League 25 man roster to PLAY (not to sit). He won’t be added to 40 man until they are ready to add him to the 25 man (no reason to for this year and next year).

    A signing of Damon does make either Diaz or Melky or maybe even McLouth (Melky can cover center fairly well) expendable. With everybody else being lefthanded (McLouth, Heyward, Schafer, Hinske, Blanco, Matt Young) Diaz shouldn’t be moved. Don’t be shocked if it is McLouth (although I don’t know of anybody that is looking for a centerfielder).

  20. Damon? He’s 35. Can’t run anymore. Never could throw. He only hit 20 homers because he batted left in Yankee Stadium.

    This is insane. Who’s making these decisions – some schoolgirl who thinks Damon’s cute and Melky has a cool name? Oy.

    The disparity between how Vandy plays at home and on the road is amazing. That was one of the best teams in the country last night. Four days ago, they looked terrible against UGA.

    I predict UK and Vandy end up tied for the East.

  21. .288/.355/.439/.794 – Damon career
    .310/.358/.459/.817 – Diaz career

    I guess its been gone over, but couldn’t you expect a .794 OPS from Heyward? With better defense? Leave Diaz in LF where he hurts the team the least? You have to figure in the contract implications for Heyward but what if it IS about putting the best team on the field?

  22. Damon has turned in better than career numbers in 5 of the last 6 seasons. His road OPS+ last year was roughly 110. His platoon split was His line against RHP last season was .288/.380/.509/.889. He is also an emergency 1B/CF. Either as a platoon partner with Diaz, and Heyward as the starter, or as a starter with Melky as the 4th OF, this is a very useful player for Atlanta, should he sign here.

  23. I’m not giddy about possibly getting Damon, but I don’t see how people are real upset about it. Damon will have more to give than Anderson did last year and he can provide a stopgap until Heyward is ready. I’ve been on the fence about Heyward starting the year in Atlanta, but if we can get decent production from Damon in left and use Melky and Diaz for RF (with Diaz also playing some left), I say go for it.

    I think the rewards of giving Heyward a few more months to develop are much greater than the risks. The only thing that would upset me about this scenario would be if we moved Diaz. I agree with Cliff in that this is highly unlikely.

  24. FWIW: DOB tweets the offer was at least $5M but with some of that deferred.

    I think from a money standpoint long term it makes sense to sign Damon at that rate, keep Heyward in Gwinnett till it saves you Super 2, and when the time comes, be ready to trade Melky (or Damon, Diaz, McLouth) to somebody.

  25. We’re bidding against ourselves I think. IMHO Damon only complicates the outfield mix because he is a substandard defender. It forces the team to play Diaz in right field.

    If this acquisition led to the trade of Diaz or McLouth then Wren has been sniffing too much glue lately.

    BTW Tom Verducci on cnnsi has a very good article on why there are a lot of 36 + year olds still unsigned.

    deferred or not. 5 million? why not wait a couple of weeks longer when it becomes 1 or 2 million.

  26. I think the only reason, if we want him, is that the Tigers seem to be in on it so there is SOME chance he won’t go down that low:

    @jonmorosi: #Tigers could use another infielder but are devoted to the pursuit of Damon, first and foremost, a source says. #MLB #Braves #Yankees

  27. The disparity between how Vandy plays at home and on the road is amazing. That was one of the best teams in the country last night. Four days ago, they looked terrible against UGA.

    We’re 3-2 on the road in conference play. We had a bad game against UGA, but come on. We’re plenty good everywhere this year.

  28. the only reason that the Braves are looking at Damon is to guarantee themselves of an extra yr of Heyward later down the line. Controlling his services and keeping him in AAA until at least June seems like the best option. We worry about who gets traded when Heyward shows he’s ready. Adding Damon doesnt hurt this team

  29. I respectfully disagree.
    1. It weakens the defense. Diaz is not a right fielder and neither is Damon.
    2. 5 million is 5 million deferred or not its money that could be used to say, lock up Jason Heyward to a long term contract.
    3. Damon’s power numbers are a mirage of Yankee stadium’s ridculous right field dimensions. At the Ted he’s a singles and doubles guy. In other words he is a lefty Matt Diaz who walks more.
    4. The Braves think Heyward is ready. If the team is better with him in right field than with him in Gwinnet you have to play him. Its about putting the best team on the field.

    All that being said. If Damon signs with the Braves and I think it will come down to that since Scott Boras is a lying MF about ‘other interested parties’ then the team will almost undoubtedly delay Heywards’ service time clock.

  30. If Damon was to sign with us, he’d be a great boost to this team. We’d have a true leadoff hitter and can move McClouth futher down in the lineup where he belongs and can drive in runs. This is not a bad thing – we do not have a leadoff hitter.

    And yes, we can then wait to bring up Heyward in June.

  31. If Damon is signed, you can start the season with

    LF: Damon
    CF: McClouth
    RF: Melky

    Diaz can spell the corners, and then Heyward can be worked in when he gets called up in June if the Braves are hanging around the chase, which they should be with their pitching. I agree Heyward won’t be up to sit, but they’ll work him in with favorable matchups. If Heyward comes up and looks comfortable, it gives them some flexibility to move Melky or Diaz for some relief help in July.

    Ofcourse there are many big “if’s” at this time, as in whether Damon even signs and if Heyward tears it apart this spring. Should be interesting to see. At the very least these scenarios look a lot better than this time last year.

  32. @42 –

    1. He was middle of the pack last season, arm and all, according to UZR.
    2. 5M for a productive player is very cheap. if that amount is what stands between the Braves and some player they covet, shame on them.
    3. Overstating the case. Damon had roughly a 110 road OPS+. Also, this – http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/ben_reiter/01/25/reiter.damon/index.html “Damon’s detractors argue that his ’09 power surge was a creation of the new Yankee Stadium, with its short right field porch that seemed custom-built for his compact left-handed swing, and where Damon hit 17 of his home runs. Yet according to data from hittrackeronline.com, nine of those 17 would have been home runs in at least 27 of the 30 major league parks. Meanwhile, only four of them would have failed to get out in fewer than 11 stadiums.”
    4. Damon and Heyward are not mutually exclusive. A Diaz/damon platoon would be very very powerful, and the team would finally have a real late inning PH threat outside of Ross.

  33. I remain highly skeptical of Jordan Schafer and am convinced he will never be even as “good” (ha ha) as Francouer was. It would be great to be wrong, but I want it on record that I said he would never amount to much in case I am right. I honestly cannot ever recall a player accomplish as little as him and be as overpraised as he has been by both the fans and the organization as a whole.

  34. #48 – oh I have….I remember getting hammered on here for talking about Andy Marte. He is far and away ahead of Schafer in the player who never accomplished anything but was highly praised on here. His swing was too long and just could never adjust, you could see his problems from day 1

  35. Stu – right, I had forgotten about that. The comment from the associated post on PW’s blog about the weather and other conditions not being taken into account should weigh heavily in trying to make too much out of this sort of comparison, not to mention the quality of pitcher faced. I stand by my general point that saying Damon is a Yankees Field creation is seriously overstating the case.

  36. @47 – Intelligent discourse. Why I like this place so much.
    1. Its not so much Damon’s defense. It’s Diaz’. Acquiring Damon moves Diaz to RF.
    2. 5M is a lot of money for a team whose big financial splash this off season was 4 million for Troy Glaus. So I guess shame on them.
    3. Ok but the bottom line is that Damon was a much better hitter at home than away. Turner field won’t offer him that hitters park advantage.
    4. I guess here we beg to differ. Why do you pay 5 million for a platoon outfielder? And playing Heyward selectively just doesn’t make sense given the service time implications.

  37. I’m not the biggest Damon fan, but at $5 million, he helps this club.

    An OF of Damon, McLouth, Melky/Diaz would be very productive offensively, and not as bad defensively as some believe. All the while, Heyward and Schaffer get much-needed AAA ABs.

    I don’t see a downside here.

  38. #48 – remember that the Braves are a scout first organization. If Schafer LOOKS good putting up pedestrian numbers outside of his good single A season then he is still a prospect.

    CSG – you called it on Marte? The darling of the internet? Well the Braves did too. Marte was considered the more polished player when they called up Francouer ahead of him. Of course the team needed an outfielder and not a 3b.

  39. Andy Marte and Bruce Chen are reasons 1 and 1A why I don’t get too caught up in prospect hype, anymore.

    Personally, I think Jordan’s upside is something very similar to Nate McLouth. Tweener with middling power, but good enough to be a borderline allstar in his best year.

  40. Damon could be a moot point. According to DOB Boras still wants 2 years.

    #54 so you are saying that giving Melky the lions share of the PA’s in a platoon with Diaz would be very productive?

  41. I just think for a team like the Braves, protecting a #1 prospect for an extra yr, IMO should be top priority. No point in going to camp with two platoon players holding down the OF corners and hoping that Heyward is ready. If we go to camp and Heyward shows he can be productive and is ready then someone can always be moved. Johnny has solid career numbers at Turner field and has hit very well against Halladay and Hamels. He’s got experience and lets McLouth drop in the order. For $5mil, even a two yr deal, seems like he’d be a nice addition. Seems like he’d be a guy who could always be a nice trade piece around the deadline also

  42. spike, I don’t disagree with you. Was just trying to add something to the discourse, and PW had tweeted that chart just this afternoon, so I thought it was timely.

  43. Putting the best team on the field to win games should be the top priority.

    So a 36 year old outfielder at 2 years 10 million is a good deal? The offer was 5M for one year salary deferred. How many years should the team pay for Johnny Damon?

  44. I would argue that this years splash was signing Hudson. And virtually every batter hits better at home, so any success is not necessarily attributable to Yankee Stadium, which had a 96/97 PF – worse than Turner – last year (oddly, Diaz hit better on the road last year. Weird).

    5M for a partner in a sub 10M platoon that does .412/.464/.640/ 1.103 and .288/.380/.509/.889 for a combined OPS+ of better than 140? Sign me the eff up. Heyward as your starting RF in that alignment makes perfect sense.

    Stu, FWIW I didn’t take it as disagreement, just a data point to be considered.

  45. going back to that thread look at the day before and the day after also

    12/06 – Kolb gone
    12/07 – Marte/Renteria trade
    12/08 – Julio to the Mets

    I miss Braves baseball news….

  46. I remain highly skeptical of Jordan Schafer and am convinced he will never be even as “good” (ha ha) as Francouer was. It would be great to be wrong, but I want it on record that I said he would never amount to much in case I am right. I honestly cannot ever recall a player accomplish as little as him and be as overpraised as he has been by both the fans and the organization as a whole.

    Yup. The ‘our best lineup is with Schafer in center’ stuff is wishcasting at it’s finest. Wrist problems are problematic for hitters to begin with, add in his already problematic contact rates…I don’t want him any where near centerfield job.

  47. Don’t you guys think that the potential signing of Damon is only to keep Heyward in Gwinnett away from Super 2 status?

    Damon, Diaz, and Melky would likely share the corners and Bobby would play platoon/matchups.

    Damon would also probably become our most usual leadoff hitter and would shift McLouth down into the middle of the order.

  48. Don’t you guys think that the potential signing of Damon is only to keep Heyward in Gwinnett away from Super 2 status?

    Not really. Melky, McLouth, Diaz/Hinske would be fine for two months.

  49. Stu, when it comes to remembering comments that people have made on this blog, you have a better memory than anyone I know.

    If I ever get sued by someone over something I allegedly posted here, I’m totally retaining you as counsel.

  50. Also, Michael Vick, on his tenure with the Falcons:

    “There was a lot more I could have done off the field and in the film room that could have elevated my game to a different level,” Vick said. “I was complacent at the time, somewhat lazy, and I settled for mediocrity. I thought what I was doing was enough.”

    Thanks for $100 million worth of memories, buddy!

  51. I have a good memory, and it’s just a sign I spend too much time here. And I am invested in this place.

    As for Smitty’s comment, I didn’t actually remember it. I was just reading through that thread for another, non-sinister purpose, and I stubled across that gem.

  52. Scott Boras burned the Braves with Derek Lowe and he’s about to do the same with Johnny Damon. Talk about ruining an off season, what the hell are the Braves thinking????

  53. #72 – I dont know. They may be thinking that controlling Heyward’s services an extra yr while adding a good leadoff hitter to the team may be in their best interest.

  54. The Braves need power, defense and speed. Damon offers none of these quality’s. Sure, he can hit but a bunch of doubles and singles won’t make up for the rest.

    When it comes to versatility and defense, McLouth and Cabrera have it covered in RF,CF and LF. Even Matt Diaz can play both corners. Damon is barely serviceable in LF and Heyward will get stuck in the minors unless somebody gets traded, which would defeat the whole purpose of strengthening the outfield.

    My verdict is…… this smacks of the same stupidity we saw last season with Furcal and Peavy. The baseball God’s smiled on us then, they are laughing at us now.

    Frank Wren just can’t stop himself from self destructing and Bobby Cox is his own worst enemy.

  55. When it comes to versatility and defense, McLouth and Cabrera have it covered in RF,CF and LF. Even Matt Diaz can play both corners. Damon is barely serviceable in LF and Heyward will get stuck in the minors unless somebody gets traded, which would defeat the whole purpose of strengthening the outfield.

    too easy.

  56. so Coach and anyone else, do you really think that going into the season with Diaz-LF, McLouth-CF, Melky-RF is going to be productive enough? I ask because there is a very good chance that Heyward wont be ready. I hope that he is, but you cant plan it that way. I dont see Heyward ever getting “STUCK” in the minors either. They would trade any of the current guys if they had to in order too make room for him

  57. @75 Coach said:

    “Frank Wren just can’t stop himself from self-destructing and Bobby Cox is his own worst enemy.”

    Hemingway would have been proud of how much truth is in this simple, declarative sentence.

    Well done, sir.

  58. Pretty sure that’s not Hemingway, AAR. But let’s hope his fourth of the Earth encompasses the NL East.

  59. 67 — I get the impression that the Braves would rather have Hinske spelling Chipper/Glaus than in an outfield corner.

    At least the Braves are giving themselves more options if Diaz has a bad BABIP year, if Melky sucks, or if Heyward isn’t quite ready.

  60. Coach and I are on the same page? Well I’ll be damned.

    @78 Yeah, the Braves are rolling the dice that Heyward is ready. They think he is. And they must be damned confident because until now there was no plan b.

    Of course this is the same bunch that thought Anderson Schafer Francouer would be enough too. So it really comes down to the money. The Braves don’t have enough. Not even 5 million, shame on them.

    Ok 2 mil now 2 mil deferred? No way he signs for that but if he does then its a good deal.

    I still stand by the statement that if Heyward is ready he should play. Its in the best interests of the franchise to put the best players on the field.

  61. “Its in the best interests of the franchise to put the best players on the field”

    totally agree, however, I just dont know how much stock can be put into ST numbers and hitters always seem to be ready sooner. However, with all that Ive said about Heyward being ready or not, BMac made the transition and I guess Heyward can also. More than anything Id love to see this lineup


    but theyll give Diaz every opportunity Id think

  62. I am just getting up and seeing the latest (and more credible) Damon story…..I would be a lot happier with it if I did not think that Damon might be a defensive liability….

  63. Johnny–I have no objection to picking up another outfielder; in fact, I think that the Braves should have found a way to trade for one. After all, we have a surpluss of pitching prospects in the upper minors and no matter how well the perform, the vast majority will not find a home in Atlanta. They might have been packaged to bring us the kind of player who enable us to bring Heyward along as we did Hanson.

    Corrct me if I am wrong, but I think that Damon will cost us a draft pick as well….

  64. Sorry Stephen. Meant that for csg @ 84.

    Its the money of course. That is why the Braves held out so long on even attempting to acquire an outfielder. Its why they were willing to roll some pretty big dice on their prized prospect.
    Given the teams resources (money) and what they could reasonably expect from Jayson Heyward they were correct. That Damon’s price has fallen so far gives them an opportunity to hedge their bets.

  65. I havent come full circle, I want Heyward to be ready. Just think in the long run its in the Braves interest to let him hang out in AAA until June.

  66. #89–Thanks for the correction….I am still concerned about his ability to play LF….

  67. Ok you and I (and everyone else except Coach, sigh)fundamentally disagree. The best players means the best players to me. Period.

  68. Count me as one who is unconvinced Heyward would be among our best three outfielders to start the year. I would much rather have Damon, McLouth, Diaz, and Melky playing while Heyward gets two months in Gwinnett. I think it’s the smart monetary AND baseball decision. If Heyward is ready in June, call him up and deal Melky for relief help.

    All to say: signing Damon effectively saves a season of Heyward while taking at bats away from Melky Cabrera. That seems like a win-win to me.

  69. One cool thing about plus/minus is the conversion to “runs saved.” If Damon is now one of the worst LF playing, then he would probably be about -10 runs saved. Melky, the one year he played regularly in left, was +14 runs saved (in just 116 games). So, that’s a 20-25 run difference in fielding. What’s the offensive difference? Just to pick a 2010 projection, Bill James says 62 RC for Melky, 86 for Damon. Interesting.

  70. Damon should be able to put up significantly better numbers than Anderson, but I would be surprised if it is anything approaching his 2009 numbers. I just hope that he is no worse than Anderson in the LF.

    And, yes, I think Heyward can use a 200 ABs at AAA….

  71. I already have pitcher writeups to roll out starting Friday. I hope they settle this thing before then or the sequence will be all messed up. I give and give, and do the Braves ever think about me?

  72. Actually, that is an interesting question: who or how many in the Braves’ organization visit Braves Journal?

  73. Its in the best interests of the franchise to put the best players on the field

    I disagree with this, regardless of whether Heyward would be one of our three best outfielders this year. It is in the best interests of the team to win, and every on-the-field and off-the-field decision has to be made with this in mind. If keeping the best players off the field will help the team win, then that’s exactly what the team should do. There are several exceptions to this statement that I can think of.

    *If there’s a severe platoon split against a pitcher your team is facing, or your team is starting an extreme groundball or extreme flyball pitcher, you should load your lineup with players to take care of the specific matchups, not just the best players on your team.

    *Pitchers need rest, so you don’t put your best players on the field every night in a row — you have to rest their arms.

    *If someone’s got a nagging injury that will heal with rest (like Chipper often does), the team is best served to bench him. In the short-term, the offense may suffer slightly, but in the long term the team is best served to have him healthy.

    *If a team has clinched a playoff spot, it may be in their best interests to play their September call-ups in place of the regulars, even though the regulars may be the best players on the team, so that the prospects will get major league experience and better develop.

    *If playing a guy now will cost you tens of millions of dollars in arbitration down the road, the team is best served to keep him on the farm for a few months.

    Of course, if we manage to ink Heyward to a Godfather deal, like Longoria, this is all moot.

  74. I’m not convinced that Heyward would be any better than average – which is about what you can expect from Damon – if he played the entire season at the major league level. I think half a season in AAA will serve him well. If he does what we all expect him to, there will be room for him in Atlanta.

    For 2010, Heyward is likely to be the equal of Damon. If he plays in AAA for a couple of months, the rest of his 2010 is likely to be better than if he’s in the majors all year. And it gives the Braves an extra low-cost year of in-his-prime Heyward. I don’t see a problem here.

    I’m not a big Damon fan, BTW. (Nor a Melky fan.) But a one-year deal for Damon doesn’t do any more to hamstring the team than Anderson’s contract did.

  75. Didn’t the Rays keep Longoria down for all or part of a season before they offered him that deal? They may still have managed his situation in such a way to give them some bargaining power.

  76. 76-Stu, I caught that little diatribe of yours.

    Let me tell you a story about a man named Kimera Bartee……

    On July 13th 2001 he was traded for a little man named Chone Figgins. Now this unheralded 5-9 4th round draft pick of a speedster had labored in obscurity for the better part of five years in the Rockies system, and was going nowhere fast.

    Along came the Angels and Mike Scioscia to the rescue. Given the chance to be the Halo’s lead off hitter full time at the rather advanced age of 26, Figgins finally got the chance to use his legs and versatility, and for seven years he led the Angels while winning the WS with them in 2002.

    Fast forward to 2009. Figgins hit the free agent market and cashed in to the tune of four years and 36 million. He’s a Mariner now and has established himself as a proven lead off hitter. I wish him the best of luck in Seattle.

    What’s the moral of this little tale you ask? Well, Luis Durango is 5-9, gets on base, hits like crazy, runs like the damn wind and switch hits, just like Chone Figgins and like the afformentioned millionaire, nobody but me thinks that Durango is worth his weight in stolen bases.

  77. Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
    A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
    Then one day he was shootin at some food,
    And up through the ground came a bubblin’ crude.

    Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.

    Well the first thing you know ol’ Jed’s a millionaire,
    Kinfolk said Jed move away from there
    Said Californy is the place you ought to be
    So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

    Hills, that is.
    Swimmin pools, movie stars.

    moral of this story: shoot at stuff until you find oil.

  78. ‘Its in the best interests of the franchise to put the best players on the field’

    ‘I disagree with this, regardless of whether Heyward would be one of our three best outfielders this year. It is in the best interests of the team to win, and every on-the-field and off-the-field decision has to be made with this in mind.’

    Alex what I meant is that the Braves have to go north with its best 25. The object of any sports franchise should be to win. You win by playing your best players regardless of their potential super two status.

    Understand that I know that this doesn’t always apply but it does apply to the 2010 Braves. This team has been built with expecations to contend and win this year.

    It seems from the evidence that the Braves agree with me. The team spent its dollars on Hudson, Glaus and Hinske. To do that they had to shed Javier Vazquez. They obviously thought it was better to acquire Glaus to fill the 1b hole and bet that Heyward was ready than spend money on any of the available FA outfielders or trade for an expensive veteran. Yes I understand that these decisions were driven by avalaible money or lack thereof. But given those circumstances the Braves think its better to play Jayson Heyward now if he proves to be ready this spring. And given the current roster projection I agree with that.

  79. @104 –

    But nobody bought the young man’s artwork that cold Saturday morning in Vienna. He’d already been turned down by the Fine Arts Academy twice. Cold, defeated, his feet soaked from the snow, he decided then and there to leave painting and go into politics. And that little boy grew up to be…

    Adolf Hitler.

    And now you know the rest of the story

  80. Coach, I thought you were telling us a story about Kimera Bartee? Sounded more like a Chone Figgins story

  81. And we have a Jed Clampett reference from a red neck blogger, fantastic. I always did like granny and her shotgun :)

    Johnny, here is another recent baseball tale about the supposed object of winning….

    The 2009 Braves went north with the back of their rotation nailed down by Jo-Jo Reyes and Kris Medlen, who in nine combined starts went 1-4 with an ERA of 6.71.

    Meanwhile Tommy Hanson was lighting up the international league to the tune of an ERA of 1.49 in eleven starts.

    The moral of this story is: screw winning, save Hanson from cashing in for one more season. Money comes first. Meanwhile the team missed the playoffs by a mere six games.

    Winning indeed!

  82. Ya’ll take a gander at some of my kin folk , ya hear!

    That’s right Ububba, takes one to know one, yes sir.

  83. Coach,

    You think bringing Hanson up early would have net us 7 wins last year? And you compare this to how he handled the International League? Please explain where he would have fit in, what starts he would have replaced, and how he would have done better. Because what I remember from early in the year, we couldn’t hit for sh!t.

  84. clarke, I’m not the one making excuses. YOU ARE. Winning and making the playoffs is just something the Braves are not committed to doing just yet, not as long as Bobby Cox is running the show.

    And there is the real reason why they missed the playoffs last year….Bobby Cox.

  85. Coach,
    What the hell are you talking about? I haven’t made an excuse for anything- I hardly ever comment on here. Saying we couldnt hit for shit at the beginning of the year is an observation not an excuse. I am just tired of your awful posts. I’ve been visiting this site for over 7 years- you are one of the most worst posters we have ever had.

  86. Serious question:

    Why are/were we not interested in Jermaine Dye or Russell Branyan?

    At the end of the year, we needed a power-hitting RF for a year or two and a power-hitting (preferably right-handed) 1B.

    I believe both are still available. Are they both useless – even for one year?

  87. Heyward on ST: “All I have to do is put my pants on, my cleats on, my jersey on, and just go out there and have fun, and everything else will take care of itself.”

    Even if he’s unlikely to break 100 OPS+ this year, at least we know he thoroughly understands the…importance of dressing himself…

    God, I love athlete quotes.

  88. It’s easy to say in hindsight we should’ve started out with Hanson as the #5. But he hadn’t pitched above AA yet. Many of you may recall that Medlen’s AAA ERA was even lower than Tommy’s when Medlen was called up.

    Point being, I don’t remember too many around here clamoring for Tommy right out the gate back in April. Hindsight is 20/20, etc.

  89. Medlen did not come North with the team unless you mean Gwinnett. He outpitched Hanson at AAA and got called up a little earlier.

  90. hankonly – its easy on Dye

    He’s the worst defensive OF in the majors. Take a look at his uzr ratings the last 4 seasons


    No matter how good he could possibly be offensively, he hurts you even more on defense. Steriod era is over and teams are trying to get younger and better defensively again. So essientially he’s worse than Adam Dunn defensively and may be worse than Jeff Francoeur offensively at this point if he cant bounce back. His numbers after the break last year were just brutal. Thats not a good package when trying to sell yourself to a new team. He turned down $3 mil from the Cubs just recently. Im surprised someone offered that. According to fangraphs, he’s got a negative value 2 of the last 3 seasons

  91. Dye also completely fell apart at the plate in the 2nd half – .179/.293/.297/.590. Ouch!

  92. Didn’t the Yankees offer 2 years 14M? Holy overestimating your worth Batman!

    Since Stu got to do one of these upstream, one of my favorites: link

    Somehow I always remember #62, point 2 when Boras does his annual ‘overplay his hand, screw his client’ routine, Damon being the lastest stooge. The ensuing discussion of whether Boras does occasionally screw over his client to protect his own image is priceless. I wonder how the rest of Matt Harrington’s life turned out.

  93. Oh and the fact that I could find that discussion in 10 seconds using Google despite really having no idea even in what year it took place is pretty awesome.

  94. Looking at the 2009 stats, the Braves had 16 starts by pitchers other than JJ, Lowe, Vazquez, KK, and Hanson.

    5 by JoJo, 4 by Medlen, and 7 by Tim Hudson. Throwing out Hudson’s 7 starts, that leaves 9 starts that weren’t started by a ‘top of the rotation’ pitcher.

    So, unless you are going to claim Hanson would be 7 above .500 (ie – either 8-1 or 9-0) IF he’d gotten ALL those starts, then the Braves still would have missed the playoffs while giving up a year of cost-controlled Hanson.

    And you can’t claim that Hanson should have gotten some of KK’s 20+ starts. The Braves still would have had a 5 man rotation of JJ, Lowe, JV, Hanson, and KK.

    So Coach, I have to disagree with you saying Hanson up on Opening Day was the difference between the Wild Card and sitting home in October.

  95. Well, I was right about Fields’ situation, wasn’t I?

    I have no idea. I haven’t kept up on him. Not really the point.

    My favorite personal ‘own goal’ was when I claimed that losing Hampton to injury (shock!) in 2007 wasn’t a big deal because we had Mark Redman and he should provide about what we expect from Hampton. Instead Redman crapped the bed in a spectacular fashion and was released just as a Braves Journal plan to kidnap him and stash him in Alex R’s basement was coming together. So I was a little off.

    Couldn’t find that one on Google. A lot of cyberink was spilled over Redman, and I can’t get through it all.

  96. I’ve got quite a few, many related to my belief that Brent Lillibridge was going to be a much better MLB player than Yunel Escobar. I also recall citing intangibles as a positive for Adam LaRoche way back when.

    I know it wasn’t the point. I was just saying. That comment about Boras looks worse and worse each year because, at least from my perspective, he seems to screw up more and more each year.

  97. Coach, the difference between the Heyward situation this year and the Hanson situation last is that no one thought he was one of the best 5 pitchers on the team in the Spring. The fifth pitcher in the rotation rarely gets to pitch early in the season and he was only a place holder until Glavine was ready.

  98. I’ve got quite a few, many related to my belief that Brent Lillibridge was going to be a much better MLB player than Yunel Escobar

    Obviously that’s the other one I remember from you. I don’t remember the Lillibridge angle, but the certainty with which you presented your case that Escobar’s ceiling was utility player and nothing more was stunning at the time (one so-so season at AA and his fate is cast?). Now that it been shown to be – you know – totally wrong, it really sticks out.

  99. @27,

    That was the most snow I’ve ever seen in one day. I guess when you grow up in CA, that’s to be expected.

  100. #134
    My office on LI was closed yesterday, so I went music shopping in Manhattan—which, of course, was insane.

    But that’s how bad daytime TV is—I’d rather go shopping in a blizzard.

  101. The anti-Yunel stuff was all in the context of being willing to trade him for something useful (Rocco Baldelli, Bronson Arroyo) because Lillibridge was going to be better, anyway.

  102. AAR,
    Possibility. I really should read it.

    The author is going to be interviewed on WFAN soon & I wanna listen to that. Strangely, it’ll probably affect any purchasing decision.

    Last year, they had the Thurman Munson book author (Marty Appel) on the station & I loved the interview. I never woulda bought the book—because those things tend to be Pinstripe-Kool-Aid hagiographies—but I did get it because I was entertained by the guy’s stories. Turns out, the book was really enjoyable.

    Caught Mays on MLB Network last night with Costas. No. 24 rambled a little bit & I’m not sure that having him for two full hours was necessary, but it was alright. I’d guess that the book’s gonna be way better.

  103. so apparently Detroit wants Damon badly. They are reporting on MLBtr, that Detriot is willing to do 2/$14m for Damon. The best offer out there is 1 yr $4-4.5 and you counter with this. I would love to hear what Boras says to these guys

  104. Luis Durango career minor league MLE line, park and luck adjusted: .222/.291/.253 Twenty two extra base hits in 922 AB’s, .260 BABIP.

    There’s a reason he gets no love, and it’s not because speed is over rated (which it is), but because his minor league track record suggests his limitations at the plate in MLB are going to be insurmountable. He’s going to be Willy Taveras, with an even crappier batting average and fewer extra base hits, minus everything Taveras does well defensively.

    A player like that needs to hit .300 to be anything more than a fringy reserve. Beating out a bunch of infield hits against crappy defenses in the minors may be effective now, but it won’t play in MLB, and his legs won’t be enough on either side of the ball to make up for his otherwise terrible production. He’s twenty four years old in April and at this point, there’s little evidence he’ll ever be able to overcome his offensive limitations. He just can’t hit enough.

  105. per mlbtr – 3:05pm: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports and Jim Bowden tweet that the White Sox and Tigers are bidding on Damon.

    2:48pm: Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has authorized a two-year $14MM offer, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It’s hard to imagine Damon turning this kind of offer down.

    Damon is also considering a one-year $7MM offer from the Tigers and a one-year offer from the Braves. Atlanta won’t likely offer two years, since they have outfield prospects Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer.

  106. 130 – Boras looked a lot better when the economy was soaring and players’ salaries were on a steep climb.

  107. Acquiring Damon would have nice to ensure Heyward a little time in the minors and then to get something in trade for Melky or McLouth.

    That’s not worth more than about $5M.

  108. If Boras really does get Damon 2/14 in this market, I think you gotta hand it to the man. He really does know what he’s doing.

  109. While we’re talking about posts we made in the past… I want to thank Ububba for his link to Glanville’s article. His description of knowing the way the ball came off the bat of specific hitters reminds me of a conjecture I once made here in an argument about whether steroids help players.

    I stated that the players take them because they see the ball come off a guy’s bat differently than it used to and say to themselves ‘Hey that’s new. He must be juicing. That stuff WORKS, huh?’

    I can’t find that post, though.

    I also want to find a post where we were arguing about Prado’s potential, and this was coming in to his first full season, and I referenced his AAA batting title and predicted he’d hit about 280 if he stayed up all year.. Wish I could find these posts.

  110. The hand-wringing some here did over the possibility of signing Damon is kind of amusing, because 1) he would have been a good player to have if hired at the price reported and 2) the offer was so low, he was never likely to be signed anyway. I think the Braves FO knew they weren’t really in the running for him, and decided to go ahead and make their offer just so they could put a stop to all the rumors (perpetrated mostly by DOB)and officially wrap up their off-season.

    BTW, a friend of mine who grew up in Detroit and still roots for the Tigers told me, wryly, “The Tigers need a lot more than Johnny Damon.” So, as someone wrote above, “the Tigers want Damon badly” can be read, at least by fans, as “The Tigers are desperate.”

  111. I don’t get how people are just assuming that Heyward will step in and succeed. And how eager they are to have the fall-back position be Eric Hinske/Melky Cabrera. Johnny Damon makes this team better. The only way he doesn’t is if he completely falls apart and Cox plays him anyway. But he really is a good player, especially for $4 million, half deferred.

  112. mraver – glad someone agrees with me. Either way, I think our FO knew that the offer to Damon wouldnt be high enough, but it was something to throw out there to spike our interest level. Id pay Damon $5mil on a 1yr deal, but Boras still wants the 2/14 and just might get it somehow. Damon’s not worth that no matter what our current situation is

  113. Well apparently the Big Hurt is retiring – contrasted with Darin Erstad’s apparent retirement I can’t imagine two guys with a wilder disparity between performance and reputation

  114. I don’t know what you mean about Thomas. I mean, he was an elite hitter in performance, and he achieved 5 all star games, 2 MVPs, and 5 times in the top five in MVP voting. Those are voting (reputation) awards. Where’s the wild disparity?

  115. I always remember Thomas as being cast in the press as sort of a surly whiner, and I think his public reputation has been diminished as a result. I just don’t think he is perceived as being one of the great RH hitters of all time.

  116. Ah, spike, you’re just a biased Tiger. :)

    Thomas was my favorite non-Brave for many years. Sad to see his career end. It was a mighty fine one.

  117. Of course, it’s quite possible to be both great player & surly whiner.

    I always kinda liked Big Frank—really, just because he’s from my hometown—but maybe Erstad was a more likeable guy.

    Still, I don’t think any serious person would think Erstad was the better player.

  118. But, seriously, Broken Bells. Dude!

    Admittedly, it would not be possible for Danger Mouse and James Mercer to be involved in something which I would not love, and it’s probably not possible for me to analyze objectively…but, this is some good stuff.

  119. I should add that Dombrowski did basically turn Edwin Jackson into Max Scherzer in that deal, which I think is favorable. Plus he got Austin Jackson, although there’s an increasing amount of evidence that he sucks.

  120. Dave Dombrowski, I love you man. No really, thanks for saving Frank Wren from himself.

    p.s. somewhere right now Bobby Cox is hitting the bottle even harder than usual.

  121. From 1991-2005 the Braves averaged 179 HR’s as a team.

    From 2006-2009 they averaged 169 HR’s as a team.

    From 1991-2005 the Braves averaged 105 stolen bases.

    From 2006-2009 they averaged 58 stolen bases.

    I’ll leave you folks to figure out which of these two stats is overrated.

  122. #152–Thanks for KFM clip–after more than 30 years I still remember it petty vividly. To bad for Damon….

  123. So SB correlates with team success. Novel theory – I’ll look forward to your corroborating examples and analysis of league trends that supports this threadbare assertion.

    Meanwhile, 1991 – 2005, SS majority starts had two syllables or less, made playoffs. 2006 – present, 3 syllable SS starter = no playoffs. That’s why we should have traded Escobar.

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