So what else is new?

We need a hitting coach. Who shall it be? TP? Don Baylor? Chris Chambliss? Chipper? Chipper’s dad? Lance Parrish?

318 thoughts on “So what else is new?”

  1. From Frank Wren, “It’s situational hitting, it’s not just settling for a good swing and then a strikeout,” Wren said. “That’s a bad at-bat in my mind. Philadelphia just left here. They battled every day, up and down that lineup. They’re going to make a pitcher work to get them out. Too many times if you made three or four good pitches against us it was pretty easy to get through our lineup. That needs to change.”

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I just wish you had thought of this LAST year, Frank.

    As far as hitting coach goes, what’s Edgar Martinez doing these days? Or hell, Frank Thomas.

  2. I say we hire Chipper as player/hitting coach. This will free up enough money that the organization can afford soda in the clubhouse.

  3. All the Braves’ best hitters already go to Chipper’s dad when they’re struggling, so why not just make it official?

  4. Question: One year deal for a SS, Scutaro or AAG? Scutaro will probably at least give you a .340OBP but will be a downgrade defensively. Or do we just target a trade (Lowrie) and potentially allow Pastornicky to have the super util role?

  5. Chipper’s dad could give a curtain call at Citi Field every time they start chanting “Larrr-ry.”

  6. I’m starting to like this Wren fellow.

    It may be time for a clean sweep of the Cox machine.

  7. @4,

    I think we need a good glove at short. I am willing to give away some stick because of the limited range of Chipper and Ugla.

    We need to wprgrade left field. That would take care of a lot of problems.

  8. Agree with Smitty. A Gonzalez / Pastornicky platoon is fine with me. Really hope that Reyes rumor was merde.

    But, yeah, there’s GOT to be a left-fielder out there somewhere that can hit the ball.

  9. I don’t disagree with the need for production from LF, but if we go a different direction, what of Prado?

  10. Prado becomes super util or trade bait. Can his bat stick in LF or 3B longterm? If not, trade him.

  11. Prado goes back to being a super utility guy and Chipper insurance. There’s absolutely no shame in that. It’s a role he has thrived in before and can thrive in again. And with the amount of time off Chipper ought to be getting (in my mind 1-2 games off a week), he’ll get plenty of starts and ABs.

    Getting a left-fielder who can mash on the OPS is a priority for the offseason. Maybe we can get Hatteberg out of retirement. [/justsawMoneyball]

  12. @7 Agreed. Agreed.

    How does Marlon Byrd sound? He’s not too expensive (he’s got one more yr on his deal for $6.5 million), bats RH, and can play CF if need be.

    I like the idea of someone like Edgar/Big Hurt being our coach. Paul O’Neill?

  13. I am not sure why the organization doesn’t show any signs of “like” (I realize “love” would be too intense under the circumstances) for Brandon Hicks. He had an OPS at AAA of around 800 (was 820 to 840 most of the year). My “rough guess MLE” would have him at about 240 /320 / 420. Drop it 40 total points and he is still at Alex Gonzalez level. And, he was supposedly the best fielder in the system until Andrellton got in the picture.

    My theory at shortstop is go to camp with Hicks and Pastornicky and let one of them start and one of them back up. That costs 800,000 and 400,000 of that would have to go to a back up anyway. Take the 3 to 5 that you would otherwise put on a shortstop and add it to what is needed elsewhere.

    This organization has had great trouble upgrading left field. “Good Prado” is only a slightly above average left fielder. We cannot afford to go into next season without a legitimate outfielder who can possibly play right field.

  14. @11- I was pretty damn close with my Hudson and Kimbrel projections. And Hanson was well on his way to matching my projection before he got hurt. I was short on homers for Freeman but pretty close for everything else. I was way off on just about all the rest, though. My Shitty Derek Lowe prediction is laughable.

  15. AA @ 12,

    Byrd was who I wanted to see the Braves get at mid season. Supposedly, the Cubs were very negative on trading him. Now, with Fukudome gone, and Soriano about to be gone (they will eat 95% of his contract to move him, or bench him) they will not let Byrd go for sure.

  16. Chris Chambliss was one of my favorite Braves players of all time and from what I know, he’s done pretty well as a hitting coach. He definitely had a patient/discipined approach as a hitter and I think his coaching has reflected that.

    I really like Jack Wilson as a backup SS. If Pastornicky is ready for full time, I would like to keep Wilson as a backup/utility guy. If Pastornicky isn’t ready, keeping AAG, but slowly reducing his role (and increasing Pastornicky’s) may not be a bad approach.

  17. Sick day today for me, so I guess I can make a list of crowded outfields.

    When the Cards are done getting whupped by the Phillies, it’d sure be nice if they traded us Allen Craig. It’s too bad Yonder Alonso is a lefty. I think Carlos Quentin is still the answer, but with Ozzie gone, won’t they want to move someone else in that outfield to get Dayan Viciedo into the picture instead?

  18. Trading Prado when his value is at its lowest is a bad idea IMO. The Prado of 2008-2010 actually hit well enough for a corner OF in a lineup whose 2B hits 35 HRs.

  19. I want Julio Franco as our hitting coach.

    The reason the organization doesn’t seem to like Brandon Hicks is that, when he stepped to the plate, he looked utterly lost, like Brent Lillibridge for us a few years ago. Of course, Lillibridge now looks a bit more like a major leaguer, so it’s possible that Hicks could actually fashion a career at some point — but a change of scenery may be necessary.

    He is one-for-26 in his major league career, and those at-bats weren’t even good at-bats. There’s a reason the Braves didn’t give him more ABs.

  20. Brandon Hicks is overrated defensively and his semi-decent numbers were the result of one good month. He spent the rest of the year looking approximately like non-April/September Alex Gonzalez. If you’re thinking you want Hicks anywhere near the majors, you’re sorely mistaken.

  21. I think Jack Wilson is a better everyday player over Brandon Hicks. I agree with Nick that Hicks is overrated defensively. He really cant hit or field, at least Wilson is a good glove.

    Didnt we add Pastornicky to the roster at the very end of the season? Wasnt Hicks already on it? I was confused as to why they did this.

  22. csg – I stopped following the Giants when it looked like they (and the Cardinals) were hopelessly out of it.

    Did he look like he was healthy enough to play well for a whole year?

  23. Beltran would be an awesome addition, IMO. He could play every day in LF or play in RF against lefties and in LF against righties, if the Braves persist in not playing Heyward.

  24. How many more injury-prone players do we want the Braves to sign? We know that Chipper will get hurt, as will AAG, McCann, and Heyward, at some point during the 2012 season. Not to mention the pitchers, who have a solid history of injuries! Now, we want to add Beltran, who might have become “affordable” BECAUSE he gets injured! I’d pass, I think.

  25. Unless you get a really big bat for LF, I don’t think a move will necessarily be an upgrade. As brutal as Prado was this year, especially down the stretch, he’s shown he could be a much better hitter. If he rebounds, he’s as good as most of the guys you could bring in, plus he’s able to play 3B.

    I’d just rather not see the club spend $8 million bringing in someone who won’t represent an upgrade. If you want to bring in a platoon type and have them and Diaz split time, fine. Otherwise, concentrate on SS.

  26. Anyone see just how bad Carl Crawford was this season? He’s our Derek Lowe

    .255/.289/.405 18SB. Wasnt he projected to steal something like 60 this season?

  27. In light of previous discussions about payroll size, it’s interesting to see how badly teams with big payrolls can screw up. The Red Sox got Carl Crawford and John Lackey, both disasters. They can afford it, of course, but at some point, giving out bad contracts for underperforming players is going to catch up. I’m not saying I don’t wish the Braves had a bigger payroll, but just throwing money around doesn’t guarantee success. Even under Ted Turner, the Braves had a budget–larger, in proportion to other teams than now, but they didn’t just throw money around and I think it imposes a discipline that is necessary. The whole point of salary caps in football and basketball is to keep ownership from acting like idiots, but it seems to me that a rational business person should be able to do that anyway.

  28. Frank Wren:

    Q. How much of the September collapse was a result of the ripple effect of losing Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson to injuries?

    A. It’s hard for me to pin it on the pitching because we had 17 games in September when we gave up four runs or less. So that doesn’t indicate to me that the pitching was a problem.

    Nice to see Wren kick a leg out from under this excuse.

  29. From the sound of the interviews with Wren, pitching doesn’t seem to be much of a priority: He sounded enthusiastic about C-Mart and Varvarro, is confident Medlen will have a role next year, seems to think Hanson is on track for next year. We have to assume that O’Ventbrel will remain intact, at least Minor and Delgado have pitched their way into serious contention for the starting staff next year, and Lowe will likely be a non-factor presence on the team or not around at all.

    The only questions in my mind seem to be if we want to get a true LOOGY on the team or not. O’Vent were not used as LOOGYs. Will Sherrill stick around? Will we get someone else?

  30. “They can afford it, of course, but at some point, giving out bad contracts for underperforming players is going to catch up.”

    See Mets…

    Yes, its good to hear Wren showing confidence in Lisp and Vavaro. Hopefully we can get away from the Scott Proctors of the world.

  31. @39 – yep.

    Over the long haul, the Yankees can absorb any amount of poor decisions. (Which is why I’m for a salary cap for baseball.)

    The Mets’ will bounce back in a hurry and we’ll all be wondering why our beloved Braves are finishing just ahead of the Marlins year after year.

  32. Diaz + Prado makes Brooks Conrad go away.

    The Braves need a RH power hitter for LF. There’s not one available.

  33. I’d much rather keep Conrad than Diaz. A league-average hitter as a reserve infielder is an asset. A Matt Diaz, sad to say, is not.

  34. Diaz was awful and didn’t hit a home run all season. That trade still makes no sense. The Braves are stuck with Diaz for 2012.

  35. Anyone going to be checking out any of the Surprise Saguaros AFL games? I’m pretty excited to see Gilmartin and Bethancourt, and Hoover too- just based off comments other folks have posted on this site.

  36. Just sayin’ what I’d rather, if that was the choice. I think there’s a decent chance they do eat the contract, because I think there’s a decent chance he will quite obviously have nothing to offer.

  37. Diaz has done the awful year/bounceback year once before, so I expect him to be at least decent next year.

    On the other hand, did anyone else besides me not realize that he’ll be 34 next season?

  38. We should be calling Texas about Jurickson Profar. They might bite if we were to give up one of our MLB ready SP.

  39. We should be calling Texas about Jurickson Profar. They might bite if we were to give up one of our MLB ready SP.

    With Hanson and Jurrjens question marks and Lowe a no-go, don’t you think we need our MLB-ready starters more than an 18 year old shortstop prospect?

  40. @49
    Medlen, Hudson, Delgado, Minor, Beachy, Teheran, Hanson, Jurrjens.

    No. Furthermore, how can you call anyone question marks? We’re only 5 days into the offseason. The Braves can’t approach the offseason with that mindset. There are too many pitchers and no SS. If they could trade one of the SP for Profar, they could sign a stopgap and have a legit SS ready to go in 2013 and still have a shit ton of pitching.

  41. Diaz has done the awful year/bounceback year once before, so I expect him to be at least decent next year.

    He was awful last season too.

  42. Ryan C, that’s indeed a lot of SP. And I wouldn’t mind parting with some of it, but don’t you think an outfielder would be a better thing to shoot for if we’re going to? And I take it by implication that you don’t think Pastornicky is legit?

    As for question marks, Jurrjens has combined for 43 starts in the last two seasons, and while Wren has stated he’s not very concerned about Hanson’s shoulder, it’s still the word “shoulder”. Plus, I think most of us just look at his delivery and think he’s living on borrowed time anyway.

    I’d also like to say that I don’t think we should trade Minor. He’s our only left-hander SP.

  43. Dayan Viciedo for Aroyds Vizcaino.

    Resign both AAG and Jack Wilson and rotate them as needed (Jack becomes Uggla’s defense replacement as well). I’d like a better shortstop, but there really aren’t any feasible options.*

    Then be done unless you can scalp someone in a trade.

    *Rollins wants 5 years, which would be stupid with his age/injury history. Even if the money weren’t an issue (it would be), Reyes’s antics w/the batting title nailed the lid on the coffin that the Braves would even consider him. Unless you think 36 year old Marco Scutaro is the answer, there aren’t any available. And teams don’t trade good SS’s (except the Braves)

  44. Not that the Braves are in on Reyes, but does “antics w/the batting title” really override: “batting title?”

  45. @51

    Roughly average OPS+, even if it was mostly vs. LHPs (only 60/40 or so though, so not as bad as it sounds?). I wouldn’t hate getting that level of production (actually better since we’d hopefully limit ABs vs. RHPs even further). Of course, he’s on the wrong side of the age curve. Maybe it’s more optimism than expectation.

  46. @55 – Yunel Escobar made one questionable decision and got traded despite his batting title?

    I understand your point that the Braves have a history of wanting to avoid “antics,” but I hope they draw a finer line than that.

  47. @58- The point was that Reyes is going to ask for a lot of money. The Braves generally don’t like to pay a lot of money to free agents. Reyes also has numerous character questions. The Braves don’t like players whose character is in question. This combination, augmented by an injury history that is relatively extensive for someone as young as Jose, makes it seem very unlikely to me that the Braves will be at all involved in bidding for him.

    Clear enough, or are you still missing something?

  48. Braves would probably pass on Reyes considering the cost and injury risk factors. But if the only reason they don’t want him is because he took himself out of the game to win the batting title, well, then there are serious problems.

    It’s not as if Reyes has that checkered a history. I would imagine they just can’t afford him.

  49. @59 – I agree it’s unlikely the Braves will not be in on Reyes. That’s why it’s the first thing I said.

    What I read was that if the money doesn’t matter (which we agree it does,) the antics surrounding the batting crown nailed the lid on the coffin.

    What I should have read was, a) never mind, the money does matter, b) antics surrounding the batting title means numerous character questions, and c) injuries.

  50. @57-

    I agree it is tough to get emotionally involved in the playoffs now, but sometimes I find that I can almost enjoy baseball for simply being baseball more when the Braves aren’t involved. Tonight I could watch Verlander and Sabathia each gut it out without wanting to scream at the TV for them being left in too long (admittedly not a great example since that’s something Fredi does well).

  51. I think the Braves will resign Alex Gonzalez. Count it. SS solved. Pastornicky gets more ‘seasoning’ and if he breaks into the starting lineup you have a veteran plus defender on the bench.

    I think the Braves look for a corner outfielder this off season. I know, no shit sherlock, but they put Heyward on notice that he’ll have to compete for his position. Compete with whom? Diaz?

    The FA market looks very weak. A combination of one of our veteran starters and one of our kids could get us a real hitter. I don’t know who but it could. Jurrjens value went down the second half. I believe thats why you have to package Delgado with him to get a real hitter.

    Someone mentioned Josh Willingham. He did put up a .810 OPS in that ballpark. Isn’t he a free agent this year?

    What I don’t want is another reclamation project like for example Ryan Ludwick. The definition of insantiy is repeating the same action over and over again and expecting a different result. Short of a short burst of greatness by Troy Glaus the hitter reclamation thing really hasn’t worked out.

  52. @52
    I like Pastornicky just fine. However, I like overcrowding the Minors with shortstops. Due to their athleticism, they can play almost anywhere.

  53. Just heard Schuerholz interviewed on 680 the Fan and when they asked him if he had seen Moneyball he said (I’m paraphrasing): “Every organization that tried Billy Beane’s philosophy ended up abandoning it. Boston tried it, and then they got rid of it. Even Oakland doesn’t use it anymore, because it doesn’t work.”


  54. @67, Absolute BS. Unless you define “moneyball” as the meaning of the acronym OBP, and even then, it’s still perceived to have significant value.

    /there isn’t a team out there that doesn’t have a “stats guy” now. What they do with the data is up to them, but the idea that there is value in examining advanced stats for some competitive talent evaluation edge is not going away.

  55. The Moneyball “philosophy” was born of Oakland’s severe financial constraints — Boston never adopted the philosophy in the first place, because they never needed to. They just hired more smart people and helped to eliminate the OBP market inefficiency that Oakland briefly exploited. Oakland’s philosophy was sound for Oakland — it just had a short shelf life, because advanced analysis was being incorporated in other front offices as well.

  56. Which “Moneyball” are we talking about, spike? The book? The movie? Something oddly in between?

    The philosophy of Oakland in the late 90s and early 2000s might be summarized as “OBP is undervalued by the market; we will win by acquiring this undervalued commodity at the cost of other, overpriced skills such as defense and base running.”

    This idea was partially successful – it did get OBP valued up in the marketplace, more so than it already was – but not entirely so. As noted by Oakland’s continued tweaking of that model, to re-assess their idea that defense didn’t really matter that much. The “Moneyball” philosophy, in its simplistic narrative form, never succeeded particularly well. Even if you account for the 2002 season, that team didn’t actually over perform (a fact the movie glosses over, in much the same way it glosses over the existence of young Eric Chavez, MVP caliber Miguel Tejada, and three starters named Hudson, Mulder and Zito.)

    So, it’s going to come down to how narrowly you define “success” and how badly you want to shoehorn the “Moneyball approach” into that definition. Oakland re-introduced OBP to the league, somewhat (Beane learned that trick from Sandy Alderson, so it wasn’t a brand new concept really.) But they didn’t re-write the book on baseball, and they were categorically wrong on some aspects of their original theory.

  57. From a more macro-level, the philosophy of “Moneyball” never succeeded at all in bringing a championship to Oakland. And that was Beane’s primary – some might say only – goal. The movie tacks on the courtship of Beane by Boston, and then epilogues Boston’s 2004 WS title onto the story, to give the narrative a bit of closure – “Oakland hasn’t won yet, but Beane’s ideas won in Boston even though he loved his daughter too much to take John Henry’s money!”

    That is, of course, a categorical *failure* of the philosophy as sketched by the movie (and to my vague memory, by the book.) Boston didn’t win at “Moneyball.” Boston won by spending the SECOND LARGEST PAYROLL IN BASEBALL in combination with revaluation of OBP, etc. Considering that the entire opening of the movie (at least) is the discrepancy between Oakland’s payroll (+/- $39 mil) and the Yankees’ payroll ($170+ mil) the coda of Boston “winning with Moneyball” completely undermines the idea that Beane was playing at in the opening sequences of the movie.

  58. As Spike said, the Moneyball approach was using statistical analysis to identify inefficiencies in the market and then exploit those. In the late 90s and early 2000s OBP was undervalued so Oakland decided to exploit that. There were other inefficiencies that Oakland exploited but this is the one that got the most attention. The fact that OBP is no longer undervalued (at least to the extent that it used to be) speaks to the increased acceptance of sabermetrics in baseball front offices. Boston might not have had to look for bargains the way Oakland did, but they certainly used advanced statistics to guide their personel decisions. They won two world series with Bill James on their staff after all. JS can dismiss Moneyball as a passing fad, but the truth is that sabermetrics has changed the way front offices play the game.

  59. Teams have been using “advanced statistics” since the game started. The Braves use advanced statistics. They have a different value model than that generally understood to be the “moneyball” approach. The seem to win with their model, well enough.

  60. @72, massive conversality fail. The “traditional” teams by definition then, fail at an even more spectacular rate than Moneyball ones, and across all payroll ranges.

    Even you don’t believe half of what you just wrote Sam – you’ve never gone full Luddite before – what’s driving this really?

  61. The basics of the Moneyball idea is to have quality ABs and get on base.

    Most of the teams in the playoffs do this.

    The reason they have high payrolls is teams want guys who do the Moneyball basics and pay them a lot of money, becasue they are the best players.

    It’s not that Moneyball failed, it’s that everyone adapted.

  62. OBP was undervalued for over 100 years

    Branch Rickey would be surprised to hear this.

  63. Even you don’t believe half of what you just wrote Sam – you’ve never gone full Luddite before – what’s driving this really?

    I’m not going ‘full Luddite’ now. I’m simply not drinking the Kool-Aid without asking what’s in it. Sabermetrics is premised on the willingness to question received and conventional wisdom. Today’s received, conventional wisdom is that Billy Beane re-wrote the rules of baseball and essentially created on-base percentage from scratch. That’s completely wrong.

  64. The vast majority of the rest of “baseball men” from that period would not.

    Really? What is your source for this super-knowledge of what dead men were thinking, spike?

  65. How many other quotes regarding OBP from that period have you seen Sam? Can you name other important early baseball figures that lauded it besides Cobb and one or two others? And while we are at it, how the hell do you know what they were thinking? To this f’ing DAY their is a significant subset that preaches aggression and looks at average over OBP – do you deny this too?
    As the saying goes, if it was that important they would put it on the scoreboard. And it certainly was not until quite recently. But whatever – you’ve decided to be a contrarian again, and I don’t have time to rebut things even you don’t subscribe to.

  66. Limiting the definition of success to “winning the WS” is a neat rhetorical trick too.

    At least from the movie adaptation, that was the character “Billy Beane” defining success. “Win the last game of the year.”

  67. No one said what Beane did was original. What’s important is that it was influential. There were scattered execs who did similar things throughout baseball history, but it never caught on until Beane. While it might be difficult to show that for the 1940s, due to the scarcity of easily available salary data, there’s almost 20 years of accessible data implying a systemic bias that wasn’t corrected until shortly before the publication of Moneyball.

    Saying Beane caused a market-wide correction of a 100 year bias seems a lot more reasonable than speculating that people knew what was up until the mid eighties, then, suddenly, baseball executives largely decided to manage less effectively for 20 years until the Moneyball A’s.

  68. The fact that they didn’t speak of OBP in modern vernacular doesn’t mean they didn’t value getting on base. The great players clearly did. That’s part of why they were *great* after all. Ty Cobb understood OBP. Babe Ruth understood OBP. Ted Williams understood OBP. Walter Johnson understood not allowing runners to reach base. Connie Mack and John McGraw understood OBP. The idea that this is something newly discovered is ludicrous.

    Yes, some people still overvalue BA. Not everyone gets everything all the time, after all. Of course, there’s a perfectly valid reason why people overvalue BA. Especially former hitters.

    First, BA involves getting hits. That’s an active event that a hitter “wins” the at bat. Players – type A, athletic superstar personalities – are going to value the active wins over the passive “didn’t lose” of the walk. That’s the nature of the player’s mentality, and if you take that away you take away the mentality that made that guy a great player to begin with. Still, it’s an overvaluation and should be (and generally is) moderated by calmer, more analytic heads in the front office.

    Second, there’s the little sneaking fact that a hit IS actually better than a walk. So, while OBP is better than raw BA, an OBP driven by sustained BA is better than the same OBP driven by lots of walks. See also “old player skills,” etc. This is a fact, as often as not, elided by current day “sabermetric” analysis, unfortunately.

  69. Oh Christ, now you’re citing movie scripts as definitive proof of anything.

    I asked you, in my first opening statement here, what version of “Moneyball” we were discussing, did I not?

    Can you not even carry on a simple conversation that doesn’t assume your conclusions from the outset?

  70. I am constantly astounded by how the slightest of questioning to the conventional wisdom is immediately blown into a huge shitstorm, where inevitably the Greek chorus paints me as the villain. It’s sad, actually. I honestly believe you guys are smarter than this.

  71. None of Sam’s (many, many) words changes the fact that JS has missed the central point: a “Moneyball” philosophy is a market-based philosophy. That’s it. As others above have pointed out, it has nothing particularly to do with OBP. It has to do with finding undervalued assets for which your team can pay less. You know what “Moneyball” really is? It’s neoliberalism come to baseball.

    There are two things that are hilarious about JS’s argument that “Every organization that tried Billy Beane’s philosophy ended up abandoning it… Even Oakland doesn’t use it anymore, because it doesn’t work.” One is that the Braves, as Mac and others have cogently shown in the past, employed many of the same methods under a different rubric. The other is that the “Moneyball philosophy”–misleadingly conflated with base-clogging, no-defense OBP guys–is essentially a market-based philosophy espoused by political economists whom JS, elsewhere, has claimed to admire greatly. Perhaps he should read the book: it’s a business book, taught now in various MBA programs.

    When Beane started drafting high school pitchers and de-emphasizing high OBP guys a few years after 2002, it wasn’t because he abandoned the philosophy. It was because he was following it. The league had started to overvalue the type of guys he preferred in 2002 and undervalue some of the very type of players he eschewed then; so he reversed course.

  72. When Beane started drafting high school pitchers and de-emphasizing high OBP guys a few years after 2002, it wasn’t because he abandoned the philosophy. It was because he was following it. The league had started to overvalue the type of guys he preferred in 2002 and undervalue some of the very type of players he eschewed then; so he reversed course.

    If we take this as true, how can we apply it to the Braves?

    The Braves are not a high-payroll organization. They’re not bottom-of-the-barrel low, but they’re not high either. As such, they need to find market inefficiencies themselves.

    If OBP is no longer an undervalued commodity, then an organization seeking undervalued commodities would not look exclusively for OBP.

    Thus the criticism of the organization for not seeking OBP above all else is misguided.

  73. Speaking of Success…

    Jordan Shafer got arrested for felony possession of weed at a Cheesecake Factory in Tampa. Guess he had a whole bunch.

  74. If OBP is no longer an undervalued commodity, then an organization seeking undervalued commodities would not look exclusively for OBP.

    Thus the criticism of the organization for not seeking OBP above all else is misguided.

    Red Herring. Stay on course. My point was about what “Moneyball” means, not the market value of OBP in 2011.*

    As far as the Braves, Mac wrote something a few years ago making some nice points about how they really did look for undervalued attributes. Just because they haven’t always looked for the same player types as the A’s have, doesn’t mean that JS and Wren are ignoring market logic. Most teams, as others have pointed out, are constantly trying to find new ways to evaluate talent. To suggest Theo Epstein abandoned a “Moneyball” philosophy a couple years later is simply wrong, and characteristic of someone who has not actually read (or at least understood) the book.

    *Note: this does not mean it’s not valuable. It means the market is pricing it closer to what it should be priced. Different things.

  75. From St. Petersburg Times:
    “Schafer (…)declined to give police the name of his employer.”

  76. Sam pointed out that there are several definitions of Moneyball and I have to agree with him. If you consider the quote by Wren, it doesn’t sound like the Braves are undervaluing OBP – I would argue that “battling” as he discusses would lead to higher OBP. It seems to me that JS is negative towards some of the other aspects of Moneyball.

    “It’s situational hitting, it’s not just settling for a good swing and then a strikeout,” Wren said. “That’s a bad at-bat in my mind. Philadelphia just left here. They battled every day, up and down that lineup. They’re going to make a pitcher work to get them out. Too many times if you made three or four good pitches against us it was pretty easy to get through our lineup. That needs to change.”

  77. Red Herring. Stay on course. My point was about what “Moneyball” means, not the market value of OBP in 2011.*

    In that case, I’d suggest you read my summary of a working “Moneyball” definition @71. I’d also suggest you stop throwing around first year Intro to Logic terms as if they help your case.

  78. I would argue that “battling” as he discusses would lead to higher OBP. It seems to me that JS is negative towards some of the other aspects of Moneyball.

    I absolutely agree with this. I think some of the problem with folks critiquing the Braves’ approach is that they hear what they think is being said, rather than listening to what the person is saying.

    A good example of this is the idea of being “aggressive” during at bats. This is not, IMHO, a call to ignore getting on base in order to swing more often. It’s simply another way of saying “wait for a good pitch, and when you see it, crush it.” Which is the “Moneyball” approach to hitting from Ted Williams, etc. “Staying aggressive” doesn’t mean swing at bat pitches. It means don’t go up there *looking* for a walk. Go up there refusing to swing at crap, but intent on driving the ball in the hitting zone.

  79. Regarding the definition of success, an illuminating Beane quote from the book (“My shit doesn’t work in the postseason”, approx) was conspicuously missing from the movie. Meant to convey that the postseason is a crapshoot and it was out of his hands, not that the model was flawed. I thought it one of the most important lines in the book, and was surprised that it wasn’t included.

  80. @101 – Agreed. The movie narrative took some liberties with the book, as movies will inevitably do. It’s been a while since I read the book, so remind me, how prevalent was the ‘win the last game’ bit in the book?

  81. Ok, I don’t think he was arrested AT the Cheesecake Factory. It seems he was pulled over at the same intersection.

  82. RE: Schafer

    To be charged with felony possession, he had more than an ounce of pot on him. Assuming for the sake of sanity that Jordan Schafer doesn’t spend his off-season driving kilos of weed around central Florida, this is probably a case of a 20-something getting busted for possession of a harmless plant, because US drug laws are idiotic.

  83. I’d also suggest you stop throwing around first year Intro to Logic terms as if they help your case.

    Stop using them then. Actually, I don’t care. Have fun. I made a point, you didn’t respond to it, and so it goes.

  84. @102

    Honestly, I don’t remember.

    I loved the behind-the-scenes vantage point of the book, but there was a lot of truthiness and caricature going on. I much prefer Lewis’s writing on the financial collapse. His takedown of the Icelandic fishermen-turned-investment-bankers was equal parts hilarious and horrifying (he went after Germany in much the same manner in Vanity Fair last month to lesser effect), and The Big Short is the best book ever written. OK, not really…but there aren’t five better books I can think of off the top of my head.

  85. @105 – gotta agree.

    Glad we have Bourn, instead, however.

    Earlier in the thread, someone mentioned that watching the playoffs without factoring in the “what’s best for the Braves” emotion has allowed for just the pure enjoyment of watching important baseball.

    This is absolutely true for me, as well. And is a helluva lot of fun.

    Oh, one more thing:

    Die, Phillies, Die! Glad you helped the Cardinals into the playoffs, assholes?

  86. I was never terribly impressed with Moneyball, for the reasons you mention. I thought Pitt turned a dry book into a decent, if rote movie. Basically a less funny, more “serious” Major League. I felt let down that he didn’t work in a re-shoot of the “Too high, too high…who gives a shit, it’s gone” scene, but then, Chad Bradford is less entertaining than Charlie Sheen.

    Regardless, I think the “lessons” of Moneyball are both seriously overrated by its fans and drastically misunderstood by its enemies.

  87. Yeah, Bourne’s the better player, AND he’s not a tool (that I can tell from TV.) Schafer has always seemed to be a bit of a tool, and this simply enhances his toolish nature. Still, our drug laws are crazy.

    I haven’t watched any of the playoffs, but from a pure “maximize Sam’s vindictive pleasures” perspective I would like to see the following:

    1. The Wild Card Cards boot the vaunted Phillies and their $170m roster.

    2. The Brewers, having dispatched the D’Backs, boot STL and Tony LaRussa’s head explodes on national TV.

    3. I’d probably “root” for the Brewers in the WS because at least they play baseball in the NL.

  88. there was a lot of truthiness and caricature going on.

    I’d agree with this too. But that’s actually how Lewis writes, and I’d implore anyone reading him now on the financial collapse – especially the new book, which is ridiculous at best – to remember that he’s doing now what he had always done: characterize an overmatched hero who figures the “truth” out in the face of feckless, unthinking dolts, and tell the story of ingenuity. Lewis is a great writer, and some of the folks he profiles are damn interesting, but the narratives start to look similar after awhile.

  89. Die, Phillies, Die! Glad you helped the Cardinals into the playoffs, assholes?

    Hey, don’t get me wrong: I’m all about Phillies dying.

    But they didn’t do anything but play the Braves hard in those last three games. *We* helped the Cardinals into the playoffs, not the Phillies.

  90. If ever there was a self referential statement…

    If this is a swipe at me, you’re sadly off target with your assessments.

  91. Dude, if you want to insult me, do it. But if you’re going to continue to namby-pamby around some theoretical bush without even bothering to level a critique… Bored now.

  92. Basically, this is not a serious comparison.

    Underdog management, undercut by cheap and/or disinterested ownership, assembles a rag tag bunch of castoffs and has-beens. Is laughed off by the establishment. Starts slow, but then battles back in heroic fashion, proving the underdog *can* win. Fails to make the World Series.

  93. @112

    Agreed that the hero-making is employed as a hook. What I liked most about it was how well he explained financial derivatives for a lay audience, and how skillfully he wove together the impact of the various institutions.

  94. Sam, do you honestly think that people here paint you as a villain just because you don’t hold common viewpoints?

    Is that honestly what you think?

  95. Underdog management, undercut by cheap and/or disinterested ownership, assembles a rag tag bunch of castoffs and has-beens. Is laughed off by the establishment. Starts slow, but then battles back in heroic fashion, proving the underdog *can* win. Fails to make the World Series.

    Underdog management? The small market vs. big market/A’s vs. Yankees narrative was only a starting point. The real story narrative was about management’s struggles with the very organization it’s trying to manage.

    Cheap and/or disinterested ownership? Steve Schott was hardly disinterested. He wasn’t an absentee owner or an anonymous corporate entity of which the A’s were just one more asset. And I’m sure he wouldn’t have been “cheap” if his finances could have otherwise allowed. Schott had to run his team within the confines of the market he had to deal with at the time. The movie could have played him as a villain, but it didn’t. One subtle way of doing this was to show that huge picture hanging behind him in his office, showing off one of his real estate developments. Part of the struggle Beane was having was getting Schott to open up his wallet and give him a little bit more, but that subtle choice of set design showed just how leveraged Schott’s personal fortune was in real estate. And we all know what would happen only 6 years later to real estate in California.

    Assembles a rag tag bunch of castoffs and has-beens? Except the players Beane coveted weren’t castoffs and has-beens. They didn’t need to be inspired by winning streaks, Wild Things and dick jokes to win. All they needed to do was show up and perform at their expected level of capability.

    Starts slow, but then battles back in heroic fashion …Is laughed off by the establishment… fails to make World Series? But this is actually what happened. It’s fact, not fiction. It just so happens to correlate with standard tropes in fiction (not just baseball movies), but not in such a way that would merit comparison to a movie that it’s nothing like.

    A friend of mine took his wife who knows jack all about baseball. She left loving the movie and what moved her had nothing to do with baseball or how hot Brad Pitt is. Really, Moneyball is only a little bit about baseball.

  96. Anybody interested in trading Minor and another of our young pitchers for David Price?

    I’d love to have a battle-tested left-handed stud in our rotation.

  97. @120

    I think certain individuals here like to use me as a bogeyman because

    1) I don’t agree, no questions asked, with their preferred shibboleths and caricatures of Braves management;

    2) I don’t swallow, no questions asked, the conventional wisdom of “advanced analysis” as currently preached in various forums across the internet;


    3) Because they have a habit of thinking I’m picking a fight, even when I’m not, because it’s what they always seem to think.

    Yes, that is what I think happens more often than not.

  98. RE: Major League vs Moneyball

    Major League wasn’t really about baseball, either. That’s the point. Moneyball, like Major League, is a conventional human interest story out of Hollywood, where underdogs (Billy Beane, Scott Hatteberg) battle to prove their worth and overcome adversity. One was told as comedy, the other as pseudo-biography.

  99. Why would Tampa trade Price? Same reason they always lose their best players – money.

    It’s that time of year when I want to pillage the less fortunate.

  100. Dude, if you want to insult me, do it.

    I leave that bailiwick to those who revel in it, good sir. Carry on as you see fit.

    Because they have a habit of thinking I’m picking a fight, even when I’m not, because it’s what they always seem to think.

    Having seen your comments and the responses to them in literally hundreds of threads here and elsewhere, it must be the most astonishing coincidence that this seems to happen over and over, with completely different sets of people involved too. What are the odds?

    But the subject is once again your favorite – how misunderstood and persecuted you are – so mission accomplished in that respect anyway.

  101. I side with Sam more often than not. He’s an easy target because he speaks his mind and is no respecter of persons. He challenge ideas, not the purveyor thereof; but having been on the receiving end, it sometimes feels as if he’s taking on the person rather than the person’s thought processes.

    Because of this, Braves Journalers engaged in debate with Sam are called upon to rethink and define their opinions. Not saying that Sam’s never wrong, but generally his opinions are well-thought out.

    Give us hell, Sam.

  102. I don’t think the Josh Willinghams of the world are going to be enough to “fix” the braves lineup.

    In my opinion, one of the following would be necessary to push the Braves from “84-89 wins and maybe wildcard” to “90+ wins and print the playoff tickets”:

    Kemp, Matt
    Holliday, Matt
    Ellsbury, Jacob
    Bautista, Jose
    Upton, Justin
    Braun, Ryan
    Stanton, Mike
    McCutchen, Andrew

    I realize these are cornerstone guys and that they would be rather impossible to aquire, but I believe those are the caliber player the line-up needs to be assured success.

    If the Braves go the route of a less awesome/expensive hitter (presumably with less power/patience than those listed above) I, at the very least, request two things: He be fast on the basepaths and he play excellent outfield (in other terms, the anti-Matt Diaz).

  103. Because of this, Braves Journalers engaged in debate with Sam are called upon to rethink and define their opinions. Not saying that Sam’s never wrong, but generally his opinions are well-thought out.

    Ironic because I just did this to him on his moronic Moneyball/Major League comparison. Sam’s argument basically boils down to “They’re similar because they both feature a protagonist striving against all odds towards a goal; great risk is involved.” Which describes virtually every movie not made in France since the advent of film. Thanks for the great insight!

    And you realize, Coop, that you can do all the good things you mention in your post without being a c*@#sucker, right?

  104. @133

    Agreed. Part of what has thrown the Braves into the maelstrom *organizationally* is the collapse of Jason Heyward. Heyward is supposed to be our Mike Stanton (only with better patience.) Without Heyward on track to take over the more-and-more vacated role of premiere offensive superstar that Chipper once owned, the Braves’ entire long term plan is sent haywire.

    Most everyone understands this fact, I think. It’s the huge, existential question that drives all of the angst and despair regarding the Braves these days. If we could magically rewind Heyward, and expectations of what Heyward would be, to 2010, and the only question was “is Martin Prado done?” we’d all be much happier. But the problem is, we don’t have that sort of “certainty” with Heyward any more, and as such, everything else is shot to shit.

    For 2012, the Braves have to fix Jason Heyward. They’re not going to magically fleece Pittsburgh of McCutchen, or convince Milwaukee that Mike Minor is worth Ryan Braun. And they’re not going to magically acquire the sort of free agent leeway that would allow them to bid competitively on those types of players when they do rarely become available. So they’re left with this simple rule: fix Jason Heyward or struggle to win 85 games and hope that’s enough.

  105. Dude, the Major League comparison was a throw-away line meant only to call out exactly what you just said. “Moneyball” the movie was a Hollywood movie. That’s *all* it was. It’s not anything vaguely resembling a treatise on baseball, or “advanced analysis” or how to build an optimized 25-man roster in the major leagues. It’s a Brad Pitt movie.

  106. Dude, the Major League comparison was a throw-away line meant only to call out exactly what you just said. “Moneyball” the movie was a Hollywood movie. That’s *all* it was.

    Dude, my line about a “feminized clubhouse” was a throw-away line just to get a laugh. And you spent a few hundred words blowing it out of proportion without even giving me the respect of looking at my overall argument. So, are you a “what is good for me is not for thee” kind of guy? Coop’s trying to ennoble you here; I tend to agree that often when you advance ideas, you’re a pleasure to read. It’s when you’re critiquing other people that you lapse into being a dickhead. And you also get sloppy.

    And I’m sorry, Major League was all about baseball.

  107. @134, I don’t know that any of those are available. That’s the problem. Cutch and Stanton are still years from arbitration and their clubs would ask the world for them (and rightly so).

  108. Sam (137),
    Very good point. If it’s possible, fixing Heyward would provide the biggest return on investment for the organization. If he had been as good as everyone thought he was going to be this year, the Braves would have easily won the wildcard.

  109. #132 – Well I’ll be damned. And all I thought all Sam was doing was busting people’s balls for posting totally way out there unsubstantiatable crap just to be a smart ass. IMHO if not taken as seriouisly as some folks here do its some funny as hell stuff.

    @133 – Nice list of unobtainable players. Your premise is sound though. We don’t have that anchor in our lineup that can carry a team for periods of time when everyone else isn’t hitting. The mantra for next season will be the same one as this season. Pitching, defense, and hopefully, prayerfully some timely hitting.

  110. Would any of you preferred Stanton over Heyward at the end of the 2010 season? I don’t think I would have, but I sure would after this year.

  111. @133
    I know most of us don’t feel this way right now but, if all goes according to plan, we have many keystone players in the lineup including the best catcher in baseball, the best power hitting 2nd baseman in the NL, the best base stealer in baseball, a ROY first baseman, and (in 2010)the best prospect in baseball that put up one of the best 20 y.o. seasons in history.

    Let’s hope they can all make us believe again.

  112. I don’t even know what Moneyball is now. I guess it has something to do with encouraging hitters to be patient and walk a lot. It apparently spawned a lot of the advanced statistics in play, such as WAR.

    I’m not sure that’s all good. As an analytical tool, these stats probably make sense. But I’m not sure it’s at all good for baseball as a sport. A lot of the things that sabermetricians advocate as sound strategy–don’t steal bases generally, take a lot of pitches, and so forth–really don’t make the game more appealing to watch. At least some of the problem with the interminable Yankee-Red Sox games is that they take so many pitches and foul off so many balls. Now, don’t get me wrong, I want to see the Braves do this too because it’s effective. But, it makes the game slower and less exciting. People like Joe Simpson get a lot of crap on here for advocating small ball and such, but, I’m not sure small ball wouldn’t be a lot more fun to watch than a bunch of slow guys standing around trying to hit the ball out of the park. (I exaggerate, obviously, to make a point.)

    I agree, by the way, with the premise that the Braves are lacking a “cornerstone” player, such as a Pujols. Heyward is obviously supposed to be that player. If the Braves had had Stanton this year instead of Heyward, I suspect the season would have turned out a lot differently. I know people will disagree but I just don’t see McCann as a cornerstone player. He’s a very good player who benefits, to some extent, from the lack of catching talent in baseball. In any event, it’s hard for a catcher to carry a team because of the demands of the position.

  113. Agreed. Optimized baseball isn’t necessarily entertaining baseball. A Red Sox / Yankees game is pretty much unwatchable to me. I’d be more forgiving for Braves games where each at bat seemed interminable. I root for the laundry, after all. But still, it’s horrifically boring as entertainment.

    *quibble (because it’s expected of me at this point, I suppose): Sabermetrics doesn’t argue that you shouldn’t steal bases. Sabermetrics argues that if you’re going to steal bases, you better win more than you lose. During the height of the offensive “silly ball” era, the break even point for SB success rates was something like 75%. Get caught more than once out of every four attempts and you hurt your team. I suspect that rate is lower in the 2011 offensive environment, but still, the point is not “don’t steal.” The point is “don’t get thrown out trying to steal.”

    If you can take it, take it. But don’t give that out away trying.

  114. At least Heyward didn’t have Domonic Brown’s season.

    Agree that next season, and many after that, hinge on him. All we can do is wait.

    DOB positively delighting in Schafer’s arrest on twitter. Kinda funny.

  115. I don’t even know what Moneyball is now.

    [Nimoy]Moneyball is a little tweeting bird chirping in meadow. Moneyball is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.[/Nimoy]

  116. Marc, I’ve been making that same point for years. There is not a more boring player in baseball than Adam Dunn (even when he’s playing well), who best personifies the traditionally sabermetric (to coin a term) approach to the game.

  117. I would be much more entertained by the Braves winning while their opponents you by bunting and stealing a lot.
    I would have also been much more enteratined by some moderately deep fly balls with guys on 3rd and less than two outs. Do batters take sacrifice fly practice alongside bunting practice? The Braves generally weren’t very good at either, though Fredi gave them a lot of in-game bunting practice.

    I have a suspicion that Freddi came to hate Heyward after learning that bunting wasn’t a strength of his.

  118. On Heyward,
    Has a consensus been formed here about what happened?
    I know that at the end of 2010, Heyward seemed to have a very good eye and good discipline, but good pitchers discovered they could pitch him in. However, if they made a mistake, he made them pay.

    In early 2011 this continued a little, and Heyward was also trying to make adjustments to close that weakness. But the result seemed to be making everything weaker. So now he didn’t even hit the pitches he used to kill, his batting eye worsened. Everything was worse, even his outfield arm. He even seemed to look thinner and weaker.

    Has anyone run those side by side videos breaking down his swing/approach?

  119. Does being a cornerstone player entail playing more than 120 to 130 games a year?

    That’s the question we ought to be asking when discussing the topic of “cornerstone” players.

  120. Depends on the nature of “cornerstone.” McCann certainly provides stability for the offense going forward, being a young, offensive force at a traditionally weak offensive position. But he can’t provide the same force the same player would provide if he were a 3B or an OF, because as a C he’s going to miss 30 games a year at least.

    I like Freeman and Heyward to bounce back next year. I still think Heyward’s too good to be this bad for the long haul. I’m not sold on a bounce back by Prado, so I’d definitely be looking for a LF option. Willingham’s 800 OPS in Oakland, in the 2011 environment, is nothing to sneeze at. RH power, which translates to Turner Field better than LH power.

  121. @149,

    Sam, agreed.


    Yeah, this is what amazes me, a team that ostensibly believes in bunting but can’t bunt.

  122. 160—Not if he accumulates enough value in the games he plays, which he does, easily.

    So, there’s never been a cornerstone pitcher, ever?

  123. I’d like to think that the best player at his position in the game is a cornerstone. Like Johnny Bench?

  124. Sorry for the cheekiness, but I said that merely to reveal that I think there are two standards involved in discussing cornerstone players, i.e. players you want to build the rest of the team around. Hitters over here, pitchers over there.

    To relate it to pitchers, I think that coming into 2010, it wouldn’t have been irrational to say Jurrjens was one of the Braves cornerstone pitchers. And when he’s taken the mound over the last 2 years, it’s easy to see he’s been one of our most talented pitchers. And he’s young to boot. But he’s made less than half his starts. Who knows if that’ll be the case going forward, but I just don’t have the same feeling about him now that I did before 2011 started.

    Tim Hudson has obviously been a cornerstone for our staff. He makes all his starts, does well in them, and we pay him accordingly. For a starter, you want a guy who you know is going to give you a chance to win virtually every time out.

    In a way, that’s the same case with McCann. He just doesn’t start all of our games. 1 out of every 5 games, you have to dramatically change the lineup and live without the production he provides. McCann wears down as the season goes on, and catchers break down as their careers go on. For a cornerstone hitter, you’re gonna pay cornerstone money; and for a hitter, you want a guy who can play everyday.

  125. An ace starter can be the cornerstone of your *rotation* but not of an entire team. If your team consisted of Greg Maddux circa 1992-95 and league average players everywhere else, you wouldn’t be a championship contender. You’d be the 1991 Cubs.

  126. Since 2006, McCann’s first full season, only 12 NL position players have accumulated more fWAR, and only 16 have accumulated more rWAR. He’s 27 years old and plays the toughest position there is to play.

    Again: Not. Even. Close.

  127. Fair point, Sam. My pitcher comment is off.

    Don’t let that detract from my point that McCann is unequivocally a cornerstone, though.

  128. When looking for a cornerstone position player, I ask myself the following questions:

    Is the player among the top 40 hitters in baseball?

    Here’s a list of players: Pujols, Longoria, Votto, Cabrera, Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, Utley, Holliday, Bautista, Braun, Zimmerman, Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler, Beltre, Fielder, Kemp, Upton, Philips, Granderson, Victorino, Ramirez, McCutchen, Teixeira, Choo, Rodriguez, Ellsbury, Berkman, Gordon, Zobrist, Lawrie, Avila, Gardner, Kendrick, Reyes, and Beltran.

    That’s a list of around 35 names. Where would you place McCann on that list? I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few names, but I think McCann belongs in the discussion as one of the top 40 hitters in baseball.

    Is the player the best at his position?

    Before the season began, I would be tempted to easily say ‘yes’. But look at what Avila has done this year… .295/.389/.506 slash/.383 wOBA. It’s driven by a .366 BABIP, but it’s something to consider. He’s been very, very good.

    If this player was the best position player on your team, would your team make the playoffs?

    McCann was probably the best hitter on the team (along with Heyward) in 2010 (our last year in the playoffs). He’s also had some monster seasons apart from 2010. I would say that the answer to this question is ‘yes’.

    All in all, McCann may or may not be a cornerstone player. But, then again, I don’t think anyone cares. He’s a damn good player, and your team is better with him than without him. I’m glad he’s on the Braves, and I hope he stays on at a team discount.

  129. “An ace starter can be the cornerstone of your *rotation* but not of an entire team. If your team consisted of Greg Maddux circa 1992-95 and league average players everywhere else, you wouldn’t be a championship contender. You’d be the 1991 Cubs.”

    Actually, assuming that the normal team wins 81 games, a 9 WAR pitcher like Halladay could get you to 90 wins and a playoff spot.

  130. @171 – But that’s true of any single player, pitcher or not. Wins are wins, regardless of who they come from. An 8 win pitcher has exactly as much influence on a team as an 8 win catcher. Good starting pitchers get 20 AB every 5th day, starting first basemen get 4 AB every day for five days. Same difference, unless you believe in the existence of inspirational leaders who boost the performance of those around them just by taking the field everyday.

    Edit: Or what desert said.

  131. Also, a team of legitimately average players with one 6-8 win superstar would be pretty good. Very few teams can put together rosters devoid of below-average players.

    Edit: Dangit, what desert said again.

  132. I dont know, its an interesting argument. Take Detroit for example. Justin Verlander has to be considered a cornerstone player for them. Without him, do they make the playoffs?

  133. Not sure that answers my question, Stu. Is rWAR “wins above replacement” or “wins above replacement, by position?”

  134. Whoops, editing failure.

    Assuming that a league average team wins 81 games, a 9 WAR pitcher could get you to 88 wins (assuming he’s replacing a 2 WAR average SP) and a playoff spot. That being said, it’s much easier to find a 9 WAR position player than a 9 WAR pitcher.

  135. Wins are wins, regardless of who they come from.

    Wins come from teams, not players. Not to run down the rabbit whole of the fallacy of translating runs/runs saved into “wins” for a player, but an “8 win pitcher” is, what, exactly?

  136. Justin Verlander has to be considered a cornerstone player for them. Without him, do they make the playoffs?

    Miggy Cabrera, plus Avila coming on at C.

  137. @180 – WAR of any flavor normalizes positional scarcity and the difficulty of playing any given position. A 2 WAR catcher has provided the same value as a 2 WAR 1st baseman, though the 1st baseman will have been a better hitter.

  138. @184

    Then isn’t it double counting to quote McCann’s rWAR and then say he plays the toughest position? His rWAR already accounts for his positional advantage, no?

  139. 183,

    An 8 win pitcher would get you 8 more victories than your average, run-of-the mill AAA player in MLB. An 8 win pitcher would prevent 80 more runs from scoring compared to the scrub.

    Teams are composed of players. Player’s performances, in unison, create wins (something about corporations?). Don’t believe that Avila is any less or more valuable than Verlander. The best player on that team is Verlander.

  140. 187,

    Yes, we shouldn’t double count, but that doesn’t detract from the point that Stu is making- 13th best is really, really good. As is 17th best in baseball.

  141. @183 – An 8 win pitcher is one who has added value equivalent to 8 additional wins to his team compared to what they would’ve gotten with some fungible scrub in his place, obviously not in discreet 1-win increments though. If Bob Gibson pitches a complete game shutout with 27 strikeouts that required no special framing skills by his catcher to achieve, then he’ll have been responsible for damn near one win all by himself in one day. Otherwise, he’s just responsible for a portion of a win, and at the end of the season you add up all the portions of wins he’s been responsible for all year, and, in a good year, he’s been responsible for 8, cobbled together wins.

  142. 190,



    It’s not a fallacy. You can look for yourself. Take historical data of team records and the differences between runs scored/runs allowed. You’ll find that, historically, for every extra 10 run differential between runs allowed and runs saved, a team has netted an additional win.

  143. Then isn’t it double counting to quote McCann’s rWAR and then say he plays the toughest position?

    I was restating part of the argument, not double-counting anything.

  144. I don’t doubt the correlation. Nor do I doubt, in earnest, the causation. There’s some causal relationship there. But I do doubt the reductive logic that says a player can be broken down into discreet run units and then those discrete run units can be reassembled to functionally model “wins.” Certainly, you want players who score runs (on offense) and prevent runs (on defense.) But I am not sold on the absolute validity of reconstructing win values off of deconstructed “runs.”

  145. Congratulations, Texas. Now go lose to the Tigers in the ALCS so I don’t feel as crappy about that Teixeira trade.

  146. 193,

    Regardless of us wanting to believe it, it’s true. And there is a lot of (an incredible amount, actually) of research to back up the fact that there is a very strong causal relationship between run differential and record, and the validity of taking a player’s performance and applying it towards a team’s number of wins. That’s the basis for baseball research.

    I’m not trying to prove that you’re wrong, or demonstrate that your understanding is incomplete or incorrect. But statistical analysis has shored up a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about this game through math. That’s all it is, and I think you’d enjoy sabermetric analysis.

    Good God, I sound like those missionaries that visit me.

  147. Sam knows the math well; he also knows McCann is a cornerstone player by any reasonable definition of “cornerstone” — he’s just doing what he does.

  148. 197,

    I don’t mind him. This blog wouldn’t have its charm without some intelligent/creative responses for the consensus opinion. It’s a lot better than having a certain poster around.

    I mean, the argument, on the whole, is dumb. Who cares whether he’s a cornerstone players or not? My life is no way (I mean, at all) different whether I consider McCann to be one or not. If we’re arguing over baseless things, why not have some intelligent debate over it?

    Speaking of life… saw the Lion King in 3D the other night. I loved it; brought back some awesome memories.

  149. I think the concept of a “cornerstone player” is itself flawed, to be honest. McCann’s a great player. He’s a bargain at his contracted price. He helps the Braves win. I don’t think anyone has argued otherwise. But he loses value in that he’s not on the field every day, a regardless of how many linear weighted run values he adds on the days he’s in the lineup, the days he’s not there are tougher wins for the team. (It’s good to have David Ross around, isn’t it?)

    I think the idea of a “cornerstone” player has to be a young player around which you build. So McCutchen could be a “cornerstone” in Pittsburgh, and Heyward could be the “next cornerstone” in Atlanta, but Mac’s aging out of that future-building block role a little.

    None of this is to insult McCann, who is a fantastic player (when not injured, obviously.)

  150. 199—Words have meaning, and McCann has a certain quantifiable value. I don’t really care about assigning specific adjectives to him, but I do care about understanding how good he is. To the extent that folks argue with his “cornerstone” status, they are wrong, based on the above-referenced word meaning and quantifiable value, and it’s worth getting to the heart of that wrongness. IMO.

    And if you think arguing about stuff like this is dumb, I’m not sure why you spend so much time on an internet message board.

    200—Well, we may disagree about what “cornerstone” means, after all. I’m arguing based on the meaning which I believe Marc assigned it above in starting this whole tangent. McCann is easily one of the best players in the league, and it’s generally a pretty good idea to build your team around a guy like that.

  151. It seems weird to be still worrying about a deal that brought us the type of OBP-god that we’re all sort of sad we don’t have these days, doesn’t it?

  152. 200,

    Because there is a ton of stuff on this blog that has real-life application. I like this place. You’re implying that his opinion should be immediately thrown out because it is not based on direct evidence; I’m saying that it’s a pretty absurd thing to argue over, and so even if his reasoning is absurd (which it’s not), it should still be considered. Whether McCann is or is considered a cornerstone player tells you little to nothing about his value; there are much more accurate tools out there.

    All in all though, I agree with your argument regarding McCann.

  153. Whether McCann is or is considered a cornerstone player tells you little to nothing about his value; there are much more accurate tools out there.

    But the argument/conversation, as I read it, is as much about the accuracy of “value” as it is over the definition of “cornerstone.”

  154. 203—You are playing the misplaced voice of reason, trying to dictate what should and shouldn’t be argued about. Talk about absurd…

    I never said anything normative about opining; I only said that I disagree with a specific opinion.

    204—Yep. When I read that McCann isn’t “a cornerstone player,” I interpret that as “one of the most valuable players in the league,” and it’s that interpretation I’ve been arguing against, using quantifiable measures. If that’s not the intended interpretation, that’s fine, because all I’m opining on is real value.

  155. WAR, what is it good for? (Sorry, sorry …)

    Re: McCann. Sigh. Everyone will hate me.

    Yeah, he’s probably a cornerstone player for the Braves just as Heyward is a cornerstone player for the Braves.

    When your cornerstone players don’t come through for you when your team desperately needs it, you end up a .500 team.

    I shudder to think what McCann and Heyward’s numbers were in September. In hindsight, the Braves would have been FAR better served to have played Ross and Constanza in their stead. I can quite nearly guarantee we’d have made the playoffs had we done so.

    Pretty shaky cornerstone, I’m afraid.

  156. In that I’ve yet to call anyone anything that would make anyone’s mother blush, I am not (personally) having an argument, except in the staid Aristotelian sense of “arguments.”

  157. I am wholly unpersuaded by the “words have meaning” tact. The entire conversation is about what it means to be a “cornerstone” player, if that term is even meaningful at all. Arguing back to it as if it is already established is the very definition of begging the question.

  158. 206—Yeah, a 27-year-old who’s been one of the 13-17 best players in the league over the first six years of his career is shaky.

    It’s one thing to complain about his recent, awful end-of-season, but it’s ridiculous to make any remotely negative big-picture assessments of the player. He’s a stud and has been since he entered the league. Seriously, who else are you waiting to build around?

    208—I begged and then immediately answered the question by providing you with the definition I’m using. You’re right that I managed to obscure the point of my Aristotelian argument.

  159. I can’t believe there is even a discussion about McCann. He plays as many games as Chipper and you can’t say he isn’t a corner stone player.

  160. I shudder to think what McCann and Heyward’s numbers were in September. In hindsight, the Braves would have been FAR better served to have played Ross and Constanza in their stead. I can quite nearly guarantee we’d have made the playoffs had we done so.

    Nobody can guarantee a counterfactual. But out of curiosity, what was it about Constanza’s 4 for 24 in September–with no extra base hits–that makes you so certain that he would have bested Heyward’s .375 September OBP, excellent outfield defense, and very good base-running?

  161. @206 – Since we ended the season well over .500, I assume you’re attributing that fact to Cornerstone Heyward coming through with his 2nd best month of the season in September, when the team really needed it.

  162. Pravda firing up the ol’ character assassination mill… hey, those Harley rides with Fredi cost something.

    But at the same time, there are plenty who question whether Heyward has all that it takes, including physical and mental toughness, to become a consistent, elite player year after year in the 162-game grind of major league baseball.

    No names attached to the “plenty” natch, although I presume we can include the author.

  163. I don’t see a whole lot of positive in that article. You could a
    most feel Wren and Gonzales’ frustration.

  164. Egads, is this blog about baseball or about posters, their personalities, and everyone else’s need to one-up?

    Ignore. Move on (not a reference to the political NGO).

  165. @213, Oh, but for the days of ST ’10, when DOB couldn’t stop salivating over Heyward.

    I understand Wren’s frustration. We all agree, the team as currently constructed depends on Heyward producing.

    But this is oh so very bad. Either Heyward really is a gigantic wuss, or the Braves are heading down the road towards doing something very, very dumb.

    Now do people agree that Chipper’s public criticism of Heyward was management-orchestrated?

  166. Anyone else up for a Prado dump? He’s going to get expensive and he can’t be an adequate everyday left fielder.

  167. Give DOB a little credit…

    ajcbraves David O’Brien
    Agreed. RT @lingsched: @ajcbraves You would think Prado is much more expendable than Heyward in terms of OF upgrade due to ceiling

  168. I’m still of the opinion that Heyward’s swing needs a near complete overhaul. That’s not something that seems doable while playing in the majors and at the level that we need him to play at (eventually). If we could get value then I’d trade him, but we probably can’t get value , and he’s cheap to begin with, so might as well ride it out and see what happens. Chipper as player/coach works for me – maybe he can make some progress with Jason.

  169. When I take shots at people hearing/reading what they want to hear, rather than what is actually said, I’m talking about the sort of thing we see @213. There is nothing remotely “character assassination” about that write-up. It’s as balanced as you’re ever going to see. Heyward’s agent and Heyward himself are quoted at length, and everyone is more or less on the same page. “Heyward has to get healthy, stay healthy and produce.” From this spike works himself into a “Pravda” lather. Because…who knows why.

    Look at the full two paragraphs from whence spike takes his quote:

    Few people in baseball will be shocked if Heyward bounces back from an alarming second season – .227 average, .319 on-base percentage, 34 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs – with a performance in 2012 that more closely resembles his ‘10 season — .277/.393/52/72 — when he was The Sporting News’ major league rookie of the year.

    But at the same time, there are plenty who question whether Heyward has all that it takes, including physical and mental toughness, to become a consistent, elite player year after year in the 162-game grind of major league baseball.

    The “plenty” in the second paragraph clearly references the pool of “people in baseball” from the preceding paragraph. Basically, there’s no reason other than paranoia and confirmation bias to assume that the “plenty” of “people in baseball” who “question whether Heyward has all that it takes” are even part of the Braves’ organization. It could be sourced to a scout from the Marlins or Phillies, or Ed Wade for all we know from this.

    O’Brien then goes on for another TWENTY SIX (short) paragraphs explaining how no one in the Braves thinks Heyward is anything other than the future, but with more work to be done to restore the trajectory of his career path. About half of those paragraphs are devoted to Jason Heyward quotes, or quotes from Heyward’s agent, or quotes from Fredi Gonzalez backing up his player by talking about how he’s “just a puppy” and how he’s only 22 and needs to work on the off season to get back on track but otherwise “It’s not like he’s over-the-hill and he’s never going to get it fixed.”

    To post this piece and quote it as evidence of a “character assassination” from the organization is to make a fool of yourself in public.

  170. FWIW, my take on the word “cornerstone” is they are the players that are gonna get the precious few fat, long-term contracts you can have on your team at any one time.

    Right now we’ve got four guys on our roster whose 2011 salary was $9m or more: Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Dan Uggla, and Chipper Jones. B-Mac came in 5th with a salary of $6.7m.

    My thing is, if our team can only afford four “Big Dog” contracts, should one of them go to a hitter who isn’t in the lineup every day? It’s nice to have an elite catcher, but to make him the central identity of your offense like you would Chipper Jones (the 1995-2009 version) or Dan Uggla (like it or not he’s a cornerstone)?

    We’re lucky to have a guy who isn’t an offensive negative backing up B-Mac, but that comes at a price, too. Last year, our catcher combo cost us almost $8.5m total.

    I just looked through the rosters of all the playoff teams: Yankees, Rays, Tigers, Rangers, D’Backs, Brewers, Phillies and Cardinals, and none of them have catchers anywhere close to being their top paid player.

  171. To post this piece and quote it as evidence of a “character assassination” from the organization is to make a fool of yourself in public.

    That may be. But why don’t you just make your case like a gentleman and let us be the judge whether a longtime contributor is a “fool” or not. I don’t expect everything I write to be perfectly thought through. Sometimes I’m in a hurry and have something on my mind and throw it out there. I don’t mind being critiqued on my commentary, but I’m not in it to be called a “fool”, something you seem to like to do as a matter of routine.

  172. #213 – The only issue I have with the article are the quotes from Heyward talking about his nagging injuries and wanting to get those checked out, while Wren says there isnt any injury there.

    Jason – “I don’t know if it’s back-related, neck-related or whatever,” Heyward said. “I just feel like, get to the bottom of whatever it is. I mean, because I don’t feel like it’s better, as far as 100 percent. It still nags me. I just want to get to the root of the problem. Just take the time, because it’s my career and I owe it to myself to most definitely get that checked. I just want to know, is there anything I can do to feel better?”

    Wren – “There are no health issues.”

    Most of the time you have to listen to the player if they say something is nagging them, but Wren seems fairly confident with whatever the Braves docs are disclosing to him and the team. Is this Heyward just trying to find an excuse to write off this seasons numbers and save some confidence?

  173. In fairness, people have been worrying about Heyward’s potential fragility since he set foot in the minor leagues and got bugged by periodic nagging injuries. It was literally the only issue, since his minor league career was otherwise stratospherically brilliant, arguably the best minor league position player since Justin Upton.

  174. Other than deciding who is going to be our starting shortstop and signing a few cheap veterans to create spring training competition for a couple of bench slots, I don’t see anything else that needs doing.

  175. #213–Thanks for the link….Victor Menocal resurfaces as an agent….

    No tears for Jordan Schafer and, yes, I think the Braves probably saw this coming for a long time….

  176. In terms of player procurement, I mean. There’s the usual contractual stuff, finding a batting coach, etc.

  177. Are we starting the rosterbation? I’m so excited.

    SP Hanson
    SP Hudson
    SP Jurrjens
    SP Beachy
    SP Teheran
    SP Minor
    SP Delgado
    SP Lowe (Yeah, he’ll be given a chance in spring training. Here’s to hoping he blows it like a breathalyzer)

    RP Kimbrel
    RP Venters
    RP O’Flaherty
    RP Moylan
    RP Medlen
    RP Vizcaino
    RP Marthinez

    Yeah, that’s the making of a great staff. An incredibly great staff, actually. I was apprehensive about it before, but I’m definitely thinking one of Jurrjens/Hanson get moved. There’s 8 viable starting options, and 6-7 above-average relievers.

    C McCann
    C Ross
    IF Jones
    IF Uggla
    IF Freeman
    IF Conrad (yeah, I’m guessing he stays based on the reserve-Chipper requirement)
    OF Heyward
    OF Bourn
    OF Prado
    OF Diaz
    OF Hinske

    So, we need a SS and a backup infielder. Apart from that, this team looks set. And, quite frankly, outside of Boston/NY, I don’t think I’d take another team’s collection (along with monetary and situational circumstance) of talent over ours. This is going to be a pretty dang good team if it can take a walk. Looking at financials, I’m guessing around 97 million committed payroll next year.

    63 million for Lowe, Jones, Uggla, Hudson, McLouth-eww, McCann, and Ross.

    Jurrjens-ARB2- 6 million, Prado-2-5 million, Moylan-3-4 million, O’Flaherty-2-2 million, Medlen-1- 1.5 million, Bourn-3-7 million total 25.5 million.

    Hinske- 1.5 million, Diaz-2 million

    12 rookies@ 450,00 average- 5.4 million.

    Total: 97 million committed.

    Of course, that can’t be correct, so I’ll leave you to correct me to as where the money is being tallied incorrectly (probably my arb guesses). But, all in all, if the older players don’t fall off a cliff, and the younger players age appropriately, and the middle-aged players play to career norms (where have I heard that before?), great team.

  178. I probably missated when I said McCann isn’t a cornerstone player. I define a cornerstone player as someone you build your team around; not necessarily the only one but one. By that measure, McCann is a cornerstone player. He is a terrific player. But much of his value comes from being a catcher; if he played first base or the outfield and put up similar numbers, I don’t think he would be considered elite. (Maybe he would do better if he wasn’t catching but that’s another argument.) My point is that it’s a problem if the catcher is the best player on the team, unless, perhaps, he is a Johnny Bench or even a Mike Piazza. Catchers miss too many games and get too banged up. I just think McCann is not capable of being the guy you hang the offense around and they need someone that you can.

  179. @232 – Seems unlikely that Moylan will be back. He almost has to be non-tendered at this point, right? Maybe offered a minor league deal?

  180. @232, Based on Wren’s recent comments, I think it’s safe to say they’re done with Lowe. He may pitch in ST, but I think it’ll only be to showcase him for other teams.

  181. Vavaro will be in the pen. Vizcaino will either become trade bait or back in the minors.

    Lowe wont be in the rotation, he’ll either be a very expensive long man or traded. Medlen is the one to watch.

  182. #232 – How much are you showing being committed to Nate? I dont think we’ll see arb offered to Moylan.

  183. Either Heyward really is a gigantic wuss, or the Braves are heading down the road towards doing something very, very dumb.

    Or both… I mean, even if he’s a wuss, it would be an enormous mistake to trade the Heyward we thought we were getting during 2010.

  184. mhr at 234,

    If Braves don’t offer arb before he is an FA, Moylan can’t come back until May 15. Braves won’t pay the likely arb salary. They can sign him for 80% of 2010 pay if Moylan wants that. I don’t think the Braves will do that. I think they move on.

    Too many $400,000 arms that can replicate or exceed Moylan (and I think he is a #2 bull pen righthander).

    IF the Braves are going to pay over minimum on any reliever other than EOF, it will be another lefthander (Sherrill at around what he got last year wouldn’t be bad).

  185. desert at 232,

    You aren’t including a salary for McLouth, are you? The Braves owe a payment for NOT picking up his option. Under “Braves accounting” that has already been paid. So, no effect of McLouth on 2012 payroll.

    Assuming that was a mistake, the $90 million is about right, but delete Moylan. So, without moving money, there isn’t much money to add.

  186. Moylan’s done. Loved the guy, but a shoulder injury on top of a lost season to back injuries, for a fungible part of the bullpen.

    Medlen is 2012’s Moylan.

  187. I wouldn’t object to bringing back JD Drew if we could make the numbers work. Make Prado a rover as Drew, Heyward, and Chipper deal w/their assorted injuries throughout the year.

  188. SP Hanson
    SP Hudson
    SP Jurrjens
    SP Beachy
    SP Minor

    AAA “break in case of emergency” starters, barring a trade of one of the above: SP Teheran, SP Delgado, SP Vizcaino

    RP Kimbrel
    RP Venters
    RP O’Flaherty
    RP Medlen
    RP Vavaro
    RP Marthinez

    AAA “break in case of emergency” relievers: Vizcaino, J.J. Hoover, Jairo Ascensio, Stephen Marek

    That’s your 12 man pitching staff.

    C McCann
    C Ross
    1B Freeman
    2B Uggla
    3B Jones
    RF Heyward
    CF Bourn
    LF/IF Prado
    OF Diaz
    1B/OF Hinske

    That’s 23, counting “TBD” as the starting SS. You need a backup SS as well, so Pastornicky or Hicks has to be on the ML roster too. That leaves you with a final bench bat or a 13th pitcher. Given the obscene depth of pitching at AAA, I’d go with the bat, and given Prado’s flexibility I’d go with a RH power hitter that can play the OF or maybe 1B, not Brooks Conrad.

  189. J.D. Drew is 35 years old. His OPS+ for the last five years:

    105, 137, 133, 109, 68

    That’s not a good trend line.

    His slash stats for his 81 games in 2011: 222/315/302

    He might have some sort of bounce back season left in him, but he’s old and he hasn’t show much life in two years now.

  190. I don’t get the Heyward bashing. He is only 22. You don’t hear stories about him asking out of games, or telling the coaches to shove off (except on the AJC Blog). He seems receptive and wants to learn.

    Frenchy got all the passes in the world by the fans and he whinned a lot. He never changed his approach at all. Heyward seems to try to hit the other way, be more agressive, so on…

    I just don’t get it. I don’t want to think race has anything to do with fans saying he has a bad attitude, but there might be some of that.

  191. Trying to remember – the JD Drew experience was less than satisfying as I recall but can’t remember what the deal was.

    Look, I love McCann. He’s my favorite Brave and maybe Marc Schneider @ 233 has pinpointed my McCann angst. I just think the FO is making a strategic miscalculation if they are regarding him as THE cornerstone player. (Batting him fourth would seem to indicate they do.)

    Bat him fifth or sixth, live with his slightly-above average defensive skills, use David Ross more often and be really happy to have such a great guy on the team.

    But if an organization overvalues a good player, they won’t go looking for that great player.

    The above is admittedly poorly thought out, but it has long bothered me that I’ve got this negative chorus in my head about a really good player that I happen to really like as a person. Thanks, Marc, I think you figured it out for me.

  192. Drew gave the Braves everything you could ask for from an OF when he was here. A slash line of 305/436/569 with superb defense over 145 games. When you account for games played, probably his career best year.

    What might be nagging at you is that in order to get that one year of Drew the Braves gave up Adam Wainwright, who the Cards then tore down (after an injury in the minors) and turned into, well, Adam Wainwright.

  193. Realistic SS and OF free agent targets:

    1. Alex Gonzalez
    2. Jack Wilson
    3. Clint Barmes (bleck)
    4. Rafael Furcal
    5. Marco Scutaro (if his option is declined)

    In a weak SS market (after Reyes), it’s easy to see a few of the above listed getting multi-year deals. Hopefully we won’t be one of the teams that stupid. Trading for a SS seems to be a lot more likely assuming the Braves don’t see Pastornicky ready.

    However, if the Braves do see Pastornicky ready, there are plenty of Utility guys that would be worth looking at:

    Utility Free Agent targets:
    1. Jerry Hairston, jr
    2. Jamey Carrol
    3. Nick Punto (probably a flukey good year)
    4. Edgar Renteria (if he doesnt retire)

    OF Free Agent targets:
    1. Scott Hairston
    2. Ryan Ludwick
    3. Reed Johnson
    4. Josh Willingham
    5. Mark DeRosa (could be brought back on a Minor League assignment to see if he has anything left)
    6. Juan Rivera
    7. Andruw Jones (screw nostalgia, Andruw has played well in a part-time role for 3 straight years)
    8. David Dejesus (buy low?)
    9. J.D. Drew
    10. Jason Kubel
    11. Michael Cuddyer

    Out of those options, assuming Pastornicky isn’t ready, and assuming we go 1-year deals with 7 million or less committed to the pair, I’d take Andruw and Alex.

    If Pastornicky is assumed ready, I’d go with Carroll and Andruw.

  194. Drew sat out a few too many games early in the season for Chipper and Mark “Red-Ass” DeRosa, and they called him out on it. And not in the blown-all-out-of-proportion sense of Chipper’s Heyward comments, either. Like, actually. Drew got back in the lineup and had a fantastic year, but the PR damage was significant.

  195. I expect SS/backup MI to be Alex Gonzalez and Jack Wilson, with Pastornicky getting a full year of AAA. If the Braves saw Pastornicky as an option for the 2012 ML roster they would have called him up for a September cup of coffee this year. They didn’t (only calling him up at the very end when Gonzalez got hurt.)

    If not Gonzalez or Wilson, probably Furcal.

  196. @244 Wren’s comments–he said that the team’s biggest offseason needs are corner outfielder, shortstop, and utility infield–suggest that they might sign an outfielder. Whether that spells doom for Prado or Heyward’s starting spot, or Diaz’s spot on the roster, I don’t know.

    @250 I like Willingham, but I suspect that’s because I like Prado less than you do. But even if Prado can return to 2009-10 form, it’d be great to be able to play a 3-win player in LF and 3B all the time, even when Chipper was out with an injury.

    As far as shortstops, I think that we’re going to see AAG back with us, but I keep having this nagging suspicion that they’re going to make another run at Furcal. Depends on money, of course.

  197. I cannot imagine Furcal back next year, institutional memory being what it is.

  198. @254 – I agree. I’d sort of repressed Furcal-gate, but now that you’ve reminded me, I think you’re right. I doubt Frank Wren calls up Furcal’s agent this winter.

  199. I dont know if we’d want Furcal battling Chipper for the most time missed on that side of the infield.

  200. @247,

    Hank, I think you and I feel the same about McCann.

    “I don’t want to think race has anything to do with fans saying he has a bad attitude, but there might be some of that.”

    You can’t discount that in the South, even now. Francouer was the golden boy in a way that no African-American player can ever be. I remember when Herschel Walker left UGA after his junior year and after having been used as a plowhorse by Vince Dooley for three years, there were racial-related comments about his “disloyalty.”

    But I think more of it is simply frustration over his performance. It has nothing to do with whether he actually has a bad attitude or not. It’s like when people attribute the Braves collapse to not caring. People are just looking for something to explain why he played poorly. It’s difficult for fans to understand that guys can be trying but just struggling.

    But as far as Heyward bashing, I don’t see it with the organization. He had a bad year. They are concerned about it. It’s not as if he had five good years and one bad year.

  201. Assumming Prado, Heyward, Uggla, and McCann all perform up to expectations for the entire year, I’d love to see this roster:

    1. Bourn
    2. Lowrie (traded for Delgado)
    3. Chipper
    4. Uggla
    5. BMac
    6. Freeman
    7. Heyward
    8. Prado

    1. Hudson
    2. Jurrjens
    3. Hanson
    4. Beachy
    5. Minor

    1. Venters
    2. Kimbrel
    3. Medlen
    4. O’Flaherty
    5. Varvaro
    6. Lisp
    7. Hoover

    1. Ross
    2. Hinske
    3. Carroll
    4. Andruw
    5. Diaz

  202. Thanks for the link @ 258, Ray.

    I got sidetracked reading another article in there that speculates that the Rays will end up in New Jersey.

  203. #259 – Id rather trade Jurrjens for Lowrie. Dont think the Braves will want to plan on Jurrjens and Hanson being healthy all year. Plus it opens up a little cap space.

  204. Could someone explain to me the fascination with Jed Lowrie?

    OPS+ (since 2008) – 90, 21, 139, 83
    oWAR (since 2008) – 0.8, -0.3, 1.8, 0.7

    He had a really good 2010. He’s 28. Why all the love for this guy?

  205. @264
    Jed started his Minor League career out at the age of 21. He has always carried a high walk rate and has shown above average power for a shortstop.

    For the first 2 months of this season, Lowrie was flat gettin’ it. At the end of the 2nd month, he was injured and tried to play through it causing his injury to worsen. By mid-June his #s were tanking and he was placed on the DL where he stayed for a month and a half.

    Thus far, his numbers against RHP have been ugly, but he utterly destroys LHP (.919 OPS). His scouting report in the Minors was balanced production from both sides of the plate so those numbers will probably stabilize with more play. In my opinion, if healthy, Lowrie is an average defensive SS with a good stick. He has an extremely high contact and walk rate which most definitely matches the needs of this team.

  206. Prado, Jurrjens, Lowe + 10 million for Matt Kemp. The Dodgers would at least have to listen, right?

  207. #268 – Not a chance, on the Dodgers end. The $10mil offsets Lowe’s decrease in value, much less the concerns about Jurrjens and Prado’s health.

  208. 238,

    I’m just factoring in the buyout for McLouth (1.250 million).

    I’m actually kind of loving the Delgado for Lowrie idea. It may actually be feasible.

    No, the Dodgers are not going to trade Matt Kemp. They just aren’t. It isn’t happening.

  209. I don’t want to trade Delgado for some chump. That kid really looks good and pitched well. Lowrie looks to me like too much of a risk. Why trade a stud like Delgado who really pitched well down the stretch for a guy who was injured and has a record of underperformance? Shouldn’t we be aiming a little higher if we’re going to part with Delgado?

  210. In Peanut’s latest piece, he says, without a trade, the Braves will probably have 10 million to spend on a middle infielder and shortstop (and maybe an outfielder).

    Torii Hunter/Derek Lowe bad contract swap?

  211. 274,

    Ten million? That’s a lot more than I expected. On Lowrie– if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a good player. He hasn’t been healthy for a full season since he’s been in the bigs. That being said, although we don’t need another injury prone player in the left side of our infield, we certainly don’t need Alex Gonzalez again.

    The problem with Delgado is the same as the problem with all other prospects. We, as Braves fans, expect them to hit their ceilings. They almost always don’t. Delgado’s no exception. He (most probably) isn’t going to be a #2 starting pitcher.

  212. Lowrie’s major injuries have been: mono, and a nerve problem in his shoulder that the Sox medical staff misdiagnosed this season, which was exacerabted by this mistreatment. I’d be willing to send Delgado over for him.

  213. Jerry Hairston, Sr. is a minor league batting coach for the White Sox. Let’s hire him, sign Jerry, Jr. and Scott, write one check for $4 million, and let them divide it up however they see fit. Done, done, and done, see you in late February.

  214. @ 273: I too prefer to keep Delgado. I dream, but could we not at least begin by offering Lowe plus organizational filler?

  215. 280,

    I think you definitely begin by offering Lowe and more crap, but the Red Sox aren’t dumb enough to trade a guy that could be an above-average starting MLB SS for a guy that has a best-case scenario of putting up a 5.00 ERA in the AL East. Other teams aren’t that dumb.

  216. I’m not sure I’m sold on Delgado, who looked like the best SP prospect of the big three during his time in the bigs, for an injury prone SS with iffy defense and a stick. “He’s better than Alex Gonzalez” is not an argument for trading Delgado for him.

  217. Right, because there’s no profanity-laced ad hominem attached. Or are you talking about another Aristotelian argument?

  218. Nah, we dont need another lefty in the lineup. Cmon guys, you should know that by now.

    Id still rather trade Jurrjens at $6-7mil instead of Delgado.

  219. How about we just call up the Yankees and tell them they can have Lowe for that stand-up comedian / vendor of theirs and spend the money on, oh, i don’t know, Joe Maddon?

  220. 290,

    You go ahead and explain to me what part of that proposal is dumb, and I’ll admit my mistake.

  221. You mean, other than the part where you propose that the Braves part with very little surplus value in exchange for a great deal of surplus value?

    I don’t care whether you “admit” a “mistake” — I’m just saying, that proposal looks ridiculously lopsided. Jurrjens is gimpy and going to be well-paid.

  222. @295 Jurrjens could not bring back Bogaerts on his own. Theo, or whomever replaces him if he leaves, would hang up the phone in a fit of hysterical laughter. Bogaerts is potentially the best bat they have coming through the system right now.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: folks here drastically overrate Jurrjens’ value on the trade market. He hasn’t played a complete season since 2009, his peripherals are the kind that scare away suitors, and he’s going to make $6-7 million. He probably has the most value to the Braves, frankly.

  223. 296,

    There’s no one in that deal that’s guaranteed at surplus value coming from the Sox. Lowrie is entering his arb years and has been injured often, Kalish has been injured and is quickly becoming their Jordan Schafer, and Bogaerts is nothing more than a lotto ticket.

    You argue as if they’re all going to live up to their ceiling as stars, whereas, in reality, it’d be lucky if two of the three became league-average players. Do you make that trade for someone like Jurrjens? I think so.


    That’s logical. I didn’t know that about Bogaerts.

  224. 297—Probably true, though I hadn’t really thought about it that way. The Braves are in a weird spot with their pitching. They’ve got several guys who are good and ready, but no obvious ways to make room. No obvious ways to make efficient room, anyway. Trading Hanson might make the most sense, even though he’s awesome and it pains me to think of the prospect.

  225. You argue as if they’re all going to live up to their ceiling as stars

    Uh, no, I do not. They have present surplus value that takes into account the chances that they don’t pan out; because they’re paid so little, though, there is very real value there. Jurrjens is worth much closer to zero, taking his salary into account.

    EDIT: But I’m going to go ahead and bow out of this dumb argument, because whether or not this fictitious deal makes any sense for the Red Sox in no way affects my life. ;)

  226. I still think JJ is the best starter to trade, outside of just dumping Lowe of course. JJ isnt too expensive (for most teams) and most people can see that he’s been an effective starter. He can solidify the middle of most rotations and bring back some value. I think JJ for Lowrie isnt a bad deal for either side. Im not that high on Lowrie, but he fills a need and we can plug in Teheran/Medlen/or Delgado for JJ and save plenty of cash.

    Extra: If we got Furcal back, would Lowe be his driver?

  227. They’re probably going to tweak around the edges. What else is there to do? They like Prado, they can’t dump Heyward (nor should they), and they like Pastornicky as a future starter–and therefore aren’t looking for a longterm solution at SS. Plus they’re set at C, 1B, 2B, 3B, and CF in 2012.

    My hope is that they substitute a starting-caliber corner outfielder for Matt Diaz, but that’s probably a pipe dream.

  228. 302,

    Okay, I laughed a little at that.

    Who should get moved, then? Hanson, Beachy, or Minor?


    If they can find a viable starting SS, I think that Prado in LF starts to look a whole lot better. I certainly wouldn’t mind him there.

  229. MLBTR thinks Barmes should be in line for a 2yr/$8mil deal. If thats the case whats AAG’s realistic deal going to look like?

  230. I feel like Jurrjens and a non-elite minor-leaguer (Myke Jones?) for Billy Butler might be workable.

    Yes, I’m going to be talking a lot about Billy Butler this offseason.

  231. 307,

    Barmes silently had a pretty good year, if fWAR (3.1) or rWAR (2.9) can be believed. I thing AAG will get a multiyear deal based solely on defensive reputation and the lack of quality SS in the league, but it shouldn’t be that high.

  232. I want to see what the actual free agent list looks like before I begin rosterbating. But, before then, I say we trade for Ryan Braun. Tonight.

    In other news, we’ve begun the perennial “St. Petersburg doesn’t deserve the Rays” argument. As Braves fans, I think some of the challenges the Braves have experienced regarding lack of fan enthusiasm are evident to the Rays as well.

    Do you guys think the Rays could ever be moved or contracted? If moved, to where? If contracted, who is the player you would draft if you held the first pick in a contraction draft?

  233. I really like Billy Butler, his bat, and his contract, but where would you play him? We have a first baseman we really like, the DH position is unavailable, he would be a butcher at third (and we already have a third baseman), so the only position would be left. He played there for 5 games in 2007, so since playing a big league position with a four year hiatus is pretty much like riding a bike, I’m sure he’s fine.

    This is light-hearted, jovial sarcasm, not mean, antagonistic, and arrogant sarcasm that some people employ in this fair place.

  234. 311,

    Assuming player contracts are maintained and can’t be restructured, I’d take Longoria. I’d hope the Rays don’t get contracted or moved; I think that fanbase apathy in Tampa stems more from the stadium/stadium location over fans actually not caring. I don’t think Tampa is as much of a transplant city as Atlanta. If a team is getting moved/contracted, I’d think it’d be the A’s.

  235. 314—Yeah, left. I know it’s a stretch, but considering the bat, and with Bourn in center…

  236. This is light-hearted, jovial sarcasm, not mean, antagonistic, and arrogant sarcasm that some people employ in this fair place.

    You’re doing it wrong.

  237. Prado has value as a 2nd baseman. Trade him to someone who has a need for a middle infielder. Marteen has shown he can field OK, and hit a bit better than that. As a left fielder or 3rd baseman, his value to us or to a trade partner is reduced.

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