Where Do We Go From Here? Series Preview (written by spike)

Today marks the first caress of a proper fall day in Atlanta. Too soon for me to reflect in any detail upon the playoff, or any of the other bitter pangs in and outside of baseball the passing seasons has wrought– and yet soon enough we must. We carry the reminders of every glove that laid us low, but still we must remain, Scroogelike, awaiting the visit of our third ghost. Like him we dread his coming most of all. In the midst of so much hope, with as many budding young stars as any team, a looming budget issue, and departures and regressions in almost every other department have placed the quest on the edge of a knife – stray but a little in the wrong direction and all is lost, while a very few astute moves will see our fortunes restored and then some. As in previous years, a series of posts will examine the strategic issues in detail. Identifying them is easy – a farm bereft of hitting prospects, further decline from a hoped for-ace pitcher, holes at CF and either LF or 3B, an alarming dropoff from a star catcher coming up for an expensive contract renewal, and an even more alarming continued loss of power from a 2B tied to a hefty deal.

Still there is much to love about the club – Simmons has been able to more than hold his own at the major league level, Heyward, Prado and Freeman turned in remarkable defensive seasons to go with effective, if not quite star level, offensive output. Medlen and Beachy figure to be very good for a long while, Minor has righted the boat, and Kimbrel, well, let’s just leave it at that. There are not enough lumens to quantify the brightness of his future.

My fellows will soon begin to examine the various propositions, players, and possible pitfalls in detail over the near term. In the interim, over the coming midnights dreary, while we ponder weak and weary over many a quaint and curious volume of sabermetric lore, we do so in the full knowledge that even as summer yields to fall, winter inevitably must do as well to spring. The long march to February, when all is right with the world, and every team is tied for first place, begins now.

From the editor, AAR: we’ll be staggering Where Do We Go From Here? posts, player writeups, and other posts across the long offseason. Anyone who wants to contribute is welcome and encouraged to do so — email me at the email address on the top right of the page. Thank you!

136 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? Series Preview (written by spike)”

  1. Thanks, Spike.

    I remain optimistic about this club. Always great to have a crop of good young players. Gonna be some interesting moving pieces this off-season–LF/3B/CF, obviously–but I am psyched for potential full seasons from Beachy & Medlen, in particular.

    BTW, today should be an entertaining day to listen to sports radio in NYC. Will be at Yankee Stadium tonight. Funny how the bandwagon, which was pretty poisonous yesterday, just got bigger.

  2. Raul ‘Horseman of the Apocalypse’ Ibanez? I mean, he looks like Death warmed over to me…

  3. Where we go from here seems to be a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 games in 2013. Not much help on the farm offensively, and the presence of Ben Sheets in the rotation this summer argues against trading away pitching to get bats. I have confidence in Wren’s ability to find decent, low-cost options, but that’s the most that I expect.

    On the other hand, full seasons of Beachy and Medlen are droolworthy. Minor might wind up as the best #4 starter in baseball. And that bullpen looks great even if I still think it needs a Durbinectomy. Prevent enough runs, play lots of games against the LolMets, Fishies, and phading Phillies, and we’ll have a chance to… get screwed over again next October. (Infield fly rule my ass.)

  4. SEC Picks

    Alabama 42 Missouri 3
    Kentucky 10 Arkansas 38
    Auburn 2 Ole Miss 4
    Florida 38 Vanderbilt 10
    South Carolina 21 LSU 20
    Tennessee 28 Mississippi State 30

  5. We won’t have a full season of Beachy – he’s out until at least July – which will be one year since the surgery. I’d say IF he gets back, it will be like Med Dog – late September for a couple of bullpen appearences.

    Let’s get a couple of decent RH outfield bats, move Prado to 3rd, and see where we are. I’m starting to come around on Pagan on a 2 year deal, and maybe we can find a semi-decent LFer somewhere for Hanson and change.

    So, in a perfect world:

    Pagan
    Prado
    Heyward
    Freeman
    Righthanded LFer (Or lefty OF if we can platoon Reed Johnson)
    McCann
    Uggla
    Simmons

    Ross
    R. Johnson/Platoon partner
    The Rev
    Constanza
    Hinske Replacement

    Hudson
    Medlen
    Minor
    Maholm
    Delgado/Teheran

    O’Ventbrel
    Gearrin
    Avilan
    The Lisp
    Durbin (on a cheap deal – he was a perfectly cromulent replacement level reliever, and I wouldn’t mind him back next year if the price was right. But remember, I do have a weak spot for other team’s formerly mildly effective middle relievers and Durbin fits that to a T)

  6. Although, Anthony Varvaro is also a perfectly cromulent RH reliever as well, and he’s one of those guys who comes in, throws an impressive inning for a change, and I’d immediately scheme on how to get him on the Braves, so he fills that spot as well as Durbin.

    Plus, he’s cheaper on the budget. It’s nice to have a bullpen where the biggest issue is who’s going to be your 4th RHer.

  7. Does Avilan make one of Venters or EOF trade bait? Their value is high and they are about to start costing more money.

    I would also like to see Th Rev play winter ball and learn a few other possiitons. I think he has a chance to becoew a super utility guy, like Infante was.

  8. seat painter @ 5,

    I believe in the “in between” on Beachy. I think he will be able to be a 2 inning every third day reliever around All Star Break time (which let’s you carry a guy that can’t go back to the post because of the looming rest days). Then, a stretch out at AAA (he still has options) and up as a 5 to 6 inning starter by around the first of August.

    Obviously, with Beachy, all depends on the “actual” recovery.

    On the starting pitchers, if you can keep Hanson by tendering and owing 3 mill (that would be 20% of what “formerly good Hanson” would get in FA), you need to keep him. Behind Teheran and Delgado you go to Gilmartin and Graham, and that is a little too far down for 2013 if you are counting on the postseason (and I am). Then, if Hanson rebounds even a little, you can trade him (maybe when Beachy is solid and maybe that is just before the trade deadline). If Hanson doesn’t step forward, best 5 pitch and you maybe non tender him next year.

    I wouldn’t pay for a Durbin with all of the arms we have in our system. With Gearrin, you don’t have a good use for Moylan, so he isn’t the “veteran presence” answer. With O’Ventbrel’s combined experience (and Eddie Perez in the bullpen), we don’t really need a “veteran presence.”

  9. Smitty,

    I think the Braves will consider that a “scout’s opinion question.” Somebody in their scouting advanced Avilan a long way on their thoughts, and it worked. If they are convinced he is “real”, it might make sense to deal one of the two.

  10. Looking at the catching situation, I was actually shocked to see that Boscan is older than McCann and only 2 years younger than Ross. It’s nice not to have to worry about a position for a long stretch of time. Notwithstanding Ross’ value to the team last year, do the Braves bring him back and leave Bethancourt in the minors another year? whatever optimism I have about next year diminishes significantly when considering a backstop duo of Boscan and Bethancourt.

  11. Boscan will never be a catching option at the ML level with Atlanta. He’s an organizational soldier who gets rewarded for his long service with the odd callup.

  12. Well, I hope Beachy recovers that quickly, but I’m not counting on it.

    In my roster projection, I assumed Hanson would be dealt for one of the outfielders we need, along with one or more of the minor league arms. It wouldn’t be terrible to be stuck with even last year’s Hanson as the 5th starter. He might not bring a giant haul by himself, but in a package we might get a serviceable return.

    I’d keep Bethancourt down another year, unless he just tears up Winter ball and Spring training AND McCann’s recovery is longer than expected.

  13. Medlen may be an exception, but he had surgery 8-18-10 and Beachy’s was 6-21-12, so he’s got a couple of extra months there. Rehabbing in June or July, pitching full time by August at the latest seems reasonable to me.

    To me the weakness in the bullpen is our only dominant RHP is Kimbrel, the rest are just OK. You’d love to have a righty that you can count on in a big spot in the 7th or 8th if you needed to.

  14. @13 Beachy will rehab in minors before he become a long man in Atlanta. Start slowly and stretch him out like it was spring training.

  15. Talking Chop did a piece that puts the estimated available monies at 30 million for 2013. My estimations were around 30 million as well so hopefully that’s accurate. We could do a whole lot with 30 million. If we filled LF and CF holes via free agency, which combo would you prefer? In choosing this combo, keep in mind that it’d be more along the line of 25 million for the cost of the combo.

    Pick one CF
    B.J. Upton (28)
    Angel Pagan (31)
    Cody Ross (32)
    Shane Victorino (32)
    Michael Bourn (30)

    Pick one LF
    Cody Ross (32)
    Ichiro Suzuki (39)
    Nick Swisher (32)
    Torii Hunter (37)

    I left Hamilton out because…well, that’s not going to happen.

  16. If we trade O’Flaherty the team at the front of the line has to be the Angels. Their bullpen alone kept them out of the playoffs. Hanson and O’Flaherty for Peter Bourjos and a good hitting prospect sounds about right to me. O’Flaherty is due about 4-5 million so that move alone would give us another 7 million to work with. Bourjos seems to be an excellent defensive outfielder but he is not likely to win us many games with the bat. But who cares, we’d still have more than 30 million to work with. Sign Greinke and trade Delgado for Choo and we cruise to a division title.

  17. I’ve been reading I Want My MTV!, an oral history of the first decade of Music Television. It’s a fascinating book and I’m learning a lot. One of the things I learned: the “Cruel Summer” video can be divided into two parts. One, scenes in which the gals of Bananarama are looking a little wan and tired. The other, scenes in which the gals look all happy, joyful and bright. The latter is because they snorted a mountain of coke with a bunch of city dockworkers during a lunch break in filming.

    If this kind of story entertains you, there’s 600 more pages of it in the book…

  18. Giants-Cardinals. That’s pretty much the worst-case scenario. With the winner no doubt facing the Yankees.

  19. I’d take a Pagan/Ross combo in a heartbeat. Resign The Best Back-Up Catcher in history, hire Jim to replace Chip Carey, and The Ross Cup is ours to lose!

    Is there a Ross Cup? And if not, there should be a Ross Cup. It could be one of those weird NHL Awards like The Lady Byng or The Vezinia.

  20. Jim Ross, that is. We might even get a “Wait a minute! Is that…? My God, that’s the Kraken’s Entrance Music!” when we have a save situation.

  21. Thanks, Spike.

    If memory serves better than demonstrated here before, I think Fredi was asked what he thought Prado’s best position would be and Fredi responded, “Centerfield.”

    Was this a flashback from excess in the sixties, or was the question asked about some other multi-positional player like, perhaps, Infante?

    I’d love to have Bourn return for 5/$65M but can’t see it happening. If it doesn’t, Angel Pagan is my second choice.

    As far as the third base/left field piece, Gattis might become part of the three way platoon you folks talked about earlier, with Francisco at third against righties and Gattis in left for lefties, with Prado alternating at the other spot. Heck, he played everywhere in 2012 with little effect on his offense.

    One of Delgado/Teheran may be ready this year. If not, they’re both still babies. I’d hate to give up on them in favor of Hanson. I don’t think I can survive another year of Tommy’s good starts, let alone his not-so-good ones. Otherwise, Medlen, Hudson, Minor and Maholm is a solid rotation, and the bullpen will be solid again with only minor tweaks.

    Catcher could be a big problem next year if BMac is cooked. Replacing Brian AND Chipper’s offense will be tough. Ross is of course the best backup catcher in baseball; but if BMac’s best days are past, we will not get as much production from catcher.

    Thanks for the great year, and fire up the hot stove. I love Braves Journal.

    Oh yes, for Mac: ROLL TIDE!

  22. @25- I’ve mentioned this before here but the announcers for my high school baseball team were the sons of old WCW announcer Tony Schiavone, who I believe is now the announcer for the Gwinnett Braves. Every once in a while the kids couldn’t make it to a game and they were replaced by Tony. So on more than one occasion I was introduced in a game by Tony Schiavone.

  23. Because I had a minute and saw a really funny post over at BBTF –

    ” rel=”nofollow”>Yankee Fan Spreadsheet

  24. Yeah, I’d like Pagan at a price.

    Then just have to find the mythical “Left Fielder with Power” that the Braves haven’t been able to find since Chipper was out there.

    Afraid Swisher is too expensive. Ross not good enough. Hunter too old. May have to trade for somebody.

    Trading for a powerful 3B actually solves more problems. Let’s trade Hanson for turn-of-the-century Chipper. Get it done Wren!

  25. Jim Joyce’s strike zone is absurd. Medlen would strike out 27 guys with a strike zone like this.

  26. @19

    Ah yes, 1984, when the pretty girls all dressed in baggy clothes, and everyone was scared of AIDS. I think of it as the worst possible year to be a college freshman.

  27. Whatever. I’d almost rather have the Yankees win it all than either the Nats or the Cards.

    Unlike most here, I kinda like the Giants (don’t get me wrong, Posey was out). I saw probably 5 games in Candlestick back in the day. I think my dad tried to plan our visits to CA to coincide with a Braves roadtrip. :-)

  28. If you think Melky’s cheating mattered at all to the success of his team, the Giants have no business being in the playoffs. In any serious sport, they’d be disqualified.

  29. What sort of travesty is this, when Nate McLouth is not only still playing for a big league team in the postseason, but also has hit a go-ahead homer in a must-win game?

  30. My preferences are:

    Orioles, A’s, Giants, [Reds], Tigers, Yankees, Natinals, Cardinals

    This probably means we get to watch Yankees/Cardinals in WS.

  31. The Braves’ official site took down the Chipper Jones image on the right side yesterday, and replaced him with…Uggla?!!?!

  32. We’re on the other side of the moon, fellas.

    Great piece on Grantland about the England soccer team and John Terry’s troubles. This comes from an investigation into allegations that Terry racially abused a player on an opposing team (I’ve cleaned up the rough language; the story itself decidedly does not):

    Shortly after Mr. Terry had got to his feet, he barged into Mr. Ferdinand with his shoulder. The latter reciprocated with a shoulder barge of his own and said “what are you doing?” Mr. Terry momentarily appears to kick out at Mr. Ferdinand on the film footage. Shortly afterwards, as Chelsea were attacking, the Referee stopped play after one of his Assistants had brought to his attention the altercation between Mr. Terry and Mr. Ferdinand. A free-kick was awarded to QPR. As they were still within close proximity of one another, Mr. Terry… made a gesture with his hand across his nose, implying that Mr. Ferdinand’s breath smelt. The Referee intervened, as did at least one Chelsea player.

    Mr. Terry then proceeded to run back towards the Chelsea half in order to take up a defensive position and await the free kick. For a time, he had his back to Mr. Ferdinand… Mr. Ferdinand also made a slow fist pump gesture with his right hand, suggesting sex (a reference accompanying what he said). Once he was back in the Chelsea half of the pitch, Mr. Terry turned round to face the play and saw the fist gesture that Mr. Ferdinand was making, and which was clearly directed at him.

  33. @34, 1984 was a great year to be a college senior. I can’t believe how singular the experience was looking back on it. I saw so many great acts that year.

  34. @49

    I’ll stick to the narrative that allows me to skirt any serious self-examination, thanks. :)

  35. Since the possibility of a strike ending the season before the WS starts is not likely I guess it’s A’s or O’s for me. I really don’t want any of the others to even get to the WS and even the A’s and O’s don’t excite me… they’re just tolerable.

  36. Tigers are playing fairly well. Is Brandon Inge worth a look as a platoon at 3B? 35, coming off an arm injury and maybe expensive.

  37. I think Billy Beane has to be pretty happy with an incredibly young team that far exceeded expectations. He’s got a starting rotation that was at various points entirely composed of rookies. A rookie Jarrod Parker against Verlander is hardly fair, but next year, with a little more offense? There are never any guarantees, obviously, but Billy Beane has most of the right pieces in place. He’s GM of the year by a country mile in my book.

  38. Obviously, I am for the Nats; if not, I root for the Giants because at least I like the city of San Francisco. Great game; the crowd was great, went crazy after Werth’s home run. After the game, we were chanting his name while he was being interviewed. Wouldn’t it be great to do something like that one time in your life? It was really cool to be there. But it did occur to me that I would be feeling exactly the opposite if he had done it to the Braves.

  39. For those who think Fredi bullpen usage is incomprehensible, here is Mike Matheny:

    “If we were at home, it would have been a very easy decision to bring in Motte,” Matheny said. “We are looking at a team that had every save of our season by Jason Motte, and we take a lead there at any point (in extra innings), you’re asking one of our guys, especially one of our young guys, who have never been in that situation to come in and close out a game, and that’s a lot to ask.”

    So, apparently, it was better not to even get to that to situation.

  40. Yeah, the only thing that could redeem a Cardinals’ World Series win this year would be an asteroid destroying the planet the following day.

  41. These are some of my favorite sports days in NYC… when the Yanks are on the brink of elimination & half the town is freaking out about it. It’ll be a fun day (at least ’til 5 pm).

    #49
    The English Beat, terrific band.

    A very ’80s/English Beat memory: After watching them play an amazing free show on the UGA campus (4/4/83 @ Legion Field), I walked into a nearby dorm and caught the end of that famous NC St/Houston NCAA basketball final (Lorenzo Charles’ buzzer-beating dunk).

    Very memorable show, legendary sports moment.

    http://tinyurl.com/3wsqnzv

  42. Hey, Wren got a two-year extension. Delgado trade offers for everybody! Kidding. Well-deserved.

    I know enough to recognize the names of the guys that got promotions, Bruce Manno and John Coppolella. But I couldn’t tell you anything about their specific contributions to the team. Anybody?

  43. I’d never really listened to John Sterling before, but ububba’s right: he’s awful. He just spent a solid minute talking about how good a player Nate McLouth is and how he can’t understand why McLouth was bad in Atlanta. He shares all of Don Sutton’s deficiencies as a play-by-play man – lack of detail and a tendency to continue some inane story rather than describe what’s happening – with none of Don’s strengths. He is humorless and humility-less. I don’t understand why MLB.TV won’t let me listen to the Baltimore radiocast.

  44. Didn’t Skip have a load of manure delivered to Sterling’s front door when Sterling was calling the Braves?

  45. Other than calling the Rick Camp Game (which he was perfect for, really), and coining the phrase “Dominique c’est magnifique”, I have zero good memories of Sterling in Atlanta.

  46. Good lord, Davey Johnson looked like vintage Fredi, circa September 2011. Deer in headlights. He’s lucky that wasn’t much, much worse.

    Who says there’s no more meaningful baseball in October: Evan Gattis doubled and scored thrice in his first game in Venezuelan Winter League. Anyone know what the relative competition level of the Venezuelan league is? My gut tells me the pitching is better than in the Arizona league, but I have no idea if that is really true.

  47. Talking Chop thinks we might go after Hamilton and that he, being in need of somewhere out of media dominance, would like Atlanta. That’d be swell if he decided to play baseball in Atlanta for 60% of what other teams would pay him.

  48. Man, Edwin Jackson on a single day’s rest. I hope this works out for Davey, I really do.

  49. @ 84,

    I seem to remember during the A.J. Burnett negotiations the Braves essentially offered the same years and dollars as the Yankees (5/82.5). If the Braves were willing to go over $16M/year for an “injury prone” pitcher, you would think they would take Hamilton up on any type of discounted deal. Not that he’s even willing to offer said discount, but it’s nice to dream.

    Hope the Cardinals run out of outs before they fart out two more runs worth of sunshine.

  50. Hope the Cardinals run out of outs before they fart out two more runs worth of sunshine.

    Nationals, according to Yahoo, have runners on first and second and nobody out in the ninth.

  51. I came pretty quickly to the realization that the Nats, like the Braves, don’t deserve to win. But it absolutely sucks that the Cardinals are always, always, always the beneficiary of everyone else’s fuckups.

  52. Would the Cardinals winning it all embarrass Selig? It should. This team should have been eliminated in mid-September and now they’re probably going to the NLCS.

  53. I really don’t mind the nats tasting some misery here. No way this Cards team can win the whole thing again. No Way.

  54. MLB should just stop all playoffs right now and give the WS to the Cards. It seems that’s what they wanted this year anyway.

  55. Davey Johnson must have figured out that his bullpen stinks even worse than Gio or Jackson.

  56. The Cardinals tried not to win it, but the Braves and Nats kept insisting. I don’t know what Davey Johnson thinks he’s doing. He’s Fredi x10.

  57. But too tough a play to give him an error? Worst thing about Postseason.tv is no replays.

  58. What on earth are you talking about, 111? The Nationals are obnoxious goddamn pond scum. The Cardinals are nothing. Are you mad they beat us in the wild card game? Don’t be. We beat ourselves. The Cards just cleaned up the pieces.

  59. 113-Hah! I have to admit that the Cardinals aren’t nearly as loathsome without La Russa, but still, if you are going to root for them you might as well root for Bud Selig.

  60. It’s not even close. Just go watch the clip of Davey Johnson smirking his stupid head off when Peralta got thrown out for pine tar. Thinks he’s so damn clever. And just watch Harper do, well, anything. The Nationals are eminently hateable, and the Cards are just sort of there.

    Honestly, how you can develop antipathy toward a team we see six times a year? Is this all about the wild card game? Cause that’s ridiculous. Chipper lost us that game; the Cardinals were just the beneficiaries.

  61. Postseason.tv is doing a good job of using various cams to linger on the sad faces of Nats fans. Welcome to our world, suckers.

  62. Fair enough. I think the Nationals are extremely hateable right now, and I’m thrilled to see them lose. I hope they finish in last place next season.

  63. Worst part is, Cards did all that damage with two outs…so I can’t insert some snarky remark about the infield fly

  64. So much about the Cardinals is detestable. Kozma didn’t have to lie about the infield fly debacle. Chris Carpenter is just a complete asshole. The constant Yadier Molina fellatio from broadcasters. And on and on.

  65. Who cares if Kozma lied? It was Sam Holbrook’s fault, and he looked at it after the game and said he made the right call. That’s detestable.

    Yadier Molina deserves the accolades he gets. He’s awesome.

    The Nationals are just a gigantic collection of egotistical assholes. And their misery is our gain. I hate them almost as much as I hate the Phillies.

  66. I’ve pretty much loathed the Cardinals since they won a WS with an 83-win team. But that said, I pretty much hate the Natspos too, for all of the reasons outlined above and a few more to boot. So I guess it’s a lose-lose. Or put another way: a win-win. Suck it Nationals.

  67. Some how, you have to give some credits to the Cards. How on earth can they keep doing it? Eventually, we can’t keep saying it’s just luck.

  68. @#123

    “The more self-centered and egotistical a guy is, the better ballplayer he’s going to be.”

    “You take a team with twenty-five assholes and I’ll show you a pennant. I’ll show you the New York Yankees.”

    –Bill “Spaceman” Lee

  69. i’ve hated the Cards since 1982, when they beat the Braves in the NLCS. Haven’t had a Budweiser since then, either.

  70. @127, Yeah. The Fountain of Magically Doubling One’s ISO. We’re talking about Yadier doubling and then nearly quadrupling his previous annual HR output the past two seasons.

    He’s the right age for it to happen, and yet before all that, when he was slashing .262/.329/.342, he and his stupid neck tattoo started the ASG over McCann — the ASG McCann won and was the MVP of. Just utterly loathsome.

  71. Well, there are other reasons not to have a budweiser–such as the taste of a budweiser. To be fair.

  72. Sigmund—thou should be living at this hour…

    so much hate…

    so much fantastic baseball…

    we beat ourselves, via Chipper…his primary focus on that throw was not the bag but to look cool, unhurried, veteran slick…

    Sigmund told me.

  73. #131

    I made a lot of mistakes in my twenties, but giving up Bud wasn’t one of them. I wouldn’t use it to make hush puppies, it tastes so bad.

  74. we are now reduced to arguing over who is more loathsome? really braves journal? can’t we have enough hate for everybody? My rule of thumb is to always root for the road team, so I can view the misery of everybody at the ballpark. It’s cathartic in a way.

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