Brian McCann (by Smitty)

Brian McCann is coming off of his worst season, and it may cost his a ton of money going forward. McCann has a $12 million club option for 2013 that appeared to be a no-brainer a year ago, but there was quite a bit of public discussion about the Braves declining the option.

In 2012 McCann hit .230 with an OBP of .300 and slugged a Belliardian .399. (Okay, it wasn’t Belliard bad, but you get the point.) It appears that the shoulder injury McCann played through for most of the season is the main culprit, but you have to also consider that McCann just finished his eighth season at the big league level at the most demanding position in sports, and he may be starting the back half of his career.

On October 16, 2012, McCann underwent surgery to fix a torn labrum, which of course was torn more that previously indicated. At first the typical Braves spin was “He will be ready by March 1!” But now it is looking like it may be at least a six month recovery, which would put him probably around May or June before he is ready to go.

As of now, David Ross is a free agent and you have to wonder if he can be a fulltime player at this point. It is not clear that Evan Gattis or Christian Bethancourt are ready to make the jump to the big leagues. So for the first few months of the season the Braves will be without their cleanup hitter who, when healthy, is also arguably their best player.

By picking up McCann’s option, the Braves have put off a difficult decision for at least a few more months. But you have to wonder, going forward, if the Braves will attempt to sign McCann to a multi-year deal. Or will they let him walk?

There are two ways to view this. Now that Chipper is gone, McCann is the face of the franchise, and the team’s most popular player. He is the clubhouse leader and a local product. However, the last year and a half has seen McCann’s numbers drop. While he has been banged up, all those innings behind the plate are starting to add up. It would have been nice if Corky Miller could have spelled McCann better early in his career, not that I am bitter or anything.

If I am the Braves, I consider going to McCann and trying to work out a three to five year deal at a discounted rate. McCann’s value is at an all time low and he knows that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

I still think McCann can be a great player and probably has a few years left. However, I wouldn’t invest a ton of money in him at this point. If McCann wants Molina money (5 year-$75 million), I think you have to wish him well.

A third option that may be looming is a scenario where one of Gattis or Bethancourt wins the job and lights it up. At that point, McCann may be expendable and there are a lot of teams that could give up a few decent players for him.

It would be very similar to the Dale Murphy trade in 1990. The club has a young promising bat without a position (back then, it was David Justice), and there is a veteran player on the backside of his career, who is also the most popular player on the team. The main difference is that the present day Braves are expected to contend for a playoff spot, and veteran leadership is important.

In the end, I predict the Braves will sign McCann for a three year incentive-loaded deal with a mutual option for a fourth year. But the money will have to start closer to $10 million a year, rather than the $15 Molina is making.

85 thoughts on “Brian McCann (by Smitty)”

  1. The Yadier Molina deal sure looked stupid when the Cardinals signed it, but then Yadier went out and set career highs in 2012 in basically every statistical category, bested his career OPS by 144 points and was worth 6.5 WAR (more than any season in McCann’s career).

    I have a lot of love for McCann and fond memories of his greatness over the last six-odd years, but I hope the Braves don’t hand him a massive contract extension as a reward for past good work. That said, I would be happy to see the Braves give him, say 3 years / $36M with some escalators and a vesting fourth year option. It would be a lot easier decision to make if the Braves had a DH slot for Mac to hit in 2-3 times a week.

    As far as this season goes, I’m sure the Braves will take a long, hard look at Bethancourt or Gattis as Ross’ backup until McCann’s shoulder is healed. Clearly, Bethancourt isn’t ready offensively (he hasn’t even hit well in the minors) but if they judge that his defense is MLB-ready, they may bring him up regardless. Frankly, I’d rather they carry Gattis (assuming it looks in Spring Training like he can hit MLB pitching and play a credible C and LF) since he’s much older and his ceiling as a total player is lower than Bethancourt’s.

  2. Thanks, Smitty.

    Our long national nightmare is over: NO MORE POLITICAL ADS!

    God bless America and everybody else.

  3. JC’d from last thread…

    If his knees test out, I gotta say I’d be interested in seeing Lance Berkman patrol LF for 120 games next year(and back up Freeman at 1st). He’d be a buy low candidate and always has the potential to put up monstrous offensive numbers. What I like about signing Lance is that if he does get injured, there’s plenty of options to try out in LF.

  4. I don’t understand, Mac is only 28 years old. I know he started his career very young and he was abused by Bobby, but he is still only 28!!! I am very comfortable giving him a three- year extension.

  5. I have no desire to see Lance Berkman attempt to patrol left field for us.

    Perhaps the Mets…

  6. Are you actually a historian? Because I love 19th Century American history.

    Yep. I’m writing a lecture on nullification and the bank war right now.

    Also, I think McCann is going to bounce back when he comes back healthy.

  7. Padres slugging catcher, Yasmani Grandal, has been suspended 50 games for high testosterone levels.

  8. Bowman has a good idea: “According to Ken Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks are shopping Justin Upton again. How about the OF first of Heyward, Upton, and Upton?” Ummmm…yes, please?

  9. Lance Berkman: 4.9 WAR in 2011, despite horrible defensive numbers in RF. Furthermore, his LF defense has been average in over 4000 innings.

  10. @17 Given their need for a shortstop, I’m sure the DBacks would be interested in Simmons… not that the Braves would consider trading him, of course.

  11. Yeah, that’s my worry that we just won’t match up. Maybe Bethancourt + Teheran + something but it’s true the Dbacks would really want Simmons.

  12. And if you really want to be depressed head on over to Sickels site where he gives an update on his forthcoming Braves Top 20 prsopects list. Sounds like it’s not pretty.

  13. Happy Birthday, AAR!!! Thanks for everything that you’ve done with regards to keeping this site going. Have a great day, and even better year!

  14. Happy b-day, AAR. Drinks on me next time you’re in NYC.

    Just don’t show up anytime soon–it’s still a little messy. One storm after another…

  15. No one mentions the chance that McCann’s “worse than expected” shoulder tear was caused by continuing to play through the injury.

  16. @20 Considering the talents that have graduated from the system in recent years, it’s not surprising that the quality of the farm is becoming a bit thin.

  17. Belated Happy Birthday, Alex.

    Thanks to you, a little bit of joy continues in our lives.

    Go Braves!

  18. Happy Birthday Alex.

    Adam M,

    “Yep. I’m writing a lecture on nullification and the bank war right now”

    Cool. I’ve read several books on Jackson and that period.

  19. Graduating Simmons, Heyward, Pastornicky, Freeman, Beachy, Medlen, Hanson, Kimbrel, Venters, Delgado, Teheran, Minor, and trading Vizcaino will do that to a system. Furthermore, we haven’t had very many early picks lately.

  20. @20 Considering the talents that have graduated from the system in recent years, it’s not surprising that the quality of the farm is becoming a bit thin.

    Aye. Preach on, brother.

  21. The key for us will be seeing if we can make some baseball players out of the rest: the Pastornickys of the world, guys like Lillibridge and Graffanino and Nick Green and Gregor Blanco who wind up having long careers elsewhere, guys like Constanza whom maybe we hold onto, guys like Charles Thomas whom we trade at peak value, and prevent them from taking their modest talents and washing out of the league like Diory Hernandez.

    If we can get some real at bats from Ernesto Mejia this summer, that will be a real boon. St. Louis has a ton of these guys, Descalsos and Kozmas. We should, too.

  22. Haven’t been over here in years, but saw a link at Baseball Reference and thought I’d stop by. I was pleasantly surprised to see the site has survived in view of Mac’s sad and untimely passing. I hadn’t followed him closely for a long time and didn’t realize the seriousness of his situation. He will be sorely missed for a number of reasons.

    I hardly post anywhere anymore (after posting too much at too many sites for too many years), but I still stop by and read the analysis on various sites. Good to see the many great minds still at work here.

    Big off-season for Wren. It won’t be akin to pulling rabbits out of hats, as he has some budget room, but big decisions loom and the McCann situation is no exception.

    P.S. Bourn will be overpaid. Hope it’s not us overpaying him.

  23. They wont publicly admit this but I guarantee you Kentucky, Tennessee, and Auburn have all called on Petrino.

    If Bourn is going to make $100M, it better be somewhere besides Atl. Same with Josh Hamilton.

  24. On the possible match up with the Twins.

    We can use the package of Span and Wilingham. Span is owed 11 or so over the next two years with a 9 mill club option. So, Twins will need value for that.

    Willingham is owed 14 over the next 2. Also, they need value for that.

    AND, if we get both of those, we can use payroll on pitching and extensions.

    What do you think of Delgado and Hanson and some prospects / young uns (maybe Cunningham and Avilan) for Span and Willingham? Our side and their side. Then, we take the money and get Greinke.

  25. Yeah, the Sickels preview sounds pretty ugly. But then, we knew the team was not rich with high-ceiling, minor league position players. I’m probably more bullish about the young arms than he is, though, so it’ll be interesting to see what he says.

  26. Yeah, the Sickels preview sounds pretty ugly. But then, we knew the team was not rich with high-ceiling, minor league position players. I’m probably more bullish about the young arms than he is, though, so it’ll be interesting to see what he says.

    Here’s an exercise to do while reading through Sickels and the prospect hounds this offseason (and all offseasons, actually):

    1. Look up the prospect overviews for Tommy Hanson.
    2. Look up the prospect overviews for Mike Minor.
    3. Look up the prospect overviews for Brandon Beachy.

  27. Brandon Beachy’s story is unfathomably awesome. But it’s not easily repeatable. If it was so easy to find undrafted position players who turned into frontline starters, then everyone would do it.

    I think it’s like my reaction to Barry Bonds: the PEDs probably helped him, but being Barry Bonds helped him more. If there was a pill you could take that made you hit 73 home runs, I think everyone would have taken that pill.

    In order to win, you need to get lucky, and having a good rate of success on guys like Beachy and Kris Medlen and going back to Julio Franco is a big help. But you also need to do well in the amateur draft. Our minor leagues have been very productive lately. But right now, we’ve got guys like Edward Salcedo and Christian Bethancourt and Nick Ahmed and Joey Terdoslavich, and it’s hard to take a good hard look at any of them — or anyone else in the system — and say, “Yeah, I bet he could hit in the majors.”

  28. I agreed with those who thought it might be difficult to trade Hanson until this morning.

    This morning I heard Stan Van Gundy say he never understood why Hawks fans didn’t love Joe Johnson. Stan Van Gundy!

    Hanson looks the part and the early returns were glowing (reminds me of Upton, btw), so maybe we can trade the reputation and not the gopher-ball machine he has become.

    UK is not going after Petrino. I’m of two minds about this. While I think he is literally the only coach that could turn my Wildcats into a winning football program, when it comes down to it – how to say this – he’s just a piece of shit. (Elegant enough?)

    On the other hand, whoever signs him now is going to win the Timing Contest.

    Humbled, knowing this is his one chance to not screw it up, I think he is primed to be the most focused, most loyal, most of what you’d want in a football coach than he’s ever been in his life.

    There’s an ex-spouse metaphor in there somewhere.

  29. Terdo projects to hit well enough in the majors. He just can’t defend anywhere but 1B and the Braves don’t need that.

  30. I would stay away if I was UK, because as soon as he’s given you some time to repair his image, he’s going to run to a bigger program. A place like Auburn might be able to hold onto him for longer, but I dunno. Tennessee will stay away because what they need is someone who’s not going to create more chaos.

  31. Terdo’s 24 years old, and his career batting line in the minor leagues is .280/.338/.449. He had a nice year in 73 games at AA, but he hit .180/.252/.263 in 53 games at AAA. Overall, he hit .262/.325/.394 in 131 games in 2012. I am… not as optimistic about his bat.

  32. Labrums (labra?) are tricky things. I think expecting McCann at 100% by June 1 is very optimistic.

    He might be functional, but I think it’s best if the Braves just move on. If the White Sox re-sign AJ, their young catching prospect might fit.

  33. Rusty S.

    Hey, I went to college with Walt Weiss too! (UNC ’86 here) What year did you graduate?

  34. Terdo was terrible at AAA last year, and he was terrible when he was trying to play 3B. He started hitting again once they stopped asking him to do something he can’t do (play defense, basically.)

    He’s a DH, and not one of the upper tier class of DH’s, but in a world where Delmon Young got ABs as the DH for the AL representative in the World Series, I expect the Terdman’s bat to translate into a moderately useful career. Something like a less defensively valuable (!) Wes Helms.

  35. @58:

    That’s a reasonable concern. He could be Ron Wright.


    I’ve met Nate. He’s a tiny little man. He most certainly weighs less than LaMichael James. He therefore ways less than a Duck. He is therefore a witch.

  36. I hold the tale of Ron Wright dear to my heart every time there’s some noise about “can’t miss prospects” and perhaps trading them for useful parts.

  37. Ron Wright was never a can’t miss prospect though. At least I never considered him that at any part of my life.

  38. What I remember about Ron Wright was a great wailing, rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, because the Braves traded away “a future 40 HR guy” for a lefty starter we didn’t really need. Turns out Wright wasn’t a future star, and Denny Neagle was pretty damned good.

  39. No way Sam. Not for me. I never had such impression on Wright.

    However, your point is well taken. But for any Denny Neagle trade, I have the Tex trade to counter. Of course, you can then remind us about Freddy, Shef, Edgar, Huddy, etc (we tends to do pretty well in trades). This is just another conversation that will reach no conclusion. The only conclusion I can reach from past experience is that we tend to know who to keep and who not to keep. So I would simply place my trust on Wren on the trade front.

  40. A little mouse tells me that Towers offered Upton for Medlen. Wren hung up, laughing. Towers called back asking for Minor, Avilan and Ahmed. Wren is thinking it over.

  41. BTW,did Nate Silver silence his critics?

    He shouldn’t have. People like Tom Jensen of PPP are the real people who deserve the credit, and yet everyone pays attention to Silver. Silver simply used their data.

  42. 72,

    It’s both. But Nate Silver certainly does a better job with the data that he’s given, and his projection system has been better than anyone’s for five years . I think the attacks on Nate were unfair (although, from an ideological and emotional perspective- if not logical- certainly understandable). He deserves an apology for the vilification and attacks on his integrity and character, but he isn’t gonna get it.

  43. I also hope I didn’t cross any lines with that last comment. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking with him, and he’s among the kindest, most humble, and smartest individuals I’ve ever met. Regardless of any affiliation (including mine), I think he’s a wonderful person who mistakenly got a bad label.

  44. Of course Silver is using others’ data — he’s a statistician, not a pollster. As for the attacks, I’m sure he’s used to it. Joe Scarborough is just an analogue for Joe Morgan.

  45. Plenty of others have done what Silver has done. Hell, Sam Wang got the popular vote percentage precisely right and most reading this are probably like: “who’s Sam Wang?”

    What Silver does differently is put a digestable percentage out there. Any moron can understand “so-and-so has a 78.1% chance of winning.”

    I know this is treading precariously-close to Mac’s line of acceptable discussion, but how is correctly predicting Obama winning Illinois or Romney winning Utah impressive? There are only a handful of states that are ever close in any given cycle. Silver’s popularity took off after getting 49-of-50 right in 2008, but only in four states were the two main candidates within 2.50% or less of each other when the votes were counted, and one of those (Indiana) was the state Silver got wrong. Silver was also off by 15 House seats in 2010.

  46. Agreed that he became the face of something that others were also doing (Silver says as much), and that his percentages are easily consumed. But what he also does is bring a simple, methodical, and transparent writing style to his blog that is a welcome antidote to lazy bloviation of all stripes. To me, this is his greatest contribution — making math more palatable to the masses is a good thing.

  47. I’m not trying to be political or partisan. I just thought the criticism of Silver was funny, just like the criticism of the sabermetricians in baseball. I expected to hear one of the pundits say something like “that Romney just knows how to win.” I have no idea whether or not Silver deserves credit for his predictions or not. But hearing a pundit say on a certain network that he didn’t care about this scientific gobbledy-gook was so similar to what you hear (mostly) on MLB Network or certainly from baseball analysts. I was struck by how the political and baseball culture wars sort of intersected.

  48. Exactly, sansho. Nate’s method and writing are both accurate (that Wang and the PEC are perhaps even slightly more accurate is a red herring) and highly accessible to a wide audience, but what makes his work so valuable is that it acts as a check on the kind of mindless punditry that has dominated our political discourse for generations.

  49. Peggy Noonan’s last pre-election op-ed in the WSJ was straight out of the Joe Morgan playbook. I was only sad that Ken Teemendous wasn’t there to obliterate her. And she was of course just one among many who made such bizarre arguments.

    I like Sam Wang, too. Silver is great, but Wang brings the snark.

  50. I think that we’ll be good if we keep talking about Nate as an analyst, rather than as a person who has publicly stated his preference for one of the two major parties.

    Anti-empiricism is costly. In any industry, the pundits who get paid to talk will talk in a very different way than the strategists who get paid to think. I have no doubt that there were people on both sides who understood the implications of the numerical probabilities.

    For any given side, it is generally desirable both for your opponents and for your diehard supporters to slightly underestimate your chances of victory: you want your adversaries to have a false sense of confidence, and your supporters to feel that they must work even harder to bring about victory. This is similar to what general managers do when they mislead the press with utterly false statements about their plans for the team, like Frank Wren’s feint towards Hunter Pence as he actually wanted to get Michael Bourn. What a strategist says to the public through the media is often less representative of what she thinks, and more representative of what she wants the public to believe that she thinks.

    I really enjoyed this piece, not by Nate, on the power and limits of polling:

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