Impressions

That last thread was getting long, so here’s an open thread with some of my thoughts on the season.

Regarding Fredi: I have defended him for the last several years on the basis of his relationship with the players. The players play hard for him and appear to support him and trust him, and that’s by far the most important job that any manager has. My measuring stick for whether he needs to be fired is exactly that long. If the clubhouse supports him, then he should be the manager. If the players no longer support him or trust him, then he needs to be axed even if he has won 190 games in two years. Johnnie B. Baker would be a good fit in Atlanta, anyway.

Regarding the lineup: We need offense. For at least each of the past five (six? seven?) years, our pressing offseason need has been outfield offense. Dan Uggla was the solution to that problem three years ago, as the Braves shifted their All-Star second baseman to left field. Last year’s solution was the Upton brothers. Our outfield is the equivalent of the house in The Money Pit. (That is the first and last reference to a Shelley Long movie that I will ever make.) As it happens, our offense was pretty good: fourth in the league in runs, third in OPS. But we were first in the league in ERA, first in runs allowed, first in quality starts. It is going to be The marginal cost of improving the offense from fourth to third is going to be lower than the marginal cost of improving the pitching beyond best in league. So I’d prefer to spend Liberty’s money on offense than on pitching.

Regarding the past month: Things have gotten pretty heated around here. The Braves got into a couple of scrapes for trying to defend their honor against Jose Fernandez and Carlos Gomez, and it turned them into a laughingstock around the league; then, they snubbed Chipper Jones in the Division Series and turned in a no-show at the media availability after the Division Series ended. On this board, the 2013 season has brought a lot more annoyance and personal sniping than a 96-win team should. It sucks to watch the season end this way. But the Braves have to behave themselves with more composure than this. We should, too.

Regarding the 2013 Braves: Right up until Uribe’s homer, I loved this team. The 2005 Braves were a joy to root for because they set a record for the most rookies on a playoff team; the 2013 Braves were an inspiration because they set a record for most regular position players with a batting average under .200. Previous teams have had to weather serious injuries to key players. This team had to weather our two highest-paid players turning into two of the worst players in baseball, and season-ending injuries to Beachy, Hudson, Venters, O’Flaherty, and (lest we forget) Cristhian Martinez.

In the meantime, we got breakout seasons from four different homegrown players: Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Mike Minor, and Julio Teheran. Luis Avilan continued his Eric O’Flaherty impression. Alex Wood showed that he’s ready to be a major contributor, and David Hale flashed promise. Whether or not he starts, Evan Gattis is going to hold a spot on someone’s 25-man roster for the next ten years. Chris Johnson redefined regression and Jordan Schafer had an improbable two months of success. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton were up and down, but when they were up, they carried the team by themselves.

We’re in a strong position for 2014. Almost all of the Braves’ best players are under 27, so a lot of them are bound to get better. Unfortunately for their fans but fortunately for us, three of the teams in the NL East are headed in the opposite direction, thanks to the brilliant leadership of Jeffrey Loria, Jeff Wilpon, and Ruben Amaro Jr. The Nationals are well-financed and have a lot of talent, but I agree with Andrelton: if they think they’re better than us, then they should look at the scoreboard.

Spring training starts in five months.

232 thoughts on “Impressions”

  1. I agree that the offense is our need. A high OBP guy in this lineup would help a bit. Where would he play though? Justin and Jason are not going anywhere – they just have to be better. Unrealized potential needs to be realized. BJ will be given CF for at least half a season, there’s just no other way to go about it. 1B and SS are set. I’m gonna assume C is set. That leaves 3B and 2B and bench as the only places we can realistically upgrade. I don’t think we can find a 3B that will hit much better than CJ did this past season. So that leaves 2B pretty much…

    So, does upgrading 2B push us to the next level? That’s a tough position to get an impact bat.

    What else can we do with the lineup?

    This is why I think we’ll spend it all on pitching.

  2. Oh God, what a terrifying thought! If Dusty Baker is my other option, I’m feeling a whole lot better about keeping Fredi right now. And that’s totally who we would hire, too.

  3. Dusty Baker makes Fredi Gonzalez look like Joe Maddon and I’m one of those internet Joe Maddon fanboys. Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope. Becoming warier and warier of a “meet the new boss, worse than the old boss” situation.

  4. I don’t think you can assume that catcher is set. Do you mean you think that the Braves will either pay McCann or install Gattis? I’m not certain about that. But the one thing that is clear to me is that the Braves need a better bench. I’d like to look for Quad-A guys or players in their mid-30s. Guys who are injury-prone but productive when healthy are good bench candidates.

    I think that the Dodgers’ Scott Van Slyke could be a fine fourth outfielder, for example, and I’m not quite sure how he fits into their plans. Matt Joyce was dreadful at the end of the year but he’s got a reasonably good bat and might be worth targeting. I’d also definitely see how much it would cost to sign Brian Roberts for our bench.

    Certainly, we could stand to improve second base — by rWAR, Uggla was worth -1.3 wins this year, which implies that the Braves would probably improve if they replaced him with Pastornicky, let alone La Stella. I think the Braves should make a trade offer for Kinsler in the offseason, because the Rangers don’t quite have a place for him right now. I’d have said the same about Utley, but he signed an extension in August so he’s probably completely off limits, but still. Cano will dominate the offseason, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the 2B market.

  5. The thing about Dusty is that he tends to win. He also tends to crap out in the playoffs, but he’s pretty good at managing veterans, he’s a calming presence, and he’s a former Brave, so he would have no trouble getting buy-in within the organization.

    That said, it always troubled Mac that the Braves never conducted a real managerial search after Bobby. They pretty much just named Fredi and that was that. So it might be productive to have an actual search. I’m also not convinced that Carlos Tosca is the best influence for Fredi on the bench. Fredi needs someone with a very different style so he can occasionally hear other points of view, and I don’t think Tosca is the guy for that.

  6. One more note on this last season:

    Thank you Alex Remington for keeping this wonderful playground thriving. It is a daily joy.

    I always wished for a place to go to talk about the Braves with smart opinions and general good will. The unabashed humor and wit are a pleasant surprise.

    The Braves broke my heart again. I’ll heal.

    Go Braves!

  7. Another thing that may get Fredi is if they ask him to can Tosca and he says no. Then they may fire him.

    I don’t see him saying no.

    I would like to get a second baseman that can leadoff. While Heyward was great in that role, I would rather have him hit second or down in the order.

    Altuve
    Heyward
    JUp
    Freeman
    Gattis
    Johnson
    BJ
    Simmons

    If BJ can bounce back, that is a solid lineup.

  8. I think Fredi and Dusty are the same people, but Dusty might do better in our clubhouse. Lateral move kinda of thing. I’ve accepted the fact that we’re probably not firing our division winning manager.

  9. Agree completely on your take on Fredi. If the players want him out, then he has to go, today, not tomorrow. But I would also question the whole narrative that he has ever been some great influence in the clubhouse. That argument seems to rely solely on the obvious fact that he is demonstrably poor, tactically, yet somehow manages a Braves team that has won on average more than 90 games a season. But it is odd, to say the least, that we have very little evidence that the Braves players on the whole have ever had much respect for the guy as a manager. Who knows, we have a lazy local media and the players are commendably tight-lipped. But to me part of what I would describe as smoke is that silence. Pirates players trip over themselves talking to reporters about Clint Hurdle. The same is true for pretty much every other team that made the playoffs, with maybe the exception of the Dodgers. If a Brave gets asked about Fredi the best you ever get is boilerplate.

  10. @10, as a general rule, I think it’s usually a terrible idea to fire the guy who won the division, because it sends a message that may be counterproductive.

    In any organization, you generally want to set the following expectations:

    1) We reward success.
    2) We punish (or at least do not reward) failure.
    3) We accept that success and failure are dependent not only on our people, but also on uncontrollable outside circumstances, so we evaluate people on their process, to determine whether they did the best they could under the circumstances.
    4) If they did, we promote them.
    5) If they didn’t, then we try to help them improve.
    6) If they cannot or will not improve, then we let them go.

    Firing someone who won the division does not help create a culture of rewarding success and punishing failure, because the playoffs are a crapshoot and Bobby Cox didn’t get fired for winning the division but losing in the playoffs.

    However, I think that Fredi needs to understand that the team’s tight, uncoordinated, error-prone play at the end of the year is becoming a frequent theme of his tenure, and that needs to change or he needs to go. That is the success on which he will be evaluated.

  11. What’s the point of firing Fredi and replacing him with Dusty? You realize that Aroldis Chapman stood in the bullpen waiting for a save that didn’t come in their game too right? A thousand times nope.

  12. As for specific causes of player dissatisfaction, I agree with the other comments in the last thread that it might have something to do with jamming a guy inside on a 95 mph fastball and getting a shallow fly only to turn around and see that Fredi had his outfielders playing on the warning track in the second inning. Or painting the corner with a changeup and getting what you think is a routine grounder to short only to watch it roll into center field because Fredi had Andrelton playing practically behind third base. But I suspect it is exacerbated by the fact that Fredi never admits when he screwed up, and his response is usually to double down. Forget about the Kimbrel criticism, his reaction to which is totally absurd, but he was asked after Game 1 about the shifts:

    Q. It seemed like you shifted maybe a little bit more than usual last night, would that be accurate? Or was that maybe more of a product of Puig beating the shift twice?
    FREDI GONZALEZ: You’re talking about‑‑

    Q. Defensive shift, yes.
    FREDI GONZALEZ: No, we normally shift. Not over‑shift. Or maybe we over‑shifted a couple of guys during the course of the year, but we thought that with Medlen pitching and the changeup that Puig was going to pull the ball a little bit more.

    And then what does Fredi do in the eighth inning with a one-run lead and the whole season on the line, against the same fucking guy who has already shown he is happy to beat your stupid shift? He still over-shifts, even when it means playing Freeman way off the the line at first. And what happens is entirely predictable.

  13. Good list of “Impressions”, but in the final analysis, I would argue the biggest missing piece on our playoff team was Ramiro Pena. With Pena, there’s no Uggla controversy, no Elliot Johnson, no 7 outfielders. And, oh yeah, a reasonable expectation of useful offensive production. His injury was a killer.

  14. @14

    Well, the Reds were never ahead in the wild-card game, so it’s kind of different, but Dusty has plenty of spectacularly bad postseason decisions without that. If Cubs fans felt like they had to ruin someone’s life after their ’03 NLCS catastrophe, it probably should’ve been Dusty Baker rather than Steve Bartman. With an assist to Alex Gonzalez (the other one).

  15. @16, “But I suspect it is exacerbated by the fact that Fredi never admits when he screwed up, and his response is usually to double down.”

    Or more often tip his cap to the opponent. Which he did to the Dodgers after Game 4, natch.

  16. 15–If in fact Fredi has lost the clubhouse then I don’t possibly see how it can be true that most of the candidates to replace Fredi would be worse than Fredi. In fact, the opposite is true. Anyone who is not a clown would be better. I would argue that the limitations on the quality of managerial candidate pools are almost always the product of artificial and generally ill-considered parameters established by front offices. Have a real search for something that isn’t trying to clone Bobby Cox and there is no reason you can’t find a Mike Matheny. Based on the very limited data I have available as a fan I’ve already told you who I would hire and I am fairly certain he’d be a tremendous choice, especially for this team: Jason Giambi. But I suspect there are dozens of other good candidates too.

  17. @20, And that’s where Uggla and his self-serving approach to his eye condition comes in. He apparently strung the team along without any knowledge that he couldn’t see the ball, then held out eye surgery as a panacea. We all bought into it. His post-surgery numbers were even more awful than what he’d done before.

    Getting your personnel straight in such a situation is not something I’m gonna pin on Wren or Fredi. If the “clubhouse” is upset solely on his behalf, then they have a serious objectivity problem. The only thing they could conceivably have done better would be to have called up La Stella in September, but, again, we were in “wait and see” mode for Uggla, plus we had an el cheapo solution in Johnson that was playing tantalizingly over his head.

  18. If you can’t find a manager capable of making rational decisions then you’re lazy and not doing your job. Just because you can’t name some guy who’s recently out of work you can retread out there and hope for different results you think is better doesn’t mean there aren’t better candidates. I don’t want a retread Dusty Baker type who will only do things one way I want someone willing to challenge the status quo and add something to the team other than “keeping the clubhouse together”.

  19. @23, the thing is I don’t disagree with Alex when he says the pool of Fredi-replacement-candidates would be generally worse than Fredi. There are a lot of Kirk Gibsons out there.

    I just wonder how that situation came to be. We’re firmly entrenched in the era of analytics, except “The Book” as an in-game decision manual survives except in a few remote outposts. It feels anomalous in 2013.

  20. Actually the second baseman I’m looking at is Howie Kendrick. He’s signed for two more years at just under $10 million each season. I think LAA is considering doing a revamp to free up some cash so they can get competitive before Mike Trout starts thinking about $300 million himself. They traded for Grant Green who may or may not be a major league regular but it seems they’re willing to give him a shot.

    If all else fails, I say Robinson Cano for one year and $30 million.

  21. @24, the difference is that front office staff can be 30-year old MBAs, and managers and coaches HAVE to be ex-players. Thus, the pool is 40-, 50-, and 60- year olds who learned everything they know know about baseball from guys who managed in the ’90s and played in the ’60s. That’s why so many managers are clueless old-fashioned in their thinking.

    Be glad the Braves have Wren and Fredi not Dayton and Yost. We’d be much worse off if we did.

  22. @25 – Do you REALLY think Cano signs a one year contract????

    @20 – Totally agree. Pena had Pumpkin written all over him.

    Y’all are doing that thing where you over state the effect a manager has on wins and losses. The Braves won 96 games and a divisional championship with Fredi at the helm. The roster decisions had little to do with the play off loss. Medlen and Teheran didn’t pitch and our hitters didn’t hit, its that simple.

    I agree with Alex that offense should be top priority this off season. But I have a feeling that Pastornicky/LaStella will be the first choice for 2b.

  23. the Captain and the Kings depart
    recriminations surely start
    it’s really deja vu
    for each opposing view
    there’s others you can’t tell apart.

  24. Thanks for making the Dusty Baker point so I didn’t have to, Alex. If you get mad at Fredi for letting his starter bat in 6th only to pull him when he lets the lead-off batter on to start the 7th, just wait until you get a load of Dusty letting him bat in the 6th and then leaving him in to give up three more runs while throwing 120 pitches!

    I don’t want a retread Dusty Baker type who will only do things one way I want someone willing to challenge the status quo and add something to the team other than “keeping the clubhouse together”.

    #joemaddenheartsparkdollarsign

    You know who is probably 60-70% likely to take over the team if Fredi is fired? Terry Pendleton. So, think on that if you will.

  25. I too think Dan Uggla is done. In fact, if you go back and listen to the first podcast we did this year, you’ll hear me tell Alan that I thought Uggla was done in spring training. And I don’t think Dan Uggla is back in Atlanta next year. I think that bridge is B-U-R-N-T burnt. That said, I don’t think I’d go out of plan to find a stop gap for him. My plan for 2014 would be:

    1. Fix BJ Upton.

    2. Bring Andrelton Simmons along his seemingly natural progression curve.

    3. Trade Jordan Schafer to Kansas City for something better than Jordan Schafer.

    4. Dangle Evan Gattis and see what bites. If there’s a good deal, go to war in 2014 with Laird and Bethancourt.

  26. If we’re living in a world where the set of Fredi’s potential replacements is made up of guys that are demonstrably worse (not the set of all candidates, but the set of candidates that the Braves would consider), then maybe the problem is a lot higher up. I won’t be holding my breath waiting for Liberty to make a move. I think they are pretty content with their division-winning tax write-off.

  27. @31 – Let’s not limit ourselves to the potential set of likely’s. Let’s look at the entire set. Who do you think would be better than Fredi. Obviously guys that are locked into contracts – *cough*joemadden*cough* – have to be discounted. But otherwise, who would you like to see in the corner of the dugout instead?

  28. I’m not ready to see Fredi go, I think, but would be worried if he’s lost the clubhouse. Some coaching staff changes might be in order, but I honestly don’t know enough about what certain coaches do to know if it matters. probably just rearranging deck chairs. Pendleton could hit the road and I don’t know if I’d care, but think the issue he had with Chris Johnson was bothersome. This team needs hitting, pure and simple. In most cases, that means that the people signed need to improve, which worries me greatly. Obviously, BJ is the biggest example, but also Heyward being more consistent (and consistently healthy), along with JUpton. Anything will seemingly be an improvement over Uggla at 2B, and hope that offensive production at the catcher position is better from Gattis/Laird than BMac. Hope for the best from Pena, and look to upgrade the bench somewhat, unless Success can get better and stay better. Squeeze another year out of Hudson at pitcher and hope for Beachy to return healthy, while figuring out where Wood and Hale can help.

  29. Fixing BJ Upton is wishcasting. May as well fix Uggla too while we’re at it.

    I’m not saying we have any options other than crossing our fingers and hoping, but counting on a turnaround isn’t the ideal situation. After watching this year I think it’d be better for all parties if the Upton brothers weren’t on the same team. But there’s not a scenario I can think of where that would even be possible.

  30. Addendum to @30:

    5. Go with Elliot Johnson or Ramiro Pena until La Stella is ready.

    Heyward 9
    CJohnson 5
    Freeman 3
    JUpton 7
    BJUpton 8
    Laird/Gattis 2
    Simmons 6
    Elliot/Pena 4

  31. @34 – I don’t know Brain Bannister. Who is he and what does he bring?

    @32 – BJ Upton is going into the second year of a five year deal. You have to do everything you can to fix him. The guy clearly has a lot of talent. He has a wide skill set and is not old (neither of which you can say about Uggla.) If they can’t fix BJ Upton, they’re fucked.

  32. Brian Bannister, the 32 year old pitcher who just hung them up after the Japanese tsunami? That guy?

  33. @32, I have no idea. There are literally thousands of people that could do the job. The qualifications are baseball knowledge and leadership skills. Find someone younger with a level head and sabermetric leanings and give it a shot. That’s not in the Brave’s DNA so I may as well be searching for unicorns. That kind of risk-taking will only happen with the low-budget teams. One day the Astros or Marlins or Padres or someone will make that hire.

  34. Greg Maddux? Does he have any desire to manage? I’ve never heard a peep about him in that regard. If so, can he relate to players who don’t have his talent? (The Ted Williams as manager problem.)

    Giambi: what does he bring other than a different name and a PED history? What makes him a good choice for manager?

  35. @24, 28

    I refuse to believe Joe Maddon is the only person in baseball capable of managing like Joe Maddon. If the front office committed to a way of playing the game and hired a manager with the expressed directive of managing to that end then it can be done. Clint Hurdle is an old baseball guy but he bought into what the front office MBAs were selling and suddenly the Pirates were in the playoffs. It can be done it just takes a direction from the organization. Sam and Alex and whoever else is a Fredi apologist because “he won 96 games and there’s no one better” are completely missing the point.

    I think the reason Sam is so entrenched in this position though goes back to his stated preference for baseball viewing which is “in half empty stadiums on summer afternoons” and if that’s what you’re after then Fredi and Braves probably do it for you. Unfortunately the competition the Braves play in does not go after most pleasant Sunday afternoons but in winning a post season tournament. The Braves as a franchise are woefully inept at winning this tournament and have been for 20 years now and at some point enough is enough.

  36. Of the Uptons, the one the Braves are least tied to is Justin. JUpton could possibly be a huge trade chip.

    Conversely, JUpton is young, talented and could also possibly morph into a beast; or he could continue to be the inconsistent tease he’s always been.

    I guess the same could be said for Jason, but Jason does so many things well that his streaky offense is overcome by his other contributions.

  37. There are literally thousands of people that could do the job.

    See, this is why we can’t really have a conversation. Do you honestly think there are literally THOUSANDS of potential MLB managers in the world? Do you disrespect the manager’s job so thoroughly that you think anyone with a spreadsheet and a chart with the players’ names on it could do it? Seriously? THOUSANDS?! That’s absurd.

  38. @44, yes…thousands is understating it. It’s a middle-management job. Part baby-sitter, part teacher, part father, part baseball strategy (which isn’t difficult). The GM calls the shots and makes the plans. The manager executes the plan.

  39. Clint Hurdle is an old baseball guy but he bought into what the front office MBAs were selling and suddenly the Pirates were in the playoffs.

    The Pirates got lucky. They’re primed to crash next season, in case you didn’t notice. Bounceback seasons from AJ Burnett, Francisco Liriano. Career years from Jason Grilli, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke. Outside of McCutchen and Gerrit Cole they’re put together with spit, tape and bailing wire.

  40. @30

    Trade Gattis? Hmmm… His value is probably at an all time high. An AL team would probably overpay fo him too.

  41. @46 – I’ll give you this. You are not afraid to embrace your own hubris.

    @42 – Unfortunately the competition the Braves play in does not go after most pleasant Sunday afternoons but in winning a post season tournament. The Braves as a franchise are woefully inept at winning this tournament and have been for 20 years now and at some point enough is enough.

    Joe Maddon’s playoff record @ Tampa Bay:

    2006 – DNQ
    2007 – DNQ
    2008 – 2-1 (AL Champions; lost WS)
    2009 – DNQ
    2010 – 0-1 (Lost LDS to Texas)
    2011 – 0-1 (Lost LDS to Texas)
    2012 – DNQ
    2013 – 1-1 (Won WC play-in v CLE; lost LDS to Boston)

    Where, exactly, does the notion that Joe Maddon’s super-genius wins playoff series come from again?

  42. Bannister was known for being a very sabermetrically oriented pitcher. In several different interviews, he described his strategic process, trying to use statistical methods to make the most of his fringy stuff. Eloquent, self-aware, and smart. I don’t know if he’s a leader, but I think he might be a good teacher. I certainly wouldn’t mind hiring him and making him a minor league pitching coach, at least.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/01/brian-bannister.html
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/01/brian-bannist-1.html
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/01/brian-bannist-2.html

  43. @48 – there are three Braves that are currently “sell high” options. Schafer, Gattis and Chris Johnson. Of those three, I think Johnson is the only reasonably safe bet to be productive in 2014.

  44. @50 – I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him brought into the organization. I like him as much as the next saber-dork out there. But I don’t know that you hire a guy that’s never been a Brave, never been in the Braves organization, never coached or managed at any level, to be your field general.

  45. @43, that’s an intriguing idea for sure. I think we won’t give up on either after one season, But if you were looking to go a different direction then that’s the most feasible path.

    @30, what do you think Gattis’ market value is? Would the fans mutiny? I think I’d consider moving him in a package for ShutdownAcePlayoffStudPitcher…have been thinking that way since the summer. But he’s cheap and reasonably good. Nice problem to have I guess.

  46. In 2006 when Alabama fired Mike Shula everyone was behind it because he was a bad coach out of his league. Everyone except one of my friends who to this day maintains that it was too “risky” to fire him at that point because he didn’t know who was going to be better to replace him. The logic of the argument is ridiculous and it’s not important that we ended up with Nick Saban the best option possible, however the same argument is being posited here about the Braves job. Fredi Gonzalez is woefully inadequate as a game manager and has seemingly lost the clubhouse, it’s time for him to go. I will trust that the Braves as an organization can find someone with better skills even if people on the internet can’t come up with a viable candidate they all agree on.

  47. I can’t wrap my head around Sam calling out someone else for hubris and citing Joe Maddon’s playoff record as a point ostensibly in favor of Fredi Gonzalez in the same post.

  48. The Bring Kimbrel In Debate has me remembering some actual Braves postseason success- the ’99 NLDS against the Astros. Game 3 was the classic 12-inning comeback with the Walt Weiss play with Otis Nixon of all people scoring the go-ahead run. The series was 1-1 at the time, so G3 was a big momentum shift. Braves would finish off the Astros the next day. Given the game’s importance, check out who the managers used on the mound:

    BRAVES
    Tom Glavine
    Terry Mulholland
    Greg Maddux
    Mike Remlinger
    Russ Springer
    John Rocker
    Kevin Millwood

    ASTROS
    Mike Hampton
    Jose Cabrera
    Doug Henry
    Jay Powell

    So, with the season hanging on the balance, Cox used….friggin everyone. 3/4ths of his playoff starting staff. He brought Rocker in at the exact moment the game was at the highest risk, and brought in the best starter that season to shut things down.

    Meanwhile, after Hampton left, Dierker went to war with a guy who threw less than 30 IP on the season and two crummy middle relievers. And *no* Billy Wagner, not even in a game that went 12 innings, not even when the Braves got runners on in the top of the 12th. I think Fredi’s decision was a difficult one and could’ve gone either way. This? I would’ve canned Dierker on the spot.

  49. @53 – I don’t know what Gattis might fetch. I think the smart move – the saber move – is to dangle him and see who comes fishing. Because while he has tons of power, that .290 OBP is ugly. Find an org in the AL that needs a C/DH combo and see what they offer. Obviously we’d like a 2B or a starting pitcher, though I doubt Gattis gets you a “shutdown ace” for the top of your rotation. Not by himself. I think the smarter move might be to wait (and hope) until McCann signs with Texas and Cano somewhere outside of NYY, taking them off of the Yankees’ get-list. Then offer Gattis and Uggla for something vaguely helpful, as a salary dump.

  50. @55 – My point is summarized nicely by Alex @57. Your comment explicitly calls out Fredi/the Braves for losing playoff series. You said you want to hire “someone like Joe Maddon” to avoid losing playoff series.

    JOE MADDON LOSES PLAYOFF SERIES! That seems…relevant.

    Now, the larger picture fact here is that everyone loses playoff series. If you’re going out to fire/hire managers on the “find someone who knows the secret to winning in short series playoff scenarios” you’re screwed from the start. That skillset doesn’t exist.

  51. @58, I’m a bit more optimistic about Gattis’ ceiling than you, so I don’t mind rolling with him at C next season at all. That said, if we could package him for an ace then I’d probably do it. An ace is going to cost a ton, so Gattis would just be the cherry-on-top part of any deal.

  52. I have no idea whether or not Greg Maddux would want the position. But given that he has continued to stick around the game in various capacities, whether in the WBC or for MLB teams, I think it’s pretty likely he’d listen. His personality is nothing like Ted Williams, who was, by most accounts, an egomaniac and an asshole. The only potential drawback is that it might put our otherwise excellent pitching coach in a weird spot.

    Giambi is a perfect fit and I’ll happily tell you why. First, the PED stuff is a red herring. Unlike all these other players, he came clean and didn’t make any fucking excuses about it. Second, by all accounts he has a brilliant understanding of the game. He’s not going to bunt a guy to second with no outs in the third inning. Third, unlike Fredi he not only had a major league career but he put up a .920 OPS over 19 seasons. That experience commands a kind of respect that Fredi can’t. Fourth, he’s well know to be a fantastic influence in the clubhouse. There is a reason Colorado seriously considered him for the job last season, and there is a reason the Cleveland clubhouse considered a 42 year old that hit .180 their MVP. Fifth, he’s young and energetic and I don’t buy this crap that a young team needs some steady old hand. It’s bullshit, frankly, and I think I guy who was know to keep the clubhouse loose in Oakland by parading around in a winning streak thong is a likelier route to playing loose and confident in the postseason than a guy who manages like he’s scared shitless all the time.

    Sixth, we have a great pitching coach, and what we need is a manager who can mentor and get the best possible at-bats out of Heyward, Simmons, Gattis, La Stella and maybe even, dare I say it, BJ Upton.

  53. That’s not a bad case for Giambi. I don’t buy Maddux as a coach, much less a manager. He’s never shown the personality for it.

    I don’t buy the “managers like he’s scared shitless all the time” bit about Fredi, though. I don’t really see where that’s the case. I think, more likely, it’s a version of the “Andruw doesn’t care” problem. The short version of that:

    Andruw Jones’ natural facial expression looked for all intents and purposes like a smile. It was just how his face looked. When he made a great play in the OF? Smiling. When he jacked a HR? Smiling. When he K’d for the 278th consecutive at bat, flailing helplessly at the slider away that every sentient animal and most forms of plant life knew was coming? Smiling. When the bad thing happened, people would explode about how Andruw didn’t care enough, because did you see him smirk and grin after striking out?!

    But he did care. He wasn’t smiling, per se. That was just his face.

    Fredi is not “scared shitless” in my opinion. He isn’t lifeless in the dugout. He doesn’t “not care.” That’s just his face. And honestly, every time I read this sort of critique of him, all I really hear is “I just can’t stand his stupid face.” Which isn’t a particularly compelling critique.

  54. @60 I’m happy to give Gattis a shot next year – he’s got the kind of power bat that we thought we were getting with Uggla, and to my eye his catcher defense was just fine; pitch calling was good, throwing arm good, pitch framing OK (but not up to McCann’s stellar level). I also have hope that Gattis can make some offensive adjustments to counteract what the league did to him in the 2nd half of the season (when he put up a .241/.272/.406 line). I still think he can go .250/.320/.450+ going forward if he can be more selective at the plate.

    As far as trade value – unfortunately at this point I think Gattis looks a bit too much like John Buck/Miguel Olivo/J. P. Arencibia for any team to give us a lot in return for him. I bet Phillies fans are having similar conversations on their websites where they discuss whether they can package Darin Ruf to get an All-Star caliber player.

  55. Sam, you’ve got me confused with someone else. Never in the history of Braves Journal, or in my entire 2nd career of typing meaningless posts onto random internet message boards, have I ever mentioned Joe Maddon’s name prior to post 55 here. I guess that’s understandable since you’ve got this weird habit of calling anyone who would dare question Fredi’s competence an internet Joe Maddon fanboy, although I’d bet that you’ve brought him up more than all other posters combined. That said, winning any playoff series is preferential to losing all of them, and there Maddon’s still got Fredi beat.

    Anyway, I’ve said already that I think a lot of the crap Fredi caught in the regular season was BS. He oversaw a pretty spectacular failure in 2011 and seemed to learn from it in 2012, only to be undone by a ridiculous one game playoff that no one in their right mind would blame him for. And I will say that his regular season record in 2013 was impressive by any measure, even with the September mediocrity.

    But he lost me with the sheer volume of stupidity on display in this series. From roster construction to defensive positioning to watching Evan Gattis field an inordinate amount of run-scoring base hits, Fredi was a net negative in a series that wasn’t even close. And then, when the series finally threatened to get close, he ruined it all by leaving his all-universe reliever in the bullpen.

  56. My comments RE: Joe Maddon’s playoff record @49 were in direct response to gaz’s comments that I quoted directly, from @42. His argument was that we needed to fire Fredi so the Braves would stop losing playoff series.

    You then popped up to complain that I was out of line in my critique of Maddon’s lack of playoff wins, because Fredi hasn’t won playoff series.

    You were incorrect because you apparently failed to read the entire sub-thread. If you go back and follow the exchange, I think my point is pretty obvious and clear.

  57. And trading Evan Gattis, especially as some kind of salary dump, just because he put up a .290 OBP in his first 350 at-bats at any level above AA, is a terrible idea. He’s only a sell high candidate if you believe this is as good as it gets, and that position has little or no evidence to support it. Given that no team will pay the Braves for his theoretical ceiling, as a player that is cost-controlled for his entire period of peak production, he is worth far more to the Braves than to teams that can afford to pay market price for offensive production. It makes far more sense to see if he can stick at catcher, let Bethancourt continue to develop as a hitter at AAA, and then trade him next year, after he’s put up an .850+ OPS at a prime position and we have a stud ready to take his place.

  58. @59

    The fact is that the Rays are going into a series against the Red Sox with Longoria, Myers and a bunch of crap in their lineup but the way they play kept them in it. Joe Maddon is a part of that, he plays platoon splits right, shifts the defense correctly (not because “we thought Medlen would throw a lot of changeups”), and manages his bullpen to maximize it’s efficiency. Consider that his best reliever is not his closer, but is used in the highest leverage situations. That’s not baseball code but it’s maximizing strengths. Also consider the way he managed his pitching in game 4… The first sign of trouble Hellickson was yanked and the Rays stayed in the game all the way through while rolling through the entirety of their pitching staff. Fredi left Garcia in game 4 about 4 innings too long and happened to get away with it because the Dodgers hit a bunch of balls right at us.

    So unless you’re prepared to make the argument that Joe Maddon does not add anything to the teams he manages then I don’t know what the hell your point is. That he hasn’t won a world series with one of the most hamstrung operations in baseball? Again you’re missing the point. The manager is not going to win or lose you a post season series by himself, but having someone who is adding value to the situation is hugely beneficial. I’m not saying if the Braves hired Joe Maddon or someone of his ilk that they would automatically win the pennant but it would be a significant improvement and I want the Braves to want to improve, not be satisfied with winning a shitty division and being outclassed in the playoffs.

  59. And to be clear, I don’t think “adding value” is wholly prohibited to using stats and managing your bullpen right. Bobby Cox was universally respected and added value in that his players played for him. I think Jason Giambi would add value through many of the reasons that JCMM has mentioned previously. I don’t think Fredi Gonzalez adds anything and I think he’s woefully inadequate in many ways as well.

  60. Let me sum up for you, gaz.

    Joe Maddon fails to win playoff series because of bad luck and payroll limitations.

    Fredi Gonzalez fails to win playoff series because of his stupid face.

    Whatever. This is the most irrational, fanboy crap this side of the AJC comments section. The only difference is that the irrational thinking leans “sabermetric” rather than “they didn’t want it enough!”

    (Although, truth be told, there’s a strong undercurrent of “they didn’t want it enough” in that “critique” being levied @67.)

  61. My claim that Fredi manages like he’s scared shitless has nothing to do with his facial expression, it has to do with how he manages. Bunting the runner over in the third inning tells your team that the manager doesn’t think you are capable of putting up a crooked number. Playing the outfield on the warning track in the second inning tells your team that he thinks that if you don’t pitch a shutout you will lose, and that they’d better be careful about charging hard after a shallow fly, because otherwise you might turn a single into an extra-base hit. Not going to Kimbrel tells your team that you are afraid your all-universe pitcher might only be able to go four outs rather than six.

    The shorter version: in my experience all of the conformists and the radically orthodox that I have ever met did so not because they had some deep understanding of the value inherent in such beliefs, but because on some fundamental level they were afraid.

  62. Also, with all of your “fanboy crap” etc., you are basically nothing but a troll, Sam, and I am a fool for having engaged you. Lesson learned.

  63. @66 – So, if a team was willing to take a good portion of Uggla’s contract and wanted Gattis as a sweetner, its still a bad idea? After the first two months of the season he failed to put up an OBP > .300. An .850 OPS from him is pretty wishful thinking.

    I like Gattis. But if someone wanted him as part of a deal that would help the Braves then I’d trade him.

  64. If the manager doesn’t matter then who cares who we have. If he does matter then it’s not irrational to want to improve that position.

    I do buy into the narrative that Joe Maddon has overcome more roster/payroll limitations than anyone that’s ever managed the Braves. He also is in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox. The fact that you’re tired of people praising him plays to your all-things-contrarian ethos, but there’s a reason he’s got so many internet fanboys. Being the only Fredi internet fanboy is tough duty.

  65. I just want to say today has been very entertaining reading from both sides. I’m still not sure which side I fall on (or if I fall on either side) but it sure has been some good reading. Thanks for that.

  66. @70 ‘Bunting the runner over in the third inning tells your team that the manager doesn’t think you are capable of putting up a crooked number.’

    Uh, we were having a hard time putting up crooked numbers.

    ‘Playing the outfield on the warning track in the second inning tells your team that he thinks that if you don’t pitch a shutout you will lose, and that they’d better be careful about charging hard after a shallow fly, because otherwise you might turn a single into an extra-base hit.

    Weren’t we playing a catcher in LF, a RF in CF and a LF in RF?

  67. 75–If using anyone other than the pitcher to bunt a guy over actually increased the odds of scoring a single run, let alone multiple runs, our seeming inability to put up crooked numbers might be a consideration worth having, but it doesn’t, so it isn’t.

    Playing the outfield deep does not make it any easier for a converted catcher to make the routine play in LF. It lets guys go first to third on sharply hit singles to CF and allows a bunch of shallow flies to drop turning outs into big innings. It is the right call in the late innings of tied or one-run games. It is a terrible call in the early innings of any game.

  68. @69

    The Braves lost the series because the Dodgers have better players. However, in my opinion Fredi Gonzalez did not put his team in the best possible position to win. I think Fredi Gonzalez is not the best possible person to manage the Braves and that they should attempt to find someone better. THIS is my point. Not whatever garbage you spewed together about his face or Joe Maddon that I never said anything about or whatever AJC comment you’re making. Make an argument about why we should keep him and stop just trying to poke and prod holes in other people’s opinions because you’re tired of hearing about one guy everyone likes.

  69. Cosign #71. Except for the lesson learned part.

    There’s a laundry list of things that Fredi has been criticized for over the last week. Valid or not, those criticisms have been of tactical decisions made in a playoff series of baseball games. For Sam to disregard all of it and deride it as a single “fanboy” argument over someone’s stupid face is beneath this website. And he’s the one comparing everyone else to the AJC comments section? Come the fuck on.

  70. I’m pretty sure its easier to come in on a ball than go back on one. Just saying.

    We didn’t have a ‘seeming inability to put up crooked numbers’, we weren’t putting up crooked numbers. Look, I hate the sacrifice bunt as much as anyone does. It’s a waste of precious outs. But in a way instead of being ‘scared’ Fredi was actually managing aggressively in those cases. Right?

    You are putting too much of this playoff loss on Gonzalez. You are entitled to that opinion but please realize that its a very old fashioned knee jerk reaction that less enlightened fans have.

  71. Gaz and I are Bama fans, so we hear and watch a lot of Nick Saban.

    Nick Saban tells us that process, not outcomes, are what one should measure himself against. As the undisputed monarch of the most resource-rich program in America, Saban can control every aspect of the process and thus he has won us multiple championships. He has effectively merged process and outcome, which blurs the argument a bit, but anyway.

    A baseball manager does not have that level of control over other aspects of a baseball team’s process. He can’t hand-select all the players in the organization like a college coach can. But what we Joe Maddon Internet Fanboys like about the guy is that his process for maximizing the things he can control seems sound, even when his owner’s cheap-ass roster doesn’t necessarily win playoff series.

    It’s not and shouldn’t be a past-results-based argument. We’re contemplating the potential for future results, not past performance. Nick Saban didn’t become NICK SABAN until he paired his process with the resources of SEC schools. If you just looked at his Michigan State record you’d just say lol this guy is second tier.

    Is Maddon’s procedural soundness the equivalent to hiring Saban? Of course not – to the extent that people have been able to figure the effect of a baseball manager, it’s a couple wins a season. But if one of those “swing games” turns out to be a postseason game, it’s a big deal.

    Strategic soundness is just one way of many to squeeze an extra couple wins out of a roster, but until the Braves get an oil magnate who can spend our way out of roster mistakes in charge, it’s not a thing we can neglect.

  72. @72-Gattis was pretty awful in June July and August, there is no question about that, but I think that has as much to do with how he was being used as anything else. It is hard to make adjustments when you are not playing, and it is hard to focus on hitting when you are getting most of your starts when starting in a position where you are clearly not comfortable, and the injury certainly compounded all of that. He put up a .780 OPS in September though, which seems to me to be a fairly safe baseline. To get to .850 all he has to do is put a few more balls in play and walk at a rate closer to what he did in a much larger sample of minor and winter league at-bats.

  73. @80

    The manager did not lose the playoff series. Like I said, the Dodgers pay for better players and have a decided advantage when they can lose $40 million of payroll in Kemp and Either and still roll with $40 million more of Crawford and Puig not to mention HRam, Gonzalez, Kershaw, Grienke, etc any one of which makes more than most of what the Braves trotted out the whole series. The Dodgers just have better players and should have won and did. That’s not to say that the Braves could not have won and I don’t think the manager helped at all in that regard.

    The move to not put Uggla on the roster obviously backfired as it didn’t really add anything to the roster and ignored the fact that much of the clubhouse was tight with him. Bunting Simmons in game 2 with EJ and Constanza coming up was decidedly sub optimal strategy and he only got bailed out because Don Mattingly is even dumber and somehow chose to face Heyward instead of Constanza. Starting Teheran in game 3 was a mistake given his home/road splits and while you wouldn’t expect him to be THAT bad you can’t be wholly surprised that he struggled. And then there was game 4 which is well documented, not only about Kimbrel but how he handled the whole staff the whole game.

    Ultimately the Braves lost because they didn’t get on base enough, but there are plenty of valid criticisms about how the series was managed and given the fact that most of us have been whining about him ever since he got hired (I seem to recall Mac’s original post about him predicting he had 3 years) this is really only confirming what we already know.

  74. @82 Yea, I feel pretty good that Gattis’ production can be more in line with the beginning and end of the year than the middle. He’s not untouchable by any stretch (my personal feelings for him aside), but he’s also a cost-controlled catcher with tremendous power potential. That’s not easy to come by, and shouldn’t be given up without significant return.

  75. 80-I am not arguing that Fredi should be fired because of the playoffs or that the losses are his fault. The team played tight, as they did last year in the wild card game and the previous season’s late-season collapse. The manager and his tactics deserve some measure of responsibility for that. That’s all.

  76. @82 – Only a .270 OBP in September. That is the problem with OPS. It weighs SLG equally with OBP and we all know that is not the case. I still say .850 is wishful thinking.

    In any case the point I was trying to make is that, to your point, Gattis does represent potential. Potential is valuable on the trade market. If the Braves could get a more proven player, or extract themselves from some of Uggla’s contract and Gattis has to be part of the deal then you trade him. Your contention is that its foolish to let him go.

  77. McCann did not hit in August, September and October. (0.193). We may have been better off with Laird/Gattis catching. Gattis batting suffered with his injury and playing a new position. I expect he was hurting before he went on DL. Heyward’s broken face caused us to play LA rather than the Pirates. We lost not only Pena but Pastornicky at 2B and Uggla went blind. McCann may not get the contract that was projected. BJ not hitting cost Barves their best PH. Reed getting hurt cost 2nd best PH.

  78. I’d agree that an .850 OPS for Gattis is likely wishful thinking, because he’s a slow runner who hits a lot of flyballs and popups, and his minor and MLB statlines all indicate he won’t walk a whole lot either. That means he’s not likely to post a high AVG or OBP. Steamer’s 2014 projection for Gattis is .255/.306/.466, that seems pretty fair. Obviously, I’d love to see a higher OBP to go with that tasty SLG. The key will be his BB/K rate, which was about .75 in A+/AA in ’12 but down to .26 for the Braves last year.

  79. .850 OPS for Gattis isn’t unthinkable – just a few more walks and stay healthy. I wouldn’t bet the over or anything, but it’s not unthinkable.

    We need an .850 from someone though. Corner OF’ers … let’s do it in 2014.

  80. @83 – ‘The move to not put Uggla on the roster obviously backfired as it didn’t really add anything to the roster and ignored the fact that much of the clubhouse was tight with him.’

    You assert this as if you know this is true. I could get around this type of commentary if you put IMHO in front of it. You have no way of knowing if it was a ‘fact’ that the clubhouse was tight. I am sure that there were some hard feelings over leaving a popular veteran off the playoff roster. But these guys are professionals. They deal with it all the time. Guys get hurt, traded, demoted etc all year long.

    Bunting Simmons, he of the .296 OBP and 16 GIDP so that a couple of contact hitters could get a chance is bad tactics? I respectfully disagree.

    Fredi Gonzalez is not a genius. He is not a revolutionary baseball thinker. But I have to say I have respect for a guy that does leave an unproductive veteran off the playoff roster, salary and status be damned. Putting a slap hitting contact guy with speed on the roster thinking that maybe all we’ll need is a single or hard contact in his place could be construed as pretty radical thinking, no? Knowing his team is struggling to score runs, bunting Mr. short pop up Simmons is out of the box thinking IMHO.

    Subject beaten do death guys. Sorry for extending the discourse.

  81. @91 I respectfully disagree but we’ll just go back and forth with no conclusion so I’ll just leave it at that.

  82. Here are the 2014 free agents. Asterisk means that there is an option for 2014 on their current contract. So, sho do you guys want?

    Second Basemen
    Robinson Cano
    Alexi Casilla
    Mark Ellis *
    Mike Fontenot
    Omar Infante
    Kelly Johnson
    Nick Punto
    Ryan Raburn
    Brian Roberts
    Ramon Santiago
    Skip Schumaker
    Chase Utley
    Ben Zobrist *

    Catchers
    Rod Barajas
    Henry Blanco
    John Buck
    Jesus Flores
    Ramon Hernandez
    Gerald Laird
    Brian McCann
    Jose Molina
    Dioner Navarro
    Wil Nieves
    Miguel Olivo
    Ronny Paulino
    Brayan Pena
    A.J. Pierzynski
    Humberto Quintero
    Carlos Ruiz
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    Kelly Shoppach
    Chris Snyder
    Geovany Soto
    Kurt Suzuki *
    Yorvit Torrealba

    Starting Pitchers
    Bronson Arroyo
    Scott Baker
    Erik Bedard
    Nick Blackburn *
    A.J. Burnett
    Chris Capuano *
    Chris Carpenter
    Bruce Chen
    Bartolo Colon
    Aaron Cook
    Jorge De La Rosa
    Scott Feldman
    Gavin Floyd
    Jeff Francis
    Armando Galarraga
    Jon Garland
    Matt Garza
    Roy Halladay *
    Jason Hammel
    Aaron Harang *
    Rich Harden
    Dan Haren
    Roberto Hernandez
    Tim Hudson
    Phil Hughes
    Ubaldo Jimenez *
    Josh Johnson
    Jeff Karstens
    Hiroki Kuroda
    John Lannan
    Jon Lester *
    Colby Lewis
    Ted Lilly
    Tim Lincecum
    Derek Lowe
    Paul Maholm
    Shaun Marcum
    Jason Marquis
    Daisuke Matsuzaka
    Brett Myers *
    Ricky Nolasco
    Mike Pelfrey
    Andy Pettitte
    Wandy Rodriguez *
    Jonathan Sanchez
    Ervin Santana
    Johan Santana *
    Joe Saunders *
    James Shields *
    Tim Stauffer
    Jason Vargas
    Ryan Vogelsong *
    Edinson Volquez
    Tsuyoshi Wada *
    Chien-Ming Wang
    Chris Young
    Barry Zito

  83. BTW, good job AAR. I really haven’t been on as much since the passing of Mac and relocating to New York. It’s good the site is still up and running smoothly.

    In regards to Fredi, I honestly have no gripes. I’m more upset that McCann didn’t show up, followed closely by Upton and Heyward.

  84. 91-You do realize Elliot Johnson’s career line includes 211 K’s in 730 at-bats, right? Is that your definition of a contact hitter? Because to me giving up an out and taking the bat out of the hands of the guy with a .788 OPS since the all-star break when you have Elliot Johnson and Constanza on deck is the definition of stupid.

  85. Ripken’s name has been mentioned for the Nats job a couple of times though I don’t think there is anything to it at this point.

    As I’ve mentioned I wouldn’t get rid of Fredi but if they did, I wouldn’t mind Ripken or even Mike Maddux.

  86. Chase Utley was extended. He’s not available.

    I’ll cosign the “we were trying to scrape one run and playing out OF deep because the entire OF was out of position and the offense was terrible” and throw in an “AGAINST CLAYTON KERSHAW!” for good measure. I can’t really get up in arms about not playing for a crooked number against a guy that doesn’t have any crooked numbers to the left of the decimal point in his seasonal ERA.

  87. @93

    I’d overpay Zobrist (though not sure how available he is?), roll with Laird/Gattis at catcher and take 1 year flyers on Carpenter and Johnson and throw in Capuano just so we can kill him for good like we did Livan. Also Derek Lowe! Let’s get that guy!

  88. Laird is signed through 2014. 2 year $3M contract. People wondered why he got 2 year deal when Ross was not offered one.

  89. @93, Chase Utley would become my new favoritest player…seems not all that likely though. I might take a flyer on Josh Johnson or Ubaldo Jimenez. I’ve always liked Kuroda too. That’s a *long* list of pitchers. Not sure any of them would go right to the top of our rotation.

  90. I would think about Josh Johnson on a make-good deal. 2014 will be his age 30 season so if he turns in a good one he still has a chance to get another big contract. He knows the NL East and knows that Atlanta is a good place for pitchers. He’ll also know Fredi Gonzalez (I am assuming we keep Fredi, despite my preferences mentioned earlier).

    For 2nd base, I would check into Omar Infante. He shouldn’t fall off a cliff soon, and he offers positional flexibility if you decide to (1) try La Stella or (2) give Uggla one more shot. I think Uggla’s gone, but if you can figure out a way to fix his vision you could justify bringing him back. Infante would be good insurance regardless.

  91. Was Teheran tired against LA or just nervous. Teheran, Minor and Medlen, plus Hudson and Wood are likely starters at start of year. Will Garcia be asked back and will Hale be given a chance? Will the real Beachy be back and when? Will Venters and O’Flaherty be closer quality relievers when they get back. More questions to ponder.

  92. @103, I thought Teheran was throwing hard…at the upper end of the range he’s shown this season. He didn’t locate his fastball well, and his breaking stuff isn’t good enough yet to put people away. I always thought his much-hyped run through the low minors was due to his awesome changeup…a pitch he basically abandoned this year. Would like to see that revisited next season.

  93. @102 We can expect nothing for Uggla. Give him a chance to improve his value before trading or keeping him. It takes time to adjust to his new eyes.

  94. So, if you’re a saber-inclined type, and you’re looking to change the dynamic of this club and bring in a big name player, you want to identify a player that is probably overvalued by other teams, who would command a big ticket return, but who you could replace internally with a reasonable facsimile thereof.

    So, basically, you’d want to flip Craig Kimbrel for something big.

  95. @106, totally agree. It’d have to be a blow-you-away type of trade though. Your average Braves fan would freak out.

  96. @106

    I would not be opposed to it especially give our well documented proclivity for not maximizing his potential but as 107 says it would have to be something big. I wonder what the market would be for him though? Has there ever been an elite closer still cost controlled that’s been traded like that before? Can’t think of one off the top of my head.

  97. @95
    Simmons last 28 days
    .238/.299/.500. babip .221

    EJ last 28 days
    .278/.388/.349 babip .315

    If you’re going to use statistics, use relevant ones.

    I’m done dude. You have your opinion, I have mine.

  98. @106 He’s the guy teams would most overpay for, I agree. But damn I wouldn’t want to do it. It’s bad enough knowing he’s gone as soon as we have to pay him anything close to his market value. I prefer not to think about that horrible day.

  99. We have enough big name players already. What the Braves need are good situational hitters, guys who can set the table, move runners over. I’ve stated my preference for Infante before, but I’ll add Mark Ellis in there as well.

  100. @105 I had lasik and I could see like an eagle the next day. His eyes were always an excuse for a player grasping for answers. His reflexes are gone. He’s done.

  101. @112 Seeing a baseball is one thing, being able to see ball and hit it is something else. Muscle memory takes a while to retrain.

  102. 109-Do you even know what those stats you have posted mean? That small sample merely shows that Simmons was a more valuable hitter than Elliot Johnson, despite Simmons being hit unlucky to the tune of about 40 points of BABIP below his career average while EJ was simultaneously hit lucky to the tune of about 30 points of BABIP above his career average. Please, let’s hear more about how to properly use statistics.

  103. You crack me up. It means that in the last month of the season EJ was getting on base often than Simmons.
    Simple.
    Shit, i quit. As I said, you have your opinion and I have mine.

    @105 there is merit to giving Uggla another chance, however I wonder if two bad seasons is all the proof the Braves need.

  104. Count me in the “eyesight is a convenient excuse” camp. Dan Uggla isn’t the first marginally good, one skill set player to crash in his mid 30s

  105. @119 – sure, EJ just luckier than AS. but if that is the recent trend then its actually playing the precentages, no?
    Done.

    So do you say to get Kimbrell you have to take Uggla , we pay 5 million? 26 mil is a big sunk cost.

  106. @118 It cost little to keep Uggla until the start of the season. His “value” cannot go any lower.

  107. I imagine the Reds may be willing to take Uggla to offload The contract of Philips. But I don’t think we want to take that contract either.

  108. I certainly think we should be willing to trade Kimbrel. The question is just whether teams are still willing to pay a high price for a closer, and just how high that would be. Teams have started hoarding their prospects to a remarkable degree.

  109. @121 I agree about his perceived value. But if the front office sees him as a disgruntled veteran who has become a negative presence in the clubhouse, he’ll be gone before February. He won’t be worth keeping around to see if he can resurrect to his 2012 form.

  110. @125 I wonder if there’s more value in him by making use of his services until he walks and then collecting the draft picks.

    I don’t think this team needs to make a big trade to get better.

  111. leave most alone put some to bed
    engage instead a wise old head
    an independent thinker
    who sees no need to tinker
    but zeroes in on shit instead.

  112. @127 – Good point, but the team control aspect of his current contract status enhances his value.

  113. Combined payroll of the advancing four playoff teams:

    $636,793,173

    Combined payroll of the eliminated four playoff teams (excluding WC play-in loser):

    $280,738,058

    There is a new moneyball in town.

  114. @130, the Red Sox have moneyball tendencies… plus tons of money. Definitely jealous of that combo. They also might be a decent case for the “do managers make a difference” question.

  115. David Price – love the stuff, hate the salary even more. Pass.

    I’m not sure I’d splurge on the FA market this year, we need to draft some hitters to cushion the blow if Freeman and Heyward walk in 2017 and 2018.

  116. A lot of posters are making references to giving talent with Uggla to get rid of more of Uggla’s salary. Also, to doing it later in the spring.

    1. If Liberty isn’t taking the money and adding talent, then why?
    2. Later will not allow the money to be used on something for the season.
    3. I am not into the starting point proposition of using payroll space to add talent at the break. Yes, holding onto 2 mill to be able to pick up a couple of 3 mill players may make sense. Holding back 6 mill to be able to add an 18 mill player if the right one is available isn’t good. Only use the trade deadline to fix the holes you couldn’t perceive you had or would have.

  117. I feel like just a link dump today but this was very interesting. It wondered what the season would’ve looked like if every game this season was played with the first team ahead at the end of an inning the winner. The Braves came out the worst at -22, which speaks to our great bullpen, our starters struggles in the first and our inability to get production from the top of the order most of the year.

    http://blogs.thescore.com/mlb/2013/10/09/flip-flop-fly-ball-sudden-death/

  118. So this morning just as I was getting to work the news on my radio teased something about the Braves changing their name. Of course they weren’t going to payoff the tease until after I had gotten to work and was no longer listening to my radio. Has anyone else heard anything about the Braves name changing? Note: I do not intend this question to start a big discussion about the ramifications/merits/demerits/etc. of a name change; just wondering if there is anything to what I heard on the radio this morning.

  119. So each division series ended with the less interesting team advancing. (I guess fans with no rooting interest in our series might question that, but the Braves are young and homegrown, while the Dodgers are the New Yankees.) Blah. If the Pirates had actually made the NLCS, I might have tuned in.

  120. @141

    I haven’t heard anything. A quick Google search produced a story about Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed going on a local TV station this morning and saying that he thinks the name should stay, so maybe that’s what the thing you heard was talking about. If it was news, I’m guessing that’s it. If it was sports talk radio, God knows what they were pulling out of their ass.

  121. 139- Off the top of my head:

    The right to own one franchise, based in a particular city, that may compete against other franchises, to produce entertainment to be broadcast through various media. (With or without implied oral consent.)
    The contracts with personnel to provide personal services to that franchise in exchange for payment
    Often, the facilities where that entertainment occurs, or leases to use those facilities a set number of times each year for a set period.
    Contracts with local media to air that entertainment, or the media sources themselves.
    A share of the franchises’ pooled central resources, including revenues from advanced media, merchandising, and other ancillary products.
    The possibility of collecting revenue sharing in a small market (balanced with the possibility of having to pay it if the team’s in a bigger market.)
    And the right to get autographs and tickets whenever he wants.

  122. I know everyone is frustrated, but the bottom line is that a team that won 59% of its games lost a short series to a team that won 57% of its games.

    It’s hard for me to see how we’re going to fire someone who won 96 games, but lost a crapshoot.

  123. While there has been lots of angst over Fredi’s performance, and comments about his tenure, lets look at a few facts.
    First, we’re talking about the Braves. As an organization, from 1966-1990 the teams were generally bad to mediocre with 1969 and 1982 as outliers.
    Fredi has managed 3 complete seasons. Only Joe Torre (3), Luman Harris (4+) and Bobby Cox (24+) have had longer tenure.
    Fredi has managed 279 victory over those 3 seasons. Only Luman Harris (379) and Bobby Cox (2466) have more victories.
    Fredi has managed 207 losses Russ Nixon and Chuck Tanner both racked up more losses — less time– in addition to Torre, Harris and Cox.
    One can argue about a manager’s impact on a team’s performance — Chris Jaffe wrote an interesting book on the subject a couple of years back. The impact exists, but measuring remains challenging.
    EXAMPLE 1. Casey Stengel failed miserably managing both the Boston Braves and the expansion NY Mets, but racked up pennant after pennant and WS with the Yankees.
    I don’t think Fredi was the problem if a 96 win team can be said to have a ‘problem’.
    The ’13 Braves definitely had flaws; any team with 2 regulars batting sub .200 — something that had not happened in over 100 seasons — has flaws.

  124. 145 AND 146,

    For such is the dilemma.

    I think part of it is the crapshoot. I think part of it is illustrated ably by sdp at 131. The extra payroll frequently buys you more disasters. But you can stand “the vicissitudes of baseball” easier with a bigger payroll. You can’t blame Fredi Gonzalez for the payroll.

    Think about it. The Dodgers got the most expensive right handed pitcher in baseball before the season. they took on a salary dump last year and got a questionable Crawford and Gonzalez, but what was questionable for the Dodgers was how much they were getting paid, not whether they were at least pretty decent players. Neither the Braves, A’s, Pirates, nor Rays could have taken that on. Actually, neither could the Reds nor Cards nor Indians. Gonzalez even as he had been the past few years was a significant upgrade from Loney.

    However, I don’t think it is ALL money and luck. The in game managing hasn’t been good since probably when Joe Torre was the Braves manager.

    A model from history to look at. Red Stephen Ambrose’ book “Operation Pegasus Bridge”. The hero, British Major John Howard took two bridges at night before they could be destroyed because of elite planning. They practiced every aspect over and over.

    The Braves need to practice postseason baseball frequently. Not when they are in a string where the “pen” is challenged, but players need to know there are times they will be pinch hit for and will be pinch run for and will have defensive replacements and will come in to face one batter only. I think the Braves try so hard to keep everybody “level” that the players get tense if you get them out of role, but you really need to get them out of role in the postseason.

  125. @139 I heard Liberty bought the Barves for the tax write offs. I thought they would have sold them by now.

  126. Fangraphs has an interesting stat I had never seen before for relievers. It’s called Shutdown/Meltdown and it measures how many appearances a reliever added or subtracted more than 6% to a team’s Win Probability. I haven’t run the figures, but I assume any clean inning in a moderately close game would be a shutdown (sd) and any runs given up in a non blowout might be a meltdown (md). Here are the stats on some Braves from 2013:

    Kimbrel 39sd/5md
    EOF 9/1
    Avilan 25/6
    Carp 17/4
    Walden 19/8
    Varvaro 6/4
    Ayala 8/6
    Downs 15/15!
    Gearrin 4/6
    Loe 2/3

    I imagine it’s easier to get a meltdown as a LOOGY as you may only face one batter and an unsuccessful PA in a tight game and you may get yanked before you can add any positive Win Probability. Interesting nonetheless.

  127. @149
    The general presumption was that Liberty & Malone (the primary owner) were just in it for the tax writeoffs. Liberty Media is a public company and their SEC filings contain tidbits about the Braves.
    If I remember correctly, the Braves have been cash positive in fiscal 2010 – 2012. Given the squirrelly accounting rules that govern purchase accounting, and baseball teams in general, it’s impossible to determine the ROI, but since the holding period commitment Liberty made to MLB has expired, one has to assume it’s acceptable.
    Malone’s not known for accepting poor investments.

  128. Could the Braves ask Uggla and BJ Upton to play winter ball? It’s not like they played that much during the 2nd half. Uggla may be lost but it could be good for BJ Upton

  129. Interesting sequence from DOB

    @ajcbraves: #Braves 2B prospect La Stella is 3-for-7 with 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 3 walks — and no K’s! — after his first 2 Ariz. Fall League games

    @ajcbraves: Yes, better hitter. RT @wahoo_engr: @ajcbraves David, is La Stella considered a better prospect that Gosselin??

    @ajcbraves: No prob, team w/ $90M payroll eat $26M RT @baseballfan30: @ajcbraves if Uggla still sucks in ST why not just cut him. We r paying him anyway

    @ajcbraves: I’d guess about $18M. And they might. RT @jmjinx: @ajcbraves how much do you think they will have to eat in a trade? At least $20M?

  130. A lot can change, obviously, but my prediction is that Ramiro Pena will be the starting 2B, with Pastornicky his backup and bench bat, and La Stella starting out in AAA, but taking over for Pena after the Super 2 deadline.

    Winter ball won’t help Uggla. He’s done. And I think BJ probably would be better served by a nice, long break. He should go to Maui and surf and run on the beach until his head is right. Then, when he calls up Wren and says Frank I’m ready to come home, the Braves should pay whatever it costs to hire him the best possible swing coach. At this point even if he still wants to buy into Walker’s approach, it’s not going to work. But he still has all the physical tools to have a career season. Time to think outside the box, Frank.

  131. @146: The in game managing hasn’t been good since probably when Joe Torre was the Braves manager.

    Random craps is random. If you flip a coin 100 times and it lands on heads 99 of them, the odds of it landing on heads on the 101st flip is still 50/50.

    @147: When Liberty bought, it was for tax purposes. When they realized they could run out a $90 mil payroll and rake in $120 mil per year, the did what any suit would do and locked into the free profit machine.

  132. Ramiro Pena?

    Look, he had a lovely 107 plate appearances for us. But lest we forget, Ramiro Pena is a 28-year old with a career OPS of .606 in the majors and .650 in the minors.

    By comparison, Elliot Johnson’s career OPS is .592 — exactly 14 points lower than Pena. Last year, Dan Uggla’s OPS was .672.

    Ramiro Pena is not the answer.

  133. I don’t want to think Fredi is the problem. Let’s keep in mind our collapse in 11, wild card loss in 12, and early elimination in 13. We also need to remember that Wren had to go fire Larry Parish since Fredi wouldn’t do it himself. He makes some bone headed decisions. A manager with that many regular season wins should be able to get us further in the post season.

  134. @ajcbraves: No prob, team w/ $90M payroll eat $26M RT @baseballfan30: @ajcbraves if Uggla still sucks in ST why not just cut him. We r paying him anyway

    He knows that the $26 million is spread out over two years, right? And, um, he does understand that the numbers he used in his snarky reply were assumed in the original question – “we are paying him anyway” – right? Sunk costs… they’re a thing.

    Man I hate that guy.

  135. Alex @152:

    If you haven’t already read it, check out “The Voice”, by–I can’t remember who. A great bio that covers his life and career up through about 1953.

    I loved the story around his 1st recording session w/ Nelson Riddle. But a lot of other great stuff in there besides that.

  136. @ 157 My guess is that if Dan is playing for any significant amount, his OPS is likely to be anywhere between .600 and .640. That will go along with his sterling defense. Of course, I hope I’m completely wrong and his eyes have been the problem all along.

  137. I think it comes down to whether you think he’s done or not. If you think he’s done then you wouldn’t put him on your team even if the Braves paid all his salary. If there’s a chance that you think you can fix what’s broken, then maybe you take a flier. Even then you wouldn’t pay much out of pocket for that chance. The most likely scenario is that you can get someone better for the league minimum. All I can see here is someone taking him and agreeing to pick up a variable portion of his salary that’s correlated to his 2014 performance.

  138. 157-Nowhere did I say, or even imply, that Ramiro Pena is *the answer*. I simply made a prediction.

    Kind of like when I called Andrelton hitting more than 15 HRs this year, or Uggla posting a sub-.700 OPS.

    It’s not necessarily what I want to happen, it’s just a prediction. Although in this case, I think it’s a pretty good scenario, and not because I am a fan of Ramiro (I believe I was one of the few on this board that stated Fredi should be fired for taking starts away from Simmons and giving them to Ramiro), but because of what it implies about La Stella.

  139. Second daughter was born Wednesday; she and Kate are now home and doing great. First daughter (19 months old) is handling things pretty well…so far.

    Thought some might like to know.

  140. @156
    “If you flip a coin 100 times and it lands on heads 99 of them, the odds of it landing on heads on the 101st flip is still 50/50.”

    Or the 99/100 could be evidence means the coin is flawed, so the next flip is not 50/50.

    So the Braves are 0-8 in their last 8 series, and have lost 17 of 22 home games where their regular season % is well over .650 in those years.

    That may be evidence that the coin is defective, or that the Bobby Cox/Fredi are in some way contributing to the post-season futility.

  141. @167 – congrats, and I’m glad to hear Maggie took Game 4 ok. All she’s known in this life are the 2012 wild card game and this NLDS, so I feel for her in that respect.

  142. Forgive me for bringing up an old subject, but can anyone explain to me why the Braves are still getting eviscerated nationally for the Carlos Gomez incident? How can anyone who has seen video of that not believe that Gomez acted like a total thug? “Fun police”? Give me a break.

  143. Because we live in a society where narcissism is common and immaturity is the norm; rudeness and vulgarity are confused for “passion”.

  144. @174, 175, Yep and yep. It’s funny how in both notorious incidents, the original offending players (Fernandez and Gomez) issued effusive post-game mea culpas. Yet the Braves still “stepped over the line”. I believe it’s just an opportunistic national press amplifying anti-Braves sentiment, mainly.

  145. Seeing as how David Price played the McCann role when David Ortiz admired his home run off him in the playoffs and nary a peep was heard from Enlightened Baseball Fans ’round the Twitter, it’s hard not to see it all as anti-Braves sentiment.

    But! In happier Price-related news from Peanut:
    “The Braves could benefit from the addition of a legitimate ace. While the free-agent market will not include a pitcher that fits this description, Atlanta could be among the clubs that at least look at what it might take to acquire David Price from the Rays.

    Thank god.

  146. 165: Do teams ever do trades where the cash coming back is contingent on the quality of the player’s performance? I can’t remember ever seeing that. What does sometimes happen is that in a PTBNL trade, the quality of the prospect will vary contingent on the quality of the guy’s performance, but I don’t think they generally do PTBNL trades in the offseason.

  147. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea to sign Omar Infante, something in the neighborhood of 3/30 million. He would be the ultimate security blanket for Regression, La Stella/Uggla/Pastornicky/Pena, and our OF. Have him be super-utility and send him all over the diamond, starting 120+ games giving equal rest to all.

  148. Fredi Gonzales is a good baseball manager. however he needs more experience and when he gets that he could be the best manager in baseball. lets give him that chance.

  149. @180, I don’t remember seeing it either. You see incentive-laden contracts all the time, and other sports do trades where the quality of draft pick received depends on where the other team finishes in the standings. I don’t know if there’s an example anywhere in baseball based on individual player performance. It seems like it’d be possible, but I’m not certain.

    I still can’t figure out all the guys on twitter and elsewhere that think we can somehow get some team to pay $5M or so of Uggla’s contract. Sure, maybe if we give Uggla and a $5M player in a package deal…but why would we do that? I think there’s only two options. Keep him and try to figure things out, or release and accept the sunk cost.

  150. I think I’m gonna quit caring about sports until spring. This last week has been too painful. I’ll devote my energies toward deciphering the Voynich Manuscript or something.

  151. I figure everyone is boycotting the playoffs now that only evil teams are left…but Michael Wacha just out-dueled Kershaw. Everything the Cardinals do turns out golden. I don’t think it’s in the Braves’ DNA to start a 22 year old rookie in the playoffs against Kershaw.

  152. @187. I think that’s over generalization. Wacha is pretty good and was a first round pick. He is not JUST a 22 years old rookie out of nowhere. Medlen and Teheran just didn’t deliver.

    @184. I never thought there would be a team taking Derek Lowe off our hand. So we will see. Uggla should have some value in the eyes of the traditionalist GMs. It is the time of the year again for Wren to do some of his best work. He may not be great in signing free agents, but he is pretty damn good in trades.

  153. I think we all look gladly forward to that day when “Wacha” and “Dr. Andrews” are in the same sentence.

  154. Seat Painter’s Adjusted Playoff Rooting Index (APRI)

    1. Detroit
    2. Boston
    3. (Holds Nose) Dodgers
    4. Eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano ending Life as We Know It.

    (Well, west of the Mississippi River, at least).

  155. That Yellowstone supervolcano would screw up life as we know it. It would be devastating to everyone. In that the category “everyone” includes “me,” it therefore breaks the first rule of all things: no bad things should ever happen to me, personally. As such, we should root instead for a Tom Clancy plot device to engulf the Dodgers-Cards series instead. That wouldn’t notably disrupt my food supply.

  156. How about 10 miles West of the Mississippi, North of New Madrid, South of the Missouri-Mississippi confluence?

  157. Again, the problem I have is with the food supply. Granted, we have some notable farm to table options in Georgia, but I don’t want a bunch of starving Yankees pouring south and ruining traffic either.

  158. The Cardinals are so incredibly irritating that I can’t even begin to fathom the tsunami of irritation.

  159. I had been rooting for neither team to win the NLCS, but they only played into the 13th last night, and one of the teams managed to score today. I can only hope for the last two games to go at least 18 innings each. Go Tigers, I guess.

  160. Yup, rooting for Detroit–that’s it.

    I’m certainly in the minority, but I really enjoy my annual visit to that town. Those folks could use something to celebrate.

  161. I mean, really…Kershaw doesn’t allow an earned run and allows only two hits, neither a homer, and the Cardinals win the bloody game??? Are you freaking kidding me???

  162. I’d be happy to see Omar Infante again. Why’d we trade him anyway?
    Also I think the Braves shold take a look at Carlos Ruiz. He’s old. If he’d take a 2 year deal, he could be a good piece to help the transition from McCann.

  163. @199. I just don’t understand why the cards are such a good playoff team. They can find a way to win out of nowhere.

  164. @197. Plus, for whatever it’s worth, that series we had early in the year in Detroit was the only time that I felt like the team was totally outmatched. I could live with them winning it all.

  165. Stu…cheers!!

    great game in Boston last night, flirting with extreme history – double no hitter

    count myself lucky i can still relish post season baseball after we have slunk out – you?

    202…me too…can’t stand the thought…those young arms though, are ours in the same category? and we have no Beltran do we – Freddy?

    Confession…in the hurly burly of doing the live recap when we beat Greinke I did wonder why this guy Ellis kept getting a hit – strange, not a big name…now all is clear – there are two of them.

  166. if Joe Gerardi’s getting four
    how can we then in truth ignore
    the merits of our Fredi
    with Kimbrel always ready
    he’s there he said to close the door.

  167. PUIG…

    he’s currently something like 0 for 8 in the NLCS i believe…

    in most of his AB’s he looks overmatched, nervous…completely ineffective so far…

    against us,for all the damage Ramirez did, without Puig’s production we would at least have had a game 5…he was cocky and aggressive and highly effective from the go…

    so could someone more qualified please explain what is so different with the two pitching staffs to account for this? Us and the Cardinals I mean…

  168. Most of Puig’s hits against the Braves were well placed ground balls. Not sure his level of play has been that different between the two series.

  169. Chris Carpenter needs shoulder surgery and has stated he will retire. There’s one thing that didn’t go the Cardinals way.

  170. @183
    Counting his time with the Marlins, Fredi has managed just over 1000 games in the Majors and 6+ seasons. (Miami fired him after 70 games in 2010.)

    @195
    Sam, Yankees have been screwing up the traffic in Atlanta for as long as I can remember (and I remember when both 285 and 400 were new!

    I think I’ll go hang out with the 1912 Crackers for a while. (They finished last — for the 2nd year in a row — changed managers during the season -demoted a pitcher as ‘to inexperienced for the Southern League’ that would finish the year in the Majors and start 2 games in the 1915 World Series, and who knows what else went on.)

  171. Playoffs are a crapshoot — Case study #437(b)

    Red Sox have now gone 14 innings of the LCS with exactly one single. If that were the Braves, imagine how we’d be bitching.

  172. How can David Ortiz keep doing this? I don’t care what the stats say, but some players are just made for playoff.

  173. @224

    He went up looking for a fastball. He was going to work the count to get one.

    He saw one on the first pitch and hit it. He is a great hitter who knows how to work a count.

    Too bad he killed the rally.

  174. Brian Snitker has been named manager of AAA Gwinnett for 2014.

    “Doug Dascenzo” will replace Snitker.

  175. @217 – I actually am starting to think the analogy to craps is apt, because if you get on a $5 table with just $50 in chips, you’re going to get run out pretty quickly most of the time.

    The DH notwithstanding, we’d have let Ortiz walk years ago because we’d have been wringing our hands about how you just can’t pay a 37-year-old $14MM a year to hit.

    But at least with that, I know what the issue is and can dream of a day when we’re owned by an oligarch. The Cardinals are still what bother me, because they’re basically us but with equal and opposite luck.

  176. #221,
    The Tigers had built a 5-1 lead and when starter Max Scherzer came out of the game after 108 pitches and seven masterful innings (“I was done,” he said emphatically afterward.)

    I can’t imagine a starting pitcher being anything but truthful in that situation.

  177. kc @ 224: such that it may exist at all, “clutch performance” is not “getting better in difficult situations” so much as “not wilting under the pressure.”

    That said, what are David Ortiz’ slash lines for his career, for the playoffs, and for “close and late” in both?

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