My Hall of Fame Ballot

Been a bit quiet around here in the post-Thanksgiving food haze. (Oh, and I guess there were some football games over the weekend.) So I thought I’d reignite the Hall of Fame debate. I posted my prospective ballot a few days back. This is probably the most difficult Hall of Fame year ever, as there are somewhere between 12 and 18 serious Hall of Fame candidates on the ballot — and no one can vote for more than 10, and it’s a cinch to guess that most voters won’t pick more than five because the voters are mostly grumpy old coots.

Here are the 19 players that I view as having at least a reasonable Hall of Fame case, PED users and all:

Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Tom Glavine
Jeff Kent
Greg Maddux
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Mike Mussina
Rafael Palmeiro
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Curt Schilling
Sammy Sosa
Frank Thomas
Alan Trammell
Larry Walker

That list needs to be cut in half.

So, first, I’ll eliminate some of the players who seemed to owe the greatest portion of their success to PEDs: McGwire, Palmeiro, Sosa. (I’m keeping Bonds and Clemens, and for that matter, Raines, because in my mind they were clearly Hall of Famers no matter what.)

I’ll eliminate a few others for just not quite having good enough numbers: Kent, McGriff. (For what it’s worth, Mac was on record as supporting McGriff for the Hall of Fame.)

I’m on the fence about Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez; I’d be fine with it if they went in, but I’m not as passionate about their cases as about others. I’ll vote for them another year.

So that leaves me with 12, all of whom I believe deserve to go into the Hall of Fame:

I think that I’d be willing to postpone my vote for Piazza and Thomas until 2015; they were great players but they had slightly shorter peaks than the others.

If I had to guess, I think Maddux will definitely go in this year. I’m not sure if anyone else will, except for the Veterans Committee selections, which are almost certain to include Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa. There is going to be a whole lot of ballot-splitting. But there’s really no good way to do it. There are just too many Hall of Famers on the ballot.

232 thoughts on “My Hall of Fame Ballot”

  1. I’d go with:


    Bags and Biggio probably get bumped this time around too.

  2. “I’ll eliminate some of the players who seemed to owe the greatest portion of their success to PEDs”

    This sentence is covering a whole heap of ground. I’d like to see the rationale fleshed out a bit, personally

  3. @2, it means essentially nothing, of course. Palmeiro and McGwire basically represent the two poles of Hall of Fame election criteria. Palmeiro was a career value guy, and McGwire was a peak guy, and to me, neither of them had ENOUGH of either to survive scrutiny once you let a little air out of their stats for their admitted PED use. Sosa is essentially between them, and I use the same argument for him. Bonds and Clemens both had more career value and peak value than the three of them.

    Palmeiro was a really good player for a really long time, but he didn’t have much of a “peak.” For example he only was named to four All-Star teams, which is quite low for a potential Hall of Famer; by comparison, McGriff made five. (For what it’s worth, Jeff Bagwell also made four All-Star teams, but he had a much shorter career and his rate stats were far superior.)

    Palmeiro never finished in the top four of an MVP ballot, and only finished in the top 10 twice. He was essentially a very good player who was greatly helped by playing in a juiced ball era, in a juiced park — the ball has always jumped in the Ballpark in Arlington — and he also helped himself by taking banned substances. Other than the magic numbers of 500 home runs and 3000 hits, he didn’t really stand out from his peers. I’m sure that I’m being overly harsh, and he’s something of a poster child for PEDs because of the finger-wag, but in the end, what it comes down to is: he was a stolid, reliable, unspectacular player. There were a ton of great first basemen in the last 25 years, and I just don’t see Palmeiro standing out.

    On the other hand, McGwire had a much shorter career. In the end, it comes down to this: I have trouble voting for anyone who only had 1,626 hits in his career, unless there were extreme mitigating factors involved, like the Second World War. He has fewer counting stats than almost any other Hall of Famer. Basically, the only reason to vote for him is the home runs. And the home runs are problematic.

    So, the steroid thing: McGwire’s 70 home runs in 1998 was a signal moment in baseball history, for both good and ill — it brought back a lot of fans who had lost much of their passion for the game after the 1994 strike, but it also was perhaps the single defining moment of the Steroid Era. McGwire’s home run chase clearly inspired Barry Bonds to reach new heights in steroid use, and undoubtedly many others as well. I normally pooh-pooh “athletes are role models” arguments, but Mark McGwire’s steroid use clearly provided a role model within the game, and perhaps outside of it.

    So, sure, call me a hypocrite and a sanctimonious blowhard. But to me those two basically define the boundary of a player I wouldn’t vote for. Take away the steroids, and there isn’t enough of a there there.

  4. I sincerely hope that there is barely any support for Clemens or Bonds entering the Hall of Fame. The same goes for any known PED user. It’s also never too late to reconsider those already in the Hall.

    Just say no to cheating and don’t enter it into the Hall.

  5. I think Bonds and Clemens should definitely be in the HOF. Gaylord Perry cheated his way into the HOF. I’m skeptical that PEDs actually made any players in HOF caliber. But they won’t be. I am quite sure Maddux will be voted in, but it pisses me to no end that it will not be unanimous because some nitwits believe no one should be a unanimous selection because Babe Ruth wasn’t a unanimous selection. If Maddux doesn’t belong, no one does. I have problems with not voting for Bonds, but at least there is a somewhat legitimate rationale for it. If you don’t vote for Maddux because someone didn’t vote for Babe Ruth, you should not be allowed to vote, IMO.

  6. It looks like Bard’s a case of Steve Blass disease. They tried to put him in the rotation and he completely lost his confidence, as well as a few miles off his fastball. I’d be happy to take a flier on him, but I think he needs some serious hand-holding to get back to where he was, and probably a sports psychologist to help him regain his trust in his stuff.

  7. I think that PEDs can help — whether it’s keeping a player healthy and on the field longer, or helping them turn doubles into homers, I think that it’s very possible that a player could have a better career on PEDs than that same player might have had without ever using them.

    I don’t think PEDs can turn a scrub into a star, but I think they could turn a good player into a very good player, and a very good player into a great player.

  8. 12: Talking Chop had predicted them to hang on to one of Johnson or Janish, and that made sense to me. It’s of no great moment either way, though.

  9. The Braves have signed Pena and Venters to 1-year contracts.

    And Peanut was right—no offers to Janish, E. Johnson, and Martinez. I’m on board with those moves.

  10. Yeah, those are exactly the right moves to make. And Venters gets $1.625 million. I worry that he still may be broken for good, but that’s an incredibly reasonable price to pay for the chance that he’s still an effective reliever.

    That said, I wouldn’t mind bringing Martinez back if he goes unclaimed. He’s perfectly reasonable bench depth.

  11. At the risk of relitigating all this again, doesn’t anyone else find it astoundingly coincidental that PED use paid off seemingly all in the same season and it only worked on hitters as a group? I have no problem with governing sports bodies setting rules, and having consequences attach to them. Just noting that a juiced ball seems like just as consistent (more so actually) an explanation for the “power surge” and it’s sudden onset and decline as anything else. That’s why I am curious how much “steroid weight” people are assigning to the performances of the Palmeiros and McGwires. Because if significantly responsible, they seemed to work diametrically opposite on these two.

  12. Swift continuance of the BCS chat from last thread:

    Oklahoma State’s loss to West Virginia is the leader in the clubhouse for Dumbest Loss Of The Year. West Virginia is a 4-8 dumpster fire, and the Pokes somehow went to Morgantown and lost by two scores. You take away that, and Okie State is undefeated, has likely jumped Ohio State after destroying Baylor, and are a win against sackless Oklahoma away from the BCS Championship Game. Whoops. This game, and the Iowa State game in 2011, away from playing for two championships. Sad trombone.

  13. @16, at the risk of sounding pedantic, Palmeiro and McGwire are very different players. Steroids wouldn’t make McGwire into a singles hitter, and they didn’t. But they could, and very likely did, extend their careers and thereby improve their career numbers.

    I think it’s very likely that steroids improved nearly everybody’s stats. So, if you like, we can avoid saying that I won’t vote for someone because of “steroids” and I’ll instead say that they didn’t stand out from their peers sufficiently for my taste. Palmeiro was a 70-WAR guy, which is good, but there are a lot of 70-WAR guys in the era, so that doesn’t necessarily clear the bar for me. Bagwell was an 80-WAR guy, and I’m more comfortable with that bar.

  14. I can’t work up a lot of care for the HoF. The discussion just bores me. I don’t know why exactly, but it does. I think it’s because I’m a team/laundry guy and the HoF is all about the “me”.

    Maybe there will be more to talk about next week once the winter meetings are done. Until then I’ll be thinking of possible one-in-a-million lucky plays that can cause Auburn to lose next week.

  15. Even setting aside these specific two, this really doesn’t help explain a sustained surge of 40 points of slg from 1992 to 1994 that was sustained for 15 years and then magically went away. I guess my point is I am loath to ascribe anything I don’t know for sure about to magic pills that is equally possible to a juiced ball, or just a random spike of great hitters – what happened between 1918 and 1921? It certainly wasn’t steroids. Some of the biggest causes of the spike – Griffey, Thomas, Thome, etc. – seem to be no-steroid guys. So I guess if it’s possible for men to achieve these feats, and contemporary examples of them doing it, outside of some quantification of effect, I am uncomfortable with the idea that you can “adjust” for PEDs.

  16. I’m willing to “adjust” on the case of people who have admitted to PED use (this includes Barry Bonds, who acknowledged taking the cream and clear but thought they were flaxseed oil, or players who have basically pled out, like Ryan Braun) — for these players, I will basically treat them as having 80% of their actual career stats, rather than 100% of their career stats and perhaps this is completely unfair, but that’s basically what I do.

    For players who are NOT admitted or pled PED users, I will not presume their guilt, and I will take their stats at face value as I compare them to their peers. I will presume that Griffey, Thomas, Thome, Jeter, Chipper Jones, and Greg Maddux are innocent till proven guilty.

    I think it’s very likely that a bunch of possible factors all converged. 1) Bandbox stadiums. 2) An increasing philosophical emphasis on selling out for power, trading strikeouts for homers. 3) A historic generation of excellent sluggers, like the 1950’s. 4) Improved bat technology, such as Barry Bonds’s preference for brittle ash bats. 5) Possible changes to the making of the balls themselves, the “juiced ball” theory. 6) Improved nutrition and training. 7) The use of legal substances to improve players’ health and performance. 8) The use of banned substances to improve players’ health and performance.

    Basically, you want to treat all of the players the same, and I want to give at least a small penalty (20% or so) for the use of banned substances. Agree to disagree.

  17. I’d like to have EOF back also, but someone will overpay even with him coming off an injury. I read somewhere that out arb guys will make $22 mil more next season than they did this year. That hurts. Same team that wasn’t good enough minus their two clubhouse leaders. We need to make a couple of nice additions to improve this ball club.

  18. Testing & the threat of testing probably had plenty to do with the reduction of power. When MLB players began using PEDs en masse is hard to say. A juiced baseball & better conditioned players will surely account for a big chunk of the power spike, but we have plenty of eye-test evidence that lots of these guys were using PEDs to a massive level. Nonetheless, the lack of testing during that period just creates so many issues for so many people. We just can’t really know.

    Sad to say, for me, the Baseball Hall of Fame voting has turned into an Olympic sport, which is to say, some guys got caught, some didn’t & others were implicated (rightly or wrongly). Who the hell knows who used what? How can anyone know the extent of the “help” generated? We can guess, even making some fairly reasonable guesses, but again, we really do not know & never will.

    (I do think it’s entirely reasonable to guess, for example, when Bonds & Clemens began using and, if it matters to anyone, to argue that they were HoFers before they discovered their respective syringes & hired their “trainers.” FWIW, I’d give the nod to Bonds over Clemens—-the pre-skullbloat Bonds never had a 4-year hitting equivalent of pitching to a 40-39 record, for example.)

    I haven’t cared about the track-&-field portion of The Olympics since it became obvious to me that it’s really just a big human-science project with downright seamy elements. And sadly, I’m leaning that way with the how the Baseball Hall of Fame voters handle the steroid era. I just can’t strain my brain too much to care who “deserves” to make it any more. If Mark McGwire gets in… at this point, whatever. The East German swimmers aren’t giving back their Olympic medals either. The court of public opinion is always going to be there.

    I used to think being a HoF voter was an awesome gig. Now I think it’s the worst job in the world.

  19. Dude, we need Keltner’s on all these ‘roids heroes. Alex’s post was awesome and you could blow it up to 5 times its size.

  20. The Tigers got a whole lot of nothing in return for Fister.

    Not sure how that made any sense for the Tigers.

  21. The Tigers are going to try to extend some of their players now.

    Since the playoffs, I haven’t been feeling particularly great about the Braves. This trade did not help matters.

  22. To spike’s point. In 1993 MLB moved the factory where they manufacture game used baseballs from the States to the Dominican Republic. Offense spiked in 1993.

    In 2008 MLB modified the standards for wood density in game used bats. Offense cratered in 2008.

    The offensive era, “Sillyball,” maps to equipment changes. Not PEDs (mid-80s thru 2003).

  23. @34,

    Bonds is a no-doubt Hall-of-Famer. Anyone that doubts that, PEDs or not, simply knows nothing about baseball. I have little regard for Bonds personally; he strikes me as a complete asshole. I have an aquaintance that worked at Walter Reed Army Hospital and was there when Bonds came to visit wounded troops. He’s a pretty nasty guy. But, if you left the nasty guys out of the HOF, I suspect it would be pretty empty.

    PEDs may well have helped Bonds, at least in keeping him healthy enough to produce big numbers as he aged. But he is probably an inner-circle Hall-of-Famer. I think it’s a travesty to keep him out. Same with Pete Rose; I say, let Rose in the HOF but keep him out of the game. Perhaps there is an argument with respect to Clemens, who had some down years prior to his PED use (although I think even those down years were not as bad as his W-L record indicates), but there is none, IMO, with Bonds.

  24. So the Nats got a guy with 13.3 fWAR over the past three seasons–the ninth best starting pitcher total in all of baseball–for a couple fringe prospects and Lombardozzi. WTF.

  25. After non-tenders…
    SP- Medlen, Minor, Teheran, Beachy, Wood
    Bullpen- Kimbrel, Avilan, Carpenter, Walden,
    Starters- Gattis, Freeman, UGH!la, Simmons, C.Johnson, Bupton, Jupton, Heyward
    Bench- Laird, Schafer, Pena

    Some interesting bullpen options from the non-tenders:
    John Axford, Daniel Bard, Andrew Bailey

  26. Just found out that Fister is under team control through ’15. I really don’t understand this move.

  27. @39 So now the Nats have added Fister to a rotation that includes Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez. Yikes. I have a feeling we’re going to head into next season with the Nats once again favored to win the NL East… and frankly, they’ve got quite a good team (especially if they can keep Zimmerman/Werth/Harper healthy).

  28. 5 spots open (6 if you count on Uggla not being around).

    3 for he pen, 3 for the bench.

    Go dig us up a diamond in the rough, Frank my boy!

  29. What annoys me the most about Doug Fister is I can’t figure out why he’s good. He doesn’t look like he should be good. He has a nothing fastball and doesn’t strike a ton of people out. He isn’t a hardcore groundball guy with a nuclear sinker. He basically wasn’t a prospect — he’s a 7th-round draft pick (actually, he was selected in the 6th round in 2005, but didn’t sign) whom John Sickels never put in his book, and he was never ranked as one of the Mariners’ top 10 prospects by Baseball America. After his terrific 2009 debut, Fangraphs warned, “Don’t get fooled by the shiny ERA,” and Sickels agreed, saying that he “is unlikely to be this good for a sustained period of time.”

    He has quite good control, maintaining a K/BB of about 3.5. He doesn’t allow a lot of homers. And he made the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District team in college.

    But that’s it. I don’t get it. He’s probably going to dominate us, and I am going to hate it.

  30. Fister doesn’t strike many guys out but he walks an awful lot fewer: his 3.6 K/BB was top-10 among AL starters. And his sinker might not look special to the casual observer, but his GB/FB ratio of 2.2 was better by a wide margin than any Tim Hudson ever posted in any season (1.8 in 2010, 1.4 for his career). Even when guys do get it in the air they can’t hit it out. Hudson only twice had a lower HR/9 ratio than Fister’s .6.

    And one should bear in mind that Fister succeeded as a groundball pitcher in front of the worst defensive infield in the majors.

    Nats got a legitimate number 2 starter for nothing.

  31. With Nathan signing with the Tigers, now’s the time to pay TX back for the Teixeira trade and get a dynamite core of young talent for Kimbrel.

  32. Fister’s career GB% is right around 50%. Elite groundballers are in the mid- to high 50s. Last year, he was at 54%, a career high; by comparison, Derek Lowe’s career GB% is 62%, and even in 2013 Derek Lowe’s GB rate was 55%.

    His K/BB rate is clearly excellent, and his walk rate clearly has a great deal to do with his success; he had the 12th-lowest walk rate in the majors last year, and he was probably one of the 10 best starters, and his walk rate is probably the biggest reason why. But Bronson Arroyo had the fifth-best walk rate, and he isn’t nearly as good a pitcher as Fister. So walks have a lot to do with it but not everything to do with it. I just don’t totally get the gestalt of how he adds up to be excellent, even though he pretty clearly is.

  33. 24: “Wasn’t good enough” for what? They won 96 games and their division by 10. Are we really going to pretend that a five-game series was a profound judgment on the quality of the team rather than just some shit that happened?

  34. Whatever their postseason strategy is, it ain’t working.

    You mean Elliot Johnson and Freddie Garcia weren’t a brilliant idea?

  35. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that this team as currently constructed is less likely to be able to hang with other playoff teams.

    It seems to me (and I readily admit, all it is is my completely unstudied observation) that playoff teams’ success hinges in large part on starting pitching performance, and if the team has at least one starter who is more likely to dominate a short-series and not crap the bed (good stuff/live fastball, can pitch deep into games, can succeed on short rest, more likely to mow down even the best offenses, etc), that seems to me to be awfully helpful. Not determinative — especially when the opposing team has the equivalent. So, something approaching necessary, if not sufficient by itself.

    Yes, your Kershaws can and will lay eggs — but, let’s not forget, the other team having Wainwrights that are nearly as unlikely to poop their pants is all too often the other side of the equation.

    People always bring up the memorable counterexamples, i.e. recent Cardinal championship teams. But rather than cherry-picking one instance that makes the case one way or the other, is there any actual analysis out there on this? It just seems a bit too easy to say “crapshoot” and walk away over and over again year after year.

  36. Good Lord! Fowler traded to the Astros for the equivalent of 2012 Jordan Schafer and the pitching equivalent to David Hale. For the love!

    And now, Salty to the Marlins on a 3/21 million dollar deal.

  37. #59
    I’d guess that there have been plenty of attempts to analyze such things. Be curious to see, but if anyone has the keys to that kingdom, they’re not sharing.

    Still, I’m not sure that any analysis can explain, for example, what a career mediocrity like Jeff Suppan did to the Mets in the 2006 NLCS.

  38. 55: You can’t develop a “strategy” for five game series. That’s just not how baseball works. You build the very best club you can, and you take your chances. The Braves could easily have beat the Dodgers, but they didn’t. No need to change the formula.

  39. What is the Braves formula? Get a bunch of hitters who hit home runs or strike out and that struggle late in the season? That seems to be how they operate. I agree you can’t build a team to succeed in the playoffs but I never thought the Braves would win the series against the Dodgers. As a matter of fact, I thought it was bad news for the Braves when the Dodgers started making their run because I didn’t think they could beat them. Of course, they COULD have won the series but they didn’t and, in fact, they weren’t expected to. So, 96 wins or not-and winning a weak division-this was not a team that looked capable of winning in the playoffs and they didn’t. What would have happened if they had brought Kimbrel in and they won Game 4? Who knows going against Greinke, but their past record would not have been particularly encouraging.

  40. Having a superb “ace” or two certainly helps. Better players equals better chances. Even in the playoffs. But it’s not determinative. The Tigers lost just as easily as the Braves this year. And honestly, Braves fans of all people should know that “a ton of aces” isn’t a sure fire win in the playoffs.

    The playoffs are random.

  41. Yeah, but how random? How often does the lesser team actually prevail? If we made a list of traits that we think play some part in determining the success of teams in the playoffs, how often would the winning team display them?

  42. @67 and @68

    Adam, I don’t have the skills to examine the traits to make the list you proposed. But if I did, I’d have to start with the Cardinals.

    They’ve been in 4 World Series of the last 10, and lost in the LCS in 2 others. That suggests someone may have the answer.

    In the ten years before that, you see the Braves and the Yanks. Quick explainantions for those might be Schuerholz for one, and lots of money for the other. But those answers seem too pat.

    I still like Sam’s answer.

  43. I wasn’t even thinking about organizational traits, but rather about on-the-field performance.

    So: an airtight bullpen, a strong bench, offense that isn’t strikeout-prone or sees lots of pitches or has a high OBP or ISO, etc.

    I get that stats won’t stabilize in a playoff series, but I’m sure that someone out there must’ve looked at how teams have succeeded and thought a little about how to build a team that would be more likely to, say, play excellent defense, if that’s the most common factor among winning teams. (Acknowledging, as we know all too well, that teams built to play excellent defense don’t always do so in the playoffs.)

  44. I, as well, am starting to get sick of the “it’s random” thing. It’s obviously not entirely or we would have been very likely to have won a freaking series at some point in the last 12 freaking years, to say nothing of a championship.

  45. @71 Not really. That’s still a pretty small sample.

    These are also all different teams with different strengths and weaknesses. The idea that there’s some organization wide error in thinking that caused each of these losses that occurred in different ways to different teams with different players seems pretty far fetched. I find it far more likely that there is no particular explanation. It just happened.

  46. I think McCann and Elsberry are good additions to the Yankees. They could use another pitcher or two.

  47. Yeah, it’s pretty hard to argue that the Yankees have made any mistakes that they couldn’t easily afford. McCann and Ellsbury are huge upgrades. They will pay to bring Cano back too and still end up making many tens of millions in profits.

  48. And when/after Tanaka signs, they’ll be sure to add a FA pitcher. Can’t criticize them, except maybe on some weird moral ground that I wouldn’t take if I happened to be a Yankees fan myself.

  49. McGriff:

    .284 BA, .886 OPS, 493 HR’s, averaged 102 RBI per season. 52.6 lifetime WAR

    You said you consider Biggio and Bagwell over him in the HOF, here are their same #’s for comparison:

    Biggio: .281, .796, 281, avg 67 RBI, 64.9 lifetime WAR
    Bagwell: .297, .948, 449, avg 115 RBI, 79.5 lifetime WAR

    Bagwell – definitely. Biggio not so much. Even McGriff’s fielding % was higher than his. I’m not saying the Crime Dog is a HOF’r but if he’s not then Biggio definitely isn’t either.

  50. Can’t be too critical of the Yanks. They signed the number 2 and 4 best free agents on the market because they can. The last years of those contracts will be hard to justify but they are the richest team in baseball, if I were a Yankees fan this is just what I would expect them to do.

  51. Jack, Fred McGriff was a first baseman, and there are a ton of other first basemen in the last 30 years who were about as good as Fred. Biggio was one of the best second basemen of the last 30 years, basically neck and neck with Roberto Alomar. Even going by WAR, you can see that Biggio was worth 12 wins more than McGriff. It just isn’t close.

    The Fowler trade is interesting. Jordan Lyles was a pretty good prospect, and he’s awfully young; he hadn’t done much in the majors, though, and they brought him up so young that he has accrued a fair amount of service time, which means he’s about to enter arbitration. Still, when you’re a rebuilding team you don’t usually trade 22-year old starting pitchers unless you’ve given up on them.

    I don’t know how much of Fowler’s power is for real, and his glove appears to be slightly below average. I think the best case scenario for both teams is that Lyles blooms and that Fowler has a terrific first half, allowing the Astros to flip him at the deadline.

    That Sickels list doesn’t look too bad to me. Like he said, the list has thinned out considerably, but there are a lot of younger guys who have a chance to be ranked higher if they perform well in 2014. I feel good about the system.

  52. Braves need to put their focus on getting Samardzija from Chicago. If that doesn’t work then we need to make a deal for Lohse.

    Brett Anderson is an intriguing name just wish he could stay healthy.

  53. Now Peanut is putting our “budget” this offseason between 10&15 million. After projected arb-raises, 10 million would be 93 million total payroll and 15 would be 98 million, both short of the projected 100 million.

    Still wondering why only about 5 million of the 25 million dollar bump from the TV contract is being applied to payroll.

  54. You don’t get to be the largest landowner in the US by putting excess payroll into a baseball team.

  55. If McCann were to have played all of his games at Yankee Stadium this year, it looks like he would have had 7-8 more HR. If healthy, McCann could hit 35-40 HR in 2014.

  56. People are talking about aging curves like the Yankees play by the same rules as us. They don’t.

  57. Yeah, that’s the thing about the Ellsbury contract. The Yankees are stinking rich, there’s a lot of TV money in the game, and if you accept that free agents are massively expensive, then the Ellsbury contract is perfectly rational within that market. That’s an excellent reason to stay the hell away from free agents, of course, but if you want a free agent, that’s the price.

  58. Just for my own sanity, because yesterday was a shitty day to be a Braves fan, I’m going to list some semi-credible propositions that kind of help me rationalize being a Braves fan. Maybe they will help you too:
    1) Wren has something up his sleeve, don’t worry!
    2) La Stella, Sims, Peraza! I gotta wear shades, the future’s so bright.
    3) 96 wins last year, don’t worry about randomness of playoffs, it’s all good!
    4) Mets are fuckups, Marlins are corrupt, Ruin Tomorrow Jr., Nats still need to prove it!
    5) Even if Liberty just gives us a pittance from TV, new stadium, etc, at least that’s something!

  59. EDIT to @90:

    6) Other teams’ fans hate us because of our name/the chop/Chipper remaining a sort of obnoxious ongoing presence/dumbshit Fun Police meme/they think they’re entitled to the playoff spot that they see us squander annually. So screw those people and their teams, I’m a Braves fan.

    I am starting to embrace and have fun with #6.

  60. While commenting on the Fister trade for the MLB network last night, Mitch Williams observed that the Nats’ defense will have to improve considerably for a ground ball pitcher like Fister to be effective. Are the Nats really that poor a team defensively?

  61. The future is bright because all of our best players under 25 are on the major league roster. We were damn good in 2013, and we’re going to be good — possibly damn good — in 2014.

    The tomahawk chop IS stupid, though, and we should just give it back to FSU.

    The Nats’ biggest infield problem is Ryan Zimmerman, but his problem isn’t so much range as his throwing arm; he seems to have gotten a case of the yips since his shoulder surgery.

  62. I’m concerned about our lack of leadership for these younger guys. Medlen is our most tenured Braves player. It’s almost impossible for these young guys to learn from the likes of BJ and Uggla who seem to be struggling. We had the most come from behind wins in the majors last season. It will be hard to repeat that feat. We need more offense and our rotation needs to improve. Losing Chipper, Prado, Hudson, and Bmac in the last year and a half will have an impact. The Braves really need Uggla, BJ, Venters, and Beachy to all bounce back and have a good season. I’m skeptical of our chances at this point.

  63. I’d just like to win a playoff series. I don’t care much about our clubhouse chemistry or leadership. If that was important at all then surely we’d have seen it translate to the field. Maybe we should try a few seasons without veteran leadership and see what happens.

  64. Kris Medlen is almost 30 years old and has near six years experience. How is he not a vetera n?

    In the 90s the braves won lots of playoff series (if not WS titles.) they stopped doing that around 2000. Oddly enought that coincides with their decline from “top 3-5 payroll in baseball” to “mid market drudgery.”

    Pay for more talent and you win more series. But that doesn’t guarantee titles. The playoffs are random.

  65. The best ingredient for clubhouse chemistry is a dose of winning. I agree with Alex, I like our team. Sure there are question marks a plenty but which team doesn’t have any?

    @95 – You should amend that statement with we really need Uggla to bounce back …. with another team.

    starting pitching: 3 good young ones, one good one coming off injury and 2 in house candidates for the 5th job.

    relief pitching: the best closer in the game, solid 7th and 8th inning guys and a history of building excellent bullpens with a bunch of guys.

    outfield: two really good ones and a guy that is way better than his 2013 season. If they all play as well as they can we have the best offensive outfield in baseball.

    infield: solid at 3b, spectacular at SS, a couple of decent candidates at 2b, a very good 1b and a potentially good offensive C with a veteran backup.

    bench: a solid veteran catcher, a decent 4th OFer, a good glove 2b. Still need to fill the bench out, but how hard is that?

    In a perfect world the team would be able to acquire a good veteran starter, unload something north of the MLB minimum for Uggla and acquire a veteran 2b to let LaStella have some at bats at AAA.

    I like our team.

  66. starting pitching: 3 good young ones, one good one coming off injury and 2 in house candidates for the 5th job.

    But that’s not enough because at least one of the above will get hurt — perhaps badly, as in, beyond next season — and we’re currently counting on one guy who is already hurt and may never recover. Playoff-wise, right now, I just hope Minor, Teheran, or Wood can really step forward into ace-hood.

    relief pitching: the best closer in the game, solid 7th and 8th inning guys and a history of building excellent bullpens with a bunch of guys.

    Kimbrel is Kimbrel, and yet the nature of bullpens makes me feel like I’m jinxing even him right now. I don’t think any team can really bank on its bullpen. The best you can hope for is to not sink crazy money into it if you’re the Braves, and with Kimbrel that’s on track to happen soon.

    outfield: two really good ones and a guy that is way better than his 2013 season. If they all play as well as they can we have the best offensive outfield in baseball.

    I guess what I’m doing here is looking at the downside as you have looked at the upside. In a vacuum, assuming last year is actually the low for this outfield — Jupton has been better, we expect Heyward to be healthier/even better, and BJ…yeah — then I’m OK with the low. But in context, maybe we can’t afford BJ to replicate 2013.

    infield: solid at 3b, spectacular at SS, a couple of decent candidates at 2b, a very good 1b and a potentially good offensive C with a veteran backup.

    We call him Regression for a reason. Andrelton is indeed our MVP. I think you know you’re overselling 2B. Agree on Freddie, and maybe he has one ridiculously good fluke SLG season in him. I worry that Gattis actually isn’t that good.

    bench: a solid veteran catcher, a decent 4th OFer, a good glove 2b. Still need to fill the bench out, but how hard is that?

    Sure, fine. This is where we’re going to get veteran leadership, I can feel it.

  67. I did give props to Kimbrel and Andrelton and was even optimistic about Freddie. And I said a repeat of last year’s OF performance, including BJ, would probably suffice. So I don’t know what you want.

  68. I’ve been talking to my wife about why McCann left the Braves, why the Yankees are able to do what they’re doing, and she said, “Why doesn’t this happen in the NFL?”

    “They have a salary cap that prevents teams from spending higher than the collective market will allow.”

    “That’s smart. Do other sports do that?”

    “Yeah, the NBA, NHL, MLS, I think they all do.”

    “Why doesn’t baseball have a salary cap?”


    “Uh, I dunno.”

    Why doesn’t baseball have a salary cap?

  69. Our pitching isn’t good enough to make us playoff favorites. I fully understand that it’s good enough to win a 5 game series against anyone (you could also say the same about the Astros staff or any staff – randomness does play a part), but what I’m worried about is that we just don’t have good head to head matchups with the top three in Dodgers and Cardinals staffs. We’ll be pretty severe betting-line underdogs again this year against those teams unless we can add a nice piece at the top.

    Of course we *can* win with what we’ve got, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I’m not going to be happy if payroll is 90 million and their excuse is that they are saving it all for the street of dreams development at white-flight-field.

  70. @102, because baseball has a very powerful players union. You would have to get them to agree to it — after all, it would lower all of their members’ salaries. In order to get them to agree, the owners would have to make massive concessions of their own.

    The NBA and NFL unions, historically, were not nearly as strong.

  71. 102: Players refuse to countenance it, and MLBPA is a much stronger union than whatever the NFL and NBA have going on.

    @99: I think you are silly-low on the outfield. Heyward had two freak injuries that held him out; his production, prorated to a full season, was All Star level. He will produce more next year because he will play more next year. B.J. bottomed out as low as he possibly could. If he has lost all his hitting skill for no apparent reason, he’ll be equally bad. In the more likely event that he hasn’t lost all his hitting skill, he will be better, possibly far, far better. Justin gave the Braves about what they signed up for, which they can definitely live with. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any team’s outfield I would trade for the Braves’ 2014ers (ignoring contracts).

  72. @103 & 104

    Thanks guys. That’s the answer I gave, but I wanted to drill deeper with why the NFL and NBA players were agreeing to it and MLB wouldn’t.

    My best understanding is the NFL and NBA players see the value in the increased collective interest in their respective sports, and they’re a little easier to replace than baseball players.

  73. @103 – Maybe not favorites but we are contenders. As Sam, I think, has repeatedly stated, we had 3 HOF caliber starters for a decade and won 1 WS. The playoffs are random.

    @99 – A lot of things have to go right for the Braves to win next year. I don’t disagree with that at all. By nature I am a pessimist but also a realist, probably to a fault since as a fan I should probably let more emotion into my fandom, but I simply don’t see a way that the Braves, given their constraints, can become drastically better in the FA or trade market. We simply don’t have the trade chips or money to acquire an impact pitcher or bat.

    The best I see them doing is acquiring a veteran pitcher to allow them to ease Alex Wood into the 5th starter role. He ain’t gonna be a ‘shutdown ace’ but a solid innings eater. And that may be a stretch given the cost of talent these days.

  74. The length & amount of the Ellsbury deal really is completely insane, but obviously it’ll help the Yanks for the first half of that contract. (Would they deal Gardner now?)

    But this is looking just like the post-’08 offseason. Yanks miss the playoffs (and this time see the Sawx win the WS), see their attendance, season-ticket base & TV ratings decrease, they freak out & commit a quarter-billion dollars to a small handful of players. Worry about those extra years later.

    And it seems as if they’re not done.

  75. @ 86

    Ted Turner did.

    @ 94

    I was watching the Denver/ KC game the other day and the Cheufs fans were doing the chop. How long has this been a thing? (I didn’t really follow the NFL closely at all until I started playing in a fantasy league this year).

  76. @107, we only had one power pitcher starter during that run – and he was dominant in the playoffs. The others were below .500 I think. Put a Smoltz on the current team and we become favorites (or at least closer to even-money). Right now we’re pretty far away from even-money.

    I know there’s an element of randomness, but for once I’d like to go into the playoffs as a clear favorite because we have guys that nobody wants to face. Having all our best arms in the pen isn’t a winning strategy to me.

  77. I think I’m setting my expectations for this offseason at the Jeff Samardzija level. We can’t afford (or won’t sell the farm) for the guys perceived to be better than him. He’s got nasty stuff and can dominate a lineup when he’s on. I’d roll with that in 2014 and take my chances.

    Instead we’ll probably just get the next version of Paul Maholm.

  78. Rob, I don’t think that the salary caps in the other sports are because the players believe they are good for the sports. I think it’s because the owners were able to ram it down their throats.

    But I find the NFL increasingly hard to follow or even talk about. The fact that contracts aren’t guaranteed strikes me as borderline immoral; it basically introduces untenable moral hazards where players either have to play through career-threatening injuries or get cut without pay. The league has not only turned a blind eye to concussions for years, it has used its team doctors to publish propaganda in scientific journals disputing a link between football and concussions.

    I don’t think baseball is any kind of moral exemplar, but the National Football League just turns my stomach.

  79. Paul Maholm gave us 221 2/3 innings with a 4.14 ERA (94 ERA+), during a time when Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jonny Venters, Eric O’Flaherty, J.R. Graham, and Arodys Vizcaino all had season-ending arm injuries, and Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens utterly ceased to be major league-caliber baseball players.

    You don’t ever want to be in a position where you have to rely on Paul Maholm, but we should be awfully glad he was there. Think of it this way: if we hadn’t had him, we would have given a whole lot more starts to Kameron Loe.

  80. @115, an innings eater doesn’t get us out of the first round. I’m taking it for granted that this is a playoff team. We’re too good not to be, barring crazy injury bad luck. I’m not worried about whether Alex Wood can play the role of Paul Maholm. I’m worried about putting someone markedly better than Medlen up against the other team’s #1.

  81. Lots of great extensions for our young players being passed out right now, I see.

    I’m going to give them the offseason to get some worthwhile things done, but this is not an auspicious start no matter what your offseason priorities are.

    @106, Alex is right about what led to salary caps in those sports – the owners broke those unions much quicker. Baseball’s owners have always had to tread a bit more lightly because of the antitrust exemption they don’t want to lose.

    Caps aren’t a be-all end-all for fans anyway, because they still break up teams with cores the fans would like to keep together. Look at the fire sale the OKC Thunder held on James Harden for proof of concept, or the Mavs’ non-defense of their 2011 title. In a cap world, BMac’s still gone, ownership just has a different excuse for why.

    @98, there’s a lot to like about our core as you correctly note, but letting key guys go for free and acquiring nothing of note while your main rivals get better is not included in any “how to get over the hump and win a playoff series” manual I can find. Like I said I’ll give them the offsesaon, but there need to be impact additions above and beyond what’s already here.

  82. @114:

    Very good points, Alex. One thing I have never understood is that,in a country that worships the market in most things, we want to restrain the market in sports-at least in terms of what players, but not owners, earn. Isn’t it grossly inconsistent to rhapsodize about how efficient the market is as many do and, at the same time, allow the NFL to have basically one-sided contracts and other sports to collectively restrain how much they pay players, all in the service of “protecting” owners from making insane financial decisions? I’m not shedding any tears for LaBron James, but how much is he underpaid due to the NBA salary cap relative to the revenues he brings in? I would bet a lot.

    I’m not one that necessarily worships at the alter of the market but if you are going to say, as many do, that basically everything should be market-driven, then it seems to me that should apply to how much players make.

  83. @116 – Curious. How do the Braves obtain said pitcher ‘markedly better than Medlen’? How many of those guys are even in baseball right now, not much less available. Cuz Kris Medlen was a pretty dang good pitcher in 2013. Better than Jeff Samardzija.

    Yeah obtaining Samardzija makes the team better but how much do you pay for a 4/5 starter at today’s prices?

    Again, if I suppress my realistic streak, do I want a top flight arm for the Braves? You bet your ass I do. But we ain’t gonna get one. Samardzija may be out of our price range. A guy like the Mississippi Hawaiian is a realistic target and it takes a lot of pressure off of Alex Wood, whom I think is going to be good.

  84. I don’t want to even know what players make. The owners (especially in baseball) have somehow convinced the fans that part of the enjoyment of the sport is that we all get to be privy to our teams budget and can thus play the “fantasy GM” game in the offseason. I don’t really find this aspect of fandom all that enjoyable.

  85. @119, I think Samardzija has markedly better stuff than Medlen. I firmly believe that power pitching in the playoffs (cold-weather games mostly) is the way to go. Yes there are always exceptions, but I think any decent offensive team can dink and dunk a nibbler with an 88mph fastball if they put aside regular-season selfishness and try to take everything back through the middle or opposite field. More balls in play is more bad stuff that can happen.

    If we can’t get someone with that kind of stuff then I’m going to be disappointed. That doesn’t mean we can’t still win it all in 2014. I like our team a lot. I just don’t like our pitching as much as some do.

  86. I don’t know what all the players make either.

    Gosh, isn’t being a fantasy GM, armchair coach, Monday morning QB etc, part of being a fan? The HotStove season for me is fun.
    I follow the Braves budget at a 10000 foot level so that I can make a realistic assessment of my favorite team. And so that I don’t sound like a dumbass AJC poster.

  87. @121 – So the results don’t matter? Your observations of Samardzija’s stuff makes him a better playoff pitcher?

  88. @123, yes I think his stuff plays better in October than Medlen’s. Doesn’t guarantee anything, but I think it helps our chances a bit.

  89. I think what krussell was saying about Samardzija is that while medlen may be a better pitcher over the long term, Samardzija, in one game, has the type of stuff that can shut down an opponent better than Medlen. In other words, Medlen’s average is better, but Samardzija’s peak is much higher.

    Of course, you also have to deal with his valleys being deeper than Medlen’s.

  90. Being a fantasy GM is fun. But as W.C.G. wrote several weeks ago, it can have the effect of dehumanizing the players and making them seem like dollar bills with legs, while we instead identify with the management and skinflint ownership that falsely pretends it can’t afford to pay them.

  91. Alex made two good points on separate occasions that I keep forgetting whenever I see a FA get signed and my rage then builds anew.

    1) We are likely good enough to start the season with what we’ve got and then make a trade for an ace before the deadline if all goes according to plan.
    2) Sims will reach the peak of his trade value if he performs well to start this season.

  92. The problem isn’t moderately talented players making 20+ mil per year. They are the labor and the product and the entertainment, all in one. The problem is Liberty Media and like minded ownership entities sucking down billions from the TV and gate revenues and then *not* paying the labor.

    They’re millionaires, yes. But there’s no more reason Jacob Elsbury should not be paid as much as he can possibly get for his work than there is that Jim the electrician shouldn’t be paid for his. If you’re going to take sides in the MLB/MLBPA financial cold war, side with the workers, man. Always side with the workers.

    No one else seems to want to point out the fallacy of using team wins to determine if Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine were “good” in the playoffs, as opposed to “playoff ace” John Smoltz. That’s…unfortunate. Between 1995 and 2004, Greg Maddux was *outstanding* in the playoffs. In his three trips to the WS, he has an ERA of 2.09. Friggin’ wins and losses, man?

  93. Smoltz’s career postseason numbers are far better than Maddux’s and Glavine’s…across the board. It’s not about team wins and losses.

  94. No one else seems to want to point out the fallacy of using team wins to determine if Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine were “good” in the playoffs

    Well, no one wants to point out the fallacy of using Medlen’s season-long stats — fattened from facing the Marlins, Mets, and Phillies — to say he’s a perfectly good #1 starter in the playoffs. So it goes both ways.

  95. Actually Glavine’s are comparable to Smoltz’s now that I look it up. Soft-tossing lefties FTW.

  96. @118 You’re conflating vastly different things. A sports league is not the equivalent of a national economy, though there are certainly things in common, because the sport itself is a product and the individual teams cannot sell their product without other viable and successful teams (unlike, say Microsoft, which can exist just fine without Apple, and vice versa) to play against. If things like competitive parity, for instance, make the product more enjoyable to fans and therefore more popular, than that’s an actual market incentive for internal spending controls (or other policies that have a similar effect).

    Using another example, just because someone believes in a representative government doesn’t mean they would structure a business on the same model or that they are somehow violating their principles by adopting the typical authoritative relationship between employer and employee. They’re fundamentally different systems.

  97. If MLB is properly considered a single entity with component subsidiary parts competing against one another, then it has no rightful claim to anti-trust exemption.

  98. @130 Are you saying that Samardzija is a better pitcher than Medlen?

    Krussell, your saying that a power pitcher, like Smoltz is essential for playoff success. Well doggone it dude we HAD Smoltz AND Glavine AND Maddux and still won only one WS. Back then everyone said we lost those post seasons becuase we didn’t have a premier closer. Then Smoltz became a premier closer…… the playoffs are random.

    I sure hope you looked at Maddux and Glavines playoff numbers closer. Smoltz was better but outside his WL not that much better.

  99. @133,

    Sam, if MLB is a single entity, it could probably impose a salary cap without any antitrust issues, just as GM can set a salary scale for all its divisions. (I am an antitrust lawyer, FWIW.) A salary cap would only be a restraint of trade if independent entities colluded to impose it. Frankly, I doubt that antitrust would make much difference unless you considered each team a separate business. As a single entity, assuming that there was no antitrust exemption, baseball would be subject to Section 2 of the Sherman Act, which prohibits monopolization or attempted monopolization. But this has nothing to do with its ability to establish a salary cap. It’s collective bargaining that prevents that. As a single entity, it would not be subject to Section 1, which prohibits unreasonable restraints of trade. If, on the other hand, each MLB team was considered a separate company competing with each other, those teams could not collude and impose a salary cap.

    I do side with labor. But this has nothing to do with the antitrust exemption IMO.

  100. The playoffs aren’t entirely random. They’re a lot more random than the regular season. But in aggregate, the better team still wins more often.

    Samardzija has a good arm and has been pitching better. I’d definitely take a chance on him if the price was right. Medlen’s clearly better, at least for now.

  101. I know. Better team better chance. Just seems lately that its the hot team not the better team. We wern’t better than the Dodgers last season.

  102. @136, I think they’re comparable. On the whole, Samardzija may be a little better, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Medlen had a better regular season next year. The point is, I’d rather have Samardzija starting a Game One, and it seems like he’s getting dealt as soon as next week.

    Samardzija’s fWAR last year was 2.8. Medlen’s was 2.5.

  103. That’s not really the right comparison since we aren’t talkin about trading one for the other. Samardzija just has to be better than one of Medlen, Minor, Teheran, Beachy, or Wood. He would be a huge boost to our rotation and would give us extra depth. Id take him or Lohse.

  104. Samardzija and Lohse will cost 2 top prospects and solve 0 of the Braves future financial issues. If the Braves want a 3 WAR Starter for 2 years they should give up a 2 WAR closer for 3.

  105. Maybe this will bring down the price of Price.

    @Buster_ESPN: David Price’s pitching WAR over the last three seasons: 13.5. Doug Fister’s WAR in those years: 13.3.

  106. Samardzija has had a few starts against us recently where he’s looked unhittable – that might be clouding my judgement, small sample size and all. Still, I think that arm and our organzational track record with coaching pitching … well, it might be a good match and it’s worth a risk. I wouldn’t give up the whole farm system, but I’d trade a prospect and Beachy if that could get it done.

  107. On Chris Johnson and possible regression / non regression,

    It is just one small issue, but it could be big.

    Before last year, in every year of partial year of Johnson’s Major League career, he had a reverse platoon split (OPS). He started with part time play in 09. So, that is 09, 10, 11, and 12.

    Last year his right handed pitcher line was about what his career against righties line was.

    However, he ops’d about 930 against lefties.

    So, if Walker’s work getting him ready to face lefties in the platoon with Fat Juan has actually increased his skill, that is a big thing.

  108. @145 – Yeah, I think that very small sample is clouding your judgement. I can’t recall. Did he dominate us during our hot hitting phase or after Heyward went down and the whole team seemed to go into a funk? You seem to be fixated on the guy as the solution.

    The Cubs aren’t run by a dumbass anymore. Samardzija will cost more than what you propose in a trade. Pitching is gonna be expensive. See contracts given to Hudson, Tim and Lincecum, Tim. I don’t think that the curious Tigers/Nats trade is a valid model either.

  109. Yes, pitching is expensive. But if regular season win #90 is as expensive as it is to acquire, was anybody expecting playoff certainty to come cheap?

    I wouldn’t say Samardzija is “the solution.” It’s been pointed out that he doesn’t have the best mental makeup, among other things.

    The reason why people are fixated on him is that he’s the best semi-realistic match for us. He’s available, for one. There’s an argument to be made that he hasn’t pitched to his potential, so we could reasonably demand to pay a lower price for him — I guess that’s just wishful thinking in a SABR world. And while we don’t have the FA bucks to spend on quality starters, we could put together a package to acquire him. Maybe.

    If you believe the Mariners would trade Taijuan Walker for David Price — I guess that assumes that they would also get Cano, and unclear if the Yankees really would let that happen — then we’d still have to compete with the DBacks for Samardzija, and we might not be willing to top a package headlined by Tyler Skaggs. We might be better off waiting until the trade deadline.

  110. When looking at WAR, it’s worth looking at both fWAR and RA9-WAR; fWAR is based on FIP, while RA9-WAR is based on runs allowed. So, last year, Samardzija was worth 2.8 fWAR but only 1.4 RA9-WAR, because he only had an ERA+ of 91. Meanwhile, Medlen was worth 2.5 fWAR but 3.4 RA9-WAR.

    The basic point: Samardzija has nastier stuff than Medlen, but worse results, at least for now.

    @149, Anthony Schreiber isn’t a good analyst. Take what he writes with a grain of salt.

    In that column, he managed to assert that Freddie Freeman was more productive than Joey Votto. Schreiber just isn’t good.

  111. @149: I don’t think that that guy knows what he’s talking about overall, but the real problem with Kimbrel is that he could get $15 million plus this year. There are no real comps for an arbitrator to look at. If that happens, the Braves will have to straight salary dump him immediately and will get essentially nothing.

  112. It seems to me that the Nats deal for Fister will force Wren to do something. At this point, the rotation is Teheran, Medlen, and Minor. Who knows about Beachy? The other guys are unproven. Maybe Wren can’t get an ace but I think he has to do more than just get a back-end starter, unless he is absolutely certain that Beachy will be healthy.

    I’ve been a supporter of Wren but he has certainly made some curious contract decisions.

  113. @ajcbraves: Agree (Samardzija). Not to sound obvious, he’ll be better on better team RT @tramz18: @ajcbraves He wouldnt be bad option if price is right

  114. @152, that’s not how arbitration works. Kimbrel is an arb1 player which means he’s probably looking at about 40% of his free agent market value. Papelbon (11 WAR in his first three-plus seasons, one more than Kimbrel) is the comp, and Papelbon made $6.25 MM in his arb1 season.

    If the right deal for Craig Kimbrel is there, they should do it. If not, they should keep him. They’ve already renounced about $30MM in veteran “expiring contract” salary this offseason. Enough. Acquire talent.

    Yahoo! has increased its clickrate at the cost of running a sub-Bleacher Report content farm side operation that isn’t formatted differently enough from its real analysts for my taste. So be aware: every time you cite Anthony Schreiber’s opinion about the Braves as carrying more authority than the median AJC commenter, God kills a kitten. They might as well give that Emma Stone guy who was on here a couple years ago his own Yahoo byline and make that look legit too.

  115. @149
    I hate these window closing articles (TC just posted one yesterday). If the Braves are smart and sell-high on some players for high-end prospects then the window never has to close. Well, as long as the Braves can continue developing home-grown pitching.

  116. Commenting to the posting situation,

    Now we know it is 20 million to play. If you don’t get a contract, you don’t have to pay.

    We know that there is a possibility that either Tanaka or the Braves have leftover issues from Kawakami.

    However, I would sure like to see Liberty authorize a fishing expedition. Most people were thinking 100 mill total for 6 years total with the posting fee in it. After apparently bad contracts on Uggla and BJ Upton, can anybody in FO stomach throwing a ton on the table?

    This is talent that doesn’t use up draft slots or limits, doesn’t use international bonus pools, and is close to exactly what we need.

    I am thinking that a “right to void” after 5 might be a thing that could make him move to ATL instead of NYY or LAD.

    By the way, remember that when the cost shifts out of posting fee and into salary, then the luxury tax is more likely to kick in. Thus if Yankees REALLY want to be out of that (and it now looks like that is inaccurate news), then the change may take them out.

  117. @149. If BJ enjoys a resurgence toward his norm. It may be a good time to look at unloading him and the contract. I’d prefer spendind that money on a number of the young, promising players already under contract.

  118. 159: I have no problem with the Braves throwing in a bid; indeed, I think it’s a good idea in the unlikely event that he has some idiosyncratic preference for Atlanta. But let’s be honest: there’s basically no chance that the Braves will acquire Tanaka when the Dodgers will offer him like 1.5x as much.

    155: Papelbon isn’t really a great comp because Kimbrel is much better. Anyway, it was more in reaction to the idea that Jim Johnson is apparently going to be earning a $10 million salary in his final arb year, meaning that salary inflation is hitting the closer arb market in a big way. But you make a good point about the mechanics of arbitration, and it may have been that the reports I was reading were just panicky and not well-founded. We’ll see. I think there’s a great chance he prices himself off the Braves by next offseason.

  119. @158, off the top of my head, Kevin Millwood.

    I like this so much that I just want to copy and paste it.

    Yahoo! has increased its clickrate at the cost of running a sub-Bleacher Report content farm side operation that isn’t formatted differently enough from its real analysts for my taste. So be aware: every time you cite Anthony Schreiber’s opinion about the Braves as carrying more authority than the median AJC commenter, God kills a kitten. They might as well give that Emma Stone guy who was on here a couple years ago his own Yahoo byline and make that look legit too.

    @162, no no no no no. You do NOT want to extend a closer. In 99 out of 100 cases, his arm will fall off within three years of inking the deal.

  120. @155

    Agreed. Somebody needs to put together some sort of public service announcement about the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Anytime you look at a Yahoo! column, the first thing you do is look to see if it says “Yahoo! Contributor Network” on the byline. If it does, what you are about to read has no more merit than any blog post or comment on any site. It’s just some guy. You could write a piece and have it put on the Yahoo! Contributor Network right now. I could write a piece and have it put on the Yahoo! Contributor Network right now. Some doofus on the ESPN comments section could write a piece and have it put on the Yahoo! Contributor Network right now. I really wish people would stop referencing these articles, frankly. Unless you’re gonna go and reference Comment No. 123 on some random Mets blog or whatever. Because that’s basically the equivalent. The average post or comment on this site has more merit than anything on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

    Those two days we spent freaking out over that Dodgers fan’s Yahoo! piece during the All-Star Final Vote that basically implied that Puig should win because everyone knows the Dodgers are awesome were two of the stupidest days in the history of this planet. The entire city basically was freaking out over the equivalent of a Dodgers message board post.

  121. I think I agree, though to be fair I was just talking about extending him a year at basically $11 million if my arb estimates are correct.

    I agree it’s a poor allocation of resources, but if they’re not going to trade him he’ll likely cost $33ish for 3 years anyway. Maybe a 4/$40 million deal though I don’t know why Kimbrel would do that.

  122. RE: Kimbrel

    You’re right, Alex, that we shouldn’t extend him. But the furor over trading him is beginning to get absurd. It’s certainly not a bad idea to look into the possibility, but it’s not an absolute necessity, and it will actively make our team worse next year if we pull the trigger on it.

    It’s also gone from people pointing out that it might be a good idea to explore the permutations to a general “OMG we have to trade Kimbrel! He could get $15 million next year! He could get $20 million 2 years from now! If we don’t trade him now, we’ll wind up having to release him when his arb number comes out because we just won’t be able to pay it! We could get prospects back! AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!”

    First of all, he’s probably not even going to make half of $15 million next year, certainly no more than half. And he’s not going to make $20 million at any point in his arbitration years. Even if he’s the best arb closer in baseball history, he has comps. Like the second-best arb closer in baseball history. He’ll make slightly but not appreciably more than that guy (probably Papelbon, as mentioned in a previous post).

    Secondly, I’m not sure why you guys think other teams are going to value Kimbrel enough to dump their entire farm system on top of our heads when you don’t value him enough where you think he’s worth having as your closer over, say, David Carpenter. Or Jonny Venters with a wasted elbow. Trust me, we’re not the only people who have thought of this. My guess is whatever we would get back in a trade probably would not be worth getting rid of Kimbrel for. And no…it is not absolutely necessary that we dump him for salary relief. Especially since it doesn’t really look (so far) like we’re going to do anything remotely worthwhile this offseason, anyway. I’m still curious as to how so many fans on this site keep trying to find ways for us to reduce payroll.

  123. Agreed. If Craig Kimbrel is the Braves closer in 2014, it will be very, very far from a bad thing. But it would be good if the Braves could get a good return for him at some point before he walks into a lucrative free agent payday.

  124. Unless the Braves increase payroll, they will
    no doubt have to trade someone in 2015, either one of the arb-players or a guaranteed contract player. I’d rather them make a move selling-high, opening up payroll, and receiving a quality return than being forced to trade and the rest of the league low balling them due to the knowledge of the Braves position.

  125. 166: We’ll see. Per the article posted at 162, his stats give him a projected salary of $10.2 million, and it’s only by assuming that the arbitrator is going to tie his salary to that of clearly-inferior comps that you can get him down to the salary you think is probable. Maybe that’s correct, but maybe Kimbrel’s reps are going to point out quite accurately that he is doing things no closer in his first arb season has ever come particularly close to achieving before and will land him not just a record-breaking salary, but a salary that breaks the record by a lot. If he were to get anything near $10 million this year, I think the Braves would feel fairly serious pressure to trade him immediately. Your “it doesn’t really look (so far) like we’re going to do anything remotely worthwhile this offseason, anyway” is kind of silly; we haven’t even reached the winter meetings yet. Depend on it that the Braves will be spending money this offseason, and would rather not see a much-larger-than-expected chunk of change go to a one-inning reliever.

  126. Heard the Brian McCann/Yankees press conference on the radio. Talk about a tough listen.

    Question from the Peanut Gallery: Was there anyone who helped explain what the transition to New York would be like?

    McCann: Yeah, Mark Teixeira helped a lot.

  127. That’s another reason to trade Kimbrel. Trade him before his cost gets too high and while teams would still have several years of controlling his services. His value will not get any higher. He’s the best closer in baseball.

  128. I thought Kevin Millwood was traded, not because he was an emerging FA pitcher, but because Maddux had unexpectedly accept arbitration and JS was forced to shed payroll.

    For those thinking JS was the best GM ever, just remember Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada. Sheesh.

  129. Rob at 174,

    Correct on why Millwood was traded.

    That very incident is why the Braves are so trigger shy about making the arb offers. They don’t EVER assume that their guy won’t take it unless they are SURE.

    However, once boxed in the corner on Millwood, getting Estrada’s best year when Javy happened to get injured actually was a good get. Maybe somewhat accidentally. But, it salvaged a bad situation.

    I can’t remember what Millwood was scheduled to get then (last arb year?). But, that shouldn’t have been a reason to panic.

  130. As I recall, people were worried that Millwood would make about $10 million. Maddux got about $15, which was a lot even then. Millwood was in a walk year, which is why they weren’t able to get much for him, but even in a walk year most Braves fans expected more than a 26-year old minor league catcher from an intradivision rival.

    He had a very good year for us, though.

  131. @Ken_Rosenthal: Source: Wilson agrees with #Dodgers, 1 year, $10M plus incentives, with player option worth up to $10M plus incentives.

    What an awful deal. A set up reliever for 2/$20+.

  132. @Ken_Rosenthal: Keep in mind: #Mariners have very low payroll commitments and new TV deal reportedly worth $2 billion over 17 years starting in 2014.

  133. Yeah, Maddux and Boras apparently screwed with Schuerholz and accepted arbitration.

    Of course, don’t offer it if you don’t want the player to accept.

  134. Enjoying the conversation on here as of late, though I am surprised that the Jameis Winston situation didn’t get more interest on here. I do, however, understand that it’s a difficult conversation with all the political undertones.

  135. @183… this will continue to stay fun:

    According to the New York Daily News team, Cano and his representatives from CAA and Roc Nation Sports arrived in Seattle with an eight-year, $200MM offer in hand from the Mariners and eventually received assurances that the Mariners would go to nine years and $225MM. However, a late change by agent Jay-Z in which he once again demanded $252MM over 10 years caused Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln to “explode,” prompting the meeting to end.

  136. The Mariners can’t be serious about this, right? Seems like a PR thing for their fans – “see we’re trying” – or something along those lines. They’ll finish last without or without Cano.

  137. My guess is that Jay-Z became a little too transparent in trying to use the Mariners as leverage, and this little leak of the meeting is the Mariners’ revenge.

  138. Regarding Jameis Winston, I’m fairly glad we didn’t get into it. Those debates are really, really hard to contain. I was very impressed by a piece that Julie DiCaro wrote at Aerys Sports, regarding her own experience as an attorney, defender of people accused of rape, and surviver of sexual assault. I won’t link it because I’d prefer that we stay away from the debate over that case, but I recommend seeking it out if you’re interested in the case.

  139. Good points Alex. The rule about no politics is good. Several theads I have been involved in on The Hardball Times have been hijacked by people discussing politics and it ruins the whole thing. Apparently, some people think it’s ok to dispense their political wisdom on a baseball site and then are surprised when people are offended and pushback.

  140. Well, all you young punks who refuse to see the wisdom of the Whig platform can go kiss my foot.


    Grumpy Old Fart

  141. Reports are surfacing that say the Mariners and Cano have agreed to a 10/$240 deal. What a clusterf**k.

  142. What a stupid offer. The could’ve signed Choo, Infante, a pitcher for that price and for lesser years.

  143. Predicition: Dan Uggla is a Yankee within a week.

    More signings:
    Granderson to Mets- 4/60
    Feldman to Astros- 3/30

  144. Modern Whigs? Bah! Nothing but received wisdom from the greatest Whig of All – Millard Fillmore.

  145. So the Yankees just traded Cano for Ellsbury. They paid Ellsbury three years and $90 million less, and that’s real money — but they’re the Yankees, and that’s affordable to them. We’ll see. I think this deal is a terrible idea for the Mariners, but I think the Yankees outthunk themselves. It was untenable for them to hold the line at $170 million after giving $153 million to Ellsbury; if they had upped their offer to Cano to $200 million, they very possibly could have kept him for somewhere around $210 or $220 over nine years. The Yankees are not going to be a good team next year.

    Anyway, this deal means the Mariners will probably trade Nick Franklin. The bloom’s off the rose a bit, because he had a bad year, but he was a good prospect, and I wouldn’t mind seeing if we could help him rediscover his prospect status by liberating him from Safeco Field.

  146. I really miss the flexibility that players like Infante and Prado provided. Pena and Franklin could be Prado/Infante 2.0!

  147. I simply don’t understand the Mariner’s thinking on this. Maybe Cano was a beast in Safeco.

    Ellsbury is a good player but I’m pretty sure the Yank’s offense just took a pretty good hit.

  148. #207
    They love Choo, but they still believe they need more starting pitching. They’ll re-sign Kuroda & possibly pursue Garza, as well.

  149. #203
    I watch soccer about once every 4 years (I’m American after all), so I don’t know that much about the international game. But that’s a helluva group (USA, Germany, Portugal & Ghana), right?

  150. Tough draw for the US. Germany usually among the favorites. Portugal has Ronaldo, maybe the 2nd best player in the world.

  151. @209

    Correct, we did not get a particularly favorable draw. Germany’s one of the five best teams in the world, Portugal is a bit overrated but has one of the two best players in the world, and we’re pretty even with Ghana on paper, but they’ve knocked us out of the last two World Cups. Plus, we literally got the worst travel schedule possible out of all 32 teams (we’ll be travelling close to 9,000 miles in a week-and-a-half unless we change our planned base camp site).

    That having been said, I think the Spain-Chile-Netherlands group is tougher than ours from a competition standpoint, and the Uruguay-England-Italy group is at least equivalent to ours, if not tougher, so people are probably freaking a little much. Overall though, our chances of advancing out of this group are probably 40 percent at the most, and I’m being a little overly optimistic.

  152. Ha. @197 wins the thread.

    The Mariners have crazy TV money, and their GM is under a ton of pressure to win now. It may not be smart, but wait ’til you see what they will now deal for David Price.

  153. The Whigs? When I was a TA at UGA teaching Intro US Gov’t (1980), I gave a test with a fill-in-the blank question about which party dominated US politics since the Great Depression. I thought there would be at least a 50-50 chance of getting it right, but one student put the Whigs. (All the other TAs enjoyed that one.)

    But maybe she was simply ahead of her time.

  154. @211

    Overall though, our chances of advancing out of this group are probably 40 percent at the most, and I’m being a little overly optimistic.

    ESPN’s projections give the US a 39.4% chance of advancing out of World Cup group play, so they agree with you. Brazil also has a 99.6% chance of advancing – obviously it’d be a total disaster if they somehow did not.

  155. @ 209, ububba, yes, quite a tough group. Best African team, best North American team and two of the four best European teams. This will be fun (for people who enjoy soccer).

    @ 211, Nick. I agree. Portugal is not overrated though. They have been a lot better than just having Ronaldo. I expect them to join Germany into the next round.

  156. As someone over on Slate said – If you look around your group and don’t see Honduras, that means YOU are Honduras.

  157. (Warning: Soccer Analysis Ahead)


    I suppose. I haven’t been too impressed. And they haven’t been playing particularly well recently. They’re certainly capable of beating anybody, and Ronaldo is capable of going off and single-handedly winning the game against anybody, but if you asked the standard soccer talking head if this Portugal team can win the World Cup, I have a feeling their answer would be yes. I’m not really seeing it, though. They required a second-chance playoff to make the World Cup on the last possible day, and only won that game because of one of the aforementioned crazy Ronaldo performances. He can win one game on his own, but he won’t win three or four in a row, and that’s what they’d probably need to win the World Cup.

    If the U.S. is to advance out of this group, they’ll likely have to get results against Ghana and Portugal. And in a vacuum, I don’t think this U.S. team beating Ghana or tying/beating Portugal on a neutral field is prohibitively unlikley. It’s just that when you stack those two games back-to-back, throw Germany in there and add in the crazy travel, it seems more unlikely.

  158. I’m sure he will return to All Star form and be the player that we traded for. He will haunt us somehow.

  159. Peter Gammons, I couldn’t agree more!

  160. My perspective on the US WC draw is that at some point we have to start beating the big teams if we want to make noise in the tournament. What better time than now to start?

    We don’t have an “easy” team in this group, but recall that we haven’t always done well against supposedly poor teams in the WC. In fact, we’ve historically played some of our best soccer against the big teams, even though we have yet to beat any of them with regularity.

    I think the group presents a unique opportunity to make ourselves known on the international stage. Hopefully the team sees it that way too. In any event it could be very fun to watch, as the WC usually is.

    As far as baseball is concerned, I think the market has blown up and the Braves are trying to figure out how to manage that. Since they are unlikely to sign anyone to a big-money contract, they are waiting for the dust to settle so they can make some smaller FA signings and perhaps a big trade or two. I imagine we’ll hear from Wren soon.

  161. I guess the Yankees are not the craziest of all. Hey, I think Dan Uggla would look good in the Yankees uniform.

  162. Beltran to the Yanks. Red Sox sign Napoli. What’s the point with having the winter meetings? Everything seems to be completed already.

  163. Piazza was likely on PEDs, too, and McGriff should make the ballot. If you want me to explain why, just ask.

  164. If AROD wins and is reinstated for 2014, Brian McCann will be the youngest player on the Yankees starting squad.

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