Chris Johnson (by Smitty)

Chipper Who? Well, let’s not go too far.

Chris Johnson was the “throw in” piece in the deal that brought Justin Upton over from Arizona. Initially he was considered to be a back up, possible platoon partner for Juan Francisco and a right handed bench bat. After Johnson started the season red hot, Fredi was forced to play him more. Most Braves fans were happy he was doing well,  but figured it was only a matter of time before he “regressed.”

Well, he didn’t regress. He actually got better. Johnson was playing so well that Francisco was demoted to the Brewers.  In fact, Johnson finished second in the league in batting (.321) and may have been the biggest positive surprise on the team last year.

There are a couple of knocks on Johnson, both of which may be over exaggerated. First, he isn’t Brooks Robinson at third base. He did commit 14 errors and was a -.7 DWAR player last year. I feel he actually improved his fielding by the end of the year. I was impressed with his arm too. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a late inning handcuff for him and we only need him to field balls hit right at him. Simba will get the rest.

Secondly, Johnson is quick to throw a tantrum on the field when he fails.  This all came to a head late in the season when he failed to beat out a throw to first and threw his helmet, which hit Terry Pendelton. Let’s just say TP wasn’t too pleased.

Is it reasonable to expect Johnson to have the same type of season? Probably not. I would imagine he will come back to earth some. In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a .300-.310 hitter with an OPS around .800. I think we would all be pleased with that.

But we all know what happened last year when we expected him to regress…

109 thoughts on “Chris Johnson (by Smitty)”

  1. Thanks, Smitty

    Honest question. Would you put A-Rod in the HOF? I was thinking about it the other day and while I would have no problem putting Bonds and Clemens in the HOF, I pause a little with A-Rod and I’m not sure why. Was wondering if others felt the same.

    Also, I’m not advocating it but would you do an Uggla for A-Rod swap with the Yanks eating all but $5 Million per year of A-Rod’s contract (meaning we’d have A-Rod in 2015-7 for a total of $15 Million). I suppose he does have those bonuses for milestone HRs to consider as well.

  2. There is a fundamental that may suggest “regression” may not play too prominently. Last year our hitting coaches worked hard in Spring Training on Johnson’s hitting of lefthanders (expecting the platoon with Fat Juan). Johnson had a career reverse platoon split of about 100 ops points before 2013. He had a favorable split against lefties in 2013.

  3. Donny (from previous thread),

    The point is no one actually knows how much PEDs helped any player. The working assumption seems to be that Giles and Lopez had great seasons ONLY because of PEDs. But why would you assume that? Lots of players have had one or two inexplicably great seasons. Maybe those two did PEDs and I don’t doubt that PEDs provide some benefit but I’m very skeptical that they help as much as people seem to think. At least I have not seen any scientific evidence that they do. As far as I’m concerned, absent scientific evidence that PEDs create great players, Bonds, Clemens, and A-Rod belong in the Hall of Fame.

    As for not having cheaters in the HOF, give me a break. Why is Gaylord Perry in the Hall?

  4. I give credit to the Braves’ hitting coaches. Johnson changed his approach last year and saw the benefits. I expect more of the same. Maybe not .320, but a solid average, lotsa doubles and 15-20 homers.

  5. Donny @ 51, previous thread, Marc Schneider @ 6, and all of you on impact of steroids, etc.

    At low levels in short bursts everybody knows that steroids improve healing by accelerating healing and reducing inflammation. (longer usage frequently leads to MORE inflammation like people with cancer on prednisone). Also, bones and joints do eventually break down from taking. I am lucky in that I have gotten great relief on weird inflammatory processes from them and have not had lingering need to take them.

    But as to performance in male athletes (and the East German’s basically created chemical males in their sports in the 60’s and 70’s), they are both psychological (note what Bosch said about A-Rod’s reactions) and physical.

    I look to the Ben Johnson situation. His use probably started in about 1984 when he was 23. After that, his times at 100 meters dropped about .4 over 4 years. .1 could be training and technique, but physically, sprinters are going down at 25. That .4 probably represented going from 99.99 percentile to 99.9999999 percentile. In the population as a whole, it wasn’t very noticeable. In his population, it was large.

    Bonds was an exceptional hitter before he juiced. Much of the change was based on change in approach (either walk or hit the damn ball a long damn way). But similarly, he went up from about 99.99 percentile as a hitter to 99.9999999.

    Practically, at elite levels the boost looks like 5%, on purer power, maybe 10%. I know that is a wild assed guess, but it fits the data points. So, a 70 home run season is really a 63, etc. (maybe).

    So, my view is discount the known use out of the performance and if they still fit, send them to the hall. If they don’t, leave them out.

    Alex Rodriguez before 24 years old was probably the single best player in Major League history. I don’t think he was using that early. He could easily have made the hall. Would he have been “a best ever” candidate? Maybe, but not certain.

  6. @8 Thank you for providing that data. I had a lengthier post that was lost in an edit, but you better communicate what I was trying to say. It’s that going from the 99.99% to the 99.999999% that I feel really bloats the accomplishments of Bonds and Rodriguez.

    As for the HOF: I don’t think there’s any room there for known PED users. How do we honor them? What do we honor about them? “Boy, that Barry Bonds was something special before he decided to really take his game to the next level!” “Man, that Bonds has held the home run record for more than 20 years, but he broke Maris’s record during the PED portion of his career. And maybe Babe Ruth would have even hit 80 if he had PEDs.”

    That’s not the dialog I prefer to have when talking about the all-time greats…

  7. It’s actually quite simple:

    “Barry Bonds was the best baseball player alive during the ‘Sillyball Era.’ He holds the Major League Baseball record with 762 career home runs. Many analysts and writers downgrade Bonds’ HR totals due to his involvement with BALCO and so-called ‘performance enhancing drugs’ which were prevalent in baseball during his career. While Bonds will likely always be a lightning rod for controversy due to his late career power surge and the association with PEDs, he was nonetheless a force in the game for 20 years and clearly one of the greatest baseball players to ever live.”

    Easy peasy. It’s the same “adjust for context and era” thing we do with ALL historical eras. Babe Ruth was superb, one of if not the greatest ever, but he never had to face a black opponent and Josh Gibson never got a chance to put his skills to the test in the Majors. Ty Cobb was a raging bigot but again, clearly and obvious a great of the game. So too, Barry Lamar. So too, Alex Rodriguez.

    The game is sordid and filthy all the way down. The idea that it just got that way in 1998 is… ahistorical.

  8. @8

    I dug through baseball-reference to look for the top players in total WAR to see A-Rod was the best through Age-24 in MLB history,. It wasn’t very scientific sampling, just a top of the head list. Here are the ones who made the grade to be in the argument.

    -Jason Heyward (just for you, Sam): 50 WAR, mostly due to his 32 WAR 2014 season
    -A-FRAUD (also just for you, Sam): 38.5 WAR
    -Jr Griffey: 37 WAR, with neither as high of a ceiling or as low of a floor as Rodriguez during the same age range.
    -the Mick: 41 WAR, with a rather sublime 11.3 WAR age-24 season in 1956 (which he then repeated in 1957, no big deal, he should probably give himself a toast)
    -the Great Otter: 36.8 WAR, steady as she goes

    So the answer could be Mantle, if you think 2.5 WAR over a stretch of 5 or 6 seasons is a clear cut above.


    Some interesting contenders that we’ll never know about:

    -the Rainbow: He’s entering his third full season of play (will be age-22) this year with more than 20 WAR to his name already. Contenders know how to swim upstream.
    -the Splendid Splinter, Ted “Fucking” Williams: 34.2 WAR through his age-23 season, but worth exactly 0.0 WAR in his age-24 season because…THE GREATEST GENERATION Y’ALL. Dude missed his age-24 through -26 seasons in service. Posted a 10.6 WAR season in age-23 and a 10.9 WAR season in age-27. Lordy.
    -Say-Hey: Mays was worth a tick less than 25 WAR through his age-24 season, but lost nearly 2 years to Korea. His Age-23 and Age-24 seasons average out to 9.8 WAR; it’s conceivable he could have accumulated 15 WAR in the two preceding seasons that he missed.
    -“Rapid Robert” Feller: Bob Feller got action as a 17-year old, which is one reason why he notched 37.3 WAR through his age-24 season. But you know what? He’s GREATEST GENERATION too, y’all. Did not pitch an inning of his age-23 and age-24 seasons. He averaged 9.1 WAR from ages 20-22.

    So…I’m giving the award to Feller, apologies to Ted Williams. Bob Feller, of the impossibly dimpled chin, is your young major league sensation of all time.

    I’d put A-Rod 6th, using statistics and imagination to rank them thus:

    1A. Heyward
    1. Feller
    2. Williams
    3. Trout
    4. Mantle
    5. Mays
    6. Rodriguez

    A few dudes who I looked up but who didn’t make the cut: Speaker, Musial, Aaron, Cedeno, Clemens, Henderson, Gooden, Kaline, Pujols, Bonds

  9. Alex Rodriguez was more valuable in his age 20 season than Jason Heyward has been for his entire career to date.

  10. A-Rod’s age-20 season clocked in at 9.3 bWAR, which is a tick better than half what Heyward’s (18.4 bWAR) has been for his career. So.

    Besides, A-Rod’s age-24 season he was only worth 10.3 WAR, whereas Heyward was worth 32 WAR in his 2014 age-24 season, winning both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards at two different positions (but losing MVP to Aroldis Chapman). So.

  11. I would call BABIP a fragile skill.

    He could keep spraying similar line drives and have similar results. He could change slightly and have much worse results, but it’s important to give him credit for the feat he accomplished.

  12. He’s making up a 32 WAR age 24 season for Heyward, in 2014. It’s snark and winking wishcasting.

  13. I would like to see what a 32 WAR season would look like in traditional counting stats form, just for fun.

  14. Cliff,

    Great stuff. Thanks.


    Mantle fascinates me because he was so good and, at the same time, so messed up. He would not have survived the media scrutiny of today. Eddie Mathews was the same way; what a lunatic he was. I don’t know how people can crucify people like A-Rod without recognizing that many of the greats in the past were quite flawed people themselves. And, what gets me is that many of the older media types that attack A-Rod probably did stuff during the sixties and seventies that they would prefer their kids not know about.

  15. If Johnson hits .300-.310 with an OPS around .800 we shouldn’t be pleased – we should be ecstatic. I haven’t seen any projection that bullish on him.

  16. I hate the Doggers. (Not their players, except for that no-‘count Uribe and his freak buddy Brian Wilson (not the druggie musical genius Brian Wilson, who also lived in LA, but the druggie beard-o reliever Brian Wilson.) I hate the Doggers and their moneys.

  17. From previous thread:

    When I said that A-Rod’s numbers aren’t real, it simply means that I don’t believe that they’re entirely authentic. It’s my belief that he wouldn’t have put up such lofty numbers without what possibly looks like career-long PED use. Simple.

    What would a talent like A-Rod have done without PEDs? Who knows? In a game without PEDs, let’s say, I’d guess he would’ve been at or near the top.

    Everyone has their own way of looking at the game. But for me, when MLB & the union allowed the game to become an Olympic-sized science project, I wasn’t crazy about it. I preferred to see a game without PEDS, for a variety of reasons that still bore me to recite. But similar to the (probably greater) sins of college football, it was never enough to make me abandon the game.

  18. Maybe…but Alex that pace is not sustainable. That is why “someone” (atl/cobbco #22) is going to save 90 runs with his glove, mostly in center and right, but also every fifth day when he spells Gatthencourt because he’s the only one with good enough pitch framing skills and everyday Japanese to earn Tanaka-san’s trust.

  19. Heyward has hit his fair share of opening day homers. Maybe Edward knows something we don’t…

  20. Hating the Dodgers is not only a tradition for Braves fans, but a moral imperative. Let the hate flow through you. Just leave some for the TV deal, too.

  21. The baseball HOF doesn’t include some guys that are the all-time leaders in several marquee counting stats, and that makes it 100% irrelevant in my mind. If you exclude the all-time hit leader and the all-time homerun leader then I’m not sure what you have, but whatever you call it, you can’t be calling it a Hall of Fame.

    3/4ths or more of the entire player universe were on PEDs during that time period. A large percentage still are. Where do you draw the line? Why are you trying to draw a line in the first place? 762 home runs did happen. Pretending that they don’t count is crazy to me. How is taking PEDs that much different than advanced weight training and nutrition regimens? How is it that much different than surgeries that move ligaments around? None of that stuff is “natural” and none of that stuff was going on in the olden days.

  22. Uh, Barry Bonds is still eligible for the Hall of Fame.

    The all-time hit leader is excluded from the Hall of Fame because he broke the one rule that is posted in every single baseball clubhouse as being something that will get you banned if you break it, and then he signed an agreement to a voluntary lifetime ban to prevent the investigation into his having done so from being released to the public.

  23. Why was my post deleted? Are we not allow to paste relevant tweets now?

    Edit: Nevermind, apparently the twitter code accidently queued it into moderation, but I didn’t realize at the time, and didn’t see the post now on a different computer till I logged in. Guess I need to be more careful about removing their scripting crap first.

  24. In a reverse-Ankiel move, convert Heyward from an outfielder to a starting pitcher, but have him bat high in the order and always tell him to swing away. Reduce the rotation to just three guys–Heyward will simply pitch three times in five days by getting the start every other game. This should allow him to accumulate about 636 IP on the season.

    Given the above, if Heyward can manage to reproduce Bonds’ 2001 season* at the plate (12 WAR) and Pud Galvin’s 1884 season** on the mound (20 WAR), he’ll have a 32 WAR season. Problem solved.

    * .328/.515/.863 with 73 HR, 137 RBI, 259 OPS+


  25. Pud Galvin is my hero. Get a couple of Puds and you could basically eliminate the rest of the pitching staff and stock up on utility infielders. It would be a lot cheaper for Liberty Media.

  26. “Pud Galvin is my hero.” If I weren’t emotionally committed to Pretzles Getzien, that would be my life’s motto.

  27. No doubt, Pretzles was pretty good. If you had Pud and Pretzles on the same staff, you could pretty much forget about Kimbrel.

  28. Oops, meant to include the 1884 numbers with that link to his career. He went 46-22 with a 0.988 WHIP and 1.99 ERA (155 ERA+), amassing 636.1 IP, 12 shutouts and 369 strikeouts. He started 72 games that season and completed 71 of them. Amazingly, despite all those innings, not a single batter faced that year was hit by pitch.

  29. If all goes as planned, I hope the Braves have a July roster that contains Floyd as the 5th starter, Gamel as the prize PH/spot starter at 3rd/1st, Alex Wood in the bullpen, and Venters as the dominant setup man we came to know and love. If that were to happen, we could have some serious October momentum. Excited for ’14 season!

  30. @42,

    Not a lot of strikeouts considering how many innings he pitched. If Pud had pitched against this year’s Braves, he would probably have had 700 strikeouts.

  31. This thread is so full of win, that I’m breaking my “No use of ‘full of win.'” rule.

  32. I’m a little late in my reply to Alex’s well-articulated response to my question regarding why there’s reason for concern with MLB’s actions towards A-Rod.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that based on the JDA, obviously A-Rod is being treated unfairly. Based on the rules of testing, this should be a 50 game suspension. The only reason they’re getting away with a 162 game suspension is because no one is supporting him and he’s a defenseless one-man show.

    With that said, regardless of Bud’s motivation to remove A-Rod based on his embarrassment over the steroid era happening on his watch, baseball is better off not having its most active, egregious offender out of baseball. His team (largely due to his contract and performance), his teammates, the commissioner, and really most fans want him gone, and while they had to bend the rules to remove him from the league, the end result justifies the means.

    Going forward, you’d have to be a supreme villain to be targeted by this many people (your own team, teammates, fans, commissioner, etc.), and with the shift in culture, more stringent testing, and the lynch mob that resulted in 13 players being suspended this past season for their connection to Bosch Labs, I don’t envision someone becoming this hated during Selig’s watch. To your point, I could see another scandal in the future creating a situation where due process is not followed, but it certainly won’t happen during the current administration’s watch, and hopefully baseball can grow in its policies to have a better process for dealing with its villains to the game.

    After all, when has one person been this vilified by almost everyone in baseball? Not even Marge Schott, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, etc. have been this universally forsaken. This is a special situation.

  33. Rob,
    When you said “baseball is better off not having its most active, egregious offender out of baseball” did you mean to include that “not” or perhaps the “out” was supposed to be “in”? The rest of your comment seems to be arguing against what you have in that sentence so I’m hoping that was a typo.

  34. Rob,

    Your comment seems to suggest that the means justify the ends. That’s a pretty dangerous philosophy IMO. How far do you carry this? Have someone kneecap A-Rod so he can’t play anymore? I am sure you don’t mean that, but your rationale that this probably won’t happen again is sort of weak. Once you create a precedent for the ends justifying the means, it becomes easier and easier to do something where, perhaps, the desirability of the ends isn’t so obvious.

    Do I think Bud Selig is some evil bastard who wants nothing but power as a lot here seem to think? No, but once you start justifying inappropriate conduct, then you are on the same path that players using PEDs took.

    Plus, who says A-Rod is the “supreme villain?” Just because a lot of people don’t like him doesn’t mean you can just ignore whatever due process rights he has.

  35. Marc,

    Great points made. When Pete Rose bet on baseball, there was clear precedent. Ban on baseball, and you’re gone.

    With A-Rod, it is unprecedented for a player of his profile to admit to cheating, cheat again, lie to everyone about it, threaten the witnesses, and drag MLB, the MLBPA, and really the integrity of the game through the mud. There was no standard policy for addressing his actions, so they made them up. Sadly, this happens a lot, and while the ends don’t justify the means, something had to be done with A-Rod. Add up all of his offenses, and a season suspension, in my opinion, is reasonable.

    It will end up being a lifetime ban because teams won’t sign this lightning rod, and he’s a lightning rod by his own choice. 12 players were suspended in the same situation, and instead of fighting it like A-Rod has, they took their punishment and the major league talents will be on active rosters in 2014. A-Rod felt like he’s above the law and he’s suffering the consequences.

  36. 12 players were suspended in the same situation, and instead of fighting it like A-Rod has, they took their punishment and the major league talents will be on active rosters in 2014. A-Rod felt like he’s above the law and he’s suffering the consequences.

    Fair to point out that A-Rod has:
    -a lot more at stake financially than any of the other players similarly suspended, even Ryan Braun
    -ample resources to fight back

    I’m with you on “Something had to be done / Baseball is better off without him.” But you seem to be reading hubris into his decision to go down fighting, which, I think, taints your argument. It’s not hard to imagine other players doing the same thing, if they’d been the ones in A-Rod’s shoes.

    I feel better now that MLBPA is saying they won’t accept the voiding of contracts as punishment for PED violations in the next CBA.

  37. A-Rod obtained his contract fraudulently. By using PEDs, I’m almost certain A-Rod went from being in the 99% of baseball players to the 99.99999%. He leveraged that into the biggest contract ever for an athlete. The Yankees bought him to break the HR record, but PEDs all but guaranteed he would be worthless come age-39 (which he has), leaving no shot at breaking the record. A-Rod stole money, plain and simple, and he owes more than he’s owed.

  38. A-Rod stole money, plain and simple, and he owes more than he’s owed.

    Wahhhhh, poor Yankees owners, being tricked by that bad man!

    Please. Convince me that the Yankees weren’t in on the take. Let’s not pretend that all teams really don’t know what they’re paying for — and what players are really doing to themselves.

    By now, I feel like I’m pretty familiar with the facts. I still don’t get why people so desperately want to make this such a black-and-white case of A-Rod being HISTORY’S GREATEST MONSTER.

  39. I think that W.C.G. would argue that it’s because ownership has been successful in getting fans to ignore the role that ownership and management have had in promulgating drugs within the game.

    Alex Rodriguez undoubtedly took performance enhancing drugs. They made him rich and they undoubtedly helped his team. Even his drug bust helped his team. His teams have gotten very, very rich off of Alex Rodriguez, drug use and all.

  40. Unlike Pud, Pretzles was always clean, although later in his life as a bartender he was implicated in “the beer that made Mel Famey walk us” incident.

  41. Point of fact: Even though the Yanks were in 1st place for the first couple months of the 2013 season, the club’s TV ratings & game attendance were underperforming until both Jeter & A-Rod returned to the team. Star power.

  42. @60 – and here I was just focused on A-Rod’s time machine per @58 that will age him four years in 2014. He has chronologic enhancing drugs now too! THIS MONSTER MUST BE STOPPED.

    In all seriousness, that is in fact what I would argue. The Yankees put noted steroid injector Brian McNamee on their payroll after they traded for Roger Clemens. They welcomed back both Clemens and Andy Pettite, who had already confessed to being injected by McNamee, in 2007. After that season, A-Rod signed his extension. There are honestly people here who don’t think the Yankees knew or should have known what A-Rod’s plan for being a 35-home-run-hitting 40-year-old were? Oh my heavens, I may have the vapors!

    The idea that the franchise reaps a $25MM + luxury tax consequences windfall from this situation is ridiculous. At the very least, A-Rod’s 2014 salary should go directly to charity and it should still count against NYY’s tax number. The Yankees should see no benefit from this. When everyone involved is acting as a “fraud,” no one should benefit. But it’s a zero sum game as it is, so MLB gets rich off PEDs coming and going. Nice racket if you can get it.

  43. The all-time hit leader is excluded from the Hall of Fame because he broke the one rule that is posted in every single baseball clubhouse as being something that will get you banned if you break it…

    Meanwhile, be sure to get your Braves tickets in the Golden Moon Casino level!

  44. @64 Dan

    MLB is a business. If they believe a player’s gambling interests interferes with the conduct of that business, he’s toast.

    It’s the legacy of the Black Sox. Pete Rose knew this, without question, and truly thought the rules didn’t apply to him.

    The game is not pure, as Sam said above. Bowie Kuhn banned Mickey and Willie for life for taking jobs with casinos long after they had retired. F*cking Willie and Mickey! Peter Ueberroth reinstated them as his first move as new commissioner.

    Don’t rub it in their faces, ARod. Get what satisfaction you can and get back on the field. Make them pay there.

  45. There is a difference between being banned from participation in baseball and being banned from the Hall of Fame. I think Rose was appropriately banned from being in baseball because gambling on games that he was managing-even if he was betting on the Reds-calls into question the basic foundation of any sport. But he didn’t gamble as a player-or at least he wasn’t caught-and I think he should be in the Hall. There are guys in the Hall-Tris Speaker for one, I believe-who were actually accused of throwing games.

  46. @67: Well, certainly, but surely /accusation/ isn’t enough? I don’t know enough about this; is it true that Tris Speaker likely threw games?

  47. Wikipedia, with substantial footnoting, says this:

    AL President Ban Johnson asked Speaker and Detroit manager Cobb to resign their posts after a scandal broke in 1926. Pitcher Dutch Leonard claimed that Speaker and Cobb fixed at least one game between Cleveland and Detroit. In a newspaper column published shortly before the hearings were to begin, Billy Evans characterized the accusations as “purely a matter of personal revenge” for Leonard. The pitcher was said to be upset with Cobb and Speaker after a trade ended with Leonard in the minor leagues.[40] When Leonard refused to appear at the January 5, 1927 hearings to discuss his accusations, Commissioner Landis cleared both Speaker and Cobb of any wrongdoing. Both were reinstated to their original teams, but each team declared its manager free to sign elsewhere. Speaker did not return to big league managing and he finished his MLB managerial career with a 617–520 record.

    That sounds like it was an accusation that was badly founded. So I don’t care.

  48. Still think there is a substantial risk that the Braves are forced to salary dump Kimbrel for no return this year. Next year, looks like a virtual certainty.

  49. @70 While Kimbrel is going to get relatively expensive soon, I highly doubt that the Braves would ever have to trade him for “no return” at any point during his team control.

    He’s an Arb1 this coming season, so the Braves have 3 years of team control left. The best arbitration value projection I’ve seen so far puts Kimbrel’s ’14 cost at $7.25M. Going from the usual rule of thumb that players receive 40%/60%/80% of FA value in their Arb years, that would put Kimbrel’s arbitration payouts at $7.25M/$11M/$14.5M. The Braves can afford that (even though they might rather go with a cheaper option). Keep in mind that Kimbrel is going to be substantially underpaid at least until his Arb3 year (and even then, if he’s still super dominant he’ll have trade value).

  50. I know Braves are 99% out of Tanaka now, but think on this. (it also has application to Heyward, Freeman, etc.)

    Everybody has a question mark on Tanaka. Is he a little “worn”? Will he translate as a 2, 3, or 4? How many years is too many?

    Consensus was building around 100 mill over 6. IF he is a 2, that is chump change. If he is a 1, that is a steal. it is probably going to go over that.

    What about an offer like this. 12 mill per year for 12 years. Then 1 per year for 20 years. Guaranteed lifetime no problems for the player, EXCEPT leaving money on the table. So, a one time opt out after the 4th year. If he is a 3 or over and if salaries do like it looks, he takes the opt. The only problem was the back end risk.

    As to say, Heyward, guarantee him this year, his last arb year, and 4 more. Let him opt out after 2 FA years. Leaves him a very young entering FA and didn’t leave a lot on the table.

  51. Smitty @ 72,

    Although the laws of physics would seem to suggest this, look at Rivera, Mariano. IF he has a major breakdown that is unrecoverable, it is much more likely to happen later, rather than in the next 3 years.

  52. The Braves can’t pay their closer $15 mil per season when they have a $90 mil budget. Maybe they technically can, but shouldn’t. People need to understand that the Braves need to start maximizing their returns on certain players. Especially the ones that we can’t afford long term. The new FA market keeps us from extending players and it will keep us from being a player on the FA market.

    These guys are chasing millions and no one has started signing hometown discounts to play for Fredi G. He’s not Bobbby Cox and the Braes are falling further behind with all of these new tv revenue deals.

  53. A Heyward deal that would work for both parties would be 4/45-50 million with player options the next 5th-7th years.

  54. Kimbrel is more likely to become Jonathan Papelbon than Mariano Rivera. Even if he becomes the later, he won’t be a Brave for the majority of his career.

  55. Rivera is not comparable to anyone. He is especially not comparable to a tiny little leprechaun of a guy who throws 140 MPH with his little elvish arms. Kimbrel may not break. I wouldn’t bet on it. Regardless, after this year his annual salary will be greater than his actual value. Trade him at that point. It’s basic math. You don’t go into the mid-teens per year for a 60 inning pitcher.

  56. @78

    Maybe. But Heyward is taking a gamble that he will put up huge numbers soon (and I think he can.) So why not go for it? Even if he just gets a little better, someone is going to give him a ton of money.

  57. @69,

    Good point and I should have been more careful there. But I think it’s likely that there were games being fixed in those days given how little the players were paid (which was the issue with the Black Sox). I’m not a Rose fan, but I have no problem having his plaque in a museum for what he did as a player.

  58. I’m fine with these arb figures so far. We have good value with most of them. Freeman, Heyward, and Kimbrel are my concerns. Either way, it will get done

  59. @80

    “Kimbrel may not break. I wouldn’t bet on it.”

    Me neither. But I wonder if there are any pitchers you would bet on to stay healthy?

    What factors go into that calculation?

    The one thing Kimbrel has so far is a clean injury history. But he does throw awfully hard.

    Kershaw has been pretty darn healthy. Would you bet on him?

  60. DOB seems to be hinting that we may be headed for Arb hearings with Kimbrel, Heyward, Freeman and Minor.

  61. Circling back to the ‘extra-judicial’ quality of A-Rod’s suspension, I think the analogy to the Black Sox scandal is closer to the mark than might be immediately apparent. Gambling and allegations of thrown games pre-dated the 1919 W.S. with Hal Chase being another suspect during his career.
    What changed was owners decided ‘enough was enough’ and surrendered significant authority to the newly appointed Commissioner of Baseball: Kennesaw Landis. The job didn’t exist until Landis took it. (Previously the league presidents held the executive power — think Ban Johnson, first president of the American League. Landis is the one who set the precedent of suspending players for life that admitted gambling on games – something Speaker and Cobb were smart enough to deny doing.
    While the players union complicates matters, I think the ‘owners’ have had enough and will do whatever it takes to make a point. A-Rod has made himself into a very unsympathetic person — extraordinarily well paid, plays for the damn Yankees, has admitted using PEDs before, declining performance the past 2-3 years, injured and with a petulant personality. Hence, a lengthy suspension that on the face violates the protocol laid out in the bargaining agreement, but A-Rod allegedly did more in the PED arena than just take them and since the bargaining agreement doesn’t address the specifics in Selig acted as he did.
    In normal union-management relations, the union would file a grievance if it disagreed with the disciplinary action, an arbitrator would determine how to apply the contract to the facts and a precedent now exists unless a different outcome is negotiated in the next contract. Somehow I’m not sure the Players Union will come out swinging in defense of A-Rod.

  62. 93-I respectfully disagree but even if Price is better, it’s a lot closer than you think. I posted this back in October:

    Price is 21st since 2008 in FIP at 3.40, Medlen in 17th at 3.37. Also trails, Lance Lynn, Jamie Garcia, Anibal Sanchez, Mat Latos and Josh Johnson (who is 8th).

    I went start by start for Price vs. Medlen for their entire careers. Price’s opponents average 4.62 runs a game and Medlen’s average 4.12. Career ERA in starts Price 3.20/Medlen 2.96. Price’s ERA is 69.2% of his opponents avg runs per game (I know that’s imperfect as it doesn’t account for unearned runs) Medlen’s ERA is 71.8% so Price shows up slightly better when accounting for all of that, however we haven’t mentioned park factors. Turner Field’s park factor for runs is 0.9885 from 2010-2013, while the Trop is 0.8555 so runs are about 13% harder to come by at the Trop. Not really sure how to translate that but it seems to me to make them virtually equal.

  63. @93

    Not so fast. “Kris Medlen is not as good as David Price” is not as clear-cut a statement as you think. Quite the country. (“Country” was a typo for “contrary” but I think I really like it.)

    Last season Medlen came down to Earth, as we all (for the most part) predicted.

    Of course, Medlen’s “Earth” was 197 innings of 124 ERA+ baseball, which is not only very good, but better than both Price’s season last year (114 ERA+ over 186 innings) and Price’s career average (122 ERA+).

    Medlen’s career ERA+ is now at 134 over 512 innings, 380 of them as a starter and 132 of them in relief. That’s fabulous. You might say that’s unfairly buoyed by his impossible performance in 2012, when his ERA+ was 256 over 138 innings. Well, it’s true that performance was essentially impossible–but it’s historically good:

    Since 1990, the only pitchers who pitched better (even with a low minimum of 90 innings) than Medlen in 2012 were Greg Maddux (1994, 1995) and Pedro Martinez (2000)–which means that while Medlen is unlikely to repeat the performance, I like the company he’s keeping.

    Medlen hasn’t pitched enough innings that I would be comfortable saying he definitely has ace potential going forward.

    And the Price v. Medlen argument is no way definitive, but based on what I just looked up I’m more comfortable saying Medlen is better than Price than Price is better than Medlen.

    Caveat: Price has a longer track record of being a durable starter.

  64. Look, Dusty! You and I think the same way! (I was in the middle of my post while you put yours up.)

  65. 92: You can’t even reliably speculate about that until you see the figures the two sides exchanged. If they overreached, they’ll lose, and if the Braves overreached, they’ll win.

  66. @mlbbowman: Wren: ““At the end of the day, we went well above the recommended salary arbitration numbers for all of our players.” #Braves

  67. I think the braves will win all three cases. They are not cheap at all in their offering. Kimbrel’s camp is way too aggressive. This will probably will the final year he will be with us, but his value maybe higher now than the next offseason.

  68. @mlbbowman: The #Braves have offered Kimbrel $6.55M and he has requested $9M. Midpoint of $7.75M.

    @mlbbowman: The #Braves are offering Freeman $4.5M and he has requested $5.75M. Heyward is being offered $5.2M and requesting $5.5M.

    I think the Braves win all three.

  69. I’m late to the party regarding the HOF and A-Rod discussions, but I disagree with many of the folks who have posted about those two topics. I think that androgenous steroids are known to alter the fundamental physiology of humans – particularly regarding physical activities – and thus alter the parameters of any game or sport in which physical prowess plays a part. Think of the difference between men and women playing sports; testes and the androgens they produce play a huge part in that difference. What’s more, when taken in excess of physiological norms, they have known long-term side effects for the user. Thus, if you are permissive toward the use of such substances, you are allowing an environment where many players will have to use in order to stay competitive while at the same time taking on substantial risk to their long-term health. For a time, baseball had that permissive environment – to its detriment. It has come to its senses in this regard, and changing that environment has required not only testing and communication but also punishment. For folks like Bonds and Clemens, they are paying a price since they were leaders in the sport and *almost certainly* used. Their punishment involves the HOF, which in a way is losing the court of public opinion and in my mind a reasonable verdict. For A-Rod, he’s a known user who *probably* has been on something his entire career and has also managed to piss off every boss and administrator he’s ever had. I’m not going to shed tears for him either. Remember, most of these guys haven’t even been to a court of law. They are employees in a business that saw a danger to its basic product and longevity. That business is allowed to take measures against them.

  70. I like how we can excuse the amoral profit-maximizing behavior of organizations by saying “it’s a business, they’re allowed to _____” but vilify individual players who utilize the same logic. What we really need are a few good scapegoats, then everything will be OK!

  71. It’s not exactly amoral if in a way they are protecting the players’ long-term interests by stamping out steroid use. This is a situation in which business priorities and ethics agree, in my opinion. I don’t want my kid playing baseball if the cost of admission eventually is anabolic steroids, and I’m glad MLB seems to see that.

  72. For a time, baseball had that permissive environment…It has come to its senses in this regard

    That may be how you want it to be, but the fact of the matter is: a third party caught MLB with its pants down, plain and simple.

    I hate to break it to you, but MLB doesn’t care about your kid, insofar as your kid isn’t yet a season ticket-holder. They’d just as soon keep their players on PEDs — or whatever generates revenue for owners — as long as another Miami New-Times reporter doesn’t come along and catch them in the act.

    I love the way you phrased that, by the way. “Permissive environment.” It wasn’t that the owners were complicit or responsible for PED culture, it was just, you know, an ambiance! A certain je ne sais quoi!

    For A-Rod…known user…on something…piss off…not going to shed tears


    Look, we get it. You’re like the twelve billionth person to post the same litany of things we all know and dislike, and you’re also the twelve billionth person to try the “business is allowed to take measures,” as though players — and fans — are supposed to accept whatever “take measures” is supposed to mean.

    Nobody has been able to establish why this particular punishment, with the particular precedent it sets, is warranted. When owners and management get penalized for players’ PED use, we can talk. That’s an actual incentive structure that doesn’t reek of craven profit maximization.

  73. @96 – I know ERA+ relates the pitcher’s performance relative to the league average, but does it account for the differences between the leagues?

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