Buster Olney notes that this offseason, there’s a ton of pitching available â€”Â Scherzer, Lester, Shields, Liriano, Hamels, Santana, Volquez, and Samardzija are just the top names he lists. There’s a ton of pitching available and barely any hitting. So he suggests that teams may want to take advantage of the weak hitting market and trade some bats.
With options for upgrades in the free-agent market few and far between, some executives believe that teams could take advantage of that by dangling some veterans for trade, including:
Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: The 25-year-old Gold Glove winner will be a free agent after next season, and if Atlanta president John Hart determines that the team will not be able to re-sign him to a long-term deal, the best play for the team could be to trade him now, to recoup as much value as possible. And within the context of the current position player market, Heyward would look like a gem.
Yes, he has been erratic offensively, but he has power, he takes walks, and he is regarded as a shutdown defender at a time when the industry places a high priority in that.
Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves: Like Heyward, the 27-year-old Upton will be eligible for free agency after next season. Coming off a summer in which he had 29 homers among 65 extra-base hits, heâ€™s worth a lot more in trade now than the draft pick the Braves would get if he walked away as a free agent next fall. If the Braves donâ€™t think they can afford to sign him to a long-term deal, then trading him this winter — in the thin market for power hitting — could be the smart move.
I have little confidence in our front office as currently constructed to win/break even in a high value player trade. They’ll either ask for too much and get rebuffed, or pick the wrong guy and get burned.
On top of that, Heyward is already the right guy at the right price, at least as far as 2015 is concerned.
The Braves have 4 real hitters. One of them (Freeman) is a guy they won’t consider trading for the next 4-5 years, no matter what. Olney’s right that in a weak hitting market, the right team could be tempted to provide a great return for one of our other three. But Heyward’s the guy you move only if you are sure you’re not trying to compete next season. And if that’s the case, he’s not the only one on the move.
(The official Edward-pinion is still that the Braves will be able to plug up the holes in the line-up and put a pretty darn good team out on the diamond next year. We’ll see if the Fuzz actually comes through–I might change my tune come spring training.)
Broadly correct. In both cases, the conditional is everything–if you can resign either guy to a not-crazy deal, you do it. But the Braves are going to suck in 2015, so if Heyward and Justin are 2015-only assets, they need to be playing for another team on Opening Day.
@2, I would trade Freeman in a heartbeat…nobody on this team is untouchable. We can win 70 games without them.
Right…but we can win 95 games with them, minus some crap and plus some decent production.
This is the sort of question that would make a good poll topic.
@5, agreed. As much as I hate our lineup, we’re a couple of good breaks away from another playoff berth. And by that I mean something like La Stella is a 3 WAR second baseman and Chris Johnson isn’t the worst third basemen (edit: worst player) in baseball. Maybe Andrelton isn’t horrible with the bat and not all of our pitchers get injured. Then we’re a 90 win team.
I have no problem with trading Justin and Heyward if the return is right. I actually have quite a bit of confidence in our front office now. Our first priority should be to ink Heyward to a long term deal but if he doesn’t take it, I don’t mind him leaving. I would hate for either to glide along next year only for us to lose them at the end of the year for nothing.
@5, great point. Poll is up.
Odds are highly against a tear-down because the guys running the show have been in the org and presumably had input in the way the current team is constructed. If you wanted a rebuild then you needed us to hire a GM from the outside.
I’m not sure we shouldn’t rebuild. But it’s unlikely to happen even if it’s needed.
I would point out that we finished next-to-last in runs scored last season, which doesn’t really jibe with the idea that we have surplus hitting to trade. A .500ish ballclub talking about trading hitters in their prime and hoping to get back pitchers in their prime is more than likely just swapping out roster holes. I believe we’re too organizationally talent-thin to do anything much other than 1) hope for better health and production largely from our existing roster, or 2) blow it up and restock.
A couple of thoughts here. First, last year’s results aren’t the be-all, end-all of the question. If they have options to fill offensive holes internally (not saying they do, but if they did) then the smart move may very well be trading one of last year’s hitters (I voted for Justin, not Jason) to convert one-year production into multi-year value.
Second, it’s a bit misleading to say “our holes are on offense.” We have a lot of holes on offense, of course. That is undoubtedly true. But we also have gaping holes in the rotation as well. Santana and Harang are gone, which mean we’re back to the status quo ante of Julio, Alex, Mike, David Hale and the duct tape holding Kris Medlen’s arm together.
Jupton and La Stella for Brett Gardner.
Santana and Harang are gone
I’ll have to wait for that happen first – I can see a scenario or two where one or both stay.
Also, Olney isn’t necessarily saying that we should trade hitting for pitching. He’s just saying that the trade value of pitching is relatively low and the trade value of hitting is relatively high. So he’s advocating selling high â€”Â or, as Branch Rickey used to say, “Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late.”
Santana says he might accept the QO.
“First, last yearâ€™s results arenâ€™t the be-all, end-all of the question.” –Sam Hutcheson, circa a little while ago
Good springboard for a little research I’ve been doing this afternoon.
The Braves finished with 79 wins this season, four games under .500 and well out of the playoffs by the time all was said and done. It was a disappointment by any measure. BUT DON’T GIVE UP HOPE!
It takes ~90 wins to make it into the playoffs in this day and age, right? Well, since 2000 there have been 24 teams to post 90+ win seasons immediately following a sub-.500 season. That’s like 1.5 teams per year!
(Previous season’s win total in parentheses)
2000- White Sox (75), Cardinals (75), Mariners (79)
2001- Astros (72)
2002- Nobody (and not the Odysseus sort of Nobody either, just the regular kind)
2003- World Champion Florida Marlins (79)
2004- Angels (77)
2005- Indians (80)
2006- Tigers (71)
2007- Indians (78), Diamondbacks (76), Rockies (76)
2008- [Devil] Rays (66)(!)
2009- Rockies (74)
2010- Padres (75), Reds (78)
2011- Diamondbacks (65)!, Brewers (77)
2012- Orioles (69), Athletics (74), Reds (80)
2013- Indians (68), Pirates (79), World Champion Boston Red Sox (69)
2014- Angels (78)
Of course, those 2013 Red Sox were smart enough to ditch their manager…
Step 1: Trade Justin Upton for a good return of young, near ready talent (hitting, pitching, whatever.)
Step 2: Invest Justin Upton’s contract commitment into four years of Yasmany Tomas.
Step 3: Fill out the rotation; resign Boneface or someone to hover over the gaping maw of CF (or, even better, get a RF/CF prospect in the Justin deal
16: Sure, fine, but how many of those teams went out and got better players after their down year? The Braves have no viable means of acquiring better players. They have little cash and a terrible farm system. Thus, they will continue to be bad next year. Thus, they should trade Justin and Heyward, who are only around for next year.
“The Braves have no viable means of acquiring better players.”
Sure they do. They’ve got 2 outfielders and a reliever who’re going to combine for $39 million dollars in salary next year, and two of those three are good-looking assets. The other is some sort of write-off/trade-off but whatever we’ve gone into that before. They’ve got a power-hitting catcher/dh-type who’s pre-arb. They’ve got a little speed demon in the minor leagues, and a few other intriguing pieces. Teams who want to trade with us aren’t looking for 15 great prospects or 6 mlb-ready players, they’re looking for one or two.
And we don’t have “little cash,” we have a little cash, which could become a lot more depending on the three guys pulling those big salaries. This is a bad roster to win a division with, but it’s a good roster to rebuild with.
The pitching is my concern. I don’t expect Santana to accept the QO … but maybe we’ll get lucky there. I know we’ve been doing it with smoke and mirrors for most every year McDowell has been here, but at some point our luck is going to run out with the scrap-heap projects.
Even if we have the exact same lineup next year, there’s a lot of room for improvement just by guys having better years (rather than everyone dipping below career norms at the same time).
With the pitching I’m worried that we’ve been doing about as good as we can do, and it’s all downhill from here.
I’m worried, too. I’m confident we’re going to put a much better line-up together. My hope for the rotation is just unfounded faith in the new-look front office getting their rumpelstiltskin on.
If Santana accepts the QO, the Braves will have no choice but to trade Justin Upton, and Iâ€™m perfectly fine with that. I still like the Orioles as their shopping ground. The Uptons for Ubaldo and Bundy! Get it done, HartFuzz! A Teheran, Wood, Minor, Santana, and Ubaldo rotation would be just fine with Bundy sharpening his game at AAA. The Braves could use the money saved from BJâ€™s contract to get a left-fielder and center-fielder. Subtracting the 15 and using MLBTR arb-estimates, that would put the payroll at 95 million, giving the Braves 15-24 million to fill the holes. That would be just fine.
Santana would be dumb to reject the QO. He got stung for rejecting it in the 2013 offseason, and there is a ton more pitching out there on the market this year than there was last year.
While I agree he may actually take the QO, I think a lot of what hurt Santana last offseason was that his agents were trying to get him 6/$100 which priced everyone out and no one was left with any money/need when the asking price came down. Would think he could get 3/40 or 4/50 this year, so it’s not clear cut which would be better, the higher 1-year salary or the guarantee over 3-4 years at a slighty lower rate.
19: To turn a 2015-only asset plus a large liability into better 2015 assets, you have to be counting on Hart to fleece some other GM. I’ll be happy if he does that, but if your offseason plan to get back to contention is “win a trade bigtime,” you are in bad shape.
I will wait and trust. If magic is not worked, then I will moan and groan. The new old guys are still on their honeymoon.
Heyman seems to believe that Santana will decline and test the market.
Pirates made a QO to Liriano. I’m sure he’ll accept.
I actually would like to have Santana back.
Me too, Smitty, preferably for 3/$36 plus a fourth year option.
Pie in the sky, probably.
Nah, no fleecing. Somebody needs an everyday left fielder with huge hitting potential. Somebody needs a proven closer. The Braves don’t need a star, they need to turn three-ish positions (3b, cf, 2b, the bench) from negative production to below-average production. You turn the 2015-only asset into an affordable platoon player and a prospect, you turn the money you’ve saved into a starter at one of the other positions (Tomas? Headley? Rasmus?). You kick out the liability for whatever you can get or for nothing at all and thank him for his service. You turn the pricey reliever into a younger innings eater and use the savings on the bench. Then you figure out which one of the guys in the organization is ready to step up to the bigs in a part-time role. Now I don’t know how to execute any of this; that’s the part we need Hart for. But that’s the plan if we’re going to compete in 2015, which I think is pretty clear.
I’d be very interested in Liriano, inconsistent as he’s been.
You don’t have to “win a trade” or “fleece another GM.” I’ve outlined the basics above, but for repetition’s sake:
1. Extend Jason Heyward. (I believe in Jason Heyward.)
2. Sign Yasmany Tomas to a four year, 12-15m per deal.
3. Trade Justin Upton for a high level OF or 3B prospect (AAA or ML ready would be best, but AA would work.)
4. Resign Ervin Santana.
5. Take a look at Brett Anderson or Edison Volquez if the price is right. (The Heyward extension + Tomas makes this a bargain shopping basket.)
6. Let Kevin Seitzer work with Andrelton, Chris Johnson and Christian Bethancourt
At that point you have:
C – Gattis (Bethancourt)
1B – Freeman (Johnson)
2B – LaStella/Peraza
SS – Andrelton
3B – Johnson (Gosselin)
LF – Tomas (Gattis)
CF – BJ (Heyward)
RF – Heyward (Tomas)
SP1 – Julio
SP2 – Alex
SP3 – Mike
SP4 – Ervin
SP5 – Medlen/Hale/Anderson/Volquez/bargain bin
Plus, from the Justin deal, you have depth at one of your weak positions (OF, 3B) in the minors, while having “extended” a sort of Justin clone (four years younger) by signing Tomas. And you still come in somewhere along the “north of 100m, south of 120m” band that Hart has stated is the team’s payroll this year.
Michael Cuddyer got a QO. What has the world come to? He was worth 1.5 WAR last year and played less than 50 games. With Cory Dickerson, CarGo, Charlie Blackmon, and Drew Stubbs already in the mix, the Rockies might be an interesting shopping ground. I can’t say I see a match though.
For me, I need to see some more pieces fall into place before I even have a clue what the Braves will do. Trades are often depend on free agent signings, and vice versa. It’s easy to understand what the Braves’ options are after other teams make moves. Obviously, teams could be doing the same thing based on what the Braves’ (and other teams do).
We just need our players to play better. We can shift a buncha guys around, but we just had a season where 921 players had down years. Why would you blow up the team knowing that’s such a rare occurrence. They probably know why the team sucked too (like Wren or Walker or Fletcher or the ghost of Tim Hudson).
Peanuts new article.
Braves could move both Justin and Heyward this offseason to focus on 2016 and beyond. Don’t expect BJ to get moved and expect him In a braves uni next year. The Braves want Santana to reject the QO offer so they can focus on getting Harang back for less money. No mention of Gattis or Bethancourt.
Link? All I see is an ‘Bowman answers his mail’ bit where he’s spitballing like the rest of us. I don’t see any actual reportage in that link.
It was just a recap of his speculation. Just trying to save everyone time and keep you all from having to read it.
I’m not a fan of Santana. He did fair for us, but there are much cheaper options that can do just as well or better – see Aaron Harang. I hope Santana goes somewhere else. There are better ways to spend $15 million (and admittedly much worse).
Ghost of Huddy! Throwing sinkerballs and taking names! Suck it 2014 Braves!
@39, There is a non-trivial (to say the least) opportunity cost to get a pitcher of Santana’s quality on a one year deal without giving up players or incurring the risk of a long term deal. If he takes the QO, you say “thanks” and move on. Teams don’t offer them against self-interest.
Why would teams trade players for Upton and his salary when they could just sign Tomas and his salary without giving up any players, Sam? Seems like you’re living in a decision-making universe where all GMs want the Atlanta Braves to win.
Apropos of nothing, I just noticed that the Braves made the second-fewest outs on the bases all year, and ran into the fewest number of outs at home, in the entire National League. Apparently Dascenzo wasn’t nearly as terrible as we thought.
Now, it could be the case that he wasn’t aggressive enough, but he wasn’t clearly a disaster.
Teams won’t trade players for BJ Upton unless they are sending us back someone with an equally bad contract (see ubaldo and Edwin Jackson). The other option would be for us to include someone like Gattis along with BJ and that may change what teams are willing to do/consider.
Ha, we have to get runners to 3rd for him to be terrible.
Sports Illustrated top-50 free agents is a good look at who’s available, even if their “best fit” entry for each one is often thoughtless or depressing:
Outside of the totally unrealistic in every way (Jon Lester; gosh I’d love to see Jon Lester pitch for the Braves) the names I’m interested in are: Tomas, Santana (duh), Headley, Rasmus (1-yr deal only), Torii Hunter, Brett Anderson, Luke Gregerson, Luke Hochevar, and Geovany Soto (if we move the Gat-man)
I think he was talking about the other Upton.
You sign Tomas first.
So, uh, are we sure that Rasmus isn’t B.J. 2.0?
I’d be willing to spin the wheels on Jed Lowrie at third. He can hit, and he’s so frequently injured that he probably won’t cost an arm and a leg.
— insert joke about Lowrie needing an extra arm and leg —
@33 and @42– A better question is why would any team trade one of the best hitting left fielders in baseball only to turn around and commit the same dollars over more years to a guy that probably can’t hit in the major leagues at all.
Signing Tomas is (arguably) a smart move for a team like the Dodger, Yankees, Red Sox or Cubs. These are teams that can happily walk into a casino and put 60 million on black. For teams like the Braves it’s just a good way to end up sleeping in a fucking ditch.
Mark Reynolds? Might be ready for the Hinske phase of his career. It would be nice to have at least one power bat on the bench.
Nope. We are not sure about that at all. But I’m sure he can be had for far less money, and perhaps only for a year.
@49 – I could be wrong, but I don’t think there is a center fielder in baseball that can be BJ 2.0 for an entire season. I never thought I would be happy with a .230/.300/.340 line from center, but it would be an improvement over BJ.
@Ryan C. about Cuddyer. The FA market is so thin on hitting that it makes sense. If someone signs Cuddyer they get a first rounder. If Cuddyer takes the offer he is only on the books for a year, remember its not the dollars but the years and he is two years remove from hitting .331 for a season.
No on Rasmus. He sucks.
Is Tomas MLB ready? Or is he project? The Braves need a MLB ready OFer or two if they trade JUpton or Heyward.
I’d think that JUpton brings more back since hitting is the rare commodity on the market this year. But his one year contract status and the fact that he is a very good but not great hitter would limit the return.
I guess you have to wish cast with the understanding that the budget isn’t going up. So we try to fix BJ rather than cut him.
Some teams may prefer a one year deal. Oakland seems to prefer the short term commitments.
Here’s FanGraphs’ scouting report on Tomas. Some notable excerpts:
That “upside projection” of “.275/.350/.480 with 25-30 homers, fringy defense & baserunning value in left field” could be shortened significantly to read “Justin Upton.” Justin’s numbers over his two years in Atlanta? .267/.348/.478. With fringy defense & baserunning value in LF.
The down side is that he’s a younger player and he might not translate to his “upside” perfectly. Some folks see him as more of a .240-250 hitter with big power and high K rates. Which, again… Justin Upton. The upside is that he’s 24 and you get him locked in for a while, where you’re going to lose Justin to free agency next year if you don’t trade him this year. (I see little reason to think Justin Upton will resign in Atlanta.)
That downside is sounding awfully Fat Juan-ish to me.
@57, agree with your thought process 100%. Sadly the odds of the Braves winning a bidding war for a Cuban defector are about the same as a those of a UGA defensive back shedding a block and making a tackle.
Sam, why wouldn’t people just sign Tomas then?
I’d like Reynolds if it weren’t for all those strikeouts. The Braves have enough of those already.
Someone will sign Tomas. The Braves are not currently listed as primary bidders in that process (they were in the Jorge Soler process until the last minute, but the Cubs out bid them.) I think they should be far more engaged there. I think they’re gun shy on signing free agents because of the Uggla and BJ clusterfucks, which means they won’t play hardball to get a talent they could desperately use Tomas. I would chase Tomas down, sign him, and then figure out what to do with Justin, Jason and BJ when I held all four cards.
Rob Cope, see @56.
For instance, I could see the Rays being much more interested in taking a chance on a hitter for one year if the rest of the team is ripe enough (I think they are) without wanting to commit any farther than that–or the Royals or Indians for that matter. Teams who aren’t sure if they’re competitive; teams who want to make a run at 2015 but don’t know how far the run goes before they need to back off.
But maybe we won’t land Tomas. Maybe somebody else needs him and is willing to pay him more. But that’s a mental trap–the sort of thing you can’t afford when you’re at the helm. It’s hardly of any consequence if we pursue Tomas and don’t land him; it’s of great consequence if we don’t pursue him and preclude the possibility of landing him.
@62 I also think that’s the way to go about it, provided we’re as convinced as we can be about Tomas’s talent.
Not that it’s surprising but DOB just said the Braves will not be eating BJ’s contract.
Gattis + Minor + BJ Upton for Cargo. Who hangs up first?
Rich teams can afford to gamble on upside, but the most likely outcome for Tomas is that he is not even ready to be an average MLB left fielder. Take, e.g., BaseballAmerica:
“Given his present talent level, Tomas might have a chance to go straight into a major league lineup, but a more likely scenario would have him starting in the upper minors, with Triple-A seeming like a good fit.”
And from the same report:
“Tomas did show some swing-and-miss tendencies at the WBC with an uppercut stroke and trouble handling good breaking pitches. Three months after the WBC, when Cuba took a team to the U.S. last summer to face the college national team, the U.S. power arms were able to exploit some of those holes by beating him with good velocity up and in and getting him to swing through soft stuff in and out of the zone.
This past season in Cuba, which ended with Industriales losing in the semifinals in April, Tomas seemed to regress, even losing playing time in the second half, which one source said was the result of an arm injury he sustained crashing into an outfield wall in February. He finished the season at .290/.346/.450 with six home runs, 21 walks and 46 strikeouts in 257 plate appearances.”
You can gamble on trading JUpton for a AAA Fat Juan if you’d like, but I’ll take the known quantity every time.
Things were better when we had FatJuan. A simpler time. But FatYasmany doesn’t work at all. Only sure thing here is that Fredi would call him “Yasy”.
@64 – Where did you see that? It sure is disappointing news.
@DOBrienAJC: They’re not eating the rest of that contract. Period. RT @ryc30078: @DOBrienAJC Just eat the cost and get this guy off the team asap.
@DOBrienAJC: Not tradeable. Not going to eat whole deal to trade him. RT @MarkHankins1: @DOBrienAJC so no chance of trying to trade him?
@DOBrienAJC: #Braves John Hart spent much of a day with B.J. a while back in Fla., played golf, then met for few hours. Both sides say it was productive. Purpose was go see what #Braves and B.J. could do to help him be more productive. Team thinks new hitting coach Seitzer can help with that.
So much for everything I pretend is true.
Vernon Wells was trade able, so was Alex Rios. He’s tradeable I guess if we are adding pieces to it and taking on a different project in return. I do agree that we won’t be eating his contract until at least next offseason.
I bet by February we’ll have all convinced ourselves that BJ is going to be comeback player of the year in 2015.
Known quantities are a lot more expensive than unknowns â€”Â risk is expensive, and you have to pay a lot if you want to reduce risk. If you can’t afford a sure thing, then you have to gamble. And sometimes you’ll lose big, which is what we’ve done each of the last few times we’ve written a big check. But sometimes you’ll win big, like we did when we traded for Javier Vazquez.
Well, B.J. Upton was actually supposed to be a pretty sure thing–not like a sure superstar, but a sure above-average player, and there was plenty of major-league track record to suggest that he would be. Instead… this. There is no such thing as a truly known quantity in baseball.
Someone (after they trade Justin) BJ Heyward your 2015 Braves OF.
Damn, that’s depressing. So if they move Gattis to LF then back to at least 4 guaranteed outs in the lineup. BJ, Simmons, Bethancourt, Pitcher. Add Bad Chris Johnson and ….. well shit we may as well blow it up and start over.
@74 – truth. BJ’s new level of performance is just so perplexing.
My baseball team goes into the shitter, my college football team sucks. I should just stop being a fan.
As much as I hate to say it, keeping BJ on contract and trying to reform him for at least a few months into the season, seems to be the best thing to do. I don’t know of many contracts out there that are worse than BJ’s so why would a team want to trade a bad contract for a historically bad contract?
I want BJ to become a patient slap hitter and stop trying to golf everything. He only hits a HR when the pitcher misses down and in. I predict lots of encouraging stories about his work with Seitzer…and then a bat-wagging golfing approach in 2015. Good luck with that, BJ.
There’s an outside chance, however, that he can be non-horrible. And that is our only chance of getting out of the contract. If he came out hitting .260 for the first half of the season, I’d trade him before he could start sucking again.
@75 – BJ had one of the worst seasons ever for an everyday player in 2013 and ended up with a .557 OPS. Bethancourt had an OPS of .548 with a .274 OBP and Slugging percent in limited playing time in 2014. As you acknowledge, for some reason it’s hard to get excited about Bethancourt at catcher. The glowing descriptions of his defense just never seemed to live up to reality.
I suspect, barring some trade or move that we don’t see coming yet, that playing time for 2015 will come down to “which of BJ or Bethancourt takes Seitzer’s coaching better,” with Gattis going wherever the other guy isn’t.
You can’t get anything of value for BJ on the market. Sunk costs are sunk. You let your knew hitting coach see what he can do with him. (Did you know that the Braves CF position doesn’t even rank in the top 5 as worst offensive positions in baseball for the last two years. Red Sox 3B, Yankees DH and Brewers 1B were all worse.)
I agree. I think Bethancourt is the one we should move.
I agree with that also. He’s an all arm/glove guy that doesn’t look good defensively.
I agree Bethancourt should be dumped. I’m pessimistic that they get much of any return; there’s plenty of video available on him at this point, and his supposed defensive skills have not shown up. But I think his value is only going to continue to drop, so they should get rid of him in exchange for a lottery ticket or two that their scouts are high on.
Why sell Bethancourt low? If he fails just demote him. If he success play him or sell high.
How would it be selling him low? He’s a shiny prospect that some people think will have a nice career. I think now is the time that his value is probably at its highest.
Why is everyone so low on Bethancourt? Just because a lot of young players have come up and had instant success lately doesn’t mean it’s the norm. It’s entirely possible that he becomes a league-average starter. Catchers have traditionally developed later than most other position players…. He’s only 23. At worst, he’s an adequate caddy who costs the league minimum.
@82 explicitly says Bethancourt has no trade value but we should sump home.
Jeez, you’d think the scouting report on Bethancourt’s defense was just a pack of lies. He came up at a time when the fan base was already getting its bitter wallow on — and no, he wasn’t too great. But he has the athletic tools, and if there’s a more “improvable” skill than catcher defense, I don’t know what that might be.
No Surprise Dept.: Simmons & Heyward take NL Gold Gloves.
BTW, the ESPN “30 for 30” doc on the Hernandez Brothers (Livan & El Duque) is really terrific.
Of course, getting thru Game 5 of the ’97 NLCS is still infuriating, but the doc offers a little insight when talking with Marlins catcher Charles Johnson, who realized the Siberia-sized strike zone right away. The film shows him going to the mound in the 1st inning & telling Livan to just throw everything outside.
The El Duque part of the story is really touching & I never quite knew the extent of his troubles in Cuba after Livan defected. Saw him pitch a lot & always liked watching him because of his odd array of windups & the way he’d spin hitters into circles with his supreme junk. And talk about a big-game pitcher…
DOB reporting Peraza is going to play Winter ball in Venezuela, along with “dozens of others”. Hmmmm…
B.J. wasn’t really a known quantity, actually. It was unclear how much of his slipping OBP was fixable. The hope was that he could preserve some of the home run power of his later years but recover some of the OBP of his early seasons, with good coaching. Of course, we badly underestimated his floor â€” it was clear that he’d been selling out for power for years, sacrificing BA and OBP for greater home run numbers, butÂ we assumed that even if the slide in his hitting was permanent, his home runs, defense, and speed would make him at worst a 2-3 win player for the foreseeable future. But there was room to hope that he could recover some of his previous batting eye and become a 4-win player. Unfortunately, it turned out that he was a 0-win player starting immediately.
I actually think he could be fixed. Now, he may be so removed from being a decent hitter that he will never get it back.
@91 – Yeah. Plus the guy was going into his age 28, 29 years which are usually identified as the ‘prime’ years of a player.
I hold out little hope that he can be fixed. Just to get to his career numbers would entail a remarkable turnaround. I’m bummed that we are going to try to fix him and a little surprised but I guess 46 million dollars is too much to swallow.
The thing is, his body hasn’t declined much, merely his swing of which has a hitch as obvious as I’ve ever seen. I still think he’s bringing his arms down, then back, rather than the lateral movement to his loading zone that he had in his Rays’ days. In my opinion, this is why it doesn’t matter the pitch, he’s late.
The movement prior to the swing is moot and that’s what was seemingly worked on this past year. Hopefully, Seitzer will work on getting BJ’s load quicker and do what he does best; re-teach BJ how to hit for contact.
Hopefully, he can get BJ to shorten his swing and hit the ball in the gaps. Was BJ’s stance always this open? There are way too many moving parts and that’s why he’s just constantly late on fastballs. Square him up and shorten the swing.
BJ and Simmons simply need to be convinced that even though chicks dig the long ball, they are hurting the team by trying to go homer every at bat.
Can the team win if BJ simply gets back to just a league average offensive output? Is this goal too high? I’m pessimistic.
Our winning depends on a lot more than just BJ’s increase of production. It would certainly help though.
One of BJ’s problems is that he doesn’t seem to think he has a problem.
So I did a little exercise today because of Dave Fleming, and I thought y’all would be interested.
The question: Who are the aces of major league baseball?
The idea: Use several common measures of greatness together to make an aggregate “Ace Stat”
The Method: Kind of like Rotisserie baseball, but with different categories. For the combined period of 2012-2014, I found the top-20 pitchers in Innings Pitched, ERA, Strikeouts, Strikeout-to-Walk ratio, Fangraphs WAR and B-Ref WAR. A player’s score in each category was where he ranked in the top-20, e.g. the guy with the most innings pitched (James Shields) scored a 20 and the guy with the 20th-most innings pitched scored a 1. Then I totaled up each pitcher’s scores for the 6 categories. If a pitcher scored top marks in every category he would receive a 120 overall “Ace” score.
I included any pitcher who totaled 210 or more innings over the three-year span. 48 different pitchers scored a point.
The overall top 20 are…
1. Clayton Kershaw (112)
2. Felix Hernandez (103)
3. David Price (84)
4. Chris Sale (78)
5. Max Scherzer (71)
6. Adam Wainwright (65)
7. Cole Hamels (59)
8. Justin Verlander (58)
9. Jordan Zimmermann (50)
10. Yu Darvish (40)
11. James Shields (39)
12.(tie) Cliff Lee (34)
12.(tie) Stephen Strasburg (34)
14. Matt Harvey (33)
15. Madison Bumgarner (32)
16. Johnny Cueto (30)
17. Jon Lester (29)
18. R.A. Dickey (27)
19. Zack Greinke (25)
20. Hiroki Kuroda (20)
No Braves in the top-20 🙁
Medlen was 21st, Wood was 30th, Teheran was 45th.
I like the way the results favored guys who pitched more without completely dismissing guys who pitched brilliantly for a shorter period of time.
Oh! Only 6 pitchers ranked in all 6 categories: Kershaw, Hernandez, Price, Wainwright, Zimmermann, and Greinke.
That’s definitely not true. The only positive thing I can say about BJ Upton (and you know me!) is that he has publicly said that he understands why he’s benched, he’s struggling, etc. He may be a douche in the moment with umpires, but he seems to understand the big picture.
Now that we don’t have to look at him on a nightly basis, I’m interested to see how another offseason away from the daily ground of the 162-game season might positively impact him. It’s all mental with this guy; his skills have not diminished. If he can get his act together, league average offense is still not out of the question. It’s not like Uggla where you could clearly see skills were eroding.
@100 – That is a good point. BJ still has the athleticism to be good. I’m still not hopeful. Queue Yogi quote here about the game being 90% mental and the other half being physical.
@97 – Sure, I understand that. I guess I should have said if BJ, Johnson and Bethancourt are league average can the team win? I’ve given up on Simmons ever being league average. Can the team win carrying Bethancourt and Simmons if they are both negatives on offense? I’m assuming that the team trades one of Gattis or Justin Upton.
BJ will not even approach mediocrity unless he blows his swing up and starts over. He needs to flatten his bat, start semi-loaded and go short to the ball, inside-outting as much as possible. I hope he has zero homers next year, personally, because that will mean he either got very little playing time or he stopped his waggle-hitch-waggle-golf approach.
Thought this was interesting
@DOBrienAJC: I’d guess less likely RT @KenanMarkum1: @DOBrienAJC w/ Maddon in Chicago, could we see BJ for Jackson deal resurface? BJ good under maddon.
BJ will hit with a lot more power, when he in fact stops trying to hit for power. I want to see this team get back to clogging the bases with hits and walks.
@101: Can’t really give up on Simmons while holding out hope for Bethancourt. Simmons is bad, but Bethancourt is terrible, and has never displayed any standout offensive skill at any level.
One reason I root for Bethancourt’s development is I’d love to see us employ an offense/defense platoon at catcher. In my imagining, Gattis would catch our #1, #3, and #5 starters, while Bethancourt would catch #2 and #4. If we’re two or more runs ahead after six innings during a Gattis game, bring in Bethancourt. If we’re two or more runs behind after six during a Bethancourt game, bring in Gattis (although don’t make any changes if the game is a blowout). The six inning “rule” would mean each starter throws almost all his innings to the same catcher, while the bullpen gets whoever they get. Stock the bullpen with hard throwers — that what seems to work, and who the catcher is should matter less if you’re throwing 90% fastballs. Give Gattis some spot starts in LF on his scheduled non-catching days. Of course, real life is more complicated than this simple scheme, but having it as a baseline approach might serve to highlight each player’s relative strengths.
Or at least what we hope are Bethancourt’s strengths.
And I would change that second 6th inning qualifier to “if we’re two or *fewer* runs behind, bring in Gattis”
Bethancourt has shown he can hit to the opposite field. That’s a plus, right?
@107 I was just going to make that edit, but I’ll leave it and say I agree.
Heyward chosen best defensive player by Wilson
That’s way, WAY too complicated for Fredi. You lost him at even and odd numbers.
New thread, based on that news.