Open Thread: The Return of the Cleaners From Venus

This is presented apropos of literally nothing whatsoever. You may not be familiar with the Cleaners From Venus. In that (very likely) case, this blog post will not strike you as terribly relevant — though I do hope at the very least to introduce you to a band that you ought to get to know.

The Cleaners from Venus was basically a one- or two-man band with a sort of Beatlesesque jangle-pop sound. This was in the ’80s, and while they were thousands of miles away from janglers in the Paisley Underground like The Three O’Clock or southern bands like Let’s Active and R.E.M., there are some interesting sonic similarities. But the Cleaners from Venus were far, far more English. Over to the right, I’ve embedded maybe their best song, “Julie Profumo.”

The bandleader and mastermind was Martin Newell, but he worked with a couple of other collaborators. One of them was Giles Smith, who later became a journalist and wrote a memoir about his time in the band, the superb Lost in Music. The Cleaners self-distributed their own tapes in an underground tape exchange market; interestingly, another British band that did the same thing at the same time was Chumbawumba. This is how Smith described his collaboration with Newell:

   This was the Martin Newell whom I joined full-time in the Cleaners from Venus: an angered pop guerrilla with his own agenda, a one-man music-biz resistance unit. Contrast these bristling principles with my own musical attitude at this time, which was, roughly, ‘fame at any price’.
   For two people about to set out on a journey into the world of pop, matters on which Newell and I held conflicting views were, I suppose, dangerously numerous. For example:
   Newell: big on artistic integrity; vehemently opposed to anyone from a record company imposing a marketing strategy upon his music.
   Me: ready to talk.
   Newell: firmly averse, on well-founded left-wing principles, to wasting time and money in expensive foreign recording studios, ‘like the rest of those pampered nancies’.
   Me: the Bahamas look nice.
   Newell: angry that machines have taken over many of the performance aspects of pop music, replacing its flawed but vital heart with a brutal perfectionism; concerned to reestablish a sixties ethic – energy first, accuracy second.
   Me: unhealthily obsessed with the clean lines of Scritti Politti’s Cupid and Psyche, an album on which nobody does anything unless a computer says so.
   Newell: strictly anti-producer.
   Me: hoping very shortly to have Trevor Horn’s home phone number.
   Newell: strictly anti-touring, on the grounds that it is unnecessary in the age of television and video, wasteful of resources and endangers a songwriter’s mental equilibrium by removing him from the life that inspired him to become a songwriter in the first place.
   Me: looking forward to Wembley.
   Newell: hostile towards partying, schmoozing, ligging, showbiz insincerities and ‘all that “star” rubbish’.
   Me: Rod! Great to see you!
   Newell: utterly convinced of his moral responsibility, in the event of success, to remain unaffected by staying close to the normalizing influence of his roots at home.
   Me: the Bahamas look nice.
   As if this wasn’t enough, we presented a striking visual contrast, too: Newell with his shaggy hair and Fagin kit, and me with my spiked crop and Oxfam suits, continuing a phase begun at university. (Newell frequently referred – satirically but with a hint of jealousy, I sometimes felt – to my ‘sensible teaching trousers’.
   Then, again, consider what we had in common. Both of us believed in the sanctity of the three-minute pop song. Both of us were fundamentally pro-Beatle. Furthermore, though Newell was a Lennon man and could accurately ape the gritty disdain of his singing voice, neither of us hated McCartney. Both of us considered the theme tune for University Challenge to be the funniest piece of music we had ever heard. And both of us thought jazz was for tossers. This was, surely, more than enough cement for a musical relationship.

They were a great band, but they never made it as rock stars, just local cult heroes. XTC’s Andy Partridge produced Martin Newell’s terrific first solo album, “The Greatest Living Englishman,” and Newell has proceeded to periodically release solo albums over the past two decades. He then resurrected the Cleaners moniker for two recent albums, “English Electric” and “The Late District,” and has begun digitally re-releasing the old albums in box sets, called Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3.

(Amazon’s selling the first two, the equivalent of seven CDs worth, for $16. The material can be uneven, but within those seven albums are a whole lot of good songs.)

Another highlight is “Ilya Kuryakin Looked at Me,” whose title refers to one of the main characters on “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

Oh, and here’s the theme for University Challenge:

Now, back to the thoroughly exciting baseball offseason!

142 thoughts on “Open Thread: The Return of the Cleaners From Venus”

  1. Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley jr, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Daniel Nava…

    What could we get for Jason Heyward? I sure don’t want to trade him, but if extension talks go nowhere, it might be time to build a package that nets some of the Red Sox undervalued talent. If Jason Heyward can net us some good players that are under team control for a while, the Braves have to at least look at it.

    The craziest thing about the Red Sox roster is that they have 7 outfielders, yet the logjam isn’t offset at all by the DH because Ortiz is filling that spot.

    @1 That’s good news.

  2. You have to start that conversation with Betts. They will want to do something like Jackie Bradley Jr, but you must start with Betts.

  3. JBJ has been unable to establish himself in the majors. He’s more glove than bat at the best of times, but while he might be a good B.J. replacement, he’s been hitting like B.J. in his cups of coffee in the majors. I wouldn’t mind targeting him as a change of scenery guy, but I wouldn’t pay much for him. He’s always been seen as a low-ceiling, high-floor guy, but his floor has gotten lower in his major league struggles.

    Another guy to look at would be the Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop, who was a big deal a couple years ago and hasn’t done much since then, but is still really young. And we’ve had a lot of success with players from the Dutch West Indies.

  4. Per my barber

    Dodgers get- Jason Heyward, LaStella
    Braves get- Matt Kemp, Dexter Fowler, Marwin Gonzalez and Tony Sipp
    Houston gets- Adam Ethier, BJ Upton, JR Graham and cash

  5. If the deal is for Heyward or Justin, Boston has to do much, much better than Jackie Bradley, Jr. If they’re picking up BJ’s contract, we can talk about Jackie Bradley, Jr.

  6. Interesting stuff this AM:
    1. Santana turned down qualifying offer.
    2. Gattis being shopped “hard”
    3. Hellickson close to being traded to NL team.
    4. Twitter putting 2&3 together.

    Hellickson alone would be a terrible deal for the Braves.

  7. The Rays bullpen was bad last year. They could ask for some bullpen help. The Braves could essentially part with Walden and Russell and be fine.

    Gattis, Walden, Terdoslavich, and Russell for Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson.

  8. Ryan, I don’t like that deal at all. It makes us a worse team and makes us spend more money. I don’t dislike Hellickson as a target, though.

    I see the two dudes you mentioned from the bullpen going for Hellickson.

  9. If I had Zunino I’d be looking hard for a cost-effective upgrade. Zunino’s numbers look like an Arencibia clone to me, and Gattis might be the better catcher.

  10. Wow. The Wang has been downright awful for half a decade. Organizational filler for now, but maybe the Braves can turn his career around.

  11. Mariners interested in J. Upton?

    The Mariners are focused on adding a bat to their lineup to help protect Robinson Cano, and Justin Upton could be a possibility, writes CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

    While Victor Martinez and Hanley Ramirez are Seattle’s top two targets, Upton is an intriguing possibility.

    Upton has been said to be available in a a trade, as well as fellow Braves outfielder Jason Hayward — both of whom will be free agents following the 2015 season.

    Upton, according to Heyman’ sources, has dropped the Mariners from his no-trade list.

    — Cash Kruth

  12. @31 – a few years ago, Seattle was horrible and going nowhere. Last year they added a big named free agent and competed hard for the division all the way through the end of the year. That matters to players.

  13. You guys do realize how bad we’re going to be if we trade Gattis and one of JUpton/Heyward, right? We might lose 100 games next year.

  14. Depends on the returns I guess. Either way, we aren’t a playoff calibur team right now. Let it play out.

  15. 37: What does this even mean? Is it that Gattis (or Justin) are so valuable that no team could possibly put together a package of equivalent or greater value? Or is it that our current front office is so bad at trading that they are doomed to lose these hypothetical trades? Or are you talking strictly in terms of 2015 production? If the latter, please remember that this team lost 83 games last year and is losing two productive starting pitchers, so competing in 2015 was always a fantasy.

  16. @39

    I actually think we can compete with what we have. We were in the race until the last month of the season.

    I think with a few minor parts, we could be fine.

  17. We were only in it because of a ridiculous start to the season in which our pitching was lights out. Our offense was awful all year long. Adding or changing minor parts doesn’t make this a championship team and I don’t think we should build with a best case scenario of grabbing a wild card spot.

  18. @39, you are making it way too complicated. Teams know we have one year left of JUpton/Heyward. They aren’t going to give up a player or players that are as good as those guys are. First, there’s very few players that are currently as good, and second, nobody in their right minds will be trading prospects that might one day be as good for guys that are a year away from free agency.

    We’ll get less back because we aren’t in a position of strength at the bargaining table. This is why I think nothing will happen and we’ll just keep them for 2015 and deal with the year after as it comes.

  19. csg, if you’re predicting the pitching to return to their collective means, then you have to be willing to do the same with the offense. It’s simply too coincidental that so many players had down years offensively to not assume that something can and will be done to collectively improve the offense.

    I’m interested to see what the market for Gattis could be.

    Also, do we know anything about the injury statuses of Medlen and Beachy? I understand that, in the big picture, they can’t possibly be expected to return to their previous levels, but if one of them could come back and be a back-of-the-rotation starter at mid-season, that’s certainly helpful.

    On another point, with the money saved, can we not reasonably expect to replace Santana’s production with another like player? And when it comes to determining that Harang’s value will not be easily be replaced… who the heck is Aaron Harang? He was off the scrapheap last Spring Training. I definitely think we’ll be able to replace Aaron Harang. After all, if you believe the newspapers, The Lord Jesus’ Gifts to Scouting have all decided to return to Atlanta after Frank Wren’s reign of tyranny was eradicated. Can’t all those scouting and development savants bring us a competent 3rd or 4th starter?

    I think I’ve asked enough questions. Thanks guys.

  20. I can see why this would be hard for Braves fans to wrap our heads around, given our ownership, but it’s not at all unreasonable for a team that’s trying to win now to trade a stud prospect — particularly one that’s blocked — for a rental player. The value of a Heyward or Jupton, contract included, to a team trying to win now is quite high — plus, they might deal for either of the two with an eye towards paying what the Braves won’t in order to extend them, and they get an exclusive window to do just that.

  21. @44

    Some David O’Brien semi-official speculation says that Medlen’s recovery is on-track and that the Braves will bring him back to see if he can contribute. No word on the Beach man.

    Anyway, I think if we’re willing to throw a million at Sheets or Harang it only makes sense to throw a million at Medlen and see how it plays out.

  22. 42: Then you’re just misusing “the return.” For a team in the Braves’ position on the win curve, six years of an okay player, including three years of severely depressed salaries, is better than one year of a good player making a close-to-market salary. You are correct that the Braves won’t get back players of equal caliber (unless they happen to get lucky on a prospect), but are wrong that that means the pieces the Braves get back will be “worse” than what they gave up.

  23. @43, part 2

    That’s right. I think the 400 innings we got from Santana and Harang in our 3 and 4 rotation spots will be filled by Minor and [someone]. And I think we’ll have enough options for a #5 guy that we’ll make something work (the fan in me wants it to be Medlen but I really don’t care who it is).

  24. True fair point that the offense will improve.

    I think some are underestimating the return that we may get for Heyward/Upton. There are a lot of teams willing to trade good value for a 30hr OF. Especially when they will be able to start negotiating long term deals before they hit FA.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gattis and BJ get lumped into the same deal.

  25. I don’t want them to trade BJ this offseason at all, unless it’s in a ridiculously unbalanced deal. Reasoning as follows: two of the three years his salary is on the books, the Braves aren’t competing anyway. Yes, BJ’s salary is part of the reason why, but the 2016 squad is not $15 million away from contention. Obviously, you get more in trade if you don’t send him along. I would like this offseason to be about adding as many quality prospects as possible, and widening the focus to dumping BJ’s salary will get in the way of that goal.

  26. The point is whether or not the return for JUpton is MLB ready. If the Braves want MLB ready, say a 2b, then the other part will probably be a relief pitcher or a prospect. My concern is that the return won’t be enough to offset losing our best offensive player.

    So Gattis gets us what? I am ok with trading him but we would need to get an MLB ready 3b, 2b or a starting pitcher out of the deal.

    I just can’t believe the team is already anointing Bethancourt as the starting catcher.

    @40 – edit: I agree, lets play for 2015.

  27. Gattis would need to bring us multiple players in the deal. I think the Braves are overconfident with Bethancourt also.

  28. @46, I think it depends on whether you think that it’s a forgone conclusion that we won’t compete in 2015. I think a legit run in 2015 is still possible (though maybe not probable) and that keeping Heyward and JUpton for one year is better than trading for prospects. If you have a chance to win now then you do so. There’s going to be plenty of time to rebuild after 2015. Let’s see this current recipe though to its conclusion.

    Plus there’s at least a decent chance that we sign Heyward imho. I just can’t imagine opening up NCS@WFF without him on the team.

  29. Wow, the mets signed Cuddyer to a 2 yr deal and it forfeits their 15th pick in next years draft. I thought Colorado was dumb to offer him a QO and now they get a pick out of it. Crazy

  30. @DOBrienAJC: #Braves signed free-agent OF Zoilo Almonte to a major league deal. Ex-Yankee can play corners and some CF.

  31. @DOBrienAJC: #Braves signed left-handed reliever Donnie Veal. He made 50 appearances w/ White Sox in 2013, spent most of ’14 as Triple-A starter w/ Sox

  32. The Braves just added a bench outfielder that has struck out 24% of the time in the Minor Leagues, doesn’t really walk, and isn’t necessarily a great base runner. Ummm…Yippee? What does Todd Cunningham have to do to say, “HEY! DOWN HERE, YOU BUFFOONS!”

  33. We won’t sign a good OF until BJ is gone. Can’t have anyone pushing him or putting Fredi in an uncomfortable spot. You always have to be able to say “yeah BJ isn’t peforming, but we really don’t have any other options”.

  34. Braves are scouring the baseball graveyard this afternoon.

    @61 I’m not expecting them to, but I’m also not expecting them to sign players to Major League deals who bring no value to the club.

  35. @64
    Almonte was signed to a Major League deal. The others are org. fillers, but that’s just a hasty decision by the FO. One positive: he hits RHP well: 17HR, .828 OPS at AAA. He’s a switch hitter that needs to not hit from the right side. Overall, Todd Cunningham was better.

  36. I was expecting that figure to be closer to $30m. Good deal for the Mets, interesting decision from Cuddyer.

  37. I don’t think a major league deal means anything special. Almonte is probably out of options or something. If he doesn’t make our 25-man out of the spring then he’ll be DFA’d.

  38. A 36-year old Cuddyer (he turns 36 in March) for $21 million plus the 15th pick of the draft sounds pretty expensive to me. He’s not a scrub, but he was injured a lot last year, and players have been aging a whole lot faster in the post-PED era. Plus, his fielding sucks, which pulls down the value of his bat.

    I don’t hate the deal, but it’s pretty expensive.

  39. I just read that Ervin Santana has officially turned down the Braves’ QO. I hope he signs with the Royals or another team that lacks a protected draft pick.

  40. 70: The Braves get a supplemental pick regardless of what team Santana signs with. The signing team’s pick is not transferred to the QOing team (that is, the position of the signing team’s foregone pick has nothing to do with the position of the QOing team’s acquired pick), so it doesn’t matter whether the signing team’s pick is protected or not.

  41. @DOBrienAJC #Braves Hart said flatly that reports of them pushing to trade Gattis are wrong. They’ll listen, but not pushing any trades at this point.

    Hopefully this is true. If they get a great offer, fine, but I don’t understand why they would be (and others are) so eager to dump our most cost-effective offensive asset. Bethancourt also has simply not proven ready to take over.

  42. Maybe they are really still looking at shopping Bethancourt and using the media to pump him up and make it seem like we’re of the opinion that Gattis is expendable and we’re totally ready to roll with CB as our starter.

    Or maybe they know that we know that they know that we know that we’re doing this…

  43. @67 21 million > 15 million. Cuddyer knows this is his last multi year deal. Its certainly a gamble by the Mets but i’m thinking the cost of offense is going to be silly this year.

  44. John Hart is a smart man. He knows Evan Gattis is a valuable piece. He is capable of identifying value in return for that piece if a good offer is out there. He is capable of saying no if no satisfactory offer is made. People aghast at trading Gattis are just being fan-boys. There is absolutely no one on this roster who is untouchable. No one at all.

    (Closest you’d get is Julio Teheran.)

  45. @76 Fan attachment and the money it generates is what allows the baseball industry to exist. Smart GMs understand this and take it into consideration, which is why the actual list of untouchable players is larger than yours. Unless you’re prepared to blow a team up and accept it will take not only years to get good again, but also to build a player identity that fans appreciate, you can’t just fucking eviscerate the current identity. Fans don’t like that, and that means lower ticket sales.

    Even still, the idea that you have to be a fanboy to find fault with the gleeful crusade to unload Gattis is a strawman. I’m not aghast at trading Gattis, I’m aghast at the eager insistence that we absolutely must find someone to take him from us, not only because I like him, but also because it makes no fucking sense given our situation. But by all means, keep being a snarky ass if it makes you feel superior to the emotional rabble.

  46. He just had a career year and yet can’t stay on the field. The team seems to think he won’t age well. They don’t like his defense either, and before my saying something about defense prompts a comment about Bethancourt, trading Gattis doesn’t necessitate that Bethancourt starts.

    If we’re not going to contend anyway, given what the team apparently believes, the correct action is to sell high.

    Hart put Gattis out there, and then pulled him back some to it known that he’s available, but we’re not desperate and he won’t come cheap. It’s the right move.

  47. Gattis is somewhat good (maybe even great if he could stay on the field) and is cheap. Giving him up is certifiably crazy. He’s exactly what you want on a budget-constrained team. He’s who you trade *for*, not send packing.

    I find it interesting that both the Braves and Falcons have somehow managed to get into a situation where they look to be in rebuild/tear-down phases right at the time they are opening new stadiums. If you are like-minded as those that have been predicting the bursting of the pro-sports bubble, then the ATL might just be ground zero in the next couple of years.

  48. @76 – I agree that Gattis is not untouchable Sam. The only problem is that if we trade Gattis, Bethancourt could be our primary catcher. This terrifies me.

  49. @79, yeah, it ain’t great.

    Obviously, it’s basically impossible to evaluate a trade without knowing the return. If we get a ton of awesome stuff back for Gattis, then great. If we keep him, also great. I trust these guys not to give him up for nothing. We’ll see what happens.

  50. Apparently Justin Upton’s no-trade clause only allows him to block trades to 4 teams per season. His teams this season are Cleveland, Toronto, Milwaukee, and the Chubs.

  51. PHOENIX — Listen to Jay Alou — agent for free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas –€“ for his first two sentences and you’€™ll come away with a dose of reality.

    “I don’€™t see a need. They have their outfielders,” Alou said when asked at the general managers’€™ meetings Monday about the Red Sox‘€™ interest in the 23-year-old slugger.

    But then, in mid statement, came the push.

    I mean, he could play third base. Everybody could use some pop,”€ Alou added.

    Emphasis mine. (Obviously it’s selling by the agent, but if Tomas could fake 3B he’s even more of a target for a smart Braves buy.)

    http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/2014/11/10/yasmany-tomas-agent-says-client-has-more-power-than-jose-abreu-way-more/

  52. RE: Gattis; I was on that bandwagon earlier than most, and I recognize his value. That said, if you believe this team will not compete until 2017 or later Gattis is a piece you trade for younger depth, not a piece you hold onto to push 75 wins to 80 in the interim years. Yes, he’s quite good. Yes, he can crush the ball. No, he’s not a good defensive catcher. No, his body doesn’t project to hold up well to the wear and tear behind the plate. And no, he will not be “cheap” by the time you get a competitive team put back together around him. If you can turn him into two or three quality near-major league players, you do that. Because like it or not, barring some really unheard of moves by John Hart, Evan Gattis is unlikely to be a cog in the next “great Braves team.”

  53. @86

    You have to have the Red Sox, Angels, Yanks and/or the Dodgers interested to drive up the price.

  54. The aging projection of Gattis is interesting because he spent all that time off from playing and he never really played catcher until recently. He doesn’t have 28 year old catcher knees.

  55. He doesn’t, but he has a 28 year old back that is already breaking down, and he’s never had much of an athletic build (for a catcher) behind the plate. And while we can say he doesn’t have “catcher’s knees” we also have no idea what sort of wear and tear he put on his body running ski lifts either.

    We do know that he has had difficulty staying in the game over his brief career. We do know that he has pulled muscles swinging and has had a bulging disc issue. We do know that people internal to the Braves, who at least theoretically have access to his x-rays and medical files think he’s a risk going forward.

    You don’t give that bat away, because that bat is valuable. But again, is Evan Gattis a cog in the next great Braves team? If you think you can compete in 2015, certainly. If you think you are rebuilding for 2017, not so much.

  56. The only problem is that if we trade Gattis, Bethancourt could be our primary catcher. This terrifies me.

    This too comes down to where and when you think the team will be ready to compete again. If you’re rebuilding for 2017 then using Gattis as part of the carrot to lure someone into the BJ Upton stick is perfectly reasonable, and giving Bethancourt a year or two to try to transition to something other than “that guy that’s been the defensive C prospect for 600 years” is a good enough plan too. If you’re plan is to be competitive again in 2017, there’s no reason not to play Bethancourt and see what he becomes in 2015.

    I think a lot of us have forgotten what actual rebuilding looks like. We haven’t really seen it since 1986.

  57. I really don’t understand the notion that the Braves won’t compete in ’15 or ’16. The team had a horrendous offensive slump that affected almost the entire team, but there are offensive talents aplenty on this team. The team will compete this year, next year, and 2017.

    The Braves are one Justin Upton trade away from acquiring 2-3 impact prospects (and putting 15MM back into the budget) and one Walden trade away from acquiring another top-10 prospect. Acquiring 3-4 top-10 prospects starts the process and doesn’t really sacrifice this, or next year.

  58. Sam, why have you all of a sudden decided that we’re playing for 2017? We’re not. And best I can tell, most of the people who think we are are the sort who would almost rather watch a team full of prospects than a winning baseball team.

    Any trade we make will be for Major League ready talent so that we can compete next year. Anybody who thinks this team has no prayer of competing next year is suffering from a severe lack of imagination. The same lineup won the division year-before-last.

  59. Next year looks like our best chance for a while. We’re not going to punt 2015. You can even make a decent argument that we should go all-in.

    I do see both sides, but trading our good guys for a handful of Tommy La Stellas or Jackie Bradleys isn’t the long-term fix either. The long-term fix is better drafts and better international signings, and I feel like we’re addressing that right now. The payoff will take years, but it’s the only way we can rebuild. A fire sale won’t net us enough back and it will alienate what’s left of the fanbase.

  60. To be clear, I’m not personally agitating for 2017 over 2015. What armchair-GM’ing I’ve done – Trading JUpton for high level/impact prospects and signing Yasmany Tomas to replace him in LF – was quite obviously meant to address 2015-17 as competitive years. My point is that there is another tactical path that the Braves must do due diligence on, and that’s the “punt 2015 to go all in for the new ballpark in 2017” path. I don’ think they’ll do that personally, because it’s not necessary (IMHO) and it’s absolutely NOT the way the Braves’ front office has worked in the last 20 odd years. John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox’s franchise reloaded, they didn’t rebuild, and until they do otherwise here, I will assume that’s their continued strategic plan.

    That said, to reload, you have to do something about the offense. Just writing it off as a “slump” doesn’t work for me, because I think it’s much more likely that the “slump” was true talent level for the major contributors to said slump, and that 2013 was the outlier. We “slumped” in 2014 because Chris Johnson’s BABIP returned to his career norms. We “slumped” in 2014 because Andrelton Simmons didn’t have a flukish 200 at bats in his ML debut. And of course, we slumped because of Uggla and Upton. While we can expect some vague improvement from the Uggla hole, BJ Upton isn’t bankable to improve, Chris Johnson isn’t a good projection to regain his career year form, and Andrelton Simmons has shown little ability to hit ML pitching. So the “bounce back to competing” argument seems a bit tone deaf to me.

    Now, of course you don’t solve that by trading one of your few real hitters and replacing him with Christian Bethancourt, UNLESS YOU CAN REPLACE ONE OF THE OTHER ZEROS BY DOING SO. That’s always the end game for any “trade Evan Gattis” argument. You don’t trade Gattis because you want Bethancourt to start instead. You trade Gattis because someone offers you a player who can play the OF and let Bethancourt be the BJ hole in your lineup, while making tons less money.

  61. @97

    I agree with most of what you are saying. I think writing off 2015 is maddening though.

    Can this team, with a few minor tweaks, make the playoffs? Sure. It only take 85-88 wins to get in. We play in a weak division. I am not saying we would, but outside of the Rockies, Phillies, DBacks, Padres and possibly the Marlins, I think most of the NL has a shot.

  62. 93: Actually, I don’t care about prospects at all. I am deeply uninterested in scouting grades or watching shaky minor-league footage of teenagers’ pitching motion, and all I care about is major league competition.

    However: the Braves were not good in 2014, and next year they will be worse. That “same lineup” from 2013 is missing Brian McCann, and more importantly it features two dudes (Simmons, Johnson) who were never good*, and are now showing that. To hasten the day when the Braves will be worth watching again, I want the front office to recognize these facts and trade for some boring prospects who will hopefully blossom into interesting major leaguers in a year or two.

    *Except Simmons on defense, obviously.

  63. I actually expect the Marlins and Mets to be quite competitive this year, especially if Harvey and Fernandez come back healthy.

  64. First up, cheers today to all our Bravesjournal veterans out there. I seem to remember we’ve had a few.

    FWIW, the Mets’ Cuddyer signing was certainly rumored for awhile. Curious to see how he hits in that place. Can’t imagine it’ll be a bust (if he stays relatively healthy), but funny things often seem to happen to Met FAs.

    On a side note: So happy to have escaped Minneapolis yesterday. Very few things make me genuinely nervous. But driving to the airport in near-blinding snow is one of them. I don’t know how those people do it. That was one slip n’ slide coaster ride.

  65. @102 It sucks bad enough in Ohio. I can’t imagine how it is in Minnesota.

    @97 – Gotta hope that last year wasn’t Johnson’s true talent level. I’m not unrealistic enough to think that we’ll get 2013 level performance from him but I think that there is a chance we get his career average offensive numbers. I am truly afraid that Simmons is what he is with the bat.

    That is why the return for Gattis has to be an MLB ready bat at either the OF or 2B or a starting pitcher and that may be more than we can ask. To your point something we get from Gattis has to offset BJ, Simmons or Bethancourt in the offense.

  66. People retire to Florida because winter sucks. Most of my neighbors can’t even spell Dixie.

    Don’t give up on Simba’s offense yet. Only a couple of years ago we were trumpeting him as a coming blend of Ozzie and Jeter. One terrible year and he’ll be lucky to be Mendoza. Take a deep breath and wait for his much-praised work ethic to adjust to what ailed him last year.

  67. I think the return for Gattis is a mlb ready 3b and SP. We might see Peraza at 2b next season and we won’t block him. The other option is to find someone to take Gattis and BJ in the same deal. Then use the funds to sign Tomas.

  68. Here’s a list of 3b candidates on the FA market that could be had for cheap, and hit RHP well:

    Here’s a list of trade candidates that can play 3b and hit RHP well: Luis Valbuena, Conor Gillaspie.

    Here’s a list of internal candidates: Kyle Kubitza.

    You decide…

  69. A friend of mine said he’s heard mention of a Heyward/Samardzija type deal. Can’t seem to find that anywhere. Anyone?

  70. @DOBrienAJC: John Hart said #Braves love Heyward, but doesn’t anticipate ext. in final year before FA: “My assumption is it’s probably the wrong time.”

  71. It’s not really a good time for either party to extend Heyward. The Braves want to wait and see how he reacts/improves under a new hitting coach. Heyward wants to put together the breakout year we’ve all been waiting for in order to bump the annual salary above 20m per.

  72. @116 He had flashes of brilliance, but some terrible outings really obscured those. I always hoped he would put it together, be able to pitch well multiple nights in a row, and turn into a younger Peter Moylan. I’m kind of sad to see him go. He was actually one of my favorite players in a “I’m not sure why, but he is” kind of way.

  73. In another universe, he turned into a consistently effective ROOGY. In this universe, he wasn’t always put in the best situation to succeed, but he screwed up way too frequently to be trusted. Hopefully he’ll get a new start and do better elsewhere.

  74. For his Braves’ tenure, Gearrin held RHH to a .604 OPS and his strand rate was over 70%. If used right, he could have been very solid. As you stated Alex, he was used poorly. Like Moylan, he is a ROOGY and should only be used as such. Moylan’s numbers were better against LHH (.808 OPS compared to Gearrin’s .888), but their numbers against RHH were identical. One will go down as a folk hero for a period of time and one will go down as a goat. Tough break for a pitcher that, throughout his career, Minor and Major, has shown the ability to consistently get RHH out.

    I wish him the best and I think Cory could be a mainstay in someone’s bullpen for years to come.

  75. Re: Matt Williams

    Well you gotta give the guy credit for winning despite being handed 5 above average starting pitchers who stayed healthy all year long

  76. From DOB this morning on AJC:

    New hitting coach Kevin Seitzer plans to work with some Braves this winter, and the Braves have made it a priority for him to get with three in particular: B.J. Upton, Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward.

  77. I’d love to see the Braves submit a bid for Kang Jung-ho and stick him at third base if they were to get him. The KPB is high-offense league, but .356/.461/.739 was still better than anybody else last season – and all while playing a decent shortstop, according to some scouts. Ryu Hyun-jin is being paid $36 mil. over 6 seasons, which is an outrageous steal. The Dodgers did have to pay $25.7 mil. as a posting fee just to talk to Ryu, which makes it less of a steal, but even at $10 mil. per season – including the posting fee – that’s money well spent. If the Braves could offload CJ and snag Kang for a similar number of dollars and years, I think it’d be a gamble worth taking.

    Kang’s home park is pretty tiny – 321 ft. down the lines and 387 to straight away center – so he probably won’t be hitting 40 jacks in the MLB. But he does have some legit power:

  78. and Chris Johnson, Tommy LaStella and Christian Bethancourt ……

    If BJ and Simmons performance improves this season to anywhere close to league average, I’ll take everything I’ve ever said about hitting coaches not mattering back, abandon my B1G team and become a Gamecock fan. Then I’ll build a shrine to Kevin Seitzer.

  79. Hart was just on mlb network. Nice to hear a well spoken guy that answers questions while not giving up too much. Seems very personable. He says outfield is good. Says they are going to work gattis in the outfield. Unless blown away they think he is a major part of the team. He also said heyward and justin are high in importance. No mention of bj. He also said they want bettncourt playing everyday. Sounds like jhey moving to center and justin to right. He said they need two starters. Can’t count on Medlin or beachy.

  80. I’m deciding to be optimistic about Chris Johnson. I think being put at the cleanup spot at the beginning of last season (while coming off a career year and big contract extension) put too much strain on his already fragile mind and he never recovered and had a shit year. I think he bounces back at least some this season. But it would hurt to have a platoon partner for righties.

  81. I’ll let Alex decide if this is worth it’s own “new thread.”

    The guys at Royals Review do a yearly “off season simulation” where they have fans of each team run the winter deals for that team.

    Not sure who ran the Braves sim, but here’s their moves:

    Atlanta Braves
    • Non-tendered IF Ramiro Pena, P Kris Medlen, P Brandon Beachy, and P Jonny Venters
    • Traded OF Justin Upton, OF B.J. Upton, P Craig Kimbrel, P Aaron Norcraft plus $9 million to the Yankees for OF Brett Gardner, P Michael Pineda, OF Aaron Judge, P Manny Banuelos and SS Jorge Mateo
    • Traded OF Evan Gattis and SS Jorge Mateo to the Indians for P T.J. House, OF David Murphy and OF Tyler Naquin
    • Signed 3B Chase Headley to a 4 year $70 million deal with a $17.5 million vesting option
    • Signed OF Chris Young to a 1 year $2 million contract with up to $4.5 million in incentives
    • Signed C John Buck and P Jeff Francis to minor league contracts
    Payroll: $94 million
    Recommended Budget: $122 million

  82. I think it’s a bit premature to get too excited about general quotes coming from the front office, as it’s literally impossible for us to tell what’s true and what’s posturing.

  83. @DOBrienAJC: Perhaps Carlos Martinez RT @JL_Hoff: @DOBrienAJC what type of return could STL offer for Jhey?

  84. Y’all we lost out on having Victor Martinez DH for us this year. He’s back with the Tiggers.

    Edit: And my new favorite sports headline of 2014, “King Felix disappointed, vows to work harder”. What a lazy ass that guy is for not winning the Cy Young!

  85. 139-Yeah Drew Silva suggested Carlos Martinez, Grichuk and the Cards competitive balance pick for Heyward, not sure I would say no to that.

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