Nick Markakis

So, the Braves signed Georgia boy Nick Markakis — he went to high school in Woodstock — for four years, $44 million. On its face, I don’t like this deal. On reflection, I don’t like this deal. On a bit more reflection, I’m basically ambivalent.

If you were an Orioles fan, Nick Markakis would have been a massive disappointment to you. The seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft, he debuted in 2006 as something pretty close to the guy he is now: 147 games played, 542 PA, .291/.351/.448 with 16 homers, 2.5 rWAR. He was 22 years old. Then, at 23, he picked up to 23 homers and 4.2 WAR, and at 24, he had the best season of his life, hitting .306 with good defense and accruing 7.4 WAR. But like Carlos Baerga, it turned out that he peaked at 24.

Since then, he’s basically been a two-win player every year (except for a terrible, injury-plagued 2013), with negative defensive marks (good arm, bad range), a good batting average and OBP, and somewhere between 10 and 15 homers. His defense isn’t great but it won’t kill you, his offense isn’t great but in this context it’s above-average, and he stays on the field which gives him positional value.

The free agent math to get to his contract basically goes like this: if you assume that he will be a 2.0 win player in 2015 and 2016, that in the subsequent two years he will lose an average of 0.5 WAR a year due to aging, injuries, and so on, and that it costs $7 million to buy a win on the open market, then:
Year 1: 2.0 * 7 = $14 million
Year 2: 2.0 * 7 = $14 million
Year 3: 1.5 * 7 = $10.5 million
Year 4: 1.0 * 7 = $7 million
Total: $45.5 million

Those are pretty aggressive assumptions, but that’s basically how you get to the number they paid.

There are basically two pressing questions. First, what is his true power? And second, given that he plateaued in his early 20s, is he due for a massive crash in his early 30s (like, say, B.J. Upton)?

The power question is partly tied to his wrist. He had hamate surgery in 2012, and his power has plummeted in the years since: .159 ISO before surgery, .098 ISO after. If you believe that he’ll get some of his power back, then he could be a value buy, but hamates are no joke, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever slug .470 again, as he did in 2012. Still, if he can get back to .440, that would be a big help.

The second question is harder to answer, but it’s worth looking at his similarity scores on on baseball-reference. This contract will pay him until he’s 34, and seven of his top ten most similar hitters were out of the league by 35. That isn’t determinate, but it’s a serious concern.

So: why am I anything other than deeply negative about this deal? First, I’ll point to David Lee’s article in the Augusta Chronicle and Martin Gandy’s blog post; both are smart, serious followers of the Braves and they offer much more full-throated defenses than I’m about to. But it basically boils down to this: the Braves badly need warm bodies, and this free agent market is absolutely insane, as evidenced by the $30 million deal given to Billy Butler, an iffy 28-year-old hitter who can’t play defense, or the $57 million deal given to Nelson Cruz, a 34-year old whose low OBP and indifferent defense offset his substantial power. Or, for that matter, the $3.8 million that the Athletics gave Ike Davis, who is the literal definition of a replacement-level player.

Given the scarcity of even average hitters and the Braves’ desperate need for one, Markakis fits the bill. The Braves’ upper minors are a wasteland, which means that league-average players are worth more to the Braves than they are to many other teams, and the Braves are paying this league-average player less per win than those other teams are paying the players that they got. Markakis doesn’t have a lot of upside beyond the player he is now, but if he’s able to remain this player for two more years (per the assumptions above), he’ll be worth this contract and well worth the gamble. That may not be the likeliest-case scenario, but it also may have been the Braves’ best option to fill a major hole in their roster without creating an even bigger hole elsewhere.

204 thoughts on “Nick Markakis”

  1. The Markakis deal *might* work out, but obviously the odds are pretty heavily against it. I would have been much happier to see the Braves take some real risks instead of simply making a safe signing like Markakis – for instance, JUp + Gattis to the Mariners for Walker + Ackley + Saunders would’ve made great sense. As it stands, the Braves are likely going to be both mediocre and boring in 2015, and will not have won any great future benefits in terms of young talent and roster flexibility in exchange for that mediocrity.

  2. Since everyone seems comfortable with me as the contrarian, I will simply offer this (not particularly likely, but not utterly impossible) scenario for your esteemed consideration. I will attempt to keep the language PG-13 for the overly sensitive among us.

    1. Trade Justin Upton for T. Walker plus.
    2. Trade Evan Gattis only if they take BJ Upton’s contract with them.
    3. Ignore 2015.

    In 2016, you have a starting rotation (barring injuries of course) of:

    RHP Julio Teheran
    LHP Alex Wood
    RHP Shelby Miller
    LHP Mike Minor
    RHP Taijuan Walker

    The only person to hit arbitration is Mike Minor.

    Your starting 8 would be:

    C – Bethancourt/David Ross like person
    1B – Freddie Freeman
    2B – Peraza
    SS – Simmons
    3B – Chris Johnson
    LF – ???
    CF – ???
    RF – Nick Markakis

    Freeman and Markakis are the only double digit millions on that payroll.

    But here’s the thing. You’ve recouped 14.5m per from the JUpton contract. You’ve recouped 15m from moving BJ Upton. And you’re finally out from under the 13.5 mil you’re still paying Dan Uggla this year. So, call it 42-44m per back into your payroll kitty.

    And Jason Heyward, beloved hometown hero, will almost certainly be available for the bidding.

  3. Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins arent future benefits for one year of Jason Heyward? Vizcaino is a future benefit for Jordan Walden.

  4. @2

    Let’s see if Boston gets Lester back. That would give me hope.

    @2/the news from a couple days ago about the almost deal with Gattis+BJ to Houston

    The fact that the deal didn’t get done makes me very skeptical about Hart. That’s the BJ Upton contract potentially wiped out. The fish was on the hook. You gotta close that deal. I know they don’t all work out–but at some point, if you’re GM, you gotta make it work out.

    Call it strike one. (Or strike two, depending on where Hart was on the Johnson extension.)

  5. And yes, Jason Heyward wanted to sign a long term deal but at his cost. If we trade both Uptons and Ugglas $$ comes off the books, we could easily resign him. I have a feeling this will be an offseason of misery and complaining about every deal.

  6. Nori Aoki must be a collective hallucination, a manifestation of many of our desires for an equally-skilled yet much more affordable version of Markakis. Does Aoki not actually exist or something? Is he not sufficiently grindery?

    Look at Shaft Paint’s contract and tell me Hart wasn’t behind the CJ extension.

  7. Alex, do the contract value estimates in the post take into account the continually rising value of wins YOY. Are you assuming an average win value of $7m over the next four years, or that $7m is the value for 2015. If the latter, then the contract looks a lot better in the later years when the costs will have risen.

  8. Jay at @10, the number I quoted is a bit higher than most current estimates: you’ll often see numbers like $6 or $6.5 million. But you have to assume a $7 million cost per win in order to get to the number the Braves paid him. The way that $-per-win estimates work is by building in the future costs — so you’re paying X dollars today for Y expected wins over the following N number of seasons.

  9. @10 Money quote from that article about Andrelton

    “According to Baseball-Reference, Simmons generated 5.4 WAR in 2013 and 3.9 in 2014 with his glove alone; Nelson Cruz, who led baseball with 40 homers last year, generated 4.2 WAR with his bat. If we believe those numbers, we accept that the Braves have a player who, before even picking up a bat, generates as much or more value than the sport’s top power hitter.”

  10. 5: The fact that the Braves would technically have enough money to pay him doesn’t mean they can “easily” sign him. If Heyward’s (reasonable) contract demand is going to consume 25% of the Braves’ yearly payroll, it just isn’t gonna work.

    2: One flaw: a single year of Justin Upton is worth less than Walker, not more. I don’t think that’s insurmountable–send Shae Simmons along, for example, and it’s pretty fair.

  11. Mariners don’t need Shae Simmons. Their bullpen was simply lights out last year. If they trade a SP, they’ll want one in return.

  12. 16: Well, the Braves aren’t going to send a major-league starter; the point is to strengthen the rotation. Maybe the Mariners don’t need Simmons, but there should be a way to make an Upton-plus-for-Walker swap work, if the Mariners really do want Upton.

  13. #14 – Agreed which I why I don’t understand why people are still upset at the Braves trading Heyward.

  14. @18, We’re upset because our ownership just took much more than what it’s going to cost to sign Heyward from Cobb County taxpayers. To stick us with BJ again and trade Heyward under those circumstances isn’t forgivable. I don’t understand why you’re not upset.

  15. The difficult bit about my SWAG @2 is moving BJ. If they can move BJ, then the money is quite simply there to bring back Heyward if they want to. And the contract would be determined by what sort of 2015 Heyward puts up in STL, and how the market values him going forward.

  16. I don’t know why they aren’t in on Aoki. Of course, if they trade Justin Upton they could sign Aoki to play LF and leave Gattis behind the dish.

  17. @19 Because we don’t have a cult like reverence?

    Why didn’t the Braves sign Aoki? Markakis is a better player. Trigger 10 thousand reply posts with every WAR in the book. Nori hit 1 HR last year. Nick hit 14. Its probably that simple.

    Sam that trading BJ successfully, meaning his salary goes with him, is the main problem with your SWAG. BJ is a Brave, gonna be one for at least 2015.

    edit: DOH! didn’t see your post @20.

  18. Aoki isn’t a great player at all. He’s not that much worse than Markakis and probably cheaper. But, honestly, in this market I have no idea. Aoki might command anywhere from $15 to $40 million. I just can’t tell what teams are going to do.

  19. What is the story on Yoan Moncada? I saw somewhere where he is working out in Florida. Could we be in on it? Can he play corner OF or 3rd?

  20. We’re upset because our ownership just took much more than what it’s going to cost to sign Heyward from Cobb County taxpayers. To stick us with BJ again and trade Heyward under those circumstances isn’t forgivable. I don’t understand why you’re not upset.

    It never occurred to me that the anger would be this irrational.

    The Braves didn’t take whatever they “took” from Cobb County taxpayers to pay payroll in 2015-16. They took whatever they took in order to build a new stadium. They’re not going to dump the money they secured to build the new stadium in 2015 payroll. They’re going to use it (and a lot more, from some magical as of yet defined place) to build the stadium and the surrounding infrastructure. At that point, if that is successful, they may very well take the new money streams generated by parking and year long rents in the stadium/mallpark area and add that back into 2017 and beyond’s payroll. (Or they may just pocket it for Liberty.)

    Regardless, the new stadium financing has absolutely nothing to do with whether they could extend Jason Heyward in 2015 or 2016. It’s just not the same money.

  21. @25 The anger has been irrational over at least 3 threads and 7 thousand posts. You would have thought that Heyward discovered a cure for cancer or something.

  22. Actually most of the anger has come loudly and repetitively from just a few posters. I think most here are leveled headed about it, it’s just that the few who are most opposed to the offseason so far are posting prolifically and are drowning out the rational debate at times.

    It’s become a bit tiresome honestly. I enjoy the rational debate and try and just page down the rest.

  23. Concur with Dusty @27. It’s a squeaky wheel, but damn does that wheel keep squeaking loudly.

  24. Couple of relevant items from Law’s chat today:

    Matt (Northern VA) Hey Keith, the only explanations I can think of for Atlanta’s signing of Markakis is that: 1. they intend to trade Bethancourt and start Gattis at Catcher; 2. they have inside information that the DH is coming to the NL faster than people believe; or 3. they are going to trade Justin Upton (potentially big mistake) or Evan Gattis. So two questions: Which seems most likely to you? If the answer is #3, what is an appropriate return for Upton? Thanks!

    Klaw (1:03 PM) Number 3. I don’t think they get much more for Upton than they got for Heyward, maybe even a tick less.

    Danny (Brooklyn, NY) Some at Fangraphs believe that the Mariners would trade Taijuan Walker for Justin Upton. Thoughts?

    Klaw (1:35 PM) I believe they would. His value has dropped dramatically in the last year.

    Cindy (NC) What has caused Taijuan Walker’s value to decrease so much in the last year?

    Klaw (1:43 PM) Delivery changes, shoulder issues, mediocre performance. And he left the AFL with some questions about how/why.

  25. Let’s see, in this thread Sam mentioned Heyward. Then csg mentioned Heyward. Then Anon21 mentioned Heyward. (None of these people are on the record as being very upset about the Jason Heyward trade.) Then csg mentioned Heyward again, and essentially asked those of us who are still smarting from the move what for? Then Adam R responded. Then Johnny and Dusty and Sam and Smitty got real smug about how we go on and on about Heyward.

    But yes, congratulations all around for identifying the problem.

    Edit: Forgot to mention Dan @15 but since it was actually hilarious I think it’s okay if it stands apart.

  26. @31

    Didn’t know Taijuan was in the Arizona Fall League this year. Ryan C (or whoever)–where can we find those stats?

  27. Dan’s post was funny.

    Edward, really dude? Over the past several threads you have personally been responsible for 6999 of the posts about Heyward. All someone had to do was just say something slightly less than fawning and you’d deluge everyone with every metric in the book.

    I’m just perplexed that Sam was perplexed at how deep the cult of Jason has been ingrained in some of y’all.

  28. My confusion was over the cause, not the depth. I simply never considered the idea that people thought the money secured to build a new stadium would be spent on players prior to the stadium breaking ground.

  29. It isn’t my fault no one wants to talk about our lack of decent left-handed relief pitching!

  30. Grant Brisbee uses an article on Nick Markakis as an excuse to make a joke at BJ Upton’s expense:

    “Andrelton Simmons could suddenly turn into a high-average, high-OBP player and become one of the best all-around shortstops we’ve seen in years. Freddie Freeman could turn from an excellent young player into a superstar — Joey Votto in his prime. Chris Johnson could hit again. B.J. Upton could … I don’t know … yell “LOOK OUT FOR THAT OPEN MANHOLE COVER” when walking with some of the good players.”

  31. My phone buzzed and MLB At Bat alerted me the Braves have named Chad MacDonald special assistant to the general manager.

    Out loud at work I commented, “which GM would that be?” I would think it would be a tad difficult to be a special assistant to someone that doesn’t exist.

  32. Does the Markakis acquisition make more sense if we don’t trade Justin or Gattis?

    What if the Braves are totally unimpressed by what is being offered for either of them?

  33. @42, I think it does. I think the Gattis to LF talk is to make teams think we’re not trying to trade him. He’s a butcher out there. Hard to be sold on Bethancourt as an everyday catcher just yet. He may turn out to be Henry Blanco.

  34. Justin is by far the best AB available. We’d be foolish not to move him and just get a draft pick when he walks next offseason. He’ll get $150m as a FA

  35. I think when John Hart said there “endless possibilities” he was being honest. I think somewhere in the Braves offices there is a “war room” with a giant, two-wall spanning flow chart of “what we do if X.” One node is “offer Lester what we can, see if he takes the hometown deal.” “If YES, trade Mike Minor to unload BJ Upton.” “If NO, pursue packaging Gattis+BJUpton.” Etc. The “dominoes” metaphor is a bit stretched most of the time, but I do there there are seven, eight, nine different paths the Braves have sketched out, and some of them require seeing what other teams do and what those moves do to their competition’s needs and willingness to trade young cost controlled talent.

  36. Currently, we most likely only have an idea of 3 of our 8 everyday starters come next season at a certainty. Those being:

    Freeman 1B
    Simmons SS
    Markakis RF

    C, 2B, 3B, LF, and CF are completely up in the air at this point on who will be there from day to day. I have no issue with the debating if certain signings are the right moves, or what type of trades we should be looking for as the winter progresses as long as everybody respects each other. The thing is, we have no idea what the actual makeup of this team’s everyday players is going to look like come spring training.

    I, for one, would love to see us maximize our lineup potential. We are a not a big budget team and shouldn’t play like one. I would have no issue at all if by the end of winter we had 4 to 5 everyday starters and were platooning 3 to 4 other positions depending on Left or Right handed pitching. One obvious position is catcher for platooning. It is the reason it makes sense to either move Gattis to LF or trade him. Due to no DH in the NL, it makes no sense to have one of your best offensive weapons in a spot that is only going to give you 110 to 120 games a year tops.

    I do not mention pitching here because I have a feeling the Braves will be just fine in that department.

    Basically, the Braves finished in the bottom 10 in the MLB as a team in AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS. I have no issue with us trading away home run hitters and 1 year of a hometown favorite if we can replace that with more OBP and less strikeouts whether it be through an everyday player or two platoon players and keep a strong pitching staff or make it stronger in the process.

    Pretty much the blunt of all this rant is we have no idea if we will be a winning team or losing team next year. We will have to wait and see. We should reserve judgement on those arguments.

    We were a losing team last year with Heyward, J. Upton, and Gattis. Why does anybody think keeping them around would change that fact? To be honest, they can even trade Freeman, who is my favorite player, if it makes the team better. I just know I watched a team play with no heart the last month of the season last year. I do not want to watch that again. Why not see if a change in faces and philosophy can do us some good?

  37. @48, I think we have a pretty good idea that we’ll be a losing team again in 2015. It’s hard to see how we’ve gotten better, or how we’ll get better.

  38. I think we still have enough wild card bubble team potential to waste money on guys like Markakis while attempting a half-hearted rebuild.

    @48 Does anyone else feel like managing a handful of platoon situations is asking a little too much from Fredi?

  39. The fact that we kept Fredi is mind-boggling to me. Much more so than the Heyward trade. The only rational reason has to be that we’re not going to put together much of team next year, so might as well let Fredi take the fall.

  40. @49

    It’s hard to argue with you at this point as I agree that we would appear to have gotten no better or worse so far, but there is still a lot of time left between now and the start of spring training. There are plenty of moves that could be made or not made.

    For one, I would have never thought we would have been a losing team last year, and it happened. So, who is to say that the opposite cannot be just as true? Stranger things have happened. I will reserve some optimism for the upcoming season until I see just how our team plays early on next season with whoever we do end up fielding as players.

    Everyone has to admit, it is pretty exciting having no idea what our starting team could look like next year at this point.

  41. @50

    I forgot to factor in the Fredi situation in the platoon thought process. Maybe, he will decide to stop playing the hot hand and actually stick to traditional platoon knowledge and play right handed and left handed match ups properly.

  42. FWIW I haven’t minded the Heyward back and forth. I mean, I willfully read a season and a half’s worth of debate regarding no one’s favorite player Yunel Escobar being traded for AAG. And a multi-day, multi-thread accountant fight.

  43. @54, Seriously. This is also nothing compared to the debate over Fredi’s basic competency at the start of his tenure.

    We don’t have to talk about it, but I think the idea that the Braves don’t know what kind of windfall they’re in for, re: the stadium, right now, is beyond naive. You would think investing more in the team now could pay greater dividends down the road. But we know that’s not how ownership views the team. I don’t see how any of this is even debatable.

  44. Keith Law thinks we could get at least T.Walker for JUpton. Some now predicting JUpton brings back 2-3 Top 10 prospects. 😀👍

  45. Yeah, I don’t know what else we’re supposed to be discussing. It’s the hot stove league time of year.

    More generally, the move to Cobb puts an end date to my fandom in its current form — I won’t be going to nearly as many games, and my attachment will lessen. It was my hope that the team would try as hard as they reasonably could to contend in the interim, that another banner of some sort could be hoisted downtown, but the decisions being made lead me to doubt that that will be the case. It’s frustrating to witness.

  46. I’m on record, but I don’t really understand the big grievance about moving the stadium from Summerhill/Mechanicsville, twelve miles north to Cobb Galleria/Cumberland. I understand folks who live within walking distance there in Grant Park finding it an inconvenience, and I get Cobby-Cobbs being butt hurt over the tax base boondoggle of it all, but as an Atlantan who doesn’t live in Grant Park or Cobb County, it makes little to no difference to me where the stadium is located. It’s 7.5 miles away from me either way.

  47. Since y’all are on the topic of the new stadium, does anybody know the specific layout of the field? I do not care about the shopping aspect. I am talking about the actual field makeup.

    The reason I ask is because this could come into play with what type of team Hart and the rest of the front office build over the next few years. Obviously, they are thinking pitching which makes me think this is not going to be a hitters park.

    This leads me to believe we start focusing on one big stat which is OBP.

    I could see us fielding a team where our HR leader is sitting around 20 per year such as Freeman and everyone else is in that 10-15 HR a season range with hopefully very good OBP. I would love to watch games with manufactured runs. The wait for a HR to win the game method has become quite old over the past few years.

  48. @4 That’s a silly thing to hold against Hart. From what I hear Houston wanted no part of BUpton, that was just what Hart told them it would have taken for them to get Gattis. I don’t see how that’s a strike on Hart that they didn’t go for it.

  49. @jonmorosi: Orioles, Rangers, and Padres among the teams still involved in the trade market for Braves outfielder Justin Upton.

  50. On the location, Marta wasn’t ever gonna connect to the Ted. If there’s hope for the new location, that’s all I could ever ask.

    And on the topic of things we can stop talking about, maybe we can postpone calling the manager an idiot until he starts managing again.

  51. Kind of interesting that the Markakis signing reminds me a lot of BJ Surhoff. Markakis’ career stats over 9 years are .290 .358 .435 .793. Surhoff also came from Baltimore and his career stats over 19 years were .282 .332 .413 .745. That’s pretty much what I’m expecting from Markakis next year. As I said, not great, but I can live with it.

  52. Zac, I’m pretty sure Marta and CCT will be servicing the new stadium. If you haven’t looked yet check out the map on this page. Also, the time lapse video of the construction so far is pretty neat.

  53. MARTA does not serve Cobb County. The only transit option mentioned in that article is a shuttle from Cumberland Mall.

  54. It looks to me like Marta will go just inside I-285 and then there will be shuttle service over to the ballpark. I know this is similar to the way things are at the Ted. On the map it looks like Marta might deliver to the edge of the “circulator area” which I think might be some kind of people mover. At this point I am willing to wait and see whether they do it right or screw it up before I pass judgement. Hopefully they will have learned from the “train to shuttle bus” nightmare at the Ted that it is the wrong way to do it. The article might only mention the shuttle but the map says “CCT/MARTA”.

  55. I think MARTA will eventually have to go to the new park. It’s really dumb not to.

    MARTA’s bus service to the game sucks.

  56. @4, 62 – Not knowing at all what the details of that deal were, or what other deals may be being worked on involving the players that would have been involved in that deal, or knowing who proposed that deal and who backed out of it, saying “I know they don’t all work out–but at some point, if you’re GM, you gotta make it work out. Call it strike one” is definitively… what did you call it? Garbage analysis.

  57. It’s not like MARTA doesn’t want to increase its service routes, especially in a potentially high-volume direction like Northwest. It’s that Cobb County has refused to let MARTA in and continues to do so. Specific reasons for that would cross the no politics line, so I’ll just say it’s because Cobb Co. is the actual devil, and the Braves team that I’ve personally invested a crap load of time and money in over the last half decade made a massive, opaque, ethically suspect, tax-payer-screwing deal with it. That and the fact that suburban ball park building AND suburban shopping mall building went out of style in the 90s (incidentally the same time that the braves brain-trust’s baseball philosophy did) are the reasons why I’m personally opposed to the new Atlanta (sic) Braves Field at Gargantuan Shopping Mall Park. I hope it’s a huge cash cow for our owners who will reinvest literally none of it in the local community.

  58. I called it trash analysis, but I wasn’t trying to coin a phrase, so “garbage analysis” works just as well.

    The facts here seem irrecoverable for now, although, as I indicated in @66, the impression I got was that a discussion about moving BJ Upton with Evan Gattis to Houston didn’t die until after it had gained some traction. It’s possible I read the piece entirely wrong, in which case you can definitely take what I said and throw it in the garbage. Anyway does anyone know?

    At the same time, anyone in charge of the Braves 25-man roster right now has got to get rid of BJ Upton–not at any cost, but at any reasonable cost. Every time something almost works out but then doesn’t get done there are bound to be extenuating circumstances, even very reasonable extenuating circumstances–the Braves would eat too much of the contract, the players we’d get back wouldn’t be good enough, we’d have to package a piece we’re not interested in packaging, etc.

    But when the buck stops with you, you only get so many excuses, reasonable or no, for failing to accomplish clear mission objectives.

    So, as I said in @4, that report makes me skeptical of Hart.

    What part of that is garbage? Or do you just bear me a grudge?–in which case, get over it. I really like what you write here.

  59. @Ken_Rosenthal: Names in play, according to sources and reports: Gregorius, going to #Yankees. Greene, going to #Tigers. Ray, going to #DBacks. Others, too.

    This has been finalized according to Rosenthal now

  60. I have no grudge against you. I once fought on your side during the Great Heyward Wars of the 2014 Season. I just think it’s silly to start counting strikes on Hart because of things we can’t possibly know about deals that didn’t (or haven’t yet) happened.

  61. Yeah, it could make all the sense in the world for MARTA to go to the new ballpark (and it does BTW), but it won’t matter unless Cobb County lets MARTA into the county, which right now has about as much chance of happening as me being named President of the United States this very second. Now, give it a year or two of the new ballpark being open and the resulting traffic disaster and it’s possible Cobb’s position could start to soften a bit, but right now, it’s a non-starter for them. (And as was previously stated, the reasons are myriad and political.)

  62. If all it’s going to take to get MARTA to the Braves is for Nick to be the Commander in Chief let’s just swear him in already.

    Nick you might have to settle for being a figurehead while the governing of the country gets carried out by your cabinet and chief of staff. You good with that?

  63. Since the stadium is literally right on the county borders it would seem like a station just south of the 75/285 exchange would still be pretty darn useful. I don’t think Cobb could do much to stop that either.

    It’d be a 10+ year project anyways. Maybe my kids will get to enjoy it.

  64. I’m surprised the Michael Kohn deal isn’t being talked about more here. A pitcher with major league success but with control issues is a huge get for McDowell and Co. We’re really building our bullpen on the cheap. That Walden deal is looking better by the day.

    I haven’t weighed on this, and after all the conversation, I’ll make it very brief: I do think the Markakis deal is directly associated with the Heyward deal (obviously because Heyward’s departure created the need for Markakis). The Braves became convinced that Heyward was not going to become a superstar, because they may have gladly paid him $20MM per plus if he was the superstar some think he is. By signing Markakis, the Braves are signifying that they feel like Markakis is a similar player to Heyward (less range), but will cost $10MM per less. I think that’s a very fair statement for the organization to make, and I’m comfortable with the deal.

    We’re evaluating a painting before it’s complete. What we do with BUpton/JUpton/Gattis is going to make or break the offseason. As of right now, I’m pretty happy with Heyward/Walden for Markakis/Miller/Jenkins and a salary wash.

  65. To be fair, the steadfast refusal to integrate stadium location with rail service in a city that HAS RAIL SERVICE is a longstanding embarrassment, with many responsible parties.

  66. Here’s a stupid question. Should we go after Jedd Gyorko? He sucked tremendously last year and is tied to the Padres in a long-term deal that they may be regretting. He had plantar fasciitis last year, which may partly explain why he was so terrible. And we badly need a second baseman, and the Padres are even poorer than we are.

    Is that nuts?

  67. @81

    Eh…that’d be alright, I guess. It would be a salary increase and I’d get to live in a cool house, at the very least.

  68. but with a worse security system ZING!

    It is not nuts. It sounds alright to me. Can he play third if Peraza’s banging on the door?

  69. The Markakis deal seems good to me, but I liked the BJ deal too. Now let’s trade the Good Upton for some good young players.

    For all the Heyward fans out there – Markakis is rockin’ the deuce deuce, FYI.

  70. @84, why is this a stupid question? I would take gyorko in a dump (meaning it doesn’t take much).

    ’15: 2
    ’16: 4
    ’17: 6
    ’18: 9
    ’19: 13 (30 yrs old here)
    ’20: 13 with buy-out of 1 mil

    The only really bad season on the contract is the 30-year old season ($13 mil). There is a buy out on the 31-year-old season. The 29yo season at $9 mil could be a stinker too.

    Otherwise, we would be paying him an amount commensurate with a super-sub type player like infante.

    On second thought, I’ll pass. I’m just too risk averse.

  71. Okay, so I’m reading on Ken Rosenthal’s Twitter feed that Markakis has a bulging disc in his neck?

  72. My good wife had plantar fasciitis a few years back. It was unpleasant to say the least. She’s a tough old bird, but she suffered.

  73. It’s particular odd to count a theoretical deal that wasn’t made during the season, when Frank Wren was the GM, against John Hart.

  74. I suspect Cobb will be perfectly happy with MARTA bus shuttles running from Fulton to WFF on game days. Their arguments have never been about keeping people with enough money to go to baseball games for fun out of their precious territory.

  75. MARTA isn’t going to do Cobb any favors, since Cobb contributes no revenue. Not to mention that the Cobb commission chair has already called MARTA to the stadium a non-starter.

  76. #92 – Yes he did.

    Why not…

    Add Brandon McCarthy 3/36
    Trade Upton for Walker and Miller
    Trade Gattis/BJ for Fowler +
    Trade CJ/Minor for Prado


    Freeman 1B
    Peraza 2B
    Simmons SS
    Prado 3B
    Miller LF
    Fowler CF
    Markakis RF
    Bethancourt C

    Add build a very strong bench. Bullpen looks strong

  77. @82 Apropos of nothing, Kohn is from my alma mater, College of Charleston. But you are correct, looks like we are building a bullpen like you are supposed to build a bullpen.

    Gyrko has a good minor league record. The Pads sure did commit early on him. One year of service and they signed him to a multi year deal???? I don’t get it.

  78. Everyone wants to play moneyball – if you have a good young player then the obvious thing to do is give him a long deal that maximizes team control. That’s would everyone wants, right? Up until the point where you realize that the young player actually sucks and now you have him for 7 more years.

  79. @Ken_Rosenthal: Sources: Markakis leaning toward surgery to repair bulging disc in neck. Recovery time up to 12 weeks. #Braves knew of possibility.

    @Ken_Rosenthal: Before signing Markakis, #Braves viewed report of specialist who did independent evaluation of him. Confident he will be ready Opening Day.

  80. @100


    How many years does Jonny Venters need off before he can pitch 80 innings for us again?

  81. I’m worried about Sam, guys – I think he might need neck surgery too after performing the gymnastics required to continue to defend the Markakis deal in light of his impending operation.

    Seriously though, all I can do is laugh at the fact that we paid 4/$44 for a guy who wouldn’t be worth that even without requiring major neck surgery as his first act on the team. Either the medical staff is incompetent or upper management is. Possibly both. Maybe we could trade for Ruben Amaro as GM? Is Steve Philips still available?

  82. Having survived a disk surgery myself, I am not too concerned to hear this. As long as the surgery happens sooner than later I think it should be ok.

  83. Didn’t Gattis have some bulging disc issues this year, too? Can we save a little by booking their operations on the same day?

  84. Also, was the #22 for Markakis an intentional “eff you” to a huge segment of the fan base or an accidental one?

  85. @108, I think the plan is to repair Shaft Paint’s neck with the broken remnants of his hamate bone.

    At least that way he’ll be able to turn his head for power.

  86. Well let’s everybody just pray to st. whatshisface the operation works out. Mungo? Agnes? Help me out here.

    I think I still like Markakis in a vacuum–I just wish he was on the 2014 Braves instead of the 2015 ones.

  87. @112, I can see the ad campaign now: “Nick Markakis: giving ‘grittiness’ a whole new meaning!”

  88. @mlbbowman: The #Braves have known Markakis might opt to have neck surgery. The view is that this could benefit him in the long run.

    @mlbbowman: Markakis has dealt w/ a herniated disc in his neck the past two seasons. He says it’s caused him to sporadically deal w/ a stiff neck

    @mlbbowman: More Marakis on his neck: “It’s just a precautionary thing. We’ll get it taken care of and it shouldn’t be a problem.” #Braves

  89. @60, if it’s going to be a pitchers’ park, power should be more important than OBP compared to a neutral park, not less. If a park reduces the chance of all hits by 5% or whatever, it reduces the number of times you string together two or three hits to score a run by a lot more than it reduces the number of homers, so homers should wind up being responsible for more of your total runs.

    I guess this assumes that all kinds of hits are affected similarly (which might result from factors affecting how easily batters see the ball) as opposed to homers more than other hits (which might result from unusually shallow or deep fences). It’d be interesting to check this by seeing what % of runs result from homers in extreme hitters’ parks and extreme pitchers’ parks.

  90. His sentenced was reduced by half because he ratted out Brycie Boy’s tailgating habits with that big truck.

    Keep squawking, stool pigeon.

  91. @115

    Wait…so which of Mungo’s patronages works for the Markakis surgery?

    Our choices are salmon, Glasgow, people accused of infidelity, and protection against bullies.

  92. Count me in on being a fan of bringing in Aoki, we could build an offense of Gattis and Freeman surrounded by speed/defense/contact guys. It couldn’t be a worse offense than last year.

  93. @109

    LOL…please tell me you guys are joking!

    Oh yes…the bestowing of Jason Heyward’s non-retired jersey number to a player who actually plays for the Atlanta Braves is surely a massive outrage! I mean, I’m so mad about it I can hardly see straight! What kind of morally bankrupt…nay, outright evil person would take a number that is available on their baseball team and give it to a new player who actually plays for that baseball team??? I know Heyward didn’t do nearly enough to warrant retirment of his number, but surely a yearlong grace period where we could all mourn his loss, have candlelight vigils and wear black armbands with the number 22 on them would’ve been appropriate! Jesus, our front office is nothing but a bunch of cold, heartless bastards! I haven’t even raised the flag at my house back to full mast yet!

  94. Do we know if Markakis’ name will be on the back of his #22? What if it just says “not-Heyward”?

  95. @129 – It’s about 129th on the list of affronts – only merits mentioning because it’s so completely tone deaf. Plenty of fans are thrilled to see the second coming of Jeff Francouer gone from the team and replaced by a good ol’ hometown boy, plenty others are majorly sad about it and will now get one more reminder of who could’ve been in RF everytime Markakis turns to chase down a double that dropped behind him.

  96. The best part of next year will be the “Heyward would’ve caught that” posts in every game thread.

    Fwiw, this place is dealing with it relatively sanely. Over at TalkingHeyward they are going to need heavy therapy.

  97. @131

    So honest question: Would you rather have an actual Major Leaguer wear the number or have it soiled by a crappy AAAA minor leaguer? Also, were they honestly supposed to not give Markakis No. 22 when he asked for it and it was available because a couple fans can’t bear the sight of it on anybody but Heyward?

  98. I have some trouble with the $/WAR calculations since they don’t meet at zero. I’m not really offering a better way, but I think a linear formula won’t be terribly accurate.

  99. The best part of next year will be the “Heyward would’ve caught that” posts in every game thread.

    Everyone was supposed to say that in 2008, after Andruw Jones’ departure. Maybe, like Jones in 2008, Heyward will suck so bad no one will notice.

  100. Mark Kotsay in 2008 actually isn’t a terrible place to set one’s expectations for Shaft Paint’s first Braves season.

  101. Heyward is going to wear 42 AND 44 in STL, because he’s better than both of them combined, what with the dWAR and all.

  102. Defense is for wussies anyway. Anyone who cares about catching the ball is a girly sissy man. Waiting til it stops rolling and then picking it up makes you look so much cooler.

  103. I can’t help it, I wanted Joey Terds in RF. We’re going to suck. At least give me funny names to work with.

  104. Not sure if it was here, but I argued with someone over whether Werth was a jerk. I believe his argument was that he was quite popular and my argument was that he 99% of fans haven’t met him.

    105 in a 55. By man who’s 35 years old. I win.

  105. There is a beautiful stretch of road out here where you can really open up a machine. Rural, straight, visibility, nothing but pine plantations. Even graded just right. I’ve been known to touch about that driving home in my toyota under the right conditions. On the beltway? Um, no.

  106. @128

    Revenge of the Hamster?

    Werth is just helping meet the monthly quota so that the good people of Virginia don’t get ticketed themselves. A hero, I tell you.

  107. Did many of you guys watch the Oregon game last night? As they noted on Game Day, playing your conference championship game on Friday night at 9 pm when your conference is arguably not getting the national respect it deserves and a quarterback is the front runner for the Heisman but needs exposure, is not the best of moves.

  108. As NoVa native and still a frequent visitor, two things have been true since my youth – an empty Beltway in the middle of the night and a fast car/motorcycle is a strong temptation, and it’s just dumb as hell to speed in Virginia.

  109. My mind can’t get past this one insane train of thought that goes against the whole reason for calling up Bethancourt: Gattis is a solid (or passable) catcher and Bethancourt has the speed to be a decent left fielder.

    I know, crazy, but I mean, ya know?

  110. Well, Bethancourt’s bat can’t play in LF, obviously.

    Apart from that piece of Harteasoning, Bethancourt’s only redeeming trait seems to be that he’s fabulous defensively behind the dish. Take that away, and I’m not even sure if you have a lifelong minor leaguer. Bethancourt at C + Gattis in LF will probably be better than Gattis at C + Bethancourt in LF and if you’re picking the latter, you may as well just go Gattis at C + anyone else in LF.

  111. You’ve laid out why it won’t happen, and you’re absolutely right, but it’s funny to me. I think the defensive gap would be much wider in left, just from how he runs and how his tools came together behind the dish last year.

    With the emphasis on pitch-framing and range, I can’t imagine you’d be getting the most out of Gattis in left. He’d be a middle of the pack hitter in left, and likely the worst fielding left-fielder in the game.

    P.S. “funny to me” is not my back-handed way of saying they should do it.

  112. You’ve made the argument for trading him. Some team with thoughts of competing might find a lot of value 3 or 4 years of a masher at the DH spot, and might find themselves with a couple of good, well-rounded, but less masherly young players who are either blocked by a star, or replaceable by a lesser player already under that teams control.

    If you can turn Evan, a masher without a suitable position, into two quality everyday players, with similar team control, who, while not as good with a stick as Gattis, can both hit AND field, and do that playing in a position we presently run out an automatic out (CF, 2B, 3B) you have to consider it seriously.

  113. I think he has a suitable position, he just needs to DH a couple times a week. I know they love that he’s cost-controlled, but he’d be worth a lot to an AL-team. If they believe Bethancourt is the future, I’m not sure he’s worth much to the Braves.

  114. I avoid the four-letter sports network like the plague, and I never watch “coach press conferences,” but I happened to be getting my haircut today and they had that on the TV. Man, did that guy come across as a loon. Not quite the “did someone forget to give this guy lithium today?” loon that ended up at the bar next to me at lunch, but major goof.

  115. @154,
    Goofy press conferences aside, I unfortunately reckon that Florida made a great hire. Signed, a Georgia Bulldog and CSU Ram who is having a terrible sports week.

  116. Conflicted Department:
    Why is it that I’m sorta rooting for FSU in this game? What’s wrong with me?

    Didn’t catch the UF press conference, but I don’t mind seeing a major rival changing coaches all the time. It won’t have quite the negative recruiting effect it had on Tennessee, which doesn’t have as many top players inside its state, but it’ll hurt a bit, especially if that guy doesn’t win immediately.

    One of my favorite things in the world to do is drive from Philly to NYC via NJ Turnpike in the middle of the night. Very little traffic & you can just blaze your way to the Lincoln Tunnel. Of course, I’m usually playing “Nebraska” or “Darkness on the Edge of Town” for the full effect.

    “New Jersey in the morning like a lunar landscape…”

  117. “Oh how I hate … .”

    That’s why I’m pulling for FSU. If Wisconsin had cooperated, I would have been pulling for the North Avenue Trade School team.

  118. #159
    Right, it’s probably more of an anti-OSU thing. And though it’s fairly rare that Tech ever plays a game this big, it’s still tough for a UGA grad to actually root for them, even if they’re playing the Criminoles.

  119. The allegations are horrifying, but his other incidents: BB gun, filling his water cup with soda at BK, stealing crab legs, and swearing.

    If the worst one is false, he has a hilarious track record.

  120. The worst one is almost certainly true. The only uniform he should be wearing is prison orange.

  121. Jimbo’s getting in touch with his inner Les Miles.

    What is he doing throwing the ball with the lead, up 2 scores? The only way you can lose is by stopping the clock with incomplete passes. He must be going for style points.

  122. I’ve never rooted for Ohio State in my life. But I hope they jump the Criminoles. And I sincerly hope Jameis Winston blows out a knee and never plays another down. He’s the poster boy for horrible entitled pampered jocks.

  123. Local and University police departments cover for athlete transgressions in every college town in America, including Atlanta, Tallahassee, Athens, and Columbus.

    Rooting against Winston for his transgressions is one thing, but then giving money and publicly supporting institutions that foster and continue to maintain systemic control over local justice is entirely ironic. For example, here are some links to the 2002 charges against 4 UGA football players indicted in a gang-rape case against a college aged girl:

    And the Title IX judgment:

    “Tiffany Williams alleges that in 2002, she was gang-raped by several members of the University of Georgia football and basketball teams. The athletes, Tony Cole, Brandon Williams and Steven Thomas, were indicted but not convicted of criminal charges. While they were suspended from their respective teams (after or near the end of their college careers), the university did not levy other sanctions against them because by the time judicial hearings were held, the athletes were no longer enrolled. Williams brought charges under Title IX against the University of Georgia, the University of Georgia Athletic Association, and a number of individuals including the University President, the UGAA President, and the coach of the men’s basketball team. A district court granted the individual and institutional defendants’ motion to dismiss. But, last year, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals partially reversed the district court, ordering it to reconsider plaintiff’s Title IX claims against UGA and the UGAA.”

    Say what you want about Winston and the complete joke that is the Tallahassee PD, but please realize that this is the rule, not the exception.

  124. Ohio State has the weakest argument, but the Buckeye apologist are all over the place today. Virginia Tech at home. Case closed.

  125. I’m not an Ohio State apologist and honestly I would rather they didn’t get in, but based on winning their conference championship against a top 15 team, I would put them in. They have one more win than the other 2 schools and conference championships are supposed to be an important factor. Definitely huge controversy and a reason there will be a push for 8 teams, but the final spot is a coin toss.

  126. No moves yet from San Diego? Please, y’all, fabricate some exciting new rumors to entertain this empty old mind.

  127. I like seeing us obviously use Heyman to set the terms of negotiation for Upton. And given that we’re seeking a Shelby Miller type of ML ready piece, I guess we are actually going for it?

    I do go back and forth on the best way to engage in baseball fandom, but with college football it couldn’t be more obvious that just sitting back and watching the mayhem unfold really is the ticket.

  128. I don’t think FSU showed enough to hop TCU. Ohio State showed a ton, but it’s still just one game.

    If winning was enough, then there would still be some semblance of sportsmanship in the fourth quarter. I think a state school will be complaining loudly regardless.

  129. Well that to me is sort of the story here – it’s clear we haven’t reached Peak Football yet. Even with Tuesday and Wednesday being the only night it’s not on, there is still room for growth. I don’t anticipate the 4 team playoff to last long.

  130. Alabama versus Ohio State with however long to prepare should fulfill my fondest wishes for Urban and OSU. Roll Tide!

  131. Oh come on. TCU is a great football school and had a fantastic season! It absolutely deserved a playoff berth. Of course, it’s also my sister’s alma mater.

  132. Saints down seventeen points after eight minutes. That’ll happen when you turn the ball over on 2/3 of your offensive plays.

  133. What’s the consensus on Stephen Drew? Is he in serious decline, or was last year an injury-induced mirage?

    Because if he can swing a little bit, he makes all kinds of sense. Maybe play him at 2B all year, or once Peraza is ready he becomes a lefty you can mix in at 3B/SS/2B.

  134. We can probably get him so cheap that we can just ditch/demote when the experiment fails and install Peraza.

    I can’t imagine he’ll be more than a stopgap/lightning in a bottle/eventual CJ platoon partner. But that has value.

  135. So that weekly voting thing was just for fun.

    @184 If you give him a year to prove himself, I can’t imagine he’d want much.

    That’s the strongest I’ve ever pushed for a Drew.

  136. They went with the money programs. It’s TV and travel-fan revenue at the end of the day.

  137. So in what way is this new system supposed to be an improvement on the BCS (except for the 4-team playoff)? At least with the BCS, it was clear what criteria were important.

  138. That’s what Gosselin and Corban Joseph are for, until Peraza is ready.

    EDIT: I didn’t realize it, but they both project for similar value next year. People on here might actually prefer Joseph because he’s projected to hit better.

  139. But they’re still hovering right behind the Falcons!

    Seriously, the NFC South needs to be thrown in a sack and dumped in the river.

  140. The more I think about it, the more I think TCU and Baylor deserved what they got. The non conference schedule for both teams ranked among the worst in the nation. If you’re not going to play a conference championship game, it would be wise to play a few decent out of conference games. Buffalo, Northwestern State, and Samford just won’t cut it. Interesting that both teams and Alabama played West Virginia.

  141. tOSU played Cinci, Navy, Kent State and Va Tech and went 3-1. The B12 is a far tougher conference than the B1G.

  142. Maybe so, but they also chose to go without a playoff game. This is a listed criteria of the selection committee. Their motto was one true champion. They ended up with anything but.

  143. The B12 was prohibited by the NCAA from having a championship game. It’s the only major conference where every team plays each other. You don’t have teams like Mizzou who don’t play anyone and then show up at a championship game.

  144. Well as the only B1G guy left here since the guy that drank Keystone Light and yelled as loud as he could doesn’t come here anymore, I disagree even if I don’t have a cogent rejoinder.

  145. Apparently Shelby Miller is a replacement for Aaron Harang in more ways than one:

    Harang was one of the most successful sac bunters in baseball last year, going 9 for 10.

    But Shelby Miller was a little better, going 13 for 14.

    (From the Flat Bat Awards 2014)

  146. Stephen Drew really makes sense if the Braves are planning on keeping Peraza in the Minors until June-ish. He traditionally hit RHP well and would start at 2b until Peraza is ready, in a platoon with Gosselin. From June on, he could be platoon partner with CJ. MLBTR predicts a 1 year/7MM contract, and the Braves should pass on that price. A 1/4MM with incentives sounds fair.

  147. Worried about Sam (or me) but I love his whole scenario.

    Now the key to it all is getting rid of BJ’s contract. Without that, not sure I’d think anything was a good idea. Get ‘er done, Hart!

  148. Football topics:

    ububba – you are to be blamed for your Tech Hate. Pretty sure that’s part of the Plan. Btw, please put a beatdown on Petrino and the boys.

    Only three sent to NY (Amari, Gordon and Mariotta). Actually prefer this to sending everybody who had a great year.

    UF made a good hire. Dammit.

    Surprised that Spurrier is coming back. Anybody know what the have coming back? In all the Old Ball Coach victory lap, everyone forgot to really look at what SC lost.

    Pretty obvious that the Committee’s main mistake was to publish their rankings for the three (or whatever) weeks. Doubt we’d have this bitching if they’d just released the final selection. As it is, they kind of established parameters of this ongoing debate.

    Too bad for five and six (and I hate that OSU and the Evil One got in) but there’d be a lot less angst if Sunday was the day they announced. Sure there’d be some after the fact knashing of teeth, but that’s a lot better than setting themselves up to show some inconsistentcies that can be endlessly debated.

    Falcons showing some fight Gotta give them at that.

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