The Jadeite Jewel: The Amazingness Continues

Andrelton Simmons standing on a baseball field with a glove on his hand is a web gem waiting to happen, and this winter Braves Journal is going to determine which of his gems is the best of his best—his Jadeite.

To see the previous posts in the series, click here.

Round 2: The Video Game vs. Who Needs Feet?

The Video Game

Editor’s pitch: The video is worth a thousand words of commentary, so just watch it again. Okay, now watch it one more time. Can a mere mortal even bend like that? He’s covering the bag, bends against his momentum to catch the ball, and then flips back to tag the base. The baserunner was already running and was nearly on top of him…and he got the out. This play defies the laws of physics and it made his pitcher laugh in disbelief. The cherry on top is he tried to turn the double play and was disgusted with himself that he couldn’t. Unbelievable.

Last round: The Video Game beat The Blind Basket Catch 51-5.

Who Needs Feet?
Note: The audio is very low, but this is the best clip I could embed. There’s a better-quality clip here.

Editor’s Pitch: Simmons wasn’t playing deep, so just making this stop was impressive and that alone would have benefitted his pitcher by keeping him out of a first-and-third/one-out situation. But even though he was nearly lying on his side with his momentum taking him toward third, Simmons is never content to just put the ball in his pocket and he had to try to make a throw. The throw was not only accurate and hard, it was accurate and hard enough that it enabled Uggla to turn the double play and get the Braves out of the inning. And he threw it from his leg. Are you kidding me?

Last round: Who Needs Feet? beat Who Needs Eyes? 33-22.

45 thoughts on “The Jadeite Jewel: The Amazingness Continues”

  1. So the voting for the previous two plays was tied as of an hour ago–is that how it ended?

    I’m going Video Game for this one; I don’t think I’ll ever see it again.

  2. my vote is for ‘who needs feet’. all of these are so amazing. the ‘video play’ might have a little more flair because it is so unusual and bang-bang at the 2nd base bag but i think ‘who needs feet’ is actually the more difficult play. to get two outs from that after the difficulty of the initial stop and getting enough on the perfect throw from that position to enable uggla to turn two is just an incredible feat.

  3. @1 I need to check on the results of the last post. We might need to have a runoff with those plays. That was an incredibly close contest.

  4. Keith Law says we have 6 of the top 100 prospects in baseball, and that doesn’t include Christian Bethancourt, who always seems to find his way onto these lists. Sims is curiously MIA

    24 – Peraza
    47 – Foltynewicz
    66 – Albies
    82 – Jenkins
    93 – Ruiz
    100 – Fried

  5. FanGraphs on the Braves new look farm.

    1. Ozhaino Albies, SS
    2. Rio Ruiz, 3B
    3. Max Fried, LHP
    4. Jose Peraza, 2B
    5. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
    6. Lucas Sims, RHP
    7. Christian Bethancourt, C
    8. Ricardo Sanchez, LHP
    9. Braxton Davidson, RF
    10. Tyrell Jenkins, RHP

    Three of the top five, five of the top ten, eleven of the top 20 were not in the system this time last year. This does not include Shelby Miller, who is listed in the “under 27 MLB talent” category.

  6. Let’s make it a trifecta! Gondeee’s list from right after the White Bear was put onto that ice floe:

    1. Sims
    2. Folty
    3. Fried
    4. Peraza
    5. Ruiz
    6. Jenkins
    7. Bethancourt
    8. Davidson
    9. Banuelos
    10. Hursh

    I’m pretty pleased at how high the national folks are on Albies; adds another touch of optimism. I wonder if he can play defense the way Simmons and Schoop can?

  7. Where the players rank relative to each other doesn’t matter as much as the objective evaluation. Albies is at the top of McDaniel’s list, but that doesn’t necessarily prevent him from being not so promising…thankfully, he’s ranked as a 60 for future value. So, equivalent to Kimbrel/Teheran/Wood/Miller.

  8. Between Peraza, Albeis and Simmons, the middle infield should be manned with very good defensive players who bring a decent if not superstar level hit tool with them. Between whichever of Peraza or Albeis loses the long term comp for 2B and Mallex Smith, the org should have a good young, defensive CF pipeline with a good hit/run tool as well. Between Ruiz, Jace and Dustin Pederson, the org should have a solid 3B option in a couple of years. Between whomever doesn’t stick at 3B, Dian Toscano and Braxton Davidson, the team should have a solid LF option in a few years.

    There is a method to the madness.

  9. Let it be known that Fangraphs values projectability much more than Major League ready, and therefore ranks players with little to no professional experience much higher on their lists, if the player is young and dominated the league. This approach seems way too risky for my blood, and any list that has Albies over Peraza is putting to much value into players’ numbers at the lowest of levels. Having Albies rank higher than Peraza after 2015 should he go to Rome and put up the same, or better, stat-line than he did in ’14 makes sense. Just don’t do it after 1 year of Rookie ball.

  10. The fastest lineup in the MLB of 2018 with Peraza, Albies, and M. Smith with guest appearances from Jace Peterson and Eury Perez.

  11. Next to the future value ranking for players on the Fangraphs prospects list is ranking for risk. Albies is listed as a 4, as in high risk, on a 1-5 scale.

    McDaniels doesn’t care about stats at low levels. All he ever talks about are tools anyway.

  12. McDaniels doesn’t care about stats at low levels. All he ever talks about are tools anyway.

    I think this is the proper approach until they get to AA/AAA.

  13. Beachy’s agent just put out some interesting news. Apparently he’s not going to sign a contract at this time because his arm is getting stronger every day. He wants to wait closer to spring training.

    Not sure how he benefits by waiting.

  14. Maybe he wants to go to FL or AZ and have showcase sessions to show the improved strength. How long would he need to wait for ATL to be an option again?

  15. @9

    Or, most of those guys suck and we’re not competitive for a long time. There is risk in putting faith in 20 year olds.

  16. Bizarro Braves, Summary and Conclusions

    When I first posted on the Bizarro Braves, I did not mention what sent me down that road in the first place. Now, I think, is the time for that.

    During the flurry of trades, I was of the opinion that the Braves were in a position to compete in 2015 if they’d just stuck with their guys–an opinion I expressed and argued here, but without much concrete reasoning. Still, it was an opinion I had confidence in–so I went looking for a reason with a little more to it than “I just think so.” And I made some discoveries.

    2013 Braves “starters” (e.g. 8 players with the most plate appearances: 17.9 WAR (16.9 oWAR)
    2014 Braves “starters”: 16.5 WAR (15.1 oWAR)*

    A little drop-off, yes? But hardly a reason to drop from 96 wins to 79 wins. That’s the kind of slump in performance that drops us to something like 92 wins.

    2013 Braves starting pitchers: 12.7 WAR
    2014 Braves starting pitchers: 12.9 WAR

    That’s a wash. The top-4 guys in innings in 2013 (Minor, Medlen, Teheran, Maholm) were better than their 2014 counterparts (Harang, Teheran, Santana, Minor); but Wood, Floyd, Hale, and one-start from James Russell did better as a unit (thanks to Alex Wood) than the Hudson, Wood, Beachy, Garcia, and Hale unit from the year before.

    2013 Braves bench: 2.5 WAR (3.2 oWAR!)
    2014 Braves bench: -1.3 WAR (-1.3 oWAR)

    Okay, that is a huge difference. The 2013 bench had one excellent part-timer, 3 other solid contributers, and 3 guys who were just absolutely fine for back-end bench players. Nobody in that whole unit dragged the team down. In 2014 Laird, Doumit, and Bonifacio were quite bad. Uggla was horrible. Bethancourt was bad. Schafer was bad when he played for us. Pena was doing a nice job until he got hurt; Goose Gosselin was the only saving grace.

    The biggest difference between the 2013 Braves and the 2014 Braves was the bench.

    Well, the bench and the bullpen.

    2013 Braves relievers: 9.5 WAR
    2014 Braves relievers: 4.6 WAR

    The main culprits here are Carpenter and Avilan, who were both significantly better pitchers in 2013. Relievers are both more volatile (except for Kimbrel) and less expensive (except for Kimbrel) than everyday players or starting pitchers, so it definitely possible to improve them without breaking the bank.

    So setting aside the bullpen, which is ever a strange beast, the Braves needed to do the following things to compete in 2015:

    1. Get 2 starting pitchers
    2. Fix 2nd base, which had been a black hole for 2 years running.
    3. Have faith that Johnson and Simmons are better hitters than the abysmal ones they were in 2014
    4. Have faith that BJ Upton is better than the abysmal one he was in 2013
    5. Redo the bench in such a way that the back-up catcher is (hopefully) the worst hitter of the bunch.

    -Second base was essentially taken care of before I started–especially if the club had kept Ramiro Pena. Between Pena, Gosselin, and up-and-coming Jose Peraza, I guarantee we had at least a just-below-average major leaguer, which would have been a huge upgrade.

    -I showed my work earlier with the two new starting pitchers, but the key assumptions are 1.) Teheran and Wood continue to be excellent, but with significantly more innings from Wood; 2.) Between Minor, Harang, Floyd, Banuelos, Hale, and Martin we’ll get a combination that looks like 2 league average starters for about 400 innings; and 3.) The fifth guy(s) just has to not be terrible.

    (Worth Noting: I don’t think this team would survive a season-ending injury to either Teheran or Wood.)

    -The bench and BJ and CJ are two sides of the same coin. To hedge against the worst sides of the Letter-J squad, we need players we can platoon with them and take away 20 to 40 starts per year. Dian Toscano is a good signing who could have been a great signing if we were actually doing anything this year. Keeping Gosselin around is a solid move. Seeing if a formerly successful veteran can bounce back in back-up duty (Callaspo) is a good move.

    In short, the pieces were there. I’m convinced the Braves had an easy, within-budget path to the playoffs in 2015.

    With a strong performance in the 2015 playoffs we could have sustained our success by bolstering the club through free agency.

    With a dismal regular season performance we would be almost exactly where we are now–with our chances at competing by 2017 dipping from “reasonably possible” to “anyone’s guess”.

    With a near-miss on the playoffs or an early exit (wild-card game loss/swept out of nlds) we definitely can’t win in 2016, and we can almost certainly kiss 2017 goodbye and rebuild with our sights set on 2018.

    So–which is more worth it…one last reasonable shot at glory or getting one year ahead on the prospect game? Because that’s the choice I think we were looking at.

    And I think the real life Braves bungled it.

    *B-Ref literally changed Heyward’s WAR between yesterday and today, adjusting it up. Don’t ask me why. I don’t have any idea.

  17. If Heyward had played CF for us, which he can better than BJ, we would’ve found him indispensable–you know, strong up the middle, and such…

  18. @17, I don’t disagree with the overall sentiment, but the only nit I’d pick is that “getting one year ahead on the prospect game” is not quite true. We’d get pretty much nothing for Heyward and JUpton in your scenario, and that would likely drag out the length of the “prospect game / rebuild” phase.

    That said, I’d wager that the rebuild phase is going to take a long time anyways, and probably won’t even work, so might as well try to win one more time in 2015. That’s why I agree with you on a high-level.

  19. So–which is more worth it…one last reasonable shot at glory or getting one year ahead on the prospect game? Because that’s the choice I think we were looking at

    Two thoughts in response to all of this “Bizarro” stuff you’re doing.

    First, I think you’re greatly exaggerating the “Bizarro’s” 2015 “one last reasonable chance at glory.” What you’re talking about is in fact “one last reasonable chance at inching into a WC berth and trying to shoot the gamut of coin flips between that play-in game and a WS championship. That’s a misuse of the term “reasonable.” At best, your 2015 lineup is a WC contender who hopes to “get hot at the right time.” That’s not a reasonable chance at glory. That’s wishcasting.

    Second, you’re drastically underselling the “one year ahead” of the “prospect game.” Because of course, if you don’t trade Upton and Heyward this year, you don’t get anything but a mid-round comp pick for them. You certainly don’t get high level talent that parks at AA and AAA. By waiting that “one year” you move your rebuild schedule from “2-3 years” to 5-7 years. You move from being rebuilt and competitive again around 2017-18 to something closer to 2020. At which point you’ve gone 3-5 years in your brand new park with a terrible product. Therein lies the path of Pittsburgh.

  20. That said, I’d wager that the rebuild phase is going to take a long time anyways, and probably won’t even work, so might as well try to win one more time in 2015.

    I don’t really understand this level of pessimism. This franchise has shown a strong history of being able to identify and develop talent, particularly pitching talent, when it’s not being run by Frank Wren’s brother.

  21. @21 – This despite the fact that our farm system and scrap-heap pickups generated a tremendous amount of pitching production over the last half decade corresponding pretty much exactly with Frank Wren’s tenure. Wren was a pretty phenomenal GM when it came to creating winning teams, which is sort of the whole idea of GM-ing, at least from a fan’s perspective.

  22. @21, another poster mentioned that all the prospects may suck and we’d be bad for a long time. We don’t need to hit on everyone. If Peraza, who is highly projectable, pans out, and one of Peterson, Peterson, and Ruiz become a league-average 3B, and just one of our top 5 pitching prospects becomes a top-3 starter, we are there. We might also be totally free of the Johnson/Uggla/Upton albatrio by 2017 and be able to add another bat or throw money at Price/Zimmerman.

    Everyone could bust and we could lose one of our frontline starters to injury, but short of that, I think we’ll be in at least the WC race in 2017-2018. I’d even give us an outside shot at 85 wins in 2016.

  23. @mlbbowman: The #Braves have signed LHP Eric Stults to a Minor League deal and invited him to Spring Training.

  24. “By waiting that “one year” you move your rebuild schedule from “2-3 years” to 5-7 years. You move from being rebuilt and competitive again around 2017-18 to something closer to 2020.”

    You assume much in this scenario. We got a higher Keith Law ranking, nothing more. Most likely 2017-18 the team will still be owned by Liberty who will still do only the bare minimum and we’ll still likely be irrelevant.

    “At best, your 2015 lineup is a WC contender who hopes to “get hot at the right time.” That’s not a reasonable chance at glory. That’s wishcasting.”

    Didn’t we just watch a world series with two teams who were “wishcasting”?

    Look, my issue is they could have started all this process of rebuilding the infrastructure and still tried to be competitive. You are talking like we traded for can’t miss, high level prospects which we didn’t. We traded for guys with upside but tremendous amounts of risk or just random guys the scouts kinda liked who could turn into someone league average someday. Max Fried will have gone 2 years without pitching, Folty has never shown the ability to throw strikes but because he throws 97 he’s somehow a top prospect. Tyrell Jenkins has never thrown more than 100 innings in any season ever and he’s 22.

    I disagree with the entire strategy of the offseason. Trading hitting for pitching in 2015 does not make sense particularly for an organization already heavy on young pitching and incredibly thin on any sort of impact hitters. Management made a call that they didn’t think it was worth chasing that wild card wishcast and I guess that’s their prerogative, but to me it looks like a giant fuck you to Frank Wren. These are the same guys who’ve run the team since 1990, and they haven’t ever really changed their philosophy. Wren did things they didn’t like and was probably a tool about it so at the first chance they fired him, tore down everything he did and gave themselves a few years of leeway before anyone asked any questions to them about it.

  25. @21,with the notable exception of impact bats, which even if Ruiz pans out would only put him on the periphery of. At some point we will need to grow/acquire/buy a slugging OF or two. Hopefully Kevin Towers will stay a GM someplace.

  26. @20

    We don’t see eye to eye about the value of the wild card, but that’s a good point about the rebuild timeline–I’m not quite sold on it yet though, mostly because of my lack of understanding.

    Namely: how long does it actually take to rebuild a team? I haven’t been close to a franchise having to do it in my lifetime, since I was 6 in 1991. I wonder what the process actually looks like first hand–Sam or anybody have some perspective?

    I do think we’d be able to pull in higher-level minor league talent in the bizarro exercise, just not in as much volume. Minor and Kimbrel aren’t going to bring the return that Heyward and Justin got–so in my mind what we’d be doing is reducing our margin for error, but not putting success completely out of reach.

  27. @25, I agree with you on trading bats for pitching, or really just trading for pitching prospects in general, especially with this team. I’m a little less worried, though, because I think we got a 3B in there somewhere and I think we have our 2B (peraza), so your infield is set. In terms of buying additional bats, LF is the easiest spot to fill, so it’s either Braxton Davison or a FA if he busts. I would’ve much preferred getting another OF from Houston or SD.

    Speaking of frank wren, I can’t abide his total lack of concern for walks. He never showed me that he cared the least but about them. He’s also never had a good notable free agent agent signing. And that goes back to his Albert belle catastrophe in Baltimore. How many catastrophic signings does one get before his career is over?

  28. @26, We’re all about on base, ’bout on base, no slugging. All about on base, ’bout on base, no slugging…

    #sorry #notmyidea

  29. @27 It depends on the team. It took Cox six years to get the ’91 team. The ’82-83 teams took seven or eight years to pull together. It took Connie Mack ten years to build a decent team after he took apart the 1914 one.

  30. @29, ICWYDT

    @30, those braves were an example of a team built through years of shrewd drafting. We already have a good young core (Teheran, wood, Simmons, freeman, kimbrel, ?minor, ?miller) plus a few guys who were already top-100 prospects (sims, peraza, bethancourt). Then we traded for several more prospects who were ready for upper level minors.

    Building from scratch through the draft takes more than 5 years bc of the dwell time at rookie/A/A+ and the bust rate

  31. You are talking like we traded for can’t miss, high level prospects which we didn’t. We traded for guys with upside but tremendous amounts of risk or just random guys the scouts kinda liked who could turn into someone league average someday.

    You’re right, but you know what? We now have a lot of what we’ve got, and what we’ve got isn’t bad at all. We have so much, at this point, it sounds like handwringing when one says, “But what if they all don’t pan out????” You might as well ask what if they do all pan out.

    And a healthy, productive Minor should get us the biggest return of all.

    Seems like everybody agrees, they could’ve tried to go for it in 2015, but it would mean gambling on a wildcard spot and a more protracted rebuild that doesn’t fit with the new stadium timeline. It’s not a completely invalid strategy, but if you say that, you’ve got to acknowledge that what the Braves did this offseason isn’t a completely invalid strategy either, especially because the stadium situation is what it is. Aside from Markakis (and so maybe you could argue that this is all for naught because they can’t seem to learn their lesson), they’re executing this strategy about as well as could be asked for, given the assets we had to trade.

    I’m happy that outside observers seem to like what we’re doing on the farm.

  32. Yes, Hart has a good core to work with. Those other teams started with next to nothing. It looks like it shouldn’t take as long as those ones. But who knows? There could be some bad breaks and we could be eventually staring at a rebuild of a rebuild.

  33. Eric Stults, based on what I’m reading, seems to be the type of pitcher that the Braves are somehow able to turn into an effective big league pitcher. Aaron Harang, Darren Holmes, Chris Hammond, and others come to mind as mid-30’s pitchers who miraculously had their best years in Atlanta. I’m sure if I spent more time thinking of people outside of the 2002 bullpen and last year’s rotation I could think of more. Actually, listing all of the scrapheap pitchers the Braves have produced since the turn of the century would probably make me feel better about the current roster we’ve assembled.

  34. @33 And then those players could have bad breaks and we could be eventually staring at a rebuild of a rebuild of a rebuild. AND THEN THOSE PLAYERS could have bad breaks and we could be…

    When will that pessimistic logic loop end?

  35. Edward,

    Bobby Cox was hired as the GM in 1986. He began immediately to trade ML level talent (Doyle Alexander) for minor league talent (John Smoltz.) Over the next five years, the Braves were execrable. Worst team in baseball bad more often than not. Cox used those terrible finishes to draft in the top five for years running. He built on existing talent (Glavine, Smoltz via trade, etc) to acquire folks like Chipper Jones and Steve Avery. It took him six years, until 1991, to build a competitive team that way.

    So that’s my assumed timeline for a “one last shot at glory” 2015 followed by “nothing to trade, so the only way to rebuild is to be so bad you get top-5 draft picks.” What they call “tanking” in the NBA. Or what the Nationals did from 2005 until 2011. You need years to of high draft picks, then you need years for those picks to develop in the minors (they all start at Rookie or A ball, not in aa/AAA like the guys we traded for this winter.) And of course, you have to hope most of them pan out. And they need to pan out at the same time, so they’re coming to the big leagues in the same short time frame. If they don’t, then you’re stuck in the Pirates, 1994-2014 cycle.

    I’d far rather punt 2015 and get high level talent back now.

  36. Didn’t we just watch a world series with two teams who were “wishcasting”?

    If your buddy wins the lottery that doesn’t make playing the lottery a good retirement strategy.

  37. @29,, kudos, sir, kudos.

    Played on a bill with Wayne Hancock last night. Incredible band., and he can still sing.

  38. @29, well now I’ll be whistling all day

    @37: Trading Mike Minor and Evan Gattis isn’t “nothing to trade”–and having 3 draft picks before the second round starts is a nice little leg-up, too. But I think the main difference between the 1986 rebuild (as you’ve described it) and the Bizarro 2016 rebuild is that we’ll already be starting with Freeman, Simmons, Teheran, and Wood (all of whom, if we wanted to, we could also trade). Maybe they won’t be as good in 2018 as they are now, but I doubt they’ll be worse than average major leaguers. And (for better or worse) we would also have some money to spend, if we wanted to.

    In that respect, I think that bizarro rebuild resembles our current rebuild much more than it resembles a rebuild from absolute scratch.

    Which doesn’t mean I actually know how long it could conceivably take–only that the starting point isn’t as dire as all that.

  39. @ 27,

    Some thoughts.

    The Braves drafts of the 2000’s were heavily influenced by the “draft and follow”, which no longer exists. Medlen, Freeman, I can’t remember how many more. The Braves were the acknowledged masters of this. So, that draft route is closed.

    Another thing is that the continual changes in draft and reserve clause, etc. means that eras cannot be compared. Only rebuilds since the current 3 minimum, 3 (plus occasionally 1 more) arb, then FA can really be compared.

    The “Bobby Cox” rebuild was mostly based on international signings and high school draftees. The Braves drafted very few college players then except the junior college guys that were usually “draft and follow.” High school guys have higher upside, but their “floors” are lower. Minor was one of the first college players to get a high level pick slot from the Braves, ever.

    And, the “Bobby Cox rebuild” actually would not have been over the top if the free agent signings of Schuerholz had not been added in at that time. And Turner was willing to be one of the top payrolls in baseball, so Schuerholz got to sign a lot of guys that the 2017 team will not be able to sign.

    Without the 1991 signings, or the Maddux signing I think the team still would have been competitive by 1995, just not as good. By then you had Chipper and Javy and Klesko somewhat and Gant and Justice and you would have kept Pete Smith to go with Smoltz, Glavine, and Avery.

  40. We will see what ownership invests in the on field product in 2017 in 2017. I don’t think we’ll ever be a top-3 payroll again, barring a billionaire owner buying out Liberty, but I think people are way to pessimistic on our actual payroll situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *