BRAVES 3! BLUE JAYS 2 (by coop)

I’ve always liked the Toronto Blue Jays, mainly because I like Cito Gaston.

Cito wasn’t a special player, although he did make the all star team once as a Padre. To me, Cito just seemed a special man. This judgment stems from a single statement he once made.

When he was a Brave, Gaston was Hank Aaron’s roommate. Cito was asked what he admired most about Aaron, Gaston didn’t say, “That guy can hit,” or “He’s the best baseball player I’ve ever seen.” Instead, Gaston said, “He taught me how to be a man and stand on my own.”

Memories: the world and I were younger back then, but Henry taught a bunch of us how to live with dignity.

Thanks, Cito, for the memory; and thank you, Mr. Aaron. You were as good as any player I ever saw, probably as good as anyone who ever played the game. More importantly, you stood, against death threats and other evil, a brave man on your own, with humility and grace.

Julio Teheran pitched well at home, go figure; but he caught the Shelby Miller virus and doesn’t know how to win. Still, the game was tied when Julio left, so he didn’t get the loss.

Andrew McKirahan and Brandon Cunniff both retired the two hitters they faced, and the game remained tied at two going into the bottom of the seventh. Nick Swisher walked. Are the Braves going to win? Alas, Andrelton makes contact, and tonight he contacted into two — count ’em — double plays.

Top of the eighth: Cunniff’s still on the mound. He strikes out tonight’s villain Justin Smoak, who homered off Julio in the fifth to tie the game; but he walks Russell Martin, and Fredi brings the hook. Mark Marksberry? Really? What hath Fredi wrought?

Strike out! Ryan Goins is gone! So is Marksberry, as Fredi goes to the pen, one more time again, and pulls out … PETAH! Peter Moylan’s in to face Kevin Pillar, who hits it to Simba. What a dumbass. Aussie, Aussie. Oy! Oy! Oy!

The dream lives. Tonight’s the night THE BRAVES WIN. Maybe. We do have to score, you know; so let’s see. Jace Peterson leads off. Nope: groundout to second.

Neck’s next. Come on, Nick Markakis. Woo! Seeing eye single to left.

Daniel Castro’s at the plate. Good morning, good evening, good night. Sit down, Daniel.

Freddie Freeman: what more could you ask for with the go-ahead run at first? Anything else, evidently. Freddie pops up to center, and the game’s still tied going to the ninth.

Arodys Vizcaino’s in, and he’s throwing smoke. No strikeouts, but three outs on nine pitches. The pen’s been great. Let’s win this thing!

Adonis Garcia almost gets robbed by Darwin Barney, but Smoak can’t handle the hop. Runner on first for Aloysius Josephus Pierzynski. Whap! Third hit tonight for A.J. Runners are on first and third, nobody’s out, and Cameron Maybin’s at the plate.

Todd Cunningham’s running for Adonis and Christian Bethancourt runs for A.J. Betty steals second. Now runners are at second and third. Dear God, it’s going to happen. The Braves are going to win.

Cameron bounces to a drawn in second baseman. One out. Runners still at second and third. Simba’s up. Hard shot to right. Braves win. The Braves win.

57 thoughts on “BRAVES 3! BLUE JAYS 2 (by coop)”

  1. Exactly two years ago, my brother asked me who my favorite players on the current team were, before he went on a trip to Atlanta. Heyward, Simmons and Medlen, I replied.
    When I checked the scores on this morning (being in Europe), all three names showed up in the headlines. Too bad those were headlines for three different games.

  2. Andrelton Simmons
    when pulling his pickins are slim uns
    go the opposite way
    and be our hero for at least today.

  3. Two of Andrelton’s medium-ish grounders worked out today! And the bullpen didn’t even THINK about blowing it! What a great game! :-D

  4. @3

    Yep. Day by day Heyward is pricing himself out of my (already far-fetched) hopes and dreams for 2016. I expect Medlen to be a pretty good pitcher over 190 innings next year. See all them leaves must fall down.

  5. As I’ve said all along, the one utterly inexcusable move the fucking Johns made in this rebuild was failing to bring back Medlen. I thought as time went on it would make me less angry but alas that’s not proven to be the case. The guy is going to be a frontline starter next year and we could have had him for some pocket change and what we paid this year for that turd Trevor Cahill. Not to mention the untold millions we are going to need to overspend on a free agent starter this offseason.

    “CLEVELAND — Right-hander Kris Medlen gave the Royals exactly what they needed on Tuesday night — 6 1/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 win over the Indians.

    And evidently Medlen did so without anything near his best stuff.

    “When he came into the dugout, I asked, ‘How did you feel?”’ Royals manager Ned Yost said. “And he said, ‘Man, I was fighting my mechanics all night.’ And I thought, ‘That’s a good sign. Imagine what he’ll be like with good mechanics.'”

  6. That’s right, isn’t it. It would have been a pretty low-risk, low-cost move to re-sign the guy. It’s not like we were moving him to re-stock the farm.

  7. When I was about 10, I played on this really bad Ft. Benning-league basketball team — I think we were called the Lakers — and we won only 1 game all season.

    But when we did win that game, nobody knew what to do. Sheer awkwardness. We shook the other team’s hands and just stared at each other for a minute. We really weren’t accustomed to that feeling. We were too confused to celebrate.

    That’s kinda how I feel about beating the Blue Jays right now.

    But do I dare say it? Hey, let’s go for two…

  8. I can understand not wanting to gamble millions on Medlen when he was going to miss most of 2015 and may not have ever pitched again. The statistics on 2nd TJ’s are not good. But yes, it seems like it would’ve been a better use of money than the Cahill turdsperiment.

  9. Of course! Last night was one of the few nights where I’ve paid precisely zero attention to the Braves game and what do they do? They beat a first-place team on a walk-off hit!

    Just to get our schedules worked out, I’d like to inform the team (and all of you) that I will be paying nearly no attention tonight, as well. So Shelby Miller can feel free to finally win a game and actually complete a no-hitter this time, while he’s at it. There’s a chance I’ll watch at least some of the game on Thursday, though, so we have to go back to being absolute dog shit on that day.

  10. @14-We’ve already had this discussion. The sample size for second TJ’s is far too small to make definitive assertions about its alleged increased risk and once you adjust for the fact that many of the pitchers that have had second TJs were older and already in decline, the statistics don’t even suggest that 2nd TJs are inherently any more risky. That should hardly be surprising: as the doctors that have performed them have argued, apart from age-related factors, there is no scientific rationale for believing a second TJ would be any riskier than the 1st, assuming the elbow is otherwise structurally sound (as was the case with Medlen).

  11. @17, there’s a lot to agree with there, but a few nits to pick. The part about taking on all the 2016 money in Bourn and Swisher is a bit myopic. I think that was a rare “can’t lose” trade that has a high likelihood of turning into an additional prospect or two for us next year.

  12. The Bourn/Swisher deal makes it harder to do stuff in 2016. We traded time/money at the expense of an extra roster spot – we have two dead weights on the roster rather than one.

    Looking at them as “trade chips” in 2016 is a tad optimistic. They are a few notches below Johnny Gomes…

    We’re going to have to go way over budget to avoid another 90 loss season.

  13. @18/19.

    We’ve got Bourn and Swisher on the books for $15 million apiece next year. That’s what BJ Upton and Dan Uggla made in ’13 and ’14–so it’s enough to hamstring us. I don’t know whether we’re going to try to do some big ticket free agent shopping a year ahead of Operation: Compete, but it would really, really blow of we had a guy we liked and those two contracts are the reason we can’t sign him.

    Related: According the Mouthpiece’s tweets today the Braves likely won’t look to add a big-ticket free agent this off-season. (He was especially adamant they wouldn’t go anywhere near Heyward.) So maybe it won’t make one damn bit of a difference. Anyway, it better not.

  14. @19

    I’m amazed at how awful Michael Bourn has become. He’s only 32, but he has a 35 OPS+ with Atlanta. We were going to hand him “All The Money” three years ago, and he’s playing like he’s the 8th or 9th best outfielder in the system. That’s a real head-scratcher. If he continues to play the way he has, then yes, it’s a bad trade. Swisher, on the other hand, has played pretty well, and does give us a backup 1B who can actually hit instead of a Joey Terds-type player who can’t do much well. Swisher is simply not “a few notches below Jonny Gomes”. Jonny Gomes had a 81 OPS+ with bad corner outfield defense, couldn’t play first, and is still owed $3M for 2016.

    And to nitpick (though I probably agree), but if we don’t know what the 2016 budget is, how do we know what we will have to exceed? I know we’re not too far off in our thinking, but with the math I did a couple weeks ago, I felt like the Braves had enough money left from the 2015 payroll to 2016 payroll to add some pieces to be competitive. With the list of things that I posted last night that I felt needed to happen, getting 3 or 4 off that list of 11 would make a .500 team. So, while I see, say, 82 losses and a .500 record, I’m not sure I see 90+ losses.

  15. Round these part, pre-Nats arrival, Cito was vilified in the DC-Baltimore area for failure to insert local boy Mike Mussina in the All-star game being held in Baltimore. Mussina sort of showed him up by warming up in the 7th or 8th inning in the bullpen, and Cito never put him in and made some unkind (to Orioles fans’ thinking) remarks afterwards.

    For years, there were CITO SUCKS t-shirts that came out in Bmore whenever the Jays came to town.

  16. @20- No, we don’t.

    We owed Chris Johnson about $20m over 2+ years (remainder of this season, plus ’16, ’17 and a $1m buyout) we traded him for two players owed $38m over 1+ year, and we got $15m to help pay them. That means we owe them $23m over 1+ year, which is likely less than $20m for the pair next season.

    The purpose of the trade was that our financial outlay remained the exact same, but expired one year earlier, and provided us two players who could potentially rebound and be traded, instead of just the one in Johnson.

    And @19 – just saying these guys are a few steps below Jonny Gomes doesn’t make it true. You have a habit of taking the lowest possible outcome and stating it as fait accompli. We started this season with Kelly Johnson, Jonny Gomes and Alberto Callaspo. We turned those guys in to players. Swisher and Bourn have every chance to be better players than those three. Besides, they don’t have to be. Only one out of the two has to be better than Chris Johnson.

  17. @23, ok change my statement to “likely won’t be as good as Gomes”. Sure they could both have a resurgence. But it’s been pretty hard to watch Bourn playing with that giant fork sticking out of his back.

    That deal was all about getting rid of dead money quicker. The “potential prospect” angle is like 2% of the overall justification for doing it.

  18. @21, I think almost all the money will go to the bullpen and one veteran starter. Whether that gets us to .500 or not will mostly depend on whether Olivera is what they hope he is, and if we can find positive value in LF/CF.

    For the sake of discussion I’m guessing the budget is $100M – $110M. If we go way higher then the near-term outlook improves.

    What we don’t know at the moment is whether the lost revenue in 2015 attendance will impact the 2016 thinking. This was either baked into their models, or it wasn’t. It might be better for us as fans if they didn’t expect things to fall off a cliff, and decide to spend extra to keep us interested.

  19. Whatever Swisher is, he’s not something you get an actual prospect back for if you trade him. He gets you org filler or an extreme lottery ticket, at most. More likely he reverts to his projection and becomes another piece of dead weight next year. He’s working on two straight years of negative WAR.

  20. Currently, we are even money in the CJ-Swish/Bourn trade.

    All Swisher has to do is hit in the first half of 2016 as he has for us since we acquired him. He’s way negative defensively, but if he hits, his bat has value to an American League team. If someone takes on a few million of his contract and flips us a C-prospect, we come out ahead in dollars and assets of where we were with Chris Johnson.

  21. @26

    If the budget is between $100-110M (which is a big difference, btw), then that is one expensive bullpen and veteran starting pitcher. By my number finagling, it looked like the Braves were committed to $88M if they bring Minor back (with Miller getting bumped to $5M or something). If the Braves have the same payroll they did this year, they’ll have $11M to spend. They are already bringing Grilli back (and hopefully healthy!), and they’ll have Withrow, Vizcaino, Simmons, and Paco Rodriguez coming back. And of course, there might be some players already in the system that can pitch (Lord knows we made enough trades to get enough possibilities). So you have $11M to throw at a veteran starter and maybe an established setup man like Jim Johnson. I think you just gotta hope the offense ends up decent between Maybin/Smith/Swisher/Bourn/Peterson/Castro/Olivera filling the myriad of holes in the offense.

  22. And forget the money side of the trade. We wanted Hector Olivera, which means that Chris Johnson’s time in Atlanta was up. We badly needed LF production, so we took a flyer on the Swisher/Bourn cocktail. One side of it has worked out (and we have reason to believe it’ll continue), and the other one has inexplicably turned into Melvin Upton Jr. without the curse words. Bourn is way too young to be done (I would think), so I can’t imagine some rest… or something… will get him going for next year.

  23. The beat writers that follow the team have already said that we aren’t going to pursue a top-flight starting pitcher but we’ll try to add a veteran to the mix. So best-case is what…2014 Aaron Harang? I’m not sure what kind of price range they are looking at. If they go cheap, then some of that money has to go to LF, right?

  24. @28, that’s a lot to ask of him. August 2015 is the only month in the last two year’s he’s had so much as an average batting line. But I also heard that an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant.

  25. @31, You have to think he’d hit close to 70 doubles playing his home games at Coors. Get it done, Johns.

  26. I wrote this a few weeks back and it still rings true ( As of right now, all indications are that the Braves payroll will be around 110 million next year, which means there’s 28.5 million to spend.

    That 28.5 million has 5MM of both Swisher and Bourn’s contracts paid forward, discounting their individual prices to 10MM each instead of 15MM (and this was the leaked deal, according to numerous sources and also what Cot’s Contracts has down in their record books). The Braves could eat 5MM of each of Swish and Bourn’s contracts, enticing a team to take a flier at 5MM on the veterans and the $ rises to 38.5 million.

    However, the one stipulation in that trade that has not been answered fully is the $ sent to Atlanta, which the last leak reported it was 15MM, not 10MM. Albeit, Cot’s has 10 down.

    Regardless, Bourn or Swisher aren’t attractive 15MM, but that’s not what their 2016 contracts entail. They come in at 10 million each and could be had w/o eating too much $. If I were a desperate team, either player at 7.5MM isn’t a bad gamble.

    The 28.5 million also becomes 34 million if the Braves decide to not tender Minor a contract.

    And then there are a ton of what ifs, including trading Maybin, Teheran (mistake, IMO), and even Markakis.

    With all that being said, there’s money to be spent and Sharks and Gordons to be had!

  27. In his last 10 starts, Shark has given up:

    4+ runs: 9 times
    5+ runs: 6 times
    7+ runs: 3 times
    10 runs: 1 time

    But he’s only 30 which is like 27 in hitter years…

  28. Olivera sitting tonight. DOB said its because another lefty is starting. Someone help me make sense of this?

  29. @39, He’s going to learn to hit a baseball the way the boys in River City, Iowa learn to play music in a marching band. The think method.

  30. Well obviously you have to sit Olivera against lefties, because he’s a righty, and…yeah I got nothin’.

    The Olivera “debut” couldn’t be going any worse. Fortunately for the Braves, I think the dozens of us on this blog are the only fans that are paying attention.

  31. Nick Swisher will be 35 before next season and is following up his 73 wRC+ season last year with a huge 81 this year including his nice hitting with Atlanta. The month of nice hitting with Atlanta is the thing that doesn’t look like the other things, here. There’s zero reason to expect anyone to want that at any price other than prorated-portion-of-major-league-minimum-following-DFA next year. I could see a dead-cat bounce from Bourn, but unless Swisher visits Barry Bonds’ doctors and then also gets a talent transplant, he’s toast henceforth.

  32. Swisher hasn’t hit for power except for 2 wind blown homers at Wrigley. His Atlanta production is mostly walks.

  33. I can not believe we are arguing about the Swisher/Bourn for Johnson trade. At least I can’t believe we’re arguing it on Bravesjournal, rather than like, the AJC or something. The trade was no lose. You can disagree about exactly how much upside there was, but to complain about it is just… postively AJC’ean.

    We had one player we owed $20m to over 2 years, who would have to rebound to be worth anything in trade.

    We now have two players we owe $20m to over 1 year, who would have to rebound to be worth anything in trade.

    + The money stayed the same, comes off the books 1 year earlier.

    + Our chances of dodging SOME of the $20m have doubled, in that we have two properties that may rehabilitate, instead of only one, and at the same cost. And each of the two properties, if rehabilitated, has equal or greater value to the one we gave up, if his value were rehabilitated.

    – We are using 2 roster spots instead of 1.

    Kelly Johnson was signed to a minor league deal with a spring invite. Nobody wanted him on a major league contract. Alberto Callaspo was signed for $2m a year after he put up 450 PA’s of 67 OPS+.

    We turned Callaspo in to Uribe, and turned Uribe and Johnson in to Rob Whalen and John Gant.

    Now, neither of Rob Whalen or John Gant is the next Clayton Kershaw. But owning them is superior to not owning them. Johnson and Callaspo were bought with very little money, on one year deals. They weren’t here a year ago, and they weren’t going to be here next year.

    To complain that Whalen and Gant aren’t real prospects, is to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or at least the enemy of the incremental improvement.

    If either of Swisher or Bourn turns in to another Whalen or Gant, then the trade was a CLEAR winner. If Swisher and Bourn both play out the string, or both end up getting released, the trade is exactly the same as releasing Chris Johnson. The only way the trade wasn’t worth making is if Chris Johnson rebounds in to a real major leaguer, and neither Swisher nor Bourn does. I just don’t see how that’s the bet you’d want to make.

  34. Nobody is arguing that it wasn’t a smart move. It does have some negative impact on 2016 flexibility. We’re trying to figure out how we don’t lose 90 games next year…

  35. @46 The way it is shaping up they have to hope that 4-5 of the guys acquired in the firesale become major league players in order to not lose 90. So far we have Shelby Miller and nothing else and it looks like management is going to sign next year’s class of Kelly Johnson and Jonny Gomes again to fix all the problems so we shouldn’t expect much.

  36. @46 – If the team is going to improve in 2016, its going to come from the starting rotation. It’ll be because a) We sign some kind of starting pitcher, whether its a Price or Zimmerman, or a JA Happ or a Bud Norris, or somewhere in between, b) Miller is for real, c) Teheran gets back to normal, and d) one or two of Wisler, Foltynewicz, Banuelos, and Jenkins puts up a high 3’s, low 4’s ERA instead of a mid 5’s.

    @47 – An additional $10m in 16 (and a savings of $10m in 17) effects our ability to sign Callaspo, Gomes and Pierzynski types. But if the team wanted to spend $200m on Price or $75m on Alex Gordon, a $10m commitment in one year can be worked around.

  37. even if we were going to go after a big-name FA this winter, would the front office have much to gain by saying so right now? If they proclaim that we are going after a Cespedes-type, and then it doesn’t happen, then it seems like we run the risk of looking either incompetent or like cheapskates (rather like that brief period when the Mets were the butt of a bunch of jokes after they mysteriously pulled out of the Gomez deal). your assessment of their competence may vary, but I guess I understand keeping expectations low right now, no matter what the real plans might be.

  38. I think our biggest needs are a long term catcher and 3 solid bullpen additions for next year. Make a run at a front end starter for 2017

  39. Ryan Kelly
    we had carefully scouted on the telly
    but reception was poor
    it’s his interference we must now endure.

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