Toronto [big number], Atlanta [little number]

Coming into this season I knew my Braves fandom would be stretched in ways I, as a D.S. fan (became a fan During the Streak), had never been stretched before. I didn’t realize just how much it would change me, though.

I used to believe when the Braves were losing that games weren’t over until they were over. I was wrong. I now understand that to be true only if the Braves are winning.

I used to believe that the Braves losing four games in a row was brutal. I was wrong. I now understand that the Braves managing to win a game every week is one of life’s small victories.

I used to think the Braves were inept if they had runners in scoring position and failed to score. I was wrong. I now understand to reach true ineptness a team has to challenge the ’62 Mets in losses after the All-Star break.

I used to think every Braves lead after the 7th inning should be safe and was disappointed if that was not the case (*cough* Dan Kolb *cough*). I was wrong. I now understand that leads preserved by the bullpen are precious and a rarity full of value.

I used to think the conclusion of any given game could only be predicted if you were a true pessimist. I was wrong. I now understand it only takes a realist to be able to claim psychic powers (see disclaimer below).

On the heels of the most improbable win in recent memory (I kid, I kid, I know all four of the Braves wins in the past five weeks have been improbable), the coach turned back into a pumpkin, the horses turned back into mice, and when all was said and done our heroine was left running down the street wearing only one slipper and torn rags. Picturesque this was not.

The Blue Jays entered the game with a chip on their shoulder. I don’t think they took too kindly to having their vaunted offense stymied by the acclaimed woeful Braves pitching staff in the first game of the series. Before the dust had settled and they saw what had occurred, the Jays had taken a 4-run lead off of I’m-Never-Going-to-Win-Again Shelby Miller and put the game out of reach.

When the Braves finally had the chance to dig into the batter’s box against David Price, they made him throw a grand total of five pitches to four batters in the 1st inning, and somehow managed to get a run out of it. Just another footnote in this patented Braves Bizarro Season. One run to keep from being shutout is quite the moral victory in a Shelby Miller start, and the Braves bats celebrated by taking the rest of the evening off.

Shelby, meanwhile, just didn’t have it and lasted a grand total of 3.2 innings. He was lucky to only give up 5 runs, but, really, it doesn’t matter. He is going to retire in 10 years still stuck on 31 career wins. He may wish more than anyone else that Jason Heyward was still a Brave.

What did we learn from the evening?
—The Braves always lose when they are the free game of the day on Always.
—The Braves always lose when Shelby Miller is on the mound. Always.
—The Braves always lose the day after they manage to win a game. Always.
—The Braves always lose when their bullpen has to get more than six outs. Always.
—The Braves always lose. Always.

—Oh, and Hector Olivera is a platoon player. As has been noted several times on this blog, our star third baseman of the future has been riding the pine more times than not since he has joined the big league club. Tonight mention was made of him sitting so much recently because the Braves have been facing so many southpaws. Either Olivera will magically learn how to hit major league left-handed pitching while sitting on the bench, or Alex Wood has grounds for being pretty offended that his old team thought his value plus the value of a top prospect was worth a platoon player. I have to wonder if The Johns have any say-so in Olivera’s playing time, or if this is all Fredi pulling out his “guys have to earn their way into my lineup” card.

In conclusion, I’ve got nothing. Except I miss Kris Medlen. But other than that, I’ve got nothing.

Disclaimer: This recap was written in the 5th inning of the game it is recapping. How did I do?

114 thoughts on “Toronto [big number], Atlanta [little number]”

  1. Can we call the Hector Olivera trade a tire fire yet? Because it’s a tire fire.

    I’m watching Alex Wood through four scoreless vs. Colorado, because the Braves diaspora are a lot easier to root for than the Braves.

  2. The Rockies are hopeless against LHP and Wood was annihilated in his last start, but yeah, just one single given up against five Ks through six tonight. That’ll do.

  3. Pretty sure they said all along they’d ease Olivera in given his rust. Regardless of where his performance level ends up, I don’t think his playing time at present is any kind of indicator.

  4. I really like Wood. Just can’t understand the thinking in giving up good, young left-handed pitching that the team controls for four more years for an over-30, unproven outfielder. Players like Wood are the most valuable commodity in MLB right now.

    I can only surmise the Braves’ front office thought Wood was a ticking time bomb, like Tommy Hanson.

  5. Did they bake the risk of injury into Wood’s trade value, or it’s certainty? Do other front offices do that, too? Or do they look at the actuarial tables for Braves pitchers and force us to downgrade our own assets relative to everybody else’s?

  6. Nice cap, Nostra’rissa. Let’s save the wins for next year, when my man Hector becomes ALL THAT, Shelby can’t lose and the Braves shall rise again.

  7. a recap ‘Rissarian
    we would anticipate as certainly contrarian
    employing all tenses
    he attacks all pretenses.

    ‘Rissa, thanks again….save ’em, epublish every March? or something, too good to disappear.

  8. @2,4- The fun way to look at it is the Dodgers are handing out $30,000,000 signing bonuses just to burden the rest of the league with pricey platoon players.

  9. LOL, yeah, the Olivera trade is a tire fire because he’s not playing much after they said he wouldn’t be playing much, and because of the 47 ER our pitchers have given up through 79-1/3 innings in LA. And because future value is irrelevant.

  10. @5

    I had literally forgotten about that movie’s existence. I will now go back to forgetting about that movie’s existence.

    On Olivera, I knew this was gonna happen when we called him up. The Braves did, too, it seems, because he was down in Triple-A longer than everybody thought he’d be. We have a guy who’s never played Major League Baseball and hadn’t played a mostly full season in the Cuban league since 2013. We’re not gonna know what we have with him until early next season, after he’s gone through winter ball, an offseason, a full spring training and so forth. Could the trade wind up being a “tire fire”? Yeah, it could, though all the pitchers we gave to the Dodgers (including Wood BTW, notwithstanding last night) have sucked over there, and you know that I’m not at all a Peraza fan. You will not be able to adequately evaluate whether or not it is until next year, though. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re just not.

    Why is Fredi sitting Olivera against lefties? I don’t really know. It certainly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially since he’s, like, right-handed and stuff. It would seem mindbogglingly stupid on its face, though I will admit that a quick look at his numbers against lefties shows that he’s currently 1-for-12 against them in a ridiculously small sample size. Managerial lineup tweaks that give you the optimum lineup for a given situation each night would seem to be low on the priority list right now, though, and it’s not like Fredi’s great at it even when it’s high on the priority list. If you’re gonna give him rest, maybe base it on something other than lefty-righty matchups. But having said all that, I’m not sure it really matters at this juncture. Certainly not for this season, but probably not for Olivera’s ability to hit lefties next season, either.

  11. One thing is for sure, Fredi isn’t making any decisions by himself re: Olivera. Whatever the actual reason is for not playing him, it’s coming from the top.

    The reasons they are giving for not playing him are absurd though. Fredi said last night that “he is trying to put the best lineup on the field that gives us the best chance to win”. If Olivera doesn’t give us the best chance to win, then tire-fire is an understatement. Then there’s the small issue of us being a million games out and winning doesn’t matter one bit. Maybe you want to let him work through the rust by actually playing him?

    It’s ridiculous. They are all terrible liars.

  12. Not starting Olivera because a LHP is starting is a terrible excuse, since he is a RHB. It seems like the Braves already know the trade was a disaster.

  13. At this point I’m assuming he’s not playing because he can’t hit – since he hasn’t played organized baseball in like 3 years – and playing him just exposes that fact to the world and makes it all look like epic fail. They would rather field questions about why he’s not getting AB’s, rather than why he can’t play.

    I’m totally cool with him going 2 for 50 this month. But you have to play him in order for him to get timing and mechanics back.

    I’m totally not cool with giving up Alex Wood for such a “project”, but that ship has sailed and wtf can we do about it other than hope this guy doesn’t suck…

  14. Not only do we have to hope Olivera doesn’t suck, but if “winning the trade” is the preeminent prism through which the deal is to be viewed, we’re in the position of hoping Wood now gets injured, thus validating whatever suspicion we’re supposed to have had. Because he’s shown himself to be good enough when healthy that the respective asset values exchanged don’t otherwise add up. I say this partly to expose the frankly bizarre mindset that says the FO didn’t trade “Alex Wood”, but “future injured pitcher Alex Wood”, which makes no sense to me.

  15. Well I’ve grown used to the narrative pushed on all fronts by Braves PR that the players the Braves have dealt in the last year plus had poor leadership skills, weren’t worth paying, were worse than in-house options, and/or were health risks. Pulling for Alex Wood to blow an elbow to justify past decisions just seems natural at this point! Sure hope Medlen and Beachy sign up for TJ surgeries #3 sometime soon.

  16. Olivera is sitting against LH pitching due to a liquid imbalance in his left ear…surprised you didn’t know. Olivera/Aloe Vera.

    For goodness sake, leave him be.

  17. Olivera sat because it was David Price. If it was a lefthanded Aaron Harang, he’d have been in there, you can rest assured of that. The Johns want the fans to be excited about Olivera. Having him flail away at frontline pitching this year makes it just a bit harder to sell season tickets next year.

  18. He sat against Mark Buerhle too. Apparently the best way to whip the fanbase into an Olivera frenzy for 2016 is to only play him against the Phillies.

  19. No one has to hope Alex Wood gets injured, unless one is not a Braves fan but a John Hart fan. One can acknowledge that the deal looks like it was made with the expectation that Alex Wood will not be healthy for much the next four years without rooting for that to happen.

    I’m rooting for Olivera to rake, for Rodriguez to return healthy, for the Braves to nail the ~#35 pick next year, and for Zach Byrd to be a winning lottery ticket. If even three of those things happen, I don’t think the Dodgers’ players’ performances will really affect anyone’s opinion of the trade.

  20. Maybe they have already determined that Olivera’ s swing has to be rebuilt/improved to be successful in MLB. Many comments have been made about his “outside the ball ” swing. These are all valid. In addition he has been diving at sliders in the dirt. This can be attributed to his lack of recent playing time and M L experience.
    I hope Seitzer is working With him on all this stuff. I agree it is difficult to improve while on the bench. But it can also be difficult to change while playing every day.

  21. @17, I genuinely admire your optimism. I mean that. I wish I could be that optimistic.

    Here’s where I am, though. Imagine you’re shopping for a used car. You see an ad on for a 2007 Mustang with 80,000 miles on it. Not bad, eh? But then you look at the Carfax and it’s been in two major accidents in the last four years and one pretty good fender-bender. Your mechanic looks at it and says the timing belt is frayed and could break any day. You take it for a test drive and it stalls a few times and you decide it’s best not to drive it up steep hills for now.

    You buying this car? You trading your 2011 Civic for it? I mean, it could still turn out to be a sweet Mustang. That test drive wasn’t very long and maybe the weather was weird or something. I just wouldn’t be optimistic about it, is where I’m at on Hector.

  22. “the deal looks like it was made with the expectation that Alex Wood will not be healthy for much the next four years”

    OK, but why bake that expectation into the return? If we’re banking on Olivera working out, then so should the Dodgers bank on Wood remaining healthy. Was, say, Peraza the cost of that expectation?

  23. @32, But when there’s a good chance you’ll need to fix it in the next few years?



  24. @32 and @34: Nice work, gents. Laughter is the only way us Braves fans are getting out of this rebuild alive.

  25. @34, I see the method to the madness now! It’s a damn good thing we got rid of that ’11 Civic, because this season has been one big roll-over incident.

  26. We have a big series this weekend. We need a sweep in a bad way. Those 2 losses we’re sitting behind of Philly seem insurmountable with as horrible as they are. Don’t get me wrong–we’re horrible, too, but when both teams lose every day, no ground is gained.

  27. RIP Milo. I’m a Braves fan because of Hank Aaron and Milo Hamilton. Growing up in central PA, I just happened upon a late night Braves game back in 1970 on the radio and a guy named Hank Aaron came to the plate and hit a home run. That, and the way Milo called the homer hooked me, and I’ve been a Braves fan ever since.

  28. 33—Have I baked it into the return? My assumption is that the Braves value Wood less than the average angry, Braves Journal-ing Alex Wood fan does, or they value Olivera more, or both. I’m sure the Dodgers like their side of the return, too, but my point has just been — well, it’s intended to have been — that the Braves’ evaluations might be really good ones. I dunno about expectation costs, but I think it’s fair to assume that both sides of the deal valued the other side, however they did their valuing, more.

    32—I just think you reached an early (possibly correct!) conclusion and are viewing later events through the prism of that conclusion. I’m not so much optimistic as I am hopeful. Curious, even. I can conceive of rationales for the moves they’ve made, so I’m just going to wait and see how their plan works out in the rolling present instead of fret about an uncertain future. (And I’m going to try to pump the brakes of those who are declaring this an obviously-bad move at this early stage.) It’s not like I won’t be upset if Olivera sucks or if Wood or Peraza shines in another uniform, but the Braves know a whole lot more about all of these guys than even I, active deep-NL-only-league participant, do, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt until I have more evidence why I shouldn’t.

  29. FUN FACT: Melvin would be sixth among Braves position players in WAR according to Fangraphs. Right behind Uribe.

    Good on him.

  30. @42

    No, you didn’t, but it appears for all the world as though the participants did. The collective “huh?” that treated news of the trade extended far beyond “angry” Braves fans to many if not most dispassionate observers.

    Perhaps the answer lies here:

    Dodger Alex Wood, given the resources of an analytics-forward, creative-thinking organization, may be a fundamentally different asset than Brave Alex Wood, living perpetually on the edge of ruin like so many of his antecedents. It is important for an organization to know its limitations, and who is more familiar with the concept of limitations than our gang of aging mall-walkers?

  31. Braves LHP Manny Banuelos underwent successful surgery today, as Dr. James Andrews performed a left elbow bone spur removal.

  32. For the SEC contingent..

    There’s a guy called Stuart Stevens who’s just been on Bloomberg TV talking to Mark Halperin about the debate last night but also about his new book which is essentially he and his 97 y. old father’s lifelong love affair with Ole Miss football in particular, SEC football in general.

    In the course of a 10 minute interview he said some stuff that certainly fascinated me about the old South and why college football has the deep roots it has. If he writes like he talks, buy the book. The Last Season by Stuart Stevens.

    The show, With All Due Respect on Bloomberg TV (35 minutes, he’s on towards the end) is being repeated tonight at 8 and 11pm Eastern, Bloomberg TV.

  33. Alex Wood
    Doesn’t strike ’em out like he used to could
    A Dodger gift in wrappin’
    He was the next Brave injury waiting to happen

  34. Hector Olivera
    He makes me want to swear-uh
    But we’re 30 games out in September
    So why do I even care-uh?

  35. Matthew Wisler
    his new crush is so clearly a sizzler
    but he tends to regress
    his moves to first base, she couldn’t care less.

  36. @51-The chances that shaving down the spurs fixes Banuelos’ elbow are not very good, IMO. Which is too bad, because he’s the only one of the young guys that looked to me like an actual major league starter.

  37. @55 – Is the evidence better or worse for pitchers overcoming bone spurs after Tommy John surgery versus overcoming Tommy John surgery after Tommy John surgery?

  38. The guy had bone spurs before he ever had the first Tommy John. The decision to shave them down is just an attempt to avoid replacing the ligament for a second time. Chances are the bone in the elbow keeps rubbing together, he keeps getting inflammation, and needs a new elbow reconstruction a year or two down the road. I’d put his chances at putting up more career WAR than Chasen Shreve at about 10%.

  39. @48

    I read an article yesterday that was either an excerpt from the book or a companion piece to it. I’m not sure I should post the link because: 1) It’s hosted on a website where politics are prominently discussed; and 2) The article itself talks about the Ole Miss fanbase’s ties to Confederate imagery. It is really well-written, though, to confirm blazon’s suspicions.

    If you’re interested, the title of the article is “What College Football Means in the South” and it’s on The Atlantic’s website. Stuart Stevens is the author, as blazon mentioned.

  40. I don’t get it. So the bone spur surgery is a hail mary to avoid a second Tommy John, and a second Tommy John would basically mean he was done as a useful major leaguer? I thought there was no evidence that a second Tommy John was any more risky than a first Tommy John?

    So he’s already done for, we never should have given up Chasen Shreve for him, and it was utterly inexcusable for the fucking Johns to let Kris Medlen walk?

  41. LOL. When has Banuelos ever been a useful major leaguer? Medlen put up 10 WAR in two seasons after his first TJ. With a healthy elbow he’s a #2 starter. If Banuelos ever has a healthy elbow, he’s still a question mark. The fact that you think these guys are in any way equivalent pretty much tells me all I need to know.

  42. @61 – I made no implication that the two were equal. Nothing I’m saying relies on the relative abilities of the players. I’m talking about surgery. Although your logical gymnastics to bend my position around there fit right in with the kind of logic you’re using.

    It was utterly inexcusable to let Kris Medlen walk after his second Tommy John. This because there’s no evidence a second TJ is actually that big of a deal. Manny Banuelos has a 10% chance accruing more WAR than Chasen Shreve. This because he has elbow spurs, but we know they aren’t really JUST elbow spurs, they are really just Tommy John waiting to happen, and a second Tommy John would be the end of the line.

  43. Do you even know what bone spurs are? You think he got them in the last 18 months? How do they cause inflammation, exactly?

    Look man, the Yankees thought Banuelos was damaged goods when they traded him to us. He had TJ, and unlike in the vast majority of such cases, his velocity never came back. That’s not a secret, just put the guy’s name into the magic google thing.

  44. And Kris Medlen had Tommy John surgery, and unlike the vast majority of cases, he required another Tommy John surgery after only 2 seasons back on the field. And why should we appeal to the authority of the Yankees decision makers, who felt Banuelos was damaged goods, but not appeal to the authority of the Braves decision makers, who thought Medlen was damaged goods?

    And I don’t know anything about the bone spur that Banuelos is experiencing. But that magic Google machine tells me his velocity declined over time this season, and it tells me he put up 85 innings of 2.20 ERA in AAA, and 16.2 innings of 1.08 ERA in the bigs before the bone spur started effecting him.

    That Magic Google thing also tells me that David Carpenter was released, and that the league is slugging .700 against Shreve this month. You initiated the comparison between Banuelos and Shreve.

    I inserted Medlen in to the Banuelos coversation, so that magic google thing tells me Medlen’s posted 40 innings of league average ERA (107 ERA+). If I may insert some more names, that magic google thing tells me that Brandon Beachy’s only made 2 starts and has been hung for a 7.88 ERA and that Jonny Venters needed a 3rd TJ before he ever came back from his second.

    I just can’t reconcile how you can be so up on Medlen, who is 30, and has actually HAD two reconstruction surgeries, that you would declare it utterly unforgivable to that we didn’t beat a contract that pays him a minimum of $16.5m for 2 years, and a maximum of $25.5m for 3… but be so down on Banuelos, who is 24 and has had one reconstruction and a clean up surgery, that you’d imply he isn’t worth the relief pitcher we traded to get 6 years of control of him.

    The only way I can reconcile it is that you are just determined to rationalize a way to be against whatever move the new regime makes.

  45. Medlen is making 2 million this year and 5.5 next, with a one million buyout the year after. I’d respond to the rest of your post if your logic were any better than your math.

  46. So he is, I misread the chart on bbref, giving him credit for the $10m being guaranteed.

    So $8.5m guaranteed for 2 seasons, with the option to get a third year at $9m more. That changes it? That make Medlen and his inexplicable detaching UCL a good risk and Banuelos and his bone spur bad one?

  47. If history is any guide, the Braves will bring Banuelos to spring training, he will struggle, spend half the season in the minors, the other half resting and or rehabbing, then be told he just needs another full offseason of conditioning, then finally halfway through 2017 he will be told he does in fact need a whole new elbow. Assuming all goes well, in 2019 he will be ready to start pitching again. The Braves way.

  48. @69 –

    The Good:

    “Bone spurs are very common in throwers’ elbows and reflect the body’s response to the high forces placed on the elbow during throwing … Usually these spurs are entirely harmless and painless. Sometimes they can grow quite large and still cause no trouble. But, in some areas of the elbow they can cause pain when they bump against other bones or may pinch tissue between them like a nutcracker … If the inflammation generated by the collisions of the bones is not quieted by anti-inflammatory medications then a simple surgery can remove the spurs. The surgery is most often arthroscopic and the recovery a few months.”

    The Bad:

    “However … sometimes the root of the problem is looseness of the UCL. If the looseness of the UCL causes more play in the elbow joint, the bones collide more forcefully and the bone spurs grow rapidly … So, if a pitcher has bone spurs in the elbow, the UCL must be evaluated. If the problem is stemming from the UCL, it must be reconstructed and the spurs removed. If the ligament is okay, then the spurs can be removed with a much faster recovery. Note that if a pitcher has bone spurs in the elbow this is sometimes a warning sign that problems with the UCL may be coming.”

    So if you take this at face value:

    The spur could be why he had the original UCL tear. But I’d think they would have found the, when the had his elbow and forearm wide open.

    Alternatively, the UCL injury, and pitching during the period where it was injured but not torn, might have caused the beginnings of the bone spur, and it has grown during his rehab and subsequent use.

    Or you could just assume the spur has always been there, will always be there, and is the result of this guy just being defective.

    It’s worth noting that Dr. Andrews reportedly examined the ligament and found it to be healthy. You can take that to be good news, take it with a grain of salt, or assume they’d say that whether it was true or not therefor it must not be true.

  49. I need some evidence that any of the pitching acquired from the demolition is any better than the David Hale types that have come and gone over the past recent years. So far there’s not much to go on. Just a lot of hope and unicorns.

    The biggest hopes are with the guys that are not old enough to buy beer. I still contend that the rebuild would be exactly the same if we had kept all our players one more year. I don’t see how anyone we got in the firesale is going to be relevant for our next playoff team.

    I respect the more optimistic views on our plans, but I’m not buying in to the accelerated timeline.

  50. @71 – For you, what would amount to more than hopes and unicorns?

    (Also, we’re just pretending Shelby Miller didn’t come as part of the rebuild, right? He was always here, he doesn’t count, right?)

  51. Shelby won’t be a Brave by the time we’re good again. We need to replace literally everyone on the roster. That takes longer than the timeframe that our front office is selling to the fanbase.

  52. Here goes MLB, changing the rules on the fly to help the large market teams.

    Basically, two Cuban stars had not filed with the league by May 15, which was required for them to sign with a MLB club during the signing period that began this past July 2.

    But MLB is making an exemption for them, where in the past they have not seen fit to do so, which means they will NOT have to wait until next July 2 to sign a contract. And the thinking is that there may be more exemptions to come.

    So certain teams who had already blown by their signing limits, and will be sitting out next signing period, will now have access to these guys THIS signing period, during which they already have nothing to lose.

    Those teams include the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Royals and the Blue Jays.

    We know the Braves plan to blow their limit next season on Kevin Maitan, and once they do that, they’d be in the position of having little to lose, and were expected to make an even bigger splash. Some of these Cubans might have been part of the plan, too. Now the Cuds, Dodgers and Giants will get a crack at them after all, and we really won’t, because we’ve got Maitan on the horizon and aren’t going to blow our shot at him by overspending this time, and this developing so late after the initial signing rush, there probably aren’t any teams that still have slots to trade to us.

  53. Tommy Herr
    a Cardinal to whom it did not occur
    the pain when he threw
    would spur a comprehensive medical review.

  54. Jair Jurrjens
    the Royal Society of Surgeons
    can find nothing wrong
    but if they could we were right all along.

  55. Last offseason’s plan: Braves intentionally went after damaged goods, whether it be poor recent track records (Folty, Wisler) or questions regarding health (everyone else). There are some that are going to be lost causes but the stock is there and if only 1/3 of them hit (Wisler, Folty, Man-Ban, Paco, Withrow, Winkler, Touki, Tyrell, Fried) it’ll be looked at as a failed experiment. If 1/2 hit, it’s a win. If nearly all become useful Major Leaguers for their time as an Atlanta Brave, it’ll be a huge success.

    No one knows what’ll happen, not even the organization. It was a risk others weren’t taking. The Braves version of Moneyball. Only time will tell. However, exploiting a market inefficiency is a smart strategy, but doesn’t always work.

  56. The problem is that, apart from those very rare A prospects (of which we have exactly zero in the organization), even when perfectly healthy, starting pitching prospects do not ‘hit’ at a 50% or even 33% rate. TINSTAAP and all that.

  57. @78 In theory it’s a great idea to take advantage of market inefficiencies, but in practice it’s not always so easy to spot them in advance. We won’t know if the Braves have exploited a “market inefficiency” until the bargain bin prospects they acquired have time to develop – at this point, it’s an open question as to whether it was the Braves or their trade counterparties who properly valued the guys whose stocks had fallen for various reasons.

  58. @78 – That’s absolutely right. Huge risk with the potential of huge-ish reward (huge-ish because at best we’d just be getting another lottery ticket to the playoffs, which is where we’ve been since 2010 anyway). We’re left hoping that our front office has both smarter and luckier guys than the rest of the league’s front offices – that might’ve been the case 20 years ago, but I’m just not at all confident that it is now. It won’t change my allegiances, and watching a five years of losing baseball (if these assets don’t turn into anything and we end up having to build a good team over from the draft up) would probably be good for my character anyway.

  59. Seconded @81. It’s not a market inefficiency unless you have some idea that these guys are being systematically underrated by the other 29 MLB teams. And since the list of reclamation projects @78 cost (roughly) Kimbrel, Gattis, Shreve, Avilan, a 25-man roster spot, $10 million, Walden, and JUpton respectively, it’s hard to say this is the 2002 Athletics pulling Scott Hatteberg out of the bargain bin.

    Not every wing-and-a-prayer prospect gamble is an exploitable market inefficiency. In fact, you can be plenty smart but most everyone else has smart people who are competing too, and Diamondbacks are few and far between now; someone has to be the 25th-smartest front office in the league. Maybe that’s not us. But maybe it is. Time will tell and early returns are less than encouraging.

    (Fun game I’ve been working on: going back to the 1994 baseball-reference league standings and charting up how many teams were run by a GM with a b-r page of his own, i.e. an ex-jock. Then going to the 2015 standings and running the same test. I’ll let you know when I have the final numbers, but the gist of it is: John Hart was Executive of the Year back in the day playing poker with fish, but now he’s playing with sharks. We’ll see if he can keep up.)

  60. It took a long time for baseball people to figure out that “eggheads” had anything to offer when it came to building a baseball team. I wonder if there will be a similar revolution in how we view managers. They matter much less than GM’s, but they matter the most for marginal contenders.

  61. @81,83

    But they were being underrated by other teams, or at least the Braves thought so. Acquiring Fried, along w/ 3 other Top-20 prospects for Justin Upton doesn’t happen if Fried isn’t out with TJ. Same with Wisler (albeit, lack of AAA results that didn’t correlate with FIP and “stuff”) for Kimbrel. IMO, no matter the results, that is exploiting a market inefficiency: getting top-grade prospects for discounted prices due to injury and lack of immediate gratification.

    That is, unless you guys think that exploiting a market inefficiency has to come with results, of which we don’t have yet.

    And you’re right…not every wing and a prayer isn’t, but targeting TJ victims that are in the process of rehabilitation for a discount is, and there were plenty of those this offseason.

  62. We could just do a study of what a TJ surgery does to projected WAR for a pitching prospect over his first 6 years of service. If it does little, and we observe that these pitchers were traded at a substantial discount, then we could conclude the market inefficiency exists. Whether or not it works out for the Braves in their limited sample is not as important, since variance will have more to do with that.

    It’s also possible (as you say 85) that the discount had little to do with the effects of the injury and more to do with the time lost–for example Fried no longer has an ETA of 2016 but 2018. That isn’t so much a market inefficiency as the principle of time discounting, which is universal.

  63. @86
    But the service time is the same, it’s not like the Braves get less control out of Fried because of the injury.

  64. early returns are less than encouraging

    I don’t get this. About which returns are you talking? None of the near-MLB-ready guys were great this year, but who expected them to be? Are any of the guys at lower levels significantly off developmental track?

    There’s nothing in these early returns that screams WE WON AND ARE RUN BY GENIUSES, but neither is there anything saying the opposite. You liked the trades or you didn’t, but none of the early returns (read: evidence) are at all conclusive.

  65. @87, I don’t see where I communicated otherwise.

    EDIT: Oh, I see. When I said “time lost”, I didn’t mean “control lost”. I meant that the returns are delayed by a couple of years, which results in time discounting.

  66. I think the perception that we will be finished with the rebuild by 2017 is looking to be a little off.

    While we may be making a splash over the next two winters in the trade and/or free agent market, the major talent we have brought in appears to be a littler further away than we thought.

  67. @88-Rio Ruiz looks to me like a guy “significantly off developmental track”, and with the other main piece in that trade, Folty, the expectation was not that he would be “great” but that he would at least show some positive development over last season and give us any reason at all to think he should remain a starting pitcher. Of course ‘early returns’ are not ‘conclusive’. That would be a contradiction in terms. But hard to argue that early returns in that trade are not disappointing.

  68. IMO, the Braves aren’t that far off from a competing team, and from there, aren’t far off from a team that could compete for the division. 50 million doesn’t buy as much as what it used to, but it’s enough to fill the holes of this team. If Mallex is MLB ready by mid-17, the Braves have LF,C and a stud SP away from being a good club. The bullpen should be fine with all of the recent acquisitions and leftover SPs going to a relief role.

  69. The thing that I keep coming back to in my mind, and maybe don’t want to say out loud very often, is that I’m not sure that Simmons/Freeman/Teheran are a good enough nucleus to build around.

    This was true before we blew it all up – and it’s even more true right now. We’re not going to get better corner OF’ers than Heyward and JUpton anytime soon.

    I’m at the point where I think we have to start completely over. Which I guess is pretty much what we’re doing. So that’s fine, just don’t want to hear about how it’ll be ready in 2017.

  70. At 94, the team has two position players over 1.3 bwar and a single sp over 1. There’s a lot of daylight between that and competing, 50M notwithstanding.

  71. The biggest problem with the team as currently constructed is that it only has 2 major league caliber starting pitchers, and the rest of the starters are almost guaranteed losses. The bullpen has reinforcements coming next season, but none of the young starters are showing much promise.

  72. @88, let’s break it down!

    Miller 3.8 WAR – best MLB player to come back in these trades, solid #2 or #3 on a good team
    Maybin 0.5 WAR – hot for a while, settled into basically replacement level
    J. Peterson 0.5 WAR – looks like a utility bench guy
    Wisler -0.3 WAR – dunno about him yet
    Foltynewicz -1.3 WAR – looks like a reliever
    Banuelos – just had surgery, arm is apparently composed of bone chips & reconstructed ligaments
    P. Rodriguez – hurt since time of trade, though experience indicates he’s a useful bullpen piece
    Olivera – lol

    M. Smith – best looking prospect in the bunch, on track to be a leadoff CF
    T. Jenkins – solid if unspectacular season; borderline top-100 prospect
    D. Peterson – OPS’d .665 in A ball, which is of a piece with his last two seasons. Hot start, DL stint, major regression.
    M. Fried – hurt all year, unknown
    Z. Byrd – nothing in particular at AA; has never had a sub-4 ERA and didn’t change that
    J. Gant – looked good! Projects as a reliever or fifth starter type
    R. Whalen – see Gant
    A. Thurman – 23 yo already, average at A ball, struggled in AA ball
    R. Ruiz – the wheels done fell off
    T. Toussaint – wild, has potential, can’t buy beer for two more years

    That’s the objective evidence. That’s the 2015 report from the haul of Operation Punt 2015. Did I miss anyone? No one except maybe Shelby made a leap, several guys regressed, and most of them look more like organizational depth than foundational pieces.

    Wishcast into it all you want, but per that last Ask BA chat, on Opening Day next year the top two guys in our BA prospect list will be a Wren holdover and the guy who was there at #14 in the 2015 draft under any circumstance. Is it not fair to say from that evidence that *early* returns are less than encouraging? Sure, some of these guys can get healthy, make a leap beyond the bounds of their established records, etc., but ultimately that’s just wishcasting. These are your early returns, and they are less than encouraging.

    @94, speaking of wishcasting. We’re aware at this point that Jace Peterson is a 25 year old replacement level 2B, right? OK, that’s four lineup holes from being a playoff team. Olivera might well be a lemon, so that’s potentially five. And Markakis is already a one-win corner outfielder and will be 33 in 2017. Six? You’re right back where you started; with Freeman, Simmons, and Projected Mallex Smith. The rest is made of holes and hope still.

  73. @WCG, “Did I miss anyone?” Ricardo Rodriguez and that PED-suspended catcher we got for David Hale.

  74. @98 I’d say it’s too soon to relegate Folty to the pin, but broad strokes that’s probably a fair assessment of where those guys stand now. However, I don’t see how that’s bad considering what we gave up, and that many still have plenty of development time. The two biggest pieces we used were going to be gone at the end of the year anyway, plus we got rid of an albatross contract. We lost the best closer in MLB, but he was going to be superfluous over the next couple years and was therefore a questionable use of resources. So the only potential lasting value we traded away over the offseason was Gattis, but as much as I liked him and didn’t think it made any sense to put so much faith in Bethancourt as was suggested by Pravda’s constant shilling for the move, there’s no denying that his value is higher to an American league team.

    The Wood for Olivera trade can’t really be evaluated at this point. If their apparent risk-assessment of Wood is accurate I’m fine with it, but we won’t know for a while.

  75. @98-I’d argue our top 2 prospects are Wren holdovers, followed by Allard at #3, because given his age, stuff and track record (last season looks like the aberration) Lucas Sims is still our best pitching prospect. His 10.6 K/9 and 5.5 H/9 as a 21 year old at AA this season, especially when taken together with the scouting reports on his final 8 starts, are as promising as anything else we’ve got in the system.

  76. @98/99

    I think we can include Arodys Vizcaino and Chris Withrow in our “haul”, but bullpen pieces are not exciting.

    I agree with your assessments otherwise–except don’t undersell John Gant. He can be better than a 5th starter.

  77. In a sense, I see the new stadium as the critical backstop/silver lining (setting aside the politics/financing) to the rebuild. The team simply has to be competitive at that point, and you have to imagine ownership will loosen the pursestrings, spend money to make money, etc. It just has to happen.

    I don’t expect a playoff team in 2017, but I do expect a real attempt at a significantly more competitive team than the one we’re going to see next season. Whether or not we’re at all competent at signing any big ticket FAs is another question, because the disappointing thing about the rebuild thus far that people are articulating is that none of the prospects we’ve acquired seem like the type we can build around and the Freeman/Andrelton/Teheran core…as stated above, meh.

    While I don’t see greatness in 2017, I do envision a winning record.

  78. @98
    No, I don’t agree with your assessment on many things including Jace Peterson’s ceiling, and that’s not wishcasting, merely projecting numbers from an established MILB career and half year at the majors. Admittedly, Jace has been rotten for the 2nd half.

    There’s ceilings and floors here, and it sounds like your opinion is the skinned grizzly bear on the floor.

  79. It’s easy to be bitter about the upcoming years as the Braves have been awful and most of the players acquired have been either bad or injured. For now, I’ll trust the scouts about our prospects.

  80. Peterson showed good on-base skills in the minors, but not so good (given he played in good hitting environments, and was in A-ball through age 23) that said skills are sure to translate to MLB without some projectible power, which he hasn’t really shown. If he can hit .265 he could post a couple of 2-win seasons, but I see that as his ceiling. His career could have a long tail, though, if he’s willing to dabble in blackmail.

  81. Grst says well at 100 much of what I’m trying to say. It’s too early to be encouraged or discouraged with the results of the trades. What did the Braves give up? What did they acquire? There’s no clear value gap between the two sides of the ledger at this point.

    It’s also worth noting that Rio Ruiz is not yet a lost cause. The Braves were super-aggressive in starting him at AA as a 20-year-old, and he got off to a brutal start, but he OPS’d .723 from June through the end of the year.

  82. It’s not too early to analyze what we gave up. We gave up the entire season and most of the fanbase.

  83. @107-I knew exactly where that link was going and I followed it and laughed anyway.

    @108-How were the Braves “super-aggressive” with Ruiz? He had 600 AB’s at A+ as a 20 year old last year. He turned 21 in May. He’s still young, sure, and hardly a lost cause, but a .657 (or .723) OPS as a 21 year old at AA is basically Christian Bethancourt. And that certainly ain’t an impact major league bat at the hot corner.

  84. Both Ruiz’s 2014 season and his 2015 season exactly tracked the environments in which they were played. That doesn’t mean everything — his 2014 environment included Carlos Correa, who tends to bring up the averages. But the 2014 Lancaster JetHawks (ehh, don’t love it) games were 11 rpg affairs, and the 2015 Greenville Braves (jeez, at least the JetHawks tried) played in a sub-8 rpg environment. Ruiz was average in both contexts, and was three years younger than level.

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