Where Do We Go From Here? 2015. Part One: Introduction

The season ended on a high note, but that doesn’t change facts: this may have been the worst Braves season that any of us have ever seen. As Sansho wrote on August 30:

We all like to glamorize past suffering, but I feel like this exact moment — Yankee after Yankee crossing the plate against an assembly line of no-hopers, to wild cheering from the crowd, a day after a fan died at the stadium — is the lowest point in franchise history.

The offseason was a bitter pill to swallow.

Just look at the 2014 Braves roster. By my count, there were 39 players who made an appearance with the Braves one calendar year ago. Only nine of those players are still in the organization. The rest were either traded, released, or granted free agency.

Over the offseason, we said goodbye to many of the most beloved Braves of recent memory. Brandon Beachy. Kris Medlen. Jason Heyward. Craig Kimbrel. Evan Gattis. Then again, we also said goodbye to some of the least beloved Braves of recent memory: Chris Johnson and Melvin Upton. (Dan Uggla was released in July 2014, so he doesn’€™t quite make the butcher’€™s tally, though he falls in quite the same category.) We also traded away countless players who made positive contributions though they may not have captured the fans’ delirious imagination, highlighted by Justin Upton and including guys like Tommy La Stella, Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana, Jordan Walden, David Carpenter, and blog favorite Gus “Pickles” Schlosser.

It was a bloodbath. But at least we could dream on what we got back, as a farm system that some rated as the second-worst in baseball was considered by some to be the second-best. Some of the new acquisitions appeared to pay immediate dividends, as the team loped out to a better-than-expected 42-42 record through July 7. And it all just went to hell after that.

The second-half Braves resembled nothing so much as Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, and Charles Barkley after the Monstars stole their talent in Space Jam. The Braves wore baseball uniforms and they took their positions between the foul lines, but they played listlessly, almost despondently. It was hard to believe that they believed they had a chance to win.

It was so bad that one of the chief architects of the teardown, John Schuerholz, recently admitted that the team believed that it needed to take major steps to reassure the fanbase of their ultimate intention of winning:

Wait until we do our winter’s work to construct the roster for this team… We decided to shorten this and be aggressive… We need to pivot dramatically.

As krussell noted at the time:

“Pivot dramatically” isn’t what you want to year in year one (!!!) of the “rebuild”.

So we’re left with the smoking ruins of a baseball season — a club that, as ububba said, appeared to be “doing its best to achieve a generational nadir” — and a front office that admits that their strategy has been working so well that they need to pivot dramatically. Where do we go from here? We ask this question every year, but it has rarely felt more urgent, or less obvious.

This is where you guys come in. Please email me if you’re interested in writing about the Braves’ outlook for 2016, and what the team needs to do in order to be successful. There are a few obvious areas that I believe will need to be addressed. But please feel free to pitch me any idea you have! Here’s what we’ll definitely need to cover, though:

• Fixing the Bullpen: Can’t anybody here play this game?
• The Seitzer Offense: Fewer strikeouts, but still no power.
• The Uncertain Starting Rotation: Maybe we shouldn’t have traded Alex Wood after all.
• The Hot Corner: Hector Olivera? Adonis Garcia? Or door number three?
• Free Agency: We’re supposed to have some money to spend. So how should we spend it?

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to feel emotionally invested in the 2015 Braves. But I’m ready to start counting the hours until April 2016, and we’ve got an awful lot to talk about. Please email me and let me know what you’d like to write!

116 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? 2015. Part One: Introduction”

  1. Alex,

    The Space Jam reference is a good one.

    I reply to the title as I often do: Which is the way that’s clear. Still, still lookin’ for that blue jeaned baby queen, prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.

  2. We need help in all phases of the game. Look at the bright side, there’s very few moves that we can make that would make the team worse.

  3. Players on the current roster I hope to never see in a Braves uniform again.
    Pedro Ciriaco
    The entire bullpen except for Vizcaino and possibly Moylan

    Players I would not be upset in any way to lose
    Michael Bourn
    Nick Swisher
    Christian Bethancourt
    Ryan Lavarnway

  4. @4

    Papelbon…what a man, just what we need, goes for the throat. Hi time we de-sissified our bullpen, spread some fear out there.

    Papelbon oh Papelbon
    we see your anger growing, the punches you are throwing.
    etc.

  5. I think the first issue is what do the Braves have to spend.

    One thing is the magnitude of the “underspend” this year. After trading off contracts and taking on contracts, It still looks like 10 to 20 mill.

    Then, is any of that “creditable” to future years?

    Then, what is now committed. per Cot’s 68 mill which applies 5 that Cleveland apparently pays next year against that. Cleveland pays its other five in 17. If that was a “cost” the Braves would accrue it in 16. I will assume since it is a revenue item, they will not.

    Arb looks like 15 mill to me off the top of my head. (I would love to see somebody that knows that work it out). Shelby’s first year. Minor’s 3rd of 4 years (I don’t see him resigning for less than 80% of arb 2 pay so it is either arb or no Minor and FO says they want Minor). A few others.

    Add minor league minimum of 500 K on 10 roster spots.

    So, if max is 120, and the minimum is 88, then we have 32 to spend. FO will NOT spend more than about half of that on one player. FO will try to get one or two veteran relief reclamation projects for (a) stability and (b) ability to trade at deadline.

    Minor leagues can cover centerfield (Mallex Smith) and some relief pitching. Otherwise, no new blood will help in a practical way next year.

    Even if FO deems Mallex ready, we still either (a) move Maybin or (b) go get an outfielder. Ideal would be to trade Maybin + for a rightfielder. Then, if you move Neck to left, he is not as exposed on the fielding side and if Neck’s offseason brings back a little power without a significant obp drop, then your are set pretty well for “the year before the year.”

    Catcher is a black hole in the entire system unless somebody very young eventually develops or Bethancourt is able to be salvaged. I would consider risking 16 on “can Bethancourt do this” or optioning him (I THINK he has on more option to AAA). I WOULD NOT drop him for nothing. So, if you can get Wieters at 4 years 10 per or better, (and the market might be in that range), that is FA #1. resign AJ for 3 and a games played incentive (probably will want that), and you are o.k. looking at being better in 16 and not hurting 17.

    Second base is still iffy, but I would let the Castro / Jace competition handle second for next year.

    So,, you can still sign a second tier starter, but do you?

    Doing this makes me realize that a legitimate division title contending team in 2017 will require 140 mill payroll if somebody doesn’t way overperform. That would let you get Greinke or Price and also get Wieters this year and maybe take a bad contract trade on an outfielder (Ethier?) and maybe be ready to roll. 120 doesn’t leave room for contention.

  6. I think Pap would be a good signing for reasonable money if we could convince him not to throw at Harper’s head every time we faced the Nats. Or, it’s a feature, not a bug.

  7. @6

    I agree with almost all of that, which then just shows how badly the BUpton and CJ contracts have hamstrung us. We have 3 players (in theory) signed to team-friendly deals: Andrelton, Teheran, and Freeman. In your scenario, we have 10 of the 25 man making the league minimum. A $140M payroll puts us 9th in baseball based on 2015’s numbers. How do we have that many team-friendly contracts and still not have enough payroll room to be elite? Having to carry Bourn, Swisher, and Maybin right now (as a result of the BUpton and CJ deals) are absolutely killing us. If you’re not paying those guys, you’re out at Nordstroms shopping in the David Price aisle, but right now we’re at Marshall’s in the Convince Dan Haren Not to Retire aisle.

  8. The reason Papelbon wanted off the Phillies is that they weren’t contenders. I wonder what else the Nationals would have to trade/pay us to make it worth carrying him in our clubhouse for any length of time.

  9. I was still watching and pulling for the Braves during game 162 a few days ago, and would rather see us bring back BJ and Uggla than watch Papelbon ever throw a pitch for the Braves. I believe I’d have to switch allegiance to the Royals. Can’t imagine the Johns even considering bringing that douchebag to town.

  10. I also wonder how many people there are out there who are clearly physically capable, even quite talented like Papelbon, but are also mentally/emotionally incapable of playing on an MLB team.

    Maybe the Braves can figure all that out and make derangement the hot new market inefficiency to exploit.

  11. There is no scenario where Papelbon makes sense on any Braves team. I don’t care if he’s free.

  12. krussell at 11,

    Schuerholz says we have max of 120. In 6 above, I show how that gives 32 to spend. And don’t assume 2017 is better. The raises to Teheran, Simmons, and Freeman and the next arb steps for Shelby and whoever even after taking out 5 from the CJ trade paid by Cleveland, we still don’t drop in payroll going to 2017.

    So, a Greinke / Price is at least 25 mill by himself. Despite what some on here say, JHey and JUpton will be 20 plus per year. If we put 2 contracts of 2 mill in the pen, that only leaves 28.

    So, take 140 and add Wieters at 10, a real outfielder FA at 20 and a real pitcher at 25, and backup catcher and 2 relievers for 7, and that fits at 140. 120 gets nowhere near that. That would be a team that without getting any great trades or unusually good performances (like Albies playing 2B in 2017 and slashing 300 / 350 / 400 with 30 steals and 3 caught stealings), the 16 and 17 teams would have a shot at a division crown. And, by 17, SOMEBODY out of our prospects would have added some value either by playing or by being a trade asset. And, if the pitchers REALLY come on, then you could have a World Series team in 17.

    Rob Cope at 9,

    I don’t see Maybin as a negative contract. IF we can get a REAL outfielder this year, we can move him on that contract and get something back. For a competitive club, with most outfielders hitting lefthanded, Maybin would actually be a superior 4th outfielder. Can play center. Can hit fairly well. Can take the platoon for a lefthanded hitter every time a lefty starts.

    The negative impact of CJ’s contract is still on our heads next year (2016). Paying 25 million net for Swisher and Bourn is still tough. But, I feel both of them are more useable in our context than CJ even BEFORE we got Olivera. If we don’t get a REAL outfielder, Bourn can be the back up centerfielder, late inning defensive replacement (moving Maybin to right or left depending, sometimes) and occasionally start against righthanders. Swisher COULD be a left fielder, maybe, and could be a backup 1B and bat off the bench. EVEN if you pull the extra 5 mill Cleveland is actually paying in 2017 back into 2016, that is 10 mill too much to pay for those 2 guys next year.

  13. #19
    Great talent, but with this episode & the innings-limit dictum, he’s not exactly making friends in that locker room. David Wright’s frosty response about it today spoke volumes.

    Harvey’ll be going in Game 3 of the NLDS. Easy to give him the one big start in the DS, but what happens if they win this round? Or the next? Will he take the ball twice? He’s really setting himself up to be a hero or villain. Plenty of talk about it around here.

    Not so much for the other club in town. I detect a definitive sense of dread from its suddenly detached fanbase. Headed to Yankee Stadium tonight. Plenty of tickets available, I hear…

  14. @23

    tell me that old love story
    but not the same old sighs
    you know our feet were waiting to climb there
    there on the bridge of lies.

  15. Actually, if we’re going to get poetic…fast forward to 2017.

    I stood in Cobb, on the unfinished Bridge of Sighs;
    A shopping palace and a baseball prison on each hand:
    I saw the wave from suburban fans inside her structures rise
    As from the stroke of the taxpayers wand;
    A hundred seasons their cloudy wings expand
    Around me, and a dying glory smiles

  16. after 2 in the Bronx…

    despite just stranding a lead off double and their lead just one the Astros will not let this game end close. They look a generation younger on the field –
    more speed/power all the way through…Yankees go home.

    Dallas Keuchel
    has frequently hit for the cycle
    we must just take his word
    that these rather unlikely events occurred.

  17. YES! BALLGAME OVER! THE YANKEES LOSE! THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! YAAAAAANKEES! LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE!

    SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS!

  18. Final in the Bronx…3/0 Astros

    you needn’t have stayed up…

    score did not reflect chasm between the two teams…prediction, end of Cashman, end of Girardi…crowd booed Gardner in the 8th O/4, otherwise quiet…who would choose watching this lot with the other guys cross town..
    Braves notes…Mac and Gattis hitless, Mac made the final out…looking at the Astros hitters they just exude power, so many of them…they apparently have 11 who have hit 10+, and they look like it…how many do we have?

    Joe Girardi
    he was once in a movie with Laurel and Hardy
    seeking star billing
    he was told the ladies find you somewhat less than thrilling.

    G’Night.

  19. The Yanks bettered their Vegas over/under this year by 7 games. Girardi & Cashman are safe, trust me.

    Always a gas to be at Yankee Stadium for a winner-take-all affair. The walk-up for the game was bigger than I’ve ever seen. With the crazy security going into the joint, we had to hang in the bar until the 2nd inning just to go in.

    But plenty of energy in there & returning home on the subway, was surprised to see a good handful of Astros fans who had made the trip from Texas.

    Interesting Note: Heading to the game from Grand Central Station tonight, I caught the “Yankee Special” express 4 train, which was an old-old-fashioned subway car (in circulation from 1917 to 1959) that had ceiling fans & advertisements from the WW2 era (“Buy War Bonds” & such). From Grand Central to The Bronx, it took 15 minutes — nice.

    The car was like a WW1 German U-boat — low voltage, lights dimming in the tunnels, but with its windows down. Wonder if they’ll do that for the 7 train to Flushing next week.

  20. @32-That subway ride sounds awesome. I can’t wait to take a ride on a historic tractor pulled tram when the Braves are in the playoffs at SunTrust in 2017.

    Speaking of our sorry lot, the Braves are trying to spin it as positive that Olivera is going to spend six weeks in winter ball working with Seitzer and the Braves infield instructor. But I’ve never heard of a team sending it’s hitting coach and infield instructor to work with one player in winter ball. It’s clearly not just a matter of conditioning or reps. Right now they aren’t convinced he can hit or field his position.

  21. @33

    I think they aren’t too worried about his hitting, but his defense will have to get a lot better.

    It is kind of odd though.

  22. @32

    you see potential in that team, other than the back of the bullpen? they looked a tired, dispirited lot to me from the first on. Sometimes it’s helpful to watch a team for the first time(other than the debacles with us) in a big game. But, hey, it sounds like you still managed a fun night out, the Yankee Express and all.

    So jealous of the Astros though – worth 3 100+ loss seasons? no, too much pain, too long.

    Didi Gregorious
    he started off as notorious
    throwing to first
    we all assumed he was accursed.

    But he’s a little better now!

  23. Dallas Keuchel
    he was a Yankee under Michael
    reincarnated
    his biblical appearance not understated.

  24. A thought.

    Does anybody know who the prospective end of 2016 FA outfielders might be? Or, the prospective FA pitchers?

    We have 20 to 25 mill tied up in Bourn and Swisher (net of Cleveland pay, depending on accounting). That would let us get one “real” player (pitcher or OF) this year and one “real” player next year. I would be inclined to go pitcher first and let Maybin, Mallex, Swisher, and Neck, (with possibly a Bourn non supremacy) cover for 16.

    Then MAYBE we have a chance of 17 being good with a 120 ish payroll.

  25. I looked at splits on Castro and Peterson yesterday and it is VERY small sample, but if Castro started against lefties and Peterson against righties it might be a 3 WAR platoon (slightly above average offense and defense).

    Castro DEFINITELY makes tendering an arb contract to Ciriaco irrelevant.

  26. @ 35

    Bronson Arroyo
    do you happen to know the boyo
    who plundered his yacht
    sailing to Atlanta we had him entirely forgot.

  27. @35/40

    I love the way a ballplayer, confronted with a legal problem that was none of his own making, can simply write a 6 figure check, straighten the whole thing out you know, get it over with, move on.

    Would our lives were that simple. But we don’t have a sore arm.

  28. I’m sorry to keep bringing this stupid trade up, but why isn’t anyone else losing their minds over the fact that we traded our second best pitcher and a prospect for a dude that can’t play baseball? How can you guys possibly have faith in this front office? I don’t get it.

  29. I have a tired arm. Heck, I’m a septuagenarian. I have a tired everything.

    I could write a six figure check too. Then I’d be a ward of the state, but I’m too old for communal showers.

    What’s a dried up old fart to do?

    @42: Hector’s an out-of-practice second baseman. Third base is something we hope he can play. It probably requires less range but better, quicker reflexes. He may not get good, but he will get better; and good is not out of the question.

  30. Frumious bandersnatch
    Yankees are down the hatch
    Jeers in the Bronx mean no fortune no fame

    Probabilistically
    Girardi is history
    Lots of bucks paid to play just one more game

  31. BravesJournal collective:

    April 2014: In Wren we trust
    September 2014: Wren has to go
    October 2014: In the Johns we trust
    August 2015: Never mind that last statement
    October 2015: Can we have Wren back?

  32. I guess I haven’t progressed through the Stockhom Syndrome ranks as fast as the rest of you guys yet…

  33. @32

    ububba…

    a question please about Vegas sports books and their import and what can be gleaned from them…and what can not.

    They surely operate in a vacuum, a world of their own, and reflect and mean nothing other than the weight of money, or lack of it, attracted to a certain proposition.

    You and I, were we Croesus, could have radically changed the Yankees over/under with one phone call. That number then has nothing to do with whether the Yankees are a good or a bad team, it simply follows the money which may or may not be right.

    So the season is played out and the Yankees lose 7 games less than the money said they would. What bearing does that have on the futures of Girardi and Cashman? They make the Wild Card game and look awful against Houston. Shut out, old, crowd hostile before the end. First time in the post season for three years and this happens. And it was predictable it would. If I could see it coming you would have to think anyone could.

    If the Almighty George were brought back for a few days would he be in any way consoled by the statistical fact they lost 7 games less than Vegas said they would? No, he would fire Cashman and Girardi. Cheers.

  34. @43

    coop…

    One thing about you that is not tired is your digital pen, your output this season was prodigious and we all have thanked you for it.

    Console yourself with the thought I am older than you. I believe, collectively, we are approaching 150 or thereabouts. Funny, isn’t it, it’s the two oldest farts on here who have got something to say all the time.

    Retirement, you and I know. Precious hours.

  35. krussell @ 42,

    I just don’t see a need to get “out of my head.”

    Expanding on what Coop said, all of the scouts were uniform that Hector, before his health problems, was a good enough fielder to play 2B in ML. Scouting fielding is very accurate. It is harder with hitting because when the pitching level goes up, it destroys some hitters, while others are barely affected. In groups, you can take estimators. But those don’t give insight on specific problem pitches or velocities. Plus, SEVERAL ML teams were seriously considering Hector to around 30 million. So, most people thought he could hit well enough to hit ML pitching, but the possibility that he couldn’t AND the possibility that the nagging health problems would continue to limit Hector capped his value. Well at least for everybody other than the Dodgers whose cap was a whole lot higher.

    Plus, the weight he has gained since regularly playing 2B in Cuba (looks like muscle) is typical of the kind of change that would move a 2B somewhere, and 3B is the best alternative location assuming that. And, if the muscle adds power without costing too much BA, then the walk rate should go up slightly also and the offensive profile fits 3B nicely.

    The footwork and specific moves are a little different at 3B from 2B. All throws go to the player’s left. The “Chipper style” barehand and throw from the crouch is useful at 3rd but not done with any force at second. Hector’s overthrow at second about 3 weeks ago on a potential double play is the kind of thing that practice (even through a winter league) will help a lot.

    By June of next year, we will know if Hector can carry fielding and hitting well enough at 3B to be an average or better ML player. My prediction is a position adjusted 110 OPS + and average fielding. I may be wrong. We will not KNOW before around then. So, IF he fails, that will be a position that will be on the offseason going to 17 to resolve.

    As to giving up Wood, I don’t think I would have done this. The FO all but said “Hector is a 3 WAR or better 3B and Wood is a disaster waiting to happen.” Not sure I agree with that, but what is done is done.

  36. There’s a million if’s that all have to break the right way for this trade to make sense. Giving up a young/cost-controlled/good pitcher should warrant a return that has a higher probability of success. I think there’s a 50/50 shot that this guy won’t even play 50 games for us.

  37. Bigger question is, if the trade does not work out does anyone get held accoutable like the Johns held Wren accountable for the Upton/Uggla deals. My guess is no.

  38. @45

    hey! more please when you can and if anyone else posts one could you please critique/suggest?

  39. 54—LOL. Why on earth would that be any rational person’s guess? If the trade proves to be the disaster so many are currently framing it as, that will certainly go in the “Major Negatives” column for John’s/John’s/Johns’ evaluation.

    As you may or may not recall, Wren was held accountable not only for Upton/Uggla, but also for Lowe/Kawakami/DeVall/Lipka/Gilmartin/Hursh/etc./being an asshole.

    I still don’t know what to think about the Frank Wren Era as a whole — and I know I don’t like the constant badmouthing he’s received since his termination — but I fail to understand this idea that the higher-ups have proven to be too hard on him and too light on the new guys. If they demonstrate a pattern of screwing up, I’m confident they won’t be around any longer than Wren was.

  40. Copollela has been here the whole time. I’m not buying that he was sitting in his cubicle in the basement mumbling “no Frank, please don’t sign BJ…” to himself while nobody paid attention. You have to think most every move made during the Wren era had consensus buy-in before it was made.

    I get that you have to hold the GM accountable, but blaming it all on one guy while all the other guys still have jobs (and get promotions) doesn’t feel right to me.

  41. 54/56, Hart’s been kicked upstairs, Coppy won’t be blamed, amd McGuirk ain’t firing Schuerholz ever. It’s a moot point.

    Eta, 57 hell yeah the Johns were in on the whole thing. Tell Mikey it was nothing personal, just business. I always liked him.

  42. @56, I think his point is that literally everyone in charge of the team right now was on board during the Wren era, and presumably exercising some influence on the above list of decisions. Their response was to sacrifice Wren, promote themselves, and quickly tear the team down in a manner that makes their performance unfalsifiable for 4+ years (“well we’re just waiting on these minor leaguers…”)

    Were Coppolella, Schuerholz, Cox, Hart et al. just getting paid to sit in their offices with their thumbs in their butts while Wren wrecked the minor league system? That’s the official narrative, apparently. Don’t look at us, it was just the guy at the top. Well, guys. Per Office Space, “what would you say you do here” from about 2008-14? That’s why @54 suggests there are some figures here whose status as tenured/emeritus/whatever makes them essentially above accountability to this organization.

    It makes one think the only thing on your list Wren actually got fired for was “being an asshole.”

    @42, fear not, I am losing my mind over this too. I wouldn’t so much as trust these guys to build a bridge over a — oh, right.

  43. I’ve always been a big fan of the quote “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and degenerates into a racket.” Now I want that line to be followed by : The John Schuerholz Story on rain delay broadcasts.

  44. “Some” is the key word in the phrase “some influence.” Hart was a consultant, and Coppy answered to Wren, was directed by Wren to make Wren’s objectives happen, etc. I don’t disagree about the ugliness and silliness of the narrative that it was all Wren’s fault, but I can’t come close to this leap from there to the point where you’re assuming that everyone will just look the other way as Coppy screws everything up.

    These guys want to win. They trust Coppy to do a better job of building a winner than Wren could have done. We’ll find out if they’re right.

    You move your team out of the city and into the ‘burbs, and you sure do make a lot of your otherwise rational, city-dwelling fans into anxious-to-find-fault-everywhere haters.

  45. guilt by association?

    John Coppollela
    by some accounts he’s a flopp of a fella
    in office secluded
    Rome burnt while he fiddled and brooded.

  46. @61, I can’t resist this particular retort – you haul in a stash of three-star recruits and only the Vandy fans talk themselves into the diamonds in the rough you most likely probably found.

    But you have a point in that the particular blend of insularity and incompetence I’m witnessing on the front lines of the stadium deal reflects negatively on the baseball ops side from where I sit.

  47. Every single one of us could run the team so that we come in last for 3 or 4 years and try to rebuild with draft picks. That takes literally no special skills whatsoever.

  48. Part of the rap on Wren is that he was a know-it-all micro-manager. Which either explains how Coppy would genuinely have had minimal say-so wrt Wren’s dumber decisions…or is EXACTLY WHAT THE JOHNS WANT YOU TO THINK .

    If the Johns didn’t feel any sense of accountability, they wouldn’t be out in the media saying dumb things about the rebuild timeline (and then effectively walking them back with this new talking point of the bullpen being the top priority). The accountability comes in ticket sales/TV ratings, and they’re not immune to it, perhaps excepting Schuerholz.

  49. I feel like we’ve made our bed in regards to Olivera. He’s our third baseman for better or for worse, with the only possible backups as the guys who make up the second base platoon and of course Adonis. I’m pretty content with an infield mix of Simmons, Freeman, Olivera, Jace, Adonis and Castro. For me Catcher is the most urgent and glaring hole. We’ll either have to spend liquid assets or prospects to get the catcher we need, but I’m confident it will happen. There are several ways we can go in the outfield. Swisher sticks around to replace the John Gomes role and Bourne fills in as the defensive replacement, pinch running guy that Eury was for a while. I figure we add one veteran to share outfield time with the cleveland trainwreck guys. It’s not exciting, but it’s not terrible either. An upgrade at Catcher will make this feel like a major league roster,

  50. Catcher was our 3rd best position this past year, after 1B and SS, if you go by bbref’s wins-above-average. The production from AJP is actually better than most anything you’re likely to get on the market. Yeah, he’ll be another year older, and he can’t play tons of games, but if you just platoon him with someone not-named Bethancourt then we should be ok there.

    The entire OF is a neutron star of suck. We have to work on that (at least some) for next season.

  51. the puritanical American office?

    posted on a British soccer blog this morning – the owner has just been transferred to NY..

    “Be careful about drinking with work colleagues, xxxxx. Some work places in America can be puritanical while others are near libertine. I hear weirdest stories from my American colleagues about their work place rules.”

    would love to hear if this is true..

    and…could this explain Coppy’s problems? Ha!

  52. @69, I think it’s likely he’ll get another season with us b/c he’s buddies with Hart (maybe buddies is a stretch…former neighbors, long-time acquaintances…). But yeah it’s definitely possible that he’ll get a good offer elsewhere and take it.

  53. @ 70

    the Front Office scene
    it may be puritan or libertine
    still casts a glow
    and you become what others are, just so you know.

  54. @71
    The TV announcers said the other day that the front office said something like “We’d love to have him in 2016, but so would all 30 clubs”. This sounds like the FO positioning itself to cut ties. But whatever, he’ll be 41 and at best a backup. I imagine they still would like to bring in the real catcher now, let him get acquainted with the club, pitchers, etc…before the year where we actually contend, but I guess that’s just what seems like a good idea to me, perhaps the catcher spending will happen in 2017 and beyond.

  55. As far as the last outfielder, I’m interested in Will Venable, Shane Victorino and Chris Young as guys who could probably provide some value on a cheap 1 or 2 year deal.

  56. Poll: Burn it all down?

    Don’t you have to actually have something first, to set on fire?

    Burning down this steaming pile would begin and end at trading Freeman.

  57. 64—Actually, I would guess that VU fans know quite a bit more about what goes into good baseball than Bama fans do…

    Anyway, the only thing I’ve talked myself into, really, is this: Every personnel move these guys have made since firing Wren and undertaking the rebuild has been, at a minimum, defensible. So, I’m going to wait a while longer, until there’s more evidence on the back end, before reaching any conclusions in either direction about how well they’ve done their jobs. I grant that this is easier to do as a long-distance fan who suffers no butthurt as a result of the team’s forthcoming emigration to Smyrna.

  58. I think we’ve all overlooked one of the new regime’s strengths that was also one of Wren’s weaknesses, which is bench construction. I think that if we had guys like KJ and Uribe around during Wren’s tenure we may have had more solid consistent lineups over the course of a season. The stars and scrubs models that Wren gave us often lacked veteran leadership and the safety valve we needed to combat the utter futility of Mudge, Uggla, Johnson and company.

  59. @77

    To me every move they’ve made has been a hail mary prayer in which they can either look like geniuses if they work out or claim they had to make these sort of decisions because the last guy sucked so it’s not their fault Mike Foltynewicz can’t throw a strike. This is of course while ignoring the fact that they were ostensibly still in charge during the whole period but I guess were too afraid to talk to Wren to check up on how his scouting was going so they can’t be held accountable for that either.

    My point is what would it take for anyone to lose a job here? 5 years of shitty baseball? 10 years?

  60. I hope you guys are listening to the Js interview on 680 the fan right now. He just guaranteed the team will definitely be a 500 or better ballclub and said that the president of baseball ops is actually the GM and the GM is actually the assistant GM. Jesus.

  61. @79, change will come when the fans don’t show up at WFF. Fortunately for them, they get a couple years of grace period until the new-ness wears off.

    Until then, they have a free pass. Job performance can’t be evaluated because this is a “process”. Trust the process.

  62. @77, they play baseball in college? When did this start?

    I respect your patience but I’ve got a pitchfork with your name on it for you to claim whenever you feel ready.

    @80, they’ll say what they need to in order to move a few season tickets in the lame-duck season. Doesn’t make it any less of a lame-duck season.

  63. 84, Agree, but aint nobody buying season tix for this heap next year, whistling past the graveyard notwithstanding. And telling the world your new GM isnt really the GM, he just got a title and a payraise to keep him from leaving wont inspire much confidence from fans or the new GM for that matter. And what happens when they are sub 500 next year? People that buy season tickets (I had them for 15+ years) remember that stuff honestly, as do the potential pool pf buyers. It just seemed counterproductive.

  64. 2016: .500 or bust!!! That makes for a shitty t-shirt. Our own guys are telling us that our goal is to be really really average. Probaby best if they just STFU.

  65. I just love how they can claim with great confidence that they won’t let this happen next year, you know, right after allowing it to happen this year.

  66. @78, if by bench players you mean Atlanta starters sent to other teams to be bench players, yes, the new regime are brilliant at that. But that’s not what’s usually meant by assembling a bench.

    The guys who served on the actual MLB bench were a horrorshow in the aggregate; Pedro Ciricao, of the 75 OPS+, led the team in PH appearances. It’s more of a scrubs and scrubs model, which I grant you does allow for more lineup consistency.

  67. These conversations today make me so happy that we have been good since I was a wee lad. We have entered one season in the last 25 years where we knew we didn’t have any shot at competing. I kinda like that.

    To be hearing a “guarantee” that we’ll be above .500 in the second year of a rebuild is fine by me. The AL West winner won 88 games this year. The NL East winner won 90. That’s not a real high bar to shoot for to make a real playoff series. If you don’t “believe” in the “rebuild”, that’s fine, but to be .500 or better a year after selling off your entire roster is not bad.

    More things to note:
    -11-7 in our last 18 games to end the season.
    -14 of our MLB.com’s top 30 prospects have a projected ETA of 2017.
    -We have money to spend.
    -We have, by my estimation, 32 MLB caliber players in the system.
    -We have, by my estimation, 4-5 prospects that have real trade value this offseason.

    At some point, you have to acknowledge that the Atlanta Braves are a rebuilding team, and either get behind it for the next 17 months, or be cheer for the Washington Nationals. I didn’t think so.

  68. to be .500 or better a year after selling off your entire roster is not bad

    As Rick Blaine said to Maj Strasser on how he’d react to the Germans marching down Broadway, “When you get there, call me.”

  69. @88

    Yeah I seem to recall a long series of interviews where they claimed we were not going to pull an Astros and go full rebuild. Then they promptly tore everything up at the first sign of trouble in July like we all knew they would. I agree they just need to STFU, every time I hear them talk it makes it worse.

  70. @93,

    Scheurholz: I’m shocked, shocked to find out that bad team management is going on here!

  71. 79—Every move? Heyward and Walden for Miller and Jenkins was a Hail Mary? Kimbrel for Wisler and a bunch of money to spend elsewhere? $10 million of that savings in exchange for last year’s #16 pick?

    The Wood/Olivera deal is the really risky one. All the others range from “solid” to “really, really good.”

    86—Agreed. No idea what he thinks he’s gaining by saying those things.

  72. This is gonna be a long freaking offseason. For the record, I do think the impending move to Cobb County is causing some of the fan angst, though I’m not sure how much. For my part, I find the whole ITP vs. OTP thing kind of silly. It’s all Atlanta, and as long as the Braves are within the metro area, they can do whatever they want as far as I’m concerned. The complete cluster with the bridge and Cobb County’s transit hangups and whatnot is amusing, but I view it as a separate issue.

    As far as Olivera goes, I thought he wound up showing some promise and that winter ball plus spring training will tell the tale. I realize a bunch of people gave up on him the millisecond they heard about the trade, but I saw nothing to suggest he can’t be our starting third baseman next year. Whether that’s worth Alex Wood is another question, but would you rather him not go to winter ball just so you can feel better about the fact that he didn’t have to go to winter ball? Why would he only play 50 games next year? Because of that elbow thing that most everyone has figured out isn’t really an issue? I mean…Jesus, guys. Giving him a legitimate chance would seem to be in order here.

  73. Gonna do a piece over at TT on the offseason’s spending. If you’re interested in sharing your opinion on how 30 million dollars (with no trades) and 50 million (with trades of Maybin and Swisher/Bourn) can be spent, shoot me an email with your idea: cothrjr at Hotmail dot com

    The piece is just for fun and to generate some page views in a period of little to no Braves news, so bring your creativity!

  74. Out of all of the gin joints in the world, why did we have to come to this one?

    [the greatest of movies]

  75. Oh, and I’m completely with Nick when it comes to keeping the new stadium shenanigans and the roster construction completely separate in my mind. I can shake my head about the former while maintaining hope and even optimism about the latter.

  76. Hey @94, remember that guy in the Chop House who spent the better part of an inning trying to convince us (or perhaps himself?) this was a playoff-bound team, during the Dodgers series in late July? I’m guessing he bought more tickets than we did this past year.

    You can fool some of the people some of the time, and I think that’s the entire PR strategy right now.

    @91, my country right or wrong! Except it’s not that, it’s a business competing with a lot of other things for my entertainment dollars and free time. They’re not going to lose people to the Nationals, they’re going to lose people to the movies.

    @100, +1.

  77. @97

    Yes the entire strategy is a hail mary. They tried to frame this as a retooling rebuild on the fly with only short term reprucussions on the field. After one year they lost exceptionally more games than they had discussed pre-season and maybe 1.5 of the players acquired in the trades were productive at the big league level so far.

    If the strategy does not work out and it turns out in 3 years they still have a crappy team then they will have blown up a 96 win team for nothing and be able to claim they’re still in the process. This really annoys me.

  78. @104 Yeah that guy had a LOT of great points. I just didn’t BELIEVE enough is basically why they tanked.

  79. That the liveliest thread we’ve had in probably three weeks comes three days after the end of the season seems like less of a coincidence and more of an indictment.

  80. 105—they will have blown up a 96 win team

    (1) Definitely not a 96-win team. That was 2013.

    (2) They blew a non-96-win team up exactly one year before it was scheduled to crumble on its own. The question is whether the rebuilding effort will be good enough to have made it worth sacrificing one year of competitiveness.

  81. In my fantasy world they could’ve kept some good players and spent some money to acquire other good players, rather than choosing to go all 76’ers on us. Everyone here basically acknowledges that we need to expand payroll in order to compete in 2017 and beyond. Expanding payroll 2 years early would’ve been my first choice. Losing the fanbase for 2 years or more is going to cost a lot more in the long run than adding 30 or 40 million to the 2015 budget would have.

    If you think that blowing up the team is just a fait-accompli then it’s reasonable not to be all panicked about the current situation. I’m not buying that we just absolutely had to do it.

  82. Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by “had to.” Does Liberty Media have to stick to whatever budget number they stick to? No. Do the folks working for Liberty Media have to stick to whatever budget number Liberty Media gives them? Yes.

    I agree that the best possible world would include an owner willing to spend more money. I don’t agree that the world we live in is one in which the Johns could have “kept [enough] good [enough] players and spent some money to acquire [enough] other good [enough] players” to continue being competitive without a crash at some point in the very near future.

  83. Let’s put it another way. Some think that adding David Price to this current shitshow would be a good way to jump start the turnaround. I think adding David Price to the 2015 roster with Heyward/JUpton/Gattis/Kimbrel still on it would’ve been a damn near lock for the playoffs.

    If we’re never going to make that kind of move, then we’re in dire shape anyways. If we are capable of making that kind of move, then you do it when the nucleus of the team is solid. Not when it’s full of guys that shouldn’t be in the league at all.

    Liberty’s CEO probably make more than the Braves players combined. I think they could spend tens of millions on the team if they wanted to. They just don’t want to.

  84. 112—Of course they could. But they don’t, and so whoever’s in charge of constructing the roster is therefore constrained, wouldn’t you say? So, then, the question becomes, what’s the best way of constructing the roster, given the constraints…right?

    A Price equivalent — we’ll call it “Lester” — plus the un-broken-up 2014 Braves cast would’ve been great in 2015, but the roster assemblers didn’t have enough money to spend to make something like that happen.

  85. I think lamenting the behaviors of the rich is both unproductive, and potentially in violation of the “no politics” rule. At the end of the day, budgets exist, no matter how they are derived and the income level of the entity setting them.

    It suggests to me that your overall issue is with the competitive unbalance of major league baseball. Adding $25M to the 2015 potential payroll puts us at around 8th in MLB in payroll. Well, yeah, I’d say we’d have a competitive squad at that point. Since that’s not going to happen, maybe you should go see a movie instead.

    EDIT: Orrrr… what Stu said. He’s got a knack for putting things better anyway.

  86. hey…

    great thread indeed…there’s no reason you guys can’t continue it in the new thread…

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