The Most 2015 Moment of 2015: The $189,000 Man (by Edward)

Ed. note: For those of you with heart conditions, or who are with young and impressionable children, we ask that you turn around in your seats.

We are all sick and tired of 2015. I think this past season of baseball will forever be linked in our minds with a sort of monolith memory black with despair.

However, what we feel as solid, obsidian despair does not exist. The monolith, like the Island of the Grand Jatte, is in this case an illusion, the powerful effect of a million pinprick baseball moments spread out over 162 games.

In the spirit of honesty, healing, and happiness, I have isolated a few of the more emblematic moments of the year for your consideration–after which consideration there will be a vote–after which vote let’s laugh about it and agree that it’s all over now.

Here are your nominees, then, for the Most 2015 Moment of 2015.

1. The $189,000 Man. April 28th, versus the Nationals.
Coming off a convincing 8-4 win against the NL-favorite Nationals, the Reloaded-not-Rebuilt Braves were 10-9 on the young season, 3 ½ up on the Capitol Creeps, and staring into the shaky eyes of a 23-year old A.J. Cole making his major league debut in the hostile confines of Turner Field.

The home team made quick work of the hapless rookie, hanging nine runs on him in 2 innings to bring on mop-up man Tanner Roark, who proved only somewhat more effective. The Braves were up 10-2 after 4 innings. Our 3-4 hitters, mainstay Freddie Freeman and the Improbable A.J. Pierzynski, had huge games. Freddie was 4-6 with a double and 3 runs scored; AJ was even better, going 4-4 with a walk and a sac fly. The Braves were riding high.

Jome Julio hit a rough patch in the 5th, though–with an assist from Alberto Callaspo‘s botched double play ball–and what was once a foregone conclusion became a bit of a ballgame. Braves 10, Nationals 6.

It was close enough that all of us at home began to worry about our kryptonite: former Braves players. As if on cue in the 7th, Feliz Navidad walks Bryce Harper (smart!) and Jose Lobaton (um…) to
put ducks on the pond for former Brave, Dan Uggla, who manages to knock them in with a triple on a high fly ball to right-center. (Reminder: Markakis and Maybin are currently slated to reprise their roles as everyday outfielders in 2016.) Next batter? Reed Johnson, obviously. Result? RBI double, obviously. Braves 11, Nationals 10.

The offense tacks on another, and the Braves head into the ninth inning with Proven Closer™ Jason Grilli facing Zimmerman, Espinosa, and Lobaton–who aren’€™t exactly Ruth-Gehrig-Meusel. Zimmerman fans, but Lobaton (who hit .199 on the season) singles and Espinosa (having at this point a career walk rate around 5%) takes a base on balls. Thunder Dan strides to the plate:

It isn’t the dramatic loss that hurts most–although it did seem to take the wind out of the team’s sails a bit. Nor is it our unfortunate, inevitable weakness against old Braves–even of the most useless variety. It’s not even the fact that Uggla did it for the absolute, most-hated enemy we’ve got.

No, here’s what hurts most. The $12,692,500 he earned from the Braves this year to play 67 games for Washington is one of the chief reasons the Braves are terrible now. After the front office cut him loose for being one of the worst players in baseball for two years running, first he picked up a World Series ring with the Giants, then he drove this dagger into our hearts. By my estimation, we paid him north of $189,000 for the privilege.

Following posts will introduce our subsequent nominees.

58 thoughts on “The Most 2015 Moment of 2015: The $189,000 Man (by Edward)”

  1. I think the Braves being connected to O’Day and Thornton is BS. They’ll sniff so it has good PR, but they’ll be signing retreads like they do every year and maybe an established, older guy like Grilli or Wagner.

    I cringe to add all of the money paid to Dan Uggla and Mudge. Makes my brain and heart hurt. I watched that live and our plight was personified so horribly.

  2. I keep forgetting how good Uribe is, at least in the eyes of FanGraphs. Averaging 5.1 WAR per 600 ab’s over the last three seasons. He was fifth on the Braves last season.

    Everybody talks about him being a great clubhouse guy. He hits and plays good defense. Not sure how he flies under the radar.

  3. @7, I think a lot of it is the fact that he’s chubby. A guy who looks like that is not supposed to be able to pick it like he can. (I personally believe that Ronnie Belliard was underrated for a while for the same reason.) I honestly couldn’t believe that Uribe was as good as the metrics said he was until he came to the Braves — that little dude can flat out play.

  4. Similar thing with Jhonny Peralta. If I recall correctly, Bill James once speculated that our whole notion of what makes a “good body” in baseball might be flawed, because, not infrequently, guys shaped like a fireplug — Hack Wilson, Yogi Berra — could put the Greek God-looking guys to shame.

  5. Definitely a factor. If he was a household name in his prime, he might be a hotter commodity. He was riding the pine behind David Wright, who was a shell off his former self.

  6. I think Uribe would’ve been the best player on the Braves had we kept him a full season. Of course we’re not really in the business of keeping guys a whole season.

  7. previous thread, 95

    sansho…yes, of course, too easy for the likes of you. Really enjoyed your thread, looks like everyone did.

    re Garber’s change up…oephus(sp?) or is that just generic?

  8. Is he back? beloved of poets.

    Chasen Shreve
    it seems too good to believe
    redemption, return
    we promise there will be no second spurn.

  9. @16

    I have to agree. We got some favorable calls. If they called defensive holding, FAU would have had 1st and goal inside the 5, and we’d have lost.

  10. MLBTR

    The Braves are one of multiple teams who have asked the Giants about Joe Panik and Matt Duffy in trade talks but San Francisco isn’t interesting in dealing either young infielder. Panik and Duffy may have come up in discussions with the Braves over pitching, as Cafardo reports the Giants have discussed Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller.

  11. @15

    Just a changeup. With his motion, I don’t think it was possible for Garber to throw an eephus, although I would have liked to see him try it.

  12. Is this even a contest? I was watching this one with family who were visiting. I commented somewhere between 10-4 and 10-6 that this one felt exactly like the Colorado game that jurrjens blew in 2010. You just knew the Nats would score a lot more and it would be just enough to win.

    And then when Uggla came up in the 9th, there wasn’t any question about what he would do. A walk or a single would’ve been just fine for their cause but it had to be something more dramatic. Uggla hadn’t hit a slider in 4 years, but it was as if Grilli forgot how to throw breaking pitches the moment uggla stepped in the box. He kept huffing belt high fastballs until ugglas blind uppercut swing met the same plane.

    Was that the last homer uggla ever hit? How apropos

  13. @3

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll take a look.

    Edit: Happily, one of my snarkier lines has been rendered obsolete since Friday’s trade.

  14. Google search of internet moguls from Atlanta turn up one Jeffrey T. Arnold.

    Jeff is a billionaire and was the co-founder of webMD, the primary resource of the Braves’medical staff.

  15. I’m really not sure what “back-fence” talk is. The Marietta Daily Journal doesn’t even bother contextualizing the rumor, nor do they clarify whether they have a source.

    The Furcal Rule is even more effect for this than usual. I think it’s almost counterproductive to take it seriously without some better-sourced followup reporting.

  16. @25

    “… webMD, the primary resource of the Braves’ medical staff.”

    As a medical professional, this made me laugh my ass off. Seems too true sometimes.

  17. The MDJ is horrible. Joe Kirby, their best editor, just died, so I’m sure they’re having fun printing more garbage than usual.

  18. If the Braves are in fact for sale, it might help explain why they are trying to trade anyone who costs money.

  19. The Dodgers just signed two huge Cuban prospects, the Cubs landed the on of the biggest a month ago.

    These are supposed to be the guys that we were going to be in on next year. These guys didn’t have their ducks in a row in time for the June signing period, and MLB, out of the kindness of their hearts has granted them exemptions to become free agents this year anyway. That’s unprecedented. They’ve never offered exemptions before.

    What a coincidence that the biggest teams went over budget this year, and are forbidden from international signings next year, and that MLB would make unprecedented moves to allow make more players available for signing before their sentences begin.

    We traded real talent away to get the slot space for our signings this year, just to make sure we didn’t incur any prohibitions next year. We were going to break the bank on Maitan and then since we were going to be penalized anyway, we were supposed to go all in on these guys. I don’t know why this isn’t a story.

  20. It’s not a story because nobody actually believed the Braves were somehow going to be preferred suitors for international talent while everyone else sat on their hands. Maitan and the like are going to the highest bidders, as they should.

  21. Mark Cuban wants to buy a team – His first choice was the Cubs, but that isn’t happening. I’m sure MLB would like to have him as an owner as opposed to the absentee Liberty.

  22. @32

    “I don’t know why this isn’t a story.”

    jj, all this stuff went down on an NFL Sunday. Nobody’ll notice til Tuesday.

  23. 33—Doesn’t seem like you understand what you’re talking about. These other teams *have to* sit on their hands during the coming international signing period, *by rule* (by having overspent in this and last year’s international signing periods). Maitan and the like will of course go to the highest bidders, but the Braves are all set to be the highest bidders in the coming international signing period. These other Cuban free agents were supposed to be part of that period (the period in which most of the big money teams are barred), too.

  24. As Stu said, there are around 10 teams that will not be able to spend much, if any, on the int’l market and most are the deep-pocketed teams.

  25. Honestly makes me wonder if MLB will find some reason why Maitan is ineligible for 2016, and is forced to wait a year, when coincidentally the large market teams are eligible again. They are getting away with the funneling the Cuban talent to ineligible teams without a peep from reporters, why not push it?

  26. I like the idea of us spending money on the international front. We do a better job evaluating international talent than home grown players.

  27. Willians Astudillo may be my favorite player in the whole organization at this point. When he gets the call, the Phil Collins parodies will write themselves.

  28. Our ol’ pal JC gets quoted in this article. In many ways, it might be the 2015est moment of 2015.

    “When asked if there could be more infrastructure costs associated with the stadium between now and its opening in April 2017, Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee responded: “Do you anticipate more rain in April than we have had in November?”

    There could easily be additional projects, some with big price tags.

    For example, it is still unclear how the county’s $14 million commitment of special purpose sales tax revenue will be used. That money is in addition to the county’s funding for construction and is dedicated to infrastructure projects around SunTrust Park.

    “To date, neither the infrastructure projects nor the funding sources have been … identified,” Cobb transportation director Faye DiMassimo said.

    Then there is the $10 million in property taxes from the Cumberland Community Improvement District for infrastructure improvements. The Cumberland CID is a 6.5-square-mile business district that raises funds by taxing property owners there. The CID’s annual budget is about $5 million.

    Tad Leithead, the CID’s chairman, said its contribution is being provided in annual $2.5 million installments directly to the Braves, and the team is not required to report back how the money is used. The district will make its second payment in December”

  29. @44

    I agree. It appears we have a farm system full of middle of the rotation pitchers and 2-3 tool role players.

    We need a few of those pitchers to develop into a top of the rotation guy and a few of these regulars to become…well…regulars.

  30. @44

    Definitely agree that a lot of players need to take a step forward. The good thing is that there are plenty of them.

  31. If the list @42 is attempting to prioritize (or at least balance) closeness to the majors over upside, then it’s actually kind of cool to see Albies, Gant (!), and Newcomb over Ryan Weber. Especially given what the author thinks of Weber.

    You’d think this would be the season that we would draft a can’t-miss prospect in the first round. As we get closer to the draft, that could be something worth getting excited about. Or we could have a “GA native, post-TJ, soft-tossing lefty” joke contest.

  32. @49

    Add on to that the guys we may get in the international signing period. There could be a lot of shifting the rankings.

  33. Willians Astudillo
    is this the way to Amarillo?
    i rather hoped i’d be
    with sweet Marie who waits for me.

  34. @38, I’m just pointing on the elephant in the room for this whole topic – the rules are made to be changed and/or broken, and it won’t be to favor the Braves or any of the lower payroll teams.

    Do you really trust the “handshake agreement” we have with Maitan? Is that something we should be building a whole strategy around? I mean I do understand that we don’t have much choice, but it’s not rational to act all surprised when the playing-field changes and the highest-bidders win the day.

  35. @50, As I said above, MLB is really screwing us on the international signing front. We were supposed to break slot just for Maitan, and then since we were already facing going to be penalized in 2017, we were supposed to go hard after a couple Cuban players. The Cubans are the real budget breakers, as they are older and have established their value against much more talented competition. As such we were supposed to add talent from ages 16 to 20, strengthening every level below AA.

    Now MLB is shifting Cuban talent into the 2015 pool, to make sure the Dodgers and Cubs get their fill while they’re allowed, and what’s worse, ONLY teams willing to go over slot (IE teams that are already overslot) can go after those guys. All the teams made their decisions in June, based on who MLB said was in this class, and therefore who wouldn’t be available until next class. The teams that wanted to be eligible next year made their decisions. In Atlanta’s case, we traded actual players away to get extra slots so as to the most out of this class and still be eligible for next year. By making exemptions for these guys, and moving them into 2015, ONLY teams that are already facing penalties can bid in them, as everyone else spent right up to their budgets. (EG, the Braves can’t trade for anymore slots as they’ve all been used, and a team like Tampa Bay that chose to trade away slots can’t get them back. Presumably, both Atlanta and Tampa Bay could have bid on these guys if they’d stayed in the class MLB said they’d be in.)

    So now, I’d look for Maitan and alot of other 16 year olds. We’ll really only be strengthening our short season clubs. There’s talent there, sure, and there will be a few good Cuban players remaining. But MLB let LA and Chicago hit the buffet early. They gobbled up most of the crab legs.

    Regarding the list at 42. I’ll say… that is a brave list. (Seriously, no pun intended.) I know a lot of groupthink tends to happen in prospect ranking. But that guy is really going out on a limb, his list looks like NO ONE elses.

  36. Ozzy Albies is a tiny little thing. I doubt his ability to impact the Majors with a bat. He may walk a lot though.

  37. Part of me thinks he’s right to place less emphasis on upside. A lot of ace-type guys take years to develop and don’t provide that much value before hitting the open market.

  38. 52—I trust the handshake agreement a little and, as I’ve said several times, the fact that the big bidders aren’t going to be allowed to bid on him a lot.

  39. @54 The clip of Albies included with that Fangraphs article is the first video I’ve seen of his swing – it certainly doesn’t look impressive. I suspect he may have less power than Dee Gordon.

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