44 thoughts on “Just Two More Weeks…”

  1. Braves have signed 7 free agents to Major League contracts this offseason, tying for most in the Majors. Crazy, huh?

  2. @4 Let’s see – we re-signed a bunch of guys who played with us last year: Kelly Johnson, Jim Johnson, and A.J. Pierzynski. The truly new FA acquisitions are Gordon Beckham, Tyler Flowers, Emilio Bonifacio and Bud Norris. I’d classify nearly all of these signings as “low risk, medium reward” types that are just fine considering the Braves’ rebuilding posture this season. Hopefully most of these guys will be solid contributors and help the Braves stay respectable in 2016 and/or serve as good trade fodder (as Kelly Johnson did last season).

    I have to wonder if Bud Norris would be a good mentor for Folty. Norris was never great, but had a number of passable middle-of-the-rotation type seasons. I’d take his career production for Folty.

  3. @4 – Interesting, but it shouldn’t be too surprising. We’ve rid our team of a lot of major league assets and have traded or released them for prospects. These prospects aren’t ready for prime time and the FAs are a stop gap. The free agents are mostly castaways or formerly useful players who could help if they return to their former selves. As always, it will be fun to see if anyone can catch fire. Unfortunately there may be a few dumpster fires.

  4. Rebound candidates on Braves 25-man roster: EVERYONE not named A.J., Adonis, Arodys, or Ender. That’s good, right? Oh boy…

  5. 2008 Rotation….Jurrjens, Morton, Campillo, James, Reyes

    2016 Rotation….Teheran, Wisler, Norris, Perez, Chacin

    Going to be a long year until some of the young guys are ready.

  6. @8 I’m not totally sure that’s the rotation for this year, but that’s a scary point. Jo-Jo Reyes is Manny Banuelos, Charlie Morton is Folty, meaning they’re great candidates for busts, but I don’t remember Jorge Campillo or Chuck James being considered top prospects, and Chacin has at least had some good years. I’m still wondering what the Rockies know that we don’t on him. Why else give him up?

  7. I don’t think Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes were ever top 100 prospects. Charlie Morton was a late bloomer who didn’t have a good minor league season until he began dominating AAA at age 24-25. Folty and ManBan have higher ceilings and floors than those guys. They are more likely to be injury busts than talent busts.

  8. Morton, specifically, was a guy who had a good Spring Training and was being hyped up by the Braves’ media outlets. I’ve always assumed they were trying to build him up as trade bait, which of course he ultimately was (for McLouth, in one of those “seemed like a good idea at the time” moves that dot Frank Wren’s tenure). He didn’t become a useful pitcher until he completely overhauled his pitching motion with the Pirates. He kind of reminds me of Tyler Flowers in that respect, who (it seemed) went from nobody to indispensable top prospect whom Peanut and DOB wouldn’t shut up about to key piece in a trade for a major leaguer in about two months.

    (The other weird thing about Flowers’s minor league hype, incidentally, is that he was sold as a big bat who was questionable behind the plate and might have to move to another position to keep his bat in the lineup, but he developed into a useful defender and receiver carrying a subpar bat. There’s probably an alternate universe where he did both, and the team that signed him this offseason was a lot more excited about it.)

    Campillo was basically just a filler guy who threw a few good innings — he was never a real prospect.

  9. @8
    in 2008 we were deploying a group of non-prospects, the eventual help ((Medlen, Hanson, Minor, Beachy) was still a year or two out. In 2016 you have actual prospects likely to be waiting in the wings, If the Campillos and Chuck Jameses of the world pitch well, they’ll keep their spots, but I’d have to imagine that at least a few of our pitching prospects will begin forcing their way onto the roster.

  10. Hrm. Signing Lazarito would freeze the Braves out of the international market this summer, so in order to land him they’d have to be pretty sure they could get him to agree not to formally sign until July. I wonder if there’s any actual chance of that.

  11. @14

    I don’t see why Perez would be in the rotation if Banuelos and Folty are healthy. Banuelos wasn’t that much worse than Perez was, is left-handed (something we don’t have in the rotation), and has a higher upside. Same deal with Folty, besides the left-handed thing.

  12. @17 – Sounds good to me. Of course as a 16 year old Cuban OF prospect I don’t see him playing a major role in Atlanta for a few years.

  13. We should sign every 16-year-old position player available. By the time we have a respectable pitching staff, all those guys will be 22 and ready to contribute.

  14. @19
    I’m guessing timo just felt the three pitchers were similar. The three of them have similar builds and arsenals, underwhelming stuff, solid control. Effective enough, but you’d rather not have him in the rotation as a permanent fixture.

  15. Folty is expected to begin the season on the DL. Banuelos has a history of injuries. So, if you pencil in either make sure you have a big eraser. Hopefully Sims/Blair have a great spring and can force their way into that rotation.

    Speculation that the Braves will only sign Lazarito if he’s willing to sign after July 2nd.

  16. I doubt Blair or Sims makes the opening day roster. I think that whatever spots are left over after Julio, Wisler and Chud Norris will go to guys who broke the rotation last year and/or the veterans. It doesn’t make sense to sign Chacin and Kendrick if you plan on letting the guys who you see as future top starters break camp with the team. I kinda expect one spot to go to a veteran and one to go to Weber, Man Ban or Bills, with Man Ban getting every chance, as the only lefty starting option. Spots for the higher ceiling guys will likely start to open through poor performances, trades and injuries. As far as the prospects go, I predict they debut in this order: Blair, Gant, Jenkins, Sims then Newcombe. I’m not sure if circumstances will warrant us seeing all these guys in Atlanta this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are more or less ready for the show by the time the new park opens.

  17. There are only 162 games, and I just wonder how many mediocre starts will be given to middling or too-early prospects. Wisler will get 30, Teheran will get 30, Norris will get 20, then you have 80 or so to Folty/Man Ban/Perez/Chacin/Weber/Blair/Gant/Jenkins. What the heck’s the point? One of these guys will end up getting 1 or 2 starts and you’re not going to learn anything. Just consolidate it down to 7 or 8 starters (with the eventual trade of Norris and inevitable ineffectiveness of 1 or 4 of them creating the additional opportunities) and keep the rest in AAA.

    @15

    It’s that revisionist history (not that it’s a bad thing) that gives me hope for end of 2016 and 2017. Medlen and Beachy were not prospects. Neither of them were on the Braves 2007 top 10 list, and Medlen was 9th in 2008 in some lists. We weren’t going into 2008 saying, “Man, you just wait until that Brandon Beachy is ready.” They came out of nowhere.

    We have no idea who will finish the season in Atlanta’s rotation, but I would bet that it’s going to be 5 good starting pitchers that we will be excited to go into 2017 with. You heard it here first.

  18. http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2016/02/01/braves-bullpen-preview/

    Pretty thorough rundown on the Braves’ bullpen choices this year. Grilli/Vizcaino/Johnson/Simmons/Withrow looks really good, and if 80% of the innings are pitched by them, we’ll be in great shape. But the lefties make me yawn. I really wish the Braves could have gotten a decent left-handed reliever this offseason, unless Banuelos ends up in the pen.

  19. @23 exactly right. Had the “pleasure” of watching Perez get beat up by the Cubs last summer. He’ll be like Campillo and forgotten by 2017 IMHO.

    Edit: Then again, more than ten years ago, I wrote that “if the answer is Martin Prado, I don’t want to know the question”. So I really know what I am talking about when it comes to scouting.

  20. @27 The Braves’ bullpen last year ended up throwing 485 2/3 IP – Grilli, Vizcaino and Johnson combined for 115 1/3 IP and a composite ERA of (if my math is correct) 2.26, and the remaining chumps (plus Moylan, who was just fine in limited action) combined for 370 1/3 IP and a comically awful 5.44 composite ERA.

    Here’s my thought – if the Braves can get 200 IP from the members of the bullpen who we can likely project to be good (Grilli, Vizcaino, Johnson, Simmons) and some solid work from a few others (Withrow, Folty, ??) it’s entirely reasonable to think that the Braves will have an average-or-better bullpen next season. That would be a huge upgrade from last year, especially considering how un-clutch the 2015 pen was.

  21. I think we’re agreed that the bullpen is the aspect of our team that has the best (only?) chance to be average or better.

  22. Left-handed pitching is just so hit or miss, but check this out:
    Marksberry’s 2015 MILB numbers: .417 OPS against facing LHH
    Rutckyj’s 2015 MILB numbers: .636 OPS against facing LHH
    Krol- not much positive but apparently “stuff” is top notch
    McKirahan- same as Krol
    Banuelos- could wind up in bullpen considering health risk and has historically good numbers against LHH

    Diagnosis: lots of good arms and untapped potential. Hopefully there’s 2 long-term candidates somewhere in that pile.

  23. Crazy question. What if instead of us opening the year with Eric Stults, we open the year with Wandy Rodriguez last year? Stults was 1-5 in 8 starts. Rodriguez pitched for the Rangers and cooled down after a pretty good start and was 6-4. I think it would be realistic to think we could have won 4 more games with Wandy over Stults before the All Star Break. This would put us at 3 games over 500 instead of 4 games under 500 at the ASB.

    Question is would this have changed our approach to the 2nd half? Would we have actually tried to win instead of dumping decent players for prospects? We’ll never know, but it is interesting to think of how even a slightly below average pitcher could have changed our approach and overall season outcome. Of course, adding Roger Clemens in his prime would have probably not made us a playoff team.

  24. Question is would this have changed our approach to the 2nd half? […] Of course, adding Roger Clemens in his prime would have probably not made us a playoff team.

    I think you answered it for yourself.

  25. Had no idea Marksberry was so effective in LHH, albeit small sample. He just seemed to get hammered every time I watched. In the largest sample we have, his Rome 2014 numbers, that split didn’t hold–he was actually worse against lefties. I’m rooting for the guy though.

  26. Apparently Coppolella knows a mark when he sees it, because Gammons is reporting that the Braves were trying to take a bad contract off Arizona’s hands in order to get their hands on Isan Diaz, the young infielder who ultimately went to Milwaukee in the Jean Segura trade. I guess Dave Stewart was getting tired of being publically mocked whenever he announced a trade with the Braves.

  27. @ 34 – Kind of. I still think we may not have sold off all our remaining tradeable pieces for contract/ relief and prospects and we probably would have slightly later draft picks. In an extreme case, we may have even been buyers at the deadline and not sellers.

  28. There is no universe, given the 2014-15 offseason, where the Braves are correct to buy at the 2015 deadline. It would have been unimaginably dumb. If losing Jason Grilli to injury and trading Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe is all it takes to turn your team into a horrowshow, you don’t have a good team, sorry.

  29. @34, 38, td has proposed an interesting hypothetical. At no point did he suggest we would’ve made the playoffs with Wandy Rodgriguez, nor did he claim it would’ve been smart to buy instead of sell.

    Wandy would’ve taken all of Stults starts and some of Cahill’s, barring injury. That would’ve made us several games better, most likely, which would’ve complicated management’s decision to sell, potentially even causing them to make the serious blunder of buying, and would’ve worsened our draft position. It’s probably for the best that we kept the wrong pitchers and sucked all the more, as td said in @37.

  30. I don’t think it’s complicated. They knew they were going to sell going in. Grilli’s injury was the excuse to give up and start selling ASAP, but they were always going to do it. Wandy being an improvement on Cahill/Stults would’ve just resulted in him getting traded too.

    You don’t trade Heyward and Upton and then decide a few months later to reverse course because you’re a little over .500.

  31. Jonny Gomes is headed to Japan. They could use some more grit and someone telling them to run out pop-ups.

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