14 days, 372 comments later

Let’s new-thread. Here. I’ll provide a conversation starter via Peanut:

“With his first significant move as the Braves GM, Anthopoulos cleaned the lingering mess from the Olivera trade, which was fueled by Blakeley and Coppolella.

Hart didn’t like that deal from day one. Blakeley was determined to get Olivera after not signing him.”

55 thoughts on “14 days, 372 comments later”

  1. Fredi went down to Cuba to meet with Olivera and “bonded” with him down there. But who really knows? I mean, I have no reason to think Bowman is making shit up here.

  2. Td from last thread:

    @365 – Sure they did. My point is that the Dodgers GM didn’t have any problems with squeezing every uncle of blood and he’s still around and doing pretty well. He even has the audacity to continue to do business with the Braves after fleecing them a few years ago. I think the burden of a good or bad deal is on both parties. If the other GM is desperate, it’s hard not to take advantage of it. If the Dodgers were interested in fairness, they would have thrown in Kershaw and not Culberson. I’m afraid that isn’t happening.

    Not every deal is going to be a steal. The Braves got real benefit out of this deal (a couple of fungible arms, budget maneuvering room in 2019.) The Dodgers got real benefit out of this deal (resetting their luxury tax penalty.) Deals where each side get something they want while not harming their long term strategies are *good.* This is how actual business and actual deals get done. Real people negotiate from and toward a non-zero sum end, where both parties in a transaction win something useful. Only toddler-esque game show hosts think “winning” deals means the other guy gets a mouthful of shit and 20 lashes.

  3. “Camel” is likely a mistranslated term, either from the Aramaic or Ancient Greek. The Greek term for “camel” and the Greek term for “hawser” (the giant rope used to attach anchors to ships) are one character different. The sewing metaphor works a lot more naturally if the saying is “it’s easier to fit ‘that giant ship rope over there’ through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

  4. @374 (previous thread) – People have been waiting for years for the Braves to spend money *to acquire high quality free agents*.

    Most of the money the Braves spent last year (and will spend in 2018) was essentially dead money. Anyone who has beef with Liberty failing to actually open their wallet to compete in the non-bargain-basement portion of the FA market to help turn the Braves into a contender (like they claimed they would be doing) rather than, say, acquiring Markakis or Colon or Dickey, may continue to hold that position today.

    Cots Contracts calculates the Braves 2018 payroll, at present, at $116.8M. $62.5M of that is used up by AGonz, Kazmir, McCarthy and Markakis.

  5. @6, C’mon, Uncle Blood, I already said that. Anyway, the beauty of the phrase is that the accidental camel is better than cable or hawser, and uncle is better than ounce.

  6. Snitker had the following quotes from the winter meetings. Response to AA’s new regime and the role analytics will play:

    “I told him, ‘Hey, I’m 62 years old and have spent my entire career relying on my gut and my eyes,’” said Snitker. “But getting to know the people that Alex has brought in has been enlightening. This is kind of where we’re going in the game, and… they’re showing us the information. And there’s a lot to it. It’s very interesting for somebody like me that doesn’t have that background.

    “Now I kind of get what I’ve been reading about, what I’ve been hearing about with the analytics side of the game, I’m already understanding what that’s all about and now, as these guys say, we’re going to get the information and get it in the players’ hands. It’s kind of like you see what they’re talking about.”

    My thoughts:
    1. It’s encouraging to hear that this is happening and that Snitker is enthusiastic.
    2. It seems to confirm my fears that the Braves org had not, until this point, been focusing on the kind of analytic mindset in the organization. This means they are behind the pack and likely way behind from where the most successful teams are.

    Quote can from Fangraphs btw.

  7. @10 – agreed. It’s one thing to have your stats geeks embedded in the front office, tweaking prospect rankings and getting into Twitter wars with computer nerds. It’s a completely different thing to have an approach and a team who can take the real knowledge and information gleaned from statistical analysis of player behavior and *communicate it to the players in a way that they can understand, and learn from.*

    What I see in that quote from Snitker is “the new front office is way better at talking to us like we’re not idiots.” I may be reading it angrily towards the last guys, admittedly.

  8. @9 What’s ironic is that that’s the exact deal some people don’t want to do now. “NO! YOU CAN’T TRADE RANDAL DELGADO!” And that’s the difference between where we are now, and where we were back then. There wasn’t such concern over the depth of the farm. There wasn’t this fear that you’d trade away the next Clayton Kershaw. We wanted to win, so we sent an established player (Prado), a high-end pitching prospect (Delgado), a legitimate but not spectacular infield prospect (Ahmed), and a legitimate but not spectacular pitching prospect (Spruill), and filler (Drury, who ended up not being filler). And no one cared. We got a top left fielder and a solid piece (Johnson), and no one was gnashing their teeth over years of control or what prospects we gave up. Why? Because we’re trying to win, and that’s what you do. Guaranteed, no one in the comments of the Braves Journal post that day was worried about what Brandon Drury or Randal Delgado were going to do, and how we would re-sign Upton or Johnson.

    And it has a lot to do with what gets shoved down our throats by the leadership. We weren’t having “this GM screwed us! That GM screwed us!” coming out of the tweets like Sam posted. It was one big happy family with JS enjoying the praise of the succcess, and it was only until they started losing that they started to throw the GMs under the bus and JS and Hart all come out rosy. Frankly, it’s bullshit, and forgive my language. And it’s the nastiest of the type because it’s not just taking credit for something you didn’t earn or finding a silver lining in a bad season or whatever propoganda Bowman throws out; it’s blaming Wren and Coppy for your problems instead of where the blame should lie: the common denominator (JS) and his proxy (Hart). And since Peanut and DOB and whomever want to maintain access, this shovel this BS out tweet by tweet so that people won’t look at the current administration ever. Here’s a piece of advice, Braves: if you want to blame a previous employee for all of your problems, you can do that every, say, 20 years or so. But you can’t do the same damn thing 3 years after you did it before. You don’t get enough time for people to forget. You don’t get the benefit that things had changed in the interim and it was another aberration. They’re the problem.

    And out of all this, the only person you actually feel like is telling you the truth is crazy old Jeff Wren.

  9. I think a lot of the players already have an analytical bent. They care about WAR, and pitch-framing, and other geeky shit, because it’s used to negotiate their compensation.

    The sea change is going to be to use information at the macro level for the long plays. Roster-construction, draft rankings, FA targets, etc.

    In-game strategy should also tick up a bit, so that we at least won’t be bitching as much about bad hitters high in the order, or bringing in relievers to face the wrong side of a severe split. Other than that I don’t think we’ll notice much game-to-game. We’ll still bitch when the odds-on move doesn’t work.

    @12, agree 100%. Good rant.

  10. #11 – I pretty much think that’s spot on.

    Has Peanut’s latest tweet been discussed? Basically blaming Coppy and Blakeley for the olivera trade while letting Hart off the hook. Seems to me Hart could’ve blocked that trade. When did become the “Braves way” to try and air out dirty laundry in the public and always finger pointing?

    Edit: Sorry, I see it was addressed there by Rob at #12. I hadn’t refreshed the page but glad to know Im not alone in thinking about it this way.

  11. Blaming the guys you just fired has been the Braves Way for a decade it seems. The buck stops one step from the top.

  12. I think a lot of the players already have an analytical bent. They care about WAR, and pitch-framing, and other geeky shit, because it’s used to negotiate their compensation.

    The sea change is going to be to use information at the macro level for the long plays. Roster-construction, draft rankings, FA targets, etc.

    Um… Actually, I don’t think this is what Snitker is talking about. (I could be wrong. It happens once a decade or so.)

    I think the analytics Snitker is likely talking about here is more “launch angle analysis” and “exit velocity when you go opposite field” and the like. Yes, players want high WAR values, because that’s what they get praised and paid for. But you don’t turn a marginal journeyman (let’s call him Aame Ladams) into a useful MLB player by saying “DUDE, WAR MORE BETTER!”

  13. @18, you probably also don’t create a good hitter out of a bad one by saying DUDE, MORE LAUNCH ANGLE! Baseball analytics conversations have a pervasive misplaced cause-and-effect problem. We’re measuring qualities of good power hitters, and documenting the things that lead to desirable outcomes. It remains to be seen if you can actually teach for the good outcomes.

    But don’t get me wrong, measuring the things that actually matter means that we’ll be able to rank players better, and not get fleeced as much. It doesn’t mean we’ll all of a sudden tap a new market inefficiency. Everyone has been doing this for a while now. We’re the stodgy holdouts that are late to the party.

  14. @18, you probably also don’t create a good hitter out of a bad one by saying DUDE, MORE LAUNCH ANGLE!

    Maybe not. But baseball men have been having a debate about whether or not hitters should try to add a little uppercut to their swings since at least Ted Williams (the Splinter was a proponent of ‘launch angle’ via uppercutting the ball.) Meanwhile the Joe Simpsons of the world preach “swinging down on the ball.”

    I’d guess the real edge of analytics would be to sort the pile of various prospects and semi-prospects and figure out which ones should add a bit of uppercut and swing for the fences more, vs which ones should stay level or down on the ball and try to outplay “BABIP.”

    Regardless, “swing with more uppercut” is in fact something ou can coach and teach. “Be better with the WAR” is not.

  15. Yeah I agree with that for sure. Ted Williams’ book is still the blueprint, imho. Slight uppercut keeps the bat on-plane with the ball longer, because the ball comes in at a slight downwards angle. It’s just basic common sense. Not sure we need analysis for that.

    The way you apply this is to try to acquire the guys that have the swing mechanics (and outcomes) that you like for the power positions, and stay away from guys like Jason Heyward that swing down on the ball.

    I think the “quality-of-contact” stats are the only ones to look at for a young hitter.

  16. I think the “quality-of-contact” stats are the only ones to look at for a young hitter.

    I tend to agree. Which is funny, because at the end of the day, this is just a spreadsheet geek way of saying “the ball sounds different off his bat.”

  17. The difference between old and new school is subtle, but important. I think the eye-test is valuable, but the scout with those eyes can’t evaluate ten thousand players. He can’t be everywhere at once, and his sample sizes on the eye tests that he does get to are small.

    If we can get the real statcast-ish metrics from every amateur and minor league game, then you can make it so that the scouts can actually be everywhere. I don’t know how far we are from that. Most players are on video, but I don’t what it will take to get the realtime metrics that we get at the MLB level. Seems like it would be very advantageous to invest in it at the MiLB level.

  18. Sure. But they’re not wiring up the Gulf Coast League parks with StatCast any time soon, either.

  19. It remains to be seen if you can actually teach for the good outcomes.

    We’re so far behind, we don’t realize other teams are already doing this too.

  20. @26, the teams that do will have an edge. Briefly. Put it in your home parks and don’t tell anyone. Better than throwing $10M at guys that can’t play.

  21. @4 Upon further reading and thought on this, no, I think you, as well as others, have got the right understanding after all. It appears I was probably mistaken in accepting as truth what I’d heard before about the eye of the needle being an actual gate. It seems far more likely that the actual parable referred to a rope or knot of some sort since that would have been easy for anyone to commonly understand.

    Regarding analytics and putting information into the hands of the players, that seems painfully obvious in this age. Unless you’re planning to just get incredibly lucky in all your dealings and field a “super team” of talent, you’ve got to figure out how to manage what you’ve got to its maximum potential.

  22. Tyler Flowers has matched Realmuto with the bat the last two years running, and is a much better pitch framer. If AA is on the phone with Miami, he should be working something for Yelich.

  23. Suzuki and Flowers both had career years and are only signed past this year. Realmuto would help any team but San Francisco.

  24. Also, I would have liked Adrian Gonzalez as a bench bat. I mean, why not?

    Whose spot on the roster would he have taken? Adonis Garcia?

  25. Adrian has a no-trade clause, which he agreed to waive on the condition that the Braves designate him so that he could have the opportunity to be a starter again.

    He’s been one of my favorite players.

  26. Tyler Flowers:

    2016: .357/.420/.777 109
    2017: .378/.445/.823 117

    JT Realmuto:

    2016: .343/.428/.771 111
    2017: .332/.451/.783 109

    Yes, Realmuto is younger. Yes, Realmuto catches every day and Flowers platoons. But I’m not sure going every day is a plus for a catcher *long term.*

    If I’m spending valuable trade assets with Miami, I’m targeting Yelich.

  27. Why not target both?

    I still don’t understand why we didn’t keep Adams for a bench bat. Was $4.5m too much for some power and 1B insurance?

  28. So, DOB basically just went off about Matt Kemp. Apparently his weight wasn’t the biggest problem. I think I recall San Diego wanting to trade the guy because of his clubhouse presence. Apparently changing club houses didn’t do him any good.

  29. Clearly the Beehive has been waiting for the official all-fire signal to unleash on some people.

  30. Very insightful … in my time there as Special Asst to GM, JS was in all of our meetings and planning sessions and was supportive and in agreement with moves made. He was the first voice stating that we needed to lockup Uggla LT…— MLB Grapevine (@MLBGrapevine) December 18, 2017

    I’m not yet done with this. This was Jeff Wren’s response to my questioning of Peanut’s tweet that Sam included in this post.

    I feel a little bit for Peanut. This team has had a pretty horrible offseason, so far, where they had the worst scandal in years, and the biggest piece of “news” is getting out of a bad contract in a complex trade where the average fan doesn’t get it and the savvy fan is just tired of the Braves having 9 years worth of bad contracts that has forced us into a 4+ period of ineptitude. So he doesn’t have much to work with. But the only thing that is going to appease disenfranchised fans is landing a big player. And if even the best AA arm is keeping them from doing it, then shame on them.

  31. Well, when you get the chance to bring in a lazy veteran with a terrible attitude to mentor your young players, you pretty much have to take it.

  32. @ 6/8

    Aramaic Sam
    a stickler for the hawser epigram
    Edward and his accidental camel
    the needle beckons,neither will untrammel.

  33. They should fire the people who made the series of trades that resulted in Kemp being a Brave.

  34. John Skipper
    by all accounts a rather frequent dipper
    what took so long?
    ESPN, the Slide, ignored the Siren’s Song.

  35. @10: My take on the Snitker quote is that there are two kinds of stats geeks: (a) the ones that use data to figure out who’s a good baseball player and (b) those who do the same thing but can explain what they’re doing to the Snitkers of this world in a way that doesn’t make them seem like dinosaurs suspended over tar pits. As a practicing statistician, there are loads of people who can do (a); the (b)s are pretty rare and much more valuable. Indeed, the (b)s can actually learn from the not-yet-dinosaurs.

  36. I have to admit that I was quite wrong on my frustrations about Matt Adams’ non-tender. With minimal teams connected to him and a glut of inventory, it’s clear they weren’t going to get anything for him this offseason. We could always sign him. He’d be a better bench bat than Garcia, Ruiz, etc.

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