A-Town Down, Volume 1

As Rob continues his new editorial direction here at Ye Olde Journalista de la Bravos, I’ve been toying with a sort of semi-regular bit called “A-Town Down.” If we decide to make this a part of New More Moderner Less Web 1.5 Braves Journal, Rob will let you know… – ed

In Braveslandia, Tomahawk Take has a video-link to Freddie Freeman saying all the right things. “I want to be here forever.” “Hopefully I can be here for the rest of my career.” Eh’body loves ’em some Fre-Fre already, and this should solidify those huggy-bear vibes even more. You get the feeling he honestly wants to play out a mirror of Chipper’s career dedicated to one team. Yay Huggy-Bear!

There was also a quick hit bit somewhere out there of Thoppy and Snikt stating the obvious; “we’d like to address the alarming lack of power on this team”, in so many words. But I lost the link. I’m a horrible person. Life is hard. Otherwise it’s just a bit of recycling of the same themes we’ve seen for two years now. The farm is good. Ronald Acuna is very good. One day they may be good in Atlanta. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Falcons talk the week before them not appearing in the Super Bowl consisted mostly of rosterbation. “Scouting reports,” free agent options, and more or less the same type of things Braveslandia have been doing to pass the time between actual games. They’re almost certainly going to bring Matt Bryant’s vampire ass back. (duh) They’d like to extend Ricardo Allen if they can, but not if it eats money they’ll need to drop $30m per year into Matt Ryan’s extension. The sort of off-season stuff that only deep dive fans are really going to keep up with. But by all means, if you want a skeleton of UCF WR Tre’Quan Smith as a potential replacement for Taylor Gabriel as the speed option at third WR, or Twitter pics of Takk McKinley in pre-op before a shoulder surgery, The Falcoholic is your stop this morning…

United is wrapping up a massively busy off-season following their inaugural season. Having traded for USMNT starter Darlington Nagbe out of Portland, they then brought in super-prospect 18-year-old Ezequiel Barco on the largest transfer payment (buying rights to the player from his current team) in MLS history. Then they lost 2017 stalwarts Yamil Asad and Carlos Carmona to various transfers away. UTD couldn’t work out a permanent agreement with Velez Sarsfield, Asad’s South American team, who asking the bank for his rights full time. It’s a loss in the attacking half, and Barco will have big shoes to fill in his vacated starting role.

Carmona was sold (traded away) to Colo Colo, a team in his native Chile. The move came a bit out of the blue, late in the winter transfer window and was made to honor Carmona’s wishes to be near his wife as she goes through a pregnancy with complications. You hate to lose a pivotal controlling midfielder like that, but it’s nice to see people respecting family when they should.

UTD start preseason games this week, a welcome addition to the ATL sporting scene in a calendar trough where the news is mostly about Tom Brady not dying in a fire (go Iggles?!) and the occasional highlight of the Hawks tanking. For the record, it’s really odd following UTD as a franchise, because I’m seriously out of practice with Atlanta sports management teams do really smart things repeatedly. 1995 was a long time ago. Very weird.

Speaking of the local basketballers, in their first tank year the Hawks seem to be better at losing intentionally than the Braves were. At 15-36 they’re locked in a battle for lottery odds position with Orlando, Sacremento and Dallas. They have a few interesting young pieces (John Collins particularly flashes potential), but if you hated the 2015 Braves, you probably want to avoid the 2017-18 Hawks entirely. All they’re playing for is draft position, and a quality product on the floor doesn’t help them there.

Finally, in addition to the hot-ticket MLS squad ITP, UTD announced this winter a development team to play in the USL (think of it as AAA) going forward. Ingeniously named “Atlanta United 2” (the marketing department for this franchise will never be accused of out of the box creativity), they’ll be playing their home matches up in Gwinnett, giving Coolray Field another sporting event option when the G-Braves aren’t in town. UTD 2 will act very much like the G-Braves work with the MLB team, shuttling young players back and forth for development when they’re not needed on the big league team’s roster. Northern OTP’ers might want to take note.

143 thoughts on “A-Town Down, Volume 1”

  1. This was a nice sentence from ESPN’s write-ups of the ZIPS top 100 prospects:

    “ZiPS has projected only three rookies to get over the 50 WAR barrier: Mike Trout, Kris Bryant and Acuña.”

    That’s career WAR obviously and right now Acuna is projected to have 14 more career WAR than the #2 prospect (Tatis, Jr).

  2. Mastadon won a Grammy. Migos, alas, did not.

    For what it’s worth, Migos just debuted “Culture II” as the #1 album in the country. They become only the fifth rap/hip-hop artists to have two #1 albums.

  3. I am absolutely certain that under today’s rules, Montana and Rice would average 600 yards per game.

  4. And against today’s athletes? A lot of the rule changes were meant to adjust to today’s athletes, so you can’t take one without the other.

    Hey, wait a second, a sport should adjust its rules to accommodate changes in the way the game is played currently? Someone should e-mail the MLBPA and let them know that.

  5. I acknowledge that the defenses are faster and stronger, and that the league at large has copied the Jerry Rice model as the standard status quo at wide receiver now. I do not acknowledge any argument that suggests that by simply competing in a league environment that creates passing yards by the bucket load for mediocre-at-best QB’s, Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Joe Montana. I think Montana at his prime would eat the league alive today, and none of Brees, Rodger or Brady would be in his class.

  6. I think Brady is in his own category vs. Brees and Rodgers and others, so I don’t think it’s fair to compare them as a group to the previous generation’s best. And yes, I do agree you can’t just simply compare stats from these two generations. But Brady has dominated his peers way more than Montana had. Postseason record, Super Bowl MVPs, Pro Bowls, rings, basically everything but league MVP awards. Unless you give Belichick a lot of credit for Brady’s success, I think Brady has Montana beat already and Brady still has a ton left in the tank.

  7. Colo Colo
    nomenclature by some Chilean Thoreau
    family leave a cinch
    gender changes at a pinch?

  8. I see little reason to think Brady is less a product of the system than is Julian Edelman. It’s not like Belichick didn’t have Garappalo lined up and ready to go when needed.

  9. This has to be Folty right? He eventually filed for $2,300,000 but I could see him asking for $2,420,069.

    “And fight they are, in ways large and small, stentorian and symbolic. With almost every team in baseball taking hardline stances in arbitration, the number of cases going to trial jumped to 26, the most since the 1994 strike. In some cases, the spread in the money players requested compared to what teams offered was minuscule – as small as $100,000.

    One player considers arbitration so farcical he wanted to make a mockery of it in his filing number. He asked for the final six digits to be 420,069. Eventually he decided against bringing that number in front of the arbitration panel. The notion of doing so nonetheless resembles what plenty of other players are asking themselves these days: How can we screw baseball like it’s screwing us?”

  10. I tuned in to my local NBC affiliate yesterday to watch the Super Bowl, but for some reason they were showing a Big 12 game. Weird.

  11. @17

    I understand what you’re saying and agree, but the ship’s sailed on everyone making significantly more than the everyman. It’s been almost 35 years since the average salary was less than 10 times the average salary in America (thank you, Ken Burns’ Baseball). If you really have a problem with that, then you just can’t be a fan of ball. So I think it’s past time to decide case-by-case, year-by-year, CBA-by-CBA whose side you’re on: the players’ or the owners’. Franchises are financial windfalls, whether you agree with it or not, so you have to decide who should get the best piece of pie.

    I’m still trying to decide where I sit on the subject. It’s bad for the players when owners are trying to push salaries backward. It’s bad for the owners that veteran players are often not worth their salary compared to spending that money on younger players. They’re going to have to find a balance somewhere.

  12. Also, from the previous thread, while this may not technically be a one year deal, for the money, it may as well be.

  13. Baseball owners “manage” a child’s game. Why should they rake in billions for that?


    Todd Frazier to NYM for 2YR/$17M. Blech.

    At that price, I hope to be seeing some comments to the effect of “Frazier wasn’t very willing to leave NYC,” which would’ve depressed his salary more on top of everything with this offseason.

    EDIT: Well, there you go: https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/960693176821534720

    We weren’t getting him at that price anyway.

    The weight on Austin Riley’s shoulders just got noticeably heavier.

  14. Player preference has no bearing on these things. Failure to sign anyone is always the fault of incompetent management.

  15. @25- It may be true; we’ll never know, but given what he signed for, I have trouble believing there’s any scenario where he wouldn’t be saying this.

    In my experience, personal preference can be a tiebreaker in contract negotiations if things are close, but money is ultimately how you score it.

  16. Again Braves sit on hands let others in division get stronger .. its for sure they dont want to be competitive in 2018 .. no power at all … gonna be a wasted year … hopefully some of our good young pitches get better in minors .. i would sign a bunch of has beens like last year and let them eat innings since they dont care about winning …

  17. Why should there be cynical doubt that Frazier’s choice was home cooking. You already have millions in the bank, two more years maybe to end your playing career, and you drop your price to ensure you and your family get to stay in and around a city and area you love. I wish BMac had done the same and not squeezed a few more million above the Braves offer – no NYC fan he. Ask him some time after he retires what he and his family thought about those five years.


    Mike Moustakas
    like we must take as read his head was turned vacationing in Davas
    where are those advisers so much needed now
    more delay, and like EJ, he’s heading back to the plow.

  18. In my experience, personal preference can be a tiebreaker in contract negotiations if things are close, but money is ultimately how you score it.

    How many 17 million dollar contracts have you signed or negotiated?

  19. I never had a problem with McCann getting his big payday. It was literally his only chance to cash in as a free agent — some players get multiple bites at the apple, but with McCann’s body type he never was, and he’d already signed one extremely below-market extension with the Braves. Good player, good guy, and I’m glad he got the money.

  20. As for Frazier, he’s from New Jersey and he says he wanted to go home. If this were one of the numerous times Chipper Jones said “no” to more money FROM New York in order to stay with his hometown* team, people would be singing his praises.

    *New Jersey is to NYC as Central Florida is to Atlanta

  21. @34

    Sam. Frazier, yes, is from Trenton. Springsteen and all. Sinatra was from Hoboken. Blue collar/white collar it may be either side of the Hudson but the ethos is the same for many i believe. Accessibility is simple. Atlanta/Orlando, yes, 2 different worlds culturally.

    Alex…we had this same disagreement way back when it was all happening! True to our cause the both of us.

  22. Been involved with a few; not baseball related, but it’s ultimately beside the point.

    Look, at the end of the day, if you want to believe that in the most depressed free agent in recent memory, a prominent free agent takes a deal substantially below what most people were forecasting and those two things aren’t related because he wanted to play close to home, it’s your prerogative. I’m just not buying it.

  23. I’ll take the player’s word over your gossip, as to his intentions on the matter. If that makes me crazy, okay.

  24. @37

    The answer is probably both. He overshot his value in the open market, and then he decided to take less than the market figure because he preferred New York. By the time you get to the real number, it looks really low because there were two things that lowered it below the originally forecasted figure.

    There have been enough big deals that it may be hard to know where the market is exactly. Lorenzo Cain and Carlos Santana’s deals continue to tell me that the market may not be depressed. Frazier’s deal is definitely a shocker though. I think we’ll know soon enough with Arrieta and Darvish. With our pick protected, I hope we’re all over Moustakas at this point.

  25. Speaking of, interesting on Moustakas from Dayton.

    “Clearly, early on…Moose had some expectations that were a little different, certainly with regard with where he wanted to be, where he wanted to play. I’m not sure those opportunities still exist. But it was pretty clear from the beginning, I’m not sure we were a high priority.”

    Fwiw, Moose is originally from California.

  26. It continues to seem that our front office is almost completely uninterested in actually winning baseball games this year, I would argue even moreso than any other year of the rebuild.

  27. I would mention, that while I’d love to see a more competitive team this year, we are just starting to graduate the best prospects, so the real target probably should be next year. That said, teams arrive early all the time (think Cubs and Astros recently).

    This article looks at the ’19 FA class versus this year, and it’s probably the right call to wait until next year. Also the article notes ATL has the most $ to spend in 2019 relative to past budget.


  28. It’s hard for me to keep track … are the people upset we aren’t bringing in veteran place holders this offseason the same people who were upset we brought them in last year?

    I don’t really see the utility of bringing in a mediocre vet for a multi-year deal right now, so I’d be a no on that Frazier deal honestly. This team needs to be adding pieces for the long run, and the pieces to add via free agency right now aren’t great.

  29. Hard for me to keep track too. But I know I liked the Garcia deal, and I liked the first old man signing. I didn’t like the second. I remember thinking that was a bit too risky. I think this year is different because there’s a bit more optimism about the core of this year’s team, and thus expectations to try to get us to the next level.

    I think most fans would appreciate bringing in a position player on a one-year deal, and we kinda already did that with McCarthy on the rotation side. It’s just that there’s only one uncommitted position, and there isn’t a player at 3B who would be looking for a one-year deal at this juncture. Of course, we could probably find an OF, but alas…

  30. Signing an OF wouldn’t be terrible. A team with Nick Markakis as an option off the bench is better than a team with Danny Santana on the bench.

  31. I’m never against trying to win, so you’ve never heard me complain about the Markakis and Kemp and whoever else deals. I understand the argument that given where we are right now, we’d have been better off had we not made those deals, I suppose, but I’m never going to be in favor of not actively trying to win.

    As far as this year goes, the seeming refusal to do anything (with the acknowledgment that the offseason isn’t over yet) is even more ridiculous and galling than it’s been in the past. This is a team that could compete for a wild card spot with the right moves and if things break right (especially with 60 percent of the other teams in the league also seemingly punting for no reason), and our front office and a significant portion of our fan base just seem thunderously uninterested in that, for reasons I can’t possible fathom.

    The standard excuses are baffling to me, as well:

    “Oh, but Camargo and Ruiz should be given a full year to see if one of them can lock down the third base job.”

    Yes, seeing if a couple of utility infielders can perform the unlikely feat of winning a major league starting job is totally worth another year of crappy baseball…oh wait, no it isn’t. Camargo and Ruiz are both AAAA players on a winning team. I’m not sure why everyone is so obsessed with “seeing what they can do.” We’ve already seen a lot of it, and it’s not something that I’d be worried about missing if we had an actual major league third baseman on the roster.

    “But if we sign a major league caliber third baseman, we may block Austin Riley for a year! The horror!”

    First of all, if we’re so fired up to have Camargo and/or Ruiz win a spot, wouldn’t they then be blocking Riley?

    More to the point, though, if we’re in the playoffs, why should I care that Austin Riley is in the minors for an extra half-season or is relegated to pinch-hitting duty instead of starting at third base? Leaving aside the massive presumptions made about Austin Riley to get to a mental spot where you’re OK with throwing an extra year in the garbage can just so his slot is empty when he’s ready if things go as well as possible for him in the minors the next two years, it’s almost like people have forgotten how good baseball teams handle prospects coming up. You stick them in where you can and try to open a spot for them when they’re ready, but you don’t torpedo a season just so that there’s no one standing in their way. That’s silly!

    “We’re saving everything for the 2019 free agent class!”


    First of all, I’ll believe that we’re going to go in huge with a bunch of free agents when I see it. It’s been awhile, and the last time it happened was two GMs ago, and when that guy left, the front office spent all kinds of time talking about how signing big-ticket free agents was stupid and they weren’t going to do it anymore. I do realize that the management regime has changed again since, but I’m still in “believe it when I see it” mode on this notion. Particularly if we go through this entire offseason signing precisely nobody.

    Secondly, since the rest of baseball is seemingly doing this, as well, I’m not sure how everyone can be so sure that we’re going to get the guy(s) that we want next offseason. Even if we’re willing to throw around equal money, we’re still behind a bunch of teams in the pecking order just based on prestige and perception. And again, I’ll believe we’re willing to throw around equal money with the Yankees and Dodgers and whoever else when I see it. So if we strike out on our free agent shopping next offseason, what then? Why not make an effort to improve the team when you can rather than putting all your eggs in one basket? It’s not like you’d have to throw a whole lot of money around to sign a third baseman or an outfielder right now.

    Again, I want to see winning baseball! I feel I’m owed it after watching three years of this utter crap, especially after being promised that I would only be forced to watch it for two years. I do not watch sports so that I can follow the prospects night-by-night as they play in the outskirts of Jackson, Mississippi, and dream that, if everything goes right, maybe one day the team I actually care about might actually win some baseball games again.

    I understand that some years will be better than others, but I am not down with this intentionally losing thing and I never have been. And now you’re telling me that, with the end in sight and half of baseball giving up, we can’t make a slight effort to make my team watchable again and I have to wait until next year when (Trust us…no wait, we’re really serious this time) we’ll finally make an effort to actually win some games?

    Yeah, excuse me if I’m not super excited about this prospect.

  32. @46, You left out one important way we can improve at 3B.

    But maybe the more important question is: what does “actually trying to win” mean, in terms of how many games a baseball team wins in a season?

  33. I think a decent litmus test might be “are Bonifacio or Santana on the roster?”, if “no”, then we might be trying to win. Or at least trying less to lose.

    Another one might be “are we trying to move Markakis or content with riding out his contract here?”

    I’m not suggesting we make moves just to make moves. That’s Coppy-ball. The team needs an OF, a 3B, and pitching – if there’s any way we can marginally improve the roster in those areas, we should be doing it.

  34. I think a decent litmus test might be “are Bonifacio or Santana on the roster?”, if “no”, then we might be trying to win. Or at least trying less to lose.

    They’re not! Enjoy this time before you get to know Charlie Culberson!

    Another one might be “are we trying to move Markakis or content with riding out his contract here?”

    You phrased this in a way that guarantees that you’re unlikely to ever know the answer. It does appear like the Braves are “trying,” in that it has to be clear to every team that we want to be rid of him.

    So, are you happy?

  35. Since I can’t really know all the things we’re “trying”, it’s impossible to know if I should be happy about them. I’m happy that we have new management. So that’s somethin’.

  36. Ummmmm, Nick?

    In 2017, the fewest wins of any playoff teams was Minnesota’s 85. The fewest in the NL were Colorado’s 87.

    In 2017 the Braves won 72 games.

    Where do you see this team picking up 15 wins “if they make the right moves” in free agency?

  37. We don’t know what Nick wants, though. We just know he wants us to “actively try to win.”

    I don’t know what this means. Maybe it corresponds to a win total. Maybe it corresponds to a budget amount. Maybe it means making the playoffs. Maybe it means not having any replacement-level starters. Maybe he wants to feel like the team is in every game that it plays.

    Myopia is a very sad thing. It’s funny how no one ever posts anything like, “I want the Braves to set themselves up as quickly as possible to compete for the playoffs year after year.” You know, the thing the Braves are actually doing, a balance of short- and long-term imperatives…has anyone, in all the posts and comments of the entire rebuild, expressed this sentiment?

  38. Where do you see this team picking up 15 wins “if they make the right moves” in free agency?

    I’m sorry, but that is precisely the wrong defense for why you don’t sign a FA 3B. This team will jettison Bartolo Colon, Matt Kemp, Jim Johnson, Adonis Garcia, Josh Collmenter, Ian Krol, Eric O’Flaherty, Chase d’Arnaud, and Emilio Bonifacio. And yes, some of the positions vacated by these players will inevitably be replaced by a similarly futile player. Sure, maybe one bench spot. Maybe one or two bullpen spots, but probably not. Maybe one rotation spot, but I highly doubt that.

    But this team had the 24th pitching staff in baseball by ERA, 21st in pitching fWAR, 17th in UZR and fielding fWAR, 24th in offensive fWAR, and 21st in wOBA. This team didn’t pitch, hit, or field well at all. It was a horribly constructed roster with more money paid to Michael Bourn or Matt Kemp than the entire bullpen and rotation and had no bench, no power, and no defense. You’re going to see a 1 WAR improvement here and a 2 WAR improvement there across all of these different roster spots and you’re going to end up with a roster just short of making the playoffs because you didn’t want to give a 2-year deal to a perfect roster fit like a power-hitting, right-handed hitting 3B to hit behind Freeman, thus sliding everyone behind him down a spot in the lineup.

    And you’re going to tell me that’s fine?

  39. When you win 72 games the year prior and make almost no moves other than a salary swap for a .500 W/L and 4.25 ERA SP, another that gets hurt in a phone booth, a utility IF that can’t hit, you aren’t really trying to win.

  40. We don’t know what Nick wants, though. We just know he wants us to “actively try to win.”

    I don’t know what this means.

    I’ll answer it for him: design a roster to win 85. Just 85 games. And they’re close. If you win 85 games, and you miss the playoffs, fine. You have a rotation of young studs, a strong position player core, and one of the fewest dollar amounts committed to 2019. See you in October 2019, baby. But put a major league baseball player at all 25 roster spots, and with this core, you’ll win 85 games. Danny Santana vs. Todd Frazier is a HUGE difference.

  41. When you win 72 games the year prior and make almost no moves other than a salary swap for a .500 W/L and 4.25 ERA SP, another that gets hurt in a phone booth, a utility IF that can’t hit, you aren’t really trying to win.

    You made the moves in 2014-2017. They’re here. Supplement them.

  42. …and you’re going to end up with a roster just short of making the playoffs because you didn’t want to give a 2-year deal to…

    Says who?

    What happened to the Rob Cope of @39?

  43. I’ll answer it for him: design a roster to win 85. Just 85 games.

    Why is this a desirable goal?

  44. @53

    And I’m guessing that it won’t take 87 wins to make the playoffs this year, as nobody seems to be interested in going for those wild card spots.


    Essentially what Chief said. You have a chance to make your team better without seriously mortgaging the future and you’re not going to do it. In fact, the only move you’re going to make the entire offseason is a salary dump (how exciting!). And the excuse you’re going to give is that you can’t do anything because you don’t know anything about your organization yet. And you’re going to do this in an offseason where 60 percent of the league is actively tanking, meaning you have less competition for free agents and one of those playoff spots.

    It’s not good enough. I want them to try to improve this year’s team, and they’re not doing it. They’re not doing anything. And a significant portion of our fan base is perfectly OK with it.

  45. @59

    Well, if we don’t, we’re not going to compete in 2019, either. So we’d better.


    Because it’s better than winning freaking 75?? And I’m pretty sure it would get us a wild card spot if we won 85 games? And that’s, like, a part of the playoffs? I think you’re making this more complicated than it is.

  46. @57

    With our pick protected, I hope we’re all over Moustakas at this point.

    That’s what I said @39.

    Why is this a desirable goal?

    Because you get both: you build for the future and still don’t completely write off an entire season. I’m not saying go out and sign several FAs to long-term deals, win 90 games, don’t let Ronald Acuna or Max Fried or Dansby Swanson ever see the field, and mortgage the future. Put someone on the roster better than Danny freaking Santana. If the season started tomorrow, Danny Santana will log innings. That’s not trying. It may be difficult to articulate what is trying, but I can tell you what isn’t: Danny Santana.

    Do we?

    Yes, you may not be willing to shoot until you see the whites in their eyes, but I can assure you there with be a few pitchers this year that will be much better than Bartolo Colon, Josh Collmenter, Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, and even RA Dickey and his 4.72 FIP, all of whom made starts last year. Yes, we do have a young rotation full of studs.

  47. You have a chance to make your team better without seriously mortgaging the future and you’re not going to do it.

    Which is…what?

    You tell me what move we should’ve made. Maybe we should relocate to Toms River, so Frazier would’ve signed with us?

    It’s been, like, a couple hours since on this very blog in this very thread since there was a pretty good discussion about the dynamics of why PRACTICALLY NO TEAMS are making any substantial improvements with free agents this offseason.

    Is this what having a kid is like? “JUST DO SOMETHING” is the baseball fan equivalent of a cranky baby with diaper rash.

  48. Uh, Rob, @39, you explained — correctly — why we didn’t sign Frazier.

    And then @53, you’re out here rending your garments because we didn’t sign Frazier.

    Are Rob Cope and Rob Copenhaver the same person, or am I confused?

  49. Right, I agree, and let me clarify: this is not necessarily a reaction to Frazier signing with the Mets. Some of the resentment is similar to fans wanting Nori Aoki vs. Nick Markakis, and that was a great example of having to pay the person that wanted to play for you. And considering Aoki has played the majority of his seasons for teams Houston and west, I think it’s clear Aoki didn’t want to hang out in Georgia.

    I think there’s a general angst right now, and it’s probably slightly heightened because one more player is off the board, regardless of circumstances. The angst is that we will indeed do nothing between now and the start of the season, and I agree that that would be the definition of not trying. There’s a feeling that the season is ripe for the taking, a Bryce Harper torn ACL away from being completely up-for-grabs, and AA is still trying to figure out Kolby Allard’s favorite bands.

  50. Are Rob Cope and Rob Copenhaver the same people, or am I confused?

    I keep failing to change all of the devices from which I post.

    I think I addressed the other concerns in the previous comment.

  51. And I’m guessing that it won’t take 87 wins to make the playoffs this year, as nobody seems to be interested in going for those wild card spots.

    Let’s examine this.

    Last year’s NL teams that made the playoffs — the Rockies, DBacks, Cubs, Dodgers, and Nationals — all still seem like strong teams, even leaving Darvish and Arrieta out of the picture for now.

    Quintana and Lester will be enough to keep the Cubs in the mix. Who knows what will happen with the Rockies’ pitching? But the Cardinals were in it until the end, and their team is likely improved now with Ozuna.

    The Giants have gone all-in for a last shot with their current core, and if Bumgarner and Cueto can come back strong, it seems reasonable that they could contend. It makes sense that the Giants would go all-in because their window is closing.

    Even the Mets, sad to say, look to be ahead of us. If Syndergaard and Cespedes stay healthy, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in the wild card. I’m not sure I buy the Brewers if Jimmy Nelson misses a lot of time, but they’re kind of ensnared in the weirdness of this offseason in the middle of their process, and they can deal for what they need.

    That’s eight teams for five spots. One or two of them may crash and burn, but on paper, I’m not seeing where our big opening is.

    I’m not seeing how we get to 85-87 wins either, so that’s a story you’ll have to tell me.

  52. There’s a feeling that the season is ripe for the taking, a Bryce Harper torn ACL away from being completely up-for-grabs, and AA is still trying to figure out Kolby Allard’s favorite bands.

    Can I have some of what you’re smoking? Have you seen the Nationals’ roster? They are stacked.

    To your specific point, Harper will miss time like he does every other season, and they’ll be more than fine. Victor Robles — ranked a 65 on Fangraphs along with Acuna — is the kind of player who might be able to step in for Harper next year and do better than replacement-level, like they’d get with Werth off the bench.

  53. I think there’s a general angst right now, and it’s probably slightly heightened because one more player is off the board, regardless of circumstances.

    Weren’t you making fun of people who were peeing their pants over Carlos Santana’s signing earlier this offseason? Step off the ledge!

  54. What happens to “the rebuild” if we’re worse in 2018? Everyone still all-in?

    It kind of depends on why we’re worse. If we happen to win 71 games because:
    – Freddie gets hurt again with a non-career-threatening injury
    – or having Freddie all year is offset by catcher regression
    – our bullpen is a dumpster fire
    – Markakis completely craters, but Acuna is passable and improves as the season goes on
    – Teheran/Folty/McCarthy are bad/hurt, but Gohara/Fried/Newcomb are good
    – 3B is a black hole, but Albies/Swanson are fine

    …then that’s not great, but not fatal going into the 2019 offseason.

  55. Man, it’s been a long offseason. I’m having flashbacks of the Winter We Traded Heyward.

    Guys, in all likelihood we’re going to be mediocre again this year. There’s a good argument that we should try to contend now, but all indications from the front office are that it won’t happen until 2019. Let’s chill with the angsty recriminations. Spring training is right around the corner.

  56. Weren’t you making fun of people who were peeing their pants over Carlos Santana’s signing earlier this offseason? Step off the ledge!

    Because he’s a first baseman. Which pants peeing are you referring to?

  57. On my MLB The Show franchise, the Twins just accepted an offer of Ian Anderson, Rio Ruiz, and single-A shortstop filler for Miguel Sano. I would rather live in that reality.

  58. @49 – I’ll wait to pass judgement on Charlie’s baseball contributions. But I saw him at Chop Fest and, hands down, he was the most genuine player there. Asked every child in the Kids autograph line questions and was gracious to everyone. It was a joy to behold.

  59. For me, what it all boils down to is this: if you really think the Braves have no plan to win or even any intention of winning, then why are you here? Are you a masochist or merely a drama queen?

    I suppose the best I could do for you is call you a conspiracy theorist. So, which is it?

  60. Either-or? I’m more both-and. Can rational beings also be fanatics? Does cold logic exclude courtesy? Is there room in All That Is for differing perspectives? Must I always be right and you, Adam, always be wrong?

  61. If the best you can do for your argument is step back and say, “Hey, guys, in a pluralistic world, gotta leave some room for the stupid perspectives!”, then maybe you should keep on stepping back.

  62. You’re right of course. Please continue to show us how brilliant you are and how ignorant I am.

  63. It’s completely ok to think this team’s prospects for winning are un-good, but still cheer for them. That’s the basic definition of being a fan.

  64. I’d just like it captured on record that I had absolutely nothing to do with this episode of Monkeys Throwing Shit At Each Other.

  65. @83

    Oh, give me a freaking break! Yeah, they have a plan. It just involves punting this year like they have the last three, and that’s BS. Adapt the plan!

    I’m here because they’re my team and I’m pissed because we the fans deserve better. If you don’t care at all about winning, why are you here? You’ve just spent a day arguing that I’m stupid for wanting to win. How dare I actually want to win and be sick of this rebuild!

  66. @89

    It’s basically just Adam throwing shit at everybody who dares to question our exalted front office, best I can tell.

  67. It’s completely ok to think this team’s prospects for winning are un-good, but still cheer for them. That’s the basic definition of being a fan.

    But it’s more than that, right? You’re actually under-stating where, it seems to me, people are at on here.

    Opinions range from “AA isn’t trying hard enough” to “it’s all just a shell game designed to maximize Liberty Media’s profits.”

    The conclusion you’d have to draw from that is the Braves will never win.

    I recall a certain someone repeatedly insisting that the rebuild is going to take at least a decade…I don’t think the evidence backs up this position, but if that’s what you believe, it seems like being here is more a personal problem for you than anything else.

  68. Oh, give me a freaking break! Yeah, they have a plan. It just involves punting this year like they have the last three, and that’s BS. Adapt the plan!

    I’m still waiting to hear how you’d like to see the plan adapted.

    What should so obviously be happening right now that you can’t stop yourself from hyperventilating on here every time a free agent signs with another team?

    If you don’t care at all about winning, why are you here? You’ve just spent a day arguing that I’m stupid for wanting to win.

    I think it’s stupid to want to win this year at the expense of winning the next several years. Especially after spending three years setting up the window to remain open for as long as possible.

  69. FWIW, I think George Akerlof makes a pretty good case for AA’s claim to need to learn his top prospects better before trading them away. It’s a legit point.

  70. @93, a lot of us have already concluded that we won’t ever win while Liberty owns the team. I don’t think that’s going too far out on a limb.

    There’s not fsck-all we can do about it other than complain.

  71. Meh. Looks like a lot of poo flung for it to be just one guy. Somebody’s throwing back. Regardless, I’m also rather meh about the lack of signings this winter, for three reasons.

    1) The entire market seems to be frozen; this last spurt of DOOOOOOMMMMEEEEEEDDD!! round’st ’bout these parts is almost entirely due to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, a player who would have fit a need for the Braves, to a hometown discount deal. I’m not sure that’s a sign of the market unfreezing, or, well, ya know; Todd Frazier wanting to play for his childhood hometown team.

    2) Thoppy literally got thrown into a swirling maw of chaos in the front office like, two months ago. While he’s a professional and experienced and knew full well what he was getting into, it bears noting that less than 90 days ago the Braves GM was being fired and banned from baseball, and the Braves front office is probably still settling down from that entire debacle.

    3) Winter’s not over yet. There are still players to be signed. If Thoppalopadingdong announces a 2 year deal with a third mutual option year for Mike Moustakakaalopalous everyone here will turn on a dime (and pretend all of this wailing never occurred.)

    As a bonus item, I’d also point out that 4) signing free agents isn’t a “here’s the biggest number, so come on down” process entirely. Players are humans, and they have competing requirements alongside of “biggest pile of cash to swim in like Scrooge McDuck.” Todd Frazier apparently wanted to play in NYC, for example. Another rather well established “thing top tier free agents look for” when signing with new teams is “competitive windows.” “We have a shit ton of highly touted arms in the minors, and this one guy Acuna is projected to be a beast by all the top nerds!” isn’t a strong selling point. Now, if 2018 shows Gohora mowing down folks in his CC Sabatthia suit and Acuna *actually beasting it up* in the OF, you’ll have a stronger pitch for next year’s FA. But this year’s crop not only require more money to come to Atlanta. They require enough “more money” to ignore the fact that the team has been shit for three years.

  72. The only thing I’d add to @98 is:

    For a guy who has no way of knowing what he’s getting into, AA made a fairly decisive move to take the bulk of our FA spending capacity this offseason and shift it to next offseason. It’s not like we have no money to spend now, but we don’t have much.

    Like, if the 2019 season were a professional wrestling match and AA were one of the wrestlers, the Kemp salary dump is the equivalent of doing an arm-windmill-windup while looking around wildly at the crowd to make sure you have their attention before throwing the punch.

    That is HOW BLINDLY OBVIOUS IT IS that the Braves plan to make a splash and take the leap into contention going into the next offseason.

  73. Nope, he isn’t. And AA shouldn’t sign junk just to sign junk. We just lost what, 15 prospects and picks? We lost top members of our management staff. Sometimes after a wreck you need tie to assess the big picture. I would have liked Frazier but whatever. If the pitching is there we will win, if not, Frazier means nothing.

  74. Moustakas at 2YR/$20M or even $25M is not junk, and if he signs for that elsewhere, then I think you have your answer IRT to the direction of the FO for 2018.

    With that said, the Braves were 45-45 on July 16th last year. I do trust the FO that if we stand in the same position in 2018, we’ll be trading for a Jaime Garcia-type contributor, not trading away one.

  75. @94

    Well, signing one of them instead of sending Braves state media out with a flurry of stories about why we can’t, all of which revolve around utility infielders and Double-A prospects, would be a start.

    Also, we can win this year and the next several years. It’s not an either/or thing. That’s the point! From my perspective, you’re OK with punting this year for no particular reason. And I don’t understand why anybody would be OK with that.

  76. I think the party line is that we’re going to win or lose with our young pitching. We expect it to be improved, and we expect to win more in 2018. There’s nothing in the FA market that moves the needle much. We’ll spend more next year.

    I’ll buy that for the most part. I mean we’re pretty much pot-committed, if these arms don’t pan out we’re beyond DOOMED.

    I still don’t want Danny Santana on my bench, and I don’t see why I have to watch another year of Markakis. I’m not asking them to sign Giancarlo Stanton. Just do a few things to show that it’s not another punt season.

    Edit: but of course it *is* very likely another punt season. I get that, I just tire of the “we’ll spend money when we’re good” mindset.

  77. Projection systems on a team like the Braves that will field 10-12 1st or 2nd year real prospects on their 25-man roster are admittedly throwing darts in the dark more than normal. A team compiled mostly of players with 3+ years of experience have 6 wins of variance. A team like the Braves? Who frickin’ knows? Personally, I see this team as a .500ish ballclub which is why I would have pushed for an OFer via trade, a 3B via FA, and a SP via FA to replace the SP traded.

    I look at the SP as a lateral move to improve the OF by 3ish wins and a 3B to provied 2ish wins, but that makes the bench so much stronger and provides a security blanket to the infield.

  78. Here are the top 19* or so free agents. I grabbed this from a Forbes list and am including the writer’s projected signing team/contract for reference. It’s hardly perfect or definitive, but I think it suffices to summarize the market as of now.

    1. Yu Darvish: Rangers, five years, $125 million.

    I would actually love to see the Braves in on Darvish at this cost, because I am a firm believer in the notion of TINSTAAPP. Nonetheless, I don’t see Darvish taking a contract with a clearly rebuilding, WC at best Braves team.

    2. J.D. Martinez: Red Sox, four years, $100

    Literally everything on the planet says Martinez is going to be a Red Sox before ST is over. They’re haggling over the details. He’d help a ton as Markakis replacement, but he’s also a real threat to go-Markakis over the course of this deal. The amount of money Atlanta would have to spend to get him to come to this team would be way too much for the risk/reward.

    3. Eric Hosmer: Royals, five years, $90 million.

    Don’t need a first baseman.

    4. Jake Arrieta: Cubs, four years, $80 million.

    Another name I’d like to see, but again the option of playing for WS contending Cubbies vs these Braves…

    5. Mike Moustakas: Yankees, three years, $55 million.

    This is the first real fit for the Braves. You’d have to outbid the Yankees.

    6. Alex Cobb: Orioles, four years, $44 million.
    7. Lance Lynn: Twins, three years, $30 million.

    Wouldn’t mind having one of these guys in the rotation when Brandon McCarthy gets hurt.

    8. Greg Holland: Cardinals, two years, $20 million.
    9. Logan Morrison: Cardinals, one year, $10 million.
    10. Jonathan Lucroy: Rockies, two years, $17 million.
    11. Andrew Cashner: A’s, one year, $8 million.

    No, no, no, no. Don’t need expensive relievers, old catchers, or career-year fluke first basemen.

    12. Neil Walker: Brewers, two years, $15 million.

    Would outbid that offer for Walker and put him at third.

    13. Jaime Garcia: Braves, one year $7 million.
    14. Eduardo Nunez: Red Sox, one year, $6 million.

    Would rather take Lynn or Cobb than Garcia. Nunez has been bandied about as a fall back free agent option. If it’s one-year pillows, why not?

    15. Jon Jay: Cubs, one year, $5 million.
    16. Tony Watson: Astros, one year, $5 million.
    17. Jayson Vargas: Angels, one year, $4 million.
    18. Mark Reynolds: Rockies, one year, $3 million.
    19. Jarrod Dyson: Pirates, $2 million.

    No, no, no, no, no.

    So, yeah, there are a few players on the market I’d be targeting and pursuing. And I suspect Team Thoppy are doing just that. If they don’t sign one of them doesn’t mean they didn’t try.

  79. This is a better conversation.

    I don’t think a few of you are really grappling with how much players cost in free agency or in trade. Or what our budget constraints are. Or, acknowledging those constraints, being clear about whether you’d want to go back to a world where we have more money this offseason, but we still have Kemp and no McCarthy.

    But this is a better conversation.

    Of course I would buy Moustakas — if he would play for an east coast team, and there’s some reason to think he won’t — at 3/$55. But Dave Cameron put Moustakas at 5/$95. The Fangraphs crowdsourcing came up with 5/$85.

    ryan c’s trade from the other day has a level of specificity that is very appealing, and it’s a clever idea. Unless there’s something I’m missing, I don’t get why the Brewers wouldn’t just sign Cobb and keep Domingo Santana, instead of trading him for Teheran. I forget what I’m supposed to assume we signed Cobb for.

  80. Small Brain: Debating how much AA is trying

    Big Brain: Debating how much you’d pay to acquire Mike Moustakas or Domingo Santana for 2018

    Galactic Brain: Debating how much you’d pay to acquire Bryce Harper or Manny Machado for 2019

  81. @109 – To be fair, at this point, I don’t think anyone knows how much players will ultimately cost in free agency.

  82. @112 – I 100% agree with this; my question is more around are they willing to tie 40% of their payroll (at least relative to where it was last/this year) into two players (Freeman) for at least 3 years.

  83. Not to make too much of a fuss about it, since Heyward’s hitting has been abysmal ever since he signed his contract with the Cubs, but if we’re comparing apples to apples:

    Bryce Harper’s 1st six seasons: 26.1 bWAR, 27.7 fWAR, 128 games played/year
    Jason Heyward’s 1st six seasons: 31.1 bWAR, 27.7 fWAR, 139 games played/year

    And Heyward’s contract is worth $23 million a year, not 30 (although the Cubbies backloaded it, God knows why).

  84. Well, since we’ve been playing all the old hits lately, I didn’t think I should sit this one out.

  85. We’ve done this to death. Heyward’s WAR totals, both b* and f* varietals, are crap-ton loaded to dWAR. As a right fielder. And even if we look past that fact, we’re not talking about paying them for what they did in 2013. Absolutely no one would pay Heyward $23m per again if he were on the market next year. Every team in baseball would shit themselves if they could buy Harper for $23m per.

    Bryce Harper is a douchebag. Bryce Harper is an asshat. Bryce Harper isn’t Mike Trout. But Bryce Harper is twice the baseball player Jason Heyward turned out to be, and it’s not even debatable. I’d very much rather be debating whether or not we could, would or should drop $30m per on Harper or Machado next year than to be stuck with the contract hung around the Cubs’ necks with Heyward.

  86. And yes, Ethan. To Alex’s point @100, the entire point of weeble-wobbling Kemp’s contract out and taking Adrian Gonzalez+ back was to clear the books to bid on free agents in 2019. I know everyone and their mother thinks there’s no way we’ll ever see even a mid-tier payroll again because mean old Liberty eats the money, but I personally don’t believe Alex Anthoupolus would have set foot near this team if he had not been shown a plan to start spending money on talent, to augment the farm system and compete for championships, from go.

  87. You’re right, Sam, you have proved to death that you don’t really know how to read an argument. Do you want to try again? Or is it your business to miss the point?

  88. On the subject of player valuation–and unlike my other post, this one isn’t specifically for Sam–is Manny Machado actually a pretty good bet for a top contract? His career OPS+ so far is 116. Heyward’s at the time he hit free agency was 114.

    Bryce Harper is clearly a special hitter. I don’t mean to say that he isn’t. Someone is going to bend over backwards to give him a huge payday, and that’s exactly right. But I don’t think we’re using our brains when we lump Machado in with him.

  89. Whatever you think of Heyward, for the billionth time, there wasn’t a core worth adding him (at his peak) to in his final year here, and we didn’t have new stadium revenues. I fully expect the Braves will spend the monies in 2019.

    Or maybe we get there via trade in 2018, depending on how things go.

    You want to save your costliest transactions for when you’re the closest on the win curve to where you want to be. Something the crowd that keeps agitating for big FA deals doesn’t understand.


  90. HYPE.

    Pretty sure Acuna could be called up any time after two weeks after Opening Day, if he performs.

  91. I too expect them to open up the purse strings in 2019. I expect them to *bid* for Harper. I don’t expect him to accept their offer.

  92. Small Brain: Hung up on Bizarro Braves 2015

    Big Brain: Dreaming of what the 2019 Braves could look like

    Galactic Brain: Enjoying baseball for its own sake, win or lose

  93. I’ll be honest. If I believed, as some here seem to believe, that the team literally had no intention whatsoever to *try* going forward, I would not follow the team.

  94. @Adam R., I think we’re having two different conversations here. I’m not thinking about the 2014 Braves decision not to extend Heyward long-term, or the 2015 Braves decision to trade him, or the 2016 Braves decision not to bid for him in free agency (which, despite his great year in St. Louis, I doubt was a very difficult decision for the very reasons you outline).

    I’m just pointing out that if you expected Heyward to play at the level he had been playing at up to that point in his career, the prospect of signing him to a big contract looked only a little less appealing than Harper’s looks right now. Sure, there was a risk of overpaying him some, as there is with any long-term contract, but the contract became an albatross only after that, when it became clear that Heyward somehow suddenly and absolutely forgot how to hit a baseball. It was not a gradual, foreseeable thing, and it is pretty dishonest to pretend otherwise.

  95. @126

    Small brain: Insisting people are stupid for the capital crime of wanting their baseball team to win

  96. There were signs that Heyward was forgetting how to hit a baseball before he left Atlanta. You guys do remember the yearly “he’s made an adjustment in the offseason” conversations, yeah?

  97. @125

    Harper won’t sign with us since he found out Ububba was douchebagging him at every opportunity.I tried to protest but was overruled.


    Chief. Bang on as we say in the old country. 50 minimum.

  98. Ozzie Albies
    he asks have you seen his name lately at all please?
    I’m not in any of the Top 10/50/100 lists
    told he’s no longer a prospect, why not he persists?

  99. The Heyward thing was a joke. Sheesh. I’m smart enough to know that we didn’t trade him because we had our eyes on Harper. It’s because we knew Markakis was a lock.

  100. JohnWDB
    wherever you now be
    still fracking in Texas?
    surely the Rangers have not removed you from our nexus?

  101. At no point in his career has Jason Heyward ever been as good or as valuable as Bryce Harper. Not one. FWIW, I actually believe that Harper IS slightly overrated. Is he a 40 HR guy for the next 8 years or is he a 23-27 HR/year guy hitting .270? His 2015 season was nuts but there are a few other good but not great seasons, at least nothing I’d pay 180M for.

  102. Hi Chief!

    Just getting into the quick and dirty, here, pulling from the offense column on each player’s Fangraphs page. Nothing Heyward (or almost any other hitter, for that matter) has done can come anywhere close to Harper’s monstrous 2015, and he was wonderful last year as well. But the rest of Harper’s hitting career either roughly matches (2013) or does not compare favorably at all with Heyward’s 2010, 2012, or 2015.

    All of this is moot now, since Heyward is terrible. But that wasn’t your assertion.

  103. @141, I thought the same thing when I saw that.

    This also made me chuckle, “The Los Angeles Dodgers want to move outfielder Matt Kemp to create their own payroll flexibility, which might be another contributing factor in the deliberate pace of the Darvish negotiations,” per Rosenthal.

    Lastly, if we ever upgrade to a rotating tag line on the site, can “Thoppalopadingdong” please be one of them?

  104. Mark Cuban should pay the All-Unsigned Team to show up at MLB games, challenge both teams, and generally disrupt games and make a scene. Like they’re the NWO of professional baseball. They should all walk out to “Voodoo Chile” and spraypaint the stadium. Currently signed players would defect to them.

    They can take my money now. I would pay top dollar.

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