Did the Braves Intend to “Retool” or “Rebuild”? (by Roger)

Editor’s Note: Roger, a frequent commenter, has laid out his reasoning that the Braves most likely didn’t intend to complete crater the team in a rebuild.

This offseason has to be the most boring offseason in years. So what could be a better way to make the offseason more interesting than to look at more interesting offseasons. The rebuild is over, but when did the rebuild begin? We have all done our share of evaluating the transactions the Braves have made since the end of the 2014 season. We can all run statistics and say this was good or this was bad but we can’t really understand without adding context. Does this change how we evaluate what the Coppy years were about?

The success of the 90’s was built largely on drafts from the mid-80s and a couple of shrewd trades and FA signings. The Braves created a core by the early 90s and kept that core together for an outrageously long period. The late 80s and 90s produced a minimum of decent players but they were enhanced by strong international signings. Continued key FA signings and trades kept the winning going all the way through 2013 and most of 2014. Prior to the 2014 season, the Braves tied up their core to long term extensions and everything seemed set for a long winning streak.

So what happened? The drafts since 2001 produced only 8 players whose career WAR is above 10 through 2014 and a few of them earned that with other teams. And for some reason the International talent seemed to dry up, too, from about 1997-2005 (see Marte, Andy). In 2014, the team was winning but there were insufficient offensive pieces to support the pitching. The hitting further collapsed around the end of July (specifically, Gattis and Simmons with Freddie going powerless and Johnson already a bust). The Braves made no moves except to add a reliever (Russell) who wasn’t really needed. They were a half game out of first when they launched the fateful 0-8 West Coast road trip. If they had added a hitter or two, especially a 3B, who knows what might have been. Martin Prado (D’Backs) was traded for virtually nothing on July 31st and he was a stud the rest of the year.

At the end of 2014, the Braves were left with several key pieces departing, a few more pieces with one year of control left, and a farm system that was bereft of immediate help. Choices had to be made. Yet, the core was intact. There was reason to believe that the Braves could “retool” – both keep a competitive product on the field and rebuild the farm. Looking at the actions the Braves made make this intent obvious – that a “retool” could be done – and that retool was never a “rebuild” until one obviously stupid action forced the issue and dragged the team down into the depths of purgatory.

During the 2014 offseason, the Braves not only had to decide what to do with players in their final year and how to fill the holes generated by FAs leaving. The process was complicated since the holes were in the hitting with no one set to leave. Further, the team had had a top pitching staff but Santana and Harang were leaving and Minor was down for the count – they need a TOR pitcher or two or three.

The first step taken was

  1. Tommy LaStella for Arodys Vizcaino.
    On the surface this trade makes no sense unless you feel that LaStella is not a good enough fielder and his hitting didn’t compensate. Vizcaino is a solid bullpen piece, young and allowing other assets to be traded. Pretty much equal for equal value – a positive for the Braves if you have faith that Tyler Pastornicky would eventually pan out.
  2. Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden for Tyrell Jenkins and Shelby Miller.
    The first big trade – this was a fantastic trade for the Braves and was all about retooling with the additional benefit that Jenkins might turn into something. Jenkins, in fact, was a “near ML-ready” asset which was clearly the focus of many of the trades during the 2014/15 offseason in order to retool. In Miller, the Braves added a proven SP who quickly became a TOR ace. Heyward was on the way out anyway and Walden was an injury or two from being out of baseball with his unorthodox delivery. Viz made Walden expendable. And the next step for the Braves was to sign Nick Markakis to take Heyward’s place.

    This was the clearest sign of a retool as the Braves sent out a core piece for another core piece. This trade combined with the Markakis signing was a competitive move. Everyone seems to think the Markakis deal made no sense, but I think it makes perfect sense and, in hindsight, was the one longer term contract the Braves made that never turned into an albatross (see Johnson, Chris and Upton, Melvin). Ultimately, the primary loss for the Braves was Heyward’s defense. Markakis’ offense was not too different from Heyward’s. Also, in hindsight, the Braves got one big year from Miller and the Cards got one big year from Heyward before he became a Cubs albatross.

The subsequent trades were not as easily explainable as the first.

Continuing the discussion of the Braves’ retooling for 2015 brings us to:

  1. Braves signed Jim Johnson and selected Dan Winkler in the Rule 5 draft. Lots of bullpen moves. Subsequently, Varvaro was traded for Aaron Kurcz. Kurcz had a big arm and zero control. This was a small rebuilding move which ultimately didn’t pay off. It didn’t hurt as the Braves seemed to know Varvaro was at the end of his useful service.
  2. Justin Upton and Aaron Northcraft to the Padres for Max Fried, Dustin Peterson, Jace Peterson, and Mallex Smith.
    This may be more controversial. Justin Upton is the piece that the major league team didn’t have a replacement for and couldn’t find one for – making a weak hitting team one of the worst in the league. So this was nearly a pure rebuilding move and turned the team from a potential playoff team to a potentially average team.

    It’s hard to say this was a bad trade because all the prospects received were highly rated with Fried as a #1 and Jace as a #10 in the Padres system. Jace was the piece that most helped the team immediately in that he competed with Pastornicky to replace LaStella and won. He couldn’t have been a long-term solution with Peraza and Albies already in the system, but I’m sure the Braves hoped for more production from a top 10 prospect. The real value of this trade cannot be assessed until we know how valuable Fried and Gohara will be. However, there is a sure matter for debate whether we really needed to trade Mallex for Gohara. Mallex would sure look good now in our outfield hole and as a pure leadoff hitter.One might argue, with the difficulty in turning our pitching prospects into hitters and the shear quantity of pitching prospects in the system that we might have been better served with one less pitching prospect. Dustin Peterson was one bus ride and a hamate bone away from being our OF solution.

  3. Evan Gattis and James Hoyt to the Astros for Andrew Thurman, Mike Foltynewicz, and Rio Ruiz.
    The Braves continued with retooling moves soon after while also trying to build for the future. From the Braves point of view, this looks like a steal considering Gattis’ defensive issues. But the Braves turned right around and signed A.J. Pierzynski while hoping Christian Bethancourt would actually turn into the catcher he was supposed to be (please remember Bethancourt when placing so many hopes on Contreras, who is probably the third hotshot catcher we have supposedly had after Jonathon Morales and Tanner Murphy – we need Realmuto….. TINSTAAP).
  4. David Hale and Gus Schlosser to the Rockies for Jose Briceno and Chris O’Dowd.
    More bullpen depth via a trade with the Rockies. Of course, with the exception of a few starts in 2014 by Hale, none of the four have done much. In this instance, Folty went straight into the rotation in 2015 after a few aborted attempts at deploying veterans (including the trade for Trevor Cahill). This move was both a retool and a rebuilding move. Folty was not very good in 2015 but showed flashes of what he would become. Unfortunately, Thurman washed out and Rio never did become the next Chipper and Hoyt has become nearly serviceable in Houston, so this trade looks worse on the back end but it is still a great trade for the Braves.

Before diving into the next and final big move prior to the 2015 season, I wanted to highlight a couple of small moves of the kind the Coppy made dozens of times over two years for what reason I’ll never know.

  • Anthony Varvaro for Aaron Kurcz.
    Another bullpen dump. I’m not sure why he did this as Varvaro was a solid MR and Kurcz was a big, wild arm. Of course, Kurcz flamed out, but, oddly, Varvaro was done, too, so it became a wash instead of the negative it should have been seen as.
  • David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve for Manny Banuelos.
    Another flier on a top prospect that looked like he was going to flounder, another shot-in-the-dark move that failed. Of the three youngsters inserted into the Braves rotation in 2015 – Folty, Wisler, Banuelos – Banuelos was by far the worst. Carpenter didn’t have anything left but Chasen has turned into viable asset. Might have been better to keep him; the 2015 bullpen sure could’ve used him. Every lefty reliever tried in 2015 was a horror show except for Luis Avilan, and we’ll get to him.

Overall, this is just another example of the Braves seeing relievers as a fungible asset, which becomes the opening theme for the next post.

The next big move is the ultimate proof of the “reliever as fungible asset” thinking:

  1. Craig Kimbrel and the Melvin for Matt Wisler, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Jordan Paroubeck, and a 2015 Comp Round A pick (Austin Riley).
    In Braves Nation, this trade was the first big betrayal and was especially so as the media at the time in 2014 described Kimbrel’s contract as “team friendly” even though the underlying trend was already developing about how closers were overvalued and the best relievers should be deployed in the highest leverage situations.As this trade was made right at Opening Day, you can pretty much infer that it was a trade the Braves never intended to make. The Padres ultimately made an offer that was of the “blown away” variety as this trade is extraordinarily good for the Braves and a breakdown shows why. The fact that the Braves kept Kimbrel up to Opening Day is further proof of the idea that the Braves had no intention of “losing” big in 2015.

    The combined salaries remaining for Kimbrel ($36M) and Upton ($46M) compared to the salaries for Maybin ($16M) and Quentin ($9M) would make this trade a good deal for the Braves if they received nothing else back. This part of the deal was an obvious attempt to improve for 2015 as they received a better CF than they gave up (Maybin).The Braves had just traded for Viz and signed Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli so they had closer and the back end of the bullpen covered. Further, if Grilli hadn’t ruptured his Achilles in July (when the Braves were still in contention), his stats might have ended up looking as good as Kimbrel’s. Even if you consider the salaries of the three – Grilli at $8M, Johnson at $1.6M, and Viz as pre-arb – it doesn’t make the deal look any worse.

    But, wait. On top of that the Braves received Wisler to round out the rotation as a ML-ready asset who was, in fact, the #1 prospect at SD that replaced Fried as the #1 prospect. Paroubeck was a top 20 at the time and the Comp pick was the first of four comp picks the Braves secured and arguably the best as it turned magically into Austin Riley.In terms of value at the time, this may have been the best trade Coppy made. Funny that, after SD failed to do much winning even though Kimbrel was fine and Melvin had an uptick in performance, they turned around and sold Kimbrel and got back their #2, #7, #17, and #20 prospects in return. Apparently, it never hurts to trade out a top closer….

  2. Victor Reyes for a competitive balance pick.
    Apparently, Coppy must have had a revelation that he could trade for a draft pick, so the day after the Kimbrel trade, he sold one of the Braves’ few OF prospects,  Reyes – a top 20 prospect at the time — for a 2015 Comp Round B Pick which magically turned into A.J. Minter, who will eventually become our next elite closer to be traded for hot prospects (sarcasm alert…).

    Now, Reyes was a long way from being useful and is just now finished being a Rule 5 draftee by the Tigers, so this trade is looking pretty good too. The day after the Reyes trade, the Braves signed Adonis Garcia off waivers from the Yankees. Garcia had performed well in the upper minors for the Yankees and became a useful piece for the Braves later in the year.

    With that, the roster was set for 2015. The season got off to a hot start and the Braves were competitive all the way past the All Star break.In late May, after the first set of shots-in-the-dark turned into pumpkins, the Braves traded some of them, specifically, Alberto Callaspo, Juan Jaime, Eric Stults and Ian Thomas to the Dodgers for Juan Uribe and Chris Withrow.So, Withrow became the second TJS case after Fried that the Braves hoped to acquire on the cheap, but Uribe was only intended to be useful in 2015 and was certainly not a rebuild-type move. Uribe turned out to be a fairly useful piece and helped keep the Braves competitive. Of course, Freddie came down with his near annual wrist/hand/something injury and the Braves offense turned into jelly. Kelly Johnson, Uribe, the annual hot start from Markakis, and unexpected juice from Pierzynski helped keep the Braves somewhat afloat until the second disaster struck just before the All Star break when Jason Grilli tore his Achilles in an eventual walk-off loss to COL in the middle of a COL sweep. What happened next was the first dump trade of the rebuild.

And this is the depressing part of the 2015 season.

  1. Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets for John Gant and Rob Whalen.
    There’s nothing wrong with this trade, which turned out pretty well for both sides but does represent the difference between trying to go for it and packing it in. The Braves went 12-40 from July 21 – Sept 17. The Mets went 35-17 from July 21 -Sept 17 and won the division with 90 wins in that year’s weakest division. What’s worse is that the Mets also made it to the WS.Gant was a solid prospect and was later flipped into Jaime Garcia in 2017. Whalen was less so but was eventually useful in being flipped for Alex Jackson. At the time of the trade, the Braves were separated from the Mets by 3.5 games. Were Johnson and Uribe the keys to the Mets turnaround into NL Champs? Of course not. It was their next trade of Luis Cessa and Michael Fulmer for Yoenis Cespedes. Were Johnson and Uribe the cause of the Braves collapse? Of course not. The Braves collapse can be directly tied to:
  2. Bronson Arroyo, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson, Jose Peraza, and Alex Wood to the Dodgers for Zach Bird, Hector Olivera, and Paco Rodriguez and a 2016 Competitive Round A pick from the Marlins (Joey Wentz).
    I’m not going to go over the rest of it because this part is bad enough. I could not believe it at the time and still can’t. I thought maybe Bird would be another Touki Toussaint (nope); I though Paco might be the next Kimbrel (nope); I thought Olivera might be the next Chipper (okay, no, I didn’t).

    Even if you think the earlier Arroyo trade of Gosselin for Arroyo and Touki was inspired in order to make this trade, it’s not any better. As I mentioned before from earlier, the Braves collapsed going 21-50 from July 21 to the end of the season. I also believe this trade was a key reason the Braves went 37-68 in 2016 before Olivera was traded to the Padres who originally signed him before trading him to the Dodgers. That’s 58-118. That’s historic awfulness. If you look at it from a money standpoint, it’s a clear loss too. Olivera cost nearly $35M while Arroyo offset about $14M and Johnson, a fraction of $1.6M, so say $15M total. The Braves were ready to spend $25M to get Olivera.Olivera was ticketed directly for the majors so this was supposed to be a “win now” move. To add insult to the injury of $25M, the Braves sent the Dodgers three legitimate Major Leaguers and a top prospect. Even if you think Peraza was expendable, even if you think Johnson was useless and Avilan was in decline and Wood was made of glass, I can’t remember a trade since Babe Ruth where that much talent and money was sent for so little return. Olivera was already 30 at the time; he’d have had to be Mike Trout for five years to make this trade even close. But the fact was that Avilan, Johnson, and Wood were making legitimate critical contributions to the Braves. What if the Braves had traded Allard and Peraza to Detroit for Cespedes? That would have been more than the Mets offered. The Braves would have filled a legitimate hole in the OF and used Adonis at 3B and still had Wood in the rotation and Johnson to help close. And Freddie got back in the lineup at the end of July.If the lineup had responded the same as when Kemp was added, the Braves might have ended up winning as many as 85 games which would have been enough to win the division (taking Cespedes away from the Mets). We really could have won and rebuilt at the same time except we rolled with the wrong Cubans – Olivera and Garcia vs Cespedes.

    Regarding the impact on 2016 and the flip from retool to rebuild, the Braves had only dealt 2 of the 4 original core pieces (Heyward and Kimbrel) but had received one core player in return (Miller).

    Along with Wood and then Folty and Wisler, the Braves would have been set in the rotation. Would the Braves have even considered trading Simba away? With Wood, there would be no need for Newcomb. If the Braves traded Miller to the D’Backs, would they want Swanson or might the Braves have settled for, say, Mitch Haniger, who the D’Backs traded to the Mariners for Taijuan Walker (the Mariners might have been just as happy with Swanson). Maybe keeping Wood would have spared us the Williams Perez or Joel de la Cruz or Bud Norris experiences. The possibilities are endless – all wiped away by the Olivera trade. The Olivera trade not only wiped out the 2015 season but also turned the retool into a rebuild and destroyed the 2016 season before it was even conceived.

Looking back at the players acquired during the 2015 season (Oct 2014 – Jul 2015) as listed below, the ones bolded were players that had at least a peripheral role in 2015 and would be considered part of a “retool”. The remainder are “rebuild” players.

Arodys VizcainoRio RuizRyan Lavarnway
Tyrell JenkinsDavid Carpenter (the other one)David Aardsma
Shelby MillerKelly JohnsonDana Eveland
Jake BrighamEury PerezTouki Toussaint
Jim JohnsonJonny GomesHunter Cervenka
Nick MarkakisJose BricenoJason Frasor
Michael KohnEric StultsRoss Detwiler
Dan Winkler – bothEric Young Jr.John Gant
Alberto CallaspoPeter MoylanRobert Whalen
Aaron KurczAndrew McKirahanZachary Bird
Max FriedTrevor CahillHector Olivera
Dustin PetersonJordan ParoubeckPaco Rodriguez
Jace PetersonCameron Maybin2016 competitive balance round A pick (Joey Wentz)
Mallex SmithMatt Wisler – bothMichael Bourn
Manny Banuelos2015 competitive balance round A pick (Austin Riley)Nick Swisher
Jason Grilli2015 competitive balance round B pick (A.J. Minter)Edwin Jackson
A.J. PierzynskiAdonis GarciaDanny Burawa
Ricardo SanchezNick MassetLuis Valenzuela
Andrew ThurmanJuan Uribe
Mike Foltynewicz – bothChris Withrow

In my estimation, 37 out of 58 players, nearly two-thirds, who were brought in for 2015 or during 2015, were intended for immediate benefit. Granted that the vast majority were reaches, flyers, patches, or just plain desperation, I believe the intent was to try and compete while building the farm at the same time. This intent was ended by the Olivera trade which so decimated the team that the next year became a full on tank job. That belief is further supported by the later Simmons trade which was the only trade of a core player that did not produce a clearly immediately viable player while each of the others did (Heyward, Kimbrel, Miller).

What do you think?

72 thoughts on “Did the Braves Intend to “Retool” or “Rebuild”? (by Roger)”

  1. Hambone, agreed about Ozzie’s Instagram. My wife is more of an Instagram person, and she’s always showing me his posts. She also says it surprises her how young he actually is. We’ve got a good one, indeed.

  2. Interesting read, Roger.

    The Upton trade, at #4, is the one I’ve always hated. I say that having always looked at it through purely a rebuilding viewpoint, too. You’ve got to believe that deal was made for Fried and Peterson, with the rest being throw ins. So you’re trading a power hitting, right-handed OF for a MIF who really had only put it together for two seasons (one of which was in the PCL!) in the minors, and a SP coming off TJ surgery. Sure Mallex has turned out to be pretty good, but the fact that they traded him, to me, says they didn’t foresee that.

    Upton started last season at age 30, making 18 million dollars. If they had just kept him, and extended him, the Braves OF last season would’ve been Acuna, Ender, and Upton. There was either never a need to sign Markakis, or he’s on the bench, depending on how you’d revise history.

    A healthy Upton’s next 3 seasons will see him make, 21, 23 and 28 million dollars respectively. When you consider the price, and the years for Harper though, or the risks associated with Pollock; that’s a solid deal.

    That was always a bad trade, I thought. When you frame it like this, which does line up in a lot of ways, it looks worse; because you’d be trading your 2nd best asset while trying to win. Baffling.

    Also, personally, didn’t love the Kimbrel deal, because Kimbrel’s always been a favorite of mine. I get that was about trading BJ, however.

  3. I think you’re making a pretty good argument that they didn’t want to send the Braves into the abyss per se, that maybe they’re doing something more similar to what the Indians and Mariners are doing this offseason, or something the Rays do just about every offseason.

    And they just failed. Miserably. They traded Andrelton for what has ultimately turned into way less than he was worth (Disclaimer: a 4 WAR Newcomb season this year changes that dramatically). But as of now, that trade is starting to look like something Dave Stewart would do: grossly underestimating the not-clearly-seen value a player has.

    And the same with Olivera trade, and I can’t help but wonder if there was something going on behind the scenes with the international market scandal. I’m a sucker for conspiracy theories. But if those two trades just simply didn’t happen, the Shelby Miller trade either doesn’t happen, or doesn’t look the way it does, and maybe we get someone back other than a SS to plug another hole if you had Andrelton.

    If you don’t screw the pooch on those trades, you’re probably a competitive team in 2016 and a playoff team in 2017, and we’re not calling it a Rebuild(TM).

  4. In fairness, I think one thing that doesn’t get mentioned often enough is that, so far, most of the Braves core pieces right now on the ML squad were brought in under Frank Wren’s watch. Acuna. Albies. Freeman.

    Coppy did make a nice trade for Folty, which deserves credit. He appears to have drafted well, but we really won’t know for sure for a few seasons yet. He also made some real stinkers in the dealing department, too. He basically just went to the negotiating table hacking. Sometimes he’d hit a homer, sometimes he’d whiff.

  5. One of the most important trades of Coppy’s tenure never actually happened. Coppy was apparently on to Luis Severino before he became a big-time prospect and tried repeatedly to get the Yankees to give him up. They wouldn’t do it, Severino blew up into one of the best prospects in baseball, and Coppy decided that if he was going to get this kind of guy, he would need to do it before they became “famous.”

    I think that’s the explanation for Simmons/Newcomb and, to a lesser extent, Smith/Gohara: Coppy was looking for the pitching prospect who was just about to blossom into a stud and who would make him look like a prophet for acquiring them. I remember after the Simmons trade, Coppy gave several interviews where he as much as said that you can’t get these guys any more *after* they’ve broken out — they’re too valuable and teams don’t give them up. You have to get them when they’re relative unknowns.

    Coppy’s big weakness as a GM (aside from, you know, the cheating) was that he was always trying to make the big trade where he made out like a bandit. Sometimes that worked out (both Miller trades, Touki), but a lot of times it didn’t (Olivera, Simmons). If Simmons had never developed as a hitter and Newcomb had become the singularly-valuable super-stud Coppy had envisioned, that trade would be a heist. But Coppy misjudged the players in his overconfidence in his own assessments.

  6. Relievers are fungible. Paying someone like Kimbrel ~15-18M dollars per season at his age is utter folly.

    You can find 8 league minimum guys if you’re good at what you do to have a bullpen that is good enough to win a division. Maybe not a WS or even a playoff series; but spending money on the bullpen is foolish.

    90% of the guys in MLB that are good enough to stay on the 25 man roster in the bullpens are interchangeable.

  7. Chief, I agree. Just say no to high-priced relievers. Win the game innings 1-6 and don’t lose it from the 7-9th. But you don’t need to build a team to match zeroes for several innings if you have to pay big for it.

  8. I am in fact bitter. I’m also not terribly interested in relitigating all of the moves of the rebuild. YMMV, of course. Just not my bag.

  9. Thanks, Roger. Real interesting read. I felt so much better about most of those prospects that were traded for back when it happened (except Olivera of course). In hindsight, not too many panned out. A few are still pending of course (Fried). As most of you, losing Simba hurt the most back then, with Wood a close second, even though he wasn’t generally perceived as good a pitcher as he has turned out to be.
    Really, a cool piece, Roger. Thanks! I’m glad 2014/15 is way behind us. I never again wanna think of either Bill or De la Cruz.

  10. @10 Chief, ask a few of those players that played on those 90s Braves teams if all relievers are fungible. I bet I can guess the answer.

    Truth is, they aren’t. While I do agree that paying someone Kimbrel’s age, or any reliever, 15-18 million dollars for 6 years is foolish; the price isn’t, for the right length (3 years, ideally) of deal.

    A ninth inning guy is important, and it takes a different mindset to do it.

  11. My take was always that the FO originally thought they could just re-tool, then decided to go all-in on a full teardown sometime during the second half of the 2015 season. I think they would have traded Freeman if there hadn’t been a fan outcry. The Simmons trade was the only one I really hated (still do, even though I like Newk). Obviously the Olivera deal was a huge bust, but at the time I thought it was a justifiable attempt to get a premium player at a sparse position. When they got him and almost immediately moved him to LF, though, alarm bells started blaring.

  12. Impressive detail, but I don’t buy the argument. I believe that it was a teardown rebuild, and I think that their public statements that they believed they would contend for the playoffs were nothing more than the kind of dishonest posturing that every front office does every offseason.

    They traded away pretty much every single hitter other than Freddie Freeman — from Gattis to the Uptons to Heyward to Simmons to Quad-A guys like La Stella and Kubitza.

    Even if Olivera had panned out, and even if Erick Aybar had hit enough to replace Andrelton’s then-anemic offense, they clearly lost at least 10 wins on offense. They took a team that had won the division in 2013 and barely finished below .500 in 2014, and turned it into a team that couldn’t have been expected to win more than 75 games.

    What embarrassed them is that that team couldn’t even win 70 games, and that’s why they fired Fredi.

  13. I think that unless you’re going to go all in on your bullpen as a strategy play, like the Brewers did, I think you should just get pretty much league minimum guys, maybe 1-3M tops guys and a 5-6 M closer, tops

    I think that unless it is a focal part of your strategy, its a waste of resources.

  14. A Twitter guy with about 2K followers and seems to work in media is reporting in Spanish that the Braves have signed Marwin Gonazalez at 3 years, $56M:

    Furcal Rule is in effect, as always.

  15. Enrique Rojas with ESPN has since said there is no deal. Gabe Burns (DOB 2.0) retweeted that.

  16. Gabe Burns has now said indeed no offer has been made. Good. His versatility is redundant on our roster.

  17. Thanks to all for slogging through my excessively long take on things.

    @18 Thank you, Alex, this is exactly the response I expected from someone to my treatise. Your take is basically the conventional wisdom on the whole effort, but the devil is in the details.

    1. Going from 2013 to 2014, the hitting was virtually intact. The only difference was that McCann left (of course, that’s a big deal but still). In 2013 the Braves were a top slugging team. In 2014 the Braves were near bottom of the league in slugging. They went from 181 HRs to 123 HRs. McCann was worth about 22 of those. Before trading away any of those hitters you listed, the Braves were a terrible hitting team. In 2014, if the Braves had added a hitter at the deadline, they would have likely won games into the mid-eighties. Instead, after the deadline, the hitting totally collapsed, as I mentioned. Trading all those hitters did not really make much difference going from 2014 to 2015. What they did was compensated for the loss of quality pitching to remain competitive. The 2015 pitching staff was nearly as good as the 2014 staff (until the Olivera trade). With the exception of the J. Upton trade, they did go out to compensate for the poor hitting (I won’t say improve, though). that leads us to

    2. The Markakis signing. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read about how stupid the Braves were to sign Markakis. And that would be correct if they were “rebuilding”. It’s pretty clear they signed Kakes to replace Heyward and signed Pierzynski to replace Gattis (while Bethancourt developed). They signed Kelly Johnson and traded for Juan Uribe early in the season. That along with a healthy Freeman would have been enough to be competitive (not championship material but competitive). But the Braves certainly didn’t plan on Freddie getting injured as part of the “rebuild”. The team would have been quite a bit better with a healthy Freeman and Grilli for the whole season.

    3. You listed all the hitters traded but Simmons was not traded until after 2015 and was definitely part of a “rebuild” because of the failure of the Olivera trade. LaStella was easily replaced in productivity by Jace. BJ by Maybin (Maybin was even better). Heyward by Kakes. Gattis by Pierzynski. Kubitza irrelevant. The only hitter not adequately replaced was Justin (Kelly Johnson?). These are not the actions of a “rebuilding” team but a retooling one.

    Ultimately, my point is that you cannot lump the intent of 2015 with 2016. 2016 was clearly a rebuilding year. 2015 was not. In 2015 the hitting was equivalent to 2014 (2014 = 88 OPS+ and 2015 = 87 OPS+). And that was without a decent replacement for Justin Upton. The “retool” only broke down by gutting the pitching staff at the trade deadline. Wood left a huge gap in the rotation and Avilan was the only effective lefty the Braves had all year. Along with the Grilli injury and also giving away the replacement closer (Johnson), the Braves could no longer win. As a result the Braves finished near the bottom in pitching as well as hitting in 2015.

    Coppy outwitted himself with the Olivera trade and ruined the team for the rest of 2015 and 2016. This was the moment, it turned into a Rebuild(TM) and not a retool. You focus on the Simmons trade which was later and part of the rebuild. Both in 2014 and 2015 (minus the Olivera trade), the Braves were one big hitter away from being a better than .500 team. In 2016, nothing could have saved that team especially after the Simmons and Miller trades.

  18. The Kakes signing indeed makes more sense if they were doing something like the Mariners are doing: trading off guys with minimal control to get guys that could have been helpful within a year.

    I do agree with Roger that this may have been a bit of an evolving situation as it went along based on what they got back from the guys they knew they would trade: Heyward and JUpton.

  19. @4 King, I agree that the JUpt trade is the weakest link in my argument. If Upton had agreed to some sort of extension when the Braves extended the rest of the core then he may not have been traded. Upton was destined for a huge contract and they were never going to go there. They didn’t with Heyward and didn’t with Upton. He was inevitably going to leave and I think the Braves did better to get some excellent prospects for one year’s worth of Justin. It’s a shame they couldn’t really get a Major League resource (a huge contrast with the Heyward trade where they got a core piece back or the Olivera trade where the Braves gave up three major league resources). I suppose Jace sort of counts.

    But look at what Upton’s been since. He’s good everywhere he goes but not great. His big contract limits what his teams can do to fill other gaps. 2013 was the last time he went to the playoffs even considering he played with guys like Miguel Cabrera in DET and Trout in ANA. He absolutely did carry the Braves at times with his offense, but his defense was lacking and he rarely carries total WAR that puts him into superstar territory.

    There is little doubt that keeping Upton would have made the 2015 Braves better but they still couldn’t have won and he would have been gone for a Comp pick. It’s obvious even with the failures of the Petersons that Fried and Mallex turned out to be good resources. The trade was ultimately a decent one.

  20. The original tweet about the Gonzalez signing by the Spanish reporter has been deleted. It’s like it never happened, for which I am grateful.

    Now someone needs to leak a Pollock signing.

  21. @25, I think you’re trying to have it both ways. Maybin was a stopgap — the Braves got him in his 9th major league season, and to that point he had a career OPS+ of 87 in over 2000 major league plate appearances. He replaced B.J. Upton only insofar as he sucked and was cheap and Upton sucked and was expensive. He was not a good hitter, and could not have been expected to be.

    Nor were Jace Peterson, the second baseman (because Dan Uggla had turned into toast) nor Adonis Garcia, the third baseman (because Chris Johnson had turned into toast and Hector Olivera couldn’t even field the position). Nor was Jonny Gomes, a journeyman who had been a replacement-level player in 2014 and who was worse in 2015.

    You cannot look at the 2015 Braves roster — a roster that still had Andrelton Simmons, but had already seen the departures of nearly every other non-Freddie hitter of note — and say that was an offense that could have hoped to contend.

    The 2014 Braves collapsed because their high-paid hitters failed miserably. So the Braves traded them all for prospects while filling the big league roster with cheap crappy stopgaps. That’s not retooling.

  22. So, the thing that’s supposed to make me question the conventional wisdom here is…

    – hand-waving away defense to say Markakis was as good as Good Heyward…sorry, but no. And that doesn’t mean the Markakis contract doesn’t make sense. It does. He was supposed to help us avoid 100-loss territory. That’s all.
    – showing that we replaced many players on a team that hit like crap with…more or less equivalent crap. I mean, really. If I had Jace Peterson’s career in one hand and some toilet paper in the other, I could take two shits.

    LaStella was easily replaced in productivity by Jace.

    Print those playoff tickets.

    BJ by Maybin (Maybin was even better).

    Even better! Good lord.

    I don’t know what “retool” means. If it means “try to establish a floor so this doesn’t turn into a payroll death spiral situation,” then fine, and what we have arrived at is the conventional wisdom.

    The tell here is in all the fudge-words…

    enough to be competitive (not championship material but competitive)

    one big hitter away from being a better than .500 team

    Uribe turned out to be a fairly useful piece and helped keep the Braves competitive.

    unexpected juice from Pierzynski helped keep the Braves somewhat afloat

    Yup. Floaters, one and all.

  23. How is it that the Braves had three “big needs” to fill according to our own GM in November (bullpen, outfield, closer), and not one has been filled as of the middle of January? It baffles me. There were a million good relievers out there via free agency and trade, and not one?

  24. A lot of chips are going to have to fall in the next eight weeks. We’ll see what happens. Waiting has been defensible to this point, as that’s what everyone else in the market is doing, seemingly both buyers and sellers. But AA is going to have to make an actual move eventually.

  25. Of all the crazy deals we’ve made in the last 5 or 6 years I still say the most obviously stupid to the most casual observer was the Chris Johnson deal. I think 10 out of 10 baseball experts would tell you at the time that his .321 batting average and 816 ops couldn’t be repeated. In May of 2014 we signed him to a 3 year, 23.5 million dollar extension. That is still stunning to me. He proved absolutely no one wrong by battling. 261 with a 653 ops while playing less than stellar defense in 2014.

  26. I feel as if someone named Nick will be playing OF for the Braves next season.

    Ideally, Castellanos.

    Probably Markakis.

    Maybe Swisher?…

    So maybe not Swisher, but this post made me think of his brief Atlanta tenure. I always liked him as a player, and seems as if he’d be a cool dude to have a beer with. Wish they’d have had him in his prime.

  27. I guess it’s a good thing that what has surfaced on here in the absence of action has, in one offseason, gone from “will the rebuild ever end?” to “maybe it wasn’t a rebuild after all!” As delusion goes, that’s a positive trajectory.

    The whispers around Pollock are also a good thing. We have more to spend and seem inclined, quietly, to spend it. Who knows, things could get wild and we might even trade some prospects after Harper and Machado are off the board.

  28. Hot take: AA has a price point where he’d be in on Harper. He is waiting to see if that is even remotely possible. If (when) Harper goes elsewhere for something beyond AA’s price point, he’ll move on to plans B and/or C, one of which almost certainly includes an offer to Pollock.

  29. When Harper and Machado inevitably sign, the later in the offseason it will have been will lead to an even more whirlwind of trades and signings. I agree with most, including Rosenthal, that there are teams lined up to do deals once Harper and Machado clear. I think that might be one of the busier weeks of any hot stove season in recent history.

  30. I just got PTSD remembering Jonny Gomes’ appearance as a relief pitcher was the high point of that season.

  31. I recapped that game..and will repost it, in its entirety, here:

    All you need to know is that Jonny Gomes pitched the ninth, and pitched better than both of our starters.

  32. On second thought, going from last offseason’s “what if the Braves tried to compete in 2015?” to this offseason’s “maybe the Braves did try to compete in 2015″ is something of a step backwards.

  33. You’re a bad guy, Adam.

    There have now been 172 official transactions (0 Braves)across MLB/MILB since #Braves signed LHP Jordan Harrison.I cannot tell y’all how much this blows my mind.— Ryan Cothran (@baldheaded1der) January 14, 2019


    Ryan C has been keeping track of how deafly silent the Braves have been with minor league transactions. I do wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that our VP of scouting was on the fritz.

  34. I agree with Alex and Adam. There’s no way anyone — even Crazy Coppy — could’ve legitimately thought that the 2015 team (post teardown) could possibly be competitive. Taking the couple of things that didn’t completely line up with the teardown narrative (signing Markakis, keeping Freeman, etc.) and assuming that they were the real signs of what was going on, as opposed to everything else that made it very clear the plan was to tank, is the definition of missing the forest for the trees.

    And regardless, even if we assume that Roger’s right, that’s not a point in Coppy/Hart’s favor (and he didn’t really suggest it should be, admittedly), since thinking that team could compete would’ve been thunderously stupid.

  35. My barber says AA cam in for a trim. Sounds like we have the following getting ready to go down;

    ATL Gets: Hunter Renfroe and Kirby Yates
    SD Gets: Allard, Anderson, Alex Jackson and Jenista

  36. Every team has a need for minor league free agents. That’s literally how you stock the upper levels of your minor league system.

    Perhaps you mean an immediate need, which would be correct, in theory.

  37. I think minor league free agents are more or less the definition of “fungible.” And I think the Braves currently have a massive over-population of 40-man ready players at the higher levels of the org (AAA, and MLB.) And I think we are all sitting through an interminable waiting game for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper to quit stroking themselves in public over how much everyone loves them and pick a damned contract.

    So, management has no idea what deals that he may have in place – some of which might inevitably move high level AAA pitchers, for example, some of which might not – will actually execute, because again, inappropriate display of public self-love by the super-free agents.

    In short, the Braves minor league FA work is also stuck behind their major league FA work, because it all daisy chains together until inevitably you get back to Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder.

  38. @34 Agreed, but that happened at least a year before the retool/rebuild. But take another look at Johnson’s career stats. He did have a career year in 2013 but he had an OPS+ well over 100 for 3 of 4 years since his rookie season and through 2013. His three year consecutive OPS+ was 85 to 108 to 124 and he was only 29 when he signed. Granted that his 2013 BABIP was .394 but he had consistently sported BABIPs in the .350s and BABIP’d .345 in 2014 in the midst of his crash. I think everyone suspected 2013 was a singular career year but it sure wasn’t obvious from prior stats and who could know he would go directly into the tank the next year? I also recall that Chipper Jones said he was a keeper……

  39. @46 I wouldn’t mind having Renfroe and/or Yates on the Braves, but not at that price. Did your barber knick Anthopolous’ ear, and ask him if he’s lost his mind?

  40. @50

    Or alternately, nobody is willing to offer Harper or Machado what they should be worth on the open market.

    This winter makes it even clearer than last winter did, we’re heading at about 150 miles an hour toward a major strike at the end of this CBA. Or, you know, the players will cave and, from that point forward, will be playing for 10 cents on the dollar with no hope of ever earning what they’re worth.

  41. earning what they’re worth.

    Who determines this other than the people paying them? Are teams supposed to be obligated to give Harper a dozen-year, $420 million contract because he and Scott Boras think he’s worth it? Kimbrel and his six-year, $100+ million asking price?

  42. @30 Adam, the Braves scored exactly the same number of runs in 2015 as 2014 before all the hitters were traded. And that was with Freddie playing 118 games vs.162 in 2014. The retooling mostly addressed the pitching staff while keeping the offense about the same. Markakis, Maybin, Garcia, Johnson, Uribe, Pierzynski were all competent major league assets that played competently.

    The Braves lost three rotation pieces from 2014 – Harang, Santana, Minor. Replacing them with Miller, Wisler, and Folty was pretty aggressive with an intent to compete and improve for the future. They replaced Kimbrel, Varvaro, Walden with Grilli, Johnson, and Viz.

    It worked, too. Through July 8th the Braves were within a half game of the Mets and were .500. Freddie’s injury in mid-June and Grilli’s season-ender on July 11th caused a decline but the Braves still were not out of it on July 24th when Johnson and Uribe were traded – the first true rebuild move just before the disaster a few days later.

    You can pick apart my words or argue that the Braves did not add Zobrist or Cespedes or Cueto or Tulowitzki or Price in deadline deals, but there is no reason to think they weren’t trying to compete from the outset and later converted to a rebuild as a result of a disaster of a trade they could not recover from.

    Some of the best prospects were already in the system – Acuna, Albies, Peraza – and they had a great draft in 2015. The FO needed to bridge the team until they might be available. Heyward and Upton were on the way out anyway and Melvin was useless and expensive. Clearing them away did not really hurt the team in the end.

  43. @52, Chipper Jones goes way back with Chris Johnson. They’re both from DeLand, and Larry Jones Sr. was Chris Johnson’s hitting coach at Stetson University.

    But Johnson was known for his poor defense and mediocre power before he came to the Braves, and his good seasons were entirely BABIP-fueled. Here’s what I wrote in January 2013 when the Braves got him:

    If Johnson can’t hit lefties, then he should be a pinch hitter or stashed in Gwinnett. And if he doesn’t hit in April or May, then I don’t particularly care about small sample size any more. His true talent is so mediocre with the bat and so appalling with the glove that I’m ready to give up on him at the first opportunity. But Evan Gattis will need a couple of months to learn how to play third.

    Chris Johnson

    He was always a hairsbreadth away from unplayable. Always.

  44. @54: We can debate what Machado and Harper are worth next year, and I suspect that if either of them asked for, say, $35 million or maybe even $40 million, for one year, teams would be lining up to pay them. The outyears aren’t about what a player is worth, though; they’re about managing risk between the player and the team. The players have backed themselves into a position where it’s not just about what they’re “worth,” but about their bearing as little risk of their expected worth as possible — indeed, once they are fortunate enough to still be good in postarb years, they are asking the teams to bear *all* of the risk. That has nothing to do with “worth,” and while that might be the cause of a strike, if it is it won’t be a strike over pay levels.

  45. (Heh, Alex, here’s what I had…)

    but it sure wasn’t obvious from prior stats and who could know he would go directly into the tank the next year?

    On this website, we literally nicknamed him “Regression.” We all knew.

    The thing I want to know, Roger, is: how does this all work for you? Do you draw the conclusion first and then just start cherry-picking facts to support your argument? That’s how it seems. You keep pulling this move where you take a little slice of something that’s true — Chris Johnson’s OPS+ — and pretend like it’s the whole picture.

    He didn’t walk, he struck out a lot, he didn’t hit for power, and he wasn’t a good defender. He didn’t have the skills to sustain a .396 BABIP — few do. He was also prone to temper tantrums that would’ve made it difficult to sustain improvement or weather downturns. It was bound to fall apart once the singles stopped dropping in.

  46. Chris Johnson ended up having one of the top 10 or so 5 year stretches of BABIP with .353. Johnson’s 2013 BABIP of .394 is the second-highest single-season qualifying BABIP of the decade. The entire decade. The highest? Austin Jackson, another fluke. Some elite hitters have career years in BABIP, like Josh Hamilton’s .390 clip in 2010 or a plethora of players who get into the .380’s. But there was absolutely, positively no way Johnson was going to sustain anywhere close to what he did that year. But as he fell 35 points, yes, he was still one of the better BABIP guys in all of baseball even through the ending of his career, but he didn’t have the walks or the power to offset the dip. And Wren should have known that as that BABIP dropped, he’d have been a .750 OPS guy the next day.

  47. Adam, the Braves scored exactly the same number of runs in 2015 as 2014 before all the hitters were traded. And that was with Freddie playing 118 games vs.162 in 2014. The retooling mostly addressed the pitching staff while keeping the offense about the same. Markakis, Maybin, Garcia, Johnson, Uribe, Pierzynski were all competent major league assets that played competently.

    OK, so, I could grant you that the 2015 Braves offense may have improved upon 2014…but isn’t that beside the point? Where does that improvement get us, exactly?

    In your mind, what does “competent major league assets that played competently” add up to? It looked to me at the time like the ass-covering of a team that trying to hide its rebuild from its fans — and that’s also how it reads when you write about it.

    When you say things like the Braves were trying to compete, what does that mean?

    Something like a year ago, in a different conversation, you made up your own definition of “untouchable” in the context of trades. This conversation feels the same as that conversation.

    Does “compete” mean a .500 record? Making the playoffs? Being “in it” until a certain point in the year?

    The Braves lost three rotation pieces from 2014 – Harang, Santana, Minor. Replacing them with Miller, Wisler, and Folty was pretty aggressive with an intent to compete and improve for the future.

    Before 2015, Shelby Miller didn’t look like the ace of any meaningfully competitive team’s rotation. Maybe the Braves saw something — and while I’m not even remotely persuaded that the Braves weren’t already rebuilding, practically every rebuilding GM would rather get a player like Miller who might expedite the process. Fair enough.

    But then you had to bring Folty and Wisler into it. Can you explain how 2015 Folty — with his replacement level 86 innings — was worth describing as “was pretty aggressive with an intent to compete”? I can’t wait to see what stat you cherry-pick to make your case for 100-replacement-level-innings Matt Wisler, whose name I sincerely hope never to have to read again.

    They replaced Kimbrel, Varvaro, Walden with Grilli, Johnson, and Viz.

    They traded the certainty of Kimbrel with the high-risk proposition of Jason Grilli, and the rest is fungible. That doesn’t look like meaningfully competing to me. Why not just keep Kimbrel if the intention was to compete? Did they put the money they saved towards the cause of competing in 2015? It all comes back to Matt Wisler, doesn’t it.

    It worked, too. Through July 8th the Braves were within a half game of the Mets and were .500.

    The game is given away yet again. When you say “compete,” you don’t mean “compete.”

    This whole thing is your brainchild, so I’ll just ask: did you take the schedule into account? Did you look at things like base runs? Any advanced stats? Because people who get paid money to write about or make decisions regarding baseball teams and whether or not they are for real over the course of the season do a lot more than just look at the standings.

    Freddie’s injury in mid-June and Grilli’s season-ender on July 11th caused a decline

    Meaningfully competitive teams can usually recover from injuries to one core position player and one reliever.

    but the Braves still were not out of it on July 24th when Johnson and Uribe were traded – the first true rebuild move just before the disaster a few days later.

    Look at what you just said. If we weren’t yet out of it, then WHY would we have made these moves unless the front office already decided we weren’t going to be competitive and needed to rebuild?

    The FO needed to bridge the team until [Acuna, Albies, etc] might be available.

    Sigh. That is the conventional wisdom. Welp, I have been successfully trolled.

  48. As much fun as it is to rehash the 2014-2016 Braves, fwiw AA gave a talk to some A-listers today and claims he’s close on a trade. He says it’s about 70% done, just trying to agree on the add-in.

  49. @59 @61 Adam, you sure are defensive for someone who’s not being challenged. Seems like you don’t like the idea that your original idea or conventional wisdom might not be correct.

    I “agreed” that the Chris Johnson deal was not a great deal in my post. I didn’t like it at the time either. All I was saying was that the Braves had reason to believe it might not be a bad deal. It, at least, had some sort of supporting evidence unlike the horrible, very bad Olivera trade, which had no potential statistical rationale. In essence, I’m agreeing with you while also pointing out that the Braves were not totally stupid. Ease up, bud.if

    As far as the rest of it, there are a lot of teams that put a potential .500 team on the field while trying to build from within. The hope is that someone will turn in career years or the team can be enhanced later. That’s why I continued to use the comparison of the Mets in 2015. In early July, the teams were basically at the same place. The Mets enhanced and the Braves reduced and the result was obvious. Statistics on all of this have been posted before and analyzed ad nauseum, I am trying to add context. The Braves took appropriate steps to develop the team while trying to compete at the same time – not easy. I think they took a look at what they would inevitably lose (e.g. Heyward, Upton, Santana, etc…) and determined it was not sustainable. Yet they did not intend to tank in 2015 and put a competitive product on the field. Yes, it was thin and, yes, it collapsed in the 2nd half, but there is a valid argument that they were doing exactly what they stated – retooling while building the farm. It took two years for Folty to find his groove; if he had had a Walker Buehler debut then 2015 might have been better. Both Folty and Wisler were ML ready and were young pitchers that could both contribute “now” and be long term core pieces.

    You have a very narrow idea of what competitive is. I would hate to see you as an analyst for the Rays. They go through these kinds of additions/subtractions on an annual basis. Most of the time they end up in the middle of the division, competitive but not playoff bound.

    You also seem to want to ignore that I have always insisted that, after the Olivera trade, the Braves went into full rebuilding mode and stopped talking about “retool”. I believe they were forced to after gutting the team to get Olivera.

    I am not cherry picking data. I went through team statistics, draft statistics, individual statistics for several years to come up with the context of the team at the time without using later results (hindsight) to bias the analysis.

    I recall Shelby Miller being seen as a potential TOR starter when he was traded for. He certainly hadn’t had much time to prove it since the Braves got him at 24. Considering we had one year left of Heyward, getting five years of Shelby Miller was a coup. After 2015, when we traded Shelby to ARI, he was a better pitcher than Pat Corbin is now. Granted that Corbin has recovered from his injuries better than Shelby, but you cannot deny that Miller had TOR stats.

    The exchange of players that I used, that you so denigrate, is good proof that the Braves were making moves to compete whether you like it or not. And you can easily say that the Simmons trade, in particular, was intended to rebuild not compete. If the Braves had done better at the end of 2015 (i.e. had never made the Olivera trade), they might not have traded Simmons at all. I am saying, as Rob mentioned, that intent was fluid based upon how well the team played and what mistakes Coppy made.

    You and many others participate in a “beat up on the guys in power” meme and it’s more comfortable to believe the FO is lying or has deceptive intent, when it may not be true at all. If the Braves had been able to retool and produce near .500 teams while building the farm we have (much of it being built by earlier Intl signings and three great drafts in 2015-2017), you would probably not be so angry now…..

  50. Well, it seems like you’re defining “compete” as “aspire to be a .500 team.”

    I don’t view .500 teams as especially competitive, but whatever. When pushed to clarify yourself, you’re not deviating from the conventional wisdom, which is that the Braves tried to tank while keeping the floor at 70 wins. You’re just describing it as a ceiling of 80ish wins and pretending it’s a different argument. It’s semantics.

    I recall Shelby Miller being seen as a potential TOR starter when he was traded for.

    The potential was there, but he was kind of all over the place. The Cardinals obviously didn’t believe in him.

    He certainly hadn’t had much time to prove it since the Braves got him at 24.

    He had two full ML seasons under his belt.

    Considering we had one year left of Heyward, getting five years of Shelby Miller was a coup.

    It was a coup. RIP Oscar Taveras, perhaps the true MVP of the Braves rebuild.

    Again, the Cardinals thought they were selling high on Shelby.

    After 2015, when we traded Shelby to ARI, he was a better pitcher than Pat Corbin is now.

    See, this is what makes me angry… Corbin just put up a 6 WAR season. 11 K/9, 2 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9. Shelby never came close to that. Can you try a little harder to get the facts right?

    Granted that Corbin has recovered from his injuries better than Shelby, but you cannot deny that Miller had TOR stats.

    Yeah…I’m going to go ahead and deny it. A 4.07 xFIP? Just a 7.50 K/9? 3 WAR starters are plenty good, but they’re not aces.

    You and many others participate in a “beat up on the guys in power” meme and it’s more comfortable to believe the FO is lying or has deceptive intent, when it may not be true at all.

    I forget when exactly you got here, but I’ve been here for years. I was here well before the rebuild started. I’ve never had a problem with the rebuild — in fact, one of my favorite things about baseball is that virtually no team is immune to long stretches of failure. And I’ve always understood and even celebrated that it’s part of every front office’s job to lie to fans.

    If anything, I’ve spent way too much time on here making fun of people who did have a problem with the rebuild or got all impatient and indignant when the rebuild didn’t resolve itself in two years, etc. You can ask around or research it yourself if you want, though it’s clear that’s not exactly your strong suit.

  51. Adam R
    a polemicist star
    reasoned but cutting
    which is what we’d expect, no titting or tutting.

    Adam, you write so well. A word in Roger’s defense from my vantage, one he would likely prefer to do without. He made an extraordinary debut on these pages, one I doubt will not recur in a hurry. Within a month his posts must have constituted around 25% of our content, taking their average length into account. And a lot he writes has a streak of originality which, heaven help us, is precious on any blog.

    And then, within a week or so after he had first departed the company line, there arrived the predictable epithet in response – boy. Cringe city, no one protested/apologized, least of all me. He has pressed serenely ahead. And continues to be be a backbone of this blog.

    License then, please, he has earned it. Your excellent post last night prompted this but what the heck. An excuse to get that dirty word off my chest. Cheers.

  52. @62, 64

    We probably shouldn’t get too excited over this “news” just yet. The one reporting this never actually quoted AA as saying 70% “done”… just that they’re in 70% agreement with another team on the concept of a trade.

    Saying that a deal is near done would suggest that we’re in exclusive talks with another team on a player and I doubt that is actually the case. The deal likely remains 0% done until they come to an agreement on what that last 30% of the deal would consist of in order to make it equally advantageous for both parties. This also assumes that any other team could still beat us out (if this trade concept actually does involves a top tier player, which – at this point – we have no way of knowing) by offering a more attractive package to the other team.

    The clarified “quote” appears later in the conversation:

  53. the double negative
    so obvious once control up you give
    so read it out loud while you still can
    else as hundreds giggle, deny it, deadpan.

  54. Sonny Gray walks as many batters as Julio and takes twice as long to do it. Looking forward to the first ten minute at-bat ending in a full count walk.

  55. @66, I read you. Blogs are like ecosystems. It used to be Rob being endlessly annoying with long posts selectively sourced to make things look rosier than they were. I want some credit for the literary quality of the comparison I bestowed upon Rob when he finally figured out that Chris Withrow was bad (see the comment directly above).

    When opportunity knocked on Rob’s door, Rob vacated his niche, and Roger took it.

    One thing we have that I’m willing to bet no other blog has is a blazon. Dude, you’re like a dank memer except from the 19th century. It’s crazy. Kids who are deep-frying Spongebob today would have been writing clerihews back then.

    Anyhow, we both know there’s nothing I can say or do to change things. Roger gonna Roger. There’s no point in trying. Commenting on the internet is a sign of mental illness, and we all have it. T-minus 24 hours until he decides to explain to us all for the twelfth time with a moronic level of conviction that a great reason to trade for Realmuto is that we can then extend him. It’s gonna be great.

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