Projecting Out the NL East (Position Players)

With the Braves doing, frankly, very little this offseason, and the other 3 NL East contenders making wholesale changes to their roster, I decided to take a different approach to projecting each team. Instead of doing overall unit comparisons (offense, defense, pitching, etc.) or going position-by-position, I decided to compare to the top 5 position players, bottom 3 position payers, and best bench bat of each NL East contender. That way defense and games played are taken into consideration, and things like lineup placement and an over-emphasis on their triple slash is minimized. Simply put, how does the core of the team, the bottom of the team, and at least the best bench player stack up?

Top 5 Position Player fWAR (with projections for anomalies):

BravesFreddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Josh Donaldson, Ozzie Albies, and Johan Camargo: 19.2
NationalsAnthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, Victor Robles: 19.7
PhilliesBryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen: 18.1
MetsRobinson Cano, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Jed Lowrie: 16.7

Notes:
-I projected Bryce to be a 4 fWAR player next year, slightly higher than last year’s fWAR.
-Sue me. I gave Josh Donaldson and Ozzie Albies a cumulative projection of 7 fWAR. 4.0 & 3.0, 3.5 & 3.5, however you want to slice it. Ozzie was a 3.8 fWAR last year, and we know what Donaldson can do if healthy.
-I gave Victor Robles a 3 fWAR projection. If he doesn’t hit it, maybe Adam Eaton will actually stay healthy and put in a solid season for once in his Nats tenure. There’s so much that can happen with Washington. Rendon could come down from his 6.3 fWAR season. Soto could take off (though so could Acuna) even higher from his 3.7 fWAR season. Robles could fall flat and Eaton could continue to avoid the field.
-Everyone else’s 2018 fWAR was used.

Bottom 3 Position Player fWAR:

Braves – Catching Unit, Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte: 6.8
NationalsRyan Zimmerman, Catching Unit, Brian Dozier: 8
PhilliesOdubel Herrera, Scott Kingery, Cesar Hernandez: 5.1
MetsYoenis Cespedes, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos: 5.9

Notes:
-I gave the Braves catching unit 2 fWAR, which is only .3 higher than their actual 2018 totals. Because Camargo is one of the top 5 hitters on the team, I chose to omit Nick Markakis and his 2.6 fWAR. I didn’t want to seem like I was cherry-picking with rose-colored glasses. Plus, he’s the highest risk from the entire division to not repeat their 2018 total, unless you think McCutcheon will age swiftly and poorly, which is a fair assumption.
-I gave Zimmerman 3 WAR because if he doesn’t hit or stay on the field, lefty Matt Adams will contribute. Dozier put up 11.2 fWAR in 2016-2017, but put up a 0.8 fWAR last year. He’s 32. I gave him 2 fWAR. I gave the catching unit (Matt Wieters and Kurt Suzuki) 3 fWAR.
-I gave Yoenis Cespedes a bump and projected him to 2 fWAR. He hasn’t been healthy the last two seasons, so he’s had 2.5 fWAR the last two years.

Best Bench Bat:

Braves: Complicated, but for this purpose, it’s Nick Markakis since Camargo undoubtedly will get more PAs than Kakes, especially if Camargo works his way into the outfield.
Nationals: Complicated, but either Matt Adams if Zimmerman plays well or Michael Taylor (career .688 OPS)
Phillies: Maikel Franco
Mets: Todd Frazier

So the Nationals finish ahead if you take the fWAR of their “top” 8 hitters. But Camargo/Markakis makes things complicated for this study. If you took the “top” 9 hitters, they’re really about neck-and-neck. The Phillies made big splashes with their additions, but the back half fo their lineup and best bat off the bench lags behind. The Mets have a deeper lineup than the Phillies, and if you factor Frazier into the equation, they match up fairly closely to Philly.

And you also have to decide which manager will use their position players the best. Calloway, Martinez, and Kapler have yet to manage a winner. Snit has done so, but does he have the in-game skills that the more analytical managers are rumored to possess?

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142 thoughts on “Projecting Out the NL East (Position Players)”

  1. “Camargo will get more plate appearances than Kakes…”

    Did Snitker resign? Die? Surely he didn’t get fired?

  2. Either way, Camargo had the fourth highest WAR amongst position players last year. He needs to be in the lineup every day. But I wrote this probably Tuesday or Wednesday of last week, and another four or five games of Camargo not being in the outfield is really discouraging.

    But it still picking nits. Markakis had a 2.6 WAR, and Camargo had a 3.1. They position Kakes well in RF, and he can still hit. Who gets 150 discretionary PAs is not a huge deal to me. I would only hope they’ll get Camargo in the OF some.

  3. From previous thread:

    The big difference is in the OBP. Jones is a notorious bad ball hitter who rarely walks. He’ll give you more power and maybe more clutch hitting but his defense and BA are equal to Kakes and Kakes has him by 50 points on OBP.

    And OBP is still more valuable than SLG.

  4. Between Ender’s struggles with LHP, and Ozzie’s struggles against RHP, and Donaldson’s and Swanson’s struggles in the trainers room, and Neck’s struggles with playing 162 per year as a 35 year old, and the general notion of getting Freddie a day off at least once or twice, Camargo will see plenty of playing time.

  5. @4 That’s 100% situational, Sam.

    Yes, I’d want my lead-off man to carry a higher OBP% than SLG%. No, I don’t want my #4 and #5 hitters trying to milk walks, or being punch and judy hitters.

    Baseball is a game where success is considered achieved by only actually succeeding 1/3rd of the time. So, to me, trying to string together offense, without power, isn’t an effective strategy to win baseball games. I’d much rather the middle of my batting order carry a higher slugging percentage.

  6. Everything is situational, but over the course of a season, one (1) point of SLG us worth 1.4 points of OBP. OBP is the dollar. SLG is the Canadian dollar.

  7. Yep — I unquestionably agree that a point of OBP is more valuable than a point of SLG, and that Jones is an SLG-first hitter who’s always had a questionable OBP, while Kakes is an OBP-first hitter who’s had questionable slugging ever since his wrist injury several years ago.

    But those profiles have always been true, and Jones has been a significantly better player than Kakes for most of the past decade, while remaining younger.

    On the one hand, Jones’s decline has been more precipitous than Neck’s, which offsets the fact that Neck is older. On the other hand, Jones will finally move out of center field, which will likely help his woeful defensive metrics, as he no longer has the range for CF but once could field the position pretty well.

    Really all I’m saying is, of the following two propositions:
    1) Neck > Jones
    2) Jones ≥ Neck

    I don’t believe that the statistics allow you to assert #1 with 95% confidence.

    Obviously I actually want neither of them to be a starting right fielder for the Braves and I’ll be extremely disappointed if Neck remains our first-string right fielder in August.

  8. OBP and SLG—I’m with Sam and Earl Weaver on this one. Weaver was known for his fondness for the three run homer, but his most enduring insight was that outs are precious. Making an out in over 70% of one’s plate appearances is a helluva lot worse than making an out in fewer than 65% of PAs. You don’t get to hit many three run dingers with a bunch of low OBP batters in the lineup.

  9. My comment at 9 above was not so much directed at the Kakes vs. Jones debate as to my general distrust of low OBP guys. I’d rather have had Brantley.

  10. If this could happen at the beginning of every game, that will do just fine.

  11. Wright is facing pretty much a AAA Pirates lineup today, so I wouldn’t put much stock in today’s performance. It was his handling of a pretty typical Yankee lineup last week that was the most impressive, in my opinion.

  12. To reiterate, my only claim was that I’d rather have Neck on his current contract, this year, than Jones on his deal with AZ.

  13. If Game Day is correct, a pretty amazing thing just happened. Inciarte hit into an unassisted triple play.

  14. Had to have been a hot gun… right?

  15. Based on just the look test and Soroka’s looking like he may be deficient in the 6th tool, staying healthy which I believe to be only part luck and some skill, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe Wright isn’t our top TINSTAAPP.

  16. 18—Nah, I don’t think those velo numbers are out of line. You won’t see 100 in any game in which he’s trying to go more than three innings.

  17. @15, Neck’s contract is 33% higher than Jones’s contract. (Or I guess you could say that Jones’s contract is 25% lower.)

    I interpreted that to mean that you thought that Markakis would be better than Jones by enough of a margin to justify the added price. No?

  18. I think Neck is a better bet to be marginally useful in a limited role, while Jones is far more likely to find the bad side of that cliff he was inching down last year. So, yes.

  19. Got it. So I think that what you’re saying is your expected value for Neck is higher primarily because Jones has a much higher risk of catastrophe (zero value or negative value), not necessarily because you think Jones’s 50th percentile outcome is 25% worse than Neck’s 50th percentile outcome.

    In that case I get what you’re saying.

  20. There’s less downside with Neck, without a doubt. Jones’ skillset has eroded so badly that he might indeed be a replacement level player if his bat slows down any further. Nick will still be able to get the bat on the ball and make the routine play in RF this year.

    Agreed Brantley would have been a much more higher upside signing.

  21. Neck definitely is an old school Moneyball player at this point. He’s pretty good at not making outs and doesn’t cost you on the basepaths by making poor decisions.

  22. Nice line for Touki today… 4 innings, 2 hits, 4 K;s and no walks, although probably not against the highest quality opponent

  23. That’s about right, Alex. I think Jones has a slightly greater chance of running into a few and being “good” in AZ. I think Neck has a better chance at being “good enough in a limited role.” And I think Jones presents a much greater “being the new ACHE” danger.

  24. Touki: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 K. If the lineup they started with was a AAA lineup, then the one he faced late in the game was a AA lineup.

  25. @8 I agree that you can’t really assert either at this point since both players are in a state of change/decline. If you look at just last year, Kakes outslugged Jones as well as out-OBP’ing him. For the prior 5 years, the reverse is true and, if you go with the 1.4-1.0 ratio, Jones is definitely the better player over the prior five years.

    But last year, definitively, Kakes was better then Jones in every aspect. I might also attribute some of that to the O’s being historically awful.

    As others have said, if we bat Markakis 1st then I’m good with his general numbers. If we wanted a #4 hitter then Jones would probably be better (hedging for his sharp decline in power last year).

  26. @17 There would have been no triple play if Culby hadn’t tried to score from 2nd base on a DP. But I bet it would have been fun to watch.

  27. @34 – Thanks for posting. . The numbers of scouts are interesting. The average number of scouts per team in 2019 is 54.6. Atlanta has one of the smallest numbers with 38 scouts. With all the focus. on scouting, it’s a little odd. I would guess they were replaced with statheads. Strange that Houston dropped to 18.

  28. @35 It might be the case that at the time that this inventory was taken, those front offices were in a state of flux. AA fired Bridges and Clark, and it could be that a number of others went with them and there were/are 15 or so vacancies to be filled. This is just a snapshot. It would be interesting if this is a permanent situation. The Braves used to have one of the largest scouting departments, dating back to when Bill Lucas was GM.

  29. It’s also possible that “focus on scouting” means “focus on the four people in the department who actually generate results, and focus on firing the rest of them.”

  30. https://www.ajc.com/sports/liberty-ceo-braves-looking-for-right-deal-amid-east-arms-race/PlKQwW61MdyBv8Dk1AYCsI/

    Is Liberty Media intentionally trying to sound like they have ripped off their customers, or are they this obtuse? “Yeah, we have a lot of money. Thanks for that. We’ve definitely made a lot of money off the stadium and the Battery that you guys hooked us up with. We definitely plan on spending some of this at some point, but right now, we’re really just enjoying the money. We’ll check back in at a later time IRT the, ya know, money… and how happy we are.”

    Obviously that’s hyperbole, but they just need to shut up until they do something. When you’re trying to sell us that payroll is less than the year before but it’s ok because there’s more “non-dead” money in the team, then that’s just not going to excite fans. Are they this tone deaf?

  31. Thanks JonathanF. I did some binge reading after reading that article with similar articles in recent years about how things were trending this way, and I definitely agree that we have less scouts currently because we have changed our scouting department quite a bit. I also think that hiring someone like Mike Fast has brought about some of the changes in the personnel in the scouting department.

    Fast started with the Astros in 2013, I believe, and then became the became the Director of R & D in 2015 which lines up with their run. I do find it interesting that he’s done extensive work on pitch framing, and after hiring him in November, we then later in the offseason passed on the cost of both Realmuto and Grandal. And Flowers is already considered one of the leaders in pitch framing. Does Fast think that focusing on a catcher’s ability to frame pitches and handle the staff more line up with all of the pitching moves we’ve done in the last few years vs. paying a premium for offense at that position?

    https://www.baseballprospectus.com/author/mike_fast/

    He had some really good work before he stopped writing for Baseball Prospectus. Not to go full stalker, but Alex is friends with him on LinkedIn. It’d really be something to assemble some questions and see if he will allow us to conduct an interview. Sadly, though, I wouldn’t be real equipped to know what exactly to ask him.

  32. Anyone know where to get a nice scoring book? I remember many years ago, there was a graphic designer on the board who offered a really nice one. Thanks!

  33. Looks like today’s lineup might be the Opening Day version except for Dansby and pitcher.

    Inciarte
    Donaldson
    Freeman
    Acuna
    Markakis
    Albies
    Flowers
    Duvall (DH)
    Culberson

    With righty on mound (Mikolas), I’m surprised no Camargo. Of course, yes, it is still Spring….

  34. “I think the Atlanta management knows they have capacity to do more and are looking for the right deal.”

    The horror! The horror!

  35. Bryce pitches four scoreless and Mr. Acunna hits a double and a homer in his first two at bats. The kids are alright.

  36. It doesn’t tell us much about what they’ll do when the season starts, but Wright, Touki, Wilson and Fried look to be in a fierce competition for the 4/5 starter spot. Folty being hurt gives them the opportunity to get a few more looks.

  37. Last time I saw Flowers catch, I studied his technique a little bit. He gives the pitcher a good target and then just before P releases the ball, Flowers drops his mitt to the dirt. When the ball arrives, he meets it at its destination and holds the mitt there. If it’s reasonably close to where he originally held the mitt, I see how it could create an illusion that the P hit his spot dead on. Jackson subbed in and did not use this technique from what I saw.

  38. How is that statement “tone deaf.” It’s completely, utterly banal. “The Braves have budget and ability to make moves, and management are looking for the right one.” It’s both completely vapid and obvious, but it is in zero manner offensive. What sort of outrage culture must one have bought into to find it so?

  39. A lot of teams seem to be playing the “We totally have money to spend; we’re just looking for The Right Deal (TM). Payroll will totally increase sometime in the vague, theoretical future, so please ignore our present penny-pinching. Someday (TM), we will be a juggernaut” gig recently. There’s an interview with the Blue Jays’ Mark Shapiro on the front page of MLBTR right now that reads like it was lifted from the Liberty Media PR offices. I wonder if there was a seminar somewhere.

    I can’t help but think that if every organization is looking for The Right Deal (TM), no one will get one.

    “Banal,” sure. I guess I just disagree on the motivations of the banality.

  40. I will tell you from what I’m seeing so far, maybe it’s good that the Braves have waited things out. We knew he was a risk going into the season but Dansby’s wrist and overall readiness for April looks like a a much bigger question mark than expected. Fortunately we have a great replacement in Camargo, but that will seriously affect our overall depth.

  41. Power Rankings of descriptions of Liberty Media’s recent statement:

    6. Offensive
    5. Vapid
    4. Horror
    3. Obvious
    2. Banal
    1. Tone deaf

  42. Honestly, I think I preferred it when owners/GMs cried poor, rather than the “We can make any move we want, we’re just too sharp to sign a free agent to a market deal or trade a fair prospect package for a player who could help us. After all, if you can’t wring every drop of blood from the other party in a deal, why even make it?” attitude that seems so common in front offices today. At least back then they weren’t expecting us to admire their failure to do their jobs.

    There was a time when I rooted for clear-minded fiscal assessments and highway robbery trades, but I’m kind of over that now. I don’t get any pleasure out of the knowledge that the front office is smarter than the average bear. Just want to win, thanks. If you’re so smart, put it on the field and show me a championship. The world’s smartest bean counter impresses me about as much as the world’s smartest termite.

  43. Well, alright, alright, alright sports fans. Riley in LF, Acuna in CF, Camargo in RF today. Whatever gets Kakes out of the lineup.

  44. Last offseason: the rebuild is a failure, this team will never be competitive again, they aren’t even trying to win

    [Braves win the division by 8 games]

    This offseason: I’m so sick of our clear-minded, smart front office, they haven’t even won a championship, they aren’t even trying to win

  45. @Rob

    Does this WordPress template (Vanilla Milkshake) allow you to add a button so you can click to go to the bottom of the comments without scrolling down?

  46. I’m not sure if the previous theme did, but it doesn’t seem like this theme does. Hap would have to fill us in on that. The best I think you can do on any WordPress comment build is to click the timestamp on the most recent comment, and when you reload, it’ll go down to that comment.

  47. I know he just started, but I had to laugh at the stats for our #24 prospect, AJ Grafanino (remember his Dad Tony?). Last year in the Appy league he batted 407 with a 400 obp and a 407 slugging percent. Something tells me that will be difficult to sustain.

  48. @65 — Where’s the lie? I know when I think “trying to win,” I think “cut payroll the year after winning 90 games with a core of young talent and a deep farm system while the other teams catch up. Also, make zero trades and acquire zero players beyond 2019 or younger than 33 years old.”

    They could win this year. Stranger things have happened, and they’re not an awful team. But they’ve made it a lot harder than it needs to be for no real reason. Teams that won the division by eight games with money and prospects to spend should not be projected to come in fourth the next year short of a fire sale.

  49. @Chief @Rob, I will see what I can come up with when I get a chance. Rob is correct about the timestamp link though; that’s what I always do.

  50. The old build had the most recent comments on the right. (Below the polls and above DOB,) You could always click the top of that list to get to the bottom.

  51. The good news is that we don’t have to worry about outfield defense if all the hits he gives up are home runs. So we got that going for us, which is nice.

  52. No great feat against Michael Taylor, Spencer Kieboom, and Patrick Corbin, but this Jose De Paula character, looking to grab a spot in our pen, struck out the side in the second. It appears that if there is a sleeper to get a spot in the pen, it would be this guy.

    It’s funny, someone has his age wrong. ESPN is saying he’s 27, Baseball Reference is saying he’s 31, and Wikipedia is saying he’s 29.

  53. Acuna has the first three legs of a cycle. And a stolen base.

    Is he ever going to get tired of being amazing?

  54. Maybe Gausman was working on something that he wouldn’t try in the regular season. Don’t overreact over one bad spring training outing.

  55. It appears Acuna may be ready for the season to start. He is 8 for his last 8 with 2 home runs, 2 doubles and a triple. He’s 1 triple short of hitting for the cycle 2 times in 8 at bats.

  56. The Nats comentators were saying Gausman may have been working on his changeup. They probably just said this because it was not that great yesterday. But yeah, it’s just been a couple of games for him.

  57. Hahahaha. For all the people complaining about pace of play changes, the one change they make hurts the sponsors/league.

  58. The thing about Manfred is that he ends up getting everybody up in arms about what they say they want to do, and then what they end up doing is perfectly reasonable and makes the freak out crowd look silly. Pitch clocks, moving the mound, have to stay in the box, all these things were talked about. They end up shortening commercials as the one big first move. He’s just playing chess with the players and fans.

  59. As of this season there will be a single trade deadline on July 31, with the August 31 waiver trade deadline eliminated;

    As first reported last week, the All-Star Game “Election Day” format will officially come online;

    There will now be a $1 million bonus for the Home Run Derby winner, aimed at getting the biggest names to participate;

    Beginning in 2020, a three-batter minimum for pitchers and an expansion of the active roster from 25 to 26 players will go into effect; and

    Also beginning in 2020, regular-season rosters will expand from 25 to 26 players while September rosters will contract to a maximum of 28. There may likewise be limits placed on the number of pitchers on each roster.

  60. @87

    Our next King of Diamonds was on brief display yesterday. Keep him up.

    Electrifying speed, a center fielder who almost overnight will become the best in baseball. Willy Mays in Atlanta. A ruthless Henderson on the bases, the opposition steamrolled. And he is beginning to hit with power. Wow. Just keep him up.

    Cristian Pache
    he’s no Liberace
    he’s a consummate hip hopper
    we await with passion our blurring, blasting bopper.

  61. @89 The thing about playing Chess is some times you lose.

    I don’t have a problem with the length of the games, or the pace of play, at current. Of course I’m not going to complain about shorter commercial breaks, either. I don’t love the three-batter minimum rule, because I feel like there situations where playing match ups is called for. It also effectively eliminates the LOOGY. However, it’s probably the easiest rule change to swallow, out of all of Manfred’s stupid ideas. So all-in-all, at a cursory glance, yesterday’s changes seem fine.

  62. I’m OK with all but the 3 batter minimum which IMO is just dumb. I’m also glad the shift survived. If I want to put all 7 of my fielders out in RF I should be able to.

    I’d like to see more PIP where the camera stays on the field but commercials are popped up in a window but the greedy companies would never go for that.

  63. I don’t have a problem with the length of the games, or the pace of play, at current.

    I mean, some people like Phil Collins.

  64. I’m not sure the trade deadline tweak will make any real difference. Probably won’t hurt either.

    The ASG tweaks are pointless and aimed mostly at ad revenue from the voting websites.

    I support almost anything that reduces the cavalcade of relievers after the fifth inning, and given up a 26th roster spot to make up the loss of “LOOGY” work to the MLBPA is a good move to edge those changes in.

    LOOGY/ROOGY’s should never be part of baseball ever again.

  65. A LOOGY or ROOGY will still be useful to get the last out in an inning. I wouldn’t be surprised to see most staffs keep one LOOGY around at least.

  66. I wonder how teams will use the 26th man. With the three batter minimum, it probably won’t be an extra pitcher. Probably an extra bat-only bench player?

  67. I’m guessing there will be a 13 pitcher limit on the 26 man roster. Teams that are already carrying 13 pitchers will have to add a bat. Teams with 12 may have an incentive to add another pitcher given the increased option/ DL times. Harder to do the constant shuffle between ML and AAA than under the current rules.

  68. I’m surprised no one has an issue with the three-batter minimum. I agree it doesn’t eliminate LOOGY’s and ROOGY’s, but it certainly diminishes their usefulness. You may bring a pitcher in to get the last out of the inning, but I assume they have to face the first two in the next inning. For those that don’t want to see the change interfered with, this is certainly an interference of strategy.

    I guess people hate Tony LaRussa that bad…

  69. I believe the rule says three batters or end of inning. I’m perfectly fine with this. If a pitcher can’t get batters out on both sides of the plate, find another line of work.

  70. 104-I’m pretty sure the release said an exception to the three batter rule would be if a pitcher completed an inning.

    I am all for the 3 batter minimum. I even proposed eliminating mid inning pitching changes here a while back. This is a reasonable solution I think.

  71. I missed that part. That’s a better rule. It definitely still reduces the usefulness of an OOGY.

  72. There is no downside to requiring pitchers be generally capable of pitching an actual inning of baseball.

  73. Yeah, I’m in agreement as well. I’m just surprised there’s not someone saying, “The game was just fine as it was before Manfred started messing with it.”

  74. I’m actually really happy that the league is trying to experiment to iteratively improve the game. I have full confidence that the game will evolve a lot more slowly than the NBA, which changes its rules on illegal defense once a week and whose refs take money from the mob while the commissioner blocks internal investigation.

    But I think Manfred is tin-eared and tone-deaf, I’ve never been impressed by his intelligence or creativity, he clearly has very little credibility with players, and he’s done nothing to inspire confidence with me as a fan. He literally only holds his job because Bud Selig told the other voters to give him the job with no search. I think he’s about as strong a leader as Tony Clark, and their mutual weakness and lack of attention to detail is a huge reason that I worry we’ll be unlikely to avoid a labor stoppage.

  75. I generally agree with you Alex, and perhaps you will wind up being correct about Manfred, but I have appreciated his openness to change and desire to improve the on-field product. I’ve never really had much of a negative opinion on Manfred, though as you point out, if there is a labor stoppage, it will be on him.

  76. I would like to see an 11 pitcher maximum combined with a 20-day DL. This combination would stop all the shenanigans with DL trips and OOGY’s and Openers and put the burden back on starters and multi inning relievers. You would still see matchups get played in important games but it wouldn’t be commonplace as it is now.

    Chief, do you think McCann would still try to pull the ball in your defensive set-up?

  77. Nothing needed changing in the first place. Literally the only thing that needs changing are whether the DH is going in the NL and the service time manipulation stuff.

    All the rest of this is just millennial pandering. And as such, I hate it. And millennials.

  78. There’s still some ways to combat the extended length of games that I haven’t seen discussed much.

    I’ll preface this by saying that I played catcher at a fairly high level, and I love this game as a whole, but I’ve never understood why pitchers are allowed warmup pitches between innings and after pitching changes. No other sport does this. You don’t see a basketball substitution taking practice 3 pointers while everyone sits and watches…

    You enter the game and the game starts. Warm up in the bullpen.

    Now I realize that at the MLB level this time would be spent on commercial breaks anyways, but this nonsense is done at all amateur levels. Makes no sense at all. Why add 50 more pitches to a starter’s pitch count, even if they are low-effort it doesn’t add any value at all. I feel like it just decrements the number of pitches left in someone’s arm for no good reason.

  79. 11 pitcher minimum would never happen. Players and ownership are pushing for less stress on bullpen arms. I actually think a 3 batter minimum increases strategy. With 1 out, would you rather bring a loogy in to pitch to a lefty and righty or would you prefer a roogy? Obviously it will depend on how good the respective hitters are and who you have on the bench.

  80. @114, Manfred literally complained that Mike Trout didn’t spend more time marketing himself for the good of baseball.

    Seriously – if the league can’t figure out how to market the new Willie Mays, maybe it’s the league’s fault.

  81. Big fan of the three batter minimum. This will certainly speed up the game.
    Manfred is out there with some ideas but I kind of like how he’s operating. He needs to push the envelope somewhat in order to get the better ideas through.
    I like that he’s trying to improve the game and the speed. That’s actually part of his job.

  82. @120, totally agreed that speeding up the game is a good thing, and that it’s his job. But the way he’s doing it is coming off as confrontational, when frankly it’s something that players should also want — players and owners should absolutely be aligned on improving the experience of baseball for fans. No one has fun when 9-inning games take four hours.

    I’d love to see evidence that he can actually build bridges over shared interests, rather than enabling the owners in their short-sighted quest for single-axis positioning like a stupid tug of war. Kids can’t stay up till 11:00pm watching baseball. They should all want to try to find ways to make a game that more kids on the East Coast can fall in love with.

  83. Agreed, Alex, it does look confrontational and seems to be part of his negotiation style. I don’t know if it’s necessary or not. I haven’t read anything from the MLBPA, only players feedback.

  84. We need a American Chopper meme debate around whether having relievers who are ultimately worse at their jobs will actually speed up the game. And if the resultant added offense perhaps even slowing down the game wouldn’t be preferable anyway.

  85. Bowman and DOB are both walking back the optimistic “Folty will be ready in early April” projections. Now he’s unlikely to make a start before the Braves leave Florida.

    Setting the O/U on Folty starts in 2019 at 20.5.

  86. Teheran’s probably going to be the opening day starter. Real fine job by the front office not trading for a top of the rotation starter this offseason.

  87. Oh, please. If the Braves have a mediocre season, I’m not going to refrain from ragging on management’s decision to shoot for 88 wins and cross their fingers just because it’s an unoriginal opinion. Sometimes the obvious take is obvious for a reason.

    They didn’t have to play it this way. No one made them do it.

  88. All the bad things that the curmudgeons have ever said on here about Liberty Media are 100% true.

    They signed an oft-injured former star/drinking buddy of the GM to a 1 year deal.

    And have done almost nothing else.

    At this point, I’d just put Kyle Wright and Touki in the rotation and call it a day.

  89. Manfred is a schmuck.

    I’m 100% with Alex @110 on this. There was never a proper search for a Commissioner before Manfred was anointe- Oops, I guess I’m supposed to say appointed. Instead it was passed to him, the way a king passes his crown to his first born son, by the former king of ineptitude, Bud Selig. I firmly believe, in his heart, Buddy pushed so hard for this because he knew Manfred was the one man capable of being a bigger clown than he was, thus absolving him of being the worst Commissioner in baseball history.

    I don’t love the three batter rule at all. I detest all of these proposed changes. The three batter rule is a little bit like a flesh wound though, in that it at least feels as if we avoided significant damage. However, it doesn’t make you happy to have it, all the same.

  90. @131 “They signed an oft-injured former star/drinking buddy of the GM to a 1 year deal.”

    I wouldn’t call Donaldson a former star. The guy was hurt last year. It happens. There was a time Freeman was coming off of wrist injuries, and it took him a bit to round into form. If Donaldson was three years younger, would you cite his injury?

    That signing was a positive move. Had they gotten an upgrade in the OF, this offseason would’ve been a win. Heck, had they kept Nick, and either acquired an ace or a big time closer, this offseason is still a win. Right now, it’s kind of incomplete.

  91. The most charitable read of the Braves’ offseason I can conjure is that AA did not buy in to the Braves’ success in 2018, thought they mostly won by default, still believed they needed another year. So he signed Donaldson as a sop so people wouldn’t call for his head for doing nothing after a 90-win season — good or bad, it’s over after a year, so no harm done long-term, and there’s some upside there, either as a piece of a winning team or as a deadline trade piece. Then fill all the other holes with cheap veterans and have another development season, with eyes on actually “going for it” in 2020 and beyond.

    Any other explanation, I think, involves either incompetence (AA wanted to make the team better for 2019 but somehow couldn’t despite numerous opportunities) or chicanery (Braves as a real estate venture, between-the-lines success optional).

  92. @ #130

    I think Keuchel, who has a high groundball rate, would be perfect for our sure-handed infield. However, with one rotation pitcher (Tehran) already having problems with his velocity, the Braves FO is probably wary about signing Keuchel.

  93. @135 I think the issue was a little more subtle. One thing data can do for you is to suggest what value you have, what in specific needs to be improved, and many other things. One issue with data is that it is almost always suggestive and not definitive. I think AA is suffering from fear; fear of making the one bad deal that causes everything to go south. And this fear is causing him to be very restrictive about what an acceptable deal is. Looking for “the right deal” is an instant indication of reluctance to be bold in improving the team. The idea that a slight overpay might actually be just bold enough to make a big positive impact to me indicates that fear has taken hold and data is leading to over-analyzing every move. The deals last July were all such big no-brainers (the O’s were selling at a discount). With everyone from free agents to trade partners breathing down the Braves’ neck with the abundance of talent the Braves have to offer, I believe the FO has the “yips” and has become incapable of making any but the most obvious of deals – hence the signings of Kakes and McCann, in particular, and using a cozy relationship to add Donaldson.

    I don’t think they’re incompetent, only excessively indecisive. If this continues through the deadline and into the next offseason, it will spill over into incompetence and AA will lose his job.

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