Finally

Kearns among outfield options | ajc.com

I’ve been pushing for the acquisition of Austin Kearns since mid-October. Now someone at the AJC mentions him as a possibility. You can’t take it too seriously because the AJC also mentions Dustan Mohr, who has signed with the Rockies, as a free agent possibility, and Jacque Jones, who apparently is staying put in Minnesota after being offered arbitration, as a trade possibility.

32 thoughts on “Finally”

  1. Is MLB cracking down on managers not sending players to split squad games by reducing the number played? I know that the braves usually have more than 2 split squad days in a spring.

    Kearns would be an interesting option. I wonder if he could be signed to an extension at a bargain rate since he is coming off a tough season.

  2. The Braves may have joined the Royals in asking the Reds about Austin Kearns.
    The Indians and Tigers also could have some interest. The Reds aren’t going to give Kearns away, but after their recent moves, they may be a little more open to a trade. They could move Kearns and still have Ryan Freel to back up Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Wily Mo Pena

  3. Kearns sounds great, but I wonder what the Braves would have to give up to get him. Any rumors or guesses as to who could get traded? I assume it would have to be minor league talent or else it would just open up another hole on the big-league team.

  4. Horacio Ramirez is the name I keep hearing in any Kearns deal. In which case, Davies moves to the rotation.

  5. I’d do that in a second. Well, if we didn’t have to give up anyone from the Marte/Francoeur/McCann group as well. I’m not convinced that Ramirez is healthy, because they never did figure out what was wrong in the first place. He threw a whole lot of pitches between 2003 and early 2004.

  6. I’d be open to trading Horacio too. His peripherals didn’t really justify his great ERA last year, and that mysterious injury was unnerving. If I could get Kearns for him, I’d be all over it.

  7. I agree with you, Mac. I can’t believe the Reds would be stupid enough to do it – I’d rather have Kyle Davies if I were them, and I wouldn’t give him up if I were the Braves. Then again, this is the team that gave Eric F. Milton 26 meeeeeeellion dollars to give up 40 homers a year, so maybe they really are that dumb.

    I would guess we’d have to give up someone else other than Ramirez because of his lesser pedigree and injury concerns that even the Reds can’t help but notice. I’d part with any minor leaguer outside the quartet of Davies, Francoeur, Marte, and McCann – maybe Jared Saltalamacchia? They’d probably want Jake Stevens, coincidentally the person I’d least like to give them.

    Did yall see the AJC article that says we might not be able to sign Hudson because of all the money we owe Hampton? What happened to “our payroll is higher than it appears because Hampton’s contract is pro-rated to $8m per year?” Those AOL cheapskates can’t have their cake and eat it too.

  8. I’m ok trading some prospects for Kearns potential. Since his pedigree isn’t as good as even Drews then I would hope that we wouldn’t have to part with one of our great prospects just a couple of our good ones.

    If we sign Brian Jordan at all, I’ll throw up. I laughed my tail off at the Who let Terrence Moore in comment in the last thread.

    Just to get flamed a bit how about this one. Marte and Ramirez for Adam Dunn. Ouch! I can already feel the heat.

  9. I think the Reds love Dunn too much to let him go – high K’s or no. I’d be willing to see that trade, though…

  10. I would do that in a second, Johnny, but the Reds wouldn’t. Why do you think you’d get flamed? I guess Dunn loses some value because he’s already in arbitration, but jeez can he hit. I doubt Marte ever matches Adam’s power or plate discipline, and will probably hit for similar average and contact percentage. If the Braves follow through on the plan to move Marte to left, then he’s less valuable at his peak than Dunn is now, IMHO. Of course, he could turn into a hall-of-famer, but Dunn is damn good now.

  11. At this point in the offseason, I doubt that we’ll see any action on Kearns until Spring Training. Kearns has injury concerns that have put a lot of teams off, and I think the Reds will cross their fingers and hope that he has a good spring to drive up his value.

    I guess the same strategy would apply to Rameriez as well. If the Braves want to offer him for Kearns, I bet the Reds would say that they’d rather wait to see how he does in the spring before giving up anything of value for him.

  12. I can’t for the life of me figure out the Reds. Why the heck sign Randa? Its almost like the Reds saw that we needed an outfielder and said ‘Hey lets sign an unnecessary third baseman so that now we can have 5 players for 3 positions instead of 4 and then we can trade one for a Braves pitching prospect!’

    For all of the Andy Marte and Jeff Francoeur love out there I must mention that neither have played above AA and neither have put up the kind of can’t miss numbers that Chipper and Andruw put up. The 2006 arrival date may be pre mature speculation especially with Francoeur. Don’t get me wrong I like hearing how well regarded those guys are but I’ve been a Braves fan long enough to remember Brad Komminsk (aka ‘The Next Dale Murphy’).

  13. I don’t know, I think Marte is holding his own so far versus Chipper’s minor league totals:

    http://thebaseballcube.com/profiles/MA/tbc6123.asp

    http://www.sports-wired.com/players/profile.asp?ID=975

    Chipper’s BAs at 19 and 20 are about 40 points higher than Marte’s, so he has a head start there. But Marte played in Macon (low-A) one year earlier than Chipper, and stayed within a reasonable margin.

    One of the latest nuggets to emerge from the baseball think-tank is to look at minor league doubles totals to project what the player’s anticipated power numbers will be in the bigs. The idea being that a portion of the 2Bs will translate to HRs once the player reaches his physical peak.

    Chipper (ages 19-21) 24, 39, 31
    Marte (ages 18-20) 32, 35, 32

    Now how about home run totals, representing extant power:

    Chipper — 15, 13, 13
    Marte — 21, 16, 24

    Plate appearances (okay, ABs + BBs):

    Chipper — 542, 572, 593
    Marte — 529, 530, 462

    Marte has had fewer each year.

    Total XBHs (just throwing out numbers now):

    Chipper — 50, 64, 56
    Marte — 57, 52, 57

    Chipper began with much more speed than Marte now has:

    3Bs (Chipper) — 11, 12, 12
    3Bs (Marte) — 4, 1, 1

    SBs (Chipper) — 40, 24, 23
    SBs (Marte) — 2, 5, 1

    Plate discipline is obviously important.

    BB%

    Chipper — 12.7, 7.3, 9.6
    Marte — 7.8, 12.6, 13.0

    When you factor in the fact that Marte is one year younger than Chipper at the same stage of advancement, I think he exceeds Chipper in terms of projectible power, and his improvement at plate discipline is very heartening indeed. I look at Adam Dunn and think, if he could hit .290 he could be the MVP. I believe that, in Marte, that’s exactly what we have.

  14. I also believe that the Braves’ High-A affiliate wasn’t in Myrtle Beach when Chipper was coming up. That park really depresses hitting numbers, and Marte’s ability to overcome it is maybe the most impressive part of his hitting record. I think I’ve written this before, but I think Marte will win a few home run titles. I also think he’ll hit for a higher average than Dunn, though I doubt he’ll be a .300 hitter.

  15. Sansho, good stuff. I sort of stand corrected but still stand by my original statment as well. The battng avgs. Chip put up in AA and AAA left no doubt that he was major league ready. I know most overrated offensive stat but still important.
    I don’t know where you can find Marte’s home/road splits at Myrtle, but Jeff Francouer’s were huge.
    Shoot, if y’all think that Marte will be as good or nearly as good as Dunn then thats alright by me.

  16. Two things about Marte vs. Chipper. First, as has been mentioned, Chipper’s batting average was consistently higher than Marte’s except for his half-season at High A ball. While average is something that jumps around a lot, low average hitters in the minors don’t tend to become high average hitters in the big leagues; therefore, it’s unlikely that Marte will ever consistently hit .300. Second, and probably much more important, Chipper controlled the strike zone much better than Marte did. While their walk numbers are comparable, Chipper never struck out 100 times in a minor league season, and except for his half-season in AA kept his K/BB ratio very close to 1. Marte’s K/BB ratio has hovered between 1.5 and 2.0 for his entire minor league career (although he’s been playing at higher levels relative to age for most of it than Chipper did).

    If Andy cuts his strikeouts way down in AAA next year, he’s a stud, and he’ll make a bunch of all star teams. If he doesn’t, he’ll still likely be a good player, but may not reach Chipper’s or Dunn’s level. Note that I’m skeptical this will happen because he struck out a ton while playing winter ball recently. That’s why I would trade him for Dunn (but not for Kearns).

  17. I’ll also point to my post Who is Andy Marte? Basically, I came to the conclusion that he should at minimum have a career similar to Matt Williams’. Which is pretty good, if not a Hall of Famer. He has a significant chance to be better than that.

  18. Kyle, why do you find K’s more objectionable than other sorts of outs? Marte’s OBP is about the same as Chippers’ at each level, and his walk rate is actually better, so I don’t understand the “control the strike zone” comment. Second, on what are you basing the notion that “low average hitters in the minors don’t tend to become high average hitters in the big leagues; therefore, it’s unlikely that Marte will ever consistently hit .300.”? I’d love to see the data that bears that out. Just curious.

  19. I’m at work, so I don’t really have time to look around. If you can find some counter-examples (players who never cracked .300 in the minors but went on to consistently hit .300+ in the majors) I’d love to see them. there are certainly tons of examples of high average hitters in the minors who couldn’t make it in the majors, so a high average isn’t a ticket to stardom – it’s just a nice bonus.

    Although we say strikeouts aren’t worse than other types of outs, that isn’t really true. Putting the ball in play is almost always better (except for slow grounders and slow runners with runners on base). High strikeout guys almost never hit for great averages because of the randomness of balls in play that turn into hits; high SO players put fewer balls into play and thus have less hits. It doesn’t hurt them as bad because power hitters tend to have higher BABIP averages than contact hitters. But given the choice between equivalent players (same defense, ISO, Iso OBP) i’ll take the guy who strikes out less every time. Not a huge insight.

    Marte is a guy who seems to have old-player skills. He’s already pretty patient and has power. These are the skills that former all-star players tend to hang onto; however, players begin only with these skills tend to have shorter, less successful careers. You’ll have to take my word here, because I don’t have time to find more research about this. try tangotiger’s website.

    Regarding my “control the strike zone” comment, simply put, Chipper had fewer strikeouts, (roughly) equivalent walks, and better average than Marte at the same age. Either he was not swinging at as many bad pitches as Marte did or he was more successful at making solid contact with “close” pitches. Put it another way: if Marte strikes out a ton against AA and AAA pitchers, how should we project him in the majors?

    As I’ve mentioned, I love marte and think he’ll be a good player. However, there are valid concerns about him, and i think an adam dunn-level career is far from a given. Therefore, if we could trade marte for dunn, i would do it.

  20. Kyle, points well-taken about Marte exhibiting old-player skills — I’ve thought that, too. However, I think one of the corollaries to the idea that players with old-player skills don’t have long careers is that these players tend to have old-player bodies when they’re young. Guys like Tim Salmon, Greg Luzinski, and the Bill James prototye of the breed, Tom Brunansky. Big hulking sluggers who can’t run 90 feet without pulling something, but walk and strike out a lot and hit lots of HRs. Marte is listed at 6’1″, 185 — I don’t know how accurate that is, but it doesn’t seem as though he’s built along the lines of the above.

    But Adam Dunn certainly is. In fact, he’s the embodiment of the characteristics that concern you about Marte, plus he’s four years older. Since Marte projects to be the same type of hitter as Dunn, I think we should keep the guy with more good (and relatively cheap) years in front of him.

  21. I had season tickets right behind home plate for one of Marte’s AA opponents, the Montgomery Biscuits, and saw a bunch of Marte’s games. Marte’s build reminds me of Andruw Jones: rather compact, and possibly not as tall as his listed height. He wore very baggy uniforms and did not have large arms giving the impression that he wasn’t a well defined muscular young man.

    But …

    He had a classic upright stance, close to the plate and diving in. He made solid contact and drove the ball from the left field line to RCF. He had a couple of ringing doubles and had one of the hardest hit atom balls I saw all year.

    In the field, he reminded me of Terry Pendleton. Sets up low to the gound, moves smoothly, rangy player with a quick release. He is said to have a strong arm, but either they are talking more about his release / footwork or I never saw it displayed.

  22. you’re right, dunn definitely has old player skills, although from what I understand he is actually a good athlete despite his size. however, that’s less likely to hold up with time. additionally, baseball america chose francoeur over marte partially because they are in love with his body – marte’s legs are “too thick.” of course, they have been saying stuff like that for years, so who knows.

    bamadan, thanks for the scouting report. i’d love to see him play in person, so i hope they start him in richmond – that’s only 90 minutes south of me. i think we’ll have andy for the long haul anyway, so hopefully all my fears are unfounded.

    it seems like that many guys who go on to become stars have one season or half-season in the minors where they suddenly hit .350 with tons of power, a la miguel cabrera of 2 years ago and david wright of last year (and even andruw years ago). keep our fingers crossed that this will be andy’s year…

  23. I think last year might have been Marte’s year except that he got hurt just when he was starting to heat up. One of the most impressive things about Marte is that he hasn’t gotten very many good breaks, yet has overcome the bad ones… If Marte is as good of a defensive player as TP, he’ll be a heck of a player once you add in the offense. Of course, he might not get to show that for awhile.

    I don’t think much of the stolen base as an offensive weapon, but it’s a good way to track a player’s speed. Dunn over the last three seasons:

    SB CS
    19 9
    8 2
    6 1

    Good percentage base-stealer, but one that’s seemingly slowed down. And he had no triples last season, four for his career. Sim score through Age 24:

    # Reggie Jackson (948) *
    # Darryl Strawberry (941)
    # Troy Glaus (924)
    # Tom Brunansky (919)
    # Boog Powell (911)
    # Jose Canseco (911)
    # Pete Incaviglia (907)
    # Ben Grieve (902)
    # Jeff Burroughs (899)
    # Tony Conigliaro (895)

    Yes, Reggie at the top, but remember the era and park differences — Reggie putting up the same numbers in the late sixties in Oakland is far more impressive. Most of the others were short-career guys, and many spent most of their careers considered disappointments.

  24. I would trade Marte for Adam Dunn in a second. As good as Marte looks lets again face it. Those good OBPs and Slugging % are against AA competition. Do George Lombard and Wilson Betemit ring a bell? It would be interesting to see how many batting avg minor league stars as opposed to OBP/Sluggers actually go on to have great careers. Dunn was a highly touted QB at one point in time so he has athleticism, but the real deal is that he is a proven major league impact hitter.

  25. Kyle (or anyone else for that matter)

    Not trying to be ornery or anything, but in the interests of trying to get to the truth of the matter and having a fun discussion:

    The statement that “low average hitters in the minors don’t tend to become high average hitters in the big leagues” is certainly apparently intuitive, but I can’t seem to find any info that correlates the minor league and major league average. Tango’s site really only discusses mle’s and that only to discourage their use as a predictive tool.

    “High strikeout guys almost never hit for great averages because of the randomness of balls in play that turn into hits;”

    Don’t really get this, I confess. High OBP guys don’t make outs, which we are all agreed is a good thing. I am not convinced of a necessary relationship between high BA and high OBP, in fact a lot of guys (Thome, Sosa, Dunn for example) get big k totals but get on base at a very high rate, i.e. don’t make an out. Even if I accept this statement at face value, my reaction is “so?”

    “high SO players put fewer balls into play and thus have less hits” Yes, but if they in turn make fewer outs, AND hit with power, AND take lots of walks, which Marte seems to do, why is this necessarily a negative? Dunn never had much of a walk rate in the minors except a year in A ball when he was just so overpowering managers had no choice. Marte displays much greater patience, and plays a position that is a lot more valuable to get offensive output.

    Having said all this, I’d probably do a Dunn for Marte straight swap right now as well, if salary were no object. I guess my point is that I still don’t see the K’s as a problem for either one of them. Marte’s got “old player” skills, but the fact is he’s NOT old, and those skills are very likely to get much better as he gets toward his peak years, not worse. As you suggested, I checked Tango’s articles about aging and found this nugget – “Anyway, hitters always improve their walk ratio, they strikeout the least at age 29, get their best HR ratio at age 27, their balls in play success goes down almost instantly, their line drive power stays pretty flat for a long period of time, their speed as measured by triples goes down instantly, their speed as measured by SB peaks at 24 and goes down almost at the same rate as the triples. The overall peak age is 26.5.”

    And salary IS a concern. Dunn is going to get very expensive very soon. I’ll take the guy at a premium defensive position on the cheap thanks. Love to hear your thoughts.

  26. Johnny, you have to remember that there’s a huge difference in salary and in future control between the two players. As for the AA thing, Betemit never did hit in AA, and was always graded high because of his youth, athletic ability, and potential. Lombard did have one good year in AA, but never did anything much on any other level.

    Minor league performance is an excellent predictor of Major League performance — nearly as good as past Major League performance. Someone who has hit as well, on every level, as Marte is almost certainly going to hit as well — or better, as he matures — on the Major League level. It’s possible that there’s a flaw in his game that Major League pitchers will learn to exploit, but that is really a rare occurence with a player who’s been this good.

  27. I guess this is my core concern: many projection systems that take into account minor league performance – Dan Szymborksi’s ZiPS for one – heavily punish high minor league strikeout rates. These systems claim that players who strike out a lot in the minors will fail to do anything in the majors. Mike Hessman is the prototypical example, but he’s certainly not everyone. I agree that high average IN THE MAJORS is not important given power and lots of plate discipline; however, I posit that most players who exhibit those traits in the majors hit for high batting averages and low strikeout rates in the minors.

    The core argument, without support because I still haven’t looked for it, is: hitters with low K rates and high batting averages in the minors project much better than hitters with high K rates and/or low batting averages, assuming equivalent isolated power and similar (but perhaps inferior) isolated discipline. Baseball’s future stars are so good that they hit .300+ with tons of power in the minors. As of now, Marte projects as a good player and possible all star, but not as a superstar. And I want the 3rd baseman of the 21st century to be Andy Marte, not David Wright, but as of now I don’t see it. Until he has a season like Dunn’s or Wright’s age 21 season (hell, hopefully it’s this year) he can’t project to be as good of a hitter.

    Take a look back at the minor league stats of the high walks, high SLG guys currently in the majors. Thome, Brian Giles, Dunn, Todd Helton, Hank Blalock, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols – all these guys had multiple seasons at .300 – .350 in the minors with great (~1 or better) BB/K ratios. Given, they’re the best players in the league, but that’s what I want Marte to be :)

  28. Mac, you are correct about Dunn. He is going to make a butt load of money soon. I think that this is his arbitration year. You are also right about Marte vs. Lombard and Betemit. Marte is a much better player than both of them.
    I’m not sure if Andy is going to be a star much less a super star. And heck he may not even be a major league replacement level player. Mac’s analysis says that the closest comparable to him is Matt Williams, who was a good but not great player. Mac I don’t doubt you but Williams career OBP was only .317.
    I started this by throwing out Marte and a pitcher for Dunn. But even the Reds aren’t stupid enough to trade Dunn……right?

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