Mac goes nuts

Leading from comments on the last post… In all of the trades which John Schuerholz has made, probably the one that seems most clearly indefensible was on March 27, 1997:

Traded Jermaine Dye and Jamie Walker to the Kansas City Royals. Received Keith Lockhart and Michael Tucker.

I am here to defend this trade. Not because it worked out, or because at the time they shouldn’t have known that there was a good chance that Dye would become a star… but because Dye probably wouldn’t have become a star if he had remained with the Braves.

The Braves at the time were having a lot of problems developing hitters, largely because their instructors had their heads up their collective asses. I’ve spoken about their poor drafting in this period before, but other than Andruw — who never listens to anyone, and therefore ignored the coaches who kept telling everyone to be more “aggressive” (that is, stupidly swing at everything) — the team wasn’t going to develop good hitters no matter who they drafted. The Braves thought guys like Wes Helms and Travis Wilson were going to be stars.

Jermaine Dye, in the Braves’ minors, was a high-average guy who hit a few homers with a lot of doubles, the sort of guy who was projectable as a good player, if not a star. He also had a low walk rate — not Francoeuresque, but low enough that he would struggle to put up a .340 OBP, and that pitchers wouldn’t throw him strikes if he didn’t learn to recognize them.

Today, the Braves seem to have learned that this is a problem. Back then, they did not. There are still a few rogue minor league instructors who are teaching “aggressiveness”, but at that time that was all there was. The Royals were not and are not a good organization, but they did manage to knock some of the “aggressiveness” out of him.

I should point out that Michael Tucker was a better hitter than Dye during the two seasons Tucker was a Brave. He wasn’t very good — average at best, below-average for a corner outfielder — but Dye was pretty terrible. I doubt he would have played any better in Atlanta, and unlike the Royals the Braves couldn’t afford to be patient. If he had stayed, I have no doubt that by 1998 I would have been calling for his head.

Actually, Lockhart was better for the Braves in those two seasons as well. It’s minor blasphemy now to say it, but Lockhart was a good bench player for the Braves in 1997, hitting .279/.337/.476 in 169 PA, and not too bad for a second baseman in 1998, .257/.311/.388 — an 83 OPS+ that was a lot better than Dye’s 56.

After that, the deal looks worse and worse — though Tucker was a principle in what I will continue to call the Remlinger trade — but in 1998, two years after the deal, it was not clear that it was a bad trade. I remember at the time saying that “People criticized the trade at the time, but it’s certainly worked out.”

176 thoughts on “Mac goes nuts”

  1. I think this goes more generally into one of the more obscure aspects of the trading process, one I’m likely never to understand, and that is the concept of a player needing to change organizations to achieve success. We’ve seen plenty of can’t-miss prospects resolutely fail to live up to their potential with the Braves, thereby more or less necessitating a trade. Some of them eventually worked out (Dye, Schmidt, Jason Marquis to some extent, Odalis Perez for about 15 minutes), and some never did (Bruce Chen; jury’s still out on Marte and Kyle Davies).

    How do you deal with a player who ought to be good but isn’t, probably because of organizational failure? How do you evaluate the value you received for him?

  2. Yeah, but Dye was coming off of a late season/post season where he showed a lot of promise. I remember just scratching my head. Michael Tucker????? you’re right though. the 20/20 hind site thing does truly taint the deal.

  3. Excellent analysis there, Mac. I didn’t understand the trade either, but I was 13, and even at that point, all I wanted was for the Braves to keep a few guys around.

    I vaguely recall that Michael Tucker was said to have a lot of promise. Vaguely.

  4. I’ll throw this in… if the Braves hadn’t traded Dye for Tucker, Andruw would have played somewhat more in 1997, and he wasn’t really ready yet, while the bulk of of Tucker’s PAs (assuming Dye was sent down for ineffectiveness, as he was in KC) would have gone to Danny Bautista, who hit .243/.282/.398. Of course, the Braves won by nine games, so it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

    Bautista, by the way, could also be included among those minor deals where the Braves traded for a player, didn’t get anything from him, then saw him be good for a few years.

  5. The Dye trade is defensible. The time it took guys like Schmidt and Dye to become excellent players means that we would have had to wait for these guys develop on our major league team. That’s just too much time to wait for a player while you’re trying to succeed short-term.

  6. Interesting analysis: I with Johnny on this one. I thought that for a 22 year old Dye showed great promise in 1996. I was mystifed by the trade. You can also make the point that going to KC actually slowed Dye’s development; if he remained in Atlanta in 1997 his numbers might have improved….

    Rob makes a good point and it explains why JS has had over the years to pull the trigger on so many Braves’ prospects. It reminds me that it takes some real mangerial (as well as GM) skill to bring young players along once they reach the majors.

    If the day comes, I hope that the Braves will be able to develop Jordan Schafer better than they did Scot Thorman….

  7. The response to the trade on the net at the time was pretty positive. That was not just from Brave fans but from other fans as well. Granted, this was certainly a more saber-oriented bunch than has infiltrated the net these days…but I digress.

    There was a precursor to the Zone Rating stat (DER?) that showed Lockhart as an excellent defensive 2nd baseman. He looked like a nice player, one who unfortunately didn’t get his shot in the majors until after he had peaked (there’s a joke in there somewhere). I think the view of Lockhart has been tainted because of his overuse later in his career, but he was certainly a solid bench player and a good pickup.

    Tucker had a really nice swing and a fair amount of potential. Dye certainly had more upside, though – potential All-Star ability. But he was very toolsy and those players often flop – especially when they lack plate discipline. It was a risk that Dye would develop (Bobby Cox hated trading him), but it was far from a certainty.

    And over their respective careers, Tucker has put up a 95 OPS+, while Dye has posted a 110 OPS+. A substantial difference, to be sure, but note that Dye has been paid 50 million dollars more than Tucker for those 15 OPS+ points. Dye had some great seasons, but his career has been a roller coaster (to be fair, part of that is due to injury). Tucker, otoh, has been consistently mediocre.

    I more or less agree that the trade was not as lame-brained as people make it out to be. The Braves went for more of a ‘sure thing’ while taking a chance that Dye would not develop into a star. Perhaps they felt it was not time to mess around with an up-and-down developing player with a World Series title on the line. Tucker was simply more major-league ready at the time.

  8. Trading potential for performance has been the hallmark of the Schuerholz era. As much as you want to give the guy props for his successes and excortiate him for his failures lets face it a lot of it has to do with plain old luck.

  9. I accidentally voted for the Phillies. I have no idea how; I meant the Mets. Oh well.

    Gotta love these offseason topics…

  10. Yeah that trade was not terrible when viewed in the context of when it happened. Try explaining the Grissom/Justice for Lofton one, Mac.

  11. Jermaine Dye went to my high school and apparently got kicked off the baseball team for at least a semester after stealing something. But hey, look at him now.

  12. I did in the last thread, Ron. That was a financially-motivated trade: the Braves needed to unload Grissom’s and Justice’s contracts in order to sign Maddux and Glavine to extensions. I don’t know that they were planning to let Lofton walk after the season.

  13. It’s not like Jermaine Dye is a great player. He has had some good and very good years but he has also had some real bad years. And I never understood the hatred of Lockhart who was actually pretty useful. And the fact is, you can’t judge a GM by a trade or two because you can always build up or tear down a GM by selectively looking at trades. To me, if you have to wait several years for a player to be productive (Schmidt, Dye)and you are a contending team, you are better off trading them for players that can help you immediately. And would the Braves have really been better off with Dye than with Sheffield and Drew?

    I still say the Justice trade was not as bad as it looks now. In 1995, Justice hit .253 with an .844 OPS in 120 games, in 1996 he only played in 40 games. The guy was a good, but not great player, who was injury prone and about to become a free agent. He had better years when he became a DH. And Lofton, although he was apparently a pain in the ass, did hit .330 in Atlanta. Certainly, on balance, it was not a good trade but it’s not as horrible as people make it out to be.

  14. Lofton in 1997 .333 .409 .428
    Justice .329 .418 .596
    Grissom .262 .317 .396
    Lofton had no power at all only 31 xbh. A boombox and a really crappy post season doomed him as a Brave. His rep was so stained that he had to go crawling back to Cleveland and take a below market deal. Or was it collusion?

    But as Mac says you are really choosing between Maddux and Glavine and Justice and Grissom not Lofton. I remember reading that most thought this was one of those win win trades as the Indians didn’t want to pay Lofton for his impending free agent payday and the Braves chose (wisely) to pay the pitchers.

  15. I blame Terrance Moore for the idea that both the Jermaine Dye and David Justice deals were so terrible. It was not until 3 years after the Braves traded Dye that he started to live up to his promise. Justice was never the same player after he left the Braves. While I have a strong disdain for Lofton he was one of the best leadoff hitter in the game when we got him. It of course became apparent that Lofton was also a cancer.

  16. I never would have thought that Tucker actually had a career 95 OPS+, but there you go. Along with Jacque Jones, he’s basically the utter definition of league-average.

    Maybe we can name a baseball stat after him — if the Mendoza line is a .200 average, the Tucker line could be a 100 OPS+ from a corner outfield position?

  17. Actually, Justice became a better player after he left the Braves and became a DH. His last years with the Braves were marred by injuries. But, as Kenny says, at the time, Lofton was a big-time player. It wasn’t so obvious that it was a bad trade.

  18. Interesting Braves tie to this year’s World Series. John Schuerholz was the director of scouting and player development with the Royals when Clint Hurdle was brought up.

    Unfortunately, Charlie Lau and Whitey Herzog couldn’t agree what kind of hitter he would be, and so he was a bust.

    Sports Illustrated has a great article on him, along with the reprint from 1978 when he was on the cover with the tag “This Year’s Phenom.”

    Hoping the Rockies will win, but always love to see the great stories about how people reach these heights after years of struggles.

  19. And, again, it wasn’t even a bad trade. We were able to re-sign Maddux and Glavine as a result.

    Right. Because we shouldn’t have been able to get anything of value for those players. Just a one year rental and a LOOGY. It’s not like they were good players or anything. Ridiculous.

    The ‘Dye trade wasn’t that bad because we would have screwed him up anyway’ defense. Haven’t heard that one in a while.

  20. As Mac has already alluded to, it’s doubtful that the Braves didn’t plan on keeping Lofton around. They didn’t know he would be a clubhouse cancer.

    It’s also quite interesting, Robert, that you consider 46 innings of 164 ERA+ and over 500 PAs of 119 OPS+ valueless.

  21. They were fine for the ’98 Braves. You are probably aware that baseball did continue after 1998 though. Being one corner outfielder short lasted until 2002. Not that I didn’t enjoy the Reggie Sanders, Ice Williams, or BJ Surhoff experiments.

  22. If only we’d had a better corner outfielder and one fewer Cy Young winner, we’d have really had something there. Such wisdom. I concede.

  23. If only we’d had a better corner outfielder and one fewer Cy Young winner, we’d have really had something there.

    Hey, look at that! Something I never argued presented like I did! Tremendous!

    We had no problem throwing $20 million at Brian Jordan to “fix” the problem.

  24. Who would have been our corner outfielder, Robert? Injury-prone as an outfielder/DH so he could stay healthy David Justice? He DHed a third of the time in the years after he left. I doubt he would have stayed healthy with a full load in the outfield. The 104-120-40 games played steak he pulled off from 94-96 kinda proves that. Plus, his salary would have prevented us from keeping Maddux or Glavine. Don’t get me wrong, I liked David Justice, but attacking this trade as a sure-fire loss is a huge stretch, and especially using this trade to evaluate JS’ ability to trade is an even bigger stretch, if that’s even possible.

  25. Who would have been our corner outfielder, Robert?

    You would think that if you were moving talent on the order of Justice, Grissom, and a good prospect like Dye you could come up with a better answer than Michael Tucker. That’s all I’m saying. You should be able to find a corner outfielder who can crack a 100 OPS+ if you have those kinds of trading chips. You really should.

    Just because you can’t afford a player or two doesn’t mean you can’t get some talent for them. In two seasons all we had left from Justice and Grissom was Russ Springer.

  26. @27 I’ve always wondered why Reggie Sanders just totally sucked for us. I mean he aint no super star but at other places he was a pretty decent hitting outfielder.

  27. I’m sorry if I’m bothering you with my comments about the ’97-’98 Braves in a post about the ’97-’98 Braves.

  28. Though his ability to play right field was questionable, the Braves probably thought Tucker would work in that job, for a lot less money than Justice would. He didn’t develop, but at the time he was a 26-year-old outfielder who had held his own in the major leagues and who had been the tenth pick in the draft. I really think that knowing only what we knew then that the chances of Tucker being a useful major leaguer were actually higher than for Dye, though he didn’t have any star potential.

  29. mark this guy off your list….

    “However, Silva wants a four-year contract. Rightfully so. Last year Kei Igawa, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ted Lilly, Gil Meche, and Jeff Suppan received four years or more. We can toss out the unique situations of Igawa and Dice-K, leaving Lilly, Meche, and Suppan as Silva’s comparables. Silva is younger than any of them and his fine 2007 sets the bar at four years, $40MM. Stretching that to $42-44MM would not be ridiculous. Silva shouldn’t be compared to the three-year group given his age, effectiveness, and health.”

  30. Well we got him after his age 25 season which gives you a top 3 of Todd Benzinger, Danny Gardella, and Jeffrey Hammonds. But if you look a little farther down the list…Paul O’Neill!…Joe Carter!. I’m sold.

    Seriously, I think we can all follow the reasoning of what JS was trying to do with the Justice-Grissom-Dye gambit. And even though it was defensible and all that, honestly, it really didn’t work out.

  31. He didn’t really have enough PAs for a good set of comps at Age 25, which is why I didn’t use it… Not on the list, but another good comp would be Rickie Weeks. Don’t forget Tucker was a small college second baseman, like Weeks. Weeks hasn’t really done anything yet (other than put up a ridiculous walk rate this year) but I don’t think that the Brewers are going to give up on him.

  32. “Mac & Me” (and Coca-Cola)

    I thought I’d see if I could sneak this one past the Chief Censor. It seems an appropriate place to post it, but if I were Mac I’d disavow any knowledge of this flick and perhaps buy the original copies and burn them from existence.

    http://slatev.com/player.html?id=1264609619

    Thankfully, I never saw this movie. Point, me.

    … And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

  33. Maybe some of the guys who got better after they left the Braves found a magic elixir elsewhere (and got it injected in their rears). I can only think of one player (now almost gone) who got really bulked up while on the Braves over the past 15 years. I wonder if the Braves were relatively intolerant of roids in the clubhouse. Those guys in the Bronx grew some pretty thick necks in the late 90s.

  34. Don’t remember “Mac & Me,” and there’s a very good reason for that. It’s no “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” but it’s in the vicinity.

  35. Do not forget that Dye may well have cost us Game 5 of the 96 Series. The error was charged to Grissom, but Dye cut in front of him on the dropped fly ball that led to the game’s only run. I never cared for him after that, although he has had a nice career.

  36. Okay, here goes.

    Trades must be evaluated in light of _what was known at the time of the trade_, not via hindsight. In that case:

    Dye+Walker/Tucker+Lockhart was a win. Atlanta filled a hole at 2B by trading a fungilble reliever and Jermaine Dye for….a left-handed version of Jermaine Dye. That’s what Micheal Tucker was. A year older, similar profile, swings from the left. The trade was also made to “balance” the Braves lineup which was getting RH heavy with the additions of Andruw and Dye.

    The Justice/Lofton deal has been pretty well covered above. It was a salary dump to free up cash to extend Maddux and Glavine. The real question at the time was if they would move Justice or McGriff. The mistake there was not shipping an aging Crime Dog to Tampa. I agree with the sentiment that Justice benefitted from resting at DH but there was a good argument to be made for him moving to 1B to replace McGriff if he were traded. Less stress on the body and Justice had played the position before in 1990 – before they moved Murph to clear a position for him in the OF.

    By the same criteria — what we knew at the time — trading Denny Neagle and Rob Bell for Brett Boone and a failed started turned long reliever was insane. Boone performed as poorly as expected. No one could have really predicted that Remlinger would become a force in the pen like he did.

  37. Right, and the Braves did unload McGriff on the Rays (for cash) as soon as they could.

    Bret Boone, meanwhile, had been an All-Star in 1998 (putting up nearly identical numbers to what turned out to be his career averages, BTW). He didn’t actually play that poorly in 1999, he just wasn’t worth giving up three players for.

  38. Dye+Walker/Tucker+Lockhart was a win. Atlanta filled a hole at 2B by trading a fungilble reliever and Jermaine Dye for….a left-handed version of Jermaine Dye. That’s what Micheal Tucker was. A year older, similar profile, swings from the left.

    First of all a 31 year old player coming off a 84 OPS+ season (which was his only regular gig ever in the show) doesn’t fill any hole except utility infielder. And he couldn’t even do that since he couldn’t play short.

    The Dye-Tucker comparison is way off as well. Dye is 2.5 years younger. Jermaine hit 12 HR and slugged over .450 as a 22 year old. The next time Tucker slugs over .450 will be his first. Their similarity ends at them both being black outfielders.

  39. Sean has updated the similarity scores list, and wowee wow wow on Francoeur:

    1. Greg Luzinski (976)
    2. Jeff Burroughs (971)
    3. Jack Clark (967)
    4. Ellis Valentine (962)
    5. Del Ennis (962)
    6. Ben Grieve (952)
    7. Harold Baines (950)
    8. Bruce Campbell (949)
    9. Gus Bell (945)
    10. Johnny Callison (944)

    Luzinski, Burroughs, and Clark? Not the most durable group, and offensive levels are higher now, but I’d take it. McCann’s top three are two Yankee Hall of Famers (Lazzeri and Berra) oddly flanking Robinson Cano.

  40. KJ, being a weird player, has a weird group:

    1. Joe Crede (965)
    2. Wilson Betemit (964)
    3. Whitey Kurowski (958)
    4. Randy Jackson (954)
    5. Jeff Kent (953)
    6. Ty Wigginton (953)
    7. Hank Thompson (953)
    8. Max Alvis (953)
    9. Jack Lohrke (952)
    10. Darrell Evans (950)

  41. Chipper’s got 4 HOFer’s, two should-be’s in Bagwell and Frank Thomas, and some on the cusp guys – Sheffield, Palmiero, Bernie Williams, McGriff.

  42. This is Thursday morning, but, honest, I checked the list yesterday:
    Check out most similar for Tex: Hrbek, Will Clark, Delgado, McCovey, Thome…

    I’d enjoy seeing a contract extension offered. I think this is the player we’ve got to keep.

  43. I would love to see Tex re-signed too, but I can’t imagine how the Braves will outbid teams like the Yankees for him next offseason.

  44. But how DO you adjust for the change in offensive numbers. Obviously, a 900 OPS today is different than a 900 OPS in 1980. I’m not necessarily criticizing but it’s hard to see Francouer being another Jack Clark. And, the same for Andruw. Yes, his comps are HOFers but I assume they all played in different eras. Is Andruw really in that category?

  45. With 2 highly touted 1B prospects in the low minors, I won’t be surprised if the Braves hold off on the Tex extension.

    And frankly, with the money coming off the books in 2008, they have the ammunition to go after Santana

  46. That’s a good point Godot. If the Braves don’t win this year, they might decide to retool anyway since Smoltz is getting older. There is no way that Teixera would accept arbitration so the Braves would get the two draft picks.

    Of course, that then raises the issue of whether it was wise to trade Salty in the first place.

  47. Salty has half his value for the Braves as 1Bman. maximising his value by trading him was the smart thing. It allows us now not to panic over replacing Andruw, because we got a middle of the order bat to replace his production.

    I think 2008 is going to be one last shot at the world series, and retool in 2009. Though as i said, with the $s coming off the book, and a parity drievn NL, signing Santana with a good offensive core still in place might work.

  48. And Ububba, I think I would be more worried about the push the Angels et al make for Santana. I think he would need a “blow me away” contract to go play in NY, though with new parks opening, he might get it.

  49. Very questionable when it was first made. Ledezma was a complete flop. The only positive out of it was that he was traded for Royce Ring, who seems to be much better than him, even with just five innings of pitching for the Braves.

  50. I think Ring is better than either of those two. In the long run the trade will help us, but the initial trade was crap in my opinion. McBride is younger and we owned him for several more years.

  51. if Eckstein leaves Stl, you think LaRussa would try to get Renteria again? If so, what could we expect to get back. Dont say Maroth in any trade ideas, not that you would want too anyways, he’s been released

  52. I think it’s a huge stretch to say that we got Ring for Ledezma. Startup had very similar or even better minor league numbers than Ring, but wasn’t quite as good at getting lefties out – if I recall correctly. I think Ledezma was more of a throw in and he could have been substituted for another arm. I’m just happy we got rid of him.

  53. Fredo! I believe it was rumored the Braves were looking to unload McBride for anything due to attitude problems. Fredo was that anything. I like Ring though.

  54. Whoops. I forgot about Startup. Oh well. I’m not losing any sleep over it. Relievers are always easily replaceable. Whatever happened to the clamoring for Phil Stockman around here? ;P

  55. Yes, AAR, distance yourself from Stu’s comments. Frequently wise around here. :)

    (I think most realize that posts with identical times were basically made simultaneously.)

  56. Lockhart filled a need. You may not like that he did, but his first two years in Atlanta he did. He was a useful starter for two years who then was overused when better players (starting with Graffanino) could have replaced him.

    Jermaine Dye was no better a prospect than Michael Tucker. They were functionally equivalent and Tucker was LH. That’s all you need to know to understand why that deal was made.

    Trading Jermaine Dye was not a mistake.

  57. McBride was gone the night in San Diego when he came in with an 11-0 lead and couldn’t finish. Bobby was rightfully disgusted and McBride’s days were numbered.

  58. It may be rightful but I don’t think it’s consistent. Jeff Francoeur can swing at 20 consecutive first pitches and make 20 consecutive outs, and he’ll still find himself in the lineup 162 games a year.

    It seems to me that Bobby is much more patient with young hitters than he is with young pitchers.

  59. Jermaine Dye was no better a prospect than Michael Tucker. They were functionally equivalent and Tucker was LH. That’s all you need to know to understand why that deal was made.

    Just writing this again still doesn’t make it true. Dye had much more success and showed more power at a much younger age than Tucker. By definition that makes him a better prospect.

    At least you didn’t try to tell me they are only one year apart again.

  60. Kyle Davies’ new comps:

    1. Ruben Quevedo (976)
    2. Otis Stocksdale (973)
    3. Jack Kramer (959)
    4. Edwin Jackson (951)
    5. Ken Cloude (949)
    6. Bob Wolcott (947)
    7. Johnny Babich (946)
    8. Jamey Wright (946)
    9. Chris George (946)
    10. Frank Rodriguez (945)

  61. Baseball-Reference uses the old Bill James similarity scores.

    Chuck:

    1. Gustavo Chacin (991)
    2. Bill Dammann (985)
    3. Donovan Osborne (977)
    4. Kirk Rueter (975)
    5. Greg Mathews (975)
    6. Tommy Greene (974)
    7. Rick Waits (973)
    8. Brett Tomko (972)
    9. Russ Ortiz (972)
    10. Ken Heintzelman (971)

    Never good when Ortiz is one of the best cases.

    Diaz is problematical because he’s only had 837 career PA at 29.

    1. Robb Quinlan (955)
    2. Smead Jolley (950)
    3. Mike Easler (941)
    4. Hack Miller (941)
    5. Moose Solters (940)
    6. Ike Boone (933)
    7. Ernie Orsatti (928)
    8. Lyle Mouton (927)
    9. George Stone (926)
    10. Benny Agbayani (926)

  62. Buster Olney said on a Boston radio show today that the Red Sox would call the Braves and offer Coco Crisp for Kelly Johnson sometime this offseason.

    That, in my opinion, would be a bad trade for the Braves.

  63. Interesting deal. The problem is, of course, that we have too many second basemen. (If Crisp could hit even so much as a lick, I’d say we should take that trade, because we need a centerfielder, after all.) What will we do with Kelly this offseason, anyway?

  64. Not unless they threw in a big prospect or a whole lot of money.

    As for sim scores, I don’t know how much of a predictor they are; they certainly weren’t designed for it. Since they’re cumulative, they aren’t designed to handle something like two players who put up these patterns:

    180 H 25 HR
    190 H 20 HR
    185 H 25 HR

    220 H 33 HR
    215 H 30 HR
    120 H 7 HR

    Both of these come out even (555 hits, 70 homers) but they’re obviously not the same. Also, the balances are arbitrary; for example, James gives short shrift to walks and doesn’t include OBP. Since (from what I know) he designed this as a way to look at Hall of Fame candidacies, this makes a fair amount of sense, since the Hall has never looked much at walks, but that’s one reason Francoeur’s comps are surprisingly good. It’s also not well-designed for relievers.

    BP’s PECOTA system is supposed to be based on patterns, finding out what players with similar stats have done in succeeding years. I’m not so sure how it works, or how well.

  65. Oh, and since we’re at it, CocoComps through age 27:

    1. Cleon Jones (971)
    2. Marquis Grissom (969)
    3. Lenny Dykstra (961)
    4. Roberto Kelly (960)
    5. Roy Weatherly (957)
    6. Terry Moore (953)
    7. Jimmy Welsh (952)
    8. Al Cowens (952)
    9. Harry Lumley (951)
    10. Beals Becker (950)

    Crisp looked like a really good player in Cleveland, a .290-.300 hitter with some walks and a few homers (15 in 2004, 16 in 2005). Except as a basestealer, he’s fallen across the board in Boston, and I don’t know why. He also made $3.83 million this year and will surely make more in 2008.

    KJ is obviously the type of player the Red Sox like, but I would want more — or rather, different — than Crisp. I don’t think we can count on lightning striking twice ala Renteria.

  66. Eriq Gardner has an article in Slate that makes an argument for how the Rockies’ defense will shape the game of baseball.

    Defnese Rocks!

  67. Is it out there to call Coco Crisp a rich man’s Willie Harris at the plate?

    And, AAR, I said that relievers are “easily replaceable”. I didn’t say they’d be any good, although I did invoke the name of Stockman, whom it seems most people on this blog want to pitch with the big club.

    I happen to think that the Braves have a very good relief corps right now. The problem is the back end of the starting rotation.

  68. The game last night had me watching an episode of Ken Burns’ doc “The War” by the 5th inning. The Siege of Saipan was way more interesting (and I already knew the ending).

    Is this the suckiest post-season ever or what?

  69. ububba,

    I agree, these playoffs have been awful! But, maybe that’s what MLB gets for having Chip Carey do them. It’s karma.

  70. I wouldnt say that Crisp is a whole lot better than Harris at this point, there isnt enough of a difference to trade KJ to find out

  71. Jermaine Dye was #30 on Baseball America’s Top 100 in 1996, Tucker was #32 in 1995 and #25 in 1994. I’d say they were at least comparable prospects.

  72. Hell no!

    I like Crisp to do better offensively outside Boston and love his defense, but you don’t trade Chase Utley-lite for him. No way, now how.

    Keep KJ and let him play.

  73. Offseason in order…

    Give Tex an extension

    Sign Glavine

    Trade Reneria for a starter

    trade Thorman/Reliever for DeJesus and hope for the best. Why KC would want Thor is beyond me, but its been mentioned

  74. That’s funny that Lyle Mouton is on Matt Diaz’s comps. My ex-girlfriend texted me and asked me if I knew who Lyle Mouton was. She just got a new job and she works with him. So I looked him up on B-Ref and I thought to myself, “Wow, he was used similarly to how Matt Diaz was in Kansas City.” Apparently he told her he played for the Yankees, but he never appeared in a major league game for them, so, that’s weird.

  75. Why do I cringe everytime I see “Give Tex an extension”? I think it’s an impossible task with Boras as his agent. What am I missing here?

  76. Easler is probably the most interesting player on the comp list, though he’s not really comparable. His appearances “through” age 29 are mostly in his age 29 year. He came up for the first time at 22 but from then through 28 he had only 153 AB in 112 games. Then at 29 he hit .338 .396 .583 in 132 games — an overnight success at 29.

    He was never quite that good again, but he had some good seasons, and a big year for the Red Sox in 1984 (fifth in the league in runs created). He might have lost 800 hits and 150 homers in the minors and on the bench; he hit .302 and slugged .493 in his minor league career.

    Easler was a lefthanded hitter; I think most of the group are righties, who tend to fall into platoon roles if they aren’t stars.

  77. Well, I don’t want to hope if I have no reason to believe that Teixeira will sign an extension if a) I have no concrete evidence that he isn’t a slave to Boras, and b) that he actually wants to STAY in Atlanta.

  78. The only reason to assume Tex is out the door is if you already pencil him into the Yankees’ lineup. Sure, they’ll probably throw mad money at him if he goes FA next winter but there is certainly enough precedent to suggest that Atlanta might have a shot at keeping him off the market. Namely Maddux, who turned down Yankee cash, Glavine/Smoltz/Chipper who all at some point took the extension with the Braves over free agency, and Andruw who more or less cut Boras out of the process altogether last time around. Both Andruw and Maddux were Boras clients at the time.

  79. As a kid, I saw Mike Easler play for the Columbus Astros, Houston’s old Double-A team.

    I recall him hitting bombs into the parking lot that connected Golden Park with the Columbus Municipal Auditorium. He could mash.

  80. I’m not seeing why the Red Sox would want KJ when they already have Pedroia unless the idea is to move Kelly back to the outfield to replace Drew (but then who would they get to take Drew’s contract off their hands?). I don’t think Crisp is worth KJ anyway. How about Prado for Crisp instead?

  81. Since when were we getting rid of KJ? Renteria is the bigger contract, I thought that was assumed.

  82. If I had to guess, they’d want him at third base, but the basic idea that this is a young and still cheap player who can play several positions and has all the sabermetric virtues. They’d find a spot for him somehow.

  83. Unless we’re blown away with trade for a starting pitcher we can’t live without, I’d love to keep KJ.

    I think Lowell is a FA after this year. I know that if the Yanks fail to re-sign A-Rod, Lowell is name that’s been kicked around as a replacement.

  84. Chris Resop in, Paronto out.

    ATLANTA – The Atlanta Braves made a pair of roster moves today, as they claimed right-handed relief pitcher Chris Resop off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and designated right-handed pitcher Chad Paronto for assignment.

    Resop, who turns 25 on November 4, has appeared 41 career games for the Florida Marlins (2005-06) and the Angels (2007). His career record is 3-2 with a 4.15 ERA. Resop began his professional career as an outfielder in the Marlins system in 2001.

    The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder appeared in 27 games at Triple-A Salt Lake in 2007, going 1-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 45.1 innings pitched. He worked four games for the Angels this past season before he underwent debridement on his right elbow on August 24 (performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum). Resop has since completed a rehabilitation program.

    Paronto, 32, pitched in 41 games for the Braves in 2007 and went 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA.

  85. I agree ububba. I’d trade Kelly Johnson for, maybe Ian Snell? Do the Pirates have a second baseman? I think they moved Freddy Sanchez from third to second.

  86. Wasn’t he going to be eligible for arbitration? I think that explains it. We don’t need our 5th-best reliever making more than the league minimum, IMO.

  87. I doubt they’d move Ian Snell for just KJ. Snell’s a legitimate #2 starter. Zach Duke might be cheaper, though, as his value has plummeted since they tried to “fix” his mechanics.

  88. And the rumor appears dead now.

    By David O’Brien
    October 25, 2007 6:31 PM

    Wouldn’t get too worried/excited/hopeful about Crisp for Kelly J. Just talked to someone with Braves who scoffed at the notion, and I don’t think he was blowing smoke.

    He made it sound like Braves don’t see Crisp as their answer in center.

    The World Series hasn’t even ended and you got rumors like this flying around. It’s going to be a long offseason.

  89. Resop…Poser, I like that one.

    I had a friend who liked to go into the snack-mix section of convenience stores & find the boxes of “doodads.” He’d flip them all upside down, so they read: spapoop.

    He’s better now.

  90. #133 – thanks, Im glad our front office guys arent as stupid as the media. Just one of those deals that they think the Mets, Yanks, and Red Sox can trade whoever they want for whoever they want. No questions asked.

    Anyone hope Schilling gets shelled tonight?

  91. Completely different note:

    Game 2 is making me think of all those series where the Braves scored 14 runs in the first game, then scored about two runs total in the next two games and lost the series. Not saying that’s going to happen to the Sox, it’s just making me think in that direction so far.

    Which made me think about the Braves’ Pythagorean record, which was +5 vs. the actual record, meaning by that metric we were the 2nd-unluckiest team in the NL.

    This made me think about Pythagorean stats in general: would it be useful to adjust for “outlier games” where one team piles on another’s demoralized bullpen? Runs at the end of those games don’t really seem predictive of how good an offense is; likewise, if you’re rolling a mop-up guy out there and letting him get shelled to save the rest of the bullpen, that would cause you to give up runs that aren’t really indicative of anything larger.

    Has anyone done any work adjusting the stat for that sort of thing? I didn’t get the sense watching this year’s Braves team that it was especially unlucky; I got the sense that it had 2.5 starting pitchers and played thusly. Perhaps an adjustment for all our random 14-run outbursts (like capping the run differential for any given game at 8) would work?

  92. Oh, and that random smiley in there was supposed to be “eight, closed parenthesis.” Which in its symbolic form apparently forms a smiley with sunglasses.

  93. I emailed DOB, and he thinks that maybe Paronto — “a real nice guy” — was influenced by Wickman a little too much. Which (come to think of it) might have had something to do with why Paronto didn’t get called back up.

  94. What exactly did Wickman do to get released? I remember him only wanting to close, but how would that have influenced Paronto? Paronto was never a closer…

    That would explain the not being called back up this year. He had been doing pretty well before being sent down, and I was wondering why he never reappeared.

  95. Two questions concerning Tex:

    Does the GM situation (JS out, Wren in) affect the Braves’ policy of not offering no trade clauses? And is this a plus to have Wren dealing with Boras instead of JS?

    Stu, if it’s your birthday, have a good one. Rock on.

  96. Mike Maroth was released by the twins. i wonder if, with a possible leo sighting back in atlanta, maroth could be leo’s next resurrection? the guy’s got great stuff…

  97. ok…just read at mlbtraderumors.com…what would it take for us to get bonderman from det?

    im thinking:

    renteria, reyes, van pope???

    now, before you go “bonderman’s amazing” etc…remember that the tigers have miller and porcello waiting in the wings (the best two arms of the last two drafts, imho) and are dealing from a strength…

    add that to maroth (possibly) and maybe prior (hmmmmm) and we look decent, on paper.

  98. Why pick up Prior? Dont we have an overpaid injured pitcher on our roster now? (Hampton) Please, no reclamtion projects, or oft injured guys with ooodles of potentinal. Lets get a real, solid, established pitcher….

  99. From the Braves website regarding CF:

    Center field candidates: If the Braves are unable to land a veteran outfielder to replace Jones, Jordan Schafer and Brent Lillibridge might enter Spring Training as the top candidates to become Atlanta’s starting center fielder. Jeff Francoeur will definitely remain in right field.

    “I think we have some internal options,” Wren said. “I’m not going to be specific about them, but I think we have some real options that will allow us to go to Spring Training with confidence if we don’t acquire anyone. It may not be the preference, but we have some internal options.”

    Before making him a definite candidate, the Braves are hopeful Lillibridge gets the opportunity to acquaint himself with the center field position that he hasn’t played on a consistent basis since his freshman season at the University of Washington.

    Lillibridge, who is a 24-year-old shortstop, had been targeted to play some outfield in the Arizona Fall League. But because of tendinitis in his left wrist, he’ll now have to wait to do so during the second half of a winter league.

    While hitting .310 with one homer and a .412 on-base percentage in 11 games with the Peoria Javelinas, Schafer has impressed scouts covering the AFL. The Braves are very high on the 21-year-old outfielder and don’t seem too concerned about the fact that he’s never played above the Class A level.

    When asked if this was a problem, Wren simply said, “Ask Rafael Furcal.” Furcal made the jump from A Ball to the Majors in 2000 and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

    “If a player has a lot of ability and is less vulnerable than another one to having weaknesses that another team can figure out, that guy can handle it,” Wren said.

  100. Nothing wrong with reclamation projects at the right price, as long as you can afford to replace them if they fail. The trouble is when you have to rely on them to fill gaps you don’t have any other answers for — like Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan, Opening Day corner outfielders.

  101. If the Braves are going to have any chance of resigning Tex, they are going to have to ditch (or at least make an exception to) their no-trade policy. I don’t like no-trades but Tex and Boras have all the leverage. As for LEO, he is NOT coming back. Maroth could be Leo’s next reclamation project, but it won’t be in Atlanta.

  102. I just can’t see the Braves being able to afford resigning Tex unless somehow Liberty raises the payroll cap a lot which there’s no reason to think they will. Plus Smoltz will be retiring in a couple of years and unless James or Reyes improves greatly the team will need to spend a lot of money on a new ace starting pitcher if it wants to compete for the playoffs and they’ll need to re-sign Hudson assuming he continues to pitch like this year.

  103. Renteria and Hampton come off the books after this season, so there will be money available to sign Tex. That doesn’t mean it will happen, as they may dip into the free agent pitching pool. I think Santana would look great in a Braves Uni.

  104. The Braves top priority at this point should be to re-sign Tex. Unfortunately, I think that in 2009 Tex will be in pinstripes…

    If they cannot ink Tex to an extension, then they ought to consider trading him. Teixeria might very well bring quality starting pitching. The Braves should not trade him for the sake of it, but only if he can bring significant help for the rotation.

    By trading Tex, the Braves might well save enough money (depending on who is acquired in a trade) to sign either 1B or a CF. The problem with trading Teixeria is that losing his bat and Andruw’s together would leave the Braves without adequate offensive firepower.

    Again, it would be far better to sign Tex to an extension–but I just don’t think that Boras will go for it….

    And, yes, Santana would look great in a Braves uniform….

  105. I don’t think the Braves will ever sign a big-time free agent again. When they signed Maddux, the team was flush with money and, really, they got a bargain b/c he didn’t want to play for the Yankees. This team’s philosophy is predicated on not signing free agents. If they can resign Tex at what they consider a reasonable price, they will but if he goes out on the market (almost certain), they won’t bid. Santana is even more out of the question unless Liberty decides it wants to make a big, big splash, which I think is unlikely. There will be trades, of course, but I think the team is committed to building from within. I could be wrong but I just don’t see the Braves ever being a real player in free agency–they really never have been–at least not for the top free agents. Let’s face it, this isn’t the Red Sox or the Yankees, who have huge fan bases that demand they win the World Series every year.

  106. Stephen,

    Are you saying trade Tex this winter before the season? It seems to me the whole point of acquiring him was to make a run in 2008. If they can get in the playoffs and happen to make the World Series, I think the trade would be worth it even if they lose Tex in 2009. In any event, I can’t see trading him now.

  107. I really think that the trade was at least for 2007–when the Braves seemed to be just within striking distance for months. It also means that they can use Tex in 2008–but the problem with this team was not so much production–but the lack of quality starters.

    I agree with your earlier post–the Braves will probably not be able to sign a ‘big-time’ free agent again. As you mention, there will be trades, but the Braves want to build from within. Meanwhile, it is not obvious where the Braves are going to get good starters from. The farm? No one other than Reyes is available for at least a year. Trades? Sure, but JS could not get that done last year and what do the Braves have to trade with?

    Tex can have a career season (in fact, he should be at peak value) in 2008, but if the Braves don’t significantly improve their rotation, I am not sure it will make slightest difference….

  108. After speaking with a person who should know, I can tell you it sounds unlikely the Braves would trade for Coco Crisp to be their new center fielder, and extremely unlikely that they’d trade Kelly Johnson for Crisp. In other words, if the Braves can’t do better in finding a replacement for Andruw Jones than Crisp, then maybe they’d consider trading for the no-longer-starting Red Sox center fielder. But they wouldn’t trade Kelly Johnson in a straight-up deal for Crisp, who would kill to have an offensive season like the one K.J. just had in his first full season. — Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  109. On Tex:
    Who’ll replace Chipper as the player most identifed with the Braves? I think there’s a finacial way to make Tex that guy.
    The Yankees can wave money at him, but who’s to say they won’t wait for Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder?
    (Other than their track record, of course!)

    I think Wren has an opportunity to sell Tex on baseball as played in the NL and a chance to be a franchise alltime great.

    Boras who?!?

  110. I can’t see the Braves trading KJ for Crisp…I would not be surprised to see the Braves experiment with Gregor Blanco in CF or even Schafer. If the latter tears up the AFL (he is holding his own now) then we might see him in Atlanta during the second half of 2008….

  111. Well, he definitely would be skewered by the NY, Boston and LA press if he starts to fail after signing with any of those teams.

    It’s not really possible to be an all-time great Yankee first baseman. I think he’d have to beat out these guys if he signed with them:

    Yankees – Lou Gehrig
    Red Sox – Jimmie Foxx
    Dodgers – Steve Garvey
    Angels – Wally Joyner
    Braves – Joe Adcock

    The terms are not listed in any particular order.

  112. The Braves aren’t going to trade Tex before this season. The only scenario in which they’d trade him would be if Hudson and Smoltz go down with injuries early next season and the team is 15 games out by the trade deadline and doesn’t think it has any chance of re-signing Mark. The whole point of trading all those prospects for Tex was to have him for 2 playoff chases.

  113. I think Tex might be willing to be the second-best Yankee first baseman if he got enough money.

    One problem with trading a guy like Tex is it’s really hard to get equal value for him. Most trades of superstars are like this one–trade the star for prospects because if you trade one superstar for another, all you are doing is weakening one part of the team to strenghthen another. What would be equal value for Teixera–Santana? Why would the Twins make that trade with Tex in the same situation re free agency as Santana? The Braves might be able to trade him to the Yankees, for example, but who would they get in return? I doubt the Yankees would trade any of their top pitching prospects and would you really want to trade him for guys that are not really established starters? I don’t see the availability out there. Maybe the Tigers would trade Bonderman and leave Guillen at short? I agree with you that I don’t know where the pitching is going to come from but, on the other hand, the Phillies and Mets have the same problem.

  114. Whether being the team great is the most important thing for Tex, but if it is I am sure that he could put up better numbers than Wally Joyner….

  115. I was just saying that for a point of reference, or if he actually cares about that. I just named the Angels because they’re a big market team. I’m unaware of if they’d be able to sign him.

  116. Honestly, I’m looking forward to the chance of having Chipper & Tex together for a whole year. And I think that depends more on Chipper’s heath than any impending Tex trade.

    They’re the switch-hitting version of Papi/Manny. In fact, this past regular-season Chipper & Tex were better. (Manny’s numbers were down—it’s the only season he didn’t slug .500.)

    Manny: 296/388/493
    Ortiz: 332/445/621

    Chip: 337/425/604
    Teix: 306/400/563

  117. Agree with ububba. As bad as the pitching was at times, it was the offense that let the team down in a lot of cases. Perhaps a full year together and marginal improvement in pitching will be enough.

  118. “The only way Tex gets traded by the Braves would be if ATL is hopelessly out of the running at the ‘08 trade deadline”

    and some team (ahem, dodgers, diamondbacks or devil rays) who has the horses (a 1B, a SP and an outfielder ALL ML ready) to trade to us.

    no devil rays. and unless detroit will give us some miller AND porcello, i don’t see that happening either.

    boston? perhaps…if only to keep the yankees from getting him.

    the yankees? i could see it, but, honestly, it will probably be the angels or the dodgers. but it aint gonna happen.

  119. Renteria and Hampton come off the books after this season, so there will be money available to sign Tex. That doesn’t mean it will happen, as they may dip into the free agent pitching pool. I think Santana would look great in a Braves Uni.

    Chipper’s $15 mil per comes off the books after 2009, also. So you have a situation where

    1) Liberty claims to be increasing payroll
    2) Andruw’s $14m per year is coming off now
    3) Hampton’s $15m per is coming off next year
    4) Chipper’s $15m per is coming off in 2009-10
    5) Smoltz’ $12m per comes off in 2010-11.

    There’s a lot of money to be spent there. I suspect Chipper would return for a smaller yearly deal to end his career at 3B in Atlanta. Else he takes a bigger deal to DH and pad his stats for the Hall. Either way, you really need a Chipper-esque bat to replace Chipper, whether he leaves due to FA or just, you know, one day gets old. You also need someone to replace Smoltz, who won’t pitch 200+ innings of Cy-ish calibre ball forever.

  120. The point being that, with Renteria, Andruw, Hampton and potentially some or all of Chipper’s money it’s relatively easy to see the Braves giving a back loaded deal to Tex and/or Santana.

    Also, Maddux isn’t the last class A FA the Braves signed. Both Galarraga and Brian Jordan were class A FA’s. They only stopped signing top-tier FA’s when TW cut the payroll.

    The guy that said the offense was the problem and we could live by tweaking the pitching a bit clearly didn’t watch the 2007 Atlanta Braves very often.

  121. Baltimore has shown the most interest in acquiring Teixera in the past. They could put together an interesting trade package, but why? It would be easier for them to pursue him on the FA market.
    Getting back to the beginning of this blog, I think the Jermaine Dye trade is a perfect example of the risks taken when prospects are being continually traded for veterans.
    To me the key is; don’t trade the kids with upside potential for anyone that doesn’t have current “star” qualities.
    That gives some justification to the Teixera trade (although I think ATL gave up way too big a proportion of their prospects in that period including the Dotel trade).

    But, don’t give up that sort of player in marginal deals (such as Tucker).

    Prospects can be seen as a sort of “currency” to make these deals. But I think patience can often give a bigger return. When we look at Wainwright, Saltalamacchia, etc. in the coming years I’ll have an empty feeling in my stomach from the 1-2 years of produvtion from the likes of J.D. Drew.

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