Player Analysis: Schedule

All this is written but not “finished” yet.

Jan. 7: Brian McCann
Jan. 8: The Great Backup Catcher Logjam, or: Nothing Better Happen to McCann
Jan. 9: Mark Teixeira
Jan. 10: Kelly Johnson
Jan. 11: Chipper Jones
Jan. 14: Yunel Escobar
Jan. 15: Omar Infante
Jan. 16: Scott Thorman
Jan. 17: Other Infield Possibilities
Jan. 18: Jeff Francoeur

I’m skipping the rest of the outfielders for now.

146 thoughts on “Player Analysis: Schedule”


    Completely disagree with this article.

    So Kansas got ONE quality win by 3 points and suddenly their “pillowy soft schedule” (as the article put it) doesn’t matter???

    That’s a freaking joke. Missouri dominated Kansas head to head and dominated their Bowl game. And considering how horribly LSU beat Va. Tech (and Arkansas beat LSU), it’s pretty hard to say that Kansas beat some dynasty in Va. Tech with their below average Quarterback.

    Sorry, any justification for Kansas in a BCS game has not changed. I hope everyone realizes, all this does is buoy these mediocre programs like Kansas to continue scheduling joke opponents like Central Michigan and Florida International.

    I love that beating one decent (but not great) team by 3 points suddenly makes you a BCS legit team.

    All this shows me is that the ACC is a bigger joke than I already thought they were.

  2. Regarding the offensive players, I really hope Frank Wren isn’t done because so far, a rather unimpressive offseason.

    Outside of the Glavine signing (which was solid and needed but not a game changer) the best move he made in my opinion was getting rid of the Vulture.

    I know some of you on here liked Oscar, but I couldn’t stand him. All he did was put people on base and create fake wins and saves for himself – or else get killed.

    If Wren would at least go out & add even a Fuentes from Colorado, it would improve a rather lackluster offseason.

  3. I have to disagree to a point.

    2 schools of thought.
    All the team needed was tweaking so:
    a. Wren got an innings eating 3rd starter
    b. He dumped salary and leveraged surplus at SS for a couple of decent high risk/upside prospects although Jurrgens might be a contributer this year.
    c. Knew that he has enough offense to carry a weak hitting CF
    d. Didn’t fall into the trap of overpaying for middle relief. ie letting Mahay and Villareal go.
    In sum a pretty decent off season if you believe that the team is an contender as is. Which in a weak NL, it is.

    Second school of thought:
    We are in WIN NOW mode becuase our 2 best players (Smoltz and Chipper) are old/fragile and numbers 3 and 4 (Hudson and Teixiera) are inconsistent and a free agent respectively.

    With this in mind you put Escobar and Schafer into a package with Reyes or even James to try to get a Haren or Bedard (although I am sure the Orioles aren’t smart enough to rebuild their team by trading him) to put some qualitative distance between the Braves and the others. If this is where you think the team should be then the offseason has been a dissapointment thus far. I’m actually in this school of thought but I think the stumbling block has been our comparative lack of high upside advanced prospects both pitchers and hitters compared to the say the D-backs.

    All in all I think that we have to figure that all the major moves by the team have been done. We had better get used to watching Anderson play center field.

  4. #3

    Johnny, if we went out and got Haren from AZ or Bedard from Baltimore, I would be perfectly fine with Anderson or a Brandon Jones in Center.

    First, the center field position is batting 8th at this point and 1-7 (escobar, KJ, Chipper, Tex, McCann, Frenchy and Diaz) is very solid and our centerfield last year hit .222. It’s not hard to improve on that.

    But if we are noth going to add another #1 starter and try and have arguably, the best rotation in Baseball, then you need to improve the offense.

    So yeah – I agree that if he goes and gets Erik Bedard today, I would call it a great offseason for Frank Wren and wouldn’t care who we put in Center.

    The fact that Wren has done neither is worrisome. Plus, I disagree with you on Mahay. The Royals got him for a very reasonable price and he’s about as solid a lefty as you can get. I would have absolutely worked to resign him at the rate of $2 mill. a year for 2 years.

    Eespecially since going into Spring training, we have 2 healthy lefty relievers, one who’s never been that good (Ohman) and one who’s untested (Ring) and the one good lefty we have (Mike Gonzalez) is out until June.

  5. I think the Braves think that Schafer will be ready sooner rather than later. Otherwise, why bother putting him on the 40-man now? It wouldn’t shock me that if he has a good spring, he makes the club. But the likely scenario is they park him in the minors at the start of the year, and if he does well and Anderson does poorly, he’ll be up relatively quickly.

    I also get the sense the Braves think they are OK with respect to pitching with the current lineup, so I don’t think much else will be done before the start of the season.

  6. Alex, the Braves scored 810 runs last year, 3rd in the league and we play at sea level and in a real ballpark unlike Colarado and the Phils respectively 1 and 2 in runs scored. This season we get a full season of Tex which will easily offset the ‘offense’ we got from Andruw last season so barring injury disaster we are on track to at least score as many runs this season. All the above is a way of saying that getting a hitter in CF is probably very low on the priority list for Wren this year. I can see why Wren believes that the team as it is right now can contend.

    On Mahay. I was surprised by the Royals deal too and 4 mil doesn’t seem like a lot but you have to remember the context was that the Reds, and the Brewers had just paid 7 figures for one inning pitchers and that EVERYONE thought that the Yankees would give old Ron the big dough. If I were Wren I would have passed on Mahay as well given the context.

    Blanton and Bedard(maybe)are on the trading block. Bedard is worth a good part of the farm. Blanton is not. I am hoping that Wren is at least talking to the A’s and O’s.

  7. You know what really aggravates me about Kansas is that the school is called the University of Kansas and they refere to themselves as KU. It’s worse than Brett Favre.

  8. I agree about Schafer, Kirk. I can’t understand why he’d have been put on the 40-man for any other reason.

    Whether I think it’s smart to expect him to be ready this quickly is another matter.

    Also agree that the Braves think the rotation is OK. Honestly, if James improves like I expect him to, even I think the rotation is OK. I just think they should make every effort to make it better than OK. Championships should be the goal here.

  9. Johnny, your assumptions may be faulty. To keep the offense up, the Braves also need:

    1. Chipper to play 130 games again, rather than 110, and to continue to hit as well as he ever has at the age of 36;
    2. Yunel Escobar to play better than his minor league stats projected him to;
    3. McCann to stay healthy.

  10. @1


    you just said “Missouri dominated Kansas head to head”

    Points 36 – 28 : 41 – 35
    1stDowns 29 – 22 : 28 – 18
    TotalYds 519 – 391 : 524 – 399
    Passing 368 – 349 : 373 – 169
    Rushing 151 – 42 : 151 – 230
    Turnover 0 – 2 : 4 – 0
    Time/pos 37:25-22:35 : 32:18 – 27:42

    Missouri shut down its opponent better than Michigan shut down its opponent, I will agree to that based on the rushing stats from the two games, but when people said Michigan dominated Florida you adamantly refused to classify it as domination. Then, in a nearly identical statistical game you’re willing to throw out that Missouri dominated Kansas?

    Missou/Kansas was played in Kansas City, Missouri

    Michigan/Florida was played in Orlando, Florida

    Michigan’s performance came on the road.

    I’m just saying, it seems like you’re splitting hairs, or just not wanting believe Florida could be dominated.

    In the interest of sparing everyone else our argument though, do you wanna move it over to facebook?

  11. Blanton and Bedard(maybe)are on the trading block. Bedard is worth a good part of the farm. Blanton is not. I am hoping that Wren is at least talking to the A’s and O’s.

    Agree on all counts.

    And w/r/t the offense, I also have to think McCann and Francoeur can only improve on last season. The drop-off concerns are Escobar and Chipper. (Not that Chipper won’t still be good—I just don’t know how likely he is to repeat his MVP-caliber season of last year.)

  12. “I also get the sense the Braves think they are OK with respect to pitching with the current lineup, so I don’t think much else will be done before the start of the season.”

    They absolutely are, and this has been driving me crazy for six weeks now. I agree with Alex that the club needs to commit to being very good in one of the two key areas – pitching or hitting. Yet right now I think the rotation is mediocre while the offense is just ok – and that with startlingly high expectations for Escobar, who probably performed better than expected last season.

    I’m more concerned with the pitching. I’m less enthralled with the Glavine signing than many others here, and while I’m excited to see Jurrjens pitch, he remains a question mark. I think we have a couple solid pitchers at the top and a bunch of 5’s at the bottom – with Jurrjens having some potential to be better as the year goes on. I’m not saying this is an easy fix, it may be impossible to better the rotation for a reasonable price. I’m just saying I wish the Braves would at least be involved in some of the Bedard discussions.

  13. @5:

    WHY put Schaffer on the 40 man roster. We got lucky on the Rule 5 draft. We should have saved the position until Schaffer was actually going to be on the 25 roster (since he was not eligible for Rule 5).


    WHY do you need to improve the offense? This team scored the third most runs behind two teams with unbelievable hitters parks (Philly and Colorado). WITH Andruw stinking up the place. Around the horn offense should be :

    Catcher: slight to moderate improvement (OPS 50). McCann is better than last year, not as good as 2006. He is on the right side of the age curve.

    First base: Substantial improvement. Tex’ OPS could slide to 900 and we would still, averaged out over the season, pick up 50 points.

    Second: KJ is on the right side of the age curve. He will not be platooned as much. He should be a slight up (OPS 30).

    Shortstop: Yunel will be good, but we will lose almost 100 OPS here.

    Third: IF Chipper is as healthy as last year and performs similarly this position will go UP. Why? Because the back up (Aybar, Prado, Lillibridge) will be OPS 200 or more points better than Woodward. Net, even if Chipper comes closer to earth is a push.

    Left: May lose a little on the left handed side of a platoon going to Brandon Jones, but not likely. Diaz may drop a little (but not much). Overall, a push.

    Centerfield. Similar OBP, less slugging. Similar to 50 point lower OPS.

    Right field: Frenchy will BA about the same, OBP VERY slightly up (he is working on it) and ISO up substantially (settling in to his less aggressive approach) Age curve agrees with this. OPS up 50 points.

    Net is around 30 points OPS UP on 8 positions.

    Our run differential as it was last year SHOULD have got us in the playoffs.

  14. On Mahay,

    I liked him. He COULD have established a new level of performance last year. However, he has never had that good of a year before. Relief pitchers are notorious for this. NEVER sign a reliever long term unless he ha consistently performed at the level you are expecting based on what you are paying for him.

    It is likely (50% or so) that Ring will perform as well as Mahay over the next 2 years.

  15. I agree with Stu on McCann improving but I’m not at all sure that Francoeur will. I think he was fairly lucky this season in that his average was higher but not much else changed that much–granted his walks were up some but not that much. He might get better but I don’t think you can necessarily count on it. As for McCann, I think he can improve but it’s unrealistic to expect him to approach 2006; catching in Atlanta is a lot more wearing than catching in, say, Minnesota.

    I agree with Johnny. I think Wren has had a pretty good offseason as far as it goes but I would like to see him be more aggressive (although I agree that they probably don’t have enough high level prospects to really be a player.) I think Stu is right; they need to do more than just try to be good enough to make the NL playoffs. They talk about trying to win championships but I don’t think this is a team that would be very formidable against an AL team.

  16. As to improving the pitching,

    1. The only negative is Smoltz age going up another year.

    2. Adding Glavine will add 10 quality starts or more.

    3. Chuck James will likely be at least as good as last year.

    4. Jo Jo Reyes is highly likely to be better. He dominated AAA last year. He is at an age where improvement is likely.

    5. Jurrjens is already a plus from Wren this year. At worst, Jurrjens beats the 5 hole disaster (Redman, Carlyle, Lerew, last years’ Reyes).

    6. I forgot Ohman. 70% he is better 2008 than Mahay. 90% he is almost as good.

  17. Bench offense:

    Prado, Aybar, Lillibridge, Brandon Jones. Only place we may lose offense is that part of backup catcher last year was Salty. pinch hitters and backups are, as a group, up 100 ops points or more.

  18. 1: Glavine is definitely a #3 starter, and James is a borderline 3.

    2: Jurjens is probably no better than a 4 at the moment, with the ability to become a 3 this year.

    3: Schafer is not on the 40 man roster, and won’t be until they bring him to the big club.

    4: Having Tex for the whole year will make up for the loss of Andruw, as will have BJones platoon with Diaz.

  19. @15 – That’s my whole point: this is not a championship caliber team. Maybe it’s impossible to do with the current incarnation, but if that’s so then why not blow it all up? The truth is that the Braves, like so many other NL teams, have probably convinced themselves that they ARE a championship team as currently constructed; the Cardinals are to blame for this. Personally, I’m not one who thinks it’s possible to commit to winning now AND tomorrow – it’s incredibly hard to do, probably impossible with the current budget – so I wish we’d just commit to win now. I’m just not sure we have.

  20. Cliff,

    I generally agree with you that the team should be better than it was last year (although I’m not quite as optimistic as you that we’ll improve at every position on the field…).

    Even if that holds true, though, why not go for broke with Bedard? Getting Bedard would make us the best team in the NL in 2008. With our core’s small window, I’d go for it.

  21. I have come up with an unbeatable formula; observe:

    I can’t believe [insert bowl team A from Conference X] beat [insert bowl team B from Conference Y]. Boy, considering [insert bowl team A] got beat this year by [insert team that beat bowl team A in 2007] I now have no respect for Conference Y. [Infer: My team and the conference they play in are far superior to both bowl teams A and B and Conferences X and Y].

  22. @9:

    This is precisely my point. There is no procedural reason to put Schafer on the 40-man. The Braves aren’t idiots, so it has to be a strong signal to him that he’s their guy, and that if he takes care of business he’s coming up this year.

  23. The one monkey wrench in my formula though is that every team lost this year in 2007 (except Hawaii who everyone knew was dogshit – hmmm.

  24. I agree with you Adam about the NL teams deluding themselves because of the Cardinals, but blowing it up is not feasible, at least this year, because (1) the fan base would not stand for it; and (2) they already have Smoltz and Tex for this year at least. And the Braves really don’t have the assets to trade like the A’s did, given that Chipper is expensive, injury-prone, and cannot be traded without his consent.

    Moreover, the team has enough young talent that it doesn’t need to blow it up. I think they need to be more aggressive in drafting and signing players (ie, paying over slot) and they need to go after an ace. The Braves don’t need to finish last for five years to rebuild.

    What Justin said is very plausible but there is a lot of uncertainty. Reyes might improve, Jurrjens might be good, and James might be better but these are all question marks. The point is, the team is likely better than last year and potentially could be a lot better but there are a lot of uncertainties. I guess when you are a mid-market team uncertainly is inevitable but I would sure like them to go after a Bedard although that is probably unrealistic.

  25. 15- I think there is a reason besides luck that Francoeur improved his BA. If you remember that his walks were way up in the beginning of the year – it was because he was swinging at less bad pitches, the ones he was popping up and striking out on in 2006. Later in the year, he was walking less and hitting more because he was swinging at more good pitches.

    I have to say his approach is evolving…and improving.

  26. Also, the Braves don’t exactly play at sea level. I remember reading that one reason Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was “The Launching Pad” is that it was actually about 800 feet above sea level. That’s not a ton, it’s certainly not Denver, but it may not be nothing.

    On the other hand, I like Cliff’s analysis. I don’t see any reason that Francoeur can’t continue to improve bit by bit. He’s already shown that he’s not a completely stagnant offensive talent. As long as he can continue to improve his K/BB ratio, I don’t see why he can’t hit the ball with a little more authority. Even if Frenchy doesn’t do much more than he did, I think McCann will definitely do a bit better, and I expect the same out of KJ.

    I hope Wren isn’t done. I kind of expect one or two more moves, though they may be tiny minor league contract-type things. It’ll be a fun team to watch, if nothing else. I really hope Jo-Jo can pitch well next year. We need him. We haven’t produced many pitchers in a long, long time.

  27. It should be clear to everyone that the Braves are not embracing either extreme – “win now” or sell for the future.

    This will not maximize our chances for a championship for either time frame (now or 4 years from now), but it might maximize our chances over the combined period.

  28. I agree with Parish as to the Braves’ philosophy and it’s pretty much what the Braves have done over the years. I think JS always focused on the NL first. The difference now is that the NL is much weaker than the AL so building a potential NL championship team is sort of like building a powerhouse WAC team–you will be good but not generally good enough to play with the big boys.

  29. I am generally in line with Stu on this Braves argument – why not go for broke and get Bedard?

    Plus, everyone makes it seem like you are “mortgaging the future” – actually, you are securing the future of the rotation with this move.

    Bedard is 28 years old, a bonafide ace, and if Smoltz and Glavine leave after this season or next, you have Bedard and Hudson still leading the rotation further.

    And while I would much rather make the Playoffs than what we’ve had the last 2 years, I would also rather get to the World Series and have a chance against Boston, Detroit or Anaheim, then somehow get to the W.S. and get swept in relatively easy fashion.

    As it stands, if we don’t go after & grab Bedard, we are clearly behind (not signifigantly, but still behind) the D’backs and Padres, rotation-wise.


    Marc – great comparison. Winning the NL if you don’t markedly improve your team makes you an undermanned Hawaii facing a loaded Georgia. This I can agree with!

  30. re: the other starters

    I agree that Jo Jo Reyes will improve and that James should be no worse, additionally, I am intrigued to see what Jurgjens will do, but with all that said, I don’t think any of those guys will ever be better than a #3 type of starter and more likely, all our #4’s.

    Bedard is a #1. That’s a signifigant difference.

  31. The NL is actually nothing like the WAC because you are saying the NL execs are choosing to save money by fielding mediocre teams.

    In college football, good players don’t cost any more than bad players, because you aren’t paying them. A scholarship is a scholarship, no matter that guy’s 40 time.

    Unless.. wait.. are you implying the SEC pays more than the other conferences?

  32. Speculating about landing Bedard is a waste of time. Unless the Braves are sending Schaeffer (Highly unlikely) and several other “untouchables,” they do not have the depth and/or prospects to land Bedard. Seriously, after the Tex deal, who is left to trade? Lillibridge? If he’s the best Atlanta has to offer, even the Orioles are not dumb enough to swallow that bait…

  33. King,

    Atlanta still has talent in the system, the problem is all the high impact talent that it will take to land Bedard is at the lower levels, and the Orioles would want players who could contribute in the next two seasons.

  34. I don’t believe in getting excited about any prospects below AA, but that’s just me. If Baltimore truly wants to deal Bedard and wants ML-ready young talent in return, there are several teams that match up for a deal, and the Braves are not one of them.

  35. We need a lefty in the pen, and centerfielder and a backup catcher. Everything else is probably set. Hell, those three spots may even be set internally.

  36. So, Smitty, let me get this straight – you like or love the NL-WAC comparison? ;-)

    (sorry – couldn’t resist)

  37. I would rather see where we are with Tex. Offer an extension that is market value $16-17 for 5/6 years. If he says no, then shop him and get a stock pile in return. Then turn our attention on Santana, Bedard, or someone else.

    Downside is we are already missing Andruw and Renteria. Losing Tex would kill our offense, but then again, we’ll probably be hurting a year from now

  38. My problem with everyone saying we can unload the farm system for a Bedard type is two-fold:

    Do we have the QUALITY left? Not numbers, but quality? If we send everyone with a pulse, who says they want them? They have a few guys with pulses, too.

    Second, does anyone remember last year’s open casting call for starting pitchers? Or the years of open casting in the corner outfield? Basically, what I’m getting at is, Chipper and Smoltz aren’t the only guys who risk getting hurt out there. Any player at any time could get hurt, and that includes Haren, Bedard, and Blanton. And anyone can perform at a completely dismal level (Andruw Jones?) And when you trade your best minor leaguers at multiple positions, you just won’t have the bodies to continue to compete.

    Look at Hampton! He had no injury history! Granted the price on him wasn’t minor league talent, we were taking the risk of his continued decline…

    And think of Mike Gonzalez last year. No one wants to look at it this way, but we traded for a guy we were convinced was over his injury history. And we did it because we ASSUMED Thorman could fill in for LaRoche. (Escobar for Renteria? Diaz can still bat .330 if he plays 150 games?)

    Back to Thorman. That’s why we had to empty the farm for Texeira. Thorman didn’t come close to the projections. If we had LaRoche instead of Mike Gonzalez, we don’t empty the farm to improve 1b. Don’t forget what a chip Salty was.. Maybe he nets us Haren or Bedard or Blanton at the all-star break last year?

    I also can’t take anyone seriously who says “If he goes and gets Erik Bedard today, I would call it a great offseason for Frank Wren.”

    That’s all he has to do? Get Bedard? What if the cost is Texeira and James?


  39. Who is the more valuable trade target, Johan Santana or Erik Bedard? For the same package of prospects, would you rather have one year of Santana or two years of Bedard?

    If Santana is worth what the Mets, Red Sox and Yankees have reportedly offered, Bedard is certainly not going to come cheap.

  40. @34,

    To paraphrase Claude Raines (Insprector Renard)in “Casablanca”: I’m shocked, shocked that you would suggest that colleges pay players to come play for them. :)

    I tend to agree that getting Bedard is unrealistic. I’m not sure there is a whole lot more that Wren can do this year, given the payroll and the state of the farm system. My feeling is that the Braves need to be more aggressive in drafting and signing players “above slot.” They have done a great job in tapping the Georgia connection, which has saved them money presumably and gotten some good players, but to really move up in the echelon of farm systems, they have to do more. I’m not an expert of the Braves’ farm system so please correct me if this is wrong, but I am not aware of anyone in the system that is really projected as a number 1 starter.

  41. Here’s a couple of fun facts I encountered when reading through the Hardball Times NL East review. I’ll just quote the relevant paragraph:

    “The Braves copped the Pythagoras Trophy, awarded to the team with the best run differential in its division. Yes, the Braves’ Pythagorean record, estimated from runs scored and allowed, was 88-74, tops in the NL East. In fact, they ranked third in the NL in runs scored and third in run prevention, which is not too shabby for a team many considered a disappointment this year.”

    Add Glavine and Jurrjens, subtract AJ, trade Escobar for Renteria, toss in a full year of Tex and note that the Fat Man from the ‘pen is gone, and I think you’ve got to say this team looks improved. And when you look at the Mets and Phils, I don’t see how you can claim they’ve gotten better. Well, maybe the Mets if you’ve got a lot of faith in Oliver Perez and Jose Reyes returning to 2006 form. But I think at best they tread water.

    Suffice it to say I’m bullish on the Braves this year, and wouldn’t be surprised to see them push 90 wins. Sure, they’re not stacked like the teams of the mid-90s, but they’ll have a good chance at winning the division, especially if one of the young starters or a guy like Brandon Jones blossoms.

  42. Mac, I agree with all you say. I wasn’t really making assumptions. I was attempting to justify Wren’s thinking to this point.

    @37 and others. Perfectly stated. Thats why I’ve been saying that the Braves need to include Escobar in any deal to get Bedard or anything approaching a good young starter. And thats why we are not in the running to get Bedard. All of the minor league talent we have to offer is years away from making a contribution. The A’s are conceding the next few seasons hoping their cache of acquired talent blossoms. I don’t see the O’s making that intelligent choice to leverage their red hot commodity that way.

    I think that the team as constituted right now can get to the post season. And as we have all discussed the current thinking is that once you get to the playoffs anything can happen when underdogs like the Cards and Marlins in recent memory can win the whole thing. Thats what I think is driving Wren’s decision making at this point and who can blame him?

    But as a fan put me in the Alex R. camp. I’d trade prospects and a portion of our future to enhance the teams chances in a heart beat.

  43. I am not sure that many pitchers in all of the minors project as #1 starters.

    We have a few with #2 ceilings – Rohrbough, Locke, Hanson, maybe.

    Julio Tehran may be our best shot at an “ace,” but he is 16 and a long, long way from the Majors.

  44. Smitty,

    We need neither a lefty nor a backup C from external sources.


    The “He Might Get Injured!” argument is weak, IMO. So might the guys we’re trading for him. Barring significant injury history, I don’t think you decline to do a prospects-for-ace trade because the ace might get unlucky. The prospects may never become useful bodies—at least you know Bedard is very useful when healthy.

    And I believe we have both quantity and quality. Seems like Schafer + Lillibridge/Escobar + Devine/Acosta would get you in the door (those are the ML-ready or near-ready guys; you could add a lower-level high-upside guy or two), and I wouldn’t hesitate to make such a trade.

    That said, I know I’m in the minority with respect to being willing to trade Schafer, and I also realize that it’s unlikely we’ll get Bedard. I’m just sayin’.

  45. Stu – couldn’t have said it better.

    You leverage Schafer, Escobar for their (for right now) high value, a mlb ready pitcher (yes I would part with James) and a couple of athletic prospects to get a pitcher of Bedard’s ability.

    Again I don’t blame the Braves/Wren for essentially standing pat. Recent history and the state of the NL support his course of action. But I WISH that he would do something REALLY bold. Shoot he may be trying to but maybe noone likes what he has to trade.

  46. As to Wren’s approach to get good enough to be in NL playoffs.

    1. Our current owner, Liberty Media, is really interested in moving this franchise in 4 years when their agreements with MLB (also, had to be a minimum of 2 for tax reasons) allow them to.

    2. Liberty is not looking for cash flow off of this asset. They are looking for asset appreciation.

    3. McGuirk and JS and Wren have all said there is extra room for payroll. Basically, IF the fron office’s actions increase revenue, they are telling you that Liberty (unlike Time Warner) will let them spend it on talent.

    4. Just getting into the postseason increases the money the team gets (and gives them more to spend, get it?). It also provides a nice bonus in money for the lesser paid guys and a bonus in endorsements and prestige for the higher paid guys.

    5. We absolutely DO NOT have the resources to build a team with a virtually guaranteed base level of making the post season (like Tigers, Yankees, Angels, BoSox).

    6. Atlanta is a bad market for a loser team. There are no “Charming Cubs Fans” in Atlanta or the southeast. Financially, it is very important to compete every year. IF we can win the division with a team with lots of improving youngsters and a few old stars, ticket and merchandise sales go up. Then, there is more money to try to move back up the line.

    7. For improvement, we have to take the little pieces approach. That is, Ohman over Mahay (losing Ascanio) and getting also Infante (GREAT kind of player to protect us all over the place). If our little pieces had all been better last year (bench, pinch hitters, back end of pen, back end of rotation) we would have gotten to the postseason.

    8. Somebody else just posted on the “Pythag”. This team was closer last year than we realized. Replace Wickman with Soriano, McBride with Ohman, Soriano with Yates or Devine and get Gonzo back in June and the pen (the one place statistics show a “Pythag” deficiency is “real” as opposed to “fluke”) and this team is a 90 win NL club. That should get you to the postseason.

  47. @46,

    How are the Mets improved? They lost GLAVINE. The best they can hope for their is they get an almost full year of Pedro at comparable to better production (unlikely). They lost offense at catcher. Even IF Oliver Perez is more real, they have problems all over the place.

    The Philies MAY have stepped forward. They will be down in the outfield unless they make another move. Their third base doesn’t suck any worse than last year. They do get Myers back in the rotation with the addition of Lidge. If Lidge isn’t a head case, I think they stepped forward.

    Also, when did THT run outlooks on the division? I don’t remember seeing one.

  48. keep in mind by losing Glavine the rest of the rotation will have a heavier load to carry. If they think they’ll get a full healthy productive year out of Pedro their in trouble. He’ll I hope they trade Reyes for Santana. He cant win games when he’s not pitching. Big question marks around their whole team and management right now. Why trade your savior Lillibridge for garbage, esp not getting pitching in return

  49. I prefer Pro Football and plan to OD on it this weekend.
    However, I thank you all for your insights on SEC football. I now have a starting point for evaluating whether to tune in a college football game.
    For 2007-2008:
    SEC team vs. SEC team-Yes
    SEC team vs. non-conference team-maybe not

    I’m saying your teams are now my standards. I’m taking your word that this abundance of quality takes place every year.

    Can’t wait for the McCann write-up. I’m happy with the number of games he’s started the last two years. We could use a good year from Sammy the Backup. He certainly fits in with the Georgia crowd!

  50. Stu,

    To be more plain, my point is this:

    If all aspects of your major league club are B’s, and your AAA major league ready depth is C, you don’t need to diminish it to go to A+ in any one major league area.

    Because who will be left when one hitter, or one starter, or one reliever (Soriano?) gets hurt or is uneffective. You will have no one left to trade. And your A+ rotation doesn’t look as good when the bullpen is ineffective or the offense is sputtering.

    You need some depth. Right now, compared to many other contenders, our major-league depth is suitable, but not favorable. I think it’s unwise to diminish it when we already have a rotation that can compete.

  51. Another thing that may happen.

    Wren has some questionable chips all over the place (Jeff Bennett, Charlie Morton, Dan Smith, Phil Stockman, Devine, Prado, Brayan Pena). By questionable chips I mean guys that it wouldn’t be ridiuculous if they were strong in preseason and went on to productive major league careers, but that, for one reason or another, nobody is going to offer much for.

    Whichever of these guys catch fire in spring could be the basis for a secondary trade (Ian Snell?). With Baltimore’s horrible pitching beyond Bedard, they could take back Chuck James / Reyes, Bennett, Prado (if they deal Roberts) and another pitcher. All of sudden something that doesn’t kill us is close.

    I like Chuck James. I agree to trade him as part of a package for a #1 / #2 starter. OTHERWISE, don’t deal him.

  52. And for the record, for a Bedard type, you aren’t DIMINISHING the depth… You’re eliminating it. It will take every player we think anything of.

    If Wren finds a good deal that will upgrade the club, I’m still for improving. But It’s a case by case basis. Of course you want Bedard if it only costs Schaefer or only costs Lillibridge. But it doesn’t. It costs substantially more. We’re looking at a package like what we gave up for Tex.

  53. Cliff that package doesn’t land Bedard.

    That package nets Matt Garza and a warm body to even it.

  54. Perhaps Matt Garza is an exaggeration.

    But that specific trade doesn’t work because why would the Orioles want James for Bedard? Both guys have similar service time, and their guy is drastically better. And if they trade Bedard, they are throwing in the towel on this season and building for the future.

  55. We’re looking at a package like what we gave up for Tex.

    Yeah. Which is fine with me.

    Depth, schmepth. If Smoltz or Chipper or Teix goes down, we’re done for the year, anyway.

  56. If we make a move for a starting pitcher (which Wren has said he won’t anyways), but IF we do, it would have to be with a team that already has a very strong starting rotation and a glaring need elsewhere. We CANNOT unload the farm for a top-line starter, but we CAN trade big-league talent for other big-league talent.

  57. And Stu, now we all know why you don’t work in baseball.

    (We don’t have the talent left that we gave up for Tex.)

  58. And for the record, I’m not talking about season ending injuries. I’m talking 4-6 weeks.

    If you lost one of those guys for 4-6 weeks and your season was done, you did a really really really bad job building a team.

  59. Cliff, I like your post at #58. I think that’s a very smart way to handle many of our internal talent. There are a lot of guys who are nowhere near their top value right now, and as a result trading them would be essentially pointless. Charlie Morton certainly has a lot more value now than he did 6 months ago.

    There’s a fairly thin line between a major league role player who sticks and a grade C prospect; if any of our grade C prospects start to look like useful role players in spring training, that would be a great time to maximize their value and sell high. The guys we could sell high on right now, like Schafer, I’d rather not part with.

  60. We don’t have the talent left that we gave up for Tex.

    Strongly disagree. Many (including me, at the time) were upset about giving up 5 prospects for Teix, thinking our system was depleted. A few months later, our system is more highly regarded than it was at this time last year. We have the players and can afford to give a few up.

    And Stu, now we all know why you don’t work in baseball.

    I’ll assume you’re referring to my lack of concern about depth. Illustration: You think it’s wise to keep Jurrjens on hand in case Smotlz goes down; I think if Smoltz goes down, we’re no longer contending, even if it’s Jeff Bennett being plugged into the rotation ahead of Jurrjens.

  61. Yea not many teams have MLB aces stashed away in the minor leagues waiting to be called up when the current ace is traded/injured.

    This isn’t Baseball Mogul.

  62. Stu’s absolutely right. Depth schmeth. Farm kids come & go. No one here wanted to trade Andy Marte and look how that worked out.

    When we got Hudson, we put together a package of youngsters for oakland, none of whom ended up doing squat.

    It’s entirely possible Jordan Schafer is a Baseball God, but even so, we are getting back a 28 year old legit #1 starter. And if you have players such as Chipper, Smoltz and Glavine, why aren’t you trying to win in 2008 – especially if there’s a decent chance we can’t keep Teixeira?

    Again – great prospects come & go ALL THE TIME in Baseball. Every year, there’s some kid that’s “can’t miss”. I think I heard that once about Brien Taylor & Todd Van Poppel too. They say hello by the way, from the local Burger King in Des Moines they currently work at. Geez.

  63. Wren has said publically that there will be no more moves for starting pitching. Then again we find out that he did inquire about Dan Haren which shows that he is a smart GM.

    AAR JJ to get something you have to give something. Right now Schafer’s value is sky high. By May if he struggles at Mississippi he is worth a turd. A package like the one we put together for Teixiera to get a pitcher like Bedard is smart baseball because of his PROVEN high level of performance.

    Joshua – sorry sir but you DO NOT create a hole by trading a proven starting player. You trade potential (your farm system) for proven performance a formula used by John Schuerholz over and over again that sustained a 14 year run of championship quality Braves baseball teams.

  64. Team A vs Team B
    Record 11-2 12-1
    vs. >.500 4-1 4-1
    Opps. Win % .479 .488
    Best Win +20 vs. JS#11 +3 vs. JS#5
    Worst Loss -1 vs. JS#76 -8 vs. JS#9
    Avg. MOV + 15.4 + 28.3
    Avg. MOV vs. BCS + 14.2 + 16.9

  65. You don’t remain competitive by continually trading away your farm system every year. There’s a reason we haven’t made too many Teixera-type deals in the past decade. You do it sparingly, wisely, and you don’t do it in back-to-back years. Look at the Yankees…

  66. It’s not about remaining competitive. It’s about becoming competitive. You don’t remain competitive by having Smoltz, Chipper, Glavine all be really old, and also being core parts of the lineup. When that is the case, you try to become competitive now, and win the World Series to tide you over during the few down years that will come when they are gone. Our down years will not be Marlins type, we have lots of good young players on the MLB roster, but we wont be World Series competitive without Smoltz and Chipper, unless we find comparable replacements in their 20s.

  67. I am not in favor of trading Schafer. Looking from Richmond to Rome, I do not think there is any doubt that he is our centerfielder of the future. I do not think I would give up six years of a lineup regular in the Torii Hunter mold for two years of Erik Bedard pitching every fifth day.

  68. Bedard could be kept because his contract would come up when Smoltz’s is likely gone, Hamptons too will be gone by them.

    When I think about ace pitchers, I don’t worry that they pitch only every 5th day, because the crappy scrub pitcher who slots into the back end of the rotation when you don’t have an ace also pitches every 5th day.

    Plus, that ace who only pitches every 5th day also pitches twice every playoff series.

  69. I agree with everything that Cliff said except one quibble when he included the Tigers in teams that have huge resources, with the Yankees and Red Sox. Detroit is about the same size market as Atlanta now but is basically a dying city. The Tigers happen to have an owner that likes to spend his pizza money but, other than that I don’t see how the Braves differ except for ownership’s willingness to spend money.

    I certainly think the Braves have a good chance to make the playoffs and maybe win the NL. But that’s at least partly due to the state of the NL. Does anyone think the Braves as currently constituted are likely to be one of the best four (or maybe even five or six)teams in baseball? It seems to me that the real difference between the Tigers and Braves is that the Tigers know they have to be aggressive to compete in the AL and the owner is willing to do so, unlike the Braves’ owner.

    The point is not that the team should or can have a $150 mm payroll but that the goal should be to build the best possible team, not just an 88-90 win NL team. Bedard is just an illustration. Alex always complains about the Red Sox and Yankees spending all the money but they are keeping faith with their fans, which a lot of teams–including, arguably, the Braves–aren’t.

    Re the Hardball Times NL East analysis–it’s in the 2008 Baseball Annual that you have to order.

  70. The point is the Braves don’t have a 150 million dollar payroll, and most likely won’t for the foreseeable future, so that is why they have to build the best team they can at around 90 million and keep a strong farm system to build from for the next several seasons, not deplete it with 6 for 1 blockbuster trades every year.

    A good GM finds a successful balance and that is why JS has been so good. Now we just have to hope that Wren picks up where he left off.

  71. Is it possible that the Braves’ brass see more reason to look forward to the next few years than most of the people on this board?

  72. Yeah, let me clarify: I would not trade for Bedard if I didn’t think we’d re-sign him. I think we’d re-sign him.

    And Dix says it perfectly in #76 above.

    Alex R.,

    I have doubts that Brien Taylor is in Des Moines, Iowa. Otherwise, love your post.


    Yes, look at the Yankees, what with all their playoff appearances—with several should-be championship teams—during the times in which their farm system was depleted. Man, it must have stunk to have been the Yankees.

    In all seriousness, I realize that we can’t go buy elite FAs like the Yankees do, but (1) we’re in the NL and don’t really have to, and (2) have you noticed that we haven’t made the playoffs the last couple of seasons? Couple that fact with the fact that our best players won’t be great producers or even on the team for very much longer, and it sure seems like a good idea to do another big-time prospects-for-all-star trade to at least give the current group a good chance to make a run.

  73. Parish @81,

    I think that’s entirely possible. At least as far as pitching is concerned, though, I have no idea why.

  74. I don’t see why everyone’s talking about Bedard. Sure, he’s good, but the need for a CF is much greater than the need for an SP. We have six or seven guys who would be productive in the rotation. I have no idea who’s going to be in center field on opening day.

  75. Justin @80,

    How successful exactly has that balance been? Third-place finishes or first-round playoff exits…woo-hoo.

    I’d be in favor of trying a different approach, one in which we maximize our chances, even under a $90 million budget, to win right now and not worry about our ability to field an 81-win team in 2010.

  76. #82

    True – I probably used Des Moines as an example since there’s been so much damned Iowa chatter all week with the caucuses.

    I also agree we can resign Bedard and frankly, I don’t know why so many of you on here are so sure we can’t keep Teixiera.

    I really believe Smoltz and Glavine are likely to retire (hence the need for Bedard), A. Jones’ contract is now gone, and we all know hampton’s finally comes off the books. Sure, Marc, we won’t have the Yankee-Sawx payroll, but at around $90, we can ensure trying to keep the right players.

  77. @75. Rob when your best starting pitcher is 41, your best position player is 36 coming off of a 3 year best 135 game season, your second best position player is in his walk year, your league is weak, and a stud starter puts you way in front of your competition you leverage your farm system. If the two difference maker star players were younger then I would be all for sustaining very goodness but they aren’t and none of our young contributors are difference makers. Good players yes but not the caliber of Chipper and John Smoltz. If 2 years of Bedard equaled out to 2 years of league dominance and true superiority over our NL rivals then I’d be happy to live with some lean years until we rebuilt.

    @77 Parish right now Jordan Schafer looks like Torii Hunter (although the comparison I’ve heard is Grady Sizemore) but does the name Andy Marte ring a bell? George Lombard? for us old timers Brad Komminsk?

  78. Of course all this talk of Bedard is really moot. The Orioles and their disfunctional front office won’t part with Bedard and try to rebuild what was once the model franchise in MLB. I’ve got to hand it to Billy Beane. When he sets out to do something he does it all the way. Trading your best pitcher and your best postion player when a lot of teams with the A’s base talent would have been thinking that they were just one or two players from contention is ballsy.

  79. I hadn’t really realized until you said it that Swisher was their best hitter. That’s sort of sad…and is a good indication that they were far more than a couple of players away from being in contention.

  80. @ 87

    There is no such thing as a no miss prospect. For all the Brad Komminsk’s we’ve had, there has been a Chipper Jones, or a Jeff Francouer. But from what I’ve read, Jordan Schafer has a chance to be a good solid CF.

  81. I agree with Alex–you can build a very good team on $90 mm. But I believe the Braves could spend considerably more if the ownership wanted to. Cash flow really isn’t the issue with sports teams, it’s the appreciation and there’s no reason to think they won’t keep increasing in value. I can understand why Liberty (or whomever) would not want to lose millions and millions in cash flow, but they could afford to take some losses and make it up when they sell the team. The point is,with the new revenue streams in baseball and (although this doesn’t apply to the Braves particularly) the new, TAXPAYER-BUILD stadiums, there’s no reason that teams, except the Yanks and Red Sox, couldn’t spend more than they are. You don’t necessarily have to match the Yankees and Red Sox player for player and dollar for dollar to still build a very good team. I mean, as good as the Red Sox are, no one is comparing them to the 1927 Yankees. I just see a sort of defeatist attitude among the rest of baseball–including, to some extent, the Braves–because they feel like they can’t or don’t want to keep up with the Yankees and Boston and they are settling for “being competitive” rather than trying to be great.

    I certainly don’t want the Braves to be the Toronto Blue Jays–two Championships and then nothing since. And you certainly can’t continually trade off your best prospects; that didn’t work even for the Yankees. But this nickel and diming that the Braves do after talking about spending “millions more” on players is irritating. This is not a team without resources.

  82. For all the Brad Komminsk’s we’ve had, there has been a Chipper Jones, or a Jeff Francouer.

    There have been many more Komminsks than Francoeurs and many more Francoeurs than Joneses.

  83. @90 Surley you aren’t stating that the Braves have had just as many minor league successes as failures? The ratio is the reverse. For every Chipper there are 10 Komminsks maybe 20. And thats my point. Brad Komminsk was supposed to be the next Dale Murphy just as Jordan Schafer is supposed to be the next Grady Sizemore. The odds against Jordan attaining that level of performance are staggering. Marte was a consensus major league star to every stathead and scout in baseball. So far he isn’t.

    Marc, Do you know Liberty plans on selling the team? Take losses? Why? And as we have seen its not the amount of money (the Yankess are the classic example) but how you spend the money that assures a high quality team. In recent history its proven that a low spender (Dbacks, Angels, Marlins) can win the World Series.

  84. Stu,

    As there will continue to be (more Komminsk than Francoeur and more Francoeur than Jones).

    Matt Clement’s deal looked reasonable. However, there is no real reason to believe he would beat out Morton, Bennett, Reyes, and Jurrjens (or even more than one or two of them). AND, IMUHO that even more points out how we may have a deal late in spring training if one of our guys catches fire.

    For example, early last year Dan Smith was throwing mid-90’s and dominating at AA. He went up to Richmond, got hurt, went back to Gulf Coast League for rehab, and then went back to Richmond. His K/9 early was about 8. After he came back up after the injury it was 4. Also, his walks went up. Which way is it going to go? Is it an injury that will heal or is it a permanent reduction or is it something in between? Nobody knows now.

  85. I’m not exactly sure why, but I find this hilarious:

    Cookie Monster: Why did the AM Jump have to leave? What am I going to read when I devour my cookies in the morning?

    DJ Gallo: (2:36 PM ET ) I hope you are miserable, Cookie Monster. You are a bad person. Always gorging yourself on dessert treats when there, on your own street, is a fellow puppet living in a trash can eating scraps. You are despicable.

  86. For the record “statheads” were always skeptical of Marte

    Someone said they would rather have two years of league dominance and then suffer through the lean years, but I doubt when those lean years come you are going to sit up at night and console yourself with phrases like: We may be 62-99, and in last place for the fourth year running, but we won that championship back in 2008, so we’re all good.

  87. @89 Stu
    What I said was this:
    Trading your best pitcher and your best postion player when a lot of teams with the A’s base talent would have been thinking that they were just one or two players from contention is ballsy.

    I was saying that a lot of other teams would be looking to acquire talent rather than start rebuilding if they had Haren, Blanton, Swisher, Houston Street types on their roster. But Beane decided that now was the time to rebuild. Ballsy.

  88. I am obviously in the minority here, but I would much rather contend year-in, year-out than to be the Florida Marlins (Win a Series, then cellar dwellers for 4 years or so – I really don’t think ya’ll know what you are asking for). So we haven’t won a series since ’95; you can’t tell me that every season since hasn’t been at least a bit intriguing.

  89. There are always more Brad Komminsks than Chipper Joneses, but that’s why analysis is so important, because then we can figure out how likely it is that he’ll be the former versus the latter. If he was all tools, no refinement, I’d feel a lot less sanguine about him. But it sounds like his defense is already very good, and Keith Law’s uncertainty about his long swing notwithstanding he’s a solid offensive prospect. I really, really don’t want him to see major league action before September 2008, but if he gets proper time for development, there’s no reason he can’t become a very useful player. After all, if he hits like Francoeur and fields well, he’ll be one of the better center fielders in baseball.

  90. but I doubt when those lean years come you are going to sit up at night and console yourself with phrases like: We may be 62-99, and in last place for the fourth year running, but we won that championship back in 2008, so we’re all good.

    Well, you are wrong. I would gladly take a period of suck for a championship.

    Also, there are 162 games in a season. (Or would I be talking to myself in the middle of the night before the last day of the regular season?)

    Also, I highly doubt we’d be 100-loss bad.

    I wasn’t disagreeing with you.

  91. @96 ‘For the record “statheads” were always skeptical of Marte’

    Really? Baseball Prospectus’ darling child and number one prospect 2 years in a row??

  92. Stu,

    I said the same thing , our down years wouldn’t be Marlins bad, we still have good players, we just wouldn’t be capable of winning a title and making the playoffs would be a stretch in the down years. No one is advocating trading all the major league ready players away for prospects. The down years would simply be the result of losing high quality major leaguers to retirement and not having hall of fame caliber players to replace them with. They’d be replaced with ordinary players from the farm system, whatever the best option is after trading the best prospects for the run at the title. That’s not so bad.

    And also, I would definitely console myself with that 2008 title as we lose 100 games. I’d remember how awesome and exciting it was to win and would look forward to getting back there. Losing 100 games doesn’t really hurt worse than losing in the playoffs 13/14 times. It just isn’t fun to follow the team through those periods. But like I said, I don’t expect we’d ever be bottom dweller bad.

  93. I’m afraid I’m with the win-now bunch. When Chipper & Smoltz are gone, I’m not going to cry about any crappy record we have. I just won’t.

    I’ve been through re-building periods that got us nowhere. IMO, if this team picked up one good starting pitcher, they would be the odds-on fave to win the East & perhaps the NL.

    Can that happen? No idea. Would I cry if we sent unproven minor leaguers for a Bedard or Blanton? Hell, no. And I wouldn’t care if those players hit the majors & morphed into Joe DiMaggio. You do what you gotta do to win & don’t regret it.

    I disagree with those who believe getting another CF trumps getting a quality starting pitcher. I’m not crazy about the OF we got from Houston, but if we scored another bad-ass starter, the idea of a ping-hitting CF wouldn’t keep me up nights.

  94. @98 Dude I’ve was a Braves fan through the 80’s. Nuff said.

    Dix – well said.

    I could live with an all or nothing title run now because I have faith that eventually the team would be rebuilt by smart baseball people.

  95. If Smoltz goes down for the season, it’s over. I don’t care what Jeff Bennett does in spring training.

    Smoltz, Chipper or Teixeira needing to miss more time than maybe just one of them getting a short 15-day DL stint would be the end of the season.

    As for “rebuilding”, no. Life is too short to be thinking about the 2013 season.

  96. I’m anti-rebuilding. Most of the time, it doesn’t work, and in a few years you wind up trading the few good players you’ve developed and starting over. Take, for example, the Pirates, who have been doing this since 1993, and the Royals, who have been doing this since 1990.

    I’m pro-reloading. In baseball in particular you can have a strong farm system even picking at the end of the draft.

    There are parts here of a good team even post Chipper/Smoltz — McCann, KJ, Escobar. Hold onto Schafer (not that the Braves are at all likely to trade him) but if you can get an ace without dealing him go for it.

  97. Johnny,

    I agree that you don’t have to spend like the Yankees to win and I realize the Braves can’t spend like the Yankees. But, by the same token, it doesn’t hurt to spend either. My point is that the Braves have arbitrarily limited their payroll to avoid taking cash flow losses when they will more than recover those losses eventually. It’s true that they won’t recover if they never sell the team but very few teams have the same owner forever. Eventually, Liberty would recoup whatever losses they incurred (within reason)by increasing the payroll. Low spenders can certainly win the World Series but they aren’t going to be contenders consistently and I think teams owe it to their fans to try to win, especially when the tax payers are financing the stadiums. These teams cry poverty when they are raking in the dollars from the various revenue streams. This isn’t all profit, of course, but it should justify spending more. If the Braves had a payroll of, say, $100 mm instead of $90 million, I think they would be a better team–assuming they spent wisely which I think is a fair assumption.

  98. I’ll say it again: Ian Snell

    He’d cost a lot less in terms of talent than Bedard. The Braves made a competitive offer on Haren. Why not?

  99. I guess that my win now bent is predicated on my belief that guys like Chipper Jones, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine are probably once in a half life time players. And as I am 2/3 done I want another World Series.

    Ububba you’ve stated my case in a far more succinct and understandable way than my bloated attempts. Thanks.

  100. Count me in the year-in-year-out category. Three years of suck would damage this franchise more than many, as Cliff said better than I could @53. Our fans are fickle even in good times.

    I wouldn’t sell out for Bedard. Yes, he was great last year, for the first time, at age 28. I find that just a bit sketchy.

  101. Remember guys, there is a lot of difference between getting Bedard or getting Ian Snell or Blanton.

    Bedard is a front line pitcher. He would be our third starter in a sense, but he would really be a 1B Smoltz 1, Hudson 1B, etc.). Meaning, getting him makes us awfully tough in the post season. Getting him makes us able to survive and make the postseason even if Smoltz or Hudson goes down (even if Hampton doesn’t league average). Getting him means that we become the NL favorite if we don’t create a STARTING position hole.

    Snell MIGHT be a 2 someday but for now is a three. Blanton is a 3 or a 4 in the NL. We have James who almost met league average 3 last year and Glavine would did a little better than that. We have Reyes who has more topside than James but is less proven. We have Hampton who IF (and I know it is a BIG if) he can stay fairly healthy has the ABILITY to pitch as a 2.

    Snell, is o.k., but don’t give up too much for him. Blanton really doesn’t help us much.

  102. Cliff, landing Blanton would be like having two Tim Hudsons. I’d say he’s a #2 in the NL, and would greatly strengthen the Braves rotation.

  103. #92


    I don’t know the exact percentages, but the likelihood of a “top” prospect actually becoming a superstar on a Major League team is around 1%.

    There are very very few Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez’s, David Ortiz’s, Greg Maddux’s etc.

    MOST Majro League players fall somewhere between Aaron Rowand and Omar Infante.

    Obviously, there’s some strong evidence to be “hopeful” about Schaefer, but again, Brad Komminsk, Todd Van Poppel, Brien Taylor, Andy Marte. There’s so many more of those guys who become also rans and out of the league.

    That’s why, if you can acquire a proven, 28 year old ACE in Erik Bedard, it’s pretty much a no brainer (and as Stu said, very re-signable).

  104. Mac,

    Re loading to me is building around a core of great players. We’ve done it for years around a great core of Chipper, Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux and Andruw.

    Post Smoltz, Chipper: (if Tex leaves which I think he does)
    Hudson, Escobar, Francouer, McCann, KJ, James. those are the the best players on the team. Pretty good players but not a strong enough core for re loading. No matter how you slice it once Chipper and Smoltzie leave we are re building.

  105. It’s a lot higher than one percent. Here, let’s see. BP, 2004.

    Baseball Prospectus | Articles | Top 50 Prospects

    1. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota
    2. Jeremy Reed, OF, Chicago (AL)
    3. Andy Marte, 3B, Atlanta
    4. Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee
    5. David Wright, 3B, New York (NL)

    That’s three stars out of the top five, and I’m not ready to give up on Marte yet. Reed is a bust.

    6. Edwin Jackson, RHP, Los Angeles
    7. Zack Greinke, RHP, Kansas City
    8. B.J. Upton, SS, Tampa Bay
    9. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee
    10. Kazuo Matsui, SS, New York (NL)

    One outright bust, one Japanese player they didn’t know what to do with who turned into an okay player. Greinke and Weeks are okay. Upton looks like a star.

    11. Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota
    12. Scott Kazmir, LHP, New York (NL)
    13. Bobby Crosby, SS, Oakland
    14. Casey Kotchman, 1B, Anaheim
    15. Alexis Rios, CF, Toronto

    Morneau, Kazmir, and Rios are stars. Crosby isn’t very good, Kotchman is ordinary.

    16. Ryan Wagner, RHP, Cincinnati
    17. Guillermo Quiroz, C, Toronto
    18. Jeff Mathis, C, Anaheim
    19. Dallas McPherson, 3B, Anaheim
    20. J.J. Hardy, SS, Milwaukee

    Ouch. Hardy is pretty good.

    21. Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia
    22. Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Los Angeles
    23. Dustin McGowan, RHP, Toronto
    24. Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland
    25. James Loney, 1B, Los Angeles

    Two stars, Hamels and Sizemore. I’ll stop here, but the rate of prospect > star is pretty good.

  106. Blanton:

    Last year 3.95 ERA Also, 230 innings which to me is a negative. He is an accident waiting to happen)

    Career: 4.10 ERA

    I don’t think there is enough difference in AL and NL to make that # 2 starter material. Besides, nobody else’s offers for Blanton look like 2 starter offers.

  107. McCann’s most-similar hitter is Tony Lazzeri. Among catchers, the most-similar is Yogi Berra. Francoeur’s is Greg Luzinski. You think you can’t compete with two hitters like that as your stars? And what if Schafer really is Grady Sizemore — or Grady Sizemore Plus, as the Braves think?

  108. Among catchers, the most-similar is Yogi Berra. Francoeur’s is Greg Luzinski. You think you can’t compete with two hitters like that as your stars?

    Not only can you compete in the NL, you’d blow away the competition for the All-Ugly team. Chuck James can be our Don Mossi.

  109. That sounds insanely optimistic, but then again, Sizemore essentially has stayed exactly the same player he was at age 22. He’s a very good player — .280/.380/.480 good — but he hasn’t really shown much of a growth curve.

    If Schafer can start out anywhere near there and actually improve from there, then, hey, he’d be better. But if Sizemore actually improves in the way you’d expect, then he’ll be awfully hard to match.

  110. Ok, so a bad anology. But at least it got some discussion. My point was, many times a guy painted as a “sure thing” doesnt pan out. However, our farm system continues to churn out quality players. I dont mind trading some of our chips, but I’d like to hold on to Schafer.

  111. I like the Braves offense already- we have a nice combo of vets(chipper, tex) and young players(frenchie, mccann). I really think we just underachieved last season. I think we should actually get some more bullpen help… the braves bullpen wasnt as solid as i expected it to be, with all the new additions.. both our bats and our starting pitching are pretty good already.

  112. sansho1’s claim that Bedard is a one-year wonder got me playing around with some stats. Bedard since age 25 (WARNING: this is going to be lengthy):

    Age — 25 / 26 / 27 / 28
    ERA+ — 100 / 108 / 121 /146
    WHIP — 1.60 / 1.38 / 1.35 / 1.09
    IP — 137.3 / 141.7 / 196.3 / 182
    GS — 26 / 24 / 33 / 28
    IP/GS — 5.13 / 5.90 / 5.95 / 6.5
    K/9 — 7.93 / 7.94 / 7.84 / 10.93
    K/BB — 1.70 / 2.19 / 2.48 / 3.88
    HR/9 — 0.85 / 0.64 / 0.73 / 0.94

    Yes, last year represented a jump from his previous production, but he’d already been on a steady progression and his Age 27 season was very good. Still, he absolutely went to a new level last season, as evidenced by that K/9 figure. He looks like a candidate to fall back to earth a bit (keeping in mind, of course, that he is in his prime years and his prior year was not too shabby).

    So I tried to think of another semi-late-blooming power pitcher to try to compare him with and the first name that came to mind was Aaron Harang. Harang’s Age 25-28 Seasons, for comparison:

    Age — 25 / 26 / 27 / 28
    ERA+ — 80 / 88 / 112 /124
    WHIP — 1.42 / 1.43 / 1.27 / 1.27
    IP — 76.3 / 161 / 277.7 / 234.3
    GS — 15 / 28 / 32 / 35
    IP/GS — 4.82 / 5.75 / 6.61 / 6.67
    K/9 — 4.95 / 6.99 / 6.93 / 8.30
    K/BB — 2.21 / 2.36 / 3.20 / 3.86
    HR/9 — 1.30 / 1.45 / 0.94 / 1.04

    There’s another guy who was significantly better at 28 than at 25 and who, while he had a good Age 27 Season, stepped it up a notch, particularly w/r/t Ks, in his Age 28 Season. No, Harang’s jump wasn’t quite as drastic, and yes, there are plenty of other pitchers who have one great season and flame out, but Bedard has shown steady progression and was thought of as having ace potential.

    Barring injury, I don’t think it’s very likely that Bedard is any worse than a bona fide #2 for the foreseeable future, and I think it’s quite possible that he maintains his status as a #1, though he may not be one of the 2 or 3 best pitchers in the game year in and year out.

    FWIW, here was Harang’s 2007 (Age 29) line:

    ERA+ — 125
    WHIP — 1.14
    IP — 231.7
    GS — 34
    IP/GS — 6.81
    K/9 — 8.47
    K/BB — 4.19
    HR/9 — 1.09

    (He got even better.)

  113. I’ve read the Grady Sizemore comparisons a lot. I think I recall the DOB blog Mac mentions. I’d still include him in a trade for a plus starting pitcher. The guy hasn’t played above high A.

    On the 2004 top list. I dunno Mac, a very good year or is this true of EVERY top 50 prospect list? Or even MOST of them.

    You think that a team could be built around Yogi Berra and Greg Luzinski? Ok I guess anything is possible.

  114. Good stuff, Stu. I was busy trying to come up with my own comps to support my doubts. Bronson Arroyo came to mind — best I can do on short notice. I’ll give it some more thought.

  115. Stu, the key to both Harang and Bedard was what they did from age 26 to age 27. Harang went from a fringe back-of-the-rotation starter to a #2/#3, and then became an ace by age 28. Bedard jumped from a #3 to an ace.

    So what can we expect from Chuck James’s growth curve?

  116. I don’t think it was a particularly good year for BP. Here’s 2003.

    January 29, 2003 – Top 40 Prospects Roundtable

    There are some misses there, but Teixeira was #1, Jose Reyes #4, Victor Martinez #7, Joe Mauer #9. BTW, Brandon Phillips would have been considered a bust until this season, so there’s still reason for patience with Marte.


    Baseball Prospectus | Articles | Top 40 Prospects

    Not as strong of a list, but Blalock #1, Beckett #2, Nick Johnson #4, Teixeira #10. Another guy — Carlos Pena — who would have been considered a bust until this season.

  117. I guess our difference of opinion is what constitutes re loading as to re building. The 90’s Braves were constantly re loading. The complementary parts varied in quality from a star like Gary Sheffield to a journeyman like Russ Ortiz but the core was pretty constant. Chipper, Andruw, Smoltz, Maddux Glavine. Now Chipper Smoltz and Hudson. You’ll have a hard time convicing me that McCann and Francouer are going to be players you complement with other players to build a consistent winner despite their comparables.

  118. That 1951 team was pretty good. You sure the team was built around Yogi and not that top 3 rotation of 2 20 game winners and that slug of a number 3 that won only 17 games?

    take it easy just trying to be funny.

  119. That’s an odd time to be establishing schools. According to the Great and Powerful Wikipedia, UK only got its name in 1916. Apparently Kansas has always been the University of Kansas. Maybe they just thought “UK” was an unsightly letter combination.

  120. Wallace, who turns 90 on May 9, is every bit the legend in his field that Clemens is on the pitching mound, but it isn’t as if “60 Minutes” is throwing a particularly intimidating fastball these days.

    A leaked article in the Los Angeles Times suggests that an unnamed newsroom rat supplied Andy Rooney and Mike Wallace with non-FDA approved organic V8 for at least 20 years. After the arrest of their supplier, Rooney and Wallace both aged noticeably onscreen, and both lost 2-3 miles an hour off their fastball.

  121. Man, I thought my beloved KU was much younger than that, oh well, thanks Dix for looking that up. I guess we’ll never know why they are KU and not UK….one of those unsolved mysteries like how Pete Orr finds work in the majors….

  122. The long rumored Alabama-Clemson game has been officially scheduled for August 30, 2008 in the Georgia Dome, brought to you by Chick-fil-A!

    That should be a good game. I really like Clemson’s RBs. They were a couple who got away from Shula.

    Now let’s work on getting a Florida State rematch. Their fans were pretty good, and I’d love to have another shot at the ‘Noles.

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