Where Do We Go From Here 2010.1: What About the Offense?

Leaving aside the managerial question — which everybody seems to think is basically settled anyway — the Braves have some decisions to make. Let’s start out by defining what we know.

We can be pretty certain that:

Those are the givens; barring something remarkable, the Braves are set at two positions and one bench spot. We can be slightly less sure of the following, but they’re extremely probable:

Lord knows a lot of people would like to see the back of McLouth, but his contract ($6.5 million in 2011, a certain $1.2 million buyout of his $10.65 million 2012 salary) makes it essentially impossible. You’d have to be a maniac to take that off the Braves’ hands, though I’m sure the Braves are looking for the right maniac. Prado would seemingly be as sure as McCann and Heyward, but it’s just possible that the Braves would deal him as he enters his arbitration years. He’ll probably play second… unless third base is unexpectedly open. Everybody thinks that Freeman is a lock to play first base, and who am I to disagree? Money’s going to be tight, and he will work cheap. More questionable are the following:

In Chipper’s case, the question is if he can rehab his knee and return to the team. I don’t doubt his will, but as his age, it has to be a question. My guess is that there’s a drop-dead date that he and the Braves have agreed upon, probably in December, when he’ll tell them if he thinks he can play. As unfond of the AAG Experience as I was (really, guys, you thought Yunel was a whiner and you like this guy?) I don’t see that the Braves have any choice but to pick up his (reasonable, $3 million) option for 2011. There really is nobody else who looks like a full-time shortstop in the organization.

So basically, we have seven of eight spots filled for 2011:

C McCann (w/Ross)
1B Freeman
2B Prado
3B Jones
SS Gonzalez
LF
CF McLouth
RF Heyward

Put the right guy in left field, and that might be a playoff team. However, it’s not that easy. I think Jayson Werth is a pipe dream.

The bench positions, other than catcher, are more up-in-the-air. My guess about the incumbents is:

  • Omar Infante will be traded;
  • The Braves will try to re-sign one of Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske as a reserve and first base insurance;
  • Melky Cabrera will be non-tendered, and hopefully thrown out of an airplane;
  • The Braves will make an effort to sign Rick Ankiel to an extension, and upon failure turn down his $6 million option for 2011;
  • Likewise, the team will try to sign Matt Diaz to backup money, and if he refuses not offer arbitration;
  • And they will let Brooks Conrad go for the sake of everyone’s sanity.

Those are all guesses, of course, but I can’t believe they’d take Melky back after that display, plus at his current rate of expansion he’d weigh 350 pounds by January. Infante just seems like he’d be more valuable in trade than he would as a reserve, though considering the Braves’ injury situation that might not be the case.

214 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here 2010.1: What About the Offense?”

  1. Addendum: Everybody thinks Fredi has the manager’s job and that it might even be announced tomorrow. I won’t post to that effect (Furcal Rule) but I think it’s a mistake.

  2. I think an Infante/ Young pitcher might land us an outfield bat. The Cardinals have an outfielder and could use a young arm and middle infielder.

  3. Agree with most of this, although (a) I think AGony’s option is only $2.5 million, and (b) I’m not sure why they’d try to extend Ankiel, when we know they’re going to be stuck with McLouth.

    EDIT: And, if Infante is traded, I bet they’ll hang onto Conrad.

  4. Well, the position player outlook on the farm is bleak. If the Braves need a fourth outfielder from the farm, it would probably be Wilkin Ramirez, who the Braves got from the freaking Tigers for a PTBNL or cash, and who hit .234/.306/.458 in the minors. I want Blanco back.

  5. I thought they already released Ramirez. I’m pretty sure the fourth outfielder from the minors would be ryan c’s boy, Matt Young.

    I want Blanco back, too.

  6. Woke up this morning, felt like a part of me is missing, then I realize the baseball season is over for us.

    Mac, great analysis, only that I disagree with you on the following:

    – I think the Chipper thing will last into spring training, which means they will hang onto to Infante as an insurance.
    – Why do we want to get rid of Conrad so bad? He is a good bench player to have.
    – I don’t see us signing Ankiel back as you know Boras would ask for more than we want to pay, and you don’t want him that badly.
    – I think they will sign a full-time centerfielder and may go with Nate/Diaz platoon in leftfield. Nate can’t play center anymore, and I think the Braves realize that. Which makes me think even more that Wren will sign a righthanded bat who can play centerfield. You know it’s not going to be Werth…yes, I am thinking of Cody Ross.

    Why do you don’t like Fredi? Who would be your choice? I think we can do a lot worse than Fredi. At least Fredi has shown he can run a ship pretty good in Miami.

  7. Colby Rasmus seems like something we could work out. We would have to give up Infante, one of Venters/ Kimbrell and maybe a minor league pitcher.

  8. I think Fredi has Bobby’s weaknesses but hasn’t proven to have Bobby’s strengths. It also suggests to me that the team isn’t really thinking about the situation and just making a comfortable decision.

  9. @15 You don’t think Fredi has shown enough in Miami? I think he and Bobby share the same weaknesses though, that I definitely agree.

    Just curious, who would be your choice?

  10. @18 The candidates would consist of three persons: Fredi, TP, and Eddie Perez!!! That will take care of the minority topic, ha.

  11. We’ll get a non tendered corner Ofer. I posted a while back that I thought Ludwick would be non tendered by the Pads. Now that St. Louis writer is blogging the same thing. He is the type of player the Braves will pursue. Theoretically a LF is easier to acquire than a CF that can hit. The Braves just cant seem to buy the theory.

    The stuff that guy wrote about Rasmus is intriguing. But IMHO it will take much more than Minor. Your talking Jurrjens and/or Delgado. And I am sure the Cards will ask about Teheran.

    We can live with McLouth in CF if we get a corner bat. And I agree that we are going to have to given the contract he has. In any case IMHO Good McLouth > Ellsbury so lets hope for the best.

  12. If we can get a center fielder that would allow Diaz and McLouth to platoon in left.

    God this would suck. We are closing in on a solid decade without getting any production from left field and that combination certainly wouldn’t break the trend. Wow, I hate this organization’s approach to filling what should be hitter’s positions.

  13. Is Infante really not a full-time shortstop option? He’s played scattered games there throughout his career, but I confess to not paying attention to how well he handled it.

    I assume this year was a stat fluke and he’s maybe the best trade bait we have, but if Wren’s bought into the All-Star thing maybe they let AAG walk?

    Cheaper certainly than keeping them both on the roster.

  14. Shall we list the leftfielders by year, post-Klesko? Let’s.

    Williams
    Sanders
    Surhoff
    Jones
    Jones
    Thomas
    Johnson
    Langerhans
    Diaz
    Blanco
    Anderson
    Cabrera

  15. Hate the Marlins. First they block the Braves from Cody Ross, then trade him to a team that uses him to knock the Braves out of the postseason; and now their former fired dud of a manager is likely coming here.

  16. Who cares who the manager is? Players win games. We need better players. One good outfielder would help a lot but making that happen is going to be tough.

    I tend to think Chipper will have a decent year at the plate if his body is willing. If not then we’re in trouble. A healthy Prado will be fine there, but Prado playing 2B is *so* much better since his offensive production there is above average while at 3B it’s more like league average (well, probably a little better than that, but not enough SLG for my tastes).

    Freeman and Canizares platoon at 1B? Hopefully Freeman will still get plenty of AB’s against lefties. I despise platoons, but if we get another Bobby disciple then it’ll be platoon-city again.

    I’d probably try to keep one or two of Glaus/Hinske/Diaz. On the whole though I think obsessing over the bench players is a complete waste of resources, and one of Bobby’s faults. Get a few veterans that can handle pinch-hit duty and the rest can be Brooks Conrad clones. Your good young players should be playing every day in the minors – ready to be called up if an injury happens. The problem is that we have none of those (good young players in the minors).

    Let’s try to get a LF or CF that can play every day and not need a platoon. Then just see what happens. We’re not going to spend money, but maybe we can trade some low-minors pitching. I’m still undecided on that topic though – I tend to think that we’re just not going to be very good in the next couple of years, so why trade away guys that can help us a couple of years from now – it would have to be nearly a too-good-to-be-true type of deal for me to want to give away one of the prospects. I’d probably trade Minor though, but we won’t get much for him I don’t think.

  17. Robert,

    I agree, unless we can get Rasmus. I am not sure there are a ton of left fielders out there to be had for the price we want to pay.

    I really think the organization put all their eggs in the Jones, Schafer, Heyward outfield. Only one of those have panned out.

    The lack of depth in our system as far as infielders and outfielders go is really depressing.

  18. If we trade Infante, who do we get to back up AAG? Or as we will call him, “The guy we really want to play” or “The backup Quarterback”

  19. 27 — The Braves obviously think Canizares isn’t major league material. Look for Freeman to play everyday with Hinske possibly re-signed as insurance.

  20. I tend to agree with Mac that there should be more of a search and maybe some thinking outside the box. But that’s unlikely. This organization does things the way it always has and is not going to change. That’s not all bad because the team has had success but it engenders some staleness perhaps. It seems as if they had decided as soon as Bobby announced that his successor would be one of his boys.

  21. I continue to sing the tragic ballad of Chris Chambliss. Now that we have a handful of black managers who’ve gotten repeat jobs, it’s hard for me to understand why he hasn’t gotten one. Hitting coach for multiple World Series teams, won Minor League Manager of the Year. I don’t get it.

    I’d also take Torre for a couple of years and name Eddie bench coach with the understanding that he’s being groomed. Also, Torre has to wear the 1984 uniform during a throwback game and Pascual Perez has to throw out the first pitch in the third inning.

  22. Stu,

    I think they did. They gave him a shot and he was terrible. I would like to think they didn’t, but I think they did.

  23. I’m okay with Fredi. He will manage the clubhouse well and will finish off Venters arm for good. The organization will put good coaches around him. We could do much worse.

    They real question is: Who will be on his staff? I think McDowell and Eddie will stay, everyone else is probably up in the air.

  24. 37 — No, Brandon Jones didn’t really get a shot at a job in Atlanta…because he didn’t hit in AAA.

  25. @30 – Canizares can hit a little, we’re talking about someone that might get 200 ABs and only be there to help “bring Freeman along slowly”. Basically we wouldn’t be asking him to do all that much.

    The big 2011 question mark is really Chipper. If he plays we’ll probably be pretty good. If he doesn’t then we have no viable replacement for him and the team will probably look a lot like it did down the stretch this season – like a 75-win team.

    Freeman and Heyward are huge uncertains also. No reason to think they won’t perform ok, but it’s not a lock. Freeman’s constant injuries and somewhat weird swing do concern me, but overall I still think the sky is the limit. A real hitting coach would be nice here.

  26. When he was the leading the R-Braves to the Governor’s Cup and he was the forth rated prospect in the organization. There were a lot of people penciling him in left field for a long time.

  27. Oops..meant Heyward’s injuries in post 44. I think I’m still thrown for a loop that a guy named Freddie Freeman is white – it’s so very confusing. Lol.

  28. So are they going to announce Gonzalez at this press conference they said Bobby would be at tomorrow?

  29. Does anyone have salary projections for next year and how much the Braves have to spend this offseason?

  30. 44 — If the Braves thought Canizares was major league material he would have stayed up in past seasons. I don’t think having him up to start against tough LHPs is a bad idea, and I wished he had stayed in Atlanta, but the Braves apparently don’t think it’s a good idea. He barely even played the field at all in Gwinnett this year, he was basically the everyday DH.

    45 — Okay, saying Jones didn’t hit in Triple A is a bit much, but he never hit enough there for the Braves to think he was a legitimate major leaguer. He had 166 PA across 3 seasons in Atlanta, so the Braves never really even gave him the opportunity to be the left-handed side of the Diaz platoon.

  31. 45—Do you have any of these people’s names, or any other evidence that this actually happened? Some prospect folks were excited about his potential for about half a season, but it’s ridiculous to think the Braves ever put any of their “eggs” in that basket.

  32. I thought going into the 2008 season (was it 2008?) that the Braves were planning to platoon Jones with Diaz, but he didn’t look good in spring and they wound up going with Blanco.

  33. @50 – agree…there’s sometimes a difference between what the Braves think and what actually is (see Cabrera, Melky). Maybe they won’t platoon Freeman at all, let’s hope they don’t have to. Canizares still seems like a good bench/pinch-hit candidate and the Braves tend to reward long-time AAA players for time served.

  34. You know, Fredi is in a no win situation. He is going to be the guy who replaces Bobby. Anything short of a playoff berth and people will be calling for his job.

  35. Yeah, it’s a tough spot for Fredi. Then again, being guaranteed the first crack at running the team for one of the best-run organizations in baseball less than 6 months after being flat-out fired by a mediocre club is a pretty good deal.

  36. Personally, I’d like to see Conrad brought back in the same role that he played for the majority of this year.

  37. I like the Fredi hire. I think Eddie and Roger will be the only coaches retained. I also want Conrad back on this team next year

  38. Fredi is the safe choice. It is the predictable and uninspired choice, but that is how Frank Wren and this organization operates.

    For all the credit our scouting department gets, why is there not another OF bat in the organization? Our roster is fucked.

  39. If Fredi is going to be the manager I hope he names the following to round out his staff:
    Pitching – McDowell
    Hitting – Julio Franco
    Bench – Eddie Perez
    1st base – Marquis Grissom
    3rd base – Hubbard

  40. like the fredi deal. of the real candidates, he’s the one i’d want the most.

    mac, i agree that infante might be the most tradeable brave, but i think they’ll hold on to him. i really hope the braves will shop alex.

    my colby rasmus for minor, mclouth, and alex is a pipe dream, but i still see us matching up with cards.

    matt young better be a 4th outfielder next year. he put up an OBP of .380 with 39 sb to 7 cs. it’ll be a pure disgrace if he’s not.

    also, barbaro canizares is a perfect solution to an occasional platoon with freddie and bench bat. if the braves are strapped for cash, there’s no reason spending 4-5 million on bench players that they could get equal production from for less than 1 million. barbaro and matt both put up great seasons and are 2 things that the braves desperately need: speed and a rh power bat off the bench.

    unlike last year, where it seemed the only tradeable asset the braves owned was vazquez, there are many names that other teams will find interesting. it’s going to be a busy offseason. hopefully the braves try to lock up some of their young talent before march.

    WINTER SUCKS. GO BRAVES!
    @64 if the braves can find a taker for lowe, mclouth, or kawakami, the roster could be very exciting next year.

  41. @56 It’s tough, but he may as well go back to the environment which he is the most comfortable with.

  42. Mac, I understand your trepidation at hiring a guy who seems a lot like Bobby rather than conducting a proper search. But I also agree with you that McDowell has worked out about as well as can be, and I actually take that as evidence that the Braves’ personnel search process is pretty good.

    The other thing is: I’m not actually sure that there is a managerial search process that works. So, while it would have been nice for the Braves to trot out a dumbshow of objectivity, I don’t know how you actually evaluate the level of success an outsider is likely to have with a given team. (For example: is there an interview question that the Mets could feasibly have asked to determine that Willie Randolph’s teams would be terrific from April to August, then utterly crumble in September?)

    I haven’t watched Fredi closely, and I’m sure he does a lot of things that will piss me off — stupid player substitutions, sacrifice bunts, overreliance on a couple of bullpen arms, every little way that Bobby has pissed me off over the last 20 years — but his Marlins were always a good ballclub who played above their heads. He doesn’t wow me, but if Wren gets him good talent, I have a fair degree of confidence that he can keep the team competitive.

  43. Guys, these past 4 or 5 years have been emotionally draining as a diehard Braves fan:

    1 – Loss in competitiveness
    2 – Loss in TBS dedicated coverage
    3 – Loss of Skip Caray (and Skip & Pete coverage)
    4 – (now) Loss of Bobby Cox as skipper (regardless of how much I disagreed with some of his thinking, I love the basturd)

    I hate the end of the season. I’ve enjoyed this blog this past year more than any other season that I’ve been a part of it. I am not exactly sure (beyond a more dedicated owner willing to invest in a baseball product) what we need to become more competitive, but I relish the fact that I have an online (and offline) crowd that is in constant despair with me.

    Bobby, I love you. Fredi, I’m not sure yet. Brooks, holy shit man.

  44. matt young better be a 4th outfielder next year. he put up an OBP of .380 with 39 sb to 7 cs. it’ll be a pure disgrace if he’s not.

    This might be overstating it a bit. It could just be that the Braves know something you don’t.

  45. The mouthpieces are now saying that Snitker’s with McDowell and Perez in the likely-to-stay group.

    Why???

  46. Barring a miracle, Jeffy is going to the ALCS. How detestable. I’m very happy for the rest of the organization though.

  47. Ian Kinsler just hit a two-run homer off Rafael Soriano. It’s 5-1 Rangers, and, barring the impossible, the Rays are about to go home.

    This actually makes me feel better about the Braves’ loss. The Rays are easily the most talented organization in baseball. We were easily the least talented team in the playoffs. Seeing them go home early actually makes it easier for me to deal with us losing.

  48. Fredi seems like a safe choice.
    I know it’s a recurring theme because JS and Bobby are still in the mix, but how much say do y’all think Wren has/had in the matter? Just curious.

    Are we sure Melky isn’t coming back? Of course, we’d go nuts and it wouldn’t make any sense. Which, on more pessimistic days, makes me worry a bit…

  49. AAR, after all these years of watching Braves’ playoff baseball, I think we have understand that pretty well.

  50. Two things about the outfield:

    (1) I doubt McLouth will be the CF next year. At worst, he’d probably be the LF. That said…

    (2) A McLouth/Diaz platoon would be fine so long as there is a good CF in place. Both would be ok defenders (Diaz is getting better and better), and both have solid career platoon splits at the plate. McLouth, in particular, is also a likely comeback candidate, and if he regains his form–as he seemed to near the end of the year–he would be very solid in LF as the stronger side of the platoon.

  51. Also… not a big fan of Fredi Gonzalez. I’m just going to hold out hope that managers don’t make much of a difference.

    Unless they stick with “their guys” too long.

  52. I think that ever since Bobby announced he was going to retire at the year the Braves have gone through an ‘informal/behind the scenes process of finding the new manager. Once Fredi got canned, he was their guy, and I don’t have a problem with it. I’m not sure there is anything better out there. He’s in a tough spot as others have mentioned, but he’s not going to be working for minimum wage either.

    I bet Cody Ross resigns with the Giants, but we’ll see what happens. I like Matty Diaz and appreciate his efforts over the years, but I want no part of him platooning in left and if he’s anything more than a 1 yr/1 MM bench guy, then he can go elsewhere.

    I like the idea of Ludwick if he gets non tendered, but as we all know the problem is that we need two starting outfielders, not just one, but realistically are only going to be able to acquire one.

    I have no problem with former New Mexico Lobo Matt Young as the 4/5th outfielder next year. He can’t possibly be worse than Melky and at least he’ll work cheap.

    Does anybody know what Schafer is up to this winter? I know he’s not going to the AFL, but I hope he’s going to play winter ball somewhere. I haven’t given up on him quite yet, but I’m sure I’m in the minority on that one.

    Just an out of the box idea that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere but I sure hope the Braves sign free agent Micah Owings to a minor league deal. Not as a pitcher, but as a hitter. I’m not sure if he’s ready to give up pitching quite yet, but I would sure as hell get him to try. I’d tell him this winter that he’d have to work his way up because he needs ABs, but I think it’s certainly worth a shot. The guy can rake.

  53. I like Matty Diaz and appreciate his efforts over the years, but I want no part of him platooning in left

    Why not?

  54. Matt plays good D, is solid against LH’rs, good PH. He works hard and is apparently a great teammate. Dont know why you wouldnt want him..

  55. Id say Bobby has had a say in his replacement ever since he went public about Fredi getting fired in FLA

  56. @82 I am not sure, I doubt the Rangers can beat the Yankees. I was hoping the Rays would keep the Yankees from making the world series.

  57. Also wanted to say that good organizations have Matt Diaz types on hand and get rid of them when they become too expensive and plug in the next guy in line.

    Matty is a good guy and a solid teammate, and upon further review, I’ll take him back for 1 year $2-$3 MM. I guess I just don’t think it’s that hard to find right handed hitting outfielders that can’t play center and mash lefties, but don’t hit righties.

  58. (really, guys, you thought Yunel was a whiner and you like this guy?)

    He does whine at every called strike, that’s true. But yeah, I do like him, in the sense that I’m entertained by him. He’s an immensely flawed hot dog of a player, but he plainly gives a crap and appears to have no other agenda. I freely admit that has no correlation to winning.

  59. After coming to the Braves, AAG posted the line

    .240/.291/.386

    His career line, meanwhile, is .248/.294/.402–right in line with his awful numbers in Atlanta.

    I couldn’t care less about his demeanor, or his attitude, or his whining. I care solely that he sucks. Because he really, really sucks.

  60. Point granted. I will say that, while he’s unlikely to be as valuable as either going forward, he came through in enough RISP situations this year that he posted a higher WPA than either Yunel or Andrus.

  61. I looked over the list of potential free agents, and there’s a guy on there that would fit us like a glove in left field. MARCUS THAMES. Absolutely destroys left-handers, could do an okay job against righty’s (hey, I’ll take my chances that he would be better than Melky or McClouth), and he could fill in at first base for Freddy.

  62. Marcus Thames vs LH’rs – .264/.333/.505/.838

    Matt Diaz vs LH’rs – .335/.373/.533/.907

    Diaz is better defensively also

  63. My Christmas wish list, based on the link Mac posted to Cot’s list of potential free agents:

    Shortstop: J.J. Hardy. He posted 2.4 WAR this year, and he’s twice put up 4+ WAR years. He’s a slick defender and he provides some right-handed power. He’s kind of a younger Gonzalez with a significantly higher AVG and OBP upside. His traditional stats haven’t been impressive the past two years, so maybe he could be signed relatively long-term for cheap. He’s just entering his theoretical prime years.

    Left field: Carl Crawford. He’s good – like, proven and accepted by all to be good, every year. He’s coming off of a 6.9 WAR season and he’s posted a 4+ WAR on three other occasions. It would be really nice to have a known, good quantity in the outfield locked into a long-term contract instead of the recent rotating cast of misfits and reclamation projects. And he can actually play defense. I would love to be able to watch a ball hit by a Braves opponent head to the outfield and not feel the need to grab onto the armrests of my couch. He’d cost a lot, but Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs claims that his skill set ages well.

    Alternatively, Coco Crisp could be a good pick-up. He’s likely to post a decent AVG, decent OBP, and above average defense. He posted a 3.3 WAR this year and has posted a 3+ WAR on three other occasions. With Crisp in center, McLouth could move to left. He could be a bargain for the same reason that Hardy could be a bargain – his traditional counting stats aren’t impressive. He’s also on the wrong side of 30 now, so that could keep his price down, even though his skill set would seem likely to age well, like Crawford’s.

    All three players could be solid, valuable pieces for years to come.

  64. #78 I respectfully disagree. It is simply less expensive dollar wise or trading prospects/pitching wise to find a corner bat. And you have to take the needs of the team into account. The team needs right handed power so a light hitting CF like Ellsbury wouldn’t help us that much.
    I know that you’re staking a lot of your opinion on the rumor that Rasmus is available. He may be but the Cards aren’t stupid. They know exactly how valuable a young, cost controlled power hitting CF, is worth.
    I’d take Matt Diaz on my team any day. But if we don’t sign him, it will hopefully be because the team has acquired an everyday left fielder.

  65. Forget Carl Crawford; that’s like me saying I would like to buy a Maserati–it’s not going to happen.

    Re AAG–he doesn’t suck. He’s not a great player, but he is a very solid shortstop and has some pop. He’s obviously got serious flaws in his game, but, for the right team, he would be more than adequate. Whether that team is the Braves is a different question.

    The organization has obviously had a lot of success but not that much in recent years. I think all organizations get stale and need new blood. Freddi Gonzalez doesn’t provide that but I have no reason to think he won’t be a solid, Bobby-type manager.

  66. I went back and looked at AAG’s homers on hittrackeronline.com, and all of them would have been homers in at least 10 major league ballparks. Trying to find an easy answer for his power collapse in ATL, but there just aren’t any.

  67. No more LF platoons please. I tire of them. Maybe in Center if we have two options who can both play above average defense. Left field HAS to provide middle-of-the-order power for this team.

    I don’t think we’re going to get all-star power from first or third base, two traditional power positions. I’d really like Wren to think big. In other words, not Cody Ross or Magglio or Diaz.

  68. A telling aside from Bradley’s column this morning:

    “(Terry Pendleton, the hitting coach, was actually surprised earlier this season when I mentioned that his club led the league in on-base percentage.)”

  69. Bringing in a new manager will allow us to shake some dead weight off. I am not sure what other roles Snitcker has with the team, he might be good at those. But there are some areas where a different approach might be needed.

    I am not going to mention any former MVPs or anything. (Not that I blame him)

  70. From Bowman:

    “Gonzalez also shared a close friendship with Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton. But it seems highly unlikely that the organization would allow him to keep Pendleton on his staff in the same role.”

    Not that I mind, but what’s their justification?

  71. I got frustrated watching some of our earlier games, but thats what made this team successful. Working the count, getting on base, and chasing their starters out of the game.

  72. It seems like the follow-up sentence would be about Pendleton falling out of favor with the Braves or the front office wanting a change or something. But it ends at that.

  73. AAG is a fine player to have on your team provided he’s hitting 7th or 8th in the lineup. Potential lineup for next year:

    Prado
    Heyward
    Chipper
    McCann
    LF
    Freeman
    AAG
    CF
    P

    So basically you want to try to find a RH 5-hole hitter for LF. Good luck with that. Frankly, I think a model similar to what the Giants did this year (where you get a Burrel or a Vlad to star the game then bring in a defensive sub late) might be the best way to go. I mean, you’re already guaranteed the defensive sub in McLouth. So why not go and spend some money to sign a mediocre-fielding LF who can knock the ball around a bit and pull him after 7 innings. Then you get a good defender to play CF. Hell, trading for Ellsbury shouldn’t be too tough given how worn out his welcome in Boston has become. I’m not saying he’d be free, but you could probably get him for a lot less than you would’ve needed in the past.

  74. problem now seems to be that Nate has taking his hitting woes into the field with him. He’s not really a defensive sub anymore

    2010 -14.3UZR between LF and CF.

    Im hoping whoever comes in can get him straightened out

  75. From Twitter:
    @mental_floss: In 1977, the umps of a Braves-Astros game in Atlanta left the field in protest when the scoreboard operator showed a controversial replay.

    A) never knew this
    B) There are a few games this post season I wish they’d walked out on.

  76. @112
    If we got Ellsbury here is how I would line it up

    Ellsbury
    Heyward
    Chipper
    McCann
    Prado
    Freeman
    LF
    AAG
    P

    Not a lot of power there, but guys on base for three good hitters.

  77. @112,

    mraver, I think that makes sense. I’d be ok with Ellsbury if he can play a good CF. I just don’t want to see our CF staggering around fly balls as if he had never seen one.

    Let’s face it, the key to the Braves going forward is Heyward (and, to a lesser extent Freeman). If he becomes the dominant player everyone expects, the other pieces can fall into place much easier. I’m not saying he has to be Pujols (that would be pretty unfair), but if you look at the Cardinals, they have had a fair amount of success with a lineup that is largely Pujols, a couple of other good players, and a bunch of others. But if you can catch the ball, pitch, and have a couple of guys that can hit the ball out of the park (essentially the Braves formula of the 90s), you can win a lot of games.

  78. @115

    Heyward would bat 5th in that lineup, with Prado hitting 2nd. I’d love to see acquisitions this offseason that would lead to Heyward batting 5th, much like Bonds did in 1990/1991 for the Pirates.

  79. I am going on record: Chipper will have a good come back year next year. While I am most definitely NOT a professional athlete I do play judo which is a fairly intense sport. I had knee surgery when I was 18, 23 and 40. This is similar to Chipper who has already survived one knee surgery in his first major league year and is now having another surgery at a later stage in his career (age 38). For me, after each surgery the recovery time was faster and more complete because of advances in surgical and rehab techniques. I am still able to compete with success. I think Chipper going through the knee rehab will have the side effect of getting the rest of his body in a little better condition than it normally is at the beginning of Spring training. That should help him stay healthy through the season and have a banner year. You read it hear first.

  80. smitty, id like to see Heyward out of the two hole. Prado seems a better fit there

    braves should just trade for Jose Bautista and let him handle LF

  81. Ellsbury’s defense is questionable in center. His 2009 +/- and UZR are both bad. Braves don’t need another CF who is supposed to be good, but isn’t. I mean, we had like 3 of those this year.

  82. Man, I’d like to be Carl Crawford this offseason. Or is agent. Or his girlfriend. Or his boyfriend (hey, it’s tough out there). But the Braves probably shouldn’t waste the minutes on a phone call.

    I knew McLouth’s contract was bad but I had no idea it was that bad. TEN MILLION DOLLARS? Wren got fleeced by the Pirates. That’s like getting dumped by the school slut.

    I, too, would love to see Blanco return.

    It’s my hope that wherever Matt Diaz plays next year, his manager will respect him enough to give him a consistent role and not jerk his ass all over the place. I think you’d see a very valuable player if this happens.

  83. All I really care about from a coaching staff perspective is that we keep McDowell. It would also be nice if we kept Eddie, and even nicer if we promoted him to bench coach, but neither happening wouldn’t be the end of the world IMO. It does seem likely that we’re at least going to keep him.

    I would prefer if Pendleton were let go, but if he stayed, I wouldn’t be overly upset by it. I just think it might be time to move on. Also, since it’s clear he’s not getting the managing job here, it might be better for him to move on, too. If he wants to be a big-league manager, that is. The hitting coach job is kind of interesting, since Chipper has basically been kind-of, sort-of hinting that he wants it at some point. In fact, he was basically working as an assistant hitting coach after his injury. It’ll be interesting to see what we do with it.

    I don’t really even care if Snitker stays, as long as he’s no longer the third-base coach. I don’t know how possible it is that he would stay under some other capacity, but I wouldn’t mind it.

    Random question: Does anybody remember what the general consensus on Fredi as a third-base coach was, out of curiosity? I honestly don’t remember, and am trying to figure out if the third-base coach is always complained about in some fashion the way we complain about Snitker, or if he’s really that bad.

  84. TP is a moron. He’s probably in the Frenchy club of barely understanding the concept of on-base percentage. Please bring in someone better!

    I’m not thrilled with the whole Fredi thing, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily a bad thing either.

  85. I really hate that TP quote, mainly because I always avoided believing he was a fool. He was my favorite player for several years, and I still love him. And I don’t want the organization to fire him. But…

    We need a different hitting coach. And, possibly, organizational philosophy.

    PS: Cox’s presser will be shown on both braves.com and MLB Network.

  86. I guess if TP were not a moron, he would be questioning the manhood of players when they made crucial outs or were having trouble locating the strike zone. Because that’s the sign of keen intelligence.

  87. Hey maybe TP was surprised when they were leading in OBP because he simply didn’t think they were walking enough to be leading… it’s not necessarily that he wasn’t aware of the value of OBP right?

  88. #122

    Agreed. He’s more or less a contact hitter now. If his power returns, then so much the better.

  89. Ellsbury should NOT play CF. He was the full-time center fielder for the Red Sox in 2009, and he was absolutely awful. That’s why Theo brought in Mike Cameron and moved Ellsbury to LF.

  90. If it makes people feel better about TP, there’s not a lot of evidence that hitting coaches make a difference. The very quote in question suggests as much. After all, if TP was teaching “away” from patience, it’s not like he was doing a very good job with Chipper, Glaus, Heyward, etc.

  91. I’m a little surprised we led the league in OBP, too, after September.

    Ellsbury was above average in 66 games in CF in 2008. I don’t know that average-to-good defense is out of the question from him. Is Fenway’s CF weird like its LF, though? I’m guessing pretty normal, but maybe having bad LFs like Bay and Manny makes the CFs overcompensate.

  92. @131 well, he COULD be the type of coach/manager/leader simply focused on absolute value (what their OBP was) vs relative (how they ranked in the league)…

    (I’m trying to be optimistic here Stu! and maybe playing a little devil’s advocate… though I think that means I just called TP the devil)

  93. If on base percentage was that important, they would put it in TP’s hitting stats that he looks at.

  94. BTW, in case it hasn’t been mentioned… Bowman’s piece saying Fredi has the job is on the main Braves.com site… does that mean we’ve passed the Furcal rule?

  95. Ellsbury has played CF but apparently isn’t very good at it. He simply doesn’t hit enough to be corner outfielder. He is pretty much the same player that McLouth is.

  96. The hitting coach’s job isn’t to get the team to lead the league in anything, and I don’t care if he knows what OBP is, so long as he teaches the hitters that a walk is better than a groundout, and counsels them on the proper mental approach to an at-bat to ensure that they realize that a walk is better than a groundout.

    The coach is only there to help the hitters be mechanically sound and have a good approach at the plate. Our hitters had a very good approach at the plate this year. I don’t love Terry as hitting coach, but I think he’s done a decent job, and that quote doesn’t change my opinion.

    The people that OBP should matter to are the people in charge of personnel, the manager and bench coach who fill out the lineup and strategize about substitutions, and the front office staff who determine who’s on the 25-man roster. The hitting coach, whatever.

  97. I’d love to see Derrek Lee brought back as insurance and as a platoon partner for Freeman. I wonder if he’d be willing to accept a secondary role with this club. I’m also hopeful that we can bring Hinske back, I think he truly excelled at his job this year and was a huge part of the strides the team took in winning close and late. We’ve always lacked viable late inning bats, we usually have some kind of retreads and fringe major leaguers (Norton, Lockhart…), over the past five years or so Hinske has redefined himself as a professional major league bench stick, an important commodity in the NL.
    Infante is another guy that really needs to be brought back, with the uncertainty surrounding the health of both Chipper Jones and Martin Prado he becomes an indispensable member of this team, as he was for much of this season. Even if we have optimal health from Chipper and Prado, he could be utilized in left field especially if, and I pray this is the case, Melky Cabrera is let go.

  98. I’d like Heyward to add some power and go for the #3 spot.
    Batting second tends to add too many complications beyond see the ball, hit it hard. Having someone more of a threat behind him would also potentially give him better pitches to hit.
    I think of the #2 slot as being better for the “go the other way” guys with low power, like Infante. Of course, then the Braves would need to find a genuine leadoff man.

  99. I spent the last two years in New England and watched my share of Red Sox games, and Elsbury seemed to get to tons of balls that one would expect to drop in the gap or over his head, center field in Fenway is very irregular and quite deep in parts, it may have strange effects on the defensive metrics.

  100. @142
    I whole heartedly agree with your sentiments. Batting Prado leadoff, where he thrived this season, with Infante second may be a solution, all year I’ve wanted to see those two guys bat back to back in the lineup. If we get a true right handed lefty masher we could go something like this

    1 Prado
    2 Infante
    3 Heyward
    4 Jones
    5 TRUE RIGHT HANDED LEFTY MASHER
    6 McCann
    7 Freeman/Lee?
    8 Mclouth? Ankiel…Diaz

  101. Ellsbury wouldn’t cause me to lose any sleep, especially if Fatso Cabrera is jettisoned to clear a space for him.

  102. Theo Epstein on Jacoby Ellsbury’s UZR:

    I think that he is an above-average center fielder now, who is going to be a great center fielder. I know there is a certain number we don’t use that is accessible to people online that had him as one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball last year. I don’t think it’s worth anything. I don’t think that number is legitimate. We do our own stuff and it showed that he is above average.

    Of course, the Red Sox moved Ellsbury out of CF, too.

  103. Press conference scheduled at 2:15 for a major announcement. This according to Mark Bradley of AJC.

  104. Wow, that is sad. I’m honestly a bit surprised they are doing all of this right now. Seems like it would have been best to let everyone give Bobby a good sendoff, then a few weeks later tend to all of this.

  105. I’m, again, curious about who makes that decision. Was that up to Fredi? Wren? Someone else?

    I nominate myself for the position.

  106. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    I do not approve of this development. Hubbard has taken several below average defenders and made them into very serviceable second basemen.

  107. I am going to miss Glenn. Maybe he will catch on somewhere else.

    Carlos Tosca has a good rep as a bench coach. Hopefully Chino lands on his feet as well.

  108. If they are letting TP go like this, it’s really cut-rate. I don’t care for him as a coach too much, but he deserves a little better than being told to clean out your locker just before the announcement of the new manager is made.

  109. Hubbard seems like such a random choice to let go, he’s been around for a long time and is obviously well-received in the clubhouse and on the staff or else he wouldn’t have been here for as long as he was. Maybe HE has an offer somewhere else?

  110. @174 – isn’t that the equivalent of a kick upstairs? Not that it matters to me that much – he can do less harm at 1st.

    (and of course, my 170 is now moot)

    /misunderstood the tweet posted in 149

  111. It is inconceivable to me that Hubbard won’t have a job in the organization somewhere. First base coach or no, I’m sure the Braves have a place for him. He’s basically been with the organization for the past 35 years, with the only real interruption his two years as an Oakland A in ’88-’89. The Braves have tended to be pretty loyal to their lifers.

  112. But didn’t Wren say that Cadahia and Hubbard haven’t been offered a chance to stay in the organization?

  113. He said they weren’t offered coaching positions. That’s vague, technical language. He probably wouldn’t say, “Glenn wanted to do something new.”

  114. That was funny spike.

    Of course Chino did go 1-0 in this post season.

    That tremor after the Ankiel HR was Chino jumping up and down in the dugout. (That is a cheap shot)

  115. Braves didn’t interview anyone else. “Wren and Gonzalez met for 6 hours at lake cabin one day in June, then second round of interviews in Sept. when other tms started calling him” (DOB)

    Kinky.

  116. Wren, on Pendleton: “It was a time for a new voice [on hitting]. Terry’s really excited about having more influence in the game.” (DOB)

    Because a first-base coach has so much influence.

  117. Fredi is a good guy. I Loved the way he benched Hanley Ramirez. I think the Marlins deserve to be crushed for a lot of reasons now.

  118. Brian Jordan’s/Steve Avery’s old number coming out of the moth balls.

    Edit: I think keeping McDowell is huge. He has done a great job. Snitker doesn’t have great depth perception, but he is supposed to be a smart, smart baseball guy.

  119. Yeah, Hubbard’s gone. The question was whether he was offered another position — not just coaching — in the organization, and Wren said he wasn’t.

    Weird.

    Why the heck is Snitker being kept???

  120. Did it seem like Snitker made less terrible decisions this year? Or were they just justified since they usually came with Melky on-deck?

  121. I missed most of the press conference, I’m confused. Could someone give me a rundown of the coaching staff?

  122. @195: Cadahia, Hubbard “let go”–however you want to phrase it.

    Perez, Snitker, and McDowell remain in their current positions.

    Terry Pendleton is moving to first-base coach and fielding instructor.

    Carlos Tosca will be coming on as bench coach (Cadahia’s old job).

    That leaves a vacant hitting coach position.

  123. Bench coach, Cadahia out, Carlos Tosca in.

    Pendleton moves from hitting coach to 1B coach, Hubbard is out and hitting coach is vacant for now.

  124. I wonder if all the errors down the stretch kind of doomed Hubbard.

    Who know Glen maybe in line for a better job with another organization.

  125. Maybe Hubbard and Gonzalez didn’t get along, as rival base coaches?

    Or did Brooks Conrad ruin Hubbard’s Atlanta career?

  126. #198 – thats a good point. Leading the majors in errors couldnt have helped him much, but Id put a lot more blame on us getting and putting people out of position. We did have two corner INF’rs that were statue’s in the field and didnt get much from CF either.

  127. I have to say, I’m upset about Hubbard. Hopefully the new hitting instructor is someone who puts a premium not only on OBP, but also on pitches per at bat. It seems like Wren is more geared toward these trends than JS and Bobby were, perhaps this is the beginning of a new era in terms of team philosophy.

  128. I really hope the Braves are contenders for Werth or Crawford. Wagner and Saito will both be headed elsewhere. That’s easily 10 million off the books. If they could find a trade partner for lowe, that would be another huge chunk.

    Scott Posednik could be a possibility for left field and while I don’t think Seattle would ever trade him, I would be interested to know what they would want for Ichiro.

    The braves will not trade infante. He is way too valuable and has a very reasonable club option for a couple million.

    The key is who will be our closer and setup guys?

  129. I really hope the Braves are contenders for Werth or Crawford

    I am of two minds on this – With a budgetary willingness of NY or BOS, sure, love to have them. With the constraints of Liberty, a signing of Werth or Crawford would cripple the club’s ability to make any other moves. FA’s are a surer bet, and it only costs money, but I really think the team is best served by trading young pitching for young, cost controlled hitting at this point, given the realities of the current ownership.

  130. Someone posted about how the Braves are going on 10 years of futility in LF, and I agree. It’s pathetic, actually, and makes it frustrating to be a fan. Even moreso of a joke: McCann led the team with a mere 21 HR’s. That’s not gonna get it done, period.

    My 2 cent suggestions that fit Liberty Media’s cheapa$$es:

    Forget about Crawford, it’s not happening. And it’s too bad, considering he would fill 3 gaps- speed, leadoff hitter, and defense.
    McLouth is not the answer in CF, and it looks like we will have to eat that contract. I would much rather the Braves acquire a speedster to hit leadoff in the OF, and Coco Crisp fits the bill. He will come relatively cheap, plays solid D, can steal bags, can hit leadoff and patrol CF. If Nate has a resurgence, shift him to LF and keep Coco in center.

    In the alternative, deal from a strength (pitching) to get OF help. Trade Jurrjens and McLouth/Schafer for Kemp. Yes, there are salary issues with McLouth, so maybe throw in a mid-level prospect as well. Hell maybe someone will bite on Derek Lowe now, given how he was on fire for the final month of the season and the postseason. Then sign Eric Bedard or Rich Harden to a cheap 1-year contract. If they perform, great. If not, we have the pitching anyway.

    Rotation: Some combo of Hudson, Bedard/Harden, Jurrjens/Lowe (if not traded), Hanson, Medlen, Minor

    If Lowe is traded, use that $ to trade for Prince Fielder. A package of Freeman and a high/mid-level prospect?

  131. you do know that Medlen will not pitch next year, right?

    Fiedler’s a free agent at the end of next year. That’s a HORRID idea.

    Jesus, just stop. The Kemp idea could work. But we’d have to include Delgado + JJ + McLouth. that’s a LOT to give up.

  132. Roll with Hudson, Lowe, Hanson, JJ and Minor\KK

    Chipper at 3rd, Gonzo SS, Prado 2nd and FF at 1st

    Francouer (Cheap and works well with Freddy) in right, Heyward in Center and Diaz\McLouth in left

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