This Is Not The End

Gentlemen and gentlewomen, we’ve been to hell and back. We’ve been through the best and the worst, we’ve seen miracles and horrors. The 2012 season was one for the ages.

This was a tough year. Who would have thought that we would have made it this far, and win 94 games, when you looked out in the middle of the summer at a team that could barely stay more than a couple of games above .500 — 0-4 on April 9, 26-24 on May 28, 41-38 on July 2. Who would have thought we could win considering that Brandon Beachy got Tommy John surgery, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson would see their careers in jeopardy, and Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran would both take a major step back?

Who would have thought that we could win despite the fact that our starting catcher hit .230, our starting second baseman hit .220, and all five of our shortstops hit .233? Despite the fact that our retiring 40 year old third baseman was, by far, the best hitter on the team?

Next year we will fight, and we will win!

94 thoughts on “This Is Not The End”

  1. Awful and frustrating ending notwithstanding, I’m excited about this team going forward. Lot of young talent that will be fun to watch.

  2. We may endure the same luck next year with various injuries and regression, but the Nats surely won’t be so fortunate.

    Gio Gonzalez is going to give up more hits, and more of his flyballs will go over the fence. Jordan Zimmermann won’t strand quite so many runners. Their bullpen won’t stay as healthy. Hitters like LaRoche and Desmond will surely regress.

    We could easily be the ones winning the division in 2013. We’re going to trade for Dexter Fowler, and when the rumors surface, someone’s going to post something about home/road splits, and I’m going to roll my eyes. Then he’s going to do well, and I’m going to be all smug about it. Prado will have a career year at 3B, and Heyward will contend for the MVP. McCann will bounce back, and when he’s on the DL, Ross will be Ross. Kimbrel will set a ML consecutive strikeouts record that will never be broken. When Beachy comes back, we’ll beat back the Nats and head into the real playoffs with a head of steam.

    We will probably have some replacement-level player in LF to start and then we’ll trade for someone at the deadline, but it’ll all work out. You’ll see.

  3. I’d be just as concerned about Fowler’s atrocious defense in CF as I would be about his road numbers. But yeah, I feel you: the Braves are going to be one of the better teams in the NL next season–again.

  4. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no.

    But it (the Braves’ 2012 season) is over. The Axis won.

  5. @2 You mention the Nats players that are going to regress, and not the Braves players that will surely regress. Beachy and Medlen will rcome down to earth, and Hudson will be yet another year older. We will go from having a top outfield to having one great outfielder. Simmons will continue to hit as poorly as he did upon his return from the hand injury.

    I’ve got no hope for next year.

  6. So it appears the Cards’ lucky train got derailed by what we’ve seen all year from the Nats. Take it from us, Cards fans, we’ve seen this movie quite a bit and you won’t like the ending.

  7. Suck it Cardinals. After the game, the media (I would bet from St. Louis) kept asking Matheny about the shadows hurting the hitters; apparently, on the assumption that the shadows only affected the Cardinals. To his credit, Matheny made the point-which seems to have escaped the geniuses-that the Nationals had to bat in the shadows as well.

    And that seventh where the Cards had the bases loaded and no outs and didn’t score-that reminded me of the Braves.

    As for the Nationals regressing, that’s true for some players but not all. Harper will surely get better, Strasburg will be there for the entire year and will likely only improve. Ryan Zimmermann will get his shoulder fixed and might be better. I agree that it’s unlikely LaRoche can have this kind of year again and others will probably regress. Bottom line is the Braves can certainly win but it’s going to be a tough division for a while.

  8. We’re going to win 98 games next but the Nats will win 99 and we’ll be stuck in this one game crap again next year against the Cardinals who won 87 and will inevitably beat us again. We’ll just keep repeating this forever I think.

  9. Hot Stove is going to be fun. How much money will Boras scam out of a GM for Bourn? Which two players will get some of the money from Wren (as referenced in yesterday’s MLBTradeRumors)? Will BMac have surgery? Will Uggla marry Bibi Jones and get his mojo back?

  10. @2 If the Braves are getting Fowler to play CF, Wren will have loads of money to spend on that big bat. With Chipper, Lowe, Bourn, Jair and others coming off the book, this will be a great time to lock up Prado, Heyward, Medlen, etc.

    If I am Wren, I would also sit down with McCann’s agent to see if he would consider a short extension (2-3 yrs) with reduced salary in 2013. As a catcher, Mac may still want to test the FA to get the best contract when he is still young. However, he may want to have some security as he will be recovering from the shoulder injury.

  11. We’ve had Francoeur’s Franks and Jason’s Jasons, so if the Braves sign Dexter Fowler I want to see Dexter’s Dexters (Dexter Morgan, of course, complete with cut on the face).

  12. We’re going to win 98 games next but the Nats will win 99 and we’ll be stuck in this one game crap again next year against the Cardinals who won 87 and will inevitably beat us again. We’ll just keep repeating this forever I think.

    Maybe the Braves can lose by one of MLB’s more obscure rules each year too? How about the 98-win Braves lose to those 87-win Cardinals via the new fake-to-third-throw-to-first balk call?

  13. @8, I thought I covered most of that in my first sentence: “We may endure the same luck next year with various injuries and regression.”

    I think some of our “regression” is most likely to come from players trying to fill Bourn and Chipper’s shoes — plus maybe Hudson and Uggla will slide a little. But even if Medlen doesn’t continue on at this pace, he’s likely going to provide more value to the Braves next year than he did this year because of his role. I don’t think Beachy will pitch enough innings for us to say he’ll have regressed. But I look forward to seeing Minor, Heyward, Freeman, and McCann improve next year, and I think that’ll offset whatever we lose.

    And while Harper and Strasburg may improve, there are more than a few Nats who seem likely to regress, enough to make me think it’s fairly likely that they won’t enjoy what ended up being a mere four-game lead over us again.

  14. We won a hell of a lot more games this year than any of us would have expected. And we won not because of the guys on our team. If anything, McCann and Uggla may actually suck less, and Freeman and Heyward may be slightly better. We won because guys like Janish and Sheets and Maholm and Johnson were able to step in after Pastornicky and Wilson and Delgado and Jurrjens crapped the bed. Wren retooled the team on the fly and made it better on the fly. That’s why I have faith in next year.

    And oh yeah, LaRoche isn’t gonna be this good next year.

  15. @22 – Amen Alex. When you consider all the negatives that occurred this season the team showed remarkable resilience. Wren did his best work this season. As for next season you have to like a team with a core like ours. I haven’t examined the available FAs at all but my sense is that its a weak market. I think that acquiring a 3b or LF and a CF will require a trade. If thats the case then Wren has to put Delgado and Teheran on the table.

  16. Players that will almost certainly be on the team come April:
    Starters- Freeman, Uggla, Simmons, Prado, Heyward, McCann
    Rotation- Medlen, Hudson, Minor, Maholm
    Bench- Francisco, Janish
    Bullpen- Kimbrel, O’Flaherty, Venters, Gearrin, Avilan, Lisp

    Players my gut says will be on the team- Gattis and Ross
    Players my gut says will be DFA’d- Jurrjens, Constanza
    Player my gut tells me will be traded- Hanson
    Players I’d love to see in a Braves uniform- Bourjous, Swisher, Hairston, R. Johnson, C. Ross, Pagan, Andruw.
    Player that will be rumored the Braves are “looking at for leadoff”- Ichiro
    My dream acquisition: Chris Young for Tommy Hanson

  17. Why in the world would we DFA Constanza?

    He’s cheap, he’s fast (wait, this is starting to sound like my old girlfriend), he actually hits in the playoffs.

    Until a bonafide outfielder (or two) signs with the Braves, there’s absolutely no reason to let him go.

  18. Has anyone seen a logical explanation for the decline in the speed of Lincecum’s fastball?

    He used to live at 98 and now barely exceeds 90. Even in his relief appearance last night, the highest I saw was 91.

    I don’t recall an injury. But what else could it be?

    He was actually the best pitcher the Giants have thrown out there in two games. Reds look good.

  19. A lot of people might point to Lincecum’s bizarre training regimen, which he and his dad developed, not icing down after games, etc. I don’t really know. On the one hand, he’s been remarkably injury-free over his career. On the other hand, the decline in his velocity has been extraordinary.

  20. While some are already worried about next season — and we don’t even know who won the League pennants, much less the world series why not reflect on a few unremarked (or mostly unremarked) milestones.
    Tim Hudson became only the 5th Atlanta Brave to post 100 career wins (105 at season’s end). He also moved into 9th on the all-time Atlanta career loss list with 65.
    Kimbrel moved in 4th place on the Atlanta career saves list with 89, passing Mike Stanta, Rick Camp, Cecil Upshaw and John Rocker in the process.
    Jurrjen’s 3 victories put him in the 15th spot for Atlanta career victories with 50, and his losses tied him for 19th with Dick Ruthven.
    Tommy Hanson’s 13 wins put him with a career total of 45, good for the 15 spot on the Atlanta career list.
    The Braves sorry record for most of the ’70’s and ’80’s means the Atlanta career win list has a pretty low bar for the Top 20.
    For all the Fredi Gonzalez haters, reflect on this.
    He’s already in 4th place on the Atlanta list for career wins 183, while only 8th in losses 141 after 2 seasons. Of course he’s only the 6th Atlanta manager to survive 2 complete seasons! Given what the team’s composition, and starting pitching woes, the starter’s posted an average 69-54 record, to have finished with 94 victories is pretty amazing.

  21. I’ll be honest. I don’t really know if I’m interested in following the Braves without Chipper. I know you guys will, but I don’t know if I’m into it any more. So, there’s that.

  22. As of right now, I think I’m probably just done with baseball entirely. Which doesn’t mean I won’t have that sort of Spidey-sense notion of what’s going on in a given season, or whatever. I’ve been plugged into sports in general, and baseball specifically, on a mind-meld level, for so long that I doubt I’ll ever be able to not have some deep level of my brain knowing what the general shape of the team and season look like every year. It’s like when I gave up college sports a couple of years ago (different logic.) But I can still tell you who won the UGA/USC game Saturday night, and that Tech has a terrible team this year. I don’t know that I *can* turn it off completely.

    But from an intentional perspective – from the perspective of putting blood and sweat and love into it… I think I’m done with it. I don’t think I feel like sacrificing my calm to these dirty gods anymore.

  23. I came right to the edge of it last year, but the Braves have had a hold on me for almost 30 years, or about 80% of my life. I just couldn’t quit them.

    I know I’ll be back in 2013, and hopefully a working offense will too.

  24. If I lived through the late 80’s without losing faith, I can damn sure live through a year when we made the postseason, even if we flamed out quickly.

    And if I survived Murph getting traded to the Phillies (which at least one of my good friends didn’t), I can certainly survive Chipper retiring after a HoF career with the Braves.

    And if I survived Russ Nixon, Chuck Tanner, Joe Torre (before he became good in New York) and Bobby Wine. I can survive Fredi, who actually seems to be learning and adjusting.

    For you young’uns out there, it’s called perspective.

  25. Should’ve been a comma instead of a period after Bobby Wine above.

    It seems what I CAN’T survive is no edit button.

  26. @36 I sympathize with your sentiment completely. But then, after another long winter, I might have a new perspective in the spring. That seems to happen with me every spring.

  27. Sam,

    I say the same thing about Kentucky Football every year. Yet, foolishly or admirably, I’m right back there rushing to kick the football that the Cosmic Lucy is sure to pull away.

    Perhaps our energies could be better spent elsewhere. Or, more likely, they should just be preserved for dealing with every day life.

    But that would be joining the Orwellian queue of passionless functionaries. A bloodless and defensible surrender, but a surrender, nonetheless.

    As for me, I’ll chop till I drop.

  28. This is an especially emotional year for us because of Chipper and Mac. I am sure we will be much calmer next season. I am very looking forward to what Medlen can achieve in one full season, and I am looking to see how Wren will spend the money this winter.

  29. Sam,

    That’s what the off season is for, to rejuvenate. Take some time to listen to the birds and read thick Russian novels. Meet people, even if it means selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. Live your life.

  30. I get the “rejuvenate” thing and the rebirth of spring thing, and all of that. But, well, I’m not always like the other kids in the playground, and sometimes when I make a decision, I stick by it just because folks say I’ll change my mind later.

    Not meant to be an attack or anything. Just an acknowledgement of my own little foibles.

  31. Being a Braves fan is a kind of debilitating condition. No doubt about that. But next year Med Dog is probably going to get the ball at least thirty times. That’s all I need to know for my cost-benefit analysis.

  32. I recognize how good Medlen is, but until he learns to bend his cap bill like an adult I can’t really love him.

  33. Venters looks at Medlen and makes a rude comment about Med’s flat-billed hat. The Braves pitchers take digs at Medlen for his hat. Then the Med Dog hands Venters his phone with a picture called up on the screen. Just like that, they quit.

    “Take that,” he said to his antagonists. It was the mug of Babe Ruth in a Yankees hat, a flat bill hat.

    “Med’s great, just for stuff like this,” Venters said. “We have to be quiet now about his hat. Babe is wearing it. He got us.”

  34. So AAR, are we going to get a series of ‘Where do we go from here?’ posts? I missed them at the end of last year, but Mac probably wasn’t feeling up to doing them.

  35. God. Now I have to think of a contribution. (I see what you’re doing here. I see this “walking him back from the edge” thing. I’m onto your games, Moriarty.)

  36. Even though this year’s loss felt somehow a lot tougher- I really thought the Braves had a shot at going to the WS- I will never, ever, give up on watching and following the Braves and Braves Journal. I will fly over to ATL from Europe at least once every year, since 1999, to watch the Braves. I will never, ever give up on being a huge Braves fan.

  37. Nick Curran lost his battle with cancer this weekend, if there are any Fab T-Birds/Ronnie Dawson/Kim Lenz fans out there.

  38. Pagan’s a really solid player, and flies under the radar. Pagan had a great year this year, better than Victorino’s; Victorino has a longer track record but is a year older. I’d prefer Pagan, but it’ll be interesting to see how the market shakes out. I’d give Pagan 4 years/$40, and he might be gettable for that — after all, he was just traded for Andres Torres a year ago.

    I think Victorino and Bourn will cost more than that, and I’m sure Hamilton will, but it’ll be interesting to see.

  39. I cannot, as a Braves fan (or perhaps moreso as someone who can’t stand the Phillies), condone Victorino on our team. Of course I must begrudgingly admit he’s still a good baseball player, but I still maintain too much animosity toward him to tolerate that stupid face of his beneath a Braves cap.

  40. Pagan put up a career year – I’ve always liked him and thought’d he’d be a good fit, but he will cost real money. He’s always struck me as a bit of a tweeter in terms of defense. There would be a fair amount of risk that his bat goes south and his cf defense turns out to be subpar. I’d probably go 4/40, but that would be the absolute limit, and I would look very hard at other options at that price point.

  41. Pagan’s real career year was in 2010, when he was worth 5+ wins. His 4-win 2012 was pretty similar to 2009, when he was terrific in part-time duty filling in for the injured Beltran in New York.

    His glove isn’t as good as it was a couple of years ago, and it’s hard to tell if that’s UZR noise or age. The fact that he wasn’t an everyday player till he was 28 makes me think that his legs may be fresher than those of a guy like Victorino. But the defense is the real question. He doesn’t strike out a ton, which is good — and a real contrast with Bourn — but his walk rate is slightly below average, and though he has a little bit of pop a lot of his power comes from his ability to leg out triples.

    Anyway, I completely agree with you, Spike. He’s a gamble. But I think that a 4 year, $40 million contract for him would pay him like a 2-3 win player despite the fact that he has 3-4 win upside, at least at the beginning of the deal. In the fourth year he might be a below-average center fielder, but that’s okay if he provided excess value in the first couple of years.

  42. Do you think it would take 4 years to sign him? I bet 3 with a 4th yr mutual option could get it done.

  43. I’d volunteer for one of them, but I’m no where near the writer that many of you are and I wouldn’t do it justice I think. Especially since I’d butcher the sabermetric analysis pretty badly due to ignorance.

  44. I really didn’t get worked up about this loss, even with the preposterous ways it happened. No matter how good this team would look, no matter our strengths, I knew that they didn’t matter much because Bud took a steaming pile all over the postseason. One-off after 162 games? Why invest a season’s worth of desire when it can get flushed in three hours?

    So thanks, MLB, for making me not mind it when the Braves get the boot in the postseason. You’re too kind.

  45. (I couple that with the sickening feeling I had forever after, say, the ’03 loss to the Cubs. I almost offed myself laughing to death, Roger Rabbit-style, watching the Bartman inning.)

  46. We get draft picks for offering a qualifying offer to Bourn, correct? What would a qualifying offer be?

    I’ll miss the hell out of Mac T. and Chipper next year. But as disappointing as that last game was, I’m really excited about watching Freeman and Heyward mature. They will be quite a presence in the middle of the lineup.

  47. Hardballtalk is reporting that McCann will likely be having shoulder surgery with a 4-5 month rehab clock.

    I am entirely unsurprised. This is what everybody thought was going to happen in the offseason, right?

  48. Nats are getting smoked. Matheny is no idiot. He pulled Garcia for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the second.

  49. @71, new rules give just one draft pick, and a qualifying offer is projected to be about 12.5M

    “On the other hand, if the Phillies didn’t sign or trade Hamels and he became a free agent, they would have had to make a qualifying offer to him in order to be eligible for compensation if he signed with another team. A qualifying offer is a one-year deal for the average of the top 125 salaries the previous season; this year it’s expected to be about $12.5 million. If he turned that down and signed elsewhere, the Phillies would have gotten a compensatory sandwich pick at the end of the first round, not two picks as they would have before.”

  50. It would be pretty idiotic not to give Bourn a qualifying offer. He’s not gonna take it, and even if he did, would it really be that horrifying to have Michael Bourn back on a one-year, $12.5 million contract?

  51. I really didn’t get worked up about this loss, even with the preposterous ways it happened. No matter how good this team would look, no matter our strengths, I knew that they didn’t matter much because Bud took a steaming pile all over the postseason. One-off after 162 games? Why invest a season’s worth of desire when it can get flushed in three hours?

    The insane thing is, this is Selig’s idea of making the regular season more relevant, because now teams will try harder to win the division, or some such nonsense.

    Six months worth of games, and one of the best records in MLB, down the drain in one 2.5-hour game.

  52. @70 Stu, that’s why it would be funny if we get Victorino…simply because we all hate him so much.

    @74 I am very impressed with Matheny. Why can’t we hire somebody like that?

    @76 I fully expect the Braves giving Bourn an qualifying offer. Worst case, the Braves can take on 12.5M easily (that’s basically what Chipper made last season) and it’s only for one season. Boras and Bourn would be stupid to take it.

  53. @80 If they put Beachy in the bullpen first like how they handled Medlen, maybe he can come back sooner. Of course, Beachy doesn’t have as much experience as a relief pitcher than Medlen.

  54. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Ichiro head back to Japan after this season. I don’t know how much he needs adulation, but at this point he’d get a lot more of it if he returned home. Plus, he might actually make more money — $5-$6 million per year isn’t unheard of in Japan. You gotta figure the marketing possibilities (in the first year, anyway) to the team that lands him would be significant.

  55. @87 His major income isn’t from the baseball contract. He would earn so much more in marketing if he continues playing for a big US city team. If he returns to Japan, then he would just be another very good Japanese player. Besides, he is only 400 hits away from 3000. I don’t see any reason why he would go back to Japan until the day comes that he can’t produce good stats. At this moment, he is still a very good player.

  56. Well, he’s turned it around with the Yankees, so there might be something left, but he’d been pretty mediocre for a while before that.

    But there’s no way he’ll ever be just another good player in Japan. He is a colossus. You should have seen the streets of Seattle during homestands the first few years — Japanese tourists everywhere. They would fly to the US in droves to watch him play.

  57. Stu, that’s why it would be funny if we get Victorino…simply because we all hate him so much.

    People said the same thing about Livan Hernandez after Wren signed him in March, but then posts such as “I’m warming up to ol’ Livan” started popping up.

  58. If Victorino played well for the Braves, people would all of a sudden love him. That’s all anyone cares about. If Livian had pitched well, he would have been a favorite.

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