I’m So Glad We’re Not Royals Fans, June 25 Game Thread

A few days ago, Rany Jazayerli wrote this:

As a fan of the franchise, their performance over the last 20 years has been an unending tragedy. But as a fan of baseball, and moreover as someone who has been intimately involved with the rise of analytics in the world of sports, the existence of the Royals has been a constant source of validation. Some team has to play the negative counterpart to the A’s and Rays. Some team has to serve as the control in the hypothesis, “Does sabermetrics work?” I just wish it wasn’t my team.

As I wrote when we played them in April, the Royals lineup does not have many former Braves in it at the moment. I’m not really making this game thread to make fun of the Royals — they’ve had a really, really bad two and a half decades — so much as to point out that the stakes are a whole lot higher for them right now than they are for us:

  • The Braves offense has been scuffling for two weeks and we’re still six games ahead of the second place Nationals. The Royals offense has been unexpectedly dreadful and they’re mired in third place, 6.5 games behind the Tigers.
  • Obviously — obviously — we all know that this is far from definitive, but: with almost three months gone by, according to Baseball Prospectus, the Braves have an 88.4% chance of making the playoffs. The Royals have a 4.1% chance of making the playoffs.
  • Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez have reasonable job security, unless the Braves suffer another 2011-style collapse down the stretch. Moore and Yost have very little job security. Frank Wren’s first full season as Braves GM was 2008, and Fredi Gonzalez’s first year as skipper was 2011. Dayton Moore’s first full season as Royals GM was 2007, and Ned Yost’s first year as skipper was 2010. (I’m counting Yost’s games as manager in his half season in 2010, but not counting Moore’s half season in 2006 because he didn’t have much of a chance to build or alter the team.) Here are the teams’ won-loss records in that time:

    Wren: 476-411 (.537)
    Fredi: 227-174 (.566)

    Moore: 454-591 (.434)
    Yost: 233-291 (.445)

This was the year that it was all supposed to come together, when the Best Farm System in the History of Whatever was supposed to bear the fruit of a division title. So they pushed their chips to the center of the table, traded Wil Myers for James Shields, and built their hopes around Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, and the rest of the youth brigade. And… well, they’re not the ’91 Braves.

That said, tonight’s starter is Ervin Santana, who is somewhat inexplicably in the midst of a possible career year. He’s slashed his walk rate almost out of existence and cut down somewhat on his homers. So tonight won’t be a cakewalk. But the Braves don’t need this game nearly as badly as KC does.

Still, let’s stomp ’em anyway.

232 thoughts on “I’m So Glad We’re Not Royals Fans, June 25 Game Thread”

  1. JC’ed: Thanks, Game. I actually *am* a knee-jerk contrarian (some would omit the “knee-” and “contrarian” from that characterization.) I still see skills in Dan… useful skills.

  2. 107, 98, 95…

    He’s not the type of defender to make those OPS+ numbers “better than they look.”

  3. In response to the question from the previous thread of how the Braves are a “Moneyball” team, here’s how:

    Four of the eight starting position players were originally drafted by the Braves (one first-round and three second-round picks).

    Two of the five starters were originally drafted by the Braves (one first-round pick, one 10th-round pick). So was the closer (third-round pick).

    A third starter was an international signee, and the player who is effectively the sixth starter was an undrafted free agent.

    In all, 12 of the 25 members of the roster were originally drafted or signed by the Braves. (Avilan, Gearrin, Kimbrel, Medlen, Minor, Teheran, Wood, McCann, Freeman, Simmons, Heyward, Schafer. Schafer was traded away once, but reacquired off of waivers; all of the others have always been in the Braves organization.) That means that a) the Braves are very good at scouting amateur talent, and b) the Braves are very good at getting those players to live up to their potential in the big leagues.

    Producing your own players is the single most cost-effective way of getting key contributors. So the Braves have saved a lot of money by being good at it.

  4. Piggybacking Alex @3, another drastically underrated “Moneyball” move on the Braves part was changing of draft compensation rules that went into effect last winter. The new rules effectively gut a significant portion of the free agent market advantage that was leaving the Braves out in the cold. It eliminates, more or less, the “over-priced mid-level free agent” and creates a system of incentives where only top-tier, A1 class talent is going to be exchanged at high $ rates in the winter bizarre. In short, it makes keeping your young talent that hasn’t quite hit megastar caliber yet more likely, especially for a mid- to low-payroll club and further increases the “grow your own” value of farm systems.

    That is to say, it increases the value of how the Braves can and do generate talent, and decreases the likelihood that home-grown talent will disappear in the FA market immediately. And those rule changes were driven to implementation throughout MLB by…

    Braves President John Schuerholz.

  5. @3 Not counting El Oso Blanco or free agents we got relatively cheap like Pena and Laird, or throw ins like the Johnsons.

  6. Schuerholz’s influence in MLB is worth remembering. He is, with good reason, one of the most respected executives in baseball, and now that he’s the President rather than the GM, much of his time can be devoted to all of these discussions with other teams about the rules and regulations of MLB itself. He has always been famously allergic to overspending — he famously required that everyone who signed a free agent contract or an extension with the Braves take a hometown discount, and if they didn’t want to, he would gladly let them walk. It was callous and it may have occasionally hurt the team in the short run, but in the long run, the policy served the Braves exceedingly well.

    Obviously, in the ’90s, the Braves had one of the highest payrolls in baseball, thanks to Ted Turner’s open pursestrings. But with the exception of Maddux, Schuerholz hardly ever approached the free agent market like the Yankees or Dodgers or Red Sox, as a place to acquire star talent. He far preferred trades to free agency. And he was right to do so.

  7. There was a really great article some years back about JS and risk-aversion that the internet seems to have swallowed.

  8. I’m sorry, but a fan should not give a crap whether or not their team is a Moneyball team or not. They should want to have a savvy GM who knows what he’s doing and doesn’t blow resources and roster spots on terrible contracts, but there’s no championship for wins-per-dollar.

    The wins-per-dollar obsession leads to bizarre thinking like “We should let Brian McCann walk in free agency because we have a cost-controlled replacement,” or even more bizarrely, “We should trade Brian McCann in the middle of a pennant race.”

    We should be rooting for the GM to be able to pick 25 championship-caliber players and ownership to pony up for them. Screw Moneyball. It’s not my money, and it really just comes off as a dodge for ownership to be cheap and still placate the fans. This current team is in the neighborhood of $9 million under what I understand its “salary cap,” i.e. break-even point, to be. I’m honestly going to be pissed if they don’t make some upgrades at the trade deadline. Every possible dollar should be invested in the enterprise of making this team as championship-worthy as possible.

    Same goes for next offseason: if they have $36 million in “cap space” and just pocket it, that’s going to piss me off as well. Brian McCann is the best free agent on the board not named Robinson Cano; if you have the money, you do it. As we see this year, any concerns of “overcrowding” tend to resolve themselves (catchers get hurt a lot!) and/or lead to bench awesomeness that wins games.

    At some point we as fans have to start getting mad at ownership for not giving the front office any flexibility to make a mistake, not at Dan Uggla for being an average player making an above-average salary.

  9. @2 No, Uggla does not do the “little things” well. That said, three-run homers, even in today’s enlightened baseball world, are still a “big thing”, especially given the decrease in run scoring in recent years. If new teams were willing to take Vernon Wells’ ridiculous contract (twice!) then by golly, there’s hope for Uggla too.

    @4 The new rules effectively gut a significant portion of the free agent market advantage that was leaving the Braves out in the cold
    Perhaps I’ve forgotten the details of the new system – what change do you think helps the Braves retain their FAs? The qualifying offer system effectively removes draft pick compensation for players who aren’t worth tendering a QA to but who would previously have returned some kind of draft pick (eg, Paul Maholm) – that reduces the effective cost of acquiring talent of that level. On the other hand, the QA system depresses the value of those superior players worthy of a QA offer who then decline the QA (eg, Michael Bourn… and probably McCann). What changes do you think have occurred which will grant the Braves a better chance to sign JHey, Freeman et al.?

    PS – pretty sure you meant “bazaar”, though the Winter Meetings do often result in some strange transactions…

  10. I agree with @9 as well. I don’t have a problem with Dan Uggla or his contract. I have even less of a problem with BJ Upton. I have a problem with Liberty Media. With even the Cardinals annual budget this team would compete for the WS every year.

  11. If the Braves had to make a QO for Jason Heyward this winter, they’d retain his services.

  12. The Braves are squeezing more out of every dollar they spend than about 3 teams in baseball. I don’t know if there’s an in-season ranking of dollar per win, but it seems the Braves are only behind Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Oakland in wins per dollar spent. You have to give Wren a lot of credit for the team he’s assembled, and if Wren had the extra $25M the Cardinals have, I’m pretty convinced we’d have 2-3 players that would push us over the Cardinals.

    Could you imagine being a Marlins fan in Miami? Where’s the hope that their team is moving out of the cellar any time soon? Same with Houston.

  13. W.C.G.,

    I think, in a perfect world, every fan would be looking for what you’re advocated: put the best 25 on the field. But in reality, that’s simply not possible. The Braves have a finite payroll, and ownership will not change that. The wins-per-dollar conversation is a measure of stewardship. We don’t watch a sport with a salary cap, so teams like the Braves have to do the best with the resources they have. Wins-per-dollar is essentially the 40-yard-dash of financial stewardship.

  14. Slight aside- I’m a Georgia football fan. We’re a very good program. Not a great one. Last year was great, but before that, we spent a few years in the wilderness. Issues:

    – Our offensive playcalling was rusty. Mark Richt was handling head coach and offensive coordinator duties, but it was proving to be too much. We were too conservative, too prone to settle for FGs, too prone to just flip field position and hope the defense held. With offenses becoming more complex around the college game, we looked like dinosaurs. So Richt delegated OC duties to someone else.

    – Our defense was terrible. We weren’t putting the best players on the field, and what players we did put in were slow, out of position, poor tacklers, etc. So Richt fired his DC- apparently a close friend, even.

    – Our strength and conditioning were lacking. Too often we’d come out after halftime and just get bowled over. So Richt fired his S&C staff and installed a new one. The results here aren’t perfect (see Alabama bulldozing our D-line in the second half of the SEC Championship Game), but for many they’ve taken hold (see Todd Gurley still getting tough yards against Bama in that second half).

    – Our recruiting had fallen off. It seemed liked the staff wasn’t investing enough time and energy in the process to get truly elite players on a regular basis. But eventually the staff improved here too- not perfect, but we’re back to acceptable levels.

    That’s from around 2006 to now. We went from losing to freaking Vanderbilt on homecoming to coming feet from dethroning the Alabama leviathan. A nice rise. But with a lot of hair-pulling, fandom-cracking, curse-inspiring moments along the way.

    My point? I have no idea how Royals fans take it. “We don’t draw walks because the ballpark is big.” This after a third-century of not ever *attempting* to draw walks. The Royals have been hacking as long as I’ve been alive, and they’re not going to change because….that’d be admitting failure to NEEERRRDS, I guess. It’s just…..I mean…..my brain….

  15. @9 I agree that as fans we shouldn’t particularly give a crap if the ownership paid less in any given year for a certain level of on-field success. However, you don’t have to look far to see the negative consequences of a win-now plan executed poorly (Philadelphia, Los Angeles) which can hobble a team’s ability to win in the present and for many years to come.

    As you note, there aren’t many good players available by FA these days, and next year’s group looks even crappier than last year’s. It seems that the solution to that is to 1) build from within your organization as a feeder to the MLB team and/or use for trades, and 2) lock up your young talent if at all possible.

    With specific respect to McCann – I’m sure the Braves would be happy to have him back on a qualified offer ($13M-ish), but Mac will want something bigger, probably 5/$75 or so. The question is, what do you get for that kind of deal, compared to replacements at C (Oso, Laird, Bethancourt, etc.) and wise allocation of the remaining money elsewhere in the roster.

  16. @3: Yep. But another interesting point is that when people talk about team’s payroll they’re only discussing the MLB 40-man. I suspect one of the great untold stories of baseball is how spending money on your development program makes sense even if it takes away from what you can spend on the 40 man. I have no idea what the Cardinals spend on player development (including scouting and assessment) but if you can spend an extra 5 million on development and thereby lower your payroll (holding wins constant) by 10 million, that’s Moneyball at work.

  17. @16 – Your first paragraph is the point I wanted to make.

    Savvy, low-cost acquisitions that “uncover” championship-caliber players are not laudable simply for the virtue of their cheapness.

    No one in baseball is paid what they are worth. They are all underpaid while they are at their best, then they hit free agency, get paid what they USED to be worth for 2 years, and you way overpay them 3 (or 8) more years just for the right to have had them for the first few years of the deal.

    Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mark Texeira, Arod.. these illustrate the cost of acquiring championship-caliber talent.

    Savvy, low-cost moves have the added virtue of FLEXIBILITY, which in reality is their true virtue. Low-dollar deals generally mean short-term deals, and if they’re not short term, they are imminently more tradeable than expensive deals. So you are never committed to players who are in steep decline, and even if you are committed, their contracts don’t hamstring you from acquiring talent at other positions.

    Building a team that is great every single year is incredibly difficult. Most great teams have to sell their souls to long-term contracts, and thus limit their own window of opportunity.

    Schuerholz be praised. Amen.

  18. Well I definitely feel like we should let McCann walk next year – only because I feel like the money can be spent elsewhere for better returns. If it turns out that the extra money isn’t spent, but instead just pocketed, then I’ll be pissed too.

  19. Carlos Marmol has been DFA’d. I was wondering when the Cubs were finally going to get rid of him and his Jekyll/Hyde mentality.

  20. @9 & 10 – So when Wren picks up Melvin at the Winter Meetings, is that bazaar thinking? ;-)

    @19 I still think if McCann is willing to take a shorter contract at a reasonable amount – say, 2 years at $17M or 3 years at $13M, with substantial portions deferred and spread out – the Braves should do it. Still a good investment at this point, and if his knees start to give, you ask him what his preferred AL destination is for the sunset years, thank him, put him on a boat for the Grey Havens, and everybody’s happy. Brian may not want to, but then again this is the team he grew up loving.

  21. @22, I just don’t see a good reason for Brian to do that. He’s turning 30 in February, so this is really his last best chance to get a really good contract. I wish that there could be a way for us to come to terms with him, but honestly, I think he’s just worth more money to a lot of teams than he’s worth to the Braves, and I think he deserves to get paid what he’s worth. I will hate to see him go — he’s possibly the greatest catcher in the history of the Braves franchise and he’s inarguably one of the best players that the Braves have had since moving to Atlanta. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch him.

    But I don’t think that the Braves can afford to pay $60 million or more to a former All-Star catcher on the wrong side of 30 when they have Gattis making the league minimum.

  22. Can anyone give their scouting report on Robby Hefflinger? Dude hit his 20th HR last night and is breaking out in a big way at Lynchburg (.920 OPS).

    Kubitza has been doing his share of breaking out as well as he is up to an .895 OPS with an OBP over .400.

    Also, Salcedo is starting to hit again, posting an OPS north of 1.000 his last 10 games.

    Elander collected 3 hits last night, pushing his OPS to .949.

    Trenton Moses has moved up to Lynchburg and is still destroying baseballs. He’s 24 and doesn’t seem like he can really play defense but his collective .980 OPS is pretty awesome. Scouting report, anyone?

  23. @22

    I agree. You explore McCann and those options in November (hopefully after the parade and champagne hangover are finished) and see if you can work a deal that makes sense.

  24. @19 & @22, et al:

    The problem is that there is no better place to spend money – any money really – on next year’s FA market than Brian McCann. He’s really the only player worth having on the lists. So you either spend on him and double up on the slugging catcher thing again, or…

    You call Seattle and offer them Evan Gattis for Kyle Seager.

  25. Ryan @24, I don’t see any free (non-paywalled) scouting reports for Heff or Moses, but the general rule of thumb is that people who have played in college should be able to handle A-ball. (Hefflinger was in JuCo for just a year, and Moses played at Southeastern Missouri State for a couple of years.) The real transition to watch out for is Double-A. They were both relatively low draft picks — Hefflinger in the 7th round in 2009, Moses in the 26th round in 2012 — so I don’t think we’ll know what we have in Hefflinger and Moses until they get promoted to Mississippi.

  26. @27, we don’t need a catcher. McCann’s bat doesn’t play anywhere else, and Gattis’s glove doesn’t play anywhere else. I don’t know what we could get for Gattis in a trade, but rather than spend the money on McCann and flip Gattis, I’d rather hold onto Gattis, let McCann walk, and spend that money on keeping our young players around.

  27. Wait a second…
    Evan Gattis is under team control for the next 5 years, is the best story in baseball, and his merchandise can’t stay on the shelf, and you’re suggesting to trade him for Kyle Seager? Well that’s silly…

  28. Yeah…the Quad A player sounds like both of their ceilings, however I was hoping someone felt differently.

  29. @29, my back of the envelope math suggests that there’s definitely enough money to keep all the youngsters and McCann around for 3 years, probably for 4 years, maybe not for 5 but in the long run we’re all dead. And flags fly forever.

    I’m wary of a stealth sequester being imposed on the Braves’ operating budget. There’s always money in the banana stand…

  30. @29, I think Sams point is that we all would, but there is nobody to spend it on.

    OF is set, SS, 2B,1B and C are set. Rotation is set. You don’t drop Mccann money on the bullpen or bench. Which leaves…..

    Potential 3B FA

    Wilson Betemit *
    Eric Chavez
    Mark DeRosa
    Mike Fontenot
    Jerry Hairston Jr.
    Brandon Inge
    Placido Polanco
    Mark Reynolds
    Juan Uribe
    Kevin Youkilis
    Michael Young

    or option B – sign MCCann and swap Gattis or some other assets for a top 3B prospect/veteran w/ salary relief

  31. @27, you spend the money trying to lock up some of our younger players. Of course, it takes two to tango and our younger guys might all decide to play it out and wait for the big free agency pay day.

    I think 140 games of Gattis at catcher will give us more than McCann will next year, and for far less money. If you think McCann will out-produce Gattis then I can understand wanting to keep him. I don’t think that he will, but even if he did would it be that big of a difference?

  32. @34, Seager is like the only good position player the Mariners have. It would take a lot more than Gattis, and our minor league system is pretty threadbare right now. As much as third base annoys me at present, I place greater priority on locking down Andrelton before he figures it out with the bat and gets expensive — say, $20 million guaranteed for the next 7 years with a couple of friendly team options — and Freeman, Heyward, maybe Minor and Medlen. I don’t know if there’s a way to do it with any of them. But they are the ones we should be spending money on. I’m not sure that any of those 3B FA will be appreciably better than, say, Pastornicky.

  33. So now the AJC is putting some Braves content behind a paywall. Remember when they tried to make us pay to read Terrance Moore?

  34. That’s an ugly looking group of free agent third basemen. Mainly guys who are toast or are not everyday players.

    I guess the Braves will need to tolerate Johnson until Kubitza or someone is ready. CJ is under team control until 2017, also.

  35. @34 – that is indeed my point. The only guy worth spending money on this winter is Brian McCann. The Braves can either spend money on him and flip other pieces; or spend money on him and go into 2014 with essentially the same team as 2013; or not spend money on him and go into 2014 with the same team, minus Brian McCann.

    The only way they drastically improve any position is to move a piece that someone else might want. Find a pitching starved team with a stud 3B, dangle Minor or Beachy or Teheran, and then resign Hudson. Find an AL team with need of a slugging DH monster and a 3B to move, dangle Gattis and resign McCann. Those are ways to improve the team for 2014.

    Otherwise, you are stuck with the “spend it on extensions to Simmons and Heyward” theory of using you budget.

  36. @39 – that’s the case with FA’s at every position. High end players rarely get to free agency these days. Hell, Brian McCann is just now hitting the market, and he’s 30.

  37. First of all, if these players have agents who aren’t idiots, they’ll probably keep them from signing any of these arbitration-year buy-out deals. Secondly, there’s not that many I’d be willing to lock up long-term right now. Freeman, certainly. And then? There is no way I’m offering Jason Heyward a long-term deal right now. There’s way too much potential of that entire thing imploding (though no one wants to admit it). It’s too early to offer Gattis. Simmons’ hitting has to improve before I think about him. I’m not really wild on locking up any of the pitchers long-term. Medlen, maybe. Minor, maybe. Too early on Teheran. Offering Beachy now would be pretty silly (though maybe he has a great second half and I’m more confident by the offseason). And I’m actually inclined to agree with the people who think offering a closer a long-term contract isn’t a particularly good idea, so I’m not sure I’m offering Kimbrel, either. I’m sure I’d want to re-sign some of these people eventually, and that will take money. I know signing everybody to long term deals sounds good in theory, but I’m honestly not sure that inking anybody but Freeman (and maybe pick one of Medlen and Minor) to a long-term deal really makes that much sense right now. We’ll certainly re-sign some of them in the end, but I’d really rather be able to pick and choose at the time on most of them.

  38. @38 I’ve barely visited AJC since the paywall went up.

    Let McCann walk. Spending money on him just because there’s nothing better to spend it on does’t make it a good idea.

  39. Plus Gattis’s value could be at an all time high this winter.

    I thnk we move Uggla this winter thoguh

  40. @44: I don’t see how they move Uggla. They could basically give him away for free and get maybe $5m in salary relief over the entire course of the remaining contract, but I don’t see how paying Uggla $21m to play for someone else is preferable to keeping him around to see if he rebounds somewhat. Basically, he is a zero- or negative-net-value asset. Assets like that you generally can’t move.

  41. The good thing is that we can basically make zero moves and still expect to be in first place next year too (with or without McCann, with or without Hudson).

  42. Can someone please fill me in on the “Game, Blauser” stuff? Someone said there was a funny backstory on another thread.

  43. @40 Any contract we’d have to offer McCann would be for a lot longer than just next season. I don’t think it’s wise to ignore all the subsequent years in which we’d be dramatically overpaying for an aging catcher.

    Sorry, as much as I like McCann, it just makes no sense to keep him when you have a cost controlled replacement capable of equivalent levels of production. Even if we assume you can’t spend the money on a better FA next year, it’s a bad long term move of the kind that a team like the Braves can not afford to make and still remain a contender for long. And you can’t ignore that ability to upgrade by taking on higher salary players via trade.

  44. I think that this is exactly the time to extend Simmons and Heyward. Their defense alone makes them worth extending, and their offensive potential is what makes the deals potentially vastly undervalued. Both Heyward and Simmons will understand that their offensive troubles mean that they have a bit of risk involved, and the Braves could give them enough money to basically ensure that they would have a decent existence for the rest of their lives.

    They may not take it, but I think that the Braves should be trying to do it. I’d rather spend $20 million each on Heyward, Freeman, and Simmons (that’s basically the McCann deal) than $60 million on McCann this offseason.

  45. @23 You may well be right. I’m just reading between the lines from his quotes over the last year. I get the sense that he doesn’t really *want* to leave Atlanta, even though he knows he’ll eventually have to if he wants to prolong his career. It’s unlikely, yes, but if both parties have a desire to see it happen, for a shorter contract, I don’t think it’s out of the question.

    @26 I have it on good authority from a mutual friend of mine and McCann’s (just blind luck I met her) that his intention is to make his best friend his new agent for this coming negotiation. (This is another reason I have to suspect he may be open to staying a Brave for a while longer.)

    @27/30 I know I seem to be in the minority — and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what Evan Gattis has done so far — but I just don’t see that he’s yet proven he can take over our starting catcher position. Maybe by the end of the season, depending on whether he’s maintained his offensive production. As I said before, I’ve gotten a first-hand look at the current Mariners regime, and I’m sad to say it’s not a brain trust. (Sad because it would be nice to have some decent baseball to be able to take my daughter to here in the Emerald City.) I think we could pry Seager away from them for, say, three prospects, two of whom we secretly think are more hype than reality. Seattle is desperate and not great at evaluating other teams’ prospects (*cough*Jesus Montero*cough).

    @38 Not only has much of the best content gone behind the paywall, but the paywall doesn’t work. I reluctantly signed up for the MyAJC content when they stopped the free look in mid-May — but I finally had to ask for my money back, because every day it wouldn’t accept my sign-in info and I had to call customer service and get them to reset it. The last tech support guy I spoke to confidentially suggested I try back in a few months; clearly I wasn’t the only one having that problem. I’ve actually tweeted DOB, Jeff Schultz, Mark Bradley and the AJC Sports Editor account about it, but apparently none of them seems to care that the paywall that’s supposed to preserve their jobs a while longer isn’t actually functional for some readers. I weep at the death of print journalism (and perhaps journalism in general), but if the very people whose livelihoods are at stake can’t be bothered to care, then I guess I shouldn’t either. Sigh.

    @46 Not necessarily saying you’re wrong, but please do share your thinking.

  46. @48/49 Agreed on McCann — has to be a shorter contract with hometown discount money or it doesn’t work for ATL. 3 yrs/$45M is longest/highest I’d go. If he wants more than that, thank him sincerely and wish him well.

  47. @50, my thinking is that pretty much the whole team is back next year. If McCann walks then Gattis should do fine. If a starter or two leaves then we have Alex Wood and a host of other minor league guys that are nearly ready, plus hopefully Beachy for a full year. I don’t think there is tremendous pressure to make moves just for the sake of “doing something”.

  48. Yep, it’s a reference to the Chappelle Show skit where Charlie Murphy plays Prince in basketball.

    On a side note, is anyone on here going to see Chappelle on his new comedy tour? He’s coming to ATL this weekend but I can’t make the shows.

  49. @50, that’s fascinating. Starting in a couple of weeks, I’m going to be working on the paywall at The Washington Post. (“Paywall” is not their preferred term, but it’s the most commonly used one.) I don’t really know anyone at the AJC or Cox right now, but I’d love to talk to someone over there to hear what their thinking is regarding the paywall.

  50. Heyward ain’t signing no extension until he gets his value up – that’s why he said no this offseason.

  51. @50, if the death of journalism is what is required to get DOB, Schultz, and Bradley to stop writing, that’s a fair trade. If it still included Moore, it’s a clear win for humanity.

  52. Schafer 7
    Heyward 9
    JUpton DH
    Freeman 3
    McCann 2
    BUpton 8
    Uggla 4
    CJohnson 5
    Simmons 6
    Medlen 1

  53. I’m glad Scahfer keeps pushing Simmons to the 8-hole, where he belongs. I remain a bit mystified that Fredi doesn’t seem to care about breaking up his lefty and righty hitters, an important aspect of lineup construction that’s also trivially easy to accomplish. Switch McCann and B.J. and you make it considerably harder for one OOGY to mow through a whole inning of same-handed batters late in the game.

  54. @55, I look forward to hearing anything you find out. And good luck at the WaPo!

    @57, I will probably stop laughing at that post sometime tomorrow morning. No time soon. :-)

  55. @59 – He’s betting on the likelihood of a two-out, two-on situation finds McCann instead of BJ somewhere in the first 6 innings. Without knowing dip about the Royals roster, if they don’t have a lights-out loogy, I’d take that bet, too. McCann is not a slouch against lefties, just the really good ones.

  56. He’s also betting that BJ Upton hasn’t earned the right to hit ahead of Brian McCann just yet. He’s had a good month, but he’s still below .200 and… not above McCann in the order.

  57. Earned, schmearned. One of the more basic jobs of a manager in setting his lineup is avoiding tempting runs of same-handed batters. You need to impose penalties on opposing bullpens for using their specialists, or you are needlessly throwing away a tactical advantage. With the lineup as right-handed as it is, Fredi can’t have a perfect break up of lefties and righties, but that’s no excuse for making things worse than he has to.

    Edit: Also, he’s hit B.J. directly in front of McCann plenty of times. The most recent occasion was… June 23.

  58. Meh. Okay, so it’s just manager’s decision. Such is the world. It’s not a big deal. This is you bitching about Fredi because you like to bitch about Fredi. Seriously. It’s the handedness of the #5 and #6 hitter. That hair’s already thin enough as it is.

    EDIT: Do you really think there’s going to be a situation where the game is on the line and you think “GAWD, IF ONLY WE COULD PH GERALD LAIRD HERE!?” Because I do not. Brian McCann is not going to be pulled due to the handedness of a reliever. Period.

  59. Fredi’s so stupid that where it says “sign” on the lineup card he wrote “Aquarius”

  60. 64: By a similar token, this is you defending Fredi because you are contrarian.

    And no, of course you don’t pull McCann. If your batting order is constructed correctly, you force the Royals to pull their LOOGY because they would rather not leave him in to face B.J. in order to get to McCann. Or you let them eat the unfavorable matchup.

    This stuff, unlike a lot of lineup construction stuff, actually has the potential to be pretty important over the course of the season. Platoon splits are very real, and keeping your batters in favorable matchups to the greatest extent possible is an important part of being a good tactical manager (which Fredi isn’t).

  61. Well, perhaps the answer is that the Royals have only one lefthanded reliever, Tim Collins, and he’s not a specialist, having faced 57 righties and 54 lefties.

    This being the case, I’d want McCann to get a crack at any runners-on situation before BJ, especially since their first 2 or 3 AB’s are guaranteed to be against the righthanded starter.+

  62. #50
    I’m guessing the reason the writers didn’t get back to you is that it’s not their job & they’re not going to dime-out someone they work with (even if they don’t know them). It doesn’t help them to share any misgivings they may have with the current situation because, ultimately, it’s not their call.

    I work at a print publication (with digital platforms, etc.) & when I occasionally get circulation-related or site-related I-got-a-problem emails misrouted to me, all I can do is forward them to the proper persons.

    I’m not going to tell a subscriber who’s squalling about his/her subscription that I can help them because I really can’t beyond forwarding their email (and telling them that I did).

  63. McCann has caught almost 9,000 innings in the Majors and will get a huge contract this offseason. And if that contract is with the Braves, it’d be a huge mistake.

    Adding to that, there’s no reason to not let Gattis prove/disprove his ability as a full-time catcher for 2014 and dangling him as trade bait would be an epic mistake by anyone in the front office. As much as we all here love McCann for his production over the last decade, in the now, the average Braves fan loves Gattis much, much more. His story, whether it ends well or not, should be told while wearing a Braves uniform. If he fails, we apparently have the best defensive catcher in the Minors to fall back on.

    There’s money to spend but it shouldn’t be on McCann. Start signing some of these young guys to extensions and keep the core of this offense centered around the Uptons, Gattis, Heyward, and Freeman. Money will get tight very soon and it’d be nice to see the Braves spending it when they have it, like this year…

  64. As much as we all here love McCann for his production over the last decade, in the now, the average Braves fan loves Gattis much, much more

    And this is why if I ever hear a complaint about a player signing elsewhere instead of giving a “hometown discount” again, the author can count on an immediate dressing down. Gattis has >200PAs to McCann’s 4000+. McCann came here and has played like a HoFer for nearly 9 seasons and never bitched about the fans, attendance, the payroll, the roster or the team choosing a lesser talent to be it’s Golden Boy. It’s taken less than six months to go from How can we keep you? to See ya! from the fan base.

    It’s no wonder the Heywards of the world have no interest in signing extensions. Get to free agency as fast as you can and get paid, because at the end of the day, nobody loves but your mother, and she might be jivin’ too.

  65. @67 The Braves traded Tiny Tim Collins to the Royals (along with others) in the 2010 deadline deal to get Ankiel and Professor Farnsworth. Much like former Brave prospect Mike Dunn, Collins strikes out a lot of guys but his ceiling is limited by poor control. Collins has no platoon split, so it makes sense he’s not being used like a LOOGY.

  66. @67: The LOOGY was an example; it goes both ways, of course. Their Juan Gutierrez, while not being used as a ROOGY, has allowed a .390 wOBA to lefties and a stifling .200 wOBA to righties. As the lineup is presently constructed, he can go B.J.-Uggla-Johnson. As it should be constructed, he’d be less likely to get his run of three righties, and if he did it would need to go through Simmons, who is bad anyway.

  67. I think the situation with McCann is complicated by his position. If it were Heyward or Andrelton or Freddie who had had McCann’s career up to his first year of free agency, it’s a no-brainer that we’d be in overdrive to resign. But catcher is, unfortunately for everyone involved, a less productive position as the player gets older.

  68. I’ll admit that I’ve been a huge Gattis fan since I heard his story, and I’ve been a huge McCann fan since Smoltz bragged on his calling skills his first time catching him (McCann’s is the only jersey I own), but if it’s between Gattis for 5 years at <10 million total compared to McCann for 15 million a year for minimum 5 years, I wouldn't blink twice about letting McCann go make his money elsewhere.

  69. @68 — You’re entitled to your opinion, and to your SOP. But I’m a writer, and if I knew for a fact that
    a) my entire industry was imperiled by an obsolete business model,
    b) my employer was trying desperately to stave off that fate by experimenting with subscriber models, upon the success of which my very livelihood depended, and
    c) the technology for said subscriber model did not function, which meant frustrating and driving away potential subscribers and blowing what might be the last, best hope to save my publication, my job, and indeed my entire occupation?

    I personally might decide that DOB-style curmudgeonliness, ignoring members of the public experiencing those tech failures and thus not contributing financially to my livelihood, and (not to put too fine a point on it) derogating fellow posters on internet blogs who want simply to be able to pay me for what I want to write for them to read, might actually not be the best strategy. But you must do what you think is best, of course.

    @70 – Yes.

    @74 – Again, I don’t hear anyone suggesting offering more than three years to Brian is a good idea. (And I may be the only one who’s willing to go that high, which I only am if the money is inversely proportional.)

  70. Gattis is pure marketing gold. The Braves won’t trade him. He may or may not pan out, but we’ll be finding that out while he’s a Brave. I just hope he stays healthy.

    McCann will make more money and play longer in the AL. Why should he take a hometown discount? That’d be stupid.

  71. @76 I agree – but the vitriol from sportswriters and fans if a top player leaves via free agency when it’s not quite so convenient for the home team is overwhelming.

  72. Shanks has good sources, but he isn’t good. Listen to him at your peril.

    Paul Evans, an old high school teacher of mine, wrote this about the Beatles in The Rolling Stone Album Guide: “Theirs is the final, great consensus in popular music. Not liking them is as perverse as not liking the sun.”

    The same is true of Brian McCann. Disliking him is simply unjustifiable. He played at a Hall of Fame level.

    … but that doesn’t mean that it would be smart for the team to pay him the money that he’s got coming to him.

  73. Shanks’ first sentence: “The similarities are striking.” Oh, you mean in all the superficial ways? Sure. Whatever.

  74. #75
    Again, it’s not their call to make these business decisions (dubious as they may be) or correct any tech issues, so why would they engage the public with their individual grievances about them? (If I’m understanding you correctly, that’s what you’re asking them to do, right?) Think the writers’ superiors would dig that?

    It doesn’t accomplish anything for them to point up the organization’s technical shortcomings to readers. But I guarantee you that, if the writers have grievances (and I’m sure they do if things aren’t working), they’ll be aired out in meetings, and loudly.

    Editorial staff doesn’t fix the coding anymore than the circ & tech departments write the game stories. Some of the public may not understand that, but that’s the deal.

    Here’s an analogy: An advertiser gets upset because my magazine runs an old ad & he confronts me about it at a trade show. Advertising is pretty important in the trade-publishing world. Ultimately, it pays the freight & we like to make nice with advertisers (usually).

    But I’m not the ad sales guy & I’m not the printer, so I have no idea what did or didn’t happen so that the wrong ad ran. But I listen & pass on the information.

    Now my ad-traffic manager might’ve screwed up or the advertiser might’ve simply missed its materials deadline–I don’t know which it is because it’s not part of my job description to keep up with that. (I do editorial, which keeps me plenty busy.) So I don’t want to tell this guy one thing or another because it doesn’t actually help anything at all.

    If we screwed up, the advertiser gets a “make-good” ad & someone gets their ass chewed behind closed doors; if the advertiser missed a deadline, I still didn’t publicly share any misgivings I might have about a co-worker.

  75. No chance the braves resign Bmac next year. You don’t pay him FA money when Gattis replaces his production for league minimum.

  76. I agree the front office has some Moneyball skills. Forced by their budget. My doubts are focused in the direction of Fredi Jesus Gonzalez. He’s got a team that hits home runs. But it seems like he’s managing it so maximize the odds of solo HR rather than 2 or 3 run HR. What are the statistics of Fredi’s number of bunts vs the league? Could it be argued that bunts are part of the reason why there are so many relievers needing surgery. That playing small ball leads to close games rather than blowouts and that puts more stress on reliever arms?

  77. Pitchers are learning to throw curve balls at younger ages now, that’s the primary cause for these elbow injuries. Managers playing to matchups and using multiple relievers in single innings can probably be linked in some way though.

  78. @85 – That process, messy though it sounds, would satisfy me as a consumer. As a writer with a public Twitter account, I’d still probably acknowledge well-meaning efforts from followers to let me know about the problem, while trying not to indict my employer in any way. But then I have far fewer Twitter followers than any of them do, so maybe my perspective is skewed. Fair enough.

  79. Kris, anytime you’d like to stop impersonating Ryan Zimmerman, we’re ready.

  80. Absolutely horrendous execution of the run down there. CJ does nothing correctly in the field.

  81. @76 – Not to sound pedantic, but the first reason that comes to mind is that Atlanta is his hometown. And that the Braves are the team he grew up loving, just as we do. For some players, that carries some weight. I certainly wouldn’t judge those players who wanted to go for the biggest payday, but I know if I were him I’d consider taking a bit less to stay in my home and the organization I love for a bit longer. I don’t think that’s an unprecedented notion.

  82. That pitch to Simmons landed a foot short of the plate and on the chalk of the LH’d batters box. Yes, he swung at it.

    Then someone either called for a steal or he just took off. #idiots

  83. Well at least we won’t get no-hit tonight. Scoring is going to be a challenge though. This guy has good stuff and we’ve got a whole team that wants to be the first to put one in the fountain.

    Edit: Simmons was out on a hit and run – he looked back in and Schafer swung at a pitch a foot off the plate.

  84. Our hitters need to just imitate Uggla when Fredi calls hit and runs. “Sorry, skip, but I couldn’t see your fingers- they were just a blur. And you look just like one of our catchers. Little Oso, we’ll call ya.”

    Edit: Jason grounds out “sharply.” Improvement, I guess.

  85. @97 No, I’m not. I’m assuming *I’d* want to keep him. Did you read any of my previous posts on the subject?

  86. @102, I did…but McCann’s feelings don’t really matter if we’ve made up our minds to let him walk. He may be inclined to want to stay, but it’s not totally up to him – that’s all I’m saying.

  87. We may get shutout tonight the way Santana is throwing, and the way we look against unfamiliar pitchers.

  88. @104 Sorry, I meant on previous threads. My comments today were a continuation of a thought experiment begun a few days ago. I assumed you’d seen them all. My apologies.

    Point being, I began it by saying if it were me, I’m not ready to commit to Gattis as my full-time starting catcher and I might try to see if Brian had any interest in a shortish deal of 2-3 years at $15-17M per. But you’re right, I doubt the team will do so.

  89. @108, Gattis will be 27 in two months…they aren’t going to wait until he’s 30 to see if he can start. The only way I can see them keeping McCann around is if Gattis gets severely injured and at the same time McCann agrees to a discount. Unlikely, but I guess it could happen.

  90. @108, Don’t forget, we have Laird on a 2-year deal. Anything can change as the season progresses, but I am guessing the Braves front office look at a Laird/Gattis combo as a good bet for 2014.

  91. @112/114 – All good points. The presence of Laird does mitigate the risk a bit. I just want a bigger sample size on Gattis’s bat at this level before I put all my eggs in his basket. (End of the season should be sufficient.)

  92. Chip and Joe have been all over the fact that KC plays small ball, focuses on the little things, and they’ve totally been great in the clutch with RISP. What they haven’t mentioned yet is that we’ve scored 30 more runs than KC despite letting our pitchers hit.

  93. Uh oh…lead off double, a bunt from Simmons then the squeeze from Success…if we know it, I am sure Neddy-boy knows it too

    Edit..Simmonsbriefly messed up Fredi’s plan with the failure to get the bunt down, but then followed with the single to set Fredi and Success up

  94. How much do you want to bet that Fredi just wants to yell SQUEEZE!!! at the top of his lungs right now?

  95. Success!!!

    Wow. We strung three hits together, and despite our best efforts didn’t surrender an out in the middle of them!

  96. And this is why you don’t bunt.

    And Success needs to take playing time from all the other OF. He’s flat out getting it done right now.

  97. Tried we did to give them outs, but the gods of foul balls did not allow.

  98. Andrelton fucking up Fredi’s plan to give away an out, followed by a big inning, might be the most satisfying development I’ve seen all year.

  99. Three runs on no homers without giving any outs up. Christmas has come early for Braves fans.

  100. Wow, we’re doing so well not giving up outs this inning, it’s gotten to the point where our opponent is giving us baserunners!

  101. Good inning. Can’t decide if my favorite moment was Andrelton’s base hit after getting into a Fredi-induced 2-strike count, or Jason shanking a sharp single to right.

  102. Good things can happen when your leadoffs get on base and we choose not to give away outs. Hope the trend continues. I need some half price papa johns tomorrow and we are 3 runs away.

  103. Consider me obsessed with the negative if you must, but I’m more upset with having Heyward on second with no one out and not getting him home than I was pleased with the three runs that scored.

    Seven pitches, three outs. Way to make Santana work, guys.

  104. Well that was quick. Not sure Medlen can pitch up in the zone to anyone.

    Elsewhere, Met’s prospect Zach Wheeler has thrown 109 pitches through 5.1 innings tonight – not exactly easing him in there are they.

  105. I feel like Freddie is as good at starting DPs as any first basemen in the league. He does that so well.

  106. Freeman must have been unable to play third base whenever he was tried there at some point in the past. It’s a shame that rifle of an arm is wasted at first.

  107. I would like Fredi to fight the urge to leave Medlen in too long, and turn it over to Walden and Kimbrel.

  108. Back-to-back BJ and Uggla hits? That’s something you don’t see every day. Let’s turn this into some runs, Bravos!

  109. Simmons is going to have to learn bat control — he upper cuts everything and tries to pull .. he is gonna have to get the ball down more.. he pops out more than anybody on team.

  110. @177 Figured as much. Too bad that inning probably guarantees that we’ll bunt 100% of the time when that situations arises.

    Walden looks shaky.

  111. Pitchers, please cancel your Wednesday lunch plans at Jack Stack’s, Bryant’s or Oklahoma Joe’s for two hours of work on throwing to first. Former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil would tell you that Joe’s delivers to the Truman Sports Complex if you tip nicely.

  112. The Fresh Prince is Caucasian, 250 pounds and comes from Georgia? I’ll be damned.

  113. @55 Just saw this. I know someone at the Washington Post, and he was saying the other day that there are a lot of easy holes right now to get around it.

  114. That Will Smith guy was not on the 25 man roster on MLB.com. The only lefties on their roster this afternoon were Collins and Bruce Chen.

  115. @187: My understanding is that that’s actually part of the business strategy, strange as it may seem. Those who are real news junkies and have a few bucks will pay, those who read casually will see 5 articles per month and never run into the paywall, those who want to read and have no money but a little more time/dedication can find ways around (e.g., googling articles by title). You don’t really turn off any of your groups of readers, but you do make some extra money. At least, this seems to be the tack papers like NYT and WaPo are taking; don’t know about AJC.

  116. Craig’s a bit off, but he’s also getting squeezed. According to Gamecast, Ball 1 to Dyson caught the inside corner.

  117. Uh, you might want to walk this guy. (And with that, I might have just jinxed us for Escobar’s at-bat. My bad.)

  118. If he recovers from the bug hitting him in the face. Honestly…

    Edit: And that’s what they do, to face Escobar.

  119. Bob Davidson granted him time for a bug in his eye when the pitcher was already in his delivery.

    So, are we to believe he wouldn’t call a balk on Kimbrel if he had a bug fly in HIS eye?

  120. Escobar’s OPS: .534 at home, .632 in June, .534 vs. RHP. C’mon, Craig … do what you do best.

    EDIT: The one-minute iPad delay strikes again.

  121. Alright! Good guys win! And the Braves have a lifetime 1.000 winning percentage in Kansas City!

  122. Whew. Way too interesting of a 9th, but a good win and good to have Heyward contribute in a big way.

  123. @190 Yes, I gathered some might be deliberate. My friend does content not tech, so I don’t think he knows for sure. But it also sounded like there were a few that were a bit too easy for a while, like literally just refreshing the page. They’re doing a phase in of the whole setup, though, and I can definitely see the usefulness of letting some through the cracks.

  124. Minor League Notes…
    Terdo goes deep again, now has 18HR and a .952 OPS
    Bethancourt hit his 4th, but is still stuggling with the bat
    Hefflinger with his 21st tonight and has a .925 OPS

  125. So, make of this what you will, but, I think I recall someone saying that the Nats were just as bad with Harper as they’ve been without him.

    When Harper plays – 25-19

    When Harper doesn’t – 13-19

    He’s on his way back. It’d be a great time to figure a couple things out with the bats.

  126. Good news I thought I’d share with any MLB.TV and TiVo subscribers – I just discovered TiVo has added MLB.TV to its list of in-menu apps. In HD too – I’d guess a relatively decent looking 720p. Looks like it might even be 30 FPS. (EDIT: Nope, 24. But still.)

    I’m so excited. No longer am I chained to small screens! (These are the little pleasures we out-of-market fans live for.)

    ‘Night, all.

  127. @222- Almost as important as getting Harper back is that the Nats found a way to fix the biggest hole in their lineup by playing Rendon at 2B. I suspect they’ll play at least 15 games above .500 from here on out. Would be nice to reel off a long winning streak and bury them.

  128. Apparently Ramiro Pena’s injury may be more serious than the Braves let on. Bowman says that Pena is getting a second opinion and that Fredi won’t give details.

  129. In addition to Pena’s woes, Gattis has yet to be cleared for baseball activities. It sounds like his stay on the DL might be a little longer than 15 days.

  130. A utility infielder playing over his head is pretty replaceable, and we have bigger issues. Paul Janish, come on down.

  131. And I know Gattis has become a veritable reason for being — looking at his slash and k%, he does personify of our offense — but our current guy has shown himself to be pretty capable.

    Remember McCann’s oblique injury? Might be wise to temper expectations for Gattis RoS.

  132. Not sure if anyone mentioned this update yet….

    Cristhian Martinez (shoulder) will have his rehab assignment moved to Double-A Mississippi.
    Martinez, out since April 12 with a right shoulder sprain, struck out four in two scoreless innings Friday during an appearance with the Braves’ rookie league team. No word on how many more appearances he’ll need, but a return before the All-Star break appears realistic.
    Jun 25 – 3:48 PM
    Source: David O’Brien on Twitter

  133. @230, Jim Powell said Lisp went one inning and gave up 2 runs yesterday in his Mississippi rehab assignment.

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