Taking Stock at the All-Star Break: Who Am Us, Anyway?

The Braves are 54-41, in first place by six games. On the other hand, they’re also 5-5 in their last 10 games, 11-9 in their last 20, 15-15 in their last 30, 21-19 in their last 40, 27- 23 in their last 50, 33-27 in their last 60, 38-32 in their last 70, and 41-39 in their last 80. Without mentioning anything unlucky, it’s possible to say the following two things: 1) the Braves are a good team that is very likely to make it to October, and 2) the Braves are a flawed team that is benefiting from an extraordinarily weak division.

So, who am us, anyway? (The title was stolen from an old Firesign Theater line.)

First, it’s easy to see who we’re not. Before the season, you could predict that the Mets and Marlins wouldn’t be much good. Both teams traded their best players to the Blue Jays: Dickey from the Mets and Reyes, Johnson, and Buehrle from the Marlins. (The Blue Jays didn’t manage to get better, but the Marlins and Mets certainly managed to get worse.)

The Phillies were old and have gotten older, and catastrophic injuries to Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard were another nail in the coffin. They still have some good players, particularly Hamels, Lee, the emergent Domonic Brown, and Zombie Chase Utley. I won’t count them out till the stake is through their heart, but they’re more likely to play spoiler than to be a wild card.

That leaves the Nationals, and if you think the Braves offense has been frustrating, just be glad you haven’t been rooting for them. A few little things have gone wrong: Bryce Harper missed a month after crashing into a wall, the bullpen ERA is three-tenths of a run higher this season than last season, Danny Espinosa tried to hide a broken wrist for nearly two months while struggling to hit his weight, Dan Haren has been off most of the season. But they’ve gotten creditable performances from rookies Anthony Rendon, who seems to have Wally Pipped Espinosa, and from Taylor Jordan, filling in for a disabled Haren. The first-half Nationals have been less than the sum of their parts. I wouldn’t count on that remaining the case all year.

To this point, the Nationals and Phillies have been very top-heavy teams: some stars are performing very well, but others have performed very poorly or failed to stay on the field. The Braves have benefited from a much more balanced roster, with few exceptional performances but a large number of good enough ones.

Generally speaking, the stars are all flawed in one way or another, but they compensate for their flaws in other ways. Andrelton Simmons is having a Francoeurian year at the plate, but he is very possibly the best defensive player in the majors. The Upton-Upton-Heyward outfield all have contact issues and swing through too many fastballs, but they compensate with power and arm strength, and Jason Heyward is one of the best defensive outfielders and baserunners in the National League.

Dan Uggla strikes out a ton and plays poor defense but hits a bunch of homers and walks a lot. (My favorite description of him at the plate comes from W.C.G., who correctly noted that he “is a spiderweb-on-the-elbow tattoo away from actually being 2007 Andruw Jones.”) Chris Johnson plays brutal defense, but he’s done nothing but hit all year. Of course, Freeman and McCann are the All-Stars — hard to complain about them.

It’s similar when it comes to the pitching staff. Both Minor and Teheran have terrific strikeout to walk ratios, but they are occasionally undone by the longball. Kris Medlen is great when he can find his command but that only happens about half the time. Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm are both tightrope walkers.

Generally, the part-timers have been better, on both sides of the ball. The bullpen has been terrific, partly because, since Gearrin’s demotion, just about every man in there throws 95. Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro are tightrope walkers, but they still throw bullets. Walden, Carpenter, and Wood have all been terrific, and while Kimbrel hasn’t been the Kraken of 2012, he’s still Craig Kimbrel.

The bench has been wonderful, though strangely it has suffered a great deal more attrition than the starting lineup. Jordan Schafer and Ramiro Pena were having career years before a broken ankle and a torn labrum took them out of commission: Schafer will be out at least another month, and Pena’s out the rest of the season. Evan Gattis was having a Yasiel Puiglike rookie campaign before an oblique strain cost him a month. And at least by rate stats, Gerald Laird — the third catcher, now that both McCann and Gattis are healthy — is having by far the best season of his career.

What’s more, the organization has enough depth to be able to compensate for these injuries and more glancing blows to the starting lineup, as the Braves have been able to cycle in Reed Johnson, Joey Terdoslavich, and Jose Constanza, with Paul Janish playing the Rafael Belliard role as a defensive caddy shortstop when Andrelton Simmons needs a breath.

Now, it is a strange thing, and not entirely a good thing, when your bench is a doing a better job than your starters. It is not at all a good thing when commenters on this board can ask with a straight face whether Jordan Schafer ought to start in the playoffs over the brand-new $75 million center fielder. If I told you before the season that B.J. Upton would have a worse season than Jordan Schafer, I doubt that you would have concluded that the Braves would lead their division by six games at the All-Star break. Yet here we are.

The thing is, because so many Braves starters have underperformed, the team isn’t exactly likely to regress. In fact, it would not be surprising if the Braves started to experience better luck in the second half, and those players started to bounce back. There is some chance that Chris Johnson will regress; there is at least as good a chance that Heyward, Upton, and Upton will do far better than they have done so far. There is some chance that Avilan will melt down, or that David Carpenter’s arm will fall off, but there is at least as good a chance that one of two things will happen: Either a) Medlen will remember where the strike zone is as a starter, or b) Brandon Beachy will pitch at least as well in the rotation as 2013 Medlen while Medlen takes the place of our least effective reliever. Either way, the staff would add a very good piece.

There is no ultimate hedge against injury. So all of this has to be caveated appropriately. But still: the Braves are a good team, and though individual players have done better or worse than predicted, they have more or less performed as expected. They have a .568 winning percentage, which translates to 92 wins over a full season. That’s pretty much about what you’d have thought before the season.

Because of its evenly balanced roster, not reliant on any single player, this team is well built for the regular season. Of course, the postseason is a whole other story. But we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

226 thoughts on “Taking Stock at the All-Star Break: Who Am Us, Anyway?”

  1. AAR,

    Another fine job.
    Whether you know it or not, you’re our rock.

    Get healthy and have some fun, boys!

    Go Braves!

  2. A fantastic and dead-on summation. Bold prediction: Our offense picks it up a notch (how could it not?) but the pitching drops off a notch. However, with 38 games against IWOTM, IWOTF, the Phils, Cubs, and Padres, we’ll go 37-30 the rest of the way, win 91 games, and take the NL East by 5 games.

  3. Spot on. Now that is the most accurate assessment of the Braves I’ve seen yet. Unfortunately, I have not seen what the Braves execs did in BJ to warrant that size of contract. At this point, resigning B-Mac would be very prohibitive, financially, though preferable, sentimentally and short-term attractively. I hate to see him go, but I think it’ll be best for both parties in long run.

  4. Great summary Alex. What other team in both leagues would not want to have the Braves pitching depth? Or depth in general. Personally I can’t see what we need on the trade market that we don’t already have.

  5. Will Uggla keep up his HR pace. Were the new contacts the solution? Will Beachy’s return to the equivalent of a trade for #1 pitcher? Will Bethany come up with more smart ideas?
    Will the increase attendance all Barves to spend more next year?

  6. 4—Another reliable, left-handed bullpen arm, a Ramiro Pena replacement, if such a thing exists, and…yeah. I’d love to see another front-line starter acquired, but it’s not worth giving up Teheran to do so, and our system isn’t exactly overflowing with other elite prospects.

  7. @9, I had never heard of The Conception Corporation!

    More to the point, I’ve really never seriously listened to The Residents, though I’ve heard most of Third Reich ‘n Roll on Youtube. Do any of you mavens have any advice on how to get into the Residents, and whether that’s a worthwhile pursuit for a young ‘un?

  8. Thanks, AAR.

    Hopefully, a healthy Gattis will solidify the lineup; and the break and Beachy’s (imminent?) return will bolster the staff.

    If Janish could hit like Pastornicky or Pastornicky field like Janish, I’d be happy with our bench. Does Ramiro Pena require two players to replace him? Jeez, Louise.

  9. Great assessment, Alex.

    The downside to the balanced team approach is that you are left without obvious roster spots to upgrade. You can never have enough experienced power arms in the bullpen and I suspect that’s what the Braves will go after. I hope they go high end like a Matt Thornton.

    Taking into account the reality that the Braves are very unlikely to upgrade any starting position players, I think a top flight starter is what they need to become a real threat in the playoffs. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening either. I love Beachy as much as the next gal, but the guy is coming off surgery so my expectations are tempered. Adam Wainwright had a longer track record and more talent than Beachy and it took him a whole year to return to his awesome self.

  10. Disclosure: I’m becoming a fan of Chris Johnson. It’s just too much fun to root for him to continue his current pace, however dumb that might be.

    I do think it’s funny that the regression police seem to be calling off their dogs on here just because he kept hitting for merely a few more weeks after said police first started speaking up. His performance still technically shouldn’t be enough to persuade anyone that he won’t go pumpkin at some point, based on his track record. If you thought a .415 BABIP was ridiculous a month ago, it’s still utterly absurd now. I think his BABIP went up from the last time I checked!

    But it’s also worth saying: funny things can happen even over the course of 560-600 ABs. That’s basically what I’m pulling for at this point. After all, whoever said “Accordingly, the poet should prefer probable impossibilities to improbable possibilities” was right. Who was that? Shaquille O’Neal? :)

  11. Going back to the Hawks conversation from the previous thread, you can do what we’re doing and hope to sign a big-name free agent rather than tanking. I actually think that’s a better idea than tanking. At least if you sign a free agent, you know who you’re getting.

    In general, though, this whole situation is undoubtedly one of the reasons why I’m not a big fan of the NBA (even though I love college basketball). Any sport that is set up so that it’s better to be monumentally godawful than it is to be mediocre is kind of getting it backwards, if you ask me. I literally would not be able to stand being a life-or-death fan of a team that was intentionally trying to be as bad as possible, but numerous big-time NBA fans spend the offseason actually thinking of ways to sabotage their roster. It’s the way it works in the NBA, I realize, but I find it off-putting on a visceral level.

  12. @15, the Hawks have never been to a conference final…I think that’s much harder on the fans than one season of tanking would be. We start every new season with a so-so roster knowing full well that there’s a half-dozen or so teams that are clearly a lot better than us. There’s is a 0% chance that the Hawks will win the NBA championship next season. I don’t feel that way about the Braves most seasons, and lately I don’t feel that way about the Falcons. I don’t set the bar so high that it’s “win a championship or you suck” but I also at least want to think my team actually has legit chance at it once a decade or so.

    I look at it this way…if they were to give Schroder and Bebe serious minutes next season there’s a good chance our record will be a lot worse than it would be with Teague running the point full time and Elton Brand playing center. Which of those two options is better for our team 2 years from now?

  13. As long as we are wishing, I would like Justin Upton to hit like April again and I would like BJ to rise above the Mendoza.

  14. I’ve found the best way to get a response on here is to ask a direct question, otherwise it gets ignored. How much do you all think McCann will ask for? Would he not take a 3/42 deal?

  15. I look at it this way…if they were to give Schroder and Bebe serious minutes next season there’s a good chance our record will be a lot worse than it would be with Teague running the point full time and Elton Brand playing center. Which of those two options is better for our team 2 years from now?

    I see no reason to think the team 2 years from now would be better with Schreoder and Bebe playing every day this year, as opposed to developing in limited playing time this year while Ferry maintains tradeable assets for future potential dealing.

    That is to say, the argument for “tanking” is not “we should play the draftees to get them experience. The argument for tanking is “we should be as bad as possible in order to win ping pong balls in the lottery.” The development of the 2013 draft class has nothing to do with tanking vs asset stockpiling.

  16. As for the “tank for the lottery” strategy, when was the last time an NBA team won a championship via that strategy? LeBron? No. Kobe? LA; doesn’t really apply. Kevin Durant? Not quite yet.

    It seems to me that “tank for the lottery” is a really popular theory of how to get better that doesn’t really have any history of actually winning championships for franchises.

  17. @19, I don’t think it matters at all what McCann asks for. The ball is not in his court.

    @20, wouldn’t they develop faster if they weren’t glued to the end of the bench? It might be better for them to not be on the roster at all and play somewhere else full time. I don’t know what tradeable assets we’re maintaining other than Teague. Horford is a piece we want to keep (I think). Everyone else is role-player and roster-filler.

  18. @22: I don’t understand. Won’t he be a free agent? He can’t just ask the team for a certain deal?

  19. The Spurs won all their championships on the back of two #1 overall picks. Cleveland almost did it with LeBron. Durant has been close. Miami drafted Wade really high iirc. The Bulls have drafted high a bunch too.

    I would turn it around and ask if there’s ever been a team to win a championship comprised of all mid-round picks? Maybe just the Pistons? I would think that the majority of NBA champions have a least one top 5 pick on the roster. A lot of times those guys came via free-agency, but that avenue seems to be a non-starter for Atlanta.

  20. wouldn’t they develop faster if they weren’t glued to the end of the bench?

    I don’t know. I’m not a basketball development guru by any stretch of the imagination. But I don’t think it’s established that they will develop faster in the D-League, against inferior competition, than they would getting limited playing time in the NBA, learning on the job. Does Evan Gattis need to go to AAA to get more playing time?

    Teague, Korver, Milsap are all tradable commodities. I think your underrate the usefulness and skill of some of the players. The roster as it is currently assembled is even odds to be better than last year’s team. It’s not a championship winner, but in a division with both Miami and the “who cares about luxury taxes” Nets, that’s not likely going to be the case regardless.

    Again, the choice here is between moderate success while maintaining a collection of assets should a star become available via trade (while developing your draftees) vs. tanking for ping pong balls in the lottery (while developing your draftees.)

    I see no history in the NBA that suggests a mid-market, free agent unfriendly market like Atlanta should go the “tanking” route. The way for a mid-market org like the Hawks to compete in the NBA is to replicate the Spurs process, not to tank, hope and then watch him sign with Miami anyway Cavaliers process.

  21. The Spurs won all their championships on the back of two #1 overall picks.

    Initially. They maintained dominance by surrounding Tim Duncan with players that other teams undervalued. The Spurs are the Oakland A’s of basketball.

    Cleveland almost did it with LeBron. Durant has been close. Miami drafted Wade really high iirc. The Bulls have drafted high a bunch too.

    “Almost.” “Close.” The Heat needed to sign LeBron and Chris Bosh in order to take their Wade-centric team to the promised land.

  22. The Spurs process is 1.) Draft Tim Duncan #1 overall, and 2.) be smart about surrounding him with a supporting cast – looking overseas if needed.

    The Hawks won’t be able to do the first part if they keep winning 40 games. The second part seems doable no matter what the situation, but that first part is tough.

  23. #16
    Back in the days when only 8 teams made the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks actually did make the NBA’s “Final Four” in 1969 (beat SD, lost to LA) & again in 1970 (beat CHI, lost to LA). The NBA called them Division Finals back then.

    But, no matter the playoff format, it remains true that the Atlanta Hawks have never gotten past the 2nd round.

    I once thought that all Atlanta sports teams were cursed and/or hopeless. I now believe that only applies to the Hawks. And when they’ve been legit, there have always been 2 or 3 teams that were just better–Bullets, Celts, Sixers, Pistons, Bulls, whomever.

    IMO, next year’s East Conference should be similar to last year’s, except the Bulls should be better (with Rose) & I think the Nets could have one big regular season in them.

    I just hope the Hawks are entertaining & maintain some promise. At this point, nothing they do can touch me emotionally, except make The Finals or win the title.

  24. The Spurs process is 1.) Draft Tim Duncan #1 overall

    By pure luck, mostly. They didn’t tank, they got lucky in the ping pong bounce. (Which is another reason smart orgs don’t go the lottery route. It’s a LOTTERY!)

    The Hawks won’t be able to do the first part if they keep winning 40 games.

    Or they could go find a Tim Duncan in Brazil instead.

  25. @30, the Dominique-led Hawks teams that battled Boston and Detroit were *so* much better than any of our teams in the past ten years. Nobody on the current roster would even make some of those teams. That’s how good I want us to be again. No guarantee of a championship, but just to be that good again would be awesome. That was a great period to be a Hawks fan.

  26. Yeah, Unfortunately whatever McCann wants will be more than what Gattis makes. He is going to be a very rich dude playing for some other team next year.

    Emotionally I’d like to see McCann retire as a Brave. Analytically that desire is pure poppycock.

  27. @31, you can’t get into the lottery if you keep making the playoffs as a low seed. How ’bout we just don’t make the playoffs next year? The season will be one week shorter and we’ll still get to see exciting young guys play.

  28. Well, let’s hope the bet on Gattis pays off in the long run. I’d like to have both of them in the lineup.

  29. We will get to see exciting young guys play. The distinction between zero ping pong balls and one is minute. Certainly in this year’s draft the Hawks weren’t going to get a better player than Bebe or Schroeder just by missing the playoffs and getting one ping pong ball.

    I get the desire to have the franchise get back to competing at the highest level, but I don’t think tanking and hoping for lottery results is the best way to do that. At best, you get a LeBron or Dwight and hope he helps you win it all before signing with Miami or LA at his first opportunity. More likely, you get Greg Oden.

  30. #32
    That was the best era in Atlanta Hawks history, sure.

    They were a terrific defensive team with a great bench, but they had some fatal quirks: An offensive zero at center (Tree Rollins); an amazing physical talent just learning the game at power forward (Kevin Willis did some really strange & stupid things at times); an unstoppable Adrian-Dantley-like 6th-man scorer (Antoine Carr) who couldn’t stay on the floor because he was a fouling machine on the other end; and just a dearth of real shooters.

    They really could’ve used another real shooter/scorer in the starting lineup and, ultimately, that was the big difference between them and the Pistons, a group that had more good shooters than almost any 3 teams you could mention.

  31. It bears mentioning that the NBA plays under completely different rules than the ‘Nique era Hawks played under.

  32. I’m too young to really remember the Nique-led Hawks (at least the peak…I started watching them in the early 90s when they were on the downswing), but the farthest they ever got was the Eastern Conference semifinals. That’s also the farthest the Joe Johnson-Josh Smith iteration of the Hawks got. If you’re telling me the 1987-88 Hawks (the peak of that era) would beat the 2010-11 Hawks (the peak of that era) in a seven-game series, that’s fine, I guess, and I’m not necessarily doubting that you’re right. But I’m failing to see how the former was so much better than the latter from a bottom-line standpoint. They both ended up in the same place, so I’m not really seeing the difference.

  33. I wouldn’t mind having a few more tries at some top 5 or top 10 picks. The fact that we totally blew 3 out of most recent 4 high picks is something the current regime can’t change. This is the hard part of Hawks fandom. We’ve been rebuilding forever.

  34. @39 – the 1987-88 Hawks belonged there and had a chance. The 2010-11 Hawks got lucky to take Boston to 7 games.

  35. @39, the NBA was less watered down back then. The best teams had starting fives where four (or even five) guys might be considered all-star type players. ‘Nique, Doc Rivers, Antione Carr – those guys could really play. Randy Whitman could shoot the lights out. Kevin Willis was a bit of a wildcard but he had his moments. Tree was the weakest link but at least he knew his role. The bench was deep. Just a really good team. Probably a better team than a lot of other NBA champions. It’s just rotten luck that this team had to compete with the Boston dynasty and the emergence of Detroit.

  36. #38
    Yeah, the league was one step below the NFL in those days. Crazy physical battles down low & you could put your hands all over the dribbler.

    Comparing Eras: That Wilkins-Era Hawks team wasn’t a head-case team (outside of Willis’ occasional weirdness) like this bunch.

    IMO, the most recent Hawks teams have given up in playoff games. Some of those efforts were straight-up disgraces. Fratello’s teams might’ve been outmanned (’86 playoffs come to mind), but they never did that. In my book, that’s a big difference.

    And Dominique Wilkins in his prime was astonishing. We haven’t seen anyone like that in a Hawks uni since.

  37. @42

    2010-11 Hawks team was the one that lost to Chicago in six games in the second round, winning Game 1 in Chicago in the process, after absolutely blitzing a moderately-favored Orlando team in the first round. That team had the 5-seed going in, so you could argue the year before, when we had the 3-seed, was better, but that team had way more trouble with an underwhelming Milwaukee team in the first round than it should’ve (went seven games…Milwaukee should’ve won, really, as they had Game 6 to close it in Milwaukee) and then got swept in the second round by Orlando, so I’m taking the 2010-11 team as the peak of the most recent Hawks era. Either way, both of those teams were better than the 2007-08 team that took the world champion Celtics to seven games. That Hawks team was an 8-seed, and actually finished 37-45. It really wasn’t very good, but used the late-season acquisition of Mike Bibby to sneak into the playoffs somehow, despite the bad record. Though admittedly, that series will be the “signature moment” of the Johnson-Smith era, because all Hawks “signature moments” have to be seven-game losses to the freaking Celtics.

    Anyway, I do agree that, objectively speaking, the Wilkins era team was better than the Johnson-Smith era team. My only point was that, if we’re aiming for something, it shouldn’t be the Wilkins era, because though it was the best era in Atlanta Hawks history, we were clearly the third-best team in our conference, at best, and still had no shot of winning a championship. In the end, it’s not a great deal different from the recent era or from the mid 90s era if you’re looking at results.

  38. “Why be the next David Thompson at NC State, when you can be the only Dominique Wilkins at Georgia?”

    Who’s “aiming” for the Wilkins era? They were just the best teams the Atlanta Hawks have ever had, which doesn’t mean that much in the grand scheme.

  39. Unless this is the year where the NL adopts the DH there is pretty much zero chance that we can keep BMac around. Braves can’t afford to pay him $15+ per, not when he replacement makes league minimum and can give you the same production.

  40. Here are some recent contracts for catchers, free agency and extensions:

    NameYearsDollarsAge when signedDate of birthDate signed
    Victor Martinez4$50M3112/23/197811/24/2010
    Yadier Molina5$75M297/13/19823/1/2012
    Joe Mauer8$184M264/19/19833/22/2010
    Buster Posey9$167M263/27/19873/29/2013
    Carlos Santana5$21M264/8/19864/10/2012
    Brian McCann6$26.8M232/20/19843/1/2007
    Salvador Perez5$7M215/10/19902/27/2012

    I think there’s no way McCann signs for less than $50, and no realistic way he signs for less than $60. He’s a really, really good catcher, he just made his seventh All-Star team, and he’s a proven leader by any standard. Guys like that get paid.

  41. @11/Alex

    The Residents’ 1979 Eskimo is a very interesting and chilly-good concept album. I recommend it.

  42. #11
    IMO, The Residents videos are better than the records, but even the good stuff sounds kinda dated.

    I worked in a record shop with a Residents fan. He tortured me with that; I tormented him with Black Flag. We somehow made peace via the Butthole Surfers.

  43. @40 – The tanking strategy to get Tim Duncan as the #1 pick was employed….by the Boston Celtics. They ended up with Ron Mercer and Chauncey Billups. Billups was traded and Mercer flamed out of the league relatively quickly. Much later, the Celtics ended up winning a title by signing Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

    @52 – Dangit. Don’t show me these charts Alex. Your facts are getting in the way of my ‘sign McCann at any cost’ perceptions.

  44. I guess my point about comparing the late 80’s Hawks to the late 2010 version is that only one player from the 2000’s would have broken into the starting lineup: Josh Smith. Maybe. I guess if you were playing 2000 rules Horford might take Willis at PF, but if you’re playing by 87 rules Horford gets beat to holy hell and doesn’t have a chance physically in the low blocks.

  45. @55 – those Celtics did draft Paul Pierce with the 10th spot, and trade for Ray Allen, which convinced Kevin Garnett to sign with them rather than with the marquee free agent destinations (LA, NY.)

    Which is something like what the Hawks are trying to do now. They are drafting high upside talent from the international market and acquiring tradeable assets. Basically, they are taking a chance on Schroeder or Bebe becoming a Paul Pierce level star. At that point they will want to trade for a second star, a la Ray Allen to Boston. At that point, they will want to finalize the deal with a big FA acquisition.

  46. @54, thanks for the rec. Where do I start with the Butthole Surfers? I heard a tiny bit of their stuff that fluked into radio play in the ’90s, but I haven’t heard any of their ’80s stuff. What’s a good entree into them?

  47. @58

    Hairway To Steven and Locust Abortion Technician are, IMO, their best. I once owned all of their albums but have since edited them down to just four or five.

  48. #59
    Those are good, esp. the latter, and don’t forget “Rembrandt Pussyhorse,” which includes their insane version of “American Woman.”

    As mentioned, many of their album titles can be a bit much for some folks. So, with that in mind, the one I’d start with: “Psychic… Powerless… Another Man’s Sac.” Came out in 1985. Mind-numbingly weird, perversely funny & oddly tuneful.

    Here’s one fairly representative cut from that record: http://tinyurl.com/pldsd4

  49. @46 It was Kenny Carr. Anybody could want to be the next David Thompson, few would want to be Kenny Carr, the 6th pick, but no Sky Walker.

  50. As a long-suffering Hawks fan, I keep hoping that the allure of Atlanta will pave the way for “The Decision: Atlanta” – if not LeBron, at least somebody of note.

    Still waiting. Hell, it seems to working in reverse.

    But Sam’s right – the Hawks team-building model isn’t so much the Spurs as it is the Celtics’ ultimate response to somehow losing the Tim Duncan Sweepstakes (one of the reasons Pitino left UK, btw, was the consensus that the Celts would draft Timmy and the rest would be history).

    Teague can either grab the leadership role or he can be a valuable trading chip after a year (which gives Schroder a year to develop).

    But I continue to believe that Horford is miscast as a center and, once again, we seem to have a plethora of power forwards in Al, Millsaps and the kid from Utah.

    Ferry seems to have muzzled Spirit Cluster, Llc. for the moment. Perhaps there is hope, after all.

  51. #62
    It’s a good story, but in Athens we heard differently.

    Nonetheless, I’m sure it took more than just sweet talk to get a player like that to change his mind.

  52. But I continue to believe that Horford is miscast as a center and, once again, we seem to have a plethora of power forwards in Al, Millsaps and the kid from Utah.

    Horford is small for C in the NBA. And the Hawks know this. That’s why they drafted Bebe. That’s why they were trying to sign Howard, or sign and trade Josh Smith for Akin. Neither the Howard or the Akin angles played out, so they’re back to Bebe developing with Horford and Elton Brand taking 5 when they play small.

  53. Tanking is despicable.

    But deliberately choosing to sign a lot of young players that you hope to develop reducing your future cap numbers in a year when the ensuing lottery should have a large number of top-teir players in it is fine.

    You try to win when you’re on the court, but that doesn’t mean you have to employ a front office strategy that narrowly maximizes this years’ wins at the cost of wins next year and into the future. I’m fine with what the Celtics and 76ers have done this off-season; it’s not tanking.

    What the Celtics did in the Duncan year, now THAT was tanking.

  54. I’d like to see Horford at PF too, but for what it’s worth his numbers as a center are actually a little better. He’s perfectly fine in that role.

  55. The question should actually be: Should the Braves give McCann a qualifying offer? If he keeps hitting like this, I don’t see any reason why not.

  56. I don’t know why we wouldn’t make a qualifying offer. Even if he took it, which seems unlikely, it would pretty much be a repeat of this year, which certainly isn’t a bad situation.

  57. Of course you make a QO to McCann. Worst case scenario, he accepts it and you get another year of Brian McCann? Horror!

  58. @68, the reason I think they shouldn’t would be so they could sign a front-line starting pitcher, though I’m not sure who will be available that’s really worth going after. If there’s nobody worth going after then they could use that money to pay BJ not to play (kidding…well, kinda). If they just pocket the money then I’ll be pissed.

  59. 72 — I’m not convinced catcher money gets you much of an upgrade over the current staff these days when it’s via the free agent market.

  60. Plus, there’s the fact that McCann won’t sign it, so we can both make him a qualifying offer and use the money elsewhere…and get a sandwich round draft pick.

  61. @73 And I think the Braves are not planning to use the free agent route to sign starting pitchers. Our draft and minor league talents are pitching heavy. The strategy I believe the Braves are using is that they will develop starting pitchers internally, and they will use excess pitching talent to trade for immediate help. If there is any money left in the budget, they will buy a bat rather than a pitcher which is less risky in theory…until we run into the case of BJ Upton.

  62. Probably a safe bet that Alex Wood is in the rotation next season. I think he’ll do fine. Wouldn’t mind upgrading the Hudson/Maholm models for something a bit younger that throws hard. I remain nervous about our mostly pitch-to-contact starters and the fickleness of babip in a short series.

  63. Yeah, there’s a good chance McCann doesn’t sign a QO, goes to the Yankees, and we get an extra draft pick.

  64. @77 I think the Yanks are reducing payroll to get from under the TAX. If they can do it next year they will have a lower tax rate when they good over the next year.

  65. Why do umps set up so far inside? There is no way they can accurately see a pitch on the outside corner. We are seeing a perfect example here this inning.

  66. @85, Joe West actually explained that to me:

    West also told me that new research has even changed where umpires stand behind the plate. The end of the bat moves more quickly than the handle, and therefore a batted ball comes slower off the handle off the handle of the bat than off the end. So West instructs his umpires to stand on the inside corner, and if any of them are hit in the head, they undergo imPACT testing, as well. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to be hurt, but it means we’re going to be safe,” he said. West also argued that accuracy of strike calls wouldn’t be affected. “You’re looking out into the strike zone instead of down through it, so I think it helps your accuracy,” he said.” You have to adjust… but you’re able to look down to the low pitch.” According to West, umpire head injuries have markedly decreased since umpires began working the inside corner more frequently.


  67. So BMac replaces Freddie on the team, and then proceeds to do…nothing. What’s the point?

  68. Rivera didn’t deserve the AS MVP. Maybe if he had come in with the bases loaded and saved the lead. I hate it when MLB rigs awards, and this is blatant.

  69. I love how Craig keeps giving up runs during events that have no impact to the Braves.

    @86 That makes sense, but I would imagine the ump would be more accurate on high/low calls than outside pitches calls.

    @87 BMac was picked to be the third catcher on the team, which means he wasn’t going to play by default unless Posey got hurt.

  70. Mac was chosen because the fan’s choice from Atlanta got hurt and Mac was the only other All Star quality bat in Atlanta to replace him.

  71. @88, I think this was an AS game without any clear “MVP”. So they went with the sentimental choice.

    @90, There’s also a little Dodger tweaking by Bochy to not pick Puig, I’d think.

  72. @86 The pitch provides the velocity toward the umpire. Even a foul tip does not add velocity.

  73. My next year’s team, assuming there’s no huge trades, would look like this…

    Rotation: Beachy, Medlen, Minor, Teheran, Hudson (assuming he doesn’t fall apart the rest of this year and he’d be willing to sign a 1-2 year deal)

    Position Players: Gattis, Freeman, Uggla, Simmons, C. Johnson, Jupton, Bupton, Heyward

    Bench: Pena, Schafer, Terdo, Laird, Mejia (could provide some RH pop off the bench and would be dirt cheap)

    Bullpen: Kimbrel, Walden, Avilan, Wood, Carpenter, Varvaro, Graham/Thomas/Jaime

    This would be a very talented, cheap team, making the ability to sign some of the core group of young players to long-term deals.

  74. Tim’s going to be in an interesting position. The real question will be whether he will receive a three-year offer from some team in the offseason. If he only receives a two-year offer, then there’s a chance he would be willing for the Braves to bring him back on a Maholm-style deal, one year plus one club option. You know he loves pitching in Atlanta, he lives here, his family’s here, and I think he’d give the team another hometown discount.

    So then the question becomes, if the team could bring him back on a relatively low-dollar deal — say, $8 million in 2014, with a $7 million club option ($1 million buyout) in 2015 — would they? I think they’d seriously consider it, because pitcher depth is hard to come by.

    Whether it would be worth it is a tougher question, because that basically depends on the team’s confidence in Medlen, Beachy, and Wood in 2014, because Minor and Teheran are the two givens and Maholm’s a free agent this winter.

    With Maholm gone, I think they would like the idea of Hudson as a fifth starter. But it depends on what other teams offer him. If Hudson gets a three-year deal from somewhere, I’d be happy to bring back Maholm on another one-year contract.

  75. Hudson has pitched an average of 170 innings per year during his time with the Braves and that includes his shortened ’08 and ’09 due to Tommy John. He has 116 innings pitched this year, has yet to miss a start, and has a 4.02 ERA. Everything points to Tim being a bit unlucky this year and his ERA could be 1/4-1/2 run less than what it is currently if luck starts to go his way. He is on pace for a 2.5 WAR season and would likely cost around 2/18 million in ’14/’15. We don’t know what we will be getting from our 4-5 young guys as their track records are either not defined or haven’t been built yet, but we know what Tim Hudson can do as he’s been doing it for 9 years in a Braves uni… a durable pitcher with a mid-3s ERA. That has serious value.

  76. I don’t think you can go into 2014 assuming Alex Wood is your fifth starter. A 1-2 year deal with Hudson to eat innings would be smart. (A longer deal would not.) People routinely undervalue league average innings from a rubber (and usually veteran) arm.

    I like Alex Wood. He’s been very good in the pen and it will be interesting to see his career path forward. But he’s not ready to start in the Majors in 2014.

    I also seriously doubt Ernesto Mejia ever gets more than a September call up.

  77. @99, I pretty much agree with you. So, for Wood, would you advocate the Medlen plan — start 2014 in the bullpen, doing middle relief and long relief work, then get sent down to AAA for a few starts to stretch out, then comes up as a fifth starter?

  78. @100, I think they might be doing that in 2013…as in right now. Wood may or may not be ready, but there’s only one way to find out.

    We have Maholm and Hudson to eat innings…I don’t think we absolutely need both of them. There still might be a move made this season I think.

  79. Wood may be on the Medlen plan right now. Because he’s awesome. Even though he won’t be pitching in a game today, I’m sure he’s currently doing things that are awesome. -The Good Wood Group

    (I’m OK to resign Hudson, so long as it’s not a guaranteed-two-year deal.)

  80. @100 – it depends on the team’s projection and development plan for Wood going forward. Most evaluations I’ve seen of Wood (prior to his minor league season and call up to date) projected him as a reliever. Maybe the Braves project him as a starter, maybe they don’t. But the development plan would depend extensively on what they see in him.

    If they want him to be a starter, they’d be smart to re-sign Hudson, sign a LHP for the pen to replace EOF/Venters and send Wood back to AA/AAA where he can continue to develop as a starter. If they project him as a reliever, well, he’s already here and doing that role pretty well. I’m not sure where the Medlen plan would be optimal for either the Braves’ 2014 roster construction or Alex Wood’s potential development as a starting pitcher.

  81. I think there’s a pretty good chance that the bullpen is Wood’s long-term landing spot, anyway. I certainly wouldn’t erase the possibility of him starting at this point, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to throw him in the rotation, which is why the rumored replacing of Medlen that cropped up late last week makes zero sense to me. Well, that and Medlen hasn’t at all shown that he needs replacing in the first place.

    As AAR intimates @100, I think the Medlen plan is a pretty good course of action for him. Start him next year as the swingman in the bullpen. It’s kind of what he’s been doing for us, but add some higher leverage situations in there, as well. Eventually, something will happen with the rotation and he’ll get a chance to start. If he does well, fine. If he doesn’t, he’s a bullpen guy. If he’s just absolutely lights out as a setup guy, maybe you leave him there and don’t give him the opportunity to start. Otherwise, leave both options open.

  82. There’s a very good chance that we’ll need Alex Wood to make more starts this season. It’s very rare to have all 5 guys make it through a season without injury. Probably a good idea to give him a few starts in Gwinnett when possible just so he’s ready to step in at a moment’s notice.

  83. I think Wood is going to the rotation within the next few weeks and will be back in the pen when Beachy is ready.

    Medlen to the pen probably means we won’t go after an arm (Wood will be the other lefty in the pen)

    Of course, we could always send Maholm to an AL team and try to get a bench bat for him.

  84. Ain’t nobody going to trade value for 2 months of pre-free agency Paul Maholm.

  85. @95 – Sure, but that bat exit speed is in the direction of the bat swing. The bat is moving towards the pitcher and can only add momentum to the ball in that direction. There’s no speeding up a ball in the direction it was pitched unless the batter turns around and swings at the umpire, which I’m sure has been a temptation for many a batter at the mercy of Joe West.

    Now, maybe balls on the hands of the hitter are more likely to be fouled away than slightly deflected towards the ump’s head. That would make sense, since the bat’s velocity is zero relative to the batter’s hands (which, unless said batter’s nickname is Frenchy, he presumably has pretty good control over) at the handle and very high (and thus less controllable) at the end. But no way is a foul tip moving faster than the pitch.

    Edit: Didn’t intend this to be argumentative – I think it’s basically what you were saying anyway.

  86. Brand is a legit center option, not just a when-they’re-playing-small option. He protects the rim and plays a lot more like a 5 than a 4, at this point in his career. Don’t let his height fool you; he’s big and has long arms.

    A Horford-Millsap-Brand rotation ought to be pretty nice.

  87. Physics and NBA free agency. Add me to the chorus that loves this bar.

    Great synopsis on the season to date, Alex; agreed that you are the Chipper Jones to our 1999 Atlanta Braves.

  88. @107
    Could be a need for a need swap. Many teams are searching for SP and I’m sure they’d be willing to send a utility infielder or a relief pitcher over to acquire one. Heck….look what we offered for the rental of Ryan Dempster.

  89. Wasn’t Wood a starter at Rome and Mississippi? I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is projected by the Braves to be a starter. Watching the kid work long relief against a good Reds lineup gave me the impression that he can succeed as a starter. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it so there is a lot of merit to re signing Hudson under previously posted contract parameters. The guy is still pitching good. He isn’t an ace anymore but he is a major contributor.

  90. I think Tim likes to go home to Auburn when he can. I think he’ll take a cheaper deal to stay in ATL until he retires.

  91. You people are collectively insane.

    Gattis, June 1 – on: .071/.206/.286 (34 PA)

    That’s a small sample size within a small sample size, but the truth is we don’t know what we’ve got yet there. Take every argument we just spent a week making about Yasiel Puig, and apply it here. “Yasiel Puig” is Spanish for “Evan Gattis.”

    We do know what we have in Brian McCann. We also know that between the $13MM slot he currently occupies, Hudson’s $9MM, Maholm’s $7MM, and the $9MM or so currently budgeted for but unused thus far, there’s PLENTY of money in the banana stand for core arb raises even after you extend McCann at current annual value give-or-take.

    Wanting to let McCann walk and re-sign Hudson when the only thing coming through the pipeline right now is pitching… I can’t even. Between Wood, Gilmartin, Graham, random innings eaters who become available, etc., you can find a fifth starter. You can’t find another McCann, and if Gattis’ flaws become manifest over time, you’ll miss him more than you realize.

    The fascination with chasing the wins per dollar championship just infuriates me more than anything else, I swear.

  92. And apropos, most thought Kris Medlen would be a reliever too. My point is not that Wood will relieve rather than start, but that I don’t know what the organization sees him as, and without that knowledge any statement from me about “how they should use Alex Wood” is mostly just blind guessing.

    If the org thinks Alex Wood is a starter, I think they should get a LH reliever and resign Tim Hudson to a 2 year deal this winter, and send Wood back to the minors so he can work on his craft. I think he’d be on the fast track, as a college draftee rather than a high schooler, but I still think he has room to develop in the minors.

    If the org thinks Alex Wood is a reliever, he’s already successfully playing that role in Atlanta.

    It may be the case that the org has reformulated the old Gene Mach theory of breaking in young starters by using them as swing men in the pen for a year or two as you stretch them out (i.e. the Medlen route), but the development path of Julio Teheran nor Brandon Beachy supports that theory. Nor does that of Tommy Hanson, or any other young starter the Braves have broken into the Majors recently. Medlen is the only case where the “stretch them out in the pen, and then send them to the rotation” process was used. At this point, it’s probably best to assume that’s an outlier rather than the rule.

  93. @115 – to be clear, I’m all for resigning McCann, for the reasons you point out about Gattis being an unknown commodity long term. But I’d still resign Tim Hudson rather than hope JR Graham or Alex Wood magically become shut down starters in the majors.

  94. @115, I personally think 2014 Gattis will outperform 2014 McCann. So far in 2013 they are basically the same hitters. Gattis has no viable position other than catcher on this team. I don’t think it’s insane at all. If they don’t use the money saved to improve the team then *that* will be insane.

    McCann was horrendous last year and we still made the playoffs, so it’s not like we’re a 90 loss team without him. We’ll be fine.

  95. Wanting to let McCann walk and re-sign Hudson when the only thing coming through the pipeline right now is pitching… I can’t even. Between Wood, Gilmartin, Graham, random innings eaters who become available, etc., you can find a fifth starter. You can’t find another McCann, and if Gattis’ flaws become manifest over time, you’ll miss him more than you realize.

    Agreed. McCann is, once again, the team’s best player (last year he wasn’t; Heyward was). And if you do go into 2014 with Gattis as your everyday catcher, then you need to pour that money back into the lineup – whether it’s 3B or 2B.

  96. I wonder if El Oso was playing with pain his last 34 at bats. A lot of that is going around.

  97. @115, I don’t think that signing McCann and Hudson are mutually exclusive. But here’s the rub.

    1) This organization is allergic to signing big-dollar multiyear deals, especially considering the last three: B.J. Upton 5/$75, Dan Uggla 5/$60, Derek Lowe 4/$60.

    2) The worry with McCann is obviously not the front end, it’s the back end. The Braves had to eat $10 million of Lowe’s contract to give him away, and they were thrilled to do it. They still owe Uggla in excess of $30 million, and considering that he’s moved from flirting with the Mendoza line to French-kissing it, they may need to eat a significant portion of that.

    3) Catchers are hard to find, but pitchers are also hard to find. Right now, if the organization lets both Hudson and Maholm walk, then the rotation will be Minor, Teheran, Medlen, Beachy, and Wood, and the 6th and 7th starters would be J.R. Graham, a 23 year old who had a shoulder injury in Double-A, and Sean Gilmartin, a soft-tosser who might turn into Paul Maholm. That’s a couple of injuries away from the horrors of 2008.

    4) The organization has a reasonable number of catchers right now, even though it’s not clear that any of them could be a starter. Evan Gattis has obvious power and a good throwing arm, but he combines that with uncertain contact ability, indifferent plate blocking, and unclear game calling ability. He’s the first stringer. Gerald Laird is signed through 2014, obviously, and he’ll be a perfectly cromulent second-stringer. (Even if he’s worse than 2013 Gerald Laird, he’s certain to be better than the Hamster.) Christian Bethancourt is likely to be a no-hit backup for the next few years, with an outside chance of figuring out how to hit by the time he’s 30, like Carlos Ruiz. Josh Elander and Bryan De La Rosa may never turn into anything, but they’re there.

    5) I love Brian McCann, but ask yourself this question: what is the amount of money that would make you wish that the Braves had not signed him? I’m guessing that you wouldn’t want the Braves to give him a Mauer contract, $184 million — I’m pretty sure that if you were a Twins fan you would have some misgivings about that contract, and Mauer’s one of the best catchers who ever lived. So how much would you want for the Braves to pay, knowing that the team’s finances are what they are and Liberty Media isn’t giving them much more and the team’s financial flexibility will be significantly reduced if it makes McCann one of the highest-paid players on the team?

    I get your critiques of rooting for team financial restraint rather than rooting for players, and I love McCann. I also love what Hudson has done for us. Both are probably past their primes, so it would be best to avoid huge multiyear commitments to either one. I think Hudson could be had for about $9 million guaranteed ($8 million one year plus a club option with a $1 million buyout.) I don’t think McCann could be had for less than $60 million. He may be worth it. But I don’t think that it would be prudent to pay him more than $60.

  98. @117 – as president of the “Liberty Media should be pressured to get off their cheapskate ass and give Frank Wren a Cardinals payroll” club, I support your “sign both” scenario.

    It’s just this backseat-cheapskate attitude of we “have” to let our most consistent, face-of-the-franchise player walk because Gattis costs less and hit well in his first 130 MLB PA that drives me nuts.

  99. @122, turns out that he has a shoulder injury, too. He’s on the DL with shoulder tendinitis.

    The basic thing with Gilmartin is he’s a lefty with no margin for error. Getting bombed in Triple-A could be very good for him, because he has to figure out how to compensate for his lack of velocity AND his lack of strikeouts. But his ceiling is low, and there’s no guarantee he makes it.

    @123, granted. Fine. But after you make your point, I think you still have to acknowledge that in the world in which we live, the Braves probably are not a team that can afford to pay McCann more than $50-$60 million.

    The interesting thing is that in our qualifying offer world, McCann is worth more to the Braves (who will not have to forego a draft pick to keep him) than he is to other teams (who would have to give the Braves a draft pick). That could serve to suppress his value on the free market and make him more affordable to the Braves. Combine that with a hometown discount and they may well be able to afford him. But it’s not a given.

  100. @123 – I don’t want to let McCann walk.
    I just think the Braves will because, small sample size and all, they think they have a reasonable substitute for his offense, his market value will be outside the limits of their budget and the risks of giving a 30 year old catcher big dollars and many years.

    As for McCann would be crazy not to ask for at least 5 years and crazier not to let AL teams know he isn’t averse to DHing.

    I don’t root for ‘wins per dollar’. Hell, I wish there was enough money to sign both Mac and Huddy. I just know its not reality.

  101. @121, good points, but to address them in order…

    1) Technically after the Lowe signing came Chipper’s extension, which worked out to 3/$42. I don’t think anyone regretted that deal, injuries aside. Wren’s had reasonable success extending his veterans, it’s the out-of-towners who have been whiffs.

    2) Why not front-load the contract? The worry obviously is that creeping arb raises will eat all the flexibility over time, so why not give McCann all of the money next year, less of it in Year 2, even less in Year 3, and the least in Year 4? That way he still gets paid (you could budget something silly like $18MM for Year 1 and still be fine) but they’re not eating a huge loss in the inevitable Year 4 stink year.

    3) Give me Minor, Medlen, Beachy, Teheran, and 4-5 lottery tickets (the MiLB guys and flotsam free agents you can ride for a little while) and I think McDowell can make something happen, even with the odd injury here and there. Pitching seems to be one area where joining the Braves’ organization makes guys better. Might as well arbitrage that fact.

    4) I think this is my own point, so I’ll leave it here.

    5) The Mauer/Posey deals aren’t really in play because the teams giving those contracts knew they were buying out the second half of the player’s 20s and the first third of their 30s. This deal will be more like the VMart/Molina deals, buying out the first third-to-half of the player’s 30s. Somewhere between $12.5-15 AAV, about 4 years, do 5 if you have to (but keep in mind the Yankees are not really in play this offseason, they’re still trying to get under the tax line) and worry about the future later… that’s exactly right, actually. Front-load it to take advantage of the fact that the core is underpaid for another year or two. Done.

  102. The problem with BMac is not knowing how his body will hold up behind the plate for another 5-6 years. I wouldn’t want to be on the back end of his next contract without having a DH spot in our lineup.

  103. Precisely. In year 4 he will probably not be able to catch very much. Set at 1b and the outfield, where does BMac play?

  104. @129 Freddie Freeman will be a free agent as of 2017, which would be the 4th year of a McCann extension…

  105. @127 – Ian Kinsler, for example.

    @128, 129 – I’m not so worried about having a potentially bad expiring contract or two on the books. All adventurous teams do. It’s part of the cost of fielding a competitive team that doesn’t force itself to operate on that A’s/Rays knife’s edge.

    Frank Wren knows every AL GM’s cell number and if Mac’s knees break down before his bat does, I’m sure something can be arranged. Gattis’ team control isn’t going anywhere for a while yet, which is nicest as an insurance policy. If all of him breaks down, it would be ahistorical for the modern Slugging Catcher type, but such are the risks we live with in a uncertain world.

  106. I would not want to offer McCann more than a 3 year deal, either. The Braves should have room in the budget to at least give him a QO and to offer Hudson a short-term contract for the reasons already given above. Wood hasn’t pitched at Triple A so there’s nothing wrong with letting him develop some more there. It gives the Braves some extra depth. Wood’s funky delivery may not let him start long term anyway.

    If Tim Hudson averages 15 wins for 4 more seasons, does he have a HOF case? I’d think so. But I think he needs some more counting stats especially in the wins column, because I don’t think his current total of 203 wins gets him in.

  107. 134 — There’s also the real possibility that Hudson simply doesn’t want to pitch into his 40’s, which he will need to do (pitching well) to have a chance.

  108. McCann is going to want a five year deal.

    Here is another question, do the Braves retire Hudson’s number?

  109. summations sent by Alex R
    suggest the Braves may yet go far
    not so for these poor Hawks
    it’s all a bunch of squawks
    no Dominique, a lower bar.

  110. @126, I didn’t say it above, but for my purposes, I’d define a “big multiyear contract” as one lasting 4 or more years with a total dollar value at or above $60 million. The Braves have had exactly three of those. I also think that’s the absolute minimum that the Braves could get McCann for.

  111. @136- Nah. He’s unlikely an HOFer, and doesn’t have the sentimental appeal of Murph. (Who, IMO, benefits from being the best player on crap teams more than Huddy benefits from being the best pitcher on very good teams that still never got out of the NLDS.)

  112. they’ve awarded Yoenis Cespedes
    the latest in gull wing Mercedes
    while agents for Harper
    were just told to scarper
    in terms that bewildered some ladies.

  113. Hudson is a classic Hall of Very Good guy. Three-time All-Star, no postseason awards (well, other than Comeback Player of the Year, which probably doesn’t do much for his HOF candidacy), never the best pitcher in his league. I think a Keltner list on him would be interesting, but I can’t see any way to fit him into the Hall.

  114. a prospect that’s causing concern
    how much should our dear catcher earn?
    not just now but how long?
    and if we go too strong
    they’ll think we have money to burn.


    makes sixty does fifteen times four
    a total some purists deplore
    they claim for a fraction
    we’ll get the same action
    they’ll happily(?)show him the door.


    a Yankee you would have to say
    the short right porch the DH way
    and Cashman has to know it
    in his good time he’ll show it
    they’ll pay a bunch, we’ll go away.


    a Qualifying Offer means
    we’re left with more than hills of beans
    a phenom in the draft?
    regard this ‘fore and aft’
    the compromise that least demeans.

  115. @136 I think he’ll get into the “Braves Hall of Fame”, but I doubt they retire his number – especially considering they’ve just retired five of them (all deserved) within the past four years.

  116. @136, @143 – Re. Hudson, I don’t think they retire his number either. Andruw will get his number retired in the next few years as well, no?

  117. Hudson shouldn’t go into the Braves HOF or anywhere near a retired jersey ceremony until Andruw Jones, David Justice and possibly Javy Lopez are there first.

  118. Seems like we’re on track for expanded replay, to some degree, next season.

    Also, JS is part of MLB’s replay subcommittee. I hope he brings some of the trash thrown on the field from last year’s debacle to their meetings.

  119. Interestingly enough, Hudson has almost exactly the same number of WAR as Justice and Lopez — 24.3 for Hudson to 24.2 for Justice and 23.3 for Lopez. Javy’s first two seasons were cups of coffee, as was Justice’s first, so Javy basically played 10 full seasons in Atlanta, Justice played seven, and Hudson’s in his ninth.

    For better and for worse, Huddy’s the fifth-best pitcher in Atlanta Braves history, and the four above him will always be above him and they’ll all be in the Hall of Fame. That doesn’t make him a Hall of Famer. But he’s been a hell of a pitcher for a hell of a long time.

  120. The Braves will offer McCann a contract. But the the Yankees or Dodgers or someone will blow it out of the water. I love McCann. He’s fantastic. But unless he takes a lot less, the Braves won’t be able to (nor will it really make sense for them to) match other free agency deals.

  121. Hudson’s also in this weird place- to me, and I’m betting for many others- in that it seems like he hasn’t been here nearly as long as he has. I’m not really sure why it is, but it is.

  122. #149
    Cali is high & NYC is one of the few cities that has its own income tax. IIRC, it’s around 3% depending on income & filing status. NY state is 4- to 8%, depending on the same stuff. (If you make a half-mil, you’d pay almost 9%.)

    NYC residents pay the highest combined rate (state/city) in the nation, but speaking for myself, it’s allgood. We like our services.

    Florida & Texas (and a few others) have no state income tax. I’m sure the Rangers love that, but I can’t imagine it makes much difference to the Rays or Marlins.

  123. The general worry on front loading contracts is that you never want to find yourself dramatically underpaying a player for fear he will use the fact that he is underpaid to solicit money he couldn’t have gotten otherwise through the threat of malingering. Any player who is underpaid is worth making a marginal payment to if you have to because the upfront dollars are sunk in the outyears. I just don’t see that problem with McCann.

  124. @145

    Justice is already in the Braves Hall of Fame, just no number retirement. I think Andruw, Javy and Huddy should all be in the Braves Hall of Fame, but none of them should have their numbers retired, and none should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

  125. Incidentally, the threshold for number retirement should be just short of national HOF induction as a requirement IMO. I say just short because an allowance has to be made for somebody like Dale Murphy who was the best player on the team for an entire era. That doesn’t apply to Justice (you can argue he was never the best player on the team…if he was, it was only for a year or two), Andruw (Chipper was always better), Javy (Chipper was always better), or Huddy (was the best pitcher on the team at one point, but only for two or three years). Again, all should and probably will be in the Braves HOF, though.

  126. The Yankees have retired 16 numbers. Interestingly, a half-dozen of them (Guidry, Howard, Mattingly, Munson, Martin & Maris) aren’t in the HoF.

    Even stranger to me, there’s a good amount of Yankee HoFers (guys like Gomez, Combs, Ruffing, Lazzeri, Hoyt, Pennock, Winfield, etc.) who do not have their numbers retired.

  127. Just because it’s an off day – @154 I can’t see how you can’t retire Andruws number – anyone who is/was in the mix for “greatest CF in the game/of all time” for a lot longer than Murph and a huge superiority in WAR, just as a Brave, is in.

  128. Not being in baseball negotiations, I don’t know how creative they can be, but perhaps installing a DH clause in a contract might make this more palatable, especially since the internal NL momentum for adding the DH appears to be growing. Start with, say, a three-year, $42 million deal for 2014-16. Then, if the NL installs the DH before the end of the contract, three more years at $42 million kicks in for 2017-19. If there’s no DH by then, then the contract becomes mutual option after 2016, for perhaps $18 million over 2017-19. Perhaps this is just talking out of my ass here, but this seems reasonable for a player who appears inclined to stay home, anyway.

  129. @161 If I am Brain, I would take the highest offer. This is his last chance for a big contract. Especially the fact that he is a catcher.

  130. @152 There are tons of stories (mostly about football players) about how athletes will live in NJ when they play for teams in New York because of the taxes.

  131. @163. Well since the football teams are in New Jersey, that’s not too surprising.

  132. It is maddening to see that the Cardinals received a “competitive balance” pick, while the Braves weren’t even eligible for one.

    Our owners suck.

  133. It’s based on the state where the money was earned.

    You have to answer question in your tax paperwork: “Did you earn any income in states other than your state of residence?”

    Like Peter Moylan playing for Los Angeles and living in Atlanta. He’s paying his taxes based on earning the income in California.

  134. nj taxes are cheaper then living in one of the boroughs, but nj is still one of the most expensive states to live in especially if you live near nyc.

  135. New York Giants = East Rutherford, New Jersey
    New York Jets = Florham Park, New Jersey

  136. One reason to play in Florida is that there’s no state income tax. It means that a Rays salary of $1 million is actually quite a bit more money than a Yankees salary of $1 million. That’s not a huge competitive advantage, but every little bit helps.

  137. @166 You have to file in state of your residence, but get a tax credit for the states you work in.

  138. @169 One of the reasons so many golfers live there. They face taxes on winnings in other states, but endorsement are big source of income.

  139. So the Lakers are all in on the next LeBron sweepstakes. Knowing them, it will work.

    My oft-astute kid thinks he’s going back to Cleveland – especially if Miami wins again next year.

  140. I agree with spike @159. The Javy/Justice/Hudson tier of player is perfectly sorted with the “in the team HOF, no retired number” treatment. But Andruw Jones was the greatest CF to every wear a Braves uniform, at any point in any city in the franchise’s history, and he should be acknowledged as such.

  141. Watched some of the Hawks’ Summer League game (I hate All-Star break and nothing is worse than the ESPY’s) and the Scott kid from UVA looked impressive.

    Is he an NBA 3 or 4?

  142. Agree about Andruw. I think.

    Remember when he was Frenchy-level frustrating, though? DiMino would only refer to him as “Number 25” on air out of disgust.

    Then it clicked for awhile. Then it kinda didn’t.

  143. We don’t have Derek Lowe to kick around any more. He “quit playing baseball” today.

  144. Andruw Jones is still the best centerfielder I ever saw. Willie, Mickey and the Duke couldn’t carry his glove together. Of course, he couldn’t lift their bats either.

  145. Andruw was a great Atlanta Brave. I hope when he hangs it up that there is some effort by the team to bring him back into the fold and honor him. I wouldn’t have any problem with them retiring his number.

  146. @166 having done a few tax returns for Pro Athletes, I can say that you are correct in the statement, “it’s based on the state where the money was earned.”, but bear in mind that 1/2 of the players income is earned on road games. So yes, players have to file in each and every state in which their team plays (and for the Braves, even a Canadian and Ontario Provincial return this year). If it sounds like a huge hassle, it is.

  147. Of the 11 full seasons Chipper and Andruw played together, Andruw had greater WAR in 7.

  148. Andruw’s my favorite all-time Atlanta Brave, only because I think of Mr. Aaron as more of a Milwaukee Brave and I separate on field and off field performance.The new kid from Curacao is moving up my list though.

  149. Andruw also has the Braves single season home run record when he hit 51 in 2005. He nearly won the MVP that year as he led the NL in HR and RBI, and would have had Pujols not murdered the league that year.

    If Andruw doesn’t make the Braves HOF after he retires it will be a joke.

  150. David Justice is already in the Braves HOF. Javy Lopez is not. I wonder if the Braves view him negatively since he all but admitted to using PEDs.

    Remember when the Braves chose the Hamster to be the backup catcher over Javy at the end of Javy’s career? Surely Javy would have been better than the Hamster ended up being.

  151. Remember that time when Andruw Jones came to the big leagues at 19, played for the Braves for for 12 years, put up an .839 OPS (113 OPS+) averaged 33 homeruns a year, played 157 out of every 162 games, and did all that whilst being the best defensive centerfielder (and best non-Ozzie Smith defensive player) in major league HISTORY and people still talked about how “frustrating” and “disappointing” his career was?

    And I’M unreasonable for thinking Andrelton could use a CADDY?

    Andruw Jones is a Hall-of-Famer in my book, and 25 should be hanging from the rafters. He was a generational talent.

  152. Mac ranked Andruw as the #8 greatest Atlanta Brave, behind Aaron, Maddux, Niekro, Chipper, Glavine, Smoltz, and Murphy. Javy was ranked #9 and Justice was #10. Hudson had only played 2 seasons in Atlanta when Mac wrote the list and wasn’t ranked. Kevin Millwood was ranked #18, going 75-46 with a 3.73 ERA in Atlanta, and Tim Hudson is now 111-72 with a 3.56 ERA, so I would imagine he would probably be #9 or 10 if Mac wrote it now.

  153. @185 One thing that I think has an effect on how people view(ed) Andruw’s career is that, through the great run from 1998 to 2006 there was only one year (2005) when he was thought to be the best centerfielder in the game.

    Now, we Braves fans who witnessed his defense everyday might have disagreed, but if you asked most folks in those years they who the top CF was the answers would have been Griffey Jr, Bernie Williams, Jim Edmonds and Carlos Beltran in any year other than 2005.

  154. MLBTR (EDIT: citing Peanut) has us putting Wood in the rotation, possibly at Medlen’s expense, and looking to trade for a LOOGY.

  155. 190 — That leaves the question of who leaves the rotation when Beachy returns?

  156. Is it a given that Beachy does return? If he does return, it is given that he goes to the rotation?

  157. Using Total Zone runs saved per 1200 innings, as a CF:

    Andruw Jones: 18 runs saved
    Kenny Lofton: 8 runs saved
    Mike Cameron: 7 runs saved
    Carlos Beltran: 7 runs saved
    Jim Edmonds: 7 runs saved
    Ken Griffey Jr: 0 runs saved
    Bernie Williams: -8 runs saved

    I only looked at stats as a CF as a rough means of isolating their primes.

    But here’s what they each did in all OF spots, presuming they were moved because of their declining skills, again in Total Zone runs per 1200 (C/R/L):

    Andruw Jones: 18/16/5
    Kenny Lofton: 8/-78/3
    Mike Cameron: 7/2/-47
    Carlos Beltran: 7/-8/13
    Jim Edmonds: 7/5/17
    Ken Griffey Jr: 0/-11/-26
    Bernie Williams: -8/-27/9

    Those are the best “defensive reputation” guys I could think of, that were contemporaries of Andruw. And he’s running away from them. Even in his decline, as he was moved to RF and then to LF, he was STILL a run saver.

    And just for kicks, here’s those some guys ranked by Career OPS+:

    Ken Griffey Jr: 136
    Jim Edmonds: 132
    Bernie Williams: 125
    Carlos Beltran: 123 (Still active)
    Andruw Jones: 111
    Kenny Lofton: 107
    Mike Cameron: 106

    Griffey is an inner-circle hall-of-famer. Beltran, still being active, has some decline phase to come.

    I’m frankly surprised that Edmonds and Williams were the quality offensive players that they were.

    (Oh, and Ozzie Smith as good for 13 Total Zone runs saved per 1200. And had a career OPS+ of 87.)

  158. No doubt they will put Andruw in the Braves HOF, and I think they should retire his # as well.

    As for Hudson, he’s got some work to do. As an Atlanta Brave he ranks 34th in WAR according to this though I think the site doesn’t yet count 2013.


  159. @180 – Is it so then, that if a hypothetical person lived in, let’s say, North Carolina, but his company sent him to work in an office in, let’s say, Illinois for a week, then that person would owe Illinois tax for income earned that week?

  160. And deeper still, in to those runs saved stats, here are each of those guys best 5 seasons, according to Total Zone Runs Saved, now based on actual innings, no longer prorated to per 1200 innings:

    Andruw Jones: 36, 35, 27, 25, 20
    Kenny Lofton: 18, 18, 18, 18, 13
    Mike Cameron: 24, 17, 13, 11, 11
    Carlos Beltran: 20, 15, 13, 13, 10
    Jim Edmonds: 24, 19, 13, 12, 9
    Ken Griffey Jr: 32, 15, 14, 11, 11
    Bernie Williams: 6, 4, 3, 3, 1

    Those guys COMBINED to have 4 seasons that would slot in to Andruws top 5, and the very best season ANY of them had would have been Andruw’s 3rd best season.

    He was incredible.

  161. #192 – Yes it’s a given that Beachy returns to the rotation. It’s not a given that he would stay in it, but there is no reason for him to be stretching out to 90 pitches for them to put him down there. I guess the Braves must be considering trading Maholm if they want Wood in the rotation and are looking for a LOOGY.

  162. @195: Yep. Well, there’s a minimum period, for example, which complicates things a bit. But I work for one company and have to state where I am for the purpose of income taxes every day. As long as I stay under (I can’t remember) 10 or 15 days for the year in any particular state I’m good, but if it gets higher than that I get a state-based income on my W-2. Time worked abroad counts as the home office, for some reason.

    Owing income taxes in another state is really just a pain, because you get a home state credit for income taxes paid to another state, but it often requires filing multiple returns.

    And if you’re a member of a multi-state partnership, hire an accountant.

  163. I think Luis Valbuena had his one hot streak for the year already and is back to being Luis Valbuena. But he still wouldn’t be a bad pickup, depending on the price.

    @200, I agree that Beachy may start, and it might even be likely that he does, but it’s not a slam dunk. We stretched out Medlen last year and changed our minds. More likely, Beachy could experience a setback before the deadline, and the Braves could decide to acquire Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez or someone else to get a little more certainty, leaving Beachy for the ‘pen if he does recover in time to contribute this year.

  164. FWIW, for the 3rd time in 4 series with the Mets, we’re going to miss Matt Harvey next week.

    He’s matching up with Cliff Lee at Citi Field on Sunday.

  165. I’m curious if they will wait for Beachy to actually pitch well in AAA before bringing him up, or if there’s just a plan to activate him by a certain date as long as he’s feeling ok and there’s no physical setbacks. I haven’t looked at all of his starts but I don’t think he’s pitched all that great yet.

  166. @199 I wouldn’t pay much for Valbuena – he’s a lefty with a career .646 OPS vs. righties. Defensive stats say Valbuena been good on D since 2012, but even so, he was a 0 fWAR player for his career (1,100+ ABs) coming into 2013, and he’s 27 years old now.

  167. @ jjschiller,I agree with all your Andruw related thoughts. He was my favorite too. But I think Torii Hunter belongs in that group of peers.

  168. @207 – Total Zone runs saved hates Torii Hunter. Per 1200 Innings, -3 as a CF, 1 as RF, and 10 as LF. Best seasons as a CF were 20, 11, 3, 0, and then all negative values. Career 111 OPS+, which exactly matches Andruw.

    DRS puts them as virtual defensive equals, but those numbers only exist from 2003 on, so it misses all these guys peaks.

    DRS/year (1200 innings) best seasons (as CF):

    Andruw: 17, 14, 13, 11, 7

    Hunter: 20, 15, 15, 13, -1

  169. I certainly didn’t mean to suggest Hunter was Andruw’s equal or anything. Just that he belonged in that group of contemporary CF you had. I didn’t know the metrics were so hard on him. I really do think Andruw’s greatness is best shown in the way he would be casually blow bubbles, camped out under balls other good CF would be making spectacular diving catches on.

    Thank you for the edit button.

  170. @210 – Yeah, defintely, he belongs on any list that has Andruw, Griffey, Cameron and Edmonds on it. I just whiffed on him. I basically took MikeM’s list and added Cameron and Lofton, and just totally whiffed on Hunter.

  171. @195 & @ 201, there are different rules for athletes and entertainers than for the rest of us peons. My experience is more with cross border ex-pats and such. but further to what JohnathanF says, if your employment status is anything more complex than being an employee for someone, hire an accountant.

  172. @ myself 210,

    The edit button only does so much when you’re in a hurry on an iPhone.

    @ 211,

    No worries, I was really just goading you into doing the Andruw V. Torii comparison for me, because I’m lazy. I have a friend who maintains that Hunter was a better fielder because he made more readily apparent stunning plays and had a similar number of putouts per year.

  173. I love Andruw. He carried the burden of “everything is his fault.” for a decade and he deserves to be in the HOF just because of that.

  174. I cannot see a reason why, bench bats are among the least of this team’s current set of needs

  175. @217 Well, having him on the expanded roster in September isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

  176. I accidentally screwed up at 208. I gave Hunter credit for a 15 DRS season where he actually played RF.

    So, more information than anyone could ask for, but here’s my best at an Apples-to-Apples comparison of Andruw and Torii.

    All of these numbers are prorated to 1200 innings, rather than just pure counting numbers.

    First Andruw, and then Torii.

    The first table for each player sorts his years as a CF in descending order according to Rtot/yr, with corresponding DRS/yr for comparison.

    The second table for each player shows his best years according to DRS/yr, with the corresponding Rtot/yr for comparison.

    Andruw Jones

    Yr, Age – Rtot/yr – DRS/yr
    (1997, 20) – 41 R- —
    (1998, 21) – 31 R- —
    (1999, 22) – 30 R- —
    (2001, 24) – 22 R- —
    (2000, 23) – 21 R- —
    (2006, 29) – 18 R- 11 DRS
    (2002, 25) – 17 R- —
    (2003, 26) – 17 R- 13 DRS
    (2004, 27) – 15 R- 07 DRS
    (2005, 28) – 15 R- 14 DRS
    (2007, 30) – 06 R- 17 DRS

    Yr, Age – DRS/yr – Rtot/yr
    (2007, 30) – 17 DRS – 06 R
    (2005, 28) – 14 DRS – 15 R
    (2003, 26) – 13 DRS – 17 R
    (2006, 29) – 11 DRS – 18 R
    (2004, 27) – 07 DRS – 15 R

    Torii Hunter

    Yr, Age – Rtot/yr – DRS/yr
    (2001, 25) – 18 R- —
    (2009, 33) – 14 R- 15 DRS
    (2003, 27) – 03 R- 15 DRS
    (1999, 23) – 00 R- —
    (2000, 24) – -5 R- —
    (2004, 28) – -5 R- 20 DRS
    (2002, 26) – -6 R- —
    (2006, 30) – -7 R- -3 DRS
    (2005, 29) – -8 R- 13 DRS
    (2008, 32) – -10 R- -4 DRS
    (2007, 31) – -14 R- -1 DRS
    (2010, 34) – -17 R- -14 DRS

    Yr, Age – DRS/yr – Rtot/yr
    (2004, 28) – 20 DRS – -5 R
    (2009, 33) – 15 DRS – 14 R
    (2003, 27) – 15 DRS – 03 R
    (2005, 29) – 13 DRS – -8 R
    (2007, 31) – -1 DRS – -14 R
    (2006, 30) – -3 DRS – -7 R
    (2008, 32) – -4 DRS – -10 R
    (2010, 34) – -14 DRS – -17 R

    You can see that in Andruw’s case, his numbers are almost linear to his age, except age 23 and 24 are reversed, and at age 29 he had a bounceback where he played like he did at 24.

    You can also see that DRS only captured the end of his career as a CF.

    In Torii’s case, you can see that he’s all over the map. No linear progression to speak of, with a really bizarre spike where his second best defensive season was at age 33.

    As a result of his up and down play, you see that the seasons that DRS covers are pretty evenly dispersed through his career.

    But to the point, you can see that both systems like Andruw more, and consistently so. From looking at this, I’d say that Torii hunter played a very good looking, athletic, and wholly average centerfield.

    It’s also worth noting, that during his CF career, Torii averaged 137 games per season, while Andruw averaged 157 games per season. So prorating to 1200 causes Andruw’s rate stats to be below his counting stats, and causes Torii’s rate stats to be higher than his counting stats.

    All those extra innings meant Andruw was done as a CF at age 30, while Torii stuck it out til age 34. But, looking at the numbers, he probably SHOULD have been done at age 30, also.

  177. I just looked at Alex Wood’s BBRef page while listening to “Iron Man.” Most satisfying.

  178. @221 Alex Wood is too good for Gwinnett already. Scary!!! Don’t waste anymore of his time there.

  179. Man, I’m getting in depth with all of these CF’s like I did with Hunter and Andruw above, and I guess I was too hard on Torii Hunter. It’s just amazing.

    First, none of these guys on that list averaged more than 138 games per season, and that’s even with limiting it only to the years that they primarily played CF. Andruw averaged 157.

    Second, they all played CF for maybe 10 years, and were better than league average at it for maybe 5. Edmonds and Lofton are strange because they started playing regularly so late, and Cameron is strange because he played alot of corners before becoming a CF.

    Third, none of those guys is even in Torii Hunter’s league. And even Torii Hunter isn’t in Andruw’s league.

    Without knowing how to look in to it, I’d guess there’s just always a bunch of 22 year old all-glove, no-stick guys throwing off the league average. Because all the guys you remember being great, weren’t really that great, compared to the league, and they weren’t even “good” for very long.

    All these guys played CF way longer than they should have, basically because they could fake it, and it allowed their managers to run out 3 corner-quality bats.

    Andruw allowed Bobby Cox to do the same, all while playing CF like that revolving door of 22 year old hot shots. And he did it for a decade.

  180. @224 Andruw never got the appreciation he deserved. And he did the awesome thing of bypassing Boras to sign his extension. I love Andruw to death.

  181. Schröder is getting a lot of praise and attention in Hawks summer league so far.

    Finally the beisbol is back tonight. Gattis at 1B? Or is Freeman ready to go?

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