Kremlinology, Part 1

For those of you born after 1989… Christ I’m old. *sigh*

For those of you born after 1989, “Kremlinology” is/was the art of attempting to predict and interpret actions, statements and behaviors coming out of the Kremlin during the Soviet years. The dry definition over at Wiki doesn’t really do justice to the concept. Yes, it involves the study of Soviet (now Russian Federation) laws and systems, but it was a lot more than that. It was a kind of political reading of tea leaves; a little bit of political interpretation and a whole lot of gypsy like future telling based on smoke signals, entrails, and Yuri Andropov’s complexion on any given day. Of note, the entrails were usually provided by a thoughtful Polish dissident run afoul of the KGB.

Anyway, the entire point of Kremlinology is the dark art of sussing out what is going on internally within a completely opaque organization. It’s about trying to figure out from weak publicly broadcast signals the underlying seismic activities going on deep beneath the surface. It was like guessing the next Pope, only with the threat of thermonuclear annihilation pointed at your entire civilization, and fewer red Gucci slipper jokes.

This is clearly an apt metaphor for any attempt to figure out what the hell is going on in the Braves’ front offices. Ever since The Furcal Incident and, quickly on its heels, L’affaire du Griffey II, Frank Wren has doubled down on John Schuerholz’ dictum “you will know my plans when they hit you in the face.” Outside of official NewSpeak outlets – I’m looking at you O’Brien – no one has any clue what the hell is going on in the bowels of Turner Field. I bring this up, as today is the first day we get some word from the castle since the whole “why did all of the players boycott the media avail after the season” mystery. And that word is, to paraphrase:

  1. Brian Snikter has been promoted to manage AAA Gwinnett.
  2. Doug Dascenzo has been promoted from roving OF and base running instructor to 3B coach on the ML roster.

This all sounds fishy to me. Traditionally, 3B coach on the ML roster is the final stepping stone to your own managerial career. Prior to taking the manager's position in Florida, Fredi Gonzalez was Bobby Cox' 3B coach. Prior to taking the manager's position in Milwaukee, Ned Yost was Bobby Cox' 3B coach. When Fredi came back to Atlanta, it was a demotion for Terry Pendleton, who many saw as the next in line to manage the Braves, to move over to coach first. So it's odd, to me at least, to see Snikter "promoted" off of island and down to managing at Gwinnett.

Now, this could be straight up. It could be that Snikter has heard that he needs more high level managing experience if he's ever to take over a club in the majors. But that seems really odd to me. The guy has already managed at every level in the Braves' organization. Rookie leagues, A-ball, AA, AAA (when it was in Richmond.) It's not like he doesn't have that bullet on his resume already. So this thing smells of a "promotion to lead the Siberian research facility" type deal to me.

To add to the weirdness, he's being replaced by a guy that is, to be blunt, not a Braves organizational soldier. Prior to signing on as a roving instructor in 2011, Doug Dascenzo's primary relationship to the Atlanta Braves' franchise was the games he got beaten by them when he was playing OF for the Cubs.

Taken on their own merits, these are small things, I admit. But in conjunction, they seep out of something bigger afoot inside the halls of power over at the Ted. If Snikter, an old Bobby Cox guy born and bred, had been replaced by another Cox lieutenant – Terry Pendleton or Eddie Perez, perhaps – that would be one thing. But to bring in a guy that is, for all honest assessments, a stranger to the "Braves way?" Interesting times, I'd say. It seems that the long tail of Bobby Cox' influence may be fading a little.

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

253 thoughts on “Kremlinology, Part 1”

  1. Wow! Haruspicy, baseball, and spy vs. spy intrigue all in one post. Well done!

    Is Pendleton out? I never liked the way the Braves dismissed Hubbard. Did Pendleton write his pink slip the moment he grabbed CJ in the dugout? Stay tuned.

  2. Snikter was pretty soild, I thought. He had a poor start over there, but the last few years I had no complaints.

    I would assume that this means Fredi is safe.

  3. ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.’ WBY

  4. RE: Pendleton – I think TP is out sooner rather than later. The man wants his own team. He was the crown prince until Fredi got canned from his Miami duchy and came scuttling back to court. Now he’s warming the benches while the prodigal gets to drive Papa Bobby’s classic cars.

    RE: Fredi being safe – I honestly don’t know what Fredi is. I think; blind guess stab in the dark; that he’s trying to tightrope between the old guard and a little bit of modern thinking. During the off season when he was let go from FLA, prior to hiring into ATL, Fredi Gonzalez dropped by the Atlanta SABR convention as an attendee. Not a panelist. Just a guy in the crowd. He’s not against new thinking in baseball. But he’s not a revolutionary either.

    If anything, I think this indicates that more set-in-their-ways guys, whom I assume Snikter to be, are on the outs. I can’t for the life of me believe that the guy agitating for more shifting in the defense was Brian Snikter, for example.

    Who knows? Does Chernenko look pallid to you today?

  5. I always thought that Pendleton would coach 3B before handling any managerial assignment, so I can’t help but view Dascenzo’s leapfrogging ahead of him as nothing but a big slap in the face.

    Blazon, have you read Nicholson Baker’s novels The Anthologist and Traveling Sprinkler? Hilarious books filled with insights about poetry.

  6. After Elliot Johnson scored in game 4 of the NLDS and the cameras were panning across a celebratory Braves dugout, I saw TP up in Andrelton’s face and the two of them seemed to be in a shouting match. Did anyone else catch that?

  7. >Does Chernenko look pallid to you today?

    No, but Carlos Tosca does appear to need a sunlamp.

  8. I did not know the word “haruspicy” before. Thanks, all.

    Frankly, I think Sam’s on the right track here. Traditionally, selection of coaches is the manager’s prerogative, with advice and consent from upper management/ownership. So, when upper management steps in and fires a manager’s coach out from under him, that’s a sign that the manager is on thin ice: it’s basically the closest you can come to being fired without being fired.

    (Remember, Dusty Baker was fired after a conversation when Reds upper management told him that they planned to fire the hitting coach, and Dusty gallantly offered that if they were going to fire anyone then it should be him.)

    Unless I’m horribly mistaken and there was an unreported feud between Fredi and Snitker, I think it’s fair to conclude that this shakeup is basically a sign to Fredi that he is on thin ice.

  9. DOB saying all other coaches brought back with one-year contracts. So the message is…2014 needs to be better or everyone is out?

  10. @9

    I have no problem with TP up in anyone’s face. He has won Gold Gloves, a batting title, an MVP and helped lead this team to where it is today.

    If he wants to get in someone’s face, I’m for it.

  11. @9, What did Andrelton do? He laid down a successful sacrifice. Unless he was given a different sign?

  12. @17, Maybe he didn’t like the sac bunt call? I know I didn’t. Could’ve complained to TP and then been told to stfu.

  13. Seems to me that Wren was tired of guys getting Snitker’d on the basepaths. How many times did we have frustrating baserunning errors?

    I don’t think Fredi is on thin ice, seems to me that you all are reading too much into it.

  14. It seems to me that when TP got in Regression’s face it was warranted since he had been warned before about the bat throwing and it potentially injuring someone.

  15. @19, If anyone was going to get a public example made of them I figured it’d have been our dynamic duo of hitting coaches. Whatever the problem with Snitker was it seems like most of it stayed behind the veil of secrecy.

  16. Unless I’m missing something, I think 2014 is currently scheduled to be the final year of Fredi’s contract. So, I would say that if we go into the season and he’s still working under a one-year contract, he’s on thin ice. If they re-up him this offseason, probably less so.

    I will say that today’s moves do strike me as kind of weird. Sam’s right in that Snitker is pretty much being demoted (even though they’re insisting it’s actually a promotion) and they just promoted an outsider above a bunch of legacy in-house choices to be the third-base coach. It’s interesting, is all.

  17. Well, to restate the obvious, the fun and frustration of Kremlinology is the fact that you can make rational inferences that are supported by the known facts and still be 100% batshit crazy wrong.

    I think there’s a strong changing of the guard going on in the Braves’ clubhouse, both with coaches and players. I think Jason Heyward’s Braves are going to be significantly different from Brian McCann/Chipper Jones’ Braves. I think there’s an element of the front office who grit their teeth and smile on those three days a week that Bobby Cox comes back in to chat and forget for the moment that he retired.

    All of that is blind speculation, of course.

    And if you know something, say something Jonathan. It will go no further than the internet!

  18. @24 Amen brutha, these lips are sealed.

    I agree that Hubbard got a raw deal a few years ago. Disappointed he isn’t back with the team in some capacity.

  19. @ 9

    I noticed that too. Didn’t the Chris Johnson thing happen after he slid head first into first? Andrelton did that a few innings prior to his chewing out. Maybe Pendleton is on a one man crusade to eliminate the practice?

  20. @30 That’s not what he yelled at Chris Johnson about. Johnson threw his helmet and it hit Pendleton.

  21. I still think Pendleton chewed C. Johnson out for watching the play instead of running all out to first base.

  22. @35, Healthy players who don’t run out ground balls don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

  23. @36 I’m not sure where this “he didn’t run it out” stuff is coming from. Are you saying that because he slid? Or do people honestly think he wasn’t running hard? If you watch the replay, he was running (his version of) full speed all the way. He spectated slightly as he came out of the box, but that is human instinct; plus, I think everyone thought that ball was ticketed for the outfield.

    It was unfortunate, but I’m not ready to blame the Braves’ postseason demise on Chris Johnson.

  24. I don’t recall the play, or if he was running or not. My statement was a general one. If he wasn’t running it out like #32 says, it applies. If he was running hard the whole way like you say, it doesn’t.

  25. @37 People seem to be under the impression that turning ones head while running down the line slows you down. I have never found that to be true myself. And as you allude to, there is a valid reason for checking where the ball goes – i.e. you take a different route if it gets through to the outfield versus staying on the infield. Sliding was dumb and did slow him down, but that play wasn’t close enough for it to matter.

    In other words, they just need a scapegoat.

  26. Rollins made a great play. The ball was sharply hit by CJ and Rollins made a strong and accurate throw. Please remember CJ isn’t the fastest runner on earth, and some of us think he runs slower than he looks.

  27. I have never been a fan of Snikter, but replacing him with Dascenzo directly rather than shifting TP to third is a surprise to me.

  28. @41 It is indeed wild. I do see any valid reason why the Dodgers should trade Kemp. Of course, I would love it if this indeed happens.

  29. @41, BJ for Kemp? And he wants the Dodgers to pay part of Kemp’s salary? Maybe if they throw in Kershaw too…lol.

  30. An outfielder who can’t stay healthy for an outfielder who forgot how to hit. That sounds like a deal the Braves would make. Except then Upton would have MVP year like Joe Torre in 1970-71 (traded to the Cardinals no less).

  31. @47, I think you let Hudson fill Maholm’s role – assuming the price doesn’t preclude you from making an impact deal or two. I’d like to have him at the back of the rotation if possible.

  32. With the uncertainly to Beachy, I think we HAVE to bring Huddy back. I wouldn’t mind bringing Garcia back as a fifth starter either. Pitching depth is critical to carry the team through the entire season.

  33. You have to think one or two of Hale, Wood, Graham, or Gilmartin would get moved this offseason. Id like to hold onto the first 3.

  34. @52 If we are talking about David Price, I wouldn’t mind trading any two of them. Of course, not all of them. But Hale has done the Braves a huge favor by performing so well in his two starts.

  35. I like the idea of bringing back Hudson, that leaves us with Minor, Medlen, Teheran, Hudson and hopefully Beachy, with Wood and Graham waiting in the wings. I can’t imagine Wren making a move to upgrade that rotation. It would be nice to half a bonafide “ACE”, but GM’s hold onto those guys. To get an established ace, you have to pay through the nose in dollars or prospects. The only way I see Wren pulling it off is by heisting a guy who hasn’t taken that last step (you could argue we have four of those guys in our rotation now) or with a reclamation project (Josh Johnson’s name has been thrown around). I think Wren will make some moves to bolster the pen until O’Venters comes back and add an infielder or two who you wouldn’t hate seeing in the lineup a few days a week.

  36. I all for bringing back Hudson. Shoot, who knows he might even sign for less to come back.

    As far as the minors prospects I prefer Sims to all of the others though Graham is intriguing. I’m a bit worried about his shoulder since often times shoulder injuries are a death sentence. Let’s lock up Minor this winter for a few years, Wren.

  37. I would agree that bringing Hudson back makes sense, if only for “maturity” on the staff.
    Maholm has proven that he’s not a winning pitcher (14-16 over 1+ seasons for a team that went 141-93 since he was traded to Atlanta). Tender him a contract to ensure receipt of a draft pick and hope someone else signs him. If no one else is tempted, trade him during spring training for whatever need is most urgent.

    Garcia pitched well in his brief time here as did Hale. Wood I’m less certain about.

  38. #58 – wouldn’t we have to offer Maholm a qualifying contract? I think that offer would be $14 mil+ this offseason. He would accept and we wouldn’t be able to trade him. Just let him go.

  39. I think Yasiel Puig might be the Ron Artest of the MLB. He’ll likely do something really stupid, find God, change his name to Uber Global Love, and secretively continue to be the asshole he’s always been.

    How many bench clearing brawls will Puig be responsible for during his career?

  40. Lol

    @PedroMoura: Adam Wainwright: “I didn’t see Puig’s reaction. I saw Adrian doing some Mickey Mouse stuff at second, but I didn’t see Puig.”

  41. Puig has graduated to flipping his bat and admiring a triple from home plate. That sounds hard to do but he makes it look so easy.

  42. @59 – Agreed. We are hosed if Maholm takes the contract. It would be like the year Maddox surprised everyone by taking arbitration.

    So so you package young high ceiling pitching for a year (or is it 2?)of David Price? Are Sims and Graham untouchable?

  43. Price is going to cost 15-20 Million in salary per year for his last two arb years not to mention the prospects. For me he is not worth it, look elsewhere.

  44. 1. Paul Maholm was exactly what we thought he was. A 4ish ERA starter with a left hand. His win/loss record is meaningless in evaluating him or his time in Atlanta. Pitchers don’t win or lose. Teams do.

    2. By no means whatsoever should the Braves offer a qualifying offer to Paul Maholm. The Braves have three more impressive LHP in house already (Minor, Wood, Hale.) You don’t drop $14m on Paul Maholm.

    3. A short deal with Hudson, who is a bit more of a stabalizer than Maholm ever could be, might be valuable if he gives the team a home town/injury rehab discount.

  45. I can go either way on a Hudson deal. Save the money and go with Wood and Beachy with Hale waiting in the wings, or sign Hudson and put Wood in the bullpen or AAA.

  46. I disagree with the comment that pitchers don’t win or lose, teams do. Pitchers have the ability to either put the team in a position to win, or give it little or no chance of winning.
    For whatever reason, the team won 60% of the games played while Maholm was present while he recorded 47% winning record. This doesn’t take into account the ultimate outcome of games where he recorded a no-decision (30 decisions in 37 appearances).
    The point is that you either let him walk or try and salvage some value in the form of a draft pick or in a trade next spring if you’re stuck signing him.
    The local Kremlinologists can speculate what action Wren & Co. will take.

  47. @64 – The Rays got Wil Myers for James Shields, so I think to get anything done, they’ll be looking at that type of deal as a starting point.

  48. I’m really tired of this unwritten rule stuff. It’s an entertainment business. Are you not entertained? The self-seriousness that some of these teams (including our beloved) are demonstrating is just too grumpy old man for my taste. Viva Puig.

  49. @65, agree. I think we need to set our aim a bit lower. The marquis “ace” guys are going to cost too much. I’d rather take a flyer on a Josh Johnson or Ubaldo Jimenez type. Not quite a reclamation project, but also definitely far from a sure thing. We have a year or two gap between now and when our best pitching prospects will be ready. I think we should wait for them.

    This team needs offense more than pitching. The Cardinals scored 100 more runs that we did. I hate that our hands are so tied with our position players. Our entire offensive improvement strategy is built on hope – hope that BJ will be better, hope that Uggla will be better or replaced.

  50. @63 The cost may be $7M/WAR, did the teams think they were playing $5M or $7M?
    Did we pay $50+M/WAR for BJ?

  51. I really think Hale is prime trade bait this offseason if that is the direction they go. He would be the definition of selling high as he outperformed expectations in his 2 starts in ATL.

    #71, I also don’t think Price is one to break the bank for either, though maybe I’m wrong about that. Poor postseason performance and regular season performance really good, not dominant. Seems like we have three of those guys already with more on the way (not saying he wouldn’t be better but certainly in the same ballpark as Minor, Medlen and Teheran).

  52. @71 – Not to mention that the Braves can’t count on Chris Johnson, Evan Gattis or a good 107 PAs from Pena again. Yikes. Kind of scary once you think about it.

  53. @74 — 3.39 FIP over a 4.5-season career in the AL East is dominant. That’s prime-Sabathia good, and I know you’re not going to tell me he wasn’t an ace in 2009, 2010, and 2012.

    As for the postseason: you are talking about 32 innings pitched, my friend. That’s about as close to zero value for predicting the future as you can get with a starting pitcher. Go with the big overall sample we have: the guy’s a stud. Worth breaking the bank for if the team feels like they need an ace to win in October. (Personally, I’m not sure that’s right.)

  54. We have high ceiling pitching to give but the Rays could hold out for MLB ready. Minor, Teheran are untouchable IMHO. So which of Beachy or Medlen do you make part of the package?

  55. I’m not a huge fan of FIP, but since that’s what you chose let’s use it.

    Price is 21st since 2008 in FIP at 3.40, Medlen in 17th at 3.37. Also trails, Lance Lynn, Jamie Garcia, Anibal Sanchez, Mat Latos and Josh Johnson (who is 8th).

    For WAR he is 23rd behind Mark Buerhle, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ricky Nolasco.

    I think he’s really good, but not worth the cost in dollars and prospects like I said. One or the other by all means go ahead with a deal. And for postseason, it’s obviously a small sample size, however it’s very small sample with Medlen and Teheran that leads people to think we need an upgrade (2 starts for Medlen and 1 for Teheran). Price’s sample is larger than that and the data doesn’t help the case that we need him.

  56. 78 – Gah, there we go again. Why would anyone in there right mind trade Medlen for Price even straight up? Medlen has performed better and costs way less and they both have the same years of control left. Is it because Medlen is short?

  57. @81 – Personally I don’t trade Medlen. I’m not convinced that Price is that much of a difference maker. I’m just conjecturing that the Rays would ask for a MLB proven pitcher in any package for Price.

  58. @68 A pitcher’s win/loss record is a poor measure of how well a pitcher has performed – W/L is heavily influenced by run support, which is outside of the pitcher’s control. Take, for instance, the 2012 Phillies.
    Cliff Lee – 30 starts, 211 innings, 74 ER (79R)… 6W, 9L
    Cole Hamels – 31 starts, 215 innings, 73 ER (80R)… 17W, 6L

    So, here you’ve got two starting pitchers for the same team who have extremely similar stat lines – over the course of the year, Hamels made one additional start, pitched four additional innings, and allowed one more run to score. However, he was credited with 11 wins more than Lee, because the 2012 Phillies gave Lee horrible run support, while Hamels got decent run support. If you want to measure how well a pitcher did, you’ll do much better to look at xFIP (Expected Fielder Independent Pitching) or that old standby, ERA.

    As of the end of this season, Paul Maholm is a free agent, so the Braves cannot “salvage value” by trading him. Moreover, he would not command a free agent salary in excess of the qualifying offer (~$14M), so if we gave him a qualifying offer he would accept it, and the Braves would only have succeeded in overpaying for a pitcher they don’t want.

  59. @80 — FIP is not league-adjusted. Trying to do a straight-up comparison between Medlen and a dude who faces the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Orioles almost half his turns and a designated hitter virtually every turn is a recipe for disaster. And you seem to be ignoring the fact that Medlen made a ton (more than half?) of his appearances in relief, while Price has been exclusively a starter since 2009. Coming out of the ‘pen inflates every pitcher’s stats.

    Price is definitely the better pitcher. And @81, if the Rays were dumb enough to offer Price for Medlen straight up (they aren’t), Wren would laugh all the way to the bank.

    I do agree that basing a desire for a rotation upgrade on four combined postseason starts from our pitching core is absurd. Medlen, Minor, and Teheran are all good, so they are also expected to be good in the postseason.

  60. @85

    he’s a street thug – with all the instincts

    he will not be around long…

    somehow, sometime, somewhere, someone

    no more baseball.

  61. True that FIP isn’t league adjusted, but I don’t like it anyway like I said, I think it leaves out too much to be a go to stat.

    I guess I have too much time on my hands so I went start by start for Price vs. Medlen for their entire careers. Price’s opponents average 4.62 runs a game and Medlen’s average 4.12. Career ERA in starts Price 3.20/Medlen 2.96. Price’s ERA is 69.2% of his opponents avg runs per game (I know that’s imperfect as it doesn’t account for unearned runs) Medlen’s ERA is 71.8% so Price shows up slightly better when accounting for all of that, however we haven’t mentioned park factors. Turner Field’s park factor for runs is 0.9885 from 2010-2013, while the Trop is 0.8555 so runs are about 13% harder to come by at the Trop. Not really sure how to translate that but it seems to me to make them virtually equal.

  62. Is Yasiel Puig and Atlanta Brave? No.
    Will Yasiel Puig ever sign with the Atlanta Braves? No.

    Kill the commie pig dog.

  63. @ 87…

    all the instincts, they’re on display…

    the chances of him having any length of a MLB career are slim…

  64. @92: That really doesn’t seem to answer it at all. He’s got good instincts, but you think he won’t last. How does that make him a thug?

  65. What do you guys think about trading bad players on bad contracts for better, younger players who are cost controlled?

  66. “Street thug” is more than a bit of a racially loaded term in U.S. sports discourse, is the problem. FYI. The wrong kind of AJC commenter tends to embrace that trope. I don’t believe you meant it that way but now you know.

    I get what you’re getting at though, but I don’t think it’s accurate in Puig’s case. If he washes out, it’ll be the Francoeur in his skill set that gets him, not his brashness. Brash and good are not mutually exclusive.

    And yes, I’m entertained. Give me some showmanship over the fake sanctimony/cult of the super-classy Cardinals and their super-classy fans any day. The Cardinals and all they stand for can bite my ass.

  67. My loathing of STL, and all of flyover country really, bows to no man. But Puig may be worse. And siding with the Dogs over the Cards because of self important fans is the waking definition of recency bias. Trust me. Dog fans are as bad or worse.

  68. @ 97

    hey! FWIW

    he will wash out for nothing to do with skill sets…has great basic skills, only 22, strong as an ox..

    in order of the more likely cause…

    ONE… long term(1 to 2 year) MLB suspension..clocking an umpire/opponent/team mate/spectator…all are perfectly possible…you can’t sedate him – it’s probably a PED and if not power sapping…

    TWO… prison…GBH in some serious form or another…how are they going to hide him away in the off season from the papparazzi – Lindsay Lohan, no tits, big mitts…hair trigger temper..he will be constantly provoked.

    Did you see that episode early in his spell when the Dodgers were in Milwaukee i think, day game, he’d been called out on strikes, gave the look, muttered, went back into the dugout and suddenly exploded to get back on the field and the umpire…took 3 or 4 Dodgers to restrain him…but none of that mattered as much as the look on his face, animalistic…i think MLB is sitting on that video, the camera didn’t linger.

    Lord, forgive me…this is not my usual judgment of a fellow human being. I’m about as left as Sam is right..

    All IMHO of course – call me to task at the end of next season.

    GBH…Britspeak, Grievous Bodily Harm, the high end of the spectrum.

  69. He’s no more “animalistic” than Bryce Harper, who’s had more ugly confrontations with umpires. I haven’t noticed you or anyone else calling Harper a “street thug”.

  70. @81 I think the risk on Price is essentially the same as Justin in terms of talent. Health of a pitcher is definitely an extra consideration but Price has been durable. In terms of talent, you can argue that neither Justin nor Price has maximize their respective talent, but you ought to be excited if we are able to acquire Price just like we did with Justin.

    I honestly doubt they will want Medlen or Beachy because both of them are not cheap. They would probably target Alex Wood or Teheran if the Braves are indeed interested in Price. Imagine a rotation of Price, Hudson, Minor, Medlen, and Teheran/Beachy.

  71. @103: I don’t think anyone is getting Teheran for anything. 5 years of team control, and he has a chance of turning into that true top-of-the-rotation guy himself. (If he can just get the changeup back…) He and Simmons are the two I would be just shocked to see included in any trade this offseason.

  72. If you were to trade one of our cost-controlled guys, when would be the best time to do it? One year before FA? Two years? Sooner? At what point do the young-guys-with-potential peak in trade value?

    I think we probably wouldn’t trade anyone in this category, but you have to at least consider the idea – if you can’t sign them all then letting them walk for not much in return seems kinda crappy too.

  73. @106: Simmons might well be at his peak value right now, given that he has 5 years of team control, is widely considered to be far and away the best defensive shortstop in the majors, and has flashed intoxicating power upside. If he has a big offensive breakout in ’14 (say to a 120 wRC+) while holding his level defensively, he’d be more valuable next offseason, even with a year off his team control.

    But to think about your question at a more general level, teams on limited budgets generally don’t build championship-caliber rosters by trading established young all stars away. I rather suspect that regardless of what Simmons does, he will be more valuable playing everyday for the Braves through 2018 than he would be as a trade chip.

  74. I think two years away from free agency is the time to get max return in terms of talent getting back and the time we are getting the performance from the talent. Of course, this doesn’t mean we HAVE to trade away all talents after we have them for four years. There are indeed talents that you just don’t trade away because there is a team to build.

  75. We should learn from the Cards. See what they have done to Hanley during the first at-bat of the series? He has been a non-factor since.

  76. Peter-

    I wish you still blogged. Do a roster needs write-up for old time’s sake? You know you want to.


    Can’t tell if you’re trolling or not, but you’re out of line about Puig if you don’t realize it. The Yeats is dead-on, though.

    Re: Fun Police-

    Harper, Fernandez…the Braves probably should have gone about their business. The Carlos Gomez incident was not about policing fun, though: it was about having Paul Maholm’s back when Gomez was being an unbelievable asshole. We can do better than just run with some dumbass national sportswriters’ memes.

    Re: Maholm-

    Qualifying offer, what? Is he even a type-A free agent (not a rhetorical question)? Offering him anything is only silly under any circumstance.

    Re: Medlen-

    I think he’s a very good pitcher who would not fetch what he’s worth in a trade because of his stature and his low amount of experience relative to his age. We’re certainly not on the hook to pay him what he’s worth. I say we ride the little guy as long as we can.

  77. @90, You’re not addressing the points made in @84.

    For those who aren’t statistically inclined, find any other team’s online contingent of intelligent fans, assert that Kris Medlen is as good as David Price, and see what happens.

    I get that part of this is a discussion about value/depth. At this point, unlike @84, I’ve persuaded myself that we need one more dominant starting pitcher in order to succeed in the playoffs. I get that it’s expensive in terms of prospects/cash, that we’re a mid-market team, that pitchers get hurt, and that Minor/Teheran could become aces. I think we still need more certainty in the ace department. I think we just need one in order to compete effectively in the playoffs.

    I also don’t get why people aren’t more excited about Alex Wood. Not that I wouldn’t trade him now. But all he has done in professional baseball is succeed — most notably in the major leagues at age 22 (in an admittedly small sample). He strikes batters out. He induces ground balls. His walk rate is more than solid. He doesn’t give up home runs. Was it the fatigue at the end of the season? His mechanics?

  78. @112 According to Wren, the Braves will probably stretch Wood out again to serve as a starting pitcher option for 2014.

  79. My thoughts on Puig:

    1) He started the year here in Chattanooga. He got a ticket on for going 114 in a 45. The road he was on is a great place to have an accident. I’m leaing towards that being what ends his career.

    2) He does get a little excited. That seems to be a common them with Cuban players. I don’t want to sterotype too much, but they do play an exciting brand of baseball there. He will calm down.

    3) When/If he calms down, he could be better than Harper. He has more power and is a better defender (when he is awake)

  80. 111 Thanks for continuing the discussion. I actually feel I directly addressed the points made in 84. Anon argued that you can’t compare the opposition that Price faces to Medlen’s and I showed the difference to be about half a run a game. He argued that I was looking at Medlen’s starting and relieving stats interchangeably so I only looked at starting stats, which found Medlen’s ERA to be 0.24 less than Price and I granted Price may have a slight edge there but that his home stadium’s park factor should be considered.

    I know my opinion that Medlen and Price are virtually equal is unpopular, but I feel the numbers back the opinion up, it’s the eyeball test and scouting reports and former prospect status that shade the opposing view in my opinion and there may be some merit to those ideas. I think kc touched on this point the best when he likened Price to Justin, someone who seems should be able to more but hasn’t quite broken through to achieve his max potential yet.

    My ultimate point though is a to trade Medlen for Price wouldn’t significantly improve the on the field team next year and would eat up more of our available limited resource ($). Not to mention most have suggested Medlen as part of a package we would have to give up so there may be an added prospect cost as well.

  81. Here’s the thing about the Medlen/Price debate. I trust the Braves on pitchers. If they like Price better, I’m cool with that. The Nraves are pretty good about pitcher evaluations.

  82. There’s no way the Braves trade Simmons – for one, we don’t have anyone to replace him. Secondly, teams just aren’t trading away young, proven, cost-controlled players anymore. Caveat: the Marlins may trade away Stanton this coming year, but 1) they’re a unique and insane franchise, and 2) they’ve held Stanton for all of his pre-arb years at this point. I don’t think even the Marlins would trade, say, Jose Fernandez (at least not for another 2 years).

    With respect to a Medlen/Price comparison – the data is a bit stale, but as of the end of 2008, The Hardball Times found that the average pitcher moving from the AL to the NL dropped his ERA by approximately -.41. The expected ERA improvement from leaving the AL East to the NL East may be even greater, but even just taking that -.41 at face value, you’ve have to expect Price (3.33 ERA last year, 3.19 career) to be a sub-3 ERA starter in the NL.

  83. I think a lot of the Medlen live here is fanboyism. He’s a good pitcher. He’s not a staff ace.

  84. Comparing Medlen and Price is all fine and good but the actual question should be who PLUS Medlen will it take to get Price? It ain’t gonna be one for one. Since the Braves are heavy on pitching and light on position prospects the real question is do you part with Wood, Graham, Sims, or Hale?
    AND Medlen for 2 years of Price. I’m not so sure.

  85. I know it’s very cliche…but I think when we talk about staff “aces” we’re really saying good pitcher that throws hard. I think David Price fits that definition. I continue to believe (perhaps irrationally so) that a dart-thrower like Medlen is much easier to beat in a playoff game than someone that can miss with a fastball and still get away with it.

    All that said, all the teams left in this year’s playoffs are running complete studs to the mound every single game. It boils down to which team plays better and maybe a lot of luck. If we had a guy on the staff that you could almost pencil-in to give up a couple of runs at worst, then maybe we’ll be in a better position to create our own luck. If we give up 6+ runs then we’re not advancing period.

  86. Maybe if the prospect was Sims or Graham (assuming shoulder injury is not a red flag). But I’m not sure I would do that. We don’t have tons of prospects to give period – we should probably hold onto our best ones.

  87. Tampa wants cost controlled players for contracts. The Braves want a 2b and Price. Zobrist is getting expensive. Medlen + Wood is cheap. Throw in Gilmartin if needs be.

  88. 119, So with those adjustments, Price is a sub-3 ERA starter in the NL? Medlen career as a starter 2.96 ERA. I’ll say it again based on cost, I wouldn’t give Medlen for Price straight up.

    Edit: And I think Medlen is a staff ace about the same way Price is. He’s not a dominant ace, but he’s a fine #1.

  89. @126

    I’m not sure Medlen, Wood and Gilmartin gets us Price.

    I think we would have to add at least two B level prospects to that.

  90. On the Price v. Medlen debate.

    1. The difference in dollars can be used better elsewhere. The Braves problem is offense. They HOPE they can get BJ better and SHOULD be able to get more out of 2b. Otherwise, Simmons could be a little more like late season Simmons, Freeman might drop a little (but not much), Heyward overall would probably be about the same or a little better and JUp would be about the same overall or maybe a little better. CJ will drop a little, but 280 / 360 / 460 is still realistic. So, if you have to have dollars to make 2B better, or if you CAN pick up a LH (or primary LH switchhitter) outfielder who can play center (does that fit Dejesus? can’t remember which side of his platoon is better) you HAVE to have the $$$ to make that happen.
    2. Medlen v. Price is very unlikely to improve the team in the regular season. ADDING Price without giving up ML talent, DOES improve the team in regular season.
    3. Price MIGHT make the team better in postseason as compared to Medlen, but I think it is a slim margin. As compared to Wood or Hudson or an injury replacement of Gilmartin or Graham or Hale or as a replacement for a “problems lingering” Beachy, he makes you MUCH better.
    4. TB might be more inclined to include Dejesus or Zobrist than you would think.

  91. 129 Exactly, said it much better than I have. Price could be better than Medlen but swapping the two does little to help our chances I think. The improvement is likely to be marginal at best. If it were just prospects then I’m on board as a front 4 of Medlen, Minor, Teheran and Price is pretty darn good.

  92. Here’s what KLaw had to say about seeing La Stella in AFL:

    Tommy La Stella | 2B | Atlanta Braves
    It’s not so much that anything was wrong with La Stella but that you’re banking on one tool here, the hit tool. He’s a fringy defender at best and a below-average runner, and I don’t foresee much power with a no-load swing and a flat finish.

    He can hit, though — his hand-eye coordination is very good, and the swing is simple and hard, like a quick hack at the ball that could produce line drives and hard ground balls, but few hits likely to leave the park. That might be enough for Atlanta fans sick of the Dan Uggla Show — just two more years, folks! — but it’s more average regular than star.

  93. @131, remember, “average regular” means that he would be a two-win player, which would be a three-win improvement over 2013 Uggla.

    A second baseman who can field his position and hit an empty .280 for the league minimum is an incredibly useful player. If La Stella can do that, that would be a terrific outcome for an 8th-rounder.

  94. 132 I kind of agree. Law had him in his top 10 disappointments, but that didn’t really seem fair. I don’t think the expectation is for him to be a star, just a solid regular who’s upside is an Infante/Prado type which is plenty valuable. Law praises his hit tool which is what we need anyway so I take it as a positive.

    Obviously the worry is that the hit tool the tool that can be subject to the most luck, but at this point the hit tool would seem much more important than the power tool, as I think we’ve had enough of that.

  95. The “hit tool” is kinda the whole point. I mean if you are going to bank on only “one tool” then that’d be the one. Infielders that are all-glove no-bat are a dime a dozen. If he can give you passable defense with a high OBP and lots of doubles (which he’s shown in AA already) then we’ll be very happy with that.

  96. @135 – The thing that stands out to me is La Stella’s OBP. He walks a lot too. Way better than what we have gotten from Uggla.

    @126 – Good point. The Rays have the goods but they don’t hold all the cards in a deal. They need to keep their payroll under control.

  97. Middle infield is not the place for “passable defense.” LF, yes. What’s the point of undermining your pitchers by having someone who can’t field his position that well?

    Get Omar Infante or Mark Ellis and sign him to a two-year deal so that you’ve got 2B covered until someone from the farm system comes along. To advance to the 2014 playoffs, we need a proven talent, not a prospect. Betamit. Marte. Schafer. All were heralded as The Next Big Thing, and look what happened.

    La Stella is the latest in a long line of hyped prospects.

  98. @129: A .280/.360/.460 line for Chris Johnson next season is hilariously unrealistic. How is he supposed to drop 40 points off his unsustainable batting average while maintaining his OBP and increasing his slugging percentage? I would give CJ much better odds of playing himself off the roster by July than of coming within spitting distance of a .350 wOBA again.

  99. @139

    It did for Marcus Giles. Kelly Johnson improved.

    How hard is it really to play second base? He can’t be much worse than Uggla.

  100. Why don’t we just let La Stella work with Glenn Hubbard over the offseason to learn how to become a good second baseman? Problem solved. Oh, wait…

  101. @126 The Rays also want to stay competitive. They’re not dealing their best pitcher and second best position player together.

  102. If the Rays want to modify down from that starting point to another package, that’s what negotiations are for. My point is that the Braves should not be unwilling to part with young players if it improves their team, and the Rays do not hold all the cards in any negotiation. They want to shed payroll and get back young talent. I’d start with the deal above and then see where talks go. If they can find a better deal out there, more power to them. I’m not sure there exists a Kansas City willing to shit away Wil Myers every offseason, though, so if they can’t find someone else, the Braves should have open comm lines to them for a potential deal.

    They want to shed Price’s salary and replace his production. We want Price and a second baseman better than Dan Uggla.

  103. To put it another way, there are two positions which would be non-starters for a potential Price-to-Atlanta deal:

    1. “David Price is no more valuable than Kris Medlen.”

    2. “The Rays are so much smarter than the Braves that they would demand our entire starting rotation in return.”

    Neither of those statements is true.

  104. 148 define value because Price at $15 million to me is less valuable than Medlen at $7 million.

  105. Here’s a roster I’d like to see head north in 2014, and one that I don’t think is unreasonable.

    C Oso Blanco
    1B Freeman
    2B La Stella
    SS Simba
    3B Regression
    LF J. Upton
    CF BJ Upton (after showing in ST he remembers what that piece of wood on his shoulder is used for)
    RF Heyward

    C Laird
    IF E. Johnson
    IF Pena
    OF Schafer
    OF Terdoslavich

    Josh Johnson

    Ayala (who becomes the Braves Journal Whipping Boy)

    Whether taking a flyer on Josh Johnson and replacing Uggla with La Stella is enough to make a noticeable difference – I can’t say. But, if BJ gets his swing back to closer to his career average, and La Stella turns into a decent OBP/line drive hitter, our offense should be better than this year, even with CJ regressing and BMac lounging in the DH slot in New York.

    That leaves us Beachy, Wood, and Hale stretching it out down in Gwinnett to use as Injury replacements and/or trade bait.

  106. I know it’s very cliche…but I think when we talk about staff “aces” we’re really saying good pitcher that throws hard. I think David Price fits that definition. I continue to believe (perhaps irrationally so) that a dart-thrower like Medlen is much easier to beat in a playoff game than someone that can miss with a fastball and still get away with it.

    It’s not so irrational. It’s not like Price hasn’t imploded on the playoff stage — we all know he has — but he did pitch a complete game on short rest in the tiebreaker vs Texas. In the playoffs, I want a 93 mph fastball that generates swings and misses regardless of command, not an 89 mph one that can’t be trusted to be commanded consistently.

    To me, the extra $8 million for Price and the loss of whatever prospects is worth it because a pitcher like Price I view as something approaching a necessity in order to win the World Series, given the competition. You gotta spend money to make money. I realize there’s plenty irrational about my position, but it is what it is. I’m tired of hoping to get lucky in the playoffs. I want to spend now and boldly while our window is open in order to get relative certainty.

    That said, would I rather trade Wood, Sims, etc, to get Price, instead of Medlen? Absolutely. I just don’t think that’s realistic. And the Rays aren’t going to treat David Hale as anything more than a throw-in, even if they somehow secretly love the guy.

    @117, I misread your previous post, re: league adjustments. Sorry about that.

  107. I just want to say again: We can totally win the World Series next season. It is eminently possible, that’s not something every team can say, and that is awesome.

    In order to maximize our chances of winning the World Series next season, looking at our current roster/payroll commitments, etc, I think we might have to spend a little more ‘stupidly’ than a mid-market team might prefer and trade a little more from our pitching depth than we’d prefer as well.

    That’s a risk I want to take. In a few years, I’d be willing to bet that of the remaining playoff teams, the Dodgers and Tigers will look like the Phillies and Yankees do now. But if the Dodgers or Tigers win this year, that won’t matter because they’re diving through the open window while we sit coyly on the ledge, hoping for the caress of a chance breeze to nudge us along like a bunch of wussies.

    So, I get all the talk about marginal value, keeping our best prospects, etc. But I also say, screw that. Let’s be intelligently reckless.

    I really don’t think we can win unless we take at least some of the chances that other teams are taking. Yes, they have more money and therefore more margin for error, and yes, we have already made some clear errors with free agent spending, but even accounting for all of that, we’re basically already as good or better than our competition over the long haul of a regular season while having spent less. We need a little more certainty in a short-series/playoff setting, and I think truly elite/dominant pitching is that missing ingredient.

  108. I looked up Price on PitchFx and it looks like he lost 2-3 mph off his fastball this year vs prior years. 93 vs 96 can be a big difference.
    Medlen’s 89mph only works when it moves and hits the corners rather than sitting middle up.
    What happened to Teheran’s alleged mid-90s fastball advertised when he was a prospect? PitchFx data is suggesting 92-93 is the reality.

    In 2007, 40 year old John Smoltz was throwing harder than any of the Braves’ starters last year. That was as a reliever, but still, it seems like Braves starters top out at about 92 mph.

    96mph with location, movement and a swing & miss breaking ball would be nice for the first 7 innings of a big game. But teams don’t trade guys like that unless they can get a Doyle Alexander in return.

  109. 148 define value because Price at $15 million to me is less valuable than Medlen at $7 million.

    David Price is a better baseball player than Kris Medlen. David Price improves a baseball team’s chances of winning divisions and titles if he replaces Kris Medlen in the rotation. “Value.”

    The point is not to build the best AAV roster. The point is to build the best baseball team.

  110. @151 – Any roster that projects Venters or O’Flaherty being pivotal relievers in 2014 is basically wishcasting. Until shown otherwise, the smart money is on Jonny Venters’ career being over.

    I agree with Adam @153. You ditch the long term economics wankery in order to maximize your window. David Price maximizes the window. You can find another Kris Medlen in the minors in a year or two.

  111. @154, Price’s velocity came back somewhat, though not all the way, after a DL stint, the first in his career.

    Worth noting…in 18 starts since coming off the DL, Price walked 13 batters, heading into the tiebreaker game.

    That is just. I can’t even. He’s good.

  112. @153, 156 – shout it from the rooftops, fellas. There’s no prize for the most wins per dollar or the longest run of winning 88-93 games a year. You figure out when your window is and you go hard at it. Our window is approx. the next three years.

  113. What happened to Teheran’s velocity is that his 4-seamer is 93-94 and his 2-seamer is 89-91. And if you look at clippings from when he was being scouted in high school — the Braves signed him when he was 16 — that was his velocity then, too. He was throwing a lot of 94s in the Division Series.

    The Tampa Bay Rays are famous for asking the moon in trades, and they generally hold onto their players unless they get the moon. They traded Delmon Young for Matt Garza. Then they traded Garza for Chris Archer and a bunch of the Cubs’s other best prospects. They traded Shields and Wade Davis for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi. They never trade a star for a market price, they trade him for a premium. And they simply will not settle for less than more than enough. Hard to argue with the results.

    Hell yes, let’s get Price, but don’t forget that it’ll cost a LOT more than any of us is willing to give up right now.

  114. @155, 158 But we’re not the ones setting the budget. What’s the point of discussing roster possibilities if you start from the completely unrealistic assumption that there are no budget constraints?

    Once you admit the obvious truth that the Braves have specific budget constraints, then finding the most wins per dollar IS putting “the best baseball team” on the field as the Braves possibly can.

  115. I’m not ignoring payroll constraints. I’m saying that if you can trade 3-4 years of “cost controlled” Kris Medlen for 2 years of David Price, you do that, because this is your window and you move to win it now. You don’t hold onto Medlen at $7 mil per just because he’s under team control longer.

    I’m also arguing that if the decision is to split your resources between $7 mil for Medlen and $5 mil for a replacement for Dan Uggla, you go get Price and play Elliot Johnson at 2B.

  116. This team didn’t even maximize its allowable payroll in 2013. There’s significant money coming off (expiring contracts) and into (national TV money) the books for 2014. Some of y’all need to let your imaginations run a bit more wild than “let McCann walk, bring back the rest of ’em, sign a reclamation project, and hope,” is what we’re saying. Especially *during a championship window*.

    I’m going to make a more detailed post about the state of the organization’s finances near the eve of free agency. You might be surprised what’s possible, if Liberty acts in good faith at all.

  117. Yes. Wren may or may not be able to get the job done properly, but at least we as an online fan community can snap out of this mid-market pity party. The AAV fixation is our version of Stockholm Syndrome.

  118. I’ve set my expectations low because we did so little before the trade deadline this past season. I would argue our window was very much open, and we chose to go through it with Elliot Johnson. Maybe there wasn’t much to be had, but we didn’t exactly “go for it” in 2013.

  119. I’d expect most trade deadlines to be pretty inactive moving forward due to the extra wild card spot and the sellers demanding more in return.

  120. @164

    Except for, you know, trading one of our most popular players and one of our top rotation prospects for Justin Upton. I’d say that’s “going for it.”

    Not doing anything at the trade deadline was more a matter of nothing really being available. Nobody did anything at the trade deadline. It was one of the worst trade deadlines in history. Then, we couldn’t get to anybody during the waiver period because we were the best team in the league.

  121. @166, I guess I kinda wanted Jake Peavy. Not sure if he would’ve changed any outcomes, but he would’ve made us better.

  122. I honestly don’t think the Rays will want Medlen. I am sure they will ask for Teheran AND Wood. If somehow Wren can pull of a trade of Price without giving up Teheran or Sims, he is my hero. In my mind, we will have Medlen with us next season regardless of whether we trade for Price or not.

    I still don’t understand the love of Josh Johnson. The guy could never be healthy by the time September comes, and that’s the best case scenario already.

    I would honestly love to see a “Like” feature here because some of the comments are really good and I would love to have an nice and easy way to express my appreciation. Ok, I guess I am too lazy to type.

  123. @Seat Painter
    I like the idea of Josh Johnson and I think it’s realistic to think he’d like to come back to the NL east on a 1-year incentive laden deal to rebuild his value. However, having he and Hudson seems a stretch and unnecessary.

    Other things I’d like to see: 1. Sign Infante 2. Leave Alex Wood in the bullpen 3. Trade Uggla, eating 75% of his salary and start the year with an Infante/La Stella platoon where Infante gets significant time at other places around the diamond against RHP.

    Roster: J. Johnson, Medlen, Minor, Teheran, Beachy
    Bullpen: Kimbrel, Walden, Avilan, Wood, Carpenter, Hale, Buchter
    Lineup: Heyward, LaStella/Infante, Jupton, Freeman, Gattis, C.Johnson, BJ, Simmons
    Bench: Laird, Schafer, Pena, Infante/La Stella, Terdoslavich

  124. I like Johnson as a why the hell not kind of flier. He had a miserable year but still had an average fastball around 93 miles per hour, which means that he’s still regularly bringing it in the mid-90s, and he struck out more than a man an inning. His BABIP sucked, his strand rate was way below average, and he seemed to get homer-unlucky as well. (That’s something that can happen in Rogers Centre.) I’d gladly bring him in on one of those 1 year/$10 million “pillow deals.”

    The outcome could be anything from 2012 Ben Sheets to 2009 Javier Vazquez. I’d be willing to roll the dice on that.

  125. Who is this mystery team that takes Uggla off our hands? There’s no way we get that done without giving up something of value. I think there’s a really good chance he’s still on our roster when spring training starts.

  126. @170 Alex, I doubt he would be getting “why the hell not” kind of offers from teams. I think he will actually get a 1yr/8-10m contract which I don’t think we can afford.

  127. I like Josh Johnson, but we know we can’t bank on him, so we have to think bigger. I would like to have either Josh Johnson or Tim Hudson, and then trade for a legit ace from our depth. Either one alone is unacceptable.

    I don’t get why we’d regard Sims as untouchable. We keep him so that he can maybe, MAYBE fulfill his potential for us in…2016? That’s if everything goes right. And guess what, Heyward’s likely gone by that point. Sims needs to be sold high. That’s what it means to go for it when you’ve got the chance.

  128. @174

    Yeah, going for it means deciding what your window is and then being willing to trade anybody that doesn’t fit in that window. See Sims, Lucas.


    Can we find someone like Infante who isn’t Infante (or more to the point, hasn’t been a Brave before)? I’m just not a guy of going after former players. It has the tendency to not work out.

  129. I wouldn’t mind Infante but I don’t see us spending that much when we have Uggla, Pastornicky, Pena, Elliot Johnson, and LaStella as potential options. I know Infante is better than all of them, but 4 could be on the roster for league minimum.

  130. Tim McCarver is trying to clown a pro golfer who tweeted a pro-Puig sentiment.

    I think I’m officially on the right side of this debate. Viva Puig.

  131. The nice position the Braves are in is that if we do take a flier on someone like Josh Johnson, we have a pitching coach who has a really strong track record of getting the most from his pitchers (usually above and beyond expectations). So, there’s that.

  132. @176
    Anyone viewing Uggla, Pastornicky, or EJ this year and any other year Ramiro Pena has played professional baseball, as potential options is bonafied mad.

  133. @162 I think most of us are aware the team has a considerably better financial situation this season than in previous years but I’m personally hoping a significant portion of that is used to re-sign Simmons, Freeman, Heyward, Minor, and possibly Kimbrel. That keeps the core intact and still lets us pursue a free agent or two.

  134. @181

    I think he could be Infante with a little less pop and not quite as versitile.

    I like Pastornicky is a super utility role.

  135. Signing all those young guys to team-friendly extensions is going to require both sides to agree. I don’t know how likely it is that Heyward and Freeman will go that route. And what if we lock up Heyward long term and get a sub .800 OPS corner OF that plays 100 games a year. There’s risk if you sign them and risk if you don’t. I think the least riskiest strategy is to try to win it all while those guys are all 100% guaranteed to be Braves.

  136. Heyward is sort of Simmons-lite in one aspect – he’s worth 2 wins on defense and baserunning alone, even in a shortened season, so even if the bat doesn’t come around, he’ll likely be worth what he’s paid. Simmons is worth more without any bat, of course, but Heyward’s got a lot higher offensive ceiling than Simmons too.

  137. I’m not worried about Heyward’s bat. He started slow and had the appendectomy. Then he basically had to start his season over.

    Injuries worry more than anything. This wa a better year for him in some ways in that department. Both of his injuries were freak things. No like a pulled oblique or tight hamstring.

  138. KLaw?!?

    I think all it takes for him to be disappointed in a prospect is a tomahawk across his chest. Rememeber he was down on Freeman, Teheran, Gattis, and Simmons, too.

    Also, someone cited Marte, Betemit and Schafer as the reason we should not count on LaStella. “A long line of hyped prospects.” Please! It is convenient to make this argument but blatantly ignore Heyward, Freeman and Simmons.

    I would not call LaStella “hyped” anyway. He is more like Prado, putting up good MiLB numbers, but rising up the ranks relatively unnoticed outside of Braves’ Country.

  139. Prior to midseason 2013 no one but Tommy LaStella’s coaches in the low minors had ever heard of Tommy LaStella. The idea that he’s a big hyped prospect is absurd.

    And yes, given this team’s strengths and weaknesses, a “one tool” guy with an ’80’ on the “hit tool” is extremely valuable.

    *I really fucking hate pseudo-scout speak.

  140. Ryan, @179: the problem with your logic is that you’re not accounting for what the replacement options are. If you’re going to punt the four of five internal 2B options then you have to identify the better option you’re bringing in to replace them. (I suggested we try to pry an expensive-getting Zobrist away from TB, but people apparently think that’s insane.)

  141. I like the idea of Ben Zobrist in a Braves uniform. I just don’t know if the Rays are going to be willing to part with both Price and him for a return we can afford to give.

  142. Fredi G was interviewed on some satellite radio show yesterday and said we need an “ace”. I think all-the-money and all-the-prospects are in play for someone. David Price…or….? Who’s the consensus second or third choices in the ace-sweepstakes?

  143. Yeah put me down for Lee, Sale (though I worry about an injury) or even Scherzer (who may be available) over Price.

  144. @197, he was fairly diplomatic about it and was quick to add that Teheran and Medlen and Minor can all grow into that role. But yeah…it was a bit surprising because it wasn’t just coach double-speak. He flat out said we need a #1 that can be our horse, and that all the final four teams have that.

  145. I think that the Braves will go with an in house solution at 2b not named Uggla. Alex makes a good point. Zobrist is good and not that expensive.

    The Braves may concentrate their resources in acquiring the ‘ace’ that supposedly puts us over the top.

    That may actually be easier than trying to find offensive help. Good hitting 2bs are hard to come by and thats the only open position.

  146. Well, 2B is the only open position if you feel Oso Blanco/Laird can handle the catcher’s spot and that BJ will return to some sembelance of his normal form.

    Otherwise, you’ve got issues all over the place.

  147. If Fredi is openly discussing the need for an ace then you can be assured the front office has prioritized a #1 starting pitcher as this off season’s “get.”

    I think it’s worth noting that the Braves and Fredi probably think Tim Hudson was the “ace” we were missing in the playoffs this year, so they don’t consider it insulting to Medlen or Minor to say they aren’t aces because they were never meant to be this seasons’ #1 options.

  148. @205: The reactions are similar all across MLB, not just Braves fans. Deadspin isn’t going to miss a chance to take the “redneck, bigoted, Georgia hillbilly” stereotype and run with it.

  149. Yeah. Deadspin does what Deadspin does. Call me when we kill opposing fans in the parking lots.

  150. Deadspin is more or less an online sports tabloid at this point, so yeah, they’re gonna just cherry-pick the team that fits their stereotype the most and run with it.

    However, that doesn’t make the things that were posted on the Braves Facebook page any less odious. I’m gonna hold my tongue to a large extent here, but as far as I’m concerned, anybody who says they no longer support the Braves because of this MLB-wide Facebook post will not see me running after them trying to convince them to stay.

  151. @202 – Well, we gotta play BJ and a hitting catcher is an even rarer commodity than a 2b. You are correct though, lots of question marks.
    Chris Johnson ? – 2013 an outlier year?
    2b ?
    Gattis/Laird ?
    BUpton ?

    Add to that, JUpton is one streaky dude. Heyward ? I give him a question mark because before the appendectomy he pretty much sucked for a couple of months.

  152. 210 I think we can all agree there.

    A shame Braves fans have to be labeled the poster child for that thinking was my point. I don’t doubt that it’s probably more abundant in the South, but I’m sure we weren’t the only fan base to attract that type of response.

  153. I don’t doubt that it’s probably more abundant in the South

    You’ve clearly never really met the “Bleacher Creatures” up Bronx way, huh?

  154. Sam-

    What makes Medlen that trade chip? Look, let’s kick the tires and everything, but I’m not sure he gets us Price the way that a Sims/Wood or Sims/Hale pair would. I’m not sure he gets us anyone who would be better than what he gives us for the money right now, which is probably something only a little worse than his career 134 ERA+. I think we can get Price or another guy (Lee? Sale? I really don’t know who’s available outside of Price) without giving him up–so where’s that conversation? I think we can tweak this trade on the Braves’ end. Can we?

  155. The Rays are going to want at least on ML ready arm and a stud or 3 for Price. It is how they roll.

    They probably would want Wood and Sims and Hale AT LEAST for Price, maybe even Tehran.

    I don’t see Medlen as a chip that would bring us much in return. He is a guy we should hang on to. He means more to us than he does other teams.

    If the Rays would take Wood and Sims and call it a day for Price, I pull that trigger immediately. A rotation of Price Tehran, (Beachy/Hudson/Hale), Medlen, and Minor, would be so formitable for the next two years, and paired with a bullpen that is the best in the game would give the Braves a great look at a championship if BJ improves and LaStella plays well at 2B.

  156. I was born in Atlanta, still have family there, and lived in Florida for 20 years. I’ve worked in NYC and NJ for the last 15 years.
    The liberal elites of the Northeast imagine that simply living in this area makes people cultured and better educated than what they imagine to be the bigoted religious South. This also is part of their justification for paying unionized elementary school teachers $100k or more with lifetime guaranteed employment, as they claim this is why kids in various NJ schools score higher than average Southern kids, when in actuality it’s because in some towns its the norm for both parents to have university degrees (often advanced), and push their kids to learn.

    I think the fart-sniffers of NYC and the NY Times are the ones who are bigoted and out of touch with what is actually going on in the south. They are upset that so much of the industrial economy is fleeing the heavily unionized, regulated, and taxed North, and relocating to relatively economically freer southern states. Thus they cast the south as backward and primitive, like some sort of third world sweatshop country.

  157. On the upside chart Teheran > Medlen, IMHO.

    Medlen has been bandied about as the trade bait in these scenarios because it seems like he is the most tradeable asset. The Rays will want either MLB ready or MLB very close AND at least one high upside prospect for Price. They are smart that way.

  158. Tanaka would look good in Atlanta. It would be nice to see Wren put the Kawakami disaster behind us too.

  159. Honestly, Tanaka is the way I’d like us to go. You look at the top pitchers of the last couple of years and right up around the top are Darvish, Ryu, Iwamuka even Kuroda.

    Tanaka costs you nothing in prospects, only money. KLaw had this to say about him today:

    “He’s not close to Darvish. No one from NPB is. The entire comparison is based on ethnicity/former league. Tanaka is more comparable to Kuroda”

    Sounds like he’ll fit right in with the KLaw sniping beginning already. I actually love reading KLaw but it is hilarious that he bashes the Darvish comparison based on race and then proceeds to compare him to another Japanese player.

  160. Tanaka went 20-0 last year. I know pitcher wins… blah, blah, blah!

    But 20-0 is impressive anywhere.

  161. Keith Law compared Tanaka to Kuroda, and if that’s the case then yes please, because Kuroda has been one of the better starting pitchers in the game for the last six years. The problem is that the bidding will go high on Tanaka, because unlike a normal free agent he will not cost any compensation picks. Likewise, Jose Abreu will get overpaid too.

  162. So, if I understand this correctly, a bidding war to pay the club for the right to negotiate with him, then if you win that one you still have to pay the player, right?

  163. @226 Though we probably burned some serious bridges with the way our GM handled the Kawakami situation. I know Bartolo Colon’s not an ace but how would he fit in our rotation? Seems like Oakland just said thanks, but no thanks for 2013.

    Granted I have no inside knowledge on the situations but I’m inclined to believe that generous extensions to Heyward and Freeman would be welcomed by the players. We have the money to make it worth their – and our – while to sign long-term. Get it done!

  164. I think the Braves have been burned by free agents and rentals for last 9 or so years. I do not want to overpay.

  165. @228: This is going to sound kind of broken-recordy, but it takes two to tango. It’s quite possible that both Heyward and Freeman are bound and determined to test free agency, such that you would have to pay them 1.5x what the front office considers them worth to get a deal done. There was reporting that the Braves approached both of them about extensions over the last offseason and that neither was really interested in exploring that. For different reasons, I think both are less likely to want to talk extensions this year than they were last year—Freeman because he just had a breakout campaign and can see a big free-agent payday getting closer, Heyward because he probably feels like his value is artificially depressed by having to fight through two freak injuries this season.

  166. I don’t recall reading/hearing anything about the team approaching them with extension offers last season. If this is the case then it bums me out. I feel a lot of teams are unable to lock up their stars long term because the contracts they offer are low. Granted, I know teams are buying out arbitration years but they still have to consider what the player might get in free agency. I have no numbers to back all of this up it just seems that way to me.

    I think something like 6 for $75 million is what I’d offer Freeman and close to that for Heyward.

  167. Yes, that’s true. Both Freeman and Heyward turned down extensions last offseason. No numbers were reported from what I can recall, but they declined an offer.

  168. One might hope that Heyward would be more likely to want lock in a big long-term contract right now than roll the dice and wait *because* of the injuries and freak things that have plagued him lately.

    Would you turn down guaranteed generational wealth for the chance (probably a pretty good chance, but not guaranteed) of getting more in a couple of years. I think I’d take the money and run now. But that’s just me.

  169. I have friends on my Facebook page linking to other media outlets linking to Deadspin about how Atlanta Braves fans are evil, awful homophobes. Fantastic.

    You know, I went to the Seattle Mariners FB page earlier today and their little “Stop Bullying” link was loaded down similarly. Funny that, I feel as a Braves fan I’m being bullied. Har har har.

  170. @238

    Even the Giants–you know, the team located in one of the most gay-friendly cities in America–had comments like that posted to their Facebook page. But the notion that ignorance and narrow-mindedness are character flaws that people everywhere are susceptible to clashes with the more ego-soothing notion that those two negative qualities are exclusive to and solely characteristic of a distant region of the nation and that outsiders are immune and therefore superior to residents of said region, so Deadspin naturally refuses to mention it. It’s much easier to just lazily perpetuate stereotypes that, although admittedly and unfortunately are based on some degree of truth, are still misleading and promote ignorant and narrow-minded views about the people of a region.

  171. Things that will happen on the internet:

    – people will make dumb comments
    – Deadspin will be sensationalist and trashy

    It’s not personal, nor should we take it as such. Visit any team’s blog and you’ll find some variant of the “the national media hates us!” complex.

    This whole discussion is an example of why if you have to start your post with “I hope this doesn’t blur into the politics line too much,” it already has.

  172. @242 Excellent line drive contact hitter, tons of doubles but few HRs, great BB/K rate, fringy defensive skills at 2B? Sounds a lot like this guy, dunnit?

    It would be unreasonable to expect to get Matt Carpenter’s 2013 season out of La Stella next year (or any year, really) but 2012 Carpenter is not a bad starting point at all.

  173. Oh no, all La Stella can do is hit! On second though, he should be summarily stuffed in a burlap sack with a few bricks and thrown in the nearest river.

  174. #242 – LaStella has the most upside of all of our internal options, barring Uggla making a miraculous bounce back. I still believe there is zero chance of us bringing in another 2b option (KJ, Infante). LaStella’s progress has the most to do with that.

    Spend that $10 mil towards an ace type SP in a trade or keep BMac around.

  175. take a break…Masefield, then you know who.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    he must advance to the plate again, to his site of triumphs old
    his eyes rebuilt, a sneering lilt as the pitcher’s winds unfold
    and the bat’s crack and the ball’s jump and the shortstop shaking
    his numbers grow? they don’t you know and the GM’s quaking.

  176. Well, if we don’t get a 2B upgrade from outside the organization, I’m going to take that as a sign that the FO thinks La Stella’s the real deal because they clearly don’t view Uggla as a viable option.

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