At First I Thought The Braves Were Just Badmouthing Wren Because They Fired Him

But the list of people who left the team during his tenure, and who are coming back now, just keeps getting longer:

In the latest of the rash of front office and scout personnel returning to Atlanta, California scout Tom Battista has left the Boston Red Sox and returned to the Braves’ organization as a crosschecker (essentially a scout who oversees other scouts and corroborates their reports in a particular geographical area), per ESPN’s Keith Law.

Law’s tweet alludes to two of Battista’s best signings, Tommy Hanson and Freddie Freeman, both of whom were discovered during Battista’s tenure as an amateur scout and crosschecker on the West Coast from 2004 until 2010. Other signings attributed to Battista during his time in Atlanta include Kris Medlen and current Arizona Fall League participant Aaron Northcraft.

Roy Clark is back too, of course, and he’s a bigger name, but this is starting to become kind of a pattern. Maybe Wren really was a tough person to get along with.

124 thoughts on “At First I Thought The Braves Were Just Badmouthing Wren Because They Fired Him”

  1. Right. There’s a hell of a lot of people coming back home to Atlanta these days, and only one notable change in the org to precipitate it.

  2. So I guess I have to voice the other completely plausible alternative. Which is: Wren edged out the old guard in favor of his own people, which he’s perfectly within his rights to do, and the old guard were all butthurt over it.

    Here’s how to determine the truth. Wren didn’t GM the Orioles long enough for us to be able to say if he was also tough to work with there. But if Wren really is such a terror, you’d think there’d be constant attrition over his entire tenure. Perhaps even with the Orioles.

    Did the people who Wren brought in also find him tough to work with? There’s your answer.

    The more this drags on, the more our whole FO looks like a bunch of entitled crybabies to me. They might be better at their jobs than Wren’s people, so whatever…

  3. Of course any evidence we might have one way or the other is mostly anecdotal but I thought I would add this: I attended many season ticket holder “state of the Braves” meetings where Wren spoke. The vibe (and really was only that, just a vibe) I got from him was he was very much a “my way or the highway” kind of guy. Maybe he’s easy to get along with as long as the way you want to do something is also the way he wants it done.

  4. When Wren took over as GM there were numerous reports that he was rough around the edges. He made the call to have the team plane take off and leave Cal Ripken Jr. behind because he was stuck in traffic and was minutes away… Look at how John Smoltz left the team when he strongly desired to retire with the team. Even Chipper went public that he wasn’t confident he would finish his career here.

    Wren has flaws. He made some great trades though.

  5. I don’t fault the team for not resigning Smoltz — it proved to be the right move, and probably not the instance you’d want to cite if you’re trying to steer clear of the overly-proud butthurt jackass type.

    Chipper is at best the latest loyal foot soldier to flog this dead horse, and at worst, kind of a dumbshit. I don’t begrudge Chipper using fan loyalty as leverage to get the best last deal for himself from Wren, but seriously…

    Given that Cal Ripken Jr. could get himself into so many consecutive games, perhaps he could summon the grittiness necessary to make a flight on time?

    Point being, there are at least two sides to every story. We know one. This whole thing is beyond tiresome.

  6. @8 Ripken had a habit of being late and keeping the team waiting for him on the tarmac. Wren may be a difficult jerk, but it’s not fair to blame him for that move. As for Smoltz, his choice was $5M with incentives from Atlanta, or $5M guaranteed from Boston, at the time a team with a much greater chance of getting to the World Series. He was glad to leave, but he made a big show of being victimized to cover his ass.

  7. What I learned from the movie “Moneyball”, which has since been novelized, is that Phillip Seymour Hoffman Art Howe and his old actors playing scouts didn’t get along with that brash, handsome Brad Pitt Billy Beane either or his pudgy egghead Jonah Hill “Peter Brand” Paul Depodesta.

    And the new guard did just fine in the movie and in real life. So there’s that

  8. @RealCJ10: Amazing that all these people are coming BACK to the Braves organization! Wonder why??? Hmmmmm….

  9. Here’s the thing; if you’re going to be a “my way or the highway” micromanager type, that’s fine. As long as you succeed. But if you fail; and it’s hard to say Frank Wren didn’t fail in key aspects of his role; well, when you fail, the people you’ve been shitting on for years are going to come out of the woodwork with knives out.

  10. @17, Good question to ask the people who made the decision to hire him and, wouldn’t you know it, are still around themselves.

  11. Because he had skills we needed and respected and worked well in a secondary role to JS for years. The idea that this is black and white, either or is silly and childish.

  12. @DOBrienAJC: #Braves announced 6 more front-office or scouting moves inc. Billy Ryan as dir. of baseball operations. Spent 4 seasons as Ariz. asst. GM

    @DOBrienAJC: Other #Braves moves: Tom Batista, national crosschecker; Marc Russo, dir. of international ops; Mike Silvestri, dir. Latin Amer. Scouting…

    @DOBrienAJC: also, #Braves hired Lebi Ochoa as sr. adviser in player development, and promoted Dixie Keller to manager of scouting operations.

  13. Wow, the front office is doing something to address the major issues.

    1) The fact that we have drafted like crap
    2) We have scouted poorly (thus the free agent signings and poo drafts)
    3) Our player development has sucked for a few years. Both at the big league and minor league levels.

  14. @21,

    I agree we could scout better, but I just wish someone had just kinda looked at BJ Upton’s declining OBP’s and balked.

  15. I grew up a Braves fan, I grew up in Georgia. I grew up riding past the stadium every day. They know where I stand as far as wanting to play in Atlanta. The front office is well-aware, and I think the fans are well-aware. That’s my passion, going out there and playing every day. I love playing the game and it was icing on the cake to be drafted by the home team for me in the draft. There’s a business side of things, and that’s going to take care of itself, but y’know, we’ll have those conversations, I guess, whenever they see fit (laughing). But, as far as me, I’m just trying to get ready to go play baseball, have fun doing it, and it’s been a pleasure playing in Atlanta thus far. – Jason Heyward

    Linky link.

  16. 23: Great that he feels that way. Still doubt that the Braves’ contract offer ends up in his ballpark. They just can’t pay him like he’s going to get paid, so he’ll walk.

  17. I suppose it’s comforting to see former employees coming back into the fold. I’m not particularly comforted by it, though — I have no idea how well they’ll do, and looking backwards is almost never the right answer. I’d like to see JS, Cox, and McGuirk all take a powder, personally. Old boy networks are usually retrograde at best, pernicious at worst. I root for the fuckin laundry.

  18. @10

    By “overly-proud butthurt jackass type,” do you mean our hall-of-fame former general manager or our hall-of-fame former manager?

    “(Our hall-of-fame former third baseman) is at best the latest loyal foot soldier to flog this dead horse, and at worst, kind of a dumbshit.”

    “Given that (a hall-of-fame shortstop) could get himself into so many consecutive games, perhaps he could summon the grittiness necessary to make a flight on time?”

    “Point being, there are at least two sides to every story. We know one.”

    From my perspective, it seems like we know that Frank Wren gave tens of millions of dollars to BJ Upton, Dan Uggla, Kenshin Kawakami, and Derek Lowe. Was he the only person in the room when those decisions were made? No. But he was the general manager when those decisions were made. He wasn’t terrible at his job, but he made mistakes that can’t be made if you’re in his position. If the necessity of his dismissal carries with it a restoration of skillful employees past, all the better.

  19. @26, You left out the farm system. I’m not pro-Wren in the sense that I think he deserved to keep his job. He didn’t. I am pro-Wren in the sense that there is zero need to do to his character what the Italians did to Mussolini when they caught him.

  20. Agreed that the thrashing of Wren’s character is low class, but the farm system is the worst it’s been in decades. Wren seemed more likely to hoard prospects than JS, which I liked, yet what he was building wasn’t worth protecting.

    The charcter assassination aside, what we did before was better than what we have done lately. All these returns are most welcome.

  21. re: Heyward’s quote @23

    A guy I met this summer at some writing thing, an older guy, in his early eighties, started talking to me about his non-writing life. He’s retired, but he used to be some kind of political consultant. Anyway, his hobby now is international politics. He started listing U.S. responses to international issues from the last ~30 years that he’s disappointed in. I didn’t know what to think; I’m not quite 30 years old, and I didn’t want to give him some spit-take reply. So I told him the only honest, non-partisan thing I could think of: “Well, it’s complicated. We can’t get them all right.”

    He said, “It’s not complicated. You just find the good people and support them.”

    That’s a kind of bedrock clarity that can get lost in all the changing interests; and it isn’t the final say in foreign policy, but I think it’s the right starting point.

    Anyway, I can’t remember now who he liked and who he didn’t like. It doesn’t matter. He’s not going to advise anybody anymore.

    But back to the Braves: Heyward is the right guy. He trains hard. He plays well. He likes being here. He leads. He’s good people. And that should be where the Braves start with him. Try to keep him because he’s the right one. If it doesn’t work out in the end: okay. Not everything works out. But Heyward’s the goal. It isn’t complicated.

  22. @30 – That guy gave you a gross over simplification. Its just plain fact that sometimes the bad people are on the correct side of national interests and the good people aren’t.

    On Heyward it is complicated. Most of his value is in his defense. Do you pay him Freeman money for his glove? The Braves have to be conflicted. They desire him to be what he apparently is not, a power hitting corner outfielder. And yet he adds so much value to the team. I want the Braves to sign him to a long term contract. I want them to play him in CF where his offensive skills play better. But if he wants 20 million dollars a year then they should let him go or trade him. If he hits the FA market it will be interesting to see how much his abilities get him in the open market.

  23. I think at this point, I’d be willing to pay Heyward Freeman money. I’m not sure where that fits into the budget long-term, and I REALLY hope it doesn’t come down to choosing between Heyward and Simmons, because I want them both forever.

  24. The choice won’t be between Simmons and Heyward. Simmons is under contract the next 6 years. The contract is back loaded and ends at his age 30 season. It’s a good contract for both team and player and will only look bad for the Braves if he continues to be a terrible offensive player and even then considering that he is, apparently according to the metrics de jour, the BEST defender in all of baseball, it won’t be that bad.

    Paying a premium for, apparently, the best middle infield defender in all of baseball, I get. I will be curious to see how the market reacts when it comes to, apparently, the best defensive right fielder in all of baseball.

  25. @31

    Of course he did. That’s the point. I don’t care if it doesn’t make any sense with regard to foreign policy.

    The Braves need to go to Heyward and say, “We’d like for you to stay in Atlanta for several more years. How can we make that happen?” That’s the first step. All the rest is unnecessary complication until that first step is taken. And if the Hart Squad hasn’t figured that out yet, shame on them.

  26. If the Braves were to offer Heyward Freeman’s contract, it would be in line with what Freeman would make in ’17-’21, not ’15&’16. A 7/140MM deal would get it done I’m betting. It’s doable, but could handicap the Braves should any of the core prove faulty. I think it’s a worthwhile gamble.

    2016, as of now, has 6 committed contracts: Teheran, Freeman, Kimbrel, Simmons, C.Johnson, B.Upton, for 57 million. Adding Heyward at 20MM still gives the Braves financial flexibilty. 2017 would be the year it would get tight, but it would also be the year the Braves move into the new stadium so the likelihood of a larger payroll is high.

    If the Braves were to be smart with Justin Upton this offseason and trade him for 2-3 can’t miss prospects, preferably a starting pitcher and an OF/3b, then there’s no reason why the Braves couldn’t at least make the offer to Heyward, as the team would be cheap for a while with Peraza, La Stella, Gattis, Wood, Gosselin, Bethancourt, S.Simmons, Carpenter, Walden, Avilan, Varvaro, Shreve, and others still in the minors costing next to nothing (Kubitza, Wren, C. Martin, Hoyt,…).

  27. @31 @34

    1) That’s why I voted for Mitrock Obomney in 2012.

    2) The glove thing is a serious issue. I may be wrong, but from my personal, limited research, outfield gloves don’t age well. Here’s Andruw Jones dWAR from bref by year:

    20 – 2.5
    21 – 3.9
    22 – 3.8
    23 – 2.7
    24 – 2.9
    25 – 2.3
    26 – 1.7
    28 – 1.1
    29 – 1.9
    30 – 1.4

    Torii Hunter, who wasn’t nearly as good in his 20’s as Andruw became a liability after 30.

    Jason just put up his best dWAR year (2.8), and I guess if he can be a 3 WAR bat, it doesn’t matter that much if the glove declines over the next 5 years because with his arm, he’ll still be a serviceable RF. Not sure I’d want to tie up $18 mil for that kind of player on the back end.

  28. @36
    1 WAR is worth 6MM on the FA market. Paying Jason 20MM/year to be a 3.3 WAR player/year through age 33 would be a gamble I’d be OK if the Braves made.

    Torii during that same time frame was worth 23.5 WAR making him worth that contract.
    Andruw during that same time frame was worth 28.6 WAR making him worth that contract.

    Heyward will likely never have Andruw’s power, but I could see him putting up Torii’s line without having the massive defensive decline that chubby Andruw experienced.

  29. @34 – I am sure the Braves have made overtures of that sort and I am sure that the numbers floated by both sides were far apart. The Braves have to wonder what the market value is for a light hitting outfielder whose primary contributions are defense and getting on base. I would.

    Is there position player making 20 million dollars a year whose largest contribution to a win is defense? I don’t think so.

    edit: @37 without looking I’d hazard a guess that the larger part of Hunter and Andruw’s WAR was offense.
    I am not convinced that all defense from every position is equal nor am I convinced that defense is as valuable to a win as offense is.

  30. Jason Heyward is a career .780 OPS player. That’s not light-hitting anymore. His offensive value from RF was ranked 9th in the majors out of 21 qualified. And his defensive value is light years above any other right fielder. Even if you don’t believe that offense and defense are measured equally, the fact remains that Jason was a ridiculous force in the field and slightly above average at the plate.

  31. I think 7/140 is way too aggressive for Heyward. He’s trending in the wrong way offensively.

    OPS
    2010 – .848
    2011 – .708
    2012 – .814
    2013 – .776
    2014 – .735

    I’m willing to pay for his defense, but I think he’s in line for something closer to 7/95-100. I think he’d have a hard time turning down $100m and taking a chance at the FA market.

  32. What about Justin Upton for Yoenis Cespedes + cash…say, $4 million?

    That gives us a perfectly playable left fielder for the year and frees up an extra $8 million to tinker with the line-up. Boston’s interested because they get an excellent hitter who comes with a draft pick at the end of the year. We’re interested because it saves us some money without a huge decrease in production, and gives us the chance to make up that production elsewhere.

    Maybe we can persuade them to take Chris Johnson…………I hate Chris Johnson.

    Anyway, is it in our interest to bring back a major-league player for Upton over prospects? That’s the part I can’t wrap my head around.

  33. I think it’s MLB ready prospects, not just prospects that we would want in return. Mookie Betts for example would/should be a target.

  34. Given league trends, Heyward isn’t really going backwards. His OPS+ number the last three years are 117, 114, 108, which appears to be slight regression — except that he’s actually improved in the undervalued variable of on-base percentage. He’s gone .335, .349, .351 against league averages of .318, .315, .312. So his “O+” has been 105, 111, 113 (while his “PS+” has, obviously, declined — to the tune of 120, 110, 100). Considering that he also grounded into only 2(!) double plays and stole 20/24 bases (along with his ability to take the extra base), he’s was no less valuable offensively last year than in 2012.

  35. @41 Read the Schoenfield article in order to be pissed when he didn’t say CJ was our worst player. Then he did.

    Gotta give the guy more credit

  36. Yoenis Cespedes has a clause in his contract that he can’t be offered a QO. So no pick when he walks.

  37. Right. I was talking about the Red Sox getting a pick for Upton if he walks. We get the short-term financial flexibility with relatively minimal downgrade at the position.

  38. @40
    If we offer him 7/100 million, he’d be barking mad to take it. If he has a career year in 2015, he’ll be looking at a 22-25MM yearly deal.

  39. For the record, as offensive levels crater league wide, OBP loses value and SLG gains value. OBP is still more valuable, but it’s something like 1.2 // 1 rather than 1.4 // 1.

  40. @50

    Kubitza, Peraza, Wren, and Graham could immediately compete for a spot on the 25-man.

    The Braves are incredibly weak at 3b (Kubitza) 2b (Peraza), and the bench (Wren); and I think we’ll need one more lefty arm in the bullpen (Graham).

    I bet Wren, Kubitza, and Graham break camp with Atlanta. Peraza will probably be waiting in the wings if the Gosselin/La Stella combo fizzles out.

  41. @53
    So, Tommy La Stella is already an afterthought for you due to 1/2 season in the Bigs?

    And there is no way that Wren breaks with the club. Kubitza, only if the Braves don’t find a complimentary piece for CJ.

  42. I bet you a fantasy draft pick 2 of the three guys I named are in the bigs on Opening Day. Wager voided if any of them are traded before then.

    And Tommy La Stella was a poor hitter and defender in the majors in 2014. He’s no afterthought–guy had an almost 1:1 strikeout-walk ratio–but he’s no lock. That’ll happen when you post a sub-replacement level season. He better bring it come spring training, because a poor defender with a .325 on-base percentage and no power whatsoever is not a regular major leaguer.

  43. All of you saying you wouldn’t Heyward “Freeman money”: that’s fine. That means you won’t keep him. Unless he suffers a horrific injury in 2015, he is in line for a lot more than 8/$135 million, and his agents know it.

  44. Michael Saunders is going to be “shopped hard” at the GM meetings. A left-handed batter that can play average defense and hit RHP well would be a great start to the offseason. Would cost about 3MM in 2015. They could use a left-fielder and their farm is frickin’ loaded…seriously. Holy smokes.

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2014/4/14/5614726/seattle-mariners-top-20-prospects-for-2014

    A great buy-low candidate from them would also be Brad Miller.

    Miller, Saunders, and a prospect for Justin Upton? I’d be down.

  45. @Edward
    I can’t make that bet because Graham and Peraza could very well do just that depending on the offseason moves.

  46. At this point I’m thinking the best move is to keep Justin and Jason for 2015 and see what happens. I could be convinced that the 2015 roster has a chance to make the playoffs if we can add a few pitching pieces.

    If we trade either for prospects it’s very likely that won’t even be remotely competitive for several years.

    Of course there’s a chance we won’t be very competitive next year even if we keep them. Coppy has a big job in front of him, that’s for sure.

  47. I do not see why you say that if we trade either Heyward or Justin for prospects that we will not be remotely competitive for several years. You do realize that at least one of them is gone after ’15, right? Wouldn’t getting some (near) MLB talent for one of them make us better in ’16 & ’17?

    We really need to figure out which of the two we can keep and look to trade the other.

  48. Also I want us to try to sign both JUpton and Heyward long term. I think it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll be able to trade for guys that are as good as them, and even less likely that we can properly fill their voids via the FA market.

    The time to trade them was last offseason. At this point I want to keep them.

  49. I would like to go for it in 2015 too. I think if we trade either of them we won’t get enough back in return to compete next year.

    @60 – What krussell said @61. I don’t think sacrificing 2015 guarantees that we are competitive in 2016 and beyond, especially if the return players are prospects.

    However, I think the Braves will try their asses off to deal Justin this off season. Theoretically he would get the biggest return.

    @47 – The elusive career year. That’s the main reason that a long term deal with Heyward is complicated. Its not in his own best interests to sign long term now. The 20 million dollar per year position guys are/were hitters (perusing the list you linked to). If he has that breakout offensive season then his leverage is huge. If I were him I’d hold off too.

  50. I’m not sure why we want to keep everyone around when they aren’t winning together anyways. Trade Justin now for MLB ready players. Offer an extension to Heyward. If he says no, then trade him. Our lineup right now is punting for 2015 anyways, trading these two before they walk isn’t destroying the team.

  51. I will concede that a lot of good things have to happen for the team to compete next year. But I think that with a couple of guys having good years, a couple of pickups that play league average and BJ the Braves can compete.

    I guess I am a glass is 25% full guy.

  52. @64, yeah it’s fair to say you can’t destroy a team that’s already bad to begin with, but Heyward and Justin aren’t the reasons we were bad. They are two of the best players on the team. If we want to “win now” then building around them is the only viable path.

    If we want to start the decade long rebuild then sure – trade everyone. I want to delay the inevitable for one more year if we can.

  53. There are too many variables right now for there to be a clear course of action, at least from our vantage.

    In a way, we’re lucky not to have to be shopping for frontline starters. But it usually takes a while for the market to set itself. By then, we should know what we can afford (BJ, and I guess, Santana) and whether or not we’re going for it (Jupton/Heyward/perhaps Gattis).

  54. @64

    Not that I think we need to stand pat or anything, but:

    Freeman, Uggla, Simmons, Johnson, Upton, Upton, Heyward, Gattis, and Laird.

    Those nine guys were among our top-12 in total plate appearances in 2014 when we won 79 games.

    Those same nine guys were among our top-12 in total plate appearances in 2013 when we won 96 games.

    It isn’t an inherently run-averse bunch.

    Also this exercise really showed me how much it affected this team not to have Brian McCann.

  55. @68, or maybe how much better our offense can be if Gattis plays a bit of LF when not catching?

  56. Laird is gone via free agency. You are either playing Bethancourt or BJ Upton in his at bats, as currently configured.

  57. @74

    Yes. And Uggla’s gone, too. Which means their 300 combined plate appearances with a ~.500 OPS can be replaced. It is almost unimaginable that we won’t get better production in their stead. Which is another reason to have faith in the 2015 club.

  58. If I were Heyward, I’d take 7/105-120 if the Braves offered it, especially if the latter year or two came with a player option. That’s not to say he can’t do better–it’s just that I, like most people, am risk averse, and there’s no reason to assume Heyward is different. The marginal utility of another 40 million dollars when you’re a mega millionaire just isn’t that great.

    A fair case has been made by ryanc that he should gamble for the career year. And if he has a career year–something like a 8 WAR season and finishes top-5 in the MVP voting, he will be in-line for a 200 million dollar contract.

    On the other hand, Heyward’s 2015 could be more like his 2013. He’s had such long slumps in the last two years, that he runs the risk of another one dragging a little longer and maybe complicated by an injury so minor as an oblique or hamstring strain.

    Suddenly, he’s an oft-injured OF with 3 straight years of declining power numbers who you’re reluctant to go beyond 4 years betting that his speed/defense won’t decline. And if he had a disabling injury, he’d be left with someone taking a 1-year flyer on an incentive deal.

    I wouldn’t leave 120 mil on the table to chase an extra 80 when it is highly contingent on events beyond my control and its opportunity exists an extra year in the future.

  59. On today’s FA market, Heyward has been a 25/MM year player for his career, and that’s factoring in slumps, injuries, and ridiculously good defense. He’ll get 20 with a year like last year. He’ll get 22-25 with a year like 2013. He’ll get 15-17 with a year like 2011. A 20MM dollar/year deal is reasonable for Heyward.

  60. @78 Name one player with Heywards offensive profile that is earning 20 million dollars per year.

  61. @78
    So if Heyward manages 396 AB’s and hits .227 with 14 HR someone will throw a 100 million dollar contract at that? I mean, it’s not much different from what Frank Wren did to BJ Upton, but he was coming off a decent year with twice as many bombs.

    Well, I hope we don’t find out the answer bc that will mean we didn’t manage to extend Heyward and he had a bad year.

    I understand what you mean with your numbers, though–Heyward is a high WAR player, but not everyone is sold on dWAR. Andrelton Simmons was coming off a year worth $40million according to your 6 mil per win equation. We locked him up for nothing.

  62. @82
    Pre-arb and free agency aren’t comparable when discussing contracts. And actually I said if he were to have a year like he had in 2011, someone would throw him 15-17MM/year. If long enough, I guess that could equal 100MM, but that wasn’t my thinking.

    @80
    Elvis Andrus is much, much worse. But I’ll say this, the market is changing and defense is being rewarded. Heyward will make 100MM, whether it be with the Braves or without.

  63. @83 Andrus plays a premium infield position and doesn’t make 20 million per year. He is. Simmons light with OBP and BA. Turns out he may be the poster boy for why you don’t shell out north of 100 millon for a defender.

    Your assertions about Heyward being able to command a 20 million dollar per year contract are based on your devotion to WAR as the true authority on player worth. The market disagrees with you. There are no players making super star salaries who aren’t premium offensive talents.

    Heyward is a good player. Thats it. The Braves are right not to offer him 20 million per year. He is right not to settle for a low ball offer because he is young and has the potential to become an offensive force.

    @79 Wow. That line against lefties is as bad as a pitchers. automatic out.

  64. @85
    The market, on average, paid 6MM/win in 2014 for free agents, no matter how the players’ wins were collected. I disagree with your assessment, but will leave it at that. Only time will tell what Jason gets paid.

    And while we all know Frank Wren is gone, the Braves do factor WAR into their thinking process when signing contracts:

    “Most important, they had the players. After conducting a study, the Braves found their players 25 and under generated 18.2 wins above replacement, Wren said. The next highest was the Los Angeles Angels with 12 — and 11 came from Mike Trout. The Braves had more WAR from their under-25 players than the lowest 11 teams in the majors combined”.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/atlanta-braves-have-strong-young-core-under-contract-for-years-to-come/2014/03/03/611d9aa2-a2f8-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html

  65. Hope he gets his money before they figure out that corner outfielder WAR is just a big fat guess….

  66. @87
    Why do you say that? They factor range, arm, and paths to the ball just like CF. Not arguing here, merely wondering what’s your reasoning.

  67. An interesting note via Twitter yesterday…
    DOB reported that Peraza was playing in Winter Leagues. When I looked up the stats for our players in Winter Leagues, he wasn’t listed. I asked DOB why he wasn’t listed and he said that Peraza was injured, nothing serious. In the other responses to DOB, it sounds like the Braves are holding him back and he’s not very happy. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see what position Peraza plays this Winter. While it’s likely to be 2b/SS, I’d love to see him get reps in CF. He has the athletic ability to be our Ben Zobrist equivalent and that would be so refreshing.

  68. @88

    Lack of year-to-year reliability, insufficient attention to the dynamic between outfielders, but most of all that it’s situation-dependent instead of intrinsic — and since the quality and quantity of chances for a corner OF do not stabilize, the result is wild swings in value. This has been a frequent issue of discussion.

  69. @90
    Isn’t any position situation dependent? Andrelton’s DRS dropped 13 runs this year due to the Braves having more fly ball pitchers (and, of course, his ankle ailment) and Jason’s DRS increased in 2014, but the numbers suggest that Jason’s was merely the difference in chances and innings played.

    Data
    Balls in play in 2014 against the Braves: 3112
    Ground balls: 1425
    Fly balls: 1688

    Balls in play for 2014 against the Braves: 3064
    Ground Balls: 1307
    Fly balls: 1754

    Chances for Andrelton in 2013: 753
    Chances for Andrelton in 2014: 642

    Chances for Heyward in 2013 in RF (data factored to equal same amt of innings): 332
    Chances for Heyward in 2014 in RF: 375

    Heyward’s UZR/150 last 3 years: 21.6, 20.0, 20.5
    OOZ plays made last 2 years (if played same amount of innings): 127 and 122
    DRS last 2 years (if played equal amount of innings): 29 and 32
    Plays made (if played equal amount of innings): 247 and 244

    Jason’s numbers throughout a variety of measurement tools, even simple ones, look pretty stable if you ask me. WAR argument aside…

  70. You guys do your research. Kudos. Having said that, even if $20MM is the new $10MM, Jason needs to either get on base close to 40 percent of the time and play at least as much as he did last year, or he needs to increase his power numbers commensurately before the Braves shell out seven years/$140MM to him. Just my unscientific old fossil opinion, but Jason ain’t Mike Trout.

  71. Well, sure, but it’s WAR we’re talking about, and specifically the notion of contract dollars per WAR, so WAR is what’s on trial. Your other numbers serve to highlight the problem with WAR in particular — more intrinsic measures show him to be consistently excellent, which we know. But WAR factors in game situations — remember that by the middle of June, Heyward was on pace for 5-6 dWAR. That was because a particularly large number of balls were being hit to him in clutch situations, as was observed at the time. Those opportunities seemed to dry up a little later in the season, and his dWAR flattened out some. Now, he made all those plays, and so to the 2014 Atlanta Braves, I have little doubt that his defense was worth 3 wins. And if you could guarantee he’d get all those chances, and the type of chances, going forward then you’d pay him on that basis. But what if we had a 1B-2B combo with some defensive range, or a CF that didn’t accede to him? These are all factors that detract from the reliability of the dWAR of players who get comparatively few but highly variant chances. Brett Gardner, to pluck another example, has in my opinion been an overrated ballplayer for years because he’s been in LF behind Jeter, and been compared to some of his least athletic peers.

  72. I thought what people were talking about was Jason Heyward, and whether it was worth it to pay him what we think he wants. Whatever imperfections there are in the metrics — which are worth discussing — they probably don’t reflect the gap between what Heyward’s asking price is and what the Braves are willing to offer (because that gap is probably larger than the difference between current and perfect metrics). Nor do they likely reflect any gap between anybody’s perception of Heyward’s actual defensive value and the reality of that value, in any truly significant way.

    True, we don’t know what second base will look like, but we know enough about Freeman’s range. We can also surmise that we’re stuck with BJ, but who knows for how long. Pitcher health is what it is, but we know that Teheran generates lots of fly balls and Minor and Wood are average-ish in that regard. And there’s the dimensions of the new stadium, how negotiations are going with Justin Upton, plus everything everybody’s saying about Heyward’s health, his bat, his baserunning…

    All in all, my sense is there’s too much uncertainty not to pay him and pay him for his defense. We don’t know a lot of things, but we can be reasonably certain that we can build around his ability to prevent runs out there. The Braves will find a comparable player on all sides of the ball and try to lowball Heyward based on how front offices have underpaid defense historically. Heyward’s agent will argue based on whatever metrics make him look the best. Inside that range is something I’m sure I’d be comfortable paying. I hope they can come to an agreement that puts the franchise in position to succeed on and before 2017, but the whole thing is too murky without knowing which domino will fall after Santana.

  73. I agree — we should pay him many of the monies. Just explaining why, in his case, I don’t like using $$/WAR as a reference.

  74. This “everyone is coming back to the Braves because Wren is gone” business is a little ridiculous. The guy brought in his own people, and he had some success, but not enough, and he got canned. The former administration, which is still here, brought in their guy, and then decided to bring all previous people back. For all the garbage being said about Wren, there had better be a resurgence of scouting, drafting, and development pretty quickly. If Wren, his personnel choices, and prickly demeanor are the problems we have, then I look forward to seeing the next wave of Chipper Jones/Andruw Jones/Javy Lopez/John Smoltz/Rafael Furcal/John Rocker nucleus of a team that supposedly the former administration blessed us with.

  75. @84

    That’s voted by the fans from among all Gold Glove winners. Molina has now won it in three of the four years it’s been handed out. In retrospect, it’s a wonder that Simmons won it last year.

  76. @97- The success of the “old guard” isn’t so long ago as Chipper, Andruw and Javy. Brian McCann, Adam Laroche and Tommy Hanson came in to the organization under the “old guard.” So did Adam Wainwright, Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz.

    Even our current core became our property before Wren took over. That superb draft of June 2007 occured several months before Frank took over in October of 2007. That draft brought Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Craig Kimbrel. Throw in Julio Teheran (July of 2007) and Kris Medlen (2006), and the only contributors I can think of, acquired and developed under Wren’s people are Simmons, Gattis, and Wood. Minor and Beachy belong to Wren, too, but that was also before Roy Clark split, so they both get credit for those guys.

  77. And the guy that brought in Minor (and Heyward and Kimbrel) has been promoted internally.

  78. I really don’t understand why so many people are upset that folks who have a winning track record are returning to the organization.

  79. Our current farm sucks. There is no way to hide it. We favor drafting low ceiling/low risk pitchers and middle of the diamond/speed guys during the Wren years and I absolutely hated it. Wren is wonderful in trades and finding gems cheap but is also terrible in large money spendings. I think the last three can even out over the long term but having a strong farm is the key of sustainability. I believe this is what JS has been trying to tell everyone, and all the changes made in the front office has been on scouting and player development side of the business. Wren is gone and they are bringing in good people in this area, and I sure do hope there is a turn around in our farm system because it is in a very sorry state right now if you haven’t noticed. Our “top prospects” are all quite ordinary.

  80. @93

    I dunno what he’s asking. I’m not sure the front office knows what he’s asking–his quote the other day made it seem like talks this off-season haven’t begun yet.

    And I agree with everything Adam R wrote, especially the last part about seeing how the offer to Santana plays out.

  81. I mean, I understand the disappointment with the apparent smear campaign. That feels a little bit Red Soxy of our guys, but we don’t really know who is saying it.

    But as far as the results go, Wren made a few good trades. Maybe he should be an assistant GM for someone, pounding the phones and trying to piece deals together. But it’s pretty apparent, to me at least, that he shouldn’t be left anywhere near the checkbook. And whatever people he brought in on the development side, and whatever course the lot of them charted, it so far has proved to be pretty lousy, and much lousier than the work Roy Clark did here before he left, and lousier than the work Roy Clark apparently did while he was in Washington.

  82. @94
    According to the data I presented, if Heyward would have played the same amount of games in ’13, his defensive value would have essentially been the same that it was in 2012 and 2014, with small differences from less chances. I don’t see how that accentuates the problem. The defensive value would’ve been near identical 3 years in a row should Heyward have continued the same defensive production instead of breaking his face in 2013.

  83. @106

    What site are you looking at for dWAR? Every statistical category I’m seeing on Fangraphs show fairly consistent numbers, year to year, which combine for their defensive WAR grading putting special attention on UZR/150 and the +/- system.

  84. Ryan, you get paid for what you do, not what you might have done if you had managed to play more games. The fragility has to be baked into any potential Heyward contact as well.

  85. “Will the Braves trade Jose Constanza for Mike Trout?”

    Great string of articles, Ryan. Love your humor.

  86. New poll needs an other.

    ahem…

    some passable cf
    heyward rf
    justin lf
    gattis 1b
    hanley 3b
    lastella 2b
    simmons ss
    beth c

    just throwing out hanley, point is, lots of money left

  87. Heyward is worth whatever someone is willing to pay him. Per-win FA averages are just that – averages. We have no idea if there’s some rogue team out there willing to give him 25M per year. If that happens…good luck with your new team Jason.

  88. If we can only extend one of Jupton or Heyward and Jupton is the cheaper of the two, pull the trigger and make them take CJ. I doubt we’d get Mookie Betts, but I’d take a cheaper, controllable OF and the extra dough to spend.

  89. I would let them pick either for Betts and then trade the other one. I don’t see us locking up either one long term and I don’t want just a pick for them when they leave a year from now via FA.

  90. I do not want any part of Sandoval. His conditioning and performance vary from year to year — basically, you can basically predict how well he’ll hit from the weight that he shows up to spring training. He’s already 28 years old, and it is fairly likely that his body is going to start breaking down sooner rather than later. Just look at Prince Fielder, who is 30 and is a shell of his former self.

    I don’t think that there is any contract, any length of years, that Sandoval would plausibly accept that I would actually be okay with.

    I’d rather get Mike Olt, who doesn’t really fit in Chicago but could potentially be a reasonable platoon bat.

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