New Contest

The Hot Stove season is fueled by debate. Ideas are hashed and rehashed; beliefs are shared and argued and changed. Some fans thrive on the endless speculation, enjoying it more than the baseball season itself. Others just engage in it to pass the time and have a connection to baseball until the weather warms, the flowers bloom, and the crack of the bat signals winter’s over. Me? If Opening Day were tomorrow, I would not complain a bit. But I must let nature run its course and Hot Stovers have their day in the overcast wintery weather…I mean sun. The debates over roster construction, team goals, and contract extensions have been cooking for awhile across baseball. Many valid points have been made and argued and many more will be made and argued over the next three months. Such is the life of a baseball fan during the offseason.

That Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in the world and that Braves fans have been lucky enough to witness some incomparable plays he has made is not a point against which anyone can argue (wow, proper grammar can be awkward). Just 2+ seasons into his career, he has taken all of the suspense out of shortstop defensive awards. The man is insane.

However, there is one point surrounding Simmons’s defense that is debatable, and that is a point that Braves Journal is going to settle once and for all over this offseason: Which of Simmons’s jaw-dropping plays is his best?

To determine this answer with a throwback to Mac’s famous Road from Bristol, we’re going to follow the tried and true bracket method and the rules Mac laid out:

  • Vote for the play you think is the best of the two in the comments to the appropriate entry.
  • One person, one vote.
  • Posts shall remain active for at least 48 hours, at which time I will call the winner and close comments.
  • Other comments are welcome.
  • If a contest is close, I may send it to overtime. Contests may also remain up longer for weekends and holidays.
  • I am the sole judge.

While I could easily find 64 plays that are deserving of nomination for such a contest, for the sake of time we are only going to go with 32. I’ll do the initial condensing to get to those 32, but this is a democracy and I want everyone to have a voice.

Therefore, in this thread, please nominate any plays you would like to see in the contest, and include a video link if possible (so I can make sure I get the right play…and to save me the trouble of having to track down a video myself!) Also, such a contest is deserving of its own name, and my creative juices are just not flowing right now. If you come up with a catchy title, please share.

The grind of the baseball season can sometimes make it difficult to enjoy brilliance in the moment, so let’s take advantage of the lull of the offseason and bask in some highlights of outstanding defense. Come Spring Training the winner will be crowned and we will have permanently settled the issue of Simmons’s best play…at least until he makes his next one on Opening Day.


241 thoughts on “New Contest”

  1. Thank you, ‘Rissa, for reminding me how much I love Andrelton Simmons. What a highlight reel!

    I’m still studying the choices, but the between the legs tag is hard to beat. The unbelievable throws happen so frequently that they’re almost ho-hum.

  2. My top pick is probably the double play against the Nats (bonus points) where he makes the sideways throw running toward right off the wrong foot.

    The play where he’s running to cover the bag and dives back to grab a ground ball and then dives the other way to tag the base has got to be top 3. I honestly believe if he cleanly transfers the ball he gets the double play…in which I think it would have been the greatest play of all time.

  3. Oh and here’s a name idea:

    the Prosciutto.

    Because it’s wonderful and it’s what you get when you cure a sow.

  4. Well it’s Saturday morning and I got called in to work overtime, so hell if I’m not going to give it my all here on Braves Journal.

    I have a trade idea:

    Justin Upton
    Chris Johnson
    Jordan Walden


    Brett Lawrie
    R.A. Dickey

    The best part of this trade is that Toronto would probably have to run a Johnson/Fat Juan platoon, which, if it actually does happen a second time, we should all be forced to refer to as a single player named Fats Juanson

  5. The two that immediately popped to mind:

    The DP against the Nats, when the Braves were using the Wheel Play on a bunt and the Nats pitcher chopped one up the middle and Simba stopped, ran to field the ball at 2nd, then threw off the wrong foot to complete the DP. (It’s in the highlight reel).

    And the behind the back catch and throw in Pittsburgh, even if he didn’t get his man. That really was a second baseman’s ball. .

  6. Such a fun idea!

    I don’t know that I’d actually vote for the Dee Gordon tag play, but perhaps it merits consideration just for having spawned ?w=1000″ rel=”nofollow”>the greatest gif of all time.

  7. It’s off the (wonderful) topic of the thread, but how do you get two kicks blocked, either one of which woudl’ve basically iced the game? Rough way for Muschamp to go out, especially given how the team actually looked pretty solid these past few games. That was three SEC games in a row where Florida clearly looked like the best team on the field each game. Seems like ages since I’ve seen that. By itself, it’d just be a devastating loss. But you combine it with the past season and a half, and it’s the final nail. I don’t even care if he upsets FSU. (Spoiler: He won’t.)

    Back on topic, my favorite Simmons play is the one where he’s diving to his right at some ball that he shouldn’t even be bothering with, except he’s him, so he does, and he gets to it, stops on a dime, and fires a strike to Freeman to record the out.

  8. Hart must think Peraza is ready

    @MDGonzales: Cubs acquired INF Tommy La Stella and ATL’s No. 4 international signing bonus slot for RHP Arodys Vizcaino and 3 int. signing bonus slots

  9. @mlbbowman: The #Braves will net approximately $830,000 in international bonus pol funds with this trade

  10. I guess it’s fine, but I generally hate it when we get players that we’ve already had back. It makes it seem like we’re out of ideas. Was there not another player we could’ve gotten that we hadn’t already gotten rid of?

  11. This is upsetting to me in that I need Javier Baez to get playing time for fantasy purposes.

    Selling high would’ve been trading La Stella at this time last year.

    OK, scouting maestros, time to see what you got.

  12. DOB saying braves will pursue a vet on a 1yr deal as a stopgap to Peraza, but Peraza would be getting a strong look in ST. I guess Uggla could fit that profile….

  13. I don’t see how trading La Stella necessarily suggests punting 2015. We’ve still got Gosselin and, apparently, are looking to sign a vet, and it’s not like La Stella did very much, in the end.

  14. Does getting Vizcaino back allow us to move Walden? I haven’t kept up with him since we traded him. I guess that would also free up about $2m in salary if we traded Walden.

  15. @33 Yes.

    La Stella had potential to be a good stick that could compliment this club but the Braves chose to give up on him for a lesser hitter such as Gosselin. Trading him without fully seeing what he could do is, in my opinion, foolish. I believe La Stella will be a good major leaguer and I don’t like the trade.

  16. The int’l bonus slots and extra 825K have little to do with the Braves going after Moncada.

    One thing is for sure: the Braves will be trading a RH reliever or 2 this offseason. Personally, I’d trade Walden AND Varvaro.

  17. @36, I was just listening to a podcast describing how all of our “heavy-hitter” scouts were in attendance for Moncada’s little exhibition.

    Come on, old guard, make a big splash.

  18. @30

    I don’t know. I had begun to think that keeping La Stella could mean punting on 2015. He can’t play second. It’s up in the air whether he can hit. He can work a count, but without those other two skills he’s not a solution.

    How many 16-year old prospects does $830,000 buy?

  19. I’m not saying we won’t go after Moncada, merely saying the two (trade and scout presence) don’t necessarily coincide.

  20. I thought LaStella could play 2b too. I’m perplexed as I don’t think Gosselin is the answer and Peraza definitely needs more time in the minors. So add a journeyman 2b to the needs list.
    It’s as if the Braves wanted the international signing slots and Vizcaino is a throw in.

  21. @DOBrienAJC: #Braves got another $830K to pursue international free agent. Look for that to go toward younger Dominican and Venezuela types for now

    @DOBrienAJC: wouldn’t expect #Braves to pursue big-ticket Cuban free agents right now. But they figure to get involved in those pursuits in future.

  22. Moncada is considered an Amateur International Free Agent, meaning he’s tied to the bonus pools. Most teams bonus allotments range from $2-$5m. If Moncada signs for $40m, that means that the majority of his bonus will be susceptible to a 100% overage tax, making his $40m bonus cost $75-80m. The Braves are not signing an amateur player for $80m.

    Instead of signing 15 kids out of the Domincan and Venezuela etc, they are going to sign 25.

  23. According to Cot’s, Shelby Miller has 2.030 years of service time. So he’ll be team-controlled for quite a while. A couple of years ago, he and Julio Teheran were basically 1-2 in pitching prospects in baseball. He’s one hell of a get for a one-year rental.

    I miss Heyward, but this looks like a really strong trade.

    … unless, of course, in this new era, pitching is so fungible and hitting is so impossible to find that stockpiling good young pitching is no longer a sufficient strategy. I find that hard to believe, though.

  24. There was a lot of talk this past year that Miller may be broken, though. He sure doesn’t strike as many guys out as he used to or as it looks like he should.

    Guess I’ll have to trust the scouts and Roger McDowell on this one.

    Sad about Heyward, but this was a foregone conclusion. Still, watching him sign a huge deal to stay and star in St. Louis for the next decade is going to suck.

  25. This was inevitable the minute Florida started floating 30+ per for Stanton. If Mike Stanton is a 30m per year player, Jason Heyward is a 23-26m per year player, and that’s not going to happen in Atlanta. You trade him for cost controlled options. Sucks, but that’s the way the money lands.

  26. Was it a forgone conclusion that Jason was a one year rental?

    Shelby Miller’s K/9 have gone from 10.54 to 8.78 to 6.25 in the past three years. Opponents AVG, OBP and SLG have gone up every year. WHIP and ERA heading in the wrong direction every year. I’ll grant you a small sample size in ’12, but the stats are troubling.

  27. One other thought – you ain’t gonna fill seats in SunTrust Stadium unless it’s quarter beer night. Constanza and Chris Johnson aren’t marquee names.

  28. #64

    Doesn’t Miller lack an arsenal of pitches? I seem to remember hearing that he was working on a curveball, but I don’t think he really has much else. Besides the fastball, of course.

  29. The Cards extend him. Atlanta wasn’t going to pay him what he is going to command. It’s like the McCann situation. We knew going in he was priced out of the Braves’ market.

  30. This is a good return for Heyward. However, I now have to pick a favorite player. Payroll commitment drops about 9MM. There’s room to go get an ace if the Braves want one.

  31. Also including Walden and getting back zero legitimate prospects makes this a bit of a headscratcher for me. If we were a team playing for 2015 that had an MLB-ready outfielder as a replacement and plenty of other power arms in the pen but had a glaring hole in the rotation, I’d agree with Alex that this a really good trade. But as it is we’ve given up two valuable trading chips without doing anything to restock the barren cupboards. If Miller turns out to be damaged goods…

    This whole offseason can be explained by the simple fact that Hart and Schuerholz went to Liberty Media with hats in hand and were told to get the fuck out.

  32. Yeah, i don’t get Walden going too, it seems we gave up a lot for Shelby Miller.
    I hope this is a precursor for another move that will make the team better now, like a LF or a true 2b.
    Yasmony Tomas?

  33. @75. I don’t know. He’s lighting up the AFL, but he’s 22 years old, has never pitched above high A, never dominated at any level and never pitched more than 83 innings due to persistent shoulder problems.

  34. Jordan Walden is a frequently injured setup man. I liked him too, but you don’t let him hold up a deal. He’s pitched 60 innings in a season exactly once in his career — and that was in 2011, and he pitched 60 1/3.

    Shelby Miller goes through these phases. People were worried that he was broken in 2012 when he had a horrible first half. Then he was great in the second half and great in 2013. His velocity appears to be fine. If anything, we’re buying low.

  35. @68 – $9 million might get you a #3 starter. Unless you’re accounting for some additional funds I don’t see where the money to get an ace comes from.

  36. Teheran

    That is a good young core of pitching. Hale, Medlen, Beachy some old guys as your 5? We may not need to score many runs to win 90 games.

  37. 83- Gattis was, much as I love him, the guy it would have made the most sense to trade first. His position (the one he can actually play, not the one he’ll humiliate himself playing) is one where we have depth. Are there going to be any affordable OFs that don’t stink on ice?

  38. I have to say I’m in shock. Whatever you have to say about Jason, he plays the game the way (I think) it should be played. I remember watching a game this year, there was an inning ending play that BJ participated in. Heyward tried to talk to him about the play and BJ just blew him off. Jason had a WTF? look on his face. So I see this as removing quality, while keeping the dregs. Sorry, we’re moving in reverse.

  39. Tough to give up someone so young and talented but four years of Miller for one year of Heyward seems pretty good to me.

  40. However, I now have to pick a favorite player.

    I would suggest Simba or Julio. Me, personally, I’m a Julio man. Sucks to see Jason go, but this is a solid trade for this team, at this time, with these needs. I would like to seem them follow up with JUpton and Gattis as well. Even Kimbrel if the return is there. Don’t pretend you’re not rebuilding when you’re rebuilding. Do the damned thing you have to do, even if it sucks.

  41. If Roy Clark likes Miller as a rebound case, I’ll go along with him until proven otherwise.

  42. @80
    Payroll dropping 9MM gives the Braves about 24MM to work with after guaranteed contracts, arb-eligible estimates, and pre-arb players. That’s plenty to get an ace.

  43. Sam’s right, if Giancarlo is getting 30+ than Jason has to command 20+ and that’s not gonna happen with this team.

  44. If the Braves plan is to hope Miller turns into an ace then they aren’t really rebuilding. They are trying to compete with pitching. Because so far they’ve done nothing to rebuild the hitting pipeline.

  45. I’m sorry for Edward, but this is a pretty great deal.

    One year of Heyward and Walden at $3 mil? We’re fortunate to get a mix of years of control AND upside in Shelby Miller. We don’t need Miller to perform like an ace either. AND on top of all that, we get $9 mil to spend elsewhere.

    Doesn’t mean it’ll pan out, but this is a good start for the new/old regime.

  46. The Braves have traded La Stella, Heyward, and Walden for Arodyz Vizcaino, our new #4 prospect, Tyrell Jenkins (likely our #4 prospect), 3 international slots (with 825K bonus money)of which the Braves will turn into 3 farm players, and Shelby Miller.

    Not a bad start to replenishing the system. Furthermore, I don’t think this is sacrificing 2015 quite yet.

  47. Why are people talking about getting an ace? Or whether or not Miller is or can be one? It’s irrelevant. We have pitching.

    People are also acting like it’s possible to fix the whole team in one fell swoop. Hold off with the Constanza talk, while we prepare to pillage the international market.

  48. Understand the trade, gives us another quality young arm in the rotation.

    Just doesn’t look like we will have many players on the team that know which end of the bat to hold when hitting.

    Apparently there are more big moves to make.

  49. Even though I knew this was coming the reality is still kind of a shock. We needed pitching so on paper this seems like a decent outcome. There’s now enough money freed up to make at least one big signing if we’re so inclined. Will be interesting to see how that money gets used.

  50. Why are people talking about getting an ace? Or whether or not Miller is or can be one? It’s irrelevant. We have pitching.

    Thing is, well, no. We don’t. We don’t have pitching. We have three pitchers; Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Mike Minor. After that, we have David fucking Hale and Pickles Schlosser. We have Lucas Sims struggling in AA, and a flyer on Jason Hursh maybe becoming Shelby Miller’s downside if it pans out. We. Do. Not. Have. Pitching.

    We don’t have pitching. We don’t have hitting. We have an all-glove, super special defender at SS, a top of the rotation starter in Teheran, and Freddie Freeman. Other than that, our future was “hope Jason Heyward gives us a hometown discount.”

  51. @95 – I follow you now. Sign anybody but James Shields, Edninson Volquez or Ryan Vogelsong and I’m on board. Those are my pitching landmines to avoid.

  52. Fine. If we’re not trying to compete this year anyway, we have enough pitching.

    Or: We have ace pitching.


    (We also have Alex Wood…it’s not unfathomable that Teheran has quite a good year next season and also that Wood outperforms him still.)

  53. @107 and 108 – I agree. Eff the Braves. Trading my absolute favorite Brave ever to my absolute most hated team seems like a personal affront. Giving the finger to my city and my south metro also seems like a personal affront, come to think of it. So, eff the Braves. They’ll have one hell of a bench full of pitchers with arms in casts with which to open up their new shopping mall in ’17.

  54. I don’t hate the Cardinals, and they did have their stud RF die tragically, so I guess if I watch Jason Heyward play in another uni, it’s ok that it’s them. Would’ve been hell to watch him play for the phils or nats or yankees or dodgers. It still hurts, though, almost as much as when I watched him get hit in the face with a pitch. I feel like things could’ve been different if that pitch didn’t shatter his jaw in 2013. He was starting to rake; we were starting to score runs. Maybe we’d have felt more confident about paying him.

    My favorite Brave was Martin Prado, and then it was Jason Heyward. I really liked Tommy LaStella, too. Not only have my favorite players been traded away, but we traded the only 2 guys who could take a walk last year (OK, freeman and upton can too). I guess the strategy is to lead the league in out-rate. We will truly be a team full of hackers now, especially if peraza makes the squad. Imagine starting pitchers breezing through our lineup 3 times on 75 pitches.

  55. And another thing: I hate this Vizcaino trade. Hate it. I only vaguely understand these international bonus pools, but I hope that turns into a player that will make me not hate the Vizcaino trade. The guy had to miss 2 years. He can’t pitch. He throws. Hard. But he doesn’t know how to pitch. LaStella had something to teach the rest of our hackers.

  56. If Heyward had signed elsewhere (and he would have) would it have been “just good business” for him? Because it can’t be business for one half of the equation but evil for the other half.

  57. If you don’t believe you can extend Heyward, trading him is the right move even if you plan to compete in 2015. You don’t let him walk for nothing. This is the kind of move good teams make.

    OTOH, feels.

  58. The Vizcaino trade makes tons more sense now. They were backfilling because they new Walden was out the door to STL.

  59. It’s such a shame that the Braves are obligated by the rules to field exactly this team, right now, in this moment, as it is currently constituted, at the start of the 2015 season…

    Look, can the whining commence if we haven’t addressed the offense by, like, the end of January? It’s already tiresome.

  60. Edward and Pete, would you have rather just seen Heyward play in Atl one more season and then walk via FA?

    Its the same thing with Justin Upton. Move him and Gattis now. We have no pitching, no offense, no bench, and the 3rd worst farm system in baseball. You can thank Wren for the level of suck in the farm system and the bad contracts. Either way we aren’t in a position where we can pay Jason Heyward $25m per season. Too many holes to fill.

    And if for whatever reason we can, we still have the ability to get into the picture when he hits FA a year from now. People aren’t taking discounts in Atlanta anymore. Fredi G isn’t Bobby Cox.

  61. I’ll back out for a while just saying “read @116 over and over again.” It’s the truth of the truth.

  62. I don’t like paying for pitching with hitting, especially on this team which was the worst dumpster fire of an offense I’ve ever seen. In 2014 it’s not hard to find people to get outs, we just spent a whole season with Aaron Harang throwing 180 innings and some guy named Corey Kluber won the Cy Young. Finding productive hitters on the other hand seems nigh impossible for this team, so how it works that we trade a 6 WAR hitter for a Young Arm With Potential doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s November, we couldn’t wait the market out and find some hitting somewhere if we were gonna trade our best chip?

  63. @119 – Well, yes, absolutely. That would’ve been a 20% extension of his time in Atlanta. If they don’t go on to trade JUpton as well, and it turns out that he walks in FA for nothing, and they could’ve traded him instead of Heyward, then I’m way, way done with this team.

  64. @118, @120, you make very reasonable points. It made total sense to trade Jason Heyward. It just sucks. Bad. Some fans are grieving. It’s a process. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Let them go through it. I was already in the depression phase after watching us set records for futility in September.

  65. @122, that’s a great point. Commentators have been commentating on that very thing. Bats are scarce.

  66. @126 – I made it through to anger in record time, and I think convincing myself that they’ll resign him as a FA is sort of like bargaining, right? Pretty sure I’m going to make it to to depression fast and then camp out for a while though.

  67. A cost controlled 24 year old pitcher for a light hitting high potential RF that you couldn’t come to a long term contract with. Throw in an injury prone set up man and and get a high ceiling athletic pitcher in return. Good trade for the Braves. Now St. Louis has the quandary. Pay 25 now and hope he starts to hit better or if he doesn’t, rent him for a year and let the market decide how much defense heavy WAR is worth.

    The team can still compete in 2015. But if they trade JUpton we are officially in rebuilding mode.

  68. @128, lol, yes that is bargaining. I am doing the same.

    Honestly, if we sign Jason Heyward in 2015, this will be the best trade in Braves history.

  69. For me, the best thing about watching sports is filtering my enjoyment of watching great athletes perform through my knowledge of everyone’s contract status.

  70. @133 – My favorite part of watching Heyward’s career in person was taking joy in the team’s ever-decreasing financial obligation to him. The team doesn’t owe him anything anymore! Hooray!

  71. I wrote this last week over at Tomahawk Take. I’m getting a bit better at my trade scenarios :)

    Trading Jason Heyward- A defensive force, and an offensive breakout candidate every year, Heyward’s value is peaking as defense has never been measured so highly. Trade value? He’ll likely cost one of the following packages:

    A. 2-3 Top 10 prospects

    B. 1 elite prospect

    C. Front-line starting pitcher under control for 1 year,

    D. A #2-3 starter under control for 2-3 years.

    I’d say we got D in this scenario, but 3-4 years due to the inconsistencies of Miller.

    And this about a month ago…

    What could the Atlanta Braves get for Walden?
    This is difficult as Walden, by himself, would likely only bring back 1 top-10 prospect and maybe a fringe prospect to boot.

    After his 2014 numbers and his AFL performance, Tyrell might’ve been knocking at the Top-10 for STL, but will most definitely be knocking at the Braves’ Top-10.

  72. They traded a guy that hit the whopping total of 11 home runs last year, couldn’t hit lefties if it was me, and, as someone noted, wears out the grass between first and second. Great outfielder and baserunner, no doubt, but he’s really a luxury on a team like this. He’s a valuable player but not worth what he is going to want.

    I think Heyward will do well in St. Louis because there are other guys that can actually hit and they don’t need him to do more than get on base and play great defense.

    I remember when Eddie Mathews, my favorite player, was traded by the Braves in 1967 and I got very upset. Of course, I was 11.

  73. 72 million committed, according to newly updated Cots. Factor in arb-eligibles, moves that number up to 81 (10 players). Add 12 or so players pre-arb and that brings the total up to 88 million. The numbers do not include Venters, Medlen, Beachy, or Pena, but do include the following:

    Position Players: Evan Gattis, Christian Bethancourt, Freddie Freeman, Jose Peraza, Andrelton Simmons, Chris Johnson, Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Phil Gosselin, Zoilo Almonte

    Starting Pitchers: Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Minor, Shelby Miller

    Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel, Shae Simmons, David Carpenter, James Russell, Chasen Shreve, Anthony Varvaro, Arodys Vizcaino

    88 million for 21 players with a SP slot, RF slot, and 2 bench slots available. That leaves 22-30 million to spend. There’s still money to build a competitive club.

    Let’s make the Uptons our next moves.

  74. Buster Olney is speculating that Justin Upton should be next. His proposal? J.Upton for Taijuan Walker. Yes, please! Now imagine getting a pitcher like that and adding another 15MM to that number listed above.

  75. These next few months will be a test of Ryan, Edward, et al’s notion that Heyward is a super star right now, as is. The Cards are one of the more enlightened franchises in baseball. It will be interesting to see if they offer a 20 + million dollar contract to him.

  76. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one problem with dWAR for corner outfielders that the players are compared to their peers defensively? That is, if Jason Heyward played CF, he wouldn’t have as high a dWAR and if BJ Upton played LF or RF, he’d have a higher dWAR?

    Another way of saying this is that a replacement CF is expected to play adequate defense for CF, which is a higher threshold than adequate defense for the replacement LF/RF.

  77. If we were to stop talking about dWAR in every other thread then this trade would be a success in my book.

  78. If we can free up Justin’s salary and get Taijuan Walker you do that immediately. As Ryan mentioned above, that would give us close to $40m to spend on FA’s. Then imagine the possibilities if we could move Gattis and BJ in the same deal to an AL club. We’d have a rotation built and close to $55-60M to spend on rebuilding the OF and bench.


    Sure, why not.

  79. It may have been a better time to be a fan when there was a reserve clause. Players either stuck around with the same team because they were good, or got kicked to the curb because they were bums. If a guy was really good, a team could just keep him around forever.

    It sort of sucked for the players, but it was awfully good for the fans.

  80. So the Braves trade away one of the best defensive RFs out there after hiring a hitting coach who was becoming renowned for getting players to use all the fields, now they’re talking about sending the only protection for Freddie Freeman to Seattle, and still retain the Lesser Upton and Chris Johnson??

    There’s not going to be a big bat which wants to come and lose 95 times a year when only getting 3 ABs a game.

    Kimbrel won’t get any work when the Braves are consistently losing 2-0. So what the rotation can have all of these arms, but there is very little offense to build around. Yikes.

  81. @146, csg

    I like having all this money to spend, and I’d do flips if we got T Walker for JUpton, but whom would we spend it on? For one, I don’t want to give up our #15 draft pick, and for two, none of the position players that don’t require compensation look that appealing. I’m hoping we sign Aoki to a 2 year deal, but that’s not very exciting.

  82. @152, imagine if we resign Bonifacio and sign Aoki after an Upton trade and a gattis trade for prospects. We could run this out there:

    BJ Upton

    I’m sure other deals would be made, but that offense would set records and not the good kind

  83. The Marlins are about to spend $325 million on their own player, and the Braves are having a fire-sale.


  84. The Marlins don’t have the fan interest to be competitive in a sustainable matter. I’m not sure they did the wrong thing given their position.

  85. Hart on Heyward….

    “He wanted a two-year deal and wasn’t interested in a long-term extension unless the dollars were maybe beyond where the club certainly wanted to go. We had a strong feeling he was going to go on the market. That’s what he wanted to do. We wanted to protect ourselves and position ourselves better. If we elect, next year, to be one of 30 [teams] that compete for Jason on the market then that’s what we’ll do.”

  86. I know it eliminates the whole point but…

    Is the difference between Beth’s ability to play catcher and Gattis’s greater than the difference between Beth’s ability to play left and Gattis’s?

  87. Yeah I read one of DOB’s posts today, and he invoked the Wainwright-Drew trade and warned that this may be another one…

    Does DOB remember who was on which side of that trade? We GOT a 1-year RF and gave AWAY a well-thought-of pitching prospect and we’re still regretting it a decade later. This time is US getting the pitching prospect in exchange for our soon-to-be-leaving RF.

  88. I don’t read dob anymore. Anyone here has a better baseball mind than the guy who is actually being paid for what he does with the braves.

  89. It’s probably unwise to hype up Shelby Miller as Wainwright 2.0, if that’s what DOB was doing.

    This is a very good deal for the Braves if Miller is just an average arm for the next four seasons — unless Heyward suffers some catastrophe next year that causes him to be way undervalued heading into FA and then he has his breakout at last in 2016 on a contract that the Braves could’ve afforded after all, or something unforeseeable and crazy like that.

  90. Flying from ATL to STL this evening for a work trip. No signs of Heyward or Walden from seat 38B.

  91. @168
    Then why was it inevitable for him to have left?
    I dunno, I sort of think the Braves can come up with average pitchers without ridding themselves of their best position players.

  92. Obviously wainright is a special talent, but it’s worth pointing out that he didn’t have his first 3 bWAR season until he was 27. Miller is 24 and already has had 2. He will not likely become Wainright, but he certainly has started out better.

  93. I don’t hate the move and got the clear sense that Heyward was going to be moved. But seeing him wear Cardinals red will suck for the 3-4 years that they extend him.

  94. I dunno, I sort of think the Braves can come up with average pitchers without ridding themselves of their best position players.

    It sounds bad until you remember it’s as many as four years of average for as much as one year of great.

  95. Then why was it inevitable for him to have left?

    Because the Braves are not in a situation where they can chance him leaving without compensation back. It’s a simple question, when you remove the fan-based emotion; did we get back more talent than we would have likely gotten from the draft after he turned down our QO?

  96. We aren’t tearing down a championship team. We are moving parts from a team that just won less than 80 games.

  97. @174 Nitkowski ignores the fact that Ellsbury is a CF.

    @160 Seems to contradict what Heyward is tweeting, that he wanted to stay long term.

    Well if we are going to rebuild, lets do it right and get some players for jupton.

  98. I don’t see why the Mariners would deal us Taijuan Walker for JUpton. Likelier that we get a more post-hype-y position player with less team control, right?

  99. IF you believe Heyward when he says that he wanted to negotiate an extension, then his open market value isn’t relevant to the discussion. There would’ve been no other bidders to inflate the price had the front office approached him about an extension, and they apparently just never did it. I don’t get how you don’t even have the conversation unless you really just don’t want the guy at all. Did they really just not want him?

  100. Why is it impossible to reconcile the two truths that “Jason Heyward wanted to stay in Atlanta,” with “Jason Heyward wants to get 8 years and $180m on his next contract.”

    Of course he wanted to stay. He also wanted to get paid. We can argue whether or not we should have given him what he wanted, but the fact that he “wanted to stay” doesn’t mean he wanted to stay at any cost.

    Here’s DOB’s Adam Wainwright trade reference:

    “There’s no question that Hart knows what he’s doing. At the same time, Braves fans have agonized for nearly a decade over the sight of Adam Wainwright, the farmhand sent to the Cardinals for a year’s rental of J.D. Drew, dominating hitters. Imagine the angst if Atlanta’s own Jason Heyward lands in St. Louis and becomes the next Stan Musial — and he might.”

    First- we traded Wainwright knowing he would belong to his new team for 6 years minimum and the guy we’d get would belong to us for 1 year minimum. This time, we are in the EXACT OPPOSITE POSITION. That we couldn’t extend Drew and that the Cards might extend Jason has nothing to do with the trade. The Cards knew they weren’t going to extend Drew, and we knew that we weren’t going to extend Jason. That the Cards got Wainwright and we got something less, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have made THIS trade.

    Second- Jason wasn’t going to be a Brave in 2016. So if he becomes Stan Musial, the sin isn’t having traded him, the sin is still going to be having invested Jason Heyward’s money in BJ Upton. Jason was headed out of town long before we traded him.

  101. @181- I’m sorry, that’s Mark Bradley, I just got to it from DOB’s Twitter feed.

    Regardless, point still stands. These trades have a lot in common, except that, you know, they’re reversed.

  102. the sin is still going to be having invested Jason Heyward’s money in BJ Upton

    mixing some hindsight and wish casting, but can’t argue too much with that one.

  103. Free agent prices are massive because multiple teams are bidding against each other. The free agent price is pretty much automatically higher than the price of an extension. Of course players know this, and so most extensions go to players who place a high value on remaining with their team. I’m not saying that Heyward would’ve taken a 50% cut to stay in Atlanta, but based on his comments today it certainly sounded very convincingly like he wanted to stay with his team. Thus the free market cost most likely isn’t what Atlanta would’ve paid him to stay. Also, even if it was, Heyward’s comments make it sound very clearly like the team never even asked which is the much more upsetting point, at this point in the really shitty horrible day.

  104. Heyward wanted to stay.
    Heyward wanted 20m per year.
    The Braves wanted Heyward.
    The Braves can’t afford him at 20m per.

    All four statements are likely true. There doesn’t havd to be a “bad guy.”

  105. @185 That’s terrible :-(

    If I was still a kid, I for sure would have cried today, my favorite player having been traded away. I think the chances are pretty good that this will look like a good trade down the road, but for now I’m just very sad that Jason Heyward is no longer a Brave.
    Come to think of it, I never had my favorite player traded away. It made me think of my favorite players of the past and when they left. Ron Gant was one of my favorites. When he had to leave, it was just weird, with the accident and all that. I also thought of the Justice trade this morning. At that time, I guess I called Maddux and Chipper my favorites, but I liked him a lot too (however, I remember numbing myself by thinking “Wow, Kenny Lofton!” at the time, but that’s another story). When Maddux left (I know it wasn’t a trade) it was actually okay, he was beyond his prime and it was a nice story, returning to Chicago and all that. As for Chipper, it feels like one got spoiled having a player like that on your team literally forever. I guess a part of me still felt Heywards career could be the next such fairy tale story. It sure will be tough to watch him in another uniform.

  106. Anyone else think this opens up the possibility of revisiting the Cubs trade? (Minor and BJ for Jackson) Seems like we would’ve wanted to have another solid starter before shedding Minor and now we have that.

  107. @171 “Miller is 24 and already has had 2 [seasons of 3+ WAR]”

    This is not true at all. In 2012 he made one spot start and pitched in 5 relief outings. Cup of coffee.

    In 2013 he pitched a pretty good 173 innings. He was worth 3.5 WAR according to baseball-reference and 2.2 WAR according to Fangraphs. He struck out just under three times as many batters as he walked.

    In 2014 he pitched 183 mediocre innings in which he struck out 127 batters and walked 73, which is as poor a performance as it sounds. Baseball Reference said he was worth 1.6 WAR and Fangraphs clocked him at 0.2.

    I’d say he’s our fourth-best starting pitcher next year, but he only ranks so high because we only have 4 starting pitchers lined up so far. He could project as a number 2 guy if we trade Julio and Wood before the season begins, so there’s some hope for him yet.

    Good thing we traded Jason Heyward.

  108. And I’m tired of listening to this market-this and contract-that talk because that’s how everyone was rationalizing the BJ Upton deal when it happened. Oh, look, we got him at or just below market value. We didn’t have to over-pay someone else. How responsible of us!

    Talent comes first. Stop ignoring the talent.

  109. Anyway I’m still pretty upset.

    Good thing we’ve got Craig Kimbrel to console Arodys Vizcaino after he coughs up all of Shelby Miller’s tenuous 7-5 leads in the fifth inning.

  110. @mlbbowman: The #Braves are definitely not done moving some of their guys. J-Up and Gattis might both be traded at some point this winter.

  111. @191, Ed, I’ve been against the trade here if you haven’t noticed. I misread Shelby’s stats, but it’s immaterial. I’m not rationalizing the trade in any case.

    I came home looking dead one day last year. My wife asked me what had happened and I said “Heyward got hit in the face”. Ditto last night. “Heyward got traded”.

    “Good thing we’ve got Craig Kimbrel to console Arodys Vizcaino after he coughs up all of Shelby Miller’s tenuous 7-5 leads in the fifth inning.”

    Silly Ed, we’re never scoring 7 runs in 2015.

    But seriously, I want to say one more time that I hate the vizcaino trade. There’s a reason Theo coveted Lastella. He can get on base and not strike out.

  112. @Speaking of the Lofton trade (and let’s never speak of it again), if this works out for us like that trade did for the Indians, it will be a great trade (Lofton signed with the Indians the next season and played 3 years beside Justice in the outfield. This was one of many desperate trades by Schuerholz that dismantled our dynasty)

  113. @190, If we can move Upton without giving up Minor, I’m for it, but we’ve lost the incentive to clear salary, in my opinion. The thing is, we’re not going to be over-budget next year barring a radical series of moves. Might as well try to get a .240/.300/.400 season out of BJ one more time so that he becomes moveable again. I like Minor to bounce back and have a league-average year (of course with our offense that will be a 5-12 record). I hate the idea of selling low on him.

    I think we should’ve tried to move BJ in the Lastella trade if at all. We got fleeced on that one. I’d be surprised if Vizcaino becomes a decent reliever for us.

  114. Hey guys, at least the Braves front office is a great place to work now! That’s the important thing. That and saving Liberty Media as much money as possible. I’m thrilled for everyone, personally.

  115. Hart and co. must not have been confident in LaStella’s ability to make an adjustment to the league’s adjustment to him. Because if he turns into Jeff Treadway, it’s a real fleecing by the Cubs.

  116. The really exciting part of all this is we get to watch Shelby Miller turn into the pitching parallel to Chris Johnson, another affordable player under our control.

  117. We had ~$100K in international slot money this year, and now we have ~$930K. Vizcaino may work, or he may not, but I don’t think he was the primary acquisition in that deal.

  118. Let’s just collect a bunch of pitchers and then we won’t need to score runs.

    @201, we should really look to extend Chris Johnson now that he’s had a bad season instead of right after his career year like we did earlier this year

  119. @200,
    Peraza is a better prospect, no doubt, but Peraza can play any position on the field, including third and CF, where we currently have 2 of the absolute worst players in baseball.

    OK good point, but most prospects don’t work out, and Lastella looked like an average 2b to me. We need average players at lots of positions.

  120. I’m glad we’ve already forecasted that Vizcaino’s gonna suck, La Stella’s going to reach his ceiling, the Heyward trade is the next Lofton trade, etc. Sure does save a lot of time waiting for reality to play out!

    It feels like Hart is trying so hard to make it unclear as to whether we’re still trying to contend or rebuilding that it’s actually crystal clear that we’re rebuilding. Now it looks like they had to totally trash Wren in order to justify a massive rebuild.

    Surprise us, Hart. This fanbase can’t take it right now.

  121. “Let’s just collect a bunch of pitchers and then we won’t need to score runs.”

    Yeah the 4 starters we currently have can all throw 250+ innings and pitch on short rest all season.

  122. If LaStella can get back to being the hitter he was when he first came up, he’ll be a nice player to have. Maybe not a starter, but a guy who can play a good bit and be useful. I was hoping that he could figure things out and take some of Johnson’s time at 3B. But who knows? He may just be a slap hitting .200 hitter with a bad glove.

    Vizcaino replaces Walden for now. Maybe Kimbrel in August? Oy.

  123. If you’re going to trade 2 out of Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, why do you care who plays second base? Clear the reps for the guy you think is a long term solution.

    My big question is: If you thought Fredi Gonzalez was the right man to lead the charge with a championship club, and you were massively wrong, what makes you think he’s the right guy to bring along a young team? Just the law of averages? He’s gotta be good for something?

  124. @209

    He’s gonna teach all the rookies and scrubs how to ride a hog, which is a skill they can take with them long after they’re washed up. Best man for the job.

  125. Right now we’re one of the worst teams in baseball. However, it might be best to reserve judgement until we see what the final 2015 roster looks like.

    Keep in mind that we were one of the worst teams in baseball (minus April) in 2014…

  126. Phew. Thanks goodness we already have Freddie Freeman’s career .831 OPS at first base locked up for years to come.

  127. Can someone provide a synopsis of the impact of the international slot money, or point us to an article that explains it? If this is a move towards not acquiring soft-tossing high school lefties with low ceilings, well then… I’d sure like to know about that.

  128. @Ken_Rosenthal: Don’t forget 3B Chris Johnson as a #Braves trade candidate. Owed $22.5M over next three years with $10M option or $1M buyout for ’18.

  129. Thanks Stu.

    It’s interesting that the Braves are meeting with Lester based on the current construction of the team. If they’re wanting to put their resources into a rotation of Lester/Teheran/Minor/Miller/Wood and the current lineup, we’re banking on winning a lot of 2-1 ball games. I wonder if they are reacting to what they perceive to be an over-valuation of offense. Perhaps they’re seeing pitching becoming the cheapest way of building a team. I’m encouraged to see they’re shopping Johnson/Gattis/JUpton, but I’m really interested to see who replaces Heyward and any of them who are traded. Statistically, it seems like we would be one of the worst offenses in baseball with the best pitching staff in baseball. I suppose I’ll wait for the dust to settle.

  130. csg,

    I realize we need more pitching still, but the thought of throwing money at Lester is ludicrous to me with the offense we will have next year. He’s 30 years old and will be on the decline by the time we can contend. The fact he doesn’t require draft pick compensation is appealing, but I can’t help feeling we’d be spending Heyward’s money on Lester and that’s a bad tradeoff.


    “Looks can be deceiving. .645OPS Average defense at best”

    Yes, because players never get better after their first half season. Obviously Lastella of 2014 is replacement level. But when people say prospect X looks like Y, they’re not talking about a finished product. Maybe if I’d said “Lastella is an average 2b” you’d have a point.

  131. @209, one of the worst offenses in the history of baseball. It was one of the worst offenses in baseball last year WITH heyward, upton, and gattis

  132. I think KC made the WS on pitching alone. It can be done. We’ve seen it done here a few times…Belliard/Bream/Nixon/etc didn’t exactly scare opposing teams and light up the scoreboard.

    I personally find 2-1 games extremely boring, but as long as we win I won’t complain (much).

  133. KC had an elite defense, though. The Braves are stockpiling fly-ball pitchers and trading Jason Heyward’s glove for Evan Gattis’s, so far…

  134. 2015 will be an on-field case study in corner-OF dWAR value. I would suggest that pitching is 75% or more of team defense. Especially when KC is running out guy after guy that throws 98. (our staff won’t be remotely comparable – they had like 4 Kimbrels in their pen and a few that were starters).

  135. It will be an on-field case study in “The Braves Way” as well. I’m wondering if it’s really as delusional as it sounds.

  136. @227

    Yes, and I believe all of the WAR-esque metrics account for pitching as ~75% of team defense as well.

    Don’t remember where I read it, but maybe someone else can give a citation (or refute me if I’m speaking out of the wrong end of me!)

  137. The best I can come up with, for why John Hart, John Schuerholz and John Coppolella would want to meet with Jon Lester, is so they can ask him “So. Jon. No H in there. What’s that like?” I can literally think of no better reason to meet with him in this particular off season.

  138. @222

    That tells me these moves may not be for just the future, but to free up some money now and bring in the team we want.

  139. I think the writing is on the wall for Medlen and Beachy. If the Braves don’t land Lester, I’d be willing to bet that they get another starter via trade or free agency.

  140. There’s zero chance that we would bring Medlen or Beachy back for their arb figures and uncertainty with their health. I wouldn’t mind seeing them offer 1 yr incentive laden deals with a vesting option though. We have no pitching depth.

  141. Just a hunch but I think I know where this is going.

    Jon Lester would be the 2nd domino to fall before other moves. Braves want to emphasize to him that they want to get something done quick.If he signs, the Braves then work to include Mike Minor in a package with B.J. Upton.

    Something like BJ and Minor to the Cubs for Luis Valbuena and Edwin Jackson.

    Next the Braves will fill their last pitching spot via Mariners with a J.Upton and Gattis for Taijuan Walker, Brad Miller, Michael Saunders, and a prospect.

    If the first domino doesn’t fall, the Braves will take a different direction.

    Then, the Braves will have to address the OF and they’d have the money to do so with the trades of both Uptons and Mike Minor. Alex Rios? Aoki? Bonifacio? Still not a strong offense but holy smokes at the pitching.

  142. @234-Exactly. Only reason to kick the tires on Lester is if you have a deal in place to unload Minor and BJ to free up at least 10 million a year for the next three years. But to get anyone to take BJ I have a feeling we’ll have to include another major piece too. How do you feel about the deal if we also have to include Lucas Sims?

  143. 234, wouldn’t pitching be covered without the Justin deal though?

    Lester, Teheran, Wood, Miller and Jackson right?

  144. I hope for his sake that Wren Jr. wasn’t the one that went to the Braves and demanded a trade. The Brewers have a fully stocked MLB outfield and four of their top-10 prospects are outfielders. Assuming Gattis and/or JUpton are in fact dealt the Braves could possibly have the worst outfield in the history of baseball and a minor league system that only has a single legitimate OF prospect (and that guy is still in low-A).

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