The Jadeite Jewel: Showing Off the Arm

Andrelton Simmons standing on a baseball field with a glove on his hand is a web gem waiting to happen, and this winter Braves Journal is going to determine which of his gems is the best of his best—his Jadeite. For the full rules, check out the introduction.

Round 1: Split ‘n Throw vs. Run at Your Own Risk

Split ‘n Throw

Editor’s Pitch: I’m not sure which is more impressive: that Simmons got to this ball while he slipped, or that he threw the runner out from the outfield grass without taking a step, while still in a split-like position. Okay, I do know which was more impressive–that throw was insane. Usually Freddie Freeman provides the splits in Simmons’s highlight reels, but since Regression was playing first I suppose Simmons felt the need to provide the split himself. I’m not complaining.

Run at Your Own Risk

Editor’s Pitch: When a ball splits the gap and bounces away from even the most accomplished of outfielders, you pretty much concede the runner on first will score and focus on keeping the hitter held to a double. Not Simmons. Michael Cuddyer was over halfway home, but Simmons, well onto the outfield grass, threw a perfect strike to the plate to nail him. The ball could not have landed in a better place for Brian McCann had Simmons walked it in and handed it to him. Just wow.

136 thoughts on “The Jadeite Jewel: Showing Off the Arm”

  1. This looks like a good deal for us. Jace Peterson looks pretty good. Fried is a pretty good prospect. I hope we have a new medical staff that can handle TJ issues well.

    Also from last thread. I would like to try Gattis at third.

  2. JC’ed:

    I’m pretty into this deal. I’d have been more into it six weeks ago–but I think it’s just what the doctor ordered.

  3. This isn’t a terrible deal. I think we were all hoping for an A-level prospect from somebody, but it probably wasn’t happening for a rental. Not everyone values rentals the way JS did (lol :*( )

    I like the idea that we got 2 speedy position players with good walk rates. They don’t have to be stars to help us. They don’t even have to be average.

  4. @5

    I’m happy with pt. 1 of your two-part proposition. This team can’t lose all of its Handsome for 2015 and hope to draw fans.

  5. 5—I think Gattis still mostly catches, and we see Almonte/Toscano/FA in left.

    I’ll be stunned if they give Harang two guaranteed years.

  6. So if Max Fried reaches the bigs, and throws a clunker, will we say he’s “over-cooked?” “Extra Crispy?” If he pitches well will that be “homestyle?” “Original recipe?” For this Tommy John surgery, did they grab that ligament out of his thigh to put in his wing? Now that its done, do we expect him to have any meat left on the bone?

  7. @8

    I think we should do it. He won’t be too expensive to prevent us from doing anything, and he’s instant insurance for one of Minor/Miller not bouncing back or if any of them get injured. For 2015 we actually don’t have anything better to spend the money on. For 2016 he’s the inexpensive stop-gap on the way to Sims/Jenkins/Martin/Hursh/ and this new Padres fella whose name I’ve already forgotten.

    Maybe he’s awful. But Harang being awful in either of the next two years for the money he’d be getting and at a position at which we have depth is a very worthwhile risk in my book.

  8. Gattis will be playing LF. Giving Bethancourt as many starts behind the plate and as many at-bats as possible fits the prime objective of having a competitive team in 2017. They just need Gattis to play everyday, mash a shit ton of homer runs and peak his trade value. I suspect they will get added value when he turns out to be a close to league average left fielder. Either way I suspect he is gone after this season if not by the deadline. Mike Minor is also gone, perhaps as soon as he puts together a convincing number of starts that resemble the 2013 version.

    Toscano is going to play CF at AAA until we are ready to cut bait with BJ.

  9. SP1 – Teheran
    SP2 – Wood
    SP3 – Miller
    SP4 – Minor
    SP5 – Harang (FA, probably RHP)

    1. Markakis (RF)
    2. Callaspo/Peterson (2B/3B)
    3. Freeman (1B)
    4. Gattis (C/LF)
    5. Johnson (3B)
    6. Simmons (SS)
    7. Almonte (LF/CF)
    8. BJ/Bethancourt (CF/C)

    The pen looks fine.

    I can see Callapso/Peterson/Johnson playing a roulette at 2B/3B, with Peterson spotting Simmons occasionally at SS. I can also see a scenario where Peterson wins the starting 2B job for 2016 forward, outright, pushing Jose Peraza into CF and BJ to the bench.

  10. That lineup needs something, like burial. Simmons would probably be the third-best hitter. Worst in the league, and it wouldn’t be close.

    Not the most original thought, I know, but there’s got to be something else happening here, since I refuse to believe Hart’s completely lost his marbles.

  11. @19 There’s a point where you want to have something resembling a major league lineup and that is not it. We’re going to approach historical levels of ineptitude here.

  12. @16

    If the top two guys can get on base, it is better than most think. Freeman is really good. Gattis has monster pop.

    I’m not saying we win it all, but I don’t think we aren’t horri-awful.

  13. @21, That’s the interesting thing here. How far is Hart going to dare to push it?

    He seems to be relying on the pitching staff to keep us from 100-loss/Astros-rebuild territory.

  14. @24 – Agreed. It’s not going to be good by any rational measure, but it’s got potential (which is obviously what we’re going for this winter.) You’re looking for bounceback from Callapso, at least until Peraza and Peterson are ready to play every day. A little return from CJ at third and some progress offensively by Andrelton makes the offense less than atrocious.

  15. Per fangraphs: “Fried’s clean mechanics aren’t a concern”.

    If only insurance companies were that forgiving “Sure he had a bad accident, but his hands were at ten and two”

  16. @17

    To move past the tone of your question to a worthwhile answer, apparently at one point Peterson was the best defender in the Padres’ system according to Baseball America.

    Don’t know how good that’ll be, but it sounds a lot better than “maybe he can hack it,” which is where we were with La Stella; Gosselin; Pastonicky.

  17. Consensus is that Fried’s a top tier LHP prospect, recovering from TJ surgery.

    Jace Peterson is a very good defensive middle infielder; 2B/SS or 3B with the offensive profile of Tommy LaStella. Streetcar with plus defense sounds good.

    Dustin Peterson is a power stick who plays 3B but probably shifts to LF in the bigs. Needs to develop more offense if he’s going to be a starting corner OF in the majors.

    Mallex whatshisname is a CF prospect with speed but no power.

  18. Is Toscano the wild card? If he can hit at all, maybe it pushes Bethancourt to the bench and Gattis back behind the plate. Or just sign Aoki and do that anyways.

  19. I’m gonna take what’ll inevitably be the first of many opportunities (sorry) to note that I saw a report that Aoki will go for two or three years and $7/8 mil per.

  20. From Edward’s list @31, I’d take a flyer no Josh Johnson ahead of Aaron Harang or Kyle Kendrick. And I’m still in favor of kicking the tires on Ichiro just for shits and giggles.

  21. The Giants signed Peavy.

    Now is the time for EXTENDFEST 2015!!!!!!1!!1!!!!! I knew it would come!

    Wow, I hope these prospects end up being huge. I read, I think in one of these threads, that the Braves have a personnel member who had been with the Pads the previous three seasons. Hopefully he knows the ins-and-outs.

  22. @40

    I don’t know whether to be more excited by the speed and success rate or just the boldness of “114 tries”. Mallex Remington could become a favorite if he keeps running wild.

  23. Jace Peterson’s 2014 line: .307/.402/.447. Slightly more power and speed than La Stella but much better defender. Contact hitter.

    Dustin Peterson is D.J. Peterson’s younger brother and is known for his bat, but hasn’t hit well in his short pro career thus far. He was said to be a better prospect than his brother. coming out of high school.

  24. JPete(*) was playing in the PCL, so discount his power numbers a bit. Still, “Tommy LaStella with plus defense” is a valuable thing.

    (*)I like the “Mallex Remington” thing. It’s better than referring to every player we acquire going forward to “Firstname Peterson”. Petersons are clearly the new Uptons.

  25. @45 I was super happy with that article, until his notes in the comments section: “40 is a low-end backup”

    Of course, I have my doubts about ceilings.

  26. Sorry for over-commenting (is that discouraged?)

    Is the money allotted to the Braves by Liberty impacted by construction expenses? Is the 110 million going to still be available from 2015-2016?

    Obviously, it never hurts to save money (never hurts Liberty), but I wasn’t sure if they really have as much salary space as it appears.

  27. There has been no indication that park construction costs are tied to player budget. It would be shocking if the two were linked. They’re not remotely linked as operational processes in the Braves or Liberty organizations. I suspect the 100-120 player budget is simply where Liberty landed once they got the cut of the national TV/radio deal last year.

  28. Some useful pieces – in terms of value it may even be that the Braves got the better of it, but as it stands they have moved an elite defender and a borderline elite hitter depending on how you view these things, and didn’t get anyone with much chance of becoming either. It may be that 2016 is the goal, but so far, there’s little currently in place that augurs well for that either.

  29. Cool, I knew it wasn’t dollar for dollar (or there would be no dollars), I just thought some thrift would be appreciated in the mean time.

    Could be a big free-agent on the horizon.

  30. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Braves run with something closer to the 100m figure, rather than the 120m, in 2015. I think they probably want to keep the big money commitments down until 2017.

  31. ‘Splain the Markakis contract to me if we’re in full-rebuild mode? This team won’t be good for a long long time.

  32. It’s certainly sanguine of them to beleive that there will be someone worth investing in in 2017, and that they will prevail in the bidding.

  33. 1. The Braves like Nick Markakis more than you do.

    2. The four year deal means Markakis will be around in 2016-18. Which means all they have to do is find an internal OF option (Toscano, Mallex Remington, Dustin Peterson, Zoilo Almonte, a converted Jose Peraza.) They can then use the Uggla/BJ money to fill the remaining hole when those guys come off the books.

    3. This strategy is supported by their obvious plan this offseason to find cheap, cost-controlled, high upside pitching depth in Miller and Fried, to compliment the super cheap, super young starting rotation they already have. A 2016-17 rotation of Teheran/Wood/Miller/Minor/Fried(Sims) leaves them lots of money to invest in hitters.

  34. @59, yeah but Markakis is going to make CJ’s contract look awesome by the time we reach years 3 and 4 – the same time we’re supposed to be getting good again. I understand the need to rebuild, but there’s no good reason to sign declining players to so many years – years that overlap with the oh-so-special opening of WFF.

  35. So long, Jusin. Your power will be missed. Sorry your brother couldn’t go with you.

    I like the idea of getting a young pitches I already has tommy john surgery out of the way.

  36. @56, Easy. I keep saying, look at the Astros. Their TV network went bankrupt because they didn’t bother to have even a pretense of competing. There are real costs associated with the out and out rebuild that every team in the majors took note of, among other Astros screwups.

    Markakis is for all the rubes out there who will fall for “hometown boy”/”gold glove.” It’s an investment that keeps the team from hemorrhaging ticket/TV money. And it’s kind of an insult to Braves fans who don’t get that Aoki is just as good for half the years/cost.

  37. It’s certainly sanguine of them to beleive that there will be someone worth investing in in 2017, and that they will prevail in the bidding.

    We’ve been pretty good at prevailing in the bidding. Unfortunately.

  38. The idea that the club is saving up cash to make a big splash in ’17 is both dubious and highly unlikely to work.

  39. I think it’s more likely they are saving up cash to make it easy to find a buyer. Of course fielding the worst lineup in baseball is going to hurt the franchise value, so there’s that. I don’t fully understand what they are doing. Maybe when they resign Heyward next offseason the master plan will be more self evident. Right now I’m confused.

  40. The idea that the club is saving up cash to make a big splash in ’17 is both dubious and highly unlikely to work.

    I can still find it within myself to trust Hart et al enough to do a decent job of it (not necessarily going all-in in one offseason, but hopefully picking their spots along the way).

    I realize that’s kind of naive. And after the Heyward/$100 mil comment, my trust is certainly limited. But this really is just the beginning, so let’s see how it plays out.

  41. @61 “yeah but Markakis is going to make CJ’s contract look awesome by the time we reach years 3 and 4”

    I’m not so sure. I’ve got a good feeling about Nick Markakis. If he wins another gold glove I’ll eat my hat, but I think he’s going to be a better than average hitter for the length of the deal. There’s a not insignificant amount of players who age reasonably well; I think Markakis will be among them. Not a lot of star potential, obviously, but an average overall outfielder seems within his reach.

    But maybe I’m off my rocker. I might change my mind based on how he looks post-surgery.

  42. I don’t think Markakis is going to be an AllStar or anything but 11m for a 2-war guy in RF isn’t going to kill anyone.

  43. Is there any Collective Bargaining Agreement reason the Braves couldn’t say to B.J., “we would like to pay you the full value of your remaining contract in 2015, then release you at the end of the season”? I’ve never heard of it being done, but given that they can’t save payroll money year-to-year, it seems like it would be a great move.

  44. @70, I don’t know about kill, but considering that’s a loss of 4 WAR from RF it just might cripple the home side for a good while – and that’s ‘if’ you get 2war from a guy on the wrong side of 30 who is about to get disc surgery. The holes are too big and the patches too small for the forseeable future. It’s a bad time to be a club with a sketchy record of evaluating and developing hitters.

  45. Not wild about the trade; not wild about the offseason in general. Dumped Heyward for meh. Dumped Justin for meh. Signed Nick Meh-kakis to make sure we’re just mediocre and not downright awful. Dumped Medlen because ???? Made sure we’re still paying guys we don’t want to pay.

    I really don’t get it. The only guys we got rid of were the ones worth something. The only guys we brought in were worse and more expensive than the ones we dumped.

  46. “Heyward for meh. Dumped Justin for meh. Signed Nick Meh-kakis to make sure we’re just mediocre and not downright awful. Dumped Medlen because…”

    …when the “meh” is in plain sight in the guy’s name it just isn’t the same? Seriously, “Nick Meh-kakis” made me laugh.

  47. I saw something about how the Padres could theoretically move Kemp to 1B, which makes their set of moves make a whole lot more sense. I didn’t check to see if that’s what they’ll actually do. But it’s a good reminder that these people are the paid professionals and I’m a commenter on a blog for a reason.

  48. Since the 2017 rosterbating has already begun, I would suggest that there is a slim but real chance that Hart successfully shoots the moon and we enter that season with one of the strongest teams in baseball.

    On the position player side he has to win the lottery with at least one prospect and produce a legitimate all-star (likeliest candidate is Peraza), produce a league average hitter with at least one other, hope that both Bethancourt and Simmons develop into league average hitters, and finally he will have to acquire at least one better than league average hitter as a free agent.

    On the pitching side he has to hope that Teheran, Wood and Miller all remain healthy and that one of Jenkins/Fried/Sims develops into a better than average major league starting pitcher and that he is able to sign or develop at least one additional starter. He will have to develop at least a couple big arms for the bullpen.

    He can increase the odds of pulling this off by trading both Gattis and Minor sooner rather than later–he needs to get high upside prospects into the system while they still have some time to develop and maybe even get some major league experience in 2016. Conversely, he can use these prospects (and the ones we already have) to acquire by trade before the 2017 season a couple guys like Justin Upton. This is the approach the San Diego Padres and the Miami Marlins are currently pursuing.

    Unfortunately, it is just as likely that two of Wood, Teheran and Miller blow out their elbows and that none of Fried, Jenkins and Sims reach their ceilings and that neither Peraza nor any of the rest of our lackluster hitting prospects pan out.

  49. @mlbbowman: The #Braves make the Justin Upton trade official. RHP Aaron Northcraft is also heading to San Diego in this deal.

  50. @89 – You, sir, are a gd tease.

    Seriously, get me all hot and bothered for 4 paragraphs and then pour cold water all over it with one sentence. Geez.

  51. I am not excited at all to watch Christian Bethancourt catch everyday.

    This team may be unwatchable next season.

  52. Braves payroll sitting at 88 million. Have money to still impact the season. Anywhere between 13 and 31 million, middle ground being 22 and last year’s payroll at 25.

  53. @9
    Just in case that gets enshrined in the glossary at some point, I just wanted to mention that I made a similar joke in the JC’d portion of the last thread. I mean, you committed a lot more effort to the joke, and your time stamp beat mine by 15 minutes. But I’m still salty (plus 10 other kinds of herby and spicy) that AFG never made the glossary.

  54. I can’t pretend to know the new international trade slot stuff all that well, but it seems that we are now hoarding them. Maybe Hart has a leg up on everyone with the Cuba relations being normalized?

  55. Per MLB Trade Rumors:

    •The Braves are still listening on Evan Gattis, but expect to deploy him in left field unless a big offer comes through the door, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.

  56. I’m okay with the deal for Upton, especially since he’ll be a one year rental, but I’m a little disappointed that the top prospect (Fried) won’t be available until 2016.

    By the way, I understand that people will also like the way Fried hits the ball.


    I understand he makes a really good batter. (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

  57. Any news on the undisclosed team that may be bidding for Jung Ho Kang? He could be a fit at 3B for the Braves, but I don’t think it’s in the realm of possibility.

  58. I guess it could, it’s just been a huge secret if so – I haven’t even heard rumblings from Braves scouts, but who knows. He looks like a decent gamble if so.

  59. Well, this certainly doesn’t sound like Moncada is the play:

    In addition, we gained a little more of the international money. We’ve signed eight guys already with the [$800,000 received via a trade with the Cubs in November]. We’ve got three more guys we want to get and we were running short on cash. I think this will help us.

  60. Leudys Diaz and Jhonny Diaz are 2 of those guys you’re referring to, Stu. Others that could fit: Bladimir Matos, Odalvi Javier, Jhoniel Sepulveda, Alonso Germen, Carlos Centeno, and Kelvin Rodriguez. Toscano doesn’t count against the int’l bonus pool I don’t think.

  61. 5 million dollar posting for Kang? 4-5 mil a year?

    I’m down. Always open to opportunities for more Simpson’s references

  62. Of the top 20 prospects as determined by MLB.com, #3, 5, 9, 13, 17 all came from trades this offseason, with the international bonus money still likely to produce more prospects for this list. For as frustrating as our offense will be to watch in 2015, the front office has accomplished their goal of replenishing the farm system. Would you consider the offseason a success if, say, #3, 5, 6, 9, 13, 14, 17, and 20 were from trades this offseason? The international bonus money could very well help produce that result.

    I wish we could take a problem contract off the hands of another team. I mean, what the heck have we saved all of this 2015 payroll money for?

  63. I’m satisfied playing EOB in left for the most part. Like Ryan says, Shields is still out there. We can afford him and a back up catcher not named A.J.

  64. You’re right Spike; after reading all the prospect reviews, that is the glaring indictment of the Atlanta Braves organization. They just seem to be poor judges of hitting talent, both in the draft and free agent levels, and have sporadic ability to develop hitters.

    However, I am pretty excited about Mallex Smith. He has other-worldly speed, and seems to be the antithesis of BJ Upton: he has actually already figured out he’s not a power hitter. Hart in his interview compared him to Michael Bourn. With 88 SBs last year, I could see that.

    I’m totally fine with Gattis in LF. JUpton was no Gold Glover, and he could very well exceed JUpton’s offensive production over 150 games outside of a demanding position. I just hope he can transition to LF well enough for it not to affect his hitting ability. Remember Chipper’s LF years?

    All of this just boils down to the failures of BUpton and Uggla. Woulda, coulda, shoulda and all, but we’d have all the makings of a championship ballclub if we could bundle all of the cost-controlled talent with at least average player from those tens of millions in sunk payroll.

    Speaking of tens of millions in sunk payroll, I wonder what Frank Wren will do now. There doesn’t seem to be any news about his next gig.

  65. Bethancourt is simply not EVER going to be major-league material. I’ve watched him for years and I have never seen even the slightest hint of real major-league potential there.

    I have been a Braves fan ever since I can remember. Dale Murphy being traded in 1990 for nobodies was my breaking point, until the next fall when it was clear something special was happening in Atlanta.

    There have been a lot of ups and downs in the years since, but pretending that Bethancourt is a major-league catcher may just be my breaking point.

  66. @116 – All I still see are lottery tickets. Is there a single player in the system that’s viewed as even moderately likely to be anything beyond an average major leaguer? Seems like the guys that would be that are recovering from major surgeries.

  67. Yes, it was his first season in the majors, but nothing about Bethancourt’s offense or defense looked ‘catcher of the future’ material to me.

    Free Gattis.

  68. I’m not expecting a playoff run next year, but I haven’t given up yet. I think our starting pitching will be better and our bullpen will be improved. Heyward will obviously be better in the long run than Markakis, but an OPS around .730 (like Heyward last year) or maybe slightly better, from Markakis next year is possible.

    If we replace Justin with someone slightly better than Markakis, I think we can hit at comparable levels to last year. I know that’s an incredibly low standard, but we underachieved offensively last year and overachieved with our starting pitchers. As stated above, I think the biggest wildcard is Bethancourt. He doesn’t look like an acceptable major league hitter to me, but maybe our scouts have reason to think he’s ready. It looks like Ross is off the table as a backup (2 year deal with the Cubs), so backup catcher will be huge if Gattis is our preferred left field option. Adding Jung Ho Kang and a decent backup catcher could make us competitive.

  69. @121 Peraza, Sims, and Fried look like future above-average major league regulars. Vizcaino looks like he could be pretty lights-out out of the pen. Jason Hursh definitely looks like a keeper.

    You would have probably said Heyward was going to be an All-Star based on his hype and minor league performance.

    The term “lottery ticket” implies a numbers game. Get enough above-average prospects and you’ll get a few out of there. The Braves have taken a few steps forward in making the numbers game more favorable. Without it, you’re forced to trade for the Chris Johnson’s and sign the BJ Upton’s.

  70. 2/3 of those guys were in the system before it was decided that no more winning would happen in Fulton Co. The third hasn’t pitched in two years and is way far away from the majors even if his arm is surgically restored. Vizcaino was medically iffy enough to get rid of once and medically iffy enough for a way more savvy front office to trade again back to us.

  71. The Braves must think they’re really good at dealing with post-TJ pitchers. That’s what’s so funny about all this.

  72. @125 – It is questionable whether or not Kang can play shortstop effectively at the ML level. Some think his value plummets if he moves from SS, but if the guy can put up 75% of his numbers, I’ll take him at third or anywhere else on the field. He had a .364/.457/.733 line for the Nexen Heroes, with 39 home runs in 116 games.
    I don’t know if he can even come close to 75% of this (about a .900 OPS), but it is intriguing. Apparently his strikeouts are a little concerning (1 in 5 at bats), but his power is legitimate.

  73. I think most people are pleased with the return we got for Upton. I forgot, what did we give up for him two years ago?

  74. A few years before I retired, I walked into my boss’s office and demanded a raise. He said, “Coop, I’d like to pay you what you’re worth, but there’s a minimum wage law.”

    You don’t always get what you ask for, Ryan, unless you’re Bossman Junior.

  75. Now that it’s winter, my sweet wife politely asked that I spring clean boxes of junk I’ve accumulated along the way.

    Lo and behold, one box held copies of Chop Talk dating from December 2005 through May 2007 as well as a May 2001 issue. There was also a February 1998 copy of Tomahawk. I thought these rags were long gone, so it’s probably time to pass them on or, sigh, trash them.

    There’s a bunch of good memories, as well as some sad ones; and the magazines are in pretty decent shape considering they’ve been hiding for several years.

    Finally, here’s the question:

    Does anyone want these specimens of journalistic brilliance? I plan to pass them on or throw them out when 2015 arrives

    Let me know if you’re interested. They’re going on a first call gets ’em all basis for whatever it costs to mail them.

    Thanks.

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