The Jadeite Jewel: The Acrobat

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: The Faceplant vs. Taggin’ Fool

The Faceplant

Editor’s Pitch: This play was ridiculous enough that Simmons got a double fist pump and a laugh of disbelief from his pitcher. Alex Wood‘s appreciation is well warranted; Simmons stole that base hit at the risk of personal injury (slow motion does nothing to enhance that faceplant). He needed every inch of his 6’2″ frame to make that play, but make it he did. I still laugh in disbelief at it.

Taggin’ Fool

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMS1N1vxOZw

Editor’s Pitch: This astounding tag has gotten a lot of well-deserved publicity. Freeman’s throw was awful on what should have been an easy pick-off play, but through an instinct unique only to him, Simmons was able to apply the tag where he caught the ball–between his legs. I can’t find a clip of it, but I remember later on in that broadcast they showed an angle from centerfield that clearly showed Simmons got the tag down. How he was able to do that will remain one of life’s great unsolved mysteries.

68 thoughts on “The Jadeite Jewel: The Acrobat”

  1. @132 from last thread: we gave up Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, Zeke Spruill and Brandon Drury for Justin and CJ.

  2. 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.

    Taggin’ fool.

  3. @5 At least his dream of being a baseball will come true.

    While the return is somewhat underwhelming in terms of high-end prospects, I would be concerned on the Padres’ end. If the team you assembled doesn’t come together, you might wish you saw your cards before going all in.

    It does give the Braves a little cash to pick up a left-fielder and, I don’t know, Big Handsome. Unless the other left-field options are only slightly better at hitting than C-Beth, it’d be nice to see Gattis behind the dish.

  4. @6 The Padres can hardly be described as having “gone all in”…they gave up none of their top 3 prospects in any of their trades and managed to keep 10 of their top 15.

  5. Even if the Falcons lose next week, the memory of driving a stake through the heart of the Saints will make this season not all bad.

  6. At least one published report says Smith is done regardless.. Although in typical Atlanta at sports franchise fashion, I’m sure the falcons will mount just enough of a playoff run to make it really awkward.

  7. @14 I am sure Jason and Heyward were also willing to reup with the Braves. It’s all about offering enough money though.

  8. Didn’t get to edit quick enough, but it looks like Jace has a reverse platoon split so it might not be a match. WaWaWa.

  9. @16

    If we’re ranking the aspects of that page from most to least depressing, I think we start with Georgie’s name still being on it.

  10. @Rob Cope, previous thread

    Justin Upton is an uninspiring outfielder. Evan Gattis is a terrible outfielder. Evan Gattis is a pretty good hitter. Justin Upton is an excellent hitter.

    I want to believe, too. But I just don’t see it there.

    For those of you who mentioned Klesko as a clomper who could hit, which made it okay, well, Klesko didn’t hit, he freaking mashed. Gattis has that kind of power, but he isn’t nearly as good a hitter. I wish it were a more apt comparison than it is.

    Gattis needs to hit as well as Freeman to make his defense out there tolerable. Also, Evan Gattis is not a bad catcher, despite some really bonehead backhands in July and August last year. I think the Braves know it. I think this left field business is still just talk.

  11. Where Gattis plays may be determined by the play of Almonte/Toscano. If they don’t suck too much then Gattis may be a catcher.

    I didn’t see Hale’s name on that depth chart. Curious.

  12. I still don’t understand why the Braves won’t try Gattis at third.

    He could stand five feet from the line. He has the arm to do it. Simmons will catch everything not hit within five feet of Gattis.

  13. Dude. If Gattis could play 3B he would have been put there by now. The idea that you can just slap a guy down anywhere on the diamond and let it go is silly on its face. Evan Gattis is not a third baseman.

  14. Left-field defense is just not this team’s biggest concern. Let’s worry about having terrible hitters at damn near every position first.

  15. Who is “Big Handsome”? Michael Morse? He is handsome. I always tell my wife that when he comes to the plate against us. She says she doesn’t see it. She’s a good wife.

  16. 3B is really hard to play. I know because I played it. Badly. Being prepared to charge a nubber while sitting back on your heels for the smash is a weird sort of no-man’s land.

    Gattis would show you why Chris Johnson is actually pretty good at 3B–just not relative to other professional 3B-men.

  17. Does everyone realize that the net effect of all this is that payroll is sitting at $88 million now? $27 million of that is tied up in Uggla and BJ so basically we’re going to play the season with $60 million in payroll which is extremely pathetic.

  18. @26, the rules don’t forbid us from playing someone besides Bethancourt or Gattis at catcher. But yeah it’s not looking all that good at the moment.

  19. Between Almonte/Toscano/Callaspo, there’s got to be one above average hitter in there. Gattis is going to hit, wherever he plays. If we can have two above-average hitters between LF/C/2B, then our offense should be better. Hart laid it out there that our existing contracted players are just going to have to play better. If Freeman/Johnson/BUpton/Simmons continue to under-perform, then we’ll be screwed. Simple as that. Worrying about where Gattis is going to play is a secondary issue.

  20. Gaz, I can one up you.

    We have $33.45 committed to Uggla, BJ, and CJ. We’re essentially playing with a $54.55M payroll.

    Between Almonte/Toscano/Callaspo, there’s got to be one above average hitter in there

    Wanna bet? (somewhat being sarcastic)

  21. Does everyone realize that the net effect of all this is that payroll is sitting at $88 million now? $27 million of that is tied up in Uggla and BJ so basically we’re going to play the season with $60 million in payroll which is extremely pathetic.

    Well, that really depends on how they’re writing out the internal books, doesn’t it? If I knew for certain that the Braves were going to play 2015 with an 80m payroll because they were banking that other 20m of their budget against BJ Upton’s future costs I’d be ecstatic. If they were to basically say “you know what, screw it, we’re going to pay BJ $35m this year and run out a Marlins-esque lineup otherwise, but in 2016 we are counting BJ as $10m and in 2017 he’s off the books entirely…” Yeah, I’d be all over that sort of accounting shenanigans.

  22. I don’t think it’s actually possible to buy out a contract, it probably is against the CBA though I could be wrong. In any case, the point is that ostensibly we couldn’t sign Heyward and Upton to 9 figure contracts because we don’t have the money to yet payroll is 30-40 million lower than what the budget we were told we had is.

    Basically the strategy this offseason is to blame Wren, dismantle everything he did so as to restock everything while not attempting to remain competitive. It’s a genius move for everyone involved because they can distance themselves from this mess by saying well we need 3-5 years whatever to rebuild everything so no one can get fired during this period for poor results and ownership can slash payroll with no repercussions. The whole “pointing toward 2017” is bullshit, there’s absolutely nothing remotely guaranteed that the team can be competitive then.

  23. @36 Perfectly sums up my feelings on the situation except that I don’t think anyone needs any actual protection from firing because ownership gives not one crap whether or not the team wins. The boat shall not be rocked, but otherwise, just keep revenues high enough to break even and let the tax breaks flow.

  24. @20 Klesko’s numbers are inflated by the launching pad and, especially, the fact that his peak coincided with the steroid era offensive peak.

    Gattis put up a 125 ERA+ last season, which is not far off Klesko’s career 128. Given that Gattis has a stronger, more accurate arm and is almost certain to be a better overall fielder (whether at 1B or LF) than Klesko, it’s not at all a bad comparison. In fact, in the drug testing era I’d much rather have Gattis than Klesko.

  25. I don’t think its in a teams best interests to buy out a contract. Now year dollars are worth more than then year dollars. But to everyone’s point, if we could buy out BJ it would eliminate the temptation to play him.

    We won’t compete this year. I’ve already convinced myself of that. I think its asking for too many unlikely events to happen for us to compete.

    It is disconcerting, to Spike’s point, that there are no hitting prospects of any note in our system. I guess one could hope that once freed from Uggla’s contract that there would be money to make an acquisition.

  26. @38

    Klesko put up 8 seasons with a better OPS+ mark than Gattis’s last year. His lowest on-base percentage–and it’s atypically low–is seventeen points higher than Gattis’s career high. Call me when Gattis hits that well.

  27. Klesko also played in an elevated offensive environment. Certainly you have to take that into consideration.

  28. Klesko was not a good fielder, but 1) he was a better LF than he was a 1B, and 2) he was deceptively fast when he was young, in that he ran very hard. If Klesko circa 1997 and Gattis raced around the bases, Klesko would beat him by I’ll guess 60 feet.

  29. The only good argument keeping Gattis out of LF is that we don’t have another catcher (yet). Gattis getting 600 ABs is a *good thing*. If he does get to the plate that many times he’s probably going to be our best offensive player.

  30. @43 The comparison is similar using wRC+, which is league adjusted. Mainly, Klesko walked a lot more and struck out a bit less.

  31. Why would it be against the rules to buy out a contract? That seems ridiculous to me. If a player and a team mutually decide to void a contract, they can, and they can replace it with a new one. That new contract could be a 1-year deal. So, the Braves could “re-work” BJ’s contract to pay him $35 million in year one and terminate somehow thereafter. He would take a discount to get the money upfront and not have to suffer through 2 additional seasons of being terrible to get paid.

    Someone pls correct me if I am wrong

  32. Klesko’s first three years in San Diego were astounding. It was an elevated offensive environment, but he was playing in the worst hitters park in the league. He and Phil Nevin were the best kept secret in the game for a while. Take a gander at his road splits from 2000-2002:

    .287/.390/.557
    .326/.402/.589
    .283/.373/.554

  33. I never understood why Klesko didn’t play more as a Brave. I guess once a platoon guy for Bobby, always a platoon guy.

    The main reason I don’t want Gattis in LF is I can’t bear the thought of Bethancourt adding yet another sub standard bat to the line up. Of course this is under the assumption that the LF candidates are going to be better than Bethancourt which is a big assumption.

  34. When Klesko became a starter in the strike season (’94), he started booming balls all over the NL. I remember an early-season blast in Chicago where he hit the tippy top of Wrigley Field’s centerfield scoreboard. And yeah, Klesko totally ran like a rhino with lit rags tied to his feet.

    But with him in LF, you sometimes wondered if he’d been sent out there after being blindfolded and spun around 3 times.

  35. @49, I have a feeling it’s going to be hard for the other left fielders to be worse than Bethancourt’s inevitable .240/.270/.320

  36. Mainly, Klesko walked a lot more and struck out a bit less.

    Others have pointed out the differing eras, and rightly so. Klesko, one of my all-time fave Braves, never had to deal with a K zone as expansive as today’s league standard.

    If you’re trying to compete in 2015, you try to get someone other than Bethancourt in the lineup. If 2015 is basically an extended tryout to see if Bethancourt can adjust to the Bigs at all, you sign a backup veteran who can help him learn to work with and work for the pitching staff.

  37. ‘Klesko totally ran like a rhino with lit rags tied to his feet.’

    That is fantastic. Probably the best zoomorphic description of human locomotion I’ve heard since ‘She moved like a brown stallion horse with skates on.’

  38. For the at-bats talk, for simplification:
    Say Gattis’ bat is 120, Beth’s is 90, and replacements’ on the market are 105.

    Gattis at catcher, assuming 400 ab’s, gives you a 110 average at catcher and 105 in left. 215 total.

    Put Gattis in left, you get 120 in left, 90 behind the plate. 210 total.

    Putting Gattis in left will hurt the offense unless the difference between his bat and the replacement leftfielder is greater the 2/3 the difference between his bat and the replacement catchers’.

    Anyone can play left, but Gattis can catch. Let’s go sign an anyone

  39. Sorry if this double posts, my phone and Braves Journal don’t get along, so I’m trying my laptop.

    For the at-bats talk, a simplified version:

    Gattis’s bat: 120 Bethancourt’s bat: 90 Market left fielder: 105

    Gattis at catcher, 400 ab’s, Bethancourt at catcher, 200 ab’s: 110 average at catcher and 105 in left: 215 total.

    Put Gattis in left, you get 120 in left and 90 behind the plate. 210 total.

    Putting Gattis in left will hurt the offense unless the difference between his bat and a replacement leftfielder is greater than 2/3 the difference between his bat and the replacement catcher’s.

    This assumes that we can afford a slightly above average bat who can play left at least as well as Evan Gattis, it assumes that Gattis will get 600 at-bats if he isn’t catching, and it assumes Bethancourt and a backup will not combine to hit better than below average.

    Anyone can play left, but Gattis can catch.

  40. Bobo to Colorado State. Hate to see him leave UGA, but having him coach the team I actually get to see in person on a regular basis is a nice consolation prize, I guess.

  41. Agreed — the Braves would be better off playing Almonte and Toscano in LF with Gattis behind the plate.

  42. @52 This is a fair point. Both pitchers and the strike zone are quantifiably different today. Nevertheless, Klesko was a better hitter compared to his (also better hitting) peers than is Gattis thus far. I don’t consider that a slight; I quite like Gattis and his production.

    And I agree with those above that I’d rather Gattis be behind the plate.

  43. I’d rather a good hitter get 600 plate appearances. Having your catcher be one of your best hitters is not optimal because of the number of games he’ll have to sit out. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have enough other hitters to absorb Bethancourt’s bat into the lineup without much pain.

  44. Unless they can find another catcher who can hit, taking the lost games into account doesn’t change the outcome. From a purely offensive standpoint, you are better off with him catching and batting 400 times.

    It’s not just Bethancourt, hitting catchers are hard to come by.

  45. Might be a moot point since the odds of Gattis getting 600 AB’s is depressingly small. Hard to see him getting through the season without an oblique strain and whatnot.

    As a fan (of a team that’s about to win 70 games) I’d kinda like to see what those 600 ABs would turn into. There’s not much else keeping me interested.

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