The Jadeite Jewel: Lined…Caught!

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: High vs. Low

High

Editor’s Pitch: Everything Simmons does is so smooth. The way he lands on his feet would give you the impression he had just reached over and caught a soft toss during warmups, not jumped a foot off the ground to snag a hard line drive. His nonchalant demeanor alone would never clue you in that he had just robbed someone of a hit.

Low

Editor’s Pitch: When you watch the slo-mo replay at the end, it is obvious this play wasn’t as easy as Simmons made it look, because he couldn’t figure out how to catch it. He thought about going down to a knee, realized he needed to move more to get closer to the ball, and then just went to a knee and slid at the same time. That meant he was essentially tripping over his own foot when he caught the ball. In real time, however, it didn’t look like a difficult play at all. He’s deceptively good.

50 thoughts on “The Jadeite Jewel: Lined…Caught!”

  1. If we get a one-year pact with Rasmus, I think the offense would be better than last year’s (still worse than if we kept the bashers). I don’t think it will happen, but I’d be a happy camper.

  2. Get Rasmus, Aoki, and Harang. Just field the best possible bunch and put Bethancourt back at AAA and BJ on the bench

  3. I think whatever self-imposed budget they have will let them get two of the three. I do wonder if Rasmus might get a little over-priced with few other options on the table.

  4. Greetings from Dallas, TX…

    Didn’t watch the 2nd half of the Falcons game. Went to Dealy Plaza instead

    Feel free to insert tasteless joke.

  5. yes Akoi is who we need to fill the void in the out field he is a career .280 hit that doesnt have an ego to go aling with it if we had him i think we could be in good shape if bj doesnt turn it around in april then i say we uggla his ass

  6. Unless something changes…
    Starters: Markakis, Callaspo/Peterson, Freeman, Gattis, CJ, Andrelton, BJ/Almonte, Bethancourt/Pierzynski:
    Rotation: Teheran, Wood, Miller, Minor, Hale
    Bullpen: Kimbrel, Grilli, J.Johnson, Simmons, Russell, Shreve, Carpenter
    Bench: Callaspo/Peterson, BJ/Almonte, Bethancourt/Pierzynski, Gosselin, Terdoslavich

    This team will be bloody terrible. And to be honest, what could a Gattis trade do to make this much better? If the Braves were to compete…just compete, it would take Gattis being an average defender in LF breaking an .800 OPS, Bethancourt breaking a .700 OPS, Chris Johnson breaking a .750 OPS, someone in CF breaking a .750 OPS, Callaspo and Peterson breaking a .700 OPS, Andrelton breaking a .700 OPS, Freeman putting up a career year, and Markakis repeating 2014’s numbers. That will put the offense right at league average. From there, we compete for 2nd place in our division and a Wild Card spot.

    But the future is a little brighter, right? It’s Monday, and not yet 8:00, but it seems like an appropriate time for a 24oz Bloody Mary.

  7. Yes, a large number of very improbable thing have to happen for the team to compete in 2015. We may win more 2-1, 3-2 games than normal but in all probability if an opponent scores 3 runs against us we are toast. At least you’ll know when its time to start hunting down Friends reruns.

    As to the future, Uggla’s contract will be off the books, we get to see if Jose Peraza is for real, the team will have cut BJ, Gattis after a 30 HR season will be the most sought after player on the trade market.

  8. That lineup is soooooooooooooooo bad. The pitching has a chance to be solidly above average, though. I advise they make them hit it on the ground. The outfield defense was massively downgraded this off-season.

  9. Ahh, come on – it’s not like it’s 1987 bad. I mean in ’87 we had one good hitter in Murph, and a bunch of guys that couldn’t hit. Here we have one good hitter in Freddie, and…..ummm….EOB,…and….The Ghost of Nick Markakis…..and…Hey, Didn’t You Use To Be AJ Pierzynski….

    OK, so maybe our Rallying Cry will be – “Your 2015 Braves – We won’t lose 100!”

  10. I think “Don’t lose 100” is exactly the strategy for the FO because that keeps pressure off them. If we lose 85-90 then they’ll just say it’s part of the “plan to rebuild” and the fan base will be largely apathetic about it all. If we go full Astros and lose the fan base completely then someone may be accountable for it so I think the Markakis and Grilli signings are reflective of this. They’re just guys who will play at some level of acceptable major league standards while the team treads water for their big 2017 coming out party.

    That being said it still doesn’t make a ton of sense why they gave Markakis the last two years when there are guys who could do the same job for a 2 year contract but whatever. The team is likely not going to be good in 2017 anyway so might as well. It’s not like the money is getting spent elsewhere.

  11. Hopefully they’ll move Markakis at the deadline. Not that he’s likely to bring back anything great, but even if he only brings back a couple lottery tickets, it didn’t cost the Braves much that was worth having.

  12. @20 Been a long time. We as Braves fans may be a tad bit spoiled. What’s your take Sam? We’re better than losing a hundred but its going to be a long season if some folks don’t improve all the way up to league average.

  13. It’s an unnecessary rebuild. The Braves roster was just about the youngest in baseball and got demolished because of one bad year and a desire to clean house after the old regime was deposed. All of this losing will be in the name of recreating exactly the kind of team that was just dismantled which will, even in the unlikely event that it can even be pulled off, have just as poor a chance of advancing out of the first round of the playoffs as the previous team had. Choosing to lose is a stupid waste of time and enjoyment and will almost certainly not result in anything better than what was given up.

  14. I was in your camp. I wanted the Braves to go for it in 2015. But when it became apparent that they weren’t going to get a larger budget then the point became moot. As I’ve mentioned several times when the word coming from Peanut and DOB was that BJ was being retained, I knew we were rebuilding.

    I guess that finding 2 starting pitchers, an outfielder, a second baseman, probably a third baseman and a bench was too much, given the budgetary restrictions.

  15. As long as Liberty Media owns the team, we’ll be in this same situation. We’ll have a set budget, and if we make the wrong signings in free agency, we’ll be condemned to watch the team wallow in mediocrity. We have to hope that by the time all the BJs, CJs, and Ugglas get off the payroll, we *MIGHT* be in a position to contend with what we have. (IE – the play for 2017 mode we’re in now.)

    #ImissTednJane

  16. It was only an “unnecessary rebuild” if you think the only thing that needed tuning was the ML club. The ML club could have been patched back together with a few one-off pieces, noises made about hoping Johnson and Simmons hit in 2015, the big breakout of Jason, yadda yadda yadda, and maybe they sneak into the WC1 or WC2 slot. That’s the upside of 2015 without a rebuild. The down side is that you had two glaring holes in the starting rotation, four “make a wish and pray” holes in the starting eight (2B, SS, 3B and CF) and two about-to-become-gaping-holes-no-matter-how-bad-you-wish-otherwise in LF and RF. And you had a minor league system utterly bereft of any sort of real talent to fix any of it. You have, maybe, if it works out on an untenable time frame, Peraza coming up to help out at 2B, at best. That’s it. That’s your pipeline of talent to fix the 2014 squad in 2015; Jose Peraza, who has not played above AA and is not a pitcher.

    The reason you have to rebuild is because the SYSTEM is broken. The FARM is kaput. The MINOR LEAGUE PIPELINE ain’t pumping talent. And without a minor league pipeline, this franchise with these owners simply will never, ever compete. They’re not going to find mid-range free agents to scotch tape shit back together into perpetuity.

    Patching for 2015 is the fanboy’s play. Rebuilding the farm is the grown man’s play. The plan they’re selling is that they’re going to have the rebuild done before 2017, for the new stadium. That’s why they’ signed Markakis. (The other reason, that more hardcore stat folks might not want to listen to, but which is true nonetheless, is that even in a rebuild you have to maintain a baseline of professionalism in the ML clubhouse, or else your 3-4 year plan turns into Pittsburgh, 1993-2013.

    This team will not be very good in 2015. They’ll be in the low 70s for wins, probably. Maybe high 70s if it bounces their way once or twice. But that’s the price you pay for having your entire farm be unproductive for 5-6 drafts in a row (yes, I, Mike Minor and Alex Wood, who are both starting in the bigs within two years of being drafted; but that’s the problem – you can’t build a SYSTEM on that sort of lottery ticket gaming.)

    Patch fixing for a WC run in 2015 gets you a wing and a prayer in 2015, and then an absolute, unqualified, no-questions asked, three or more seasons of losing 100ish games collapse in 2016.

  17. Put that way, I agree, the Braves FO had no choice. My premise was wholly based on the very unrealistic expectation that Liberty would increase the payroll.

  18. I hate it as much as anyone, but it absolutely is/was a necessary rebuild. Our farm system is completely depleted, one of the worst in the majors. Our existing team just came off a 79 win season. We lost 2 of our SP’s via FA. Our two best players were one year away from FA. I hate that we are doing it, but 35% of our payroll is being sucked up by BJ, CJ, and Uggla. We need these guys to rebound somewhat so we can unload them to someone at the break or next offseason.

    Uggla’s off the books next season and hopefully one of BJ/CJ will be. I think with the money left Yoan Moncada should be a realistic target. Let him go to AAA until he can replace CJ.

  19. @25

    The “fanboy” option isn’t as brain-dead as you make it out to be because it doesn’t involve leaving the farm as is.

    The Justin Upton trade and the Nick Markakis signing are part of it. Trading Kimbrel would be part of it. Signing Toscano is part of it. Trading Jordan Walden is probably part of it. Those are the moves that put real players back in the minor leagues and put legitimate major leaguers in one or two positions for the big league club.

    At that point, you’ve got another ~$17 million in the budget to shore up one infield position (either a semi-decent second baseman or a platoon partner for Johnson) and try to find a couple reliable guys for the bench, and fill 2 rotation slots. Tall order, for sure. It’s definitely a wing and a prayer for 2015; it definitely depends on somebody from last year’s squad to hit better than in 2014. It’s definitely no good bet that it actually takes us to the playoffs. But that’s better than a sure bet that we don’t come close.

    It definitely doesn’t handicap the system moving forward. It strengthens it.

  20. In the beginning, I think the FO tried to have it both ways. The return from the Upton trade transformed this year from retool/rebuild to just rebuild. Hart said that they wanted something like what we got for Heyward. An MLB ready player and a prospect. No such luck.

  21. No, it doesn’t strengthen the system. Flipping your two about-to-go-FA corner OFs for young, cost controlled talent does that. 17m doesn’t fill jack shit for you in this market. Brett Anderson gets 10m for a year of talking to the training staff on this market. AJ Burnett gets 8.5 mil per. So, there you go. That’s your 17m, plus, on Brett Anderson and AJ Burnett. You still have a gaping hole in CF, Chris Johnson at 3B, and Jason Heyward looking for 25m per in 2016.

    It doesn’t work. I, like most fans, would prefer to Mark Cuban to buy the team and hand the front office a 250m per year payroll. But we live in a world where Liberty owns this team, and that’s not an option here.

    And if Heyward had signed an extension, and Kimbrel had not, they would have traded Kimbrel. Heyward doesn’t help them put asses in seats in 2017 when he walks in 2016. That’s why he was traded. The idea that he was going to resign in Atlanta for less than 20m per year annual is just wishcasting.

  22. Liberty could increase payroll to Yankee’s level and we would still have problems. Liberty is not the problem. We are a mid market team with mid market salaries. This is not a surprise. Last time I checked the Yankee’s weren’t exactly dominating with the biggest payroll in baseball.

    If we get our farm system headed in the right direction and improve pitching depth we have a chance to compete for many years. We have a chance to do that now in a few years. The next two years will be a crap shoot, but I’m not giving up yet. I started following the Braves at the end of Hank Aaron’s career and we aren’t in anywhere near as bad a shape as we were in those years.

  23. Part of me wanted to believe that we had enough fingers to put into the dam. Even after Heyward was traded. Silly me. Liberty increased payroll to get Santana. I thought they would do it again.

    Y’all are right, the Braves need to rebuild. Its too bad that I can’t sit and watch and listen to Pete and Skip like I did in the bad old 80’s.

  24. Our biggest issue isn’t the bad contracts, it we have drafted poorly and can’t cover up BJ or Johnson.

    Did the Braves thing Chipper would play forever? We have a massive hole at third base in our system and have had for a decade. Mark DeRosa was our real last attempt at one.

    The Braves have to draft and develop players much better than they have shown over the last decade.

  25. Well, we developed Prado, who was a fine third baseman. We traded him and Brandon Drury, who’s looking like a decent prospect, for Justin Upton, in a terrific trade that worked out for us in spades. We traded Jon Gilmore, who flamed out but had enough value to be able to help us get Javier Vazquez in what may have been the most successful trade of Frank Wren’s tenure.

    The issue isn’t that we haven’t had any third basemen, it’s that we haven’t kept any of them, and we failed to restock the farm adequately after a lot of win-now trades that were defensible at the time, but, much like the Teixeira trade, ultimately failed to put us over the top.

  26. 100% of Wren’s (legitimate and in any way relevant to fans) problem was bad drafting and non-existent hitter development in the minors. Not bad FA contracts – every team that spends money has those and wise guiding father Hart has already in his short tenure inked at least one of them. So just start drafting better. Stop taking low-upside college arms and stop having your team president sit on the board that enforces slot caps. Find someone in the whole world that knows how to scout and/or develop hitting. None of that requires two-years-minimum of not trying to win. If Justin/Heyward don’t re-sign then get two more draft picks as compensation for them.

  27. @30

    1.) Flipping one corner outfielder and the best closer in the game for young, cost-controllable talent absolutely strengthens the system. So….what are you talking about?
    2.) The holes aren’t any worse than in 2013. The Braves had a chance for 2015 the minute Erv turned down his qualifying offer.
    3.) Did somebody say something about extending Heyward? I sure didn’t. You don’t extend Heyward if you can’t afford it. You do play the guy while he’s completely affordable. Then you let him walk if you don’t think you can pony up for his turn in free agency. It’s not rocket science, and it’s not wish-casting.

    We had a chance to stay competitive while putting good players into the minor leagues. Instead, we’ve decided to tank while putting Shelby Miller on the major league roster and putting the same good players into the minor leagues.

    Shelby Miller is (maybe, hopefully) not nothing. But he’s not worth the gamble that we’ll be able to sink the ship and build something that floats again sometime soon.

  28. I’d like to see us flip Minor for a bat or two. I don’t trust that shoulder holding up. One more injury prone year may put him in the nontender category

  29. I’m not as big a Minor fan as some, and I’m not against trading him as a general rule. But I don’t get why we would sell low, which is what we’d be doing if we trade him now.

    My understanding is, his problems this season all stemmed from his, uh, original injury. So if he protects his urethra this offseason, he should be fine.

  30. @44

    Yeah, Minor has little value at this point. In fact, he is more valuable to us than other teams.

  31. I wouldn’t trade Minor. The strength of this current rendition of the Braves is the starting pitching. If Minor returns to 2013 form we are formidable in that department.

  32. I mean, we’re not trying to win right now and we are trying to restock our farm right now. So I wouldn’t not trade Minor. It just seems better to let him reestablish his value and shop him at the deadline or something.

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