The Jadeite Jewel: Throw and Tell

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: 180˚ Genius vs. Showing Off the Arm

180˚ Genius

Editor’s Pitch: Simmons’s instincts on this play are crazy. After he was forced to change his route, he still wanted to try to get two. The problem was, he had to run back to the bag to get the first out, which put his back squarely toward first. How does he choose to compensate for that? By jumping and spinning 180˚ and throwing mid-air. Seriously, who does that? The throw wasn’t great, but it was certainly catchable. Had Freddie been able to catch it, this would have been one of the coolest double plays I have ever seen.

Showing Off the Arm

Editor’s Pitch: Simmons’s arm strength is incredible. I really want to see him throw off of a mound. This play’s brilliance is in its simplicity. This ball certainly looked like a hit off the bat, but Simmons fielded it without any fanfare. He then completed a strong enough throw that the play at first wasn’t even close. It may not be his most flashy piece of work, but it is one worth lauding.

47 thoughts on “The Jadeite Jewel: Throw and Tell”

  1. I completely forgot about the one that hit off Harangutan’s glove. If Freeman scoops the throw, that’s in Andrelton’s top 5 of all-time.

  2. I don’t know if they percentage of balls caught that were in the dirt (seems like it comes up a lot, and errors don’t really capture it), but I thought Freddie took a step back on that this year. Not a big step back, but he just seemed to be great at that in the first years.

  3. Found that stat for catchers, some references to “fielding difficult throws”, it’s bound to be out there.

  4. Listened to two great 2014 albums last night for the first time. Sturgill Simpson. Future. I’m sure several of you have heard the former; I hope some of you have found your way to the latter. On a related note: 12 years later, I’m still waiting for Killer Mike’s lyrics to catch up with his flow.

  5. Showing Off the Arm is one of those classic “much harder than he makes it look” plays. The range and arm strength on display is amazing.

    I’d have given it to the 360 play if he made a better throw.

  6. Somebody said in the last thread that Smoltz will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I want that, but I don’t see it happening. Have you looked at the candidates this year? Apparently, the HOF hasn’t seen four players inducted in one year since 1955 or something. So, it will be (I think) Pedro, Unit, and Craig Biggio. Smoltz will have to wait, I’m afraid.

  7. He’s been on 90% of the known ballots so far, so he is certainly on pace. Rightly or wrongly, he is getting a big boost for the perception of his versatility, and I believe he also benefits from voters seeking to “dot the i”, so to speak, on the Braves Big Three. Pedro and Unit are guaranteed first ballot guys, and right now Smoltz is just behind them in the voting – in front of guys like Biggio, Schilling, and Mussina.

  8. I think winning a Cy Young is major element putting him past Mussina and Schilling in the eyes of voters. He also seems to be more liked by people in the game, but being the best in your league at least once means a lot.

  9. In a bit of a music rut. Could use some direction. Artists I enjoy: Black Keys, Honey Dewdrops, Wailin’ Jennys, Little Feat, the Killers, Larkin Poe, Eric Lindell, Pearl Jam, Mumford and Sons, Dropkick Murphys, The Dubliners.

    Guilty pleasures: Queen, GNR, Justin Timberlake, Scissor Sisters, ZZ Top, AWOLNation.

  10. Eyeballing Sickels’ prospect lists from 2014, weighing acquired players’ seasons from last year giving them +/- half grade for good/poor seasons, and combining that with Sickels’ November list of Braves top-20, I think the Braves now have 12 B+/B- prospects in Peraza, Sims, Fried, Banuelos, J.Peterson, Bethancourt, Jenkins, Albies, B.Davidson, Vizcaino, Kubitza, and Hursh. Mallex Smith had a very good year last year and was a C- prospect. Could’ve very well been knocked up to B- status, and I’m not sure if Toscano counts as a prospect or no, but could very well get a B- rating. At the minimum, 12 guys with B ratings. That makes the current system very comparable with 2009, with the obvious “can’t miss” A prospect. It couldn’t be more obvious, the Braves are stockpiling B prospects whom they think have potential to becomes As.

  11. Banuelos was C+, waiting to see how his stuff and command recovered. They haven’t yet recovered (I think they will).

  12. I think I’ve been higher on Peraza than most, especially most here. I think his skills translate extremely well as a plus middle-infield defender and plus baserunner. He doesn’t have that high a ceiling, but his floor is pretty high. I guess I’m factoring the low bust potential into the equation.

    I’m also very low on Vizcaino because of 2 TJ’s and not a lot of actual success. Hated that trade.

  13. Vizcaino hasn’t had two Tommy Johns. I don’t know why that keeps getting repeated.

    He’s another guy that the Yankees shut down instead of going through with the surgery, and when he became the Braves property before 2010, they were aware he might eventually require the surgery. And that happened, before the 2012 season. We traded him while he was still on the 60 man DL, and he DID end up needing a second surgery, but an arthroscopic one, to remove a calcium buildup. But the second procedure required the Cubs to shut him down for 6 weeks before basically starting his rehab over from square one.

    It’s one of those things. Sometimes the conservative route doesn’t work. Sometimes guys have setbacks. Sometimes both of those happen to the same player and it stalls his development.

    So now he’s running out of time. He has minor league options remaining in a strict sense (in the sense that he hasn’t been on a 40 man roster enough years to run out of options) but because of the service time he’s accrued while being on Major League disabled lists, he has to clear Optional Waivers before he’s sent down.

    So now here’s a guy who made 10 starts in 2009, before being shut down, 17 starts in 2010 because the Braves wanted to take it easy on him too, then was moved to the bullpen in mid-way through 2011, a season which he started at High-A and ended up making 17 appearances in the big leagues, before actually requiring the surgery he lost all that development time to prevent. So on top of all that, now he can’t be sent back to the minors to see if some of that immense potential can be recovered (He was our Number 2 prospect when we acquired him, right behind Julio Teheran. At that time it was reasonable to wonder which of them would be the better Major Leaguer.)

    So he’s out of time to become Pedro Martinez. But he’s still young enough that he could become Rafael Soriano. That’s not nothing.

  14. John Smoltz, the self-important jackass that he is, is going to be elected on the first ballot. He’s over 90% of public ballots. I don’t think Piazza or Biggio creep past 75 this year, so you’ll have a three man podium of Petey, Randy and Smoltzie.

  15. #14
    If you’re into Dropkick Murphys & Dubliners, I’ll assume you’ve listened to The Pogues, a band the Murphys quite obviously worship. If not, try The Pogues “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” or “Rum, Sodomy & The Lash” or one of its various best-of collections. Shane MacGowan’s best songs are timeless.

    Ever listen to Nick Cave? For sheer entertainment (of the dark variety), try “Murder Ballads.” Quite a body count. It’s like 10 little movies. Otherwise, his most recent, “Push the Sky Away,” is a beautiful, yet mostly quiet record. Still, the dark stories are there.

    Mumford & Sons, eh? If you’ve dipped your toe into the English folk stuff, why not try Richard Thompson? Great singer/songwriter & an incredible guitar player. Lotsa great stuff to chose from, but I’ll offer 3: “Rumor & Sigh” (a straight-up solo joint) or “Turn Out The Lights” or “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” (a pair of classics with his ex-wife Linda).

    Black Keys? Nothing against those guys, but how ‘bout the real thing? Here’s a great blues record: Magic Sam’s “West Side Soul.” Terrific tremolo guitar & ultra-soulful vocals—-perfect mix of Chicago & Memphis from 1967.

    GNR? Ever listen to Aerosmith’s “Rocks”? That created the template of Sunset Strip sleaze rock—and GNR borrowed it best, IMO. Nine songs in 34+ minutes. All killer, no filler (OK, maybe the last song…)

    As for newer stuff, that Sturgill Simpson record (“Metamodern Sounds in Country Music”) is outstanding. His vocals will grab you, but his lyrics will astound. “Dereconstructed” by Lee Bains III & The Gloryfires is a blazing, rock record about growing up in the modern South (and all that means these days). Ex Hex’s “Rips” is a perfect punk-pop album. If the Ramones or Buzzcocks were gals & had more harmonies, they would be Ex Hex. TV on the Radio’s “Seeds” is kinda like Radiohead—-a heady mix of rock & electronics—-but somehow more catchy.

    Happy listening.

  16. Holy Smokes, ububba! Thanks for putting in the time to make that list. I took a pic of it so I can research mo’ betta.

  17. As I get older and older, and as the modern tech makes it easier and easier for musicians to self-produce great albums on shoestring budgets, it gets really hard to keep up with “new music.” That said, here are my favorite albums from last year. (By this I mean albums I listened to in heavy, heavy rotation last year, that were released in 2014. This arbitrarily limits out releases from 2013 that stayed in heavy rotation, but such is life.) I haven’t gotten around to doing a “countdown” type list, so I’ll go with alphabetical.

    Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (punk)
    Alvvays – Alvvays (dreampop)
    Amy Ray – Goodnight Tender (country)
    Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker (blues rock)
    Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin (punk)
    Cerebral Ballzy – Jaded & Faded (punk)
    Chumped – Teenaged Retirement (punk)
    Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else (punk)
    Code Orange Kids – I Am King (hardcore)
    Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown (thrash metal/punk)
    Fucked Up – Glass Boys (hardcore)
    Hooray For the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes (country)
    James – La petite mort (pop/chamber pop)
    Jolie Holland – Wine Dark Sea (americana/country)
    Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again (punk pop)
    JPNSGRLS – Circulation (punk pop)
    The Lees of Memory – Sisyphus Says (pop/chamber pop)
    Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else (americana/country)
    Manchester Orchestra – COPE/HOPE (rock)
    Mastadon – Once More ‘Round the Sun (metal)
    The Menzingers – Rented World (punk pop)
    Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All (I guess I have to admit this is basically emo)
    Odonis Odonis – Hard Boiled Soft Boiled (garage punk)
    Old 97’s – Most Messed Up (americana/country)
    The Rural Alberta Advantage – Mended With Gold (pop/chamber pop)
    Say Hi – Endless Wonder (pop)
    Shakey Graves – And The War Came (blues rock)
    Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music (americana/country)
    Violent Soho – Hungry Ghost (punk pop)
    Warpaint – Warpaint (dream pop)
    Weatherbox – Flies In All Directions
    Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In the End

  18. @18
    I stand corrected and relieved. I read it in a trade analysis and groaned. My opinion on the trade is improved somewhat, though still negative.

  19. If this story about Uggla’s health issue is true, and the remedy that simple, then I’ll echo previous calls by posters on this illustrious site that the Braves medical staff needs to be fired. Where was Marquis Grissom 2 years ago?

    Have to scroll through a bit before the Uggla story.

    @14 – No reason to feel guilty about any of those pleasures! Except JT. For that you should feel shame.

  20. It didn’t come out this year, but here’s a single track from an album I really like by a band I really like.

  21. Until proven wrong, I’m going to drop “oculomotor dysfunction” and the magic two weeks of exercises to fix it right in there with “platelet rich blood infusions” as “homeopathic bullshit you can sell athletes in decline, on the strength of their ego driven refusal to admit they’re in decline.”

  22. mavery, I really dig that. Reminds me of our homegrown talent down here on 30A, Dread Clampitt. Anyone ever been to the Red Bar in Grayton Beach and heard them? Spectacular! Sam Bush plays with them quite often in the offseason. Many not in the know of who Sam Bush is don’t realize what a treat their ears are getting for free 15 feet away from the band. Here they are singing Bayou Country:

  23. I think someone mentioned St Paul & The Broken Bones earlier, but it bears repeating. Straight soul out of B’ham.

  24. @19–Counting the number of B- or better prospects in a given system really doesn’t get you very far. For example, the Cubs currently have the same number as the Braves, but their top four prospect include 3 As and an A-, all guys that project to be impact ML hitters. We still have zero such players, whereas in 2009 we had both Heyward and Freeman.

    In short, unlike in 2009 our system is still bottom third, but you are right, at least it is trending in the right direction.

  25. It’s so aggravating that every prospect guru has to have their own patented ranking system. I get that they want to distinguish themselves from each other, but when they inevitably start assigning “borderline B-“‘s, it all starts to lose its meaning. Isn’t this why the 20-80 scale was created?

  26. @33
    Their system is more mature than the Braves current system with 3 guys that have climbed the prospect ladder the last 3 years and are now major league ready. They’ve also been bloody awful for my lifetime and have traded away every chip they have to get to the point they are today. Comparing the Braves system to the Cubs system isn’t a valid exercise as the Cubs have 3 of the top-10 prospects in baseball, a feat no other team can touch. No one stated the Braves current system was comparable to the best Minor League system in baseball.

    It’s easy to say the Braves have no players comparable to Heyward or Freeman because we’ve already seen what Heyward and Freeman can do. However, back in ’09, we had not, and Freeman was a B+ prospect, and Heyward was our 1 can’t miss. I do agree that the Braves lack the can’t miss prospect, as the lack of an A ranking suggests.

    With that being said, the Braves have 13 B prospects, and I’d say of the 13, 8 of them have potential to rank higher in the future should they not make the bigs this year for an extended time. Likely, Hursh, Vizcaino, Kubitza, Jace Peterson, and Bethancourt have topped out. There’s not a can’t miss prospect on that list, but there very well could be by this time next year…maybe more than one. That’s why I compared this crew to the 2009 Braves farm system, not the 2011 season when the Braves had 3 A prospects. This system has the chance to do just that…or the chance to flake out. Holding breath!

  27. Ryan speaks true. Until he got to the Bigs and hit, Freddie Freeman was a B, B- type who needed to convert his doubles into HRs.

  28. Well…he still sort of needs to convert his doubles to home runs. There’s still nothing similar to Teheran or Heyward in the system, and that’s a really big problem if you’re a team incapable of obtaining stars through means other than developing them, as are the Braves.

  29. @ 31
    A few years back I went to a bluegrass festival in Grand Targhee. While introducing Sam Bush the first night, the MC mentioned that if ever given the opportunity, one should talk baseball with him. So the next day I was having a burger at one of the resort’s restaurants, when who should sit at the next table but… Sam Bush. So if course I had to talk baseball. Hell of a nice, approachable guy, and he knows his baseball. I can even forgive him for being a Cardinals fan.

  30. @38- Wrong. Sickels, whose system happens to be the one we are talking about, had Freeman as a B+/A- as early as 2008. His wrist injury made him a B+ in 2009 and the following year but he was back to an A-. Freeman was never a B, let alone a B-.

    @36- The fact remains that regardless of hindsight, both Heyward and Freeman projected to be better hitters than anyone we currently have in the system, by a rather wide margin (Peraza’s projected value is chiefly defense and speed). The gap between an A or an A- and a B or B- can be huge and casual fans might take comfort in having a volume of marginal prospects and wildcards but I suspect rival GMs would happily trade all 13 of the Braves top prospects for any two of the Cubs top four. Speaking of GMs, Rosenthal claims that they are so far unimpressed with Hart’s moves:

  31. @20

    Biggio looks good, having picked up most of this year’s new voters so far reported, as well as a net +3 from folks who voted last year. Seeing as he was only–one vote? two votes?–shy last year, I’ll bet he’s already moved enough to get in.

    I don’t have any real prediction on Piazza, but with the sort of mini-surge he’s seen so far, the fat lady certainly isn’t singing yet for this year. If he misses he barely misses.

    In general the voters seem to be doing a nice job this year. Support is up significantly for Schilling, Mussina, and Raines, and it’s up a tick for Bagwell. Not perfect, but not too shabby.

  32. @41
    Freeman did finally get his A status in 2011, but not until then. Sickels quite often talks about moving guys up but then his comments suggest he just couldn’t pull the trigger. He most definitely wasn’t up to an A status following the year you mentioned.

    I’m not so sure I’m really impressed with the Braves’ offseason…yet. There’s a lot of uncertainty in doing what the Braves have done. However, I’ll give the new regime the benefit of the doubt for 2 years before I start heavily criticizing. If all goes well, the Braves could have a dynamic starting pitching staff for years to come and heavy doses of speed and athleticism all around the diamond. Or, there could be 5 Kyle Davies and 6 Jose Constanzas. We shall see.

  33. @43
    I have a good friend that is Garth Brooks’ stage manager and he got to hang out with Justin for a few days. He said he was a great dude, but I’m sure he wouldn’t say otherwise just in case it leaked back to the media.My real love for JT’s music is really due to my love for Timbaland and Pharrell’s mixing, especially Pharrell.

    @Thoughts on the article from Rosenthal:
    In my opinion, the curve ball that would have the GMs questioning Hart’s moves is the signing of Nick Markakis. I’m sure they just don’t see it as fitting in with the rest of the offseason’s moves as it makes them wonder:

    “Is he rebuilding or not? Can’t have it both ways!”

    I can understand that questioning on the surface, but knowing the Braves problems of the past 2 years as we all do, if the naysayers dig deeper, it’s a little more clear. The Braves chose to go with a hitting coach that preached contact due to the insane amount of strikeouts that led to last year’s collapse. The Braves also saw that there was a lack of veteran leadership on the club last year and could have contributed that to the September swoon. Killing 2 birds with one stone, the Braves chose to replace the beloved Heyward with a player with strong leadership and contact skills to guide the players in a new direction. It makes sense. Will it work? I’m not so sure.

    @ The Braves offseason…
    There’s no doubt that the Braves are playing their own form of Moneyball this offseason by taking advantage of a market inefficiency, targeting TJ surgery victims/castoff that have lost their glamour. Fried, Banuelos, Vizcaino, and Winkler were the major targets and all have high ceilings. Should each reach their peak form, the Braves have 3 #2-3 type starters and a shut-down reliever.

    However, on the opposite end, the Braves are exploiting the market inefficiency of overpaying for relievers/closers at the trade deadline as they targeted former closers as potential sell-high candidates should the team fall out of contention. In my opinion, signing both Grilli and J.Johnson was a brilliant move by Hart. Should either find their former dominance, some closer hungry competitor will give a top-10 prospect for their services. Grilli, due to the fact that he could be under control through 2018, could bring back 2 top-10 prospects, and that would be wonderful.

    I also think they’re looking for a sell-high type starter and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Chad Billingsley. Like Grilli, I bet they’d like to get a starter on a reasonable 2 year deal, therefore if the team falls out of contention, they could sell high again and get a larger return. Billingsley on a 2 year/16MM deal with a 10MM option would be awesome! Last year, the Braves were going to get a good piece for Gavin Floyd at the trade deadline, then he done went a broked his elbow. If the Braves signed Billingsley, and all of the other remaining starters stayed healthy, either Banuelos or Hale could slide into his place to finish the season.

    Keep buying low. Keep selling high.

  34. …those of us born in the 30’s have also been reviewing our most played tracks of the past year…the list has its own durability – you know, we suspect, like us, they’ll be around a bit longer.

    Lilly the Pink… The Scaffold
    Not a second time…Beatles
    Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear…Alan Price
    Yellowbrick Road…Elton John
    Begin the Beguine…Ella Fitzgerald
    Blue Suede Shoes…Carl Perkins
    You can keep your Hat on…Joe Cocker
    What’s my Name?… Snoop Doggy Dog
    Slim Shady…Eminem
    Rocket Man…the guy who sang it out in space.

    So, you can see, it is only with age comes wisdom. Rest awhile.

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