The Jadeite Jewel: Is This Real Life?

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 Cannon vs. A League of His Own

The Cannon

Editor’s Pitch: No matter how many times I watch Simmons do the impossible, I still am amazed by it. He pounces on this ball then has to slide to stop his momentum from going toward left field. All of that, and he still has time to stand, turn, and throw the runner out by a step. The whole thing is incredible, but he makes it look effortless. I feel like I’ve written that before.

A League of His Own

Editor’s Pitch: He’s not fair. He’s really just not fair.

145 thoughts on “The Jadeite Jewel: Is This Real Life?”

  1. The double play. Never seen a guy make as many plays on the grass as him, but I’m going with the double play.

    Really excited to see Thurman and Winkler. The rest of the picks I have a good read on, but I think those two (especially Thurman) might have more than meets the eye.

  2. @spike from the previous thread,

    Right. That’s the perfectly said unabridged version of what I’m upset about. But if you treat all of that as a given–an imperative of fate or physics or providence–then it’s hard, for me at least, to be upset about the trades. The Braves have done a really good job of collecting a good, diverse group of prospects.

  3. “When the going gets tough, EVERYBODY PANIC AND BAIL.”

    Thank you, Stu.

    I take spike’s points and criticisms seriously, but I don’t think you can compete as a mid-market payroll without a fully functioning farm system, and I don’t think we had one of those. I think the tear-down was made necessary the week we lost Medlen and Beachy to TJ surgeries last spring. Before that week, we had a young, talented, cost controlled starting rotation 6 or 7 deep, with a few pieces in process in the minors. We had limited money to spend to keep patching the offense.

    After that week, we had two gaping holes in the rotation as well as on-going patch fixes in the lineups, with looming free agencies on the way. The day the Braves went from “contend and tweak pieces” to “rebuild” was the day they lost both of those guys to second TJ surgeries.

  4. After stewing over the Gattis trade for a while, I guess the plan is to cross your fingers and hope Peraza and Ruiz work out. If they do, you’ve got a Freeman/Peraza/Simmons/Ruiz infield, which is pretty solid. The team has enough young pitching for two teams and can spin quality relievers out of straw, so even if some of them bust there aren’t many worries there. So you need to find two outfielders and, if Bethancourt doesn’t work out, a catcher. You have Minor and perhaps Kimbrel to deal for those pieces, or maybe you can get a quick-moving college player in the draft, or you can devote Uggla’s salary to one of them. That’s doable.

    That’s as optimistic as I can be, I think. If neither Peraza nor Ruiz is a major league hitter, this team will be bad for a long time. Hopefully by the end of 2015 we will have a sense as to whether this is a plan with actual potential or not.

  5. 2017:

    C – Bethancourt or FA if Bethancourt fails
    1B – Freeman
    2B – Peraza
    SS – Simmons
    3B – Ruiz/D. Peterson/FA
    LF – D. Peterson/FA
    CF – M. Smith/FA
    RF – Markakis

    SP1 – Teheran
    SP2 – Wood
    SP3 – Miller
    SP4 – Minor
    SP5 – Sims/Folty/Banuelos/Fried

    Pen – Kimbrel + pieces

    It is perfectly possible that if two or three of the new pitching prospects rebound well we see Mike Minor dealt at the deadline.

  6. @4
    Don’t sleep on Jace Peterson, either. He could be a very good super-sub in that mix that earns a full-time starting gig at some point in his career.

    Mallex Smith could be that homegrown CF of the future we’ve been wanting for a while, and Markakis will be holding down RF. Making it a priority to put a thumper in LF by 2017 should be high on the Braves agenda.

    If all goes as planned, by 2017 the infield should be strong defensively, average offensively, the outfield the same, both really good on the basepaths, and the pitching extraordinary. A top-5 pitching staff to go along with kickass defense should make us pretty darned good.

  7. IMHO this team is missing ” rel=”nofollow”>just one key ingredient and then we’ll be ready for the season!

  8. Like Scrooge, I fear the visit of the ghost of Christmas yet to come most of all. It’s definitely possible this will all work out someday, but the prospect of two more lost years at a minimum with nothing to do but read Rita Skeeter over at the AJC on how Aj Pierzynski is just misunderstood is the bitterest of pills.

  9. We should have a cheap/very productive pitching staff for a very long time. Our best bet to compete short term is with good pitching and defense. I’d like to see us move CJ and play Callaspo at 3rd, which would be a defensive upgrade. Keep 2B open tryout for Peterson/Peraza/Gosselin. Then sign Aoki to play LF. Punchless lineup, but solid defensively.

    Trade deadline could be interesting depending on how average-bad we are. Grilli, Johnson, Kimbrel, Hale, Minor, CJ, Callaspo, and others could be useful pieces for teams.

  10. @6-I fail to understand how one can project a 2017 outfield to be average offensively when the only known commodity at this point is Markakis, who is already in decline and will by then be 2 years older. Our outfield currently projects to be somewhere between wretched and fucking terrible. Likewise with Peraza and Simmons on the infield the defense will surely be excellent, but, again, I fail to understand how one can project average production on offense when Peraza has never even seen big league pitching and 3B is a jagged, gaping hole.

    We can cross our fingers and pray that two or three of the prospects we have acquired turn into above average major league hitters but probability suggests otherwise. These are B prospects for a reason. Average is the CEILING on these guys.

  11. Markakis is going to be major toast by at least 2017, so we’ll have his salary sitting around but need a living, breathing RF to actually play. So IF Mallex Smith is something real, then boppers for LF AND RF will be required. If if if. Ugh.

  12. At this point, one could argue that Markakis was necessary:
    – in order to deceive other GMs into thinking, before we traded Upton, that maybe, just maybe we were still in fact going for it this year… in which case, nice try, Hart, but no cigar
    – in order to deceive fans into thinking we’d be competitive enough to watch this season… something tells me, ain’t gonna happen

    Aoki is still sitting out there, and not because he’s asking for more dollars/years than Markakis. Just bad. Just plain bad.

  13. It’s a tough time to be glass-half-full but I’m going to give it a shot. I didn’t want to lose our three best players but I totally understand the why’s of it. Personally I would have probably tried to win in 2015 because odds are that we’re going to not be back to that level of competitiveness for a long long time, but I can’t argue much with maximizing the returns for our assets (two of whom were 100% out the door in 2016 no matter what).

    Here’s the positive angle: we are stockpiling pitching. Some of it is really good right this minute. Some of it is mostly potential, and some of it is pretty risky. I’ve been watching this team since the early 70’s. I know we can win with pitching. The early 90’s teams featured three or four guys in the lineup that were automatic outs. Granted there were a few good hitters in the mix too, but it certainly wasn’t a scary lineup.

    I watched the terribad Braves teams same as I’ll watch next year’s team. If things fall right there’s a decent chance that we win more games than last season. If things go wrong and the pitching injury gods smite us down again then we might lose 110 games. But I’m going to wait until the 2015 is well underway before I give up.

  14. I get Spike’s lament too, but I get that without more money to spend on payroll the Brave’s where hamstrung. The all in on the rebuild strategy is risky but its actually the safer bet. We needed too much with too little to continue to tweak and compete.

  15. Signing Markakis wasn’t a bad deal. On a team like this, he will be a good Vet for them to look to. He probably is a strong clubhouse guy. I know that sounds dumb, but young teams need guys like that.

    If Minor and CJ get off to a hot start, I bet we can get a nice return on them.

  16. Keith Law thinks the Braves robbed the Astros. “Hey, it’s not like I’ve ever been wrong about Gattis before, amiright?”

  17. Rob is too strong a word–but we got two very good prospects for a guy who’s a huge question mark once you look past the next two seasons.

  18. We don’t do rational analysis of EOB very well, as Braves fans. We tend to ignore his health profile, which isn’t good, and pretend he’s going to play 150 games behind the dish while hitting 35 HRs. We ignore his OBP. These are things outside analysts don’t do. We got good return from Houston on this deal.

  19. Apparently the idea that we could compete with J. Upton, Heyward, and Gattis was considered a joke, but who in 2017 out of our “haul” is going to match the production we got from even one of them last year?

    And we are not a mid-market team, we are a small-market* team. The market has changed dramatically, and we are watching it sail away.

    *In the sense that actual market size is irrelevant; Liberty has plenty of money to spend, but elects not to.

  20. @19. Right, stated differently we got two question marks for a guy who might be a question mark somewhere down the road (but right now costs the minimum and possesses an abundance of the single most valuable skill in the game).

  21. The Atlanta Braves are spending 100 million dollars on their payroll in their rebuild year. They are a mid-market team by audience size, with a mid-market payroll from ownership. The A’s who don’t break 40 million are a small market payroll. The Royals, with an audience size about 1/3 of Atlanta’s natural market are a small market team.

  22. Rusty at 21,

    But that is the point of why not to blow it up.

    There WAS another path that management did not choose.

    In corporate America every day when somebody messes up a division, they post a writeoff and forget about the cost created by the executive on the way out. Liberty has done business that way before. All they had to do was let Uggla and 80% of BJ NOT count against payroll, and then the whole thing would work.

  23. Pretty wild that 3 of the top 15 position players in fWAR over the last three years (Zobrist, Donaldson, Heyward) were traded this offseason. Desmond (#17 in the same span) might move, too.

    On the pitching side of things, Lester (#9) (twice) and Price (#6) have moved since July, and few will be surprised if Hamels and/or Zimmermann get shipped off as well (#’s 11 and 12, respectively).

    I cannot remember so many big trades going down in such a short time span.

    Edit: Okay, Lester’s only been traded once. Still, end times are upon us.

  24. @23 The Braves’ payroll was 111 million last season and THAT made them a mid-market team. Their payroll is currently well below that, and in fact it could well fall below that of the Royals, who last year had a payroll of 92.5 million.

    The A’s, by the way, had a payroll of 83.5 million to start the year and actually added salary over the course of the season. But hey, that’s almost 40 million, amiright?

  25. In corporate America every day when somebody messes up a division, they post a writeoff and forget about the cost created by the executive on the way out. Liberty has done business that way before. All they had to do was let Uggla and 80% of BJ NOT count against payroll, and then the whole thing would work.

    This was absolutely, 100%, never happening. “Liberty” could have done this, but the Braves couldn’t have. The Braves have a budget from Liberty, and a multi-year plan to hit goals and targets on. All this amounts to is wishcasting that the Braves were not owned by a corporate entity. Which, hey, I’m down with that wishcast (though Arthur Blank’s micromanaging of the Falcons is a caution flag against the dream of a single billionaire owner as well.) But it’s still just a wish and a coin in dirty well water.

  26. Braves currently have payroll obligations of only 79.5 million for next year. The only unknown is Mike Minor’s arbitration figure and whether some of the guys signed to minor league deals like Wandy make the team. Royals are currently at 81.5 million, but have at least eight arbitration cases. Even if we sign Aoki our payroll is coming in below the Royals this season. There is also a good chance our payroll comes in below 95 million, which should be about where the salary range for the bottom third of the league begins. So you can definitely make the case the Braves are very much on the cusp of being a small market team.

    But really the picture is so much bleaker than that. Right now our payroll is 15+ million BELOW the league average. As of right now our 2017 payroll commitments are 31+ million ABOVE the league average. In fact we already have more salary committed in 2017 than our current payroll. And that figure does not include any arbitration projections. Minor is gone. The front office is just praying he pitches like an ace and they get value in return. Maybe you can lock up Miller or Wood with a shit ton of deferred money, but the only way to get to a league average offense is to sign at least two free agents, and no amount of deferred money makes that possible without Liberty approving a massive payroll increase. Good luck with that.

  27. @27

    We spend all this time trying to figure out what the Braves problems are and how to fix them but when it comes down to it, it’s because the owners are not invested in how well the team does. You can’t escape that fact so tell us all you will about how it’s just wishful thinking and we shouldn’t waste time wondering what would happen if we had a real owner but THAT is the problem. Everything else is just collateral damage.

    Spike made a great post in the last thread about how management could have chosen to tweak the roster and contend this year while still building a better farm system but they chose not to. Like it was too hard to find a way to sign quality players to buttress the core of a team that won 96 games 2 years ago and was in first place last July so they gave up in pursuit of a better Baseball America ranking. The PROMISE of potential is just a way to continually hold out hope for unknown quantities but no guarantee of anything but short term loss.

  28. @21 I don’t think the question was can we compete with Gattis, Heyward and JUpton but can we compete without Santana and Harang. And having to carry BJ, CJ and Simmons’ weak bat.

  29. @32-I am inclining towards the theory that Liberty already know that they will sell this team before opening day 2017. The stadium will be built and that narrative will largely obscure continuously declining attendance. The Baseball America rankings may not bring us any closer to fielding a league average offense but they will certainly be used to support a valuation of well over a billion dollars.

    What happens after that depends entirely on what kind of new owner the team finds.

  30. There is no reason to think the Braves will not field a payroll up to 120 million when they roll out of the rebuild.

    There is no reason to think the Braves *should* stack on payroll for the sake of payroll during the rebuild.

  31. Per Johnny @33, the question properly phrased is “can we compete with:

    Heyward
    Gosselin
    Freeman
    Upton
    Gattis
    CJohnson
    Simmons
    BJ

    backing up a rotation of

    Teheran
    Wood
    Minor
    Hale
    Pickles Schlosser

  32. @36, that’s good perspective. That team is pretty disgusting on paper too. So we’ve enhanced our strengths and weakened our weaknesses. I still think the 2015 version has a chance to have similar results to the 2014 as long as the pitchers are healhty.

  33. I guess I am one of the few that just accept that the Braves are owned by who owns them and that the payroll is what the payroll is. Believe me I hate that we aren’t in it for 2015, but with all the givens I am not sure that the Braves could have done anything else but what they have done this off season.

    edit: I root for the laundry. If the Braves were owned by a gentleman with a severe Oedipus complex like Jeff Loria I would probably have a harder time continuing.

  34. @36

    As Joe pointed out in #31, payroll commitments for 2017 are already close to $100 pre-arbitration. The team isn’t competing in 2017 if we have a payroll of $120 million.

  35. Also Sam, that team you listed in 36 still has something like $20 million available if you believe what management said earlier this year that there’s no mandate to lower payroll below what it was last year. They could sign Aoki, put Heyward in center and pluck a few cheap pitching vets (like I dunno, Wandy Rodriguez) and see who sticks at the back end of the rotation. That team underachieved last year and played .500 most of the way, if they flip around some of it it’s very possible to get in the playoffs with that squad. Worst case is you’re out of it by July and flip Heyward and Upton for what you can then but waiving the white flag before the season and “playing for 2017” is a big fuck you to fans and Atlanta as a whole.

  36. We had a solid Teheran and Wood as good a 1 and 2 in the bigs. An iffy Minor and then no one, maybe David Hale and a good bullpen.
    Your proposed outfield of Upton Heyward Aoki plus 4 games a week of Gattis at catcher has to offset CJ, Simmons and someone at second + Bethancourt every 5th game. Does 20 million – the money needed to pay for raises cover all the needs of the team? 2 starting pitchers, an outfielder (Aoki) and a bench?

    edit: Or you could say that deluding the fans into thinking we can actually compete in 2015 without spending any money and getting almost nothing for JUpton, Heyward and Gattis is a bigger eff you to the fans.

  37. If you think the team listed at 36 is a Nori Aoki signing plus a flyer on Wandy away from competing you’re impossibly embedded neck deep in the pie in the sky. I think it probably comes down to the theory that the 2014 team “underachieved last year.” They didn’t. They overachieved in 2013, and patch fixing the OF with Aoki wouldn’t have helped fix the fact that their rotation only went three starters deep at best. No amount of offensive “rebound” from Simmons or Johnson would have covered that either.

    EDIT: also, if you think a 2 year window of rebuilding after what amounts to two+ decades of constant competition is a “fuck you to the fans,” you’re a bit too entitled.

  38. What Sam said at #43. The Braves were more than tweaking away from being competitive. Getting an outfielder that can hit, probably a 2b, a bench and 2 starting pitchers is more than just tweaking.

    I wanted the Braves to try to play for 2015 but it was going to take a substantial increase in payroll to achieve that end.

  39. Sorry I would have also signed Medlen, made the trade for the Yankees kid and retooled scouting and development (like they did mostly) so you’ve got 4-5 guys competing for the last 2 rotation spots. If you find 2 competent guys to eat the innings Harang style then we have a decent chance. Getting BJ out of the lineup, keeping Gattis and catcher and finding someone league average at 2B (Gosselin, Callaspo, who knows) plus expected improvement for CJ and Simmons (especially if you can find someone to platoon CJ) and suddenly that lineup isn’t terrible.

    At the very least it’s an honest attempt at winning this year. Whether or not it makes me entitled to think that they should make an attempt at winning every year I don’t really care. Maybe you’re ok with the forthcoming 2 year rebuild that is magically supposed to work once they leave Atlanta but mostly it seems like they’ve cut ties with the city and aren’t gonna try until they leave. So I guess I am having a hard time coming to grips with why I should care.

  40. @35,@39-Exactly. 120 Million won’t come close. That is basically existing commitments, arbitration raises for Miller and Wood, plus one Pablo Sandoval. Still need to pay at least one more above average free agent (or trade for an expiring contract like JUpton) and fill out a bullpen and bench.

    And we haven’t even talked about the TJ surgeries that haven’t happened yet. What happens when we lose one or two of Teheran, Wood and Miller? I mean, everyone talks about how trading Gattis is a great move because of the injury risk, but Cox and Hart are putting all of their eggs in the elbow basket. For the past two decades GMs have been trying to build teams using Cox’s blueprint and injuries (or in the case of Billy Beane, budgetary constraints) have derailed them every single time.

  41. Sam, that was just what I was thinking. After 20 years of winning you eventually rot out and need to rebuild. It happens to all franchises.
    This team is years ahead of the dreaded 80s messes we saw as they have legitimate pitching already and some young pieces in place in Simmons and Freeman.
    Anything can happen, but as far as rebuilds go we are in a much better position then other teams that were in perpetual rebuilds(Astros, Pirates, Royals…)

  42. Any year where you’re actively not trying even a little bit to win while patting the fans on the head and telling them they should be excited about the farm system (or the draft, in the case of the NFL and NBA) is a “screw you” to the fans, no matter the circumstances. The Yankees could do that and it would be a “screw you” to the fans. It’s lazy GMing and it’s not necessary. I’m not owed a winning season every year, but I am owed an attempt to put the best possible product out on the field every year.

    Worse, though, this strategy puts you on a path where if you’re wrong about a fair number of the prospects, you’ve destroyed your franchise for the next decade. The only reason to do it as a GM is to make good and sure that you can’t be held responsible for the garbage-like stench emanating from the field for at least three years. Hart/Coppolella’s job security is not worth two years of bad baseball to me…sorry.

    And as far as the budget goes, I don’t know why everyone’s assuming that if we drop our budget to Kansas City levels this year, we’ll get that money back when we’re ready to compete. Isn’t it a well-worn tenet that you’d better use every part of your budget in any given year lest you lose what you didn’t spend the next year? Several franchises made money on shoestring budgets with bad baseball teams in the 90s. If Liberty discovers they can do that, I have absolutely no idea why they wouldn’t.

    In the end, if it works like it’s supposed to work and we get back to contention in 2017, these two years will be largely forgotten, just like the four years between playoff berths in the late 2000s are largely forgotten. However, I’m not at all sure that this is going to work. It might, but I’m not sure why everyone’s just assuming that it will. And if it doesn’t, we’re talking about an epic disaster that will level the franchise. Setting up a situation where either your strategy works or the franchise is destroyed (at least temporarily) seems like a really freaking bad idea to me. The only way out of this coin flip we’ve set up for ourselves now is if Liberty sells the team in the next couple of years.

  43. Okay. Dude. The Braves are not “leaving Atlanta.” They’re moving one kilometer – 1000 friggin’ meters – out of Fulton County into Cobb County. They are moving 12 miles, total, up I75. Are they technically exiting “City of Atlanta” (an entity that has about 700K population, maybe, on a good day, and doesn’t extend outside the perimeter?) Yeah. By about 1000 meters. The idea that they’re “leaving Atlanta” is just silliness. They’re moving up the interstate. Instead of being halfway between the city and College Park they’re going to be halfway between the city and Marietta.

  44. LOL. If you think the distance between Fulton and Cobb counties can only be measured in meters then there is no point in trying to have a conversation.

  45. Okay, my own personal uninformed estimates for three arbitration salaries:

    Mike Minor: 5,250,000
    David Carpenter: 1,500,000
    James Russell: 2,500,000

    Are those fair estimates or am I way over/under?

  46. If you think Cobb Galleria/Cumberland is not in “Atlanta” because the Cobb/Fulton line runs 1K meters to the southeast of it, you’re hopelessly stuck in some sort of cultural time warp. If they were moving to the north side of Marietta, or Alpharetta, or Roswell, or even Duluth (Gwinnett, not Cobb) you’d have a point. If they moved to Peachtree City or Stockbridge, yep, that’s not “Atlanta.” But Cobb fucking Galleria is Atlanta.

    Complain about the likely horrific traffic. Complain about the continued (willful) absence of transit other than single-family cars. Have at those lines of criticism. But pretending that the new stadium is anywhere but in “Atlanta” is fucking idiotic. Cobb Galleria is Atlanta. Smynings is Atlanta. Buckhead is Atlanta. O4W; Atlanta. East Purnt? Atlanta. Midtown? West Midtown? Brookhaven? Yep, yep, yep. Ackworth? No. Kennesaw? No. Both “metro area,” but not “Atlanta.”

    The new stadium is still in the damned city.

  47. @53

    I powered up my time machine, duh!

    Seriously, I’m doing an exercise in bizarro-Harting. I’d rather do it with accurate numbers.

  48. Estimates from MLBTR which are normally close:

    Braves (2)

    James Russell (5.000) – $2.4MM
    Mike Minor (3.138) – $5.1MM

  49. @49

    The Angels are just up the freeway from LA that doesn’t mean they’re not in Anaheim. The Braves showed no loyalty to the city and bailed for the best offer. Makes business sense for a corporate entity to go to the most profitable location, but a baseball team should represent more of a civic trust. Unfortunately the Braves aren’t really run as a baseball team, they’re run as a corporate subsidiary and hence… no loyalty.

  50. But @55, those lines of criticism are, at least for me, what makes the new stadium not in “Atlanta.”

    I live a couple blocks from a MARTA station on the east-west line, so lately I’ve had a habit of catching a train, going to Georgia State station, and walking the last mile up to the ballpark. No car, no fuss, and while it’s not the Red Line dropping you off in Wrigleyville it’s a pretty decent approximation of an urban baseball experience. City.

    New stadium experience will be drive, get stuck in traffic, park in a park and ride lot, maybe take some sort of tram over to the actual ballpark. Suburbs.

    I’d even call it “still in the damned city” if they built it at Doraville because this issue is my dividing line, as it creates a very different gameday experience. But not Galleria.

  51. There’s nothing resembling Atlanta in Cumberland. It’s office parks, highways and a mall. The proximity to Fulton County couldn’t be more irrelevant, if it was on the other side of the highway it wouldn’t make any difference except that I might have to pay taxes on this thing so I guess Cobb will just have to have fun with that.

  52. “New stadium experience will be drive, get stuck in traffic, park in a park and ride lot, maybe take some sort of tram over to the actual ballpark. Suburbs.”

    That’s exactly the current experience for the vast majority of fans that go to Turner Field. Exactly.

  53. @58,

    No business owes a city government for its existence.

    The city government of the city of Atlanta found 200 or so million to help the Falcons replace their 25 year old stadium. Yes, the alternative uses in conjunction with the Georgia World Congress Center make it more valuable as an event generator, but the City did not commit one penny to a redo at Turner to help the Braves get more revenue. They did commit to help the Falcons get more revenue. City of Atlanta made it clear that they weren’t putting money in at all.

    Not saying the city SHOULD put in the money, but loyalty ought to be a two way street.

  54. I’ll never understand the idea of I-285 as some sort of Berlin Wall-like entity and I’m from Atlanta proper. Have lived ITP all but two of the years I’ve lived here (and the two that I didn’t, you could literally see I-285 from my house). The non-existent dividing line that people perceive is ludicrous IMO. (And it’s just as ludicrous, if not more so, for OTPers to be anti-Atlanta, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.) I understand that people may not be able to go to as many games with the stadium in Cobb County, and therefore may not feel quite as attached to the team on every level, but the idea that moving to Cobb County is no different from moving to Winnipeg (to use a recent example) is so far beyond the pale to me, I don’t even know where to begin. The team represents the people in Alpharetta and Marietta and Duluth and wherever else just as much as it represents the City of Atlanta. They are all Atlanta. Atlanta is a metro area, not just a city. They aren’t really going anywhere.

    And by the way, the team probably wouldn’t be moving if the City of Atlanta had agreed to do anything to make the area down by the ballpark more palatable, so it’s kind of a two-way street.

  55. If the Yankees moved from the Bronx to New Jersey I bet a few people would be upset about that but you know it’s not like they moved to Winnipeg so why should anyone care?

  56. @63 – correct. Because the vast majority of fans that go to Turner Field are from the suburbs, which is why the Braves are moving there in the first place. I’m well aware of my relative demographic size here.

    The Braves are under no obligation to report to their minority of “intown hipster” fans, and I harbor no illusions that they are. They’re a business.

    Intown hipster fans are under no obligation to continue to want to go to as many Braves games. We’re consumers of business products, which is slightly and sadly different from the overly self-abnegating posture of saying we’re unquestioningly “fans” of whatever business decisions this corporation makes.

    Everyone can only speak to their own experience: mine is that the team punting its last two years here before seeking greener pastures somewhere less accessible to me makes me, individual, not like them as much. And thus it does feel like a fuck-you, especially considering how few of these stripped-for-parts jobs actually work in the long run.

    Your mileage may vary, based on your own personal relationship with this team and its city.

  57. @66

    Um…probably not the best example since, like, both New York football teams have, you know, moved to New Jersey and still retain their old fanbases and stuff.

    I’m not saying don’t be a little miffed if you’re so inclined, but this whole “the team is abandoning me so I’m abandoning them” thing? Yeah, not so much.

    EDIT: And just to clarify, the team punting on the next two years is still a “screw you” to the fans. It just doesn’t have anything to do with this suburbs vs. city business. It’s just as much of a “screw you” to the fan in Kennesaw as it is to the fan in Atlanta.

  58. @48 – Yep, totally agreed. Hell, even if it does work out, the best chance we have is another playoff dice roll. Are we accepting 2+ years of sucking so we can have a couple of playoff runs and then tear it all down again just when we’ve gotten attached to this crop? Why wouldn’t we expect this cycle to repeat like the last time the team started over with a barren farm system and no on-field talent in 2008?

  59. NYC’s football teams play in New Jersey, correct?

    As Braves fans shouldn’t we be happy that the team will probably generate more revenue in the new stadium? Just asking.

  60. @69 – So what you all are saying is that the Braves should have eaten two big contracts and increased payroll to acquire the necessary parts to win this year?

    Wish casting.

  61. Largely yes and I wasn’t around in the 70s when they made the move but I wager to say there were a few Giants fans not happy about moving to New Jersey. If the Yankees had moved in 2009 to anywhere besides across the street there would have been some sort of uprising against that.

    I can feel as though the team doesn’t care about winning and is a souless corporate entity seeking the highest profits that they won’t reinvest in anything I care about if they act like they are. The fact that they’re punting the last two seasons where they’re actually in Atlanta sort of seals that for me. You may feel like there’s no difference between Cumberland and downtown Atlanta and I guess if that’s your experience then so be it, but I’m largely lost at this point.

  62. @70- I’d argue that we absolutely should not. Winning drives revenue increase in most situations and, other than the sense of competitiveness and innate desire to win (because why the heck else did you buy a baseball team?) that our ownership completely lacks, there’s no other incentive to encourage owners to take the winning route rather than the tanking and paying out minimum possible roster payroll route. Union grievances too, I guess. Anyway, giving ownership a big fat cash cow that has zero to do with baseball should have the effect of making winning even less important to them than it currently is, since the shopping mall will be running year round, regardless of how the team is doing.

  63. Hard to believe that this is the first time in 24 years that the Braves are not expected to contend.

  64. @71 If they aren’t going to try to win now then they should offer discount tickets right?

    @70 Only happy if they reinvest extra money in product on the field. How much confidence do you have that they will? They got $25 mil in extra national tv money last year and now payroll is $30 mil lower than it was last year so… Who got that money?

  65. Interesting that I seem to be the only one who’s upset with the current front office strategy but not really all that upset by the move to Cobb County. I mean, I understand that some people would think the two would have something to do with each other, but I don’t think that they inherently do.

  66. Serenity now, people! As sports fans, we do not have some kind of implied constitutional right to dictate that our favorite franchise never moves its stadium and never parts with any players that we like. Your favorite team is not going to be good every year, and in those years where they aren’t going to win anyway (see eg, 2015 Braves) it is a perfectly reasonable strategy to trade win-now assets in exchange for more speculative future assets.

    Everyone who’s upset about the Braves’ rebuild needs to realize that the Braves were NOT in a good position to contend even had they kept JHey, JUp, and Gattis… we have major holes at 3B, 2B and CF, and (before the trades) not a ton of SP depth, leading to a team which looked likely to be terrible on offense and average to slightly-above-average on the pitching side. Moreover, once we played out the string on that, the Braves were likely going to lose JHey and JUp anyway. At least this way, the Braves have significantly increased the odds that they will be a competitive team by 2017. I would much prefer that to the alternative reality in which the Braves keeping “contending” every season, because that route was leading to perpetual mediocrity and a series of underwhelming win-now overpays for ‘proven veterans’ like Ryan Doumit.

    One could argue that it’s a bit insulting for the Braves to rebuild while pretending to be optimistic about competing in the 2015 season, but to be honest no team is going to tell fans to stay away from the stadium. Hart is putting… wait for it… a Brave face on a bad situation.

  67. Those two plays are like final four material. Or at least like round of 8. The range and throw on the first one are completely insane. Like no one else makes that play. But the second one? Are you serious?! To get anything, ANYTHING, on that throw…. When I see that play, I no longer understand physics.

  68. @78 – Well spoken.

    @77 – If you are upset that the FO didn’t spend more money I don’t get that. If you are saying that within the parameters dealt them by ownership they could have gone a different direction I really don’t get that.

    Liberty Media is a business. The Braves are a division of the business. The division has to make its own way within the budget provided by the corporate overlord. Everyone is in business to make a profit. Its capitalism.

  69. @77 I can be upset about both even if I understand why they’re doing the move to Cobb. The offseason strategy is just baffling though.

    @78 You’re just enabling this sort of behavior. If they don’t want to pretend to compete then I shouldn’t have to pretend to care. If you want to buy into the 2017 Dream then ok, but the odds are it will not work and the short term rebuild will become a long term one.

  70. It doesn’t matter at all what the Braves say about the 2015 team’s outlook. The fans will show if they win, and won’t if they don’t. The shiny new stadium isn’t going to change things much either. You put a 70-win team in Cobb Galleria and it’s going to be half-empty or worse come mid-August.

  71. The Braves should have drafted better, obviously. It’s hard to simultaneously improve a team that finished below .500 and to improve a minor league system that lacked impact talent in the high minors without spending a ton in free agency, and the Braves clearly decided against spending money.

    If you want to see an example of a team that regularly contends for the playoffs while fielding a flawed major league team and a below-average farm system, look at the Detroit Tigers. They spend a bunch of money, trade away nearly every prospect they have, and make it to the playoffs most years. Sure, it’s a win-now strategy, but they’ve been good for nearly a decade. They’ll probably have 7 lean years after the 7 fat years when all the contracts come due — the Verlander and Cabrera contracts are going to make Upton and Uggla look like Evan Longoria — but if you want to win, then either you have to make no mistakes or your owner has to spend a little bread.

    Our owners don’t want to. And our GM made mistakes. So they canned him and held a fire sale. There’s no guarantee that the Braves will be a good team again in 2017. A lot of rebuilds just don’t work out. If the Braves lose fans over the decisions they’ve made this offseason, it would serve them right.

  72. “A lot of rebuilds just don’t work out. If the Braves lose fans over the decisions they’ve made this offseason, it would serve them right.”

    Yep.

  73. Galleria is no more desolate or soulless than AmericasMart. And of course, part of The Grand Plan is to build a brand new neighborhood on the model of Atlantic Station to replace the soulless tracts of land around Galleria.

  74. @86, I feel like as long as I’ve been here I’ve never seen you criticize the club for doing something you think is dumb. I tend to more see you criticize the people who criticize the club as children whining about the grown-ups’ obvious-to-you-but-not-us foresight. Which is useful as a counterpoint at times, but comes off almost like corporate astroturfing at others.

    Am I wrong? Do you have a straight-up “this deal is a crock of shit for me as a fan” moment in your recent past? I’m asking that question honestly, as a semiregular but not a historian here. I get that playing the contrarian can be fun, but at some point isn’t it exhausting to having to spin for the urban atmosphere of the damn Cobb Galleria, or an offseason that multiple national baseball writers have described as incoherent?

  75. Am I wrong to assume that assembling ANY successful baseball team relies almost completely on one’s ability to evaluate talent?

    How is it riskier to put your stock in to your evaluation of minor league talent rather than your evaluation major league talent? How is rebuilding risking a decade of losing? Aren’t the Jim Hendry and Ruben Amaro Jr methods of refusing to rebuild and instead making your mistakes with evaluating major league talent far riskier?

    And as far as the “they owe it to fans to put the best product on the field that they can,” argument:

    1.) They actually don’t. They WANT to put the best product on the field because they WANT you to pay money to see the games. They are incentivized to win, at least nominally. They don’t try to win because they owe it to you.

    2.) The idea that there’s only one field on which to place product strikes me as one of a. naive, b. shortsighted, or c. college football-minded.

    There are many fields on which to place talent. To imagine that eh only one that matters is the one with three tiers of seats is to get yourself in to Jim Hendry or Ruben Amaro Jr. territory. What the Braves are trying to do is generate the most value, organization wide. Because of the mistakes that Frank Wren made, there’s no money to bring in value at the Major League level. The only way to do it is by bringing in the guys who don’t cost anything, the minor leaguers.

    Of course the team wants to sell tickets to the games. But this is a case where the organization is willing to take the hit there, in order to set up the team for continued health. You can keep patching a flawed team and try to compete, or you can build one with depth and with options and with years of control and you can try to WIN.

    When fans want a team to spend a little more money, a common refrain is “flags fly forever.” It’s easy to spend other people’s money. But flags do fly forever. They are worth paying for. Suffering through lean years is the way we, the fans, pay for it.

    The Braves were lousy in 2014, and then they lost half their rotation. They had no talent in the minor leagues that was ready to help in 2015 and they had maxed out their budget, with two of their best hitters set to reach free agency before 2016. They could not have afforded to fix the offense. They could probably have afforded patch up the rotation and run out the same offense.

    That might have drawn more fans than the plan they ultimately went with. But what about 2016? The team could not have afforded to retain Jason Heyward or Justin Upton once they reached the open market. We would have lost them and the only additions to the minor league teams would have been through the draft.

    We were going to be lousy when Jason and Justin left in 2016, with no real plan for improvement other than “spend their salaries on other free agents.” The only avenue for improvement then would be to trade other useful assets to cover holes.

    Instead we’ll be lousy in 2015, with a pretty clear plan for improvement. There may be no true blue-chips in the system, but now we have a lot of future solid major leaguers. A solid major leaguer at CF, 2B or 3B would have been the difference maker last season. We now have options for all three of those spots, and we’ve shed payroll leaving the team still in position to engage the previous plan for 2016 “sign free agents.”

  76. @87, I know you are talking to Sam but I do feel like the entire move-to-the-cultural-void-suburban-nightmare-that-is-the-Galleria thing is just a bit over the top. There is absolutely nothing appealing about the current location of Turner Field. It’s not like we’re tearing down Fenway Park here.

    I think it’s fair to complain about the total punt for ’15/16 play that we’ve embarked on, but it’s totally not fair to wax nostalgic about Turner Field. Bulldoze it, salt the grounds, bring in a shaman or two to perform some rituals and let’s move on. Nobody should want to live real close to a pro stadium anyways…11 miles isn’t a big deal. It just isn’t.

  77. @89 – yes, that is over the top. But so is an insistence that the Galleria is more of the city than it is of Kennesaw.

    I’m not arguing the former (my parents have lived in Cobb County since about when I graduated from college, I don’t hate it, I’m actually fond of several parts of it; I just think it’s going to be a transportation clusterfuck and detract from my gameday experience, the logistics of which I’ve currently got good.) But he’s arguing the latter, full stop, @55.

    @88, then why volunteer to pay a declining Nick Markakis 73% of BJ Upton money during the first two years we’re supposed to emerge from the cocoon with youth and payroll flexibility? Incoherent. Makes me lose confidence in the ability to articulate and execute a vision. If you’re going to rebuild, don’t be drunk about it.

  78. To add to @90, the rationale for Markakis can no longer be to maintain some fundamental level of competence because if the Phillies and Diamondbacks have a little luck, we could have easily the worst record in the league, maybe even in MLB, and that’s with Markakis.

  79. I’m gonna guess that getting Markakis was a hedge in case there wasn’t a deal good enough for JUpton and Gattis.

  80. i do not understand the confusion over the markakis deal. Will people also be super confused when we sign someone to play LF? The Braves have a clear rebuilding strategy right now, but that doesn’t mean you don’t spend the annual budget and field a team in 2015.

  81. @92, That’s a pretty expensive hedge. In fact, it’s almost not a hedge at all because the signing barely lets the team go one way or the other. Markakis could’ve helped keep the team afloat next season if that’s what we were doing, but he has to stick to a nice, gentle decline to be worth his salary in 2017. And just being worth his salary might not even be enough for the team to compete.

  82. Longtime lurker here with a frustration to express: Sam Hutcheson lowers the level of conversation here at BravesJournal and makes it an unpleasant place for a Braves fan to visit.

  83. I’m also struggling to see why people are criticizing the Markakis signing. You can’t completely tank the season, and while they planned to trade these three, they knew they had to put someone decent to play in a corner outfield spot. The reason for Nick Markakis was never that he would make us a contender; it was simply that he was a decent player. Same reason we signed Grilli, Pierzynski, Johnson, Callaspo, etc.

  84. @95, one of these things is not like the other…

    4 years is not how you stopgap. The rest of those deals are, so I’ll give the FO that.

  85. WCG: I think the Braves are over valuing pitching in a low offensive environment. I believe they are foolishly ignoring OBP for the sake of hit tool contact oriented swings. I think the new park will be a traffic nightmare.

    I do not believe the patch fix model could survive the loss of Medlen and Beachy. I do not believe that Galleria is functionally removed from “Atlanta” as an entity. I think the need to draw solid lines between Mid Fulton and South Cobb is as toxic, backwards and last generation political posing as the desire to keep MARTA out of Marietta. An idea of atlanta that doesn’t include east point, O4W, east atlanta, Buckhead, west midtown and Vinings/Smyrna/Marietta is fundamentally broken and wrong.

  86. Four years is how you stopgap if and only if you believe that there is literally nothing else on the market that remotely fits your present needs. The three year, $30 million Billy Butler contract lends credence to that notion. The fact that Nori Aoki is still on the market, and presumably could be had for less than half of what we paid Markakis, does not.

    Again, if that logic is plausible, I don’t have a huge problem with the Markakis signing because if the Braves lose too many games in 2015 then it could cost them millions of dollars in revenue which they might well decide to take out of future payrolls. It’s better to spend money you have in the present than to potentially forego it in the future, etc.

    The thing is, other than Aoki, there aren’t that many other corner outfielders on the market who could be had for anything less than an insane amount of money. I’d rather have Markakis’s contract than Matt Kemp’s contract, put it that way.

  87. It sure was a pleasure watching the 2014 Braves. They should have pulled out the stops to keep that team together. Also, the Braves should have stayed put at Turner Field because it was so easy to get to and provided a perfect game day atmosphere. Also the city of Atlanta did everything they could to accommodate the team.

    Sarcasm to infinity.

  88. So the pro-Markakis arguments boil down to:
    – Pretend we’re not going to win, like, 70 games next year with Markakis
    – Pretend no other affordable RF will become available, excluding Aoki for whatever reason, either via FA or trade over the next few seasons
    – There are worse contracts…Looking at you, BJ!

    He might actually be good next year. Maybe the best strategy is to hope he BABIPs his way into a batting title, and we can savor that as the contract goes sour.

  89. @98 Players that can hit are insanely expensive in the current FA market. I think in Markakis the Braves were trying to take a chance to buy a good asset at a distressed price, similar to their apparent strategy this offseason of buying low on pitching prospects with injury issues. All that said, I would have been much happier with the Markakis contract had the Braves been able to limit the deal to 2-3 years in length. It is unlikely that Markakis is going to be much of a contributor to the forthcoming 2017 Braves juggernaut.

  90. I think the only reason the FO signed Markakis is that they couldn’t return the budget surplus and get the bonus:

  91. Is it implausible that pretty much everyone rightly surmised that the Braves were going into full rebuilding mode, and perhaps Aoki, just missing out on a WS, instructs his agent he’d rather make less to play for a contender? Markakis, on the other hand, says, “Sure, I’ll play for a suck team, just give me 4 years.”

    FA signings don’t occur in the vacuum of a video game, maybe Markakis was the best option willing to sign.

  92. The fascination with Nori Aoki astounds me. From MLBTR.com:

    Weaknesses/Cons

    In 2012, his first season in the US, Aoki hit ten home runs and 51 overall extra-base hits, good power numbers for a table-setter. In the last two years, however, that power has vanished — Aoki had eight homers and 31 extra-base hits in 2013, and just one homer and 29 extra-base hits in 2014.

    Aoki’s fly ball percentage has decreased from 27.7% in 2012 to 17.1% in 2014, and the average distance of those fly balls has decreased from about 280 feet in 2012 to 249 feet in 2014, ahead of only Donovan Solano, Elvis Andrus and Emilio Bonifacio on Baseball Heat Maps’ Flyball Leaderboard. Meanwhile, Aoki this year hit ground balls at a 61.9% rate this season, the second highest percentage among qualified hitters throughout MLB, behind Ben Revere and just ahead of an ancient Derek Jeter. In other words, unless there’s something about Aoki that hasn’t been revealed to us, his loss of power doesn’t appear to be a fluke.

    A corner outfielder doesn’t need great power to be productive, but Aoki would lose value quickly if any of his other skills were to slip. His lack of power also limits his upside. Aoki’s Isolated Power last year was .075. Of the 13 qualified batters last season with Isolated Power numbers of below .090, only two — Revere and Dee Gordon — produced above average offensive value overall, according to Fangraphs.

    Why are people so obsessed with this guy?

  93. Anybody have an educated guess on what our lineup would look like if the roster stands where it is right now?

    From looking at the current group, I have no idea how it would shape up.

  94. @97:

    “I think the need to draw solid lines between Mid Fulton and South Cobb is as toxic, backwards and last generation political posing as the desire to keep MARTA out of Marietta.”

    Well, one is just a “screw the Barves, I’m not going to their games anymore,” and the other is “let’s bone over a wide swath of the citizenry to appeal to prejudice.” Not sure if “this stadium situation sucks” quite has the socioeconomic ramifications of the latter.

    That’s as political as I’ll get, per the rules.

    For the sake of no-politics: The new stadium looks like a friggin updated copy of the Ted, which will never not be funny to me. You guys want your own Ted? Here it is! All the stuff you like, none of the stuff (wink) you didn’t!

  95. And here comes the “fascination”/”obsession” straw man.

    Nobody likes Aoki. Aoki is probably a little worse than Markakis on the whole, but will cost less in dollars/years than Markakis, fits our plans better than Markakis, and yet we signed Markakis — that is the reason.

    Now somebody can cherry-pick some individual stat where Markakis handily beats Aoki, or someone else can pretend that park factors don’t exist and Markakis has gobs more power than Aoki. We all know how this conversation is going to go.

  96. I like the Markakis deal. I think if you are rebuilding you need some stable guys out there. Losing can become a culture quickly and some decent vets can help chill the young guys and maybe carry the team for a few games to relieve some pressure.

  97. If that was the idea, we could’ve overpaid for David Ross, who we know could actually do the job @107 and still for way cheaper/fewer years. And no Pierzynski.

  98. @103

    I don’t like Aoki as anything more than a 4th outfielder on a decent team, but since this is not a decent team and we really only have 1 outfielder there aren’t a lot of options. I would have rather signed him at 2 years instead of Markakis at 4 for obvious reasons but now that we traded away the other 2 left fielders we had who do you suggest we play there? The options seem to be a whole year of some combo of Almonte, Terdo and Cunningham? None of these guys are major league players. If you believe what management said before the season then we weren’t dropping payroll this year yet it’s sitting below $80 million with $13 of that due to Uggla.

    Hart is still saying he expects the team to compete this year, I don’t think he actually thinks that but if he signs Aoki or Rasumus or whoever to play left then he can at least keep up that facade going into the year. It really doesn’t make any difference though. Sign Aoki for 2/10 or whatever he gets, who cares. The money is not being wasted elsewhere and so long as it doesn’t tie up any funds for the future when this grand plan comes to fruition then whatever.

  99. @109, We probably won’t see eye to eye on the $$$ value of role you’re describing, whether the clubhouse guy needs to play every day, how good they actually need to be, etc.

    But I will acknowledge that having dug through the MLBTR FA tracker, assuming that you do want this kind of guy and don’t want to use trade resources for him, it’s hard to find someone who fits the bill on the position player side and would also want to play on the Braves.

  100. @113, The plan, as always, is to gaze longingly at the list below and hope Hart knows what he’s doing:

    Manny Banuelos
    Max Fried
    Jose Peraza
    Tyrell Jenkins
    Braxton Davidson
    Arodys Vizcaino
    Rio Ruiz
    Lucas Sims
    Ozhaino Albies
    Dustin Peterson
    Christian Bethancourt
    Jace Peterson

  101. The real story: not only was Liberty unwilling to raise the payroll this year but the ten million given to Santana was conditional–as in, you fail to make the playoffs and it becomes a loan–meaning payroll was capped at about 90 million this year or exactly last year’s payroll minus twice Santana’s salary. There was never any possibility of keeping Heyward and Upton; once they signed Markakis there was never money to keep Medlen, and Beachy only if he took Wandy dollars or less.

  102. @114–Foltynewicz is far and away the highest rated prospect we landed, but I agree that his name is hard to stare at.

    Really the only thing that Hart did this offseason that I can’t forgive him for, is that, knowing perfectly well that we were punting the next two seasons, he gave us Pierzynski, Grilli and Wandy Rodgriguez instead of Medlen. The most he can possibly expect out of the first three guys in the way of the rebuild is maybe a single B-/C+ prospect for Grilli at the deadline, and that is only IF he pitches like he did in 2013. If Medlen makes it back he will be worth much more to the organization than that.

  103. I think we’re going to score 500 runs and allow 600. That’s good for about 66 expected wins. The three worst teams in baseball had 64, 66, and 67 wins last year.

    On the other hand, I think we compare pretty favorably with the Padres of 2014, who won only 2 fewer games than we did (77). They had replacement level stalwarts like Chris Denorfia, Will Venable, Cameron Maybin, Jedd Gyorko, and Everth Cabrera logging hundreds of atbats each

  104. The noise coming out of the FO is that they still expect us to compete this year. Obviously it’s lip service but I wonder what their actual rationale is given the options available.

  105. I’d expect their rationale is: “Expect to compete, then look like geniuses if we pull it off or make Fredi the scapegoat if we don’t”.

  106. So a lot of us have been going back and forth about whether or not the Braves could have competed in 2015 if the FO had approached the off-season differently. We’ve been tossing out line-ups supporting one side or the other…and honestly, I didn’t really believe any of our examples were realistic assessments of what the 2015 team would actually look like if we’d gone for it.

    Thought we’d like to at least argue over something more tangible, no?

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOUR 2015 BIZARRO BRAVES
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YuyUmasjGt486ireo6Y5h2s2OURqWMchbjIC1L2m_aQ/edit?usp=sharing

    Below, some assumptions I started with:
    -Our maximum budget is $100 million, but let’s keep it a little below that in case we need to add a piece at the deadline.
    -No creative accounting for Uggla and BJ. While it’d be nice, it wouldn’t be realistic.
    -Nobody wants to trade for bad players. We’re stuck with Chris Johnson and BJ Upton. Woot woot!
    -Free agent signings are for actual free agent dollar amounts; the only difference, in some cases, is that the Braves were the signing team
    -Don’t get too creative with trades. (I tweaked a trade we already made, but I don’t think I got too creative with it.)
    -We actually do need to replenish the farm somewhat. So that’s goal 1-b.

    I have some thoughts on why I think the Bizarro Braves would compete, but I’ll withhold them for now and just see what people think.

    Not reflected in the spreadsheet above: Pendleton is the new manager. While this would actually net us something like 20 wins, I decided not to factor it in.

  107. @119, their actual rationale is to hope that the Nationals, Mets, Phillies, and Marlins are all worse than us.

    As it stands, the Phillies will almost certainly be worse than us, the Mets’ chances basically hinge on Matt Harvey’s recovery, the Marlins are better than us on paper, and the Nationals won the division in a walk last year before we sold off our entire team. If we’re lucky, and if we beat the Phillies and Mets as often as possible, we could finish third. But that’s unlikely.

  108. Our starting pitching is pretty good, as is our bullpen. Obviously, the organization thinks pitching wins games.

    If we can get a lead (big IF) we will probably hold it.

  109. More like, “When the going gets tough, wait for football season, and in the mean time, don’t waste 129.99 on mlb.tv”

  110. The Braves may suck in 2015. They may surprise. I’ll be watching, rooting for them, enjoying the good, and anticipating better times.

    #Braves and Mike Minor could be headed to arb hearing after failing to reach agreement today http://t.co/HSy12r0Nmv
    — David O’Brien (@DOBrienAJC) 2015-01-16T20:36:18Z

  111. @123, Like I said, the Padres won 77 games with that dumpster fire lineup. When Seth Smith is your big bopper, you have problems. And they literally had 6-7 replacement level players in terms of OWAR getting most of the AB’s. Thing is, our lineup with its high-priced “sluggers” only scored 40 more runs than theirs did all season. Their park-adjusted pitching was about the same as ours.

  112. I forgot Ricardo Sanchez on my little prospect list too.

    @121, It’s a good effort.
    – I haven’t bothered to look, but is that the exact amount the Phillies paid for Harang, or a little more than what we know the highest bid to have been? Same for Floyd.
    – I’m sad I couldn’t change BJ’s name to “poop” on the google doc.

  113. @126

    Not really sure what argument you’re making, but your facts aren’t quite right. Of the 8 players with the most plate appearances as a Padre last year, only three of them posted <1 oWAR. (I'm counting Headley/Solarte as one player since they were exchanged for each other, and together they have ~550 plate appearances.) Where do you get the "literally 6-7"?

  114. @126

    So with the high priced “sluggers” the Braves scored 40 runs less than the replacement level Padres. Then the Braves traded all those guys and replaced them with Nick Markakis, Joey Terdosolvic and Christan Bethancourt. So logic then tells you that with the Braves new stunning array of SUB-replacement level players they should score less than the Padres last year now. Seems like we accomplished the goal of the off season!

  115. Fangraphs agitprop…

    Comment From Brian
    How big of an upgrade is Rio Ruiz over Kubitza?

    Kiley McDaniel: Real big. 50/55 [Future Value] for a pretty standard 45 FV, both reasonably close to MLB

  116. I’m pretty sure we’ll sign a LF before it’s all said and done. I’ll be really surprised if Terdoslavich is our left fielder. Too much money in the budget to not sign someone to throw out there for a couple years.

  117. I had to vote for “A League of His Own” because I notice in the 2nd clip that when the ball is hit HE IS MOVING TO COVER THIRD BASE.

  118. @135 Yeah, that play is rediculous. He is moving toward third, reverses his direction, somehow catches the ball anyway, still manages to beat the runner to second, then throws to first while his entire body is still heading toward right, and somehow gets enough on the throw to turn a double play. I want to go back and find the game thread for that game, because I remember the play being discussed at length and yet I still could not fully comprehend how he did it. I still can’t fathom it.

    I’ll admit, I had a bit of a hard time finding a good play to put up against that one in the first round, because I wanted it to be a play worthy of consideration, yet I feared anything I included would get trounced. The fact that both videos have gotten at least a few votes tells me I succeeded in my pairing!

  119. There can be little doubt that the Braves will be hard to watch in 2015. At least we have the Hawks for a few months. If you haven’t been paying attention, they are kicking ass. Incredible.

  120. In my house, there is baseball season and off-season. Exceptions are made for the Dawgs and anyone beating Florida. The rest is irrelevant.

    I’m glad the Hawks are providing entertainment, but:

    Come on, February.

  121. @137 Wow, that thread was a depressing read. I had blocked the end of that game from my mind, but it’s all come back to me all too clearly now.

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