Where Do We Go From Here?: Let The Kids Play (by Edward)

Illusion check, in order of appearance: Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, and Andrelton Simmons. Or if you’re not into using names: Immediate Sensation 1, Immediate Sensation 2, Immediate Hugsation, Immediate Sensation 3.

Okay, okay, it didn’t turn out perfectly. Heyward lost his power, Kimbrel got a little shaky in some key moments, Freeman hasn’t quite had that BIG season we all want to see, and Andrelton isn’t much of a hitter. But these were stunners; absolute, no-assembly required studs right out of the box. We stuck them into everyday roles, and kept on winning as if we’d gone to the Elite Free Agent Store. (Sidenote: We did go to the Elite Free Agent Store. What the hell was Mudge doing on a shelf at the Elite Free Agent Store?!) That’s how talent is supposed to work.

Reality check: That is not how talent works.

Let’s see here…How about a quiz?

Player A, 2005, Kansas City: 5-17, 5.80 ERA, 183 IP, 2.15 K/BB
Player B, 2012, Los Angeles: 330 Plate Appearances, .228/.280/.281, 1 HR, 20 BB, 62 SO, special shout-out for Sam Hutcheson
Player C, 2008, Cincinnati: 9-14, 4.81 ERA, 171 IP, 29 HR allowed
Player D, 2008, Oakland: 316 Plate Appearances, .242/.273/.361, 4 HR, 13 BB, 81 SO

Hint: All of these seasons occurred early in a player’s career, and in each case the player got much better later. Players learn. Players adjust. Players grow. Players mature.

(Give up? A is Zack Greinke, B is Dee Gordon, C is Johnny Cueto, and D is Carlos Gonzalez.)

And so, 2016 Braves, be patient with Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos, William Perez, William Perez, Arodys Vizcaino, Shae Simmons, Andrew McKirahan, Tyrell Jenkins, Lucas Sims, Max Fried, Hector Olivera, Christian Bethancourt, Adonis Garcia, Jace Peterson, Dian Toscano, and Mallex Smith, whenever they come up.

Some of them are going to be duds. Some of them are going to be back-ups. A few will have long unspectacular major league careers. And maybe one or two or three of them, with the right mix of TLC and hard knocks, are going to become special.

The point here isn’t to wishcast. It isn’t to encourage a massive trial-by-fire either. But the Braves, more than any team in baseball save the Phillies, probably aren’t built to win now. We’re building a future, and we’ve got to figure out who’s a part of it. Coppy, Harty, Scheurholzy, Fredi: If your choice is between a total black hole and some Neck Cakes, take the Neck Cakes. But if your choice for third base is Adonis Garcia or David Freese, pick Adonis, even if we think Freese is more likely to handle the position. Jerome Williams is a free agent, and he might pitch better than our other two Williams, or Wisler, or Folty, or ManBan. 2016 is not the year to give him the chance.

I don’t care how sure you are that Nick Swisher’s going to grin his way into a dead cat bounce. Let the kids play. Alright?

101 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here?: Let The Kids Play (by Edward)”

  1. I mentioned Frazier earlier in this thread. However, he’s only got one year left on his contact. Might as well keep our prospects and make a run at him in 2017 if he’s a fit

    He also had a crap second half and doesn’t hit outside of the band box in Cincy.

  2. Matt Wisler, – should start
    Manny Banuelos, – should start
    Williams Perez, – should start

    Arodys Vizcaino, – should close
    Mike Foltynewicz, – bullpen/swing starter
    Shae Simmons, – bullpen
    Andrew McKirahan, -bullpen

    Tyrell Jenkins, – minors
    Lucas Sims, – minors with a chance to break in
    Max Fried, – minors with a chance to break in

    Hector Olivera, – should start
    Jace Peterson, – should start
    Dian Toscano, – minors with a chance to break in
    Mallex Smith – minors with a chance to break in

    Christian Bethancourt, – will never be a MLB player
    Adonis Garcia, – is 30 already

  3. @2, If the Braves stand pat. There are a lot of days between now and April and a lot of screwy ideas coming out of the front office.

  4. IMO, some veteran mediocrity is worthwhile to avoid a total black hole of suck. 2015 Braves would have finished *16* games ahead of the 2014 Astros. This is why I think we’ll see them add a vet starter, even though we’re loaded with pitchers.

  5. And Frazier’s approaching 30.

    I think there’s some risk in dumping every prospect into the “lotto ticket” bucket and being done with it. Because there’s plenty of room for nuance. Greinke gave scouts ample reason to let him figure it out, while someone like, say, Folty has drawn complaints that he has no feel for starting in the first place. Sure, let the kids play, but within that, I hope we set some priorities.

    I like how Olivera was snuck onto that list. Heh.

  6. On my phone now, but last I checked, Olivera was not exactly crushing it in winter ball. Sims has been impressive, though.

  7. I was concerned about a backup for Pierzynski, but it appears our problems will be solved if we can persuade Brayan Pena to come back to Atlanta. Apparently the Braves have been talking with him. His career OPS is .651 and he had a career year last year with a .659 OPS, which included no homeruns, but 17 doubles. He does fit the “new” Brave hitter profile in that he doesn’t strike out a lot. Sorry, but if our catching answer is Brayan Pena and a 39 year old AJ Pierzynski, we are in more trouble than I thought.

  8. @7 – Yeap. I think catcher is going to be the main stumbling block keeping us from the pennant this year.

  9. As I am still pissed about the Simmons trade, MLBTR has a poll up about the trade. 1600 votes

    42% say Angels won
    41% say Braves won
    17% say it was equal


  10. I think I’m the only one on this site who thinks Christian Bethancourt has a chance to be a decent player. Sure, there’s a high bust rate with him, and he hasn’t done anything yet, but look at players A-D above. I dunno–maybe I know nothing about baseball, but I think it’s awfully early to give up on CB.

  11. @10

    Right. And we have 20/20 hindsight with players A-D, but you could probably go through the Royals/A’s/Reds/Dodgers fan blogs who were calling for their team to get rid of that awful Zack Greinke and send that bust Carlos Gonzalez out to pasture.

    Great post, Edward. You never disappoint!

  12. “Hey, remember Glavine struggled too” is just such a terrible argument on its face to let any prospect roam free, though.

    When Carlos Gonzalez and Zack Greinke struggled, for example, they were quite young to even be in MLB, an indication of something or things like bat speed or three plus pitches that nobody has ever said that someone like Jace Peterson or Williams Perez has. The ceiling for them is so much lower that I don’t see why it’s worth letting them fumble around for a while to establish a floor.

    The Braves seem to think Bethancourt isn’t even trying to up his game. He can’t seem to be good at the things he’s supposed to be good at. I don’t care if he gets another PA with us.

  13. We’re not really playing to win in 2016. We weren’t playing to win in 2015. There’s very little for the major league team to do other than to develop its prospects and determine who among them is capable of being a productive major leaguer.

  14. I’m pretty angry about Andrelton but I refuse to judge this front office until the work is done and the product is on the field in 2017.

  15. @16, That’s a right honorable position in real life but I think you should indulge a little when it comes to baseball. Down with everyone!

  16. @9 – A good rule of thumb is if both fanbases think they got screwed and everyone else is “meh” it was probably a break even deal.

  17. @13,
    The point of trotting out Cargo and the other players is to show that even MVP level players can suck really bad when they’re young, not to argue something inane like “every young player who sucks becomes an MVP eventually”.

    Nobody is comparing Williams Perez and Jace Peterson to the all time greats. Their ceilings are low–like being a #4-5 starter and an averagish 2B/SS. They can be useful players to us eventually, but the point is they aren’t finished products, even with their modest projections.

    Re CBeth, work ethic issues are not an immutable property of an individual. There have been many athletes who threw away all sorts of potential because they didn’t try very hard, but there have been many others who got it together when they realized it wasn’t just going to be handed to them.

  18. I think it probably was objectively a break-even deal, in terms of the surplus contract value on Andrelton’s extension going to LA and the player contracts and money coming back to Atlanta.

    Even if it were a fair return, it would not necessarily be worth it to Atlanta to trade Simmons. For one thing, Simmons’s defense may be very helpful to a young, developing pitching staff; for another, Simmons is one of the faces of the team; for another, Atlanta may be hurting its own leverage in future contract negotiations by trading away a player shortly after signing that player to a pre-free agency extension.

    But ignore all of that for a second. Making a trade for the sake of making a trade is not rational. The devil you know is always worth more to you than the devil you don’t because of the inherency of asymmetric information. You know that you don’t know what you don’t know. The point of indifference is not when you should make a deal — you should only make a deal when you are no longer indifferent to the return you’re getting, relative to the value you’re giving.

    Of course, I hate the trade for emotional reasons as much as I hate it for rational ones, but there are rational reasons to oppose the trade even if the trade was even on contract value.

  19. @22

    McGuirk is posturing that he’s breaking kayfabe, in the hopes that sharper fans will come to identify with management’s oh-so-difficult plight in the zero-margin world of MLB team ownership. It’ll probably work.

  20. @19, I’m trying to speak to this thing I’m seeing of “Newcomb is just another post-surgery lotto ticket.” Or “Why doesn’t Bethancourt get to play?” One deserves more patience/support than the other, and being clear about that can also help us make sense of the job the Johns have done so far.

    If you never bother to get granular about the prospects themselves, you miss things like: even after all the trades for pitching, the pitcher in our system most likely to reach an above average ceiling very well could be Lucas Sims, a Wren draftee.

  21. Internal options:




    Is that best case scenario?

  22. Okay, Adam R. Get granular. The floor is yours.

    Forgetting for a moment that patience is the only luxury the Braves have got right now, with whom should we be most patient?

  23. 22, Great article, thanks for posting. I have tried not to bog down the board with business-speak since being accused of sparking an accountant-fight around here, but honestly, Calcaterra kinda let them off easy.

  24. I don’t think Mike Minor’s hamburger meat shoulder should be considered a tier 1 option.

  25. But Sam, John Hart said earlier this year the Braves medical staff had figured out what was wrong with Minor’s shoulder and fixed it. So Minor is ok now since the FO said he was. </sarcasm>

  26. If Bethancourt were blocking a 22-year-old Mike Piazza, I’d say flip him for a day old fart in a mason jar, but there is literally nobody challenging him for playing time but a 39-year-old on a 1-year contract. The only argument for not playing him is that he may hurt his value by continuing to suck, but it’s probably so close to bottom now that he’s not worth trading. That, and I guess that one could argue he’s so atrocious, he’s hurting the development of our pitchers.

  27. It is a general misconception that I will believe or defend anything the front office says. Until such time as Mike Minor pitches successfully against a real team, I will assume he is on the Tommy Hanson career path (minus the horrific depression and unimaginably sad end, it should go without saying.)

  28. @27, Sorry…didn’t mean to crap on your post. Writing an engaging post isn’t something I can do.

    In some ways, we should be the most patient with Allard and Touissant because they have both the highest upside and are the farthest away. It would be dumb to rush them.

    In other ways, we should be the most patient with Max Fried. It may take a while for him to return to form, and similarly dumb to expect a lot out of him in the near term. He has a lot of lost time to make up for.

    Of the players that are already up, I guess Wisler? He has better stuff than Perez and better starter qualities than Folty.

  29. The argument against playing Bethancourt is two fold.

    First, there is the much maligned “actually, we are trying to remain vaguely competitive and not lose 95 games again” bit. Bethancourt has shown absolutely zero abilities that would suggest his presence would help prevent that.

    Second, Bethancourt has been handed a position three or four times over and has shat on it every time. At some point, an organization has to show it’s other players that there are consequences to bad action.

  30. Yeah Sam, I am more in agreement with you than not and I totally see the “general misconception that I will believe or defend anything the front office says” going on. I was just poking some fun since I think we all are in the “I’ll see it when I believe it” mindset for Minor’s comeback.

  31. I’d put Withrow in the ‘pen option list and move one of Folty/Banuelos to the rotation in place of Minor.

  32. I guess I am assuming we are going to lose 85 or more games this year, and I don’t see Bethancourt’s presence or absence changing that much. If I thought we had a wild card shot, as some do, I’d probably be less comfortable letting him lose games for us.

  33. @36, I don’t agree with your last assertion, that he’s been handed a position three or four times over. I think that he was handed a position on opening day last year, and he was utterly horrendous from the word go. But Tyler Pastornicky kept his starting job in 2012 for a whole lot longer than Bethancourt kept his last year.

    In April and May 2012, Pastornicky got 40 starts and Jack Wilson got 12 starts. In April 2015, Bethancourt got 10 starts and Pierzynski got 13. In fact, after the first week — in which Christian started four of the first five games — there was essentially no part of the year in which Pierzysnki started less than Christian.

    Mark DeRosa kept his starting job in 2004 for a lot longer: he started the first 40 games of the season and didn’t lose his job till mid-June, when they gave it back to Chipper. In 2007, Scott Thorman split first base with Craig Wilson in April, then was the full-time starter at first base for all of May and June before his terrible bat inspired them to trade prospex for Tex.

    Hell, Jordan Schafer started the first 48 games of the 2009 season, and he was every bit as much of an alleged malcontent as Bethancourt, to say nothing of the fact that he was hiding an injury.

    In all of these cases, it didn’t work out, but the team gave a player a solid month or two as a starter to prove that they couldn’t make it. They gave Christian literally a week before they made him the lesser half of a platoon. I just don’t think that’s adequate, and considering the fact that they basically admitted that they were punting the year, I think that they should have given him at least a month or two as an outright starter before platooning him. It’s closer to the way they treated Brandon Jones in 2007 — they gave him a week of starts here and there, but never gave him a real role, and he utterly failed to develop.

    There probably is no salvaging the relationship: he sucks and failed to perform, and the Braves clearly don’t trust him anywhere near a starting job. But I personally think that the Braves ought to have given him more rope with which to hang himself.

  34. Honestly, I don’t care if they start Bethancourt. I don’t think they’re going to win enough in 2016 for it to matter. But the FO clearly prefer one year of AJP to Bethy at this point, for whatever reason. And I won’t cry if the guy never plays another game in this system, as I’ve heard tell of his super powers for what seems like a decade now and all I have to show for it is this bucket full of passed balls.

  35. @35, You didn’t crap on anything of mine. It just seemed like you were accusing others of not writing your good opinions, when it’s possible the only person who knew those good opinions was you. It would be like me complaining that no one here calls me by my middle name.

    Anyway, I’m sure the Braves have a good idea of the pecking order. It’s players from the outside getting in the way of it I worry about.

    @40, Nice post, Alex.

  36. The Braves still place an emphasis on effort and attitude. Bethancourt was given a very short leash because he was doing horrible at what the Braves had concerns about (hitting) and more importantly, even worse defensively when he was supposed to be a stud defender. The horrible defensive part seemed to have more to do with attitude and effort. I can’t say that I blame the Braves and I doubt that the relationship is recoverable.

  37. Oh, certainly. But I don’t believe the Braves put him in the best position to succeed. Considering that their entire strategy revolves around their ability to identify and develop talent internally, it was not a confidence-inspiring episode.

  38. I wonder if the worst thing to happen to CBeth is that both AJP and the team got “hot” out of the gate. How to bench your hottest hitter when the team is winning? The effort wasn’t there, but if AJP had been hitting .250 and the team had been playing .250 (as they did in August), then he might’ve had more opportunity to learn on the job.

  39. @Ken_Rosenthal: #Braves, #DBacks discussed trade for ATL’s Shelby Miller, sources tell me and @jonmorosi. Talks did not progress.

    @Ken_Rosenthal: #Braves wanted piece from #DBacks’ major-league core, sources say – perhaps Pollock, who, like Miller, is under club control three more yrs.

    @Ken_Rosenthal: Pollock for Miller is not an unreasonable request, if that is indeed what #Braves wanted. But #DBacks were not comfortable with such a deal.

  40. @40

    Equally appreciate the post.

    I think the reason for the difference with Bethancourt is probably something Sam alluded to: his maturity. We’ve said it on here before, but the passed balls seem to indicate a lack of focus or maturity. While Jordan Schafer is a malcontent, he never showed the mental lapses that Bethancourt possesses and was really just a knucklehead. And the catcher position is one where you need some leadership and some substance upstairs. They feel like AJP is a better fit to behind the dish with young pitchers during a rebuild, and that’s clear with how the FO and announcing crew have talked about him.

    EDIT: Or what td said.

  41. Of note that we seem to be getting many more reports of failed or in progress negotiations than under the ancien regime. Seems like a pretty big change.

  42. Calcaterra wrote a follow-up to the article linked @22. Once upon a time I wrote about how subtly poisonous the fan-as-shadow-GM mentality can be, in the wake of the stadium move two years ago. I think I have a man-crush.


    I also think he’s giving them too much credit on the big-picture strategy/player evaluation side *coughOliveracough*. But I get that he’s trying to assume arguendo that the FO is right in most of its assessments, and note that even in that case, it’s still a pretty soul-crushing process. (And if they aren’t… welp.)

  43. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/11/braves-wont-trade-freddie-freeman.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MlbTradeRumors+%28MLB+Trade+Rumors%29&utm_content=Netvibes

    This sounds an awful lot like Coppolella really believes he’s trying to win games in the near term, especially the “we wouldn’t have taken Aybar back in the Simmons trade if we were actually trying to tank” part. The problem then is exactly what was pointed out Monday around here – we’re experiencing all of the gut punching of losing our favorite players while getting some lessened return for them that appears to be dictated by really incomprehensible player evaluation that apparently thinks absolutely nothing about defense and elevates batting average above all else. Markakis, Maybin, and Aybar are actually expected to lead a team to the middle of the pack. Maybe we should be thankful they’re not going after hitting prospects after all, if those guys are their goal.

  44. On Bethancourt,

    No evidence, just feel.

    I think the Braves thought that putting him in daily contact with Eddie Perez (great effort guy, Spanish language, good teacher) had a chance for getting Bethancourt over the (what appears from where we are) laziness.

    Then, I figure that Perez threw his hands up at some point and was convinced he couldn’t or wouldn’t break through.

    So, as to what to do, if he has options, hold him in AAA. If he realizes he can make what is stupid money by home country standards by effort, then maybe someday it “clicks.” We don’t need to give away the talent and let the “click” occur somewhere else.

    Now, IF somebody wants to make a “challenge trade” for prospects, then maybe make a move. But don’t release him.

  45. Maybin, Aybar, and probably Pierzynski are mid-season trade bait, but there’s no incentive to say so now. GM off-season happy talk (relatively speaking) is all there is to see there IMO.

  46. “I get it, Simmons is real good with the glove,” Coppolella said. “Real good. But there’s more to it. We like our trade. That’s why we made it. We feel we got more talent back than we traded away. You can make an argument that we are actually a team that can win more games with Aybar.”

    Please just stop, John. Why are they so adament about not admitting what they’re doing, it’s so weird.

  47. You can also make the argument that the centerpiece of the Simmons deal looks like a left-handed Juan Jaime. I won’t make that argument now, but you *could* make it…lol.

    As hard as it is to hold off on predicting exactly how bad 2016 will be, I’ll try to wait until we get to Spring Training and the moves and signings are mostly done. They may still surprise us.

  48. I’d guess the Johns are gonna cobble together enough veteran mediocrity to scratch a 75 win team or so and claim it’s progress.

  49. Well, I think Coppy needs to tone it down a bit. Winning cures all.

    We all will give them a pass in 2016. 2017 had better show some improvement though.

    What did he think, we would all cheer him trading fan favorites away again?

  50. I have a huge fantasy football thing going on? I didn’t know that. I don’t even watch football! Was that a metaphor for something I’m not intelligent enough to understand?

    BTW, Andruw Jones wants to be an MLB player again and the least the FO could do for the fans would be to sign him to hit dingers off the bench.

  51. @67
    Andruw is a true 3-outcome hitter these days and I’d be fine with that on the bench while he mentors some ESL players.

  52. There’s really only one explanation that seems to fit when it comes to Bethancourt:

    The Braves don’t like him anymore. I’m not sure if it’s general attitude, lack of work ethic, inability to improve, or a combo of all, but he didn’t really get a regular chance outside of OD this year. Maybe the Braves thought that AJ as a mentor to the staff was worth more than Bethancourt learning with the staff. Regardless, he doesn’t have a future in a Braves uni.

  53. Andruw would fit except that’s already Nick Swisher’s job: emergency 1b, sometime OF, first PH option off.

  54. So is the anger at Coppy because he is tanking, because he is lying about tanking, or both? Has everyone decided there is zero chance he believes (at least partially) what he is saying?

    When he says “you could make the argument” that we’d be better in 2016 with Aybar, I don’t think that’s so disingenuous. One could make the argument–I just disagree.

    And even if he doesn’t believe it one whit, what is he supposed to say? “Hey, I thought why not lose as aggressively as possible to get that #1 pick?”

  55. @60

    Well, you’re missing the one way that it absolutely makes sense. And I know this is a crazy idea…but maybe he believes what he’s saying. And I don’t think what he’s saying is really all that ridiculous of a notion. At the current rate we’re going, we’re gonna start to accept as fact that Simmons could play both shortstop and third base at the same time, if we’re not careful.

    Now, having said that, the quotes @64 are borderline absurd. If you’re gonna do this stuff, you’re gonna have to sit there and take the pounding from the fans. I have no doubt that he thinks we’re all idiots and I’m sure 95 percent of the rest of baseball front office personnel feels the same. But most of them have the common sense to put a sock in it when it comes to their opinions on how stupid the fans are. Either he should probably do that, or he should let either Scheurholz or Hart talk to the media about fan reaction from now on.

  56. Bethancourt was pretty terrible last year, but seeing him throw out Dee Gordon a couple times during that first series makes it hard to completely give up on him so soon.

  57. Coppolella’s in a tough spot regarding PR, but his defensiveness is ratcheting up the degree of difficulty. It’s a natural response and we’ve all been there, but he doesn’t have nearly enough cachet to pull it off without really rubbing people the wrong way.

  58. @75
    I also question the genuineness of article @74 especially considering Bowman just name dropped Brayan Pena as a potential backup catcher the Braves have discussed.

  59. You may not think showing outward irritation towards a frustrated fan base is a sound strategy, but clearly the front office disagrees. Their internal metrics probably show that failing to understand fan displeasure is not as important as whinging, wishcasting blog commenters seem to think, and this explains their actions to my satisfaction.

  60. @79 – Yes! I’m going to wait and see how this outward show of contempt for customers plays out between now and 2017. Coppollela has earned that much.

  61. If I’ve learned nothing else from my sales career, nothing moves product like telling your customers they are stupid.

  62. I think most people would’ve been more pleased with this rebuilding process if we would’ve traded Kimbrel for top dollar instead of just lumping him into a salary dump.

  63. Heyward for Shelby is the only thing that looks decent to me in this whole flurry of activity. Literally every other move he’s made has non-trivial bust potential. He needs to either tell the truth and say we’re starting completely over, so please bear with us, or he needs to be locked in a closet.

  64. @84 – My single biggest complaint. Taking Maybin back and sending Melvin over were completely useless to the rebuild (until they actually spend the Melvin money on something long-term useful, anyway) and just reduced the return in talent. Nearly Texeira-for-Kotchman bad.

  65. Again, the non-hostile reading of Coppallela’s statement isn’t “the customers are stupid” (though if you’ve read the AJC comments section…), but rather “we understand if you’re unhappy at losing favorites, but the idea that we’re not trying to do what’s best for the team is absurd.”

  66. Every move has non-trivial bust potential because if you aren’t willing to accept some risk then you won’t get any value back.

    You can quibble with the particular talent they pursued, but targeting guys with bust potential is a feature of a rebuild strategy, not a bug. That’s just the nature of prospects.

  67. I’m just saying that he should stfu about how smart he is until we see some of the deals actually work. He’s not talking from a position of strength right now.

  68. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Atlanta Braves identify and develop pitchers better than most MLB organization. It is viewed as their strength. The current rebuild has doubled down on this idea.

    But allow me to play Loria’s advocate and question whether the Braves are really that good a producing top pitching talent. To the stats!

    In the last decade, the Braves have enjoyed exactly TWO seasons by a homegrown pitching talent under 30 worth more than 4.0 fWAR. Jair Jurrjens in 2009 and Tommy Hanson in 2010. Look back farther to 2000 and you can only add two Kevin Millwood seasons. The truth seems to be that the Braves do not develope aces or even reliable #2 starters.

    What the Braves HAVE done is bring lots of back end type starters.

  69. I don’t understand what you guys want Coppy to reasonably say. Someone asked him if he was trying to tank, and he said “No, and here are some examples that show we’re not”. Is that contempt for the fan base? I don’t see it.

    And even though AJP, Maybin, and Aybar are not good players, they are adequate players and veterans, and they’re exactly the type of players you try to field a roster with rather than tank. If he really were trying to lose as many games as possible, it seems like he wouldn’t have traded for Olivera, and he wouldn’t have asked for Pollock (an all-star big leaguer) for Shelby in a trade. These things just don’t jibe with your narrative, even if you hate the Olivera trade, as I do.

  70. We’re “trying to win” and fielding a team that will lose 100 games. What’s so hard about saying “we’re building a foundation for the future, this will require some patience” ?

    Aybar and AJP and Maybin aren’t exactly good poster-children for the “trying to win” rallying cry.

    Again the alternative is that we really are trying to win, and failing horribly at it. That’s a lot worse.

  71. @91, this is a great point and one I think of often. We actually haven’t developed a legit #2 starter since arguably Millwood, and before that, Steve Avery. You have to go back to the 80’s to find a legit ace, in Glavine and Smoltz (and Smoltz we traded for). BTW, we also traded for Jurrjens.

    Hoping Lucas Sims or Kolby Allard can be the next one

  72. @93, he is expressly saying that we’re building a foundation for the future, but it’s also true that they’re trying to field a non-embarrassing team in 2016 by bringing in some veterans who are better than replacement. “Trying to win” as much as this meager roster allows is different than legitimately believing you can contend for the division.

  73. Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher aren’t what you do if you are “trying to win”. Let’s try harder.

  74. Bill James published a very long piece today, nominally about the early-60’s KC Athletics, that restates my point in the original post. Here’s how he ends it:

    “I am really not a Royals’ fan anymore; when you work for a team you belong to that team heart and soul. But I thought that this year’s Royals team, honestly, was one of the most impressive teams that I have ever seen.

    And. . .yeah, the bullpen is sensational, and yes, they do an amazing job of moving baserunners and all of that, but what this organization has done so brilliantly in recent years is exactly what the A’s did so phenomenally badly in the first years that I was a baseball fan, when we were always coming up with great young rookies who somehow never took a step forward. They believed in their young players, and they stayed with them. The A’s gave up on Dick Howser as soon as he struggled, and they gave up on Lou Klimchock in a heartbeat, and they gave up on Manny Jimenez and they gave up on Billy Bryan and Nelson Mathews—but the Royals didn’t give up on anybody. They didn’t give up on Luke Hochevar after he had a 6.55 ERA as a starting pitcher; they just found a different role for him. They didn’t give up on Alex Gordon when he struggled; they just found a different role for him. They didn’t give up on Eric Hosmer, and they didn’t give up on Mike Moustakas—and I will tell you honestly that I didn’t believe in Mike Moustakas; I was in the habit of referring to him as Mike Mistakeous. But the Royals believed in the guys they had, and they worked to make better players out of them—and that is why they richly deserved this championship that they have now won.”

    It’s only his opinion (although if you read the whole piece it’s a very meticulous opinion), and it doesn’t mean that any of our guys are going to blossom, but damn if I think we’d be extremely foolish not to give them a chance, every one of them.

  75. The Braves actually have signed and developed several other starters who had some seasons that should at least be close to qualifying for your definition. Without looking at fwar or bwar I can name a few, Wainwright, J Schmidt, O Perez, J Locke, C Morton, B Chen, J Marquis come to mind. But the Braves traded them all before their primes in an effort to ‘win now’.

  76. Thru 1998 there was simply no place to put anyone but a “fifth starter,” as we were still running Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Millwood/Neagle out there. Flipped Neagle out of Odalis in 1999. Lost Smoltz to injury, then the pen for a while, in 2000. Replaced him with John Burkett’s WTF season and some innings eaten by Andy Ashby. Bruce Chen and Jason Marquis also in the mix there. As late as 2002 Maddux and Glavine are still top of the rotation, so not sure who precisely we’re going to develop as the “#1” there. That was also Damian Moss’ WTF season.

    You don’t really get to a point to where you have a spot for a #1 until 2003 or so.

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