The Most 2015 Moment of 2015 – Fredi’s Big Idea (by Edward)

Ed. note: For those of you with heart conditions, or who are with young and impressionable children, we ask that you turn around in your seats.

June 11th, versus the Padres.
As a group, we don’t give Fredi Gonzalez nearly enough credit for creativity. When he screws up, everyone notices—maybe even a little too much. When he’s quiet and effective, only a few of us (I should say: a few of you, since I’m a charter member of the He-Man Fredi-haters) stick up for him. And all of us agree that, at the very least, he doesn’t stand in the way of good players all the time. But Fredi the Innovator? That’s a stretch. Bear with me.

It’s mid-June. As the days have grown longer, the shine on the new season has begun to fade. The players are showing signs of listlessness, and they’ve lost a few more lately than they did in April, and at first pitch the Braves are at an uninspiring 29-30. But Fredi’s a veteran manager. He knows the season is always going to have it’s ups and downs. He’s got to keep his eye on the big picture. He knows that 29-30 can be a launchpad to 40-32 if his team regains their mojo and if he pushes the right buttons.

Plan A, though, is to leave the buttons alone. (There is some evidence to support this decision, as the buttons did not have a very good season.) It took Julio a minute to settle in, but he’s been a machine since the 2nd, facing a mere one batter more than the minimum over six innings. With a 4-1 lead heading into the top of the 8th, and Jim Johnson getting the day off after having pitched the last three running, Fredi does his best Cosmo Kramer impression and tries to see just how far below the E he can ride his starter.

It’s not the worst idea he’s ever had, but it backfires. That’s baseball. Julio gives up two singles, and he’s clearly on his way to walking strikeout-prone Wil Myers. The gears start turning. Maybe it’s the gnawing feeling that if he can just find the magic switch, he can turn this rag-tag team into something. Maybe it’s the temptation that, with one bold move, he could open up a blue ocean to the rest of managers and be glorified into eternity. Maybe for a few minutes in the 8th General Tosca neglects his primary task of poking the skipper whenever he appeared to be thinking too much. Whatever the cause, Fredi has a breakthrough.

[Cue interior monologue.]
The line-up. The line-up is the defining feature of baseball. Nearly every time there’s an event on the baseball field, a new batter comes to the plate. I mean, how is that fair? A pitcher doesn’t even have time to get comfortable throwing to one guy before a whole new guy takes his place. What if a team bats Mark McGwire and Vlad Guerrero back-to-back? Is Tony Womack lurking? What about Jeromy Burnitz? They’re all so different. No one could possibly prepare for a thing like that. No, this is stupid. I’m going to tell Blue that this game is under protest until we can get a fairer shake for my staff. I’m going to call up Joe Torre and—wait a minute! Eureka! I’ve got a whole bullpen full of pitchers! That’s basically the same advantage!

Here’s how the rest of the inning plays out, now that Fredi has his Big Idea.

  • Teheran finishes walking Wil Myers. Bases loaded, 0 outs. Still Braves 4, Padres 1.
  • Pitching change. D. Eveland replaces J. Teheran.
  • Passed ball. Braves 4, Padres 2. Walk. Bases loaded, 0 outs.
  • Pitching change. N. Masset replaces D. Eveland.
  • Strikeout. Bases loaded, 1 out.
  • Pitching change. L. Avilan replaces N. Masset.
  • Walk. Braves 4, Padres 3. Bases loaded, 1 out.
  • Pitching change. D. Aardsma replaces L. Avilan.
  • Strikeout. Bases loaded, 2 outs.
  • Catcher’s interference. Braves 4, Padres 4. Bases loaded, 2 outs.
  • Groundout.

And scene.

In what I believe was a major league first, we saw 5 consecutive pitchers for 5 consecutive batters. Now that’s innovation. He brought in Grilli for the ninth, too, in accordance with the time-honored baseball manager tradition of Why the Hell Not?

Taking a quick tally from the (absolutely excellent) comment thread time stamps, it was 32 minutes of pitching change hell, with Ugly Betty’s ugliest betties sprinkled in for good measure. We lost the game in extra innings once the Padres discovered that “Last Man Standing” Brandon Cunniff wasn’t a real major league pitcher.

[Cue interior monologue.]
Shoot. That’s what I get for thinking too much. I guess I can forget about that 2016 extension.

127 thoughts on “The Most 2015 Moment of 2015 – Fredi’s Big Idea (by Edward)”

  1. Look at those names we were trotting out there. Eveland, Masset, and Aardsma. Sheesh.

    From the previous thread, I agree with everything said on Saban. Wife doesn’t want to leave, Bama would never let him go, but I do agree more with the uniqueness of the Indy opportunity. He’s not desperate for an NFL job, but I can only imagine a guy as competitive as him would want a job like Indy. Luck could really shine with an excellent head coach. Saban’s the best one out there. If Bama will do anything to keep Saban, why wouldn’t Indy do more to get him?

  2. Per DOB, Olivera got released from his winter ball team. Was playing pretty bad, but no idea why he got cut. Probably not a great omen though either way.

  3. Here’s the game thread for the day: We were on fire. Real good stuff starts around AAR’s radio transcription @71.

    @Alex, I want to apologize publicly for the formatting hell I put you through on this post. You’re a hero for muddling through.

    @3, Just some good fuel for the old hot stove right when we need it.

  4. We will hate this trade for a very long time. Rebuilding club trading young cost controlled “talent” for a 30yr old rookie with no glove

  5. Olivera could be the right player, but he is on the wrong team. This fanbase has no desire to sit around on him. I really just want him to have a season on the major league club to see who the heck he is. I’m tired of hearing what he might or might not be, or what he did in the AFL or the Cuban league or Spring Training. I want to see how he plays on a major league baseball team.

  6. Trading for a 30 year old that’s been out of baseball for 2 years and has never faced MLB competition is the craziest shit I’ve ever seen. Trust the rebuild.

  7. Not that it has any effect on the Olivera trade, but Gondeee’s got his off-season prospect list up and it kind of makes me happy. A little bit. Good notes about the international kids we’ve picked up over the last couple years.

    Duke’s at number 1.

  8. It’s not the winter-ball contract status that’s concerning, it’s that he can’t hit single-A level pitching.

  9. Best case scenario:
    – Olivera still can’t hit
    – Our team doesn’t understand how to get in front of a potential PR problem, like a normal procedural move that could get blown out of proportion

  10. But is there an innocent explanation for his hitting .275/.343/.304 while there?

    As it’s almost Christmas, I’d like to propose El Elefante Blanco as the new Braves’ Winter League-inspired nickname.

  11. The Olivera thing IS puzzling. I didn’t understand the trade when it happened and now that he is apparently a LF and not a 3b it makes even less sense. .304 SLG? Man thats Judy level ‘slugging’ that makes Markakis look like Bryce Harper.

  12. Olivera is kind of a white elephant gift. We had a shiny new Peraza, but the Dodgers held the last choice and swapped us a re-wrapped, used up old Olivera. Now, we try to convince ourselves that we really wanted the Olivera in the first place and that Peraza was so much sour grapes.

  13. Maybe Olivera will have a huge first half and we can trade him for pitching prospects.

    @22, Of limited value, yes. Worthless, no. If a player really struggles against poor competition, it’s not a good sign. If he crushes poor competition, it doesn’t mean much. What’s more important in this case is the small sample size, since anyone can have a bad run, even against bad competition.

  14. They clearly like the pitchers they’ve gotten in the last year. It seems like they’re doing a good job of getting multiple bidders and seeing who will lose their mind. I like it!

    What if you get a haul similar to what the Pads got for Kimbrel? Do you do it?

  15. @14 and @26: If I don’t see that on a sign at a game next year, I will be disappointed. One of us needs to make it happen.

  16. @24,25

    Personally, I wait to move Miller at the deadline. I do not see any reason to reduce our bankable starting rotation to one member until we sort out who else can handle a year in the bigs. A flyer on Bud Norris doesn’t count.

    Nothing can break a team like staring at a loss 4 out of every 5 games.

  17. I was pretty excited about us possibly being in on Joc Pederson until I looked up the stats. He was an All Star, #6 in ROY voting, hit 26 homeruns, but batted .210 with a .763 OPS. He’ll only be 24, but his .210 BA needs a lot more work than I thought.

  18. Joc Pederson: three true outcomes against righties, just one or maybe two true outcomes against lefties.

    If we can’t count on Shelby for the next time we’re going to contend and Pederson is the best we can get, that’s fine. But please, no more Andrelton deals where we feel the need to take an OK pitcher back in the trade. Let’s just rip the band-aid off and be done with it if that’s what we’re doing.

  19. I would have to agree with 31 and 32 above, but I was still surprised at how far the rose blooms fell in the 2nd half.

  20. Someone may have found a massive hole in Pederson’s swing. Or maybe variance or rookie growing pains. Those aren’t mutually exclusive. Either way, he wouldn’t be available if his 2nd half had been like his first half.

  21. I’m not sure he is available. The reports I read are that the Braves asked for Pederson, not that he was offered. Willing to be corrected though.

    The story above has been edited to remove Pederson btw

  22. If they get Ozuna, then he plays center. Does anyone think that Bourn has any trade value, assuming the Braves pick up a lot of his contract? I guess you really get into a “how much should you pay for a prospect” line of thinking, a la Toussaint, at that point.

  23. Everything I’ve heard is that the Braves are throwing out some names and Pederson was one of them. I’m very happy to see that we are finally being linked to some good young hitting talent. There have been so many “great” pitching prospects, it will be nice to actually look forward to a great hitting prospect, whoever it is.

  24. I see no trade value for Bourn. A team that can envision sufficient playing time for Bourn to justify trading for him is in no position as a franchise to be doing things like trading for Michael Bourn.

  25. Any deal for Bourn or Swisher will be part of a “take less return in prospects and we’ll take that salary off of your books” type deal.

  26. @mlbbowman: DejaVu — The Braves have signed right-handed reliever Jim Johnson to a one-year deal. They signed him on Dec. 3 last year.

  27. @45, 46 – The Olivera trade is looking better already.

    Seriously, Olivera might hit; there’s no point in not finding out. I think the main puzzler is that while it’s possible that he improves for a couple of years, 2016 or 17 is also liable to be his peak.

    Notwithstanding, I would like to bypass the 5 year waiting period and nominate “El Elefante Blanco” for the Braves Journal Glossary Hall of Fame.

  28. I really like some of these moves. If the Braves can’t maximize the ceiling of the roster (adding elite talent), then they can add wins by raising the floor. I’ve mentioned before that the Braves are developing much more depth with better than replacement level players than they did last year. With Johnson, that’s 33, in my estimation, better than replacement level players for 2016.

    Last year, the Braves had 22 guys who either had at least 75 PA or 20 IP (33 total) who registered negative VORP. If the Braves can remove the absolute black holes from the roster, then they’re sure to see additional wins. There were just simply too many times where the Braves ran someone out there that wasn’t anywhere close to being a major league baseball player, and, in my opinion, that’s just low hanging fruit to fix.

  29. 49 – Like a white elephant gift exchange. We really don’t know what we’re getting with Olivera. And we may have gotten stuck with the undesirable gift on the swap.
    And it was in winter league when Gattis was dubbed El Oso Blanco.

  30. Why is it that 25 is apparently too old for a rebuild? I just don’t understand the desire to move who could win 20 games on a good team.

  31. Who cares about Peraza? It’s Wood that was the prize.

    This team keeps talking about pitching, while trading all their proven good pitchers away.

  32. I’m still amazed that we let Wood go and I don’t want us to lose Miller. However, I’m not sure if Miller’s value will ever be much higher. I’m fully on board with us considering trading Miller and asking a huge price for him – especially if it’s a power hitter. There is no rush and it will be great if we keep him. As long as we have that outlook, we can possibly land someone who will help us for a long time to come. Besides, Miller doesn’t know how to win. (-;

  33. Mariners pushing hard to Trade Trumbo today. Should we have interest? Would be a good bat to help in the middle of the order.

  34. Trumbo is an extremely mediocre hitter. .250 lifetime average and a .758 lifetime OPS tells me to pass. I would only take him if he could play catcher, and that ain’t happening.

  35. Put Trumbo in LF and let Elefante go back to 3b where he can relax and concentrate on hitting and not have to learn a new position?

  36. Look, I get that he’s young and local and was loved as a UGA grad, but there’s probably a few LA fans asking “we traded Olivera for a mediocre back of the rotation starter with a funky delivery and declining K rates?!”

  37. Not sure what Trumbo brings, unless the Angles take Nick Swisher’s contract in return.

  38. I’m all for getting Trumbo if we don’t have to give up any of our top 40 prospects. He’s not really worth what he will get in arb this season. Trading assets to pay $10 mil to an average hitter who is almost as bad a liability in the outfield as Nick Swisher isn’t very appealing to me.

    I heard the Rockies are in on him, which makes sense. He could play 1B for them and he might hit 40 HR up there.

  39. I wonder if Prince Fielder is available to play RF. Nobody ever hits the ball out there anyway

  40. If we trade Miller for Soler I’m not sure how much more pissed off I could get with our teams front office

  41. I don’t understand trading Miller at all. I thought we were trying to hoard young, controllable, high ceiling pitching…which is what Miller already is.

  42. If the Braves front office thinks Shelby Miller’s FIP and xFIP are more who he is than his ERA, then it makes sense to sell high.

    If the Braves front office thinks:
    – we won’t be good again before Miller departs as a FA;
    – the pitching we have in the minors will yield us at least one 3 WAR starter either directly or by trade;
    – we can get a younger position player that carries some risk but also the reward of more team control than Miller, e.g. Ozuna/Pederson;
    then it also makes sense to trade Miller.

  43. @52 – It’s not his age, obviously. It’s his years of control, and how they lineup with our projected competitive window.

    @71 – Here, I’ll explain.

    Shelby Miller has 3 seasons of control, 16, 17 and 18. In 2016 the Braves will not be in contention. In 2017 the Braves MIGHT not be in contention. That leaves just 2018 where Miller is of maximum marginal value to the Braves.

    He also plays a position, starting pitcher, that right now projects to be our only position of strength when our competitive window does open.

    If you can trade wins from a season where their marginal value is low (ie, a season where you’re reasonably sure you won’t be competing for a championship) to get MORE wins that will fall into a season where their marginal value is higher (ie, you expect to compete for a championship) then you are maximizing your resources.

    If a team needs Miller’s extra wins this season to be that much more sure they’ll make it into the post season tournament, and they’ll trade you 6 full seasons of control on multiple players, and they look like players you like, then you make the trade. Especially if the return diversifies the depth of your team (ie, brings a hitter when you’ve got tons of pitching.)

    Secondary to that motivation, is the notion that a team at the bottom of the competitive cycle has the advantage of being a display window for the rest of the league.

    For example, last year the Mets could have had Kelly Johnson and the Dodgers Callaspo for only money and a roster spot. But they didn’t know their needs, they didn’t know the marginal value of wins, and they didn’t have the roster space or at bats to give to a reclamation project.

    The Braves needs were myriad, the Braves roster had space and the Braves had at bats to give to a reclamation project. The Braves gave enough ABs to those players that they established a value higher than the dollars paid them, and they each brought long term value back, I b stead of only low marginal win value in a non-competitive season.

    As a rebuilding team, maximum playing time should be given to developing players you hope will be on the next winning Braves team. Every start, at bat or inning pitched by a player who is unlikely to contribute to winning Braves seasons, would optimally be given to a player at a low point in their value, with the hope that they recoup value and can be traded for long term value.

    Miller has established his value, and it’s a high point in his value. If you believe strongly that he’ll only increase it, you wait. If you don’t believe that strongly, you trade him now.

    If you are close to competing, you consider extending him. But the Braves need hitting in order to compete. So that’s out.

    They could trade prospect pitching for hitting, but the return will be less and the cost potentially greater. 6 years of Newcomb is arguably more valuable than 3 years of Miller, because even if Newcomb isn’t AS good as Miller, he’s here twice as long, and you’re hoping that all 6 of his tears overlap your competitive windiw, instead of 1.5 of Miller’s years.

    Also, there’s the matter that teams that are willing to give away close-to-MLB or actual MLB hitters with lots of control, are only willing to do so because they want to compete now. If they’re willing to wait until Newcomb is ready, they are likely at the bottom of the competitive cycle, and aren’t in a position to trade away multi-control-years bats.

  44. Building around talented 23 year-olds who, being position players, are more likely to stay healthy and definitely can be controlled for longer?

    Shelby Miller is the one non-terrible asset we have to trade that isn’t selling low and won’t apparently drive the fanbase into apoplexy. In other words, he’s one of maybe two or three good players on our team. There may be a certain point at which you don’t build around talented 25-year olds, but we’re not at that point.

  45. I understand trading Miller. However, he’s the only real asset we have to trade from. A even swap for Jorge Soler isn’t an even trade for us IMO

  46. Hey I just posted that!

    I’m with you on the statistics line. I still wish we’d sign him for 200, though.

  47. Jason Heyward
    wishful thinking, wanton, wayward
    cannot hit for power
    but hey, he runs around at twenty miles an hour.

  48. That Jason Heyward silliness is the end point of what happens when you take defensive metrics as gospel and don’t stop to think about whether what you’re doing makes any common sense whatsoever. It allows you to convince yourself of such nonsensical goodies as Jason Heyward being worth making the highest-paid player in baseball history, including being worth $43.4 million in one season at the peak. That’s just…well, nuts.

  49. @87 – In this case, trading your best pitcher speeds up the timeline.

    The Braves aren’t ever going to compete if they don’t trade some pitching for hitting.

    The prospect pitchers won’t return much hitting now. If you wait for them to establish their value, you’re counting down your control on Teheran and Miller, until they are either gone, or retained at Free Agent prices. If you keep them, lose while they’re cheap and then extend them when you start getting good, you’re better having traded them while you were bad and signed someone else when you got good.

    Look at it this way. Shelby Miller was great and he still led the universe in losses. If we don’t get some hitters, we’ll continue to lose, no matter who we run out there.

  50. I’m not sure if this trade is really about the current timeline of competition. You’re trading value for value, which should not increase or decrease the rebuild, but the nature of being a rebuilding team is irrelevant. The logic for “trade Miller while you’re not very good” is the same logic as “don’t trade for Random Power Hitter while you’re not very good.”

    I think a point being missed here is the relative value between Miller’s replacement and the position player you would be forcing to the bench. If you trade for a Pederson or Ozuna, you’re forcing Smith to the bench in the same way trading Miller because you’re rebuilding puts a young player in the rotation. While the young player will be in the rotation for the “good” years, you’re not giving Smith the same opportunity to develop.

    That’s why it goes back to value for value. If the Braves have identified a soft spot in the market for cost-effective elite starting pitcher, and you can get more value back in a trade, then yeah, go ahead and do it. And if you feel like the drop off between Miller and the next starting pitcher in line is less than the improvement from Smith/Bourn to Random Power Hitter, then go ahead and do it. Plus, they may know something we don’t. They may know that Banuelos is completely healthy, that Miller is due for a regression, and the drop off is minimal. They may be trying to overhype Mallex Smith for a trade and see a huge gap between Smith and a potential replacement. But if not, don’t just trade Shelby to trade him.

  51. Other than Jason Kendall and Dennys Neagle, what good players did the Pirates have between 1993 and 2012?

    The Pirates were bad because they drafted badly and cheaply and I’m pretty sure everyone knows that.

  52. If the #Braves trade Shelby Miller, they’d like a MLB-ready pitcher in the return. Blair fits that description


  53. @94 – I don’t know why that’s surprising. The team is considering offering arbitration to the carcass of Mike Minor, regardless of trading Miller. If you get the bat you want, there’s no harm in getting an arm who’s readiness falls between the Wisler/Banuelos/Folty class and Tyrell Jenkins.

  54. @85, It’s shoddy thinking at the exorbitant contract values the article promotes–but it’s a very good argument that Heyward at just under $200 would be a fine deal (for a deal on the free agent market, anyhow.)

  55. Word is from that Kirby Smart will be Georgia’s next head coach and will take Bama’s strength and conditioning coach, Scott Cochran, with him. Losing Cochran may be harder for Bama than losing Smart. I think Cochran is the best around at what he does.

  56. @98 – A OC or DC is always a huge gamble if he hasn’t had head coaching experience – no matter how good he is. See Muschamp, Will, among others.

  57. I think that the Braves think that Shelby Miller is closer to being a league average starting pitcher than an ace. They are seeing what the market is for him at this high point of his value.

  58. From the Braves’ MLB site:
    The Braves are expected to tender a contract to each of their other four arbitration-eligible players — Shelby Miller, Chris Withrow, Pedro Ciriaco and Arodys Vizcaino. (Minor expected to be non-tendered).

    Can anyone on earth explain why you tender a contract to Pedro Ciriaco????

  59. Mark Richt was an assistant coach with 2 national-championship rings (FSU in ’93 & ’99). Vince Dooley was an assistant coach with a nat-champ ring (Auburn in ’57). Those 2 hirings of guys with no head-coaching experience worked out pretty well for UGA. Of course, neither of those guys would ever be confused for Will Muschamp.

    As for Kirby Smart, recruiting shouldn’t be an issue, so for the moment I’m more interested in his organizational acumen & attention to detail. If it’s anything akin to Saban-level, we’re in business.

    That said, Coach Smart, you might wanna give Jacob Eason a buzz come Sunday morning…

  60. @92, there’s no question the drafts were awful. But:

    • They traded Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton for Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez
    • They literally released Tim Wakefield after two years, and he then spent the next 17 years in Boston
    • They traded Tony Womack for Jason Boyd and Paul Weichard, who played a grand total of 113 games in the major leagues combined
    • They traded Jay Bell and Jeff King for Joe Randa and some other Jeffs who never did anything — Jeff Granger, Jeff Wallace, and Jeff Martin
    • They traded Esteban Loaiza for Todd Van Poppel
    • They traded Jon Lieber for Brant Brown
    • They traded Jason Schmidt for the Giants for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong, a decade before he was good
    • They released Elmer Dessens, who stayed in the league for another 10 years
    • They traded Jose Guillen for Humberto Cota and Joe Oliver

    That was all from 1994-1998. They were terrible for another decade and a half after that. They didn’t just suck at drafting talent — they sucked at evaluating it all the way around. They constantly traded decent major league talent for lottery tickets that didn’t pan out.

  61. Trading Shelby Miller… for those that just can’t get enough rebuild.

    Can’t wait to see what fun pitching prospects the Braves can get for him. Maybe, with a little luck, in a few years they’ll be as good as Miller is right now.

  62. With the contract David Price is about to sign, the price tag for what we can get for Miller just went up.

    Once Zack Greinke signs, then we will get what we want for Miller.

  63. I’m tired of advocating for why, in context, trading Shelby Miller now is the right move in theory, only to see a crappier return in reality than I expected. Coppolella needs to make an actual good move before I waste more time.

    Whichever of the Dodgers or Giants who loses out on Greinke could fork over something that’ll make us forget Shelby or they may look to improve their teams in other ways.

  64. Minor seems like a reasonable gamble with the current FA prices.

    #95 – it’s surprising to me because he’s our best trade piece and once again we may not be looking for the overall best return. We are also limiting our potential trade partners by requiring a MLB ready arm in the trade. Reminds me of the Tex deal when we got Kotchman and Simmons with Aybar

  65. Trading Shelby Miller makes all the sense in the world. Someone who can’t pay 20MM/year will give up serious prospects for him. He’s not the “ace” he seemed to be last year and his production is replaceable somewhere in this crop of pitchers.

  66. Miller, Aybar, and Jace Peterson for Cory Seager if the Dodgers lose out on Grienke.

    If we get good return for Miller and sign Heyward, I will say we won that trade :)

  67. @75,

    I think there’s one big flaw in your/the Braves thinking: it deals in probabilities rather than plans.

  68. @110, I’m picturing some kind of three-way that moves Puig/Ethier/Pederson to a team in need of immediate outfield help and a real nice big-bopping prospect for us, because the Dodgers don’t have a back-up plan for Cory Seager.

  69. @109

    ‘somewhere in this crop’
    the rotating wheel may indeed stop
    real class indicated
    trade him too, they’ll think they’re vindicated.

  70. @107

    I have to think Miller is headed to San Fran, Arizona LA or Chicago for a bat that is MLB ready. I think the bidding war has just started for him.

  71. @111 – I genuinely don’t understand the nature of your comment. What sort of planning, in baseball terms, doesn’t deal in probabilities? The decision to sign David Price for 7 years is a matter of probabilities. Offering Jason Heyward $200 is a matter of probabilities. Deciding to keep Shelby Miller is just as much a matter of probabilities as deciding to trade him.

  72. @115, Well my key words were ‘rather than’–of course a team is going to assess its risk with any contract/trade/keep.

    But here’s where we diverge, from your post:

    “Shelby Miller has 3 seasons of control, 16, 17 and 18. In 2016 the Braves will not be in contention. In 2017 the Braves MIGHT not be in contention. That leaves just 2018 where Miller is of maximum marginal value to the Braves.
    He also plays a position, starting pitcher, that right now projects to be our only position of strength when our competitive window does open.”

    You’re right that other teams will value him more than we do in 2016, but this whole thing smacks of waiting to ask somebody on a date because she’s probably hoping to be asked by another guy soon, so why don’t you wait until that guy’s unavailable/broken-up-with before you do anything?

    Whether Shelby Miller is a part of it or not, we’ve got to plan to put good players on the field, and we need to do it sooner than later. Competitive windows are very murky. You don’t project one and then just wait until you’re in it. You try to grab the damn window and pull it a little closer every chance you get.

    Where probability ought to come in is in insuring that if your grab at the window doesn’t work out it doesn’t move you farther away.

    I see the Braves actively walking away from the competitive window because they’re thinking along your lines. That’s it’s own kind of high-risk, and I don’t like it.

  73. @ 82/83

    said Croesus
    no, not that guy with the eephus
    the two who throw hard
    we’ll call them our Praetorian Guard.

  74. @96

    Yeah, I agree he’s worth a large contract. Would I pay him that large contract if it were my money? Probably not, to be honest, but given the current market, $200 million is not out of the question. He’ll get a lot of money from someone, but my issue was more with that guy who wrote the article who appears to be all-in on defensive metrics to the point where he would spend up to 40 percent of a team’s payroll on Jason Heyward.

  75. @116 – I understand that objection, in isolation. But my point is, the decision to trade Miller doesn’t rest on one item in isolation.

    Miller was better than he’s ever been and this offense lost basically every game he pitched.

    In order to grab that window and pull it closer, we need to acquire some hitting while not stepping too far back in pitching.

    If you believe Teheran’s first half was a blip, and he’ll improve going forward, and you believe that Wisler, Banuelos and Foltynewicz will improve with health and experience, then you can reasonably conclude that swapping Miller and his on-paper wins out for a hitter of similar value to play behind all 5 starters will result in more actual wins than you lose by sending Bud Norris out there instead of Shelby Miller.

    That the similar valued bat might have more years of control, or come over with a pitcher is a bonus.

    The idea behind the rebuild, or any rebuild, is to try to get the hitters and the pitchers to arrive at a close enough time to one another that the years overlap as much as possible, creating a window of opportunuty. Miller’s there already, and the hitters aren’t. Rather than watching his service time expire waiting for Rio Ruiz yo figure it out, it would be prudent to trade him for a hitter to blossom as Wisler, Banuelos, and Folty blossom, and maybe still be around for Newcomb, Fried, etc.

  76. I really like the Vizcaino/Miller for Pollock/Blair trade. Vizcaino is a fungible asset and the Braves are signing guys like Grilli and Jim Johnson who provide the same production on the cheap (great point by, I believe, jjschiller, by the way). Blair is their #3 prospect according to, and he could very well be in the Atlanta rotation by 2017 (or end of 2016). I doubt they get him, but if you keep piling up all of this cheap pitching, then it’s freaking inevitable that this team will be very good for the greater part of the next decade.

    With the signings of Carpenter and Johnson, they’re clearly gambling that they can fix these two pitchers. If they’re right, then you’d have a bullpen full of guys you’ll need on your roster because they’re either short-term very effective, or guys that need reps in 2016 for the long haul. You’d potentially have a bullpen of Grilli/Johnson/Simmons/Withrow/Carpenter/Winkler (with Weber and McKirahan as depth, with Moylan potentially brought back too), and if you trade Miller, you really have to wonder how the Braves will handle Folty/Perez/Banuelos/Jenkins, and who gets what opportunity. I’d imagine Perez will be your long reliever (so your 7th and final member), and you’re going to go with Folty and Banuelos in the rotation. But if Jenkins is identified to be ready, then you have to fit him in somewhere, and this still leaves no room for Vizcaino. They’re right to get him out of here if it bridges the gap between Miller and Pollock and even gets you a solid prospect in return.

    And then, should they make this trade, what do you do with Mallex Smith?

    That’s why, when you forget the “plan” and the “windows” and just push all of the value and the talent in the system now on the table and go from there, you start making decisions that make the Braves competitive much more quickly. Fun stuff.

  77. Last thing. I can’t find a specific stat of blown leads after the 6th inning, so while inconclusive, I added up the losses of our relievers. Our relievers picked up 24 losses last year, compared to only 13 losses in both 2012 and 2013 when we had great bullpens. Good gosh, low hanging fruit. Don’t trade off all of your relievers, get some guys in there who can pitch, and shave off 6-7 losses because you can hold a dang lead. And then consider for a moment that the Big Three of Eric Stults, Ryan Weber, and Trevor Cahill accounted for 16 Braves starts, and there’s even more low hanging fruit: DON’T LET THOSE GUYS TOUCH BASEBALLS! It’s really not that hard to add 10-12 wins to the 2016 club just with those two improvements, and that’s before you consider that over 1,100 ABs went to position players who OPS’ed less than .630. DON’T DO THAT!

  78. Mallex Smith reached the high minors for the very first time this season, jumping from A+ to AA, the biggest jump in minor league ball, and he raked to the tune of .340/.418/.413 (.830).

    The Braves aggressively pushed him to AAA after only 57 games. He struggled for 30 games to adjust to AAA, but then recovered to post a line of .325/.394/.414 (.808) over his last 39 games. He also stole 57 bases across the two levels.

    He could use some more AAA time to polish his work in CF. But he has ever chance in the world to be the real deal.

    That said, you still grab AJ Pollock if he’s available. If Mallex bangs down the door, Pollock looks just as good in RF as he does in CF.

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