The Most 2015 Moment of 2015: The Day the Music Died

September 1st, versus the Marlins.

You may be forgiven for overlooking the importance of September 1st when you study the history of the 2015 Atlanta Braves. The seventh in a streak of 12 consecutive losses, the fifteenth game of a stupefying 1-19 run, another short start by a young pitcher, one of altogether too many futile showings from our Murmurer’s Row–it doesn’t stand out at first glance. But look a little closer and you’ll find out why it was a big day in Atlanta: the future of the organization made his debut.

“€œThere’€™s no accounting for taste,” my mother will say to me whenever she sees somebody wearing an atrocious outfit. (Case in point: the woman in the gaudy fur hat at Kauffman Stadium throughout the playoffs. Mom never could account for her.) True as it rings on almost any occasion, that venerable, versatile expression falters the face of the deal to bring Hector Olivera to Atlanta. Is there any accounting for waste? Here, Mom, see what you can do with the scenario as of July 29th, 2015.

  1. The Braves are rebuilding.
  2. The Braves are making moves to acquire cost-controlled starting pitching good enough to pitch on a starting staff in 2017 and beyond.
  3. Alex Wood has proven he can pitch in a major-league starting rotation.
  4. Alex Wood is, at the Braves’ exclusive discretion, under contract at cheap-to-reasonable rates through 2019.
  5. The Braves know they need to make long-term upgrades at several positions, preferably through player development.
  6. Jose Peraza can play second base, has good speed, and in a down year at triple-A is still hitting close to .300.
  7. Jose Peraza is under team control until 2022.
  8. Jace Peterson, with a .242/.322/.335 line after play on July 29th doesn’t appear to be blocking anybody who could come up and help out at the keystone.
  9. Jose Peraza is 21 years old.
  10. With some notable exceptions, players tend to decline in their 30s both at the plate and in the field.
  11. Hector Olivera is 30.
  12. It is not clear whether Hector Olivera can play an infield position.
  13. It is not clear whether Hector Olivera can play an outfield position.
  14. It is not clear whether Hector Olivera can hit major league pitching.
  15. It is not abundantly clear that Hector Olivera can hit minor league pitching.
  16. It is not known whether Hector Olivera can still hit at all, anywhere.
  17. The Braves literally already have a Hector Olivera. His name is Adonis Garcia.
  18. Adonis Garcia has a more team-friendly contract than Hector Olivera.

As was only natural, the Braves traded Alex Wood and Jose Peraza for Hector Olivera and some breed of Bird on July 30th. “Okay,” we all said while we scratched our heads, “they must see something really special in him.” He was the slugger we’d been waiting for, the Cuban defector to beat all Cuban defectors, the heir to the great #10, the balm for horrible wound that was latter day Braves fandom.

August passed like a good night’s sleep after a bad day. We closed our eyes to the demi-god’s unlikely success with the Big Club; we closed our eyes to another uninspiring month from Jace; we closed our eyes to Olivera’s 16 minor league games–in which he managed only 10 hits. Well, with the Braves playing like they had their eyes closed, it isn’t any wonder that ours were.

When we awoke, the future was upon us. It looked…funny…and uncomfortable…and a little hapless. Olivera went 0-fer that first night with a tapper to the mound, an easy grounder to 3rd, a flyout, and a swinging strikeout, and just like that our dreams of a Big Bopper were no more. I can’t remember if I cried.

111 thoughts on “The Most 2015 Moment of 2015: The Day the Music Died”

  1. These are fantastic.

    And from the previous thread, I LOL’ed at the “I was beside myself” line.

  2. Edward I feel like you’re dangerously close to criticizing Coppy. Coppy doesn’t like that. He’s got a plan. A good plan. He’d tell you what it is, but it’s a secret. Be a good fan and go buy some season tickets before the Gordon Beckham hype prices you out.

  3. If you squint, Flowers could be a second-division starter. But if the Braves don’t believe that Bethancourt can be at least as good as Tyler Flowers, then they should put him out of his misery.

    Again, though, the Braves gave Bethancourt a grand total of one week as a starter before relegating him to be A.J. Pierzysnki’s backup. I think they devalued their own merchandise and are now forced to dumpster-dive.

  4. @9, agreed. The issue with signing Tyler Flowers is “why?” If the rationale is to help develop our young pitchers, I’d say OK. If it’s just because he’s likely to be a win better than Betty in a part-time role in 2016, that’s not worth the opportunity cost of developing Betty. If the Braves are sure that Betty can’t be developed into a better-than-replacement catcher, then Flowers is a decent signing, and Betty should be traded.

  5. I don’t get the Tyler Flowers love either. If we are going to lose 100 games, let’s see what Bethancourt can do.

  6. I think they clearly think that Bethancourt is missing something upstairs. And if you’re going to have 7-8 rookies (or more) on your staff, you’re rebuilding with pitching, and you’re unsure about your catcher, then go ahead and get two catchers who handle pitchers really well. It’s not worth it to see if Bethancourt can hit or develop his handling of the pitching staff. Go put offense everywhere else but the two places where you’re sacrificing offense to have veteran leadership (RF and C).

  7. And label me happy if Hyun-soo Kim ends up in a Braves uniform. How many 28 year old potential game changers are available right now?

  8. It’s the pitch framing that excites me about Flowers. I feel like he could be Russell Martin-lite – underappreciated by the Dodgers because of high offensive expectations, flourished for the Yankees/Pirates after the DFA by his original team. It’s the defense that bothers me about Bethancourt too – he literally does only one single thing well, and it happens to be the least valuable defensive aspect of his position. Unless he somehow improves his defense drastically (which seems like a feel/instinct kind of thing that would be really hard to drastically improve on) then his ceiling, IF he hits a little, is Ryan Doumit or something similarly craptastic.

  9. Remember when we traded Tyler Flowers and Brent Lillibridge for a Cy Young caliber season from Javy Vazquez?

  10. —————————
    Tyler Flowers
    Has the powers
    To frame wayward pitches
    To scout hitter’s hitches
    And catch the ball before it gets to the the backstop

    Christian Bethancourt
    Does
    Not
    —————————

  11. Twitter news from the day:
    1. Hyeon Soo Kim has been heavily scouted by Braves and has multiple offers from clubs. Has played 1b and LF
    2. Shelby still very much available for the right price despite reports that suggest otherwise (never really believed the conflicting report)
    3. Braves interested in Tyler Flowers and yes, framing pitches is a real stat and his “wide body” apparently helps that.
    4. Braves are still in the O’Day race.

    And I disagree that the Braves only gave Bethancourt a small chance to take the role of starting Major League catcher. They’ve been trying to give it to him for years but he keeps pissing it away at one level or another, and there’s enough reports out there to solidify that he has attitude issues which leads to an inability to adjust.

  12. @18, yes I do, and I remember when we flipped Vasquez to the Yankees for Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Dunn, and Melqtoast Cabrera

  13. An expert on Rule 5 I am not, but wouldn’t this Jose Ramirez fella been someone that the Mariners would have just Rule 5’ed?

    Back to Hyun-soo Kim, he seems like exactly the type of player that the Braves have made all of the moves in the past 12 months to acquire. It’s just money (which the Braves have lots of), he’s young, he’s the profile of hitter they look for, and he’s an international player which the Braves seem to think they’ll find value in.

  14. If we got him Rule 5 we’d have to keep him on the ML roster. As a trade we don’t.

    Eric O’Flaherty was once drek from the M’s roster.

  15. More Twitter stuff:
    5. Braves visited Zobrist in Nashville this week. Still has 2 more stops before decision.
    6. Jose Ramirez was bad in the Minor, Majors, and Winter ball but can throw a bajillion mph.

  16. ryan c.

    The distinction is that IF Jose has “options,” he can be kept on 40 man and does not have to be added to 25 man roster.

    IF Jose is a rule 5 pick, he MUST be on 25 man roster.

  17. Smitty @16 asks:

    Is pitch framing a real stat?

    FiveThirtyEight.com on the subject today: Why The Rays Traded For A Catcher Who Can’t Throw

    More importantly, though, the Rays seem to be banking on one of this decade’s central catcher-defense discoveries: Throwing just doesn’t matter that much, relative to other aspects of the position that Conger can handle. Baseball Prospectus recently revamped its fielding stats for catchers to account for the pitchers they work with and the runners they face. Research suggests that pitchers are far more responsible for base-stealing behavior than their battery mates, so in theory, the spread in catcher throwing runs should be small. That’s exactly what BP’s numbers reveal: The range between the best- and worst-throwing catcher in 2015 was only 6.3 runs, slightly smaller than the range in blocking runs (6.9), and a fraction of the range in framing runs (44.2). Conger, who ranked among baseball’s best framers from 2013 to 2014 — which may have made him attractive to the framing-friendly Astros — declined sharply last season but remained above average as both a blocker and a receiver, more than making up for his league-worst throwing-runs rate.

    So, the cutting edge of statistical analysis for catcher defense says framing is by far the most important aspect of a catcher’s game, while the single skill that Bethancourt has, throwing, is fundamentally an aspect of pitching. (Caught stealings come down to pitcher delivery more than catcher throwing.)

  18. This may be a dumb question: How do you trade for someone without finalizing the return?

    I understand “player to be named later” is a common return, but the core concept is evading me.

  19. You trade for a PTBNL or cash considerations. If in the next few months the teams identify a player the M’s want that the Braves will part with, they’ll complete the deal. If they can’t, they’ll name a price. There have been instances of PTBNL deals that weren’t completed for years after the initial transaction. Hell, four players have been traded for themselves. Harry Chiti, Dickie Noles, Brad Gulden, and John McDonald were traded for a PTBNL, and were then named as the player being named and sent back to the first team.

  20. The basic idea is “we, the Mariners, have no use of this player. You, the Braves, want to take him. We will trade him to you for an IOU for another player or some undisclosed amount of money. When we agree on the player or the money, the IOU will be cashed in and the deal completed.”

  21. I’m agnostic on the effects of pitch framing, but this is from Keith Law’s most recent chat (it references Baseball Prospectus research that I don’t have access to):

    Joe: Baseball Prospectus has a lot of data on pitch framing, and basically it shows that the best pitch framing catchers get about an extra strike and a half per game. Long story short: do we seriously overrate pitch framing as analytics people?

    Klaw: I think we do, and another major reason is that it doesn’t seem to correlate well from year to year. Wasn’t Rene Rivera supposed to be great at framing? Hank Conger? How’d those work out? Now we’re chasing exit velocity the way we chased framing a year or two years ago. The value in new statistics is learning their predictive value, not in arbitrarily deciding that this one or that one is valuable before we have proof.

  22. 21 — And Vazquez flopped for the Yankees while Arodys Vizcaino finally appears to be ready to be a major league contributor.

  23. $32.5 annually and the 13th pick in the draft.

    That’s a staggering investment in one player by mid-market team.

  24. I was at this game. It was my first trip to Turner Field in 10 years. It was a Christmas present.

    I went to the concession stand 3 times. There were 0 people in line. Each time. I went to the restroom once. During the game. There were 0 people in the restroom. IN THE RESTROOM.

    P.S. – We were in the lower deck behind home plate.

  25. A Miller for Seager, Aybar for prospect, Hyun-soo Kim signing, FA pitcher signing, and playing Olivera at 3B offseason would speed up the rebuild pretty dang quickly, and would seem to fall well in line with the money Hart said was available at the beginning of the offseason. Well, Hart? Well…?

  26. The higher the price pitching is driving upward, the more Coppy will think his strategy is correct. Pitching is completely overpriced.

  27. @49
    The price for Miller just went up. Of course if he has a good year, next winter it will be even higher.

  28. I’m all for siding with labor, as Sam has mentioned on here before, but it seems like some of the salaries are getting so out of hand that teams like the Braves either can’t or won’t compete. I’m torn.

  29. I think it makes the Braves more likely to compete. Greinke won’t be a $30mil per pitcher 3-4 years from now. If the Braves can develop their pitchers we have the assets and we can almost name our price for them

  30. Baseball is flush with cash, and same for Liberty Media. Our payroll problems are our own choice/of our own making.

  31. If I’m the D-Backs, with three years of Pollock and Greinke together, I’d be willing to trade anyone who’s not going up in the next couple years for Shelby Miller.

    An off-season that lands Greinke, Miller, and room for another acquisition would be impressive (even if it meant trading Swanson).

    Also, Murmurer’s Row is a better name than Murder-Victims’ Row, which was my go-to.

  32. I advocated earlier this offseason for Ender Inciarte or David Peralta. Hey, they want to make their outfield worse by playing Yasmany Tomas more, so let’s let them.

  33. @61 That would be a great deal for value, but I don’t think it fits either teams’ plans (except that it’s too good for the Braves to care).

    All the D-Backs moves are about the next few years and the Braves have been pushing value toward the future. Swanson (and change, hopefully) makes more sense to me. The Braves have asked for Pollock frequently, but that could be part of a game.

  34. Swanson is so far away. It would seem that the Braves want to open a spot in the rotation for one of the young pitchers, but not lose any traction or value for 2016. That would explain the desire for major league position players. I really think they think they will and want to win 78-80 games this year, be respectable, and set it up for 2017.

  35. Who in our vast arsenal of hall of fame pitching prospects is going to be good in 2016? 2017? Educate me.

  36. Fella, I’m not sure if anyone has led you to believe that they feel like we have a “vast arsenal of Hall of Fame pitching prospects”, but I’ll bite, since there are some good pieces. You have a 162 game season, right? We won 67 of them last year, we want to win about 95-100 of them in 2017. 80 would be about a good goal for 2016, right? Certainly not as many as we would have won in 2015 if we kept everybody, but about the same as we’d win in 2016… had we kept them. So if you’re going to win about 80 games, how about do it this way:

    Julio Teheran – age 25 – 32 starts
    Matt Wisler – age 23 – 32 starts
    Mike Foltyniewicz – age 24 – 32 starts
    Bud Norris – age 30 – 32 starts
    Williams Perez – age 24 – 15 starts (if he pitches well, take some from Jenkins)
    Tyrell Jenkins – age 23 – 10 starts
    Manny Banuelos – age 24 – 5 starts
    Lucas Sims – age 22 – 4 starts

    You also have Jason Hursh, age 24, in there somewhere too for good measure.

    For a rebuilding team, having 80% of your team’s starts pitched by people under the age of 25 is not a bad idea, with the other 20% by a rebound candidate who could be either fantastic trade bait or someone to re-sign for your contending years. Who knows. For 2017, you introduce more of Jenkins/Sims, and then you add in Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis. There are smart professionals who feel like a good chunk of these pitchers will be very good pitchers, and the Braves supposedly made some really smart hires in the development department from an era where we did indeed have a lot of success developing pitchers.

    Take a look at the Mets. Great starting rotation, right? DeGrom is 27, Harvey is 26, Wheeler is 25, Matz is 24, and Syndergaard is 23. Wind the clock back to 2013. Wheeler was their #2 prospect, Syndergaard was #3, DeGrom was #19, and Matz was… nowhere. Please tell me… why not us? Is everyone not going to work out? Everyone’s going to underperform? Our pitching coach sucks, our minor league coaching staffs suck? Coppolella made a bunch of bad trades? Not a single soul will come out of nowhere the way Beachy and Medlen did? Not a one? Please coach me up; I’m completely lost.

  37. I don’t doubt that a good number of the prospects will become valuable players, but I have trouble believing that the team still has that timeline in mind.

    When a 21 year-old is the number one pick, he can’t be that far off. Braves discount the present, D-Backs discount the future, and everybody walks away a winner.

  38. Swanson isn’t very far away, but he can’t be traded until a year after he was drafted or signed (can’t remember which), unless that rule has changed.

  39. It would be, let’s say, closer to ideal if this rebuild featured more bankable pitching prospects, is what I think @65 is trying to say.

    Because all teams have a #2 and a #3 prospect. The odds that our #19 prospect ends up turning into DeGrom is the same as the odds that their #19 prospect ends up turning to DeGrom. We tilted things somewhat in our direction by acquiring lots of pitchers with more than average talent — but not Clayton-Kershaw-it-was-obvious-he’d-be-an-ace-all-along talent — who also came with injury/recovery risk.

    I’d want to do better than to say, “At least one of these guys has to work out” because, as Alex has been pointing out, history is littered with failed rebuilds founded on this exact premise.

    Everyone essentially did underperform last year, and there is reason — see the post for this thread — to doubt our ability to evaluate talent.

  40. If there’s reason for optimism, it’s that Lucas Sims demonstrated actual command and had success this winter.

  41. The Mets have had three pitching prospects that were borderline phenoms – unanimously predicted to be very good. I don’t think we have that, and thus the Mets comparison is kinda silly.

  42. @69

    Right. All teams have a #2 and a #3, and it is odd for a #19 to become DeGrom. That’s why I look at this situation from some points of philosophy, and I can’t help but also relate it to my college football team, Florida. So many teams will limp through mediocrity for years until they get good again. Teams like the Mets and Cubs took 3-4 years to get back to a 95+ win team, and some teams like the Pirates took even longer. I relate it to UF and FSU. FSU limped to 3 6-loss seasons in 4 years at the end of the Bowden era, and it took Jimbo 3 years to get the program back. Muschamp had two seasons of poor play, they ripped the band-aid off, and instead of letting it get worse, a new coach came and had a quicker fix. Florida will be a very strong team next year, two years after a new regime. A lot more things in play there, like Bobby Bowden, but the point is that Florida didn’t wait too long to make the tough calls, and it shortened the down period.

    No one has done what Atlanta did. Teams rebuild when they have to. So many still don’t think the Braves should have rebuilt. They won 79 games with mostly a team that had won 96 games the year before. Why blow that up? But they knew that they could become the Mets, the Cubs, the Phillies, etc. who limp on to 75-80 win seasons for multiple seasons until they have a DeGrom/Harvey/Syndergaard or Bryant/Soler/Schwarber to fall into place with the rest of their pieces at the right time. The Braves, for better or for worse, have had an organizational philosophy since the early 90’s, and they took drastic, specific steps to get back to that. Fire Wren, hire Roy Clark, promoted Brian Bridges, and mass-accumulated pitching prospects. I’m also confident that they re-addressed the pitching coach position, and decided that McDowell made sense in the rebuild effort. The non-action there was probably action too. And the proof so far is in the pudding: they went from a 28-30th farm system to a top 10 farm system, and another season will do quite a bit to mature the talent.

    So when I say, “why not us?”, I say that because the Braves are uniquely positioned to develop the starting pitching talent quickly. The Braves, over the last 25 years, have been, record-wise, a very successful franchise, and they made specific moves to get back to their success. So therefore I have confidence that a #19 prospect can turn into a Kris Medlen or a Brandon Beachy, because we’ve done it before. Will we have an Odalis Perez, a Jason Marquis, a Matt Belisle, somebody who either has no success or success with another team? Sure, but the proof is that the Braves will do well and fairly quickly.

    Now, I have zero confidence that the Braves will turn position player prospects into a high rate of major leaguers. They’ve really… never done that. In fact, they had to go to the most inefficient market (free agency) or trades to get their hitters in the last several years. They probably can’t consistently develop position player prospects.

    I also throw out a lot of 2015’s results because people are people. You can’t create that much upheaval in the organization in such a short period of time and expect the on-field product to be consistent and strong. And if they cared at all about the 2015 results (and if they didn’t, why should I?) they wouldn’t have traded KJ, Uribe, Avilan, and Johnson for middling prospects. You probably finish with a worse farm system but about 75 wins in the first year of a rebuild (not bad) if you don’t make those trades, but I get it. So I minimize the negativity of 2015 because of the specific things they did.

    So it probably sounds like Pollyanna or wishcasting to be as optimistic as I am about the pitching side of the rebuild, but that’s because of historical results and the fact that they made front office personnel and philosophical shifts back to pitching, pitching, pitching, and I’m of the opinion that some combination of 12 pitchers out of the glut of organizational filler, prospects, and established pitchers that we have in the system will produce a sub-3.75 team ERA team that will keep the Braves around .500 in 2016. And the good news is that if they do things my way, I don’t have to watch Eric Stults, Ross Detwiler, Trevor Cahill, Boom Boom Sugar Ray Oil Can Marrimon, or whatever a Mark Marksberry is. Those players had no place in our rebuild effort, and those stopgaps probably won’t be in the system next year.

  43. Baseball America had Matt Harvey in their top 100 one time, slotting in at number 54 after the 2011 season. In the same offseason Law had him 38.

    You’re revising history.

  44. I was referring to elite, core talent falling into place at the right time with other established, non-elite pieces to a roster. I don’t understand your point. The Braves parallel would be Julio Teheran, who while has not had the early success Harvey had, was #5 in BA’s 2012 top 100 and 44 in 2013.

  45. And should they hold onto Shelby, he’d be another parallel: #8 in 2012, #6 in 2013.

    I am coming around on that potential middle-of-the-order outfield bat idea, so that’s why I’ve left him out of Rob’s Bizarro World.

  46. And I hate to flood the comments, and I wouldn’t want to petition my ideas to be posts in and of themselves, but I’m going to keep the Rob’s Bizarro Braves thing going on the hitter side:

    While it’s a long-shot a Miller for Pollock straight-up deal is going to happen, I’m going to move forward as if Miller and Vizcaino get dealt for Pollock. We also sign Tyler Flowers and Kelly Johnson, and Olivera, sadly, plays left field. You’ll probably end up putting $4-5M into KJ and Flowers, so you’re still well within budget to do whatever the Braves are planning to do with the international market. And of course, this implies, realistically, that they won’t sign a legit FA position player, like Zobrist, Kim, etc.

    So at this point, you have platoons of Johnson at 3B against righties and Garcia at 3B against lefties, AJP and Flowers working in a non-handedness-related platoon to keep both fresh (wouldn’t it be great to find a catcher who can hit lefties, playing 25% of the team’s games, and keeping AJP fresh?), and Peterson playing against righties and Castro against lefties at second.

    Lineup:
    Markakis
    Aybar
    Pollock
    Freeman
    Olivera
    KJ/Garcia
    AJP/Flowers (or a right-handed hitting catcher who can hit lefties; I’m negotiatable)
    Peterson/Castro

    With that lineup, you have players who produced a league average OPS in 2015 at every position except SS and 2B, while Aybar did produce a 103 OPS+ in 2014. Man, I’d really love to improve second base. You put Castro’s numbers against lefties and Peterson’s against righties and you have about a 90 OPS+ and strong defense. Whatevs.

    Average offense, average defense, average starting rotation, and above average bullpen. Boom, .500 team, and Robert is your mother’s brother.

    I’ll defend my points, but I’ll spare you guys from Rob’s Bizzaro World for the next couple weeks. I just enjoy arguing my optimistic perspective.

  47. The A’s, (The A’s that represent financial sobriety!). Are signing Ryan Madson for 3years $22 Mln. The guy is 35 years old and pitched in MLB for the first time after a multi year layoff. My mind is boggled.

  48. @77 To me, the Pollock trade only makes sense because it is so one-sided. I think they could get a ton of value for Miller, but not from a team with the same mission as the Braves.

    A team wouldn’t be likely to overpay current assets for current assets. I say this knowing that I spent multiple posts suggesting a trade that is not allowed under current rules, so take it with a grain of salt.

  49. Once upon a time, Hector was a second baseman before he became a third baseman on his way to left field. The Braves might want to consider him at second some day in the future.

  50. @ 81

    Hector at Second
    it’s a surprising scoop that so few have reckoned
    deploy him thereby
    straight back into left when he makes us all cry.

  51. @79

    Everything I read suggested that Pollock won’t happen. The reason they want Miller is the same reason they want Pollock. Pederson is probably also a long shot too.

    A centerfielder who can hit changes the offense the most while requiring the fewest amount of shuffling. A centerfielder who can hit in the 3-6 area of the lineup allows Markakis to be your lead-off guy, and if it’s a centerfielder who’s a 3-4 hole hitter, it slides everybody down and really changes the landscape. Olivera, Garcia, and AJP get to be 5-7 hitters (what they are), instead of 4-6 hitters. Otherwise, you’re playing Michael Bourn either in the lead-off spot or the 8-hole spot, which is really where Peterson/Castro belongs. The team changes dramatically if Olivera is a second baseman. Then you could have an easier time finding a left fielder who can hit (Puig, David Peralta), plug Bourn in at center, and Peterson/Castro to the bench. The Olivera trade really is a bust if he’s an outfielder.

    Of course, the reverse happens in the rotation. Teheran then becomes your #1 (something he’s probably not yet), Wisler #2 (which he’s not), and then you bring someone into the rotation that you probably should have in the bullpen or traded (like Perez). But going back to my earlier post, you have a much better chance at someone showing something in Spring Training from one of our young pitchers (even if it’s a “flash in the pan” guy who’s not in the long-term plans like Ryan Weber or the Bills) than you do from Mallex Smith or Michael Bourn.

  52. The Mets have had three pitching prospects that were borderline phenoms – unanimously predicted to be very good.

    Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson?

  53. If Sean Newcomb, Matt Wisler, Shelby Miller, and Julio Teheran had all been together in the Braves system since day one (instead of crap like Sean Gilmartin and Mike Minor like the previous administration drafted), we would be saying they are “borderline phenoms – unanimously predicted to be very good”. But when one was in the Pads system and one was in the Angels system, then it’s kinda hard to build that narrative. Plus, “phenom” is a media term, not a term that means really anything. Todd Van Poppel was a unanimous phenom. Sidd Finch was a can’t-miss.

    Trust me; I listen to MLB Network Radio 2-3 hours a day, and I know that 12 months from now, the national narrative on the Braves will be, “OMG!!! The Braves have SO MUCH Major League ready starting pitching.” Sort of like how the national media was falling all over the Astros. “THEY’RE A YEAR EARLY! THEY’RE A YEAR EARLY!” Ya know, they won 86 games. Let’s not go crazy here. I heard Steve Phillips, who is dumb, compare Syndergaard, Harvey, and DeGrom to Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. Uhh… como? Right now, no one is talking about the Braves because it’s not urgent, and urgent fills radio, TV, and internet space.

  54. Well, one thing can be said about next season: baseball won’t dominate my life in any form or fashion. I don’t have faith in the front office, I don’t have the patience for some long-term rebuild, and I can do other things with my time and money. I know I’m not alone with posters and lurkers here at Braves Journal. Last season, I felt the tide turn when Grilli got injured. For some reason, the moves made after that just seemed haphazard, and the ones this off season seem geared toward saving money and not winning. I don’t think there’s any turning back. I’ve loved this team since I could walk, but I just don’t think I can withstand what I think will be 10-15 years of treading water. Therefore, I’m going to put as much into this as Liberty and the front office are putting into winning.

  55. Maybe the payroll cuts and clearing of most long-term contracts is in preparation of a sale. That’s all I can think of. Though destroying the product on the field doesn’t seem to be the best way to get a good selling price…so there’s that.

  56. People aren’t talking about Matt Wisler as a prospect not because the Braves aren’t competitive right now, not because he switched organizations, but because he simply isn’t the caliber of prospect that everyone should know. Nobody thinks he’s David Price. Nobody thinks he’s Kershaw. If everything breaks right, he’s a fine #2/3 starter. If not, a warm body.

    Newcomb is supposed to be better, but the hype train can’t take off until he learns command/control. He needs to to justify the trade. This is not an exciting picture to be painting.

  57. A sale would be fantastic. It’s a sad world where Liberty Media owns a baseball franchise and Mark Cuban wants to and cannot. There has to be a less controversial individual who can afford a team.

  58. Disclaimer: I still really enjoy the Braves and baseball generally even when the team sucks and management is incompetent. The reality is, somebody like Wisler will prove to be better than people expect, and maybe it all doesn’t result in a World Series championship, but it’s enough to keep things interesting and to keep learning.

  59. More than Liberty Media, I’d rather remove the entire front office regime: Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, John Hart, John Coppolella, etc.

    They’re the true culprits, not Liberty Media. They’re the ones deciding payroll, and the ones that orchestrated this disastrous, seemingly-aimless rebuild that has sentenced the team to years of bad baseball.

  60. You’re paranoid that these men deliberately tore down a team in a process that could easily cost them their own jobs. And I tell you what, if I was that convinced that the rebuild was completely ill-advised, that they should lose their jobs, and we know they are not going to, then that certainly implicates Liberty Media too. Why would they let these fellas run amok?

  61. @95, because their institutional incentives have nothing to do with winning baseball games. So to the extent Liberty brass are grading the baseball guys, it’s high marks for a) slashing payroll faster than ticket revenue is falling and b) getting a windfall from the Cobb taxpayers. Wins? Losses? What are those?

    Basically they enabled a bunch of self-styled Smartest Guys In The Room to undertake a vanity science experiment because the vanity science experiment runs cheap. The Smartest Guys want to do it, not because they’re weird double agents, but because “rebuilding” is a Process, and thus guaranteed job security for years, even if it doesn’t ultimately work. See also: Hinkie, Sam.

    So it’ll work, or maybe it won’t, but John Malone’s not losing any sleep over the idea that he’ll die without Rob Manfred handing him a trophy some October, so probably no one’s being held accountable.

  62. One would assume that LM’s preferred outcome would be to have the franchise win just enough to keep revenue where it should be. Tanking drives revenue down for at least a couple seasons, which would be outside the preferred outcome. And the proof is on this board; some people are sick, down-right indignated that the Braves would, gasp, TANK. And that’s reinforced through the overall fan impression of the current state. But when Atlanta had seasons of 79, 84, 72, and 86 wins from 2006-2009, attendance didn’t suffer. But you tank, and people say, “Eff this team; I’m done.” And it already started this past season, when attendance went down a meaningful 20%.

    But I really struggle to understand why Coppolella, at the age of 37, would sign up for such a risky, potentially damning Process. Doesn’t he want another job as a GM? If the tank fails, which it may, this is really bad for him. Wouldn’t he be better off going to a safer situation?

    I’m not saying I disagree, but those are some concerns.

  63. The outcomes for Coppollela are either this hits and he’s the celebrated industry genius everyone who read Michael Lewis in their twenties dreamed of being, or it doesn’t and he returns to work as an assistant GM somewhere until someone gives him another shot someday. Kind of a no-lose with a big upside. It’s a long lifetime and a clubby business. He’s playing the upside by means of the vanity science experiment; with a reasonable expectation of a career safety net in place, and an ownership more than willing to let you fly your freak flag so long as it’s cheap, wouldn’t you?

    None of this requires any accountability to the fans of the city of Atlanta, who judging by his public comments this offseason he sees mostly as plebes who don’t grasp the inherent genius of his Master Plan.

    Also keep in mind that overall team revenue is less attendance-dependent than it’s ever been. Plus, if you slash payroll faster than the fans can slash their commitment to buying your tickets, you can still increase operating revenue; see 2015.

  64. Rosenthal states on TWTR Zobrist wants to play for a winning club. I like our chances all of the sudden.

  65. I see no reason to believe Coppollela is anything but sincere in his approach. I do believe he was chosen because he was seen as the right person to execute this particular strategy, but his role is basically tactical. I’m trying to reserve my cynicism for the architects, not the contractor.

  66. The TSGITR complaints are a little weird. Pretty much every baseball blog and baseball-blog comment arguing for or against anything comes from someone who can’t help but sound like TSGITR.

  67. They Should Get Into Tommyjohn Rehab?
    Things Suck, Gonzalez Is The Reason?
    They’re So Good I Traded for Replacements?

    I give up.

  68. Sorry, “The Smartest Guys in the Room.” W.C.G. really likes discussing Michael Lewis narratives.

  69. We shall see…the big difference is that after this year we’re probably done with the intentional tanking. I’m mostly worried about the un-intentional parts that follow later.

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