Ender Inciarte

When people talk about players statheads love, Ender Inciarte is the kind of guy they mean. Not a lot of power but a decent enough hitter with a very good glove, a pretty low profile as a prospect, but a well-rounded guy who’s at least decent at everything and the thing he’s quite good at isn’t a baseball card stat. Just how good he is isn’t totally clear: his rWAR totals in 2014/2015 were 3.7/5.3, while his fWAR was just 2.8/3.3. (That’s pretty much because UZR doesn’t love his glove quite as much as DRS.) Still, that’s a pretty miraculous improvement over most of the stiffs we’ve been trotting out in center field since Andruw Jones left.

Going into the 2014 season, Baseball America didn’t rank him as one of the top 10 prospects in the Diamondbacks system, but they did note that he was the fastest baserunner and had the best outfield arm in the system, so he had those two tools. John Sickels lumped him in with a group of 12 other Grade C prospects outside the Diamondbacks’ top 20. Overall, he isn’t the world’s best baserunner: while he was 19-of-22 in stolen base attempts in 2014, he was just 21-for-31 last year, and Fangraphs rated him around league average in baserunning runs both years. But like his bat, it’s another area in which he is at least average.

Looking at the bat for a second, it’s interesting that his major league OPS is exactly the same as his minor league OPS: .716. He has a below-average walk rate, just 5.1%, but his 11.0% strikeout rate is quite good. He makes contact about 89% of the time, compared to a league average around 79%. He doesn’t have a ton of power, just a .094 ISO, but he hit 27 doubles and 5 triples last year and he only turned 25 a month ago, so there’s a chance he’ll grow into more gap power as he gets older. His wRC+ last year was 100 and OPS+ was 101, which is about as close to league average as you can get.

The glove is the calling card, of course. He’s still got the strong arm, with 20 outfield assists in just 214 starts. He also has excellent range, though there’s about 10-15 runs of disagreement between UZR, which thinks he’s very good, and DRS, which thinks he’s all-world.

All in all, though, Inciarte strikes me as a lot like Martin Prado: a fringe prospect made good, a very good and very versatile glove man who hits for high average despite a low walk rate and low power. Prado probably had a better bat, Inciarte has a better glove and faster legs, but that’s the name that keeps coming back to me as I look over his numbers. I think this is going to be a fun guy to root for.

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133 thoughts on “Ender Inciarte”

  1. I guarantee you Chip Carey has woken up two or three times per night since this trade with night sweats over the possibility of Inciarte hitting a walk-off…anything, so he can shout “and Ender ENDS IT!!”

    Guar. An. Tee.

  2. @2, the question is, will he jump the gun and waste that gem when he merely gets the last out on a pop fly to CF?

    P.S.: Martin Prado is one of my favorite Braves ever.

  3. I think Chip will find plenty of groan-worthy ways of using “ender.” I think if he grounds into a double play it’ll be an “inning-ENDER!” I think even if it’s not an inning-ending double play, he’ll call it a “rally-ENDER!”

    Like c. shorter said, “It’s ENDER’S GAME!” or “Ender with the ENDER!” or even “That’s going to ENDER it!” I don’t think any of these annoying possibilities is unreachable.

  4. Since I misspelled his name Endor last thread should we call him ‘the Ewok’?

    Great writeup Alex. Every team should have a Martin Prado.

  5. @10

    The premise of that article is that because the Braves will be another 68-win team, then might as well trade off Freeman. They list the departures of Simmons and Miller, but completely ignore all of the areas where we’ll be better next year. The FanGraphs predictions for position-by-position WAR the article uses as the basis of its prediction seems to give very little optimism for young talent to develop. They have Markakis, Inciarte, the catching duo, Aybar, and Garcia all regressing from 2015 performance, Olivera being below starter-quality, the starting pitching being the worst in the league, and the bullpen being average. Well, yeah, I’d say if you thought all of those things were true then you’ve got a 68-win team. But if only 1/3 or 1/2 of those things are true, then you’re looking at a 75-80 win team trending upward towards 2017, and why the heck would you trade Freeman then? The article starts off with very false pretenses and runs from there.

    Pass.

  6. I’d write-off 2016 and give even odds on 2017. Shelby was a no-brainer leaving after the 2018 season. Freeman’s around until 2021 and Teheran has an option for 2020, they would have to be completely blown away.

  7. A lot of the non-Braves following stat heads have simply assumed, post Miller trade, that the Braves are tanking next year for the first pick in the draft. This, even though they didn’t tank THIS year for the first pick, even when it was clear they weren’t winning more than 70 games max, and that the front office clearly states they’re trying to win enough to remain less than shit-stained in 2016-17.

    As Zac says, they’d have to be blown away for either Teheran or Freeman. Their plan is to groom the best of the bevy of young pitching next year, a la 1989-90, and see who sticks; figure out what positions they have “good enough” in and fast track Swanson for 2017. Then have Albies, Riley and maybe Davidson ready to contribute in 2018.

    And by the way, a certain douchebag offensive juggernaut will be a FA in 2019, though he’s likely to go to the Yankees.

  8. Markakis probably will regress. He’s old. That’s part of why we were idiots to acquire him. Garcia almost certainly will regress too — his HR/FB% is beyond unsustainable, his SSS power came out of nowhere, and he has, like, zero plate discipline. Olivera looks to be a catastrophe. Our starting pitcher really does look like it’ll be the worst in the league. The things on that list that are likeliest to work out are Aybar not regressing (but staying the same) and the bullpen being average, because why not.

    I would at least let Freddie rebound from his wrist issues before dealing him, and I would still rather keep him around at least until the deadline because he could still be a fine complementary piece in 2018, but let’s not mince words, we’re going to be abysmal this year. We may not be tanking for the first pick necessarily, but we’re still going to be awful.

  9. Atlanta Braves, 2019:

    SP1 – Julio Teheran (11m)
    SP2 – Sean Newcomb (pre-arb)
    SP3 – Matt Wisler (arb2)
    SP4 – Aaron Blair (arb1)
    SP5 – Tyrell Jenkins (pre-arb)

    1B – Freddie Freeman (22m)
    2B – Ozzy Albies (league min, pre-arb)
    SS – Dansby Swanson (league min, pre-arb)
    3B – Austin Riley (league min, pre-arb)
    LF – Hector Olivera (7.5m)
    CF – Ender Inciarte (arb3)
    RF – Bryce Harper (30m)

    Neck’s contract disappears the year Harper hits the FA market, and we will have a lot of cheap parts out of a rebuilt farm system when it does.

    The 2017-18 clubs gets Swanson, Albies, Riley and maybe Braxton Davidson or someone else some reps in the bigs. Harper is the veteran slugger they bring in to push the WC contending team over the top, in much the way Jason Heyward is the “last piece” in Chicago.

    Of course, the pitching staff is really a pick-6 out of 20 or so high end options.

  10. Yeah, except for Inciarte, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if all the guys they are projecting to regress do regress. The only real reasons for optimism on the position player side are a) Olivera’s statistical record is so spotty and full of caveats that it’s hard to project him with any confidence (in either direction), and b) none of those guys (again with the exceptions of Inciarte and Olivera) project to be important pieces going forward. If Pierzynski collapses, who cares. If Aybar falls back, they get two pitching prospects for him instead of three in July, who cares.

    The young pitching could do literally anything — a bunch of guys could figure it out and become above-average all at once, they could show flashes of effectiveness in between growing pains, they could all stink/and or get hurt, or anything in between. That’s the point of acquiring pitching in bulk.

    I still wouldn’t trade Freeman or Teheran unless I was blown away, though.

    EDIT: Harper is going to cost more than $30 million/year. He’s got one of the biggest egos in the game and he’s a Boras client. He’s going to be looking to be the first $40 million a year player, I have to think.

  11. It doesn’t make sense to sell low on Teheran, despite the appearance of pitching depth, or especially Freeman right now.

    Teheran may never rebound or fulfill his promise, but Freddie just needs to rest that wrist to return to his previous level of production. He’ll still be market value at $22 mil in 2019.

  12. A lot of this, ultimately, depends on whether the team is right about Albies and Riley. Riley hasn’t played above rookie ball, and Albies hasn’t played above low-A, and there are a lot of position prospects who looked great in the low minors who just couldn’t make the jump to being an everyday player. (To pick just one of a billion examples, Wilson Betemit.) Quite obviously, the team was wrong about Christian Bethancourt. Bethancourt may well have a decadelong major league career as an emergency starter and backup, just like Betemit, but he didn’t become a starting player in Atlanta. If the team’s favorite young position player prospects don’t hit, this rebuild is going to be a tough uphill climb.

  13. At least if Teheran and Freeman are traded, Coppolella’s reign of terror will finally be over, as he’ll have no more big-name proven players to trade away.

  14. @15

    Markakis is not old. He’s 32. He’s got skills that don’t tend to deteriorate with age. Much of his value is tied up in on-base, arm, and instincts. They age well. He hit below his career numbers last year, and there’s the uniqueness of his neck surgery to suggest he may get closer to his career power numbers. His career line is .291/.356/.429 and his 2015 line was .296/.369/.376. It’s not unreasonable to suggest some of that missed power will rebound. I could see a .280/.350/.400 line next year, which would not create the regression FanGraphs is predicting.

    @18

    That’s the point of acquiring pitching in bulk.

    That’s precisely why I’m optimistic about the rotation. I am concerned about the Braves’ coaching staff and scouts to determine in the 45 days they’ll have their pitchers before the season starts, you have 10 starting pitching candidates for at least half of the ML season. It’s a pretty wide range too; you have has-beens, never-was’s, historical performers, and prospects. I think about 120 of our team’s games will be started by pitchers that are currently pitching well; what they do with them is their business. The other 42 will be frustrating games in which prospects or reclamation projects crap the bed and we’re screaming, “Why is ABC starting? We have XYZ in AAA or the ‘pen!” And it will be very difficult for the team to determine who is in what camp.

    I’ll add to the chorus that selling on Teheran as well would be counterproductive.

  15. @15 Markakis wasn’t much better or worse than his career norms. A little regression in his OBP and a little regression in his power would basically cancel each other out.

    I have trouble seeing acquiring him as much of an error. They wanted a cheap, high-floor guy to show a little commitment to the product on the field. In his price-range you can sign risky players or unremarkable ones.

  16. I am not too optimistic that we will be able to compete by 2017, but I think the future is looking good. Alex, the chance of hitting prospects failing is pretty much the same as pitching prospects (is there any study looking into that? I am just trying to use common sense here), we just don’t have the depth in hitting prospects like we do in pitching at the moment. However, remember we have the third pick and we are going to spend big on international market this year. If Coppy is as smart as the Johns are saying, he should be stocking up sufficient number of hitting prospects next year or he will keep buying pitching prospects so he has enough of them to trade for hitting down the road. The key is still on how good our scouting and development department is.

  17. I think someone mentioned this last year when we traded Justin and Heyward: trading them along with Simmons, Kimbrel, Miller, etc accelerates our rebuilding by three to four years at least. So the rebuilding will not need 10 years like what we went through in the 80s or what the Royals went through, but it should still take four years at least.

  18. I’m interested to see if Hart is right that we will have a top-10 payroll in 2017. We also stand to have far-and-away the best farm system in baseball. Keith Law rated Atlanta’s #2 before we traded Simmons and Miller, and before the #1 team, the Red Sox, traded for Kimbrel. If you have those two things going for you, you better be able to compete. It’s going to be quite the bust to open Sun Trust Park with a .500 team.

  19. @28. We will see but I doubt it. Adding to my points above, it takes time for prospects to develop and not all of them would turn out to be good. Remember we used to have a top prospect in every position? I can remember most of them: Lopez, Klesko, chipper, Oliva, Kelly, Nieves, and Tarasco. Turned out the three that we kept becoming meaningful major league contributors. Then we have countless number of pitching prospect busts in the past three decades. So it is purely a game of quantity, and it takes time to filter through them even if we have the deepest farm in the league. As good as Smoltz and Glavine were, it took them two to three years in the major to sort things out.

  20. @29. Looking at that list, the following are interesting questions to consider:

    – would we be happier if Simmons was traded for Swanson, Blair and Ender?
    – would we still be happy if Miller was traded for Newcomb, Ellis, and Ayber?

    I would probably say yes for both questions.

  21. I’d go no on both questions.

    I think the only acceptable return for Simmons would be Mays/Ozzie/Andruw plus a time-machine.

  22. @32 – Yep. There’s no realistic return that makes Simmons expendable, and nothing has happened since his trade that somehow justifies it. Coppollela made a horrible, senseless trade, and then he made a fantastic, wonderful trade, and those things don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other. He publicly stated that they were anxious not to miss a good return on Simmons so they jumped on a deal. That turned out horribly and dang near led to his tar-and-feathering. With Miller, they slow played it and waited till Dave Stewart inevitably lost his mind, and it worked out great. Hopefully we just witnessed his learning curve on a massive public scale, and he’ll go the latter route with Freeman/Teheran and not the former. But it’s just as likely that Coppollela feels just as good about both trades in retrospect. He still hasn’t demonstrated the first shred of concern for fans.

  23. @33, Sigh. Yep. Good variation.

    @Alex, I’ve seen Bill James make a pretty compelling case–as recently as last year, I think–that every team that had Wilson Betemit was basically completely stupid for not making him an everyday player. Outside of a slumpy season with the Yankees, he was good to very good everywhere he played. It’s hardly fair to use him as an example of a bust.

    @Sam, that 2018 infield looks good, but I think Albies is exactly the kind of player who can be ready a year earlier (i.e. Coming up with Dansby in 2017). I guess this year will have a lot to do with that, but I’m very optimistic about his progress. I wonder what the rest of y’all think.

  24. To the best of my knowledge, there’s supposed to be a lot more attrition with pitching prospects, because they have such a high rate of injury. But it can vary by organization, and the Braves historically have had better success developing pitchers than hitters (though some here and elsewhere have quibbled with that interpretation of history, it’s definitely the broad perception). The Braves also currently have many more high-ceiling pitchers than high-ceiling hitters in their system. That’s why I worry about how much they appear to have riding on their belief in Albies and Riley to pan out.

  25. Nick Cafardo from Boston Globe reporting Royals are looking at Markakis as a fallback plan if Gordon doesn’t resign there.

  26. @34 – “That turned out horribly and dang near led to his tar-and-feathering.”

    No. It really didn’t. Only in your mind can that be true, because it hasn’t turned out at all yet.

  27. What is it about losing elite corner OF defense that makes a team think “Nick Markakis” as first replacement option?

  28. According to Cots, we have $49M committed to player payroll for 2017. If you’ve got a $120M+ payroll budget, and a deep farm, there’s no reason to think you can’t get to a 90-95 win team by next year. There’s so much flexibility with those two realities. You can trade for bad contracts, you can trade for cost-controlled or reasonably-priced players with prospects, you can compete in the FA market. You can do pretty much whatever works without completely mortgaging the future. There will be enough talent and resources within the organization to make Atlanta really competitive.

    RE: Simmons

    Is it at all possible that MLB doesn’t value a shortstop who can’t hit as much as some on here? I get the all-world defense, but to assume that Coppolella knew how to trade last December (Gattis, Heyward, and JUpton trades as proof), then forgot fundamental principles of negotiation like the leverage of time and possession (Simmons), and then remembered again (Miller) is a bit of a stretch.

  29. @41 – That trade was widely reviled and the fan outcry was so great that Coppollela had to come out and whiningly deny that Freeman was next. There’s still plenty of time for some ex post facto justification for it if Newcombe defies the odds, but that won’t change what it was at the time.

  30. @45 – Shortstops that can’t hit aren’t valuable. Shortstops that are average hitters among other shortstops are potentially valuable depending on their defense. Simmons is the latter, and his defense is otherworldly.

    Also my understanding was that Hart was running the show while he was GM or while there was no GM, anyway. Coppollela was involved but not to the exclusive extent that he is now.

  31. I think defense is incredibly valuable.. when it comes from a player who can hit. I think the fundamental flaw in valuing offensive wins and defensive win the same, is that they ignore the opportunity cost of the roster and lineup. I also think that guys who can hit big league pitching are harder to come by than guys who can pick a big league groundball.

    I guess I’m imagining some kind of curve, where the better the hitter, the more valuable (in dollars) the surplus defensive value, and where the same marginal defensive value is worth less in dollars the worse the player hits, because it doesn’t matter how you pick it if you can’t hit AT ALL (ask Lil Tony Pena.) Owning that defense (from the teams perspective) eventually has no value in dollars whatsoever, because they can no longer rationalize your roster spot.

    I think a more appropriate algorithm would perhaps be weighted, rather than adding the two together. If Heyward has the exact same season as Justin Upton, but is worth 3 dWAR, and Justin is worth exactly 0, I don’t believe you can just take the average dollar value of a win and say “Heyward was worth $18m more than Justin” or whatever the number may be. I think a more constructive way to look at it is, “the wins Heyward generated were worth X% more, in dollars, because of his outstanding defensive.”

  32. Coppallela was shopping Simmons like someone selling televisions out of the back of a van. In the morning, he was trying to get the Mets to take him for Matz. In the evening he finally found a taker in the Angels. Then he claimed that he really didn’t want to trade Simmons; he just received an offer he couldn’t refuse. The offer being a pitching prospect. A lottery ticket. Someone who, at best, will play every five days.

    Simmons is a better glove than Ozzie ever was. He’s an average hitter. He can hit just fine.

  33. Ender Inciarte
    a weakness for the bender at the party
    accomplishes much
    despite this lack of protocol and such.

  34. @49, You can’t just say “I think it should be weighted” and offer no empirical or theoretical support for your assertion. Well, I mean you can, but it just seems like baseless assertion and “gut feeling” reasoning.

    P.S., as a technical point, dwar and oWAR are not simply added together, but that’s a minor point

  35. @53 – You’re asking me to bust out the spread sheet and dig into retrosheet.com? I’m offering a theory for why defensive wins don’t seem to command the value in dollars that some think they should, besides “GMs is dumb, lolz.”

    Since I’m not submitting to a peer reviewed journal, I think an inductive argument does just fine, thanks. If it doesn’t meet your standards of scrutiny then by all means, don’t cite me in your dissertation.

  36. Steven Matz
    a versatile pitcher, they say he even bats
    but only when pressed
    or otherwise nocturnally distressed.

  37. The offensive and defensive components of WAR are weighted. You can tell by looking at extremes — Andrelton’s 2013 was the highest single season defensive WAR (BBRef) in history, 5.4. There were 12 MLB players in 2013 with a higher offensive WAR than 5.4.

  38. @54, nope. You’re just asserting things that are not intuitive. If anything, runs prevented are more valuable than runs created. This is well established.

    A much less convoluted and much more plausible explanation for why dWAR doesnt get paid like owar is that dwar is flawed, inaccurate, unreliable, or simply not trusted by a critical mass of GM’s so as to make it less valuable on the market than owar. Any of those may be true and all are intuitive.

    @56 they aren’t weighted. They each contain a positional adjustment which gets counted twice if you add them.

  39. @56, I misunderstood your argument. The reason it is hard to post a higher dwar than 5.0 is that one can only save so many runs while there are theoretically infinite potential to create runs. Andrelton probably saves as many runs as is humanly possible.

  40. Infield defensive metrics are pretty far along these days, farther than outfield metrics. That can get lost in the Heyward-centric discussions of the past couple years around here. I believe in their general validity.

    Insofar as how important shortstop defense is…I would rank it behind only corner IF and corner OF offense among the 16 “jobs” of the eight position players. YMMV.

    @58 Right, by weighted I don’t mean positionally adjusted, I mean the impact of defense vis a vis offense is baked in. How successfully, I don’t know. But it’s definitely there.

  41. How much has the increase in the number of strikeouts in recent years influenced the need for a defensive shortstop?

  42. In 2005 the NL K/9 average was 6.6. Last year it was 7.9. So ten years ago you had 20.4 defensive plays per nine innings, now it’s 19.1. 19.1/20.4=0.936, which would make defense 6.4% less important, give or take, than in ’05.

    Edit: No, this isn’t right. That’s the number of defensive outs, not plays available, which means you’d need to include outs not made. This would increase both the numerator and denominator by the same amount, thus lowering the percentage that defense is impacted. Probably down to 4.5% or so.

  43. I have resigned myself to 18 months of whining about the Simmons trade in much the same vein as we are 12 months into the 18 months of whining about the Heyward trade. Fans of players get upset when they get traded.

  44. It also depends on if your high-K pitching staff induces grounders (SS/infield defense) or fly balls (OF defense.)

  45. @39, the opt out clauses make it far from an apples to apples comparison. Heyward got a three year deal and a five year insurance policy.*

    *i have a duplicate comment in moderation, apologies in advance.

  46. @62 I think everyone who plans on watching the Braves has a right to whine until the Braves find someone as fun to watch as Andrelton. He was worth the price of admission.

  47. If people keep deciding that the things our ex-players are good at don’t matter, soon we might as well just make it a fashion show.

  48. The Andrelton trade is begging for someone to write the great “How important is aesthetics compared to on-field production?” thinkpiece.

  49. Comparing Andrelton Simmons to Shelby Miller is not a very fair comparison. Shelby Miller, according to most of the league and certainly by the D-Backs, was one of the best players at his position (position meaning “#1 starter”). You can only have one #1 starter, so teams paid a premium to get him. Andrelton Simmons is an imperfect player, and he may not even be top-5 at his position, so his return was going to be significantly less. As jjschiller alluded to, there’s an opportunity cost to not having the best available player at a position. Regardless of your confidence in Copolella’s ability to make trades, the market spoke on Simmons: a strong player, but not a scarce enough commodity that it’s worth selling the farm for. I would warn you that you’ll be very disappointed if you compare every player’s return to that of Shelby’s. That deal ain’t coming around again.

    Plus, we got a player who is 80-90% of the player Andrelton is, plus a potential ace and potential #3 starter both less than a year away of the big leagues. That’s a very good return.

  50. Talk about familiarity breeding contempt. Lillibridge?

    @56 “Andrelton’s 2013 was the highest single season defensive WAR (BBRef) in history, 5.4″…dude, don’t bother. They ain’t listening.

  51. @71 Fangraphs is far from gospel and their pitcher WAR only accumulates based on FIP, but they have Simmons as the third best SS in 2015 and the fifth best over the last three years. They peg Miller as the 25th best pitcher in 2015 and the 56th best pitcher over the last three years.

    Plus, Aybar is coming off a year where he was more like 30-40% of the player Andrelton is, and the only have him for one season.

  52. Also, where in the world did this fiction that Newcombe is close to ready come from? Kid has an appalling lack of control at the moment which, unless fixed, completely precludes his ability to play in the majors. The irrationally optimistic are just waving their wand and giving him, in the next calendar year, an ability that’s been absent so far.

  53. 2018, if Jason opts out, he and Brycie are on the market. If money is no object, who do you choose, Heyward or Harper? I’ll take the douche.

  54. monday morning 12/14 8 am

    the strange case of the missing thread

    delete, the button to be feared
    mysteriously all’s disappeared
    Sir Alex, hang thy head
    while most of us abed
    attacked were we,so strangely weird .

  55. @76, That’s really a question for 2018 and would depend largely on how the next three years play out. If it’s today, you pick Brycie. If you’re placing odds on the future, it’s Brycie. But the best odds are just to find out for sure who’s playing better by then.

  56. @71 Rob, those arguments don’t show that the market objectively valued Miller more highly than Simmons.

    Miller is a “#1 starter”. First off, “#1 starter” is totally team-dependent. Let’s take as an example the 2015 NL East. Miller would have been a “#2 starter” last year for the Marlins, and a mid-to-end of rotation starter for the Mets and Nats. Miller was a #4 starter for St. Louis in 2014 (behind Wainwright, Lynn, and Wacha) and would’ve been the #3 on the 2014 Braves staff (behind Teheran and Wood). As you can see, “#1 starter” is a very transient tag.

    – it’s demonstrably untrue that each team’s “#1 starter” in any given year is among the 30 best starting pitchers in baseball. Go take a look at the 2015 Brewers, Phillies, Rockies, etc.

    – Having said all that, Miller *did* pitch like a #1 starter in 2015 (he was 25th most valuable pitcher by fWAR). But so what? Andrelton Simmons was the #6 SS by fWAR in 2015 (#16 in 2014, #4 in 2013). Simmons has been far more valuable (by fWAR) than Miller since they both reached the majors in 2012.

    Also, I think it’s a mistake to think that “the market spoke” regarding the return the Braves received on Simmons. All we know is Coppy accepted the Angels’ offer, but did Coppy take the best deal he got (or could have gotten)? We’ll very likely never get a behind the scenes look into how that trade went down. Also, as Simmons is a unique player, it’s hard to draw any direct comparables to infer what his market value should be. Still, even considering the potentially wide range of values one might assign to Andrelton Simmons, the return the Braves got seems to be considerably below the bottom end of that range.

  57. It is particular kind of fan based hubris to assume the GM got a bad deal because he didn’t get a shit load of talent for our favored defensive shortstop, assume that there was clearly a better offer on the table (other than not making a deal and keeping the fan favorite for the fans.)

  58. @81 And it takes a particular type of knee-jerk contrarianism to characterize the ‘you should have done better’ response to the Simmons deal as the “fan based hubris” of armchair GMs. Look, I can see how the Braves could worry that the value of their good-glove, decent-for-SS-bat on a long term contract might evaporate (for a worst-case scenario, Elvis Andrus comes to mind). That said, the Braves traded away a good-to-great player under long term team control who would fit like a glove (see what I did there?) on the vast majority of MLB teams. As such, Coppy should have been able to extract Simmons’ full market value (whatever that was/is) in the trade. And frankly, from what i can tell, the opinion around MLB *and* the prevailing opinion among the armchair GMs of the world is that the Angels won the Simmons trade handily.

  59. My problem is the continued mistaking of “theoretical should have gotten value” for “full market value.” The full market value for anything is precisely what it can be sold for, not what the seller listed it for prior to seeing if anyone would buy it at that cost.

  60. The Simmons trade went down very fast. I think Coppy could have taken more time to allow the market to develop.

  61. Yeah, okay Mike. That’s a reasonable critique. I think we should also take the flipside of that into consideration as well – Coppalella’s argument that they waited too long on a previous deal (one assumes for Jason Grilli midseason) and then he got hurt. But that’s an unlikely scenario in the off season, so yeah. It went down fast. But I see little reason to think there was a lot more out there than what we got in return.

  62. @83

    I do see what you did there, and it was EXCELLENT.

    The worst I’ve read on the Simmons trade was it was a “fair” deal. No one got hosed. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but that’s what I remember.

    But I think we’re also forgetting that Simmons contract escalates to a $11M, $13M, $15M line from 2018-2020. Obviously I don’t know, but I’d imagine that the Braves felt his bat would improve over time, which it has not. And when defense is considered to not age well, paying him $15M when he’s 31 probably didn’t sit well with Atlanta.

    Let me clarify my “#1 starter” comment: I’m saying that, judging by the return of the trade, at least one team, if not quite a few, felt like Miller had the relative value of an ace/#1 starter. He’s young, cost-controlled, and there’s reason to believe there could be some upward trajectory. Regardless of what FanGraphs says, that’s the way teams felt. He was much more valuable than the other options on the shelf, hence the return. With Simmons, it’s possible there were less teams that value him as much as the WAR calculations (which are very helpful calculations) do. Every team has a different vision for how defense and offense are weighted, and a one-size-fits-all approach probably doesn’t work in the marketplace.

    And as for marketplace, listen, if you think Coppy gave away this player, then that’s your conclusion. I don’t know, and neither does anyone on here. The Braves have made a lot of trades in the last 13 months, and we’re told Coppy has been directly or indirectly involved in every last one of them. Aside from the to-be-determined Olivera trade, all of his moves have been received pretty well. I have no reason to think he hasn’t done the same with the Simmons trade, and I’m wondering how much YouTube videos are clouding the valuation process.

  63. It’s worth noting that when Coppollela says “We made this trade because it was too good to pass up,” he ALSO offered a reference to last winter when a team offered for Simmons a starting pitcher who, now that he’s succeeded at a higher level, is no longer available. Rumor mongers have pegged that pitcher as Luis Severino. The Braves opted to hold on to Simmons.

    (citation: https://twitter.com/mlbbowman/status/665014118986989568)
    This is worth noting in a few ways:

    1) This is evidence that the Braves did shop Simmons around, and for a fair period of time. It was silly to assume otherwise, but here is evidence anyway.

    2) Luis Severino had just reached AA in 2014, pitched only 6 games at the level, and was a top-30ish prospect in baseball. If he’d been acquired pre-2015, we’d have heard the same complaints here. If he were acquired in November instead of Newcomb, we’d hear no such complaints.

    3) This is evidence of an established value, as that top-30 prospect is similar to the player we eventually received.

  64. An internet search backs up what I said about the reaction to the Simmons trade. Rob Neyer says “it seems I’ve talked myself into really liking this deal for the Angels”, David Schoenfield says “I like this deal from the Angels’ perspective” , Keith Law says the deal slightly favors the Angels, Ben Badler “love[s] the Andrelton Simmons trade for the Angels.”, Grant Brisbee hates the deal from the Braves’ side – “From here, though, I have no idea what the Braves were thinking”. I’m sure I could turn up many more hot takes on the trade, but this seems like a good sampling.

    Also, @84 “The full market value for anything is precisely what it can be sold for, not what the seller listed it for prior to seeing if anyone would buy it at that cost” is a meaningless tautology. We don’t know what other offers were on the table for Simmons, nor can we know with any precision what he might have been offered for Simmons had be held out longer or shopped him more widely. However, many of the best minds in the business seem to think it likely that Simmons should have fetched a higher price than the Braves received, and I feel the same way about it.

    I am doing my level best to “trust the process” in this rebuild, and I feel like the Braves have done a good job with most of the moves they’ve made. However, that doesn’t obligate me to give blanket approval to everything they do.

  65. There’s just no way to evaluate any of the trades-for-prospects this early. You can say you like them, I can say I hate them, neither side has any clue. I don’t think the prospect-outcome crystal ball is really much of a skill. We’re playing a numbers/odds game, and accumulating volume. I think that’s a good strategy given our self-inflicted situation, but how can you say right now whether it’s going to work or not?

  66. Luis Severino never had an arm surgery, at least as far as I could see. He also never exhibited the control problems that have plagued Newcomb. Severino’s MiLB BB/9 has never been higher than 2.6 where Newcomb’s has only been lower than 3.8 for the three innings of rookie ball that he tossed.

    If we had used Simmons to acquire Severino last offseason, you absolutely would’ve heard fewer complaints from me.

  67. The problem for me wasn’t that the Simmons trade was “rushed” — we have no way of knowing that one way or the other. It was that we clearly felt the need to get a shortstop back in the deal, which limited the upside in the rest of the package. When we turn Aybar into something else, I’ll feel better about it all.

  68. @91 You’re missing three very valuable shortstops who missed the qualifying PA cutoff but still compiled more fWAR than Andrelton – Lindor, Kang, and Correa.

    To wit (number listed is fWAR):
    1 Brandon Crawford 4.7
    2 Francisco Lindor 4.6
    3 Xander Bogaerts 4.3
    4 Jung-ho Kang 3.9
    5 Carlos Correa 3.3
    6 Andrelton Simmons 3.2

  69. I’m saying that, judging by the return of the trade, at least one team, if not quite a few, felt like Miller had the relative value of an ace/#1 starter. He’s young, cost-controlled, and there’s reason to believe there could be some upward trajectory. Regardless of what FanGraphs says, that’s the way teams felt.

    To be fair to Fangraphs — which not many on here seem inclined to do — their writers have been bullish recently on Miller and think he could out-perform his projections and meet his potential because of his expanded arsenal of pitches:
    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/shelby-miller-pseudo-prospect/
    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/diamondbacks-pay-for-ace-get-shelby-miller/
    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/attempting-to-rationalize-the-shelby-miller-trade/

    With Simmons, it’s possible there were less teams that value him as much as the WAR calculations (which are very helpful calculations) do.

    It’s the WAR calculations that, arguably, could lead one to undervalue Simmons.

    WAR says Simmons is a very good player, and certainly quite valuable relative to his contract, but not untouchable. But WAR doesn’t know that Simmons makes watching whatever team he’s playing for an absolute thrill and a pleasure every single game, win or lose. Setting aside the return and the soundness of Coppolella’s strategy, that’s the crux of the debate, to me. It turns out that being a generational, perhaps an all-time, talent still makes him a third as productive as the game’s absolute-best players right now.

    @94, Sorry, didn’t mean to suggest that Newcomb had surgery. I’m just saying, Severino seems immune from the two criticisms everybody’s leveling at the pitching prospects we’re hoarding: they’re mostly post-TJ or have underperformed for some reason. He’d be clearly above Newcomb if he were in our system.

  70. Saw his bio. He had an injury as a freshman in college. I didn’t see anything about surgery.

    I guess until Newcomb wins a Cy Young this trade will be considered a net loser by a lot of folks here. Simmons is a spectacular defensive player, there is no doubt. But lets face it, you can find a guy who can make 95% of the defensive plays a short stop is expected to make fairly easily. If I can have a guy like that who is NOT a net zero with the bat then I’d rather have him. We don’t know what the other offers were for Simmons, if there were any at all. Getting an MLB ready SS AND the pitching seems like a fair return.

    The odds are that Simmons is not going to turn it around as a hitter. A defense only SS with the escalating contract is a luxury item that a team where the Braves are in the competitive spectrum cannot afford. I say well done Mr. Coppollela.

  71. 12 more months of cheap-as-dirt Simmons also nets you a higher return anyway. It’s all speculation anyway, but another year of Simmons could have been the difference between Severino and Newcomb/Aybar/Ellis, assuming all of this is even true.

  72. @90 Obviously it’s too early to draw any *final* conclusions regarding the merits of any of the proven talent-for-prospects trades the Braves have done, but it’s certainly a valid exercise to compare the present value of the proven talent to the present value of the prospects received in return (said present value being a function of each prospect’s projected future performance, team control and salaries).

  73. I think you judge a trade by the conditions of the game on trade day. If Aaron Blair becomes the next Jake Arrieta out of the blue it doesn’t make that trade *even worse* for Arizona. The Simmons deal can be judged by what it was the day it was made, and what it was was reasonable and even. (The problem with a lot of the criticism of that deal is that people expect us to win every trade the way we won the Miller deal, and that’s just not reasonable expectations.)

  74. The consensus around baseball is not just that the Diamondbacks lost that trade, it’s that it is the most lopsided trade in recent memory. Like A.J. Pierzynski for Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser lopsided. The Braves were extraordinarily lucky to get what they got, and they wouldn’t have gotten anything close to that from any of the other 28 teams. It doesn’t establish a new market price for frontline starters.

  75. @101 Agreed.

    Some say – We traded away the greatest defensive shortstop of a generation away for a lesser SS and a couple of lottery tickets. A deal worse than the kid that got a couple of beans for a cow.

    I say- We traded a way a great defensive player who made plays lesser mortals couldn’t make maybe two or three times a month. Who’s tremendous skill may be less valuable in this day of defensive shifts, pitching plans to get hitters to hit into those shifts, specialized pitchers to get hitters to hit into those shifts and bullpens with 5 guys that touch the high 90’s.

    A guy like Simmons is the ultimate complementary player. A luxury much like Kimbrell. When someone offered a return with some potential, Coppy would have been doing a disservice to the long term prospects of the team had he not taken the deal.

    This isn’t to say that all this may come to naught. Even a guy with a pedigree like Swanson may be a bust, but at least we aren’t a team like the poor Reds.

  76. @103

    What I also don’t get is why if a team doesn’t win in a “lopsided fashion” then it was a bad trade.

    Like with the Simmons deal. Newcomb is a pretty good rising pitcher. The Braves scouts must really like him. I think they know Simmons value better than anyone and thought, “Long term this is a better deal for us.” This could be a great deal for both teams.

  77. I have trouble with the concept of a “luxury” piece. Whether someone is a luxury should be based on whether they will help you when you plan on competing. A closer who helps you win games is no more a luxury than a first-baseman who helps you win games. If you don’t plan on competing in the near-future, anyone could be considered a luxury.

  78. Nobody expects the Miller haul. Its chief weapon is surprise.

    And I’m genuinely curious — how do defensive shifts reduce the value of defensive players?

  79. Yep, the luxury concept is just a way to justify continued cheapness that perpetuates losing. And even if that wasn’t the case, the BEST defense at either the most or second most important defensive position seems to me like much more of a foundation stone than a crystal chandelier, especially when your whole strategy is to make young pitchers look good in the majors long enough to flip them for hitting. You already had a handful of Newcombs, you had no one who can reasonably be expected to replicate Simmons’ skillset.

  80. here’s the guy you’ve forgotten…

    maxi/mini..

    Kevin Maitan
    as his agent we talk when we can
    there’ll be no minor leagues
    no rip-roaring Harleys in Fredi’s fatigues.

    Kevin Maitan
    the bidding was over before it began

  81. I didn’t realize we may have also had a handshake agreement with Felix Hernandez and offered him the biggest signing bonus too.

  82. @108, given the strategy of collecting high-risk/high-reward pitching, I’m ok with getting more than a “handful of Newcombs” because we’re going to need a ton of them in order to harvest enough 3 or 4 years from now, given the high probability of busting for these types of prospects.

    Whether you trade Simmons for lotto tickets might be another debate altogether, but we need tons of lotto tickets for this strat to have a prayer of working. Simmons was one of the few players on the roster left that we could get value for. Teheran and Freeman need to be next, otherwise none of this really makes much sense.

    Note that I’m not (nor never will be) defending the rebuild…just saying that if you buy into the rebuild as fait-accompli then this is the logical conclusion.

  83. @105 What I also don’t get is why if a team doesn’t win in a “lopsided fashion” then it was a bad trade.

    Don’t hurt your back trying to move the goalposts, Smitty! We’re not holding Coppy up to the impossible standard of crushing the competition in every trade. The prevailing consensus is the the Braves didn’t get back as much as expected for Simmons, hence the bitching.

    Also – I could definitely see the Braves shopping Freeman to the many teams who would love to acquire a 1B – among others, the Cards, Pirates and Red Sox. Can Hanley hack it at 3B or SS anymore? We could take him (as something of a buy low/salary dump) along with several high-end prospects in exchange for Freeman.

  84. @110 — I always remember that whenever someone brings up Maitan. I’ll be happy about acquiring him when the ink is dry on his contract, and no sooner.

  85. The Pirates need offense in the worst way. Shopping Freeman to them makes tons of sense. Their window is basically now or never. No idea what their farm looks like, but maybe we could raid it in a “win now” type of deal.

  86. I certainly wouldn’t mind taking Hanley if the Sox were willing to kick us a good chunk of cash. High-risk high-reward flyers like him are exactly the kind of players we should be willing to bring in. We certainly can’t lose more than 162 games.

  87. @117 I like the idea of taking a chance on a buy-low, high ceiling guy but I feel like the ship has likely sailed on Hanley fitting that description. In any event, unless the Braves think Hanley could stick at 3B, he’s really only a fit for an AL team (he’s no longer a SS, and LF is only an option if you like comedy routines).

  88. Why the heck would a 28-year old with a career 3.76 ERA while pitching most of his career in Colorado (Jhoulys Chacin) sign a minor league deal? Weird, but I’ll take it.

  89. I love Jhoulys Chacin. I rode his 2010 — and Trevor Cahill’s –to a fantasy championship. My team name was Brave Jhoulyses. This news makes me very happy.

  90. I dunno about the whole Hanley thing you guys…

    This footage from his blow up with Fredi in Miami almost seems unforgivable.

  91. Over at Talking Chop, Aaron Blair’s Dad apparently posted a comment (responding to Garrett Spain’s writeup of Blair):

    http://tinyurl.com/TC-Blair

    “He went to Marshall as a two-way guy but hurt his ankle during bp before his 1st college game. From that point on the coach made him a pitcher only. While his strikeout numbers did go down drastically from 2014 to 2015, part of that was the new front office of the Diamondbacks stressing the use(overuse)of the 2-seam fastball. If you look at his ground ball numbers between 2014 to 2015, you will see a spike in ground ball %. His AAA numbers at Reno were actually skewed because in his first AAA start, he gave up 8 earned runs in 4 innings. Once he figured out the dynamics of pitching at that elevation and making adjustments to all three of his pitches, he really went on quite a run. In his last 11 starts he went a minimum of 6 innings and an ERA of 2.44.

    by exDbackguy on Dec 14, 2015 | 9:16 PM”

  92. Chacin’s FB velo sits regularly below 90. In his heyday it was between 91 and 92. However, he throws a cutter more now and apparently that’s his out pitch.

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