Erick Aybar

I despised the trade that brought him here, but Erick Aybar is now our starting shortstop, and here’s the thing: he’s a pretty good player. Almost certainly a better player than AAG, the guy we got the last time we traded our starting shortstop and insisted upon getting a major league shortstop in return.

(For those who weren’t here in 2011, AAG stands for Another Alex Gonzalez, a play on the fact that he was the younger of two major league shortstops named Alex Gonzalez at the time, and there were also two posters on Bravesjournal named Alex R. at the time. I was the second of those, so I started calling myself Another Alex R., or AAR for short. AAG’s other nickname was “Sea Bass.” Unfortunately, there is no indication that Erick Aybar has a nickname that cool.)

Over the course of his career, Aybar has had a good glove. Not as good as Andrelton, obviously, but above average. However, his best years with the glove were from 2008-2012 and in 2014; the advanced metrics think he fell off in 2013 and 2015, suggesting that the new normal for the 32-year old Aybar may be a glove that’s slightly worse than average. Still, he’s a true major league shortstop, and that has clear value. He has also had a somewhat better bat than the average for his position. For his career, he has an OPS+ of 93 and wRC+ of 92; leaguewide, shortstops are at around 86.

Basically, he’s a borderline All-Star, worth roughly four wins a year, when his fielding is on. That was the case in 2011, 2012, and 2014. When he has an off year in the field, he’s an average player, worth roughly two wins.

Now, there’s some other baggage here as well. Erick Aybar is the just-barely younger brother of Willy Aybar — Erick was born in January 1984, Willy in March 1983 — whom you may remember from exactly a decade ago. Willy was a trade deadline acquisition in 2006, when the Braves cashed in their superutility player Wilson Betemit, who had finally broken out after having spent nearly a decade in the Braves’ minor league system. (The Braves signed him when he was 14, and were penalized when this was discovered. It was one of the rare cases when a Latin American player’s age was fudged to make him seem older than he actually was.)

As of July 28, the Braves were scuffling in second place, a few games under .500 and 12 games behind the Mets, with their streak of 14 consecutive division titles very much in jeopardy. So they decided to shore up their depth by trading Betemit to the Dodgers for hard-throwing former closer Danys Baez and the talented but mercurial Willy Aybar, a former top prospect who was still a year younger than Betemit.

It didn’t work out. Aybar and Baez weren’t much good in their first couple of weeks with the team, then Aybar went onto the DL with a broken hand in mid-August, and a week later, Baez went on the DL for an appendectomy. Baez wouldn’t return for the rest of the year. Aybar stayed on the DL longer than expected, and it turned out that he was battling alcohol and substance abuse issues.

His Braves career was over almost before it had begun, really. He did not appear in the major leagues at all in 2007, and the Braves traded him to the Rays the next January. He actually went all the way to the World Series with them, hitting two homers in the ALCS, but that was pretty much the highlight of his career. He played a grand total of 205 more games after the end of the World Series, and was out of baseball before his 28th birthday.

That’s all ancient history, but rooting for an Aybar brings back a lot of mixed emotions, mainly sorrow at this point. Erick is a good player, though the price we paid for him was disconsolately high. His job is to provide a bridge to whichever of Dansby Swanson or Ozhaino Albies is ready for the major leagues first, and he is admirably suited to that role.

115 thoughts on “Erick Aybar”

  1. And as long as we’re discussing the ‘Another’ guys on this board, don’t forget AFG – Another Fredi Gonzalez AKA Gerald Laird, who is a dead ringer for Fredi.

  2. from previous thread…

    Kevin Maitan
    has often denied he will play in Japan
    those yens? he’ll do better
    when he switches to Credit Unions throughout Marietta.

    When will he make his ML debut? here’s my odds today..(all Septembers excluded)

    2016…. 6/4
    2017…. 1/3
    2018…. 5/2

    and… even money he signs with our Braves

    cash/gold only please, no cards.

    Disagree? put your numbers up then… careful, i might pounce.

  3. I tend to think that it’s more likely we trade Inciarte than Aybar, but it’ll depend on how hot his bat is in the first half. If he’s hitting .300 with moderate pop in June, we might be able to flip him to a team that desperately needs a credible major league shortstop, but he’s a half-year rental of a league average player, so I kind of doubt we’d get a better return than we did in the Juan Uribe/Kelly Johnson deal.

  4. Erick Aybar
    some liners still tend to fly far
    but just on occasions
    no marks on the ball, no sign of abrasions.

  5. Why would we push to trade Inciarte? Seems like he fits into our long term plans. I think its more likely that Markakis and Aybar are traded before Inciarte. If they are healthy we will trade them before the deadline.

  6. There is a legitimate question as to whether Erick Aybar is a better SS than Daniel Castro at this point. He probably is, but given his declining D skills, it’s close.

    Why do you think we’ll trade Inciarte, AAR? He’s a true CF, controllable for several years, of which we don’t necessarily have another waiting in the wings. Mallex is a question mark in center, so I’ve heard. Aybar is a goner whether we trade him or not, so it would seem a no-brainer to trade him for a B prospect.

  7. They might not get much for Aybar, but it’d be dumb to keep him. He’s a free agent after the season and giving him the QO would be insanely risky, so they’d just be paying him to play two months for a bad team and then walk for nothing.

    Whereas with Inciarte you only trade him if the return is actually worthwhile, with Aybar I think you collect every offer and then pick the best one, regardless of how good or bad it is in a vacuum.

  8. Gravitational waves
    some have put down to Kimbrel, his multiple saves
    but Oso el Blanco
    achieved much the same when he took out John Franco.

  9. If Aybar has a strong spring, I’d consider moving him then too. We might actually get something decent for him.

  10. I seriously doubt we trade Inciarte. He’s the type of player we’ve been trying to acquire and build around. With the trades for Swanson/Inciarte/Olivera, the signing of Markakis, and not trading Freeman, it really seems like the Braves are trying to build a lineup of high-OBP, gap power kinda guys (not to beat a dead horse, but basically the teams the Royals and Giants have had). I think the Braves have tired of the JUpton/BUpton/Gattis high strike out, “swing for the fences” mentality that very clearly personified the Wren era, and they’re making a clear departure from it.

  11. @11 – I was also going to argue with you about Daniel Castro, but I looked at his stats (I understand that it’s a small sample size) and you may be right. .240/.263/.606 wil not cut it. Why did I think he looked so much better than that? As bad as the team was last year, I guess comparatively he looked good.

  12. Obviously if Castro can’t improve on a .606 SLG, he’s not that useful, but he doesn’t have to improve much to be Nick Ahmed, who is a below-average but functional MLB shortstop because his strong glove makes up for his very weak bat.

  13. Or he can be Andrelton Simmons, whose strong glove makes up his very weak bat, and we can pay him $15M in 2020. Eh? Not a bad idea, eh?

    Play Castro against some LHPs, against whom he had a .749 OPS in a very small sample size.

  14. I’m sure you realize this, but Andrelton Simmons is a near-average offensive SS with a preternatural glove. His career wRC+ is 84, compared with a league average of 86 (per above). Ahmed’s was 67 last year; Aybar’s was 80 (a down year).

  15. I know, I’m sorry, I was just having some fun with the people that tend to overvalue Simmons. Simmons is one of the top 5 shortstops in the game.

    I think it’s telling that Teheran, Freeman, and Inciarte haven’t been traded, considering they have some pretty strong value. The Cubs would kill for a CF, and have talent to trade, and the Braves couldn’t put a deal together when they… like doing that.

  16. I thought it was telling that Simmons hadn’t been traded… until he was. I just wouldn’t get too attached to anybody these days. After all, there were rumors this offseason that the Braves were shopping Freeman, until they felt compelled to shoot them down.

  17. For the same reason Simmons was traded, Freeman’s rapidly escalating salary could cause a trade. He’s going from $12M in 2016 to $20M in 2017. Even Simmons’ increases weren’t that drastic. I’m honestly wondering why Wren thought that Freeman’s value would significantly increase between his age-26 and 27 seasons. It happens to coincide with the new stadium, but Wren didn’t know that at the time, did he?

    Teheran’s are pretty reasonable: $3.3M, $6.3M, $8M, $11M, $12M team option ($1M buyout).

    Inciarte’s just cheap, and would he not be a player that would potentially be overlooked in arbitration? Unless the process is heavily weighing WAR, I’d imagine he’d probably not be valued that highly.

    My impression, along with many other’s, of the rebuild changed significantly with the Miller trade. Perhaps it was his won-loss record, his lack of personality and time in the uniform, or the fact that he just simply pitched on a losing team, but his loss wasn’t considered that severe, especially with the return. Everything I’m reading seems to suggest that the tone of the rebuild changed after that trade, and now the Braves are actively wanting to work towards competing immediately. Doesn’t mean they’re going to start hanging out in the free agent market, but I do think it means they’re done selling off cost-controlled assets. With the amount of assets they’ve acquired, now it’s just about speeding up the appreciation.

    Watch Freeman get traded tomorrow.

  18. @16 I think you meant Castro had a .606 OPS not a .606 SLG. If he slugged .606……

    I’ll be in my bunk.

  19. Yeah, I had noticed OPS was incorrectly listed in his slash line from above and then ended up just perpetuating the mistake. That’s a Bondsian SLG…

  20. .800 would be a Bondsian OPS. Early-2000s juiced-up Barry was the closest thing to Babe Ruth we’ll ever see in our lifetimes

    I could be wrong, because I know next to nothing about the guy, but I don’t see any particular reason why Daniel Castro would be significantly better than someone like Ramiro Pena. I don’t see him as a starter.

  21. PED suspensions are unpaid, and he’s already had a year and a half of suspensions prior to this, so he didn’t have $2.5 million to spend on them. I doubt Mejia made much more than $1 million in his career, after taxes, etc.

    I do like that MLB’s press release felt the need to specify that this permanently banned player would not be eligible to participate in Spring Training. (Yes, I know that this is because Mejia isn’t formally banned until his completes his appeal, so there’s a chance, however microscopic, that he could play again, but still.)

  22. It’s not like I liked the trade but we didn’t trade Simmons to get Ayber. Coppy traded Simmons to get Newcomb. That kid better be good.

  23. I find this to be very stupid for a guy who can earn the money by simply doing nothing but to stay clean. Can’t he just give it a try for a year without taking anything?

  24. @29

    I think Coppy could have gotten a better pitcher than Newcomb had he just been looking for a young pitcher. It’s probably difficult to have a trade partner that will give you a major league SS, the #30 prospect in baseball, and Ellis.

  25. @32 — That’s a really dumb thing to insist on, though. Like the second Teixeira trade, where Wren got an exceptionally poor package because he insisted on having Teixeira’s direct replacement in the deal. Teams looking to upgrade at a position are not the ones who have a major-league (or near-ready minor league) player at that position just lying around.

  26. It was probably easier to just get Aybar back in the trade. With his salary, 2015 production, age, and impending free agency, he probably didn’t have much value. They were already hot on Swanson anyway, so a one year stopgap at SS was probably the player they would have traded for anyway.

    Both sides of the Teixeira trade seem to be equally crappy for Atlanta. I’m not sure getting Casey Kotchman back is what makes the two transactions awful.

  27. Please nobody mention Casey Kotchman. I need scotch…

    P.S.: Just looked up comparables and Gerald Perry and Sid Bream are near the top of the list. Surely Robert Fick can’t be too far behind. We really are a magnet for crummy first sackers. Ooh, let’s trade Freeman!

  28. @32 and 33. To be fair, looking at the most recent prospect rankings, Newcomb is probably the best pitching prospect available in the trade market, and he is the best pitching prospect we have gotten back since we started rebuilding. We are just mad that it involved trading Simmons in the process. There is nothing wrong with the fact that Newcomb is one of the premium pitching prospects in the game.

  29. I had gotten used to thinking that we were acquiring distressed assets who had minimal on-field performance but had, for one reason or another, a reason to believe they could improve in value, but Newcomb and Blair have actually been pretty good their entire minor league careers. Newcomb’s walks are high, but he’s got a sub-3 ERA at every minor league stop, and has already had 7 starts at AA, and Blair had a 3.22 ERA in 12 starts at AAA last year. If these two guys take the next step, the bullpen will get really crowded with Folty and Banuelos back there too.

  30. I wonder how much influence The John’s (and especially Coppy) will have on pitching use this year. Fredi is all but a lame duck manager, and we very well could have about 17-18 legitimate options for 12 spots. There are also going to be 162 valuable starts to divvy up to 8-9 options, all of whom either have deadline trade value, or significant long-term potential.

    Bobby and Fredi have been known for their “loyalty”. If it’s June and Folty gets to 12-13 starts, he’s got an ERA in the 5’s again, and Aaron Blair is pitching well in AAA (or better yet, Williams Perez is pitching well in the bullpen), whose call is it going to be on starting pitcher usage? Normally the manager sets the rotation (and the rotation is usually pretty well set through offseason or at least Spring Training), but with the level of transition we’re at right now, do those roles and responsibilities get a little blurred?

  31. @43

    That’s the most optimistic summary I’ve seen.

    I would certainly take a .280, 18 HR OF out of Olivera.

    He really doesn’t like Chris Ellis or Rio Ruiz as much as many others.

  32. @43 – I’m a little surprised that Dustin Peterson was only an honorable mention. Outlook especially for Swanson and Olivera is encouraging. Also an interesting take on Jenkins – saying that he may have been overrated before his injury.

  33. I think he said Fried was overrated before his injury. Jenkins–he’s worried about K/BB, which is what several of us on here have been worried about with him. I haven’t him pitch, but the reports of “big live arm” make me wonder why he doesn’t miss more bats. Seems to generate some weak contact, at least.

  34. We paid a lot of money to keep McDowell from the Phillies, and with the mass accumulation of pitching, they seem to think he and the minor league pitching coaches can do things with Jenkins’ poor peripherals and Newcomb’s lack of control.

    By the way, does Aaron Blair remind anyone of Aaron Harang?

  35. I feel like we need to develop more hitters. We need a few guys who will be able to carry the line up for a few weeks. Right now we have Freeman and Swanson and little else that is close.

    There is a big gap from Swanson to Riley and the teenagers in A ball.

  36. Vegas has the Braves at 65 wins this year, fighting with the Phillies for the bottom of the division (they are pegged at 67 wins).

  37. I have thought of Harang with Blair’s comps, particularly with the stature and handsome face. Blair is not nearly so handsome as Harang, though, so let’s not get carried away.

    I’m hoping Blair will be more like James Shields.

  38. @55 — MLB Pipeline has him at #12, which is as high as I’ve seen him this offseason.

    The report on Ruiz has always been that it depends on when you see him; he can look like a stud one day and a completely marginal player the next, because his swing mechanics are complicated and it’s easy for him to get out of whack. You have to figure 2016 is a put-up-or-shut-up season for him.

  39. 55—“Really high” is too rich for my blood, but I haven’t yet given up on him. Failing as a 21-year-old in AA is not a career death sentence.

  40. @52, 65 wins would be complete disaster. Or would it? This is the last opportunity to tank, and I think we’ll take it. 65 wins isn’t much different than 73. Might as well get one more great draft position.

  41. Aaron Harang
    has extensively researched the Big Bang
    and feels it occurs
    when the batter loses patience and no longer demurs.

  42. Immanuel Kant
    has asked us to sign him but we shan’t
    his Critique of Reason
    does not bode well for a harmonious season.

  43. Deja Vu
    we have seen his stuff before, it’s not new
    A priori
    there has been little or no improvement, sori.

  44. Gattis hasn’t exactly made a good account of himself on the other end of the deal. He didn’t hit well last season, he can’t catch anymore, and he’s hurt again. It seems clear that they traded him at the right time, at least, and the package they got for him was considered fair by most evaluators at the time. If Foltyniewicz and Ruiz both flop, it doesn’t look great, but prospect packages always carry a degree of risk.

  45. @52,58
    I haven’t seen it discussed on here but although the Braves won 67 games last year, they actually were much worse according to their Pythag components. They ‘should’ have won 59 games, making them the worst team in baseball by that base calculation. They have often underperformed in the past but the one year you would have actually wanted them to be no better than their Pythag, when they could have secured the #1 overall pick, they actually screw up and overperform by 8 wins!

  46. And Gattis is who he is: a power-hitting catcher who can’t catch, and thus a decent-hitting outfielder who can’t play outfield. With Thurman, Ruiz, and Folty, there’s a good probability that one of them will be an above-average producer at some point of their careers. If anything, Folty should have a decent career as a set up man and maybe even a closer, and at 24, hasn’t quite exhausted his opportunities as a starter.

    @65

    And what’s more confusing is that it’s widely believed our bullpen was the problem, and yet they were 28-18 in one-run games, which seemed to shift the Pythag. That has me puzzled.

  47. I think a lot of our losses weren’t really close, and the bullpen poured gas on a lot of those fires. On the rare occasion that we did play a close game, I guess maybe we got a bit lucky? Dunno. Pythag gets skewed when you have lots of blowouts.

  48. Right. The Braves lost 25 games last year by 5 or more runs, and 15 of those were in the second half. We lost by 10 runs 4 times in the second half vs. only once in the first half. We also won by 10 runs once in the first half and not at all in the second half. I’d be interested to see a 1st half vs. 2nd half Pythag, but if you just look at the results, we really weren’t a bad team in the first half, and we were down right putrid in the 2nd half (no news there). If we could simply avoid trading every useful spare piece this season, we’ll have a pretty good year.

  49. @68

    the spare piece
    our propensity to trade them we must dare cease
    like Midas’ gold
    we’ll hoard them more than a week before they’re paroled.

  50. @68, this is very back-of-the-envelope, but here goes.

    (I used a simple version of the Pythag: RS^1.81/(RS^1.81+RA^1.81)

    First 81 games:
    40-41 win/loss, .494 win%
    322 runs scored, 345 runs allowed
    .469 Pythagorean winning percentage.

    Last 81 games:
    27-54 win/loss, .333 win%
    251 runs scored, 415 runs allowed
    .287 Pythagorean winning percentage.

  51. It’s those games where we got absolutely boat-raced because we brought in Jake Brigham or Ross Detwiler or David Aardsma and they got trashed. IIRC, we lost 20-4 and 11-1 to the Yankees in one weekend.

  52. The bullpen is deck chairs on the Titanic until we can put together an offense that isn’t a trainwreck. You can’t win scoring the fewest or second-fewest runs in the league, no matter how good the pen is or isn’t.

  53. @73

    We’ll upgrade offensively at C (Bethancourt vs. Flowers), 1B (healthy Freeman), 2B (Peterson will get better or we’ll replace him), LF, CF, and maybe SS and RF (Markakis getting stronger). I think we’ll be better, though maybe not much better.

  54. @75 — I’m thinking longer term, though. I’m pretty confident that the infield will be a plus once Swanson and Albies are established, but that leaves us with holes behind the plate and in the outfield.

    Even in 2016, I think the Flowers/Bethancourt upgrade will be largely offset by Pierzynski not being as good, I doubt Aybar will be significantly better than Simmons at the plate, and the “replacements” for Peterson aren’t any better than Peterson himself, barring an accelerated timetable for the Swanson/Albies duo. To say nothing of the big ol’ question mark which is Hector Olivera. It’s tough to picture a realistic scenario where they end up outside the bottom five in runs scored… not that this matters for 2016, but again, most of these holes aren’t fixing themselves.

    I’m actually fairly optimistic about the team’s pitching… it doesn’t have a track record, sure, but it’s young and there’s both upside and lots of options to sift through there, so it seems likely that they can figure out a configuration that works, sooner or later. But that offense, yikes. Going to have to get creative to fix that one in a year or two.

  55. CF: Inciarte and Maybin are comparable offensively. Inciarte is much, much better defensively.

    C: Pierzynski will almost surely be worse this season, but that will hopefully be offset by Flowers being better than Bethancourt

    SS: Aybar and Simmons were about the same at the plate in 2015. Aybar has potential to be a bit better, but he wasn’t last year.

    RF: Markakis might have a bit more power, but his productivity overall last year was comparable with career averages (he traded SLG for OBP).

    I think that’s all a wash. Where we can really expect to improve is at 1B with a full season of Freeman. At 2B, Jace will probably be a few runs better as a sophomore. LF might be better but KJ was pretty good for us there last year–at least Gomes won’t be getting AB’s, but then again Bourn and Swisher might…

    In all, I can see us improving 30 runs scored–maybe 50, depending on Olivera’s performance. That will probably still put us in the bottom 3 teams in runs scored in all of MLB. We were 40 runs worse than the Marlins who were 2nd worst in MLB last year.

  56. Catcher – Worse
    1B – Slightly better
    2B – Same
    3B – ??
    SS – Same (worse defensively)
    LF – ??
    CF – Better (better defensively)
    RF – Same

    Basically we are counting on Adonis and Olivera to help this offense improve from last year.

  57. Adonis is found money. I like him a lot. If only he walked even a little bit.

    I would wager even odds he will put up a better offensive season than Olivera. Then we should trade him because he’s aging and 3B with power are scarce.

  58. Jayson Stark over on ESPN.com recapped his survey of the winter’s action.

    He quoted an anonymous official of some MLB as describing the Braves as ‘…a rock group. Freddie Freeman and The Who.’

  59. Keith Law
    has compiled a List of everyone he ever saw
    in Order of Merit
    which argumentative types will often pay to inherit.

  60. I would hate to be in the Braves’ marketing department. If you focus on any player other than Freddie Freeman (he was even in doubt at one point), you risk him being gone in a few weeks or months. How about these two slogans?

    “See more different players play than any other team in baseball.”
    or
    “Watch your favorite player with the Braves so you can watch him playing in the playoffs for another team later in the year.”

  61. Was anyone else getting a ‘redirect loop’ error preventing them from accessing Braves Journal yesterday? Just me?

  62. @83
    Anyone read anything about Ronnier Mustilier? He’s almost identical to Adonis in every way; Cuban, early 30s, undersized, powerful bat, questionable defense, former yankee, raked in the winter league…. Anyway, he’s now under Atlanta Braves control. It looks like he almost made the yankees a few years back after shooting through the minors and then having a good spring, but got injured. By the time he came back, the yankees had nowhere to put him, thus letting him go. He took a year off and resurfaced in winter ball where he put up big numbers. His numbers seem to be a little better than those of Adonis, but it’s hard to say he is or may be better when it looks like he was basically knocked out of the Yankees system by Adonis. I didn’t see him on the NRI list, but it’s a story I’ll be following.

  63. This is the first I’ve heard of Ronny Muscler.

    Just like Ronnier sang, be my second baseman…woah-ohhhhh

  64. If the Braves are the Who, Freddie is Pete Townshend, Julio Teheran is Keith Moon, Ender Inciarte is John Entwhistle, Jace Peterson is Roger Daltrey, Hector Olivera is Pino Palladino, Dansby Swanson is Zak Starkey, and we’re in for 162 games of “Cobwebs & Strange.”

  65. Ronnier Mustelier
    bonnier,yes,and soon we dost tell, familier
    rejected in the Bronx
    for his looks and a minimal number of extra base tonks.

  66. how nice to think of Evan Gattis rolling his tongue around that number, 3.4 million, dollars…a number that has to astonish him, astound him, maybe even make him cry..Greinke at ten times the amount can know nothing of that level of accomplishment.

  67. If Gattis had 0.0 WAR and got 3.4 mill, that kind of messes up the dollars per WAR calculation, doesn’t it?

  68. I know Gattis got off to a terrible start in Houston, but once he got in a groove, he was okay. So if you take out the first month or so, he actually had positive WAR.

    I also imagine he is a good clubhouse guy for a young team. They made the playoffs and had the Royals on the mat.

  69. Sure. I wanted the last game, but though it might go quickly tomorrow. I have always wanted to go to opening day and figured the Cubs would be a fun game to go see.

  70. Cliff raises a good point and 110 is a red herring.

    Arbitration dollars aren’t closely related to free agent value because they undershoot them. If Gattis were a free agent, he’d probably be getting MORE money.

    Dollars per WAR are based on averages, and players like Gattis probably out-earn the average. Teams still overpay for homers and underpay for dWAR. Players at the ends of the spectrum violate the rule, too: a 0.0 WAR player frequently signs a positive dollar contract, a 10 WAR player never signs a $75 mil/year contract.

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