Mallex Smith (by Smitty)

Mallex Smith was brought over from the Padres as part of the “Great Rebuild” in the Justin Upton deal. He has been a fun player to follow, based on his high batting averages, speed (he stole 88 bases in 2014) and, of course, he is a fellow Smitty.

There is no doubt Mallex can hit a little. A guy with his speed, all he need to do is put the ball in play. But can he hit enough? He doesn’t have much power, though he did hit three home runs once he was called up last season. Those were probably a product of him sitting on fastballs guys were trying to throw by him.

While Mallex’s speed screams “Center Field!”, he really isn’t an amazing defender. He is known to take some less-than-stellar routes to balls. This is supposedly something he has been working on for a few years.

2016 Recap: Mallex played eight games in the minors in 2016 and only hit .419(!). After getting the call up to the bigs, he started really slow, but looked like he was putting a things together before injuring his thumb. (In 16 games in April, he hit a putrid .188/.278/.292. In 42 games in May and June before his injury, he hit .256/.326/.413.) He finished the season with a .238 average and .316 OBP.

He also was caught stealing eight times in 24 chances. Those aren’t numbers you want from a player with his skill set.

2017 Outlook: Where do you play him? The outfield is crowded with Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis and it doesn’t appear the Braves are in a hurry to move any of those three. Peanut has mentioned the possibility Mallex will start the season in Gwinnett to get regular ABs.

Mallex has been mentioned in a few trades, but the Braves are rumored to want to keep him.

I am a big Mallex Smith fan, but I feel his skill set only allows for a brief window of success in the majors. While he is probably best suited for a fourth outfielder on a playoff team, he has a lot of appeal to teams in need of a top of the order bat. I think the Braves need to find a way to play him or try and flip him for a position of need. Sitting him on the bench is a waste and there is no need for him to shag balls across town for an extended period of time.

 

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92 thoughts on “Mallex Smith (by Smitty)”

  1. He has to show that he is healthy and productive at AAA, then it is possible to have him spot start or get a call up in case of injury. If he can show that he can be productive in MLB, than we will probably see a mid season Markakis trade

  2. Regarding the rebuild and contending in 2017:

    I honestly think they wanted to contend this year, but Wisler, Blair, Folty, Sims, and Newcomb haven’t advanced yet to the extent that their collective prospect pedigrees might have suggested and they didn’t really “hit” on any of the lower tier guys (Jenkins, Gant, Whalen, etc).

    From where I sit, the key to this whole rebuild is to have a cheap, homegrown top 5 rotation. Until that manifests, you’re kind of in a holding pattern for the surrounding parts.

  3. Their projection for competing in 2017 was definitely reliant on Folty/Wisler/Jenkins/Ruiz establishing themselves as reliable major league options quicker than they did (assuming they ever do, of course). Trading Wood and Peraza on the Olivera gamble set them back a bit as well, and the fact that Bethancourt spit the bit as an everyday player left them with a gaping hole they’re still struggling to fill. The team looks a lot different if Bethancourt, Peraza, and Ruiz have locked down those positions.

    I also think the Miller trade altered their timetable somewhat. It was a too-good-to-pass-up trade in terms of assets received, but it also kicked the can on contention further down the road a year or two. Miller was an immediate major league asset the Braves probably expected to be anchoring the 2017 rotation, whereas of the players received only Inciarte was someone you could plug right in.

  4. They definitely needed one of Wisler/Blair/Newcomb to come through (and there’s still definitely the potential one or two will this year), but the Olivera trade is really what hurt our 2017 prospects. If we had a 3-4 WAR 3B, which (I guess) was what they thought they were getting, and they had Matt Kemp’s $18M to spend elsewhere, things would look a lot different. Had they not made the trade, they have Wood in the rotation, and Peraza manning second. They would have more flexibility with Albies and Jace too, so they could have used money and talent to bring in somebody elite.

  5. Agreed, Mallex’s skills are redundant with Ender around and while he might be good enough to play RF for *this* Braves team, his skills aren’t suited to play RF for the team we want to get to.

    Can’t emphasize enough how much work there is left to do on this rebuild. Notwithstanding the rotation, there are 4 projected starting position players 31 or older, and the highest WAR was Markakis at 1.7. Markakis, Adonis, Flowers, and probably Kemp are all going to have to be not just replaced, but upgraded.

  6. @3
    I largely agree with all of what you’re saying. But I don’t think it’s fair to lump Rio into this group. The guy held his own at AAA as one of the youngest players in the league. I don’t think the front office was expecting him to be a major big league contributor at this point. Blair, Wisler and Folty? Sure. I think he has every chance to win a spot on the 25 man this spring at which point he’ll have every chance to compete with Adonis, Jace and Serpico for playing time.

  7. I suspect they’d be perfectly fine with Mallex and Ender in the same outfield, but given the unexpectedly fast track development of Ronald Acuna, Smith is more redundant/fungible than previously assumed. If they get a good offer, they’ll move him. If they don’t, they’ll use him as a 4th OF and give him a shot at RF when Neck exits next season.

  8. @6 — Ruiz had a decent year in 2016, but that was after a 2015 that was essentially a lost season. My impression is that the Braves were hoping he’d come along a lot faster than he has; more Dansby Swanson than Dustin Peterson. A successful season in 2015 means he’s knocking on the door in 2016, and probably could have won the job outright sooner or later. Who knows; maybe the Braves don’t feel the need to trade for Olivera if they’re more confident in Ruiz as an internal solution.

    Before the 2015 season Ruiz was being talked about as a guy who could establish himself as an elite prospect if he continued along the trajectory he was on; now, even with a rebound season under his belt, no one really thinks of him that way — he’s seen more as a platoon guy or someone who could potentially keep a seat warm while a better prospect like Riley or Maitan matures.

  9. Neck’s our right fielder in 2017 unless someone makes an offer the Johns really like. Mallex has time to be more than a fourth outfielder. If that’s his ceiling, well, maybe he’s the one shipping out. Everything Mallex is a guess right now.

  10. I’ve got a family member whose company has purchased 2 sets of season tickets every year for as long as I can remember. One set (4 seats) is 11 rows behind the first base batters circle and the other is the first row behind the 3rd base dugout. Over Christmas break I was hounding him about getting some tickets to the opening game next year. He just laughed and said “not happening”.

    Come to find out the seats behind the batters circle cost them $20,000 per season at Turner Field. When he got the package in the mail this year those same seats were $71,000.

    Got to pay for that new stadium somehow.

  11. Mallex is a 3.5th outfielder on a bad team and a AAAA player on a good one, IMO. I doubt he’ll ever hit enough to outweigh his average or not exactly Inciarte level defense. If you’re going to hit .245 and 5 HR in MLB, you better be a ++ defender. He isn’t and may not ever be.

  12. Oh gosh, stop it already. The fella has had 215 PAs at the big league level and hit .303/.371/.378 at age-22 in AA/AAA while stealing 56 bags. He stole 88 bags in 2014. He’s OPS’ed over .800 at half of the stops in the minors these past two seasons. He was young for every level, and from what I’ve read, he hasn’t played as much organized baseball as his peers. If you look at Inciarte’s minor league numbers, he’s not nearly the hitter Mallex has been.

    His route-running and lack of power are alarming, and he still needs a little bit of time at AAA, but it’s way too early to determine he’s not a major league outfielder. He’s a really good problem to have. If RF was putting about 10 more balls over the fence, we probably aren’t even worried about Mallex.

  13. Until Mallex himself proves otherwise, I have no problem imagining him as a valuable contributor to this team going forward. It’s not something I’m worried about.

  14. I remain confident Mallex can be as valuable as Billy Hamilton, who put in a 3.1 fWAR last year. Mallex seems to be a better hitter.

  15. @12 – they intentionally reduced the capacity from 52K to 41K and moved premium seating closer to the field of play. Yeah; you’re going to pay for that.

  16. I could be uncharacteristically pessimistic, but I don’t see a single player that won’t start 2017 in AA (unless Fried does) that I think is a near-lock to be a big leaguer. I love Maitan, of course, and I like Acuna a lot, but he’s had 148 ABs at low-A, and that’s it. Even guys like Soroka and Fried who have big league size, repeatable mechanics, and sustainable velocity have not pitched above low-A. Newcomb, Wisler, Blair, Weigel, Minter, and Fried, who may start at AA, are my only true hopes for hitting the major leagues. Everybody else just has so much risk.

  17. I don’t think Acuna’s a sure thing by any measure, but if you have Inciarte and Acuna puts up a solid follow up season in AA/AAA, then Smith becomes redundant. If you can trade Ben Revere for a more useful piece, you do that.

  18. Mallex already has more HRs in a single season than Ben Revere (in those 215 PAs, no less), and has a higher SB/PA ratio than Revere. He has more power and steals more bases. I think you might be selling Mallex low.

  19. Smith’s upside is Michael Bourn. His downside is Willy Taveres. His mid-range is somewhere between Ben Revere and Gregor Blanco. That’s a useful player, but it’s not the core piece of the next Braves pennant winner.

  20. Oh, and Revere’s career OBP is 4 points higher than Mallex’s last year, who apparently was terrible.

    I’m officially a Mallex apologist.

  21. I think Mallex’s highside is Tim Raines (yeah, I said it), and his midrange is Michael Bourn. Bourn had a league-average OPS for the majority of his career. I think his low-side is Ben Revere as he is already more valuable than Ben Revere.

  22. I vote with Sam and not with Rob.

    NO WAY Mallex Smith equals Tim Raines. Absolutely WILL NOT have the power and absolutely WILL NOT steal bases as efficiently (in fact, no one ever has, I think with Raines at like 85% for his career). Mallex MIGHT be a better fielder than Raines, but today he is not as good. So Mallex needs a lot of play in AAA to see if he can figure out “routes” and how to hit lefties. Meanwhile, he has little reason to be in Atlanta.

  23. Raines’ career highs for home runs were 18, 16, and 12. In his 20 legitimate seasons, he averaged 8.5 HRs. He certainly had some high power years when you consider his doubles and triples, and Mallex will probably never steal bases at the rate Raines did. But that’s why he’s the high side. Raines uniquely played 20+ seasons with a skill set that doesn’t age very well, and that’s why Raines was a borderline HoFer. If Mallex outhits Michael Bourn, which is what I’m arguing is very possible, and is able to play 20 seasons at a high level, then he’s close to Tim Raines. It’s not going to happen, of course.

  24. I was a little surprised to see that Tim Raines only hit 4 homers off the Braves. I was unaware that anybody who played in the NL through the 80’s had fewer than 10 off the Braves. (He hit 3 of the 4 in 1984. Out of 8 total for that year.)

  25. Mallex’s upside equals Tim Raines????? Dear God, man! Get a hold of yourself! Garry Maddox, Johnny Damon and Mark Kotsay are definitely far less crazy high-upside possibilities.

    The point is, we should be trying to compete, in my opinion, not screwing around and keeping players that we’re not using but that other teams would immediately slide into their starting lineup in Triple-A just because. If more needs to happen with this rebuild, we at the very least need to push this forward to the next step. Keeping players like Mallex Smith and John Gant and Tyrell Jenkins around in Triple-A does nothing for us. We would essentially be spinning our wheels. Now, if they think they’re gonna trade Markakis at some point, keeping Mallex around makes some sense, so I’m not gonna go nuts if he’s around and doing pretty much nothing this season, but overall, we can’t just wait and hope that our prospects will turn out. It’s time to move forward, and I think the team has done a pretty good job of that so far this offseason. We’ve signed Inciarte to a long-term deal. If the team thinks that Acuna will be a bona fide major leaguer and will be ready at the end of the Inciarte deal, Mallex pretty much needs to be traded.

  26. Haha, Rock’s value was tied up in a few crazy power seasons, high stolen base totals, and longevity. If Mallex puts on weight the way Raines did, who knows? That’s why it’s a highside. Rarely does someone get to their highside. But the point is to show that it’s foolish to be “dreamin’ for Ben Revere” with this guy.

  27. Mallex will be 24 in May. He is not going to be an all time great.

    However, I do believe that he can be more than a 4th outfielder for somebody; I just think that it has to be in CF. It is simultaneously possible that Mallex could be better than Markakis in 2017, and be not good enough.

    In other words, Mallex could be Ken Griffey, Sr. in RF, but the only way that works is if you have Joe Morgan at 2B and Johnny Bench at C.

  28. I think the fact that we’re even comparing Mallex Smith to Kenny Lofton shows that he’s closer to Rock Raines than Ben Revere.

    Rock Raines had a career .294/.385/.425/ line, which during that era was a 123 OPS+. Mallex Smith is obviously not going to do that. He also probably will not steal 90 bases in a year, have a .456 SLG for his 7-year peak, and play everyday until he’s 35 and as a reserve until he’s 40. And he may barely crack 400 ABs in his age-23 season, whereas Raines already had 156 SBs, 980 ABs, and a 110 OPS+ before his age-23 season.

    But he’s already better than Ben Revere’s .285/.320/.342 career line that extended through what appears to be his statistical peak. And like I mentioned, he’s already stealing bases at a higher clip than Revere has, and he hasn’t even reached his peak.

    The comp to Lofton is helpful (especially since Lofton is more comparable to Raines than you think), and if Mallex finishes his career with a .299/.372/.423 line in (only) 17 seasons with a 65 SB average across his 5-year peak, then he’s done pretty well. But Mallex has already reached the majors at 23 whereas Lofton had a cup of coffee when he was 24 and didn’t play full-time until the next season. Lofton also played during a heightened offensive era where he only had a career 107 OPS+ while having a similar career line to Raines.

    What’s very, very possible is Mallex, assuming health, can have a career that essentially splits Lofton and Raines, and while that is unlikely, that’s a projection that would discourage you from trading him for a useful piece that Ben Revere would bring. No. Just no.

  29. Basically, Mallex could be:

    1) A below-average hitter and average defender: a one-win guy with occasional spikes to two or three wins. His legs would keep him in the big leagues for a decade, and he’d retire with around 10 WAR. That’s Gregor Blanco’s career.

    2) An average hitter and average defender (or below-average hitter and above-average defender): a two-win guy with occasional spikes to three or four wins. He could play 10-15 years with that skillset, and he’d retire with 20-30 WAR. That’s Mark Kotsay’s career.

    3) An average hitter and above-average defender (or above-average hitter and average defender): a three-win guy with occasional spikes to four or five wins. He could play at least 15 years with that skillset, and he’d retire with 40-50 wins. That’s Steve Finley or Brett Butler’s career.

    Based on what we’ve seen thus far, it seems likeliest that he’ll fall between 1) and 2), but if he improves his hitting or defense, 3) is not out of the question. The following outcomes probably are out of the question, though:

    4) An above-average hitter and above-average defender (or average hitter and excellent defender or excellent hitter and average defender): a four-win guy with occasional spikes to five or six wins. He could play 15-18 years at that level, and he’d retire with 55-65 wins. That’s Jim Edmonds’s career.

    5) An excellent hitter and above-average defender (or above-average hitter and excellent defender): a five-win guy with occasional spikes to six or seven wins. He could play 15-20 years and retire with 65-75 wins. That’s Tim Raines or Carlos Beltran’s career.

  30. Mark Kotsay is a lot more realistic a projection than Tim Raines or Kenny Lofton, certainly. A lot of teams would be glad to have the good years of Mark Kotsay’s career, so that’s no insult, but let’s keep our feet on the ground here. The Braves should not be making plans under the assumption that Mallex Smith is going to have a fringe HoF career.

  31. I’m not attempting to be realistic. There’s a handful of Rock Raines’, and Mallex will most likely never be one of them. And to hold onto any prospect because of any delusions of a 66 fWAR (Raines) or 62 fWAR (Lofton) career would be insane. I agree that Mark Kotsay is more realistic, but at this stage of the game, trading him even as if he is going to be Mark Kotsay (career 20 fWAR player) is short-sighted, let alone the Revere comp (downside of a 7.8 fWAR career). My hyperbole is an attempt to highlight that Mallex is going to be extremely valuable, and he could very well be a 3-4 WAR a year guy for 7-8 seasons, and that would put him between #2 and #3 of Alex’s list.

    So for clarity, I’m not insanely saying you shouldn’t trade Mallex Smith because he’s going to be Rock Raines. However, it does bear the question as to why people don’t think he has Kenny Lofton’s skillset and projections, who ultimately had a similar career WAR to Raines. I do want to throw that out there.

  32. I’m a Mallex apologist as well. I personally like 3A on AAR’s list, but the point I’ve been trying to make is that he needs an opportunity at the major league level…specifically to see if he can decrease his K% rates and become adequate against lefties.

    Right now, Nick Markakis is barely adequate and he’s not getting any better. Even if there’s only a 10% chance Mallex puts up a 7 year stretch averaging 3 WAR, this is the time where you should be finding out if it’s within him. Watching Markakis put up 3 wins combined over the next two years doesn’t move the needle either short or long term.

  33. This issue with trading Markakis is that this is an exceptionally weak market to be moving a player of his type. There are lots of defensively limited corner bats available, and why trade for Markakis when you can just go get one of those? Would any team rather have Markakis than Trumbo or Bautista or Bruce or one of the Rockies’ outfielders?

    They’re better off holding on to him and hoping the market picks up in July or next offseason.

  34. @44 – Markakis is a slightly below-to-average defensive corner OF. The FA’s on that list are terrible defensively.

    If I’m contending, I’d rather have Markakis than Bruce. Trumbo and Bautista are going to going to cost a lot more financially and you can’t really play Trumbo in the OF. I also read Colorado wanted Stroman for Dickerson. Markakis isn’t great, but for a club looking to contend with a black hole in the outfield (see: Toronto or Baltimore), he could provide decent marginal value at a cost controlled rate. If they can’t get a legit offer, then I agree you wait, but I’d at least kick the tires on it.

  35. We’re not gonna contend in any real sense next year, so Markakis is going to be given a chance to reestablish some trade value. It’s not crazy to think he’ll go on some kind of early season tear that’ll make him appealing to someone come the trade deadline. That’s what the FO has gotta be banking on.

  36. As the clock ticks on his contract and he continues to be a .750 OPS outfielder with mediocre defense and Veteran Presence, he becomes more and more valuable. Every day he doesn’t turn into a pumpkin, he becomes more valuable. From what I’m hearing, Peterson will start the year in AAA, so you’ll have two OFs in AAA that will hopefully be begging to take a corner spot. I’d love to see Markakis traded in June to open a spot for one of Mallex or Peterson.

    If Mallex can provide 40 SBs and better defense than Markakis for NO money, how much lower would Mallex’s OPS have to be to not be significantly more valuable than Markakis? With the news of Mallex’s oblique injury, perhaps they just want to see with their own eyes that Mallex is ready to go. From a WAR perspective, Mallex (with his speed and defense) would have to have an OPS less than .650 or something to not be more valuable than Markakis, right?

  37. @47 – I get it, but to a lesser extent we were saying the same thing last year, and Markakis put up a .253/.328/.363 in the first half. To his credit, he was very good in the second half to get his overall season numbers at a respectable level, but those 1st half slash lines won’t get you anything on the trade market if he does it again. I’d just as soon get a B- prospect for him now than gamble for a B+ one in June.

    I agree on your second point; not sure where the line is, but Mallex brings enough other things to the table that your’re not as dependent on the bat to generate value.

  38. We’ve got such a good roster that the only thing to argue about now is whether Mallex will come up just short in HoF voting.

  39. Agreed on Mueller. I was thinking I’d be well satisfied if any prospect in the system ended up with his career triple slash line.

  40. In Bill Ballew’s 68 minute interview with McCauley for prospects 11-20, he had a number of interesting things to say about those guys:

    -He actually talks with the minor league managers and coaches about each player as he evaluates them. I’m not sure if Law or Sickels or whomever are doing that.
    -Not very high on Demeritte due to low contact rate. Doesn’t think it’s going to change much. Huge power but could be doomed to be a Dave Kingman type.
    -Sees Weigel being in ATL in 2017
    -Cristian Pache is one of the most underrated prospects in the system. He mentioned how John Hart talks about him everytime they talk about high end prospects in the system.
    -Rio Ruiz comps well to Bill Mueller, as mentioned.
    -Anfernee Seymour is working to mold his game to being a more traditional leadoff hitter and using his skills. Apparently his approach had poor previously.
    -Alex Jackson supposedly had attitude issues with Seattle and was uncoachable. He finally started to make adjustments to his swing plane in the second half of last season, thus the improved production. Thinks he might be growing up, they’ll get his bat going, and then move him to catcher.
    -Acuna is a top 10 talent, but McAuley and Ballew both felt he was too young to put him in the top 10.
    -They’re really babying Mueller and Wentz.
    -Peterson’s defense is improving, and they think he could grow into a 20 HR guy out of Mississippi’s park.

  41. @58 Thanks for sharing, Alex. It is impossible not get excited about the (mainly pitching) future reading 1-10.

  42. @62
    I’ve really grown to enjoy Grant McAuley’s podcasts and columns. He has enough access to actually give me info that I haven’t found elsewhere and he’s far enough away tom the club that he’s not just a mouthpiece. In a just world, he’d have Chip Carray’s job.

  43. I think McAuley will have someone in the Atlanta broadcasting booth’s job at some point. I agree that his post gives him a perspective that’s hard to find elsewhere. He’s also a good communicator. I’ve started to like him.

  44. Ehh…he’s okay. Has a good voice and knowledgeable, but comes off like he’s pitching an info-mercial and seems to like to use five words when one will do.

  45. This roster is constructed so much better than last year. I had so much optimism for 2016, and I was so, so wrong for not considering how thin the roster was. Whenever Albies is healthy, we’ll have Albies/Rodriguez/Ruiz/Peterson/Garcia for 2 spots, and Snitker should know how to squeeze the juice best. And if any of the outfielders get injured or beat up a girl, Mallex is right there. And not to beat a dead horse, but considering the article’s “optimistic” look for Markakis and Kemp are 1.5 and 1 WAR respectively, it really makes you wonder why Mallex isn’t starting over one of them anyway. He’s a 2-3 WAR player with future value for getting development PAs in 2016. I’ll be very disappointed if one of those guys aren’t traded to clear a spot. You still have a 4th OF in Rodriguez, and you can also sign a guy like Francoeur to be your 5th and occasional 4th.

    And his WAR calculations include Walden in relief, but they’ve got 2 guys from Rule 5 that they’ve gotta hope can be as good as or better than .5 WAR, and all of that depth in AAA.

    I don’t see “optimism” happening because I doubt the 3 old SPs put in a total of 7.5 WAR, Freeman putting up 6 WAR or Dansby at 4 WAR, but I see “2016 WAR” being possible because that can be repeated on the aggregate, even if not player-for-player.

  46. @70 Let’s see who comes closer: Mallex putting up 3 WAR, or 3 old SPs combining for 7.5 WAR, Freeman to 6 WAR, and Dansby 4 WAR.

    I think I might take the latter.

  47. In a part time role, or spending most of the year in AAA, Mallex won’t accumulate 3 WAR. But he was worth a full win in only 200 PAs last season.

    In a situation where Mallex and Ender played everyday, they could easily both be 3-4 win players.

    That said, I think you leave Mallex in AAA to start the year. He’s a bit of a late bloomer and could use the reps. He doesn’t take great routes, but he’s speedy and very athletic and even with the lousy routes, defensive metrics like him. The biggest flaw in his game is one that can be fixed easily, that’s a good thing.

    I’m really high on Mallex. I think in Mallex and Ender, we’ve got ourselves a Michael Bourn/Shane Victorino situation like the Phillies once had. As we aren’t competing for the division like the Phillies were when those two were breaking in in 06, I think we can afford to be greedier than they could.

    I would like to make room for Mallex by moving one of Markakis or Kemp, play Mallex and Ender in the same OF for half a season or more, and let Mallex establish himself.

    If we can go in to the offseason or trade deadline with Ender and Ender-lite instead of Ender and Maybe-Ender, we can maximize the return on one of them.

  48. Mallex needs every day at bats. His splits against LHP are really bad (small sample size notwithstanding). No way do we want both Mallex and Ender in the same OF unless you want another bottom of the league offense.

  49. @74 – Nick Markakis hasn’t slugged over .400 in four years…no offense, but I doubt the difference between he and Mallex is going to make or break the offense.

  50. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Markakis is the answer either, but I think he’s a better hitter than Mallex. I don’t think Mallex is an MLB starter. Will be happy to be proven wrong.

  51. I don’t believe in Rio Ruiz’s skillset. I do believe in Mallex Smith’s skillset. I’d love nothing better than for the Braves to trade Markakis soon, plug Ender in RF, Mallex in CF, and tell Kemp to hug the line in LF and let Mallex and Ender cover 75% of the field. IMO, Mallex is a 3 WAR player if given the opportunity.

    My brainwave has us trading Kakes, putting Mallex in CF but lightly platooning him with Sean R. (sliding Sean R. to RF), signing Valbuena to platoon at 3B, and breaking camp with Albies at 2B.

    IMO, that’s a +.500 team on paper going into Suntrust.

  52. Mallex is supposed to be a good bunter, but I haven’t seen that yet, and I’ve been following him since his time in AA. Anyone gots stats to make a point either way?

    If you trade Markakis, you move Kemp back to RF–he can still play there–keep Inciarte in CF so he can help out the corners, and stick Mallex in LF. That’s where he belongs, for now. If Inciarte gets hurt, then you move Mallex to CF. You’re wasting a plus defender by moving Inciarte to RF. Play strong up the middle, etc.

  53. @78
    Mallex was a plus defender in CF last year. Even with some bad routes, his 80 speed made him a +7 DRS defender in 451 innings. Ender had 15 in 1127 innings. While I don’t think that Mallex is the defender Ender is, I also don’t think his arm plays in RF, and there’s nothing in me that wants to see Kemp in RF again. It’s not perfect, but IMO is the best plan with those 3 on the field together.

  54. Ender needs to be in CF controlling the outfield defense. Mallex takes too many bad routes to be next to Kemp.

  55. Kemp’s a terrible defender, both by metrics and by the eye test. Any defensive alignment that has him in right is an incorrect one, I feel.

    Markakis isn’t getting traded, by the way. There’s no demand for a player like him right now. I doubt the Braves could even dump his salary, never mind getting a prospect.

  56. Just finished reading “Ahead of the Curve” by Brian Kenny. I can recommend it, a great read. Not being exposed to MLB Network in Europe, I had actually not heard about Brian before. Glad I found his book.

  57. Markakis’ arm doesn’t really play in right either. Just sayin’.

    There’s no market for Markakis right now, true, but there will be one for him in July. Jay Bruce has been historically less valuable and made $12M last year, and not only did Cincinnati dump him, they got a live arm and the Colombian Daniel Castro, so they won’t have any problems finding a suitor for Markakis. By July, there will be 5 players (Peterson) who should have rightful claim to ML OF innings, and Markakis has the least future value. And freeing Markakis’ $11M for 2018 is crucial to contending. If they deal Markakis, they’ll have $43M coming off the books, and only nominal raises to Freeman, Teheran, Inciarte, and arb eligible players on the horizon. Even if few prospects get better, they will have tons of asset to land the elite players the roster is missing.

  58. Jay Bruce was 29 last season, was one of the few genuine sources of power on the trade market, had an option instead of a guaranteed year, and the Mets still had buyers’ remorse more or less immediately, so I’m not sure that’s the best comparison.

    The only scenario where I could see a team actively wanting Markakis is one where a team is just getting absolutely nothing out of their corner outfield and desperately needs some veteran competency who can play out there for a month or two and not kill you. I’m not sure how many teams exist with such a problem who a) are expecting to compete, and b) have $5.5 million to burn this year and another $11 million next year.

    You never know, of course, but if the Braves are in a position where their internal options are forcing their hand, I think it’s highly likely they’ll have to eat money in order to make Markakis go away.

  59. @84 – Depending where Bautista goes, I think both Baltimore and Toronto fit your criteria. You wouldn’t get much, but I don’t see a Kelly Johnson type return as being out of the question.

  60. No contending team wants a Markakis type now – he’s a quintessential low-ceiling player – but inevitably injuries/trades/poor performance will create some corner OF openings around the league and Cakes’ good AVG/OBP (along with his track record of durability and Veteran Presents) will make him a marginally attractive trade target.

    On the other hand, I have no idea what I even want to happen with Kemp… he was a critical part of the Braves’ 2nd half 2016 offense, but his defense sucks and he’s too old to be part of the core of the next good/great Braves team. That said, even if the Braves *could* trade Kemp, they’d really miss the power he provides to the lineup. Perhaps Ruiz and Peterson will continue to develop as power hitters – if they could combine for 35/40 HRs, that’d be a great help.

  61. They could trade Nick Markakis today if they wanted to. If they want something of real potential value in return, they’ll hold him, hope he gets hot and a contender has a hole develop in one of their OF slots.

  62. When you know you’re not gonna compete for the playoffs in 2017, it gives you a lot more flexibility to hold onto Markakis and cultivate his value to other teams. His professionalism and his competency mean there’s a not impossible chance that he’ll be batting .350 by June and thus would be able to be swapped with a team for a decent return.

  63. I think there’s this much debate because there’s a realistic possibility that you’re sticking a 3 WAR player making the league minimum in AAA while a 1.5 WAR player making $11M per is taking that spot.

    Bruce had power, sure, but it depends on the market. Markakis plays good defense, made slightly less (albeit for a longer term), and gets on base better. If someone needs a #2 hole guy vs. a #6-7 hole guy, then they’ll be interested in Markakis. They’re both extremely flawed players. KJ made the league minimum for one season, so I don’t see them getting something like Gant/Whalen, but if they clear the payroll and get a live arm back, that’s a win for a guy that was a placeholder while you were rebuilding.

    And by clearing the payroll, it hereby begins…. THE OTANI WATCH!!!11!!!1!

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