The Best Players in Baseball, 2016 (by Edward)

Here we are at the beginning of the year arguing about Mark Kotsay, as usual. But did you know that according to my rankings method—see last year’s inaugural post—Mark Kotsay isn’t actually one of the best players in baseball anymore? Here are the 30 players who beat him out. (Rankings accomplished by my patented Math + Massage technique. The working document is here. Per last year’s post, “3-yr W. TR Avg.” is a weighted average of the player’s last three years on Bill James’s Total Runs leaderboard.)

RkPlayer3-yr W.
TR Avg.
1Mike Trout163.6LAA251
2Josh Donaldson152.6TOR313
3Nolan Arenado144COL2612
4Manny Machado149.5BAL249
5Mookie Betts161.5BOS24NR
6Kris Bryant143CHC25NR
7Paul Goldschmidt140.8ARI292
8Ian Kinsler142DET3519
9Jose Altuve140.2HOU27~13
10Buster Posey135.6SF308
11Francisco Lindor144CLE23NR
12Anthony Rizzo133.2CHC2713
13Adrian Beltre132TEX3811
14Anthony Rendon128.2WAS27NR
15Robinson Cano129.5SEA3417
16Brian Dozier129MIN3022
17Joey Votto134.5CIN334
18Dustin Pedroia133.6BOS3321
19Carlos Correa127HOU22NR
20Charlie Blackmon125.2COL30NR
21Kyle Seager124.4SEA2829
22Brandon Crawford123.8SF30NR
23Adam Eaton122.4CHW28NR
24Carlos Gonzalez120COL31NR
25Bryce Harper119WAS246
26Yoenis Cespedis116.6NYM3126
27Jean Segura121.2ARI27NR
28Dee Gordon126.8MIA2923
29DJ LeMahieu118.8COL28NR
30Xander Bogaerts115.4BOS24NR

Notes about the list:

  • Next 10 mathematically were Marte, Heyward, Kipnis, Freeman, Cruz, Herrera, Belt, Yelich, Frazier, and Miguel Cabrera. I would have re-ordered them significantly, I’m sure.
  • I would like to exclude Dee Gordon from the list, but the system won’t let me. Damn the man! Save the Empire!
  • Players who made the top-30 mathematically but I cut because of a lack of playing time include Corey Seager, AJ Pollock, Jackie Bradley Jr. and a bunch of other schmoes
  • I had never heard of Adam Duvall before undertaking the list this year. I’m still not sure I’ve heard of Adam Duvall.
  • Hell of an era for third base.
  • Hell of an era for…Ian Kinsler?!
  • Rough year for Harper, McCutchen, Heyward, and Stanton. I don’t know if anybody thought they’d all disappoint.
  • Everybody look out if the Rockies figure out how to pitch.
  • Who’s the best player over the next five years out of Betts, Bryant, Lindor, Correa, and Machado? Answer: Probably Dansby Swanson.

Happy New Year, everybody! May the Braves actually land a player on this list next off-season.

183 thoughts on “The Best Players in Baseball, 2016 (by Edward)”

  1. Conversation from the last thread.

    A bench of Rodriguez, Jace, Valbuena, Mallex and Recker would be a good one.

  2. While I’m trolling, I’ll note that the Royals just traded their version of Mallex Smith for Nathan Karns.

  3. @2
    Yes it would, and a 4-man bench in the NL is a recipe for disaster when the team is reliant on platoons in 2-3 spots.

  4. @3

    Here I am, hook, line, and sinker, Mr. Hutcheson.

    Were there ever a man more misunderstood? Dyson has never hit more than 2 HRs in a year, and his career line is .260/.325/.353. Dyson clocks in at 8.7 PA/SB. Mallex, in his brief stint, hit .238/.316/.365, a slightly higher OPS, with 3 HR in 215 PAs, and clocked in at 13.4 PA/SB. Dyson will also be a FA after 2017. So while Dyson is an absolute burner, Mallex is already a slightly better hitter, and his SBs should develop as Dyson’s did. Similar, absolutely, but Mallex is a more valuable player than Dyson, though maybe not more down the road, and you are a bad person.

    If you want to know how I plan on defending Mallex, see Edward with Heyward. Heyward’s no Rock, though.

  5. @6
    Both DOB and Bowman have discussed Braves might carry 8 relievers and only 4 bench players.

  6. I’m still always a little surprised when someone unironically says “8-man bullpen” and isn’t immediately struck down by divine lightning. They’re not even running any specialists!

  7. So, an 8-man bullpen…


    Another middle reliever makes 8? Is that how this is supposed to go?

  8. The Braves have released their 2017 bobblehead calendar, and I see they decided to wait until the first post-ASB game to give away a Matt Kemp bobble. I also note that there’s no Nick Markakis bobblehead. I think we can take this as conclusive proof that the Braves are going to hold onto Kemp through 2017, but are reserving the right to trade off Cakes if a good offer presents itself.

  9. Yeah, it really sounds like 8 pitchers and 4 bench guys is the plan. Sean,Jace and Chase play everywhere, sp they make sense. Chase is likely out of a job once Ozzie comes up, sinse he can function as a backup SS. The bullpen will probably take care of itself once guys start getting hurt. The front office can make adjustments. Guys like Ruiz, Adonis, Chase, Jace and Albies can play their way on or off the roster. Same goes for the bullpen guys.

  10. @14
    Yes it is, especially considering one of the projected bench guys is Chase D’Arnaud who carries a career MLB OPS of .594 and MILB career OPS of .716. Oh…but he’s good looking, in a band, and is good with the fans so there’s that. I honestly don’t expect him to break camp with the team and I’ll lose a lot of confidence in the FOs ability to construct a roster if there’s a 4-man bench with a catcher they can’t use and a pinch-runner extraordinaire.

    Meanwhile Luis Valbuena, Kelly Johnson, and Stephen Drew are unemployed.

  11. @16 I seriously doubt that the Twins would give away Dozier in a deal where Wisler and/or Blair is the best / highest-ceiling piece they get back in return. Even if Dozier is primed to decline a bit from his 2016 production, he’s still a quality regular on a cheap contract.

    Here’s a better question – what if the Twins asked for Blair + Demeritte? I’m guessing the Braves agonize about it but would say yes.

  12. DOB has weighed on the injury Albies sustained and that the Braves could be thinking that he might not ever recover fully from it. However, it seems to me that DOB no longer has a direct line to the inside news and could’ve burned bridges in that regard dating all the way back to the premature announcement of the Braves signing Ken Griffey Jr.

    Let it be known, Bowman has said nothing aside from positive news and Bowman seems to be a legit insider these days…and also pretty enjoyable to follow on Twitter.

  13. @18 — I don’t know why you would think that. The Braves went out of their way to have a particular player be Swanson’s double-play partner in Mississippi, and it wasn’t Travis Demeritte.

    The only reason I could possibly see for souring on Albies is if his injury is more serious than has been reported. His play on the field and his presence in the clubhouse has been nothing less than sterling.

  14. Boy, what a thunderous smackdown of Alabama and the SEC last night. The ACC throughly dominated the bowl season. Clemson now has 2 more championships than UGA since 1981.

  15. Us ACC fans (go Heels!) know not to look a gift horse in the mouth — we all know if they replayed that game 10 times Alabama wins at least 7 of them. We also know Dabo is an idiot and Clemson wont graduate even 20% of its seniors. Their numbers would look better if they took lessons in academic fraud from us up here in NC :)

    Players for Roy Williams
    Got credits in the billions
    For taking fantasy classes
    With heels stuck in tar or molasses (or up their *****)

  16. As a fan of an SEC school that isn’t Alabama, I found Clemson’s victory last night to be a very welcome breath of fresh air. An entire offseason of “Unbeatable Alabama, best team in college football history” talk would’ve been a freaking death march, as far as I’m concerned. At least we know it’s still possible for somebody to beat those guys.

    Of course, if anyone in the SEC’s gonna do it, they’re gonna have to get a lot better. The SEC was pretty bad this year outside of Alabama, frankly. That this year’s Auburn team was the consensus second-best team in the league doesn’t say much for the level of play in the conference. Nor does the fact that this year’s Florida team was the best team in the Eastern Division.

  17. Agreed about Bama. I am getting tired of the Alabama dynasty, and taking them down a notch is a good thing for the rest of the SEC and college football. The SEC is no longer the best conference in college football, and there are some real duds at the head coaching level in the SEC, so I don’t see that changing any time soon. If the SEC wants the distinction of being the best conference in college football, they need to raise their game. Plus, my Florida is competing for some 4’s and 5’s with Bama, so a Bama loss helps us, methinks.

  18. If you had asked me which is the best conference in CFB before the bowl season, I would’ve said the Big Ten, but then the top two ACC teams obliterated two of the top three Big Ten teams, and the third lost to the second or third best team in PAC-10.

    I think the Big Ten is going to become a monster, with Harbaugh and Meyer, but the ACC with Swinney, Petrino, and Fisher is a serious competitor. The ACC is no longer a basketball conference punchline.

  19. @26: Bama’s been rated as having the best recruiting class about 7 or 8 years running. They’ve made it to three straight CFPs, beating the Gators like a rented mule in two straight SEC championship games. How in the heck does last night’s loss help Florida? Players want to go where they have a chance to play for the CFPNC, and right now the chances at Tuscaloosa > the rest of the SEC.

  20. Plouffe signed with the A’s for year and 5 million plus incentives. Not sure why the Braves wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on something like that unless they think he’s just lost “it”

  21. @30, Yeah, Plouffe could have been this team’s Jim Presley, setting the stage for a glorious 2018 when everything comes together!

    I’m joining the chorus of folks who’d like the citation on DOB suggesting the Braves fear Albies might be damaged for good.

  22. @26

    I agree, there are a bunch of dud HCs in the SEC. Outside of Saban, there is no one I would call top tier. Lots of mediocrity, especially in the East.

    I am not sure I would hire any SEC East coach to manage a McDonald’s.

  23. I did some Google searching last night and didn’t turn up any chatter about Albies potentially having trouble recovering from surgery – then again, I didn’t comb through all of DOB’s twitter feed and it’s certainly possible if he cited some reservations on there I missed the reference. To my understanding, Ozzie is projected to have recovered enough to play ball by Spring Training, so we should know where things stand within a month.

  24. I’m sorry, Ryan, I’m not seeing it. Can you please help?

    Here are his tweets mentioning Albies since November:

    And here are articles on and since November:

    I’m just not seeing anything that suggests a believe that there’s a possibility that Albies will never be the same. I see that they don’t quite know when he’ll be fully recovered, but that’s obviously a completely different thing.

  25. There’s stuff in there about other teams not taking Ozzie in trade after “little dude breaks his elbow on a swing.” But I can’t find DOB himself asserting anything.

  26. To wit:

    “I think people are assuming a lot if they think teams won’t have any questions about Albies, after the little dude broke elbow on a swing”

    “I think #Braves probably have to give up Dansby in package to get Sale, rather than Albies coming off fractured elbow.”

  27. Yes, that sounds like the standard response to an injury: you never know how long recovery will take, and if a guy will be a little gimpy immediately after he returns to the field. But I don’t see anything anywhere that suggests that he won’t be the same guy, other than the standard baseball youneverknow.

  28. The #Braves have acquired minor-league LHPs Luiz Gohara & Thomas Burrows from the Mariners in exchange for Mallex Smith & Shae Simmons

  29. This one I don’t like. Two guys who have major league floors, and tons of team control, for two guys in the low minors. I’m not big on Gohara. He’s like Sean Newcomb, except with less of the good and more of the bad.

    This is just a 40-man roster trade. A step backward on each property, with the only positive being that the new guys don’t require roster spots yet.

  30. I think you guys are misreading the tweets there. I don’t think the concern (relayed via DOB?) from other teams is:

    “Albies broke his elbow swinging, and we fear he might never recover from that injury.”

    I think the concern would be:

    “Uh, dude’s pretty little, and what sort of frailty is at play with a player who can break his elbow SWINGING?”

    The concern would be “if a guy is so frail (i.e. “little guy”) that he can break his elbow doing something so rote as swinging the bat (i.e. “not falling down wrong or anything, but something he has to do thousands of times per season”), then we are concerned he will continue to injure himself in weird, unexpected but problematic ways in the future.

    Basically, they’re worried that he is Nick Johnson in the training room.

  31. I didn’t see it coming, either. Hard to believe that Simmons will ever be healthy again, so it basically looks like Mallex plus a guy with a hamburger shoulder for a lottery ticket lefty and a guy who was a closer at Bama and was a 4th-round draftee in 2016. Burrows grew up in Alabama so I’m sure the Braves have scouting reports going back on him for years — seems like the kind of thing where the Mariners were open to a throw-in and the Braves liked him as a known quantity. But Luiz Gohara is clearly the get, and my guess is that the Braves squinted at Mallex and saw a guy who was blocked in center but didn’t have enough bat for a corner, so they decided to sell high and get a live arm, just like they’ve done with everyone from Tommy La Stella to Kyle Kubitza to the name brands.

    One of these days, it’d be awful nice if one of these live arms showed that he could command a third pitch and stick in a major league rotation, but the deepest farm system of pitchers in baseball just got deeper.

    Good point, @44.

  32. “Tim Raines-light? You mean, Tim Raines-very-light.” Was that Nocahoma? Credit where credit is due, one of my favorite lines of the offseason so far.

  33. @44 – Well first, I think you’re making a distinction without a difference. He hurt himself and DOB is expressing concern over that injury affecting his ability to reach his ceiling. Whether that be because the elbow may never be right again or because there’s something inherently wrong with him isn’t really the point.

    In fact, there is no point. DOB simply said, in so many words, “makes you wonder.” Ans I simply found the only examples I could find of DOB being skeptical on Albies, and even that skepticism is indirect; not “hearing concerns from the club,” or even “hearing concerns from other teams,” but rather “you have to imagine people are concerned.”

    My point in sharing is a) Perhaps this is what stuck out to Ryan and b) if it is, it’s not reflective of team(s) thinking, but rather an imagining of what you couldn’t blame teams for thinking.

  34. Apparently my beloved Braves either didn’t think much of Mallex Smith or just traded away a future borderline HOF for two low A guys one of which looks OK, the other just a guy.

  35. Honestly, what’s the point? I’m obviously being facetious with you all with the Rock Raines comparisons, but Mallex seems to be a contributor, and we just traded him for lottery tickets.

    Gohara obviously looks solid, and will get some action at AA this year, but seriously, what’s the point? It seems like we sold very low on Mallex and Simmons, and while we got high upside in return, it’s potential that hasn’t been tested.

  36. .241 and 5 HR don’t move the meter too much. Defense also matters way less than posters that frequent these forums believe, or that the SABR community contributes.

    If you can’t hit 10 HR playing a full ML season, I have no use for you. And I think the Braves agree.

  37. Interesting trade. I see that jjschiller already brought up the first thing that came to my mind — two open 40-man spots. I also think it speaks to their belief in Peterson and Acuna…but I sure didn’t mind having Mallex around as insurance for everyone.

    Eric Longhenhagen, Keith Law, and JJ Cooper all seem to like Gohara — that’s encouraging.

  38. And nothing has changed in the last week. For 2017 (and beyond) Mallex will be a more valuable player than Markakis. I know we may not have been able to trade Markakis, and that’s the point: he doesn’t have much value. Mallex did, and we just sold low on it.

    I don’t like this trade, and there’s nothing Sam can do to keep me from questioning life in general.

  39. I feel just like I did in 1985 when we traded Milt Thompson to the Phillies. I’m feeling a little verklempt here.

  40. If you can’t hit 10 HR playing a full ML season, I have no use for you. And I think the Braves agree.

    Don’t pull the Braves into your crazy. The Braves won a World Series with Rafael Belliard, and also employed Rafael Furcal, Mark Lemke, Sid Bream, Otis Nixon, Deion Sanders, all of whom didn’t hit more than 10 HRs regular. Such a simple way of looking at things, man.

  41. We have 3 Rule-5 guys on the 40-man. Freeing up two spaces really doesn’t accomplish anything unless they plan on adding pieces that have a legitimate chance of cracking the 25-man. Since the market seems to be flooded with OFs and not much else, who are they going to sign that was worth trading Mallex Smith to free up a place for?

    And while Simmons is not a huge loss, it’s because of his health, and why not just keep the talent until it implodes? Is a 21-year old low-A lefty worth picking up for Simmons (if you parse the trade 1/1 and 1/1).

  42. There are “only” two Rule-5 guys on the roster, and one of them will start the season on the DL, right?

  43. @64 — It doesn’t seem unrealistic that they could still add major league pieces this offseason. They’ve been rumored to be in on all manner of FAs and trade targets. I mean, even if nothing is imminent, it’s not like they’re completely tapped out on cash.

    As for the trade, it gets a big eh from me. I know you need pitching prospects in volume in order to be reasonably certain that enough of them pan out that you can fill a pitching staff with them, but as a fan, collecting yet another not-ready-for-the-majors live arm is exhausting.

    This is closer to Povse/Whalen for Jackson than Smoltz/Alexander, though, I think. The odds that it moves the needle much for either team is pretty small, but either team could easily win the trade. Or it could be a big fat nothing for both sides. I guess we’ll see.

  44. Apparently Keith Law had Gohara #2 overall in the Mariners system.

    @61 – Relative to where I’ve interpreted his market value to be at the moment, I actually think the Braves did very well here. I’ve viewed him as better than that, but regardless, I have a hard time seeing the Braves getting more than a back-end top 100 prospect for Mallex prior to him putting up a full season of Raines/Lofton numbers in the majors…and I don’t believe that was in the cards this year.

    Ender better play 162 though as there’s ne’er a backup CF to be seen in this organization.

  45. It is. Admittedly.

    I guess there are two ways to look at it if you are the traded player. One team wanted me, another didn’t. Out of hundreds of guys in the system.

    My bigger picture deal though is that I don’t believe that defense at the ML level, other than in the most extreme cases, Andrelton to the good, and whoever to the bad, matters very much. And I never will believe it. In tee ball it means A TON. Every level you move up, I think it means less.

  46. Smoltz for Alexander, of course, was a joke. I love me some Mallex, and will continue to cheer for him, but he ain’t no Smoltzy.

    And yes, as a fan, it is troubling to hear that we plan to compete in 2017 (like we heard in 2016), and then we continue to strip (at worst) spare, helpful parts off the 2017 roster. That’s just the fan side that’s no fun.

    I just don’t understand why it wasn’t better for the Braves’ rebuild to find 400 PAs for Mallex this year. We have nothing else better to do than develop young major league talent right now.

  47. If they already felt they knew what they had in Mallex, they probably didn’t see the same value in those 400 exploratory PAs that you do.

    Great news, Rob — Mallex is now headed to Tampa!

  48. @71

    If a team with Ender Inciarte wasn’t good for Mallex, a team with Kiermaier ain’t much better!

  49. I imagine this means aucuna > mallex in the overall scheme of things? i can get behind that.

  50. Acuna was always a better prospect than Mallex, just further away. No real news on that front. If Acuna lives up to his potential and was on the cusp of the majors, Mallex wasn’t standing in his way.

  51. This trade isn’t a bad one, but it isn’t as clear a win to me as some other recent deals. I like Mallex to put up a 20 WAR career (not a 70 WAR career like Raines or Lofton), and that has value. Simmons is a sad story.

    I like this Burrows to be another AJ Minter. Gohara looks to be another high-ceiling starting prospect. My issue with him is that he has weight problems, and those tend to be chronic.

    One other issue is that I don’t think we had to make this deal now. It’s too likely that one of Kemp and Markakis gets flipped or injured, and that would give Mallex a nice chance to build value. He was never in the long-term plans, though, and Peterson and later Acuna are better corner options. Overall, we do deepen a ridiculous stockpile of high-ceiling pitching, so it’s an OK deal.

  52. This appears to be an opportunity to clear roster space, and pick up two good prospects in return. It will be interesting to see if another move follows shortly. Plouffe has siigned. Valbuenas still available.

  53. The Mariners have struck yet another two-deal day, as Seattle has announced the acquisition of lefty Drew Smyly from the Rays. Tampa Bay will pick up center fielder Mallex Smith — who was just added by Seattle — along with infielder Carlos Vargas and lefty Ryan Yarbrough.

  54. Sad to see the Braves traded Mallex; I can only assume that the Braves were really only considering him for CF and once Ender signed his extension, Mallex’s days in a Braves uni were numbered. I have to wonder if the Braves are actually content with Cakes playing out the string in RF, or if they’re crossing their fingers that they can trade him this year and install Dustin Peterson in his place.

    So who plays CF when Ender is hurt or needs a day off? Chase d’Arnaud? Sean Rodriguez? I’m not super comfortable with a situation where the Braves have no viable backup for a guy whose career high in games played in a season is 132. Too bad the Rays already signed Colby Rasmus for 1 year / $5M – he would’ve been a good bet to provide something similar to what we were hoping from Mallex (league average offensive production; ability to play all three OF spots as needed).

    While I’m not a huge fan of this trade specifically, I appreciate that Coppy is rolling the dice on acquiring some high-ceiling talents like Demeritte, Alex Jackson and this Gohara kid.

  55. Guys/gals, I can’t find it either…but it happened and we discussed it on Twitter. I’ll do some more digging.

  56. Reads to me as the actions of a team that is buying in to the symbolic value of a few more wins, even though they won’t sniff the playoffs.

    Could trade Neck or Kemp, whose values are established, to make room for a half-season of Mallex, let him establish his actual level of value, and then flip him.

    But missing Kemp or Markakis might result in a 4th place finish. Its 3rd place or nothing for this Braves club!

  57. @81 — I think you will find that the Braves could not trade Kemp or Markakis regardless of their feelings on either player or how much they wanted to compete, because the market for those kinds of players is absolutely stagnant right now. A team that needed a no-defense veteran who could hit a little could go out and sign one right now for nothing more than money; they’re not thinking Markakis is such a perfect fit that they’re going to give up money and a player for him. And Kemp’s contract is so untradeable that San Diego took a player who was radioactive and had zero chance to provide value just to get out from under it.

    I just think this idea of trading Kemp or Markakis, regardless of what a good baseball move it might be, is a fantasy. No one wants these guys. Unless they get off to a hot start and the Braves eat money, no one will want them. They aren’t going anywhere. It is just not a thing that will happen. The days when you could dump Vernon Wells’s contract and get back Mike Napoli are behind us. You might as well say that if the Braves were really interested in improving, they’d go trade for Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. I mean, okay, that’s probably true, but let’s live in reality, all right?

  58. I think the issue from my perspective isn’t that you can never have a guy in your lineup that hits below 10 home runs? It’s that you can’t have two outfielders who don’t have any power whatsoever at the same time. And they’re both good enough defensively where either one could play center field, but you’re kind of wasting a spot where you could put a bat if you’re putting the other in left field, where you don’t need a great fielder. You need offensive output (and I mean some power), from your outfield as a whole. That means you can use one spot on a defense/speed guy, but having two-thirds of your outfield be that probably isn’t gonna work unless you seriously make up for it somewhere else. And we don’t make up for it somewhere else right now.

    So the issue isn’t that Ozzie Smith is useless because he can’t hit 10 home runs, or whatever the conclusion is if you take Chief’s argument at face value. It’s that you need power to come from somewhere, and we don’t have a ton of it right now.

  59. @84. That was my point in a thread or two ago. If the Braves had any semblance of legit ML power, you could keep someone like Mallex. They don’t. Freddie and Kemp are literally it. So someone like M. Smith, a AAAA player to begin with, has no business on the Braves AS CURRENTLY CONSTITUTED.

    I will say this. I am beginning to worry that the system overall is vastly overrated and this pitching depth that has been accumulated is a mirage.

    I also have a sneaking suspicion that Coppy, through his comments a few months ago is telling you that the brass doesn’t believe in some of those guys, hence why we continue to just stockpile and stockpile. To THEM, they may not be ‘stockpiling’, but ‘piling’.

  60. I really like Seattle flipping Mallex-plus for Smyly.

    The Braves basically saw an opportunity to flip a guy who couldn’t crack their starting lineup for a lefty who can throw 100. I think they figure that roster depth is less valuable to them than it would be to a contender.

    Which may be true. But I still have yet to see how this all adds up to a 25-man roster that wins 90 games some time in the next 3 years.

  61. @87 Develop Gohara and Burrows so they are closer to the majors and use them and others to trade for a difference-maker

  62. @87 — I think my major issue is that even at this late stage, they still have no long-term answers at four positions (and that’s spotting them Albies and the entire pitching staff). If they could somehow convert a couple of pitchers into a catcher or third baseman I’d feel a lot more confident about it.

  63. @89 If you squint hard enough, you can see plausible long-term answers at the Braves’ positions of need:

    C: Alex Jackson
    3B: Ruiz, Demeritte, Riley, Maitan
    LF/RF: D. Peterson, Riley (if not at 3B), Acuna

    Now – I’m not saying these guys are *likely* to be productive regulars, but any of the listed players could be long-term answers for the Braves at positions of need if things break right for them.

  64. Nothing really matters in this rebuild except for the development of at least 3 excellent starting pitchers and at least again that many bullpen arms – if that pans out then it really doesn’t matter who the catcher is (we won with Greg Olson for cryin’ out loud). Catcher is one of those spots were “serviceable” is a better use of funds than “outstanding”. I think we’ll buy the outstanding corner piece(s) if/when the time comes – there’s really not any choice since our system is void of such players.

  65. What it clearly looks like is the players received in the trades in 2014-2015 are in two buckets of wheat and chaff. There’s little wheat (D Peterson, Fried, Folty, Ender, Newcomb) and a lot more chaff (Wisler, Blair, J Peterson, Mallex, Whalen, Gant, Jenkins, Ellis), and they trying to turn the chaff into riskier and riskier players in hopes that they hit big on 12-15 guys in 2018-2020. I’m confident there’s a 95+ win team here by 2018, but this is what I think HAS to happen:

    -2 of Newcomb, Weigel, Fried, Wisler, and Blair have to hit by the end of 2017, meaning they need to be making consistently strong starts in the rotation. And really, if Newcomb doesn’t hit, then you’ve screwed that trade up so bad you were just better off keeping Andrelton if the best you got out of the deal was a dude who couldn’t throw strikes (that’s who he was and still is until proven otherwise).
    -3 or 4 prospects ranging in status have to be traded for 4-6 WAR player. This is very doable considering we already have one of the best farms, and we’ll be getting 3+ more prospects when the three SPs get dealt at the deadline. And we’re now starting to get more elite talent in AA, which is somewhere we hadn’t gotten so far.
    -Dump Markakis, and the monies given to him, Garcia, Dickey, and Colon have to be consolidated and re-allocated to one 5-8 WAR player. It’s not that crazy to think considering someone like Bryce Harper will command the AAV currently allocated to those guys, but the term will obviously be the scariest part.
    -The bullpen gets filled effectively with prospects, retreads, and guys like Jim Johnson.

    You can keep your payroll below $120M, not gut the farm, and have a rotation of, say, Teheran/Folty/Weigel/Fried/Newcomb (in no particular order but someone needs to become a 5+ WAR pitcher), a lineup of Inciarte/Swanson/Freeman/Big Boppin’ Bryce Harper Type/4-6 Traded For Player/Kemp/Flowers-Type/Albies, a pen with 3-4 elite arms, and a decent bench.

    The problem is I don’t know if Atlanta is going to do what it takes to get the two elite players in my scenario.

  66. “It’s tough trading away two players we really liked in ::insert player:: and ::insert player::,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “However, the opportunity to add two talented arms to our system was too good to pass up.”

  67. I’ll go on record that the next 2 Braves to make this top 30 list are not in the organization yet. I’ll not go on record what year that might be.

  68. @86/87

    I agree. I think they have realized they may have whiffed on some arms and are starting over.

  69. They aren’t starting over, they are just trading useless 4th OF depth for a young LHP that throws 100 MPH and might be starting to figure out how to control it. You’d do that trade every day of the week and twice on Sundays, no matter where you are in the win curve.

  70. I still feel it’s too early to give up on Wisler and Blair. Getting knocked around for a year or two does not preclude your being a good major league pitcher. The organization keeps bringing up the Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz rotation as the goal, but Maddux and Smoltz got pounded their first year in the bigs and Glavine had been in the majors for more than three years before turning in an above-average season.

  71. @96

    Starting over may be a stretch, but they don’t seem too confident in what they have above AA.


    I wish they would stop the Glavine and Smoltz comparisons.I am going out on a limb and saying no one in the organization will never be close to as good as Glavine or Smoltz. We won’t even discuss Maddux. Those guys are once a generation. The best we can hope for is another Tim Hudson, which would be awesome.

  72. With a system whose weakness is high-minors position player talent, we traded a perfectly good one, who was also very likeable, so we could employ Nick Markakis, so that’ll be a tough pill to swallow for a while. But with that said, Gohara is a solid get, and it speaks well to our system that he was #3 in Seattle’s system, and he now slides into #12 in ours. And he’ll hit AA this year, which is farther along than the three draftees, Allard, and Soroka. And with the lottery ticket’s age, he could advance quickly through the system. So, whatever. I think the biggest thing is the fatigue of waiting for these pitching prospects to hit, but if Newcomb, Blair, and Wisler have sub-3 ERAs with solid periphs in AAA in May, that’ll feel a lot better.

  73. My first reaction to this deal is that this will leave us with no outfield depth. Howevee, I think it may indicate that we think Dustin Peterson is close to being ready and has more upside than Mallex. Who’s our likely backup center fielder now? Rodriguez? Francoeur?

  74. Godsakes nobody is comparing Blair to Maddux. The point is that EVEN Maddux got hit hard his first year, so naturally lesser pitchers (like Blair) might routinely need a year or more to have success.

    This is obvious, but it’s a lot more enticing to pretend that whoever is comparing Blair to Maddux bc lolomgsodumbsmdh

  75. @105 — wonferful .. another pitcher with a question about a shoulder or elbow …. how many Toomy John guys have we signed ??? This kid from Seattle looks like a arm injury waiting to happen throws 97-100 … already questions about shoulder .. we gave up Mallex Smith who just needed a season to get ready for 2018 .. speedy and can steal bases , play the outfield .. did make some stupid base running mistakes but was aggressive .. liked that .. maybe they see Acuna coming up and being better .. ????

  76. @104 — I just find Coppolella’s tough talk about how “tryouts are over” and how pitchers “need to keep an eye behind them” to be absolutely laughable. If he’s going to label every pitcher who isn’t an ace on day one to be a failure, he’s setting himself up for a long career of disappointment, whether it’s Wisler and Blair, Allard and Fried, or Anderson and Wentz. Young pitchers need time to develop. They need to take their lumps and be given the opportunity to learn from it. If you’re going to build around them, you need to understand that, and not pitch a fit in the media every time one of them isn’t a serviceable major league starter the day you call them up.

  77. @107 I’d say the Braves’ rotation setup is actually pretty good as far as the young guys go – Folty showed the most MLB success in 2016, so he’ll start in the 2017 rotation with Collmenter as the long relief / #6 starter. The other promising pitchers in the high minors (Wisler, Blair, Newk, Sims, Weigel) should know that they’ll get a chance in the majors this year if they show they’ve solved minor league hitters.

    Neither Wisler nor Blair showed real success at AAA before being called up to the majors, and they both pitched worse than that once called up to the majors. I think what Coppy is saying now is that “the MLB rotation is full until you force your way onto it”.

    @100 If Wisler, Blair *and* Newk all have sub-3 ERAs w/ solid peripherals by May, that would be amazing (but unlikely). With their MLB experience from last year I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Wisler and Blair do quite well at AAA. Newk, on the other hand, hasn’t shown an ability (at any level of the minors) to keep his walks under control. If he can do so for the first time at AAA that would be a huge deal considering command/control is his only real weakness.

    @106 Gohara finished the season looking healthy and strong, and he passed the Braves’ medical exam. It’s a bit concerning that the Reds turned down the opportunity to acquire Gohara mid-season 2016 (in exchange for Zack Cozart) but I have to assume the Braves’ medical staff did their due diligence. Also, I’ve seen video of Gohara and his delivery looks nice and smooth.

  78. You guys are wetting yourselves again. Stop and reel it back in and try thinking for a moment.

    The plan has always been to compete at least nominally in the new stadium. To do that, they needed at least 3, if not 4 young starters to pan out quickly. That didn’t happen, so they flipped some of them and brought in stop gaps.

    The plan has always been to build a farm system with “waves” rather than “windows,” one that constantly has new talent percolating up from the low minors to push (or be traded for) ML talent when it gets old or expensive (or both.) The Smith/Simmons deal does that, while clearing 40 man roster crunch.

    Going forward, you should expect more of this. This is the plan. This is the strategy. Stockpile prospects (Done.) Promote the ones that are likely to contribute significantly at the ML level. (Done; Inciarte, Swanson, Folty…) Move secondary pieces with limited value for lower level prospects to keep the pipeline full going forward. (This is the Smith trade in a nutshell.) Sign ML players to fill needs, or trade redundant prospects for ML talent to fill holes that you don’t have farm assets ready to help with. (This is the Bartolo/RA Dickey/Jaime Garcia move.)

  79. Also, trade Neck somewhere for something, then sign Joey Bats to a one year bounce back deal. (Two max.)

  80. More or less what Sam said.

    Once again, you can’t just sit back and say, “Well, we’ve stocked the farms system. Now, we play the waiting game.” That’s a very good way to look up in five years and still be a mediocre to bad baseball team. Some of these guys haven’t worked out quite as well as hoped so far? Fine. Now is not the time to decide that you have no choice but to wait it out.

    This is my least favorite part about the simplified “tanking” philosophy that everyone seems to love now across all sports. (Hell, I’m pretty sure there are people who think that every NBA team other than the Warriors and Cavs would be better off tanking, never mind the simple math problem that creates.) You can’t just wait for stuff to happen after the initial tear-down and young talent influx. You can’t just sit there and hope that the guys you have are going to be good enough. You keep making deals, keep churning the system. Eventually, you either come across a deal that will make you much better or a set of prospects develop that will make you much better. But crying about spilled milk is not what you want to do. And Mallex Smith and Aaron Blair are looking very much like spilled milk.

    @87, Alex said he doesn’t see how this team will be able to win 90 games in one of the next three years. Well, the answer to that is that this team, as currently constituted, has no chance of winning 90 games…ever. So you keep with the plan and you keep churning the system…and you trade anybody you have to to get a team in here that will be able to win 90 games. And if you keep restocking the farm system, then you’re able to make these trades without it ruining the system.

  81. I think this team will be improved over last year’s team, but not by much and it will be very unlikely to compete for a playoff spot. My enjoyment of the team comes through my general joy of watching baseball, and the guys wearing Atlanta jerseys in particular, and keeping an eye on the minors and what they’re up to on a day-to-day basis. I genuinely feel bad for people that need this team to compete in order to engage (no sarcasm), but I got over that in 2015.

    I’m in agreement with others about the methodology being used by the front office. I think I remarked last year that Coppy’s trading style is similar to the proverbial guy who starts out with a packet of gum and 25 trades later has a Rolls Royce in his driveway. To get that Rolls in the driveway requires constant incremental improvement. And along the way, you acquire some really nice stuff that would be tempting to just stop and enjoy…but the only thing that matters to all your neighbors is that Rolls in the driveway and so you can’t really stop until you have that.

    I’ll miss Mallex, not only because he seemed plenty capable and likable, but Mallex Smith is one of the best baseball names I’ve heard in quite a while. But he’s exactly the kind of personnel that is part of the process and not much more.

  82. If you finish last enough you’ll eventually luck into drafting a few really good ones. The drafts for this rebuild just started – we’ve had…two? three? I guess it depends on when you want to start the rebuild clock…but still, it’s very early. We have 7 or 8 years left on the 10-year plan.

  83. Oh, c’mon. Best farm system in baseball. Just need a few of these pitchers to hit in 2017. Minter will hit. I’m sure of that. I love Mallex, of course, but it’s just Mallex. No big deal.

  84. Mallex was a great name.

    I seriously doubt Liberty Media has a 7-8 year time frame for a rebuild. With the addition of a third division and two wild card slots, they shouldn’t.

    Even the horrible Braves of the ’80’s managed to get straightened out in 7 years (assuming 1984 as the starting point).

    Atlanta was spoiled by having the Glavine, Smoltz, Maddox trio on the mound. Most multi-year champions have one or two star pitchers for the duration of their run. (The Orioles trio of Palmer, Cuellar and Dobson lasted only a short period, and this was pre-Free Agency).

  85. There’s 2 years in the books on the rebuild. If the team finishes above .500, do you call it done or is it not done until they win the division again?

  86. If the goal was .500 then they shouldn’t have torn it apart in the first place. Making the playoffs is the goal.

  87. I think the rebuild is “done” when we are in a position to contend for multiple years. If we fluke our way into an 86-win wild card season in 2017, we could easily fall back below .500 the next season. We won’t sustain contention until multiple young pitchers push into our rotation for good.

  88. In the age of three divisions and two wild cards per league, I feel a rebuild that goes for longer than five years is indicative of mismanagement, and that’s if you are starting at zero — no major league assets, no minor league assets, lots of dead money. You should really be looking at competing after about three or four years.

  89. I would support flipping Gohara (plus others) for Quintana; I suspect the White Sox would still demand Albies or Swanson be included though at which point the Braves say no.

  90. The minute they start to trade prospects for current proven talent – *that’s* when the rebuild ends. I’m curious to see how much rope they have before we finally reach that point.

  91. They always ask for Swanson, which is equivalent to not taking the call in the first place.

  92. 1) I would trade Albies and Gohara for Quintana right now.

    2) We are 2 years into the rebuild and musing about when it will ever end? Everything is going swimmingly so far. All the low ceiling pitching that “haven’t panned out” were spare parts we got for Kelly Johnson or throw-ins. They were fifth starters or middle relief guys. They’ve been mostly repackaged for higher upside, riskier talent. Obviously, I’ve been a fan of that strategy. The one truly disappointing player to date is Wisler, and he may turn out yet. The one clear mistake was Olivera, and that was a whopper. I just hope we don’t look back and see we compounded it by turning it into a Kempbatross. I still think 2019 is the year we make the playoffs, but a couple of unexpected helium pitchers or a trade for Quintana could accelerate that by a year.

  93. 1) Most people would. The White Sox wouldn’t. Did you see the package they asked for from the Astros? It’s quite a bit richer than the “two top prospects, whatever” type of deal fans like to propose.

    2) Wisler and Blair were both believed to have 2-3 starter upside. Blair may have been the third-most-important player in the Miller deal, but he was hardly a lottery ticket; he was a top 50 prospect in his own right. He’s not on the same level as a Tyrell Jenkins or a John Gant.

  94. Patience would be easier if we didn’t intentionally tank two seasons, and if we’d stop making the mlb roster the retirement home for anyone from Georgia that’s ever played pro ball.

  95. I’d like Bautista too, but Coppy’ll never give up the draft pick.

    Longenhagen seems pretty high on Gohara…as in top 50 prospect high.

    Part of me wonders if we just bide our time the next two years while last year’s Rome rotation matures and then pay Machado $40 million a season. The best FA next year I could see the Braves being interested in: Lucroy, Moustakas, Cain, Frazier, JD Martinez, JUpton, etc generally seemed to have already peaked as players. In other words, there’s no one on that list I would feel great about giving a 5 year deal.

  96. The nature of FA’s is that most of them are going to be past their prime. I think we’re going to have to make a trade to get the kind of hitter I’d like to commit to.

    It concerns me that we are supposed to have all these pitchers, but we are still focused on trading for someone like Sale, Archer, Quintana, when we have such glaring weaknesses in the field. I’m optimistic that Peterson will be a suitable replacement for Kemp, but even if we agree to carry a dud catcher we will have big holes in RF and 3B and Riley, Acuna, and Maitan are exciting, but far from sure things.

  97. 128—This may be picking nits, but I don’t think anyone realistically viewed Wisler and Blair as having #2 starter upside. More like 3-4…which isn’t to say that they haven’t both been disappointing. Like many, I still have hope for Wisler…

  98. @Stu
    Agree with this…in fact, if you look at the prospect analysts outside the org, Braves still don’t have a single pitcher in the organization that is being projected as “ace” material right now. Wisler and Blair were always mid-rotation guys from outsider’s perspectives.

    Anyone else think Coppy is loading up top end prospects to give Twins, White Sox, and Rays a plethora of options?

  99. I wouldn’t worry too much about not having an “ace” in the system. There may only be 10 true ace pitchers in all of baseball. If we had 5 #2 starters in the rotation that would be just fine.

  100. I think we’re loading up on prospects with the hopes that several actually turn out to play for us. Trading the ones we don’t want for top-10 players has always been fantasy-land imho.

  101. Bowman says that Bonifacio has a chance to make the roster over D’Arnaud. LOL. Can we bring back KJ now?

  102. @132 — It took me maybe twenty seconds to look up Sickels’s pre-2016 list, which ranks Blair third behind Swanson and Newcomb and declares him a potential number three starter. MLB Pipeline has already removed players who have lost rookie eligibility but my memory says that they essentially concurred.

    This time last year, no one was disparaging Blair as a back end starter type. He was perceived to have — and still has, in my view — genuine upside, beyond being roster filler or a trade throw-in. One bad season — in which, let’s remember, the Braves rushed him because the major league team was a tire fire and then proceeded to bounce him around for the entire season — hurts his trade value, but doesn’t really change my evaluation of his future.

    Again, guys who come up and are immediately weapons are the exception, not the rule. I don’t think the Braves’ organizational philosophy regarding young pitching should be “Kick ass immediately, or we’re replacing you with Josh Collmenter or R.A. Dickey.” They’ll never develop a pitcher with that approach.

  103. It’s all about perspective too. Blair and Wisler had a strong end to the season. A good friend, a Detroit fan, went to the 3 game set to end the season, and watched Aaron Blair go 7 strong with 10 K’s, and if you asked him, he’d think Blair still could be pretty good. Who knows, and I’m ready to see 15 SP prospects pitch, but the season just won’t start!

  104. I’m not ready to write off either Blair or Wisler, either. Blair generates tons of ground balls with a respectable K-rate; he could well turn into a Russ Ortiz type and succeed for a number of years that way. Wisler, for his part, needs to find a way to either miss more bats or allow fewer flyballs. He had stellar walk rates all through the minors, so I like his chances of blossoming if he can improve his K rate and/or GB rate.

    While I’m happy that Blair pitched such a great game in the Detroit set to end 2016, I really wish the Braves hadn’t gone out with such a bang. IIRC, that win in Game 162 shifted the Braves from 2nd draft pick to 5th draft pick.

    Also, as previously stated, I really don’t think that Wisler/Blair et al. are going to get the message that they failed their 2016 auditions and are now persona non grata in Atlanta – after all, Colon, Dickey, Garcia and even Collmenter are only signed for 2017.
    If anything, that setup is very clearly inviting Wisler and Blair to pitch their way back to the majors by the end of 2017.

  105. It took me maybe twenty seconds to look up Sickels’s pre-2016 list, which ranks Blair third behind Swanson and Newcomb and declares him a potential number three starter. MLB Pipeline has already removed players who have lost rookie eligibility but my memory says that they essentially concurred.

    …which means that my memory (not a #2) was correct, as far as Sickels is concerned, right?

    I haven’t given up on anyone. I was only disputing the idea that either of those guys was ever (as Braves prospects, anyway) thought of as more than a potential mid-rotation guy.

  106. The Braves just got 40-man casualty Micah Johnson from the Dodgers for nothing (PTBNL or cash), which is interesting. Utilty type and, IIRC, was one of the White Sox prospects acquired by the Dodgers when they sent Peraza to the Reds.

  107. Wonder if they’re thinking backup CF? Can’t hit at all really, but especially bad against LHP.

    “Micah Johnson, 2B (video), 1.8 KATOH+ – Johnson turns 26 in December and still doesn’t have the power to play at any defensive position he’s capable of competently manning regular basis. The Dodgers had him working at various positions in Triple-A this year, but he can’t play shortstop so it’s not an obvious utility profile. He can absolutely fly and hits right-handed pitching a little bit, so if he can develop enough feel for center field to be passable there then he could essentially be a fourth outfielder who can also play second base.”

  108. Micah Johnson looks like he’s got the basic Mallex Smith skillset, but he can’t hit as well or run quite as fast. He was basically free and is near his theoretical prime age (just turned 26), looks like he’s worth a roll of the dice.

  109. The GIF shows that Betty can dial it up to 94 MPH. Good for him. So perhaps he becomes a reliever who can also catch or play the outfield in a pinch.

    I wonder if the Rangers will ever use Matt Bush in the field. It would seem these guys are pretty valuable considering how Maddon used Travis Wood in the outfield during important parts of games.

  110. Reading more about Micah Johnson, I think I’m coming around. If the goal for Mallex was a 4th OF, then this guy works just fine, especially getting hacks against righties in LF and 3B. If he and d’Arnaud make the Opening Day roster, this is how our versatile our bench/platoon guys are:

    Jace – 2B, CF
    Rodriguez – 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF
    Johnson – CF, LF, 2B
    Adonis – 3B, LF (in theory)
    d’Arnaud – 2B, SS, 3B, CF, LF, RF

    If we sign KJ, he can obviously play 2B, LF. At any one time, we should have at least two guys on the bench that can play OF, so as long as we get an OF who is an above average hitter (not Jeffy), then we should roll with versatility if we have a 4-man bench. I like it.

  111. I suspect d’Arnaud and Rodriguez will be the primary backups at SS until Albies is in the Majors.

  112. This sounds basic which I admittedly am more of a big picture, small ideas kind of baseball guy, but what will signal to you that the Braves have stopped the ‘rebuild’ or whatever you are calling whatever we are doing and are actually trying to compete for the division.

    IOW, what concrete steps or things will signal to you that things have changed?

    For me, its when prospects (suspects) begin to be packaged for established major leaguers that have accumulated greater than 1-2 WAR in their prior season. Say a 3.1 WAR player, etc.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts. And I’m serious, no sarcasm, etc.

  113. There must be a German word for “the confusion of emotions when your favorite team wins despite long history of choking.” #falcons

  114. There very well may never be a good reason to trade Kolby Allard for Manny Machado. If the Braves win the division without having traded any good prospects away, you’ll feel the rebuild is not over?

    The idea that a rebuild culminates in trying to win is contradictory. If your end goal was just to try to win, you could have just kept on trying. But calculations were made that continued “trying” wouldn’t lead to enough winning.

    A rebuild, by its nature, involves deprioritizing winning now in order to win even more later. The rebuild is complete when we start winning.

    When we finish 1st or 2nd in the division, we will have been “rebuilt.”

    The 1991 and 1992 Braves were rebuilt. They didn’t “finish rebuilding” by signing Greg Maddux, they improved a winning team.

  115. Yeah, the rebuild is over when winning resumes. Winning, to me, is defined by making the playoffs, which is similar to jjschiller’s “1st or 2nd in the division” line.

    How we get there from here is what seems to be the question. In some fashion, I think we’re up to about 20-22 players that would be a part of a playoff team (albeit in different roles for some). So, of course, the three ways we could get those 3-5 players is by waiting for players to hopefully develop quickly, package prospects for trades, or sign FAs. To that, the answer is probably “all of the above”. I think you’ll see some prospects step up, a Justin Upton-type trade, and a FA signing that is not a high elite talent.

  116. Relative to how they went about it, the rebuild will be over for me when we can go into a season with a reasonable expectiation of at least 15 WAR from the starting rotation. Based upon 2017 projections, that would equate to a top 10 rotation.

  117. The rebuild is over for me when we finish with a .500 record and are optimistic about next year.

    You know we are in a rebuild when we are still talking about flipping guys at the deadline.

  118. Looks like I started another argument by saying the pitchers who haven’t panned out were fifth starter types. I wasn’t even thinking of Blair in that group. I was talking about the pitchers we’ve sent packing like Whalen and Jenkins. It’s true, Blair was a 50-something prospect when we got him and a mid-rotation projection. He got pounded for us a couple of times, but to me, he still has a mid-rotation ceiling. The point is, the rebuild was never contingent on Whalen, Jenkins, Gant, or Ellis panning out. We’re still doing pretty well with this project.

    Go Falcons! The O/U was 60, I heard. Yes, take the over.

  119. I think, with all of the trades, it’s hard to parse out the filler pieces that were collected from scrap players or secondary pieces of trades (Whalen, Jenkins, Gant, Ellis, Withrow, and Touki). Even Vizcaino falls into that bucket (we sent Tommy La Stella). It’s hard to say if Fried is part of that group considering we also received Jace, Dustin Peterson, and Mallex in the same deal, and Blair is tricky too. But Coppy has to have Newcomb, Fried, Blair, or Wisler succeeding in Atlanta in 2017, or you have to think he’s done a poor job on his goal. His goal was to put young pitchers in the rotation, and if we sit two full years, a dozen pitching prospects in, and he’s got nothing, then that has to be considered a failure.

  120. Over/under opened at 58.5 and was bet up to 60.5 in minutes. I’d take the over at 60.5. I’m thinking something like 42-38.

  121. I don’t think you will ever see this FO stop making “reload” type trades – trading away lower-ceiling MLB or near-MLB players for higher risk/reward prospects. It’s in their DNA. Even when they are competitive, I think you’ll see scenarios like Mallex-for-prospects/pick-up-Micah-Johnson type deals.

    Re: the rebuild timeline, didn’t someone here say it’d be 10 years before the Braves were competitive again? I’ll take the under.

  122. That someone is such a dumbass. But you do need to define “competitive” first. I mean we were competitive last September, and that’s good enough for a lot of folks here.

  123. The Braves were not competitive by any definition at any point last season. They played good ball to finish it off, but at no point were they even the remotest possibility to make the playoffs.

    Finishing with the fifth-worst record in the league isn’t “good enough” for anyone.

  124. To me, competitive is late-September games with a shot to get into the playoffs. Even if you miss the playoffs by a game or two, if you’re in the race until the very end, that is competitive.

    Of course, “competitive” is just a stop along the way to “championship-caliber,” which is where I think we all want to be.

    By these definitions, I feel pretty confident in being competitive by 2018 (which would mean the rebuild was 3 seasons), but no idea about when the team will be championship caliber again.

  125. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a starting catcher or 3rd baseman. With Flowers’ horrible caught stealing numbers, I find it hard to believe that we rely on him and Recker all year if we really want to be competitive in 2017. I think we’ll look to make a move before the season starts.

    Since 2017 is our first year in the new ballpark, I think we’ll do everything possible without spending a lot of money or giving up too many prospects to make this a fun team and a 75 or so win team.

  126. @170 – I still say we will go hard after a catcher before the season starts. I think the Braves value defense in a catcher more than most and I just don’t see the total package with Flowers.

  127. There’s enough of a logjam with all of the power on the market that I don’t think a lot happens with some of the lesser players (like Wieters) until that gets all broken up. Since Bautista looks like he’s been signed, hopefully a team will grab Trumbo, and things will start moving again. I still think Wieters is not a great fit for our team, but he’s definitely better than Recker. And the closer we get to ST, the more likely he takes a one-year with an option or a two-year deal. Everyone else, aside from the obviously ignored Valbuena, is pretty unappealing.

  128. Coppy’s still shopping and I wouldn’t put it past him to pull of a Quintana/Frazier type deal w/o giving up Albies. Withhold judgment until Opening Day roster is set, then judge away.

  129. Coppolella confirmed in an interview with Fangraphs that Alex Jackson will indeed be moving back behind the plate next season; that Jackson was extremely receptive to and enthusiastic about the idea and that he’s currently getting special instruction on playing the position from a guy who has experience converting guys to catcher. Given that one of the issues Jackson had in Seattle was a lack of motivation, that bodes well… if he hits.

  130. @175 Just read that Fangraphs article – great to hear that the Braves already have Alex Jackson working with a special instructor to get him up to speed on catching. I always wondered how much structured work went on with prospects/players in the off season, and here’s a concrete example of that process. Alex even posted a photo on Twitter a week ago showing some of his baseball gear (including a catcher’s mitt).

    If Alex can stick at catcher at AA this year and put up a decent line at the plate (say a .750 OPS) he’d likely become a big part of the Braves’ 2018 plans.

  131. A whole lot of young’uns have already reported to Orlando including Albies, Pache, Cruz, and Severino. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this happening so early.

  132. (Upon review, I see that Alex Jackson was in low-A for the second consecutive season in 2016 – if he could make it to AA by some point in 2017 that would be quite a successful year and not something we should necessarily expect.)

  133. Seattle expected Jackson to push through the system quickly based on their evaluation of his tools. It wouldn’t surprise me if he started at high-A and was in AA by the end of the year. He’ll also have an opportunity for postseason play considering how good high-A and AA’s teams are looking. The nice thing about our farm system being so good is that it’s giving our guys lots of playoff reps. It’s encouraging to see that he’s going to be catching. That seems to be a win for all parties.

    Going forward, the Braves now have three catchers in the low minors fighting for spots. I would guess Cumberland repeats rookie, Herbert repeats low-A, Jackson at high-A, and whoever advances leaves an open spot behind them for the next guy. If Cumberland hits the way he was projected, and Herbert continues to struggle the way some reports suggest he may, then Cumberland may take ABs from Herbert in low-A.

    So realistically, there will be two teams within 20 minutes of me that will bring the Fire Frogs to town, which will have Jackson behind the dish, Fried/Touki/Soroka/Gohara/Allard in the rotation, Anfernee Seymour at SS, and Acuna potentially in CF. Schwing!

  134. Cumberland turns 22 next June. I can’t imagine he doesn’t start out at Rome. My guess he and Herbert split reps between catching and DH.

  135. @179 – Same boat. I’ve got the Fort Myers Miracle and the Charlotte Stone Crabs within a 40 minute drive. Waiting anxiously for the schedule!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.