Kasserine Pass: Diamondbacks 10, Braves 2

Richard Pryor had a saying “When you get your ass kicked, you know you made it.” Yep.

Kasserine Pass is in the desert mountains of western Tunisia. So, setting “check.” When the desert is so harsh that you can spend almost unlimited funds to grow grass and it looks like a worn out Astro Turf doormat, then that must be a desert.

Getting walloped hard. “Check.” Whether it is from tanks and half tracks or from baseballs flying by, depending on your defensive context, that is actually pretty similar.

Bad decision making under pressure. “Check.” R A Dickey was due for a bad one. But, what is the deal with Matt Wisler? Mr. AAAA himself. Good in Gwinnett and move over 2 counties and it all goes to crap.

Sean Rodriguez homered. So, maybe he is back to where he is ready to play. I know he wasn’t when he was brought up.

Jaime Garcia, you are a lucky one. You don’t have to be around this incompetence any more. You may get to discover new incompetence, but not this incompetence.

117 thoughts on “Kasserine Pass: Diamondbacks 10, Braves 2”

  1. So after the aborted Burdi deal and “expanding the discussions to include many other teams,” we gave Garcia away in a salary dump. Huascar Ynoa — the second coming of Jim Panther (Atlanta’s first ever salary dump).

  2. Injured Burdi is not more valuable than Ynoa. I’d say they’re very comparable. So the fact that they got a comparable guy and offloaded more salary than they were going to in the Burdi deal does indicate that the bidding for Garcia’s services had gone up.

  3. To that point MLB just updated the Twins top 30 and Burdi comes in at #28.

    Klaw calls the deal a win-win and lists ATL as the top farm system even after all of the ChiSox trades.

  4. As a continuation of the last thread, my cynicism is rooted in the fact I’m not convinced that this was a foree into more, better deals, etc. I think its just Liberty being perpetually cheap arses.

  5. @4

    I think it is an effort to make another deal. Doesn’t mean it will happen though.

    I still believe Sonny Gray is a Brave by tomorrow.

  6. Basically we paid about $7M to rent Garcia and turn him into Ynoa. $12.5M to rent Colon and turn him into nothing. $8M to rent Dickey, and while the jury is still out on if we can mitigate his cost with some type of return at the deadline, it most likely won’t be much.

    So $30M spent and we got a half season of mostly bad pitching and a 19 year old flyer prospect. I would like to take the FO’s credit card away. For a franchise whose budget is constrained, they sure don’t know how to use what they have.

  7. They tried something and it didn’t work out. You could even argue that it failed about as badly as anyone could have predicted. The silver lining is that we didn’t give up anything but money.

    But I don’t want to hear a bunch of platitudes about Coppy being so smart and creating payroll and roster flexibility. Wiggling out of self-made messes is a damn near constant refrain with this org.

  8. @7 IMO it is a product of our continual “one toe in, one toe out” mindset. They don’t want to ‘try to actually win’ they just have wanted to not be terrible.

    I’ll assent to the fact that tanking or just being terrible is a better strategy by far in the NBA and NFL, but I do believe we’d have been better off just taking two years and saying to the fans, please stick with us, its going to be very rough but this is the plan.

    This race to .490 ball stuff is maddening.

    I thought the move to STP was supposed to generate retail and office revenue etc such that the franchise could begin to spend. While I know that pro formae and business plans aren’t executed in half a year, my fear is that was all a bunch of hooey and that all that money (if it materializes) will just go into the Liberty pockets, etc.

  9. I suppose the counter argument is that the FO was essentially buying a bridge to when the young pitching would be ready. Could we have identified better pitchers? Sure Cahill perfomed well for SD for 1.75 mill, Nova looks really good at 3/$28 mil and even Hill though he’s injury-prone for 3/$48 mill looks reasonable, but those were pretty much the only other options short of going all in on a trade for an ace.

    It didn’t work out but we also haven’t mortgaged the future or tied our hands with bad contracts.

  10. @10, they do open up the checkbooks every once in a while. It just never ends well for them. Everyone in the FO should have been replaced when we decided to blow up the team. Instead we get the guys that brought you Mudge and Olivera running the rebuild. I can’t get on board with that.

    @11, we have at least 4 in house SP options for 2017. They might have all sucked, but they would’ve sucked for the minimum. And maybe one or two gain valuable experience on the road to not sucking. We’ll never know.

  11. Thanks for the recap, cliff.

    I’d rather we not exhaust our farm system for either Verlander or Gray. All pitchers are a gamble, even Kershaw and MadBum. There’s not a sure thing to be had, and the asking price is steep. We’re not ready to fly flags yet, so why gut our system.

  12. @13 – This characterizes my feelings on the subject perfectly. Whatever advantage you give to “proven major league starter” over a young, unproven starter is at least partially negated by however many innings closer to Tommy John or shoulder surgery the proven guy is.

    Gray is under control through the end of 19, right?

    If you give up 4 guys who you’d control for 6 years each, even if just two if them end up worth keeping for those 6 years, and Sonny Gray goes down with Tommy John in June of 18.. that’s franchise altering.

    That’s why it’s so much preferred to just buy the pitching with money. The money is insured. No insurance company can give you back 6 years of above-average second base performance.

    At the VERY least, can’t we buy it with pitching instead of with hitting? At least then we give away some risk to go with the risk we acquire.

  13. @13, @15, I don’t actually think we’ll trade any premium hitting prospects for pitching. The Sonny Gray and Verlander stuff is just fan-service. (I hope!)

    We have to trade some of the pitching though, before the prospect expiration date expires and they start to smell funny.

  14. The latest research on $/WAR for free agents has 1 WAR at ~$10.5M last offseason. At those rates, Garcia and Dickey have been worth their contracts. Too bad Bartolo was a bust (though, as Dusty points out, a 1-year bust doesn’t put us in a hole going forward).

    Good pitching is expensive, whether you pay in money or prospects.

  15. @21 Would you trade Inciarte + a pitching prospect (Soroka or Weigel) for Gray and promote Acuna, now?

  16. Oh wonderful. Acuna plus for a less than ace with a history of breaking down. May we have two please?

  17. I could see Pache, Ynoa, Allard and Muller for Gray, maybe replace Muller with Ventura if the A’s prefer CFers. That’s a reasonable deal, though I’m not sure Gray is the right target as others have mentioned. Fullmer or Stroman better targets.

  18. What the hell is wrong with everyone? We’re not trading (or we at least shouldn’t) for Sonny Gray or Verlander or whoever. This team is like 15 pieces away from being a decent team, not one. All this is the same messaging nonsense this regime has engaged in since the day Wren was fired about their parallel paths… It’s not real, they aren’t trying to actually win anything they’re trying to act like they’re trying to win something. Whatever success they’ve had at that this year has been due to fluky performances from a few guys and a ridiculously easy schedule, but they’re still going to lose 90 games this year whether they trade for Gray or not.

    If they actually had stuck by a real rebuilding plan they might have a better chance at accelerating their time line but by cutting corners the entire way in order to try and make 15-19 not look as terrible they have only exacerbated the problem.

  19. We’re just talking about the talking points. I don’t think anyone seriously thinks we’ll trade good value for Gray.

    Verlander is more interesting because he’s somewhere in the “its-only-money” category. I still don’t think the Tigers would give him up without getting decent prospects, but who knows…that one is at least worth a look.

  20. “I suppose the counter argument is that the FO was essentially buying a bridge to when the young pitching would be ready.”

    Not the only time the organization has misjudged the cost of a bridge recently.

  21. Re: Camargo as the new Prado

    Prado’s first long taste of the big leagues was in 2008. In 254 plate appearances he walked 21 times and struck out 29 times.

    We are 150 PA’s into the Johan Camargo era. Coop’s right about his hitting an astounding number of doubles, but they’ve come alongside 32 strikeouts and only 3 walks. Maybe the guy gets to the end of August under the radar. Maybe. But pretty soon pitchers aren’t going to have any reason to give him a good look at anything. Wish I could see a better future for a guy who’s doing all the right things so far. He just isn’t a major league hitter.

  22. 28 Nice one

    Yeah it’s just speculating on what a trade might look like. It feels to me like my scenario in 24 is too much, I’d rather replace Allard with a Wentz or similar, but it’s also possbile the A’s would think it too light as Allard would be the only top 100 player in the deal.

  23. Sonny Gray (career): 7.7 K/9, 2.87 BB/9, 54.3% GB, 3.45 ERA
    Contract – 17: $3.575M, 18: Arb2, 19: Arb3

    Julio Teheran (career): 7.64 K/9, 2.54 BB/9, 37.7% GB, 3.54 ERA
    Contract – 17:$6.3M, 18:$8M, 19:$11MM, 20:$12M club option ($1M buyout)

    As between Julio and Sonny, I would probably take Sonny all things considered – very similar K and BB rates for the two, but Sonny has a far superior GB% which would play better at Suntrust Park than Julio’s flyballing ways. Julio costs $1-$2M more than Sonny yearly through 2019, but also has a $12M team option for 2020 which is below market price and is thus a valuable asset.

    If I’m Coppy I’d be willing to structure some deals to acquire Gray and sell Julio but only if I judged that I wouldn’t be losing too much farm talent overall. Sonny is a fine pitcher but he’s not a #1.

  24. 32—I agree completely. I (predictably) love Sonny, but he’s not worth Albies or a package that includes both Pache and Allard, etc. Not to this organization; not at this juncture.

  25. @26

    I actually think we are 3-5 pieces away from being really good.

    We need a top level starter, a third baseman (if we don’t leave Freddie there) a bench bat and a couple of relievers. Possibly a catcher.

    The pen and the bench are pretty easy to address in the off season and possibly internally.

    I think between now and the spring we are going after a top of the rotation starter and will go after a big bat somewhere. This team should compete for a playoff spot next year. No excuses.

    Honestly, if Colon had been decent and Coppy had done a better job with the bench and the pen, we would be in contention now. Hell, if he had just gone after better bench bats we would might be in the hunt now.

  26. 34—Still more than I’d be in favor of giving up, given the Braves’ place on the win curve…but I could probably talk myself into that one. It is Sonny…

  27. @35, we need to replace both corner OF’ers. The competitive window opens when that happens. Until then we’ll be below .500.

  28. Andrelton Simmons is having the best season of his career.

    .292/.340/.450, 13 steals, 11 HR, 113 OPS+, leads the league in dWAR.

    So is Alex Wood, you could argue Kimbrel is back to the form of 2012-2013 as well. A thing that would have helped make the Braves competitive in 2018 was not trading those guys.

  29. @38, This is something we don’t talk about enough on here. Almost impossible to seriously contend next year if we’re paying $21M for Matt Kemp to be a statue and ground into double plays, and Markakis $11M as a sub-replacement-level player. That’s a third of the payroll right there.

    I don’t envy the front office at all. The franchise is in a good position, but there are about a million different paths they could take at this point, and all of them seem equally risky. My instinct says, sit on the prospects we suffered to much to acquire, see which ones (if any) become cheap stars, and then fill in the gaps with free agents. But what do I know?

  30. Kemp and Markakis can’t be moved, and eating their contracts means we can’t sign the players we need to sign.

    Best-case is to bench or DFA them, play Acuna and whoever, and pretend that the $30M is going to them instead.

    Worst-case is to trade them in yet another bad-contract deal and give up real talent in the process.

    Which are we more likely to do, given past behavior?

  31. @44-45

    Kemp and Markakis only recently began to have negative value. I’m wondering if a lack of a quality 4th OF is causing them to be in the lineup more than they ought to be as we try to fully determine whether this team is or is not out of it. Rodriguez is playing a healthy amount of 2B/3B, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts getting worked into the OF. Micah Johnson is still hitting quite well in AAA and plays LF/CF. Maybe Santana can be both healthy and productive. But our OF has pretty much played every inning of every game that each player has been healthy. At some point, you have to chalk poor performance up to a lack of time off for aging outfielders.

  32. Morosi says Braves are still in on Sonny Gray pursuit and that the A’s are interested in Acuna. Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

  33. I understand that it’s not as simple as I’m about to make it, but if we traded away players to clear payroll and get picks and prospects (mostly pitching prospects), why the hell are we trading high end prospect talent for a cheap pitcher? What’s this all been about? What happened to “we’re collecting tons of pitching because it’s a universal currency we can use to get exactly what we need”? Why does it become “non-universal currency used to match up with a specific trade partner in order to get universal currency”? It’s literally backwards. Acuna for anyone other than an ace defeats the purpose of the rebuild.

  34. I would trade just about any prospect. They’re tremendously overvalued as a general rule, in my opinion. That having been said, I would be very surprised if we included Acuna in a deal for Sonny Gray, particularly in a deal that features multiple prospects in addition to Acuna.

    Our pitching prospects, on the other hand…

  35. That seems fair, Stu. I like Camargo, but now is the time to trade him, before the bubble pops.

    I will jump out a window if they trade Acuna for Gray.

  36. I dunno if it’s fair — not sure which of the Braves’ players and prospects I’m overvaluing, or by how much — but going much beyond that would make me uncomfortable. On Camargo, I like him and am a believer, but I’m not so sure about my scouting ability that I wouldn’t include him if the A’s like him. Definite Charles Thomas potential.

  37. @49, Agreed.

    Were I running an organization, I’d identify 1-2 players in my entire miLB system that were untouchable, period, end of sentence. “The rest” would be usable as trade chips for established MLB players. Almost without reservation. Soroka, Weigel and Sims for established under 32 years of age SP with career, 3.30 ERA and good K/9, come on down.

    Continue stockpiling them and using them this way.

    Were I running the Braves, in the current MLB environment, there is no way that Albies would be untouchable.

    Having said all of that, there still would be limits to this, but I would mark VERY FEW players as untouchable.

  38. @54

    Considering we traded Charles Thomas to the A’s for a #2 starter, I like where your head’s at.

  39. @55

    I more or less agree with that, and my two untouchables right now would be Acuna and Maitan.

  40. Same two for me as well, Nick.

    Not one of the pitchers, Albies, etc. have shown me anything remotely even resembling untouchable.

  41. Gray is pitching in Toronto, and not off to a good start through two innings: 4 runs allowed on 4hits. There was an error, none of the runs are earned.

  42. I don’t understand why players who are almost locks to be a 3-4 WAR player as early as right now like Albies are players we’d be willing to trade to get 3-4 WAR players like Gray who are closer to free agency. Gray has averaged 2.9 WAR over the past 3 1/2 seasons. Is Gray even a lock to provide a higher WAR than Albies for the rest of this season?

    What if a team just simply avoided the FA and trade markets for elite players, filled their system through the international and amateur drafts, committed to trading any impending FAs at that year’s deadline, and if you found a prospect blocked, you traded that prospect for a multiple players lower down the system? I’d imagine, with good scouting and development, you’d reach a critical mass where you’d never have a shortage of 3-4 WAR players at every position. You’d be the St. Louis Cardinals minus how they handled Albert Pujols.

  43. Ozzie Albies is 20 and is performing well in AAA; he fields, throws and hits. He runs well and has started to hit with power. What more must he do to prove he has value?

    Or what Rob said.

  44. @60, I think the difference is that I do not think that OA would BE a 3-4 WAR player. Certainly not now, and probably ever. Or Weigel, or Soroka, or insert prospect X.

    Our best pitcher this year Folty has a WAR less than 2 and we’re in August.

    The best predictor of future success is past performance.

    While I don’t really care much about Sonny Gray and certainly don’t think he’s the difference in this year’s Braves team, I do care much more about what any one has done at the MLB level than a bunch of wishcasting and prospectbation. Because what they have done at the MiLB level means almost nothing UNLESS they have such outrageous performance and for a meaningful amount of time.

    Go back and look at some of the MiLB performances of some of the greats of the game, today. Even my boy Daniel Murphy was hitting .320 with 12 HRs etc. Look at Kershaw’s pitching totals in the minors. Look at Vlad Guerrero’s miLB stats, etc. Look at Andruw’s stat lines. Those guys were deemed untouchable by their orgs. We don’t have ANYONE that is even CLOSE to these guys.

    I get that these are STARS and MOST miLB players won’t approach these. But even as impressive as Albies has been, his numbers are simply not surefire predictors of success. We don’t have ONE position player that has done that other than maybe Acuna this year and even his Ks are pretty worrisome, even at his age, etc.

    And I’ll say it. Albies is short, and borderline dumpy for an athlete(not a BJ reader but a baseball player), IMO. His body type is weird and I am very skeptical that it will perform at the MLB level. .287 9 HR 41 is just, meh. Sorry but it is. He’ll end up at .282 13 HR 65 RBI and 30 SB. A good prospect, yes. An untouchable, can’t miss, no doubter, plug and play guy. NO WAY.

  45. But only because defense doesn’t matter.

    Albies is worth a good bit, even if he’s not the slugger who sucks at defense that you so love. Untouchable, no. But worth trading for 2.3 years of Sonny? Also no.

  46. I’d trade Acuna for 4+ years of Archer on Julio’s contract…that’s probably it though

  47. @63 I have never said that defense doesn’t matter, ever. What I do say is that the difference between a good hitter and a lousy one is HUGE compared to a great fielder and a poor one. And I am willing to take my chances with a bashing offense and K/9 pitchers.

  48. My point is that the offensive numbers you project for Albies combined with plus defense = a 3-4 WAR player.

  49. I agree that the best predictor of future success is past performance. That is why I believe Albies will be a productive major league hitter–he has been productive at every level so far. That’s a much better predictor than body type. (He may not work out, of course; there is never a guarantee)

    This is also why I’m skeptical of Camargo, as much as I’d like him to make it. He has never been especially effective as a hitter. As Edward points out, unless he learns better strike zone judgment ml pitchers will figure him out.

  50. Um…so that happened. Folty had been pitching very well, so let’s hope he quickly rights himself here.

  51. Altuve has hit .500 for July. He’s putting up Bondsian OPS at 2B. If he didn’t exist I’d probably be more bearish on Albies. Is Altuve one in a billion? Maybe. But maybe guys with weird body types can be stars at a higher rate than even scouts think. All you need in baseball is ungodly hand eye coordination, and I think this kid has it.

  52. @60

    I just don’t think that would work. Especially in this era where prospects are so (IMO) overvalued. You’d never get anything for your one-year rentals and eventually, if you got good enough, it would get tougher and tougher as your draft position got worse. Also, inherently in any system like that is that, every now and then, you’d have a five-year crop of prospects that just all fail. It’s almost inevitable. Are you supposed to just accept that you’re going to suck for that five-year period? You’re grossly negligent as a GM if you do that.

    Also, I can’t tell if you’re promoting never signing anybody to a long-term contract ever, thereby not having anybody on your team with more than five years of service time, or just promoting not getting into a bidding war for any of your guys and never signing any stopgap major league players (meaning good value contract extensions are OK in this world). If it’s the first one, that’s an utter disaster. Your team would never not be complete garbage. If it’s the second, that’s still a bad strategy IMO. I know a large number of people think veteran MLB players are useless, but I strongly disagree. This team is way better with RA Dickey in the rotation than it would’ve been with Matt Wisler. You can try and argue differently, but I just don’t see how it’s much of a question. Jaime Garcia and RA Dickey can work their way through an outing where they don’t really have their stuff and give you a chance to win. Not so much if you’re just throwing young pitchers.

  53. I think I’ll take the over on those projections. I’m afraid it’ll be a moot point because he appears to be most-likely-to-be-traded.

    He’s not your typical speedy MiLB dude that has inflated OBP from bad minor league defenses. He knocks the crap out of the ball.

    He’s not gonna lead us to the playoffs by himself, but he’s a piece.

  54. By the way, I’d leave Folty in here until he either gets out of the inning or puts Arizona in the lead, whichever comes first. He’s gotta find a way to get himself out of these situations. Just has to. It’s the last hurdle in his development.

  55. Nice! Good on Folty! And good on Snitker for leaving him to get through it even though he was starting to labor a bit.

  56. Pretty epic ABs by the Snakes that inning. Good on Folty for getting through it, but I think AZ will win the war. The drop off from Folty to our middle relief is just scary.

  57. @81

    Yeah, that’s the problem.

    He still has to learn how to get through those situations, as hopefully there will be a time in the fairly near future where our bullpen consists of a substance less flammable than hydrogen gas.

  58. And for his efforts, Folty will now exit with the lead! Sweet!

    Man, Suzuki sure can level off on a fastball! I did not expect this at all from him when we signed him, to be honest. I thought he was just your standard pitcher-managing backup catcher.

  59. IMO, Suzuki is a top 5 fastball hitter in MLB. He turns on them like nobody’s business.

    He’s the only player in MLB to hit a HR on a pitch faster than 102 last season.

  60. @85–That is what he was. And so was Flowers. Yet combined this year they are the best offensive catcher in the league not named Buster.

  61. And another guy gets a desultory fastball destroyed by Kurt Suzuki! I’m not complaining, but maybe throw him something else??? Just a thought.

  62. @96

    yes, we found out from the booth tonight he was hitting .440RH, as opposed to something pretty ordinary LH…then that HR, like the one in Washington, RH, both either side of 430ft.

    Which begs an obvious question. Can someone into this sort of dilemma say from experience how you decide if and when to have him stop switching? What criteria? Was disappointed none of his diving attempts at short made contact – too Dansby like.

    Folty was magnificent in the 6th tonight – no more knocks from me.

    Suzuki…can we agree this guy is too good to let get away – extend him somehow. He looks as though he enjoys playing here.

    That was an impressive 8th from Brothers.

    Sean Rodriguez – we were mostly all wrong. Great to have him playing like this.

    Their pitcher – what a thrill, 455 feet for you first ML HR.

    Coppy overnight to do list..
    DFA Kroll
    Albies, Acuna, Soroca to be waiting in Philly. DFA accordingly! (It’s late)

  63. He’s a good one, and he and Folty have done well together.

    Playing a day game way out west is wonderful. Can we be done with the western divisions now?

    That Camargo boy’s still making big league plays.

    Aaron Blair? It’s not April 1, is it?

  64. I apparently blind squirrelled Camargo as I thought early on that he was a flat out baller.

    If you listen, the ball makes a different sound when he makes contact. I suspect that his wrists are strong as an ox.

  65. So Aaron Blair aka Lerch is gonna get the start .. was hoping Sims would get his 1st taste .. oh well …

  66. @100

    Chief…your definition of a ‘baller’ pse?


    coop…day games/night games, east/west…we should be so lucky, everyone else has to go to work! cheers

  67. @106 As it pertains to Camargo, I like that he plays the game with a sort of quiet toughness. I like the way he is aggressive, I like that he seems to be tough, and I like that he seems to maximize, if not exceed his actual skill set.

    Back in AL we’d have called him a red @ss.

    IMO, you need a few guys like this on your team. Not too many, but some.

    The ball also seems to jump off of his bat. I suspect he has very strong wrists as he seems to have a wiry strength to him.

  68. I agree Camargo looks like a player. Keep him in there til he stops hitting. But we shouldn’t let a hot start overshadow past performance: .703 OPS in 1,800 minors ABs. And only 3% walk rate in the bigs so far.

    FWIW, Prado’s MiLB OPS was only slightly better at .742 in around the same number of ABs. So who knows.

  69. @111

    On the question of sound, yes, he’s that kind of player. I saw him in the flesh mid April in Cincinnati. Another 2 double game for him, batting right handed with each hit thudding onto the base of the right center wall, very low elevation. But the sound off the bat was attention grabbing both times, i became a fan. Chipper said that of Acuna 2 years back, just the sound.

    So do we leave him be or hope he becomes exclusively right handed? What’s the general rule here, at this age?

  70. @112

    sounds a negative approach to me…i don’t care, NOW, what his minor league numbers were…a means to an end that’s all…i would agree 3% walk rate in the bigs ain’t too clever – i guess he has other things on his mind…ironically, batting left, he infuriates me sometimes going straight to 0-2 looking.

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