Acquiring Joc Pederson Doesn’t Mean We’re Buyers, Yet (And Game Thread)

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Trading struggling A-ball slugger Bryce Ball to the Cubs for quasi-proven MLB slugger Joc Pederson has baseball media clamoring that the Braves are buyers, much to their surprise after their sputtering first half and the loss of superstar Ronald Acuña, Jr.

As much as I love to preach on Twitter to go with the optimistic hype, I’m here to tell you that simply isn’t the case. Acquiring Pederson was a PR move at best, at least for now. Fans are appeased and we’re given two more weeks before the trade deadline to figure out whether this team has the mettle to meddle with playoff contention, or whether we need to send Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly to teams who can make better use of their services. But let’s be honest with ourselves. Unless someone’s holding lightning in a bottle, subtracting Acuña and adding Pederson doesn’t turn a sub-.500 Braves team a contender.

But that doesn’t make this a bad move, either. Joc Pederson‘s contract comes with a club option for $10 million in 2022, or a $2.5 million buyout. If he so much as sniffs at being a productive player for the next two months, he’ll make that $10 million in a Braves uniform at least until #13 returns sometime around the 2022 All-Star Break. And if the new CBA results in the designated hitter coming to the National League, then whoever was playing the role of DH becomes added bench depth when Pederson becomes our DH.

Look, I want the Braves to win. Sooner rather than later. if the Braves make the playoffs in 2021, the bottle with the lightning in it hasn’t been found yet, and we have about two weeks to find it before decisions are made that make that call for us.

That said, if this team somehow finds itself above .500 two weeks from now, with the Mets still struggling to separate themselves as clear leaders of the NL East, then maybe that’s all we need to push ourselves to playing meaningful baseball in October.

Braves News

Jonathan Lucroy has been DFA’d…ugh. This move would’ve been a real win if it were to blast Kevan Smith into the sun. Alas, it wasn’t. After getting good production from catching tandems for years, 2021 has been putrid and any help is appreciated.

Braves Lineup

A shakeup! Freddie Freeman slides back to the 3 hole with Joc Pederson taking Ronald Acuna’s spot at the top. Dansby Swanson has hit well of late and gets rewarded. Aside from Kevan Smith, I don’t hate this lineup. Good work, Snit.

Author: Paul McCord

Father, husband, brother, son. Braves fan since the late '80s. Baseball is my happy place, even when it isn't going well. Fan of stats, fun facts, good stories, and (re)reading MLB's Official Rules and the MLB-MLBPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.

32 thoughts on “Acquiring Joc Pederson Doesn’t Mean We’re Buyers, Yet (And Game Thread)”

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Paul McCord to the Braves Journal writing crew. Paul is a friend of mine, has bought a Hammers shirt to help support Hank’s charity, is a wonderful follow on Twitter (https://twitter.com/BravesStats), and is one helluva writer and statistician. Welcome him aboard!

  2. I don’t really believe Catcher ERA has much useful value. I’m sure Kevan Smith must have some delightful positives that have led to the Braves keeping him around, but I don’t believe that his better Catcher ERA tells you much.

  3. @Alex R
    I’m a much bigger believer in CERA than most, especially when there’s no real pattern of who catches who in tandems. Nearly a full run is a huge difference.

  4. The Pederson move would have looked SO much better if we had kept Adam Duvall at a cheaper rate than Joc. I kinda figured that something related to catcher ERA was keeping Smith around. I also believe that Jackson was better defensive catcher than Contreras. Both Jackson and Contreras are doing some hitting at Gwinnett.

    And the lineup move has nothing to do with Dansby’s performance. Another Snitker predilection, alternating handedness in the lineup. He was never gonna have two lefties at the top of the lineup.

  5. Thanks Paul.

    I think Smith is better than what he’s showed, and he would be a perfectly fine backup catcher. Unfortunately we need a starting catcher, but that’s not his fault.

  6. @3,4: I went looking for some stuff on catcher ERA and found this:

    https://sabr.org/journal/article/71351/

    It seems like methodology will always be a bugaboo for studies on this phenomenon, but the result here was fairly clear-cut in one particular aspect that is especially pertinent to those of us, like me, who’d like to at least get AJax back up and maybe even an AJax/Contreras tandem- as rookies, catchers have a much higher ERA than they do as veterans.

    When I was catching I always thought the best pitch a pitcher could throw is the one they WANTED to throw, and my job was to convince them, by building trust mostly, that they should want to throw the pitch I called based on my knowledge of what they had working and what the hitter’s weaknesses were. At the MLB level there’s clearly more to it than that, and managers sure do seem to value having a veteran backstop, so a catcher’s “handling” of the staff probably involves a ton of intangibles that (maybe?) are captured in catcher ERA. So while I would personally prefer finally giving Alex Jackson a chance to show what he can do- he seems like he might have Zunino in him- it’s possible the pitching staff is vociferously supporting Smith behind the scenes or something.

  7. Chip: “Like Medusa. You cut off the head they grow two more.” Believe you mean the hydra there bud.

  8. Well, that worked out nicely. I logged in to say that, regardless of what Fried did, it seemed like a bad idea to walk someone OPSing .500 this early in the game. Even if Fried makes an out, that means the top of the order starts the next inning, which is much better than having the pitcher lead off.

  9. Any team that intentionally walks Kevan Smith in any circumstance has no real understanding of baseball.

    Oh, and Chip repeated his statement that the most amazing thing about Hank Aaron is that if you take away his homers he still had over 3000 hits… which is not that amazing since several other players have the same characteristic. … Indeed, if you take away all of Pete Rose’s homers, he still has 4000 hits.

  10. Blowouts and heartbreakers is the story of this team. Yesterday was the heartbreaker.

  11. @9 from what I’ve read, catchers play a big role in preparation for facing hitters, both in terms of research as to what to throw when, and in terms of conversation with the pitchers about relevant topics. That paints a picture of extensive interaction between catcher and pitcher that might very well have implication for runs allowed.

  12. Fried looks like his promotion back to Varsity is entirely complete. This game would fit indistinguishably into his 2020.

  13. The offense is doing a spectacular job of getting Reitsma Room for the pen.

  14. With Smyly on the mound tomorrow, starting to feel real optimistic about this series.

  15. I know everyone hates fantastical speculation but I can’t help wondering what this season would have been like if we had kept Duvall and signed Joc instead of having Sandoval and Pache on the opening day roster (or instead Sandoval and the 10th reliever). Heredia and Almonte would have still been at Gwinnett.

    Joc made a statement that he was close to signing with the Braves and even looking for a home in the area. Why in the heck didn’t we close the deal?

  16. if they use anyone in the 8th other than Greene or Tomlin, I’m going to scream.

    And the Rays have had 0 ABs with runners in scoring position. In other words, no one has gotten past 1B tonight.

  17. @20 I think Pache starting on the roster on opening day is hard to second-guess given the information we had at the time. Also, remember we had Acuna and Ozuna at that point too; Duvall and Pederson as our 4th and 5th OFs doesn’t sound great given that neither of them is a competent CF.

    EDIT: also, supposedly the reason Pederson signed with the Cubs is because they were gonna give him at-bats versus lefties. Hard to see us doing that.

  18. So Matzek couldn’t be used against all of those lefties last night…..but he is used in a 9 – 0 game tonight.

  19. Sure looked like Smith lollygagged his way to the ball on that dropped 3rd strike. It’s a stupid rule but jogging after a passed ball that would have ended the game is a crappy way to protest it.

  20. Acuna didn’t hit a home run in every game he started, so I’d say we upgraded.

  21. @20

    I agree. I’d much rather see them do one-year deals on platoon position players than starting pitchers.

    Given the streakiness and injury issues can we just start calling Dansby “Handsome Jeff Blauser?”

  22. Did anyone see what the Pirates did to the Mets. So cool. 5 in the 8th and 4 in the 9th to win 9-7. Walk off grand slam. Could not have happened to a lovelier team.

  23. Atlanta only 3 back of the mutts and the best run differential in the division. DeGrom had tightness and had to shut back down. Lindor on the IL. This division is winnable and I’m glad the Braves are still going for it.

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