Where Do We Go from Here?

The entire 2021 Atlanta Braves surround the “44” painted in centerfield along with the World Series trophy

Well…I think the answer to the above question is that the Braves have no choice but to repeat 2021 and win the dadgum dance one more time! There’s a huge part of the core that is returning, there’s an elephant in the room, and there’s also a large chunk of prospects that need to show they’re ready for the show before showing up to the show. In today’s piece, we’ll look at who should be returning, holes to fill, and address that elephant very quickly.

Players Under Contract for 2022

Breakdown: There’s $77 million committed to 6 players, but that sum could very well turn into $61MM should MLB follow the trend of suspending players guilty of Domestic Violence for a full year without pay. The baseline for this argument is Sam Dyson‘s suspension.  Below is an excerpt from USA Today’s article on Dyson:

In an October 2020 report, The Athletic reviewed text messages, photos, medical and public documents provided by Blackburn, which painted a pattern of verbal and emotional abuse, along with photos of Blackburn’s bruised arms, which were provided to Jupiter police. Dyson did not face charges in Jupiter, with Blackburn saying the police believed they could not provide probable cause.

Braves Arb-Eligible Players

Breakdown: As you can see, there’s a whole lot of bottlenecking going on here with many players becoming arb-eligible all at once. This pattern will continue for the foreseeable future as it’s just the nature of a rebuild. Let’s make some predictions on who will stay and who will go, shall we?

Arb-Estimates for Players Likely to Return

Breakdown: $41.95MM to 9 arb-elgible players. 7 of these guys are almost 100% guaranteed to be here in 2022. One question mark is Rich-Rod, but I expect for the Braves to offer him arbitration, then go to spring training to see if he’s worked out how to perform without sticky aids. Another is Adam Duvall, but I’d be willing to bet good $ they don’t let him walk a 2nd time, especially for a 1 year deal via arbitration.

Pre-Arb Players Likely to Return

Breakdown: “Likely to return” implies that the Braves do not trade any of the above players, but I’m guessing some of these guys might not be wearing a Braves uniform come 2022. Like many guys that are pre-arb, the Braves will continue the Gwinnett/ATL shuttle as long as the above players have options. There are exceptions, here, namely Ian Anderson. However, make no mistake that when one proves worthy of a regular spot, that shuttle stops.

Players In Need of Being Added to the 40-Man Roster

A few days back, both Travis Demeritte and Alan Rangel were added to the 40-man roster as they would’ve been MiLB free agents should the Braves had not made this procedural move. Demeritte had a great year at AAA and still holds value as a fringe Major Leaguer with some breakout potential.

Alan Rangel was a surprise for me, but he could be one to keep an eye on after looking closer. In 2021, he struck out 11.7/9 while only walking 2.2/9 while adding 4 MPH to his fastball. Both could very well get removed at some point in time this offseason, but it’s a testament to the two players that Anthopoulos valued them enough not to risk losing them.

Here’s the rest of the list:

Breakdown: This is a really hard list. On one hand, you’ve got no-doubt additions like Drew Waters and Freddy Tarnok. Then, after that, there are a TON of cusp guys like Wilson, Woods, White, Lugbauer, Harris, Dean, Higginbotham, Burrows, and Hernandez. This will be fascinating to watch play out. My guess is Waters, Tarnok, Woods, and Wilson will be added.

Holes to Fill

  1. Gulp…First base. I’m sure the Braves work out a deal with Freddie Freeman. That’s all I’m saying about that.
  2. Starting Pitcher. With Fried, Morton, and Anderson as the for sure 3, the Braves will likely try to sign a rebounding veteran in hopes of eating some innings, or finally go for that big trade to grab another front-line starter. I’ll continue to assume that our number 5 starter will be a revolving door of Kyle Wright, Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson, and Huascar Ynoa until someone demands their attention via 4-5 straight great performances.
  3. RH Relief Pitcher: I think the Braves will definitely be in the market for a lockdown RH relief arm.
  4. Outfield/DH. I’m just going to continue to assume that Ozuna is out, the Braves aren’t ready for Cristian Pache to be the everyday CFer, and there’ll be at least 1 opening in the OF. If I were Anthopoulos, I’d talk with both Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler before they leave town and get offers from other orgs.
  5. Bench. I really liked Ehire Adrianza last year and his versatility. Having one guy like him is a must and I’m guessing there’s mutual interest. Regardless if it’s Ehire or not, the Braves will be in the market for a few bench spots.

Food for Thought

The Braves went hard after Bryan Reynolds at the trade deadline and it was confirmed from an inside source of mine, but in the end, the Pirates did not want to sell him. Since neither Cristian Pache or Drew Waters emerged as starting CF candidates this year, I fully expect the Braves to not shy away from including either in a trade and going hard after a controllable CFer that could provide immediate production. When you’re staring another World Series berth in the face, it’s not the time to play guessing games. Go with the production.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

106 thoughts on “Where Do We Go from Here?”

  1. I think it’s extremely likely that AA adds another veteran pitcher on a one-year contract (or short-term salary dump trade). Those short-term acquisitions have probably been his greatest signature since coming to the Braves, obviously, and in addition to hitters like Donaldson, the starting pitchers he’s acquired this way include:

    2018:
    • Anibal Sanchez (FA – massive success)
    • Brandon McCarthy (salary dump – failure)

    2019:
    • Dallas Keuchel (FA – relative success)

    2020:
    • Tommy Milone (trade – massive failure)
    • Jhoulys Chacin (FA – massive failure, though he was actually good again in 2021)
    • Cole Hamels (FA – massive failure)

    2021:
    • Charlie Morton (FA – massive success)
    • Drew Smyly (FA – relative failure)

    That’s about a 50% hit rate, which surprised me as I thought he’d been even more successful. But even a 50% hit rate is easily enough to justify the strategy, as the surplus the team receives from a single Anibal Sanchez or Charlie Morton-type success is more than enough to outweigh the cost of a Brandon McCarthy or three.

  2. Another hole to fill: backup catcher. I think assuming either Contreras or Langeliers will be good enough is a fine assumption, but you still need to plug that potential hole.

  3. brb gonna go watch 2021 highlights until sweet success once again obliterates my memory of some of those pitchers…

  4. @3 – I saw Hamels in the list, but maybe it was edited after your point. Either way, yes. A massive suck.

    On Ryan’s Holes to fill:

    Absolutely. Once again, I’m not even sure why this is NOT considered a need by some. Sign the man. Cornerstone.
    I totally agree with this and there are a number of names on the FA market. Show me deals are a hallmark, to be sure.
    Yes, and as we know (by and large) relief arms are fungible.
    As much as many of us might wish it, I’m not so certain it will be so easy to get out from under the Ozuna contract/situation. THAT, really more than Freddie, is the elephant in the room. It’s money and we know Liberty is cheap. Soler and Rosario are great options, to be sure. (Also…we need to know the rules for next year – DH or not. We think we know…but we don’t yet and neither does AA.)
    Agreed and Adrianza was a perfectly serviceable addition.

    And I’m not terribly worried about backup catcher. Contreras has the hit tool and lags behind on the catching skills. Langeliers is sort of the opposite (though he had a good offensive season in the minors – we’ll see when he sees Major League pitching on a full time basis.) As we saw this year, we can plug and play with all else around the position.

  5. Ryan, so you don’t want to wade into the prospective Freddie contract? Haha…..I don’t blame you.

  6. @9 – I read the last thread and I’m just curious…without Freddie, who would you plug in at 1st that might be cheaper and still provide the same amount of offense/defense/team building without him? I applaud your fiscally responsible response and lack of sentimentality, but who else would be the answer? Either within or without the organization? I mean, somebody has to play 1st base.

  7. Looks like the CBA negotiations aren’t going well. Who’s ready for the next debate of who you like more: mostly uneducated deca-millionaires vs. stingy billionaires?!?!?!

    Sign. Me. Up!

  8. I am for the players. The owners don’t build the stadiums. They don’t hit the balls. They sit in a box a couple of handfuls a time a year.

  9. @14: By forcing cities to build them stadiums for free at gun point?

    This is already going well and we’re a month before the lockout even starts!

  10. That’s not completely true, but I’ll stop here so I don’t come off as some billionaire apologist.

  11. @16 Oh boy, here we go.

    First off, the owners pay for some of the stadiums. So there’s that. It’s not just the taxpayers.

    Second, the taxpayers include the owners, obviously. For what its worth, the owners increase the tax rolls of these municipalities and create more tax payers as well.

    Third, the municipalities are not held at gunpoint. I’m watching this right now with the Rays. Hillsborough County wants the Rays, Pinellas County wants the Rays, Montreal wants the Rays, and probably Nashville wants the Rays too. I bet Pasco County — a county in central Florida east of Hillsborough — would kick in a hundred mil to get the Rays. The Rays’ ownership is shopping the Rays just like we shop for televisions and t-shirts: by asking, “who’s got the best deal?” I’d love for the Rays to stay in my county (Pinellas), but I absolutely support anyone’s ability to shop around. It’s literally what our entire culture is built on.

  12. Devil’s advocate on Freddie: What if you could have Rizzo at 3/$45, Marte at 5/$90 and still re-sign Soler and Duvall and say Thor or Kershaw to a 1 year/$20 mil deal.

    Lineup

    Acuña RF
    Marte CF
    Rizzo 1B
    Riley 3B
    Soler DH
    Albies 2B
    Duvall LF
    d’Arnaud C
    Swanson SS

    Rotation
    Fried
    Morton
    Thor
    Anderson
    Soroka/Wright/Muller/Ynoa/Davidson/Strider/Touki/Elder

  13. Other than San Francisco, I wasn’t aware of any other owners who built the stadium outright. Which ones are you thinking of?

  14. https://globalsportmatters.com/business/2019/05/22/who-paid-for-your-stadium/

    There’s a list of 111 North American sports venues & a breakdown of the private vs. public funding, with explanations.

    According to this 2019 report & looking just at MLB parks, the vast majority of the monies paying for the vast majority of baseball’s parks are paid by the public.

    Many of the stadiums, especially the newer ones, see the owners kick in, but it’s usually in the 20% – 30% range.

    The extremes: The Phils are nearly an even split — a rarity, it seems; meanwhile, the Reds ownership ponied up 14% . Then, there are those (Pirates, A’s, Nats, Royals, White Sox) that are 100% public.

    Very few are mostly paid by private resources. Examples: Wrigley Field was 100%, but it was more than 100 years ago when the price was $250k. The Dodgers, also… & there’s a not-so-great story about that (www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBOtKhAAUHs).

  15. @20, 21

    For the record, I’m not arguing that municipalities don’t pay for the bulk of stadiums. I thought I was clear in my previous comment.

  16. @22 I’m sorry, I can see where I was not clear. I was saying that owner pay for “some of the stadiums”, which was not clear. I’m saying each owner pays for some of his/her/their individual stadium, not some owners pay for their entire stadiums.

  17. DOB said on 755 is Real the Braves offered Freeman five years and he wants 6. Just give him the 6th

  18. You started it, Rob. ;) For the record, I’m not for either one. Seems to me there is plenty of money to spread around for a child’s game. Especially if they want it to remain relevant. Last time they forgot was 1994 and I doubt they want a repeat. But memories are short.

    And I’ll take Freddie over Rizzo, thank you.

  19. To me if the debate is whether Freddie gets 5 or 6 years, it’s a no brainer that Freddie should get 6. If the debate is for 6 or 8 like I’ve heard somewhere, that’s where I would balk a little.

  20. I think the disconnect is that some of you are simply trying to replace WAR or whatever and not thinking about what it’ll do to the clubhouse to have the de facto team captain wrenched out of there for a reason as lame as “we couldn’t give him another year, we’ll figure it out.” Who’s the team leader at that point? Who does everybody in the clubhouse look to? It’s not just any guy you’re taking out of there, and you can’t assume everything will just go on as normal.

  21. @10 One of the writers at MLBTR suggested we may lose Freddie and then sign Rizzo. I do not support this. Sentimental or not, I root for the players on my team as well as the team and I like having Freddie on the team. I am sure I am not the only one. That is the indirect value that Freddie brings. I have no desire to root for Rizzo no matter how swell a guy he is.

    I also think signing another “show-me” starter is a waste of money that could be spent signing Soler and/or Rosario. We have several pitchers that have now broken that benchmark of 5-6 good starts including Ynoa, Muller, Davidson. Even Wright and Touki have shown enough to be in the mix. Between them and the up and comers like Strider, Elder, Shuster, etc…. we will have plenty for a rotation and depth. Magnified even more with the return of Soroka.

    Both Rosario and Soler have to be priority signs. There are many around here that wanted to trade for Rosario from the Twins. Both of them are special. My eye test says they are both gifted hitters in their own way. Rosario is underrated for speed and Soler is underrated for defense (he’s solid and has a great arm). The search for an All-Star CF is a fool’s errand (kind of a holy grail). Duvall is perfectly cromulent in CF – gold glove and all.

    I think a lockdown RH reliever should be a priority as both Martin and Rich-Rod have disappointed. I still think the biggest hole is IF depth in the minors (the hole Arcia was supposed to fill). I’d like to think Demeritte could be every bit as good as Adrianza. Or Camargo (who’s running out of leash).

    I like Contreras but he is not ready even as a hitter. The TdA signing is a bridge to Langeliers. TdA can be the starter next year and then Langeliers will be the starter and TdA the backup the following year. Trading Contreras and signing Vogt is not a bad idea.

    Let’s use our prospect depth to create more and better prospect depth. This team as is was good enough the win the whole thing. Let’s keep the dynamic together and add a couple of minor strategic pieces (RH RP, bench, IF depth). The big additions will be Acuna and Soroka.

    If we need anything else, we have our deadline wizard to take care of it.

  22. @10 who would you plug in at 1st that might be cheaper and still provide the same amount of offense/defense/team building without him?

    1B is the least valuable position on a baseball field. I don’t particularly care for Freddie’s “team building” where he encourages the young players to play when they are hurting (quote from Dansby). That is irrelevant to his contract anyway.
    His defense is poor, despite what Chip blabbers on about.

    Freddie is one of the top 15 players in mlb if you ONLY consider offense. When you include defense, his value drops to top 30. This will get worse as he ages.
    https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2021&month=0&season1=2021&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&startdate=2021-01-01&enddate=2021-12-31

    Who would replace him at 1B? Austin could play there with better defense. They could try again to trade for Jose Ramirez or another 3B or another 1B.

    The world will not end if Freddie gets 200M to play for the Red Sox. The team will have all sorts of options. Personally, I hope he does sign a 5/160 contract. That doesn’t handicap the Braves for years and it sets him up for life.

  23. I strongly disagree that Freddie’s defense is poor. I don’t think most defensive metrics do a good job of capturing ability to save infielder’s throwing errors and timing/footwork. I think Freddie is excellent on that. His range isn’t great, but all things considered, I think you have to at least rate his defense above average. It will get a little worse as he ages, but I don’t see major declines as long as he stays relatively healthy and doesn’t blow out his knees.

  24. The Ozuna situation actually makes me wonder about the whole “team chemistry” thing. Some of my analytically-inclined friends seem to think that it’s utter bull****, especially since it’s impossible to measure or quantify. Personally, I have a hard time believing that professional sports is the only place where it doesn’t matter. I certainly hire for culture.

    Gossip claims that the Braves teams of the 90s weren’t all that close, and in some cases actually didn’t like each other. The 2021 team seemed (cliché alert) to be more than the sum of its parts. The team seems to have genuinely loved each other, and said so. Maybe that closeness made a difference?

    I’m not necessarily making that argument; I’m asking the question. If chemistry was, in fact, important, does that make you more likely to resign more of the deadline four outfielders than you might otherwise? And what does Ozuna do to that mix? I think I’d have a lot of conversations before I’d make that call.

  25. @27 I can agree with that. It’s the 7 and 8 years that I absolutely balk at going. 5 is optimal. 6 if absolutely necessary but I don’t like it. The fact that the NL will have a DH is the only reason a 6th year is feasible.

  26. @30 That’s not particularly good logic or reference when FG says in their FA article about Freddie:

    “Freeman is as close as it gets to automatic production, both at the plate and with the glove, ranking as one of the game’s best defenders at first.”

    When you say he falls to 30 because of his defense, you are comparing him defensively to other positions where defense is more highly valued. At 1B, offensive production is more highly valued and great defense is a bonus. That makes him a top 15 player (and one of the top 5 FAs on the market).

  27. You started it, Rob. ;) For the record, I’m not for either one. Seems to me there is plenty of money to spread around for a child’s game. Especially if they want it to remain relevant. Last time they forgot was 1994 and I doubt they want a repeat. But memories are short.

    Haha I just said the debate was about to start again, and it did.

    I’m in the middle too. They’re both wrong; they’re both greedy. Both groups think of themselves, erroneously, as being indispensable. There’s no game without the owners, as we know it; there’s no game without the players, as we know it. I respect the players’ right to strike; I respect the owner’s right to value the players’ contribution to the game the way they see it. And both can suffer the consequences. I’ll spend time doing something else in April and May until they get their sh*t together. Season’s too long anyway.

  28. @31 I thought about the possibility of signing Conforto, and it might be a heckuva good idea if we can’t get both Soler and Rosario. Conforto could provide the same kind of boost as either Soler or Rosario, but I’d rather keep what we’ve got than take an chance on another rebound even from a player who has a great chance to rebound. His defense doesn’t seem to be particularly good (B-Ref dWAR).

    I’m not in on Thor or Kershaw either. Don’t think the risk is worth it.

  29. @36 Freddie picked a very bad time to go on a two-month slump. I’m old enough to remember when someone was saying he’d end the year at a .270 BA and 25 HRs. But from June 10th on, he hit .342/.418/.541 for a .960 OPS, and that dog’ll hunt every time.

  30. I really don’t care about a first baseman’s range is, especially with shifting.

    They guy picks it a first. He hits like Eddie Murray. I am not sure what else you want.

  31. @36 Dig into those numbers a little and you might find something different. On most of the those parameters, Freddie rates highly (DRS, OOZ, et al). The one area he seems to be lacking is range. To me, those numbers underrate him defensively.

  32. Conforto is streaky as hell & a bit like Rosario overall, but Conforto walks way more…

    From what I’ve seen, he has a more-than-decent arm, but does have his moments in RF… not an utter disaster out there, but has taken some odd routes to balls sometimes. Not exactly graceful.

    Depending on the makeup of the rest of the team, he wouldn’t be a bad one-year addition, IMO.

  33. I agree with @29 that the Braves should prioritize OF production over bringing in another $10M+ veteran pitcher on a “show me” deal. The Braves should be able to cobble together a decent back end of the rotation from pieces that are already in-house (or are cheaply available), and a deep offense with average-to-great bats at almost every position will win lots of games through a 162 game season, even if we’re churning through some stinker starts from Ynoa, Wright, Elder, Muller, Davidson, Strider etc. The odds are much better, IMO, that we’ll turn up at least one good young SP from our minor leagues next spring than it is that Pache or Waters is ready to be a productive regular.

    Scouting the AAA stat lines on Pache/Waters, I am not seeing anything that indicates MLB readiness offensively… and Pache’s defense in ATL was not up to expectations given the hype. I hope that one/both take the leap next year but it was a mistake to hope Pache would manage it by Opening Day 2021 and I think it’d be a mistake to hope for the same by Opening Day 2022.

    If we can sign Freddie (personally, I’m happy to go 6 years/$160M or so) and at least one, preferably two good OF to go along with Duvall and Acuna, I think the rest takes care of itself.

    PS – am I wrong in thinking that Strider has substantial potential to be a shutdown multi-inning reliever for the Braves next fall (assuming he can’t crack the starting rotation)?

  34. Someone’s gonna have to explain to me why range still matters when you’re in the shift the whole time. He committed three errors all year while playing every day and where any ball not hit right at him is going right to Ozzie or Riley…that’ll be fine, thanks. And defensive metrics are still utterly useless BTW.

    And the uproar over the thing about him leading everybody to play every day was pretty silly at the time, I thought. It’s completely ridiculous now.

  35. I think it’s fair to say that the Braves agree with you that neither Pache nor Waters is ready, as they haven’t even tried to put out a rumor that they won’t be as active in the OF market due to their internal options. If they viewed either of those two as remotely playable, we’d hear about it from Pravda.

  36. @44 Are you actually quoting number of errors as a measure of defensive ability …….hahahahahaha……..Chip the Dip does that too.

    Defensive metrics are widely accepted now for every position but catcher. The Fielding Bible has made some improvements there.

    FWIW, the Fielding Bible ranks Freddie as middle of the pack defensively. I go along with that. They are the best.
    http://www.fieldingbible.com/DRSLeaderboard

    Austin Riley could win the Fielding Bible award for 3B this year. He was robbed of the gold glove.

  37. As far as I know, digging out errant throws is nowhere in the defensive ratings of first basemen. My eye test says Freddie is very good at it, and I agree that range (of which Freddie has very little) is highly overvalued in a first baseman. Freddie’s defense troubles me not at all — as long as he can hit like Freddie Freeman. When he starts hitting like Rico Brogna, no amount of snagging errant throws from Austin will help him.

    As to Conforto, if we can’t get Soler or Rosario, then sure. I’d put him ahead of Pedersen and behind Jorge and Eddie.

  38. Given the way things went for Pache and Waters last year, Michael Harris may see significant playing time before the other two guys make it to Atlanta to stay, if they make it at all. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harris make a quick run through a few levels of the organization next year and be ready sometime in 2023.

  39. Also seems odd to key on defensive metrics for first base since it’s “the least valuable position on a baseball field.” ;) Agree with JonathanF – let the man hit and dig out errant throws. And then pay him his money.

  40. Put me in the “do whatever it takes” camp when it comes to re-signing Freddie.

    Anyone who thinks there’s any chance the Braves come close to approximating Freeman’s likely production over at least the next 4 or 5 years, or that it’s easy to find a productive First baseman, hasn’t been watching the same Braves teams I have for the last 30+ years*. And that isn’t even counting the off-the-field impact letting him leave would have.

    Pay the man. If all it takes is an extra year (or two), do it.

    *My memory was that 1B has always seemed like a tough position for Atlanta, but the stats are even worse than I thought. In the last 31 seasons there have been 14 where the Braves have had at least 3 WAR (per Baseball Reference and my quick math) from First base. Freeman has 9 of those, and 7 of the top 10.

  41. I’m of the opinion that Pache and/or Waters have fallen out of favor. They’ve never even given Waters a cup of coffee and Pache was just disastrous this season. I think they view Harris as “the guy” now. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Pache or Waters traded this winter.

  42. I don’t get the fascination with Pache or Waters. You have to hit to play in my OF. That’s just the way it is. We need to resign Soler and one of Rosario/Duvall. The Freddie thing will work itself out. Pitching is the big unknown. Soroka’s production might be really good, might be zero…who really knows?

  43. God’s honest truth, as Soler was walking up to bat, I said “hit it over the train tracks”. And then he did! I gave my wife a quick glance and then proceeded to lose my mind.

  44. How many millions do the Braves make back on Freddie merch alone?

    He’s not only very good. He’s also very popular. This strikes me as an incredible no-brainer.

  45. @56

    Great article.

    Snit was amazing and we don’t win the World Series with anyone else. Bobby couldn’t have pulled this off.

    Counsel, Roberts and Dusty all made panic moves. Snit never did. A truly amazing job by him.

  46. Liberty Media’s Q4 financials will be revealing. The Braves enjoyed a full slate of post season games and I would imagine that tickets, merchandise, concessions, ad revenues, broadcast revenues, etc., pushed them well over $100MM in revenue in October alone. I would imagine that 2022 season ticket sales will be up as well as attendance overall, plus the bevy of licensed WS merchandise, etc., will really push revenue and profits higher for the foreseeable future. October success is a financial boon. Crying poor is not going to cut it.

  47. I think we finally see a $200MM payroll in 2022. Also, I’ve not mentioned this much and I’ll be vague because I have to be, but a new owner could be coming very soon.

  48. I think Boras and I actually agree to a large extent on the evils of tanking. However, it would be very difficult to find anyone capable of causing revulsion by stating a general opinion that you agree with to the degree that Scott Boras can.

  49. @52 I think the fascination with Pache and Waters largely stems from the fact that the Braves have relentlessly hyped Pache (and to a lesser extent Waters) for years now, and Braves fans can’t help but take notice and assume there’s some truth to the hype.

    Pache seems very likely to be a productive major leaguer in due time; the only question is whether he hits enough to go from 4th outfielder / good enough bat for a defense-first CF (.700-ish OPS) to something more than that (.750+ OPS, say). We should probably be looking at Pache’s most likely outcome as somewhere in the neighborhood of Victor Robles on the low end or Harrison Bader on the high end. Obviously, Pache could end up being more than that… but it’s not something that we should be expecting.

    As of today, the Braves have zero starter-quality OFs ready to play on Opening Day 2022. I don’t want to see the Braves running out a pupu platter of Heredia/Arcia/etc. until Acuna is healthy and just hoping to patch up the OF midseason like we did this year. I feel like the 2021 trade deadline was a one-time deal in that sense.

  50. @61 I’m surprised to hear you take the anti-player position. Boras wants more money for the players, which I thought you would support.

    Boras is the funny one for the people that are very pro-player (vs. me, who straddles the fence). He’s probably the most pro-player, anti-owner person in baseball, and yet so many baseball fans don’t like him.

  51. @65 It’s not that he’s pro player. He is unabashedly pro Scott. That’s why people don’t like him.

  52. @66 But he can be more pro-self than anyone else in his ilk because he gets tremendous results for players. He’s literally the best thing to ever happen to the players since Curt Flood. I genuinely don’t see why people don’t like him. He squeezes tens of millions of dollars out of the rich, evil owners before he’s had his first cup of Folgers.

  53. @65, haha — I actually mostly agree with you about Boras. I don’t think he’s scum, I just think he’s a jerk. (The OTHER Alex R. definitely thought he’s scum!) Boras is a pretty good advocate for his clients, and I have absolutely no problem with him getting them as much money as he can. What I do have a problem with is what Mac had a problem with, which is his documented history of lying to owners about the demand that his players are receiving, in order to get them more money. Lying is an ethical violation, of course, and it’s grounds to revile him as a lawyer.

    But as to the opinion he expressed above, I completely agree with what Nick said @63: as a fan, I think tanking is a revolting strategy, and I agree with Boras that as a fan, I want every team to try to win, I don’t want half the teams to try to tank for draft picks. But he said it in a way that directly impugns the Braves and diminishes their accomplishment, which is what I don’t like. It’s because he’s a jerk.

  54. It’s why I straddle the fence. Boras should do everything in his power to make his clients more money (just as the Players Union should do) but so too should the owners. I abhor tanking just as much as I do an owner selling off all the pieces of a championship team for money or prospects (see:Marlins or early days Athletics.)

    Agree with Alex above – it’s not that he is wrong. It’s that he singles out our team as if we did not or should not have been able to take advantage of the environment. Last I heard, the Dodgers also plucked from tanking Washington (and took one of his clients.) They just didn’t win. I think Boras may just be pissed that none of his clients got a ring this year which hurts in his negotiations.

    The difference is that AA said we were ALL IN even at or below .500 which is kind of the opposite of what he is suggesting. I’m thinking sour grapes here.

  55. Anyone that forces the owners to do what is best for the game and the players instead of what’s best for the owners is fine by me. And it’s a big, nasty business, so I don’t care if he lies to get the players top dollar. If he doesn’t lie, someone else will be more than willing to.

    Boras makes all boats rise. For every player — represented by Boras or not — that has signed a $100M+ deal, $10-20M of that came because of the labors of Scott Boras at some point. He can be a dick all he wants if he separates the owners away from their pocket books.

  56. @69 Your whole comment is very well put, and I have one comment about this:

    Agree with Alex above – it’s not that he is wrong. It’s that he singles out our team as if we did not or should not have been able to take advantage of the environment. Last I heard, the Dodgers also plucked from tanking Washington (and took one of his clients.) They just didn’t win. I think Boras may just be pissed that none of his clients got a ring this year which hurts in his negotiations.

    Frankly, I kind of like that Boras is so full of crap. He doesn’t like tanking because it costs his clients money, and that’s probably the brunt of his moral objection with tanking. And since these agents make such a big cut of the deal, it costs Boras tens of millions of dollars when 1/4 of the teams are tanking.

    The guy just says what he needs to say — whether he believes it or not — to steer his entire industry, and it’s pretty incredible when you think about it. He might be the most powerful man in baseball.

  57. @71 – He used to be but not so much anymore. Notice also that Boras has zero clients on the Braves. I believe it was Scherholtz years ago that said he wouldn’t work with him anymore (could be wrong so all correct me if I’m incorrect.) AA took as much advantage of the environment as Boras might have done in any negotiation. That the agent with many of his clients that did not get a ring is bitching…again, sour grapes.

  58. @72 Who gets hurt worse in that scenario: that Boras’ clients couldn’t go to the Braves, or that the Braves didn’t get access to Boras’ clients? I don’t really see who loses there.

  59. Dawwwwg fans: I know you guys are focused on the actual season, which obviously the Dawgs have a lot to be excited about, but us losers are already focused on next year (both Nole fans and Gator fans). Both fanbases have some that want either Lanning or Schumann at DC. What do you guys think happens with the Defensive Triumvirate of Lanning/Schumann/Muschamp? Will all 3 be back next year?

  60. Question for some of you fellow older Braves fans:

    How does this World Series impact your view of the 90s teams? I feel like we have now closed a door on that run. We are not bound by the “14 in a Row” “The Big Three” “Only One Ring”

  61. https://www.cbs46.com/news/former-mascot-chief-noc-a-homa-talks-braves-baseball-and-tomahawk-chop/article_38e31754-41df-11ec-900c-231c00d3554f.html?fbclid=IwAR36A5r2m6_pLpBgRHtnCGtxJQfvlNe2zSD7Lyjb9pBicqmlxFBWlJlG1qw

    If above works, then you can see Levi Walker (f / k / a “Chief Nocahoma”) and his view of chop and use of name Braves.

    I actually thought the guy had died and liked him. I wish he and the team had done a little better job of making him fit Cherokee / Muscogee culture.

  62. @74 – Boras and his clients, seems to me. Didn’t get the contracts they wanted and did not win a ring.

    As to the Dawg talk, Lanning and Schumann are both going to get looks, no doubt. No so sure about Muschamp. He’s tried twice and middling failed twice. You may be looking at the next DC of the Dawgs there if the others are snatched up. The price of success (and in Muschamp’s case, failure.)

    @76 – It impacts it none at all. As much as we might have been disappointed, it’s better to get to the mountaintop and be disappointed than never to be there at all. 90’s Braves were better than the 80’s Braves and aughts Braves. Now we have 4 (2 in Atlanta.) Now let’s not turn into the douchey Red Sox fans (though I’ll take the championships.) ;)

  63. @ 75,

    I expect Lanning to have some good offers. I think Muschamp had a big enough buy out and wants to get his kids out of school before he moves again. I don’t think Schumann is on quite as many lists for HC, but for DC, maybe. Tray Scott could also get some looks for DC.

    The other big thing Dawgs face is Monken.

    This is one of many reasons the sustained Saban excellence is the most amazing college football dynasty ever.

    But as long as they can focus on beating Alabama in the SEC Championship, then if a little coach chaos starts after that, this team can handle it. Around the bowl and down the hole, roll Tide, roll.

  64. Part of the deal with Waters and Pache is that, even though it seems like they’ve been around forever, they’re still so young. They were the youngest position players at Gwinnett last year, and except for Contreras and Langeliers’ cup of coffee, the youngest by years. They would’ve been the third and fourth youngest players at AA Mississippi. I’m not going to argue against any of the assertions above, though. They do feel a little like they’re in the organizational rear view mirror.

  65. @76

    I already saw them as pretty much separate entities. I’ve always kind of seen the 90s team, the early 2010s team and the current 2020-ish team as separate entities. Not much from this team had much to do with the 90s team.

    However I do think that the 2019 Division Series against the Cardinals threaded a tenuous string connecting the eras in a lot of people’s minds: spectacular playoff failure. I think that the 2020 playoff run (advancing for the first time in nine tries, then winning another series on top of that) and this year’s World Series title run have served to sever that tenuous string. I don’t think this hurts the memory of the 90s teams, though. In fact, it probably helps it some. These are the two Atlanta Braves eras in which a World Series title was won, rather it being seen by some folks as one long line of failure from 1996 to 2020.

    The era whose memory is definitely hurt by this is the early 2010s team, who accomplished very little in the scheme of things. I hope you liked that 2013 division title, because that was pretty much it.

  66. Fun fact: the Braves have won more World Series championships, 2010 – present, than the Yankees. I think that makes us a dynasty?

    It’s just so surreal to me that the 2021 Braves won the World Series. I could watch that clip of Soler hitting the HR over the train tracks forever.

  67. On the ‘90s teams, the pretty extensive turnover in position players was mitigated by the four Hall of Famers who were there for a decade. To me, what makes a team memorable, above and beyond a streak of division titles, is the guys you root for year in and year out – Freeman, Acuña, Albies, Fried, Riley, Matzek. As Cindy says, it’s super hard to keep a core like that together without spending crippling amounts of money. But at the end of the day, as a fan, I like getting to keep rooting for the guys I love. It ain’t easy, but that’s why they pay AA the big bucks.

  68. @76–interesting question. But I’ve got to say, my feelings about the 90’s teams are overwhelmingly positive. I’ve never thought of them as in any sense failures because they only won one WS. My perspective is shaped, I’m sure, by the first 25 years of ATL Braves history, in which they never won even one playoff game.
    Having your team in the race every year, and playing October baseball every year, is very special. So only the one WS title never tainted that for me.

    I’ve long said I’d rather follow a team like the Braves that was competitive every year, than the Marlins that had two World Championships but otherwise stunk.

    Having said that, winning it all is pretty fantastic! I’m still on a high from this year’s championship. I won’t complain if we repeat.

  69. This is one of many reasons the sustained Saban excellence is the most amazing college football dynasty ever.

    But as long as they can focus on beating Alabama in the SEC Championship, then if a little coach chaos starts after that, this team can handle it. Around the bowl and down the hole, roll Tide, roll.

    And it’s hard to say it’s anything other than luck that he was able to get a recovering alcoholic (Shark) and someone with debilitating narcissism (Kiffin) to be elite play callers for him on the other side of the ball for, what, 5-6 years? You don’t get to walk into the scratch-and-dent place and walk out with the prize every time. Bill O’Brien and Pete Golding are probably his worst coordinator tandem since his run started.

    Lanning and Monken could definitely end up HC’s, and Schumann could end up a DC somewhere. I had thought that Muschamp had interest in being Georgia’s DC. Kirby over the last couple years has really assembled an incredible staff. Matt Luke as an OL coach is just nutso (after having Pittman!).

    I’ll try to keep the college football talk to a minimum because I know some folks don’t love it, but I think this will be a boring Braves offseason, so I just want to pace myself.

  70. @76, good question. Until this team made it to the WS, I felt like a Braves team hadn’t been really successful since the second part of the 90s/early 00s run. Winning the WS after winning the division four years in a row confirms that we’re in a period of sustained success and sort of closes the door on the earlier period.

    I don’t think it diminishes those teams any; this year’s triumph just confirms what we’ve all told ourselves about the earlier teams, that the team that’s best in the regular season and the team that wins the WS aren’t necessarily the same, and that luck plays a role. It’s great to be on the other end of that difference, though.

  71. @62 VERY interesting. I know that most of us complain about Liberty Media but it could be worse. Meddling private owners are the worst (along with truly cheap owners of any sort). Over the years I would have liked to have seen LM put more of their investment profit in the team. Last offseason was a prime example. AA couldn’t afford to finish the bullpen or the bench due to the lack of profits in 2020. In the end it didn’t matter, but it looked bad for awhile. I just hope the new owner isn’t worse. LM will make a huge profit. My BATRA stock should be good.

  72. @89, yes! I am incredibly here for Dúnadan puns.

    To be honest I think this is going to be a pretty slow offseason for fans of all teams. The hot stove has been pretty muted in general the last few years, plus there’s the likely prospect of a labor stoppage during which absolutely nothing will happen outside of various fall and winter league action.

    We’re gonna need some more Keltners! I’d nominate Bartolo Colon, Wally Berger, and Dolf Luque.

  73. @85 As a long time Bama fan (well over 40 years), I have to agree with you that this year’s coaching staff is one of the worst I have seen. This year’s team i obviously less talented than last year’s but there is a lot of talent there. It is a different animal that requires a different approach and is actually a more classic Saban team than the Tua/Jones years teams were. Both O’Brien (especially O’Brien) and Golding are not game planning around the talent they have and, apparently, are game planning what they want the team to be like. And, for what it’s worth, I’m not sure Bama has had any sort of decent defense since Kirby left.

    The greatest college teams are defense first with a ball control offense (even better with a little quick strike thrown in). That describes Georgia this year. Alabama should be just as good but they are hampered by poor game-planning and play-calling.

  74. @88. Add Max Fried to that list, which I believe makes him only the third pitcher to ever capture the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in the same season — the others being Mike Hampton (2003) and Zack Greinke (2019).

  75. @76 Not at all. They are completely different. If the team hadn’t made it all the way this year, I wouldn’t connect it to the ’90’s crew.

    @77 Thanks for this. I’m glad to know that Levi and 80% of his tribe regard the name something that gives them pride. But what a disgrace that he was paid so poorly. He was every bit as much of a part of the team’s identity as Ted Turner.

  76. Honestly, for me, the World Series does provide a bit of, if not closure, then at least a sense of relief. It does feel like a monkey off the back, in a way.

  77. I’m with tfloyd. Getting to the casino without crashing the car is the big thing. Actually winning while you’re there is fantastically sweet, though. Sort of explains why you bothered to go there in the first place — it wasn’t for the buffet.

  78. One thing I want to predict about Georgia football, but promise not to delve deeply into the subject. I fully expect JT Daniel to come off the bench and replace Stetson Bennett if he has any problem against Alabama. Bennett has had a good year but with his height and overall arm strength I’m not sure what he can do if Alabama puts an all out rush on him. Last year Bama beat Georgia 41 to 24 and Bennett was 18 for 40 for 269 yards with 2 tds and 3 interceptions. Bama is nowhere near as good offensively as they were last year but their defense may be a little better (still not as good as Georgia’s).

    On Jan 9, 2018, Tua came off the bench to replace Jalen Hurts and led Alabama to a 26 to 23 win over Georgia in the National Championship game. Less than a year later on Dec 1, 2018 -in the SEC Championship game, Jalen Hurts came off the bench to replace Tua to lead Bama to a 35 to 28 victory. It will be interesting if Smart brings Daniel off the bench like Saban did with Tua/Hurts.

  79. Bama fans, you all are not allowed to complain about coaching.

    I think the longer UGA can keep JT Daniel on the bench, the better. That guy is made of glass.

  80. Ken Holtzman has his advocates, and a 27 WAR career.

    Ralph Branca is very popular among older Giants fans, but for the wrong reasons.

  81. 90 – Where do you get a $ amount to extrapolate from that article? Or are you just using Avg FA cost per WAR (which would not be comparing apples to apples of course).

  82. @75 Lanning won’t leave for a DC position. Texas tried last year. He’ll wait until he gets an HC job worth taking. Schumann ain’t DC material, IMHO. When Lanning leaves Muschamp will be DC.

  83. @76 As mentioned, the 95 team had four HOFers, with AJ on the edge.
    Made me think who on this team will reach that level. FF still has a way to go. RAJ, way too early to tell. Maybe nobody. As far as the ‘only one title’ issue. Its hard to win it all, especially with the expanded postseason. That was known at the time, and further evidenced by the many successful clubs since then that have not been able to win more than once. Sure is fun to win though.

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