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The Little Deals of the Rebuild (Part 2) – Updated

The Little Deals of the Rebuild (Part 2) – Updated

This is an update to a post from last offseason with more recent evaluations of these trades.

11. Cameron Maybin for Gabe Speier and Ian Krol

Maybin, in his two seasons since the trade, has produced a 2.0 fWAR and 1.2 fWAR. The problem is that he’s made $8M and $9M to do it. Krol, proving the theory that relievers are problematically volatile from year-to-year, turned his 0.9 fWAR production in 2016 to a -0.2 fWAR season. He’s currently a free agent and may end up taking a minor league deal.

12. Ryne Harper for Jose Ramirez

Acquired for nothing, Ramirez has been a serviceable reliever for his 2 years in Atlanta. Fangraphs doesn’t think very highly of Ramirez’s 2017 (-0.4 fWAR), but he has a strong K rate and could be a perfectly cromulent middle reliever for us in 2018. Not bad for getting him for nothing.

13. Christian Bethancourt for Ricardo Rodriguez and Casey Kelly

The noteworthy thing about this trade is that Bethancourt was tried out in the bullpen for San Diego after failing as a catcher, but that failed too and now he’s in Milwaukee’s system still trying as a reliever.

14. Jhoulys Chacin for Adam McCreery

Chacin’s 5 decent starts for Atlanta allowed them to receive a live arm in return. The arm is live enough that after a strong season at A+, the Braves felt like protecting him in the Rule-5 draft. He and Sanchez are intriguing lefty relief options that AA thinks could play a role at some point.

15. Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek for Brian Matusz and 2016 Competitive Balance Round B Pick

The noteworthy piece is the competitive balance B pick that would later turn into Brett Cumberland, a college catcher who had a strong season at A- and A+. He’s only 22, and he’s considered our 2nd or 3rd best catching prospect.

16. Kelly Johnson for Akeel Morris

Akeel Morris is 25 and had a strong season at AAA. Many fans thought he’d be a strong piece in Atlanta’s bullpen, especially after giving up 1 run in 7.1 IP. But he was left off the September roster, leaving many puzzled.

17. Dario Alvarez and Lucas Harrell for Travis Demeritte

This trade had looked like a real coup after Demeritte hit 28 HR between Texas and Atlanta’s A+ affiliates in 2016. But a putrid 2017 has taken the shine off of his prospect status. He’s still a top-20 guy, but he’ll have to rebound in 2018. Still definitely worth the trade.

18. Max Povse and Rob Whalen for Alex Jackson and Tyler Pike

Povse and Whalen still have not done much since leaving Atlanta, but Jackson solidified himself as the Braves’ top catching prospect with a strong hitting performance as a 22 year old at AA. His transition back to catching has been given lukewarm reviews, but he’s exactly the player you trade two middling prospects for. Pike gets drowned out in the waves of pitching prospect, but he’s a soft-tossing lefty who continues to matriculate through Atlanta’s system. He had a lackluster year at AA, but his K rate (10.37/9) is something to keep an eye on as a reliever.

19. Luke Dykstra, Chris Ellis, and John Gant for Jaime Garcia

They used their surplus of unexciting pitching prospects to get a solid year out of Garcia. He made 18 starts for Atlanta and was then traded for a starting pitching prospect with upside, Huascar Ynoa.

20. Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith for Thomas Burrows and Luiz Gohara

This is the biggest trade of all of the little deals. Gohara is a physically huge prospect who is also a huge prospect. Gohara ended up getting all the way to Atlanta, making stops at A+, AA, and AAA. He wasn’t a helium prospect; he was attached to a rocketship. Some expect him to be Atlanta’s top pitcher in 2018. Burrows is also an intriguing relief left-handed prospect. This trade was a huge get for Atlanta.


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The Little Deals of the Rebuild (Part 1) – Updated

The Little Deals of the Rebuild (Part 1) – Updated

This post was originally written last offseason, but with another year that’s passed, some trades look a little different:

1. Tommy La Stella for Arodys Vizcaino

This trade continues to look favorable for the Braves. Vizzy had another strong year as a late-inning reliever for the Braves. He’s still not quite the Closer(TM) that the Braves have thought they were trading for (twice). But he enters his age-28 season, Jim Johnson is no longer with the team, and until AJ Minter asserts his dominance over the 9th inning, Vizzy should have a hold on the closer role.

2. Anthony Varvaro for Aaron Kurcz and Cash

This trade hasn’t changed. Maybe the Braves put the money in a good growth-stock mutual fund, but other than that, this hasn’t helped or hurt the Braves at all.

3. David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve for Manny Banuelos

Banuelos was released in 2016, so there’s nothing more to report there other than he had a lackluster year for the Angels’ AAA affiliate. David Carpenter is out of baseball. Chasen Shreve continues to be an inconsistent but mostly effective reliever for New York, though even though Banuelos never worked, this was a risk worth making.

4. Kyle Kubitza for Nate Hyatt and Ricardo Sanchez

Kubitza is 27 and most likely will never appear in the big leagues again (short cup of coffee in 2015 didn’t go well), but Ricardo Sanchez still continues to both dazzle and disappointed. Now 20 years old, the Braves actually put him on the 40-man to protect him from Rule 5. So, yes, he’s been around long enough to need protection, but he’s still young enough to deserve his prospect status and intrigue in his left-handedness and high-90s fastball. Probably a reliever in the Braves’ plans, but he’s still just as valuable of a lottery ticket as he was 3 years ago.

5. David Hale and Gus “Pickles” Schlosser for Jose Briceno and Chris O’Dowd

All of these players have not done anything of significance, and all but Briceno is out of baseball.

6. Alberto Callaspo, Juan Jaime, Eric Stults, and Ian Thomas for Juan Uribe and Chris Withrow

The Braves got some mileage out of Chris Withrow, but he was DFA’ed last offseason and appear in the major leagues this past season.

7. Phil Gosselin for Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo

The star of the show here is Touki, and he continues to be a top prospect the Braves are excited about. Now 21 years old, he struggled at A+, but after being promoted to AA, he pitched very well for a then 20 year old by putting in a 3.18 ERA in 7 GS with a 10.0 K/9 and low HR and hit totals. Still walking too many (5/9), but

8. In separate deals, Cody Martin, Caleb Dirks, Jordan Paroubeck, Garret Fulencheck, and Aaron Kurcz for International Bonus Pool Money

The international bonus pool money was used to land Derian Cruz and Cristian Pache. Pache was ranked as the #57th prospect in all of baseball by Keith Law, and while his power is still almost non-existent, he is an exciting prospect who has 4 tools right now. If their young bodies can develop some power, both of these prospects could be exciting, especially Pache.

9. Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe for John Gant and Rob Whalen

Gant and Whalen went on to new teams as a result of subsequent trades. Whalen had a real down year in Seattle’s system (6.58 ERA at AAA), and Gant had a mediocre year at AAA and was sub-replacement level for St. Louis at the big league level in 17 IP. Whalen is only 23, so he’s still intriguing, but Gant is 25 and the league may not be as tricked by his delivery as some thought it would be.

10. Chris Johnson for Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, and Cash

This trade was meant to open up player payroll in 2017. You could say that the money saved was used towards the efforts of acquiring R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon, and Jaime Garcia.

To be continued…

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What If The Braves Didn’t Rebuild (Part 2)

What If The Braves Didn’t Rebuild (Part 2)

From the end of the Part 1:

At this stage, the 2015-2016 offseason, it gets far off from reality where I feel it best just to highlight the condition of the time based on the payroll, roster, and prospects they have at these junctures and pause here to let you decide what they should have or should not have done. I personally think that it wasn’t a slam dunk to rebuild. I think had they made some smart trades, found some relievers here and there, and developed a reclamation project or two, they would have still been competitive in 2015, and they would use their resources to continue to keep the team competitive.

So here we are at the 2015-2016 offseason. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton have left for free agency. The Braves will have the draft position based on their 2015 finish, but they’ll have the picks from those free agency departures. Julio Teheran had a step back at the age of 24, but Alex Wood (who was not traded, of course) has sort of a breakout year. And in our scenario, they pretty much emptied what was left of the farm to acquire the third cost-controlled starting pitcher. Otherwise, the rotation is in a rough spot. The outfield lineup is pretty much non-existent other than BJ Upton’s slight recovery in 2015. You also don’t have a third baseman, but you have Evan Gattis, Freddie Freeman, Tommy La Stella, and Andrelton Simmons. Not a bad core, especially if the Braves would have followed through and still signed AJ Pierzynski for the 2015 season. While his age would show and his career would fade quickly in 2016, they undoubtedly re-sign him for 2016. BJ Upton is still under contract, and after his recovery in 2015, they’re going to obviously run him out there.

The farm is actually in better condition than you might think. Ozzie Albies would be your #1 prospect, and Kolby Allard, who would still be drafted with the 14th pick in the 2015 draft, would be your #2 prospect. But since they probably had to trade Lucas Sims and/or Jose Peraza to acquire the cost-controlled starter, Mike Soroka is your #3 prospect. From there, it’s bleak. Braxton Davidson, Manny Banuelos (his acquisition is probably a deal Coppy makes, contending or rebuilding), Ricardo Sanchez, Lucas Herbert, Jason Hursh, and Mauricio Cabrera form a heavy portion of your top 10 list. But one of our presuppositions is, of course, that Coppy is the GM, so you have to assume there will still be some AA/AAA low ceiling guys traded for higher ceiling guys that are lower down the system. They probably don’t take injured guys like Jacob Lindgren or Daniel Winkler in the Rule 5 and instead settle for less talented but healthy relief types. A guy like Andrew Thurman undoubtedly gets traded for a higher ceiling pitcher. So the philosophy is still there except they don’t have the benefit of consolidating so many resources in the minor league system; more major league talent is necessary.

The amount committed in 2016 payroll is interesting. They wouldn’t have traded for Carlos Quentin’s contract, Dan Uggla’s contract expires, they probably don’t trade Chris Johnson’s contract for Nick Swisher’s and Michael Bourn’s, and Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp don’t exist. So realistically, they only have about $55M committed. So while they have holes, they have ample resources with which to replace them. You could re-sign Justin Upton if you want to. Sign a free agent third baseman. Sign a starting pitcher because, after all, only Julio Teheran is making any money. The bullpen consists of Craig Kimbrel will make $13M in 2016, and there’s no other long-term money committed to the bullpen. What makes the prospects of 2016 look bleak is the moves they made after they decided to rebuild: the trade for Hector Olivera and then Matt Kemp, the money still owed to Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, and the signing of Nick Markakis. If those monies are uncommitted, the only significant salaries they’re on the hook for are Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, BJ Upton, Chris Johnson, Julio Teheran (still only $3.3M in 2016), and Craig Kimbrel. So while no one can realistically speculate how exactly the Braves would field a competitive team in 2016, it’s easy to say that there are resources with a few top prospects and a stout draft class coming up in 2016.

The point of this is not to say whether or not the Braves should have rebuilt. There are so many factors that influence how things would play out. Perhaps the strongest statement I would make is that the rebuild’s completion was delayed at least a year because of the moves after they decided to rebuild. Oh well, there’s always 2019.

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What If The Braves Didn’t Rebuild? (Part 1)

What If The Braves Didn’t Rebuild? (Part 1)

In October 2014, the decision was either already made or being made that the Braves would sell off most players with value and enter a rebuild. They were coming off a 79-win season, and they had determined that the farm system was barren, they had bad contracts dragging down the payroll (BJ Upton, Chris Johnson), and if they were going to do it, they had better do it now since Jason Heyward and Justin Upton would undoubtedly leave in free agency the following winter.

At the time, they had a solid core of players. Andrelton Simmons was the best defensive shortstop in baseball and signed to a long extension. Freddie Freeman was 24, also signed to an extension but a more favorable one, and after contributing 4.1 fWAR that year, he was on his way to becoming one of the more valuable players in baseball. Julio Teheran was only 23, and he contributed a 3.2 fWAR season. Alex Wood was 23, and Craig Kimbrel was the best closer in baseball and signed to a team-friendly deal for an elite closer. So you had a lot of pieces in place.

I mentioned the issues of impending free agency for its top players and the bad contracts, and the farm system looked bleak as well. If you looked at a prospect list at any point of the last few years, you’d see a depressing contrast if you look at the 2014 lists. The top prospects were Sean Gilmartin, Lucas Sims, Christian Bethancourt, Jason Hursh, and Jose Peraza. That’s a depressing list, but if you squint really hard, you saw some pieces who ended up being very interesting down the road. Baseball America listed the best defensive infielder as Johan Camargo. Best fastball was Shae Simmons. And it’s extremely important to remember that there were two players signed by the previous administration that would play a significant role in the future of the team: Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies. Acuna was only 16 years old at the time, and he had not played an inning of professional baseball. Ozzie Albies was 17, and he had already had a very good season in Rookie ball for his age. By the next year, Ozzie Albies was the #3 prospect on many lists, and was only #3 because the Braves would eventually trade for Dansby Swanson and Sean Newcomb. Ronald Acuna would not be on even a top 30 prospect list until 2016.

The purpose of this post to examine whether or not they should have, based on the information and resources the Braves had at the time, rebuild the club. There are a few presuppositions in place:

• Frank Wren is still fired, and John Coppolella would still become the GM.
• Payroll would stay the same, but draft position would have diminished had the Braves not rebuilt
• All players would have continued their development track.
• Sun Trust Park would have still been build (it was already in development when the rebuild started)
• The economics of baseball would be the same

So we’re picking back up at the end of the 2014. You have your farm, you have your roster, and you have a team coming off a 79-83 season. There were some expiring contracts at the end of 2014: Ervin Santana’s $14M, Aaron Harang’s $1M, and Gavin Floyd’s $4M. But arb raises and escalating contracts would also cost the Braves $12M or so from 2014 to 2015. So you would only have an additional $5M or so to add to a roster that would have looked like this:

C – Evan Gattis
1B – Freddie Freeman
2B – Tommy La Stella
SS – Andrelton Simmons
3B – Chris Johnson
LF – Justin Upton
CF – BJ Upton
RF – Jason Heyward
SP – Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Minor (they expected him to be back for 2015 before they decided to rebuild), Question Mark, Question Mark
RP – Craig Kimbrel, Shae Simmons, David Carpenter, Jordan Walden, Anthony Varvaro, David Hale, and Luis Avilan

So, you have a 79-win team that loses 2/5 of its starting rotation, and they will later find out Mike Minor wouldn’t be ready to start the season, and then they find out in May he’ll need his second Tommy John surgery. They didn’t know that definitively at the time, but that’s what ultimately happened. And as it plays out, the only prospect from their list to make a positive contribution to a team is the eventually traded Sean Gilmartin with the Mets. I assume they would have tried Gilmartin in the rotation. So they probably sign another journeyman for the rotation, and they max out that $5M on another starting pitcher. I have to throw a caveat in here that inevitably there will be improvements to the roster through flyers, Spring Training invites, etc. In reality, they signed AJ Pierzynski for $2M, and there’s probably room in my potentially incorrect budget to do something like that. They traded a pile of slop for Juan Uribe and Chris Withrow. Because they’re contending, you have to think they’re more willing to part with parts to improve the 2015 roster.

And so continues my speculation for what happens next. They’re trying to contend, so they trade some of their top prospects to potentially get another starting pitching. We’re coming off offense being down league wide, so they probably are able to trade from their prospects to get another starting pitcher.

So they set tail for 2015. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton have the contract years they end up having. Andrelton’s bat continues to develop and he has his 3.2 fWAR year. The rotation holds together, the bullpen pitches how it ultimately pitches, the Braves actually win 92 games, and whatever happens in the playoffs happens.

Now the bloodbath starts. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton leave for free agency. Mike Minor is done forever as far as Braves purposes are concerned. But you didn’t sign Nick Markakis, you didn’t trade for Hector Olivera and thus trade away Alex Wood and Jose Peraza (though you may have traded Peraza and others to get a SP in the previous offseason, so I’m going to say he’s gone). But you still signed Kolby Allard because the draft position didn’t change, and you still drafted Mike Soroka because Ervin Santana had left the previous offseason. Oh, and you signed Kevin Maitan during the year.

So Heyward, Upton, and the SP rental are gone, so you’ve cleared around $25-27M from your payroll, and your roster looks like this:

C – Gattis
1B – Freeman
2B – La Stella
SS – Simmons
3B – Johnson
CF – BJ Upton

Rotation: Teheran, Wood, SP you traded prospects for, Gilmartin (I deviate from history here because the Braves are desperate), HOLE

Bullpen: Kimbrel, Luis Avilan, Walden, Carpenter, Varvaro, HOLE, HOLE

Top Prospects: Albies, Allard, Maitan, Soroka, Sims, Acuna, Herbert, Sanchez (they still trade Kubitza for Sanchez in this; that just seems like something Coppy would have done anyway), Weigel, Pache, Cruz, Camargo

You still have a solid farm regardless of whether they rebuilt. And remember, you get two comp picks because of Upton and Heyward. But for clarity, because you either didn’t trade for them or get a pick associated with a trade, you don’t have Dansby Swanson, Sean Newcomb, Max Fried, Luiz Gohara, Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, Ender Inciarte, Alex Jackson, Rio Ruiz, Dustin Peterson, Anfernee Seymour, and AJ Minter.

The Braves then undoubtedly spend around $18M in free agency after paying for arb raises and escalating contracts (Andrelton, Kimbrel, and Teheran all tick up in salary). But your guess is as good as mine what they do. They need a left fielder, right fielder, another starter, relief help, and even with all of that, it’s a very mediocre roster. But you’re trying to compete, so you probably trade from some of your prospect surplus (not like today where the prospect vault is puckered up tight). And because you have those comp picks, the Braves know that they’ll draft something similar to Ian Anderson, Kyle Mueller, Joey Wentz, Bryse Wilson, Brett Cumberland, and Drew Harrington even if they have a much lower draft position. You have to adjust considerably there, but like I said, they still draft similar to how Coppy drafted, so you have to feel like they would be pretty confident in their draft coming up.

At this stage, the 2015-2016 offseason, it gets far off from reality where I feel it best just to highlight the condition of the time based on the payroll, roster, and prospects they have at these junctures and pause here to let you decide what they should have or should not have done. I personally think that it wasn’t a slam dunk to rebuild. I think had they made some smart trades, found some relievers here and there, and developed a reclamation project or two, they would have still been competitive in 2015, and they would use their resources to continue to keep the team competitive.

Part 2 focuses on what 2016 and beyond look like, but in the meantime, what say you?

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Who Will Be The Next Braves Hall of Famer?

Who Will Be The Next Braves Hall of Famer?

With Andruw Jones’ current voting numbers, it doesn’t look promising that he’ll succeed Chipper Jones as the next Braves’ player in the Hall. Could time on the ballot benefit him? Absolutely, but let’s assume the voters continue to think that his early exit and 67 career fWAR isn’t enough to enshrine him. Who could be next? The obvious answer would be Freddie Freeman, but is it so obvious?

First, let me address that it will probably not be Tim Hudson. Tim amassed 52 career fWAR in his 18 year career, which puts him with the likes of Mark Buerhle, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Appier, Roy Oswalt, and Bartolo Colon, guys that probably won’t make the Hall. Of more historical examples, you’ve got Vida Blue and people you probably haven’t heard of because, of course, they weren’t noteworthy enough to make the Hall. Luis Tiant, perhaps a name you’re more familiar with, produced a few more fWAR, and he couldn’t get through the committee. So we probably won’t see Tim in Cooperstown.

As a point of formality, I don’t see anyone else eliciting a conversation. Andrelton Simmons, entering his age-28 season, has already amassed 19.7 fWAR, but let’s not re-open those wounds. If he played until he was 41 like Ozzie Smith did, and his bat continues to develop, he could get into the 70 fWAR territory that really gets players some consideration. But even if he did, he wouldn’t have Atlanta on his cap, so it’s moot.

So, really, it’s Freddie. He’s entering his age-28 season, and he’s accumulated 25.3 fWAR so far. By Chipper Jones’ age-28 season, he was at 27.4 fWAR, and he debuted at age 23 like Freddie did. Within that time, Chipper had produced two 7 fWAR seasons, something Freddie has not been able to do, but Chipper would not have another one until a resurgent age-36 season. So let’s assume that Freddie continues to have a 5 fWAR peak for the next 5 seasons, then he begins a traditional decline. That would give him around 50 fWAR by age-33, then it would depend on how he declines. If he can muster a graceful decline for the next 5 seasons at 3.5 fWAR, then he’ll end his age-38 season with 67.5 fWAR. At that point, he would be right on the bubble with guys like Jim Thome (69 fWAR and currently receiving 93% of the vote) and Edgar Martinez (65.5 fWAR and currently getting 80% of the vote).

But if not Freddie Freeman, then no one else in the current crop of Braves appears headed for a Hall of Fame trajectory. But if you’d like another name, how about Ronald Acuna, baby?

Is fWAR too simple to determine a player’s Hall of Fame credentials? Have I over-stated or under-stated his peak and/or decline? Heaven forbid, did I forget anyone?

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Alex Anthopolous Interview on MLB Network Radio

Alex Anthopolous Interview on MLB Network Radio

AA was on MLB Network Radio talking about a variety of subjects: Acuna’s timeline, free agent 3Bs, Yelich/Realmuto, scouting, and miscellaneous prospects. Thanks to Braves Reddit for capturing it. Some highlights:

Host: Is there any chance he (Acuna) makes your team out of Spring Training?

AA: We’re still talking to free agents and exploring trades for outfielders for backfill depth. … He did not have a ton at the high levels of the minor leagues. … An ideal scenario is he would get more time.

He tried to dial back some of the expectations people have for Acuna in 2018.

Host: Is there a guy … you could with the way the market sets up that you could invest this year for someone you might still have long-term and do it a year early?

AA: Something we’ve kicked around. (Talks about the Kemp trade tying up 2018 payroll) That it isn’t to say we haven’t explored it with agents if we thought there were some guys that we thought were longer term fits that we could backload with the payroll space in 2019.

MLB Hot Stove rumors: Yu Darvish throws a ‘mystery team’ into his mix of suitors

If you tie both together, which is obviously a huge stretch, and remember that LA traded for Darvish while AA was there, he could be potentially referring to a backloaded Yu Darvish deal. Who knows?

He later talked about wanting to bring in a full-time 3B. Mentions that Johan Camargo played really well when he came up last year, and “Ruiz is someone internally that a lot of individuals felt like he is ready to make the next step and needs an opportunity to play every day and 2018 could be a very good year for him.” Trade bait?

But this was probably the most interesting thing to me. When asked about Alex Jackson, he said, “Great deal by John Hart and his group here to acquire him.” Uhhh, what? “John Hart and his group”. Is John Coppolella being scrubbed from the annals of Braves history? How did we go from here and here where you have quotes from Coppy and no mention of John Hart to no mention of Coppy at all? I speculate that the Braves would like for everyone to forget John Coppolella ever existed. Well, sorry, it doesn’t work that way. We’re not going to forget that you fired 2 GMs in 3 years.

He later says his rotation, in his mind, is Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy, Sean Newcomb, and Luiz Gohara, though he said Snitker would decide the order. Perhaps it’s noteworthy that he mentions McCarthy third and divided the five names into two groups: “three guys we expect to start” were Teheran/Folty/McCarthy and “frontrunners” Newcomb/Gohara. Mentions Max Fried and Lucas Sims, but does not mention Scott Kazmir. He refers to Kolby Allard as someone “who can emerge and come quick.” Same thing with Kyle Wright. He was very complimentary to Mike Soroka but didn’t include those accolades with Soroka.

Finally, he said he still lives in LA on the weekends and obviously works in Atlanta during the week.

Feel free to listen to the interview yourself:

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What To Do About Third Base?

What To Do About Third Base?

If Opening Day were tomorrow, it seems Johan Camargo would be the starting third baseman. The Braves’ writers have both praised his potential ability to handle a full-time spot and his versatility. If I had to guess, I would think they would want to upgrade third base and use Camargo in a utility role. The best potential options:

Free Agents
Todd Frazier – He would provide a level of consistency at the position as he’s averaged a 3.4 fWAR these past 6 seasons. He’s 31, and he’s coming off a .213/.344/.428 season where he maintained his average defense and produced 3 fWAR. He’s rightly pursuing a multi-year deal, and he should probably get it, but if he slides into a 2-year commitment or even a pillow contract, the Braves might be able to afford him.

Eduardo Nunez – A 2+ fWAR player these last two years, he’d be priceless the type you wouldn’t overpay for, keep the commitment short, and would fill the position adequately. He rode a strong BABIP to a .313/.341/.460 line last year along with 24 stolen bases. He’s played for the Yankees, Twins, and Giants, and if he’s willing to come to the NL East, he could be used.

Neil Walker – Another consistent, safe option who may decide to settle for a shorter commitment. He’s only played second base consistently for his career, but as the market continues to move slowly, players like him may be open to a short-term position change to maximize their earnings. Another player with a consistently above average career (2.9 fWAR the past 4 years), he contributed a .265/.362/.439 line last year.

Eugenio Suarez – Coming off a 4.1 fWAR year, the rebuilding Reds might be looking to move him once the free agent market crystalizes. He’s under club control and would be arbitration eligible after this year, so there’s some long-term value to him for the Braves. I doubt, though, the Braves value would him as a top third baseman, so he might be a difficult player to value.

Josh Donaldson – Certainly worth listing considering the need and the Braves’ ability to offer what is necessary to get him, but he’ll be owed close to $20M next year and the Braves almost certainly don’t have it in the budget. Along with that, he’s only under contract for 2018. But, hey, Alex Anthapolous has made plenty of big trades, so it might not be fair to put anything past him.

The difference between Johan Camargo and who they could acquire to play third base full-time may not be great, but the difference between Johan Camargo and the bench player he would replace is a big difference. One would have to assume third base will work itself out in the next couple weeks.

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The New Guy

The New Guy

Alex has told you that I’ll be serving as editor for the site going forward. I’ve been able to do some writing here in the last few years, and you obviously see me in the comments on the daily. I’m happy to do it since this is my favorite blog on the internet, it’s been my go-to for as far back as my internet days go, and I really like the cast of characters here.

I seem to remember reading this site as far back as when I was in middle school. Not all of the comments survived Mac’s conversion of the site, but the first comment I can find was June 2003. I would have been 15 at the time, and I’m 31 now. I’ve enjoyed this site as a high schooler, a college student, a 20-something, and now in my 30’s. I definitely remember my Mom walking into the computer room and saying, “You need to stop reading that Braves Journal and go do your homework.”

Just a little bit more about me. My name is Rob Copenhaver. I’m 31, as I mentioned, and I sell real estate in St. Petersburg, FL. I’ve been a Braves fan as far back as I can remember, and I’ve resisted the urges to become a Tampa Bay Rays fan even though my home is about 10 minutes from the Trop. My earliest memory of the Braves was Dwight Smith’s walk-off grand slam in 1995. As a result, for a long time, I thought Dwight Smith was the best player on the Braves. We grow up, don’t we? I’m also a big Florida Gators fan. I’m married, and we have 2 dogs. Over the last couple years, I’ve become not so much an overall sports fan as simply a major league baseball and college football fan, and the older I get, the more I just want to be a student of baseball, not so much just a fan.

As for Mac, I never met the man, but I felt like I knew him really well. His sense of humor, his knowledge, his creativity, and his overall temperament made this site fun. He always had a special place in my heart. I remember the day I read that he had passed. I went to a quiet spot, and I cried. I cried like I lost a friend. I did lose a friend. But fortunately, a lot of the style of Braves Journal has continued over 5 years later. There are bigger blogs. They have the affiliation of large networks and the benefit of search engine optimization and all sorts of things that make it difficult for a small, independent blog to reach their size. But they don’t have this.

Going forward, I’m hoping to bring back some things that Mac did well. I’d like to introduce similar things like his “Road from Bristol” and “64 Worst Atlanta Braves” (certainly some recent names we can add to that list). And we have plenty of SEC football fans, so you’ll see some more SEC content on here. But otherwise, you’ll see the same place. I wouldn’t mind a few more people joining us.

I appreciate you letting me help.

Full article @ The New Guy

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Please Welcome the New Editor of Braves Journal: Rob Cope

Please Welcome the New Editor of Braves Journal: Rob Cope

I wanted to announce some news: I am stepping down as editor of Braves Journal, and Rob Cope will be taking over, effective immediately. I’ve been largely absent from the site this year, as I just haven’t had the time to give to the site that I should. And Braves Journal deserves an editor who will give it the attention it deserves. I simply can’t think of a better person to run it.

Braves Journal was founded in 1998 — it is, we believe, the longest continually-running American sports blog, just as the Braves are the longest continually-running American sports franchise — and I’ve been here since 2005. I stepped in to become the editor in 2012, after Mac passed. I’ve tried to keep things as they were, though of course times have changed, the internet has moved on, the Braves have churned through three GMs, and a lot of our old buddies are no longer on this site. I am tremendously proud that Braves Journal is still here, and Rob is exactly the right person to bring Braves Journal into its third decade.

This is goodbye but it certainly isn’t farewell — I’m still here, and I’ll still be around. If Dansby Swanson ever gets off the schneid, you will definitely see me in the comments, predicting that he’ll turn into Renteria for the 93rd time. One of these days the Braves will not suck, and I believe in my namesake up in the front office.

As Rob says, this is a great bar. I love ALL YOU GUYS. And all you ladies too!

Be excellent to each other.

Party on.

Full article @ Please Welcome the New Editor of Braves Journal: Rob Cope

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2016 Amateur Draft Summary

2016 Amateur Draft Summary

If you thought the 2015 draft produced some significant results in a short period of time, wait until you see the 2016 draft. Of all of Coppy’s well-(or overly-)documented shortcomings, he produced 3 strong drafts in his time here. In terms of pure talent who has established itself in the system, the 2016 class looks even better than 2015’s.

Ian Anderson – 1st Round – After all of the drama about “did they or didn’t they” in regards to improper behavior in these drafts have ended, and no wrong-doing was punished in them, it’s fair to say that the Braves really added a lot of top-end pitching at the top of this draft. The headliner is Ian Anderson who was taken 3rd overall. He appears to have been a signability pick, to an extent, as he went underslot and rankings had him lower, but he was good enough to be the #66 prospect by Baseball America in after 2016 and #50 in 2017. He hasn’t adjusted to pro ball quite the way you’d like from a durability standpoint, and he only pitched 83 IP in 2017, but he’s been pitching like a young, top prospect when he is on the mound. In those 83 IP, he posted a K rate of 11 per 9, and gave up 7.5 H/9. But as is a theme with young pitchers, his walk rate was problematic as he had a 6.16 BB/9 last year. He made 20 starts, but only averaged around 4 IP per start, so even though he’s only 19, he really has to begin to stretch out soon.

Joey Wentz – 1st Round Supplemental – Wentz isn’t considered a top 100 yet, and he’s a little older than Anderson (he turned 20 at the end of the season), but his professional results have been much more advanced. Another tall lefty (6’5”), his A- showing was simply much better: 131 IP in 26 GS, 10.39 K/9, 3.14 BB/9, and kept the ball in the park (.27 HR/9). For his first professional season, you have to be encouraged. He could find his way to AA next year, and could be in position to challenge for a roster spot in 2019. He’s by far the most advanced prospect from this draft.

Kyle Muller – 2nd Round – Another tall lefty starting pitcher (6’6”), he has yet to pitch into a deep inning count like Anderson. He was a two-way star in high school, and there was debate about where he’d be used best. The Braves chose the mound, and when he’s been on, it’s been good: 9.25 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and .94 HR/9. Only 47 total IP in 2017, but he started to increase his workload late in the year, and should find his way to A- next year.

Brett Cumberland – 2nd Round Supplemental – They continue to take catchers towards the top of the draft, and Cumberland’s been the best catcher taken so far. Cumberland is a 22 year old switch-hitting catcher who’s also split time at DH. He started off strong in his first professional season hitting .263/.432/.531 in 236 PAs at A-. He had tons of hit by pitches and tons of home runs. His bat slowed, though, at A+ as his power diminished greatly and his walk percentage was nearly cut in half. He has had a strong showing in the Australian League, though, hitting .273/.363/.494 with 4 HRs in 84 PAs. He hasn’t been behind the plate much, but his team is carrying 5 catchers.

Drew Harrington – 3rd Round – The fourth pitcher taken in the draft, he started off strong but faded in his first full season. A slightly shorter lefty (6’2”), he started the year in A+, and finished the season with a strong FIP (3.13) with a 7.0 K/9 and 2.83 BB/9. He also gets his fair share of groundballs (59.5%), and only gave up a miniscule .13 HR/9. You have to love the peripherals in his first full season, but it will be interesting to see if Atlanta projects him as a starting with all of the competition in the system.
Bryse Wilson – 4th Round – Like Harrington, Wilson had a strong season of peripherals. 20 years old, he pitched in A- all year, and finished with a 9.13 K/9, 2.43 BB/9, and also kept the home runs down with a .53 HR/9. He has garnered a lot of attention because his ERA was better than Harrington’s, and he had a higher K rate, but you have to love both of these guys as depth in an extremely crowded system for starting pitchers.

Tyler Neslony – 9th Round – 23 years old, he’s a lefty who plays first and corner outfield. If I wrote this a month ago, I may not have as much to say, and he may not be on this list. They pushed him aggressively as he started the year in A+ and hit really well (.309/.378/.442), but he really struggled in his AA assignment: .194/.289/.243. But he’s absolutely raked in his short time in Australia (.348/.439/.587), so he’s recovered from his late season struggles. He could be a sleeper as a bench outfielder at the major league level, and he’ll probably repeat AA with a chance to factor into our short-term plans.

Corbin Clouse – Round 27 – A real find in the later rounds. Clouse has developed some attention after his encouraging stints at A+ and AA. His walk rate is atrocious (5.37/9), but his K rate is in the double digits (11.12/9), and he only gave up 2 HR in 57 IP. If he can improve his walk rate next year, you could see him earning a September callup in 2018.

This class has a blend of high end talent and steady, projectable performers. Though light on position players, all 5 SPs mentioned performing well in the low minors has to encourage the Braves. There’s no game-changing position player, but Cumberland and Neslony are interesting as college bats with an encouraging first year. And considering some teams don’t produce a single major leaguer in a particular draft class, even someone like Clouse in the 27th round already pitching well in AA shows that Coppy put together some strong drafts.

Full article @ 2016 Amateur Draft Summary

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