Braves Armchair GMs, Part 1

Braves Armchair GMs, Part 1

Boy…life is tough being a keyboard GM. We don’t have to worry about trying to cheat but do it to where we don’t get caught. We don’t have to worry about other GM’s telling us to go jump in a lake when our trade proposals are ABSURD! We just put it out there for the masses and hope it gets done!  However, our armchair GMs have taken needs for our club and needs for other teams into consideration and have at least come up with plausible ideas on matches. Agree. Disagree. It’s all good. These pieces get us thinking and that’s what matters!

Our 1st Armchair GM is Will Soprano (@WillSoprano via Twitter) and he’s put a whopper on us, ladies and gents!  Give it a read and let him know in the comments (respectfully, of course) what you think about his idea.

Will Soprano, Atlanta Braves Armchair GM

If the Coppy fiasco and first comments from Alex Anthopolous have taught us anything, it’s just how important the ‘supporting cast’ is within an MLB front office. Whether through talking to those close to the situation, reading reports, or simply just listening to Anthopolous’s first press conference, it is clear that the Braves have been working hard on the plan for 2018 and beyond.

Many of us think the front office is working a directive straight from the GM, and while that may be true in many instances, most of the front office employees have their own jobs and some leeway to do what’s necessary for the betterment of the team. That’s been on full display in these rocky times, as the front office actually did most of the offseason planning without a GM even in place.

Those front office employees that usually go unnamed aren’t just analytics based, some come from scouting. The two sides use their skills to comb through opposing team’s organization and their own organization (Braves) to help build trade packages, begin conversations with other teams about potential trades, etc. So while the GM gets all of the credit, much of the hard work is done by those unnamed front office executives that did the scouting, information gathering, and relationship building.

Recently, someone who writes about the Chicago Cubs tweeted that the Cubs have and have had interest in Ender Inciarte. That sent Braves Twitter into a frenzy as you might expect. It got me to thinking as well; could the Braves swing a trade for Ian Happ without giving up Ender? Before we get into that, I want to provide some historical connections between the front offices.

By my count, the Braves and Cubs have made 3 trades and 5 total transactions (one purchase and one rule 5 selection) since 2010. While that might not sound like much, it is for 2 teams. Not to mention all of the rumors dating back to Randall Delgado (for Ryan Dempster) and others; those never came to fruition but were, in fact, on the table. These two front offices like working together, and given each team’s current needs, they’re a virtual perfect fit to swing a doozy of a trade.

Why the Braves Would

The Braves have acquired, whether by trade draft or waiver claim, a trove of pitching depth both in the minors and at the majors. The front office has always said this is currency to add hitting when ready. Well, the team is ready; it’s near contention and needing just a few more pieces to fall into place.

Why the Cubs Would

The Cubs drafted hitters. Going the free agent route for pitching they added John Lackey and Jon Lester to pair with Jake Arrietta (trade) and Kyle Hendricks. Last year the Cubs swung a trade for Jose Quintana, but are now down to just Lester Hendricks and Quintana in their rotation for 2018. Again the Cubs need pitching and with large contracts handed out to Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and Jon Lester… along with arbitration raises to Kris Bryant and eventually Wilson Contreras (plus needs in the bullpen), the Cubs are not a cheap team. Cost controlled and affordable pitching is their biggest need in my opinion.

How it Works

The Braves have controlled, affordable talent that the Cubs covet. The Cubs have young, controlled and affordable hitters the Braves covet. The match is seemingly so obvious it won’t happen, but I’m optimistic so I’ll continue with my trade proposal

The Trade

Braves Receive: Ian Happ (OF), Mark Zagunis (OF)

Cubs Receive: Julio Teheran(SP), Mike Foltynewicz(SP), Nick Markakis (OF)

Why These Players Make Sense for the Cubs

Teheran and Foltynewicz are both young, affordable starting pitchers. While both are not number 1 or 2 type starters, they wouldn’t be asked to be that in Chicago. The Cubs have Lester and Quintana for that; Teheran would be an excellent number 3 and Foltynewicz can be further developed while being their 5th starter, behind Kyle Hendricks. The Cubs have shown through their selections of pitchers they value control, so while

Foltynewicz has only shown flashes of this, I believe he can further improve in that area. Julio Teheran is obviously one of the top 50 starting pitchers in all of MLB, sometimes a little better and sometimes a little worse. In his young career, he’s already had 3 years worth 2.5 WAR or more (two at 3 or better). Every year his BB/9 have gone down save for last year’s odd year in which it ballooned from 1.96% to 3.44%, a year which had him struggling at home and pitching well on the road.

Mike Foltynewicz’s inconsistencies have been discussed at great length, and in doing so we’ve gotten away from the value he brings. Last year he was worth 1.8 WAR (more than Julio Teheran’s down year) and is due roughly $3MM in his first turn through arbitration, meaning he already has excess value. His k/9 ticked up to 8.36% from 8.10% and his hr/9 dropped to 1.17% from 1.31%. If you believe he can continue trending in the right direction on these key metrics, then you’re looking at a solid number 3 pitcher in the majors, on affordable contracts each of the next 3 years.

The inclusion of Nick Markakis is twofold. For one, the Cubs need a stabilizing outfielder that keeps the line moving. Far too often they had a black hole in the lineup with Kyle Schwarber, who could use some time in the minors to get his mind off of big league pitching. Nick Markakis is a doubles machine, slashing the most doubles by an outfielder since 2009. In the Friendly Confines with the excellent offense around him, he’s a perfect fit for the contending Cubs.

Why the Braves Would

This may seem a little crazy from the Braves’ perspective. Trading the two most experienced pitchers on the roster does sound a little odd, but the team has the MLB ready starters to fill in their spots, and now the financial flexibility to sign top-end pitching to pair with those young arms. The team has long lacked offense at the MLB level and even in the minors to some extent. Both outfielders from the Cubs would fill this void. Zagunis, specifically, is the kind of high on base, great bat control type of player the Braves would covet.

Ian Happ has had a remarkably consistent MiLB career, generally posting similar high marks in slugging and on base. But he pairs that with issues putting the ball in play. His k% maintained steadily around 20% throughout his minor league career and jumped all the way up to 31% in his rookie year. Though, he did so with a sustainable BABIP (.316) and decent-for-his-standards .328 OBP. If you believe his OBP will track upwards and maintain his combined .492 slugging from his MiLB career, then you have quite the player on your hands.

Mark Zagunis has the kind of on base skills that legends are made of. Like Happ, he’s also carried around a 20% k rate in the minors, albeit without the power. However, he has bat-to-ball skills and excellent defense to make up for the lack of power. That being said, I think that he can find the power. His flyball percentage has hung around the low 20% to 36% (40% was his small sample peak in the minors). When Zagunis is at his best, his flyball percentage sits in the mid-30% as the years he’s been around that number his gap power has shown through.

 

Back to the Front Office

The offseason planning was possible, in large part, thanks to the Assistant GMs hired in September. Their names: Perry Minasian and Adam Fisher. From what I’ve been told, they have been nothing short of spectacular. From before the organizational meetings on through, they’ve helped provide some stability while allowing the rest of the front office to continue business as usual. They’ve received high marks from their peers and employees alike, for their talent organizational player awareness and leadership. So while we’ve waited as fans for the investigation’s punishment and Anthopolous’s hiring, the Braves’ front office has been hard at work, identifying players they want, the needs of the organization, and what it might cost to secure certain players or trades.

Of course my trade proposal is just that: mine, no one else’s. Not a whisper or a rumor, its pure speculation on my part. But trades like this come together due to an entire front office’s hard work. From the analytics department crunching numbers, scouts digging through reports and higher level executives like Alex Anthopolous, Perry Minasian, and Adam Fisher, providing the right direction to make it all happen in a manner that’s like a brilliant orchestra.

26 Comments

Teheran for Happ as the principals makes sense. Adding Folty to the deal makes moving Markakis possible. I’m not confident that Mark Zagunis is enough of a secondary return for what we’re sending the Cubs, but that’s really the only issue I have with this deal. I think there’s a better than 50/50 shot that Folty ends up in the bullpen if he remains in ATL just because of the pressure of the kids behind him, and Teheran is badly in need of a scenery change.
Maybe I would take out Zagunis and add CJ Edwards since he better fits our needs in the pen, but that’s more or less just picking at threads of a decent deal.

swap out Markakis for Kemp and drop Zagunis or add a good reliever then maybe you have something. There is no good reason for the Braves to trade for two OFs. Don’t forget that Acuna’s coming up. Where would Zagunis play in a Ender/Acuna/Happ OF? I might also swap Folty for Sims. So Teheran/Sims/Kemp for Happ/RP or Happ alone. Maybe that’s not enough for Happ but the Braves are not hurting that bad for OFs. And I’m kind of getting tired of people saying the Braves need bats because the hitting has been bad. The Braves have been a top five AVG team and not terrible at getting on base. What they need is power. Happ may fill that gap but 3B is where it is really needed to be added (Frazier hint, hint to bridge to Riley).

I did a comparison the other day on another forum, comparing our projected lineup to the average OPS for each lineup spot 1-8. Since Acuna didn’t have a MLB OPS I left him at 8, but as far as how the rest of our hitters stacked up, Freddie had an OPS that would make him above average at any of the 2/3/4 spots in the order. Albies would be above average in the 1 hole. Flowers would be average in the 5 hole. The rest of the team graded out as best suited for the 6-8 holes as compared to the league average. That includes Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis. We do have a lineup problem. It’s contact heavy and struggles in the power department and the on base area.

Yes, last year the offense was much improved. It was the pitching that let the team down. However, the “real” studs (Gohara Fried and Nuke) didnt get up to the bigs until late in the season. Same for the stud relievers we (at least I) assumed would be there for 3/4 of the year; Minter/Winkler/Morris (didn’t get the call). With Biddle and Lindgren ready to make an impact after injury, the bullpen should *finally* be much much improved with some tweaking.

The problem with swapping Kemp for Kakis is that the Cubs are already flush in payroll obligations. They have to sign a top-tier closer, and last year were sitting around 150MM in payroll. I expect that number to climb, but theyve already sunk cost into Heyward. Why would they further their sunk cost by taking on Kemp? Markakis is a player that can actually play for them, stay on the field, and add value.

With the logjam, a few things can happen:
a/could bring Happ into 3rd base, Zagunis in left.
b/Use Zagunis in a trade for something else we need (big time pen piece)
c/ be a 4th outfielder (never know if Lane Adams will turn into a pumpkin)
d/ Ready for injury and/or struggles by Happ/Acuna.

There’s plenty of use for a guy like Zagunis with such a high floor and potentially even a high ceiling if he can keep his flyball rate in check.

Your Teheran/Sims/Kemp for Ian Happ trade would make sense for The Braves (it would clear up Kemp’s 2 year/$37 mil contract…but also cost us our current best starting pitcher who has a team friendly 3 year/$31 mil contract…in addition to a 5th starter/bullpen piece that is Lucas Sims).

Basically, a way of looking at this trade…is The Cubs paying Julio Teheran $68 mil over the next three seasons (lumping Kemp’s contract into Teheran’s..unless The Cubs can swap Kemp down the line to an AL team in need of a DH). While Teheran is a value at 3/$31 mil…he becomes HELLA PRICEY at 3/$68 (going from $10 mil a year to almost $23 mil a year).

Lucas Sims is pre-arbitration slotted the next three seasons. If Sims proved to be a decent back of the rotation type pitcher for The Cubs the next three seasons…then this trade would work for The Cubs. Some of that Kemp contract can, in theory, be offset by the surplus value that Sims would be providing as a pre-arb player only making The MLB Minimum!

In turn, The Cubs would be paying Teheran and Sims a combined 3 year/$70 mil (Sims would be making a combined $2 mil or so during his three pre-arb years..as well as factoring in both Teheran’s 3 year/$31 mil contract AND Kemp’s 2 year/$37 mil contract). The question becomes…would it make economic sense to pay your 3rd starter (Teheran) and your 5th starter (Sims) a combined $70 mil over the next three years…in exchange for Ian Happ?

If I’m The Braves…I make that deal! But I dont know if The Cubs would. Given the price of Free Agent starting pitching….(if Sims works out, they would have a total of 6 years of control over him)…perhaps it would make sense for The Cubs to make this trade!

What do you think?

Why would the Cubs want 2 fly ball pitchers in miniscule Wrigley Field? If you had some proven ground ball pitcher’s they would bite. otherwise, I think this idea falls by the wayside.

As I noted in the article, judging the Cubs selections for prospects (international and domestic) they value control. Julio has excellent control. Folty has shown that he can suppress HRs (and he did so in Sun Trust Park).

Thats really interesting, especially given we’re losing players from that general area of our minor league system. It’s not a bad idea, but the Braves are trying to compete ASAP.

The scandal has only emboldened that stance, from what I’m hearing Liberty Media has opened more money to the team because big time sponsors have spoken up in a very concerning way.

We have Dustin Peterson in AAA (who I’m very high on) but that’s about it outside of Acuna for ready position players. Adding Zagunis and Happ would be a shrewd move, giving the MLB roster options and a better chance to compete not only in 2018 but beyond.

Interesting proposal and a solid reasoning behind it.

However, from a “put myself in their shoes” perspective, I am not convinced as to why the Cubs do this. I mean, yes…Will gives us the reasoning that they’re losing Arrieta and Lackey to free agency, that raises to Bryant, Contreras, combined with already large salaries to Lester, Heyward, etc create an increasing payroll situation, and that Markakis could be a useful short term piece for them while Schwarber figures his ish out.

I “get it” as to why it could make sense, but for me I sort of feel like their front office’s goals aim a little bit higher and don’t take into consideration the concerns listed as reasons so much.

I mean, we’re talking about the 2016 World Series Champions who were on the cusp of returning to the World Series in 2017 had they just not run into the human buzzsaws named Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood. To me, seems like they’re going to try and add more top end talent than what we have to offer. While Teheran and/or Folty may be in consideration, I expect their focus to be on bigger things before reverting to either.

Anyway…my first main concern regarding this trade is Nick Markakis. Yeah, he can be utilized in left to allow Schwarber more time. But…why take on Markakis when they can just run a more versatile player in Ian Happ out there to begin with? As I stated in the Matt Kemp trade article comments, I feel that the problem with a lot of Kemp and Markakis trade scenarios is that Braves Keyboard/Armchair GMs try to make something out of nothing. They try to get something in return for trading Kemp and/or Markakis with prospects or other players to get something good in return. That’s a flaw, IMO. Trading either of them isn’t about trying to package them in deals to get a substantial return, it’s about dumping salary. The return won’t matter, so long as you’re dumping the salary. Anywho…back on the Cubs perspective. Keeping Happ and playing him in left would probably be better for their offense. If they wanted a middle of the rotation starter for generally cheap, go sign Tyler Chatwood. And on that note…

Then there’s the talk about money. The Cubs are becoming a very expensive team. That’s a fact. However, this trade is written with the assumption that 1) they have limited funds to keep everyone and 2) that they care about the luxury tax, which has yet to be determined, but my guess would be no. I would need to run more numbers while I’m not at work, but I don’t think the Cubs would have any issues adding, say, a Yu Darvish to their rotation. Or if they want, quantity in a combination of Cobb, Chatwood, Lynn, etc. I can’t imagine money being an issue in Chicago. Not for the Cubs, anyway.

Also, the idea is written under the premise that the Cubs seek young, controllable arms, etc which is somewhat of an implication that they lack arms in their system, which is a pretty big oversight as about 8 of their top 10 prospects are pitchers (according to MLB.com, that is, and after graduating Happ, Almora, etc). I guess perhaps the insinuation is that the talent isn’t major league ready, but that leads me to….

Finally, regarding Teheran for the Cubs. As I stated, there’s some rebound assumed here. He’s a fine middle-rotation arm and all, but if you’re trading a piece like Ian Happ, why not just go big? Include other pieces, go get yourself a Chris Archer. Or maybe just wait…go get Marcus Stroman later when the Jays bomb. The Cubs have been rumored to be considering a trade of Javy Baez or Addison Russell. The Cubs certainly have the offensive depth the Braves seek, but they are also loaded to the point where they can go get the big fish available too. Teheran and Folty, while notable names, aren’t exactly the names you think of when you consider frontline starters to pair with Lester that remind you of the Schilling/Johnson, Clemens/Pettitte/Oswalt, Glavine/Maddux/Smoltz groups that playoff history is peppered with. This trade would shock me…but only because I feel like the Cubs could, would and should probably do better than this for themselves.

I hear everything you’re saying. All valid points. However, theyve already talked about how to get rid of some of the Heyward money which means they are conscious of payroll.

Yes, they have a lot of arms in their top-10, but that doesnt make them great pitchers. They don’t really have the pieces to go get Archer or another top of the rotation arm unless they gave up both Baez AND Happ. Would they be willing to do that? Doubt it.

The inclusion of Kakis in this trade is a add in, he is not there because he gets more in return. He is there because the Cubs need someone like him and the Braves need an outfield corner to be open. However, I do believe that Markakis can by himself fetch a lower end (20-30) type prospect on his own merits. Don’t discount him because of WAR. He’s the kind of player that finishes off a team or offense, not the player that you build around. The Cardinals were perennial winners thanks to offensive players just like Markakis.

And yes, I believe the Cubs seek controllable arms. Look at the Quintana trade. He’s controllable. They didn’t want a one-year rental. Those were available… and he’s cheaper than Verlander, who was also available.

I’m reading some tea leaves to figure out what the Cubs are interested in, but the tea leaves are rather obvious. Quintana and Lester are the clear 1-2 in the rotation. Julio is definitely a 3, sometimes he pitches like a 1. Don’t discount him because we’ve grown tired of him.

Lastly, if you think that money doesn’t matter to them, take a look at who they aren’t targeting as their closer for 2018. The first name mentioned is Brandon Morrow who is not going to fetch what Davis or Holland will receive.

Again, reading tea leaves and I could be wrong.

Fair discussion points on all except one statement, IMO. I don’t have the resources, and technically time since I’m at work and supposed to be working (lol), to hash out everything at the moment, but I hope it is not taken as attempt to insult and I would love to continue the conversation regarding your points later.

Just the one statement I have issue with, though. Regarding the Cardinals winning because of players like Markakis. I disagree. Whole-heartedly feel you are incorrect, Will.

Before I continue, I should amend the prior presentation of trading Kemp and Markakis. I should not have implied Markakis has negative value like Kemp. I apologize if that was implied and that is incorrect from my part.

However, that’s not saying Markakis has value either. He’s just kind of….there. While “useful”, you still probably need to eat a little bit of salary to move him, lest get something useful back for him. As I said…moving the salary is the point of trading Markakis at this point. I’d be ecstatic for a good return, but I don’t feel it’s the reason you’re trading him from the Braves perspective.

Back on topic of the Cardinals winning ways being a result of guys like Nick. I still have to disagree. While every team can’t be an all-star at every position and players like Nick are no doubt necessary, they are not vital to a team’s success. You can’t take a team full of Nick Markakis’s and field a winner. The Cardinals didn’t churn out winners because of guys like Markakis either–average offensive output with average defensive abilities. They churned out winners because they had guys like Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, a young and effective Yadier Molina, before he took a nosedive Allen Craig. Before them? Albert Pujols in his prime. Lance Berkman for a year. If you’re talking about the early 2000’s versions of the Cardinals, you still had Pujols, but to say the won because of mediocre players on offense, is totally discrediting pitching staffs led by Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, Matt Morris and for shorter times, Jason Marquis, Chuck Finley and one of my early pitching idols, Darryl Kile. Those teams won because they had studs at other positions that were not held back by the Nick Markakis’s of the world.

To say the Cardinals won BECAUSE of guys like Markakis is a stretch. They won because they had great offensive players and great pitchers.

*Sigh* Finally home. Longer day than I had hoped for, but at least I got to look forward to coming home to continuing this discussion.

I won’t touch upon Markakis because that was delved into in-depth in my last reply, so here’s moving on with discussion points on the rest of your first reply to me.

First, I do not doubt that the Cubs are conscious of their payroll. It’s just that, if push comes to shove (and it has not yet) they would be willing to push the luxury tax threshold for the sake of winning. Hoyer and Epstein have as much as said outright that their loyalty is to the fans of Chicago and that loyalty deserves a winning product. Statements like that aren’t going to be made if you’re a budgeted franchise with an ownership that’s only interested in profit margins.

Forgive me for calling it out this way, but is there a link to a legitimate news article stating the Cubs have looked into trading Heyward/getting rid of his salary? I mean, I read an unfounded rumor earlier this week about the Cubs and Giants swapping Heyward for Samardzija/other salaries. However, that was quickly shot down by Hoyer and there hasn’t been a single peep about a potential Heyward trade since–unfounded or not. Leads me to believe that the Cubs aren’t really dissatisfied with Heyward all that much and winnings sorta tends to give players a leash like that.

Anywho….just because Heyward trade rumors are false and statements have been made that the Cubs intend to field a winner for the fans (implying cost is not an object), it doesn’t mean they aren’t conscious of their payroll. You are 100% right in that regard, IMO. But, there’s a difference between being payroll-conscious and being wise in investment and just flat out not being able to afford to do certain things. The Cubs obviously the former, the Braves sort of in the latter.

That’s seen in the discussion to be had over who the Cubs have been rumored to be eyeing as a potential signee to close games. Again, take the Braves and Cubs as examples. The Braves are payroll conscious and likely won’t go after Wade Davis or Greg Holland, just as they didn’t pursue guys like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman because….well, they really can’t logistically afford to do so. I mean, they could…but they be’d spending a good chunk of a $120M payroll on a 60-70 inning/year guy. On the contrary, the Cubs didn’t sign Miller or Chapman and may not sign Holland or Davis, not because they can’t afford to, but because they know that they can do more efficient things with their money. I’m not implying the Braves wouldn’t go ape shizzle in free agency for a reliever if they had the necessary funds to do so…but the point here is the Cubs don’t do it, because Theo and Jed are smart enough to understand that the 9th inning is just 3 outs like any other in a game. Better to have 3 moderately paid shutdown guys at the end of a ballgame than 1 big money shutdown guy and replacement level stand-ins with live fastballs filling in the games til you get there.

So, in conclusion about money. It’s not that the Cubs don’t have enough to get everyone signed AND add free agents, it’s just that they aren’t going to go crazy like the Yankees of the early 2000’s did, signing every other player just because they can and want to keep them away from competition.

As far as the minor league arms go. I’m not saying any of them are destined for greatness in any way. Just merely that they do have depth and controllable arms. The Cubs aren’t as desperate for them as you have seemingly made them out to be. That said, I’m not questioning whether or not they’d have interest in Teheran and/or Folty. Just questioning why they wouldn’t aim a little higher.

I sure do understand that Julio is a durable #3…and that Quintana can easily be their #2 behind Lester and that Folty would be a pretty darn good #5 behind Hendricks. I’m not saying Julio isn’t good or Folty can’t develop, etc. In fact, I’d hate to sell so low on both. But here’s the thing…as you suggest not to discount Julio because “we’ve grown tired of him”, we also can’t overprice him at the moment for what he produced at the current time. All that in mind and still….why would the Cubs set their primary targets on a guy coming off a massive down year to be an important part of their rotation? Why even wait for Folty to develop as their #5? They have the resources beyond just Baez/Addison and Happ. They have Almora. They have Schwarber. They have Caratini and La Stella, even who could still be considered bigger useful short-term pieces for clubs looking to sell off big veterans. Not to mention those young arms that still hold value. The Cubs are primed to make a big trade or two, and while I’m not condoning they sell the entire farm system this winter, they can certainly pull the trigger on a big time trade without the river running dry. So when you ask if the Cubs would be willing to combine assets to obtain the right piece? It’s fine that you doubt it. That’s your opinion and it’s not necessarily wrong, nor is it right. While you doubt the Cubs motivation to go bigger, I don’t doubt it. After all…some of the best rotations in recent memory weren’t created primarily by GM’s looking to capitalize on guys coming off down years. Sure, Arrieta wasn’t a stud when acquired…but Roy Halladay and Oswalt were when they joined Hamels. Clemens and Pettitte were pretty darn good when they joined Oswalt in Houston. Smoltz and Glavine were doing pretty well for the Braves when Greg Maddux was added to the mix. Just because they only need a #3 doesn’t mean they can’t and shouldn’t add another bonafide #1.

I’ll start by addressing the payroll: I think we’re going to disagree here, which is fine. I just want to point out that they have an expensive team with rather glaring holes; the bullpen and rotation. Tommy LaStella and other bench options you mentioned are not valuable trade pieces, period.

Now, as to am I over valuing Julio? No. Flat out, no. Jose Quintana who is basically the same pitcher but strikes more people out netted the White Sox a the number one prospect from the Cubs and one of the best prospects in baseball, period. What I’m doing here is discounting Julio given his down year, and adding Folty. When you add the two together theyre worth far more than just Ian Happ. So, I dug into the Cubs’ system to find Zagunis, their number 8 prospect who has a very high floor but I think he could have a really good ceiling, think peak Markakis (20 HR, 50 doubles, .280 AVG, 380 OBP).

Julio is worth, in a down year, around 9MM. In a good year he’s worth 3x that and his contract wont pay him anymore than 11MM in one year. If anything I’m under valuing Folty (who I am admittedly not high on).

So, back to Schwarber. If you think he has trade value right now, I think you’re over valuing him. Here’s what a team sees right now: .211/.315/.467 slash good for a 102!! WRc+… and that player cant play defense. What AL team is giving up a stud ace, or even Julio type pitcher for a DH that cant hit?? I’m not saying Schwarber is bad, I just think he needs a reset and he’s not currently valuable. Remember: it’s been 2 years since his rookie year.

So you mentioned that the Cubs are trying to win now and money isn’t the most important thing. I agree. Getting a Nick Markakis type is exactly the kind of shrewd, win-now move that would push the needle ever so closer to that WS title.

Lastly, I’ll address the Cardinals comment I made above. I was referring to the cardinals that had David Freese and Allen Craig and those guys. They didnt have one big bopper. It was the beginning of the backslide of Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran was a role player, even if he filled the stat sheet. They won games by playing great defense and had amazing pitching. My point wasn’t that they ‘only had nick markakis type players’ it’s that is what their offense was. Allen Craig’s peak was basically Nick Markakis peak. They won because of pitching and defense and an offense that worked counts, got on base, and hit a lot of singles/doubles.

One final note: I actually think, even if the Cubs think they can get more than JT and Folty, they would be wise to do this. Yes, they have those arms in the minors, but none are proven… at least Folty has proven he can flash excellence in the majors. They don’t really have the leash (Cubs) to say ‘ehhh we’re gonna run with Q, Lester, Hendricks, and whatever these kid pitchers that aren’t top-100 rated’. I’ll take this a tad further: If they get a JT and Folty type, and their own pitchers develop into top-100 types, they have even more trade chips to keep their train rolling. If they use up those trade chips now they’re going to be the Royals in 3 years. No one wants to be that… no one.

Will,

First, before I start I’d like to thank you for the discussion on this and not just vehemently defending your idea with utter non-sense like other fans tend to do. While we may have disagreements, I completely respect everything you’ve posted as I can tell there’s at least some reasonable explanation as to why you feel the way you do. I kind of feel like this’ll be a long reply, and I don’t want it to get lost in the discussion that I really do appreciate and enjoy this back and forth.

Getting back to topic. I also feel we’ll have to agree to disagree regarding their payroll. In one last point I’d like to make regarding that aspect of this conversation, In the last 3 years we’ve seen the Cubs jump from a $90M payroll, to $120M, to $170M. While those numbers were well below the $189M luxury tax threshold, their ownership and front office has proven that money really isn’t the primary concern, as you conceded. While they haven’t had to address the luxury tax, and I’ve suggested they won’t blink if they have to pass it eventually, the truth is, they may not ever have to pass it even if they are to sign Bryant and Rizzo and whomever else they’d like–more on this particular thought in a second. The luxury tax is only going to raise from it’s current point. It went up to $195M this year and will rise again to $197M next, $206M the year after that, then to $208M and $210M under the current CBA. While the increases are gradual and barely make up for a single arbitration raise, I’d like to refer back to that thought a few sentences back. So, they’ll have Bryant and Rizzo to sign longterm. I assume we can agree on that. At least perhaps on the Bryant end of things as he’s the more versatile of the two, etc. etc. but for now let me just assume you agree that they need to sign Rizzo as much as they do Bryant. They’ll still have Lester’s contract as well as Heyward’s through the current CBA-approved thresholds. That’s big money and I understand that.

However, the Cubs payroll is kind of special in a way. MAYBE aside from Heyward, who is honestly not a total deadweight contract due to his immense defensive contributions, but let’s still consider a general waste considering his overall production, the Cubs have very little “dead” money on their payroll. While almost all other teams have had to wait out crappy contracts like we waited out most of Uggla, Kawakami, Lowe and now Kemp, etc. the Cubs have so few longterm contracts that REALLY make their fans go “Ugh…we’re STILL paying this guy?”. I mean, look at the Angels for example. They’re only getting out from under their Josh Hamilton commitment. Another contract to look at, perhaps, is Prince Fielder. Even though parts of his salary were being covered by insurance, the Rangers STILL had this guy on their 40-man roster for that insurance payment. Until they reached a workout agreement to be able to remove him from the roster, not only was that guy’s salary burning a hole in their pocket through 2020, he was ALSO eating a roster spot. Talk about a terrible organizational situation to be in! While that’s certainly drastic, my point is that the Cubs have very few (Heyward only, really, and we’ve noted he’s not a total waste of space yet) contracts on their payroll like that and while they certainly have to dole out big salaries to Bryant and Rizzo eventually, they’re also in a unique position to have huge chunks of their payroll available and potentially already accounted for these extensions plus other big contracts they see fit to add.

Which ties into my cost-conscious because you’re wise vs. cost-conscious because you can’t afford a mistake argument from earlier. Sure, the Cubs may not be looking at top tier names on the closer market, but that’s just Theo being Theo and rubbing off on his boy Jed. Theo’s the guy who tried to go into a season in Boston with a combination of Mike Timlin, Ramiro Mendoza, Alan Embree and Brandon Lyon as a 4-headed bullpen closer-by-committee monster. Results were debatable, obviously without any one standout name in the group, but he’s never really gone too far out of his way, aside from Keith Foulke immediately after that debacle, to spend big money on a closer. Much of that was thanks to Papelbon, but he still wasn’t one to really spend in the bullpen, so I’m not surprised he isn’t entertaining the idea of paying $15M+ to a closer, because that’s just how a Theo Epstein-led decision making crew thinks. They’ll save money on areas like the bullpen and bench because they understand that’s areas where they can pinch a penny and not adversely affect the on-field effectiveness–which leads me to the idea that if/when the time comes, they’ll go big in the rotation and on the field when they feel the time is right to do so and while Teheran and Folty represent great buy low opportunities, I again would like to point out that buying low is the Plan A for budgeted teams. For teams in the Cubs position, Plan A is the Chris Archers and Marcus Stroman’s of the world. The Jose Quintana’s, if you want to lump him in. But the difference between them and Teheran, currently and as you admit, is the fact that Teheran had a down year.

Which brings me to my next question is why would the Braves be so eager to sell low if they knew Teheran’s better than that and can obtain a Quintana-like return if he had been coming off a better year? Why use Folty’s value to bring Teheran’s back up and make including Nick Markakis more tolerable? It just seems like bad business for the Braves to do this if they know Teheran and/or Foltynewicz are capable of so much more. Now…if the argument is “Hey, Teheran’s in decline, folks. We need to move now and capitalize on a decent end of the season because this dude is gonna suuuuuuuuuck going forward” then, by all means let’s package him up and trade him for a single stud prospect now. But if we felt that way…wouldn’t the Cubs perhaps feel the same way too? As you said…this is about upside for the Cubs. Maybe they do this because they see the eventual value in it….but then if you take that stance, it becomes a bad deal for Atlanta to make because now you’re simple trading Teheran because, as you put it, we’ve grown tired of and are discounting him.

Regarding Markakis-like players and the Cardinals, I’d like you to basically re-read what you wrote and re-analyze what Markakis currently is. You listed Freese and Craig, and even if Beltran or Holliday were already in decline or role players (you are blatantly incorrect on those two facts, IMO.), all of these guys put up better than average numbers….and all of them, at least for a time, had better than average homerun totals which I will purposely erroneously label as power (I’m going to call average at around 10 homers, which can be considered low, but will help illustrate my point). David Freese, in his most useful season to the Cardinals, hit 20 homeruns, posted almost an .840 OPS. Allen Craig, in his best years with the Cardinals, hit 11, 22, and 13 homeruns and posted OPS numbers in those respective years of .917, .876, and .830. Beltran, a role player? Hell of a role player who played 296 games over two years, amassed 1219 plate appearances, hit a total of 56 homeruns (22 and 32) and OPS’d .910 and .841. Holliday spent 7 years there in the prime and post-prime of his career averaged 20 homeruns a year (and one of those years was a 4 due to injury). OPS’s of .922, .912, ,.877, .879, .811 .804, .782. Nick Markakis the last three years? 3, 13 and 8 homeruns. OPS’s of .746, .738, .720. Again…I’m not saying there isn’t room for players like Markakis. Just that the Cardinals didn’t win because of guys like him. What you have in mind is guys who came in and produced better than average or elite stats for a time…not role-player level production like what Markakis is capable of.

Bryce,
I’m replying here because I think you broke the comments with your last long response 🙂 (theres not a reply button under your comment)

I am with you on the discussion, many people just want to be right and yell.

On the Cardinals: Yes, Beltran was a stud, like i said he filled the stat sheet. but your points on Freese and Allen Craig fall on deaf ears. When I said Nick Markakis type players I meant his peak. Which those numbers were basically clones of Kakis’s peak. Do you think Beltran is the reason they were that good? That’s fine if you do. I think they rode a BA with RISP to their wins + ecellent pitching and defense.

On Quintana: Remember, he was in the midst of a really bad year when the Cubs traded for him, and he continued it with the Cubs. It’s not like he was all shiny and perfect. I truly believe the distance between Q and JT is much smaller than you’re giving it credence to. Q has had more excellent seasons, but is also older.

I really wish I could better crunch some numbers right now…. I am building some tech that will be doing it for me eventually. But I was digging around in spin rate from both pitchers and finding some similarities, but I cant logically bring them to the table here.

You may be right on the Cubs, but I’ll stand by the payroll aspect. I see Bryant being a 35-40MM per annum player. Rizzo will probably be right around 30MM. Together thats, on the low, 60MM for 2 of 25 players.

I really appreciate your discussion and activeness here. Would you want me to write more here? (obviously not trade proposals every day)

Ha! It appears I did break the comment section! Good to know we can bludgeon this system into submission with a lengthy post. lol

On the Cardinals: If we are talking about Nick Markakis at his peak, then we are talking about what he did back in Baltimore. I’ll admit guys like that are plenty good and big parts of why their teams are successful. However, I do not think we can strictly say Markakis WAS therefore his value IS. I guess the part I’m not understanding in your example of the Cardinals is that you’re saying they had received great contributions from guys who were still in their prime years and producing peak numbers, etc. Well, yeah…doesn’t every successful team have that quality? What I’m talking about is Markakis at his current state, which is more roleplayer than cornerstone. While roleplayers are still plenty useful, teams will still not line up to take them off your hands at $10M, even if it’s just for a season. Regarding how this links in to the Cubs, I am not sure how Markakis, in his current state, is an attractive piece to them when they could opt to re-sign Jon Jay, or other marginal talents like Nori Aoki, Jarrod Dyson, Curtis Granderson, Howie Kendrick, Daniel Nava, Ben Revere, Michael Saunders, Ichiro Suzuki, etc. for less annually and receive equal or better production, depending what you’re looking for whether that be defense and base running, or a part-time pop from the left side or a versatile utility bat or pinch-hitter, etc. From the Cubs side, why wouldn’t they just refuse to take Markakis? Yes, the price goes up some in the quality of prospects you’ll have to give up, but it makes their offense better for it being able to shift Bryant to LF from time to time, insert Baez at 3B, etc.

When it comes to Quintana vs Teheran, I’ll concede the difference isn’t like night and day. However, I still contend, that at their best and worst, there is still a pretty substantial difference between the two. At his worst, Quintana has been a 2.5 WAR pitcher (and it was last season with the bad first half). However, Quintana has proven to be a consistent 3.5-5 WAR guy otherwise. Perhaps the same could be said about Teheran at his best (and that is where I concede), however, Teheran has had a couple of these down points in his career where he went through prolonged stretches of not looking like even a middle rotation horse. While still getting by on raw talent alone, you could tell he wasn’t at the top of his game for much of the 2015 and 2017 seasons. That’s inconsistency no matter which way you try to paint the picture. What the Cubs paid a massive price for wasn’t just the upside of Quintana, but also the consistent stud-like nature he produced over the past 5 years. With Teheran, you have to discount him just a little bit (as you admit with the proposal and I question why you’d like to sell low) for that inconsistency–especially coming off the down season. As unfair as it is, sometimes the “What have you done for me lately?” thing rings true, but it holds more weight when the rough lately period seems more like an isolated incident than something that is likely to repeat a couple more times before his contract is up.

Anyway…yeah. I’d enjoy seeing more stuff here that was generated from your noggin. As I said before, the reasoning you provide for your ideas and discussion points are fresh and goes way beyond the typical “because it just makes sense because I say it does” reasons that I see a lot of writers fall back on when they are challenged.

Hope you’re having a good Friday, Will. Looking forward to hearing more from you and seeing future pieces featuring your work.

Cheers, Bryce! Ya broke the comments again 🙂

The general point i was making about the Cardinals is that their offense, save for maybe Holliday and Beltran, were a bunch of keep the line moving type of hitters. Sure they hit their occasional homer, but that wasn’t their game and that’s not the kind of hitters they were.

I believe the Cubs failed in 2017 because they couldn’t keep the line moving often enough. Whether it was Baez going strikeout bananza, Heyward being terrible offensively, Schwarber being *the* three true outcomes, or Russel going through his slumps. They just didn’t have enough “get me a single” type of hitters.

To your point they could get just about anyone to fill that role at a cheaper cost, I don’t believe the names you mentioned are better than Markakis right now, but that’s just me.

As far as Julio and selling low is concerned, it’s not that I don’t think the future is bright for him. I actually can see him competing for a cy young. He has that sort of mentality and is clearly willing to adapt and tweak things. For me, it’s just a good time to cash in on Folty (i refuse to bet another year on him) and recognize you have to give to get. Teams are just going to give you nice things, you have to earn them. With Fried/Gohara/Sims/Newcomb all but in the 2018 rotation and Soroka/Wright/Allard knocking on the door, were running out of spots for pitchers, so why not cash in for the hitting we so desire?

w00t! Methinks it may secretly be Thomas trying to hint at me to stop before I scare away all the writers of these ideas. =D lol

Yeah, I think I’m seeing what you were trying to reference with the Cardinals and likewise with the Cubs with your examples. I still feel a little differently about the Cubs shortcomings this past season, though. The Cubs finished 4th in the majors in runs scored. Two runs shy of Colorado, who finished 3rd…so they really were a top 3 quality offense even with the struggles of all those listed. The REAL problem was their pitching, which I know is what your trade proposal is attempting to fix for them.

Back on the topic of Julio. I definitely feel it is not a very good time to trade him. The main reason is because of the down year. Again, I’ve stated the difference in pricing in Q vs. Teharan I feel is based on Q’s consistency vs. Teheran’s seemingly year-to-year erraticness. Combine that with a free agent market that features two guys who are viewed as “ace” quality and I feel like it just creates a situation where Teheran’s price may be discounted further. It just is what it is. It’d be selling low, and I’m not a big fan of selling low regardless of the name you insert here. I’d much rather it be like the situation surrounding Javier Vazquez back in the day. Traded for him when his stock was down, then traded him when his stock was high. Classic buy low, sell high. Wish it could work similarly every single time. I know it can’t always be that way, but it should be avoided, especially in situations where you have faith that a rebound is likely.

As for Folty, I’m not sure I ever fully believed in him as a starting pitcher. I thought by now we’d have certainly put him in the bullpen…but alas, guys like his with bazooka-like arms are always going to get that chance to start until they exhaust that by ineffectiveness or inability to stay healthy. Brandon Morrow and Andrew Cashner come to mind. Two guys with varying degrees with health/effectiveness issues despite top tier stuff. Morrow was given opportunities to start up until a couple seasons ago when he was with the Padres. Cashner is still being given those chances and may actually decently cash in this winter despite big time warning flags in his peripheral stats that suggest he was not a very good pitcher getting by on a lot of luck last season. With that in mind, I’ve been onboard with the concept of trading Folty if the return is right. In fact, some of my Armchair/Keyboard GM rosterbations since August have included Foltynewicz trades. One of my favorites is a link to the Brewers, who could definitely use the cost-controlled arm, along with perhaps some bullpen help in exchange for Domingo Santana (this, of course, coupled with trades of any two of the current outfielders in Atlanta). From the Brewers perspective, Lewis Brinson would come up to play center and Keon Broxton would shift to right where his defense may not be as much of a detriment to his value as it was in 2017.

Why the Brewers a better fit for our guys than the Cubs? It just comes down to the aura surrounding the two franchises, I guess. As stated early on, with the Cubs in full on “World Series or bust” mode, I feel Teheran/Folty would be a letdown for them from a PR standpoint regardless of eventual outcome. As for the Brewers, they don’t exactly have that luxury of trading for or signing just anyone they please. They’re less likely to confidently stare you down across the from table and haggle you down on price on Folty or Teheran and more likely to buy into the hype of Folty and his fastball or Teheran’s high points and strong finish than the overall product of the season and the season two years prior.

While The Cubs would jump on that trade WITHIN A MILI-SECOND QUICKNESS, The Braves would regret making that trade!

While I’m under no illusions of either Teheran and Folty being long term aces for The Braves, both are durable/innings eaters who have a proven track record (even if they arent as dominant as we’d like). The Cubs would LOVE to have both fill their 3th/4th slots in their rotation ESPECIALLY under the cost control value they both bring the next three 3-4 seasons!

Happ and the other MiLB outfielder that I’ve never heard of….simply are not enough of a return. The Cubs eating Markakis $10.5 mil final year contract for 2018…when added to what Teheran ($8 mil) and Folty ($3-$3.5 mil or so) are owed in 2018…comes to approximately $24 mil combined for two inning eating/potentially productive #3/#4 starters. In 2019, the cost for Teheran would be $11 mil while Folty would be in line (if he preforms decently in 2018) for a raise to around $7-$9 mil (still LESS than the combined 2018 obligations of their salaries plus Markakis $10.5 mil 2018 salary). The Cubs would still have Teheran’s affordable $12 mil 2020 team option…while Folty would still be arbitration eligible in 2020-21 (giving The Cubs Folty from 2018-21 at affordable prices).

If The Cubs were to sign Teheran and Folty to Free Agent contracts for the 2018-2021 seasons BOTH would make FAR MORE than the $31 mil Teheran is owed the next three seasons AS WELL as Folty being projected to be paid $25-$35 mil (depending on how he does) via arbitration the next 4 seasons. At most….The Cubs would be paying a combined 7 seasons of Teheran and Folty approximate $55-$71 mil (factoring in Markakis’ $10.5 2018 salary…AND depending on if The Cubs pick up Teheran’s $12 mil 2020 team option/decline it and owe Teheran $1 mil..as well as how Folty performs). Given that BUMS like Ian Kennedy routinely get 5 year/$70 mil contracts…..The Cubs would JUMP ALL OVER this trade!

While Ian Happ had a nice 1st year for The Cubs….the other MiLB player has yet to prove anything in MLB. We’d basically be putting all our eggs in the Ian Happ basket! To give up THE IMMENSE VALUE that Folty and Teheran bring….on ‘hoping’ that Happ can elevate himself to a middle of the order ‘difference maker’ hitting behind Freddie Freeman….I just cant support that!

Coppy was right to hold onto both Teheran and Folty. Regardless of how, at times, frustrating both pitchers can make Braves fans feel with their inconsistencies on the mound…Teheran’s contract ALONG with Folty’s 4 cost-controlled arbitration seasons that lie ahead…makes both economically viable for The Braves…at least as far as The 2018 Season is concerned.

Given that this will be the 1st full MLB season (barring injury) for Luis Gohara, Sean Newcomb and Max Fried/Lucas Sims (I assume one will win the 5th spot in the rotation)….I feel it is imperative that Teheran and Folty ANCHOR the top 2 spots in the rotation for 2018. Not only is there hope that both can develop into more consistent MLB starting pitchers (increasing their trade value down the line AFTER our young pitchers start permanently earning their spots in the starting rotation long term)…but both also can mentor/lead by examples for Gohara, Newcomb, Fried/Sims…in addition to the realistic possibility of Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard and others being called up sometime in 2018 to Atlanta (also, there could be someone/someones who can rapidly develop/rise up through the system like Luis Gohara did in 2017 from High Class A to MLB….let’s not forget that Ronald Acuna would have also went from High Class A to MLB IF Kemp/Markakis didnt block Acuna from being called up in September)!

While I’m not expecting The Braves to realistically make a serious playoff run in 2018…I’m HELLA EXCITED to see how our PLETHORA of young pitchers (as well as Albies, Acuna and even Swanson) develop/rise to the occasion/prove that they are long term assets who can be a part of another special, potential 10-15 year run of playoff success! I’m having deja vu vision of 2018 being a repeat of 1990 (when the likes of David Justice hitting 20 homers in August-September..while Steve Avery’s MLB debut that season showed a preview of the possibility of a young guns type rotation for years to come of Smoltz/Glavine/Avery…..gave Braves fans HOPE of the exciting 1991 Season that would come)!

I know that many of you ‘get excited’ at the prospect of making trades that could turn The Braves into playoff contenders in 2018 (especially given that we have not won a playoff series since 2001)….however, why not instead look at making moves that would position The Braves into making The 2019 Season “A Season to Remember”? I feel that these ‘going for it in 2018’ type trades….would sacrifice the ability of The Braves to be LONG TERM PLAYOFF Contenders! We simply have TOO MANY unanswered questions to ‘go for it’ in 2018. Yet I’m HIGHLY OPTIMISTIC that these current unanswered questions have a high probability of being answered by the end of The 2018 Season….assuming that our youngsters can avoid the injury bug (I know, a big if….but I’d rather go with ‘the big if’ with young, cheap, cost controlled, high ceiling type players)!

I appreciate your entire comment, I just only feel compelled to respond to the part about contention….

This trade, and my general thoughts on the Braves, are not for one year of contention… I will not and would not want a move that is win for one year only. The Braves cannot afford to make such moves, its just not in the financial cards.

This trade, however, does not affect any of that. Folty only has 3 years left of arbitration and is close to having zero or negative value. Right now he has value, so I’m willing to stop betting on him and cash in, if you will. Julio, while I absolutely love him and think that the Braves need players like him, is the kind of player it takes to get an Ian Happ type of player in return.

I understand the reservation that you’ve never heard of Zagunis and that’s fine, but take a look at his scouting grades and fangraphs page. Here’s a link: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=16565&position=OF#advanced

Now, back to Happ… he’s controlled for 6 more years. This move is FOR THE FUTURE understanding that our stud pitchers are on the rise or already at the majors — with three absolute horses in Gohara, Fried, and Newcomb (to a lesser extent Sims). We’re running out of spots in the rotation and have Allard/Soroka/Wright coming right behind them. that’s 6 big time arms. So, I’m proposing a trade from a position of depth for a position we’re shallow in. It’s not mortgaging any future, not even a little bit.

Will Soprano…interesting counterpoints.

I’d like to point out that according to https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SgDNu7upLALXCf59fcrANGZtDLdiRaL7PB1aUcpGB0M/pubhtml Folty has 4 arbitration seasons left (I guess he’s a Super 2…meaning that he wont be eligible for Free Agency until after The 2021 Season). That 4th year of team control makes Folty even more valuable, especially if he’s able to ‘work it out’ on the mound!

Secondly, you touched on ‘the depth/possibly running out of spots in the rotation due to our depth of High Ceiling Starting Pitching Prospects. Might I also point out to you that within a 2-3 year period of time in the early part of this decade..The Braves LOST Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlin ALL to injuries? All of them were YOUNG/TALENTED/WORK-HORSE type starting pitchers who were supposed to ANCHOR our rotation for years to come.

Dude, you CAN NEVER have ‘too much Starting pitching depth’! Now I’m not saying that we should ‘never’ trade any Starting Pitching Prospects. I’m saying that until we figure out EXACTLY which ones we want to keep (see which ones can stay healthy consistently/can consistently pitch into the 7th inning most nights (in other words, NOT need 100 pitches just to make it into the 5th inning on most nights)/can translate their stuff into ‘hit and miss’ at The MLB Level)…..it would be SMART for us to take a ‘wait and see’ approach (at least for The 2018 Season…which I feel will go a long ways towards answering a lot of these questions).

What’s one more losing season…especially if it gives our youngsters valuable time to not only show us what they can do at The MLB Level..BUT ALSO valuable time for The Prospects in MiLB to either push their way into MLB…OR polish their resumes to make them MORE VALUABLE to trade IF the right trade crosses our path?

I really believe that The 2018 Season MIRRORS The 1990 Season! That season was the springboard for what became The Miraculous 1991 Season! The 1990 Offseason was when John S. WENT OUT and signed MAJOR Free Agents at 3rd and 1st (Pendleton was the 1991 MVP)…as well as signing Rafael Belliard to platoon with Jeff Blauser at short and Otis Nixon and Deion Sanders to platoon in center. In addition John S. signed/traded for a number of bullpen pieces to shore up our bullpen!

People forget that John S came on during The 1990 Season and basically used the rest of that year to evaluate what he had…..then made moves that offseason because THE YOUNG TALENT on the field showed that they were ready, with some help, to SHOCK THE WORLD in 1991! I feel that it would be prudent for our new GM, AA, to do the same thing for The 2018 Season! Give our young talent time to show him what we have going into The 2019 Season…and work his skills filling in the holes that will give us a chance to SHOCK THE WORLD in 2019…AS WELL as be able to field a contender FOR YEARS TO COME!

Lastly, in regards to Ian Happ, if he were to pan out, he’d be a great fit in Atlanta. An outfield of Happ, Inciarte and Acuna would be NICE, lol! For that to happen, AA would have to not only DUMP Markakis but also Kemp in the same offseason. I do not see that happening UNLESS The Braves were willing to either cut one or both of them OR if AA was willing to include SIGNIFICANT PROSPECTS to entice teams to take on those salaries. I would be DEAD SET against squandering prospects like that! That’s why I maintain that it would be MUCH EASIER for The Braves to wait until after The 2018 Season to trade Kemp (he’ll only have one year/$18.5 mil left on his deal…..we can more than afford to eat $6-$8 mil or so of that contract while an AL team in need of a power hitting DH will only have to take a one year gamble for around $10 mil or so on Kemp).

I just don’t think you trade your two most established right handers as gohara, fried and Newcombe are all left handed (as is allard). I also don’t think the cubs would want to take on the twenty million in salary as proposed in the trade. Teheran and vizcaino would give them relief help which they need and Quintanas Buddy Teheran who the cubs probably view as a number 4 starter. I would be good with those two for happ even if we have to get back a little salary so the cubs could go after a #1 like Darvish. Happ Acuna inciarte would be an exciting OF for sure and the braves who were close to last in homers last year desperately need power and better OF defense too. Vizcaino is fairly close to free agency and there are many free agent relievers out there so it wouldn’t kill the braves to lose him. The braves would still have to sign an established RH pitcher if they trade Teheran. Trading Teheran and folty would require signing Two established pitchers to replace them. I still think the braves could get someone like yelich from the marlins by taking on the dead contract of Edison volquez to provide salary relief (13 million), and for Ian Anderson, dpetey and pache. Yelich would hit 25 homers playing half his games at suntrust, plays great D etc etc. yelich checks all the boxes and helps to balance the line up some when Riley gets here. Point is, the braves need to trade kakes and kemp to be a better team and they only have one realistic in house options or replacements.

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