Weekend Rewind on Bautista, Wisler, and More

Weekend Rewind on Bautista, Wisler, and More

I’ve started a number of articles over the last couple of days, but none of them really had that “yeah, that’s the good stuff” factor to them. As a result, I haven’t posted about a number of news stories. But that’s not a good idea, either, as a series of things haven’t been talked about at all outside of the comment section. So, with the advantage of hindsight, let’s look at some of the recent decisions, moves, and news.

Jose Ramirez Blows It and is DL’d

Fresh off being charged with five earned runs in the awful conditions last weekend at Wrigley, the Braves right-handed reliever gave up four runs against the Phillies in an extra-innings loss. His total over the two outings – 1.1 ING, 5 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP. After the second game, he mentioned that he was dealing with some shoulder stiffness and he was soon DL’d. It was yet another blow to a bullpen that had one of the top ERAs in the league before the Wrigley game that everyone seemed to agree shouldn’t have been played.

Jose Ramirez | Jeff Morris @JeffMorrisAB

But that ERA, much like Ramirez’s ERA in 2017, should have come with an asterisk. It should have read that “Reliever ERA cannot be trusted.” There’s nothing new about this idea. The only thing new is our widespread understanding of the principle. On one hand, we have the actual results based on what box scores explicitly say. That helps us build rate stats like strikeouts and walks. It also gives us one of the most widely used stats – still to this day – in Earned Run Average. But over the last several years, we’ve refined the belief of what expected results should look like. We utilize those rate stats, add a dash of league information, and spit out things like Fielding Independent Pitching to give us a comparison tool.

The ERA vs. FIP argument is highlighted by the differences in WAR between Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. The latter, for instance, graded Ramirez’s 2017 season as a 1.0 WAR year. They did this because Ramirez had a 3.19 ERA over 62 innings. But Fangraphs gave him a -0.4 WAR.

So, did he have a good year or a bad year? Yes.

He had a good year because the results said so. Regardless of what we can say about the metrics, Ramirez did his job. He got outs. He didn’t even vulture wins from other pitchers in the process as he allowed just 4-of-16 inherited runners to score. The results are pretty clear and Ramirez was a solid reliever in 2017. But it was also a bad year because the expected results were so poor. He had a FIP of 4.88 and an expected FIP of 5.00. He was essentially a slightly worse pitcher than he was the previous season.

But who cares, right? It’s a results-driven business and only results matter.

Except expected results give us a glimpse into what the future may look like. Not always. Let’s be clear – some pitchers will spend their whole career with a FIP higher than their ERA because of their style of pitching. One such example was Tim Hudson. Most of the time, pitchers that remain successful despite a higher FIP than their ERA are guys who don’t get many strikeouts. Context is always important. If you looked at Hudson’s 2010 FIP of 4.09 next to a 2.83 ERA and said “he’s going to come back to Earth,” you weren’t taking into account the pitcher that Hudson was.

Exceptions exist, but many pitchers suffer subsequent troubles the next season based on the luck-Gods taking the year off. In 2016, Dan Straily had a 3.76 ERA over 191.1 innings and looked to be a pitcher on the rise. However, he also had a 4.88 FIP and “saber nerds” were saying to expect a worse follow-up effort. His 2017 ERA was half-a-run higher. And he wasn’t alone. Ian Kennedy, Jake Odorizzi, Jerad Eickoff, and Chris Tillman all saw at least 40 points added to their ERA after outpitching their FIP the previous year.

Back to Jose Ramirez now. In 2017, Ramirez finished with a 3.19 ERA, a 4.88 FIP, a 5.00 xFIP, and a 4.43 SIERA (another metric that tries to find the quality of pitching). This disparity between results and expected results come from a league-average strikeout rate of 21.7%, a below-average walk rate of 11.2%, and homerun rates (HR/9 and HR/FB) that were both above average. The advanced metrics saw a pitcher prime for regression.

Was that a guarantee? Hell no, but if you were a betting man coming into 2018, you would have been foolish to expect solid results from Ramirez based on what the metrics were telling you. Certainly, pitching hurt – his fastball velocity is down a couple of ticks – won’t help. But I don’t think we can say it’s all injury, either.

Anibal Down, Wisler Up

The injury to Anibal Sanchez while running sprints in the outfield the day before his next start put the Braves in a bit of a confusing position. Sanchez had been a stabilizing force in the rotation over his first few starts and was looking to build on that success. Meanwhile, Luiz Gohara was still a few weeks off from being able to return and other stud pitchers weren’t available. The Braves made a decision to go with Matt Wisler over Lucas Sims, who had replaced Ramirez on the roster.

Braves fans prepared for the worst.

What they got was Wisler’s best. Wisler became the first Braves starter to complete seven innings of work in 2018. He allowed just two hits, including a solo home run on maybe his only real mistake of the evening. He threw strikes and plenty of them, finishing with eight K’s and zero walks. Game Score grades the start as the third-best of his career. From a context standpoint, it may have actually been the best when you consider the situation and timing. Here was Matt Wisler, whose unimpressive spring helped to convince the Braves to sign Sanchez in the first place, climbing the SunTrust Park mound only because of an injury to Sanchez and throwing the game of his life.

One game doesn’t make a Cy Young Award winner, but let’s consider this performance. In fact, let’s do a Mini-Statcasting article. For one game, at least, Wisler embraced the idea of being a three-pitch pitcher and scrapped his changeup and curve for the most part. Against righties, he was essentially a four-seam/slider guy while he added a heavy dose of sinkers against left-hand hitters. The big difference, though, wasn’t in pitch selection or velocity, but release point and depth to his slider. Wisler has worked over the last couple of seasons to increase his arm angle and release point. This was a key in Jake Arrieta‘s resurgence with the Cubs.

As a result, Wisler was getting more bend on his slider and the late movement was hard for Mets’ hitters to figure out. They swung at the slider 58% of the time Wisler threw it. They only put it in play 8%. For years, we’ve talked about Wisler’s fallback potential as a reliever with good mid-90’s heat that he has great control over and a swing-and-miss slider. If he has more games like he did Thursday, he won’t need a fallback option to the pen. Sanchez’s injury doesn’t appear to be a big concern anymore. He will be back sooner rather than later. Rarely over the last few years have the Braves had too many competent starters for the rotation. I hear it’s a nice problem to have.

Braves Sign Jose Bautista

Well, uh, that’s weird.

In their yearly quest to load up on old-and-broken home run champs, the Atlanta Braves have signed Jose Bautista to a minor league deal. Bautista, who has six starts at third base since 2011, has a shot to earn a spot on the major league roster at the hot corner. To put that in another way, the Braves haven’t signed Bautista to give Ronald Acuña Jr. yet another obstacle in taking over the world.

Jose Bautista | Steve Givarz, @SteveGivarz, 2080 Ball

It’s an interesting signing and we’ve seen plenty of people go insane about it. I’ll go over some of the fears and concerns related to signing Bautista, but first, let’s talk about the actual player. It’s been a pretty sudden fall from grace for Bautista, who was among the most-feared hitters in baseball from 2010 to 2015. He was still productive in 2016 with a .355 wOBA and 122 wRC+, but struggled to keep up with the league last year. He hit just .203/.308/.366 and while he did bash 23 home runs, he did it with a 11.9% HR/FB rate. It hadn’t been that low in nearly a decade.

The big reason for the dropoff? I mean, he was 36 years old. What is usually a drop off for players that age? Yep, the bat slowed down. From 2010-15, Bautista destroyed heaters. Only Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, and Shin-Soo Choo had a better wFB number than Bautista. Because he was so dangerous against fastballs, he got a lot of breaking balls for strikes and he pulverized them, too. But starting first in 2016, the production level declined. Last year, only three hitters had a worse wFB score than Bautista and he had the eighth-worst score against sliders.

As a result, his quality of contact stats has shifted toward the soft rating. His exit velocity in 2017 alone rarely went above 90 mph. He popped the occasional homer and pitchers continued to pitch him carefully, leading to a number of walks, but he was a much easier out. His contact rate on swings slipped dramatically as well – especially on outside-the-zone contact. The latter was even more worrisome because he swung more at those pitches than ever. His ability to hit any pitch was once laudable. Now, it was gone.

Why sign him, then? Because why not?

I hate to be glib, but why don’t you give a guy with a 40-home run season on his record in 2015 a shot? The Braves tried this with Ryan Howard and everyone went crazy. “How can you sign Howard? He’s done!” Yeah, he was. As a result, he was released. Is Bautista also done? There’s a good chance of it, but at least the Braves can throw him against some minor league competition and find out first.

Of course, there is a slight difference here. The Braves didn’t sign Ryan Howard and say, “We’ll try him out at third base.” In their defense, Bautista played a good chunk of third base earlier in his career. He wasn’t very good at it and it makes the choice to use him there a bit more confusing since Alex Anthopoulos has spoken at lengths about improving team defense as a chief concern for Atlanta. But as we saw last year with Freddie Freeman, our quick disregard for the idea of non-third basemen playing the position is a bit unfounded. That’s not to say Bautista will be an ace defender at third – willing to bet he won’t be. But he might just be decent enough.

In addition, with defensive shifts and other analytical data, infield defense – especially at the corners – isn’t quite as important as it once was.

Back of Braves Bullpen Ever-Changing

Over the last week, we have seen Jesse Biddle and Miguel Socolovich come up, Jose Ramirez go on the DL, Lucas Sims come up and go back down, and Josh Ravin come up only to go into DFA hell. Part of this is kind of par for the course. Teams are taking advantage of very close Triple-A squads by mixing up the arms to get fresh ones. The bigger reason, though, is probably the lack of quality pitching we’ve seen from the bullpen.

The ERA, which was once so glorious, has dropped to 3.36. That’s just outside the top 10, but the FIP and the xFIP are especially bad at 3.84 and 4.79. The last number is especially troubling because only two teams have a higher xFIP in baseball. The Braves have been fortunate that a 16.5% walk rate hasn’t hurt more than it already has. It’s the worst mark in baseball and not all that close. They’ve been able to more lucky-than-good because of a .259 BABIP and an insanely low 0.24 HR/9. Despite the fact that they induce the second-fewest groundouts among bullpens in baseball, the Braves have the lowest amount of homeruns surrendered.

That won’t continue. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there’s a lot that can be done in the short-term. Outside of Dan Winkler and Shane Carle, nobody is really throwing quality strikes out of the bullpen on a consistent basis early on this season. A.J. Minter and Arodys Vizcaino should improve and Sam Freeman has to be able to find the strikezone at a better rate than 36.4%. These five pitchers should form a strong core. It’s finding other options outside those top four to shoulder some of the load. Peter Moylan is hyper-limited as a right-hand-batter-only option.

Jesse Biddle, who has strangely not been used since his call-up, might be worth an extended look. That is if Brian Snitker remembers that Biddle is in the pen.

21 Comments

The Ramirez injury thing really bothers me. Either way you look at it makes him look bad. Either he had the injury and told no one and then blew two games and then told someone or he’s trying to blame a phantom injury on his problems. If he just got the injury during or after his last appearance then he’s just no good. Any way you cut it; it’s time to cut him.

Wilser is just the opposite. The potential has always seemed to be there but he couldn’t make good on it. If he does continue his success, I’d still feel as if it were unreliable and I’d sell high on him. There are just too many others in the org that have a better trajectory.

What they’re doing with Biddle just confuses and annoys me. I understand why the brought Sims in in a 10-1 game, but they brought Freeman in to close out the 8th. Why not use Biddle in that situation? Debuting in a 10-4 game would have been perfect and he’s as much a lefty as Freeman. Now they have doomed Biddle in his first appearance because he hasn’t pitched in nearly a week. Same thing that’s supposedly cooled off Acuna and Camargo – sitting on their butts too long. Biddle has been so good in the high minors for the last year and a bit; I just don’t know what their problem is. He doesn’t have a walk problem like Morris. They were especially careful to limit his innings last year like they did with Minter. Why not give him a mop-up inning either in the 8th or ninth of a blowout?

I really don’t like the Bautista signing, but if it works, I’ll be happy. Probably just need a couple of good, BABIP-infused months from him.

The bullpen is so close. With five good options (Viz, Minter, Winkler, Freeman, and Carle), you just need a couple of good add-ons. Biddle might be one. Fried (or Wisler or Sanchez or Whitley?) could be another for this year. I’d like to see Fried in the rotation and the Braves bring in a bullpen ace. That’s something that could be traded for.

Roger….I understand why Snitker brought Sims in to pitch the top of the 8th. He wanted to save his bullpen (give an extra day of rest to the pitchers he wants to pitch in high leverage situations). However Sims showed that he simply DOES NOT deserve to be in The Majors at this time.

After what happened in Chicago on Saturday….The Braves could not afford to let this game get away…remember, it was 10-3 with the bases loaded and one out when Freeman came in. He gave up a sacrifice fly, then got a pop up to end the threat. Bringing in Biddle in that situation to make his MLB debut…would not have been smart for Snitker to do. I blame Sims for Freeman and Moylan being wasted on Thursday.

Dude…your point about Carmago ‘sitting on his butt’ makes NO SENSE (he was INJURED..that’s why he didnt make The Opening Day Roster. He had to play a rehab stint in The Minors AFTER he got healthy).

When it comes to Acuna’s poor start….he simply had to BUCKLE DOWN and overcome it. Dude, he’s NOT the 1st prospect who had to ‘endure’ the disappointment of not making a team’s MLB Opening Day Roster DESPITE it looking like he ‘deserved it’! The economics of the game are realities any athlete has to deal with. If Acuna is that fragile mentally that he cannot overcome this type of ‘disappointment’…then there is NO FREAKING WAY that he’ll ever have even a decent MLB career (what, you dont think that ‘slumps/tough calls/unfortunate breaks’ EVER happen during the careers of EVERY MLB PLAYER?).

While I feel that Acuna will eventually rebound and be the player for The Braves his talent suggests he’ll be….it’s going to take more than ‘a couple of good games at the plate’ before it makes ANY SENSE to call up Acuna! 2 or 3 games where he goes 5 for 10 with a couple of homers….IS NOT ENOUGH to warrant a callup!

If The Braves wait to come back home before calling up Acuna…he’ll make his MLB debut on May 4th against The Giants. That would mean that it’ll potentially cost The Braves $10 mil plus in additional salary in 2021 for the 29 games he’ll play in before June 4th (which is when his Super 2 would pass if The Braves were to wait until then to call up Acuna). Like it or not….at this point, The Braves might as well keep Acuna in Triple A until June 4th.

Lastly, I doubt that Max Fried will ever have it in him to consistently go 6-7 innings a start in The Majors. He usually needs 90-100 pitches to even get to the 5th innings in most of this starts. He has great stuff..no doubt. However I’ve stated all along that he has an Andrew Miller role written all over him in his future.

I am TOTALLY AGAINST The Braves bringing in ‘an ace’ (whether via Free Agency…because NO ONE is even CLOSE to being the age, 26, when he signed with The Braves. Clayton Kershaw will be 31 when The 2019 Season starts)…OR via a trade (the cost would be PROHIBITIVE prospect-wise).

Dude, The Braves have SO MUCH young, potentially high upside starting pitching talent in The Minors right now…..AA should just build The Braves Future Rotation FROM WITHIN..and use the payroll flexibility to go after YOUNG Power Hitting/middle of the order hitters like Harper and Machado during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason!

I know, NO ONE really thinks that The Braves have a chance to sign EITHER Machado or Harper. However, if AA offers BOTH of them between $35-$40 mil a year long term deals…there is NO WAY that EITHER ‘shuns’ even listening to AA’s pitch! I’ve done EXTENSIVE roster/payroll projections for 2019-2020-2021 (and beyond)…The Braves can afford to sign Machado, Harper AND Kimbrel this offseason (with a projected $150 mil team payroll for 2019..and increasing payroll by $10-$15 mil in each year afterward. Think about it, if a playoff contending Braves team is NOT ONLY filling up Sun Trust Field BUT ALSO increasing the profits of the surrounding Battery Properties….The Braves will be able to AFFORD an increased payroll!).

The rest of 2018 will let AA know what he’ll have working for him when it comes to projecting The Braves Rotation for 2019 and beyond. Assuming that Brandon McCarthy is either dealt at The July Trade Deadline OR walks away as a Free Agent (no way do The Braves pay him what he’ll be asking for via Free Agency)…AA will have the following to choose from for 2019:

1. Julio Teheran (IF he’s not traded by The July Trade Deadline)
2. Mike Folty. He’ll likely anchor our rotation for 2019.
3. Luis Gohara. Unless he falls on his face, he’s a shoe-in for 2019.
4. Sean Newcomb. IF he keeps up what’s he’s been doing lately.
5. Mike Soroka. Same as Luis Gohara
6. Kolby Allard. Even if he spends the whole year in Triple A, he’ll get a September callup…as well as an opportunity in Spring Training 2019 to ‘audition’ for a starting spot.
7. Kyle Wright. Even though he started 2018 in Double A, he’ll likely be called up to Triple A within the next month…and be in line for a September call-up IF he excels in Triple A. Like Allard, he’ll probably ‘audition’ for a starting spot in Spring Training 2019.
8. (Dare I say)…Matt Wisler. Slow your roll, lol…let’s see how he does in the next start or two (in addition to the rest of 2018 IF he sticks around)!
9. Max Fried. I know, I’ve been making the case for him to fill an Andrew Miller-like role. However lefty starters DO NOT grow on trees, and AA would be foolish to not at least give him every chance to ‘prove’ that he ISNT a MLB caliber starting pitcher.

In addition, Tooki Tousiant and Patrick Weigel will be pitching in Triple A in 2019….possibly joined by the likes of Joey Wentz, Bryce Wilson and Ian Anderson (depending on how long they spend in Class A Florida). Kyle Muller and Tucker Davidson are also promising starting pitching prospects.

With the prospect of having A HELLA CHEAP rotation/keep bullpen pieces outside of a potential Craig Kimbrel signing….I’d rather see The Braves INVEST financially in a couple of POWER HITTING/MIDDLE OF THE ORDER Free Agents!

Roger….in my last post, I meant to say that there is no one out there in Free Agency, who is close to being the age (26 years old) AND talent that Greg Maddux was when he signed with The Braves after The 1992 season (Clayton Kershaw will be 31 years old when The 2019 Season begins IF he opts out of his contact and becomes a Free Agent after the season). Signing Kershaw to a $35 mil a year deal..would be HELLA RISKY!

And we’d still need to improve the offense/power production! I’d rather stay away from a Josh Donaldson who is on the wrong side of 30 (as well as showing signs of being injury prone the past 2 seasons).

Tommy…I hope that The Braves NEVER see Jose Ramirez pitching for The Braves. He simply walks too many hitters/doesnt have an out pitch to get hitters out consistently when he gets 2 strikes on them. If The 2018 Braves are expected to continue to seriously compete…Ramirez CANNOT be pitching in meaningful games for The Braves.

While Ryan Flaherty has a high batting average…he’s simply not providing much power at a position that historically is counted on to provide such power. While I dont expect the signing of Jose Bautista to amount to much…..it is a non-expensive ‘flyer/lottery ticket’ that could hit (especially given that no one really expected much from Sanchez, Flaherty no Tucker). If Bautista can ‘rediscover’ his power stroke…The Braves could use his right handed power in this lineup.

I touched on this last night….The Braves need back of the bullpen pitchers who can pitch effectively for more than one inning at a time. AA either needs to find guys who a couple of guys who can fill that role (Sanchez and Wisler are possibilities…)…OR…our starters need to start going at least 7-8 innings a night MORE OFTEN. If not…then The Braves are going to have a hard time staying competitive come the dog days of summer! Injuries are a realistic possibility…in addition to bullpen burnout.

The above reasons…(along with a general lack of home run power from our offense) are why it’s hard to put too much hope in 2018 being a playoff year.

However, with the eventual addition of Acuna (along with the possible Free Agent addition of hitters with power to our lineup…like Machado and Harper)…2019 is more realistic when it comes to making a playoff run!

Is it too much…to ask The Braves coaches to TEACH these Braves players HOW TO FREAKING SLIDE? Inciarte, Albies and Burjouis have been thrown out MULTIPLE TIMES this year as a result of BAD SLIDES!

Seeing these BS ‘popup slides/over-sliding the bag’ type slides OVER AND OVER AGAIN…is SICKENING! Ender steals 2nd…then had 3rd stolen in the bottom of the 6th inning ONLY to POP UP as he slides over the 3rd base bag. A couple of games ago…Albies did the same thing (stole 2nd, then proceeded to do THE SAME THING when he had 3rd stolen).

Also….did MLB institute a rule that when it come Instant Replay….any ‘close calls’ goes against The Braves? I was under the impression that replay has to be IRREFUTABLE in order for a call to be overturned…..YET when a team challenges a call that favored The Braves…if it’s ‘close’ it gets overturned. However when a call goes against The Braves that ‘looks like’ it should be overturned…the call will stand.

That call overturning the safe call on Inciarte….was overturned WAY TOO QUICKLY. Against The Phillies..Ozzie Albies had a bunt that looked like he beat out…YET replay let the out call stand! Yet earlier in the game, when The Phillies had a player who bunt and was called out…replay overturned it and called him safe DESPITE it not looking like it was IRREFUTABLE!

What is the point in having replay..IF replay cannot get it right consistently? I’ve seen some calls go against The Braves this year via replay..that left me thinking “am I not seeing the same thing that the replay officials are seeing’? Am I being UNREASONABLE to expected THE IRREFUTABLE STANDARD to be applied EVENLY to all MLB teams?

GREAT COMEBACK WIN by The Braves tonight!

1. The Defense SUCKED! 3 Freaking Errors tonight! Ozzie Albies played TERRIBLE…Inciarte made a TERRIBLE THROW trying to make a Superman throw when the situation did not call for one to be even attempted.

2. Bad Base Running by Inciarte tonight on that popup slide.

3. deGroom basically DOMINATED US for 7 innings (with the help of some GENEROUS CALLS by Eric Gregg’s ‘slim cousin’).

4. Sam Freeman walks ANOTHER leadoff hitter (which, with the help of some bad defense by Albies, led to that 3 run 8th inning).

HOWEVER, despite all that….this Braves team FOUND A WAY to GRIND OUT a comeback against The Mets to pull within 2 games of The Mets (The Phillies keep winning..are only 1 game back). Inciarte REDEEMED himself with that ‘walk off bunt’!

Having Carmago as a pinch hitter was CRUCIAL tonight. As long as Flaherty keeps hitting…I’d like to see Carmago, when all is said and done with Flowers and Acuna eventually getting called up, as The Super Utility player/pinch hitting option (Charlie Culberson is simply USELESS as a pinch hitter…or even as a threat as a hitter).

I would push for Albies to be giving tomorrow off (he could probably use an off day). However we need his bat in the lineup..and it’s against The Mets.

Winning tonight gave us, worst case scenario, a 2-2 split in this series. However, while The Mets had to use their best bullpen pitchers for the past 2 days in a row….Minter, Vizcaino, Winkler AND Moylan ALL go to rest today! If Folty comes out and pitches like he’s capable..AND if The Braves can get Wheeler out by the 6th inning tomorrow…I LOVE The Braves chances tomorrow!

It would be simply FANTASTIC if we end tomorrow with a 3-1 series win….one game out of 1st…with the next 4 games in Cincy against A TERRIBLE Reds team! Before I get into my ‘expectations’ against The Reds…let’s try and get tomorrow’s game in the bag first!

Tommy, you raised an interesting point as it relates to the Bautista signing, and it’s why I have such an an issue with it, and this GM- he tailors the narrative to what suits him.

AA came in, and immediately the stated goal was to improve the team defense. The club did the Dodgers a huge solid and swung the Kemp deal, saving the Dodgers millions, and improving the Braves “team defense” in the process. I didn’t love it, and I’ve have simply rather seen them utilize Kemp one more year, then either cut him, or eat whatever was required to move next year’s salary.

If Matt Kemp’s defense wasn’t good enough for LF though, how on Earth will Bautista’s play at 3B?

If Markakis wasn’t hitting, and they were bringing in Bautista to platoon in RF, or flat out try to claim the position- I’d be somewhat fine with the move. As you said, Tommy, for a million bucks, what’s the harm in bringing in a former HR champ and giving him a shot? Maybe you catch lightning in a bottle.

When AA spends every dime worth of payroll the club had for this season though, and forgo signing real 3B options in a down market, because he wanted to unload Kemp for defensive purposes- it’s then puzzling why he’d go against the mantra before May with this Bautista thing.

King…..Dude, AA did not want to tie up multiple years (nor give up a 4th round draft pick/as well as the signing bonus that goes with it to give prospective draft picks..remember, we’ve already had our 3rd round pick and signing bonus money associated with it taken away with The Coppy Sanctions)…by signing a Moustakis for one year OR have Todd Frazier (who clearly wanted to stay in New York) be overpaid/tie up 3rd base for multiple years (if we offered him more than The Mets were willing to pay him).

I know that NONE OF YOU GUYS think that AA is going to make a push to go after Machado, Harper AND Kimbrel this offseason. However, AA did not take this job…to basically ‘bargain bin shop’ every year! He made The Kemp Trade..as well as basically decide to take the ‘bargain bin shop’ route for 2018…..in order to CLEAR THE WAY to be A SERIOUS PLAYER during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason!

AA did not sign Bautista to be a ‘full time’ 3rd baseman. If Flaherty keeps hitting..he’ll play against righties. However, Bautista will probably start at 3rd against lefties (as well as maybe spell Markakis in right on occasion against a tough lefty)…because he has POWER from the right side of the plate..which this lineup really needs against a starting lefty!

With Bautista slated to come up in a few weeks..if things play out like I think they will…by early May (when Gohara, Sanchez and Flowers are also slated to return)…the following should be our bench/bullpen (I’ll post BOTH a 4 man bench/8 man bullpen AND 5 man bench/7 man bullpen HYPOTHETICAL options):

4 man bench:

1. Carmago
2. Bautista/Flaherty (Bautista against lefties/Flaherty against righties)
3. Flowers/Suzuki (one of them will start, the other on the bench)
4. Burjouis

I would only keep Burjouis over Culberson..because we need someone to play defense late in games to replace Tucker when we have the need. When Acuna eventually comes up, Burjouis will be dropped and Tucker will fill the 4th slot on the bench (which would make for a pretty strong 4 man bench!)!

A 5 man bench….would add Carlos Perez as the 3rd catcher (which would allow Flowers/Suzuki to be a pinch hitting option earlier WITHOUT worrying about not having a catch available should the one who is starting get hurt IF the game goes into extra innings).

8 man bullpen:

1. Vizcaino
2. Minter
3. Winkler
4. Carle
5. Freeman
6. Moylan
7. Sanchez
8. Biddle/Wisler (depends on what Wisler does in his next start or two. If Wisler does well…then when Gohara comes back AA will have to decide if he wants Wisler to continue starting in The Minors, in case another starter gets injury and they need him already stretched out/available…OR..if they want him to be a multi-inning reliever like Sanchez at the back of the bullpen).

However, if AA decides to go with a 7 man bullpen/5 man bench…then obviously Biddle/Wisler will both be sent down.

When Acuna comes back..AND if Bautista shows he can rake against lefties….I REALLY LOVE the potential of a 4 man bench of Carmago, Bautista, Flowers/Suzuki and Tucker would bring. Not only would Acuna bring some lefty-righty balance to our lineup…but Snitker would have A HELLA STRONG BENCH to choose from as pinch hitting options.

If The Braves can stay relatively healthy/competitive by June…..we should be able to stay in this race/be legit playoff contenders in 2018.

King, I know that both you and Roger have ripped AA for not being BOLD this past offseason….however, if you really look what I just pointed out in this post….there’s a plan here! On occasion…’bargain bin shopping’ can be profitable, lol!

King, you would think we’d all have a problem with the Kemp trade considering how he’s currently hitting in LA. But, no, it was the right thing to do regardless of narrative. We didn’t just get improved defense with that trade. Recall that the Braves also had desired at least one or two starting pitchers to fill out the rotation. I think McCarthy was a good pickup. Kemp may have his hot streak but as soon as the hammy kicks in he’ll get fat and stop hitting again. McCarthy may get injured but he’s been a great addition. By the time he gets injured someone else may be ready to fill in (Fried or Soroka). Tucker was an improvement on Kemp’s defense as were Adams and Bourjos. The best thing is that Tucker has provided good offense while waiting for Acuna (or is that Godot?). Bautista is not going to move the needle one way or the other. We do need the power either at 3B or on the bench. After watching Culberson and Bourjos pinch hit the last few games, I am more and more mad that Adams was dropped. But, ultimately, Culberson and Bourjos will go too – probably for Acuna and Bautista.

If Bautista has a hot streak. it’s worth it. If not, then AA could still deal for Moustakas at the deadline or earlier. In the meantime, the defensive replacements for the OF and IF will be Camargo and Flaherty. In case no one’s noticed, both Markakis and Tucker have pretty much fallen back to Earth. Markakis is, again, a .280 singles hitter who walks some and Tucker has hit less than .200 over the last week. Markakis really needs to be traded out too. Maybe Bautista is a backstop for trading Markakis. I think Tucker could easily replace Markakis especially in a platoon with Bautista.

I hate to admit that I am finding logic in some of these moves. It’s not the logic I’d prefer but there is logic behind it. We still need a bold move for a power hitter – probably at 3B – and a solid closer-worthy reliever to solidify the team’s position this year as legitimate playoff threat. Outside of Gohara, Flowers, and Acuna, the only cavalry we have prior to September call-ups will be in the pitching with the likes of Fried and Soroka, which we currently don’t need.

You know something, KC’s OF situation is pretty dire outside of Jorge Soler (and Alex Gordon on DL). Markakis would be a considerable upgrade. A Markakis for Moustakas trade would even out the dollars and the Braves wouldn’t have to throw in much of a sweetener to finish the deal since both are on deals that end this year. Maybe a Wisler or a Dustin Peterson type or both might get it done. I’d certainly even throw in a Sims or Weigel too. Seems like Dayton Moore would be the perfect trading partner.

Roger…how can you even put Weigel in the same sentence as Sims? Sims SUCKS..while Weigel was a DEALING STRIKEOUT MACHINE as a Starting pitcher UNTIL he blew his arm out. I want to see how he responds in 2019 in Triple A..before we just ‘give him away’ (or lump him in the same sentence as Lucas Sims, lol).

Also, there is NO WAY that KC takes back Markakis in any trade for Moustakis! The point in trading Moustakis to a contender…is to get LEGIT prospects back (cheap/potential high ceiling prospects)…NOT another aging veteran who is a free agent at the end of the season. While what you proposed would work out VERY WELL for The Braves…KC would be FOOLISH to make that trade!

If AA does make a deal..it will be to get a bullpen arm or two that are non-closers (a closer is too expensive in talent to acquire). With Acuna coming up….that’s basically acquiring a legit middle of the order type hitter.

The health of the starting pitching AND the bullpen not getting overworked…is what will determine how long The Braves stay in The Playoff Race for 2018…NOT going out and getting a Moustakis! Sure, if Moustakis can be had for a package of ‘non-essential’ prospects that arent in The Braves future…sure, I’d be down for that. However I see KC holding out for something more than that….ESPECIALLY if Gleyber Torres doesnt produce right away in the next few weeks playing 3rd (he was just called up). So far, injuries and a lack of production out of whoever The Yankees have plugged in at 3rd this year isnt helping their offense! The Yankees dont want Boston to run too far away with the division.

Roger, I agree- trading Kemp was the right thing to do. I just go back to that because I can’t understand why Kemp, who would’ve had many of the same flaws as Bautista probably will, had to be moved at the cost he was. It just feels “Anthopoulos guys” are given more leash than non-Anthopoulos guys. Are the Braves better or worse right now, if AA hadn’t leaned so heavily on the known, and signed Moose and Cashner, and rolled with Kemp until Acuna came up? I mean it’s all hindsight, but the pattern he’s followed worries me.

If there’s a long-term plan here, and the Braves do make a move in July if a move is warranted; and if they really did clear payroll to play in the Harper or Machado sweepstakes in earnest- I’ll happily admit I’m being too paranoid. Lol. Honestly, if 2/3 of Paul’s dream plan worked out, and we got Harper or Machado, plus Kimbrel- I’d be ecstatic. I’m just concerned the master plan is to go with Anthopoulos retreads this season, and/or swing a trade for Josh Donaldson, and spend huge money on him long-term.

King….there is NO WAY that AA is going to give BIG MONEY to an aging Josh Donaldson! ‘His guys’ that he’s brought back…(Sanchez, Bautista, Culberson…ARE NOT making any money, lol). The one guy who is making money (Brandon McCarthy at $10 mil in 2018)..is producing!

While it would be nice for McCarthy to stay healthy for all of 2018 (either he’ll pitch good for us all season…OR he becomes a valuable trade chip come The July Trade Deadline)..his history has shown that he’ll get hurt BEFORE the season ends. I just hope that McCarthy can hold up UNTIL Mike Soroka is ready this summer!

Look at the payroll projections going into The 2018 Offseason! AA making The Matt Kemp Trade….ALONG with the emergence of CHEAP/high ceiling/pre-arbitration players like Albies, Swanson (he wont be eligible for arbitration until after The 2019 Season), Gohara, Minter, Newcomb (he wont be eligible for arbitration until after The 2020 Season)……not to mention the soon callups of Acuna, Soroka, Allard and Wright (even Fried could be called up later this year)….AA is going to have MORE THAN ENOUGH MONEY to go after Machado, Harper AND Kimbrel this offseason…AND fit them into NOT ONLY The 2019 payroll ($150 mil payroll is MORE THAN FAIR to expect)..BUT ALSO future yearly payroll increases of $10-$15 mil (attendance revenues will increase with yearly playoff runs…ALONG with the printing press that is known as The Battery Properties that surround Sun Trust Field).

This team is starting to take shape. By early May, you should see Gohara, Sanchez, Flowers and Bautista on the roster (taking the place of Wisler, Biddle, Perez and Culberson). When Acuna finally arrives, that will be the exodus of Burjouis! However, imagine how strong our rotation/bullpen could be…..when Soroka, Allard, Wright and Fried are ready to contribute! AA is going to have some TOUGH DECISIONS on who to get rid of/demote/trade when those 4 young pitchers are ready this summer!

The writing is on the wall…..just enjoy the ride fellas. As long as injuries dont devastate The Braves this year…..my prediction of 86 wins may come to fruition!

This rainout actually helped The Mets WAY MORE than it helped The Braves. The Mets best relievers had all pitched the past 2 days in a row…while Vizcaino, Minter, Winkler and Moylan all had yesterday off!

It would have been nice to get a win today. However, we took 2 of 3 from The Mets…..we’re only 2 games out. With Cincy the next 4 days (the bullpen gets rested another day as well)..it will be interesting to see if Snitker pushes Wisler’s start back (in other words, go with Folty on Monday..skip Wisler in favor of McCarthy on Tuesday, Newcomb on Wednesday and Teheran on Thursday…which will have Folty and McCarthy with an extra day of rest, while the other 2 will be pitching on their regular turn. Then have Wisler pitch against Philly on Friday)? Wisler would have an extra 3 days of rest.

Until Wisler proves that what he did against The Mets wasnt a ‘one time’ fluke, I want our other 4 starting pitchers getting as many starts as they can (might as well take advantage of the rainouts, right)?

I was just looking at Tucker’s and Markakis’ and Flaherty’s splits against lefties and they are not great (this year or career wise). Tucker’s are especially bad. It’s no wonder he’s being replaced late by Bourjos not just for defense. Bautista could platoon with any of the three at 3B or OF. For the hype about Bautista and 3B, I would use him in place of Tucker against lefties. Camargo is plenty good to spell Flaherty against some lefties.

Roger….by June 4th (when Acuna’s Super 2 passes…enabling The Braves to have him for 3 years, 2019-2021, PLUS 102 games in 2018 at The MLB Minimum Wage of $550k with slight raises each year), Acuna will be the regular left fielder at home/right fielder on the road (with Markakis switching positions with Acuna on the road)….Preston Tucker will be the 4th outfielder.

I just hope that The Braves can stay competitive/stay relative healthy until then! These moves that AA has made…will make both the bench AND the bullpen HELLA STRONG…when Gohara, Flowers, Sanchez and Acuna (and even Bautista in a bench role) all make their way onto The Braves Roster.

Plus….imagine the shot in the arm that Soroka, Allard and Wright will potentially provide when they should be ready to make potentially significant contributions by The July Trade Deadline (while all three have looked good early in The MILB Season…all three need to be stretched out more/get more MILB experience the next few months).

Rodger — I really like tucker—but he is extremely hot and cold hitter.
Flaherty has allways been a glove 1st backup—till now. Is his change sustainable?
If J-Bats starts playing for the braves this week—what can we expect?
If he was injured last year—could he bounce back and actually play 3rd?
If Acuna gets to the braves with j-bats this week—tucker to AAA and DFA Culberson?
Gohara should be ready in a month. Soroka could be as well.
Can whisler repeat?
Should we keep Anibal just to coach Julio?
When to trade McCarthy?
I like how AA has moved cautiously—simply.

I like his logical approach.

His logic may say/-Flaherty can’t keep this up.
J bats is an improvement than tucker.
Acuna is our best player by end of year.
The pitching seems more flux.
If we can get 10 good starts out of Julio—can we move him and McCarthy and Anibal and whistler?

Not so sure—but he seems like a much better gm.

Andy, take another look at Tucker’s stats. It’s not that he’s hot and cold but he’s being a platoon bat right now. Platoon bats can look hot and cold if they face more same handed pitchers in a narrow timeframe. No way will he drop Tucker when Bautista is activated. Bourjos has to go. He’s not hitting any kind of pitchers. Tucker will be a good bench piece. Culberson will have to go when Acuna is called up – obviously, it could be vice versa but those two are low men on the totem pole. If Flaherty reverts to norm it will only be to the level that Culberson is playing now so you have to ride that hot streak to the end. Not to mention that he’s a better fielder than Bautista. Bautista will be a platoon bat in the OF until he proves he can hit ML pitching again. Even if Bautista hits well, he is only a stopgap that won’t last until next season. Ultimately (next season) all of Flaherty/Culberson/Bautista will be gone and Camargo will be UTIL an, hopefully, Riley will be 3B. Much as I hate to say it, the best primary option long term for LF may be to play in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. There is zero chance that Bautista is better than Tucker not to mention that they won’t compete much because Tucker is lefthanded. Tucker will be a 4th OF. The Braves do need a right-hander that can hit. Acuna will be one and Bautista may be the other. He just needs to be better than Bourjos or Culberson not Tucker.

Soroka will not be called up before the ASB as long as there are no injuries and the starters are pitching well – he may not get called until September. Wisler is already largely irrelevant as he’s just increasing his trade value. There are too many better placed options for the future. At this point he is just a younger version of Anibal Sanchez in terms of value to the Braves.

I’m not sure where the rumor of Sanchez helping Teheran came from. Active players are not kept around to coach others. They are kept to perform. It’s hard to believe that Teheran needs some sort of mental coach after 5-6 largely successful years in the majors.

I doubt McCarthy has any trade value even if he’s pitching well, because no one will want to take on his contract. The prime pitching trade candidates from the ML roster will be Anibal and Wisler. Teheran is a natural dilemma because the organization will want to move him when he’s not pitching well and keep when he is so the result is that he’s likely to never be traded.

I think this roster gets until about June to show consistency or fall back to Earth and then things will start popping on the trade market. There will be a crunch when all of Gohara, Flowers, Acuna, and Bautista need to be added. Don’t forget that Culberson is an AA “guy” and I haven’t seen him releasing any of his “guys” yet – except maybe Kazmir. We’ve gotten lucky so far; it’s noce to ride that luck, but eventually the pumpkins will be ripe and improvements will be needed.

Also, Acuna is killing himself. Not sure what the issue is be he’s just broken the Mendoza line and he has not hit for any power at all. At the current time, he’s not worth bringing up. I hope that changes soon but it’s taking quite a bit more time than it should.

I just hope AA has Dayton Moore on speed dial. As far as I can tell, AA has done nothing except bring in retread Blue Jays and Dodgers and ride a lucky streak. Most of the lucky streak has nothing to do with his favorite players except for McCarthy. Maybe Bautista will be better but his hype sounds a lot like Matt Kemp’s (wow, he’s in great shape…). When power hitters lose their mojo, they don’t usually get it back – statistically proven.

Roger…..Brandon McCarthy is only making $10 mil this year (the final year of his contract). If McCarthy is still dealing AND healthy come The July Trade Deadline….you better believe that there will be teams ITCHING to get him! By then, he’ll only be owed $3-$4 mil for the rest of the season. The question will become, what can AA get for him (or even will AA trade McCarthy, IF The Braves are still in The Playoff Race)?

I’m still maintaining that this year should be about preparing for The 2019 Season (meaning that if we can make some trades that fill the lower levels of The Minors with prospects…as well as give Soroka, Allard and Wright their cups of coffee’ starts after The July Trade Deadline…then we should). However, it’ll be really TOUGH for AA to ‘punt’ on this season (especially if we’re in 1st place/within a couple of games of 1st place) as The July Trade Deadline approaches!

Let’s see how this summer plays out. 3 months of injuries/coming down to Earth possibilities for a number of players whose have surprisingly produced during the 1st 20 games of this season…could happen make this all a moot point. I’m hoping that our guys can make this a race….however I’m a realist. The proof will come from how the next 3 months play out.

So when acuna gets the call—Peter b gets the axe? Cause Carmago can play left and right and acuna can be the center fielder? Seems right. I don’t see j bats in the outfield—more 3rd and 1st(god forbid)

I think the giants rangers mariners and with one more pitcher go down the cards could use McCarthy—also if Anibal was a free agent he would be signed in a day. The rays lost 3 starting pitchers in a week (one traded and then 2 out tj) so anything can happen regarding the market for starters. I hope we trade for depth that we lost with the sanctions and draft penalty. Trade the starters for 4 or 5 lotto types from high A—rebuild the ‘lost’ high a team and the ones we won’t get to draft. Flaherty and Anibal are not his guys. The reason J-bats signed with us is due to his relationship with AA. I don’t think a bounce back year is a big leap of faith. We are paying him the same as Peter b—so cutting him or trading him if he does bounce back is allways on the table. Riley this year is starting fast—if he gets even better as the year goes along—he has to be in atl this year. That would be amazing. Not likely. I am still holding out hope for whisler—I went to the dodger game in la where he got his head beat in and was never the same—so I share the guilt and hope he can turn it around. The dodgers kept urbie around because he was the one that puig listened to. Certain players can have an impact—a discernible clear impact. ‘If’ it helps Julio to talk with Anibal…that’s my hope anyway. Good talking.

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