October 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Front Office, Transactions
Everyone has their dream off-season. After a month or so of speculating and playing around with salaries, I have come up with mine. It’s relatively simple in theory. It involves one trade, and bringing in only 3 players from outside the organization. Let me state that the operative word here is “dream” and this scenario is rather unlikely to happen. Nonetheless, here’s what I’m dreaming about.
First, the Braves sign both Javier Vazquez and Tim Hudson to 3 year, $30 million contracts, replacing their current deals. Saves ~$3.5 million in payroll. Second, the Braves trade Derek Lowe for nothing useful in 2010. If it’s useful beyond 2010, even better, but it doesn’t have to be. Strictly a salary-minded move. Third, the Braves tender contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players, Kelly Johnson, Matt Diaz, Ryan Church, and Peter Moylan. I estimate Moylan will make $1.5 million, Johnson and Church will make $3.75 million, and Diaz will make $3 million. Fourth, the Braves sign two of the buy-low candidates I mentioned last week (we’ll say Kiko Calero and Chan Ho Park) to 2-year deals worth $2.5 million annually. Fifth, the Braves retain Adam LaRoche on a 2-year, $15.5 million deal ($7.25 annually) with an $8 million club option for 2012 with a $500,000 buyout. Guarantees him $16 million over 2 years with a possibility of $24 million over three. Finally, the Braves sign Matt Holliday to a 5 year, $87.5 million contract ($17.5 annually) with a $20 million club option for 2015 with a $2.5 million buyout. Guarantees him $90 million over 5 years with a possibility of $110 million over 6. Here’s what the roster with salaries looks like:
|SP -||Javier Vazquez||$10,000,000|
|SP -||Tim Hudson||$10,000,000|
|SP -||Kenshin Kawakami||$7,333,333|
|SP -||Jair Jurrjens||$400,000|
|SP -||Tommy Hanson||$400,000|
|RP -||Kiko Calero||$2,500,000|
|RP -||Chan Ho Park||$2,500,000|
|RP -||Peter Moylan||$1,500,000|
|RP -||Eric O’Flaherty||$400,000|
|RP -||Kris Medlen||$400,000|
|RP -||Boone Logan||$400,000|
|RP -||Craig Kimbrel||$400,000|
|C -||Brian McCann||$5,666,666|
|1B -||Adam LaRoche||$7,250,000|
|2B -||Martin Prado||$400,000|
|SS -||Yunel Escobar||$400,000|
|3B -||Chipper Jones||$13,000,000|
|LF -||Matt Holliday||$17,500,000|
|CF -||Nate McLouth||$5,000,000|
|RF -||Matt Diaz||$3,000,000|
|BC -||David Ross||$1,600,000|
|UT -||Omar Infante||$1,850,000|
|UT -||Kelly Johnson||$3,750,000|
|OF -||Ryan Church||$3,750,000|
|OF -||Jason Heyward||$400,000|
The Braves have the luxury of calling up Heyward and Schafer whenever they feel like they’re ready.
That team makes me drool.
October 20, 2009 at 2:02 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Front Office, Pitching, Transactions
One of the primary concerns among Braves fans this off-season is how the team will deal with the back end of the bullpen. With the impending free agency of Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, the Braves are losing their two best relievers and many fans worry about how the team will fill the void. A lot of people will ask: How will the team expect to compete without a “proven closer”?
I don’t pretend to know how the team will attempt to fix the problem, but I do have some thoughts on how I believe they should do it.
First of all, the whole “proven closer” thing is hogwash. Plenty of teams have gone into a season with no such reliever and had no trouble closing out games. Even more teams have gone into a season with a “proven closer” only to see him fail miserably and have to scramble to close games. Take the 2009 Phillies for example. Brad Lidge was 41/41 in save opportunities with a 1.95 ERA 2008. For his efforts, he received a grotesquely large contract only to post a 7.21 ERA and blow 11 saves in 2009.
This stems from the fact that relievers are, in general, a gamble. Granted, there’s instability everywhere, but a team’s bullpen is particularly volatile. Relievers are relievers for a reason. A starting pitcher of equal ability is more valuable than a relief pitcher. Teams convert pitchers to relievers because a) they weren’t good enough to make it as a starter or b) their arms wouldn’t hold up for 200 innings. No matter which way you slice it, relievers are inherently risky. I can think of very few examples of relievers that didn’t, at one point, experience a complete meltdown and lose their effectiveness.
Therefore, building a successful bullpen is about managing these risks. The best way to manage risk with relievers, just like the stock market, is to diversify. Investors spread their resources around, investing in various markets, so that their overall financial health isn’t dependent on one particular investment performing well. Because, after all, there’s an inherent risk of failure with every investment an investor makes. They manage their risk and pit it against their upside by diversifying, such that they’re able to survive in the event of an investment’s failure. If you invest $100 in 1 stock and the stock fails, you lose $100. If you invest $1 in 100 stocks and one fails, you lose $1, and you’re largely un-phased. You may lose the battle, but you live to fight another day.
Furthermore, predicting the failure of investments is a fool’s errand. You can study the markets to your wit’s end, but at the end of the day you only have a slightly better idea of which investments will fail than someone who simply chooses them randomly by picking them out of a hat.
The same is true with relievers. Because relievers are so risky and unpredictable, diversification is the best play. For instance, say a club has $10 million to spend on shoring up their bullpen. They can either a) spend all $10 million to bring in a premium free agent closer or b) spend the money on two or three relievers of the buy-low or set-up variety. In doing b, sure, they probably sacrifice a bit of upside. However, they also minimize their risk. What are the chances that one reliever turns into a bust? Pretty high. What are the chances that three relievers all turn into busts? Not nearly as high. Provided they have the same rate of failure, it’s 8 times more likely that you’ll have a successful closer if you spend the $10 million on 3 relievers rather than one. This is a vast oversimplification, of course, but you get the point.
Dave Cameron of USS Mariner discusses this phenomenon in general baseball terms in his brilliant piece on roster construction theory. I think it’s even more applicable when specifically discussing the bullpen.
It’s tempting for teams to pay market rate for these premium closers for obvious reasons. If it works out, you’ve got an excellent closer. But in doing so, you’ve also assumed a great deal of risk. When you throw all of your eggs into one basket, you’re always one injury or episode of ineffectiveness away from not having a viable option, which disproportionately weakens your team. It’s not that other players aren’t at risk to the same phenomenon, it’s that relievers are particularly vulnerable, more so than other players in general, to said injuries and episodes of ineffectiveness.
You’ll undoubtedly read various articles this off-season written by national analysts, local columnists, and beat writers that suggest the team needs to go out and sign Jose Valverde or to retain Rafael Soriano or to ship a bag of prospects off to Boston for Jonathan Papelbon. Don’t buy it. Having a premium closer is a luxury, not a necessity, and just because a pitcher is labeled as a premium closer doesn’t mean they’re any less risky than the guys you’ll find on the scrap heap after teams like the Cubs and Mets overpay everyone else. The smart teams realize that managing their risk is more important than the upside play. I’m sure one of these moves will make a GM look very smart. But it’s just as likely to make a GM look very stupid (I’m looking at you, Francisco Rodriguez).
This may seem counter-intuitive to the casual fan. After all, how is a proven, known commodity more risky than a buy-low proposition? But again, it’s not that the buy-low relievers are individually less risky than a premium closer, it’s that having multiple viable options–even if they don’t possess the upside of a Francisco Rodriguez or a Jose Valverde–minimizes your overall risk. The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, so to speak.
I don’t pretend to know what the Braves will do. They could go out and spend all their money on a Jose Valverde or a Billy Wagner. And it may work, I’ll certainly be happy if it does. Though if it doesn’t, they’re in deep doo doo. And I think that managing their risk by diversifying their resources and picking up two or three quality set-up men or buy-low candidates is the smarter play.
October 19, 2009 at 8:00 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Front Office, Transactions
For the antithesis of my last post, the 5 best decisions the Braves made in 2009*.
Number 5 – Releasing Tom Glavine in favor of Tommy Hanson.
I’m a huge Tom Glavine fan for so many reasons. He was drafted and developed by the Braves, he was a mainstay in the rotation for so many years, he was such an excellent competitor and an even better mentor, and perhaps most of all, game 6. But Tom Glavine is 43 years old and wasn’t too good in 2008. After a setback caused him to miss 6 more weeks than expected, the organization elected to release Tom Glavine in favor of calling up Tommy Hanson. It was a bitter way for the organization to depart with a Braves legend and first ballot hall-of-famer, but it really needed to be done. Hanson ended up going 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts. What would Tom Glavine have done had he not been released? Well, I can tell you one thing. Not what Hanson did.
Number 4 – Trading Casey Kotchman for Adam LaRoche.
I’m generally opposed to selling low on a player and failing to maximize value on the trade market, but a deadline deal that sent 2 years and 2 months of Casey Kotchman to Boston for 2 months of Adam LaRoche is probably an exception. LaRoche, in 2 months, hit .325/.401/.557 with 12 HR for the Braves and was right in the middle of most of the offensive turn around that saw the Braves make a promising run at a playoff berth. While the Braves did fall short, they showed life for the first time in 3 years and gave the fans reason to believe they have a chance in 2010. Looking back, I’m rather glad that Kotchman isn’t around anymore. A career .742 OPS at 1B just isn’t going to cut it, no matter how good with the glove he may be. I always liked him, but he’s at the point in his career where he’s probably not going to get any better, and I’m glad the organization has flexibility at 1B. They can either re-sign LaRoche or go with another external option. All I know is that the team will be better off in 2010 without Kotchman’s contract on the books.
Number 3 – Signing David Ross to a 2 year, $3 million deal.
A quality back-up catcher is something the team has lacked for awhile, now. Not only did they fill the void, it couldn’t have come at a better time, as McCann was forced to miss over a month with vision issues in 2009. Ross performed excepti0nally well in McCann’s absence and on his off days, hitting .273/.380/.508 with 7 HR in 151 PA’s and played phenomenal defense. Additionally, he’s helped McCann improve behind the plate, becoming a league-average defensive catcher. This move didn’t get a whole lot of attention, but it was a crucial acquisition. One of the more underrated moves of the 2009 off-season.
Number 2 – Trading Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church.
I know, I know. You’re all shocked I didn’t put this one at number 1. Number 2 is plenty good, though. Jeff Francoeur hit .250/.282/.352 with 5 HR and 12 BB’s in 324 PA’s for the Braves before he was traded to the Mets for Ryan Church, who hit .260/.347/.402 in 144 PA’s for the Braves. Ryan Church didn’t have a huge impact, but there is such a thing as addition by subtraction. I think Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory’s analysis of the trade is more adequate than anything I could write:
Mets – “Acquired” Francoeur
New York Mets – Acquired OF Delta Airlines® Presents Jeff Francoeur from the Atlanta Braves for OF Ryan Church.
I like trades that are easy to dissect.
Ryan Church is a better baseball player than Jeff Francoeur. Ryan Church is overwhelmingly likely to always be a better player than Jeff Francoeur. I am amazed that Dayton Moore only did the second-dumbest thing today.*
Ryan Church upgrades the Braves outfield. Ryan Church increases the chances that the Braves will win the NL East in any season that the team plays Ryan Church at the expense of Jeff Francoeur.
Jeff Francoeur downgrades the Mets outfield. Jeff Francoeur increases the chance that the Mets will not win the NL East in any season that the team plays Jeff Francoeur at the expense of Ryan Church. Or possibly a galvanized metal garbage can. When was the last time your garbage can swung at a slider halfway to Peoria? Francoeur actually might be good enough to play for the Peoria Chiefs.
If you made a trade this one-sided with your little brother as a child, you parents would instantly negate the trade and send you to your room. It’s like giving your little brother an empty can of Fanta for his Boba Fett. Now, Ryan Church isn’t as awesome as Boba Fett, but I don’t have to pay a million dollars to an empty can of Fanta either. Ryan Church is not a star, but I wouldn’t trade minor-league shortstop David Church for Francoeur either and he’s a player I just made up.
FRANK WREN GO TO YOUR ROOM AND DONT LET ME CATCH YOU PLAYING HALO!
*The Royals acquired Yuniesky Betancourt the same day as the Mets “acquired” Jeff Francoeur.
Number 1 – Trading Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge, Jon Gilmore, and Santos Rodriguez for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.
Name the most valuable player that changed teams in the 2008-2009 off-season? Yep, it’s Javier Vazquez. Of course, Tyler Flowers is an excellent prospect, but Javier Vazquez went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, and a 238-to-44 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the Braves. He was also the MLB leader in xFIP and anchored a strong rotation that almost took the Braves to the post-season for the first time since 2005. Javier Vazquez was also an excellent mentor for the young pitchers on the staff (Hanson, Medlen, Jurrjens, etc..). Also, the Braves picked up a very interesting relief prospect in Boone Logan, who has a live arm with plus velocity from the left side. Overall, an excellent acquisition that bolsters Frank Wren’s resume as a GM of the year candidate. (I think he should win it).
*I realize that a few of these decisions were made in 2008. They were made with 2009 in mind and most of their ramifications existed in 2009. I’m less interested in the technicality of our calendar and more interested in the dynamic of the baseball season.
October 18, 2009 at 6:28 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Front Office
Late last night I was sitting around wondering what I should write about today. This post came to me. The five biggest mistakes the Braves made in 2009.
Number 5 – The way Arbitration was handled.
I am a big fan of the way Frank Wren does business, but if there’s one thing I would like to see him improve upon, and something that doesn’t get a lot of attention, is the way he handles Arbitration. Six players were arbitration eligible this past off-season: Matt Diaz, Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson, Omar Infante, Mike Gonzalez, and Casey Kotchman. I thought three of the cases were handled very well: Matt Diaz signed for 1 year, $1.2375 million, Omar Infante was signed for 2 years, $4.325 million (buying out his final arbitration year and a year of free agency) with a club option for $2.5 million, and Mike Gonzalez was signed for 1 year, $3.45 million. The other three cases were handled rather badly. Kelly Johnson was signed for $2.825 million. I thought Wren probably should have taken him to arbitration. They met close to the middle, Kelly Johnson’s people submitted $3.3 million and the Braves submitted $2.35 million. It doesn’t sound like much money, but I felt like the Braves had a fairly good chance of winning the case and it’s a bad habit to get into–settling for halfway. Casey Kotchman signed for 1-year, $2.885 million. I know it was his 2nd arbitration year, but a 1B with a career .742 OPS doesn’t deserve $2.885 million. And, perhaps the worst of all, Jeff Francoeur signed a 1-year, $3.375 million deal. The Braves submitted $2.8 million and Francoeur’s people submitted $3.95 million. You’re crazy if you think Francoeur could have won that arbitration case.
Number 4 – Signing Derek Lowe to a 4 year, $60 million contract.
It’s not that I think Frank Wren shouldn’t have signed Derek Lowe. I just think that if he had taken the time to properly negotiate, I think he could have had Lowe for less money. A refresher. Lowe was signed a few days after John Smoltz signed with the Red Sox. The next highest offer Lowe had in hand was a 3-year, $36 million offer from the Mets. I understand Frank’s desire to avoid a bidding war, but the Mets weren’t going to go 4 years. If Frank had taken the time to properly negotiate, I suspect he could have had Lowe for 4 years, $50 million. Instead, as a reaction to the Smoltz departure and in a desperate attempt to win back the fan-base, Wren threw the $60 million offer on the table with a clock on it, hoping to swiftly announce something positive to soften the blow of Smoltz’s departure. Maybe it was necessary at the time, but now that the fan base has seen what Wren is capable of, I really hope he never uses this negotiation tactic again. No matter what the fans think, it wasn’t worth $10 million.
Number 3 – Not giving Matt Diaz enough PA’s.
Quick, without thinking, who is the qualified (minimum 2 PA’s per team game, or 324 PA’s) Braves leader in OPS? No, it’s not Brian McCann, he’s 2nd with .834. No, it’s not Chipper Jones, he’s 4th with .818. No, it’s not Yunel Escobar, he’s 5th with .812. No, it’s not Martin Prado, he’s 3rd with .822. You probably know who it is just by looking at the sub-title before this paragraph, but would you believe Matt Diaz is the Braves leader in OPS? And it’s not really all that close. His .878 OPS is .044 points higher than McCann’s 2nd place .834. Additionally, Matt Diaz is the Braves leader in both components of OPS, OBP and SLG%. He also led the team in batting average (.313) and triples (4). Yet he’s 6th on the team in PA’s. Completely inexcusable. I’m serious, this is a god damn tragedy. Especially considering the fact that the people he was chiefly competing against for playing time posted robust OPS’s of .773 (Nate McLouth), .749 (Ryan Church), .705 (Garret Anderson), and .634 (Jeff Francoeur). Look, I know Matt Diaz’s limitations. I know he isn’t going to be the next Manny Ramirez or Pete Rose. I don’t give a fuck. The Braves put together a horse-shit outfield for the entire year and still wouldn’t play Diaz until the last two months. And that, to me, is a crock of shit. Perhaps the most maddening mistake. I retract that. 2nd most maddening mistake.
Number 2 – Signing Garret Anderson to a 1 year, $2.5 million contract.
Garret Anderson hit .268/.303/.401/.705 with 13 HR. He also played some of the shittiest defense I’ve ever seen. He posted a -10.9 UZR. According to Fangraphs, it would’ve been worth having Garret Anderson on the team if he was willing to pay the Braves $4.1 million. That’s not a typo, he had negative value. I’m just looking at that and saying, couldn’t Brandon Jones have done the exact same thing for free? Furthermore, couldn’t Brandon Jones have hit better and played better defense for free? I know that the Braves were looking for a power hitter, and Brandon Jones doesn’t exactly fit that bill. But neither does Garret Anderson:
Worst SLG% 2009: Outfielders
Randy Winn – .353
Michael Bourn – .384
Nyjer Morgan – .388
Chase Headley – .392
Garret Anderson – .401
It’s worth note that the 4 ahead of him on this list all had higher OBPs and all provided some sort of defensive value. Morgan and Bourn are arguably the two best base runners in the NL, Chase Headley plays in Petco Park, is young, plays good defense, and posted a .342 OBP. Randy Winn sucks, but he does play at AT&T Park and plays passable defense.
In fact, Brandon Jones’ translated AAA line would look like this in MLB: .260/.342/.410. So yeah, he would’ve probably hit better. And it doesn’t take much to be a better defensive player than Garret Anderson, but Brandon Jones certainly would’ve been. I haven’t even gotten into base running, but B. Jones would’ve been better there, too. It was a very bad mistake to sign Garret Anderson. Perfect example of choosing youth over washed-up veterans. At the very least, the kids are learning something and getting better.
Number 1 – Depending on Jeff Francoeur for anything.
Thanatos: What is the plan if Jeff Francouer struggles again next year? Will you try to acquire a solid outfielder to back him up?
Wren: We are counting on that not happening.
OK, Frank, I’ve got a follow-up question. What the hell makes you think you can count on Jeff Francoeur not struggling? Seriously. You’re talking about a guy who had, to that point, a career .312 OBP and a career .746 OPS. He was coming off a year in which he posted a .294 OBP (the 2nd of the past 3 years in which he posted a sub-.300 OBP) and a .653 OPS. Additionally, he played horrible defense in 2008. So why did you think you could count on him? He hit .250/.282/.352 for the Braves, played bad defense, and was eventually traded for a semi-useful piece thanks to Omar Minaya’s complete lack of knowledge as to how valuable players are.
Francoeur should’ve started the year at AAA if the organization was intent on keeping him. Depending on him helping a major league team was, by far, the worst and most maddening mistake the Braves made in 2009.
October 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Front Office, Pitching, Transactions
Now that the Braves have parted ways with Buddy Carlyle, Jorge Campillo, and Vladimir Nunez, Frank Wren is challenged not only with finding a solution for the end of the game, but adding competent mid-relievers and bullpen depth. I suppose most of the depth is at AAA right now (Reyes, Redmond, etc.), but apart from Moylan, Medlen, O’Flaherty, Logan, and Acosta, I don’t see much of anything there. So, some potential buy-low candidates on the Free Agent Market for any bullpen role*:
*Frank Wren isn’t in a position to be limiting his search. If I’m him, I get the best players I can and make it work.
Billy Wagner – He’s rather old and coming off a Tim Hudson-like year (was out with TJ surgery for most of the season). If healthy, he could be a heck of a bargain. He’ll probably cost the Braves’ 1st round pick, though.
Kiko Calero – He’s never been a closer, totaling 7 saves in 7 seasons, but he has a career 3.24 ERA and 9.6 K/9. He’d be getting a lot more attention if he didn’t play for the Marlins.
Chad Cordero – If he’s healthy, we all know what he’s capable of. He’s also the youngest reliever on the market.
Kelvim Escobar – Career 4.15 ERA in the AL, mostly as a starter. Plus, gives Yunel another Cuban to relate to.
Chan Ho Park – Posted great numbers for the Phillies last season in relief. His strong post-season showing before last night was hurting his buy-low status.
Takashi Saito – Career 2.05 ERA and 10.9 K/9. His numbers are down a bit this season, so if the Red Sox decline his option, he could be a great buy-low proposition.
Luis Vizcaino – Always posted excellent K rates despite a mediocre ERA.
Alan Embree – Our old friend is probably going to retire this off-season, but if he doesn’t, he’d be a nice veteran piece to have. The Rockies hold a $2.75 million club option that they’ll almost certainly decline.
Will Ohman – Another old friend. Posted rather bad numbers for the Dodgers and could come on the very cheap.
Jose Contreras – Has nasty stuff. He’s getting old and hasn’t had much success as of late. May seek a starting gig, but if the Braves could lure him as a reliever, I’d be all for it.
Brett Myers – Recent run-ins with the Phillies and a lost season have certainly hurt his value. Like Contreras, he may be looking for a starting job. This one’s a stretch.
Mark Prior – If he’s not finished, he’s probably relegated to relief. And he could be the definition of a buy-low proposition.
Ben Sheets – I imagine he’ll be able to land a starting gig. Also a huge stretch.
And a few trade candidates:
Kerry Wood – Numbers faded and he’s owed ~$10 million in 2010, but if the Indians were willing to eat some salary, I like his chances of rebounding in 2010.
Matt Capps – A good bet to rebound in 2010, despite his bad numbers in 2009.
Carlos Villanueva – His 5.34 ERA doesn’t look good, but his 4.09 FIP looks a lot better.
October 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Economic Analysis, Front Office, Links, Minor Leagues, Prospects, Tim Hudson
Updated: 10/16/2009 6:52 PM EST - See first and last bullet points.
Some links and analysis for your viewing pleasure.
- The Braves have parted ways with Reid Gorecki Vladimir Nunez (Baseball America got it wrong and has since corrected it), Jorge Campillo, and Buddy Carlyle (Hat Tip: Chop-n-Change). They were outrighted to AAA to make room on the 40-man roster for various off-season acquisitions and elected free agency over an outright AAA assignment. Vladimir Nunez is rather old and probably doesn’t have any future in the organization. I’m not so sure Campillo and Carlyle wouldn’t have been useful in 2010, though. Campillo, as most of you know, had season-ending shoulder surgery early in the season. He’s a soft-tossing junk pitcher, but he throws strikes and doesn’t walk many hitters (2.2 BB/9 in 2008). However, the Braves seem to have another similar guy at AAA in Todd Redmond, so maybe the free roster space is worth more than having Campillo on it. Carlyle is perhaps the most intriguing one. In 2008, he added a cutter to his repertoire and the results were very good. He was diagnosed with Diabetes in 2009 and spent most of the year rehabbing. Braves scouts know more than I do, but I figured he might be a useful piece in 2010. Oh well, I’ll be pulling for him wherever he goes. Vladimir Nunez Reid Gorecki was also outrighted and accepted his assignment to AAA . While he remains with the organization, he no longer occupies a spot on the 40-man roster.
- As many of you know, now former Braves’ scouting director Roy Clark has accepted a position with the Washington Nationals to become their director of scouting and player development. The Braves wasted no time finding a replacement, naming Tony DeMacio their new scouting director shortly after Clark’s departure. As Jim Callis of Baseball America notes (subscription required), DeMacio doesn’t have an impressive track record from his days in Baltimore, but his drafts were sabotaged by a great deal of ownership interference. Clark was very good at his job and will certainly be missed, but unlike Craig Calcaterra of NBCSports, I don’t consider this to be a significant blow to the organization. My belief is that people generally overstate the impact of scouting directors. Don’t get me wrong, they are important. But I believe the that the organization’s philosophy, the scouts themselves, and the general manager are more important. People considered losing Paul Snyder to be a huge blow but the organization soldiered on, largely un-phased. I suspect people will consider losing DeMacio a huge blow after he comes and goes, but life goes on.
- Tim Hudson has gotten a lot of attention in the past few weeks. There was some initial speculation, but a report by Ken Rosenthal that suggested Tim Hudson would likely void the $12 million club option if the Braves were to exercise it and, instead, elect free agency prompted much of the mental energy spent on the issue. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs gives his take, Matthew Pouliot of NBCSports speculates Hudson could get $50 million over 4 years on the open market, and JC Bradbury of Sabernomics makes his case. The report prompted the two Braves beat writers, Mark Bowman of MLB.com and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to publish articles with quotes from Tim Hudson himself, refuting Rosenthal’s report and suggesting Hudson’s primary desire is to remain in Atlanta. My take: Hudson has never filed for free agency and this season probably represents his last opportunity to land a big contract on the open market. Still, he makes his permanent home in Auburn, Alabama and I believe he is sincere when he states his desire to stay in Atlanta. I believe he probably signs an extension with Atlanta. Perhaps after testing free agency, but I believe he will, in the end, find Atlanta to be the most attractive option.
- Baseball America has released their list of top-20 prospects for each of the 6 leagues in which the minor league affiliates of the Braves participate. I’ll link to them. Gulf Coast League, Appalachian League, South Atlantic League, Carolina League, Southern League, and International League. Several Braves are mentioned. Speaking of prospects, I’ve finished my list and write-ups of the Braves’ top-40 prospects. It was a rather large undertaking, consuming the majority of my baseball endeavors over the past month. Though I’m glad to have finished, it was very fun to do. The new list now appears on the Top Prospects page. You’ll find links to all the goods there.
- Mac Thomason of Braves Journal provides some excellent insight and analysis in his latest post: Where Do We Go From Here? 2009: I. Do the Braves need offense? I generally agree with everything Mac writes. Not only is this article no exception, but it’s particularly insightful. There will undoubtedly be more installments to this series and I’ll most likely continue to link to them.
- Brian McCann underwent a second Lasik Surgery. Fingers crossed is my only comment.
I’ve decided to do an AFL report every Friday in conjunction with my Friday Links segment. I’ll recap the past week’s action. I may add a Monday AFL report segment as the off-season grows and I begin running out of things to talk about.
The Peo Saguaros season kicked off on Tuesday night with Braves 2009 first rounder Mike Minor delivering the first pitch. Minor exited after two innings (he was on a pitch count, standard procedure) having allowed 1 hit, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run. Jason Heyward got the start in right for the season opener and went 2-4 with 2 doubles and a stolen base. Wednesday night, every Braves representitive except Minor got in the game. Heyward again got the start in right and went 1-4 with a double, Freddie Freeman got the start at 1B and went 0-3 with a walk, Brandon Hicks got the start at 3rd and went 0-3. Jeff Lyman was the starting pitcher and allowed 3 hits, a walk, and 1 run in 2 innings. Lee Hyde and Craig Kimbrel each pitched in a scoreless inning in relief, Hyde allowing a hit and a walk, and Kimbrel allowing 2 walks. Hyde recorded a strikeout in the game and Lyman recorded two. Thursday night Heyward got his third consecutive start in right and went 1-4 with a walk. Brandon Hicks got the start at SS this time and went 2-5.
October 11, 2009 at 8:00 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Economic Analysis, Front Office, Transaction Analysis, Transactions
Looking back at the free agent market in 2009, there were plenty of busts and plenty of goldmines. The purpose of this research was to find out which signings were the best and worse. For brevity’s sake, I limited this study to free agents who signed a major league deal worth at least $1,000,000. The math I used was simple. I took the 89 players, added their collective average salaries (over the course of the deal), and divided it by their collective WAR (Wins Above Replacement). This gave me the average amount clubs paid per WAR in 2009. That figure $4,518,279–nearly identical to the $4.5 million clubs paid in 2008. I then multiplied each player’s WAR by $4,518,279 and subtracted their salaries to see which player netted his team the most on-field production beyond his salary. The results may surprise you:
|Ken Griffey Jr.||$2,000,000||0.2||SEA||-$1,078,784|
|Jerry Hariston Jr.||$2,000,000||1.0||CIN||$2,606,081|
|Chan Ho Park||$2,500,000||1.6||PHI||$4,869,730|
The five best signs of 2009 are as follows:
Number Five – Juan Rivera. 3 years, $12,750,000. 3.5 WAR.
Rivera hit .287/.332/.478 (.348 wOBA) and posted a UZR of 12.8. It was, by far, Rivera’s most valuable season.
Number Four – Craig Counsell. 1 year, $1,000,000. 2.8 WAR.
Counsell hit .285/.357/.408 (.336 wOBA) and posted a UZR of 6.4. It was Counsell’s most valuable season since he posted a WAR of 3.4 in 2005.
Number Three – Casey Blake. 3 years, $17,000,000. 4.3 WAR.
Blake hit .280/.363/.468 (.354 wOBA) and posted a UZR of 8.4. His next most valuable season came in 2004 (3.3 WAR), making it by far Blake’s most productive season.
Number Two – Carl Pavano. 1 year, $1,500,000. 3.7 WAR.
Pavano pitched 199 and 1/3 innings with the Twins and Indians, posting a 3.77 K/BB ratio and 5.10 ERA. The only season in which Pavano posted a higher WAR was 2004, the year he posted a 4.4 WAR which prompted the Yankees to sign him to a nearly $40 million contract that they’ll forever regret.
Number One – Felipe Lopez. 1 year, $3,500,000. 4.6 WAR.
Lopez hit .310/.383/.427 (.356 wOBA) and posted a UZR of 7.6. He was also worth 4.6 WAR in 2005.
And the five worst signs of 2009:
Number Five – Braden Looper. 1 year, $5,500,000. -0.9 WAR.
Looper pitched 194 and 2/3 innings, despite leading the league in ER allowed (113) and HR allowed (39).
Number Four – Pat Burrell. 2 years, $16,000,000. -0.6 WAR.
Burrell hit just .221/.315/.367 (.304 wOBA) in 476 PA’s, serving almost exclusively as the DH.
Number Three – Manny Ramirez. 2 years, $45,000,000. 2.6 WAR.
The suspension undoubtedly hurt Manny’s productivity, as he notched only 431 PA’s. Despite hitting .290/.418/.531 (.396 wOBA), he have a lot back in the field (-9.2 UZR) and was overall worth just 2.6 WAR.
Number Two – Francisco Rodriguez. 3 years, $37,000,000. 0.3 WAR.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 68 innings with a 3.71 ERA, a 1.309 WHIP, and a 73-to-38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Not exactly “closer” stats.
Number One – Oliver Perez. 3 years, $36,000,000. -0.8 WAR.
Oliver Perez only pitched 66 painful innings, posting a 6.82 ERA, a 1.924 WHIP, and a 62-to-58 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It’s totally amazing to me that Omar Minaya still has his job.