October 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
The Braves announced they exercised the options of Brian McCann ($12 million), Tim Hudson ($9) and Paul Maholm ($6.5). All three are no-brainers, and the only question that remains from this group is who is left after next season. Check our thoughts on McCann’s future. I mentioned Hudson’s future briefly here.
The Braves have made it known they want David Ross back. Ross previously made it known he wants to return. I expect this to go smoothly. Ross has said in the past he prefers a backup role because of the toll his body takes while playing over long stretches. Also, he’ll be 36 in March, and giving him a starting job on a multi-year deal at this point isn’t smart.
Chris Haft of MLB.com says “(Angel Pagan is) expected to command in excess of $10 million annually on a multiyear contract. The Giants must decide whether Pagan is truly worth that figure or if they can live with overpaying him.”
When Pagan has actually played an entire season, he has been good for 4-5 wins, even when UZR gives him average defense. He has been around average defensively in center field for his career, but his bat has largely made up for it by producing a career .329 wOBA and 104 wRC+. The 31-year-old is a speed player with an average walk rate, so giving him a long-term contract might not be in the Braves’ best interest. But he remains one of the best center field options out there.
Rob Neyer of SB Nation chooses Kris Medlen as his Braves player of the year. There’s no denying Medlen’s success as a starter down the stretch, as well as his role as a reliever for much of the season. Getting a 1.57 ERA and 2.42 FIP with 3.9 fWAR from a guy who made just 12 starts is solid.
However, for all Medlen did to boost the pitching staff down the stretch, it’s also tough to deny Jason Heyward’s 6.6 fWAR, hitting 27 home runs with 21 stolen bases, and a .351 wOBA and 120 wRC+. If Medlen had done what he did, or even close to it, for an entire season, sure, give him the honor (not his fault but that doesn’t change anything). But Heyward amassed his totals over an entire season and was neck-and-neck with Chipper Jones in wOBA while playing in 158 games. When a player does what Heyward did this season, he’s usually the team’s best player.
Heyward was named the winner of the 2012 Fielding Bible Award for right field. “The youth movement continued in right field with first-time winner Jason Heyward. Heyward secured 96 points to top Josh Reddick, who had 84. Reddick actually saved more runs defensively for his team than did Heyward, 22 runs saved to 20, but Heyward’s excellent range and his third straight season of great defensive play earned him a well-deserved award.”
Heyward was also named a Gold Glove winner Tuesday night, giving him a sweep of the defensive awards. It’s the first of what should be many in Heyward’s career.
Martin Prado and Michael Bourn were both up for Gold Glove awards, but the voters chose lesser defenders based probably on their names and hitting ability. Freddie Freeman was also a finalist at first base but lost to Adam LaRoche.
Around the NL East
Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post digs into the new compensatory system and how it affects the Nationals’ dealings with Edwin Jackson and Adam LaRoche.
The Phillies exercised the $5 million option for Carlos Ruiz. The catcher, who will turn 34 in January, hit .325/.394/.540 with a .398 wOBA in 421 plate appearances this past season. His 5.5 fWAR was a career high. While he’s almost certain not to repeat those numbers in 2013, he remains both a solid bat and glove behind the plate and will be underpaid at $5 million.
Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley looks at Ruiz’s future in Philadelphia.
The Phillies declined the $5.5 million mutual option for Placido Polanco, buying out his contract for $1 million and letting him walk. Polanco played in only 90 games with 328 plate appearances in 2012 due to a host of injuries, including two trips to the disabled list for lower back inflammation. He’ll be 37 years old for the 2013 season.
The Phillies also declined options on Ty Wigginton and Jose Contreras, both receiving $500K buyouts.
The Mets picked up the options of David Wright ($16 million) and R.A. Dickey ($5), both of which were no-brainers. New York has much to discuss this offseason and in 2013 regarding the futures of both players.
October 30, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
The topic? Brian McCann’s future in Atlanta, starting with a $12 million option that the Braves must make a decision on soon. To the roundtable we go.
There are a few options with Brian McCann going forward, pick up the option, decline it, or extend him. The latter point is one that I have seldom seen brought up, but it’s what I would try and do if I were Wren and company. Given that McCann will be in for his biggest pay day yet, he may try to avoid an extension, but given his past season and a half of play combined with the injuries he is becoming accustomed to dealing with, he may opt to take some guaranteed money to ensure paychecks over the next few years.
What I would go after is a three year, $30 million deal that would cover this year and remove the option year. It would save $2 million this year, and while it is risky in that McCann could struggle and not live up to the contract, it also has the potential to be cost saving if McCann can revert back to his old form.
If it comes down to picking up the option or not doing so, I would most certainly pick it up. The Braves should have some money to spend and filling in the catcher position will be costly regardless. Picking up the option, while costly, seems like the correct call in my opinion.
2012 notwithstanding, Brian McCann has been an incredibly potent cog behind the plate and in the
middle of Atlanta’s lineup for the better part of eight seasons. When healthy, McCann has shown
a tantalizing combination of power, on-base ability, and fine defense behind the dish, notably in
the area of framing pitches. With all of this being said, McCann suffered through an injury-riddled
2012 and saw his numbers drop accordingly. He underwent surgery for a torn labrum earlier this
month and his status for the beginning of 2013 remains cloudy. We all knew 2012 was going to be
an interesting offseason with respect to McCann’s future contract situation with the team, just not
in the current context.
There are four possible scenarios regarding McCann’s 2013 club option. The least likely of these,
at least as I see it, would be for the Braves to decline the club option. Frank Wren and his staff are
privy to more information regarding the results of his surgery and the details surrounding his
recovery than the general public, so there is at least a non-zero chance that this is genuinely being
discussed internally. Without an heir apparent waiting in the wings*, however, declining the club
option without significant evidence suggesting that he will not return to form would be somewhat
imprudent**. Sticking with unlikely scenarios, the Braves could also choose to exercise the club
option and trade him thereafter to a team in the market for a catcher/DH. This situation depends
entirely on the player(s) received in return for McCann, but with his stock at an all-time low when
taking into account last year’s performance along with the injury/recovery concerns, the Braves
could very well be selling low on McCann. This also puts the Braves in a similar situation regarding
next season’s catcher, assuming that the return does not include a major league ready backstop.
With the previous two scenarios in mind, the Braves should choose to exercise the club option for
2013. Signing a competent backup—e.g. David Ross—will be key in this situation, as McCann will
likely miss time at the beginning of next season recovering from shoulder surgery. If the Braves
plan on keeping McCann past 2013, they are forced to consider that he may regain form next season
and command much more money on the open market next offseason. In light of this, the Braves
could offer McCann a short-term extension, possibly in the range of three years. Many behind-the-
scenes conditions would have to be met for this to be considered—namely confidence that McCann
will fully recover from his surgery and that he can remain operative behind the plate into his
early thirties—but the potential for surplus value is inherent. For McCann, the added certainty of
guaranteed money for a few years after a subpar season—not to mention the possibility of hitting
the open market in his early thirties—would undoubtedly entice, although he could opt to turn
down an offer for an extension and choose to test the free agent waters next offseason, a move that
could pay dividends or be very costly for McCann if he does not return to form.
All things being equal, I believe the Braves will exercise Brian McCann’s 2013 option with the hope
that Christian Bethancourt makes significant strides offensively within the next calendar year.
*I’m looking at you, Christian Bethancourt.
**I love the guy, but I do not consider David Ross to be an adequate full-time replacement for Brian
McCann going forward.
The first issue is whether or not the Braves exercise McCann’s option. The Braves hold a $12MM club option for next year, and I think it’s a near guarantee that they pick up this option unless they are privy to some serious health issues that nobody else is.
There has been some speculation that the Braves might exercise their option and then trade McCann and go with a combination of Ross and Bethancourt. While McCann has no no-trade provisions that I’m aware of and doesn’t yet have 10 years of MLB service, I view any preseason trade as unlikely. Most importantly I don’t think the Braves believe Bethancourt is fully ready to handle MLB pitching yet, and I don’t think the Braves believe that David Ross is a day to day #1 catcher over an entire season. Furthermore, it would be a bad move from a PR perspective however important such a concern may or may not be.
So, I view it as a near certainty that Brian McCann will be the Braves #1 catcher when he returns from rehabbing his shoulder, likely in May. I could envisage a scenario where the Braves fall out of contention early, and McCann gets traded mid-season, but I view that as unlikely as I don’t realistically see the Braves fully falling out of contention before the trade deadline.
As far as going past that, I think it’s 100% a wait and see approach once McCann returns from his rehab. If McCann shows that he is healthy and that his poor results from last year were purely a function of his injured shoulder, the Braves would likely be willing to extend him for 3-4 more years (though prior to last year I think they would have been willing to go 5). If McCann returned at least mostly to form offensively, I think 3 years, $45MM is a likely starting point, perhaps going to 4 years, $55 MM.
However, if McCann does not return to form or continues to be plagued by injuries, I think the Braves will bite the PR bullet and simply part ways and hope that a David Ross/Christian Bethancourt combination would be competitive over a full season. In such a scenario it would be a sad, but necessary end to a very beloved Brave’s career here, as he would likely be better off as a part time DH / backup catcher in the AL.
To begin with, picking up the $12 million option for 2013 seems to be a no-brainer. You’re paying for the potential of 4-5 wins at a prime position when Brian McCann is healthy, and with the cost and scarce amount of talent at the position (especially at McCann’s level), it’s worth the risk of him returning from shoulder surgery at 100 percent.
As all three have pointed out above, extending McCann at 3-4 years is not a bad way to go. If McCann proves his bat speed and hands have not lost a step after the shoulder injury, an extension would be a wise move to lock up what his career numbers have shown to be one of the best catchers in the game. And you have to assume if he does return healthy that he will return to those career norms for at least a few more years.
The Cardinals did the Braves no good by locking up Yadier Molina at five years and $15 million per while Molina is a couple years older than McCann. But it’s the reality of a catcher’s market these days that the best are going to get $12-15 million per. McCann has proven he’s worth that amount when healthy.
So stick to a patient approach right now and see how McCann’s bat responds to extra time off. You have a safety net in David Ross (assuming he returns), and while Christian Bethancourt’s bat is in no way major-league ready, his defense is, and that tends to win out at the position. The Braves have the ability to wait on McCann, and that’s key right now.
October 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Tim Hudson wants to remain a Brave for the rest of his career. Hudson’s $9 million option for 2013 will almost certainly be picked up, but it’s beyond next year that’s in question.
I wrote the following in response to a Dave Cameron blurb on ESPN questioning picking up Hudson’s option:
“Hudson’s velocity has dropped slightly this year, but his contact rates haven’t changed, and he isn’t benefiting from BABIP any more than usual. He’s also allowing fewer home runs than his career average, and his FIP is identical to his career mark.
Will Hudson decline? Of course. He’s 37 years old. But to throw up red flags based on a slight drop in velocity and swinging strike rate for a pitcher who relies on completely different factors to succeed isn’t how you go about determining his decline.”
As I said, the Braves will almost certainly pick up Hudson’s option, but what he is worth after that is a pretty big question. It’s tough to consider more than a couple years for a 38-39-year-old pitcher, but Hudson’s success based on weak contact more than velocity is in his favor as he declines. Depending on the rotation’s outlook and his own health a year from now, I would be hard pressed to give him more than two years.
Brian McCann underwent surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday. Earlier in the day, everyone was optimistic that the surgery would only limit McCann to mid-February. However, the surgery revealed a bigger tear than a recent MRI showed, and it will likely push him back to the beginning of spring training before he can begin activities. This will probably push McCann’s 2013 debut to sometime in April.
Mark Bowman notes the Braves haven’t committed to McCann’s $12 million option and have until three days after the conclusion of the World Series to make the decision. Even though the Braves might not have McCann for opening day, the option will likely get picked up if for no other reason than there’s no better option for the job. McCann’s history says $12 million is a solid deal for his career numbers, and if healthy, there’s no reason to believe he can’t return to that.
Jerry Beach penned an outstanding piece on Chipper Jones and himself. I hope you take the time to read this in full, because it deserves that.
Eno Sarris of FanGraphs writes on Freddie Freeman’s season.
Minor League and Draft Notes
Mike Newman of FanGraphs ranks the third basemen he has seen in the minors this season. The list includes Edward Salcedo, Brandon Drury and Kyle Kubitza of the Braves.
Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball reports on Josh Hart, a prep outfielder from Lilburn, Ga. Hart is committed to Georgia Tech.
Don Olsen of Bullpen Banter has several reports on prep left-handers for the upcoming draft, including Trey Ball, who looks like a solid first-round talent.
Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus continues his series looking at early draft prep with a few infielders and catchers from the high school ranks. The list includes Nick Ciuffo, a good-looking catcher from Lexington, S.C.
Fall/Winter League Notes
Arizona Fall League:
Edward Salcedo – 2-24, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 SB
Nick Ahmed – 6-13, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
Matt Kennelly – 1-9, 1 BB, 1 K
Zeke Spruill – 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Ryan Buchter – 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
Chris Jones – 3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Cory Rasmus – 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Evan Gattis – 6-19, 4 2B, 1 HR, 0 BB, 2 K
Ernesto Mejia – 6-22, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 0 BB, 8 K
Josh Kroeger – 3-15, 5 BB, 2 K, 1 SB
Jose Yepez – 0-1
October 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
With offseason news coming at sporadic times, it’s tough to maintain a daily post over the winter. Odds and ends will provide news and discussion as it is presented, as well as the occasional discussion topic when it presents itself.
The Braves have extended Frank Wren through 2014. Also, Bruce Manno was awarded vice president and assistant general manager/player development. John Coppolella was promoted to assistant general manager. Coppolella is definitely on the radar as a future general manager, and it’s only a matter of time before teams start targeting him, if they haven’t already. Hopefully he’s able to hang around for a long time, but you never know.
Mark Bowman outlines the Braves’ plan this offseason, namely finding a center fielder and either a left fielder or third baseman.
Frank Wren: “We’re going to be looking for premium players. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. But there [are] a couple things we’re always mindful of. We’re putting a team together. We’re not trying to put a player on this team. That’s overriding philosophy — to put a team together. If we think we can add two players that give us more than one player, then we’re going to do that.”
David O’Brien has a full transcript of an interview with Wren providing thoughts on pretty much everything.
Jim Bowden gives some names as possibilities for the Braves in 2013 (ESPN Insider). It’s the usual list that one can make up by using MLB Depth Charts, but it’s worth a look as a resource. Of course, possible center fielders, left fielders or third basemen will be provided in detail here in the future.
Center fielders to seriously consider (mine, not Bowden’s): Ben Revere, Denard Span, Peter Bourjos, Angel Pagan, Gerardo Parra (also for LF), Shane Victorino.
There’s a report saying Parra and Jason Kubel are being made available by Arizona. Parra is under control through 2015 and is arb-eligible for the second time this winter. He could be the most attractive piece considering the combination of talent and value.
Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley analyzes possible center fielders for the Phillies. Much of this can be applied to the Braves.
Minor League Notes
Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports the Braves signed Australian catcher Nathan Hass and outfielder Juan Reyes. A newspaper article from Hass’ native Australia provides more information on him. He seems to have versatility, playing in a world tournament as a first baseman and also known as a relief pitcher. He’s 18 years old.
For your reading pleasure, Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus gives reports on prep outfielders for the 2013 draft, including Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows and Justin Williams (subscr.)
Baseball America released its Top 20 International League Prospects, with Julio Teheran coming in at No. 4. This link is free; follow the link for the scouting reports behind the paywall.
Arizona Fall League Notes
Keith Law ranks 10 prospects he is most excited to scout in Arizona (ESPN Insider). No Braves make the list, but he includes Edward Salcedo among the “others.”
Law gave an early report on who has stood out to him so far (ESPN Insider). No Braves are listed.
J.J. Cooper of Baseball America recaps the AFL‘s good and bad through three games. If you’re looking for Braves, they aren’t mentioned here. But it’s a great read.
Robert Emrich of MLB.com recaps Wednesday’s game in which Zeke Spruill started.
AFL Braves Through Three Games
October 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm by Ethan Purser under Prospects
Much to the joy of prospect lovers everywhere, the Arizona Fall League (AFL) kicks off its month-long schedule today. The Braves are represented by seven prospects on the Phoenix Desert Dogs, a team that also includes prospects from the Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, and Oakland Athletics. Double-A Mississippi head coach Aaron Holbert will manage the Desert Dogs. I’ve compiled some quick primers on the prospects representing the Braves in Arizona. Note that Gus Schlosser was originally announced as a participant in the AFL, but he is not currently on Phoenix’s roster.
Ryan Buchter | Age: 25 | LHP: Buchter was acquired in the deal that sent Rodrigo Lopez to the Cubs in May of 2011. He put together a very impressive campaign for Mississippi, but fell flat on his face upon being promoted to Gwinnett. In 41.1 innings pitched at Mississippi, Buchter posted a 1.31 ERA/2.62 FIP with a 50/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio while only allowing 24 hits during this span. After being promoted to Gwinnett in early August, Buchter posted a 5/17 strikeout-to-walk ratio and allowed 10 hits in eight innings pitched. Although he has always been old for his league, Buchter showed real promise in 2012 despite the late-season downturn, and with a good showing at the AFL and in the spring, he could pitch his way into the bullpen picture very soon.
Cory Rasmus | Age: 24 | RHP: I sometimes have to remind myself that Cory Rasmus, younger brother of Colby, was a first-round pick in 2006. Rasmus has battled injuries and inconsistency throughout his minor league career, but has set himself up for some modest success after a fair season out of the bullpen for Mississippi. In 58.2 innings pitched, Rasmus posted a 3.68 ERA/3.49 FIP with a 62/32 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Rasmus is an extreme fly-ball pitcher, as evidenced by a 0.80 GO/AO this season. The AFL is notoriously hitter-friendly, so Rasmus’s extreme fly-ball rate could rear its ugly head in the form of home runs while in Arizona.
Chris Jones | Age: 23 | LHP: Acquired in the “good trade—who’d we get?” deal that sent Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians, Jones performed well in his first season with the organization. In 60 innings at Double-A Mississippi, Jones posted a 3.90 ERA/2.38 FIP with a 61/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Jones further solidified his reputation as a future LOOGY, posting massive L/R splits over the course of the season. He will head to Arizona in hopes of impressing club officials and could be a cheap bullpen option as early as next season.
Zeke Spruill | Age: 23 | RHP: Spruill enjoyed a successful 2012 campaign, posting a 3.63 ERA/3.51 FIP with a 106/46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 161.2 innings pitched at Double-A Mississippi. Spruill did a fine job of keeping the ball on the ground, evidenced by a 1.44 GO/AO. Of the pitchers going to the AFL from the Braves, Spruill has the highest ceiling—a solid, back-of-the-rotation workhorse who can keep the ball on the ground and induce weak contact. Although his path to Atlanta is unclear, Spruill is a great prospect and garners lots of attention in trade talks.
Matt Kennelly | Age: 23 | C: Of the position players representing the Braves in the AFL, Kennelly is likely the least known of the group. He was signed out of Australia in 2005 and has made slow progress as a prospect. In Double-A Mississippi, Kennelly hit .254/.339/.345 with one home run and a 21/26 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 224 plate appearances while serving as Christian Bethancourt’s primary backup. Kennelly is not much of a prospect and more than likely occupies the spot that Bethancourt would have filled had it not been for his wrist injury late in the season. We will keep an eye on him as the AFL season progresses, but expectations are not high. He is undoubtedly behind both Max Stassi (OAK) and Jacob Realmuto (MIA) on Phoenix’s depth chart.
Edward Salcedo | Age: 21 | 3B: Salcedo, the Braves’ top international signing in 2010, hit .240/.295/.412 with 14 home runs and a 33/130 walk-to-strikeout ratio at High-A Lynchburg. He committed 42 errors in 386 chances at third base. Salcedo continues to be a frustrating prospect on both sides of the ball, but he remains one of the highest-ceiling bats in the system. By sending Salcedo to the AFL, the Braves show their continued faith in the prospect. He seems to have wore down significantly as the second half progressed, so his performance against some of the top pitching prospects in the game will be interesting to monitor.
Nick Ahmed | Age: 22 | SS: Ahmed, drafted out of the University of Connecticut in the second round of the 2011 draft, fared well in his first full season, hitting .269/.337/.391 with six home runs and a 49/102 walk-to-strikeout ratio at High-A Lynchburg. He also stole 40 bases while only being caught 10 times. Ahmed will split playing time at shortstop with Tim Beckham (Rays), Hak-Ju Lee (Rays), and presumably Grant Green (OAK). Ahmed has garnered quite a bit of hype from club officials and the media this season. A good showing in Arizona could shoot him up prospect lists later this winter.
Five other prospects to watch on the Desert Dogs: Christian Yelich, OF, MIA (Yelich possesses one of the most drool-inducing swings in the minor leagues); Richie Shaffer, IF, TB; Miles Head, IF, OAK; Johnny Hellweg, RHP, MIL; Jimmy Nelson, RHP, MIL.
*Oh, I almost forgot—infield fly rule, you guys.
October 6, 2012 at 2:08 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: David Ross, .296
Least Valuable Brave: Dan Uggla, -.144
Most Valuable Cardinal: Matt Holliday, .261
Least Valuable Cardinal: Jon Jay, -.053
2nd – (ATL) David Ross two-run homer for a 2-0 Braves lead, .209
4th – (STL) Chipper Jones error puts runners on corners with no outs, .113
4th – (STL) Allen Craig RBI double for a 2-1 Braves lead, .142
6th – (STL) Matt Holliday solo homer for a 4-2 Cardinals lead, .130
First of all, the fact that Major League Baseball would even allow the Braves to be put in this situation reflects on its lack of competence. To have a baseball team play 162 games over six-plus months only to determine its fate for the entire year over a span of three hours is complete idiocy. This is compounded by the fact that a human has the ability to make one single judgment call that can make or break a team’s entire year. I’m sure MLB got its ratings. It got people talking about the sport. It grabbed the next day’s headlines. It also lost credibility, not only on the field with the umpires but in its leadership roles. Major League Baseball wanted to create a drama-filled show but got a circus.
The infield fly call was wrong. You don’t even have to fully understand the rule to know the call was missed. Pete Kozma did not reach “ordinary effort” under the ball, no matter how badly Sam Holbrook wishes that was the case. And people can talk about his feet shuffling and whether he was camped under the ball all they want. Lost in all of this is the fact that Kozma is nearly in Matt Holliday’s spot in left field. If MLB wants to get away with this being a “judgment call,” they should take a look at how far Kozma is in left field and judge that the infield fly rule is no longer a legit call that far out. MLB will say whatever is easiest in order to sweep this under the rug and move on, and that’s exactly what we got out of its leadership after the game.
The Braves messed themselves up before any infield fly call was made. Chipper’s error in the fourth gave the lead up and was perhaps the biggest mistake. They attempted a safety squeeze with runners on the corners, one out and the pitcher on deck, which is just unheard of. Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons committed errors in the seventh that led to a bigger hole. In the midst of all that happened in the eighth, they still had a shot to get back in the game but left the bases loaded.
It’s just about the worst way you can draw up the end of the season and Chipper’s career. Plenty of it was the Braves’ own faults, plenty of it can be put on the umpires, plenty of it can be put on MLB. Add it all up and you get a disappointing final loss for what is a solid team.
I’m going into hibernation for a while.
October 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Braves lineup: Michael Bourn (CF), Martin Prado (LF), Jason Heyward (RF), Chipper Jones (3B), Freddie Freeman (1B), Dan Uggla (2B), David Ross (C), Andrelton Simmons (SS), Kris Medlen (P).
Cardinals lineup: Jon Jay (L, CF), Carlos Beltran (S, RF), Matt Holliday (R, LF), Allen Craig (R, 1B), Yadier Molina (R, C), David Freese (R, 3B), Daniel Descalso (L, 2B), Pete Kozma (R, SS), Kyle Lohse (R, P).
The Roster: (starters bolded)
Pitchers – Luis Avilan, Chad Durbin, Cory Gearrin, Tim Hudson, Craig Kimbrel, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters.
Catchers – J.C. Boscan, Brian McCann, David Ross.
Infielders – Jeff Baker, Freddie Freeman, Eric Hinske, Chipper Jones, Lyle Overbay, Tyler Pastornicky, Andrelton Simmons, Dan Uggla.
Outfielders – Michael Bourn, Jose Constanza, Jason Heyward, Reed Johnson, Martin Prado.
Wild Card Game vs. Cardinals
It’s a bit tough to hinge an entire season on 2.5-3.5 hours of baseball, but that’s what the Braves and Cardinals are forced to deal with. Time to make the most of it.
If you’re looking for information on the opposition, Ben wrote on Kyle Lohse, the St. Louis starter, here, and wrote three keys to the game here. I wrote on the Cardinals offense, how Kris Medlen might fare and also touched on Lohse a little here
Mark Bowman writes on Kris Medlen being the right man for the job.
Bowman writes on five keys to the Braves postseason.
Fredi Gonzalez’s decision to start David Ross over Brian McCann in the wild card game.
Dan Uggla was back in the lineup Wednesday and should be good for today. Also, the Braves will wear their normal home whites instead of red because of the Cardinals.
Teddy Mitrosillis of ESPN has an outstanding breakdown of how Medlen should pitch to each batter in the Cardinals lineup (Insider).
The Baseball Today podcast makes its postseason predictions.
Keith Law ranks his top 10 pitchers for the playoffs based on how he thinks they will perform. Medlen is No. 6 (Insider).
Jim Bowden says Michael Bourn could benefit from a good October in the free agent market (Insider).
John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus writes on the strategy of playing one game for the Braves, with quotes from Fredi and several players.
Ray Glier, a freelancer writing for SB Nation, writes perhaps the best feature on Medlen yet.
Rob Neyer writes on Medlen’s season.
Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes on the decision to start Ross over McCann.
Daniel McCarthy of Baseball Analytics looks at some heat maps of Medlen, particularly against Matt Holliday.
Alex Remington of Big League Stew gives some numbers for the wild card game.
Ken Rosenthal previews the wild card game and picks the Cardinals to win.