pleasantly surprised to find a new episode and currently downloading. Also, the opening day countdown has reached double digits!!! Pitcher and catchers report in 8 weeks. Too excited, in the meantime, beginning to read “Of Mikes and Men” Pete Van Wieren’s new-”ish” book. Happy Holidays!
For what it’s worth, there is a poster on mlb.com, who is fairly well informed usually, who suggests that the Braves clear the smallest margin of any baseball team that isn’t losing money; they spend the highest % of dollars on their team of any profit-turning team in baseball.
He uses this link (he says 2010 numbers aren’t available yet) to support it:
By the way, as disheartening as the Lee addition is, I just looked at the transactions of the top Wild Card contenders from last year. Only Atlanta and maybe St. Louis improved, and we finished 5 games ahead of them. The Padres, who were the only team closer than 5 games to the Braves, lost their best (by far) hitter. The Brewers might make a play, but they have a TON of ground to make up to the Braves in terms of last year’s WC standings.
Queen’s Greatest Hits Vol II might be as good as the first one if you listen to it with the right perspective. A lot of the songs are “bar room smokey” instead of their signature good-time rock opera sound.
I know, talking about greatest hits compilations like they are albums is an artistic sin. But I have to be cool on a budget.
“I actually have a funny story about that,” Jones said. “I’m so out of shape, one of my neighbors caught me dry-heaving on his lawn. We had a nice little chuckle out of it. I grabbed his phone to make sure he didn’t take any video and people would see it on YouTube.”
Bub, I think if you view that list 5 or 6 years ago, the Phils are in a completely different position. They have spent to generate revenue. Now, this is not always going to happen, and who knows what the Braves fans will do, but this all ties into what McGuirk and FW have stated, that their spending is all tied into fan support. I just don’t think that is a fair way to run an organization. I appreciate that they are not sitting on piles of cash and putting out an inferior product, but there were years where they clearly did that. Those teams from 3 and 4 years ago were awful. Maybe they lose money for a year or two to add a couple of more pieces and get a bigger return as a result. Whatever.
I do think we are at the top of the heap of WC contenders. I think St Louis bounces back to win that division. We’ll see if Cincy can keep it together. No way Votto has another season like that. But bring on the second tier all day long.
Curt, I guess we’ll never agree about the Bravos’ spending. When the Braves ran a first place, super-exciting home team out there for a hundred days and the crowds remained mediocre, why should they take a business risk and overspend their revenue?
The current ownership apparently isn’t interested in turning a big profit while they own it; they are counting on cashing in when they sell. But in the meantime, if they’re spending nearly every dime to get as much talent on the field as they can without actually losing money, one could certainly imagine worse scenarios.
In this way, we are actually lucky that the Braves are small potatoes to Liberty Media. If the Braves were the main business enterprise of any self-preserving business, they would cut the payroll immediately. (This is all predicated on the idea that the Braves really are spending what they can).
Bottom line: if the Braves average a medium sized MLB attendance and revenues, they are well within logic to spend medium sized money on their players. And that’s what they do.
1. The Phillies will age soon enough.
2. The young Braves will hit full stride at almost that exact moment.
3. KK, McLouth, Lowe, and Chipper will shed 40 million dollars – nearly half the payroll – at the same time that the aging Phillies/ blossoming Braves youth happens.
We will likely see 2 or 3 division titles (barring Mets and Nationals trouble) within the next 5 years without having to spend more.
At that time (probably an ownership change later), we will have our questions answered.
In the meantime, the Braves are positioned to go the playoffs every year barring major injury.
This isn’t a bad time to be a Braves fan at all. They will be the favorites for Wild Card on just about every analyst’s pre season prediction, and for good reason.
162 games watching Uggla/Heyward/Prado/McCann backing up Hanson, Jurrjens, Lowe, Hudson, Minor, Kimbrel, and Venters – followed by a likely playoff position against a beatable first round opponent (Giants, Reds, Cardinals, whatever) – there’s a lot of excellent baseball to be absorbed by Braves fans in 2011.
My Christmas gift to ABT, and then I’m really gone.
(From Baseball Prospectus – can’t be linked)
This offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies have grabbed most of the NL East headlines. Their signing of Cliff Lee was undoubtedly the biggest free agent acquisition of the offseason. But the attention paid to the newest member of Philadelphia’s rotation has obscured the potential that the Atlanta Braves will improve on their strong 2010 season. Winners of 91 games last season, the Braves sport a young offensive core, increased roster flexibility and at least six viable starting pitchers. Between the lure of the wild card and the uncertainty of the 162-game season, the Braves have at least two good reasons to resist the temptation to overreact and instead focus on adhering to the plan that got them to the postseason last year.
Atlanta already made moves to shore up uncertainty in its infield. They made one of the first big moves of the offseason when they shipped utility infielder Omar Infante and reliever Mike Dunn — both viewed as bench players a year ago — to the Florida Marlins for slugging right-handed second baseman Dan Uggla. The Braves view Uggla as a member of the infield for years to come and are currently in talks to extend his contract. Uggla’s defensive limitations will pair well with slick-fielding Alex Gonzalez, who has been retained after being acquired in last July’s Yunel Escobar trade.
The Braves also believe they have solved their long-term question mark at first base. Since briefly acquiring Mark Teixeira for parts of 2007-08, Atlanta has struggled to find a slugging first baseman who can hit in the middle of the lineup. Lefty-hitting rookie Freddie Freeman, who posted an impressive line of .319/.378/.521 in Triple-A last season, will be 21 years old and in the starting lineup on opening day. With Chipper Jones hoping to return in a significant capacity next season, the Braves have addressed the area where injury hampered them the most in 2010. With Martin Prado (and his career .810 OPS) still in the fold, the Braves can deploy him at third if Jones isn’t healthy or in left field if he is.
Atlanta also took significant measures to add veteran presence to an extremely promising young bullpen, which was one of the most entertaining in baseball in 2010. The 22 year-old right-hander Craig Kimbrel inherits the closer role from a retiring Billy Wagner. Despite the extra pounds Kimbrel has on Wagner, and the fact that Wagner was a lefty, Kimbrel’s high-90s heat may give hitters flashbacks to Wagner’s big No. 1. And Kimbrel won’t be the only one bringing heat out of the Atlanta ‘pen: Jonny Venters can match him pitch for pitch. Venters was the horse of the staff last season; he was just two appearances short of pitching in half the team’s games. Eric O’Flaherty, the team’s top lefty specialist until he succumbed to symptoms of mononucleosis last year, is healthy and poised to return. O’Flaherty won’t have to shoulder the left-handed burden by himself, as the Braves signed Los Angeles Dodger pariah George Sherrill as a free agent for $1.2 million earlier this month.
The Braves also return the top four of their starting rotation, which last year posted a combined 3.80 ERA. Those four — Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens — will be joined by one of either Mike Minor, who dazzled between Double- and Triple-A in his first full season, or Brandon Beachy, who is just a year older and was perhaps even better in 2010.
All of that is without yet mentioning the most hyped prospect in baseball last season, Jason Heyward, who became the first 20 year-old to have an OBP over .390 since Alex Rodriguez. That is by design. The Braves have been doing what all good teams do: acquiring the players they need, and keeping only those who are truly worth it. It’s hard to identify a position at which the Braves will decline from 2010 to 2011. When last year’s team won 91 games and the NL wild card, such a state of affairs can only be counted an unqualified success. It’s true that other teams will do their best to win games, but that doesn’t necessarily affect the way the Braves should go about planning for the future.
Consider how the Braves could handle their trio of promising young international starters (Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, and Arodys Vizcaino), each of whom spent significant time in Single-A this year. They could ship them off to acquire a player who is approaching free agency. Undoubtedly, they had minor league talent to match or exceed the package sent by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Kansas City Royals to acquire Zack Greinke. But doing so would have required a significant increase in salary and the loss of at least one of their electric arms. By not doing so, the Braves ensured that they will have plenty of options when Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson become free agents after the 2012 season.
The ultimate question, then, is whether the Braves should change their strategy to reflect the new landscape of the NL East. It’s hard to see the argument that they should. Consider that the Phillies were the oldest team in baseball — on both sides of the ball — last season, meaning the Braves’ chances to win will only go up as the years pass. It will be hard, but by no means impossible, for a 90-win Braves team to make the playoffs in 2010. But if the Braves stay the course, as it appears they plan to, they’ll get better as a team as the competition declines. That’s a formula not just for a single year’s playoff berth, but for a run of success that could make the NL East exciting for several years to come.
Tommy Bennett is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
A guy gets blitzed at the local pub, so drunk he can hardly see straight. He decides it’s time to leave, so he tries to stand up and head for the door. No good, he teeters straight over and falls on the ground.
He crawls to the door the best he can, with some difficulty. At the door, he pull himself up by the knob. He fails again, though, falling over as soon as he loses the support of the door.
He crawls home the best he can. At his own front door, he tries to stand again. But as before, he falls. Finally, he gives up and crawls into his bed and passes out.
The next morning, he wakes to his wife standing over him, hands on her hips, shaking her head: “Drunk out of your mind again last night.”
The guy replies sorrowfully, “Yes, I was. How did you know?”
“The pub called. You left your wheelchair down there.”