June 03, 2012

Show #186: Braves Break Streak, Front Office Makes Moves

Pastornicky sent down.  The start of the Andrelton Simmons era.  Medlen to join the rotation.  The return of Jose Constanza.



173 Responses to “Show #186: Braves Break Streak, Front Office Makes Moves”

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  1. 1
    wonz Says:

    Simmons looks good. Welcome back george

  2. 2
    Nate Says:

    Does Heyward perform better if you hit him somewhere other than 6 or 7?

  3. 3
    DAP Says:

    i agree with every single thing you said about jason heyward. great points there.

    its worth mentioning that jason was OPSing in the mid .800s up until mid may. he has had about a 3 week lull where he has OPSed .550. thats terrible, but it wasnt that long ago when he was hitting well. lets hope he figures something out, because we need more than good defense out of RF.

    his game winning hit was one of the most softly hit balls i have ever seen off his bat.

  4. 4
    Shaun Says:

    Good discussion on Heyward. I think Ham hit the nail on the head: the hype is causing so much passionate discussion.

    One thing I take issue with is the idea that sabermetrics was “invented” to help small market teams. Sabermetric principles were made famous by Bill James (and may have been used within the game and possibly outside the game long before) just to get a better understanding of the game and to find out if the stuff that he heard and read from announcers and sportswriters was indeed true. It was more of a skeptic’s movement, if you will. And those principles apply to all baseball, not just small markets trying to keep up with the big boys. Pretty much every team uses what we could call “sabermetrics” to some degree or another, based on what media folks who would know.

    Also, I don’t think the intention is to use sabermetrics to claim Heyward has been better than he’s been. No one is saying Heyward has been anything close to good his last 30 games, or whatever. I think many use it just as a tool to evaluate all players. And using those principles, we understand that no player should be judged by his lowest slump or his hottest hot spell. That’s not to say everything is okay. Clearly Heyward is bottom of the barrel among rightfielders, offensively, even over the long-haul of his career or the past couple of seasons.

    I think the point most like me are trying to get across is that the situation is not as dire as some fans make it out to be (not necessarily Steve, Ham and Curt). I think the folks taking my view of Heyward are mostly addressing those fans who want Heyward demoted or traded. I would guess most of the hardcore fans have a pretty good grasp of the reality regarding Heyward. Overall I think the conclusions by Steve, Ham and Curt were pretty much spot on.

  5. 5
    Chris Says:

    The Red Sox won 2 World Series with a sabermetric approach so that discussion was pretty silly.

    Another big problem is looking at SSS anything. Don’t even look at last 30 days and think it means anything. Pujols had a horrible 30 days and it meant nothing.

    The problem is eyes lie often in baseball. People think Freeman is a great defender when he isn’t because he can never get to balls to his right. Has Heyward been great offensively or even good? No of course not but if you are looking at batting average only and ignore walks then you will likely never like Heyward. Pastornicky has a higher batting average but has been a significantly worse offensive player than Heyward. You have to train your eyes by constantly incorporating more information.

    Freeman has under-performed this year too and yet it barely gets talked about. His OBP is sub .300 now! Does he cover it with a few hot games? Do people just give him pass because of injury even though Heyward didn’t get the same pass last year?

    Maybe its just expectations but people act like Freeman is a more valuable player than Heyward when that hasn’t been the case even when Heyward has been struggling.

    Think of fangraphs as a eye appointment to help fix your vision.

  6. 6
    DAP Says:

    Red Sox may have taken a sabermetric approach in the last few years, but i dont think they would have needed that to know that a lineup anchored with players like Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Keven Millar, Kevin Youkilis, Johnny Damon and other would be pretty solid.

    Nor would they have needed to know xFIP of Josh Beckett, Pedro Martinez, or Curt Schilling to realize they might be a part of a good rotation.

  7. 7
    Walker Says:

    “Did Chipper get shot?”


    I love Chipper , but that is the reason why I always cringe when he has to make any kind of athletic moves besides swinging the bat. He’s already fragile, but at age 40, he’s extremely fragile. I’m not mad because it’s not surprising but I’ll wait it out as long as it takes to get a healthy Chipper. That must have been some liner.

  8. 8
    Bubdylan Says:

    Congrats to Teheran on his first complete game.

  9. 9
    Shaun Says:

    I think Chipper went hunting with Dick Cheney.

  10. 10
    Steve Says:

    Here’s the Braves Press Release on Lucas Sims:

    ATLANTA – The Atlanta Braves tonight selected right-handed pitcher Lucas Sims from Brookwood High School in Snellville, Georgia with their first selection (21st overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

    Sims, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-handed pitcher, was named the Georgia Region 8-AAAAA Pitcher of the Year after posting an 8-1 record with a 1.19 ERA while leading his team to the Georgia state championship game. Ranked by Baseball America as the 29th-best player in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, he pitched last summer in the Prospect Classic for USA Baseball’s 18U team. A Lawrenceville, Georgia native, Sims was also a three-year starter at shortstop and had committed to attend Clemson University.

    “We are happy to be able to draft a Georgia boy, especially one from our backyard who is a great athlete with a great arm and great make-up.” said Tony DeMacio, the Club’s director of scouting. “We are looking forward to getting him into the fold as soon as possible. We think we have a top of the rotation type of player.”

    Sims was named to USA Baseball’s 16U team in 2010 and pitched in two games for the gold medal-winning club. He went 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA with six strikeouts (7.0 IP, 4 R, 3 ER 4 BB).

    The 40-round First-Year Player draft will continue Tuesday (June 5) at 12:00 p.m. ET with rounds two through 15 and will conclude Wednesday (June 6) at 12:00 p.m. ET with rounds 16 through 40. Atlanta’s second selection will be the 85th overall pick and the Braves will select 21st in rounds three through 40.

  11. 11
    Steve Says:

    @5 – Chris, I appreciate your comments and passion about the subject. But it’s amazing how the slash line people vs. the Fangraphs people gets polarizing like politics. As we planned this show, we toyed with discussing this very fact but decided to stay more with baseball. The hard core Sabre folks think everyone else are idiots. Again, like politics, it stops all discourse.

    “Think of fangraphs as a eye appointment to help fix your vision.” Wow.

  12. 12
    Steve Says:

    “Has Heyward been great offensively or even good? No of course not but if you are looking at batting average only and ignore walks then you will likely never like Heyward.”

    I think that was the point we were making. We started the whole conversation with Shaun’s analysis about his being an above average defender and base runner. But it’s the offensive numbers that are turning people off. That was our point.

  13. 13
    Shaun Says:

    I consider myself a hardcore sabermetrics person. Not that I’ve ever done sabermetric research myself. Just that I feel comfortable in that world and sabermetric statistics and principles make sense to me.

    But I also consider myself a baseball and scouting person. Not that I understand a one-hundredth of what a pro scout understands and knows. But when I listen to or read guys like Kevin Goldstein, Jason Parks and Keith Law, I think that world is very awesome.

    I don’t think we need to take sides in the broader debate of sabermetrics versus scouting or whatever. I think anyone who is curious about baseball should be fully in both worlds. From listening to media folks within the game who have worked in or been around front offices, it seems that most teams fully embrace all of it.

    I spoke with Steve the other night about Baseball Prospectus’s Up and In podcast (the second-best baseball podcast on the internet) and how Kevin Goldstein and Jason Parks are critical of the sabermetric blogging community and paradoxically seem to fully embrace sabermetrics. I think this is the way it ought to be. We should all be just trying to get better and know and learn more.

    I hope it didn’t come across that I think Heyward has been some sort of really good player. I think he’s been lackluster. I was more addressing the folks who think Heyward should be sent to the minors, traded or think he’s somehow lazy and seem to think that he’s never likely to become anything. Perhaps not many of those types of people listen to ABT, given the knowledge that folks bring in the comments. And Steve, Ham and Curt know their stuff so I don’t think their podcast is the type to attract the fanatics who are completely unreasonable about everything the Braves do and all the decisions they make.

    No doubt Heyward has been at the bottom rung of the major league ladder, especially offensively. No statistic tells us otherwise. If you think that, sure, you are just as unreasonable as those saying we should trade or demote Heyward or that he’s lazy, etc.

    I would only say it’s not quite as bad as it seems, and I think that’s what most of the reasonable fans believe, that Heyward is very likely to just break out in the not-so-distant future and will consistently become a great player. I think his age means a great deal, as plenty of players don’t really break out until 23-24 and players don’t generally peak until their late 20s. So if you think he’s lazy or need to be demoted or traded, you aren’t being reasonable. I also think that if you think some stat is telling us he’s anything more than mediocre, you are also being unreasonable. Hopefully my blog post came across as let’s don’t give Heyward any special treatment but let’s don’t act as if it’s complete doom-and-gloom.

  14. 14
    Walker Says:

    To bring all this to a tidy conclusion:

    1.Heyward’s offensive production has been dissapointing so far. It not what we all expected.

    However, people unfairly expected a superstar at the age of 22.

    2.Heyward wil never hit for a very high average.

    However we must understand that as this kid gains more and more experience there are very VERY good odds that he will just eventually get better. Plain and simple. He’s just too talented. I’d give it an 80% chance this guy becomes a perrenial all star if not a very good major leaguer. His batting eye is already good at a young age and projects very well to get better and better. How can it not? Be patient and in the meantime enjoy his already all star level defense and baserunning instincts.

    Bottom line: If Jason Heyward doesnt at least become a very good major leaguer,something has to go very very wrong.

  15. 15
    Steve Says:

    @13,14: Agreed. The calls to send him down, trade him or compare him to Frenchy are really ludicrous.

  16. 16
    Nate Says:

    It’s really a miracle that teams built winning clubs before sabremetrics came along.

  17. 17
    Walker Says:

    I would be happy if Heyward put up Dwight Evans like career numbers. Dwight Evans was sick and was probaly undervalued in his day.

  18. 18
    Shaun Says:

    Nate @16, obviously front offices built winners before sabermetrics (although some front offices used sabermetric principles even before the term “sabermetrics” came in to the vernacular).

    Sabermetrics, the concept of using more objective evidence to answer baseball questions (versus just the subjective, like scouting), became more and more common in the age of computers and the internet, simply because it became easier to find, store and process a lot more objective information.

    Of course teams won without using that sort of information because they really didn’t have the option, at least not to the degree that they did once computers and the internet, etc. became a normal part of our culture.

    But now pretty much every front office uses what we would call sabermetrics to some degree or another. As with any industry, the more information you have, the better off you are. So why would any team not take advantage?

    Note, I’m not saying any team does or should ignore the subjective. Obviously it’s necessary to pay attention to a scout’s subjective assessments (i.e., a scout liking a certain player’s tools and skills, which is based less on objective data and more on that scout’s own views).

  19. 19
    Shaun Says:

    Something that we should be discussing more than Heyward and sabermetrics: Simmons up/Pastornicky down.

    I believe that move was about shoring up run prevention. I don’t think one is that much better than the other overall. I think once the offense showed positive signs and once Simmons got some time in Double-A under his belt, the front office decided to go with the 80 glove/80 arm at short.

  20. 20
    Shaun Says:

    I believe having Simmons is going to be a lot like having A-Gon: Great defense, poor offense, which is fine as long as the offense keeps it up.

    Obviously Simmons doesn’t have Gonzalez’s power but overall offense may look similar (at least to the 2011 version of Gonzalez). Simmons has a stronger arm (98 mph off the mound in college) and may be flashier with the glove. He may have a better glove.

    Not to get too much back into sabermetrics, but evidence suggest defense peaks in a player’s early-to-mid 20s. So the Braves could have had this in mind as well: Let’s get him up and take advantage of his defensive value for more years than we would if we waited on his bat to develop.

  21. 21
    Steve Says:

    Dan Uggla leads NL All-Star voting among 2Bs; Chipper is 3rd among 3B, Freeman is 3rd among 1B, and McCann 3rd among C’s. Bourn and Heyward are 7 and 8 for OFs.

  22. 22
    Curt Says:


  23. 23
    Bubdylan Says:

    We could certainly use Lowe, but it’s a pretty weak thesis for an article. Like spelling out how handy the players would be that we traded away for Tex. Or how wet water feels when you pour it on yourself.

  24. 24
    Shaun Says:

    I strongly suspect if Lowe wasn’t moved, another move would have been necessary to clear salary, perhaps a move that would have made the Braves worse than moving Lowe, like trading Prado for not quite full value.

  25. 25
    Steve Says:

    @23 – Agree 100%. I typically like Bradley’s stuff (or at least find it interesting enough), but that columnn is a total air sandwich. On what planet would we have not off-loaded any of his salary in the off-season as we did? His performance this year is completely irrelevant.

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