I would love for Upton to be able to lead off but weirdly his OBP drops as he gets older. That should be a skill that ages well. The older you get the more you know the strike zone. Plus , lets say he starts off the year at leadoff and struggles and we drop him. That would not be good. I say start the season with Simmons leading off and see what happens. I don’t think that Simmons should hit leadoff because he’s skinny. He should leadoff because I trust he can get on base more than Upton. Upton’s power will be best used hitting 5th in my opinion where 30 HR potential can be more than just solo shots.
The 3rd base situation is a conundrum because on one side I want to see what Francisco can do after his supposedly amazing winterball. But he could still just suck really bad. On the other hand Johnson is a slightly above average offensive third baseman but he is literally the worst 3b glove in MLB and the numbers back that up. Either way, Im not excited about our 3b situation.
Great show, guys. If anything can help us overcome the leadership vacuum, maybe it’s all the youth and energy building up in the clubhouse. The Upton arrivals have to have a good impact on Heyward and Freeman.
And, Steve, I saw Catfish about a year ago and loved it.
@4 – It’s something I didn’t quite say in the show, but I just don’t believe all the success stories from Francisco’s winter ball will translate to the regular season. I only expect Francisco to suck most of the time sprinkled with the occasional HR.
And good point on BJ and if they had to drop him down. That would not be a great start to his career in Atlanta.
I’m more excited about Justin. I think he has more offensive potential. I’m still amazed that AZ traded him. Good luck to them with that whole gritty player thing. You can’t say enough about what a great trade this was for Wren and the Braves. With that said, i will miss Martin. Sorry, Leah.
Steve, I agree with you about Simmons and the leadoff spot. I think BJ Upton may be the better choice. Simmons drew a total of 65 walks in 237 games. Not to overvalue walks. As long as a player is getting on base at a good rate, who cares? But I just don’t know that he will hit well enough and walk enough to put up a good enough OBP to be a solid leadoff hitter. All this is fine because Simmons looks like a perennial Gold Glove shortstop. It doesn’t really matter how he hits, he’s going to provide a ton of value.
BJ might not be a great leadoff hitter but I think I’d take my chances with him over Simmons. To steal something else from another expert, I heard Keith Law talking about this on the ESPN Baseball Today podcast: BJ Upton drew 97 walks in 2008, so he has displayed some discipline and ability to draw some walks.
Great show guys. I think y’all are dead on about how different this team is and the whole leadership thing. We could go on all day about that stuff, but I think y’all covered it very well.
One of the things that I think is getting overlooked in a lot of this is Freeman — as much as I think other players will be in the spotlight (all 3 outfielders, Simmons as potential leadoff, 3B guys), I think Freeman is going to bust out even more than he has so far.
Speaking of Freeman, I went to last Thursday’s Braves Caravan stop here in Columbia, SC. Freeman, Pastornicky, and J.R. Graham were there. (Simmons was supposed to be there but, for whatever reason, didn’t make it). As fans went through the line, Pastornicky was the first guy to sign. When I gave him a baseball to sign, he asked where I wanted him to sign it and if I wanted him to sign it on the “sweet spot” — apparently baseballs have a premium spot for signatures. Not knowing what a sweet spot was, I just said, “uh, yeah, wherever is fine.” Then, when he handed it to Freddie, Freddie saw that Pastornicky signed it on the sweet spot and gave him this look like, “you douche.” Pretty funny. But also kinda lame that our minor league SS took the good spot over our should-be All Star 1B.
I’m in the middle of the podcast and have some thoughts before I forget. My Mama always says men don’t really reach maturity until the age of 25. So maybe all his silly accolades/laziness is behind him. As far as leadership goes, weren’t there times even with Chipper, McCann, etc on roster we questioned where the leadership came from? Rossie is the biggest loss in my mind when it comes to true leadership. Prado lead by example but then again how could he not…being perfect and all.
i think simmons will be ok in the leadoff role. he has alot of thunder behind him. shaun, walks isnt what matters in the leadoff spot, OBP does. i thinksimmons is likely to have at least s similar OBP to upton, but without the power. so lets put upton down in the lineup to maximize his sluggining with guys on base.
i just dont expect bj upton to get on base more than simmons.
Heres another thing about batting BJ leadoff. If it doesn’t work out, its alot more complicated to “demote” your $75mil player than it is your (basically) rookie SS.
Let face it, the Braves didn’t sign BJ Upton because he gets on base. (his 97 walks were 5 seasons ago. he dont do that no more) The Braves signed BJ Upton because he plays CF, and hits homers. We all know it. So, let him hit lower in the order, and drive in the guys who actually CAN get on base. And, I fully expect Simmons to get on base more than BJ Upton. My lineup would be:
DAP, it’s possible. It’s not like BJ Upton has been an on-base machine. But Simmons was never a legit prospect because of offense. He may grow and be better than I thought but I’m skeptical. He just doesn’t walk nor does he hit the ball with a lot of authority, so I think he’s going to have a hard time posting a high batting average or on-base percentage.
Shaun, I think Simmons may surprise you. He is not a slap hitter. Also, my observation is that he has a different approach depending on the situation(i.e. the count). Much like Chipper Jones, he takes big swings early in the count, and cuts down with 2 strikes. Because of this, I think he will actually slug better than we might think, and though his OBP will be driven by his batting average, that wont be terrible for someone who puts the ball in play as much as he does. His BB% and SO% will probably be nearly identical to Martin Prado’s.
Also, this is totally meaningless, but isn’t it nice for the Braves to have an offseason like this? It may or may not work out the way we hoped, but doesn’t it seem the last several year that it was other teams who were stocking up, making huge trades and free agent signings that make all of MLB view them differently? This year, its ATL rocking the boat, and I like that to be my team, for a change.
Dont forget about that Walden kid in the bullpen. If he becomes dominant WOW. Medlen for a full season. Freeman and Heyward improve. McCann is in a free agent year so he should be highly motivated. Odds say its time for Uggla to get his sh** together for a full season. Venters comes back better. Beachy comes back.
My concerns are how well Maholm and Minor do. Also if 3b will be a negative. Wouldn’t be nice if either Johnson or Francisco turn on a Jose Bautista like switch and surprise us?