Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Braves Contract Talks Part 2

I'll start this update by saying that Bobby Cox is going to the Hall of Fame, so good for him. It's no shock to anybody since he's one of the most winning managers of all time, and one of the guys that almost every player wanted to play for. I'll give that it's just due when they actually have the ceremony. In the meantime, we have HOT STOVE!

Frank Wren did an interview recently with Mark Bowman to discuss the players the Braves might be looking for in the off season. I'll give you a quick hint, he's not going to talk about getting an Ace. Here's a quote from Frank:

"I don't see, necessarily, a front-line move," Wren said. "I see more support moves, where you are adding a bench bat that can give you power off the bench. Or adding to our bullpen or adding to the depth of our rotation. I see it more likely to make those moves than the big front-line moves."

Ok, so I see this two ways. One, no GM is going to come right out and tell you about his big moves in the offseason. If he's out there saying, "Man we REALLY need an Ace or we're screwed as a franchise," that opens you up to other clubs raising the price, and fans getting pissed when you can't pull off a deal. So, I think ole Franky's sandbagging us. We know he's looking at big-named pitchers. He's also probably looking at a backup left fielder slot, and some pinch hit utility guys we could put in late. But really, this offseason is going to be about two things: Can we unload Dan Uggla and can we sign the big arm?

Right now, the answer on both fronts is no. It's also early. Meanwhile, the Nationals have already been making moves, like picking up Doug Fister for their pitching staff. Does that bother me as a Braves fan? Not really since I think Fister is coming off one good year, while his previous stats tell me that he's usually a 50-50 win guy who can eat innings at a 3.50 ERA. Granted, that's solid, but he's also turning 30 this year, and he's coming off the highest inning total of his career in Detroit. Tim Hudson had an almost identical stats year to Fister back in 2005 when he was 29, then went out and had 13-12 season with a 4.86 ERA at 30. It can happen at that age, and Hudson was 3x the pitcher Fister is.

So the Braves focus now on the Ace, despite Frank's attempts to make you look at the kitty over there. Two names that are popping up are David Price (duh), and Jeff Samardzija (ugh). If we get Jeff, I'm not sure what I'd do, because if you've read this blog much you know I think he's a punk and I really dislike him. Also, Notre Dame football players don't belong on this team. His numbers aren't in the same arena as Price. David's 71-39 with a 3.19 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. He's also 28. Samardzija is 29, is 29-35 (that's mostly the Cubs), has a 4.19 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. Do these guys look similar? They shouldn't, because one is an Ace, and the other is a guy the Cubs would hope to trade for magic beans that solve being a terrible franchise.

Frank, you have one job. Go get David Price. Give up whatever you have to short of Simmons and Freeman. They want Heyward? Take him. They want Gattis? Take him. They want BJ back and a public apology? You bet. I would literally sell almost anybody on this team to get him, and yes, I include Craig Kimbrel in that. Some of you are like NOT CRAIG ARE YOU CRAZY? No, I'm not. Not only is the closer position statistically the most overrated in baseball (you're going to win 90%+ of the games you lead by a run or more regardless of the pitcher), but Craig is also one of those guys that redlines his arm constantly. I think he's ripe for Tommyjohn at some point in the near future. Don't think it can happen? Look at the two relief guys in Venters and O'Flaherty. Look at Beachy. Look at a guy like Strasburg on the other side. Guys that try to pump up the high heat in today's game, and have done it since they were in high school, are bound to face the knife at some point in their careers now. Also, would I trade a closer for an ace starter? Yeah, considering my closer is going to pitch maybe 70 innings a year, while my Ace is probably going 200+.

Remember guys, the trading philosophy should be to make trades when guys are at the absolute highest point of their value. That's why nobody wants Dan Uggla, and people would want a guy like Craig Kimbrel. You need to leverage whatever assets you have while you can, because I don't think Craig is going to pump out 50 save seasons over and over. Even Rivera only did that twice, and that was playing for the Yankees. So, I hope you can see the point, and that this isn't me trying to get Craig out of town. I love Craig, I think he's a great guy, but I can show you imperically how our closer isn't as important as our starter when it comes to succeeding in the post-season. If he's part of a package to get the key starter, we shouldn't freak out about it.

Let's get us an Ace!


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