Friday, January 20, 2017

I Have the Prospects Blues

I'll be extremely happy when the Braves have a pretty set roster again so I don't have to listen to more stories about prospects. In the off-season coming off a rebuild you'll likely read a hundred articles about the Braves farm system. BRAVES TOP 100 PROSPECTS! BRAVES LEAD THE LEAGUE IN FARM SYSTEM PROSPECTS! BRAVES #1 IN PROSPECTS AND OTHER RELATED PROSPECTICLES!

Ugh.

I'm tired of prospects and we're only in Year 2 of whatever the hell this experiment is with Coppy and the Braves. You know why I'm tired of prospects? Because prospects are not a guaranteed MLB player. Prospects are lottery tickets, or magic beans, or bond futures, or whatever analogy you want to create. And that's fine if you're in this for the extreme long haul and you enjoy talking about the minor leagues. There's a place for that. Some fans enjoy that kind of thing.

I don't.

When I started writing about the Braves, I only meant one kind of Braves. The Atlanta kind. I realize we have many other Braves spread across the southeast in various minor league forms. I never cared. I didn't have to care. Now with the rebuild I've been forced into caring because my very fandom rides on the successes and failures of my GM putting the team back together like a minor league Humpty Dumpty. And you know what?

That sucks.

I like watching the Braves and that will never stop. But I also like to watch a team that I think has a chance to win any given game that I'm watching. Last year we didn't have that, and I think many of us were okay because we knew why we had to suffer. And things did get better later in the year as we continued to gel with a new manager and a new set of called up players or trades. That's all good, and from what I understand we should be even more competitive next year.

But enough with the freaking prospects talk.

Show me the baby, don't tell me about the labor. If a player is good, that's awesome because I want to see him at the MLB level, and then we'll decide how he fits with the team. I don't give a crap about his AAA numbers or all the other rankings or where he was drafted or how he looks getting off the bus. Show me the baby.

It's the offseason so I expect a ton of fluff prospect pieces since there's not much to write about with a team that finished dead last in the division. Still, in my mind this is my pledge to you: I'll write about some guys in spring training if I think they have a shot at making the MLB team. Otherwise, I'll leave the prospects debates and talk in the regular season to the other bloggers out there for your minor league info. I'm ready for the real thing.

Bring on Spring Training in a month, I can't wait!

GO BRAVES!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Braves trade Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons

All was quiet on the trade front for about a month. Then all of a sudden we got a bombshell dropped in our collective laps, and it exploded all over Twitter leaving many in Braves Country shocked and confused. Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons, two names we'd actually seen at the MLB level have been traded to Seattle for (you guessed it) more pitching prospects.

I'll come at this from the angle of the fan first. This pisses me off. I liked Mallex a lot, with his hitting, his speed, and his defensive ability in the outfield. I love speed because it never slumps as the old saying goes. It's a part of the game that's become almost an afterthought in the powerball era, and now that steroids are mostly gone from the game and the HR numbers have plummeted I think it's high time that speed and base stealing make a resurgence. Yet, we traded away one of my favorite prospect-come-MLB reserve players because Coppy wanted more arms. How many pitchers is enough Coppy? WILL YOUR PITCHING LUST EVER BE SLAKED YOU MONSTER!

<Breathe>

OK, so that's me as the fan. Now I take off that hat and my angry scowl and put on my analyst hat. Let's be honest about Mallex after they signed Ender Inciarte to a multi-year contract. Mallex was a replaceable/tradable piece. And since nobody is safe, he got packaged with Shae who is coming off Tommy John. Mallex was blocked at the MLB level by multi-year deals with Kemp, Markakis, Sean Rodriguez, and Ender. Shae was a big question mark that never really panned out yet at the MLB level.

In return Seattle gave up their pitcher prospects Luis Gohara and Thomas Burrows. Luis Gohara is a 6'3" 20 year old lefty born in Brazil, and he's been pitching in the Seattle organization since he was 16 years old. In that time he's mostly tooled around rookie and A-ball, amassing an ERA around 4.40 in 48 starts. His WHIP is also way too high at 1.512 because he's giving up tons of hits, well over a hit an inning. My feeling on the move is that the Braves see him as strikeout artist and love the fact his a lefty, so they will try to train him up in our organization. However, since he's a 20 year old in A-Ball we're unlikely to ever see the kid until 2019 at a minimum. Great.

Thomas Burrows is a lefty reliever that pitched at the University of Alabama until getting drafted last year in the 4th round. He's spent some time at A-Ball getting almost 20 games of practice and a respectable 2.55 ERA during that time. I like the fact he's got a good fastball supposedly with a slider, but he will apparently have to work on some other pitches to round out his ability at the MLB level if he wants to start. Otherwise, with two pitches you get put into the closer role at best. However, given his size at 6'1" 225 pounds, he's a big boy who can likely push some big power.

Overall, unless Mallex turns out to be a world-beater CF long term, the deal isn't a bad one. Because the Braves gave away a blocked player and a reliever they don't really use for a possible front line starter and a nice relief piece to step in as closer. Still, it's magic beans. These things may never develop on either end, and we may never know if this trade sucks or works until 2023. So gird your loins Braves fans, the rebuild is far from over.

GO BRAVES!