Front offices do not make moves with public opinion in mind. As with most things, good results tend to quiet petty criticisms in a hurry. Criminals and bad character guys continue finding work for a reason – if they can help a baseball team win baseballs, all will be forgiven.
The Atlanta Braves are hot on the trail of B.J. Upton, according to multiple reports. The DOBoner himself suggests the Barves are willing to offer the former Rays center fielder a five-year, $75 million deal. That is a lot of money but Upton is a good player. He can help the team win games.
A key detail surely lost on the notorious fanbase of the Atlanta Braves.
Braves fans are not alone in their unsavoury reputation. Every team has a group of vocal but genuinely misinformed corner of the collective fandom. If anything, certain segments of the writers charged with covering the Bravos egg on these fans, indulging their worst impulses.
@skinnyswag16 — Again, I wrote that I would LISTEN to an offer. What’s wrong with listening? I have doubts if Heyward even loves baseball.
— BillShanks (@BillShanks) November 4, 2011
These are the fans who spent an entire season questioning Jason Heyward’s commitment to the game – as he gutted out the year with a shoulder injury. The fans who openly lobbied for the Barves brain trust to trade Heyward – possibly for local demigod Jeff Francoeur.
These are the writers who, in the middle of his second 5+ WAR season in his first three as a big leaguer – begrudgingly admitting Heyward’s superlative defense, re-discovered power stroke and elite plate discipline demonstrated what “the fuss was all about” during the Braves right fielder’s rookie year.
Jason Heyward is amazing talent, a cornerstone of the Braves franchise now and in the future. He is also a much better player than B.J. Upton. Unfortunately for Upton, the “little things” he does don’t seem to resonate with fans.
It is easy to look at players like B.J. Upton and see what they are not rather than what they are. It is easy to see all the Upton could be – or should be. The easy power and blazing speed make wishcasting fun for fans hoping he might “put it all together.”
B.J. Upton is 28-years old. He strikes out too much and doesn’t hit for a high average, despite typically drawing walks at an above-average rate. His speed and instincts in the outfield make it appear as though he cruises at half speed rather than going all out in pursuit of every fly ball. After 4000 career plate appearances, this is who is his. He isn’t perfect but he is still good. He isn’t going to get better in the five years, he will only get worse.
Which doesn’t mean a five-year contract for Upton is a mistake – it simply means his contributions will largely go unnoticed when frustrated fans watch him strike out or notice his average is in the neighbourhood of .250.
If Upton signs in another city, the complaints will remain. The kind of value a non-star center fielder provides can be difficult to measure, if you thirst for RBI and batting average. The tide cannot change quickly enough to save B.J. Upton from the inevitable backlash – hopefully he knows what’s coming.
And the Rest
Just one spot remains for the World Baseball Classic field. Get excited! [MLB.com]
Temper that excitement – Ichrio! is out :( [Big League Stew]
Juan Pierre signs with the Marlins. Because they’re loading up for a run at the pennant. [Fish Bytes]
Orioles prospect Kevin Gausman demonstrates we are a generation of toddlers who scream and cry when told we can’t have something we didn’t want in the first place. [Eye on Baseball]
Breaking: you are now a finalist to manage the Toronto Blue Jays. Congratulations! [MLBTR]
The Braves want Cody Ross? That’s much more their speed. [Capitol Avenue Club]
Sam Miller makes a case for trading Giancarlo Stanton, with scenarios! ($) [Baseball Prospectus]
Mike Trout won the Negro League Museum MVP, a potential challenge to the BBWAA fiefdom? [Pinstripe Bible]