Archive for the ‘Atlanta Braves’ Category

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves

There is nothing fun about baseball’s arbitration process. It is a necessary evil, an inefficient means to a satisfactory end. Nobody likes going the arbitration route, where dirty laundry is dredged up and the seeds of animosity can sometimes take hold.

It is a tool and a risk for teams, especially those that opt for the “file and trial” no-nonsense stance. If player and team cannot reach an agreement before the deadline, teams like Toronto and Atlanta shelve discussions until they’re making their cases to the arbitrator.

Eno Sarris of Fangraphs wrote an interesting piece on the subject, using the very slight difference between Jason Heyward‘s asking price and the number the Braves countered with as his framing device. He describes a “maturing of the process” as both sides do their best to avoid alienation by stating their case in good faith.

But money is money. Sometimes the two sides are arguing over a significant amount of money. Take Craig Kimbrel, for example. Kimbrel filed for $9MM, almost $2.5 million more than the team’s number of $6.55MM.

Just for fun, let’s play this out (like BP did last year but less smart). I’ll argue for Craig Kimbrel and, umm, for the Braves as well. Which side makes the most compelling case? With whom will the arbitrator (me again) side? Let’s bridge the divide!

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Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves

It is a little too easy to focus too intently on each off-season as if they occur in a vacuum. Sure, the Red Sox haven’t had a very active signing period. But they did just win the World Series and many of their keys pieces are already in place.

The Atlanta Braves won 96 games in 2013, claiming another NL East title. This success came on the heels of a very busy off-season, in which they engineered the Justin Upton trade and spent a king’s ransom on free agent center fielder B.J. Upton. There wasn’t a lot of question that the Braves built their 2013 team to win.

But, because they’re the Braves, Atlanta came up short in the postseason, bowing out to the Dodgers in the NLDS. Since the final game of the year, the Braves watched catcher Brian McCann sign with the New York Yankees as a free agent and long-time starter Tim Hudson, who missed the end of the season with a gruesome ankle injury, agree to join the Giants on a two-year free agent contract.

To counteract these losses the Braves have done…well they’ve done very little. Bringing in Ryan Doumit as a third-string catcher and signed a rehabbing starter in Gavin Floyd. Atlanta has a lot of talent and their front office believes the pieces are all but in place for another postseason run.

Confident as they might be, Atlanta surely wants to improve their 2014 chances. As such, what is the Braves next move? Are they ready to compete with their roster as is?

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Angels

The Colorado Rockies made a few questionable decisions this winter, loading up the bullpen of a rebuilding team with expensive toys when the rest of the roster is in dire need of upgrade.

Shipping out one of those relievers – lefty specialist Josh Outman, made superfluous by the Boone Logan acquisition – in exchange for a highly useful outfielder like Drew Stubbs is not a questionable decision. It is a fine decision. A good decision, even.

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Yankees pitcher  Mussina pitches against Toronto in New York

Hall of Fame ballots, hypothetical or otherwise, are subjective by nature. The list of ten players from this year’s ballot who I deemed, in my infinite wisdom, to be worthy of Hall support was subject to my own whims and shifting criteria.

As has been discussed ad nauseum, there is 15 pounds of Hall of Fame meat on this year’s 10 pound ballot. Multiple worthy candidates will find themselves off the ballots of many voters, who take the seemingly clear edict from the governing body and twist and contort it to their own agenda.

Or maybe different people just value the contributions of given baseball players differently. Using what I believe to be important indicators of pitching prowess, I arrived at a slightly controversial conclusion that Mike Mussina was a better pitcher than Tom Glavine. This aspect of my personal (fake) ballot attracted its fair share of attention.

Mike Mussina has become something of a cause célèbre among baseball writers of a certain vintage – and rightfully so. Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer. Full stop. And here is why he looks better than a player sure to far more support from the voters at large.

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MLB: Wild Card Playoff-St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves

The huge baseball news of the week came early on Monday, as the Atlanta Braves announced they will no longer be playing in Atlanta. The club will be moving from downtown Atlanta to nearby Cobb County in 2017, after the club’s lease on Turner Field ends.

There are plenty of angles with this story: The city of Atlanta became one of few public bodies to stand up and say no to a greedy sports owner looking for unnecessary public funding. The Braves are joining a trend of teams moving (or at least threatening to move) out of cities and in to the suburbs. What will happen with Turner Field? The list goes on.

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MLB: NLDS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers

As Drew wrote prior to postseason play last week, the playoffs are about results. To take it a bit further, the playoffs are about magnification. Events taken for granted during the 162-game slog due to the constant repetition — and, lest we forget, the absurd ability and reliability of the major league ballplayer — suddenly jump to the forefront.

This October, and specifically in the Los Angeles-Atlanta NLDS, the magnifying lens could be on one of the littlest of the so-called little things: the pitcher covering first base on ground balls hit to the right side.

In Sunday night’s Game 3, Hyun-Jin Ryu’s shakiness carried over to his play in the field. In the third inning with the Dodgers up 4-2, nobody out and the bases loaded, Ryu went to cover the bag on a potential 3-6-1 double play. The 3-6-1 is probably the second-hardest double play to turn, only behind the 3-6-3. In both cases, the difficulty is in orientation — finding the bag with a foot and the ball with a glove at the same time can be dizzying, and that sure looks like what happened to Ryu here.

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MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves

There were numerous big moments in tonight’s Braves/Dodgers game, a 4-3 final that knotted the NLDS at one game apiece. Don Mattingly managing the seventh inning like it was his last…wait. Last? That should say first.

Don Mattingly managed the seventh inning — which his team entered down 2-1 and exited behind 4-1 after Donnie Baseball opted to work around Jose Costanza with a new pitcher then walk Reed Johnson to gain the platoon advantage against vastly superior and more platoon neutral Jason Heyward — like a man altogether unfamiliar with the nuances of the game.

But I digress, for this is not about Don Mattingly squeezing all life from the game while the opposition rallied. This is about the snuffing of the Dodgers last-ditch rally in the ninth inning.

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