McCann might be showing signs of decline already, hitting just .240/.315/.423, while being unable to hit out of the shift. (Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE)

What Happens When Brian McCann Just Doesn’t Make Sense?

Brian McCann is one of my favorite players on the Braves team, and I’m guessing he’s one of your favorite players as well. He’s just a likeable hard working guy, that has been with the franchise for his entire professional career. Since 2006 he’s been the most consistent offensive catcher in the game and us Braves fans have been spoiled with great production from a position that is extremely scarce throughout the rest of the league.

But what happens when the Braves and Brian McCann just don’t make sense together? Brian has the rest of 2012 and a team option for 2013 left on his contract. After that, it is just a really big headache for Frank Wren, and some heartache for the rest of us.

The Braves do have the money to extend McCann, if they really wanted to, but with the team’s atrocious TV contract, it’s going to be extremely important to be frugal and wise with the money that is spent. Unfortunately, that means McCann could possibly be playing for a different team in 2014.

Brian McCann has caught a whole lot of 9 inning baseball games. Like every catcher who has ever played the game at the highest level, all of that takes a toll on you and wears down your body more than other, more luxurious positions do. A day is going to come when Brian just can’t go behind the dish every single day anymore. I denied this fact for a long time but reality check! its going to happen. That doesn’t mean McCann will be a useless ball player. He could transition to first or fit perfectly into a DH position.

An American League team would love to get there hands on McCann. They would probably give up some really nice prospects in order to do it. They would then use up however many years left he had behind the plate and then let him play first or DH to get his bat in the lineup as often as possible.

As far as what the Braves would do without McCann, it turns out that we would actually be just fine. Christian Bethancourt and Evan Gattis are both promising young prospects and within a couple years could be ready to become major league catchers. In the mean time, David Ross (a career .237/.325/.443 hitter with a 38% caught stealing percentage as a back up) wouldn’t mind a well deserved starting spot with the team. David Ross would actually be an above average starting catcher. The league is averaging .245/.315/.389 with a .307 wOBA while David Ross has been a .237/.325/.443 hitter with a .330 wOBA.

The team obviously wouldn’t have the offensive production that McCann has always provided, but they would still have a better player than most other teams do at catcher.

With all the money that the team would be saving I would like them to do these three things:

  1. Give Martin Prado a long term deal landing solidifying his great glove at third and his bat wherever its needed in the lineup.
  2. Re-sign Michael Bourn, even if we have to ‘overpay’ just a little bit.
  3. Find a legitimate outfielder with some offensive capabilities with the remainder of the dough.

The team does have a lot of money coming off of the books next season so all of these things could be done. The reason I think it would be okay to overpay for Michael Bourn is because right now his skill set is undervalued in the baseball world. Pretty soon it won’t be, and landing one of the best lead off men/defensive center fielder/base stealer in the game would be worth the money.

Lots of people (definitely including me) don’t like to think that Brian McCann could ever not be on the Braves but at some point we have to be realistic and think about what the best thing is for the organization. An alternative to all of this is for some rich guy to come buy the team and throw cash every which way… but hey, we all can’t be that lucky can we?

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Brian Mccann David Ross Martin Prado Michael Bourn

  • FredOwens

    You’re right about McCann. I might have accepted offers for him this winter that included 3 to 5 prospects and a major league ready outfielder . Mac at first I’m afraid would be a disaster think Carlos Lee without the fielding skill? But the only way we trade Mac now is if we drop out by the deadline. Otherwise it’s an off season trade. Now one quibble about Ross.
    Like Hinske and Diaz,  Ross is what he is because he plays one or two days a week. When playing regularly his offense goes away at an alarming rate. In 2007 he played the most games he ever played in one season; 112. His line .203/.271/.399. Between June 9 2010 and July 22nd he played 71 innings in 12 games, starting 8 games. His line was .192 .222 .269. Now that he’s 35 catching daily would wear him down quickly. Ross is not nor will he be again a 125 game catcher if you expect him to actually hit after the first month.
    If we could merge Gattis bat with Bethancort’s defense we’d have a player however that isn’t happening and the Braves will have to do what other teams do until they stumble upon a McCann type catcher, get power offense and RBI from the corners (1st, 3rd, lf and RF) and take whatever their catcher can provide. The most important thing a catcher does is catch. That’s why Yadi Molina is such a find. Even when he doesn’t hit regularly, his ability to handle pitchers and throw out runner won’t go away. McCann isn’t Molina and isn’t worth his money to the Braves. I suspect you could entice a lot from the Yankees or Red Sox for Mac, if they had it. The yanks have a couple of good minor league catchers but Mac in New York would be a perfect fit. The Braves won with Damon Berryhill (and others) catching because he could catch. That’s the post McCann future for them as well.