Braves Claim Jordan Schafer from Astros. . . .Wait, what??

Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Proving once again that some people are destined to make the same mistake – in this case sign a player they like who is just never going to make it – over and over again, Frank Wren and crew this afternoon claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers from Houston.

You remember Schafer, the prospect drafted by the Braves in the 3rd round in 2005 who  worked his way to Mississippi in 2008 and was promptly suspended for suspected use of HGH.  Schafer professed innocence in 2009 saying that he deserved his punishment for hanging around with the wrong crowd.  The Braves believed him and forgave so he started 2009 in Atlanta and looked like he was going to have a great year before hurting his wrist and missing the rest of the season. In spite of a 2010 slash line of .201/.255/.254  he did enough for in the spring of 2011 to convince the Braves – by this time desperate for a center fielder after the Nate McLouth failure and the trade for Rick Ankiel -  to give him another shot in 2011. He was essentially replacement level however and eventually went to Houston as part of the Michael Bourn trade.

At Houston he had an okay 30 game finish to 2011 and looked like he might turn things around on a team who wouldn’t mind letting him play badly for a year. Following the season however he was arrested for pot in Florida generally spitting in the face of a Houston franchise who had taken him and his baggage on. In 2012 he injured his shoulder and was generally no more than a a sub replacement lever player and warm body for Houston in their farewell to the NL.  In his year and a bit with the Astros he finished with a slash of .220/.301/.298 and struck out 134 times in 136 games. Schafer is just 26 so I suppose the thought is that they might catch lightening in a bottle if he suddenly becomes the player they drafted in 2005 instead of the bum he became later. That may happen but this is a mistake if he’s expected to be anything except a minor league fourth outfielder behind players who haven’t already used up their first and second chances.

DIamondbacks left fielder Cole Gillespie (5) hits a grand slam in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Photo Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

Instead of Schafer the Braves could have picked up a guy like Cole Gillespie . I wrote about Gillespie on Saturday, a C+ level prospect by some rankings, designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks because they had too many outfielders. Gillespie who had worked hard and been a good soldier for the D’Backs elected free agency instead and his minor league numbers while not eye watering are better than Schafer’s.

 

 

Year Age Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 22 Helena Rk 51 233 186 49 64 12 1 8 31 18 4 40 34 .344 .464 .548 1.012
2007 23 Brevard County A+ 129 522 438 75 117 25 3 12 62 16 8 72 95 .267 .378 .420 .798
2008 24 Huntsville AA 131 550 462 73 130 38 4 14 79 17 1 75 102 .281 .386 .472 .858
2009 25 3 Teams AAA-A+ 129 498 417 72 114 20 12 13 63 18 5 65 98 .273 .372 .472 .844
2009 25 Brevard County A+ 12 51 43 10 15 2 3 1 9 4 0 7 11 .349 .431 .605 1.036
2009 25 Reno,Nashville AAA 117 447 374 62 99 18 9 12 54 14 5 58 87 .265 .365 .457 .822
2009 25 Nashville AAA 75 277 236 29 57 12 5 7 27 6 5 31 56 .242 .332 .424 .756
2009 25 Reno AAA 42 170 138 33 42 6 4 5 27 8 0 27 31 .304 .418 .514 .932
2010 26 Reno AAA 69 312 264 54 76 14 6 8 49 8 5 44 49 .288 .394 .477 .872
2011 27 Reno AAA 137 582 484 100 145 19 16 12 79 24 5 81 91 .300 .405 .479 .885
2012 28 Reno AAA 126 510 441 85 136 35 4 13 66 11 8 59 80 .308 .390 .494 .885
7 Seasons 772 3207 2692 508 782 163 46 80 429 112 36 436 549 .290 .393 .474 .867
AAA (4 seasons) AAA 449 1851 1563 301 456 86 35 45 248 57 23 242 307 .292 .390 .478 .868
A+ (2 seasons) A+ 141 573 481 85 132 27 6 13 71 20 8 79 106 .274 .383 .437 .819
AA (1 season) AA 131 550 462 73 130 38 4 14 79 17 1 75 102 .281 .386 .472 .858
Rk (1 season) Rk 51 233 186 49 64 12 1 8 31 18 4 40 34 .344 .464 .548 1.012
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2012.

I know the Braves are a team with a heart and everyone deserves their chances so it’s natural to bring the wayward kid back for another shot. However Schafer’s not a kid, he’s 26, and the Braves are not his parents. I hope Schafer makes it but I believe he would have a better chance of succeeding with his third chance on a team where he has no history to overcome and with teammates whom he has never let down.

That’s A Wrap

Claiming Jordan Schafer is a mistake. Before anyone says “well it doesn’t cost us anything so why not,” let me suggest that it does cost us. Every time we expend time and manpower not to mention money on a lost cause it takes away from help needed by another hardworking and dependable player like Gillespie. I don’t know Gillespie from Adam . He may never be major league ready.  But his numbers say he’s more likely to be MLB ready than  Schafer and has never as far as I’ve been able to find out, done anything to detract from the reputation of the organization. There are probably a dozen Gillespies out there waiting for their chance who haven’t blown two already.  The Braves would be far better served finding one of those than going back to square one with a player who’s failed them twice and Schafer would be better off in a new city with a clean slate

Topics: Atlanta Braves

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  • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

    Not that I am discounting your criticism on Schafer, because I completely agree that the decision to spend a spot on the 40 man roster with him is not one of Frank Wren’s finer moments, but the question between a player like Schafer and Gillespie, or claiming Shafer at all, is not which one is major league ready, but more of who has upside, and when do you give up on a guy. There is no defense for off-field issues with Schafer, because, well, they are issues, but if you look past just splits throughout both’s minor league career you will see that Schafer has a broader skill set than a guy like Gillespie. To start, Gillespie, at 28, is in the middle of the time frame that most consider the prime of an outfielder’s career. Schafer, at 26, is just making it into this bracket. Also, if you look slugging percentage in relation to runs created and home runs, you ‘ll see that Schafer’s power through out the minors is on the same level as Gillespie’s, if not better. Schafer’s speed has equated to success on the base paths in the majors, and given how little he actually gets on base, the steals to time on base ratio, if there was such a stat, would be extraordinary, meaning he’s a very good base runner. Gillespie, on the other hand, has eclipsed the 20 steal mark in only one season. Given how much higher his on base percentage is, he’s an average base runner with speed. Gillespie does have a pretty big edge when you look at k and bb walk ratios, but those numbers still aren’t above average, and, when Schafer actually does put the bat on the ball, he has a constant BABIP of .300+, including his failed years in the bigs. But, Schafer’s swing rate is higher than Gillespies, which is a sign that he is an over aggressive, free swinger, which can indicate a player with either no sense of a strike zone and plate discipline problems, or a kid that was brought up to the bigs too soon and has been pressing ever since. When it comes to defense, Schafer has a better fielding percentage and range factor than Gillespie.

    So, the bottom line is, given that Schafer has proven his base running and fielding abilities translate to the major league level, as well as his ability to get hits when he makes contact with the ball, there is only one more area that he needs to work on before he can become a productive left handed hitting outfielder. That’s not to say that the area in question isn’t the most important one, and no one to my knowledge has ever stolen first base, so, he has to find a way to get on base to use the speed. But, at 26, how can you say it isn’t worth one last shot to give a player, familiar with the organization, and who is just now entering his perceived prime, a chance to work under a new hitting coach who got a free swinger like Dan Uggla to improve his BB%, BB/K ratio, BABIP, and swing percentage on pitches out of the zone, as well as drastically lowering his over all swing percentage? Greg walker has developed talents like Paul Konerko, AJ Pierzensky, both who struggled with plate discipline early in their careers before becoming members of multiple all-star teams, not to mention, helping Jason Heyward to a bounce back campaign in 2012.

    Besides, this was basically an insurance policy in case we didn’t pick up Upton #1 or 2, or resign Micheal Bourn or any other free agent outfielder. An insurance policy that, while on the surface looks damaged and a like a bust, has a huge payoff. Think of it like a person who makes a million dollars a year, playing the lottery every day. He already has enough money to live comfortably, so the harm in giving up one of one millions a day doesn’t outweigh the gain of the payoff of 165 million. In other words, to the Braves, the juice is worth the squeeze with Schafer.

    Sorry, I just finished writing a post on a complete breakdown of the off-season, with every intent on opening up with bashing the Schafer move. By the time I researched everything that went into this move, and possible claims that would have made it to us, I had talked myself into being ok with it. Then I stumbled across your article with this fresh on my mind, and had to say something

    • fireboss

      I understand how with the research on top of your mind and knowing Schafer’s potential a response is almost leaping onto the keyboard. The point of the piece wasn’t Gillespie’s superiority nor that Schafer didn’t have that potential. It was simply was that both sides should have moved on to other options. As I originally wrote: “There are probably a dozen Gillespies out there waiting for their chance
      who haven’t blown two already. The Braves would be far better served
      finding one of those than going back to square one with a player who’s
      failed them twice and Schafer would be better off in a new city with a
      clean slate.”
      A minor league contract with the Mets might have seen him starting in center for them this year for example while he is now going to have to fight for a bench spot I don’t think he can win and won’t get much playing time if he does. There’s much to be said for a fresh start in a new place.

      • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

        True, and I meant to address the fact that you did point out that Gillespie was just an example. I should have pointed out that I was just using your example as my own to show why Jordan is still given shots haha. And he was a waiver claim when Houston either released him, or tried to option him back down, and the Mets had a three day window to put a claim on him before we did. Honestly I hoped that was their thinking, that there’s no way he will still be there with all the teams who need young outfielders in line ahead of them.

        But when the claim happened, there were a lot of questions for the Braves when it came to the outfield, and Schafer felt comfortable as an insurance blanket. They had worn him before. He was broken in, and still kind of smelled like their old cologne. So, just like I do with my ratty old South Carolina hoodie, Atlanta grabbed him, headed out the door, and hoped for warmer days so they’d never actually have to wear him in public.

        I just personally feel, and i’ve always felt this way, that he was thrown out there too soon out of necessity (which by far no extreme observation on my part). He took a hit in his confidence and was never really given the stability at any level within the organization to have a chance to learn how to grow into being a good hitter. And since he was included in the deal for Bourn, Houston felt they had to play him in the bigs too, so it happened to him again. That’s really all he is missing. He just needs the opportunity to be sat down by someone, and be taught about pitch selection and to work on contact. Not a 30 game trip to Gwinnett, but a full year with a team, in a league that he has proven he can hit in before. Give him a place he feels confident in starting, and spend a year rebuilding him. Now, I’m not saying the Braves need to do that, but I am saying that I honestly feel that’s all it would take for him to become a productive member of big league society.

        But, with that all being said, now that we have a set outfield, and chances are he will not magically grow into his potential over night and outshine Heyward or either Upton, I’m looking for him to be a uniform model and a warm body on the bus in Florida before being shipped back to Houston, or given his walking papers if they don’t want him, by the time rosters have to be set.

        • fireboss

          Schafer started hot, got injured and never got back to where he once was. The suspension – basically for hanging around with the wrong folks – was followed by mediocrity where there was once potential. He had plenty of time while the Braves were trying to find a CF to get his act together but for whatever reason he didn’t That will always hang over him as a Brave. Then the incident while he was an Astro ruined that spot for him too. Anywhere except Atl or Houston he could wipe the slate clean. I don’t wish anyone bad luck or failure I just feel the Braves didn’t do him a favor by bringing him back. At the time of his waiver claim the Mets had no idea where they were going this year. If he were waivered now they’d grab him, maybe Baltimore or Minnesota would as well. In Atlanta he’s not even a 5th outfielder. I understand the rationale but think it was misguided.

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