Many Braves Fans are hoping to see David Price in an Atlanta Uniform next year. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Braves Need To Add An Ace –David Price Is Right


Frank Wren and Staff Ponder An Ace; Is the (David) Price Right?

No one believes or perhaps I ought to say no one should believe, that just adding one pitcher – an Ace – would have propelled the Braves to the NLCS. But it could have made things a lot more interesting.

Horses for Courses

In a 162 game season you can get by and even win a post season spot with a rotation made up of number two, three and four starters. We’ve seen this happen a lot and even more frequently since the introduction of the Bud Selig annual death match one game play-in. The Orioles this year and last are perfect examples of this and so my friends are the Braves. As we’ve seen in this year’s playoffs however, Ace’s with power arms are required to advance in the post season.

Improving Your Hand (Roster)

As I’m putting this together Wren and company are meeting in Orlando to review the organization from top to bottom as explained in a long and definitive Q&A on David O’Brien’s blog yesterday. During that interview the GM was asked if they could have used an Ace down the stretch. The GM answered this way.

“Yeah I just think that, unfortunately, aces or top-of-the-rotation starting pitching is the most rare commodity, whether it’s the trade market or free agent market. And you look at this year’s free agent market, there really isn’t one of those guys in the free agent market. And whether there’s going to be one in the trade market, I don’t know. But we recognize that that’s an area of need and whether we can acquire that, prior to our young guys arriving here, I’m not sure because it’s very difficult to acquire.”

He’s absolutely correct. There’s a long list of free agents  but not an Ace on the list. The only way to draw an Ace is to trade for one.  I know there are rumors that the Tigers might trade Max Scherzer but I don’t believe that. Nor do I think the Red Sox will trade Jon Lester who’s numbers don’t look like an Ace but on the mound he’s seemed every bit one. The only Ace likely with relative certainty to be traded is David Price.

The Rays M.O.

The Rays have a plan and that plan has kept their starting pitching in the top five for the last 5 years or so. Here’s how the plan works. Stock the minor leagues with good arms through the draft or through trades. When a player become too expensive for the team’s payroll trade that player to fill existing voids at the major league level but not starting pitching. Established starters have more value and there fore you get fewer pieces in return. Have a starter you’ve groomed in your organization and know the capabilities ready if  the player to be traded to a starter. For example last off season the Rays traded  James Shields to Kansas City along with Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson. They had Matt Moore ready to step in and depth in the minors. When injury forced them to sign an arm it was a low cost arm – Roberto Hernandez formerly Fausto Carmona – that slid nicely into their fifth starter spot without upsetting the flow of young arms with a long expensive contract.

In return the Rays got the outfield bat they needed – Wil Myers (BA #4 prospect) – pitching prospects Mike Montgomery (BA #23 Prospect in 2012), Jake Odorizzi (BA # 92 prospect 2013), and third baseman Patrick Leonard. It’s impossible to know the exact pairing of who for whom but Myers, Odorizzi and Leonard for Shields and Montgomery for Davis is a pretty fair bet. EJ had been designated for assignment by the Rays and as such I doubt he was a factor in either but it you want to put him somewhere put him with Montgomery for Davis. So three rated prospects – one near major league  ready – for Shields.  They signed James Loney on a small contract for first base and that settled their roster.  This year they have Alex Cobb ready to step into Price’s spot so they will likely move him but for what?

Matching Up

Everywhere I look I see people saying the Braves would have to give up Julio Teheran, Alex Wood or Mike Minor to get Price but that doesn’t seem to fit their needs. The Rays have two holes in their roster that seem pretty obvious; catching and left field. If they don’t sign Loney again they would need a first baseman as well but there seems to be a good chance they will so I’ll leave that one mostly out of this.

The Braves can offer a major league ready (in some folks opinion) catcher to replace 38 year old Jose Molina. No not Christian Bethancourt, Evan Gattis.  Gattis is a perfect match and available, not because the Braves don’t like him but because with Bethancourt ready to step up they have no place for him every day. Bethancourt is a better defender that El Oso Blanco and his hitting is finally showing up too. He’s the better long term option.

The Braves have a left fielder or two they could offer up but most likely Joey Terdoslavich is the guy to go. Joey is a man without a position in Atlanta and can play left or first if they don’t sign Loney. In Atlanta Joey is relegated to the bench and he’s far too valuable for that. To fill out the trade the Braves would have to offer up a pretty good pitching prospect like Cody Martin and/or Aaron Northcraft. Martin is unrated but has come along pretty well and had a good year at Gwinnett while Northcraft did pretty well at Pearl.  Other options for inclusion might be Cory Gearring and Juan Jaime to shore up the Rays bullpen, Stefan Gartrell who seems to be stuck our system or first baseman Ernesto Mejia. If a major league ready arm is required David Hale is the guy.

Is Price Worth The Price?

David Price is a stud. Over the last three years playing in the toughest division in the AL and on a team that was always under powered he’s 42-26 with a 3.13 ERA, an ERA+ of 122 and a 1.13 WHIP in 622 inning pitched. Only 10 starting pitchers have numbers close to his and only three won more games; Verlander, Kershaw and Shields. Here are those pitchers and all are studs sorted on ERA+.

Player Age IP ERA+ ERA WHIP
Matt Cain 28 625 1/3 109 3.18 1.089
Madison Bumgarner 23 614 1/3 111 3.12 1.120
Felix Hernandez 27 670 117 3.20 1.166
David Price 27 622 122 3.13 1.113
Hiroki Kuroda 38 623 123 3.24 1.180
Cole Hamels 29 651 1/3 124 3.15 1.090
James Shields 31 705 2/3 124 3.15 1.146
Cliff Lee 34 666 1/3 139 2.80 1.049
Justin Verlander 30 707 2/3 149 2.81 1.088
Clayton Kershaw 25 697 166 2.21 0.971
           
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/16/2013.          
Seasons/Careers found: 10.        

If you’re fan of more advanced stats I have those too. Here from Fangraphs is how Price ranked amongst all starters who threw over 600 innings from 2011 through 2013:

    Rank
ERA 3.13 5th
FIP 3.14 6th
K/9 8.31 9th
BB/9 2.16 6th
HR/9 0.78 7th
WPA 4.23 6th
WPA/LI 6.69 4th
REW 6.04 6th
RE24 57.92 6th
fWAR 16.5 6th
rWAR* 12.5 7th

rWar from baseball-reference.com

One of the other posts on Price I read said that he was losing velocity and not throwing his fastball as much. The raw numbers do show he reduced his fastball percentage, Baseball Info Solutions via Fangraphs  shows he threw 54% fastballs down from 60% in 2102 and 70% in 2011. Sliding to the right a bit however you’ll  see that in 2012 he began using a cut fastball and dropped his slider completely. That year he used the cutter 15.7% and this season it was 17.8%. As Jeff Sullivan says in his post about his performance against the Rangers “…it depends what you make of cutters. Some might consider them fastballs, while others might consider them offspeed pitches.”

Further along in the post he hit what I thought was an important point. . . so I’ll steal it Smile.

“ He didn’t dominate with a particular pitch. He didn’t have the Rangers swinging blind, as evidenced by the modest four swinging strikes. Price succeeded in the way that he does now: he threw hard, he got in the zone, and he seldom left it. . .You can think of Price more as turning into Cliff Lee.”

I think that’s also a sign of maturity. Only a few rare pitchers throw 95 until they retire and Price is learning what the durable Lee has showcased for a long time. The ability to strike out hitters is essential and a good fastball is necessary to do that. But but pitches are only as good as the location, lots of high velocity pitches have found their way into the stands because they ended up somewhere in a hitters happy zone. Besides a starters job is to go deep into a game – not six and out but deep – and it’s a rare man who is throwing 95+ in the ninth like Justin Verlander. Strike outs are great but easy outs are better. Price can still run his fastball up there in a hurry when needed but now he’s simply learned to pitch. Price would be under control for two years so he’s not a rental and he has the experience in pennant races and post season play that Tim Hudson would bring. Ad those all together and my friends means he’s worth it, he is most definitely worth it.

That’s A Wrap

Every now and then I get something right – not often I know so even more reason to smile. Right after the Braves exit I commented on a post suggesting that the Braves should take a shot at Price. Then on the 8th Jim Bowden’s ESPN Blog suggested:

:… that Price would be the perfect fit …The Braves could offer an enticing package of pitching prospects — such as J.R. Graham and Lucas Sims — and maybe one of their two young catchers, such as Bethancourt. “

Right idea wrong catcher Jim, nice try though. Then Mark Bowman followed suit and now Price is the hot rumor. Nice to be a trend setter at last Smile….

In any event even the oft oddly thinking Bowden can see that one major hole for the Braves is their lack of an Ace arm. The Rays will trade him and I think the Price is right. (You knew I’d say that eventually didn’t you?) I believe as well that the GM knows he has to do something to improve the team and there are few places to do that offensively and the Price deal can be done. The question is, can he do it?

Tags: Atlanta Braves David Price FanSided

  • Lee Trocinski

    Aces are overrated in my view. Through the first 6 games of the NLCS and ALCS, we’ve seen games started, and thrown well, by Kershaw, Greinke, Wainwright, Scherzer, and Verlander all lost to inferior pitchers. 4 of those 5 are in your “ace” category, and despite them performing up to expectations, they were not on the winning side. Remember back to the 90′s to remember how little aces guarantee playoff success, as the Braves had 3 of them all those years. Also remember this year when Freddy Garcia had the 2nd-best postseason start for the Braves.

    Second, your trade pieces for Price are way short of what would be taken. I’d project Gattis as a Ryan Doumit, marginal catcher who barely hits enough to play corner outfield. Christian Bethancourt would be their target, due to their standard of keeping defensive-minded players. Odorizzi should be the one who slides into the rotation if Price is traded, so Teheran probably isn’t needed. With J.R. Graham’s injury, Lucas Sims would probably have to be the main prospect heading to Tampa, as he’s about as good as the Braves have in the system. I could see someone like Jose Peraza as the other piece, a great up-the-middle athlete who is very young. Joey T isn’t a bad third piece, but he’s already 25 and he hasn’t shown the ability to hit major-league pitching.

    As good as Price is, I can’t see the Rays taking less than my package, and I wouldn’t want to give up those three for two expensive years of Price. Building a team to “succeed in the playoffs” is an illusion, as the postseason is just over-glorified small sample size. Price allowed 7 runs in 7 IP this October, so it shows aces don’t always show up, which you already knew.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Overrated?

      Greinke in the playoffs so far:
      7 innings, 2 ER, W
      8 innings, 2 ER, ND
      6 innings, 2 ER, Loss

      Verlander: 8 IP, 0ER, W
      8IP, 1 ER, Loss (beaten 1-0)
      7 IP, 0 ER, ND

      Kershaw: 6 IP, 0ER, ND
      6 IP, 0ER, Loss (beaten 1-0)

      7 IP, 1ER, W

      Wainwright: Complete Game, 1 ER, W
      7 IP, 2 ER, Loss (3-0)
      7 IP, 1 ER, W

      Scherzer: 7 IP, 1 ER, ND
      7 IP, 2 ER, W

      Yes – the aces are important: NONE of these guys has yet given up more than 2 earned runs, and they are averaging 7+ innings per start. Obviously you can still lose if your team doesn’t score, but that’s not the job of the pitcher… at least not in the AL.

      Collectively, these guys are 6-4 with 4 No Decisions. If that sounds weak, recall it’s against the best teams and their best pitching… and 3 losses came via opposing shutouts. Also: if you’re above .500 in the playoffs, that mean you will win a series and move on.

      • Lee Trocinski

        The point I’m trying to get across is these aces lost to pitchers that are the same level as the Braves’ current starters. This means that the current pitchers CAN win playoff games, even if they haven’t. I said that the aces, aside from Price, have thrown very well in the playoffs. The problem is that if you have to give up half the rest of your team to get the ace, you won’t score or hold a lead anyways.

        • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

          Well, yeah – you don’t rob from the core to do any trade – you offer from your surplus. And we know that Tampa prefers minor league guys anyway. I look at this as an augment that should improve the whole staff.

          I recently read another take on just who else might be going after Price… the Braves were not listed. But the teams that were listed all had a darn good reason (imho) for _not_ pursuing him. Texas for instance – they’ve been highly possessive of their best prospects, which makes their offer only as competitive as Atl’s…unless they offer Profar. St. Louis was mentioned – deep farm, but they can re-sign Carpenter. Philly might, but they have no farm left and signed Miguel Gonzalez. The Yankees have other priorities. The Dodgers are already loaded. It’s too early for the Cubs.

          Washington has the most legitimate play that I can think of. That actually scares me more, now that I think about it.

          • Jordan MacGeever

            Washington don’t have the prospects to offer the Rays that’s pretty much a certainty

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            Yeah – just reviewed that – their grades aren’t nearly as good as I’d thought. Apparently Minnesota now owns the good guys :D.

          • Jordan MacGeever

            I’d say only Braves Cubs Rangers Dodgers D Backs are the only 5 teams who realistically can afford and have the pieces for a Price trade

          • fireboss

            Today’s news that Ryan is out changes the Texas philosophy. Ryan was the one that demanded a pitching first program and was openly upset when they started doing odd things like signing Manny Ramirez then trading pieces for Garza when he wasn’t ever going to be their answer. I thought they might go hard after Tanaka to protect those arms and a healthy Darvish could guide him through his transition. Ryan’s puts a lot into question that we won’t have answers to soon.

        • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

          Replying more directly to your point: it’s a matchup thing, really. Our guys have to bring their best stuff; the Aces do it routinely. It’s not that you can’t beat one on a given day, but you won’t on any kind of consistent basis.

        • fireboss

          No Lee they didn’t. Joe Kelly ran it up there at 96 with movement and has a good slider as the Cards won, we have no one like that. The Cards didn’t beat Greinke in game one BTW they beat a relief pitcher. Michael Wacha again brought 96mph heat and a hard biting slider against he team that had never seen him and had three no hitters into the 7th inning down the stretch. We have no one like him. The run run the Dodgers game up was unearned, Kershaw had an ERA of 0.00. Sonny Grey again 96MPh with a hard slider, curve and change ; we haven’t seen that consistently in Atlanta. Verlander had one bad pitch in his loss to Boston but 8 times out of 10 Verlander wins that match up. No one would send Lackey against Verlander if they had Price ready. Lackey had a great game but he isn’t likely to repeat that back to back. Verlander has and is
          Because a middle tier pitcher might beat the best doesn’t mean a team should plan on winning a world series without a difference maker on the mound. I can’t remember a WS team that didn’t have at least one guy in that category.

          We wouldn’t be giving up half of the rest of the team but you have top give something to get something. Trading for Price would be as Carp said a commitment to extend Price.

          • Lee Trocinski

            None of the aces really got beat, as they all pitched well. In the long run, you are always better off with the better pitcher, but the postseason isn’t the long run.

            Apparently stuff is all you’re looking for, so that shouldn’t be hard to find. Hanson was one of them, but you’re right in saying the Braves lack velocity with their starters. Teheran was supposed to be that guy, but he’s still a step back from projections 2 years ago.

            Kelly has good stuff, but he doesn’t strike out many, and pitchers don’t consistently outperform their FIP by over a run. Wacha is probably the next great starter in STL, and Gray is on a similar track in OAK, so I probably under-estimated those two.

            I guess Cain was an ace last year, but now he regressed a lot, and his contract doesn’t look so good. Lincecum was the ace before that, and look where he’s gone. Halladay has seen his career shorten due to injury. Brandon Webb was as good as anyone 05-08, and he never pitched again. Pitchers are way too up-and-down to be considered shutdown aces for any extended period of time.

          • Lee Trocinski

            SPOILER: Lots of math, but not too complicated.

            I suddenly thought about your 80% win projection, and decided Pythagorean Record [Runs scored squared divided by (runs scored squared plus runs allowed squared)] would be great for that. Let’s say the current Braves starting pitcher plus relief core allows about 4 runs a game. Now we face an ace plus relief who only allows 3 runs a game.

            4^2 / (4^2 + 3^2) = 16/25 = 64%

            By shaving a run off the expected run environment, you’d still only expect the ace’s team to win 2 out of 3. Over a full season, that is .14*33 = 4.62 wins above average, so about 6.5 WAR, a top 5 total.

            In a four-game playoff stretch, you add 3.5% (14%/4 games) if you have an ace and all of the other pitchers for both sides are around average. This is a rough way to show the less-than-expected impact of an “ace.”

          • fireboss

            Well ya know the 80% was a wag not a scientific projection. I don’t expect to convince you about this. I understand the numbers. In a 5 game series that ace hits the mound at least twice. If he wins those two games you only have to win one of the others. In a 7 game series you see him three times. If they have two like the Dodgers, or the Diamondbacks back in 2001. winning becomes extremely difficult. I blame Torre for losing that game. Playing the infield in has to be the worst idea ever. Jeter at his normal position catches that ball. I digress. Teams with a staff of 2s and 3s do win it all once in a while – 2002 Angels for example – but over time Aces win in the post season. Statistically significant or not, It just happens.

            BTW are there numbers on playing the infield in? I haven’t found any.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      To be fair: David Price got shelled in his one and only start (7 earned). Then again, the Red Sox were hitting multiple Rays’ pitchers, too.

      _Normally_, however, Price shuts them down: .167 average (7 RBI) against vs. the whole Red Sox lineup (114 AB) in 2013; .264 (9 RBI) in 2012.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Last reply: what pieces would be required to land Price?

      The Rays would actually love to have Gattis – they don’t have a thumper in the the middle of their lineup. And he’d be an ideal DH while also spot starting in LF or 1B. He’s also cheap for several years. However, I think Fredi loves him – maybe too much – and we probably need him next year. If Uggla could actually hit, then he’s more expendable… hence…

      The Myers/Shields trade suggests to me that it would take two very top prospects or major leaguers, plus a couple of others, perhaps one very good prospect.

      So: I really think Fred is very close: Hale (preferred) or Wood, Joey T. (fits their athletic model better than Gattis), possibly Ernesto Mejia (hopelessly blocked), Northcraft. Jaime would be a good choice for whenever their blood pressure can’t take Fernando Rodney anymore. I would also include Graham as an option (he is now healthy, btw).

      Bethancourt will not be traded; Sims likely will not. I also agree w/Fred in that we don’t really have a good place for Joey T… so let’s leverage him for something else.

      • RFIM

        The pipedream of getting David Price without giving up your top 2 prospects (or at least one of them) is just not realistic. Sorry to burst bubbles, but the James Shields trade netting the 4th best prospect in all of baseball, and another top 100 prospect, according to Baseball America. The Rays will get that and more for a Cy Young winning LHP in his prime.

        • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

          So what did I offer above? Hale, JoeyT, Mejia (I mistakenly said ‘possibly’ – should have been ‘probably’), Northcraft, Graham… possibly Jaime also. There’s our #2, #7, #16, #18, and #25 (by our site’s reckoning). Mejia didn’t make the list due to age, but he was noted as an organizational best for 2013. 3 could start in the majors come April. None are below AA.

          We don’t have a Wil Myers… obviously… but Wood was realclose to being our #1 (no longer on those charts), and he’s in my ‘options’ list. I also indicated that I’d personally be willing to move Sims – but Fred and I are in agreement that his distance from the majors might be counter to the Rays’ style.

        • fireboss

          It isn’t a pipe dream it’s a negotiation. No one suggests that there aren’t teams with higher ranked prospects – the Rangers for example. The question is whether those prospects will be offered and if so will they keep the Rays at relatively the same competitive level. That’s something the Rays will evaluate through their matrix. The Rays view all trades as a business decision not just who has the highest ranked prospects. If the prospect doesn’t fill a need they will chose one that does.
          Sims can go if needed, Bethancourt won’t. If Sims goes they get fewer players back. It depends on how both sides view and value Sims and whether three years away for one versus a year or less for two is acceptable. Myers was a need as was ODorizzi. If Sims is Odorizzi in this package Gattis and Joey T are Myers – in terms of need not ranks. Adding Jamie or Gearrin makes the package better for the Rays at the major league level now and doesn’t increase their payroll.
          None of us know exactly what the teams think about their players or what other factors affect their decision. I know a few think they do but usually their as far off as the rest. I understand that you disagree with the idea but I feel the proposition is still valid, We’ll see what actually happens in the next 3 months or so.

    • fireboss

      I guess we’re transitioning this to the comments so I’ll repeat myself a little. All teams have a number one pitcher, even the Astros. Being a number one pitcher on a team doesn’t make you a top tier starter. Traditionally pitchers in that top tier are called Aces. I know the term ACE bothers you so let’s call them something else, how about difference maker?

      I know that Kershaw lost to Wacha but Wacha took no hitter’s into the 7th inning in both his post season starts so I’d suggest that he too is a difference maker. When two pitchers like that face off someone is going to lose. Kershaw is statistically head and shoulders above every pitcher in the game right now. As Gammons says he’s an outlier a Mike Trout kind of generational pitcher but he nor any other pitcher can win a game. Pitchers can however lose games. A difference maker doesn’t normally put his team in a comeback position early. A difference make goes deep into a game and still makes good hitters look bad because of stuff. Good stuff does not make a pitcher a difference maker. AJ Burnett has good stuff but he’s not a difference maker, he simply isn’t consistent under pressure. Sure every one can have a bad game but a difference maker is less likely to have them and when the chips are down that’s important.

      You said in the 90s the Braves had 3 Aces and most consider that true. Post season losses were not generally because the big three didn’t do their job but because the bullpen let them down or they were simply out pitched – see also Jack Morris :)..

      That Freddy Garcia had the second best start makes my point really. Garcia in his primes was post season money. At his news conference he was asked about pressure and his answer was something like “I don’t think about that I just make pitch”. People made fun of that until that’s what he did (with the exception of Crawford’s homers) for six innings. If Gracia was still the power arm to go with his pitching experience Crawford doesn’t do that. Power arms overcome mistakes, soft generally tossers don’t.

      Price is a difference maker. No one in our system as of now is. Minor has his moments but he still has too many lapses. Beachy hasn’t been good enough long enough and Wood’s stuff isn’t there yet and may never be. Transitioning him to the NL would lower his ERA by half a run at least and likely allow him to go deeper into games. I think he’s worth making a winning offer.

      We disagree on the way the Rays view trades.They aren’t Price away but I think the total package, long term control and filling their voids which include power bat and catching are up the list for them. I agree Gattis isn’t ideal behind the dish. He will however hit 25 and drive in 80 or more playing every day. That would be a significant increase over anything they have and likely offset his defensive shortcomings. He is trainable so those might well diminish over time too. Joey hasn’t played enough to know whether he can hit major league pitching. But he fits their needs of versatility and as a switch hitter has value. Honestly I believe the trade can be done and I don’t mind Sims going to do it.
      I’m not building a team specially for the playoffs per se.Price makes us better over the season as well. I know we need a hitter to replace our swinger and hope second baseman.Eric Young Jr fits or even Daniel Murphy but I think they’ll try Pena there first. BJ is sunken cost and I keep praying that some miracle will occur that will him back to at least something like 2010 numbers. Philosophically the team needs to be better team hitters but practically I doubt that happens.
      In short I know there are other needs. this one however has been around since Smoltz left really and is long overdue fixing.

  • jim love

    I would say no to trading Lucas Sims nor C. Bethancourt. I wish we could find a way to keep Joey T. as he seems to be the kind of tough and gritty player every successful team needs.

    • fireboss

      The question for Joey T is, where do you see him best used? Freeman is set at first and the outfield corners are set for at least two years. He couldn’t transition to third base when that was attempted a year ago so barring something catastrophic he has no job in Atlanta except to help provide what the team needs via trade. Sims is showing promise is A ball and may be a good to very good pitcher in three years or so, but that was what we said about Tommy Hanson. Until a prospect is more than a prospect nothing is certain. I wouldn’t offer Sims and I am not sure the Rays want someone that far away in any case. I know my friend Lee thinks they will ask for him but I believe their philosophy would see the value in multiple players closer to ready and with near the same potential. They could add a controllable bullpen arm as well and for a team on limited payroll very good quality multiple options is a safer bet than a single long term option. Incremental improvement.
      I don’t think the Braves trade Bethancourt, the catcher they trade if any is Gattis.

      • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

        Yeah, recall my line from yesterday: “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect.” That said – I agree: hold Sims unless you _have_ to include him.

      • jim love

        I don’t know fireboss, you may be right about Sims being to far away to project. I guess I still remember the Braves trading Doyle Alexander for a minor league pitcher named Smoltz. I believe Smoltz was only 20 at the time. You are rigjt about Joey T. I just like the guy and was just wishing we could find a way to keep him.

        • fireboss

          I don;t want to trade him but if adding him reduces other good pieces I’m okay with it. The minor league is full of prospects and sometimes what we think is great turns into flop sweat while late round nonrated guys come up big. Kris Medlen was a nonrated 10th round pick in 2006. Tommy Hanson was also a late round (22nd I think) pick who was rated #4 in 2009 and will likely be nontendered by the Angels this year. Sean Gilmartin was going to be another Mike Minor. he’s closer to Paul Maholm and just as expendable. The aim of the game -unless you’re in total rebuild mode like the Astros and Cubs- is to win now and have enough options in the bank to as Fredi would say keep the line moving. We have good if not great compared to some pitching options but none are David Price. Sims might be is everything goes right in the next two+ years but today he isn’t; no one is and we do need one.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            You could definitely argue that getting Price would be an “All In” move – designed to capitalize on the offense that was assembled last year… because clearly, it will take a bunch of prospects to land him.

            I think I could also argue that such an investment could be an incentive for guys like Heyward, Freeman, et al to sign on for a longer stint in Atlanta.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Gritty Reference: paging Kevin Towers… :D

      • fireboss

        How’s that Scherzer trade working out Kevin?

  • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

    Hate to diverge from my bros on staff, but I have to agree with those skeptical about the Braves making this sort of move. It’s entirely doable mind you, but then the, well, price on Price goes up considerably, and quickly. Braves won’t make a short commitment and thus won’t go all out for a CY candidate with that much value. Man, I’d love to see it, but I’ll believe it only when I do.

    • fireboss

      Is it possible that FW feels the need to do something to offset the horrible overpay for BJ and that might drive him to make a deal? Money wise in two years Uggla’s money is gone and we won;t be paying 13 M for Mac. So it’s theoretically there. I know we have to pay the arbs but don;t forget the new national TV contracts start next year(?) and that will bring in more revenue too. I don;t think $$ is the issue here. It’s whether FW is willing to build a package to make the deal.

      • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

        Well I’ll join you in the hope for price. I think we all get a little jaded at times, and you’re right, the new tv deal will help. Crossing fingers

      • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

        Let’s throw a thumb in the air and suggest that Shields is a $15m pitcher for 2014 (3rd arb year out of 4). That’s almost a wash vs. McCann’s deal.

        There’s a bunch of Arb cases in 2014 (7, I think) with substantial raises in the works for Heyward, Kimbrel, Freeman, and maybe Medlen. Justin gets $4.5m more. All that is covered via Huddy’s deal if he is not re-signed (bad idea). Even if he is, I haven’t even touched the new TV money, or perhaps an Uggla salary dump.

        Yeah – it’s doable.

        • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

          Bro, doability is not the argument. Willingness is. That’s my caveat thinking.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            True… hence the wording of my alternate headline yesterday: “Many Arms; Not Enough Balls”

          • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

            haha :) Well played sir! I have some more questions. Don’t you guys think that eventually Price could be demanding CC Sabathia type numbers perhaps? Will the Braves be on board for that? I know it’s a future ??, but just sayin’. Also, my gut tells me the Nats are really going to go after Price. Thoughts. Alan, are you callable during the day? Shoot me an email if so.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            I would think that a fair five-year deal (starting in 2014) would be along these lines: $15m/$20m/$23m/$25m/$25m.

            So 5 years, $108m. By the time that deal would end, he would have just turned 33. And if I’m gonna give up that much, I wouldn’t make the deal without an extension in place.

          • fireboss

            I’m higher 15, 19, 23, 27, 30 at $115 that’s an AAV of 23 as opposed to 21.6 I’d want an option at 30 for the next year with a 3M buy out making the whole package 118. I liked the Lackey option of a year extension at the same pay if he has to have TJ surgery too but I don’t know if that will fly anymore.

            I doubt the Rays give you a negotiation window. If he balks at a deal after the trade you can still flip him and get prospects back.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            I was about to agree, but to have decent value on a flip requires a trade after having him for only 1 season… wait too long and everybody balks at your price (no pun intended) and waits until he hits the open market… then all you get is a single add-on draft pick.

          • fireboss

            If he stays past mid year then he stays both years and we get the draft pick. But the Rays are not going to give you a window.

  • Jordan MacGeever

    Rays wouldn’t trade Price to the Braves without Betancourt that is the obvious piece.
    Betancourt, Sims and JR Graham could make sense. As a Rays fan I think there could be better deals out there but you never know Braves seem like one of the obvious teams to pursue a Price deal.

  • Jordan MacGeever

    Betancourt and Sims would be the main package. No options.

    • fireboss

      There are always options

      • Jordan MacGeever

        not when your trying to trade for a CY Young winner in his prime. Sims, Betancourt and a OF prospect would be a fair deal for both teams.

  • Jordan MacGeever

    Rays NEED a young catcher and Betancourt fits perfectly with the Rays mold so he is a perfect match, and would be the main reason why the Rays and Braves could be a match.

  • Matthew Jones

    Agreed. Btw, Boss, your topic line is just awful. :) Also, I think that the Rays would ask for someone like David Hale in addition to Gattis and Terdo. They may also ask for one other pitcher as mentioned above. That said, if they do four players, we’d better get someone other than Price.

    • Jordan MacGeever

      Gattis isn’t valuable enough to be a main piece in a Price trade Betancourt would have to be the guy.

      • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

        Bethancourt is too valuable to the Braves as a catcher. He won’t go anywhere, but the acquisition is still doable. If it falls through, won’t be because CB wasn’t a part of the deal. If Price shat gold, they wouldn’t trade CB with only Laird and Gattis left to catch long term.

        • Jordan MacGeever

          David Price is an ACE top 10 pitcher in baseball who will command a similar package to say Mark Texiera got back in the day. Even though he was a position player. Bathancourt and Sims would have to be main guys

          • Matthew Jones

            But here’s the thing. If it had been any other team than the Braves we’re talking about, they’d give up a package like they did for Texiera. But it is the Braves, so you have to look at other prospects instead. Plus, with Mac seemingly leaving the team, the Braves aren’t going to trade their next possible All-Star catcher (being that he still projects that way).

            I know you have to give up a lot to get a lot back, but on the flip side, you can’t cripple your team to do so. That’s what the Tex trade did to us for about three years.

          • Jordan MacGeever

            You have Gattis I don’t think Bethancourt is crippling lol.

          • Matthew Jones

            Yes, and we had Yunel Escobar when we traded away Elvis Andrus. So, tell me, do you take someone who will be a gold golver, potential all start, and has the potential to be your starting catcher for the next 8-10 years, or do you go with the guy who so far has shown that he’s a bench player?

          • Jordan MacGeever

            or do you do everything to get one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball? Braves will never win anything without a true ace

          • Matthew Jones

            I don’t disagree that the Braves will have a hard time winning in the postseason (I won’t agree that they won’t win ‘anything’ – we proved that we can win the east without an ‘ace’), but that’s one pitcher of 11. Granted, one pitcher can help get you ahead in a short series, but someone who’s an offensive force (which, is to be seen with Bethancourt) can mark the outcome of the entire series.

            Plus, you just contradicted yourself a bit. If the Rays have been to the World Series twice and to the playoffs four times with a ‘poor’ catcher (which I would say that you have to consider how he handles the pitching staff and how they throw out runners), then why would the Rays want Bethancourt to begin with? I mean, if they can make it with poor catchers, then why trade your best pitcher for a position of little need?

          • Jordan MacGeever

            Bethancourt would be part of the package. Rays would want a starting Catcher a future high to mid SP and a future starting LF. For a guy like Price. For Garza they got Archer, Hak Ju Lee (our future starting SS top 75 prospect who just tore his ACL in May) Guyer and Fuld solid package). Shields they got a future All Star RF a No 4 starter and a bullpen piece. So I think 3 starters is what the Rays would be expecting for Price. C/LF/1B being main needs as of today.

          • Lee Trocinski

            Bethancourt has a whopping .299 OBP in his minor league career. There are still major questions if he can hit better than replacement level at the majors. Even Yadi had a .335 OBP in the minors before struggling mightily in the bigs, and I doubt CB can flick the switch and become a hitter like Yadi. He’s still a much better prospect than Gattis, but he’ll probably “only” be a consistent 2 WAR player.

          • Jordan MacGeever

            prospects are prospects and you never know how good they will be. Bethancourt potential is probably as a top 10 Catcher? Sims could be a No 2/3 starter in 3 years time? Similar to what Archer’s potential was if you add in another starter it’s a fair price.

          • Jordan MacGeever

            Rays have been to the playoffs 4 times and to a world series and we had some of the worst starting catchers in baseball. NOT a premium position and is worth WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY less than a David Price.

        • Jordan MacGeever

          I also believe the Braves would be willing to give up both to get Price.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            Then we’re probably have to just wait and see… I would disagree about Bethancourt. I think Atlanta might offer Sims; not certain the Rays would accept since too away from majors.

            I don’t disagree with your _premise_ – that Tampa would want CB. But now that he’s hitting, Atl would not put him in the mix. At least that’s my take.

  • Lee Trocinski

    Joey T will be 25 next year, Hale 26, and Gattis 27. Guys who don’t have much major league success by these ages rarely become consistently good performers. Joey T is a non-premium defender with just an above-average bat, valuable but not a main trade piece. Hale was an average pitcher in the minors, and good luck finding quality pitchers the last 20 years who were rookies age 25 and older.

    Gattis is the main sticking point here. Yes, he has prodigious power that no one in the Rays system has. Also remember that he had a .291 OBP and I don’t see him improving that much the next couple years. Defensively, he is a liability everywhere, which means you have to be a great bat to have value. Again, he’s a nice complimentary piece, but not a main piece for a Cy Young winner.

    Stars are known in their early 20′s, of which none of these guys apply. You don’t give up glue pieces for an ace.

    • Jordan MacGeever

      FACT

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Well, there’s the rub: Atlanta has solid guys, but not star-quality guys. They do have a reputation for cranking out major league useful pitching, and that’s what I’d likely lean on for a trade. So in a nutshell, your reasoning is why I’d try and overwhelm with some quantity…. at least quantity that’s at the cusp of the majors so that the risk is substantially reduced.

    • fireboss

      I didn’t know our future was that bleak, a bunch of glue players except ofr a catcher who may not hit at the major league level. Very depressing…

      Stars are known in their 20s… I’ll tell Jose Batista and Nelson Cruz that and I’ll send the memo to those proclaimed stars that flashed and vanished.

      When Gattis caught every day his OBP was higher – .310 in April and .362 in May. Then Mac came back and they sat him down spot started him and like most hitters lost his stroke. When they played him out of position in the outfield.he struggled to learn it and took those struggles to the plate with him. His post season line .357/.438/.357/.795 shows that he
      can hit the best pitching and if he plays every day he will hit and will
      get on base though likely at about a 260/310 rate.

      I’m not denying that you have to give something to get something. I know how this works. I also think you can give enough good players to make up for not having Jurikson Profar to trade. if that’s not the case FW should go to the Bahamas because he’ll do nothing substantial this winter via trade unless he gets someone drunk and force Uggla on them

      • Lee Trocinski

        Yes Bautista had 2 great years, but now he’s 33 next year and hasn’t been nearly as good the last 2 years. Cruz had one very good year, but otherwise he’s been about league average overall. There are others; Williingham, Bay, Craig, but the first two show similarly quick rises and falls.

        I see Gattis close to what you have him at, but even with his power, that equates to 15-20% above average. If he can’t catch at an adequate level, he’s league average overall or worse. I can also see him swinging his way into oblivion. Gattis’ five postseason singles tell me nothing. I still see Ryan Doumit in Gattis, which isn’t horrible, but nowhere near what most of you think.

        • fireboss

          I think he’ hit 20 and drive in 80 that would make him a top 10 catcher in those categories

          • Lee Trocinski

            You know I don’t care about RBI… Those are just a product of power and runners on base. His OPS+/wRC+ will be top 10, if he stays behind the plate. If he can’t stay behind the plate, now he competes with 1B or corner OF, which drops him way down the list. This is why positional adjustments are in WAR. He also was/is bad in the OF, which further hurts his value.

          • fireboss

            I do but I believe that the reason players are in a position to get RBI is that they consistently deliver in that position. Not a discussion for here.

            I never want to see Gattis in the outfield, that’s just dumb. I understand the need for the bat but the trade off wasn’t good IMO. First base is a last resort. He’s a catcher that I figure he has 6 years or so behind the plate performing at a high run producing level for that position. Depending on his condition he may get 10 years. His late start means he hasn’t learned the game as well and needs a Laird beside him to help him learn. I do think he is capable of being better than he is. He’s never going to be Molina but for a few years he can be Piazza/McCann type guy with a better arm than Piazza.

  • Jordan MacGeever

    Bethancourt, Sims, Joey T, La Stella for Price is probably the deal with a long term deal in place for Price.

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  • rick staley

    Price for J.R. Graham, Ernesto Mejia , Christian Bethancourt, and Aaron Northcraft.

    Then, trade Uggs and Corey Gearrin or a necessary piece to Cincy for B.Phillips before the Redlegs find another willing buyer.