October 6, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) runs to second as Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23) throws in the third inning in game three of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 10/19

Morning Chop: Tomahawk Take’s Summary of Braves’



Talking Chop

2013 Statistical Review: Mississippi

Moving on to the next rung of the minor league ladder …

Position Players

Tommy La Stella, 2B - If all La Stella does is hit, at least he does the thing that has the most value. His .343/.422/.473 line in 80 games was certainly excellent, and it looks better knowing that he walked (11.5%) more than he struck out (10.5%). What La Stella doesn’t do is hit for much power or play very good defense. The power is okay because he has enough gap power, contact skills, and OBP to be valuable at second, but the defense is more troubling. The main issue is arm strength and hands, but… well… uh… *looks at Uggla*.

Christian Bethancourt, C - After a rough first half, Bethancourt decided to go off in the second half, culminating in a surprise September promotion to the majors. Of course that one September AB demonstrated all the offensive concerns people have with Bethancourt, but hey, it was only his first AB, right? Right? RIGHT? Anyway, .277/.305/.436 is much better than his 2012 campaign, and the scouting reports indicate that he made significant mechanical changes that allow him to get the bat to the ball faster. There’s no reason to go overboard and overvalue a good second half, but it’s good to remember that he’ll be 22 all next season and 22-year-olds tend to improve.




Wren recognizes need to add experience to rotation

ATLANTA — With their projected top two setup men – Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty – missing all or most of this past season, the Braves set a franchise record with a Major League-best 2.46 bullpen ERA. They also managed to claim 96 victories, despite the fact that Jason Heyward endured two separate one-month stints on the disabled list.

But once his club was eliminated by the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, Braves general manager Frank Wren concluded that the Braves were never able to fully recover from the season-ending injuries that two of his top starting pitchers – Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy – suffered during the regular season’s second half.

“The disappointment with the way the season ended really started with Tim Hudson’s injury,” Wren said. “Tim Hudson was starting to throw the ball really well. Our team was starting to play really well. He was just kind of an irreplaceable piece at that point, because there was not starting pitching available at the [non-waiver Trade Deadline] that could make a significant difference.”



Braves Journal

Rosterbation, Part 1

Okay, I think we’ve all had enough time to soak in the misery and read tea leaves about coaching staff decisions. Let’s get to the meat of the off-season, already.

The Atlanta Braves total payroll for 2013, without prorating guys like Scott Downs or Elliot Johnson for their time with other teams, was $96.7 million. I know it didn’t feel like a new $100 mil roster there at the end, but that was all BJ Upton and Dan Uggla’s fault when you really look at the numbers.

For 2014, the Braves have eight players who are going to be free agents outright.

Player 2013 Contract Cost
Brian McCann $12.00 mil
Tim Hudson $9.00 mil
Paul Maholm $6.5 mil
Scott Downs* $5.00 mil
Eric O’Flaherty $4.32 mil
Reed Johnson $1.60 mil
Kameron Loe* $1.05 mil
Luis Ayala $1.0 mil

Since we’re using the total contract cost of the players acquired mid-season for the $96.7 mil number, we’ll use the total contract cost of their 2013 deals for “free agent savings” too. That means that going into November, the Braves are trimming $40.47 million from their 2014 roster. You can probably toss the $1.67 mil they paid Jonny Venters into that pool as well and call it a solid $42 mil to spend.




[Editorial Note:  I have an ESPN insider subscription, and I read Dan Szymborski's article.  He makes some very valid and salient points, and while I agree it could be a gamble for a receiving team to go that high on a contract, I will also say that Brian McCann may be a worthwhile risk.  Atlanta may not be able to afford him with an increasing catcher roster and other more viable needs, but it would be a mistake to assume that the gas is gone from Brian McCann's tank!  I may just have to write a counterpoint to that!]

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  • Sealift67

    I’m not convinced of the need to go out and pick up an expensive
    veteran starter. Braves are stocked with good arms and all
    will have had another year under their belt. There may be a need
    to groom one of the young guns eg Hale, Wood, as a set up guy.
    I would look for a solid toolsy 4th outfielder given the uncertainty of
    BJ rebounding to his adequate career levels.

    Beachy’s health is pivotal and we won’t know this until well into ST.

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

      Well, an argument can certainly be made that the difference between the Braves, and say either LA or the Cards, was simply some instability and lack of experience with our pitching. Don’t get me wrong – the Braves “had” good pitchers, but I would argue that having a Grienke or Kershaw type pitcher “can”, although it’s never guaranteed (see final game of Cards/LA series) help you win in the post-season. Is that the Braves’ biggest need? Debatable, but I’m more comfortable erring in that direction. I hope the Braves do add a great starter, but there are certainly other gaping holes for 2014. We just have to hope Wren can plug them up without making another glaring mistake.