Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Making sure the deal today doesn't bite you tomorrow

The balancing act when trading for now but not getting burned in the future

There is always a risk when making a trade in any sport, especially baseball. It is usually less risky when making a player for player deal as, for the most part, with established players you have a pretty good idea what you are giving and what you are getting. Also there is less of a financial penalty because there is no salary cap. A deal may hurt your budget but not necessarily cripple the team. Of course injuries that may crop up are out of anyone's control. The Ian Kinsler/ Prince Fielder trade between the Texas Ranger and the Detroit Tigers is evidence of that. Tigers look to come out way ahead of that one so far with Fielder possibly out for the season with neck surgery.
Where deals are a little more cloudy is when you start throwing prospects into the mix. This happens a lot near the trade deadline for teams that look to get an established arm or bat to help in a push for the post season or for a World Series run. Eliminated teams will often deal top end players that will not help them in the short term and get top end prospects to help them get better in the long term. It is a tough balancing act on how much teams are willing to give up in terms of the future for players that can be dropped into the line-up right away.

Every team has stories about winning and losing deals with this practice. As a Braves fan I know all to well that one can hit a huge home run when the prospect that you trade for becomes a soon to be Hall of Fame member. It started with the Braves trading Duane Ward to Toronto for Doyal Alexander. Then Alexander was traded to the Tigers for Prospect John Smoltz. Not a bad deal, Alexander went 9-0 and helped the Tigers win the AL East, Smoltz went on the be part of one of the best rotations ever assembled in the last 50 years. There is also trades that looking back involving prospects that look less then favorable as a Braves fan. 1 Career year for JD Drew and Eli Mararo to the Braves for competent reliever Ray King, Jason Marquis (who was still decent at the time) and, this is where it hurts - prospect Adam Wainwright (he turned out pretty good). The other prospect trade that looks bad now was the deal that brought Mark Texteria and Ron Mahay to Hot-Lanta for  Beau Jones, Elvis Andrus (Starting SS-close to 30sb per yr), Neftali Feliz (40 saves in 2010), Matt Harrison (won 18 in 2012) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The best trade of late that was not made was the deal that would have sent Randall Delgado to the Cubs in a deadline deal that would have seen Ryan Dempster sent to the Braves. Thankfully Dempster vito'd the trade and the Braves retained the rights to Delgado. Delgado was then used as a key piece that brought Justin Upton to The ATL with 3B Chris Johnson for  Nick Ahmed (minors), Brandon Drury (minors), Randall Delgado, Martin Prado and Zeke Spruill. Had Delgado been traded to the Cubs for 1yr of Dempster the Braves may have had to include Julio Teheran as part of the Upton deal. Not something the Braves I imagine would have either wanted to or would have been willing to do.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Power Outage in the ATL

Braves struggling to find a consistent offensive stride.

Well as nice as it is to see a tick in the win column for the first time in over a week for the Atlanta Braves, it is still a major concern. The Braves managed to eak out a 2-1 win over the St Louis Cardinals in game 2 of a three game set. This win is coming on the heals of a 7 game losing streak and in so being sweapt by both the Marlins and the Giants and dropping game 1 vs the Cards. They managed only 13 runs in those 7 games and managed to only push one run across in each Giants game and was shut out in game 1 vs the Marlins.

After such a hot start by the Braves to begin the season they are in the midst of just a huge slide and had even lost top spot to Washington for a bit. Going into the season there was a huge concern that the Braves starting rotation was going to be a big issue. After Kris Medlan and Brandon Beachy went down to their second Tommy John surgery there was real worry that they would be in trouble. Then GM frank Wren did some fancy footwork and snuck into the Ervin Santana negotiations and stole him from the Blue Jays and Orioles and then made the surprising move in cutting Fredy Garcia and picking up Aaron Herang. So far both have shown to be solid moves thus far.

For whatever reason they have had a beginning to the season with near historic numbers put up by the starters, and that has kept things together.

It was thought that the offence would need to be the ones to keep things on the rails and carry the team. Of late that is far from the case and the only reason any of the games have been close of late is the pitching. Even last night in the win they only managed 2 runs scored. Granted they have run into some real good pitchers from the other teams they are still in just a huge drought. For starters they are averaging 9 strikeouts a game. To put that into perspective that is 3 full innings of NO CONTACT. Hard to score a run when you can't execute a bunt or make contact and get a sacrifice fly. They are hitting near .225 with runners in scoring position right now and even though currently in a slump it is only Freddie Freeman who has even respectable numbers in this category.

It was nice to see BJ Upton come out a few games ago with glasses on. If that was an issue maybe it will help him turn his dreadful time in Atlanta around. After last seasons Lasik procedure Dan Uggla is still struggling and needs to snap out of it soon or his starting job may fall on the shoulders to Ramero Pena.

There may be something a little more drastic that needs to be done and that would be more then just Freddie Gonzalez putting the pitcher into the 8 spot to try to get more runners in front of Freddie Freeman. Maybe they need to explore blowing it all up and rebuild the lineup.
The first thing I would like to see done is Jason Heyward moved from the lead off position. That worked last year, so far, this season, not so much. I would like to see something more like this and see how that works:

Simmons, Chris Johnson, Freeman, J Upton, Heyward ,Gattis, Bj Upton, Uggla/Pena, *Pitcher

Simmons does not strike out a lot and has decent speed, Chris Johnson can handle a bat and uses all fields, Freeman is your RBI Guy, J- Upton your power clean up hitter. Dropping Heyward down may take some pressure off and he can get more pitches to drive and get some of his power back. Gattis behind Heyward to protect him and then BJ Upton and Uggla/Pena to finish out the lineup. When Pena is in the game I have no problem with him batting 9th and putting the pitcher in the 8 hole. It just seems that something major needs to be done to get the players attention and maybe find a spark and change the fortunes of this team that is struggling so mightily.

It would be nice not to waste all the good pitching that they have been afforded thus far.There will be a point where they too will struggle and not a lot of games can be won where they can only muster a handful of runs and the pitching staff is giving up 3 or more. That should not be too much to ask for. There is just too much offensive talent on this team to not be able to score any runs.

Maybe if they can put up a crooked number early and not wait until the 7th inning or later to score some runs it will not only help out the team during the game but also the mind set. Get some runs early and it will take that some pressure off and that could make a world of difference. A couple of runs early may help the pitchers too not have to throw so many high pressure innings and put extra strain on their arms.