Friday, July 24, 2015

Trade Deadline Is Near - Braves looking to make moves

What is the right fit? What do the Braves have that teams want and do those teams have the depth to make it happen?

The Braves have some nice chips that they could move if an interested party were to offer up a package that fits what the Braves are trying to do. Based on being 7 games out at the break, one would think that John Hart and Co. would continue to look to the ultimate end game of being good in 2017 when they move into SunTrust Park. All the moves thus far have had an eye on that being the end game. Even more recent moves involving older players are now solid trade chips to bolster the farm, create a pipeline of talent and create depth so future trades for proven players is available when the time is appropriate. All the arms they are gathering is great but as we saw with the big 3 throughout the 90's and early 2000s great pitching can cover up a lot of offensive warts but at some point you need to have a consistent offense and an increase of power, one capable of putting up some runs to aid these good young arms and lessen the amount of stressful innings they have from night to night. It is hard for young arms to pitch in 2-1 games all the time. Being last in baseball with under 60 Home Runs this season thus far needs to be addressed. It would be nice if Hart can be creative enough to get some young power in the ATL.

When the season began there were a lot of “experts” that had written off the Braves this season and gave them no chance of finishing higher then last place in the East. Thankfully the Phillies look to be tough to wrestle that position away from. Going into the All Star Break the Braves are 7 games behind Washington for the East lead. Sure it is well within reach but fans should not be fooled. The team is not in a position to contend this year. They are a competitive team but not ready to be a playoff team yet.

After an off season that saw guys like Jason Heyward Justin and Melvin Upton Jr. Evan Gatis, and Craig Kimbrel shipped out for prospects and more controllable contracted players. The Braves were not expected to field anything near a competitive team. Thankfully for the players that were left and the fans that still wanted to see some decent baseball the Braves have played just under .500 ball.

Last year the team was an all or nothing squad. It was, for the most part and Home Run or bust team that were victims of the strike out more often then not. This year most of those guys are gone and replaced with contact hitters and play a more traditional National League style of ball. Contact and speed seem to be more the focus. This “small ball” mentality makes for much more enjoyable to watch. Sure it is nice to see the Home Runs hit, but when the power dries up it is a very painful game to watch. It is hard to watch the starters trow a good game and not get any support. As stated before. it difficult on pitchers both mentally and physically. Those bright young arms can throw much more freely when they get some help and take some of the pressure off.
To continue on with the plan the Braves need to look to move some guys that are not going to fit into the long term plan and are nice trade chips should the Braves manage to find a suitable dance partner with the right combination of players or prospects. Guys like Cameron Maybin, Juan Uribe and Jim Johnson and maybe Chris Johnson's contract. If the Braves can use these guys to further increase the depth at the minor league level or pick up a young controllable bat that could be very beneficial to the club going forward. What is also nice is a extra bit of money that will be freed up when the cash owed to Dan Uggla is off the books. Money+ Prospects = Flexability

John Hart has shown he is not afraid to deal and if he can take these players and sell high he needs to do so. Even by moving some or all of these players they are still going to be able to field a competitive team. If you can still supply watchable baseball and strengthen your organization at the same time, it is a no brainer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

E:6-The Jose Reyes Story

Is this Reyes forgetting he is not throwing grounders during
infield practice with 2 hoppers to first ? 
The Toronto Blue Jays are in an interesting position as they head into the unofficial halfway point of the season known as the All Star Break. Hovering  around the .500 mark, the Jays are still in decent shape in the standings and have a good shot at both the Eastern Division crown or a wild card bid. That is provided that they manage to do something on or before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. The Jays have bats that can put up crooked numbers in a hurry but that can only take them so far. They just recently rallied back from being down 7-0 in the 6th to taking the lead 8-7 going into the bottom half of the inning.....then surrendering the lead immediately and eventually losing 11-10. There are 3 things to take away from this. The jays need at least 1 more, or more realistically 2 more top end arms in the starting rotation, they need to shore up the bullpen so when the offense manages to get them back into games they have no right being in they can hold the lead and not choke it away and third, which is probably the most difficult to do...figure out what to do with Jose Reyes. 

Jose Reyes is a threat at the plate and threat on the bases. No one is going to argue with the numbers that he can give you when healthy. Big problem is, he is also a huge threat to the team defensively. Figuring out what to do about that is no small task. Well the answer is easy, but pull him late in games in place of someone who can catch and throw the ball consistently. Problem with that is, if you choose to do that you are going to loose him and most likely going to loose a bunch of the Dominican players. it is hard to understand how it seems that whenever a Latin or Dominican player has an issue with something ALL the Latin/Dominican players have an issue. Sure Canadian’s and American’s will have respect for one another but rarely do you see them stand up and side with another teammate just because of nationality. It seems island pride runs deeper. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it is good to have pride in your nationality. We as Canadians take true pride in our country. The USA as we know wave the flag as much ore more then anyone but when it come down to a personal level it seems like the Latin players will side with their brethren in spite of what may be best for business. 

The Jays are in a position to make a healthy run at the playoffs and I can't believe that when other Jays like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and especially the other Latin guys that see that Reyes’ glove and arm are costing them games that that doesn't make them mad, because it should. When they see balls going and Reyes’ glove or between his legs or he double skips a throw to first base how can they not acknowledge that he is potentially costing them games. They, more then anyone, needs to realize that something needs to be done at shortstop, especially late in tight games. OlĂ©-ing balls that should be routine is costing the team runs, innings, pitch count, bullpen arms and surely overall moral and confidence in the team's ability to make a real run towards the playoffs. 

When it gets to the point where you figure the team is more confident with Munenori Kawasaki at shortstop in the 8th and 9th instead of your $22M guy there has to be some unrest in the clubhouse. Reyes is such a table-setter and important offensive catalyst you don't want to rock the boat and loose him. But if you are Alex Anthopoulos and it is your neck on the line and needing a good finish for your ball club to secure your employment and position as GM it is hard to let things go on as they currently are. Sure it might be nice to package him in a deal, but that is not something easily done. His salary is prohibitive and it is also a deal that is more likely to happen in the off season not at the trade deadline at best.

Hopefully Jose can refocus during the second half and really shore things up defensively. If the Jays do manage to make a move to get some arms, the new additions will need to be supported by solid defence. It doesn't even need to be spectacular defence, just make the plays you are supposed to make and that will help everyone up and down the roster.