Friday, November 13, 2015

The 'Arms' Race Continues in Atlanta

Well if there was any doubt on the direction that the Atlanta Braves were headed in 2016 the answer became very clear last night. Andrelton Simmons, the best overall defensive player in baseball, was dealt from Atlanta to the Los Angeles Angles. That is likely the last big piece that the Braves had to get a hefty and/or impactful return. Coming from Los Angeles is veteran SS Erick Aybar who is essentially a placeholder for now and will be a free agent at the end of 2016. He is a player that will either be flipped in another deal or play SS and possibly be moved at next years trade deadline. He may be the veteran but not the key piece to the trade. The Braves also picked up 2 pitching prospects that were the real centerpieces for the Braves. As was the case in most of the other big deals that were made during lat years off-season the Braves have shipped out top end major league talent for top end pitching prospects. The first is Chris Ellis, a right handed mid rotation type prospect that helps deepen an already pitching rich farm system. He is not deemed to be an ace but a solid 3-4 type guy should he continue to progress. The main piece is Sean Newcombe, a big left handed power arm with 2 above average breaking balls. He looks like he could be a young Jon Lester type that can throw in the mid 90’s and top out at 96-97mph. If he continues on his current arc he cold become the teams #1 in the next few years. Projecting pitching is not an easy thing to do but the Braves are hoping that with the depth they are accumulating hope that 2 or 3 will reach their potential.

It is more then likely that some of these young arms are going to be used as currency in other moves to boost the extremely weak lineup that they are currently going to have to trot out onto the fields next season.

Braves fans are going to hope that a couple of these guys pan out because if they plan on winning any games they may need to do so 1-0 or 2-1.

Now it looks like the focus is going to have to be how best to thin out the logjam in the outfield. There are a lot of bodies and a lot of money tied up in the outfield. Any trades are not going to garner much of a return but right now it is probably more important to clear some money and create some roster spots for other younger players. There are 3 outfielders that the Braves would like to move out of town, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Cameron Maybin. Those 3 guys are due in the neighborhood of $37M and only Maybin may be a player that may be ok to roam Center field, at least until the trade deadline. Regardless of the return it would be a prime example of addition by subtraction.

That is where we stand right now, but we must take note that it is sill just mid November and we haven’t hit the Winter Meetings where it is more likely that there will be more moves that will be made, either by trade or free agency.

Let the funny season continue, should be interesting.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Blue Jays GM Flies The Coop

In my last blog I talked about the issues that were going to need to be attended to by the Toronto Blue Jays. Most of that revolved around the pitching rotation and the free agents and trades that may be required to fill out the depth of this roster in hopes of putting the 2016 season over the top. When talking about the free agents I obviously did not put enough emphasis in getting now former GM Alex Anthopoulos locked up.

The day after I posted my blog I awoke to the news that AA had informed Rogers that he was declining the 5 year deal that was offered to him. That was, I don’t want to say a disappointment but it came as a shock and then the ensuing speculation on the reason for that he was not re-upping in Toronto was rampant.

As of now we don’t know why he chose to leave.  It seems like it was likely a philosophical difference with incoming President and CEO Mark Shariro. I guess until he signs on with another club we won’t fully understand what his mindset was, and even then, knowing how AA operates it still won’t be clear as he has a great talent in not directly answering questions posed to him. He seemed to, for the most part be honest but at the same time be able to be vague and evasive depending on the questions.

So the AA era is over but he has left a very good on field with team friendly contracts and not a lot of  ‘bad money’ on the books going forward. The one good thing for both Mark Shapiro and interim GM Tony La Cava is the flexibility the club has. That is also where the concern from the fans and media come from. There a re a lot of questions on what direction the new management/ front office are going to decide to do. As of Saturday Free Agents are available to start signing. Now it is not like hockey and day 1 a ton of players get locked up but this team are going to have to hit the ground running and derive a plan on how to best fill out the roster and re-build a pitching staff that is full of question marks. The team has already exercised options on Edwin, Bautista and R.A Dickey. Now they need to turn their attention to what they plan on doing with Marco Estrada, do they qualify or not and should or should they not look to get him signed to a multi year deal. Then there is the decision on the young arms from this past year Hutchinson, Osuzna and Sanchez.

It will be interesting to see over the next few months how things shake down.

What Free Agents do they target, what positions are the focal points and then what trades are available and does a big right handed bat get moved for either a young established controllable arm or a left handed power hitter to fill that roster spot or position on the field.  

Stay tuned during the Hot Stove season to see a rundown and instant evaluation of moves as they are made here at