Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stock Report: Midseason Edition (Part 3 of 3)

Time to finish the midseason evaluation of the Braves roster and see where players might stand for 2014 based on what we know now.

Infielders (continued)

Chris Johnson
2013 Salary: $2,287,500
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the Second Time

In a season where at least half of the starting lineup has fell on its face, the throw-in during last offseason's big trade with the Diamondbacks has took off.  He enters the break slashing .330/.370/.470 over 78 games with 6 homers and 1.3 WAR.  This despite sharing time with Juan Francisco earlier this season.  Johnson's .415 BABIP is fairly unsustainable, but even a regression won't ruin what has been a great start to his Braves career.  Defensively, Johnson is a handicap for the Braves who have often lifted him late in games when they have a lead.  Whether or not Johnson is the long-term option at third is debatable, but so far, the Braves have to ride the hand they have been dealt with Johnson.

2014 Projection: One-year deal through arbitration

Tyler Pastornicky
2013 Salary: Prorated minimum
2014 Status: Not arbitration-eligible

Last year's opening day shortstop failed to make the team out of spring training and was optioned to Gwinnett.  He has had some success there, but remains defensively limited.  At Gwinnett, he mostly played second and that appears like it may be his best position.  A team might be intrigued by his bat and with a middle-infield hole, he might bring over a decent bullpen prospect.  Outside of that, he will probably remain in the system as filler.

2014 Projection: Renewed contract

Ramiro Pena
2013 Salary: $550,000
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the First Time

Pena was a surprise pickup this offseason as on the surface, he didn't appear to be much of an improvement over Pastornicky.  However, he hit well in the spring and with his positional flexibility, easily remained with the team as they headed north.  While being used extensively as a defensive replacement at third, Pena also showed a good bat, slashing .278/.330/.443.  Unfortunately, his season ended in June with extensive damage in his shoulder.

2014 Projection: One-year contract through arbitration

Andrelton Simmons
2013 Salary: $491,250
2014 Status: Not arbitration-eligible

One thing is for sure with Simmons.  His glove is spectacular.  His 12.6 UZR is third in baseball, first among shortstops.  In fact, the next shortstop is Pedro Florimon of the Twins at 9.0 UZR.  His 24 DRS is tied for the best number in the game.  Florimon is second among shortstops with 13.  There is absolutely no question that Simmons has an amazing set of defensive skills.  However, his bat has not came around during the first half, slashing his way to .245/.285/.350 with a .249 BABIP that at least gives some hope.  Being that he has 139 games at the major league level, it's difficult to know what to expect.  Despite that, I think the Braves had reason to expect better offensive numbers and with any luck, which Atlanta hasn't had much of this season, but with any luck, Simmons will get his bat going in the second half.

2014 Projection: Renewed contract

Dan Uggla
2013 Salary: $13,000,000
2014 Status: Signed - $13,000,000

There are few more walking personifications of the Three True Outcomes.  He ranks 5th in BB%, 4th in K%, and 16th in HR/FB.  Braves are going to have to make the best of the situation with Uggla, who just is who he is.  He is signed through 2015.  Get used to a lot of walks and strikeouts and, hopefully, a good deal of homers.

2014 Projection: Signed


Jose Constanza
2013 Salary: Prorated minimum
2014 Status: Not arbitration-eligible

For people who don't subscribe to small ball theories, seeing Constanza is frustrating.  He has some degree of hitting ability to slap the ball around for singles and for fans that see a team that is built on walks, strikeouts, and power, Constanza suddenly seems like a true option.  However, despite a .284 average in 214 plate appearances in the majors, Constanza has a career OPS of .672.  Considering Constanza lacks base-stealing abilities, his value is tremendously low.  He's out-of-options after this season so chances are, some team in need of a gritty go-getter will grab him when the Braves try to demote him after spring training next year.

2014 Projection: Designated for Assignment

Jason Heyward
2013 Salary: $3,650,000
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the Second Time

Heyward's production has been all over the place during his 3.5 seasons.  He was a phenom after an .849 OPS during his rookie campaign, fell flat during a troublesome sophomore year, found his stroke in 2012, and earlier this season, he may as well stepped up to the plate without a bat.  After a good June, he was again slumping before straining his hamstring in Friday night's game.  He expects to be ready for the second half and the Braves need him to produce down the stretch.

2014 Projection: One-year contract through arbitration

Reed Johnson
2013 Salary: $1,600,000
2014 Status: Club option - $1,600,000

Entering 2013, Johnson's role looked bigger as he was the fourth outfielder.  However, the production from a returning youngster and a White Bear kept Johnson from seeing as much time as he probably expected.  He's been used against righties a little more than he should be, but hie continues to hit lefties well and gives the Braves a trusty veteran off the bench.

2014 Projection: Option exercised

Jordan Schafer
2013 Salary: $512,500
2014 Status: Arbitration-eligible for the First Time

Schafer was given a chance to try to win a job this spring and was on the bubble until the last day. Fortunate for the Braves, they kept Schafer and he has produced extremely well this season, slashing .312/.399/.464.  There are some reasons to not buy into Schafer at this point, most notably his .414 BABIP.  I considered him trade bait after this season until the news dropped he had a stress fracture and would probably not be back until the rosters expanded.  Still, if he returns and continues to produce, the Braves might have to explore a time share in center.

2014 Projection: One-year deal through arbitration

Joey Terdoslavich
2013 Salary: Prorated minimum
2014 Status: Not arbitration-eligible

I went over Terdo's promotion here and since the promotion, he has three hits in 17 PA.  The switch-hitter was pressed into defensive duty Friday after an injury and started the next two games in right field.  There is a good chance he is being showcased for a trade, but if he is not traded, there is room on the bench for Terdo next season.

2014 Projection: Likely traded, otherwise renewed contract

B.J. Upton
2013 Salary: $12,450,000
2014 Status: Signed - $13,450,000

Where to begin?  As many complaints that can be justly made about Derek Lowe, Frank Wren's first big free agent signing after taking over in Atlanta, at least Lowe was average.  Right now, the Braves would be thoroughly happy with league-average numbers from Upton.  He is on the DL for now and when he gets healthy, the best route might be for Atlanta to give him a full rehab stint at Gwinnett with a personal hitting instructor.

2014 Projection: Signed

Justin Upton
2013 Salary: $9,750,000
2014 Status: Signed - $14,250,000

The younger Upton's season began with a massive April that had people chiding the Diamondbacks for giving away a young superstar.  After a May and June that went miserable for Upton, the same people said "ah ha, that's why they gave him up."  He was finally surging again when he left Friday's game with a calf strain.  Looks like he will be okay for the second half, but the Braves would be overjoyed if he continues his .319/.340/.553 July numbers.

2014 Projection: Signed

Well, that's the stock report, midseason style, for the Atlanta Braves.  After the season, we can see if anyone changed their standing with the organization with a tremendous second half or a disappearing act.

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