Friday, February 21, 2014

Simmons Gets a Seven-Year Itch

So, on Tuesday, I wrote that I did not think the likelihood was strong that Andrelton Simmons and the Braves would come to an agreement on an extension that both felt benefited each side.  I ended the article by saying this.
Though...I didn't think Craig Kimbrel would get an extension so tomorrow, we might know about an extension for Simmons.
In my defense, it came two days later.

For those living under a rock, Simmons inked a seven year contract that will pay him $58M.  As Fangraphs David Cameron pointed out, Simmons had comparable service times to Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt.  Both will receive significantly less than Simmons despite the rough offensive year Simmons had last year.

We found that defense does pay if that defense is at such a level that there are no comparable players.  The Braves wanted to balance the potential in his bat with what they had already seen while Simmons wanted to be paid for his defense and plus power for his position while, at the same time, attaining security.  Both sides basically got what they wanted.  Simmons, like other recently extended Braves, will receive a heavily backloaded deal.  The breakdown looks like this:

  • 2014 - $1M
  • 2015 - $3M
  • 2016 - $6M
  • 2017 - $8M
  • 2018 - $11M
  • 2019 - $13M
  • 2020 - $15M
Add in a million for the signing bonus.  Simmons would have likely been arbitration eligible as a Super 2 player in 2015 and a free agent after the 2018 season so this contract buys out two years of free agency for $28M, or nearly half of the contract.  Backloading deals can be worrisome.  Right now, the Braves have invested $64.2M in five players for 2017.  How significant is that?  Look at the breakdown of guaranteed cash after 2014:
  • 2015 - $71.2M (8 players, $8.9M per player)
  • 2016 - $47.8M (5 players, $9.6M per player)
  • 2017 - $64.2M (5 players, $12.8M per player)
  • 2018 - $41M (3 players, $13.7M per player) + $13M Kimbrel option
  • 2019 - $45M (3 players, $15M per player)
  • 2020 - $38M (2 players, $19M per player) + $12M Julio Teheran option
Note that I'm not including arbitration players.  Wonder why the money goes down in 2016 and climbs more than $15M the following season in 2017.  

Oh, yeah, that's the year the Braves are moving to Cobb County.  Clearly, the Braves are banking on that move allowing them to make the money they need to pay for a much larger payroll.  For what it's worth, the Miami Marlins payroll jumped over $40M in their first year in their new park, a climb of 76%.  However, a raise of 76% from the recent run of $90-95M-ish payrolls would be an unrealistic $160M range.  We know that the Braves can't be operating under that payroll expectation in the market they are with the TV contract that has been an albatross on them.  But still, it would seem realistic that Atlanta thinks their future payrolls may climb as far as $120M in their new stadium.  In the meantime, their recently signed core will spend three years making good money until the backloaded portions hit.  

In the meantime, Braves fans are thinking "who's next?"  Mike Minor would appear like a good target.  The lefthander avoided arbitration with the team this offseason and is a Super 2 player.  Perhaps Atlanta wants to see a second solid season before committing.  Kris Medlen could be a possible target as well, though there was some talk last season of moving him to the pen.  Both Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are free agents after 2015.  Chris Johnson had a tremendous first season with the Braves, but they certainly want to see him duplicate that success.  

Hell, the way they are going, they might sign Lucas Sims to a ten year deal.  

Probably not, but this offseason has been so strange.  Many crucified the offseason for following up a big season with little action.  They inked Gavin Floyd to a one-year deal and acquired Ryan Doumit.  Big whoop.  Braves fans were confused, upset, ridiculously short-sighted, and fearful after watching Tim Hudson and Brian McCann leave and potential trips to arbitration with a trio of players considered part of the core of the team.  

Now, Braves fans are spoiled with good news. 

We told you guys.  It's a long offseason.  

Believe us now?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

See ya, Mat!

I love low-risk, post-hype sleeper guys.  Mat Gamel was one of those guys.  A former top prospect for the Brewers organization, Gamel first reached the majors in 2008 at the age of 22.  He would get his first extended taste of the majors the following season, slashing .242/.338/.422 in 148 PA.  Unfortunately for Gamel, that has been the most plate appearances he has ever received in the majors.

While he has never hit that well from 2010-12, injuries were a big reason that he never was able to secure an everyday role.  Most notably, he tore his right ACL each of the last two seasons.  After he was non-tendered by the Brewers, Gamel became a free agent and the Braves quickly struck.  They did not have an obvious need at first or third base - Gamel's positions - but Gamel did slash .310/.372/.540 in 2011 with Milwaukee's AAA club.  Talents like that deserve a look.

However, before his first game with the Braves, Gamel was released after tweaking the same knee even before workouts officially began.  It's the latest in crushing blows to Gamel's potential career.  Once the 34th prospect in the game entering 2009 by Baseball America, Gamel has to wonder if he will ever get back to the bigs.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Buddy!

This is how bad the Braves pitching was in 2007.

Chuck James, Kyle Davies, Jo-Jo Reyes, Lance Cormier, and Mark Redman made a combined 71 starts.  Those five suck.  I don't mean to demean their efforts, but damn, they were awful.  Redman only made five starts and do you realize how bad those five starts were?  Worthless bugger gave up 29 runs.  Oh, I won't cheat you, Mark.  Only 28 of them were earned.

Something called a Wil Ledezma pitched for the Braves in 2007.  One of the whitest, most boring player ever (Kevin Barry) pitched in a game.  Tyler Yates pitched 75 times.  Do you realize how much you have to scrap the bottom of the available pitcher market to use Yates 75 times?

Just how bad was that year's staff?  I actually had an element of faith in Buddy Carlyle.  Maybe it wasn't faith.  Maybe I just wanted to believe he could surprise everyone.  Did you know Buddy's real name is Earl?  Well, of course you didn't.  Carlyle had been drafted in 1996 by the Reds, but he never appeared for them.  He broke into the bigs in 1999 and was awful.  Four more bad games with the Padres in 2000 and he was sold off to Japan.  Carlyle came back state side after two seasons across the Pacific and played in the Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Marlins organizations over the next four seasons, though he only appeared in the bigs with the Dodgers for ten forgetful games in 2005.

So, when the Braves added him for the 2007 season, he was a good bet to play in Gwinnett.  But because of injuries and general suckiness, Carlyle was called up in late May and stuck around.  To be sure, he was not good.  He gave up 19 homeruns in just 107 innings.  But on a team with guys like Redman and Cormier, plus worthless prospects like Reyes and Davies, Carlyle was a guy you could hope for.  Plus, you simply can't hate a guy named Buddy, even if his name is actually Earl.

Carlyle was finally let go after the 2009 season and since played in the Yankees and Blue Jays organization with a return trip to Gwinnett in 2012.  Yesterday, he signed with the Mets because, well, if you are looking for teams that will give a guy like Carlyle a chance, why not try the Mets?

Of 253.1 ING in the majors, 191 innings came with the Braves between 2007-09.  He has been credited with eleven career wins and all but one came with the Braves (and eight came in 2007).  But it wasn't that he pitched that much better with the Braves than he did the Padres, Dodgers, or Yankees.  Atlanta was simply that desperate.

Good luck, Buddy.  Thanks for being a guy I could root for in 2007.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Is Andrelton's Extension Coming Soon?

Suddenly, Atlanta is the home of contract extensions.  After committing over $200M to four players, Atlanta has avoided the year-to-year arbitration process with some of the core of their team and if you are to believe the many articles released recently, the Braves are not done.  After all, only two pitchers are signed past 2014.  The left side of the infield is currently not signed after 2014, either.  For some reason, the Braves have a panda that hasn't been extended, too.

Now, the majority of those players are team-controlled for the next couple of seasons.  In fact, only three players (Gavin Floyd, Ryan Doumit, and Gerald Laird) are entering their final year of their contract.  The Braves don't have to extend anyone else to retain them outside of those three.

That doesn't mean the Braves will not extend another member (or two) of their young team before the 2014 season kicks off.  One player in particular who seems likely to be targeted by the Braves is Andrelton Simmons.  The Platinum Award-winning shortstop is a part of the long-term future for the Braves and every pitcher in baseball would love to have him at short.  His 41 DRS last year is one of my favorite stats.  DRS stands for Defensive Runs Saved, or essentially quantifies the phrase "he's got RBI's in his glove."  Not only was it the highest DRS in baseball, the guy who finished in second place among shortstops has 12.  Perhaps I should emphasize that.  Simmons had 41 DRS and the second best shortstop had 12.  Since 2011, only Brendan Ryan has more than 41 DRS among shortstops and it took him three years.  Simmons has 60 and he played all of 2011 in Lynchburg.

That's just a way of saying that Simmons' defense is pretty awesome.

The only problem, as far as a contract extension goes, is that defense rarely pays.  Ryan, one of the better defenders at shortstop before the arrival of Simmons, made $6M in his three arbitration years.  But Ryan is a notable awful offensive player with a career .237/.299/.320 slash.

Adam Everett was a tremendous defender, but never made more than $2.8M in a single season and OPS'd .640 over an 880-game career that ended in 2011.

Former Brave Jack Wilson was renowned for his defense, though he also occasionally flashed a bat, especially during a 2004 season where he slashed .308/.335/.459.  He had another solid offensive season three years later when he OPS'd .791.  Between those two big seasons, he even inked a $20M extension that covered three years.  But outside of two seasons, he sucked with the bat.

Even late 90's sensation Rey Ordonez is a tough comparison because while he was a great defender, he never could hit.

So, coming to an agreement between the Braves and Simmons is going to be very tough.  Even though Simmons had a subpar offensive season last year, he still hit 17 homers.  He's young enough and was solid enough in the minors to believe he can perform at a much higher offensive level.

Simmons wants to be paid for one-of-a-kind defense, impressive power for a middle infielder, and the potential his bat will be even better.  The Braves want to pay for great defense, good power, and a bat that needs work.  It will be very difficult for a contract to come from that.  Simmons is likely going to be Super 2 next year so he will hit arbitration a year early.  I doubt that the Braves will get an extension for Simmons, but it could happen after the season when both sides have more results to base offers and counter-offers on.

Though...I didn't think Craig Kimbrel would get an extension so tomorrow, we might know about an extension for Simmons.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Look Back: 2008 Draft

Before my second daughter's birth, I began a series that analyzed the impact, or lack thereof, of the recent amateur draft classes for the Atlanta Braves organization.  Beginning with the 2012 draft, I followed the outcomes of four different years.  If you would like to look back at those articles, you can do so by clicking one of the following links:  2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.

Today, let's continue it with the fifth addition to the club, the 2008 draft.  While the first two picks petered out as busts, the draft did give the Braves a few major league talents, including the best closer in baseball.  The Braves did not have a first round pick that season, losing it as compensation for signing Tom Glavine from the Mets.  Um, a waste.  The Mets took current first baseman Ike Davis with the pick.  Unknown who the Braves would have targetted with the 18th overall selection, but Andrew Cashner was picked next.  That would have been a nice addition.

The Braves did get a supplemental pick after the Royals signed left-hander Ron Mahay.  So, the first pick could technically be added to the Mark Teixeira deal.  Unfortunately, it does not help that terrible deal's outcome.  The Braves also got an additional second round pick after failing to sign Josh Fields the previous year.  Like previous editions, I'll go over the top ten rounds and add any interesting picks.

Keep this in mind.  Of the 51 players selected in 2008, only two remain with the Braves organization.  

1. Brett DeVall, LHP, Niceville High School (Niceville, FL)

It was supposed to be a good fit.  Crafty left-hander with surprising velocity from the southeast goes to the Braves.  This is how successful pairings begin.  However, DeVall would only appear in 33 games with the organization before being cut before the beginning of the 2011 season.  What went wrong?

Injuries definitely played a role.  He made just 10 starts with Rome in 2009 before his season ended in June.  The following year, his final with the organization, he got a late start to the year and made only 19 starts with pretty forgetful numbers.  But it was more than just injuries from what I read.  He showed up overweight and apparently refused to undergo Tommy John surgery even after being advised by Dr. James Andrews that he needed it.  And according to his twitter account, he's a douchenozzle.  Last October 26th, he tweeted, "not many more things in baseball i enjoy more then asian relievers shitting the bed."  Wow, really?  Suffice it to say, since the Braves cut him, his phone hasn't been ringing off the hook.

2. Tyler Stovall, LHP, Hokes Bluff High School (Gadsden, AL)

Back-to-back high school lefties to open the draft, back-to-back busts.  Stovall could run it up to the low 90's with a good curveball and again, it looked like a good fit.  Stovall was a two-sport star signed on to play baseball at Auburn when he signed with the Braves.  However, his production was minimal and he was switched to the bullpen, which is hardly a good sign for a second rounder out of high school.  The Braves cut Stovall after the 2011 season and after a stop (but no appearances) with the Royals and a year in independent ball, where he didn't fair too well, Stovall was out of baseball.  But the story doesn't end there.  Like 2011 8th rounder Kurt Fleming, Stovall has found second life in the SEC as a football player as a walk-on backup punter and holder for the Auburn Tigers.  Bonus...as part of his original contract with the Braves, Atlanta is on the hook for 8 semesters.  Shrewd.

2.  Zeke Spruill, RHP, Kell High School (Marietta, GA)

While the first two picks of 2008 washed out, Spruill has persevered, even as the Braves cut bait with the former Georgia product.  Spruill continues the string of crafty guys former scouting director Roy Clark loved to grab early and often.  Only thing about craftiness is that it's not very exciting and rarely do the players ever contribute in a meaningful way in the majors.  Spruill climbed the ladder steadily, though he was never a big prospect.  Last offseason, he was added to the Justin Upton trade and appeared in six games with the Diamondbacks last year, including two starts.  He also faced the Braves last June 28th out of the pen and gave up an RBI single to Reed Johnson.

3. Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Wallace State Community College

Oh, you've heard of him?  The best reliever in the game has always been a reliever.  Atlanta originally took him in the 33rd round in 2008, but could not sign the Lee High School alum.  Fortunately, they got a second chance and got the young reliever and it did not take long for Kimbrel to rocket up the charts.  In 151 minor league innings, he struck out 242.  He had one potential problem to a successful career in the majors and that was his control.  He walked nearly 6 per nine innings during his minor league career, but it all clicked for him in 2011 as he took home the Rookie of the Year award and sported a 3.7 BB/9 rate.

4. Braeden Schlehuber, C, College of Southern Nevada

Breaden was the first Random Prospect of the Day back in June of 2012.  Unfortunately, he received zero boost from the Walk-Off Walk bump and has been classified as an organizational catcher since signing.  He's currently in camp as a non-roster invitee, but even if Gerald Laird wasn't with the Braves, Schlehuber was headed back to the minors regardless of what he does this spring.  Since signing, he has hit .224 with a .622 OPS and has rarely been a team's primary catcher.  Over the last three seasons, he has played with both Lynchburg and Mississippi.  Chances are he'll be back in Mississippi.

5. Jacob Thompson, RHP, University of Virginia

What was with Roy Clark's obsession with soft-tossing guys?  Add Thompson to the crowd and also add him to the list of former Braves.  Thompson was never that good, but he steadily climbed the ladder to appear with the Gwinnett Braves in 2011.  The results were not that good and Thompson surprisingly retired at age-24, a day after giving up seven runs in 2.1 ING to Toledo on May 14th.  I saw Thompson pitch for Myrtle Beach against the then-Pirates-affiliated Lynchburg Hillcats and he looked every bit of a low-ceiling guy.

6. Adam Milligan, OF, Walters State Community College

Milligan was drafted three times by the Braves before the native of Tennessee finally signed.  The Braves hoped that left-handed hitting imposing figure would add some more raw power.  However, Milligan could never stay healthy despite some relatively solid numbers along the way.  He struggled in 2012 with Mississippi and was banished to Lynchburg, where he never could turn it on and before last season, the Braves parted ways with Milligan.  A shame he was never able to stay healthy.

7. Paul Clemens, RHP, Louisburg College

One of the most ridiculous numbers last season came from Clemens, who split time with Oklahoma City and Houston.  With the Astros, he gave up 16 HR in 73.1 ING.  To put that into different terms, for every nine innings Clemens could throw, he would give up 2 homers.  That ratio tied him with Joe Blanton and tying Blanton with anything is a bad sign.  Clemens has been with the Astros since the trading deadline in 2011 when the Braves acquired Michael Bourn.  That was also his first year as a full-time starter after splitting time between starting and relieving before that.  He's never been better than decent.

8. Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, Seminole Community College

Also going to the Astros in the Bourn trade was Oberholtzer, a stocky left-hander who is, as the theme goes, crafty.  Oberholtzer was a fast-riser and was already in AA-Mississippi and holding his own at the time of the trade.  He made it to the majors last season and looked like he belonged.  He picked up a pair of complete games, including a four-hitter against the Mariners last September 1st.  Oberholtzer could be a late bloomer, but I doubt he's much more than a bottom-of-the-rotation cog.

9. Kyle Farrell, RHP, Western Nevada College

139 innings.  That's all the Braves needed to see from Farrell to grow disinterested with keeping the 6'4" righty in the system past 2010.  He never made it out of rookie ball and hasn't played organized ball since.

10. J.J. Hoover, RHP, Calhoun Community College

Blessed with a heavy fastball, Hoover displayed great strikeout numbers as he climbed the minor league ladder, rarely staying in one place for very long.  Hoover was eventually transitioned to the bullpen in 2011 and looked like he could be a sleeper for the 2012 roster, but instead of making the roster, he was dealt to the Reds for Juan Francisco.  It didn't take him long to get to the majors from there and he has been a steady reliever in the pen for the Reds.

Other interesting picks...

-Former Georgia Tech pitcher and 17th rounder pitcher Mark Pope didn't sign with the Braves and was eventually drafted again by the Padres, where he played for two seasons before getting cut.  The Braves tried their luck with Pope and he opened 2013 with the Hillcats, but was released a month later.

-A pair of picks were used on guys who didn't sign and eventually were drafted by the Nationals. 16th rounder OF Billy Burns and 27th rounder infielder Anthony Rendon.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's Okay to Not Love the Kimbrel Extension

Twitter exploded a few hours ago as the first news was reported by Mark Bowman, AtlantaBraves.com beat reporter.  Apparently, there could be news of a Craig Kimbrel extension.  Coming on the heels of recent extensions to three different cornerstones of the Braves, this news was still surprising considering the huge gap in arbitration figures the team and Kimbrel had (about $2.5M apart).  But shortly after Bowman's leak, the news became official.  Kimbrel receives at least $42M over the next four years, plus a $13.5M option for a fifth season that has been reported to be a club option.  Add in incentives and Kimbrel could receive near $60M over the next five seasons, an average salary of $12M.  Jon Heyman has the breakdown of each season's salary here.

The immediate reaction from Braves fans was elation and there is good reason for that.  Kimbrel is the best reliever in baseball and has been for at least two seasons.  If FIP is an indicator of future success, Kimbrel's career FIP is 1.44.  Of people with 220 innings of major league experience, Kimbrel's 15.08 K/9 is the best of all time.  And that FIP number...also the best of all time.

Kimbrel turns 26 in May and has been remarkably durable throughout his career both in the minors and in the majors.  The contract will cover his age 26 season through his age 29 season plus a possible age 30 season.  He's much younger than Jonathan Papelbon, who received a similar 4 year, $50M contract with a $13M vesting option for a fifth year.  That deal began with Papelbon's age 31 season.

So, why don't I love this deal?

Let me just say that I do like this deal because I love Kimbrel.  Buying out three years of arbitration plus a year of free agency isn't the worst course of action for the Braves, who likely saved money by not going year-to-year.  After all, what if Kimbrel had won his arbitration case and received $9M?  He doesn't make that until the second year of this contract.  If Kimbrel gets $9M in his first year of arbitration, what does he get in his second year?  $13M?  $16M in his third year?  That alone, if you covered him through all three years of arbitration, would have ran you $38M.  The Braves covered those three years with $27M.  Even if you think my arbitration estimates are too liberal, the Braves at least saved $5M and probably much more.

On the other hand, is it smart to pay so handsomely for a 3 fWAR pitcher?  Is it long-term the right move to pay this much in cash when the player is so dependent on the starter pitching well, the bullpen getting the lead to him, the offense scoring runs, and the defense playing well?  For that matter, yes, he has been durable.  But relievers often wear down or simply break.  What if Kimbrel misses the lionshare of one of the contract's years, if not more?

I'm not saying that the Braves shouldn't have done this.  I actually expected higher financial totals for the deal when the years were originally announced.  I was worried the deal, before incentives, would climb into the $55M or more range.  So, on that, the Braves did well.  But there is definitely a healthy amount of risk with this extension, risk I would have taken on other players first (Andrelton Simmons and Mike Minor to name a couple).  Kimbrel is amazing, but sustained health among relievers is rare.

I don't love this contract extension.  I don't hate it, but I can't love it right now.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Contract Extensions Galore!

I took a few weeks off to welcome our daughter Riley into the world and the Braves suddenly become the Rays.  How strange.  John Hart joined the Braves front office this offseason so that may have something to do with it.  Hart's Cleveland Indians famously gave out a number of extensions to their young stars during the mid-90's.

Jason Heyward - 2 years, $13.3 million

There was talk awhile back that Heyward had refused an offer north of $100M from the Braves.  Whether that has much truth to it or not, inking Heyward for the next two years and buying out the rest of his arbitration was a good step between the player and organization that were not far off during their arbitration negotiations over a one-year contract.  Frank Wren's philosophy is that the Braves will continue to negotiate after the file-and-trail deadline, but only multiple year offers will be considered.  Hence, Heyward's two year pact.

As far as value goes, the Braves get plenty of that.  Over his first four seasons, Heyward has averaged over 4 fWAR per season.  Now, of course, there have been some great years (2012's 6.4 fWAR) and some not-so-great years (2011's 2.0 fWAR) season, but Heyward has clearly shown himself to be a valuable performer who combines speed and defense with a bat that is plenty capable.  However, his bat does need work if he's going to be rightfully considered a top ten player at his position (outfield, not just right field).  His career .349 wOBA ranks only 30th since the beginning of 2010 among MLB outfielders while his fWAR is tenth so his bat isn't all the way there yet.

The 24 year-old is still young enough to believe he could explode offensively.  Doing so may take him out of the Braves future plans.  Regardless, if he can avoid the freak injury and perform like he did after moving to leadoff last season, Heyward could be on the verge of a special season.  Buying out his last arbitration season could make that production bargain-level prices.

Freddie Freeman - 8 years, $135 million

There are two schools of thoughts that I have witnessed with this deal.  The first questions if Freeman was worth the investment.  The second, and it appears to be the most noticeable one, is that "OMG, the Braves paid big money!  Horray!  I'm so happy that my team locked up a guy for nine figures!"  When you subscribe to this thought process, you lose context in what the deal actually means as far as the player goes and focus more on what this means about the Braves.  I can understand that.  For an organization that has saw Brian McCann and Tim Hudson leave this offseason after not being willing to pay for Martin Prado's extension last offseason, the idea that the Braves are not only willing, but actually extending their young players is exciting.

But let's get back to the player.  Freeman broke through last season with a 4.8 fWAR, .387 wOBA, and a .319/.396/.501 slash.  While all of those numbers are very impressive, they don't touch the National League 1B royalty of Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt.  Atlanta is banking on Freeman not just repeating his 2013 production, but expanding on it.  Otherwise, the last four years of this deal (which includes 64%, or $86M) look like a monster overpay.  I'm not saying Braves fans should be concerned, but this deal carries considerable risk before you even discuss the injury factor (see Ryan Howard).

All of that said, I do expect Freeman to improve.  A month younger than Heyward, Freeman is still a few years from entering what we should expect to be his prime.  The Braves looked at Freeman's ebay page and bought now rather than wait to see how things looked later.  They paid richly for Freeman's youth, work ethic, and breakthrough season.  It's up to Freeman to make that decision look good.

Julio Teheran - 6 years, $32.4M with a 7th year option for $12M

If the Braves were banking on Freeman's youth, they were absolutely going all-in for Teheran's.  Normally, I would look at a contract that goes beyond four years with a pitcher as needless and a mistake.  However, considering the Braves simply bought out his arbitration years with one free agent year (plus the possibility of a second), I think the effort here was pretty reasonable.

Again, there is plenty of risk.  At least with waiting until arbitration, you can make sure you want to offer the player a deal the next season.  What if the Braves had given Tommy Hanson or Jair Jurrjens an extension based on the first year?  However, remember that Teheran was a monster prospect.  Just 23 years-old, Teheran was tremendous for the Braves and he didn't even have a feel for what people consider his best pitch, his changeup.  Add a devestating changeup to the argument and suddenly, Teheran goes from a pretty good pitcher to one of the game's best.

Teheran will likely only get better from here.  He showed impeccable control last season (2.18 BB/9, 3.78 K/BB), an ability to miss bats, and a fearless presence on the mound (ain't that right, Bryce?).  Early comparisons linked Teheran with Pedro Martinez.  As Braves fans, we can only hope the comparison is justified.  It feels good to know that for the next six years, possibly seven, Teheran will be terrorizing the NL East as a Brave.