Sunday, February 1, 2015

Braves With a New Year Remodel

The title is a little off, I'll admit. After all, this entire offseason has been a remodel with the Atlanta Braves experienced a great amount of turnover that began with the firing of Frank Wren. Still, this last week saw a flurry of activity, though most of this was on minor league deals. We said goodbye to a pair of Braves I hated seeing with the tomahawk on their chest while we also welcomed more new faces we don't know much about. Let's recap.

Braves Sign C John Buck to Minor League Deal

Let's go back to the year 2010. Oil was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, miners were rescued in Chile, and NBC pulled the plug on Conan O'Brien. North of the border, Buck would homer 20 times and go to an All-Star Game. All of these things would be outliers during Buck's career, including the one year in Toronto. He would get big money from the Marlins before being shipped back to Toronto in the mega deal where the Marlins transferred their entire payroll to Toronto. The Jays didn't keep Buck long, moving him to Flushing in the R.A. Dickey trade. He wasn't even allowed to stay in New York long before they sent him to the Pirates. Overall, Buck has not posted an OPS higher than .683 since that 2010 year with the Jays and spent last year with the Mariners, Angels, and Anaheim's AAA squad. He still provides pop as evidence by his 15 homers in 2013 with the Mets, but he doesn't have much of a hit tool nor does he take walks. Still, he will provide decent support at Gwinnett. Historically, Buck has plus grades at blocking pitches, but sucks at pitch framing (which the Braves sucked at in general last year.)

Braves Designate OF Jose Constanza for Assignment

After finally completing the contract for Dian Toscano, the Braves did something that probably made their manager cry himself to sleep. Constanza has appeared in 112 games with the Braves over the last three years, though most of his playing time came in 2011 when Fredi Gonzalez played Constanza over Jason Heyward because Fredi sucks as a manager. Well, that's not fair. Heyward was struggling and Constanza had fooled the entire league into pitching batting practice to him. I guess licking a bat is some weird voodoo? Constanza's kind of funny in that he is allergic to extra base hits. He batting .314 for Gwinnett in 88 games, but managed just 15 extra base hits. Last year, in nearly 500 PA, he had 12. Mind-boggling.

Braves sign P Eric Stults to Minor League Deal

Having added a few young prospects to the mix along with Wandy Rodriguez, the Braves continued to add to their plethora of guys you might be surprised are still in the league. Stults, a 35 year-old left-hander, settled into a full-time starting role for the terrible Padres the last two years and was better in 2013 than he was in 2014 (3.53 FIP vs. 4.63 FIP). Stults is your rare 88 mph fastball throwing pitcher who does not induce enough groundballs and lives on the outside corner. But he doesn't put many batters away so he's stuck trying to get guys out with a myriad of unimpressive pitches. Ultimately, I guess he's not much worse than Paul Maholm, but that's a low bar to set for a guy.

Braves sign C Jesus Flores to a Minor League Deal

Another guy in the mix in case an injury or A.J. Pierzynski's utter incompetence, the Braves sign the former National to both give them spring depth and compete with Buck for playing time with Gwinnett. Flores is an interesting story. A Rule 5 pick by Washington, Flores joined the Nats in 2007 when he otherwise would have been in AA for the Mets. Naturally, he struggled. But the Nats sucked back then and could deal with a raw catcher on the bench. How much that hurt his development - that is the bigger picture. Flores would get a majority of the starts in 2008 and did show some pop, but not much else. Over the next four years, he was largely a supporting cast member who dealt with a series of injuries while appearing in around 130 games for the Nats. He has spent the last two seasons in the minors. Injuries remain a concern and he hasn't really hit since a nice 29-game run with the Nats in 2009. Probably more of a backup in case Buck starts the year in the majors.

Braves Trade P's David Hale and Gus Schlosser to the Rockies for C's Jose Briceno and Chris O'Dowd

Before I get into the meat of the week's biggest deal, isn't it a little weird that the Braves traded one kid of a fired GM (Kyle Wren) and acquired a kid of another currently unemployed former GM. Granted, Chris's dad, Dan, stepped down after 2014, but it is still kinda funny. To me, at least.

This one caught a lot of people off guard in that Hale seemed like a strong contender for the fifth spot in the rotation. I have gone over more than a few times why I was not a big fan of Hale's, but he still had a big chance to open the season with the Braves either as a starter or a return to long relieving. Hale was what I like to call a "casual fan's guy." The casual fan sees a 3.30 ERA and maybe they saw someone tweet about Hale's sparkling 2.45 ERA as a starter and doesn't understand why the Braves would ever trade Hale. These fans took to social media to call Hale a "stud" and one person sarcastically remarked, "yeah, because you can't have enough pitching." I understand the sentiment. Hell, I hated on the guy at every turn, but I grant you that the Braves could do worse than Hale. Not much worse, but I digress. Now, whereas the casual fan sees those numbers, the more dedicated fan sees a nearly equal K/BB (1.13) and a 1.47 WHIP and thinks "something doesn't quite match up with that ERA." When that happens, you almost hope the guy gets traded before the bottom falls out. Though, I will miss Schlosser. Just enough guys named Gus in baseball.

As for what the Braves got, O'Dowd isn't much of a prospect, though neither was Wren. He gives the team some catching depth who likely will be at Mississippi next year to hold the seat warm for...Briceno. He's the only real prospect in this deal. Just 22, Briceno has played five seasons of professional ball including the last three in the states. In that time, he has slashed .280/.342/.433, which are respectable numbers for a catcher. He's noted for having a strong arm and scouts seem to believe he has enough potential to max out as a starter in the majors. He likely will be at Carolina this year, though he could jump to Mississippi quickly. Trading a pair of players who had little future with your team to get a guy like Briceno is a smart move by Hart and maybe a move we look at a few years from now as a big trade.

No comments:

Post a Comment