Posts Tagged 'Braves Front Office'

#191: MLB 2020: The Season Made-For-TV

Vox O’Reason

Baseball continues to work on ways to open for games in an effort to retain as much of their TV revenue as possible. And before this post gets any further down the paragraph, let’s be clear about something. Do not fool yourselves; this is not about fans, this is not about tradition, this is not about players. This is about TV contracts… and rightfully so. TV revenue is the lifeblood of MLB in the modern era. If we want to see this game we love keep moving forward in the form that we are currently enjoying, we should all want to see the TV money continue flowing in. Every power-plant has a primary engine that makes everything else turn, and with baseball it’s the TV revenue. This season, if there is one, will be made-for-TV. Disclaimer: No fans will be harmed in the making of this season.

So that point accepted, how can baseball get going and get in as many games as possible while still keeping one eye glancing in the periphery toward player health and safety?

The talking suits at MLB are quick to point out that the schemes being considered “are not plans”. In fact, they are adamant that these are simply “ideas” that are constantly evolving. So in that vein, lets lay out the “ideas” as we have come to understand them.

Idea A was to play all the games in Arizona in the 10 Phoenix-area spring training ballparks, plus Chase Field. This would minimize travel, and theoretically exposure for players, since all 11 of those venues are within a 40-minute drive at maximum. But that <strike>plan</strike>, er… *idea* was fraught with many logistical hurdles. How do 30 teams play 15 match-ups in just 11 parks on a revamped schedule that needs to maximize the number of games in a condensed schedule? And how do you house 30 teams in 11 locations that were not designed to include dormitories?

That gave birth to Idea B, which was to split the league onto both coasts and let teams utilize their own spring training facilities in both ARI and FLA, plus the home parks for the D’backs, Rays and Marlins. This would result in defacto Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues for the regular season, with some configuration of league winners and runners up coming together for playoffs late in the year. Since both ARI and FLA have relatively mild fall and winter months, you could actually run games into October and November without game temps resembling Chicago and Denver in March. But as with Idea A, Idea B also has hurdles. Two leagues split into 15 team segments results in an odd team for each that would have to sit out every day on both sides. And the parks in FLA are a little more spread out with most team sites up and down the Gulf coast, with a handful across the state on the Atlantic coast. And of course, there is the infamous FLA weather.

The new idea being floated calls for a 3rd “hub” to be employed, that being in Texas. Yes, the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues would be joined by the… Longhorn League? Cowboy League? Oil Rig League? But I digress… Back on point, Idea C would split the league into three 10 team divisions that would use Phoenix (ARI), Arlington (TEX) with its surrounding area, and the gulf coast of FLA (plus Miami) as their “hubs”, with the divisions being distributed according to geography, and with some configuration of league winners and runners up coming together for playoffs late in the year. In other words, the 10 eastern-most teams would play in FLA, 10 western-most teams would play in ARI, and the rest would gather in TEX. This scheme would seem the most workable since it would put less of a logistical strain on each hub, would employ 3 even number subsets allowing all teams to have a match-up each day, and also reduce the chances of a single weather system wiping out half the possible games for an entire day or more.

I’ll be honest… for me personally, I realize that any type of season carried out in 2020 will be a strange metamorphosis of the typical season I’m familiar with. It’s simply not going to resemble anything I have come to know as “normal”. So that said, I’m open to and accepting of something that is fresh and entertaining. And I’m open to and accepting of things that are very non-traditional, given the circumstances. Certainly we’ll see a universal DH for this season. Likely, we’ll see creative uses of pitching staffs, including 6-man rotations, “openers”, etc. And since there will be more games played and less off-days, there will likely be expanded rosters with more players getting into the games, including some guys that might have opened the year on a minor league roster in a normal year. This is even more important given that minor league seasons are likely done for the year. All that together will make for a very unique season. And I’ll be perfectly happy with whatever form it takes if it gets the season rolling. The only thing harder to find in 2020 than toilet paper is live sports. I’m paying for Hulu Live for no other reason than live sports. For the last 2 months, that’s been the equivalent of tossing away $50 like an empty bottle of hand sanitizer. I need to get something for my hard earned cash. I’ll even watch live bowling if they’ll get something going. But again, I digress…

So for the Braves, what does this mean?

Well, a quick geographical survey would suggest that the Braves would play in a Grapefruit League that would consist of the Braves, Rays, Marlins, O’s, Nats, Phillies, Bosox, both NY teams, and the Jays. That would be really tough, but would also be really fun.

And our Braves are actually constructed quite well to play under the proposed modified rules. We have our DH in Marcell Ozuna. We have youth, depth and versatility to deal with double-headers and limited off days. We have 7 capable starting pitchers vying for 5 rotation spots, so expanding to 6 is easier than for most. We have the depth in our bullpen to cover 4 innings without hitting the panic button. And we have the talent at the top of our minor league system to fill the additional roster spots without skipping a beat.

Yep, this fan is ready to see 2020 begin to take form. It’s appointment TV.

#189: Hot Stove Time! Light ‘Er Up!

Vox O’Reason

Donaldson

I’m beginning to form the opinion that there is an event to happen in the Braves organization that will be a direct cause/effect reality. I am beginning to form the opinion that if the Braves re-sign Josh Donaldson (and make no mistake, it will have to be for at least 3 years at big money), they will use Austin Riley in a trade to fill another need.

As you all know, I obsess over these things and read way too much from way too many sources. But this revelation seems to be an undercurrent everywhere I look. And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense and the more I believe it.

Austin Riley

The Braves have 4 major holes to fill before they start to feel the warmth of the the Fla Gulf Coast sun: they must add at least 1 and more realistically 2 starters, 1 of which must be of the top-of-the-rotation variety; they must fill the hole at 3B; they must fill the hole at catcher; they must fill the hole in LF. Now that’s not to say there aren’t other areas that can’t be improved or augmented, but those core 4 items must be specifically addressed if the Braves intend to not only repeat as NL East champs, but actually progress far enough to play for the NL pennant.

And the Braves are not a team that is going to stroll into the off-season with the checkbook open, reeling in Free Agents like bass in a stocked pond. That’s not to say they won’t break off a guy… maybe even 2. But 2 guys can’t fill 4 holes. There will be trades made.

And somebody of quality has to be included.

Maybe AA signs 2 top pitchers after seeing what actually makes it to the World Series, and leaves 3B for Riley to grow into. Maybe he signs his pitcher and catcher. Maybe he surprises everyone and signs a power bat for LF.

Or maybe he spends big on 3B. At that point, can he afford to hold onto Riley when other teams might supply us with a catcher or pitcher for a good 3B prospect? I don’t think he can.

I am of the opinion that Josh Donaldson and Austin Riley will not be on the same team in 2020. The Braves simply cannot afford that luxury.

What say you? And whom would you rather have over the next 3 years?

A few notes on an otherwise boring Monday…

After reinstating all the players on the 60-day IL, as is required 5 days after the World Series ends, the Braves 40-man roster currently sits at 32. Since there is a need to protect a handful of eligible prospects from this year’s Rule 5 draft, this is good news. But given that we must also add a few players to round out the major league roster, there will be some tough decisions that have to be made. And the deadline to make these decisions is Nov. 20, just 8 days away.

First, there is a whopping 25 Rule 5 eligible players in the Braves minor league system this year. I’m not sure how this ranks with other teams, but it doesn’t really matter. That’s a lot. And there will surely be some players that do not get protected that we will lose.

Among those who will surely get added to the 40-man roster in the next week are:

T Davidson

Pache

 

Cristian Pache. This one is obvious…. a no-brainer. Also no-brainers are pitchers Tucker Davidson, Jasseel De La Cruz, and Thomas Burrows. Another player who should require no debate is catcher William Contreras.

 

 

Wm Contreras

T Burrows

J de la Cruz

Now if you’re keeping count, that’s 5 players. Remember, we started with just 8 open slots in total. And while you have to keep one eye open to the fact that any Free Agent you sign to a major league deal is going to require a spot, that should not dominate this process yet. After all, for every FA you sign, you can use a corresponding move to bump someone off the bottom of the list. For instance, if we sign a catcher, Alex Jackson is likely placed on waivers. (Speaking of catchers, John Ryan Murphy will not remain on the 40-man roster very long himself. But with only 3 catchers on the roster as it’s currently assembled, AA cannot just cut him loose yet. Or perhaps Murphy’s fate is sealed once Contreras is added. That is possible. But I digress…)

Clouse

Pfeifer

Anyway, there are a still a couple of players who will almost certainly be selected if not protected. Those include pitchers Philip Pfeifer and Corbin Clouse. I think one or both of them are easy goners if left unprotected.

Other players of note that are eligible: P Josh Graham and SS Ray-Patrick Didder. I doubt either of them would be drafted since they would have to remain on the drafting team’s active roster for the entirety of the 2020 season. But a guy like Didder could be taken by some team in need of a versatile and speedy defender.

If I had to guess right now, I’d say they do protect the “no-brainer 5” I listed above, and cut loose JRM… leaving them with a little flexibility even after the 5 additions. But to add more than 5 is asking alot. How much do they like Pfeifer and Clouse? We’ll see in the next week.

Of course, I could be totally wrong about all of it. It wouldn’t be the first time.

More randomness because I am bored…

2019 playoff teams and their 2019 Opening Day payroll ranking:

#5 Nationals = $197,287,505 (World Series, champs)
#7 Astros = $188,624,429 (World Series)
#2 Yankees = $226,718,875 (ALCS)
#12 Cardinals = $168,097,083 (NLCS)
#4 Dodgers = $198,063,010 (NLDS)
#16 Braves = $138,401,048 (NLDS)
#17 Twins = $134,935,267 (ALDS)
#28 Rays = $88,817,567 (ALDS)

If the Braves want to elevate their season ending position, they might want to consider elevating their payroll position.

Just sayin’…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#169: Some Advice to the Braves from a Fan…

Vox O’Reason Oct. 12, 2017

So how do the suits in Lake Buena Vista begin to wash away the ugliness that currently stains our formerly “gold standard” franchise?

I have a couple of thoughts on that. (Big surprise, right?) And I say this with the disclaimer that the investigation is still ongoing and that there could be more negativity coming.

So suits, listen up!

Terry McGuirk, this first part is addressed to you. You obviously have to hire some stable leadership and get this boat back upright again. We’re listing thanks to the current hierarchy, regardless of who knew what and who did what. Those at the top failed. I include all leadership in “baseball operations”. Anyone at GM level or higher has failed. Period. The venerable John Schuerholz can stay. After all, he’s really nothing more than a figurehead in the organization now, and hasn’t been for 3 years. He’s a HOF’er that makes for great PR on the speaking circuit. But his influence over the day-to-day operations of the Braves is long gone. He’s kind of like the Queen of England. Great history; no power.

When the house becomes unstable, you don’t go in and try replacing the framework a 2×4 at a time. You raze the structure and start from the foundation. That’s what we need to do here – clean house and start fresh.

Next, have to make sure you don’t lose the fan base that came out to see the shiny new ballpark this year. STP won’t be nearly as much a novelty in 2018, and this current blight will surely cement the cynicism among the fringe fans. In order to keep the fence sitters interested, you have to create some positive news and positive energy. The best way to do that is by showing them you are committed to winning NOW, and that you aren’t going to use this setback as an excuse to push the target further down the timeline.

They say that money can’t buy happiness, and that’s true. But it can buy you out of some bad press if you spend it correctly. You want some of the bad news to go away? Break out the wallet and go after a couple of key pieces in FA and prove to the fans that you want to step forward in 2018. How badly do you want to put this darkness behind us, and how quickly? Buy some big positive headlines. It’s not that hard… just expensive.

Yes, I know that you can’t buy World Series winner. Then again, CC Sabathia and Aroldys Chapman did play a key role in the Yankees beating the superior Indians in the ALDS. (And I kind of remember a FA laden Marlins team winning the whole shebang not just once, but twice. But I don’t advocate that method – the stock and purge method.) The Yankees example shows us that the best way for a young team to shine is to have some key veterans put them in that position. And there are absolutely a couple of positions on the Braves that glaringly cry out for a veteran to step in.

Todd Frazier

On the top of my list is 3B and starting pitcher. Is it prudent to roll out the armored car and land a guy like Mike Moustakas? Uh… probably not, especially since you have Austin Riley projected to be about 2 years away. Again, I point to the Yankees, who have gotten key contributions from 3B Todd Frazier down the stretch and into the playoffs. His powerful bat isn’t setting any records in post-season, but his steadiness and vocal leadership is proving to be the rudder that’s keeping the Yankees ship on course. His 27 HR’s over the course of the regular season didn’t hurt anything either. That would have been the 2nd highest total on the Braves this season, just 1 behind Freddie Freeman and way far ahead of the twin Matts’ 19 each. Want a steadier power bat behind Freddie in 2018? Todd Frazier is the guy. Want a guy that you can project into the lineup every day, unlike Matt Kemp? Todd Frazier is the guy. He’ll be just 32 and he played in 147 games in 2017. You can probably sign him for 2 years plus an option, so he fits the timeline nicely.

Jake Arrieta

Now you need a starter, and I mean a real one. Yes, I’m talking about buying one now. This whole Coppoloser mess gives us an excuse now to buy one, and I think we should take advantage of it. I’m not talking about Bartolo Colon or RA Dickey. I’m talking about Jake Arrieta. I’m talking about Yu Darvish. I’m talking about Alex Cobb. I’m sure there will be a couple of teams escalate the bidding on these guys, but if you get in on the right one – Cobb perhaps – you can still land your desired ace and stabilize a quite unstable rotation. And in doing so, you effectively strengthen your bullpen as guys like Max Fried and Lucas Sims can be counted on in a multi-inning role, much like the Yankees have done this year with Chad Green and Aroldys Chapman. Those guys are weapons.

Alex Cobb

Estimating arb salaries and pre-arb raises, the Braves have somewhere in the neighborhood of $90M committed for 2018 to the current roster. A non-tender here, or a buyout there and that total changes, but it still works as a reasonable baseline from which to work. The 2017 total payroll was somewhere in the neighborhood of $120M. The league average Opening Day payroll in 2017 was exactly $152,327,084. You’ve been telling us that The Battery is bringing in more more revenue that is to be turned around into the team. So use it. Increase the payroll to league average. Give your new GM some walking around money to improve the product on the field. Give him $60M or so to make real progress with the roster. But even if you don’t want to go that high in 2018, an increase of $40M would still spend nicely. Sign Alex Cobb for 5yrs/$125M or maybe 7yrs/$175M($25M yearly), Todd Frazier for 2 yrs/$25M ($12.5 yearly) and you’re in the ballpark, pun fully intended.

Hey, a guy can dream… can’t he?



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