When John Hart continued to restructure the Atlanta Braves in his image yesterday, I made it immediately known on social media, how we at Wayniac Nation felt.
— Wayniac Nation (@UofDWayne) November 12, 2015
But I hesitated writing a post until I slept on it. I didn’t understand trading away Jose Peraza at the deadline for Hector Olivera, but after seeing Ozzie Albies play in person (and snagging this interview with him) I understood that there was a bigger picture and a better prospect to fill the void left by Peraza.
So, I slept on it. And I still don’t understand it.
You would think that after my tirade on Andrelton Simmons being robbed of the Gold Glove Award, that I was some sort of Braves homer or even had a man-crush of sorts on Simmons. Neither is the case, but I do live in the heart of Braves Country now (and am right on the border of Burbs Country for 2017), so I have engulfed myself in trying to stay atop all things Braves.
As I said on Facebook yesterday, as someone that was an editor of a minor league site and now writes for John Sickels at minorleagueball.com, from a pure who did the Braves get standpoint, they did a great job with this trade.
I like 22-year old lefty Sean Newcomb. What’s not to like about him? He was drafted in 2014 by the Angels and jumped three levels in 2015 — his first full season — finishing the season with seven starts in Double-A. His numbers are great, he has an electric mid-90s fastball that touches 99 and has a Major-League ready curve to go with it.
His numbers, like I said, were fantastic finishing with a 2.38 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP, while posting a .199 BAA. My concern is his command. He struck out a mind-blowing 168 batters over 136 innings. He also walked 76 batters over the same span, posting nine games with four or more walks. That means that although he is limiting hits, there are still runners on base. It also means he is throwing a lot of pitches per outing. He is young, and these kinks can be worked out, but he certainly shouldn’t be rushed to the Majors next season.
Chris Ellis is another solid, young pitching prospect. He was the No. 2 prospect in the Angels system, but let’s remember, the Angels are the anti-Braves. Where the Braves are looking a few years ahead, the Angels are prepping to win now. Their farm system isn’t as deep. Ellis will probably settle in as a top 15 prospect on the Braves.
He’s a 23-year old righty, who like Newcomb, was drafted last year and has a big pitcher’s frame. His arsenal is nowhere as near Major League ready as Newcomb’s but he still projects to be a mid to back of the rotation arm.
Like I said, the Braves traded away the best defender in baseball, but on paper, they got quality in return. I personally thought this was the season that Simmons bat met up with his defense, but it didn’t, and it appears that it may not. So, once again on paper, a good move by the Braves.
Logically, I don’t get it. We were sold that Hart’s plan was building for 2017. He was going to get the big contracts off the books and get manageable, team controlled contracts of youngsters onto the roster. Last year, before the season started, I thought Hart was a genius, as he did exactly what he told the fans he would do. At the same time, the Braves came out of the gate ultra-competitive.
Now, I don’t know what his plan is. Simmons was under team control until 2020 at a very affordable cost. I understand that Albies is the shortstop of the future, but he is 18 and has yet to play a full season in the Minor Leagues. Simmons glove has saved more runs than any other in baseball, and for a GM that is building a team from the ground up based on pitching… well, that’s the kind of glove the Braves would seemingly need.
Manny Banuelos. Matt Wisler. Mike Foltynewicz. Touki Toussaint. Max Fried. Tyrell Jenkins. Kolby Allard. Mike Soroka. Zachary Bird. And now Newcomb and Ellis. Those are most of the arms that the Braves acquired under the John Hart Era. Where are they all going to play? Throw in Lucas Sims, and the Braves find themselves with a bevy of cost-controlled arms for the new stadium.
But who is going to hit the ball? I get that part of moving into the new stadium is having an exciting team to play there, but shouldn’t they at least put a team on the field this year — the year before they move — to entice people to want to go to the new stadium. For every person out in Cobb County excited that the stadium is coming to them, there are two or three that dislike it. Putting a team out there that seriously may not win 45 games may not help ticket sales.
I know. Hart did it in Cleveland and brought them to two World Series in the 90s while moving the team into a new stadium. That team was stock piled with superstars and Hall of Famers though. Jim Thome. Manny Ramirez. Eddie Murray. Omar Vizquel (you know, a shortstop that could hit a lick, but was arguably the best in the biz in the field for over a decade?). When are the Braves going to deal some of these arms and bring in some serious names?
As Dave Hill and Saucy T pointed out, the Braves are going the rout of the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, completely tearing down the team at the roots, not caring about 50-win seasons all while preparing for the future. That’s fine and all, but let’s remember one thing. The Cubs and Astros are exciting, they are fun to watch and hopefully ready for a run that has some longevity to it. But right now, it’s one year into the plan. Let’s not jump the gun.
Also the Astros and Cubs built BOTH their pitching and hitting through the draft. George Springer. Carlos Correa. A.J. Reed. Javier Baez. Daniel Vogelbach. Albert Almora. Kris Bryant. Kyle Schwarber. Just a few of the first and second round picks that were in the post season this year.
Yes, the Braves are freeing up a lot of money. Yes, they have a ton of arms that they will sign to long term, cost efficient deals. But at some point, Hart needs to decide on who his future arsenal is and move some of the others and get some offensive pieces. Look at the Mets. They had to go out and get some pop to make their 2015 run because they were constantly losing one-games.
Jason Heyward is about to land a contract that is going to pay him $20 to $25-million a year. As crazy as that sounds, that is the going rate for an outfielder now, and it will only go up with the 2017 and 2018 free agency classes. Shouldn’t the Braves go get someone at least a little more terrifying than Nick Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski in their lineup now before it’s too late?
I know I am in the minority of pundits that don’t understand this trade. Three or four years down the road, Hart will probably have these Braves back to the glory years, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it now. Like I said, I like the pieces they got, I just need more clarity on the plan, and maybe flipping Aybar and one of their pitching pieces in the upcoming days will do that.