Can Braves afford to keep Bourn? Can they afford not to?

He’s their best center fielder since Andruw Jones and most dynamic leadoff man since Rafael Furcal, and Braves players and fans have seen enough of Michael Bourn in 12 months to know he’s someone the team needs to make every effort to keep from leaving Atlanta as a free agent this winter.

The question isn’t just whether the Braves, with their middle-of-the-pack payroll, can afford to keep him. It’s can they afford not to keep him? That is, without taking a step back from the progress their offense has made with Bourn at the top of the lineup.

Chipper Jones is retiring after this season, and the iconic Braves third baseman sounds as if he has an idea where his own $14 million salary that’s coming off the books should be allocated. Toward a contract for the speedy center fielder, who could possibly command more than that per season in a long-term deal of six or seven years.

Re-signing Bourn (above) should be a "No. 1 priority" for the Braves, says Chipper Jones.

Re-signing Bourn (above) should be a "No. 1 priority," says Chipper Jones.

“It should be a No. 1 priority,” Jones said when asked about the importance of re-signing Bourn. “It’s not a stretch to say he’s been our most valuable player this year. I’ve said all along, you show me a dynamic offense, and I’m going to show you an offense with a dynamic leadoff hitter. We’ve had the same cast of characters here for a couple of years now, and you’ve seen what this offense is able to do with a dynamic leadoff hitter.”

After finishing 10th in the National League in runs in 2011, the Braves are tied for second this season. Bourn came from Houston in a trade on July 31, 2011, and this season he was hitting .292 with nine triples, a career-high nine home runs, 50 RBIs, 81 runs and 31 stolen bases in 116 games. His .353 on-base percentage was third on the team, and his .428 slugging percentage would also be a career high.

Now cue the Darth Vader theme….

“I think Michael is having an extraordinary season,” said Scott Boras, Bourn’s high-powered agent. “If there’s ever a player that fulfilled a need, that makes a good team a really good team, certainly that acquisition has just made the Braves a very different team than they were without him. And I think he enjoys playing there. But it’s something that, as far as any business discussion, that’s just something we’ll do in the offseason.”

Boras. You just felt a cold breeze? No chance for the Braves to re-sign Bourn when Boras said he believes “a lot of teams” will be in the market for the center fielder and that he hasn’t even begun negotations with Braves general manager Frank Wren?

Well, hold on. Don’t write off Bourn’s return just yet.

“Frank and I have talked a number of times this season about a number of things, but certainly it’s understood there will be discussions [about Bourn],” Boras said, “because it’s a place where Michael’s played well and a place where they’ve made it clear they want him. So when you have those kind of fits, you look at it and have to consider it.”

Wren has said several times that Bourn has been just what the Braves hoped he’d be and they’d like to re-sign him. But he hasn’t elaborated on the situation, and lately Wren hasn’t commented on it at all.

For the first time in recent years, the Braves will have plenty of money to spend this winter after they shed the contracts of Jones and Derek Lowe, among others. They traded Lowe to Cleveland in November, but the Braves still had to pay $10 million of his $15 million salary in 2012 as part of that trade. They might also non-tender struggling pitcher Jair Jurrjens, which would drop another significant salary ($5.5 million) from this year’s payroll.

Those three contracts, plus the expiring contracts of bench players Matt Diaz and Eric Hinske and a few other Braves, could free up more $35 million from this year’s payroll. But factor in the addition of pitcher Paul Maholm’s $6.5 million salary, plus arbitration raises for the likes of Martin Prado, Eric O’Flaherty and Tommy Hanson, and first first-time arb-eligible Jason Heyward, and the amount available could drop below $20 million, unless they decide it’s time to add $10 million or more to the approximate $90 million payroll and move back into the top half of major league spenders.

If not, if the Braves maintain their self-imposed payroll limit, do they give the bulk of their available funds this winter to Bourn? With no center fielder in their minor league system who looks ready for next season, and few proven leadoff guys expected to be available this winter, can the Braves afford not to pay the going rate for Bourn? Or does it depend whether that rate is closer to, say, $20 million per year than $12 million?

Boras doesn’t say what he expects to get for his client, but makes it clear that Bourn is a unique player on this winter’s market, and also points out that he got more than most believed he could for clients such as Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford and Alex Rodriguez.

Bourn has said since spring training that he would be focused solely on playing his best this season and would let Boras handle any contract talks and keep him informed if and when there was anything he should know. Otherwise, Bourn said he’s not thinking about free agency yet and has steadfastly declined to comment about the likelihood of re-signing. He’s only said he enjoys playing in Atlanta and the team camaraderie.

“Yeah, it’s cool here,” he said in May, in his most extensive comments about the situation. “Yes, I could [see himself staying]. I’ve got no problem with Atlanta at all. No doubt.”

He added: “You owe it to your team to be focused on the task at hand. You don’t want to have any kind of questions in your head, having to worry about that all the time or what this person’s saying about you, what you’re going to be looking at. The single day has enough problems of its own without you having to worry about the next day and what else could be going on. Just worry about that day.”

Bourn, 29, has done a fine job compartmentalizing. With free agency looming, he’s having his best overall season. He made his second NL All-Star team and provided a steady spark atop the lineup, particularly in the first half of the season when other key hitters were struggling at various times.

After hitting hit .125 with one extra-base hit one run in the first six games of the season – the Braves went 2-4 – Bourn heated up quickly and stayed hot, batting .324 with a .378 OBP, 31 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs, 61 runs and 24 stolen bases in his next 82 games. The Braves went 47-35 in that stretch, and Bourn played every inning of every game.

That durability is one of the many strengths that Boras will point to when he talks about Bourn with the Braves and other teams. And expect him to convince some big-market teams – i.e. the Dodgers, who current have slugger Matt Kemp playing center – that they would be best suited with Bourn in center and, in the case of the Dodgers, Kemp at a corner-outfield spot.

“You’ve got to remember, center field is a unique place ,” Boras said. “You can’t put those sluggers in center field because you’re taking them out of the batter’s box. Those are 3-4-5 [in the batting order] guys, big guys.”

Boras contends that another of his clients, ex-Braves perennial Gold Glover Andruw Jones, was a modern exception in terms of big-time power hitters who could play elite center-field defense for many years without breaking down.

“You’ve got to have guys whose weight allows it,” Boras said. “There’s nobody I know that’s hitting 400 homers and winning Gold Gloves [in center] again. Got to go back to Willie Mays [before Andruw Jones and Ken Griffey Jr., who had multiple injuries late in his career]. The type of performance that’s needed, you’re got to have somebody that can track the baseball and then take the pounding on the bases.

Bourn has played terrific defense for the Braves.

Bourn has played terrific defense for the Braves.

“The value of a guy like Michael Bourn is they can score so easily from second base, and frankly from first. And when got a team like the Braves, who have that ability to put together the synergy that allows that to happen, that’s what allows teams to do what the Braves have done lately — put together a long winning surge.”

Bourn is a pest on the basepaths, always forcing pitchers to be aware of him. Hitters behind him tend to see more fastballs when Bourn is on first or second base as pitchers try to be quicker to the plate to keep him him from running.

“He makes people better because he does what he does,” Jones said. “I don’t like hitting with two outs and nobody on. I can’t think of any guys in the middle of the order that do. And he maximizes our opportunities to hit with guys on base and hit with guys in scoring position, which is what we want.”

Jones has seen firsthand the difference that a premier leadoff hitter can make. In Furcal’s final season with Atanta in 2005, Braves leadoff hitters hit .295 (tied for third in the NL) with a .356 OBP (fourth in the NL).

Here’s what they did in subsequent seasons: .268 (12th in NL) with a .336 OBP (ninth) in 2006; .272 (tied for ninth) with a .355 OBP (fourth) in 2007; .273 (11th) with a .356 OBP (tied for third) in 2008; .265 (10th) with a .348 OBP (ninth) in 2009; .284 (fourth) with a .336 OPB (tied for fourth) in 2010; and 264 (ninth) with a .313 OBP (10th) in 2011.

Currently, Braves leadoff hitters – Bourn has 485 of the team’s 495 leadoff at-bats – are hitting .293 (second in NL) with a .351 OBP (third) , 31 steals (second), 50 RBIs (first), 82 runs (first) and a .426 slugging percentage (second).

And after having Furcal collect at least 550 at-bats in the leadoff spot in each of his last four seasons with the Braves, including more than 600 at-bats in three seasons, the Braves had a leadoff hitter make as many as 350 at-bats in only one of the next six seasons through 2011. That was Marcus Giles in 2006, when he hit .251 with a .334 OBP and 10 steals in 463 at-bats from the leadoff position.

“He takes care of himself,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Bourn. “You see him in the training room, you see him in the weight room, he eats well – he’s a straight pro. He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve ever been around You could almost set your watch to where he’s at according to the time of the game. He’s got a routine and he keeps it.”

Jones and Boras are right: Bourn gives the Braves something they need, something they’ve missed. They’ll have to decide if it’s something they can afford. Or something they can afford not to have.

BRAVES LINEUP

  1. Bourn cf
  2. Prado lf
  3. Heyward rf
  4. Freeman 1b
  5. Uggla 2b
  6. Francisco 3b
  7. McCann c
  8. Janish ss
  9. Maholm p

• Tonight’s matchup: It’s Paul Maholm vs. the Padres’ Edinson Volquez. Maholm is 6-1 with a 1.20 ERA and .195 opponents’ average in his past eight starts, after going 0-4 with a 6.43 ERA with a .325 opponents’ average in his eight previous starts. He’s 0-4 with a 4.86 ERA in five career starts vs. Padres, receiving 1.35 support runs per nine innings.

Volquez is not in Cincy amymore – he has 3.24 ERA and three homers allowed in 13 starts at spacious Petco, but a 5.04 ERA and nine homers allowed in 11 starts on the road. Volquez had had a 3.52 ERA in 18 starts before break, and has a 5.81 ERA in six starts since break, despite pa one-hit shutout in 117 pitches against Houston on July 19.

He’s 1-1 with a 13.50 ERA in his past three start, allowing 15 earned runs, 15 hits and five homers in just 10 innings during that stretch, with and as many walks (11) as strikeouts (11). He gave up 10 runs, 10 hits and eight walks in total of five innings over his past two starts Mets and Pirates, throwing 93 pitches to get 10 outs (3-1/3 innings) against the Pirates on Friday in his last start.

Against the Braves, the former Cincinnati pitcher is 1-2 despite a strong 2.86 ERA and stingy .169 opponents’ average, with 17 walks and 29 strikeouts in 22 innings. His team scored two or fewer runs while he was in those four games, the most recent in 2010.

Against Volquez, Brian McCann is 3-for-7 with a homer and Bourn is 4-for-14.

• OK, running out of time, so I’ll keep the rest of this stuff brief because I’ve got to get to the ballpark.

Martin Prado is 6-for-12 with four extra-base hits (triple, homer), six RBIs in three consecutive two-hit games, after going 12-for-59 (.203) with three extra-base hits and three RBis in his previous 14 games….

Jason Heyward has 14 game-winning RBIs, tied with Curtis Granderson of the Yankees for second-most in the majors, behind Hanley Ramirez’s 18 with the Marlins and Dodgers. Heyward went 1-for-8 with five strikeouts Sunday at New York and Monday vs. Padres before getting a rest out of the lineup Tuesday….

The Braves are 21-10 with a league-leading 3.04 ERA since the All-Star break, second in the majors to Tampa Bay’s 2.25 ERA since the break and second-fewest losses in the majors since the break, after Cincinnati’s 23-8…

Craig Kimbrel’s stunning stats since allowing runs in back-to-back games in first week of May: 33 games, 0.55 ERA, .083 opp average, two runs (both on homers), three walks, 58 strikeouts, 22 saves in 23 chances.

And his past 30 appearances: 30 innings, eight hits, two runs, one walk, 54 strikeouts, including 12 strikeouts in past 5 innings.

• Let’s close with a tune from Cold War Kids off their great debut album Robbers and Cowards. You can hear it by clicking here.

coldwarkids_3

“TELL ME IN THE MORNING” by Cold War Kids

Speak about Greenly
Now that she’s gone
Take my time when I go to bed
And I sleep, Lord
I’m getting over
Rolling over
I said can you just wait
To tell me in the morning?

Slow it down
Slow it down
Lay it low
Save it for the morning

I know that you would like
Like to change me
Make me softer
Tune your voice like a baby
I’m using caution
Bet you wanted
I wish you could wait
To tell me in the morning

Slow it down
Slow it down
Lay it low
Save it for the morning

I shouted questions
Like a fierce fire
You tried to take me by the arm
Into the light
I’m almost over
Rolling over
I said could you just wait
To tell me in the morning?

Slow it down
Slow it down
Lay it low
Save it for the morning

And I’ll tell you one more thing
I confess to self deception
Pull the lock and pry it open
They’re pretending to be stolen
I am my own thief in the night

Struck up for mnay years
Just to get here
Between the humility
And be my own teacher
I guess it backfired
’cause my motive
Was just to take and
Never kept that way I guess

Slow it down
Slow it down
Lay it low
Save it for the morning

I shouted questions
Like a fierce fire
You tried to take me into your arms and lead me to the light
I’m almost over
Rolling over
I said could you just wait
To tell me in the morning?

Slow it down
Slow it down
Lay it low
Save it for the morning

And I’ll tell you one more thing
I confess to self deception
Pull the lock and pry it open
They’re pretending to be stolen
And I am my own thief in the night

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

1,322 comments Add your comment

Joey M

August 15th, 2012
2:54 pm

Joey M

August 15th, 2012
2:55 pm

And yes, we MUST keep Bourn. He the catalyst to our lineup. With him, we have speed up top, power in the middle, and contact hitters at the back end of our lineup. His glove prevents runs. He’s great in the clubhouse and is a leader.
**Melky Cabrera tested positive for steroids. Couldn’t happen to a bigger loser**

Impressed Not

August 15th, 2012
2:55 pm

And what a big boy you are Joey M…

RC

August 15th, 2012
2:57 pm

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
2:58 pm

Francisco in, and batting ahead of McCann…that’s interesting.

DAP

August 15th, 2012
2:59 pm

Cabrera: “My positive test was result of use of substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension … deeply sorry for my mistake.”

wow. good for him for owning up and accepting the suspension.

Mikeyc588

August 15th, 2012
3:00 pm

Wow. 50 games. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 15th, 2012
3:00 pm

Chop yourself, Melky you big dummy.

He’s added himself to my “love to root against” list along with Dempster

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

August 15th, 2012
3:01 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief

TOBF What??? McFann not wanting her mann to play?

Not the first time that’s happened……Anyway, I was thinking Fredi might like to stick with the Ross-Mohulm battery since it worked so well last week…

Guess we’ll know in about half an hour…

jzdc

August 15th, 2012
3:01 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA MELKY! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Pace

August 15th, 2012
3:02 pm

DOB – the 10M from Lowe’s contract isn’t included in this years payroll of 94M. The Braves/Liberty paid that in the last quarter of 2011.

There is some money left to sign Bourn, but if the payroll stays at the same level, it’s going to be a real stretch.

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

August 15th, 2012
3:02 pm

Brian from SC Francisco in, and batting ahead of McCann…that’s interesting.

Heeey…What? You’ve got the lineup already?…

JC Brave

August 15th, 2012
3:02 pm

So, Melky begins to pay for his antics during his last visit to Turner Field…

Ha!

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:03 pm

Atlanta Braves @Braves
4m
Tonight’s lineup vs. SD (7:10, SPSO/680AM/BRN): Bourn 8 Prado 7 Heyward 9 Freeman 3 Uggla 4 Francisco 5 McCann 2 Janish 6 Maholm 1

cricket

August 15th, 2012
3:03 pm

has Melky qualified for batting title?

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 15th, 2012
3:03 pm

Headed home from “school” now… I’ll get to laugh all the way home about Melky.

Bwahahahahahaha!

Hope he never gets an MLB job again.

Heisenberg

August 15th, 2012
3:04 pm

The question of Bourn is not up to the Braves, it is up to the agent who will not be named. Better get a plan B & C in place.

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:04 pm

has Melky qualified for batting title?

Is it 3.1 PAs per game? If so, he needed 502. He has 501.

Chris from the Rock

August 15th, 2012
3:05 pm

Bye, bye Melk Dud! It doesn’t surprise me has had a little, ahem, help this season.

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:05 pm

Yep, that’s official. Melky finished one plate appearance short of qualifying for the batting title.

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 15th, 2012
3:05 pm

keithlaw ‏@keithlaw
Of course what the Giants should do to replace Melky is sign Barry Bonds.

:lol:

Pace

August 15th, 2012
3:06 pm

Brian from SC

has Melky qualified for batting title?

Is it 3.1 PAs per game? If so, he needed 502. He has 501

Now THAT IS KARMA

Mikeyc588

August 15th, 2012
3:06 pm

Presumably steroid suspensions carry over into subsequent seasons?

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:06 pm

Yes…Melky will miss the first 5 games of next season as well.

abeeewright

August 15th, 2012
3:06 pm

cricket, August 15th, 2012, 12:12 pm … “since not many people are able to or are willing to cook from scratch”

I blame the feminists.

(Really … used to be, cooking was taught in the public schools. Now, why did that get dropped? ‘Cause Home Ec is sexist!)

cricket

August 15th, 2012
3:07 pm

David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and Jeff Niemann – will Rays go to 6-man rotation?

TheOnlyBravesFan

August 15th, 2012
3:07 pm

Yep, that’s official. Melky finished one plate appearance short of qualifying for the batting title.

Awesome… Take it, Jerk.

Be back later.

RC

August 15th, 2012
3:07 pm

Cabrera: “My positive test was result of use of substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension … deeply sorry for my mistake.”

wow. good for him for owning up and accepting the suspension.

Bull. It’s not like he admitted it before getting caught. While it’s better than trying to lie his way out of it, if he hadn’t been caught he’d be doing the same thing he was doing already. Hard to credit someone who didn’t really have another option but to admit.

Chris from the Rock

August 15th, 2012
3:08 pm

Seriously, it’s time for Janish to have a day off. He’s started 29 consecutive games since the trade.

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:08 pm

Actually, I think the suspension applies to the postseason if the Giants make it.

Yes Way José

August 15th, 2012
3:09 pm

Bourn will end up in Philly or DC, but it won’t be Atlanta. Sorry.

Pace

August 15th, 2012
3:09 pm

He lost his appeal:

He tried blaming it on a “Contact Positive” due to his being assigned Barry Bonds’ old locker!

cricket

August 15th, 2012
3:09 pm

Yep, that’s official. Melky finished one plate appearance short of qualifying for the batting title.

wow, karma is extra b**chy today..

Chris from the Rock

August 15th, 2012
3:10 pm

And I understand he’s been fine defensively, but Janish’s .529 OPS is just pathetic.

abeeewright

August 15th, 2012
3:10 pm

Melky? Juicing? No way!

There is seriously no way he got more power, more bat speed, and a dramatically more svelte body by using PEDs.

Utterly shocked.

cricket

August 15th, 2012
3:10 pm

With injuries and trades decimating Miami’s lineup, manager Ozzie Guillen admitted he has considered some drastic changes to his club.

“I almost activated myself a couple days ago,” Guillen joked. “I can catch it and throw it; I don’t know if I can hit it.”

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

August 15th, 2012
3:11 pm

Sooo……Did Ross get kidnapped…?

Luman Harris

August 15th, 2012
3:11 pm

Amazing blog, DOB
You are the best in the majors!

BravesFanInMaine

August 15th, 2012
3:11 pm

Resign bourn…. no one in our farm system is even close to bourn so he is priority number 1

cricket

August 15th, 2012
3:12 pm

when do we start seeing infomercials?
“Wanna lose weight without diet, exercise or surgery? Get our PEDs “

Heisenberg

August 15th, 2012
3:12 pm

Now we know why the milk dud was having such a good season.

On another note, was Volquez the guy Cincy aquired from Texas in the Josh Hamilton trade? Braves fans can take comfort knowing we are not the only ones fleeced by the Rangers.

abeeewright

August 15th, 2012
3:12 pm

I’m revising my moderated comment …

Pence imitating a vacuum cleaner. Cabrera busted.
Giants just haven’t been living right this year.

#31

August 15th, 2012
3:13 pm

Melky? Juicing? No way!

There is seriously no way he got more power, more bat speed, and a dramatically more svelte body by using PEDs.

Utterly shocked

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Just Asking

August 15th, 2012
3:13 pm

Dave, can we get him for 15 -17 million or is it going to cost a new record contract? I can see paying 16 on average but when you get higher than that, you have to ask if you can get two or even three everyday players that will help the team more? We need two outfielders and perhaps an infielder or two (Depending upon who you ask.).

tony austin

August 15th, 2012
3:13 pm

Yeah, it’s cool here,” he said in May, in his most extensive comments about the situation. “Yes, I could [see himself staying]. I’ve got no problem with at Atlanta at all. No doubt.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement in my opinion.

David O'Brien

August 15th, 2012
3:14 pm

Braves lineup: Bourn cf, Prado lf, Heyward rf, Freeman 1b, Uggla 2b, Francisco3b, McCann c, Janish ss, Maholm p

Arkansas Transplant

August 15th, 2012
3:14 pm

The Braves actually have somewhere like closer to 40 coming off the books.. Bourn is presently making 6.8 a year, so if we don’t sign him that leaves us with quite a bit of room on payroll. Plenty to add Greinke and still fill our needs.

DAP

August 15th, 2012
3:15 pm

someone tell Hoss to quit giving Boras bulletin board material.

Arkansas Transplant

August 15th, 2012
3:16 pm

And it may not be a bad idea to move EOF, his salary is presently at 2.5 already.

George Stein

August 15th, 2012
3:16 pm

Anyone want to tell us again performance enhancing drugs don’t enhance performance?

As to Bourn, the biggest issue has to be the years. I wouldn’t give a 29 year old so dependent upon speed six or seven years. Four should be the outer bounds of a contract for him.

Yunel Asscobar

August 15th, 2012
3:17 pm

Melky – now we know how you did it!! A 50-game timeout will provide some think-time, eh?

TuffShhhtuff

August 15th, 2012
3:17 pm

I take offense to the fact Melky is being pasted all over national TV this afternoon in an Atlanta Braves uniform. Git it right, you dummies. As far as Braves fans are concerned he was NEVER a Brave.
GEEEEEZZZZZZZ! (Good to be back after a two day mini-vac) Anybody miss me? Nah!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arkansas Transplant

August 15th, 2012
3:18 pm

Bourn will be 30 by the start of next season. So you’d be giving a 30 year old speed guy a 7 year deal.

Heisenberg

August 15th, 2012
3:19 pm

Hanson is also arb elgible. Trading him along with non-tendor JJJ will free up more $$$. But doing that to 2 clients who have same agent as Bourn probably would not help Braves cause.

cricket

August 15th, 2012
3:19 pm

The Braves actually have somewhere like closer to 40 coming off the books..

from this very blog –

For the first time in recent years, the Braves will have plenty of money to spend this winter after they shed the contracts of Jones and Derek Lowe, among others. They traded Lowe to Cleveland November, but the Braves still had to pay $10 million of his $15 million salary in 2012 as part of that trade. They might also non-tender struggling pitcher Jair Jurrjens, which would drop another significant salary ($5.5 million) from this year’s payroll.

Those three contracts, plus the expiring contracts of bench players Matt Diaz and Eric Hinske and a few other Braves, could free up more $35 million from this year’s payroll. But factor in the addition of pitcher Paul Maholm’s $6.5 million salary, plus arbitration raises for the likes of Martin Prado, Eric O’Flaherty and Tommy Hanson, and first first-time arb-eligible Jason Heyward, and the amount available could drop below $20 million, unless they decide it’s time to add $10 million or more to the approximate $90 million payroll and move back into the top half of major league spenders.

bgvt

August 15th, 2012
3:19 pm

I believe that a player can win the batting title with fewer than the required PAs — if adding PAs as outs will still leave him with the best average. Thus, the Melk Dud could still win a (tainted) batting title.

Scott from Fairburn

August 15th, 2012
3:20 pm

Now we know your secret Melky Cabrera, hahahahahahahaha

a-blank

Spud

August 15th, 2012
3:20 pm

I would like to see the Braves keep Bourn, but with Boras as his agent, he’s almost certainly gone. Another team will offer more money and years than the Braves.
Melky suspended for 50 games according to MLB.com! It’s crazy how MLB looked the other way for years while Bonds, Sosa, etc., were obviously using dope! Legit record holders like Aaron are screwed by the nonsense that was allowed to linger way too long.

Pace

August 15th, 2012
3:21 pm

Braves Payroll Commitments 2013:
Uggla 13.2M
Maholm 6.5M/.5Mbuyout
Hanson 9M/1Mbuyout
McCann 12M/.5Mbuyout

So, 40.7M committed if they pick up the options, 15.2M if they only retain Uggla and buyout the other three.

Out of a payroll of 94M (this years stated amount), the Braves will have 53M to sign 21 other players to fill out the Major League roster.

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:21 pm

bgvt, do they do that officially? In that case, it would be a drop in the bucket adding 1 hitless PA. Too bad.

BRVFAN_N_JESUP

August 15th, 2012
3:21 pm

to follow on a tweet earlier… Since i believe the Braves won’t sign Bourne this year and Prado next year, given the choice between the 2 which do you sign? Me personally i would take Prado because i believe you can get him for less and then have more cash for other players given their limited payroll and all of the young guys that will be getting big money down the line….Heyward, Freeman, Kimbrel.

Arkansas Transplant

August 15th, 2012
3:21 pm

cricket, I was pointing out it should be closer to 40 than 35, that’s an extra player and possibly 2.

admiral

August 15th, 2012
3:23 pm

Literally can’t stop chuckling about this Melky thing.

JC Boscan III

August 15th, 2012
3:24 pm

As Bobby Cox would’ve said, “Just say no, Milkey.”

bgvt

August 15th, 2012
3:24 pm

Brian — According to Wikipedia they add the hypothetical PAs. Tony Gwynn (1996) and Bill Medlock (1981) won batting titles this way. Of course, Melky isn’t leading the league right now so it might be a moot point.

Bama Braves

August 15th, 2012
3:25 pm

Is Chipper Hurt?

Heisenberg

August 15th, 2012
3:25 pm

“I believe that a player can win the batting title with fewer than the required PAs — if adding PAs as outs will still leave him with the best average. Thus, the Melk Dud could still win a (tainted) batting title.”
***************************************************

3.1 plate appearances over 162 games is 502 for the season. Milk dud is currently 159 hits in 459 at bats for a .346. Adding the necessary at bats to get to 502 would drop his average to .3167 which would put him 7th based on current standings.

OTP

August 15th, 2012
3:25 pm

They should go ahead and try to sign Bourn, now. (They should have, already.)

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:26 pm

Is Chipper Hurt?

Hurting the team? Absolutely! (You had to be here this morning)

No…I think it’s just a normal day of rest for our middle-aged leader.

Fols

August 15th, 2012
3:26 pm

Wow, I was just looking at Melky’s stats at lunch today thinking about what a huge season is he having (minus the Homerun trot total is a little weak).

Funny. Really funny. I mean I didn’t read very far into this, assuming the substance was taken prior to the season and all along he’s been an improved player across the board?

I can’t imagine a guy in the middle of a great season would risk ANY substance in question knowing that all eyes are on you. You are OBVIOUSLY a target for a test.

What a lame story that will all but erase what looked like a solid year for a guy that wasn’t well known for solid performance. Now it kinda makes more sense!

I’m on HGH myself and i’m working at my desk quicker, faster, more efficient than ever! Proof is in the drugs!

Pace

August 15th, 2012
3:26 pm

From the Liberty Media 2011 Annual Report:

ANLBC’s adjusted OIBDA was impacted primarily by player salaries. The most significant increase came during the fourth quarter as the Braves traded one of their pitchers to another baseball club and agreed to pay a portion of that player’s 2012 guaranteed salary in the trade. This will free up additional salary in 2012 to be utilized in the acquisition of additional player talent. This one transaction had the impact of swinging adjusted OIBDA from earnings to a loss in the current year.

So – they paid 10M LAST YEAR in order to free up money for 2012 – can’t count that 10M for Lowe in ‘extra’ salary coming off the payroll.

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:26 pm

Heisenberg, it’s based on PAs, not ABs, I think.

Jerry

August 15th, 2012
3:27 pm

I’d rather resign Bourn for some ridiculous amount than to pay a ridiculous amount to Greinke. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, our securing Bourn with all that he can do is infinitely more important than signing someone like a Greinke. No, we don’t have a bonafide ACE, but we have enough to make us viable as contenders. Without Bourn in center, that leaves a huge gaping hole in our lineup and defensively as well.

cabravesfan

August 15th, 2012
3:28 pm

Here is the official rule, for those interested:

10.22 Minimum Standards For Individual Championships
To assure uniformity in establishing the batting, pitching and fielding championships of professional leagues, such champions shall meet the following minimum performance standards:
(a) The individual batting, slugging or on-base percentage champion shall be the player with the highest batting average, slugging percentage or on-base percentage, as the case may be, provided the player is credited with as many or more total appearances at the plate in league championship games as the number of games scheduled for each club in his club’s league that season, multiplied by 3.1 in the case of a Major League player and by 2.7 in the case of a National Association player. Total appearances at the plate shall include official times at bat, plus bases on balls, times hit by pitcher, sacrifice hits, sacrifice flies and times awarded first base because of interference or obstruction. Notwithstanding the foregoing requirement of minimum appearances at the plate, any player with fewer than the required number of plate appearances whose average would be the highest, if he were charged with the required number of plate appearances shall be awarded the batting, slugging or on-base percentage championship, as the case may be.
Rule 10.22(a) Comment: For example, if a Major League schedules 162 games for each club, 502 plate appearances qualify (162 times 3.1 equals 502) a player for a batting, slugging or on-base percentage championship. If a National Association league schedules 140 games for each club, 378 plate appearances qualify (140 times 2.7 equals 378) a player for a batting, slugging or on-base percentage championship. Fractions of a plate appearance are to be rounded up or down to the closest whole number. For example, 162 times 3.1 equals 502.2, which is rounded down to a requirement of 502.
If, for example, Abel has the highest batting average among those with 502 plate appearance in a Major League with a .362 batting average (181 hits in 500 at-bats), and Baker has 490 plate appearances, 440 at-bats and 165 hits for a .375 batting average, Baker shall be the batting champion, because adding 12 more at-bats to Baker’s record would still give Baker a higher batting average than Abel: .365 (165 hits in 452 at-bats) to Abel’s .362.

TennesseePaul

August 15th, 2012
3:29 pm

Thanks for the work DOB.

GO BRAVES!!

Last 9 Starts of the Starting 9

_________AVG__OBP__SLG___OPS_wOBA_L9S9+
Bourn__ .351 .442 .541 0.982 .428 __172
Prado__ .278 .350 .472 0.822 .357 __126
Heyward .216 .256 .432 0.689 .316 ___87
Freeman .265 .342 .500 0.842 .363 __131
Uggla__ .281 .378 .531 0.910 .392 __150
Francis .400 .471 .800 1.271 .483 __245
McCann_ .133 .278 .133 0.411 .200 ___20
Janish_ .219 .265 .250 0.515 .238 ___45
Maholm_ .100 .143 .250 0.393 .149 ____6

Dawglasville

August 15th, 2012
3:29 pm

ESPN is reporting that Melky Cabrera just got popped 50 games for testosterone. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

bgvt

August 15th, 2012
3:30 pm

IT is definitely PAs not ABs for the minimum in the batting stats — so as not to penalize players for walks, SFs, etc. The Dud is at 501 PAs so the adjustment would be miniscule.

bfred

August 15th, 2012
3:30 pm

True leadoff men / center fielders are hard to find. I think this is one time where you pay up. Agree on the age issue, but I don’t see anyone else giving him seven guaranteed either. Fortunately he’s not a reckless player and does seem to take good care of himself so maybe it’s not as big a risk as we think. I’d be satisfied with five years plus multiple options and a buyout at $16MM or less per. Teams draft and draft trying to get a guy who produces like Bourn – hold you nose and do the deal.

Heisenberg

August 15th, 2012
3:30 pm

You are correct Brian. Just some quick calculations to see what the affect would be. It would take 6 or 7 guys to all slump over the final weeks of season so it is safe to say a batting title is not gonna happen.

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

August 15th, 2012
3:31 pm

TennPaul McCann_ .133 .278 .133 0.411 .200 ___20

Maybe you shoulda just left that one out…

:(

DCBrave33

August 15th, 2012
3:31 pm

Well, if the Giants play all of their remaining games, yes, Melky will be one short. Here is to hoping that the Giants DO NOT have a rain out in a city that they dont make up at the end of the season because it is irrelavent to the postseason picture! (If they only played 161 games his plate appearances per game would go up, thereby qualifying him).

Dawglasville

August 15th, 2012
3:32 pm

Whoops. Should read before posting. At least I can join the chorus of laughter. Go Braves.

JoshTown

August 15th, 2012
3:32 pm

DOB, with ya on every point today. Bourn is too valuable not to make a serious go of it in the off season. If we can make it deep into the playoffs, it may help sway his mind a little. Also, Audience by Cold War Kids rocks my face.

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:32 pm

Melky would still win the batting title if no one hit over .345652. McCutchen is well on his way to making it a moot point.

Braint

August 15th, 2012
3:33 pm

Hey Melky! (grabbing my lower belt a la Melky and Blanco when they were in ATL last month) Suck it!

Murph

August 15th, 2012
3:34 pm

Yep, that’s official. Melky finished one plate appearance short of qualifying for the batting title.

Is this true?? If so, this story just gets better and better. Love it!

ragnar danneskjold

August 15th, 2012
3:35 pm

Bourn has been a great player for the Braves, but if Wren has a brain he is looking to replace him. Andrelton Simmons looks like the lead-off for 2013, and we could do a lot worse than Heyward in centerfield and Johnson in right. But with Prado moving to third, we will need another outfielder. I’d like to see Hunter Pence in a Brave uniform.

Braves Fan

August 15th, 2012
3:35 pm

Melky got suspended for 50 games. I KNEW something was up.

Sign Bourne to a multiyear deal. The guy is worth it.

ragnar danneskjold

August 15th, 2012
3:35 pm

If we would like a doper with a bad attitude, Melky Cabrera is likely to be available.

BRVFAN_N_JESUP

August 15th, 2012
3:36 pm

I’m betting someone gives Bourn $20mil per year. The Dodgers, Phils, Nats, Yanks, or Sox are gonna break the bank and the Braves can’t go there. that is why I say let him go, sign Prado to a reasonable deal now and then we will have the funds to keep Freeman, Heyward and Kimbrell. I’d rather have those 4 than Bourn and only 2 of those and i think that is the choice the Bravos have.

TennesseePaul

August 15th, 2012
3:36 pm

So a guy who had a career line of .275/.331/.398/.729 suddenly hit .346/.390/.516/.906 and we all find out he’s jucing? I just find that hard to believe.

cricket

August 15th, 2012
3:36 pm

Brian from SC

August 15th, 2012
3:36 pm

Murphy, like Melky’s season, it is too good to be true. MLB adds hypothetical ABs for those who finish short of the qualification mark, so it’s still possible for him to win a batting title.

He has 501 PAs…assuming the Giants play 162, he would need 502 to qualify. They’ll just add one hitless AB to his total, which has a miniscule effect. For batting title purposees, he is 159 for 460 (as opposed to his real line of 159 for 459).

Braves Fan

August 15th, 2012
3:36 pm

I feel a lot better about Frank Wren now. I was shaking my head when Melky was doing well.

DAP

August 15th, 2012
3:37 pm

pace So – they paid 10M LAST YEAR in order to free up money for 2012 – can’t count that 10M for Lowe in ‘extra’ salary coming off the payroll.

actually, how the braves are accounting that is a mystery. they dont give specific details like that. so, your assertion is just as likely to be false as DOB’s. actually, scratch that. since DOB actually speaks with team officials, its more likely thats hes right.

Juan

August 15th, 2012
3:38 pm

Pace

August 15th, 2012
3:26 pm
From the Liberty Media 2011 Annual Report:

Two different thing one is the Closing end of the year Book for Liberty end in 12/31
Baseball season end for the Braves in Oct 2011,,,,,The Lowes Mney was for the 2012 Season that was pay to the Indian In Nov 2011 when we did the Trade

Metro Coach

August 15th, 2012
3:38 pm

The only other viable leadoff option is Simmons, and he doesn’t have enough of a major league track record to really know exactly how he’d perform in that role. Heyward has the speed, but if his power continues to improve then he’ll be wasted at the top even if his OBP improves. Should be a fun offseason, if your idea of fun is hanging on every rumor put out by the baseball scribes in hopes that one of them turns out in the Braves’ favor.

cricket

August 15th, 2012
3:38 pm

If we can make it deep into the playoffs, it may help sway his mind a little.

not if someone else is offering 25/30 mil more and i won’t blame him at all

TennesseePaul

August 15th, 2012
3:38 pm

Melky would still win the batting title if no one hit over .345652. McCutchen is well on his way to making it a moot point.

He’d have to be given ofers the rest of the year to win that…..

just looked. Damn that guy already has the qualifying number of PA’s. Well, 1 shy. That’s crazy.

Pace

August 15th, 2012
3:39 pm

DAP – nope – that info is straight from the Liberty Media 2011 Annual Report – which is probably more reliable. I quoted the paragraph it came from.

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