Bossman Junior, El Oso Blanco & other matters

While we wait for a decision as soon as this week from the guy with the second-best nickname currently associated with a Brave or potential Brave, free-agent center fielder B.J. “Bossman Junior” Upton, let’s consider the ongoing winter-ball performance in Venezuala by the guy with the even better nickname, Evan Gattis, aka “El Oso Blanco” (The White Bear).

Gattis, aka "El Oso Blanco" (The White Bear), in a recent Venezuelan Winter League game.

Gattis, aka "El Oso Blanco" (The White Bear), in a recent Venezuelan Winter League game. Notice the lack of batting gloves. (AP photo)

(Coincidentally and apropos of nothing, there are El Oso Blanco supermarkets in Miami and the Tampa area, where Bossman Junior has spent his major league career until now with the Rays.)

While we’re on the subject, just imagine a Bossman Junior and El Oso Blanco (along with a J-Hey) in the same outfield some day. Hey, it might not be so far-fetched, considering the Braves and Phillies are believed to be frontrunners for Upton, and considering Gattis is once again answering the latest challenge before him by continuing to slug at a high rate against higher level competition than he’d previously faced.

In the Venezuelan League — generally considered to be the equivalent or close to a Triple-A league — Gattis hit another dramatic ninth-inning homer Friday to lift the Zulia Eagles to a 3-1 win and into first place.

Despite a recent two-week slump, Gattis was hitting .275 with eight homers, 26 RBIs, a .336 OBP and .504 slugging percentage (.839 OPS) in 34 games before Sunday, and his mostly Latin teammates gave him the El Oso Blanco nickname for his size, power and ethnicity.

Zulia fans have also grown fond of the thick-armed American, an old-school ballplayer who wears no batting gloves.

The catcher-turned-left fielder has been used mostly as a DH until in the Venezuelan season, but played more in the field recently. He’s teamed with fellow Braves minor leaguer Ernesto Mejia to give Zulia arguably the best power-hitting duo in the winter league.

Both ranked among the league’s top five in home runs and RBIs, and the top 10 in slugging percentage.

Mejia, a first baseman who has hit .296 with 69 doubles, 50 homers and 191 RBIs over the past two seasons in Double-A and Triple-A, has continued to crush baseballs this winter in South America, where he had a .345 average and was tied for the league league in homers (10) and RBIs (28) before Sunday.

Mejia had a .368 OBP and .600 slugging percentage, albeit with 42 strikeouts and only four walks in 145 at-bats before Sunday. Mejia had 132 strikeouts with 34 walks in 514 at-bats at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012, down from his career-high 156 strikeouts (with 58 walks) in 499 at-bats in Double-A in 2011.

Three things that don’t work in Mejia’s favor in terms of major league viability: His age (he’ll be 27 next week), his propensity for swings-and-misses, and, at least as it pertains to his big-league chances with the Braves, his position — dude doesn’t play any position except first base, and the Braves have a real good first baseman as you’re probably aware, 23-year-old Freddie Freeman, who won’t even be arb-eligible for another year).

Mejia has toiled eight seasons and more than 700 games in the minors without a sniff of the major leagues, but was added to the Braves’ 40-man roster this winter. That’s a good sign for him future. It says the Braves knew he’d likely be snatched in the Rule 5 draft if they didn’t protect him, and that they felt there was good reason not to let that happen.

Upton could make his decision this week, with Atlanta and Philly believed to be frontrunners for his services. (AP photo)

Upton could make his decision this week, with Atlanta and Philly believed to be frontrunners for his services. (AP photo)

The Venezuela native signed with the Braves in ’02 and has spent all but one season of his pro career with the Braves (he also played in high-A and Double-A with the Royals in 2010), but not until the past couple of seasons did he start to really look like he might have legit big-league potential.

International League mangers voted him the best power-hitting prospect in that league after he hit .296 with a .347 OBP and 24 homers in 2012 at Gwinnett and led the league in RBIs (92), hits (152) and total bases (258).

“I think we were impressed with just his overall development as a hitter, showing more power,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “He’s becoming a more prefessional hitter. He got our attention enough that we felt we should put him on the major league roster and see if he could take it to next level.”

Whether as a backup first baseman and bat off the bench, or a potential trade piece, Mejia has pounded his way to relevance among big-league decision makers.

Meanwhile, the younger Gattis – he turned 26 in August – is considered a legit strong prospect by the Braves, despite his age. There aren’t many, if any, 26-year-old prospects in baseball, but there also aren’t any other current up-and-comers with a story as unusual as that of Gattis.

If you missed his story last spring, he’s the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Texan who was out of baseball nearly four years after walking away from a Texas A&M scholarship and going on a personal quest of sorts to find deeper meaning or purpose in life while traveling the western U.S. and working odd jobs. I chronicled his colorful past in this story during spring training.

He got a non-roster invitation to big-league camp last spring after racking up 22 homers and a .986 OPS in just 88 games at Class-A Rome in 2011. After getting off to a blazing start at Class-A Lynchburg in 2012 — .385 with nine homers, 29 RBIs and a bloated .821 slugging percentage in 21 games — he missed nearly half a season with a wrist injury soon after his Double-A promotion, where the Braves had moved him primarily to left field in order to hasten his potential path to the majors.

Mejia has followed up his impressive Triple-A season by tying for the Venezuelan Winter League lead in both home runs and RBIs through Saturday. (AP photo)

Mejia has followed up his impressive Triple-A season by tying for the Venezuelan Winter League lead in both home runs and RBIs through Saturday. (AP photo)

“He was on the verge of doing some amazing things, putting up some serious numbers,” Double-A manager Aaron Holbert said of Gattis, who struggled initially to regain his stroke after returning, but still ended up with nine homers, 37 RBIs and an .865 OPS in 49 games at Mississippi. “It was unfortunate he got injured, but hopefully he’ll start right off next year and get back to work and see where it lands him.”

Gattis made Baseball America’s Double-A postseason All-Star team despite missing much of the season. He was the only Braves minor league to make a BA minor-league All-Star team in any classification.

When someone mentioned Gattis is a great story because of his background, Holbert said, “He really is. He’s got some amazing power. He did a good job in left field. We put him out in left field to see if that could somewhat speed up his progression to the major leagues, and he did a fair job.”

Despite his middle-linebacker size, Holbert said Gattis was athletic enough to play left field.

“He is. He did a good job,” he said. “He comes in on the ball well. Does what he’s supposed to do. Hits his cut-off man, which is all we can really ask.”

Gattis hasn’t caught much since early in the 2012 season, but continued to work on his catch-and-throw skills during workouts or batting practice in an effort to stay sharp behind the plate. Braves catcher Brian McCann is expected to miss 2-4 weeks and possibly more at the beginning of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, and as of now, newly signed backup catcher Gerald Laird stands as the only sure thing with the Braves’ catching situation.

With that in mind, there’s a possibility that Braves catcher prospect Christian Bethancourt or Gattis could possibly get a chance to play early in the season. Bethancourt also missed much of last season with injuries and struggled against Double-A pitching, so Gattis might have an edge over him if the Braves decided to turn to an inexperienced catcher to back up Laird until McCann returns to the starting role.

If not, Gattis might also get consideration for a backup outfield/pinch-hitting job at some point. His power commands attention, and so far he’s shown he can hit at every level to which he’s been promoted.

• Bossman Junior: In case anyone thought I was kidding about B.J. Upton’s nickname, I wasn’t. His name is Melvin Emmanuel, but goes by B.J., “Bossman Junior,” a reference to his father, Manny Upton, who was known as Bossman.

By the way, remember when a bunch of the Rays wore Mohawk haircuts during the ’08 postseason? Bossman Junior started that.

It was during that postseason when I, like plenty of others, watched B.J. and thought, this guy is the next superstar in baseball. I mean, he was unbelievably good in the first two rounds of that postseason, collecting a triple and three homers in four games against the White Sox in the division series; hitting .321 with a double, four homers, 11 RBIs and a .394 OBP in a seven-game ALCS win vs. Boston, and stealing four bases in the five-game World Series loss to Philly.

Upton hit .273 with a .383 OBP, nine homers and a career-high 44 stolen bases in that ’08 season, the first of three consecutive seasons with more than 40 steals. This after hitting .300 with 24 homers and a career-high .386 OBP in his first full season in 2007.

So what’s happened since? Well, he didn’t become the next superstar in baseball, although he does have a package of speed and power that’s uncommon these days.

Upton, 28, hasn’t made an All-Star team or won any significant award, hasn’t finished in the AL’s top 10 in offensive WAR since his 10th-place in ’07, and hasn’t ranked among AL leaders in any major offensive category more than once except stolen bases (after 44, 42 and 42 from 2008-2010, he had 36 in ’11 and 31 in ’12) and strikeouts.

He ranked among the AL’s top six in strikeouts for six consecutive seasons, and is 40th among active players with 1,020 strikeouts (in 3568 at-bats), including more than 160 in each of the past three seasons.

Upton is believed to be considering offers from the Braves and Phillies, and could decide before the Dec. Dec. 3-6 Winter Meetings in Nashville. Cincinnati has also expressed interest and Washington might also be involved, but it’s believed the Nationals are more interested in Braves free agent Michael Bourn and don’t feel it’s imperative to add a veteran center fielder at all this winter.

The Braves made Upton their top center-field target after it became apparent that Bourn’s contract demands via agent Scott Boras would likely exceed what they had in mind and that the Bourn situation could drag on past the Winter Meetings, as Boras free-agent negotiations often do. They haven’t officially ruled out Bourn, but the Braves have been operating under the assumption that he’ll play elsewhere.

As for B.J. Upton, his pluses: He’s increased his home-run totals each of the past four seasons, to a career-high 28 in 2012. He has 51 homers and 159 RBIs over the past two seasons and could give the Braves the needed right-handed presence in their lineup – which they thought they were getting when they traded for Dan Uggla after the 2010 season.

Upton is also a quality center fielder, though not as good as Bourn. (His arm is easily better than Bourn’s, but otherwise Bourn is the superior defender.)

The negatives, as I see them: In recent years Upton has sacrificed contact for power. His OBP slipped from .386 and .383 in his first two full seasons to a woeful .298 in 2012.

He had a career-high 169 strikeouts with a career-low 45 walks in ’12. The Braves had three of the NL’s top 10 strikeout leaders last season in Uggla (168), Bourn (155) and Jason Heyward (152), and would be replacing one of those (Bourn) with someone who struck out even more.

But if they don’t feel like they can or want to pay the going rate to bring back 30-year-old Bourn and risk his speed diminishing in the latter years of a long-term contract, and if free agent Angel Pagan can’t be lured away from San Francisco at a reasonable rate, it’s tough to argue that there are better options than Upton (and no, I don’t consider Josh Hamilton and his baggage and salary somewhere between $20 million and $25 million annually in a long-term contract to be a better option for a team with a payroll below $100 million).

That is, unless the Braves could trade for Denard Span to play center field and then get a big-time power hitter for left field. That might be difficult, given the talent the Twins are reportedly asking for in any trade for Span. However, it might be more a case of the Twins aren’t ready to trade yet, but when they are Span could be available for a reasonable return.

But if they don’t get B.J., the Braves might have to consider meeting the demands of either the Twins or Rockies (Dexter Fowler) in a trade or blow away the Giants’ offer to Pagan. Personally, I think Fowler’s disparity in his home-road splits is a bit too severe to give up considerable talent for the Milton High graduate.

If not Upton, then the Braves could look to fill center at a lower salary than the $15 million or so that he will probably get – Span is under contract for two more seasons at an affordable $4.75 million in 2013 and $6.5 million in 2014, with a $9 million team option for 2015; Pagan might command upwards of $10 million annually – and instead spend more in left field.

Known more for his offense, B.J. Upton has good range and athleticism in center field. (AP photo)

Known more for his offense, B.J. Upton has good range and athleticism in center field. (AP photo)

Some compelling names are available for left field, but will cost multiple prospects in return. The Braves haven’t and aren’t expected to talk to the Royals about super outfield prospect Wil Myers, whom Kansas City would only trade if they get back a top pitcher (not a pitching prospect). But the Royals’ Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon is also available, and if the Braves have the werewithal to put together a trade package that includes pitching, as well as pay the $31.5 million that Gordon is owed over the next three seasons.

Then there is Upton’s young brother Justin, who finished fourth in the NL MVP balloting in 2011. He’s available, Dbacks GM Kevin Towers has said, but it seems doubtful the Braves, unless they really get desperate, would be willing to part with the package of multiple top prospects and/or young players it would take to get that Upton. Even then, the Braves wouldn’t trade Andrelton Simmons, the player that Arizona covets. No way.

Among other free-agent possibilities for left field that I’m asked about, the Braves haven’t expressed interest in Nick Swisher and it seems unlikely they would, but I do get the impression Cody Ross could be a fallback option if some other things don’t work out for the Braves.

• Juan Francisco’s winter: Don’t forget about Juan Francisco. The Braves third baseman has been impressive this winter in the Dominican Republic, batting .333 (25-for-75) with four homers, 17 RBIs and a .386 OBP and .946 OPS in 20 games for Licey. He hit an epic homer in a game last week.

Braves hitting coach Greg Walker told him after the season that he must continue to work on the swing changes that Francisco worked on for much of the 2012 season, designed to eliminate the severe turn and dip that the left-handed hitter previously had with his left knee in mid-swing.

The Braves also told Francisco he needed to be in better shape when he reported to spring training than he was last year with Cincinnati. The Reds traded him to the Braves in the last week of spring training, and at times Francisco showed his immense raw power and serviceable skills at third base.

Wren said Francisco hired a personal trainer this winter and is checking in with the Braves frequently to update them on his progress.

The team’s plan all along has been to replace Chipper Jones by moving Martin Prado to third base full-time in 2012 and getting another left fielder. But that plan isn’t set in stone, and Prado has proven he can excel while splitting time at multiple positions if necessary.

Thus, it would behoove Francisco to finish off a strong winter-ball season and show up for camp in good shape, ready to compete for a possible job. Keep in mind he’s out of minor-league options, which is why the Reds traded him last spring instead of sending him down.

• Let’s close with the incomparable Otis Redding’s cover version of a folk standard, which you can hear by clicking here.

otis-bw

“DOWN IN THE VALLEY” as performed by Otis Redding

Down in the valley, ha
In the valley so low,
Hang your hair over your shoulder
And you can hear the four winds blow, now, oh my

Now can’t you hear the wind blow my love,
Can’t you hear the wind blow,
We’re down in the valley, ha
In the valley so low, now, ha

Now have you ever been lonely, lonely, ha
Now have you ever been sad
Did you ever really need some one, oh my
Who really needed

Gotta, gotta, gotta, ha, too much, ooh yeah
Help me baby, gotta get the groove
So too much, ooh yeah

It was down in the valley
In the valley so low
It was when I held you so tight
How can I ever let you go, go, go, go, ooh now

Now it was down, down, down, down, down, down, down
In the valley so low, ooh my
When I held you so tight, now
How can I ever let you go, now

Ah, good God
Too much, too much, too much groovin’ now
Too much, gotta
Down in the valley
We’re down in the valley
So low, so low, we can’t go no further
We’re down, we’re down too much
Gotta groovin’, groovin’, groovin’
Gotta, we can’t, we can’t, we can’t, we can’t, we can’t, we can’t, we can’t
Go no further, now
Gotta, gotta, good God almighty we gotta, gotta
Groovin’, groovin’, groovin’
Too much grippem
Watch it, watch it, watch it
Gotta, a good time we’re havin’
We gotta, gotta keep on, keep on groovin’

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

6,377 comments Add your comment

richbrave

November 25th, 2012
9:59 pm

Thanx for the new article blog-meister.

Jim

November 25th, 2012
10:04 pm

Justin probably didn’t get the Bossman Junior nickname because he’s the younger Upton. B.J. is three years older.

TheOnlyBravesFan

November 25th, 2012
10:08 pm

Justin isnt the elder Upton…

Kyle

November 25th, 2012
10:09 pm

Isn’t BJ older than Justin?

Jim

November 25th, 2012
10:09 pm

Bj is the older brother I believe

Amber Girl

November 25th, 2012
10:09 pm

Jim, Do you think we will land Upton. If you do,any chance of getting brother?

Nowhere man

November 25th, 2012
10:11 pm

A new blog yeaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Jim

November 25th, 2012
10:12 pm

I give the Braves the slight edge over the Phillies for BJ. Justin would be highly unlikely for this year as the Braves still need a leadoff hitter

Griff

November 25th, 2012
10:12 pm

DOB, I hate to nitpick, but you keep referring to Justin as the Elder Brother. He is 3 years younger than BJ.

Steve

November 25th, 2012
10:14 pm

Thanks for the updates good sir.

Braves have plenty of options and if we miss on all of them we still have some good talent. I would rather give Gattis, Schafer, and Francisco chances than burden our payroll with overpaid and underperforming players.

Upton’s price is still based entirely on ‘could be’. So you are paying an amoutn equal to probably 95% of his potential and that is just too much of a risk given he is playing closer to someone that should earn less than half of what he is asking. It’s crazy that teams are in a bidding war for him.

Amber Girl

November 25th, 2012
10:14 pm

Thanks Jim. See you tomorrow. Good nite from New South Wales Go Braves!!!

Michael

November 25th, 2012
10:14 pm

Keep prado in LF, with Francisco’s success in winter ball all the more reason to let him have 3rd base, at least until he proves he cant do it (which I think he can do it)

TheOnlyBravesFan

November 25th, 2012
10:17 pm

I wouldnt mind it if the Braves signed Hey longterm this winter, with some big money at the end, but I’d feel better about waiting until next season, give him a chance to improve some more. Sure, the potential is there, but he hasn’t quite gotten back to being as good as he was in 2010.

tmoneylove

November 25th, 2012
10:19 pm

DOB –thank you. Alex Gordon intrigues me quite a bit. Would the Braves sign BJ Upton and trade for Alex Gordon,too? Do they have enough money to do that? BJ Upton sounds horrifying to me, but Alex Gordon seems like a fit with the KC connection.

tmoneylove

November 25th, 2012
10:19 pm

DOB –thank you. Alex Gordon intrigues me quite a bit. Would the Braves sign BJ Upton and trade for Alex Gordon,too? Do they have enough money to do that? BJ Upton sounds horrifying to me, but Alex Gordon seems like a fit with the KC connection.

Nowhere man

November 25th, 2012
10:19 pm

Ken thanks for your review of the stone concert. Wish I could have been there. It’s only rock and roll but I like like it yes I do.

Sometimes you just can’t get no satisfaction.

But other times it’s a gas gas gas

Just waiting on a friend.

Because She’s so cold.

I need someone to come to my emotional rescue.

Maybe a girl with faraway eyes.

I’ll never be your beast of burden.

Just start me up.

I’m not the only one with mixed emotions.

Has anybody seen my baby.

It will soon be Ruby Tuesday.

I see a red door and I want it painted black.

Now she’s under my thumb.

Hope this doesn’t turn out to be Doom and Gloom

And I can get one more shot.

austin

November 25th, 2012
10:20 pm

BJ is actually the older one…

J

November 25th, 2012
10:21 pm

Hey is more likely to improve than to regress and thus will command a bigger contract. The sooner they lock him up, the more team friendly will be the deal.

richbrave

November 25th, 2012
10:21 pm

On the blog that never sleeps, here’s a report from

SOUTH OF THE BORDER

DOMINICA

EASTERN BULLS

Lead-off CF JOSE CONSTANZA [.300 BA] 0-4, 1 SO.

LHRP JOSE LUGO [0.00 ERA] 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 1 BB, 0 SO.

LUGO remains unscathed by opposition bats this winter. He’s been out 14 times now, 9.2 IP.

LICEY TIGERS

3B JUAN FRANCISCO [.316 BA] 0-4, 1 BB.

Patience and SO’s are battling for supremacy in FRANCISCO’s world at the present. It’s a delicate balance between drawing walks, not striking out, and getting hits. Hopefully in finding bat discipline, JUAN doesn’t lose that nasty hitting edge he’s so keen on.

PUERTO RICO

PONCE LIONS

PH CHRIS GARCIA [.263 BA] 0-1, 1 SO.

VENEZUELA

CARACAS LIONS

RF JOSH KROEGER [.291 BA] 1-5, 1 RBI [9], 1 BB.

ZULIA EAGLES

Late game.

ORIENTE STARS

LHRP DUSTY HUGHES [H 1, 0.00 ERA] 1.0 IP, perfection.

DUSTY’s been out four times now, 2.1 IP.

richbrave

November 25th, 2012
10:33 pm

Bye-bye MATTY D and ‘SKEE. Thanx for the memories.

jaybob

November 25th, 2012
10:35 pm

Is that really a pic of Gattis or is it Ernesto?

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
10:43 pm

BJ can add another 30 points to that OPB and still maintain the power.

If he goes 30/30 and adds that he will be worth the $$$$$$$$$$ in today’s market. I don’t care if he hit a sub .250 as long as he has a bit better OBP.

I do not mind giving Gattis a chance but we really do not have any idea what he does at this level. His story might be storybook — who knows. DOB’s articles are positive and interesting, his AFL performance interesting but I will get hyped about him if I see some good at the MLB level.

Last yr Simmons was our prize. Could it be Gattis this yr —?????????? That is why you play the season. I wish him the best. Can only help us if he is the real thing.

braveslifer

November 25th, 2012
10:51 pm

Great news on Francisco. Hope that he keeps it up. The Royals seem to be putting their pieces together to make a run at the playoffs the next couple of years. I agree that in the past it would seem like Alex Gordon would be the one they move (due to salary) but if they keep making moves to win now i.e. signing ervin santana and jeremy guthrie why would they trade their biggest producer (6 War last year)?

Looking at sickels list from last year they have 3 B+ prospects and Myers who is an A-. I would think that if they are win now they keep Myers and Gordon. The trade they make for a frontline starter would include Butler, cain or jarrod dyson, and/or one or more of their B+ prospects. That would be a very decent proposal for a front line starter and maintain what it appears to be their win now mentality.

braveslifer

November 25th, 2012
10:51 pm

Great news on Francisco. Hope that he keeps it up. The Royals seem to be putting their pieces together to make a run at the playoffs the next couple of years. I agree that in the past it would seem like Alex Gordon would be the one they move (due to salary) but if they keep making moves to win now i.e. signing ervin santana and jeremy guthrie why would they trade their biggest producer (6 War last year)?

Looking at sickels list from last year they have 3 B+ prospects and Myers who is an A-. I would think that if they are win now they keep Myers and Gordon. The trade they make for a frontline starter would include Butler, cain or jarrod dyson, and/or one or more of their B+ prospects. That would be a very decent proposal for a front line starter and maintain what it appears to be their win now mentality.

richbrave

November 25th, 2012
10:57 pm

I thought for a moment that pix was FRANCISCO, but isn’t he LH’d?

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:06 pm

Stop with the annoying kool-aid garbage…

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:09 pm

Tom Boswell in the Washington Post on the Natinals:


But on the big issues — re-sign free agent Adam LaRoche, sign Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton, go after star starter Zach Greinke — don’t do any of it.

Okay, make one exception. If the Nats can somehow get LaRoche to sign a two-year deal, that’d be sweet. Otherwise, know when to hold ’em.

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:11 pm

Good grief – 4th and 2 and that happens? We need more byes…

Klaus

November 25th, 2012
11:19 pm

Gattis and Ahmed both will be traded between Dec and July. Gattis is a DH/4th OF for the AL. Too bulky.

Ahmed has no spot in ATL unless they can unload Uggla at the deadline and Ahmed moves rapidly up though the system.

I still think Wren will make a run at Justin for LF. It is just too tantalizing given his age and upside.

Delgado or Julio T, Ahmed, Cunningham and Gilmartin should get a return phone call.

Needles

November 25th, 2012
11:19 pm

Simmons? I don’t knooow. I heard Wren is talking to Texas about acquiring the services of one Elvis Andrus.

Seriously, is Wil Myers available? They want a starter that’s ready to go? Give them Hudson.

Klaus

November 25th, 2012
11:21 pm

Myers is another Trout or seems to be. Think Medlen or Minor, Gilmartin, Ahmed, Cunningham etc. Justin Upton would be cheaper and he wont be cheap.

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:21 pm

LENTZ – you are lucky DOB has not noticed you – perhaps you should exhibit less dip-stickiness…

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:22 pm

I agree with Mc Dermott about the KC Royals and the probability that they will go on the cheap on Reed Johnson.

I don’t know what kind of bench and 4th OF they will have this yr but its clear that they are not spending for quality veteran bench help.

Maybe they are going on a plan of hope that Gattis, Mejia and Schafer can be useful back ups.

I can see FW planning on Schafer being the 4th outfielder to start the yr.

At least we are not the Royals —— at least not yet. A reasonable 50/50 chance they might be five plus yrs down the road.

Remember if our payroll stays flat and everyone else goes up — we are not gonna be in the middle down the road. Simple math.

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:24 pm

Simmons is not going anywhere. That is one you can bank on it.

braveslifer

November 25th, 2012
11:25 pm

Mike: “Keep drinking the kool-aid. Just dont be surprised when Francisco and Gattis turn out to be what they will always be: fringe prospects.”

I’d rather be drinking kool-aid then be a perpetual pessimist like you seem to be judging from a week’s worth of your comments. When looking at players try to consider what the Braves gave up to get them. The Braves gave up Hoover to get Francisco. If Francisco floops and never plays again one could make an argument saying the trade is already in the Braves favor. As for Gattis john sickels gave him a C+/B- grade less then a month ago. Pretty good for a minor league signing. Or you could just complain about everything. Someone get this dude a Snickers bar.

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:27 pm

Ahmed has no spot in ATL unless they can unload Uggla at the deadline and Ahmed moves rapidly up though the system.

@Klaus — Ahmed is future insurance in case they do not sign Prado who will be FA bound after 2014.

And the way things are going Prado will command a 4 yr 50 mil deal assuming all things are the same the next 2 yrs — maybe more. who knows what the market is.

Klaus

November 25th, 2012
11:29 pm

Thx Mike.

Fingers crossed.

ncgary

November 25th, 2012
11:29 pm

well since im loaded up om the meds i will just say i trust the braves brain triust……………
lol

go braves
nite all
another day completely off of oxygen and good readings all day
either that riultek is darn good or miracles are happening

ChattTownBrian

November 25th, 2012
11:29 pm

This should be a fun week of news and probably a signing by our Braves. I think Upton is a Brave by Wednesday. They’ll soon after sign or trade for a LF.

Needles

November 25th, 2012
11:30 pm

Seriously, is Wil Myers available? They want a starter that’s ready to go? Give them Hudson.

on second thought, change that…give them any starter they want except Medlin – he’s just way to much fun to watch. The Braves have slim pickin in the minors cept pitching. Maybe some will turn into something but I don’t see much on the farm.

Let Gattis Play!

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:31 pm

Actually Schafer has room to imprve so as long as he accepts what he is which is a speed and OBP guy, he can improve to where he can be a 4th OF.

Is he mature enough to realize what he is — that is the good question.

As for Gattis — I want to see him in ST — I will give him a chance. He earned in the AFL this winter but I am not annointing him anything yet. He has to earn it. Same with Schafer.

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:32 pm

Keep up the good work NC Gary.

cabravesfan

November 25th, 2012
11:32 pm

Huddy is a 10/5 guy- he would not accept a trade to the Royals (not that the Braves would trade him)

ncgary

November 25th, 2012
11:33 pm

you know if the free agents are highway robbery maybe its best to start the season with the youngsters and trade as we get deeper in

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:34 pm

We need Hudson for three more yrs after ‘13.

He has that much left . And he will give a ometown discount as long as the Braves do not disrespect him.

Klaus

November 25th, 2012
11:35 pm

Ahmed is a good SS with potential 2B skills vs. 3B. If Prado goes the Braves will be looking in the FA market or a trade for a 3B IMHO.

He does have the speed factor but so did Bourn and Fredi didn’t really use it strategically.

Ahmed is getting press and promos from the FO bc the market for SS is not very good and everyone knows AZ wants a SS for Upton. :)

It is either a nice coincidence or well executed PR that the Braves have a hot SS prospect and Justin is on the block.

Bobby H

November 25th, 2012
11:35 pm

The Braves have slim pickin in the minors…

Loved him in “Blazing Saddles”.

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:36 pm

If Hudson chooses Philly — wonder how many will come on here disappointed and critical given that for the most part the blog has been pretty much aganst this prospective sign.

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:36 pm

Whao — Bad typo — I meant BJ Upton. Sorry, its late.

kenhotlanta

November 25th, 2012
11:39 pm

Nowhere man: Good stuff. I would love to see Mick Jagger and Mary J. Blige sing “Gimme Shelter”.

ncgary

November 25th, 2012
11:39 pm

thanks disgusted
still wear my bipap at nite though got it on now

Needles

November 25th, 2012
11:40 pm

The Braves gave up Hoover to get Francisco. If Francisco floops and never plays again one could make an argument saying the trade is already in the Braves favor.

Yes, one could make an argument. Like you can argue a Yugo is fancy foreign sports car.

I don’t think Francisco’ll fail though. All you have to do nowawadaze is hit 250 with a little sluggo. After a couple early bad games, he made some nice plays at third. If he’d of started against St Loooie we’d of been drowning in the bubbly all the way.

Disgusted

November 25th, 2012
11:42 pm

I disagree with you Mike Mc Dermott in that I do see Uggla bouncing back and as for Mc Cann, well that is a wait and see how he does after the surgery.

I saw some positive signs on Uggla late in the yr after a 250 AB career slump.

As for the moves in left and CF, have to wait and see for now.

I still like the Uggla trade. Time to move on from the bad ‘12. His track record in the past is there. Antoher yr like this and then I say enough is enough.

kenhotlanta

November 25th, 2012
11:42 pm

Where is the “we tried to trade Simmons to Texas for Elvis A” coming from? That’s a ridiculous thought.

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:42 pm

Paul – I have long been on the record here as hating the phrase which celebrates the death of many, many foolish people. Hoping for the best for your team is twisted into a sad, pathetic idiom by you and your ilk – but go ahead and celebrate the death of Congressman Paul Ryan, as you have often celebrated the Columbine massacre in your sick and twisted way…

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:43 pm

More Boz:

Rizzo calls himself “the crazy guy who usually wants to sign a free agent or make a trade.” Not this time. “In past winters, we’ve jumped out quickly” with signings, he said. “This time around, we don’t have any pressing needs. We’ll probably see where the landscape is after the winter meetings.

“Davey and I like our players a lot. If money were free, we’d get Greinke, Bourn and two more closers,” said Rizzo, naming two players that, when you hear them rumored with the Nats, are probably non-starters. “But when the rubber hits the road in ’14-’15-’16, you’re going to have to pay your own players. Sometimes, you’re better with known commodities.”

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:44 pm

Signing Greinke would cripple multiple future moves. And Bourn, a speed and defense center fielder, isn’t worth a $75 million-or-more risk.

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:46 pm

If hindsight shows that Johnson’s sunset trip actually needed the help of a $100 million free agent, then his ’13 ride may not be so pleasant. But, after having Lasik surgery on his left eye in a few days, he plans to see it all 20/20.

“For my last year at least I’ll be able to see it when these umpires screw up,” he said.

Klaus

November 25th, 2012
11:47 pm

Mike hopefully ATL is shooting for great versus good enough. With 25mm in extra TV money coming in 2014 (even if Liberty holds some back) gives Wren more room to stretch even a year before the money comes in.

Venice Jim

November 25th, 2012
11:48 pm

A pleasant good night to all – I can go to sleep with visions of the Giants and Blue Devils pulling off good wins this weekend…

Klaus

November 25th, 2012
11:53 pm

Uggla presses. He pressed in year 1 to earn his new deal and then he pressed in 2012 to make up for a terrible 2011.

With Chipper gone a lot of guys are going to try to do too much (esp out of the gate) and Uggla will be at the top of that list.

Mac and Uggla are coin tosses at this point and that is probably not a stretch to say.

If Wren understands these risks he will try to load for bear in the OF so Uggla won’t feel the need to press and Mac can ease back in and perform more effectively.

Mike McDermont

November 25th, 2012
11:55 pm

Disgusted, I dont hold your optimism on Dan Uggla. Dude has looked lost during significant stretches during the past two years. If you take away his 30 something game hitting streak during the summer of 2011, his stats are pretty awful in the 2 years he’s been an Atlanta Brave. We’re not paying him to draw 100 walks. We’re paying him to bash the ball and put fear into the opposing pitchers..which is something I have seen little of during the past 2 years.

McCann’s injuries the past two years, along with his struggles once he comes back from injuries…is a signal of a trend. His body simply cannot hold up to the demands of catching 130-135 games a year…something he has to be able to do if he is going to be worth the $15 mil a year he’ll probably be seeking when he’s a free agent after the 2013 season. We cannot afford to pay him that much if he cant catch 130-135 games a year over the next 5 years (because he cant play other positions like Buster Posey can….and he isnt as durable as Yadier Molina).

Look at Joey Mauer with the Twins. Injuries have wrecked havoc on him the past two years. The Twins are stuck paying him all that money.

richbrave

November 25th, 2012
11:58 pm

MIKE McDERMOTT:

Unfortunately, I haven’t kept strict tabs on how many games out of 34 GATTIS has played in the field, but including tonight, I’d say about 15. He went 1-4 [.274 BA].

Once again ERNESTO MEJIA did not play.

M1ke McDermon11

November 26th, 2012
12:03 am

,,Klaus, not much good having $25 mil in extra tv money coming in, if we dont spend it wisely.

M1ke McDermon11

November 26th, 2012
12:05 am

,.,.,…ncgary, I dont have the faith in Braves management that you have. Braves management has made a number of financial blunder moves over the past several years that have handcuffed our ability to improve the team.

So far this winter, I see nothing changing that analysis.

The Braves were lucky in 2012 with the emergence of Kris Medlen, who turned into Mr. Unbeatable the final two months of the season. In the final two months of the season, our record was 34-22. If you take away Medlen’s 11 starts (all of which the Braves won), our record was 23-22 in the non-Medlen started games the final 2 months of the season.

Relying on a superman like performance…isnt what I call a great game plan from Braves management. It’s called getting lucky.

David O'Brien

November 26th, 2012
12:19 am

Unfortunately, I haven’t kept strict tabs on how many games out of 34 GATTIS has played in the field, but including tonight, I’d say about 15. He went 1-4 [.274 BA].

Once again ERNESTO MEJIA did not play. — richbrave

Mejia has missed a couple of games because of a death in his family.

David O'Brien

November 26th, 2012
12:24 am

Mike hopefully ATL is shooting for great versus good enough. With 25mm in extra TV money coming in 2014 (even if Liberty holds some back) gives Wren more room to stretch even a year before the money comes in. — Klaus

1. Every team’s got the same extra money coming in next season, so that amount gives none an edge. 2. I asked Wren specifically about the extra $25M that teams will get next season and if that would permit the Braves to go over budget this year if needed. He said it had no effect because they don’t even know when they will see that money.

carney johnson

November 26th, 2012
12:36 am

how would yall rate juan francisco defensively? i’m not sure he got enough playing time to judge, but i wasnt that impressed. and i’m not sure (from what i’ve seen…as well as the stats) that he’ll ever really hit lefties. however, i think you could move him to LF and platoon him with a right-handed batter who mashes lefties. could be an affordable, solid option for LF.

ccrider

November 26th, 2012
1:16 am

DOB, I posted a alternate scenario yesterday, in case the Braves don’t get B.J. Upton. Arizona is rumored to be shopping Kubel to drop some salary for other needs. HE had a excellent season against RHed pitching, he shouldn’t cost a ton in trade because he is really a LEFTY Platoon guy. Signing Cody Ross(now that Boston has moved on) shouldn’t go but about 3 years at 6-7 million) and would make for a very effective platoon in LF(with the added benefit of Ross playing some CF, if necessary).
If, the braves could then trade for Span. then Ross and Reed Johnson could be used to give Kubel and Span breaks against tough LHed pitching.
Braves batting from the Left side: Span, Heyward, Kubel , McCann, Freeman, Francisco
Braves batting from the right side: Prado, Simmons, Ross, Johnson, Laird, Uggla, and perhaps Meija( Prado could be the backup SS, so the weak bat of Janish)
I just think, after the A’s showed the sucess of the platoon this year, I got a flashback of Otis and Deion in CF for the Braves and it worked quite well at other positions as well: Catcher and Whomever platooned with Klesko .

ccrider

November 26th, 2012
1:16 am

DOB, I posted a alternate scenario yesterday, in case the Braves don’t get B.J. Upton. Arizona is rumored to be shopping Kubel to drop some salary for other needs. HE had a excellent season against RHed pitching, he shouldn’t cost a ton in trade because he is really a LEFTY Platoon guy. Signing Cody Ross(now that Boston has moved on) shouldn’t go but about 3 years at 6-7 million) and would make for a very effective platoon in LF(with the added benefit of Ross playing some CF, if necessary).
If, the braves could then trade for Span. then Ross and Reed Johnson could be used to give Kubel and Span breaks against tough LHed pitching.
Braves batting from the Left side: Span, Heyward, Kubel , McCann, Freeman, Francisco
Braves batting from the right side: Prado, Simmons, Ross, Johnson, Laird, Uggla, and perhaps Meija( Prado could be the backup SS, so the weak bat of Janish)
I just think, after the A’s showed the sucess of the platoon this year, I got a flashback of Otis and Deion in CF for the Braves and it worked quite well at other positions as well: Catcher and Whomever platooned with Klesko .

jack

November 26th, 2012
1:22 am

Wish baseball time was here now. so ready

DS1

November 26th, 2012
1:28 am

Is this the “Dog Days of November?”

:wink:

DS1

November 26th, 2012
1:34 am

If you can’t get a real banger for LF, sometimes a really good platoon is not a bad thing.

And there are cheaper options out there than Cody Ross and Jason Kubel. (not that they are a bad combo)

There are a lot of potentially good platoon LF’ers that could be available.

If Bossman Junior goes to another team, I’d jump in and swoop up The Angel Pagan and then go for some platoon guys in LF, knowing that we potentially also have Juan Gone and El Oso Blanco to also help platoon.

John Tucker

November 26th, 2012
1:38 am

Good piece on Gattis and BJ Upton.

Why don\yt the Braves focus on Pagan and giver him the money he seeks. Pagan is a contact hitter with a low SO rate, and his lean body type would maintain his speed longer than Bourn’s. Paying less for less SO’s and good defense is a plus after watching Uggla and Bourn whiff away in July, August and September.

Also, do brves of Freddy himself have any doubts about Freeman’s eyes. After battling dry eye for 10 years, I cannot see to drive. Freddie will swap back and forth between contacts, artificial tears and goggles for the rest of his career and never see better than he did the last 2 seasons. Result will be declining BA, RBI and HR totals.Gattis and Mejia platoon may be he Braves’ future at 1B.

DS1

November 26th, 2012
1:44 am

I’m thinking that if Bourn had a different agent that didn’t love to drag things out to the nth degree, the Braves might be more inclined to barter with him. For a little bit more, I’d think he would be a better fit for the Braves than BJUp.

Much better defensively, and probably a more level potential for the next 4-5 years than BJUp.

Also, is Mark Reynolds good enough of a glove at third to platoon with Juan Gone Francisco? (remember we have Ahmed a year or two away if we don’t deal him.)

DS1

November 26th, 2012
1:46 am

Or we could go the Giants route and use Schafer in CF and Georgie in LF. Sign Greinke AND Haren and be set for pitching until the cows come home (of course, this scenario never happens).

DS1

November 26th, 2012
1:50 am

Did anybody see the Lincoln movie. Very good imho.

kenhotlanta

November 26th, 2012
2:01 am

Hey, Wayne, just headin’ to bed. I hope you and your family had a good Thanksgiving. The Dawgs made it real good for us.
Good night.

DS1

November 26th, 2012
2:01 am

Talking to myself. Thought I’d leave you folks with a good old american folk song……..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB2L6CRqoDo

DS1

November 26th, 2012
2:08 am

ken

Besides that beatin that my Tigers took from the Gamecocks, all in all it was a good time with family and friends.

Thanks for asking ken. Hope you folks had a good time also!

Heading off to bed myself, listening to some Bee Gee’s on youtube. Those guys had some incredible stuff in their early career. Sad to think that 2/3 of them are gone.

No. 1 Braves Fan

November 26th, 2012
4:46 am

Don`t sign B.J. Upton. Heard he may not be a good clubhouse fit. Twins need pitching. They will come down in their demands for Span to get it.

Couch Tater

November 26th, 2012
6:14 am

Heard he may not be a good clubhouse fit.

Is Upton is worth the dollars? I don’t know. But, from The Tampa Tribune

He [BJ Upton] was touched by the ovations.

“I didn’t expect to get that,” he said. “Being the last one out there and seeing all the people staying, I guess you can say they kind of gave me my farewell. It was definitely touching.”

“It’s deserving,” Longoria said. “He’s done a lot for this community, for this team, for this organization, and, obviously, I hope that he’s back. I don’t know how real that possibility is, I’m not the G.M. or the owner. I enjoyed playing with him for the five years that I did. He’s always been a great teammate to me. We’ve had our ups and downs, but he’s always been a good person, a good teammate, a good friend. It will be said to see him go if he does.”
http://www2.tbo.com/sports/rays/2012/oct/03/14/season-finale-a-touching-farewell-for-upton-ar-521467/

MikeY

November 26th, 2012
6:34 am

Bob the Blogger

November 26th, 2012
7:11 am

I’m just not getting the enthusiasm for Upton – four consecutive years hitting under .250, low on base percentage, high strike outs – that just doesn’t add up to a five year, $75 million deal to me. I would go for Span or Gordon.

If Gattis is being considered as a backup catcher for Laird until Mac gets back, why isn’t he catching some in winter ball? I don’t like the idea of calling up Bethancourt. It starts the clock on him, and he will be overwhelmed by major league pitching, perhaps hurting him in the long run. With his hitting struggles, he may not even be ready after this year.

John Poppadoppagopolis

November 26th, 2012
7:14 am

What about Giancarlo Stanton? Great numbers, young and although he would costs several good prospects he is a great baseball player. And Miami is selling out.

BraveDan

November 26th, 2012
7:17 am

Yeah, you would think Gattis would be catching as much as possible, but I’m not sure if the braves have a say so in that on the winter league teams.

Peter

November 26th, 2012
7:38 am

In a perfect world Upton is not a Brave….. we continue to build with a farm club, and maybe a few acquisitions.

Frank Wren won’t get anything done unless he over pays, which is his mantra…..

Please tell me a guy he has not over paid for ?

Jeff R

November 26th, 2012
7:41 am

Dob, thanks for the new article. Otis Redding – a great who passed long before he should have.

Jeff R

November 26th, 2012
7:45 am

Laird is going to do the bulk of the catching while McCann gets ready. I guess Gattis could back him up a while or Bethancourt. But I’d imagine that Gattis is assigned to Gwinnett and patrols the outfield. When McCann returns, Bethancourt goes to Gwinnett for regular catching duties. Hmm?

Ray

November 26th, 2012
8:00 am

It appears that the Twins are asking a ton for Span and the Royals are asking even more for Myers. You can’t fill one hole by creating another hole. So overpaying with pitchers for either Span or Myers would not be a good move.

[...] The rest of the article can be found here: Atlanta Braves [...]

Klaus

November 26th, 2012
8:05 am

DOB – I didn’t say the extra 25mm gave the Braves an edge, just flexibility to stretch (think back loaded deals as an example). Your comment assumes that every team puts the extra TV money into player salaries or even has the same total payroll/level of talent. That wont be the case and even for ATL they probably will see something less than 25mm hit their salary plan.

A team that has a 90mm payroll & the talent that goes with it (ideally) is going to get that extra piece they need by going from 90 to 110m. Versus a 45mm team going to 55 or 60mm. The latter team may need 1/2 a rotation and 2-3 position players to be competitive.

That said ATL perpetually (under corporate ownership) is a day late and dollar short when it comes to getting the player they need to take the next step. Getting some portion of that money (which is suppose to hit at the beginning of the 2014 season) will give the Braves some breathing room.

Wren nor any GM won’t go on the record saying “heck yeah we are going to spend every penny of that money when it comes or before” 1. He doesn’t know how much Liberty will give them and 2. He doesn’t want to jack up the price of FAs in the process. The latter is true of all teams.

That would be akin to walking into a Vegas casino saying loudly you just came into some money.

old man

November 26th, 2012
8:12 am

DS1: Lincoln was great. All dialogue, but still kept you on the edge of your seat. Excellent movie.

Pippa's Meaty Backside

November 26th, 2012
8:19 am

Steve: Braves have plenty of options and if we miss on all of them we still have some good talent.

Wow, we have a rational thinker here who doesn’t see the need to throw somebody else’s money out the window with guys who have ‘whatever’ WARs. Steve,if you’re going to be cautious and prudent with other people’s money you might want to look for another message board. On here, we have guys dropping 15-20mil/year for drug addicts who need babysitting and a .246 hitter who has bunches and bunches of potential.

DAM

November 26th, 2012
8:19 am

DOB, can you define what you mean when you said KC would only take a top pitcher back in return? Are we talking a proven #1/#2 starter already in a big-league rotation? Just curious. I’d love to get Myers if at all possible.

Pippa's Meaty Backside

November 26th, 2012
8:21 am

DAM, I think DOB meant that what the Braves are willing to give up as regards pitching would not be enough to pull off that deal.

DS1

November 26th, 2012
8:27 am

If somebody else ends up with Giancarlo or Myers from KC and we don’t, I’m going to be very disappointed. Just sayin.

Sam

November 26th, 2012
8:30 am

Sign BJ and trade for Justin. It’s not complicated…

BJ = $45M over 3 years
Justin = Teheran, Ahmed, and another minor leaguer

Ray

November 26th, 2012
8:33 am

@Dam, a few posts I have been reading in KC the Royals want a ransom for Gordon and Myers. Everything strongly eluded to guys like Medlin, Delgado, Teharan type packages, and that is the starting point. That’s for either not both.

Ray

November 26th, 2012
8:40 am

Signing free agents and trading for players is a very simple process and not complicated Except that it includes a person(s) on the other side to agree to sign or to a trade. Other than that it is quite easy.

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