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Let’s Be Frank: Looking At 2011

Posted by Kris N. on August 16, 2010

The 2010 season isn’t over, and we’re certainly not giving up on it. How could we? They are in first place! This article is merely to just look at the off season and 2011. So let’s be Frank!

Something you may not know, I certainly didn’t until I looked it up, is that The Braves cut payroll. Their published payroll in 2009 was around 95 million; the figure this year is closer to 83 million. A couple of things like Tim Hudson’s insurance money and acquiring McLouth for half of a year might lead to the payroll looking higher than what Liberty Media actually paid. Even with that, the money seems a little lower. So much for winning it for Bobby and Chipper. I’m kidding, I actually am happy for Frank Wren to improve the team while spending less money and keeping the farm system intact. What kind of magic can we expect from him over the off season?

Atlanta starts off with $62.3M before options and arbitration.

Walking Free Agents

Troy Glaus is a free agent and not likely to be a Type A or Type B one at that. Which means is The Braves won’t offer arbitration, so there really isn’t a chance he gets resigned by Atlanta. Replacing Glaus with Freddie Freeman makes you 87% cheaper and gives you 150% more production. Move #1 improves the team.
Takishi Saito was signed to be the main set up man and Kawakami’s best friend, but due to the success of Venters, an injury, and early struggles, his role with the club has since lessened. He was a nice stop gap for a guy like Kimbrel.

Options

The Braves also have some choices in regards to which ‘options’ should be picked up and which ones shouldn’t. The Braves currently have ten players who are under contract but their salaries are not yet determined. Five of those ten have options and the other half will go through arbitration. The players with options include: Billy Wagner (Club), Kyle Farnsworth (Mutual), Alex Gonzalez (Club), Omar Infante (Club), and Rick Ankiel (Mutual). I expect Gonzalez and Infante to be picked up, Rick Ankiel to be released, but I’m not sure about Wagner and Farnsworth. Early on, Wagner said that he will be retiring at the end of this season, and he again reiterated his decision after the trend of dominate stats. I’m starting to believe he is trying to convince himself, at this point. It’s doesn’t seem like it’s easy to walk away from doing what you love for years and the payment of six million dollars. If he does want to pitch though, it will be for Atlanta. Kyle Farnsworth is a quality pitcher that is having success this year. His 2011 mutual option is for 5.25 million dollars. His agent might think he can make more than that on the market, and The Braves might think he isn’t worth that (Especially since they have a Major League ready reliever in Craig Kimbrel pitching for Gwinnett, who would make $400,000).

Arbitration

As I said before, Atlanta will have five players going through arbitration. They are: Jair Jurrjens, Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flarity, Matt Diaz, and Melky Cabrera. There are few things on this planet that I would love to see more than Melky Cabrera being released. He could stand to make around 3.5 million dollars, which is 3.5 million dollars and a roster spot too much. Unfortunately, Wren thinks that Melky provides value by switch hitting and having the ability to play all parts of the outfield. Oddly enough, there are hundreds of players that will provide more value at a cheaper rate. If Wren can’t find another fourth outfielder, then he’s being lazy. I believe Frank will resign him, and I believe it’s a Melky Cabrera sized mistake. I’ll just stop myself there. Last year, Matt Diaz took an offered contract that was beneath his worth, accepted a role that undermined his value, and didn’t complain. I don’t know if he will do it again or not, but they could settle for around 3.5 million (which is a bargain). As for Moylan and O’Flarity, somewhere around 1.5 million and $800,000 respectively sounds about right. For Jurrjens, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know who he could be compared to, but Justin Verlander made 4 million in his first year into arbitration. I don’t think locking up Jurrjens is a good idea seeing as how he’s a pitcher and pitchers get hurt. Also, his agent is Scott Boras and he won’t agree to deal extending JJ past free agency.

Trades and Signings

With the added expense of the players, the payroll sits at about 75 million. Now unless Liberty Media adds some spending money (don’t hold your breath), Wren has around 8 million dollars to spend. (If Chipper’s return proves unsuccessful, you have 21 million to spend, but another spot to fill.) You can save 3 million dollars by releasing Melky Cabrera. Some more players who I think need to go are Derek Lowe and eventually Kenshin Kawakami. I still don’t think the Lowe and Kawakami signings were all bad, and if we weren’t contending, they wouldn’t be. At the time, the rotation was:

  1. Jair Jurrjens
  2. Jorge Campillo
  3. Charlie Morton
  4. Jo Jo Reyes
  5. James Parr

It was seriously that bad.

Lowe has had his time though, and Wren should look to move him again this off season. Try offering him for peanuts, and when I say peanuts, I mean peanuts. Start with salted, and then if they refuse, move to unsalted. If that fails, trade him for a some 35 year old Single A player. Just move that contract! Even if The Braves eat half, they still have 7.5 million dollars more to spend. Medlen will most likely miss the entire 2011 year, or barring a speedy recovery, most of it. I would keep Kawakami as the 5th starter and move him at the deadline if Brandon Beachy or Julio Teheran has a Hanson esque minor league season in Gwinnett, ala Heyward, Medlen and Minor. (Hehe)

Eric Hinske should be resigned for the versatility of playing 1B, 3B, LF, and RF alone. Throw in the left handed, veteran, win driven, off-the-bench pop, and forget about it! I think Hinske would sign a 1 year, 1.5 million deal.

I like Johnny Venters, not as much as Bobby Cox does, but still a lot. He appears to be ready for a closing job though, and as Billy Wagner moves on and Venters takes the role, The Braves should look into finding another set up man. There are some interesting options on the Free Agent market including Frank Francisco, J.J. Putz, and Jesse Crain; they all have a 113, 165, 144 ERA+ and 3.47, 5.20, and 2.53 K/BB rate, respectively. Putz is the the clearly the better option, but I think after proving he’s healthy and dominate, he will look for a multi-year deal and closing role. (Whether or not he gets it remains to be seen.) Keeping O’Flaherty, Moylan, and Kimbrel in 7th inning situations makes the bullpen deeper, rather than moving them up and calling up someone from Gwinnett to fill some roles. (Interesting note: The main difference between the 2008 Mets and the 2008 Phillies was the bullpen.)

When will the Braves have a decent Left Fielder? It’s been forever! Not since 2004 have the Braves left fielders posted a OPS above .790. Big name outfield agents include Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, however I wouldn’t waste my time bidding against the Yankees, Mets, Phillies, and possibly Red Soxs and Giants. The free agent market for outfielders is fairly thin. After Crawford and Werth, the next 3 best outfielders are Austin Kearns, Reed Johnson, and Mark Kotsay. This could mean that an upgrade in left field would come by trade. The first name that pops into my head is Shin-S0o Cho. He has a career line of .290/.385/.470/.855 and is under control through 2013. This winter will mark his first year in arbitration, which decreases his return, and his agent is Scott Boras, which slightly decreases value. The Indians like Choo, claimed they have money for him, and attempted to resign him, but to no avail. I think a couple of top 20 prospects ought to get a deal done as the Indians are nowhere near competing in the next 2 years.

Although the chances of the Braves having their 4th outfielder not have the ability to play center is very low, it’s a move I would make. Infante can play center field, albeit not very well, when McLouth needs a break. Adding someone like Shin Soo Choo to start in left field can also allow resting McLouth, shifting Choo to center, and placing Diaz/Infante/Hinske to play LF.

There’s one bullpen spot left, and I’d fill that out with the last remaining piece of the Mark Texiera trade, Stephen Marek. He’s rebounded from early Atlanta trouble to post the best season of his career since the Kotchman trade in Triple A; 1.32 ERA in 41 innings with a 1.12 WHIP and 3.38 K/BB rate. Not bad.

So here is what the 2011 roster would like like:

You can use 11.7 million on a Reliever and Left Fielder

It’s a nice roster, and can probably score 700 runs and give up only around 600. That’s a definite 90+ win team.

The future may seem uncertain, but let’s be frank, it’s a bright one. In Wren we trust!

GO BRAVES!

37 Responses to “Let’s Be Frank: Looking At 2011”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Atlanta Braves Buzz and James Niemeyer, Kris Noble. Kris Noble said: New article is up! Its all about the 2011 roster and the off season. Come & tell me your off season wish list! http://wp.me/pJSs5-6x #Braves [...]

  2. Braves20 said

    First visit to this site. I’ll be back. You won me over with “few things on this plant reference to Melk Dud. Go Braves.

  3. David said

    I think cutting melky is unlikely, mostly because I don’t think there is anything better out there to spend the money on!

    Think about it, we will have an entire bullpen making just about the minimum, the rotation is set, and every position is basically filled. The braves are going to have to be able to find a really good outfielder in a trade to make it necessary to cut melky, and lets face it, big-time outfielders are kind of rare.

    • Kris N. said

      I wish we would, but for some reason, the Braves like him. I don’t want the Braves to commit so much money to Werth or Crawford. If we get a big outfielder, it’ll come by trade. I still like Shin Sho Choo despite his problems.

      Matt Young would be a better replacement than Melky for next year. But Cabrera’s putting it all together now. He’s hitting something like .300/.350/.450. I forget.

  4. Bobulated said

    1)It’s spelled “O’Flaherty”
    2)The Indians are well aware how good Choo is and I highly doubt they have any interest in moving him unless Frank Wren drunk dials offering Heyward or Freeman with Jonny Venters thrown in. They will hold onto him as long as possible offering arbitration as needed and letting his value grow until he leaves as Typa A FA or they get a haul in prospects for him down the road.
    3)”I don’t think locking up Jurrjens is a good idea seeing as how he’s a pitcher and pitchers get hurt.” Seriously? If you have the chance to lock up a young arm who is also a Cy Young contender you do it. Boras clients are not automatic hard signings; he’s a great negotiator and he generally does what’s best for his clients.

    • Kris N. said

      1. Honest mistake.
      2. Shin Sho Choo is just a thought. In the final payroll it’s listed as “Starting Right Fielder.” And If the Indians wanted Heyward and Venters or Freeman and Venters, they’d get laughed at. I was thinking something like Vizcaino, Bethancourt, and Hoover.
      3. JJ will be a hard signing, at least past free agency. All I was implying is that let’s not commit money when we don’t need to.

      • Bobulated said

        I agree with most of your other points though. Not sure how ready Marek is and think KK needs a change of scenery but I wouldn’t be upset to see either on the roster either.

      • Scott said

        I agree with holding off on JJ. Even though he’s been lights out since his return from the DL, I don’t think we’ll end up spending significantly less than going year to year. The Boras client we really need to be looking at is Hanson. Once he’s arb eligible we need to get Big Red locked up. He’s so much better than his record.

  5. David said

    my choice for an outfielder through trade is carlos quentin. not sure if he is gettable, but looks like a perfect piece to me.

  6. Richard L said

    Who ever wrote this, I hope that writing published articles is not your day job. I was almost embarrassed to be reading this piece of work. Have you never heard of proofreading? Forget the simple repeating words in sentences to the point that they make no sense. How about listing the same player twice on your proposed 2011 roster? Just proof the the education systems are failing us.

  7. Ryan said

    Don’t you think giving up good prospects for Choo, who may have to leave baseball for 2 years to serve in the Korean military, seems like a terrible idea? I don’t want anything to do with him until it is known what his future will be. I’d look somewhere, anywhere, else.

  8. Kris N. said

    I honestly never expected this attention. This is just something I, as well as James, use to set out our thoughts about the Braves. I do it as a hobby, not to become an actual analyst. So yes, there will be grammatical errors, because I usually write at one in the morning.

  9. Gregg G. said

    Found the link through MLBTR. It’s always fun looking ahead to next season and putting on the ol’ manager cap. Thanks for the thoughts. It gives the average fan a good outline.

  10. Anonymous Braves Fan said

    Not a bad write up. Very interesting, but there are some obvious flaws as you’re clearly not very in tune with being a real wanna-be-GM like some other folks are.

    First of all, you don’t have to read very far into it to find your first apparent oversight (your spreadsheet showed the error). Martin Prado is arbitration eligible. He started the year with 2.105 years of service time. Spending the entire year in the majors (minor league rehab and DL stint didn’t count as a demotion, of course) he has 3.1 years and that qualifies for arbitration. Estimated cost will likely be around the cost of Kelly Johnson’s first year of arbitration. Potentially more since Prado’s having a stellar year. If you want to keep your upfront costs down…I would add a Prado contract extension to that list. Maybe save a few million down the road and overpay for Prado now and eat up his arbitration years before he turns himself into an Uggla-like crappy arbitration situation where you’ve got a productive player, but will pay out your rear to retain them.

    On a side note, I think you’re a little light on some of your arbitration estimations and heavy on others. Small nitpick from me, though. No big deal, really. Moving on.

    Agree that Hinske would likely stay if you offered him $1.5M. I had my total at $1.75M (seeing the slight pay raise to David Ross earlier) but it’s really splitting hairs. Keeping Hinske would be a plus for his left-handed bat off the bench alone and he’s a true professional hitter.

    Also like the Choo idea, but somehow it just depends on Choo’s plans with the Korean army. Forgive me if I’ve overlooked this, but it seems you have no idea…or no concern…over the fact that Choo, before the age of 30, needs to serve a minimum term of 2 years in the Korean military. There is an out-clause for that…and it’s if he helps the Korean national team win a gold medal in the 2010 Asian Games this winter. Answer that and you have your solution to how available Choo will be. If he doesn’t win a gold medal with Korea…he won’t be in baseball. If he wins one…the price will be astronomical since the Indians have control over him and a pretty decent market to shop him in (only two top free agents then a drop off). If he doesn’t compete in the games? Well…then he’ll probably not be allowed back into Korea without going to jail. Something that might weigh heavily on his mind. Only Choo can really tell you if that’d bother him any.

    Agree totally on finding bullpen help. Unlike you, I’m not THAT convinced Venters can handle the closer role…but I do think he’ll be a big part of the bullpen (with a small part of me thinking his sudden rise will come with somewhat of a sudden fall back to mediocrity). With a base of Moylan, Venters and O’Flaherty we already have the makings of a strong club. Mike Dunn, to me, is a guy we trade because of his potential but lack of command. Someone will take him as an integral part of a package or give us something nice in return. I also pinpointed JJ Putz for my own personal roster constructions…but more-so in a closer capacity (with Venters in reserve for the 8th and emergencies). If we do hand the role to Venters, I’d also add Joaquin Benoit to the list of late-inning relievers and perhaps even add Dan Wheeler to the list as a potential depth acquisition if we do trade Mike Dunn. Each reliever of course altering the other types of moves we can make and vice versa.

    I also feel you’re viewing the Lowe situation in a rosy fashion. I agree we need to trade him, but I almost feel as if 33% of the cost is still not enough to rid of him. Perhaps his string or strong efforts lately have raised his perceived value some…but these are major league general managers we’re talking about. There are a slew of average (with high risk/reward) options that will cost $9-12M this coming winter. To get a GM to bite on Lowe, we may have to get that cost down into the lower end of that rate. That means almost eating 50% of the remaining contract and paying $6-7M/year just to save us the other half (for the bullpen help, in a way).

    And here’s my crazy idea. Personally, I’d also look into moving Nate McLouth and half his salary to basically anyone willing to take him. I know he’s got some pop and some speed, but gold glove be damned….the guy isn’t that good in centerfield. Regardless, if I can trade Nate McLouth or not, I’d look to Cincinnati. They’ve got quite a log jam in their outfield with Jonny Gomes, Chris Heisey, Laynce Nix, Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce all under their retention for 2011. They could very well try to non-tender Nix and Gomes and re-sign them for cheaper like they did last year, but those are risky options. Stubbs seems like the easy odd man out of there…but crazier things have happened and we might nab Chris Heisey (both Heisey and Stubbs are centerfield capable and above average defensively). If we get lucky…they’ll view Dunn and perhaps another prospect as great payment for one of them and trade from their depth (as they’ve done in the past) to try and patch work the big club.

    Like I said, though. Overall…a good write up. You and I could probably come up with a great ultimate scheme and I do like how you think. Needs a little refinement and research in certain areas, but great writeup. Keep up the good work.

    • Kris N. said

      Thank you. The information I used to determine contracts was Cot’s Contracts, and I very unprofessionally didn’t site them. They might have Prado listed as non arbitration, or I misread the information. (My money is on the later.)

      I was aware of the Choo incident. And I do know that he, reportedly, is to the point of begging the Indians of letting him play. I also think that the Boras addition was more for protection of himself, rather than acquiring more money. If the Indian’s were smart, they’d let him play.

      As for the bullpen, I’d suggest a bullpen by committee, even though I’m not normally a fan. One thing I won’t miss about Bobby is his bullpen management. Bring in a smart manager, give him another reliable reliever, and let him do his thing.

  11. MarioN said

    I say the Braves get Mark DeRosa. How great would that be? He plays everything! He’s a bench player for the Braves, he has starter quality.

  12. Caleb said

    How are you just fine with losing J.J.? His rookie year ERA is lower than Lincecum’s was. His second year ERA was lower than Lincecum’s was. His third year (this year) isn’t and at least 99% of that is due to the fact that he was hurt. He’s an underrated, under the radar pitcher that can go out there and pitch just as good as any other pitcher in the league if not better even god’s gift to pitching, Tim Lincecum.
    As for Melky, I am not a huge fan and despite the fact that his line is not the greatest, for a fourth outfielder he is a pretty nice catch. However, just like I said for a FOURTH outfield, he is not a starter. He doesn’t have much speed for a little guy, he has no pop unless we were to bring the fences in like the Yanks, but he will get on base for you sometimes and possibly give you some game winning hits.
    I still like Lowe, he is very much overpaid, but ever since they said he was going to start pitching inside, he actually has been a nice piece of the rotation, why eat $10 million when the guy isn’t Zambrano? The rotation is fine how it is for next year, just need to get someone to take KK though.
    The only infield change will be Freeman, we need to try and get Schafer back in center and trade mclouth and then spend some money or make a good trade for a left fielder and reliever. We have all of the pieces we need for next season almost, we just need to replace our center fielder and first baseman with minor leaguers and spend some money on an actual left fielder and we will be solid.

    Honestly, I am still not against bringing Andruw back.

    • lmao said

      First of all. I don’t think he suggested letting Jurrjens go. He just said not to lock him up to a long term deal and just go to arbitration with him instead. Go year to year because Boras won’t allow his players to get locked up.

      You need to move Lowe to get payroll wiggle room to get a bat. Plain and simple. It’ll be easier to find someone to take Lowe than Kawakami. Lowe’s at least pitching against major league competition and you can free up more salary in the longterm by trading him. Think about it.

    • Cool Runnings said

      Honestly, I think Schafer is done (atleast in the Atlanta organization). His career has taken a huge nose-dive since his PED suspension in 2008, partly due to the injuries. He hasn’t had a full season on any level since 2007. I

      I think the only way he makes it back to the big leagues is if he moves to LF. He wasn’t even player CF when he got demoted to AA Mississippi, Antoan Richardson was. He may be better in terms of his throwing arm and offensive power, but when it comes to defense and speed I think the Braves have much better pieces in those categories with guys like LV Ware, Kyle Rose, or even Richardson.

      I’d be incredibly shocked if he is even in consideration for the opening day roster in 2011. And I’d be even more shocked if he is still even in the organization by the All Star Break. Its all about the “what have you done for me lately” mentality and Schafer hasn’t done anything lately. And what he did do wasn’t anywhere near good enough to keep him around in the bigs for very long.

  13. MDR said

    At this point I’d honestly rather keep Ankiel than McLouth. If we can move him at all, I don’t see any reason not to. I also think the Braves will be BIG players for Crawford. Depending on how the playoffs go, Atlanta is likely to look like a nicer destination, even sans Bobby. People like Fredi, too. People not named Hanley. That’s a dumb name anyway.

  14. bobby cerasuolo said

    You know what the braves should do is package a deal that includes Hicks Melky Mike Dunn to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp Scotty Pods and Brent Leach of the Double A team.

  15. bobby cerasuolo said

    here what the braves should do in the offseason

    trade for either Matt Kemp BJ Upton Prince Fielder or credable cf or 1b

    Trade KK lowe gonzo and Mclouth

    Mclouth KK and Gonzo to KC for Yuniesky Betancourt Blake Wood and aaron crowe

    trade for a decent leadoff hitter

    Melky Hicks and Dunn for BJ Upton
    wes timmons diaz and Redmond to Sf for Torres Matt Cain
    Lineup
    Upton cf
    torres lf
    prado 3b
    Mccann c
    Lee/freeman 1b
    Heyward rf
    infante 2b
    betancourt ss

    The rotation should be
    Huddy
    Hanson
    Minor
    wood
    Cain

    • Tplunk said

      Dude! Cain is way to $$ for a back of the rotation starter, check out julio teheran in the braves farm system- kid may be better that tommy hanson right now minus big league innings.

      Aaron Crowe looks interesting, if its Upton you want better look at Justin Upton in AZ- much better than brother BJ right now. Torres isn’t an offensive upgrade or enough of a defensive upgrade over diaz or hinske (looks at ob% and fielding% stats)
      Who says Medlen can’t win back a 5th starter job with us after he recovers from surgery, ATL is infamous for bringing back pitchers with injuries back to top form. He’ll be a fine #5 for us next year- the kid is smart, damn smart!

      I wouldn’t be hasty with Dunn- tremendous upside and we have time to develop it.

      And, unless something tragic happens to Freeman’s game he will be at first base on opening day!

  16. Tplunk said

    Whats the chance we could aquire carlos gonzalez and dexter fowler in a trade with Colorado? that would help our outfield. Imagine speed from your fourth outfielder in pinch run situations from fowler and a legit, young toolsy outfielder in c-gon? (also venezuelan wonder if he knows prado? just a thought.

    we could give em kk, mcclouth, dunn, diory hernandez any of those guys, maybe a prospect like vizcaino we don’t need?

    thoughts?

  17. Beer Angel said

    Right! Let’s get rid of Lowe. He’s only won the most games in the last two years for the Braves. We are getting far more value out of Lowe than we are or ever will get again from Chipped Jones and his 13 Mil a year. Let’s move Jones instead. Jones has been great in the past for the Bravos. There can be no doubt. It’s time CJ. Free us up some payroll.

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