Welcome to our second mailbag. Leave your shoes at the door, please.
Certainly no more pressure than they felt last year. So far, the Braves aren't scoring a lot of runs, but they are scoring far more consistently than they did most of last season, particularly early on when they got shut out or only scored one run a bunch of times. This team has been getting 3-5 runs and not scored fewer than two, if I'm not mistaken.
I disagree with your assertion. I wrote many, many times that the B.J. Upton contract was bad, and even before they signed him I said I didn't understand the attraction and suggested in my blog that Pagan or Choo or several other options available that year.
And just to follow up, I also wrote many times last year about the lack of leadership in the clubhouse and how the Braves had not replaced the likes of David Ross, Hinske, Prado, etc. To me, that was Wren's major mistake, not being in tune with the clubhouse and the effect it was having on the team when he let go or traded away one team leader after another over a period of 3-4 years.
Surprised by 6-1, of course. But not surprised that they didn't come out and fall on their faces like so many people who predicted 90-100 losses based solely on what they had traded away and without any regard for the guys they brought in and what effect it would have on improving team morale. It was obvious to me even before the start of spring training that the clubhouse would be much improved, but there are a lot of folks who continue to dismiss the importance of that kind of thing. We have a difference of opinion there; I've always believed the clubhouse mix can and usually does have a major impact on a baseball team, much more than the locker room of, say, a football team.
Cody Martin is not "nasty" so much as he's smart, has very good location and command of pitches, changes speeds, etc. He's doing great in his current role, and so is Grilli in his. Most in baseball will agree that not just anyone can pitch the ninth inning with a narrow lead, and if you have two proven former closers on the staff it makes sense to use them in the role as long as they're healthy and still very effective, which both Grilli and Jim Johnson are.
He's not a bad apple at all. He's just a very competitive guy who sometimes doesn't bite his tongue or flies off the handle and loses his temper. Right now, he's producing in his platoon role, and hasn't let his dissatisfaction with not playing more affect the team in any way.
Sure. Most recently, the timing of the Kimbrel trade, on the eve of opening day after so many fans and Braves players had gotten over the trauma of offseason trades of Heyward and Co. But I also understand why they did it -- they had a chance to move Melvin Upton's huge contract in full, which none of us thought possible. And if they'd told the Padres, let's wait and do this in a week, they risked Kimbrel getting hurt or the Padres coming to their senses and backing out of the deal to take on all of Upton's contract.
No, I don't agree. And you can't argue with the results they're getting from the Callaspo/Johnson platoon. When the results change, they you reassess. But while both are thriving, you don't change the arrangement just to suit the person wishes of one player or another.
Agree, and yes, very surprised. I have no idea how a pitcher, without being hurt, can go from back-to-back 50-save seasons to last year's 7 ERA (or whatever it was), and then get the sinker back and look as filthy as he does now. I mean, he looks like a dominant closer again. He is, indeed, nasty.
Yes, if that situation arises, I think they can and would. Bottom line, making the playoffs is good for business. Even as a wild card team. And you can build on that going forward. But that's a long, long way off. Let's see how things go.
Wisler. He's real advanced for his age, fairly polished, from everyone I talk to who's seen him. Scouts, coaches, players (Stults saw him briefly last year).
Not to be cold, but you can't make a pitcher part of your future plans if he's can't stay healthy. Two years in a row, the shoulder has made them change plans. Unless he gets healthy and has a good season, can see him going non-tendered next fall, or traded if he shows he's healthy and other teams are convinced.
Don't know if Seitzer would've helped B.J. I'd say at least a little, but that's just guessing, really. He's sure helped several other guys on this team have a new approach, something sorely lacking in recent years. But that also had to do with having some veteran hitters who weren't going to change what they did regardless of who was telling them to do it this way or that. They've gone from being third-worst in the majors w/ RISP to currently leading majors in that category. I don't think they'll stay that high, but the approach is night-and-day different from last year with this crew.
I just don't think it's that important. People make way too much of the lineup changes, in my view. There have been great managers in recent years who only kept one or two guys in the same spot in their lineup on a regular basis, and there have been some great and some bad managers who changed it every day.
You haven't looked at the spring stats if you think Cunningham's "production ran circles around him." And to answer your question, no, neither a mystery why he made the team to anyone in the clubhouse or who covered the team this spring.
Minor is making $5.6M this year. That's what Braves owe him, nothing beyond this season.
Sorry, but we have quite different views on this subject. No worries. But no reason to debate, as we are diametrically opposed when it comes to this.
Once he gets into system and starts playing some minor league games, we'll obviously know more. But I was told all along he was more a fourth-outfielder type, so that's pretty much what I'm expecting. Not a big power guy, gap-to-gap hitter, pretty good outfielder, not a great arm.
Currently just below $100M. They could go to $110 or more if they want to. But they've given no indication they plan to or what the payroll will be going forward. They play that stuff closer to the vest than most teams.
Honestly, subject hasn't come up. I'll try to remember to ask Fredi today, because I'm curious. Not that it's important, since an emergency catcher has so rarely been needed by the Braves or most any other team. But I'd like to know. Terdo was emergency catcher while he was up in past couple years, even caught some bullpens.
He was having a really good spring, and yes, had a good chance to make team before he got hurt. He got hurt right after Kelly Johnson had begun to start raking.