Rants Raves and Writin’

Is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer? The answer MATTERS.

Andruw Jones might not get in his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot, but I believe he’ll get in eventually. The Andruw Jones naysayers hone in on his career .254 batting average, but as we all know by now (hopefully) – baseball, and offense in particular, is a little more than batting average (batting average doesn’t matter).

My Hall of Fame case for Andruw Jones is quite simple. Andruw Jones has more career home runs than the greatest power-hitting catcher of all time (Mike Piazza) (Homeruns don’t matter) and is the best defensive center fielder of all time. Ozzie Smith had a career wRC+ of 92, but his elite glove got him into the Hall of Fame in no time. Andruw threw up a career 111 wRC+ and did just as much or more defensively for his respective position. (wRC+ doesn’t matter)

Andruw Jones threw up a career WAR of 62.8. Here’s the list of players who are already enshrined in Cooperstown with a lower WAR than Andruw JonesHarmon KillebrewYogi BerraMike PiazzaHank GreenbergWillie StargellBill DickeyLuis AparicioJoe GordonGeorge SislerWillie KeelerTony PerezMickey CochraneKirby PuckettOrlando CepedaRalph KinerJim RiceErnie LombardiNellie Fox, and Lou Brock. (WAR doesn’t matter)

What hurts Andruw Jones, among the uneducated writers, is three things:

  1. Andruw Jones had an awkward ending to his career. In 2007 it was like Andruw Jones hit a wall. And please don’t come at me with the whole PED speculation. MLB began testing for PEDs in 2003 and in 2005 Andruw Jones hit 51 homers. Besides, what roided up steroid using ballplayer was slightly chubby like Andruw Jones? (Jason Giambi doesn’t matter)
  2. Andruw Jones played for the Atlanta Braves during his 10 consecutive Gold Glove winning years. If you watched the Braves back then, and then tuned in nightly to ESPN, you might remember something. On any given night, Andruw Jones would make insane Spider Man-like catches but would very seldom be featured on SportsCenter’s “Web Gems.” So if you’re a national writer, or a guy covering the Royals locally, Andruw Jones wasn’t really on your radar. Why? Because ESPN is a terrible company and hates Atlanta. (ESPN doesn’t matter)
  3. Andruw Jones wasn’t flashy. Much of the Hall of Fame voting (unfortunately) is all about perception and not numbers. Case and point – Mike Mussina. When you watched Andruw Jones play, at times he almost looked lazy. Baseball came easy to him. Andruw Jones taught us that being the greatest center fielder of all time wasn’t really about speed, it was about quickness and the ability to read the ball off the bat. No one did this better than Andruw Jones, and unless you had the privilege of watching this occur in person, it’s hard to understand. (Side note – Andruw Jones’ arm doesn’t get written about enough. In fact, I might be the first person to ever write about how amazing Andruw Jones’ arm was. And that’s sad.) (Center Fielders’ arms don’t matter)

If Andruw Jones isn’t a Hall of Famer, NOTHING MATTERS.

Here’s a video:

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An American Martyr

Martyr: a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle : ie. John Coppolella.

In a world where being politically correct is worshipped, where Clay Travis is considered the anti-christ, and where the heel turn is the best character in all of wrestling, John Coppolella stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Randy Orton and Chris Jericho combined could not pull off half the heel-turn that Coppy has. Some fans were outraged at this “scumbag”. How could Coppy be such a “traitor”? Well let me tell you something. John Coppolella goes down in my book as not just one of the greatest rebuild General Managers of all time, he’s also an American hero. A true blue American martyr.

The man merely wanted to pay some latino players what they were actually worth to make his team the best. The man wanted Drew Waters to have a car, so he offered him a car. The man wanted the Braves to have the best farm system in America, and by God they did. The man wanted to take a team with half the budget of MLB’s darlings and make them competitive. Stick it to the man, John.

The other GMs hated him because he took his job too seriously. Screw them. Media guys didn’t like him because he held grudges and didn’t leak stuff. Screw them, too. The system always hates the innovators that play by a different set of rules. John Brown, Joan of Arc, Socrates, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr, Nathan Hale. All martyred because they refused to quietly go with the system as it was. And now, John Coppolella.

In a country where the very idea of a free market has governed our principles, our strategies, and ultimately our success for 300 years, John Coppolella is the latest in a long line of casualties. He’s a casualty in a system of corporate greed that simulates fairness by creating fake rules to regulate what needs no significant regulation.

Let’s be real, if Kevin Maitan signed on an open market he would have received $15+ million, and if he were to become a bust then said team would learn their lesson and not pay so much next time. If Drew Waters signed on an open market he’d get a couple of cars and about $10+ million. Let’s not let MLB’s corporate PR machine twist what happened here.

A $40 BILLION organization that has made it’s bread and butter on the backs of athletes (95% of which have been underpaid for the last 140 years) just banned a guy from it’s game for life because he outsmarted a broken system for a measly $15 million. This is the equivalent of Bernie Madoff’s child stealing a candy bar and his father disowning him while stealing billions from investors.

Did he break the rules? Heck yes he did. Do I care? NOT ONE BIT. Because rules that actually make one iota of sense don’t need to be broken. And since when did we as Americans decide that doing everything by the book was the ‘right way’? Was it illegal to dump a ship full of tea into the Boston Harbor? You’re dang right it was. Was it illegal to write our own constitution and tell King George where he could stick his rules? You bet your Don’t Tread On Me flag it was. Was it illegal for Rosa Parks to sit down on a bus? Sure was. This country is built on the idea that sometimes the heel gets it when no one else does.

While John Coppolella is in no way a civil rights icon, or a founding father, he is a martyr for the American way. Let me say it loud and clear. MLB and Rob Manfred are a bunch of hypocritical turdwaffles. They are perfectly fine with letting a player abuse his wife, to only return to playing baseball in a few weeks once the news coverage dies down.

They had no problem making PED users the face of the entire game for a whole decade, yet now condemn them and refuse to let them into the Hall of Fame. They don’t mind owners stealing millions from taxpayers to build a new stadium every 15 years while the stadium they have is still perfectly fine. But GOD FORBID one guy figures out how to beat their sanctimonious little system to get five extra prospects and pay those prospects what they should have been being paid to begin with.

This punishment reeks of the hypocrisy that has become synonymous with not only Major League Baseball, but America as a whole. We glorify politically correct images and people who pretend to play inside the made up rules because someone else said this is “the way to play”, while crucifying anyone who doesn’t fit perfectly into our little box. Regardless of how you feel about Trump this is why he’s had success. He says F the pc-rules. (Have I mentioned that sometimes rulebreakers are total idiots?) Al Franken will get to stay a senator in spite of groping a girl, Roy Moore may get elected in spite of being a 20-grade A-hole, and Rob Manfred will get to let off his buddy John Hart while looking like a hero for coming down hard on John Coppolella.

I’m not buying this BS. Was John Coppolella a total jerk? Perhaps. Did he break all kinds of rules? Sure. Did he cheat? Yep. Did he steal prospects? Yes. (RIP Dave Stewart.) Do I feel bad about it? Heck no.

Rob Manfred can take a sanctimonious walk down to Boston Harbor and throw himself in. Then he can take a few hours to dry and think about his made up rules and his self righteous BS while the rest of MLB continues to break them any way that they possibly can.

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That ‘Forever a Fan’ moment…

Let’s get one thing out of the way now. I’m a baseball fan, first, and foremost. After that, it’s the Braves, and up until 2014, that was it.

We all have that story. That story that turned you into the fan you are today of whomever your respective team or teams are because of that “Forever a Fan” moment.

The Baltimore Orioles were always a team I admired from a distance. Cal Ripken, Sr., Cal Ripken, Jr., Eddie Murray, Brady Anderson, even Mike Mussina were guys I respected and loved watching just play the game. Anyway, when we moved within about 20 minutes of Oriole Park at Camden Yards (OPACY), I couldn’t wait to make my first trip to Camden.

We arrived here, Fort Meade, MD, in the summer of 2013. August to be exact (I’m active duty Army, for those who didn’t already know that). So, when I learned that the Orioles provided free tickets to Ft. Meade soldiers and their families for afternoon Sunday home games, I was stoked.

I was a casual O’s fan, until one night in September of 2014 changed that for me.

My birthday is July 8th and my oldest son’s is July 14th. The Orioles PR department had reached out to our unit and was looking for service members to honor during the 2nd inning of about a dozen home games that year. Like any self-respecting baseball fan, I threw my name in the hat.

About a week or so later, the Orioles came back with a list of games to pick from. Because there weren’t too many military members that volunteered for this, all 8 of us who submitted our names got selected to be a guest of honor for a game. The game I picked was July 11th. The opponent that night? The New York Yankees. It was this night that I (and my sons) became Orioles fans, for life.

My view from our row 19 seats, on the aisle.

Our seats were 19 rows back, from home plate. I have never had seats that close in my life. It was so surreal. The Orioles staff met us at our seats with gift bags for me and my boys. A free Orioles hat and t-shirt sat in the bag. As the bottom of the 1st inning started, Adam Jones was hitting 3rd, and there were 2 outs. I’m standing in the aisle, paying a vendor for a frozen lemonade for one of my sons, and then, it happened.

There I was, standing in the aisle, $5 bill in hand, and Jones fouls one back. I heard it, but didn’t see it. My youngest son could do nothing but yell, “Dad. Dad. Dad … DAD!!” I looked up and saw it coming off the advertisement board onto the lower level facade. Then, it bounced off the concrete, grazed the bill of my cap, and came to rest at the back left corner of my seat.

I forgot I had my wallet and money in one hand. My instinct took over and I lunged for the priceless, mud-streaked pearl. I fought valiantly, thwarting off some old man who had no business being anywhere near that baseball. It was mine, dammit! That was my baseball. I had more of my hand around the ball than he did, and after a few seconds, wrestled away that glorious baseball out of his old, tired grip.

My oldest with the foul ball from Adam Jones.

My first foul ball ever, and it had come off the bat of Adam Jones, at a Orioles vs. Yankees game. I was a fan for life.

Fast forward about 2 years. It’s November, 2016. A neighbor of mine, who’s wife is working for a local real estate company just happens to work for the company that partners with the one and only Cal Ripken, Jr. So, she comes up to me and says, “Hey, I know you’re a baseball fan, but my company is holding a grand opening for our new office, and my boss has invited Cal Ripken, Jr. to be there. Do you want to come?”

Uh … is the Pope, Catholic? You damn right I want to go. So I did.

We were at that place for about 20 minutes before I heard someone say, “hey, Cal’s about to leave, so if you want a picture, better hurry”. Barry Allen had nothing on me for that moment in time.

Before getting a photo taken (one that I will never let go of) I was able to actually talk to him for about five minutes. Not only did I get the chance to meet and get a photo taken with Cal, but I also got to talk baseball with him. Talking baseball with the Iron Man, WOW. A memory I will not soon forget. We talked about the Cubs first World Series win. What he thought of the Braves and the direction they were heading. We talked advanced metrics vs. traditional stats. It was AMAZING.

Me (second to Cal’s right) and a few other military members.

Oh, and Cal Ripken, Jr. is a mountain of a man, in case you’re wondering. It was Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge like. I literally looked up to him. It was that night at the game that made us Orioles fans, and I now claim them as my American League team. As a baseball fan, though, meeting the Iron Man was a dream come true, a dream I didn’t even know I had.

We all love the Braves, that much we all agree on. If you weren’t a Braves fan, you wouldn’t be reading this on Knockahoma Nation. So, it’s more than OK to be a fan of other baseball teams and even football teams (ROLL TIDE!!). So, our question to you, is simple:

What’s your “Forever a Fan” moment? When was that moment you knew “I’m hooked forever”?

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Growing up a Nolan Ryan fan

I had a wholesome and healthy childhood. Lots of broken bones. Lots of cursing and lying to my parents. Getting kicked out of class in kindergarten for kissing girls. One time I threw a rock through the windshield of my parent’s 1988 Dodge Caravan, just because it felt like the right thing to do.

At some point along the way, my dad allocated a particular black belt just for spanking my ass when I’d done something wrong (which was almost daily). We called it “the black belt.” Shit, that thing hurt.

I grew up on things like Jean Claude Van Damme movies. I didn’t care too much for Chuck Norris. I was more of a Van Damme guy, honestly. I smoked cigarettes in 6th grade, around the same time I saw my first playboy. It was a 70’s Playboy. Found it in my Uncle David’s basement.

As an 8-year-old, I was interested in what most normal Christian boys were into in 1991. Fast cars, Kathy Ireland, Michael Jordan, boxing movies, and Nolan Ryan.

Nolan Ryan was a badass. Now, technically my favorite player when I was a kid was Ozzie Smith. Certainly much different than Nolan Ryan in almost every way. I loved Ozzie because I myself was a small framed shortstop. I respected Ozzie, but I loved Nolan Ryan.

By the time I was 7 years old, Nolan Ryan was already 43 years old and playing for the Texas Rangers. He was on Advil commercials, in which he would pump iron and tell you that “Advil’s gentler on my stomach than Aspirin.” When he spoke, he sounded country. And he didn’t smile very much in photos. He was one BAD man.

We lived in Phenix City, Alabama during the year of 1990. One afternoon that summer, I was playing catch with my mom (sounds weird, I know, but my mom could throw better than Brooks Conrad). We were tossing the ball, when some older guy drove by in his truck, stopped, and hopped out. He had a mustache and said that he was the coach of some little league team (This is Ken, I was editing this article and at this point I was fairly certain Josh was about to tell me that Brian Snitker hit on his mom and coached him in little league ball). He told my mom that if I’d be interested, they could use a bat boy. (In retrospect, we believe this gentleman might have been hitting on my mom. But at the time, I viewed him as a general manager courting me into some type of long term contract to be the face of his franchise.)

I showed up to the field and guess what team they were? The Rangers. Basically, in my very small 7-year-old cranium, I was about to become Nolan Ryan. But, there was one problem. I couldn’t pitch. 

To make a long story short, I showed up ready to play, not to retrieve bats from some 20-grade 8-year-olds. I somehow manipulated the powers to be, imagine that, to allow me to play in a game and I hit an inside the park homer. I ended up playing almost every game that season. It was one hell of a summer.

We had our pictures made for our own baseball cards at some point and I remember trying not to smile because Nolan Ryan didn’t smile. I couldn’t help it. I was too damn happy about being a Texas Ranger.

After being a Ranger, I felt like I could completely relate to Mr. Ryan. In 1992, my dad bought me Nolan’s autobiography for my birthday. Which was also Nolan Ryan’s birthday. It’s a birthday that we, Nolan and I, share (along with Ernie Banks and Jackie Robinson). No big deal.

That same year, Coca Cola partnered with Donruss and made a collection of Nolan Ryan cards that depicted his entire career. I have all of them. And then in 1993 the greatest thing ever happened. Nolan Ryan whooped Robin Ventura’s ass.

It was a Wednesday night. Robin Ventura had the terrific idea of charging the pitchers mound while Nolan Ryan was on it. The Ryan Express put Robin in a headlock and went to town. It’s all we talked about the next several days at school. Nolan Ryan was already a country bad ass, but this took him to a whole new level. Me and my friends would debate extremely important things on the school bus like, “Who you got in a fight? Bo Jackson or Nolan Ryan? You think Nolan Ryan could take Mike Tyson?”

We were spoiled with Nolan Ryan. He completely ruined us. We baby pitchers so much these days that we glorify a guy who can last 6 innings while giving up 3 runs. We call it a “quality start.” In 1990 we watched Nolan Ryan throw over 200 innings. As a 43 year old. The man had 77 games in which he was leading in the 7th inning and finished all 77 of them. The Ryan Express didn’t need a closer, because he was his own closer. He planned on finishing whatever he started. He was a MAN.

Every generation tends to think that their generation was the best. Or at the very least better than whoever the current youngsters are. I like to think that being a kid in the late 80’s and early 90’s was the best. When men were men and when fast cars, growing muscles and kicking Robin Ventura’s ass was cool.

You know what’s cool now? Jordan Spieth and being respectful to others. How boring.

Me in 1990 as a Texas Ranger

 

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The 2017 Atlanta Braves didn’t suck because of Brian Snitker

Before I delve into my extremely deep thoughts here, let me get this out of the way. I’ve said this publicly on the podcast, I’ve said it all over social media, and I’ve even made really immature videos about it for the Knockahoma Nation Twitter account, like this one here. I think the Braves could have found a better manager than Brian Snitker.

But this being said – The Atlanta Braves did not suck in 2017 because Brian Snitker was their manager. And for Braves fans to put all of their anger about 2017 onto the shoulders of Snitker is laughable.

Listen, Brian Snitker made some dumb decisions. He probably shouldn’t have let Emilio Bonifacio near a baseball diamond. But he wasn’t the one who put Emilio on the baseball team. Yes, he advocated for Bonifacio, but at the time it actually made sense. For a utility/bench guy, Emilio looked good in AAA, and by all accounts was a good clubhouse guy, so the manager liked him. Makes sense.

The thing about Brian Snitker is this – He plays ballplayers who are on his baseball team based on their role. So if you’re mad about that, try giving him better baseball players to work with. If your role is a utility guy or a bench bat, then that’s how Brian Snitker is going to use you. What I’m saying is – Brian Snitker’s only as good as the baseball players on his baseball team. Much like many other managers.

The funniest complaint I continue to hear about Brian Snitker is how terrible his bullpen management is. A couple of things here. First of all, almost every manager across baseball cannot mange a bullpen these days. And secondly, Brian Snitker was given a terrible bullpen.

“But Josh. He gave over 100 IP to two guys who had a +5.00 ERA.” Correct. Said “pitchers” with an ERA over 5.00 should not have been on the baseball team.

He did use Eric O’Flaherty in completely wrong situations over and over again. I’ll give you that. But at the end of the day, the season was a joke. So, who cares?

Brian Snitker was given a bullpen that was compiled of guys like Chaz Roe, Josh Collmenter, Rex Brothers, Jim Johnson and Luke Jackson. Put those guys in Terry Francona‘s bullpen and guess what? You’ve still got a shitty bullpen.

The 2017 Atlanta Braves sucked because they had really shitty players and because several of their non-shitty players took it upon themselves to try their hand at being really shitty.

It wasn’t Brian Snitker’s fault that he was given a terrible bullpen. It wasn’t Brian Snitker’s fault that Dansby Swanson couldn’t hit sliders. It wasn’t Brian Snitker’s fault that Julio Teheran forgot how to play baseball. It wasn’t Brian Snitker’s fault that Folty sucked, that Bartolo sucked and that Jaime Garcia sucked. It wasn’t his fault that Kemp couldn’t stay healthy.

Is Brian Snitker a terrible manager? He very well may be, and I’ll probably complain about some of his moves during the season. But I’ll reserve serious judgement on the guy until he’s actually given a formidable baseball team.

Towards the end of the season Atlanta Braves fans saw the very beginnings of an influx of young pitching talent with guys like Lucas Sims, Luiz Gohara, Max Fried. Between this type of talent and any newly acquired talent the Braves may get this off-season, perhaps we’ll actually get a logical gauge on whether or not Brian Snitker can manage a baseball team.

Until then, please shut up.

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What makes a great general manager?

There’s been a lot of talk this week about Alex Anthapololololololoussssssss (or however you spell his name). I’ll clear the air early and say I like the hire, but that’s not the point of my musings.

Since the Anthopoulos hiring was announced, the old hot take machines of Twitter have started grinding away at trade scenarios, free agent targets, yada yada yada.

I enjoy a nice unreasonable session of guessing about things that I have no control over as much as the next person. But at the end of the day I think sometimes us fans get a bit wrapped up in the glitz and glamour of movement of any kind (especially after this long period of stagnation). And because of this, we tend to see any movement as progress.

However, let’s take a moment and look at what defines a great GM.  I believe most general managers tend to be defined by three main things:

  1. Did they cause a scandal?

Seriously, this might feel a bit raw considering the circumstances. But I’m not simply cherry-picking here.

Most GM’s that are remembered for bad reasons are committed to memory because they enabled disaster to occur on their watch. Whether said disasters be character problems, rule breaking, or downright cheating. What’s interesting is the fan-base usually doesn’t care much that he engaged in said cheating. What they usually care about is whether or not he got caught.

In this sense, Anthopoulos is pristine. Clean as a whistle. He’s never been caught, yet has cherry picked some of the best talent available through drafts and on the international market.

I could sit here and pretend to spin the idea that this guy is a saint and is the one really good guy in baseball who just wins without bending any of the rules, but let’s not be naive here. Let’s not pretend that he (more than likely) hasn’t done all of the same things other GMs around baseball have done and are doing. On the bright side, he has been smart enough to not get caught. And, let’s be clear… possession of evidence is nine tenths of the law.

Anthopoulos is obviously fantastic at covering his tracks, and without a doubt the Braves need a lot of tracks covered.

  1. Bad free agent deals.

The clamouring for big free agent signings has never been louder.  “Get Donaldson” “Trade for Archer” “What about Happ!”

No matter where you turn someone is yelling that the brand new GM should try and clear the bad taste out of Braves’ fans’ mouths by making a big splash. However, when I mention Frank Wren’s name, I am certain that most of you instantly think of BJ Upton, Dan Uggla, and of course THE MARK TEXEIRA TRAIIIIDDDDDD!

The pressure to make a big move is huge right now, but I believe it’s the wrong move.

John Schuerholz was the master of Free Agent moves. But he almost never made those moves out of desperation or pressure. In fact signing Maddux is one of the few GIANT free agent deals he made.

I’m sure some of you are screaming, “Ken! Hang on. He made a bunch of free agent deals!” But when you really get down to it, Schuerholz didn’t go after the big splashy free agent guy.

Sure, the Braves might have moved at the trade deadline and picked up a key piece during some of their biggest runs. And, I’m sure over his extended tenure you can find a bad deal or two, but there are not a lot of them that really make you shake your head.

More often than not the splashy Free Agent deal is too late. It’s rare to make that huge splash and it not bite you in the butt.

  1. Finding the diamonds in the rough.

Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson, Rich Hill, Adrian Beltre… These are guys who seemed liked average players at one point in their careers, some even scrap heap bound (Hi. This is Josh. Congrats on making it this far in the article. I was actually tasked with editing this thing and I have no idea what “scrap heap bound” means. Ken’s a redneck.) but at a certain point something clicked and all four figured it out.  

Anthopoulos made the genius move of grabbing Donaldson when he was just starting to chip off some rough edges and he watched him blossom into a superstar. But the key wasn’t in acquiring Donaldson once he was great, it was in finding him before he became great.

Maybe it’s all luck, but some GM’s have a knack for finding that “guy”. Daniel Murphy’s insane turnaround, Jake Arrieta’s ascension from a 5th starter to a Cy Young winner.

It’s the stories of the guys who weren’t supposed to be stars that define amazing teams, and more importantly – amazing general managers. It’s the guys you draft in the late rounds who no one gave much of a chance. It’s not missing on your early draft picks. It’s the stuff that most people take for granted. Because of Alex’ history of finding the gems it gives me great hope that he’s the right guy for the Braves.

So sure, take a moment and enjoy the thrill of TRAAAAIIIIDDDD takes. Let your mind run wild with the possibilities, but then realize at the end of the day that at least 95% of those ideas are probably terrible trade ideas and it’s the guys you keep, the diamonds in the rough, and the free agents you don’t sign that make a huge impact and define your legacy as a GM.

Some Food for thought: As much as we want to be twitter GM’s and armchair geniuses, how are we at managing our own lives? Are we always trying to buy the next great thing, or find the little things that make a big difference in our lives? Are we searching for a way to make a big splash and change the flavor of our lives from the sour taste we might have left for others in the past? Are we consistently developing the relationships with those still in the rough? Looking for value in places that maybe other people have given up?  Maybe if we nail those things in our own life we might get a little better perspective on how to judge a general manager for our favorite baseball team.

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Could the Braves go after Josh Donaldson?

Former Auburn Tiger, from Pensacola, FL, went to high school in Mobile, brought to Toronto by Alex Anthopoulus. Could it happen? Should it happen? What about Austin Riley? What about Camargo?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, you knuckleheads. It’s hot take season. And, when it’s hot take season, us baseball fans just can’t contain our hot takes. It’s what we do and it’s what we have done for over a century.

I first heard this idea brought up by the boys over at ChopCast. At first, I thought it was a bit wild. But that was before Alex Anthopoulos was announced as the new GM for the Atlanta Braves.

The notion doesn’t sound so wild anymore.

Let me first say this about Anthoploulus. He’s not perfect and he hasn’t won every trade. But like I said a few podcasts ago, some of the best GMs in baseball win AND lose trades. Anthopoulos has won and lost some trades. He’s probably won more than he’s lost. Plus, his drafting skills seem to be excellent.

Anthopoulos traded some amazing talent for an older R.A. Dickey, but he also traded peanuts for Josh Donaldson and signed Bautista and Encarnacion. And let’s face it – Alex Anthopoulos brought the Blue Jays from being completely irrelevant to being one of the best attended teams in MLB. This being said, could he go after Josh Donaldson?

But what about Austin Riley?

I think the Atlanta Braves love Austin Riley. In fact, they turned down a Chris Sale trade because the White Sox wanted Austin Riley. Now, that love for Riley could end up being different with a new guy in charge, with no emotional attachment to these players. But even if the Braves love Riley like I believe they do, and despite how great he’s been in the AFL, and in double-A this past season, he’s still at the very least one year away from MLB.

Donaldson could bridge that one-year gap. But he certainly wouldn’t be cheap. 

If Anthopoulos wants to get aggressive, he could go after Donaldson for one year, and then cross the bridge of a possible extension when it gets here. Now, if Anthopoulos deems 2018 as yet another re-building year, then sure, he might not go to such drastic measures getting a guy like Donaldson. I’m a believer in Johan Camargo, and as it sits now, I believe Camargo to be the best third-base option on the team currently. That certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world for the Atlanta Braves.

Whether it’s landing Donaldson or not, I believe Atlanta Braves fans could be in for a wild and interesting ride this off-season. Sometimes it’s a good thing for a new guy (not just any new guy in this case, an extremely qualified new guy) to come in, with no attachment to any players, and do what’s best for the future.

Since 2015 Josh Donaldson has boasted the highest wRC+ (153) and the second most homers (111) among MLB third basemen. This 30-year-old seems to be in the prime of his career. Whether the Blue Jays retain him, or whether he ends up somewhere else, someone will be lucky to have him.

Fun fact about Josh Donaldson – In 2008 this young Cubs catching prospect was traded, along with Matt MurtonEric Patterson and Sean Gallagher, to the Oakland Athletics for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. In short, Jim Hendry wasn’t the best general manager the Chicago Cubs ever had.

by Josh Brown (aka @santoniobrown)

 

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Hindsight is 20/20

I love it when a plan comes together.  Unfortunately for Colon and the Braves, that doesn’t always happen in real life.

This past off-season Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella signed 43-year-old Bartolo Colon to a one-year $12.5 million deal. The idea was to get a couple of qualified MLB starters on one-year deals to bridge the gap between now and the time when some prospects were expected to be ready.

It was a sound idea. Despite Bartolo’s age, it made sense. At the time, I was not completely on board with the R.A. Dickey one-year deal (even though I think he’s one of the coolest guys in the sport and would love to have a beer with him) but I was on board with the Bartolo Colon signing.

Despite Bartolo being 43-years-old at the time, he was coming off two good seasons with the New York Mets and seemed to be a unicorn when it came to aging. Now, I did think $12.5MM was a little steep, but the signing made complete sense to me.

Based on Bartolo’s history, and even recent history, the realistic expectation was for him to at least come close to replicating the last two seasons. It was essentially, as my co-host at Knockahoma Nation Ken Hendrix said, a $12.5MM insurance policy.

Well, for whatever reason (and maybe it is the age at this point) Bartolo Colon cannot seem to locate his pitches and has become nothing short of an embarrassment for the Atlanta Braves.

With Colon’s ERA now at 7.78 the “I told you so”s are all over Twitter and bloggers like Jeff Schultz are reveling in this monumental mishap.

Two things – John Coppolella (while a graduate of Notre Dame) does not have extrasensory perception and John Coppolella has done just a few more things than this measly one-year signing of Bartolo Colon.

Should Atlanta Braves fans blame John Coppolella for signing Bartolo Colon to a large one-year deal? Yes.  But should Atlanta Braves fans and AJC basketball bloggers judge John Coppolella based on this one transaction? No.

John Coppolella is currently being judged by many because of this Bartolo Colon mistake. And I’ll be the first to admit – It’s a large mistake (no pun intended).

I was listening to Grant McAuley’s podcast Around the Big Leagues last week and was reminded that not all trades and transactions are going to be a winner.

We tend to remember all of John Schuerholz’s great trades, but we tend to forget about the bad ones… Adam WainwrightMark Teixeira. Every great GM is going to lose some trades and every GM is going to lose some free agent signings.

Meanwhile, since becoming a first-time Major League general manager at age 35 John Coppolella has turned a terrible farm system into the #1 ranked farm system in all of baseball in two years.

So while he’s made a mistake (a mistake than many could have made) with signing Bartolo Colon to a $12.5MM deal, such a mistake pales in comparison to the accomplishments he’s made in just two years.

Could another GM have flipped two good weeks of Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarezfor a legit power-hitting prospect like Travis Demeritte? Could another GM have traded two minor league/non-prospect pitchers for Brandon Phillips while getting the Reds to eat $13MM of Phillips’ $14MM salary?  Could another GM have traded fringe prospect Juan Yepez, who had to repeat low-A, for Matt Adams and cash?

Frank Wren was fired in 2014. John Coppolella took over in 2015. In other words, this “rebuild” we keep hearing about only started two years ago.

To put this into perspective, Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka were Atlanta’s first two picks in that next draft.  Both Soroka and Allard are 19-years-old, ahead of schedule, dominating double-A against guys much older than them.

Worthy of mention: on average, a minor league ballplayer spends four years in the minors before making his MLB debut. So to answer the complaint, “Bartolo Colon is terrible. Where’s this number one farm I keep hearing about? #askcoppy” – They are in the farm still, where they’re expected to be, and many are ahead of schedule.

So, do mishaps like Bartolo Colon give Atlanta Braves fans legit reason to complain? Absolutely. But look at the whole picture.

If you’re judging John Coppolella based solely on Bartolo Colon’s demise, then trade in your Braves cap and become a Nats fan because there will be no room for you when guys like Soroka, Allard and Acuña are embarrassing the NL East.

Share this junk with your friends, you knuckleheads