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Atlanta Braves Morning Chop from the Mock Winter Meetings

Sure – we’re doing this for fun and compressing months into about 54 hours of frenzied wheeling and dealing.  But if reality is even close … I don’t want the job!

The Atlanta Braves have the unenviable task of taking their team from one plateau to the next in 2019.

I say ‘unenviable’ because every year that we do this event, I become more convinced that the job of a major league General Manager requires tireless dedication, endless research, communications skills, negotiation skills, lawyering skills, all-hours’ access, complete rule-book awareness, and at least name-recognition knowledge about nearly every baseball player worth knowing – for every club.

Heck, I just put myself on the spot and realized that I can’t even name all 30 GMs in the game.  Granted, there have been recent changes (yeah, I know about Brodie Van Wagenen [Mets] and that Mike Elias is almost certainly next for the Orioles), but there are some names that escape me.

A real GM can’t do that.

I don’t know if the flurry of activity we’ve had will match that of the real Winter Meetings coming up in 4 weeks, but I will say we’ve tried to do it as best we can for FanSided.  As of this moment, we’ve had these faux transactions:

  • 24 trades
  • 1 contract extension
  • 27 free agent signings

The big boys are now off the board.  Y’all may have noted my own hand-wringing the other day about Bryce Harper and him being too costly for his production, but the bidding war that erupted was simply nutty.

  • 5 different teams bid on Harper
  • The Winner?  The Phillies… 12 years, $485 million.  Over $40 million every year.

That is ridiculous… unless the real clubs end up spending that much in real life.

Granted – it’s easy to spend other people’s money…. more so when it doesn’t really exist.  Even more when you don’t have to live with the results and don’t have to build a team around him.  But I did appeal for personal restraint…hey, and at least 25 teams declined to enter this bid war.  That could be about right.

The Pheaux Phils and White Faux-Sox were both in on Harper and Machado.  They split the bonus babies in half:  the Sox got Machado (10 years, $355million).

The Phillies also took Patrick Corbin at $30m per/5 years and Wilson Ramos at nearly $11m over 3 years … so in 3 transactions, they spent $81 million.  Well, they’re the team with the most to spend, so there it is.

Other big ‘deals’ so far include these:

  • Keuchel/Nationals; 5 yrs./$110m
  • Marwin Gonzalez/Giants; 5 yrs./$90m
  • Craig Kimbrel/Boston; 4 years/$68m

Once you got beyond the topmost tier, the numbers got to reasonable levels… and there’s still more to come.


More Coming at you Fast

Caught a tidbit that you might be interested in.  We talked recently about the new hire of Mike Fast to support Alex Anthopoulos with analytics.  This truly isn’t going to be a routine hire by my own wagering.

His title at Houston was ‘Director of Research and Development’ – the top expert in analytics in Houston.  Here are some of the headlines, quotes, and notes I’ve dug up about Fast and his team:

Someday in the future, the ascension of the 2017 Astros may be remembered as the moment the analytics movement conquered the game for good. While other teams with a clear analytical bent have won titles in the past, none did so with the same aggressiveness and thoroughness and the same all-encompassing, top-down embrace of the Astros — starting with General Manager Jeff Luhnow, who holds degrees in engineering from Penn and business administration from Northwestern, and filtering down through the organization.  (emphasis added)

Kiley McDaniel (on 11/14): One of the top analysts in the game. I think fans may underrate how impactful that is, potentially having a small to medium edge you didn’t have before in dozens of decisions

The Atlanta Braves were already making some ‘tweaks’ that gave a nod to the numbers in 2018.  They had already hired Jason Pare away from the Marlins – their senior director of analytics who had his own strong reviews.

Essentially, the Braves are now doubling down on the success that they believe the stats gave them in 2018… and making an even bigger commitment to the process by bringing in some of the best in the sport.

So expect this to translate into numerous on-and-off-field changes… though there’s a fair chance that we won’t even know that most of them even happened.

It could be positioning changes.  It could mean personnel decisions (incoming or outgoing!).  It could mean changes in scouting, base-running, or more.

Honestly, the thing that came to mind first when I started considering the impact Fast could have?  You know how the Astros have been regularly accused of cheating lately?

Next: Time to Push in all of the Chips?

Part of that could have been Mike Fast… simply by using really good numbers.

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