Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Baseball Post

Why were the 1991-2005 Atlanta Braves so great for so long?  I've always believed it was primarily because of one thing: better than any other team in the expansion era, they understood Bill James's great insight that winning teams invariably suffer because they stick with the players who got them there too long. 

Terry Pendleton?  Well, maybe a bit too long, since he was only OK in 1993 and awful in 1994, but it was other teams that then paid the price -- over 2000 more PAs as an over-the-hill player.  Ron Gant?  The Braves missed out on his MVP-level 1995...and a decade of him as a journeyman.  David Justice, Jeff Blauser, Javy Lopez, Ryan Klesko, Andruw Jones...the Braves weren't going to let the possibility of a comeback season elsewhere make them keep a player a year or four too long. 

Of course, they made some mistakes along the way, but here's what you need to know: almost ever player's last year as a regular stinks, and very few players had their last year as a regular with the Braves. 

In other news, Aubrey Huff re-signed with the Giants for two more years.  

10 comments:

  1. The Cubs did their part by developing one of the all-time great starting pitchers, Greg Maddux, and then failing to sign him when he qualified for free agency.

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  2. for the most part you're right but one player you don't mention is chipper jones, who they've kept around longer than they needed to. For the last two years he's been pretty mediocre.

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  3. Chipper Jones is still one of the 5 or so best 3B in the league right now. Check out his wOBA. His OBP remains so high that he is a legitimate top of the lineup threat every time up. I think the braves are looking for a .280/.380/.420 line from him this year, which is incredibly valuable. Where are the Braves going to possibly find an affordable 3B who's better than that? Especially when they can just use that money to improve a worse position like LF/CF or acquire Dan Uggla?

    As far as the original post I completely agree. I would add cutting ties to hometown hero Jeff Franceour and realizing that McCann was the more valuable player early--and signing him to a long term deal as good vision. At the time people def. still thought Frenchy had at least a lot of potential, even if he was a free-swinger. Pat Burrell at worst, with strong defense. How wrong they were, and how right the Braves were to get rid of him.

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  4. You're forgetting the biggest one: when they dumped Dale Murphy....

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  5. Sorry. He was dumped before that. Still, they did the right thing.

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  6. And conveniently forgot to mention that they only got one title out of it.

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  7. The Braves were so successful partly because they were able to replace those declining veteran (and their large salary) by bring up someone from their minor league system and not expect them to carry the team. Chipper, Furcal, Millwood.

    That's why I worry about Uggla. It was a great trade and he should be just what we need this year. But is he worth a 4-5 year commitment at 12 million a year? I don't think so. But who do we have internally that could replace him? No one. Which could force Wrenn to sign him rather than be back in this position next off season.

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  8. "realizing that McCann was the more valuable player early--and signing him to a long term deal as good vision."

    A somewhat unfortunate turn of phrase.

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  9. Very short post! but very intriguing...

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