Tag Archives: Shae Simmons

Could The Braves Be Competitive In 2017 And 2018 WITHOUT Giving Up Core Pieces?

Just doing a little daydreaming on the eve of Hot Stove season, and expanding on some minor moves suggested by the guys on XM’s Inside Pitch (Casey Stern and Brad Lidge) this afternoon. After they both pushed the long-rumored trade for Brian McCann, they went on to say that they thought signing Justin Turner would be a great move (even though he was given a Qualifying Offer by the Dodgers today). After pondering the fact that the Braves’ first round pick next summer is protected and dreaming on how much those moves would further improve Atlanta’s offense, I can’t say that I’d disagree.

Of course if John Coppolella & Company would consider giving up a draft pick and something of value to add that kind of offense, you have to imagine that they’d go even further and try to put a truly competitive team on the field to open Suntrust Park next spring, so they’d have to go even further – but could that be done without mortgaging the future???

I think it could, and here’s how…

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Braves’ Organizational Depth Chart – Pre-Trade Deadline 2016

 

Here’s a quick look at where the organization stands prior to what could be a busy week during the rebuild. Even if the Braves aren’t particularly active on the trade market, we could be getting closer to some veterans being released to provide opportunities for some of the youngsters to get their feet wet at the MLB level with an eye towards Opening Day 2017 at SunTrust Park. This is not a reflection of our Midseason Top 30 Prospects which will be unveiled following the deadline.

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Prospect Hot Sheet – Week Ending 5/22/2016

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   1.) Shae Simmons – RHRP – Rome Braves

He’s baaaaaack – and he promises to be back with the big club soon. The Braves have been exercising caution with one of their prized pen arms, working Simmons back from Tommy John surgery slowly – exactly as they should in this lost season. He returned to game action last week, and it looks like there’s little chance they’ll be able to keep him down long following three appearances with Gwinnett and Rome. His line in his first three appearances? 3 IP, 2 hits allowed, 0 ER, 7 Ks, 3 BBs. He may get a few more appearances before being activated since the organization will want to see him work on back-to-back days at least once, but he’s well on his way to becoming an important piece of the Braves’ pen in late-game situations.

 

   2.) Dansby Swanson – SS – Mississippi Braves

He’s adjusting to a higher level of competition – and quickly. The first real challenge was his AA promotion, and this week saw him post a slash line of .375/.429/.625/1.054 with 1 3B, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 9 runs scored, and 1 SB. His overall line is now .309/.408/.502/.910 with 23 2Bs, 5 3Bs, 5 HRs, 35 RBIs, and 49 runs scored,  PLUS a 36/39 K/BB Ratio in his first 249 minor league ABs. He’s also been successful in 10 of his 12 SB attempts. There’s little doubt we’ll see Dansby in Atlanta in 2016 – the question is when?

 

   3.) Max Povse – RHSP – Carolina Mudcats

Povse continues his climb up the Braves’ prospect rankings, and it shouldn’t be much longer before he starts to draw attention from the more well-known media outlets. Max notched his third win of the season yesterday when he beat Wilmington (Royals), delivering 5 shutout innings while allowing 5 hits, no walks, and 6 Ks. His season line is now 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .216 BAA, while allowing only 1 HR (38 total hits) in 47.1 IP with a 47/9 K/BB Ratio.

 

   4.) A. J. Minter – LHRP – Carolina Mudcats

The Braves snagged Minter with the #75 pick in last year’s draft when he slid after having Tommy John surgery in March. After his long rehab process, the big lefty’s showing why he was climbing draft boards before his injury. Following 5 dominant outings in Rome, Minter was promoted to Carolina where he continues to mow opposing hitters down. His season line following 2 appearances in High-A is 8.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.35 WHIP, .071 BAA,  only 2 hits allowed, and a 10/1 K/BB Ratio. If A. J. remains a reliever, he could be fast-tracked and could team with Arodys Vizcaino and Shae Simmons as a dominant trio late in games as early as sometime in 2017.

 

   5.) Tyrell Jenkins – RHSP – Gwinnett Braves

Jenkins continues to fly a bit under-the-radar in the mainstream media, but he’s likely going to get his shot at a rotation spot in Atlanta sooner rather than later. The 23 year old “afterthought” in the Jason Heyward-Shelby Miller deal continues to impress following his 4th win of the season against Durham (Rays). His 6 IP, 2 ER, 7 hits, 1 K, 3 BB performance against them Wednesday brings his season line to 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .284 BAA, with a 27/19 K/BB Ratio. He’s still around the plate a little too much (although he’s only allowed 2 HRs) and needs to cut down on the free passes a bit, but he’s showing that he knows how to pitch rather than throw. If the schedule would’ve lined up better, we’d likely have seen him called up to start yesterday instead of Casey Kelly. There will be some point this season that he’ll be needed, and he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.

 

   6.) Luke Dykstra – 2B – Rome Braves

Another week goes by, and Dykstra just keeps hitting. With only one hitless game this week (Saturday), the youngest Dykstra slashed .300/.429/.433/.862 with 3 2Bs and 3 runs scored. While he’s not as flashy as some of the Braves’ middle infield prospects, he’s quietly been very good, and his season slash line now stands at .313/.358/.381/.739 over 141 ABs with 10 2Bs, 22 RBIs, 16 runs scored, and 5 SBs. Expect to see him challenged at a higher level later this season as the promotions at the higher levels start.

“Topping Off” The System

Now that the rush of the Winter Meetings has passed, we’ll turn our focus to other potential moves that could be forthcoming as “The Johns” continue their quest to transform the organization’s system into the best in the game. The question recently being asked by many in the industry has been “Why not go ‘all the way’ while you’re at it?” In other words, now that you’ve “mailed it in” in 2016 – and potentially 2017 as well – why not go ahead and gut the big club’s roster and add even more prospects to the impressive pile you’ve already built? While it would sting for a little bit, I’ve been in the minority who have thought that should be the goal for some time now. For the record, I’ve been in favor of beginning a rebuild for a few years – while the team was exciting to watch with the Uptons, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis in the lineup, I also felt that it just didn’t have that “it” that it was going to take to get over the hump and win another Championship, and the window that it had with those guys was rapidly closing if payroll couldn’t be increased.

There are compelling arguments that can be made for either stance as the answer to that question. It’s completely understandable for younger Braves fans to be impatient – 2015 was the worst season they’d experienced in their lives. That said, the older generation saw much worse in the dark days (the late 70s through the beginning of “The Run” with the exception of Dale Murphy’s  two MVP seasons). That crowd tends to feel that sacrificing a couple seasons is more than OK with them as long as they don’t have to go through that again.

Since I’ve already tipped my hand about my view, I’ll explain the reasoning a bit and take a look at what doing so could mean moving forward…

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Could Trading Shelby Miller Actually Make The Braves Competitive Quicker?

The games have begun, and we now wait to see who blinks first. Several confirmed reports say the Braves and Cubs had been talking about a trade centered around Shelby Miller and Jorge Soler (before the announcement that Chicago had agreed to a 2 year/$32 million deal with John Lackey last night), and Jerry Crasnick has reported that the Braves may just hold onto Miller for now to see what happens as the market unfolds. We’ve seen this time and time again – teams seem to line up pretty well, but one or the other pulls back for a little bit to see if they can squeeze just a little bit more value for their guy since the other team needs him more. Many of the “experts” felt that Jorge Soler alone probably wasn’t quite enough alone to merit trading Miller from the Braves’ perspective (and I have to agree with them – of course I’m also a Braves fan) – Atlanta controls Miller for three more seasons, and interest in him has never been higher – but also needs controllable impact bats to help complete their rebuild. Soler definitely fits that profile, but also comes with question marks as well – specifically a high (25+%) K-Rate and marginal defensive value. That said, there’s another powerful right-handed power bat out there (who’s widely speculated to be “unavailable” – as if there was such a thing) who just so happens to belong to a team desperately looking to add to its rotation but really only shopping for 0-3 SPs. That player of course is Aaron Judge, and his team is the New York Yankees.

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Santa, Are You Listening???

So here we are on the last Saturday of November, recovered (or recovering) from our turkey comas and hoping we can find SOME way to eventually pay off the credit card bills that we (and/or our significant others) ran up Thursday evening and yesterday on Black Friday (while also still trying to figure out what the name for Thursday’s portion of that will be referred to as one day). Like millions of folks this time of year, I began compiling my Christmas wish list yesterday. I only made it to number one before my head began to spin as much as my stomach after jotting down the same item that always seems to top the list – another Braves’ Championship. Taking the afternoon off may or may not have been such a good idea since it gave me time to think about how to make that wish come true, sooner rather than later – and WITHOUT compromising the organization’s rebuilding/reloading/restocking process.

When taking into account the most recent rumors making the rounds as well as trying to line things up with the organization’s stated goal of becoming competitive again by the time 2017 rolls around, it’s tough to see that happening without another drastic trade or two given the current group of players available via free-agency and the one presumably available next winter. Braves’ Chairman Terry McGuirk has been recently quoted as saying that payroll will increase substantially beginning in January of 2017, but unless several prospects’ timelines move up quite a bit (threatening to hurt their development), there will still be holes that can’t be filled simply by “buying” players. So…

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Everybody Loves A “Blockbuster”

So the Cubs are currently doing background work on a handful of Pitchers to add to their rotation, presumably including Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran. They’ve also been linked to the “Aces” at the top of the market (David Price and Zack Greinke), as well as free-agents on the next tier (Jeff Samardzija and John Lackey) in an effort to build enough pitching depth to get them by the teams in their division and the pitching-rich Mets for the next several years while they have their young offensive stars under control cheaply and trying to finally end the most well-known stretch of futility in professional sports. Theo and Jed don’t strike ANYONE as a front office tandem that will act out of any feeling of desperation now that they’ve overseen Chicago’s return to relevance, but do want to be the ones to finally give Cubs fans at least ONE Championship.

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