Atlanta Braves Armchair GM, 3&4!

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Mar 15, 2015; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; The Atlanta Braves logo painted on the field during a spring training baseball game at Champion Stadium. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves 10-5. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Armchair GM #3&4!

Alright Ladies and Gents! It’s that time again.  Today’s Armchair GM Contestants go by the psuedo-names VeeDub and BraveNewWorld.  We will kick this thing off with VeeDub, but first…

Here is the link for Armchair GMs 1&2 BadgerBrave and Eric Dudley!

When judging these entries, here are 3 simple guidelines to follow:

  • Are the contracts realistic in dollars?
  • Do you think the players fill the Braves holes for next season?
  • Do you think the players fill long-term needs?

Let’s get this ball rollin’!

Next: Braves Armchair GM VeeDub!

Aug 19, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher

Jeff Samardzija

(29) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Armchair GM VeeDub!

As an Atlanta Braves armchair GM, VeeDub enjoys listening to AudioBooks before making any decision feeling that there’s clarity to be found in the monotony of hearing the same voice for hours on end. VeeDub also has 7 cats of which keep him company in his 600 square foot studio overlooking the construction of Suntrust Park.  His drink of choice? Due to the cats and unending hammering constantly interrupting his DVR’d episodes of Downton Abbey? Espresso. Lots and lots of espresso.

Tier 1 – Max budget of $15M
SP-Brandon Beachy: 3MM
RP-Jerry Blevins: 2MM
RP- Neal Cotts: 2.5MM
LF- Steve Pearce: 4MM
Bench- Juan Uribe– 3MM

This is nearly impossible! $15 mil just doesn’t buy as much as it used to!

Where there are empty slots, I’d just insert a rookie because, in today’s baseball finances, not many “free agent level” players are making less than $3M per year and, if they are, they probably won’t produce much more than your average AAA graduate.

I’d bring Beachy back. Why not? He’s cheap and that’s important in this scenario.

Sign Steve Pearce, because the Braves need SOME production; even if it’s only half of the time via platoon.

Juan Uribe is on every one of my lists because he provides not only pop from the bench but he’s a steady, professional presence who’s a proven clubhouse leader…and he can be hired cheaply.

Tier 2 – Max budget of $25M

SP-Brandon Beachy: 3MM
RP-Jerry Blevins and Neal Cotts: 2MM  and 2.5MM
LF-Gerardo Parra: 6MM
C-Dioner Navarro: 5MM
Bench- Steve Pearce: 4MM
B-Juan Uribe: 3MM



In this scenario, money is still extremely tight. This will be a much more enjoyable exercise once Bourn and Swisher are off the books!

Since money is so tight, we’re focusing on buying low on players that have proven they’re capable of delivering average production. Yeah, aim high, right?

That said, I believe Parra, Navarro and Pearce would be good complimentary players (to Atlanta’s core group).

Tier 3 – Max budget of $35M

SP-Jeff Samardzija: 10MM
RP-Jerry Blevins: 2MM
RP-Neal Cotts: 2.5MM
LF-Colby Rasmus10MM
C-Dioner Navarro: 5MM
Bench-Steve Pearce: 4MM
Bench-Juan Uribe: 3MM


OK, now we’re getting Simmons and Freeman some help. This budget allows us to bring in a couple of quality players in Jeff Samardzija and Colby Rasmus.

Samardzija’s troubles this past year have been well documented. That’s why I’d try to sign him on to a one-year, $10M, bounce back contract. With better defense and pitching in the National League, Samardzija should have a decent season with Atlanta and, hopefully, he’ll eat up a lot of innings.

Colby Rasmus, like Jeff Samardzija, has had both good and bad seasons recently. True, he’s coming off a good season with Houston but we all still remember 2014 and the 225/287/448 slash line he threw up. He can play some defense and he has some pop but a career .313 OBP is barely adequate. In fact, his career OPS+ is only 105; the definition of slightly better than average. A note about his defense, however, I’d put him in RF and move Markakis to LF. I think Markakis’ throwing arm is of average power and accuracy but his range is very limited. Overall, I believe Rasmus would serve Atlanta best in RF.

Tier 4 – Max budget of $58M

SP- Wei-Yin Chen14MM
RP-Darren O’Day7MM
RP-Jerry Blevins: 2MM
LF-Alex Gordon16MM
C-Alex Avila6MM
Bench-Ben Zobrist10MM
Bench-Juan Uribe: 3MM

OK, a budget of this caliber would greatly improve the Braves. In fact, I’d say this team would play better than .500 baseball!

Wei-Yin Chen is a groundball pitcher who would become even better with Simmons and Freeman playing behind him.

Likewise, O’Day is a groundball machine who would feed batters to the Gold Glove shortstop.

Alex Gordon would not only provide solid defense but, like Ben Zobrist, he consistently produces high OBP’s. With Zobrist leading off and Gordon batting second, Atlanta’s lineup is much more frightening.

Also, I’d give Zobrist the 2B position and Jace Peterson could come off the bench.

Alex Avila had a bad season last year but he has a career .325 OBP and he’s known as a good defender…well, at least not a bad defender.

A potential roster for this team could look like this:

Zobrist 2B
Gordon LF
Markakis RF
Freeman 1B
Olivera 3B
Avila C
Simmons SS
Maybin CF

J. Peterson

S. Miller


It’s a shame that option #4 isn’t a real choice because, of the four, this is the only budget that would get the Braves back into contention.

That’s it from VeeDub! I really like the idea of Alex Avila and could be a great buy-low option! Now on to #4 Armchair GM, BraveNewWorld

Next: Braves Armchair GM BraveNewWorld

Oct 4, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher

Matt Wieters

(32) stands at home plate during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Armchair GM BraveNewWorld

As an Atlanta Braves Armchair GM, BraveNewWorld loves the bad pun! Some of his favorites:

  • A dyslexic man walks into a bra
  • Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says “Dam!”
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

While BraveNewWorld carries a no-nonsense approach in the office (“especially at trade deadline” Billy Beane has been overheard saying), as soon as the tie comes off, he moonlights as a stand-up comedian at the Laughing Skull Lounge, however I’ve heard he isn’t very punny! *Zing!*

Tier 1

Catcher: Chris Iannetta – Iannetta is one of the better pitch framers in the game. While his offensive stats were never much to sneeze at, last year was terrible. Most teams see him as a backup, but he’s only going to be 33 (in April) and has had some good seasons as recently as 2014 when he hit for an OPS+ of 123.

Contract: 2yrs, 7m (2016: $3m, 2017:$4m Option, $1 buyout)
Starter: R. A. Dickey – Dickey has not duplicated his monumental 2012 season since signing with the Jays but he has been a steady presence in the senior circuit. Unfortunately, Dickey is on the wrong side of 40 and hasn’t been more than average since 2012. What he does well is make catchers work. If the Braves want a solid #3/4 who will push Bethancourt then this is your man.

Contract: 2 yrs, 15m (2016: $7m, 2017: $4m w/ additional $4 in incentives based on Time on the DL)
OF: Shane Victorino – The Flyin’ Hawaiian was a thorn in the braves side for many years as a member of the Phillies. Now he’s coming off a monster contract with Boston that was… disappointing. However, his speed and fielding can make him an asset. If he’s after a make good contract then the Braves should grab him.

Contract: 1yr, 2m (2016: $2m)
Bench: Steve Pearce – Pearce is an under the radar bench piece. Unlike Kelly Johnson and Zobrist, Pearce does not play much infield but he does play the corner outfield positions well and a serviceable 1B. For a guaranteed 2 year deal he might be willing to take a bit less cash.

Contract: 2 yr, 7m (2016: $3m, 2017: $4m)

Tier 2

Catcher: Chris Iannetta  

Contract: 2yrs, 7m (2016: $3m, 2017:$4m Option, $1 buyout)

Starter: Doug Fister: This one screams one year make good. With Simmons at short and Bourn/Smith in the OF he has a chance of rebounding and getting a nice fat contract in 2017.

1yr, 10m (2016: 10m)
OF: Marlon Byrd: Byrd has been one of the more consistent power hitters on the market recently. While names like Upton and Heyward will focus attention of the big spenders, Byrd is likely to languish on the market as a booby prize. Instead the Braves should be aggressive and try and lock him up with a longer contract.

2 yrs, 17m (2016: 8m, 2017: 9m)
Bench: Kelly Johnson: The obvious choice here. Whether it was a level of comfort being back home or just a streak of luck, he was a great pickup for the braves. Plus he provides that baby Braves mentorship these new faces need.

Contract: 2 yrs, 9m (2016: $4m, 2017: $5m)

Tier 3

Catcher: Matt Wieters: The one that got away. After a down season he may be the steal of the offseason. While some see a future DH, I think he has a chance to stick in LF after his catching days are over. His injuries are not red flags for a future running and the potential is still there.

Contract: 3 yrs $60m (2016: $15m, 2017: $20m, 2018: $25m)

Starter: Doug Fister:  1yr, 10m (2016: 10m)
OF: Nori Aoki:

Unlike most outfielders who will be in demand this off season, Aoki is a consistent player in the Markakis mold. While it can be argued that we should focus on pop in the lineup, with Wieters on board as protection for Freeman I think the Braves should play cash savy till the next generation arrives.

Contract: 2yrs $10m (2016: $5m, 2017: $5m)

Bench: Steve Pierce

Contract: 2 yr, 7m (2016: $3m, 2017: $4m)
Bullpen: Casey Janssen – Another make good candidate. Janssen is expensive for the Nats and is coming of a sub par year so I don’t see the option being picked up. The $1.5m buyout should soften the blow enough for him to accept a small contract to try and increase his value.

Contract: 1yr, 2m (2016: $2m)

Tier 4. Bonus Level!  

Catcher: Matt Wieters  Contract: 3 yrs $60m (2016: $15m, 2017: $20m, 2018: $25m)
Starter: Doug Fister   Contract: (2016: 10m)

Bullpen: Joakim Soria Hey look, a former closer. McDowell might be able to put a bit of polish back on a player who was never really dominant but had some flashes of greatness.

Contract: 1 yr, 5m (2016: $5m)
Bullpen: Joba ChamberlainMcDowell can work wonders. Let’s see if he can here.

Contract: (2016: $1m)
Bullpen: Tyler ClippardAnother Nats player who could a change of scenery. He won’t be small dollars, but a few million could return a decent prospect or a great setup man.

Contract: 2 yr $8m (2016: $4m, 2017: $4m, escalators for saves and holds)
Bench: Ben Zobrist: Would you pay a utility player $20m/year? Zobrist is the first player in modern memory to have a shot. I doubt he makes it that far, but 3yrs $50m isn’t too far off. It’s a higher AAV for a player who seems to do everything well and make those around him better.

Contract: (2016: $18m, 2017: $16m, 2018: $16m)

Next: 'til Tomorrow!

Mar 31, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Atlanta Braves manager

Fredi Gonzalez

gives a thumbs up to his players before opening day baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

That wraps up another episode of Atlanta Braves Armchair GM

We hope that you’ll continue reading over the course of the next few weeks.  I’ll continue taking entries through tomorrow evening so email me at cothrjr at gmail dot com if you’re interested in participating.

And, as always…

Let’s say it together…1, 2, 3

Go Braves!