Showing posts with label Freddie Freeman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Freddie Freeman. Show all posts

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Braves smartly investing in young core

A tip for frugality that gets passed around from time to time is to shop in your pantry for dinner instead of buying all new ingredients for that night's meal. Find something you can use that you've already got, and work from there.

Andrelton Simmons tells reporters
how awesome it is to be rich.
The Braves have decided to do something similar this offseason. Instead of focusing on the free agent market, they've instead worked to sign some of their young players to big contract extensions to keep them in Atlanta for years to come.

The latest in the line of extensions was the seven-year, $58 million deal for young shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The Braves decided to go all-in on the 24-year-old after only one full season in the big leagues.

This move came after locking up closer Craig Kimbrel (4 years, $42 million, plus a team option), first baseman Freddie Freeman (8 years, $135 million) and starting pitcher Julio Teheran (6 years, $32.4 million, plus a team option).

These are all big investments in players already on the Braves' roster, and looking at each one individually, each also has its risks.

Simmons is pretty light on experience and hasn't even shown he's an average hitter yet. Freeman has posted only one monster season, his most recent, yet his contract was among the biggest given to a player with his service time. Teheran and Kimbrel are both pitchers who could get hurt. Teheran, like Simmons, also only has one full year of experience, and as good as Kimbrel has been, he's still only a closer expected to throw around 70 innings a year.

Atlanta is definitely agreeing to fork out more money the next few years than it would by going year-to-year, renewing the contracts and taking these players to arbitration when they accrue enough service time for that. 

But here's the way I look at these deals, and I'm sure how the Braves do, too:

Simmons is already an amazing defender and a nonzero with the bat. If he never gets any better, the Braves will get a good value out of this contract. If he makes adjustments and becomes an average or better hitter -- which his minor league track records suggests he can -- then this contract is a massive bargain.

Freeman's huge 2013 came after two good-but-not-great years for a first baseman. But it's hard to fault Freeman for being the best first baseman in the organization as a 21- and 22-year-old. Now just 24, he's already more accomplished than Mark Teixeira was at the same age. Unless something goes wrong, the Braves will be paying much less for the very best years of Freeman's career than the Yankees paid ($180 million) for Teixeira's last great year, three decent years, and what might be four awful, useless years.

The same goes for Kimbrel, who will cost less than other closers such as Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Cordero and ... hold your breath ... B.J. Ryan ... have cost teams on contracts signed over the last decade. Kimbrel could have even eclipsed this total by going to arbitration with his gaudy save and strikeout totals.

Having Teheran under control means not having to plug a rotation hole with an unproven or more expensive player.

And don't forget the pay scale in baseball is only going up right now.

The Braves do lose some flexibility with these deals. If any of these guys gets hurt, or just becomes awful, Atlanta can't just nontender them and walk away. But that's the case when teams choose to sign a player from outside the organization to a huge contract as a free agent. (Too keep it close to Atlanta here, don't you think the Braves wish they could flush Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton and the rest of their contracts down the memory hole?)

Even if the total dollars in these contracts seem eye-popping right now, they still pale in comparison to some of the deals given to players not under team control.

The Braves are climbing on the hook for some big paychecks here, but in return they're keeping the pantry stocked without paying free agent prices, which means they stand to put a good team on the field and save money in the long run.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another unwritten rules violation, Carlos Gomez edition

Atlanta Braves left-hander Paul Maholm drilled Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez in the leg with an 88 mph fastball on June 23. Gomez took exception to it, believing it was intentional, and he hasn't forgotten about it.

So, Gomez went to the plate looking for revenge when the two men competed against each other again Wednesday night. There's no question Gomez was looking to take Maholm deep. He took a mighty cut and missed on the first pitch, almost falling down in the process. On the second pitch, he connected, sending one deep into the seats in left-center field.

Give Gomez credit for that. If you believe a pitcher has hit you intentionally, one of the best ways to deal with that is to hit a home run next time you face him. Perfectly acceptable. What happened after Gomez made contact wasn't so acceptable, as he stood there and admired his handiwork, then stared at Maholm and flipped the bat behind him before rounding the bases.

On his way around the bases, Gomez jawed with Maholm, Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman and catcher Brian McCann. Gomez actually never touched home plate, because McCann confronted him about 20 feet up the third-base line. The two men exchanged more heated words, and the benches emptied. You can watch video of the incident here

It's no secret I've never liked Gomez. I've disliked him since his days with the Minnesota Twins. He's a hot dog and a loose cannon. His actions on the field often cross the line into obnoxious territory, and this incident is just the latest example. He got tossed out of the game, and rightfully so. He's an idiot.

However, I can't put 100 percent of the blame on Gomez for this one. There are certain teams around baseball that fancy themselves as gatekeepers of the unwritten rules of the game. Atlanta is starting to become one of those teams. Not even a month ago, the Braves were involved in a similar incident when Miami Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez, a 21-year-old kid, got a little too excited about hitting his first major league home run. 

Is it really necessary to have an altercation when someone stands and admires a home run for a little too long? Have our feelings gotten that sensitive? For me, the Braves are living in a glass house. One of their own players, Justin Upton, has been known to pose after hitting a home run. Most teams probably have a guy or two who is guilty of hot-dogging it after taking the opposing pitcher deep. I know a lot of people don't like to see that stuff, but it's pretty common in today's game.

I can agree that Gomez was over the line with his antics. But I'll be honest, I don't know exactly where that line is. At one point does a home run pose become offensive to the other team? I'm not sure. Maybe someone should take these unwritten rules I hear about all the time and write 'em down so we all understand what is acceptable and what is not.