Braves series preview with Talking Chop


The fine folks at Talking Chop were kind enough to engage in a Q&A with us leading into the Yanks-Braves series this week. What follows is our exchange. You can check out Talking Chop’s questions and our answers here.

1) Is the Nate McLouth acquisition enough, or the Braves have to swing a move for another outfielder? Any chance Jordan Schafer makes a return appearance later on?

The McLouth trade was a great start, and a surprising one in which we didn’t give up anything that we needed from our minor league system for at least the next two years. But no, it doesn’t seem to be enough. The question we keep asking ourselves is, “do we wait for the guys currently on the team to start hitting, or do we jettison some of them for more of a sure thing.” Just about everyone in Atlanta has had enough of Jeff Francoeur, and just about any mediocre replacement player would be better than him. I don’t think Frenchy is in an Atlanta uniform next season, one way or another.

Another problem with adding another bat, is that we can’t really add that much more salary. This is why the McLouth deal was a good move (he’s signed affordably), and this is also why we will probably see Schafer again (he’s currently out with a hand injury that he actually suffered pretty early in the season),

2) What’s the general feel for Kelly Johnson? His OPS is down over 100 points from last year and 150 points from 2007. Is he just suffering from some bad luck (.250 BABIP way down from the past two years)? It seems like his Iso-D and Iso-P are right in line with 08 and 07…

Like I said in the previous answer, he’s one of the guys we keep waiting on to start hitting. If Omar Infante were not on the DL right now, there’s little doubt that Johnson would not be starting, and that might happen when Omar returns next month. So Kelly’s got a few weeks to put it together, but he seems to have gotten the Jeff Francoeur disease. I’m not sure advanced stats can measure what’s wrong with KJ, it’s more about watching him every day and seeing him pop up or ground out when last year he would have hit a line drive somewhere. Kelly’s a guy who, once he figures it out (if he does), can go on an absolute tear and carry the team for a week or two (and again, we’re still waiting on that to happen).

3) As the Braves blog of record, what is your recommended course of action regarding Jeff Francoeur?


But seriously, I offered the Red Sox blogger last week to trade him Francoeur for a pair of Monster seats. I guess I should offer you guys the same deal, Francoeur for a pair of reasonably priced Yankees tickets (do reasonably priced Yankees tickets exist?).

But seriously, seriously, the Braves are trying everything they can to trade him and the sooner the better. In the end, I think we’ll end up releasing him this off-season, and every team knows that so they’re not going to give us anything for him.

4) A.J. Burnett at five years, $80 million, or Derek Lowe at four years, $60 million?

With the injury problems we’ve had the last few years in our starting rotation, I’ll take Lowe and his streak of 7-straight years making 32 starts over Burnett and his streak of only performing well in contract years.

5) To follow up one of your questions, what do you think a fair price, from the Braves’ standpoint, would be for Xavier Nady?

How about Jeff Francoeur? I kid, I kid. If Nady proves he’s healthy and can hit, I would say a guy like Jo-Jo Reyes straight-up or Brandon Jones straight-up — sort of a B prospect who’s major league ready or almost there. Nady’s a free agent at the end of the year, so he’d be purely a rental, and I wouldn’t think you’d get too much for him, unless a team was just desperate.

Categories : Interviews


  1. Jake K. says:

    What’s the deal with Jo-Jo Reyes and Brandon Jones? Intriguing prospects? Filler?

  2. If Nady proves he’s healthy and can hit, I would say a guy like… Brandon Jones straight-up.


    • A.D. says:

      Given that offering Nady arb might be up in the air, might not be a bad plan to try and trade him for something.

      • ChrisS says:

        I’m not 100% sure (or even 50%) on the weights used by Elias, but I don’t think Nady will classify as a Type A FA. So Cashman would be risking Nady accepting arbitration at ~10 million against possibly getting an additional 2nd rounder next draft. Say 30% risk Nady accepts, that’s $3 mill for a bench bat if they get Damon back for a song. Lotta ifs and possiblys.

        IMO, anything for Nady at the deadline (provided he can throw the ball and hit) is probably more than they’d get for him otherwise.

        • So Cashman would be risking Nady accepting arbitration at ~10 million against possibly getting an additional 2nd rounder next draft.

          Nady’s making 6.55M right now, and he’ll have missed about half the season when it’s all said and done.

          I doubt Nady wins 10M in arb. I think 7.5M would probably be his ceiling.

          • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:


            Obviously, we don’t know what will be available to Cashman next year, but if we all agree that Matsui will not be back, that means that Melky, Gardner and Swisher will be the only guys under contract for next year. So if we bring back Nady at $7.5 million (even if we also bring back Damon on a reasonable short-term deal), I think that’s a better option that dumping too much money on guys like Holliday or Bay, or overpaying a guy like Ankiel.

            And if Nady rejects arbitration, you get whatever you get in picks (depending if he’s A or B, but as we read last week, if the season ended today, he’d be A).

            To me, you keep Nady both for this year and for next [or the pick(s)].

            • radnom says:

              Plus, there is little to no chance Boras accepts a 1 year deal under 10 million without testing the market first.

              Hell, he rejected arbitration for Varitek last offseason.

          • ChrisS says:

            Yeah, that was a WAG. I don’t know what the arbitration board handles an injury. Say 7.5 million, still too much for a league average bat with a bad wing, and mediocre to poor defense. It doesn’t change my opinion that anything for Nady now is better than dicking around with arbitration or letting him walk.

            However, if Nady only has to post a 100 OPS+ throughout the second half to retains his Type A ranking (or if it isn’t compromised by an additional DL stay), then I’d change my mind. Posada missed all of last year and is having a great year this year at C and he’s a type B on that list from the link you posted.

    • Seriously, though, Nady’s about it for the Braves, because of all the teams out of the race who are going to become sellers (the Natinals, Pirates, Astros, Padres, and Diamondbacks in the NL; the Orioles, Royals, White Sox, Indians, Mariners, and Athletics in the AL), none of them have reasonably priced yet productive outfielders to trade.

      It’s either Nady and his 6M salary, or the big expensive guys like Holliday, Ichiro, Carlos Lee, Jose Guillen, Jermaine Dye, etc. Unless the Braves are willing to take on a 10M plus salary, Nady’s their only option.

      So, no, I like Brandon Jones, but the Braves would have to sweeten the pot. Maybe throw in SS Brandon Hicks or LHP Edgar Osuna.

      • radnom says:

        The value has to exceed the two picks and having Nady the rest of the season.

        I don’t think he is worth that much to the Braves.

        • Are we talking about the same Braves who, now that they have Nate McLouth, have exactly one outfielder who can hit the ball consistently?

          They need Nady bad. And, since whatever arb comp picks we get for Nady they’d also get, it’s not like they’d be left empty handed when Nady departs (if they don’t keep him).

          It’s basically like trading prospects for prospects: Somebody’s going to have Brandon Jones and Edgar Osuna, someone’s going to have a pick or two. It’s worth it for us, because we get the certainty of prospects in hand. It’s worth it for them, because they get Nady and get to recoup some of the prospects they gave away to get him in form of future draft pick(s).

        • ChrisS says:

          Nady won’t be a type A, and the more I think about it, the possibility exists that he won’t even make Type B.

          • jsbrendog says:

            if the season ended today he would be a type A according to that guy who reverse enginers the formulas as referenced from a post on mlbtr. i would link to it but it is blocked from work and i cant.

            • ChrisS says:

              If the season ended today

              Yeah, I’ve seen that post. Nady is the story of very distinct half-season splits for the last two years:

              2008 Pirates – 144 OPS+
              2008 Yankees – 105 OPS+
              2009 First half – DL’d
              2009 Second half – ???

              Granted, I don’t know what the formulas are, I don’t have that guy’s spreadsheet, nor do I know how the DL influences the rankings or how close Nady is to the cutoff. But if the season ends today, he’s got a 135 OPS+ and a DL stint (not the criteria used for the rankings, but a good approximation of his offensive contribution). Depending on how he finishes the season will greatly influence his ranking. Say he finishes around his career OPS+ (108) it’ll definitely take some luster off his first half of 08, which get less weight as time progresses (if I remember right).

              Anyway, if some guy at MLB trade rumors cracked Elias’s ranking system, then I’m pretty sure the Yankees’ braintrust has, and has a much better understanding than me, you, the guy at MLB Trade Rumors, etc about where Nady falls. And that’s outside of him coming back, making a couple of major league throws, popping his elbow and going under the knife.

  3. Chris says:

    Just one comment about the AJ vs Derek Lowe question:

    AJ Burnett: 104 ERA+
    Derek Lowe: 103 ERA+

  4. Mike Axisa says:

    Jeff Francoeur = mother of all nontender candidates.

  5. pat says:

    Wow most of the people over there are assholes. Kotchman over tex.. sour grapes much?

  6. Tank the Frank says:

    Gosh the comments over there are hateful. Couldn’t have anything to do with the WS wins at the Braves expense could it?

    Casey is better than Tex!!

    OMG I can’t believe he picked Joba over JJ!!

    I’d like to see what Joba’s stats would look like this season in the NL. Even with his struggles, his numbers would be much better, especially the BB/9 IMO.

  7. Mister Delaware says:

    Kelly Johnson’s LD% is higher this year and last year than it was in 2007.

    (Hardball Times)

  8. Charlie says:

    god the braves have an awesome rotation. d lowe, javy vasquez jurrjens, kawakami, and tommy hanson. dayyyum. And with Wanger pitching tonight, i don’t have much confidence we’ll win tonight.

    • jsbrendog says:

      i dont have much confidence in not winning

    • Atlanta’s team OPS of .717 is is seventh worst in all of baseball. The Braves are probably the worst offense Wang will have faced to this point. This should be his easiest game yet.

      • Charlie says:

        i didn’t realize their offense was that bad. Chipper, McCann, Mclouth, seemed like a formidable top of the lineup to me. hopefully the wangster will figure it out tonight.

        • andrew says:

          Well McClouth’s OPS hasn’t really been taken into account. Their OPS for the season might be 7th worst in baseball, but they are a much better offensive team now that they have McClouth.

      • JP says:

        Please tsjc do we have to jinx them, again? I mean, in Washington, we were supposed to have difficulty with a reasonably stout offense, while feasting on their inferior pitching. We see how that worked out.


    • V says:

      Vazquez is the best of the bunch (DUMB DUMB DUMB TRADE, Mr. Steinbrenner! DUMB!), and we don’t face him (pitched yesterday).

      With their offense, I ain’t worried.

      • Reggie C. says:

        its our offense that worries me.

      • jsbrendog says:

        eh, the vasquez/unit trade wasnt the worst at the time. i would def had rather had first half vasquez, but he just wasnt happy here and to have your hands tied like that and still get randy johnson out of it (who was good while here just not unit like and also didnt like it here, which there was no way of knowing) is pretty good

        • V says:

          If it weren’t for the fact that without trading for, and extending, Johnson, we’d have Beltran in CF, I’d accept your argument.

          However, Beltran in center would look mighty good. And Vazquez could have been traded for something else (like, say, prospects) instead.

          Although, looking at the many trades he’s been involved in, how many really turned out all that well for the side giving him away?

          Selected by Montreal Expos in the 5th round of the free-agent draft (June 2, 1994 -
          signed June 3, 1994).

          Traded by Montreal Expos to New York Yankees in exchange for Nick Johnson, Juan
          Rivera and Randy Choate (December 16, 2003).

          Traded by New York Yankees with Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro and cash to Arizona
          Diamondbacks in exchange for Randy Johnson (January 11, 2005).

          Traded by Arizona Diamondbacks to Chicago White Sox in exchange for Orlando
          Hernandez, Luis Vizcaino and Chris Young (December 20, 2005).

          Traded by Chicago White Sox with Boone Logan to Atlanta Braves in exchange for Brent
          Lillibridge, Tyler Flowers, Jon Gilmore and Santos Rodriguez (December 4, 2008).


  9. The McLouth trade was a great start, and a surprising one in which we didn’t give up anything that we needed from our minor league system for at least the next two years. But no, it doesn’t seem to be enough.

    Atlanta should trade for LF Masta Killa. His power bat in the middle of that lineup would be devastating.

  10. V says:

    Jair Jurrjens:
    Career ERA: 3.55
    Career WHIP: 1.322
    Career K/9: 6.3
    Career HR/9: 0.6

    Joba Chamberlain:
    Career ERA: 2.79
    Career WHIP: 1.260
    Career K/9: 10.0
    Career HR/9: 0.6

    Joba Chamberlain the Starter:
    Career ERA: 3.34
    Career WHIP: 1.374
    Career K/9: 9.2
    Career HR/9: 0.7

  11. thebusiness says:

    Joe called Joba’s changeup “serviceable”

    His changeup has been really good. Good velocity change and movement, he’s commanded it pretty decently too.

  12. Rob in CT says:

    Lowe v. Burnett… both contracts kinda suck. Lowe’s 36. It’s nice that he’s been so durable in the past, but he’s 36. 4 years and he’s 40. Burnett is 32, and his injury history is poor. 5 years and he’s 37.

    Lowe is no doubt helped by the NL, so some adjustment should be made there (re: performance to date). Adjust for defense and park effects and strength of opposition, plus understand that it’s less than 1/2 way through season 1 of 4/5 years of work. So, in the end: what’s happened this season probably doesn’t mean much (and shouldn’t be used to judge the contracts – the last several seasons of work by each pitcher are better guides).

    In the off-season, I remember favoring signing Lowe if we had to have 1 of these two guys, though I wasn’t exactly excited about getting him. I was angry about the AJ signing, but much of that was fear that it meant no Teixiera. When that turned out to be untrue, I settled down to more of a “meh” feeling.

    • JP says:

      Burnett, I hope, will follow the Tanana trajectory. By this I mean pitchers who have injury problems early in their careers, but who then recover and become durable starters after that.

      Totally unscientific observation, but Burnett has a very relaxed, fluid motion and generates great velocity. His ball moves all over the place, sometimes so much that it gets him in trouble. He has been pretty durable since 2005. Not great, but pretty good. I think there’s a chance he runs off a string of 6-7 straight 200 inning seasons.

      He’s a good pitcher. We can carp about him, but the fact is there are so few pitchers even as good as him, that if he just pitches 180-210 for the next 4 years, it will have been worth the money to sign him.

      • Observer283 says:

        Burnett can be a streaky pitcher. And quietly, he’s entering one of his hot streaks. In his last 29 IP, he’s struck out 32 and given up 6 ER’s.

        I just think we haven’t really noticed because: 1) the horrendous Boston start is a part of this little run, and memories from a terrible game against Boston always stick out, 2) the great shout out start against the Mets was obscured by the Cervelli-Posada kerfuffle, and 3) We lost in the great start he had against the Marlins (Johnny, please catch the ball).

        So, if maybe he’s turned the corner back into late 2008 type dominance, that would be huge for the Yankees. I know its a big if, but he has certainly been showing signs recently.

        Not quite sure DLowe has the potential to dominate to the same extent AJ can.

  13. Joey H. says:

    I have interview Martin a couple of times. Great dude.

  14. [...] Here is a link to my answer’s to Joe’s questions over at River Avenue [...]

  15. Joey says:

    Wow the commenters over there are idiots (most anyway)

  16. [...] Here is a link to my answer’s to Joe’s questions over at River Avenue [...]

  17. Dusty says:

    Never been on your site before (Braves fan), but just wanted to say I’ve really enjoyed it.

    In response to some of the comments, yes the commenters at TC are mostly idiots although the site is very good. I’m sure it wouldn’t be to hard to find ridiculous Yankee comments out there either. Braves Journal is the preferred commenting site for most non-moronic Braves fans.

    And for the record at this point, I’d go Joba>Hanson>JJ>Hughes although the first two are close for me and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Hanson have a better career.

  18. Mister Delaware says:

    Worth noting: Phil Hughes is 2 months older than Tommy Hanson.

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