With the departures of Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman is now far-and-away the biggest offensive weapon that the Braves currently have on their major league roster. Unfortunately for poor Freddie, being on that offensive island compared to the rest of the 2015 Braves means that he's probably going to be pitched around a lot this upcoming season. Fox Sports South's Cory McCartney decided to expound on this issue and started by pointing out this sad projection:
As presently constituted, the Braves have one player Steamer is projecting to have more than 57 RBI this season, and that's Freeman. He's also the only player expected to have more than 15 home runs and WRC+ greater than 101.
President of baseball operations John Hart has succeeded in bringing in hitters with high contact rates -- especially Nick Markakis (88.7) and A.J. Pierzynski (83.2), who were both well above the MLB average of 79.4 in 2014 -- but in losing 51 homers between Gattis and Upton, there is little protection for Freeman at third in the order.
February 20th will be a good day, since that's the day when Braves pitchers and catchers report to Lake Buena Vista for Spring Training. Meanwhile, February 19th will be all business since that is scheduled to be the day when the Braves will have their arbitration hearing with Mike Minor. Minor's asked for $5.6 MM, while the Braves are going to argue for $5.1 MM. Again, there's no reason to expect the Braves to give Minor a new multi-year deal (which is what they did last season in order to avoid arbitration with a whole host of players), so this hearing may actually happen, folks. Hold on to your hats.
Our friends over at Beyond the Box Score have identified a problem when it comes to the world of sabermetric projections: There's often too many projections that can sometimes contradict each other and lead to disagreements that "inhibit our analysis" of the players. Fortunately, one brave writer over there decided to try to solve this problem by comparing a couple of projection models for one player. Even more fortunately (especially for us Braves fans), the writer decided to use Julio Teheran as an example. If you want to try to figure out why one projection model has Teheran tabbed for a 1.3 WAR season while another has him potentially having a 4.3 WAR season, then this is the article for you.
Since we're rapidly approaching Spring Training, this is normally the time when fans of every team begin to let the warmth of optimism creep into their cold, bleak hearts. Everybody's 0-0! It's a clean slate! We can at least wait until April 7th to start dumping on our own team, right? Anyways, Buster Olney decided to try to figure out why every team in baseball has reason to be optimistic. Naturally, once he got to the Braves, most of his reasons had to deal with the future; Namely, the fact that their window may begin to open when another team's window begins to close...
With the talent in the farm system dried up and free agency inevitable for Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, the Braves veered away from the Phillies' course of action, holding the status quo, and got very proactive in making deals to reload the organization. With the Braves targeting 2017 -- that's the year they're scheduled to move into their new ballpark -- they could be ascending at about the same time the Nationals' core begins to fritter away
The Caribbean Series is currently in full-swing down in Puerto Rico, and the Cuban team participating in the Series is currently having a rough time. They've already lost 2 games, and now they've lost 2 players as Danier Moreira and Vladimir Gutierrez have defected from Cuba in hopes of making it onto a MLB club. While Moreira is a 30-year old infielder, Gutierrez is only 19 and figures to be a pretty enticing prospect. Here's more from the article:
Gutierrez, 19, will surely draw some attention in MLB circles. The young right-hander is viewed as one of the top pitching prospects in Cuba, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler. Though he spent most of his time in Cuba pitching in relief, he projects as a starter long-term, which certainly adds to his value. Moreira, on the other hand, is not rated as a prospect. The 30-year-old veteran is known more for his defense than his offensive upside, which would make him a lower-end addition.
It's believed that both players intend to pursue contracts with Major League Baseball teams. It's a venture that has become a little easier in the wake of new regulations, which stem from changes in U.S. foreign policy. As a result of those changes, players are no longer required to apply for and obtain specific unblocking licenses to sign with an MLB team.
Although the Braves and Mike Minor still have 2 weeks left before their hot date with the arbitrator, the Marlins and Mat Latos have gone ahead and gotten their hearing done here in the extremely early part of February. Latos made 16 starts last season with an ERA of 3.25 and a FIP of 3.65, and was traded to Miami from Cincinnati back in December. The two parties are currently a million dollars apart, with Latos asking for $10.4 MM while the Marlins want to give him $9.4 MM.