So I've been thinking about the quandarys the front office has to deal with. The organization starts so far behind the eight-ball financially because it is locked into the worst TV deal in MLB. This means it has to be that much savvier in how it spends its money.
The results have, admittedly, been mixed. With the margin of error so narrow, deals like BJ Upton and Uggla contracts can be killers. The only saving graces in this environment are: 1) cheap talent through savvy drafting and superior player development; 2) luck with reclamation projects; and 3) taking advantage of market errors.
1) Cheap talent though savvy drafting and superior player development.
Here, the Braves have been pretty good, though as more teams become more sophisticated in these areas (and it's clear the Cardinals, Braves, and A's successes here have started to ripple outward, with more teams devoting more resources to them), the margins are narrowing.
2) Luck with reclamation projects
Recent Braves teams have been weaker on this, though there have been some notable exceptions (e.g., Chris Johnson, Paul Maholm). However, these moves are crap shoots. A team like the Braves needs to fill its holes with players like this and hope they work out. They don't always, and while organizational ethos and coaching may help, it's still largely a function of luck. The wise move then is to play it conservatively, diversify, spread the money around; ride the players who turn out well and try to weather the ones who don't. Above all, keep your expenditures modest, look for good fits with your needs, and don't commit to anyone for too long or too much (if this means losing out on certain guys like Infante, that's how it goes). My hope is that Floyd becomes a win in this category, but even if he doesn't it's not a lot of money.
3) Take advantage of market errors.
This is fairly straightforward. If you need to save money, figure out what is being overvalued and behave accordingly. In my opinion, the Braves have not been very good on this front.
To that end I wanted to start a discussion about our medium and long-term future.
I, like the rest of you, see what a guy of this caliber does for the club. The confidence he inspires in the starting staff, and the team in general is undeniable. However, it's equally clear that if there's one area the market consistently overvalues players it's at the closer position. The Braves have the consensus number 1 player at a position nearly the entire league overvalues. The Braves need, for the above-stated reasons, to take advantage of situations like this because they don't come around very often and their margin for error is so narrow. Kimbrel is going to get paid, at some point, and very handsomely; likely far more than any player at that position is worth. Should we trade him? What could we get? The more I think about this dispassionately, the more sense it makes to me to trade him as soon as we can, provided, of course, we get the right deal and fill multiple needs in the process. Of course it would have to be the right deal, it is always does, but that's a question of results, not process. From a process standpoint, why doesn't trading Kimbrel make sense?
2) Locking up our essentials.
So, for my money, the essentials are: 1) Simmons/Freeman; 2) Minor/Medlen/Teheran; 3) Kimbrel; Heyward.
There's no way the Braves have the money to keep all of them, but they have to get the ball rolling on several of them to avoid losing them to free agency. This means negotiating Longoria-type long-term deals now, particularly with the Tier 1 guys who have to be our cornerstones for the next 7-9 years. Tier 2...gonna be hard to keep all of them. Who should we focus on? Why? Tier 3...you know my thoughts on Kimbrel. Heyward I put in Tier 3 b/c I also think, particularly with the money he's likely to make and the money we've already dropped on Upton, it's just going to be too hard to retain him. And much as I love the guy, my intuition is that he's never going to produce the kind of results commensurate with what he's going to get paid. There's too much variance in his swing, he already gets hurt often enough (flukes notwithstanding) that I just don't trust his size/proportionality to not result in chronic injuries as he ages.
So, what do you think?