One thing that’s clear about 2017 is that as long as the rotation stays healthy, it figures to be a lot more stable than it was last year. The Braves used a whopping 16 different starting pitchers last year, and most of those guys were just passing through. In fact, Scott Ferris of Outside Pitch has noticed that the Braves have already jettisoned 10 of the starters the Braves used in 2016 and he also gave details on how the Braves got rid of them and where they are now.
We recently discussed Mallex Smith’s potential role with the 2017 Braves during our roundtable series last week, and the Braves themselves are also trying to figure out what they’re going to do with the speedy outfielder next season. Mark Bowman recently spoke with John Hart, who shed a little bit of light on what the team is thinking when it comes to Mallex Smith.
With Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis set to serve as the starting outfielders, the Braves must determine whether to enter the upcoming season with Smith as a backup in Atlanta or an everyday player for Triple-A Gwinnett. The first option could provide immediate late-inning benefits and the latter would seemingly best satisfy the long-term interests of the talented, but still raw outfielder.
"[Smith] is a talented player, but he still needs more development," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "At the same point, Mallex is interesting because he can do a lot of things for you. He can [play] all three outfield positions and he can run. But the question we are asking ourselves is, 'Are we doing him a disservice and ultimately ourselves a disservice by making him a role or bench player?'"
Meanwhile, the Braves are just about ready to start moving all the way into their brand new home in Cobb County. SunTrust Park is ready to welcome in the Braves, but the team is still having some issues with the City of Atlanta, and it’s over $400,000 in — get this — parking fees. Both parties refused to admit that the feud is still going on (as you’ll see below) but the AJC has all the details on the one final skirmish between the Braves and the city that they called home for so long.
[Atlanta/Fulton County Recreational Authority Director Keisha Lance Bottoms] said the two sides decided to bury the tomahawk until the Braves leave the building, which is set for the end of the month, ending half a century of Major League Baseball inside the city limits.
I reached [Braves President of Development Mike] Plant, who did not want to dredge up the whole affair. He was in his car and sounded like he might have had a batting cage strapped to the vehicle’s roof.
“Come on, why would we stiff them for 400 grand when we’ve paid over $7 million to SMP over the years?” he asked.
If you were busy over the weekend doing unfathomable stuff like not reading our lovely blog posts about the Braves in 2017 and the prospect rankings, then now’s your chance to catch up on it. The minor league crew reached the top 5, and we also gave our way-too-early predictions on the Braves and their 2017 record.
Apparently, the inevitable is happening and the BBWAA are starting to warm up to the idea of letting the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens into the Hall of Fame. As Jeff Passan notes in his column discussing the matter, the early public ballots are indicating that the two infamous superstars may be in line to receive a significant jump in votes. What’s the reasoning behind this? Why, it’s none other than the induction of one Bud Selig into the Hall of Fame that’s causing a lot of voters to have a change of heart.
“When Bud was put in two weeks ago, my mindset changed,” Kevin Cooney, a longtime Philadelphia-area writer, said in an email. “If the commissioner of the steroid era was put into the HOF by a secret committee, then I couldn’t in good faith keep those two out any longer.”
For years, Cooney said, he had given priority to the players with clean records, something he admits “may have been silly.” He said he saw a tweet from Susan Slusser, the esteemed San Francisco Chronicle writer, pointing out the hypocrisy of Selig and Tony La Russa – who won championships with juiced players – being in the Hall but the players themselves seemingly blackballed. “The light bulb went off,” Cooney said.
In other news, baseball’s richest team made a big splash this offseason when they signed Aroldis Chapman to an eye-popping free agent contract worth $86 million. However, that contract may have tapped out the Yankees and their financial resources, because they’ve apparently ran out of money for the rest of the offseason.
I just think it is ironically hilarious that the Yankees are crying poor immediately after giving out such a huge contract. Their payroll is sitting around $130 million right now, add in around $22 million in arbitration along with tax penalties and player benefits, and the team is already well over the luxury tax threshold.
I get that the Yankees want to reset their tax penalties to fill Hal Steinbrenner’s pockets, but if they are already over the limit, why not keep going if it is a short-term expenditure? If they are signing a closer to a $17 million deal, you would think they should be able to add payroll elsewhere.