Craig Calcaterra

evan gattis getty

Braves trade Evan Gattis to the Astros for three prospects


I updated my will recently because I was worried that, at some point in 2015, I would literally have a stroke or a heart attack or something and drop dead on the spot from watching Evan Gattis play left field for the Atlanta Braves. Now, it seems, I do not have to worry. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have traded Gattis to the Houston Astros for a “trio of prospects.”  Joel Sherman reports that that trio is Michael Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz and Andrew Thurman.

Gattis is obviously a beast in the power department. He hit.263/.317/.493 with 22 homers in 401 plate appearances last year, but he is certainly an all-or-nothing hitter, striking out 97 times. He also has some defensive liabilities, especially if he’s asked to do anything but catch. The Astros could DH him. Or, depending on what they think about his framing abilities — which are supposed to be good — as opposed to his overall receiving and ability to throw out baserunners — not great — could have him catch some as well. Still: he’s a bat first and foremost.

As for the package the Braves are getting in return, Foltynewicz, a right-hander, was the Astros’ first rounder in 2010. He’s 23-years-old and last year spent his first time in Triple-A, where he posted a 7-7 record and an ERA of 5.08. He also had a cup of coffee with the big club. The Astros’ fourth overall prospect before 2014, he strikes out guys at a decent clip and had a chance to compete for a slot in Houston’s rotation this season.

Ruiz is a third baseman who hit .293/.387/.436 in high-A-ball last year. He showed mostly doubles power, but he’s also only 20-years-old. If the power develops and he can stick at third base defensively, he profiles as a nice prospect.

Thurman, also a right-hander, just turned 23. He was a second rounder in 2013 from U-C Irvine. He posted fairly unimpressive numbers in A-ball.

A power infusion for the Astros. A couple of building blocks for the future for the Braves. Instant reaction: seems like a good deal for Atlanta if, for no other reason, than it keeps Gattis from playing left field.


Don Mattingly: “If you’re not using analytics . . . you’re a fool”

Don Mattingly

I have no idea what the question was that led to this or whether it even was couched in Dave Stewart’s comments about “True Baseball Teams” who don’t emphasize analytics, but I am going to choose to believe that this is Don Mattingly responding to Stewart, thereby stoking an already kinda fun Dodgers-Dbacks rivalry:

Question: do “True Baseball Teams” have pools behind the outfield fence?

Arolids Chapman donated a locker room to a volleyball team

Aroldis Chapman

That’s pretty much the whole story. But you can read the details about it here.

I link this because I’m put in mind of that feature story from last year about Chapman sort of lazing around his house, smoking Marlboros, sleeping until the afternoon while his family sits around waiting for him to come downstairs and, like, eating a sandwich and sitting by the pool.

And then I wonder what part of the day it hit him “hey, I’m going to give that volleyball team a locker room.”

ESPN announces its early season Sunday Night Baseball matchups

old TV

ESPN has announced its Opening Day quadruple header lineup and its early season Sunday Night Baseball matchups. To wit:




People will, as usual, complaint about all of the New York and Boston. To which I say: “meh.” TV stations are in the business of getting ratings. This is what they would do.

Besides, Sunday Night Baseball has become all but unwatchable anyway. It features a three-man booth which, Dan Shulman’s workmanlike service notwithstanding, is always a distraction as 50% more voices than usual compete to provide insight that, most of the time, isn’t really necessary. And to better justify their presence they go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the game at hand. Quite often, actually. When they do talk about the game at hand they provide generalities and sometimes even misinformation about the players and teams involved. I’m sure John Kruk is a nice man, but preparation to analyze the parts of a baseball game we non-players may not immediately see is not his strong suit.

But then again, ESPN doesn’t treat Sunday Night Baseball like any other baseball game. They treat it as the weekly Baseball Show, and gobble up all kinds of time talking about events and news stories we’ve all been talking about for several days. They do things like interview managers in the dugout in the middle of the game. The typical Sunday Night Baseball broadcast does not act as if the game is just one of 15 that happened that day and one of 100 or so that happened that week. And for this reason most of what the broadcast chooses to emphasize is an unnecessary distraction.

Which is a shame given their technical production values and the huge platform ESPN provides. Just think what Sunday Night Baseball could be like if everything that is good about televised baseball were present there and so much of what is bad was not.

So, beef all you want about the Yankees and Red Sox dominating the schedule. It’s of relatively small concern in my view.

The 23rd best GM of all time is currently driving me nuts

John Hart

Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.

John Hart is driving me crazy. I have no idea what the Braves’ plan is this offseason. I get maybe re-jiggering to be competitive in a couple of years, but I don’t get how signing Nick Markakis fits into that or why, if the Braves are experimenting, they don’t keep Kris Medlen around to see if he can bounce back. I don’t know why anyone thinks it’s a good idea for Evan Gattis to play in the outfield.

But maybe John Hart is smarter about how to build a baseball team than I am! It’s possible! He’s done it before! And as Mark Armour and Dan Levitt argue today, only 22 guys have done it better than Hart has.