Tag: Zoilo Almonte

Wandy Rodriguez

2015 Preview: Atlanta Braves


Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Atlanta Braves.

The Big Question: Will the Braves be able to overcome an off-season in which they did more subtraction than addition?

Braves outfielders last season combined to hit 57 home runs, drive in 211 runs, and post a .714 OPS. Almost all of the work was done by Justin Upton, Melvin Upton, Jr., and Jason Heyward. However, the Braves traded Justin to the Padres and Heyward to the Cardinals during the off-season, and Melvin will miss most or all of April with a foot injury. Even if he were healthy, he is coming off of two seasons in which he posted a combined .593 OPS with 21 home runs in 1,028 plate appearances.

The Braves’ current outfield is comprised of Nick Markakis (still on the mend from neck surgery after signing a four-year, $44 million deal in early December) and some combination yet to be decided of Eric Young, Jr., Todd Cunningham, Eury Perez, Zoilo Almonte, Kelly Johnson, and Joey Terdoslavich. Whatever posse of outfielders the Braves come up with may seriously struggle to post half the homers and RBI that last season’s outfield put up.

The outfield isn’t the only area where the Braves lack depth. Wandy Rodriguez, who signed with the Phillies and failed a physical before latching on with the Braves, rode a small sample of productive innings to the No. 4 spot in the starting rotation. The fifth spot will go to Eric Stults, Mike Foltynewicz, or Cody Martin and they’ll keep it for as long as Mike Minor – suffering from a tight left shoulder – remains on the disabled list.

The painful departure of Heyward was cushioned a bit in receiving starter Shelby Miller from the Cardinals. However, the 24-year-old right-hander saw noticeable declines in his ability to generate swings and misses, as well as his ability to limit walks. In 2013, his strikeout and walk rates were 23.4 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively. Last season, they were 16.6 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively. Only five pitchers had a strikeout-minus-walk rate lower than Miller’s 7.1 percent: Roberto Hernandez, Jarred Cosart, John Danks, Kyle Gibson, and Chris Young. Not exactly a who’s-who list of pitchers. Of those who posted a similar K%-BB%, which also includes Kyle Kendrick and Mark Buehrle, many are expected to post below-average numbers this season. It would be wrong to state Miller won’t succeed in 2015, but it’ll be tough for him to do so if he can’t improve on his 2014 strikeout and walk rates. As studies have shown, strikeout and walk rates are by far the most accurate statistics with which to predict future pitcher performance.

Overall, it’s tough to see where the Braves are any better going into 2015 than they were last season. FanGraphs projects them to finish as the second-worst team in baseball at 73-89, five games better than the division rival Phillies, who will be more or less intentionally losing in a rebuilding effort. There is a non-zero possibility that the Phillies finish with a better record than the Braves, who are doing a one foot in, one foot out style of rebuilding while also being somewhat competitive.

What else is going on?

  • Freddie Freeman is the only Brave projected by Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS (found at FanGraphs) to hit 20 or more home runs. Melvin Upton is projected at 17, then Zoilo Almonte is at 14 over nearly a full season’s worth of at-bats, which he likely won’t get. As far as slugging percentage goes, which is influenced partially by batting average, Chris Johnson is projected to have the second-highest at .395 behind Freeman’s .472. The conclusion here is that the Braves are going to struggle mightily to generate power.
  • If there is some reason for optimism, it will come from Julio Teheran, now the undisputed ace of the starting rotation. Last season, the right-hander made the National League All-Star roster and finished with a 2.89 ERA and a 186/51 K/BB ratio over 221 innings. It would not be unreasonable to expect him to post All-Star-caliber numbers again in 2015.
  • A year after hitting .321, Chris Johnson ended the 2014 season with a disappointing .263 average and a .653 OPS. While his 2013 average was obviously fluky, he wasn’t expected to tumble 58 points, nor 66 points in on-base percentage and 96 points in slugging percentage. If the Braves are going to have any shot at beating the grim projections, they’ll need Johnson to return close to or at his former All-Star level.
  • 2015 could be the first season since taking over as the Braves’ everyday closer in which Craig Kimbrel will fail to lead the league in saves. The flame-thrower led the NL with 46, 42, 50, and 47 saves from 2011-14. Because the Braves are expected to win so few games, however, Kimbrel’s save chances will be fewer in number. The Braves averaged 89.5 wins over that four year span, affording Kimbrel many opportunities to close out ballgames.
  • As the Braves have their entire core signed to long-term deals, the Braves will likely be quiet at the trade deadline. They may trade a reliever, or one or two of their many utility players, but the Braves will likely end the regular season looking much the same as they will at the beginning.
  • Manager Fredi Gonzalez is signed only through the end of this season. Considering how poorly the Braves are expected to be, Gonzalez is essentially a lame duck manager. And the Braves are just fine with that. The Braves will see how Gonzalez leads a new-look team under recently-hired baseball operations president John Hart before deciding whether to stay the course or move in a new direction.

Prediction: The Braves nudge out the Phillies for the honor of finishing in fourth place in the NL East at 71-91.

The Braves’ “Plan B” for B.J. Upton is pretty hilarious

B.J. Upton

Joel Sherman’s latest notes column passes along something hilarious. It’s the Braves’ plan B in case B.J. Upton continues to stink. Sherman himself calls it “comical” in the sub-hed, and I have to agree with him. Get this:

Privately, the Braves are saying they will not tolerate more of the same and keep feeding Upton consistent at-bats. In fact, Upton has fallen so far that Atlanta would consider a Plan B that is a platoon between Yankees castoff Zoilo Almonte and Todd Cunningham, whose eight major league at-bats came in 2013.

I’d be up for that. Heck, Almonte’s career line of .211/.242/.282 in 149 plate appearances is only a tick below what Upton has done over his past two full seasons. And he has the added benefit of not being B.J. Upton, meaning that I’m way less likely to pull out a .38 and shoot my television when he comes on the screen. So really, it is an improvement.


2015 Free Agent Tracker

Hanley Ramirez

Here’s our annual free agent tracker, which will be updated regularly throughout the offseason. The rankings are based on the Top 150 Free Agents column. Players who didn’t make it into the top 150 are included at the end.

Re-signings are in red. Players signing with new clubs are in blue. The 12 players to turn down qualifying offers (and thus require draft pick compensation) are listed with asterisks.

All ages are as of April 1, 2015.

1. Max Scherzer (RHP Tigers, 30)*: Nationals – seven years, $210 million
2. Jon Lester (LHP Athletics, 31): Cubs – six years, $155 million + vesting option
3. Yasmany Tomas (OF Cuba, 24): Diamondbacks – six years, $68.5 million
4. Hanley Ramirez (SS Dodgers, 31)*: Red Sox – four years, $88 million + $22 million vesting option
5. James Shields (RHP Royals, 33)*: Padres – four years, $75 million + $16 million option
6. Pablo Sandoval (3B Giants, 28)*: Red Sox – five years, $95 million + option
7. Russell Martin (C Pirates, 32)*: Blue Jays – five years, $82 million
8. Victor Martinez (1B-DH Tigers, 36)*: Tigers – four years, $68 million
9. Nelson Cruz (OF-DH Orioles, 34)*: Mariners – four years, $58 million
10. Chase Headley (3B Yankees, 30): Yankees – four years, $52 million
11. Ervin Santana (RHP Braves, 32)*: Twins – four years, $55 million + option
12. Francisco Liriano (LHP Pirates, 32)*: Pirates – three years, $39 million
13. Melky Cabrera (OF Blue Jays, 30)*: White Sox – three years, $42 million
14. Adam LaRoche (1B Nationals, 35): White Sox – two years, $25 million
15. David Robertson (RHP Yankees, 29)*: White Sox – four years, $46 million
16. Brandon McCarthy (RHP Yankees, 31): Dodgers – four years, $48 million
17. Jake Peavy (RHP Giants, 33): Giants – two years, $24 million
18. Andrew Miller (LHP Orioles, 29): Yankees – four years, $36 million
19. Jose Fernandez (2B Cuba, 26): Still in Cuba / unlikely to sign
20. Aramis Ramirez (3B Brewers, 36): Brewers – $14 million mutual option exercised
21. Alex Rios (OF Rangers, 34): Royals – one year, $11 million
22. Jung-Ho Kang (SS Korea, 27): Pirates – four years, $11 million ($5 million posting fee)
23. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP Yankees, 40): Japan
24. Colby Rasmus (OF Blue Jays, 28): Astros – one year, $8 million
25. Jason Hammel (RHP Athletics, 32): Cubs – two years, $20 million + option
26. Nick Markakis (OF Orioles, 31): Braves – four years, $44 million
27. Michael Cuddyer (OF-1B Rockies, 36)*: Mets – two years, $21 million
28. Jed Lowrie (SS Athletics, 30): Astros – three years, $23 million
29. Edinson Volquez (RHP Pirates, 31): Royals – two years, $20 million
30. Torii Hunter (OF Tigers, 39): Twins – one year, $10.5 million
31. Asdrubal Cabrera (2B-SS Nationals, 29): Rays – one year, $7.5 million
32. Kwang-Hyun Kim (RHP Korea, 26): Remaining in Korea
33. Norichika Aoki (OF Royals, 33): Giants – one year, $4.7 million + option
34. Mike Morse (OF Giants, 33): Marlins – two years, $16 million
35. Luke Gregerson (RHP Athletics, 30): Astros – three years, $18.5 million
36. Francisco Rodriguez (RHP Brewers, 33):
37. Sergio Romo (RHP Giants, 32): Giants – two years, $15 million
38. Hector Olivera (2B Cuba, 29):
39. Adam Lind (1B-DH Blue Jays, 31): Blue Jays – $7.5 million option exercised (traded to Brewers)
40. Joakim Soria (RHP Tigers, 30): Tigers – $7 million option exercised
41. Justin Masterson (RHP Cardinals, 30): Red Sox – one year, $9.5 million
42. A.J. Burnett (RHP Phillies, 38): Pirates – one year, $8.5 million
43. Rafael Soriano (RHP Nationals, 35):
44. Zach Duke (LHP Brewers, 31): White Sox – three years, $15 million
45. Jason Grilli (RHP Angels, 38): Braves – two years, $8 million
46. Casey Janssen (RHP Blue Jays, 33): Nationals – one year, $5 million + option
47. J.A. Happ (LHP Blue Jays, 32): Blue Jays – $6.7 million option exercised (traded to Mariners)
48. Aaron Harang (RHP Braves, 36): Phillies – one year, $5 million
49. Billy Butler (DH-1B Royals, 28): Athletics – three years, $30 million
50. Stephen Drew (SS Yankees, 32): Yankees – one year, $5 million
51. Kendrys Morales (1B-DH Mariners, 31): Royals – two years, $17 million
52. Carlos Villanueva (RHP Cubs, 31): Cardinals – minor league deal ($2 million)
53. Pat Neshek (RHP Cardinals, 34): Astros – two years, $12.5 million + option
54. Rickie Weeks (2B Brewers, 32): Mariners – one year, $2 million
55. Ryan Vogelsong (RHP Giants, 37): Giants – one year, $4 million
56. Brett Anderson (LHP Rockies, 27): Dodgers – one year, $10 million ($4 million in incentives)
57. Burke Badenhop (RHP Red Sox, 32): Reds – one year, $2.5 million + mutual option
58. Chris Young (RHP Mariners, 35):
59. Kyle Kendrick (RHP Phillies, 30): Rockies – one year, $5.5 million
60. Joba Chamberlain (RHP Tigers, 29):
61. Chris Denorfia (OF Mariners, 34): Cubs – one year, $2.6 million
NT. Everth Cabrera (SS Padres, 28):
62. Nick Hundley (C Orioles, 31): Rockies – two years, $6.25 million
63. Brandon Morrow (RHP Blue Jays, 30): Padres – one year, $2.5 million ($5 million in incentives)
64. Gavin Floyd (RHP Braves, 32): Indians – one year, $4 million ($6 million in incentives)
65. Geovany Soto (C Athletics, 32): White Sox – minor league contract
66. Luke Hochevar (RHP Royals, 31): Royals – two years, $10 million
NT. Kris Medlen (RHP Braves, 29): Royals – two years, $8.5 million ($10 million in incentives)
67. Chris Young (OF Yankees, 31): Yankees – one year, $2.5 million ($3.825 million in incentives)
68. Tim Stauffer (RHP Padres, 32): Twins – one year, $2.2 million
69. Misael Siverio (LHP Cuba, 25): Mariners – minor league contract
70. Ichiro Suzuki (OF Yankees, 41): Marlins – one year, $2 million
71. Jonny Gomes (OF Athletics, 34): Braves – one year, $4 million
72. Josh Johnson (RHP Padres, 31): Padres – one year, $1 million ($6.25 million in incentives)
73. Mike Aviles (INF Indians, 33): Indians – $3.5 million option exercised
74. Tsuyoshi Wada (LHP Cubs, 34): Cubs – one year, $4 million ($2 million in incentives)
75. Chad Billingsley (RHP Dodgers, 30): Phillies – one year, $1.5 million ($6.5 million in incentives)
76. Neal Cotts (LHP Rangers, 35): Brewers – one year, $3 million
77. Jason Motte (RHP Cardinals, 32): Cubs – one year, $4.5 million
78. Emilio Bonifacio (2B-OF Braves, 29): White Sox – one year, $4 million
79. Tom Gorzelanny (LHP Brewers, 32): Tigers – one year, $1 million
80. Josh Willingham (OF-DH Royals, 36): Retired
81. Joe Beimel (LHP Mariners, 37):
NT. Gordon Beckham (2B-3B Angels, 28): White Sox – one year, $2 million
82. A.J. Pierzynski (C Cardinals, 38): Braves – one year, $2 million
83. Joel Peralta (RHP Rays, 39): Rays – $2.5 million option exercised (traded to Dodgers)
84. Kelly Johnson (2B-3B Orioles, 33): Braves – minor league contract
85. Alberto Callaspo (2B-3B Athletics, 31): Braves – one year, $3 million ($1 million in incentives)
86. Joel Hanrahan (RHP Tigers, 33): Tigers – one year, $1 million ($2.5 million in incentives)
**. Roberto Hernandez (RHP Dodgers, 34):
87. Clint Barmes (INF Pirates, 36): Padres – one year, $1.5 million + option
88. Mark Reynolds (1B-3B Brewers, 31): Cardinals – one year, $2 million ($800,000 in incentives)
89. Colby Lewis (RHP Rangers, 35): Rangers – one year, $4 million
90. David Ross (C Red Sox, 38): Cubs – two years, $5 million
91. Jared Burton (RHP Twins, 33):
92. Delmon Young (OF-DH Orioles, 29): Orioles – one year, $2.25 million
93. LaTroy Hawkins (RHP Rockies, 42): Rockies – $2.25 million option exercised
94. Alfonso Soriano (OF FA, 39): Retired
95. Jose Veras (RHP Astros, 34): Braves – minor league contract
NT. Justin Smoak (1B Blue Jays, 28): Blue Jays – one year, $1 million
96. Corey Hart (1B-DH Mariners, 33): Pirates – one year, $2.5 million ($2.5 million in incentives)
97. John Axford (RHP Pirates, 32): Rockies – minor league contract ($2.6 million)
98. Chris Capuano (LHP Yankees, 36): Yankees – one year, $5 million
NT. Andy Dirks (OF Blue Jays, 29): Blue Jays – minor league contract
99. Jim Johnson (RHP Tigers, 31): Braves – one year, $1.6 million ($900,000 in incentives)
NT. Daniel Descalso (INF Cardinals, 28): Rockies – two years, $3.6 million
NT. Alexi Ogando (RHP Rangers, 31): Red Sox – one year, $1.5 million ($1.5 million in incentives)
100. Jason Frasor (RHP Royals, 37): Royals – one year, $1.8 million + option
101. Matt Belisle (RHP Rockies, 34): Cardinals – one year, $3.5 million
102. Andrew Bailey (RHP Yankees, 30): Yankees – minor league contract
103. Jeanmar Gomez (RHP Pirates, 27): Phillies – minor league contract
NT: Wesley Wright (LHP Cubs, 30): Orioles – one year, $1.7 million
104. Kevin Correia (RHP Dodgers, 34):
105. Mike Adams (RHP Phillies, 36):
NT. Gaby Sanchez (1B Pirates, 31): Japan
NT. Juan Francisco (1B-3B Red Sox, 27): Rays – minor league contract
106. Phil Coke (LHP Tigers, 32):
107. Dustin McGowan (RHP Blue Jays, 33):
108. Ernesto Frieri (RHP FA, 29): Rays – one year, $800,000 ($2.35 million in incentives)
109. Nate Schierholtz (OF Nationals, 31): Rangers – minor league contract ($1.75 million)
NT. Brandon Beachy (RHP Braves, 28):
110. Ramon Santiago (INF Reds, 35): Blue Jays – minor league contract ($1.1 million)
111. Craig Breslow (LHP Red Sox, 34): Red Sox – one year, $2 million
NT. Kyle Blanks (1B-OF Athletics, 28): Rangers – minor league contract ($1 million)
112. Matt Lindstrom (RHP White Sox, 35):
113. Kyuji Fujikawa (RHP Cubs, 34): Rangers – one year, $1 million plus incentives
114. Wily Mo Pena (OF Japan, 33):
115. Mark Ellis (2B Cardinals, 37):
116. Bruce Chen (LHP FA, 37):
117. Jesse Crain (RHP Astros, 33): White Sox – minor league contract
118. Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP Mets, 34): Japan
119. Endy Chavez (OF Mariners, 37): Mariners – minor league contract
120. Rafael Betancourt (RHP Rockies, 39): Rockies – minor league contract
NT. John Mayberry Jr. (OF Blue Jays, 31): Mets – one year, $1.45 million
121. Ryan Ludwick (OF Reds, 36): Rangers – minor league contract ($1.75 million)
122. Paul Maholm (LHP Dodgers, 32): Reds – minor league contract
123. Scott Hairston (OF Nationals, 34):
124. Chris Perez (RHP Dodgers, 29): Brewers – minor league contract ($1.5 million)
NT. Eric Young Jr. (OF Mets, 29):
125. Matt Albers (RHP Astros, 32):
126. Munenori Kawasaki (INF Blue Jays, 33): Blue Jays – minor league contract
127. Yozzen Cuesta (1B Cuba, 26?):
128. Sergio Santos (RHP Blue Jays, 31): Dodgers – minor league contract
129. Franklin Morales (LHP Rockies, 29):
130. Mike Carp (1B FA, 28): Nationals – minor league contract
131. Juan Carlos Oviedo (RHP FA, 33): Rangers – minor league contract
132. Ryan Doumit (C-DH Braves, 33):
133. J.J. Putz (RHP FA, 38): Retired
134. Joe Thatcher (LHP Angels, 33):
135. Gerald Laird (C Braves, 35): Diamondbacks – minor league contract
NT. Logan Ondrusek (RHP Reds, 30): Japan
136. Felipe Paulino (RHP White Sox, 31): Red Sox – minor league contract
137. Jamey Wright (RHP Dodgers, 40):
138. Reed Johnson (OF Marlins, 38):
139. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP FA, 36): Braves – minor league contract
140. Franklin Gutierrez (OF FA, 32): Mariners – minor league contract
NT. David Huff (LHP Yankees, 30): Dodgers – minor league contract
141. Jason Marquis (RHP FA, 36): Reds – minor league contract
142. Dan Uggla (2B FA, 35): Nationals – minor league contract
143. Kevin Kouzmanoff (1B-3B Rangers, 33):
144. Nolan Reimold (OF Diamondbacks, 31): Orioles – minor league contract
145. Sean Burnett (LHP Angels, 32):
146. Rafael Furcal (2B-SS Marlins, 37):
147. Josh Outman (LHP FA, 30): Braves – one year, $925,000
148. Scott Baker (RHP Rangers, 33): Yankees – minor league contract
149. Scott Downs (LHP Royals, 39): Indians – minor league contract
150. J.P. Arencibia (C Rangers, 29): Orioles – minor league contract

Signed pre-rankings:
Orioles re-signed SS J.J. Hardy to a three-year, $40 million contract ($14 million option for 2018)
Red Sox re-signed RHP Koji Uehara to a two-year, $18 million contract
Phillies re-signed RHP Jerome Williams to a one-year, $2.5 million contract
Phillies re-signed OF Grady Sizemore to a one-year, $2.5 million contract

Other signings:
Diamondbacks signed RHP Yoan Lopez for an $8.27 million bonus (minor league deal)
Braves signed OF Dian Toscano to a four-year, $6 million contract.
Cardinals signed INF Dean Anna to a one-year contract
Braves signed OF Zoilo Almonte to a one-year contract
Braves signed RHP Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract
Blue Jays signed LHP Jeff Francis to a minor league contract
Phillies signed OF Jeff Francoeur to a minor league contract
Royals signed INF Ryan Roberts to a minor league contract
Reds signed OF Brennan Boesch to a minor league contract
Indians re-signed RHP Shaun Marcum to a minor league contract
Pirates signed RHP Brad Lincoln to a minor league contract
Rockies signed LHP John Lannan to a minor league contract
Mariners signed RHP Mark Lowe to a minor league contract.
White Sox signed C George Kottaras to a minor league contract.
White Sox signed RHP Brad Penny to a minor league contract.
Blue Jays signed 1B Daric Barton to a minor league contract.
Rockies signed OF Roger Bernadina to a minor league contract.
Reds signed LHP Jose Mijares to a minor league contract.
Reds signed RHP Michael Bowden to a minor league contract.
Blue Jays signed LHP Andrew Albers to a minor league contract.
Diamondbacks re-signed INF Jordan Pacheco to a minor league contract.
Giants re-signed RHP J.C. Gutierrez to a minor league contract.
Nationals signed RHP Heath Bell to a minor league contract.

Zoilo Almonte suffers sprained ankle, will go on DL

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees

Zoilo Almonte left tonight’s game against the Red Sox before the bottom of the fifth inning due to a sprained left ankle. While Luis Cruz took his spot in the lineup and Alberto Gonzalez took his spot in left field, Almonte had x-rays taken on his ankle, which came back negative. According to Bryan Hoch, manager Joe Girardi says Almonte will be placed on the disabled list.

The Yankees dropped tonight’s game 4-2 as they lose yet another player to the disabled list. Curtis Granderson is expected to start a rehab assignment some time in the next week to ten days, but you have to wonder if the Yankees will add an outfielder to their shopping list as they approach the July 31 trade deadline. There was some speculation that Alex Rodriguez would take Almonte’s roster spot, but Andrew Marchand says that will not be the case.