2011 Organizational Rankings: #5 – Atlanta

The top five teams on our list are all in the AL East or NL East, so four of them are likely to make the playoffs every year. After their first playoff appearance in five years, the Atlanta Braves jumped from #8 in last year’s rankings to #5 this year. They’ve rebuilt themselves into another perennial contender after a few years in the wilderness amid the departures of three Hall of Fame pitchers, a Hall of Fame manager, a Hall of Fame General Manager, and a borderline Hall of Fame center fielder. (Not to mention the departure of Dayton Moore, the man who built the best farm system in the history of whatever.)

They’re a solid fifth, though, ranked behind the Yankees and Red Sox in every category we tracked, and behind the small market Rays in all but financial resources and behind the Phillies in all but baseball operations. (Yes, we hate the Ryan Howard extension that much.) The Atlanta Braves look like the kind of team that could make the playoffs every year but get bounced in the first or second round — just like old times. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, y’all.

Current Talent – 85.00 (T-5th)

Braves Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (T-5th)

Braves Top 10 Prospects

Baseball Operations – 86.82 (4th)
Financial Resources – 81.67 (T-9th)

Overall Rating – 84.45

Two of Marc Hulet’s top 10 Braves prospects are on the major league roster, 1B Freddie Freeman and co-closer Craig Kimbrel, with Mike Minor having been beaten out for the fifth starter role by dark horse Brandon Beachy. But Minor isn’t far away. Three years ago, the Braves moved their AAA affiliate from Richmond, VA to Gwinnett County, Georgia, approximately 45 minutes from Turner Field — so if they need Mike Minor to make an emergency home start, he’ll literally be able to take a taxi to the stadium. (It would certainly take less time than Pascual Perez on I-285.)

The Braves are absolutely loaded with pitching, though. With Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, and Beachy, they have one of the deepest five-man rotations in baseball, with better back-end starters than most teams despite a lack of star power at the top. And they essentially have a full starting rotation behind them. Even if Jair Jurrjens’s injury struggles continue, the sixth starter, Mike Minor, would be a pretty good fourth starter on most teams. The best non-Hellboy pitching prospect in baseball, Julio Teheran, will likely be ready for the majors later this year. So will Kris Medlen, the fourth starter in 2010, who’s currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. That’s not to mention top Double-A prospects Arodys Vizcaino, who hit 100 mph in spring training, or Randall Delgado, who has a similar ceiling. (And then there’s Kenshin Kawakami, whom the Braves have practically made an unperson, but who is still a perfectly serviceable fifth starter.)

That pitching depth is one reason the team is in good shape for the next several years. The other reason is the Braves’ financial flexibility and team-controlled young core. Other than Dan Uggla, extended this offseason until 2015, all of their multiyear contracts end in 2012: Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson, Brian McCann, Derek Lowe, and David Ross. Jones, Hudson, and McCann have club options for 2013. (Scott Linebrink and Nate McLouth‘s contracts, handed out by other teams, expire at the end of 2011.) The rest of the offense is team-controlled for the next three to six years: 21-year-olds Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, and fourth-year Martin Prado, who moved from second base to left field to make room for Uggla.

General Manager Frank Wren has shown himself to be capable of assembling a consistently productive minor league pipeline while putting a good team on the field, but while he appears to be strong at drafting and trading for pitching, he is less adept at offense. Their 2010 essentially ended because of their lack of positional depth: injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado pressed ace pinch hitter Brooks Conrad into everyday service, and we all know how that turned out.

Wren has a particular blind spot when it comes to the outfield — one he inherited from John Schuerholz. The Braves have basically had a hole in left field since Kelly Johnson moved to second base in 2006, and a hole in center since Andruw Jones left for Los Angeles in 2008. Those roster spots have been filled by a grotesque cavalcade of scrubs and fourth outfielders.* This year, Wren filled the left field hole by signing a second baseman and moving his All-Star 2B, Prado, to left, and addressed the center field hole by crossing his fingers and praying that McLouth could return to his 2008-2009 form. Following Freeman’s graduation, the Braves don’t have much positional talent in the upper minors, so Wren will need to prove more adept at acquiring offense either by trade or by free agency.

* Garret Anderson, Josh Anderson, Rick Ankiel, Gregor Blanco, Melky Cabrera, Matt Diaz, Willie Harris, Brandon Jones, Mark Kotsay, Ryan Langerhans, Nate McLouth, and Jordan Schafer. The horror! The horror!

The final thing that needs to be mentioned is their ownership situation. Liberty Media bought them from Time Warner in 2007, and at the time it was understood that the purchase was motivated by tax considerations, and that Liberty would sell the team off as soon as they could. That time is approaching, as Forbes reports:

It appears as though Liberty Media is preparing to unload the Braves. The tax advantages to Liberty’s purchase of the Braves from Time Warner 2007 expire after five years and ownership has slashed player payroll from $102 million to $84 million since 2008 despite higher revenue.

Naturally, the Braves’ future fortunes hinge partly on who winds up buying the team. Most Atlantans would love it to be Arthur Blank, the man who took the Falcons from a laughingstock to a contender, but Blank has been noncommittal. (It could always just be another guy who owns a ton of land. Liberty chairman John Malone recently surpassed former Braves owner Ted Turner as the nation’s largest private landowner.)

The Braves aren’t the absolute best in the business at anything, but they’re pretty adept at everything, and well-positioned in the National League with a playoff caliber team for at least the next several years. Time will tell whether new skipper Fredi Gonzalez is a better playoff manager than his old mentor Bobby Cox, but chances are good that he’ll get a chance to prove himself this year.




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Alex is a writer for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.


83 Responses to “2011 Organizational Rankings: #5 – Atlanta”

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  1. Alex says:

    behind the Phillies in all but baseball operations. (Yes, we hate the Ryan Howard extension that much.)

    Seriously, other than ryan howard and the pictures he holds over Ruben’s head can you honestly find anyone that doesn’t hate that extension?

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  2. bsally says:

    How are the Braves behind the Phillies in future talent? That seems insane-I’d take Atlanta’s farm system over the Phillies without thinking twice, plus the Braves have waaaaay better young cost-controlled players now.

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    • Deadpool says:

      More specifically, this site rated the Braves farm system as better. I know there’s some confusion, but even if that’s not the only criteria then when considering talent under 25 the Braves have the Phillies beat to pieces, I don’t understand how they could possibly have lost out in that category.

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      • bsally says:

        Exactly! I could understand this ranking if FG had rated the Phillies better (even though that would have been crazy), but the inconsistency here is just bizarre.

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      • Deadpool says:

        I think the bigggest problem this site has is that the writers never seem to be on the same page. They have their prospect guy come up with lists, but then when two other guys write an organization list they not only appear not to have consulted him but flat out disregarged his opinion.

        I wouldn’t have a problem with this per se, if Cameron and Remington a) explained how they came up with these ratings, even if the answer is “gut feel” I think we should know that if we’re going to pay these rankings any heed. b) made some effort to seperate it from the other work on this site and made it crystal clear that their analysis is the only analysis that goes into these rankings.

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      • bsally says:

        Couldn’t agree more-these rankings seem to be attempting to be objective, what with the rating system and everything, but the methodology seems totally black box. This is a case where I want to know how the sausage is made!

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      • The ratings are not mine. As Dave Cameron explained in the intro post, they are a composite:

        Rather than asking our writing staff to rank each organization from 1-30, we asked them to grade each organization on four key variables – financial resources, quality of baseball operations department, present talent, and future talent. We then took these individual grades for each area and produced a final tally for each organization based on all the votes from the our staff members, and the list was generated from those numbers.

        So I just pasted the numbers that were compiled from the ratings of the entire Fangraphs staff. I didn’t generate them.

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      • Deadpool says:

        In that case I do apologize, and in fact I empathize a little bit because your forced to justify rankings that you don’t necessarily agree with.

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      • Hizouse says:

        Carrying out the ratings to two decimal places gives a false sense of precision. The ratings are still based on average responses to, “Hey, fangraphs staff, rate the Braves on a scale of 1 to 100 in the area of future talent.” I appreciate the fact that they are more transparent this year, but publishing scores of 85.00 or 86.82 implies a complex formula that doesn’t exist.

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      • Russell says:

        This explanation does nothing to answer the issue that Fangraphs thinks the Braves have a better farm system but the Phillies have better future talent simultaneously. It’s completely contradictory.

        The Braves unanimously (FG, BA, Law, BP, MLB all rank the ATL system higher.) have a better group of prospects and much stronger core of young major leaguers. So, how in the world do the Phillies have better future talent?

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      • Bronnt says:

        I just can’t understand putting the Braves behind the Phillies in future talent-I’d love to hear some justification. Maybe if you’re looking at just 2012, the Phillies do look better, but as soon as 2013, I think the Braves have a better team. Phillies core is aging an expensive, and their non-Dominic Brown talent is pretty far away. The Braves are stacked in almost every level on their farm. And Dominic Brown isn’t a Jason Heyward level talent.

        Atlanta has a great young core, three very good rookies on their opening day roster, and the top pitching prospect in baseball. They’ve also finally got a solid core of infield prospects in the system. I’m just blown away to see the Phillies tied for third while the Braves are in that huge 10-way tie for fifth place (with teams like Baltimore and San Diego!?). Am I being a homer for thinking that’s utterly ridiculous?

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      • bsally says:

        I second Russell’s comment. Sorry if I’m coming across as rude, I am honestly just befuddled!

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      • bsally says:

        Bronnt just summed it up perfectly.

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      • frug says:

        I’m a Braves so I may be biased, but I honestly can’t see how the braves can be ranked behind Phillies and tied with the Red Sox in terms of future talent unless you are counting the teams ability to lock up young players once they become eligible for free agency, which seems like a financial area not future talent.

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      • frug says:

        Oh and sorry for the double post, but would you guys (FG writers) mind giving some justification for you rated teams. I don’t mean the process per se, but why individual writers gave Team X a rating of Y in category C.

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  3. Stu says:

    Behind the Yankees in Baseball Operations?

    WAT???

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  4. Firefly says:

    Interesting to see the Braves jump the Mariners in the rankings, I didn’t think it could be done.

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  5. Ryan says:

    They probably underestimated the future talent and over estimated the front office, but this is a good assessment of the organization.

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    • Brent says:

      Agreed. I think the Braves are getting a little too much credit for the baseball ops, which are very solid but have definitely had some questionable moves sicne FW took over. But this also definitely seems to under-value future talent. I am confused as to how the Braves, with a top 4 farm system and a major league club loaded with young, cost controlled high-end talent, rated below the Phillies or Yankees in the future talent category. If the teams could not add any talent between now and 2013, 14 and 15, the Braves would almost certainly be a better team than the Yanks and Phils. Or am I missing something on how future talent is measured?

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      • bsally says:

        Actually I think FW has done a tremendous job-I can’t really think of any colossal blunders he’s made. The last two trades he’s pulled off have been highway robbery, and the Vazquez deal looks better every time Vizcaino pitches. I’d certainly say he’s a better GM than Amaro.

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      • Anon21 says:

        I would still call the Gonzalez-Escobar trade questionable, and in the category of questionable non-moves, his deadline answer to the gaping chasm in the outfield last season was Rick Ankiel. (Granted, payroll may have played a role in keeping a real outfielder off the roster.)

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      • Deadpool says:

        Ankiel did what Wren asked him to do, hit a random home run here or there and not cost the team runs on defense. That was all that was realistically available for the Braves last season.

        That’s one question I’d like to ask the authors, because to me it seems like what would be a dumb move for the Yankees (here Ankiel) is actually a neutral at worst move for the Braves, just because of financial clout.

        As for Yunel for Gonzo, Escobar was a suspect before taking over for Renteria, and literally the only person I ever heard say anything good about him was from Bobby Cox. It was relatively reasonable to assume that he was cooked (and I’m still not convinced that his slight rebound at TOR wasn’t a dead cat bounce), and even if he wasn’t the Braves couldn’t afford to wait if they wanted to get back in the playoffs. Not to mention the spects that they got in that deal have looked pretty decent, I’m relatively exited over Pastornicky.

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      • bsally says:

        @Anon21-True, it was a bit questionable but they had a clear purpose in getting rid of Escobar and it’s not like they got ripped off. The Infante/Dunn for Uggla steal and this recent heist of Bullock more than make up for it.

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      • Alan says:

        It is fair to say that Ankiel lived up to what was expected of him, but that is not the problem. The Braves could have gotten more value (last season and in the future) if they had just kept Gregor Blanco. Both Wren trades were really bad last season, but overall he has done a solid job.

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      • Andy says:

        Alan, had Frank Wren not traded for Derek Lee last year, the Braves would not have reached the playoffs. You’re forgetting about that.

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  6. Hizouse says:

    Hmm, I must not understand what “future talent” means if the Braves are behind the Yanks, BoSox, and Phils. I suppose you could make the case for Yanks over Braves if Freeman, Minor, Beachy, Kimbrel count as “present” rather than “future.”

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  7. Russell says:

    Behind the Phillies and Yankees in future talent? What a joke.

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  8. Temo says:

    I’m a Braves fan, but I honestly don’t see the difference between the Braves and the Giants right now. Sure, Braves management is probably better than the Giants, but their financial resources, at least until Liberty unloads the team, greatly outstrip the Braves’.

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  9. Xeifrank says:

    I also had the Braves at #5Org. Recent playoff appearance with a projected high win total going forward. Thy have the #3 minor league system per BP. They get a lot of wins per the size of their payroll. Things are looking good in Hotlanta.
    vr, Xei

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  10. JMS says:

    Hizouse – I agree, and it is somewhat hard to place them behind TB in current talent if that is how we value players. One thing I’ve noticed from these rankings is that the top 6 teams are way ahead of the rest of the pack.

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  11. Chris says:

    How man World Series did the Braves go to in the 90s?

    “The Atlanta Braves look like the kind of team that could make the playoffs every year but get bounced in the first or second round — just like old times.”

    This article is poorly written. Yes, the Braves got knocked out a couple times in the 2000s early, but in the 90s, which you have to include in “old times” they went FIVE of the ten or 1/2 of the world series during the 1990s.

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    • Darrell says:

      Chris,
      There were only two rounds to the playoffs until 1995, so when the Braves lost in the World Series in 1991 and 1992 and the NLCS in 1993, that WAS “the first or second round.” Perhaps that shouldn’t count, but it is technically correct.

      In the 16 years since the advent of the Divisional Series in 1995, when it became exponentially harder to make it to the World Series, the Braves made the playoffs 12 times and were bounced in the first round 6 times, including 6 of the last 7 times dating back to 2000.

      They’ve made it out of “the first or second round” only once in the past 14 seasons, and that was 12 years ago.

      That being said, most teams are bounced in the first or second round nowadays, including the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels. But those teams don’t have the same combination of usually making the playoffs and rarely making the World Series, at least in the past 14 years.

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    • Check your math, Chris.

      As I’m sure you remember, there used to be just one round of the postseason, the World Series. That was the case until 1969, when the League Championship Series was inaugurated along with the splitting of the leagues into two divisions. Thus, from 1969-1995, there were two rounds of the playoffs. Then, in 1995, a third round was added, along with a third division in each league: the Division Series.

      So, in the Braves’ first three postseason losses of the 1990’s, they got bounced in the second round twice (the 1991 and 1992 World Series) and the first round once (the 1993 NLCS). After the advent of the NLDS, they appeared in the playoffs twelve times and got bounced in the first or second round in nine of them. (They lost in the second round three times — 1997, 1998, and 2001 — and lost in the first round six times — 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010.)

      More importantly for the spirit of the article, they have been bounced in the first round in each of their last five playoff appearances. It’s been a long time since the Atlanta Braves have won a playoff series.

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      • Chris says:

        You sort of dodged the fact that they made it to five world series in the 90s. Maybe you meant the 2nd round, as in the world series, as in the Jays were second round champs in 91, hooray! Obviously it has been a while since they won a playoff series, but I think most teams would be quite happy with the mid-90s Braves’ run.

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      • Hey, I was happy with it too. But, again, over the past decade their playoff history has involved getting bounced immediately.

        If you want, I’ll agree with you that maybe “old times” should have been changed to “sort of old times.”

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  12. Corky says:

    How can you fault Frank Wren for Jordan Schafer? He posted a .324/.378/.471 line in 21 spring training games in 2009 and then injured his wrist within the first handful of regular season games (and then concealed the injury).

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    • I fault Wren for not having a plan B. Schafer had played only a handful of games above Single-A, and spring training stats — as we all should know by now — are hugely misleading if not absolutely irrelevant.

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      • Deadpool says:

        He did have a plan B, he fired off a trade for Nate McLouth which actually turned out reasonably well that season. Nobody on this site pegged McLouth to fall apart last season and I don’t know how you can fault Wren for that going back to Schafer.

        I’d be pretty suprised if this year’s “plan b” isn’t named “operation trade Aroldys Viscaino”

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      • The McLouth trade was a good deal at the time, trading three pieces at the top of their value (Jeff Locke, Gorkys Hernandez, and Charlie Morton) for a player who appeared to be a reasonable major leaguer.

        Unfortunately, like every other Braves starting outfielder in the last five years (other than Jason Heyward), McLouth turned into a pumpkin when he got here.

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      • Deadpool says:

        Fair enough, but again I’m not sure if those are front office failings.

        Diaz/Langerhans looked like it was going to work for a while. BP and BA both said there was a decent chance Schafer was ready. Kelly wasn’t shifted from left just cause Giles left, he had TJ surgery and his already below average outfield arm became unplayable anywhere but 2b.

        Employing Francoeur for so long and Anderson at all were both mistakes, but that goes make to my earlier point about how statically the categories are defined, because some of these moves were dictated by a shrinking payroll that the front office had to work around.

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  13. Total Dominication says:

    Wait, how the hell are the Braves below the Sox in future talent? I mean, at least the Phils and Yankees are also really good in that department. The Sox have been ranked as having a farm in the 15-20 range.

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  14. Annan says:

    The future talent aspect needs to be expounded upon. It makes no sense to say the Braves rank behind the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox in future talent when Marc’s ranks them ahead of all three.

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  15. Mike says:

    The Braves being tied for 5th in future talent, which essentially makes them middle of the pack because of all the teams tied with them, is really silly. As has been said in these comments, Fangraphs rated the Braves Farm system as top 4, fangraphs touted the Braves pre-arbitration talent as “scary” in an article, and I am really not sure what else goes into this. When looking at Boston, Philly and the Yankees, I think most writers on this site agree that the Braves have better prospects and better team-controlled players going forward. I was assuming the Braves would rank first or second in future talent, which is clearly their biggest strength. What are we all missing here?

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  16. PaulV says:

    Yanks & Red Sox ability to buy free agents is their main source of future talent.

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  17. Bronnt says:

    I have an issue with this line:

    “Their 2010 essentially ended because of their lack of positional depth:”

    I thought the Braves had excellent depth last year, actually. They were able to compensate when they lost Chipper Jones in July-Martin Prado shifted to third base and they were able to compensate by putting in Omar Infante at second. They suffered a little bit, but were able to continue playing at a very high level after that. And heck, when Martin Prado went down, they were still able to insert a guy who’d put up .356 wOBA in 2010.

    They were able to sustain a playoff run despite horrid performances from their opening day starters in center field and left field also because they Eric Hinske on the bench. He ended up starting a lot of games for them and had a 1-WAR season off the bench. The five opening day players on their bench combined for 6 WAR-that’s pretty excellent.

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    • Russell says:

      Yea, what was easily the best bench in all of MLB last year has apparently turned into the reason they didn’t make it any further. This was an AWFUL article.

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      • Bronnt says:

        I disagree, I think it was mostly fair, but it’s disingenuous to describe the Braves’ bench as poor. Their problem wasn’t the lack of the depth, it’s that their injuries occurred at the wrong time. Every other team in the NL had all their starting position players healthy in October while the Braves were short Chipper Jones and Martin Prado. Give them either one of those guys back and they might have beaten the Giants.

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      • Russell says:

        David Ross, Hinske, Infante, and Conrad were all excellent. No team is going to be able to overcome the loss of two HIGH quality infielders like that.

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      • They had a great bench till the end of the year. But they had nothing on the farm — Diory Hernandez and Brandon Hicks qualify as “nothing.”

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      • Mr. wOBAto says:

        Alex if the Yankees had Lost ARod and Cano in the playoffs last year who would they have been running out at the Hot Corner?

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      • A stack of hundred-dollar bills held together by baling wire and Superglue.

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  18. Pat says:

    ‘grotesque cavalcade’ – love it.

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  19. GiantHusker says:

    I am perpetually tempted to admire the Braves and root for them as one of my 2nd or 3rd tier favorite teams until I watch one of their games and see (worse yet, hear) that stupid “tomahawk” thing. Then I hate them all over again.
    I hope they never make the playoffs again.

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    • Anon21 says:

      You are doomed to a lot of disappointment over the next 5 years.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Doesn’t every team has something “stupid” that is intended for their fans, and not necessarily the enjoyment of everyone else?

      Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand Rock Chalk Jayhawk more than most, but it’s no reason to hate the team. I mean there are plenty of reasons to hate the Jayhawks. *grin*

      Don’t be one of those guys that has 3rd Tier favorite teams.

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  20. Danmay says:

    Really there isn’t any material difference in these values for the last 5 teams. They might as well be scrambled and picked out of hats for the top 5 spots.

    Each one of commentary on these write ups has degenerated into a big whiny rant by the fan base on how come the team wasn’t ranked number 1. to all you braves fans hope you enjoy sitting in traffic for 1.5 hours trying to get to see your team play with the 28,000 paying customers in that big empty staduim you play in.

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    • deadpool says:

      I don’t know that that’s fair. It’s less about the Braves’ ranking and just a complete bafflement at how thus ranking was generated. This site and almost every other has pegged the Braves minor league system as better than the teams ranked ahead of them in future talent, and the pre-arb talent is there too. I don’t think they should be ranked ahead of any of the teams in front of them, but that one ranking makes it hard to respect these rankings.

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    • Ricky says:

      I’m going to go out on a limb here (not a very big limb, mind you) and say that you A: have never been to a Braves game B: been to Atlanta for that matter C: have a very low grasp on reality and D: are upset because you’re a Mets fan?

      However I do find your snark quite refreshing and original. You should look into doing this professionally.

      /sarc

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      • DR says:

        Ok — I’ll bite.

        Braves avg 30K in a staduim that fits 50K. Big and Empty. Braves have tons of fans….so why don’t they go to the game? Oh wait Atlanta is always in worst 10 cities to drive in, go ahead google it. So he got that right.

        Ricky, you have probably never been to Atlanta. Or are a douche bag. Or both.

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      • Ricky says:

        Meh, I’ll bite back.

        I live about 30 minutes away from Atlanta. I have had season tickets for the Braves for the last 3 years. Atlanta is a large city, thus some traffic. But if you’re in traffic for 1.5 hours, you’re probably in traffic at rush hour on a holiday afternoon or something dumb like that.

        Swing and a miss.

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      • DR says:

        Hah…30minutes away from Atlanta is like what…3 miles?

        And most games, believe it or not, start around 7-7:35. so if you want to get there to see BP then you are driving around rush hour.

        And the staduim is big and empty. where are all the people????

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      • Ricky says:

        DR: when you talk out of your ass such as you are, it really makes you look like an idiot.
        I have been to DOZENS of Atlanta Braves games in just the past few years alone. And not ONCE have I been stuck in traffic for any longer than a few minutes.

        As for attendance, Atlanta averaged about 31,000 per game, good for 14th in the MLB. Turner field is very large, as it was build to also play host to the 1996 Olympics, ever heard of it?

        However, judging by your posts and general demeanor, it strikes me that you are not at all concerned with real facts and figures…but merely spewing your baseless and preconceived notions about things you know absolutely nothing about.
        Anyhow, I have better things to do now. See you in another life, brother.

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      • DR says:

        I said 30K out of a 50K staduim — Big and Empty. I’m not sure which part you didn’t understand. go back and read. That 40% empty. Any way you shake it pal, that is big and empty.

        Atlanta has horrible horrible traffic. Please go look it up cause you obviously don’t live there. Here is an article from FORBES (but they obv have an anti Atlanta bias)

        http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/24/cities-commute-fuel-forbeslife-cx_mw_0424realestate3_slide_11.html?thisSpeed=undefined

        Forbes rated Atlanta worst in the nation in 2008. This shouldn’t even be an arguement. It is like you don’t believe the sky is blue.

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    • Bronnt says:

      “Really there isn’t any material difference in these values for the last 5 teams. They might as well be scrambled and picked out of hats for the top 5 spots.”

      Danmay, you’re clearly missing something with these rankings. The point values they’ve used (however arbitrary and confusing they seem) have generally been fairly constrained-several teams within a point of each other, average-ish teams not all that separated from the bad. So the Yankees, with an advantage over 2 points over Boston, are very far ahead of the field. And Boston is about 5 points ahead of Atlanta, which is a huge separation in this series, so the writers see some clear distinction between teams in the top 5.

      I can’t blame them, either-Atlanta’s current talent and financial resources are nowhere near Boston’s, and their Baseball Ops certainly aren’t as good (though they’re still pretty damn good). Can’t say I have an issue with that.

      My issue is that this attempt to make this more objective is really nonsensical. There’s some lack of clarification about “future talent.” If it was meant to be more than just prospects, then it’s hard to explain why only two writers voted in that area. And while the ultimate purpose of the rankings remains undefined as a whole, it’s difficult to assess exactly what we’re really learning from this-as high as Toronto and Baltimore are, it doesn’t seem to serve as indication of future success and playoff chances. Hence the confusion.

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  21. MBD says:

    Thanks for this piece, Alex, and, in particular, for the “I-85″ reference.

    On a gut level, I’m happy to see the Braves’ current talent ranked so highly, but I still worry that they’re asking too much of a rookie 1B, an out-machine SS with declining defense, a CF who belongs in left and may or may not recover from last year’s swing issues, and a LF who belongs in the IF.

    And, as you mention, the FO seems unable to identify and acquire decent outfielders; thinking that Francoeur was going to get sufficiently more selective or that Anderson was worth trying (and at the same time!) marks the Braves brass as pretty blind to the importance of not giving away outs. Add to that the frustration of watching the team also habitually fail to fill the easiest spot on the field, 1B, with someone who can hit, and I can’t help wondering if FG is overrating the FO a bit as well. There are only 3 teams with better FO’s than Atlanta?

    As many others have said, more needs to be said about how Atlanta got its ranking for future talent. You note that, although its pitching wealth is apparent, the system doesn’t have much positional talent in the upper minors. Is that the reason the Braves’ are lower than we expected? Some kind of TINSTAAPP penalty?

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    • Deadpool says:

      See now, that would make sense. If at some point someone who voted were to just say “The Braves may have more minor league talent than some teams ranked ahead of them in that area, the fact that there are no standout position prospects high in their system hamstrings how much that talent can impact their MLB roster.” I’d be pretty happy.

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  22. Anthony says:

    Braves vs Phillies
    Finance-Phillies obviously
    Current talent-MAYBE Philly, they aren’t deep at all and are super old
    Future Talent-Braves, easy
    Baseball Ops-Braves, easy, Ruben hasn’t done shit except for sign huge contracts with newfound money after all the success the Gillick-built team had.

    Atlanta wins this one and it actually isn’t that close.

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    • Gobo says:

      Current Talent — Maybe? Really–I’m not a Phils fan, but I don’t get this comparison. By next year or thereafter we can re-evaluate but current talent isn’t close. philly in a landslide.

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      • Anthony says:

        Rank the pitchers. What is it? Halladay, Lee, Hanson, Hamels, Hudson, Oswalt, Lowe, Jurrjens, Minor, Beachy, Blanton? Phillies win there, but Atlanta’s pitching is good enough to keep every game close. Lineup? I’d go with Atlanta’s youth and depth. Bullpen? Is this even close?

        Philly’s rotation isn’t just a strength, it’s their lifeline. If any of the big 4 faulters, then that rotation looks very normal for a playoff contender. The Giants, even with the big four, probably have a better rotation. Everyone has looked at past success and said the Phillies have the greatest rotation of all time. I’m not so sure at all.

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      • Max says:

        That is silly. It isn’t jus that Halladay and Lee ‘rank’ higher, it is that the difference in value between them and the guys on your list are so vastly different. And really two rookies ahead of Blanton? That is a bit much to ask for guys in their first year making 20+ MLB starts.

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  23. Anthony says:

    As far as “no position prospects” that doesn’t really matter. McCann, Prado, Heyward, and Freeman are all really young. If they need a solid bat they can trade 1 MiL SP and some fillers. Their “future talent” is only behind KC and maybe TB.

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  24. cs3 says:

    Alex-

    can you please get all the fangraphs writers together so you guys can figure what exactly qualifies as future talent, what is present talent, and how much each category is worth in your rankings?

    and if you giys DID actually already decide, and had an answer to this question before all the write ups were complete,can you please post that info here?
    so far, nobody seems to have a clear idea. thanks.

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  25. bvillebaron says:

    I realize that it is an inexact science, but I follow the prospects in the minor leagues fairly closely and this article might be the first I have seen that ranks the Phils minor league talent as being better than the Braves. To each his or her own.

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