Pastornicky Took One For The Team

My first thought after hearing Braves Tyler Pastornicky had been sent down was, “I hope his terrible beginning doesn’t define the rest of his career.” It would be unfortunate considering few expected the 22-year old to do much more than hold the fort, if that, as a rookie in Atlanta. And even though the results (-0.9 WAR) in 45 games ranked Pastornicky as the lowest performing shortstop in baseball, it does not mean he can’t rebound to have a long career at the big league level in some capacity. After all, Pastornicky opening the season as the starting shortstop was more a matter of timing than his truly being ready to contribute from the start.

Yesterday, Ben Duronio, resident expert on all things Braves discussed Pastornicky’s replacement in Andrelton Simmons and why he’s needed in Atlanta right now. He was spot on in his assessment, so no questions there. However, the comments section included this gem worth discussing in greater length.

Although I think the Braves are a well run organization, opening camp with Pastornicky was deeply flawed and had too much of a “wait and see” approach. Old School evaluations like “makeup” (son of a major leaguer) and batting average (with a ridiculous .398 BABIP in his brief and only AAA appearance last year) thrust Pastornicky in a role he is not and likely will not be suited for.

For starters, the Braves organization had little-to-no money to work with this past off-season as exemplified by the Derek Lowe deal to free up a win’s worth of salary space when the sinker specialist was likely to produce at levels near his salary number. Additionally, the Braves purged another half dozen veterans from the roster while signing only a pair of inexpensive bench pieces in Jack Wilson (as a backup to Pastornicky) and Eric Hinske. In all, the Braves brought their payroll down approximately 4.5 million dollars over the previous year.

Conversely, aging shortstops in Jimmy Rollins and Rafael Furcal landed multi-year deals averaging between eight and 11 million dollars annually with 38-year old Jamey Carroll receiving more per season than both Braves major league roster signings combined. To say the organization acted in a deeply flawed manner is to assume the Braves had an interest in being a player in the shortstop market to begin with. Based on their off-season moves, that assumption simply has no basis in fact.

For me, the Braves organization acted both fiscally and developmentally responsible by playing Pastornicky to start the season. In essence, Pastornicky is not going to block a better defensive shortstop such as Simmons from overtaking him at the position. At the same time, a multi-year commitment to any shortstop in an attempt to win now when an unquestioned plus defensive shortstop is present and producing at the minor league level can create a situation where already limited resources are not utilized to the maximum. In this case, regardless of results, playing Pastornicky at a minimum salary when his upside was unlikely to be affected whether he produced or not was the correct call.

Of course the argument against this is Pastornicky is only 22 and must have room for additional growth due to minor league production, age-versus-level and how far away he is from his prime. However, few, if any would refute Pastornicky being a player whose present skills trump tools which are really the driving force behind future projection.

In taking one for the team, Pastornicky bought Simmons an additional 200 plate appearances at the Double-A level which seems relatively insignificant on the surface, but went a long way in showing the top prospect was ready for Atlanta. This season, Simmons’ numbers in Mississippi weren’t nearly as hollow as in 2011 as a 10% walk rate and better isolated power leave at least a glimmer of hope he will not be completely overwhelmed at the major league level. Of course defense is Simmons’ trademark, but his strong start with the bat has likely calmed any fears within the organization of his being thrown into the proverbial fire stunting his offensive growth.

Regardless of his struggles and Atlanta’s current place in the standings, the Braves decision to play Pastornicky was not a total loss when reflecting on the current state of the organization as a whole. As for Pastornicky, Mark Anderson reported a scout compared the shortstop to Willie Bloomquist in a previous piece. And for as nondescript as Bloomquist has been during a 1.4 WAR career spanning 2,601 plate appearances entering today’s action, a utility skill set with the ability to fill in at shortstop has led to a major league career spanning 11-years and counting. I suspect Tyler Pastornicky would be okay with that.



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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


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Alex Remington
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Agreed totally.

Piccamo
Guest
Piccamo
3 years 11 months ago

If Pastornicky wasn’t ready, why couldn’t they sign someone like Bill Hall, who has had some success at the ML level and experience at shortstop? He signed a minor league deal this offseason, was released, and signed another minor league deal and has been up and down since. He wouldn’t have blocked anyone, wouldn’t have required multiple years, and would have been cheap.

harperhill
Guest
harperhill
3 years 11 months ago

Bill Hall at 2B *might* be half-decent, but Bill Hall at SS would not seem like a good idea at all.

RC
Member
Member
RC
3 years 11 months ago

I don’t think it’s fair to say that Pastornicky “wasn’t ready”. I do think it’s fair to say he wasn’t ready to be the everday SS for a team with World Series hopes, but to me that’s a different level than Major League ready. He would be a fine starting SS in a market where the team isn’t expected to compete this year, and he could learn while getting everyday ABs at the major league level. But the Braves are not currently a team in that situation.

Additionally, while it’s now established that he wasn’t ready to contribute at that high of a level, it was certainly not a sure thing that he wasn’t prior to the season, and worth it to the Atlanta front office to give him a 2 month trial period to find out how could he could be at the major league level. I’d say there was at least a 20% chance going into the season that he could exceed expectations and stick in Atlanta for the entire season. But that 1/5 chance didn’t materialize, and the player who is replacing him (Simmons) performed at what is likely his top 20% expectation in AA. With those factors combining, it’s obvious why Atlanta is making the choice they are at this time, but the process that went into these decisions should not be viewed as flawed simply due to the results.

Brent
Guest
3 years 11 months ago

I’m not sure Patornicky will ever be a starting SS for a contender. Defense tends to peak earlier in a career, so this might actually be the best Rev has to offer defensively. I suspect the Braves will look to make him a 2b or utility guy and hope the bat improves enough to play there.

I have a feeling the Braves pitchers are about to get “hot” and, I don’t know, “get in a groove” for the rest of the season. Maybe Minor’s strand rate will even go above 50%.

Chip Caray
Guest
Chip Caray
3 years 11 months ago

Well, you’ll get no argument from me on that. It sorta feels like the Braves starting pitchers are really about to flip the switch and get mentally locked in, I think that’s probably going to be a result of feeling better about their stuff and just going out there and playing baseball.

Andy Braves Fan
Guest
Andy Braves Fan
3 years 11 months ago

I bet pastornicky could play better 2b defense than Dan Uggla. With Chipper’s retirement, I would imagine that Martin Prado is the 3b heir. Uggla to LF, Pastornicky to 2b? I don’t think it is too late for Pastornicky to prove he can start at the big league level. He is only 22!

Just a thought.

Luke M.
Guest
Luke M.
3 years 11 months ago

Yeah that’d be a fantastic infield defensive alignment. It’s been discussed in Braves circles a bit, but a lot depends on Bourn’s contract status and whether or not the team can afford to carry both Simmons and Pastor’s bat in the lineup.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
3 years 11 months ago

Down the line, Pastro is the Brave’s next Omar Infante. Super utility, will hit for high average a few years in his career, gap power, etc.

sansho1
Guest
sansho1
3 years 11 months ago

I would equate shortstop defense with being a rookie NFL running back — the necessary skills, while perhaps not refined, are apparent at the outset. While it seems as though Pastornicky’s defensive troubles may have gone to his head, I didn’t see the athletic tools necessary to become a top-flight SS. Andrelton, by acclamation, appears to have those tools.

But Pastornicky was higher on the development ladder, and since Simmons didn’t win the job outright in spring training the correct call was made. The entire chain of events is consistent with a belief that the Braves viewed Simmons as the long-term answer, and while I wouldn’t have wished Pastornicky’s struggles on him, I believe it may have worked out for the best.

RMD
Guest
RMD
3 years 11 months ago

Thanks, Mike.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
3 years 11 months ago

I just feel bad for Pastornicky. Since it’s basically Simmons’ job, at this point, he’s not going to displace him. The Braves are unlikely to move Dan Uggla off of second base. This was probably his only chance to win a starting job within the organization, probably, and it happened because he was rushed into it. He’d need to hit like crazy to end up with another full time opportunity to start somewhere.

Bob
Guest
Bob
3 years 11 months ago

I read a tweet from Dave O’Brien just now (quoting Frank Wren) that the Braves will try Pastornicky at 2nd, SS and even the outfield while at AAA.
I think he just needs time (like most 22 year olds) to develop his skills, and we will see in the majors again, though probably not until 2013.

Josh
Guest
Josh
3 years 11 months ago

The 3B who’s name escapes is the young power-hitting Edward Salcedo.

Juan Chapa
Guest
3 years 11 months ago

Pastornicky was given an opportunity. Unfortunately, he was not
ready, his youth and inexperience being the biggest handicaps.
I believe that if he returns to the minors with an open mind and
an attitude to learn and gain experience, he’ll be ready next time.
There have been numerous more talented minor league players
blocked by such stars as Cal Ripken, Jr., Brooks Robinson,
Bob Gibson, etc., that did not receive or were given an opportunity
late in their careers. At least Pastornicky received an opportunity,
and hopefully he positively acknowledges it, and returns to the
minors bent on improving. I have a feeling that the next time
he returns to a pennant contender, he just might make a
difference.

Brian
Guest
Brian
3 years 11 months ago

I think the best anyone can hope for out of Pastornicky is a league average bat and above average defense at 2nd base. He doesnt have a future at short, and i dont see his hitting developing to anything extraordinary. If the Braves are forced to move Uggla to LF at some point, then Pastornicky reaches the major with the Braves again…other than that, I think he is going to be a Sept callup or addon in a trade until his time with the Braves runs out.

Pacoheadley
Guest
Pacoheadley
3 years 11 months ago

Was his defense really as bad as his UZR makes him look? I could be wrong, but I thought he was known as a decent defensive shortstop. Were those numbers fluky, or did he really play that bad?

Josh
Guest
Josh
3 years 11 months ago

Yes, he was that bad. Weak arm, terribly weak. No skills around the bag, and the range of a 14 year old cat.

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
3 years 11 months ago

His defense was not acceptable at shortstop. He was a typical second baseman playing short.

cavebird
Guest
cavebird
3 years 11 months ago

The other comments on his defense are correct, and I think it got to his head, because at the end, he started making bad mental mistakes like booting routine grounders and throwing to the wrong base multiple times. I think he has a great future as a utility guy or a second division starter as others have said.

nolan
Guest
nolan
3 years 11 months ago

Way to be on point with the responses, Mike Newman. I enjoyed your article. I agree that this isn’t the last we see of Tyler Pastornicky.

dc
Guest
dc
3 years 11 months ago

The escobar trade is the gift that keeps on giving. thank you so much bobby cox for that wonderful retirement gift. Thank the lord that we took the necessary steps to clear the club house of the 4 WAR team cancer with the team friendly contract

/sarcasm

brandon
Guest
brandon
3 years 11 months ago

Bobby was a players manager to the core, and by all accounts I’ve heard and read the players hated him, thus bobby had no use for him either.

deadpool
Guest
deadpool
3 years 11 months ago

That’s too revisionist. Escobar wasn’t anything special in the minors, came up at a higher age, and he was only average for a year. Then a year and a half long power spike turned him into a premier player. He’d been awful for the first half if the season and anybody who doubted that Escobar would really settle in as more than an above average player was entirely reasonable. You don’t put up with the kind of stuff he was apparently bringing to the club house for just above average.

sansho1
Guest
sansho1
3 years 11 months ago

Yunel was tanking, and being a moody prick while doing so. Nobody has to like his manager, but everyone has to play hard.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
3 years 11 months ago

The assumption that Yunel would still be producing in ATL is bogus. He wasn’t. Believe it or not, moods do change your level of play. If he was unhappy and the boys didn’t like him either, I can see him playing worse. Not only that, but perhaps he got a fire lit under his ass when he got traded and started playing and training harder because of the trade.

Don’t act like the Braves were stupid for trading him. He wasn’t doing anything for them. I’m happy that he has been good for the Blue Jays. I love watching them. I just think it’s ridiculous to assume he would have been as productive in ATL.

thebravestway
Guest
thebravestway
3 years 11 months ago

From what I saw of Pastornicky and from looking at his numbers I would compare him to Yuniesky Betancourt. Statue like range, poor hands, and would rather be set on fire than take a walk.

What do you think the ETA is on Pastornicky becoming a Royal?

Billy James
Guest
Billy James
3 years 11 months ago

Simmons pretty much had the SS job wrapped up towards the end of Spring Training. Even though he didn’t have a single AB above A ball he impressed enough of the right people he was ready.

He then suffered an injury and was shut down. He started this year on the DL in AA. He had some time to make up and play his way back into shape. As he made up for lost time with the glove and was getting good abs against AA pitching Bruce Manno was getting nice reports on Simmons.

As the reports were getting better and more frequent a decision was made to promote him to Atlanta. The decision was based more on well Simmons was handling himself than on how Pastornicky was not. This decision was made purely because Simmons is a far superior player and his time was now. That is not a knock on Pastornicky.

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